The Doctrine of Papal Infallibility

What is the doctrine of "Papal Infallibility" The First Vatican Council has defined as "a divinely revealed dogma" that "the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra -- that is, when in the exercise of his office as pastor and teacher of all Christians he defines, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, a doctrine of faith or morals to be held by the whole Church -- is, by reason of the Divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer wished His Church to be endowed in defining doctrines of faith and morals; and consequently that such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable of their own nature (ex sese) and not by reason of the Church's consent" --Infallibility at the Catholic Encyclopedia [1913]

Infallibility belongs in a special way to the pope as head of the bishops (Matt. 16:17-19; John 21:15-17). As Vatican II remarked, it is a charism the pope "enjoys in virtue of his office, when, as the supreme shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, who confirms his brethren in their faith (Luke 22:32), he proclaims by a definitive act some doctrine of faith or morals. Therefore his definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly held irreformable, for they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, an assistance promised to him in blessed Peter." --Papal Infallibility - at Catholic Answers

Papal infallibility is one of the great differences between Catholicism and Protestantism. Very few seem to be aware of the awesome implications of this Catholic dogma. Hopefully, this brief summary will illuminate them. Regarding papal infallibility the present-day Roman Catholic Church says... --Papal Infallibility - by Dan Corner

Papal Infallibility at the First Vatican Council in 1870 To the mind of the general reader, mention of the Vatican Council will usually recall two facts: that it was the occasion of the definition of the doctrine popularly called Papal Infallibility, and that many of the bishops present were opposed to the definition. The more erudite will add that their opposition was not to the doctrine itself, but to the policy of choosing this present moment to proclaim it--the definition, they would say, was held not "opportune." ... The leading critics of the "definition policy" were French, German, and Hungarian --CHAPTER 20

Following the first Vatican Council, 1870, a dissent, mostly among German, Austrian and Swiss Catholics, arose over the definition of Papal Infallibility. The dissenters, holding the General Councils of the Church infallible, were unwilling to accept the dogma of Papal Infallibility. Many of these Catholics formed independent communities which became known as the Old Catholic Church.

At the First Vatican Council he was one of the most notable opponents of papal infallibility, and distinguished himself as a speaker. The pope praised Strossmayer's "remarkably good Latin." A speech in which he defended Protestantism made a great sensation. Afterwards another speech, delivered apparently on 2 June, 1870, was imputed to him. It is full of heresies and denies not only infallibility but also the primacy of the pope. The forger is said to have been a former Augustinian, a Mexican named Dr. José Agustín de Escudero. --Joseph Georg Strossmayer, the Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913

See also, the entry for Papal Infallibility at the Wikipedia encyclopedia project.

Links ...


  • Infallible? : An Unresolved Enquiry
    by Hans Kung - expand edition (November 1994)
    (ISBN: 0826406785)
  • Power and the Papacy : The People and Politics Behind the Doctrine of Infallibility
    by Robert McClory (a reporter for US Catholic and a professor of Journalism at Northwestern University) ISBN 0-7648-0141-4 (October 1997) Published by Triumph, An Imprint of Liguori Publications

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