Thursday, 6 May 2010


The very word produces a great deal of confusion, hostility and misunderstanding among many people, even Catholics. How can one man or an institution claim infalibility when sin abounds, judgements are erroneous, and man is weak?

Our Good Lord promised to be with His Church, His Bride until the end of time, He would not leave His little ones to suffer from the prowling lions or the ravenous wolves. Once He had ascended to where He had come, He sent the Paraclete to enlighten the darkened minds of the Apostles to lead them into all truth and declare God's message of salvation to all nations. Christ cares for each soul, and if only one soul were to enter heaven, He would still have laid down His life for its salvation, therefore if the Church were to defect from the faith, the incarnation would have been in vain. As Scripture testifies to, the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth. The Angelic Doctor wrote, '"There are three things necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do.". The Holy Spirit must then preserve the faithful from being polluted by errors that will the soul into hell. As the Church of Rome is the very foundation (built upon the true foundation of Christ), she must be guarded from heresy, and the faithful must cling to her with tenderness and submission.

This is what we mean by the charism of 'infallibility'. Let us not mistake this for 'impeccability', which is the ability of not sinning. The Holy Father, who I dearly love, has and can sin, he can cause scandal and put his soul at risk, yet the Holy Spirit protects the faithful from being bound to error.

Extraordinary Infallible Magisterium ("Solemn Magisterium"):
This can be either a papal announcement where the Roman Pontiff, who in his office of Successor to Saint Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, the Vicar of Christ, solemnly proclaims a matter of faith and morals to be bound upon all. Also attached to this is a warning that if any one were to dare to reject this teaching, they would be cut off from the Church since they have fallen away from the Faith and abandon eternal life. This is what we mean by 'ex cathedra', out of his seat, that is, his position of God-given authority as the earthly Head of the Church, the keeper of the keys.

The First Vatican Council states:

'We teach and define that it is a dogma Divinely revealed that the Roman pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, by the Divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals, and that therefore such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves and not from the consent of the Church irreformable.'

The Roman Pontiff, can not contradict Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition or previous infallible pronouncements by predecessors. This charism is very rarely used however, and is not as some think, a license to assert whatever one wishes to advances one's temporal power.

A more common way to declare dogmas of the Faith is that of the Ecumenical Councils. In the history of the Church, there have been 21 Councils, beginning in AD325 in Nicea, until the Second Vatican Council in 1962-65. A Council in order to be considered infallible must have the approbation of the Supreme Pastor for any decrees, and within this assent, no matter how many bishops wish to proclaim something, it can not be done. The bishops, although sucessors to the Apostles, must be united under the Bishop of Rome. The truths proclaimed must be adhered to by the faithful, or will sufffer condemnation.
The Second Vatican Council was not, as some seem to assert, a super-council that trumps and exalts over all others. This Council was called for purely pastoral reasons and proclaimed no dogmas whatsoever that were not held previously by the people of God. Errors were in the documents, and a flattering acceptance of the supposed 'progress' of humanity is contained within. There are numerous ambiguities in which have brought about serious confusion and disorientation written in the documents.

Ordinary Infallible Magisterium ("Constant Magisterium" or "Universal Magisterium"):

When the popes, bishops and priests teach the faith in accordance with the deposit of faith (the faith delivered to the saints once and for all, until the death of the last Apostle, John), and with what has always and everywhere been taught by the Church.

Merely Authentic Ordinary Magisterium:

This is the everyday teaching of the popes, bishops, priests and those authorised to present the faith, and if it does not fall into either of the two above categories, it may contain error. An obedience is due to this teaching, as we cling to Holy Mother Church to preserve us from being tossed around by any wave of doctine, unless it contradicts Sacred Tradition or is harmful for the salvation of souls. Resistance must occur if any teaching contradicts the Faith.

Protestants believe that Paul, Matthew, Peter, Jude, John, Mark, Luke, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Moses etc were infallible from writings the Sacred Books, so why can not the Holy Spirit preserve the Pontiff from proclaiming error?

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