A clarification on papal infallibility

A clarification on papal infallibility

This is what happens when you try to be concise in describing something. I guess you can’t use shorthand when talking about papal infallibility. You must describe it in more than one sentence or there’s ambiguity and accusations of error and all that.

So here’s what I should have said in the post about the Pope’s publishers (as provided by a friend):

  • Before his election to the papacy, Joseph Ratzinger was not simply a theologian. He was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which can issue documents as part of the Church’s magisterium. These documents are not infallible, but they include more than the views of a theologian.
  • It is not true to say that, by virtue of his office, the pope is invested with the divine protection of papal infallibility whenever he teaches on matters of faith and morals. Popes can err in teaching on matters of faith and morals. They cannot err with defining as divinely revealed or to be definitively held matters pertaining to faith or morals. But that isn’t the same as saying they can’t error in teaching on faith and morals.

Is that better?

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • “Is that better?”

    It is, Dom, but I don’t think anyone accused you of error (unless perhaps that happened off blog).  Angus simply said your statement might be misconstrued and I affirmed that your intention was clear, but open to misunderstanding.

  • And by the way, a pope’s legislation in the matter of discipline
    .  Regarding celebration of the Mass, altar girls, or implemation of V2 texts

  • What about encyclicals?  Are they always infallible, never infallible, or infallible only if the pope issuing them says they are?

  • Time for a “teach-in” on the Magisterium and infallibility.  Here are the relevant paragraphs from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:


    2032 The Church, the “pillar and bulwark of the truth,” “has received this solemn command of Christ from the apostles to announce the saving truth.”  “To the Church belongs the right always and everywhere to announce moral principles, including those pertaining to the social order, and to make judgments on any human affairs to the extent that they are required by the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls.”

    2033 The Magisterium of the Pastors of the Church in moral matters is ordinarily exercised in catechesis and preaching, with the help of the works of theologians and spiritual authors. Thus from generation to generation…the “deposit” of Christian moral teaching has been handed on, a deposit composed of a characteristic body of rules, commandments, and virtues proceeding from faith in Christ and animated by charity. Alongside the Creed and the Our Father, the basis for this catechesis has traditionally been the Decalogue which sets out the principles of moral life valid for all men.

    2034 The Roman Pontiff and the bishops are “authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ….”  The ordinary and universal Magisterium of the Pope and the bishops in communion with him teach the faithful the truth to believe, the charity to practice, the beatitude to hope for.

    2035 The supreme degree of participation in the authority of Christ is ensured by the charism of infallibility. This infallibility extends as far as does the deposit of divine Revelation; it also extends to all those elements of doctrine, including morals, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, explained, or observed.

    2036 The authority of the Magisterium extends also to the specific precepts of the natural law, because their observance, demanded by the Creator, is necessary for salvation. In recalling the prescriptions of the natural law, the Magisterium of the Church exercises an essential part of its prophetic office of proclaiming to men what they truly are and reminding them of what they should be before God.

    2037 The law of God entrusted to the Church is taught to the faithful as the way of life and truth..therefore [they] have the right to be instructed in the divine saving precepts that purify judgment and, with grace, heal wounded human reason.  They have the duty of observing the constitutions and decrees conveyed by the legitimate authority of the Church. Even if they concern disciplinary matters, these determinations call for docility in charity.

    2039 Ministries should be exercised in a spirit of fraternal service and dedication to the Church, in the name of the Lord.  At the same time the conscience of each person should avoid confining itself to individualistic considerations in its moral judgments of the person’s own acts. As far as possible conscience should take account of the good of all, as expressed in the moral law, natural and revealed, and consequently in the law of the Church and in the authoritative teaching of the Magisterium on moral questions. Personal conscience and reason should not be set in opposition to the moral law or the Magisterium of the Church.

    Note particularly paragraphs 2035 and 2036, as well as the final line of the passage.

  • People talk about the “non-infallible teaching” of the Pope or bishops, as if it somehow did not require the obedience of faith.  In fact, Vatican II tells us that the appropriate response to teachings of the Church is “religious submission of mind and will.”

    The specific exercise of the charism of infallibility by the Pope, which was defined at the First Vatican Council, has only occurred twice to date (the definition of Papal Infallibility in 1870 and the definition of the Dogma of the Assumption in 1950).  Are we to credit these two as the only items of faith that we MUST believe?  Ridiculous!

  • Still, nothing in those passages addresses what a Catholic is to do or think when pope contradicts previous pope.  And unfortunately that is the predicament of Roman Catholicism today.

  • Does the “which one” matter?  Are some encyclicals more valid than other encyclicals?

    My own particular area of interest is ecumenism and freemasonry.  Pre-Vatican II popes held a different position on the Protestant denominations than post-Vatican II popes.  To list the specific encyclicals, I’d have to look in the file; but anyone who reads a range of ideas in Catholic blogdom and surfs the web knows about the conflicts, so I’ll trust that you don’t need specific encyclicals here.

  • No, Carrie, I do need specifics.  Assume that I’m a troglodyte, and that I know nothing.

    Frankly, I don’t think the definitions that have been profferred by the “post Vatican II popes” have ever jumped from “no” to “yes” on anything.

    Has there been development of doctrine?  Yes.  And you may want to read Henry Cardinal Newman’s excellent essay on that before you insist that the Church has changed her mind on something important.

    By the by, I’d trust less in “blogdom” and more in the actual texts.  “Blogdom,” unlike ex cathedra statements by the Holy Father, is not guaranteed infallibility.

  • Carrie,

    A Theologian in Rome once described the truth of Divine Revelation in this way:  Like the dome of St. Peter’s it looks small in the distance, as if it would fit into the palm of your hand, but as you get closer it gets bigger and bigger ultil eventually you can’t see the whole thing at once.  It is impossible to capture fully, in human words, the Divine Word because it is just so big, infinitly big.  Thus what the popes have taught can’t be understood without understanding what perspective the are looking at an issue from. That is why a Catholic can say that Extra Ecclesia Nulla Salus is both a doctrine of the faith and a formal heresy and not contradict themselves.  If you are looking at the Church as strictly a visible institution, then to say this, i.e. that those who are outside of the institution can’t be saved is a heresy.  Of course from a different perspective, which understands the Church in both its visible and invisible natures, a perspective which understands the Christological identity of the Church, you can easily say this and yet still admit the possibility of the salvation of a searching agnostic, a virtuous pagan, or a protestant Christian.

    Prior to Vatican I “protestants” were seen in many ways as the Church’s biggest threat, and in that context, from that perspective, the Church pointed out that just as Dominus Iesu is necessary to salvation so is his mystical body, the Church.  After Vatican I and especially at Vatican II the Church realized that other “separated” Christian’s were no longer the biggest threat in the modern world, rather they were and are potential allies in a fight against the various secularist ideologies of the past three centuries.  It is a matter of perspective as you can see.

    Peter’s charism in ever age is thus not to be right about everything, but to be right when it counts, in matters that are essential to the survival of the orthodox/Catholic faith. Thus Popes can contradict each other, they can also emphasis different aspects of the same truth in a way that seems to some contradictory, and in these matters Catholics owe obedience to the living Pope.  However they cannot contradict on matters which they or their predessors deem essential to the Faith.

  • In reviewing a book by John T. Noonan (who suggests the same pre-Council and post-Council change), Avery Dulles argues Observer’s point. It’s here in First Things:

    Well, forgive me for being frank, but my take on Cardinal Dulles’ analysis of the changing outlook on slavery sounds painfully similar to the kinds of nuancing of truth that have come out of the sexual abuse scandal.

    I’m a black and white kind of person.  It troubles me to live in a gray kind of Church.  I don’t want to see bishops spin Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter and document of homosexuality in the priesthood, and I don’t want to see “no” spun into “yes” in other areas either; and frankly, that’s how I read the evaluation of slavery presented.  My sympathies lie with the author of the book. 

    In this particular time in Church history, there is little tolerance left for spin out of our chanceries.  They have used up their own quota and the quota allotted to the next generation of bishops as well.  That spills over into other areas of the faith.

  • No, Carrie, I do need specifics.  Assume that I’m a troglodyte, and that I know nothing.

    If I thought I were talking to a troglodyte, I wouldn’t bother answering!

    Ok, let’s take one instance that I find disturbing—Mirari Vos (On Liberalism and Religious Indifferentism) Pope Gregory XVI, promulgated August 15, 1832.

    13.  Now We consider another abundant source of the evils with which the Church is afflicted at present:  indifferentism.  This perverse opinion is spread on all sides by the fraud of the wicked who claim that it is possible to obtain the eternal salvation of the soul by the profession of any kind of religion, as long as morality is maintained.  Surely, in so clear a matter, you will drive this deadly error far from the people committed to your care.  With the admonition of the apostle that “there is one God, one faith, one baptism” may those fear who contrive the notion that the safe harbor of salvation is open to persons of any religion whatever.  They should consider the testimony of Christ Himself that “those who are not with Christ are against Him,” and that they disperse unhappily who do not gather with Him.  Therefore “without a doubt, they will perish forever, unless they hold the Catholic faith whole and inviolate.”  Let them hear Jerome who, while the Church was torn into three parts by schism, tells us that whenever someone tried to persuade him to join his group he always exclaimed:  “He who is for the See of Peter is for me.”  A schismatic flatters himself falsely if he asserts that he, too, has been washed in the waters of regeneration.  Indeed Augustine would reply to such a man:  “The branch has the same form when it has been cut off from the vine; but of what profit for it is the form, if it does not live from the root?”

    14.  This shameful font of indifferentism gives rise to that absurd and erroneous proposition which claims that liberty of conscience must be maintained for everyone.  It spreads ruin in sacred and civil affairs, though some repeat over and over again with the greatest impudence that some advantage accrues to religion from it.  “But the death of the soul is worse than freedom of error,” as Augustine was wont to say.  When all restraints are removed by which men are kept on the narrow path of truth, their nature, which is already inclined to evil, propels them to ruin.  Then truly “the bottomless pit” is open from which John saw smoke ascending which obscured the sun, and out of which locusts flew forth to devastate the earth.  Thence comes transformation of minds, corruption of youths, contempt of sacred things and holy laws—in other words, a pestilence more deadly to the state than any other.  Experience shows, even from earliest times, that cities renowned for wealth, dominion, and glory perished as a result of this single evil, namely immoderate freedom of opinion, license of free speech, and desire for novelty.


  • Continued from previous combox…

    It would be rather hard to assert that human nature has changed and no longer seeks “license of free speech and desire for novelty” since the encyclical was promulgated.  Yet Vatican II proclaimed religious liberty and the popes since have promoted ecumenism and interreligious dialogue.  Gregory XVI would be horrified.

    While I can easily understand and even sympathize with the argument Melanie made for the book she reviewed in another post here in Dom’s blog which proposed freedom of religion for all, what I can’t do is sympathize with it in the light of Mirari Vos.  Yet it would appear that the popes since Vatican II do sympathize with religious liberty, and even suggest that parts of the faith can be found in other religions, and they may even be sufficient to save the adherents to those faiths.

    Black cannot be white.  Yes cannot be no.  Catholicism cannot be found in Hinduism.  The First Commandment tells us there is such a thing as a false god.  This is hardly social teaching that can change over time.  This is the most basic tenet of the faith, and the current climate resulting from the teachings of the Council blurrs the understanding of Who the Trinity is.

  • A Theologian in Rome once described the truth of Divine Revelation in this way:  Like the dome of St. Peter’s it looks small in the distance, as if it would fit into the palm of your hand, but as you get closer it gets bigger and bigger ultil eventually you can’t see the whole thing at once.  It is impossible to capture fully, in human words, the Divine Word because it is just so big, infinitly big.

    Fine.  God is mystery.  He will always be beyond our best hope of comprehension.  Still Jesus gave us a system of belief that He considered sufficient to cling to, and sufficient to guide our decisions.  He gave us a faith that is simple enough for a child to comprehend. 

    If we are now being presented with an incomprehensible faith, whose fault is that?

  • That is why a Catholic can say that Extra Ecclesia Nulla Salus is both a doctrine of the faith and a formal heresy and not contradict themselves.

    I am a rationalist.  I believe in the principle of non-contradiction.  Does that mean I cannot also be a Catholic?

  • He gave us a faith that is simple enough for a child to comprehend.

    No one ever said Catholicism is simple. It’s complex. This is why people kept breaking off in schism. Protestantism is simple by comparison. The Protestants thought Catholicism was making it all to difficult and hard to understand and they wanted their religion simple and uncomplicated. The Bible alone, they said!

    God is a mystery and there’s no human way to understand his every capacity.

    The question comes down to this: when I don’t understand why the Church is teaching something, which is more likely to be true? That I don’t understand or that the Church is wrong?

    At some point you bow your intellect before the mystery and accept it.

    I know it’s not a satisfactory answer, but ironically it’s the work of the Enlightment and modernism that declares we must always have a satisfactory answer.

  • I would say that Fides et Ratio says that we should be able to find a satisfactory answer.

    Pray, pay, and obey worked until the laity learned how to read and the printing press made reading material available; and if those weren’t enough, the web is the clincher.

    The days of blindly trusting the Church were ushered out when the bishops played musical parishes with child abusers.  Like St. Thomas, these days I’m a “show me” kind of Catholic, and what you show me needs to be convincing.  Even Cardinal Ratzinger had reservations about Assisi.

    If the Church has never been wrong, what were those apologies about?  The Church in Her humanness can apparently be wrong.  There are no guarantees against a repeat.  I’d prefer not to be among the misled—especially where the nature of the God I worship is concerned.

  • Carrie,

    My example of “extra ecclesia…” is not meant to present a contradiction, but rather a truth that is more profound than some might like to accept.  This is the truth with most aspects of the Catholic faith: Mary (a creature) is the Mother of God (Creator); Jesus is God (Creator) and He is Man (Creature); the Church is Visible and the Church is invisible—are any of these statements contradictory to you???  They certainly aren’t easy!!  “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” (1Cor 1:25) Our faith and our reason work together and bring us real knowledge about God and about his plan, but whenever we speak about the realities of the Godhead or the divine plan our reason, aided by grace, can only hope to scratch the surface.

    As St. Thomas, Lateran IV, and the current Catechism (see below) state clearly when speaking about God the no similitude can be expressed without implying an even greater dissimilitude”;[Lateran IV: DS 806] If we understand that the Ecclesia is the mystical body of Christ and thus tied up in the mystery of God then to some extent you can extend this to words spoken about the Churh.

    CCC #43 Admittedly, in speaking about God like this, our language is using human modes of expression; nevertheless it really does attain to God himself, though unable to express him in his infinite simplicity. Likewise, we must recall that “between Creator and creature no similitude can be expressed without implying an even greater dissimilitude”;[Lateran IV: DS 806] and that “concerning God, we cannot grasp what he is, but only what he is not, and how other beings stand in relation to him.”[St. Thomas Aquinas: Summa Contra Gentilies 1, 30]

  • “I would say that Fides et Ratio says that we should be able to find a satisfactory answer.”

    Fides et Ratio says there is a satisfactory answer… not necessarily that we have yet found it. Or that all of us will have the capacity to understand it when it is found.

    My sister and husband have studied theology, they have a gift for understanding such things. I can understand quite a bit, but there are some heights to which my meagre intellect will not reach. Even more humbling to me is when my super smart sister talks about being humbled by theologians she can’t quite grasp. Maybe to the St Thomas Aquinases of the world these things are clear, but maybe some of us do not have the gifts given to St Thomas. Maybe things appear grey to us because we can’t grasp them.

    It seems to me intellectual pride to assert that you have to be able to understand everything you come across. Even the great Aquinas believed at the end of his life that all of his books were dross and requested that they be burned. God gives some of us the even greater gift of knowing that we cannot know Him fully in this life. If we could, there would be no mystery.

    Ultimately we must trust in Christ’s promise that he will send his spirit to watch over his church and the gates of hell will not prevail against her. Christ told us that we were to be like little children. When doubts cloud our minds and things seem grey, we should exhibit humble, childlike trust in the Church and in the Pope. The Church is our sweet mother on earth and the Pope is our spiritual father. Sometimes to children their parents seem arbitrary and contradictory, but it is only because they are lacking in the maturity to grasp things that are beyond them.

  • Melanie,

    Your argument would hold a lot more weight if we had a history of holy popes.  We don’t. 

    The gates have prevailed repeatedly in various places here on earth down through the centuries.  Currently the gates are prevailing in China.  Are they in the process of prevailing in America?

    We are in the midst of a serious sexual abuse scandal with evidence that the Vatican was aware of the extent of the scandal, yet did nothing.  That inaction undermines the trustworthiness of even a pope. 

    Cardinal Ratzinger’s refusal to partake in the Assisi event brings into question the activities of the previous pope in this very area of concern.

    Pope Paul VI’s “Smoke of Satan” speech gives us a good idea that something is seriously wrong in Rome.

    We have bishop opposing bishop.

    Another book has been written claiming that JPI was murdered and saying the evidence is in Vatican documents.

    In the midst of such a situation one would be a fool to trust blindly.  We are expected to judge by fruits, and the fruits are rotten.  The Church in Europe is falling apart.  The Church in America is in crisis.

    Scripture tells us there will be a Great Apostasy near the end of the world.

    We are told to observe the signs of the times.  What those signs tell me is to be very very wary of any change that does not sound consistent with the Tradition of the faith down through the centuries.

    Ecumenism and interreligious dialogue are not consistent.

  • The gates have prevailed repeatedly in various places here on earth down through the centuries.  Currently the gates are prevailing in China.  Are they in the process of prevailing in America?

    The promise that the gates of hell will not prevail did not promise that the Church would always and everywhere be healthy. The Church as a whole is not overcome by Satan, but individuals and dioceses in certain places, even whole countries could succumb. It’s part of free will.

    Your appeal to rationalism is very interesting. Rationalism is a construct of modernism. It is not something of the Church. Rationalism would reject the mystical and supernatural.

    Perhaps, just perhaps, Carrie, you don’t have all the answers. Perhaps you—and I—are not capable of discerning how these things fit. You can ask questions all you want but when it comes down to it, which is more likely to be true: That four popes and an ecumenical council are in conformity with Tradition or that your assessment, based on an incomplete understanding, that the Church is not united in the Holy Spirit as Christ promised is true?

  • The Church in Western Civilization is not healthy.  Surely you and I both know that as a given. 

    Fides et Ratio deals with rational knowledge, indicating we can use it to understand the faith and come to know God.  God gave us a brain.  We’d be fools not to use it.  My brain tells me that things are not logical on the ecumenical front.

    Considering that Scripture describes a Great Apostasy and that the Arian Heresy lasted for a hundred or so years, I think there is a real possibility that four popes and a council could reside in error on some topic of the faith.  Vatican II was pastoral.  It did not claim to propose any new doctrine.  Yet what we see is new doctrine.  Tradition is the guardian of the faith.  When Tradition is overthrown, the laity must question.

    If the faith is so mysterious and obscure that neither you, a Catholic editor, nor I, a member of the laity who has spent thousands of hours reading and writing about things Catholic for the last eight years, can hope to learn the truth, then we both believe in a God who is out to deceive us.

    As you can see, I don’t buy this argument that God is unknowable to the extent that we must believe whatever those in authority tell us is true.  Even an Apostle refused to do that.  If the laity is being looked to by Rome to help reverse the crisis, we had better hope that the laity will be thinking and questioning a whole lot of what is happening in the Church today.  Otherwise, what use are they?

  • we both believe in a God who is out to deceive us

    He’s not out to deceive us. It’s just too complex for us to understand fully. Do you understand completely the quantum-level functioning of the atom? No? Then is God deceiving us about how the universe works?

    I think there is a real possibility that four popes and a council could reside in error on some topic of the faith.

    Congratulations, that makes you a Protestant. It’s already been explained to you that you think is a contradiction is not. If you think you’re own understanding trumps everything else, then you have set yourself up as your own magisterium.

  • Carrie:  Where is this “Church” about which you speak?

    It seems not to be, for you, where we have traditionally understood it to be (viz. ubi Petrus ibi ecclesia).

    After all this, is it only you, then?

    If so, dear heart, I agree with Domenico:  you may be some variety of fundamentalist, but you are certainly not a Catholic.

  • Carrie:  Where is this “Church” of which you speak? 

    Certainly you maintain that, for you, it is not where we have traditionally found it (viz. ubi Petrus ibi ecclesia)

    After all this, then, is it just you?  Are you the Church, the Truth?  Is it you who is definitively connected with the Bridegroom?

    If so, dear heart, I must agree with Domenico:  You may be a fundamentalist of some sort, but you are definitely not a Catholic.

  • ….folks, I have clearly not understood the concept of “Page Two.”

    Please excuse my confusion which resulted in a second posting.

  • Carrie,

    Your argument is absolutist. I did not say that nothing is understandable by reason, merely that not all matters of faith are necessarily understandable by all people.

    I have observed before that you have a blind spot when it comes to this issue of ecumenism. I merely assert that on this particular issue you in particular have a blind spot.

    RFP’s prior argument explaining why what you perceive as a contradiction is truly not one is satisfying to me and to Domenic and to others on this thread. It is not satisfying to you.

    Again, you have set yourself up in judgement against four popes and a council of the Church. I concede that we have had unholy popes. However, none of them taught error on matters of faith because they were too busy in their personal life and secular affairs. No pope has ever changed the doctrine of the Church. No pope can. The Holy Spirit won’t allow it.

    The Church may be sick here and in Europe, individual bishops may go astray; but the Church herself will never be conquered. Christ has promised it.

    You seem to be giving in to intellectual pride on one hand, insisting that if you cannot understand something, then it must be wrong, and to despair on the other.

    My advice is to stop worrying over this issue. Stop reading about it. It is only leading you away from your faith. Trust in Christ, that He will continue to send His Spirit to guide His Church. It is not your responsibility to seek out error. Quite frankly, I do not think you have the training on this particular issue to form a sound judgement. You are by your own acknowledgement self taught on this issue.

    Studying theology can be a dangerous matter, it can imperil your soul. So any good theology teacher will tell his students. My sister has been told that every semester that she has studied it.

    The danger is exactly that of intellectual pride. You can see in recent history many theologians have set themselves up as their own private magesterium, against that of the Church.

    It seems to me, when you begin to say that the Church is teaching error, that you are heading down this path.

  • Ok.  Fine.  Let’s just leave it there that since I’m capable of reading and noticing that what was declared anathema in the past has been declared the way of truth today, I’m a Protestant and I’ve set up my own magisterium.

  • Ok. Fine.  Let’s just leave it there.  Since I can read and take note of the fact that what was anathema in the past has become the way of truth today, I’m a Protestant and have set up my own magisterium.

  • Well according to the great new ecumenical religion that most of you here seem to be espousing, why should Carrie be concerned if she is a Protestant?

    Surely according to the “new doctrine” of Vatican II, the Protestant religions are also valid means of salvation.  Therefore Carrie should have no concern about setting up her own magisterium.

    In one post she is criticized for going against the principle of “ubi Petrus ibi ecclesia”, and in another she is patronised for not knowing that the Church is some sort of borderless phantom to which all kind of pagans may belong due to the salvific efficacy of invincible ignorance.

    So which is it guys? Give her some consistency – are you ecumenical or not?

  • Andrew,

    You’ve set up some fine straw men there and dismantled them nicely. Unfortunately, what you claim we’ve said bears no resemblance to what we actually said. You’ve also misrepresented Church teaching from before, during, and after Vatican II.

  • For the record:
    Ex Cathedra: “There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which no one at all can be saved.” Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, 1215. (Denz. No. 430)

    Ex Cathedra: “We declare, say, define and pronounce, that it absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” Pope Boniface VIII, The Bull Unam Sanctam, 1302.  (Denz. Nos. 468, 469)

    Ex Cathedra: “[The most Holy Roman Church] firmly believes, professes and teaches that none of those who are not within the Catholic Church, not only Pagans, but Jews, heretics and schismatics, can ever be partakers of eternal life, but are to go into the eternal fire, “prepared for the devil, and his angels,” (Mt. xxv, 41) unless before the close of their lives they shall have entered into that Church; also that the unity of the Ecclesiastical body is such that the Church’s Sacraments avail only those abiding in that Church, and fasts, almsdeeds, and other works of piety which play their part in the Christian combat are in her alone productive of eternal rewards; moreover, that no one, no matter what alms he may have given, no one, even if he were to shed his blood for Christ’s sake, can be saved unless he abide in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.  Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441. (Denz. No. 714)

  • What does it mean to be “inside” the Church? What does it mean to be “subject to the Roman Pontiff”?

    If we believe in papal infallibility then popes and councils cannot contradict each other. Either what Vatican II and the popes since then have said is reconcilable with their predecessors or the Church is not protected from error.

    I can reconcile those statements satisfactorily.

  • You may be satisfied with your own reconciliation, but I, and I suspect others here as well, are not.

    Ex Cathadra:  “Now We consider another abundant source of the evils with which the Church is afflicted at present:  indifferentism.  This perverse opinion is spread on all sides by the fraud of the wicked who claim that it is possible to obtain the eternal salvation of the soul by the profession of any kind of religion, as long as morality is maintained.”  Mirari Vos, Encyclical of Pope Gregory XVI, Aug. 15, 1832.

    Ex Cathadra:  “These pan-Christians who turn their minds to uniting the churches seem, indeed, to pursue the noblest of ideas in promoting charity among all Christians:  nevertheless how does it happen that this charity tends to injure faith?  Everyone knows that John himself, the Apostle of love, who seems to reveal in his Gospel the secrets of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and who never ceased to impress on the memories of his followers the new commandment “Love one another,” altogether forbade any intercourse with those who professed a mutilated and corrupt version of Christ’s teaching:  “If any man come to you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house nor say to him:  God speed you.”  Mortalium animos.  Pope Pius XI, June 1, 1928.

    Ex Cathadra:  “There has never been a time when this watchfulness of the supreme pastor was not necessary to the Catholic body; for, owing to the efforts of the enemy of the human race, there have never been lacking “men speaking perverse things” (Acts xx. 30), “vain talkers and seducers” (Tit. i. 10), “erring and driving into error” (2 Tim. iii. 13). Still it must be confessed that the number of the enemies of the cross of Christ has in these last days increased exceedingly, who are striving, by arts, entirely new and full of subtlety, to destroy the vital energy of the Church, and, if they can, to overthrow utterly Christ’s kingdom itself.”  Pascendi Dominici Gregis, Pope Pius X, Aug. 9, 1907.

  • To those can be added all of the statements by popes back through the centuries starting 21 years after the first masonic lodge was formed.  Every one of those condemned what is being approved now.

    Albert Pike’s entire 800+ pages of MORALS AND DOGMA is one long and frightfully boring interreligious dialogue which posits that the wisdom of god, the perennial philosophy or ancient wisdom as it’s called today in interreligious circles, is contained in all of the world’s religions.  The lodge provides the ultimate generic god in the Grand Architect of the Universe who can be worshipped by all no matter which faith they subscribe to.  The lodge honors whatever sacred book the majority of its members proclaim.  Sometimes two books from two different religions are placed in honor upon the masonic altar.

    JPII also appeared to see efficacy in the gods of other religions at Assisi.  Did he believe that the gods those people prayed to had the power to bring peace about?  Did he deceive those people into thinking that he so believed when in fact he didn’t?  Did he believe in two mutually exclusive ideas at the same time? 

    Ecumenism and interreligious dialogue raise a whole host of unanswerable questions.