Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What does “infallibility” mean?

Many people assume that because the pope can speak “infallibly” that we Catholics think he’s always right. For example, if the pope says 1+1=3 then it must be true! In reality, that’s not what infallibility means.

Infallibility is the prevention from teaching error. This is different from “always being right”. If a pope didn’t know the answer to 1+1, and he where infallible about mathematics, he would be prevented from answering the question. The question would remain unanswered until a pope came along that knew the answer. That’s how infallibility works.

Infallibility also has nothing to do with being sinless. Some people think that because many popes have been sinful (well, all popes have been sinful, who am I kidding?) that they must not be infallible. The fact is that being sinless is not a requirement for teaching infallibly; they aren’t related at all.

We’ll talk more about infallibility at another time. However, it’s important to understand that the pope cannot just make stuff up and it’s therefore true. The Holy Spirit protects from error but doesn’t guarantee that the correct answer will be given.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the pope has claimed infallibility since what 1800's ? It is dangerous because as you have read, a pope can come up with a new dogma where other popes did not, by simply saying other popes DID NOT KNOW. The fact is other popes rejected two dogmas on Mary:the assumption and immaculate conception. I guess the other popes just did not have the right answer. So when early popes say writings about Mary's assumption were forgeries and heretical,they gave no new dogma and hence were still infallible.What a muddled mess.You can always claim tradition,even though others have rejected any dogma on it.This papal infallibility is dangerous and has claimed two new dogmas at odds with earlier popes, as i repeat myself cause I still can not believe the self elevated,circular reasoning .What is next ? I hear a small group of Marionists are pushing for a third dogma on Mary (co redemptrix and queen or something). Just get the pope to speak ex-cathedra on it ,it will be signed, sealed and delivered as infallible, and that every heart consent to this perfect "old"truth. Did you not know sometimes it takes God 2000 years to reveal truth to his beloved church / IT IS IF SCRITURE WERE STILL "OPEN" AND DOGMA CAN BE ADDED.