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Papal Infallibility

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 
Ok here is where I'm getting lost on the idea of Papal Infallibility. For approximately what? 1800 years the Church existed without this concept. I don't understand how Christian dogmas which had a history of being decided by ecumenical counsel for so long and then that got tossed aside for papal infallibility. I've read the passages that are used to support it in the bible but if that was the case why wasn't implemented from the beginning?
post #2 of 43
My understanding is that it always existed, but it wasn't defined until 1870. So, Peter had papal infallibility when speaking ex cathedra on matters of faith and morals.

Having a definition helps clarify what what is dogma versus what is one pope's opinion. Since pope's are human and can be corrupt, the notion is that the Holy Spirit will not allow falsehood to become official church teaching.

There's a pretty good article in the Catholic Encyclopedia here.
post #3 of 43
Thread Starter 
If that was the case, why were there any ecumenical counsels to decide what to include in the creed for instance? What I don't get is why there was a long history of counsels to decide and then not anymore. If the pope was supposedly infallible all along then why even meet with the Bishops and discuss such important issues as the creed ect? Additionally if the pope was supposedly always infallible why wait 1800 years to decree at Vatican 1?
post #4 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arduinna View Post
If that was the case, why were there any ecumenical counsels to decide what to include in the creed for instance? What I don't get is why there was a long history of counsels to decide and then not anymore.
There still are--like Vatican II, most recently. There hasn't been an ex cathedra statement made by a pope since the affirmation of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in 1950. Not even JPII made any ex cathedra statements, to my knowledge. The popes' encyclicals and other writings are not considered ex cathedra unless a pope specifically says he is speaking from the chair of Peter.

The New Advent article I posted in my previous reply says that ecumenical councils can also issue infallible statements, but their infallibility comes through the power of the pope, who convenes such meetings. (See Section III, Part A on Ecumenical Councils.)
post #5 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arduinna View Post
Additionally if the pope was supposedly always infallible why wait 1800 years to decree at Vatican 1?
Well, one could say the same thing about waiting until 1870 to officially proclaim the Immaculate Conception. It's something that always existed, and was generally accepted, but was never made absolute.

This is just my two cents, but I think "our" time and "God's" time don't always seem to mesh up. For us, 1800 years is a long time! But for God, his plan unfolds in perfect time. I suppose there must be a balance between faith and understanding, which is easier said than done.
post #6 of 43
Thread Starter 
Oh I just thought of this too.

If the pope was always infallible then why the need to add the filoque? Why wasn't it included in the creed from the begining if the pope was infallible wouldn't he have known that from the beginning?

I think we are using different definitions. When I say ecumenical counsels I mean the original first 7 that included the Bishops of Rome, Constantinople, ect. I'm not referrring to Vatican one and two which was just a counsel of the Pope and Catholic Bishops.
post #7 of 43
I'm too tired to put together any coherent thoughts right now . . . I'll check back in on this thread tomorrow. I love that your questions get me thinking!
post #8 of 43
I remember reading an article (or maybe I heard it on an apologetics program) not too long ago that stated that there were/are many aspects of Catholic teaching that there were/are generally assumed/accepted. It's only when there's a controversy, or disagreement that comes to a head that the Pope speaks out in a way to define a doctrine such as Papal Infallibility or the filoque. I'll try to find where I learned this because it was put much more eloquently than I can!
post #9 of 43
I think it might have been a program by Michael Voris that I'm thinking of. Here's a link to his podcasts:
http://www.podcast.catholictelevision.org/totf.php

The wikipedia article (which you may have already consulted) is pretty good, too:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papal_infallibility
Instances of the pope speaking infallibily are extremely rare:
Quote:
Regarding historical papal documents, Catholic theologian and church historian Klaus Schatz made a thorough study, published in 1985, that identified the following list of ex cathedra documents (see Creative Fidelity: Weighing and Interpreting Documents of the Magisterium, by Francis A. Sullivan, chapter 6):

"Tome to Flavian", Pope Leo I, 449, on the two natures in Christ, received by the Council of Chalcedon;
Letter of Pope Agatho, 680, on the two wills of Christ, received by the Third Council of Constantinople;
Benedictus Deus, Pope Benedict XII, 1336, on the beatific vision of the just prior to final judgment;
Cum occasione, Pope Innocent X, 1653, condemning five propositions of Jansen as heretical;
Auctorem fidei, Pope Pius VI, 1794, condemning seven Jansenist propositions of the Synod of Pistoia as heretical;
Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX, 1854, defining the immaculate conception; and
Munificentissimus Deus, Pope Pius XII, 1950, defining the assumption of Mary.
Regarding the filioque:

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filioque_clause:
Quote:
Although there were earlier hints of the double-procession of the Holy Spirit, including an expression in the Athanasian Creed and a dogmatic epistle of Pope Leo I[3], it was first officially added to the Nicene Creed at the Third Council of Toledo in 589.[4] This was done primarily to oppose Arianism, which taught that the Son was a created being and which was prevalent among the Germanic peoples. This version of the Creed was accepted by the local Visigothic rulers, who had been Arians until then.
For me, the Acts account of Pentecost is the best support for the filioque (Jesus breathing on the apostles and saying receive the Holy Spirit).
post #10 of 43
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I ended up going to bed because I had a feeling I wasn't expressing myself correctly, or not using the right terminology.


Not enough sleep last night so I'll come back later, thanks for the links ChasingPeace.
post #11 of 43
it has not always been the norm.

The pope was the first in *honor* among *equals*. He got one vote just like all the other bishops at councils and only the majority vote of a council was infallible. there was no one man who could speak for God. However being in a place of honor people really put a lot of weight on his words. The idea that he had authority over other bishops or that he was more important was foreign though. The pope thinking he was higher or more special and especially thinking he could speak infallibly on his own is one of the things that led to the great schism and eventually to Rome leaving the rest of Church.
post #12 of 43
Thread Starter 
I'm thinking it was Patriarchates but I could be wrong. IIRC they were in Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Jerusalem and Antioch. Although the one in Constantinople wasn't an original one from the first counsel, IIRC.

And yeah that is what I'm confused about. Thanks for wording it better than I did. If he had always had one vote and they decided things together then what happened with the filioque?

And the Catholic Encyclopedia link says only the Pope has the right to call counsels, yet that wasn't the case from the beginning. Constantine himself called the first counsel. :

If he was always infallible why the history for hundreds of years of the Pope only having one vote like the other Patriarchs? And why the change from having 1 vote to him having the only say? Or should I say, making decisions without the counsel.
post #13 of 43
post #14 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilyka View Post
The pope thinking he was higher or more special and especially thinking he could speak infallibly on his own is one of the things that led to the great schism and eventually to Rome leaving the rest of Church.
Bolding mine.

Reread this and it caught my eye. This is precisely what I'm having an issue with. The idea of him making decisions on his own and abandoning the traditional ecumenical counsel that included the other Patriarchs ( hoping that is the right word, but not sure) and making dogma on his own.
post #15 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Finally, when the dogma was met with its first vote, eighty-eight voted against it, ninety-one bishops refrained from voting, and sixty-two voted yea only conditionally. The opposition departed from Rome before a second vote was taken rather than be called upon either to support the hated dogma or personally offend the Pope by voting negatively.

"With all opposition dispersed, the ultramontanists sealed their triumph in the final vote with still two negative voices on July 18th, 1870.
From Spero's link. I hadn't heard anything about this before. hmmm
post #16 of 43
Interesting stuff. One thing about church teaching is that it is similar to law in that it is dynamic. In common law, we have foundational documents but the law is not set in stone or frozen in time--it develops and changes as new challenges and modern situations confront the law. So it is with church teaching. So I'm not necessarily bothered by the fact that a church teaching was not present from early on, but has developed. Isn't that where the belief that the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church comes into play?
post #17 of 43
Have you read what Catholic.com says? http://catholic.com/library/Papal_Infallibility.asp

Don't forget, you can also sign up in their forum and ask more specific questions of one of the apologetics

Quote:
This is just my two cents, but I think "our" time and "God's" time don't always seem to mesh up. For us, 1800 years is a long time! But for God, his plan unfolds in perfect time.
I agree with this. 1800 years is nothing in the larger scope of things!

I like the way the catholic.com article puts it-

Quote:
The infallibility of the pope is not a doctrine that suddenly appeared in Church teaching; rather, it is a doctrine which was implicit in the early Church. It is only our understanding of infallibility which has developed and been more clearly understood over time.
Which can be said of many Church Doctrines.
post #18 of 43
When I first decided I needed something beyond the shallowness of the church I was at my only real option was Catholicism. however there were some things I just couldn't wrap my head around. One of them was papal inafallibity. the more I studied the history of the church I began to se how it all unfolded and he never had the supreme power in the early church. it was much much later that he started claiming he was more than just a bishop. blah blah blah long story short it all led me to the Orthodox church. it contained all the good but none of the doctrines that bothered me.
post #19 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arduinna View Post
Oh I just thought of this too.

If the pope was always infallible then why the need to add the filoque? Why wasn't it included in the creed from the begining if the pope was infallible wouldn't he have known that from the beginning?
The Filioque was added right at the time the Pope was making the final break with the Eastern Orthodox bishops. Possibly this change, along with establishing a celibate priesthood, were used to emphasize that the Pope now had individual authority over the newly separated, Western/Catholic church.

Quote:
I think we are using different definitions. When I say ecumenical counsels I mean the original first 7 that included the Bishops of Rome, Constantinople, ect. I'm not referrring to Vatican one and two which was just a counsel of the Pope and Catholic Bishops.
As you say, decisions about Church doctrine and such were made by a council for all those centuries. That is one reason why I can't see any basis for the idea that the central authority (let alone infallible authority) of the Pope was always a belief in Christianity.
Another reason is that the idea of papal infallibility, when it was introduced in the 1800s, came as such a shock to most Catholics of the time, and was so hard to elicit support for among the clergy. It was obviously a very new concept to laypeople and clergy alike.
post #20 of 43
Thread Starter 
It seems like the bottom line is coming down to:

Gods time is different and this was revealed in his time.

The Pope only comes out with infallible statements when he needs to define teachings that are in controversy.

The first one isn't really cutting it for me for this particular topic though. Not sure why. And the second one, while it makes sense on the surface, it doesn't make sense on the issue of the filioque. Because the previous ecumenical counsels had already outlined the dogma and were in agreement ( including the Pope at that counsel) that the holy spirit proceeded from the father, period.

If the Pope is infallible then I just find it hard to believe that God held back the info that the holy spirit proceeds from the father and the son for over 1000 years. The creed that includes this is recited at the Divine Liturgy, Mass ect and it's part of the foundational definition of the Trinity. It just doesn't make sense to me that God would hold back the filioque for so many years. Maybe it's one of those things you have to take on faith? If that is the case, I'm not sure how I can do that.
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