Definition: The belief that the Pope cannot err when he defines a doctrine concerning faith and morals that is binding upon the whole church. The doctrine of papal infallibility was formally pronounced at Vatican Council I in 1870, but is held to be retroactive to the first (alleged) Pope, Peter. Papal infallibility is one of the three streams of infallibility in Catholicism, – the doctrine produced in ecumenical councils and the universally held teachings of the popes and bishops are also deemed infallible. Together, they constitute the infallible magisterium (teaching authority) of the Church. Since 1870, only one “ex Cathedra” (from the chair of Peter) pronouncement has been issued by a pope: the dogma of the Assumption of Mary to heaven. Infallibility should not be confused with impeccability – the pope can and does sin.
Discussion: It is the word of God that is true (Jn. 17:17). The popes and the Catholic Church err in many doctrines, such as how a person is saved, transubstantiation, purgatory, and indulgences. The doctrine of infallibility is itself an obvious error that was perpetrated under duress at Vatican I. Any who deny papal infallibility are placed under an anathema by the Catholic Church.
Articles & Viewpoints:
- Q & A by Dr. Joe Mizzi – Infallible Interpreter