The Catholic Catechism on Papal Infallibility

This is what the Catholic church claims:

In order to preserve the Church in the purity of the faith handed on by the apostles, Christ who is the Truth willed to confer on her a share in his own infallibility. By a “supernatural sense of faith” the People of God, under the guidance of the Church’s living Magisterium, “unfailingly adheres to this faith.”

The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithfulwho confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium,” above all in an Ecumenical Council. When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine “for belief as being divinely revealed,” and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions “must be adhered to with the obedience of faith.” This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.

[From Catechism of the Catholic Church]

Check out the Vatican’s official site sometime. It’s good to be aware that it exists, and I have to admit I think the design is pretty cool—even though it hasn’t changed much for a long time.

Author: Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

1 thought on “The Catholic Catechism on Papal Infallibility”

  1. Did a little research and this is what I discovered:

    Infallibility means more than exemption from actual error. It means exemption from the possibility of error. The Church is infallible in her teachings of faith and morals.

    The Church is infallible in her objective definitive teaching regarding faith and morals, not that believers are infallible in their subjective interpretation of her teaching. This is obvious in the case of individuals who may err in their understanding of the Church’s teaching

    The Catholic Church’s teaching on papal infallibility is one, which is generally misunderstood. Papal “infallibility” is not “impeccability.” Infallibility is not the absence of sin. Vatican II explained the doctrine of infallibility as follows: “Although the individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, they can nevertheless proclaim Christ’s doctrine infallibly.”
    “ If God bestowed the gift of prophecy on Caiphas who condemned Christ (John 11:49-52; 18:14), surely He may bestow the lesser gift of infallibility even on unworthy human agents. It is, therefore, a mere waste of time for opponents of infallibility to try to create a prejudice against the Catholic claim by pointing out the moral or intellectual shortcomings of popes or councils that have pronounced definitive doctrinal decisions, or to try to show historically that such decisions in certain cases were the seemingly natural and inevitable outcome of existing conditions, moral, intellectual, and political. All that history may be fairly claimed as witnessing to under either of these heads may freely be granted without the substance of the Catholic claim being affected.”

    The pope’s personal opinions and beliefs can be wrong. In addition the pope is human, he can sin and make mistakes even in the way he governs the church. However, the gift of infallibility from the Holy Spirit builds up the body of Christ.

    The pope only speaks infallible when he teaches ex-cathedra – from the char of Peter.
    Three conditions must exist for the pope to make an infallible statement.
    1. He teaches as a pastor of all the faithful.
    2. He intends to use his full authority in an unchangeable decision.
    3. The subject is a doctrine pertaining to morals.

    Infallible teaching is rare. It is the pope’s power or gift as successor of Peter to teach correctly Christ’s revelation, especially when that revelation is being attacked or denied.
    impeccability

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