Papal Infallibility refers to the fact that the Pope is divinely preserved from teaching error in his formal teaching on faith and morals. It flows from the divinity of Christ in the Church. God is infallible, and He has irrevocably entered the human realm by becoming man. The Church is the continuation of this Incarnation, continuing Jesus’s “But I say to you” in her teaching and continuing his healing and life-giving touch in her sacraments.
The Office of Peter (the ecclesial role assumed by the man who becomes head of the Church) involves the ability and responsibility to define truths concerning doctrines of faith and principles of morality, especially to “confirm the brethren” (Luke 22:32) when there is disagreement on important issues. The first exercise of formal papal infallibility was St Peter’s statement “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” which Jesus himself confirmed was uniquely inspired “not by flesh and blood but by my Father in Heaven.” (Mt 16:17)
Thus papal infallibility is effectively exercised when according to the “manifest meaning and intention” (Vatican II, Constitution on the Church, n.25) of the teaching, the Pope invokes the authority of Christ to confirm and define a traditional doctrine of faith or morals. It is an essential gift to the Church in order to maintain the impact of the Incarnation, and the consequent unity in truth and charity.
September - October 2017
Recent Blog Posts
- Blog: 08.08.17We are all aware of the horror of the terrorist attacks in recent years and of the senseless attack outside the mosque in Finsbury Park, London. It is inspiring how brave those who work in the emergency services are and how strong the community support has been in all these cases. As Christians, ...Read More
- Blog: 12.01.17
- Blog: 13.12.16
- Blog: 09.10.16On his blog and in a recent Catholic Herald piece (9.9.16) Bishop Robert Barron offers some excellent reflections upon a recent Pew survey looking at reasons why young people are leaving Christianity in droves. He well shows how Roman Catholic leaders and teachers are dangerously underestimating ...Read More
- Blog: 23.08.16
- Blog: 08.08.16On 23 June 2016 a referendum was held in which a narrow majority of voters in the United Kingdom (nearly 52%) voted in favour of leaving the European Union, the so-called “Brexit”. This contrasts with the large majority (67%) who had voted to join the then European Community in 1975. ...Read More