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.
March/ April 2019
Recent Blog Posts
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- Blog: 13.02.18Over at First Things a transcript has appeared of the 2017 href="https://www.firstthings.com/events/2017-erasmus-lecture">Erasmus Lecture given at the end of last year by Bishop Robert Barron on the subject of “reaching the nones”, that is those who self-declare as being of “no religion”. The whole piece is definitely worth reading, a...Read More
- Blog: 28.01.18The recent Channel 4 News interview of Jordan Peterson, professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, by journalist Cathy Newman is currently trending high on YouTube and various Social Media platforms. The 30 minute interview rapidly covers a lot of ground; the difference between the sex...Read More
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- Blog: 30.12.17Fr Chris Findlay-Wilson made the below defence of priestly celibacy in the Catholic Herald (15th Dec., letters):"a fresh witness of true love is desperately needed; that it is love – not sex – that fulfils us as human beings." This is a point often made by Fr Holloway, ...Read More
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