Papal Infallibility

Saying that something *won’t *happen is an opinion, and is very different from saying that it *can’t *happen. It is the latter that seems to be what is being asserted in this thread.

Times change, politics change, and the culture changes. Who would have thought 30 years ago that in our time, in the USA, a man would legally be allowed to marry another man? Yet here we are. Could slavery return? In the right political context, very possibly. We may not be able to see it from where we are now, but in 50 years, who knows?

The current pope is obviously a very different thinker than his predecessor, and seems much more inclined to allow the church to be directed by the culture, rather than resist the culture, as it has often done in the past. The next pope may be very different again. Who knows what the next pope’s thinking might be, or the pope after him? To arbitrarily rule out as impossible a frivolous use of ex cathedra proclamation seems intellectually presumptuous at best.

The Council of Constance did declare that a council of bishops is superior to a single bishop even if that single bishop happens to be the Bishop of Rome. Of course, the Pope Martin V, the Pope chosen by the council never accepted that proclamation, and neither did any of his successors. It’s not accepted Church doctrine.

Although two of the Popes did resign, Pope Benedict XIII never did. He probably had the best claim to the title of Pope of the three since he was made cardinal by Gregory XI, the last pontiff who ruled before the split. The Church however, classifies him as an Anti-Pope.

Before the Council of Constance was the Council of Pisa. This Council disposed of two claimants by excommunication. However, neither of the two recognized their excommunication, and both had large blocks of countries backing them. The Council of Pisa actually made the schism worse by selecting a third pope.

Although officially, a Pope can’t be forced out of office, political pressure can force a Pope out, and Councils have been called that have disposed of pontiffs when the need arrises. If enough of the Church hierarchy backs this council, and the pope is unpopular enough, he will be disposed of one way or another.

However, before you envision new fights (No, you’re excommunicated!. No, you are!) understand that the pope isn’t just some random dude. The College of Cardinals chooses him from those who are well known, have administrative experience, and understand that he needs to be conservative in running the church. Popes aren’t going to run around and randomly make red pants declarations. It’s why we’re talking about a schism that took place seven centuries ago.

Still, it’s possible in extreme circumstances for the Church to dispose of a disastrously bad pontiff. The last pope, Pope Benedict XVI was forced to resign due to the ever widening sexual abuse scandal, and the College of Cardinals elected Pope Francis to help repair the political damage faced by the church.

All Papal infallibility really means is the pope can set doctrine that the entire Roman Catholic church must follow. A future pope can still come along and “infallibly” state ex cathedra that there is now a new doctrine that is infallible and it replaces the old one.
State it that way and it loses most of its mysticism. He’s infallible, until a future pope states otherwise.

And on the “red pants” issue: Leviticus 19:19 “nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material.” Clothing and diet were certainly moral issues in the past.

A Council of bishops (which was not that bishopy, there were more non-bishops) said something and the Church doesn’t consider it part of the Magisterium.
It doesn’t count.

As a Catholic, I believe as the Church does.

Politically forcing a pope to resign is possible, it is still not a power that exists.

Nobody forced Benedict, he knew he wasn’t the man for the job.


No, it doesn’t. If the pope says “wearing red pants during Lent is a sin” then all catholics must follow the rule. It is not ex cathedra. In fact 99.999% of the teachings aren’t ex cathedra.

Maybe you should read about the difference between the ordinary and extraordinary magisterium first. What you have stated is not true, at least as part of Cathoic belief.

Well, Leviticus wasn’t an ex cathedra pronouncement by a pope so I don’t know what to say. As to the many laws binding the JEws that don’t bind Christians you shold read Acts 15 aka The Council of Jerusalem.

Explain again why it’s silly to make a sacrifice to commemorate the death of Christ? It’s not like it was a random edict pulled out of thin air.

Explain to me why it’s not silly to make sacrifices to commemorate a death? Hasn’t there been enough loss already?

Explain to me this red pants obsession y’all seem to have.

I’m not any kind of Christian, as an outsider all Infallibility means in practical terms is that the pope can speak in a certain special way and put the seal of approval onto doctrine and the rest of you have to accept it. It’s not possible to take any other sense of the word “infallible” as being possible. Mary certainly did not physically rise up into heaven and there is not even any suggestion that she did in the bible, she died on earth just like everyone else does. The Assumption was a popular folk story that started long after the events in question so the Catholic church put its official stamp of approval on it declaring it “infallibly” to be doctrine.

Its a human process driven by popularity and politics, one pope can set doctrine, another future one can revise or reverse it.

Ever read Moby Dick?

It is possible for a non-Christian to speak objectively about Christian doctrine, but you aren’t. You’re assuming that Christianity, and thence Roman Catholicism, are false, and then drawing your conclusions based on that assumption.

The unfortunate fact is that Papal infallibility has failed simply as a policy. Look at all the bozos out there proclaiming themselves to be “Pius XIII”, etc. Don’t like what the Pope says?—just announce that he’s an antipope, and there you are, out of your difficulty at once. (Even poor Fr. Rolfe saw that.) It’s visible in America right now: those in the right wing who claimed all their lives to be faithful-unto-death Catholics are now pouring as much hate on Francis as they were on Obama.

I am explaining the practical reality of infallibility to a non-believer. And I didn’t say anything about Christianity being false, I only claimed the assumption is false. Plenty of christian groups don’t believe in the assumption. Its an undeniable fact that the first written accounts of the assumption are from at least 400 years after the event and one of the early church fathers said “no one knew whether Mary had died or not” Saint Epiphanius of Salamis.

But it doesn’t matter that the Pope didn’t accept that proclamation, because the Council was superior to him. How do we know? Because the Council said so.

That line of reasoning is exactly as valid as saying that the Pope is superior to the Council because the Pope said so, and he’s superior.

Leviticus 19:19 “nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material.” … there are some good reason to not make codpieces out of zinc and copper … just saying …

As long as they’re not red.

Official Church doctrine is pretty simple: The Pope is the head of the Church and nothing out ranks him. There’s no official way to dispose of a pope.

However, if there was a major crisis, like there was back in the 14th & 15th century, a method could be found to help remove a reluctant pope. If those stakeholders of the Church believe that the Church is in major trouble, the pope will be removed. It might be done via political pressure. Maybe donations withheld or the Curia revolting. Maybe threat of secular charges. And, if all else fails, excommunication.

Pope Benedict XIII was excommunicated to remove his claim as Pope. Despite being officially viewed by the Church as an Anti-Pope, Benedict probably had the best claim to being pope since he was actually a bishop appointed by the last legitimately recognized pope, Gregory XII. The other two claimants were chosen by popes elected as rivals during the Western Schism.

However, since the Church has to show that the current Pope is from an unbreakable line of leaders from the time of St. Peter, only a single pope can exist at a particular point in time. One rival becomes the official pope, the others are declared as anti-popes. Benedict XIII’s poor behavior during the schism probably assured him that particular title.

I’m not arguing with Ají de Gallina that there’s an official way to remove a pope, but in reality, if it really comes to it, a pope will be removed by the church if necessary and Church doctrine will be adjusted to make it possible. This is no dig at the Catholic Church. It’s just what has to happen.

Pope Benedict XVI was forced out of office because he no longer had the backing of his bishops after the scandals of the Bank of the Vatican, and the sex abuse scandals broke. They didn’t have to hold a literal gun to his head. Instead, those close to him made him realize that if he truly loved the Church, he had to resign for the good of the church. Negotiations took place to allow him to resign with dignity, keep an official residence, and even title. However, he was the first Pope to resign since the Western Schism.

As for the red pants…

The Pope, being an unchecked power, could make any official proclamation he wants. He could make a red pants proclamation ex cathedra or even ex box. it doesn’t matter really, and if you’re a good Catholic, you’ll wear them cause the Pope said so.

However, the College of Cardinals are filled with bright, politically astute, and most important, religious people who love the Church. They might disagree with certain aspects, but realize that any pope chosen has to have backing from a wide swath of the Church. After all, the Church isn’t the only church in town. A divisive pope will harm the church, and they know that.

This is why we even though we may be on the verge of a President Trump here in the U.S., the Church won’t be appointing a Pope Trump any time soon. It’s more likely that we’ll have to wear red pants in the U.S. due to Presidential decree than members of the Church having to wear them due to papal decree.

Well, first, there is no biblical command to make such a sacrifice, though I know that in the RCC the church’s authority trumps that of Scripture.

And second, if you were going to make a sacrifice, why *that *sacrifice? There’'s something inherently evil about eating meat on Friday? Why not abstain from bread products every second Tuesday, or from ice cream during the third week of each month? Obviously, the doctrine was the result of an arbitrary decision by someone at some point.

And finally, if you still don’t think it was an arbitrary (and, yes, in my opinion, silly) doctrine, why was it disposed of so easily by Vatican II? Remember, it wasn’t just a suggestion - it was a *mortal sin *to eat meat on Fridays. What happened to all the people who ate meat on Fridays, died with the sin unconfessed and were condemned to eternal hell? Did they get sprung from hell when the church arbitrarily changed the doctrine?

I wouldn’t say this trumps Scripture since it’s not in opposition to Scripture.

It’s on Friday because the death of the Lord is observed on Friday and so this is a day to make a sacrifice of something good as a penance for our sins.

Canon law still calls for abstinence on all Fridays that aren’t feast days, but other charity or penance can take its place outside of Lent.

Sometimes quite literally in the 14th and 15th centuries :slight_smile:

Eating meat on Fridays is not a malum per se, but a malum prohibitum. A Catholic who eats meat on Fridays is not committing the sin of eating meat on Fridays, but the sin of disobeying the Church. It’s sort of like how some posters here have been instructed by the mods to avoid certain topics, even though those topics aren’t prohibited in general. And it’s only natural that a prohibition of this sort can be very easily set aside: If the bishop says that it’s OK to eat capybara, or to have corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day, or whatever, then you’re not disobeying the Church, and so there’s no problem.