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What is meant by the gift of infallibility given to the Church?


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June 01, 2013 5:58AM

Excerpt from "The Catholic Catechism" by John A.Hardon, S.J. :

It is a dogma divinely revealed: that the Roman Pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is , when acting in the office of shephard and teacher of all Christians, he defines, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, doctrine concerning faith and morals to be held by the universal Church, possesses through the divine assistance promised him in the person of St. Peter, the infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals; and that such definitions are therefore irreformable of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church. If this still isn't clear to you, just consult the "Catechism of the Catholic Church". It answers any questions you might have.


The First Vatican Council taught and declared that the pope is infallible. It is also a necessary, if unstated, assumption that the First Vatican Council was also infallible and, by inference, possibly all other councils of bishops. Bishop Geoffrey Robinson (Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church) asks how a council can infallibly declare the infallibility of the pope unless we assume in advance that the council was itself infallible. In the absence of infallibility on the part of the First Vatican Council, the pronouncement of papal infallibility in Pastor Aeternalis is no more than an opinion.