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Friday 8 March 2013 Letters
Papal infallability
Can the pope really do no wrong?

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Letters responding to: Is the pope Catholic?, by Brendan O’Neill

I found your article rather confusing on one point. Did you really say that the Pope’s resignation proves that he isn’t infallible after all? In case you did, and in case no one else has addressed this with you, the dogma of papal infallibility has nothing whatsoever to do with his resigning, or any other human weaknesses he possesses.

Papal infallibility is the dogma which declares that the pope, when speaking officially (known as ‘Ex Cathedra’) as the head of the Catholic Church, on a matter of officially-declared faith or morals, cannot speak with any error. It is the protection of the deposit of Catholic Christian faith which is at issue. Because we Catholics believe Christ’s words that He will remain with the Church till the end of time, and that the Holy Spirit will always guide the Church in truth, we have to accept that the Church will not lead the faithful into error. The Church’s representative on Earth is the pope.

As a man, the pope is just like any other. He has his weaknesses and failings, and sins as easily as any other. He makes mistakes when he speaks, ordinarily, and is not omniscient on anything. However, when the pope speaks in his role as the Head of the Church on Earth, he has divine protection, in order that Catholics will not be taught error. It is Christ’s guarantee of His promise. The pope, as a man, is like any other. The pope, as the official representative of Christ, and only when acting as the official representative of Christ, on the other hand, will not lead the faithful into falsehood or error.

I know that you are an atheist, but in the genuine pursuit of truth, please do not misrepresent what papal infallibility actually means.

Carol Veronica Phillips, Australia


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