The Infallibility of the Church |
Contrary to what many may think, nothing in Holy Mother Church's teaching has changed and therefore we feel confident that these "points of enlightenment" will help more Catholics better understand their faith, especially those who were not blessed with early formation of the faith in the home and their parish school. Regardless of where any Catholic is in his or her journey toward salvation, he or she has to recognize that the Faith they were initiated into at the Sacrament of Baptism is the most precious gift they have been given in life. If they truly want to live their Faith as it was taught from Peter to Pius XII, they must know the Faith and live it as Traditional Catholics. That is the only way to KEEP THE FAITH!
"All power in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me. God, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you all days, even unto the Consummation of the world" Our Lord's certain words to His Apostles as recorded in Matthew 28: 26
The Church cannot teach error, because it was founded by Jesus Christ, God Himself. He sent forth His Apostles with full powers to preach His Gospel. He said: “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21). “I will ask the Father and He will give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever…But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your mind whatever I have said to you” (John 14:16, 26).
By the infallibility of the Catholic Church is meant that the Church, by the special assistance of the Holy Ghost, cannot err when it teaches or believes a doctrine of faith or morals.
Christ promised: “All power in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me. God, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you all days, even unto the Consummation of the world” (Matthew 28:26). If Christ is with the Church all days, it cannot err in teaching; it cannot lead men away from God.
“Infallibility” is often distorted by enemies of the Church to mean “impeccability,” and therefore derided. Infallibility is freedom from error; impeccability is freedom from sin. In an institution established by God for the salvation of men, error in doctrine is unthinkable.
Every teacher in the Church, from the Pope down to the humblest priest, like all of the faithful, is capable of falling into sin. But in the Catholic Church because of the promise of Infallibility, the Holy Ghost cannot permit the purity of a single doctrine to be stained...not one iota!
Jesus Christ promised to preserve the Church from error. If His prediction and promises were false, then He would not be God, since God cannot lie. Christ said: “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” If therefore the Church falls into error, the gates of hell certainly would prevail against it. It hasn't in nearly 2000 years! Yet many will ask what about the past 40 years? Mario Derksen's second installment Eclipse of the Church: 1958 and Beyond Part Two identifies why the conciliar popes were not protected by the Holy Ghost for they had apostasized from the True Faith.
Christ promised: “I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever…He will teach you all the truth” (John 14). If the Church can err, then the Holy Spirit cannot abide in it and Christ has failed to keep His promises any thing absolutely impossible. Therefore, as Mario points out, the fact that the modernist popes have erred by advocating humanism, ecumenism, and modernism, makes it obvious they are not Catholic.
A doctrine of faith is something we must believe in order to be saved. A doctrine of morals is something we must do in order to be saved. For example, we must believe the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity; that there are Three Divine Persons in One God. We must believe that Jesus Christ is God. We must believe in the Blessed Virgin Mary’s immaculate conception.
Of things we must do are these: we must go to Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation: we must fast and abstain when our bishops so order; we must receive Holy Communion at least once a year. We must obey the Ten Commandments.
Jesus commanded all men to listen and to obey the Church, under pain of damnation. If His Church can teach error, then He is responsible for the error, by commanding all to obey. Jesus sent forth His Apostles with full powers to preach His Gospel: “As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you,” “Make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” “Preach the Gospel to every creature.”
a. Christ said: “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he who does not believe shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16). A just God could not command men under penalty of damnation to believe what is false. So the teaching of Catholic Church must be infallibly true.
He said: “You shall be witnesses for Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the very ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Since it was physically impossible for the Apostles to preach to the whole world, the mission must have been intended also for their successors to the end of time, our Catholic Bishops and Priests.
b. Christ said: “If he refuse to hear even the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican” (Matthew 18:17). "He who hears you hears Me; and he who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects Him Who sent Me” (Luke 10:16).
He said, “And whoever does not receive you, or listen to your words go forth outside that house or town, and shake off the dust from your feet. Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gommorrah in the day of judgment than for that town” (Matthew 10: 14-16).
No Christian denies that the Apostles were infallible. In fact, in the first century, they were the only authority in the Church. The Bible was not completed till the end of that century, not within reach of all.
But God loves the Christians of today as much as He did the primitive Christians. We have as much need of unerring teachers as they. The Apostolic Church of the third millennium must therefore be as infallible as the Church of the Apostles in the first century.
An infallible Bible is no use without an infallible interpreter. History has proven this, in the multiplication of the innumerable denominations that deny the infallibility of the Church. By infallibility, the faithful know exactly what to believe and what to do in order that they may be pleasing to God and save their souls.
It is a great blessing that, in the midst of the ever changing views of men and the conflict of human opinion, there is one voice crying out in unerring tones: “Thus saith the Lord.”
It is historical fact that the true Catholic Church, from the present time back to the time of the Apostles, has not once ceased to teach a doctrine on faith or morals previously held, and with the same interpretations; the Church, though eclipsed by the new religion of Vatican II, has proved itself infallible.
It is also a historical fact that not one Pope, whatever he was in his private life, has ever taught error prior to the conciliar popes.
“The Scribes and the Pharisees have sat on the chair of Moses. All things, therefore, that they commanded you, observe and do. But do not act according to their works.” By obeying the Pope, every Christian can live as Christ commanded, in any age. St. Robert Bellarmine, the holy cardinal of Trent and Doctor of the Church, counsels that we are to reject a pope who is harming souls. As unthinkable as that might have seemed when he wrote De Romano Pontifice, perhaps he had a vision of these times for the teachings of the conciliar popes have truly been harmful to souls, evidenced by the total loss of faith by countless millions, if not billions world-wide over the last four decades.
True, some high rulers of the Church have gravely sinned. Nevertheless, enemies of the Church have exaggerated even the lack of impeccability. In the long line of Popes the vast majority led virtuous lives. Many of them are honored as saints and martyrs. The enemies of the Church can bring charges against only five or six Popes. Most of the charges are calumnies or exaggerations. There is recent evidence that even the rascal Alexander VI wasn't as bad as he was made out to be. Oh, he was no saint, but much was blown out of proportion by the Protestants who needed ever reason to justify their rebellion. Yet, even if the charges were true, they prove nothing against infallibility.
Of the Sovereign Pontiffs that have succeeded Peter, 84 are canonized Saints, of whom 32 were martyrs. However holy the Pope, he regularly goes to confession to a priest. No Pope ever considers himself above the laws of the Church and of God. In fact, the Pope considers himself the "servant of God's servants."
The Church cannot change its teachings on faith and morals. But it may restate the doctrines more clearly and completely. Year after year the Church proclaims the same unchanging doctrines. Her doctrines need no reform, for they are of Divine origin, the work of the Incarnate God. No Pope or general Council in almost two thousand years has annulled or revoked a single decree of faith or morals enacted by a previous Pope or Council. This is history. Yet what happened after Vatican II, because of its deliberate ambiguity, makes for an entirely different scenario in which so many have defected including the hierarchy itself who have turned their back on the constituted evangelic tradition.
The Church teaches infallibly when it defines, through the Pope alone, as the teacher of all Christians, or through the Pope and the bishops, a doctrine of faith or morals to be held by all the faithful.
The Church, as the representative or substitute of Jesus Christ on earth, is infallible, and speaks with His own words: “This is why I was born, and why I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37).
When the Church makes an infallible pronouncement, we are not to suppose that a new doctrine is being introduced. For instance, when the Holy Father Pope Pius IX defined the Blessed Virgin’s Immaculate Conception and Pope Pius XII her Assumption as an article of faith, the infallible definition in each case was not a proclamation of a new doctrine, but was merely an announcement of an article of faith true from the very beginning, and publicly defined only in order to make the dogma clear to all and to be believed as part of the deposit of faith left to the Church.
Another example is the definition of the Holy Father’s infallibility, which was made in 1870 by the First Vatican Council. The dogma was true from the very beginning, and had been universally held. But as in recent times many objections were being made against it, the Bishops in the Vatican Council thought it best, in order to make clear the stand of the Church, to make an infallible definition.
The Church makes infallible pronouncements on doctrines of faith and morals, on their interpretation, on the Bible and Tradition, and the interpretation of any part of parts of these.
The Church also pronounces on the truth or falsity of opinions, teachings, customs, etc., with relation to fundamental doctrines. Another subject on which the Church makers infallible declarations is the canonization of Saints. All whom the Church has raised to the glory of the altar by a solemn canonization are undoubtedly now in Heaven, enjoying eternal bliss in the presence of God.
The Church teaches infallibly through the Pope alone, when he speaks officially or from the "Chair of Peter" (ex cathedra) as the Supreme Head, for the entire universal Church. As the Pope has authority over the Church, he could not err in his official teaching without leading the Church into error. As Our Lord said to Peter, the first Pope: “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith may not fail; and do thou, when once thou has turned again, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22: 31-32).
In order to speak infallibly, the Pope must speak ex cathedra, or officially from the "Chair of Peter," under the following conditions: He must pronounce himself on a subject of faith or morals. Infallibility is restricted to questions regarding faith and morals. The Church pronounces on natural sciences and on legislation only when the perversity of men makes of them instruments for opposing revealed truths.
If the Pope should make judgments on mathematics or civil governments, he is as liable to error as any other man with the same experience. Letters to kings and other rulers are not infallible pronouncements. However, we should hold the Pope’s opinions on any subject with great respect, on account of his position and experience, providing it is in 100% alignment with Catholic teaching.
He must speak as the Vicar of Christ, in his office as Pope, and to the whole Church, to all the faithful throughout the world. In his capacity as private teacher, for example, in his encyclical letters, he is as any other teacher of the Church.
Should someone, like John Paul II, write a treatise on Canon Law in changing many things, or such as Ad Tuendam Fidem or "Crossing the Threshold of Hope" his book would be and was written in a private capacity, and liable to error, which it is, just as the books of other theologians, which the vast majority were and which Karol Wojtyla mistakenly set much credence. His actions prove the mettle of a man not having the protection of the Holy Ghost as Mario points out.
A Pope must make clear by certain words his intention to speak ex cathedra. These words are most often used: “We proclaim,” “We define,” etc. The Pope’s infallible decrees are termed “doctrinal,” since they involve doctrine. From the earliest days of the Church, the infallibility of the Pope has been acknowledged.
In the year 417 the Holy See condemned the Pelagian errors; Saint Augustine cried out the famous words, “Rome has spoken: the cause is ended!” The Council of Florence in 1439 called the Pope “the Father and Teacher of Christians.” The Church teaches infallibly through the Pope and bishops when convened in a general (or ecumenical) council.
A General Council is an assembly convened by the Holy See, of all the bishops of the world, and others entitled to vote. It represents the teaching body of the Church, and must be infallible. In the year 50 the Apostles held the first General Council in Jerusalem. Its decisions were proclaimed as coming from God, the final decree beginning with these words: “For the Holy Spirit and we have decided to lay no further burden upon you” (Acts 15:28).
Over a General Council, the Pope or his legate presides; as representative number of bishops and others entitled to vote, such as cardinals, abbots, and generals of certain religious orders, must be present. Upon confirmation by the Pope, a General Council’s decrees are binding on all Christians if they are doctrinal, not pastoral. It must be understood that the decrees of a General Council have no binding authority until confirmed by the Pope. There is no appeal from the Pope to a General Council.
A unanimous vote is not necessary for an infallible decision of a general council; a great majority is sufficient.
The most notable of the General Councils so far held following the Council of Jerusalem have been: (1) The Council of Nicea, in the year 325, which pronounced against the heresy of Arius; (2) the Council of Ephesus, in the year 425, which declared Mary the Mother of God; (3) the Council of Nicea, in 787, which declared the veneration of images as lawful and profitable; (4) the Council of Trent, 1545-1563), which declared against the heresies of Martin Luther; (5) the Council of the Vatican 1870, which defined as an article of faith the doctrine of the infallibility of the Pope.
The question arises again and again about Vatican II and the answer is that the original schema formulated for the Second Vatican Council were in accord with the other ecumenical council guidelines. However, the "spirit of Vatican II" in which individuals and groups took it upon themselves to interpret and change the schemas on their own do not fall within those parameters and therefore there have been problems because of satan's clever ploy to confuse the faithful. To confound countless souls more, John Paul II has been extolling the virtues of the Council and its actual heretical decrees by publishing and elaborating on all that was decreed at Vatican II. By his actions of scandal in demeaning the Holy Faith and the saints, he has abdicated any authority as Sovereign Pontiff, and as a Catholic for that matter, for he held many of these heretical ideas before his elevation and therefore, in accord with Pope Paul IV's papal decree Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio, he is not the Successor of Peter! This is manifest in his actions over the past forty years, especially magnified in the last five years.
9. Even when the bishops are not gathered together in one place, they form the teaching body of the Church, united with the Pope. This is called the "Magisterium" of the Church. Therefore their voice must be infallible, otherwise the universal Church would be led into error. Here again, we run into the same problem as above. Questionable prelates preaching heresy which consigns them to the sentence of St. Paul in Galatians 1: 8-10. Yet there is the infallible, perennial Magisterium, also known as the Universal Ordinary Magisterium comprised of the Living Magisterium from Peter through Pius XII. For the same reason as above, the daily ordinary uniform teaching of the Church in every place in the whole world is infallibly true.
“Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).
Therefore, when the body of bishops, even though they may be acting as the Magisterium with all the trappings, veer one iota, they forfeit any membership in or credibility of the True Church's Magisterium; and therefore any authority they may wield is null and void, unrecognized in Heaven.
The Catholic Church will endure to the end of time, for it is founded on a rock. The powers of evil will beat in vain against it. They will break themselves and perish, but the Church will remain, indefectible. This is so evident today when the church of Vatican II, bearing most of the trappings of Catholicism, is imploding because God has withheld His graces and protection because of the betrayal and rebellion against Him, and His Church.
The testimony of almost two thousand years proves the perpetuity of the Church. Nothing that malice and envy could invent; nothing that the world, the flesh, and the devil could do have been left untried in the past 2000 years. Still the Church is with us, exactly as Christ founded it, and stronger than ever though it may not seem so at the time because of the Great Apostasy. Yet, as Christ has promised, "behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world" and "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
Next issue: The Indefectability of the Church