Posted by: Jim | January 26, 2009

The Pope is Proving his Fallibility

popeI have a question for Catholics. Do you believe that the Pope is still the mouthpiece of God? Do you believe he ever was? If you don’t believe the Pope is infallible, how do you justify this belief against the tenets of Catholicism? In your basic catechism, it states that “Christ endowed the Church’s shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals.” (Catechism, 890)


The link provided also includes what I find to be a very mamby-pamby justification of some of the “morally infallible” and also morally reprehensible edicts of days gone by. But let’s talk about today’s “morally infallible” decision by the Pope to revoke an excommunication of four bishops who were “traditionalists” and formed a schism in 1981 after Vatican II.


One of the bishops, Richard Williamson of Great Britain, is a Holocaust denier.”


Logically, holocaust denial is about as credible as belief in many other tenets of Catholicism, but this overt tolerance of a denier of the Holocaust is particularly virulent, and will be politically disastrous for relations between Catholics and Jews.


I’ve appreciated some of the things done by Pope Benedict XVI, but this move can only be seen as a “major goof.” It’s one thing for a wingnut Bishop to outwardly deny the holocaust—if he was excommunicated some time ago. But by revoking the excommunication, the Pope is creating a true Catholic Bishop who is outwardly denying the holocaust.  Doh!


I would like to hear a response from Catholics.



  1. I think, to be accurate, he’s a Gas Chamber denier…

  2. Greetings! Saw your post in Google Blogsearch and came to visit.

    >”Do you believe that the Pope is still the mouthpiece of God? Do you believe he ever was?”

    While Catholics don’t describe as or believe the the Pope to be “mouthpiece of God”, the Pope is the chamberlain (vicar, prime minister) of Christ per Matthew 16:15-19 and Isaiah 22:22.

    >”But let’s talk about today’s “morally infallible” decision by the Pope to revoke an excommunication of four bishops who were “traditionalists” and formed a schism in 1981 after Vatican II.”

    The Pope’s decision to revoke an excommunication of four bishops is NOT an morally infallible decision nor an example of papal infallibility. Sorry, just because you decide so doesn’t make it so. Thus, your title “The Pope is Proving his Fallibility” is erroneous.

    By the way, infallibility has to do with truth and not actions (impeccability). Everyone experience infallibility from time to time when one tells the truth. Truth is never in error (fallible), so one is always infallible when telling the truth, even a 2-year old child. You are sometimes infallible, but this doesn’t seem one of the times.

    >”the Pope is creating a true Catholic Bishop who is outwardly denying the holocaust. Doh!”

    Um, so what? What has belief in the holocaust to do with Catholic doctrine or the fitness to act as a bishop? This seems a contrived manmade political correctness requirement, does it not?

    One can only hope that as the Bishop is reconciled to the Church that, by charity and grace, he will be more open to truth and become reconciled to the truth of the holocaust. Its a bit premature to cast stones.

    God bless… +Timothy

  3. Hi Timothy,

    I’m a little confused. If the Catechism says that the Pope is “infallible in matters of morals,” but according to you that doesn’t have to do with anything the Pope does in terms of “actions?”

    What does it have to do with, then? Only what he says? Only written doctrine and such? If so, you’re heading down a different path that will lead to some very difficult quesitons.

    Do you believe that the Pope is divinely gifted with moral infallibility (even if limited to doctrinal such-and-such) or is the church merely to accept his doctrines as infallible? Or is the Pope only infallible when what he says is truth? If that’s the case, the statement is meaningless. Did theay mean the Pope is infallible (*sometimes)?

    I don’t mean to mock. I’m trying to logically break down how Catholics think the Pope is infallible. Even within whatever limitations you might give it, I can come up with historical examples where the Pope, within those limitations, proved fallible.

    My theory: The Catholic church is set up very much like the military, with a hierarchy of authority that comes from the top. In order for this to work effectively, and to limit questioning, there had to be some conceit set up that made it work. Enter papal infallibility, stage right.

  4. Catholics don’t believe the pope to be the ‘mouthpiece of God’, but rather the spokesperson of the Church to the world. He makes use of the papal charism of infallibility in a timely manner on those issues of Faith and Morals that require final clarification. The reason for excommunication and reinstatement was different than the bishop’s personal beliefs on the Holocaust. So I see them as two different things.

  5. Hi Jim,
    I did a search and here is a link that may better explain papal infallibility and what it means.

  6. Thanks Suzanne … so basically the “infallibility” part comes in when the Pope is issuing a specific type of decree or statement of faith, correct?

    When reading the link you provided, honestly … it is so convoluted that I cannot put my finger on it. Why can’t the term “infallibility” be simply defined? Why do these writers have to dance around a definition so much?

    While wading through twelve paragraphs of a definition, I come to this:

    “Although the individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, they can nevertheless proclaim Christ’s doctrine infallibly. This is so, even when they are dispersed around the world, provided that while maintaining the bond of unity among themselves and with Peter’s successor, and while teaching authentically on a matter of faith or morals, they concur in a single viewpoint as the one which must be held conclusively. This authority is even more clearly verified when, gathered together in an ecumenical council, they are teachers and judges of faith and morals for the universal Church. Their definitions must then be adhered to with the submission of faith”

    Huh? I think it’s either saying “when everyone agrees, it must be true.” OR … “if what your saying is infallable, you are exhibiting infallibility.”

    Perhaps “infallibility,” with its obviously malleable definition, was a tool used by church fathers to manipulate people in and out of power.

  7. Here’s an example of something that I think would fall under “infallible” as defined in the link you provided: In 1311, the Ecumenical Council of Vienne authorized the brutal suppression of the Knights Templar. This was prompted by a Papal Bull, and later approved by the Pope.

    The Knights Templar were rounded up and killed and their land was confiscated for the church’s use.


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