Last week, we highlighted the attempts by Fr. William G. Most to extract an infallible teaching from the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church. (The Magisterium is essentially the pope and the bishops who are in communion with him.) By studying the teachings of the Magisterium, William Most thought he had discovered how to arrive at an infallible teaching. By way of example, to prove that it is an infallible teaching of the Roman Catholic Church that Mary’s physical virginity was uncompromised when Christ was born, all Most had to do was demonstrate repetition by popes and councils. Surely, Fr. Most thought, repetition is evidence of an intent to teach infallibly:
A doctrine taught with multiple papal approval plus that of Vatican II should be called infallible, for these texts show the intention to make it definitive by their repetition.
By this standard, we can conclude that it is an infallible doctrine of the Roman Church that it is Mary who will crush the head of the serpent in Genesis 3:15. After all, multiple popes and at least one council have confirmed this. The Council of Trent made Jerome’s translation of the Vulgate the official translation of the Roman Catholic Church. Jerome’s translation of Genesis 3:15 indicates that it is Mary who will crush the head of the serpent. Here is the English rendering of the Roman Catholic translation of that verse: Continue reading Why “Infallibility” Doesn’t Work→
In 897 AD, Pope Stephen VII had Pope Formosus’ body exhumed and put on trial at the infamous Cadaver Synod, during which the corpse was found guilty, and stripped of his papal vestments. Pope Theodore II later convened a synod and overturned Pope Stephen’s findings, as did Pope John IX after him. But later, Pope Sergius III overturned the rulings of Theodore II and John IX, and reaffirmed the conviction of Formosus. Perhaps Formosus’ corpse will find some little comfort in the knowledge that it is still—at least for now—listed on Rome’s “unbroken line of popes” currently on display at the Vatican.
We find a papal corpse a particularly fitting background image for this post on infallibility’s fatal flaw. The Roman Pontiff, in order that the Church may share in Christ’s infallibility, says the Catechism, “enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 891). But there is one problem: nobody knows when the Pope is speaking infallibly, nobody knows how often a pope has spoken infallibly, and nobody knows what the criteria are for when a pope is speaking infallibly. Continue reading Infallibility’s Fatal Flaw→
The pattern for Rome is this: “we already know this to be true, so there is no error in creating evidence to support it.” This is why I call ‘Tradition’ the historical revisionism that it clearly is.
It is nonetheless a true, and verifiable statement. John Henry Cardinal Newman, one of the most famous converts to Rome from the Church of England, was a prolific writer and, after his conversion, a staunch apologist for Rome. He provides one of the best examples in recent memory of an apologist who was committed to the circularity of Roman epistemology: “we already know this to be true, so there is no error in creating evidence to support it.” When commenting on A Legend of St. Gundleus, Newman not only allows for adding fictional dialogues to the gospel narrative—he insists that it is necessary. Continue reading “Truth” received on no authority at all→
The Roman Catholic Church believes that the Word of God is transmitted to the Church by Tradition, the Scriptures and the Magisterium (i.e., popes, councils, etc…). According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (81),
Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching.
Christians hold to Sola Scriptura (the written Word of God alone) while Roman Catholics hold to Sola Verbum Dei (the Word of God alone), as transmitted by Tradition, etc… Roman Catholic apologist, Scott Hahn, makes this point nicely in his book, Rome Sweet Home (p. 74). The Roman Catholic Church sees “Tradition” as part of the Word of God, and thus, it makes little sense (to Roman Catholics) when Christians say that Rome’s “Tradition” goes against “the Word of God.” Tradition, to them, is the Word of God.
Therefore, to the Roman apologist, there is no tension when Tradition includes doctrines not explicitly included in the Bible. Tradition merely helps us understand what Scripture means. This leads to some interesting arguments, like this one from Roman apologist Robert Sungenis, who says, if Roman Catholic teachings are in the Bible, then I should be able to find them somewhere else. Continue reading All the Way Back→