papal infallibility

Rom. Cath. Ch.
the dogma that the pope cannot err in a solemn teaching addressed to the whole church on a matter of faith or morals.
[1865-70]

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In Roman Catholicism, the doctrine that the pope, acting as supreme teacher and under certain conditions, as when he speaks ex cathedra ("from the chair"), cannot err when he teaches in matters of faith or morals.

It is based on the belief that the church, entrusted with the teaching mission of Jesus, will be guided by the Holy Spirit in remaining faithful to that teaching. The First Vatican Council (1869–70) stated the conditions under which a pope may be said to have spoken infallibly: he must intend to demand irrevocable assent from the entire church in some aspect of faith or morals. The doctrine remains a major obstacle to ecumenical endeavours and is the subject of controversy even among Roman Catholic theologians.

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      in Roman Catholic theology, the doctrine that the pope, acting as supreme teacher and under certain conditions, cannot err when he teaches in matters of faith or morals. As an element of the broader understanding of the infallibility of the church, this doctrine is based on the belief that the church has been entrusted with the teaching mission of Jesus Christ and that, in view of its mandate from Christ, it will remain faithful to that teaching through the assistance of the Holy Spirit. As such, the doctrine is related to, but distinguishable from, the concept of indefectibility, or the doctrine that the grace promised to the church assures its perseverance until the end of time.

      The term infallibility was rarely mentioned in the early and medieval church. Critics of the doctrine have pointed to various occasions in the history of the church when popes are said to have taught heretical doctrines, the most notable case being that of Honorius I (625–638), who was condemned by the third Council of Constantinople (680–681, the sixth ecumenical council).

      The definition of the first Vatican Council (Vatican Council, First) (1869–70), established amid considerable controversy, states the conditions under which a pope may be said to have spoken infallibly, or ex cathedra (“from his chair” as supreme teacher). It is prerequisite that the pope intend to demand irrevocable assent from the entire church in some aspect of faith or morals. Despite the rarity of recourse to this claim, and despite the emphasis given to the authority of the bishops in the second Vatican Council (Vatican Council, Second) (1962–65), the doctrine remained a major obstacle to ecumenical endeavours in the late 20th century and was the subject of controversial discussion even among Roman Catholic theologians.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Papal infallibility — is the dogma in Catholic theology that, by action of the Holy Spirit, the Pope is preserved from even the possibility of error [ infallibility means more than exemption from actual error; it means exemption from the possibility of error, P. J.… …   Wikipedia

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  • papal infallibility — (in the Roman Catholic Church) the doctrine that in specified circumstances the Pope is incapable of error in pronouncing dogma. → infallibility …   English new terms dictionary

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  • papal infallibility — noun Date: 1831 the Roman Catholic doctrine that the pope cannot err when speaking ex cathedra in defining a doctrine of Christian faith or morals …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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  • Papal Infallibility —    The belief that the Pope cannot err in his official teaching …   Who’s Who in Christianity

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  • Papal Infallibility — /ˌpeɪpəl ɪnˌfæləˈbɪləti/ (say .paypuhl in.faluh biluhtee) noun Roman Catholic Church the teaching of the church that the pope abides in truth when expounding ex cathedra on matters of faith and morals; made part of the faith of the church by the… …   Australian English dictionary

  • Infallibility — • In general, exemption or immunity from liability to error or failure; in particular in theological usage, the supernatural prerogative by which the Church of Christ is, by a special Divine assistance, preserved from liability to error in her… …   Catholic encyclopedia

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