Page 4, 8th August 1980

8th August 1980
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Page 4, 8th August 1980 — Basic truths of Infallibility
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People: Gerard Loughlln
Locations: Rome

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Basic truths of Infallibility

RIGHTLY as S L Maekeut.ie draws our attention to that pan of the deCnition on Papal Infallibility in Paster Aeternus which states that "such definitions of the Romun Pontiff are irreformable of themselves

(and not from the consent of the

Church)," that this statement does assume the consent of the Church to the irreformable definition: and that, more importantly, the definition of Pastor Aeternus says that the "Roman Pontiff' in making these irreformable definitions (and it may be noted that they' arc not described as infallible definitions) "is possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed his Church to be endowed in defining faith and rnorals."

What is to he noted here is that infallibility is primarily an endowment or attribute of the Church. and only eondarily that of the "Roman Pontiff' when, as the rest of the definition states, he is exercising the office of "pastor and teacher of all Christians, In defining a "doctrine concerning faith or morals" which is to "be held by the universal Church."

This emphasis on the infallibility of the Church is the other side to the perfectly correct puinl made by S E

1l1ucket),lc. and which ma} lie hehind the sort of thinking that L'rbanur was expressing, and which, it should he noted, is a position put forward by most contemporary defenders of the doctrine: indeed the point is that Urbanus' expression of June 13, that "not even the Pope, is deemed to be 'infallible' in any sense which is independent of the whole Church," is hardly inconsistent with that part of the definition on Papal infallibility

where, as we have seen, the infallibility possessed by the Pope under certain conditions is dependent on the prior infallibility of the Church.

I think that the problem which S E MacKenzie has brought to our attention by means of a partial reading of the definition is that the final clause is to a certain extent incompatible with the earlier pans, fur it dues of course slate that that the ex cathedra definitions of the Pope arc irrelilrnnthle of themselves, and while assuming the consent of the Church, do not require that consent for them to be irreformable.

This only serves to highlight the historical fact that this final clause was only added at the last moment, and was the cause of the premature departure of 55 of the bishops from Rome in protest against it.

The second series of arguments (July I8) of S E MacKenzie's, dealing with several New Testament texts, are, I would suggest, due to a complete misreading and misinterpretation of the texts in question, for the simple fact that none of them have anything, whatsoever, to Say about infallibility or present day concepts of collegiality.

At the very most the New Testament allows us to affirm a Peterine ministry and primacy, in regard of Peter only: whteh is not to say, 1 hasten to add, that a continuation of a Peterine ministry in the Chureh is not a valid development.

It is however,to draw attention to the fact that nowhere in the New' Testament (to the best of my knowledge) is the ''Divine Redeemer" shown as willing his Church to be endowed with infallibility in its definitions on faith and morals.

I cannot help but feel that this is an interestingpoint calling for some contemplation.

Lampeter. Dyfed Gerard Loughlln




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