Roman Catholic Church: Infalibility

By Barbara G Walker

From The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, entry on "Infallibility"


The doctrine of papal infallibility stated that anything the pope said was invariably true, and anything he did was invariably right, because God could not permit his pope to speak or act erroneously. The doctrine first took shape in the 15th century. It was set forth by implication in the writings of Torquemada. Cardinal Cajetano openly proclaimed it, inspiring the pope to issue the bull Pastor etemus, which made the doctrine of infallibility part of canon law.1

In the 19th-century Age of Enlightenment, one scientific discovery after another demonstrated that the statements of popes on matters like the solar system, biology, botany, geology, and other earth sciences—to say nothing of witchcraft, diabolism, and the Bible—had been patently fallible. In fact, wrong. So the church decided that the pope was still certainly infallible but only when he spoke officially, ex cathedra, for then God protected his words from error if not at other times. Unfortunately this served for only a short time. It was soon found that popes were wrong in numerous statements officially enshrined in bulls and encyclicals.

The doctrine of infallibility had to be revised again, this time to state that the pope is infallible only when speaking "on matters of faith and morals." Still another revision of the doctrine may be due in the near future.

l.Cuignebert, 357.


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