Thursday 9 November 2017

The Indefectibility of the Church

La Stampa has published my response to the criticisms of my previous article on the legitimacy of the Filial Correction on Vatican Insider (see here). This article was composed chiefly in response to claims by Christopher Ferrara on The Remnant, and Fr. Brian Harrison and others on Life Site News that I was positing an "infallible" ordinary papal Magisterium, which is simply untrue.


RC said...

Any chance you could re-post your articles here Emmett? I cannot stomach giving Pravda/la stampa any traffic,or at least the gist of them?

JMC said...

I'll second that request. I simply don't like following links, because for me that inevitably leads to spending hours following whole chains of links, when there are other things I should be doing. ;D

Bridget said...

Great response, Emmett! I appreciated the Catholic Encyclopedia’s definition of the indefectibility of the Church that you included.

“The definition of the indefectibility of the Church given in the Catholic Encyclopedia is extremely helpful in allowing us to grasp the full scope of this dogma:

Among the prerogatives conferred on His Church by Christ is the gift of indefectibility. By this term is signified, not merely that the Church will persist to the end of time, but further, that it will preserve unimpaired its essential characteristics. The Church can never undergo any constitutional change which will make it, as a social organism, something different from what it was originally. It can never become corrupt in faith or in morals; nor can it ever lose the Apostolic hierarchy, or the sacraments through which Christ communicates grace to men. The gift of indefectibility is expressly promised to the Church by Christ, in the words in which He declares that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. It is manifest that, could the storms which the Church encounters so shake it as to alter its essential characteristics and make it other than Christ intended it to be, the gates of hell, i.e. the powers of evil, would have prevailed. It is clear, too, that could the Church suffer substantial change, it would no longer be an instrument capable of accomplishing the work for which God called it in to being. He established it that it might be to all men the school of holiness. This it would cease to be if ever it could set up a false and corrupt moral standard. He established it to proclaim His revelation to the world, and charged it to warn all men that unless they accepted that message they must perish everlastingly. Could the Church, in defining the truths of revelation err in the smallest point, such a charge would be impossible. No body could enforce under such a penalty the acceptance of what might be erroneous. By the hierarchy and the sacraments, Christ, further, made the Church the depositary of the graces of the Passion. Were it to lose either of these, it could no longer dispense to men the treasures of grace (XI).”

Sr. Marianne Lorraine Trouve said...

Hello Emmett,
You said, "here is the mistaken assumption among many Catholics that the ordinary Magisterium is some sort of static, immovable monolith, instead of being a dynamic, fluid instrument composed of many moving parts. It is necessary for the ordinary Magisterium to be ready to meet the ever-changing needs of the Church throughout the vicissitudes of history (as can be seen with Pope Francis’ recent moves to update the Church’s previous teaching on the death penalty). As such, the ordinary Magisterium is permanently open to refinement and doctrinal development, and is not limited to merely repeat judgments which have been fixed firmly in the past."

Yet this solves nothing, because the question still has to be answered: What in fact is an authentic doctrinal development, and what is a deviation? No Pope can ever overturn what has been an established Catholic teaching. Otherwise we are into sheer relativism. Some in the Church, even some bishops, are interpreting AL as meaning that the constant teaching of the Church against divorce is no longer absolutely binding. That would be a deviation and cannot be accepted. I think that a future Pope will need to unambiguously reaffirm the Church's constant teaching against divorce, and declare that anything ambiguous in AL needs to be understood in light of that teaching. We have a mess right now in the situation on the ground. It should not be the case that divorce and remarriage is OK if you live in Germany or Malta but not in Poland. the Gospel doesn't depend on geography.

RC said...

Well said Sister, the universality of the church's teaching is being torn asunder, and we now have to swallow the nonsense that it is Catholics faithful and orthodox to the unchanging word of God and the perennial teaching of the church that are schismatics etc! At leastnow though they are out in the open and explicitly telling us "to let go of our cherished beliefs" (copyright blaise cupich)

Jason R. said...

Emmmett I had no idea of your writing on this ectraneius to the blig itself, you did a marvelous job of both stating and then further clarifying the position I take as well (with all respect to those who hold other positions), and with your usu so eloquence as well as the incredible depth if knowledge that gives you such a convincingboerpe drive on thed matter... bravo!

Thomas said...

Sister, communion discipline is not doctrine though. Not everyone is an objective state of sin has lost sanctifying grace. One can sin without being culpable. The way I see it, the pope intends for the priests to examine the consciences of those who have objective sin and discern those who are and are not in mortal sin and give communion where possible. That may explain why he said that many marriages are not true marriages. Rationally speaking, I would agree that most of the people who marry in Church DO NOT know what they are signing up for. It's just empty words and traditions for the majority of people. Some even think annulments are the Catholic equivalent of divorce!

Pope Francis' successor can do a 180 on this, and it still would not affect the indefectability of the Church.

The ones who publicly teach Catholicism are now oversimplifying it. Are they not the modern doctors of the law? The ironic think, the ones publicly accusing the pope of heresy commit the objective sin of schism. If we were strict to them too, they should be denied communion until they retract their writings about the pope. For some reason they do not see themselves as sinners.

Anonymous said...

The important thing is that the clear teachings of Jesus which the Church has followed for over 2,000 years be repeated and its importance emphasized without "but..." or "here's an exception" or any kind of "asterisks." Jesus' truth does not change. Even a few words can sometimes cause confusion. Sin is sin. True historic teaching is simply the truth. Sometimes I read things here and there online by Catholics and it's like Jesus must have returned and said, "I changed my mind on that one!" We must keep our eyes open. We need to make sure the truth is always, always proclaimed in a clear way, and we need many, many prayers for our clergy at all levels, and the Church in general.

Bridget said...

Thomas, very well said! I think it’s worth repeating again something you mentioned on another other post. People are forgetting that God speaks to us through the Church, tying us back into the indefectibility of the Church. This communion discipline has to do with culpability. When we say “sin is sin” we turn everything into a black and white issue and don’t factor in culpability. What’s wrong with those who are in an objective state of sin, yet NOT culpable, finally being able to receive the grace of the Eucharist? How is this not a good thing?

Bridget said...

Also, since AL will most likely be reformed in the future, what are the chances that Pope Francis will resign within a year or so? I always go back to that odd quote of his saying he had “a feeling” that his pontificate would last 4 maybe 5 years. Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Another concern is that whenever there are "exceptions," have you ever noticed that every person thinks THEIRS is the exception? Things become very dicey and relative when individuals pick and choose their morality. Dangerous spiritual territory and something to beware.

One thing for sure: Church teachings need to be clearly proclaimed to every Catholic, from a young age. Many things are not up for debate. There may be (very, very, unique) special circumstances, but it must be with the utmost caution that those circumstances be addressed, otherwise, again the "exception" appears to be for everyone.

What is truly sinful must be clearly addressed and corrected. Catholics need to once again examine their consciences on a daily basis, according to Jesus' Church's teachings. We have to be wary of worldliness creeping into the Church, yet we see this happening more and more. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."

Bridget said...

Of course, there will always be loads of people who think what they’re doing is “fine.” God will deal with them how He sees fit. Think of Cafeteria Catholics who only go to church on Easter and Christmas and walk right up to communion with everyone else. But I’m thinking about people who are truly struggling and see themselves in between a rock and a hard place. They’re not receiving the Eucharist because they’re doing their best to be good Catholics and follow the rules. But now Jesus is reaching out to them through the voice of the Church to help them. Hopefully connecting them with wonderful priests who will guide them!

JMC said...

Bridget, as you are no doubt well aware, there are many Catholics who do not believe the interpretation of the vision of the "Bishop in white" that we were given in 2000. I believe Benedict XVI was referring obliquely this when he asked for prayer that he might not fall to the wolves. The signs are all there that we are entering the period of great chastisements before the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart; I believe that Pope Francis, like Benedict before him, has concerns that he may turn out to be the martyred Pope of the vision...and with radical Islamists' publicly declared goal of attacking the Vatican, there's a very real possibility of that.

Sr. Marianne Lorraine Trouve said...

Thank you, Thomas, for your comment. I agree that one can commit an objectively sinful act without being culpable. But that is a deficiency, for objectively sinful acts always lessen us as human beings, and are against the law of God. The lack of culpability doesn't make it a good thing.
It seems to me that in such cases, priests need to enlighten the consciences of people so that they turn away from the sin, and not find some excuse to continue in objectively sinful behavior.

Bridget said...


I also think Pope Francis may be the martyred Pope of the vision. BUT...I’m only hesitant because of a time crunch issue. If we’re getting into tricky timelines, isn’t the “next item on the list” the Restoration of the Church (reunification of East/West)? So doesn’t it seem unrealistic that this could be accomplished during Pope Francis’ pontificate given the fact that this has been worked on for decades? And Emmett, I know you have a theory that MAYBE another supernova will accompany the reunification of Eastern Orthodox with Rome, pointing to the possible supernova between 2020-2022. But doesn’t that even seem like too little time to resolve all of the differences and issues?

How would this work out??

Bridget said...

Or maybe I’m being too pessimistic! ;)

Jason R. said...

I have gotten that same inclining as well Bridget, you're not alone. I'm biting my tongue in giving some ideas on culpability, invincible ignorance, and how pastoral care and the miraculous grace that comes out of the confessional are different than doctrinal changes, but I'm going to digress on it all as this had already been discussed to death (and then some) in numerous posts already, and I think the articles Emmett wrote and linked to really explain it all better than I could ever hope to anyways.

As to the potential martyrdom of a pope, I don't know when or if this would happen myself, but I think if a pope did suffer a martyrdom, knowing very well that the blood of martyrs renews and brings blessings on the Church and all the people of Our Lord, maybe an incident like that, and of such magnitude (though so many early pontiffs were martyred that it seems almost the "normal" way for a pontificate to end!) could somehow even act as a catalyst for the great West/East schism to be healed for all time?

Thomas said...

I agree that it is a deficiency and they should be taught that. But if they are not culpable should grace be withheld from them? I think that many conservative Catholics judge the inside of people from the externals or what they think. If they actually do get what they state they want many of them would be withheld from communion too. By oversimplifying the issue, they impute mortal sin onto people have not sinned mortally. Right now fat people are not withheld from communion, nor the rich in poor countries, nor are people who teach error on their blogs, nor people who appear to harbor ethnic hatred... because we understand that appearances can be misleading and many may not be culpable. The pope is trying to say that there are some people who are not culpable for some sexual sins and matrimony and pastors should bring all they can to communion, in a case by case basis. If they misread him and impute on the pope the role of Judas, what does it say about them? Why should these sins be the only one that everyone feels glee to condemn in the most pessimistic way?

Here is a link I encourage you to read:

Mark L said...


> Why should these sins be the only one that everyone feels glee to condemn in the most pessimistic way?

It has always been that way. Recall the law-defenders who stood around the woman caught in adultery, ready to mete out the "just punishment according to the law." Because the woman had to be taught a lesson, people had to learn that "it was wrong." As though they didn't.

We rage against what we cannot control, and uppermost in that list is our sexuality. Aquinas stated that sins in that area are among the lowest in culpability but highest in shame. But still today, we equate shame with culpability.

Again, I think we're living in the times when "because lawlessness is increasing, love is growing cold." Because we're shocked at the lawlessness, we think the answer is more law, more enforcement. Mercy terrifies the law-abiders, because they think it means license, they think it means a free ride, they think it nullifies their own personal life of self-control and devout practice. It's the sin of the Prodigal Son's elder brother, who fumed and sulked over the free and unbridled mercy of the Father.

Isn't the Holy Spirit trying to speak in the Church with the message of mercy? But because we're fallen, and fallen quite far from humility, we think mercy means license, and lawlessness requires stricter teaching about the law.

How are we to understand a God who says he goes out to "plead" with the elder brother who is confused over the overflowing mercy shown to his younger brother who wasn't even made to confess his sins?

How are we to understand the runaway zeal and love of a God who orders the servants to "run out everywhere - in the alleys, crossroads, and compel them, beg them, adjure them - to come in to the banquet." Why? "Because I want it to be full."

I know of a saintly archbishop of the east who would compel people to come up to communion. In my estimation he was a prophet. There are astounding miracles which happened because of it which I cannot relate here. I hope one day they are told and published widely.

Sexual sin with oneself is objectively grave - very grave indeed. And yet over the years the Church has been compelled because of its rampant practice, to now understand it on the personal level thusly: "one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability." (CCC 2352)

"Reduce to a minimum." But in my experience, a great many devout Catholics experience profound self-hatred and loathing because they cannot overcome this sin. Many even keep themselves away from communion because of it. This practice of slinking away from God after experiencing shame goes all the way back to Eden. We think we can slink away, wash ourselves clean through our merits, then return again to God. We forget that there has only ever been one single act, one single sacrifice which forever perfects us (Hebrews 10.14).

Mark L.

Anonymous said...

Sr. Marianne Lorraine: I totally agree with your comments! Yes, all priests DO need to enlighten the consciences of people so they turn from sin. We need to pray that our priests understand how incredibly important it is, and to have the courage to do so. Souls are at stake. What could be more important than salvation?

BTW, off-topic: You have such a beautiful name! Coincidentally, my new granddaughter's name is Mary Anna Lorraine, so I guess I'm a bit partial, too. :) Lovely name, though!

Unknown said...

Saint Catherine Maria Emmerich saw many visions of Jesus's life and is is recorded that many,many times he warned against adultery and told adulterers to repent and change their lives. John the Baptist was killed by Herod because Herod was an adulterer and his new wife didn't like it! Jesus obviously spoke out in support of John.
Julie Marie Jaheney, the stigmatist, had many visions of Jesus and she saw Jesus lamenting over a bad council following which communion (He Himself) was given to unworthy people. A major chastisement will follow soon after apparently.
Sr Lucy of Fatima spoke about the last battle being about marriage.
Just joining the dots. A lot of people don't seem to be here or am I missing something?
God help us all
Peter F

Unknown said...

I'm not perfect. Saint Jacinta said more souls were lost because of sins of the flesh than anything else. She saw souls falling into hell like snow falling (obviously hell wasn't abolished then).
We need to know what is right and wrong

Anonymous said...

Peter F,
Just to add to your collection of visions and recognition off the last battle over marriage and the family, God sent the Great Flood to destroy the evil of those days. The Jewish Midrash about marriage explains that the particular evil that 'tipped the balance' was the institutionalisation of marriage between man and man, that is, sodomite marriage. I believe that we are again, at that point.
Michael G

KEP said...

Emmett, your article never defines the difference between something that's infallible and something that's free from error. It's strange because that's the main objection to your article. I understand why you'd want to dodge the question though. The word "infallible" literally means "no error." It's like arguing that a priest stands in the person of Christ but doesn't stand in persona Christi, or that it's a "fetus" and not an offspring. It's the same word/phrase, just one is in Latin and the other is in English. You have yet to answer how something can be without error but not be infallible. I and others have asked this multiple time in the last post and you dodged it, as can be seen in the la stampa article.

I previously asked if the catechism promulgated by a Pope is part of his magisterium and is thus free from error. You dodged that as well. I think you know why: the catechism promulgated by Pope St John Paul II originally taught that the contemporary Jews were still validly under the Mosaic covenant. Numerous theologians sent corrections to the CDF about this and the Pope and CDF corrected the error and changed the catechism in subsequent printings.

So if the pope is free from error when promulgating something via his ordinary magisterium, was he without error when he taught that there are currently two covenants, one for the Jews and the other for the gentiles; or was he without error when he changed it to say that the old covenant is now void and Jews are also to be saved by Christ's covenant and not the Mosaic covenant?

You've been corrected on this numerous times. I'm showing your article to numerous theologians, from the CDF to a friend of mine (he worked officially for the Vatican on the canonization of the Fatima children). From what I've seen so far you're wrong. You simply don't understand the difference between the ordinary and extraordinary magisterium, don't understand that indefectibility refers to the fact that a teaching can be further explained/elaborated but can't be contradicted (i.e. capital punishment is acceptable at one time, even from God's own mouth, but is now "contrary to the gospel"), you don't understand the difference between religious assent and binding the faithful, and you don't understand the difference between the ordinary and extraordinary magisterium of the church.

Aquinas3000 said...

Emmett, with all due respect you did keep saying the ordinary magisterium was inerrant. No wonder people think you are saying it is infallible because infallible mean unerring. You even expanded the ordinary magisterium to include topics like climate change merely because a pope has commented on them (which would mean a Catholic expert in the field would be dissenting for publishing a paper that argues otherwise even though it is a secular / scientific question). This goes against the criteria set down by LG 25. I just think on this topic you are lacking precision and it has led to your getting into hotwater.

Emmett O'Regan said...

KEP, for something to be infallible it has to be definitively taught by the Church and irreformable of itself. The teachings of the ordinary Magisterium are non-definitive and reformable, which is why they are non-infallible. The dogma of indefectibility is specifically a charism of the Petrine ministry which means in can never become corrupt in faith and morals - something you are arguing against. I'm quite happy for the CDF to clarify this issue further, and indeed asked them to do so in that article.

Aquinas, when did I ever say that the Church was inerrant in matters outside of faith and morals, such as in matters of science? I specifically say the opposite. The ordinary Magisterium requires submission of the will and intellect in such matters, but it doesn't mean that it doesn't potentially contain deficiencies.

Anonymous said...

Heresy and error are not the same thing. Saying that a true pope can never teach heresy is not the same as saying that he cannot err. And what he can err in cannot lead us to hell. If it could, we would not be obliged to listen, but we are. We are obliged to listen to non-infallible teaching. The Church corrects us; we don't correct the Church. It seems all topsy-turvy if we do not believe in the Church's indefectability.

Just because a teaching is non-infallible, doesn't mean we can disobey it. If the Church, as our teacher, leads us to hell through what it teaches, then Catholicism is false.

Mark W said...

Mark L -

I've tried to write this several times, but this is difficult. I appreciate your comment very much, but must take issue with one part:

"Because we're shocked at the lawlessness, we think the answer is more law, more enforcement. Mercy terrifies the law-abiders, because they think it means license, they think it means a free ride, they think it nullifies their own personal life of self-control and devout practice. It's the sin of the Prodigal Son's elder brother, who fumed and sulked over the free and unbridled mercy of the Father."

I would fall into the category of "law-abiders" I suppose. I guess that makes me guilty of the sin of the Prodical's brother as well. I'm also more of a traditionalist than most, and a convert. So four strikes, and I'm out. But I honestly have to ask who you've been talking to, and how you come these conclusions.

"Mercy terrifies the law-abiders, because they think it means license..." This is abjectly untrue. It's not equating mercy with license that's the problem, it's that the misapplication of AL's "mercy" will beget license. It's already happening. I don't consider AL to be heretical, and neither do the Dubia cardinals. But it is sufficiently unclear as to allow license to be taken. That's why people want clarity. It's really not much more complicated than that.

"they think it means a free ride" This again degrades the arguments against to the level of the personal. It's an ad hominem. To simplify the argument: this isn't about me, so stop trying to tell everyone that I'm the problem. This is about the salvation of souls - which is what the Church is supposed to be concerned with in the first place.

"they think it nullifies their own personal life of self-control and devout practice." And you know the inner workings of my mind how? This is another ad hominem, designed to denigrate those that object - or at least, that's how it reads. This isn't about me, it's about the salvation of souls. I'm a Benedictine Oblate, so I so do have devout practices (or I try to), and AL and it's supposed "mercy" has absolutely NO impact on my religious practices or personal life. NONE! Full stop. It has to do with the salvation of souls. You're making this about the individuals that object while ignoring the objections.

"It's the sin of the Prodigal Son's elder brother, who fumed and sulked over the free and unbridled mercy of the Father." I thank you for the condemnation. As a traditionally-minded Catholic, and a convert, it is something I'm all too familiar with.

I do appreciate the rest of your comment and will print it off and keep it for future reference in moments when I need words like these.

Aquinas3000 said...

Emmett, it was in the other thread. Your position (as I understand it) divides the ordinary magisterium (which I think is better called the authoritative magisterium so as not to confuse it with the ordinary and universal magisterium) into two sections. One that deals with faith and morals and another that does not. The former you think (as I understand it) is inerrant and the other can contain error (though you seem to prefer the more ambiguous term "deficiencies"). I think this is your first mistake - there is not such thing as magisterial teaching on topics that do not pertain to faith and morals. Those statements on non faith and morals topics are not magisterial and no Catholic writing on them (especially if it is their area of expertise) needs to give it "submission of intellect and will". Subject matter is the first criterion for something to qualify as magisterial at all let alone what precise category. So in the "ordinary magisterium" (which necessarily is about faith and morals) there can be, though it is very unlikely due to the assistance (but not infallible assistance) that is given. Anything that is infallible is either the ordinary AND universal magisterium or the extraordinary magisterium. The problem with the issue of AL has other complications as the problem there is the ambiguity of what has been said. People are just looking for clarification.

Emmett O'Regan said...

What about the papal encyclical on the environment Laudato Si then? Is this non-magisterial? It's largely based on modern scientific findings concerning diverse topics such as global warming, etc. All magisterial teaching overlaps into other areas such as philosophy, economics, sociology, politics, technology, etc, and magisterial interventions are made in many, many areas. To say otherwise is absurd. The term "deficiencies" is what is used in Donum Veritatis, rather than "errors".

Here's a nice quite from DV para 14:

"It is the mission of the Magisterium to affirm the definitive character of the Covenant established by God through Christ with His People in a way which is consistent with the "eschatological" nature of the event of Jesus Christ. It must protect God's People from the danger of deviations and confusion, guaranteeing them the objective possibility of professing the authentic faith free from error, at all times and in diverse situations."

Aquinas3000 said...

There are ethical principles when it comes to environment. More particular theses that are purely scientific in character would not be magisterial though - it is outside the deposit of faith. So I would certainly not say Laudato Si is not magisterial. I think you are taking a more all or nothing approach. Same with economics - I love the social encyclicals but what a lot of people have forgotten is economics in its higher part is ethical and based on justice hence why the Church can talk about it. But more particular questions can only be advisory and are not a matter of faith and morals.

Aquinas3000 said...

Am I correct though in understand you as holding to a two layered approach to the authentic magisterium (one part of which you have made strictly inerrant - which is what people have been pointing out is to say it is infallible which does not apply to the authentic magisterium but rather a lesser divine assistance that makes error *unlikely* not impossible).

Uriel said...

OT: Do you believe there is any significance to the location of this latest earthquake in Iran/Iraq? From what little I can tell it appears directly in the path of the totality of the eclipse you suggested might be the "sign of Jonah", but I don't know the ancient geography well enough to suggest anything else.


KEP said...

For a teaching to be infallible the Church has to define it? LOL!!! So when Jesus and Peter spoke it was not already infallible? Lol.

The teachings that came out of Jesus' mouth were infallible. The deposit of faith is infallible. Vatican 1 said that anything held with unanimous consent of the Church Fathers is infallible. Vatican 1 specifically says it's forbidden for even thr Church to contradict anything that was unanimously consented by the Church Fathers. It even says the same thing of the scholastics.

(Btw, the church fathers were unanimous in their teaching about divorce, remarriage, and access to the sacraments. So Vatican I shoots down Francis right there)

There can also be no new teachings added to the deposit of faith. The deposit of faith was given only once to the Church. Once. Not once to Peter and then changed by Francis.

When we say a pope, council, or all of the bishops are speaking infallibly, we aren't saying they've come up with a new teaching. We mean that they are more accurately describing what was *already taught* infallibly by Jesus. The infallible magisterium clarifies what Jesus *already infallibly* taught.

For instance, Jesus taught that homosexual sex is always sinful. The church fathers had unanimous consent on this as well. That teaching is infallible.

Folks like Fr. Mart in want to change the teaching. But they cant. It's already infallible from unanimous consent, scripture, ans tradition. It can't be changed, only further developed. Meaning the church could use science and philosophy to further explain what was already taught. But they can't come up with a new teaching that contradict Jesus or the church fathers unanimous consent (i.em homosexuality is not sinful when done with lovING intent).

"Indefectibility means the petrine ministry can never be corrupt in faith and morals" you mean their teaching can't be corrupt, right? Because numerous popes had children out of wedlock, had relationships with prostitutes, etc.

Indefectibility doesn't mean the pope can't put something erroneous in a document. Even benedict said this, as had been pointed oUT to you already. Indefectibility means that the pope or council can bind the church into believing something within the deposit of faith that's incorrect. A Pope could theoretically write a document that had incorrect christology, ad Pope Benedict openly admitted existed in his book about Jesus, but indefectibility means that God would protect the pope from teaching error when he says "I hereby bind all the faithful the believe ____"

In truth this is probably why God has hardened Francis's heart to not answer the dubia. Francis is teaching error in a non-binding way. If he were to answer the dubia he would be binding the faithful to believe error. God had hardened his heart to not answer it and thus stopped francis from officially teaching error.

KEP said...

Emmett, you seem to keep insisting that I'm saying the pope can't teach anything other than what was already taught. That's not what I or Vatican I said.

I said the church only has infallible authority to clarify what was already taught in the deposit of faith. It had no authority to contradict what was already taught.

For instance, Jesus taught that there is one God, and that the father, son, aND Holy Spirit are all God. That was infallible the moment Jesus taught it.

When Arius came along and disagreed with it, the Church clarified what Jesus already taught. It taught that the father and son are of the same substance. It wad not a new teaching, it was a clarification of what Jesus already taught.

Likewise the NT teaches that Jesus was both fully God aND fully man. When heretics came along later and said Jesus only had one will, the Church further clarified what was already taught by Jesus: that He had two wills.

These are not new teachings, but are only clarifications on what was already taught. They develop the deposit of faith, but don't contradict it.

Papal infallibility and indefectibility means that the Holy Spirit will protect the pope or council from binding the faithful from believing error.

For instance, even though most of the bishops at Nicaea were Arian, God prevented the church from defining Arian ism as dogma.

That's indefectibility and infallibility.

Indefectibility and infallibility doesn't mean a pope can't put something erroneous in a papal document. Pope Benedict already admitted he put Christological errors in his biography of Jesus. Likewise Pope John Paul II promulgated a catechism that had errors regarding the Mosaic covenant that he changed upon reprintings. Rather, indefectibility and infallibility means that the pope and council cannot bind the faithful to teach error. For example, God will prevented Arius from winning at Nicaea, prevented Trent from teaching sola fide, or will prevent Fr Martin from changing the teachings today. Indefectibility says nothing about preventing non-binding documents from teaching error.

Emmett O'Regan said...

KEP - yes, Catholics don't hold to Sola Scriptura. All Scripture must be interpreted authoritatively by the Magisterium, and not all dogmas are immediately derived from Scripture. Think of the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption being defined ex cathedra in the extraordinary Magisterium. Read Dei Verbum.
Pope Benedict XVI explicitly stated that his Jesus of Nazareth trilogy was written in his capacity as a private theologian, and thus not part of his Magisterium.
Your understanding of the dogma of indefectibility is similarly seriously lacking. I doubt debating you on this subject will be fruitful.
Your mocking tone is deeply unpleasant. At least others, such as Aquinas etc. can remain respectful in their criticisms.

Emmett O'Regan said...

Thanks for pointing this out Conor! It's certainly worth looking into...

Aquinas - my position on this matter is no different from the Church doctor St. Robert Bellarmine's fourth opinion outlined in de Controversiis Book 4 Chap 2, which he backs with four propositions in the following chapters, which summarizes the dogma of indefectibilty, and was definitively upheld as infallible teaching in Pastor Aeternus and in the ordinary and Universal Magisterium. It can be summarized by St. Bellarmine's third proposition: “Not only can the Supreme Pontiff not err in decrees of faith, but even in precepts of morals which are prescribed for the whole Church…” (de Controversiis Book 4, Chap V). I would highly recommend reading Book 4 of de Controversiis.

I don't really have the time to engage in another lengthy debate in this matter. I'm working on something important atm.

Mark W said...

The earthquake at the Iran/Iraq border would have been in the zone of totality in 1914. The quake swarm recently is around 34.495 degrees north, 45.705 degrees east. This is just south of east from the Iraqi city of Kalar. This would the modern earthquake just at the southern edge of the zone of totality in 1914. This is about 400km (I think) from Nineveh, and is along the zone of totality.

But honestly, does this matter now?

Thomas said...

Well, guys, I don’t mean to shamelessly advertise. I created a blog a month ago and I just wanted to let people know. I am a little socially awkward, so forgive me if I made a social mistake. It’s kind of useless writing a thing if no one is going to read it. I hope that is okay with you, Emmett.

It is at

My first real post is on reason and nominalise. Thought it might be interesting,

Aquinas3000 said...

OK, I understand Emmett. However, by "decrees of faith" I would say Bellarmine has an ex cathedra definition in view. If something can't be in error it is infallible and ergo falls under ex cathedra. I suspect the category of less than infallible but still authoritative teaching was not as fully worked out and distinguished at this point (I'll have to check the De Controversiis to see if Bellarmine mentions these elsewhere). However, my first disagreement with you is whether certain statements even constitute "magisterium" in the first place which is that it must be "faith and morals" quite apart from correctly understanding the characteristics of the different divisions. There are faith and morals teachings are not fully protected by infallibility. I'm not saying they are "optional"; just that they can't be described as inerrant. I am also saying if is not about faith and morals it isn't a teaching at all.

RC said...

Hi Mark,
That is an extremely intriguing last line of your post,and should you have time I'd be most interested if you could expand your thoughts? I maybe thinking along the same lines but could be reading into your post totally wrongly. On a personal note, I believe i read that you were a convert? One of my greatest joys as a so called cradle Catholic was the Easter vigil when we welcomed people into the Church,I believe that converts often bring a more authenic truth of faith that cradles have often lost, so a belated welcome home brother :)

Mark W said...

Thanks, RC, but which post are you thinking of? There are a couple of them up there.

RC said...

In reference to the earthquake and does it matter anymore?

Bridget said...

Hi guys,

I wanted to back track a bit and see if anyone else noticed this. So Hurricane Harvey seemed to kick off an onslaught of natural disasters in America during a short amount of time. Then we had the Harvey (coincidence?) Weinstein scandal that opened the floodgates of victims coming forward of sexual assault and harassment. Surely this is some kind of significant parallel? I noticed the news about Harvey Weinstein broke on Oct. 5th, St. Faustina’s feast day...not sure what the connection is there?

And most recently...Women share graphic sexual harassment stories on Capitol Hill as Congress considers changes

Here’s what’s confusing though... this is happening during Trump’s presidency. ???

“ Trump’s repeated denigration of women on the campaign trail, and the fact that he was elected anyway, set the stage for this moment. Viewed in that light, coming forward about experiences of abuse is both an act of personal courage and a protest against this political moment. For those who see Trump’s election as a dramatic failure in accountability for predatory behavior, speaking out against powerful men—men who allegedly believe they “can do anything” to women—is a kind of correction.”

So could this shift in dialogue about sexual assault be a step towards America’s repentance?

Mark W said...

oh, that's just because the Nineveh earthquake/eclipse are well in the past at this point. If that area has a quake, I think it would be a lot less important that if it happened here.

I rather assume that the earthquakes that might matter would be here in the US, especially after the eclipse here in August. Of course, Vegas was hit by a bit of an "earthquake" in the form of the mysterious shooter. And I'd think Vegas, Hollywood and NYC would be logical locations for some earth shaking event.

And the shooter here in Texas might qualify given what we know about him. He seems to have been fully steeped in darkness. And I don't doubt that to be the case with the guy in Vegas, though we may never know exactly how dark he got.

But it just seems to me that an earthquake in Nineveh, while interesting, would seem to be much less important than it was in the past.

Mark W said...

"Here’s what’s confusing though... this is happening during Trump’s presidency. ??? "

I dunno. I think Trump is a far cry better than the alternative, to be honest. But I think the difference between Trump and Weinstein is a matter of degree - Harvey being far, far worse - and a matter of the up-front nature of the thing. With Harvey, it as a known secret. With The Donald, it's much less secretive. So while Trump is a much better alternative, I don't know that he's a significantly different creature than (potentially) everyone else (male or female) in a position of power. So as a result...

"So could this shift in dialogue about sexual assault be a step towards America’s repentance?"

...I don't see this as a step in this direction. In reality, I don't see any repentance to speak of. Maybe there's a bit here and there, but realistically I don't see much. What we have is more akin to Abraham begging for Sodom, rather than a Nineveh moment.

RC said...

Hi Mark,
Glad i asked for clarification as i was totally off on the wrong tangent!

Regarding the earthquakes there seems to have been a recent upturn in mini quakes this week around the san Francisco san andreas faultline,from what i read in the british press?

As far as the shootings in nevada and Texas, although it is of course distinctly plausible they were mentally deranged, i am of the opinion that these individuals were more than likely possessed or at the very least severely under demonic obsession and oppression.

Anonymous said...

Trump is no angel, of course, but we have to be very, very careful not to swallow the CONSTANT bashing of anything related even remotely to him, including his family. And this has gone on for over a year now. Meanwhile, it seems many have forgotten those on the Left who were involved in much worse. But there's silence there from the Left. I do think Trump, while not perfect, is a refreshing change.

How about the good things he has stood for? He's even attacked for that! He's not afraid to speak of prayer and God, and has encouraged prolife ideology. There is always room for improvement of course, but as for me, I'm going to keep praying for this administration and also encourage them to stand for traditional values.

Trump, his administration, and his family are attacked mercilessly no matter what they do or don't do. Gosh, they can't win, being bashed and discredited by the media and those on the other side every second! We have to be careful of that trap because we hear it so often and can even take it for granted.

Again, the constant drumbeat of condemning their every move by the far-Left leaning media and Dems and also RINOS is designed to distract us from what the Left is up to. Don't be fooled. Pray and please encourage others to pray for our president and our country.

Sr. Marianne Lorraine Trouve said...

Emmett, I have a lot of respect for your work. On this topic of the papacy, however, I have a different viewpoint. My concern is that you are maximalizing papal authority. \
For any who are interested, I found this article on the subject that takes issue with Stephen Walford. thank you

Anonymous said...

Jason, echoing RC’s concern on previous post - everything ok mate?

JMC said...

I was just reading an article at Crisis that cited a couple of psychologists who found that an extremely low percentage of these mass murderers are actually mentally deranged in any way.
You can find the article here:

Emmett O'Regan said...

I don't know what Stephen Walford's exact views are on this. But the view being presented in that article is not what I am arguing for. I merely state that indefectibility prevents the pope from teaching heresy and immortality in the ordinary magisterium. It is passive rather than active. It can't be used to determine what God's Will is, but rather guarantees that a teaching can't be heretical or immoral. If you read Bellarmine's Dr Controversiis Book 4 Chap 2ff, I think you will have a better understanding of where I am coming from.

Anonymous said...

Although this is off-topic, I thought the board would be very interested in the following article. Perhaps consistent with "the fullness of the Gentiles" being brought into the Church, see this piece from today's NCRegister "Muslims are converting to Christianity in record numbers". I believe this has come up in comments to other posts in the past, but I had no idea of the numbers...we're talking millions of Muslims.


Anonymous said...

Jason R - where are you?

Emmett O'Regan said...

Yes, please let us all know you are ok Jason. You've had a terrible time lately...

Mark W said...

Jason - When I was in the service, we had this.

When a chopper was on a certain kind of mission, or flying in certain kinds of weather, a ground based radio station would say, "I have your guard". That means, if that helo didn't check in every 15 minutes the ground station would call them to make sure they were ok. If they didn't answer on one of those check-ins, we'd send help without them asking.

So in a peculiar way, we have your guard, buddy.

So check-in every once in a while or we'll send the military to find you. (And it would undoubtedly be the Canadian military so they'd be very polite and likely on time.)


psieve2 said...

The prodigal son returned to ask his father's forgiveness. That's the difference. If the son has not returned, he would have died without his inheritance. In our case, it's salvific grace. We should not think we are great for staying loyal, but we want what was taught to remain, because the Holy Spirit inspired it. There may be exceptions, but the culpability should be on a priest to wrong moving person basis, unless that person is coming in with a same sex partner to Mass. Scandal must be considered. Confusion must be avoided.

RC said...

I'm sorry it has come to this but you leave me no choice....

Vladimir Putin is a great fella altogether and sure russia is great!!

Justin Trudeau has horrific choice in socks!!!

Maple syrup isn't all it's cracked up to be!!!!

The mounties never get their man!!!!

Bryan Adams is to music what cromwell was to the irish... A plague!!!

Bisping took a dive against st pierre!!!!

Winter sports are like watching paint dry!!!!

Well sir,what say ye?? What proud Canadian could stand for a slander of Bryan Adams????

Bridget said...

Maybe Jason is in the middle of moving and for some reason doesn’t have internet access?? I hope that’s the case! He’ll be pleasantly surprised when he logs back on and sees how many of us are concerned about him!

Jason R. said...

Ahh so sorry to have worried anyone! I've just been packing like crazy and had some last minute legal maneuvering (of curse, sigh, haha) that was also demnanding a lot if my attention. Please know everything is going fantastic in my life, and I'm even starting to heal from some very old emotional injury like i never though possible, thank you Our Lady of Sorrows. Everyone's prayers are helping me in ways I'm sure there is a great link to, and even before ebeeuthingvus settled with thus move I'm smiling and laughing again for the first time in I don't know how long (and your post RC definitely gave me a laugh so hard my sides still hurt lol for real).

But thank you everyone, I feel like I matter in this world... and in no small part to all of you folks. And thank you in particular for that example Mark W... I'll try to jump into the conversation a bit mire, and after Dec. 1st I'll be much more active again!!

Jason R. said...

p.s. though insulting Trudeau isn't a real bad thing in my books and his socks *are* ugly ;)

RC said...

Good to know you are ok my friend,Our Lady of Sorrows is so powerful indeed!Keep close to her Jason and nothing will remain hidden and She will grant many favours and consolations.

Anonymous said...


Good morning from Los Angeles.

Father Wolfe has added a 7th Lecture of Our Lady of revelation/Fatima.

Jason R. said...

Will do RC, I am forever in your debt to making me aware if that particular devotion... I know our Mom will never let us down!!

As an aside, a potential scientific reason for increased seismic activity predicted to grow in 2018:

Thomas said...

I don't think that the immaculate heart has triumphed yet: nations still attack nations, people close their hearts to foreigners or members of other tribes, world hunger--something that can be solved by everyone who can afford it just paying like 30 dollars a year--is neglected because we believe we aren't our brother's keepers, or that some men aren't our brothers or that hunger motivates people to be productive (and that that is more important than the universal destination of goods!). Where is the age of universal brotherhood of man under the Fatherhood of God, a return of materialistic people to their first love, the mass conversions of Muslims and pagans? Am I expecting too much? I know that it won't last forever, because the Lord's second coming will not have happened, but when I read Mother Mary's prophecies of the quarter century of peace and of man's progress in loving neighbors it gives me this hope for the future. When I look at the world today I have to sometimes look at the documented miracles to remind myself that I am not crazy, that God has given undeniable evidence of His existence and power and that the masses have just ignored it or closed their eyes to in spiritual blindness....

Jason R. said...

I feel exactly the same way Thomas, in everything you wrote, and I just find it hard to comprehend in particular that Our Lady would speak in half-measures when thinking of her message at Fatima especially.

Stephen said...

"The Theological Hypothesis of a Heretical Pope”
( "Ipotesi Teologica Di Un Papa Eretico" )

by Arnaldo Vidigal Xavier da Silveira and translated by by John Russell Spann


Anonymous said...


Here is the other lecture posted by Father Phil Wolfe, FFSP
posted two days ago. This is the second part.

Joe from Los Angeles.

Bridget said...

Emmett, have you seen this?? You’ve been given a dubium!

RC said...

Excellent article,thanks for the link

Bridget said...

Hey everybody!

I have another question. I’m surprised this hasn’t gotten more discussion. Emmett, I’m pulling this from your post back in 2013 about the The Three Days of Darkness and Angelic Pope. So the visions of Bl. Elizabeth Canori-Mora...don’t they clearly suggest that the Angelic Pope will be a Jesuit? Or what did I miss??

“Early in 1821 Our Lord said to her, “I will reform my people and my Church. I will send zealous priests to preach my Faith. I will form a new apostolate and send the Holy Ghost to renew the world. I will reform the religious orders by means of new holy and learned reformers. They will all have the spirit of my predilect son Ignatius of Loyola. I will provide my Church with a new pastor, who is learned, holy and full of My Spirit. With holy zeal he will reform My flock.”

RC said...

An Angelic Shepherd. PIUS XII. 1939-1958. This Pope had an affinity for the spiritual world and received visions which have not been made public. Peter Bander says Pius XII "has emerged as one of the great Popes of all time," and he "was in the truest sense of the word an Angelic Pastor to the flock..."

There were occasional rumors of visions and "angelic" phenomena associated with Pius XII during the entire duration of his papacy (1939-58). After one of these mystical visions he reportedly told one of his assistants, "Mankind must prepare itself for sufferings such as it has never before experienced." He expressed dismay at what he saw facing humanity in the not so distant future, describing those times as "the darkest since the deluge."

Bridget said...

Jumping back to America’s sexual assault reckoning...some interesting comments from fans of the Today Show outside of the Rockefeller Center in the wake of Matt Lauer being fired.

"I happen to think this is the century of the evil one, and it’s not going to end, unless everyone comes back to putting God first, and we Americans have lost that"

- Eileen Quinlan, outside 'Today Show' studio

Unknown said...