Let’s Look at Roman Catholicism

Papal Infallibility

The claim to infallibility is unquestionably a prodigious claim. It is more than an assertion of freedom from error; it is the claim to being “incapable of erring.” Infallibility therefore, is an attribute which duly belongs to God alone. Or does it?

For centuries, from the sixth onwards, papal infallibility had been claimed and generally approved throughout the Roman Catholic Church. Thus, in the year 1075, Pope Gregory VII stated: “the Papacy never will err to all eternity according to the testimony of Holy Scripture.” Disputes however, amongst the cardinals and theologians of the church, kept the issue unsettled, as official dogma, until in the year 1869 Pope Pius IX, the longest serving Pope in history, summoned the first Vatican Council in Rome, and took the matter in hand. On 18th July 1870 he issued a decree declaring that papal definitions in matters of faith and morals were infallible in their own right; and not as the result of the consent of church councils. Thus, one man, provided he was the Pope, could now sovereignly determine and dictate the faith and morals of the universal Church. It is stated by some historians that a considerable number of bishops departed in a hurry from Rome at the time, fearing to be involved in voting for such a decree. We are informed that more than five hundred bishops however, were persuaded to give their support to Pius, and the deed was done. According to historians, when one of his aides, Cardinal Guida, Archbishop of Bologna, suggested that papal infallibility was not contained in the tradition of the Church, Pius summoned him and proceeded to berate him, exclaiming, “I am tradition; I am the Church.” Thus, in the year 1870, by papal decree, what had been generally accepted and approved for centuries, as a matter of tradition, became official church dogma—“divinely revealed dogma.” The resolve of the Council was: “The Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is to say, when in the exercise of his office of Shepherd and Teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines that a doctrine in faith and morals is to be held by the whole Church, he possesses by the divine assistance promised to him in the person of blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine redeemer willed his church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. Therefore, such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the church irreformable.” The decision of the session ended—“So then, should anyone, which God forbid, have the temerity to reject this definition of ours: let him be anathema.Session four, 18th July 1870

By this official dogma of papal infallibility, every succeeding Pope is under an obligation to uphold the decrees of previous Popes. Without this continued agreement; the whole of Popedom, disintegrates, while attempts to maintain its unique authority are futile. The present Pope Francis, may indeed instruct his colleagues, associates, and employees to refer to him as the “bishop of Rome,” rather than Pope, as though he would personally distance himself from some of the presumptuous claims of his papal predecessors, but he is duty bound by the nature and authority of his office to defend their ridiculous pontifical assertions and decrees. Yes, even heretical Popes are to be recognized as belonging to the fraternity of the infallibles. The Roman Catholic Church does itself admit that some of the Popes were accused of and condemned for grievous misconduct and even heresy. It is true that disagreements have, and continue to exist within the Church, as to which Popes were heterodox, but certainly several have been identified at one time or another in history for their unorthodox theology or practices. Popes, recognized as such by the Roman Church, who have come in for criticism, censure, and penalty, make an impressive list. Liberius 352–366; Vigilius 537–555; Honorius 625–638; Stephen VI 896–897; Sergius III 904–911; John XII 955–964; Benedict IX 1032–1048; Gregory VII 1073–1085; Urban II 1088–1099; Boniface VIII 1294–1303; John XXII 1316–1334; Clement VI 1342–1352; Gregory XI 1370–1378; Alexander VI 1492–1503; Leo X 1513–1521; Julius III 1550–1555; Paul VI 1963–1978. These, along with others, have each been accused by some party or parties within the Church, for not having lived up to the expectations for the papacy, morally, spiritually, or theologically. Some in fact, have been judged totally unscrupulous and outrageously immoral, with little, if any, human decency. What therefore becomes obvious to anyone looking on, is the fact that the Pope can utter heresy on one occasion, act like a devil on another, and soon after, follow it up with an infallible decree, just because he is the Pope. His character and morals are irrelevant, it seems. His office is all-impowering. It is everything.

Roman Catholic Canon law states: “In virtue of his office the Supreme Pontiff is infallible in his teaching when, as chief Shepherd and Teacher of all Christ’s faithful, with the duty of strengthening his brethren in the faith, he proclaims by definitive act a doctrine to be held concerning faith or morals.Canon 749 #1

The warrant for this papal authority, it is claimed, is the Pope’s unction (chrism) from the Holy Spirit, preventing him from speaking in error. It becomes rather difficult therefore, to distinguish between papal infallibility, and the inspiration under which the prophets and apostles spoke and wrote. The additional papal claim to apostolic succession of course solves the problem. Each occupant of ‘St. Peters chair,’ it appears, is entitled to inspiration as much as his apostolic predecessor. However much deluded evangelicals applaud the present Pope, and however many join the bandwagon to union with Rome, the doctrine of Papal infallibility has not been diluted in this century, but if anything, it is more confirmed in church dogma than ever. Canon law defines schism as “the withdrawal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or from communion with the members of the Church subject to him.Canon 751. In addition; it states, “An apostate from the faith, a heretic or a schismatic incurs a ‘latae sententiae’ excommunication.Canon 1364. Every bible believing Protestant therefore, who refuses the papal substitute for the sole and only headship of the Lord Jesus Christ over the Church; who rejects the spurious claims of the Popes of Rome, is by default under Rome’s sentence of excommunication. The only way that the sentence of excommunication can be lifted is when the condemned party acknowledges, as a penitent, the sin committed and the justice of the sentence. Bible Protestants are not merely, as so often alluded to, “separated brethren,” but according to the consistent teaching of Rome, they are guilty of gross sin against Christ and his true Church. One can only wonder when Protestants and Evangelicals are going to awaken to the facts as they really are.

The Second Vatican Council which met from 1962–65, addressed the burning question; “Is the Roman Catholic Church only a Christian denomination, one of many branches of the Church, each of whom shares in a partial possession of Christ’s revealed truth and its own equally valid and effective means of sanctification?” Rome’s unequivocal answer was delivered to the world. “That which constitutes the one true Church—its churchness, so to speak—not merely exists but it subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him. Behind the carefully chosen verb ‘subsists’ stands the affirmation that the objective fullness of Christ’s heritage to the Church—totality of his revelation, totality of his sacraments, and totality of authority to rule the people of God in his name—resides in the Catholic Church, of which the bishop of Rome is the visible head.The Catholic Catechism.

This Council, the twenty-first ecumenical Council, congregated in St. Peter’s Basilica, in the Vatican, was opened by Pope John XXIII on 11th October 1962 and was concluded by Pope Paul VI on 8th December 1965. Its purpose was to address, “relations between the Catholic Church and the modern world.” All things considered then, it is obvious that as far as Rome is concerned, the only real hope for our human race; is for all of us to become submissive to the Supreme Pontiff, who resides in the tiny Vatican state. The modern world of humanity is thus required to fix its relationship with the Holy See and acknowledge the power and authority of the Pope; one of the seven remaining absolute rulers in the modern world, and incidentally, the only one who is elected to rule, without the requirement of hereditary entitlement. Although the Pope resides and rules in the Vatican state, the smallest in the world, yet it is claimed, he is the supreme ruler over 1.29billion Catholics worldwide. This is by far the largest number of subjects under any earthly ruler. This status enables him to advise governments and politicians worldwide, so that his influence goes far beyond his spiritual flock. Although recent Popes may have discontinued to adorn themselves with the triple crown worn by their predecessors, as the symbol of their extensive power, they continue to speak and act as though they are entitled to wear it. No other human being on the planet comes anywhere near to possessing the kind of power exercised by the papacy, and certainly no other ruler in the developed world is deemed to be endowed with the attribute of infallibility. “When the Pope speaks, the world listens.

The apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian believers predicting the outcome from forsaking or rejecting the truth of God. He wrote “for this cause, God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” Rome’s doctrine of papal infallibility is established on falsehood and the distortion of biblical teaching, yet multitudes are deluded into believing it. What a terrible judgment!