Thursday, February 28, 2013

Habemus Papam Temporarium

Forget all this Sede Vacante nonsense: His Grace very ably occupied the Chair of St Augustine during the Church of England’s recent interregnum, and humbly administered with theological grace and political wisdom (for which he received sincere thanks from Lambeth Palace). And so it has been determined by Twitter Conclave that he should now occupy the Chair of St Peter until such time as the Holy Spirit should inform the Conclave of Cardinals who will be the next incarnate pope.

Unlike all other ordained Anglicans, His Grace’s holy orders are not ‘absolutely null and utterly void’: he was ordained in 1520 (or 1521 – he can’t quite remember) and, pursuant to a papal grant, he was (and so remains) licensed to preach in all the dioceses of (what is now) the United Kingdom. Ergo, there is no ecclesio-theological bar to his becoming the (temporary) Bishop of Rome and successor of St Peter. Of course, not all Christians will agree with this, for we know that not all Christians believe that the Pope is uniquely charged with a particular care for the unity of Christ’s flock. The Church of England is a perpetual reminder that unity in faith may be diverse in expression.

But while His Grace is pontificating (literally) over the coming days or weeks (or, should the Holy Spirit tarry, months or years), he hopes to bring renewal with a tinge of reformation to the Church of Rome.

He will not begin with superficial media obsessions (ie sex scandals, or, more specifically, gay sex scandals). He does not believe that Rome has abandoned Semper Eadem for Hierarchy, Bureaucracy and Homosexuality (though reports about the Curia suggest otherwise). To assist the next pope with putting his house in order, His Grace’s first act will be to rectify some theological baggage which is an undoubted bar to ecumenical relations.

And no, we’re not talking about mandatory celibacy (these things will be dealt with over the coming weeks (/months). His Grace would firstly like to deal with the issue of ‘Papal Infallibility’, for while that teaching remains, the reunion of Canterbury with Rome is not a remote possibility.

Look, it’s only been a dogma since 1870. Yes, it was invoked in medieval superstitious traditions centuries before that, but never as an immutable doctrine of faith. And since Pope Pius IX who pronounced it obviously wasn’t infallible when it was imparted ex cathedra, it plainly cannot be an infallible pronouncement. Good grief, even some popes don’t agree with it. Pope John XXIII is reported to have said: “I am only infallible if I speak infallibly but I shall never do that, so I am not infallible.”

Note the ‘never’.

As far His Grace is concerned (and probably Pope John XXIII), there is and has ever been only one man who was and remains preserved from error, and that man is Christ Jesus. St Peter certainly never claimed infallibility when defining doctrine concerning faith or morals, so quite why any of those who claim to be his successors should believe they are preserved from the possibility of error when doing so is something of a mystery (or blasphemy).

This is no trivial matter or minor doctrine. It is a stumbling block if not an insurmountable hurdle for all non-Roman-Catholic Christians. Rowan, Lord Williams said that Pope Benedict’s resignation has fundamentally altered perceptions; that ‘the pope is not like a sort of God-king who goes on to the very end’. If the concept of ‘God-king’ has been dispelled, it is surely time to ditch the pretention to infallibility.

Ministry is service: to be a bishop is to be pastoral. And this occasionally necessitates expressions of authority and the administration of discipline. But it is very easy to confuse infallibility of administrative action with infallibility of doctinal morality. That Pope Benedict has broken with centuries of tradition and abdicated his throne has dented the infallible authority of the God-king. If power may be handed on voluntarily to a successor, it may be dispersed. If it may be dispersed, its manifestation becomes ambiguous. The Pontiff who emptied himself of all authority has also relativised all claims of infallibility.

Further, the Holy See has never published a comprehensive list of what, precisely, constitutes the infallible canon of Petrine interpolations. This creates spiritual confusion in the people of God. Certainly, we know about the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary, but what is the status of (say) Humanae Vitae or Ordinatio Sacerdotalis? The one prohibits artificial contraception; the other reserves the priestly ordination to men alone. Are these infallible (and so immutable) teachings? The Roman Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth Philip Egan certainly believes Humanae Vitae to be so, yet many liberals clearly dismiss its teachings with impunity. Who arbitrates in these disputes, and by what authority? Does Bishop Philip Egan police the bedrooms of his flock and anathematise the contraceptive recidivists as vehemently as he would those who repudiate Transubstantiation?

Papal Infallibility is contrary to Scripture and reason. It is pseudo history and ecclesial illusion. Therefore His Grace’s first act as the (temporary) successor of St Peter is now revealed:
By the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by His Grace’s own authority, He declares, pronounces and defines the doctrine of papal fallibility when defining doctrine concerning faith or morals, to be revealed by God and as such to be firmly and immutably held by all the faithful.
And His Grace does not anathematise anyone who deliberately dissents from this infallible teaching, for he doesn’t think that’s very Christian at all.


Blogger David Keen said...

This doesn't seem very politically astute, surely you'll need the leverage of papal infallibility to get all the other changes through, then drop it when you've wrung it dry?

28 February 2013 at 19:43  
Blogger bluedog said...

This is revolutionary stuff, Your Grace. The entire thrust of your acting-Papacy seems directed towards smoothing the path of Anglican anschluss with Rome. Emeritus Pope Benedict will be doing cartwheels of joy.

Say it isn't so.

In any event, the positive aspect of your ascencion to the throne of Peter is the immense practical experience that you have in running a global cyber diocese. No other prelate in Christendom can command the faithful in so many provinces at the click of a mouse in the way that Your Grace is able to do.

Benedict had many strengths as an academic theologian but one understands that in practical matters, such as administration of the Roman Church, he was rubbish.

28 February 2013 at 19:53  
Blogger Bridget said...

So when parliament passes a law is it not infallibly true that that law is law? And when the Church formally declares doctrine is it not infallibly true that that is Church Doctrine binding on all members of the Church? What point that the Apostles be sent forth to proclaim the truth if they are obliged to add the proviso that what they proclaim may not actually be true? How little faith abides here.

28 February 2013 at 20:07  
Blogger Corrigan said...

I thought we excommunicated you before we toasted you? You're not filling in for anyone.

28 February 2013 at 20:09  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Your Grace, I'll have to show you one day how to select hair in Photoshop...there's no easy shortcut, though. In any case as your loyal Fool and fashion consultant, may I recommend the clean-shaven Cranmer look, the one before he and his cronies got all Proddy and Calvinist and grew their beards? No reason to shock millions of Catholics for no good teason ( never bought the "sign of mourning for King Harry" claim... methinks it was contemporaneous Beatnikism.) And please, YG,if you must wear a kippa, wear a proper kippa srugah... the Zionist knit cap. Those white things they hand out at weddings and Reform bar/bat mitzvahs are passe...leather ones in crazy colours are in as well; mauve, hot pink and melon green.

28 February 2013 at 20:26  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Ha! Stuff your nightmares are made of, eh Corrigan? A resurrected Proddie martyr in a Jew-cap as your Pope.

28 February 2013 at 20:37  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


Perhaps you can enlighten us?

1. What is the infallible list of infallible teachings to which every Roman Catholic must give assent under penalty of anathema?

2. Since we already know you can't answer Question One, perhaps you can instead tell us why the RCC has never published an infallible list of infallible teachings? Does the RCC have some difficulty identifying its own infallible teachings?

3. What is the purpose of an infallible interpreter who never infallibly interprets?


28 February 2013 at 20:38  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Your Grace,

As the new internet Pope, if you are declared an 'anti Pope' by Corrigan and the cyber swiss guards, I hope you have a retreat some where like the old anti-popes had some decent papal vineyards- Châteauneuf-du-Cranmer, lol.

28 February 2013 at 20:48  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

You could be onto something there Archbishop...

Picture this, a day in December...(No, that’s not it, though the weather is that way. Ah, here it is....)

Picture this, instead of the church splitting over Luther’s demands, an inspired pope ordered a root and branch enquiry, a Vatican Council I if you will. The result, a new realisation of the faith and at a time of renaissance. It could have paved the way for a string of Nordic popes, including pre-cremation Cranmer, instead of hundreds of years of Italian safe hands papas.

You could have been Pope Adrian VII – you would have taken the only ever English previous pope’s name, one presumes...

28 February 2013 at 20:49  
Blogger Corrigan said...

Here's something I've always been curious about: everybody hates us - or at least thinks we're a bunch of weirdos - including our estranged brethren, yet everybody piles in to comment on our doctrines, dogmas, popes, conclaves, funny ceremonies, veneration of Our Lady, yadda, yadda, yadda. It's like you guys all think you own a piece of us. What's the story?

28 February 2013 at 21:07  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

A kind suggestion for a name, Inspector. His Grace will be amused, no doubt. What brand of cigs would you like me to bring when I visit you in the Vatican dungeons?

28 February 2013 at 21:09  
Blogger Stewart Griffin said...

"since Pope Pius IX who pronounced it obviously wasn’t infallible when it was imparted ex cathedra"

How is it obvious?

"even some popes don’t agree with it. Pope John XXIII is reported to have said: “I am only infallible if I speak infallibly but I shall never do that, so I am not infallible.”"

Choosing to never exercise the charism of infallibility is not the same as not agreeing with the doctrine of Papal infallibility.

28 February 2013 at 21:12  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Well, Corrigan, Catholicism has left a rather hefty footprint, for one. Some of us have had our little tails and paws stepped on a few times too, hence the familiarity bit, I suppose.

28 February 2013 at 21:13  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Avi,

Well as I am filthy smoker, my smokes are Marlboro Lights.

And I think that a nice black velvet Kippah is the fashion for Jewish Orthodox blokes, but one of my distant relatives likes to wear a shtreimel and some of my mum's relatives sport a Jewish tubeteika .

28 February 2013 at 21:24  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Corrigan,

" you guys all think you own a piece of us. What's the story"

The story is a bit like when you complain and butt your nose into discussing the Jewish homeland and the right of the Jewish people to that small piece of G-d given land... well, when you post here it is like you think you own a piece of Israel. What's the story?

28 February 2013 at 21:27  
Blogger Corrigan said...

I do own a piece of Israel...or at least my claim on it is as good as some Canadian truck driver or sometime Anglican. Although not as good, I'll admit, as that of the indigenous population.

28 February 2013 at 21:32  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Corrigan,

"the indigenous population"

Yes that's right. They are called Jews. Glad to see you are seeing things differently now.

28 February 2013 at 21:35  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

"sometime Anglican"

Or a Jew with a soft spot for the Anglican Church, who has Anglican relatives. If you read my blog, you will see I am explaining in detail my reasoning on these faith matters, from an explanation of my experience of 'the alpha course'. Mind you it will be 15 days of intensive posting. Could you handle that? Why I doubt it.

28 February 2013 at 21:38  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Good taste, Miss Hannah...I get the same when in States. Will have to cover the serious politics of black velvet kippas versus knit ones one day... I'm of the latter type. Methinks corrigan feels a little Jewish today; seen it happen before.

28 February 2013 at 21:38  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Avi,

Well, I am getting into knitting, so I am doing a 'rainbow' style Kippah. Perhaps it might catch on?

28 February 2013 at 21:39  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Rainbow as in the story of Noah, rather than rainbow as in 'gay pride'. LOL.

28 February 2013 at 21:42  
Blogger len said...

It would seem that the Pope becomes 'infallible' when he speaks ex cathedra (from the Chair of Peter)

This [seems to me] would assume an unbroken line from the first Pope(claimed to be Peter by the
Catholic Church) to the present Pope.
Presumably any break in this line of succession would break the continuity?So an unrepentant' heretical Pope'would break the line (there have been a few of those)also their have been several people claiming the Papacy at the same time.One pope sold the Papacy to the highest bidder.So much for the liner of succession?.
So when the Pope claims to be 'infallible' he obviously isn`t.Who would fall for that anyway?.

28 February 2013 at 21:46  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


FYI. The "Canadian truck driver" has a son in the IDF at the moment. That would make his claim considerably more substantial than yours. And why exactly would you disparage a man's profession like that? He does an honorable job and deserves respect for it. Certainly you aren't suggesting that a "Canadian truck driver" is by definition somehow inferior, are you? Because that is what it sounded like.

who is glad he didn't have to attempt a defense of Avi's haircut

28 February 2013 at 21:52  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

28 February 2013 21:07
Avi Barzel said...
A kind suggestion for a name, Inspector. His Grace will be amused, no doubt. What brand of cigs would you like me to bring when I visit you in the Vatican dungeons?.

28 February 2013 21:13
Hannah Kavanagh said...
Hi Avi,
Well as I am filthy smoker, my smokes are Marlboro Lights.
And I think that a nice black velvet Kippah is the fashion for Jewish Orthodox blokes, but one of my distant relatives likes to wear a shtreimel and some of my mum's relatives sport a Jewish tubeteika

How very odd.

28 February 2013 at 21:55  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Dreds,

What's odd about that?

28 February 2013 at 22:03  
Blogger Henry Hobart said...

Have you forgotten that "The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England."

28 February 2013 at 22:08  
Blogger bluedog said...

You know the form, Mr Avi Barzel @ 20.37, just flick the compression brakes on as you drive past the Corrigans at 0300. Let the earth move for them.

28 February 2013 at 22:09  
Blogger Bridget said...

The fact that one has a Supreme Court constituted to declare definitively and with due process on the law doesn't mean that the court should declare on all laws, or indeed on any law. And why would you describe the Pope as an infallible interpreter? That's not the claim. The claim is that when the Church enunciates doctrine that is to be "held definitely", and when she does so through her Pope, then he enunciates infallible doctrine.
The Church is a body with her own worldly structure and organization, no part of which can be properly understood unless in relation to the whole.  She has a life and a history and a mission through which, and for which, she expresses herself in the world, and the elements of papacy, papal infallibility and magisterium are essential components in that life and expression. 
Be as glib as you like Carl. But to what end? Certainly to no end at serves the truth.

28 February 2013 at 22:09  
Blogger len said...

Papal 'infallibility'?.

In defence of Church Dogma Pope Urban V111 threatened an elderly and very ill Galileo with torture if he would not renounce his claim that the earth revolved around the sun.Declaring that this belief was contrary to scripture, the pope had Galileo on his knees in fear for his life,recanting of this 'heresy'before the 'Holy' office of the Inquisition.The geocentric view remained official Catholic dogma for Centuries with 'infallible pope after 'infallible pope confirming it!.It was not until 1992 that the Vatican conceded that Galileo was right!.

Well that is 'papal infallibility' 'done and dusted' there is so much more to do and time is short'go for it Your Grace!.

28 February 2013 at 22:11  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


I said "Infallible Interpreter" because (theoretically at least) the RCC derives its doctrines and dogmas from Sacred Scripture & Sacred Tradition. It does not claim a chrism of revelation.

I note that you didn't answer my question, however. Why has the RCC never published an infallible list of infallible teachings given the fact that RCs are bound to believe those teachings under penalty of an anathema? You say that the RCC doesn't have to make an infallible pronouncement on every issue. I wonder why it shouldn't given the mantle of infallibility the covers the Pope and the Magisterium, but leave that aside. Your response doesn't begin to address the question I asked. Why won't the RCC tell its faithful laity what it has infallibly declared?


28 February 2013 at 22:20  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Sorry, Dteadnaught, a quip about the name selection only the Inspector may get. The ciggarette bit is mere fluff.

The brotherhood of truckers thanks you, Carl. Next time you find the grill of a Peterbilt or a Volvo 780 in your mirror, crank open your window and shout out my name. It might help. My better half made me trim hair and beard and they won't be in full Glory til the summer.

Corrigan: kiss my Jewish trucker (_*_)

28 February 2013 at 22:21  
Blogger Stewart Griffin said...

The Catholic Encyclopaedia on objections to Papal infallibility covers Galileo:

"As to the Galileo affair, it is quite enough to point out the fact that the condemnation of the heliocentric theory was the work of a fallible tribunal. The pope cannot delegate the exercise of his infallible authority to the Roman Congregations, and whatever issues formally in the name of any of these, even when approved and confirmed in the ordinary official way by the pope, does not pretend to be ex cathedra and infallible. The pope, of course, can convert doctrinal decisions of the Holy Office, which are not in themselves infallible, into ex cathedra papal pronouncements, but in doing so he must comply with the conditions already explained — which neither Paul V nor Urban VIII did in the Galileo case."

28 February 2013 at 22:27  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Avi,

Dreds is doing his Donald Rumsfeld act vis myself and other bloggers, in some mystic atheist way. Which is utter silly stuff, but that is up to him. As Rummie said :

"There are known knowns; there are things we know we know.
We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know.But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know."

So to Dreadnaught there are things he thinks he knows, but doesn't really know, but to him these are known unknowns. No -one really knows what Dreddie is trying to say, but to some people they know, that we know, what he thinks he knows is wrong. But he doesn't know that.

28 February 2013 at 22:28  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

A Brother-Trucker? is this some Canadian equivalent of Cockney Rhyming Slang? if not it should be. :)

28 February 2013 at 22:35  
Blogger Bridget said...

Carl, So you didn't bother to read from the link I provided? Am I surprised?

28 February 2013 at 22:36  
Blogger William said...


Nice brackets!

28 February 2013 at 22:37  
Blogger Stewart Griffin said...

"given the fact that RCs are bound to believe those teachings under penalty of an anathema?"

Anathema no longer exists as a category of excommunication in canon law. You can be automatically excommunicated and the list of possible reasons for this is available by either studying canon law itself or by finding a condensed list online.

28 February 2013 at 22:49  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


To be quite honest, I didn't even notice the link until you mentioned it. I have now examined it, and I wonder what I am to do with it. The link you provided is not an infallible document. Or are you saying that JPII made an infallible declaration during his Pontificate, that this document is a commentary attached to that infallible document, and that this commentary by Cardinal Ratzinger is therefore likewise infallible? If so, this is quite a revelation.


28 February 2013 at 22:53  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Why, thank you William. They do look better in Times Roman, but one must work with what one has.

Bluedog, once Corrigan shared with me a trick he plays on trucks by slowing down in front of them to make the driver gear down. If he knew about air brakes and how they work and the time it can take a tired driver to double-clutch, he might think twice...or not, in which case he might earn himself the posthumous Darwin award.

28 February 2013 at 22:55  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Stewart Griffin

You should mention that to the authors of the (infallible) Canons on Justification for the (infallible) Council of Trent. Because they (infallibly & repeatedly) declared anathema on anyone who rejected the Canons so presented.


28 February 2013 at 22:56  
Blogger Stewart Griffin said...

Carl Jacobs, You can find out more about anathema's here.

From the link:

"Because the penalty has been abolished, a word should be said about the status of the conciliar canons that employed this penalty. In addition to prescribing the imposition of a juridical penalty, the phrase anathema sit ("let him be anathema") also came to be one of the phrases that the Church traditionally has used to issue doctrinal definitions.

Catholic scholars have long recognized that when an ecumenical council applies this phrase to a doctrinal matter, then the matter is settled infallibly. (If a council applied the phrase to a disciplinary matter, then the matter would not be settled infallibly, since only matters of doctrine, not discipline, are subject to doctrinal definition.)

Thus, when Trent and other ecumenical councils employed anathema sit in regard to doctrinal matters, not only was a judicial penalty prescribed but a doctrinal definition was also made. Today, the judicial penalty may be gone, but the doctrinal definition remains. Everything that was infallibly decided by these councils is still infallibly settled."

Basically, the 'let him be anathema' statements had a dual purpose: i) define an infallible teaching ii) set out a disciplinary measure. The infallible teaching remains, but the disciplinary procedure has changed. It is no big deal.

28 February 2013 at 23:10  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Stewart Griffin

How can an infallibly declared punishment be retro-actively removed? What happened to those in the 16th century who were condemned by these Canons? Frankly, this sounds a lot like the 'shuck and jive' RCs use to try to justify the changes in EENS without risking the falsification of EENS.


1 March 2013 at 00:47  
Blogger Stewart Griffin said...

"How can an infallibly declared punishment be retro-actively removed?"

It could not be. Which is okay as there were not any.

As the article I linked explained the 'let him be anathema' formulation had developed over time to have a particular meaning. That meaning did not include the disciplinary measure being infallibly set in stone for all time. The phrase, like much technical and scholastic language in other areas of life, can be easily misunderstood if you are not wary.

"What happened to those in the 16th century who were condemned by these Canons?"

No one was condemned. As the article I linked to said:

"1. An anathema sentenced a person to hell. This is not the case. Sentencing someone to hell is a power that is God’s alone, and the Church cannot exercise it.

2. An anathema was a sure sign that a person would go to hell. Again, not true. Anathemas were only warranted by very grave sins, but there was no reason why the offender could not repent, and those who repent aren’t damned."

So, if they went to hell they went to hell, if they did not they did not. The ending of anathemas had no impact on their eternal judgement and were not themselves their eternal judgements.

1 March 2013 at 01:13  
Blogger Ivan said...

Cranmer: Ms Kim Hoa doesn't seem too impressed.

1 March 2013 at 02:23  
Blogger Ivan said...

Cranmer: Ms Kim Hoa doesn't seem too impressed.

1 March 2013 at 02:24  
Blogger Manfarang said...

Your Grace
Kippers for breakfast this morning?

1 March 2013 at 04:04  
Blogger Corrigan said...

Give it up, Stewart, you're not telling Carl what he wants to hear.

1 March 2013 at 07:43  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Humanae Vitae was never held as infallible - quite deliberately. Indeed, not only is it not infallible, but Pope Paul refused to censure the theologians who publicly differed from it.

It is an article of faith that under certain circumstances the Pope is protected from error by the Holy Spirit. This certainly doesn't apply to everything that a Pope says, or even most things that a Pope says. Our wisest and humblest popes have admitted this more than once.

1 March 2013 at 08:32  
Blogger bluedog said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1 March 2013 at 09:43  
Blogger bluedog said...

Your Grace, or should that be 'Holy Father' during the period of your locum?

Whatever. The period of your incumbency in the Vatican is clearly an opportunity not to be missed.

Two things spring to mind.

Firstly, the abdication of Pope Benedict opens a can of worms. The principle issue to be decided is how long is the term of the papacy now that it may no longer be for life. Judges reach the age of statutory senility at 72, which is considered young for a Pope. Which may tell us something about the Papacy. But is the Papacy now to be held until a retiring age, say, 85, or is the Papacy to be a fixed term appointment, say ten years? These would appear to be the options if life is not.

Your communicant feels that once the cardinals are shut into the conclave to decide on a new pope, they cannot do so without addressing these threshold issues. It follows that your tenure in Rome, Holy Father, may not be short and you will need to pack something more than an overnight bag.

The second suggestion arises because of the chaos that will result in the Roman Church once the enormity of Benedict's betrayal sinks in. Far from Rome appearing to be a beacon of stability to disaffected Anglicans, your communicant forsees Canterbury appearing as a haven of peace to disillusioned Romans. As acting-Pope, your phone-call to ++ Welby should be enough to set up an Ordinariate under the supervision of Canterbury entitled Romanorum Coetibus. Within this structure Roman cardinals, bishops and the priesthood could retain their own liturgy and traditions with the undemanding requirement that they recognise Her Majesty the Queen as Supreme-Governor. As the Anglican Communion is globally positioned, your communicant feels that this initiative could have surprisingly broad appeal, especially in the Global South. Indeed, as a further incentive, Romanorum Coetibus provinces would be entitled to use the CofE constitution, should they so wish, and establish an elected House of Laity. For the first time in history, those in Roman communion would have a say in their government of their church.

Your communicant is confident that the Holy Spirit will guide you forward on the path outlined above, Holy Father.

1 March 2013 at 09:57  
Blogger David B said...

It will come as no surprise toregular communicants to find that I agree with His Grace on the subject of papal infallibility.


1 March 2013 at 10:00  
Blogger Ars Hendrik said...

A worthy attempt, but inherent nonsense nonetheless.

From a position of self-acknowledged fallibility (very gracious of you) you've pronounced fallibly on papal infallibility. It's the old "There are no absolute rules" contradiction.

You are beginning to sound as if you have a red telephone on your desk with a direct line to Jesus. Hubris, as the pagans called it.

1 March 2013 at 10:03  
Blogger Paul Burgin said...

My understanding is the Pope is only talking infallibly when he invokes Canon Law and that has only been done once since 1870, by Pius XII in the 1950s.However I am a Methodist, not Catholic, and so my understanding is limited by I do feel unhappy with the doctrine

1 March 2013 at 12:10  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...


You're measuring "anathema" against present Church position, not the position that was contemporary to the usage Carl describes.

Very basically that's why he says (and I largely agree with him) that it's a bait and switch. Because you take authority from an insitution, you take its present position; but, uniquely in many ways, you assert its authority on the basis of the RCC's history, that it represents a continuous seat of authority with cumulatively authoritative teachings.

The Catholic Church is continuous only in its descent from the apostles.

1 March 2013 at 12:42  
Blogger Driftwood said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1 March 2013 at 13:13  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

"Although the individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, they nevertheless proclaim Christ's doctrine infallibly whenever, even though dispersed through the world, but still maintaining the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter, and authentically teaching matters of faith and morals, they are in agreement on one position as definitively to be held." ~Vatican II; Lumen Gentium

Herein lies the problem

At no point in the years since Humanae Vitae was published has there been full agreement amongst the bishops on the subject. Not even when it was first published. And in the last week alone, the German bishops have pronounced that emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy after rape is permitted to be given by Catholic hospitals.

One wonders if Pope Paul foresaw the prolonged debates that would come, and chose deliberately not to make this teaching infallible for that reason. We shall never know.

1 March 2013 at 14:53  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1 March 2013 at 15:07  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Holy Father,
Is there any chance of my meditating in one the Holy See's summer palaces please?

Avi, Did you mean 'Double de-clutch'? That is what my father taught ne to do on cars that had no auto synch. His father was a chauffeur and we leant from him how to change gear seamlessly and undetectable.

1 March 2013 at 15:16  
Blogger Stewart Griffin said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1 March 2013 at 15:31  
Blogger Jesse said...

Your Grace, "papa", although of the first declension, is in fact a masculine noun. This post's title should read "Habemus Papam temporarium".

1 March 2013 at 16:06  
Blogger Driftwood said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1 March 2013 at 17:07  
Blogger Jon said...

Pronouncements "ex cathedra" are infallible. That's some chair...

Stewart Griffin - I think you are Dodo and I would like my £5.

1 March 2013 at 17:07  
Blogger outsider said...

Your Grace and temporary Holiness: You write that(only) "one man who was and remains preserved from error, and that man is Christ Jesus".
As an adoring outsider, it seems to me that Jesus, as reported, made many errors and human gaffes. More importantly, all mainstream churches think that Jesus made errors, most blatantly in his commandment that thou shall not swear. As Tolstoy explained at his usual length, this was meant literally for good reason, yet all mainstream churches approve the swearing of oaths for official and business purposes. Of course, they do not say Jesus was wrong, merely that he did not really mean exactly what he is reported to have said, but as church doctrine is 180 degrees opposite to what Jesus said, I think we can take it that the churches have ruled that he was wrong.

1 March 2013 at 17:16  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

It's an interesting comment from the American Bishops here, Driftwood.

"A female who has been raped should be able to defend herself against a potential conception from the sexual assault. If, after appropriate testing, there is no evidence that conception has occurred already, she may be treated with medications that would prevent ovulation, sperm capacitation or fertilisation. It is not permissible, however, to initiate or to recommend treatments that have as their purpose or direct effect the removal, destruction or interference with the implantation of a fertilized ovum"

Does a test even exist at the morning-after stage to prove or disprove this? To the best of my knowledge, the answer is "no". The earliest of the urinary tests only shows a pregnancy five days before the period arrives, and definitely post-implantation. The woman coming to the hospital the day after a rape simply cannot be tested to the best of my knowledge.

So at this point all that the Catholic hospital can say is "we don't know, but we'll give you the contaceptives anyway..."

1 March 2013 at 17:19  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Judging by how fast his comments are disappearing, one is led to believe that Driftwood may be another incarnation of a certain flightless bird... :)

1 March 2013 at 17:23  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Mr integrity, probably one of those British versus US terms, but I'm sure it means the same thing... clutch down,neutral, clutch up, wait for proper rpm (1700 most truucks), clutch down, into gear. I've gotten good and lazy and rarely double clutch, and often just slip into gear by feel. had my sync removed from the transmission on my car as few know how to use clutch, nevermind to doubleclutch to make theft harder.

Good point sister tiberia. Am I the only one who thinks HG made this post to drive a certain extinct avian absolutely bonkers? Can't imagine a better topic... HG as an interregnum Pope. LOL!

1 March 2013 at 18:02  
Blogger OldJim said...


I'll bite, I don't really see where this line of questioning is going.

There, from Ludwig Ott, are the dogmas of the Catholic Church. Attention should be paid to those which are "De Fide", "Sententia Fidei Proxima" and "Sententia Certa", in that order. The meaning of these terms is given in Bridget's link above. Those given as "De Fide" constitute a list of most presently disputed doctrines defined dogmatically by the Church at the time that it was published (1954). Of course, the list is not exhaustive, far from it, but is

"If anyone shall say that after the resurrection the body of the Lord was ethereal, having the form of a sphere, and that such shall be the bodies of all after the resurrection; and that after the Lord himself shall have rejected his true body and after the others who rise shall have rejected theirs, the nature of their bodies shall be annihilated:  let him be anathema."

an infallible dogma that your average modern Catholic desperately needs to be made aware of, when time could be spent on other matters?

The sources of each of the doctrines given in the link above and the justifications of their inclusion are given in this book, from which they are drawn:

Any Catholic who wishes to know the infallible doctrines of his church which are most pertinent to the faith or to a Catholic of the present age can have recourse to the ecumenical councils and the relatively few uses of Papal infallibility, if not to this book, which has been exceptionally popular since the time of its publication.

1 March 2013 at 18:02  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I see Newsthump has its finger on the pulse over this. :)

1 March 2013 at 18:21  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1 March 2013 at 20:21  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

His Grace,

Cannot become Pope, not because he is not qualified for the position, but because his a loyal patriotic Britain, who needs to think about his own countrymen first!

He is needed here in England to sort wheat from chaff in the Conservative party and to take leadership of the country, for Queen and country.

Could we get the numbers to overthrown Cameron and appoint Cranmer as Prime Minister?

The recent by-election defeat shows us that the majority of the country is conservative, but that the vote is splitting between Tories and UKIP. I think that Dave needs to move in that direction or come to an agreement with UKIP or face loosing the next election....

... but one does muse sometimes we need the 'shock' of a defeat, in which conservatives have no MP's, whilst the socialists continue to trash Britain, to the extent that in the long term a more refreshed and cleansed conservative party will become the only possible party of government and the socialists will NEVER be able to ever win again, when people see the result of their destructive policies.

Unlike last time there are no pensions to steal and no way you can raise taxes without strong opposition. The socialist relies upon spend, spend, spend, when the cash has gone it doesn't work.

It happened in Canada, whose electoral politics is like ours, so it could well happen here.

1 March 2013 at 20:22  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

I was would also add that the spending vs cuts is a typical socialist view. Those of us who are pragmatic recognise that it more an issue of what the government (AND the amount) should spend. Building a new nuclear submarine or an aircraft carrier, for example, not only defends our country, but also creates jobs- and jobs that require skilled labour, rather than the way we are going of having everyone employed as a check-out chap, or 'retail adviser' as the PC slang goes.

If over a couple of years we reduced the £200 billion welfare budget to zero, we'd be able to spend on these kind of projects and repairing our infrastructure (we are a victim of ourselves there, because the Victorians built it 'to last' and 200 years isn't that bad) without incurring any greater amount of debt.

And we need to invest in the shale gas and oil, like the Americans and Canadians have, which will revive our chemicals industries, reduce our costs and reliance on middle eastern dictatorships as well as for the longer term invest in the next generation of nuclear power, Thorium fission and then nuclear fusion.

You see, even an old chap can put our country to rights. Why can't Cameron?

1 March 2013 at 20:35  
Blogger bluedog said...

Well said, Lord Lavendon @ 20.35.

Cameron is now a busted flush and his authority within the Conservative Party has surely evaporated. One could paraphrase Cameron's own idiotic comment about SSM in the context of Eastleigh, 'The Conservatives voted UKIP because they are conservative'.
UKIP now have national profile and that essential ingredient, the momentum of a winning team. A band wagon effect will follow, drawing support from the dissaffected of the indistinguishable LibLabCon troika. Comparing UKIP with the US Tea-Party movement as Conservative Head Office are doing shows their complete detachment from the electoral demographics. The Tea-Party is a pensioners party whereas UKIP draws the support of social conservatives irrespective of other or previous affiliation.

It seems highly significant that UKIP are winning votes from electors who have remained dormant for 20 or 30 years. Why have the Conservatives completely overlooked these forgotten people and failed to connect with them?

Cameron could not begin to answer that question, but there are others who could because they listen. Cameron lectures; he doesn't understand that a key part of selling a message is to simply shut up once you have spoken. Quite apart from which his message is wrong anyway.

1 March 2013 at 22:02  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

No are not the only one thinking that Cranmer is drooling over rubbing salt into poor ole Dodo's wounds.. How extravagantly petty to hold grudges against the Catholic Church just because they barbecued him!

2 March 2013 at 01:36  
Blogger OldJim said...


you then asked "Why has the RCC never published an infallible list of infallible teachings given the fact that RCs are bound to believe those teachings under penalty of an anathema?"

This is not quite true; Catholics cannot be excommunicated for material heresy. If a poorly educated young Catholic man mistakenly thinks that Christ has one nature, he is not excommunicated. If he publicly proclaims that Christ has one nature, his proclamation may be condemned but he will not be excommunicated. If, after being corrected by the appropriate authority, he insists on continuing to teach that Christ has one nature, he is excommunicated.

He has become an objective formal heretic in the eyes of the Church because, whilst he has been given the correct doctrine by the appropriate authority (say, his local bishop making reference to Chalcedon), he has obstinately clung to his heresy.

"Objective" because it is in the objective forum: the canonical law of the Church does not and cannot judge the disposition of the heart, but only external behaviour.

"Formal" because it involves intention. The man does not merely passively believe something heretical, he chooses to believe something heretical in spite of correction.

Anathema has historically meant two things, both springing from the same biblical root: it is a 1)means of proclaiming a doctrine and denying an error by 2) excommunicating people who believe the error.

The first is a matter of dogmatic theology, the second a matter of canon law. You can revoke the penalty prescribed in (2) but the doctrine affirmed by (1) nonetheless remains Church doctrine. The penalty is not "infallible" - the prescription of this penalty is the traditional way of infallibly condemning an opinion, but the church's doctrine and the church's discipline remain fundamentally distinct.

The ecclesiastical penalty (discipline) of anathemising is essentially a dramatic excommunication - it doesn't occur automatically, it must be enacted with bell, book and candle - so even "let them be anathema" doesn't automatically anathemise anyone - it sets a doctrinal position that affords the discipline to be imposed on erring individuals holding it.

But really the quibble over the removal of anathematisation in the '83 code of canon law is silly.

If a doctrine or an error is dogmatically defined, it becomes a matter the denial or avowal (respectively) of which would be heresy - and objective formal heresy still incurs latae sententiae (automatic) excommunication.

So: A Catholic who believes and states something heretical without knowing it to be heretical is neither guilty of the sin of heresy nor excommunicate.

A Catholic who privately believes something heretical and knows it to be so is guilty of the sin of heresy but is not excommunicate.

A Catholic who publicly confesses something heretical, is reproved by an appropriate authority and retains the belief is both guilty of the sin and excommunicate.

2 March 2013 at 02:07  
Blogger OldJim said...

I am trying to get to the bottom of the position of a cradle protestant. To begin, it is clear that if they had never been provided with sufficient reason to believe either the doctrine they denied or that the Catholic Church has the authority it claims to possess (they were invincibly ignorant), then morally they would not be guilty of formal but only material heresy, and so not of any actual sin of heresy.

Their position in Canon law is less clear. By virtue of their baptism, the Catholic Church has historically claimed some form of ecclesiastical governance of them as members of the polity of the Church.

But if the canon laws on heresy applied to them, it is not clear how objective formal heresy would be sorted from material heresy - they can be admonished to follow a rule of faith that they may sincerely disbelieve, but they can't be judged guilty for refusing to recognise that rule of faith, because intent to refuse what they know to be rightful authority isn't evident. In other words, a Catholic disbelieving a doctrine (material heresy) and willfully ignoring the corrections of the magisterium clearly commits an objective formal heresy, because they choose to ignore their rule of faith. A protestant in the same position may simply be heaping one material heresy atop the first; they might honestly reject the rule of faith.

So it would seem from that position that cradle Protestants cannot incur excommunication on grounds of formal heresy.

On the other hand, some canonists appear to have claimed that, since Vatican II, whilst the Church accepts that protestants are members of the Church, they are not subject to the commonwealth of its law, and so on those grounds not excommunicated.

But if they are included into the church by virtue of baptism and cannot be impeached of heresy, it is unclear on what grounds the sacraments are withheld from any protestant who seeks them with a suitably high view of them (for they are so withheld and what is that but excommunication, a denial of communion?)

So I think that the "traditional" and "liberal" views are probably distinctions without differences - a protestant doesn't want the Catholic sacraments, which are the objects of the Catholic legal commonwealth, and so the question of their excommunication simply does not practically arise - if they both seek those sacraments (involving a recognition of sorts of the Catholic Church) but refuse the rule of faith then they create the grounds by which they commit objective formal heresy and are denied them. If they seek the sacraments and affirm the rule of faith then they are no longer protestants - they are confessed and enter communion.

Hope that serves to clear the matter up somewhat.

2 March 2013 at 02:07  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

The Catholic catechism explained disappears gradually until nothing is left but its philosophical grimace, prompting old Ernst to remark that he has often seen a catholic without a grimace but never a grimace without a catholic dogma explained! ;-)

"Hope that serves to clear the matter up somewhat." INDEED.

Ernst in Cradleland

2 March 2013 at 03:15  
Blogger len said...

The only means of escape for a Catholic from the neatly designed bondage Catholicism has placed the unfortunate subject in is to contest the un biblical teachings of the Catholic Church and to turn to Christ for salvation instead.
The Catholic Church will deem this as 'heresy'Christ will call it 'coming home'as he calls to all lost sheep.

2 March 2013 at 08:55  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...


2 March 2013 at 09:46  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Cressida de Nova said...

The Song of Romulus and Remus

A dark shadow lurks

a roaming through the trees.

It skips on by barely noticed

like an unimportant caressing breeze.

It's icy cold silence

clings to all just like a shroud.

While pale light reflects on it's true daub coat

it baaa's flocklike most proud.

A grumble of sound

like a low growl.

increases in pitch and volume

becoming a high pitched howl.

The wolves are singing

their song of life to sheep.

They are making a statement

by bringing strife while we all sleep.

Their joy can be heard

in the cacophony of the hound.

Noses and blood drenched jowls on show,

whilst slaughtered lambs lay all around.

"Baaaaa!" Woof, Woof?


2 March 2013 at 11:19  
Blogger OldJim said...

My dear archbish,

I worked quite hard on that first post, and in my estimation the two only fully worked as a pair. What have I done to offend?

2 March 2013 at 15:13  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...


His Grace has no idea what you're talking about.

2 March 2013 at 15:15  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Old Jim, the occasional post does go missing. Nothing to do with the proprietor here but everything to do with inadequate anti spam attack software which would be part of the bloggers package and unlikely to have an option to be switched off.

A wise fellow would knock his offering up on word first, so having a ready copy available to resort to should the worst happen...

2 March 2013 at 15:34  
Blogger OldJim said...

Your Grace,

I hope you understand that in the first place I was inquiring more than I was accusing - you have a right to do as you please on your blog. Nonetheless, rereading the post, my tone veers on the edge of the accusatory, so for both that tone and for what I now recognise as the unjust inquiry itself, I apologise.

Carl, you asked

"Why has the RCC never published an infallible list of infallible teachings given the fact that RCs are bound to believe those teachings under penalty of an anathema?"

I answer: not strictly true, old chap. A poorly educated Catholic who believes and confesses that (for example) Christ has one nature is not of necessity excommunicated.

Catholic theology distinguishes between material heresy, passively holding an heretical belief, and formal heresy, holding an heretical belief in spite of knowing the true doctrine taught by authentic authority.

And between heresy in the moral or private arena (believing something heretical whilst knowing that legitimate authority denies it) and in the canonical, legal or objective arena (holding an heretical opinion publicly despite correction)

So the Catholic who merely holds an heretical opinion out of sincere ignorance is neither morally nor legally accountable for it. A Catholic who privately holds an heretical opinion despite being aware of a contrary authoritative magisterial teaching is morally but not legally accountable for it. And a catholic who publicly confesses something false after being corrected by authentic authority (in the above example, say, a bishop quoting Chalcedon) is both morally and legally accountable.

(And it follows that there are probably some cases where someone appears in the objective forum to be confessing heresy after correction and does not intend to, in which case they are considered canonically culpable and excommunicated but in confession it may eventuate that they have not actually sinned)

Now, this is all relevant because, as mentioned above, the penalty of "anathema" as a subspecies of "excommunication" has been done away with in the 1917 Canon law.

This can be done because historically anathematising is a biblical manner of 1)solemnly defining doctrine by means of denying an error by 2)licensing excommunication for those who hold it

Whilst the two things are contained within the same locution, the canonical effects of (2), as a species of the Church's discipline, can be commuted or effaced as a matter of Church governance, whilst the doctrinal effects of (1) will always remain in effect.

Again, "let them be anathema" is a license to anathematise an individual and not the anathematising itself, because an anathema is never automatic; it is a highly ceremonial pontifical excommunication which must be deliberately leveled at particular individuals.

But this is really moot because, the penalty of anathema having been suspended, it remains the case that when once the Church has solemnly defined an error, it becomes heretical to hold it, and formal heresy incurs latae sententiae (automatic) excommunication.

Again, that's for formal heresy, as specified above.

So a Catholic adhering to the doctrine of an equal and supralapsarian election to damnation, for example, would be a material heretic. To do so despite knowing the teaching of the Church would be to commit the formal sin of heresy. To publicly hold to such a teaching after correction would incur automatic excommunication, because the Catholic showed pertinacity, a willingness to deny or suspend the rule of faith in favour of a condemned pet doctrine.

So modern day cradle Protestants are not "anathematised" by Trent in any recognizable sense; the contents of this post were supposed to precede my earlier contribution, which is why that post examines the question of whether protestants can be "excommunicated".

2 March 2013 at 17:23  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Fellows, can we all stop living in fear of Cranmer. He is a fair minded and patient man with a penchant for free speech. Let’s give him the respect he deserves for that...

2 March 2013 at 17:44  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Blogger does occasionally lose post requests. I almost always Select-All, Ctrl-C before doing so, just in case, when I'm on a PC. Also, it's sometimes worth clearing one's browser cache or checking with another browser as it may actually be visible to others. In this case, I can see what I believe is your original reply to Carl, OldJim.

2 March 2013 at 18:35  
Blogger Stewart Griffin said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2 March 2013 at 20:46  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Goodness, no Miss Cressida,I didn't suggest His Grace was rubbing salt on Dodo's imaginary wounds... just him having a little fun. HG is not someone to trifle with, but he is not petty or vindictive. Anyway, I believe there have been over 30 "antipopes" including several claimants in the US recently, so HG would have to get in line.

3 March 2013 at 00:29  

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