The Spirit grants various gifts to the members. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. (1 Cor 12:4-6 and surrounding verses)same Spirit. Different gifts, as Paul notes. Think of the Church as a body, just as Paul analogizes elsewhere. Not all parts of a body can have the identical function or you don’t have a body.
My follow-up question is: How come the Bishops aren’t always infallible? If I understand ex-cathedra correctly, the Pope can still error on matters of faith and morals if he doesn’t say that it is binding for the whole Church to believe it.
Yes, every Catholic has been filled with the Holy Spirit.
Infallibility isn’t like an effect that just happens and then someone can just say whatever comes to mind and know it is correct. When a council happens or when an ex cathedra statement is made, there is considerable prayer and reflection on the issue. It is during this time that the Holy Spirit will guide the Church to discern the Truth.
As a follow-up, how exactly does the Council/Pope come to the “Spirit lead” truth? I understand that prayer, sincerity, and reflection is involved, but how exactly does the Spirit guide them? I doubt that the Catholic Church believes that it is through some vision or otherwise divine revelation. Is it through deep study of the Bible, the Church Fathers, and past Ecumenical canons? If so, then at what point do they conclude that the Spirit led them to truth and that the case is settled?
Is it through deep study of the Bible, the Church Fathers, and past Ecumenical canons?
I am not aware of any Catholic Doctrine that is accepted as Infallible which is not supported by at least the Bible and the Church Fathers (but not by prior Ecumenical Councils, because that would mean that every Ecumenical Council depends on each prior Council, which is infinite regress, and is impossible).
If so, then at what point do they conclude that the Spirit led them to truth and that the case is settled?
When they say so. What other answer could you possibly expect?
I know that the Church doesn’t teach that any new public revelation comes, after the Apostolic age. I used that to infer that the Council/Pope do not come to the infallible conclusion in the same way that the Old Testament prophets got their message. Is that wrong?
I am not aware of any Catholic Doctrine that is accepted as Infallible which is not supported by at least the Bible and the Church Fathers
I did not make that claim. I was just asking for the means/process by which the Holy Spirit guided them towards truth.
(but not by prior Ecumenical Councils, because that would mean that every Ecumenical Council depends on each prior Council, which is infinite regress, and is impossible).
When they say so.
But the Pope had to have come to a point where he realizes that his conviction is true and infallible, prior to speaking his ex-cathedra statement. If there is a written account by Pope Pius IX’s of his personal, spiritual experience, at that point, I would be interested in reading it.
What other answer could you possibly expect?
Patience, my friend . I am here just to ask for clarifications of Catholic doctrine.
When the Pope or a Council is required to make an ex-cathedra statement the reason is that the subject matter is of sufficient importance for the Church, that such declaration is required to settle a divergence of opinions on grave matter.
Something that affects the way we the members understand something fundamental to our faith.
It would be good for you to investigate past councils and their dogmatic conclusions to see what was the subject matter they addressed and how that affected our Church.
As others have responded the Holy Spirit is invoked prior, during and at the conclusion of a council.
Also the Pope is not so much invoking the HS when issuing an ex-cathedra statement, but the charism of infallibility is a “negative” one in as much that the Pope is prevented by the Holy Spirit from making a statement that would go against the Church.
We trust Jesus’s words, that He would be with His Church till the end of times. His Church CANNOT teach error. For this would make Jesus’s promise a lie.
And GOD does not lie.
Collectively, on matters of faith and morals, they are. This is known as infallibility exercised through the Ordinary Magisterium.
If I understand ex-cathedra correctly, the Pope can still error on matters of faith and morals if he doesn’t say that it is binding for the whole Church to believe it.
That is a better question to ask of the Holy Spirit, since, properly speaking it is the Spirit speaking through the Pope if the Pope speaks with the protection of infallibility. But I would suggest perhaps because God does not want us only to submit to teachings that technically meet the requirements of “infallibility.” Or he lets the Church retain a certain degree of humanity. Or there is still a certain degree, just as with all souls, of concupiscence and fallenness that remains in the world. Or a lot of possible reasons.
The charism of infallibility is for the whole Church–in their individual capacity, any Christian can depart from the truth, including the Pope, but the Church as a whole will never defect. When the Pope exercises the teaching authority of the whole Church (which he does by binding the whole Church to believe some doctrine), the charism of infallibility is present. When all the bishops (including the Bishop of Rome, the Pope) as a body exercise the teaching authority of the whole Church, the charism of infallibility is present. Likewise, the charism of infallibility is present to the whole Church (including laity, priests, deacons, etc.):
Thanks for the informative articles, but they don’t exactly answer my question.
In the Councils, do they go through a long discussion of the Scriptures and Traditions and how they should be interpreted through proper hermeneutics? Did the Pope do some deep study of the Scriptures and Traditions, before making his ex-cathedra statement? I’m pretty sure that the Holy Spirit didn’t guide them to truth just by magic.
Let me give you an example: the Infallible Proclamation of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
It is fair to ask why it was necessary to have the dogma defined. After all, the doctrine of the Assumption was already accepted throughout the Church, and, unlike the Immaculate Conception before it was solemnly defined in 1854 by Pope Pius IX, the teaching of the Assumption was never the subject of controversy.
However, following the definition of the Immaculate Conception, the Vatican received millions of petitions from bishops, priests, religious, and laity asking for the definition of Mary’s Assumption. The Popes after Pius IX encouraged the movement for the dogmatic definition. Finally, Pope Pius XII in 1946 sent a letter entitledDeiparae Virginis Mariaeto all the bishops in the world in which he asked them whether (a) the teaching can be proposed as a dogma and (b) whether the people desired it. The result was staggering. Out of 1232 bishops, 1210 answered “yes” to both questions. Such near unanimity among the bishops regarding doctrinal pronouncements is almost unprecedented in Church history. And so the theological principle used to justify the proclamation of the dogma was the uniform faith of the whole Church. In his dogmatic pronouncement, the Holy Father appeals to the Church’s teaching authority and the constant faith of the Christian people, which that same teaching authority “sustains and directs” in proclaiming Mary’s bodily Assumption to be a revealed truth (cf. Vatican II,*Lumen Gentium, nos. 12, 25).
Notice that the faithful already believed this doctrine; it was part of the patrimony of Sacred Tradition. Thus, when the Holy Father queried the Faithful that patrimony was already informing the lives of the members of the Body of Christ.
So the Popes do not make up a doctrine and then see if it fits with Scripture and Tradition, but rather merely express authoritatively what is received from both those sources. This is a matter of conserving the Faith, conserving what was received from Christ instructing His Church through the Apostles and prolonging the Incarnation.
Thanks for your consideration! After further reflection, I did have one modification I would like to share:
Instead of “official,” I find “eternal” to be a better word because when the Pope speaks ex-cathedra, this is how the pinnacle of morality/theology was, is, and will always be.
The gift of the Holy Spirit is given to ALL THE FAITHFUL in the Church, including infallibility! However, this gift is only present for those who are faithful and obedient to the Magisterium
It is high time that the truth is learned by all that the *sensus fidei *belongs only to those who assent to the teaching of the Magisterium.
In the thread Papal infallibility simplified and explained, mardukm in #97 wrote
the Pope has PRIORLY determined (and MUST priorly determine) that he is actually in agreement with the sensus fidei and the universal ordinary Magisterium before making the decree.
In #80 mardukm wrote:
The Pope CANNOT declare anything ex cathedra contrary to the sensus fidei
In #30 AmbroseSJ wrote:
Vatican II implies an ACTIVE infallibility to the faithful, as Newman taught as opposed to the passive infallibility suggested by Gasser’s Relatio.
Trying to limit the Holy Father to agreeing with a fictitious “sensus fidei” and a fictitious “active” infallibility, both discredited as illusory, when fidelity to dogma and doctrine is what is required and which produces passive infallibility, reveals the commitment to truth that describes the faithful, and the errors that describe the dissenters.
DISCLAIMER: Catholic Answers has turned over the archive to Catholic-Questions.org and no longer owns, manages, or moderates the forums. For additional apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.