Infallible?

This was posted a few days ago in Norwegian.

According to the Roman Catholic Church the Pope is infallible by virtue of (and in) his office. It is held that when he speaks ex cathedra, his declaration or definition is without error.

I was recently asked what my thoughts were on this, and I said that somewhere there has to be one form of infallability, if we are to believe that Scripture is without error.[1] The traditional Christian view is that the Church is infallible.[2] The question that becomes: What is the status of the Pope? I don’t think that this question should start with whether or not the Pope is infallible. The question should rather start with the question of papal primacy, the authority and jurisdiction of the Pope.

The Catholic view follows logically from the points: (1) The Church is infallible. (2) I virtue of, and in, his office, the Pope speaks on behalf of the entire Church. If these premises are true, the infallibility of the Pope follows logically. The discussion must therefore not start with a debate about the conclusion (the acceptance of rejection of papal infallibility), but about the premises leading up to the conclusion. Is the Church infallible? Does the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, a ‘Church wide’ jurisdiction? This is what we must consentrate on in the debate.

Notes:

[1] The traditional view is not that Scripture is infallible, but without error (inerrant). To be infallible means that one cannot make a mistake (which only make sense to say about persons). To ‘make a mistake’ is an action. Personar can be infallible, while books or documents can be inerrant,

[2] On this, see Wikipedia. For a more academic treatment (from an Eastern Orthodox view), see The Primacy of Peter (ed., John Meyendorff. SVS Press 1992).

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