In the following analysis some things have to be made clear:
- Infallibility is a negative. Thus, Peter and his successors (specifically, explicitly in that capacity, will not be able to fail in correctly teaching a matter of faith or morals to the universal Church that is at the same time pronounced to be already contained in Sacred Revelation (which revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle). We call that an ex-cathedra statement, an infallible pronouncement.
- Infallibility is not universal. The Pope can do this alone, with a Council present, whatever, but the key is his personal participation, without which there is no infallible statement, not even in an emergency get-together during sede-vacante circumstances. Agreement with an infallible statement is desirable, but that agreement does doesn’t make anyone infallible. The two subjects – (1) the Pope; (2) everyone else – don’t go together: if you have to agree with someone else, you yourself are not infallible. Any statement aggrandizing agreement with anything infallible is simply poetic, emphasizing the importance of the agreement, but not who is personally infallible in limited circumstances.
- The purpose of infallibility is founded on the fact that not everyone is infallible, quite the opposite.
- Infallibility is not a positive charism by definition. The Pope is simply not failing in a particular teaching in extremely limited circumstances. It has nothing to do with being inspired. It’s just that he’s not going to be wrong.
- Infallibility is a guarantee of not failing in correct teaching to the end that eternal, immutable, absolute truth is not changed (because it cannot be changed). We’re too soft before the glory of God’s truth, too cowardly, too wimpish, to see that it is Peter himself, personally, who is the one who is expendable. If he is going to be wrong in what he is going to pronounce, he himself will not be able to make that pronouncement. He will be incapacitated, drop dead of natural causes (an act of God), be martyred, whatever, but he is the one who is expendable before the judgment seat of God. It’s not a matter of Peter first of all making an incorrect pronouncement, and therefore someone coming to the rescue by saying that he didn’t really do that as Peter, because then he would have to be taken out of office by a group claiming their own infallibility…. blah-blah-blah. No. Peter cannot make an incorrect infallible statement. It can’t happen in the first place. I mean, sorry, but this isn’t rocket science: infallible does not mean fallible. Pope Francis has said a lot of wrong things, but never in the circumstances of infallibility. Get it? He’s just been speaking as some guy. , but definitely not as the successor Peter on a matter of faith and morals to the universal Church that he is simultaneously pronouncing to be already present in Sacred Revelation. Hasn’t happened.
- Infallibility doesn’t grant the successor of Peter any special positive charism such as being more inspired, always more holier than thou. No. He’s just another knucklehead like all the rest of us, with exactly the same potential to appreciate Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, not one bit more, not one bit less. We can all be stupid, including the Pope. When we are in a dispute – see Matthew 18 – we bring that to the only one who is infallible – see Matthew 16 – and we pray he’s going to be correct on what he says, because if he’s going to be wrong, well, bye bye. That’s no statement on anyone’s personal holiness. It has nothing to do with that. Infallibility is just about not being wrong, and that the very person of the successor of Peter will be stopped from being wrong in the first place.
So, as they say, let’s get into this. Months after his election to be the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, Jorge Bergoglio, granted an interview to fellow Jesuit Antonio Spadaro (August 2013), at the end of which we see what the Pope intends with his usage of the phrase infallibile in credendo for the kick-start of the Synod on Synodality, structuring and concluding, by the way, what that synod is all about. That all the baptized are infallible in their believing is rank heresy. But let’s take the entirety of the end of this interview. I wouldn’t want to be accused of taking anything out of context. And, by the way, this interview was dutifully recorded. You can peruse the whole interview at the Jesuits’s America. [[my comments in bold and double brackets below.]]
[[Spadaro speaks in the first person:]] I keep my questions focused on the theme of the church and I ask Pope Francis what it means exactly for him to “think with the church,” [[sentire cum ecclesia]] a notion St. Ignatius writes about in the Spiritual Exercises. He replies without hesitation and by using an image.
[[Francis:]] “The image of the church I like is that of the holy, faithful people of God. This is the definition I often use, and then there is that image from the Second Vatican Council’s ‘Dogmatic Constitution on the Church’ (No. 12).”
[[Excursus of Father George: Number 12: “The holy people of God shares also in Christ’s prophetic office; it spreads abroad a living witness to Him, especially by means of a life of faith and charity and by offering to God a sacrifice of praise, the tribute of lips which give praise to His name. The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of belief” [in credendo falli nequit = might be unable to be deceived in believing, subjunctive and necessarily *reflexive* in meaning in this context]. “They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith when ‘from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful’ they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals.” [This is a stupid statement as this has never happened, is not now happening, and will never happen upon this earth. It’s also a license to kill to say that we have shown such agreement, do so now, and will do so in the future. See the opening comments above. All of this positive inspiration and agreement has nothing to do with infallibility. ] “That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth.” [But not granting infallibility to everyone.] “It is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority” [which by definition means that no one is infallible but the Pope.] “in faithful and respectful obedience to which the people of God accepts that which is not just the word of men but truly the word of God.” [That recalls 1 Thessalonians 2:13 – ‘And we continually thank God because, when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as the true word of God— the word which is now at work in you who believe.’ But people accepting something and the Pope pronouncing infallibly are two different things. Where is there not division on faith and morals? A few verses before, in 1 Thessalonians 1:9, we read that they “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” But now we have a Pope who turns people away from the living and true God to idols. What the hell is that? What kind of agreement is anyone to have with that. None. There can never come a time in this world when everyone is in agreement with any doctrine of the Church. What are the stats today, like 80% do not believe that the Most Blessed Sacrament is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus? Isn’t that also because the Pope trashes worthy reception of Holy Communion? And how many want same-sex marriage? Blah-blah-blah. Pfft.]]
[[Francis continues:]] “Belonging to a people has a strong theological value. In the history of salvation, God has saved a people. There is no full identity without belonging to a people. No one is saved alone, as an isolated individual, but God attracts us looking at the complex web of relationships that take place in the human community. God enters into this dynamic, this participation in the web of human relationships. “[[But this doesn’t make people individually or together infallible.]]
[[Francis continues:]] “The people itself constitutes a subject. [[But individuals cut themselves off by mortal sin and heresy and all are responsible with individual free will, so, what is he talking about?]] And the church is the people of God on the journey [[Revelation is absolute and is closed.]] through history, with joys and sorrows. Thinking with the church, therefore, is my way of being a part of this people. And all the faithful, considered as a whole, are infallible in matters of belief, and the people display this infallibilitas in credendo [[his own, made-up phrase]], this infallibility in believing, through a supernatural sense of the faith [[that’s NOT infallibility, but he insists on this to open the possibility of new revelation, right?]] of all the people walking together. [[So, let me get this right: individuals are not infallible at all, but everyone is infallible together, so no one assents to anything with an act of the will, but that act of the will is communal, made for them even against their consent.]] This is what I understand today as the ‘thinking with the church’ of which St. Ignatius speaks. [[That’s not what Saint Ignatius meant by sentire cum ecclesia.]] When the dialogue [[meaning contradictory statements, Hegelian dialectic…]] among the people and the bishops and the pope goes down this road and is genuine, then it is assisted by the Holy Spirit. [[Hegelian-Rahnerianism! We’re all divine and correct in our division and disagreements because we call that unity and agreement!]] So this thinking with the church does not concern theologians only.” [[Such condescension to the great unwashed, and yet, it doesn’t matter what we think at all. It’s the great dialectic conglomeration which counts. This is not the way of Jesus. Not at all. Not one bit.]]
[[Francis continues:]] “This is how it is with Mary: If you want to know who she is, you ask theologians; if you want to know how to love her, you have to ask the people. In turn, Mary loved Jesus with the heart of the people, as we read in the Magnificat. We should not even think, therefore, that ‘thinking with the church’ means only thinking with the hierarchy of the church. [[I mean, whoever thought that? Also, Mary loved Jesus with an Immaculate Heart, much different than with my black and beady heart.]]”
[[Spadaro, then Francis again:]] After a brief pause, Pope Francis emphasizes in a very direct manner the following point, in order to avoid misunderstandings: “And, of course, we must be very careful not to think that this infallibilitas of all the faithful I am talking about in the light of Vatican II is a form of populism. No; it is the experience of ‘holy mother the hierarchical church,’ as St. Ignatius called it, the church as the people of God, pastors and people together. The church is the totality of God’s people.” [[Again, I ask, when was there ever a time when the totality of God’s people accepted to be inspired and to agree on anything? The vast majority of people disagree with the “hierarchical Church” on just about everything. Is that disagreement what he wants to canonize? Hegelian Rahnerianism?]] “I see the sanctity of God’s people, this daily sanctity,” the pope continues. “There is a ‘holy middle class,’ which we can all be part of, the holiness Malègue wrote about.” The pope is referring to Joseph Malègue, a French writer (1876–1940), particularly to the unfinished trilogy Black Stones: The Middle Classes of Salvation. Some French literary critics have called Malègue the “Catholic Proust.” [[That’s so condescending. Just. Wow.]]
My final comments: Blah-blah-blah. I’m tired of this. You get the idea. You can read the entire interview over there. Here’s the deal: One will never get anywhere if the methodology is itself heretical, a divinized Hegelian dialectic, always contradictory and divisory, Hegelian Rahnerianism. There will always be heaven and there will always be hell. The twain shall never meet. The dialectic is not fruitful just by claiming it is. Pope Francis thinks that everyone is infallible in their believing. This is heretical. It’s sets up a heretical methodology from which nothing but heresy can come, from which nothing but immorality can come.
But, I’m not infallible. But neither is the Pope when he doesn’t speak ex-Cathedra. And with this he’s not.