Infallibility is the quality of being incapable either of being deceived, or of leading others astray. Romanists, while acknowledging that God alone is naturally infallible, maintain that he has been pleased to transmit this quality, to some undefined extent, to the Church and to the popes, so that they are infallible in their decisions on all points of doctrine.
1. INFALLIBILITY OF THE CHURCH. — The following is a condensed view of the infallibility of the Church of Rome, as collected from her own authors. Dens affirms. "That the Church, in matters of faith and manners, can by no means err, is an article of belief. Moreover, infallibility in the Church may be considered in a twofold point of view: the one active and authoritative, which is called infallibility in teaching and defining; the other passive or submissive (obedientialis), which is called infallibility in learning and believing. Infallibility, considered in the first sense, refers to the Church with respect to the head or chief pontiff, and the prelates of the Church; although this infallibility would not regard the laity or inferior pastors; for, as a man is said to see, although his vision does not apply to all his members, but to his eyes only, so the Church, in like manner, is said to be infallible, although this infallibility refers only to the prelates. But if the Church is not considered with regard to its head, but as it embraces all the faithful, or laics, under the obedience of the pope, it is not proper to say it is infallible in teaching and defining, because its gift in this respect is not to teach, but to learn and believe; wherefore the Church, in this view, is said to be 'passably infallible,' or infallible in learning, believing, practicing, etc. Therefore it is impossible that the whole Church, obedient to the pope, should believe any thing as revealed, or practice any thing as good which is not such; hence it can be said that the sense of the universal Church is always true, and its practice or usage always good" (Dens, Theol., tom. 2,
De Ecclesia, No.80, De Infallibilitate Ecclesia). The same author affirms also that "the Church is an infallible judge of controversies of faith; that this authority is vested in the bishops only, especially in the pope, and that lay persons, priests, doctors, or others, have no part in making infallible decisions in the Church." He says the government of the Church is a monarchy with regard to its head, but, at the same time, tempered with an aristocracy. A unanimous consent is not necessary to make a decision infallible; a majority is sufficient for this purpose. He also. says that a tacit consent is sufficient to make a decision infallible; for to be silent is to consent. Hence he concludes that "'when the pope defines anything, and the majority of bishops do not object, it is impossible that this definition should embrace error" (Dens, Theol. tom. 2, No. 82, Qualis esse debeat Consensus Episcoporum). "From the above we collect four principal systems which concern the seat of infallibility, and these contain a considerable number of subdivisions; the chief of which are expressed in the following analysis.
First System: This embraces the infallibility of the whole Church, and includes two cases:
(1.) The Church diffusive, that is, all her clergy as a body, inasmuch as the people, whenever infallibility is concerned, compose no part of the Church.
(2.) The bishops, as the representatives of the Church, though not assembled in council.
Second System: A council composed of all the bishops; and this also is divided into two cases:
(1.) The decision of a council when approved by the whole Church.
(2.) The decision of a council when not approved by the whole Church.
Third System: A council and pope united. There are four cases of this:
(1.) A council convened by the pope.
(2.) A council confirmed by the pope.
(3.) A council convened by the pope, and whose decisions are received by the whole Church, or the body of her pastors.
(4.) A council confirmed by the pope, and received subsequently by the Church.
Fourth System: Respects the infallibility of the pope himself. This has the four following cases:
(1.) The pope himself deciding officially.
(2.) The pope and a few bishops.
(3.) The pope, when his decisions are received by the whole Church.
(4.) The pope and a few bishops, whose decisions are received by the whole Church.
Any person who will examine the quotations given from Roman Catholic authors will perceive these four distinct systems, together with the several cases under each. If we also consider their differences in regard to the extent of infallibility (some confining it to articles of faith and precepts of morality, and others making distinctions between matters of right and facts, and then of facts connected with faith; and also that their Church has not precisely defined where this infallibility is to be found), then we may safely say that the bare recital of their endless divisions respecting the seat of infallibility will prove that the thing is not in existence" (Elliott, On Romanism, p. 66).
This infallibility of the Church Romanists attempt to prove
(1.) from a supposed unanimity of the bishops, which, they argue, would, if considered as mere human testimony, carry with it an amount of moral certainty admitting of no doubt, and therefore equivalent to infallibility;
(2.) from the divinely appointed mission of a clergy regularly descended from the apostles, who themselves had the most positive promises of Christ (Joh 20:21; Joh 15:15; Mt 28:19-20; Joh 14:16-17; Lu 10:16).
They also quote 2Ti 1:14; 2Ti 2:2; and Ac 20:28, to show that the apostles claimed this privilege for themselves, as well as the power of transmitting it to those they appointed over the churches.
The same privilege has also been ascribed to the pope as successor of St. Peter, and God's only vicegerent. The ultramontanes, such as Bellarmine, Baronius, etc., maintain that whatever dogmatic judgment or decision on a doctrinal point the pope addressed to the whole church, is necessarily correct. But as it has repeatedly occurred that the Church, as represented in councils, has disagreed with the pope on points of doctrine, it follows that, if both are equally infallible, the people are bound to believe equally two opposite doctrines. The French Church settled the difficulty by proclaiming general councils superior to the pope (or "more infallible"); the assembly of the clergy, in 1682, asserted that "in controversies of faith the office of the pope is the chief, and that his decrees pertain to all churches; nevertheless, that his judgment is not irreformable unless it is confirmed by the consent of the Church," Bossuet sustained this principle with great talent and eloquence in his Defensio Declarat. Cleri Gallic. 2, pt. 1, 12 sq. He proves by the decrees of councils, by the testimony of fathers, doctors, and schoolmen, by the declarations of popes themselves, and especially of Adrian VI, that the infallibility of the pope was a new doctrine, altogether unknown in the early ages of the Church. "He disproves the infallibility of the pope not merely by negative, but by a long and strong chain of positive evidence; by adducing a number of instances, as well as direct assertions of his infallibility from generation after generation; by showing, from a large induction of facts, that during a series of centuries he was regarded and treated as fallible, and never as otherwise than fallible; and that, when another opinion began to gain ground, it arose mainly from the exercise of that authority which belongs to a supreme, power" (Hare, Contest with Rome, p. 213). — Bossuet's views were held by Fleury, Dupin, cardinal Bausset, etc. They were attacked by De Maistre in his work Du Pape. A work of great interest on this subject is the recently discovered Refutation of all Heresies of Hippolytus, which gives us a clear idea of the manner in which the Roman bishops were considered in his times. "In Germany, where truth is held the most precious of all possessions, even by members of the Catholic Church the conviction of the mischief produced by the doctrine of the infallibility of the pope is so strongly felt by many, that one of the greatest philosophers of the last generation, Baader, who was a zealous champion of the Christian truth, and himself an earnest Roman Catholic, used perpetually to repeat the pregnant words of St. Martin, 'Le Papisme est la faiblesse du Catholicisme; et le Catholicisme est la force du Papisme' (Hare, Contest with Rome, p. 218).
As regards the infallibility of the Church, Dr. Newman himself, in his Lectures on Romanism, p. 61, said: "In the creed of pope Pius not a word is said expressly about the Church's infallibility: it forms no article of faith there. Her interpretation indeed of Scripture is recognized as authoritative; but so also is 'the unanimous consent of the fathers, whether as primitive or concordant; they believe the existing Church to be infallible; and, if ancient belief is at variance with it, which of course they do not allow, but if it is, then antiquity must be mistaken-that is all."'
"That general councils are infallible is generally believed by Romanists. Some, however; maintain that the confirmation of the pope is necessary to constitute infallibility; and others, that the decisions of councils are infallible, whether confirmed by the pope or not. We quote-the sentiments of some who contend that the decrees of a general council, with the confirmation of the pope, are infallible. Ferraris says, "The definitions of a general council legitimately assembled, issued in the absence of the pope, are not infallible without his confirmation" (Ferraris, Biblioth. Prompt. in Concilium, art. 1, sect. 66). Cardinal Cusanus, as quoted by the former writer, declares that "the pope gives authority to the council" (Cusanus, lib. 3, cap. 15, De Concord Cathol.). Dens teaches that "general councils, without the approbation of the pope, are fallible, and often err; that the confirmation of the pope to any particular decrees of a council impart to these decrees plenary authority; it is an article of faith that general councils approved by the pope cannot err in defining matters of faith and morals: hence they are to be considered as manifest heretics who presume to call in question what is decreed by such councils." He also believes that the decisions of particular councils, confirmed by the pope, are likewise infallible, and that this is founded on the infallibility of the pope. But Benedict XIV., to whom Dens refers, thinks that the decisions of such councils are binding only in their own provinces or dioceses. Many Romanist writers, however, maintain strongly that the decisions of general councils are infallible without the pope's confirmation. It would be an endless task to quote the authorities on both sides. They are, for the most part, however, agreed that what they call general councils are infallible: some believe them infallible because they are general councils, while others, believing the same, consider the confirmation of the pope as necessary to the authoritative character of the assembly.
"The discordant sentiments of Romanists respecting those characteristics which are necessary to constitute infallibility form a strong argument against the inerrancy of councils. The four following opinions have been strongly held by the Church of Rome:
(1.) Some have asserted that the diffusive, and not the representative body of the Church possessed infallibility. Occam, Petrus de Aliaco, Cusanus, Antoninus of Florence, Panormitan, Nicholas de Clemangis, Franciscus Mirandula and others, were of this opinion.
(2.) Some say that councils are no farther infallible than as they adhere to Scripture and universal tradition.
(3.) Others, that councils are of themselves infallible, whether the pope confirm them or not. This was the common opinion before the Council of Lateran, under Leo X, as appears from the Councils of Basil and Constance.
(4.) Many make the confirmation of the pope necessary to the infallibility of a general council. There is an irreconcilable difference between the last two opinions; for those who suppose councils to be infallible without the confirmation of the pope believe them to be above him, and that he is fallible; while those who are of opinion that the confirmation of his holiness is absolutely necessary to the infallibility of the council believe him to be infallible, and superior to a council." See Elliott, On Romanisn, book 3, chap. 3; and book 1, chap. 4; Bull, Reply to the Bishop of Meaux (Works, vol. 2; Faber, Difficulties of Romanism;. Ouseley, On Papal Novelties; Hook, Eccles. Dict. s.v.; Cramp, Textbook of Popery, p. 66; Hare, Contest with Rones, p. 16, 210, 223; Kitto, Journal of Sacred Literature, Oct. 1854.
II. INFALLIBILITY OF THE POPE. — For many centuries the popes have demanded, and, so far as lay in them, enforced an absolute submission to all their doctrinal decisions. They forbade appeal from their tribunal to the General Council, and even disallowed the plea of the Jansenists, Hermesians, and other schools whose views were censured, that the popes censuring them had erred, not in what they stated to be the Catholic doctrine, but in understanding the right sense of the censured books. Thus the popes for many centuries have acted as though they were infallible; and yet it was distinctly taught within the Church that the infallibility of the pope was not a recognized doctrine, and even many catechisms and manuals of doctrine explicitly stated, with the consent of many bishops, that the infallibility of the pope was not a doctrine of the Church. One of the chief objects for which the Vatican Council was called in 1869 was to make an end of this uncertainty and enrol the doctrine of papal infallibility among the formal Church doctrines. As soon as it became generally known that it was intended to bring this subject before the council, a number of works appeared, discussing the proposed innovation in every aspect. By far the most important of these is the one published in Germany under the title Der Papst und das Concil (Mentz, 1869; Engl. transl. The Pope and the Council), which gives an exhaustive history of the views of the Church concerning infallibility. The author of the work, who on the title page calls himself Janus, was subsequently found to be professor Huber, of the University of Munich. The book is a storehouse of immense learning, for the author quotes thousands of individual cases to show that no one can for a moment believe in this doctrine without falsifying the whole history of the Church. "For thirteen centuries," says our author, "an incomprehensible silence on this fundamental article reigned throughout the whole Church and her literature. None of the ancient confessions of faith, no catechism, none of the patristic writings composed for the instruction of the people, contain a syllable about the pope, still less any hint that all certainty of faith and doctrine depends on him." Not a single question of doctrine for the first thousand years was finally decided by the popes; in none of the early controversies did they take any part at all; and their interposition, when they began to interpose, was often far from felicitous. Pope Zosimus commended the Pelagian teaching of Celestius, pope Julian affirmed the orthodoxy of the Sabellian Marcellus of Ancyra, pope Liberius subscribed an Arian creed, pope Vigilius contradicted himself three times running on a question of faith, pope Honorius lent the whole weight of his authority to the support of the newly-introduced Monothelite heresy, and was solemnly anathematized by three ecumenical councils for doing so. Nor do these "errors and contradictions of the popes" grow by any means fewer or less important as time goes on. The blundering of successive popes about the conditions of valid ordination-on which, according to Catholic theology, the whole sacramental system, and therefore the means of salvation, depend--are alone sufficient to dispose forever of their claim to infallibility. Neither, again, did the Roman pontiffs possess, in the ancient constitution of the Church, any of those powers which are now held to be inherent in their sovereign office, and which must undoubtedly be reckoned among the essential attributes of absolute sovereignty. They convoked none of the general councils, and only presided, by their legates, at three of them; nor were the canons enacted there held to require their confirmation. They had neither legislative, administrative, nor judicial power in the Church, nor was any further efficacy attributed to their excommunication than to that of any other bishop. No special prerogatives were held to have been bequeathed to them by St. Peter, and the only duty considered to devolve on them in virtue of their primacy was that of watching over the observance of the canons. The limited right of hearing appeals, granted to them by the Council of Sardica in 347, was avowedly an innovation, of purely ecclesiastical origin, and, moreover, was never admitted or exercised in Africa or the East. Many national churches, like the Armenian, the Syro-Persian, the Irish, and the ancient British, were independent of any influence of Rome. When first something like the papal system was put into words by an Eastern patriarch, St. Gregory, the greatest and best of all the early popes, repudiated the idea as a wicked blasphemy. Not one of the fathers explains the passages of the New Testament about St. Peter in the ultramontane sense; and the Tridentine profession of faith binds all the clergy to interpret Scripture in accordance with their unanimous consent. "To prove the doctrine of papal infallibility, nothing less is required than a complete falsification of Church history." The following are interesting specimens of cases in which the popes expressly contradicted other popes, or the doctrine of the Church as it is now recognized:
"Innocent I and Gelasius I, the former writing to the Council of Milevis, the latter in his epistle to the bishops of Picenum, declared it to be so indispensable for infants to receive communion, that those who die without it go straight to hell (St. August. Opp. 2, 640; Council Coil. [ed. Labbe], 4:1178). A thousand years later the Council of Trent anathematized this doctrine.
"It is the constant teaching of the Church that ordination received from a bishop, quite irrespectively of his personal worthiness or unworthiness, is valid and indelible. Putting aside baptism, the whole security of the sacraments rests on this principle of faith, and reordination has always been opposed in the Church as s crime and a profanation of the sacrament. Only in Rome, during the devastation which the endless wars of Goths and Lombards inflicted on Central Italy, there was a collapse of all learning and theology, which disturbed and distorted the dogmatic tradition. Since the 8th century, the ordinations of certain popes began to be annulled, and the bishops and priests ordained by them were compelled to be reordained. This occurred first in 769, when Constantine II, who had got possession of the papal chair by force of arms, and kept it for thirteen months, was blinded, and deposed at a synod, and all his ordinations pronounced invalid.
"But the strongest case occurred at the end of the 9th century, after the death of pope Formosus, when the repeated rejections of his ordinations threw the whole Italian Church into the greatest confusion, and produced a general uncertainty as to whether there were any valid sacraments in Italy. Auxilius, who was a contemporary, said that through this universal rejection and repetition of orders ('ordinatio, exordinatio, et superordinatio'), matters had come to such a pass in Rome that for twenty years the Christian religion had been interrupted and extinguished in Italy. Popes and synods decided in glaring contradiction to one another, now for, now against the validity of the ordinations, and it was self-evident that in Rome all sure knowledge on the doctrine of ordination was lost. At the end of his second work, Auxilius, speaking in the name of those numerous priests and bishops whose ecclesiastical status was called in question by the decisions of Stephen VII and Sergius III, demanded the strict investigation of a General Council, as the only authority capable of solving the complication introduced by the popes (Mabillon, Analecta [Paris, 1723], p. 39).
"But the council never met, and the dogmatic uncertainty and confusion in Rome continued. In the middle of the 11th century the great contest against simony, which was then thought equivalent to heresy, broke' out, and the ordinations of a simoniacal bishop were pronounced invalid. Leo IX reordained a number of persons on this ground, as Peter Damiani relates (Petri Damaini Opusc. p. 419). Gregory VII, at his fifth Roman synod, made the invalidity of all simoniacal ordinations a rule, and the principle, confirmed by Urban II, that a simoniacal bishop can give nothing in ordination, because he has nothing, passed into the Decretun of Gratian (Cans. 1, qu. 7, c. 24).
"In these cases it is obvious that doctrine and practice were most intimately connected. It was only from their holding a false, and, in its consequences, most injurious notion of the force and nature of this sacrament, that the popes acted as they did, and if they had then been generally considered infallible, a hopeless confusion must have been introduced, not only into Italy, but the whole Church.
"In contrast to pope Pelagius, who had declared, with the whole Eastern and Western Church, the indispensable necessity of the invocation of the Trinity in baptism, Nicolas I assured the Bulgarians that baptism in the name of Christ alone was quite sufficient, and thus exposed the Christians there to the danger of an invalid baptism. The same pope declared confirmation administered by priests, according to the Greek usage from remote antiquity, invalid, and ordered those so confirmed to be confirmed anew by a bishop, thereby denying to the whole Eastern Church the possession of a sacrament, and laying the foundation of the bitter estrangement which led to a permanent division (Council Coll. [ed. Labbd], 6:548).
"Stephen II (III) allowed marriage with a slave girl to be dissolved, and a new one contracted, whereas all previous popes had pronounced such marriages indissoluble (ib. 6, 1650). He also declared baptism, in cases of necessity, valid when administered with wine (ib. 6, 1652).
"Celestine III tried to loosen the marriage tie by declaring it dissolved if either party became heretical. Innocent III annulled this decision, and Hadrian VI called Celestine a heretic for giving it. This decision was afterwards expunged from the MS. collections of papal decrees, but the Spanish theologian Alphonsus de Castro had seen it there (Adv. Hor. [ed. Paris], 1565; comp. Melch. Canus, p. 240).
"The Capernaite doctrine, that Christ's body is sensibly (sensualiter) touched by the hands and broken by the teeth in the Eucharist--an error rejected by the whole Church, and contradicting the impassibility of ῥ his body-was affirmed by Nicolas II at the Synod of Rome in 1059, and Berengar was compelled to acknowledge it. Lanfranc reproaches Berengar with afterwards wishing to make cardinal Humbert, instead of the pope, responsible for this doctrine (Lanfranc, De Euch. c. 3 [ed. Migne], p. 412).
"Innocent III, in order to exhibit the papal power in the fullest splendor of its divine omnipotence, invented the new doctrine that the spiritual bond which unites a bishop to his diocese is firmer and more indissoluble than the 'carnal' bond, as he called it, between man and wife, and that God alone can loose it, viz. translate a bishop from one see to another. But as the pope is the representative of the true God on earth, he, and he alone, can dissolve this holy and indissoluble bond, not by human, but divine authority, and it is God, not man, who looses it. (Decretal 'De Transl. Episc.' c. 2, 3, 4. This was to introduce a new article of faith. The Church had not known for centuries that resignations, depositions, and translations of bishops belonged by divine right to the pope.) The obvious and direct corollary, that the pope can also dissolve the less firm and holy bond of marriage, Innocent, as we have seen, overlooked, for he solemnly condemned Celestine III's decision on that point, and thus he unwittingly involved himself in a contradiction. Many canonists have accepted this as the legitimate consequence of his teaching.
"Innocent betrayed his utter ignorance of theology when he declared that the Fifth Book of Moses, being called Deuteronomy, or the Second Book of the Law, must bind the Christian Church, which is the second Church (Decretal 'Qui filii sint legitimi,' c. 13). This great pope seems never to have read Deuteronomy, or he could hardly have fallen into the blunder of supposing, e.g., that the Old-Testament prohibitions of particular kinds of food, the burnt-offerings, the harsh papal code and bloody laws of war, the prohibitions of woolen and linen garments, etc., were to be again made obligatory on Christians. As the Jews were allowed in Deuteronomy to put away a wife who displeased them and take another, Innocent ran the risk of falling himself into a greater error about marriage than Celestine III.
Notable contradictions as to temporal privileges occur in the history of the alternate approbations and persecutions of the Franciscan order by the popes.
"One of the most comprehensive, dogmatic documents ever issued by a pope is the decree of Eugenius IV 'to the Armenians,' dated November 22, 1439, three months after the Council of Florence was brought to an end by the departure of the Greeks. It is a confession of faith of the Roman Church, intended to serve as a rule of doctrine and practice for the Armenians on those points they had previously differed about. The dogmas of the Unity of the Divine Nature, the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Seven Sacraments, are expounded and the pope, moreover, asserts that the decree thus solemnly issued has received the sanction of the council, that is, of the Italian bishops whom he had detained in Florence.
"If this decree of the pope were really a rule of faith, the Eastern Church would have only four sacraments instead of seven; the Western Church would for at least eight centuries have been deprived of three sacraments, and of one, the want of which would make all the rest, with one exception, invalid. Eugenius IV determines in this decree the form and matter, the substance of the sacraments, or of those things on the presence or absence of which the existence of the sacrament itself depends, according to the universal doctrine of the Church. He gives a form of confirmation which never existed in one half of the Church, and first came into use in the other after the 10th century. So, again, with penance. What is given as the essential form of the sacrament was unknown in the Western Church for eleven hundred years, and never known in the Greek. And when the touching of the sacred vessels, and the words accompanying the rite, are given as the form and matter of ordination, it follows that the Latin Church for a thousand years had neither priests nor bishops--nay, like the Greek Church, which never adopted this usage, possesses to this hour neither priests nor bishops, and consequently no sacraments except baptism, and perhaps marriage. (Comp. Denzinger, Enchirid. Symbol. et Definit., Wirceb. 1854, p. 200 sq. But Denzinger, in order to conceal the purely dogmatic character of this famous decree, has omitted the first part, on the Trinity and Incarnation, which is given in Raynaldus's Annals, 1439. [The same conspicuously untenable explanation was adopted in the Dublin Review for January, 1866. — Ti.])
"It is noteworthy that this decree-with which papal infallibility or the whole hierarchy and the sacraments of the Church stand or fall-is cited, refuted, and appealed to by all dogmatic writers, but that the adherents of papal infallibility have never meddled with it. Neither Bellarmine, nor Charles, nor Aguirre, nor Orsi, nor the other apologists of the Roman court, troubled themselves with it." Into dogmatic theology the doctrine of papal infallibility was introduced by Thomas Aquinas. On the basis of fabrications invented by a Dominican monk, including a canon of the Council of Chalcedon, giving all bishops an unlimited right of appeal to the pope, and on the forgeries found in Gratian, Thomas built up his papal system, with its two leading principles, that the pope is the first infallible teacher of the world, and the absolute ruler of the Church. The popes were so well pleased with the teachings of Thomas that John XXII affirmed Thomas had not written without a special inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and Innocent VI said that whoever assailed his teaching incurred suspicion of heresy. The powerful mendicant orders of Dominicans and Franciscans found the papal system, with its theory of infallibility, indispensable for the success of their own claims against the bishops and universities, and they became the violent champions of the new doctrine. The boldest champions of papal absolutism admitted, however, that the popes could err, and that their decisions were no certain criterion. But they also held that in such cases a heretical pope ipso facto ceased to be pope, without or before any judicial sentence, so that councils, which are the Church's judicature, only attested the vacancy of the papal throne as an accomplished fact. The contest between the Council of Basel and pope Eugenius IV evoked the work of cardinal Torquemada, whose argument, which was held, up to the time of Bellarmine, to be the most conclusive apology of the papal system, rests entirely on fabrications later than the pseudo-Isidore, and chiefly on the spurious passages of St. Cyril. Torquernada also holds that a pope can lapse into heresy and propound false doctrine, but then he is ipso facto deposed by God himself before any sentence of the Church has been passed, so that the Church or council cannot judge him, but can only announce the judgment of God, and thus one cannot properly say that a pope can become heretical, since he ceases to be pope at the moment of passing from orthodoxy to heterodoxy. The doctrine entered on a fresh phase of development from the time of Leo X. Its foremost defender at that time was Thomas of Vic or Cajetan, yet the doctrine was so far from becoming dominant at Rome that the successor of Leo X, Adrian VI, who, as professor of Louvain, had maintained in his principal work that several popes had been heretical, and that it was certainly possible for a pope to establish a heresy by his decision or decretals, caused, as pope, his work denying infallibility to be reprinted in Rome.
Another patron of the infallibility theory, who labored hard to naturalize it in Belgium, the Louvain theologian, Ruard Tapper, returned in 1552 from Trent cruelly disillusionized, and thought the deep-seated corruption of the Church a matter not to be disputed, but to be deplored. The third of the theological fathers of papal infallibility in the 16th century was Tapper's contemporary, the Spaniard Melchior Canus, whose work on theological principles and evidences was, up to Bellarmine's time, the great authority used by all infallibilists. Like Tapper, he became in later years disgusted with the effect of the papal system on the popes and the Curia, and in a report to the king of Spain expressed the opinion that the whole administration of the Church at Rome was "converted into a great trading business, a traffic forbidden by all laws, human, natural, and divine." Out of Italy the hypothesis of infallibility had but few adherents, even in the 16th century, till the Jesuits began to exercise a powerful influence.
The bishops and prominent scholars of France, Spain, Germany, and other countries were almost unanimous in advocating the superiority of ecumenical councils over the pope. The turning of the tide was chiefly due to the influence of the Jesuits, who were naturally inclined to favor the extremist absolutism in the Church. As their representative, cardinal Bellamrine further developed the ideas of Cajetan, in which he generally concurs; but he rejects decisively Cajetan's hypothesis of a heretical pope being deposed ipso facto by the judgment of God. A heretical pope is legitimate so long as the Church has not deposed him. If Cajetan said the Church was the handmaid of the pope, Bellamrine adds that whatever doctrine it pleases the pope to prescribe the Church must receive; there can be no question raised about proving it; she must blindly renounce all judgment of her own, and firmly believe that all the pope teaches is absolutely true, all he commands absolutely good, and all he forbids simply evil and noxious. For the pope can as little err in moral as in dogmatic questions. Nay, he goes so far as to maintain that if the pope were to err by prescribing sins and forbidding virtues, the Church would be bound to consider sins good and virtues evil, unless she chose to sin against conscience; so that if the pope absolve the subjects of a prince from their oath of allegiance, which, according to Bellamrine, he has a full right to do, the Church must believe that what he has done is good, and every Christian must hold it a sin to remain any longer loyal and obedient to his sovereign. Through the influence of Bellamrine and other writers of his order, the infallibility hypothesis now made immense strides. One great stumbling block had, however, to be removed. Every theologian, on closer inspection, found papal decisions which contradicted other doctrines, laid down by popes or generally received in the Church, or which appeared to him doubtful, and it seemed impossible to declare all these products of an infallible authority. It became necessary, therefore, to specify some distinctive marks by which a really infallible decision of a pope might be recognized, or to fix certain conditions, in. the absence of which the pronouncement is not to be regarded as infallible. And thus, since the 16th century, there grew up the famous distinction of papal decisions promulgated ex cathedra, and therefore dogmatically, and without any possibility of error. By means of this ingenious distinction, some of the most inconvenient decisions of popes, which it was desirable to except from the privilege of infallibility generally asserted in other cases could be explained away. Thus pope Honorius, in the dogmatic letter which was condemned as heretical by the sixth ecumenical council, and the decision addressed by Nicolas I to the Bulgarian Church that baptism administered simply in the name of Jesus is valid, were declared to be judgments given by the popes as private persons. A number of other limitations were proposed by the theologians advocating infallibility, but only two were.
commonly received, viz. Bellarmine's, that the papal decree must be addressed to the whole Church; and Cellot's, that he must anathematize all who dissent from his teaching. According to this doctrine, which is taught by the most prominent dogmatic writer of the order in the present century, Perrone (Proelect. Theolog. 8, 497, Louvain, 1843), and received by pretty nearly the whole order; the pope is liable to err when he addresses an instruction to the French or German Church only; and, moreover, his infallibility becomes very questionable whenever he omits to denounce an anathema on all dissentients. Since the time of Bellarmine, the infallibility hypothesis has been one of the chief distinctions of the Jesuits and the most radical portion of the Ultramontane party on the one hand, and all other schools within the Catholic Church on the other. A number of synods, bishops, and prominent theologians, and in some instances the whole Catholic Church of several countries, put themselves on record against the doctrine, for which, on the other hand, the Jesuits and other Ultramontane writers incessantly strove to gain friends among bishops, clergy, and laity, and, in particular, among the sovereigns.
When pope Pius IX intimated his intention to convoke a council for the definition of the doctrine, a number of bishops, especially in France and Germany, declared themselves to be decidedly opposed to the doctrine, and at least one of them, the French bishop Maret (bishop of Sura in partibus infid., and dean of the theological faculty of Paris), published an elaborate work (On the General Council and the public Peace) to refute it, and to prove that it would subvert the very foundation of the Church. The substance of his argument against papal infallibility is as follows: According to the holy Scriptures the Church is a limited monarchy, which stands under the common rule of the pope and the bishops. The history of the councils is at least as much in favor of the divine right of the bishops as of the supremacy of the holy chair. Freedom of discussion, vote by majority, a juridical examination of the apostolic decrees, and in certain cases a right to condemn the doctrines and the person of the pope — these are rights which prove beyond all doubt the participation of the bishops in the sovereign powers of the holy father. But these rights do not extend far enough to give the episcopal body a supremacy over the pope, and the latter therefore exercises, in general, all the privileges of supremacy. He summons the council, presides over it, dissolves it, and sanctions its decrees. In a word, he always remains the head of the Church. If, however, the changes desired by a certain school are made, the Church will cease to be a limited, and become an absolute monarchy. This would be a complete revolution; but what is truly divine is unchangeable, and, consequently, if the constitution of the Church is changed, it ceases to be divine. Pius IX, in his bull Ineffabilis Deus, has himself, said of doctrine, Crescat in eodem sensu, in eadem sententia; but the new dogma would lead to a development of doctrine in alio sensu, in alia sententia. It would therefore amount to a denial of the divinity of the Church. "If it were realized," exclaims the bishop, "what a triumph would it be to the enemies of the Church! They would call the asseverations of centuries, and history itself, as witnesses against Catholicism: she would be crushed by the weight of opposing testimony; the holy Scriptures, the fathers, and the councils would rise in judgment against her. They would bury us in our shame, and from the desert atheism would rise more powerful and threatening than ever" (2, 378).
When the council met (Dec. 8. 1869) it was soon found that there were, with regard to this question, three parties among the bishops: one, which regarded the promulgation of this new doctrine as the best and most urgent work the council should attend to; the second, which petitioned the pope against this doctrine, which they believed would be at least a great stumbling block for all non-Catholics, and even for a great many members of the Catholic Church; the third, which was in favor of a compromise, would have some regard for the arguments adduced by the second class, and therefore, instead of promulgating in unmistakable and bold clearness the doctrine of papal infallibility, would attain the same end in a less offensive way, by inculcating the duty of an absolute submission to every decision of the pope in matters of faith. The majority of the bishops signed a petition for the promulgation of infallibility, which had been drawn up by the German bishop of Paderborn, and received 410 signatures. The counter address (or, rather, counter addresses) against the infallibility was signed by 162 bishops, among whom were 20 Americans, 46 Frenchmen, 37 Germans and Austrians, 19 Orientals, 2 Portuguese, 14 Hungarians, 3 Englishmen, and 15 Italians. The address of the middle party, which desired to effect a compromise, was drawn up by the archbishop of Baltimore. The address against the proclamation of the doctrine of infallibility, drawn up by the cardinal archbishop Rauscher, of Vienna, is couched in the most submissive expressions, assures the holy father of the devotedness of all the bishops to the apostolical see, and continues: "It would not be right to ignore that many difficulties, arising from expressions or actions of the Church fathers from the documents of history, and even from the Catholic doctrine, remain, which must be thoroughly explained before it would be admissible to lay this doctrine before the Christian people as one revealed by God. But our minds revolt against a controversial discussion of this question, and confidently implore thy kindness not to lay upon us the duty of such a transaction. As we, moreover, exercise the episcopal functions among great Catholic nations, we know their condition from daily intercourse; hence we are satisfied that the asked-for doctrinal decision will offer weapons to the enemies of religion, in order to excite aversion to the Catholic religion, even of men of good character, and we are certain that this decision would offer, at least in Europe, an opportunity or a pretext to the governments of our countries to make encroachments upon the rights which have remained to the Church. We have concluded to lay this before thy holiness, with the sincerity which we owe to the father of the faithful, and we ask thee that the doctrinal opinion, the sanction of which is demanded by the address, be not submitted to the council for consideration." Among the signers are, besides the cardinal archbishop of Vienna, nearly all the archbishops of Germany and Austria; in particular, the cardinal archbishop of Prague, the archbishops of Cologne, Munich, Bamberg, and others. The bishops who signed this remonstrance against the promulgation of papal infallibility as a doctrine confined themselves to urging the inopportuneness. Only a few plainly expressed themselves against the dogma itself. But what the bishops failed to do, the catholic scholars, especially those of Germany, did so emphatically that their protests against the ultra papal theories, and against the whole spirit prevailing in Rome, made a profound sensation throughout the Christian world.
One of the most learned Church historians of the Roman Catholic Church, professor Döllinger, of the University of Munich, in a letter addressed to the Augsburger Zeitung, and since published as a pamphlet in an enlarged form (Erwagungen fur die Bischiof des Concils, Ratisbon, 1869), subjected the address of the bishops who asked for the promulgation of infallibility to the most crushing criticism, Dr. Döllinger says of this petition of the champions of papal infallibility that henceforth "one hundred and eighty millions of human beings are to be forced, on pain of excommunication, refusal of the sacraments, and everlasting damnation, to believe and to profess that which hitherto the Church has not believed, not taught." The proclamation of this dogma, he says, would be an "alteration in the faith and doctrine of the Church such as has never been heard of since Christianity was first founded." The whole foundation of the Church would thereby be affected. Dr. Döllinger shows conclusively that until the 16th century the doctrine of papal infallibility was entirely unknown, and that, when it was taken up by cardinal Bellarmine, it could only be supported by the testimony of Isidorian decretals, which are forged, and those of Cyril, which are a fiction.
The views of Döllinger and Gratry received the emphatic assent of the large majority of the Catholic scholars of Germany and France. The governments of France, Austria, Portugal, Spain, Bavaria, and other Catholic countries instructed their ministers in Rome to enter an earnest protest against a doctrine which would compel all members of the Roman Catholic Church to believe in the right of the pope to choose kings and release their subjects from the oath of allegiance. Even some of the members of the council, in particular the cardinal archbishop Rauscher of Vienna, and bishop Hefele of Rottenburg, who was regarded as the most learned bishop of the council, published pamphlets against the dogmatization of infallibility while it was discussed by the council. But all this opposition failed to make the least impression upon the majority of the bishops. From the opening of the council, the infallibilists showed themselves so uncompromising that they refused to give to the minority even one single representative in the important commission on dogmatical questions, which, on the other hand embraced the name of every bishop who, by writings, influence, or otherwise, had gained a prominent position as a defender of infallibility: in particular, archbishop Manning, of Westminster; archbishop Dechamps, of Malines; archbishop Spalding, of Baltimore; bishop Martin, of Paderborn; bishop Pie, of Poitiers; the Armenian patriarch Hassun, of Constantinople. The discussion of the question commenced on the 13th of May. The schema was comprised in a preamble and four chapters, and was known to form the first part of the dogmatic constitution De Ecclesia Christi. The debate is known to have been long and animated, many bishops entering a very earnest protest against the promulgation of such an innovation. Bishop Strossmayer, of Bosnia and Sirmium, in Croatia; bishop Dupanloup, of Orleans, in France; archbishop Darboy, of Paris; bishop Hefele, of Rottenburg, in Wurtemberg; cardinal archbishop Rauscher, of Vienna; cardinal archbishop prince Schwarzenberg, of Prague, are mentioned as those bishops who spoke with the greatest effect against the proposed doctrine. The regulations of the council made it lawful for ten prelates to petition for the closing of a discussion; the proposal being then put to the vote of all the fathers, and the majority deciding. When fifty-five speeches had been made on the schema in general, one hundred and fifty bishops sent a petition for closing the general discussion, which was accordingly done, to the great dissatisfaction of the opponents of infallibility, a number of whom addressed to the pope a protest against the closing of the general discussion, as it had deprived the council of the opportunity to hear all the arguments against the new doctrine. The discussion of the schema as regards the whole and the several parts having been completed, a vote was taken according to the regulations in a general congregation on the 13th of July, on the whole schema by name, with placet, or placet juxta modum, or non-placet. The result was as follows: 451 placets, 62 placets juxta modum, and 88 non-placets. Some of the placets juxta modum recommended the insertion of words that would make the decree clearer and stronger. The schema was accordingly altered, and the amendments were retained in the general congregation, held Saturday, July 16. The final step was then taken, in the fourth public session of the council, on the 18th of July. The roll of the members was again called, when 534 answered placet, 2 replied non-placet, and 106 were absent, some because sick, the far greater number not willing to vote favorably. As soon as the result was made known officially to Pius IX, he announced the fact of all with the exception of two having given a favorable vote, "Wherefore," he continued, "by virtue of our apostolic authority, with the approval of the sacred council, we define, confirm, and approve the decree and canons just read." The following is a faithful translation of chapter iv of the schema, which treats of papal infallibility:
Of the infallible Authority of the Roman Pontiff in Teaching. — This holy see hath ever held-the unbroken custom of the Church doth prove and the ecumenical councils, those especially in which the East joined with the West in union of faith and of charity, have declared, that in this apostolic primacy, which the Roman pontiff holds over the universal Church as successor of Peter, the prince of the apostles, there is also contained the supreme power of 'authoritative teaching. Thus the fathers of the fourth Council of Constantinople, following in the footsteps of their predecessors, put forth this solemn profession:
"The first law of salvation is to keep the rule of true faith. And whereas the words of our Lord Jesus Christ cannot be passed by, who said, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church (Mt 16:18), these words, which he spake, art proved true by facts; for in the apostolic see the Catholic religion has ever been preserved unspotted, and the holy doctrine has been announced. Therefore, wishing never to be separated from the faith and teaching of this see, we hope to be worthy to abide in that one communion which the apostolic-see preaches, in which is the fill and true firmness of the Christian religion." [Formula of St. Hormisdas, pope as proposed by Hadrian II to the fathers of the eighth General Council (Constantinople, IV), and subscribed by them.]
So, too, the Greeks, with the approval of the second Council of Lyons, professed that the holy Roman Church holds over the universal Catholic Church a supreme and full primacy and headship, which she truthfully and humbly acknowledges that she received, with fullness of power, from the Lord himself in blessed Peter, the prince or head of the apostles, of whom the Roman pontiff is the successor; and as she, beyond the others, is bound to defend the truth of the faith, so, if any questions arise concerning faith, they should be decided by her judgment. And, finally, the Council of Florence defined that the Roman pontiff is the true vicar of Christ, and the head of the whole Church, and the father and teacher of all Christians and that to him, in the blessed Peter, was given by our Lord Jesus Christ full power of feeding, and ruling, and governing the universal Church (Joh 21:15-17).
In order to fulfill this pastoral charge, our predecessors have ever labored unweariedly to spread the saving doctrine of Christ among all the nations of the earth, and with equal care have watched to preserve it pure and unchanged where it had been received. Wherefore the bishops of the whole world, sometimes singly, sometimes assembled in synods, following the long-established custom of the churches (St. Cyril, Alexand., and St. Caelest. Pap.), and the form of ancient rule (St. Innocent I to Councils of Carthage and Milevi), referred to this apostolic see those dangers especially which arose in matters of faith, in order that injuries to faith might best be healed there where the faith could never fail (St. Bernard, epistle 190). And the Roman pontiffs, weighing the condition of times and circumstances, sometimes calling together general councils, or asking the judgment of the Church scattered through the world, sometimes consulting particular synods, sometimes using such other aids as divine Providence supplied, defined that those doctrines should be held which, by the aid of God, they knew to be conformable to the holy Scriptures and the apostolic traditions. For the Holy Ghost is not promised to the successors of Peter that they may make known new doctrine revealed by him, but that, through his assistance, they may sacredly guard and faithfully set-forth the revelation delivered by the apostles, that is, the deposit of faith. And this their apostolic teaching all the venerable fathers have embraced, and the holy orthodox doctors have revered and followed, knowing most certainly that this see of St. Peter ever remains free from all error, according to the divine promise of our Lord and Savior made to the prince of the apostles: I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not, and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren (Conf. St. Agatho, Ep. ad Imp. a Conc. AEcum. VI approb.)
Therefore this gift of truth, and of faith which fails not, was divinely bestowed on Peter and his successors in this chair, that they should exercise their high office for the salvation of all, that through them the universal flock of Christ should be turned away from the poisonous food of error and should be nourished with the food of heavenly doctrine, and that, the occasion of schism being removed, the entire Church should be preserved one, and, planted on her foundation, should stand firm against the gates of hell.
Nevertheless, since in this present age, when the saving efficacy of the apostolic office is exceedingly needed, there are not a few who carp at its authority, we judge it altogether necessary to solemnly declare the prerogative which the only-begotten Son of God has designed to unite to the supreme pastoral office.
Wherefore, faithfully adhering to the tradition handed down from the commencement of the Christian faith, for the glory of God our Savior, the exaltation of the Catholic religion, and the salvation of Christian peoples, with the approbation of the sacred council, we teach and define it to be a doctrine divinely revealed, that, when the Roman pontiff speaks ex cathedra, that is, when in the exercise of his office of pastor and teacher of all Christians, and in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority; he defines that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held by the universal Church, he possesses, through the divine assistance promised to him in the blessed Peter, that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to be endowed, in defining a doctrine of faith and morals; and therefore that such definitions of the Roman pontiff are irreformable of themselves, and not by force of the consent of the Church thereto.
And if any one shall presume, which God forbid, to contradict this our definition, let him be anathema.
Given in Rome, in the public session, solemnly celebrated in the Vatican Basilica, in the year of the incarnation of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy, on the eighteenth day of July, in the twenty-fifth year of our pontificate. Ita est.
Joseph, Bishop of St. Polten, Secretary of the Council of the Vatican.
The expectation that some of the bishops who opposed infallibility at the council would persist in their opposition, and decline to promulgate the new doctrine in their dioceses, was not fulfilled. The bishops not only submitted themselves, but forced also their dioceses to submit. In Germany a number of the most prominent theological scholars were removed from their chairs, and suspended from their priestly functions, for refusing to comply with the demands of Rome. Thus the creed of the Roman Catholic Church received a new doctrine which, in the opinion of many theologians who up to that time had been regarded throughout the Church as her ablest scholars, radically changes the character of the Church.
According to the opinion of Dr. Döllinger, more has been written on this subject during the last one hundred and thirty years than on any other point of Church history during fifteen hundred years. The most important work on the subject, that of Janus (The Pope and the Council), as well as the works of Maret, Döllinger, Maistre, and several works of former centuries, have already been noticed. Other important works treating on the subject are Ballerini, De Vi ac Ratione Primatus; Schrader (Jesuit), De Unitate Romana (vol. 1, Freiburg, 1862; vol. 2, Vienna, 1866); Philipp, Kirchenrecht (vol. 5); Rudis, Petra Romana (Mentz, 1869); Deschamps (archbishop of Malines), L'Infallibilite du Pape (Malines, 1869); Gratry, Lettres stur L'Infallibilite du Pape (Paris, 1869, 1870); Weninger (Jesuit), The Infallibility of the Pope (Cincinnati, 1869); Hergenrdther Anti-Janus (Wurzburg, 1870); Frohshammer. Zur Wurdigung der Unfehlbarkeit des Papstes und d. kirchle (Munich, 1869); Bickell, Gründe fur die Unfehlbarkeit des Kirchenoberhaluptes (Miinster, 1870); Rauscher (carlinal archbishop of Vienna), Observationes quaedum de infailibilitatis ecclesice subjecto (Naples, 1870, against the dogmatization of infallibility); Kleutgen (Jesuit), De Romani Pontifis Suprema potestate docendi (Naples, 1870); Schmitz, 1st der Papst perssnlich unfehlbar (Munich, 1870). The fullest account of the proceedings of the council relative to the dogmatization of infallibility is given in Quirinus, Rinzische Briefe vom Concil (Munich, 1870). (A.J. S.)