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How can the popes be infallible if they can contradict each other?

Full Question

If the Catholic popes are infallible as you claim, then how can they contradict each other? Pope Clement XIV condemned the Jesuits in 1773, but Pope Pius VII favored them again in 1814.

Answer

When Catholics say popes can’t contradict each other, we mean they can’t do so when they teach infallibly, not when they make disciplinary and administrative decisions. The example you cited is a case of the latter and not the former.

Pope Clement XIV didn’t “condemn” the Jesuits in 1773, but he did suppress the order–that is, he “shut it down.” Why? Because the Bourbon princes and others hated the success of the Jesuits. They pressured the pope until he gave in and suppressed the order. Even so, the decree which the pope signed didn’t judge or condemn the Jesuits. It merely listed the accusations against them and concluded that “the Church cannot enjoy true and lasting peace so long as the Society remains in existence.”

As you noted, Pope Pius VII restored the order in 1814. Was the suppression of the Jesuits by Clement a mistake? Did it evince a lack of courage? Perhaps, but the important thing to note here is that it in no way was concerned with papal infallibility.













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2 comments

  1. MARTHESE CARMEN THEUMA Reply

    SIR, KINDLY UNSUBSCRIBE ME FROM YOUR LIST I AM NOT INTERESTED WRITING AGAINST THE POPES.
    MARTHESE C THEUMA

  2. narciso mesquita Reply

    The suppression of the society of jesus has nothing to do with the infallibility of the of the Popes because it was a balanced decision considering the political situation in those days.
    Like wise many have criticised Pope Pious for his silence in protecting thr jews. Here also was governed by the political situations in those days. In his silence he was the for runner to save a million jews.
    Infallibility of the Pope is in concern with the dogmas of faith only. Otherwise he is a human being just like us.
    These are personal views only without prejudice to any person or friend

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