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My friend wants to know: How can a pope’s decisions be changed if he is infallible?

Full Question

A good friend of mine asked me how a pope can be infallible and yet do terrible things. If the Church takes back decisions a pope has made, how can that pope have been infallible?

Answer

Your friend suffers from a common misunderstanding about the Church’s teaching on infallibility. Papal infallibility is not a guarantee that popes will not make mistakes or even that they will not sin. It is simply a gift of the Holy Spirit whereby popes cannot err when definitively proclaiming doctrine on matters of faith and morals.

 









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2 comments

  1. jose Reply

    i am glad to have been born in a time when pope francis is the pope of the catholic church (in vatican city)… in comparison to the previous popes that was just a representation for a leader of an organization (and in history has misused such power of authority), but observing the news about the pope’s outreach for the public, and the common people, the needy – gives hope for the religious followers that even the highest ranks of absolute power among world organizations (i.e. governments, businesses, corporations, industries) could learn from the humility (and generosity) of this gesture to reach out to the lowest of ranks…however, unless church could equally or more function more influentially in providing resources to the common people – than merely depending on governments for producing money and public servics and the private sector for businesses to provide employment – then perhaps, the church, could be a better institutionalized religion that religious members could better depend on for basic human needs (i.e. livelihoods, financial assistance and allowances, water, food, housing, etc.)…in freely giving and sharing by the highest ranks and religious organizations to the lowest ranks and status of people as God’s People…

  2. jose Reply

    i am glad to have been born in a time when pope francis is the pope of the catholic church (in vatican city)… in comparison to the previous popes that was just a representation for a leader of an organization (and in history has misused such power of authority), but observing the news about the pope’s outreach for the public, and the common people, and the needy – gives hope for the religious followers that even the highest ranks of absolute power among world organizations (i.e. governments, businesses, corporations, industries) could learn from the humility (and generosity) of this gesture to reach out to the lowest of ranks…

    however, unless the church could equally or more function more influentially in providing resources to the common people – than merely depending on governments for producing money and public services, and the private sector for businesses to provide employment and salaries/wages – then perhaps, the church, could be a better institutionalized religion that religious members could better depend on for basic human needs (i.e. livelihoods, financial assistance and allowances, water, food, housing, etc.); especially when the vatican city is a nation (a country with a political government and own money and financial institutions) that could finance more public and private projects and programs similar to what wealthy nations do to needier nations…

    so that beyond establishing religious groups (or religious orders, church buildings, and religious schools) together with its infrastructure – that free giving and sharing of resources by the highest ranks among religious organizations (that are also political in nature) to the lowest ranks and status of people (and nations) as part of the charity cause of God’s People…and directly truly help solve world issues such as world poverty, environment issues, employment issues, health issues, and the spiritual issues of family love throughout humanity…

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