Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Infallibility Should Be Made of Sterner Stuff

Under the doctrine of Papal infallibility,

the Pope is preserved from even the possibility of error when he solemnly declares or promulgates to the Church a dogmatic teaching on faith or morals as being contained in divine revelation, or at least being intimately connected to divine revelation.
So it must be that somewhere amid one of those weasel-words, qualifiers, hems, haws, and hedges, there exists a crack wide enough to admit error in the Pope's recent decision to embrace a batshit-insane conspiracy-mongering Holocaust denier. The laity is not pleased and is mouthing off as though the Pope has erred:
If the Pope de-excommunicates a Holocaust denier, the Vatican press office should be working around the clock, with press releases flying, to provide context and do damage control. What's more, if the Pope de-excommunicates a Holocaust denier, the Pope himself needs to say something about it, and not just obliquely nod to the decision in his latest homily. Yes, the Church's primary business is saving souls, not public relations - but in this day and age, public relations is part of the business of saving souls. And nobody in Rome, from Benedict on down, seems to have figured that out.
A mere sheep instructing the shepherd!?! Such pride!

Speaking of which, the Vatican considers President Obama to be "arrogant" because he doesn't tow the line on family planning. Ophelia Benson is on it:
That's terrific, isn't it? An 'official' of an authoritarian moth-eaten hidebound reactionary gang of priests calls a guy elected in a landslide 'arrogant'...What does the Vatican 'official' think the Vatican is if not arrogant? Humbly obedient to god, no doubt, being conveniently blind to the fact that it's hard to obey someone who never communicates, and that what the Vatican chooses to pretend is what god commands is actually what the Vatican commands - that the Vatican selects its own laws and then pretends they are god's laws.
Just marvel at the things we are asked to pretend today. Good times.


Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

This'll definitely go down as one of Pope Cliffy's greatest hits, no doubt.

If there's a God, he seems to be persuading me not to be Catholic.

And to think that I actually Confirmed of my own free will. Seems such a waste now.

Brian said...

For the sake of clarity (I loathe all things Popish, God-ish, etc.), Papal Infallibility doesn't accrue to every idiotic utterance of the Holy See. It only applies when he is speaking "ex cathedra" on matters of faith and morals.

In other words, to remain a Catholic in good standing with Pope Maledict, one can take issue with his reinstatement of the Holocaust denying bishop but is in big trouble when denying the bodily Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven (the last doctrine for which infallibility was invoked, circa 1950).

Dale said...

Brian, fair point. I was getting at that with the mention of weasel-words, hedges, qualifiers, etc. That is, I realize the Pope doesn't claim to be infallible with every utterance. But I also think it's very tricky business for lay Catholics to pick where they will go along with the Pope and where they'll assert the right to demur.

The actual rule seems to be something like: the Pope is being infallible when I agree with him.


I'm not even Catholic and I can follow that rule.

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Just (apparently) to torment myself, I looked up "papal infallibility" on teh Wikipedia.

What a legal mishmash.

Anywhoozle, I don't think this move falls under the purview of PI. As I understand it, it covers matters of faith when promulgated by the Pope in his teaching role within the Catholic church and only when speaking "from the chair" (ex cathedra). I don't know for sure, but this reconciliation strikes me as outside that bailiwick just a bit.

Of course, this hardly even begins to cover the fact that giving LeFebvreists countenance means the Church of my birth has moved even farther away from me.

Amazingly enough, even though the ordinations Archbishop LeFebvre gave were not sanctioned by Rome and therefore illegal, they are not invalid. Still trying to get my mind around that, but there it is.