Tag Archives: True

​Sphere of Infallibility

 

Since the time of Christ, from the first council of the Apostles in Jerusalem in the year 50, to the last Vatican Council in 1870, there have been held in all twenty-one general or ecumenical councils. The Vatican Council, shown above, declared the dogma of the infallibility of the Pope.

 

    When does the Church teach infallibly? –The Church teaches infallibly when it defines, through the Pope alone, as the teacher of all Christians, or through the Pope and the bishops, a doctrine of faith or morals to be held by all the faithful.The Church, as the representative or substitute of Jesus Christ on earth, is infallible, and speaks with His own words: “This is why I was born, and why I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37). 

  1. When the Church makes an infallible pronouncement, we are not to suppose that a new doctrine is being introduced. For instance, when the Holy Father in 1854 defined the Blessed Virgin’s Immaculate Conception as an article of faith, the infallible definition was not a proclamation of a new doctrine, but was merely an announcement of an article of faith true from the very beginning, and publicly defined only in order to make the dogma clear to all and to be believed as part of the deposit of faith left to the Church.Another example is the definition of the Holy Father’s infallibility, made in 1870 by the Vatican Council. The dogma was true from the very beginning, and had been universally held. But as in recent times many objections were being made against it, the Bishops in the Vatican Council thought it best, in order to make clear the stand of the Church, to make an infallible definition. 
  2. The Church makes infallible pronouncements on doctrines of faith and morals, on their interpretation, on the Bible and Tradition, and the interpretation of any part or parts of these. The dogma of the Inmaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin was an interpretation of a long-standing Tradition in the Church.The Church also pronounces on the truth or falsity of opinions, teachings, customs, etc., with relation to fundamental doctrines. Another subject on which the Church makes infallible declarations is in the canonization of Saints. All whom the Church has raised to the glory of the altar by a solemn canonization are undoubtedly now in heaven, enjoying eternal bliss in the presence of God.
    When does the Church teach infallibly through the Pope alone? –The Church teaches infallibly through the Pope alone, when he speaks officially (ex cathedra) as the Supreme Head, for the entire universal Church.As the Pope has authority over the Church, he could not err in his official teaching without leading the Church into error. As Our Lord said to Peter, the first Pope: “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith may not fail; and do thou, when once thou hast turned again, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31-32).In order to speak infallibly, the Pope must speak ex-cathedra, or officially, under the following conditions: 

  1. He must pronounce himself on a subject of faith or morals. Infallibility is restricted to questions regarding faith and morals. The Church pronounces on natural sciences and on legislation only when the perversity of men makes of them instruments for opposing revealed truths.If the Pope should make judgments on mathematics or civil governments, he is as liable to error as any other man with the same experience. Letters to kings and other rulers are not infallible pronouncements. However, we should hold the Pope’s opinions on any subject with great respect, on account of his position and experience. 
  2. He must speak as the Vicar of Christ, in his office as Pope, and to the whole Church, to all the faithful throughout the world. In his capacity as private teacher, for example, in his encyclical letters, he is as any other teacher of the Church.Should the Pope, like Benedict XIV, write a treatise on Canon Law, his book would be written in a private capacity, and liable to error, just as the books of other theologians. We accept, not on faith, but in obedience to his authority, out of respect for his experience and wisdom. 
  3. He must make clear by certain words his intention to speak ex-cathedra. These words are most often used: “We proclaim,” “we define,” etc.The Pope’s infallible decrees are termed “doctrinal,” since they involve doctrine. From the earliest days of the Church, the infallibility of the Pope has been acknowledged. In the year 417 the Holy See condemned the Pelagian errors; St. Augustine cried out the famous words, “Rome has spoken; the cause is ended!” The Council of Florence in 1439 called the Pope “the Father and Teacher of Christians.”
    When does the Church teach infallibly through the Pope and the bishops? –The Church teaches infallibly through the Pope and the bishops when convened in a general (or ecumenical) council. [when they INTEND to teach infallibly(RMO)] 

  1. A General Council is an assembly convened by the Holy See, of all the bishops of the world, and others entitled to vote. It represents the teaching body of the Church, and must be infallible.In the year 50 the Apostles held the first General Council in Jerusalem. Its decisions were proclaimed as coming from God, the final decree beginning with these words: “For the Holy Spirit and we have decided to lay no further burden upon you” (Acts 15:28) 
  2. Over a General Council, the Pope or his legate presides; a representative number of bishops and others entitled to vote, such as cardinals, abbots, and generals of certain religious orders, must be present. Upon confirmation by the Pope, a General Council’s decrees are binding on all Christians.It must be understood that the decrees of a General Council have no binding authority until confirmed by the Pope. There is no appeal from the Pope to a General Council. 
  3. A unanimous vote is not necessary for an infallible decision of a general council; a great majority is sufficient.The most notable of the General Councils so far held following the Council of Jerusalem have been: (1) the Council of Nicea, in the year 325, which pronounced against the heresy of Arius; (2) the Council of Ephesus, in the year 425, which declared Mary the Mother of God; (3) the Council of Nicea. in 787, which declared the veneration of images as lawful and profitable; (4) the Council of Trent, 1545-1563, which declared against the heresies of Luther; (5) the Council of the Vatican, 1870, which defined as an article of faith the doctrine of the infallibility of the Pope. 
  4. Even when the bishops are not gathercd together in one place, they form the teaching body of the Church, united with the Pope. Therefore their voice must be infallible, otherwise the universal Church would be led into error. For the same reason as above, the daily ordinary uniform teaching of the Church in every place in the whole World is infallibly true.“Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.God Bless BJS!!

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​Marks of the True Church

 

The True Church is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. The Church that possesses all the shining marks which Our Lord gave is the Church of God, the True Church. Any church that lacks even one of these marks is an imitation, a false church, and not the one founded by Our Lord. The True Church must possess all these marks. It is the Church which Christ commanded all to hear and obey.

 

    Did Christ establish many Churches? –Christ established only one Church, to continue till the end of time. 

  1. As God is one, He established one Church, which He commanded all men to obey and to follow in the way of salvation.God is essentially one. He is Truth itself. How can He say to one group of men that there are three Persons in one God, and to another that there is only one Person? How can He say to one body that the Holy Eucharist is Himself, and to another that it is mere bread? God cannot contradict Himself. “He who hears you hears me” (Luke 10:16). “There shall be one fold and one shepherd” (John 10:16). 
  2. Christ never referred to His Churches, but to His Church. Christ chose only one Head for His Church. Peter could not have been the Head of conflicting churches.Christ said: “And I say to thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). Christ did not say: “Upon this rock I will build My Churches,” it was clearly not His intention to establish various conflicting churches. 
  3. Christ, even in His prayers, spoke of unity among His followers. There would evidently be no unity if He had founded many churches.Immediately before His passion, He prayed: “Yet not for these only do I pray, but for those also who through their word are to believe in me, that all may be one, even as thou, Father, in me and I in thee; that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:20-21).

      Is there any way by which we can distinguish the Church that Christ founded from all other churches? –We can distinguish the Church founded by Christ from all other churches by the marks or signs that Our Lord gave to it.

      mark is a sign by which something may be distinguished from all others of the same kind. By its marks we can recognize the True Church as the one founded by Jesus Christ, distinguishing it from all other churches, however similar.

       

    1. It is important that we know which is the Church established by Christ, in order that we may obey it, as God commands. Then shall we also be certain what to believe and do in order to be saved; the Church, that True Church, will be our guide to heaven.We must distinguish the True Church from false churches, because today there are many imitations of the Church founded by Christ. 
    2. The True Church must be that which Christ personally founded, and the Apostles propagated. It must have existed continuously since the time of Christ. It must teach in their entirety all the doctrines commanded by the Divine Founder while He was still on earth; and all its members must profess those fundamental doctrines. It must be a visible organization, discernible and discoverable, evidently existing, with clear marks or signs distinguishing it as the True Church.It was through a common bond of faith that the faithful throughout the world were, to be united in one body, the Church, their heritage from the Son of God. Our Lord therefore before His Ascension made the necessary provision so that all men might from thenceforth recognize the Church which He established, and which He commanded all to join.
      What are the chief marks of the True Church? –The chief marks of the True Church are four: It is one, holy, catholic or universal, and apostolic. 

    1. Christ intended His Church to be One; therefore the True Church must be One. Its members must be united in doctrine, in worship, and in government. Christ said:“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand” (Mark 3:24). “There shall be one fold and one Shepherd” (John 10:16). 
    2. Christ intended His Church to be Holy; therefore the True Church must be Holy. It must teach a holy doctrine in faith and morals, because its Founder is holy. It must provide the means for its members to lead a holy life.“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. … Therefore, by their fruits you will know them” (Matt. 7:15-17,20).Christ promised His Church the gift of miracles, a sign of holiness: “Amen, amen, I say to you, he who believes in me, the works that I do he also shall do, and greater than these he shall do” (John 14:12). He said: “You therefore are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is Perfect” (Matt. 5:48). 
    3. Christ intended His Church to be universal, that is, catholic; and therefore the True Church must be Universal, or Catholic. It must be for all peoples of every nation and for all times and teach the same faith everywhere. Christ commanded His disciples:“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). “Go into the whole world. and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). “You shall be witnesses for me … even to the very ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). 
    4. Christ intended His Church to be propagated by His Apostles; and therefore the True Church must be Apostolic. It must be the Church propagated by the Apostles. Its rulers must derive their office and authority by lawful succession from the Apostles. It must hold intact the doctrine and traditions of the Apostles, to whom Christ gave authority to teach.It was Christ Himself, and no one else, Who chose His Apostles and disciples, and commanded them to teach His doctrines to all the world. St. Paul says: “Even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a Gospel to you other than that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema” (Gal. 1:8). St. Paul himself refers to the Church as “built upon the foundation of the Apostles” (Eph. 2:20).

    This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.God Bless BJS!!