Gribbit and the Pope

You've gotta see this amusing post from Gribbit about Pope Benedict and his now-infamous statement about Islam being spread by the sword. He says the Pope shouldn't have to apologize for his remarks, which I agree with. He shouldn't have to apologize for them because they were pretty much accurate. But you're gonna love Gribbit's reason why the Pope shouldn't apologize:

I have a major problem with the presumption that the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, was expected by anyone on this planet to issue an apology to the Muslims of this world. As a soon to be Catechumen in the Roman Catholic faith, I am taught that the Pope is infallible because of the Divine election of the Pope to his office. As the successor of Peter, the rock upon which Christ built his Church, Pope Benedict XVI is infallible by nature...

But it still remains; if the Pope is infallible in his nature, why then must he apologize for representing Christ? After all he is the Vicar of Christ.

He then quotes the Catholic Encyclopedia on papal infallibility, but apparently doesn't realize that, according to Catholic doctrine, the pope is only infallible at particular times - when speaking ex cathedra. Now, that's ridiculously silly enough to begin with, but to expand that to the idea that the pope is always infallible and therefore should never have to apologize for anything he says....well, that's just rank idiocy.

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I am taught that the Pope is infallible because of the Divine election of the Pope to his office.

Wait, what? The pope is infallible because he's elected?

I must be missing something here.

"Wait, what? The pope is infallible because he's elected?

I must be missing something here."

Hey, it worked for Bush.

By Bill Jarrell (not verified) on 14 Oct 2006 #permalink

Catholics believe (or at least most of them do) that the election of the pope is divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit, who directs the College of Cardinals to choose the pontiff anointed by God. Since God is said to work in mysterious ways, I suppose that covers all of the lobbying and backroom deals that are cut during each papal conclave.

The pope is infallible in terms of his doctrinal teaching authority because he supposedly has power delegated by Christ. "What you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. What you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (It's the "keys of the kingdom" thing from Matt. 16:19, every pope's favorite Bible verse.) Therefore, when the pope says it, it's automatically true. As a mathematician would say, "by definition."

But even the Catholic Church isn't quite as crazy as that might make it appear. The pope isn't infallible when he says "It looks like rain today" or "The best wine is from France." Extremely formal protocols have been adopted for the exercise of papal infallility, including an explicit statement from the pope that he is speaking ex cathedra ("from the chair" of Peter). Formal papal infallibility has, in fact, been invoked only twice, both times by Pius XII and both times to promulgate doctrine relating to the Virgin Mary (1: her Immaculate Conception [no original sin for the mother of the Lord] and 2: her bodily assumption into heaven [no rotting cadaver left behind for Saint Mary]).

Formal infallibility is therefore like the atomic bomb, and just as little used. Conventional doctrinal weaponry seems to suffice for the pope's ordinary discourses on doctrine and theology. Eager retro Catholics want Benedict XVI to use it to proclaim Mary the "Co-Redemptorix" with Christ, but they couldn't get John Paul II (an overt Marianist) to bite on that one and Benny Hex will stay clear, too.

Of course, I'm not infallible when I predict that.

"The pope isn't infallible when he says "It looks like rain today" or "The best wine is from France.""

Well, Ratzi's from Germany, so I'm pretty sure he knows that the best wine is German Riesling.

By MJ Memphis (not verified) on 14 Oct 2006 #permalink

Formal papal infallibility has, in fact, been invoked only twice, both times by Pius XII and both times to promulgate doctrine relating to the Virgin Mary (1: her Immaculate Conception [no original sin for the mother of the Lord] and 2: her bodily assumption into heaven [no rotting cadaver left behind for Saint Mary]).

And Catholics wonder why protestants think they're a Marian cult. It's good to see that the Church hasn't squandered papal infallibility on anything important.

By Ginger Yellow (not verified) on 15 Oct 2006 #permalink

But even the Catholic Church isn't quite as crazy as that might make it appear. The pope isn't infallible when he says "It looks like rain today" or "The best wine is from France." Extremely formal protocols have been adopted for the exercise of papal infallility,

I think that they say it at all pretty much qualifies them for the 'crazy' label whereas the rest is just filler.

And Catholics wonder why protestants think they're a Marian cult.

Never seen that. Of course Catholicism is a Mary cult. You see lots of town squares in Catholic areas named after Mary (in Munich, the town square is the Marienplatz--Mary's square--and it is decorated with the Mariensaeule--Mary's pedestal), but you virtually never see any "Jesus Square."