A couple of comments: Firstly, I must say that in the 22 years that I have associated with Catholics, I have never once met one who claimed that popes are infallible in everything they do - quite the contrary, actually, they tend to very much aware that the popes are anything but that. So I'm inclined to think this is a rather big strawman. But I certainly invite evidence to the contrary.
Secondly, there is unfortunately much confusion about what exactly infallibility is. It is not the case that "infallibility can be turned on & off", but rather that it has a very specific definition which limits it to certain types of teachings. To understand it properly, it really needs to be placed in the context of the general infallibility of the Church, of which it is just one instance, and of the various kinds of Magisterium that the Church exercises. That would take a while, but the brief version is that the scope of infallibility is to interpret points of doctrine which are either 'directly' revealed teachings or 'indirectly' revealed, i.e. "intimately connected with revealed truths".
It's important to distinguish these infallible teachings from the rest of the Church doctrine which isn't infallibly taught. In the case of the different bulls on abortion, obviously the general point is that "abortion is bad". This is derived directly from the prohibition on murder, and is infallibly taught (not by the Pope but the Church as such). However, the question of when the soul enters the foetus, and by extension of when an abortion is no longer permissible, is not a question that touches on revealed truths. In fact, in the intellectual discourse of the times, it would probably have been considered a natual philosophical question. In any case, it is not an issue that within the scope of infallible teaching.
So if I may modify the conclusion a bit: "Simply put, the Pope is always right under extremely limited circumstances, which happen very rarely and are probably mostly of interest to theologicans."
- No, it doesn't make you an "apologist", it makes you someone who can inject some real world sense. Just go ahead and alter the article where you see fit, it's definitely worth pointing out that not all catholics by a long shot will think the Pope is always right. Just because you're catholic doesn't deprive you of a brain that can think for itself, right? ArmondikoVd hominem 12:15, 19 January 2009 (EST)
- To my experience, especially catholics are aware of the limits of this doctrine. LArron 16:38, 19 January 2009 (EST)
First two sentences...
Were a bit of a jumble...if there's anything crucial that did not survive my editing, please re-install them...TheoryOfPractice 17:54, 19 January 2009 (EST)
Introduction of Papal infallibility
- Source? Unicow (talk) 23:04, 24 January 2011 (UTC)
- http://www.ewtn.com/library/COUNCILS/V1.htm#6 Chapter 4 (badly linked page, you have to scroll down), particularly sections 8 (rationale) and 9 (actual institution of infallibility): "Therefore, [...] we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman Pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA, [...] that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals."
- I cut lots of verbiage that is so common in legal documents. CynicalRyan (talk) 06:45, 25 January 2011 (UTC)