NOTE infallibility PONTIFICIA
A further clarification of the theologian John Cavalcoli about the infallibility of the Pope in reference to his previous article [WHO] and a recent article published in Church&Postcouncil [WHO] in which it quoted an interesting essay written by the late and valiant Passionist Father Enrico Zoffoli.
Mrs. Maria Guarini has published on its website Church&Postcouncil an interesting essay written by the late and brave Father Enrico Zoffoli, real fighter of faith, which once denounced “heresies of the Neocatechumenal Way” [see WHO] founded in 1972 Madrid's Kiko Arguello and Carmen Hernandez.
But I would make a clarification dictated by my well-founded fear that a statement of this revered father Passionist might be misunderstood, and it is this: "The Pope is infallible only to the circumstances known to all".
First, we clarify what it means “infallible“ in terms of doctrine. Means “it can not be fake“. Well, say that the Pope is infallible, it means that he tells the truth without being able to make mistakes. In this regard,, probably the Father Enrico Zoffoli refers to the dogma of papal infallibility defined by the Second Vatican [Denz. 3074], where you make precisely the conditions of such infallibility.
It should be noted here, however, the risk of a misunderstanding. The Council puts certain conditions infallibility, that is, when the Pope declares that a given proposition is contained in divine Revelation: the so-called “dogmatic definition”, which constitutes a proposition of faith defined as such, be believed with divine faith. But the Council does not say that the Pope is infallible only to those conditions, because there are other conditions, more common and less solemn, even the most basic, necessary and sufficient for the infallibility. They are not indicated by the Council, but we find them in other places of the Magisterium and Tradition.
The conditions laid down by the First Vatican represent the supreme authority of the Magisterium of the Church; they give the utmost certainty that a proposition is of faith; but these conditions occur very rarely and in very exceptional circumstances.
There are therefore also lower grades of infallibility, most common, simple and ordinary, in which the Pope teaches a doctrine final and immutable, absolutely true, although not with type formulas defining how the dogmatic definitions. It is therefore, also here, a doctrine that can never be false, and therefore is infallible. In fact, the infallibility of a doctrine does not depend accent, the mode or form of expression with which it is taught, but the value or weight of the contents.
The only certainty so far is not the truth of a doctrine. What is the Ministry of Transport or the policeman told me that in the historical center of the city is prohibited car traffic, does not touch the truth of the content, but his authority. So in the doctrines of faith and morals. When the Pope teaches, do it in a simple or solemn, pastoral or dogmatic, defining or non defining, new or traditional, the main thing is that whatever doctrine of faith or at least connected with faith.
In the case of the doctrines new Vatican II, This question comes up, for instance, in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, where you give the definitions of the Church, charisms, hierarchy, of faithful, lay people, religious, etc.. Even then you give infallible doctrines, that is absolutely true, even if you have not defined solemnly under the conditions prescribed by the Vatican.
In fact today it seems that the conditions of infallibility are not just “all notes”, says ottimitisticamente Father Enrico Zoffoli. Precisely for this reason St. John Paul II in 1998 published the Apostolic Letter To defend the faith, accompanied by an appendix of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith [see WHO], which exposes three degrees of infallibility, of which only the first corresponds to that established by the Vatican.
It is therefore not honest method followed by some to take only as infallible doctrines of First Instance to have the pretext of considering fallible or even false doctrines of Vatican II on the grounds that they are not expressed in the way of definition of First Instance. This absolutely does not mean that all the teachings of the Council are infallible, but they are only those doctrinal. And it is false, as some, that the Council was only pastoral and not doctrinal. Indeed, dealing with Lefebvre, Benedict XVI said that some teachings of the Council are questionable, making express reference only to those precisely pastoral. Conversely, however,, increasingly turning to Lefebvrians, told them that, if they wanted to be in full communion with the Church, had to accept the doctrines of the Council: obvious reference to their infallibility, which instead is denied by Lefebvrians.
So also in the teachings of the Popes we must distinguish between those dogmatic dottrinli and those pastoral-disciplinary. The Pope is infallible only in the first, not in seconds. Striking example of this is the dramatic story of the relationship of Alexander VI with Savonarola, about which we have just recently published an article. The Pope treated unfairly Savonarola, but as Pope, teacher of the faith and pastor of the Church, always fulfilled his duty.
Varazze, 28 March 2015
This paper is a further explanatory note to this my previous article, see WHO