This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Friday, 26 June 2015

Pope Francis declares himself fallible

The Catholic Church enjoyed a rare moment of unity today, when Pope Francis made an ex cathedra declaration of the doctrine of the fallibility of the Pope. For nearly 150 years, successive Popes had enjoyed the status of "infallible", but under such restrictive circumstances that the doctrine was almost meaningless: the Pope must speak ex cathedra, he must speak on faith or morals, he must have the permission of the editor of the Tablet, he must be wearing the holy socks of Pope Pius IX, and he must speak in Latin. All this is now (infallibly) swept away.

Pope Pius IX, the possibly fallible.

There has always been a slight paradox in the notion of papal infallibility, since Pope Pius IX was not infallible until he declared that he was, and so maybe he was never infallible after all. By that logic, anyone who declares himself infallible (e.g. Richard Dawkins or Giles Fraser) could be regarded as such.

Note that Papal infallibility has always been misunderstood by non-Catholics, who make trolling remarks such as "Hee, hee, hee, if he's infallible, why doesn't he tell us who's going to win the 2.30 at Newmarket today?" In fact the Pope KNOWS but he is not allowed to TELL (cf. the secrets of Fatima).

And the winner is Pope's Fancy at 100-8.

Still, there was a general sigh of relief today when Pope Francis renounced infallibility. Some Catholics were worried that he was going to declare that carbon dioxide was the Devil's gas; others feared that he might declare that Jesus's words about divorce were in some sense part of infallible Catholic teaching. (Which bits of Jesus's teaching are to be regarded as infallible is another good question for Catholics: apparently this will be answered at a forthcoming synod.)

The Holy Father himself is greatly relieved, now that he no longer officially infallible. He commented: "I admit that I contradict myself on a daily basis, and so it is a great weight off my mind to know that it really doesn't matter. Actually - what am I saying? - I don't contradict myself, and it does matter. Oh never mind."


  1. So, if the Holy Father claims to be fallible, are we to conclude that in making that claim, it could mean that he is infallible after all? Or not.

    Ever heard of Epimenides the Cretan?

  2. Meanwhile in reality, the US have declared opposition to homosexual "marriage" to be illegal, and Islamists have murdered people in France.

    Not to mention ongoing genocide in the Middle East and Africa.


    But hey !!! Let's bash the Pope to show our refinement !!!

    And never mind that pesky old Commandment about false witness ...

    1. Well perhaps the Holy Father will get round to mentioning some of these in his next encyclical. Then we'll all be happy.

    2. There is a connection you know, a very strong connection between the two.

  3. Blimey! I never knew about the Pope and the winners at Newmarket.

    At least he won't catch fire from the Devil's gas now he's no longer inflammable.

    You learn so much from this blog

  4. If he has too much Devil's gas he may become inflatable.