Somehow I missed this story, which is a great insight into Pope Benedict, but is also a great insight to some morons who are history professors.
The Pope has shocked theologians and opened a chink in the theory of papal infallibility by saying that people should feel free to disagree with what he has written in his latest book, a meditation on Jesus Christ.
“I really believe this is the first time this has ever happened,” [Professor Giuseppe Alberigo, a professor of the history of the Catholic Church at Bologna University] said. “It is an extraordinarily important gesture. What it means is that the Pope is not totally infallible. As well as being the Pope, he is a common man, hugely studious in this case, but like all men he is subject to debates, arguments and discussions.” He added that Pope John Paul II “could never have made a distinction between ‘official’ Pope and ‘ordinary’ Pope”.
This guy is a professor of the history of the Catholic Church, but unfortunately, he knows little about the dogma of the Catholic Church. And the author of the article, Malcom Moore, is equally daft in following Alberigo’s lead.
The Pope is and has never been infallible. Over time he has issued infallible statements on Catholic teaching. These statements are not taken lightly, and are usually statements regarding a universal truth. It is also a statement that has been rigorously examined by cardinals, bishops and theologians.
Benedict won’t come out and state in an infallible way, “The sun revolves around the earth.” It doesn’t have anything to do with dogma. It has no proof. It’s not an infallible edict. However, saying that the Virgin Mother was conceived free of original sin is an infallible statement as it is an accepted tradition of the Church. Others will say that’s poppycock, but it’s an argument that belongs in the realm of philosophy. As Catholics, we understand it and respect it as truth. It’s built into our dogma.
But that doesn’t mean everything Benedict says is infallible. If he says, “I like eggs,” it’s not an infallible edict. If he writes a book on the origins of the Holy Family, it’s not an infallible text– it’s an historical analysis by Pope Benedict and is open to academic scrutiny.
How frustrating these two idiots are. One’s a supposed expert on the Catholic Church and he doesn’t get the idea of infallibility? And the other is reporting on the Vatican from Rome? I can’t understand why the Pope’s words get mangled all the time.
EDIT: Rereading this, it may be that Alberigo may be “misquoted”. For his sake, I hope he is. He may have said “infallible” but not in the dogmatic way. But his words have certainly been taken for a ride by Moore.
EDIT: There is more on infallibility here.