Tag Archives: media

Christ, His Church and the teaching on Infallibility

February 25, 2013


The pope is infallible only when he speaks on doctrine of faith and morals. Photo/Jess Pac    Licensed under Creative Commons.

The pope’s proclamations on doctrine of faith and morals are infallible, the Church teaches. Photo/Jess Pac. Licensed under Creative Commons.

I know it’s been quite a while since my last post. I wish I could say I’ve been taking a break from the blog to study in Rome this winter. Someday, maybe …

I recently heard a radio news announcer almost deify the Holy Father when he asked whether Pope Benedict would “continue to be infallible” in his retirement. Even after another journalist tried to clarify the teaching on papal infallibility, the program host persisted in his error.

With such confusion around us, I thought it might be good to look at what the Church really teaches on infallibility.

Popes themselves are not infallible

First of all, popes themselves are not infallible, which means to be exempt or immune from liability to error. Most have been holy men but also bearers of original sin like the rest of us. The Church teaches that only papal proclamations connected to doctrinal authority are considered infallible.

According to the Catechism, “The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful – who confirms his brethren in the faith – he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals …” (CCC891)

Since infallibility comes with the office, any statements Pope Benedict makes after he retires will not be considered infallible. Though history tells us some popes led less than exemplary lives, none of them compromised the Church’s Magisterium (teaching authority).

We hear a lot about papal infallibility but in reality, Catholics believe Christ granted this attribute not just to St. Peter and his successors but to His Church. He desires the unity of faith. Belief in the Church’s infallibility in defining faith and morals is Church dogma established at the first Vatican Council (1869-1870). Many Church fathers also wrote in support of the Church’s infallibility.

Evidence in Scripture

The concept of infallibility is not found explicitly in a particular scripture verse but the following passages, together with explanation from Catholic Encyclopedia, offer evidence that the Lord intended it.

  •  Matthew 28:18-20; The Church believes Christ gave the Apostles teaching authority, not just for themselves but to pass on to their successors.
  • Matthew 16:18; “The gates of hell will not prevail” against the Church, which implies the assurance of infallibility in the exercise of her teaching office.
  • John 14, 15, and 16; Jesus promises the Holy Spirit’s presence and assistance to His Church; the Spirit of truth is responsible for the veracity of Church teaching.
  • I Timothy 3:14-15; St. Paul states that the Church is the “pillar and foundation” of truth.
  • Acts 15:28 The authority of the Holy Spirit in Church teaching.

Since papal infallibility was defined at Vatican I, it has only been used directly once, to define the doctrine of the Assumption in 1950. Bl. John Paul II used it indirectly to declare in a 1994 apostolic letter that the Church  doesn’t have authority to ordain women. The following year the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declared that teaching belongs to the deposit of faith — the body of saving truth entrusted by Christ to the Apostles to be preserved and proclaimed.

Besides the pope himself, the college of bishops also speaks infallibly when exercising the Church’s Magisterium.

Drawing from Vatican II documents the Catechism states:  “ … The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium, above all in an Ecumenical Council. When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine ‘for belief as being divinely revealed,’ and as the teaching of Christ the definitions ‘must be adhered to with the obedience of faith.’ This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.” (CCC891)

The Holy Spirit’s 2,000-year guidance of the Catholic Church is evidence of the infallibility of her Magisterium. Not that it hasn’t been rocky sometimes. Still, it’s why I have confidence that the new pope will continue the tradition of teaching authoritatively — and infallibly — on faith and morals.

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Oscars: Take time to pray for all those in media who really need a prayer

February 24, 2012


On the occasion of the Academy Awards this weekend, in its parish bulletin St. Therese in Deephaven offered this prayer for the media and entertainment industry:

“Father, in a world deafened by a cacophony of sounds, may all be able to hear your whispering voice. We ask this for all who work in media, the press, radio, television, the internet. May they cherish truth more strongly than their own prejudices and personal agendas. May they present truth in a way that will enlighten hearts rather than inflame passions and conflicts.

“We pray for the artists and musicians of the world. May they utilize their talents to give you glory and in the process receive the recognition that they deserve. May they expose the horror and error of sin and the beauty and truth of virtue. We ask this, Father, in the name of your Son, our divine Master, the Way, the Truth and the Life, who lives and reigns gently with you, and the Holy Spirit, one loving God, forever and ever. Amen.”

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Reporter finds religion covering the sex abuse crisis

October 10, 2011


A mainstream media reporter came back to the church after covering the clergy sex abuse story?

That sounds ironic, but that’s just what happened with Tom Breen, religion reporter for the Associated Press. Read a fuller account that includes a Q & A with blogger Sarah Pulliam Bailey at http://www.GetReligion.org.

Here’s an appetizer of what you’ll find there. Breen said he began covering religion stories because:

It was not only a fascinating topic, but it was one that not many other reporters were interested in covering, so I could pursue stories without stepping on any toes. I also had tremendously knowledgeable editors who were hungry for religion news. One of them put it to me in a way I’ve always remembered: compare the amount of resources the press spends on covering primary elections, he told me, with the number of people who vote in primary elections. Now compare the resources spent on covering religion with the number of people who attend a weekly worship service.

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Catholic Guy cracks jokes and cracks wise over his foibles and his faith

September 19, 2011


I hate to feed Lino Rulli’s ego, but here  goes: His book “Sinner” had me chuckling out loud.

Fortunately there’s a good dose of humility left in the St. Paul native despite his success in both television and radio. When that’s combined with the self-deprecating humor that he spreads on pretty thickly in stories from his relatively young life-and-times, it makes for reading that’s both funny and — I’m searching for a word here — well, evangelizing? Catechizing without trying too hard? Preaching as much to himself as to others?

Lino is a self-admitted screw up who’s trying not to be.

He’s trying to be a good Catholic, holy, even a saint. He claims to be not doing so well at it, hence the book’s title. You and I might call him normal.

Okay, maybe obsessive.

Definitely gregarious and out-spoken.

Yes, paranoid.

But still funny. And he’d want me to mention that he’s single and still available, ladies.

As he both stumbles along and finds success , the tales he tells are the stuff of sitcoms. The pratfalls are both physical and moral, and that’s where the faith connection comes into play. The stories usually have a punchline, and most have a sliver or two of catechism, too.

Catholic media someone will actually watch & listen to

So that makes “Sinner” not unlike Lino’s “The Catholic Guy” show on SiriusXM Radio afternoons daily, which he tries to make three hours of Catholic radio that doesn’t suck (his description).

That’s what the book is: It’s funny stories that end up being a teaching vehicle about things Catholic that won’t bore you to death or hit you over the head with dogma. The Catholic teaching is there, but it’s a pill that’s not that hard to swallow.

Frankly, the quality of the writing in “Sinner” isn’t unexpected. Lino’s writing talent made the pages of The Catholic Spirit young-adult friendly for a number of years. The “Generation Cross” show that he hosted on Twin Cities cable television aimed, successfully, to be Catholic TV people 18-to-34 would actually watch. His quick wit and his professional know-how around a camera and microphone have been recognized with three Emmys.

Readers of “Sinner” will find themselves appreciating Lino’s dedication to his Catholic faith and his commitment to excellence in his chosen vocation. And they’ll laugh out loud, too.

“Sinner” is available on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble, via Kindle and audiobook as well.


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