On Papal Infallibility

Pope Benedict XVI greets the youth in front of a huge Jesus Christ portrait in Krakow May 27, 2006. (Photo: REUTERS / Wolfgang Rattay)

St. Nektarios of Aegina 1846-1920

His Beatitude the Pope sinned greatly when he proclaimed himself infallible and sinless… Infallibility abrogates Synods, takes away from them significance, importance, and authority, and proclaims them incompetent, disturbing the confidence of the faithful in them. The proclamation of the infallibility of the Pope disturbed the foundations of the Western Church; because it provided ground for suspicion about the authority of Synods, and secondly it made her depend on the intellectual and spiritual development of a single person, the Pope… Since every Pope judges concerning what is right as it seems to him, and interprets Scripture as he wills, and lays down the law as he considers right, in what respect is he different from the multifarious dogmatists of the Protestant Church? …Perhaps in the case of the Protestants each individual constitutes a Church, while in the Western Church one individual constitutes the entire Church, not always the same individual but ever a different one. (The Seven Ecumenical Synods, [Athens], pp. 22-23, 27. excerpted from Cavarnos, The Question of Union, p. 20)


  1. This is one of the reasons why I converted to Orthodoxy from Roman Catholicism. The Latins argue that even Tradition does not matter any more because the Holy Spirit guides the Pope, which keeps him from making doctrinal errors; hence, papal infallibility. But like the article says, “one individual constitutes the entire Church, not always the same individual but ever a different one.” Before I was Orthodox, I was a well-established staunch papist who worshipped in the Tridentine Rite, also called the Latin Mass. When I realized that even Tradition itself has no authority over the Pope, and that the Pope can “judge” which aspects of both doctrinal and liturgical Christianity were binding, then one can see that even the primordial Apostolic Tradition of the Church has no ultimate weight or meaning anymore. Once this is washed away from the minds of Bishops, all you have left is the religion of the man-god, the one who stands in the place of Christ on earth as the visible head of the Church. This explains so many things, and for myself as a former Roman Catholic traditionalist, it explains why so many Roman Catholics are falling away; why there are so few priestly vocations; why there are no more Saints, but plenty of “problems” afflicting the Roman Catholic system from within its very bosom; ultimately, why Rome has not been Orthodox since the Great Schism, and probably why Rome will never be Orthodox again.

  2. Thank you John!

    in ICXC,

  3. To be fair, infallibility is not impeccability. It relates to the inability to err doctrinally in an official capacity, it has no relation to personal sinlessness. It belongs to the office of the papacy in itself, not the person. It is still an error, but worth not understanding wrongly.

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