In this lengthy argument, which we have split into three parts, US lay writer, Edgar Davie, looks at the history of the notion of infallibility and a couple of instances where the institution has seemingly broken the founding principle on which the entire notion is based. Today we present the third and final part of his argument.
On the History and Consequences of Papal Infallibility
The origins of Catholic thinking on the sexual act...
Siricius' illicit use of 'papal infallibility' in order to maintain control over Christianity was the first such recorded event, but pseudo-infallible encyclicals, employed as a tool of theological control over both priests and laity, remain with us in the 21st century. Pope Paul VI's encyclical in 1968, Human Vitae, condemning birth control as a mortal sin is also an attempt to insert "some new doctrine" into the Deposit of Faith. The ascetic Gnostic philosophy that gave us mandatory celibacy brought with it the misogynistic belief that female temptation is traceable directly to the Fall of Eve, and is the first cause of sexual sin. From this belief came the third century teaching of Patristic Fathers that, while procreation is necessary for others than priests, it must be controlled; sexual intercourse between husband and wife was to be strictly confined to acts specifically intended to produce children. Modern Catholics do not realize that aside from reproductive acts, conjugal love was considered a sin after the wife was impregnated.
The first objection to contraception came from the converted pagan, St. Justin Martyr [160AD], in his letter to Trypho the Jew. Supporting the supremacy of virginity he stated, "We Christians marry only to produce children". St. Clement of Alexandria , wrote, "If a man marries to have children he ought not to have a sexual desire for his wife ... he ought to produce children through a reverent, disciplined act". St. Jerome , Tertullian , Origen , who castrated himself in order to escape female temptations, and Augustine, , all taught conjugal love and contraception were sins. Once again this condemnation of birth control introduced a change of Christian-Jewish traditions in the Deposit of Faith. The practice of contraception was approved by Jewish law and practiced by Christians under many circumstances, the primary method being vinegar soaked "absorbents". This Orthodox Jewish law regarding contraception remains unchanged today.
Contraception was first considered sinful by the Patristic Fathers, but was not infallibly defined as mortal sin until 1930 when the Protestants declared contraception to be a matter of conscience. Sensing a Protestant challenge of Vatican teaching authority Pope Pius XI quickly issued an encyclical, Casti Connubi, infallibly defining contraception under any circumstance to be a mortal sin. This brought about a firestorm of Catholic objection. Faced with world wide scandal when Catholics rejected this onerous Papal decretal, it became important for the Vatican to find a means of circumventing this law.
In the 1960s a committee was formed, composed of 79 bishops and lay Catholic scholars, with a request from Pope Paul VI to "Find a way to change the Church's position on birth control without destroying papal authority." The committees voted 69-10 to change the Church's position on birth control, but unfortunately this vote was not the final word. Important Vatican officials quickly issued a minority report composed by Bishop Karol Wojtyla, later Pope John Paul II, stating,
"If it be declared that contraception is not sin in itself, then we should have to concede frankly that the Holy Spirit had been on the side of the Protestant Churches in 1930. It should likewise have to be admitted that for half a century the Spirit failed to protect Pius XI, Pius XII, and a large part of the Hierarchy from serious error. This would mean that leaders of the Church, acting with extreme imprudence, had condemned thousands of innocent human acts, forbidding under pain of eternal damnation, a practice which would now be sanctioned."
With this official insistence that to make this change regarding contraception would destroy the fundamental principle of infallibility, and based solely on the minority report, Pope Paul VI issued a decretal, Humanae Vitae, infallibly condemning all contraception as sinful. By removing birth control as practiced by Christians in the Deposit of Faith Humanae Vitae is reduced to the status of "some new doctrine".
While this papal condemnation of "thousands of innocent human acts" remains in force, newly uncovered information revealing names and actions of Vatican officials, and the covert means employed to protect the concept of papal infallibility were recently released in an informative article published in National Catholic Reporter.
Against Women — The Sin of Female Ordination...
Gnostic-Christian fears that female temptations threatened the celibate priesthood remains with us today. During the reign of Siricius, St. Ambrose said, "Remember, God took the rib out of Adam's body, not a part of his soul to make her. She was not made in the image of God, like man." St. Augustine wrote, "If woman is not given to man for help in bearing children, for what help could she be?" Today the Church will relentlessly pursue, investigate, and defrock a priest involved with a woman, but will covertly protect a sexual molester of children. Today a volatile issue has developed concerning the ordination of women to the priesthood.
Historically, doctrinal papal changes consisted of merely adding to or taking from the Deposit of Faith as circumstances of the time deemed necessary, the primary example being Siricius' use of third century apocrypha to impose celibacy. When the Anglican Church approved the ordination of women, Pope John Paul II challenged their understanding with an infallible Encyclical, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, in1994. The pope replied: "The Church holds that it is not permissible to ordain women to the priesthood for very fundamental reasons. These reasons include: The example recorded in sacred scripture of Christ choosing His apostles only from Men."
The pope's reliance on scripture in support of his infallible declaration is intriguing; it reveals that women disciples and apostles listed in authorative scripture can be ignored when necessary. In the Book of Romans 16:7 we find St. Paul describing women Apostles, "Greet Andronicus and Junias (Junia) my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before me." It is reliably believed the male designation, Junias, a name that did not exist in antiquity, rather than the female, Junia, appeared only after Pope Boniface VIII's decretal, Periculoso, in 1298AD, a decretal requiring nuns be perpetually cloistered in order to limit the growing power and influence of scholarly nuns and scriptural copyist such as St. Gertrude the Great, who had historically rendered the female, 'Junia'.
It was scriptural authority such as this that would have supported the ordination of women; but, while John Paul II found it appropriate to omit scriptural authority for women apostles, it is deemed appropriate to rely on third century apocrypha to impose non-Christian celibacy on the priesthood. Equally disturbing for moral theologians in 2001 was the pope's inclusion of female ordination as a heinous sin to be categorized with sexual abuse of children.
True History -vs- False History...
Few Catholics realize the Apostles elected Jesus' older brother St. James, not St. Peter, as their leader following the crucifixion. St James wrote the New Testament book of James, and served until his assassination by Temple authorities in 62AD; there is much extra Biblical literature available describing James' leadership but rarely mentioned by Catholic apologists who falsely allege that St. Peter became pope during the life of St. James. It was James who assembled the Council of Jerusalem in which pagans were admitted into the Church and it was James who issued the councilor decision. [Acts 15:19] St. James was the consummate Jew, having taken the same Nazarite vow as Sampson, who lost his hair and his eyes for the love of Delilah. St. James was married.
The history presented here is not unknown; as Catholic scholar John Dominic Crossan succinctly explains in his book, The Birth of Christianity, "Earliest Christianity, as I have reconstructed it in the villages of Galilee and the streets of Jerusalem, is not Hellenized into Platonic dualism." Nor did the Son of God come preaching Platonic asceticism. This earliest history has been omitted from theological and priestly education during seminary formation since the 16th century Council of Trent, and for this reason it would be unjust for faithful Catholics to believe their parish priest is knowledgeable, or even aware, of this history. None the less, a priestly scandal does exist today. Only one priest in ten fully live out their vow of celibacy, and therefore cannot be recognized by the public as any different from the 50 percent of priests who are sexually active with adults or children at all time; thus denigrating all priests.
Records of child sex abuse and the misogynist condemnation of contraception appeared in Church literature only after celibacy laws, but historically these laws were personally ignored by our popes. At least 69 popes, including the first 14, were married, some of whom dispensed themselves from celibacy requirements; celibate popes sired future popes and most popes fathered children. For example Pope Alexander VI 1492AD produced 61 children by a stable of concubines. Ironically, today the thought of a married couple such as St. Peter and his wife Perpetua occupying the Vatican is anathema. The use of sacramental Holy Orders and Matrimony as a theological tool of control is not new; over the centuries papal denial of all sacraments to citizens of sovereign nations through the heretical use of interdiction proved effectual in controlling European politics. Believing loss of the sacraments meant eternal damnation citizens rose against leaders who refused papal political demands.
The false tradition of an infallible papal monarch was consummated only in the eleventh century with Pope Gregory VII, and since that century the demise of Catholicism can be traced to papal acts. Rejecting the concept of a monarchial pope the Great Schism with Eastern Orthodox Churches forever divided Catholicism; Pope Leo X's heretical sales of Indulgences led to the ascendency of Protestantism as the largest Christian belief system. But, most disastrously, today we suffer the international tragedy and cover-up of sexually abused children and women, sanctified by papal authority in order to protect a divinized organization, the Vatican.
In the Deposit of Faith bishops and priests were democratically elected by the laity, but today bishops are merely surfs forced into servitude of their feudal papal Lord. It is past time for knowledgeable theologians, clerics, and Catholic activists groups to join with St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage [c.256], who said of Pope Stephen I, "There is no bishop of bishops".
"Yahweh God said, 'It is not good that man should live alone. I will make for him a helpmate.'"
"Heretic: A species of man who having accepted the Faith of Christ corrupts its doctrines"
What are your thoughts on this commentary?