An infallible Catholic dogma based upon a blatant translation error?

Every once in a while I come across a fact about Roman Catholicism that’s STUNNING in its implications, like the one below.

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I’m currently reading an interesting examination of Roman Catholicism – “Exodus from Rome: A Biblical and Historical Critique of Roman Catholicism” (2014) by Todd Baker. A review of the book will be forthcoming, but Baker brings to light a very interesting circumstance that deserves a post of its own.

On July 18, 1870, the First Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic church issued the doctrinal constitution, Pastor Aeternus (“Eternal Shpherd”), which declared the pope is infallible under certain limited conditions. The doctrine of papal infallibility asserts that the pope cannot err or teach error when he speaks on matters of faith and morals, ex cathedra, or “from the chair” of the Apostle Peter—that is, in his role as supreme teacher of the church. The RCC asserts the Holy Spirit directly assists/guides the pope when “he proclaims by a definitive act some doctrine of faith or morals.”

Some non-Catholics and even Catholics mistakenly believe the doctrine of papal infallibility applies to everything the pope says, but it’s supposedly only when he speaks ex cathedra, in his capacity as supreme teacher of the church, is the pope alleged to be infallible. So when has the pope spoken ex cathedra? Although the Roman Catholic church has been in existence for 1500 years, Catholic theologians can only agree on two papal declarations as being ex cathedra and infallible: Ineffabilis Deus (“Ineffable God”) of 1854 in which pope Pius IX defined the immaculate (free from original sin) conception of Mary and Munificentissimus Deus (“The most bountiful God”) of 1950 in which pope Pius XII defined the assumption of Mary bodily into Heaven.

None of the above is Biblical, but now that we’ve gotten the papal infallibility basics out of the way, we can get to RC-ism’s papal infallibility very-sticky-wicket that Todd Baker pointed out.

In Ineffabilis Deus, pope Pius IX declared that Mary was conceived without sin and lived a sinless life thereafter. Pius IX appealed to Genesis 3:15 as his primary Scriptural proof-text. However, Jerome (d. 420 AD) had mistranslated Genesis 3:15 as part of his Latin Vulgate. Below is the translation of Genesis 3:15 from the 1899 edition of the Douay-Rheims English Bible (formerly the official RC English translation), which was based upon Jerome’s Latin Vulgate mistranslation:

“I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.”

Jerome’s interpretation had Mary as the victor over Satan. However, Jerome had mistranslated the masculine Hebrew pronouns as feminine.

The RCC eventually acknowledged its interpretation of Genesis 3:15 was incorrect. The New Revised Standard Version Catholic Bible (1989) translates Genesis 3:15 as:

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”

The verse prophetically declares that Jesus Christ, not Mary, will strike the head of/defeat Satan. Yes, RC Bible scholars now acknowledge that Jerome mistranslated Genesis 3:15.

Let’s now get back to Pius IX. In Ineffabilis Deus, Pius appealed to Jerome’s mistranslation of Genesis 3:15 in support of Mary’s alleged immaculate conception as sinless co-victor with Christ over Satan. He wrote:

“Hence, just as Christ, the Mediator between God and man, assumed human nature, blotted the handwriting of the decree that stood against us, and fastened it triumphantly to the cross, so the most holy Virgin, united with him by a most intimate and indissoluble bond, was, with him and through him, eternally at enmity with the evil serpent, and most completely triumphed over him, and thus crushed his head with her immaculate foot. – for the full text of Ineffabilis Deus see here.

This is important, folks. Understand this. There is no ambiguity. What we have here is an allegedly infallible decree by an allegedly infallible pope that was at least partially-based upon an admittedly erroneous translation of a Scriptural text. It’s crystal clear from the evidence that Pius IX was not under divine guidance when propagating the dogma of the immaculate conception. His argument was a false premise partially-based upon an erroneous translation. If Pius IX had been infallibly guided by the Holy Spirit as the RCC claims, he would have certainly discerned that his church’s interpretation of Genesis 3:15 was faulty. The evidence is irrefutable. Ineffabilis Deus and Pius IX are proven to be fallible beyond a shadow of a doubt.

I’m indebted to Todd Baker for alerting me to this papal infallibility sticky-wicket. Of course, the dogma of the immaculate conception of Mary is altogether un-Biblical as I’ve addressed many times in the past (see here). Today, I just wanted to focus on how this Genesis 3:15 mistranslation quandary absolutely debunks the RCC’s claims of papal infallibility.

Postscript: The painting above is just one example. There are literally hundreds (thousands?) of Catholic paintings, statues, and illustrations depicting Mary standing victoriously upon Satan/the serpent, all based upon Jerome’s mistranslation of Genesis 3:15.

🎵 “‘When the pope says, ‘Don’t cry, rules we’re made to defy,’ that’s Amoris.” 🎵 [To the tune of “That’s Amore”]

Defending the Faith Against Present Heresies: Letters and statements addressed to Pope Francis, the Cardinals, and the Bishops with a collection of related articles and interviews
Edited by John R.T. Lamont and Claudio Pierantoni
Arouca Press, 2021, 433 pp.

3 Stars

After ascending to the papacy in 2013, Jorge “pope Francis” Bergoglio perceived that the Roman Catholic church was in a serious pickle. Official Catholic doctrine taught that remarried divorcees were adulterers and could not receive the eucharist Jesus wafer, the alleged “source and summit of Christian spirituality” as the Catholic catechism declares, or the other sacraments. That was not a big deal fifty years ago when few Catholics divorced, but these days close to 30% of adult Catholics are divorced and many obviously remarry. Then there are the many Catholic couples that cohabitate rather than marry. Rather than endure the church’s discipline, many remarried divorcees and cohabitators stop attending mass altogether. Progressive Catholics like Francis and his allies felt that scrupulous adherence to rules for rules’ sake was counterproductive when fewer and fewer were showing up for mass on Sunday mornings.

In 2016, Francis wrote Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”), an “apostolic exhortation,” which among other things, declared that “in some cases,” those living in “irregular unions” were committing only venial sin rather than mortal sin due to mitigating circumstances (e.g., children) and that it was up to the discretion of the local parish priest as to who could receive the Jesus wafer and the other sacraments. The language of Amoris Laetitia was purposely vague so as not to be seen as flagrantly overturning traditional doctrine.

Conservative and traditionalist Catholics were appalled. They interpreted the pope’s apparent rescindment of the ban on the sacraments to remarried divorcees as an act of grave heresy. Four cardinals officially submitted five dubia (“questions”) to the pope, requesting that he clarify Amoris Laetitia in light of traditional Catholic teaching, but Francis refused to respond. Conservative prelates advised their priests to ignore Francis’ “bending of the rules,” however, when the Argentinian bishops published a guideline endorsing Francis’ pragmatic, rule-bending intentions, the pope cited the document as “authentic magisterium,” i.e., the authorized interpretation. Several petitions signed by prelates, priests, and laypersons followed the dubia, all accusing Francis of heresy, but they were also ignored by the pope. Conservative Catholics were now the ones in a pickle. What to do when the pope is a heretic? They were in a Catch-22 because absolute fealty to the papacy is a prime tenet of conservative Catholicism.

In this book, the conservative Catholic editors present the dubia, the various petitions, and many relevant articles. As an interested evangelical Vatican observer, I was fascinated from start to finish of this book. This is unparalleled papal drama that every evangelical apologist should be taking note of. There was considerable “technical jargon” (references to Catholic papal theology and canon law) throughout, but I managed to wade through without my eyes glazing over too often.

I watched the Amoris Laetita “crisis” unfold beginning in 2016 and have posted many articles over the years citing the mammoth (for Catholicism) dilemma. Francis has undermined the age-old boast that it was impossible for the pope to lead the RC church into error (as per St. Robert Bellarmine, d. 1621). Five years after Amoris Laetitia, the furor among conservative Catholics has somewhat abated. The pope’s strategy to outwait his opponents has partially worked, but the pot is still simmering. All that conservative prelates can do is continue to wring their hands and counsel their priests and lay followers to ignore the heretical pope. There are no mechanisms within canon law to impeach the pope. Missing in this internecine Catholic feud is the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Postscript #1: I ordered this 2021 book from Amazon back in April, but five months later it is strangely no longer being offered. Does Amazon now regard this “Francis is a heretic” book as “hate literature.”

Postscript #2: It’s probably safe to assume that the vast majority of mass-going Roman Catholics are not aware of this Amoris Laetitia controversy. They clock-in and clock-out every Sunday and that’s about the extent of it. However, rest assured that some incensed Catholic Karen will be talking to “father” if she spots a remarried-divorcee standing in line to receive the Jesus wafer.

Relevant terms:

Papal infallibility: Some evangelicals mistakenly assume Catholics believe everything the pope teaches to be infallible. But according to the RCC, only when the pope speaks dogmatically on matters of faith and morals, ex cathedra, or “from the chair” of the Apostle Peter, is his teaching considered infallible. When have popes spoken ex cathedra? Catholic theologians can only agree on a handful of declarations, but no one, including pope Francis, considers Amoris Laetitia to be infallible.

Indefectability: The Roman Catholic church has boasted for 1500 years that it is “indefectacle,” i.e. that the church’s teaching magisterium (the pope in conjunction with the bishops) is incapable of leading the church into doctrinal error due to the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit. The five-year debate over Amoris Laetitia debunks that cherished claim.

In Their Own Words: Pope Francis

In Their Own Words: Pope Francis
Directed by Marianne Kushmaniuk
PBS, first broadcast July 20th, 2021, 53 minutes

1 Star

I saw this documentary mentioned in an internet article and streamed it a couple of days after its broadcast premier.

This particular PBS “In Their Own Words” series installment follows the life of Jorge Bergoglio from his childhood in Argentina to his election and current tenure as pope Francis. Bergoglio is presented as a progressive reformer leading multiple crusades on behalf of the poor, refugees, homosexuals, women, and the environment. Those interviewed include Anne Thompson (NBC News correspondent), Austen Ivereigh (Bergoglio biographer), and Mario J. Paredes (Director, American Bible Society). It’s a bit strange that Francis himself isn’t interviewed in a series titled “In Their Own Words.” Instead, quotes from Bergoglio are frequently plastered on the screen as if scriptural.

This is more of a propaganda piece than a documentary. I could not imagine a biographical documentary being more flattering than “In Their Own Words: Pope Francis.” It defines the term, “puff piece.” In summing up Francis’ papacy, reporter Anne Thompson gushingly proclaims, “He has brought the Catholic church to the basic message of Jesus.” The only Francis misstep that’s mentioned is the pope’s clumsy 2018 mishandling of clerical sexual abuse cover-up by bishop Juan Barros Madrid of Colombia. There is hardly any acknowledgement of the significant opposition to Francis and his reforms by conservative and traditionalist Catholic clerics and laity. Neither Francis or his conservative Catholic foes teach the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Francis has strategically and pragmatically “elevated” the papacy from that of conservator of Roman Catholic doctrine and tradition to crusader for every politically-progressive cause imaginable. In response, the world loves Bergoglio. If a catastrophe were to overtake the planet, people would turn en masse to the pope for solace and guidance. That’s significant, folks, and it didn’t just happen by chance.

If you must, you can catch this puff piece at PBS’s website until August 17 (see here). I recommend you use those 53 minutes for something more productive.

Pope Francis’ annoying gadfly

Finding Viganò: In Search of the Man Whose Testimony Shook the Church and the World
By Robert Moynihan
Tan Books, 2020, 375 pp.

2 Stars

Following his election to the papacy in 2013, Jorge Bergoglio aka pope Francis increasingly demonstrated that he was not going to follow in the conservative footsteps of his doctrinaire predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. When Francis tacitly lifted the ban on sacraments for remarried divorcees via a footnote in his 2016 apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, conservative prelates were galvanized. In November of 2017, four conservative cardinals formally submitted five “dubia” (questions) to the pope, requesting that he clarify his “reform” in light of traditional Catholic teaching, but were met with silence. As conservative opposition to the pope increased, a major scandal erupted in the Catholic church in June 2018 when it was revealed that cardinal Ted McCarrick, one of the most powerful prelates in the American Catholic church, was removed from “public ministry” for a long history of sexually abusing boys and seminarians. The scandal was the tipping point leading to large numbers of former victims across the United States coming forward and filing claims of sexual abuse and cover-up against priests and dioceses.

Two months later, in August of 2018, Catholicism was rocked even further when archbishop and former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States (2011 to 2016), Carlo Maria Viganò, testified that he had personally informed Francis of McCarrick’s predatory behavior back in 2013, shortly after he was elected, but that the pope had done nothing. Included in the archbishop’s statement were accusations of a powerful homosexual faction within the Vatican curia. Viganò called upon Francis to resign and forthwith went into hiding. In June and October 2020, Viganò issued additional statements supporting then-President Donald Trump and attacking the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Included were comments promulgating several outlandish worldwide conspiracy theories, which served to marginalize Viganò even among conservatives.

In this book, Catholic journalist, Robert Moynihan provides biographical information about Viganò and interviews the archbishop-in-hiding regarding his 2018 testimony and the state of the Roman church under progressive Francis. Conservative opposition to Francis has not coalesced mainly because one of the prime tenets of conservative Catholics is absolute fealty to the papal office. This book is an example. Conservative Moynihan, founder and editor of “Inside the Vatican” magazine, attempts to walk a tightrope by providing a sympathetic soapbox for Viganò without outright endorsing his views.

This book provides some interesting information on Francis’ most vocal critic and “insider” insights into the current conservative-progressive tug-of-war within the the RCC. The significant takeaway from this book is that conservative Catholic priests and prelates realize that Francis is undermining Catholicism’s historic claims to the alleged authority and prerogatives of the papacy. Nowhere in sight within the 375 pages is the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. I would recommend this book only for evangelical Vatican watchers.

Throwback Thursday: The “unchanging” Roman Catholic church changes once again

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on April 11, 2016 and has been revised.

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Catholics often boast that theirs is the UNCHANGING, “one true church,” but even a casual student of church history knows that is not the case. And now we have another example.

In the past, any Catholic who divorced and remarried without obtaining an annulment was said to be living in a state of mortal sin and was officially barred from receiving the eucharist Jesus wafer. But in his new “apostolic exhortation,” Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”), released last week, pope Francis tacitly suggests via an obscure footnote that it’s now up to the local parish priest to evaluate the circumstances of each remarried divorcee parishioner and decide if they are able to receive the sacraments (see article below). With so many Catholics divorcing these days, Francis was compelled to change the policy in an effort to keep the church viable.

But this ex-Catholic saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone has a couple of important questions regarding this new policy. First, what about all the divorced Catholics who remarried and died in a state of mortal sin prior to this change? Do they all now receive a “Get Out of Hell, Free” card or is the declaration not retroactive? Also, how could such an important doctrine affecting faith and morals that was upheld by all previous infallible popes now be so conveniently discarded? Catholics would rather not confront such questions.

I’m so grateful to the Lord for leading me out of Catholic legalism, ritualism, and man-made traditions. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone and then ask the Lord to direct you to an evangelical church in your area that teaches God’s Word without compromise.


Pope Francis to church: Be more accepting of divorced Catholics, gays, and lesbians
http://edition.cnn.com/2016/04/08/europe/vatican-pope-family/index.html?eref=rss_world


Note from April 2021: I couldn’t have possibly known when I wrote the above post in April 2016, that pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia encyclical would have MAJOR repercussions within the Roman Catholic church. Conservative Catholic prelates, priests, and laity did in fact note the doctrinal incongruity of Francis’ lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees and reacted with zealous indignation. Formal protests were submitted and ignored by the pope. Cautious conservative prelates and priests advised their followers to ignore Francis’ doctrinal novelty while a few went so far as to openly call Francis a heretic. Amoris Laetita was the start and Francis has continued to roil conservatives with his progressive reforms.

Communion for the divorced and remarried, papal critics and family life: Pope Francis’ ‘Amoris Laetitia’ at 5 years
https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2021/04/08/amoris-laetitia-pope-francis-five-years-divorced-remarried-catholics-240412

Catholic talk radio host, Mother Miriam, advises her listeners to “oppose” pope Francis

I don’t get a chance to listen to Catholic talk radio like I used to, but back on December 8th, I was driving down the road and I tuned into the local AM Catholic radio station. The program being broadcast at that moment was “Mother Miriam Live,” hosted by Catholic nun, Mother Miriam (aka Rosalind Moss, photo above). Miriam is a protégé of über-conservative cardinal, Raymond Burke, and a propagator of traditional, militant, pre-conciliar Catholicism and an outspoken critic of the Catholic progressivism being disseminated by pope Francis and other liberal prelates and priests. She often criticizes pope Francis on her show while dichotomously feigning fealty to the papal office.

Halfway though the December 8th program, Mother Miriam read an email from a discouraged listener regarding pope Francis’ recent Fratelli Tutti (All Brothers) encyclical. I’ve transcribed Mother Miriam’s remarks below with the listener’s written words italicized:


“We have an email from Frank who writes, Dearest Mother Miriam, I am very troubled by pope Francis’s latest encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti” (All Brothers). This encyclical seems more like a communist manifesto rather than a call to holiness. We’ve not talked about that on this program. I’m going to read Frank’s email because he describes why he has said that. I think it’s important that we do read it because so many people are confused if not distraught by it. Frank says, The Holy Father outlines his recipe for rebuilding a post-pandemic world beginning with a complete restructuring of politics and civil discourse in order to create systems prioritizing the community and the poor rather than individual or market interests. The pope criticizes heavily democratic forms of government that value individual and personal freedom and favors a socialist form of government where globalist elites look out for the common good. Communists always love the masses, but disdain the individual and want to control their lives. The pope seems blind to this reality. Now this is Frank writing. I don’t know, I wouldn’t personally say the pope is blind to this reality. Frank continues, This encyclical seems more concerned on the false promise of creating an impossible utopia on earth instead of a focus on the true promise of how to obtain eternal life for our souls in Heaven. Sadly, Frank continues, there are also, it seems, direct shots against President Trump. For example, where the pope laments, quote, the concept of popular and national unity influenced by various ideologies is creating new forms of selfishness and a loss of the social sense under the guise of defending national interests, endquote. Frank says, I pray for the Holy Father, but would appreciate your thoughts on how faithful Catholics may respond to this latest encyclical. God bless you always, Frank.

“I even hesitated reading Frank’s email because I agree with Frank and it’s very, very difficult. The way we’re going, the Holy Father together with, what Frank calls, some elites in the world, billionaires who are striving for a one-world government and really to control the masses. Much of what’s going on with COVID, COVID is real, but much of what’s going on is to, I remember Hillary Clinton and others saying, Let’s not waste a good crisis. And so they’ve used the COVID crisis to further their agenda for a one-world market and controlling the masses. So, I agree with you, Frank. What are we to do? How do faithful Catholics respond to this encyclical? I think by simply countering what is not Catholic and speaking of what is Catholic. God’s plan for us is not an earthly utopia, but a Heavenly one, eternal life, to repent, to be saved, to embrace Christ, and to be part of His church. The only way to get to Heaven is to be part of His church on earth. These sorts of encyclicals, and plans, and ideologies are leading us away from that and we cannot have it. We must cling to Christ, to the church, to the teachings of the church, which have not, will not, and cannot change, and to the Scriptures, and I would say our response to the pope’s encyclical is to triple our Catholicity, to begin to live your Catholic faith beyond anything you’ve lived before. To be strong and steadfast and be fully Catholic and oppose anything that is not Catholic, that will not get you to Heaven.”


Fascinating!

Catholic conservatives and traditionalists are caught in a tortuous (for them) Catch-22 bind. One of their most cherished tenets is absolute fealty to the pope, the alleged “Vicar of Christ” on Earth. Yet, progressive pope Francis is subverting their beloved church doctrines and propagating progressive political views. What does it say about the Roman Catholic church when conservative Catholic prelates, priests, nuns, and lay leaders are advising their followers to ignore and even oppose the pope? In practice, they have appointed themselves pope over the pope! Keep in mind that neither side in this Catholic tug-of-war, neither the progressives represented by pope Francis or the conservatives represented by Mother Miriam, teach the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Both sides disseminate the RCC’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.

Below is the video of the 12-08-20 program in question. Mother Miriam’s critical remarks about pope Francis’ Fratelli Tutti (All Brothers) encyclical begin at the 31:00 mark.

Conservative Catholic clerics begin to react to pope Francis’ approval of same-sex civil unions: “We have a bad pope.”

The conservative Catholic backlash to pope Francis’ call for civil unions for same-sex couples is just beginning to percolate. Watch this 7-minute video as a visibly emotional Catholic priest tells his congregation “we have a bad pope” (3:05 mark). The priest continues by saying he doesn’t know “what vanity, or dark spirits, or fallen inclinations” are guiding the pope.

A “bad pope”?

The foundation of Roman Catholicism is the pope, the alleged “Vicar of Christ.” What does it mean if the pope is a “bad pope” and is not to be followed? The foundation of Roman Catholicism crumbles.

There is another way, a better way. Jesus Christ declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6

Church membership doesn’t save. Trying to obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) doesn’t save. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone and ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church that teaches the uncompromised Gospel.

Catholic vs Christian | “I am a Catholic. Why should I consider becoming a Christian?”

BREAKING NEWS! Pope calls for civil unions for same-sex couples, in major departure from Vatican doctrine

I don’t normally publish two posts in one day, but this news cannot wait.

I was doing some routine work on the blog late this morning when I overheard on the television in the adjoining kitchen a special news announcement involving the “leader of the Catholic church.”

I scrambled into the kitchen to hear that Pope Francis is calling for civil unions for same-sex couples. This is ASTOUNDING, although not altogether surprising. The Vatican has been preparing for this moment for several years via the work of Jesuit priest, James Martin, its advance man for full acceptance of practicing LGBTers.

The ramifications and fallout from this “announcement” (underhandedly communicated via a docu-bio of Francis) are and will be ENORMOUS. This contradicts previous papal teaching on the illicitness/sinfulness of homosexual practices and same-sex unions/marriages that many/most serious Catholics held to be unchangeable and even infallible. Conservative and traditionalist Catholics will be enraged to a such a degree that many will now surely call for a formal split from pragmatically-progressive, world-pleasing, pope Francis.

I need to read some more reports on this development before I can comment at length. The bottom line is the Roman Catholic church does not teach the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Whether it’s Francis’s progressive camp, now publicly embracing same-sex unions, or the Catholic conservative camp, the genuine Gospel is not to be found in Roman Catholicism.

Pope calls for civil unions for same-sex couples, in major departure from Vatican doctrine
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/religion/pope-calls-civil-unions-same-sex-couples-major-departure-vatican-n1244137

Update: I made it a point to listen to conservative Catholic talk-radio host, Al Kresta, at 4:00 p.m. today to get his take on Francis’s bombshell. As would be expected, Kresta tied himself up into multiple knots trying to downplay/minimize/mitigate/white wash the news. Kresta lamely postulated that, in approving civil unions for same-sex couples, Francis wasn’t necessarily sanctioning homosexual behavior. Kresta stumbled and stammered, suggesting the pope would expect civilly-united, same-sex Catholic couples to live as brother-brother or sister-sister. Say what?!?!? Kresta is living in fantasy land. He can’t yet admit to himself and his audience that his pope is a heretic according to Catholicism’s own tenets. But I think with this particular “reform,” Francis has finally given conservative Catholics, like Kresta, something they cannot glibly explain away.

Throwback Thursday: Galileo and the “infallible” popes

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on January 18, 2016 and has been revised.

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In 1870, prompted by pope Pius IX, who was besieged by the advancing Italian nationalist forces, the First Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic church declared as binding dogma that the pope is infallible when he “defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church.” This doctrine of papal infallibility had many opponents within the Catholic church at the time and is problematic when attempting to reconcile an infallible papacy with its history. Popes have excommunicated previous popes. There were the bloody Crusades, the Inquisition, forced “conversions,” and the persecution of Jews and Protestants, all carried out with the approval and, oftentimes, at the instigation of the allegedly infallible popes. Modern popes have been kept busy apologizing for their predecessors. But perhaps one of the most clear-cut arguments against papal infallibility was the church’s condemnation of Galileo and his revolutionary theory of heliocentrism.

In the early 1600s, people believed the planets, sun, and stars revolved around the Earth based upon the ancient Ptolemaic geocentric model. A literal interpretation of the Bible (see Joshua 10:12-14) also seemed to support geocentrism. In 1616, Galileo’s theory of heliocentrism – that the Earth revolved around the Sun – was declared heretical by pope Paul V and the Inquisition because it seemingly contradicted Scripture. Galileo continued to challenge geocentrism, so in 1633, yet another pope, Urban VIII, and the Inquisition once again condemned him. The scientist was consequently placed under house arrest until his death in 1642.

Four-hundred years later, it’s universally accepted that the Earth revolves around the Sun. The two popes were dead wrong when they condemned Galileo. Today’s Catholic sophists try to exonerate the two “infallible” popes by claiming the condemnations of Galileo were not done “ex cathedra,” as official papal declarations, but the controversy certainly did involve an important issue involving faith. We can see from our vantage point that the church’s claimed ability to infallibly interpret Scripture was totally discredited by the two popes involved.

At least one contemporary Catholic apologist, Robert Sungenis, correctly and honestly recognizes that the question of papal infallibility is central to the Galileo affair. Sungenis concedes that if Galileo was right, then the popes proved themselves fallible by condemning him. So over the last several years, Sungenis has gone about trying to prove that geocentrism is true and that heliocentrism is false. You read that correctly! In 2007, Sungenis began writing a procession of books and materials defending geocentrism. See here. Someone needs to inform NASA, the U.S. military, satellite providers, etc., that all of their celestial mechanical calculations based on the heliocentric model are incorrect!

Most dismiss Sungenis as a screwball, but I give him credit for at least having the courage of his erroneous convictions and refusing to engage in dishonest sophistry when it comes to the Galileo affair, like other Catholic apologists do. Sungenis was once one of the most prominent American Catholic apologists, and at one time even hosted two series on the EWTN Catholic cable channel, but his defense of geocentrism and his controversial viewpoints on Jews and the nation of Israel have since relegated him to the fringe.

The early church quickly became institutionalized after Christianity was adopted as the state religion by the Roman Empire. Simple faith in Jesus Christ devolved into legalism and ritual. Those who put their faith in a man or an institution will be forever disappointed. Put your faith in Jesus Christ and accept Him as your Savior by faith alone.

The Two Popes: A ham-fisted plug for pope Francis

The Two Popes
Directed by Fernando Meirelles, screenplay by Anthony McCarten, and featuring Anthony Hopkins as pope Benedict XVI and Jonathan Pryce as pope Francis
Netflix, 2019, 125 minutes.

2 Stars

Back in February 2019, I reviewed an interesting book, “The Pope,” by Anthony McCarten, that contrasted the doctrinally conservative, pope Benedict XVI, with his successor, the progressive reformer, pope Francis. See me review here.

Netflix produced a film based on the book and released it for streaming this past December 20th. Just as in the book, the sharp contrast between the conservative Benedict and the progressive Francis is the theme of the film. Benedict is portrayed as hopelessly out of touch with the world with his rigid clericalism and doctrinalism. Francis, in contrast, is presented as a breath of fresh air who is willing, make that eager, to eschew clerical privilege and bend/circumvent doctrine in order to reach people with the progressive version of the Catholic works-righteousness “gospel.”

This film is a biased representation of the current battle within the Catholic church between conservatives and the Francis-led progressives, with Francis the clear favorite. Pro-Francis screenwriter, McCarten, “swings for the fences” at the end of the film with Benedict XVI/Hopkins admitting the error of his rigid ideology and fully embracing Francis’ reforms. The two characters seal the deal over Fanta and pizza, watching a soccer game, and dancing the tango together (VERY creepy in light of the current clerical abuse and homosexuality scandals in the RCC). What a “hammy” ending and it’s all pure fiction.

People love Francis for being so “down to earth,” but neither in conservative Catholicism’s rigid doctrinalism or in Francis’ doctrine-bending “pastoralism” can be found the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

While “The Two Popes” is garnering a lot of accolades at the various Hollywood awards shows, I would recommend this pro-Francis puff piece only to serious evangelical Vatican-watchers. Everyone else should use the two hours for something more productive.