6 December 2018

Father Aidan Nichols on Hyperultrapapalism

In his 2017 lecture to which I referred a little while ago, Dr Nichols, according to the Catholic Herald, said that the First Vatican Council had restricted the doctrine of papal Infalibility, so that it is not the position of the Roman Catholic Church that a pope is incapable of leading people astray by false teaching as a public doctor. He went on:

"He may be the supreme appeal judge of Christendom ... but that does not make him immune to perpetrating doctrinal howlers. Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly given the piety which has surrounded the figures of popes since the pontificate of Pius IX, this fact appears to be unknown to many who ought to know better".

The Catholic Herald added that Fr Aidan went on to wonder whether "given the limits of papal infallibility, canon law might be able to accommodate a formal procedure for inquiring into whether a pope had taught error" and "a procedure for calling to order a pope who teaches error". Such a procedure might be less "conflictual", Fr Nichols added, if it took place during a future pontificate, rather as Pope Honorius was only condemned for error after he had ceased to occupy the chair of Peter.

Such a process would "dissuade popes from any tendency to doctrinal waywardness or simple negligence."

7 comments:

Konstantin said...

I wonder how such a process would work considering the principle "the First See is judged by no one".

Donna Bethell (formerly known as Rose Marie) said...

Such a process could be very helpful, but it would be more effective in dissuading a pope from doctinal howlers if it could occur during his pontificate. Somehow I don't think all popes care what their successors might do.

David Young said...

In my opinion, the problem is one of centralization. No bishop, at the extremities, feels capable/willing to deal with much of anything except paper-pushing procedure (e.g. sacramental records). It seems to me metropolitans should be responsible for the orthodoxy of their metropols. Referring everything to Rome creates a false expectation and false demand for the Petrine office to be everything for everyone at all times. We need more subsidiarity.

Tony V said...

I think it's rather disingenuous if we tell ourselves that Vatican I 'restricted' papal infallibility. I doubt that Pius IX rammed Pastor Aeternus through the council because he was worried someone might be overly generous in what they imputed to the pope, nor that the 60-odd bishops who left before the vote did so because they were disgusted that the document didn't provide a broader scope for the pope's purported powers.

It seems more likely that Pius, seeing his temporal power slipping away, moved quickly to expand his spiritual powers. What's even more concerning than infallibility, though, is the notion that the pope enjoys direction jurisdiction over each and every Catholic. I watched the recent USCCB meeting in Baltimore, and was somewhat taken aback to hear Bp DiNardo telling the press that the US bishops "report to" the pope. That was the term he used.

We're going through a bit of a funny time, ecclesiologically. Sooner or later we're going to have to view Vatican I the same way we view the Donation of Constantine--not a forgery, exactly, but a rather crude instrument to achieve a questionable end.

Pulex said...

Unless it becomes normal to have emerited Popes, it will not dissuade a doctrinally adventurous Pope, because at the time he will be judged by his successor, he already will be judged by God. If he does not fear the latter, he would not care for the former.

Jack Collinson said...

Vatican I and its definition of papal infallibility was the only bulwark capable of protecting the dogmas of the faith from Modernism, which threatened to relativise / historicise everything. If it weren't for that definition the devil would have had a much easier time killing off the faith than he has. We should never cease thanking God for the document Pastor Aeternus. Your doubting of Providence in this matter is foolish and shortsighted.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Tony V, where do get these notions from?? Did you down a magnum of wine before writing your idea that VI's dogmagic definition EXPANDED papal power??