Professor Warren H. Carroll comments on issues of papal fidelity in the Catholic Church

… Popes are not infallible when making excommunications, or any disciplinary judgment, for they are limited by the information they have on the individual or situation in question. They are only infallible in making doctrinal pronouncements ex cathedra.

It is vitally important always to remember that the Pope has two kinds of authority, magisterial (when he is speaking ex cathedra, that is, in a way intended to be binding on the faithful), in which he is infallible; and administrative, as head of the Church appointed by Christ to govern it (which would include excommunications).

The Pope is not infallible when exercising his governing authority, but still must be obeyed when he does so, as long as his orders apply clearly to the Church rather than to temporal affairs … for the Pope’s authority over the Church is God-given and there is no appeal from it on earth.

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On the indefectibility and infallibility of the Catholic Church

In order to preserve the Church in the purity of the faith handed on by the apostles, Christ who is the Truth willed to confer on her a share in his own infallibility…It is this Magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error.

Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates.

To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church’s shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms:

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.

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. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 889-891)

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The Pope and Infallibility: What’s the deal?

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Q: The Pope and infallibility: What’s the deal?

A: All the genuine prophets of old were also endowed with the power of infallibility when they spoke the “word of the Lord” to the people of Israel.

Caiaphas, the hopelessly corrupt high priest who sent Jesus to his death, was able to speak infallibly, according to the power of his office, occupying the “Chair of Moses” (John 11:49).

When speaking on matters of faith and morals, as the chief pastor of the Church, and when he declares himself to be doing so, the Pope is also capable of speaking infallibly, occupying the “Chair of Peter”.

While this matter was officially confirmed by the whole church only a couple of hundred years ago, it was understood and accepted by the church since the earliest days, mainly because when God himself says that he will bind in Heaven whatever you (the pope) choose to bind on earth (Matthew 16:19) that is just about as infallible as any non-divine human can get.

Near as we can tell, over some 2,000 years, the pope has spoken infallibly in that way, only TWICE.

Nothing new, novel, or abusive there, at all.