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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 7/7/13

What's Wrong with Pope Francis's Encyclical Letter?

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Major premise: All men are fallible.

Minor premise: The Roman Catholic bishops are men.

Conclusion: Therefore, the Roman Catholic bishops are fallible.


Taken together, these two conclusions mean that the pope and the bishops in communion with him are fallible and cannot provide certainty in matters of faith and morals.


I know, I know, in the nineteenth century Roman Catholic bishops in a council declared that the pope could make infallible decisions regarding matters of faith and morals -- but I   think this doctrine of possible papal infallibility should be expunged.


In any event, the above-quoted statement is far more sweeping in scope than the nineteenth-century doctrine about supposed papal infallibility.


As the doctrine of supposed papal infallibility has customarily been understood, the pope must explicitly declare when he is claiming to speak infallibly.


Thus far, only one pope has explicitly declared that he was supposedly speaking infallibly about a certain matter of the Roman Catholic faith -- in the 1950 declaration about the supposed Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven.


But the above-quoted statement leaves out the nuance about explicitly declaring infallibility regarding a certain matter of Roman Catholic faith or morals. Instead, the above-quoted statement makes a sweeping statement about the church's magisterium (teaching) supposedly providing certainty.


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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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