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Old 8th September 2010, 12:11 AM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Originally Posted by Pontifex View Post

When a Council defines and or teachs infallibly, is it teaching a dogma or a new dogma, as would be the case and as opposed say to a doctrine. I have difficulty with both these concepts of dogma vs. doctrine. Or is the definition of a dogma only reserved for the Pope under papal infallibility only ?

A material dogma is any infallible teaching found explicitly or implicitly in Tradition or Scripture.

A formal dogma is any infallible teaching of the Magisterium, whether taught by a solemn definition of a Pope, a solemn definition of a Council, or under the Universal Magisterium (without a defining act). All the formal dogmas taught by the Magisterium are also, and always have been, material dogmas. So a new definition of a dogma is not entirely new, it was always a material dogma in Tradition and Scripture.

Some theologians today have tried to narrowed the term dogma to refer only to solemn definitions of Popes or Councils.

But I agree with sources such as Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, which use the term formal dogma for any infallible teaching, even under the Universal Magisterium. This is more useful since it is not always clear which type of infallibility a teaching falls under, and also since all infallible teachings of the Magisterium have the same level of authority. A solemn definition by a Pope is not more authoritative, nor is it more certainly true, than a teaching under the Universal Magisterium.

A doctrine is any teaching of the Magisterium, infallible or non-infallible. So a dogma is a type of doctrine.
Ron Conte
Roman Catholic theologian
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Old 7th May 2016, 10:23 AM
Damien Damien is offline
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 41
Default infallibility - Pope Liberius

I have always believed in the papal infallibility. I came across an article about "Amoris laetitia". It is an extract of a commentary by Mgr Athanasius Schneiderthe. He speaks of the arian crisis that took place in the 4th century:

At that time, the apostolic and traditional faith in the true divinity of the Son of God was secured by means of the term ‘consubstantial’ (‘homoousios’), dogmatically proclaimed by the universal Magisterium of the Council of Nicaea I (this a quote from As Bishop Schneider)
The profound crisis of faith, with a quasi-universal confusion, was caused principally by refusing, avoiding the use and profession of the word “consubstantial” (homoousios). Instead of using this expression, there was spread about among the clergy and above all the episcopate the use of an alternative formulae which in fine were ambiguous and imprecise, as for example, “similar in substance” (homoiousios) or simply “similar” (homoios). The formula, “homoousios” of the universal Magisterium of that time expressed the full and true Divinity of the Word in such a clear manner as to not leave space for equivocal interpretations.
In the years, 357-360 (A.D.), nearly the entire episcopate had become Arian or semi-Arian on account of the following events: in 357 Pope Liberius signed one of the ambiguous formulae of (the Council of) Sirmium, in which the term “homoousious” had been eliminated. Moreover, the Pope excommunicated in a scandalous way St. Athanasius. St. Hilary of Poiters was the only Bishop to undertake grave remonstrations with Pope Liberius for such ambiguous acts. In 359, the parallel Synods of the western episcopacy at Rimini (Italy) and that of the eastern at Seuleukia, accepted expressions which were completely Arian, worse than the ambiguous formula signed by Pope Liberius. Describing the situation of confusion in that epoch, St. Jerome expressed himself thus: « The world groaned and found itself, with shock, to have become Arian » (« Ingemuit totus orbis, et arianum se esse miratus est »: Adversus Luciferianum, 19)

When I read what the Pope Liberius did, it seems to contradict the infallibility dogma? Can you help me see how it does not?

(article can be found here

Last edited by Damien : 7th May 2016 at 10:25 AM.
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Old 7th May 2016, 10:48 AM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Excommunicating someone, who should not be excommunicated, is not contrary to infallibility. The Pope is not personally infallible. Some of his teachings are infallible, and then only when those teachings meet certain conditions. The non-infallible teachings of a Pope can err to a limited extent.

The Synods in question were not ecumenical, and so were not infallible. It is analogous to a Bishops Conference today issuing a document with some doctrinal errors.

Signing a document which merely lacks a term is not a heresy.

We should have faith in the teaching of Jesus that the Church is indefectible.
Ron Conte
Roman Catholic theologian
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