Archbishop Lefebvre - On Papal Infallibility
Archbishop Lefebvre - On Papal Infallitbility
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  • Many Catholics are seriously ignorant about the nature and scope of the pope’s infallibility. Very many think that every word that comes from his mouth is infallible.” (Conference, Econe, August 2, 1976)
  • “We have too easily believed since Vatican I, that every word that comes from the mouth of the Pope is infallible. That was never said in Vatican I! The Council never said such a thing. Very specific conditions are required for the infallibility; very, very strict conditions. The best proof is that throughout the Council, Pope Paul VI himself said:

    "There is nothing in this Council which is under the sign of infallibility."

    So, it is clear, he says it himself! He said it explicitly. Then we must not keep this idea which is false which a number of Catholics, poorly instructed, poorly taught, believe! (Retreat at St. Michel en Brenne, April 1, 1989)
  • “But he, even if in certain respects he carries the infallibility within his being pope, nevertheless by his intentions and ideas he is opposed to it because he wants nothing more to do with infallibility. He does not believe in it and he makes no acts stamped with the stamp of infallibility. That is why they wanted Vatican II to be a pastoral council and not a dogmatic council, because they do not believe in infallibility. They do not want a definitive Truth. The Truth must live and must evolve. It may eventually change with time, with history, with knowledge, etc., ...whereas infallibility fixes a formula once and for all, it makes - stamps - a Truth as unchangeable. That is something they can't believe in, and that is why we are the supporters of infallibility and the Conciliar Church is not. The Conciliar Church is against infallibility - that's for sure and certain. Cardinal Ratzinger is against infallibility. The pope is against infallibility by his philosophical formation. Understand me rightly!’ (“One Year After the Consecrations,” Archbishop Lefebvre, 1989)
  • Question: But isn't the fact that Pope Paul VI occupies the seat of St. Peter enough for you to heed whatever the pontiff as the vicar of Christ on earth asks you to do, just as other Catholics do?
    Archbishop Lefebvre: “Unfortunately, this is an error. It is a misconception of papal infallibility because since the Council of Vatican I, when the dogma of infallibility was proclaimed, the pope was already infallible. This was not a sudden invention. Infallibility was then far better understood than it is now because it was well known then that the pope was not infallible on everything under the sun. He was only infallible in very specific matters of faith and morals. At that time, many enemies of the church did all they could to ridicule this dogma and propagate misconceptions. For example, the enemies of the church often said to the unknowing and naive that if the pope said a dog was a cat, it was the duty of Catholics blindly to accept this position without any question. Of course this was an absurd interpretation and the Catholics knew that. This time the same enemies of the church, now that it serves their purpose, are working very hard to have whatever the pope says accepted, without question, as infallible, almost as if his words were uttered by our Lord Jesus Christ himself. This impression, although widely promoted, is nevertheless utterly false. Infallibility is extremely limited, only bearing on very specific cases which Vatican I has very well defined and detailed. It is not possible to say that whenever the pope speaks he is infallible.” (Interview with Archbishop Lefebvre, 1978)

  • “For the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI did not use the principle of dogmatic infallibility. He was satisfied with declaring it pastoral. The conciliar popes are unable to use their doctrinal infallibility because the very foundation of infallibility is to believe that a truth must be fixed forever and can no longer change: it must remain as it is. John Paul II, even more than Paul VI, does not believe in the immutability of truth.” (Interview for Controverses, 1989)
  • "The principles governing obedience to the Pope's authority are the same as those governing relations between a delegated authority and its subjects. They do not apply to the Divine Authority which is always infallible and indefectible and hence incapable of failing. To the extent that God has communicated His infallibility to the Pope and to the extent that the Pope intends to use this infallibility, which involves four very precise conditions in its exercise, there can be no failure. Outside of these precisely fixed conditions, the authority of the Pope is fallible and so the criteria, which bind us to obedience, apply to his acts. Hence it is not inconceivable that there could be a duty of disobedience with regard to the Pope. The authority, which was granted him, was granted him for precise purposes and in the last resort for the glory of the Holy Trinity, for Our Lord Jesus Christ, and for the salvation of souls. Whatever would be carried out by the Pope in opposition to this purpose would have no legal value and no right to be obeyed, nay, rather, it would oblige us to disobey in order for us to remain obedient to God and faithful to the Church. (Statement, March 1988)

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