Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Wikipedia.


(ĭnfăl'əbĭl`ətē), in Christian thought, exemption from the possibility of error, bestowed on the church as a teaching authority, as a gift of the Holy Spirit. It has been believed since the earliest times to be guaranteed in such scriptural passages as John 14.16,17. The analogous attribute of the Bible is usually called inerrancy. Protestants widely reject infallibility of the church. The Orthodox Eastern Church holds that only the church, taken as an integral community and spiritual body guided by the Holy Spirit, is infallible. Roman Catholics hold that the infallibility of the church is vested in the pope, when he speaks ex cathedra (i.e., from the chair of Peter, as the visible head of the church) on matters of faith and morals. Definitive pronouncements resulting from an ecumenical council, when ratified by the pope, are also held to be infallible. The pope speaks ex cathedra only rarely and after long deliberation. The dogma of papal infallibility was enunciated by the First Vatican Council (1870).


See B. Tierney, Origins of Papal Infallibility, 1150–1350 (1972).

References in periodicals archive ?
But he was right in writing that the debate on papal infallibility was already in the church before the convocation of Vatican I.
This is not the first time that Kung has sought to encourage open and frank discussion of the doctrine of papal infallibility.
After Phillips, Chapman discusses Anglicans, chiefly from the Oxford Movement, maneuvering to influence the participants of the First Vatican Council against the definition of infallibility.
The book brings out two aspects of this interplay especially well: (1) how Acton grounded freedom in Christian truth and (2) how Acton as a committed Catholic opposed papal infallibility.
For whereas in propounding other Anglican tenets, she so adjusted her definitions of doctrine as to leave the choice of possible and opposite interpretations to the discretion of her members; when speaking of this, the fundamental axiom of her whole theological system, she rose for the moment to the authority of a Teacher, and consented to put on the robe of infallibility, in order to promulgate with greater force the dogma of her own liability to error.
This makes it clear that it is the gift of infallibility that enables the pope and the bishops in union with him to proclaim doctrine definitively for the belief of the faithful.
It could be revelatory to those readers who feel uncomfortable with the notion of papal infallibility.
This claim is often dismissed as absurd on the ground that a censor might attempt to silence an opinion he believes to be true but pernicious, or because rational assurance short of infallibility is obviously sufficient to justify censorship.
A blog post about a New York Times article on papal infallibility led readers to critique the paper of record's flawed reporting.
The spoof job advertisement found on the business social networking site, lists infallibility, celibacy and strong problem solving skills as part of the job's requirements.
Judging by the antics at Swindon Town, where every mistake was someone else's fault, he's certainly got a sense of infallibility.
VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI will lose his infallibility - his supreme authority in Church matters - as soon he steps down on February 28, the Vatican said on Wednesday as it struggles to explain a virtually unprecedented situation.