Pope John Paul II

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Pope John Paul II - A Brief Biography
Pope John Paul II was born in 1920 in Wadowice, Poland, a small city just outside Cracow. His birth name was Karol Józef Wojtyla. During the Nazi occupation, he studied for the priesthood in a clandestine seminary of Cracow run by the archbishop. After World War II, he continued his seminary studies until his priestly ordination in 1946. In 1958, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Cracow by Pope Pius XII. In 1964, he was appointed Archbishop of Cracow by Pope Paul VI, who made him a cardinal in 1967. He was elected to the papacy in October 1978 and died April 2, 2005.

Pope John Paul II - Infallibility
Pope John Paul II, like many Popes before him, was generally considered by Catholics to be the sovereign "Vicar of Christ," Christ's representative here on the earth. This privilege is thought to include a degree of infallibility. That is, whenever the Pope speaks (in his official capacity) on matters of faith and morals, we can be sure his teachings are free from error. Vatican Council I (1869-1870) officially ratified Papal infallibility in 1870, but it's said to apply to all previous Popes. Vatican Council II (1962-1965) reaffirmed Papal infallibility with the statement, "We believe in the infallibility enjoyed by the Successor of Peter when he speaks ex cathedra as shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, an infallibility which the whole Episcopate also enjoys when it exercises with him the supreme magisterium." (Vatican Council II, vol. 2, p. 392) The "Successor of Peter" refers to the Pope, and "ex cathedra," Latin for "from the seat," refers to him speaking in his official capacity.

Papal infallibility is a matter of dispute among Christians and there are many websites both for and against it. Some sites are more objective than others. In the interest of closure, we have written this site as an objective source for the sincere seeker. The following is an illustrative quote from Eric Tuttobene and Greg Loren Durand's treatise Ex Cathedra: An Historical and Scriptural Analysis of Papal Infallibility [1] which cites specific historical events, all of which have a direct bearing on this controversy. We hope the consideration of these events will resolve the issue all together.

"Victor I (189-199) first approved of Montanism in 192, and then later condemned it. Honorius (625-638) taught the heresy of Montanism, which denied that Christ simultaneously possessed two separate natures-human and divine. He was later condemned as a heretic by the Third Council of Constantinople in 680. Marcellinus (296-304) entered the Temple of Vesta and offered incense to the pagan goddess. Liberius (352-366) consented to the condemnation of Athanasius, the 'great defender of the Deity of Christ,' and made a profession of Arianism that he might be recalled from exile and reinstated in his seat. …Gregory I (590) declared that anyone who believed it was not necessary to take both the bread and wine at Mass was to be excommunicated; Innocent III (1215) stated that anyone who believed it was necessary was to be excommunicated. Paschal II (1099-1118) and Eugene III (1145-1153) authorized dueling; Julius II (1503-1513) and Pius VII (1800-1823) forbade it. Hadrian II (867-872) declared civil marriages to be valid; Pius VII condemned them. Sixtus V (1585-1590) published an edition of the Bible and recommended it to be read; Pius VII condemned the reading of it, claiming the edition to be full of errors. Clement XIV (1769-1774) abolished the order of the Jesuits; Paul III (1534-1549) permitted it and Pius VII re-established it. The list of such errors is quite lengthy, but the foregoing examples sufficiently prove our point."

The point we wish to convey through the above quote is that over the centuries a number of Popes have contradicted other Popes on matters of faith and morals. These contradictions ought to resolve the question of Papal infallibility once and for all: how can an infallible statement contradict an equally infallible statement?

Pope John Paul II - Against the Inquisition
Pope John Paul II himself didn't entirely agree with all of his predecessors. He declared the Inquisition, which was established by a Papal Bull under Sixtus IV (1471-1484), the "greatest error in Church history." [2]

Pope John Paul II was no doubt a wonderful, visionary man. Before him, there were saintly Popes and wicked Popes alike. There have not however been any infallible Popes. "Addressing the 85th General Congregation of the Vatican Council in 1870, in which Pius IV declared the papacy to be infallible, Bishop Joseph George Strossmayer of Germany[3], together with twenty-one archbishops and sixty-four bishops, announced, 'Venerable brethren... history raises its voice to assure us that some popes have erred.' When the above evidence is taken into consideration, Strossmayer's words seem to have been somewhat of an understatement. He continued by saying, 'Oh, venerable brethren, to maintain such an enormity would be to betray Christ worse than Judas. Let us turn to the teachings of the Apostles, since without them we have only error, darkness, and false tradition.'[4] As would be expected, Pius IX ordered Strossmayer to withdraw his 'heretical' statements under the threat of excommunication of both and his supporters. Unfortunately, Strossmayer complied." [5]

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Footnotes:

  1. www.crownrights.com/infallibility
  2. Eric Tuttobene and Greg Loren Durand, Ex Cathedra: An Historical and Scriptural Analysis of Papal Infallibility.
  3. Strossmayer was actually from Croatia but that he was born to a family of German immigrants and was therefore of German descent.
  4. The Catholic Encyclopedia, v. XIV, p. 316.
  5. Eric Tuttobene and Greg Loren Durand, dEx Cathedra: An Historical and Scriptural Analysis of Papal Infallibility.


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