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I started this thread on papal infallibility on CAF
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?p=11597467&posted=1#post11597467

What is interesting is that one of the latest posters stated that one of the misconceptions of Vatican I is that it meant to increase the view on papal authority. The poster stated that this is highly inaccurate, rather it meant to relatively decrease papal infallibility.

Quote:The immediate purpose of the Decree on "papal" infallibility was to combat the errors of the NEO-ultramontantists (Absolutist Petrine advocates). The Gallican errors were sufficiently addressed by prior Councils, so that was definitely not V1's focus. In fact, Gallicanism was not even a concern to the V1 Fathers until the final few days of the Council. The majority of the discussion on the papal prerogatives was focused on correcting the errors of the NEO-ultramontanists, whose extreme views about the papacy were causing secular governments to threaten the Council.

This needs to be understood properly because too many Catholics have the false impression that V1 intended to increase the authority of the Pope. Far from it, it actually meant to (relatively) DEcrease it as a response to the excesses of the NEO-ultramontantists.

sorry wrong section. I taught I posted this on the Catholic News, Discussion, History, & Culture section Blush
This is a very good point, because by clarifying the actual powers of the pope helps to ensure that he is a servant of tradition and not a tyrant.
One side negative result of V1 however was that it served to give the impression that now the pope can do whatever he wants  - which was exactly the opposite of what was intended.

This is why the modern popes can change and create new liturgies, break with tradition and praise other religions, kiss the Koran etc etc.

Popular cultre translated papal infallibility as Popes can do whatever they want.
I remember reading a Ratzinger quote a while back where he said that in defining the authority of the Pope, Vatican I put an end to both Gallicanism and Ultramontanism, whereas it is popularly framed as an ultramontanist triumph. As you note, however, it really was not.

The intention of the Council was to properly define the Pope's office and authority than to focus on any one side (ie it wasn't called to specifically combat ultramontanism--if anything, the Pope favored that view).  Getting the answer right was crucial because the Church's relationship with various secular governments hinged on it (at the time, the relationship between state authority, bishops, and the Pope were all intertwined).

The ultramontanists were a bit moderated after Pastor Aeternus, but they were still pretty successful at framing it in their favor, as history shows.  The main reason for this was Pastor Aeternus was left in a vacuum, without the context of the planned document on the Church and the episcopacy (due to the invasion of Rome, this was never promulgated).  Some big names at the Council had petitioned that the document on the Church be done first, so that the the papacy could be better placed in context, but this did not happen.  The fact that to this day there are still some who look at Vatican II's treatment of the college of bishops with suspicion or even condemn it shows how successful the ultramontanists were after Vatican I (Vatican II essentially just promulgated what was in the Vatican I schema on this topic).