FishEaters Traditional Catholic Forums

Full Version: Infallibility and the torture of heretics
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
Pages: 1 2 3
There's a question which has been looming in my mind for quite a while which tempts me to doubt the infallibility of Catholic teaching in the last thousand years. Maybe you can help me dispel this doubt.For a teaching to be infallible it must be about faith and/or morals. It must be declared either ex cathedra or be approved by Church authorities for a long time.

The following statement is about morals: "It is ok to torture heretics to elicit confessions from them".

Pope Innocent IV issued a Bull called "Ad extirpanda" in 1252 which allowed the Inquisition to torture heretics. This permission has never been revoked – as far as I know – and was openly defended by Church authorities and theologians for hundreds of years.

Now, the problem for me is: I do not believe that is was ever correct to torture a person for false beliefs. I do not believe that the first Catholics would have endorsed it.

Am I opposing an infallible teaching in thinking that way? The above statement seems to fulfil the standards of infallibility.

1. It is about a moral topic.
and
2. It has been approved unanimously by Popes and Doctors of the Church for hundreds of years.
This document addresses how ecclesiastical crimes that are also crimes against the state should be addressed by the state. It looks strange, because we don't have Catholic countries like this any more. In one of those countries, if someone were to begin publicly speaking against the doctrines of the Faith, they would not only be undermining the authority of the Church but of the state as well. I didn't gather from it that all heretics should be tortured simply because they don't believe the same things we do. It meant that formal, public heresy undermined the authority of both Church and state, and needed to be addressed accordingly.
So it is Church teaching that torture is morally adecuate in some circumstances? The end justifies the means?

If the Church would regain her worldly power and go back to her traditional teaching - as we all wish she did - she would endorse torture for dissenters who undermine Her authority?
(09-30-2017, 01:27 PM)JosefSilouan Wrote: [ -> ]So it is Church teaching that torture is morally adecuate in some circumstances? The end justifies the means?

If the Church would regain her worldly power and go back to her traditional teaching - as we all wish she did - she would endorse torture for dissenters who undermine Her authority?

A papal bull is simply a formal decree. These days in particular, since the pope has very little temporal power, popes typically don't need to issue one for temporal matters. In other times, however, popes addressed a lot of secular matters, because they governed a large territory in addition to holding their ecclesiastical office. Sometimes, Papal Bulls on secular matters still had a moral element, just as many of the United States' documents sometimes have a moral character. These papal bulls were not meant  to make a moral statement from the Church but to make a legal statement from the state, and are not infallible as they do not deal with Faith or, in a religious sense, morals.

To determine whether or not the teachings in these old documents are infallible, Catholic teachings, one would need to determine whether the intention was to govern the Church or to govern the state. That can be a difficult distinction to make, for both the person themselves and those who answer to them, which is likely why Can. 285 forbids clerics from holding civil office.
I wouldn't worry about it too much.  The Church and Catholic states have gone through periods where their representatives were hardly Catholic in practice, and they'll do so again and again until the end of time.  The bride of Christ is quite the harlot sometimes, and it seems to be human nature to fluctuate between periods of being more good than bad and vice versa.  This came from one of those more bad than good times.  It would not be just to judge the entire Church, from 33AD until today, based on how Catholics acted during that very small time period.
(09-30-2017, 03:20 PM)Melkite Wrote: [ -> ]I wouldn't worry about it too much.  The Church and Catholic states have gone through periods where their representatives were hardly Catholic in practice, and they'll do so again and again until the end of time.  The bride of Christ is quite the harlot sometimes, and it seems to be human nature to fluctuate between periods of being more good than bad and vice versa.  This came from one of those more bad than good times.  It would not be just to judge the entire Church, from 33AD until today, based on how Catholics acted during that very small time period.

I see what you are trying to say here man, but just as one who cares about your soul, I would ask you to reconsider stating that about the bride of Christ being a harlot sometimes and revise that a bit.

Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos (# 10), Jan. 6, 1928: “During the lapse of centuries, the mystical Spouse of Christ has never been contaminated, nor can she ever in the future be contaminated, as Cyprian bears witness: ‘The Bride of Christ cannot be made false to her Spouse: she is incorrupt and modest. She knows but one dwelling, she guards the sanctity of the nuptial chamber chastely and modestly.’”

In other words, the Bride of Christ can never become the whore of the Apocalypse. But the Harlot can pose as the true Church as a counterfeit.

We need to distinguish between the human element and the Divine.
(10-01-2017, 09:06 AM)BC Wrote: [ -> ]I see what you are trying to say here man, but just as one who cares about your soul, I would ask you to reconsider stating that about the bride of Christ being a harlot sometimes and revise that a bit.

Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos (# 10), Jan. 6, 1928: “During the lapse of centuries, the mystical Spouse of Christ has never been contaminated, nor can she ever in the future be contaminated, as Cyprian bears witness: ‘The Bride of Christ cannot be made false to her Spouse: she is incorrupt and modest. She knows but one dwelling, she guards the sanctity of the nuptial chamber chastely and modestly.’”

In other words, the Bride of Christ can never become the whore of the Apocalypse. But the Harlot can pose as the true Church as a counterfeit.

We need to distinguish between the human element and the Divine.


Well, I wasn't trying to compare the Church to the Harlot of Revelation.  But in the OT, God laments the unfaithfulness of Israel, which is contiguous with the Church today.  So if God is calling his own bride a harlot, it doesn't seem out of place to call the Church such when it is being unfaithful.  I didn't mean anything more than this.

I'm not sure what Piux XI meant by the Spouse of Christ never being contaminated, but if he meant the Church on earth until the end of time being incorrupt and modest, I think he was certainly wrong on that.
(09-30-2017, 04:32 AM)JosefSilouan Wrote: [ -> ]There's a question which has been looming in my mind for quite a while which tempts me to doubt the infallibility of Catholic teaching in the last thousand years. Maybe you can help me dispel this doubt.For a teaching to be infallible it must be about faith and/or morals. It must be declared either ex cathedra or be approved by Church authorities for a long time.

The following statement is about morals: "It is ok to torture heretics to elicit confessions from them".

Pope Innocent IV issued a Bull called "Ad extirpanda" in 1252 which allowed the Inquisition to torture heretics. This permission has never been revoked – as far as I know – and was openly defended by Church authorities and theologians for hundreds of years.

Now, the problem for me is: I do not believe that is was ever correct to torture a person for false beliefs. I do not believe that the first Catholics would have endorsed it.

Am I opposing an infallible teaching in thinking that way? The above statement seems to fulfil the standards of infallibility.

1. It is about a moral topic.
and
2. It has been approved unanimously by Popes and Doctors of the Church for hundreds of years.

It is my understanding that infallibility has only been invoked twice (2 times) in all the Church's history and both times it dealt with the Blessed Mother. One was the belief that her body was raised already and the other escapes me at the moment.....
DS -unfortunately we have no idea how many times infallibility has been invoked. There's an old joke. The German theologian thinks the Pope has never spoken infallibly and the Irish PP thinks he speaks infallibly every time he sneezes.
(09-30-2017, 04:32 AM)JosefSilouan Wrote: [ -> ]There's a question which has been looming in my mind for quite a while which tempts me to doubt the infallibility of Catholic teaching in the last thousand years. Maybe you can help me dispel this doubt.For a teaching to be infallible it must be about faith and/or morals. It must be declared either ex cathedra or be approved by Church authorities for a long time.

The following statement is about morals: "It is ok to torture heretics to elicit confessions from them".

Pope Innocent IV issued a Bull called "Ad extirpanda" in 1252 which allowed the Inquisition to torture heretics. This permission has never been revoked – as far as I know – and was openly defended by Church authorities and theologians for hundreds of years.

Now, the problem for me is: I do not believe that is was ever correct to torture a person for false beliefs. I do not believe that the first Catholics would have endorsed it.

Am I opposing an infallible teaching in thinking that way? The above statement seems to fulfil the standards of infallibility.

1. It is about a moral topic.
and
2. It has been approved unanimously by Popes and Doctors of the Church for hundreds of years.

That is not a document that would fall under the category of infallibility.
Pages: 1 2 3