Radioclip en texto sin audio grabado.

“the pope is not infallible; he makes mistakes like anybody,” declares jesus christ

Pius XII (1939-1958) in all his pomp.
A century before he ascended to the throne
the Popes had declared themselves infallible.


RACHEL Emisoras Latinas returns now to Capernaum. Here, on the foundation of what was once the house of Simon Peter, the fisherman, has been built a monumental church in the form of a boat. Inside we can still make out the old doorway through which you must have passed many times, Jesus.

JESUS Yes, we used to meet here with Peter and his family. Peter was one of my best friends. He was stubborn and as boastful as could be, but he was a great man.

RACHEL And above all, infallible.

JESUS Infalli-what?

RACHEL Infallible. He could never be wrong.

JESUS What do you mean, he couldn’t be wrong?

RACHEL Well, Peter, as the first pope of the church, could never have been wrong, because they say that the popes are infallible.

JESUS But what are you saying, Rachel? Every person born of woman makes mistakes sometimes.

RACHEL I stand corrected. Infallibility works only when the popes speak “ex cathedra”, from their chair, seated on their throne, and about questions of faith and morals. You didn’t know that?

JESUS No. I have no idea what you’re talking about.

RACHEL Well, I have the documents right here. Listen. Pius IX. Pius IX again. First Vatican Council. They all agree the popes of Rome, as successors of Peter and as representatives of Jesus Christ on earth, cannot be wrong.

JESUS But I myself was wrong many times! I thought the world was going to end soon. I thought that I wouldn’t die before seeing the coming of God’s Kingdom. And let’s not even talk about Peter. He was wrong more than he was right!

RACHEL But infallibility is a revealed dogma, or am I wrong?

JESUS Revealed by whom?

RACHEL I don’t think I could tell you that.

JESUS And the Pope himself is not mistaken when he says he’s never wrong?

RACHEL No, because he’s infallible when he says he is infallible.

JESUS Well, that’s a joke I haven’t heard before.

RACHEL Are you laughing at the dogma?

JESUS I’m laughing at reeds shaken by the wind, because they think they’re cedars of Lebanon. How can any human being, who comes from dust and returns to dust, say he’s never wrong?

RACHEL Well, that’s what the bishops and cardinals decided – on July 18th, 1870, to be precise.

JESUS And what if somebody thinks that those who claimed they weren’t wrong were actually wrong?

RACHEL That somebody would be outside the church. And according to the church, outside the church there is no salvation.

JESUS Oh, is that the way it is?

RACHEL Hold on, we have a call… Yes, hello?

RESEARCHER Emisoras Latinas? I’m listening to your program with great interest, and I’m delighted to know that Jesus Christ thinks the way I do and can laugh about these things. Would you like to know where those illusions of grandeur originated?

RACHEL Of course we would. All instructive information is welcome.

RESEARCHER Let’s see what you think of this document I’m going to read. It’s quite direct. Listen closely “No one on earth can judge the pope. The Roman church has never been mistaken and will never be mistaken until the end of the ages. Only the Pope has authority to depose bishops, emperors and kings. All princes should kiss his feet. A pope is holy through the merits of Peter.”

JESUS That’s an even better joke! Ask him who uttered such craziness.

RACHEL Jesus Christ wants to know who said what you just read.

RESEARCHER It’s the famous “Dictatus Papae”; it comes from the eleventh century. So you see, Jesus Christ, long before the dogma was officially declared, the popes believed themselves to be infallible. That craziness, as Jesus describes it so well, was written by Pope Gregory VII.

JESUS My friend Peter was a braggart, but the insolence of that Gregory fellow wins a prize!

RACHEL So if I understand you well, Jesus, you don’t believe in the infallibility of the Pope.

JESUS Neither of the Pope or of anybody. Only God is True.

RACHEL Well, then … the only infallible thing I’m left with is my watch, and it tells me it’s time to bring our program to a close. This is Rachel Perez from Capernaum. And on the internet at www.emisoraslatinas.net.


ANNOUNCER Another God is Possible. Exclusive interviews with Jesus Christ in his second coming to Earth. A production of María and José Ignacio López Vigil, with the support of the Syd Forum and Christian Aid.

*More information about this polemical topic…*

From devil’s work to dogma of faith
The infallibility of the Pope was already being preached in the middle of the 13th century by a famous French Franciscan, Peter Olivi. Almost a century later, his concept was declared heretical by Pope John XXII, who described it as “the devil’s work”. Nevertheless, six centuries later another Pope and some bishops made it into nothing less than a dogma of faith.
The text of the dogma reads thus: In order to maintain the Church in the purity of the faith handed on by the apostles, Christ, who is the Truth, desired to confer on his Church a participation in his own infallibility. By means of the “supernatural sense of faith”, the People of God “are indefectibly united to the faith” under the guidance of the living Magisterium of the Church. The pastoral office of the Magisterium is thus oriented to assuring that the People of God remain in the truth that sets them free. To fulfill this service Christ has bestowed on the shepherds the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and customs. … The Roman Pontiff, head of the episcopal college, enjoys such infallibility by virtue of his ministry when, as Pastor and supreme Teacher of all the faithful who confirms his brothers in the faith, he proclaims a doctrine of faith or morals by a definitive act. … This infallibility covers the whole deposit of divine Revelation.

The roots of infallibility
Pope Gregory VII, author of the “Dictatus Papae” mentioned by the researcher who called Emisoras Latinas, governed the Church from 1073 to 1085. By that time Rome was the major political power in Europe.
The “Dictatus Papae” proclaims openly, for the first time in the history of the Roman church, not only the papacy’s absolute power, but also the identification of power with truth and the definition of power as truth. Gregory VII declared the Pope to be the Sole Pontiff of the church and of all believers, clergy, bishops, churches, and councils. The Pope was the Supreme Lord of the World, to whom kings had to submit since they were “human beings and sinners”. Gregory claimed for the Roman church, which he ran, unlimited competency in legislation, administration and justice.
One hundred years later Pope Innocent III, a man of power and out for power, ratified his predecessor’s arrogance by declaring: Every cleric must obey the Pope, even if he is commanded to do evil, since no one can judge the Pope. Some analysts of church history believe that, of all the men who have reached that high post, Pope Innocent III was one of the most criminal. He was involved in the slaughter of the Albigensians, the beginning of the Crusades and the establishment of the Inquisition.
From the time of Gregory VII and Innocent III, the papacy’s power never stopped growing in arrogance, ambition, or monopolization of power. In 1651 Thomas Hobbes stated in his famous work Leviathan: The papacy is nothing but the specter of the disappeared Roman empire, on whose tomb it displays its crown.

Opposed to all modern advances
With the proclamation of the dogma of infallibility, the late 19th century saw the culminating point of the long process of papal exaltation. By then the papacy had lost control of the so-called Papal States, and Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) convoked the First Vatican Council in 1870 to try to regain his prestige and power.
Previously, in 1864, Pius IX had issued the “Syllabus of Errors”, which condemned practically all the scientific, philosophical and theological advances by which modern thought had moved beyond the medieval vision of the world, a vision that for centuries was fiercely defended by the popes. Among the “errors” condemned were pantheism, rationalism, laicism, democracy and liberalism.

How the dogma of infallibility came about
The most polemical document of the many promulgated by the First Vatican Council was the Dogmatic Constitution “Pastor Aeternus”, which defined papal infallibility; it was approved on July 18th, 1871.
In that Council, of the 1,050 bishops with the right to participate some 774 were present. There was much resistance to the proclamation of the dogma of infallibility among many of the bishops, especially the Germans and the French; especially strong in their opposition were Felix Dupanloup, bishop of Orleans, and Karl Joseph Hefele, bishop of Rottemburg. It has been shown that the bishops were not allowed to engage in debate, that they were prohibited under pain of mortal sin from speaking publicly about what was happening in the meeting hall, that the elections were manipulated, and that those who did not agree with the dogma were threatened. It is related, for example, that 55 bishops left Rome in protest before the vote was even taken and that the French bishop Lecourtier felt so depressed by what he had seen that he threw his council documents into the Tiber River and left the city – he was subsequently stripped of his bishopric.
A rejected dogma
One of the notable voices most critical of infallibility was that of German historian and theologian Ignaz Von Dollinger, professor of ecclesiastical history and laws in Munich. Renowned for his erudition, eloquence and literary talent, Dollinger had published a year before the Council his monumental work, The Pope and the Council, in which he argued that the Papal States were not essential to the Church.
Critical of the papacy and its temporal power, he refused to accept the dogma of papal infallibility when it was proclaimed. In 1871 he published a letter addressed to the archbishop of Munich, saying that as “a Christian, a theologian, a historical researcher and a citizen,” he refused to accept the dogma Three weeks later he was excommunicated by the archbishop.
As part of the strong reaction against the dogma of infallibility, a schism developed in Europe, which resulted in a dissident group called the Old Catholics. The first communities of this breakaway group arose in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and the movement eventually extended to other countries of Europe and America. Today these Old Catholics recognize the Pope as the bishop of Rome, but they do not accept his infallibility. The Old Catholic communities ordain married men as priests, they make priestly celibacy optional, they allow divorce, they forbid abortion, and they leave decisions about family planning to the consciences of the couples involved.
From the time of the Reformation, begun by Martin Luther in German in the 16th century, Protestants have not recognized the authority of the Pope or that of the councils of bishops; much less do they recognize the Pope’s infallibility. For Protestantism the supreme authority lies with the scriptures. The Orthodox Christian churches do not recognize the Pope’s primacy of authority or his infallibility, although they do concede to the Pope a primacy of honor for being the bishop of Rome.