The Sense of the Faith
Papal infallibility, as declared at the First Vatican Council (and the Second reaffirmed, Lumen Gentium 25), invites a host of practical questions. John Henry Newman, while accepting the teaching, envisioned difficulties in application. Are all papal utterances “infallible”? (Clearly not.) What magisterial authority do various papal documents carry? What level of obedience do we owe the pronouncements and documents of a given pope? How are the limits of authority defined, and grasped by the faithful?
I can’t provide definitive answers to all these questions here. (Even LG 25 merely provides a sketch.) Instead, I offer some reflections that may bring a deeper understanding –