A Consideration of the Dogma of Papal Infallibility in Catholic Church

Document Type : Research Paper


1 PhD, Comparative Religious Studies, Christian Theology, University of Religions and Denominations

2 Associate professor, Department of Abrahamic Religions, University of Religions and Denominations


In the Christian World, the dogma of infallibility has more or less been applied to the Bible, the Church, the First Council, and the Pope. The most controversial, disputed, and confused among these is Papal Infallibility. In this paper, we first discuss the notion and subject of infallibility, and then consider how it became authoritative throughout the history. Although references are made to this dogma in papal letters in fifth and sixth centuries in documents of the Church, the dogma was formulated in theological terms in the Middle Ages, that is, late 13th century, when Christian theologians began to delineate and demarcate the domain of the doctrine. Some theologians made a distinction between true and untrue Pope, taking the Pope to be infallible only if he is a true Pope. Others acknowledge Papal Infallibility, although they allow his betrayal or errors even when he is in his official position. They have supported this by an appeal to historical evidence. Other theologians have made a distinction between the Pope’s personal life and his position in the Church, taking the infallibility in the latter as an inhibitive grace by God. The historical development indicates that the doctrine was not treated as a definite tradition of the Catholic Church before the 19th century when it was approved in the First Vatican Council. Even after its approval, there have been opponents within the Catholic Church who challenged the authoritativeness of the doctrine.



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