Infallibility

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Infallibility is the idea that something cannot be wrong. In a Christian context, it refers to a belief that the Church or the Pope cannot be wrong when speaking under certain conditions. The conditions have been redefined occasionally - when it was proved that they were, in fact, wrong. However, when the wrongness may be in doubt - on moral issues, for example - it is usually said that the interpretation that was wrong, but the proclamation was true. Obviously, such an argument can given indefinitely.

"Humanae Vitae [published 1968 and rejects contraception] was issued last week as far as the RCC is concerned and to roll it back, even though it wasn't declared infallible, would admit that the teaching of the magisterium is changeable. It will take a good 100 years of not talking about contraception at all before the RCC can quietly revise its view, and there is no way that it can get through that time without being asked about it. [1]"

Gödel's incompleteness theorems

Gödel's incompleteness theorems show that such infallibility cannot ever be established within any logical system. If a committee votes the pope to be infallible, they could be wrong in that declaration, as they are not infallible. Likewise, if they were, the reason they became infallible could be a fallible one. Kurt Gödel showed that systems cannot prove their own foundations unless those systems are contradictory (if contradictory you can prove anything).

References

  1. Arethosemyfeet, Comment on Pope Francis a liberal free thinker? Don’t kid yourself, The Guardian
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