Catholic rejects Papal Infallibility - 11/29/2004

Dear Mr Shroeder, Mr and Mrs Rast,

I was looking at your site for a Religious Education project on Roman Catholics and was quite upset by what I read. I am a Roman Catholic myself, however I am currently going to a Protestant Church.

1. One of you mentioned that "you have never spoke/read with a Catholic who doesn't believe that the RCC is not the 'one true Church'."

I would just like to tell you that I do not believe that the RCC is the one true Church, and never have. I have a great respect for ALL Christian denominations and feel that we should all be working together for one united Church. All my family feels like this to, as I discussed it with them.

I also spoke about this with the local Roman Catholic priest. He agreed with me, and felt that the statement was antagonistic towards other denominations. He also has great respect for ALL Christians.

2. I also read that you disagree with the "Infallability of the Pope" issue.

I also disagree with this issue. As popes are born into normal HUMAN families, choose to become priests, then bishops, then are elected Pope, I think that as humans they are going to get things wrong, it's human nature. I see the pope as a leader, not God's man on earth. Roman Catholics are not the only denomination that has a leader though - the Church of England (C of E), which is Protestant, has the Queen, and others have leaders too.

3. I am worried that you have classified Roman Catholicism as a "cult". I am a devout Christian and am worried about this. I am definitely no cult member and resent the implication! I think minor differences in worship have blinded your judgment - remember I go to a protestant church at the moment and there is barely any difference in worship.

So, after reading my email, do you still think I PERSONALLY am going to hell for being a Roman Catholic Christian?

I'd love some feedback from you, so if I do get some, thank you for taking the time to read this.

God bless,


Hi Michael. Thanks for writing. Hopefully we can shed some light on these issues. I, for one, am happy that you do not believe the Roman Catholic Church to be the one true church, and do not believe in papal infallibility. However, these ARE doctrines of the Catholic Church. Regarding the one true church, the following appears in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

"816 'The sole Church of Christ [is that] which our Savior, after his Resurrection, entrusted to Peter's pastoral care, commissioning him and the other apostles to extend and rule it. . . . This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in (subsistit in) the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him.'

The Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism explains: "For it is through Christ's Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in order to establish on earth the one Body of Christ into which all those should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the People of God."

As you can see, this one section identifies the Catholic Church as "the sole Church of Christ." Note that the subparagraph is very specific that the "fullness of the means of salvation" can only be obtained through the Catholic Church. There are other sections of the catechism that teach this as well. I encourage you to share this portion of the Catechism with your priest and ask yourselves if you truly believe this Catholic doctrine. If not, on what other matters of doctrine do you feel the Catholic Church errs? Even without the explicit statement above, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that justification comes only through adherence to the seven sacraments. Most Christian churches (though not all) observe only two -- communion and baptism. And we recognize the biblical teaching that justification and salvation are not imparted by participation in these sacraments. Salvation comes by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. Romans 10:9-10 says, "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."

You are probably in good company among Catholics who reject the infallibility of the pope. However, once again, you are rejecting official Catholic doctrine in doing so. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

"2035 The supreme degree of participation in the authority of Christ is ensured by the charism of infallibility. This infallibility extends as far as does the deposit of divine Revelation; it also extends to all those elements of doctrine, including morals, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, explained, or observed."

Prior to 1870, the Catholic Church did not hold papal infallibility as a true doctrine. This changed at Vatican I when Pius IX declared that popes are infallible when speaking ex-cathedra. After this official declaration by Pius IX at Vatican I, papal infallibility was suddenly part of Catholic doctrine. In the 1871 edition of Stephen Keenan's popular Catechism, appeared the following Q & A:

Q. Is the pope infallible?
A. Yes, the pope is infallible.
Q. But some Catholics, before the Vatican Council, denied the infallibility of the pope, which was impugned by this very Catechism.
A. Yes, they did so under the usual reservation, insofar as they then could grasp the mind of the church, and subject to her (the church's) future definitions, thus implicitly accepting the dogma.

Jesus never intended for Christian leadership to exercise such dominion over the laity. In fact, in Matthew 20:25-27, Jesus said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave".

Now, as far as the use of the term "cult", we've explained on our site which definition we choose to use. From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, we get the following definition, "a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents." By this definition, if a religion is regarded as false, it is a cult. Because the Roman Catholic Church teaches doctrines that are not only not found in the Bible, but are also contradicted in the Bible, we view the RCC as a false religion, and therefore a cult. We bear no malice toward Catholics. If we did, we would simply disregard the fact that they are accepting unbiblical doctrines which could jeopardize their chance of salvation. On the contrary, we love all people, and want them to come to Christ through the truth of His gospel. It is not "okay" in our mind that many people aren't at that point. We wish to point out what the Bible says, and also point out what other religions say that is contrary to God's Word. We do so to fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus Christ and also the admonition of Jude to "contend for the faith." I encourage you to consider the unbiblical teachings of Roman Catholicism and ask yourself if you believe the Word of God, or a man-made Church that has corrupted the plain and simple truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In Christ,

Ben Rast
Contender Ministries