by Anura Guruge
Nov. 23, 2010 UPDATE: PLEASE read the comments, below. This too appears to be due to translation and misinterpretation problems … this time by the BBC. What it APPEARS is that the pope was not speaking about himself. He was talking about popes in general and their ability to make infallible statements. That is REALLY COOL. Far from being wrong, it is actually quite enlightened! Bravo, pope! Basically, this pope, to his eternal credit, is putting papal infallibility in its proper place. I THANK Marko B. in particular, but all the rest, including Fr. Peter and Darien, for helping me clear this up. As you can see from the post, my issue was one of confusion as to what the pope was saying. This is the SECOND major errors in translation I have stumbled upon this year. The other being the error about the precedence of cardinal bishops, where all the English translations state episcopal consecration [i.e., when first made a bishop] when what it really says, in Latin, when made a ‘CARDINAL bishop’. I also discovered an error between the UK English and US English translations of the 1983 Canon Law. Thank you. I feel so much better. That infallibility thing bothered me because I dearly hoped that this pope, of all people, got it. AND he does. That is GREAT. Thank YOU.
The media has been transfixed by the pope’s unexpected statement on a possible exception to the use of condoms.
But, they have all but ignored another MUCH MORE SIGNIFICANT statement, supposedly made by the pope as a part of that whole interview.
That statement apparently was: “Among other interesting topics that Pope Benedict touches on in the extracts of his long interview with Peter Seewald, are papal infallibility – he says he cannot continue to produce ‘infallible statements’; his attitude towards resignation -“ [Please refer to BBC article, of Nov. 21, 2010, containing this statement.]
That to the cognoscenti is much more significant that the about-face on condoms.
Why? It might indicate that the pope, at a minimum, was somewhat ‘distracted’ when doing this interview and ALL his comments during this interview might have to be taken with a ‘pinch of salt’!
Why? Contrary to what so many believe, a pope’s statements are ONLY infallible in some very tightly constrained, specific scenarios. For a start, the statements HAVE TO be about dogmatic teachings on faith or morals — and the pope MUST clearly spell out that he is making an infallible statement that is binding to the Church.
As far as I recall, and I, as ever, may be wrong, this pope has yet to make an infallible statement per those criteria for it to be deemed infallible. That is the problem. By most reckoning the last instance of papal infallibility was in 1950 when Pius XII (#261), via his Munificentissimus Deus, defined the Assumption of Mary. Prior to that, the other ‘big’ one was Pius IX’s (#256) Ineffabilis Deus, defining the Immaculate Conception. I again checked the Vatican Web site for this pope’s pronouncements. I cannot see ANY that meet the hurdles for infallibility!
So what is the pope talking about?
That he cannot continue to produce infallible statements. That is very strange.
That is akin to me saying that I cannot continue to produce sub-9 second, 100 meter sprints when I go running — as if, I was ever able to even do one of those.
This issue is disturbing to me. Why did the person doing the interview, supposedly a friend of the pope’s, not clarify it. Printing it, as it is, does not do the pope any favors.
Moreover, why did the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano print that excerpt from the interview. I hope that there is at least one person at L’Osservatore Romano that understands the parameters of papal infallibility.
Very strange. They are now trying to do damage control on the condom part of the story.
As a marketer, with 30 years of solid experience, I would shelf the condoms, and focus on putting right that infallibility statement. Because, that statement, more than anything else, indicates how the pope is ‘thinking’!