Papal Infallibility is a doctrine of the Catholic Church that makes the Pope -head of the Bishops- responsible for his edicts in matters of faith and morals. By its virtue the Pope is considered to be incapable to deceive or mislead in such matters. The Catholic Church understands it as a charism enjoyed by the Pope in virtue of his office as supreme shepherd of the faithful assisted by the Holy Spirit. It is recognized as an implicit doctrine in the early Catholic Church. In its most recent Catholic Church's conciliar review, the Vatican II, the infallibility doctrine is defined and delimited as it pertains not only to the Pope, but to the bishops and councils of the Catholic Church. This doctrine has been frequently put into question or misinterpreted in form and content by outsiders of the Catholic Church.
One of the most accurate definitions for the general public according to the catholic faith can be found on the web at http://www.catholic.com/library/Papal_Infallibility.asp. Copy of which is included in the following as of May 27, 2007
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Excerpt from "The Catholic Catechism" by John A.Hardon, S.J. :
It is a dogma divinely revealed: that the Roman Pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is , when acting in the office of shephard and teacher of all Christians, he defines, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, doctrine concerning faith and morals to be held by the universal Church, possesses through the divine assistance promised him in the person of
St. Peter, the infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals; and that such definitions are therefore irreformable of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church.
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