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Papal Infallibility

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of the idea that Popes cannot err when defining a doctrine, in office, proclaimed at the First Vatican Council 1869-70

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss why, in 1870, the Vatican Council issued the decree ‘pastor aeternus’ which, among other areas, affirmed papal infallibility. It meant effectively that the Pope could not err in his teachings, an assertion with its roots in the early Church when the bishop of Rome advanced to being the first among equals, then overall head of the Christian Church in the West. The idea that the Pope could not err had been a double-edged sword from the Middle Ages, though; while it apparently conveyed great power, it also meant a Pope was constrained by whatever a predecessor had said. If a later Pope were to contradict an earlier Pope, then one of them must be wrong, and how could that be…if both were infallible?

With

Tom O’Loughlin
Professor of Historical Theology at the University of Nottingham

Rebecca Rist
Professor in Medieval History at the University of Reading

And

Miles Pattenden
Departmental Lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of Oxford

Producer: Simon Tillotson and Julia Johnson

Available now

52 minutes

Last on

Last Thursday 21:30

LINKS AND FURTHER READING

Tom O'Loughlin at the University of Nottingham

Rebecca Rist at the University of Reading

Miles Pattenden at the University of Oxford

Papal infallibility - Wikipedia

 

READING LIST:

Eamon Duffy, Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes (Yale University Press, 2006)

Eamon Duffy, Ten Popes Who Shook the World (Yale University Press, 2011)

Joseph Fessler, The True and False Infallibility of the Popes (First published 1871; CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2011)

Thomas Albert Howard, The Pope and the Professsor: Pius IX, Ignaz von Döllinger, and the Quandary of the Modern Age (Oxford University Press, 2017)

Hans Küng, Infallible?: An Unresolved Enquiry (Continuum, 1994)

Colin Morris, The Papal Monarchy: The Western Church from 1050 to 1250 (Clarendon Press, 1989)

Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine (University of Chicago Press, 1971-89)

Kenneth Pennington, Popes and Bishops: The Papal Monarchy in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1984)

Edward Peters, Limits of Thought and Power in Medieval Europe (Routledge, 2001)

Donald S. Prudlo, Certain Sainthood: Canonization and the Origins of Papal Infallibility in the Medieval Church (Cornell University Press, 2016)

I.S. Robinson, The Papacy 1073-1198: Continuity and Innovation (Cambridge University Press, 1990)

Edward Siecienski, The Papacy and the Orthodox: Sources and History of a Debate (Oxford University Press, 2017)

Brian Tierney, Origins of Papal Infallibility 1150-1350: A Study on the Concepts of Infallibility, Sovereignty and Tradition in the Middle Ages (Brill, 1972)

Brian Tierney, Church Law and Constitutional Thought in the Middle Ages (Variorum, 1979)

Brian Tierney, Rights, Law and Infallibility in Medieval Thought (Routledge, 1997)

Stefania Tutino, Empire of Souls: Robert Bellarmine and the Christian Commonwealth (Oxford University Press, 2010)

Walter Ullmann, The Growth of Papal Government in the Middle Ages: A Study in the Ideological Relation of Clerical to Lay Power (Methuen, 1970)

Walter Ullmann, Law and Politics in the Middle Ages: An Introduction to the Sources of Medieval Political Ideas (Cornell University Press, 1973)

Walter Ullmann, Papacy and Political Ideas in the Middle Ages (Variorum, 1975)

Walter Ullmann, A Short History of the Papacy in the Middle Ages (Routledge, 2002)

 

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