The word “infallible” does not mean that the pope is perfect. It also does not mean that the pope knows everything. Instead, infallibility only applies when the pope speaks about solemn, official teachings on faith and morals, and he can’t ever change, add, or subtract Christian doctrine.
He only helps define or explain what we already believe, and he doesn’t do it on his own. The infallible teachings of the Pope are the result of many years – sometimes hundreds of years – of consultation with the other bishops and theologians of the Church. He is, in effect, voicing the belief of the whole Church.
About twelve years ago a teen named Billy asked me this question, “Why do you Catholics believe that Mary ascended into heaven, when it’s not even in the Bible?” “Well, first…” I replied, “Mary did not ascend into heaven; the Blessed Virgin Mary was assumed into heaven. Jesus ascended by His own power. Mary was taken up into heaven by God.” That little difference is a big difference, so I wanted to be sure he understood it.
Billy then replied, “Okay, fine…but it’s still not in the Bible. The Church made it up.”
This is where the conversation got really interesting.
A few months ago, I first heard the news that the world would come to an end on May 21st, 2011. It really bummed me out because I had big plans this year for Memorial Day. But since then, I’ve heard it more and more and I bet you have too. It seems this idea started a while back, when a small Christian group from Oakland, CA stated that May 21st, 2011 would be the end of the world. The prediction was based on their founder, Harold Camping, and his creative Biblical mathematics in which he Read more [...]