Infallible (letter)

Infallible (letter)

George Simpson

Fr John Crowthers (April AD2000) claims that Ordinatio Sacerdotalis has never been proclaimed as an infallible statement by the Holy Father. I strongly challenge this claim.

The documents of Session IV of Vatican I devote the whole of Chapter Four to Papal infallibility. Before the well-known definition of ex cathedra statements, the document mentions other definitions by popes who, by taking advantage of useful means afforded by Divine Providence, "defined as doctrines to be held those things which, by God's help, they knew to be in keeping with Sacred Scripture and the Apostolic Traditions. For the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by His revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by His assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles."

The Holy Father's defining statement in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is most explicit: "Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (Luke 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful."

Surely, these words indicate that the shepherd and teacher of all Christians is using his supreme apostolic authority to define a doctrine of faith to be held by the whole Church.

My reading of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, therefore, convinces me that the document fulfils both the ancient and ex cathedra criteria of an infallible declaration.

Of course, Cardinal Ratzinger's responsum did not of itself prove the infallibility of the teaching. The Holy Father's approval of the responsum did, however, confirm that he intended to and in fact did define as an article of faith that the Church has no power to confer priestly ordination on women.

GEORGE SIMPSON
North Blackburn, Vic

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