The Unity of the Papal Gifts

Every Pope accepted by the body of Bishops as Roman Pontiff is valid, perpetually and irrevocably, until his death or valid resignation. Every Roman Pontiff is the successor of blessed Peter, and so he holds a world-wide primacy as the Prince of the Apostles, the true Vicar of Christ, the Head of the whole Church, and as the Father and Teacher of all Christian people. To each Roman Pontiff is given the same full authority as blessed Peter, directly from the Lord Jesus Christ to each one. And each Roman Pontiff has the authority from Christ to tend, rule, and govern the universal Church. From his authority, it is never lawful to appeal to any other authority on earth, even to an Ecumenical Council, as if this were an authority superior to the Roman pontiff.

The Roman Pontiff is not a mere politician, elected by the people are answerable to them. He is not acting merely from his human gifts and frailties. And the Church he leads is no mere political or social body.

Jesus Christ sent out the Holy Spirit; as the Spirit proceeds from both Father and Son, so He was sent from Father and Son upon the Church. The gifts of the Holy Spirit to the Church are manifold. But in addition, the Spirit gives the Pope certain charisms to assist Him in his role as Vicar of Christ.

The gift of Papal Infallibility is not an isolated gift, which appears suddenly when the Pope teaches ex cathedra, and then disappears just as suddenly. Rather, it is one of an interrelated set of papal charisms. Among these charisms are the following:

* Papal Infallibility
* the participation of the Roman Pontiff in Conciliar Infallibility
* the participation of the Roman Pontiff in the ordinary and universal Magisterium
* the ability of the Pope, a Council, or the body of Bishops dispersed in the world led by the Pope, to decide matters of dogmatic fact
* immunity from grave error in all non-infallible teachings and non-infallible decisions of discipline
* a never-failing faith, given to the Roman Pontiff as a person, not merely to his office, which, by the prevenient grace of God keeps the Pope from ever failing or faltering in faith, in any substantial way, such as by apostasy, heresy, or schism, or by idolatry, sacrilege, or blasphemy.

And all these gifts are interrelated. Papal Infallibility is the gift of immunity of error in its fullest form, while the immunity from grave error, which applies to non-infallible teachings and decisions of prudential judgment (discipline), is essentially the same gift in a different form. And the gift of infallibility exercised by a Pope, a Council, or the body of Bishops in the world led by the Pope is essentially the same gift. Then the never-failing faith given to the Pope is also given to the body of Bishops (as a body only, not individually), per the last part of Lk 22:32. So all these gifts are either the same gift, in different forms, or we could just as well say they are distinct but closely related different gifts. In any case, all these gifts are of the same Spirit, sent upon the Church by the same Lord Jesus Christ.

And no one can accuse any Pope of any error or offense contrary to the above gifts, without accusing Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit of the very same error or offense. The accusations against Pope Francis:
* apostasy
* heresy
* idolatry
* sacrilege
* that the Church has been infiltrated by Satan
and whatever else they accuse him of in the future, contrary to the above gifts, is an accusation against Jesus and the Spirit of God.

When I say that Pope Francis has the gifts of immunity from grave error and a never-failing faith, the objection is often that the Pope is only infallible when teaching ex cathedra. But this objection fails to acknowledge and accept that the First Vatican Council taught that the Roman Pontiff has multiple charisms from God, not only Papal Infallibility.

Pope Francis must be the valid true Roman Pontiff, as he was accepted by the body of Bishops as such. And he cannot lose his validity, since he has a never-failing faith and immunity from grave error. Therefore, the papal accusers are making false accusations, of a very grave type, against both the Vicar of Christ, and Christ himself.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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