Can non-infallible decisions of the Church Err?

Can non-infallible decisions of the Church on doctrine or discipline (prudential judgment) be wrong? Yes, but not to a grave extent. So if the decision is either a grave error, or it is right, it must be right.

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4 Responses to Can non-infallible decisions of the Church Err?

  1. Christopher Decker says:

    Please define “grave error” and/or give some examples that illustrate the distinction between “grave error” and “not grave error”.

    • Ron Conte says:

      A grave error would include anything contrary to the indefectibility of the Church, anything that would lead the faithful into mortal sin, away from the path of salvation or away from Christ. Lesser errors would include something like, e.g. at a time prior to the dogmatic definition: whether the faithful have the beatific vision of God immediately upon entry into heaven. Such an error does not harm the faithful’s path of salvation, again prior to its dogmatic definition (by Benedict XII).

  2. Christopher Decker says:

    Thank you for responding, as I’ve been reading your blog and wondering about this question for some time. So, if I understand you correctly, it does not harm one’s path to salvation if one believes and teaches an error on a matter of revealed truth, prior to the time that the church promulgates a dogmatic definition condemning the error as contrary to revealed truth. Is that your position?

    • Ron Conte says:

      It may or may not do harm, depending on the falsehood or truth. Once it is a dogma, denying that dogma might do harm. The early Church fathers condemned as heresy a number of different claims that had not yet been condemned by the Magisterium, but which were clearly contrary to the teaching of Jesus in the Gospels.

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