Is the pope always right?


It’s come to my attention that some folks (even Catholics) have a somewhat cloudy understanding of papal infallibility. I just wanted to say a few words on this.

antipopeThe Pope may be the religious head of the Catholic Church, but he is just a man. There have been good popes and bad popes throughout history. It’s true that many Catholics are somewhat leery of criticizing the Pope. This is probably partly out of deference to the holy office, and partly out of loyalty to the man himself. That said, there are no rules against being critical of the Pope or disagreeing with his opinions.


I’ve heard non-Catholics point out that it’s silly (or dumb) to blindly follow the will of one man, and that is true. What these critics don’t realize is it is exceedingly rare for the pope to dictate Catholic dogma. To do so, the Pope must issue an official teaching “ex cathedra.” Throughout the history of the Catholic Church, this has happened only a few times. While there is no official list of infallible papal statements, I believe there are less than 10, and they do not deal with controversial issues. The two most prominent deal with the conception of Mary without sin and her Assumption into Heaven.

In fact, most Catholic dogma is established by the Church Magisterium through both Scripture and Christian Tradition. So if you disagree with Pope Francis’ views on gun ownership, climate change, or economic models, chances are you’re ok with the Church. You’re not necessarily opposing fundamental tenets of Catholic faith. On the other hand, if you think divorce and ¬†gay marriage are great freedoms, abortion is a woman’s choice, and the death penalty is a just punishment, then you’re going against Church teachings.

Long story short – no, the Pope isn’t always right.





2 thoughts on “Is the pope always right?

    1. Yes, he is meh sauce.

      Over the past few years I’ve encountered a surprising number of people who misunderstood papal infallibility. Some were even Catholic. So I felt like this kind of post should be more common..


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