LETTER IN DEFENSE OF PAPAL INFALLIBILITY

Following is a letter from James Likoudis, president emeritus of Catholics United for the Faith, writing to the editor of "THE CHRISTIAN NEWS", a Lutheran periodical. Published in issue of October 16, 2000 - Page 17

 

Dear Editor:
The Christian News
3277 Boeuf Lutheran Road
New Haven, MO 63068

April 12, 2000

I wish to commend Rev. G. D. V. Wiebe, Director of Regina Coeli Seminary Institute for his recent defense of devotion to the Immaculate Mother of God and especially with respect to the message contained in Her 1917 apparitions at Fatima, Portugal. As he points out, "the life, rule and intercession of Holy Mary, the Mother of God, are clearly set out in both the New Testament and the writings of the Church Fathers... and clarified by Ecumenical Councils." Moreover, it can be noted, Martin Luther in his early writings revealed great affection for the Blessed Virgin, expressing belief in Her Immaculate Conception, Perpetual Virginity, and usage of the title "Mother of God." In his Christmas Sermon given in 1529, Luther observed, "Mary is the mother of Jesus and the mother of us all... There where He is, we ought also to be; and all that He has ought to be ours, and His Mother is also our mother." The apparitions and message of our Lady at Fatima simply confirm such truths.

Rev. Wiebe writes that the "Latin rite of the Roman Catholic Church does not require anyone as a matter of dogma (or faith) to believe in any of the Marian apparitions." But this is true as well of all the Eastern Churches in communion with Rome. He also seems to believe in the Branch theory of the Church which was so thoroughly discredited by such scholars as John Henry Newman and his fellows in the 19th Century Oxford Movement. To their great discomfort they soon grasped that Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox, and Catholics could not constitute "branches" of the One Church described in the New Testament or adhered to by the ancient Fathers. They were too divided in faith and doctrine, and certainly St. Paul denied that the one visible Church he declared to be Christ's Body could be so divided. "Has Christ been divided up?" (I Cor. 1:13)

As to his comment that "Pope Pius X made himself infallible – which really is incredible," the fact is that it was hardly incredible to the faithful at the time of the First Vatican Council (1870), or is incredible now. With the greatest theologians of his time, Pius IX believed in the infallibility of the visible head of the Church in his solemn doctrinal judgments. The infallibility of the Successor of Peter in faith and morals had been common teaching in the theological schools for centuries as having its foundation in the famous Petrine texts of Scripture (Matt. 16:18-19; Luke 22:31; Jn. 21:15-17) and but needed a formal Conciliar dogmatic definition to place it beyond all doubt. It should also be noted that both Pius IX and Vatican I gave a remarkable impetus to that fervent devotion to the Blessed Virgin which Rev. Wiebe correctly notes must characterize the Church's ongoing vibrancy and spiritual vitality.

Luther himself in happier days gave witness to the immemorial Tradition of the Church regarding the place of the Pope in the Church when he wrote:

"If Christ had not entrusted all power to one man, the Church would not have been perfect because there would have been no order and each one would have been able to say he was led by the Holy Spirit. This is what the heretics did, each one setting up his own principle. In this way as many Churches arose as there were heads. Christ therefore wills, in order that all may be assembled in one unity, that His power be exercised by one man to whom He Himself commits it. He has, however, made this power so strong that He looses all the powers of Hell (without injury) against it. He says: "The Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it" as though He said: "They will fight against it but never overcome it," so it is in this way it is made manifest that this power is in reality from God and not from man. Wherefore, whoever breaks away from this unity and order of the power, let him not boast of great enlightenment and wonderful works, as our Picards and other heretics do, 'for much better is obedience than to be the victims of fools who know not what evil they do.' (cf.. Eccles.iv, 17)."
(Sermo in Vincula S. Petri, "Werke" Weimar ed., I 69)

Readers seeking a work evidencing Papal supremacy and infallibility during the First Millennium Church history may find useful my recent work "The Divine Primacy of the Bishop of Rome and Modern Eastern Orthodoxy: Reply to a former Catholic" that is available for $12.95 postpaid from:

Sincerely yours in Christ,
—  James Likoudis
President Emeritus
Catholics United for the Faith (CUF)


About James Likoudis
James Likoudis is an expert in Catholic apologetics. He is the author of several books dealing with Catholic-Eastern Orthodox relations, including his most recent "The Divine Primacy of the Bishop of Rome and Modern Eastern Orthodoxy: Letters to a Greek Orthodox on the Unity of the Church." He has written many articles published by various religious papers and magazines.
He can be reached at:  jlikoudis@cuf.org, or visit  Mr. James Likoudis' Homepage