The Pope Almost Never Speaks Infallibly

…and that’s okay. Nobody else speaks infallibly ever, and yet, incredibly, we can still learn from them anyway. Same with the Pope.

Unless we are MAGA cultists, in which case we are unlikely to ever learn anything from anybody short of a miracle of grace.

Case in point:

In selfishly doing battle against the common good, one extremely common reply of the MAGA anti-vax cultist to the Holy Father’s teaching that vaccination is a moral obligation is this (directly quoted from one such MAGA Social Injustice Warrior battling for maximum selfishness against the vaccine):

The Pope gave his personal opinion on the matter. He was not teaching ex cathedra. He can have his own opinion and he can also be wrong when stating his opinion. There is no moral obligation to get vaccinated.

MAGA Catholic moral minimalist absolutely love the whole “The pope wasn’t speaking infallibly” thing as an out for never acting in obedience to God or common sense if it gets in the way of their narcissistic sociopathy.

But here’s the thing: The pope does not need to speak ex cathedra to note the fact that the sky is blue and that getting vaxed is both safe and a fulfillment of the law of love of neighbor. The ex cathedra thing is a minimalist legalist game played by the pope’s right wing enemies all the time. Call it “Simon Peter Says”.

According to the rules of this game, absolutely nothing the pope says needs to be heeded unless it is a dogmatic definition. So if he says, “Don’t play in traffic” or “Be kind to animals” or “Don’t be a jerk and cut in line at the grocery store” or “Vaccination is an obvious good and a moral obligation”, the Cult declares that they can do whatever the hell they want to defy him because none of those statements was a dogma and was therefore just his worthless, stupid human opinion.

You know, like the worthless, stupid, non-dogmatic human opinion of your math teacher that 2+2=4, or the worthless, stupid, non-dogmatic human opinion of your garage mechanic that you need new spark plugs, or the worthless, stupid, non-dogmatic human opinion of your doctor that you have diabetes and need to treat it or the worthless, stupid, non-dogmatic human opinion of your plumber that the pool of hot water on your floor comes from a broken water heater. Show me where the Church dogmatically declares any of these things to be true! So we can safely ignore these so-called experts in favor of whatever our peers or some guy on Youtube says.

It’s childish, selfish, spiteful, and dumb–like the cult. It is predicated around the cult’s selfish conviction that the point of the Christian life is to give as little love as possible to your neighbor, cling to selfishness, and work toward a technical, legal appeal at the Pearly Gates that one meets Minimum Daily Adult Requirements for getting in.

This entire “only dogma matters” mentality approaches one’s neighbor the way a gold-digging bride on her wedding day does when she takes the priest aside and asks concerning the groom, “How often do I have to kiss him for the marriage to be technically, legally valid?” Love has nothing to do with it.

It is tone deaf to the gospel and entirely selfish.


10 Responses

  1. There is a little bit of truth in the vaccine debate.

    If one asks the unqualified general question “Can vaccines be mandated?” it’s hard to give an unqualified yes. The general question, unqualified, is dangerous. That’s into Dostoevsky territory… executing a single human and harvesting organs for a vaccine that saves the world? So the answer to the general question would need to cover all scenarios, and there has to be room for freedom of conscience to not partake in the fruits of evil.

    The current question is not that. It is, simply put, a very specific question – are people morally obligated to take the COVID vaccine?
    And the answer is yes.

    It is the devils work, to conflate a very specific question – are people morally obligated to take the COVID vaccine? – with the general question – are people morally obligated to take every kind of vaccine? – and act as if they pose the same moral and philosophical issues.

    There are very specific American prelates doing the devil’s work now, and proudly proclaiming it. Cordileone, Burke, Strickland …and many more. They are not fools. They understand very well the distinction between the general and specific questions here. They are intentionally obfuscating the distinction.

    The people who have to teach, are obfuscating and casting doubts. Not for nothing is the devil called the Father of Lies.

    1. @ Burgo

      And yet, cordileone, Burke, Strickland, Altman, Brennan, and a host of others are all men of god. And they will tell you so themselves.

      As is virtually every single sociopath who appears at Lest this be confusing, with only a few exceptions, every single honoree these is a sociopath AND a self proclaimed man or woman of god.

      It short, I wouldn’t be blaming Satan for this one.

  2. What they say about the pope doesn’t matter much anymore. In the past when they were irksome, people used to still take what they had to say into consideration. The legalists don’t have that many people left to practice their legalism on. For me personally, their opinions (which I used to weigh carefully) are now my go-to for understanding what the opposite of goodness looks like.

    They are the anti-WWJD movement.

  3. I’ve heard a little bit of that sentiment from those in my circle, minimizing how much they need to listen to the Pope, “he’s just a error prone human like the rest of us”. I like your take on it, Mark.

    I heard Catholic answers on the radio last night, on my way home. Trent Horn was the guest, and calls were to be abortion related. I heard two callers in the ten minutes I listened, both were upset about the vaccines. Both had heard the church’s support and permission for vaccines, but both were very upset about the remote cooperation with evil. Trent had a fairly good response, talking about other instances of remote cooperation with evil: using smartphones produced with child slave labor, and driving on roads in the south built by slaves. He also brought up the MMR vaccine. However, he didn’t address the common good aspect of vaccination, because I don’t think they ever mention it.

    I once thought that church going Catholics fully understood church doctrine. I now see woefully inadequate faith formation with respect to Catholic social teaching, and little emphasis on corporal works of mercy, myself included. Thanks Mark for helping open my eyes, little by little.

    1. >However, he didn’t address the common good aspect of vaccination, because I don’t think they ever mention it.

      That’s because it’s (hopefully) a given and mentioning it would give off the wrong impression that it’s okay to develop vaccines using fetal cells *because* it serves a common good (as opposed to being acceptable despite being developed using fetal cells).

  4. In becoming a Catholic, I resolved to assume that without strong, clear reasons, if the Pope – or, for the matter of that, my bishop – thought something, I should start from the assumption that I might be wrong, and that they might be right. I had spent so very much of my life, you see, knowing that when someone else disagreed with me … it was obvious that they were wrong.

  5. @JJ, that was a turning point in my life as well. I’d been taught that criminals were to be hunted down and fried so they wouldn’t cost the taxpayer an extra buck. This seemed proper at the time–until it collided with some words from Pope JPII and Mother Teresa. I remember taking note of my reaction–examining my dark impulses. I couldn’t feel the right emotions at the time, but forcibly changed my opinion based upon the undeniable reality that they were both saints and I was not. That evidence was enough for me to make a 180. The proper emotions came later, thankfully.

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