…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.