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 The Fallibility of Papal Infallibility

Jason Engwer

Please Note: Each coloured link within the article will lead you to a related topic on a different page of this site. However, while the text is part of the original article, the links are not. The author of this article may or may not agree with the views expressed on those pages, or anything else on this site..

Also See   The Role Of Peter   The Papacy and The New Testament  

The History of The Papacy   The Fraudulent Papacy
 

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"It is abundantly clear by reading the Catholic apologists that they will not accept any evidence that overturns papal infallibility. No matter how badly a Pope has erred - morally, doctrinally, or otherwise - no charge against papal infallibility will ever stick. It would save us a lot of time if Catholic apologists will simply admit this. In reality, this is nothing short of historical gymnastics and wishful reconstructions at best - and blatant dishonesty at worst." - Eric Svendsen, Evangelical Answers (Atlanta, Georgia: New Testament Restoration Foundation, 1997), p. 34

There are a lot of disagreements about when Popes are infallible and when they aren't. The First Vatican Council and other recent Catholic sources that have claimed infallibility for the Pope have been interpreted in different ways by different people. Catholics don't agree with each other about papal infallibility, and non-Catholics also disagree over how to interpret the doctrine. Since Popes have often erred, some Catholic apologists have claimed that papal infallibility has only been exercised twice: the Immaculate Conception decree of Pope Pius IX in 1854 and the Assumption of Mary decree of Pope Pius XII in 1950.

However, even those decrees have errors in them. For example, in the Immaculate Conception decree, Pope Pius IX referred to Mary as the crusher of Satan's head in Genesis 3:15. That interpretation was derived from a mistranslation of the passage that was part of Catholic Bibles for centuries. The crusher of Satan's head in Genesis 3:15 is actually masculine, not feminine. There's no reason to believe that Mary is the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15, contrary to what Pope Pius IX wrote in the Immaculate Conception decree. Because of such errors, some Catholics claim that not even the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary decrees are infallible. Only some parts of those decrees are exercises of papal infallibility. Other Catholics argue that Popes have exercised papal infallibility more often. However the doctrine is defined, there's no evidence that Popes have any power of infallibility, and the Catholic Church's failure to further define the doctrine reflects that. The Catholic Church has been vague on this issue for obvious reasons.

While the Catholic Church tries to avoid responsibility for papal errors by defining papal infallibility in a vague way, it demands obedience to the Pope at all times, as though every word coming from his mouth is infallible. The Catholic Church thereby avoids responsibility while commanding obedience. It can err repeatedly, yet still claim infallibility, and demand obedience at all times, even when it's erring. For example, the Second Vatican Council taught ("Dogmatic Constitution on the Church", no. 25, emphasis mine):

This loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given, in a special way, to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he does not speak ex cathedra in such wise, indeed, that his supreme teaching authority be acknowledged with respect, and that one sincerely adhere to decisions made by him.

Nobody knows just when the Pope supposedly is speaking infallibly and when he isn't, and he's to be obeyed even when he isn't speaking infallibly. This reasoning allows the Roman Catholic Church to derive all of the benefits of claiming infallibility, such as having hundreds of millions of people obey it, while avoiding the responsibilities of claiming infallibility.

Even the Catholic apologists who claim that papal infallibility has only been exercised twice often cite papal infallibility on other issues. They're inconsistent. To avoid the implications of papal errors such as Liberius' support of Arianism and Honorius' support of Monothelitism, Catholics will argue that papal infallibility is defined so narrowly that those papal errors aren't part of that definition. However, when Catholics are discussing the canon of scripture, for example, they'll claim that a Pope such as Damasus or Innocent infallibly declared what the canon of scripture is. Or when discussing an issue such as the deity of Christ or the Trinity, they'll claim that Popes infallibly settled those matters.

But if papal infallibility has only been exercised twice, how can Catholic apologists claim that the canon of scripture, Christ's deity, the Trinity, etc. have also been infallibly declared? How can they claim that some rulings of Popes and councils are infallible, while others aren't, without having a reasonable and consistent standard by which to make such a distinction? For example, if Pope Pius IX's Immaculate Conception decree is infallible, why wouldn't Pope Boniface VIII's Unam Sanctam decree, which errs repeatedly, also be infallible? Both decrees were issued by Popes, both decrees define doctrine, and both decrees use authoritative language. Or when the Fourth Lateran Council dogmatizes transubstantiation, why is that accepted as infallible, while the same council's offering of indulgences to those who participate in a Crusade and "exterminate heretics" isn't accepted as infallible? Catholics are unreasonable and inconsistent in how they define papal infallibility.

The doctrine of the papacy, even without papal infallibility, has led to a lot of false doctrine and dishonesty. Millions of people have been deceived into accepting false teaching because they believed that the Pope has apostolic authority. Popes have brought about all sorts of false doctrines, persecutions, and wars. Incalculable amounts of time and effort have been spent arguing back and forth about the papacy, papal infallibility, and related subjects. A lot of people have given their reputations, their lives, and even their souls to defending the doctrine of the papacy. As Charles Hodge wrote, regarding papal infallibility:

We know that when Christ was on earth men did not believe or obey him. We know that when the Apostles were still living, and their authority was still confirmed by signs, and wonders, and divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost, the Church was distracted by heresies and schisms. If any in their sluggishness are disposed to think that a perpetual body of infallible teachers would be a blessing, all must admit that the assumption of infallibility by the ignorant, the erring, and the wicked, must be an evil inconceivably great. The Romish theory, if true, might be a blessing; if false, it must be an awful curse. (cited in Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1998], Vol. I, p. 171)

History proves that the doctrines of the papacy and papal infallibility are not blessings, but are instead awful curses. Below are two of the many examples that could be cited.

Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam

What follows below is Pope Boniface VIII's Unam Sanctam decree, issued early in the fourteenth century. I've highlighted portions that contradict what the Roman Catholic Church teaches today, as well as portions that misinterpret scripture. As you read this papal decree, ask yourself whether this Pope's scripture interpretations are accurate. Does this Pope interpret passages like John 18:11 and 1 Corinthians 2:15 correctly? Ask yourself whether this is a "Vicar of Christ" speaking "infallibly" or, instead, a fallible man perverting the gospel, misrepresenting scripture, and attempting to attain more power for himself. I'll be including numbers, in brackets ("[]"), after each portion of the decree that I highlight. At the end of the decree, I'll comment on each of the portions I highlighted.

Boniface, Bishop, Servant of the servants of God. For perpetual remembrance:

    Urged on by our faith, we are obliged to believe and hold that there is one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. And we firmly believe and profess that outside of her there is no salvation nor remission of sins, as the bridegroom declares in the Canticles, "My dove, my undefiled, is but one; she is the only one of her mother; she is the choice one of her that bare her." And this represents the one mystical body of Christ, and of this body Christ is the head, and God is the head of Christ. In it there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism. For in the time of the Flood there was the single ark of Noah, which prefigures the one Church, and it was finished according to the measure of one cubit and had one Noah for pilot and captain, and outside of it every living creature on the earth, as we read, was destroyed. And this Church we revere as the only, even as the Lord saith by the prophet, "Deliver my soul from the sword, my darling from the power of the dog." He prayed for his soul, that is, for himself, head and body. And this body he called one body, that is, the Church, because of the single bridegroom, the unity of the faith, the sacraments, and the love of the Church. She is that seamless shirt of the Lord which was not rent but was allotted by the casting of lots. Therefore, this one and single Church has one head and not two heads,- for had she two heads, she would be a monster,- that is, Christ and Christ's vicar, Peter and Peter's successor. For the Lord said unto Peter, "Feed my sheep." "My," he said, speaking generally and not particularly, "these and those," by which it is to be understood that all the sheep are committed unto him. So, when the Greeks [Eastern Orthodox] and others say that they were not committed to the care of Peter and his successors, they must confess that they are not of Christ's sheep [1], even as the Lord says in John, "There is one fold and one shepherd."

    That in her and within her power are two swords, we are taught in the Gospels, namely, the spiritual sword and the temporal sword. For when the Apostles said, "Lo, here,"- that is, in the Church,- are two swords, the Lord did not reply to the Apostles "it is too much," but "it is enough." [Luke 22:38] [2] It is certain that whoever denies that the temporal sword is in the power of Peter hearkens ill to the words of the Lord which he spake, "Put up thy sword into its sheath." [John 18:11] [3] Therefore, both are in the power of the Church, namely, the spiritual sword and the temporal sword; the latter is to be used for the Church, the former by the Church; the former by the hand of the priest, the latter by the hand of princes and kings, but at the nod and sufferance of the priest. The one sword must of necessity be subject to the other, and the temporal authority to the spiritual. For the Apostle said, "There is no power but of God, and the powers that be are ordained of God"; and they would not have been ordained unless one sword had been made subject to the other, and even as the lower is subjected to the other for higher things. For, according to Dionysius, it is a divine law that the lowest things are made by mediocre things to attain to the highest. For it is not according to the law of the universe that all things in an equal way and immediately should reach their end, but the lowest through the mediocre and the lower through their higher. But that the spiritual power excels the earthly power in dignity and worth, we will the more clearly acknowledge just in proportion as the spiritual is higher than the temporal. And this we perceive quite distinctly from the donation of the tithe and functions of benediction and sanctification, from the mode in which the power was received, and the government of the subjected realms. For truth being the witness, the spiritual power has the functions of establishing the temporal power and sitting in judgment on it if it should prove to be not good. And to the Church and the Church's power the prophecy of Jeremiah attests: "See, I have set thee this day over the nations and kingdoms to pluck up and to break down and to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant." [Jeremiah 1:10] [4]

    And if the earthly power deviate from the right path, it is judged by the spiritual power; but if a minor spiritual power deviate from the right path, the lower in rank is judged by its superior; but if the supreme power [the papacy] deviate, it can be judged not by man, but by God alone. And so the Apostle testifies, "He which is spiritual judges all things, but he himself is judged by no man." [1 Corinthians 2:15] But this authority, although it be given to a man, and though it be exercised by a man, is not a human but a divine power given by divine word of mouth to Peter and confirmed to Peter and to his successors [5] by Christ himself, whom Peter confessed, even him whom Christ called the Rock. For the Lord said to Peter himself, "Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth," etc. Whoever, therefore, resists this power so ordained by God, resists the ordinance of God, unless perchance he imagines two principles to exist, as did Manichaeus, which we pronounce false and heretical. For Moses testified that God created heaven and earth not in the beginnings but "in the beginning" [Genesis 1:1] [6].

    Furthermore, that every human creature is subject to the Roman pontiff [the Pope],- this we declare, say, define, and pronounce to be altogether necessary to salvation. [7]

1. This claim contradicts the Second Vatican Council and other recent Catholic documents, which teach that people outside of the Roman Catholic Church, including Eastern Orthodox, can be saved without submitting to the Pope.

2. Luke 22:38 isn't teaching that the Roman Catholic Church has authority over governments. Passages such as John 18:36 contradict this Pope's interpretation of Luke 22:38.

3. John 18:11 isn't teaching that the Roman Catholic Church has authority over governments, and it isn't teaching that governments must use their sword at the command of the church.

4. Jeremiah 1:10 isn't about the church.

5. 1 Corinthians 2:15 is referring to all Christians, not the Pope. Verse 16 tells us that "we have the mind of Christ".

6. Genesis 1:1 doesn't prove that there has to be a Pope.

7. This claim contradicts the Second Vatican Council and other recent Catholic documents, which teach that people outside of the Roman Catholic Church can be saved without submitting to the Pope.

Pope Sixtus V, Aeternus Ille

Peter de Rosa, a Roman Catholic and former Jesuit, gives a lot of examples of Popes erring and contradicting one another in his book Vicars of Christ (New York, New York: Crown Publishers, 1988). What follows is one example, the Sixtus Bible. A Pope, Sixtus V, issued a version of the Bible that was filled with errors, and he ordered all Christians to accept and follow that erroneous Bible, which he had personally edited. Not only does this illustrate the fallibility of Popes on matters of faith and morals, but it also illustrates once again how corrupt the institution of the papacy is and how much it corrupts other people. I've added emphasis in bold:


The Pope Who Rewrote the Bible
When Gregory XIII became pope in the year 1572, the Franciscan Cardinal Montalto retired from public life. His retainers passed it around that his Eminence had one foot in the grave already and wanted no more of life than to prepare for death. At the rare meetings of the Sacred College which he was obligated to attend, he coughed continuously as if he were in the final stages of consumption. To whatever was proposed he meekly bowed his big tonsured head in assent. He was too weak to argue. When his colleagues protested that he was far too young to die, Felice Peretti da Montalto shrugged sadly and added eight years to his age in an effort to convince them of his imminent decease. An English visitor to Rome chanced to catch a rare glimpse of his Eminence bent over his fire and wrote home about this 'most crooching, humble cardinal that was ever lodged in an oven'.

Pope Gregory died in 1585. Montalto appeared at the conclave, hollow-cheeked, dull-eyed, with wrinkles carefully applied. His gait was snail-like, his voice scarcely audible. He walked on crutches, and so round-shouldered was he that his head nearly touched the ground. It was evident to all forty-two cardinal-electors as they cast their votes that Montalto was perfect for the papacy. They were immediately undeceived. As soon as Montalto won the vote, according to his biographer Leti, he straightened up, threw his crutches away with the cry, 'Now I am Caesar,' before intoning the Te Deum with a voice of thunder.

In five years, Sixtus V got through fifty years' work. He had teams of men labouring day and night to put the dome on St Peter's. He had the obelisk moved, inch by inch, by hundreds of workmen and mules, to its present central position in the piazza. He built the Vatican Library. He constructed an aqueduct over valleys and hills to bring water twenty miles into Rome. He well earned his nickname, 'The Consecrated Whirlwind'.

Allied to titanic energy was a fierce and clamorous egotism. He asserted his temporal jurisdiction over all kings and princes. When the Jesuit, Robert Bellarmine, the stoutest champion of the papacy since Aquinas, suggested in his book of Controversies that the pope only had indirect jurisdiction over temporal rulers, Sixtus resolved to censure him. He could for any reason, he said, and whenever he pleased, appoint or dismiss anyone, emperors included. He also disapproved of the theologian Vittorio for daring to write that it was lawful to disobey unjust orders of a pope. Yes, he, Sixtus, pontiff, would ban the books of both these renegades.

The cardinals of the Congregation of the Index were too terrified to tell his Holiness that these eminent authors based their views on the works of countless saints and scholars. Count Olivares, the Spanish ambassador in Rome, wrote to his master Philip II that the cardinals stayed silent 'for fear Sixtus might give them a taste of his sharp temper and perhaps put the saints themselves on the Index'.

Sixtus was particularly ungracious towards Bellarmine. The Jesuit had gallantly co-operated with him on editing the works of St Ambrose. It cannot have been easy. At every point, Sixtus had overruled his judgement. Afterwards, the pope made the order that his version was now the standard text. It was and it remains the most unreliable in existence.


The same high-handed approach he adopted to the Bible. The results were devastating.
The Latin version of the Bible, the Vulgate, was the work of St Jerome in the fourth century. By the Middle Ages it had pride of place. By then, many false readings had crept in, owing to sleepy copyists. With printing, editions multiplied, as did the errors. At the Reformation, Protestants had their own versions of the Bible; it was imperative for Catholics to have a reliable text of the Vulgate in all disputes.

The Council of Trent in 1546 had called the Vulgate the church's authentic version of the Bible. It alone was to be used in lectures, disputations, sermons. 'Authentic' means that Catholics can be sure it is free from doctrinal and moral error and substantially faithful to the originals. When the fathers of Trent commissioned a new edition of the Vulgate, they had no idea of the size of the task. Eleven popes lived and died, and nothing happened. Until Sixtus V.

Three years into his pontificate, at the end of 1588, the scholars he had appointed to edit the Vulgate presented him with their final text. There was too much scholarship in it for the pope's liking; and they had put in too many variant readings. He shouted the president of the commission, Cardinal Carafa, out of his room, screaming he could do far better on his own. This astounding claim he set about trying to prove. In a 300-word sentence, he declared in a Bull that he, the pope, was the only proper person to decide the question of an authentic Bible for the church.

Hour after hour he laboured, and night after night, for he was an insomniac. He had only one full-time secretary, who was almost driven to the grave. In the main, Sixtus kept to the Louvain text which he was familiar with. It was not particularly scholarly. Where it was obscure, he did not mind adding phrases and sentences to clarify. Often he translated according to whim. Another of his idiosyncrasies was to alter the references. A system of chapter and verse had been worked out in 1555 by Robert Stephanus. It was not perfect but it was convenient and was universally used. Sixtus discarded it in favour of his own scheme. All previous Bibles became instantly obsolete; all books in the schools, with their armouries of texts, had to be reprinted. Apart from changing the titles of the Psalms which were considered by many to be inspired, he omitted, probably through carelessness, entire verses.

After only eighteen months, his work was done. In 1590, the first folio copies appeared. 'Splendid,' he muttered, admiring the beautiful binding, until one glance at the text revealed many misprints. Then more and more. The printers, too, had been expected to operate, night and day, in whirlwind fashion.

So as not to waste time, Sixtus started patching things up on his own. He wrote corrections in ink on tiny bits of paper - squares, oblongs, triangles - and pasted them over the printer's errors. It took him six months, and he botched a lot of it. Publication kept getting deferred as the pope's nightmare continued. His Bull, Aeternus Ille, was long ready. Never was there a more authoritative document:

    By the fullness of Apostolical power, We decree and
    declare this edition . . . approved by the authority
    given Us by the Lord, is to be received and held as
    true, lawful, authentic and unquestioned in all
    public and private discussions, readings, preachings
    and explanations.

No printer, editor, bookseller was allowed to deviate by one jot from this final and authentic version of the Latin Bible. Anyone contravening the Bull was to be excommunicated, and only the pope could absolve him. Temporal punishments were threatened, too.

In mid-April copies were at last delivered to cardinals and ambassadors. They inspected it, boggle-eyed. Four months later, on 27 August, the bells of the Capitol announced the pope was dead. That night a storm arose so fierce it was as though Sixtus' departing spirit had whipped up the elements into a frenzy. Rome went wild with delight, but none was so elated as his enemies in the Sacred College.

The next pope died after a twelve-day pontificate. Gregory XIV (1590-1) was left to limit the damage. But how? A Bible had been imposed with the plenitude of papal power, complete with the trimmings of excommunication, on the whole church - and it was riddled with errors. The academic world was in turmoil; Protestants were deriving enormous pleasure and amusement from the predicament of the Roman church.

On 11 November 1590, Bellarmine returned to Rome from a mission abroad. Personally relieved that Sixtus, who had wanted him on the Index, was dead, he feared for the prestige of the papacy. He suggested to the new pope how he might deal with this dilemma. In his Autobiography he was to tell all.

    Some men, whose opinions had great weight, held
    that it should be publicly prohibited. I did not think
    so, and I showed the Holy Father that, instead of
    forbidding the edition of the Bible in question, it
    would be better to correct it in such manner that it
    could be published without detriment to the honour
    of Pope Sixtus. This result could be achieved by
    removing inadvisable changes as quickly as possible,
    and then issuing the volume with Sixtus' name upon
    it, and a preface stating that owing to haste some
    errors had crept into the first edition through the
    fault of printers and other persons.

In brief, Bellarmine advised the pope to lie. Some of his admirers have disputed this. Their task is formidable.

The options were plain: admit publicly that a pope had erred on a critical matter of the Bible or engage in a cover-up whose outcome was unpredictable. Bellarmine proposed the latter.

He may have been tempted to take this line because it was a selfless thing to do: he was defending the honour of a man who had impugned his own. He may also have meant to include Sixtus in that vague reference to the fault of printers 'and other persons'. Yet could any reader have possibly guessed that the pope was one of the other persons? Besides, the only damaging errors were the pope's, not the printers'.

The deceit did not stop there.

A thorough overhaul of Sixtus' Bible would take years. Years they did not have. A small band of scholars, including Bellarmine, went to work in a country house on a slope of the Sabine Hills eighteen miles from Rome. They did a remarkable job, completing their revision in mid-June 1591. The problem now was how to present it to the world. Bellarmine, asked by a new pontiff, developed the cover-up.

The new version should be printed at once. Sixtus' version was bound to fall into the hands of heretics. They would point to the changes, omissions, mistranslations and say: 'Look, popes think nothing of corrupting Bible texts to suit their own purposes.' With the new text should go a preface saying Sixtus had published a Bible revised according to his orders but, on examining it, he had discovered that many errors had crept into it owing to unseemly haste. This was not so unusual in first editions. Sixtus, therefore, decided that the work must be done all over again. At his death, his successors were keen to carry out his wishes. Hence the new edition.

This was very far from the truth. The only really disturbing errors were those of which Sixtus was unaware: his own. He never had the slightest intention of revising his own work, only that of the printers. The decision to revise and republish was taken after his death.

Uppermost in Bellarmine's mind was this: popes must never be seen to condemn the solemn decrees of their predecessors. That would reflect badly on papal authority itself. On the other hand, respect, was also due to the Bible; that, like the papacy, was inerrant. Out of the need to reconcile the irreconcilable came the cover-up.

Bellarmine suggested that the new version should not be the only one allowed. It had been done in a hurry and there were, no doubt, errors in it that time would reveal. Besides, he added, 'though the Pope has given us our commission, he could not give us the assistance of the Holy Spirit which is his exclusive prerogative'. There was in Bellarmine's mind, for all its greatness and subtlety, an almost childish strain when it came to the papacy. He did not care to explain what happened to the assistance of the Holy Spirit while Pope Sixtus was working on the Vulgate.

The Bible was ready for publication at the end of 1592, and Clement VIII agreed to it going out under the sole name of Sixtus. In The Church and the Papacy (1944), Jalland says, tongue in cheek, that this affair

    serves to provide unique documentary evidence of
    the possibility that even the Roman See can change
    its mind. Yet the fact has subsequently been
    obscured, for when the new edition appeared in
    1592 it was boldly and somewhat disingenuously
    presented to the world as the 'Sixtine' Bible. If the
    name of Clement was later introduced, it scarcely
    served to atone for a strange feat of literary dis-
    honesty, nor to conceal the truth that the Roman
    See had so far yielded to popular clamour as to treat
    one of its earlier decisions as reversible.

After the lies, one problem remained: how to get back copies of the real Sixtus Bible. Bellarmine advised the pope to buy them back, regardless of cost, which was likely to be high. Not only were they magnificently produced, but a half-wit would see their curio value. Instructions went out to the Inquisition in Venice and to the Jesuit General to scour printing houses and private homes, especially in Germany, to save the honour of the papacy. The search had elements of farce. At a time when Protestants were distributing free Bibles, the Catholic church was desperately trying to buy some back.

How many copies were recovered is not known, but at the most ten. One copy found its way into the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Its first librarian, Dr Thomas James, treated it like manna from heaven. In 1611 he wrote a book contrasting the two Bibles of Sixtus and Sixtus-Clement. He found 'that the two popes did notoriously differ amongst themselves, not only in the number of the verses [the later version went back to Stephanus' system of reference] but in the body of the text and in the Prefaces and Bulls themselves'.

James claimed to see a remarkable thing: two popes warring in open contradiction of each other. 'In this war, their Head hath been so soiled and their Church so deadly wounded that all the balme in Gilead will not cure them. We have here one Pope against another, Sixtus against Clement, Clement against Sixtus, disputing, writing and fighting about the Jerome Bible.' The Bible, as far as Catholics were concerned, said James, was a wax nose which popes bent into whatever shape suited them. 'If the Pope said what was white was black and black white no Catholic dared disagree.'

It was good polemics, and Sixtus thoroughly deserved it. But even Dr James did not find more than one or two fundamental differences between two popes or any real attempt by either to deceive the reader. Enormous stupidity was present but precious little malice.

What the affair revealed was something quite different.

In any other institution, mistakes such as those made by Sixtus would have been a mere passing embarrassment easily laughed off and soon forgotten. Only in the Roman church could it provoke what, in Bellarmine's view, was the greatest crisis of the Reformation. Reacting to this crisis, a man of Bellarmine's integrity felt compelled to tell lies and half-truths which more than one pope swallowed with relief. If a saintly person like Bellarmine was prepared to lie for the papacy, what will others not do? What have others not done? What are others not doing?

Bellarmine, selfless and poor, emerges as the sad victim of the papacy which he gave his life to defend. So large did it figure in his mind that in him Dr James's jibe was verified to the letter. He did, to please the pope, say that black was white and white black in a most dangerous area: ethics. He states in his book on the Roman pontiff that whatever the pope commands, however evil or ridiculous, has to be obeyed, as if it is virtue itself. Whatever the pope does, even when he deposes an emperor on the most frivolous pretext, has to be accepted by Catholics who henceforward have to obey the pope and not the emperor.

The affair of the pope who rewrote the Bible proves once more that the teaching that the pope cannot err creates its own version of history and leads even saintly men to lie on its behalf. But Bellarmine is chiefly remembered today not because he covered up for a pope, but because he helped ruin the career of a layman - one of the most famous who ever lived [Galileo]. (pp. 215-221)

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