Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Infallibility Of The Church

“Mr. Pope is not the advocate of any church. I avow myself the child and champion of an infallible church. It remains for you to see whether the motives of credibility which attach me to that church are defensible—it remains for you to judge whether the doctrine, that Christ established a church upon earth, and endowed it with infallibility, be grounded upon scripture—be consistent with the primitive faith of Christianity—be agreeable to common reason and common sense. It is easy to perceive, that he who denies the necessity of bending to a spiritual authority, is establishing a principle latitudinarian and revolutionary in the strictest sense of the words. If there exists no spiritual authority upon earth, to which man is to yield obedience, I assert that every act of rebellion against the church and against the state is the admitted and unqualified right of every individual. If the principle of private judgment be founded upon the law of nature, or upon the positive law of God, there can be no limitation of the right. The law has made no exception, consequently every individual has a right (and there is no exception, either in religious or political matters) to set up his private judgment against the laws of the church and of the community. It was such principles that caused the revolution in England, and brought a king to the block. To similar principles we are to attribute the bloody scenes of the desolating revolution in France. Such principles have involved Germany in the darkest Atheism….Every thing in the scripture is explained away there, and the test of natural philosophy is absurdly applied to the miracles of our Redeemer. If the principle of private judgment be once recognized, then had the heretics of former days, Arius, Cerinthus, Manicheus, &c, as good a right to the exercise of private judgment as Mr. Pope, or any gentleman of the 19th century. If those heretics had a right to exercise it, upon what principle did the Catholic Church condemn them—cut them off as rotten members, and treat them, as Christ said those shall be treated who would not hear the Church, as heathens and publicans, and reprobates upon the earth? Mr. Pope, I suppose, recognizes the first four councils, and the Athanasian Creed—he must then admit that the church had a right to condemn Arius, Eutyches, and Manicheus, and every other heretic and heresy that appeared for the first four centuries of the Christian era. If he acknowledged the power in the church to condemn heresy in the first century, why not acknowledge it now?”

-Fr. Thomas Maguire in his opening remarks during the debate on April 19, 1827 against the Protestant, Richard T.P. Pope, as recorded in The Authentic Report of the Discussion, Which Took Place at the Lecture Room of the Dublin Institution Between the Rev. Thomas Maguire and the Rev. Richard T.P. Pope.

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