Infallibility

In Roman Catholic theology, only the actual ‘act of teaching’ is properly called “infallible”. For example, according to Roman Catholic dogma, Pope Pius IX‘s teaching regarding the Immaculate Conception was infallible; it is grammatically incorrect to say “the pope is [sometimes] infallible” or to say “the Immaculate Conception is infallible”. Nonetheless, these phrases are frequently used in conversations or Catholic writings.

According to the First Vatican Council (1870-71) and as reaffirmed at Vatican II (1963-1965) the Pope is infallible when speaking ex cathedra on matters of faith and morals.

Infallibility does not refer to the inability to sin (impeccability), or to the personal holiness of a person, although it is occasionally misunderstood in that sense.

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