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Cardinal Koch discusses ‘reformulation’ of Vatican I’s dogma on papal infallibility

June 14, 2024

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CWN Editor's Note: In an interview on the new Vatican study document on papal primacy and synodality (CWN coverage), Cardinal Kurt Koch spoke of a “’re-reception,’ or even ‘reformulation,’” of the teachings of the First Vatican Council (1869-70) on the primacy and infallibility of the Pope.

The prefect of the Dicastery for the Promoting Christian Unity, which published the document, said that “since its dogmatic definitions were profoundly conditioned by historical circumstances,” some ecumenical partners “suggest that the Catholic Church seek new expressions and vocabulary faithful to the original intention, integrating them into an ecclesiology of communion and adapting them to the current cultural and ecumenical context. There is therefore talk of a ‘re-reception,’ or even ‘reformulation,’ of the teachings of Vatican I.”

Cardinal Koch said that the existence of the papacy is less of an ecumenical hindrance than it was in 1967, when Pope St. Paul VI said that the Pope “is without a doubt the greatest obstacle on the path to ecumenism.”’

“In our globalized world, there is undoubtedly a growing sense of the need for a ministry of unity at the universal level,” said Cardinal Koch. “The question that arises is to agree on how to exercise this ministry, defined by John Paul II as a ‘service of love.’”

The above note supplements, highlights, or corrects details in the original source (link above). About CWN news coverage.


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  • Posted by: JimKcda - Jun. 14, 2024 7:59 PM ET USA

    I agree with your comments except that INFALLIBILITY is “one of the least of them.” I believe that it is THE most important. Without infallibility the Pope is “just another bishop.” Didn’t we have a “GREAT SCHISM” in 1064 (?) that has separated us from the Orthodox ever since then? The Protestant churches would love to have such an arrangement so as to degrade the Pope’s authority over them and be recognized as having VALID ORDERS. The Pope could be FIRST AMONG EQUALS. What does that even mean?

  • Posted by: feedback - Jun. 14, 2024 7:46 AM ET USA

    I'm getting suspicious about plans by some prelates to "reformulate" Council of the Church. When it comes to "obstacles on the path to ecumenism" today, the infallibility of the Pope is one of the least of them. The actual current obstacles are the steps made by many Protestant denominations: women clergy, acceptance of contraception and abortions, and gay "marriage." Perhaps those prelates are afraid that Francis' successor will be very different from him but wield the same level of authority?