Against Papal Infallibility

Jerry C. Ray
Irving, Texas

On Monday, July 18, 1870 the Vatican Council voted the decree "Pastor Aeternus" into effect as Roman Catholic law and binding upon all Roman Catholics. This law was passed, despite heated discussion and much opposition, by this definitive ballot of the 85th general congregation. The decree, generally known as papal infallibility, states: "we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma, that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra - i.e., when, in his character as Pastor and Doctor of all Christians, and in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he lays down that a certain doctrine concerning faith or morals is binding upon the Universal Church-possesses, by the Divine assistance which was promised to him in the person of the blessed Saint Peter, that same infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer thought fit to endow His Church, to define its doctrine with regard to faith and morals; and, consequently, that these definitions of the Roman pontiff are irreformable in themselves, and not in consequence of the consent of the Church." (Encyclopaedia Britannica "Infallibility." Vol. 12, p. 318).

The claim to papal infallibility is based upon four assumptions: 1. That Peter had a primacy over the other apostles: the first pope. That Peter was prominent in the early days of the church no one can deny, but that he had any authority over the other apostles cannot be proven. 2. That Peter was bishop of Rome. There is no reliable historical proof that Peter was ever in Rome. 3. That Peter passed on to the bishops of Rome his "powers". 4. That we have a, true line of succession from Peter to the present Roman bishop. There have been countless anti-popes. At one time there were three men simultaneously claiming to be the head of the church.

Among the Roman Catholic Fathers at the Vatican Council was Bishop Jose Strossmayer, who was one of the most notable opponents of papal infallibility. The January, 1954, issue of The Converted Catholic carries a reprint of Strossmayer's speech before the council. This writer has made the following outline from Strossmayer's speech, faithfully following the bishop's forceful line of argumentation, and has used it effectively in preaching upon papal infallibility.


A. Jesus is silent concerning any primacy of Peter's.

  • Mt. 19:28. 12 thrones mentioned. Why not some mention of Peter's authority over the other apostles?
  • When Christ sent the apostles out he made no mention of Peter's authority over them. Why no statement: "Peter, you are the vicar of Christ, all men shall obey you and your successors. Your word shall be law"?
  • Jesus forbade apostles to exercise authority over other Christians (Lk. 22:25), but according to the "Church" the papacy holds in its hands two swords, symbols of spiritual and temporal power.

B. The early church did Peter as pope.

  • Sent him with John to Samaria ( Acts 8:14 ) . Today the Pope does the sending, not the being sent.
  • At the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 Peter was not looked to as the head of the Church.

  • Paul is silent concerning the primacy of Peter.
    • Paul said the church was built upon all the apostles, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone, Eph. 2:20.
    • Paul rebuked the Corinthians for saying, "I am of Peter". If Peter had been pope, he would have shown care in such condemnation.
    • 1 Cor. 12:28. Paul mentions no pope.
    • No mention in any of Paul's letters of the primacy of Peter. Such an important doctrine would surely have merited an entire letter.
  • None of the other New Testament writers mentions the primacy of Peter.
  • Peter's silence concerning his "primacy".

1. Should have made mention on Pentecost.

2. No mention in 1 and 2 Peter.

3. That Peter was ever in Rome rests only in tradition. Even if he were bishop, it would not prove his supremacy. (Scaliger, learned R. C. said Peter's episcopate and residence at Rome ought to be classed with ridiculous legends.)


  • The Council of Melvie, composed of the bishops of Africa, one of whom was Augustine, bishop of Hippo, threatened excommunication upon any who appealed "to those beyond the sea". ("Whosoever will to appeal to those beyond the sea shall not be received by any one in Africa to the communion".)
  • The same bishops, in the Sixth Council of Carthage, wrote to Celestinus. bishop of Rome, to warn him not to receive appeals from the bishops, priests or clerics of Africa; and that he should send no more legates or commissaries; and that he should not introduce human pride into the church.
  • Emperor Theodosius II made a law establishing the patriarch of Constantinople as having equal authority as the Roman patriarch.
  • The fathers of the Council of Chalcedon put the bishops of the new Rome (Constantinople) and Old Rome in the same order on all things, even ecclesiastical (Can. 28) .
  • Sixth Council of Carthage forbade all bishops to take the title of prince of the bishops, or sovereign bishop.
  • Gregory I (counted as a pope) said concerning the taking of this title: "None of my predecessors has consented to take thus profane name; for when a patriarch gives himself the name of Universal, the title of patriarch suffers discredit. Far be it from Christians to desire to give themselves a title which brings discredit upon their brethren! "
  • Pelagius II, bishop of Rome, said concerning John, bishop of Constantinople, taking the title of Universal Father: "Do not care for the title of universal, which John has usurped illegally. Let none of the patriarchs take this profane name; for what misfortune may we not expect, if among the priests such elements arise? They would get what has been foretold for them - He is the king of the sons of Pride". (Pelagius II, Lett. 13) .
  • Of the 1,109 bishops who assisted in the first six general councils (325-580 A. D.) not more than 19 were Western bishops.
  • Councils were convoked by the Emperors without informing and sometimes against the wishes of the bishop of Rome.
  • Hosius, bishop of Cordova. Presided at first council of Nice, and edited the canons of it. Presided afterwards at the Council of Sardica, and excluded the legates of Julius, bishop of Rome.


  • Cyril, 4th book on the Trinity, stated: "I believe that by the rock you must understand the unshaken faith of the apostles".
  • Hilary, bishop of Poitiers, 2nd book on the Trinity, stated: "The rock (Petra) is the blessed and only rock of the faith confessed by the mouth of St. Peter;". 6th book of the Trinity: "It is on this rock of the confession of faith that the church is built".
  • Jerome, 6th book on Matthew, stated: "God has founded His church on this rock, and it is from this rock that the apostle Peter has been named."
  • Chrysostom, 53rd homily on Matthew, stated: "On this rock I will build my church - that is, on the faith of the confession".
  • Ambrose (2nd chapter of Ephesians), Basil of Seleucia, and the fathers of the Council of Chalcedon, teach exactly the same thing.
  • Augustine, 2nd treatise on the first epistle of John, stated: "What do the words mean, I will build my church on this rock? On this faith, on that which said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God". Treatise on John: "On this rock which thou bast confessed I will build my church, since Christ was the rock".

13th Sermon: "Thou art Peter, and on this rock (petra) which thou has confessed, on this rock which thou hast known, saying, Thou art Christ the Son of the living God, I will build my church - upon Myself, who am the Son of the living God: I will build it on Me, and not Me on thee."


  • Victor (192 ) first approved of Montanism, then condemned it.
  • Marcellinus (296-303) was an idolater. He entered the temple of Vesta and offered incense to the goddess.

C. Liberius (358) demnation profession o be recalled in his see.

D. Honorius (625) adhered to Monothelitism.

E. Gregory I calls any one antichrist who takes the name of Universal Bishop, and contrarywise Boniface III made the parricide Emperor Phocas confer that title upon him.

F. Paschal II (1088-99) and Eugenius III (1145-53 ) authorized duelling. Julius II (1909 ) and Pius IV (1560) forbade it.

G. Eugenius IV (1432-39) approved of the Council of Basle and the restitution of the chalice to the church of Bohemia. Pius II (1458) revoked the concession.

H. Hadrian II (867-872) declared civil marriages to be valid. Pius VII (180023 ) condemned them.

  • Sixtus V (1585-90) published an edition of the Bible, and by a bull recommended it to be read. Pius VII condemned the reading of it.

J. Clement XIV (1769-1774) abolished the order of the Jesuits, permitted by Paul III, and Pius VII re-established it.

K. Strossmayer speaking, says: "But why look for such remote proofs? Has not our holy Father here present, in his bull which gave the rules for this this Council, in the event of his dying while it was sitting, revoked all that in past times may be contrary to it, even when that proceeds from the decisions of his predecessors?"

L. Stephen XI caused the body of Formosus to be exhumed and dressed in pontifical robes. He had his fingers cut off which had been used for giving the benediction, and then had his body thrown into the Tiber, declaring him to be a perjurer and illegitimate. Romanus, successor to Stephen, and after him, John X, rehabilitated the memory of Formosus.

(Strossmayer mentions the wickedness in the lives of various popes, mentioning John XI (931), John XII (956), Alexander VI).

  • John XXIII (1410) because of simony and immorality was deposed by Ecumenical Council of Constance. "Some will maintain that this Council was only a private one; let it be so; but if you refuse any authority to it, as a logical sequence you must hold the nomination of Martin V (1417 ) to be illegal. What, then, will become of the papal succession? Can you find the thread of it?" (Strossmayer).

No my friend, this speech is not the work of a Protestant. This speech, with its forceful arguments, was made by a Roman Catholic-A Roman Catholic Bishop-A Roman Catholic Bishop who attended the Vatican Council and voted against papal infallibility.

Truth Magazine, V:6, pp. 15-17
March 1961