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termination of questions which have been in doubt and debate, and therefore of the judgment or sentence thence resulting. When the second Council of Lyons says, “ Si quæ subortæ fuerint fidei quæstiones suo judicio debere definiri,” it means that the questions of faith ought to be ended by this judgment of the Pontiff. Definire is finem imponere, or finaliter judicare. It is therefore equivalent to determinare, or finaliter determinare, which words are those of St. Thomas when speaking of the supreme authority of the Roman Pontiff. It is in this sense that the Vatican Council uses the word definienda. It signifies the final decision by which any matter of faith and morals is put into a doctrinal form.
Now it is to be observed that the definition does not speak of either controversies, or questions of faith and morals. It speaks of the doctrinal authority of the Pontiff in general; and therefore both of what may be called pacific definitions like that of the Immaculate Conception, and of controversial definitions like those of St. Innocent against the Pelagians, or St. Leo against the Monophysites. Moreover, under the term definitions, as we have seen, are included all dogmatic judgments. In the Bull Auctorem Fidei these terms are used as synonymous. The tenth proposition of the Synod of Pistoia is condemned as “Detrahens firmitati definitionum, judiciorumve dogmaticorum Ecclesiæ.” In the Italian version made by order of the Pope these words are translated, “detraente alla fermezza delle definizioni o giudizj dommatici della Chiesa.” Now, dogmatic judgments included all judgments in matters of dogma; as for instance, the inspiration and authenticity of sacred books, the ortho
doxy or heterodoxy of human and uninspired books. But intimately connected with dogma in these judgments, as we have already seen, is the grammatical and literal sense of such texts. The theological sense of such texts cannot be judged of without a discernment of their grammatical and literal sense; and both are included in the same dogmatic judgment, that is, both the dogmatic truth and the dogmatic fact.
The example above given, in which the Pontiffs approved and commended to the Church, as a rule of faith against Pelagianism, the writings of St. Augustine, was a true definition of doctrine in faith and morals. The condemnation of the “ Augustinus" of Jansenius, and of the five propositions extracted from it, was also a doctrinal definition, or a dogmatic judgment.
In like manner all censures, whether for heresy or with a note less than heresy, are doctrinal definitions in faith and morals, and are included in the words in doctrina de fide vel moribus definienda.
In a word, the whole magisterium or doctrinal authority of the Pontiff as the supreme Doctor of all Christians, is included in this definition of his infallibility. And also all legislative or judicial acts, so far as they are inseparably connected with his doctrinal authority; as, for instance, all judgments, sentences, and decisions, which contain the motives of such acts as derived from faith and morals. Under this will come laws of discipline, canonization of Saints, approbation of religious Orders, of devotions, and the like; all of which intrinsically contain the truths and principles of faith, morals, and piety.
The Definition, then, limits the infallibility of the Pontiff to his supreme acts ex cathedra in faith and morals, but extends his infallibility to all acts in the fullest exercise of his supreme magisterium or doctrinal authority.
V. Fifthly, the definition declares that in these acts the Pontiff“ea infallibilitate pollere, qua Divinus Redemptor Ecclesiam suam in definienda doctrina de fide et moribus instructam esse voluit;" that is, that he is possessed of the infallibility with which our Divine Saviour willed that His Church should be endowed.
It is to be carefully noted that this definition declares that the Roman Pontiff possesses by himself the infallibility with which the Church in unison with him is endowed.
The definition does not decide the question whether the infallibility of the Church is derived from him or through him. But it does decide that his infallibility is not derived from the Church, nor through the Church. The former question is left untouched. Two truths are affirmed; the one, that the supreme and infallible doctrinal authority was given to Peter, the other, that the promise of the Holy Spirit was afterwards extended to the Apostles. The promises “Ego rogavi pro te," and “Non prævalebunt,” were spoken to Peter alone. The promises “He shall lead you into all truth,” and “Behold, I am with you all days,” were spoken to Peter with all the Apostles. The infallibility of Peter was, therefore, not dependent on his union with them in exercising it; but, their infallibility was evidently dependent on their union with him. In like manner, the whole Episcopate gathered in
Council is not infallible without its head. But the head is always infallible by himself. Thus far the definition is express, and the infallibility of the Vicar of Christ is declared to be the privilegium Petri, a charisma attached to the primacy, a Divine assistance given as a prerogative of the Head. There is, therefore, a special fitness in the word pollere in respect to the Head of the Church. This Divine assistance is his special prerogative depending on God alone; independent of the Church, which in dependence on him is endowed with the same infallibility. If the definition does not decide that the Church derives its infallibility from the Head, it does decide that the Head does not derive his infallibility from the Church; for it affirms this Divine assistance to be derived from the promise to Peter and in Peter to his successors.
VI. Lastly, the definition fixes the dogmatic value of these Pontifical acts ex cathedra, by declaring that they are ex sese, non autem ex consensu Ecclesiæ irreformabilia," that is, irreformable in and of themselves, and not because the Church or any part or any members of the Church should assent
to them. These words, with extreme precision, do • two things. First, they ascribe to the Pontifical
acts ex cathedra, in faith or morals an intrinsic infallibility; and secondly, they exclude from them all influx of any other cause of such intrinsic infallibility. It is ascribed alone to the Divine assistance given to the Head of the Church for that end and effect.
I need not add, that by these words many forms of error are excluded : as, first, the theory that the joint action of the Episcopate congregated in
Council is necessary to the infallibility of the Pontiff; secondly, that the consent of the Episcopate dispersed is required; thirdly, that if not the express at least the tacit assent of the Episcopate is needed. All these alike deny the infallibility of the Pontiff till his acts are confirmed by the Episcopate. I know, indeed, it has been said by some, that in so speaking they do not deny the infallibility of the Pontiff, but affirm him to be infallible when he is united with the Episcopate, from which they further affirm that he can never be divided. But this, after all, resolves the efficient cause of his infallibility into union with'the Episcopate, and makes its exercise dependent upon that union; which is to deny his infallibility as a privilege of the primacy, independent of the Church which he is to teach and to confirm. The words “ Ex sese, non autem ex consensu Ecclesia,” preclude all ambiguity by which for two hundred years the promise of our Lord to Peter and his successors has in some minds been obscured.