Pope Francis appeared to break from the Roman Catholic Church when he came out in support of same-sex civil unions — sparking curiosity Wednesday about whether his beliefs could be flawed.
In his statement, The Holy Father proclaimed “we have to create is a civil union law” so homosexual couples are “legally covered,” prompting scores of Google searches about whether he’s considered “infallible” by the church.
The religious term — which means incapable of preaching flawed doctrines — has for centuries held true for the pope, according to Catholic.com, which quoted scripture.
“Infallibility belongs in a special way to the pope as head of the bishops. As Vatican II remarked, it is a charism the pope ‘enjoys in virtue of his office, when, as the supreme shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, who confirms his brethren in their faith, he proclaims by a definitive act some doctrine of faith or morals,” the site notes.
“Therefore his definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly held irreformable, for they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, an assistance promised to him in blessed Peter.”
By that rationale, Pope Francis’s stance that “homosexuals have a right to be part of the family” and should be legally protected by civil unions is considered “infallible” — or without error — by the Catholic Church.
People often mistakenly believe the word “infallible” to mean incapable of sinning, as it relates to the religion, experts on the website said.
“Infallibility is not the absence of sin. Nor is it a charism that belongs only to the pope,” the site states. “In particular, fundamentalists and other ‘Bible Christians’ often confuse the charism of papal ‘infallibility’ with ‘impeccability.’ They imagine Catholics believe the pope cannot sin.”
Terms including “Is the pope infallible?,” “pope civil unions” and “pope homosexuality” were trending on Google Wednesday.