Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 12, 1967
NUMBER 35, PAGE 6-7a


Ferrell Jenkins

Insecure, Says Priest

Liberalism plagues every religious group. Even Catholicism, with its close-knit hierarchy, has its liberals. Recently we have read of priests seeking to form a union and openly defying the accepted traditions of "the Church." The news clipping below, reprinted from The Indianapolis News, Oct. 27,1966, illustrates the rapid change in thinking that is sweeping American Catholicism, at least.

Priest Says 'Infallibility' Of Pope Is Teaching Crisis

The crisis in religious teaching today stems from the "inexpedient" declaration of papal infallibility more than 100 years ago, the Rev. Barnabas Ahern told a meeting of Catholic teachers today at Chatard High School.

Father Ahern, an expert on scripture at, St. Meinrad Seminary, was the opening speaker for the teachers institute of the archdiocese of Indianapolis. Because of "the general malaise in the church today, the insecurity was something that was bound to come," Father Ahern said.

He said that, as a result of the definition of papal infallibility at the first Vatican council in 1860, Catholics came to regard every pronouncement by the Pope as coming from a Delphic oracle.

"Any question," he said. "could be settled by quoting a papal decree." This gave a sense of false security that has changed, he explained, because as was predicted at the time, truth was obscured.

Father Ahern said that if the church is to return to the freedom of thought that prevailed before Vatican I', "we will have to recognize that there are different levels of maturity".

More than 1,100 priests, brothers, sisters and lay teachers are attending the two-day session.

The Indianapolis News Thursday, October 27, 1966

There are things stated and implied in this article that stand in bold and startling relief against a background of traditional Catholicism. Note the following points:

1. The declaration of papal infallibility was "inexpedient. "

2. It is the cause of today's crisis in religious teaching.

3. There is a "general malaise" (an indefinite feeling of uneasiness, illness, discomfort) and "insecurity" in the Roman church today because of the definition of papal infallibility.

4. Papal pronouncements have been regarded by Catholics as "coming from a Delphic oracle. "

5. Questions have been settled by quoting a papal decree.

6. Truth has been obscured.

7. The Catholic Church lacks "freedom of thought."


We appreciate these admissions from the "expert on scripture" from the Catholic seminary. We have always said that if people would read and study the Scriptures with an open mind they could learn the Truth. Several things concerning the declaration of papal infallibility by the Vatican Council (It is now called Vatican I) in 1870 (not 1860, as the article says) are worth noticing. Pope Pius DC called the council. There were a number of prelates present who were distinguished for learning and position who did not believe in papal infallibility. In fact, several of them had written against it, and 56 of the bishops refused to vote. They knew that this new doctrine was not in accordance with the Scripture but did not want to go against the "holy Father." Included int hat number was Archbishop Kenrick of St. Louis. Philip Schaff, the noted church historian and contemporary of Kenrick, wrote: "Archbishop Kenrick yielded but has not refuted his Concio habenda at non habita which remains an irrefragable argument against the new dogma." (The History of the Vatican Council, the Papal Syllabus and the Vatican Decrees. This was published by Harper and Brothers in 1875, and is reprinted in Bulwarks of the Faith, Part I, Foy E. Wallace, Jr.)

Kenrick was not an "unknown" or an "upstart." He was an Archbishop, founder of three Catholic journals and was the first American to celebrate a fiftieth anniversary as bishop. In St. Louis today is a seminary named in his honor. According to The St, Louis Review, official paper of that Archdiocese, Kenrick "attended the Vatican Council of 1870 and, although he personally opposed the defining of the dogma of papal infallibility, he accepted the decision when it was promulgated. He was one of the ablest theologians in the American Church." (April 29, 1960j Kenrick and others, through learned research, opposed papal infallibility yet had to accept and believe it after it was declared a dogma. Only one American bishop, Fitzgerald, of Little Roark, had the courage to vote "NO," but even he submitted to the voice of the Council before the close of the session.

How Often Used?

While Catholics may often quote papal decrees, the Pope has only used his power of "infallibility" once, that we have been informed about, since 1870. That was in 1950 when Pius XII declared the bodily assumption of Mary. Of course, his "declaration" did not have the power to change it from a falsehood. Just think of it! The power of "infallibility" lying dormant! This means that neither John XXIII (The second one, you know. See The Catholic Encyclopedia, VIII: 434, for information on the first John XXIII.) nor Paul VI have ever used their power. With so much division, even within Catholicism, so many disputed theological questions, difficult scriptures and vexing world problems it seems that the pope would have enough to work on. Could it really be that he has no such power and that he has to wait until a dogma is generally accepted by Catholics before he makes an "infallible pronouncement" about it? Otherwise he might learn that the "freedom of thought" prevalent among some of the hierarchy might decide not to go along with his decision. All the while, the less alert members are seemingly taking everything the Pope says as "infallible."

Would to God that these people could see that Christ is the head of the church (Eph.1:22-23), that the church belongs to Him (Matt.16:18), that the New Testament is to be 'the final authoritative statement in all matters religious (I Tim.3:16-17; Jude 3), and that man can read and understand God's message (Eph. 3:4).