Can the pope make a mistake?

If you study papal history you will quickly find that the Roman Catholic popes did not always live exemplary lives. To my knowledge, the worst example is Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia).

“During his pontificate the church was brought to its lowest level of degradation. … In spite of the splendours of the Pontifical court, the condition of Rome became every day more deplorable. The city swarmed with Spanish adventurers, assassins, prostitutes and informers; murder and robbery were committed with impunity, and the Pope himself cast aside all show of decorum, living a purely secular life and indulging in the chase, dancing, stage plays and orgies (culminating in the debaucherous Banquet of Chestnuts of 1501).”


It is no wonder that even some Roman Catholics opposed the doctrine of papal infallibility. “In [1869] Acton went to Rome to organize resistance at Vatican Council I to the projected definition of papal infallibility” (Douglas, J. D., Who’s Who in Christian History, Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1992, 4). This opposition helped me to understand the well known quotation attributed to Acton.

Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

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2 thoughts on “Can the pope make a mistake?

  1. Doug

    According to a man I used to work with many many years ago, the pope is only infallible when he places the can on his head (that thing that looks like a pointed dunce cap). When he is not wearing the can on his head, he is as fallible as the rest of us.

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