The Catholic Church teaches that in order for the saving truths of the faith to be preserved, explained, or observed, Christ endowed his Church with the charism of infallibility.1

It is not uncommon to hear that the Holy Spirit will intervene directly in order to preserve the purity of faith [e.g. this YouTube video].

From Scripture, we know that God can and has saved miraculously and with an outstretched arm.

The question is, through Church history, by what evident ordinary methods [grace working in, with, and through imperfect men] has God preserved infallibility in the Catholic Church?

1. cf. E.g. CCC 2035 and CCC 889.

  • Your first source says, "This infallibility extends as far as does the deposit of divine Revelation." Where men assert the Word of God as truth to be followed, so infallibility continues. In other words, it is the Roman Catholic church's assertion that when the Pope speaks in accordance to Divine Scripture, he is speaking infallibly. So God does not "preserve" infallibility unless you accept the idea that infallibility continues as long as men and women assert the truth of the word of God.
    – Steve
    Commented Oct 19, 2014 at 3:09
  • @Steve The other way to look at it is the deposit of faith (Sacred Scripture and Holy Tradition) that the Church received from the Apostles. How does God ensure ordinarily that it is not watered down, corrupted through the ages, as it is in the hands of imperfect men?
    – user13992
    Commented Oct 19, 2014 at 3:12

2 Answers 2


In the last chapter, ch. V "The Relation of the Holy Ghost to the Divine Tradition of the Faith" (pp. 210-48), of Card. Manning's The Temporal Mission of the Holy Ghost, he shows how the Holy Ghost has preserved the Church pure, comparing it to the dissolution of other sects like Protestantism.

Anytime the Church convenes a dogmatic, General Council (like Trent, to fight Protestantism) or a pope infallibly defines something ex cathedra (like Pope Pius XII did the Assumption in Munificentissimus Deus, defined to promote the love of truth, virtue, Marian devotion and to protect the Catholic teaching on the Blessed Virgin), and fraternal correction given and well received like when St. Paul rebuked St. Peter at Antioch, these are some of the concrete ways the Holy Ghost preserves the faith unchanged and combats the errors threatening it.


I think the best example is Humanae Vitae. The commission appointed to study the issue (contraception) recommended some form for married couples. And of course secular society (and most Catholics) in the 60's wanted to see contraception approved. Nevertheless, through the influence of the Holy Spirit, Paul VI reaffirmed the traditional Catholic view of marriage and contraception.


You must log in to answer this question.