Bringing you the "Good News" of Jesus Christ and His Church While PROMOTING CATHOLIC Apologetic Support groups loyal to the Holy Father and Church's magisterium
Home About
What's New? Resources The Church Family Life Mass and
Ask A Catholic
Knowledge base
AskACatholic Disclaimer
Search the
AskACatholic Database
Donate and
Support our work
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
New Questions
Cool Catholic Videos
About Saints
Disciplines and Practices for distinct Church seasons
Purgatory and Indulgences
About the Holy Mass
About Mary
Searching and Confused
Contemplating becoming a Catholic or Coming home
Homosexual and Gender Issues
Life, Dating, and Family
No Salvation Outside the Church
Sacred Scripture
non-Catholic Cults
Justification and Salvation
The Pope and Papacy
The Sacraments
Relationships and Marriage situations
Specific people, organizations and events
Doctrine and Teachings
Specific Practices
Church Internals
Church History

Emilia Varona wrote:

Hi, guys—

I have a hard time believing that Pope Alexander VI [New Advent][Wikipedia] was infallible due to many reasons:

  • he had a mistress
  • he annulled his daughter's (Lucrezia Borgia) marriage six times
  • and he sentenced Savonarola to die; having been burned at the stake.

  • How could he be even lucid with regards to Church doctrines?

Please let me know what you think.

Thank you,


  { How could Pope Alexander VI have been infallible or even lucid in Church doctrines? }

John replied:

Hi Emilia,

Thanks for your question.

You seem to have a misunderstanding of what infallibility is.

The Pope is not impeccable.  That is, it doesn't refer to his personal holiness.

Infallibility is a gift which protects the Pope from officially teaching or defining error as truth in the area of faith and morals.

That does not mean that he himself will not violate the same truth he teaches.

For instance, in Acts 15, St. Peter definitively declares that Gentiles did not have to keep the Kosher Laws or be circumcised in order to become Christians.

Later, we read in Galatians that he violates, at very least, the spirit of this infallible declaration. St. Paul writes that he had to rebuke Peter for not eating at the same table with Gentiles, so as to keep the Jewish believers happy.

In granting his daughter six annulments, Alexander was not teaching on annulments, though he could have been breaking the Church's doctrine on this issue.

As for Savonarola, again, Alexander seems to be guilty of a pretty serious personal sin!! The execution of Savonarola, along with the later execution of John Huss, was part of the sad background of the Protestant Rebellion.

As the Catechism says: anytime there is division, there is most likely sin by men on both sides of the issue. This incident is truly a black eye on the face of Church history.

Paragraph 3. The Church Is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.
Wounds to unity.

817 In fact, "in this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church - for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame." (Vatican II, Unitatis Redintegratio 3 § 1) The ruptures that wound the unity of Christ's Body - here we must distinguish heresy, apostasy, and schism (cf. Code of Canon Law, Canon 751) — do not occur without human sin:

Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers.

(Origen, Homily on Ezekiel 9,1:PG 13, 732)

However, this horrible execution is not covered by papal infallibility as we distinguish between:

  1. (The Pope's personal holiness. e.g. his personal actions or behavior) and
  2. the official teachings of the Church re-affirmed by the Pope under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

God Bless,

John DiMascio

Similar issues . . .

[Related posting]| [Related posting]| [Related posting]| [Related posting]| [Related posting]
[Related posting]| [Related posting]

Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
Suggestions for this web page and the web site can be sent to Mike Humphrey
© 2012 Panoramic Sites
The Early Church Fathers Church Fathers on the Primacy of Peter. The Early Church Fathers on the Catholic Church and the term Catholic. The Early Church Fathers on the importance of the Roman Catholic Church centered in Rome.