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Voluntarist or Orwellian: trouble with this, like the trouble with [Conte who thinks Bishop Gasser’s relatio is infallible & ] Fastiggi’s remarks about Lumen Gentium 12, is that it appears to imply a voluntarist or Orwellian conception of the papal magisterium. No matter what scripture, tradition, and previous popes all have said, for Fastiggi none of it has any binding authority if the current pope decides that it has no binding authority, and every previous scriptural and magisterial statement means whatever the current pope decides it means.

Prof. Fastiggi’s pretzel logic


  1. Mar 8, 2023 — Feser holds that grave errors, even heretical errors, are possible in non-infallible papal teachings, but he is not quick to accuse any Pope. He ...
  2. Robert Fastiggi says:
  3. Dear Ron,

    Emmett O’Regan replied to one of the articles of Feser in Catholic World Report. and I think his comments are worthy of consideration:

    Emmett O’Regan (in reply to Dr. Feser)
    DECEMBER 22, 2022 AT 9:33 AM
    Thank you for taking the time to respond to one of my articles on Vatican Insider, Dr Feser. I’ve read your work on Aquinas, which I found to be quite excellent. The above subject is the topic of my doctoral thesis, and I would like to point out that my position is being misrepresented here. I don’t hold to an infallible ordinary papal Magisterium. As Prof. Fastiggi notes above, the non-definitive teachings of the authentic Magisterium can contain limited errors, such as in the area of particular facts, among other areas, or even concerning its prudential judgments in matters of discipline. My position is a lot closer to Michael Lofton’s, which he presents in the podcast he has linked to above. Basically, my thesis is that any errors in the non-definitive teachings of the authentic Magisterium can never amount to the level of heresy or sententia haeresi proxima corresponding to the first two levels of assent in the Professio fidei. The meat and bones of my real argument is based on Bishop Gasser’s statement in the relatio of Vatican I, that St Robert Bellarmine’s “fourth proposition” concerning the impossibility of a Roman Pontiff falling into formal heresy or teaching heresy to the universal Church in his public capacity as pope would be raised to dogmatic status upon the ratification of Pastor aeternus. I’ve briefly outlined this thesis in a follow-up article on Vatican Insider, which you haven’t engaged with above:

    https://www.lastampa.it/vatican-insider/en/2017/12/11/news/the-heretical-pope-fallacy-1.34082024/

    I think I can successfully demonstrate exactly how St Robert Bellarmine’s position was raised to dogmatic status in Pastor aeternus, as stipulated by the relatio. This is the only point where I would differ with Michael Lofton, in his argument that the idea of a pope teaching heresy in the non-definitive exercise of the authentic Magisterium is merely a theological error. If St Robert Bellarmine’s view on a heretical pope was raised to dogmatic status, then it is actually heresy to claim that a pope is capable of teaching heresy to the universal Church in his public capacity as Roman Pontiff.


    • Thanks for clarifying the positions of Emmett O’Regan and Stephen Walford. I believe it is an open question as to the degree and types of errors that are possible in the non-infallible papal magisterium. However, it is already certain that Popes cannot teach or commit heresy, and that some errors are possible when the decision is non-infallible. O’Regan’s position, clarified above, excludes from non-infallible expressions errors that are heresy or proximate to heresy. My position has a greater degree of exclusion, ruling out all grave error. But at this point, the distinctions are arguable. Walford, I think, has a greater degree of exclusion of error than myself or O’Regan.

      In any case, Feser’s position that Popes can teach or commit heresy is contradicted by many Church sources.

    • Ron Conte says:
  4. Robert Fastiggi says:

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