The other day I was visiting with a Protestant minister who is about to leave his ministry and join the Catholic Church. He said he ended up in this situation because he had a seminary professor who kept challenging his students to “Think it through.” He tried to think through his opposition to Catholicism because he had a parishioner who was asking troublesome questions in his own journey to the Catholic Church and as the pastor tried to think things through he ended up becoming a Catholic himself. He said the key issue was the authority of the Catholic Church–and therefore the infallibility of the Pope.
When confronted with the Catholic belief in papal infallibility most non-Catholics have no idea what it really means. They have a vague idea that Catholic think the Pope is some kind of oracle of God–that whatever he says is always completely right and he can never make a mistake about anything. They also confuse infallibility with human perfection. When we say the Pope is infallible they think we mean he is a perfect human being and has never done anything wrong.
The definition of papal infallibility has been discussed on this blog over the last few days. Go here and here. Unfortunately, when in discussion about such matters the Catholic apologist comes up against the brick wall of anti-Catholic prejudice. The prejudice is understandable. Anti-Catholicism is part of the air the Protestant breathes. The basic assumption of the Protestant is that the Catholic Church simply can’t be right. That’s one of the ground rules. Therefore, when a sensible and acceptable explanation of a Catholic doctrine is given, when Scriptural support is offered and evidence from the fathers of the church one is still met with, “Yes, but I could never believe THAT!” Read more.