In the Feb. 18 Post-Dispatch, a letter from G.K. Dahlberg was printed ("Papal infallibility applies only within strict boundaries"). Ms. Dahlberg represented herself as a theologian and knowledgeable of the workings of the Roman Catholic Church. She was most incorrect. She stated that the highest authority in the Church “resides in an ecumenical council.” She said this to refute statements made by another reader regarding Catholic papal authority. Ms. Dahlberg is simply wrong.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “The pope exercises a primacy of authority as Vicar of Christ and shepherd of the whole Church,” and it defines ecumenical councils as “a gathering of all the bishops of the world, in the exercise of their collegial authority over the universal Church.” The Catechism also states (of councils), “The college of bishops exercises power over the universal Church in a solemn manner in an ecumenical council. But there never is an ecumenical council which is not confirmed or at least recognized as such by Peter’s successor.”
In short, the authority of an ecumenical council is limited and subservient to papal authority.
R. Paul Crafts • Fenton