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 Indefectibility of the Church 
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Joined: Wed May 17, 2006 3:38 pm
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New post Indefectibility of the Church
Taken from: The Creed Explained, or, An Exposition of Catholic Doctrine, Rev. Arthur Devine,1897. Imprimatur, Daniel Gilbert, Vicar. Capital. Westmonast, 28 April 1892. pp. 289-290; 292-293. Digitized text: ... 00deviuoft

Indefectibility. (pp. 289-290.)

2. This is a property by which the Church cannot fail; it is that by which she cannot either lose or have diminished any of her divine qualities or gifts even for a short time.

The doctrine of the indefectibility of the Church may be comprised in the following propositions :—

(a) The whole Church is indefectible.

(b) One part of the Church, namely, the Apostolic See,

is indefectible.

(e) The particular Church of this or that particular diocese, or this or that particular nation, may fail and fall away.

Perpetuity is included in indefectibility. Although, rigorously speaking, unless God had ordained otherwise, the Church could be perpetual, without being in all respects indefectible; as a man remains the same human being even to death, although he fails in many respects, both in soul and body. Perpetuity imports continuation without interruption, but indefectibility imports duration and immutability as well.

Indefectibibty means more than infallibility. Infallibility extends only to those things which concern the Church's teaching in matters of faith and morals, but it does not imply that she is to continue always, or to the end of the world, bun that as long as she exists, she cannot err in these matters.

3. Heretics, in regard to the indefectibility of the Church, err on two points.

(1) As to the possibility of defection.

(2) As to the fact of defection.

They have held various opinions as to the possibility of defection.

(a) Some have held that the whole Church can fail entirely for a time.

(6) Some say the visible Church can fail, but not the invisible Church, as if these were two distinct Churches.

(c) Others affirm that, although the Church cannot fail entirely, she can do so in part, at least for a time, and even always by losing this or that attribute or perfection, or retaining it, but maimed and vitiated.

As to the fact of defection. All heretics of every sect hold that the Church has, in some way or other, failed; otherwise, as I have said, they cannot assign any reason for their separation from her; but as to the time of her defection, they are not agreed. On this point there are two extreme opinions. The first dates the defection of the Church from the Council oi Constance, in the year 1414. The second holds that defection began in the very time of the Apostles; in their time, they say, and in every age since, the Church was affected by a number of errors. This latter opinion is held by a great number of recent Protestant writers, such as Goode, Whately, and some Puseyites, as Palmer.

Against all these errors, Catholics hold the indefectibility of the Church, as above explained, and the proofs of it, and of her infallibility, may be said to be the same; and I shall therefore prove both at the same time, after I explain the nature and meaning of Infallibility.

(Continuation with proofs of indefectibility pp. 292-293.)

We may now assert the proposition, and assign the proofs which are given in support of the doctrine explained in this Section.

6. The Church is indefectible and infallible. Both parts of this proposition are so closely connected that the reasons for one prove the other; we may, however, for the sake of order, take them separately.

The Church is indefectible. This may be proved—

(a) From the promises of Christ. He promised (1) that the

gates of hell would not prevail against her.* (2) That He would be with her all days, even to the consummation of the world, &c.t From which we may conclude that, should the Church fail, the promises of Christ would not be fulfilled. The gates of hell would prevail, and Christ would cease to be with His Church. Therefore, the Church cannot be said to fail, but must be indefectible.

(b) The properties and attributes which are essential to the

Church, and flow from her original constitution, cannot fail, or the Church cannot lose them, or suffer them to be impaired. For if in any of them she did fail, or if any of them should be wanting in time, then she should cease to be that Church which was founded by Christ. For Christ founded His Church, that in all times and places she could supply men with the due means of salvation; and, therefore, she ought always to be, and to be capable of being deemed, the true Church of Christ, which would not be the case were she at any time to fail even in part, or lose any of her essential attributes. Men might then be deceived, as they would not be able to recognise any longer that which is the true Church established by Christ on earth. They would, therefore, be destitute of those means which would guide men in that affair which is the most excellent and necessary of all,

* St. Matt. xvi. t Ibid. xviii. See also St. Matt. lii. 25; Eplies. tv. 18. namely, in the knowledge of the true religion. And all this would be at variance with the end, which Christ had in view in establishing His Church. Against the fact of her defection, we can say that the present state of the Catholic Church, after so many ages, is an incontrovertible argument that she possesses the prerogative of indefectibility. "The Church," says St. Augustine, "will not be conquered, nor eradicated, nor will she yield to any temptation or trial until the end of the world comes.'1*

Yours in JMJ,

Thu Oct 20, 2011 6:02 pm

Joined: Wed May 17, 2006 3:38 pm
Posts: 483
New post Re: Indefectibility of the Church
Taken from Christian Apologetics, A Defense of the Catholic Faith, Rev. W. Devivier, S.J., Imprimatur, John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York, 1903. pp. 391-393. Digitized text at: ... ch&f=false


Taken in its broadest acceptation the indefectibility of the Church is the duration that Jesus Christ promised her until the end of the world, with the maintenance of her interior constitution and her exterior form, with the preser

1 Spalding, J. M., Evidences, 10; Manahan, Triumph, etc.; Br. W. xiii. 384; C. W. xlix. 761; Hunter, L, n. 166 ff.

vation of all her properties and her prerogatives. The Church can, of course, admit, in the series of centuries, disciplinary changes required for the good of souls, but she will never be deprived of one of her constituent elements (her members, her chiefs, her organization), nor of any of her essential properties (unity, sanctity, catholicity), nor of her divine prerogatives (authority, infallibility).

Let us observe at the same time that this promise of indefectibility is made to the universal Church, and not to each of her parts, or to particular churches. The latter may fall away or disappear; but despite these shipwrecks the true Church of Christ will always remain, ever the same; these defections, moreover, will be compensated by the conquest or the foundation of new churches. Protestants, sometimes openly, sometimes covertly, reject this indefectibility. No doubt the invisible Church, many of them say, cannot fail, but it is quite otherwise with the visible Church, which may disappear from the world for a greater or shorter time; and this they allege is what has taken place.1

Thesis.—Jesus Christ Wished His Church to Endure without any Essential Change until the End of Time.

First Argument.—A great number of texts in the Old Testament clearly defines the perpetuity of the reign of Christ. Let us limit ourselves to quoting a verse from Daniel, ii. 44: "But in the days of those kingdoms the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, and His kingdom shall not be delivered up to another people, and it shall break in pieces and shall consume all these kingdoms, and itself shall stand forever." The synagogue, which was to change its form and receive an essential perfection, is frequently contrasted with the king

'The modern fiction, defended by Lasaulx, Dollinger and others, of a triple successive development of the Church, called respectively the Petrine, the Pauline, and the Johannine Churches, is clearly condemned by the Vatican Schema on the Church, ch. 8 and can. 8.— Editor.

dom of the Messias, the New Covenant, the Christian Church, which was to exist forever, and remain always the same. This is an argument frequently used by St. Paul, particularly in his Epistle to the Hebrews (viii. 6 ff.; xii. 27, 28).

Second Argument.—The New Testament is no less explicit (Matth. xiii. 24, coll. 30, 39; 1 Cor. xv. 24 f.).

a. In a text already quoted, which has become classic and dispenses with commentary, Jesus, with His supreme authority, confirms this indefectibility: "And I say to thee that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matth. xvi. 18).

b. Christ, sole mediator between God and man, has confided the fruits of His Redemption and the means of salvation to the Church. Now there will always be souls to be saved by these means; hence Christ, in sending the apostles to teach and to baptize, promises to be with them all days, even to the consummation of the world (Matth. xxviii. 20). But this perpetual indefectibility of the apostolic ministry, on which everything depends in the Church, evidently entails that of the Church itself. (Cfr. 1 Tim. ii. 4.)

Third Argument, Drawn From Theological Reasons.— If the Church could ever fail, she would, by this very fact, lose irrevocably all efficacious authority. In fact all who chose to rebel against the Church could justly claim that she had failed in her mission, that she had become corrupt, that she no longer merited either their confidence or obedience. Was it not on this ground that the innovators of the sixteenth century sought to justify their rebellion?

Yours in JMJ,

Fri Oct 21, 2011 7:22 am
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