The lack of a list of infallible teachings by the RCC has been discussed here previously. We are often told by RC e-pologists that we Protestants suffer from uncertainty in faith and morals due to the lack of an infallible organization to lead us, yet RCs cannot even define their own body of infallible doctrine. Additionally, a few weeks ago I posted on my own blog about an old dispute (in the Catholic community) over whether or not a particular papal decree by JPII was actually infallible. Ironically, the confusion was bore out in the comments section where it was clear two Catholic commenters were still in disagreement over what exactly made the declaration infallible (although I think they may have figured it out eventually).
The comments in James’ previous post on the authorship of the Book of Hebrews has flushed out another interesting principle in regard to infallibility. It appears that not all portions of conciliar decisions and papal statements are infallible. As the Catholic Encyclopedia notes:
"But before being bound to give such an assent, the believer has a right to be certain that the teaching in question is definitive (since only definitive teaching is infallible); and the means by which the definitive intention, whether of a council or of the pope, may be recognized have been stated above. It need only be added here that not everything in a conciliar or papal pronouncement, in which some doctrine is defined, is to be treated as definitive and infallible. For example, in the lengthy Bull of Pius IX defining the Immaculate Conception the strictly definitive and infallible portion is comprised in a sentence or two; and the same is true in many cases in regard to conciliar decisions. The merely argumentative and justificatory statements embodied in definitive judgments, however true and authoritative they may be, are not covered by the guarantee of infallibility which attaches to the strictly definitive sentences -- unless, indeed, their infallibility has been previously or subsequently established by an independent decision."
The illusion of certainty in the RC position is quickly disappearing.
First, one must determine what documents and decrees could be considered infallible. Second, one must determine exactly what is or is not infallible within those documents/decrees. Is the determination of the above made fallibly or infallibly? And by whom is such a determination made?
(Note that the Catholic Encyclopedia affirms that a believer should know what is infallible before giving assent but we have yet to see an RC who can produce a list of all infallible statements. How can one assent to infallible doctrines that they can't clearly define?)