Papal fallibility

Pope Francis

A pontiff is infallible only when speaking ex cathedra on matters of doctrine. It’s kind of Pope Francis to remind us that otherwise a pope may be very fallible indeed.

The latest reminder was given last Sunday, when His Holiness called for wholesale abolition of the death penalty. With all due respect, one can’t help noticing that this entreaty isn’t instantly persuasive.

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Catholic Pope and KGB Patriarch get together

Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill‘Look who’s talking’ is a colloquial way of saying that even an unimpeachable idea may be compromised by the speaker’s personality.

For example, few would argue against the notion of the sanctity of human life – but even fewer would like to hear this argument put forth by a serial murderer. Or else, yes, children must be loved, but we wouldn’t like to receive this unassailable truth from a head master who sexually abuses his 11-year-old pupils.

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