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INFALLIBILITY

felony and of most misdemeanours), if the court is satisfied from the evidence that the offence was committed under the influence of drink, or that drink was a contributing cause of the offence, may, if he admits that he is, or is found by the jury to be, an habitual drunkard, in addition to or in substitution for any other sentence, be ordered to be detained in a state or certified inebriate reformatory, the managers of which are willing to receive him. Again, any habitual drunkard who is found drunk in any public place, or who commits any other of a series of similar offences under various statutes, after having within twelve months been convicted at least three times of a similar offence, may, on conviction on indictment, or, if he consent, on summary conviction, be sent for detention in any certified inebriate reformatory. The expenses of prosecuting habitual drunkards under the above provisions are payable out of the local rates upon an order to that effect by the judge of assize or chairman of quarter-sessions if the prosecution be on indictment, or by a court of summary jurisdiction if the offence is dealt with summarily.

Authorities.—As to the history of legislation on the subject see Parl. Paper No. 242 of 1872; 1893 C. 7008. See also Wyatt Paine, Inebriate Reformatories and Retreats (London,1899); Blackwell, Inebriates Acts, 1879–1898 (London, 1899); Wood Renton, Lunacy (London and Edinburgh, 1896); Kerr, Inebriety (3rd ed., London, 1894). An excellent account of the systems in force in other countries for the treatment of inebriates will be found in Parl. Pap. (1902), cd. 1474.  (A. W. R.) 


INFALLIBILITY (Fr. infaillibilité and infallibility, the latter now obsolete, Med. Lat. infallibililas, infallibilis, formed from fallor, to make a mistake), the fact or quality of not being liable to err or fail. The word has thus the general sense of “certainty”; we may, e.g., speak of a drug as an infallible specific, or of a man's judgment as infallible. In these cases, however, the “ infallibility ” connotes certainty only in so far as anything human can be certain. In the language of the Christian Church the word “ infallibility ” is used in a more absolute sense, as the freedom from all possibility of error guaranteed by the direct action of the Spirit of God. This belief in the infallibility of revelation is involved in the very belief in revelation itself, and is common to all sections of Christians, who differ mainly as to the kind and measure of infallibility residing in the human instruments by which this revelation is interpreted to the world. Some see the guarantee, or at least the indication, of infallibility in the consensus of the Church (quad sempergubique, et ab omnibus) expressed from time to time in general councils; others see it in the special grace conferred upon St Peter and his successors, the bishops of Rome, as heads of the Church; others again see it in the inspired Scriptures, God's Word. This last was the belief of the Protestant Reformers, for whom the Bible was in matters of doctrine the ultimate court of appeal. To the translation and interpretation of the Scriptures men might bring a fallible judgment, but this would be assisted by the direct action of the Spirit of God in proportion to their faith. As for infallibility, this was a direct grace of God, given only to the few. “ What ever was perfect under the sun, ” ask the translators of the Authorized Version (161r) in their preface, “ where apostles and apostolic men, that is, men endued with an extraordinary measure of God's Spirit, and privileged with the privilege of infallibility, had not their hand?" In modern Protestantism, on the other hand, the idea of an infallible authority whether in the Church or the Bible has tended to disappear, religious truths being conceived as valuable only as they are apprehended and made real to the individual mind and soul by the grace of God, not by reason of any submission to an external authority. (See also INsP1RArroN.) .

At the present time, then, the idea of infallibility in religious matters is -most commonly associated with the claim of the Roman Catholic Church, and more especially of the pope personally as head of that Church, to possess the privilege of infallibility, and it is with the meaning and limits of this claim that the present article deals.

The substance? of the claim to infallibility made by the Roman Catholic Church is that the Church and the pope cannot err when solemnly enunciating, as binding on all the faithful, a decision on a question of faith or morals. The infallibility of the Church, thus limited, is a necessary outcome of the fundamental conception of the Catholic Church and its mission. Every society of men must have a supreme authority, whether individual or collective, empowered to give a final decision in the controversies which concern it. Acommunity whose mission it is to teach religious truth, which involves on the part of its members the obligation of belief in this truth, must, if it is not to fail of its object, possess an-authority capable of maintaining the faith in its purity, and consequently capable of keeping it free from and condemning errors. To perform this function without fear of error, this authority must be infallible in its own sphere. The Christian Church has expressly claimed this infallibility for its formal dogmatic teaching. In the very earliest centuries we find the episcopate, united in council, drawing up symbols of faith, which every believer was bound to accept under pain of exclusion, condemning heresies, and casting out heretics. From Nicaea and Chalcedon to Florence and Trent, and to the present day, the Church has excluded from her communion all those who do not profess her own faith, i.e. all the religious truths which she represents and imposes as obligatory. This is infallibility put into practice by definite acts.

The infallibility of the pope was not defined until 1870 at the Vatican Council; this definition does not constitute, strictly speaking, a dogmatic innovation, as if the pope had not hitherto enjoyed this privilege, or as if the Church, as a whole, had admitted the contrary; it is the newly formulated definition of la dogma which, like all those denned by the Councils, continued to grow into an ever more definite form, ripening, as it were, in the always living community of the Church. The exact formula for the papal infallibility is given by the Vatican Council in the following terms (Constit. Pastor aeternus, cap. iv.); “ we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma, that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra-'/Le. when, in his character as Pastor and Doctor of all Christians, and in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he lays down that a certain doctrine concerning faith or morals is bindingiupon the universal Church, -possesses, by the Divine assistance which was promised to him in the person of the blessed Saint Peter, that same infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer thought fit to endow His Church, to define its doctrine with regard to faith and morals; and, consequently, that these definitions of the Roman Pontifi' are irreformable in themselves, and not in consequence of the consent of the Church.” A few notes will suffice to elucidate this pronouncement.

(a) As the Council expressly says, the infallibility of the pope is not other than that of the Church; this is a point which is too often forgotten or misunderstood. The pope enjoys it in person, but solely qua head of the Church, and as the authorized organ of the ecclesiastical body. For this exercise of the primacy as for the others, we must conceive of the pope and the episcopate united to him as a continuation of the Apostolic College and its head Peter. The head of the College possesses and exercises by himself alone the same powers as the College which is united with him; not by delegation from his colleagues, but because he is their established chief. The pope when teaching ex cathedra acts as head of the whole episcopal body and of the whole Church.

(IJ) If the Divine constitution of the Church has not changed in its essential points since our Lord, the mode of exercieof the various powers of its head has varied; and that of the supreme teaching power as of the others. This explains the late date at which the dogma was defined, and the assertion that the dogma was already contained in that of the papal primacy established by our Lord himself in the person of St Peter, A certain dogmatic development is not denied, nor an evolution in the direction of a centralization in the hands of the pope of the exercise of his powers as primate; it is merely required that this evolution should be well understood and considered as legitimate.