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Ep. 35 – Exploring The Limits of Papal Authority


In September of 2014, on the eve of the first Synod on the Family, Steve interviewed Dr. Michael Sirilla, professor of systematic theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, on the limits and boundaries of papal infallibility, the assent owed by the faithful to varying levels of magisterial documents, and how the average Catholic may respond to those troubling statements that were, at the time, already coming out of the Vatican.

It was a wide-ranging and in-depth interview. But at the end of the recording, the decision was made that publishing such a frank discussion of these topics — in which the prudence of certain papal actions was openly questioned by a credentialed theologian at a mainstream Catholic college — might be a strategic error. At the time, such candor about the papacy was still taboo. And as a professor with the mandatum to teach theology at a university that adheres to the mandates of Ex Corde Ecclesiae, it also represented a possible personal and professional risk for Dr. Sirilla — whose ability to teach and form students in theology could, in theory, be jeopardized. The podcast was therefore never made public.

Until now.

At Dr. Sirilla’s request, we are, for the first time, publishing this interview. With the release of Amoris Laetitia, the landscape has changed. The topics discussed in this episode are just as relevant now as they were then, if not moreso. We hope you will find it as informative as we did.


1 thought on “Ep. 35 – Exploring The Limits of Papal Authority”

  1. I always think of this prophetic quote by Archbishop Lefebvre’s rector at the French Seminary in Rome in the twentieis:

    The Society of Saint Pius X was made possible by the providential foresight of an extraordinary man, Fr. Le Floch, superior of the French Seminary in Rome, who in the 1920s formed a group of future prelates and priests who, having been warned by him of the dangers of the Modernist infiltration in the Church, remained faithfully attached to her traditions in the neo-Protestant Revolution. Fr. Le Floch announced in 1926:

    “The heresy which is now being born will become the most dangerous of all; the exaggeration of the respect due to the Pope and the illegitimate extension of his infallibility.”


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