Benedict Won't Be Infallible Anymore

Vatican says his divine authority on all church matters goes to next pope
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 13, 2013 3:49 PM CST
Pope Benedict XVI holds the pastoral staff during the celebration of Ash Wednesday Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013.   (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

(Newser) – When Pope Benedict steps down as pope later this month, he loses some serious bragging rights: No longer will he be infallible, reports AFP via Raw Story. “These powers go with the office, so they will pass to the next pope," says a Vatican spokesman. "Whoever renounces no longer has the assistance of the Holy Spirit to guide the Universal Church."

For the record, the pope isn't deemed infallible in all things all the time, but only when he lays down the law on church doctrine in what's known as an "ex cathedra" statement, explains Slate. Those statements are exceedingly rare, and Benedict, like most popes, never had the pleasure. But even though he's losing his chance at infallibility, Benedict still is expected to advise his successor on the occasional papal matter, reports the LA Times.

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