Pius IX and papal infallibility : La tradizione son' Io! (thesis)
Pius IX was undoubtedly one of the most remarkable men ever to occupy the chair of Saint Peter. He was one of the most devout, beloved popes in history, but also one of the most controversial and detested. He promoted hyper-conservative measures and blanket condemnations of all things liberal. He fundamentally misunderstood the medieval roots of the papacy. In his promotion of the Immaculate Conception of Mary and of papal infallibility, Pius attempted to define formally dogmas that he believed had been widespread in the Middle Ages. In both cases, though the beliefs had existed, they were never as widespread or officially supported as he claimed. He attempted to stretch his authority, confusing the essential differences between papal sovereignty and papal infallibility. Pius revered the height of papal power between 1180 and 1250, but failed to realize that the papacy of that age was a powerful judicial authority, not an infallible creator of faith and dogma. Rather than strengthening the Church, which Pius IX and his supporters believed they were doing, the definition of papal infallibility radically limited the sovereign power of succeeding popes. Pius IX was neither saint nor devil, neither savior nor destroyer of the Church. He was a pope who was undoubtedly unequipped to deal with the issues facing the Church during his pontificate, fundamentally misunderstood the medieval papal power he claimed to embrace and defend, and challenged Scriptural and doctrinal limitations in defining papal infallibility. [From the Conclusion]
Thesis; [FULL-TEXT FREELY AVAILABLE ONLINE]Elizabeth Monroe King is a member of the Class of 2012 of Washington and Lee University.