The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
7 Points

the catholic church has never contradicted itself

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/30/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,152 times Debate No: 31891
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




in this debate, i am not counting the issues of limbo, or "no salvation outside the catholic church".

you would think if the catholic church were not true, that it would have contradicted itself at some point in two thousand years.

the only things that count are statements that are authoritative, things that could be considerted "infallible". the pope, intentionally, teaches, the church, on faith and morals. that is the criteria. it includes many councils and other statements by popes.

note: this does not include moral corruption, only official teaching. that means you can't use bad priest, even peodofile priests. it means you can't use the inquisistion where millions were killed by catholics. can't use bad popes. it has to be actual teachings of the church, as said, councils and statements by popes. etc. impeccable v infallble, there's a difference.
since we are comparing official statements, id rather not use the bible either. it's usually too open to interpretation to begin with. we are examining the church's consistency on its own anyway... and you'd think even beyond the bible, it'd have contradicted itself within two thousand years.
also there's a differnce between widespread belief and doctrine. that so many believed the earth was made in six days, that the earth was flat, that man wasn't from apes etc... only shows they are human. it'd make sense at first impression. this isn't doctrine. you have to cite a quote or citation.


Hi, I accept your challenge : ) This is my first debate so sorry if I get the format wrong. It doesn't look like you made too many arguments in the first round, but since we have limited space of just three rounds I'm just going t jump into it. If Pro objects, then we can work something out. It looks like much of the BOP for carrying the debate is on me so for now I'll maintain that it's fair to do it this way. I'll my opening clarifications here, round 2 for additional arguments (with examples), round 3 for rebuttals and conclusions.

Clarifications- (Since Pro set the rules, this is more clarification than argument)

It's tempting for me to wonder if Pro hasn't admitted defeat before beginning. It's at least a strange thing to say “The Catholic Church has no contradictions,” and then go o to list a large number of contradictions that don't count as contradictions for no stated reason.

Therefore, I would ask the following clarifications by Pro before they go on to rebut my arguments.

Clarification 1)What constitutes a “bad” pope? Could Pro list the popes that don't count? I will maintain in my later argument that if Pro doesn't do this, they can simply maintain that any pope that makes contradictory decrees to later or earlier pope is “bad.” As I hope you can all agree, this would be a rather poor conduct point, and it would constitute “moving the goal post.” Making this clear up front would help. Additionally, making it clear why a “bad” pope doesn't constitute a contradiction in the Catholic church would also be important to the debate.

Clarification 2) Why doesn't limbo or salvation outside of the Catholic church count? If I knew the principle behind why these don't count, it would help me better understand the fine meaning of “the catholic church has never contradicted itself.” and what exactly we are debating, since these same like issues within the Catholic church as a whole, so I don't understand why they would be dis-included.

Clarification 3) Why do “corrupt” officials not count? If a pope said something that spurred on the inquisition, then shouldn't this be held up as an example? Otherwise Pro's statements of “the inquisition doesn't count” and “infallible statements by popes do count” are in direct contradiction. Perhaps a definition of “corrupt” would be in order.

Clarification 4) I wouldn't think that whether popes are human or not is in question. Whether what they say is divinely inspired (and thus never in contradiction)is what matters. It would help if we carefully outline what “doctrine” is, and which types of quotes matter and why. Otherwise there could be semantic and moving the goalpost shenanigans happening later, and that would hardly make for a good debate.

For now, I'm going to assume anything that a pope can be quoted as saying directly, or anything that a council of major leadership in the Catholic church said, as well as anything considered as official doctrine by official catholic leadership in the present day counts. And that a “bad” pope is defined as a pope that did not have full power at the time. Meaning, the leadership including the popes should not be significantly in question by people who lived at the time. I will also possibly be inclined to grant specific exclusions provided they are made before the arguments about them crop up.

Clarification conclusion-

Sorry for the rigamarole, but I figure this is important to agree on up front. If I don't do this, then you could end up basically arguing that popes who agree with you don't contradict things that you agree with, which is hardly something I would contest.

If Pro goes back on any definition of terms (or if I do) then it will be seen as bad conduct (at least by me anyway). I realize you may not be able to cover all popes you consider bad in the beginning, but I would urge you to set specific rubrics for bad, as otherwise you could just use “that pope was bad” for anything I say, which would be pretty frustrating and suspicious.

A specific rubric would help. Preferably a list, as well as reasons for the pope being “bad” so I can contest it. You can make this up, or link to an “official list” which would be more preferable.

Mini Clarification- The debate is about contradiction, not about whether this means that Catholic Church is true and divinely inspired, so I'd request we stay away from that to avoid going off track. After all, people can be wrong without contradicting themselves, including for very long stretches of time. (People believed in geocentrism, without contradiction, for thousands of years more than the life of the Catholic church)

OK, thanks and I'm looking forward to a fun debate! :)
Debate Round No. 1


there are some argument of grace that are at least threshhold compelling about the two debates i didn't want to take. in any case i choose not to debate them, that shgould be sufficient.

bad popes don't count insofaras it's a personal sin you are demonstrating. as i said impeccable doesn't mean infallble. if they were legit popes and taught soemthying yet were bad.... i can't complain. you seem to be missing the point. all im saying as exammple is if a pope was a murderous raper, that isn't him being not infalllible. his teachings still matter.
same for corrupt official in general. if all they did was at worst say somethign to spur the inquisistion for example, that's not fulfilling the criteria, teaching the church as a whole. "the pope intention teaches the church on a matter of faith and morals".

i'l try my best to not have moving goal posts. but if it's a council, or an encyclical, it probably counts. anyting that fulfills the criteria, the pope intentionally teaches the church on faith and morals.

now with all that (what i see as useless) stipulation aside, i'd like to see your contradiction examples. the whoel point of this thread.


I have a feeling by the end that we'll see how not useless my stipulations are. OK, you said that if popes were saying something official, then it counts. I.e., it's not a matter of their personal behaviour, but what they say in an official capacity. OK. That is the definition I'm going to use. Official statements. If a pope or council makes an official statement it counts. If you find a way to say that it doesn't count if the statement is official by an official pope, then you are moving the goalposts. Trust me this will matter. I will concede that it was useless only after we see you not calling an official pope acting officially as "bad."


Very well-

Here are some examples of some things Popes have OKed in the past that are not condemned any longer-

Burning Witches (

-Worshiping Other Gods (Marcillenus (


Things that Popes have previously banned-

-Reading the Bible (Gregory I)

-Physics (Pope John XXI

-Jesuits (Pope Clement )

General contradictions-

Joan of Arc was a witch! Pope Eugene (

No wait she was a saint (Pope Pius X

-The sacking of Constantinople was wrong (Pope John Paul II)


These are all official statements of popes,and none of them have anything to do with the pope being "bad," they were official Catholic doctrine at the time.

Here are a few more I can find refs for if you want

-Fish on Fridays
-Literal Transubstantiation (instead of purely magical)
-God intervenes in gravity/fire/movement of planets, etc.
-Present day miracles
-flat disc shaped world
-ghosts are real


See this is why I wanted to clarify. If you're saying none of these are official church doctrine, then I am confused. They were doctrine at the time that contradicts doctrine now. The refs I gave were all official statements of non-bad popes.

What exactly is non-contradictory? Are you simply saying that nothing the pope says now contradicts with what the pope also says now? Or a few tiny points of doctrine?

How about Jesus was the son of god (nope! Pope St. Leo the Great--

I would challenge pro to come up with any single doctrine of the church that hasn't been contradicted by a pope at least once in an official capacity. I have a feeling I can find one who did.


Apologies if I accidentally violated one of your rules. You are free to ignore any one I missed.

Debate Round No. 2


you need to find some statements of popes contradicting other statements.
all you're showing is things like a pope thinking someone is a witch. ths doesn't fulfill the riteria that the pope is teaching the church on faith and morals that she is a witch etc.
most of your other arguments are obscure and need citations.
or something like creating an order then absolishing it... not doctrine.
condemning someone like JOan or Areian etc isn't doctrine. and even if a pope beleived something wrongly, it wasn't an official teaching.

i'd challenge you to show three solid ones that you think cannot but be shown to eb contradictory. if they are they best you can muster, and i can show how they are not contradictory, then i will have prevailed.
be sure to provide quotes or citatiions, more than just citations to vague references, official citations.


I would point out that Pro has ignored all my arguments and essentially said they were too long for them to read. There were official statements in the references. The BOP is on Pro to prove that none of these are contradictions. They have failed to do so completely.

Additionally, they have failed to state why "Jesus Christ is not the son of god" doesn't count as official doctrine. Why "It's Ok to burn witches isn't official doctrine, and so on.

A decree is official doctrine. How else would you contradict a doctrine?

Pro has failed to say how a doctrine can be changed, if not by official decree, then how?

Pro's entire argument is completely unfalsifiable, since they have made it so they can't be wrong by changing the goalposts to disinclude every single instance of doctrinal decree and any possible contradiction. It's easy to claim non-conradictionw hen you silence every possible way contradiction could happen (in some instances by burning the dissetner alive)


Here's a more specific link of Doctrinal Condemnation of Physics (

Pro's argument failed in the following ways-

-Failure to say why the long list of topics they refused to talk about don't count as contradictions.

-Failure to say why the long list of contradictions I pointed out didn't count, including at least two instances of official doctrinal teachings (jesus christ wasn't the son of god, and Philosophy/Physics is no longer allowed by doctrine}

-Failure to produce a single non-contradictory church doctrine

-Failure to produce a single source of their own

-Failure to say why all my sources were bad instead of just calling them "vague."

-Failure to strongly address a single one of the initial clarifications

And their response to all this is that the following contradictions don't count-

-The entirety of the bible

-All of Science (physics, evolution, cosmology, etc.)
-Contradictory Church Doctrines (sale of indulgences, limbo, etc ad nauseum, the divinity of Jesus)
-All Papal Decrees

Pro claims that doctrine isn't

-from the bible
-from papal decree
-from widespread catholic belief

Therefore where does it exist? The answer is church doctrine is only officially doctrine when it turns out to be right later. All the ones that are patently absurd, or contradict eachother don't count. The Catholic never contradicts itself because it never admits it when it does.

A vote for con is a vote for common sense.


Thanks for the debate!
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by RedCoyote 8 years ago
Hi- can you tell me what the format should be? You made only minor arguments in the first round so should I do the same or can I launch right into it? (I would like clarification on a few points which I can either do here or in the debate) I guess I'll just have to see what I feel like doing.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Misterscruffles 8 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro's response to con's strong arguments, referenced, well thought out arguments was to simply dismiss them out of hand. Pro had atrocious spelling and grammar, and argued semantics without ever demonstrating her own argument.

By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use.