|Oatmeal is good for you! |
Just eat it already!
But there are some Catholics who believe that every word and every opinion of the pope is infallible. That is a mistaken notion and the first Vatican Council, which declared infallibility, expressed exactly how limited that gift of the holy Spirit is:
"For the Holy Ghost was not promised to the successors of Peter that by His revelation they might disclose new doctrine, but that by His help they might guard sacredly the revelation transmitted through the apostles and the deposit of the Faith, and might faithfully set it forth."
Vatican I Session 4, Chapter 4: On the infallible teaching authority of the Roman pontiff , #4
You can read the decrees of Vatican I which are short. They make it crystal clear that the pope has limited authority and his voice is only infallible when he "guards" and "faithfully set(s) forth" the "revelation" and "deposit of the Faith" that was "transmitted through the apostles."
The pope may not change any of the doctrines of the Church laid down by the apostles. He does not have the authority. The true head of the Church is Christ. The pope is His vicar. He may not alter or add to revelation which ended with the apostolic age. "Development of doctrine" cannot change the essence of a doctrine to conflict with the previous understanding. When Pope Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception of Mary in 1854, it was a belief held by the Church for centuries. [See Ineffabilis Deus] He was not making up a new doctrine!
Catholics have no obligation to follow the pope when he tells them to get the COVID shot, or believe in climate change, or to give Communion (against Church teaching) to Protestants and couples living in adultery. Telling Catholics to get the jab is his opinion. Telling clerics to give Communion to those in adultery violates the unchanging and unchangeable doctrine of the Church.
One does not have an obligation to obey every dictat that springs from the mouth of the pope or one's bishop or one's pastor. It's important to know the difference between blind obedience and true obedience. One may never obey an order to commit sin no matter how high the superior who demands it. Doctors and nurses ordered to participate in abortions must refuse at the peril of their souls to obey such a heinous command. A president who demands it is still president, but he has no authority to violate the laws of God.
Every authority on earth, religious or secular, derives his authority from God. That is why an unjust law that violates God's commands is no law at all.
We are called to be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves. I think that is particularly important when we are dealing with acts of justified disobedience. We don't have to attack the superior when we remind him he lacks authority to issue a command that violates God's laws. It may not even be necessary to speak.
Actions do, in fact, speak louder than words.
For more see: