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These charisms of indefectibility and infallibility are found in the Church as a whole.
(46) All too often the indefectibility of the church is protected, and the cost is inadequate repentance.
Like most contemporary proponents of moderate infallibility, Ford subtly redefines "infallibility" as what traditionally has been reserved for "indefectibility." While in his other writings on the topic he seeks to distinguish "infallibility" and "indefectibility," he has a difficult time defining and differentiating these terms.
I have also reviewed Ford's extensive writings on the subject and have been unable to find a clear differentiation between "infallibility" and "indefectibility."
Among many terminological misunderstandings is the failure to distinguish between "infallibility" and "indefectibility." (9) Succinctly stated, infallibility refers to the divine assistance given by Christ to the church to teach specific doctrines without error; (10) indefectibility refers to the divine assistance given to the church to remain fundamentally faithful to the teachings of Christ.
As already mentioned, the gift of indefectibility is intended to keep the church generally on course; the gift of infallibility is necessary if the church is to provide authoritative definitions of specific doctrines.
Similarly, there is no problem with Powell's proposal for unity if infallibility is understood as indefectibility; however, there is a fundamental problem, if one agrees with Carl Peter that "differences about infallibility" are "too significant to be brushed aside as inconsequential." (34)
Taking Powell at his word that he wants to make an ecumenical contribution to the discussion about infallibility, it must be emphasized that he needs to use theological terminology with precision and to be attentive to the canonical context of conciliar statements; in particular, "infallibility" and "indefectibility" are simply not interchangeable terms; in addition, his claim that Vatican I made a "proposal in religious epistemology" needs to be substantiated, not merely asserted.
(1) Does it make sense to speak of two distinct capacities (charismata?) in the Church, one to proclaim revelation faithfully (infallibility), the other to guide the people prudently (indefectibility)?
Another, under the interesting heading, "the magisterium of the Church and the magisterium of history," paves the way toward a better distinction between infallibility and indefectibility.
And furthermore, in the generation and transmission of the Christian tradition, the orthodox affirmation of divine inspiration, indefectibility, and infallibility must allow for a greater receptivity to the Spirit working through human creativity and criticism in the traditioning process.(1)