Magisterium of the Church and the Partaking of the Faithful in its Exercise

  • Joseph Ettolil Director, Ecumenical Centre of the Archdiocese of Changanacherry
Keywords: Ex Cathedra, Faith and Morals, Infallibility, Ordinary and Extra-ordinary Magisterium, Teaching Authority


The Roman Pontiff, Episcopal conferences and individual bishops have the faculty to teach with authority in matters of faith and morals. This authority comes from the authority of Jesus, who during His earthly ministry, taught with the authority of the Father. This authority was passed to St Peter and to other apostles and continues to be exercised through the apostolic succession. The magisterial activity has ordinary and extra-ordinary modes of exercise. The Roman Pontiff is protected with the gift of infallibility when he exercises his supreme teaching authority as the head of the universal Church and the successor of Peter. The faithful is not entirely devoid of participation in the teaching authority of the Church. They partake in the doctrinal authority through infallibilitas in credendo and sensus fidei fidelium. Therefore, the doctrinal authority in the Church is not exclusively limited to the Hierarchical Church but is open to the Church as a whole.

Author Biography

Joseph Ettolil, Director, Ecumenical Centre of the Archdiocese of Changanacherry

Fr Joseph Ettolil is a priest in the Archdiocese of Changanacherry, Kerala. He did his philosophical studies at Pontifical Institute of Theology and Philosophy, Alwaye and his theological studies at Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum, Roma. He has obtained a Licentiate in Dogmatic Theology and Master’s in Science-Religion dialogue from Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum, Roma. He has already published scientific articles in different journals and has presented papers at various symposiums. He was ordained priest in 2020. Currently, he is the Director of the Ecumenical activities of the Archdiocese of Changanacherry and serves as Assistant Parish Priest at Lourdes Matha Church, Mammood.


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David S. Koonce, Steadfast in Faith. Select Themes in Fundamental Theology, Roma: Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, 2013, 269–288.

ITC, Sensus Fidei in the Life of the Church, London: Catholic Truth Society, 2014, no. 2.

ITC, Theology Today, Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 2012, no. 35.

John J. Burkhard, “Sensus Fidei. Recent Theological Reflection (1990-2001),” Heythrop Journal 46 (2005) 451–452.

John J. Burkhard, The Sensus Fidelium. Old Questions, New Challenges, in CTSA Proceedings 70/2015, 28.

Pope Francis, Evangelium Gaudium, 119-120.

Pope Pio IX, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, Citta’ del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1870, ch. 4; also in DS 3074.

Yves Congar, Lay People in the Church, Westminster: Newman Press, 1958, 288.

Yves Congar, Tradition and Traditions, The Biblical, Historical, and Theological Evidence for Catholic Teaching on Tradition, Basilica Press, 1998, 81–131.
How to Cite
Ettolil, J. (2021). DOCTRINAL AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCH AND THE FAITHFUL. Asian Horizons, 15(1), 104-114. Retrieved from