The magisterium itself is usually the best source for determining which teachings of the ordinary and universal magisterium are infallible and which are not. When subsequent popes show they are not bound by judgments of their predecessors, that’s a good indication that those judgments were not definitive. For example, Pope Innocent I in 405 alludes to Rom 13 is granting permission for the civil authorities of Toulouse to have recourse to judicial torture and capital punishment. Pope Nicholas I, however, in 866 states that such torture is not allowed by either divine or human law (Denz.-H., 648). So it’s clear that Nicholas I in 866 did not feel bound by what Innocent I taught in 405.


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