The BBC asks whether, in the light of the Pope's apology for utterances regarding Islam, he really is infalllible, as Roman Catholic teaching says.
To be fair, Rome says its popes are infallible only when speaking ex cathedra, i.e. when pronouncing on matters of church doctrine. Confusing, eh?
Well, not really. You see, the Roman Catholic church (and the Anglican communion, i.e. the Church of Ireland, etc.) believe in apostolic heritage, the teaching passed down through generations of the priesthood and traceable right back to the 12 apostles (or 13 if you agree with St Paul). Doctrinal truth, therefore, has to be compatible with original teaching, otherwise it's just made up. So when Benedict XVI is applying scriptural truths in a Biblical way to modern-day situations (say on nuclear power, AIDS, etc.) the Roman Catholic church believes he is being infallible, but when he says, "Hey guys it's raining" when it's not, then he's just being, er, human.
Indeed, to err is human. And Pope Benedict XVI is human. He's not a god, he's simply the leader of his denomination of the church of Jesus Christ. And may God bless him as he leads those entrusted to him.
In the same way, if I say, "No one comes to God except through Jesus", guess what? I'm expressing an infallible truth because it's of Biblical origin with nothing added or taken away. But when I express opinions on politics, football or sex I'm definitely less infallible.
No surprise there. St. Paul tells us all believers are "a kingdom of priests". Now where did I put that funny hat?