- From catholicculture.org
The terms doctrine and dogma, although similar, differ in an important way. Doctrines are anything taught by the Church that must be accepted by the faithful. Dogmas are doctrines that the Church teaches have been divinely revealed, that is revealed by God, and declared as such by the Church. Thus while all dogmas are doctrines, not all doctrines are dogmas. Let’s look at the two requirements for a doctrine to be called a dogma. First, it must be divinely revealed. This means that it must be found in either Sacred Scripture or Sacred Tradition – or both. There are many doctrines which have been developed over the years through theological study, prayer and reflection that are not directly found in one of these two sources. Second, it must be declared as infallible by the Magisterium. This is done either at an ecumenical council or by the Pope exercising papal infallibility by speaking ex cathedra in his office as pastor and teacher of all Christians. Therefore, dogma is the highest level of teaching available to the Church’s Magisterium. Examples of teachings which have been declared dogmas include the Assumption of Mary, the Incarnation, and the primacy of the Bishop of Rome as Pope.