Welkodox, you seem to be looking for a clearly visible expression of infallibility WITHIN the Church, a singularly definitive voice around whom the Church can rally and to whose dogmas the Church must submit without question, someone or something who would necessarily have authority OVER the Church.
I'm really only trying to understand what it is that we can classify as infallible and how; and primarily how councils gain ecumenical (i.e. infallible) status. What's interesting to me, as I've looked in to the history, there seems to be no single criterion for how this comes about. Every reason I've come across for saying "this is how we know a council is ecumenical", can be shown in some instance not to be the case. Whether that's the bishops and Emperor proclaiming a council is ecumenical, the assent of Rome, the idea of popular reception among "everyone", or the idea that a successive ecumenical council is necessary to affirm the following - some council along the line invariably lacks at least one those; which means none of them can be used as the sole criterion. I had a conversation while the site was down on this subject and someone whose opinion I respect said the following to quote from another locationMy own view is that the Church is infallible in the sense that the Church as a whole will never defect from the apostolic faith. However, I don't think that we can give an a priori grounds for what formally makes something infallible. We just intuitively know what is infallible and this is demonstrated by the consensus that emerges throughout history. Yes, this is rather vague and subjective. But any attempt to specify some formal criterion involves circular reasoning, I think.
His last point I think is most critical.
It seems clear to me the simple answers put forth by both camps (Orthodox and Roman Catholic) just don't measure up and on close inspection both traditions have issues in explaining the conciliar tradition of the church. There is a lot of vagueness there. Equally as clear to me is the Oriental Orthodox churches, while not presenting a third option as such for understanding the ecumenicity of councils, present a challenge to the understanding of ecumenicity beyond the third council. Certainly their history is a good deal clearer, lacking as it does the overturned councils, robber synods, and councils retroactively recognized as ecumenical that you can find among the Chalcedonian churches. It seems what is often referred to as ecumenical beyond Chalcedon, really takes on a particular meaning - i.e. "ecumenical" within the framework of understanding in the Latin or Byzantine worlds.
The whole Church (bishops, presbyters, deacons, all the faithful, all united to Christ in the Holy Spirit through the Eucharist)
I agree, but here again things are not so simple. I agree we are united to the truth through the Eucharist, but it seems clear we are not necessarily united to each other through it - at least directly.