Thank you for the links, Father, and Elijahmaria I will hopefully read them tomorrow. Regarding Orthodoxy and infallibility, I have long had issues with the idea, for a number of reasons (for instance, even if we say that there is something infallible--a Church, a text, etc--it wouldn't amount to much since we humans are infallible. Does having an infallible source matter much if it is in a language that is somewhat foreign to us, and we can only at best understand it with 85% accuracy? but I'm still thinking and rethinking this...) Almost any time this issue has come up, most Orthodox seem to favor infallibility (though there seems to be--in my experience--a greater willingness to attribute infallibility to the Church or consensus patrum, and less of a willingness to attribute it to the Scripture)
The only source of Infallibility, Asteriktos, is the grace of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the inspiration of Grace and Truth.
In short, the Truth is the Word. Anyone who speaks the Word, speaks the Truth. Which is why I did not flinch when you spoke of infallible individuals for that is a fact. We are all infallible when we speak a Word in Truth.
There is absolutely no way that any creature can know the fullness of Truth...ever. This should tell you something about self-professed "true" churches that are splinters from the Body.
There is one holy catholic and apostolic Church through whom the Holy Spirit speaks the fullness of Truth in so far as creatures are capable of hearing it.
There is one bishop who speaks with all bishops and is guaranteed, in cases of doubt where Truth is in dire doubt and contested by those very bishops, to be led to Truth by the Holy Spirit.
There is one Body made up of members who, in faith, follows their respective bishops in all things but sin, and out of that Body comes the Work of the Church, the Liturgy.
There is each individual soul within the Body who must discern by the Word Made Flesh whether or not he or she is on the path to salvation or are reprobate and in need of help and healing, and to do so there are sacramental and liturgical rites and rituals whose repetition insures that we keep being drawn back to the Way, the Truth and the Life.
I have never met the pope but I have worked hard over time to have some idea about where the Way is and how it is illumined...I have all the help I need in scripture, in liturgy and in the lives of the saints, all as exercised in the Body. There's nothing more that I need. Anything else is icing on the cake, and an exercise of theological curiosity.
And none of it is done without Faith and Hope in The Word and The Spirit brings faith and hope into the world through the Body by way of inspiring the Body and inspiring and illuminating each member.
To have faith and hope is way above your pay grade and mine...thus Grace.
I didn't do it very well but it works out to be a lovely little Tautology. You either yield to it, or you don't.
As you know, I always recommend yielding.
That does not solve the questions that Father Ambrose and Father Al are inquiring about...but it makes it a lot less dangerous to the soul to watch or to participate in them.
Father Al said it yesterday very very nicely so I'll paraphrase: Things look very different when viewed through the eyes of faith.