Well sarcasm aside, you make a good point. Many Catholics have the idea that the pope can "turn on" papal infallibility whenever he wants to. (I'm reminded of the old joke that the pope should have stationary with I infallibly declare ...)
Note: I'm not even talking about the ones who blatantly misrepresent PI, a la "The pope is infallible when he speaks on faith and morals." That's just crazy.
The bolded red portion.
Thank you for answering. And yes, I definitely did mean it. The idea that "The pope is infallible when he speaks on faith and morals" is absolutely, flat-out crazy
(not like the far more subtle idea that the pope can "turn on" papal infallibility whenever he wants to -- although I also regard as wrong). And, as I said before, it is a blatant
misrepresentation of Vatican I, because Vatican I explicitly stated what ex cathedra means:
... ex cathedra, that is when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church ...
I don't want to analyze those conditions right now, but clearly Vatican I said that a papal statement is ex cathedra if it satisfies all
of those conditions, not if it satisfies just one of them.