An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Immaculate Conception

This dogma of the Roman Catholic Church is that the Virgin Mary was kept free from original sin from the first moment of her conception. Mary is understood to be kept free from original sin by the grace of God and the merits of Christ. This dogma was defined in the bull Ineffabilis Deus of Pope Pius IX on Dec. 8, 1854. Belief in the Immaculate Conception was defined by the Pope in the same bull as being infallible and binding on all faithful Roman Catholics. The Final Report of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) recorded the disagreement of Anglicans, although some individuals may hold it as a pious, optional belief. This statement noted that Anglicans question the scriptural basis for such claims. The papal proclamation of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption as dogmas binding on the faithful has prompted many Anglicans to question the teaching authority of the Bishop of Rome. Article XV of the Articles of Religion holds that Christ alone was without sin (BCP, p. 870). The Roman Catholic dogma of the Immaculate Conception remains a stumbling block in Anglican-Roman Catholic ecumenical relations.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.