Monday, August 26, 2013

DOES POPE FRANCIS' IMPRECISION IN SPEAKING LEAD TO MISUNDERSTANDINGS AND SPINNING?


In the south, our Protestant friends always accused us Catholics that we could sin all they wanted on Friday night, go to Confession on Saturday and be like a saint on Sunday receiving Holy Communion piously. Is Pope Francis perpetuating this myth? This is Vatican Radio's summary of Pope Francis' Angelus talk on Sunday. My comments at the end:

(Vatican Radio)
In his Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis spoke about the words of Jesus from the day’s Gospel: “Strive to enter through the narrow gate.”

The Holy Father noted that Jesus was responding to the question of how many people will be saved. But, the Pope said, “it is not important to know how many are saved. Rather, it is important to know what is the path of salvation.” Jesus Himself is the gate, a gate “that allows us to enter into God's family, into the warmth of the house of God, of communion with Him. This gate is Jesus Himself.”

Pope Francis emphasized that “the gate that is Jesus is never closed . . . it is always open and open to everyone, without distinction, without exclusions, without privileges.” Jesus, he continued, does not exclude anyone. Some people might feel excluded because they are sinners – but Pope Francis definitively rejected this idea. “No,” he said, “you are not excluded! Precisely for that reason you are preferred, because Jesus prefers the sinner, always, in order to pardon him, to love him. Jesus is waiting for you, to embrace you, to pardon you.”

We are called to enter the gate that is Jesus. “Don’t be afraid to pass through the gate of faith in Jesus,” Pope Francis said. Don’t be afraid “to let Him enter more and more into our lives, to go out of our selfishness, our being closed in, our indifference toward others.”

Jesus speaks about a narrow gate not because it is a “torture chamber," but “because it asks us to open our hearts to Him, to recognize ourselves as sinners, in need of His salvation, His forgiveness, His love, needing the humility to accept His mercy and to be renewed by Him.”

Finally, the Holy Father emphasized that Christianity is not a “label” – it is a way of life. Christians must not be Christians in name only: “Not Christians, never Christians because of a label!” he said. He called us to be true Christians, Christians at heart. “To be Christian,” said Pope Francis, "is to live and witness to the faith in prayer, in works of charity, in promoting justice, in doing good. For the narrow gate which is Christ must pass into our whole life.”


MY COMMENTS: I personally love the way Pope Francis speaks. He is down to earth and people easily understand his concepts. The problem isn't so much with what he says, but with what he doesn't say which he may presume is known, but as most of us know today, we can't presume that Catholics and others who hear the pope know the Catholic Faith.

"Jesus prefers the sinner, always, in order to pardon him, to love him. Jesus is waiting for you, to embrace you, to pardon you." But what the Holy Father doesn't say is the need for "repentance" on the part of the sinner as a prerequisite for forgiveness of sins committed after Holy Baptism. Is he taking for granted that people, even Catholics, know that?

It is one thing to know my need for salvation, for forgiveness, for love and the need for humility to accept His mercy and be renewed by Him, but another thing altogether that I am willing to repent and by God's grace change my life.

Don't get me wrong, I know the Pope is Catholic and that he knows repentance on the part of the sinner, which of course is made possible only by God's grace, is necessary for forgiveness.

I also know that many people who come to Christ at Mass and come to Holy Communion have no intention of changing their sinful lifestyles because they either don't think it is sinful or they simply have given up trying to change and thus justify their behavior and their receiving Holy Communion. Others don't think Christ cares that they are unrepentant sinners.

What about that and is Pope Francis confirming this attitude?

51 comments:

ytc said...

I do not understand why Protestants perpetuate that stuff. Their way of doing things is much easier, "Jesus please forgive me, thanks!"

Robert Kumpel said...

I will not criticized the current pope for his imprecise language. However, I might point out that his language could benefit from reading a similar message from a previous pope who wrote:

"True, Jesus has loved us with an immense, infinite love, and He came on earth to suffer and die so that, gathered around him in justice and love, motivated by the same sentiments of mutual charity, all men might live in peace and happiness. But for the realization of this temporal and eternal happiness, He has laid down with supreme authority the condition that we must belong to His Flock, that we must accept His doctrine, that we must practice virtue, and that we must accept the teaching and guidance of Peter and His successors

"Further, whilst Jesus was kind to sinners and to those who went astray, He did not respect their false ideas, however sincere they might have appeared. He loved them all, but He instructed them in order to convert them and save them."

The pope was St. Pius X, the last pope to be canonized. By adding just a couple of key phrases, his words are much less open for misinterpretation.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Those quotes from Pope St. Pius are clear and unambiguous and accessible to a variety of people of various educational backgrounds. It is precise papal language necessary for the Supreme teaching authority of the Sopreme Pontiff.

Robert Kumpel said...

That was supposed to be "criticize", not "criticized". I will try harder to proofreed!

Henry said...

In the time of Pope St. Pius X, popes did not speak personally, let alone extemporaneously. Their written papal statements and even their sermons were made and released only having been checked carefully by competent Vatican authorities.

Because precise papal language is indeed necessary to maintain respect for the teaching authority of the Supreme Pontiff, it appears that Pope Francis is demonstrating the advantages of the traditional practice of papal prudence. Especially in this era of instant communication, when any casual slip can have permanent effect.

Marc said...

My archbishop has written an article clarifying the Pope's remarks. It is very clear and well-written.

http://www.mobilearchdiocese.org/templates/readtjrarticles.cfm?Article=RodiArticle111.htm

rcg said...

What does Pope Francis say about confession? That should go a long on clearing this up.

FrJBS said...

Bless his heart.

Nathanael said...

Does the Holy Father really need all this clarification?

I think not – one Angelus address is not Earth-shattering. All sides in our cultural wars are going to pull him into their camp regardless (either to criticize or praise). They do it with the Christ – so why not our living link with him?

All one has to do is read the Gospel from this past Sunday and then read the Holy Father’s words – we all know what Our Blessed Lord is going to say to some people when they knock. Feigned ignorance isn’t going to be enough and neither is false piety – Christ himself says how hard it is to enter the Kingdom.

Christianity is hard – and to digress – it can feel like a torture chamber. It is only on the rack do we come face-to-face with Our Lord’s humanity. But first we must accept his mercy and forgiveness – living those things out is the hard-part. The Holy Father’s statement is a Catch-22.

Again, Christianity is REALLY hard to live-out. And if we do it right, we are crucified and die so that Christ might live in us. After all, he made it possible by his marriage to the Church on the Holy Cross.

It is only in practicing humility (the most elusive of virtues) can we stop shouting for Barabbas is our daily lives.

John Nolan said...

Some people have remarked that Pope Francis (who, let's admit, has been something of a loose cannon) needs a Merry del Val to advise him. American readers perhaps don't know that Merry was born and educated in England. It was he who wrote the Prayer for England which is still recited at Benediction between the O Salutaris and Tantum Ergo. England was known as "the dowry of Mary" since the reign of Richard II (1377-1399).

"O blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down with mercy upon England, thy dowry, and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee. By thee it was that Jesus, our Saviour and our hope, was given unto the world; and He has given thee to us, that we might hope still more. Plead for us, thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the Cross, O sorrowful Mother. Intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold they may be united to the chief Shepherd, the vicar of thy Son. Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith fruitful in good works, we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee in our heavenly home. Amen."

To give him his full name, the cause of Rafael Maria Jose Pedro Francisco Borja Domingo Gerardo de la Santissima Trinidad Merry del Val y Zulueta was opened in 1953, but seems to have stalled. It's time it was restarted.

Pater Ignotus said...

Nathanael - For the last 150 years of so the papacy and the person of the pope have taken on a centrality that did not exist in the Church prior to that. Much of this has to do with the advances in modern communications. In some cases, people, Catholics and non-Catholics, think that the Pope is the Church and the Church is the Pope.

One author writes: "The core of the problem is how an institution so focused on and preoccupied with medieval, monarchical, and absolutist notions of "sacra potestas" (sacred power) can transmute into one concerned with genuine notions of leadership, especially the style of servant leadership modeled by Jesus in the Gospel of John and discussed by Peter in his First Epistle."

Another authors writes: "The special authority of the Roman bishop and his increasingly active role were strengthened by the fact that the political model provided by ancient Rome began to influence the self-understanding of the Roman bishop: the model, that is, of Rome as the capital of the world" and of the Roman emperor as the lawgiver who was vested with the "plenitude of power." The papacy made its own the heritage of ancient Rome and of the Roman emperor."

Several reasons are suggested for this paradigm shift, reaching back to the beginning of the Second Millennium:

1. The schism between the Church of the East and the Church of the West.

2. The conflicts over lay investiture.

3. Canonists were increasingly adopting Roman law, and it was now the canonists who were deciding the definition of the Church.

4. A rediscovery of the works of Aristotle which provided a philosophy of society and a theory of law and legislative power. (Church as communion gave way to Church as corporation.)

No one is suggesting we don't need a pope - the Petrine office is essential to the nature of the Church. Many have suggested that changes in how the Petrine Office functions should be considered and changed, as needed, to make the pope a more effective leader for all Christians.

Gene said...

So, Ignotus, tell us what changes you would make...

John Nolan said...

Pater Ignotus

Would you be so kind as to reference your sources? "One author" and "another author" simply won't do, especially when what they write is contentious, to say the least.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - I will not name the authors because that will be used to divert any discussion from substantive matters to pointless witch-hunting.

Heavens! An author (or two) might be falsely accused of being a (gasp!) Jesuit!

Pin/Gene - As to changes that might be helpful I will suggest "Ut Unum Sint: Studies on Papal Primacy" published by Crossroads Publishing, "Growing Consensus II: Church Dialogues in the United States 1992-2004", and "Deepening Communion: International Ecumenical Documents With Roman Catholic Participation."

Gene said...

Ignotus will not name the authors because they are most likely progressives. He continues to be dishonest and prevaricating.

Gene said...

Ignotus, I asked you what changes YOU would make.

John Nolan said...

Pater Ignotus

"For the past 150 years or so the papacy and the person of the pope have taken on a centrality which did not exist in the Church prior to that".

What utter nonsense. I suggest you look at the reign of Gregory VII (1073-1085) or Innocent III (1198-1216). To reference sources is a quite proper historical discipline and your excuse for not doing so is, quite frankly, puzzling, unless you suspect your sources are not reliable - in which case why quote them in the first place?

The pope as an effective leader for all Christians? Try telling that to the Orthodox! There were suggestions thirty or so years ago that some Anglicans might accept the pope as 'primus inter pares', but unless they accept the universal and ordinary Magisterium, what's the point?

I won't go as far as Gene and suggest that you are dishonest, but I fear that your brain has been so addled by the liberal nostrums of the past half-century that you are incapable of thinking clearly.

I, like most people on this blog, do not publish quotations without attribution. Neither should you.

Nathanael said...

Yes – another Cardinal Merry del Val would be a very good thing for the Church. And if one can find it – the tiny little book complied of his writings, Spiritual Diary, is short and invaluable.

Last Sunday’s Gospel is not the “gentle Jesus.” The Holy Father merely went one route to the same end. It is that very hard image of Christ the King speaking about judgment. The Holy Father expanded on one aspect of the message. He is not picking one part of it over the other. Every time he makes a statement someone tries to clarify it. Why not let the poor man talk – and then do what he says (the same with our Blessed Savior). My only point is that suffering is embedded in what the Holy Father is saying. To accept and follow Christ causes great suffering and, yes, great joy. It is a mystery of the one, true Catholic Faith. He does not have to say repent every time he speaks of God’s love for us – it is implied in the very nature of his love for us.

By carrying-out the Petrine Office, the Bishop of Rome is our only living link to Jesus Christ. However, his role in exercising that authority, I have no opinion of what-so-ever. Peter can do as his wishes (within the authority given to him by Christ by virtue of his office).

The historicity of Papal authority plays a very limited role in my personal life – but it does mean something to me to be in communion with the Bishop of Rome. But Father makes some very, very good points – of which I am very limited in my knowledge. The curse of Constantine, etc. Like Greene’s Monsignor Quixote, I am much happier with my saints and Breviary than the coldness academia gives the Church in its efforts to revitalize what is ever ancient and ever new. Thank goodness the Church is big enough for us all.

Nathanael said...

With someone like Pope Innocent III, there was a huge price to pay for the Church (for his boldness) after his death. John Moore’s Innocent III: To Root Up and to Plant is magisterial in its clarity (and not boring in the least).

Pater Ignotus said...

John - No, the assertion you question is neither nonsense nor a liberal nostrum. This matter has been raised for decades now - it is a modern issue - in a variety of places and from a variety of sources. If you choose to dismiss it out of hand, so be it. And if you don't care to address ideas without citations, well, then don't.

The notion that the papacy can be a more effective leader for all Christians is not my idea, but comes, most recently to my knowledge, from Pope John Paul II. And forgive me, but I think he might have been in a somewhat better position to understand this matter than you or I or the Man in the Moon.

As for the Orthodox and Papal Primacy, I refer you to the document ECCLESIOLOGICAL AND CANONICAL CONSEQUENCES OF THE SACRAMENTAL NATURE OF THE CHURCH:
ECCLESIAL COMMUNION, CONCILIARITY AND AUTHORITY, published by JOINT INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION FOR THE THEOLOGICAL DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH AND THE ORTHODOX CHURCH, Ravenna 2007.

In that dialogue representatives of the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church jointly stated that both East and West accept the fact of the Bishop of Rome's primacy at the universal level, but that differences of understanding exist about how the primacy is to be exercised and about its scriptural and theological foundations.

So, you see, I don't have to try telling that to the Orthodox since it has already been done. And with somewhat positive results...

Nathanael - I think the bishops of the world might have some objections to your assertion that the pope is our "only living link to Jesus Christ." Bishops share in the fullness of the Priesthood of Jesus Christ and are, in their own right, Successors to the Apostles.

Anon friend said...

Yes, Pater,with all due respect, it is NOT ok to cite quotes without referencing the authors. The authors, if they are above-board and versed in the basics of communication, not to mention rules of Language Arts, I'm sure would agree. At the very least, your argument cannot be held accountable, and at worst "prevaricating"?

Gene said...

Is plagiarism a venial or mortal sin? If it is considered stealing, then ol' Ignotus is really misbehaving. Of course, he did put it in quotes and refer to "one author." So, i guess it is only half-assed...like everything else he writes.LOL!

Nathanael said...

I think, or I assume, my point is very clear.

The Holy Father is not just a representative; he is the representative because he is the Vicar of Peter, Prince of the Apostles. The Bishop of Rome holds universal jurisdiction over all members of the Church (including all Bishops). The Bishop of Rome is the one who gives a priest the authority to be the Vicar of Christ (in his own diocese, of course.)

It is all Christ’s authority dispersed through St. Peter to the other apostles. We are bound to obey our Bishop because the Supreme Bishop commands us to do so.

And I am very confident that some Bishops would agree with my statement (while others would not).

To each his own, these days. ;)

Pater Ignotus said...

Friend - I think the ideas I posted can be discussed as they stand, without naming the authors. If others choose not to do so, that's fine with me.

And I am not the only one here who posts without citing sources, so your charge of prevarication is more than a little hollow.

AND . . . if I cite a source, it will be dismissed as "progressive," as "modernist," as coming from an "apostate," etc. If I offer it as my own thought - the same will happen.

So, I think it is OK to offer ideas for discussion on their own merits.

Gene said...

We already know that you are a modernist, a progressive, and an apostate so go ahead and name your sources like any other responsible person. We don't mind.

Marc said...

The first quote is in a work called Papal Power by Paul Collins.

I can't locate the second.

Marc said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Collins_(Australian_religious_writer)

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Am I reading correctly that Collins is a heretic investigated by the Vatican?

Marc said...

Not only that, Father, but he was a priest and was forced to resign because he was a heretic being investigated by the Vatican...

Gene said...

God, don't you love it! Another revealing post by Ignotus. Quack, quack!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

And PI quoted him for some purpose? Surely he was oblivious to his heretical standing. Hopefully, PI will recant. Certainly he didn't know this when quoting him, certainly that would not be the case, certainly not on this orthodox blog.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I mean it's like that Gone with the Wind quote, Yankees in Atlanta, how can that be!

Anon friend said...

Yes, Father, I think you read correctly...he "resigned" the priesthood over the CDF investigation. Despite priestly and religious vocation shortages, I think there are others out there (in the cabal of Hans Kung et al) who ought to "resign"--all those in favor say "aye"? So tired of the damage they have done to the Church...

Marc said...

I understand why Pater was concerned we wouldn't give much credence to his source considering his source was investigated as a heretic as a result of the very work from which Pater was quoting.

Anyway, in Pater's defense, I have not read this work by Mr. Collins.

I do find this sort of thing interesting from Catholic priests (or former priests in this case). Presumably, if they sent papal infallibility and think the institution is a medieval accretion, they considered becoming Orthodox. I can only conclude, based on the fact that they didn't just convert, that their rejection of Catholic dogma on the papacy is a veneer for some other qualms, most likely moral, with the Catholic Church. In other words, they won't convert to Orthodoxy because there would still be Christian moral requirements, so instead they rally against an institution as a religious action.

Anon friend said...

Father, have you ever known PI to recant anything?

Anon friend said...

And, Gene, no, God doesn't love IT the sin, but of course loves him/her the sinner...frustrating as it is at times!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

It could also be the sin of pride and arrogance, that one is so convinced of one's false beliefs, that there is an agenda to pursuade others of their correctness by calling truth something else altogether. It sounds like an alcoholic's personality, desiring of power and control and manipulative in that regard.

Pater Ignotus said...

Good Father - Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders. Gott helfe mir. Amen.

There's nothing to recant, Good Father. Collins posed a perfectly legitimate question.

And if you do not KNOW that Collins is declared a "heretic," it is wrong of you to call him one.

AND the GWTW quote is "Yankees in Georgia! How did they ever get in?!"

Marc - I was not concerned that you would not "give credence" to the Collins quote. I don't CARE if you do or don't. I offered it as a discussion point.

Friend - When I have been wrong I have acknowledge it and I will continue to do so. It happens so infrequently, however, you must have missed it.

Marc said...

Pater, you withheld the source in order to focus discussion on the idea instead of the person saying the idea. That's fine with me. I never attacked you for failing to name the source... I don't care what books you read or cite. You're right -- I misused the word "credence."

If you want to question papal infallibility or power, or at least discuss those ideas, that's fine with me. This is a forum wherein most of us know how to question these things intellectually. I trust you are not feeding your flock specious theology, so beyond that I'm not overly concerned with your personal theological explorations.

I might read thru this book tonight actually. I found a full text of it for free on the web.

Anon friend said...

OK, Pater, you're no doubt right as always--I "must have missed it." I may join Marci in reading Papal Power since it is free!

Anon friend said...

Marc didn't mention where to find it, so here 'tis; The text of the book in question is on the womenpriests.org site: http://www.womenpriests.org/classic3/coll_int.asp
...but you probably already guessed that...

Marc said...

Thanks for posting the link Anon Friend. I had it on a different device and neglected to paste it in there this morning in my original post.

Gene said...

I would never send anyone to a Church where Ignotus was pastor and have, in fact, discouraged several prospective Catholics and several "new" Catholics from going to Holy Spirit. I don't mince words, either.

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - I do not question papal infallibility or power. Neither does the quote from Collins or the second quote I posted.

As Pope John Paul II did in Ut Unum Sint, I ask how the exercise of papal power or of the Petrine Office might be reformed so as to make that office a better servant of all Christians, including the Orthodox.

Nathanael - We diocesan priests are not authorized to be Vicars of Christ by the Bishop of Rome, but by the bishop of the diocese in which we serve.

And we are not bound to obey our bishop because the pope says we must, but because the diocesan bishop, as much a successor to the Apostles as the pope, commands and is owed that obedience.

"The pastoral office or the habitual and daily care of their sheep is entrusted to them completely; nor are they to be regarded as vicars of the Roman Pontiffs, for they exercise an authority that is proper to them, and are quite correctly called "prelates," heads of the people whom they govern. Their power, therefore, is not destroyed by the supreme and universal power, but on the contrary it is affirmed, strengthened and vindicated by it, since the Holy Spirit unfailingly preserves the form of government established by Christ the Lord in His Church." - Lumen Gentium 27

Friend - I am not "right as always" and never claimed to be. When I am wrong I acknowledge the fact.

Marc said...

Mr. Collins, your source, questions papal infallibility. In fact, that's what the book you quoted is all about. That's what he was defrocked for. Hence, my reference to it.

As I said above, I do not care about your personal theological leanings one way or the other. I'm not the Pater Ignotus inquisition. I resigned from that position.

John Nolan said...

PI

From the 1040s onwards successive popes pursued an agenda of reform which required that the Church be "governed more coherently and more hierarchically from the centre" and established for the Church and the papacy "its own sphere of authority and jurisdiction, separate from and independent of that of the lay ruler" [Richard Huscroft, 'Ruling England 1042-1217' (2003), p.190].

Gregory VII insisted that papal legates, even when only in minor orders, had precedence over all bishops and claimed the right to depose kings and emperors; Henry IV of Germany was excommunicated along with any bishops who supported him, and famously had to submit to the pope at Canossa in 1077 in order to keep his throne.

Innocent III placed the whole of England under an interdict in 1208 and in the following year excommunicated King John. Faced with civil war, John resigned his kingdom to the pope and received it back as a papal fief.

So your contention that the centrality of the papacy is a nineteenth century development is indeed arrant nonsense, and demonstrably so.



John Nolan said...

Nathanael

I must read Moore's biography of Innocent III - it has been well received. I'm not sure what the 'heavy price' was that the Church had to pay for his boldness. His successors, Honorius III and Gregory IX largely continued his programme. Innocent IV (1243-54) convened the Council of Lyons which formally deposed the Emperor Frederick II, which marked the beginning of the end for the Hohenstaufen dynasty; it has been described by Professor Eamon Duffy as "a remarkable sign of the authority of the Pope".

Nathanael said...

Father – my point is that it is by an action of the Bishop of Rome that a priest is installed in the office of Bishop. A local Bishop is the Vicar of Christ (in the sense of what the title actually means) in his local diocese and still, of course, is a priest (who was ordained by a Bishop appointed-by the Bishop of Rome – or directly by the Bishop of Rome himself).

I tried to be a bit tongue-in-check with the terms of priest/bishop in my response – I am sorry I failed. Humor (or should I say sarcasm) has never been my forte.

It is reasonable to call a diocesan Bishop (a priest) the Vicar of Christ of his own diocese (hence my attempt at a comical comment). But he is not the Vicar of Peter. It is the Bishop of Rome who functions as the Successor of Peter (because Our Blessed Lord is in the Heavenly Jerusalem - with St. Peter, etc. ;)) in appointing others to the Office of Bishop (and all their Apostolic rights by virtue of their office).

As I said, we are bound to obey our Bishop because the Supreme Bishop commands us to do so. Why? Jesus Christ, Second Person of the Holy Trinity, God, gave St. Peter (and his successors) certain rights over the one, true Church he founded while he walked the Earth. It is only through Peter that we have a living link with Jesus Christ.

I am reminded of a certain priest (who was a Bishop) who was one of the few people in a certain country (a long, long time ago) to stand-up for the authority of the Bishop of Rome; even when all the other reasonable and valid Bishops were willing to go willy-nilly in their allegiance to Peter (and Jesus Christ also). He is canonized and their successors do not have valid priesthood.

A shame and a pity – I guess they didn’t know how important that living link was at the time. I suppose their lives, careers, and position were more important than doing what God said to do through Peter. But they were Apostles in their own right; like the one that Matthais replaced.

Pater Ignotus said...

Nathanael - No, we are not bound to obey our bishops because the pope tells us to obey them. We obey them because they - diocesan bishops - are themselves successors to the Apostles and that, alone, commands obedience.

The pope is not a "Supreme Bishop." He has many titles, all of them full of meaning, and that is not one of them.

If "It is only through Peter that we have a living link with Jesus Christ," how is it, then, that we recognize the Orthodox Churches, which do not recognize the "living link," true Churches, complete Churches, Churches in every respect?

Nathanael said...

Father – you know exactly what I am saying. We are just beating around the bush.

They are only Apostles because the Bishop of Rome (the one God appointed to rule/govern his Church) appoints them to the office. They hold the office because the Bishop of Rome exercised his authority – that is why he is the only living link to Jesus Christ. He stands in for Christ as the head of the Church on Earth. It is through that use of the Petrine Office that they have any authority whatsoever. There is a difference in being a representative and the representative.

I know a lot of people whose churches have bishops – but they were not ordained into a legitimate priesthood nor installed by Peter. There is reason only the Bishop of Rome can call himself the Vicar of Peter (in the true Church anyway).

As for the others you mentioned – the Bishop of Rome, in his pastoral kindness, tells us they are (other Popes would beg to differ – but they are not present at the moment). So it must be so. One never knows what is going to happen 500 years from now (or 1000). Who knows? We may all be reconciled one day to each other (eye-roll). I know Supreme Bishop is not a papal title. I just made it up – like a lot of people do these days when it comes to matters of the Church. It sounded good at the time. ;).

For the price the Church paid – Innocent helped move the papacy into a greater manipulation of the temporal world (through his power over the spiritual). As Moore puts it “When Lateran IV required the faithful to confess their sins to their parish priests, it gave those priests enormous power over their parishioners…Innocent did not seem to anticipate the abuses that might arise when the confessor was something less than that [wise]. Something similar can be said for a number of his polices: using indulgences to raise money for the crusades, appointing relatives to ecclesiastical offices, appointing clerical officials to distant prebends (papal provisions), granting papal dispensations from the very rules he supported as instruments of reform. All these practices were going to be much more destructive to Christian society than Innocent anticipated.” Moore, John C. Pope Innocent III: (1160/61-1216) To Root Up and to Plant. Notre Dame, Indiana: Notre Dame Press, 2003., 287.

Pater Ignotus said...

Nathanael - The Orthodox Churches are not true Churches because the pope says they are, but because they are. We Catholics simply acknowledge what is a reality.

If earlier popes were not able, for whatever reasons, to recognize this, then we can be glad that God, in his merciful patience, has allowed us to come to this knowledge and understanding.

We will be reconciled one day because God has told us we will. That will happen when we - Christians of all denominations - 1) get right with God personally and 2) get out of the way of the Holy Spirit.