The Office of Pope

Discussion in 'Free-For-All Archives' started by neal4christ, Jan 27, 2003.

  1. neal4christ

    neal4christ
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    Alright, another topic I would like to tackle and get some information directly from Catholics. I know there has been other threads related to this topic, but they have gone astray.

    The office of the Pope. Is it Biblical? Can I get some Scripture for it? What about his authority (how much, over what, etc.)? What of infallibility in matters ex cathedra? Why was the dogma not set until 1870 for this? Did the early church fathers recognize a Pope and his infallibility in matters ex cathedra? Where did the name for the office come from (i.e. 'Pope')?

    I am sure I will have other questions concerning this, but I am sure this will get us started. :D This is the next section addressed in the book I am reading ("The Catholic Mystery" by John Armstrong), so I will run some things by you as I come across them. Don't take it as I wholeheartedly agree with him, but I want to see what you think of his arguments against the Pope.

    As in the other thread ("The Eucharist") I ask everyone to be respectful and stay on topic. If you (that is, Protestants) can not prove that your statements of Catholic beliefs are what they truly believe (official stand in the Catechism), then don't post. I want truth here when it comes to the positions held by both sides.

    Thanks in advance! [​IMG]

    Neal

    [ January 27, 2003, 03:49 AM: Message edited by: neal4christ ]
     
  2. GraceSaves

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    If you mean by Biblical, "the Word of God," then absolutely. The Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, instituted this office in His apostle Peter. This is historically testified by many early church writers, by both pointing to the supremacy of the Roman Church, as well as for Peter being its leader. At times the emphasis was on the Roman Church itself, but that emphasis was soon seen to reside in the Bishop of the Roman Church. Just like you can't say that Washington D.C. is the governmental headquarters of the United States if the President wasn't based there.

    Matthew 16:15-20
    I'm sure you've heard of it/read it many times. Jesus asks who they [His disciples] think that He is, and Simon announces, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God." Isn't this the Gospel in a nutshell? Now, Simon didn't just pull this out of thin air, and Jesus states that by saying, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Johah. For flesh and blood has not revealved this to you, but my Heavenly Father."

    First, we see that Simon is blessed. What He said was GOOD, and Jesus (God Himself) blessed him for this. And guess what; Peter didn't just make it up. It was not Peter's idea; He was divinely inspired. The Spirit of God was with him and gave him the TRUTH.

    "And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church..."

    Simon gets renamed "Rock." Now I'm sure you've heard the Protestant argument about the word "petros," which means something like "little pebble." And then the word Jesus used for "rock" means more along the lines of a "large rock." But we should note that in this time period, the two words "petros" and "petras" meant virtually the same thing. There was not great distinction between them. Obviously, Christ did not want to call His church a "tiny pebble." But Peter is a man; his name could not be feminine and make sense. So the "petros" had to be employed for Peter's name, while "petras" needed to be employed to get the fuller meaning of "rock." The fact that both Peter and "rock" are forms of the same word fully indicate that the same meaning was to be derived from the usage, and Peter's simply had to be masculine because of his "maleness."

    Now, this is often miscontrued further to say that Catholics believe that it was on the PERSON of Peter that Christ built His church. Peter is a man; man is fallible. We're all aware of that. This is why it is an OFFICE that is being instituted. Simon is blessed. He is given a new name. And he is told that he will be entrusted Christ's church. But how can this be? He's only a man, and just a few Bible versus later, Jesus calls him "Satan!"

    This occurs to show that no man is impeccable, but when it comes to times of proclaiming the TRUTH ("You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!"), God will give him the words to say. This occurred; Peter was inspired to speak the unrevealed truth about who Jesus was. And Jesus promises that it will CONTINUE to occur: "and the gates of hell shall never prevail against it." In other words, even though you are fallible man, this Church which I am putting in your care will never fall to the ways of the evil one. You will fail me Peter (as he does multiple times), but my Church, by virtue of the office I have given you, will remain clean. But how is that so? "I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

    The office of the Pope (the Bishop of Rome) is attested to by Scripture, but it preceeds Scripture, for Scripture is a written record of the words that Christ had already spoken. The office was already in place before the Gospel of Matthew was written.

    So as to your question, it PRECEEDS the Bible, but the Bible states its legitimacy.

    The Pope only has authority over matters of faith and morals that pertain to the universal (worldwide) Church. He also has authority over his local flock (the Archdiocese of Rome), as all Bishops have of their diocese.

    Just as Peter was infallible in his proclaiming of who Jesus Chist was, so is the Pope when speaking "from the chair of Peter," in matters of faith or morals, and when speaking to the CHURCH AS A WHOLE. This is a rare occurance.

    Dogmas are typically proclaimed infallibly when they come under scrutiny. If it has not been officially or completely defined, this is done so that no more questions need be asked. If something is unclear, or there is still discussion about some facet of it, this can be done until it has been infallibly defined.

    Yes, and history attests to this. There are a ton of examples, and if you look around, they shouldn't be that hard to dig up. I'm sure some of my Catholic brothers and sisters can help me out here (hands are getting tired!!!)

    Pope just means "papa." It's an affectionate title for the pastor who "fathers" the universal church. There is a history to it; I think an official one is at the Vatican website.

    Ask away; I'll do my best.

    God bless,

    Grant
     
  3. neal4christ

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    How is the Pope chosen, who picks him?

    Neal
     
  4. GraceSaves

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    He is chosen by the College of the Cardinals (is that the right name? Someone can correct me if I'm wrong). Either way, it's all of the cardinals from around the world. There are probably large committees that work together lists of candidates, and then I'm sure there is much prayer and discussion. Quite honestly, I haven't looked a whole lot into it, though I probably will, seeing as with John Paul II's declining health, we probably don't have a whole many more years with him. :( But, who knows.

    God bless,

    Grant
     
  5. neal4christ

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    So it is a life time term, for a lack of better words? Has there ever been one who has stepped down?

    Neal
     
  6. LaRae

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    Yep, just a few and I think most if not all were for health reasons....but these have been a long time ago too, if I remember correctly.

    LaRae
     
  7. GraceSaves

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    LaRae answered partially, but YES, it is a life time appointment. Of course, you're not likely to have a young person as Pope, either.

    God bless,

    Grant
     
  8. neal4christ

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    Not trying to argue with you, but doesn't that seem a little scary that someone has that much power? Isn't the Pope in control of all things regarding the church? What of evil ones (I have heard of some that were in the middle ages)? Looking at it from my perspective, I see it is a little scary to think of one man with so much power. Is there anything to keep him in check? What of the college of bishops, do they help him and balance him?

    Thanks for the quick feedback,
    Neal
     
  9. GraceSaves

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    Do you trust God? Then there is nothing to be scared of. Yeah, we've had some really rotten, evil popes throughout the years. Granted, they are in the minority. They've all had their vices, I'm sure, just as we all do. But they are prevented from infallibly proclaiming error. When they are speaking infallibly, which is a rare occurance and only when necessary, they are speaking by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Even evil popes have not attempted to change or add doctrine to the Church; some even had PLANS to do so before becoming pope, but once getting there, NEVER DID. We have Christ's promise that the gates of hell will never overpower His Church. And for 2,000 years, it hasn't happened. Why should I start doubting God now?

    God bless,

    Grant
     
  10. GraceSaves

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    I guess I didn't completely answer your question.

    Again, he only speaks out on matters of faith or morals. The Pope can't call me up and say, "Grant, go kill everyone on this list!" He has no authority to say such things. And let's not get into the whole holy war thing (that's for another thread), because every man who participated VOLUNTEERED. I was just making an example above. Further, the Pope could never proclaim, "God is dead!" or "There is no God!" or "Jesus wasn't really God!" I mean, he can't even say, "Jesus Christ is not really present in the Eucharist!"

    He cannot change or do away with doctrine, and he cannot just add doctrine. Even the Marian doctrines that are so popular here are as ancient as the Church; they simply took a while to become completely defined beyond question.

    And the Pope isn't a tyrrant. He doesn't just make up doctrine on a whim.

    God bless,

    Grant
     
  11. neal4christ

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    What about encyclicals? Are those considered ex cathedra? When does the Pope have to speak ex cathedra, from Peter's seat?

    Thanks,
    Neal
     
  12. GraceSaves

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    Encyclicals are statements on specific matters, usually expounding upon some point or other that the Church feels is important. For instance: the death penalty. The Church has a position on this issue, and what is acceptable and what is not, but it's not necessarily binding on all Catholics worldwide. However, we can usually trust that the Church has a good reason for taking a stand on this thing or another, and so it is very good to keep up with what is being said in them, as they are there to strengthen our faith and morals.

    But, no, they are not infallible, though they still bear authority.

    As for "when" he must, he must speak ex cathedra, as I said, on a matter of faith and morals that pertains to the UNIVERSAL CHURCH and is intended to be BINDING (meaning, discussion on this matter has ended).

    God bless,

    Grant
     
  13. LaRae

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    Neal I figure you will ask this next so here's the answer!

    Three conditions must be met for a pope to exercise the charism of
    infallibility:

    (1) he must speak in his official capacity as the successor of Peter;

    (2) he must speak on a matter of faith or morals;

    and

    (3) he must solemnly define the doctrine as one that must be held by all the faithful.

    The following comes from section 25 of Lumen Gentium, the dogmatic Constitution on the Church produced by Vatican II:

    And this infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine of faith and morals, extends as far as the deposit of Revelation extends, which must be religiously guarded and faithfully expounded. And this is the infallibility which the Roman Pontiff, the head of the college of bishops, enjoys in virtue of his office, when, as the supreme shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, who confirms his brethren in their faith, by a definitive act he proclaims a doctrine of faith or morals.

    LaRae
     
  14. neal4christ

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    Thanks, LaRae! Just a quick question a little off topic: how many are in the college of bishops?

    Neal
     
  15. GraceSaves

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  16. neal4christ

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    Thanks, Grant!

    Okay, here is something that has bothered me a bit with this idea that Peter was the first Pope. I realize there is something special about Peter as I look more at the gospels, so I am not denying that. I had just never really paid much attention to it before. But my problem, or hang-up I guess, is why is so much of the NT written by Paul and not Peter? If Peter was the Pope, why is most of the NT not his? Why not consider Paul as the Pope of the Early Church?

    Just a thought that always pops up when I look at this. You are probably familiar with it since many Protestants bring this up.

    Thanks,
    Neal
     
  17. GraceSaves

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    Peter also never wrote a Gospel. But then again, neither did Paul. God choses people to perform specific tasks. And frankly, it has nothing to do with the individual himself. We've already established that man is nothing without God, and the office of Pope is just that: an office. God chose Peter to lead the Church. God chose Paul to evangelize and inspired Him to travel and write more. Because Paul was a prominant (one of if not the most prominiant early Christian leader) does not diminish the office bestowed upon Peter. Jesus because Peter didn't write as much doesn't mean he did less work.

    God bless,

    Grant

    EDIT: Also, why not consider Paul the Pope, you asked. Because Paul was not by any historians ever ascribed this. Nor does Scripture in any way attest to it, as it does to Peter.

    And if it was a real problem, and since many fundamentalists tend to think we made it up anyway, why wouldn't we have just "made up" that Paul was it? Apparently it would have been easier for us to justify it! No, the fact of the matter is that it is the way it is because that's the way it is. Get all that? ;) We know that Peter was in Rome, and was martyred there. We have historians listed him as the first Bishop of Rome, and appointing successors. And Church Tradition has told us this for 2,000 years. And again, Peter is the only one in Scripture that we see this special authority bestowed upon.

    [ January 27, 2003, 04:48 PM: Message edited by: GraceSaves ]
     
  18. neal4christ

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    What of viewing the Pope as head of the Church? Is that a problem since it is clear that Christ is Head of the Church? How is the Pope viewed differently?

    Also, is the office of Pope above the authority of Scripture? Many accuse the RCC as having the Pope as the ultimate authority with Scripture as secondary.

    Thanks for your patience Grant. [​IMG]
    Neal
     
  19. tragic_pizza

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    Of interest is the fact that there is no real proof of Peter ever being bishop of Rome...
     
  20. GraceSaves

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    You sound like an atheist saying there is no real proof that Jesus Christ ever existed.

    History at large attests to Peter living in and being martyred in Rome. You simply chose to say that these Church historians are not reliable. I say that they are reliable.

    Who do we trust, I guess is what it comes down to.

    God bless,

    Grant
     

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