What is the role of the pope and how is he seen in terms of holiness and closeness to Jesus or God?
The following is from a leaflet written by Father Kevin Beach. The title is "What is the Role of the Pope?" and I hope it answers your question.
"To understand the role of the Pope today, let us first examine the Biblical foundations and historical development of the papal ministry. From that basis, we will be able to explain the Pope's role in the government of the Church and his teaching office.
a. The Twelve Apostles:
At the beginning of his public life, Jesus Christ chose twelve men as his Apostles. He gave them the mission to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal (Lk. 9:2). They were the foundation of His Church
The Church is apostolic in a triple sense: She was built and remains on the foundation of the Apostles (Eph 2:20; Acts 21:14) the witnesses chosen and sent by Christ;. Secondly, she preserves and transmits the teaching of the Apostles and finally she continues to be taught, sanctified and directed by the Apostles, until the return of Christ, through the ministry of bishops, those who succeeded the Apostles in their pastoral responsibility.
The role of the Apostles as the witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus and the foundation of His Church is unique and is not transmitted. However, Jesus promised to be with His Church until the end of time (Mt 28:20). The spread of the Gospel until the end of time was the divine mission entrusted to the Church. To ensure the faithful transmission of the apostolic witness, the Apostles instituted successors. These successors, the order of bishops, are the continuing presence of the pastoral ministry of the Apostles in the Church.
Among the Twelve Apostles, Simon Peter holds the first place. Among the disciples of Christ, Peter is given the greatest prominence in the New Testament accounts of the Church's origins. Jesus gave to Peter a unique mission. Based on a revelation of God to Peter, Peter proclaimed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Jesus then declared that Simon was Peter, the "Rock", and on this rock Jesus would build His Church which would prevail over the powers of Hell (Mt. 16:18). Peter received the mission to guard the integrity and purity of the faith in Jesus Christ, and to strengthen his brothers and sisters in that faith.
The authority conferred by Jesus on Peter is known as the "power of the keys" (Mt. 16:19). The government of the Church - that is, authority to absolve sins, to make doctrinal judgements and to make disciplinary decisions - was given to the Apostles in general. Peter alone was given the "power of the keys". Jesus also gave to Peter a specific pastoral ministry - "feed my sheep" (Jn 21:15-17). Thus, Peter was given a unique responsibility in church government and in pastoral ministry.
2. Dogmatic Development
Jesus Christ, in calling the Twelve, gave them the form of a "college", that is a stable group, and chose Peter from among them as their head. Just as Peter and the other Apostles form, by Christ's initiative, one apostolic college, so the Pope, as successor of Peter and Bishop of Rome, and the other bishops form one episcopal college. The pastoral ministry of Peter and the other Apostles is continued by the bishops under the primacy of the Pope.
By virtue of his wide-ranging ministry evident in the New Testament and preserved in tradition, Peter is considered to be pastor of the Universal Church. History reveals that the single most notable representative of this ministry of Peter toward the Universal Church has been the Bishop of Rome, the city whose church was founded by Peter and where Peter and Paul are buried. The Pope, as Bishop of Rome and successor of Peter, is the visible and perpetual foundation of unity among the bishops and among Christ's faithful. The Bishop of Rome has, by virtue of his role as the Vicar of Christ and as Pastor of the entire Church, a full, supreme and universal authority. The college of bishops, when united to the Pope, has a similar authority.
3. Church Government and Papal Primacy
The beginning of the Church was a unique and creative act of Christ. The Church was and is both a spiritual and visible society, a communion of persons, which needs constant guidance to realize its mission. Thus, Christ perceived the need that someone should govern, have a primacy over, His Church. Therefore, He conferred that authority on Peter. As the Church was to endure through time until the return of Jesus, that authority or office conferred on Peter necessarily provided for succession. In fact, there has been an unbroken succession of popes from Peter to Benedict XV1, the 265th successor.
The primacy of the Pope, the recognition that he is the universal Pastor with full authority over the entire Church, preserves the oneness of the church by being a sign of unity, and by being a centre of communication, correction and assistance in the Church's mission. The Pope's primacy is one of service, in service of unity.
4. Teaching Office
In order to maintain the Church in the purity of the faith transmitted by the Apostles, Jesus conferred on Her a participation in His own infallibility. "Infallibility" means "immunity from error". It is a gift of the Holy Spirit which protects the Church from error when the Church solemnly defines a matter of faith or morals.
By a supernatural sense of the faith, the People of God under the leadership of the living Magisterium (the teaching office of the bishops) attach themselves indefectibly to the apostolic faith. The pastoral ministry of the Magisterium is ordered, therefore, to safeguard the People of God in the truth. This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it.
To fulfil the teaching office of their pastoral ministry, the Apostles and their successors, the bishops, are given a gift of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The Pope, as head of the college of bishops, enjoys this gift of infallibility in a unique sense. As pastor and supreme teacher of all the faithful, and charged with the responsibility to confirm his brothers and sisters in the faith, the Pope may proclaim as definitive a point of doctrine touching faith and morals.
When the Church, by her Magisterium, proposes something to be believed as being revealed by God in Jesus Christ, a Catholic is obliged to adhere to the definition with the obedience of faith. When the Magisterium proposes something not in a definitive way but so as to help the faithful in a better understanding of God's Revelation, a Catholic is obliged to give to such teaching the religious assent of his spirit.
It is, therefore, the Pope's role, as it was that of Peter, to guide the community of Christ's faithful, to safeguard them in the truth, and to confirm his brothers and sisters in the faith made possible in Jesus Christ."
Fr. Kevin Beach
Most see him as about 275 pounds of dead weight.
I have a problem with viewing any modern man or woman's interpretation as "infallible".
And especially in light of the obvious mis-reading of many Scriptures by the Popes and Bishops, evident in comparing their catechisms to the Scriptures.
It would be nice if it were not so. But in reality, it's true. The most prominent one is probably the adulation that's paid to Mary as though she were God. I even heard a Catholic priest on television say that Mary replaced the role of the fallen angel (Lucifer) in Heaven. Obviously a blatant mis-reading of the Bible. And I think the setup is an abuse of whatever authority God would like to give them. Their claims to "immunity" have gone wayyyy too far, as is evident in so many child abuse cases emanating from the Catholic Church leaders.
I agree! I don't want to bash someone elses religon... but the word says to pray through Jesus... not through Mary! That is my belief as per the word of God!
And I totally agree that they have over-stepped their authority! If someone within their religion sins they should not hide it! Wrong, wrong, wrong!!
It depends on what you mean by "infallible"... parents are infallible in some sense, as are experts of any kind.
And Catholics don't believe Mary is equal to God. I'm not sure what context that priest was talking about, but Catholics don't pray to Mary, they honor her for her obedience to God, they ask her to pray for them (much like you would ask family and friends to pray for you), and celebrate her existence (much like a birthday celebrates yours), but in no way SHOULD she be accorded the same love, devotion, and praise as God. THAT is the official position of the Church
I see your view and raise you this question----
How can a deceased person "pray for you" or for anyone?
Well if you're a Christian you probably believe in heaven, or at least some life after death. This would mean you still possess some form of faculty in order to commune with the creator. It is this communication that we would call prayer.
I disagree, (I believe we'll be praising, not praying; we'll leave the rest up to God by then) ...but okay.
Next question----does not the phrase "Holy Mary, Mother of God" imply equality with God?
No. Holy is merely a title of being in favor with God. Normal men and women nowadays can be considered holy as well. Mother of God is also the title given to Mary because she birthed Jesus, who was God... therefore she is the Mother of God, but that does not make her greater or equal to God. God is a divine person, Mary is a human person, equality cannot be have.
Then why, when I've listened to the teachings of the Catholic Church, are there a zillion sayings honoring Mary, but few honoring Jesus?
Like...oh, what are those recitations called?? lol Anyway....I've heard nuns reciting the words "Holy Mary Mother of God, bless us now and at the hour of our death." And similar stuff repeated over and over. Then, at the end of some of them, there's the line "and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus". The proportion of "Blessings" to Mary far outnumber the Blessings to Jesus.
And (I posted this somewhere else too, so please bear with me if it's a repitition)......
I saw a Catholic priest on tv saying that Mary took the place of the fallen angel Lucifer. That's not only inaccurate, since angels aren't interchangeable with people, but is erroneous as far as placing Mary above other humans too.
Perhaps in that prayer (the Hail Mary), yes they are outnumbered... but the prayer itself is a recognization that the ONLY reason Mary is due such accord is because of relationship with Jesus. Yes, there are quite a bit of titles according to Mary, but the true Catholic will/should admit that Jesus is the focus of our faith and that Mary is only a pathway to lead us to him.
In reality I'll admit that a lot of what Catholics believe can be and is confusing (even to many Catholics), especially to "outsiders". I'll also say that we get a lot of bad press. Really what it comes down is that some people hold beliefs that differ from what the Catholic Church itself teaches... and in some sense they're allowed, and even encouraged to do that. The down side is that they're not always able to express what the true beliefs are, and people (Catholics and Non-Catholics) get confused.
I appreciate your questions!
I'm still not convinced. For one thing, I don't need Mary to lead me to Jesus.
I suppose there are many times, like you said, when the beliefs get confused, but.....why, then, aren't the beliefs listed and the Bible taught moreso than the catechisms? And.....I've been told that Protestants (like me) are considered "separated Brethren", and also that I wouldn't be allowed to take Holy Communion if I visited a Catholic Church. Also, that I'm not sanctioned unless I'm baptized by a Catholic Priest. Also, I don't believe babies go to hell if they're not baptized at birth or confirmation.
Too many differences there for me. I'm simply a born-again person, a Christian. I find the trappings and rituals of the Catholic Church to be unnecessary and judgemental.
In some sense you are "separated brethren", in that you hold different beliefs than us. You are correct, you would not be allowed to take Holy Communion, but that's because when you receive communion in the Catholic Church you are saying that you adhere to all the teachings of the community... it's a matter of integrity. You wouldn't claim to be a vegetarian and then go eat meat all the time would you? In my opinion, there are a ton of Catholics who shouldn't be receiving the Eucharst (including myself sometimes), but thats a touchy and debatable issue. The Catholic Church recognizes Universal Baptism. If you were baptized "outside the Church" it still "counts". The Catholic Church doesn't really believe that Babies go to hell if not baptized, and especially not confirmed. God knows the hearts of those babies and he has mercy on them.
Much of our disagreements have to do with different upbringings, granted. I hope I have shed some light ... and that's fine if you're "not convinced", that's not my goal--I just like dialogue and seeking understanding. In many ways I envy a lot of what Protestants have, but I know i'm supposed to be Catholic. Anyway, now I'm rambling, so I digress.
See, that's what I don't get. The fact that I'm baptized, but not by the Catholic Church, still prevents me from taking Communion in the Catholic Church. That means they must think I'm not right with God. A Christian should be able to take Holy Communion anywhere. But then, even that act is so much simpler in a Protestant Church....
There is so much freedom in just being a simple Christian with no denominational affiliation, no man-made structure that one must adhere to in order to be saved.....
I enjoy that so much!
Thanks for the conversation. I have family who are Catholic, and it's been a point of contention among us before. I finally am a bit more at peace about things because the loved one in question assured me he is born-again, after I told him that that's what saves someone, not whether you're in the Catholic Church or not.
And there goes another question.
Do Catholics even understand and adhere to the principle of being born-again?
I've honestly never seen them do that. Except for that loved one of mine....
I guess its hard for me to understand what you mean by "born again". If you mean, "identifying a moment in your life where you personally committed to an intimate relationship with Jesus", then yes, many Catholics are "born again." If that's not what born again means, then I can't really answer the question. I think the problem is that many Catholics just tend to be more reserved with their emotions, although there is a large movement in the Church that focuses on the charisms of the Holy Spirit, and a lot of those Catholics would maybe identify with being born again.
Yes, that's what it means! To recognize Jesus as Savior, to repent and give one's heart to Him, to allow Him to forgive you of your sins.
And there goes another conflict!--------doesn't the Catholic Church say that a Priest must be the one to forgive a person of sins? Yet the Bible says the only way to God is through Christ, that we must be born again in order to enter Heaven. A Priest cannot do that for ya. So why doesn't the Catholic Church stress that, if that's what it believes?
...We could talk on this subject all day, huh? One issue leads to another....
To err is human and hence all human beings are fallible; only the Creator-God Allah YHWH is infalliable. As innocent men all Prophets Messengers cannot sin or persist on sin; but they could make mistakes including Jesus and Mary.
Popes could also make mistakes and sins.
It says the Pope has 'a gift of infallibility in matters of faith and morals'. It doesn't say that the Pope doesn't sin.
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