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Christ Instituted the Papacy & Catholic Church

This is the second of several posts in a rebuttal of an anti-Catholic on the faith.  Picollo is not particularly bright but his poison is no less deadly.

PICOLLO:

There is nowhere that a pope is mentioned in the Bible. If it is, show me. True Christainity was restored thanks to the role of Martin Luther.  We had the Reformation (which started in Germany) and he left the Catholic church. The so-called successor to lead the Roman Catholic church was named papal or pope by the pagan Romans. It was at the orders of Caesar that he should lead the Roman Catholic church. I stand to be corrected. There was nothing like the Catholic church during the ministrations of Jesus or of the apostles— NO POPE.

I am happy that the present pope Benedict has come out to decry sexual abuse in the Catholic church of Ireland. 1 Corinthians 7:1-2 says it is better to marry than to burn. In Matthew 26:58, Jesus was taken away; all his disciples left him and fled except Peter, playing the role of a leader of the disciples, and not as a pope to any church.

FATHER JOE:

I doubt that you will stand to be corrected. The papacy was instituted by Christ. There was almost a millennium and a half between the Caesars and Luther. Popes ministered and died with the other early Christian martyrs.  Your timetable is way off and after several centuries of pain, the papacy would be recognized by the emperor Constantine who was sympathetic to the Christians. Catholicism was made a legal religion and eventually Christianity became the faith of the state.  The Bible says as much about the papacy’s institution and tradition affirms the rest. The terms or words used developed or changed in history to express the designation. The Catholic Church was established directly by Christ. She is the Mother Church, the true Church. The foundation stone of the Church is Peter.

The fundamentalist or anti-Catholic will argue that Jesus Christ alone is the foundation of the Church. They insist that Peter was a mere man like us and that he was not even the best of men. Fundamentalists are quick to note that the Lord declared Peter to be “Satan” (Matthew 16:23) when he rebuked Jesus’ prospect of betrayal and death. As for honors, it is noted that Peter rejected Cornelius’ effort to worship him, saying, “Get up. I myself am also a human being” (Acts 10:26). Opponents of the Church become almost hysterical in lamenting that the Pope should pay heed to this admonition when people bow to him and kiss his ring. Other Scriptures often cited are these two: “…for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, name, Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11). “Jesus said to them, ‘Did you never read in the Scriptures?’” (Matthew 21:42).

A more full reading of 1 Corinthians gives us the truth of the passage. Let us look at the previous verse of which 11 is a part:

“According to the grace of God given to me [St. Paul], like a wise master builder I laid a foundation and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it …” (1 Corinthians 3:10).

Catholics would agree that Jesus is the center of our Christian faith; however, this passage is about the accountability of those in God’s service. It is in this sense that it refers to Peter, Paul, and any and all of the other shepherds of the Church. Peter is only a rock in a secondary sense to Christ who is the true foundation stone. The Pope is the visible head of the entire Church, the Vicar of Christ. Christ is the invisible head. Peter and his successors have been given a privileged place in the Church to care for the Lord’s flock. He is to be trustworthy and steadfast like a rock against the storms of sin, of flesh, and of the world. Peter’s failure in appreciating the saving task which Jesus had to undergo would earn him a rebuke; later his denial of Christ would earn him shame. However, despite his weaknesses, he is the one selected out by Christ as the head of the Apostles and the “rock” upon which Christ would build his Church. Note that the roles of the builder and the rock seem to blur or to be interchanged in the Scriptural texts. Something of this becomes understandable if we appreciate the incarnation of Christ by grace in his followers. The Church is holy because Christ is holy. The ministries and works of the Church are also Christs. He identifies himself and his authority especially in his Apostles and in their successors. Note later in 1 Corinthains 3:16: “Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” Later, in chapter 4, verse 1, St. Paul says something which wonderfully resonates with the Pope as the Servant of the Servants of God: “Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries (sacraments) of God.” The business about worship is hardly worthy of a response. We do not worship the Pope. We respect and honor him as an important and holy personage, but no more. Is a man on one knee proposing marriage to his beloved stealing the worship proper to God? No. Is the custom of a man kissing a lady’s hand blasphemous? No. Is the bow rendered to royalty a violation of God’s due? I sure hope not. Again, the anti-Catholic bigot proves he is silly and stumbles over himself in bearing false witness against Catholicism.

Here are some pertinent Scriptures:

[Christ’s promise to St. Peter that he will be the head of the Apostles and visible foundation the Church together with him]

“Simon Peter answered and said, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Then Jesus answered and said, ‘Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to thee, but my Father in heaven. And I say to thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven’” (Matthew 16:16-19).

[Our Lord healed Peter from his thrice denial and makes him shepherd of his entire flock]

“When, therefore, they had breakfasted, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, Son of John, dost thou love me more than these do?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ He said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, dost thou love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A third time he said to him, ‘Simon, son of John, dost thou love me?’ Peter was grieved because he said to him for the third time, ‘Dost thou love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my sheep’” (John 21:15-17).

[Peter confirms the faith of the other Apostles, alludes to papal infallibility in faith]

“But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith may not fail; and do thou, when once thou hast turned again, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:32).