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Another Argument About the Pope

REBECCA: Catholics claim that the Pope is the visible head of the church and “Holy Father,” “Vicar of Christ,” “Sovereign Pontiff.” All of these are titles that rightly belong only to Jesus and to God.


Your last question was about the institution of the priesthood. Now you switch gears and attack the papacy. Evidently, your questions are not sincere but merely apologetic ploys to attack the Catholic faith.

We speak about God, particularly in the Mass, as our Father most holy. Indeed, he is thrice holy, as expressed in the Sanctus; he is the source of all holiness. The use of “Holy Father” for the Pope is no absolute usurpation of the tile. It is merely that the Church sees herself as a family and her ministers as spiritual fathers. While the Pope, as successor to St. Peter, is the visible head of the Church; the true albeit invisible headship is that of Jesus Christ. The title, “Vicar of Christ,” belongs uniquely to the Pope as it would make no sense to call Jesus his own vicar. At one time in the evolution of the title, the Pope was called the Vicar of Peter. However, in meaning, it amounted pretty much to the same thing. Christ is the Redeemer and the great Pontifex or Bridge between heaven and earth. He gives us access to the Father. The use of the word Pontiff for the Pope is an immediate connection with the “keys of the kingdom” given the chief apostle by Christ. Nothing is taken away from our Lord by the Church; but you would strip her of the leadership commissioned by Christ.

REBECCA: There is not a single instance in the Scriptures where any of the above titles are applied to a man. The term, “Holy Father” is used only once in the entire Bible, and it is used by Jesus in addressing God the Father.


The Church was something new. Stop playing word games and look at the truth. The history of the Church did not end with the Bible; rather it began there. There is ample evidence that unique authority was given St. Peter. Matthew 16:18-19:

“And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. 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.”

When St. Paul addresses the Corinthians, he applies the title of “father” to himself: “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (1 Corinthians 4:15). The use of the word “holy” signifies the holiness of the papal office. The Pope is called Holy Father precisely because of the divine charge given the Church and the particular protection given the apostle by Christ. The Pope is Holy Father only because God is our Father Most Holy. The early Church called all the members of the Church by the label “saint.” The word for holy and saint is essentially the same. Because of their charge over the Eucharist and to forgive sins, priests are sometimes called, “holy fathers.”

The last bit of your comment is what you intended to say all along. You hate the Catholic Church and associate the Pope with the anti-Christ. But the false teaching is yours. You join your voice to all the worldly opposition to Christ and his Church. The devil must surely laugh that he can have you fight against the Lord to whom you claim to have faith.

REBECCA: When one searches the Bible from cover to cover, he finds only one passage which gives an indication of a vicar of Christ or God. It is 2 Thess. 2:3-4 where it says, “Let no one deceive you in any way, for the day of the Lord will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and is exalted above all that is called God, or that is worshiped, so that he sits in the temple of God and gives himself out as if he were God.”


The Thessalonians suffered under Dionysian seers or false prophets. What is prophesied here is a certain blasphemy either of the pagan emperor or of an anti-Christ figure. The emperor wrongly claimed godhood. This is not the role of a steward or vicar. We have many shepherds who participate in the authority and service of the Good Shepherd. The Pope does not seek worship toward himself but for the one true God. Christian worship always takes note of the Lord’s Supper and the Cross.

The charge given Peter is definitive; it is reaffirmed after the resurrection when our Lord heals the chief apostle (given his recent denials) and he is again told to lead and feed the flock of Christ. This charge is passed on for as long as the Church continues in existence. Read John 21:15-19:

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He then said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” [Jesus] said to him, “Feed my sheep. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

3 Responses

  1. I’m glad no one uses the bible to be demeaning or defensive with each other but instead always loves their neighbor as themselves.

    FATHER JOE: Huh?

  2. The Orthodox refer to the Patriarch of Constantinople as His All Holiness and also as a Holy Father. It is similar to the Catholics calling the Pope His Holiness and Holy Father. The Catholics and Orthodox have it right!

  3. Same old arguments over and over again. Do they never get tired?

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