Opinion

Catholics should eliminate the papacy

The Pope waves to members of the Vatican in December 2012, two months before announcing his resignation. Image from npr.org

The Pope waves to members of the Vatican in December 2012, two months before announcing his resignation. Image from npr.org

By Steven Barker

Opinion Editor

Since Benedict XVI’s resignation from the papacy on Feb. 11, the Council of Cardinals has been searching for Benedict’s successor. The cardinals should instead consider abolishing the papacy entirely.

Unlike the papacy in the Middle Ages, when the Pope was an arbitrator in the feuds between Christian monarchs and was himself the leader of a Catholic army, the papacy today is a vestige of its former self, a reminder of the former religious and secular authority of an office that currently holds no such power. Despite the history behind its existence, the papacy today holds no practical role that justifies its existence.

Some Catholics will inevitably view this opinion from a fellow Catholic as blasphemy-after all, Catholic doctrine suggests that the papacy was founded by Christ himself. Matthew 16:18 reads: “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” For many Catholics, Christ’s statement toward Peter is the mandate for the papacy. Peter is the symbolic progenitor of the papacy, and all Popes continue his tradition of leadership.

However, there are two substantial faults with this argument. First, Christ, not man, chose Peter as his leader. Christ has not expressly chosen a leader since that time-and while the members of the Council of Cardinals are undisputedly well-versed in the Scripture, they also are human.  As shown in the Garden of Eden, Man is sinful; as shown by the existence of multiple churches, Man misinterprets; as shown by false prophets, Man is misleading. Man can err; Man has erred; Man will err. While the cardinals can predict who would serve as an effective leader of the Catholic Church, the appointment of a Pope is ultimately a secular tradition that lacks a divine mandate for perpetuation.

Secondly, while many Catholics interpret the New Testament to include a succession of Popes beyond Peter, there is no blueprint for papal succession. Gotquestions.org, in their article dedicated to the papacy writes, “Nowhere does Scripture state that in order to keep the church from error, the authority of the apostles was passed on to those they ordained (the idea behind apostolic succession).” The website continues: “What Scripture does teach is that false teachings would arise even from among church leaders and that Christians were to compare the teachings of these later church leaders with Scripture, which alone is cited in the Bible as infallible.” With no mandate from Heaven that supports the continuation of the papacy and no clear Biblical verse that defines the need for a Pope, the office should be eliminated.

As is the case with the Constitution and federal laws, traditions must be revised in the light of greater judgment. The reasoning behind a law’s prior existence is not a sufficient reason for current maintenance, just as how a law’s current existence fails to explain why the law should exist tomorrow. Simply because the papacy has existed does not suggest that the office should continue to exist, especially when the office of the papacy is now defunct.

The Pope, much like the British monarchy, once held unimaginable powers; the Church’s ability to influence nations through religion was once unparalleled. However, again like the British monarchy, the Pope is now a historical antique, a public spectacle that inspires wonder and awe in audiences worldwide but holds little practical value. People admire the Pope and his office for its historical value-how, at one point, the papacy shaped the development of the Western world. That time has passed.

The Pope is no longer the sole champion of Catholicism. Christianity is the most popular religion in the world, and Catholicism is the most popular denomination. The time for religious crusades and excommunications – if there were ever really such a time – has passed. If Catholics need a face for whom they may identify, the face should be that of their immortal God, not of a mortal being.

The Catholic Church needs no secular leader. With the Bible as their text and Jesus as their savior, Catholics, as with all religious devotees, need only adhere to the Bible for salvation. God is the ultimate leader; He is the ultimate Creator. It is to Him that all Christians, Catholics included, must spend their devotion. Despite the Pope’s best intentions to guide Catholics to God, he is a man not appointed by God that impedes and fails to facilitate religious knowledge and, as a result, should have his office eliminated.

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7 thoughts on “Catholics should eliminate the papacy

  1. As a Catholic, I’ll be sending a letter to the editor within the next week or two refuting this article. Know what you’re trying to degrade before you write such an article–obviously Mr Barker knows nothing of the Catholic faith or how we view the Papacy. And don’t propagate your faulty logic and lack of knowledge as truth.

    • What is the pope to you then? Is he higher than God? Because that is what most of you claim and the reason why you refute of this article! There is no logic because before a truth becomes a fact, it is a belief and it only becomes a fact when majority claims to believe in it–majority of the people are Catholics but that does not mean that everything you say is true, now that’s a fallacy. You should no what a social contract approach before you say that this article is lack truth!

  2. Obviously you don’t know what religion is. I get that it is just your opinion, but it is flawed because you base it on fallacy. To criticize a religion one must first be part of that religion. Your fault is that you think you know what Catholicism is, but you obviously have no understanding of the role of a Pope.

    • then what is the role of the pope to you? to be the God of the earth. Isn’t that an idolatry? a fallacy? you should rethink of your understanding what a pope should be…

  3. You are mistaken Steven Baker. The lack of knowledge and expertise you have in this area is laughable. My understanding is that your opinions do not even come from a stance as a Religious Studies Major. Mind you I understand this is an opinion but your opinion should have been caught by your editor in chief and been stopped from being published. Your article; although written in an attempt to question and carefully constructed not to offend has done quite the opposite. Your views DO NOT have any merit, you must first look into the role of the Catholic leader in the Modern World before you use your knowledge of 8th grade history. The role of the Papacy is very important to Catholics. I demand that your editor in chief retract this article and applogize to Catholic students at CSUB and the Bakersfield community for its degrading and poorly constructed article.

    • What is Papacy to Catholics that you are dead serious about it? Is it because you view what the pope believe and it is the way of your life? and if the pope was abolished, Roman Catholic would be the same for all religious sectors aims one goal and it is to worship and serve God not to serve the Pope as a God!

      • Typical response from those who are not catholic with a misunderstanding of our religion. We do not worship the pope nor do we worship saints. If you listen to just people who are ill informed then you too would have that skewed opinion. Do your research, talk to a Catholic Priest, attend their bible studies and conferences then you will know extactly the answer you are asking. The Papacy to catholic’s is has a big role in our religion he is our Shepherd guiding his flock towards the word of God. The Papacy is the rock and the successor to Saint Peter. The Papacy is the diplomat to all leaders for Catholics around the world. I can keep going but like I stated earlier you question because you do not know. Seek the answers you seek to your questions to those with the authority and established knowledge of his role. I doubt you would trust any comment I give you here. I dare not answer your question if the Papacy was abolished. The Papacy is a key componet for Catholics reaching God’s wisdom. Granted you may study and reach that wisdom on your own but to reach that you must question all those with knowledge of his glory and even then you may not reach what you are looking for. That is why it is called Faith.

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