Re: “Catholics Should Eliminate the Papacy”
Last week, the Runner published an opinion piece on why the Papacy should be eliminated. While this piece is meant to be a personal opinion, it is in reference to a major tenet of the Catholic faith. While it is feasible that the author’s opinion is that the Papacy should fall, his view of the Papacy is inherently flawed. He states that it is a “former religious and secular authority of an office that currently holds no such power.” It is true that the Papacy no longer holds secular authority, in that he no longer heads armies or holds political power; however, saying that the Pope holds no more religious authority is a massive fallacy. The Pope is considered infallible in regards to doctrines directly related to faith and morals. This infallibility is considered to be given by God to the Holy Father. When he speaks ex cathedra, or in the exercise of his office as pastor and teacher of all Christians, and defines a doctrine of faith or morals to be held by the entire Church, he is deemed infallible. Also, if Christ gave the office of the Papacy to Peter, He obviously intended the office to exist-not for it to die with Peter. The Apostles, in order to continue the mission entrusted them by God, passed on their power, appointing successors who were proven worthy.. If they did not think the replacement and continuation of the Apostolic line was important, they would not have replaced Judas after Christ’s death-they could have allowed the space held by Judas to remain open, but they chose a new Apostle out of the group of Disciples. The “whole of the Church is apostolic, in that she remains, through the successors of St. Peter and the other apostles, in communion of faith and life with her origin” according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (863, emphasis added).
Abbreviated Reply to Steven Barker
As a Catholic and a frequent guest of the CSUB Newman Club, I was dismayed at Mr. Steven Barker’s anti-Catholic screed, “Catholics Should Eliminate the Papacy” (Runner, 2-27-13, “Opinion”). Mr. Barker wrote, “Catholic doctrine suggests that the papacy was founded by Christ himself” [sic]. In point of fact, this teaching is no mere suggestion. The doctrines of Petrine Primacy and Succession are defined dogmas of the Catholic Church; no Catholic is at liberty to reject them, as they are essential to the Catholic Faith.
Mr. Barker contends, “While the cardinals can elect a Pope, the appointment of a Pope is ultimately a secular tradition that lacks a divine mandate for perpetuation.” Petrine succession to the Papacy is certainly not a “secular tradition that lacks a divine mandate for perpetuation.” Firstly, it is integral to the Divinely instituted office of the Papacy. It is also a dogma of the Catholic Faith: “According to Christ’s ordinance, Peter is to have successors in his Primacy over the whole Church and for all time” (De fide). (Dr. Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma [Rockford, III: TAN, 1974], p. 282).
The title Pope (from Late Greek, papas, derived from pappas, i.e., father) is drawn from this context as well. As Eliakim was to be a father to the population of Jerusalem and to Judah, so the Successors of Peter are Fathers (Popes) to the New Israel.
We invite Mr. Barker to investigate the doctrines of the Church of which he claims to be a member, and to reassess his profoundly negative view of the Papacy. It is among the many blessed gifts with which Christ has endowed His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.