This is a huge stumbling block for people and I don’t see why. Let’s start with the hardest part. The Pope can be infallible according to Catholics. The Orthodox and the Protestants reject this idea. I don’t think that they really do reject it, because it doesn’t mean what they think it means. And I’ll tell you why. When Catholics say that the Pope is infallible, it is only when he is speaking in ex cathedra (literally, “from the chair”). This has only happened 7 times in 2000 years. All this means is that when the Pope speaks ex cathedra, he is being guided by the Holy Spirit, much as any prophet in the Bible would have been. When the Holy Spirit is guiding you with prophecy – the Holy Spirit cannot be fallible. God is not fallible. God is the only one who is not fallible. And as we talked about before – we are all called to be prophets. The Holy Spirit can choose anyone to speak to. Would that all of Christianity were prophets! As the spiritual descendant of Peter, the Pope is more likely to have his heart open enough to be able to prophesize. That is all that that means. It doesn’t mean he is the only one and it doesn’t mean his every utterance.
Now, the Protestants believe that the Pope has no authority whatsoever. The Orthodox believe that the Pope as the Bishop of Rome has the importance of honor but not jurisdictional authority. The Catholics believe that he is the spiritual decedent of Peter. So waaaaaay different. Um, not so much.
All of these things have to do with authority – who is in large and in charge. Now, the Protestants have no overarching authority over all of the denominations which has led to – sorry, must be said, chaos. There are over 45,000 different denominations. Divide that among the 900 million Protestants and that is approximately 20,000 people per denomination all going in a different direction. This is not a good thing! We need to reign in the people who are putting out false teachings and leading the people astray, but in order to do that we need some kind of people or person who’s soul job is keeping on top of this.
This brings us to the Orthodox Church. They keep things together and working towards the betterment of God’s people by councils of bishops, of which the Pope is one, the Bishop of Rome. Works well.
Now, the Catholics believe that he is the spiritual descendant of Peter to whom Jesus gave the Keys of Heaven. There have been talks for years of the Catholics and the Orthodox Churches merging again. I think that would be a great thing! I think that would be a step in the right direction of the ultimate goal of having all of God’s children under one roof again. As a Catholic, I find nothing wrong with the spiritual descendant of Peter being a voice in a group of voices trying to help guide Christianity by the Power of the Holy Spirit. When asked who is the greatest among the disciples, did He say Peter? No.
“25So Jesus declared, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in authority over them call themselves benefactors. 26But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.” – Luke 22:25 – 26
Having the Pope serving among the people would not really be much different than what he is doing now. There are 1.2 billion Catholics and 260 million Orthodox and 900 million Protestants. I think the Pope would enjoy all of the help he could get. Because, you see, it is not about who’s in charge. It is not about the power. Those are worldly things. It is about, what it has always been about, leading people to God. I think that if we can come back together, have a real Family Reunion then think of all that we could accomplish for God by pulling together instead of pulling away from each other.
Yeah, not all of it will be easy. A family getting together for the holidays will show you that. But like a family getting together for the holidays, yeah, sometimes it can be difficult, but it is the love that strengthens those bonds. It is the love that no amount of squabbling will separate them. When push comes to shove a family will hang together against any foe.
We can come together. We can have a Family Reunion.
Let’s be a real family again.
Peace be with you.