Confused Protestant Has Questions

Just to clarify where I am coming from - I am a Protestant, and I’ve bounced from not knowing anything about Catholicism to hating Catholicism to knowing more than I used to know and suspecting that Catholics have many things right that we have wrong.

I do still have two things that I really have trouble with, and so I’m curious if anyone has good answers to these questions I have. I’m going to be blunt, but I hope no offence is taken! I respect my Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ.

The first is Papal Infallibility. I know it is limited to statements made about a matter of faith and morals ex cathedra. I understand it on a practical level like Fr. Robert Baron explains in his Catholicism series, where the Pope functions as a sort of umpire for the Church. I have difficulty with it being actually true, though. Certainly prior Popes have made mistakes, and I have difficulty believing that Pope Urban II would not have infallibly endorsed the Crusades, for instance, given the opportunity.

What reasons (from scripture, tradition, plain reason, etc) can be given in support of this?

The second is (no surprise, I’m sure!) the position of Mary in the Catholic church. I’m okay with her being the Mother of God, and having a position of special respect. I understand that Hail Mary is echoing the words of the angel to Mary in the Gospels, and that she’s being implored to approach God rather than having special powers herself. However, other Catholic prayers seem much more worshipful - I recall reading one in a Treasury of Prayers booklet given to me by a nun that involved offering up one’s soul to Mary.

What sort of response would a Catholic have to this?

Thank you for your responses and understanding.

I am not even close to a Bible expert and I’m still a recent Catholic, but I’m going to give this my best shot.

The position of the Pope goes back to St. Peter, one of the first apostles. We can clearly see in Acts of the Apostles that Peter is the leader of the early Church, so that does translate back to the Pope being in a position of influence, very visible within the Church. When it comes to infallibility, well, if you want to go by logic, Jesus built his Church on Peter and Peter was the first Pope. If the Church is built upon the Pope, doesn’t the Pope have authority in some sort of way to guide the Church? But humans are certainly fallible and so the Pope cannot be acting alone in this guidance. Therefore it is the Holy Spirit that guides the Pope who guides the Church and it is by the Holy Spirit that he is able to speak infallibly.

Papal infallibility does NOTNOTNOT mean that the Pope is perfect and cannot make mistakes. It means that he has the ability to speak infallibly, by the power of God, at the time when God sees fit for him to.

You seem to have a good idea of how and why Catholics treat Mary. She is the Mother of God. In the olden times, a king’s wife was not the queen, but rather the mother. Because of this, since Jesus is the king of all heaven and earth that would make Mary the queen. So of course she has a special place in both heaven and earth. Although she is not God and it is only by the grace of God that she has this place in heaven and earth, she is still the mother of our savior, the mother of our king, and deserves that recognition.

HOWEVER, I have never heard of offering up your soul to Mary, and that sounds like a misunderstanding to me. A lot of traditional prayers would use old wording, poetic licence, maybe bad translations from Latin, and other things that might be weird. I could help you better if I heard the prayer.
There is a prayer in my Latin missal that says something like “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I give you my heart and my soul” which, as I understand it, means something along the lines of not literally giving them your heart and soul, but rather devoting your life (soul) and love (heart) to them. It’s poetic.

I hope I helped and didn’t just heap a bunch of misinformation upon you.

For your second question, many nuns devote their life to living like Mary. Maybe that is why she offered up her soul to Mary. But I don’t really know the context and her actual words so it is difficult for me to judge this situation. As for Papal infallibility, I have not done much research, and I lack knowledge about this topic so I won’t be much help there (sorry). However, popes are still human and make mistakes and sin, but they are also guided by the Holy Spirit to a great extent. Since popes are in a position of high power, they are targeted and have daily battles with the devil…so that could be the reason for the “bad popes”. I hope someone smarter than me can answer this better for you. But I hope I helped with your first question! I appreciate your honesty and respect for our religion. Good luck and may God bless you with understanding :slight_smile:

Hello! Thank you for asking questions ,and being so respectful about it :slight_smile:

From scripture, we have of of course Jesus setting up Peter as the first Pope, which someone also has stated, it would make sense he would have authority. Also Jesus tells his disciples " Whatever you bind on earth, is bound in heave, and whatever is loosed on earth, is loosed in heaven" and also that the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against the church. So Papal authority makes sense in the case of doctrines and teachings, because if they were false teachings ,then the Gates of hell would’ve prevailed against the Church. Atleast how I see it.

And as for May, as someone else said, allot of the language in prayers are more poetic than theological. We have a deep love and respect for Mary ( that definitely doesn’t equal the love and respect we have for God) and when you love someone, you use beautiful words to describe that love. The english language isn’t perfect though, and its easy to misconstrue, unlike other languages that have different words for different types of love, worship ect ect

Hope this helps! God bless!

The ‘issue’ of papal infalliblity came up at the time of the First Vatican Council. This was the period when the Church was losing all of its territories to the new Italian Kingdom which was being formed.

The pope declared himself to be infallible at this Council - a lot of the prelates present at the Council left Rome as they did not want to vote on the issue.

Of course just because something was proclaimed dogmatic in 1870 does not mean that it was not so before.

I suggest that you read the history of infallibility and Vatican I.

The only infallible statement since the proclamation of infallibility was that of the Dogma of the Assumption, in 1950. This did not mean that the dogma did not exist before - only that it had never been formally defined.

Here is an article published in EWTN which might explain better:

ewtn.com/faith/teachings/papac2.htm

Welcome to the forums. You will receive many wonderful answers here.
At some point I think that it would be interesting to hear from you what you believe we have right that is wrong in the protestant view - but that would be another thread…:smiley:

I do still have two things that I really have trouble with, and so I’m curious if anyone has good answers to these questions I have. I’m going to be blunt, but I hope no offense is taken! I respect my Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ.

:thumbsup:

The first is Papal Infallibility. I know it is limited to statements made about a matter of faith and morals ex cathedra. I understand it on a practical level like Fr. Robert Baron explains in his Catholicism series, where the Pope functions as a sort of umpire for the Church. I have difficulty with it being actually true, though. Certainly prior Popes have made mistakes, and I have difficulty believing that Pope Urban II would not have infallibly endorsed the Crusades, for instance, given the opportunity.

What reasons (from scripture, tradition, plain reason, etc) can be given in support of this?

THIS ARTICLE might help.

For myself, in addition to the usual passages, I find Mt 23:1-3 to be interesting in relation to authority to teach vs personal holiness. We know well how Jesus felt about the lifestyles and even some of the teaching/interpretations of the Pharisees - Yet He supports their right to teach and the obligation of the Jews to follow them (under the old covenant).
From this I gather two lessons…

  1. A sinner can still be a valid teacher
  2. We have an obligation to obey the person that God has put in charge over us - even if they are not the best example of Christian living.

As for the specific example you give…of the Crusades. This is a highly complex subject and one must be careful what things we place at the foot of the Pope.

  1. There is a very real question as to whether this would fall under the narrow scope of “faith and morals”, so it would may not have been an “infallible” call.
  2. The Pope may have called for the action from pure motives - yet it was carried out by many thousands whose motive might have been less than pure. Can we lay every atrocity committed by a soldier at the foot of the Pope?
  3. We must remember that the Pope at that time was both a Spiritual leader and a Worldly leader. This could sometimes cause a blurring of lines and conflicts in the decision making process.

Just some thoughts…

I’ll discuss Mary in the next post.

The second is (no surprise, I’m sure!) the position of Mary in the Catholic church. I’m okay with her being the Mother of God, and having a position of special respect. I understand that Hail Mary is echoing the words of the angel to Mary in the Gospels, and that she’s being implored to approach God rather than having special powers herself. However, other Catholic prayers seem much more worshipful - I recall reading one in a Treasury of Prayers booklet given to me by a nun that involved offering up one’s soul to Mary.

If you haven’t already, Please look at the Church document “LUMEN GENTIUM”, Chapter VIII (paragraph 52 and on) that deals with the Blessed Virgin. In this document the Church clearly explains her role and also gives cautions to the faithful in para 67:
** But it exhorts theologians and preachers of the divine word to abstain zealously both from all gross exaggerations as well as from petty narrow-mindedness in considering the singular dignity of the Mother of God.** Following the study of Sacred Scripture, the Holy Fathers, the doctors and liturgy of the Church, and under the guidance of the Church’s magisterium, let them rightly illustrate the duties and privileges of the Blessed Virgin which always look to Christ, the source of all truth, sanctity and piety. Let them assiduously keep away from whatever, either by word or deed, could lead separated brethren or any other into error regarding the true doctrine of the Church.

Now - as regards prayers and certain devotions that are available, and seem to you to go too far…It is important to recognize that such things, while approved by the Church, are not mandatory. These things are considered “private devotions” and we are free to exercise them or not.
Like you, there are some prayers to our Blessed Mother that I am uncomfortable with. So I simply do not use them. They do not express what I wish to convey to Our Lady.
Likewise with the devotions that call for one to consecrate themselves to Mary. I am sure that these things (again approved by the Church) are great blessings to many…but they are not for everybody. And they are not required.

It can sometimes be difficult to separate out what is to be dogmatically believed and what is optional…and that is where things like Lumen Gentium are such a blessing.

What sort of response would a Catholic have to this?

Thank you for your responses and understanding.

Hope our replies are of some help.

Peace
James

No Pope has ever made a mistake when it came to infallibly proclaiming Doctrine. Ever.

Are you under the impression that the Pope alone decides Doctrine? Catholic Doctrine is formulated by the Magisterium which is a council of Bishops guided by the Holy Spirit and then publicly and infallibly proclaimed to the world by the Pope.

Remember the Pope only exercises his infallibility when proclaiming Teachings on Morals and Faith, nothing else.

In contrast, the crusades, inquisitions etc have nothing to do with infallibility or Doctrine, these are Church affairs or political events where errors in judgement may or may not have occurred. Speculating on whether a Pope would have done something given the opportunity or not is just that speculation, we can speculate on anything.

Hi, Sam, and I add my welcome. As a revert, and a Protestant minister’s wife, I’ve studied these same questions extensively. I will admit, though, that authority, such a stone of stumbling for some, was actually what DREW me back to the Church, so I’ll tackle that first. Please bear with me; because of the hour, I will link to excellent free resources where they are available when possible and trust you to read with open mind and prayerful heart.

Resources for Scripture and Tradition that should be purchased by any serious enquirer into the hows and whys of the Catholic, Christian Faith are the Catechism of the Catholic Church, less than $15 at your local bookstore; Jimmy Akin’s The Fathers Know Best, and Patrick Madrid’s most excellent book, Does the Bible Really Say That? Discovering Catholic Teaching in Scripture.

Authority/Infallibility

http//:www.catholic.com/tracts/papal-infallibility


What about the bad popes? Sometimes, judgement comes to the house of God because of the sinfulness and prayerlessness of the people, or the priests, or both. And, there is an enemy who hates the Church--THIS CHURCH--above all others (don't think so--why copy and corrupt the Mass? Why not a "Satanic Sunday School class"; but I digress). Bad popes still have never issued an infallible statement against the true teachings of Christ; this proves that the Holy Spirit has kept the men from ship wrecking the barque of Peter, this church that JESUS built just as He promised. Praise His Name.

Now, for the Blessed Virgin.

I understand what you are saying about prayers that seem "over the top". However, one must remember that we give the highest worship to God alone (latria). What we believe, do, and say about the BVM is really a reflection about what we think about Jesus. Example. 

Remember the Ark of the Covenant from the OT? And how David went to get it back, but the cart was unsteady, and this *righteous man with really good intentions put his hand out to steady the cart* WHAM! Dead. No man touches the ark of the covenant, which holds the Word of God (10 commandments).............
Who was the ark that held the Word made Flesh? Read about the Ark and God's requirements in the OT, and you'll figure something out The BVM. Also, read Revelation 11  and 12 and see where (who) the ark is now. (Hint: there's a reason we call Mary the Queen of Heaven--St John himself saw her there in an open vision).

What about Mary as the Queen Mother of the King of all Kings? This is clearly foreshadowed in the history of Isreal. 

What about the Assumption? If you were God the Son and could take your dead-or-dying mother to heaven, her body to never know decay, would you? Of course. Also--no genuine claim was made for her body by any early church--because there isn't a body left. Mary *is* with the Lord, Alive in His Presence, making travailing intercession for all those born into the Church. 

Hope this helps, the resources for your questions are here. Peace be with you.
Victoria

Perhaps the answer to papal infallibility is in your comment about Urban II. I also believe he might have declared the crusades an infallible decision in some way if he could have… but he did not. This may be a clear example of the Holy Spirit’s protection of the Church from doctrinal error.

Dear brother in Christ it brings me great joy to see your sincere search for truth. I pray that the Holy Spirit continue to guide you and may He give you the grace, peace, faith and understanding you need in these matters of faith!

I believe the following article may bring some clarity to papal infallibility:

catholic.com/tracts/papal-infallibility

On the matter of Mary I would suggest you look into the various degrees of honor we give to God and the saints. Others here may be able to explain this much clearer but in short we give God and only God the highest degree of honor which is adoration(latria) as the one and only, all powerful and everliving God from whom all things come. We hold the saints in heaven in high esteem and we honor them(dulia) and trust in their intercession and prayer and we see them as heros of Christian Virtue which we hope to gain inspiration from while we ourselves strive to grow in holiness. Now, the virgin Mary has a special place among all the Saints. She is considered higher than all the other saints but nothing compared to God. She is highly honored(hyperdulia) but she cannot and should not be worshiped or adored in any way comparable to God. The virgin Mary has the highest degree of honor of any of the saints but she is still a creature, a humble servent of the Lord(Luke 1:38)

There is so much that can be said about the Blessed Virgin Mary and how she stands out among all creation that if we sincerely meditate on who she is we would not hesitate to echo the angel in saying:
“Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” (Luke 1:28)

And if we opened up to her visitation as she calls us closer to Christ, we too would be “filled with the Holy Spirit” and we would see how her “soul magnifies the Lord” and would fulfill her own profesy that “all generations” would call her “blessed” and “cry out with a loud voice” with St. Elizabeth’s divinely inspired words: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” (Luke 1:41-48)

So Who is This Woman whom all generations should call blessed?

-She is Blessed among all Woman
-She is the Woman of the profecies from the beginning of the bible to the end
-She is Queen of Heaven
-She is the woman who steps on the serpents head
-She Is Mother of God!
-She is a loving mother to Christians
-She is YOUR mother and friend

There is much more to be said about this great and wonderful “woman” but I hope this helps as a starting point

Now, offering our souls to Mary stops being a problem when we begin to realize who she is: Our loving mother whose main vocation is to unite God with humanity, which amazingly happenes within her very womb where God becomes man. So, if God decides to come to us through Mary, would it not be a good and humble idea for us to come to God through Mary as well? If we place our souls in the hands of the “handmaid” of the Lord are we not in our Lords precense and at His service as she guides us to do as He says (John 2:5)

Jesus amazingly sealed his work on the cross by giving us to His mother and giving his mother to us:
“[Jesus] said to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he said to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own… all things were now accomplished” (John 19:26-28)

My friend Our Lord began a good work in the womb of the Virgin Mary and finished His work while uniting us to His blessed Mother and similarly I pray “that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

Thank you! I have been surprised and impressed by all the speedy and excellent replies. I can certainly elaborate on what Catholic-Protestant disputes that Protestants fall on the wrong side of in another thread if that’s something of interest. I’m sorry if that sounds cavalier to someone else reading this - I’ve always believed in being honest about my own group’s shortcomings. If there’s interest, I’ll oblige! :slight_smile:

I accept that to a degree the Protestant position on Peter does not fit with the Bible. Even if we were totally right in dismissing Jesus’ declaration that Peter is the rock on which He will build His church (and I don’t think we are) other verses like John 21 have no other good explanation, and clearly in the history of the church Peter and his successors were uncontroversially awarded some kind of special place in the hierarchy of the church.

I guess I wonder whether or not the Eastern Orthodox position on the Pope is more accurate, that Peter’s position is closer to a first among equals than an absolute monarch. So, the degree of power that the Pope is supposed to have is my stumbling block with that one, not the role of Peter. I still need to read through some of the links you all gave me on Papal infallibility so I’ll see if my question is answered in there. Thank you! :slight_smile:

Also, I do have a B.A. in history and theology so for those of you worrying that I think the Pope personally ordered the Crusades and all that happened, or that Catholics blithely believe every word and deed of the Pope to be infallible, don’t worry! I do not. I perhaps could have picked a better example than Urban II to illustrate my concern. My appologies for any confusion I have caused.

[quote=Robles]On the matter of Mary I would suggest you look into the various degrees of honor we give to God and the saints…
Jesus amazingly sealed his work on the cross by giving us to His mother and giving his mother to us:
“[Jesus] said to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he said to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own… all things were now accomplished” (John 19:26-28) …similarly I pray “that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
[/quote]

I hope you don’t mind me quoting you only partially (I did read the rest of your reply, and am thankful for it) but I had always understood John 19:26-28 in a very practical sense where Jesus was providing for His mother, not giving His mother to the church.

With the B.V.M., I am thankful for your honest responses more than any sort of theological explanation. I accept that the Catholic position on intercessory prayer via Mary & the saints is logically congruent with scripture and tradition. I’ll buy the latria / dualia distinction. I’d admit that Protestants like myself tend to undervalue Mary. It’s the practical outcome that has me uncomfortable.

I remember doing part of my teacher placement in a publicly funded Catholic school, and my kids knew the Hail Mary backwards and forwards, but no other prayers, not even the Lord’s prayer. Anyways, in those moments, I remember Erasmus’ The Shipwreck with great fondness and find it harder to see the use/good in this sort of devotion to the Mother of God et al.

I understand that this sort of feeling is kinda nebulous and doctrines can be true while causing misunderstandings, so that is why I was mostly curious to see how you felt rather than ask for a defence of devotion to Mary.

Again, thank you all for your kind replies. I have no one really to talk to about these things where I am right now, so I appreciate this community.

Papal infallibility is implied in chapter 14, Gospel of John.
Note. The Holy Spirit is infallible. :slight_smile:

Yes, I think there would be interest in such a thread - especially one started by a protestant. If you DO start such a thread let me know.

I accept that to a degree the Protestant position on Peter does not fit with the Bible. Even if we were totally right in dismissing Jesus’ declaration that Peter is the rock on which He will build His church (and I don’t think we are) other verses like John 21 have no other good explanation, and clearly in the history of the church Peter and his successors were uncontroversially awarded some kind of special place in the hierarchy of the church.

Amen. This is one of the keys. We need to look not just as specific Bible verses, but Scripture as a whole and also the history of the Early Church.

I guess I wonder whether or not the Eastern Orthodox position on the Pope is more accurate, that Peter’s position is closer to a first among equals than an absolute monarch. So, the degree of power that the Pope is supposed to have is my stumbling block with that one, not the role of Peter. I still need to read through some of the links you all gave me on Papal infallibility so I’ll see if my question is answered in there. Thank you! :slight_smile:

I think that the EO has some good things to say on this matter. Since you are a “history” person I’m sure that you appreciate the complex situations that led to the East West Schism.
I’m not history Scholar, but it has been my belief for sometime that the dual role of the Pope (Spiritual leader and Temporal leader) that developed after the fall of Rome caused many problems. Spiritual needs and teaching - and temporal needs and ruling can very often conflict. Plus, when there is a natural conflict in the type of person best suited for each position (spiritual vs temporal leader). I am very much amazed that the Holy Spirit managed to protect the Church through all of that.
The EO “model” (where the Emperor ruled with the Patriarch at his side) took care of some aspects of that issue, but came with it’s own set of problems. That is - the Church would tend to be dependent on the civil authorities…so there would still be a tension between the spiritual and the temporal.
Ultimately - I think that Papal infallibility being “first among equals” is something that will need to be better defined in discussion with our Eastern Brothers. I certainly don’t think these are issues that cannot be overcome.

Also, I do have a B.A. in history and theology so for those of you worrying that I think the Pope personally ordered the Crusades and all that happened, or that Catholics blithely believe every word and deed of the Pope to be infallible, don’t worry! I do not. I perhaps could have picked a better example than Urban II to illustrate my concern. My apologies for any confusion I have caused.

No problem…pretty much any example will come with it’s own set of challenges. :smiley: We can find ourselves focusing on the example instead of the larger idea that the example is intended to get at. Perhaps I did that too.
In studying Church history and the “bad popes” (a function of the spiritual/temporal conflict I mentioned earlier) I am amazed that worse things did not occur…a testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit. On a practical level…I think that if a man came to the papal office who was less holy - more concerned with temporal matters - he was not particularly interested in studying or changing Church doctrine. On the other hand, if the holder of the papal office was holy and studious in matters of faith and morals, he did not change teaching lightly or precipitously.

With the B.V.M., I am thankful for your honest responses more than any sort of theological explanation. I accept that the Catholic position on intercessory prayer via Mary & the saints is logically congruent with scripture and tradition. I’ll buy the latria / dualia distinction. I’d admit that Protestants like myself tend to undervalue Mary. It’s the practical outcome that has me uncomfortable.

Yes - I’m Catholic and I sometimes get uncomfortable too with certain devotions.

I remember doing part of my teacher placement in a publicly funded Catholic school, and my kids knew the Hail Mary backwards and forwards, but no other prayers, not even the Lord’s prayer. Anyways, in those moments, I remember Erasmus’ The Shipwreck with great fondness and find it harder to see the use/good in this sort of devotion to the Mother of God et al.

Amen. And I totally agree that such a situation as you describe above is not a good one. Such would not make Our Lady happy. The way to see the good in this is to see it in light of the whole picture of devotion to God. It sounds like you experience was in a school that was failing to show that larger picture. It would seem odd though that would not know the Lord’s prayer since they would have recited it at every mass.

I understand that this sort of feeling is kinda nebulous and doctrines can be true while causing misunderstandings, so that is why I was mostly curious to see how you felt rather than ask for a defense of devotion to Mary.

There is so much to learn…Catholicism ain’t for sissies…:D:p

Again, thank you all for your kind replies. I have no one really to talk to about these things where I am right now, so I appreciate this community.

Glad to have you here. Hope to read more from you.

Peace
James

Hello Sam and welcome to the forums.

Papal infallibility is a development that stems from the Biblical understanding of the actions of the Holy Spirit. (This also extends to church councils.) Jesus promised to send the Spirit, “But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.” (Jn 16:13). The promise was made to the Apostles, and by extension, their successors, the Bishops. Peter was also instructed to"…feed my sheep." (Jn 21:15-19). When Peter was given this instruction, it was with Jesus’ promise made in the previous passage I mentioned. The conclusion being that With Jesus’ promise of the spirit, Peter is guided by the spirit without error.

Consider this: All the writings in the bible were written by men; fallible, imperfect men. Yet the writings, we believe, are without error. We, you and I, both agree on this, I am sure. We can say that it was by the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit that this has been accomplished. This is the same principle being applied to the doctrine of Papal Infallibility; that the Spirit is guiding him to “all truth.”

The Pope remains a fallible, imperfect man. But, when it comes to his divine office in the Chair of St. Peter, he cannot err in matters of faith and morals as he is guided by the Holy Spirit in such matters.

Subrosa

Two things about this: 1. The Crusades were not a matter of faith or morals, so this topic does not apply. 2. If the Crusades didn’t happen, we would all be Muslim.

I suggest you do some homework if you think the Crusades were an unjust war.

Subrosa

Saints are those people who, by God’s grace, have come to be in His presence. Mary is Queen of all of them , and by extension, us, here on earth. (Rev 12:1-5, and especially vs. 17) Three Greek words used in the Catholic Church are Latria, Dulia and Hyperdulia. Latria means “worship” and can only be applied to God. Dulia means “veneration”, a high form of respect and reverence. This is applied to the saints in general. Hyperdulia is the highest form of respect given only to Mary.

This is due, according to Tradition, to Mary’s total submission to God when the angel Gabriel told her that she would bear a child. She had the option to say no. The Church Fathers propagated the idea that Mary became the new Eve, reversing Eve’s sin by bringing Jesus into the world. They say, in fact, that she became the co-mediatrix, along with her Son, because of her “yes.”

In the Catholic viewpoint, for this we owe her a great debt. ALL prayers to Mary reflect our respect and admiration for her submission, even the ones that seem over-the-top to your eyes. None ever reach the level of worship, which is due to God alone.

Subrosa

:thumbsup: The reason the pope can speak infallibly is because the Holy Spirit speaks through him. This is the reason orders by the bad popes could never have been spoken infallibly- because the Holy Spirit simply wouldn’t allow their orders to be spoken infallibly.

Tied to the topic of infallibility - in a somewhat broad sense…is the topic of Church unity.

While there can certainly be discussions as to the proper understanding of papal infallibility, we can be much more certain about Scripture’s view on unity.
Scripture speaks of a profound unity, to be one as Jesus and the Father are one…to be or one mind, to praise with one voice, to avoid dissension etc. Mt 18:15-18 gives instructions to “tell it to the Church” and then to listen to the Church. The Book of Acts shows these instructions in action in Chapter 15.

The structure of the Church (east and west) that evolved over time reflects that prayer of Christ. Far from being a monolithic, top down hierarchy, the structure of the Church actually allows for much discussion, debate, learning, discerning, and growth. It provides a structure that keeps all this effort properly focused, taking into account all of the past teachings and inspirations of the Holy Spirit. Such discussions can ebb and flow at many levels for quite a long time before anything “dogmatic” is declared by the Church.

Naturally a part of such structure is having a “point man”. However, it doesn’t mean that he acts entirely alone or precipitously. Instead he prays, discusses, reads, researches, prays and discusses some more - and in the end he might choose NOT to make any sort of “ex cathedra” statement. Mostly - especially in the more recent history of the Church - the desire is to build consensus in Truth.

This is yet another aspect of Scripture that feeds into this whole idea of the office of Pope and the protections afforded it by our Merciful God.

Sam43232, I suspect that one of the things that you find frustrating about the “protestant model”, as I call it, is this lack of the ability to come together and resolve doctrinal differences.

Peace
James

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