Do we really need a pope?

The pope guided in his infallibility regarding faith and morals certainly is icing on the cake, especially a pope who sets such an outward and visual example of humility. However, should the pope or any pope ever teach something in error, he automatically excommunicates himself and the faithful are still left with the objective teachings of the Church. So is a pope really necessary since, it would seem, that the only necessity is that the teachings themselves are infallible?

This is my own guess. (again)

We do need a Pope just as a family needs a father.

Can a family cope without a father?.. Yes, but it is missing a very important and needed aspect when it is without one. Makes life sort of lopsided and more difficult in a myriad of ways without one.

That’s my guess.

Yes sheep need a Shepard


If the Church didn’t need a Pope, Jesus wouldn’t have picked Peter to lead His flock and who are we to question God?

I would say that a Pope is necessary to spread the word and lead the Church in an organized fashion. Honestly, if we didn’t have a Pope, there wouldn’t be any dogmas concerning the Truth, and all of the churches throughout the world would define the Bible and early teachings into what isn’t the Truth. Churches would decide to make their own teachings, basically. No one would watch these churches, bishops, priests and so on and be able to see if they were teaching the Truth or doing anything wrongfully. We need to hear the true teachings on faith and morals in order for us to keep the Truth and stay on track.

I know my answer is kind of a blur, but I tried my best to put it into words. :o

If you don’t have a main leader of the Church, how would anyone know what in fact is true on the faith and morals questions? Would a bishop in Germany rank over a bishop in the US for example? The Church has to speak with One voice on these matters. God is a God of order not disorder.

The pope only speaks exceedingly rarely excathedra, infallibly, but some believe it’s a daily occurrence. It’s not.

We believe that Christ, himself, did the first ordinations, if you will, when he breathed on them, giving them authority to forgive sin. After the resurrection, Christ said all power and authority on heaven and earth had been given to him. Jesus turned to Peter and asked him, and him alone, 3 times, to shepherd the sheep. Jesus said Simon would be Peter, the rock on which he would build his Church, that the gates of hell would not prevail against it.

Peter was the apostle’s clear leader in the absence of Jesus. Peter spoke for them, on their behalf. He was always listed as the first, and foremost, apostle. Jesus told Peter that it’d be necessary later that he go back and strengthen his brethren.

When there were any concerns or disputes, when Peter spoke, it was considered final.

Peter’s was the first of the miracles of the apostles.

Christ gave Peter alone the “keys of the kingdom”. Keys are a symbol of authority. Jesus told Peter that what he held bound on earth would be bound in heaven.

Now, when Judas committed suicide, he was replaced by Matthew. These were positions that we’d refer to in our, modern, times as “offices”. When Peter left, authority was passed to someone else.

Do we need a pope? Yes. We need some kind of leadership. When Christ was on earth, he was the leader. When Christ ascended, Peter was the Church’s leader, but Christ never intended his Church to be leaderless.

Some other churches have done away with the pope, only to have their own leaders, their own “popes”, although they don’t use that word, calling them other names, instead. At least, our pope is leading by divine authority.

Now, we believe Jesus is still guiding his Church, even now. Some other churches don’t have any leader, and when they have questions on matters of faith, in these leaderless churches, there is no one with authority to answer these questions, make decisions, or even call a council.

It’s a matter of faith to us, the pope, infallibility. In 2,000 years, we have used this system that Christ, himself, set up. The Catholic Church is actually the world’s longest lasting institution, and we don’t think that’s by accident. People study the Church to find out what its secret of longevity is, but we believe it’s due to God’s guidance.

We take, on faith, Christ’s word. We accept the representatives he has given us. I believe if we reject his representatives, we reject Christ. If we reject Christ, we reject the one who sent him.

The same way the pope would know: The Catechism, Scripture, and Tradition.

It appears to me that the teachings are infallible and if the pope should fall into error or heresy regarding faith and morals, he automatically is excommunicated. The pope cannot for example, start teaching tomorrow that abortion is ok. The faithful would know that it still would not be OK. So we only listen to the Pope so long as he says what we already know, it seems.

A priest and I were just talking about a similar topic the other day. It’s important to have someone “in charge.” Whether it’s the local Pastor for a parish, or the Bishop for a Diocese, a Rector for a Seminary, President for a University, a Primate or President for a Bishop’s Conference, etc.

The buck needs to stop with someone. If someone isn’t in responsible than sometimes no one takes responsibility. Imagine how dysfunctional the military would be if there was no rank. Nothing would get done, especially, if people don’t agree whose job a task should be.

Look at the Orthodox for example. Without a Pope, they have a number of disagreements among themselves (typically minor in the grand scheme of things) that are not resolved. Each “national” Church does its own thing and it’s not uncommon for, example, the Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox to disagree on something. Without a “final voice” or final authority on a subject, an argument can last for years, decades, or even centuries.

That’s my two cents on this without even discussing the religious point of view.

God Bless

The Church has had some bad popes throughout history who did anything other than act as shepherds. Miraculously, the Church still managed to get through those times due to the teachings remaining intact and without error. Had the teachings changed, everything would be dismantled. It would appear that the Holy Spirit guides and protects its teachings from the gates of hell and not so much the person who teaches all the time.

Yes, we do. Look at the problems that the Protestants and Islam are having, for one. :shrug:

The other Christians are split into many different groups. They don’t have a pope.

With the Catholic Pope & one church, it is like Harry Truman once said, “the buck stops here”.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

Whether the Pope is necessary is not the point.

The Pope is part of God’s plan for our salvation. If God had a better, more perfect plan then he would have given it to us.

The Pope is a great gift, part of God’s beautiful gift to mankind. Mary, the saints, the prophets, the Church, the sacraments… all gifts, pearls of great price. If God had something better then he would have given it to us.

Why would we ignore such a gift from God?


We, Catholics, obviously have a pope and we are now seeing (or I’m just noticing) that we are not exempt from being split into many different groups ourselves. I see liberal and conservative Catholics, practicing and non-practicing Catholics, practical atheist type Catholics, and so on.

The bold statement is false. What are your sources for that claim? You may have been getting your information from sedevacantist websites.

The Pope, and the Church, for that matter, can never teach error. They are protected from doing so by the Holy Spirit.

To answer your question: yes, we most definitely need a Pope.

Hum. Can you eloborate? Maybe with an example from history ? I have one. The church has not always been well, at its’ best. One of the Urbans complained because he couldn’t hear the screams of his cardinals loud enough as they were being tortured. What does that do to the church?

Only those who follow the teachings of the Church are truly Catholic.

We sure have at some times had some sorry excuses for Popes in the past. Wheww.

Do you have a source for that statement of history?

Regardless, the Pope can sin all he wants, he’s a human after all, but that does not compromise his authority to infallibly teach (note: not impeccably, or sinlessly act, but to infallibly teach).

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit