Hey, everybody. I’m new to this forum, and I have a LOT of questions about Catholicism, so I hope you can help me out . I was raised an Episcopalian, and I still attend that church with my family when I go home, but over the last few months I have begun to yearn for a return to the “ancient” church. I’m attracted to Catholicism because of the sense of unity that it promotes, as well as the idea of the Real Presence in the Eucharist. I attend a Catholic Church here at school (UNC-Chapel Hill…go Tarheels!) that I absolutely love; partly becuase it is so similar to an Episcopal service, partly becuase it is a service that is geared towards college students, and partly because the priest is an awesome guy.
That said, there are several issues that I have with the Church that make me hesitant to embrace it more fully. One of these issues is the immense amount of power that the Pope wields. I just have a hard time believe that Jesus ever intended Peter to function as an infallible spiritual monarch who has the power to bind the conscience of all of his followers. Such an idea diminishes the roles of the other Apostles, and even the idea of Jesus as the Head of the Church. Peter wasn't exactly a model of wisdom; Jesus calls him "Satan" after granting him the 'keys to the kingdom of heaven.' And Peter was married, which certainly isn't bad, but is interesting in light of the whole priestly celibacy deal. So my question is: was Peter meant to be the universal head of the Church? After reading on a few Orthodox forums, I'm under the impression that the centuries after Jesus' death were a time in which the Roman bishop sought to consolidate increasing amounts of power. This "grab for power" culminated in the split in 1054. Orthodox Christians lead one to believe that the *original* Church was comprised of 5 different churches in Antioch, Rome, Syria, and two other places. Each church was headed by a bishop, but they all cooperated on matters of doctrine and administration. The Roman church split from the others becuase it wanted more power, which leads some Orthodox to call the Pope at that time "the first Protestant.' Another point of contention is the idea that new doctrine is "revealed' to the Church throughout history as an expansion of the 'depositum fidei' or however you spell it. Is this not merely a means by which the Pope can justify the implementation of new doctrine on a whim by claiming that it was revealed to him by God? What if something is revealed that contradicts previous doctrine? Is the previous doctrine no longer valid? Orthodox Christians claim that they do not add or subtract new doctrine, but have maintained the original principles of faith as granted to the Apostles by Jesus. This seems to be a more solid base upon which to build one's faith. There are lots of things that I don't understand about Orthodox Christianity either, however; the idea that the Father is more important than the Son and Holy Spirit makes no sense. Neither does the idea that God, Mary, or the saints are somehow incarnate in icons, man-made pieces of wood before which one bows and kisses and prays. Please don't think that I'm bashing the Catholic Church or supporting the EOC. I'm inexplicably drawn to Catholicism, but part of my journey of faith involves questioning. I'm just grateful that God has planted within me the desire to know more about Him and the ways in which we seek to know Him. Any thoughts that you have on any of these subjects are greatly appreciated! Peace, Chris