Is the Pope exempt from Matthew 18:15?

15 "And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.
16 "But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.
17 "And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer.
(Mat 18:15-17 NAS)

If the sinning brother was the Pope (say, one from the middle ages), would this verse apply?

If the Pope is put in a position that makes him inaccessible for private conversation with an average layman Catholic, doesn’t that mean the Church has put a stumbling block in the way of individual Catholics obeying this command of Christ?

If a sinning Pope is not the “sinning brother” Jesus talked about here, please justify exempting the Pope from this passage.

No, the Pope is not exempt from Matthew 18:15. In fact the very first Pope was confronted in this manner:

And when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong. For, until some people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to draw back and separated himself, because he was afraid of the circumcised. And the rest of the Jews [also] acted hypocritically along with him, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not on the right road in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of all,m “If you, though a Jew, are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

  • Galatians 2:11-14

A Pope is infallible in matters of faith and morals meaning that he will not teach error since his teaching office is protected and guided by the Holy Spirit. While Popes are infallible they are not impeccable, Popes can sin and can live lifestyles not in keeping with the holiness to which they are called.

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