There is a Pope, so we should obey him. But what if Christ’s promise to Peter has been taken by some and so warped that it no longer bears any resemblance to the original intent? Should it not be corrected?
I think it should not only be corrected, when abused, but it HAS been! Throughout history, we have numerous examples of good and holy lay people, priests, bishops, and popes who have sought to right the wrongs and correct the abuses.
Our previous Holy Father, JP2, is not the least of these. I think you will find his own pontificate particularly seasoned with humility, restitution and reform.
But, looking further into history, one notices that JP2, while fully sincere, is not so unique. Here are some quotations which I think paint quite an accurate portrait of how the development of the papacy has been marked with rebuke, correction, conversion, reform, renewal, and a return to, as you put it, “the original intent.”
POPE INNOCENT III (CA. 1160-1216)
"The pope should not flatter himself about his power, nor should he
rashly glory in his honor and high estate, because the less he is judged by
man, the more he is judged by God. Still the less can the Roman Pontiff
glory, because he can be judged by men, or rather, can be shown to be already
judged, if for example he should wither away into heresy, because he who does
not believe is already judged. In such a case it should be said of him: ‘If
salt should lose its savor, it is good for nothing but to be cast out and
trampled under foot by men.’" (Sermo 4)
ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, O.P. (1225-1274)
THE “ANGELIC” DOCTOR AND PRINCIPAL THEOLOGIAN OF THE CHURCH
"There being an imminent danger for the Faith, prelates must be
questioned, even publicly, by their subjects. Thus, St. Paul, who was a
subject of St. Peter, questioned him publicly on account of an imminent
danger of scandal in a matter of Faith. And, as the Glossa of St.
Augustine puts it (Ad Galatas 2.14), ‘St. Peter himself gave the example
to those who govern so that if sometime they stray from the right way,
they will not reject a correction as unworthy even if it comes from
"The reprehension was just and useful, and the reason for it was
not light: there was a danger for the preservation of Gospel truth…
The way it took place was appropriate, since it was public and manifest.
For this reason, St. Paul writes: ‘I spoke to Cephas,’ that is, Peter,
‘before everyone,’ since the simulation practiced by St. Peter was
fraught with danger to everyone. (Summa Theologiae, IIa IIae, Q. 33, A.
"Some say that fraternal correction does not extend to the
prelates either because man should not raise his voice against heaven,
or because the prelates are easily scandalized if corrected by their
subjects. However, this does not happen, since when they sin, the
prelates do not represent heaven, and, therefore, must be corrected.
And those who correct them charitably do not raise their voices against
them, but in their favor, since the admonishment is for their own
sake… For this reason, according to other [authors], the precept of
fraternal correction extends also to the prelates, so that they may be
corrected by their subjects." (IV Sententiarum, D. 19, Q. 2, A. 2)
POPE PAUL IV (1559-1566)
"If ever it should appear that any bishop, even one acting as an
Archbishop, Patriarch, or Primate, or a Cardinal of the Roman Church,
or a legate, or even the Roman Pontiff, whether prior to his promotion to
cardinal, or prior to his election as Roman Pontiff, has beforehand deviated
from the Catholic faith or fallen into any heresy, We enact, we decree, we
determine, we define: Such promotion or election in and of itself, even with
the agreement and unanimous consent of all the Cardinals, shall be null,
legally invalid, and void.
VENERABLE POPE PIUS IX (1846-1878)
"If a future pope teaches anything contrary to the Catholic Faith,
do not follow him." Letter to Bishop Brizen
"The opinion according to which the pope, in virtue of his
infallibility, is an unlimited and absolute Sovereign, supposes a totally
erroneous conception of the dogma of papal infallibility. Thus, as the
[First Vatican Council] declared in clear and explicit terms, and as the
nature of things itself shows, this infallibility is confined to that which
is proper to the supreme pontifical Magisterium, which in truth coincides
with the limits of the infallible Magisterium of the Church generally, which
is limited by the doctrine contained in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, as by
the definitions already pronounced by the Magisterium of the Church. (“A
Collective Declaration of the German Bishops,” confirmed by Pope Pius IX)