Pope: too bossy?


My wife was confirmed a month ago, I got baptized this Easter and my kids (ages 18mo and 6mo) are getting baptized this Sunday. My extended Baptist and Presbyterian family is trying to talk us out of it. I’ve been able to defeat most of their arguments – they’re the same issues that I had to figure out :wink: but now they’ve got a new objection that I’ve not heard of before and they’re planning on springing it on us durring my children’s post-baptism party. (We reserved the “Pope room” at a local Italian resturant :thumbsup:)

EDIT: The objection is that historicaly and in the present day Popes have used their authority badly.

Thinking of B16, he commanded us to practice lectio divina if we want the church to flourish. He commanded us to drop limbo. He gave us increased access to the Latin mass. He’s also offered countless exhortations to pray, be holy, etc… but nothing that chafes a well intentioned Christian.

Can anyone put this in a broader context for me? Any threads or articles?

Thanks in advance! :thumbsup:


He commanded us to drop limbo.

**He didn’t command this. Limbo was never a matter de fide; I’ve checked with several priests and one Trappist abbot about this. It was ALWAYS never more than a theologoumenon (theological opinion), even if a widely-held one.

If you will read the CCC, it says in so many words that all we can do is entrust babies who die unbaptized to the mercy of God–and all the more reason to do our best to see the little ones are born-again in the Holy Font.**


While the Old Covenant was still in effect, the Scribes and Pharisees, who sat on Moses’ seat, used their authority badly. Nevertheless, Jesus told the Jews to practice and observe whatever they told them. (Matthew 23:2-3)

Under the New Covenant, the bishop of Rome (the pope) sits on Peter’s seat, as steward over the Master’s household, the Church. If a pope uses his authority badly, we are still to practice and observe whatever he tells us. The Master will deal with him as his conduct deserves when He returns. (Luke 12:41-46)

St. Paul says:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (Romans 13:1-2)

The author of Hebrews says:
Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Hebrews 13:17)


I think their claims are just an example of a very common Protestant mindset - the rejection of any authority outside of themselves and their personal understanding of what God is telling them. In this respect Catholics (the non-dissident ones, at least) are much more humble than Protestants, since we submit to “mere” humans who we believe have been given authority and guidance by God.

In general, a good approach to any such charge is to go back to the apostles. Would they also have rejected the “bossy” apostles who met in Jerusalem for the first Church council? For that matter, would they reject all that “bossy” scripture written by mere humans?


Personally, I’d let it be known before the baptism that the baptism and party are a joyous occasion and a day for your children and your family to rejoice and celebrate.

Anyone who cannot share that joy should not come, and anyone who “springs” anything at the party will be asked to leave immediately.

I would not put up with ANYONE who would be so rude and completely violate all sense of polite manners and my personal boundaries. I would not debate church theology, hierarchy, or anything else at a party to celebrate my children’s baptism.

If you don’t want to do it, I’ll do it for you. I’m so appalled I can’t even tell you. You are PAYING for a party at an Italian restauran and they want to disrespect you in this way? NO WAY.


Well, Benedict did not “command” us to drop Limbo, he did not “command” us to practice lectio divina. He did allow more access to the “Latin Mass”, he does encourage us to pray, specifically pray with the Scriptures, be holy, work for peace, live a moral life, follow the comandments of Christ, etc.


Ok then, I’m going with no “recent Papal commandments to speak of.” My wife says she think’s they’re getting the Pope-authority-phobia from Oprah’s current book club. From what my wife tells me it’s big on feelings and light on facts.

What I’m trying to avoid is me not knowing some vital piece of history. Thanks again.:smiley:


The question really isn’t “Is the Pope too bossy?” The question is “Did God establish the Church and the Papacy as an authority for his followers?” Because if he did, then there really isn’t any question at all about whether or not we should listen to the Pope, no matter what he says.

I think a lot of people try to avoid the second question by focusing on the first. They go to great lengths to point out all of the horrible or seemingly horrible things that Popes have done over the centuries as proof that we don’t have to listen to the Pope or the Church. They completely forget that throughout the Bible God gave authority to many different people and groups and those people and groups often failed to live up to his expectations. Yet never once did God say, “Well, he did something bad, so you don’t have to listen to him anymore.”


Big misconception of most Protestants is that the Pope imposes his authority in a master-slave relationship. In truth, he lovingly proposes solutions as a father instructs his children. The children have the free will to accept or reject his propositions.


For the curious, this is Oprah’s current offering of fluff:



Hi Steadfast.

Your family does not know the half of it! Not only have they made mistakes; there were downright bad,bad popes, just as there were some saints, and some ordinary guys who were either bad or good administrators. How about St. Peter who once disowned Christ and whom St. Paul had to call to order on his behavior with non-Jews?

The answer is SO WHAT? The questions is whether the Catholic Church is the true Church that Christ promised to be with until the end of time and whether the pope has authority over it. Jesus never promised that individuals, be they popes, bishops, priests or laypeople would be fautless. Amen.


You’ll probably want to define for them the differences between “infallibility” and “impeccability”. Popes have the power of infallibility, meaning that when specifically pronouncing on an article of faith and morals, they cannot make an error. Further, that infallibility is limited to that circumstance ONLY. Popes are NOT impeccable, meaning that they are fully capable of sinning just as any other person on earth, and as mentioned above, there have been a few popes that have been notorious sinners in their private lives. This does not negate the fact that they never taught error, at least in regard to faith and morals.


I can’t agree more . If they plan to disrupt the celebration or questioned the authenticity of the Baptism, I first wouldn’t invite them if I knew in advance. If they did come and started to do that, I also would politely but firmly ask them to leave !



I agree with this as well, though I’m sure that with family this sort of thing can be tricky.
If anything is brought up, you can always tell them you will be happy to discuss the issues with them another time, but that the Baptismal Party is not the appropriate venue. Then offer a toast to His Holiness Pope Benedict VI, That he be guided in all truth and wisdom as he leads God’s Holy People.

As to the issues, others have already hit the lighlights.
If the Pope is too bossy, it’s only because he is the boss?
If you and your family were not willing to submit to that authority you would not have become Catholic. One does not become catholic based on the goddness of the pope, but on the validity and authority of the Church and Her teachings. So really their argument is moot.
If it is their hope to “spring” some evidence of “bad, bossy popes” it will most likely be from poor sources preaching poor history, that is poorly backed up.

I hope all goes well for you and yours.



I think that this is the very best course of action. Tell 'em if they don’t like it, be off w/'em and that they are free to put any of that in writing after the fact, but that you guys will brook no sort of attempt to sully what is a holy and happy day.

It’s time for them to begin to act like adults, respect your faith and if they can’t do that then they need to avoid being around Catholic functions. You might point out that this is the very kind of behavior and harassment that makes some Catholics hostile to any aspect of n-C faith sharing, and that it is a very poor “witness” for Christ in any event.

If anyone so much as opens their hole to offer any kind of a-C argument that day just look 'em dead in the eye and ask them to leave. They may think that is a bit harsh, but it’s nothing compared to what they are talking about doing to you guys on such a blessed occasion.
Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum.


So what’s their problem? They don’t recognize his authority and the pope has no army or police force to enforce anything he says. Your family chooses to accept his spiritual headship. Is that any skin off your relatives behinds? I doubt it. Everyone is free to take or leave what the pope might say. If there are spiritual consequences the price will be paid in the next life.

The only recent things that might come up would be the documents issued by John Paul II and Benedict dealing on salvation being only through Jesus as mediated by the Catholic Church or the statement on there being only two Churches with valid sacraments the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox. Someone else may be able to name those documents. They would be on the Vatican web site.


“Feed my lambs…Feed my lambs…Feed my sheep.”

The Holy Father’s authority isn’t an abuse of power. He is guiding and protecting us as the Vicar of Christ on Earth.


Sounds like Buca di Beppo. Only been once, it was great. Enjoy!

I alway tell 'em that arguing theology is bad for the digestion.


Pardon me for asking, but if this is the case …

… Then, why are they still on the guest list?

They don’t have to like Catholicism to be invited. They can believe or disbelieve whatever they want and still attend. But if they’ve already told you that they plan to denounce your religion in public when attending as guests at YOUR party for an event significant to YOUR religion, why on earth would you let them come?


Wow so many good posts, so little time. First of all, yeah I’m aware that I’m within my rights to uninvite them or give them the third degree, we’ve already stopped going to family events for the most part and our lives are much nicer for it. But… at the same time part of being a Catholic husband means living my vocation. According to my Archbishop, my family needs to be visible. We need to “let our light shine.” The joy that God has given my family in the last few years is not ours to hide under a bushel or bury in the sand – it’s ours to share.

Thanks again everyone for your insight. I think that I’ve got enough kernals of wisdom on this topic to derail the celebration for hours :rolleyes:. But seriously, I hope that with some gentle prodding I can keep everyone in the spirit of celebration. As much as they bellyache, they have a genuine intrest and admiration for some aspects of the Church. Becides, it’s not like I didn’t act like a clown before I knew better. :blush:

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