The Authority and Legitimacy of the Pope


#1

My girlfriend is protestant and she has a major problem with the Pope and his teaching authority. I’m not really sure how to approach the subject. She has no problem believing that Peter was an important person, but what she argues about is how the succession after him is legitimate. She falls back on the theory that no where in the bible does it say that Peter has the power to pass on that special ability that Christ gave him. She also points out that the Pope is human, and that there is no way that he can be infallible because of that, and also that since the Pope is “elected” by humans there is room for error.

I really never know what to say or better yet, how to say it. I’m working on a letter to her and her family regarding Tradition in the Church, and if it sinks in and they accept it, it might make it easier…I just don’t know. Any suggestions?


#2

I suggest that you obtain a copy of the Catechism to have a ready resource. I have a feeling that this will not be the only question your girlfriend has with regards to the Holy Spirit’s influence on mere mortals,


#3

[quote=emsvetich]I suggest that you obtain a copy of the Catechism to have a ready resource. I have a feeling that this will not be the only question your girlfriend has with regards to the Holy Spirit’s influence on mere mortals,
[/quote]

I considered purchasing a copy, but there seem to be so many, I don’t know what to get, Amazon.com has tons of stuff…Is there any place I can go online to read it?


#4

Hey Zach, there’s a great online edition that has a search engine that works really well Here That should help until you get a copy of your own. The best one is the current one and I think CA sells it in their online store though I’ll bet that your parish will have them and maybe even give you one if you look into it. Call the parish office and ask for the head of Faith Formation. The compact paperbach edition is only like 8 bucks.

BTW there are great FREE Catholic Courses available from The Catholic Home Study Service and I highly recommend them to you and your girlfriend. A great beginning is "We Believe…"
Pax tecum,

P.S. Have a look at these articles on The Papacy


#5

The first thing you must explain to our Protestant brethren is how Catholics read and understand Holy Scripture. We read it in a literal or contextual sense. We do not read the Bible in a literalist sense. The difference is that we read the Bible with an understanding of the times, the place, the language and the customs and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If one is a literalist, they will look for specific words…and what the Bible says is what it means. A good example to explain the difference would be, if I say to you “It is raining cats and dogs” you will know that I mean it is raining really hard. But 1000 years from now, unless they understand the context in which that phrase is used, if they are a literalist, they will think dogs and cats were falling from the sky.

First, begin by saying that the Catholic Church is Apostolic, in that Jesus chose special men to be His Apostles (Jn 15:16). Jesus then gave these Apostles His own mission (Jn 20:21). He gave them a kingdom (Lk 22:29-30).
Jesus established (built) a Church, specifically on Peter, the rock (Mt 16:18). In John 10:16 it speaks of one shepherd to shepher Christ’s sheep, and in Luke 22:32, Peter is appointed to be the chief shepherd.

In Eph 4:11 it speaks specifically that Church leaders are hierarchical. In 1 Tim 3:1, 8, 5:17 identifies the roles of bishops, priests and deacons.


#6

[quote=zachattack05]She also points out that the Pope is human, and that there is no way that he can be infallible because of that, and also that since the Pope is “elected” by humans there is room for error.
[/quote]

  1. The pope is not infallible, the office is. (For proof: the pope has no guarantee of infallibility when speaking as a private person.)And only so in a very limited sense, when defining and declaring doctrine related to faith or morals for the entire Church Catholic to hold to. It is actually quite a limited charism.

  2. The Pope is externally elected by human beings. Scripture was externally written by human beings as well. This does not allow us to “see” how the Spirit moves or wills.

As for apostolic succession: I recommend hooking her into the Eucharist, which will make it come naturally. The Eucharist requires priests, and priests require apostolic succession. Badda bing, badda boom. There’s more than one way to skin a cat.


#7

The authority and legitimacy of the Pope is based on Apostolic Succession. We trace that through both the Sacred Scriptures and Sacred Tradition.

In Sacred Scripture, or what the Protestants only refer to as the Bible, you may refer to:

2 Chr 19:11 - high priest is over you in everything of Lord’s
Mal 2:7 seek instruction from priest, he is God’s messenger
Eph 2:20 Church built upon foundation of apostles and prophets
Eph 4:11 God gave some as apostles, others as prophets
1 Cor 12:28 - 29 God designated in church: apostles
Acts 1:20 let another take his office
Acts 1:25 Matthias takes Judas’ apostolic ministry

You mentioned your girlfriend’s objection to the college of cardinals’ election of a successor to St. Peter. You need to emphasize to her that this is not just an election of who is the most popular guy in school. These men are guided by the Holy Spirit. If she brings up those times in the Church’s History when the men elected have been done so as a show of power by the secular governments of the day, tell her this is so, but just as Jesus promised us that the gates of Hell would NEVER prevails against His Bride, the Holy Mother Church has never been harmed by these men…they have never altered or harmed doctrine or dogma.

When she asks again about Papal infallibility…remind her that there is a difference between infallibility and impeccability…and that even the Pope has a confessor.

My prayers are with you.


#8

This is a hard conversation with any protestant, I was once one, now I am Catholic.

The first thing for you to understand that you are not going to win.
I used to carry around 95 reasons why the Catholic Church is not Christian. As a protestant, I would go down that list and check my boxes, it was ingrained in me that the Church was wrong, and nothing was going to change my mind.

I would adress each issue one objection at a time, you have all the resources here on catholic.com to answer any question thrown your way.

Instead of proving to her that the Church is right, I would ask her questions that would make her think.

I would teach her that the Pope is only infallible when he speaks from the seat of peter, which has only been done a handfull of times. When Protestant here that the Pope is infallible they think sin free, and that is just not the case.

I would then ask her besides infalliblity what church doctrine does she disagree with?

Now my question to you is this, if your gf does not see or agree with your faith, how are yall going to decide how to raise your kids if both the parents do not agree on their faiths?

Baptist are baptist bc it suits there needs, each protestant church fits different needs of each individual.

The king of England wanted a divorce, and the Church would not grant him one, so he formed his own church, leaving the imprtance of the sacrament of matramony behind.


#9

[quote=zachattack05]My girlfriend is protestant and she has a major problem with the Pope and his teaching authority. I’m not really sure how to approach the subject. She has no problem believing that Peter was an important person, but what she argues about is how the succession after him is legitimate. She falls back on the theory that no where in the bible does it say that Peter has the power to pass on that special ability that Christ gave him. She also points out that the Pope is human, and that there is no way that he can be infallible because of that, and also that since the Pope is “elected” by humans there is room for error.

I really never know what to say or better yet, how to say it. I’m working on a letter to her and her family regarding Tradition in the Church, and if it sinks in and they accept it, it might make it easier…I just don’t know. Any suggestions?
[/quote]

Think about what it would take for YOU to become a protestant.

Then reverse it.

The amount of convinving it would take for you to change will have to be the (roughly) same amount for her.

Think about definitive proof against her denomination.

Then show that it can never be correct to have all different denominations differing on small points.

Then ask if there has been a Church which has existed since the beginning.

Dont ask her to pray about it. In her mind she is correct. Ask her for help understanding the conflicting points about her religion, then show her the errors.

We can not give you any specific points. You know your gf much better than any of us.

However. We can all pray, and you especially can pray the rosary.

Not much more to say.

In Christ.

Andre.

p.s the above point about the Eucharist is very important. The central focus of our faith ,and thus the one issue that if proven correct will bring all other barriers crashing down. Do most of your work on this one.


#10

Thank you all very much! I really appreciate all of your advice and prayers. I deeply love and care for my girlfriend, but deep in my heart I know that my faith is correct and it has been difficult for me to justify my faith to her…I am just inarticulate with the words and in a few cases I lack the actual knowledge.

I am a new Catholic, and unfortunately my RCIA classes lacked a lot of information that is pretty important. I have learned more by seeking information on my own. I just wish it was easier to find it and more importantly, understand it! There are a lot of questions that she has, and I think that I may have been wrong on some points I have made and that confuses her, and me as well. It irritates me to no end to ask my priest a question and then research it further on my own only to find out my priest was wrong! I wish things were more consistant than they seem to be! Maybe I just fail to see it sometimes. Anyway, thank you all so much for the help! The verses from the Bible, although only a part of the Truth, are probably going to be the most effective methods of teaching to a person who relies on the Bible alone. That is really hard for me to defend when questions on Tradition come up…they just aren’t there. The best thing I can do I think is to show Tradition is important. I think I have a handle on that…but I wan’t to make sure I have it all before I say a word. A single strong argument is better than a ton of small ones.

Again, thanks a ton! Any additional advice would be greatly appreciated. You can expect some more questions from me later on…that you can be sure of. Thank you all so much!

-Zachary


#11

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