What is the papacy? – The Catholic Wire (2023)

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The real papacy


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The Pope (latPapaya, from Greek: πάππας, meaning Father), is the successor of Saint Peter the Apostle and the visible head of the Catholic Church. In this article we will describe his role, prove that the institution of the papacy came from Christ himself, and explain that despite the crisis that decimated the Catholic Church after Vatican II, believers are still able to recognize whether there is a claim that the papacy is the true pope or not.

What is the papacy?

The Pope, Sumo Pontiff or Roman Pontiff, is the bishop of Rome, visible head of the entire Catholic Church, vicar of Christ on earth and his vicar and successor the apostle Peter.

The institution of the papacy was established by Christ Himself, as we read in the Scriptures:

“And I tell you that you are Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. And what you bind on earth will also be bound in heaven; and what you lose on earth will be lost in heaven.”

Matthew 16:18-19.

The word Peter (in AramaicKephas) means rock. As this verse and others demonstrate, Jesus Christ established His Church as a monarchical society. He gave his apostles the same powers that he had as teacher, priest, and king, power to teach, sanctify, and govern.

"Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I send you. After he had said this, he breathed on them; and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; and whose sins you must keep, they will be kept.

João 20, 21-23.

This was certainly necessary for Christ to continue His own ministry among future generations. Although Jesus Christ gave all of his apostles these powers, he only gave Saint Peter preeminence over the others, giving him authority over the rest of the church and making him his own representative, to the apostles themselves and to all Christians wherever they are are .

Some other verses that support the doctrine of papal primacy are:

“But I have been praying for you that your faith will not fail; and you, after you have been converted, confirm your brethren.”

Lukas 22:32.

"Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these? He said to him: Yes Lord, you know that I love you. He said to him: Feed my lambs... I said to him a third time: Simon, son of John, do you love me? Peter was sad because he had said to him for the third time: Do you love me? And he said to him: Lord, you know everything: you know that I love you. He said to him: Feed my sheep.

Johannes 21,15ff.

Can the Pope remain Pope if he gives up the true faith?

Before proceeding, we need to explain this point. If you want to be Pope, you have to be Catholic. To be pope is to be the visible head of a body called the "Catholic Church." However, if a person falls into heresy, that is, if he renounces the Catholic faith or denies even one of its tenets, he is cut off from the Church for that very sin of heresy and is therefore no longer a part of the Church. Body.
Well, if a man isn't part of the body, how is he going to pretend to be the head?

So the answer will be no. If the pope gave up the true faith, he would stop being pope because he would stop being catholic.

But the Church teaches that when the pope speaks "ex-cathedra" (meaning "from the chair"), he cannot err on matters of faith and morals, so how could a pope abandon true faith?

The answer is simple: if a pope has ever taught anything contrary to faith or morality, we would have to assume that he is not really the pope. Either because he was never pope at all, or because he fell into heresy in his current testimony.

And the believers will know by comparing his authoritative utterances with those of his predecessors.

Having explained this, we can proceed with our explanation of the papacy.

The Powers of the Pope

Some have falsely claimed that the pope has only an honorary prerogative, or only an office of inspection or governance, but no jurisdiction over the church. This teaching was condemned by the First Vatican Council:

"If anyone says that the Roman Pope has only an office of supervision and direction, but not full and supreme jurisdiction over the whole Church, and not only in matters of faith and morals, but also in those pertaining to discipline and discipline over the church government scattered throughout the world; or that he has only the bulk, but not the absolute fullness, of that supreme power; or that his power is not ordinary and immediate both over each one of the Churches and over each one of the pastors and believers: let him be anathema.

First Vatican Council, First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ, chap. 3, v. 9

From this and earlier dogmatic teachings we see that the pope has the following powers:

  • Full and supreme power of teaching. (Jurisdiction in religious and moral matters)
  • Complete and supreme governmental power (jurisdiction in disciplinary and governmental matters)

The nature of the jurisdiction of the pope

The jurisdiction of the Pope is:

  • A royal jurisdiction.
    That is, it demands not only reverence but obedience from all believers in the Catholic Church. He not only has the power to lead, but also to command.
  • Universal Jurisdiction.
    Because it extends to all places and all business dealings with the Church, whether related to faith, morals, discipline, or government.
  • Direct and episcopal.
    That is, he governs the entire Church by his own authority, regardless of the approval of the local bishop, the authority of the pope overrides that of the bishop.
  • supreme
    Because his power is greater than that of a single bishop or patriarch, or even all bishops combined (excluding the pope).
  • Absolutely complete in itself.
    This means that the pope is not dependent on the bishops to exercise his power, nor does he only share in the power conferred on all bishops in common, but that his power is independent of that of the bishops.

consequences of this teaching

From this lesson follows:

  • None of the faithful, not even the bishops, can blame or disregard the command of a true pope.
  • The pope must be infallible in questions of faith and morals and obliges the whole church.


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The real papacy

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