What to Think About Bad Popes

by Steve Ray on February 16, 2018

Written by Dave Armstrong and used with permission:

BAD POPES: REPLIES TO A SINCERE INQUIRER, February 15, 2018, by Dave Armstrong

God made an everlasting covenant with King David, even though he was an adulterer and murderer.

Dave writes: “As this was originally private correspondence, my correspondent’s exact words will be paraphrased, not cited. Her “words” will be in blue.”

* * * * *

How can you believe in a succession of popes since so many have been terrible sinners?

It’s not based on sinlessness (that’s called impeccability) but on office. We believe that God protects the Church from teaching error, by His power (not the power of sinful men). How is this possible? It’s entirely possible because God is God and can accomplish whatever He wants. Secondly, it has already happened in greater measure in the inspired Scripture, which was written by sinful men like Moses, David, Paul, and Peter (murderers, adulterers, and people who would deny knowing Jesus). Yet it is inspired and infallible. Likewise, God uses sinful men as bishops and popes and protects the faithful from receiving false teaching.

Titus 1:7-9  “For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of goodness, master of himself, upright, holy, and self-controlled; he must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it.”

If the pope is the head of all the bishops, wouldn’t he also have to (above all) be of this high level of character?

Most of them have been, especially in the last 150-200 years. This is the ideal, but you and I know full well that people don’t always live up to biblical standards (we need only look at ourselves, for starters). We see the tension between the ideal and the real, in, for example, 1 John 1:6-10:

1 John 1:6-7 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 1:8-10 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

All have sin, that needs to be confessed and cleansed; to deny one’s sin is to be a liar.

Thus, there have been some bad popes. This is not unexpected, based on Scripture. See my papers:

– Sins and Sinners in the Catholic Church
– Are Sinful Church Leaders a Disproof of Catholicism?
– The ‘Bad Popes’: How Many Of ‘Em Were There? How ‘Bad’ Were They?

Of what purpose is a bad pope who is still a true pope? You simply accept that and say that God has His reasons?

Yes, because He used King David and made an everlasting covenant with Him and made Jesus His descendant, even though David was an adulterer and murderer. Jesus called Judas to be His disciple, and Judas was called both a disciple and “elect.” The Bible shows how a successor was chosen when Judas killed himself. Jesus made Peter the leader of the Church, knowing that he would deny him three times.

I’m not trying to be contentious; I really want to understand these things. I feel somewhat led to the Catholic Church. I have heard that I must accept all Catholic teachings to do so.

That’s right, because it is a teaching passed down from the apostles. One doesn’t pick and choose and decide what they will accept, but rather, decide in faith that God has one true Church that He has protected all these centuries. God can do it. He has enough power to do that!

I have hope that I can better understand these things if they are explained to me. I don’t feel like I am a Protestant any longer. I think they have many of their own problems and have not figured everything out themselves.

I hope my answers have been helpful to you. God bless you as you consider where God might be leading you. Pray, pray, pray! The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth, as the Bible says.

***
STEVE RAY HERE: I would like to add three quotes to correct people’s idea that it is wrong or incorrect to criticize a priest, bishop or Pope. Any criticism must be done with great respect, integrity and deference. I think the case of Saint Paul confronting Saint Peter in the book of Galatians shows that no Pope is above criticism (Gal 2:11-14).

Remember also the strong rebuke St  Catherine of Siena wrote to Pope Gregory IX  and she was made a Doctor of the Church.

Consider these three quotes (which can be multiplied):

St. Thomas Aquinas: “If the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly. Hence Paul, who was Peter’s subject, rebuked him in public, on account of the imminent danger of scandal concerning faith, and, as the gloss of Augustine says on Galatians 2:11, “Peter gave an example to superiors, that if at any time they should happen to stray from the straight path, they should not disdain to be reproved by their subjects.” http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3033.htm

“Now it can be said briefly that those who defend blindly and indiscriminately any judgment whatsoever of the Supreme Pontiff concerning every matter weaken the authority of the Apostolic See; they do not support it; they subvert it; they do not fortify it… . Peter has no need of our lies; he has no need of our adulation.” – Melchior Cano, Bishop and Theologian of the Council of Trent

Code of Canon Law #212 §3. “According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they [the Christian faithful] possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.”

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Pilgrimage Updates – Some Trips Sold Out

by Steve Ray on February 14, 2018

St. PetersThese pilgrimages are sold out:

– April Holy Land
– April “Saints & Shrines of Italy”
– May Holy Land

These are filling fast:

– June Holy Land
– August Ireland
– September Jordan and Holy Land

Check out

– St. Paul Mediterranean Cruise in November
– Mexico-Guadalupe trip in December.

Screen Shot 2018-02-14 at 7.25.53 PMAlso the Oberammergau Passion Play in Germany!

For more info or to register visit FootprintsOfGod.com

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Great New Didache Bible from Ignatius Press

by Steve Ray on February 12, 2018

The Didache Bible Is Here, By Dr. Jeff Mirus

[Steve’s Comment]: I posted this a while ago, but want to make sure new readers are aware of this excellent new Bible with the right footnotes, maps, etc. This is my choice.

[Miras’ article]: This Bible uses the Second Edition of the Catholic Edition of the Revised Standard Version, widely regarded as the best translation available today. This means it was last revised according to the principles promulgated in Liturgiam Authenticam in 2001. The printing is well done—clean, clear and easy to read—and the accompanying commentary and additional resources are superb. However, the prospective reader needs to realize that this edition’s resources are primarily devoted to highlighting and clarifying the teachings and practices of the Church as found in the Word of God and as more fully articulated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

This purpose was inspired by the Midwest Theological Forum’s Didache Series of religious education textbooks, and it makes this edition of the Bible the best one to use in connection with religious education, or by readers who want to understand both the teachings of the Church and their foundations in Sacred Scripture. It would not be the best edition for those who know Catholic doctrine very well and are now interested in exploring the origins and development of the Biblical books, the surrounding history with which the texts interact, or the full range of perspectives on the meaning of difficult passages.

The Didache Bible includes the following preparatory resources as front-matter:

  • Foreword by Cardinal Francis George on the general relationships among the Catechism, Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, and Sacred Scripture.
  • Preface by Fr. James Socias of the Midwest Theological Forum on the fundamental purposes of this edition.
  • Introduction on Biblical inspiration and the various senses of Scripture.
  • A brief guide on how to read the Bible.
  • A brief summary of the major themes of all the books of the Old and New Testaments.
  • A chronology of the Old Testament.
  • A chronology of the New Testament.
  • A thematically-organized list of Scripture passages for personal meditation.

Of even greater interest are the resources which accompany each of the books. There is a one-page introduction to each book which covers authorship, dating, audience and main themes. Then, page by page as the Biblical text unfolds, we find:

  • Extensive commentary, verse by verse, on the meaning of the text and its significance for understanding Catholic teaching and practice.
  • Call-out boxes which briefly highlight key Biblical and theological concepts to aid the reader in understanding the full significance of the text.
  • Lists of related Biblical passages (these cross-references visually separate the text from the commentary).
  • Periodic full-page apologetical explanations of important Catholic concepts, teachings and practices, placed at appropriate points along the way. There are over 100 of these longer explanations.

Finally, following the last book of the Bible, the back-matter includes:

  • 24 full-color maps providing geographical orientations for both the Old and New Testaments.
  • A 44-page glossary of Biblical names and terms.
  • Index to the maps.
  • Index of apologetical explanations by title.
  • Index of apologetical explanations by subject.
  • A 23-page index of subjects, including Biblical names, which leads to the Biblical passages in which they appear.

I’ve attached two rough, home-made double-page scans. One shows pages from the Book of Genesis as an example of the presentation of the text, the Biblical cross-references, the extensive commentary, and the boxed highlights. The other shows pages from the Book of Revelation as an example of how an apologetical explanation (on the Rosary) interfaces with a page of text (again with its characteristic chapter and verse numbers, subtitles, cross-references and commentary).

The Didache Bible is currently available in a sturdy hardbound edition with two ribbons. I give this Bible my highest recommendation for all those who wish to understand both Sacred Scripture and Catholic teaching more fully, including the deep links between the two. I would say it is the best edition to give as a first Bible to Catholics who have not yet made an extensive study of their Faith. It is the ideal Bible for them to have when they go off to college or out into the world, where they will eventually be challenged—not least about the relationship between Sacred Scripture and the Catholic Church.

I have provided our usual Amazon link below, but the Bible is currently on sale directly from Ignatius Press. I am checking on the availability of the deluxe leather-bound edition that was also originally planned.

The Didache Bible     $35.00

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