The papacy-A A +A
As I See It
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
GOODBYE Benedict XVI! I remember Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Holy Office). As the second most powerful man at the Vatican before he became Pope Benedict XVI. He wrote a letter that was sent to all the bishops in the world in May 2001 reminding them that ‘Crimini Solicitationies’ law (strict secrecy in sex abuse cases) is still in effect.
He was referring to a 69-page document in Latin bearing the seal of Pope John XXIII. Ratzinger asserted the right of the Catholic Church to hold its inquiries behind closed doors and keep the evidence confidential for up to ten years after the victims reached adulthood. The lawyers found it hard to pursue sex abuse cases against the clergy because of this. Pope Benedict has his reason for leaving the papacy.
The papacy is the highest office in the Catholic Church. The pope is endowed with autocratic power and has the final say on any matter affecting the Church being the Vicar of Christ. I just don’t know if this aligns with Mark 9:35-Jesus taught that those who want to be the first must be last and servant of all. Probably, this makes papal throne interesting. Peter did not consider himself a pope. Linus and Clement as mentioned in the Bible, who followed Peter and became bishop of Rome, did not claim to be pope. When Peter was preaching the words of Christ, he considered himself as elder of the Church, not a bishop (1 Peter 5:1). When Peter arrived in Rome there were already Christians there.
The idea that the Apostles Peter and Paul founded the Church came from Irenaeus of Lyons. He defended orthodox Christianity against the Gnostics. In his book ‘Against Heresies’, he assumed that the apostles established a succession of bishops to carry on the gospel. In my Catechism Class, we were told that Peter was the rock. In our ‘Church History’, (third year Religion Class), we found out that the early Church Fathers did not support that Peter is the rock as some interpret Matthew 16 now. The rock refers to Christ or to Peter’s confession of having faith in Christ.
St. Augustine and St. John Chrysostom were two great theologians of our Catholic Church who did not believe in Peter as the rock on which the Church of Christ was founded. I cannot read a passage in the Bible claiming that Peter was Rome’s first bishop. The office of the Bishop of Rome was created by Constantine the Great. Papacy started there. The role of the Santo Papa could be compared to the high priests of the old Jewish Pharisees. They were learned men and under the theocratic monarchy, the Santo Papa has absolute power over all aspects of Catholic Church. The Santo Papa alone can declare an infallible dogma on faith. This was emphasized very much by my teacher, the late Msgr. Isidro U. Dormido.
I still remember the two theologians of the Church, Hans
Kung and Johann Joseph von Dollinger, who were dismissed for questioning papal infallibility. The first Vatican Council promulgated the dogma of papal infallibility on July 18, 1870. That privilege is given to the Pope. I know that it is difficult to claim infallibility because of the sinful nature of humans, especially on moral issues. That could be the reason why the early theologians of the Church like Irenaeus, Tertulian, St. Jerome and St. Gregory the Great did not agree that the Church has an infallible head.
You see, the history of papacy is an absolute classic of its kind. It has a pulpier blend of excitement, struggle and survival. The recent popes had their iconic existence… Paul VI (Ratline participant), John Paul II (ecumenism), John Paul I (the longest 33 days), and Benedict XVI (Crimini Solicitationies).
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on February 19, 2013.