Non-Catholic believers are often confused by the role of the Pope in Catholicism. Most Protestants believe in the “priesthood of the believer,” that Jesus Christ is our advocate who stands between the individual believer and God Almighty. Because of that, we are free to approach Him through prayer, praise, and conversation on our own without the need of any priest or saint making intercession for us.
Realizing that I have very limited knowledge on the subject, I have been doing some research. Pope Benedict XVI was the 265th Pope. He was the first Pope in 600 years to leave his post rather than dying while holding the position. Citing personal illness and inability to perform all of his duties to the fullest as his reasons for resigning, I can’t help wondering if there were more things at work than that. I believe this Pope was a man of integrity.
With political correctness pushing many denominations to change in radical ways that absolutely do not align with the Word of God, I believe Pope Benedict may have been under great pressure to rewrite or reinterpret some of the basic principles of the Catholic Church that he absolutely refused to do. Abortion; sexual abuse by priests of children; homosexuality and marriage; birth control; marriage in the priesthood — all of these issues are pressing the Catholic Church to become something it has never been before.
Even though I may not be Catholic, I respect the past Popes for holding fast to their basic principles instead of trying to become “popular.” The stand taken by the Pope influences over a billion people worldwide at this point in history. There is no other minister, no other ministry that has the potential of reaching so many. I hope the new Pope will be a true man of God, called by God rather than chosen by men to accomplish great things, who will be unwavering in his faith and moral fabric.
No one has the divine authority to rewrite God or the Bible and water them down to become the politically correct, permissive, humanistic version of what our hedonistic society wants them to be — no committee, no conclave, no president, no emperor, no pope — NOBODY.
I did some research on the Internet. This is what I learned from Wikipedia, “Catholics recognize the pope as the successor to St. Peter whom Jesus designated as the “rock” upon which the Church was to be built (see Matthew 16:18–19). Although Peter never bore the title of “pope,” which came into use much later, Catholics recognize him as the first pope, while official declarations of the Church speak of the popes as holding within the college of the Bishops a position similar to that held by Peter among the apostles.
Many popes in the first three centuries of the Christian era are obscure figures. Several suffered martyrdom along with members of their flock in periods of persecution. Most of them engaged in intense theological arguments with other bishops.”
Because the Pope has such power and influence over so many people there are many who believe that eventually someone holding the position of Pope will either become the Antichrist or will help usher in the age of the Antichrist. Vatican City, where the pope resides, is like a nation unto itself with its own laws, and government. The Pope also has sovereign immunity and diplomatic immunity, which sets him apart from the laws and jurisdictions of other nations, governments, or states.
If a person is not Catholic, they may think they don’t care who becomes the next Pope. Why should any non-Catholic concern themselves with the conclave, the selection of a new Pope, or all the pomp and ceremony that go along with seeing him installed as the next Pope?
Many people may not appreciate or realize the power of the Pope, which is quite vast. The power of the Pope extends over every single church, every single bishop and pastor, every one of the faithful. He may appoint and depose bishops, call councils, make and unmake laws, send missionaries, confer distinctions, privileges, and dispensations, and reserve sins to his own tribunal. The Pope is the supreme judge; to him belongs the last appeal in all cases. The Pope is the “teacher of all Christians,” the “chief shepherd of the shepherds and their flocks.” “Peter, standing up with the Eleven, lifted up his voice and spoke out to them …” (Acts 2:14). The word “Pope” is derived from the Latin term papa, which means “Father.” The Pope is independent of every temporal sovereign and of every spiritual power. He is responsible only to God.
I found the preceding information on the website My Catholic Faith. There was a whole page listing the many powers of the pope. I only listed part. I was surprised to find the information which follows on the same website:
“That’s a lot of power and influence for one man. However, his power extends beyond the immediate faith. The temporal power of the Pope is his power to rule an independent state as sovereign, free and independent from other earthly sovereigns. The vastness of the Church and the greatness of its responsibilities towards its millions of members require that it should be able to communicate with them unhampered by any national government, free of foreign interference.
No other man on the planet experiences these privileges or this much power. Whether a person believes this power is man-made or God given, all intelligent souls should at least be aware of what is going on in the appointment of a new pope and the potential power he wields in the world in which we live.”