Saturday, 2 June 2012


Far too many Catholics both in Ireland and further afield worship the pope instead of God!
I believe that Jesus made Peter the leader of the disciples. I believe that Peter played a central role in establishing the Christian community in Rome.  And I believe that through theological and pastoral evolution the leader of the Church at Rome became the bishop of Rome and was first among equals. I believe in what is called: “The Petrine Ministry”. In other words I believe that the Bishop of Rome is called to be the first among equals of the world’s bishops and has a very important role to play as an exemplar and a sign and force of unity in the Church.
But I don’t believe in the pope as the “Pontiff” or the emperor or as the world wide dictator of the Christian Church. The papacy has evolved into a monarchical, political power and I believe that this development in contrary to the mind and teaching of Christ in the New Testament.
Not only is the current papacy and administration in Rome among the most corrupt establishments in the world – it is also a contradiction of the teachings of Jesus Christ who said that He came: “Not to be served but to serve”. The modern day Vatican is more about power, control and money than it is about the ministry of Jesus Christ. I am not given to fundamentalist rhetoric about the pope being the anti-Christ. That type of Protestant fundamentalism is another evil all on its own. But it is true to say that the guiding spirit behind the modern Vatican and papacy is a spirit that is not of Christ.
The Catholic Church should be run by the world’s college of bishops in union with the Bishop of Rome and expressing the faith of all 1.2 billion Catholics. We don’t need a curia full of cardinals, archbishops, bishops, monsignors and canon lawyers. Those working for and around the Bishop of Rome should be a secretariat of lay men and women. It’s the job of bishops, priests and deacons to be pastors and not pen pushing administrators.
Papal infallibility is nonsense. It was brought in at the end of the 19th century to make up to the pope for his loss of temporal powers and the Vatican lands of Northern Italy. It was forced through the First Vatican Council by a handful of pope worshipping bishops.
Jesus did promise Peter and his other disciples that His Church would be protected from grave error. It is a travesty of Scripture to ascribe infallible power to one man in the Vatican. In fact most Catholic don’t know that there are several conditions that have to be met before the pope or church speaks infallibly:
1.     The particular teaching or doctrine has to be promulgated by the Bishop of Rome speaking with the world’s bishops and expressing the belief of the world’s Catholics.
2.     It can only be on a matter of faith or morals.
3.     And the Bishop of Rome must make it clear that he is speaking ex cathedra – from the Chair of Peter and is speaking the Faith of the Church.
The famous Cardinal Gibbons once quipped: “The pope cannot be infallible. He called me Jibbons and not Gibbons”.
The early 19th century Jesuit priest George Tyrrell was appalled on learning that crucifixes were being distributed in Rome with Jesus taken off the cross and a figure of the pope on it instead!
Someone else said recently: “Is God now the pope’s vicar in heaven”?
Quite simply many Roman Catholics are guilty of idolatry with regard the pope. Various popes have been among the most sinful and corrupt of men.
When I saw Joseph Ratzinger appearing as the pope seven years ago I stopped believing that the Holy Spirit has anything to do with papal elections. If Jesus Christ were to appear at the Vatican today He would be as welcome as Miss Piggy in a synagogue.
Bishop Pat Buckley

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