Commonsense Papism


Ego … Archiepiscopus … beato Petro apostolo, Sanctæ, Apostolicæ, Romanæ Ecclesiæ, ac tibi, Summo Pontifici, tuisque legitimis Successoribus semper fidelis ero et oboediens. Ita me Deus omnipotens adiuvet.

“I …, Archbishop of …, swear to be faithful and obedient to St. Peter the Apostle, to the Holy Roman Church, and to you, the Supreme Pontiff, and your lawful successors, so help me God Almighty.”

The new Archbishops who celebrated Mass with the Holy Father today swore their allegiance with these words.

StPeterThe Archbishops’ oath of allegiance is not something strange. It is not something foreign to American sensibilities. It is the most commonsensical statement a person could ever make.

Christians believe things–and we live according to principles–which we could never figure out by ourselves.

Therefore we rely on some source of information that possesses infallible authority. Our faith and morals are based on the testimony of God Himself, delivered to us in writing and by word of mouth.

Now, the authority to give this testimony either resides in me myself, or it resides in someone else.

Some people actually do regard themselves as their own infallible religious authority. But it takes just a little humility and maturity to realize that being your own infallible teacher is a prescription for disaster.

Therefore my infallible teacher must be someone else.

readdumWho is it? Could it be a politician? Could it be the pastor of a megachurch? Shirley MacLaine?

Of all the candidates for infallible teacher, the only really viable one is the Pope. The Pope can claim to hold such an office–the office of infallible teacher and shepherd established by the Son of God when He was on earth.

The Lord Jesus never promised that every Pope would be a saint. Rather, He guaranteed that there would be a spiritual fortress which the enemies of God could never conquer. Within this fortress, the true faith will always survive. The fortress is the Apostolic See of Rome.

Someone might say: Back off! My infallible teacher is the Bible!

Two questions, dear friend:

1. How do you know that the Bible is the Bible (i.e. the compendium of divine teachings committed to writing)? How do you know that the Koran is NOT the Bible? Or Football for Dummies? What authority certifies that your Bible is, in fact, God’s Word?

2. If there is a dispute about what the Bible means, who has the authority to settle the question?



and his successors.

Happy Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, founders of the Church of Rome!

One thought on “Commonsense Papism

  1. The Preacher gives an Aristotelian-Thomistic argument for why there must be a supreme Pastor of the Universal Church, based on the argument for God’s existence, that had never occurred to me to apply to the case of the Pope before! In thanks to him, I would hazard to flesh it out a bit further. Aristotle and Thomas have as their first premise that everything that is moved, in the sense of being perfected or completed in some determinate manner, is moved by something else. It is moved either by another mover or by itself as if by another mover. Nothing that is moved can be the mover of itself as a whole through itself as a whole. It must therefore be moved by a mover that is distinct from itself. Furthermore, there can be no actually infinite synchronic regress of moved movers, because then nothing would be moved here and now. Accordingly, there must here and now be a mover that is an unmoved mover in relation to all moved movers and to that which they move.

    Fr Augustine DiNoia will be made a bishop by Cardinal Levada on July 11. Cardinal Levada was himself made a bishop by another bishop. All of these bishops, however, are only moved movers whose authority is delimited and circumscribed in very definite ways. If there were no supreme Pastor with universal and immediate authority over all members of Christ’s Church,then here and now there could not be fully ecclesial exercise of apostolic authority by any bishop here and now. The Supreme Pastor is not made such by himself, but by God, through the subordinate causality of His Church. As himself unmoved in a real sense in relation to the College of Bishops, the Supreme Pastor thus serves as a faint image of the God of Faith and Reason (to borrow the book title of the great Msgr. Robert Sokolowski), THE Unmoved Mover whose being unmoved has nothing to do with being static or lifeless, but who is Unmoved in relation to all that happens to exist other than Himself because He is Himself the very plenitude of fully accomplished action and life. Thanks, Preacher, for prompting this bare outline of an argument that is, for the one who stumbles to articulate it, a salutary meditation.

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