…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.
The 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.
Who 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!