What the Pope says is what the Roman Catholic Church is. You might disagree--and I might disagree--but we don't get to interpret what Catholicism is.
Obviously you're not Catholic. What you describe is just not the case. In some sense the pope has no more ability to decide what is Catholic than you or I. In fact, he is even more bound to uphold the constant teaching of his predecessors because he takes an oath to faithfully hand down what he has received and to change nothing of the faith.
the Pope is its leader on earth and if you want to be Catholic that's who you follow unquestioningly.
This is a common misunderstanding about the Catholic faith. No one is required to follow the pope "unquestioningly." Normally that is a safe thing to do, even if it's not required, but there have been other historical circumstances like our own in which it has been necessary to cling to the Catholic faith when the pope went astray. His personal opinions in particular, for example on the death penalty, have no obligatory force whatsoever.
I'm sorry, but you are wrong. The Pope is Christ's representative on Earth for Catholics, and whether you want to say he's bound or not by Catholic past doctrine, he is the one who decides what he is bound by. You don't get to pretend otherwise because you disagree with him if you're a true Catholic without actually turning from the Church. You're simply wrong.
From the catholic.org online Catholic Catechism glossary:
POPE: The successor of St. Peter as Bishop of Rome and Supreme Pontiff of the universal Catholic Church. The pope exercises a primacy of authority as Vicar of Christ and shepherd of the whole Church; he receives the divine assistance promised by Christ to the Church when he defines infallibly a doctrine of faith or morals (880-882). See Papacy.
PAPACY: The supreme jurisdiction and ministry of the pope as shepherd of the whole Church. As successor of St. Peter, and therefore Bishop of Rome and Vicar of Christ, the pope is the perpetual and visible principle of unity in faith and communion in the Church (882). See Pope.
From the Vatican's web site, Catechism of the Catholic Church, PART ONE, SECTION TWO, CHAPTER THREE, ARTICLE 9, Paragraph 4. Christ's Faithful - Hierarchy, Laity, Consecrated Life:
890 The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium's task to preserve God's people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church's shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms:
891 "The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful - who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter's successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium," above all in an Ecumenical Council.418 When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine "for belief as being divinely revealed,"419 and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions "must be adhered to with the obedience of faith."420 This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.421
892 Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a "definitive manner," they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful "are to adhere to it with religious assent" which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it.
You want to pretend you can doubt THE representative of Christ on Earth, go ahead. But don't pretend you're a Roman Catholic. Obviously, whatever religion YOU happen to be, you talk out of your ass a lot, as proven by your prior post. Read a Baltimore Catechism once in a while. You might learn something about the faith. If you are Catholic, maybe you should convert to some Protestant sect so you get to cherrypick dogma you like in the event you disagree with church teaching, but the Catholic Church doesn't let you make decisions on matters of faith, the Pope does. If the Pope says it's a matter of faith that Catholics must protest the death penalty or abortion or dogwalking, IT IS.
posted on 12/18/2003 9:19:40 PM PST
(When laws are regularly flouted, respect of the law and law enforcement diminishes correspondingly.)
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