“You Catholics are crazy, teaching that the Pope is infallible and treating him like he’s an Old Testament prophet or New Testament apostle. Don’t you think this is kind of ridiculous to treat a mere man like this?”
Well, is it ridiculous to think of the prophets and apostles as we do — as imperfect and sinful men through whom God communicated infallibly his Word? Is it ridiculous to believe that God could inspire sinful fallible men to write inerrant and infallible scripture?
But the Church doesn’t teach that the pope is a modern-day prophet or apostle with the ability to write inspired Scripture. What the Church teaches is far more nuanced than that. It’s not that the pope is inspired as the prophets and apostles were. It’s not that everything a Pope thinks or says at all times is true or said in the best way. Popes are fallible men. But Jesus gave the keys to Peter and promised to build his Church on that rock, and based on this, what we believe as Catholics is that when the Pope in his role as shepherd of the universal Church intends to speak for all Christians, and from the chair of St Peter formally defines a matter of faith and morals, the Holy Spirit keeps him from error, and therefore from leading Christians worldview into error. This is what Catholics mean by infallibility.
There are many, many great resources out there for learning about the
Catholic papacy. Here are some of our favorites.
A FEW GREAT VIDEOS
A FEW GREAT TALKS
by Scott Hahn
by Scott Hahn, Brant Pitre, Michael Barber and Jesse Romero
by Stephen Ray
Using lots of biblical references, Ray examines the office of the papacy, moving from Old Covenant images such as “keys” and “chairs” to the New Testament understanding of Peter’s primacy and also incorporating the early Church Fathers. Great single talk survey of the Catholic case for the papacy.
A FEW GREAT BOOKS
by J. Michael Miller
This book by the now Archbishop of Vancouver is maybe the best general overview of the Catholic teaching on the papacy from the scriptural, historical and theological perspectives. Your faith will be deepened and broadened.
by Stephen Ray
This book, written by a former Evangelical Protestant, makes the biblical and historical case for papacy. The author carefully moves through Scripture and the first five centuries of the Church to demonstrate that the early Christians had a clear understanding of the primacy of Peter in the see of Rome.
by Mike Aquilina
This is a fascinating book. The popes whose stories you’ll read here were chosen because they reveal how the papacy itself developed. Their lives show us how Christ kept his promise to his bride, the Church…not only in her health but also her sickness. The great popes advance our understanding of Christian doctrine. What about the bad popes? Learn why, even in it’s darkest moments, the story of the papacy is the story of triumph.