09 June, 2009

Has the Church only elected the righteous and worthy as pope?

Catholics see the need for apostolic succession and the example of it in practice with the ordination of St. Matthias to replace Judas as one of the twelve. We know from Scriptures that this practice of ordination was carried on for those who were sent to preach the Gospel and to serve in the leadership of the Church. We know from a historical perspective that this practice was carried on until this day with unbroken succession that has been through the years recorded and protected. Some claim that there has been a loss of succession because of some leaders ordained into apostolic succession were evil men who committed evil after receiving their office or did not serve in righteousness.

It would seem that some are confusing the office of the bishop of Rome with apostolic succession. All bishops are ordained into apostolic succession and ordain priests to share in their authority. The continuation of the succeeding election of popes in the Western Church has nothing to do with apostolic succession. The fact is that for one to be elected as pope need not even be among those who share apostolic succession.

It is important for you to know that the Church does not claim nor has it ever claimed the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit guarantees the election of only righteous and worthy men to the pontificate. The Church does not deny that there have been those who were clearly not worthy of the papal office as even with this office God does not remove the gift of free will and through the seduction of sin some have fallen into sin and adopted the ways of the world. It is through Catholic faith and the teaching of the Church that we know that the Holy Spirit will always be victorious in guiding and supporting the Church through these times of evil and deception to the ultimate spiritual victory in Christ. We are always mindful of Christ’s promise to His Church and are encouraged in our faith that time and time again through history His promise has prevailed against the “gates of hell”.

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

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