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Who is the pope? Part two

February 24, 2013
Last time we were looking at some interesting facts about the papacy as presented in the In Your Faith episode, Who is the Pope? We learned that the history of the papacy is as varied as it is interesting. But why do we have popes in the first place?
There's a lot of confusion as to why we have popes or how this has anything to do with Jesus. Well, let's put all doubts to rest. This is just after Jesus asked his disciples who they thought he was and Peter said, “you are the Christ, the son of the living God.” This is what Jesus answered:
"Blessed are you, Simon son of John, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:17-19) Not only was Jesus telling Peter that he was the rock on which Jesus would build his church, but he was giving him authority, not just over earth but also in heaven.
But why do we need to have popes? Just because Jesus built the church on Peter and gave him authority doesn’t mean we have to have popes today. Although, if you think about it, Jesus had the sense to leave someone in charge. And the Apostles, in turn, also realised that someone needed to be their leader. Can you imagine a church without leadership? In fact, we don't need to imagine it, many religious groups do not have centralised leadership. That's not to say that they are bad, but there is no consistency. As soon as someone doesn't agree with something, they go off and start their own church (which has happened within the Catholic Church). Imagine proposing that a major corporation doesn't need a CEO., or a that country doesn't need a president or prime minister… that would be chaos. And with the Church there's been a consistency in leadership that we can trace right back to Peter and the apostles and Jesus. And even though there was a bit of a mess there in the Middle Ages, you can still trace it right back. The teachings haven't changed, they've been deepened as our understanding grows, but this church today is the same church Jesus built upon Peter. You know why? Because the true leader of the Church is Jesus and the Church is inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Next time we’ll continue with some interesting facts about the papacy. Remember that a great way to learn more about our faith is to watch In Your Faith. You can learn more at the show's website.
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