Monday, 22 February 2016

An Unreliable Pope

Today's Gospel reminds us of the institution of the Papacy: the promises of Christ to Peter, that he was to be the rock on which the church is founded, and would have the keys and the power to bind and loose.

Yet when we consider Peter, we see a very fallible man. This is the one whose faith wavered when walking on the water, whom Christ addressed as Satan and rebuked for his worldly thinking, who promised to go with him to death, only to deny him three times. What an unreliable pope...

What was Our Lord thinking? For he surely saw all this as clearly as he saw that Judas would betray him.

We cannot know, of course. However, just as I think one of the reasons for the choice of Judas was to help us to recognise that we may well have the occasional bishop who betrays his office, so I think that Peter reminds us that we cannot expect every pope to be perfect in every way.

But just as Peter came good, so may the most errant pope; and just as Judas, without knowing or intending it, played a part in God's providential plan, so may the most unworthy bishop.

And of course the other promise that goes with the Petrine promises is that the gates of hell will never prevail against the Church.

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