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James Sundquist wrote:

Dear Mike —

  • What is the Catholic doctrine as to what becomes of the Pope when Christ returns?

Since the Pope is allegedly Christ's presence on earth, he clearly is no longer Christ's presence when Christ returns. Christ's return is Christ's presence.

  • Does the Pope resign?

He surely can't be called Holy Father any more, since that title is a title reserved for God,
or if you would, Christ when he is called Everlasting Father, in Isaiah.

  • Will the Pope kiss Christ's ring or, at least, genuflect before Christ?

Anyway, I am most curious what happens to the Pope.

Sincerely in Christ,

James Sundquist

  { When Christ returns, what does Catholic doctrine say will become of the Pope? }

Mike replied:

Hi, James —

Thank-you for your question.

There is no answer to your question that is based on doctrine; your question falls into the category of theological speculation.

It's important to remember the role of the Pope.

The Pope guards, protects, safeguards, explains and clarifies all Christian teachings through the merits of Jesus Christ for those pilgrimaging here on earth; he doesn't create new teachings.
The office of the Pope is for those pilgrimaging on earth.

I would say, that when Our Blessed Lord returns in glory at the end of time, there will be no need of the office of a Papacy because that will be when final judgment occurs.

Until then, we will always have a Pope. Read Matthew 16:13-20, which was foretold in
Isaiah 22:15-25.

You said:
Does the Pope resign?

If for health reasons, the Pope resigns, he must do so on his own free will.

You said:
He surely can't be called Holy Father.

It's the office that is Holy, that is why we call him Holy Father.

You said:
Will the Pope kiss Christ's ring or, at least, genuflect before Christ?

Of course, as all Christians who love the Lord would want to do, even though I don't know
if Christ's has a ring.

Thanks for your question and come back often.

Mike Humphrey

John replied:

Dear James,

Perhaps we could look at your question in a different light.

You say the Pope is "allegedly" Christ's presence on earth, as if to say, there is no precedence for the manifestation of Christ on earth by a human being.

Well, as a former Baptist, Evangelical, Charismatic Minister, I must tell you that I often preached that, as a collective Body, that is the "Body of Christ", we are, in fact, a manifestation of Christ on earth. That, not of ourselves, but as the Scripture says "greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world". (1 John 4:4) When a Christian walks into a room the Holy Spirit walks in with him.

  • Aren't we, indeed, ambassadors for Christ?

So we all share in Christ's authority by virtue of being "in Christ".

  • Are we not a chosen generation, a royal priesthood? (1 Peter 2:9)

Peter wrote:

2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, ...

2 Peter 1:2-4

Paul tells us we have the mind of Christ, and Jesus sent forth His apostles saying, "all power and authority has been given to me, now I am sending you." (Matthew 28:18-20)

Jesus also said whatever you ask in my name shall be done. (John 14:14)

  • Does not mean I can just ask for any old thing like for the Red Sox to win the World Series in back to back years and tack on "in Jesus' name I pray" and expect it to happen?

No, Jesus was using legal terminology. He was saying I give you power of attorney to exercise
My ( Jesus' ) Will.

That said, it is not unheard of that any man can walk in the authority of Christ. In fact, I'm sure every time you tell someone that Jesus Christ can deliver them from sin and save them from hell, you are speaking God's truth. You are manifesting the presence of God and you, my friend, are the mouth peace of the Holy Spirit who is at work on the listener's heart, even as you speak.

As Catholics, we believe that Christ established a Church, the Kingdom of God on earth.
This Kingdom has an order.  It is not some marginally connected, invisible body of believers who rely on their own interpretation of the Scriptures. God is a God of order and not a God of confusion.

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

Ephesians 4:11-16

In the case of the Pope, we see him as the Universal Pastor of the Church. We call him Holy Father, because he is both a father to us, as Paul was a father to Timothy in the faith,
and because he occupies a Holy Office.

The word Holy in the original Greek is the word "hagia". It means:

"to be set apart or separate from".

So just as we are a holy and chosen generation, the Popes serve us as a "holy" fathers.

This may not answer the details of your questions, so much, as to shed some light on where we are coming from.

We look at the same prism you do, but from a different perspective then Evangelicals do.
To understand what we believe requires more then polemic questioning. It requires a willingness to dig into what is behind the belief.

If you are truly interested in a real dialogue, not a debate about what each other believes,
I would be more then happy to hear from you.

Under His Mercy,

John DiMascio

Eric replied:

James —

I have the following to add to Mike and John's answers:

You wrote:

  • What the Catholic doctrine as to what becomes of the Pope when Christ returns?

Since the Pope is allegedly Christ's presence on earth, he clearly is no longer Christ's presence when Christ returns.

Actually the pope is *not* considered "Christ's presence on earth." He's considered his chief steward (See Luke 12:42), the servant put in charge until the Master returns. This is what "vicar" means in "vicar of Christ".

You wrote:
Christ's return is Christ's presence.

  • Does the Pope resign?

Well, given that the Second Coming is the end of the world, I imagine the last thing on the Pope's mind will be resigning. In any case, if that's your question, Christ takes over. Whether that requires the "chief steward" to resign, is an organizational detail that I expect is up to our Lord, Jesus.

You wrote:
Will the Pope kiss Christ's ring or, at least, genuflect before Christ?

Presumably he will prostrate himself in awe and worship! After all, Christ is the one, he has totally dedicated his life to and has eagerly awaited since the beginning of his faith — the One he proclaims as Lord and Savior!

Eric Ewanco

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