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Andy Russell wrote:

Hi guys,

  • I have been studying and wondering why St. Linus was called to be the second Pope after Peter when the Apostle John was still alive?
  • I was also wondering where the Pope came from?

I know what Wikipedia says but it makes no sense to me.

  • Where did the word Pope come from and why is the leader of the Church called the Pope?
  • Does the Pope claim to receive revelation?
  • Is he a prophet like in the Old Testament times?
  • What does the Pope do?
  • What is the mission of the Church? . . . to baptize everyone?
  • To give them the opportunity to receive the sacraments?

I don't understand what is the mission of the Church . . . to bring everyone to Christ?

Please help me. I feel lost.

Thanks,

Andy Russell

  { Can you explain the role of the Pope and Papacy along with the mission of the Church? }

Mike replied:

Hi Andy,

Thanks for the question.

The papacy was instituted by Jesus Himself before He ascended into Heaven in 33 A.D. Historically, we have oral and written tradition (Matthew 16:13-20; 1 Timothy 3:15) to back this up.

The word Pope comes from the word Papa or Father. He is call the Pope or Father because his role is to be the Father of the Christian Faith and for all Christians worldwide. He is the icon of unity for anyone looking for the fullness of the Christian Faith that can only be found in the Catholic Church. It was Our Lord's intent to have the papacy be a divine office with a human person safeguarding or protecting what He taught on issues of faith and morals.

This office would also be one that would last until His Second Coming. The successor to the
Holy Father would be assisted, not only safeguarding and protecting what Our Lord wished all Christians to believe, but his office would be an office Our Lord Jesus would use to speak through future St. Peters and therefore future Popes on issues of faith and morals — issues that St. Peter would never have known about. Some examples are:

  • In Vitro fertilization
  • embryonic and adult stem cell research
  • cloning
  • areas of genetics
  • the web, internet, and the vast number of issues related to this new medium
  • etc.

The Pope does not claim to receive any new revelation. His job is to protect and safeguard what Our Blessed Lord Jesus left for all Christians to believe. He may receive private revelation, (no one knows) but this would only assist him in protecting what Our Lord wishes all men to believe and would never be binding on the faith of any Catholic.

The mission of the Church is identical to that of Christ, our Lord. The Catechism states in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 849-852:

Mission - a requirement of the Church's catholicity

849 The missionary mandate. "Having been divinely sent to the nations that she might be 'the universal sacrament of salvation,' the Church, in obedience to the command of her founder and because it is demanded by her own essential universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all men": (Vatican II, Ad Gentes 1) "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and Lo, I am with you always, until the close of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20)

850 The origin and purpose of mission. The Lord's missionary mandate is ultimately grounded in the eternal love of the Most Holy Trinity: "The Church on earth is by her nature missionary since, according to the plan of the Father, she has as her origin the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit." (Vatican II, Ad Gentes 2) The ultimate purpose of mission is none other than to make men share in the communion between the Father and the Son in their Spirit of love. (cf. John Paul II, Roman Missal 23)

851 Missionary motivation. It is from God's love for all men that the Church in every age receives both the obligation and the vigor of her missionary dynamism, "for the love of Christ urges us on." (2 Corinthians 5:14; cf. postolicam Actositatem 6; Roman Missal 11) Indeed, God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth"; (1 Timothy 2:4) that is, God wills the salvation of everyone through the knowledge of the truth. Salvation is found in the truth. Those who obey the prompting of the Spirit of truth are already on the way of salvation. But the Church, to whom this truth has been entrusted, must go out to meet their desire, so as to bring them the truth. Because she believes in God's universal plan of salvation, the Church must be missionary.

852 Missionary paths. The Holy Spirit is the protagonist, "the principal agent of the whole of the Church's mission." (John Paul II, Roman Missal 21) It is he who leads the Church on her missionary paths. "This mission continues and, in the course of history, unfolds the mission of Christ, who was sent to evangelize the poor; so the Church, urged on by the Spirit of Christ, must walk the road Christ himself walked, a way of poverty and obedience, of service and self-sacrifice even to death, a death from which he emerged victorious by his resurrection." (Vatican II, Ad Gentes 5) So it is that the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians. (Tertullian, Apol. 50,13:PL 1,603)

What the Catechism has just said, answers your remaining questions:

What is the mission of the Church? ... to baptize everyone?
<Yes!>
To give them the opportunity to receive the sacraments?
<Yes!>
I don't understand what is the mission of the Church? ... to bring everyone to Christ?
<Yes!>

No Catholic should ever force anyone to do anything against their will. Our job as Catholic evangelists is to provide the fullness of the Gospel. Those who listen to us have to choose to accept it. (1 Peter 3:15-16)

If you wish to go deeper, consider buying a cheap copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to learn everything we believe as Catholics.

Hope this answers most of your questions.

Mike

John replied:

Andy,

Thanks for your questions. I'd like to expound on what Mike has already said.

Let's start with the role of the Apostles after the death of Christ. Each of them had his own Bishopric (ministry). In fact, we see that in the book of Acts. Peter discerned that Judas, who had fallen away, needed a successor to fill his Bishopric.

Each of the Apostles went on to lead local churches. For example:

  • James became the Bishop of Jerusalem.
  • John became the Bishop of Ephesus.
  • Peter went on to be the first Bishop of Antioch and later the Bishop of Rome.

With the death of each Apostle, his successor took on the same ministry as the Apostle he replaced. Therefore, the successor of Peter, continued his ministry as both the Bishop of Rome and the chief Apostle.

Christ gave Peter special authority. We see this in Matthew chapter 16. In this text, we see that the Keys of the Kingdom are given to Peter. Jesus chooses His words very carefully. He quotes or paraphrases from Isaiah 22. In that text, we see the keys of authority being taken away from one person, Shebna, and given to another, Eliakim. We then go on to read in Isaiah 22 that this authority will be transmitted to Elaikim's sons, his successors.

In Matthew, Jesus is taking away the authority from the Pharisees, Sadducees, Priests and Scribes, and giving it to the Church. In particular, Jesus gives the Keys to Peter. The Apostles would have understood the entire context from Isaiah, hence they would have understood that Peter's successor would continue hold the same authority given to Peter.

Therefore, since Linus succeeded Peter, the Apostle John submitted to Linus as if he were submitting to Peter.

The Pope, does often speak prophetically as do many other Christians but it is never new Revelation. The Church believes that Public Revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle, John. That doesn't mean that God won't continue to give private revelation but that any message will never contradict or add to what has already been said.

That said, while Public Revelation has ceased, illumination continues. In other words, our understanding of what has been revealed can grow. Indeed, the Church continues to apply Revelation to the times. We see this as science and medicine progress. With the development of new technologies and medical advances, the Church interprets revelation, and pronounces moral teachings.

For instance, 2,000 years ago, no one ever dreamed of In Vitro fertilization. Today with the advent of this process, the Church relies on revelation to condemn the procedure because it in effect creates a bunch of human beings in a petri dish and then chooses one to be placed in the womb. The rest of embryos are frozen, discarded, and used for medical experiments.

When the Church speaks definitively on these issues, She is fulfilling Her prophetic role. In these teachings, the Church is infallible. The Holy Spirit protects the Church from teaching error in the areas of faith and morals. The Pope, as the successor Peter, is likewise protected from teaching error in these same areas. That doesn't mean the Pope cannot sin, nor does it mean that everything that comes out of his mouth is infallible, but when he speaks definitively, as the Pastor of the Universal Church, in areas of faith in morals, he is protected from teaching error.

The mission of the Church, is indeed, to do all the things you have mentioned:

To baptize everyone and bring the sacraments to them.

In doing so, we are bringing Christ to everyone.

The Church is called to fulfill the Great Commission. To proclaim the Gospel, the Good News, and to boldly proclaim the Kingdom of God and the salvation which comes through faith and all that faith entails, in Jesus Christ.

I hope this helps,

John DiMascio

Andy replied:

Hi Mike,
Hi John,

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

Andy

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