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Susan Gillett wrote:

Hi guys,

In discussing Apostolic Succession, my Lutheran husband stated there were previous Popes who were politicians that were never ordained priests; therefore the Catholic Church could not claim an Unbroken Apostolic line of succession going back to Saint Peter.

  • How do I respond to this challenge to my faith?

Susan Gillett
"Be Still and Know"
Psalm 46:10

  { Does this assertion by my Lutheran husband contradict our Catholic claim of Apostolic Succession? }

Eric replied:

Hi Sue,

Such an incredible claim demands proof.  Tell him to come up with names and solid documentation instead of relying on rumors and hearsay. 

The pope is bishop of Rome by definition. Therefore, anyone elected pope would have to be ordained a bishop as a matter of course.  It may be that some politicians, who were not priests, were elected pope (that's entirely possible), but they accepted ordination before assuming office.  It is not necessary to be a priest, at all, before being consecrated bishop, or becoming Pope. 

Perhaps he's confusing people who never functioned as priests but were elected as pope and, on that occasion, were consecrated bishops, with someone who was never ordained, at all, and ruled as Pope.


Susan replied:

Hi Eric,

I'm sure he gets this from The Book of Concord chapter on Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope.  I just scanned it and found some pretty negative claims and projections.  I am not educated enough to refute it.

It's been tough being a cradle, but lapsed, Catholic who has decided to return to the faith. There is much about Catholicism I am just finding out and regretfully trying to defend against the Protestant way of thinking.

Thanks for your quick response. I have much to learn.  I will continue searching for some studies and books on the subject, especially to defend against Protestant teachings.


Mike replied:

Hi Sue,

I don't know if anyone has suggested it, but a great book to defend Protestant arguments
is Karl Keating's:

I would also suggest that your hubby read the Early Church Fathers. These were the first Christians in the Church. I also have an entire web site dedicated to them.


Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
Suggestions for this web page and the web site can be sent to Mike Humphrey
© 2012 Panoramic Sites
The Early Church Fathers Church Fathers on the Primacy of Peter. The Early Church Fathers on the Catholic Church and the term Catholic. The Early Church Fathers on the importance of the Roman Catholic Church centered in Rome.