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Amanda Smoot wrote:

Hi, guys —

After watching the Pope's visit to the US on T.V., I am wondering why he accepts people's adoration and veneration.

As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. Stand up, he said, I am only a man myself.

(Acts 10:25-26)

Amanda

  { Why does the Pope accept people's veneration instead of acting like Peter did in Acts 10:25-26? }

Mary Ann replied:

Amanda,

Nobody falls down at the feet of the Pope. It is a custom to kiss the Fisherman's ring, the symbol of his office as the successor of Peter. If the Pope is sitting, one must bow or get down on one knee to kiss it but the bowing and the genuflecting is not adoration (anymore than it would be to the Queen of England) . . . It is simply reverence for the office and a gesture of submission to his authority.

Non-Catholics are not expected to do so, as they do not accept papal authority.

Mary Ann

Bob replied:

Amanda,

The Pope does not pretend to be God and does not seek worship that belongs to God alone.

He is a man, but his vocation is to lead the Church of Jesus Christ on Earth, fulfilling the commission that Christ gave to His Apostle, Peter. The great reception that he receives is by those that acknowledge this great responsibility and duty and the One to whom he belongs, namely, our Lord Jesus Christ and his chief Apostle, Peter, to whom the Keys were given in perpetuity of his office (cf. Matthew 16:13ff and Isaiah 22:15-25). Yes, Peter's office continues, just as Eliakim's did — the model from which Jesus acted.

  • How would you receive one who comes in the name of the Lord?

You may not believe that he is given this commission, but Catholics do, with good scriptural and historical basis to substantiate our belief.

You may also recall that when Peter himself walked through the crowds many would try to get their sick family members close enough to him so that his shadow may simply fall on them and they might be healed (cf. Acts 5:15). At first glance, this may seem even idolatrous, but it was simply good folks realizing God could use a man in His ministry to do divine things.

We believe today that God can use ordinary folks to do his work, and certainly a man who has assumed the office of Peter deserves respect and thanks for laying his life down at God's service.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

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