Saturday, June 13

"Francis" is not the Pope because there's only one way a Pope can resign

That's feet first.

The Real Pope, still very much alive

Why poke my nose at this time into the doings of Christians?  I'm trying to head off more angst among climate change skeptics, who now fear that the Vatican's June 18 papal encyclical on climate change will take the Catholic Church back to the bad old days of the Inquisitions. 

I can see their cause for concern. 

Take, for instance, this very worried Brietbart article headlined, VATICAN SPEAKER ON CLIMATE THINKS THERE ARE 6 BILLION TOO MANY OF US (June 12).  

And this Guardian report headlined Explosive intervention by Pope Francis set to transform climate change debate (June 13); Lede: The most anticipated papal letter for decades will be published in five languages on Thursday. It will call for an end to the ‘tyrannical’ exploitation of nature by mankind. Could it lead to a step-change in the battle against global warming?

No small part of the fear is that under the leadership of Pope Francis the Catholic Church has made common cause with those who've turned claims of 'manmade' global warming into a fanatical sect that wants to mete out corporal punishment to nonbelievers.  

So I've decided to explain that the man who's presently recognized as the Pope isn't actually the Pope. 

This knowledge will come in handy during an auto-de-fé. Climate change skeptics having to defend against a charge of heresy can simply state that the papal document on climate change has no authority because it wasn't written by a real Pope. 

I feel sure such a reasonable appeal to historical accuracy would avert a trip to the stake to the extent reasonable appeals worked in earlier Inquisitions.  

Shall we begin?

The Vatican has 'resigned' Popes before, but the legal mumbo jumbo that justifies this (and deposings) is twaddle from the Christian religious point of view. That's because the authority in Christianity is by transmission of Grace through the lineage established by Jesus:

In a dialogue between Jesus and his disciples ... Jesus asks, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" The disciples give various answers. When he asks, "Who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answers, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Jesus then declares:
"Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter (Petros), and on this rock (petra) I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

Now does this mean the Protestant sects are heretical?  It means their leaders don't have the authority conferred through Jesus.  It also means they're talking through their hats to claim that the Bible is the authority.  

As for Catholicism, its biggest problem is the issue of transmission when a Pope resigns or is deposed.  In truth there is no such thing.  The only way to stop being a Pope is to die.  And only with a Pope's death is the authority to interpret the teachings of Jesus transmitted to the next Pope.   

So, on paper, the way to untangle the historical mess of the papacy would be to revise the line of succession so it excludes all pretenders the Vatican installed. But would it be that simple to straighten out the line of transmission?  I don't know.   

In any case I think it will be a long time before the Vatican tries to tackle the issue.  


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