Tonight we dive into the topic of the Papacy and Church authority as we approach the feast of the Chair of St Peter (Feb 22nd). We’ll be exploring where in the Bible the papacy is, what the apologetics (how to defend the teaching) are, and putting it all together. This is something that can be misunderstood, so hopefully after this session, you’ll have a better grasp on God’s plan for His Church here on earth and how the Pope plays a role.
To begin our meeting, we began with a classic “Simon Says” game.
play air guitar // rub your tummy, pat your head // pretend to climb a ladder // act tired // wink your left eye // give yourself a hug // flap your arms like a bird // wave hello // jazz hands // act like a robot // run in place // clap your hands // stick out your tongue // hop on your right foot // show off your biceps // pretend to shoot a basketball // pretend to swing a bat // touch your heels // put your elbows together // touch your ears // act like you are driving a car // put your hands on your head // turn around in a circle // cross your arms // put your hands on your hips // stomp your feet // do a lunge // make a fin like a shark // clean yourself like a cat // do the YMCA // shake your head // whip, then nae nae // dab // floss // draw a picture in the air //
In post-pandemic times, I hope we can play a round of “Protect the Pope” complete with Swiss Guard.
Pope Francis Fun Facts:
– He wears his black orthopedic shoes instead of the regal and expensive red leather or velvet ones usually worn by popes.
– He lives in a small two room apartment instead of the more luxurious Papal Apartment.
– He travels in a Ford Focus and considers himself to be a normal person.
– He has been known to sneak out of The Vatican at night to visit the homeless.
– He ‘re-gifted’ a Harley Davidson Motorcycle to a charity auction which raised almost $400,000.
– He often will pose with groups of teens in St. Peter’s Square for a selfie/photo.
– He’s an actual scientist with a degree in Chemistry and he also studied philosophy and has a doctorate in theology.
– His mom didn’t want him to become a priest. When he entered a Jesuit Seminary, she refused to visit him. As the oldest son, he thinks that she felt he should have waited a bit and kept working.
– As a boy, he collected stamps for fun. Today he really enjoys reading and listening to music.
– He had 3 girlfriends as a young man. One particular one he used to salsa dance with and another which he fell in love with which he said he couldn’t pray for a week because when he wanted to do so, “This girl would appear in my head!”
– He doesn’t watch tv at all. He made a promise to the Virgin Mary in 1990 that he would turn off the tube and he hasn’t broken his vow. Even when his favorite soccer team from Argentina plays, San Lorenzo de Almagro, there is a Swiss Guard who will tell him the results and how they are doing in the league table.
– He only has 1 lung! As a teen, an infection required surgery to remove most of a lung, but he never let it slow him down.
– He worked as a bouncer in a night club in Argentina during his college years to earn money.
– He’s on twitter with over 14 million followers worldwide.
– He jots down his own to do lists and does not need a personal assistant. He enjoys having his own personal date book and jotting appointments down himself in pencil.
– He’s a big soccer fan and is a lifetime member of his hometown team, San Lorenzo Football Club.
– He knows how to dance The Tango, as all good Argentinians should!
– He loves chatting on the phone with his friends, but he doesn’t own a cell phone. He prefers landlines.
– He’s a good cook! He makes a fantastic paella and he has taught The Vatican Chefs how to make his favorite dessert – Dulce de Leche
– He has admitted that sometimes he dozes off during prayer at night, but he says it’s good to fall asleep in God’s presence.
– He’s a Lord of the Rings fan and has called The Hobbit’s Frodo & Bilbo Baggins hopeful heroes who are called to walk a path between good and evil.
– He is a movie lover.
– He speaks 7 languages.
We talked a bit about this topic back in the summer on one of our “Teachable Tuesdays” so if you missed the night, check out this video (on double time!).
The resource section has a lot of awesome videos and articles related to the Papacy, especially where it comes from in the Bible (new and old testaments!).
Just a few notes about the charism of Infallibility and “The 5 Ds”:
The Charism of Infallibility
– Special gift from Christ that protects the pope from leading the Church into error
– CCC 891 – Pope protected from error when he “proclaims by a definitive act, a doctrine pertaining to matters of faith and morals”
– Does NOT mean he is impeccable (incapable of sin) or inerrant (incapable of error)
– First Vatican Council = define 1869-1870
Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 66:
There will be no further Revelation
66 “The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”28 Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries.
67 Throughout the ages, there have been so-called “private” revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church.
Christian faith cannot accept “revelations” that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such “revelations”.
The 5 Ds Comparison Chart:
|Deposit||The entirety of sacred Scripture and Tradition publicly held/infallible, revelation||Cannot be added to or subtracted;|
Bound to believe as a Catholic
|Tradition – both oral and written.|
|Dogma||Objective supernatural reality; formally defined teachings||Cannot be changed, nothing new revealed;|
Cannot openly dissent, must accept as a Catholic.
|Trinity; Mary the Mother of God; Jesus’s divinity.||About 255 of them; most contained in the creed, 4 Marian.|
|Doctrine||Teachings of the Church on matters of faith and morals. Was handed down to the Church by Jesus and Apostles.||Can develop over time as we better understand but cannot change. Cannot openly dissent, but not a grave sin to personally fail to accept them.||Teachings against contraception and abortion; bioethics.||Truth cannot contradict truth.|
|Discipline||A Pope’s disciplinary authority ends with his death. Successors may choose to continue to promulgate the edicts of his predecessors, but are not bound to do so.||Man-made thing that CAN be changed; Binding but can be changed (can be universal, for a time, or for a place)||Lenten fasting + abstinence; priestly celibacy; canon law; certain liturgical norms||Usually related to doctrines. Framework/rules by which we live the faith. Addressing the changing needs of the Church.|
|Devotions||Popular voluntary practices||Free to believe or not; Free to practice or not, without offending against Faith.||Rosary, First Fridays devotions||Way of keeping our focus on God.|
|EX CATHEDRA||Teachings from “the Chair [of Peter]” ; Jesus affirms seat of Moses (Mt 23:2-3)||Binding||Concilliar Decree||Refers to the binding and infallible papal teachings promulgated by the Pope in an official doctrinal matter.|
|Theological Opinion||– Questions not addressed by the Church|
– As long as it doesn’t contradict any doctrine, we can speculate
– Church can settle a question, then we submit to that
|Mary’s Assumption – can speculate about whether she was assumed before or after she died|
Can. 750 §1. A person must believe with divine and Catholic faith all those things contained in the word of God, written or handed on, that is, in the one deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn magisterium of the Church or by its ordinary and universal magisterium which is manifested by the common adherence of the Christian faithful under the leadership of the sacred magisterium; therefore all are bound to avoid any doctrines whatsoever contrary to them.
§2. Each and every thing which is proposed definitively by the magisterium of the Church concerning the doctrine of faith and morals, that is, each and every thing which is required to safeguard reverently and to expound faithfully the same deposit of faith, is also to be firm-ly embraced and retained; therefore, one who rejects those propositions which are to be held definitively is opposed to the doctrine of the Catholic Church.
BREAK: Discussion Questions
1. Do you struggle with the Church’s leadership/hierarchy?
2. Why do you think the papacy is misunderstood by the world and even some Catholics?
3. Was there something tonight that you learned or found interesting?
4. How would you defend the papacy to someone who questioned its legitimacy?
5. If you could ask the Pope one question what would it be?
O God, shepherd and ruler of all the faithful,
look favorably on your servant Francis,
whom you have set at the head of your Church as her shepherd;
Grant, we pray, that by word and example
he may be of service to those over whom he presides
so that, together with the flock entrusted to his care,
he may come to everlasting life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the
unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
The Papacy – Catholic Answers (Book) (article)
The 5 Ds from Bible Study Evangelista (Podcast)
“There is an important difference between the teachings that we must believe, which are infallible (deposit, dogma), and/or unchangeable (doctrine), and the rules that we must obey but which are changeable (disciplines). Finally, there are areas where we are free to believe or not believe, practice or not practice, without offending against faith (devotions).”
Papal Infallibility – Catholic Stuff You Should Know (Podcast)
Pope Fiction – EWTN article
Discourse 3. Men, not Angels, the Priests of the Gospel – Newman article here