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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Chair of Peter

"Do not lord it over those assigned to you, but be examples to the flock." 1 Pt 5:3

The role of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, has been debated and challenged regularly in history. For the last century and a half, since the end of Vatican Council I, the issue of papal infallibility has been the underlying issue. The idea that a Pope is infallible in matters of Faith and Morals when he speaks ex cathedra, from the Chair of Peter, has been so narrowly defined that it actually should not distract us from the Pope's primary role, to be shepherd to the world's Catholics, but it often does. That the Holy Father has only spoken infallibly once since Vatican Council I seems not to matter when people begin debating.

St. Peter gets it right, however. Pope's, as all leaders, ought first be examples to others, not domineering leaders. This might also be said of parents, grandparents, and everyday adult Catholics. Our primary call is to live the Gospel transparently in such a way that others might come to know and love Christ and follow a Gospel path. Our is first a religion of persuasiveness and example, not of proselytizing and the manipulation of power.

This conversation seems especially important these days as the Church awaits the actual resignation of Benedict XVI and the election of a new Pope. While we should not be naive about the great burdens and skills demanded of a Pope, neither should be forget to pray for the election of someone plainly in love of Jesus Christ and committed to a simple life of service.

Today, pray for the election of a Pope whose goodness can be experienced by all people of good will.

What do you need from a Christian leader?

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