A prudent reminder from Fr. Hunwicke:

REMORA: What exactly IS a pope?

“[I]t is one of the reproaches urged against the Church of Rome, that it has originated nothing, and has only served as a sort of remora or break in the development of doctrine. And it is an objection which I embrace as a truth; for such I conceive to be the main purpose of its extraordinary gift. “. — J. H. Newman …

Very occasionally, a Pope is, in addition to being Pope, also an important Teacher. One thinks of Innocent III, Benedict XIV, Benedict XVI. Thank God for such rare and glorious exceptions. But they are not what the Papacy is about. At base, the Pope is just the man who goes around sticking into the ground the notices which say BEWARE OF MINES.

It gets dangerous when people start to expect much more of a Pope than this.

O great patroness of Rome, and of all the faithful in union with Rome, watch over your servant and give him the words to declare Christ’s merciful reign over the Holy Land and over all the earth. –> “Pope Francis visits St Mary Major before his Holy Land visit


About The Codgitator (a cadgertator)

Catholic convert. Quasi-Zorbatic. Freelance interpreter, translator, and web marketer. Former ESL teacher in Taiwan (2003-2012) and former public high school teacher (2012-2014). Married father of three. Multilingual, would-be scholar, and fairly consistent fitness monkey. My research interests include: the interface of religion and science, the history and philosophy of science and technology, ancient and medieval philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience. Please pray for me.
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3 Responses to BEWARE OF MINES

  1. Fr Hugh says:

    While Fr Hunwicke is a very perspicacious thinker, his minimalist conception of the papacy, which reflects an enduring Anglican cisalpinism, is a serious impoverishment of Catholic and biblical teaching on the Petrine office, which has been largely expressed in positive terms, not negative ones such one who posts warning signs. Christ declared that the Church would be built on the Rock of Peter, and that his office was to feed his sheep and not just keep them in the right part of the field. Indeed if one wanders Christ seems to expect the pastor to journey in search of it, not just shout for it to come back. The Petrine office has a positive teaching role in the life of the Church. Anglo-Catholics were happy with all the accouterments of Romanisn but balked at being interfered with by a foreign prelate. He was best left as a figurehead for most of them (but not all!).

    However, Fr Huniwcke is on the mark when he reminds us not to expect all popes to live up the high standard of so many of their predecessors. They are still men, but in them Christ has promised he will guide the Church, in ways that are not always level and smooth, to be sure.


  2. Fr Hugh says:

    Oops. Line 4 – “… such as* one who…”

    Sorry. 🙂

  3. Branch says:

    I wonder what the distinction is, then, between a positive role of the Papacy and papal positivism.

Be kind, be (relatively) brief, be clear...

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