All right, I’ll concede I am a Papist. The affirmation of papal authority and obedience is something that I consider one of the greatest aspects of our Catholic identity. When it comes to the Bishop of Rome, it seems that all of us Catholics need to raise a strong shout of support for the individual that occupies Peter’s chair. It has become far too common among Catholics to express differing views from that of the Pope’s official teachings. Quite frequently, some Catholics shroud their opinions with qualifications such as, “personally, I…” or “my feelings on Church teachings are…” and the most infamous, “I think that the Church…” Well quite frankly, the truly magnificent aspect of having a “Papa” is that when he teaches on matters of theological or doctrinal issues, the Pope has the backing of 2000 years of tradition and institutional “clout” behind his words. The Vicar of Rome in my own mind is the equivalent of the theological, E.F.Hutton…when he speaks, people listen!

When Catholics listen to the teachings of the Church, they aren’t listening to the ideological provocations of an individual man. They are listening and hearing the messages of the teachings of the Apostles which loudly proclaim the message of Jesus Christ. The message is not about the man that wears the white cassock. The message is specifically about the man that suffered, was crucified, rose from the dead and entrusted His message to Peter and the Apostles. When you think about the enormous depth of the meaning of the Petrine mission and ministry, you cannot help but to be a faithful believer in the institution of the Papacy. Quite often many individuals lament the Pope’s role and cannot see beyond the accumulated amounts of temporal things that have become historically associated with the job. People see the position as antiquated, old fashioned or quite simply out of touch with the modern world. Similar comparisons are made when people consider the future of the British Royal family. Such arguments though miss the mark. They forget that the papacy is the physical representation of Christ’s continuous call to universal conversion and pursuit of holiness.

 The Holy Father’s job consistently throughout the historical manifestation of the Church has been to confidently proclaim Jesus’ message. It reassures me daily, when in the Canon of the Mass we consistently pray for…Benedict, our Pope, and …our Bishop not because we idealize the man that is Pope, but because we aspire to actualize the ministry he embraces. Catholics, especially American Catholics need to embrace and support Benedict XVI’s mission and message. Not because he is Pope, not because it is politically correct not even because he is environmentally friendly…but because he is our Pope, plain and simple!
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