Friday, October 9, 2009

Another Pope Post

A CEO may be someone who has created a company and built it from the ground up.  He can make up the rules and run it how he likes, because it's his company.

The pope is not a CEO.

A king, in the traditional sense, is someone that runs a country.  He has a certain obligation to take care of his people, but he can also make laws as he sees fit, because he is the final authority in his country.

The pope is not a king.

A dictator also has full control of a country.  What he says, goes.  His citizens don't have a choice in the matter.

The pope is not a dictator.

Before you can understand the authority of the pope, you have to understand how the pope is like a scientist.  A scientist does not make up the laws of gravity, he merely seeks to understand them.  He does not decide what our genetic make up is, he just figures out what is already there.  The discoveries of science build on one another, so that earlier discoveries help us to make more advanced discoveries.  Sometimes we realize that what we thought we understood we later realize that we were missing some critical information that changes things.  Gradually the things that we understand first about science are the things that we are able to classify as scientific laws. 

This messy process is much like the process of the faith.  All the discoveries of science have been there from the foundation of the world, waiting to be discovered.  The truth, once it was definitively revealed by Christ, has been there waiting to be more fully understood.  The pope, the Magisterium, and all the members of the Church enter into this process of discovering, deepening our understanding of the truth, and living it out in greater detail.

The analogy is not perfect.  Faith and science are beautifully compatible, but one is not the other.  Another way to look at it is that the pope and Magisterium are like the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court's job is to look at how cases and laws fit with the Constitution.  As the cases are very dynamic and not always black and white, the Supreme Court has to look to precedent in order to give a definitive, authoritative ruling on a case.  This is what the authority of the Church allows it to do.  As we face an ever changing world, the Church is able to look back at the precedents set from the beginning to understand how to respond to the ever changing needs of the people of the Church.

Again, the analogy is not perfect, but I hope it helps to give a little different perspective on the papacy, though I recognize that it proves nothing.  I also recognize that there are a lot of similarities between the pope and other types of rulers/leaders, so I'm not trying to do away with those comparisons; just point out that the papacy is not quite the same thing as the other examples.

Notice that we didn't finish the discussion about the verses of Matthew.  I started to, I really did! But this came out instead, so I let it.  Which means that there is still one more post about the papacy before I'm done. (Um, at least one more.  Who knows?  I've meant to write that other post a few times now, and this is what I get instead.)

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