The Rock Star of Rome
The leader of the Roman Catholic church is visiting the United States this week. His visit has Catholics, the media and many so-called protestants in a tizzy over his visit. The New York Times (April 17, 2008, A25) quotes one woman as saying that seeing Benedict XVI was “almost like seeing a rock star.” The non-catholic Kathie Lee Gifford says she stopped doing her palates exercises to watch his arrival and just “teared up.” In Washington D.C. nuns were seen dancing in the park to celebrate the arrival of the man who heads the Catholic church. Who is this man and just exactly how should Christians view him and his position?
The title “Pope” arises from the Latin “papa” and is used only to designate the highest ranking Catholic church official. It is one of several terms that the Romanists use to designate their leader. According to the online Catholic Encyclopedia (www.newadvent.org) he may also be called the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, the Pastor of the whole Church and even the Vicar of Christ. This last term is defined as “implying his supreme and universal primacy, both of honor and jurisdiction, over the Church of Christ.” The papists further teach that he holds spiritual jurisdiction over all the faithful. Such declarations are ostensibly linked to New Testament passages. However such support depends upon horrid interpretations of Scripture rejected by virtually every non-Catholic scholar.
Consider Matthew 16:17-19 where Jesus declares he will build his church. Jesus says in verse 18: “I say to you that you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church.” The Catholic church wrongly claims that Peter is the rock upon which the church will be built, therefore giving him primacy over all others and establishing him as the first Pope. Careful interpretation reveals nothing of the sort. It is alleged that the nouns “Peter” and “rock” are synonymous but they are not. The word translated “Peter” is the Greek word PETROS which has an undeniably masculine ending. The word translated “rock” is PETRA which has an undeniable feminine ending. The two words simply cannot refer to the same person. Instead, the rock is the truth of Peter’s confession that Jesus is the very Son of God. The vast majority of “proofs” concerning the papacy actually come from within the ancient Catholic church itself. Of course, this is sufficient for the Romanists because they hold that the church and the Pope are infallible when teaching on faith and morals. A careful examination of the history of the papacy and the gross departure from the truth of revealed Scripture scream that the Catholic church is not only fallible but is in fact an organ of false doctrine with the Pope as the chief of the false teachers. The Catholics have worked hard to tightly define the nature of Papal infallibility so as to avoid embarrassment on this point. However the history of the Inquisitions, the sale of Indulgences and most recently the pedophilia scandal and cover-up suggest the church may not be as infallible as it wishes people to believe.
There are some things that we can agree with the Catholic church on. For example, on Wednesday Benedict said, “We need to reassess urgently the values underpinning society so that a sound moral formation can be offered to young people and adults alike.” Few would disagree with his sentiments. Nevertheless, the Pope is a false teacher and must be so marked. As such we cannot and will not heap praise upon him.
 Obviously, the Church of Christ mentioned by the Roman Catholics bears little resemblance to the churches of Christ of Romans 16:16, the church of the New Testament or the churches of Christ we know and are members of today. It is a misappropriated name for the Roman Catholic Church used in such a way only by the Catholics.