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The Church is a Divine Institution composed of sinful human beings on earth as well as Saints in Heaven and Holy Souls in Purgatory. To refuse to believe in the Church or the Papacy because some Popes were very sinful is as strange as to refuse to believe that public transport should be abolished because some conductors are immoral or that all schools should be shut because a few head-teachers prove unfit to be in charge of children.
There is no need for concern about the Pope's decision to assist Anglicans who want to become Catholic whilst retaining some of their 'heritage'. He knows that Anglicans do not have valid orders, and that special measures are necessary rather than leave many Christians without all the Sacraments. The Holy Spirit, pictured in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome as a dove, in a Scriptural image, is guiding the Church today, just as in past ages, through all the Popes of the ages - and despite the personal sins of individual Popes.
When Christians talk together, discussing the meaning of 'Church' and 'Communion', Christ is on the edge of Heaven, gazing upon the earth, interceding for those people, praying for those who are out of Full Communion, so that they will come home, into Full Communion with the successor of St. Peter, the Pope, and with the other Catholic Bishops.
The Papacy is like the hearth at the centre of the home. As a family needs to be present together, if love is real, so a Church family needs to be in Communion with the Pope, if faith is real. All Christians are called to be in full Communion, even if they don't agree with everything in the home.
If we look at the long line of Popes, from the present day, back to Pope Saint Pius X and then back through Popes of many earlier centuries, as far as St. Peter, we see that the true doctrine of the Church has been handed on by the Popes, even if individuals here and there have been very sinful. Christ wants wavering souls to know that, in doctrinal matters, we are 'safe with Peter'.
Bishops are appointed to teach, and to lead the Church in prayer. When the Pope's advisors are discussing which men might be appointed as Bishops, it is not enough for anyone to say that a certain man is very 'pastoral', if he is not also doctrinally-sound in his beliefs, and fervent in ensuring the reverent conduct of the Sacred Liturgy.
It is good that the Pope is advised by a group of colleagues as he chooses men to be Bishops. It is not enough for men to be known as good 'pastoral' men, if they are unsound on doctrine or lack concern for the reverent conduct of the Sacred Liturgy.
We should focus on the tabernacle, and, through it, to Heaven, if strange or distorted things are heard in church from the pulpit. We can be certain that the Father has given Christ to us, Who has spoken all His Father wants us to know; and we can rely on the Church's teaching, given through the Pope and the Catholic Bishops, easily found in our Catechism. We must be confident that the truth has been handed on, and can be known.
We can look at Pope Benedict, to see a good example of how to relate to people of other religions. He is kind to everyone, and visits other buildings, but does not join in what is called "inter-faith" worship, which is a betrayal of Christian faith and practice, as is plain from the Scriptures and the constant teaching of the Church.
A Pope can set a good example for us, showing that it is possible to maintain good relations with people of other religions, even visiting their mosques and synagogues, yet without betraying Christ by engaging in what some people call 'inter-faith' prayer, in which some Christians leave out the Name of Christ as if embarrassed by Him.
Christ has told the Church, through His Pope, our Pope Benedict, that priests are free to offer the Mass in the Extraordinary (Traditional) form; yet many Bishops have shown reluctance to welcome this instruction; or they still make it difficult for lay-persons to find such a type of Mass with its beauty and reverence.
We need not be surprised if enemies of the Church shout out their opposition to her on seeing the Pope, for example, as he pays a visit to another country. Even the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ, experienced opposition, mockery, and worse. But we must keep the Pope and all the Clergy - and the whole Church - in our prayers.
A Pope hands on the Faith, telling us what must be believed if we are to live, pray and love and teach to live as faithful Catholics. He can impose discipline, and even decide whom he permits to teach in the name of the Church; but it is no part of his task to speak 'outside' his area of competence, for example, to tell us what to believe about fossils. He is no more an expert on these matters not directly relevant to the Faith than a farmer is an expert on how to cook the produce from his fields.
It is Christ our God, our Saviour and High Priest, Who has become the Head of His Mystical Body, the Church. He has also given us a leader on earth: the Pope, the Bishop of Rome who, with the Catholic Bishops in Communion with him, teaches the Catholic Faith and encourages us to remain faithful. Christ is pleased when we show devotion and respect towards the papacy, and to each Pope.
The Holy Spirit, Who brought together thousands of priests to offer a Mass with Pope Benedict on one occasion, is the Spirit of Jesus Christ, Who chose each of those men. Each responded. Christ chose each one even before each emerged from his mother's womb. Christ wants each one to persevere, and never to become despondent, or give up, because of his own sins and weaknesses.
How to know Jesus Christ
Finding Christ, Finding Life: a talk by Elizabeth Wang, given at the French Church, Leicester Square, London, 2006. INTRODUCTION. You probably know that I’m an artist. The project I’m busy with, now...
Holiness, by Elizabeth Wang
This text is the complete version of the pamphlet entitled 'SPEAK ABOUT HOLINESS'. It is based on a talk given by Elizabeth Wang. Preface. This little book contains the full version of the text I wrot...
What is Mary Like? by Elizabeth Wang
This text is the complete version of the pamphlet WHAT IS MARY LIKE? “Now having met together; they asked him, ‘Lord, has the time come? Are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘...
The Purpose of the Priesthood, by Elizabeth Wang
‘The Purpose of the Priesthood contains encouragement and advice for Catholic priests. It reminds them about the central meaning of the Priesthood, and about the need to teach the Catholic Faith in it...
How to Pray: Basics, by Elizabeth Wang
This text is published as Chapter 2 of How to Pray (Part One: Foundations), pages 9-18, entitled 'How to Pray'. An introduction to the life of prayer with much practical advice about how to deepen you...
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