WHAT WOULD ST PETER MAKE OF THE CHURCH?

St Peter

I’m nauseated by the coverage of the change in the papacy.

It’s not that I have a problem with the new pope, because I don’t.  He seems a very humble man and his focus on the poor is commendable.

What’s wrong is not even his fault.

I’m talking about the constant references to the “fact” that he is the personal representative on earth of Jesus Christ.

It’s also frequently said that he is the 266th pontiff, a direct successor to St. Peter, who started the Catholic Church.

If that’s true, then Peter has a lot to answer for!

The Catholic Church today sets a very good example in some respects, adhering strictly to conservative teachings that most churches long since abandoned – just as their members have, in turn, abandoned them.  Pope Francis I is only going to boost the church with his stated interest in the poor and his very approachable manner.   Leaders of other churches should take note – not all churches are led by what you might call “people-people.”  Certainly, religious leaders are not generally humble.  At the same time, it has become the accepted norm for religious leaders to live in big houses and enjoy a high standard of living.

But the Catholic Church, the wealthiest organization on earth, has not always had the image it has now.  Its history has been violent and sordid.  You only have to watch Showtime’s The Borgias to see this.  (Please note:  The Borgias is remarkably historically accurate for a television series.)   The Borgias were a wealthy Italian family in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries who got control of what was a very corrupt church – and made it even more corrupt.  Pope Alexander VI, a Borgia, left his wife behind and took a mistress whom he kept in the Vatican.   His son, meanwhile, was made a Cardinal and had a reputation for constant debauchery.  Alexander got to the papacy through bribery, threats, and even murder.  The political shenanigans that went on would embarrass most politicians in the world today.

Even that wasn’t the worst period in the church’s history.  In the ninth and tenth centuries, a Catholic monk labeled the government of the church “the pornocracy,” the government of filth.  Google that word sometime and you can read all about it.  There was even a female pope – a woman masquerading as a man who rose to the highest office and was only discovered when she gave birth to a child while surrounded by a crowd in Rome.

“If Peter came back as a pilgrim, how would he judge what goes on in the Vatican by the standards of the gospel?”  This question was asked by a former priest and graduate of Gregorian University in Rome, Peter de Rosa, in his 1988 book “Vicars of Christ” (page 26).

He then notes the contrast between the relative poverty of the disciples with the great wealth of today’s church.   “Jesus was born in a stable.  In his ministry, he had nowhere to lay his head.  Today, his Vicar inhabits a palace with eleven thousand rooms.  And then there is Castelgandolfo, overlooking the Alban Lake where pontiffs go to escape the summer heat.”  Here, in a palace bigger than the Vatican, Pope John Paul II had a private swimming pool installed.

“Jesus renounced possessions … Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, he said, where neither rust nor moth can spoil it.  Christ’s Vicar lives surrounded by treasures, some of pagan origin.  Any suggestion that the pope should sell all he has and give to the poor is greeted with derision as impractical.  The rich young man in the gospel reacted in the same way.”  Will Pope Francis be different?  He has already said he wished the Church was poor.

On the next page he points out another contrast.  “The celibacy of the clergy, popes included, might also surprise Peter, seeing that Jesus chose him, knowing he was married.”

He expresses consternation at the pope’s grand title “Pontifex Maximus,” “for in his (Peter’s) time, that was the title of the pagan high priest of Rome.”

At great length, he explains that the papacy’s claim to go right back to Jesus Christ is inaccurate and a convenient misreading of scripture.   (I will post something on this on another day.)  The legitimacy of the Church is based on this claim and gives them a big advantage over other churches – but it is totally, biblically and historically without basis!

Can Pope Francis really make a difference?  Two thousand years of history suggests not.  His age (76) is also against him.

But, if nothing else, he may be able to encourage some self-examination on the part of the government of the Church – the Roman Curia, the bloated bureaucracy that effectively controls the Church.   Looking at history, he is unlikely to make it worse.

As for television reporters, please read more history and get some depth!

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7 thoughts on “WHAT WOULD ST PETER MAKE OF THE CHURCH?”

  1. Mr. Rhodes,

    I am a convert to the Catholic Church, so I know both sides of that coin. The thing that bothers me about these kind of post is never, and I mean never is both sides given regarding “history.”

    Let us go to the Church of England. Founded on murder, adultery, and lust. It cost Mary and Elizabeth, both little girls at the time, their mothers. It cost Bishop Fisher and Thomas More along with many other Catholics their lives. Many Catholics, Priest, and Monks were tortured and murdered. Henry the VIII did not want to reform the Church. He wanted to divorce Katherine and the Church said, “No.” So in order for him to do so, he started his own Church. In fact at one time, Henry was known as the “Defender of the Catholic Church.” Now wealth. He robbed the monastaries and brought the wealth to his court. Along with the writings which had been presevered for centuries, by those in the Church.

    Let us fast forward. People came to the United States to escape religious persecution. So what happened??? They hung people branding them witches off the testimonies of hysterical little girls. Let us not forget those good religious people who starved to death and killed the American Indian, for their land and gold. They were hunters and were made to be farmers. Let us also not forget those who brought slaves over here.

    Does Jim Baker or Jimmy Swaggart come to mind, sir? Along with many other Protestant ministers. I remember Francis Swaggart when Jimmy got caught saying, “Do not spend your money on those filthy rags to read about this, send your money to us?” Way to go Francis!

    There is someone in my life who is now bankrupt because they “planted their seed” in these television ministries and gave it all away. You see God was going to make them rich!! The only ones getting rich are these ministers. How does a 250,000 toilet in one of their homes sound?

    Luther: Martin Luther said, “All Jews and peasants should be killed.” God’s chosen people, sir. He also took the Rosary with him, which eventually was done away with. Martin Luther was one of the most depressed men to say the least about him.

    Let me not leave out today. I have a friend who gives to a ministry on television. When she called for them to pray for her, they wanted to charge her for the prayer. If it was a long prayer, they were going to charge her more money.

    It is funny EWTN never has a “sharathon.” Yet they remain on television. Every month the other stations are having some kind of “give me your money” program. Then they “feel” God is going to bless you.

    My point is this. These are just a few examples as I do not have the space to write about it all. If one is going to do this, then give the truth about both sides of it. Catholics and Protestants have been tortured and murdered alike. There have been very good Popes and very bad Popes. There are very good Protestant Ministers and very bad ones.

    The Catholic Church sir, has also done many wonderful things. Why can’t Protestants ever write about those? God Bless, SR

    1. I absolutely agree with you. My post focussed on the Catholic Church because of the election of the latest pope and the constant references to his being Peter’s successor. Over 2000 years the Church has done many bad things, but so have Protestants and so have some of the newer churches. There’s no wonder that so many people are turned off religion! Thank you for your comment.

  2. You are correct “no wonder so many people are turned off religion.” If I may suggest two books to you which may help you understand the “successor of St. Peter” they are The Mass of the Early Christians which gives an excellent history of the Mass in Rome when they had to go underground. It is also an excellent source of the early Church fathers. I found it truly informative when I converted. Also, The Biblical Reasons for the Catholic Faith. Both books are by Mike Aquilina. What I loved about this book is it explained the meaning of the word “keys” so well. I did not know that keys were mentioned only twice in the Bible. Each time they were given authority came with them. Another thing I found so interesting was each time God used someone He changed their names. I think you will enjoy reading both of them. God Bless, SR

  3. Living in France, our options are: go to Catholic Church (and befriend the locals . . . ) or don’t go to church (ever). We have found the local Catholics to be extremely “converted” people, who are mostly 100% committed to loving others. Odd that!

    All success with the blog, Mel!

  4. As a Christian, I learned over 50 years ago to “prove all things” and remember the scripture where Jesus Christ says: “…in vain do they worship me–teaching for doctrines the commandments of men..” Traditional religion of Europe and the West is founded on “…commandments of men..” and NOT on the clear statements of scripture. Traditions we were born into hardly ever are questioned, like Sunday, Easter and Christmas, but a simple web search or encyclopedia search brings up the fact none of them are scriptural–just early Roman Empire traditions in opposition to the Biblical teachings.

  5. The scripture portrays the Catholic Church as a woman sitting on many waters showing a global influence, do you think it will grow more powerful with this pope?

  6. “At great length, he explains that the papacy’s claim to go right back to Jesus Christ is inaccurate and a convenient misreading of scripture…The legitimacy of the Church is based on this claim and gives them a big advantage over other churches – but it is totally, biblically and historically without basis!”

    Oddly enough, that is the same thing that Herbert Armstrong claimed about the church he led until his death. He interpreted the 2nd and 3rd chapters of Revelation as being not just messages to 7 church congregations in 1st century Asia Minor, but also a prophecy about successive “church eras” down through history. He claimed that the church he broke away from, COG7 (which itself is a splinter off of the Millerite Adventist movement) made the claim that they represented the “Sardis era” spoken of in Revelation 3! While the choice to interpret Revelation 2-3 in that manner is an interesting one, there is no reason to suspect that it is THE accurate interpretation of those scriptures.

    Moreover, COG7 disputes Armstrong’s claims, and says they never believed, taught, or told Herbert Armstrong that they were the “Sardis era.” Another interesting fact is that the Adventist movement did not begin as a sabbatarian movement, but adopted the sabbatarian position between 1858-1861, at which point they became “Seventh Day” Adventists. Their origins came out of the Sunday-keeping Protestant anathema, as opposed to the romantic story of a long line of marginalized sabbatarians Armstrong and Herman Hoeh liked to “explain at great length.”

    Herbert Armstrong’s claim that his church could be traced back to the 1st century apostolic church (i.e. Jesus Christ) might be just as inaccurate and totally without basis as the Catholic’s claim, but the Catholics certainly have a lot fewer centuries to come up with convenient, but totally inaccurate explanations for!

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