Why We Cry For The Pope

[ 7 ] November 19, AD 2012 |

(among other things)

Why do we act like this?

To our dear separated brothers and sisters, nothing comes across as more counterintuitive to the Christian religion than the Pope. The great german theologian, Karl Adam, gestured at this notion — that the Pope is the real hanging chad of ecumenical dialog — at the end of his diamond-of-a-book, The Roots of the Reformation. He is right.

Protestantism simply cannot comprehend the Pope. Of course, that does not mean that the concept of the papacy does not loom large in their theology. I’ve argued elsewhere that it is partly a matter of drinking too much of the home-made papal brew. We might also blame the way myth works: first the reality, then the lore, then the meme that just won’t go away. So it is with the Pope, and tails, and talisman and the like. For you know, of course, that the pope is the anti-Christ, eats children, and owns the world.

I mean, what’s not to like?

So it is no wonder that there are many out there who simply cannot shake the ghosts out of their schismatic motherboards. Which is why I would like to take this moment to explain why Catholics cry, sing, dance, and holler upon seeing — in this episode — a small, bavarian, grey haired man. Youth, old women, statesmen, and small children, gathered in the streets just to get a glimpse of “Papa”. This is really weird, right? I mean, it is giving me the Holy Ghost bujeebers.

I bind you Pope!

Despite our separated sistas inclinations, and far from idolatry, our displays of affection for the Pope can best be understood in two ways: the prophetic and the familial.

ALL IN THE FAMILY

As pastor of the Universal Church, the Pope is the manifestation of our unity. He is not the Church per se, we are the Church. Yet, we (plural) are one (singular). So, if the Church is God’s sacramental presence in the world, the Pope is the lighthouse of the body. He is like the grandfather at the family reunion. Everyone is gathered around him, not because he is the most important, but because none of it would be important without him. Without the old man, all we would have is the people we came with. Of course, this is no theological defense of the papacy. Just google-it to find one of those. Instead, I want my fair inquirer to understand what we mean by our affection. El papa romano means we are family — which ultimately means, we are one.

Pop a cork!

But not so fast, because ultimately there is a better reason for our joy, tears, and fog horns. Besides the symbol of our familial bond, the Pope is a symbol of our Savior’s power. We confess that He rose again — we believe the words of the eye witnesses. But, do we? Do we really believe that He rose?

HE’S ALIVE!

I do. And one big, fat, awesomely incredible reason is that the Pope is here. That’s right. The man with the tail, who owns the world, and has a secret pact with Lloyd’s of London is a type of proof that Jesus is alive. Let me explain.

If the Protestants are to have their story right, there is no good reason there is still a Pope. The Reformation did not promise just the best ideas, but the best religion. The Pope was the anti-Christ, is the anti-Christ, and the King of Kings and Lord of Lords will have none of it. Or so goes the storyline. That is the storyline, right? The pope is dead, the pope is dead, the wicked witc…, uh, yeah, um, pope is dead.

(excuse me, excuse me)

Still here!

And in my book, there is really no good explanation for why we still have a Pope, other than the fact that Jesus is alive, He is working in His Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against Her. Come on, we have had bad popes. Really, like the kind of you-ain’t-gonna-make-it-past-this-one bad popes. So, either the cat has 28 lives or something is up.

We think something is up.

Actually, Someone.

So come on and don’t be a doubter.

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About the Author ()

is a father of five (+ 1 in heaven), husband of one, convert, and a generally interested person. He has a BA in Theology, studied graduate philosophy, has an MBA, is a writer (or so he tells himself) and prefers his coffee black. His website is Almost Not Catholic. His Twitter handle is @2bcatholic. His favorite color is blue.
  • Katlego

    I love the way u explain it, so funny, haha. We have this hymn we sing about the pope we say “he is God’s mouth-piece, the father to all the faithful”, I think that sums it up.

  • Pingback: Why We Cry For The Pope | cathlick.com

  • http://www.recoveredcatholic.com Christina

    Really loved this! Even as a new(ish) Catholic myself, I still get kind of uncomfortable when I see people swooning over the Pope. Secretly I’m just wondering how hard my Protestant friends would be freaking out. The way you’ve explained this makes total sense. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://uniconoclast.com/ KtotheVan

    Yay! That was good, thanks for going there!

  • workingclass artist

    “And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it..” – Matthew 16:18

    That is why the crowds are elated to see and hear the Pope. He is the successor to St. Peter. He is our shepherd on earth. His prayers and instruction are for each of us. He is our earthly spiritual Papa. We mourn each as they pass into heaven and are elated when a new shepherd is chosen. The Pope is human but his office is holy.

    I’m a cradle Catholic and have always been a bit puzzled by the vehemence of anti-catholic invective aimed at the papacy. Most Catholic children are taught about the schisms and reformation in a gentler way. They are taught about some disagreements and errors some catholics had long ago and how they broke away from mother church. They are taught to pray for those who broke away from the family because they are confused and have lost the sacraments and to pray for unity in the Body of Christ. They are not taught to hate their protestant neighbors.

    In most traditional Catholic homes there is always a picture of the Pope. I grew up watching the Pope on TV and most catholic children wish to someday make the pilgrimage to Rome to attend a Mass and receive communion and blessing(s) from the Pope or receive the same when he travels to their country…Each World Youth Day confirms that.

    Pope Benedict XVI has been a marvelous Pope in a trying time for the church.

  • http://www.2catholicmen.blogspot.com Ben @ Two Men

    I think Truth always tries to rise to the surface like warm air. Protestants & Evangelicals have attempted to “push down” Christian Tradition, so it pops-up other ways:

    Push down the Pope; you end up with “The Bible Answer Man”
    Push down the Eucharist; you end up with “The Altar call”.
    Push down the Rosary; you end up with the Prayer of Jabez

  • http://heirsinhope.blogspot.com Alessandre

    Perfect. I spent several years in a family w/ a Baptist foster-family, w/ a Baptist foster-father & the greatest sin was being Catholic. I’m Catholic but as a kid & young teenager, I couldn’t explain why I loved the Pope. You just did. He’s evidence stretching all the way back to Peter. I can’t make Him up! Ditto the Catholic faith! & because of them, I know He lives!

    (I thought this was old-school, almost not Catholic. You’d have been punished for it were you a rebellious foster sibling of mine.)