Servant of the Servants of God

One last "key" element of Catholic teaching on the Papacy is worth mentioning. As is typical with the Christian faith, a great paradox exists that endears Catholics further to their "Papa." Three times after Christ's resurrection, Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, and in response to each of Peter's professions of love, Jesus instructed him to feed and care for His sheep (John 21: 15-17). Catholics believe that in imitation of Christ, Peter's successor is a shepherd called to embrace the biblical model of servant-leadership, earning him the official title "Servant of the Servants of God." The sacrifices made of Pontiffs are often so great, that it is not uncommon for Popes, including the current Pope, to accept their appointment out of a sense of obedience instead of personal desire. So the office, while powerful, is meant to be authoritative in nature, not authoritarian like a dictatorship.

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Sources:

1. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Edition. 1997. Rome: Libreria Editrice Vaticana. http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc.htm

2. Ray, Stephen. 1999. Footnotes in Upon This Rock, 32-40. San Fransisc Ignatius Press.

3. Joyce, G.H. 1910. “Pope,” in The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12260a.htm

4. Toner, P.J. 1910. “Infallibility” in The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07790a.htm

5. Wikipedia.org, 2008. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope.

6. Archdiocese of Lincoln’s wesbite, 2008. “Ask the Register,” http://www.dioceseoflincoln.org/purple/pope/index.htm

7. St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church website, Picayune, Mississippi, 2008. “I’m Glad You Asked!” http://www.scborromeo.org/glad/c5.htm

8. Rodriquez, Pedro, “The Papacy and Primacy of Peter,” reprinted on www.ewtn.org from “The Primacy of the Pope in the Church,” from Catholic Position Papers, September, 1981 -- Japan Edition (http://www.ewtn.org/faith/teachings/papab1.htm).

9. Mirus, Jeffrey, Ph.D. “Papal Infallibility” posted on www.ewtn.org, (http://www.ewtn.org/faith/teachings/papac2.htm)

10. Kellmeyer, Steve. 2000. Bible Basics, 107-111. Steubenville, OH: Basilica Press.