“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Feed my lambs.” Jn. 21:15-21 | jy.catholic.org.hk


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“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Feed my lambs.” Jn. 21:15-21

刊登日期: 2013.04.14
作者: Fr. Thomas Au 區耀邦神父  

With these words, Jesus gave Peter and the Church the responsibility to “feed” His lambs both in His Word and the Holy Eucharist. In Mt 28: 16-20, Jesus gave the mission of “teaching everything He had commanded” to the apostles. 

We rejoice in God that He has given us a new pope to feed and teach us His Truth. This is the beauty of the Catholic Church. Jesus assured us that we will not be left without a shepherd and that He will protect us from error. In the Catholic Church it is called Papal Infallibility. It is one of those teachings that really troubles non-Catholics, particularly Protestants. How can a man not make mistakes? Sometimes they even think that we believe that the pope could not sin. 

Papal infallibility is not about the pope not sinning or making mistakes. He will do both, except when he teaches, “ex cathedra ”, in union with the bishops, in matters of faith and morals. 

Let me break it down. 

He teaches “ex cathedra ”, literally “from the chair [of Peter].” It is another way of saying “from the office of” or “exercising the authority of”. 

In matters of faith and morals, only. Let’s say the pope gets up one morning and has Chinese deep fried dough(油條) for breakfast and says, “It is so good. Everyone should have it for breakfast every day.” He would be absolutely correct (!) but we are NOT required to accept it as Catholic moral teaching. Particularly, we would not sin if we don’t do it. 

What we believe is that, in matters of faith and morals, because they deal with the Truth God wants us to know about, He will protect US from a pope teaching in error. It is really a gift to the Church and the pope is the one to exercise it. It is meant to correct errors, particularly misleading and confusing rumors. Read Acts 15. The early Church had a controversy; someone taught that one has to be circumcised before Baptism. St. Paul went to Jerusalem to consult with the apostles. Peter led the discussion and settled the issue. Then a letter was sent back with St. Paul in which was this phrase: “some of our number without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind.” (Acts 15:24) and “It is the decision of the holy Spirit and of us...” (Acts 15:28). That was the first time in recorded Church history that the apostles, led by St. Peter, clarified teachings of the Church in fulfillment of Jesus’ command, “Peter…. I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and ….. you must strengthen your brothers.” (Lk. 22:32) St. Paul later said this, “But how can they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent ?” (Rom 10:14-15). This sending was important from the very beginning of the Church. It is even part of the Mass: “Ite Missa est” “Go, you are sent!” We are sent to speak, in the name of Jesus, the whole Truth. In that sense, if we remain faithful to the Church’s teachings, we share the same infallibility because what is infallible is the teaching itself. 


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