MANILA, June 17, 2014—Contrary to what anti-Catholics say, the papacy is an institution deeply rooted in Scriptures, a Catholic apologist maintains.
Lawyer Marwil N. Llasos, who demonstrated this during a talk to members of the Catholic Faith Defenders-Manila Saturday, June 14, cited the many Biblical bases for what is more formally referred to as the Petrine ministry.
“The Catholic Church wonderfully fits into the pattern of leadership of the People of God…Indeed, Israel is the People of God in the Old Testament and the Church is the People of God in the New Testament,” he said.
He pointed out that the patriarchal government—the rule of a “father figure—found in both the Old and the New Testaments, has been carried over into the Catholic Church and is fully instituted in the papacy.
Church is New Israel
In an analogy, he explained that the Church is the “New Israel, the Kingdom of God”, where “Jesus is king, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Queen Mother, and St. Peter, the first pope, is the Prime Minister, with the other officials [hierarchy] and the ordinary people [laity].”
In response to comments that the papacy is monarchical and undemocratic, Llasos stressed that such a set-up is what God intends because the “Church is the Kingdom of God, not the Republic of God.”
He also stressed that matters of faith and morals are not subject to a majority vote.
The lay Dominican set the record straight on papal infallibility, a charism that has been grossly misrepresented by various fundamentalist sects.
Infallibility ? impeccability
“Infallibility does not mean that the pope is impeccable or especially exempt from liability to sin,” he said.
As a negative charism, he explained, infallibility only assures that Peter’s successor cannot teach errors.
Llasos was honest enough to admit that there have been less-than-saintly pontiffs, particularly in the distant past.
These individuals, he said, were a disgrace to everything that the Church stands for.
With the Holy Spirit always guiding the Petrine office, Llasos emphasized that even the sinfulness of some unworthy and scandalous popes do not argue against papal infallibility but actually favors it.
“Even the worst Popes did not teach error,” he said.
According to Llasos, when the Church is at its weakest, God’s grace is at its strongest.
Strength in weakness
To prove this, he quoted 2 Cor 12:9-10 which reads, “He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.’”
Llasos also finds it ironic that while the papacy unites Catholics, it also unites non-Catholics.
“The disparate churches, sects and denominations are divided in so many things, but they are all united in attacking the pope,” he said.
But Llasos is thankful that the Church has recently been blessed with “charismatic, wonderful, and very popular popes”.
“Pope St. John Paul II was a philosopher-pope. Pope Benedict XVI was a theologian-pope, and Pope Francis is a pastoral Pope,” he shared.
The talk was held in Oroquieta, Santa Cruz. (Raymond A. Sebastián)