Today is the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, and I have been reflecting upon the resemblance between the erratic behavior of the present occupant of that chair and the erratic behavior of the first occupant of that chair.

Peter was impulsive and did not always think things through. “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man”; telling Jesus he should avoid being crucified and being called Satan in return; claiming he would die rather than deny Jesus and then denying him three times; jumping from his boat and swimming ashore when he sees the risen Jesus on the seashore.

But Jesus called him Rock. I think it is clear that Jesus was not referring to Peter’s steady and unshakeable character, but to the supernatural gift of faith that the Father gave Peter, enabling Peter to see that Jesus was the Messiah.

So we do not have to trust in the natural character of the popes.  We trust in the gift of faith that God gives to the popes so that they will never not proclaim Jesus as the Messiah – note the negative.  God will never let a pope formally teach heresy and lead people astray, but God does not make the pope an oracle whose every chance remark is divinely inspired.

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