, 15 tweets, 3 min read
My Authors
Read all threads
THREAD: On the importance of being “in communion” with a pope even if you believe he is/might be a heretic or is harmful to the Church:

1) One of the practical mechanisms the Church has to manifest unity is the praying for the pope and the local bishop *by name* in the Mass.
2) Note we don’t just pray for “the pope and our local bishop”, but we name them specifically. This makes it abundantly clear who we recognize as legitimate holders of those offices—and therefore who we are in communion with.
3) In addition to just praying for them and recognizing their legitimacy, however, this also as the practical effect of making sure it’s clear to all what Church we actually belong to. We don’t belong to an “invisible” church, but a visible one led by real, flesh-and-blood men.
4) With the prayers of the Mass, Catholics are saying we are in communion with *this man* as pope, and *this man* as bishop, even if we don’t like the job they’re doing or we think they’re heretics. Being “in communion” with someone has never meant we endorse all their beliefs.
5) But isn’t a heretic automatically excommunicated? How can we be in communion with him then?

Here we get into the difference between someone’s internal state and their external status as an office-holder in the Church.
6) When someone holds an office in the Church, such as a priest, bishop, or pope, it is always assumed that they are legitimately in that office unless a proper authority has removed them, no matter what they believe or do.
7) To assume otherwise is to introduce chaos into the Church. If ordinary Catholics can decide who is a legitimate priest or bishop or pope, or who is not, we are essentially no different than Protestants.
8) So if you go to Mass and you know the priest is a heretic, but he has not been excommunicated or removed from office, his Mass is a legitimate Mass. And if he is the pastor, he’s the legitimate pastor. You are also “in communion” with him.
9) Again, this *doesn’t* mean you support his heretical views. You simply don’t have the authority to remove him from office (or from the Church)—and remember, you could be wrong about his views, which is one reason why ecclesial authority is necessary to remove him.
10) This applies to *all* offices in the Church. So even if you believe strongly that the current pope is a heretic, he is legitimately in that office until the proper authority says otherwise. Thus, you are still “in communion” with him.
11) (It’s debatable what is, or even if there is, a proper authority to remove a pope, but that’s another topic of discussion. One thing is sure: it’s definitely not the decision of some lay person.)
12) Being “in communion” with someone is an external state, not an internal one. This is a vitally important point in Catholicism, because it keeps the Church from fracturing.

You see this fracturing all the time in Protestantism.
13) If a group of Protestants don’t like their pastor, they can just break away and form their own church. Since there is no ultimate authority here on earth for a Protestant, it’s easy to break communion like this, since communion is just a feeling.
14) But communion is *not* a feeling in Catholicism; it is an external reality which is externally manifested in the prayers for the current pope and current bishop—again, by name—found in the Mass.
15) Thus, to be “in communion” with a pope isn’t to say you support everything he does, but it says you are part of the Catholic Church and you submit to its authority, including its authority to determine who are, and who are not, proper holders of offices in the Church. /fin
Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh.

Enjoying this thread?

Keep Current with Eric Sammons

Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Follow Us on Twitter!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!