Jesus in today’s Gospel, by telling Peter to feed his lambs, gave him a leader’s role in his church, but he did not constitute him as the sole teaching voice in his church.
St. Paul, speaking for himself and the other apostles, wrote, “Even if an an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than the one we preached, let that one be accursed.”
At the Last Supper, speaking to the remaining eleven, Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate, the Spirit of truth, to be with you always.”
As he was being lifted up from the earth, Jesus told the eleven, “All power has been given to me both in heaven and on earth, go therefore, and make disciples of all peoples.”
St. John seems to have been the longest living of the Apostles, and he carefully handed on the gospel to bishop Polycarp, who handed it down to Bishop Irenaeus, who insisted the the pure gospel of Christ should be handed down through the bishops. He wrote, “It is in the power of all to contemplate clearly the tradition of the Apostles manifested throughout the world; and we are in a positon to reckon up those who were by the Apostles instituted as bishops in the churches.”
Coming down to 1870, a hundred and forty seven years ago, when a vote on papal infallibility was proposed, a hundred and forty of the bishops left Rome rather than being forced to vote for infallibility.
None the less, the proposal was accepted, and a questionable consequence arose:
the Cardinal-prefects of the congregations in the Curia, without actually putting it into words, began seeing themselves as the voices of their infallible pope. As such, they began demanding that the two thousand and seven hundred bishops over the world should adhere to their version of the gospel.
When Pope Pius XII died 1988, the cardinals, meeting in conclave, elected as pope Angelo Roncallli, a man who had always obeyed them.
However, the new Pope, John XXIII, felt that he had to be obedient to what the Church had been at the beginning. For three months in the Autumn of 1962, 63, 64, 65 He had twenty-six hundred bishops from all over, assembled in St. Peter’s where they prayerfully, and wisely, brought every aspect of church life into tune with the original gospel.
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