I found this written by our friend, Pastor Weedon, in a long, long, long string in this combox on Lito’s blog:
Just to clarify: as a Lutheran Christian I do believe that the office of the papacy is the antichrist, and as such the single greatest barrier to unity in the Church.
Is that true, Pastor Bill? From my perspective, it is the office of the papacy that has managed to preserve the Unity of the Church. Certainly there is greater unity in the Catholic Church WITH the papacy than there is in the Lutheran Church WITHOUT the papacy.
Do you really believe that the office of the Papacy is “ANTI-Christ”? Can you demonstrate to me how Pope Benedict (the current embodiment of this office) is “ANTI-Christ”? Did you pay attention when he called on you recently there in the States?
It is true, and even the previous pope acknowledged (in Ut Unum Sint), that his office was, in effect, the most contentious issue in ecumenical dialogue with the Catholic Church. But I don’t think he was suggesting for a moment that the Church would be MORE united if the papacy was to be abolished tomorrow.
And don’t forget that in the same Encyclical Pope John Paul II actually asked other Christians to weigh in wich suggestions for how, without denying any aspect of the essential nature of the office, the Papacy could be re-modelled to promote even greater unity among Christians.
Can you, in fact, envision a future in which there is “full, visible unity” of the Church which does not include, in some form or other, communion with the bishop of Rome?
And finally, does your Lutheranism REALLY require you to hold that the office of the papacy is “ANTI-Christ”?
Would it not be more true to say that any office of authority in the Church (including your own, I might add, dear Pastor) might be abused in such a way as to become “ANTI-Christ”, but that no authentic authority in the Church can be said to be, of itself, “ANTI-Christ”. Rather it is precisely as a “called and ordained servant of the word” that the Pope exercises his office.
Or are you asserting that his office is in some sense inferior in authority to your own?
I just ask.
In any case, tomorrow we begin the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity here downunder. And so maybe a short snippet from JPII’s great ecumenical encyclical might not be out of place:
4. This is a specific duty of the Bishop of Rome as the Successor of the Apostle Peter. I carry out this duty with the profound conviction that I am obeying the Lord, and with a clear sense of my own human frailty. Indeed, if Christ himself gave Peter this special mission in the Church and exhorted him to strengthen his brethren, he also made clear to him his human weakness and his special need of conversion: “And when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren” (Lk 22:32). It is precisely in Peter’s human weakness that it becomes fully clear that the Pope, in order to carry out this special ministry in the Church, depends totally on the Lord’s grace and prayer: “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail” (Lk 22:32). The conversion of Peter and that of his Successors is upheld by the very prayer of the Redeemer, and the Church constantly makes this petition her own. In our ecumenical age, marked by the Second Vatican Council, the mission of the Bishop of Rome is particularly directed to recalling the need for full communion among Christ’s disciples.
The Bishop of Rome himself must fervently make his own Christ’s prayer for that conversion which is indispensable for “Peter” to be able to serve his brethren. I earnestly invite the faithful of the Catholic Church and all Christians to share in this prayer. May all join me in praying for this conversion!