I am bemused, and not a little annoyed by the obsessions of many of my Anglican/Episcopalian/Church of England friends about the abdication of Pope Benedict, together with the speculation about his successor.
As Anglicans we are in the good reformation tradition which teaches that the so-called Pope is nothing more or less than the Bishop of Rome.
We also deny his claim to be the Supreme Pontiff of the Church as being un-biblical, and of late development in the history of the Church.
The identity of the new “Pope” matters very little to our life in Christ and our sharing of the Gospel. In fact he will continue to assert that we are not truly Church, and therefore are imperfect Christians. Fie on such nonsense.
And fie on the parallel nonsense which asserts that Cardinals are “Princes of the Church”. That myth has enabled so much harm to so many people.
They are Bishops - that’s all. The job of a bishop is to be a Pastor not a Prince.
Part of the subversive results of those myths are that even Episcopal Bishops are seizing more and more authority, and we the people of God are puerile enough to cede it to them.
Let’s remember our reformed understanding that Bishops are there for the good of the Church, but they are not of the essence of the Church. We can be Church even in the absence of Bishops.
Once we believe that the Lord Jesus is the ‘one and only” priest/bishop we can be delivered from another harmful myth which has more to do with male authority than with the freedom of a “gospel church”.
That Jesus appointed 12 apostles to be his successors. ‘Tis a very shaky claim.
The New Testament refers to the “twelve” who were Jesus’ disciples.
It also refers to Apostles who never met Jesus, and who were not amongst the disciples.
The biblical disciples and apostles are not entirely the same people.
Jesus had some “named” disciples. The New Testament names others as apostles.
The two lists are not identical.
The claim that Jesus appointed the “twelve” disciples to be apostles, and hence his successors is utterly bogus.
But the claim is a convenient enough myth for those male priest/bishops whose claim for authority has been distracted from service TO the Church to power OVER the Church.