Daniel Schwindt, writing over at The Distributist Review, offers up what he calls “The Case for Popery.” Although Schwindt is normally on his game when it comes to Catholic (social) teaching, this is not his best effort. Consider, for instance, these paragraphs:
Although most Catholics will readily claim “faithfulness” to the Church, in practice this tends to look a lot like the Protestant obedience to Scripture. It begins in good intentions and ends in arbitrariness, and the individual just winds up being obedient to himself alone.
Enter, the Pope.
The office of the pope—the Chair of Peter—was instituted to prevent precisely this sort of descent into abstraction and arbitrariness. Christ knew humanity, and in his supreme wisdom he left behind, not a book or an abstraction, but an Apostle. An Apostle named Peter. And he left him with instructions and a set of keys. The papacy provides the Church with an actual point of reference—a living, breathing, center of gravity within time and place.
Whether intended or not, this type of maximalist rhetoric is deeply insulting to Eastern Catholics everywhere, none of whom recognize the pope as their patriarch nor belong to his rite. Acknowledging in full the pope’s supreme jurisdiction over the Church does not mean following on every word and action he undertakes, particularly if his words and actions are ever contra fide. This is not true just for Eastern Catholics; it is true for Latins as well. 2,000 years of Church history has witnessed scoundrels, rogues, and — yes — even a heretic or two sitting on the papal throne; should these men be considered “point[s] of reference” for the faithful as well? And what of the college of bishops? What are they worth in Schwindt’s papal-centric scheme? Did Christ not have 12 Apostles? Is the Church not more than one man’s successor?