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“Is the Pope still important? I am not Catholic but I am intrigued by all the secular media attention given to the conclave. Does the Bible help guide my thoughts on this?”—Callie
My bet is that a billion Catholics believe the Pope is relevant and important, both in terms of the office and the person. The Pope is the authority figure for more people than the population of India or China. He sets the tone of the Church’s life, addresses weighty theological and ethical matters, and speaks to the world on behalf of the Church. He is admired, loved, and respected as the leader of the world’s largest religious organization.
The Pope should be accorded the respect due anyone who holds such office. The new Pope faces some daunting tasks. Scripture clearly indicates that people of faith should pray for guidance and wisdom on behalf of one who carries such responsibility (Rom. 13:7; I Cor. 16:16; Heb. 13:7, 17, 24; I Pet. 2:13-17).
Scripture is also quite clear on Who is the ultimate authority (Mt. 23:8-9). The Pope is not God nor does he function as intermediary between God and any man. Indeed, according to the Bible, no church or religion or religious law or ecclesial structure is required for an individual to go directly to God. This is the fundamental message of the New Testament: every individual is free to come in simple faith to Christ (Jn. 3:16; Rom. 10:9-10).
Many churches have ancient traditions, intriguing history, and positive influence on the culture. Countless people of faith have lived exemplary lives. The Bible teaches, however, that Jesus is the only Way to the Father (Jn. 14:6). Though good ministers strive to lead others to faith, there is no indication that any human mediates grace. Only Christ does that (see Heb. 7, 8, 9; also Col. 1:15-29).