The papal office makes the pope, not vice versa. No room here for “the whimsical individual”

Fr. Hunwicke makes the point in the case of present pontiff and his habit of off-the-cuff, dare I say it, pontificating:

The august and necessary Teaching Authority of the Roman Pontiff does not adhere to him as an individual. It applies to him as the Bishop of S Peter’s See, Rome. That is why Blessed John Henry Newman argues that what some popes said or signed after being beaten up in Byzantine prisons does not create a problem for the doctrine of Papal Infalibility. Such a pope was not speaking as Bishop of Rome surrounded by the Council of his Presbyters or his Synod of Suburbicarian and visiting Bishops.

I . . . argue, that a Pope, if he wishes to act as pope, cannot act as a whimsical individual. He lost that privilege the moment he accepted election.

It goes with the territory, something that seems to have escaped Francis. Which leads Fr. H. to this pregnant recommendation, expression of hope, change of dire necessity:

I think it would be for the best if the Holy Father henceforth confined his public utterances to formal texts which had been passed by the appropriate and responsible Roman Dicasteries. If he wishes to publish some views qua private theologian, he should, as Professor Ratzinger did, indicate this formally and explicitly.

The present situation simply cannot be allowed to continue.

I usually confine my “amen”s to Holy Mass and the like. But here an exception: Amen.

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