In need of a pope?

Protestants and the papacy

Do protestants need the papacy? Given the recent fascination with the pontificate of John Paul II and with the election of Benedict XVI, it would seem that the papacy is on the Protestant horizon in a way that would have been unthinkable even a generation ago. This may be the result of savvy marketing, the omnipresence of CNN, the celebrity status of John Paul II or a penchant for the exotic. But I think something more is going on. It is the papacy itself that fascinates us.

Protestants find ourselves in the odd situation of seeing a need for the papacy. Our fate seems linked with it. Three reasons in particular emerge for why Protestants need the papacy.

The first reason is a negative one: Protestants need the papacy because we must have something to protest against. Protestantism is a 500-year-old tradition of protest and dissent against tradition.

 

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