Pope Francis - Devotion and Obedience

Submitted March 14, 2013

Cardinal George Pell of the Catholic Church. Every cardinal pledged obedience to the new pope.

Source: Wikimedia Commons/Gavin Scott

I joined millions of others in watching the biggest news story of the year so far unfold: the announcement of Francis I as the new pope. There was plenty of spectacle: impressive displays by the Swiss Guard, marching bands, excited throngs singing in the pope’s honor, and seemingly baffled news anchors barely keeping up with the action.

In all of the ritual and ceremonial dogma, one specific custom caught my eye. After the presentation of Pope Francis I as the new Bishop of Rome, each of the electing cardinals stepped up to the pope and, in turn, vowed to obey him. A vow of obedience is an enormous responsibility to commit yourself to. It means that you, in essence, are living for that person from that time on and acknowledging that their will is the most important thing in your life.

I had one question in mind after watching it all. Where is God in all of this? The focus on the celebration was clearly on a man—the pope—and the ones who selected him. The cardinals referred to Francis I as their “Holy Father.” Jesus specifically said that titles like that are reserved exclusively for God the Father (Matthew:23:9).

So is unquestioning obedience. Why was it a big deal for the cardinals to vow obedience to Pope Francis? Because, as leader of the Catholic Church, the pope takes responsibility for and acts as an official representative of the beliefs of his church. And frankly, some of those beliefs just aren’t biblical, like Sunday worship , Mary reverence and a Friday to Sunday crucifixion timeline .

The apostles faced religious leaders who demanded obedience to themselves instead of God. They had the right perspective. The apostles responded to them, “We must obey God rather than any human authority” (Acts:5:29, New Living Translation). The cardinals made their choice, and they decided they would obey a man. You have the same exact choice to make right now. Will you obey a man? Or will you obey the God who created the universe, the true Holy Father of all?

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linda effenberger

linda effenberger's picture

Hello Milan,

You have eyed something very interesting. I did not know that the electing cardinals had to vow to obey the Pope! Now that we are approaching the Passover evening and the days of Unleavened Bread, I can relate to what you wrote: "A vow of obedience is an enormous responsibility to commit yourself to. It means that you, in essence, are living for that person from that time on and acknowledging that their will is the most important thing in your life." On the Passover evening when we take the Bread and Wine, we are vowing to do this very same thing - not to a man but to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Joshua Infantado

Joshua Infantado's picture

With all these happening, I wonder if the cardinals and the pope himself know the biblical truths from the Bible. Are they really deceived or just willingly ignorant of what the Bible really teaches. I believe it is safe to assume that they really know what the Bible teaches since they had studied it for a very long time. It will be hard to believe that after their years of study, they will still believe that Christ died on a friday and rose on a sunday.


emalecki's picture

As a child, I was raised Catholic. Being impressionable, I wondered, why would anyone lie to me. In my twenties, I thought I was doing right by going to supposed 'non-denominational Bible only' teaching churches. Then I really thought that I was doing the right things. Each of the church buildings I visited all said the same message; "There are those teaching false doctrines that we need to stay away from. We will be deceived." What never caught my attention (at first) was these church preachers were teaching me this on Sundays, Christmas Day, Easter. Thankfully, the Lord put something in me that all of my life, if what I was being told did not seem to make sense, I had to research why it was being taught this way. Example; in the Catholic school I was taught about purgatory, at the same time being told that Jesus paid for my sins. Even as a child I could never reconcile this thinking. If He already paid for my sins, why do I have to pay again later? I have no basis for saying this but my thoughts are, if any of the churches decided all of a sudden to seriously teach from the Bible, in all doctrine, they may lose many people who have conformed to tradition. Losing these people consequently would cost 'tithes and donations'. Many still prefer money over God.

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