The pope is the human leader of the Roman Catholic Church. Catholicism teaches that the pope is Jesus Christ’s representative (i.e. “vicar”) on Earth. Given the unique nature of the office, many people wonder if the pope has special access to God through prayer.
The Catholic Church does not teach that the pope speaks directly to God. However, he can communicate with God through prayer. The Bible is also an important way that God communicates to people, including the pope. Catholicism also teaches that God communicates indirectly as well, such as through other people.
Does the Catholic Church teach that the pope audibly hears God when he prays? How does the pope pray? Does Catholicism believe that the pope is the closest human being to God? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
Also see How Did the Catholic Church Get So Rich? to learn more.
Do Catholics teach that the pope audibly hears God?
The Catholic Church does not teach that the pope audibly hears God when he prays. Instead, it believes the pope can speak to God through prayer, much like every other Catholic.
The pope may be experienced, passionate, and persistent in his prayer life, any devout Catholic could exhibit the same characteristics.
Popes can receive special revelation from God, which is when they receive supernatural, direct communication from God. However, this is not typical and not because of the office he holds. God may impart special revelation to any believer if he chose to do so. Nevertheless, there are other, more common ways, in which Catholics believe that God speaks to people, which include:
- Through the Bible. When someone reads the Bible, they are reading God’s communication to them. The Bible teaches them what God wants them to believe and how to behave.
- Through the individual self. The Bible teaches that God sometimes communicates to people through their conscience. In this case, God reveals himself to people through an unheard “voice,” encouraging them to make the right decisions and resist making the wrong ones. How a person knows that the “voice” of the conscience is legitimate is that the content of the communication aligns with the Bible.
- Through other human beings. God’s voice can be heard through other people, such as when one person encourages another to take a righteous action. The Bible includes many examples of this like when Nathan confronted David about his with Bathsheba and God using Ananias to relay God’s message to the newly-converted, Paul of Tarsus.
The Catholic church teaches that God desires to reveal himself to people. God’s greatest revelations are the Bible and that the second person of the Trinity became a human being in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Church leadership, history, and tradition are also important sources of revelation in Catholic teaching.
Also see Can Anyone Go Into a Catholic Church to Pray? to learn more.
How does the pope pray?
The pope prays from the Liturgy of Hours and leads Masses. He also worships God outside of Mass.
The pope starts every day off praying the Liturgy of Hours. This is a daily prayer conducted by the Church, consisting of psalms and prayers to be prayed at different hours of the day.
The purpose of the Liturgy of Hours is to sanctify the day and all human activity. When someone prays during the times specified in the book, including the pope, they are constantly calling upon God.
The Catholic Church teaches that through prayer, a follower’s faith remains steadfast, as God always remains at the forefront of their thoughts.
The most important times to pray the Liturgy of Hours is for morning and evening hours.
Liturgies, consisting of prayer, are important as well. Liturgies are usually prayed communally, with the pope acting as the leader for them. However, the pope may also pray liturgies privately.
The pope celebrates Mass in the evening. The Mass includes an initial prayer, followed by the Liturgy of the Word, the Liturgy of the Eucharist, and the closing rites.
The Catholic Church teaches that the greatest form of worship and sacrifice is remembered in the Eucharist, as the sacrifice of Christ on the cross is recalled every time it is performed.
During Mass, Catholics believe that the bread and wine that they receive are the blood and body of Christ. By receiving his blood and body, they receive his real presence.
When Mass is over, the pope performs adoration. Adoration refers to the worship of Christ outside of Mass.
During adoration, Catholics may pray, sing, or take the time to be with Him and reflect in peace.
According to Pope Francis, this is the favorite part of his day.
Also see Can You Attend a Catholic Church Without Being Catholic? to learn more.
Do Catholics teach that the pope is the closest human being to God?
Catholics do not teach that the pope is the closest human being to God. Instead, they teach that God is present everywhere.
Still, many might think that the pope is closer to God due to his unique role in the Catholic church.
How is the pope elected and what is Papal Infallibility? The College of Cardinals elects the pope during an enclave. Voters pick a virtuous, holy man fit for the title of Pope, but the election does not truly rest in the hands of voters, according to the Catholic church. Instead, God is working through people to elect the next pope.
That does not mean that they have a closer relationship with God, only that God chose them for a specific purpose.
Papal infallibility does not mean the pope cannot make mistakes or sin. He is still human, after all. The pope can sin just like anyone else.
Therefore, although the pope is God’s unique steward to lead and teach the Catholic church, his role does not mean that he is closer to God than other people.
However, some Catholics may view him as closer to God because they believe the papacy has a direct link to the Apostle Peter.
Though this may make the office of the pope special and holy, it does not mean the pope is closer to God than others.
Similarly, although Peter knew Christ, so did James, John, Mary, and the other disciples. Peter’s role did not mean he had special access to God in prayer.
Although the pope is the leader of the Catholic Church, he does not have a closer relationship with God than anyone else.
Also see How Does a Person Become a Catholic Cardinal? to learn more.
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