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Question 30


How does the office of Pope in the Roman Catholic Church differ from the office of President in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?


As a protestant, from the information I have read concerning the Pope and the LDS President, the Pope is considered a very holy man of God, while the LDS President is recognized as a prophet, seer, and revelator. The pope doesn't percieve himself to be a prophet. - CM (non-LDS)

The Pope is a God-fearing gentleman. He is a good man. But he has no authority from God nor does he claim any. The Prophet is called of God to serve His purposes. He is inspired to lead the Latter-day church today much like Abraham or Isaac of old. He receives revelation for the Church. He has the Priesthood. I think that there is really only one similarity between the Pope and the Prophet. They are both good men. The Pope is at the head of the Roman Catholic Church and Jesus Christ is at the head of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Our Prophet is merely the mouthpiece of the Lord Jesus Christ. -JM (LDS)

I have attempted to address this topic by pointing out the how each office stands up to 6 fundamental issues.

I am 18 years old and extremely under-educated, so please be patient if you encounter some typos and if some of my statements are incorrect and e-mail me with any corrections. I would sincerely appreciate it.

I quote a Brother Francis three or four times in this writing, because my time in writing it was limited and I was unable to find an official Papal decree on some subjects. I do not attempt to deride the Catholic church in any way by quoting what he says, but simply find his statements to be profound in presenting the Catholic dogma, and therefore relevant and true to the presented topic.

<< Note: I refer to the two offices as Pope and Prophet, because these are their titles to their respectful congregations. This is not intended to uplift or debase either office in any way. >>

1. Teachings are Infallible
"All the Apostles were endowed with personal infallibility, but the gift or charisma of infallibility was communicated only to the successors of Peter in order to preserve the unity of the Church. Otherwise we would have as many infallible heads as there are bishops. The bishops can indeed teach infallibly, but only as long as they communicate the infallible teachings of the pope, who remains the unique and ultimate principle of infallibility." -Brother Francis, M.I.C.M.

Although official church stances on issues may change (homosexuality, abortion, etc.), the infallibility of the Pope remains, because he is considered the ultimate authority of God's Will on Earth to the Catholic Church.

Doctrine & Covenants 43:3,5,6
"And this ye shall know assuredly - that there is none other appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations until he be taken… And this shall be a law unto you, that ye receive not the teachings of any [others] that shall come before you as revelations or commandments; And this I give unto you that YOU MAY NOT BE DECEIVED, that you may know they are not of me." <emphasis added>

Likewise, the Prophet is the only true authority which can deliver revelations and commandments to the Church as a whole, and is the only authority which is infallible to the Church.

2. Have Power To Authorize Scripture
This statement came in explanation of the evolution of the standard Bible from isolated books to a compilation thereof:

"To take one example, it is the Catholic Church and only the Catholic Church, that could state confidently that the Latin Vulgate version contains all the inspired books and only those, and that it is free from error. It is also the authority of the Church that can assure us that the Douay-Rheims version is a faithful rendering of the same Latin Vulgate in the English language." -Brother Francis, M.I.C.M.

The sole authority of 'receiving commandments' and 'revelations,' as sited above, lies with the prophet. Thus making him the only authority capable of dogmatizing scripture.

3. Only True Authority
The doctrine of Extra Ecclessium Nulla Salus (No Salvation Outside the Church) exists today.

Both the Catholic and LDS Churches believe this doctrine to some extent. (Catholocism's general consensus being 'Outside the Church no salvation is possible,' and Mormonism's general consensus being 'Outside the Church one cannot attain the highest degree of exaltation.')
"We are the guardians of something given, and given to the Church universal; something which is not the result of reflection, however competent, on cultural and social questions of the day, and is not merely the best path among many, but the one and only path to salvation." - Pope John Paul II (March, 1989)

Doctrine & Covenants 131:1-3
"In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; And if he does not, he cannot obtain it."
<< Mormonism believes that this new and everlasting covenant of marriage can only be obtained through LDS temple ordinances>>
If a singular Church is the true and fulfilled Gospel of Jesus Christ, as both the Catholic and LDS Churches claim to be, then it follows that the Earthly leaders of each are dogmatized as the singular authority to speak in the behalf of the Savior in all things by their congregations; thus making them not only leaders of religious movements, but Jesus Christ's singular authoritative mouthpiece in the Earth.

4. Priesthood Authority-
The doctrine of Extra Ecclessium Nulla Salus stems from the doctrine of Priesthood Authority.
Catholocism believes that it is the only Church with true authority, because it claims that the authority was passed down to the current Pope through the ancient Apostles and consecutive authorities.

Mormonism believes that it is the only Church with true authority, because it claims that the authority was lost after the martyrdom of the Apostles and then was reestablished by Peter, James, and John to Joseph Smith in 1830.

5. Terms of Authoritative Service
My information on this is sketchy concerning the Pope, but I believe that he is chosen by a counsel of Arch-Bishops, and then serves until death.

The Prophet is chosen as an Apostle by the Church Presidency and then outlives the other Apostles.

Therefore, both offices are attained through divine inspiration to others and death.

6. Continuing Revelation (Additional Canonized Scripture)
This is one of the main differences between the roles of the Pope and the Prophet.

The Catholic Church believes the Bible to be a complete canonization of the Word of God. "We also know that these seventy-two books of Scripture form the one volume that is SINGLY and UNIQUELY Gods book." -Brother Frances, M.I.C.M. <<emphasis added>> <http://www.catholicism.org/pages/popechur.htm> The authoritative voice of the Pope being, therefore, to interpret scripture with Christ's authority. The Pope may receive revelation to change or to better illustrate certain aspects of the Gospel, but that change or addition will not be canonized. (There are numerous traditions in the Catholic Church which are not included in, but not contrary to, the Bible. The Pope has the authority to institute such traditions.)

Article of Faith 8 "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God."

Article of Faith 9 "We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God."

A fundamental principle of the LDS Church is that the canonization is not complete; thus giving the Prophet authority to authorize new scripture and to, in fact, deliver new scripture in the form of revelation and commandment (i.e. The Doctrine & Covenants, General Conferences, The Book of Mormon, etc.) which may be canonized through the authorization of the Savior.

The Catholic Church allows additional revelation as well (as stated above), but does not permit canonization out of sacred respect for the divinity of the Bible and its all-encompassing teachings. The LDS Church does permit additional canonization at times out of sacred respect for the infinite nature of the Gospel and believes that additional canonized materials are needed as Mankind progresses. Both dogmas, as noted, are instituted out of sacred reverance.

The Bottom Line-
The offices of Pope and Prophet are quite similar, the primary differences between these two offices, however, arise from the questions of 'additional canonization' and 'Priesthood Authority.' -RK (LDS)

While I do not pretend to know the doctrine and practices of Catholicism (or even how to spell it right!). I believe the Pope with in his church is held up to be infallible. This is not true of our Prophet (or some Biblical prophets). Also, the Prophet of the church is sustained (voted, agreed upon) by the members of the LDS church. I do not think the Roman Catholic church has that practice. (But I reserve the right to be wrong). Also, while I believe the Pope to be a wise and caring man, I do not believe he is at the head of the Lord's church on the Earth. I believe the Prophet is. -L (LDS)

I am sorry, but, as a former Protestant and now a Catholic, you are wrong. Because you are not submerged in the culture you are just a person looking in from the outside making uninformed opinions. The Catholic church is the real church. We see Jesus as the Head of our Church. BUT, the Lord always left someone here on earth to shepard His people. Even in the beginning. Adam, Moses, Noah, Abraham, etc. Right on down through the popes. What do you think it means when Jesus gace the keyes of heaven to Peter-the first Pope? I have never understood why people think that the protestant reformation is when everyone finally understood what Jesus meant. Do you really think Jesus wanted us to finally figure Him out 1500 years later? -J (non-LDS)

the dictionary defines office as "a position of authority, duty, or trust given to a person".

i don't see much difference between the two offices in the sense that they are both pretty much in charge of their churches and both believe god put them there.

i believe neither is the true church. first of all, the bible teaches the true church is made of individual believers, not a building we meet in. also i believe the mormons are not christian because they follow another jesus and another gospel.

the pope on the other hand might be saved, i don't know. i do know he does not follow the word of god though. the bible teaches peter was married; the pope teaches the pope and priests cannot be married. the bible teaches we need only go through jesus to get to the father; the pope teaches we need to go through the priests and saints.

as far as the mormon president goes, he is not a true believer. the mormons deny christian doctrine and the mormon prophets of old, such as b young, even taught christianity was conceived in hell. j smith said god told him all the christian creeds were/are an abomination in god's sight.

both the mormon prophet and pope are wrong in many ways, but over all the offices, as defined by the dictionary, are about the power and position they hold. you may be thrown out of either church for pursing questions, but acts 17:11 says search the scriptures. and the bible teaches seek, knock, and ask. one thing the mormons and pope don't want us to do is ask questions.

for further talks and hard questions that must be asked, please write me at [email protected] thank you. -RB (non-LDS)