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Not Pope Francis. But Pope Saint Damascus

After all, there’s a big difference. between impeccability and infallibility.

 Pope Francis when criticized, has not objected,  for he is a sinner, he said. But he objects to those who also criticize the Church for his sins. After all, there’s a big difference. between impeccability and infallibility. Where Impeccability is the absence of sin, an attribute of God and infallibility is that in specified circumstances the Pope is incapable of error when it comes to Church teaching

Consider that when this pope was elected bishop of Rome; some bishops  didn’t like it. They  consecrated another deacon, as pope. The controversy between
Them resulted in  battles in two basilicas, scandalizing the bishops. At the synod that he called on the occasion of his birthday, he asked them to approve his actions. The bishops’ reply was curt: “We assembled for a birthday, not to condemn a man unheard.” Supporters of the antipope even managed to get him accused of a grave crime.  Internal political struggles, doctrinal heresies, uneasy relations with his fellow bishops and the media a marred the peace of his pontificate.

As pope, his lifestyle was simple in contrast to other ecclesiastics of Rome, and he was fierce in his denunciation of Arianism and other heresies. A misunderstanding of the Trinitarian terminology used by Rome threatened amicable relations with the Eastern Church, and this pope was only moderately successful in dealing with that challenge

To his secretary this pope was “an incomparable person, learned in the Scriptures, a  doctor of the  Church, who loved chastity and heard its praises with pleasure.”

This pope makes us aware of two qualities of good leadership: alertness to the promptings of the Spirit, and service. His struggles are a reminder that Jesus never promised his Rock protection from hurricane winds nor his followers immunity from difficulties. His only guarantee is final victory.

His encouragement of his secretary’s biblical studies led to the Vulgate, the Latin translation of Scripture which 12 centuries later the Council of Trent declared to be “authentic in public readings, disputations, preaching.” His secretary is none other than Saint Jerome. Traditionally, Saint Jerome is regarded as the most learned of the Latin Fathers. Saint Jerome is a person one can easily identify with: As a young man drawn to libertinage, with a curious mind, he learns to stand on principle, eventually becoming an ascetic and a Bible Scholar. Saint Jerome was a Feminist, and an easy target of the noted Porphyry’s accusation that the Christian communities were run by women and that the favor of the ladies decided who could accede to the dignity of the priesthood.

Obviously “this pope” is not Pope Francis, but could have been.  This is Pope Saint Damascus I and today, December 11 is his feast day.

Pope Damasus I was the bishop of Rome from October 366 to his death. He presided over the Council of Rome of 382 that determined the canon or official list of sacred scripture.He spoke out against major heresie, thus solidifying the faith of the Catholic Church, and encouraged production of the Vulgate Bible with his support for “his secretary” Saint Jerome. He helped reconcile the relations between the Church of Rome and the Church of Antioch, and encouraged the veneration of martyrs.

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