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St Celestine I
Pope (entered heaven August 1st, 432)
For once, I am glad you are thousands of miles away. Otherwise, I may have strangled you in a fit of rage after reading your last email. Theological “dissent” is NOT a service to the Church and never has been, no matter what your “amiable and brilliant” young professor tells you. Dissent creates confusion – temptation’s favorite weapon. I don’t have time to go into the fallacies of the Theology of Dissent right now (I am being taken to the interrogation room again in 5 minutes). I hope it’s sufficient to remind you that forcing every Church teaching to pass the test of your personal opinions (which boil down to your personal TASTES) is tantamount to claiming that you are the Pope. If you really believe that, than you ought to be coherent and join a Protestant church. But I don’t think you really do believe that – at least, I hope not. A glance at today’s saint may help refresh your understanding of the Papacy.
Celestine I was a native Roman, and succeeded Boniface to the Papacy. This was in the year 422. At that point the Papacy had already survived for four hundred years as God’s guarantor of Church unity and authentic doctrine. During Celestine’s ten years as Pope, he was busy parrying horrible threats to both. There was a promising young priest in Numidia (Africa – part of modern Algeria’s coast) who became corrupt soon after being named bishop of Fussala. He was creating quite a scandal, and even succeeded in evading discipline by terrorizing his populace. St Austin alerted Celestine to the danger, and the Pope quelled the disturbance prudently and efficiently.
He also had to face three different outbreaks of heresy. Nestorianism (which claims that there were two persons in Christ – a divine person and a human person… it’s a blunder that seems nitpicky at first, but has terrible consequences if taken to its logical extreme) flared up in Asia Minor (Turkey), and Celestine had to call an Ecumenical Council at Ephesus to put it out. He had to rein in some overzealous bishops in Gaul, and he had to send St Germanus of Auxerre to stifle the Pelagianism threatening England.
For the ten years of his Papacy, Celestine used his divinely appointed, universal authority in matters of faith and morals to keep the Catholic Church united and faithful to Christ. That, my bright young nephew, is what the Papacy is for. Therefore, if you start putting your considerable intellectual talent in opposition to Church teaching instead of at its service, you are playing a dangerous (and stupid) game.
Your faithful uncle,