When Is the Pope Infallible?

Pope Leo X’s condemnation of Martin Luther’s errors provides some good lessons about papal infallibility and when it applies.
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Many people have a difficult time discerning when the Magisterium has engaged its infallibility and when it hasn’t. I once came across an instance where a Jehovah’s Witness was trying to make hay with the papal bull Exsurge Domine, and I thought the case might be instructive for seeing the delicacy with which such matters have to be treated.

Exsurge Domine (which takes its name from the first two Latin words of the document’s opening sentence: “Arise, Lord, and judge your own cause”) is the 1520 papal bull rejecting forty-one propositions from Martin Luther’s writings. It threatened Luther—who was still a Catholic at the time—with excommunication if he did not repent.

This Jehovah’s Witness claimed that Exsurge Domine was a document for which papal infallibility had been engaged and that it contained error—specifically, in its rejection of the proposition “That heretics be burned is against the will of the Spirit.” This, he argued, made Exsurge Domine a fallible “infallible” document and was evidence against the doctrine of papal infallibility.

There are several ways to resolve this supposed dilemma. One would be to affirm that sometimes it is the will of the Spirit to put heretics to death. After all, didn’t God on some occasions command the use of capital punishment for certain offenses connected with false religion (Exod. 22:18,20; Deut. 13:5,8-10,15, 18:20)? Another would be to point out that when the Church censures a proposition, it means that the Church finds something about the proposition problematic. But since the proposition is phrased in the offender’s own words, it is often phrased badly, and so we cannot take the Church’s position to be the opposite of the offending proposition. For example, if the Church chose to condemn the proposition “The sky is white,” we could not then infer that the Church adhered to the proposition “The sky is black.”

Let’s apply this reasoning to the case at hand. If the Church condemned the proposition that it is contrary to the will of the Spirit to put heretics to death, that does not mean that the Church holds that it is the will of the Spirit to do so. There is the possibility that the application of the death penalty in such circumstances is one that the Spirit willed in one age but does not will today. There is also the possibility that he wills it in the case of some offenses against the Faith but not others, or that he wills it in the case of some individuals but not others, or that he wills neither for nor against it.

The most fundamental way of resolving the alleged dilemma is to examine the question of whether or not Exsurge Domine involves an infallible exercise of papal teaching. The answer is that it does not.

We must recognize where the burden of proof lies in this matter. The Code of Canon Law provides that “no doctrine is understood to be infallibly defined unless it is clearly established as such” (CIC 749 §3). This means that the propositions in Exsurge Domine must be assumed to have received a non-infallible handling unless proven otherwise.

We must look also at the conditions regarding papal infallibility. According to Vatican I, which defined the doctrine, “the Roman pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra . . . possesses through the divine assistance promised to him in the person of blessed Peter, the infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to be endowed in defining the doctrine concerning faith or morals” (Pastor Aeternus 4). The passage in the ellipsis explains that the pope speaks ex cathedra “when, acting in the office of shepherd and teacher of all Christians, he defines, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the universal Church.”

The key word is “defines.” Defining something is not the same as stating, teaching, declaring, condemning, or what have you. The meaning of this term is explained in a relatio on Pastor Aeternus 4. (A relatio is an official interpretation of the text that is presented to the council bishops by a man called the relator so that the bishops will know the official sense of the text on which they are voting. Thus, what is said in a relatio is key to resolving queries about the meaning of a conciliar text.)

On July 16, 1870, Vincent Gasser, the relator for Pastor Aeternus 4, gave a relatio that explained, “The word ‘defines’ signifies that the pope directly and conclusively pronounces his sentence about a doctrine which concerns matters of faith or morals and does so in such a way that each one of the faithful can be certain of the mind of the Apostolic See, of the mind of the Roman pontiff; in such a way, indeed, that he or she knows for certain that such and such a doctrine is held to be heretical, proximate to heresy, certain or erroneous, etc., by the Roman Pontiff.”

This means that, in order for him to define a doctrine to be held by the universal Church, the pope must express himself in such a way that the faithful can know with certitude that he holds a particular proposition to have a particular doctrinal note (de fide, certain, false, proximate to heresy, heretical, et cetera). The faithful are then required to regard it likewise. If the faithful cannot know from what the pope says that a particular proposition is to be regarded in a particular way, then the pope has not defined the matter for the universal Church and thus has not spoken infallibly.

During the course of Church history, there have been many occasions where a person has committed not just a single heresy, but a whole raft of theological errors. In such cases, the Church has sometimes responded by censuring a list of propositions found in the person’s writings. Sometimes this is done by condemning the propositions one by one, “the proper qualifications being attached to each individually (in individuo).” However, “in the case of . . . Luther . . . to a whole series of propositions a whole series of censures was attached generally (in globo). . . . To each of the propositions thus condemned apply one, or several, or all of the censures employed—the task of fitting each censure to each propositions being left to theologians.”

If we examine Exsurge Domine’s condemnation of Luther’s propositions, it is clear that they are being condemned in globo rather than in individuo. Pope Leo X wrote, “All and each of the preceding articles or errors, so to speak, as set before you, we condemn, disapprove, and entirely reject as respectively [1] heretical or [2] scandalous or [3] false or [4] offensive to pious ears or [5] seductive of simple minds and [6] in opposition to Catholic truth.” The pontiff lists six different censures, but he doesn’t tell us which of these apply to which of the forty-one propositions.

When we look at the Latin text of the sentence, this ambiguity is even more obvious. The various censures the pope names—from “heretical” to “offensive to pious ears”—are all joined by the conjunction aut. In ecclesiastical Latin, the word aut tends to have the sense of an exclusive “or”—i.e., it’s this or that, not both. This makes it a slam-dunk that we cannot determine the kind of censure being applied to the individual propositions.

We can’t even infer that the pontiff’s mind was that all of the propositions are false. The censures “heretical” and “false” both imply falsity, but “scandalous,” “offensive to pious ears,” and “seductive of simple minds” do not.

Heresy is a term reserved for falsehoods that contradict points that must be believed with divine and Catholic faith. The more general term false is used to refer to erroneous propositions more generally (i.e., ones that do not have to be believed with divine and Catholic faith). But the next three named censures do not imply error. In fact, they may even presuppose the truth of a position.

Scandalous means “likely to cause scandal,” but that does not automatically mean false. Sometimes things that are true lead to scandals. Offensive to pious ears means “phrased in an offensive manner” or “phrased in a manner repugnant to Catholic sensibilities.” But again, that doesn’t automatically mean false. (In fact, this censure tends to be applied to propositions that are basically true but badly expressed.) Seductive of simple minds means “likely to be understood in a way that would lead the uneducated or inattentive to believe an error.” This also does not mean automatically false.

We can speculate which censure might be applied to the proposition that using the death penalty for heresy is contrary to the will of the Spirit (a view Luther himself later repudiated). It seems to me that this proposition in that age would have been scandalous. Many people would have pointed to the examples in Scripture cited above and would have been scandalized by the proposition that it is never God’s will to use capital punishment for doctrinal matters.

However, we cannot infer from the pope’s statement that the proposition is anything more than scandalous. It could also be deserving of one or more of the other censures, but we can’t infer from what the pope said if that were true or which would be the case. Indeed, from what the pope said alone we can’t be sure that scandalous is what was in mind for that proposition.

Because we can’t know that, Exsurge Domine does not infallibly define the theological status of this proposition or the others that it treats, meaning that it cannot be used to attack the doctrine of papal infallibility. Anybody who is trying to do so needs to better understand papal infallibility, learn to parse ecclesiastical documents more carefully, or become aware of the meaning of theological censures.

Lies, Damned Lies, and the Jan. 6 Committee

Paul Sperry

Paul Sperry  August 8, 2022

The Select Committee to Investigate Jan. 6 has adjourned for a well-deserved summer break. Misleading the public is exhausting work.

A careful review of the official transcripts of its eight long hearings shows the committee repeatedly made connections that weren’t there, took events and quotes out of context, exaggerated the violence of the Capitol rioters, and omitted key exculpatory evidence otherwise absolving former President Donald Trump of guilt. While in some cases, it lied by omission, in others, it lied outright. It also made a number of unsubstantiated charges based on the secondhand accounts—hearsay testimony—of a young witness with serious credibility problems.

These weren’t off-the-cuff remarks. Panelists didn’t misspeak. Their statements were tightly scripted and loaded into teleprompters, which they read verbatim.

In other words, the committee deliberately chummed out disinformation to millions of viewers of not just cable TV, but also the Big Three TV networks—ABC, CBS, and NBC—which agreed to preempt regular daytime and even primetime programming to air the Democratic-run hearings. And because Democrats refused to allow dissenting voices on the panel or any cross-examination of witnesses, viewers had no reference points to understand how they, along with the two Trump-hating Republicans they allowed on the committee, shaded the truth.

This charade of an honest investigation appears to have had the desired effect. Polls show the Jan. 6 hearings hurt Trump, who plans to run again, with independents. Unaffiliated voters have grown more likely to blame Trump for the Capitol riot and to show support for Democrats in the midterms, according to a new Morning Consult/Politico survey.

With the November elections fast approaching, Democrats plan to hold another round of hearings next month, hoping voters pay even closer attention. With that in mind, it’s important to examine the false claims and distortions they no doubt will repeat. They are legion. Here’s the fact-checking the viewing public—and the electorate—thus far has been denied.

CLAIM: While committee Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) excoriated Trump for not calling off the Capitol rioters earlier, he claimed they were “savagely beating and killing law enforcement officers,” according to the transcript of his remarks from the prime-time July 21 hearing, carried live by the networks.

FACT: No police officer was killed during the riot.

CLAIM: During the same hearing, committee member Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) faulted Trump for his “glaring silence” about the “tragic death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who succumbed to his injuries” suffered during the riot.

FACT: The D.C. medical examiner ruled Sicknick died of “natural causes,” not injuries, well after the riot. Luria seemed to perpetuate false rumors started by The New York Times that Sicknick was struck with a fire extinguisher, a fable debunked by both the coroner and the Sicknick family.

CLAIM: Thompson asserted Trump “summoned” a mob that was “heavily armed and angry.”

FACT: Not a single gun was recovered in the riot. For that matter, the only gun used during the four-hour melee was fired by a Capitol police officer, who killed an unarmed rioter, Ashli Babbitt—whose name was never mentioned in any of the hearings. Despite airing endless footage of rioters breaching the Capitol and fighting police, the committee omitted footage of USCP Lt. Michael Byrd shooting Babbitt from behind a doorway without warning, which was the most violent incident that occurred that day.

CLAIM: The committee put a former far-right extremist on as a witness to testify that rioters built “a gallows” to allegedly hang then-Vice President Mike Pence.

FACT:  The witness, Jason Van Tatenhove, wasn’t at the Capitol that day. He had no insider knowledge about the purpose of the flimsy wooden structure erected across from the Capitol. In any case, it was a mock gallows, not a functional one. Even the New York Times recently acknowledged it “was too small to be used.”

CLAIM: Committee Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) proclaimed in the hearing curtain-raiser—also held in primetime and broadcast live by all three networks—that the panel had evidence Trump said Pence “deserves” to be hanged, a chilling claim if true. “Aware of the rioters’ chants to hang Mike Pence,” she asserted, “the president responded with this sentiment: ‘Maybe our supporters have the right idea,’ Mike Pence quote ‘deserves it.’”

FACT: Her “evidence” turned out to be a secondhand retelling by witness Cassidy Hutchinson, a White House assistant fresh out of college who overheard a paraphrasing of what Trump may have thought about the chants, not a direct Trump quote as Cheney implied. Hutchinson later testified Trump said, “something to the effect of,” Pence “deserves it.”

CLAIM: Hutchinson also swore she wrote a note dictated by then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows suggesting a more forceful White House response to the riot.

FACT: Former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann insisted that he actually wrote the note, not Hutchinson, adding a serious chink in her credibility as the committee’s star witness. “The handwritten note that Cassidy Hutchinson testified was written by her was in fact written by Eric Herschmann on January 6, 2021,” said a spokesperson for Herschmann, who noted that Herschmann told the committee that in his deposition. The panel never informed the public that Hutchinson’s claim was disputed.

CLAIM: Based on Hutchinson’s testimony, the committee also claimed that former White House counsel Pat Cipollone said Trump’s plan to march to the Capitol would cause Trump officials to be “charged with every crime imaginable.”

FACT: Cipollone didn’t corroborate the claim in his sworn deposition before the committee.

CLAIM: The committee relied on another second-hand account by Hutchinson to broadcast to the world the alleged bombshell that Trump tried to physically commandeer his Secret Service limo to the Capitol. “When the president got in ‘The Beast’ … he thought they were going up to the Capitol,” Hutchinson testified, relaying what she’d heard from a security official who had heard it from another source. But when Trump was told he had to go back to the White House, she continued, Trump got “irate” and said “something to the effect of ‘I’m the [expletive] president, take me to the Capitol now,’” and proceeded to “grab at the steering wheel.” She claimed he even “lunged” at a Secret Service agent inside the vehicle.

FACT: Trump rode in a different motorcade vehicle than “The Beast” that day (an SUV, not the famous Cadillac limo), and several Secret Service agents have denied any physical altercation took place, casting further doubt on Hutchinson’s reliability as a key witness for the panel (records show she kept working for Trump in his post-presidential office for nine weeks after he left the White House, even though she claimed to be “disgusted” by what happened on Jan. 6, which she said was based on “a lie” peddled by Trump that the election was stolen). After pushback from the Secret Service, the committee leaked to CNN that a D.C. police officer “has corroborated” Hutchinson’s testimony. But when DCPD Sgt. Mark Robinson testified in the final hearing, he failed to corroborate her tale of Trump grabbing the steering wheel or lunging at a member of his security detail. “The only description I received was that the president was upset and was adamant about going to the Capitol and there was a heated discussion about that,” Robinson said.

CLAIM: Throughout the hearings, the committee cited Trump’s speech at the Ellipse as the spark that ignited the riot. “There can be no doubt that [Trump] commanded a mob, a mob he knew was heavily armed, violent, and angry, to march on the Capitol to try to stop the peaceful transfer of power,” Thompson said in the last hearing. Emphasized Luria: “Donald Trump summoned a violent mob and promised to lead that mob to the Capitol.”

FACT: While Trump did urge supporters to “walk” with him down to the Capitol after the rally, he specifically asked them to do so “peacefully.” The committee left that key exculpatory phrase out of the hearings. It never aired the footage or transcript of him saying, “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” If it had, it would have ruined the carefully crafted narrative that Trump incited violence. The omission was a critical deception.

CLAIM: In the opening hearing, Cheney read out loud a tweet Trump sent during the riot in which he said, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.” She claimed Trump was justifying more violence.

FACT: But Cheney cut off the next line where Trump called for “peace” and told supporters to leave the Capitol. “Go home with love & in peace,” the rest of the tweet said. Cheney blinded millions of viewers watching to the full picture.

CLAIM: Cheney, who faces a Trump-endorsed challenger in her Aug. 16 primary race, kicked off the hearing with a bold charge: “President Trump summoned a violent mob and directed them illegally to march on the United States Capitol.” She vowed to show “evidence” to back it up. Thompson said they would prove that Trump was “at the center” of a “seditious conspiracy.”

FACT: Not only did they fail to deliver any hard evidence that Trump ordered rioters to attack the Capitol as part of a conspiracy, they also began to contradict themselves as the hearings progressed. Thompson later said Trump merely “spurred” the mob and “energized” extremists, which is quite different from directing them. In an unintended revelation, one of their witnesses presented a timeline that suggested the instigators of the breaches of the Capitol had already headed to the Capitol before Trump spoke at the Ellipse. Documentarian Nick Quested testified the Proud Boys marched to the Capitol at 10:30 a.m., which meant Trump couldn’t possibly have incited them. “I was confused to a certain extent why we were walking away from the President’s speech,” said Quested, who was embedded with the Proud Boys.

Despite taking more than 1,000 depositions and subpoenaing more than 140,000 documents, the committee never found a smoking gun proving Trump was involved in a top-down organization of the riot. There was no coordination or conspiracy, which tracks with what the Biden Justice Department has found. Of the 874 criminal cases prosecutors have brought against Trump supporters at the Jan. 6 riot, none of them names Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator.

‘We Need to Kill More Hispanic Babies in Abortions’, Kamala Harris

Isn’t that evil in itself?

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Aug 8, 2022   Washington, DC

Kamala Harris met with pro-abortion state lawmakers Friday at the White House to discuss ways to expand the killing of unborn babies in abortions in Hispanic-American communities.

Harris has been attempting to improve her image with the American people by portraying herself as a champion for abortion. In recent months, she has been meeting regularly with abortion activists and pro-abortion lawmakers as well as traveling to swing states to promote pro-abortion candidates.

Her meeting Friday promoted aborting unborn babies among Hispanic/Latino Americans, a demographic that tends to be strongly pro-life and has been steadily shifting to the right in American politics.

Axios reports the vice president met seven pro-abortion Latino lawmakers from Arizona, Illinois, Kansas, Nevada, New York, Texas and Utah to discuss the abortion issue.

“[Harris] really wanted to address abortion and abortion access and how it impacts the Latinx community,” state Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, told Axios after the meeting. “Even though we have a Republican-controlled Legislature — doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be talking about issues that impact Utahns, like access to health care.”

Romero is president-elect of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, and it’s likely she will push Hispanics to embrace Democrats’ pro-abortion agenda through her new position.

She portrayed the abortion issue as a matter of helping women in the interview with Axios, but in Utah, she plans to introduce a bill to help abortionists. Romero said her bill would get rid of criminal penalties for medical practitioners who perform abortions. That means abortionists would not face legal consequences for killing unborn babies in abortions.

A Utah law bans abortions in most cases, but a judge blocked the law while pro-abortion groups challenge it in court.

Harris and President Joe Biden want to take America back to 1973 when Roe v. Wade forced states to legalize abortions for any reason up to viability and allowed states to legalize abortion on demand up to birth. They have been urging Congress to pass legislation that also would force taxpayers to pay for abortions nationwide, allow sex-selection abortions, and eliminate parental consent and informed consent laws.

Polls consistently find that Americans support parental consent for minors, oppose taxpayer funding for abortions and support legal protections for unborn babies, especially after the first trimester.

Los Angeles Times reports more about the Biden administration’s efforts at the state level:

Harris’ advisors say she is taking an all-of-the above approach in her work on abortion — making the broad political case for access, pushing for administrative actions to protect rights to abortion medication and interstate procedures, and marshaling attorneys to volunteer their time in the states. Her team notes that in some states, helping to elect a few more legislators or to keep a Democratic governor in office could stymie restrictions on abortion.

Rather than trying to find common ground by supporting abortion limits that most Americans agree on, such as bans on late-term and taxpayer-funded abortions, Harris and the Biden administration have been drumming up division and pushing extreme pro-abortion policies that even many Democrat voters oppose.

What The Best Leaders Are Doing About Change Exhaustion

For organizations to be successful they must always be evolving. Even in the best of times, the shifts and changes of that evolution often take a toll on people. The best leaders understand the nature of change exhaustion and act to reduce it, especially in times of great change and stress.

Of course any new processes and structures come with their own set of problems. But understanding how those changes affect your team is the first step in leading them through. I coach my clients to embrace the following principles:

Show empathy. I cannot overstate the importance of empathy. When people are stressed and exhausted, it’s the most important step you can take. Resist telling your team “This is how it’s going to be.” Instead, show true leadership by listening and responding from the heart. Let your people know you’re in this with them.

Communicate constantly. When people don’t know what’s going on, they quickly become frustrated. Especially in times of change, communicate constantly and consistently. Too many leaders worry that they’re saying too much. But don’t be afraid to repeat important points, even daily. Allow for candid discussion so people can safely speak their mind.

Manage expectations. Most people resist change. That’s human nature. But we’re in a world of constant change, and there’s no going back. So work to manage expectations and guide people carefully through changes. Keep the pace of change reasonable by focusing on the highest priorities.

Foster resilience. Change is never easy, but the way your team responds—as individuals and collectively—will shape the culture of the organization into the future. Try to help your team learn to view change positively, as an opportunity for building and using new skills in the face of high demand.

If you want to build a legacy organization, part of your charge as a leader is to ingrain in your team that there is no end point. Show that continued success requires constant evolution. Model resilience and agility and help your team understand that those qualities are directly linked to new opportunities and growth. Change the message of exhaustion into one of energy—the energy that fuels innovation and success.

Lead from Within: The best leaders know it takes energy to be excited by change. And by generating excitement and positive messages around new initiatives, they help their employees and organizations embrace change and disruption with ease.

Immortal Openness to God

“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing upon earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:25-26).

Shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution, which instantiated Communism in Russia and established what was perhaps history’s first explicitly atheist regime, the Irish poet W.B. Yeats attempted to capture the spirit of the age: “Turning and turning in the widening gyre/The falcon cannot hear the falconer/Things fall apart; the center cannot hold/Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…”

“Things fall apart; the center cannot hold…” It is, perhaps, still an apt expression for our fragmented society—and our own quest for self-fulfillment. The more we try to hold things together by our own power, the more we realize how hopeless the endeavor truly is.

Death, from one perspective, is the final falling apart. We lose control one last time; and this loss appears definitive. As Pope Benedict XVI described it, death is “the impossibility of giving oneself a foothold, the final collapse of self-determination.”

Christ, however, is the one in whom all things hold together (Colossians 1:17). As we cede control to him, our hearts open to life and begin to flourish; and death loses its sting.

Each August 15 the Church celebrates the solemnity of the Assumption to remind us of that truth. For in Mary we see someone fully opened to the Lord. In Mary we see someone who surrendered everything to God; someone who, instead of shrieking, “I want it my way!” trustingly replied, “Let it be done to me according to your word.” Where that openness to God is present, the body’s earthly life still ends, but eternal life, body and soul united in the glory of God, is assured.

Things do indeed fall apart, but we can choose our response. We can clutch and grasp to the bitter end, or we can surrender everything to the God who loves us.  And in that daily letting go, which is a very real sort of death, we enter more deeply into the mystery of Mary’s Assumption, as the fulfillment of God’s promise and the joyful auspice of our own calling to eternal life.

Trump Family Reacts to FBI Raid of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago

By Jack Phillips  August 9, 2022

Family members of former President Donald Trump have reacted to the FBI raiding his Mar-a-Lago home and accused the federal law enforcement agency of being politically motivated.

Donald Trump Jr., the eldest child of the former president, wrote on Twitter that the Biden administration is “out of control, [Department of Justice] is ripping this country apart with how they’re openly targeting their political enemies. This is what you see happen in 3rd World Banana Republics!!!”

Eric Trump, his second-oldest son, also went to social media after Trump released a statement on the FBI raid: “We truly live in a third-world country.”

“They are terrified. He’s going to announce any day that he’s running for president in 2024,” Lara Trump told Fox News on Monday evening. “This is a very convenient way to just throw a little more mud on Donald Trump as though they haven’t already done enough.”

The former commander-in-chief on Monday evening confirmed on Truth Social that the Florida residence was targeted by the FBI. It’s not clear why, and the bureau has not issued a public comment on the matter.

During the Fox News interview, Lara Trump suggested her father-in-law believes the search was related to presidential records that the former president allegedly brought back with him to Florida after he left office last year. Under the Presidential Records Act, administrations are required to preserve some documents.

“Look, my father-in-law, as anybody knows who’s been around him a lot, loves to save things like newspaper clippings, magazine clippings, photographs, documents that he had every authority … to take from the White House,” Lara Trump remarked. “He’s been cooperating every single step of the way with the people that have questioned any of this.”

David Ferriero, the archivist of the United States, wrote to Congress earlier this year saying that it asked Trump to continue looking for other presidential documents.


Trump himself described the raid as “dark times” for the United States as his Mar-a-Lago residence “is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents.”

A police car outside former President Donald Trump’s residence in Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, Fla., on Aug. 8, 2022. (Giorgio Viera/AFP via Getty Images)

“Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before. After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate. It is prosecutorial misconduct, the weaponization of the Justice System, and an attack by Radical Left Democrats who desperately don’t want me to run for President in 2024,” he said.

Trump framed the move as a “political persecution”—one that he said has been going on for several years now.

“The political persecution of President Donald J. Trump has been going on for years, with the now fully debunked Russia, Russia, Russia Scam, Impeachment Hoax #1, Impeachment Hoax #2, and so much more, it just never ends. It is political targeting at the highest level!” he wrote.

The raid comes just a few months before the 2022 midterm elections. The former president has endorsed a number of candidates who are currently running for office in swing states.

Trump Says Mar-a-Lago ‘Under Siege, Raided by the FBI

The bulletin

TL/DR: Trump supporters are likening the U.S. to a “third-world country” and calling for the FBI and Justice Department to be dismantled in response to the raid.
Donald Trump says his residence in Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, has been abruptly raided by the FBI, who also broke open his safe. Trump characterized the intrusion as a politically calculated move to stunt him from running for president in 2024. Supporters showed up to protest. While the FBI and the Justice Department have not stated their intentions, media reports suggest the search was related to Trump’s handling of classified documents and that some papers have been seized.

In February, the National Archives and Records Administration—which manages the preservation of presidential records—sought help from the FBI in retrieving 15 boxes of classified documents (some listed as “top secret“) from his Mar-a-Lago residence. The search comes as the House Jan. 6 committee held a series of televised hearings that have cast Trump as attempting to prevent Congress from certifying Biden’s victory. Former Attorney General William Barr said that evidence against his old boss was piling up.

What happens now? Trump is facing several other civil and criminal investigations, including in Georgia, by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and in New York under the direction of state Attorney General Letitia James. But Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. While he has teased the possibility of a 2024 presidential run, he has not officially announced a campaign. There is still no real indication on whether Trump may become the first sitting or former president to be charged with a crime in U.S. history.

Was Peter really the first Pope?

Catholics don’t just appeal to Matthew 16:18-19 to make this point.

They also make an argument from Luke 22:31-32. There, Jesus says, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.”

Here we find are two clues that, when taken together, reveal Peter’s unique role as leader of the Church. The first is Jesus’ prayer of protection. Jesus informs the apostles that Satan desires to sift all of them, which we know from the use of the Greek second person plural pronoun, humas. When Jesus speaks of his protection prayer in the next verse, however, the Greek text switches to second person singular, sou. Jesus thus singles out Peter when he makes the promise, “I have prayed for you [Greek, sou] that your faith may not fail.” Jesus then commands Peter, and only Peter to strengthen the brethren.

If Jesus intended all the apostles to be equal in their mission of leading his Church, it’s hard to see why Jesus would have promised only Peter a special protection that’s connected to his unique command for Peter to strengthen the brethren. Peter receives a special prayer of protection from Jesus because he’s the preeminent apostle who must strengthen the others.

Some Protestant comebacks to this argument attack the inference from the unique promise to protect Peter in faith; others attack the inferred significance of the unique command to strengthen the brethren. Let’s look at one example

“Jesus prays for others as well.”

This comeback aims to undercut the significance of the prayer for Peter by appealing to Jesus’ general role as intercessor. Some Protestant apologists argue, “Jesus’ prayer for Peter is in keeping with his general intercessory ministry for all believers.”  They then goes on to cite Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25 and John 17:15, which affirm that Christ intercedes for us. So Jesus was not signaling a special role for Peter but merely doing what he does for all his flock—interceding before the Father.

Answering the Comeback

It’s true that Jesus has a general ministry of intercession for all believers. But this argument ignores the context of Jesus’ prayer for Peter, which intentionally follows his telling the apostles that Satan desired to sift all of them. Jesus is not exercising his general intercessory ministry for all believers in this passage because Luke explicitly tells us the prayer is for Peter alone, even though Satan was going to test them all. That Jesus has a general intercessory role as our high priest in heaven doesn’t take away from the fact that, here, Jesus prays for Peter in a unique way. And that unique prayer reveals Peter’s unique role as chief leader in the Church.