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Part of the series on
Pope (Catholic Church)
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Coat of Arms of the Holy See.
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Saint Peter and the origin of the office
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Objections to the papacy

The Pope's claim to authority is either disputed or not recognised at all by other churches. The reasons for these objections differ from denomination to denomination.

Orthodox, Anglican and Old Catholic churches

Some Christian churches (Assyrian Church of the East, the Oriental Orthodox Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Old Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Independent Catholic Churches, etc.) accept the doctrine of Apostolic Succession and, to varying extents, papal claims to a primacy of honour while generally rejecting that the pope is the successor to Peter in any unique sense not true of any other bishop. Primacy is regarded as a consequence of the pope's position as bishop of the original capital city of the Roman Empire, a definition explicitly spelled out in the 28th canon of the Council of Chalcedon. These churches see no foundation to papal claims of universal immediate jurisdiction, or to claims of papal infallibility. Several of these churches refer to such claims as ultramontanism.

Protestant denominations

Many Christian denominations reject the claims of Petrine primacy of honor, Petrine primacy of jurisdiction, and papal infallibility. These denominations vary from simply not accepting the Pope's claim to authority as legitimate and valid, to believing that the Pope is the Antichrist[1] from 1 John 2:18,[2] the Man of Sin from 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12,[3] and the Beast out of the Earth from Revelation 13:11-18.[4] The sweeping rejection includes some denominations of Lutherans: Confessional Lutherans hold that the pope is the Antichrist, stating that this article of faith is part of a quia rather than quatenus subscription to the Book of Concord. In 1932, the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS) adopted A Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod, which a number of Lutheran church bodies now hold.[5] Statement 43, Of the Antichrist:[6] [[File


43. As to the Antichrist we teach that the prophecies of the Holy Scriptures concerning the Antichrist, 2 Thess. 2:3-12;1 John 2:18, have been fulfilled in the Pope of Rome and his dominion. All the features of the Antichrist as drawn in these prophecies, including the most abominable and horrible ones, for example, that the Antichrist "as God sitteth in the temple of God," 2 Thess. 2:4; that he anathematizes the very heart of the Gospel of Christ, that is, the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins by grace alone, for Christ's sake alone, through faith alone, without any merit or worthiness in man (Rom. 3:20-28; Gal. 2:16); that he recognizes only those as members of the Christian Church who bow to his authority; and that, like a deluge, he had inundated the whole Church with his antichristian doctrines till God revealed him through the Reformation—these very features are the outstanding characteristics of the Papacy. (Cf. Smalcald Articles, Triglot, p. 515, Paragraphs 39-41; p. 401, Paragraph 45; M. pp. 336, 258.) Hence we subscribe to the statement of our Confessions that the Pope is "the very Antichrist." (Smalcald Articles, Triglot, p. 475, Paragraph 10; M., p. 308.)

The claim of temporal power over all secular governments, including territorial claims in Italy, raises objection.[7] The papacy's complex relationship with secular states such as the Roman and Byzantine Empires are also objections. Some disapprove of the autocratic character of the papal office.[8] In Western Christianity these objections both contributed to and are products of the Protestant Reformation.



  1. 'Therefore on the basis of a renewed study of the pertinent Scriptures we reaffirm the statement of the Lutheran Confessions, that “the Pope is the very Antichrist”' from Statement on the Antichrist, from the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, also The Pope is the Antichrist
  2. Brief Statment
  3. See Kretzmann's Popular Commentary, 2 Thessalonians chapter two and An Exegesis of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-10 by Mark Jeske
  4. See See Kretzmann's Popular Commentary, Revelation Chapter 13
  5. The Lutheran Churches of the Reformation[1], the Concordia Lutheran Conference[2], the Church of the Lutheran Confession[3], and the Illinois Lutheran Conference [4] all hold to Brief Statement, which the LCMS adopted in 1932 and places in the LCMS.org website
  6. Online atOf the Antichrist
  7. See the Baltimore Catechism on the temporal power of the pope over governments and Innocent III's Letter to the prefect Acerbius and the nobles of Tuscany. For objection to this, see the Concordia Cyclopedia, p.564 and 750
  8. See Luther, Smalcald Articles, Article four

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