Now, this has nothing to do with the claim of some self-proclaimed “prophets”, or “teachers”, or “leaders” who put themselves in positions that God has NOT called or appointed them to be. These persons are using their gifts (for we all have different kind of gifts (John 3:27)) opposite purpose than God’s purpose in their life. For these, careful discernment is needed (for discernment of private revelations see this article: http://www.catholicplanet.com/appari...evelations.htm
). However, for those who have been placed in certain positions by the owners, (legitimate) authorities, of specific institutions, this is an indication that they have been lawfully placed in those specific positions, though they need to discern if their particular gifts or skills are capable of fulfilling that particular position, according to their purpose in life as God intends in their lives.
A person cannot proclaim himself in charge of an institution without the authorization of the Owner of that institution.
For example, a man cannot proclaim himself to be the General of a particular platoon. That man needs to be appointed General by an authority within the military in order to be legitimate. A person cannot go to the army and say that he has proclaimed by himself a new General, he will be taken out and made a fool of himself.
Another example, if a man (a Knicks fan) doesn’t like the management of the NY Knicks basketball team institution, for that reason, he cannot proclaim himself the new CEO of the NY Knicks, or make a new branch of the NY Knicks and pretend that he is the new owner. He will be sued for acting in the name of the organization without authorization.
Something similar happened at the so called Protestant Reformation which was actually a revolution. True Reformation happens within the Institution, not to brake it.
Christ instituted His Church and appointed Peter and the Apostles in charge of His Church. Those with legitimate official authority within His Church needed to be appointed by those in charge.
Regarding the Papacy (the successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Peter), this is a charism received from the lips of Christ Himself (Matt 16:18 ) (28:20) (Luke 10:16) (Luke 22:32), a Divine and proven Authority, so this is not any gift but a special gift that He receives from Christ because it concerns our salvation. Thus our obedience to the Pope does not depend whether he is holy or not, whether he seems prudent or imprudent (as of matter of fact, some scholars are of the opinion that Peter was not the best qualified among the twelve Apostles to be the Principal among them. He actually had little or no education (Acts 4:13)). His level of holiness or sinfulness does not affect his teaching authority or management of Christ's Church or any of His Sacraments. Regarding a Pope's particular holiness, this will be judged by God. But regarding the charism given to the Pope, this is for our salvation’s sake so that we are not lead astray or go away from the path of salvation by being faithful in His Church. This is the reason why Jesus built His Church in the first place, so that we are not led into error (recall that even during Christ's public Ministry, some people were of the erroneous opinion that Jesus was “John the Baptist”, “Elijah”, or “some of the prophets” (Matt 16:14), BUT it was divinely revealed to Peter from God the Father the infallible truth of who Jesus is (16:16-17)). Otherwise, it wouldn’t make sense for Jesus to build a Church knowing that His faithful was going to be taught heresies and/or be led to Hell by being faithful to this very Church that He founded. IF the charism of infallibility given to the Pope (as explained above) would depend on his holiness, then Jesus wouldn’t have built His Church on the Rock, but on sand. But Jesus said that the gates of Hell will not prevail against His Church (Matt 16:18 ). Since Jesus is God, He cannot err when He says something. So, when the Pope teaches ex-cathedra, he is exercising this charism, thus we are bound under his authority. He has received the charism of infallibility (implicitly stated in Matt 16:19; Luke 10:16) which occurs only when some requirements are met (we’ll go with more details later on types of accents).