Real Life Conversation on My Front Porch ...
... just an hour ago. Here's a small snippet:
"It's called apostolic succession. The current Pope and Bishops can trace their authority in an unbroken line back to St. Peter and the Apostles."
"So, you actually know who came after Peter as the Pope?"
"Yes. I have a book of the Popes inside that lists them all."
"Yeah, but I mean, when did it change over? At what point did it go from Peter and the Apostles to the Pope and the Bishops?"
"Well, during their lifetimes, the Apostles ordained others to be Bishops. As the Apostles died, there were other Bishops in place to succeed them."
"And the Catholic Church knows who these people are? Their names were written down somewhere?"
"Yes, in some form or another they were recorded as being the Apostles' successors. I don't know if EVERY Bishop is known or has his name recorded somewhere. But many of them are known."
"Yeah, but anyone could go back and make something up that claims 'These are the names of the people who succeeded the Apostles'."
"Certainly. Just like anyone could claim to have gone into the woods and dug up some plates that nobody else has ever seen."
UPDATE (10 March)
The young gentlemen with whom I conversed the other evening (and who kindly shoveled a foot-and-a-half of snow from my front sidewalk yesterday) were vastly better mannered (if a little pushy) than these jerks.