Tuesday, September 9, 2008

"Our Lord God the Pope"...not: Part 1

NOTA BENE: I might get a bit emotional and sharp-tongued in in the following article, so excuse me in advance if my words become too acerbic.

If there is one thing, one argument that some anti-Catholics use that would irk me, it's their trying to prove the "Pope is God" by showing various quotes from (supposedly) Catholic works which show a Pope or a Cleric proclaiming that the Pope is equivalent to and is God Himself under the flesh.I know a few will say, "Come on, these guys have their proof and even provide citations for them! How can you refute these?"

I answer that: While these people may have done a commendable job of trying to provide citations for a statement (a plus point in my book), providing citations is not enough in many cases. I believe that one must also show the statement in question in context (cherry-picking one phrase and interpreting it removed from its context is just intolerable, IMHO), show other related works (if possible) that corroborate the statement, and always provide correct citations.If the Church teaches that the Pope is God in human form, then why doesn't a statement similar to that one appear in the Catechism, where just about all things that Catholics believe in are written? And be better sure that if there is any evidence to the contrary, that it is published in the official Catechism and not in local ones.

Now, let's first adress three of these supposed 'quotes', shall we?

1.) These words are written in the Roman Canon Law 1685: "To believethat our Lord God the Pope has not the power to decree as he is decreed, is tobe deemed heretical."Father A. Pereira says: "It is quite certain that Popes have neverapproved or rejected this title 'Lord God the Pope,' for the passage in thegloss referred to appears in the edition of the Canon Law published in Rome in1580 by Gregory XIII."
Quite believable, this one, isn't it? Yet the problem with this quote is:

1.) Pope Gregory XIII's Canon Law was published in 1582, not 1580 (though this is just a minor quibble).

2.) António Pereira de Figueiredo (1761-1797) was a priest in Lisbon who published many works, including a translation of the Bible and a work entitled Tentativa Theologica (first published in 1766; it is in this work where this quote supposedly appears), in which he attacked the Papal predominancy in Portugal. The work was then translated in Latin, Spanish and Italian and sparked a controversy; eventually because of this, Pereira was excommunicated.

There is some information about Pereira in this (Spanish) work entitled Historia de los Heterodoxos Españoles (History of heterodox Spaniards?) VII, chapter 2. If someone knows Spanish and can translate this chapter for me, please contact me or post in the comment box.

3.) All that Fr. Pereira he says is that the passage in the gloss referred to (in other words, the passage that is referred to in the gloss) appears in the Canon Law edition. He does not say that the gloss itself appears in this edition of the Canon Law (and it doesn't). So, suppose someone were to write a false statement in relation to another written work anywhere, would that affect the truth or otherwise the referenced written work itself?

Now, let's move on:

2.) "The Pope is not only the representative of Jesus Christ, he is Jesus Christ himself, hidden under the veil of flesh."-Catholic National, July 1895
Frs. Leslie Rumble and Charles M. Carty already answered this question in volume 2 of their Radio Replies (which were actually transcripts of a 1930's radio program hosted by them), so I would defer to them here:

2-310. Pope Pius X made the blasphemous claim that he was "Jesus Christ hidden under the veil of the flesh. Does the Pope speak? It is Jesus Christ who speaks."
REPLY: A Protestant paper, the "Church Review," in England, October 3, 1895, charges Cardinal Sarto, Archbishop of Venice, with having uttered those words at Venice. Cardinal Sarto was elected Pope in 1903. But as soon as the charge was made in 1895 that Cardinal Sarto had said those words, inquiries were sent from England to Venice, and Cardinal Sarto produced the manuscript of his discourse. And this is what he actually did say:"The Pope REPRESENTS Jesus Christ Himself, and therefore is a loving father. The life of the Pope is a holocaust of love for the human family. His word is love; love, his weapon; love, the answer he gives to all who hate him; love, his flag, that is, the Cross, which signed the greatest triumph on Earth and in Heaven."
1.) The quote is said to have appeared from an English Protestant publication (October 3, 1895), not a Catholic one. As an aside, that quote had also appeared earlier from another Protestant magazine entitled Evangelical Christendom in January 1 of that year.

2.) The actual words of Cardinal Sarto (later Pope Pius X; he only became Pope in 1903) says that the Pope represents Jesus Christ, not that he is Jesus Christ, as this misquote (and those who use them) loves to say.

3.) I haven't been able to find anything about Catholic National. There is however, a Catholic publication which have the names National Catholic Register which is the oldest Catholic newspaper in the United States; however, this publication was begun in 1927.
Can someone at least show me proof that there was a 19th-century publication entitled Catholic National, and that the quote appeared in there?

UPDATE (2014/08/24): I just found a rather interesting link that may be pertinent to the discussion. (Oh, and this one.) Given how ephemeral Internet pages can be I'll just quote the thing in full. This by the way is from the British Catholic paper The Tablet (nowadays rather infamous for its liberal stance), back when it was not so infamous (January 18th, 1896; p. 20) ;):


SIR,—I have received to-day the enclosed letter from a priest in Venice, with reference to the correspondence published in your paper of November 30 last; which was called forth by a statement in The Church Review to the effect that the Cardinal Patriarch of Venice had taught "the transubstantiation of the Pope into the Person of the Eternal Son of God." The letter speaks for itself. I have sent a copy to The Church Review; but, after recent experience, I am by no means certain that the editor of that journal will publish it, and I should therefore be obliged if you would find a place for the enclosed in your columns.

 I am, Sir, your obedient servant, S. ANDREWS.

Copy of letter of Don Marino to the Rev. S. Andrews:
"Rev. F. S. Andrews,—A lady who lives with the [. . .] family here in Venice, came to me and interested me about a misrepresentation of a sermon made by the Patriarch of Venice in his own Cathedral.
"I went to the Patriarch to know the truth. He flatly denies the words and the interpretation attributed to him by the Catholique National and The Church Review. Nay, he wrote to me a letter, which I faithfully translate for you:
" 'Dear Don Marino,—I have read all the Homilies I have made since my coming here in Venice, and only in the sermon for the Anniversary of the election of the Holy Father I said these exact words:
" "The Pope represents Jesus Christ Himself, and therefore is a loving father. The life of the Pope is a holocaust of love for the human family. His word is love. Love, his weapons; love, the answer he gives to all those who hate him; love, his flag—i.e., the Cross, which signed the greatest triumph on earth and in heaven ... &c."
" 'A father of the Company of Jesus also wrote me interesting me to state the very words I have read for refuting the Protestant newspaper, and I could not but give him the answer I give you, whilst I sign myself, with esteem and affection,
" 'Yours obligedly and affectionately in Jesus Christ, "
+ JOSEPH, Cardinal Sarto, Patriarch.' " 

"This is the faithful translation of the letter. As you see, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, of the 'transubstantiation of the Pope into the Person of the Eternal Son of God,' as The Church Review says.
"Please forgive my bad English, and, with best regards,
"I remain, yours sincerely,
"Venice, January 10, 1896."
This is most likely where Radio Replies got the quote. This meanwhile is from the earlier, November 30th, 1895 issue of The Tablet (pp. 25-26). Again, I'll quote the thing in full just in case, but since the letter also talks about other stuff (this is actually a very lengthy letter) I'll just bold the relevant parts. I think this might at least be a further key to unlocking the mystery.
The Rev. T. Andrews, of St. Mary-of-the-Angels, Bayswater, sends us the following correspondence:
To the Editor of The Tablet.
Sir,—I am venturing to send you the enclosed correspondence in the hope that you may think it worth while to give it publicity, as a specimen of Ritualist fairness and candour in regard to Roman matters. I must explain that my first letter (the only one which the Editor allowed to appear) was called forth by three statements in The Church Review. Of those statements, the first related to a passage in the Durandus in regard to Communion in one kind, of which one clause only of a sentence had been quoted apart from the rest; the whole drift of the passage being in an exactly opposite direction to that which was alleged, as I pointed out. No reply having been offered to that portion of my letter, I need not trouble you with the subject, but will call your attention only to the second and third statements, which are dealt with in the enclosed extract which I append:
In a letter published on October 3 and signed W. G. B.,' I find two marvellous statements. (1) It is said that there is a large and powerful section of the Roman body which holds and teaches that the accidents as well as the substance of the consecrated elements are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ—in other words, that there is a transubstantiation of the accidents! Surely this is absolute nonsense—a contradiction in terms. It is inconceivable that any reasonable and educated persons could hold such an absurd theory, and I know of no one who does hold it, or ever has held it. If it were not a subject of such solemnity, one could hardly refrain from laughter at its absurdity, and I defy your correspondent to bring forward any justification of his statement. (2) But there is a yet greater depth of absurdity —and not merely absurdity, but blasphemy—in another statement attributed, not to a section of Catholics, but to the Archbishop (i.e., the Cardinal Patriarch) of Venice. It is said by the same writer that the Patriarch "is reported to have taught from his cathedral pulpit the transubstantiation (!) of the person of the Pope into the Person of the Eternal Son of God." Your correspondent may well term such teaching the most horrible blasphemy, unmatched in the history of the Christian Church.' But, let me ask, how is it possible that he could have believed a Christian Bishop to have been capable of proclaiming such blasphemy? Such a statement seems, indeed, too contemptible and too monstrous to contradict or to notice in any way. But, appearing as it does in a journal of respectable and accredited position, and professing to represent a large and influential section of the Church of England, it may, I fear, gain some credence amongst weak-minded readers. I, therefore—in common, as I am quite sure, with all my co-religionists—indignantly and emphatically deny the possibility of its truth, and I challenge your correspondent to state when and where this report originated, by what channel it reached his ears, and to declare plainly whether he himself attaches any credibility to it. I cannot refrain from asking also, in conclusion, whether the circulation of such a horrible report—such a speaking-evil of dignities' in another 'branch' of the Church—is the way to promote the cause of the reunion of Christendom and to advance the kingdom of Christ.
To that letter I found the enclosed reply, printed in the next issue of The Church Review.
To the Editor of The Church Review.
Sir,—In reply to your various discontented correspondents, I wish to say that my letter on the difficulties (constantly accruing) of Reunion neither contained nor was meant to contain any accusation against our Roman Catholic brethren. In that letter I simply referred to the development of individual ideas into pious opinions, which in course of time eventuate in positive dogma. In mentioning two examples which might so develop, I was careful not to mention them as being facts, and therefore wrote, it is said; "it was recently reported.' No one believes for a moment that the Roman Church can be held responsible for the utterances of its individual members, however eminent. It is always considered unwise for one who, like myself, is not learned in Roman casuistry to cross swords with any one who is a specialist in such learning. Therefore I decline to be drawn into a controversy about 'substance' and accidents,' especially since to suit emergencies these terms are sometimes treated as distinct theological ideas, and sometimes are confused together, or are considered as a contradiction in terms.' What makes the task more difficult to one who is not a casuist is the fact that he is unable to avail himself of the so-called moral philosophy of Liguori, saint and doctor, the most authoritative teacher of morals in the Roman Church, who lays down that equivocation is certainly lawful at all times for a just cause, while mental reservation, so long as it is not pure, is always lawful too, for a just cause.' No argument is of any use where the two parties to a discussion do not define their logical terms before starting, and settle them in a univocal sense and not in an equivocal. For myself I can only say that I have not only heard the question of Transaccidentalism discussed as an existing belief, but have also seen controversial letters in the press on the subject. But as Father Andrews contradicts the whole thing in toto why should I appear to dogmatize on the matter. As to the extract from the Cardinal Patriarch's sermon, it was taken from a rather long report inserted by one of the many papers which I take in, and purported, I believe, to be a copy from an Italian paper, and was unaccompanied by any hostile comment, as far as I remember. I am sorry that it should have been destroyed, but I think I can get a fresh copy from London, when I will send it to you, so that you may print any portion of it you think fit, and substantiate my good faith.
I am pointedly asked whether or not I believe that any Christian Bishop would make such statements. I do not wish to believe it, and cling to the hope that his Eminence has been misunderstood, and so misreported. I only made a passing allusion to the case as expressive of a fear that if the report were true, and such teaching generally accepted, it would discourage hopes of Reunion. I may also add, that even Popes have been declared heretics-at least eight-so that it is not difficult to conceive it quite possible that Cardinal Patriarchs and ordinary priests may hold heretical opinions.
I had not the least intention of stirring up any unkindly feelings, or of 'misleading ignorant persons;' at the same time, I cannot forget the wicked forgery of the Nag's Head, which even Christian priests are not ashamed to retail among the unlearned over whom they have influence. I beg to thank 'A.B.' for his most opposite remarks on this case, and so anticipating what I should have liked to say.


I answered the above by a protest against the false issues which 'W.G.B.' had (as I considered) raised in regard to consistency, equivocation, &c., and declined on my part to discuss such questions. I called upon him to give references (or any single reference) as to the published letters on 'Transaccidentalism,' which he professed to have read. I remarked on the impossibility of proving a negative, and insisted on the obligation, which rested on him, of substantiating the statements he had made.
This letter was not inserted in The Church Review; but in the 'Answers to correspondents' I found the following:
"S. Andrews. - We fear we must ask you to wait till 'W.G.B.' has verified his quotation."
I waited accordingly; and on November 14 appeared the following paragraph in the front page of the paper:

"W.G.B." sends us the following, in corroboration of his statement about the transubstantiation of the Pope:
"The Catholique National for July 13 quotes the following words recently uttered by the Archbishop of Venice: 'The Pope is not only the representative of Jesus Christ, but he is Jesus Christ Himself, hidden under the veil of the flesh. Does the Pope speak? It is Jesus Christ who speaks. Does the Pope accord a favour or pronounce an anathema? It is Jesus Christ who pronounces the anathema or accords the favour. So that when the Pope speaks, we have no business to examine. We have only to obey. We have no right to criticize his decisions or discuss his commands. Therefore, everyone who would wear the crown ought to submit himself to Divine Right.'"

To this I replied in a letter, which received the same treatment as my former one: i.e., it was suppressed. I am sending you a copy of it, and also append the Editor's excuse for not publishing it-an excuse, of the honesty and truthfulness of which I leave your readers to judge. Comment on my part appears to me quite unnecessary.

To the Editor of The Church Review.
Sir,-Your correspondent "W.G.B." has certainly lost no time in endeavouring to corroborate his statement in regard to the Patriarch of Venice. That he has succeeded in his attempt I cannot admit. For the sake of clearness, let me give the two statements side by side.
"W.G.B." says: "It is reported that the Archbishop of Venice, preaching in his own Cathedral, taught the transubstantiation of the Pope (a man born in sin) into the Person of the Eternal Son of God."
In corroboration of this, he has now written to you: The Catholique National, for July 13, quotes the following words recently uttered by the Archbishop of Venice:
"The Pope is not only the representative of Jesus Christ, but he is Jesus Christ Himself hidden under the veil of the flesh. Does the Pope speak? It is Jesus Christ who speaks. Does the Pope accord a favour or pronounce an anathema? It is Jesus Christ who pronounces the anathema or accords the favour, so that when the Pope speaks, we have no business to examine. We have only to obey."
Let me say that in the first instance that I have quite allow the language as quoted to have been somewhat hyperbolical, and perhaps liable to miscontruction by the ignorant. But, though I have assumed the Patriarch to have been accurately quoted, I must point out, by way of protest, that the words cited by "W.G.B." are a translation of a translation, and given in a French paper (the name of which I have never heard of before, and cannot find anyone who has ever heard of it), and thus coming to us third-hand, I cannot therefore allow that their accuracy is by any means fully established. I cannot always accept as necessarily true anything that may appear in print. But waiving for the present this question, and supposing that the report is correct, I protest against "W.G.B.'s" perversion of the words, and maintain that they are capable of conveying, and were intended to convey, a meaning quite innocuous and in keeping with expressions in Holy Scripture itself.
The word "transubstantiation," which was the chief and most prominent point of "W.G.B.'s" accusation, does not once occur in the passage as here given. What does transubstantiation mean? Or at least what would it have meant in the utterance of a Roman Catholic Bishop? In the words of the Council of Trent it would mean "the conversion of the whole substance" of the one "into the whole substance" of the other, i.e., that the whole substance of the Pope was actually-"truly and really"- changed into the whole substance of our Blessed Lord-"so that he was no longer Leo XIII., but truly and really Christ Himself-"Body and Blood, Soul, and Divinity." Do the words given in the report of the Catholique National signify-or at any rate were they intended to convey-anything so monstrous and so blasphemous? Most assuredly not. To say that the Pope is Jesus Christ and that when the Pope speaks etc., Christ is speaking-may at first sight and to uninstructed people (I admit) appear a startling (if not a blasphemous) utterance. But to those who are acquainted with the language of the New Testament-nay, with the words of Our Lord Himself-there could be no danger of any such perversion of the meaning as your correspondent has made. When Christ says to His Apostles "He that heareth you heareth Me," does He mean that they would transubstantiated (sic) into His own substance or Person? When he declares that at the last day He will say to those who have relieved his poor "Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of my brethren ye have done it unto Me," does He mean that those to whom they ministered had been "transubstantiated" into Himself? Or when He says to the Apostles, that when brought before rulers or kings "It is not you that speak but the Spirit of My Father etc.," does he mean that they would be actually transubstantiated into the Person of God the Holy Ghost?
The like question would apply to other similar expressions relating not to the Apostles only but to all the members of Christ's Church, as when He says to St. Paul "Why persecutest thou me?" Or indeed to the very title of the Church as the Body of Christ. "Ye are," says St. Paul, "the Body of Christ:" and again "We are members of His Body, of His Flesh and of His Bones." And again, when he says that we are "transformed into the same image-i.e. the image of the Lord-from glory to glory," he does not surely mean that our whole substance is being changed into His Person. Or when he says "To whom I forgave anything I forgave it in the person of Christ" does he use any stronger language than the Archbishop here uses of the Pope, to signify the authority conferred upon him by Christ?

Once more, let me cite St. Augustine, in a passage read in the Breviary on the Octave Day of the Epiphany. Referring to the Baptist's words Hic est qui baptizat and maintaining that the grace of baptism may be conferred through the agency of secondary ministers, he declares that Christ is in fact all such cases the true minister of the Sacrament. "Petrus baptizet, hic (i.e., Christus) est qui baptizat: Paulus baptizet, hic est qui baptizat; Judas baptizet, hic est qui baptizat." [Tractates on John, 6 (John 1:32-33) "What then did he [John] learn from the dove, that he may not afterwards be found a liar (which God forbid we should think), if it be not this, that there was to be a certain peculiarity in Christ, such that, although many ministers, be they righteous or unrighteous, should baptize, the virtue of baptism would be attributed to Him alone on whom the dove descended, and of whom it was said, "This is He that baptizes with the Holy Ghost"? Peter may baptize, but this is He that baptizes; Paul may baptize, yet this is He that baptizes; Judas may baptize, still this is He that baptizes."]

As my reply to "W.G.B.'s" last letter did not appear in your columns, I trust you will allow me this opportunity of recording my protest (as I then attempted to do) against that letter as raising entirely false issues in regard to "casuistry" and "equivocation" as weapons, which (with scant courtesy and without any relevance to the subject) he assumes that I am likely to employ. Let me also repeat that I never attempted to "draw" him into any controversy, and that his tone and method is not of a kind which would make me anxious to do so on my subject.
Your obedient servant,

St. Mary's, Bayswater, November 17, 1895.

From Church Review, November 21.

St. Andrews.- Your letter involves the discussion of first principles, and if we admitted it we should find ourselves involded in a huge correspondence dealing with the whole question of England v. Rome.
Such a discussion we cannot admit.
A correction.- Major-General Barnett asks us a matter of fairness to let him say in answer to the Rev. N. Green Armytage, that "'S. Andrews, a Romish priest 'was not called in to help me. He wrote to you of his own accord." The rest of General Barnett's letter is so pro-Roman that we cannot accept it. We have no sympathy with those who are always girding at Rome, but at the same time we have little short of contempt for the conduct of those whose one object seems to be that of depreciating the Church of England on every occasion, while at the same time making out that the Church of Rome is perfect.
The Internet sure has made digging up this stuff much easier, didn't it?

So a few things have become clear here: someone going under the initials 'W.G.E.'  in a letter dated 3rd October, 1895 and published in the CofE publication The Church Review referred in passing to a purported statement of the Patriarch of Venice concerning "the transubstantiation of the Pope into the Person of the Eternal Son of God." When 'W.G.E.' was criticized by Fr. S. Andrews (of St. Mary of the Angels in Bayswater) concerning the quote's authenticity and asked to provide a source for it, he provided the bit about the 'Pope ... not only [being] the representative of Jesus Christ' but being himself Jesus Christ, which was in turn attributed to an elusive French paper named Catholique National - the quote supposedly appeared there in 13th July (with the purport that the words were 'recently uttered by the Archbishop of Venice'). By 17th November, Fr. Andrews wrote a reply to The Church Review but his letter apparently never got published in that paper (the excuse being that it might spark a whole debate on the issue of England vs. Rome), so he instead sent it to The Tablet. (The rejection letter also referred in passing to a letter by a Major-General H.B.B. Barnett which was never published for being too 'pro-Roman' - Barnett also wrote to The Tablet the following month to complain about this treatment.)

Fr. Andrews then got a letter from a priest in Venice named Marino Tommates who sent him the Patriarch's (Cardinal Sarto, future Pope Pius X) answer to the accusation. Cardinal Sarto claims that only in the sermon delivered "for the Anniversary of the election of the Holy Father " (Pope Leo XIII) does he find saying something that somewhat resembles the supposed quote from Catholique National. Note here: neither the supposed Catholique National quote nor the text of Cardinal Sarto's sermon are close to "W.G.E.'s" original claim that the Patriarch of Venice spoke about "the transubstantiation of the Pope into the Person of the Eternal Son of God." The Tablet would once again refer to this in a future issue (5th September 1903), after Cardinal Sarto had become pope himself:
Now that Cardinal Sarto is sitting in the Chair of Peter it may not be uninteresting to reprint a letter from him written in January 1896, which appeared in our columns and in which he gave his idea of the Papacy. The letter was evoked by a statement made by The Church Review asserting that the Cardinal Patriarch of Venice had taught "the transubstantiation of the Pope into the Person of the Eternal Son of God." A Venetian priest, Don Marino Tommates, was asked concerning this astounding misrepresentation, and Don Marino went to Cardinal Sarto, who not only denied ever having used the words attributed to him or any words which could be so interpreted, but gave the priest a letter, of which Don Marino sent us the following translation ...

3.) "We hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty"-Pope Leo XIII Encyclical Letter of June 20, 1894
This one is a classic case of "cherry-picking a quote out of context." The Encyclical mentioned here is Praeclara Gratulationis Publicae, which called for the reunion of Eastern and Western churches into the "Unity of the Faith". What then, does the actual Encyclical say?

...A great deal, however, has been wanting to the entire fulness of that consolation. Amidst these very manifestations of public joy and reverence Our thoughts went out towards the immense multitude of those who are strangers to the gladness that filled all Catholic hearts: some because they lie in absolute ignorance of the Gospel; others because they dissent from the Catholic belief, though they bear the same name of Christians. This thought has been, and is, a source of deep concern to Us; for it is impossible to think of such a large portion of mankind deviating, as it were, from the right path, as they move away from Us, and not experience a sentiment of innermost grief.But since We hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty, who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth, and now that Our advanced age and the bitterness of anxious cares urge Us on towards the end common to every mortal, We feel drawn to follow the example of Our Redeemer and Master, Jesus Christ, who when about to return to Heaven, implored of God, His Father, in earnest prayer, that His disciples and followers should be of one mind and of one heart: "I pray...that they all may be one, as thou Father in Me, and I in Thee: that they also may be one in Us."And as this divine prayer and supplication does not include only the souls who then believed in Jesus Christ, but also every one of those who were henceforth to believe in Him, this prayer holds out to Us no indifferent reason for confidently expressing Our hopes, and for making all possible endeavors in order that the men of every race and clime should be called and moved to embrace the unity of divine faith.
Pressed on to Our intent by charity, that hastens fastest there where the need is greatest, We direct Our first thoughts to those most unfortunate of all nations who have never received the light of the Gospel, or who, after having possessed it, have lost it through neglect or the vicissitudes of time: hence do they ignore God, and live in the depths of error. Now, as all salvation comes from Jesus Christ--for there is no other name under Heaven given to men whereby we must be saved--Our ardent desire is that the most holy name of Jesus should rapidly pervade and fill every land.
1.) If the Pope identifies himself as God, then why does he refer to the Lord Jesus as "Our Redeemer and Master?" Surely God cannot have a master as that would imply that there is someone superior to him.

2.) The phrase is interpreted in the wrong sense by many here. In the Catholic point of view, "we hold upon this Earth the place of God" makes perfect sense, as Catholics believe that the Pope is the Vicar (i.e. Representative) of Christ. What does a representative do? He "holds the place" of the person he represents! Far from claiming that he is God in the flesh, Pope Leo is just reaffirming his position as Christ's representative (like a Prime Minister) on Earth.

4.) Pope Nicholas I declared that "the appellation of God had been confirmed by Constantine on the Pope, who being God, cannot be judged by man." (Labb IX Dist.: 96 Can 7 Satis Evidentur Decret Gratian Primer Para)
This is quite similar to an argument Frs. Rumble and Carty answered:

2-311. Pope Nicholas I said that the Pope, being God, is judged by no man.
REPLY: Never did Pope Nicholas I. say that the Pope is God. What he does say is this:"Since those in higher authority are not judged by inferiors, it is evident that the Apostolic See, than which no earthly authority is higher, is judged by none."And that is perfectly sound reasoning. Even in civil law, the king is "above the law," and not subject to his own laws. Hence the legal axiom, "The king can do no wrong." Italy itself has acknowledged the justice of the Pope's claim to be independent of all civil jurisdiction, and subject to no earthly authorities.
If I might add, the citation "Labb IX Dist.: 96 Can 7 Satis Evidentur Decret Gratian Primer Para" is obscure. I checked his opera omnia (whole works) here (based on Migne's Patrologia Latina) and found no document similar to the one above.

UPDATE (2010/10/03): After a bit of research, it now seems to me that the "Gratian Primer Para" refers to the Decretum Gratiani; for those curious about Gratian, see this page; a full text of his Decretum is available here. Lo and behold, after a bit of tweaking I finally found the source of our little quote (courtesy of the Internet ;)): it's from his Decretum, pars prima (Part One), Distinctio XCVI, Canon 7.

Satis euidenter ostenditur, a seculari potestate nec solui prorsus, nec ligari Pontificem, quem constat a pio principe Constantino (quem longe superius memorauimus) Deum appellatum, cum nec posse Deum ab hominibus iudicari manifestum sit. Sed et Theodosius minor sanctae sinodo scribens dixit Ephesinae primae. "Deputatus est igitur Candidianus, magnificentissimus comes strenuorum domesticorum, transire usque ad sanctissimam sinodum uestram, et in nullo quidem, quem faciendae sunt de piis dogmatibus questiones seu potius expositiones, communicare. Illicitum namque est eum, qui non sit in ordine sanctissimorum episcoporum, ecclesiasticis intermisceri tractatibus." (Et post pauca:) §. 1.
His itaque manifestis repertis aparet conministrum Ignatium per inperialem tantummodo sententiam nullo modo potuisse prorsus expelli. In cuius dampnatione quia presulum quoque assensus est subsecutus, aparet fuisse patratum id causa adulationis, non legitimae sanctionis.
EDIT: Continue on, brave reader, to part 2!


Mario said...

The question ain't whether or not past popes have claimed to be God. Such a bad argumentation would only be used by people like Jack Chick, Peter Ruckman, and Dave Hunt (for example) who don't really have much to say on the issue.

Now, the real questions are whether or not

A) You've considered what it means to proclaim a human being the Holy Father (that's a divine name, used by Jesus only of His Father) and the Vicar of Christ (that's the Holy Spirit)?

B) Do you really find anything in Scripture whatsoever that would lead you to believe it was Christ's will that a bishop in a city hundreds of miles away in Rome would not only be the head of His church but would be treated as a king upon earth, bowed down to and treated the way the Roman Pontiff is treated?

C) Why a great number of the church fathers didn't consider the person of peter as the rock of mt16,18

Patrick said...

First of all, thank you very much for posting your comment.

Yes, the whole ‘Pope claiming to be God’ thing is rather a bad argumentation and is mostly in the province of more questionable types such as Jack Chick; but the reason as to why I address them here is because some people are actually duped and buy this garbage as fact. Such must not go unanswered.

As for your statements:

As for your statements:

A.) Yes, the Holy Spirit is the 'Vicar of Christ' or the 'Vicar of the Lord' in that He is sent by the Lord Jesus (John 15:26, 16:12-15), and yes, the early Fathers did call Him such. However, the Pope could also be, in a sense, Christ's 'Vicar' since the word technically means “one who serves or acts in place of someone as a representative.” We have many cases in Scripture where other people are also, in a sense, ‘ambassadors’ and ‘vicars’ for Jesus, such as Paul and the seventy (cf. Luke 10:1-2, 16; Acts 5:1-5; 2 Corinthians 5:20; Gal. 4:14).

While in the early days the Pope was called ‘Vicar of Peter’ the title as it is now is not wrong, considering that the Pope takes the job that Peter filled in, that is being a representative of Jesus and feeding and tending His flock (John 21:16-17), a fact that another title for the Pope ‘Successor of Peter’ makes clear. This title is not, in a sense, specific to the Pope, however; In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in addition to the pope, each bishop is referred to as the "Christ's Vicar" (§1560) to their diocese (in light of the authority Jesus gave to the Apostles; the bishops are considered as successors to the Apostles), and the conscience is called "the aboriginal Vicar of Christ.” (§1778)

Just because one (rightly) applies a title for someone does not make (rightly) applying the title to another who can fill in the job wrong.

As for ‘Holy Father’. We are used to call various people ‘Your Honor’ or ‘Your Worship’,‘Excellency’ or ‘Your Majesty’,‘Master’ or ‘Teacher’ or even ‘Dad’ or ‘Pop’. Americans call George Washington ‘Father of his country’ or Abraham Lincoln 'Honest Abe'. Technically all these titles apply rightly to God alone (He alone is our true Father, Master, Teacher, Judge, King, or Leader; He alone is truly Honest and Honorable); yet why do we apply these titles to mere human beings? How can you criticize the Pope being called ‘Father’ yet condone calling a judge ‘Your Honor’ or the president ‘Your Excellency’?

B.) Jesus designated Peter as His 'keeper of the keys', i.e. His vicar. This authority has nothing to do with location. Peter was first in Antioch before finally arriving at Rome. He had authority in both situations. Suppose that one day, the Vatican is utterly destroyed while the Pope is killed. Whoever is elected to the chair of Peter will still be the head of the Church regardless of where he is. The authority does not rest on the place, but on the person.

As for the Pope's 'special' treatment, it has more to do with Byzantine and Medieval court manners and Biblical theology: Jesus is the King, while St. Peter (and by extension, the Popes who inherit the job) is the vizier.

C) Ah, but the Early Fathers did recognize Peter as the ‘Rock’ of Matthew 16:18 (despite claims by some to the contrary). See here: http://www.catholic.com/library/peter_primacy.asp, here: http://www.catholic.com/library/Peter_the_Rock.asp and http://www.catholicsource.net/articles/petertherock.html and here: http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/num41.htm

Just because some early Fathers spoke of Jesus being the Rock, it does not mean that they did not also consider Peter to be the rock as Matthew 16:18 declares. It's a both-and, not an either-or situation; the title of Rock apply rightly to both God and Peter.

Also, would you please care at least to show some quotes in context where a Church Father explicitly denies Peter as being the Rock of Matthew 16:18? After all, one who makes a statement must show proof for their claims.

Carlus Henry said...


Thank you so much for posting this. I have found it very useful in a discussion that I am having with someone who is trying to show some of these quotes as proof that Pope's of the past have considered themselves God.

Many thanks for the due diligence and research.

God bless....

P.S. I am an official member of the 2009 Tiber Swim Team. Thanks be to God.

Anthony Murphy said...

Carlus>welcome to full communion with Holy Mother Church!

Mario>it isnt important? These LIES, which thanks to our diligent editor have been shown for what they are, are a major source of bigotry for poorly educated 6 toed hillbily type Christians from the back hills of Appalatia.
I came across this article halfway through doing a similar research on the claims (in fact, I was going to offer $100 for anyone who could substantiate them). Well, I guess I have that money for the book budget now.

It is important to us, because the truth is justice, and this lie was a great injustice to the men represented, and in fact to the whole church. Lies can not be allowed to go unchallenged.

Patrick, I will bookmark your blog for this effort, so I might post from time to time.

Last point, the barbarians eventually entered Rome when the Danube froze. They simply walked across. We can only hope the Lord spare us the indignity of the Tiber freezing...lol


Obadiah said...


Patrick said...


Okay, let me get this straight. YOU believe that the Pope is God, and denying that will merit one a ticket to Hell? Huh. I don't know what church believes that (if any), but that sure ain't the Catholic Church. ;)

brainout said...

Thank you for this post. Although I am strongly anti-Catholic, when I saw these quotes today from someone else, I immediately suspected they were wrong, and cautioned the sender, who then found your blog entry here.

Thank you especially for the Latin. Always best to read source texts, never hearsay from some 'expert' who then proves incompetent.

Chevalie said...

Why defending the papacy when there never was any Apostolic Succession in the first place, just invented names to fix the error/gap between Peter and the first Pope?

There's not a word in the Bible that anyone was to be, or was, succeeding Peter, so that's heresy in the very first claim.

And we don't have to go in to the original-language Greek texts on the masculine Petros (little rock) and the feminine Petor (bedrock) - and don't refer to Aramaic language, because the Holy Spirit inspired (reminded) the Apostles through the koine Greek language.

Patrick said...

Thanks for the comment. I would answer your question with further questions, as a start:

Why defending the papacy when there never was any Apostolic Succession in the first place, just invented names to fix the error/gap between Peter and the first Pope?

How do you know they were invented?

There's not a word in the Bible that anyone was to be, or was, succeeding Peter, so that's heresy in the very first claim.

Well, where does it say in the Bible that something has to be mentioned in the Bible for it to be true?

And we don't have to go in to the original-language Greek texts on the masculine Petros (little rock) and the feminine Petor (bedrock) - and don't refer to Aramaic language, because the Holy Spirit inspired (reminded) the Apostles through the koine Greek language.

Problem with the distinction you make is, it only exists in Attic Greek, not in the Koine that the New Testament was written.

Matt E said...

Regarding the Pius X situation: Radio Replies states that the "Church Review" quoted Sarto as saying that the Pope is Jesus Christ veiled in flesh. But does Sarto's production of a manuscript necessarily prove he didn't say that? Is it possible that, out of fear of the Church, he backtracked and made the change in the manuscript before producing it? Is it possible that Sarto had such a high opinion of the office of Pope that he actually did say that, and later scrubbed it from the manuscript? Are either the "Church Review" article or the manuscript in question available for public scrutiny? I think Sarto's defense holds as much water as the quotation in "Church Review". Neither can be 100% substantiated; both could be written off as hearsay by the opposing party.

Patrick said...

Matt, I just found a relevant link. http://archive.thetablet.co.uk/article/18th-january-1896/20/the-church-review-and-the-patriarch-of-venice

Patrick said...

Matt: If you're interested, you might want to check the post again. I added in the stuff I found from The Tablet.

What's actually interesting about it is that the original claim (made by a certain "W.G.E.") was that the Patriarch of Venice said something about "the transubstantiation of the Pope into the Person of the Eternal Son of God." When pressed for proof by a Fr. S. Andrews, he provided an excerpt from a supposed French paper called Catholique National (as Fr. Andrews claims, neither he nor anyone he asked actually knows for sure if that publication even exists) - which doesn't even mention anything about the Pope 'transubstantiating' into the person of Christ.

Well, it's true that we only have "W.G.E.'s" claim for the statement that "The Pope is not only the representative of Jesus Christ, but he is Jesus Christ Himself hidden under the veil of the flesh. Does the Pope speak? It is Jesus Christ who speaks. Does the Pope accord a favour or pronounce an anathema? It is Jesus Christ who pronounces the anathema or accords the favour." At least, this is assuming that this is not a distorted version of the sermon that Cardinal Sarto provided ("The pope represents Jesus Christ himself...")

But as Fr. Andrews notes in his (unfortunately scrapped) rebuttal, (1) the thing - if it's actually genuine - is a translation of a translation (an English translation of a French translation of an Italian sermon); and (2) while the thing does somewhat go far with its hyperbolic language and may sound at first rather blasphemous, it could be interpreted (from a Catholic POV) in a doctrinally-orthodox way - not so much that the pope is a sort of reincarnation or avatar of Jesus, but that he is acting - just as all ordained clergy do - "in the person of Christ." Fr. Andrews argues that the statement is no more problematic than calling the Church the "Body of Christ" or Paul saying to the Corinthians that "if I forgave anything ... for your sakes I forgave it in the person of Christ." In any case, the excerpt provided by "W.G.E." doesn't even support his initial claim that about the Patriarch speaking of "the transubstantiation of the Pope into the Person of the Eternal Son of God," which from the Catholic view is most definitely a grave error. For one, we don't even apply the word 'transubstantiation' to the pope, and we don't think that the pope somehow magically transforms into Jesus - His whole "body, blood, soul and divinity," as we would say - the moment he is elected (nope, no god-kings here).