One of the best-known passages in all the Bible is John 3:16:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

How incredible that Logos, Second Person of the Trinity, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, should subject Himself to the limitations and frailties of the human condition. God become man. And what kind of man? He could have been the greatest of kings, with incredible wealth and power to proclaim His might, but He did not. Instead, He walked among us as a working man and itinerant teacher.

Again and again, Christ taught the lessons of humility. Examples are at:

Matthew 23:12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

Luke 14:8-11, "When thou art bidden of any [man] to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. "

Luke 18:10-14, "Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men [are], extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as [his] eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified [rather] than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. "

John 13:12-17, "So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for [so] I am. If I then, [your] Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. "

During His earthly ministry, Christ lived and taught humility. The Roman Catholic Church declares that its leader is Christís Vicar on earth, Vicarius Filii Dei. Surely then, the Pope must live and teach as Christ did.

Of course Catholic popes do not live humbly. They make their home in a great palace, surrounded by a court of princes, courtiers, aids, servants and petitioners. Riches beyond calculation are represented by magnificent works of art and all the trappings of great wealth.

Is this a big deal? After all, the present pope did not build the the Vatican, and he did not commission or accept the objets díart that litter his home. The guy has to live somewhere. Why not there? There are a billion souls affiliated with the Roman Church. Looking after the needs and affairs of so many certainly requires a huge bureaucracy. So whatís the beef?

Over the centuries since Rome first arrogated to itself the authority belonging to the "true church," popes have been raised higher and higher until, it would appear, they seem to covet the authority of God Himself. Catholic apologists, of course, likely would deny this charge, citing that the popes have given themselves the title Servus servorum Dei, Servant of the Servants of God.

Well, it is good the popes refer to themselves as servants, at least they have since Gregory the Great first used the descriptor back in the 6th Century. Do they mean it? Letís look at a few things.

At the papal coronation, these words are spoken, in Latin of course, as the triple crowned tiara is placed on the new Pontiffís head:

Receive the tiara adorned with three crowns and know that thou art Father of princes and kings, Ruler of the world, Vicar of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Given the Vatican II emphasis on the pastoral role of the popes, Popes John Paul I and John Paul II declined the formal coronation ceremony and do not wear the three-crowned tiara. Though they apparently considered such references to papal temporal authority to be inappropriate, there is nothing to preclude a future pope from continuing the coronation tradition.

The source of papal temporal authority derives from the RCCís faulty interpretation of Matthew 16:18,19 and itís insistence that Christ passed leadership of His Church to Peter. As the Godís Vicar, popes lay claim to great temporal as well as spiritual authority.

The Catholic Encyclopedia tells us the title, Vicar of Christ, refers only to the popeís authority over the church:

A title of the pope implying his supreme and universal primacy, both of honour and of jurisdiction, over the Church of Christ

Historically, however, popes have used the claim to such a position to exercise enormous power in both ecclesiastic and secular arenas. Though the label Godís Vicar was seen as early as 502 A.D., the particular title Vicarius Filii Dei is not found until around 752-774, in the document known as the "Donation of Constantine." Over the next seven centuries or so, no less than nine popes used this document in their efforts to establish the spiritual and temporal supremacy of the papacy. Centuries later, it was proved that Constantine did not write that document. However, the document was confirmed by a church council, according to a high RCC personage quoted in Labbe and Cossartís Sacrosancta Concilia, Volume 1 (1539-1541). Gratian incorporated the document into Catholic canon law (Corpus Juris Canonici ), which was endorsed by Pope Gregory XIII in 1622.

Exactly what authority does the so-called Donation of Constantine give the popes? As cited by Franciscan canonist Lucius Ferraris in his Prompta Bibliotheca, the last edition of which was printed in Rome by the press of the Propaganda, it states:

Ut sicut Beatus Petrus in terris Vicarius Filii Deo fuit constitutus, ita et Pontifices eius successores in terris principatus potestatem amplius, quam terrenae imperialis nostrae serenitatis mansueudo habere videtur.

For folks who donít read Latin (like me), Edwin Lee Johnson, professor of Latin and Greek at Vanderbilt University, translate this as

Just as the Blessed Peter was appointed on the earth vicar of the Son of God, so also it seems that the Pontiffs, his successors, hold on earth the power of the chief rule rather than (that) His Excellency, His Imperial Serene Highness on earth, (should hold it).

Historically, the Roman popes have claimed authority over all secular rulers, and they have not been reluctant to exercise that authority Ė even to the point of removing kings and queens who would not bend their knees to Rome.

Could a humble man really claim so much power? Here are a few examples:

The Dictatus Papae, attributed to Pope Gregory VII, was included in the Popeís register in 1075 A.D. Two of those dictates were:

9. That of the pope alone all princes shall kiss the feet.

12. That it may be permitted to him to depose emperors.

Thatís pretty humble. Right? Secular heads of government were required to kiss the popeís feet and, if he wished, the pope could kick an emporer off his throne. Yeah. Thatís humility.

In 1081 A.D., Gregory VII wrote these words to the Bishop of Metz:

Who can doubt but that the priests of Christ are to be considered the fathers and masters of kings and princes and of all the faithful?

Pope Innocent III included an interesting observation on the relationship between empire and the papacy in Sicut universitatis conditor (1198 A.D.):

The creator of the universe set up two great luminaries in the firmament of heaven; the greater light to rule the day, the lesser light to rule the night. In the same way for the firmament of the universal Church, which is spoken of as heaven, he appointed two great dignities; the greater to bear rule over souls (these being, as it were, days), the lesser to bear rule over bodies (those being, as it were, nights). These dignities are the pontifical authority and the royal power. Furthermore, the moon derives her light from the sun, and is in truth inferior to the sun in both size and quality, in position as well as effect. In the same way the royal power derives its dignity from the pontifical authority: and the more closely it cleaves to the sphere of that authority the less is the light with which it is adorned; the further it is removed, the more it increases in splendor.

Pope Eugene IV claimed papal primacy over the entire world when he wrote, in Laetentur Coeli, dated July 6th, 1439:

We likewise define that the holy Apostolic See, and the Roman Pontiff, hold the primacy throughout the entire world; and that the Roman Pontiff himself is the successor of blessed Peter, the chief of the Apostles, and the true vicar of Christ, and that he is the head of the entire Church, and the father and teacher of all Christians; and that full power was given to him in blessed Peter by Our Lord Jesus Christ, to feed, rule, and govern the universal Church; just as is contained in the acts of the ecumenical Councils and in the sacred canons."

Pope Boniface VIII proclaimed himself Caesar during the jubilee of 1300:

The papal theory...made the Pope alone Godís representative on earth and maintained that the Emperor received his right to rule from St. Peterís successorÖ It was upheld by Nicholas I., Hildebrand, Alexander III., Innocent III., and culminated with Boniface VIII. at the jubilee of 1300 when, seated on the throne of Constantine, girded with the imperial sword, wearing a crown, and waving a sceptre, he shouted to the throng of loyal pilgrims: "I am CaesaróI am Emperor." -- Alexander Clarence Flick, The Rise of the Mediaeval Church (reprint) Burt Franklin, [1959]), p. 413.

"But that had to do with temporal power and authority, and those were medieval times. Things have changed," you might argue. "Todayís popes arenít concerned with temporal power. "

Well, that may or may not be true, but for the sake of argument, letís move on to look at some of the papacyís spiritual claims to authority.

In his Bull, Unam Sanctum, issued in 1302, Pope Boniface VIII declared:

We, moreover, proclaim, declare and pronounce that it is altogether necessary to salvation for every human being to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.

Liberal Catholics argue that Boniface was referring to Catholics only and that the current ecumenical movement initiated with Vatican II is in no way affected by this old Bull. On the other hand, conservative Catholics have pointed to Unam Sanctum for support for their claim there is no salvation outside the RCC. Hmmm. Being in subjection to the Roman Pontiff is a requirement for salvation. Kinda flies in the face of Scripture, doesnít it?

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)

Pope Leo XIII, in his encyclical Letter, Sapientiae Christianae, 1890, wrote:

But the supreme teacher in the Church is the Roman Pontiff. Union of minds, therefore, requires, together with a perfect accord in the one faith, complete submission and obedience of will to the Church and to the Roman Pontiff, as to God Himself.

Leo XIII was quite a guy. In his Encyclical Letter, Praeclara Gratulationis Publicae, 1894, he claimed that the Roman popes actually hold the place of God on earth:

We (referring to himself) hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty

Pope John Paul II re-affirmed Leo XIIIís claim in his book, "Crossing The Threshold of Hope", published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., copyright 1994 by Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, ISBN 0-679-76561-1:

First Chapter: "The Pope": A Scandal and a Mystery:

The Pope is considered the man on earth who represents the Son of God, who "takes the place" of the Second Person of the omnipotent God of the Trinity. [pg. 3]

The Pope is not the only one who holds this title. With regard to the Church entrusted to him, each bishop is Vicarius Christi. [pg. 13]

Foto © 2007 Medal of

In a Maundy Thursday display, Pope John Paul II showed the world his humility by pouring a little water on a single foot of each of twelve priests in a symbolic washing ceremony evocative of our Saviorís washing of the feet of the Twelve during the Last Supper. Once the pontiff had dabbed dry the feet of each priest, he showed the world he was more humble even than Christ by kissing each foot. How wonderful that a photographer was present to capture this moment of supreme humility.

The Roman Pontiff lives in a grand palace, claims authority over princes and Christ's own Church, and dares to claim that no one can be saved except through allegiance to him. Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, was a meek and humble man. He lived a simple life and preached humility and submission to God and to secular authority.

Cardinal Josip Ratzinger, former Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, out-humbled his humble predecessors when he ascended to Peter's Throne. Not only did he choose not to wear the Triple-Crown, his inaugeration-vice-coronation was conducted a long way from the golden altar of St. Peter's. Some might point out that the newly-promoted Pope Benedict XVI honored tradition in the celebration of the Papal Mass in Latin. Not so, argue traditionalist Catholics, for the Mass was conducted according to the Novus Ordo Missae, so was not a traditional Latin Papal Mass. At least some traditional Catholics were also upset that Ratzinger did not accept the Tiara, but did choose to keep the bent cross favored by JP2 and Paul VI. At least one Catholic Traditionalist was displeased with the new Pope -- and those who recently preceded him -- during the early days of his emperorship:

. . .let us not forget the souls of the departed who sat on the throne over the past half century. Let's hope they made it to Purgatory and if so, they sure need our prayers. Don't be so quick to buy into the "straight-to-Heaven" spin we've been inundated with about John Paul II from the pagans to the pantheists to Benedict XVI himself.If we are to believe Sacred Scripture, if we are to believe the Catechism, if we are to believe what Saints and Doctors of the Church preached, if we are to believe what past reliable and holy Roman Pontiffs decreed, then we had better get down on our knees for those recent men who have had much to account for to Almighty God for the devastation of the vineyard on their watch. -- Michael Cain, Pray for the conversion of Benedict XVI, Catholic PewPoint, Vol 16, no. 119, (C) 2005 Daily Catholic

Is the church ruled by the Roman Caesar the True Church? Spend some time with Godís Word and the answer should be clear.

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