Catholic FAQ


Latest Threads
newest posts



Go Back   Catholic Answers Forums > Forums > Apologetics
 

Welcome to Catholic Answers Forums, the largest Catholic Community on the Web.

Here you can join over 400,000 members from around the world discussing all things Catholic. Membership is open to all, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, who seek the Truth with Charity.

To gain full access, you must register for a FREE account. Registered members are able to:
  • Submit questions about the faith to experts from Catholic Answers
  • Participate in all forum discussions
  • Communicate privately with Catholics from around the world
  • Plus join a prayer group, read with the Book Club, and much more.
Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free. So join our community today!

Have a question about registration or your account log-in? Just contact our Support Hotline.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search Thread Display
  #1  
Old Aug 18, '13, 6:28 am
CutlerB's Avatar
CutlerB CutlerB is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: May 11, 2012
Posts: 1,550
Religion: Catholic
Default Who's the Supreme Pontiff?

Before you think I'm being silly, bear with me.

I'm not quite sure how the thought entered my mind, but it did: The Pope as the Vicar of Christ is called the "Supreme Pontiff", while bishops in general are "pontiffs". So far, I don't dispute that. However, the term "Supreme Pontiff" reminded me of the controversy within the CofE at the time, when Henry VIII called himself the "Supreme Head" of the CofE, which was later changed to "Supreme Governor" because the previous title seemed to conflict with the Headship of Christ in the Church.

Similarly, I wondered, isn't Jesus Christ really the Supreme Pontiff as the One Mediator between God and Man? Since "Pontifex Maximus" means "Supreme Bridge-builder", isn't Christ the one who should hold the title, since His mediation is grounded in the Hypostatic Union?
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old Aug 18, '13, 8:31 am
Bergon Bergon is offline
Banned
 
Join Date: May 11, 2013
Posts: 555
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: Who's the Supreme Pontiff?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CutlerB View Post
Before you think I'm being silly, bear with me.

I'm not quite sure how the thought entered my mind, but it did: The Pope as the Vicar of Christ is called the "Supreme Pontiff", while bishops in general are "pontiffs". So far, I don't dispute that. However, the term "Supreme Pontiff" reminded me of the controversy within the CofE at the time, when Henry VIII called himself the "Supreme Head" of the CofE, which was later changed to "Supreme Governor" because the previous title seemed to conflict with the Headship of Christ in the Church.

Similarly, I wondered, isn't Jesus Christ really the Supreme Pontiff as the One Mediator between God and Man? Since "Pontifex Maximus" means "Supreme Bridge-builder", isn't Christ the one who should hold the title, since His mediation is grounded in the Hypostatic Union?
Our Lord is truly the Head of the Church. This is what Catholics believe. The Pope is the head of the Church on Earth. That's why we call him the Vicar of Christ. A vicar is one who assists another. The Pope is the Lord's vicar or representaive on Earth.

The title pontiff IIRC refers to positions of authority held by men. As the Pope is the most senior pontiff he is the Supreme Pontiff. The best way I feel able to describe it at the moment is that Our Lord is above being a pontiff, he's a far greater authority, he is God.

Pontifex maximus was a title taken over by the Bishop of Rome. It was a senior priestly title in the pagan religions of the Ancient Romans.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old Aug 18, '13, 8:40 am
CutlerB's Avatar
CutlerB CutlerB is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: May 11, 2012
Posts: 1,550
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: Who's the Supreme Pontiff?

[quote=Bergon;11110866]Our Lord is truly the Head of the Church. This is what Catholics believe. The Pope is the head of the Church on Earth. That's why we call him the Vicar of Christ. A vicar is one who assists another. The Pope is the Lord's vicar or representaive on Earth.[quote]

I fully agree with all this.

Quote:
The title pontiff IIRC refers to positions of authority held by men. As the Pope is the most senior pontiff he is the Supreme Pontiff. The best way I feel able to describe it at the moment is that Our Lord is above being a pontiff, he's a far greater authority, he is God.

Pontifex maximus was a title taken over by the Bishop of Rome. It was a senior priestly title in the pagan religions of the Ancient Romans.
Well, it translates as "bridge-builder", which was the meaning (and is in a sense in Christianity) intended by the Romans. To build a bridge from man to God in priestly ministry. I have no problem with that at all. What I mean is that the title "Supreme Pontiff" (leaving aside the other pontiffs you mention) befits Christ better from how I understand it.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old Aug 18, '13, 8:51 am
Bergon Bergon is offline
Banned
 
Join Date: May 11, 2013
Posts: 555
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: Who's the Supreme Pontiff?

[quote=CutlerB;11110890]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bergon View Post
What I mean is that the title "Supreme Pontiff" (leaving aside the other pontiffs you mention) befits Christ better from how I understand it.
I see the point you're trying to make. It's been one very busy weekend and my intellectual skills are on auto-pilot and close to shutting down but I'll do my best.

I comprehend why you'd think Christ should be the supreme pontiff rather than a mere mortal. Pontiff is a mortal title although we use other mortal titles to address Christ such as King. The way I think would be good to view this is that Christ is not just above the other pontiffs and should be called supreme pontiff. Christ is greater than any pontiff. He's not the supreme pontiff because He is something rather greater, something more awesome. He's not constrained by the limits of being a pontiff.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old Aug 18, '13, 8:57 am
bzkoss236's Avatar
bzkoss236 bzkoss236 is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: May 11, 2011
Posts: 2,923
Religion: Roman Catholic
Default Re: Who's the Supreme Pontiff?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CutlerB View Post
Well, it translates as "bridge-builder", which was the meaning (and is in a sense in Christianity) intended by the Romans. To build a bridge from man to God in priestly ministry. I have no problem with that at all. What I mean is that the title "Supreme Pontiff" (leaving aside the other pontiffs you mention) befits Christ better from how I understand it.
How about he's the supreme bridge-builder to Christ from whom salvation comes?
__________________
St. Bernard, pray for us!
Help us to fight for truth,
Help us to know truth,
Help us to follow our
Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Amen.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old Aug 18, '13, 8:59 am
CutlerB's Avatar
CutlerB CutlerB is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: May 11, 2012
Posts: 1,550
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: Who's the Supreme Pontiff?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bzkoss236 View Post
How about he's the supreme bridge-builder to Christ from whom salvation comes?
Makes more sense, but then: Didn't Christ become True Man in order to mediate between God and man – to build the bridge, so to speak?
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old Aug 18, '13, 9:25 am
bzkoss236's Avatar
bzkoss236 bzkoss236 is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: May 11, 2011
Posts: 2,923
Religion: Roman Catholic
Default Re: Who's the Supreme Pontiff?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CutlerB View Post
Makes more sense, but then: Didn't Christ become True Man in order to mediate between God and man – to build the bridge, so to speak?
Yes, but doesn't there need to be someone to lead the visible Church in his physical absence? And wouldn't this leader then be "building a bridge" to Christ, the mediator and God? So, wouldn't the word Pontiff still work for the bishops? And if Pontiff still works for bishops, then wouldn't the Pope be the Supreme Pontiff as he is the "supreme" bishop?
__________________
St. Bernard, pray for us!
Help us to fight for truth,
Help us to know truth,
Help us to follow our
Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Amen.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old Aug 18, '13, 9:57 am
CutlerB's Avatar
CutlerB CutlerB is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: May 11, 2012
Posts: 1,550
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: Who's the Supreme Pontiff?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bzkoss236 View Post
Yes, but doesn't there need to be someone to lead the visible Church in his physical absence? And wouldn't this leader then be "building a bridge" to Christ, the mediator and God? So, wouldn't the word Pontiff still work for the bishops? And if Pontiff still works for bishops, then wouldn't the Pope be the Supreme Pontiff as he is the "supreme" bishop?
I'm not disputing the Office of the Pope. Rather, I seek information on that particular title.

Now that you put it that way... I don't know why I asked. Of course.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old Aug 18, '13, 10:09 am
bzkoss236's Avatar
bzkoss236 bzkoss236 is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: May 11, 2011
Posts: 2,923
Religion: Roman Catholic
Default Re: Who's the Supreme Pontiff?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CutlerB View Post
I'm not disputing the Office of the Pope. Rather, I seek information on that particular title.

Now that you put it that way... I don't know why I asked. Of course.
Right, I just feel that understanding the office helps to understand the title, so I thought I'd reiterate.
__________________
St. Bernard, pray for us!
Help us to fight for truth,
Help us to know truth,
Help us to follow our
Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Amen.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old Aug 18, '13, 10:38 am
R_C's Avatar
R_C R_C is offline
Regular Member
Prayer Warrior
 
Join Date: May 13, 2012
Posts: 4,717
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: Who's the Supreme Pontiff?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CutlerB View Post
Makes more sense, but then: Didn't Christ become True Man in order to mediate between God and man – to build the bridge, so to speak?
Christ is our Shepherd, the Rock, the Supreme Pontiff, etc.

But He told Peter:

- you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.
- I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail.
- Simon son of Jonah, do you love me more than these? Feed my lambs, take care of my sheep.
- I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Especially regarding the Keys and the power to bind and loose, we must always recall its connection with the book of Isaiah:

Quote:
In that day I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, I will dress him in your royal robes and will give him your title and your authority.

And he will be a father to the people of Jerusalem and Judah.

And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.

And I will fasten him like a peg in a secure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his father’s house.

All the glory of his family will hang on him.
This is the meaning of Vicar of Christ.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old Aug 18, '13, 12:30 pm
powerofk powerofk is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: May 22, 2013
Posts: 701
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: Who's the Supreme Pontiff?

Okay - remember, Jesus Christ is King, and as He is both God and Man, He is the one mediator between God and mankind. However, as He gave St. Peter the "Keys to the Kingdom", this allowed St. Peter (and his successors) the office of vizier/chancellor/prime minister/vicar (the terms, by the way, are synonymous with each other). In ancient times, such a person would be given the king's signet ring and the keys to the palace. Such a person issued decrees in the name of the king, and was really the second-in-command in a kingdom. This is why the Pope is called the "Supreme Pontiff" - in other words, he is Christ's supreme representative on Earth.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old Sep 7, '13, 9:59 am
bill99 bill99 is offline
Banned
 
Join Date: August 17, 2013
Posts: 53
Religion: trying to find the truth
Cool Re: Who's the Supreme Pontiff?

Luke 22:25. Christ expressly prohibits lordship among the apostles [that no apostle should have any supremacy over the rest]. For this was the very question, namely, that when Christ spake of His passion, they were disputing who should be at the head, and as it were the vicar of the absent Christ. There Christ reproves this error of the apostles and teaches that there shall not be lordship or superiority among them, but that the apostles should be sent forth as equals to the common ministry of the Gospel. Accordingly, He says: The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors, but ye shall not be so; but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. The antithesis here shows [By holding these matters against one another, one sees] that lordship [among the apostles] is disapproved.

. Matt. 18:2. The same is taught by the parable when Christ in the same dispute concerning the kingdom places a little child in the midst, signifying that among ministers there is not to be sovereignty, just as a child neither takes nor seeks sovereignty for himself.

John 20:21. Christ sends forth His disciples on an equality, without any distinction [so that no one of them was to have more or less power than any other], when He says: As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you. [These words are clear and plain:] He says that He sends them individually in the same manner as He Himself was sent; hence He grants to no one a prerogative or lordship above the rest.

Gal. 2:7f St. Paul manifestly affirms that he was neither ordained nor confirmed [and endorsed] by Peter, nor does he acknowledge Peter to be one from whom confirmation should be sought. And he expressly contends concerning this point that his call does not depend upon the authority of Peter. But he ought to have acknowledged Peter as a superior if Peter was superior by divine right [if Peter, indeed, had received such supremacy from Christ]. Paul accordingly says that he had at once preached the Gospel [freely for a long time] without consulting Peter. Also: Of those who seemed to be somewhat (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me; God accepteth no man's person). And: They who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me. Since Paul, then, clearly testifies that he did not even wish to seek for the confirmation of Peter [for permission to preach] even when he had come to him, he teaches that the authority of the ministry depends upon the Word of God, and that Peter was not superior to the other apostles, and that it was not from this one individual Peter that ordination or confirmation was to be sought [that the office of the ministry proceeds from the general call of the apostles, and that it is not necessary for all to have the call or confirmation of this one person, Peter, alone].
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old Sep 7, '13, 10:17 am
Mike30 Mike30 is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: September 14, 2011
Posts: 939
Religion: Roman Catholic
Default Re: Who's the Supreme Pontiff?

The Holy Father is the Supreme Pontiff. The title has been used almost exclusively for him since around the eleventh century. Before that it was used on occasion to differentiate between a Bishop and what we today might call call an Archbishop. There is evidence however that many Catholics were using the term to refer solely and exclusively to the Holy Father as early as the second century.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old Sep 9, '13, 2:51 pm
ezeekl ezeekl is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: August 19, 2013
Posts: 380
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: Who's the Supreme Pontiff?

First of all, Pontifex Maximus is not an official title for the Pope. For that matter the word Pope is not an official title either. I think the term Supreme Pontif is the same as universal bishop or bishop of the universal church. In fact one of the official titles for the pope is Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church . The official list of titles of the Pope, in the order in which they are given in the Annuario Pontificio, is:

Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the Vatican City State, Servant of the servants of God.

The term Pontifex Maximus was first used by Tertullian, when he had become a Montanist. He used the title derisively of either the Pope or the Bishop of Carthage.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old Sep 9, '13, 3:51 pm
pablope pablope is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 29, 2010
Posts: 7,229
Religion: catholic
Default Re: Who's the Supreme Pontiff?

[quote]
Quote:
Originally Posted by bill99 View Post
Luke 22:25. Christ expressly prohibits lordship among the apostles [that no apostle should have any supremacy over the rest]. For this was the very question, namely, that when Christ spake of His passion, they were disputing who should be at the head, and as it were the vicar of the absent Christ. There Christ reproves this error of the apostles and teaches that there shall not be lordship or superiority among them, but that the apostles should be sent forth as equals to the common ministry of the Gospel. Accordingly, He says: The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors, but ye shall not be so; but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. The antithesis here shows [By holding these matters against one another, one sees] that lordship [among the apostles] is disapproved.


And actually, in you read on.............in verse 26....26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves....Jesus teaches a different kind of lordship.

But then, why did Christ pay for Peter alone to strengthen his fellow apostles? In verse 31:

31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”





Quote:
Gal. 2:7f St. Paul manifestly affirms that he was neither ordained nor confirmed [and endorsed] by Peter, nor does he acknowledge Peter to be one from whom confirmation should be sought. And he expressly contends concerning this point that his call does not depend upon the authority of Peter. But he ought to have acknowledged Peter as a superior if Peter was superior by divine right [if Peter, indeed, had received such supremacy from Christ]. Paul accordingly says that he had at once preached the Gospel [freely for a long time] without consulting Peter. Also: Of those who seemed to be somewhat (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me; God accepteth no man's person). And: They who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me. Since Paul, then, clearly testifies that he did not even wish to seek for the confirmation of Peter [for permission to preach] even when he had come to him, he teaches that the authority of the ministry depends upon the Word of God, and that Peter was not superior to the other apostles, and that it was not from this one individual Peter that ordination or confirmation was to be sought [that the office of the ministry proceeds from the general call of the apostles, and that it is not necessary for all to have the call or confirmation of this one person, Peter, alone].
You must have miss these events too:

Galatians 1:18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days.

Galatians 2:2 I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain.

Now look at Acts 13:
1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Go Back   Catholic Answers Forums > Forums > Apologetics

Bookmarks

Tags
hypostatic union, papacy, pope, supreme pontiff

Thread Tools Search Thread
Search Thread:

Advanced Search
Display

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



Prayer Intentions

Most Active Groups
8481Meet and talk,talk talk
Last by: SueZee
5153CAF Prayer Warriors Support Group
Last by: Vim71
4429Devotion to the Sorrowful Mother
Last by: daughterstm
4037OCD/Scrupulosity Group
Last by: eschator83
3864SOLITUDE
Last by: Prairie Rose
3763Let's empty Purgatory
Last by: RJB
3334Petitions Before the Blessed Sacrament
Last by: Amiciel
3288Poems and Reflections
Last by: tonyg
3227Catholic Vegetarians & Vegans
Last by: Rifester
3118For seniors and shut- ins
Last by: SueZee



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 8:25 pm.

Home RSS Feeds - Home - Archive - Top

Copyright © 2004-2014, Catholic Answers.