Oh, That Arrogant Pope


This comes of reading Schaff and New Advent side by side, as well as developing a them from some other threads.

In a nutshell, what bothers many non-Catholic Christians about the pope is that he is so freaking arrogant. He oversteps his bounds. He is a power hungry maniac. Egotistical. Unilaterally deciding things. Without any sort of earthly check.

Given that the powers of the pope have developing over a long time, and have passed from councilar decision making to the form we see today, what, exactly, kind of a Catholic pope would be acceptable to Protestants and Orthodox? A primacy of honor but not of administration? Is there a REASONABLE change the Catholic Church would make that would eliminate this matter as an issue that keeps you from being Catholic?

I have not, by the way, looked into all the occaisions on which Popes have been accused of arrogant overextension of power. I am not sure what an arrogant overextension of power is on the part of a pope, because as far as I can tell, Catholics say it cannot happen in the arenas of faith and morals. On those occaisions I have looked into, I have not found it mandatory to read the incident as an indication of papal arrogance. Perhaps there are some, but alternative explanations seem to be available, if one drops the filter of looking through history at the pope as the Anti-Christ.

So, here is a thread in which this Protestant is taking the position that the Pope is not arrogant. It might be interesting if a Catholic endeavors to prove me wrong on that point.


I guess you are trying to bring up this document for discussion. Have you actually read it?


Why does the Second Vatican Council use the term “Church” in reference to the oriental Churches separated from full communion with the Catholic Church?


The Council wanted to adopt the traditional use of the term. “Because these Churches, although separated, have true sacraments and above all – because of the apostolic succession – the priesthood and the Eucharist, by means of which they remain linked to us by very close bonds”[13], they merit the title of “particular or local Churches”[14], and are called sister Churches of the particular Catholic Churches.[15]

“It is through the celebration of the Eucharist of the Lord in each of these Churches that the Church of God is built up and grows in stature”.[16] However, since communion with the Catholic Church, the visible head of which is the Bishop of Rome and the Successor of Peter, is not some external complement to a particular Church but rather one of its internal constitutive principles, these venerable Christian communities lack something in their condition as particular churches.[17]

On the other hand, because of the division between Christians, the fullness of universality, which is proper to the Church governed by the Successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him, is not fully realised in history.[18]


Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of “Church” with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?


According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery[19] cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called “Churches” in the proper sense[20].

Is that what is bugging you? If not then you need to better express your thinking. :shrug:


The Pope is required to speak the Truth on faith and morals, whether or not it is accepted or falls on fertile ground.

It would seem that those most adamently opposed to his doing this have more of an issue with God than they do the Pope.

The Pope will speak, on faith and morals, as the he feels the Holy Spirit dictates.


For years, I have refused to refer to any Protestant denominarion as a Church, e.g. Baptist Church, Lutheran Church, instead I refer to them as denominations, because there is only One Church and that is composed of those rites in union with Rome. It was wonderful for me to hear the Pope say out loud what I have always known. That isn’t arrogance, just truth.



I’ll prefer heavenly checks to earthly ones :slight_smile:

As for arrogance, arrogance is trying to perfect the Christian religion, as Protestants and denominationalists try and do. It is humility to hand down what has been receveived, even if the world hates you for it.


I’m quite confident there have been some rather arrogant Popes throughout our beloved history. Pope Victor, who excommunicated the entire Eastern Church, because they wouldn’t break the Oriental Tradition of when to celebrate Easter, comes to mind. Although he had the authority, he could have handled the whole messy affair more compassionately.

Some of the more infamous popes showed arrogance simply by their acts of lewdness and what not. If I were the visible Shepherd of the Lord, I’d fall on my knees thanking God for not striking me down for being so unworthy, rather than flaunting my position like those guys did.

Luckily, the Church has reformed and shined like the city on a hill like Christ wanted Her to. Although there may be some blemishes, I don’t feel they come from Il, Papa!


When one reads about the elections of the past few popes, you certainly won’t get the idea that they were power hungry.

B16 prayed that the papacy would not fall to him.

JPI, when asked if he would accept the papacy, told the enclave “may God have mercy on you for what you’ve done”.

Which makes me wonder-

Why is it that when a person’s apparently God-given leadership/authority goes up a notch, their anti-whatever rhetoric goes down a notch?

Billy Graham was once very anti-Catholic, but not so now. Now all the wannabes are taking pot shots at him.


Good grief.

i was thinking more of Victor’s treatment of the Asian bishops, frankly, and I wasn’t thinking of B16 at all. In terms of the current firestorm, B16 said nothing surprising and nothing novel - he expressed what the Church has always held, and I regarded nothing he said as arrogant at all. I don’t connect him with arrogant behavior at all. I started off discussing Schaeff, so you should be able to realize that since he lived so long ago, I meant no connection to B16. The connection is unfortunate.

There have been humble popes. One went through Rome in sackcloth and ashes in repentence for the behavior of his predecessors.

Again, good grief.


That was my thoughts exactly in my post. He had to have been acting out of arrogance, although he did have the authority.




Kindly provide examples of how Pope John Paul II was arrogant.


My post was random thoughts falling out of my head, not a rebuttal to your post. Your post made me think. Now I have a headache.


Hey Brother! Are you in need of an alignment yet from all those donuts in the parking lot?

As a Catholic, I would be happy to concede to you that a Pope can be and sometimes has been, in fact, arrogant. In the same way, I can offer as additional support, they also breathe, eat, sleep, and go to confession for absolution of sins such as arrogance, among others.

Although, I would argue vehemently against the supposition that the Pope goes unchecked. St. Catherine of Sienna comes to mind! You’ve just gotta love strong and fearless Catholic women! :wink:


I am also reliably informed that the Pope does indeed use the restroom in a most base way.

Still, what is one to make of John Paul II, who upon taking up the Throne of St Peter immediately did away with the precedent of receiving while seated by saying something to the effect of “I stand to meet my brothers”.

Anyone whose been to St Peter’s can attest that the Pope meets and interacts with many more people than those hair-helmeted televangelists ever do. And he does so day after day.

But of course the Pope, being the Vicar of Christ and the leader of a billion Catholics, might be forgiven a smidge of pride.

What’s the excuse of those pastors wearing $5000 Italian suits, driving late-model Mercedes, and refusing to meet with members at all, as my Pentecostal pastor was famous for doing?

Protestants seem remarkably selectively blind when it comes to arrogance, and with good reason: who has walked this Earth possessed of greater arrogance than Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Henry Plantagenet?


Make no mistake, though, our brother Truthstalker is not selectively blind. . .I rather like to think he’s in the process of finding the right prescription! :wink:


I’ve been thinking lately, always a dangerous thing, that if someone “really” wanted to learn the Catholic position on any given subject, they should do their best to put together the strongest arguement they can for that position BEFORE they start trying to prove it wrong (and vice versa for Catholics trying to understand a protestant position).

I’ have no real interest in understanding the protestant position on this particular subject because frankly I think its just plain irational emotional bias, so maybe that’s exactly why I should argue that the Pope is just an arrogant power hungry bully.

I’ll give it some thought if no one else bites.



Hey, I’ll give a couple of examples. The Pope kneels, kisses the altar, and washes the feet of his charges.

How often do you see Protestant preachers do any of these three?

In my experience, I’ve only ever seen Methodist clergy do this.


And just one more:

In our RCIA class, our bishop told of how John Paul the Great confessed to a homeless man who had previously been a priest. He saw the man on the street and asked for him to come see him. Needless to say the man was quite shocked when JP II began to confess to him.

It is worth noting that Holy Orders are considered to be a sacrament in the Church, and once a priest always a priest, even if one is not allowed to administer sacraments.


I think the Catholic position is that he has every right to be an arrogant power hungry bully should he wish (like every other human being) but he is answerable only to God (unlike every other human being).

I get the feeling I hit a nerve with some people.

Although, I would argue vehemently against the supposition that the Pope goes unchecked. St. Catherine of Sienna comes to mind! You’ve just gotta love strong and fearless Catholic women!

Please develop this argument.


I think your position is that you will slander someone without specifics. That strikes a nerve because it is baldly un-Christian.

I asked you for specific examples of John Paul II’s arrogance and received none.

As for St Catherine of Siena, my wife’s patron saint, she convinced the Pope to return to Rome from Avignon.


Now if you want me to argue the other side, your going to have to do a better job of representing the Catholic position than this.

If I were a protestant arguing that the pope was “arrogant”, rather than searching the archives for “arrogant” things that Popes of the past have done (a rather week arguement I think) I would focus on the Popes claim of infallibility as the ultimate in “arrogance”, don’t you think.

I’m mean really, who cares if pope so’n so had a big diamond in his ring, or lived in a palace, blah, blah, blah. That’s no better an argument than “minister” so’n so has an expensive suit and drives an expensive car…

If I’m going to argue your case for you, don’t you think that’s where I should focus my attention?

If you are going to argue that he is not “arrogant” and that Catholics do not believe such, where would you focus to make your case?


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