Oh, That Arrogant Pope


If you look at Truthstalker’s posts, I think you’ll find he wasn’t calling JPII arrogant. He even said he was thinking more in line with Victor (an argument that I agree with).

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

Convinced? She Simply Convinced?

I envision a 5’2" mother grabbing her 6’5" son by the ear and telling him he’s coming in out of the street. That illustrates how gentle she was in her convincing the Pope to leave Avignon and return to Rome.


Well, okay, she PERSUADED.



Pope Victor did not actually excommunicate anybody over the question of dating Easter. He was on the verge of going out of communion with these bishops but there was such a firestorm of protest against him from so many bishops that he changed his mind. Read Eusebius’ history of the event.


Didn’t he excommunicate them, and then change his mind?


Perhaps the focus should be on a much more serious charge than a big diamond ring. That focus would be that the Popes had, during the rise of the papacy, taken the office of bishop of Rome and shrewdly worked it into a world-dominating position by using the authority of the office in an illegitimate manner for the illegitimate purpose of obtaining power. This is a very serious charge, but one that many Protestants accept as a presupposition. I think Schaff and Calvin would both agree to that as the problem in a nutshell from a Protestant perspective, one that I am not sure I have even seen expressed as succinctly as I just did.

Popes are capable of any sin as human beings, even this one. Could popes have been power hungry? Yes, look at Julius III (not sure on the number - I am thinking of the one who marched at the head of the papal army as a soldier). Could popes have more power than Christ intends, and if so, what can Catholics do about it? And how could you tell one is being arrogant as opposed to rightfully using the power of the office, especially when he himself defines what that office is?

JPII and attacks on Protestant clergy are totally irrelevant to this thread. I said nothing about JPII and I did not have him in mind when I wrote the OP. This thread pertains mainly to the historical rise of the papacy, and the effects of that rise on the modern papacy only in a minor way.


The silence is curious.


An interesting read is to compare the accounts in Schaff, New Advent and Eusebius on the event. That is what started this thread.


Men sin.

The pope is a man.

The pope sins.

All popes sin.

Every Catholic sins.

Some popes are arrogant, some are not.


I find that a lot of protestant presuppositions have to do with assigning motive to the Pope’s heart. And that, my friend, is judging someone. Something that the Holy Scriptures forbid us to do.

I happen to believe that the papacy has existed for as long as it has because it is God’s will.

God does as He pleases. As far as we know, no one created except for Jesus Christ, is perfect. Therefore, it must be God’s will to work with imperfect human beings. (Seems kind of obvious, doesn’t it?)

Jesus has told us in Scripture that when we are weak, He is strong. So that we know that all that is miraculously accomplished comes from God, not us.

I would almost propose that God delights in imperfect popes. Because no matter what our “weakness”, …“for those who love God, all things work together for the good.”

It takes far more humility to accept what God is doing when we can’t lean upon our own understanding, than it does to judge by man’s standards.

If our protestant friends have one major downfall, it is failing to trust God with God’s Plan.


That’s gold.

Contraception comes to mind.


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.

Like you, I’ve thought the same thing before the release of this document. My reason for not viewing Baptists, Lutherans, etc… as “Churches” was because they don’t have a valid form of sacrifice (worship).

The only churches that have a valid form of worship (sacrifice) are the Catholic Churches and the Orthodox Churches – the Mass and the Real Presence.

That was my reasoning.

I’m glad to have my belief affirmed by this Papal document.

Arrogance? No.

Truth? Yes.

After reading this document, I now do, indeed, see these other denominations as wounded. I really feel very sorry for them.

The world is so in need of Truth, and we’ve become so lost that people no longer seek it. We behave as if we’ve been thrown into a maze, where reason and emotion are indiscernible.

I for one, am glad not to be in that maze. Thank the Lord for the Holy Father and the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, with Christ as the cornerstone.

God Bless!

Mary Ann


i think you may be personalizing the hurt you feel at what the pope stated about protestant churches not being truly churches. the problem you have is with catholic doctrine, not this or any other pope. he’s not arrogant, he’s a humble introspective man. but he has a duty not to sugarcoat or pull any punches when stating the doctrine of the church.


B16 said nothing new and nothing surprising to me in his recent statement you refer to. It didn’t bother me in the least. I have a great deal of respect for B16. He will “call it as it is.” I accept the fact that for the Catholic Church, the goal of ecumenism is not acceptance of “other churches” as such but assimilation. Anyone who thinks otherwise is not aware of or is in denial of Catholic theology. And this thread, as I have said, relates more to historical issues than modern issues. When I wrote the OP I was thinking of events over a thousand years ago. B16 wasn’t in my mind at all.


This is profound. I think the same accusation could be leveled at any of us. However, the assumption is that whatever has happened is what is supposed to have happened, and thus we should not attempt to change it. This may be viewed more as resignation than as dealing with responsibility: “let us not feed the hungry, for God made them that way, and we do not want to interfere with His will” when He has called us to feed the hungry.
There is a Pope, so we should obey him. But what if Christ’s promise to Peter has been taken by some and so warped that it no longer bears any resemblance to the original intent? Should it not be corrected?

I see a primacy of Peter among the disciples in the Gospels and the first part of Acts. However, Jesus never tells the other apostles to submit to him. Peter is the apostle to the Jews, Paul to the Gentiles. It is curious to me that Paul, not Peter, writies the most significant epistle in the New Testament to Rome, and that Paul makes no mention of Rome’s glorious future in that epistle, nor to Peter coming to Rome or being there (I have no problem believing he went there - let’s not sidetrack the thread).
I think it is entirely possible that Christ’s intention for the bishop of Rome to have been something other than what it has developed into. And that, I think, requires correction. I think B16 somewhere said that for reunification to occur the office of the papacy may have to change. That is intriguing.

Catholics are all into not only forgiveness but restitution. If there has been an historical arrogation of power on the part of the popes, they will need to correct it. Has there been one, and, if so, what would the correction look like?


Take a break and consider this:

“A Catholic Christian is one that professes the true faith and law of Jesus Christ.”

“He recognizes, moreover, that to the priestly order, disposed in hierarchical degrees, belongs the care of governing and feeding the Christian flock, with that authority which Christ gave to St. Peter and the apostles, and which passed as a heritage to their lawful successors. Above all things he shows himself devoted and obedient to the Vicar of Christ. the Roman Pontiff, the father and teacher, in whom is centered the plentitude of power to rule the whole Catholic family.”

“He also recognizes the infallibility of authority which, in virtue of the unfailing assistance of the Divine Spirit, the Church exercises in matters of faith, worship, and morality; hence he accepts with docility and obedience the decisions of the Supreme See, and conforms to them his opinions and thoughts; and he is careful never to abandon this guide in the search after truth, or in accepting the changeable and novel opinions of the age”

Holy Father Leo XIII


For what its worth… this from EWTN. From Anthansius 296-373 emphasis mine.

The very tradition, teaching, and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginng, which the Lord gave, was preached by the apostles and was preserved by the Fathers. On this was the Church founded, and if anyone departs from this, he neither is, nor any longer ought to be called, a Christian.
– St. Athanasius of Alexandria


No, it’s notorious! :wink:

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.

There are a number of good narrative resources which may give you the full scope of St. Catherine’s participation in papal activities. The reports vary. Some assess her counsel as persuasion, others qualify it as a rebuke. In any case, I think all agree that without Catherine’s strength of spirit and resolve, the Catholic Church would not have emerged from the Great Schism in the same way.

The tone of her counsel, I think, is very indicative of the sort of “papal check” for which you may be searching:


    "Most Holy Father,... because He [Christ] has given you authority and 

because you have accepted it, you ought to use your virtue and power. If you
do not wish to use it, it might be better for you to resign what you have
accepted; it would give more honor to God and health to your soul… If you
do not do this, you will be censured by God. If I were you, I would fear
that Divine Judgment might descend on me. (Letter to Pope Gregory XI


There is a Pope, so we should obey him. But what if Christ’s promise to Peter has been taken by some and so warped that it no longer bears any resemblance to the original intent? Should it not be corrected?

I think it should not only be corrected, when abused, but it HAS been! Throughout history, we have numerous examples of good and holy lay people, priests, bishops, and popes who have sought to right the wrongs and correct the abuses.

Our previous Holy Father, JP2, is not the least of these. I think you will find his own pontificate particularly seasoned with humility, restitution and reform.

But, looking further into history, one notices that JP2, while fully sincere, is not so unique. Here are some quotations which I think paint quite an accurate portrait of how the development of the papacy has been marked with rebuke, correction, conversion, reform, renewal, and a return to, as you put it, “the original intent.”


    "The pope should not flatter himself about his power, nor should he 

rashly glory in his honor and high estate, because the less he is judged by
man, the more he is judged by God. Still the less can the Roman Pontiff
glory, because he can be judged by men, or rather, can be shown to be already
judged, if for example he should wither away into heresy, because he who does
not believe is already judged. In such a case it should be said of him: ‘If
salt should lose its savor, it is good for nothing but to be cast out and
trampled under foot by men.’" (Sermo 4)

ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, O.P. (1225-1274)

    "There being an imminent danger for the Faith, prelates must be 

questioned, even publicly, by their subjects. Thus, St. Paul, who was a
subject of St. Peter, questioned him publicly on account of an imminent
danger of scandal in a matter of Faith. And, as the Glossa of St.
Augustine puts it (Ad Galatas 2.14), ‘St. Peter himself gave the example
to those who govern so that if sometime they stray from the right way,
they will not reject a correction as unworthy even if it comes from
their subjects…’

    "The reprehension was just and useful, and the reason for it was 

not light: there was a danger for the preservation of Gospel truth…
The way it took place was appropriate, since it was public and manifest.
For this reason, St. Paul writes: ‘I spoke to Cephas,’ that is, Peter,
‘before everyone,’ since the simulation practiced by St. Peter was
fraught with danger to everyone. (Summa Theologiae, IIa IIae, Q. 33, A.

    "Some say that fraternal correction does not extend to the 

prelates either because man should not raise his voice against heaven,
or because the prelates are easily scandalized if corrected by their
subjects. However, this does not happen, since when they sin, the
prelates do not represent heaven, and, therefore, must be corrected.
And those who correct them charitably do not raise their voices against
them, but in their favor, since the admonishment is for their own
sake… For this reason, according to other [authors], the precept of
fraternal correction extends also to the prelates, so that they may be
corrected by their subjects." (IV Sententiarum, D. 19, Q. 2, A. 2)

POPE PAUL IV (1559-1566)

    "If ever it should appear that any bishop, even one acting as an 

Archbishop, Patriarch, or Primate, or a Cardinal of the Roman Church,
or a legate, or even the Roman Pontiff, whether prior to his promotion to
cardinal, or prior to his election as Roman Pontiff, has beforehand deviated
from the Catholic faith or fallen into any heresy, We enact, we decree, we
determine, we define: Such promotion or election in and of itself, even with
the agreement and unanimous consent of all the Cardinals, shall be null,
legally invalid, and void.


    "If a future pope teaches anything contrary to the Catholic Faith, 

do not follow him." Letter to Bishop Brizen

    "The opinion according to which the pope, in virtue of his 

infallibility, is an unlimited and absolute Sovereign, supposes a totally
erroneous conception of the dogma of papal infallibility. Thus, as the
[First Vatican Council] declared in clear and explicit terms, and as the
nature of things itself shows, this infallibility is confined to that which
is proper to the supreme pontifical Magisterium, which in truth coincides
with the limits of the infallible Magisterium of the Church generally, which
is limited by the doctrine contained in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, as by
the definitions already pronounced by the Magisterium of the Church. (“A
Collective Declaration of the German Bishops,” confirmed by Pope Pius IX)



Thanks. Links would be appreciated.

I seem to recall once suggesting on CAF that Peter’s primacy was one of rebuke, as the “thou art Peter” passage is followed by “get thee behind me Satan” almost immediately. This suggestion wasn’t received with shouts of acclamation.

It may be that the accused arrogance is misplaced. There is a phenomenon that occurs when a leader surrounds himself with yes-men: he begins to believe his own propoganda. I recall from canon law that Catholics have duties towards clergy that possibly are typically ignored. One of those may be viewed as a duty of rebuke. While it takes courage to up and rebuke a priest with a forceful personality, perhaps even more so a bishop, let alone a cardinal or a pope. If everyone around a priest or a pope allows him to act in an arrogant manner, what happens? I can see a bumper sticker: Have You Rebuked Your Priest Today?


Hmm, so by that reasoning, Christ founded his Church upon Satan? That reading doesn’t seem to hold up. I know Protestants believe the Catholic Church to have been corrupted early on, but one would think it took more than a few minutes.

You aren’t really trying to say that Christ thought Peter was Satan, are you? If Christ’s utterance was not meant to caution Peter that no man must stand between Christ and the Cross, but rather, was literally to proclaim Peter Satan, why didn’t the other apostles drive Peter out? Why didn’t Christ throw him out, much less continue to deal with him, much less visit him when risen?

I know Christ offended the Pharisees by hanging out with prostitutes, but Satan?

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