[quote=Volodymyr]I do not understand non-episcopal, non-patriarchal, non-Petrine titles of Pope of Rome. In particular Pontifex Maximus.
This title was used by pagan Roman emperors who were Supreme High Priests of all Pagan religions. Amvrose of Milan told Emperor Gratian not to use this title because it was pagan. Pontifex is Latin word which in Greek is often translated Archiereus (Arch priest). In Book of Hebrews 4,14 Christ calls himself the archiereius megalis (or in Latin pontifex magnus).
Why then is Pope called by such Imperial title which was rejected by St. Amvrose and a title which makes Bishop of Rome Maximus (most great) Pontifex when Christ is only Magnus (great) Pontifex.
Cite your sources, please.
The Early Church Fathers were opposed to the title because, at that time, it was used by the Roman Emperors, who were the supreme rulers over civil and pagan religious affairs. You’ll recall that many, many Catholics were killed for refusing to sacrifice to the Roman emperor, who was considered a god. So no wonder the ECF’s were opposed to calling any emperor by that title.
The title means supreme pontiff, or chief bridge maker. It was not until the Empire split in two, with the Western Empire going to Emperor Gratian (c. 360 AD) and Emperor Theodosius retaining the East, that the Pope was given the title Pontifex Maximus. Feeling that it was not right for he himself to carry that title (since he was, after all, not a Christian priest) the Emperor Gratian bestowed it upon Pope Damasus I, who became the first Pope in history to hold the title “Pontifex Maximus,” signifying that religious authority no longer rested with the emperors, but with the Catholic Church.
(This is the same Pope Damasus who presided over the Council of Rome in 382 that canonized and named the Old and New Testaments and formed the Bible – ta biblia.)
St. Ambrose was advisor to Emperor Gratian and his successor, Valentinian II. It was due to Ambrose’s influence that paganism was stamped out in the Roman Empire. Valentinian had become an Arian, but Ambrose brought him back to the True Faith.
Christ did not give Himself the title of “great high priest” in Hebrews 4:14 – it was said of Him by the author of Hebrews.
The Pope is the Vicar of Christ. Vicar means “deputy.” The deputy is never superior to the chief. To think that any of the Pope’s titles mean that he’s in any way superior to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, is ludicrous.
Wikipedia online encyclopedia
Triumph, The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church – a 2,000-year history, H.W. Crocker III, Forum, 2001