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Pontifex maximus


#1

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.


#2

I was told by a canonist that pontiff comes from the Latin for bridge as if the officeholder was a bridge between this world and heaven. In that sense the vicar (substitute for) Christ is the Supreme Bridge between man and God.

the Catholic Encyclopedia at www.newadvent.org might answer this in articles for Pontiff, pope or papacy.


#3

What is basis for believing Pope to be major “bridge” between God and Man. Ladder of Divine Ascent by St. John Klimakus says that virtue and love are bridge (ladder) to God.

But Pontifex means Bridge Maker, not Bridge. How does Pope build bridges??? Isn’t this linguistic anachronism - Pope took title not because he is bridge builder but because it was an Imperial title. Pope wanted a title used by Roman Emperors. Pontifex in Roman Empire meant simply pagan priest, in spite of linguistic origin of parts.

What is basis in Bible or Tradition that Pope is more than Bishop, Patriarch and Teacher, but is bridge-builder supreme???


#4

Just saying the definition of pontiff is not bridge but bridge builder.


#5

I don’t know, and the canonist who told me was only giving what limited information she had.

I would suggest asking a professor of ecclesiology or theology at a respected Catholic university.

Jagieollian, Krakow… Georgetown, Gonzaga, Sophia, U of Scranton. etc.

Sto laat. :slight_smile:


#6

The Ecumencial Patriarch has the title “All Holy”. Isn’t that properly reserved for God or the Theotokos? Do the Orthodox claim the Patriarch is divine? We can play this game with any title. Basically it is a way of saying that the chief religious role had been baptized and now the Pope functions in that role.


#7

[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.
[/quote]

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.

JMJ Jay

References:

Wikipedia online encyclopedia

Triumph, The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church – a 2,000-year history, H.W. Crocker III, Forum, 2001


#8

[quote=Volodymyr]What is basis for believing Pope to be major “bridge” between God and Man. Ladder of Divine Ascent by St. John Klimakus says that virtue and love are bridge (ladder) to God.

But Pontifex means Bridge Maker, not Bridge. How does Pope build bridges??? Isn’t this linguistic anachronism - Pope took title not because he is bridge builder but because it was an Imperial title. Pope wanted a title used by Roman Emperors. Pontifex in Roman Empire meant simply pagan priest, in spite of linguistic origin of parts.

What is basis in Bible or Tradition that Pope is more than Bishop, Patriarch and Teacher, but is bridge-builder supreme???
[/quote]

The Pope is a “bridge” between God and Man because Jesus was God and the Pope is His deputy, His representative on earth. He is the successor to St. Peter, the keeper of the keys to the kingdom of heaven, whom Christ appointed to lead His Church on earth when He ascended to heaven. Mt 16:18-19, John 21:15-19, et al. Christ said to Peter and all the Apostles, “He who hears you hears me . . .” Luke 10:16.

The Pope did not “take” this title; he didn’t ask for this title; it was given to him by the Emperor Gratian. Bestowing the title symbolized, as I said in my previous post, that the Church – not the emperor – was now the chief or supreme religious authority in the Roman Empire. It in no way supplants virtue and love as “ladders” to God.

The Pope is, indeed, a priest, a bishop, a patriarch, and a teacher. He “builds bridges” in many situations. In addition to his influence in religious matters, the present Pope played a major role in the downfall of atheistic Communism.

Many Protestant websites I have been to exaggerate and misrepresent the title Pontifex Maximus. They fail to learn its true history and how it came to be associated with the Holy Father. They are bent on making something sinister out of it. This is just one more fallacy they use to attack the Catholic Church. The antidote is Truth.

Pontifex Maximus is one of many honorary titles given to the Pope over the centuries.

I hope I’ve answered your Qs. If not, let me know and I’ll try again.

JMJ Jay


#9

Yeah everybody needs to chill with the title thing and put into its historical perspective its not JOhn Paul 2 is telling people to call him this in fact he would be embarassed by this title as any modern day pope would be but back in the ROman Empire days the Emperor gives you a title supposedly honoring you and what do you say?

Protestants go crazy when we call the Pope Holy Father. There would be no satisfying them even if this rather over elaborate title was not an issue.


#10

[quote=Maccabees]Yeah everybody needs to chill with the title thing and put into its historical perspective its not JOhn Paul 2 is telling people to call him this in fact he would be embarassed by this title as any modern day pope would be but back in the ROman Empire days the Emperor gives you a title supposedly honoring you and what do you say?

Protestants go crazy when we call the Pope Holy Father. There would be no satisfying them even if this rather over elaborate title was not an issue.
[/quote]

You are so correct!

Historically all protestant denominations have to demean or nullify the Pope because to recognize him as the head of the church is to admit that …they are wrong!!!


#11

[Pontifex Maximus is one of many honorary titles given to the Pope over the centuries.

I hope I’ve answered your Qs. If not, let me know and I’ll try again.

JMJ Jay
[/QUOTE]

Thank you. I guess your explanation does if title left alone in Latin. However, such title often translated in Russia by term verkhovniyi zhretz (supreme pagan priest). Another verkhovniyi zhretz who became well known in Russia from America was the Supreme Pagan Priest of church of Satan in San Francisco. I do not know if Church of Satan uses Latin term pontifex maximus or what English term.

To call respected Pope verkhovniyi zhretz seems odd, but if Roman Catholics like expression and understand it, probably all that is sufficient. But very strange in translation!!


#12

volodymyr wrote:

Thank you. I guess your explanation does if title left alone in Latin. However, such title often translated in Russia by term verkhovniyi zhretz (supreme pagan priest). Another verkhovniyi zhretz who became well known in Russia from America was the Supreme Pagan Priest of church of Satan in San Francisco. I do not know if Church of Satan uses Latin term pontifex maximus or what English term.

To call respected Pope verkhovniyi zhretz seems odd, but if Roman Catholics like expression and understand it, probably all that is sufficient. But very strange in translation!!

Pontifex Maximus is a fourth century title that 21st century Catholics never think about until the matter is raised, usually by a Protestant attack upon the Church. In fact, I doubt if the average Catholic has even heard of it. When meeting the Pope, no one says to him, ‘How do you do, Pontifex Maximus,’ and no one writes to him using that title. Nor does the Pope sign encyclicals or other documents with that title. Again, it is an honorary title bestowed upon the Pope by a fourth century Roman Emperor named Gratian. One never hears of it except it lists of honorary titles the Pope holds. It was important at the time it was given to the Pope because before, when the Emperors used that title, they were persecuting the Church and murdering Roman citizens who had become Catholics. For a Roman Emperor to give the title to a Pope signified, I believe, that the Church had not only survived the fierce persecutions, but had converted her Roman persecutors to the Catholic Faith!

May I ask your location? Write to me at Katholikos1@aol.com.

Peace be with you, Jay


#13

[quote=Maccabees]Yeah everybody needs to chill with the title thing and put into its historical perspective its not JOhn Paul 2 is telling people to call him this in fact he would be embarassed by this title as any modern day pope would be but back in the ROman Empire days the Emperor gives you a title supposedly honoring you and what do you say?

Protestants go crazy when we call the Pope Holy Father. There would be no satisfying them even if this rather over elaborate title was not an issue.
[/quote]

Oratorians, as the “sons” of St. Philip Neri, refer to him as “our holy father St. Philip” - and members of other religious societies, congregations, fraternites, and orders, talk of their founders in the same way :smiley:


#14

[quote=Volodymyr][Pontifex Maximus is one of many honorary titles given to the Pope over the centuries.

I hope I’ve answered your Qs. If not, let me know and I’ll try again.

JMJ Jay
[/QUOTE]

Thank you. I guess your explanation does if title left alone in Latin. However, such title often translated in Russia by term verkhovniyi zhretz (supreme pagan priest). Another verkhovniyi zhretz who became well known in Russia from America was the Supreme Pagan Priest of church of Satan in San Francisco. I do not know if Church of Satan uses Latin term pontifex maximus or what English term.

To call respected Pope verkhovniyi zhretz seems odd, but if Roman Catholics like expression and understand it, probably all that is sufficient. But very strange in translation!!

Rather like calling Our Lord “Kurios” , or using the epithet Hypsistos for the true God - there are many examples of Christians, Jews, and “others” using the same term for different beings.

Christians & Jews were not alone in using the term “Heis Theos”, either - and so it goes on. :slight_smile:

It could be argued that “pagan” terms were being redeemed, so as to be used in the true Faith for the true God and for what related to Him. “Spoiling the Egyptians”, in fact ##
[/quote]


#15

Don’t forget this article by Mark Bonocore…

The Title Pontifex Maximus

Phil P


#16

[quote=PhilVaz]Don’t forget this article by Mark Bonocore…

The Title Pontifex Maximus

Phil P
[/quote]

Tertullian’s comments referred to, may be directed against Agrippinus of Carthage, rather than Callistus of Rome - I don’t think that there is any consensus on this.


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