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The History of the claim to be Vicar of Christ
This outlandish assertion came relatively late in the history of the Papacy. To begin with, the Bishop of Rome claimed to be the vicar of Caesar – and his successors the rightful heirs to the Caesars. The city that had been the seat of power for the Roman Empire became the city for the Bishop of Rome to exercise his authority.
Gradually, other Bishops and national monarchs accepted him as vicar and successor to Caesar with the same supreme title of “Pontifex Maximus.”
Next, the Bishops of Rome claimed to be “The vicar of the prince of the apostles”, that is, the vicar of Peter. Thus, in the early fifth century, Bishop Innocent I (401-417 A.D.) insisted that Christ had delegated supreme power to Peter and made him the Bishop of Rome. Following this, he held that the Bishop of Rome as Peter’s successor was entitled to exercise Peter’s power and prerogatives. Boniface III, who became Bishop of Rome in 607, established himself as “Universal Bishop,” thus claiming to be vicar and master of all other bishops.
It was not until the eighth century, however, that the particular title “Vicar of the Son of God” was found in the fraudulent document called “The Donation of Constantine.” Although this notorious document was proven false in the early sixteenth century, the Bishops of Rome have used the title “Vicar of Christ” since the eighth century. This title has been the Pope’s supreme claim to spiritual and temporal supremacy. The taste of divine power, with which the title resonates, has proven to be addictive. The “Vicar of Christ” is able to recognize no authority other than his own. He looks upon himself as Master of all, and boldly proclaims, “The First See is judged by no one.”
From this article here…