The Lutheran Church has, from the start, had a few things to say about the pope, but what does the pope say about himself? What is the Romanist teaching on who the pope is?
Here is a list of the top 6 most surprising things that Roman Catholic Church teaches about the pope.
The pope is the boss, not only of the church, but also of the world. Here it is from the Council of Florence (1439):
"We also define that the holy apostolic see and the Roman pontiff holds the primacy over the whole world and the Roman pontiff is the successor of blessed Peter prince of the apostles, and that he is the true vicar of Christ, the head of the whole church and the father and teacher of all Christians, and to him was committed in blessed Peter the full power of tending, ruling and governing the whole church, as is contained also in the acts of ecumenical councils and in the sacred canons."
This paragraph defines the universal claims of the pope. We also see in it the claim of the Roman Catholic Church that the pope is the successor of Peter and the vicar of Christ.
The claim to primacy in both the church and the state is an ancient claim of the popes. In Unam Sanctam (1302) argues that the pope possess "both swords" this way:
"We are informed by the texts of the gospels that in this Church and in its power are two swords; namely, the spiritual and the temporal. For when the Apostles say: 'Behold, here are two swords' [Lk 22:38] that is to say, in the Church, since the Apostles were speaking, the Lord did not reply that there were too many, but sufficient."
We might find the Biblical support for this assertion a bit wanting.
#5: The pope is the pillar of faith and the foundation of the Church.
Here's an excerpt from Vatican I (2:2, 1870):
"For no one can be in doubt, indeed it was known in every age that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the apostles, the pillar of faith and the foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our lord Jesus Christ, the savior and redeemer of the human race, and that to this day and for ever he lives and presides and exercises judgment in his successors the bishops of the Holy Roman See, which he founded and consecrated with his blood."
In the paragraph preceding this excerpt, the pope serves the "continual salvation and permanent benefit" of the Church. When the Roman Catholic Church talks about the church being built on the rock, that rock is understood to be the pope.
#4: The unity of the Church is found in the pope.
Who knew. Here's another quotation from Vatican I (3:3-4, 1870):
"In this way, by unity with the Roman Pontiff in communion and in profession of the same faith, the Church of Christ becomes one flock under one Supreme Shepherd. This is the teaching of the Catholic truth, and no one can depart from it without endangering his faith and salvation."
The Roman Catholic Church not only teaches that the church finds her unity in the pope, but it also makes the confession of this truth a matter of salvation.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (Q 882, 1995) teaches this same thing, quoting Vatican II:
"The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter's successor, 'is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.'"
#3: The pope is the head of the church.
Vatican I, quoting the Council of Florence:
"...the Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff hold a world-wide primacy, and that the Roman Pontiff is the successor of blessed Peter, the prince of the apostles, true vicar of Christ, head of the whole Church and father and teacher of all Christian people."
The Scriptures teach that Christ is the head of the church (see Ephesians 1:22 and Colossians 1:18), but the pope claims to be the "vicar" of Christ, to stand in the place of Christ on the earth. This leads to some particularly difficult teachings, for example, this excerpt from Unam Sanctam (1302):
"Therefore, of the one and only Church there is one body and one head, not two heads like a monster; that is, Christ and the Vicar of Christ, Peter, and the successor of Peter."
Amazing. The "one head" of the Church is (1) Christ, and (2) the Vicar of Christ, Peter, and (3) the successor of Peter. The only way to make this math make sense is to make the pope into Christ.
#2: The pope teaches infallibly.
This, again, is made dogma in Vatican I (4:9, 1870):
"Therefore, faithfully adhering to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, to the glory of God our savior, for the exaltation of the Catholic religion and for the salvation of the Christian people, with the approval of the Sacred Council, we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman Pontiff speaks ex cathedra, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church, he possesses, by the divine Documents Related to Papal Supremacy assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. Therefore, such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the Church, irreformable. So then, should anyone, which God forbid, have the temerity to reject this definition of ours: let him be anathema."
"Anathema" means condemned, and Vatican I has this anathema for anyone who would deny the infallibility of the pope.
#1: It is necessary for salvation to be subject to the pope.
We're going way back for this one, Unam Sanctam (1302), where we read this flourishing end to this papal bull:
"Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff."
This bold and astonishingly godless assertion needs little comment.
There is much more that that the Roman Catholic Church says about the pope. All of the above quotations may be read in context by clicking the link below. Download, read, share, be astonished...