The little horn was to speak great words against the Most High (Daniel 7:21, 25). Revelation 13:5 explains what these words would be, namely, blasphemy. And, what is blasphemy according to the Bible? It is when a merely human power claims to be God on earth and when it thinks it can exercise the prerogatives and functions of God (see, John 10:30-33; Mark 2:7).
This post is not about my understanding of Catholicism, but rather what the RCC thinks of itself.
1) Roman Catholic church historians and theologians have made some audacious statements regarding the dignity and power of the Pope. Let’s notice a few of them:
In an oration offered to the Pope in the fourth session of the Fifth Lateran Council (1512) Christopher Marcellus stated: “For thou art the shepherd, thou art the physician, thou art the director, thou art the husbandman; finally, thou art another God on earth.” (Labbe and Cossart, History of
the Councils, Vol. XIV, col. 109). .
The Catechism of the Council of Trent states the following: “Bishops and priests, being, as they are, God’s interpreters and ambassadors, empowered in His name to teach mankind the divine law and the rules of conduct, and holding, as they do, His place on earth, it is evident that no nobler function than theirs can be imagined. Justly, therefore, are they called not only Angels, but even gods, because of the fact that they exercise in our midst the power and prerogatives of the immortal God.” (John A. McHugh and Charles J. Callan, Catechism of the Council of Trent for Parish Priests, p. 318).
Notice the following words of Cardinal Robert Bellarmine:
“All names which in the Scriptures are applied to Christ, by virtue of which it is established that he is over the church, all the same names are applied to the Pope.” (Robert Bellarmine, Disputationes de Controversiis, Tom. 2, “Controversia Prima”, Book 2 (“De Conciliorum Auctoritate” [On the Authority of Councils]), chap. 17 (1628 ed., Vol. 1, p. 266), translated
The New York Catechism states: “The pope takes the place of Jesus Christ on earth. By divine right the pope has supreme and full power in faith and morals over each and every pastor and his flock. He is the true Vicar of Christ, the head of the entire church, the father and teacher of all Christians. He is the infallible ruler, the founder of dogmas, the author of and the judge of councils; the universal ruler of truth, the arbiter of the world, the supreme judge of heaven and earth, the judge of all, being judged by no one, God himself on earth.” (Quoted in Lorraine Boettner, Roman Catholicism, p. 127)
Notice the following words in the journal, La Civilta Cattolica, “The pope is the supreme judge of the law of the land. . . . . He is the viceregent of Christ, who is not only a Priest forever, but also King of kings and Lord of lords.” (La Civilta Cattolica, March 18, 1871, quoted in Leonard Woolsey Bacon, An Inside View of the Vatican Council (American Tract Society ed.), p. 229
Pope Gregory IX adds his testimony: “For not man, but God separates those whom the Roman Pontiff (who exercises the functions, not of mere man, but of the true God), having weighed the necessity or benefit of the churches, dissolves, not by human but rather by divine authority.” (The Decretals of Gregory IX, Book l, title 7, chap. 3, in Corpus Juris Canonici (1555-56 ed.), Vol 2, col. 203, translated).
John XXIII at his inauguration address said: “Into this fold of Jesus Christ no one can enter if not under the guidance of the Sovereign Pontiff; and men can securely reach salvation only when they are united with him, since the Roman Pontiff is the Vicar of Christ and represents His person on this earth.” (Quoted in Lorraine Boettner, Roman Catholicism, p. 408).
Pope Leo XIII stated in an Encyclical Letter dated June 20, 1894: “We hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty.” (The Great Encyclical Letters of
Leo XIII, p. 304).
The following words, in a recognized Roman Catholic encyclopedia, illustrate the blasphemous claims of the Papacy: “The Pope is of so great dignity and so exalted that he is not a mere man, but as it were God, and the vicar of God. The Pope is of such lofty and supreme dignity that, properly speaking, he has not been established in any rank of dignity, but rather has been placed upon the very summit of all ranks of dignities. The Pope is called most holy because he is rightfully presumed to be such. Nor can emperors and kings be called most holy; for although in civil laws the term ‘most sacred’ seems sometimes to have been usurped by emperors, yet never that of ‘most holy.’ The Pope alone is deservedly called by the name ‘most holy’, because he alone is the vicar of Christ, who is the fountain and source and fulness of all holiness. The Pope by reason of the excellence of his supreme dignity is called bishop of bishops. He is also called ordinary of ordinaries. He is likewise bishop of the universal church. He is likewise the divine monarch and supreme emperor, and king of kings. Hence the Pope is crowned with a triple crown, as king of heaven and of earth and of the lower regions. Moreover the superiority and the power of the Roman Pontiff by no means pertain only to the heavenly things, to the earthly things, and to the things under the earth, but are even over angels, than whom he is greater. So that if it were possible that the angels might err in the faith, or might think contrary to the faith, they could be judged and excommunicated by the Pope. For he is of so great dignity and power that he forms one and the same tribunal with Christ. So that whatever the Pope does, seems to proceed from the mouth of God, as according to most doctors, etc.
The Pope is as it were God on earth, sole sovereign of the faithful of Christ, chief king of kings, having plenitude of power, to whom has been intrusted by the omnipotent God direction not only of the earthly but also of the heavenly kingdom. The Pope is of so great authority and power that he can modify, explain, or interpret even divine laws. [In proof of this last proposition various quotations are made, among them these:] The Pope can modify divine law, since his power is not of man but of God, and he acts as viceregent of God upon earth with most ample power of binding and loosing his sheep. Whatever the Lord God himself, and the Redeemer, is said to do, that his vicar does, provided that he does nothing contrary to the faith.” (Lucius Ferraris, Prompta Bibliotheca Canonica, Juridica, Moralis, Theologica nec non Ascetica, Polemica, Rubricistica, Historica, article, “Papa”.) This encyclopedia is not some offshoot production. The Catholic Encyclopedia, volume VI, p. 48 in its article, “Ferraris” lauds the virtues of this encyclopedia with the following glowing words: It is “a veritable encyclopedia of religious knowledge” and “a precious mine of information.”
Once again, Pope Leo XIII stated: “But the supreme teacher in the Church is the Roman Pontiff. Union of minds, therefore, requires, together with a perfect accord in the one faith, complete submission and obedience of will to the Church and to the Roman Pontiff, as to God Himself.” (Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Letter, ‘On the Chief Duties of Christians as Citizens”, dated January 10, 1890, trans. in The Great Encyclical Letters of
Pope Leo XIII, p. 193. Bold is mine.
Pope Nicholas I, who ruled from 858 to 867 A. D. pronounced the following awesome words: “It is evident that the popes can neither be bound nor unbound by any earthly power, nor even by that of the apostle [Peter], if he should return upon the earth; since Constantine the Great has recognized that the pontiffs held the place of God upon earth, divinity not being able to be judged by any living man. We are, then, infallible, and whatever may be our acts, we are not accountable for them but to ourselves.”
(Cormenin, History of the Popes, p. 243, as cited in R. W. Thompson, The Papacy and the Civil Power, p. 248).
Many other quotations could be added to prove that the Papacy claims to have the powers and prerogatives of God.
2.Not only do we have statements from Roman Catholic sources to the effect that the Papacy has the power of God, but the Pope also claims the right to be called “Holy Father”. Jesus warned the Jewish leaders of His day: “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 23:9). In the light of this clear statement of Jesus, How can the Pope demand that he be called “Holy Father”? The name, Pope comes from the Italian, “Papa” which is an abbreviation of pater patruum which means “father of fathers” or “principal father” (See, Malachi Martin, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church, p. 19).
3) The Pope allows people to approach him and bow before him and kiss his ring. In fact, Gregory VII, in his famous Dictatus Papae (Dictates of Hildebrand), article # 9 states: “That all princes should kiss his [the Pope’s] feet only.” (Cesare Baronius, Annales, year 1076, secs. 31-33, Vol 17 (1869 ed.), pp. 405, 406, translated). Acts 10:25-26 explains that Peter refused to allow Cornelius to bow before him. And supposedly, Peter was the first Pope!!! Even the angel Gabriel refused to allow John the Apostle to bow before him (see Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9). Jesus said to Satan on the Mount of Temptation, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve”. How unlike Jesus is the Pope. Jesus washed the feet of His disciples but the Pope has encouraged people to bow before him and kiss his feet!!
4) The Papacy claims to possess the power to forgive sins. According to the Bible, only God can forgive sins (see Mark 2:7). If only God can forgive sins and the Pope claims to have power to forgive them, then the Pope must claim to be God! Not only does the Papacy claim that the Pope can forgive sins, but it also claims that its priesthood can forgive them. St. Alphonsus de Liguori wrote a book titled, Dignity and Duties of the Priest or Selva. Liguori lived in the mid 1700’s. What makes his book especially significant is that it is a compendium of the Roman Catholic “wisdom” of the previous 1500 years. Thus it presents with clarity, the official position of the Roman Catholic Church on the subject of the power and duties of the priesthood.
Before we look at several blasphemous statements from this book, it is important to understand the Roman Catholic view of the Mass.
In their view,
l) the priest has the power to change the bread into the real flesh of Jesus and the wine into His real blood,
2) Christ is contained in his totality (known as “ubiquity”) in each host distributed by the priest,
3) because Christ is totally present in each host, the host is worshiped by the priest and the faithful. Obviously, for these concepts to be true, the priest would have to exercise the powers of Almighty God. And this is just what the Roman Catholic Church believes.
Let’s listen to the words of St. Alphonsus de Liguori: “With regard to the power of the priests over the real body of Jesus Christ, it is of faith that when they pronounce the words of consecration the Incarnate Word has obliged himself to obey and to come into their hands under the sacramental species. We are struck with wonder when we hear that God obeyed the voice of Josue–The Lord obeying the voice of man–and made the sun stand when he said move not, O sun, towards Gabaon. , . . . and the sun stood still. But our wonder should be far greater when we find that in obedience to the words of his priests–HOC EST CORPUS MEUM–God himself descends on the altar, that he comes wherever they call him, and as often as they call him, and places himself in their hands, even though they should be his enemies. And after having come, he remains, entirely at their disposal; they move him as they please, from one place to another; they may, if they wish, shut him up in the tabernacle, or expose him on the altar, or carry him outside the church; they may, if they choose, eat his flesh, and give him for the food of others.” St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Dignity and Duties of the Priest or Selva, pp. 26-27.
“With regard to the mystic body of Christ, that is, all the faithful, the priest has the power of the keys, or the power of delivering sinners from hell, of making them worthy of paradise, and of changing them from the slaves of Satan into the children of God. And God himself is obliged to abide by the judgment of his priests, and either not to pardon or to pardon, according as they refuse or give absolution provided the penitent is capable of it. ‘Such is,’ says St. Maximus of Turin, ‘this judiciary power ascribed to Peter that its decision carries with it the decision of God.’ The sentence of the priest precedes, and God subscribes to it,’ writes St. Peter Damian.”St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Dignity and Duties of the Priest or Selva, pp. 27-28.
“Were the Redeemer to descend into a church, and sit in a confessional to administer the sacrament of penance, and a priest to sit in another confessional, Jesus would say over each penitent, ‘Ego te absolvo,’ the priest would likewise say over each of his penitents, ‘Ego te absolvo,’ and the penitents of each would be equally absolved.” St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Dignity and Duties of the Priest or Selva, p. 28.
“When he ascended into heaven, Jesus Christ left his priests after him to hold on earth his place of mediator between God and men, particularly on the altar. . . The Priest holds the place of the Saviour himself, when, by saying ‘Ego te absolvo,’ he absolves from sin.” St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Dignity and Duties of the Priest or Selva, p. 34
5) The Roman Catholic Papacy claims to have changed the law of God. (Dan.7:25 ) Not even God can change the law He wrote with His own finger (see Exodus 31:18). It is as eternal as He is. This means that the Papacy not only claims power equal to God’s but actually claims a power greater than God’s. Obviously this is blasphemy in its most odious form. Notice the following words from the Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. XII, art. “Pope,” p. 265: “Peter and his successors have power to impose laws both preceptive and prohibitive, power likewise to grant dispensation from these laws, and, when, needful, to annul them. It is theirs to judge offenses against the laws, to impose and to remit penalties. This judicial authority will even include the power to forgive sin. For sin is a breach of the laws of the supernatural kingdom, and falls under the cognizance of its constituted judges.”
This particular topic will be dealt with more fully in characteristic 8.
6) The Papacy claims that it has infallibility in faith and morals. The Bible teaches clearly that only God is infallible and does not change (James 1:17; Malachi 3:6;Hebrews 13:8.
If the Pope, speaking ex-cathedra, claims to be infallible, then he must also be claiming to be God!! Notice the following evidence: Gregory VII, in his famous Dictatus Papae, makes twenty seven propositions among which is: “That the Roman Church never erred, nor will it, according to the Scriptures, ever err.” (Cesare Baronius, Annales, year 1076, secs. 31-33, vol 17 (1869 ed.), pp. 405, 406, translated). The Roman Catholic Papacy has put itself on the record on this point by proclaiming, in 1870, the famous Dogma of Papal Infallibility. The events surrounding this event are described by Norskov Olsen:
“Viva Pio Nono Papa infallible! These words echoed and re-echoed in the basilica of St. Peter in Rome on the eventful July 18, 1870 when the great crowd, having heard the message of papal infallibility, jubilantly expressed their applause. ‘In the midst of one of the fiercest storms ever known to break across the city, accompanied by thunder and lightning, while rain poured in through the broken glass of the roof close to the spot where the Pope was standing, Pius IX read in the darkness, by the aid of a candle, the momentous affirmation of his own infallibility.’ The fierce storm and dense darkness, the thunder and lightning that accompanied the reading of this document, caused adherents of the papacy to compare the event to the lawgiving at Mount Sinai; on the other hand, opponents saw in the wrath of the elements a sign of God’s anger. By both friend and critic the declaration of papal absolutism was considered to be the most momentous event in the long history of the papacy.
On that day the document entitled Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith was decreed. It contains three fundamental concepts which were made into dogma: the supremacy, the universal jurisdiction, and the infallibility of the pope.” (V. Norskov Olsen, Papal Supremacy and American Democracy, p. 2).
The key portion of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith stated the following: “We teach and define that it is a dogma divinely revealed: that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians,!!?? by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed for defining doctrine regarding faith or morals; and that therefore such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church. But if any one–which may God avert–presume to contradict this our definition: let him be anathema.” Philip Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, vol. 2, chapter 4, pp. 270-271).
The Roman Catholic theologian, Fritz Leist, comments on this dogma: “The infallibility of the pope is the infallibility of Jesus Christ Himself. . . whenever the pope thinks, it is God Himself, who is thinking in him.” (Fritz Leist, Der Gefangene des Vatikanus, p. 344. Quoted in Symposium on Revelation, pp. 340-341).
The proclamation of this Papal Dogma was the most controversial in the history of the Roman Catholic Church. A significant number of the clergy who attended the Vatican Council I were ardently opposed to this dogma and yet in spite of protests, it was passed. If you would like to read more about how this controversial dogma was passed, despite the opposition, read the opening pages of V. Norskov Olsen’s book, Papal Supremacy and American Democracy.
The famous Bible commentator, Adam Clarke, remarks: “They have assumed infallibility, which belongs only to God. They profess to forgive sins, which belongs only to God. They profess to open and shut heaven, which belongs only to God. They profess to be higher than all the kings of the earth, which belongs only to God. And they go beyond God in pretending to loose whole nations from their oath of allegiance to their kings, when such kings do not please them. And they go against God, when they give indulgences for sin. This is the worst of all blasphemies.” ( Adam Clarke, Commentary, on Daniel 7:25).
The arrogance of the Papacy over the secular power is illustrated in the famous Decree of Gratian. Even though this Decree is a perversion of fact, it does show the boastful claims of the papacy: “It is shown with sufficient clearness that by the secular power the Pope cannot in any way be bound or loosed, who it is certain was called God by the pious leader Constantine, and it is clear that God cannot be judged by man.” (Decree of Gratian, part 1, div. 96, chap. 7).
Notice the words of the papal bull of Pius V deposing Queen Elizabeth of England in 1570:
“He that reigneth on high, to whom all power in heaven and earth is given, has with all fulness of power delivered the rule of the one holy catholic and apostolic church, outside of which there is no salvation, to one sole [ruler] upon earth, to wit, Peter, the prince of the apostles, and to the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter. Him alone he hath set as prince over all nations and all kingdoms, to pull up, to destroy, to overthrow, and to break down, to plant, and to build, that he may keep the people faithful, bound with the bond of mutual love, and in the unity of the Spirit, and present them unhurt and safe to his Saviour.”
Pope Pius, in articles 4 and 5 of this bull, states the following:
“Article 4. Moreover she herself is deprived of her pretended right to the aforesaid kingdom, and also of all dominion, dignity and privilege whatsoever
Article 5. And so we absolve the nobles, subjects, and peoples of the said kingdom, and all others who have taken any oath to her, from the obligation of their oath and besides from all duty of dominion, fidelity and obedience: and we deprive the said Elizabeth of her pretended right to the kingdom and of all other things as is aforesaid: and we charge and order all and every the nobles, subjects, and peoples, and others aforesaid, not to venture to obey her monitions, commands, and laws. And we attach the like sentence of anathema to those who shall act otherwise. . . Given at St. Peter’s at Rome 25th February, 1570, in the fifth year of our pontificate.” (Charles Stuteville, Our Brief Against Rome, p. 268.)
8) The Bible makes it clear that God the Father has given Jesus Christ the right to judge because He is the Son of Man (John 5:22, 27). In fact, the Father has given Jesus ALL JUDGMENT!! But the Papacy claims that it has been given the right to serve as judge of mankind. In this way, the Papacy, once again, claims to possess the right to exercise the role which belongs to God alone. Notice the following evidence:
In Gregory VII’s Dictatus Papae, article 18 reads: “That his [the Pope’s] sentence is not to be reviewed by any one; while he alone can review the decisions of all others.” Article 19 states: “That he [the Pope] can be judged by no one”.
Augustinus de Ancona, in a document preserved in the British Museum, states the following:
“Therefore the decision of the Pope and the decision of God constitute one [i. e., the same] decision, just as the opinion of the Pope and of his disciple are the same. Since, therefore, an appeal is always taken from an inferior judge to a superior, as no one is greater than himself, so no appeal holds when made from the Pope to God, because there is one consistory of the Pope himself and of God himself, of which consistory the Pope himself is the key-bearer and the doorkeeper. Therefore no one can appeal from the Pope to God, as no one can enter into the consistory of God without the mediation of the Pope, who is the key-bearer and the doorkeeper of the consistory of eternal life; and as no one can appeal to himself, so no one can appeal from the Pope to God, because there is one decision and one court [curia] of God and the Pope.”
(From the writings of Augustinus de Ancona (R. C.), printed without title page or pagination, commencing, ‘incipit summa Catholici doctoris Augustini de Ancona potestate ecclesiastica’, Questio VI, ‘De Papalis
Sententiae Appellatione’ (On an Appeal from a Decision of the Pope).
We are also reminded of the words of Lucius Ferraris:
“So that if it were possible that the angels might err in the faith, or might think contrary to the faith, they could be judged and excommunicated by the Pope. For he is of so great dignity and power that he forms one and the same tribunal with Christ.”
(Lucius Ferraris, Prompto Bibliotheca, article, “Papa”, II, vol. 6, pp. 26-)
Note, in the oforementioned quote a reference to the pope being” the key-bearer and the doorkeeper of the consistory of eternal life”. Now I fully appreciate that this quote comes from an old source, however, when I was a young man being taught and raised within the Catholic communion of faith, this precept, that only by the grace and authority of the pope could anyone enter heaven, was well understood and believed as a dogma and doctrine of the modern church. I do not believe for one moment that has changed.
Now, after reading the above, can any true protestant continue to entertain the idea that Catholicism, as a system of religion, ( I speak not of individuals within this system) is genuinely Christian? Or were the reformers absolutely correct, when they all declared the papacy as the ‘antichrist’, that which stands in the place of , thus replacing, Christ?