The Nub of the Problem
“And Jesus never passed Himself off like a prince (true): He was the servant of all (true), and this is what gave him authority (false).” ~ Pope Francis
There is an incalculable amount of evil that can be done by Churchmen who believe that Christ was given authority by anything other than His identity as the only begotten Son of God, of Whom we say in the Creed the following:
Born from the Father before all ages,
God from God,
Light from light,
True God, from true God,
Begotten, not made,
Consubstantial with the Father,
Through Him all things were made.
If Jesus Christ's authority derived from His 'service to all' - if His authority came from His actions and behaviour during His ministry itself, rather than being always the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, then His actual teachings are only as useful to the Church as the teachings of someone else who imitates Him in His behaviour. This person could have entirely different teachings but still be 'just so much like Christ'.
Presumably, another man, within the Church perhaps, let's say, er, the Pope (though it need not be necessarily him), can derive a similar authority to Christ simply by doing or being known for doing Christ-like things. If Christ's authority comes from being 'a wonderful, selfless person, serving all' then presumably the Pope's authority, too, comes from being a 'a wonderful, selfless person serving all'.
This is a very interesting idea that the Pope is proposing, but it is not Catholicism. One can see in this new paradigm how some could paint Pope Francis, who we all hear is 'a wonderful person' as a new Jesus Christ, updated and modified (let's not say 'improved') for 21st century man. Indeed, this process of making the Pope into a modern day Jesus Christ has already started and seems to have a self-generating momentum.
|A letter to The Tablet|
'Pope Francis, we hear very much is 'humble'.You get the idea. One could go on!
Jesus Christ was humble.
Pope Francis, 'does so much good'.
Jesus Christ did so much good.
Pope Francis, 'stands against the strict religious leaders of his day'.
Jesus Christ stood against the strict religious leaders of his day.
Pope Francis 'stands up for the poor and marginalised'.
Jesus Christ stood up for the poor and marginalised.'
Already the PR efforts to cast Pope Francis as 'just like Jesus Christ' have been well underway. People in Rome are literally being paid to promote Pope Francis in the media and it is working, in parts, among those who wish to be deceived. It is - in some parts - a very effective media campaign that Pope Francis has engaged in. But this latest comment from the Pope concerning authority and where it comes from cannot be allowed to pass.
This cannot be allowed to pass because, the Pope is not, nor is any other individual...
Born from the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from light, True God, from true God, Begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father.
These words refer to Jesus Christ alone. No matter how 'Christ-like' a person may be in his outward appearances, no priest, no layman, no Cardinal or Pope can ever aspire to be what or Who Jesus Christ Is: God made flesh!
In addition, there is a disturbing aside to glean from this disturbing comment from the Pope concerning Christ's authority because of his Office as Pope, and this is that if Christ's authority came from being 'just so humble, close to the people and willing to be of service to all' then where does the Pope's authority come from?
Traditionally, Catholics have believed that the Pope's authority comes from Christ Who said, 'Thou art Peter and upon this Rock I shall build my Church'. But if Christ's own authority comes from simply being a good person, rather than being God, what then does the Pope's authority rest upon but being a good person? Were Catholics to believe that every Pope would have to gain and maintain authority, for it would not be a 'given' in order to possess it, by working very hard to be a 'wonderful person, close to the people, just like Christ'. What an awfully Pelagian position every Pope would find himself in! Having to work so hard at being good simply to gain authority which, in reality, has been given to him by Christ Himself regardless of his personal virtues or lack of them!
Every crisis of Faith in the Church is Christological in nature and for this reason the 'two truths and a lie' game so beloved of TEFL teachers as an ice-breaker for their class becomes something of a habit. Without a true, Catholic sense - a right belief - about Jesus Christ and Who He is, God made man, fully God and fully man, assuming that which He was not, but undergoing no alteration to His nature as Divine, everything else will fall apart - yes, even the Papacy!
And while it is true that Our Lord, 'never passed Himself off as a prince', Jesus Christ is, nonetheless, both Prince and King. When asked by Pilate as to His Kingship, Our Lord did not deny it when 'dialoguing' with Pilate:
'Pilate therefore went into the hall again, and called Jesus, and said to him: Art thou the king of the Jews? Jesus answered: Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or have others told it thee of me? Pilate answered: Am I a Jew? Thy own nation, and the chief priests, have delivered thee up to me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now my kingdom is not from hence. Pilate therefore said to him: Art thou a king then? Jesus answered: Thou sayest that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth, heareth my voice. Pilate saith to him: What is truth? And when he said this, he went out again to the Jews, and saith to them: I find no cause in him.' (John 18, 33-40)
No, Jesus Christ never 'passed Himself off as a Prince', He had no need for earthly honours, but just as in His behaviour and actions this is not simply because of His humility and selflessness. It is because He is Lord, through Him all things, including those who speak of Him, were made.
The same man who said, reportedly, concerning the recent sackings of three men from the CDF...
“...And I am the pope, I do not need to give reasons for any of my decisions. I have decided that they have to leave and they have to leave...”
...will one day have to give answer to the Lord Jesus Christ. Let him, if he has forgotten that, remember, at the very least, that. It is that which should make every Pope, who is judged in a more severe manner than are ordinary folk, tremble. It is, in fact, this that should restrain every Pope from becoming a tyrant. But I fear we have, in this Pope, moved well beyond this restraining kind of thought. Where there is no fear of God, there is tyranny! Cardinal Burke has said it is the Last Judgement that encourages him to speak out against error and losing his title would mean very little in comparison to the fear of offending Christ. Pope Francis would do very well to learn from him! Whatever virtues God has given Pope Francis that make him 'like Jesus Christ', the naked acquisition and exercise of power and privilege is not what Christianity is about!