If only the Popes had thought of that!
Vatican Preacher: ‘Vicar of Christ’ is Misleading Title for Pope because Christ is Never Absent from His Church
The Papacy isn’t the only dogma the apostate Fr. Cantalamessa has a problem with…
In 1555, Pope Paul IV instituted the office of the Preacher Apostolic, also known as the Preacher of the Papal Household. Whoever is appointed Preacher of the Papal Household is the only person in the world who is allowed to preach to the Pope. This is a rather useful function, considering that the Pope too is just a man, a sinner whose soul needs to receive spiritual nourishment from the sermons and exhortations of a preacher: “And how shall they hear, without a preacher?” (Rom 10:14).
Since 1980, the position of Preacher of the Papal Household in the Vatican II Sect has been held by the Italian Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, now 88. A Modernist apostate of the “charismatic” stripe, he was ordained a priest for the Franciscan-Capuchin order in 1958. In November of 2020, ‘Pope’ Francis made him a ‘cardinal’, presumably in recognition of services rendered.
Every year for Advent and Lent, it is ‘Cardinal’ Cantalamessa’s task to prepare and preach sermons to the false pope and his Roman curia, and he hasn’t failed to deliver. On Good Friday 2002, in the presence of ‘Saint’ John Paul II, Fr. Cantalamessa proclaimed the incredible blasphemy that God does not merely passively tolerate false religions but positively wills their existence! Sound familiar?
The Capuchin blasphemer said verbatim that such religions “are not merely tolerated by God but positively willed by Him as an expression of the inexhaustible richness of His grace and His will for everyone to be saved” (Sermon of March 29, 2002). The so-called Catholic News Service reported on this on Apr. 1, 2002 (no, it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke):
A direct link to the cached web page from which this screenshot is taken, is available here. The full text of the sermon, in the original Italian, can be accessed here (scroll down to where the text begins with “Le cronache del tempo”).
This is obviously an outlandish heresy and manifestly contrary even to common sense. It incurs the anathema pronounced at the Council of Trent: “If anyone shall say that it is not in the power of man to make his ways evil, but that God produces the evil as well as the good works, not only by permission, but also properly and of Himself, so that the betrayal of Judas is no less His own proper work than the vocation of Paul: let him be anathema” (Session 6; Canon 6; Denz. 816).
Fast forward to this past Friday, Mar. 31, 2023, when Cantalamessa delivered his fifth Lenten sermon for the year. Not surprisingly, he included a bombshell:
I noted with joy that, under the name of the pope, in the Annuario Pontificio, there is only the title “Bishop of Rome;” all other titles – Vicar of Jesus Christ, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, etc. – are listed as “historic titles” on the next page. It seems right to me, especially with regard to “Vicar of Jesus Christ”. Vicar is one who takes the place of the boss in his absence, but Jesus Christ never absented himself and will never be absent from his Church. With his death and resurrection, he became “the head of the body which is the Church” (Col 1:18) and will continue to be such until the end of the world, the true and only Lord of the Church.
(Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., “Take Courage, I have Conquered the World!”, Cantalamessa, Mar. 31, 2023)
What the ‘papal’ preacher is referring to here is the Vatican’s removal of the official papal titles for Francis (Jorge Bergoglio) in the yearbook known as the Annuario Pontificio. Whereas in the past Bergoglio’s titles had been listed as “Vicar of Christ”, “Servant of the Servants of God”, etc., beginning with the 2020 edition these were dropped and relegated to “historical titles” status, almost like a footnote.
A Spanish traditionalist blog has provided a comparison of the 2019 and the 2020 editions to illustrate the change:
In both editions, the title Vescovo di Roma (“Bishop of Rome”) is listed on the prior page (not shown), under the chosen name Francesco.
So this is what Fr. Raniero is talking about when he notes “with joy” that these titles, especially “Vicar of Christ”, have been abandoned. His reasoning, however, is less than impressive: “Vicar is one who takes the place of the boss in his absence, but Jesus Christ never absented himself and will never be absent from his Church.”
We suspect that Fr. Cantalamessa is intelligent enough to know that there are only two possible options here. Either his argument is sound, in which case he should ask himself why the Church got it wrong for 1900 years; or there is a reason why no one ever adopted his line of argumentation, in which case it is probably unsound and should not be articulated.
Obviously, the reasoning is unsound and betrays an ignorance (or willful rejection) of the traditional Catholic teaching on the Papacy. Let’s help him out a little.
First, the Catholic Encyclopedia explains very simply that Vicarius Christi is:
A title of the pope implying his supreme and universal primacy, both of honour and of jurisdiction, over the Church of Christ. It is founded on the words of the Divine Shepherd to St. Peter: “Feed my lambs. . . . Feed my sheep” (John 21:16-17), by which He constituted the Prince of the Apostles guardian of His entire flock in His own place, thus making him His Vicar and fulfilling the promise made in Matthew 16:18-19.
(Catholic Encyclopedia , s.v. “Vicar of Christ”)
What any First Communicant won’t have much trouble understanding but evidently ‘His Eminence’ doesn’t grasp, has been explained succinctly by various Popes and countless other Catholic authorities:
The Church is certainly the one flock of Jesus Christ, who is reigning in heaven, its one Supreme Pastor. He has left it a visible Pastor here on earth, a man who alone is his supreme Vicar, so that in hearing him, the sheep hear in his voice the voice of Jesus Christ Himself, lest seduced by the voice of strangers they be led astray into noxious and deadly pastures.
(Pope Pius VI, Bull Super Soliditate)
Certainly Christ is a King for ever; and though invisible, He continues unto the end of time to govern and guard His church from Heaven. But since He willed that His kingdom should be visible He was obliged, when He ascended into Heaven, to designate a vice-gerent on earth. “Should anyone say that Christ is the one head and the one shepherd, the one spouse of the one Church, he does not give an adequate reply. It is clear, indeed, that Christ is the author of grace in the Sacraments of the Church; it is Christ Himself who baptizes; it is He who forgives sins; it is He who is the true priest who hath offered Himself upon the altar of the cross, and it is by His power that His body is daily consecrated upon the altar; and still, because He was not to be visibly present to all the faithful, He made choice of ministers through whom the aforesaid Sacraments should be dispensed to the faithful as said above” (cap. 74). “For the same reason, therefore, because He was about to withdraw His visible presence from the Church, it was necessary that He should appoint someone in His place, to have the charge of the Universal Church. Hence before His Ascension He said to Peter: ‘Feed my sheep’” (St. Thomas, Contra Gentiles, lib. iv., cap. 76).
Jesus Christ, therefore, appointed Peter to be that head of the Church; and He also determined that the authority instituted in perpetuity for the salvation of all should be inherited by His successors, in whom the same permanent authority of Peter himself should continue. And so He made that remarkable promise to Peter and to no one else: “Thou are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church” (Matt. xvi., 18). “To Peter the Lord spoke: to one, therefore, that He might establish unity upon one” (S. Pacianus ad Sempronium, Ep. iii., n. 11). “Without any prelude He mentions St. Peter’s name and that of his father (Blessed art thou Simon, son of John) and He does not wish Him to be called any more Simon; claiming him for Himself according to His divine authority He aptly names him Peter, from petra the rock, since upon him He was about to found His Church” (S. Cyrillus Alexandrinus, In Evang. Joan., lib. ii., in cap. i., v. 42).
(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Satis Cognitum, n. 11; italics given.)
In his beautiful encyclical letter on the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ, Pope Pius XII explains the same teaching once more:
But we must not think that [Christ] rules only in a hidden or extraordinary manner. On the contrary, our Divine Redeemer also governs His Mystical Body in a visible and normal way through His Vicar on earth. You know, Venerable Brethren, that after He had ruled the “little flock” [Lk 12:32] Himself during His mortal pilgrimage, Christ our Lord, when about to leave this world and return to the Father, entrusted to the Chief of the Apostles the visible government of the entire community He had founded. Since He was all wise He could not leave the body of the Church He had founded as a human society without a visible head. Nor against this may one argue that the primacy of jurisdiction established in the Church gives such a Mystical Body two heads. For Peter in virtue of his primacy is only Christ’s Vicar; so that there is only one chief Head of this Body, namely Christ, who never ceases Himself to guide the Church invisible, though at the same time He rules it visibly, through him who is His representative on earth. After His glorious Ascension into heaven this Church rested not on Him alone, but on Peter too, its visible foundation stone. That Christ and His Vicar constitute one only Head is the solemn teaching of Our predecessor of immortal memory Boniface VIII in the Apostolic Letter Unam Sanctam; and his successors have never ceased to repeat the same.
(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Mystici Corporis, n. 40)
The great significance the Pope has in the Church precisely as Christ’s Vicar is underscored by Pope Pius XII in this subsequent passage:
They, therefore, walk in the path of dangerous error who believe that they can accept Christ as the Head of the Church, while not adhering loyally to His Vicar on earth. They have taken away the visible head, broken the visible bonds of unity and left the Mystical Body of the Redeemer so obscured and so maimed, that those who are seeking the haven of eternal salvation can neither see it nor find it.
(Mystici Corporis, n. 41)
None of this is terribly difficult to understand.
Obviously, then, Christ being present to and in His Church on the one hand, and the Pope ruling the Church of Christ as His Vicar on the other, are not mutually exclusive or contradictory things at all. On the contrary, it is very much through the visible rule of His Vicar that our Blessed Lord Jesus rules His Church to a large extent.
Frankly, Cantalamessa’s was simply a dumb snide remark that is more likely to have its true origin in a contempt for traditional Catholic doctrine rather than in any genuine theological thought. Alas, thanks to his status as ‘papal’ preacher with his own web site, this idiotic comment has now been made available to the entire world, to the detriment of Catholic doctrine and piety.
Rejecting the teaching that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ is serious business — in fact, it is heresy.
It was one of the errors of the proto-Protestant John Wycliffe: “The Roman Church is a synagogue of Satan, and the pope is not the next and immediate vicar of Christ and His apostles” — condemned by the Council of Constance under Pope Gregory XII (see Denz. 617).
Pope Eugene IV, at the Council of Florence, declared:
We likewise define that the holy Apostolic See, and the Roman Pontiff, hold the primacy throughout the entire world; and that the Roman Pontiff himself is the successor of blessed Peter, the chief of the Apostles, and the true vicar of Christ, and that he is the head of the entire Church, and the father and teacher of all Christians; and that full power was given to him in blessed Peter by our Lord Jesus Christ, to feed, rule, and govern the universal Church; just as is contained in the acts of the ecumenical Councils and in the sacred canons.
(Bull Laetentur Coeli; Denz. 694.)
Interestingly enough, the proposition that “The Roman Pontiff, the successor of PETER, is not the vicar of Christ over all the churches of the entire world, instituted by Christ Himself in blessed PETER”, is also one of the errors of Martin Luther (n. 25), condemned by Pope Leo X in the bull Exsurge Domine (Denz. 765). Imagine that.
As any typical post-Vatican II Modernist, Fr. Raniero enjoys taking swipes at the Catholic Church of the ages. People like him can only justify their New Theology by rejecting the old, so an occasional belittling of historic Catholic belief and practice is all but inevitable.
Thus it happened last Friday as well, and not just with his dissing of the title Vicar of Christ for the Pope. He also found a way to throw the immense pre-Vatican II boom in vocations under the bus:
Not everything that once glittered and we now regret was gold. If it had all been pure gold, if those full seminaries had forged holy pastors, and the traditional formation imparted to them solid and true, we wouldn’t have to mourn so many scandals today…
Certainly, one way to keep clerical scandals low is to ensure there are very few clerics. See, there is method to the Novus Ordo madness!
Meanwhile, the Capuchin master theologian who is puzzled by the Vicar of Christ title says in the same sermon:
Jesus said to Peter, “On this rock, I will build my Church.” He didn’t say, “I will build my Churches.” There must be a sense in which what Jesus calls “my Church” embraces all believers in him and all the baptized. The Apostle Paul has a formula that could accomplish this task of embracing all who believe in Christ. At the beginning of his First Letter to the Corinthians, he extends his greeting to “all those everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours” (1 Cor 1:2).
Of course, we cannot be satisfied with this very vast but all too vague unity. And this justifies the commitment and discussion, even doctrinal, between the Churches. But neither can we despise and disregard this basic unity that consists in invoking the same Lord Jesus Christ. Whoever believes in the Son of God also believes in the Father and the Holy Spirit. What has been repeated on several occasions is very true: “what unites us is more important than what divides us.”
And this is a man who dares to lecture others on living Faith! There is nothing Catholic left in these people! As if in the first 1900 years of ecclesiastical history the Catholic Church had had no proper grasp of her own nature, specifically her unity!
Who knows what Cantalamessa means when he says, “I believe in one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church”, but it’s obviously not what Popes Pius XII and his predecessors meant:
As regards the manner and method of proceeding in this work [of discussions with Protestants], the Bishops themselves will make regulations as to what is to be done and what is to be avoided, and shall see that these are observed by all. They shall also be on guard lest, on the false pretext that more attention should be paid to the points on which we agree than to those on which we differ, a dangerous indifferentism be encouraged, especially among persons whose training in theology is not deep and whose practice of their faith is not very strong. For care must be taken lest, in the so-called “irenic” spirit of today, through comparative study and the vain desire for a progressively closer mutual approach among the various professions of faith, Catholic doctrine — either in its dogmas or in the truths which are connected with them — be so conformed or in a way adapted to the doctrines of dissident sects, that the purity of Catholic doctrine be impaired, or its genuine and certain meaning be obscured. …
Therefore the whole and entire Catholic doctrine is to be presented and explained: by no means is it permitted to pass over in silence or to veil in ambiguous terms the Catholic truth regarding the nature and way of justification, the constitution of the Church, the primacy of jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff, and the only true union by the return of the dissidents to the one true Church of Christ. It should be made clear to them that, in returning to the Church, they will lose nothing of that good which by the grace of God has hitherto been implanted in them, but that it will rather be supplemented and completed by their return. However, one should not speak of this in such a way that they will imagine that in returning to the Church they are bringing to it something substantial which it has hitherto lacked. It will be necessary to say these things clearly and openly, first because it is the truth that they themselves are seeking, and moreover because outside the truth no true union can ever be attained.
(Pope Pius XII, Holy Office Instruction Ecclesia Catholica, par. II; underlining added.)
No one can deny or doubt that Jesus Christ himself, in order to apply the fruits of his redemption to all generations of men, built his only Church in this world on Peter; that is to say, the Church, One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic; and that he gave to it all necessary power, that the deposit of Faith might be preserved whole and inviolable, and that the same Faith might be taught to all peoples, kindreds, and nations, that through baptism all men might become members of his mystical body, and that the new life of grace, without which no one can ever merit and attain to life eternal, might always be preserved and perfected in them; and that this same Church, which is his mystical body, might always remain in its own nature firm and immovable to the end of time, that it might flourish, and supply to all its children all the means of Salvation.
Now, whoever will carefully examine and reflect upon the condition of the various religious societies, divided among themselves, and separated from the Catholic Church, which, from the days of our Lord Jesus Christ and his Apostles has never ceased to exercise, by its lawful pastors, and still continues to exercise, the divine power committed to it by this same Lord; cannot fail to satisfy himself that neither any one of these societies by itself, nor all of them together, can in any manner constitute and be that One Catholic Church which Christ our Lord built, and established, and willed should continue; and that they cannot in any way be said to be branches or parts of that Church, since they are visibly cut off from Catholic unity.
(Pope Pius IX, Apostolic Letter Iam Vos Omnes)
Other papal documents of immense importance regarding the unity of the Church are the encyclicals Mortalium Animos of Pius XI (1928) and Satis Cognitum of Leo XIII (1896). Also, Cardinal Samuel Stritch’s pastoral letter on religious unity for the faithful of the Archdiocese of Chicago, issued in 1954, is an utter goldmine of Catholic teaching refuting Vatican II ecumenism.
With people like Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa preaching to the ‘Pope’ and the Roman Curia for Advent and Lent, is it any wonder that the Great Apostasy in Rome is advancing at ever greater speed?
In any case, there is actually one positive takeaway from all this: The Vatican has recognized that Vicar of Christ is not a suitable title for Jorge Bergoglio.
Indeed, considering what he teaches and legislates, Vicar of Antichrist would be a much better fit.
Title image source: composite with elements from YouTube (screenshot) and Shutterstock (OSDG)
License: fair use and paid