Pope Benedict XVI

The collective Catholic world shouted in joyful exultation as we received the 265th pope – Pope Benedict XVI (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger). ๐Ÿ™‚

I posted this on a mailing list I belong to: I reproduce it here as a means of answering questions about what a pope does:

I’ll quote this straight from “The Incredible Book of Vatican Facts and Papal Curiosities” by Nino Lo Bello. It doesn’t quite answer your question, but it does give some good background:

What happens to a man when he becomes pope?

  • he assumes a new name and loses most of the civil ties that bind him to his country
  • he finds his daily life regulated – he has his own confessor – who must be a Jesuit priest – who visits the Vatican once a week to listen to the Pope’s confession [of his sins]
  • he finds that in theory he has full power over the Roman Catholic Church and every decree requires his approval. He can obey or ignore precedent. He can set aside tradition, write or rewrite constitutions, proclaim dogmas on his own and change disciplines without consultation. Although on certain matters, the pope is supposed to seek counsel and advice from the College of Cardinals, he is empowered to make up his own mind and take action. On matters of high policy, he may do as John XXIII did when, without calling in the curia cardinals for their views, he decided to go ahead with the Ecumenical Council.
  • he finds that he can be judged by no man. He is tantamount to a sovereign who cannot be brought to court.

The Pope can do the following:

  • approve or sanction or suppress religious orders
  • grant indulgences
  • beatify or canonize saints
  • appoint bishops and name cardinals
  • erect, administer, alter, or suppress bishoprics
  • assign an auxiliary bishop to one who is incapacitated
  • found and legislate for papal universities
  • issue liturgical books
  • administer the temporal goods of ecclesiastical foundations
  • erect and govern missions dependent on the Holy See
  • call, preside over, and adjourn ecumenical councils
  • regulate holy days and Catholic feasts
  • introduce new rites and abrogate old ones
  • issue ex cathedra decretals on belief
  • introduce or alter or suppress Church laws on any subject
  • defend doctrine against heresies
  • relax oaths and vows for members of religious orders who want to return to secular life
  • give matrimonial dispensations
  • act as a court
  • establish rules of judicial procedure
  • establish censures or punishments
  • organize courts for hearing cases

One more interesting tidbit from the same book:

  • the Pope does not draw a salary & does not have a private bank account

My shorter answer:
The pope’s day to day activities include

  • keeping up with world news (every morning he receives a synopsis from a dozen major world newspapers on world news)
  • hosting audiences (the pope has general and private audiences almost every weekday while at the Vatican)
  • praying (the pope will celebrate Mass daily, either in his private chapel, in the Basilica, or both; he will also spend several hours in prayer, meditation, and scripture reading)
  • governing the worldwide Catholic Church (he has several bureaucratic bodies that help him administer the Church, regional Bishop’s conferences, as well as administrative commissions, but he is still fundamentally the CEO of the Catholic Church)

Hope that helps! ๐Ÿ™‚

As to the Pope’s title . . . the office of Pope has many titles attached to it – some of the other ones (which I’ll prob be raked over the coals for!) are:

  • Bishop of Rome
  • Successor of the Prince of Apostles
  • Vicar of Jesus Christ
  • Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church
  • Servant of the Servants of God [my personal favorite!]
  • Patriarch of the West
  • Primate of Italy
  • Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province
  • Sovereign of the State of Vatican City

Concerning the title Vicar of Jesus Christ . . .

The title is in reference to the sacramental theology of the Catholic Church. (Here using the word sacrament to mean something visible/tangible which both represents and points to something invisible/intangible). We see Christ as the Primordial Sacrament of God – Jesus was a visible/tangible person that both represented and pointed to the invisible/intangible God. Once Christ ascended back to heaven, the Church became the sacrament of Jesus – the Church became the visible/tangible presence of the invisible/intangible Christ. Each person then, in a certain sense, becomes a sacrament of Jesus (for each person taken together makes up the Body of Christ on earth now) – we are the hands and feet of God on earth. The title points to that universal priesthood of every believer, but in a special way is applied to the Pope as the successor to Peter and the first apostles – in an ordained fashion, he is the representative of the Church, hence he is the representative of Jesus on this earth. No pope, and certainly no church teaching, would look to the pope as *the* presence of Christ on earth, but we do accord him the special title of being one who is “first among equals” – the leader of the worldwide catholic church which is the presence of Jesus Christ on this planet until he comes again in his glory.

Blessings & Peace,

4 thoughts on “Pope Benedict XVI

  1. Hugo says:

    lol! ๐Ÿ™‚ Ok – thanks – I read both yours and Crushed Leviathan’s blogs – I didn’t know that was his name. Thanks for linking to me – I’ve been wanting to add links to the blogs I read on a regular basis – my HTML is non-existent, so as soon as my wife feels up to it she’s gonna show me! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Blessings & Peace,

  2. Kc says:

    Glad tidings make glad. I hope the marriage goes as well. Pechure is Crushed Leviathan. He’s linked on my blog along with (gulp) you and Matt ๐Ÿ™‚ If you haven’t already you might give it a peek.

  3. Hugo says:

    Glad I could post some relevant info, and thanks for the welcome back – my brother’s wedding and reception went well, and neither he nor his new bride looked any worse for wear.

    Ummm . . . who’s Pechure? (I’m slow sometimes – bear with me!)

    Finally, I think most non-Catholics are thinking “what’s the big fuss all about?” For Catholics, we’re seeing history in the making – I just hope and pray that our current Pope is as good or better than the last one.

    Blessings & Peace,

  4. Kc says:

    Hugo thanks for the inside view. Thereโ€™s no doubt that the Pope is an important world figure and I appreciate the information. I think Pechureโ€™s post reflects the attitude many of us who are not Catholic take on in times like these. I remember watching when John Paul II was elected and wondering what it all meant. BTW Itโ€™s good to see you back. I hope all are well and the wedding was a great success.

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