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← Epilogue - The Case of the Pope

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by Bernard Hurley

Comment 21 by achromat666 :

They literally behave as if their church nation allows for some divine version of diplomatic immunity and ...

No they don't "behave as if" they have divine immunity, the official position of the Catholic Church is that canon law has divine authority and that this implies a right of immunity from the sanctions of any other legal system where it conflicts with canon law. On the other hand the statehood claim for the Vatican is merely seen as a practical way of enforcing this divine authority, it is not seen as the justification for immunity.

This attitude dates from a time when religion and the state where, in effect, different aspects of the same thing. The pope's title of "Summus Pontifex Ecclesiae Universalis" (supreme bridge builder of the universal church). Is derived from the title of the high priest of ancient Rome: "Pontifex Maximus" (greatest bridge builder), the bridge in question being that between the human and the divine.

Some, but not all, Roman emperors were also pontifex maximus indicating dual political and religious nature of the title. Another indication is that for a short time early in his career Iulius Caesar was pontifex maximus, a post which he sought for its political reasons. Although the pope's official title is the longer one, the shorter "pontifex maximus" is often seen on official inscriptions and the title is often used informally in personal letters etc.. Until comparatively recently the popes had a vast amount of political power which they exercised "by divine right".

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 23:16:30 UTC | #892684