Rorate Caeli

Bishop of Rome: a title of humility

The true Church is the Church of the true pope, of the true successor of Peter, and the true pope is, in divine law we mean, the legitimate bishop of Rome. Who thus sees with which specific title the true pope is Roman also sees with which specific title the true Church is Roman. Roman Church: this is not nevertheless her interior, comprehensive, and profound name, but her concrete, apparent, immediately comprehensible name; when the Christian communities of the Far East, removed from paganism by Francis Xavier and that had remained without priests for two hundred years, saw disembarking missionaries once again, they recognized them by asking them if they obeyed to the "white robe".

"Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God..." (Acts ii, 22). Jesus was undoubtedly more than that; yet, he was truly that, and if Peter bitterly cried for having denied this name of humility, it was for remembering that his Master had made himself a Nazarene only in order to live among us, that it was, deep down, one of the very sweet names of his love. Roman Church: it is, one can truthfully say, the name of service of the Divine Church, her name of humility, lent to a piece of land, because, in order to save the world, it was necessary for her to know all humiliations of time and space.

It is, at the same time, a miraculous name. It makes immediately known - not due to a simple metonymy, but due to a true elevation of the Roman episcopate to universal episcopate - where is located the spiritual power that Simon, son of John, received from Jesus near lake Tiberias, and that he himself laid down in the heart of the Christian community founded in pagan Rome, in Babylon (I Peter v, 13), so that from there it would unify all Christians in the universe.
Charles Journet
L'Église du Verbe Incarné

[Reposted]

20 comments:

Charles said...

I think it is wonderful that Francis emphasizes the name of the office which makes him Pope -- the Bishop of Rome. For centuries it was used as a derisive term, but it is at base the earthly unifying office, the rock upon which Christ's corporate body is built. It is Peter's office. Let us all pray for the Bishop of Rome, unceasingly.

Genty said...

Protestants still insist that the Pope is only Bishop of Rome. And it remains a term of opprobrium.

O Resistente said...

What if the Queen of England were styled merely as Duchess of Edimburgh? Everybody would know she was still the Queen but herself and everybody else would avoid refering to her as queen.

Wouldn't it be a sign of a true Christian virtue? Or would it be simply silly?

Erin Pascal said...

Wonderful article. It was a very good read. Pope Francis has already done a lot of good things and I hope that there are many more to come. Me and my family prays for him, always.

New Catholic said...

It's not at all comparable. She is the Queen, period. He is the Pope BECAUSE he is the Bishop of Rome. It is this title, the most simple and yet the most glorious, by which he becomes a new Peter, from which all the others flow.

James Kohn said...

awesome post! Thank you for this one NC!

Father G said...

The modernists have been trying to deconstruct the papacy "brick by brick" since the Vat.II. It still continues...God help us!

Bwangi Kilonzo said...

No one can destroy the Church. Not even the Pope.

Sancte Alphonsus said...

"My son, stop calling me daddy - call me Mr. Bofur."


Long-Skirts said...

New Catholic said...

"He is the Pope BECAUSE he is the Bishop of Rome. It is this title...by which he becomes a new Peter, from which all the others flow."

With all due respect, it's not just all about you, Holy Father, it's about the Office.

7fbc6254-eb65-11e2-85d7-000bcdcb471e said...


O Resistente said, "What if the Queen of England were styled merely as Duchess of Edimburgh? Everybody would know she was still the Queen but herself and everybody else would avoid refering to her as Queen. Wouldn't it be a sign of a true Christian virtue? Or would it be simply silly?"

Agreed it would be silly. Calling oneself the Bishop of Rome is fine but it minimizes the office to a specific locale. It does command, denote the fact the office of the Bishop of Rome is universal! Its context, continuity is lost when referring to the wider Church.

I understand how the Holy Father likes to the play the humility routine and publicaly pointing out disdain for this or that, in reality, IMO, isn't being humble at all because he doesn't have, or want to exercise, the humility to embrace the Papacy for what it is and all which comes it.

New Catholic said, It's not at all comparable. She is the Queen, period. He is the Pope BECAUSE he is the Bishop of Rome. It is this title, the most simple and yet the most glorious, by which he becomes a new Peter, from which all the others flow."

In this regard, not so. Our Blessed Lord made Peter Pope before Peter became the Bishop of Rome. Each successive Pope inherits the See of Rome by right. One becomes the Bishop of Rome by being Pope, not Pope by being Bishop of Rome first.

O Resistente said...

United Kingdom may have several dukes but only one king at a time. The Church may have several bishops but only one pope at a time.

Charles Journet offered us a lollypop. It's bright and sweet but nourishes none. The problem in the "Bishop of Rome" question has nothing to do with theology nor history. It's all about psycology.

As I'm sure you are aware, there's a deeper reason why H.H. Franciscus prefers to be known as "Bishop of Rome". Cardinal Maradiaga will make the point clearer in a few months.

I'll be praying for you mother.

JEFF KLUMP said...

Jeff said....

I have a different take on this.

I believe the term Bishop of Rome is being used to minimize the importance of The Papacy and its authority.

This is being done deliberately by Francis!

Luke Togni said...

While I do not take the prophecy of St. Malachy seriously, has it not struck anyone that Pope Francis might actually fit the "Peter the Rome" title? He has again and again asseted that he is Peter and the Bishop of Rome.

To the naysayers in the comebox. I, too, have been a somewhat disturbed by H.H. avoidance of calling himself the pope and other related titles. Nevertheless, I think Frances is presenting himself as what a bishop should be, that is to say, the Hierarch and Pastor of the souls of his diocese. Amid what so many of us would call a crisis in the hierarchy, of so many bureaucrats, is it not the right time to have the Servant of the Servants of God call for a renewal of the Episcopacy?

Deoacveritati said...

Jeff Klump, you said "

I believe the term Bishop of Rome is being used to minimize the importance of The Papacy and its authority.

This is being done deliberately by Francis!"

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind, that that is exactly what he is doing.

CH DUPUY said...

Seems that the Post VII Popes are ashamed of the office, begining with JXXIII, who said that from then on, the Church would not try to teach coersively or condemn anybody, but instead would convince with the Truth. His conviction was that the Truth would suffice to bring people to the Church; but what about heretics and heresies? They know the Truth, particularly if they are clerics, but do they acquiesce with the Truth?
Naively the Holy Father refused to anathemize anyone or condemn any doctrine. His succesors have followed suit.

JB said...



I have to agree that Roncalli was naive. "Today, men spontaneously reject such errors." And look at the course of events for the 40 years following that statement. A good man I have no doubt. Just not as intelligent as a Pacelli or some of his successors.

Brian Delaney said...

Anyone who was a Papal diplomat, as Pope John was ,for many years, cannot be said to be naive

boutflower said...

'Petrus Romanus' may not be 'Peter the Roman' as is commonly said but 'the Peter the Roman'. If my memory serves me there is no definite article in Latin. The one who wants to be only bishop (the Peter) of Rome - 'primus inter pares' - may well be the last Papa. After that will succeed him only bishops of Rome. Bound by a college - no more the Supreme Pastor, Legislator, Pontifex Maximus.
Viewing things from the side-lines as a simple Catholic priest in a state of bewilderment at the things that are now happening in the Vatican. My feeling is of a papacy eviscerated of its meaning. Just as the new theology and the new mass were introduced so finally we have the new papacy.
My old people are safe because they have the pre-conciliar inoculation. My young people cannot receive tradition because their minds and sensibilities have been so altered by 40 years of novelty. As a priest of 25 years my experience is that the new mass kills faith, the new theology of assembly etc. kills faith and the new papacy which consists of a travesty of bay kissing, lame jokes and cutting remarks which destroy the priesthood.
It is a tragic devastation - certainly in Europe where I live.
On a recent visit to Rome I noticed at night there was not a single light on in the Apostolic Palace at night - it was as though there was no Holy Father. I was greatly saddened.
My monarch wears all the regalia of her office and yet remains at heart a humble woman and we think the world of her. Why can't our Holy Father do the same?

Ale said...

Al igual que Jeff, creo que Francisco se hace llamar Obispo de Roma, para disminuir la autoridad del papado y darle más poder a las Conferencias Episcopales de cada país. Se niega también a firmar Franciscus P.P. Y evitar hablar del aborto, matrimonio gay, etc. alegando que eso lo deciden y defienden los Obispos en cada país.