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Reflections: Vatican View (Duties/Concerns)

Papal Tiara & Keys

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Vatican View Section:

Papal Duties / Concerns

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Papal Duties / Concerns



Papal Duties / Concerns

Also See: The Pope (Topic Page)

"The supreme pontiff ... is to lead mankind to eternal life in accordance with revaluation" (Dante, 14th century A.D.)

"[T]he supreme pontiff...should be the mirror and standard of all sanctity and purity" (Council of Basel)

"Can. 1518 The Roman Pontiff is the supreme administrator and dispenser of all ecclesiastical goods." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 504 The erection, alteration, or suppression of a cathedral chapter is reserved to the Apostolic See." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"He who wishes to discover something which does not belong to thy charge, will have to go outside the world" (St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor of the Church)

"Can. 220 Matters of greater importance that are reserved only to the Roman Pontiff either by their nature or by positive law are called 'great cases'." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1273 By virtue of his primacy of governance, the Roman Pontiff is the supreme administrator and steward of all ecclesiastical goods." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 431 §3 It is the exclusive prerogative of the supreme authority in the Church, after consulting the Bishops concerned, to establish, suppress or alter ecclesiastical provinces." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"We hold that the pope, as pope, although he does not have any purely temporal power, yet has in order for spiritual good supreme power to dispose of the temporal affairs of all Christians." (St. Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church)

"Other pastors each have their several flocks assigned to them; to [the pope] all the flocks have been entrusted, one flock under one shepherd. Do you ask for proof of that? It is the Lord's word." (St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor of the Church)

"Can. 1442 The Roman Pontiff is the supreme judge for the entire Catholic world; he renders judicial decisions either personally, or through the ordinary tribunals of the Apostolic See, or through judges whom he has delegated." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"The supreme pontiff for his part, as the common father and pastor of all, should have investigations made everywhere not only when requested to do so but also on his own initiative and he should apply salutary medicines, as best he can, for all the illnesses of his children." (Council of Basel)

"As more serious ills threaten the Catholic Church from the heinous contrivances of its enemies, the popes who have been placed in the See of St. Peter should be so much the quicker in taking action to repel them." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Quo Graviora", 1833)

"It is not so much custom as Our great love for you which impels Us to address you by at least this letter. We could have no sweeter nor so pleasant a task. The particular part of Our duty which is expressed in the words, 'strengthen your brethren,' also urges Us to do so." (Pope Pius VII, "Diu Satis", 1800 A.D.)

"Can. 1405 §1 It is solely the right of the Roman Pontiff himself to judge in the cases mentioned in can. 1401: 1° Heads of State; 2° Cardinals; 3° Legates of the Apostolic See and, in penal cases, Bishops 4° other cases which he has reserved to himself." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"No one can, however, without risk to faith, foster any doubt as to the Church alone having been invested with such power of governing souls as to exclude altogether the civil authority. In truth, it was not to Caesar but to Peter that Jesus Christ entrusted the keys of the kingdom of Heaven. From this doctrine touching the relations of politics and religion originate important consequences which we cannot pass over in silence." (Pope Leo XIII, "Sapientiae Christianae", 1890)

"Indeed the Holy See, whenever it inquires and wishes to be informed about what is being taught in various seminaries, colleges, universities, and institutions of higher learning, in those fields which pertain to its jurisdiction, is led by no other motive than the consciousness of Christ's mandate and the obligation by which She is bound before God to safeguard and preserve without corruption or adulteration sound doctrine. Moreover the exercise of this vigilance aims also at protecting and upholding your right and office of feeding with the genuine teaching of Christ and with His truth the flock entrusted to your pastoral care." (Pope Pius XII to the Cardinals, Archbishops & Bishops, "Si Diligis", 1954 A.D.)

"[Our] first safety is to guard the rule of the right faith and to deviate in no wise from the ordinances of the Fathers; because we cannot pass over the statement of our Lord Jesus Christ who said: 'Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church' ... [Matt. 16:18]. These [words] which were spoken, are proved by the effects of the deeds, because in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been preserved without stain. Desiring not to be separated from this hope and faith and following the ordinances of the Fathers, we anathematize all heresies" (Pope St. Hormisdas, 517 A.D.)

"Since all such opinions are openly opposed to the teachings of Our predecessors, Leo XIII and Pius X, they cannot be reconciled with the decrees of the [First] Vatican Council. Surely, it would be superfluous to deplore these wanderings from the truth, if all, even in philosophical matters, would accept with due reverence the magisterium of the Church, whose duty it surely is not only to guard and interpret the deposit of truth revealed by God, but also to watch over these philosophical disciplines, lest Catholic dogma suffer any harm from incorrect opinions." (Pope Pius XII, "Humani generis", August 12, 1950 A.D.)

"Can. 1569 § 1 Because of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff, it is fundamental to every member of the faithful throughout the Catholic world that they have the right of sending any case, criminal or contentious, in any level of trial and at any stage of the proceeding, to the Holy See for adjudication and of introducing it there. § 2 Recourse interposed to the Apostolic See, however, does not suspend the exercise of jurisdiction by the judge who has already begun to judge it, except in cases of appeal; therefore the [first] judge can continue to pursue the case even to definitive sentence unless the Apostolic See calls the case to itself." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Remember also that the government and administration of the whole Church rests with the Roman Pontiff to whom, in the words of the Fathers of the Council of Florence, 'the full power of nourishing, ruling, and governing the universal Church was given by Christ the Lord.' It is the duty of individual bishops to cling to the See of Peter faithfully, to guard the faith piously and religiously, and to feed their flock. It behooves priests to be subject to the bishops, whom 'they are to look upon as the parents of their souls,' as Jerome admonishes." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Mirari Vos", 1832)

"Can. 337 §1 The College of Bishops exercises its power over the universal Church in solemn manner in an Ecumenical Council. §2 It exercises this same power by the united action of the Bishops dispersed throughout the world, when this action is as such proclaimed or freely accepted by the Roman Pontiff, so that it becomes a truly collegial act. §3 It belongs to the Roman Pontiff to select and promote, according to the needs of the Church, ways in which the College of Bishops can exercise its office in respect of the universal Church in a collegial manner." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Now, faith, as a virtue, is a great boon of divine grace and goodness; nevertheless, the objects themselves to which faith is to be applied are scarcely known in any other way than through the hearing. 'How shall they believe Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? Faith then cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.' Since, then, faith is necessary for salvation, it follows that the word of Christ must be preached. The office, indeed, of preaching, that is, of teaching, lies by divine right in the province of the pastors, namely, of the bishops whom 'the Holy Spirit has placed to rule the Church of God.' It belongs, above all, to the Roman Pontiff, vicar of Jesus Christ, established as head of the universal Church, teacher of all that pertains to morals and faith." (Pope Leo XIII, "Sapientiae Christianae", 1890)

"But this likewise must be reckoned amongst the duties of Christians, that they allow themselves to be ruled and directed by the authority and leadership of bishops, and, above all, of the Apostolic See. And how fitting it is that this should be so any one can easily perceive. For the things contained in the divine oracles have reference to God in part, and in part to man, and to whatever is necessary for the attainment of his eternal salvation. Now, both these, that is to say, what we are bound to believe and what we are obliged to do, are laid down, as we have stated, by the Church using her divine right, and in the Church by the supreme Pontiff. Wherefore it belongs to the Pope to judge authoritatively what things the sacred oracles contain, as well as what doctrines are in harmony, and what in disagreement, with them; and also, for the same reason, to show forth what things are to be accepted as right, and what to be rejected as worthless; what it is necessary to do and what to avoid doing, in order to attain eternal salvation. For, otherwise, there would be no sure interpreter of the commands of God, nor would there be any safe guide showing man the way he should live." (Pope Leo XIII, "Sapientiae Christianae", 1890 A.D.)

"[A] new edition of the symbol becomes necessary in order to set aside the errors that may arise. Consequently to publish a new edition of the symbol belongs to that authority which is empowered to decide matters of faith finally, so that they may be held by all with unshaken faith. Now this belongs to the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff, 'to whom the more important and more difficult questions that arise in the Church are referred,' as stated in the Decretals (distinction 17, canon 5). Hence our Lord said to Peter whom he made Sovereign Pontiff (Luke 22:32): 'I have prayed for thee,' Peter, 'that thy faith fail not, and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren.' The reason of this is that there should be but one faith of the whole Church, according to 1 Corinthians 1:10: 'That you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you': and this could not be secured unless any question of faith that may arise be decided by him who presides over the whole Church, so that the whole Church may hold firmly to his decision. Consequently it belongs to the sole authority of the Sovereign Pontiff to publish a new edition of the symbol, as do all other matters which concern the whole Church, such as to convoke a general council and so forth." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and 'greatest theologian in the history of the Church')

"[The pope] should also instruct the people of Rome, which is his own parish, and direct them in the way of salvation. He should bid the cardinals to visit and reform their titular churches and parishes as befits their office. He should appoint some prelate of great learning and of proven and exemplary life as his vicar in the city, to take his place in the episcopal care of the clergy and people, and he should often inquire about whether he is fulfilling his task. Next, let him reflect carefully with the same brethren on the good and wholesome administration of the temporalities of the Roman church and let him ensure that the provinces, cities, towns, castles and lands subject to the Roman church are justly and peacefully ruled with such moderation that the difference between government by ecclesiastics and by secular princes is like that between a father and a master. He should not aim at gain, but cherishing all with paternal charity he should esteem them not as subjects but as sons and daughters. Since he has charge of their spiritual and temporal well-being, he must watch to get rid of all factions and seditious groups...which breed destruction to both souls and bodies. He must strive, employing spiritual and temporal penalties of all possible kinds, to remove all causes of dissension and to keep people united for the defense of the church." (Council of Basel)

"The supreme pontiff calls himself the servant of the servants of God; let him prove it in deeds. As long as people from all parts have recourse to him as to a common father, he should give them all easy access. Let him set aside at least one day in the week for a public audience, when he shall listen with patience and kindness to all, especially the poor and oppressed, and shall grant their prayers as much as he can with God's help, and shall assist all with kind advice and help as each one has need and as a father does for his children. If he is prevented by some bodily need, he shall entrust this task to some cardinal or other noteworthy person who will report everything to him, and he shall order all officials of the curia, especially the vice-chancellor, the penitentiary and the chamberlain, to expedite business for the poor with speed and free of charge, bearing in mind the apostolic charity of Peter and Paul, who pledged themselves to remember the poor . He should attend a public mass on Sundays and feast-days, and after it for a while he should give audience to the needy. He should hold a public consistory each week, or at least twice a month, to treat of the business of cathedral churches, monasteries, princes and universities and other important affairs. But he should refer lawsuits and lesser matters to the vice-chancellor. He should keep himself free of lawsuits and lesser business as far as he can, so as to be freer to attend to major issues. Since the cardinals of the holy Roman church are considered to be part of the body of the Roman pontiff, it is extremely expedient for the common good that, following ancient custom, serious and difficult questions should hereafter be settled on their advice and direction after mature deliberation, especially the following: decisions on matters of faith; canonizations of saints, erections, suppressions, divisions, subjections or unions of cathedral churches and monasteries; promotions of cardinals; confirmations and provisions relating to cathedral churches and monasteries; deprivations and translations of abbots, bishops and superiors; laws and constitutions; legations a latere or commissions or envoys and nuncios functioning with the authority of legates a latere; foundations of new religious orders; new exemptions for churches, monasteries and chapels, or the revocation of those already granted without prejudice to the decree of the holy council of Constance about not transferring prelates against their will." (Council of Basel)

Also See: Papal Primacy / Supremacy | Papal Solicitude | Popes as Preservers of Tradition / Against New Doctrines | Preservation of Truth / Unity | Vatican Facts

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