SPIRITUAL DARKNESS OF THE MIDDLE AGES #10
Are Poves INFALLIBLE?
by Ralph Woodrow
ADDING TO THE many contradictions with which the Romish
system was already plagued, there were Popes, like the god Janus
of olden times, who began to claim they were "infallible." People
naturally questioned how infallibility could be linked with the
Papal office when some of the Popes had been very poor examples
in morals and integrity. And if the infallibility be applied only
to doctrines pronounced by the Popes, how was it that some Popes
had disagreed with other Popes? Even a number of the Popes
including Virilinus, Innocent III, Clement IV, Gregory XI,
Hadrian VI, and Paul IV - had rejected the doctrine of Papal
infallibility! Just how could all of this be explained in an
acceptable manner and formulated into a dogma? Such was the task
of the Vatican Council of 1870. The Council sought to narrow the
meaning of infallibility down to a workable definition, applying
such only to Papal pronouncements made "ex cathedra." The wording
finally adopted was this: "The Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex
cathedra - that is, when in the exercise of his office as pastor
and teacher of all Christians he defines ... a doctrine of faith
or morals to be held by the whole Church - is, by reason of the
Divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, possessed of
that infallibility ... and consequently such definitions of the
Roman Pontiff are irreformable." All of the problems were not
solved by this wording, nevertheless Papal infallibility became
an official dogma of the Roman Catholic Church at the Vatican
Council of 1870.
Knowing the history of the Popes, several Catholic bishops
opposed making Papal infallibility a dogma at the council. One of
these, Bishop Joseph Strossmayer (1815-1905), is described in
"The Catholic Encyclopedia" as "one of the most notable opponents
of Papal infallibility." He pointed out that some of the Popes
had opposed other Popes. Special mention was made of how Pope
Stephen VI (896-897) brought former Pope Formosus (891-896) to
The famous story of one Pope bringing another to trial is
one of sheer horror, for Pope Formosus had been dead for eight
months! Nevertheless, the body was brought from the tomb and
placed on a throne. There before a group of bishops and cardinals
was the former Pope, dressed in the rich apparel of the Papacy, a
crown upon his loose scalp, and the scepter of the holy office in
the stiff fingers of his rotting hand!
As the trial got underway, the stench of the dead body
filled the assembly hall. Pope Stephen stepped forward and did
the questioning. Of course no answers were given to the charges
by the dead man; so he was proven guilty as charged! With this,
the bright robes were ripped from his body, the crown from his
skull, the fingers used in bestowing the Pontifical blessing were
hacked off and his body was thrown into the street. Behind a
cart, the body was dragged through the streets of Rome and
finally cast into the Tiber.
Thus one Pope condemned another. Then a short time later,
The Catholic Encyclopedia points out, "the second successor of
Stephen had the body of Formosus, which a monk had drawn from the
Tiber, reinterred with full honors in St.Peter's. He furthermore
annulled at a synod the decisions of the court of Stephen VI, and
declared all orders conferred by Formosus valid. John IX
confirmed these acts at two synods ... On the other hand Sergius
111 (904-911) approved in a Roman synod the desicions of
Stephen's synod against Formosus ... Sergius and his party meted
out severe treatment to the bishops consecrated by Formosus, who
in turn had meanwhile conferred orders on many other clerics, a
policy which gave rise to the greatest confusion." Such sharp
disagreement between Popes certainly argues against the idea of
Pope Honorius I, after his death, was denounced as a heretic
by the Sixth Council held in the year 680. Pope Leo II
confirmed his condemnation. If Popes are infallible, how could
one condemn another?
Pope Vigilius, after condemning certain books, removed his
condemnation, afterward condemned them again and then retracted
his condemnation, then condemned them again! Where is
Dueling was authorized by Pope Eugene III (1145-53). Later
Pope Julius II (1503-13) and Pope Pius IV (1559-65) forbade it.
At one time in the eleventh century, there were three rival
Popes, all of which were disposed by the council convened by the
Emperor Henry III. Later in the same century Clement III was
opposed by Victor III and afterwards by Urban II. How could Popes
be infallible when they opposed each other?
What is known as the "great schism" came in 1378 and lasted
for fifty years. Italians elected Urban VI and the French
cardinals chose Clement VII. Popes cursed each other year after
year, until a council disposed both and elected another!
Pope Sixtus V had a version of the Bible prepared which he
declared to be authentic. Two years later Pope Clement VIII
declared that it was full of errors and ordered another to be
Pope Gregory I repudiated the title of "Universal Bishop" as
being "profane, superstitious, haughty, and invented by the first
apostate." Yet, through the centuries, other Popes have claimed
Pope Hadrian II (867-872) declared civil marriages to be
valid, but Pope Pius VII (1800-23) condemned them as invalid.
Pope Eugene IV (1431-47) condemned Joan of Are to be burned
alive as a witch. Later, another Pope, Benedict IV, in 1919,
declared her to be a "saint."
When we consider the hundreds of times and ways that Popes
have contradicted each other over the centuries, we can
understand how the idea of Papal infallibility is difficult for
many people to accept. While it is true that most Papal
statements are not made within the narrow limits of the 1870 "ex
cathedra" definition, yet if Popes have erred in so many other
ways, how can we believe they are guaranteed a divine
infallibility for a few moments if and when they should indeed
decide to speak ex cathedra?
Popes have taken to themselves such titles as "Most Holy
Lord", "Chief of the Church in the World", "Sovereign Pontiff of
Bishops", "High Priest", "the Mouth of Jesus Christ", "Vicar of
Christ", and others. Said Pope Leo XIII on June 20, 1894, "We
hold upon the earth the place of God Almighty." During the
Vatican Council of 1870, on January 9, it was proclaimed: "The
Pope is Christ in office, Christ in jurisdiction and power ... we
bow down before thy voice, O Pius, as before the voice of Christ,
the God of truth; in clinging to thee, we cling to Christ. "
But the historical sketch that we have given plainly shows
that the Pope is NOT "Christ in office" or in any other way. The
contrast is apparent. The very expensive crowns worn by the Popes
have cost millions of dollars. Jesus, during his earthly life,
wore no crown except the crown of thorns. The Pope is waited on
by servants. What a contrast to the lowly Nazarene who came not
to be ministered to, but to minister! The Popes dress in garments
that are very elaborate and costly - patterned after those of the
Roman emperors of pagan days. Such vanity is contrasted to our
Savior - Popes - especially in past centuries--stands in striking
contrast to the Christ who is perfect in holiness and purity.
In view of these things, we believe the claim that the Pope
is the "Vicar of Christ" is without any basis in fact. As early
as the year 1612 it was pointed out, as Andreas Helwig did in his
book "Roman Antichrist," that the title "Vicar of Christ" has a
numerical value of 666. Written as "Vicar of the Son of God" in
Latin, Vicarivs Filii Dei, the letters with numerical value are
these: i equals 1 (used six times), l equals 50, v equals 5, c
equals 100, and D equals 500. When these are all counted up, the
total is 666. This number reminds us, of course, of Revelation
13:18, "Let him that hath understanding count the number of the
beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six
hundred threescore and six."
It should be pointed out in all fairness, however, that
numerous names and titles, depending on how they are written or
which language is used, can produce this number. The examples
given here will be of special interest because they are linked
with Rome and with Roman Catholicism.
According to Hislop, the original name of Rome was Saturnia,
meaning "the city of Saturn." Saturn was the secret name revealed
only to the initiates of the Chaldean mysteries, which - in
Chaldee - was spelled with four letters: S T U R. In this
language, S was 60, T was 400, U was 6, and R was 200, a total of
Nero Caesar was one of the greatest persecutors of
Christians and emperor of Rome at the height of its power. His
name, when written in Hebrew letters, equals 666.
The Greek letters of the word "Lateinos" (Latin), the
historical language of Rome in all its official acts, amount to
666. In Greek, L is 30, a is 1, t is 300, e is 5, i is 10, n is
50, o is 70, and s is 200, a total of 666. This was pointed out
by Irenaeus as early as the third century. This same word also
means "Latin man" and is but the Greek form of the name Romulus,
from which the city of Rome is named. This name in Hebrew,
Romiith, also totals 666.
Unlike the Greeks and Hebrews, the Romans did not use all
letters of their alphabet for numbers. They used only six
letters: D,(500) C,(100) L,(50) X,(10) V,(5) and I,(1). (All
other numbers were made up of combinations of these *). It is
interesting and perhaps significant that the six letters which
make up theRoman numeral system when added together total exactly
Turning to the Bible itself, in the Old Testament, we read
that king Solomon each year received 666 talents of gold (1 Kings
10:14). This wealth played an important part in leading him
astray. In the New Testament, the letters of the Greek word
"euporia," from which the word WEALTH is translated, total 666.
Out of all the 2,000 Greek nouns of the New Testament, there
is only one other word that has this numerical value, the word
"paradosis," translated TRADITION (Acts 19:25; Matt. 15:2).
Wealth and tradition - interestingly enough - were the two
great corruptors of the Roman Church. Wealth corrupted in
practice and honesty; tradition corrupted in doctrine.
* The "M" has now come to be used also as a Roman numeral
representing 3000. But as E.W.Bullinger points out in his book
"Numbers in Scripture" (p.284), originally 3000 was written as CI
with another C turned around, that is CI(then reverse C). This
was later simplified into (looks like a heart) and finally as M.
To be continued with "The Inhuman Inquisition"