DDING 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."1 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."2 He pointed out that some of the popes had opposed other popes. Special r mention was made of how Pope Stephen VI (896-897) brought former Pope For-mosus (891-896) to trial.
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.3
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 III (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. 'A Such sharp disagreement between popes certainly argues against the idea of papal infallibility.
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 infallibility here?
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 made!
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 this title.
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 Arc 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 who wore the gown of a peasant. The immorality of many of the 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), 1 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: STUR. In this language, S was 60, T was 400, U was 6, and R was 200, a total of 666.
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, eqttals 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, C, L, X, V, and I. (All other numbers were made up of combinations of these?) It is interesting and perhaps significant that the six letters which make up the Roman numeral system when added together total exactly 666.
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 corrupters 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 1000. But as E. W. Bullinger points out in his book Numbers in Scripture (p. 284), originally 1000 was written as CI with another C turned around, that is CO . This was later simplified into Of) and finally as M.
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