Are We in the Age of the “Pontifex Maximus” (Greatest Pope)? – Guest Post by newtz

Pope Francis’s historic election represents a paradox for the Roman Catholic Church.

On the one hand, Jesuits are bound by oath not to seek higher office in the Roman Catholic Church, and now one of them has been elected to its highest office: Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Christ, ……

Again, on the one hand Jesuits aren’t supposed to be in positions of authority, and yet on the other hand, they’re supposed to be obedient to the church …….. !. Jesuits often work on the margins of the church, at times overstepping boundaries set by Rome, frequently challenging Vatican authority …. and yet the conclave of ultra conservative Cardinals elect a Jesuit …………. !

During their existence, Jesuits have oft been accused of wielding too much influence, a concern that led Pope Clement XIV to suppress their order in the 1700s before restoration by Pope Pius VII in 1814.

Through the centuries that there have been significant issues between the Vatican and the Jesuit society, even their own schisms. The Jesuits’ founder Ignatius and the early Jesuits recognised that the Church was in dire need of reform. Some of their greatest struggles were against corruption, venality/cronyism, and spiritual apathy …..

Brogan Rogan’s Brief History of the Jesuits is a superb and concise account.

The Church of Rome has recognised for some time now the perilous position it was in with increasing controversy over ‘alleged’ endemic corruption, cronyism …. and worse !

I believe that she (the church) recognised the necessity for change, but significantly that this change could not happen directly from within the traditional hierarchy …..

An example of this was aired on Friday evening at 11:00pm on Radio 5 Live …. An interview with Cardinal Napier of South Africa ……. Words fail me …… I have no doubt that it will be discussed here in great detail ….. and presents Pope Francis I with his first crisis ……

Significant and historic change is required …. and the church recognises that such change could not be deferred for very much longer …… and as such has been laying the foundations for change for quite some time now ………

But the election of a Jesuit by such ultra conservative Cardinals is too significant to have occurred without a great healing within the church, and there are two intriguing fairly recent events which may explain this ……

In 1981 …..

The Superior General of the Jesuits is informally known as “the Black Pope” because of the power the position has held in the past, but in the early 1980s, when the Jesuit Superior General was sidelined by a stroke, Pope John Paul II stepped in with his own appointee, rather than allow the Jesuits to elect their own leader and met with wide disillusionment by the Jesuit order at the time. The Pope referred to that moment as “an important phase of its history. …….

And then in 2008 ……

Pope Benedict XVI received members of the Jesuit General Congregation. They later responded with a formal declaration titled “With New Fervor and Dynamism, the Society of Jesus Responds to the Call of Benedict XVI”, whereby they confirmed the Society’s fidelity to the Pope. …………

The healing was complete, and their eventual succession of the Papacy was ultimately sealed …..

Normally, if a Jesuit is appointed a bishop, he must first seek permission from his Jesuit superior before he can accept the job. In this case it is Fr. Adolfo Nicolás who is the current Superior General, elected in 2008. But it was the Directive delivered to the Vatican only one month after his election that laid the path for the eventual succession to the papacy of a Jesuit. …… the path to great change …….

And now we have our first Jesuit Pope, and the first thing he does is choose the name Francis; someone who is associated with not only poverty and simplicity, but also humility. The second thing he does, is he comes out not dressed in the full papal regalia but in the simple white cassock. If you notice he took off his stole after he blessed the crowd, only putting on the symbol of priestly authority when he did the blessing. And he started off the talk by bowing to the crowd and asking for their blessing.


You may also have noticed the absence of the adornment of the usual Gold Papal Cross, instead choosing to wear a simple Cross. No Papal Limo’s, choosing instead to don the same bus as returning Cardinals ….. The tone is already one of humility, simplicity of gentleness. …. of greatness ?

Francis minibus

The Jesuit vow against “ambitioning prelacies” or in layman’s terms church governance by clerics of high social rank and power, is an important established Jesuit principle that signals the intent of the Roman Catholic Church with the election of Pope Francis I.

……. are we witnessing the era of Pontifex Maximus. (Latin, literally: “greatest pontiff”)

I believe we are witnessing history in the making ……..

Posted by newtz



Filed under Catholic Church, Guest Posts

12 responses to “Are We in the Age of the “Pontifex Maximus” (Greatest Pope)? – Guest Post by newtz

  1. Monti

    Great week all round really Paul, The conclave delivering to the faithful,our new Glorious Pope Francis I. Followed by Celtic moving 15 points clear at the top of the Spl,on our way to our 43rd ( Tax paying & proper registration of players,creditors paid in full) championship. 125 years of unbroken history,led by a proud Irish Catholic,Neil Lennon. God bless our Pope,our people & our church! WE ARE THE PAPAL!!

  2. Monti


  3. Pope Francis has made a great start and already enthralled millions with his demeanour. His focus on a poor church for the poor people should be the slogan above the entrance door to every Catholic Church across the world. My first impression is that he has handed the Church back to the people, handed it back to Christ Jesus.

    Time will tell whether he will be the greatest Pope but it has been a long time since I felt so energized being an RC. Everywhere across the world he has caught the imagination of the people.

    Humility is the key to the door of holiness and the key to understanding the teachings of Christ Jesus. Too many of the hierarchy of the Church, and other faiths as well, have enjoyed the trappings of the position and the worship they receive from the flock. Too many have forgotten that they are there to serve the flock, not the other way around.

    My prayers are with him and I’ve no doubt his prayers are with me and encouraging me to participate in the changes that he will bring.

    I pray that we have more understanding of each others faith, that we remember that following Celtic or Rangers is not a replacement for following Christ Jesus. I pray that the hatred that is expressed in too many views in the comments section in Paul’s blog is replaced with understanding, life is too short for hatred.

    I thank Paul for having the courage to write blogs of this type and allow guest posts to express their views, it shows that his blog is much more than just football. His blog is about justice and fairness, a matter which we were taught about early in our lives when we attended RC schools. For that I am thankful. My own children attended non-faith schools in Aberdeenshire, they learned their faith from Mum and Dad and learned how to be respectful of others’ faith, remembering we are all ‘Jock Tamson’s Bairns’.

    I have great hopes for Pope Francis as I believe that he will reach out to all, RC or non-RC. My God, the world desperately needs some guidance and change.

    • Monti

      Exquisitely put sir,helping each other through our lives is the answer to a lot of things….good luck to St.Mirren today,would love to see Paul Mcgowan with a last minute winner.

      • ” happy st Patrick’s day , Erin go bragh , oh it’s good to be a Roman catholic ” …… so you associate Ireland and the Irish as only with one religion ? Are there no Jewish , Muslim , Buddhist , Presbyterian Irish ? Your playing a blinder montit.

  4. Tecumseh

    Waffle and Piffle……

    If the new Pope consecrates Russia as requested by Our Lady at Fatima….well he certainly will go down in history.

    If he takes his lead from the Waffle and Piffle brigade then say Ta Ta to your so called Catholic faith, Scotland and Ireland.

    The church in Scotland is gubbed….by it’s crony old boys net work of failed priests who wouldn’t recognize a Catholic Massif you slapped them about the head with an altar sized Roman Missal.

    These plebs are the ones who have brought ruin on the church, they fell over themselves to protestantise the mass…….and now look where we are

    Waffle and Piffle

    here is what the Pope should do….

    1 consecrate Russia.

    2 with immediate effect ban under pain of excommunication any Bishop who says the Novus Ordo mass on the first Sunday after Easter or any other day after that.

    3 excommunicate any priest who says the Novus Ordo after the First Sunday after Easter 2014

    4 Reduce the Diocese in failed Catholic churches eg Scotland by at least half

    5 Close 90% of the Churches in Ireland…..the traiters dont deserve churches having bought wholesale the child abuse lies…..according to Irish Government official figures from the Ryan Report there were 381 cases of child sex abuse from 1914 – 1999…..some of which were committed by by lay men / women / other inmates of schools etc othr than priests or religious.
    Between the years 2000 – 2010 ……196 young people died in Ireland who were in the care of social services or were in some way in contact by social services….I’m not denying the scale of abuse or the fact that these horrors happened on the church’s watch……..what I am saying is that the social services have a much worse record than the Catholic institutions

    But the Waffle and Piffle merchants aren’t up to defending the Church


    • Jamie

      Of the 196 kids in LA care, how many were abused by their social workers? …Social Services are constantly overworked and under staffed, blame your LA or the Government for that stat. Waffle & Piffle indeed!

    • bfb

      Absolutely nuts to put it as peacefully and fraternally as I can. According to my (protestant) theologian friend there is some thought among psychologists that those who want to revert to some mythical golden age, sometimes one which they think existed before they were born, are expressing a desire to return to the womb where they were safe and warm.

      All around the world the ordinary form of the mass is celebrated and cherished by the faithful. Remember the purpose of the sacrifice of the mass. The consecration is the consecration.

      The extraordinary rite is available for reasons I have little sympathy for but so be it.

      Those who blame the history of the last fifty years on Vatican II are confusing subsequence with consequence ignoring the whole tide of secularism from the 1960’s onward. I believe that if Good Pope John had not called Vatican II the Church might have become a kind of inward looking isolated sect unable to deal with the modern world.

      Read the documents as suggested to us for the year of Faith.

      Your comments about the Irish situation are contemptible. Yes things happened elsewhere and maybe more regularly but that misses the point completely. One case in the Church is too many for a huge number of reasons.

      I will pray for you and that my own anger over what you say will subside

  5. Jim Harkins

    I can’t disagree with the hopes expressed by newtz, but 3 points:
    1. why “alleged” ‘endemic corruption, cronyism…’; it is there every day in the Italian newspapers – IOR, C&L, the property owned in Rome by religious orders. (I interpret Pope Francesco’s emphasis, in his first public appearances, on his title of Bishop of Rome as a warning to these parties.)
    2. If the Jesuits were suppressed from the 1700s to the 18oos, why did they carry the can for the Gunpowder Plot?
    3. Pontifex maximus surely does not translate as “greatest pontiff”. There must be a Latin teacher out there.

    • @Jim
      Not sure of the point you are making in point 2 though as the two are not connected …. as far as i am aware !

      On point 1 though, I deliberately used ‘alleged’, because although i am fully aware of the allegations being made and reported widely, as yet i have not seen the actual evidence myself. If you read my follow up post titled … There is darnel ! ….. in the next post by Paul, you will see that I refer heavily to the investigation into these affairs by the three Cardinals (named).
      As this report (referred to as the ‘Relationem’ in my post), has not been seen or reported (and nor will it !), then i can only use the ‘alleged’ wording ….. !. I accept that there have been leaks on certain aspects, but again one needs to be careful when posting ……. don’t want an early morning knock on the door like Leggo …… LOL

      p.s. if you have not read my post i refer to, then i recommend it ….. though it has not gone down well with some ….. hey, just reporting what i find !

      On pont 3 – interesting that one ….. for the purpose of the post i will stick to the interpretation I have used ….. It is verifiable. However, there are other interpretation’s ……. and different interpretations through the ages …..

      My particular choice (other than it suits my point) is that interestingly there were early references to other pontiffs at Rome who were distinguished by the epithet minores ….. or Pontiff Minores ….. the actual meaning I believe has been lost in time …. anyway i’m starting to ramble ……. how about Bridge Builder …. (mentioned also) …. referring to building the Pons Sublicius (of Pontiff), and afterwards frequently restoring on each side of the Tiber …… what do I know !!!! ….. I guess at the end of the day, the writer chooses his own terminology …. with at least some consideration …
      Hope that helps

      • Jim Harkins

        Thank you ,newtz, for the reply; my comments were a product of my age and the infamous ‘a little learning…’!
        I live in Italy and see enough on a daily basis to be able to drop the “alleged”; besides, Civil Law in Italy is running about six years in arrears and I need not fear a knock on the door.
        My other comments referred to, for example, Campion, Parsons, Garnet who were active in England from 1580, confessed the plotters, were tortured and some executed. I read BRTH,s history afterwards and it appears that the suppression was not universally effected.
        On “pontifex maximus” I was bluffing, but I believe that, originally, the title was part of the ‘regalia’ of the Emperor of the Romans (and meant ‘Chief Royal Engineer’ to use a modern equivalent) and simple adopted by an early pope as ‘catchy’. But I may have made that up.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s