Good Old German Bishops: Pope Not Absolute Monarch

After Vatican I, Bismarck took opportunity to complain about the Church, only he falsified her teachings. He complained that she arrogated to the Pope the power of an absolute and unfettered sovereign.

The German Bishops – good old German Bishops – responded with a correct reading of Vatican I. The Council never taught an absolute power for the pope. Supreme, but not absolute, power. I cite the choicest section of the document:

“The decisions of the Vatican Council [Vatican I] offer no basis for the assertion that the pope, because of them, has become an absolute master and, indeed, because of his infallibility, ‘enjoys absolute authority, more than any absolute monarch in the world.’ First of all, the area covered by the ecclesiastical authority of the pope is essentially different from that over which the earthly power of a sovereign monarch extends, and Catholics do not challenge in any way the sovereignty of kings and princes over civil matters. But prescinding from that, the application of the term ‘absolute monarch’ tot he pope in reference to ecclesiastical affairs is not correct because he is subject to divine laws and is bound by the directives given by Christ for his Church. The pope cannot change the constitution given to the Church by her divine Founder, as an earthly ruler can change the constitution of a State. In all essential points the constitution of the Church is based on divine directives and is therefore not subject to human arbitrariness.” (DSF 3115).

Pope Pius IX publicly lauded the document and stated that it is the correct interpretation of Vatican I. The pope is bound by Revelation and by the essential foundation of the Church, and by every last infallible decree ever uttered – in its entirety, and with the same meaning and judgment as that with which it was originally taught.