We hold upon this earth
We hold upon this earth... QUESTION from Gerard on June 14, 2003
Dear Bro Ignatius and Friends,
We hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty.
Please clarify if I got this right. Anti-Catholics love this quote from Praeclara Gratulationis Publicae of Pope Leo XIII to prove that the Holy Father is the Anti-Christ. Amazing.
However I did notice that in the full translation, first-person plural pronouns such as We and Us are capitalized, which seems to indicate that they refer to the Church (it does appear to be common practice to capitalize pronouns that refer to the Church). Does the correct context of this quote actually mean that We in the quote actually refers to the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ rather than the Holy Father(s) themselves?
ANSWER by Staff on June 17, 2003
This is just another case of anti-Catholics choosing not to understand, or maybe not having the intelligence to understand.
We, in America, have a very hard time understanding some of these issues, which fuels the anti-Catholicism, because our culture was born and continues to exist as an anti-royal culture.
Thus genuflecting when meeting the Pope or your bishop, for example, is such a foreign concept from Americans that they assume that this is a form of worship that should be given to no man. It is not a worship of a man, but trying to convince a person steeped in a culture that is antithetical to such gestures is like trying to explain quantum physics in the Chinese Language to a person who does not know a lick of Chinese.
The Church was born and matured in cultures that had the tradition of masters and kings. This is what the cultures of the world historically know and have experienced. The non-royal cultures of places like the United States are brand spanking new and a novelty on history's shore. Yet we arrogantly think that our baby culture must be the only culture. This is one of many reasons the United States is not liked by many other peoples around the world. And it is also one of the primary reasons why anti-Catholicism is so prevalent in the this country.
All this is despite the FACT that the Bible constantly uses this royal imagery. Jesus is KING, and his has a KINGDOM, and God has a PRIME MINISTER who represents Him on this planet -- Adam was the first Papal authority, then Noah, then Abraham, them Moses, and finally Peter. The magisterial economy has always been in God's plan since the Garden of Eden; it is not a Catholic invention.
Thus, if man has kings and masters that we pay homage to, how much more should be pay homage to THE King and Master of the Universe? This is the context by which these ideas and gestures are founded. This background, briefly described here, must be understood if we are to understand not only the way the Catholic Church does things, but even if we are to properly interpret the Bible.
Now, with this as a background, the phrase We hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty is a true statement. Notice it DOES NOT say that we are God or that we are equal to God, which is how many anti-Catholics interpret it (and who must not know basic grammar). It says that we hold the place of God on earth. We do.
The ambassador of the United States to France holds the place of the President in France. To hold the place of means one is a representative of. We are all ambassadors of Christ on this planet and thus we all hold the place of God on this earth.
The Pope, however, holds a special place on this earth. He is the Prime Minister of the King. A Prime Minister holds the place of the King. This is what a Prime Minister does.
Jesus made Peter the Prime Minister of the Church which is proven by Jesus quoting Isaiah 22:21-23 about the keys to the kingdom and binding and loosing. In Isaiah we have the succession of office of Prime Minister. The power of the Prime Minister is to hold the place of the king in his stead. As such the prime minister holds the keys of the kingdom and whatever he locks will be locked and whatever he opens shall be opened. The Prime Minister, according to Isaiah is also the FATHER to the nation. Thus the word pope is actually in the Bible. Pope is an English transliteration of the Italian, Papa. If we read from an Italian language Bible the word will read, and he shall be a papa to the nation. This papa is not just any father, but a father-leader. He is Pope.
Thus, the Pope, as Prime Minister of the King does in fact hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty as God's representative to the people of earth.
This is really not hard to understand when explained if one has ears to hear.
The use of the We is the royal We. The royal we was first used by King Richard the Lion-Hearted. It is similar to the editorial we in that it refers to the collective or to the office, and not to the person.
When a Pope says we he is emphasizing that he is acting in the stead of the King as Prime Minister and universal pastor and not as a mere person in himself.
Although people rarely notice it because it is more subtlety spoken, even the President of the United States uses the royal we. We of the United States declare such and such. WE? When was I involved in this decision? The we of the United States mean me as President acting on your behalf made this decision whether you like it or not. :) But even then, it is the person in the place of the President, not the person alone by himself. It is only by virtue of the Office that he has the power of we.
The same is for the Pope.
An annotated version of the quote: We hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty could be:
We (who hold this office of Prime Minister of the King and who are His ambassadors) hold upon this earth (hold the Office of Prime Minister that God has so appointed) the place of God Almighty (the delegated authority to act as the Lord God King's Prime Minister in His stead on this earth to speak for the King and to govern and pastor the King's subjects until His Coming in the End days).
When Jesus returns there will be no need for a Prime Minister as the King will have arrived to personally govern His people. But until Jesus' return, a Prime Minister is needed, as was always needed to represent God and to be His voice on this planet to ensure that the Faith is not corrupted and that His Church shall be secure.
Now, do not expect the anti-Catholic to understand any of this or to accept it. They have a vested interest in hating the Catholic Church and God forbid they might get confused with the facts and have to become Catholic. :)
God Bless,Bro. Ignatius Mary