CHRISTIANITY vs. CATHOLICISM
Note: Information is taken, in part, from two books, Decline and Fall of the Roman Church, authored by Malachi Martin (Putnam’s Sons) and Bless Me Father, co-authored by Quentin Donahue and Linda Shapiro (John Deyell Company).
The pope is the head of the Catholic Church. Seated in the Vatican, a small city-nation within the city of Rome, this “Vicar of Christ on earth” rules almost a billion adherents and impacts the destinies of most nations. He is considered to be infallible in all his teachings on church doctrine and morals. He rules through a network of cardinals and bishops and priests, reaching every Catholic parishioner in the world with his power to forgive sins and his Catholic brand of salvation.
The Catholic Church (herein called the CC) teaches the lineage of popes goes back to the time of Christ. Peter was the first pope, Clement the second and the present pope, Benedict XVI.
Some became pope because of their religious fidelity. Others were simply appointed by king or emperor, or conquered the papal position by armed force, murder, political finesse, treachery, and bribery. The following information regarding some notable characters in the history of the CC comes from the writings of a Catholic Jesuit priest who was, at the time of his writing; a recognized and respected Catholic theologian (this information is harmonious to other Catholic writers):
POPE STEPHEN IV
Pope Stephen IV reigned from the years 768 through 772. Less than five feet in stature, Stephen was an exceptionally cruel and cunning man, a survivor. Fearing for his life he slipped away from Pope Constantine who had seized the papal throne by armed force even before the dying Pope Paul I ceased his breathing. (Pope Paul I had done much the same thing to his predecessor.) Stephen returned with armed forces of his own to conquer the pontiff’s seat and Constantine became his prisoner.
After Pope Stephen IV had Constantine severely beaten, his kneecaps broken and his eyes cut out, he was far from finished. Constantine, in heavy chains, was dumped unceremoniously before Stephen and a synod of 150 cardinals, bishops, etc. who had gathered to do the CC’s business at hand. Constantine begged for mercy but of such Pope Stephen IV had none to dispense. After a period of questioning, the answers not being satisfactory, a number of the synod fell upon the helpless ex-pontiff, kicking, shouting, spitting, beating. Unconscious, Constantine was dragged off to prison to serve a lifetime sentence.
During these confusing days a priest, Waldipert, under orders of the reigning Duke, declared a monk, Philip, to be pope. Understandably, Pope Stephen IV didn’t like that. Waldipert lost his eyes, and orders were given by the synod of 150 that a piece of his flesh be cut out every day until he died. And Philip was to be flogged and imprisoned until death. Over the years Pope Stephen IV executed other potential threats to his power (after having their eyes removed).