St Catherine of Siena and the Roman Pontiff

From Anne Baldwin’s Catherine of Siena: A Biography
Huntington, IN: OSV Publishing, 1987, pp.95-6
books.google.co.uk/books?id=hdLRriNu7mkC

Catherine set high standards – for herself, for her friends, for priests and prelates, and especially for the Holy Father. Again and again she urged the popes, first Gregory XI and later Urban VI, to act like Christ: manly, forgiving, honest, loving. Even if a pope did not act like “sweet Christ on earth,” Catherine believed that the faithful should treat him with the respect and obedience they would show to Jesus Himself. “Even if he were an incarnate devil, we ought not to raise up our heads against him – but calmly lie down to rest on his bosom.”

She wrote to the Florentines, who were rebelling against Pope Gregory XI: “He who rebels against our Father, Christ on earth, is condemned to death, for that which we do to him, we do to Christ in heaven – we honor Christ if we honor the pope, we dishonor Christ if we dishonor the pope… I tell you that God will and has so commanded that even if the priests and the pastors of the Church and Christ on earth were incarnate devils, it is seemly that we are obedient and subject to them, not for their sake, but for the sake of God, out of obedience to Him, for He wills that we should act thus.

“Know that the son is never in the right against the father, even if the father is ever so evil and unjust, for so great is the good which he has received from the father, that is, life itself, that he can never repay him for it. And we have received the life of grace from the Church, which is so great a benefit, that we can never, by any kind of homage or gratitude, pay the debt we owe.”

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One comment on “St Catherine of Siena and the Roman Pontiff

  1. 1kings 15:22

    For obedience is better than sacrifices: and to hearken rather than to offer the fat of rams. Because it is like the sin of witchcraft, to rebel: and like the crime of idolatry, to refuse to obey.

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