I am non-denominational. I have a couple Catholic friends and one of them told me that the Pope is God. Remembering what I heard about the Catholic religion, I corrected him and said that he was at most merely God's representative, and at least a fellow believer. My friend told me again the Pope is God, so this made me slightly confused. As I remember, Catholics believe the Pope is just God's representative on Earth. Am I wrong?

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    I've edited this down to one question. Your secondary question would make a good question here too, but we really want to keep question scopes to a manageable level so one question at a time please. You can certainly go ahead and ask that question as well. – Caleb Jan 6 '15 at 20:52
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    cf. Pope | New Advent and Pope Titles | New Advent: None of these titles are titles of God. – user13992 Jan 6 '15 at 21:23

Your friend is confused. Very confused. The Pope is not God according to any official Catholic teaching.

Catholics believe a lot of things about the Pope including his ability so speak infallibly (see ex cathedra) and that his role is that of an authoritative representative of God (see vicar of Christ). They believe a lot of things about the Pope that Protestants and others disagree with, but they do not believe he is God. Official doctrinal statements do not include such a thing and historically they never have.


The pope is not God, and the Catholic Church does not teach that he is, only that he represents God on earth. However, your friend may have learnt this from the history of Pope Alexander VI, arguably one of the worst of the popes. Russel Chamberlin, in The Bad Popes, page 173, says that at his coronation, Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgio) committed the blasphemy of having triumphal arches proclaim: "Rome was great under Caesar but even greater far under Alexander. The first was only a mortal – the second is a God."

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    Even the absurdity of saying the Pope is "a God" seems to stop considerably short of saying dogmatically "the Pope is God". – Caleb Jan 6 '15 at 22:57
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    Yeah, even in Latin, there would be ambiguity, since Latin lacks a definite article. In other words, there'd be no way for us to know if he meant "a god" or "God" (the [one true] god). Catholics generally believe in deification, which means we become gods. So, it wouldn't have been blasphemous for Pope Alexander VI to have said, "I am a god." Even the psalmist called the judges of Israel "gods" (Psa. 82:1). – user900 Jan 6 '15 at 23:29
  • @H3br3wHamm3r81 I agree about the ambiguity in Latin. As for Psalm 82:1: "(NAB) God takes a stand in the divine council, gives judgment in the midst of the gods." Many biblical scholars see "divine council" and "gods" as references to early Israelite polytheism (which is now well-attested), not to the Judges on earth. – Dick Harfield Jan 7 '15 at 0:22
  • @DickHarfield: See Exo. 21:6, 22:8-9. – user900 Jan 7 '15 at 1:36
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    There was a lot of bad spin whirling around Alexander VI's pontificate, seeing as he was a Spaniard Pope at a time when Spain was very ill-thought of in Italy. So please take any tales you hear from him (like him bedding his own mother, and such) with a large grain of salt. – Wtrmute Apr 27 '17 at 13:27

“To make war against the Pope is to make war against God, seeing the Pope is God, and God is the Pope.” -Moreri's History. (Louis Moréri (25 March 1643 – 10 July 1680) was a French priest and encyclopedist.)

"The leader of the Catholic church is defined by the faith as the Vicar of Jesus Christ (and is accepted as such by believers). The Pope is considered the man on earth who takes the place of the Second Person of the omnipotent God of the Trinity." (John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, p. 3, 1994).

"The Pope is not simply the representative of Jesus Christ. On the contrary, he is Jesus Christ Himself, under the veil of the flesh, and who by means of a being common to humanity continues His ministry amongst men ... Does the Pope speak? It is Jesus Christ Who is speaking. Does he teach? It is Jesus Christ Who teaches. Does he confer grace or pronounce an anathema? It is Jesus Christ Himself Who is pronouncing the anathema and conferring the grace. Hence consequently, when one speaks of the Pope, it is not necessary to examine, but to obey: there must be no limiting the bounds of the command, in order to suit the purpose of the individual whose obedience is demanded: there must be no caviling at the declared will of the Pope, and so invest it with quite another than that which he has put upon it: no preconceived opinions must be brought to bear upon it: no rights must be set up against the rights of the Holy Father to teach and command; his decisions are not to be criticized, or his ordinances disputed. Therefore by Divine ordination, all, no matter how august the person may be — whether he wear a crown or be invested with the purple, or be clothed in the sacred vestments: all must be subject to Him Who has had all things put under Him." -Evangelical Christendom, January 1, 1895, pg. 15, published in London by J. S. Phillips.

  • While that was an interesting opinion, I don't think this squares with the official teaching of the Catholic Church, and certainly not currently. The matter of infallibility was addressed in 1870-71, Vatican I, and does not square with what is offered in this answer's third citation. Moreri's opinion is certainly of interest, from a historical viewpoint. The JP II citation is not consistent with the other two, in that the vicar of Christ is the representative of Christ rather than Christ himself. – KorvinStarmast Jan 12 '18 at 13:19

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