Garry Wills: The pope shouldn’t be king

Garry Wills doesn’t mince words when it comes to the papacy. “It’s a crime,” he told On Faith’s Sally Quinn … Continued

Garry Wills doesn’t mince words when it comes to the papacy. “It’s a crime,” he told On Faith’s Sally Quinn in a recent interview. Why?

Says the author of a new book, “Why Priests?: A Failed Tradition” about the legitmacy of the Vatican:

“Well, my wife stopped going to the Vatican because it is a great fortress, a great palace, containing wonderful treasures, but huge coats of arms of all the aristocratic popes. And, after all, the church was built with money the pope got by pretending to let people out of purgatory.

“It’s the remnant of a medieval monarchy, and the idea that the church of Jesus should become a monarchy … you know when Pilate asks Jesus, ‘Are you a king?’ He says, ‘No, not of this earth. If I were a king I would have followers, and they would fight for me, but I’m not a king of this earth.’ The pope has been made into a king of this earth.

“As a matter of fact, when the Romans mocked Jesus, they crowned him as king. That kind of insulting thing is what Christians, in­cred­ibly, came to do themselves. They crowned the pope as king. And, of course, for centuries the king had armies, countries, spies, prisons, torturers, killed masses of people. He was a powerful king, but he was also a spiritual leader and decided that if your Jesus is not my Jesus, I will kill you, so he killed them … Huguenots, Albigensians, in vast numbers for the sin of not worshipping him as king.

“So Lord Acton, who was a Catholic . . . [his] most famous saying, ‘Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely,’ was said precisely about popes.”


Sally Quinn Sally Quinn is the founding editor of OnFaith.
  • Dick Diamond

    There are several things I would like to observe: 1) The very opulence of the Vatican and the Cardinals in it and the very wealth of the Vatican Church are the reason there came a Martin Luther and the Protest ant movement (separation of the word on purpose. 2) The message of Christ is not the mesage of the leadership of the Roman Catholics. The message of Christ is far more modest and aimed at the people. 3) The leadership of the Vatican resembles the leadership of the Jewish church at the time of Christ. That’s why there was a movement to Christianity 4) Jesus the Christ was a spokesman for the poor, the oppressed. He hated the rich. The gospels tell us so. The Church today worships wealth (mammon).

    The time has come for another Protest ant movement.

  • Dick Diamond

    Jesus was a community organizer. He was a revolutionary as John the Baptist. He was anti-establishment. He would not be accepted in churches named for him in today’s world. He would be an apostate and heretic.

  • Dick Diamond

    We have institjutionalized faith and religion with the institution known as “The Church.” Our problem is not with religion and faith. Our problem is with the human contrivence known as “The Church,” a human contrivance. Yes, “Upon Peter (Petras = rock) I build my church.” But not like the gilded vanity of the present insitution.

Read More Articles

An Untold Story of Bondage to Freedom: Passover 1943

How a foxhole that led to a 77-mile cave system saved the lives of 38 Ukrainian Jews during the Holocaust.

Friend or Foe? Learning from Judas About Friendship with Jesus

We call Judas a betrayer. Jesus called him “friend.”

Fundamentalist Arguments Against Fundamentalism

The all-or-nothing approach to the Bible used by skeptics and fundamentalists alike is flawed.

The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

How to Debate Christians: Five Ways to Behave and Ten Questions to Answer

Advice for atheists taking on Christian critics.

Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

Heaven Hits the Big Screen

How “Heaven is for Real” went from being an unsellable idea to a bestselling book and the inspiration for a Hollywood movie.

This God’s For You: Jesus and the Good News of Beer

How Jesus partied with a purpose.

Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

Dear Evangelicals, Please Reconsider Your Fight Against Gay Rights

A journalist and longtime observer of American religious culture offers some advice to his evangelical friends.