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.

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