Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) Claimed Popes Have Divine Authority

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Pope Innocent III claimed that only the Roman Pontiff had the power to transfer and separate bishops, because when he separates, it is not a man that separates, but God that separates, because he acts “not only as a man, but as the true God’s vice governor on earth” [non puri hominis, sed veri Dei vicem gerit in terris], … he “dissolves not with human, but with divine authority” [non humana, sed divina potius auctoritate dissolvit.]:

Non enim homo, sed Deus separat, quos Romanus Pontifex (qui non puri hominis, sed veri Dei vicem gerit in terris) ecclesiarum necessitate vel utilitate pensata, non humana, sed divina potius auctoritate dissolvit.

Translation – It is not a man, but God, who separates those whom the Roman Pontiff (not only as a man, but as the true God’s vice governor on earth), providing for the necessities and the good of the churches, dissolves not with human, but with divine authority.

Source: DECRETALES D. GREGORII PAPAE IX, SUAE INTEGRITATI  UNA CUM GLOSSIS RESTTUTE Ad exemplar Romanum diligenter recognite, LUGDUNI, 1584, liber I, titulus VII – De Translatione Episcopi, cap. III, col. 217. (138) Download entire volume, .pdf. All 5 volumes are available at Gallica.

The adjacent gloss for “veri Dei vicem” adds the following regarding the scope of the Pope’s authority as God’s true vice governor:

veri Dei vicem (gerit).]

Unde dicitur habere caeleste arbitrium (Cod. de sum. tri. 1. I. in fi.),
Whence he is said to possess a divine judgment,

et ideo etiam naturam rerum immutat, substantialia unius rei applicando alii (arg. C. communia de leg. l. 2),
and therefore he altereth the very nature of things, by applying the things that are of the substance of one thing unto another,

et de nullo potest aliquid facere (C. rei uxor. act. l. unica in prin. et De Consecr. Dist. 2. c. 69),
and of nothing he can make something; [to make something out of nothing is to construct new laws];

et sententiam, quae nulla est, facit aliquam (Caus. III. Qu. 6. c. 10);
and that sentence which is of no force he can make to be of force;

quia in his, quae vult, ei est pro ratione voluntas (Instit. de jure natu. § sed quod principi. haec quippe.)
and he can do these things, because his will stands for reason.

Nec est, qui ei dicat, cur ita facis? (De Poen. Dist. 3. c. 22. ex psona. alias est in c. quauis)
Neither is there any may say unto him, Why dost thou so?

Ipse enim potest supra jus dispensare (infra, Lib. III. Tit. 8. c. 4, j. de conces. prae. c. proposuit.)
for he can dispense above the law,

idem de injustitia potest facere justitiam corrigendo jura et mutando (Lib. II. Tit. 28. c. 59.,  j. de appella c. vt debitus., Lib. IV. Tit. 14. c. 8, et j. de cosang. et affinit. cap. non debet.)
and of unrighteousness make righteousness, correcting and changing laws,

et plenitudinem obtinet potestatis (Caus. II. Qu. 6. c. 11). decreto
for he hath the fullness of power.

The references in the gloss are supplied in:

A Compendium of Ecclesiastical History, by Dr. John C. L. Gieseler, Fourth Edition Revised And Amended, Volume III, 1853, translated from the German by the Rev. John Winstanley Hull, M.A. pg. 161.

The English translation of the gloss is primarily from:

The Decades of Henry Bullinger, The Fifth Decade, By Heinrich Bullinger, Translated By H. I., 1852, pg. 121.

See also:

A Sketch Of The Romish Controversy By G. Finch, London, 1831, pg. 318. This book incorrectly reads “Ipse enim potest s. jus dispensare” in the gloss as “Ipse enim potest sanctumjus dispensare” (for he can dispense with holy laws,). The referenced section in the gloss to Lib. III shows that “supra” (for he can dispense above the law,) is correct.

An excellent searchable version of Gregorius IX Decretalium compilatio with concordance.

Just as the founder of the universe established two great lights in the firmament of heaven, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night, so too He set two great dignities in the firmament of the universal church…, the greater one to rule the day, that is, souls, and the lesser to rule the night, that is, bodies. These dignities are the papal authority and the royal power. Now just as the moon derives its light from the sun and is indeed lower than it in quantity and quality, in position and in power, so too the royal power derives the splendor of its dignity from the pontifical authority…. — Letter to the prefect Acerbius and the nobles of Tuscany, 1198.


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