The mysterious disappearance of the Vicar of Christ

by Cindy Woods


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Pope Francis greets a child as he arrives to visit the Parish of St Julius in Rome April 7, 2019. The Vatican yearbook now uses “bishop of Rome” as the only title for the pope.
CNS/Remo Casilli, Reuters

From the moment he was introduced to the world after his election, Pope Francis has emphasised his identity as “the bishop of Rome”.

The 2020 Annuario Pontificio, the official Vatican yearbook, has made the same emphasis typographically by listing other descriptions of the papal office as “historic titles”.

Like the 2019 edition, there is a page that says simply, “Francis, bishop of Rome.”

But unlike last year’s edition, the new yearbook does not precede the biography of “Jorge Mario Bergoglio” with the titles: “Vicar of Jesus Christ. Successor of the Prince of the Apostles. Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church. Primate of Italy. Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Province of Rome. Sovereign of Vatican City State. Servant of the Servants of God.”

Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office, told Catholic News Service that unlike in 2006 when Pope Benedict XVI had the title “Patriarch of the West” removed from the list, this time “there has been no suppression” of a title.

“The definition of ‘historic’ in relation to the titles attributed to the pope on one of the pages dedicated to him in the Annuario Pontificio of 2020 seems to me to indicate the bond with the history of the papacy,” Bruni said. All of the other titles “are understood to be tied historically to the title of bishop of Rome because at the moment he is designated by the conclave to guide the church of Rome, the one elected acquires the titles tied to this nomination.

Pope Francis’ first words to the public after his election March 13, 2013, were: “Brothers and sisters, good evening. You all know that the duty of the conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother cardinals have gone almost to the ends of the earth to get him … but here we are.”


The Papacy, as it has evolved is a great big heresy.

The 12 Apostles were just that – APOSTLES.

They were not BISHOPS.

A bishop (originally “overseer”) was the one who emerged from the community as the senior presbyter.

With the exception of John, the Apostles were there for the whole church and not just for one church community.

There is not 100% proof that Peter was even in Rome – but even if he was, he was not the “overseer” there.

The development of the episcopate from the community to the overseeing senior presbyter is a legitimate development.

However, the development of the episcopate into a middle ages feudal lordship is an anti-Gospel and anti-Christian development.

If any “church” deserves to be the main church of Christendom it is either Jerusalem where the church started or Antioch to where the early Christian community moved to in order to escape persecution.

Rome only became the focal church because Rome was the capital of the civil empire.

In my mind, Francis, is the Roman Catholic Bishop of Rome.

That is the only title he needs or should have.

Agreeably, Francis seems to know that.

And Christ does not need any “vicars” – and if He does – we are all his vicars.

Like Cardinal Newman said: “Conscience is the aboriginal vicar of Christ”. Those words are engraved on the grave surround of The Oratory Society in Larne cemetery.

52 replies on “The mysterious disappearance of the Vicar of Christ”

Pat, I’ve tremendous respect for you. I always had.

Though one common thread throughout all your blog posts is that the RCC can’t do right for doing wrong. When some were up to “strange goings on” you demanded orthodoxy and restraint, yet attack Martin – in a pious and moving act – for waving his “Harry Potter Stick” around. You criticise the hierarchical structure – in particular the episcopate – yet your yourself cling on your your title as BISHOP Buckley. You demand that the the institutional Church gets down off its high horse, yet today criticise Francis for (rather modestly) losing the pretentious titles. I’m not a massive fan of the RCC, but please be principled and stick to one story.

Hope you have a blessed Holy Week and stay safe.




Losing the pretentious titles was a trifle in spiritual and mora terms, because that’s historically what these titles were: a worldly trifle. But hey were anything but in relation to the CHARACTER of the papacy. That is something else entirely. Until this changes, fundamentally and comprehensively, the clericalism in the Church will remain, and will continue to stain the character of the Church.

Francis has made a very small and unspectacular start, but it is, at least, a start, hopefully an omen of much more, and better, to come. Remember that this is the man who spoke of ‘zero tolerance’ for clerical abuse of children, yet who refused, repeatedly, to respond to complaints of sexual abuse by Fr Grassi when Francis was Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires. He still hasn’t responded to those complaints. AND he lied, twice, on camera when he was questioned about this matter by a French journalist.

Papal titles (ALL clerical titles, in fact) are useless baubles. Moral character is something else. And it is missing among Romanist clergy.


I do agree with a lot of what you say. There are a lot of double standards on this blog as well as errors. The RC Bishops and clergy are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.
I have to laugh at the comment “They were not BISHOPS.” BUT the overseer of the Larne Oratory likes to be called Bishop. Perhaps he wanted to be Archbishop of Armagh or Bishop of Down and Connor and that is why he reserves so much hostility towards those dioceses.
I has also been claimed on another post that the RC church is a man made church. What exactly is the Larne Oratory?
There is certainly a lot of copying of the Mass and other services of this so called man made church


Bishop of Rome is factual; Patriarch of the West is justifiable on historic grounds; whereas Vicar of Christ is meaningless – actually the title could apply to everyone of us.


Anonymoussays: 5th Apr 2020 at 10:25 pm — “ … Patriarch of the West is justifiable on historic grounds … “
Benedict XVI has renounced the title “Patriarch of the West” in 2006.

And anyhow it had been an anachronism since 1929 when the Papacy finally accepted that “The Donation of Constantine” – purportedly a document whereby Constantine the Great handed over to the Roman Papacy secular authority over the entire Western Roman Empire — was a forgery.




Oh! The Romanist Strumpet is used to forgery: it forged even Jesus. You can tell this, quite easily: her Jesus is nothing like the real deal.


The title Patriarch has nothing to do with the so-called Donation of Constantine. It is a title of honour acknowledging the special status of Rome comparable to the ancient Patriarchates of the East and the more recent creations including Moscow. I am not inclined to use it but it is scarcely problematic.


Takes a bloody oul, self-denying queer, like Newman, to tell the queerest institution ever what’s wot.😕


I watched Pope Francis live stream Mass from the Vatican a short while ago.
His homily focused on the words of Jesus” the poor you will always have with you”. He mentioned the final judgement when the Lord will ask, did you feed the hunger, visit the sick…etc. Pope Francis also mentioned the culture of indifference and denial in society regarding the poor. This, he said, is not communism, but the core of the Gospel.

Sadly, in my opinion, there is a culture of indifference and denial in the Institutional Church regarding abuse, corruption and criminality within the clerical and religious fraternity. It is blatantly obvious to me, the clergy and hierarchy put themselves, their brotherhood, their interests and their concerns above everyone else, even above the Gospel itself. The Church is being ruined by too many corrupt bishops complicit in abuse, corruption, crime and covering up. Too many ‘good priests’ continue to remain silent out of self interest, not wanting or willing to ‘rock the boat,’ for fear of repercussions and reprisals.
Even the moral authority of the Pope, Bishop of Rome, is eroding.
If the clergy and hierarchy are unwilling to challenge the corruption, the laity will.
It is our duty to do so. The Church does not belong to the clergy or hierarchy.
God has NO favourites. Rom. 2:11.


+ Pat does have an ingrained distain for the Roman Catholic Church and its hierarchy. That’s quite understandable given the vile way in which the Church has treated him over the decades. As to his use of the title Bishop, I think + Pat has made it absolutely clear that he sees himself as overseer and leader of a community, who evidently want him there, rather than someone who has a right to be there. His model of simple episcopacy stands in stark contrast to the self-aggrandising power and authority wielding, self-serving episcopacy that we have in the Roman Catholic Church.

On another note, I watched some of Francis’ Palm Sunday Mass. It most certainly was not a service with social distancing as required where I come from ! There were the usual bevy of Monsignori and clean cut altar servers, a choir, and even a congregation judiciously spread out – no doubt favourite nuns and clergy of the Vatican Household. It did rather seem like one rule for the Holy Father and another rule for the rest of us. I’d be more impressed if there was some equality in that rather than him dropping some meaningless title or two.

Both in Ireland and the UK I still fail to identify a Catholic voice amongst our bishops that stands out in the current crisis and is speaking something other than saccharine nothings. It’s very disappointing. It’s what we need at the moment. I guess the best we have is The Queen speaking last night ? So, + Eamon and + Vincent and + Cushley, if you are not up to the job in this crisis, please move aside. We can, and indeed are already, carrying on without you and certainly in spite of you. Maybe that will be the model for the future ?


It seems that Pat is all confused about history, revelation and scripture. Since he is an apostate, one who left freely to set up his oratory, with the the title of Bishop (hierarchical title), and revels in the “gear” that bishops wear, is a contradiction of his theology of Christ. Everyone else is wrong, reckless and contrary to Christ but Pat is supposed to be the icon to emulate. Never. When the true CHRIST is evident in his behaviour, we might do so.


10.54: Yes is the answer to your question! I try to imitate Christ but 9ften with great challenge and with much failure. We are better able to be the community of Christ when we at least try to live the gospel. While I condemn all wrongs, hurts, abuse and their consequences, I do not spend my energy forever in destructive, nasty narratives of unjust judgments. If Pat wants to continue destructive narratives, that’s his choice. I prefer to “do” and “to try” Christ. In liaising with many colleagues I am inspired by the amazing initiatives taken quietly but effectively for the good of parishioners, especially those most in need. God continues to work through us, even in isolation!!


1:43 has given me the best laugh all day. O model of Christ – like virtue, perhaps you could write a book about humility, which would obviously be the best book on the subject.
Seriously, people like you are scary, and I really hope you’re a priest so your potential to damage other people is limited to the sheep who want some egotistical diva performing in front of them on a Sunday and are even stupid enough to pay for the privilege!



You’re a liar, Romanist. But then, lying is in the blood of people like you: Christ-betrayers (who pledged loyalty to a corrupt institution, not to Jesus), parasites, scroungers, and moochers, who, as a body, preyed upon the children of parents who were in turn preyed upon for money.

You self-lionise through self-praise, priest: you assure us that Christ lives in you. But if he truly did, you would have vowed or promised obedience to the Father, as Christ did. But YOUR Father is something else entirely: the corrupt, even depraved, Romanist institution.

And you condemn wrongs hurts and abuse blah blah? Again, you’re a liar, you clerical skunk. You never, openly and publicly, challenged any of your fellow Romanist scroungers about their behaviour over child-sexual abuse, never mind any other form of abuse. You especially never challenged, in this way, your bishop, and certainly never any other bishop, including ANY of the bishops of Rome.

You’re a liar, you supercilious, pompous, Romanist moocher: ‘While I condemn…I do not spend my energy forever in destructive, nasty narratives of unjust judgements.’

Did you type this brutal statement with, mentally, an emphatic and wearied flick of your permanently limp wrist as you lanquished on a comfortable leather armchair, you effete Romanist liar? The fact is you don’t spend any time in composing such narratives, or any other type of narrative against the stinking institution you serve over Christ, because (yawn) you are not even remotely interested.

Mentally now, I have you by the throat. And am lovin’ it. 😅


Anonymoussays: 6th Apr 2020 at 9:47 am — It seems that Pat is all confused about history, Revelation and Scripture.
But isn’t such ignorance an essential requirement for admission to RCC seminaries, and then for Ordination?
Of course after a few years some clergy do sort themselves out — and then they leave.


Well , if Pat is confused about history, revelation and scripture, he’s not alone.
The Rcc can be very selective about history, revelation and scripture when it suits;
a pick and mix.


Holy Week as a very SACRED time for Christians deserves respect, a prayerful and reflective approach. It is also a time to pray and we have much to pray for in these days of great crisis. I believe the flow of cynicism, unnecessary insulting and harsh judgments should be put on hold. Let CHRIST be our focus….He alone.


Christ Alone is supposed to be our focus at all times!
Every moment is sacred ( The sacrament of the present moment) as is every life, including the lives of survivors of abuse.

Liked by 1 person

Yes, Pat, give them a free pass because it’s holy week!
Not a word about the targets of abuse retraumatised by this violent so-called church.
You keep going, love, you’re doing a great job.


Use Google and you’ll see that this decision to relegate ‘Vicar of Christ’ to merely an Historic Title has resulted in a considerable blow-back from Traditionalists.

I’m reminded of how, when I was as a schoolboy I was taught about the Donation of Constantine — as a fact — with never even a mention of doubts about its authenticity.


I honestly doubt it here, the oratories actually specialise in fuddy duddydom and would be unlikely to stick their necks out that far.
The funniest thing in that article is the bit where the provost says if supermarkets can stay open then churches should as well. Talk about entitlement!


…fuddy duddydom…excellent…that’s just what they are. And largely irrelevant.


11.04 and 12.17: No one is forgetting about survivors of abuse. I’m not. As one who experienced teenage abuse, I pray every day for all who are still deeply wounded and hurt. It’s a total lie to suggest that priests don’t care. We do. I simply ask that for this Holy Week, a SACRED time for all Christians, that we each seek to grow more like Christ. In this time of the CORONAVIRUS we need prayers. We should encourage with sentiments of hope, goodwill and kindness. We do not forget all who are hurting now: the elderly, those who live alone, those who are homeless, families in distress, the elderly sick. These are my concern with the help of St. V. De Paul and local Gardai. All who are hurting, for whatever reason need the kindness of listening and empathy. I try to behave this way. As one who was abused but who recovered well, I am very aware of the need for healing and compassion. These qualities are not the reserve of critics only! .


Here we go again! Please, give it a rest. Tell all that to your bishops.
I’ve told you before, abuse by clergy also entails spiritual abuse.
It’s an added dynamic to the abuse.
Good for you to be able to avail and afford therapy. Some survivors cannot afford therapy.
Glad to know you recovered well.
Some survivors experience more trauma as well as lies from bishops when we come forward. Fact, learned from experience.


2.45: Therapy is available to survivors. I know that for a fact. I’ve been on that journey. The fact that I’m a priest seems to justify you in your diminishing of my abuse experience. Utter moral shame on you. My bishop knows very well my views re: abuse and all relevant concerns. To diminish, disrespect and meet at any one person’s abuse is to hurt all survivors. Your ignorance and cynicism is of little use to anyone, particularly survivors. Somehow I imagine I know much more about abuse and all relevant concerns than you do and being part of a support group I know what I’m.talking about.


‘My bishop knows very well my views’.
Oh well that makes all the difference. I’m sure he takes them into account.
Magna – good on you for perceptive analytical commentary today which has def rattled a few cages. 👍


Listen buddy, the one engaged in diminishing abuse is You.
Therapy is available to survivors, if you can afford it.
I’ve told you several times, abuse by a priest has the added dynamic of spiritual abuse.
I’m not going to engage in abusive commentary towards you as you did towards me in your post @ 6:38. I know what I’m talking about in more ways than you can imagine.



It may, occasionally, be a lie to say that Romanists, like you, don’t care about children who were raped or sodomised by Romanists, like you. But it is NEVER a lie to say that Romanists, like you, don’t care anywhere near enough.

So you pray for abused children? Good. But it is /was nowhere near enough.

Did you publicly and openly (and I don’t mean ‘in the semi-anonymity and safety of a church’ ) challenge the Romanist bishops and priests who were raping children and/or covering it up?

Did you openly and publicly, directly or indirectly, criticise the bishops of Rome for the concealment of such abuse by Canon Law?

We both know you didn’t, you deceiving Romanist skunk: you were/are too self-interested, too cowardly.

I’d bet you found a lot of self-satisfaction in just praying for abused children. It allowed you to congratulate yourself on having done your bit, didn’t it? 🤔


4.05: Mr. Supreme Hater is up and about. Your words deserve only contempt, you silly, tiresome, repetitive trashy specimen. Even if CHRIST were to kneel before you it wouldn’t satisfy you. You’d probably kick him in the face as you do to his many brothers and sisters through your poison and hatred. You are an abuser.


Mags at 4.05: You are so twisted and unvalanced that as said of you recently, you are worse than useless. You’d have felt very at home with the mockers, jeerers, and executioners of Jesus on the road to Calvary. Madness, selfishness, moral and spiritual blindness define your hateful rants. You’d have brought the most horrifying insults to the drama of Calvary. God redeem your humanity this Holy Week.


4.05: What a nasty piece of vicious commentary. Trailer trash. Here is a guy who is so full of self loathing, rooted out of the experience of rejection and other psychological and psychosomatic illnesses that he throws buckets of hate speech and ugly abuse at all who do not share his narcissistic world view. Magna, you are to be pitied and prayed for…….


4.05: Marge Dear: It’s Holy Week. Take a break from the booze, from hatred, from evil, from abuse, from self destruction. There are some who care for you, honestly.


Magna Carta at 4.405: What a laugh you give us..If you were given a cent for every hate filled word you utter, you’d be a billionaire. 😁😁😁😁😁😅😅😅😅😅🐂🐂🐂🐂🐂🐮🐮🐮🐮🎃🎃😅🎃😁😁🤣🤣..Keep going you boyo..we need laughs…at your expense. 🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎈.



Seems I struck a nerve or two.😆

Note that not one of these Christ-betraying Romanist parasites, scroungers, and moochers denied ANY of my points.

Honesty by omission: this is ground-breaking self-revelation by a whore church. 😅


The Yanks are saying it’s the Chinese and RTE is forever hinting that the Brits are to blame.


And Worshipful Masters are ordering running machines so loyal brethern can continue marching practices indoors meanwhile.
Alexa: Play The Sash.


Francis has come under attack from some red hats within the Vatican for dropping this title. He’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. Mueller in Germany has really gone for his jugular and called it, “an act of barbarism” today. No surprises as he despises the current Papacy and I’m sure more will follow.


What kind of clergyman… No, scrub that.
What kind of man would spend the holiest week of his religion’s calendar congratulating himself publicly for his virtue and because of that feeling free to demand other people shut up about his religion’s systematic rape of children?
I do know the answer to the question but I think it would be beyond even your genuinely liberal standards of moderation, Pat.
Parents keep your kids away from this dangerous cult.


6.52: More vicious hatred. With a mind like you’re, all kids should be kept free of your poison. Indeed, hatred is evil.



A legitimate development? The episcopate from presbyters?


In what way legitimate?

The ‘development’ was purely bureaucratic, as communities grew larger: it was not an indicator of divine approval, nor was it meant as a bureaucratic or spiritual fixture.

Is your defence of episcopate, Pat, coming from your desire to hold on to the trappings of hierarchy?

Are you really just a Romanist at heart?


Rightly or wrongly Scoop, he’s out. Freed by unanimous decision and gone off to a convent.
Big questions now for Papa Frankie. BBC news site commends Frankie for taking no action until his final legal appeals were over.
We shall see.


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