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Dictatus Papae

John C. Pontrello

July 8, 2019

In AD 1075, as part of the Gregorian Reforms the famous "Dictatus Papae" containing 27 statements of powers arrogated to the pope was penned.  

List of Principles

  1. The Roman Church was founded solely by God.

  2. Only the Pope can with right be called "Universal".

  3. He alone can depose or reinstate bishops.

  4. All bishops are below his Legate in council, even if a lower grade, and he can pass sentence of deposition against them.

  5. The Pope may depose the absent.

  6. Among other things, we ought not to remain in the same house with those excommunicated by him.

  7. For him alone is it lawful, according to the needs of the time, to make new laws, to assemble together new congregations, to make an abbey of a canonry, and, on the other hand, to divide a rich bishopric and unite the poor ones.

  8. He alone may use the Imperial Insignia.

  9. All princes shall kiss the feet of the Pope alone.

  10. His name alone shall be spoken in the churches.

  11. This is the only name in the world.

  12. It may be permitted to him to depose emperors.

  13. It may be permitted to him to transfer bishops, if need be.

  14. He has the power to ordain the clerk of any parish he wishes.

  15. He who is ordained by the Pope may preside over another church, but may not hold a subordinate position. Such a person may not receive a higher clerical grade from any other bishop.

  16. No synod shall be called a 'General Synod' without his order.

  17. No chapter and no book shall be considered canonical without his authority.

  18. A sentence passed by him may be retracted by no one. He alone may retract it.

  19. He himself may be judged by no one.

  20. No one shall dare to condemn any person who appeals to the Apostolic Chair.

  21. The more important cases of every church should be referred to the Apostolic See.

  22. The Roman Church has never erred. Nor will it err, to all eternity--Scripture being witness.

  23. The Roman Pontiff, if he has been canonically ordained, is undoubtedly made a saint by the merits of St. Peter, St. Ennodius Bishop of Pavia bearing witness, and many holy fathers agreeing with him. As it is contained in the decrees of Pope St. Symmachus.

  24. By his command and consent, it may be lawful for subordinates to bring accusations.

  25. He may depose and reinstate bishops without assembling a Synod.

  26. He who is not at peace with the Roman Church shall not be considered 'catholic'.

  27. He may absolve subjects from their fealty to wicked men.


I will comment of numbers 1, 2, 12, 19, 22, & 26: 


1. That the Roman church was founded by God alone.

Comment: This claim is proven false by scripture, tradition, and history.  Christ founded a Church but it had nothing to do with Rome or any other territory.  All particular churches that would comprise the universal Catholic Church were founded by men- including Rome whose founders are the Apostles Paul and Peter.  As I wrote in my book, even if Christ bestowed a primacy in Peter this primacy had nothing to do with a see; it could only pertain to the person.  The best Roman Catholics could argue here is that Christ conferred a primacy in Peter who then transferred it to Rome later.  But there are all kinds of problems with this claim.  For example, the forged Donation of Constantine busts this claim and demonstrates that even as late as the 8th century when the document is thought to have been forged, its author (or authors) erred dogmatically in attributing the conferral of universal papal authority to the emperor Constantine instead of God:

The text, purportedly a decree of Roman Emperor Constantine I dated 30 March, in a year mistakenly said to be both that of his fourth consulate (315) and that of the consulate of Gallicanus (317), contains a detailed profession of Christian faith and a recounting of how the emperor, seeking a cure for his leprosy, was converted and baptized by Pope Sylvester I. In gratitude, he determined to bestow on the seat of Peter "power, and dignity of glory, and vigour, and honour imperial", and "supremacy as well over the four principal sees, AlexandriaAntiochJerusalem, and Constantinople, as also over all the churches of God in the whole earth". For the upkeep of the church of Saint Peter and that of Saint Paul, he gave landed estates "in JudeaGreeceAsiaThraceAfricaItaly and the various islands". To Sylvester and his successors he also granted imperial insignia, the tiara, and "the city of Rome, and all the provinces, places and cities of Italy and the western regions".[4][5]


Oops. Looks like the papal forgers were not aware that "God Alone" founded the Roman Church and that she would have supremacy over the entire Christian world by divine right.   


Note: Roman Catholic apologists need to think this through.  If the divine prerogatives of the papacy were true why would forgeries such as "The Donation of Constantine" have even been necessary? It is remarkable that this forgery was so influential in advancing the claims of the papacy throughout the centuries.


2.  Only the pope with right can be called “Universal.”


Comment: This contradicts Pope Gregory the Great almost word for word:


"I say it without the least hesitation, whoever calls himself the universal bishop, or desires this title, is, by his pride, the precursor of Antichrist, because he thus attempts to raise himself above the others. The error into which he falls springs from pride equal to that of Antichrist; for as that Wicked One wished to be regarded as exalted above other men, like a god, so likewise whoever would be called sole bishop exalteth himself above others....You know it, my brother; hath not the venerable Council of Chalcedon conferred the honorary title of 'universal' upon the bishops of this Apostolic See [Rome], whereof I am, by God's will, the servant? And yet none of us hath permitted this title to be given to him; none hath assumed this bold title, lest by assuming a special distinction in the dignity of the episcopate, we should seem to refuse it to all the brethren." ~ Pope St. Gregory the Great

Note well that Pope Gregory (An Orthodox bishop of Rome) rightly states that this title was “honorary” and “conferred on Roman bishops by the authority of the Council of Chalcedon.”  Once again, there is no divine right attributed to this dignity, which should have been clearly known and stated per the later dogmas on the papacy. He furthermore states that use of such a title could cause a false assumption to be inferred in that a pope holds a dignity of the episcopate that is not shared by all bishops.

12. It may be permitted to him to depose emperors.


Comment:  Such an idea was unimaginable in the first 11 centuries (  Emperors called councils, instituted and deposed popes, and settled church disputes.


19. That he (Roman Pontiff) can be judged by no one.


Comment:  For just one example, Pope Silverius was judged and deposed for treason in AD 538 and replaced by Vigilius (see my article Silverius Deposed). Later, Pope Honorius was condemned as a heretic at the 3rd Ecumenical Council of Constantinople (AD 680).

Note1 : I also have a short list of other popes who may have been deposed and removed from office which I have not had time to research yet.


Note 2: Trad Cats who attempt to rehabilitate Honorius shoot themselves in the foot. Remember, Honorious was anathematized by an infallible ecumenical council.  Therefore, trads must sacrifice infallibility of ecumenical councils rubber stamped by popes in order to preserve papal infallibility.  


22. That the Roman Church has never erred, nor ever, by the witness of Scripture, shall err to all eternity.


Comment: 1965 – 2019 Roman Catholicism destroys this myth.  Note well that #22 directly pertains to the indefectibility of Rome.


26. He who is not at peace with the Roman Church shall not be considered Catholic.


Comment: #26 destroys Sedes and Lefebvrites.  This is Roman Catholicism 101.  

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