Pope Innocent III

Extract from Father Terry’s Verbal Conscience website (http://www.frterry.org), Handout 106

The pontifical conscience of Pope Innocent III (1198-1216)

The church has brought me one particularly precious dowry, namely the fullness of spiritual power and broad temporal possessions with a mass of riches. For the other apostles have been called to share the power, but Peter is the only one who has been called to enjoy the plentitude. I have received from him the mitre for my priesthood and the crown for my royal state, he has established me vicar of him on whose robes it is written: ‘King of kings and Lord of lords, priest for ever after in the order of Melchizedek.’

Just as the moon receives its light from the sun, so the royal power receives the splendor of its dignity from pontifical authority. We mean to use the fullness of power that we have received from the one who is the Father of mercy primarily on behalf of those with whom one must deal mercifully.