Jesus told his Apostles, “You know how those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt, but it shall not be so among you.”
In spite of that warning, in later centuries our leaders began behaving like worldly rulers. Historical events forced them into being high and mighty. Lets look at two of those historical events, one in 500 A.D. and one in 740 A.D..
In 500 A.D. Christianity was all but smothered by the Arian heresy. We were saved by the conversion of the powerful nation of he Franks. Now, the Franks, who were barbarians, had only two classes of people. On top were those who had inheritances, and below them were the serfs who slept with the pigs. Now there was a big problem for the priests and bishops who baptized the Franks. They couldn’t practice their priestly ministries while sleeping with the pigs. So, someone cooked up a ceremony that saved the dignity of the priests and bishops.
What they did In 500 was that they cooked up a ceremony. They had each priest and bishop come before the nobles making the same assertion. Each of them proclaimed , “I have an inheritance. My inheritance is the Lord.” With that the nobles accepted them as equals.”
Because the old German word they used for inheritance was klerk, the nobles called them clerics. Then, they began insisting that their clerics act the part. They had to put on titles. So, they became the Reverend, or the Very Reverend, or the Most Reverend.
Then, in 740 they got another boost up. What happened was that in rooting through ancient papers, someone discovered Emperor Constantine’s last will and testament. (It was a forgery, but it was taken for real for three centuries.) This so-called “Donation of Constantine” gave all of central Italy to the popes as their kingdom. In time they came to regard it as a good thing, because it made them independent of ruthless kings.
After a while the people came to love having their popes and bishops acting high and mighty. Some of the Vatican’s splendor rubbed off on all of us.
In 1215 St. Francis of Assissi came along, imitating Jesus in his simplicity; and now we have a pope who thinks that to be a good idea.