All Christians are to identify with Christ in His sufferings on our behalf. This is quite biblical.
A statement made by a bishop about Pope St. John Paul II is being seized upon as an alleged proof that popes think they are God, and that Catholics agree with such blasphemous nonsense. It was published in Zenit (9-20-04):
Auckland Bishop Says Pope Presides From the Cross
[. . . ]
In a statement in the wake of the New Zealand prelates’ five-yearly visit to Rome, Bishop Patrick Dunn of Auckland said of the Pope: “Although his eyes are bright and piercing, he is indubitably frail, and has not walked in public for over a year. His condition makes it an effort for him to talk, and at times even to swallow.”
“It seems that Pope John Paul II now presides over the universal Church from his place upon Christ’s cross,” said Bishop Dunn, who traveled with seven other prelates to Rome.
He makes a striking statement. But the question is, what exactly does he mean? Is the bishop saying that Pope St. John Paul II was God (Christ)? No, of course not. Or that he was literally crucified with Jesus Christ, c. 30 AD? No; obviously not. He is using the eminently biblical imagery of “take up your cross”:
Matthew 10:38 (RSV) and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Mark 8:34 And he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
St. Paul makes several striking statements along the same lines:
Romans 6:6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.
Romans 8:17 . . . fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
2 Corinthians 1:5-7 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.2 Corinthians 4:8-12 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 6:14 But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Galatians 6:17 Henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear on my body the marks [Gk., “stigma”] of Jesus.
Philippians 3:10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,
By anti-Catholic “logic” (and a reductio ad absurdum) Paul is clearly claiming to be God, too. After all, he “suffer[s] with” Christ, he says “we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings,” and “always carrying in the body the death of Jesus,” and he says he has “been crucified with Christ,” and “I bear on my body the marks of Jesus,” and is “becoming like him in his death” and “in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.”
So this proves he is claiming to be God? No, of course not. All Christians are to identify with Christ in His sufferings on our behalf. This is quite biblical. And this is what was meant in the article. Period. End of story.
People need to rely on the Bible and Catholic truths, rather than anti-Catholic lies, coming from a small radical fringe of bigoted, wacko anti-Catholic Protestants.
Photo credit: Christus on the Cross with Mary and St John, by Rogier van der Weyden (c. 1400-1464) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]