The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Forbes names Pope the world’s 5th most powerful person

Only 5th?


Pope Benedict XVI won the No. 5 spot in a list of the world’s most powerful people, one of only two religious leaders in Forbes magazine’s list of 68 influential men and women.

Benedict was sandwiched between Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The only other religious leader on the list was the Dalai Lama, who ranked at No. 39.

Forbes, which released the list Wednesday (Nov. 3), scored the rankings by the person’s influence over people, which for religious leaders meant counting the followers in their flocks.

The pope was named the “highest earthly authority for 1.1 billion souls,” which represents one-sixth of the world’s population. He was noted for “healing old wounds” in September when he became the first modern pope to visit London’s Westminster Abbey, where he shook the hand of a clergywoman.


The Dalai Lama was praised in the list for “keeping China honest” and providing spiritual leadership for millions of Buddhists and his political leadership for 150,000 Tibetans in exile.

The pope jumped ahead six spots in this year’s rankings, while the Dalai Lama stayed put.

You can read more, and see who else made the list, here.

Comments read comments(18)
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tim baugh

posted November 5, 2010 at 12:49 am

you would think he could get little girls off the altar, and some decent liturgical music, in the US

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Ricardo Boncan

posted November 5, 2010 at 3:57 am

I am really not sure if that it s an honor for the holy father to be listed there. My first instinct was to ask myself, power over what? With the amount of dissent in the church today, you would not think this was so.

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posted November 5, 2010 at 6:18 am

“”The pope was named the “highest earthly authority for 1.1 billion souls,” which represents one-sixth of the world’s population.””
I wonder how relieable this Forbes list is.
Sure on paper the Pope ‘rules’ 1.1 bilion souls, perhaps, but how many of those catholics are lapsed catholics or ‘liberals’, ie people who do not like or even hate the Pope…
Still one might argue that these ‘anti-papist catholics’ are a minority and mostly confined into the western world.
Also the power of the Pope might have been comparable to that of a King in centuries past… but today?

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Mary B.

posted November 5, 2010 at 7:06 am

He has my vote.

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posted November 5, 2010 at 7:48 am

I think the ranking is right – if he wasn’t so powerful, why do people so strongly object to him as much as they love him? We seem to answer this by talking about his influence over others. But I don’t think that’s it at all. What is the Pope’s attraction/or cause of hatred? He truly believes – he radiates love of God. He talks of nothing else. Even when he talks of issues, he talks of God. Ever notice how his eyes often go heavenward when he speaks the Lord’s name in his speeches? No, he is powerful because he is close to the Lord. That’s why he’s loved and hated. And, that’s why he’s powerful.

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Deacon Norb

posted November 5, 2010 at 8:31 am

To both Tim and Ishmael — for your further consideration:
John Paul II and Benedict XVI are very much alike but they are very much different:
–JPII — ever the academic scholar — apologized to the world about the church’s shabby and incorrect treatment of Galileo and Copernicus. Those two scholars were correct, and the contemporary Vatican authorities during their era (including several popes then alive) were wrong. Only a pope can countermand another pope’s statement but JPII was not afraid to do so.
–In Fides et Ratio, JPII — ever a graduate level professor of Philosophy — also “de-throned” Thomism. That may not be all that important to many younger scholars, but many a university professor of philosophy in Roman Catholic universities in the 1960’s were fired, pushed out the door, or never hired because they refused to teach that “Thomism” was the only philosophical system allowed for Roman Catholics.
–JPII’s re-approachment to the wider Jewish community has greatly influenced our overall church’s attitude toward our own religious heritage — deeply grounded in Judaism.
–Benedict XVI is also changing the map of Roman Catholicism. First, off, if my memory serves me well, there are about five women (a mix of consecrated religious and genuine laity) who serve in major Vatican offices. There is absolutely no reason why he cannot elevate one or more of them to become “Cardinals.” (A “Cardinal” is a human position — not a Divine mandated Order. Rules which state that Cardinals have to be ordained clerics can be changed upon the Pope’s decree.)
–In a very obscure Moto Propio (an executive decree published at the pope’s own initiative and with his signature), Benedict XVI, about twelve months ago, laid the theological groundwork for the admission of women as Deacons/Deaconesses. It may not happen in my lifetime, but Benedict is alerting his church that there shoulld not be any “presumption” that it cannot happen.
–Besides: Benedict is a “cat-person.” As the Franciscan religious sister I work with insists, those who love cats and whom cats love, are destined for great and powerful careers.
Only the very best of blessings!

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posted November 5, 2010 at 10:01 am

If Galileo was correct, then I must be very confused. I could have sworn the Sun was not the center of the universe.

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posted November 5, 2010 at 10:16 am

“In a very obscure Moto Propio (an executive decree published at the pope’s own initiative and with his signature), Benedict XVI, about twelve months ago, laid the theological groundwork for the admission of women as Deacons/Deaconesses. It may not happen in my lifetime, but Benedict is alerting his church that there shoulld not be any ‘presumption’ that it cannot happen.”
The Rock disagrees with you:
“Question: Deacons cannot celebrate Mass, so why can’t women be ordained to the diaconate?”
“Answer: Women cannot be ordained deacons because deacons receive the sacrament of holy orders, which women cannot validly receive. Deacons receive this sacrament in a lesser degree than priests or bishops, but they do receive it, so potential candidates must be capable of receiving it. Deacons do not preside at Mass but they do read the Gospel and are allowed to preach at Mass, functions that are considered in a certain sense to be apostolic. Because deacons share in the apostolic ministry, it is fitting that they be men as were the apostles Jesus chose.”
“One may discuss the issue all one likes, but it cannot change. Women will never be ordained in the Catholic Church. Not to the priesthood, and not to the diaconate. It’s just the way it is. Can you imagine if the Church changed its teachings every time some culture came up with some politically correct issue? We’d be so confused that no one would know the faith! Not that many do now, at least not in this culture. Americans make very poor Catholics because they are too independent and think that everything is up for grabs. Don’t like some doctrine, protest and legislate against it and “make” ’em change it. The Church has never changed anything in the deposit of faith given us by Christ, nor does it claim the authority to ever do so.”
There will never be women deacons. In all due respect, you are wrong.

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posted November 5, 2010 at 10:29 am

Only the 5th ?
Is the pope catholic ? yes , he is the guardian of the catholic theology ( or system ). it’s a shame that so many people are decieved by this pope and his religion .
so many people who can’t discern truth from error, or genuine christianity from its counterfeit.
for any man to be called ” holy father ” and accept it.
JESUS called GOD HOLY FATHER in john 17 in his high priestly prayer.
JESUS said : ” call no man father ” as if any man is the source of spiritual life.
the pope is called the ” Vicar of CHRIST ” in place of CHRIST.
the pope has usurped the title intended for JESUS CHRIST.
my prayer is that many will see the scales fall off their eyes and chains broken that have bound so many from this religious system. i pray many will know the real ” TRUTH ” AND FINALLY BE SET FREE !!

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Mr Flapatap

posted November 5, 2010 at 10:30 am

“…one of only two religious leaders…”
Not entirely true, Barack Obama made #2 😉

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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted November 5, 2010 at 10:45 am

Norb, that’s an interesting observation, regarding the Moto Proprio.
For those who missed it, last year the pope himself inserted the following language into the Code of Canon Law:
“Those who are constituted in the order of the episcopate or the presbyterate receive the mission and capacity to act in the person of Christ the Head, whereas deacons are empowered to serve the People of God in the ministries of the liturgy, the word and charity”.
That paragraph didn’t exist, in any form, until last year.
The significance of this seems to be that it specifically links only the episcopate and presbyterate to an explicitly male figurehead, Christ, while deacons are defined in a more generic and inclusive role of service to all people. The argument could thus be made that here only the two higher orders are reserved to men, while the order of deacon remains, intriguingly, ambiguous.
This could indeed provide interesting fodder for debate and dissection in the years to come.
Dcn. G.

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posted November 5, 2010 at 10:54 am

Obama a religious figure

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posted November 5, 2010 at 10:56 am

Sorry meant to out in a question mark there.

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posted November 5, 2010 at 11:23 am

To Romancrusader:
The founding Editor/Publisher of “This Rock” is Karl Keating, an American trained lawyer and amateur church historian from San Diego.
“This Rock” has a fairly large following but his real strength (in fact, that’s how he got started) is in writing tracts (first in print and now “on-line”) pointedly attacking all the “anti-Catholic” nonsense that hard-core anti-catholic (often ex-catholic) evangelical fundamentalists distribute about out church.
Like many attorneys, Karl is very bright; is an excellent writer; is not afraid to go in front of hostile crowds and argue his points; and can argue his points with solid church historical facts. He got out of the practice of law when his publication ministry simply got so big, he had to dedicate his entire career to it.
BUT — as popular as Karl Keating is within some portions of Roman Catholicism — he was never elected Pope!
AND — would you believe — according to one source, one of Karl’s early articles actually praised Deacon Norb’s ministry.

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posted November 5, 2010 at 12:17 pm

I believe the pope represents Christ until His return hence vicar (representative). The term father can mean two different things as so I have found these passages that will help clear up the confusion.
“Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?” James 2 21
“Besides this, we have had our earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not (then) submit all the more to the Father of spirits and live?” Heb 12 9

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posted November 5, 2010 at 12:19 pm

“BUT — as popular as Karl Keating is within some portions of Roman Catholicism — he was never elected Pope!”
No, he wasn’t. But, he tells the truth doesn’t he?
“AND — would you believe — according to one source, one of Karl’s early articles actually praised Deacon Norb’s ministry.”
You show me. What would it prove anyway.

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Deacon Bill

posted November 5, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Just by way of background information:
According to official Catholic teaching, theology and canon law, the pope is “A” vicar of Christ, not “THE” vicar of Christ. According to “Lumen Gentium #26″ all bishops are vicars of Christ; so, since the pope is first the bishop of the Diocese of Rome (that’s why he’s the pope, not the other way around), he is a vicar of Christ, just like, say, Bishop Bob Lynch is a vicar of Christ in the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida, or Archbishop Don Wuerl is a vicar of Christ in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC.
What makes the pope’s role unique is that he is the VICAR OF PETER. That’s why his ministry is referred to as the “Petrine Ministry”. Many medieval references to the pope, for example, refer to “Peter, here present” when referring to the pope.
OK, continue on. Just thought that point needed to be made.
God bless,

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posted November 6, 2010 at 2:16 am

He is of course, quite influential by virtue of the high profile of his position and its historical gravity, but the pope in no way speaks for 1.1 billion people. It is a wildly inflated number because it counts as “followers” anyone who ever had water thrown on them by a priest – an act perpetuated as much by centuries of cultural inertia as anything else. There are lots of people who are culturally/ethnically Catholic, but this does not make one a “follower.” The Church essentially is claiming to speak for virtually everyone of Western/Central European extraction and most of the Western Hemisphere.
One in every 10 people in this country alone counts themselves as “ex-Catholic,” yet every one of these people is counted as being the pope’s “follower.” In Ireland and other parts of Europe, so many people were filing formal defections from the Church that they simply revoked the procedure which allowed one to do this.
There are even larger numbers of people who are Catholic in name only or hold beliefs and practices which are not even somewhat in conformity with official teachings. If you look at any reasonable definition of “follower” – ie even semi-consistent Mass attendance, beliefs in conformity with Rome etc – the real number would be, at most, half of what it is.

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