Priestly pomp
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Priestly pomp

Not too long ago we were  ‘regaled’ by the spectacle of a Gozitan parish priest being paraded through his parish in a Porsche. Such displays of priestly pomp in the Roman Catholic Church can be traced back to its early history. In the fourth century, historian Ammianus Marcellinus was surprised to find that the bishop of Rome lived like a prince in the Lateran Palace and moved through the city with the pomp of an emperor.

This vainglory was financed by the ignoble love of lucre among the early Christians. Pope Saint Damasus I (366-84) was known in Rome for his expertise in wheedling gifts for the Church from the rich matrons of the city.

In his satiric Letters, Jerome, the translator of the Bible into Latin, ridiculed the curled and scented ecclesiastics who frequented fashionable society and lampooned the legacy-hunting priests who rose before dawn to visit women before they got out of bed.

Nowadays, while cardinals and nuncios live like lords in their mansions, the ‘meek’ are reassured by their priests that “they will inherit the earth”.

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