Papal Miter

Q. Why would the pope have inscribed on his miter vicarius filii dei, which is not an official title for the pope, instead of vicarius Christi, which is an official title?

B.B., Auburndale, Wis.

A. Here is a reply from Father Francis Hoffman, J.C.D.:

The pope can do whatever he wants as long as he is faithful to Christ. The Code of Canon Law states, “No appeal or recourse is permitted against a sentence or decree of the Roman Pontiff” (Canon 333.3). So, the Holy Father himself can determine what is an official title, because he is the official.

All the same, there is really no difference between the term vicarius filii dei and vicarius Christi. The first means “Vicar of the Son of God,” and the second is translated “Vicar of Christ.” As the Son of God is Christ, the two mean the same thing.