Unlike the Mussolini and Stalin who were subordinate to their political parties, the leadership principal of the Nazi party dictated that there could only be a single leader, Adolph Hitler. Hitler was the head of state, the head of the military and the head of SS. We remind the Gentle Reader that Hitler was also a best selling author and, at times, a private citizen. Consistent with the leadership principle, Hitler was the head of all the hundreds of organizations, from the Hitler Youth to the judiciary to the various sciences.
The Allies decided not to separately prosecute hundreds of organizations, so these groups were consolidated into the one criminal organization.
From the research into the T4 program since the end of the war, we know that the documentation used to convince doctors that their efforts were supported by Hitler, they were willing to participate after they were shown Hitler's personal letterhead and not the head of state letterhead. We suggest that it is within the realm of possibility that Hitler, as head of state, was not aware of the extent of the T4 program. It is also possible that Hitler, as head of the SS, was not aware of all actions authorized by Himmler.
We have discussed the Papal Religious Order that consists of the head of the order, the Pope, and the college of cardinals, previous to the twentieth century, called the Roman Senate.
We recall that there are three levels in the church hierarchy- deacon, priest and bishop. Any additional titles, such as metropolitan, cardinal or patriarch, are typically honorary or traditional and do not confer additional ecclesiastical authority beyond that of bishop. Cardinals are generally chosen from the bishops of the Roman rite, although priests and bishops from other rites can be chosen.
Although 95 percent of Catholics belong to one rite, the Roman rite, there almost twenty four additional rites that recognize the Pope as the head of their organizations. Since the early nineteenth century, the Pope has also held the title of bishop of Rome. Since 1929, the Pope has been the secular head of state for Vatican City.
Depending on the position of the pope, he can be speaking as the head of the Roman rite, the head of the Catholic church, the head of another rite, the head of the college of cardinals, the bishop of Rome or the head of state of Vatican City. It is also possible for him to offer his personal opinions.
We suggest that most protestants are ignorant of the many positions, religious and secular, the modern Pope occupies. Perhaps like the Allied prosecutors in re of the legal responsibility of war crimes, protestant commentators find the various possible positions of the pope too confusing to determine exactly in what capacity he is speaking.
We have no doubt that the ambiguity and uncertainty of papal proclamations is intentional, for the Popes, except for a single ex cathedra statement in 1950, never indicates exactly in what capacity he is speaking.
“Who am I to judge?” asked Pope Francis. As the vicar of Christ, the Pope has the power to judge, as a priest the power to bind and to loose, therefore, we must ask the reasonable question “Was he speaking as a private citizen?”
Ambiguity in the Roman Church is not limited to speaking and proclamations, but touches upon other aspects of the papacy. Saint Peter's basilica is often believed to be the seat of the Pope; as he is the successor to Saint Peter. However, Saint John Lateran is the mother church of Catholicism, that is, the seat of the bishop of Rome is Saint John Lateran. It is possible that Saint Peter's is the seat of the Pope, as the head of either the college of cardinals or the Papal Religious Order.
The holders of the Popal office has often been a member of one of the various religious orders, such as the Franciscans, Dominicans or Benedictines. Therefore, a Pope, if he is a member of an order, is subordinate to the head of the order, yet is the head of all orders. We can sympathize with researchers and commentators on the papacy who are confused by the lack of clarity regarding the hierarchy of the Catholic churches.
Of the approximately 5,000 bishops currently serving in the Roman church, over 90 percent can trace their episcopal lineage through the sixteenth century Bishop Rebiba. An older episcopal lineage, and comprising about two dozen bishops, is from a French bishop of the fifteenth century, d’Estouteville. Clearly, any Catholic claims to Apostolic succession are based on pious tradition, and not any available documentary evidence. The adherence to Apostolic succession precludes any modern ideas regarding the creation of bishops from Biblical authority alone.
Catholic is synonymous with universal or every where, therefore, while all the beliefs of the Roman churches and rites are universal, however, the various rites have different practices. We conclude that the second Vatican council did not change any beliefs, only their practices. Although after centuries of promoting good works for the faithful souls in Purgatory, the reluctance to discuss Purgatory since Vatican II can be misunderstood by those inside and outside of the Church as a change in beliefs. Perhaps the current lack of emphasis on Purgatory is due to the realization that since those souls are assured of salvation, there is no reason to emphasis good works to lessen the time of their suffering. Since the souls in Purgatory are assured of salvation, we are uncertain of how the mechanics of the Last Judgement will transpire. We have always imagined all of humanity, except for the Saints, before the dread judgment seat of Christ in a state of anxiety and apprehension. However, since those in Purgatory and certain protestants know that they will be saved on that day, it is ironic that the uncertainty facing Orthodox Christians regarding their fate will be shared with pagans, atheists and other non professing groups.