The Pope actually thinks he is the Vicar of Christ!
I have not read the latest encyclical issued by Pope Francis, but this is just one more indication that he is taking his office and his calling seriously–and more literally than some of his predecessors.
I know that as do I, many Lutherans among others interpret Jesus’ words to Peter in Matthew 16 differently than do Roman Catholics, so that we believe Jesus gave the keys to his kingdom which empower the holder(s) of those keys to “bind and loose” (forgive sins) to the whole church. So we believe that they were not given to Peter alone and through apostolic succession to his successors Nor do we believe that when the Pope speaks ex cathedra that he is infallible.
Anyone who thinks that he (or she) is the Vicar of Christ believes that they are the Servant or Personal Representative of Christ on earth. That Vicar would also then take seriously the truth that this is God’s world over which we are to “exercise dominion” (not domination). That is, we are to be faithful stewards in, of, and for God’s world.
That this Pope takes that assignment seriously, and in so doing challenges us all to do so, is a true blessing and God’s own work. That is not to say that he is always right in what he suggests, but that he is right to believe and act as if this is God’s world.
That he has also challenged us to be more like the God who called Abraham and Sarah to be his servants so that “through them all the families of the earth might be blessed,” is further evidence of the same.
This Pope really thinks he is the Vicar of Christ. Good for him, and for the rest of us.