See this legally free ebook:
- The Supremacy of the Apostolic See in the Church, by Very Rev. Franz Hettinger, translated with Preface by Most Rev. George Porter, S.J. (London: Burns & Oates; New York: Catholic Publication Society). Available in various formats at Internet Archive and Open Library, as well as at Forgotten Books.
On the Feast of Pope St. Leo IX; and on the anniversary of the election of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) as Bishop of Rome. For other legally free ebooks, you may access the List of Free eBooks (Arranged by Title) and the List of Free eBooks (Grouped by Subject). From the text:
“‘The one absolute free ruler in the Church’, says Bellarmine, ‘is Christ… If we compare the Pope with Christ he does not possess the plenitude of authority, but only a portion of it and such a portion as Christ gave him. The Pope cannot change the laws of Christ: he cannot institute Sacraments: he cannot forgive sins without the Sacraments’… That monarch is absolute in the true sense who is not controlled in his government by contract, by usage, by right and recognises as the rule of his administration the end and the welfare of his political community. In this sense the Pope is not absolute.
“A Memorial of the Pope Pius VII says: In the nature and institution of the Catholic Church the Pope recognises certain limits which he cannot transgress without betraying his conscience and without abusing the supreme authority confided to him by Jesus Christ to use for the building up of the Church, not for its destruction. The dogmas of faith are inviolable limits which the head of the Church may not pass: and although in the Church it is held the faith cannot be changed, but discipline may be changed, yet even in discipline the Popes have always observed certain limits and recognised the obligation not to admit innovations in certain matters at all and in other matters only when most weighty and imperative reasons required it.
“Hence the Popes never imagined they could introduce any change in points of discipline directly established by Jesus Christ himself or in points by their nature inseparably connected with dogma, or in points disputed by heretics to make good their innovations, or in other matters in which the Popes held themselves obliged never to allow an alteration on account of the consequences to the prejudice of religion or of Catholic principles, whatever advantages were offered them, or whatever punishments they were threatened with.” (pp. 57-58, formatting supplied.)