Just as a note to whoever thinks I don't understand what RCs believe about the Pope (which is, in my opinion, radically different from what several Popes of post-Caroligian periods have stated about themselves).
It is a relation of King (Christ) and Steward(the Pope). Since ancient times, and we see that even in the story of Joseph of Egypt, the lord of a house would give the keys of his treasury to a person of trust who administer it. In fact, one can reasonably argue that Joseph, in this respect, is a prefiguration of the primate as well.
However, there is an even better prefiguration of the role of the primate in the Old Testament, in the figure of Elliakin. Here is the passage:
And it was revealed in my ears by the LORD of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.
Thus saith the Lord GOD of hosts, Go, repair to this treasurer, even to Shebna, who is over the house, and say,
What hast thou here? and whom hast thou here, that thou hast hewed thee out a sepulcher here, as he that heweth him out a sepulcher on high, and that graveth a habitation for himself in a rock?
Behold, the LORD will carry thee away with a mighty captivity, and will surely cover thee.
With violence he will surely turn and toss thee like a ball into a wide country: there shalt thou die, and there the chariots of thy glory shall be the shame of thy lord's house.
And I will drive thee from thy station, and from thy state shall he pull thee down.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah:
And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.
And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.
And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house.
And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father's house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons.
In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall; and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off: for the LORD hath spoken it.
All the famous passage of Matthew breaths with reference to this. The donation of the keys. "I will pray for you to be steady", and so on. The keys as a symbols of a kind of governing power.
But the prefiguration shows more than RCs would like.
First, that this grace is *not* given in a irremovable way. Shebna before Elliakin had it, but lost it. Even Elliakin's privilege is foreseen to be lost in the future. Indeed,*when Eliakin abandoned his role as steward to put himself as king of Judah, under the name of Jehoiakim, by interference of Pharaoh*, among other things that brought great idolatry to the kingdom, he burned the prophecies of Jeremiah, in practice, though not in words, breaking apart with the Word of God and His people, and bringing about what had been foreseen, in spite of him being "fastened as a nail in a sure place":
28 "Take another scroll and write on it all the words that were on the first scroll, which Jehoiakim king of Judah burned up. 29 Also tell Jehoiakim king of Judah, 'This is what the LORD says: You burned that scroll and said, "Why did you write on it that the king of Babylon would certainly come and destroy this land and cut off both men and animals from it?" 30 Therefore, this is what the LORD says about Jehoiakim king of Judah: He will have no one to sit on the throne of David; his body will be thrown out and exposed to the heat by day and the frost by night. 31 I will punish him and his children and his attendants for their wickedness; I will bring on them and those living in Jerusalem and the people of Judah every disaster I pronounced against them, because they have not listened.' "
32 So Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to the scribe Baruch son of Neriah, and as Jeremiah dictated, Baruch wrote on it all the words of the scroll that Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. And many similar words were added to them.
What God is telling us in this prefiguration is that, indeed, the prerrogatives of the Primate are high. But it does not belong to any person in particular. It was taken from Shebna to be given to Eliakin and later were taken from Eliakin as well. This is, my friends, Orthodox Catholic ecclesiology. The Primate was first Rome, now it is Constantinople and in the future, should Constantinople fall, could be Antioch, Alexandria or any other Patriarchal see.
The problem is that - despite not being said with these words, nor thus explicitily believed by RCs - they do *act* as if there was an "ontological" identity between the role of "steward of the King before the Church" and the role (not the person) of the Roman pope.
Because this remains unsaid but it is acted upon, worse "beasts" are raised in that silent realm. The role of the steward substitutes the role of the king himself. The other "officials" of the kingdom are seen to have their authority not from the king directly, but from the king *through* the steward. The steward is visible and the king is invisible.
I, particularly, do not think it is too odd, that we see, side by side to Orthodox statements about the primate as steward of the King in the Church, statements of absolute power as we saw in many Popes and others more ambiguous today that depend on "context".
The Caroligians, as a clan, used to be the stewards of the previous dinasty, the Merovingians. More and more, the stewards assumed roles of the kings, even going to war, being the "visible authority" while the "invisible king" remained in the castle. The "visible head" of the kingdom carried all the signs given by the "invisible king" and were ever more ruling the kingdom not in name of the king, but in name of themselves.
At last, Pepin, the Short, pressed the Pope asking if it was right that there was a powerless king. This way, he became the first Caroligian king. His son was Charlesmagne, who played more or less the same cards but with higher bets since the Emperor of the Roman Empire was, for the West, an "invisible king", thus allowing himself to play the role of the "visible head" in practice, although he never actually used the imperial titles. Much like papal discourse soon later, he would refrain from claiming a perfect identity with the emperor, but would reclaim all the related authority from those under his control.
Again, in my opinion, this "caroligian virus" is what contaminated Rome and eventually led to its fall away from the Church. The steward more and more seeks power de facto
that is proper to the King while vehemently denying in all de jure
instances to assume it, until he has in practice usurped it and needs only an "authority" to letigitimize it socially.