Religion: Demote the Pope?

An international Protestant leader has added a new item to the crowded agenda for ecumenical discussion between Protestants and Roman Catholics. Writing in the Journal of Ecumenical Studies, the Rev. Lukas Vischer, top staff theologian at the Geneva-based World Council of Churches, criticizes the political status of Vatican City, the 108.7-acre enclave in Rome where Roman Catholicism is headquartered.

Vischer says that King Louis XIV's purported remark, "I am the state," would "hardly be an exaggeration on the lips of the Pope," who is an absolute monarch in his postage-stamp realm. Vischer also argues that Vatican City's existence as a sovereign state...