Scholar in CNN Series 'Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History' Aims to Dispel Myths About Papacy

Bishops waits under umbrellas before Pope Francis opens a Catholic Holy Year, or Jubilee, in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, December 8, 2015. | (Photo: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)

The history of the papacy will be the focus of a six-part CNN series starting Sunday that one scholar says will dispel some of the myths people believe about the Roman Catholic Church.

Actor Liam Neeson will narrate the series, "Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History," which will reportedly show never before seen footage and share historic accounts about past popes.

Anthea Butler, the graduate chair and associate professor of Religious and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, believes it's important for people to learn about the history of the papacy and what the men who became the head of the Roman Catholic Church achieved.

Butler will lend her commentary to the series and believes it will be compelling for not only Catholics, but Christians of all denominations and nonbelievers who are interested in history.

"A series about the pope helps people understand a couple of things," Butler told The Christian Post. "One, the papacy is not just about a religious figure, it's about a figure that's important to politics and government. The Vatican is a government, basically. Secondarily, I think it's important for people to see the history.

"Christians know the pope is not just a part of the Catholic Church, it's a part of their history, too," she added. 

Butler told CP she hopes that some of the misconceptions people have about the head of the Roman Catholic Church don't deter them from watching the series.

Speaking about misconceptions, Butler said some people believe "that the pope is sort of groups of people, that there's some kind of conspiracy about the papacy and that it's really some kind of secret organization. I think the biggest one is that the pope is an operative of the Antichrist or something like that. Those are the kinds of things that I want to push back on."

While the series aims to dispel some of the myths about the Roman Catholic Church, it will also examine how the Catholicism spread throughout Europe, the foundations of the Protestant Reformation, and how the Jesuits were formed. It will also allow viewers to "go inside the Vatican to reveal how popes have used their power to shape the course of world history," CNN says. 

Neeson said he wanted to lend his voice to the project because he was raised as a Catholic in Ireland.

"I was brought up Catholic in Ireland, so the church featured quite heavily in our household. I was an altar boy as a kid, and had early fantasies of being a priest for several months," Neeson said in an interview with CNN that aired Thursday. "I was made aware from an early age of the pope being the head of the Church and who would make pronouncements ('ex cathedra') that would be ordained in Heaven as on Earth. That's some power! He had to be someone very special.

"So I jumped at the chance to lend my voice to this extraordinary series. It was in my blood, so to speak."

"Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History" airs at 10 p.m. EST on Sundays starting March 11.


Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Free Religious Freedom Updates

Join thousands of others to get the FREEDOM POST newsletter for free, sent twice a week from The Christian Post.

Most Popular

Free Religious Freedom Updates

A religious liberty newsletter that is a must-read for people of faith.

More In Entertainment