The “triple tiara” with which the pope is crowned at his coronation has not only a symbolic but also a practical political significance. It represents the threefold nature of the pope. He is (1) the supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church; and (2) he is a temporal ruler, free and independent of every other temporal, secular ruler upon earth; and (3) he is the supreme temporal ruler who reigns over all other temporal rulers, states, and nations by divine command. Thus it is that all spiritual powers and all temporal powers are brought together in one person, an absolute monarch of the entire world, the Vicar of Christ, the Bishop of Rome, the sovereign of the state of Vatican City.6
6 Albert Lévitt, Vaticanism: The Political Principles of the Roman Catholic Church (New York: Vantage Press, 1960), p. 41. Lévitt continues, “In a country where a papal state does not, or cannot, exist, the Roman Catholic Church says that the state should be by divine law a ‘Catholic state.’ In a ‘Catholic state’ the temporal sovereign of that state acknowledges that the Roman Catholic religion is the only true religion, that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true Church, that the pope is that spiritual head of that state, that the temporal head of that state should be, and is, a communicant in the Roman Catholic Church, and that the temporal head of that state owes his political allegiance to the pope in all matters that come within the meaning and functioning of ‘faith and morals’” (pp. 41-42).