On The Papacy: Part III

Part I, where I go over the official Church teaching.

Part II, where I go over the Biblical evidence.

Part III: The Papacy: A Look at the Biblical Case and the Apostolic Tradition of St. Peter, Vicar of Christ.

So, now we’ll the going through the Church Fathers and seeing what they had to say about the papacy. For this section, I will merely be posting the quotes with as little commentary as possible. These will only be those Church Fathers who wrote and were alive before the First Council of Nicea. These Church Fathers are part of a group called the ante-Nicean Fathers. Since many of my non-Catholic brethren believe that many of the “heresies” of the Catholic Church entered around the time of the First Council of Nicea, when Emperor Constantine enacted the Edict of Milan, I will simply restrict my search to those texts written before such a date.

“You will write therefore two books, and you will send the one to [Pope] Clement and the other to Grapte. And [Pope] Clement will send his to foreign countries, for permission has been granted to him to do so.” Hermas, the Shepherd I:2:4, 80 AD. [1]

This is considered to be a sign of papal authority because it is the Bishop  of Rome, who ultimately, has authority over what the Church may read.
“Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry.” St. Clement of Rome, The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians 44, 80-95 AD. [2]

While this does not mention the papacy directly, it does tell us that all of the apostles created successors and that this was entirely in their power to do.

“Ignatius … to the Church … which also presides in the place of the region of the Romans, worthy of God, worthy of honour, worthy of the highest happiness, worthy of praise, worthy of obtaining her every desire, worthy of being deemed holy, and which presides over love, is named from Christ, and from the Father,” St. Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Romans Greeting, 105-110 AD. [3]

“You have never envied any one; you have taught others. Now I desire that those things may be confirmed [by your conduct], which in your instructions you enjoin [on others].” St. Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Romans 3, 105-110 AD. [3]

“I do not, as Peter and Paul, issue commandments unto you.” St. Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Romans 4, 105-110 AD. [3]

This is the earliest statement about the papacy finding their root in Sts. Peter and Paul. Though, the apostolic lineage passes from St. Peter.

“For [Christ] called one of His disciples—previously known by the name of Simon—Peter; since he recognised Him to be Christ the Son of God, by the revelation of His Father: and since we find it recorded in the memoirs of His apostles that He is the Son of God.” St. Justin Martyr, Dialogue of Justin with Trypho 100, 100-165 AD. [4]

“You have thus by such an admonition bound together the planting of Peter and of Paul at Rome and Corinth. For both of them planted and likewise taught us in our Corinth. And they taught together in like manner in Italy, and suffered martyrdom at the same time.” Dionysius of Corinth, Letter to Pope Soter, 170 AD quoted by Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History II:25:8, 340 AD. [5]

“For from the beginning it has been your practice to do good to all the brethren in various ways, and to send contributions to many churches in every city. Thus relieving the want of the needy, and making provision for the brethren in the mines by the gifts which you have sent from the beginning, you Romans keep up the hereditary customs of the Romans, which your blessed bishop Soter has not only maintained, but also added to, furnishing an abundance of supplies to the saints, and encouraging the brethren from abroad with blessed words, as a loving father his children.” Dionysius of Corinth, Letter to Pope Soter, 170 AD quoted by Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History IV:23:10, 340 AD. [5]

“Today we have passed the Lord’s holy day, in which we have read your [Pope Soter] epistle. From it, whenever we read it, we shall always be able to draw advice, as also from the former epistle, which was written to us through Clement.” Dionysius of Corinth, Letter to Pope Soter, 170 AD quoted by Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History IV:23:11, 340 AD. [5]

This is important, because St. Dionysius of Corinth mentions that they (the Church in Corinth) read the letter of St. Pope Soter to them and also the letter of St. Pope Clement. This means that the bishops of Corinth considered these letters to be inspired, on the level with what we now call sacred scripture, and read them during the liturgy.

“From among these also arose Marcellina, who came to Rome under [the episcopate of] Anicetus, and, holding these doctrines, she led multitudes astray.” St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Irenaeus Against Heresies I:25:6, 175-185 AD. [6]

I add these kinds of quotes only for the fact that they list the bishops of Rome.

“Cerdo was one who took his system from the followers of Simon, and came to live at Rome in the time of Hyginus, who held the ninth place in the episcopal succession from the apostles downwards.” St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Irenaeus Against Heresies I:27:1, 175-185 AD. [6]

“Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter.” St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Irenaeus Against Heresies III:1:1, 175-185 AD. [6]

“It is within the power of all, therefore, in every Church, who may wish to see the truth, to contemplate clearly the tradition of the apostles manifested throughout the whole world; and we are in a position to reckon up those who were by the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches, and [to demonstrate] the succession of these men to our own times; those who neither taught nor knew of anything like what these [heretics] rave about. For if the apostles had known hidden mysteries, which they were in the habit of imparting to the perfect apart and privily from the rest, they would have delivered them especially to those to whom they were also committing the Churches themselves. For they were desirous that these men should be very perfect and blameless in all things, whom also they were leaving behind as their successors, delivering up their own place of government to these men; which men, if they discharged their functions honestly, would be a great boon [to the Church], but if they should fall away, the direst calamity.” St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Irenaeus Against Heresies III:3:1, 175-185 AD [6]

“Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.” St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Irenaeus Against Heresies III:3:2, 175-185 AD [6]

“The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome dispatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians… To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telephorus, who was gloriously martyred; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then after him, Anicetus. Soter having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth.” St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Irenaeus Against Heresies III:3:3, 175-185 AD. [6]

“For Valentinus came to Rome in the time of Hyginus, flourished under Pius, and remained until Anicetus. Cerdon, too, Marcion’s predecessor, himself arrived in the time of Hyginus, who was the ninth bishop. Coming frequently into the Church, and making public confession, he thus remained, one time teaching in secret, and then again making public confession; but at last, having been denounced for corrupt teaching, he was excommunicated from the assembly of the brethren. Marcion, then, succeeding him, flourished under Anicetus, who held the tenth place of the episcopate.” St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Irenaeus Against Heresies III:4:3, 175-185 AD. [6]

“For why did the Lord send the twelve apostles to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 10:6), if these men did not know the truth? How also did the seventy preach, unless they had themselves previously known the truth of what was preached? Or how could Peter have been in ignorance, to whom the Lord gave testimony, that flesh and blood had not revealed to him, but the Father, who is in heaven?” St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Irenaeus Against Heresies III:13:2,175-185 AD. [6]

“The Lord Himself, too, makes it evident who it was that suffered; for when He asked the disciples, Who do men say that I, the Son of man, am? …and when Peter had replied, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God; and when he had been commended by Him [in these words], That flesh and blood had not revealed it to him, but the Father who is in heaven, He made it clear that He, the Son of man, is Christ the Son of the living God. For from that time forth, it is said, He began to show to His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the priests, and be rejected, and crucified, and rise again the third day… He who was acknowledged by Peter as Christ, who pronounced him blessed because the Father had revealed the Son of the living God to him, said that He must Himself suffer many things, and be crucified; and then He rebuked Peter, who imagined that He was the Christ as the generality of men supposed.” St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Irenaeus Against Heresies III:18:4, 175-185 AD. [6]

“For the apostles, since they are of more ancient date than all these [heretics], agree with this aforesaid translation; and the translation harmonizes with the tradition of the apostles. For Peter, and John, and Matthew, and Paul, and the rest successively, as well as their followers, did set forth all prophetical [announcements], just as the interpretation of the elders contains them.” St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Irenaeus Against Heresies III:21:3, 175-185 AD. [6]

“And the presbyters preceding Soter in the government of the Church which you now rule— I mean, Anicetus and Pius, Hyginus and Telesphorus, and Sixtus— did neither themselves observe it [after that fashion], nor permit those with them to do so. Notwithstanding this, those who did not keep [the feast in this way] were peacefully disposed towards those who came to them from other dioceses in which it was [so] observed although such observance was [felt] in more decided contrariety [as presented] to those who did not fall in with it; and none were ever cast out [of the Church] for this matter. On the contrary, those presbyters who preceded you, and who did not observe [this custom], sent the Eucharist to those of other dioceses who did observe it. And when the blessed Polycarp was sojourning in Rome in the time of Anicetus, although a slight controversy had arisen among them as to certain other points, they were at once well inclined towards each other [with regard to the matter in hand], not willing that any quarrel should arise between them upon this head. For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp to forego the observance [in his own way], inasmuch as these things had been always [so] observed by John the disciple of our Lord, and by other apostles with whom he had been conversant; nor, on the other hand, could Polycarp succeed in persuading Anicetus to keep [the observance in his way], for he maintained that he was bound to adhere to the usage of the presbyters who preceded him. And in this state of affairs they held fellowship with each other; and Anicetus conceded to Polycarp in the Church the celebration of the Eucharist.” St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenaeus 1:3. [7]

“Therefore on hearing those words, the blessed Peter, the chosen, the pre-eminent, the first of the disciples, for whom alone and Himself the Saviour paid tribute.” St. Clement of Alexandria, Clemens Alexandrinus on the Salvation of the Rich Man XXI, 182-202 AD. [8]

“Marcus, my son, salutes you. Mark, the follower of Peter, while Peter publicly preached the Gospel at Rome before some of Cæsar’s equites, and adduced many testimonies to Christ, in order that thereby they might be able to commit to memory what was spoken, of what was spoken by Peter, wrote entirely what is called the Gospel according to Mark.” St. Clement of Alexandria, Fragments I:I, 182-202 AD. [9]

“And such a ray of godliness shone forth on the minds of Peter’s hearers, that they were not satisfied with the once hearing .. but with all manner of entreaties importuned Mark, to whom the Gospel is ascribed, he being the companion of Peter, that he would leave in writing a record of the teaching which had been delivered to them verbally; and did not let the man alone till they prevailed upon him; and so to them we owe the Scripture called the Gospel by Mark… the apostle [Peter] was delighted with the enthusiasm of the men, and sanctioned the composition for reading in the Churches.” St. Clement of Alexandria, Fragments IV:VII, 182-202 AD. [9]

“By a similar usage Babylon also in our (St.) John is a figure of the city of Rome, as being like (Babylon) great and proud in royal power, and warring down the saints of God.” Tertullian, Against Marcion III:13, 197-220 AD. [10] Also in Tertullian, An Answer to the Jews 9, 197-220 AD. [11]

“On the whole, then, if that is evidently more true which is earlier, if that is earlier which is from the very beginning, if that is from the beginning which has the apostles for its authors, then it will certainly be quite as evident, that that comes down from the apostles, which has been kept as a sacred deposit in the churches of the apostles. Let us see … what utterance also the Romans give, so very near (to the apostles), to whom Peter and Paul conjointly bequeathed the gospel even sealed with their own blood.” Tertullian, Against Marcion IV:5, 197-220 AD. [10]

“Again, He changes the name of Simon to Peter, inasmuch as the Creator also altered the names of Abram, and Sarai, and Oshea, by calling the latter Joshua, and adding a syllable to each of the former. But why Peter? If it was because of the vigour of his faith, there were many solid materials which might lend a name from their strength. Was it because Christ was both a rock and a stone? For we read of His being placed for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense. I omit the rest of the passage. Therefore He would fain impart to the dearest of His disciples a name which was suggested by one of His own special designations in figure.” Tertullian, Against Marcion IV:13, 197-220 AD. [10]

“Was anything withheld from the knowledge of Peter, who is called the rock on which the church should be built, who also obtained the keys of the kingdom of heaven, with the power of loosing and binding in heaven and on earth?” Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics 22, 197-220 AD. [12]

“And that they [the Heretics] at first were believers in the doctrine of the Catholic Church, in the church of Rome under the episcopate of the blessed Eleutherus, until on account of their ever restless curiosity, with which they even infected the brethren, they were more than once expelled.” Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics 30, 197-220 AD. [12]

“For this is the manner in which the apostolic churches transmit their registers: as the … church of Rome, which makes Clement to have been ordained [as a priest] in like manner by Peter.” Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics 32, 197-220 AD. [12]

“Since, moreover, you are close upon Italy, you have Rome, from which there comes even into our own hands the very authority (of apostles themselves). How happy is its church, on which apostles poured forth all their doctrine along with their blood! Where Peter endures a passion like his Lord’s! Where Paul wins his crown in a death like John’s where the Apostle John was first plunged, unhurt, into boiling oil, and thence remitted to his island-exile!” Tertullian , Prescription Against Heretics 36, 197-220 AD. [12]

“Thus publicly announcing himself as the first among God’s chief enemies, he was led on to the slaughter of the apostles. It is, therefore, recorded that Paul was beheaded in Rome itself, and that Peter likewise was crucified under Nero. This account of Peter and Paul is substantiated by the fact that their names are preserved in the cemeteries of that place even to the present day. It is confirmed likewise by Caius, a member of the Church, who arose under Zephyrinus, bishop of Rome. He, in a published disputation with Proclus, the leader of the Phrygian heresy, speaks as follows concerning the places where the sacred corpses of the aforesaid apostles are laid: ‘But I can show the trophies of the apostles. For if you will go to the Vatican or to the Ostian way, you will find the trophies of those who laid the foundations of this church.’” Caius of Rome, Disputation with Proclus, 198 AD, quoted by Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History II:25:5-7, 340 AD. [5]

“Victor, who was the thirteenth bishop of Rome from Peter, but that from his successor,” Caius of Rome, The Little Labyrinth, 211 AD, quoted by Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History V:28:3, 340 AD. [5]

“Be it known to you, my lord [James, Bishop of Jerusalem], that Simon, who, for the sake of the true faith, and the most sure foundation of his doctrine, was set apart to be the foundation of the Church, and for this end was by Jesus Himself, with His truthful mouth, named Peter,” Pseudo-Clement, Letter of Clement to James 1, 221 AD. [13]

This letter is falsely attributed to St. Pope Clement, and we don’t know the true author. I have included it here, not because I believe that it is a legitimate Church Father, but because it portrays the beliefs of the Church at the time.

“[Simon Peter to Simon Magus] For in direct opposition to me, who am a firm rock, the foundation of the Church, you now stand.” Pseudo-Clement, Clementine Homilies XVII:19, 221 AD. [14]

“Look at [Peter], the great foundation of the Church, that most solid of rocks, upon whom Christ built the Church [Matt. 16:18]. And what does our Lord say to him? ‘Oh you of little faith,’ he says, ‘why do you doubt?’ [Matt. 14:31]” Origen, Homilies on Exodus V:4, 248 AD. [15]

“And, indeed, if we were to attend carefully to the evangelical writings, we would also find here, and in relation to those things which seem to be common to Peter and those who have thrice admonished the brethren, a great difference and a pre-eminence in the things said to Peter, compared with the second class. For it is no small difference that Peter received the keys not of one heaven but of more, and in order that whatsoever things he binds on the earth may be bound not in one heaven but in them all, as compared with the many who bind on earth and loose on earth, so that these things are bound and loosed not in the heavens, as in the case of Peter, but in one only; for they do not reach so high a stage, with power as Peter to bind and loose in all the heavens.” Origen, Commentary on Matthew XIII:31, 248 AD. [16]

“There is easy proof for faith in a short summary of the truth. The Lord speaks to Peter, saying, I say unto you, that you are Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. And again to the same He says, after His resurrection, Feed my sheep. And although to all the apostles, after His resurrection, He gives an equal power, and says, As the Father has sent me, even so send I you: Receive the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins you remit, they shall be remitted unto him; and whose soever sins you retain, they shall be retained (John 20:21) yet, that He might set forth unity, He arranged by His authority the origin of that unity, as beginning from one. Assuredly the rest of the apostles were also the same as was Peter, endowed with a like partnership both of honour and power; but the beginning proceeds from unity. Which one Church, also, the Holy Spirit in the Song of Songs designated in the person of our Lord, and says, My dove, my spotless one, is but one. She is the only one of her mother, elect of her that bare her (Song of Songs 6:9). Does he who does not hold this unity of the Church think that he holds the faith?” St. Cyprian of Carthage, Treatise I:4, 251 AD. [17]

This is a powerful quote. In summary, St. Cyprian of Carthage is saying that if anyone does not align themselves with the successor of St. Peter, then they can not be saved.

“There is one God, and Christ is one, and there is one Church, and one chair founded upon the rock by the word of the Lord. Another altar cannot be constituted nor a new priesthood be made, except the one altar and the one priesthood. Whosoever gathers elsewhere, scatters.” St. Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle XXXIX:5, 253 AD. [18]

“Cyprian to [Pope] Cornelius his brother, greeting… that letters should be sent you by all who were placed anywhere in the province; as in fact is done, that so the whole of our colleagues might decidedly approve of and maintain both you and your communion, that is as well to the unity of the Catholic Church as to its charity.” St. Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle XXXXIV:1, 3, 253 AD. [18]

“Cyprian to Antonianus his brother, greeting. I received your first letters, dearest brother, firmly maintaining the concord of the priestly college, and adhering to the Catholic Church, in which you intimated that you did not hold communion with Novatian, but followed my advice, and held one common agreement with [Pope] Cornelius our co-bishop. You wrote, moreover, for me to transmit a copy of those same letters to [Pope] Cornelius our colleague, so that he might lay aside all anxiety, and know at once that you held communion with him, that is, with the Catholic Church.” St. Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle LI:1, 253 AD. [18]

Communion with the Pope, says St. Cyprian of Carthage, is communion with the Catholic (read: Universal) Church which itself is a communion with Christ.

“Moreover, Cornelius was made bishop by the judgment of God and of His Christ, by the testimony of almost all the clergy, by the suffrage of the people who were then present, and by the assembly of ancient priests and good men, when no one had been made so before him, when the place of [Pope] Fabian, that is, when the place of Peter and the degree of the sacerdotal throne was vacant.” St. Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle LI:8, 253 AD. [18]

“After such things as these, moreover, they still dare— a false bishop having been appointed for them by, heretics— to set sail and to bear letters from schismatic and profane persons to the throne of Peter, and to the chief church whence priestly unity takes its source; and not to consider that these were the Romans whose faith was praised in the preaching of the apostle, to whom faithlessness could have no access.” St. Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle LIV:14, 253 AD. [18]

“Peter speaks there, on whom the Church was to be built, teaching and showing in the name of the Church, that although a rebellious and arrogant multitude of those who will not hear and obey may depart, yet the Church does not depart from Christ; and they are the Church who are a people united to the priest, and the flock which adheres to its pastor. Whence you ought to know that the bishop is in the Church, and the Church in the bishop; and if any one be not with the bishop, that he is not in the Church, and that those flatter themselves in vain who creep in, not having peace with God’s priests, and think that they communicate secretly with some; while the Church, which is Catholic and one, is not cut nor divided, but is indeed connected and bound together by the cement of priests who cohere with one another.” St. Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle LXVIII:8, 253 AD. [18]

“Thus Peter, the first of the apostles, having been often apprehended, and thrown into prison, and treated with igominy, was last of all crucified at Rome.” Peter of Alexandria, Canonical Epistles 9, 306 AD. [19]

I add quotes like this in to show St. Peter’s death in Rome, as there are many that deny that such a thing happened.

“And while Nero reigned, the Apostle Peter came to Rome, and, through the power of God committed unto him, wrought certain miracles, and, by turning many to the true religion, built up a faithful and steadfast temple unto the Lord. When Nero heard of those things, and observed that not only in Rome, but in every other place, a great multitude revolted daily from the worship of idols, and, condemning their old ways, went over to the new religion, he, an execrable and pernicious tyrant, sprung forward to raze the heavenly temple and destroy the true faith. He it was who first persecuted the servants of God; he crucified Peter, and slew Paul.” Lactiantius, Of the Manner in Which the Persecutors Died 2, 318 AD. [20]

So, what do all these quotes from the Ante-Nicean Church Fathers tell us about the papacy? They tell us that the Pope has ultimate teaching authority (Hermas, the Shepherd; St. Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Romans; St. Justin Martyr, Dialogue of Justin with Trypho; Dionysius of Corinth, Letter to Pope Soter; St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Irenaeus Against Heresies; St. Clement of Alexandria, Fragments; Tertullian, Against Marcion; Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics; St. Cyprian of Carthage, Treatise; St. Cyprian of Carthage, Epistles) as well as ultimate disciplinary authority (Hermas, the Shepherd; St. Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Romans; Dionysius of Corinth, Letter to Pope Soter; St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Irenaeus Against Heresies; St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenaeus; Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics; St. Cyprian of Carthage, Treatise; St. Cyprian of Carthage, Epistles) and that his authority has primacy over the other bishops (St. Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Romans; St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Irenaeus Against Heresies; St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenaeus; Tertullian, Against Marcion; Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics; Origen, Commentary on Matthew; St. Cyprian of Carthage, Treatise; St. Cyprian of Carthage, Epistles; Peter of Alexandria, Canonical Epistles). It also teaches us the historic reality that Christ established his Church on St. Peter (Tertullian, Against Marcion; Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics; Pseudo-Clement, Letter of Clement to James; Pseudo-Clement, Clementine Homilies; Origen, Homilies on Exodus; St. Cyprian of Carthage, Treatise; St. Cyprian of Carthage, Epistles) and that he gave to St. Peter and his successors the keys to the kingdom (Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics; Origen, Commentary on Matthew; St. Cyprian of Carthage, Treatise), and that St. Peter has successors (Hermas, the Shepherd; St. Clement of Rome, The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians; Dionysius of Corinth, Letter to Pope Soter; St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Irenaeus Against Heresies; Tertullian, Against Marcion; Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics; Caius of Rome, Disputation with Proclus; Caius of Rome, The Little Labyrinth; St. Cyprian of Carthage, Epistles). It also teaches that salvation is impossible outside of communion with the Pope (St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Irenaeus Against Heresies; St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenaeus; Tertullian, Against Marcion; Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics; St. Cyprian of Carthage, Treatise; St. Cyprian of Carthage, Epistles). Also, papal infallibility (St. Justin Martyr, Dialogue of Justin with Trypho; Dionysius of Corinth, Letter to Pope Soter; St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Irenaeus Against Heresies; St. Clement of Alexandria, Fragments; Tertullian, Against Marcion; Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics; St. Cyprian of Carthage, Treatise; St. Cyprian of Carthage, Epistles) and his association with Rome (St. Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Romans; Dionysius of Corinth, Letter to Pope Soter; St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Irenaeus Against Heresies; St. Clement of Alexandria, Fragments; Tertullian, Against Marcion; Tertullian, An Answer to the Jews; Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics; Caius of Rome, Disputation with Proclus; Caius of Rome, The Little Labyrinth; St. Cyprian of Carthage, Epistles; Peter of Alexandria, Canonical Epistles; Lactiantius, Of the Manner in Which the Persecutors Died) are also mentioned quite frequently. This is the summary of what the Ante-Nicean Church Fathers teach about one of the oldest doctrines of the Church, that of the Papacy.

A summary of the points:
The Sacred Scriptures, in union with the Sacred Tradition of the Fathers, possesses overwhelming testimony to the veracity of the claim of the Catholic Church, that she has continued to protect and defend the true faith of Christ. We see that the official Catholic teaching on the papacy, perfectly lines up with scripture and that which the Church Fathers wrote. Faced with such evidence, we must then turn to the only Church which has protected the true doctrines of Christianity, from the Church’s infancy, to the present day.

[1] http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0201.htm
[2] http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1010.htm
[3] http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0107.htm
[4] http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0128.htm
[5] http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2501.htm
[6] http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103.htm
[7] http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0134.htm
[8] http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0207.htm
[9] http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0211.htm
[10] http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0312.htm
[11] http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0308.htm
[12] http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0311.htm
[13] http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf08.vi.iv.iii.i.html
[14] http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0808.htm
[15] Origen, Homilies on Genesis and Exodus, vol. 71 of The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation, trans. Ronald E. Heine. CUA Press, 2010.
[16] http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1016.htm
[17] http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0507.htm
[18] http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0506.htm
[19] http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0620.htm
[20] http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0705.htm

Part I, where I go over the official Church teaching.

Part II, where I go over the Biblical evidence.

All scripture citations taken from the NRSVCE, the official liturgical scripture sanctioned by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB)

Addendum: In all things I submit to the authority of the Church if I have misrepresented any aspect of doctrine or history.

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On the Papacy: Part II

Part I, where I go over the official Church teaching.

Part III, where I go over the teaching of the Church Fathers.

Part II: The Papacy: A Look at the Biblical Case and the Apostolic Tradition of St. Peter, Vicar of Christ.

Now, let us go through Sacred Scripture for the elements of this doctrine that find their root there.

“And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ (Matthew 16:17-19)” This is one of the strongest Petrine text that biblically shows the doctrine of the papacy, let’s unpack it.

“…‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. (Matthew 16:17)” Here, St Peter is being singled out by Christ, while regularly he speaks for the rest of the apostles, this is not that, Christ assures us. This is a revelation solely from the Father , blessed solely upon St. Peter.

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)” Peter is Greek for rock and so the sentence should be read as “you are Rock, upon this rock…”making it clear who is being referred to when Our Lord says ‘this rock’.

There is some contention about the genders of the words, saying that ‘petros’ means small rock and ‘petra’ means large rock. This in incorrect, as this distinction only exists in Attic (Classical) Greek, but the New Testament was written in Koine (Hellenistic) Greek which has no such distinction. [1]

Even if there were a distinction in the Greek words, it wouldn’t matter because Jesus and the Apostles spoke Aramaic. Greek was the lingua franca of the time, the language of business, writing, and science. But, most people had their own languages, and the Jews were not an exception. A few times in the epistles of St. Paul we read the Aramaic version of his name, ‘Cephas’ this is the transliteration of the Aramaic ‘Kepha”. So, what Christ would have said in Aramaic was, “But, I tell you, you are Kepha (Rock) and upon this kepha (rock) I will build my Church,”. This is the translation that St. Tatian records for us in the Diatresson 23:37. And this clearly shows the parallelism Christ is trying to establish between St. Peter being the rock and this rock being what Christ builds his Church on.

About this passage the Catholic Encyclopedia states, “He [St. Peter] is to be the principle of unity, of stability, and of increase. He is the principle of unity, since what is not joined to that foundation is no part of the Church; of stability, since it is the firmness of this foundation in virtue of which the Church remains unshaken by the storms which buffet her; of increase, since, if she grows, it is because new stones are laid on this foundation.”[2]

It is also through St. Peter, says Christ, who will ultimately grant the Church victory over her ancient adversary, Satan. Christ is granting to St. Peter, authority over issues that are solely Christ’s. St. Peter is the foundation stone of the Church, yet so is Christ (Acts 4:11; Ephesians 2:19-22; 2 Peter 2:4-8); St. Peter is come to destroy the works of the devil, yet so is Christ (1 John 3:8). Christ is establishing St. Peter as the principle of unity, stability, and increase in the Church; yet Christ is all these things and more for his Church. Christ is “therefore assigning to Peter, of course in a secondary degree, a prerogative which is His own, and thereby associating the Apostle with Himself in an altogether singular manner.” [2]

“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:19)” Keys are a symbol of authority, that is what is being granted to St. Peter here, authority over the Church. Then, the extent of this authority is shown, that whatever he binds is bound in heaven, and whatever he looses, is loosed in heaven. This is called the authority to bind and loose, and it is a rabbinical term.

The Jewish Encyclopedia says this, “The power of binding and loosing was always claimed by the Pharisees. Under Queen Alexandra, the Pharisees, says Josephus (“B J.” i, 5, § 2), ‘became the administrators of all public affairs so as to be empowered to banish and readmit whom they pleased, as well as to loose and to bind.’ This does not mean that, as the learned men, they merely decided what, according to the Law, was forbidden or allowed, but that they possessed and exercised the power of tying or untying a thing by the spell of their divine authority, just as they could, by the power vested in them, pronounce and revoke an anathema [curse] upon a person. The various schools had the power ‘to bind and to loose’; that is, to forbid and to permit (Ḥag. 3b); and they could bind any day by declaring it a fast-day (Meg. Ta’an. xxii.; Ta’an. 12a; Yer. Ned. i. 36c, d). This power and authority, vested in the rabbinical body of each age or in the Sanhedrin (see Authority), received its ratification and final sanction from the celestial court of justice (Sifra, Emor, ix.; Mak. 23b).” [3]

Here, the unique unification with prerogatives that belong to Jesus are present and move forward in this verse as well. St. Peter is granted keys and the authority to bind and loose, and Jesus already has these keys and the authority to bind and loose (Revelation 3:7). St. Peter is being granted the singular authority of Christ for the Church in Christ’s soon to come absence from the visible world.

There are three parallels to this event in other parts of Scripture, and we’re going to look at two of those:

“The proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. Pharaoh said to his servants, ‘Can we find anyone else like this—one in whom is the spirit of God?’ So Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has shown you all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command; only with regard to the throne will I be greater than you.’ And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.’ Removing his signet ring from his hand, Pharaoh put it on Joseph’s hand; he arrayed him in garments of fine linen, and put a gold chain around his neck. He had him ride in the chariot of his second-in-command; and they cried out in front of him, ‘Bow the knee!’ Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt. Moreover Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no one shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.’ Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-paneah; and he gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, as his wife. Thus Joseph gained authority over the land of Egypt. (Genesis 41:37-45)”

Jesus says, “flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven”; Pharaoh said, “Can we find anyone else like this—one in whom is the spirit of God” and “Since God has shown you all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you”. Jesus said, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven”; Pharaoh removed “his signet ring from his hand” and “put it on Joseph’s hand”. Jesus said, “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven”; Pharaoh said, “all my people shall order themselves as you command” and “without your consent no one shall lift up hand or foot”.

As one can see, the parallels are striking between these two passages, and just as Pharaoh said, “only with regard to the throne will I be greater than you” so likewise, Christ is exalting St. Peter so high that only in regard to Christ’s deity and enthronement on heaven is he greater than St. Peter now for a look at the next parallel:

“On that day I will call my servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah, and will clothe him with your robe and bind your sash on him. I will commit your authority to his hand, and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open. I will fasten him like a peg in a secure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his ancestral house. And they will hang on him the whole weight of his ancestral house, the offspring and issue, every small vessel, from the cups to all the flagons. (Isaiah 22:20-24)”

Jesus said, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church”; and Isaiah prophesied, “I will fasten him like a peg in a secure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his ancestral house. And they will hang on him the whole weight of his ancestral house”. Jesus said, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven”; and Isaiah prophesied, “I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David”. Christ said, “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven”; and Isaiah prophesied, “he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open”.

One can see these parallels between these passages. And in the same way that Eliakim was made to be father to all of Israel (“the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah”) and hold an office with succession, as Eliakim is succeeding Sebna (Isaiah 22:15). In the same way was St. Peter made these things. We are not going to look at the last parallel because it just repeats information we have already discussed elsewhere. For the curious reader it is Esther 8:1-8.

“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.’ (John 21:15-17)”

The Catholic Encyclopedia states, “The promise made by Christ in Matthew 16:16-19, received its fulfilment after the Resurrection in the scene described in John 21. Here the Lord, when about to leave the earth, places the whole flock — the sheep and the lambs alike — in the charge of the Apostle. The term employed in 21:16, ‘Be the shepherd [poimaine] of my sheep’ indicates that his task is not merely to feed but to rule. It is the same word as is used in Psalm 2:9 (Septuagint): ‘Thou shalt rule [poimaneis] them with a rod of iron’.” [2]

There is an interesting parallel between this ‘Petrine’ scripture and the other one in Matthew 16. In both, Jesus asks a question prompting an answer from St. Peter, and then blessing him with a singular unification of the prerogatives of Christ and St. Peter. Here, Christ establishes St. Peter as Shepherd of the entire Church, which Christ already is (John 10:1-18).

Some object to this interpretation and say that Christ in this passage is reinstating St. Peter to the Apostolic commission which he had lost by his three-fold denial. But, this doesn’t make sense because nowhere in Scripture does it make the claim that St. Peter lost his Apostolic commission, and when Christ was resurrected and gave the Apostles the authority to forgive sins (John 20:21-23) St. Peter gained the same authority as the others, so clearly St. Peter was not being reinstated into the Apostolic commission which he had never lost.

This is shown very well in the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15. So, it starts off with a problem, “Then certain individuals came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.’ (vs. 1)” This caused contention with Sts. Paul and Barnabas, “And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to discuss this question with the apostles and the elders. (vs. 2)” The missionary apostles , Sts. Paul and Barnabas went down to Jerusalem to see what this was all about, if this was really what the Church was teaching.

When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. But some believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and said, ‘It is necessary for them to be circumcised and ordered to keep the law of Moses.’ The apostles and the elders met together to consider this matter. (vs. 4-6)” So they initiated a council on this matter because it was causing division in the Church. Then in verse 7 it says, “After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them…” And he goes to give his teaching until verse 11. After St. Peter gives his teaching, the Greek word is “Ἐσίγησεν [Heh-sig-ais-ehn]” which in an aorist indicative which means that everyone became silent and stayed silent. After St. Peter gives his teaching, all debate is finished, the matter is settled.

Afterwards, Sts. Peter and Barnabas support St. Peter’s proclamation by sharing miraculous occurrences. And then St. James gives a speech to his Jewish brethren at Jerusalem, where he ties into what St. Peter has proclaimed, “My brothers, …Simeon has related …we should not trouble those Gentiles. (vs. 13-21)” as who were the ones troubling the Gentiles in the first place? James’ disciples. One can clearly see St. Peter’s primacy over the Church in this council, as well as his infallibility.

“Your sister church in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark. (1 Peter 5:13)” This statement from St. Peter is a code word for his dwelling in Rome. Babylon is used frequently in contemporary texts to mean Rome. Just like biblical authors renamed Jerusalem: Zion and Ariel (Isaiah 29), and modern authors named New York: Gotham (Washington Irving, Salmagundi (1807)), so many authors around this time used Babylon to refer to Rome, such St. John in the book of Revelation, the Sibylline Oracles, the Apocalypse of Baruch, and 4 Esdras. [4]

So, what do all these quotes and studies of the Sacred Scriptures tell us about the papacy? They tell us that the Pope has ultimate teaching authority (Genesis 41:38-39; Matthew 16:17) as well as ultimate disciplinary authority (Genesis 41:40-44; John 21:15-17) and that his authority has primacy over the other bishops (Genesis 41:40, 45; Isaiah 22:15, 21-22; Esther 8:8; ). It also teaches us the historic reality that Christ established his Church on St. Peter (Matthew 16:18) and that he gave to St. Peter and his successors the keys to the kingdom (Genesis 41:42-43; Isaiah 22:22;Esther 8:2; Matthew 16:19), and that St. Peter has successors (Isaiah 22:20-21). It also teaches that salvation is impossible outside of communion with the Pope (Matthew 16:18; John 21:15-17). Also, papal infallibility (Acts 15:7-11) and his association with Rome (1 Peter 5:13) are also mentioned. This is the summary of what the Sacred Scriptures teach about one of the oldest doctrines of the Church, that of the Papacy.

[1] http://www.catholic.com/tracts/peter-the-rock
[2] http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12260a.htm
[3] http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/3307-binding-and-loosing
[4] http://www.catholic.com/tracts/was-peter-in-rome

Part I, where I go over the official Church teaching.

Part III, where I go over the teaching of the Church Fathers.

All scripture citations taken from the NRSVCE, the official liturgical scripture sanctioned by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB).

Addendum: In all things I submit to the authority of the Church if I have misrepresented any aspect of doctrine or history.

On the Papacy: Part I

Part II, where I go over the Biblical evidence.

Part III, where I go over the teaching of the Church Fathers.

Introduction: The Papacy: A Look at the Biblical Case and the Apostolic Tradition of St. Peter, Vicar of Christ.

A friend of mine and companion in the faith in Christ, challenged me to provide evidence from Sacred Scripture for a litany of Catholic doctrines he thought were unbiblical. I have decided to devote some measure of research and study to gather information that may be useful to anyone, Catholic or not, in a greater understanding of the importance of the Bishop of Rome. Unlike my first post, I will only be gathering opinion from sources that have an imprimatur and a nihil obstat, as that means that the source does not conflict with Catholic doctrine, which is my aim in all things.

Part I: The Papacy: A Look at the Biblical Case and the Apostolic Tradition of St. Peter, Vicar of Christ.

I want to firstly bring what the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), which was promulgated by St. Pope John Paul II as a collection of all the doctrine of the Church, says about the papacy. There will be no commentary from myself , as I feel that the CCC speaks for itself.

Par. 85, “‘The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.’ This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.” [1]

Par. 194, “The Apostles’ Creed is so called because it is rightly considered to be a faithful summary of the apostles’ faith. It is the ancient baptismal symbol of the Church of Rome. Its great authority arises from this fact: it is ‘the Creed of the Roman Church, the See of Peter the first of the apostles, to which he brought the common faith’.” [2]

Par. 552, “Simon Peter holds the first place in the college of the Twelve; Jesus entrusted a unique mission to him. Through a revelation from the Father, Peter had confessed: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Our Lord then declared to him: ‘You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” Christ, the ‘living Stone’, thus assures his Church, built on Peter, of victory over the powers of death. Because of the faith he confessed Peter will remain the unshakeable rock of the Church. His mission will be to keep this faith from every lapse and to strengthen his brothers in it.” [3]

Par. 553, “Jesus entrusted a specific authority to Peter: ‘I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’ The ‘power of the keys’ designates authority to govern the house of God, which is the Church. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, confirmed this mandate after his Resurrection: ‘Feed my sheep.’ The power to ‘bind and loose’ connotes the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgements, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. Jesus entrusted this authority to the Church through the ministry of the apostles and in particular through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom he specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom.” [3]

Par. 816, “’The sole Church of Christ [is that] which our Saviour, after his Resurrection, entrusted to Peter’s pastoral care, commissioning him and the other apostles to extend and rule it…. This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him.’
“The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism explains: ‘For it is through Christ’s Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in order to establish on earth the one Body of Christ into which all those should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the People of God.’” [4]

Par. 834, “Particular Churches are fully catholic through their communion with one of them, the Church of Rome ‘which presides in charity.’ ‘For with this church, by reason of its pre-eminence, the whole Church, that is the faithful everywhere, must necessarily be in accord.’ Indeed, ‘from the incarnate Word’s descent to us, all Christian churches everywhere have held and hold the great Church that is here [at Rome] to be their only basis and foundation since, according to the Savior’s promise, the gates of hell have never prevailed against her.’” [4]

Par. 837, “‘Fully incorporated into the society of the Church are those who, possessing the Spirit of Christ, accept all the means of salvation given to the Church together with her entire organization, and who – by the bonds constituted by the profession of faith, the sacraments, ecclesiastical government, and communion – are joined in the visible structure of the Church of Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. Even though incorporated into the Church, one who does not however persevere in charity is not saved. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but “in body” not “in heart.”’” [4]

Par. 857, “The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles, in three ways: she was and remains built on ‘the foundation of the Apostles,’ The witnesses chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself; with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching, The ‘good deposit,’ the salutary words she has heard from the apostles; she continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles until Christ’s return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops, ‘assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Church’s supreme pastor’.
“You are the eternal Shepherd/who never leaves his flock untended./Through the apostles you watch over us and protect us always./You made them shepherds of the flock/to share in the work of your Son….” [4]

Par. 862, “‘Just as the office which the Lord confided to Peter alone, as first of the apostles, destined to be transmitted to his successors, is a permanent one, so also endures the office, which the apostles received, of shepherding the Church, a charge destined to be exercised without interruption by the sacred order of bishops.’ Hence the Church teaches that ‘the bishops have by divine institution taken the place of the apostles as pastors of the Church, in such wise that whoever listens to them is listening to Christ and whoever despises them despises Christ and him who sent Christ.’” [4]

Par. 863, “The whole Church is apostolic, in that she remains, through the successors of St. Peter and the other apostles, in communion of faith and life with her origin: and in that she is ‘sent out’ into the whole world…” [4]

Par. 877, “Likewise, it belongs to the sacramental nature of ecclesial ministry that it have a collegial character. In fact, from the beginning of his ministry, the Lord Jesus instituted the Twelve as ‘the seeds of the new Israel and the beginning of the sacred hierarchy.’ Chosen together, they were also sent out together, and their fraternal unity would be at the service of the fraternal communion of all the faithful: they would reflect and witness to the communion of the divine persons. For this reason every bishop exercises his ministry from within the episcopal college, in communion with the bishop of Rome, the successor of St. Peter and head of the college. So also priests exercise their ministry from within the presbyterium of the diocese, under the direction of their bishop.” [5]

Par. 879, “Sacramental ministry in the Church, then, is at once a collegial and a personal service, exercised in the name of Christ. This is evidenced by the bonds between the episcopal college and its head, the successor of St. Peter, and in the relationship between the bishop’s pastoral responsibility for his particular church and the common solicitude of the episcopal college for the universal Church.” [5]

Par. 880, “When Christ instituted the Twelve, ‘he constituted [them] in the form of a college or permanent assembly, at the head of which he placed Peter, chosen from among them.’ Just as ‘by the Lord’s institution, St. Peter and the rest of the apostles constitute a single apostolic college, so in like fashion the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, and the bishops, the successors of the apostles, are related with and united to one another.’” [5]

Par. 881, “The Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the ‘rock’ of his Church. He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock. ‘The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of apostles united to its head.’ This pastoral office of Peter and the other apostles belongs to the Church’s very foundation and is continued by the bishops under the primacy of the Pope.” [5]

Par. 882, “The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, ‘is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.’ ‘For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.’” [5]

Par. 883, “‘The college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, as its head.’ As such, this college has ‘supreme and full authority over the universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff.’” [5]

Par. 884, “‘The college of bishops exercises power over the universal Church in a solemn manner in an ecumenical council.’ But ‘there never is an ecumenical council which is not confirmed or at least recognized as such by Peter’s successor.’” [5]

Par. 891, “‘The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful – who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals…. the infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium,’ above all in an Ecumenical Council. When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine ‘for belief as being divinely revealed,’ and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions ‘must be adhered to with the obedience of faith.’ This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.” [5]

Par. 892, “Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a ‘definitive manner,’ they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful ‘are to adhere to it with religious assent’ which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it.” [5]

Par. 895, “…His ordinary and immediate authority over the whole Church does not annul, but on the contrary confirms and defends that of the bishops. Their authority must be exercised in communion with the whole Church under the guidance of the Pope.” [5]

Par. 899, “…Lay believers are in the front line of Church life; for them the Church is the animating principle of human society. Therefore, they in particular ought to have an ever-clearer consciousness not only of belonging to the Church, but of being the Church, that is to say, the community of the faithful on earth under the leadership of the Pope, the common Head, and of the bishops in communion with him. They are the Church.” [5]

Par. 1369, “The whole Church is united with the offering and intercession of Christ. Since he has the ministry of Peter in the Church, the Pope is associated with every celebration of the Eucharist, wherein he is named as the sign and servant of the unity of the universal Church…” [6]

Par. 1444, “In imparting to his apostles his own power to forgive sins the Lord also gives them the authority to reconcile sinners with the Church. This ecclesial dimension of their task is expressed most notably in Christ’s solemn words to Simon Peter: ‘I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’ ‘The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of the apostles united to its head.’” [7]

Par. 1462, “Forgiveness of sins brings reconciliation with God, but also with the Church. Since ancient times the bishop, visible head of a particular Church, has thus rightfully been considered to be the one who principally has the power and ministry of reconciliation: he is the moderator of the penitential discipline. Priests, his collaborators, exercise it to the extent that they have received the commission either from their bishop (or religious superior) or the Pope, according to the law of the Church.” [8]

Par. 1463, “Certain particularly grave sins incur excommunication, the most severe ecclesiastical penalty, which impedes the reception of the sacraments and the exercise of certain ecclesiastical acts, and for which absolution consequently cannot be granted, according to canon law, except by the Pope, the bishop of the place or priests authorized by them. In danger of death any priest, even if deprived of faculties for hearing confessions, can absolve from every sin and excommunication.” [8]

Par. 1559, “‘One is constituted a member of the episcopal body in virtue of the sacramental consecration and by the hierarchical communion with the head and members of the college.’ The character and collegial nature of the episcopal order are evidenced among other ways by the Church’s ancient practice which calls for several bishops to participate in the consecration of a new bishop. In our day, the lawful ordination of a bishop requires a special intervention of the Bishop of Rome, because he is the supreme visible bond of the communion of the particular Churches in the one Church and the guarantor of their freedom.” [9]

Par. 2034, “The Roman Pontiff and the bishops are ‘authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach the faith to the people entrusted to them, the faith to be believed and put into practice.’ The ordinary and universal Magisterium of the Pope and the bishops in communion with him teach the faithful the truth to believe, the charity to practice, the beatitude to hope for.” [10]

So, what do all these quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church tell us about the papacy? They tell us that the Pope has ultimate teaching authority (CCC 85, 194, 553, 882, 891) as well as ultimate disciplinary authority (CCC 553, 816, 882, 1444, 1462-1463) and that his authority has primacy over the other bishops (CCC 85, 553, 816, 862, 877, 879-885, 891-892, 895, 899, 1444, 2034). It also teaches us the historic reality that Christ established his Church on St. Peter (CCC 552, 881) and that he gave to St. Peter and his successors the keys to the kingdom (CCC 553, 881, 1444), and that St. Peter has successors (CCC 857, 862-863, 877, 879-884, 891-892, 895, 1369). It also teaches that salvation is impossible outside of communion with the Pope (CCC 816, 834, 837, 862). Also, papal infallibility (CCC 552-553, 891) and his association with Rome (CCC 85, 194, 834, 877, 880, 882-883, 891-892, 1559, 2034). This is the summary of what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches about one of the oldest doctrines of the Church, that of the Papacy.

[1] http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_PM.HTM
[2] http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P14.HTM
[3] http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P1L.HTM
[4] http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P29.HTM
[5] http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_P2A.HTM
[6] http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P41.HTM
[7] http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P4C.HTM
[8] http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P4E.HTM
[9] http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P4U.HTM
[10] http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P74.HTM

Part II, where I go over the Biblical evidence.

Part III, where I go over the teaching of the Church Fathers.

All scripture citations taken from the NRSVCE, the official liturgical scripture sanctioned by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB)

Addendum: In all things I submit to the authority of the Church if I have misrepresented any aspect of doctrine or history.

A Parallel Between Exodus and Acts

I was thinking recently about a neat parallel I found.

In Exodus, Israel obeys the commands that God gave them on the mountain (Exodus 25:9, 40; 26:30; 39:42-43). The Spirit of God comes in fire and cloud to fill the newly formed temple, that is, the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34,38). Israel cannot enter and the book ends (Exodus 40:35).

In Acts, the reconstituted Israel obeys the command that God, in the person of Jesus, gave them on the mountain (Acts 1:4-5). The Spirit of God comes in fire and wind and fills the newly formed temple, that is, the Church (Acts 2:2-3). This time, the presence of God is within men, and everyone is free to enter and this is the beginning of the book (Acts 2:38-39).

The Historic Apostolic Tradition of Church Discipline

As a Catholic, this answer regarding Church discipline is an apostolic tradition. It can be shown from the earliest documents to be used. And as the Church evolved and matured, so did our understanding of church discipline. I’m going to focus primarily on excommunication which is the earliest form of church discipline.

Excommunication is the means of the Church to establish the loss of communion with what is called the Communion of Saints, and as a result, from the spiritual benefits shared by all those in union with Christ as his Church. This means that excommunication, and indeed all forms of church discipline, can only be conferred on the baptized. “For what have I to do with judging those outside? Is it not those who are inside that you are to judge? (1 Corinthians 5:12)”[1]

There are of course other methods of Church discipline than excommunication, such as suspension for clerics, and interdict for clerics and the laity, irregularity ex delicto, and others. Excommunication is distinguished from these other forms of discipline because it is the removal of all rights of the Christian in the Church. The excommunicated do not cease to be Christians though, because the mark of their baptism is indelible. But they are considered exiled from the Church community. This exile is not indefinate and the Church desires it’s end as soon as the excommunicated individual repents of their serious sin.[1]

As I said, excommunication was begun in the early Church, firstly by the apostles. In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul rebukes the Church for allowing “a man living with his father’s wife (1 Corinthians 5:1)”. He tells them to excommunicate the man, “You are to hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 5:5)” St. Paul also spoke against having the Eucharist with anyone who called himself ‘brother’ but who was “sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber. (1 Corinthians 5:11)” Then he exhorts them to “‘Drive out the wicked person from among you.’ (1 Corinthians 5:13)”[2]

But, St. Paul, in this proclamation of judgment also expressed hope that in the end “his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 5:5)” St. Paul had a hope for later repentance and readmittance back into the community. He reaffirms this hope in 2 Thessalonians 3:15 and 2 Corinthians 2:5-11, but still sinners had to be removed as a wake up call for the seriousness of his sin.[2]

After 217 AD, Pope Calixtus used the keys of the kingdom to loose this original discipline of excommunication for every mortal sin and he introduced the doctrine of indulgences, which we don’t have enough time to get into here, but “basically it was the sinless Body of Christ tolerating or ‘indulging’ members who were not yet saints and were struggling to overcome repeated sins.” And there developed the distinction between living in a state of grace verses a state of mortal sin for Christians within the community. [3]

Later, around the fourth century, serious sinners who were seeking forgiveness and reentry back into the community of the Church were assigned to the ordo paenitentium, or the order of penitents. At the beginning of Lent the ordo paenitentium were liturgically excommunicated from the Church and assigned to perform a penance which would last until Easter where the bishop would formally lift the excommunication, absolve them of their sins (by the authority of Christ) and grant them reentry into the Church. It was around the seventh century that confession evolved from the public proclamation of sins during the Mass to the singular one on one that we know of today. And the lenten ordo paenitentium fell out of practice while penance became very popular throughout the Church for all of her members.[2]

Unfortunately, ecclesiastical authorities began to abuse excommunication and use it as a threat to extort money and information from parishioners. This abuse created a rift between the authorities of the Church and the laity. At the Council of Trent (1545-1563), all bishops and prelates were forced to use moderation in their use of discipline.[1]

“Although the sword of excommunication is the very sinews of ecclesiastical discipline, and very salutary for keeping the people to the observance of their duty, yet it is to be used with sobriety and great circumspection; seeing that experience teaches that if it be wielded rashly or for slight causes, it is more despised than feared, and works more evil than good. Wherefore, such excommunications which are wont to be issued for the purpose of provoking a revelation, or on account of things lost or stolen, shall be issued by no one whomsoever but the bishop; and not then, except on account of some uncommon circumstance which moves the bishop thereunto, and after the matter has been by him diligently and very maturely weighed. (Sess. XXV, c. iii, De ref.).”[1]

After this passage are other measures for the proper use of Church discipline upon her people. And, the Council of Trent was very effective in this matter. As the use of excommunication and other censures for means of coercing individuals has become delightfully rare. Because the Council issued a whole check and balance system, so that discipline might not be abused.[1]

With all the disciplines of the Church, not just excommunication, but excommunication especially; the idea is to awaken the sinner to the reality of the consequences of their actions and the eternal punishment of their crimes. Excommunication and Church discipline is not meant to lock anyone out of the Church, but to bring them about to a conversion and repentance. This line of thought is seen in canon 2272 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which speaks about the automatic excommunication for abortion.[2]

“The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.”[4]

“In all, while the Church imposes this severe penalty for just cause, she also remembers, ‘a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:17)’.” [2]

[1] http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05678a.htm

[2] http://catholicstraightanswers.com/what-is-excommunication/

[3] http://catholicbridge.com/catholic/indulgences.php

[4] http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a5.htm

All scripture citations taken from the NRSVCE, the official liturgical scripture sanctioned by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB)

Addendum: In all things I submit to the authority of the Church if I have misrepresented any aspect of doctrine or history.