Listers, priests and bishops having been erring as long as humans have occupied those offices. However, the quotes that most strongly articulate this truth are shrouded in ambiguity regarding their primary sources. SPL has complied the most common germane quotes shared on Catholic blogs and given a citation for each one – often clarifying a misquote or giving context for an attributed quote. Please feel free to add any other quotes that complement this list or help articulate the sources.

 

“The road to Hell is paved with the bones of priests and monks, and the skulls of bishops are the lamp posts that light the path.”

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“The road to hell is paved with the skulls of erring priests, with bishops as their signposts.”
St. John Chrysostom attributed.1

 

“I do not think there are many among Bishops that will be saved, but many more that perish.”
St. John Chrysostom, Extract from St. John Chrysostom, Homily III on Acts 1:12.2

 

“The floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.”
St. Athanasius, Council of Nicaea, AD 325 attributed.3

 

“The road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.”
Saint John Eudes, attributed.4

 

“It must be observed, however, that if the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly.”
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica II, II, q. 33, a. 45

 

“Augustine says in his Rule: ‘Show mercy not only to yourselves, but also to him who, being in the higher position among you, is therefore in greater danger.’ But fraternal correction is a work of mercy. Therefore even prelates ought to be corrected.”
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica II, II, q. 33, a. 4, Sed Contra.

 

“It is better that scandals arise than the truth be suppressed.”
Pope St. Gregory the Great 6

 

“But, when necessity compels, not those only who are invested with power of rule are bound to safeguard the integrity of faith, but, as St. Thomas maintains: ‘Each one is under obligation to show forth his faith, either to instruct and encourage others of the faithful, or to repel the attacks of unbelievers.’”
Pope Leo XIII7

 

  1. Chrysostom Quote: Ole “Golden-mouth” is the primary recipient of the attributed quote. The origin of the actual quote is obscure, but several theories abound. The most interesting are that the flourishing rhetoric of St. Chrysostom and Dantean imagery came together in the Middle Ages or that the quote was actually a misrepresentation of Chrysostom’s words from the protestant leader John Wesley. SOURCE []
  2. Chrysostom 2nd Quote: Homily III on Acts 1:12 []
  3. Athanasius Quote: Attributing the quote to Athanasius is a natural connection given the fact the man fought against the heresy of Arianism – a heresy that is estimated to have swallowed almost 80% of the Catholic bishops. []
  4. Eudes Quote: It is believed that St. Eudes is referencing the quote in the belief it was said by St. Athanasius []
  5. Aquinas Quote: The quote is also often cited as,”When there is an imminent danger for the Faith, Prelates must be questioned, even publicly, by their subjects.” The entire fourth article of the cited question addresses the issue of “Whether a man is bound to correct his prelate?” []
  6. Gregory Quote: While prolifically quoted amongst blogs and Catholic debates, a source for this quote is elusive. If any listers can furnish a source and a citation, SPL would appreciate it. []
  7. Pope Leo Quote: The quote is taken from SAPIENTIAE CHRISTIANAE and is often quoted on Catholic blogs as: “when circumstances make it necessary, it is not prelates alone who have to watch over the integrity of the faith.” []