Lamentabili: The 65 Errors of the Modernists Condemned by the Church

Listers, “there is no road which leads so directly and so quickly to Modernism as pride.” Pope St. Pius X fought with all of his heart and soul to defend the Church against the heresy of modernism. One of the gifts he gave Holy Mother Church was the Syllabus of Errors entitled Lamentabili Sane Exitu. As the traditionalist blog Rorate Caeli explains: “In a warm July day in 1907… the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition (which would be renamed simply as Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office in 1908) made public a list, a new Syllabus of errors against sane Catholic doctrine, by way of the Decree Lamentabili sane exitu, approved by Pope Saint Pius X. The heresy of Modernism was going to be successfully stopped and kept under control for several decades, and the glorious history of the Catholic Church during the first half of the 20th century would be built on the foundations of those papal measures of 1907: Lamentabili, the encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis (which would be published in September of that same year), and the motu proprio Præstantia Scripturæ Sacræ (November 18, 1907).”1 As an introduction to Pope St. Pius X’s fight against modernism, SPL has gathered together 12 memes that represent the best of his quotes in Restore All Things to Christ: 12 Memes on Pope St. Pius X with Explanations & Sources.

Following Rorate Caeli, SPL has included the headnotes of “one of the most well-known commentators of the Syllabus of Lamentabili, Monsignor Franz Heiner.” The good monsignor sets the sixty-five errors into seven distinct categories. The added headnotes are below in red. In addition, SPL has inserted a few footnotes where further context and reading may help more fully discern the modernist error.


 LAMENTABILI SANE EXITU

Pius X
July 3, 1907

With truly lamentable results, our age, casting aside all restraint in its search for the ultimate causes of things, frequently pursues novelties so ardently that it rejects the legacy of the human race. Thus it falls into very serious errors, which are even more serious when they concern sacred authority, the interpretation of Sacred Scripture, and the principal mysteries of Faith. The fact that many Catholic writers also go beyond the limits determined by the Fathers and the Church herself is extremely regrettable. In the name of higher knowledge and historical research (they say), they are looking for that progress of dogmas which is, in reality, nothing but the corruption of dogmas.

These errors are being daily spread among the faithful. Lest they captivate the faithful’s minds and corrupt the purity of their faith, His Holiness, Pius X, by Divine Providence, Pope, has decided that the chief errors should be noted and condemned by the Office of this Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition.

Therefore, after a very diligent investigation and consultation with the Reverend Consultors, the Most Eminent and Reverend Lord Cardinals, the General Inquisitors in matters of faith and morals have judged the following propositions to be condemned and proscribed. In fact, by this general decree, they are condemned and proscribed.

 

I. Errors 1 to 8: Attacks to the Magisterium of the Church, to its authority, and to the obedience it is owed.

1. The ecclesiastical law which prescribes that books concerning the Divine Scriptures are subject to previous examination does not apply to critical scholars and students of scientific exegesis of the Old and New Testament.

2. The Church’s interpretation of the Sacred Books is by no means to be rejected; nevertheless, it is subject to the more accurate judgment and correction of the exegetes.

3. From the ecclesiastical judgments and censures passed against free and more scientific exegesis, one can conclude that the Faith the Church proposes contradicts history and that Catholic teaching cannot really be reconciled with the true origins of the Christian religion.

4. Even by dogmatic definitions the Church’s magisterium cannot determine the genuine sense of the Sacred Scriptures.

5. Since the deposit of Faith contains only revealed truths, the Church has no right to pass judgment on the assertions of the human sciences.

6. The “Church learning” and the “Church teaching” collaborate in such a way in defining truths that it only remains for the “Church teaching” to sanction the opinions of the “Church learning.”

7. In proscribing errors, the Church cannot demand any internal assent from the faithful by which the judgments she issues are to be embraced.

8. They are free from all blame who treat lightly the condemnations passed by the Sacred Congregation of the Index or by the Roman Congregations.

 

II. Errors 9 to 19: False exegetic propositions, opposed to the divine origin of Sacred Scripture.

9. They display excessive simplicity or ignorance who believe that God is really the author of the Sacred Scriptures.

10. The inspiration of the books of the Old Testament consists in this: The Israelite writers handed down religious doctrines under a peculiar aspect which was either little or not at all known to the Gentiles.

11. Divine inspiration does not extend to all of Sacred Scriptures so that it renders its parts, each and every one, free from every error.

12. If he wishes to apply himself usefully to Biblical studies, the exegete must first put aside all preconceived opinions about the supernatural origin of Sacred Scripture and interpret it the same as any other merely human document.

13. The Evangelists themselves, as well as the Christians of the second and third generation, artificially arranged the evangelical parables. In such a way they explained the scanty fruit of the preaching of Christ among the Jews.

14. In many narrations the Evangelists recorded, not so much things that are true, as things which, even though false, they judged to be more profitable for their readers.

15. Until the time the canon was defined and constituted, the Gospels were increased by additions and corrections. Therefore there remained in them only a faint and uncertain trace of the doctrine of Christ.

16. The narrations of John are not properly history, but a mystical contemplation of the Gospel. The discourses contained in his Gospel are theological meditations, lacking historical truth concerning the mystery of salvation.

17. The fourth Gospel exaggerated miracles not only in order that the extraordinary might stand out but also in order that it might become more suitable for showing forth the work and glory of the Word lncarnate.

18. John claims for himself the quality of witness concerning Christ. In reality, however, he is only a distinguished witness of the Christian life, or of the life of Christ in the Church at the close of the first century.

19. Heterodox exegetes have expressed the true sense of the Scriptures more faithfully than Catholic exegetes.

 

III. Errors 20 to 26: False exegetic propositions, which falsify the origin and the intrinsic value of Divine Revelation.

20. Revelation could be nothing else than the consciousness man acquired of his revelation to God.

21. Revelation, constituting the object of the Catholic faith, was not completed with the Apostles.

22. The dogmas the Church holds out as revealed are not truths which have fallen from heaven. They are an interpretation of religious facts which the human mind has acquired by laborious effort.

23. Opposition may, and actually does, exist between the facts narrated in Sacred Scripture and the Church’s dogmas which rest on them. Thus the critic may reject as false facts the Church holds as most certain.

24. The exegete who constructs premises from which it follows that dogmas are historically false or doubtful is not to be reproved as long as he does not directly deny the dogmas themselves .

25. The assent of faith ultimately rests on a mass of probabilities .

26. The dogmas of the Faith are to be held only according to their practical sense; that is to say, as preceptive norms of conduct and not as norms of believing.

27. The divinity of Jesus Christ is not proved from the Gospels. It is a dogma which the Christian conscience has derived from the notion of the Messias.

 

IV. Errors 27 to 38: Denials of the most important dogmas of Christianity, related to the Person of the Divine Redeemer, to his Divinity, to his supernatural knowledge, to the expiatory character of his sufferings, Passion, and Death, and to his bodily Resurrection.

28. While He was exercising His ministry, Jesus did not speak with the object of teaching He was the Messias, nor did His miracles tend to prove it.

29. It is permissible to grant that the Christ of history is far inferior to the Christ Who is the object of faith.

30 In all the evangelical texts the name “Son of God” is equivalent only to that of “Messias.” It does not in the least way signify that Christ is the true and natural Son of God.

31. The doctrine concerning Christ taught by Paul, John, and the Councils of Nicea, Ephesus and Chalcedon is not that which Jesus taught but that which the Christian conscience conceived concerning Jesus.

32. It is impossible to reconcile the natural sense of the Gospel texts with the sense taught by our theologians concerning the conscience and the infallible knowledge of Jesus Christ.2

33 Everyone who is not led by preconceived opinions can readily see that either Jesus professed an error concerning the immediate Messianic coming or the greater part of His doctrine as contained in the Gospels is destitute of authenticity.

34. The critics can ascribe to Christ a knowledge without limits only on a hypothesis which cannot be historically conceived and which is repugnant to the moral sense. That hypothesis is that Christ as man possessed the knowledge of God and yet was unwilling to communicate the knowledge of a great many things to His disciples and posterity.

35. Christ did not always possess the consciousness of His Messianic dignity.

36. The Resurrection of the Savior is not properly a fact of the historical order. It is a fact of merely the supernatural order (neither demonstrated nor demonstrable) which the Christian conscience gradually derived from other facts.

37. In the beginning, faith in the Resurrection of Christ was not so much in the fact itself of the Resurrection as in the immortal life of Christ with God.

38. The doctrine of the expiatory death of Christ is Pauline and not evangelical.

 

V. Errors 39 to 51: Denials of the institution of the means of salvation by Christ through his Church, particularly the Sacraments, and of their efficacy.

39. The opinions concerning the origin of the Sacraments which the Fathers of Trent held and which certainly influenced their dogmatic canons are very different from those which now rightly exist among historians who examine Christianity.

40. The Sacraments have their origin in the fact that the Apostles and their successors, swayed and moved by circumstances and events, interpreted some idea and intention of Christ.

41. The Sacraments are intended merely to recall to man’s mind the ever-beneficent presence of the Creator.

42. The Christian community imposed the necessity of Baptism, adopted it as a necessary rite, and added to it the obligation of the Christian profession.

43. The practice of administering Baptism to infants was a disciplinary evolution, which became one of the causes why the Sacrament was divided into two, namely, Baptism and Penance.

44. There is nothing to prove that the rite of the Sacrament of Confirmation was employed by the Apostles. The formal distinction of the two Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation does not pertain to the history of primitive Christianity.

45. Not everything which Paul narrates concerning the institution of the Eucharist (I Cor. 11:23-25) is to be taken historically.

46. In the primitive Church the concept of the Christian sinner reconciled by the authority of the Church did not exist. Only very slowly did the Church accustom herself to this concept. As a matter of fact, even after Penance was recognized as an institution of the Church, it was not called a Sacrament since it would be held as a disgraceful Sacrament.

47. The words of the Lord, “Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained” (John 20:22-23), in no way refer to the Sacrament of Penance, in spite of what it pleased the Fathers of Trent to say.

48. In his Epistle (Ch. 5:14-15) James did not intend to promulgate a Sacrament of Christ but only commend a pious custom. If in this custom he happens to distinguish a means of grace, it is not in that rigorous manner in which it was taken by the theologians who laid down the notion and number of the Sacraments.

49. When the Christian supper gradually assumed the nature of a liturgical action those who customarily presided over the supper acquired the sacerdotal character.

50. The elders who fulfilled the office of watching over the gatherings of the faithful were instituted by the Apostles as priests or bishops to provide for the necessary ordering of the increasing communities and not properly for the perpetuation of the Apostolic mission and power.

51. It is impossible that Matrimony could have become a Sacrament of the new law until later in the Church since it was necessary that a full theological explication of the doctrine of grace and the Sacraments should first take place before Matrimony should be held as a Sacrament.

 

VI. Errors 52 to 63: Attacks on the divine foundation of the Church, of her essential constitution, and activities.

52. It was far from the mind of Christ to found a Church as a society which would continue on earth for a long course of centuries. On the contrary, in the mind of Christ the kingdom of heaven together with the end of the world was about to come immediately.

53. The organic constitution of the Church is not immutable. Like human society, Christian society is subject to a perpetual evolution.

54. Dogmas, Sacraments and hierarchy, both their notion and reality, are only interpretations and evolutions of the Christian intelligence which have increased and perfected by an external series of additions the little germ latent in the Gospel.

55. Simon Peter never even suspected that Christ entrusted the primacy in the Church to him.3

56. The Roman Church became the head of all the churches, not through the ordinance of Divine Providence, but merely through political conditions.

57. The Church has shown that she is hostile to the progress of the natural and theological sciences.

58. Truth is no more immutable than man himself, since it evolved with him, in him, and through him.

59. Christ did not teach a determined body of doctrine applicable to all times and all men, but rather inaugurated a religious movement adapted or to be adapted to different times and places.

60. Christian Doctrine was originally Judaic. Through successive evolutions it became first Pauline, then Joannine, finally Hellenic and universal.4

61. It may be said without paradox that there is no chapter of Scripture, from the first of Genesis to the last of the Apocalypse, which contains a doctrine absolutely identical with that which the Church teaches on the same matter. For the same reason, therefore, no chapter of Scripture has the same sense for the critic and the theologian.

62. The chief articles of the Apostles’ Creed did not have the same sense for the Christians of the first ages as they have for the Christians of our time.

63. The Church shows that she is incapable of effectively maintaining evangelical ethics since she obstinately clings to immutable doctrines which cannot be reconciled with modern progress.

 

VII. Errors 64 and 65: Calls for the “reform” of the Church.

64. Scientific progress demands that the concepts of Christian doctrine concerning God, creation, revelation, the Person of the Incarnate Word, and Redemption be re-adjusted.

65. Modern Catholicism can be reconciled with true science only if it is transformed into a non-dogmatic Christianity; that is to say, into a broad and liberal Protestantism.

The following Thursday, the fourth day of the same month and year, all these matters were accurately reported to our Most Holy Lord, Pope Pius X. His Holiness approved and confirmed the decree of the Most Eminent Fathers and ordered that each and every one of the above-listed propositions be held by all as condemned and proscribed.

 

PETER PALOMBELLI, Notary of the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition


Modernism is a most pernicious heresy, because it is not the corruption of a single orthodox belief; rather, modernism corrupts the believer’s mode of thinking, coloring everything a person believes with a heretical shade. Modernism has also been assumed into the general culture of modernity; thus, any individual born in the West is ingratiated into this heretical way of thinking – even from childhood. The worst part, however, is that since the Second Vatican Council, the Church – at least in the majority – has dropped her campaigns against modernism and has continued on as if it were a conquered thing of the past. In reality, modernism is probably the greatest threat to the Church and has claimed the majority of the faithful – not because they self-described as modernists, but because they are suffering from a disease no one has ever told them even exists. As Rorate Caeli states,  “It is painful to notice that so many of these errors (condemned by Saint Pius X under pain of excommunication, as he would expressly establish in the aforementioned motu proprio) persist to this day, and have become even dominant interpretations among ordinary Catholics, and especially among theologians, under the eyes of the successors of the Apostles: Kyrie eleison!”

 

Further Reading:

  1. Restore All Things to Christ: 12 Memes on Pope St. Pius X with Explanations & Sources
  2. 4 Steps to Understand the Crisis of Modernity
  1. Rorate Caeli: The Pascendi Centennial Year: 100 years of Lamentabili sane exitu. – All Rorate Caeli quotes are pulled from this article. []
  2. SPL Note: Errors #32-35 deal specifically with the identity of Christ and Christ’s own knowledge of that identity. For an example of an error, many held (and still hold) that Christ was not aware he was God or even aware he was the Messiah. His statements that would seem to import that he did know these realities were really Christ just speaking in faith. SPL’s HH Ambrose has written a detailed list walking the reader through St. Thomas Aquinas’ teachings on Christ’s knowledge. For example, in Scriptures, Christ as times seems to know everything, even what people are thinking, at other times, he seems to not know certain things only the Father knows, and finally, Scripture speaks of Christ “growing” in wisdom. How then do we properly speak of Christ’s knowledge as the Second Person of the Trinity with both a human and divine nature? See 8 Considerations on Whether Christ has Acquired, Infused, or Beatific Knowledge. []
  3. SPL Note: Regarding the papacy, SPL has submitted a 12 Step Biblical Guide to the Papacy & Infallibility. The list demonstrates that the Son of David, Christ the King, selecting a Vicar to watch over his Kingdom would have been an intelligible and arguably an expected move by a people, the Jews, who were expecting the return of the Davidic Kingdom. The concept of a Vicar of the Davidic Kingdom is deeply rooted in the Old Testament. []
  4. SPL Note: Unfortunately, this modernist error persists even today, and its pernicious character has led many astray. The premiere rebuke of this theory was submitted by Pope Benedict XVI in his (in)famous Regensburg Address. In short, His Holiness laid out three stages of “de-hellenization,” in which he showed the original Jewish and Greek culture that gave rise to the New Testament had been jettisoned by the West in three stages. Most important, the idea that there is a “pure” Hebrew faith apart from its historical context of a hellenized culture was a rallying cry for the Protestant Reformation – entire protestant heresies are predicated upon this modernist error. In fact, this modernist error is arguably one of the first errors and a foundation for many others. []

The 12 Step Biblical Guide to the Pope and Infallibility

The pope leads the King’s people according to the King’s laws and at times must clarify those laws so the people may continue to live in full adherence to the King.

Listers, the Office of the Papacy and Infallibility are biblical gifts to the Church. According to the Gospels, St. Peter – the first to be given the Office of the Papacy – was commissioned by Christ to be the vicar of the kingdom of God, to strengthen the faithful, and to be the chief shepherd of the Lord’s flock. In short, the Vicar governs the kingdom according to the King’s laws until the King returns. The following list is meant to demonstrate the strong biblical argument for the papacy, but it is certainly not an exhaustive list. Catholics should be weary of proof-texting – a subpar hermeneutic that seeks to support ideas by stringing together selective Scriptures – for a few reasons. First, Holy Scripture should always be viewed holistically. A single verse that can be tortured to read a certain way is not a legitimate reading of Scripture. The list at hand seeks to avoid proof-texting by offering a wide range of Scriptures from both the New and Old Testaments supported by historical and linguistic insights.

Second, Catholics embrace the Sacred Tradition of the Church. Piecing together an argument from Scriptures holds little weight if no Christian in the last two-thousand years has held it to be legitimate. For Catholics, there is always the historical and spiritual consideration of how the Early Church interpreted Scriptures. They lived in a biblical time and worked with the disciples of the disciples. In this context, it should be noted the Early Church undoubtedly held that the Bishop of Rome held a special authority in Christ’s Kingdom. He was the successor to St. Peter, the first Vicar of Christ; thus, the following argument is not simply a Catholic reading of Scripture, it is also the historical Christian reading.1

 

The Last Supper is a painting painted between 1496 to 1498 by Leonardo Da Vinci in the refectory of the Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie.
The Last Supper is a painting painted between 1496 to 1498 by Leonardo Da Vinci in the refectory of the Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

 

St. Peter Among the Apostles

 

1. What is an Apostle?

Before discussing whether or not St. Peter held a primacy among the apostles, the term apostle should be defined. The Hebrew word for apostle is shaliah, which is defined as an agent or legal emissary. The term agent in the context of shaliah, however, is richer than the modern concept of an ambassador or representative. The term denotes someone who comes with the same authority as the one who sent him. The person may delegate any task to his shaliah, his apostle.2

The Apostles received full authority and power from Christ to go forth with the mission of representing him. The apostles did not simply go out and tell people about Christ, they went forth with the power of Christ, e.g., casting out demons, after Christ’s Ascension, the power to forgive and retain sins (discussed below), . The requirements for the title apostles are (1) an encounter with the Risen Christ and (2) be personally commissioned.3

 

2. Did St. Peter Hold Any Honor Among the Twelve?

There are many small signs within the Gospel narratives that indicate St. Peter held an honored place among the twelve. When choosing his twelve disciples, Christ called St. Peter first and his interaction with Christ served as a the “original pattern of apostolic vocation par excellence.”4 Second, throughout the New Testament, St. Peter is named first when the disciples are listed, e.g., “And the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother…”5 Third, St. Peter is always among those disciples chosen for a particular event; thus, he is present with James and John at the Transfiguration and at the Mt. of Olives. In both instances, St. Peter is singled out from the other two.6 Finally, St. Peter was the only apostle to walk on water and delivered the homily on the first Pentecost.7

For these reasons – and Scriptures below – St. Peter held a primacy among the twelve and is known historically as the “Prince of the Apostles.”

 

St. Peter receiving the Keys of the Kingdom.
St. Peter receiving the Keys of the Kingdom.

 

St. Peter’s Vocation in the Gospel of St. Matthew

 

3. What Type of Kingdom did Christ Intend?

In writing his gospel to the Jews, St. Matthew draws heavily from the Old Testament in order to show Christ as the Jewish Messiah. One of the most important Messianic Old Testament concepts is the New Davidic Kingdom. King David is promised a descendent who would “rule forever” and sit on “David’s throne” forever.8  According to the Bible, Jesus Christ is a descendent of King David. He is referred to as the “Son of David.”9

 

4. What Office did Christ give to St. Peter?

St. Matthew records one of the most import pericopes in Scripture. First, St. Peter is singled out as the one among the twelve that correctly identifies Christ as the Son of the Living God. Second, Christ singles out St. Peter and gives him a unique vocation/office within the New Davidic Kingdom.

And Jesus came into the quarters of Caesarea Philippi: and he asked his disciples, saying: Whom do men say that the Son of man is? But they said: Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am?

Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven. Then he commanded his disciples, that they should tell no one that he was Jesus the Christ.

Christ changes Simon Bar-Jona’s name to Peter, meaning Rock and declares that it is upon this rock Christ will build his Church.10 In the Old Testament, God changing a person’s name signified a new vocation for that individual. Abram was changed to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, and Jacob to Israel. Simon Bar-Jona’s new vocation as Peter is to be the Rock for Christ’s Church. How exactly St. Peter is to fulfill this role of rock is expressed in a biblical understanding of the keys he is given.

 

5. Is St. Peter the Rock in the Original Language?

Before a discussion of the keys, certain protestant polemics that attempt to state St. Peter was not the rock in St. Matthew’s famous passage should be addressed. In Greek, Christ changes St. Peter’s name to Petros and then says upon this petra I will build my Church. The assertion here is that the two terms are distinct and St. Peter is consequently not the rock upon which the Church is built. There  are two main reasons this polemic is in error.

First, there is a distinction between the language Christ spoke and the language of the New Testament. Christ spoke Aramaic, which renders the passage, “That thou art Kepha; and upon this kepha I will build my church.” There is no distinction.11 This reading in the Aramaic is affirmed by the fact St. Peter is also called Cephas in the New Testament. The name Peter comes from the Greek petros/petra meaning rock, while Cephas comes from the Aramaic word kepha.

Second, there is a distinction in the Greek itself. First, even though Greek is an inflected language – meaning the form/spelling of the noun is predicated upon its function in the sentence – the distinction between petros and petra is not an inflection of the same word. They are cognates, meaning they are two words with the same root word. In the old Attic Greek, this distinction held a nuanced difference in the definitions; however, this nuance had disappeared by the time the New Testament was written. The New Testament is written in Koine Greek, which holds petros and petra to be synonyms.12 There is again, no discernible distinction between petros and petra.

St. Peter is the rock in both the spoken language and the written language of the New Testament. There are other protestant concerns that pivot on the misguided belief that only Christ may be referred to as the rock. This belief lends to a tormented reading of the text that asserts the rock is either Christ himself or St. Peter’s faith. First, the text is difficult to reconcile with these views as St. Peter is undeniably given the keys of the kingdom. He is the focus on the entire passage. Second, many forget that Abraham was also referred to as the rock of Israel. Isaiah 51:1-3 states, “Look to the rock from which you were hewn… look to Abraham your father.” The connection between Abraham and St. Peter only further solidifies the belief that St. Peter’s vocation is one of extreme importance – as both Abraham and St. Peter serve as foundations for the People of God.13

 

6. Are St. Peter’s Keys in the Bible?

One of the most intriguing aspects of St. Matthew’s passage is Christ giving St. Peter the keys of the kingdom. Since Christ is the “Son of David” and he sits on throne in the New Jerusalem, it follows that the keys must have a Davidic significance.  In examining the passage, it is clear that Christ is drawing from the Old Testament and perfecting a passage from Isaiah that speaks of a position within the Davidic Kingdom.

And I will lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder: and he shall open, and none shall shut: and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him as a peg in a sure place, and he shall be for a throne of glory to the house of his father.

The similarities in the Old Testament passage are striking. In both passages, a person within the Davidic Kingdom is given keys that come with the authority to open and shut or to bind and loose.14 Reading Isaiah 22 and Matthew 16 together, the office given to St. Peter appears to be one of a steward or vicar. The vicar is the person who governs in the king’s stead when the king is away. He does not have the authority to change the teachings of the king, but he does have the authority to enforce and clarify them. In King David’s time, his vicar would rule when David was off to war or some other errand. In our age, the Vicar of Christ, aka the Office of the Papacy, governs the Church according to Christ’s teachings until Christ the King returns for his Kingdom. Notice David’s Vicar has one key to open and close the earthly kingdom, but Christ’s Vicar has two keys: one for heaven and one for earth.

Another important aspect of the keys is their ability to “bind and loose.” The phrase is deeply rooted in the Jewish rabbinic tradition and denotes the power to set the boundaries of a community. The binding and loosing power Christ attached to the keys clarifies for the community what was right and what was wrong. As the steward governed King David’s House according to the King’s order, so too does the new steward of the Eternal King’s House govern according to the Eternal King’s order.

 

St. Peter’s Vocation in the Gospel of St. Luke

 

7. How does St. Luke describe St. Peter’s Vocation?

In the Gospel of St. Luke, Christ charges St. Peter with the role of confirming his brothers in the faith.15

And the Lord said: Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren. Who said to him: Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said: I say to thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, till thou thrice deniest that thou knowest me.

One of the comforts of being a Catholic is that Christ chose an imperfect man to be the first Pope. St. Peter fails time and time again. Note here, however, that it appears God has given up St. Peter to Satan as he did Job. St. Peter does fail and he betrays Christ three times, however, unlike Judas, St. Peter is able to discover grace and return to fulfill his biblical role. He returns and strengthens the brethren. Compare the St. Peter who denied Christ to the St. Peter who – again in a unique act – stood and delivered the homily at the first Pentecost.

 

St. Peter’s Vocation in the Gospel of St. John

 

8. What is St. Peter’s Vocation in St. John’s Gospel?

The Gospel of St. John records St. Peter’s vocation in terms of a chief shepherd. Take note of the threefold commission given to St. Peter. The thrice nature of the commission has both a ancient juridical element and hearkens back to St. Luke’s description.16

This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to his disciples, after he was risen from the dead. When therefore they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter: Simon son of John, lovest thou me more than these? He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs.

He saith to him again: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. He said to him the third time: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved, because he had said to him the third time: Lovest thou me? And he said to him: Lord, thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love thee. He said to him: Feed my sheep. Amen, amen I say to thee, when thou wast younger, thou didst gird thyself, and didst walk where thou wouldst. But when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and lead thee whither thou wouldst not. And this he said, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had said this, he saith to him: Follow me.

First, notice that the vocation given to St. Peter is one founded on love and expressed in service. The threefold nature of the commission serves two purposes. First, St. Peter thrice proclaims his love for Christ, which corresponds and heals his three denials of Christ. Second, Christ asking St. Peter the same question three times in a row is a juridical formula. The threefold question was a solemn juridical rite that expressed the installation of an office or the transfer of authority.

 

9. How does the modern papacy reflect St. Peter’s biblical vocation?

Did the office of the papacy endure after St. Peter? Yes, if the role of the pope is to be the vicar in the King’s absence, then the office of the papacy endures until the King returns. The pope leads the King’s people according to the King’s laws until the King returns. Moreover, the Isaiah 22 passage that speaks of the Davidic key is in the context of one steward replacing another.

The pope’s authority is articulated in Holy Scripture. The pope strengthens his brother bishops and all Catholics in the faith by writing encyclicals and other works. He stands as an exemplar – hopefully – in faith, morals, and the liturgy. He is the Chief Shepherd watching over God’s flock.

He is the Rock that holds the Keys of the Kingdom. He may bind and loose. Historically, this authority has given us dogma. How many books should be in the Bible? What is the canon for the New Testament? What is the true identity of Christ? What is justification? All these questions have been confirmed at Council by the authority of the papacy. Even the core dogmas that the Protestants hold on to were defined and declared dogma by the Pope and the Church.

However, how does the Church know that these declarations by the Pope and the Church has correct? What if the Church erred in explaining Christ’s identity as fully man and fully God? What if the Church erred in the books of the New Testament? What if one of the hundreds of doctrines the Church declared was heresy was actually God’s truth? If the Church has erred, is she not teaching heresy? Have the gates of hell – despite Christ’s promise – prevailed? By what principle do we declare our faith in the decisions of the Church are correct?

 

A Western depiction of the Pentecost, painted by Jean II Restout, 1732.
A Western depiction of the Pentecost, painted by Jean II Restout, 1732.

 

The Gift of Infallibility

 

10. What is the Soul of the Church?

The concept of infallibility is predicated upon several key biblical concepts. First, the office Christ gave to St. Peter – the role of Vicar who guides, strengthens, and shepherds – second, the promise the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church, and third, Pentecost. In Pentecost we learn that the Holy Spirit is the power of the Church. Just as the soul animates the body, so too does the Holy Spirit animate the Catholic Church.17 The Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church.

The primary text associated with Pentecost describes the power of the Holy Spirit falling upon Mary and the disciples.18

And when the days of the Pentecost were accomplished, they were all together in one place: And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them: And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak.

With the power of the Holy Spirit upon him, St. Peter stands up and strengthens the brothers and shepherds the Church. “But Peter standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and spoke to them…” One of the undercurrents of St. Peter’s homily is the basic biblical principles that the New Testament is foreshadowed in the Old and the Old Testament is perfected in the New. The old Pentecost celebrating the harvests and the the Covenant at Sinai is perfected in the new Pentecost of the Holy Spirit and the Church. Similarly, the old Davidic kingdom has its steward, so too does the Davidic Kingdom have its steward.

The Pentecost in Acts – in which St. Peter gives the homily – demonstrates the Holy Spirit as the power of the Church. It is the power that fell upon the Apostles, Christ’s agents or legal emissaries. The Pentecost in St. John’s Gospel more fully demonstrates the unique connection between the Apostles, the Holy Spirit, and the governance of Christ’s Church.19

And when he [Christ] had said this, he shewed them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord.

He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.

St. John’s Pentecost is characterized by Christ breathing the Holy Spirit onto the Apostles. The act grants them the power – through the Holy Spirit – to forgive and retain sins, the biblical foundation for the Sacrament of Confession, inter alia. The two passages serve to demonstrate the Holy Spirit’s intimate role with the Church, and the latter passage more clearly indicates the instruments of the Holy Spirit are the Apostles. St. Peter then, stands unique among the rest, as he holds a special place among the Apostles – the Vicar of Christ.

 

11. What is the Gift of Infallibility?

The Gift of Infallibility is the belief the Holy Spirit fulfills Christ’s promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church. Infallibility is first and foremost a gift to the Church; however, like the gift to forgive and retain sins, the means by which the Holy Spirit accomplishes this gift is the papacy and the magisterium of the Church. The promise that hell would not prevail was given by Christ in the same passage that he gives St. Peter the keys and renames him the Rock. The vocation of St. Peter and the promise hell will not prevail against the Church are intimately connected.

If the Pope is the Rock and he has the keys to “bind and loose,” what if the Pope was to lead the Church into error? What if the Pope at the Council of Nicaea would have submitted Christ was not fully God and fully Man? What if Pope would have allowed Gnostic books filled with errors into the biblical canon? The Pope and the Church – but never the Church without the Pope – has determined what is and is not Christianity. Many of these proclamations are still held by protestants as core undeniable tenants of the Christian faith. But by what faith do Catholics take these decisions? By what surety do Christians hold the doctrines of Christ’s Incarnation and the Trinity? Catholics take them on the faith that the Holy Spirit protects the Church and keeps her from error.

The Gift of Infallibility is a negative gift not a positive gift. It is a negative gift that prevents the pope from leading the Church into serious error. It is a gift of prevention and not of assertion. In other words, it is a gift of clarifying the faith, not creating the faith. Ultimately, it is the a gift to the Church preserving the Bride of Christ from the stain of adultery (idolatry). Call to mind the keys of the kingdom and the role of the vicar. The pope leads the King’s people according to the King’s laws and at times must clarify those laws so the people may continue to live in full adherence to the King.

 

12. How does Infallibility Work?

First, there are the councils that decided matters of faith. For example, the Council of Nicaea articulated the identity of Christ and the Council of Trent the doctrine of justification. Through the Holy Spirit working in the Church and the Chief Shepherd, the Pope, the Faithful may believe these doctrines have been defined infallibly. It is the Church and the Pope, but never the Church without the Pope.

Second, when the bishops of the world teach in unison with the Pope and the Sacred Tradition of the Church there is infallibility. A council may declare something, but then the bishops are charged with sharing that truth with their flock. When a bishop teaches the Faithful about Sacred Tradition there is infallibility. The sole belief that this doctrine has been given infallibly to the Church.

Third, there is when the Pope speaks ex cathedra or from the throne. An ex cathedra pronouncement declares a clarification of Catholic doctrine that is consistent with the faith of the Church, is universally applicable, and seriously tied enough to salvation to merit an extraordinary clarification. The Council of Vatican I (AD 1869-70) declared:

Therefore, faithfully adhering to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, to the glory of God our savior, for the exaltation of the Catholic religion and for the salvation of the Christian people, with the approval of the Sacred Council, we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman Pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. Therefore, such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the Church, irreformable.

Note that the Council did not invent a new papal power, but clarified an existing one.20 The papal infallibility is a Gift to the Church that is used to clarify longstanding doctrinal issues. For example, Pope Pius IX infallibly declared the Immaculate Conception of Mary on December 8, 1854.21 Similarly, the Assumption of Mary was dogmatically defined by Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950.22 Neither of these doctrines were invented in 1854 or 1950; rather, they were longstanding debates in the Church that the Pope felt were serious enough to merit an infallibly clarification.


Further Resources on Understanding the Papacy

  1. Early Church & the Papacy: SPL has three lists of quotes in this area – The Early Church in Jerusalem Followed the Pope: 7 Quotes from HistoryConstantinople: 25 Quotes from the Eastern Fathers on the Petrine MinistryRome is the Apostolic Throne: 24 Quotes from Alexandria, Antioch, and Cyprus. []
  2. Shaliah: In cross-referencing sources, the term was also listed as shali’ah and shaliach. For example, “The first shaliaḥ mentioned in the written Torah is Eliezer, who was sent by Abraham to find a wife for Isaac.” Source. []
  3. Apostles: First, there are always question about St. Paul referring to himself as an apostle. St. Paul did meet the Risen Christ and he was personally commissioned. Second, the “power” of the apostles is articulated throughout the article, but outside all the examples of them casting out demons, etc., look to the Pentecost of St. John’s Gospel, chapter 20. There, Christ breathes on the apostles and gives them the power to forgive and retain sins. []
  4. First to be Called: St. Luke 5:1-11, quote from Cardinal Ratzinger’s Called to Communion, 54. []
  5. St. Peter Listed First: Matt 10:2-4; Mk 3:16-19; Lk 6:14-16; Acts 1:13 []
  6. Transfiguration & Mt. of Olives: Mark 9:2-8; 14:33 []
  7. Walk on Water: Mt 14:28ff, also note St. Peter asked Christ how many times we ought to forgive (Mt 18:21) and his shadow healed people (Acts 5). For a whole list on this subject, see 13 Biblical Reasons St. Peter is the Prince of the Apostles []
  8. King David’s Throne: I Chron 17:14; Ps 89:35-36; Luke1:31 []
  9. Son of David: Matt 1:1-2; 9:27-29; Mk 10:47, 48) Christ, as the Eternal King, fulfills God’s covenant with David, because Christ will “rule forever” from King David’s Throne in the New Jerusalem. During the exiles of Israel, the people wrote with hope about the New Jerusalem and the Messiah that would usher in the New Davidic Kingdom; thus, any conversation about what is and what is not properly intended by Christ, regarding his Kingdom, must be couched within the template of the Davidic Kingdom. ((David’s Kingdom: Is. 9:6-7; 11:1-3; Jer 33:14-15, 17, 19-21, 26; Ps 132:10-14, 17; Luke 1:31-33, 68-71; II Tim 2:8; Rev 5:5, 22:16; Rom 1:3 []
  10. Name Change: St. Matthew 16:13-20, D-R. []
  11. Cephas in the New Testament: cf. John 1:42; I Cor 1:12, 3:22, 9:5. []
  12. Greek Petros/Petra: For a further discussion see 10 Reasons Christ Founded the Papacy and its citations on this issue; moreover, the entire discussion of St. Peter’s vocation from the Gospel of St. Matthew is drawn from the same article. []
  13. Abraham & St. Peter: Cardinal Ratzinger stated the following in his book Called to Communion, 56, “Abraham, the father of faith, is by his faith the rock that holds back chaos, the onrushing primordial flood of destruction, and thus sustains creation. Simon, the first to confess Jesus as the Christ and the first witness of the Resurrection, now becomes by virtue of his Abrahamic faith, which is renewed in Christ, the rock that stands against the impure tide of unbelief and its destruction of man.” []
  14. Keys in the Old Testament: The verse is Isaiah 22:22-23 D-R, but the entire passage is notable for discerning the vocation of St. Peter. For instance, the passage is actually taking the keys from one steward to the next. This detail is often used to combat those Protestant circles who affirm St. Peter had a unique role, but argue the role died with he died. []
  15. Strengthen the Brothers: Gospel of St. Luke 22:29-32 []
  16. Feed my Sheep: St. John 21:15-19 []
  17. Soul of the Church: In Latin the soul is anima which English derives words like animate; thus, the Holy Spirit as the anima of the Church animates all she does. []
  18. Pentecost: Acts 2 D-R []
  19. John’s Pentecost: Gospel of John 20:20-23 []
  20. Vatican I: Papal Infallibility, Session Four, Chapter Four. []
  21. Immaculate Conception:  Pope Pius IX in his papal bull Ineffabilis Deus. []
  22. Assumption of Mary: Infallibly declared in Munificentissimus Deus. []

58 Questions on Why the Catholic Church is the Only True Church of Jesus Christ

Since the Church can not err, it could never be reformed in its teaching of faith or morals. Those who say the Church needed reformation in faith or morals accuse Our Lord of falsehood and deception.

Listers, the following lesson is taken from the Baltimore Catechism. The Baltimore Catechism was the standard catechism for teaching the faith and catechizing children from 1885 to Vatican II. Its basic question-and-answer approach is the most natural learning style for the human mind and it simplifies even the most complex theological questions. All the lists taken from the Baltimore Catechism may be found here.

 

Further Studies on the Catholic Church as the One True Church

 

 

On the Attributes and Marks of the Church

 

Q. 517. What is an attribute?

A. An attribute is any characteristic or quality that a person or thing may be said to have. All perfections or imperfections are attributes.

 

Q. 518. What is a mark?

A. A mark is a given and known sign by which a thing can be distinguished from all others of its kind. Thus a trademark is used to distinguish the article bearing it from all imitations of the same article.

 

Q. 519. How do we know that the Church must have the four marks and three attributes usually ascribed or given to it?

A. We know that the Church must have the four marks and three attributes usually ascribed or given to it from the words of Christ given in the Holy Scripture and in the teaching of the Church from its beginning.

 

Q. 520. Can the Church have the four marks without the three attributes?

A. The Church cannot have the four marks without the three attributes, because the three attributes necessarily come with the marks and without them the marks could not exist.

 

Q. 521. Why are both marks and attributes necessary in the Church?

A. Both marks and attributes are necessary in the Church, for the marks teach us its external or visible qualities, while the attributes teach us its internal or invisible qualities. It is easier to discover the marks than the attributes; for it is easier to see that the Church is one than that it is infallible.

 

Q. 522. Which are the attributes of the Church?

A. The attributes of the Church are three: 1.authority, infallibility, and indefectibility.

 

Q. 523. What is authority?

A. Authority is the power which one person has over another so as to be able to justly exact obedience. Rulers have authority over their subjects, parents over their children, and teachers over their scholars.

 

Q. 524. From whom must all persons derive whatever lawful authority they possess?

A. All persons must derive whatever lawful authority they possess from God Himself, from whom they receive it directly or indirectly. Therefore, to disobey our lawful superiors is to disobey God Himself, and hence such disobedience is always sinful.

 

Q. 525. What do you mean by the authority of the Church?

A. By the authority of the Church I mean the right and power which the Pope and the Bishops, as the successors of the Apostles, have to teach and to govern the faithful.

 

Q. 526. What do you mean by the infallibility of the Church?

A. By the infallibility of the Church I mean that the Church can not err when it teaches a doctrine of faith or morals.

 

Q. 527. What do we mean by a “doctrine of faith or morals”?

A. By a doctrine of faith or morals we mean the revealed teaching that refers to whatever we must believe and do in order to be saved.

 

Q. 528. How do you know that the Church can not err?

A. I know that the Church can not err because Christ promised that the Holy Ghost would remain with it forever and save it from error. If, therefore, the Church has erred, the Holy Ghost must have abandoned it and Christ has failed to keep His promise, which is a thing impossible.

 

Q. 529. Since the Church can not err, could it ever be reformed in its teaching of faith or morals?

A. Since the Church can not err, it could never be reformed in its teaching of faith or morals. Those who say the Church needed reformation in faith or morals accuse Our Lord of falsehood and deception.

 

Q. 530. When does the Church teach infallibly?

A. The Church teaches infallibly when it speaks through the Pope and Bishops united in general council, or through the Pope alone when he proclaims to all the faithful a doctrine of faith or morals.

 

Q. 531. What is necessary that the Pope may speak infallibly or ex-cathedra?

A. That the Pope may speak infallibly, or ex-cathedra:

He must speak on a subject of faith or morals;
He must speak as the Vicar of Christ and to the whole Church;
He must indicate by certain words, such as, we define, we proclaim, etc., that he intends to speak infallibly.

 

Q. 532. Is the Pope infallible in everything he says and does?

A. The Pope is not infallible in everything he says and does, because the Holy Ghost was not promised to make him infallible in everything, but only in matters of faith and morals for the whole Church. Nevertheless, the Pope’s opinion on any subject deserves our greatest respect on account of his learning, experience and dignity.

 

Q. 533. Can the Pope commit sin?

A. The Pope can commit sin and he must seek forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance as others do. Infallibility does not prevent him from sinning, but from teaching falsehood when he speaks ex-cathedra.

 

Q. 534. What does ex-cathedra mean?

A. “Cathedra” means a seat, and “ex” means out of. Therefore, ex-cathedra means speaking from the seat or official place held by St. Peter and his successors as the head of the whole Church.

 

Q. 535. Why is the chief Church in a diocese called a Cathedral?

A. The chief Church in a diocese is called a Cathedral because the bishop’s cathedra, that is, his seat or throne, is erected in it, and because he celebrates all important feasts and performs all his special duties in it.

 

Q. 536. How many Popes have governed the Church from St. Peter to Pius XI?

A. From St. Peter to Pius XI., 261 Popes have governed the Church; and many of them have been remarkable for their zeal, prudence, learning and sanctity.

 

Q. 537. What does anti-pope mean, and who were the anti-popes?

A. Anti-pope means a pretended pope. The anti-popes were men who by the aid of faithless Christians or others unlawfully seized and claimed the papal power while the lawful pope was in prison or exile.

 

Q. 538. Why must the Pope sometimes warn us on political and other matters?

A. The Pope must sometimes warn us on political and other matters, because whatever nations or men do is either good or bad, just or unjust, and wherever the Pope discovers falsehood, wickedness or injustice he must speak against it and defend the truths of faith and morals. He must protect also the temporal rights and property of the Church committed to his care.

 

Q. 539. What do we mean by the “temporal power” of the Pope?

A. By the temporal power of the Pope we mean the right which the Pope has as a temporal or ordinary ruler to govern the states and manage the properties that have rightfully come into the possession of the Church.

 

Q. 540. How did the Pope acquire and how was he deprived of the temporal power?

A. The Pope acquired the temporal power in a just manner by the consent of those who had a right to bestow it. He was deprived of it in an unjust manner by political changes.

 

Q. 541. How was the temporal power useful to the Church?

A. The temporal power was useful to the Church:

Because it gave the Pope the complete independence necessary for the government of the Church and for the defense of truth and virtue.

It enabled him to do much for the spread of the true religion by giving alms for the establishment and support of Churches and schools in poor or pagan countries.

 

Q. 542. What name do we give to the offerings made yearly by the faithful for the support of the Pope and the government of the Church?

A. We call the offerings made yearly by the faithful for the support of the Pope and government of the Church “Peter’s pence.” It derives its name from the early custom of sending yearly a penny from every house to the successor of St. Peter, as a mark of respect or as an alms for some charity.

 

Q. 543. What do you mean by the indefectibility of the Church?

A. By the indefectibility of the Church I mean that the Church, as Christ founded it, will last till the end of time.

 

Q. 544. What is the difference between the infallibility and indefectibility of the Church?

A. When we say the Church is infallible we mean that it can never teach error while it lasts; but when we say the Church is indefectible, we mean that it will last forever and be infallible forever; that it will always remain as Our Lord founded it and never change the doctrines He taught.

 

Q. 545. Did Our Lord Himself make all the laws of the Church?

A. Our Lord Himself did not make all the laws of the Church. He gave the Church also power to make laws to suit the needs of the times, places or persons as it judged necessary.

 

Q. 546. Can the Church change its laws?

A. The Church can, when necessary, change the laws it has itself made, but it cannot change the laws that Christ has made. Neither can the Church change any doctrine of faith or morals.

 

Q. 547. In whom are these attributes found in their fullness?

A. These attributes are found in their fullness in the Pope, the visible Head of the Church, whose infallible authority to teach bishops, priests, and people in matters of faith or morals will last to the end of the world.

 

Q. 548. Has the Church any marks by which it may be known?

A. The Church has four marks by which it may be known: it is One; it is Holy; it is Catholic; it is Apostolic.

 

Q. 549. How is the Church One?

A. The Church is One because all its members agree in one faith, are all in one communion, and are all under one head.

 

Q. 550. How is it evident that the Church is one in government?

A. It is evident that the Church is one in government, for the faithful in a parish are subject to their pastors, the pastors are subject to the bishops of their dioceses, and the bishops of the world are subject to the Pope.

 

Q. 551. What is meant by the Hierarchy of the Church?

A. By the Hierarchy of the Church is meant the sacred body of clerical rules who govern the Church.

 

Q. 552. How is it evident that the Church is one in worship?

A. It is evident that the Church is one in worship because all its members make use of the same sacrifice and receive the same Sacraments.

 

Q. 553. How is it evident that the Church is one in faith?

A. It is evident the Church is one in faith because all Catholics throughout the world believe each and every article of faith proposed by the Church.

 

Q. 554. Could a person who denies only one article of our faith be a Catholic?

A. A person who denies even one article of our faith could not be a Catholic; for truth is one and we must accept it whole and entire or not at all.

 

Q. 555. Are there any pious beliefs and practices in the Church that are not articles of faith?

A. There are many pious beliefs and practices in the Church that are not articles of faith; that is, we are not bound under pain of sin to believe in them; yet we will often find them useful aids to holiness, and hence they are recommended by our pastors.

 

Q. 556. Of what sin are persons guilty who put firm belief in religious or other practices that are either forbidden or useless?

A. Persons who put a firm belief in religious or other practices that are forbidden or useless are guilty of the sin of superstition.

 

Q. 557. Where does the Church find the revealed truths it is bound to teach?

A. The Church finds the revealed truths it is bound to teach in the Holy Scripture and revealed traditions.

 

Q. 558. What is the Holy Scripture or Bible?

A. The Holy Scripture or Bible is the collection of sacred, inspired writings through which God has made known to us many revealed truths. Some call them letters from Heaven to earth, that is, from God to man.

 

Q. 559. What is meant by the Canon of the Sacred Scriptures?

A. The Canon of Sacred Scriptures means the list the Church has prepared to teach us what sacred writings are Holy Scripture and contain the inspired word of God.

 

Q. 560. Where does the Church find the revealed traditions?

A. The Church finds the revealed traditions in the decrees of its councils; in its books of worship; in its paintings and inscriptions on tombs and monuments; in the lives of its Saints; the writings of its Fathers, and in its own history.

 

Q. 561. Must we ourselves seek in the Scriptures and traditions for what we are to believe?

A. We ourselves need not seek in the Scriptures and traditions for what we are to believe. God has appointed the Church to be our guide to salvation and we must accept its teaching us our infallible rule of faith.

 

Q. 562. How do we show that the Holy Scriptures alone could not be our guide to salvation and infallible rule of faith?

A. We show that the Holy Scripture alone could not be our guide to salvation and infallible rule of faith:

Because all men cannot examine or understand the Holy Scripture; but all can listen to the teaching of the Church;
Because the New Testament or Christian part of the Scripture was not written at the beginning of the Church’s existence, and, therefore, could not have been used as the rule of faith by the first Christians;
Because there are many things in the Holy Scripture that cannot be understood without the explanation given by tradition, and hence those who take the Scripture alone for their rule of faith are constantly disputing about its meaning and what they are to believe.

 

Q. 563. How is the Church Holy?

A. The Church is Holy because its founder, Jesus Christ, is holy; because it teaches a holy doctrine; invites all to a holy life; and because of the eminent holiness of so many thousands of its children.

 

Q. 564. How is the Church Catholic or universal?

A. The Church is Catholic or universal because it subsists in all ages, teaches all nations, and maintains all truth.

 

Q. 565. How do you show that the Catholic Church is universal in time, in place, and in doctrine?

A.

The Catholic Church is universal in time, for from the time of the Apostles to the present it has existed, taught and labored in every age;
It is universal in place, for it has taught throughout the whole world;
It is universal in doctrine, for it teaches the same everywhere, and its doctrines are suited to all classes of persons. It has converted all the pagan nations that have ever been converted.

 

Q. 566. Why does the Church use the Latin language instead of the national language of its children?

A. The Church uses the Latin language instead of the national language of its children:

To avoid the danger of changing any part of its teaching in using different languages;
That all its rulers may be perfectly united and understood in their communications;
To show that the Church is not an institute of any particular nation, but the guide of all nations.

 

Q. 567. How is the Church Apostolic?

A. The Church is Apostolic because it was founded by Christ on His Apostles, and is governed by their lawful successors, and because it has never ceased, and never will cease, to teach their doctrine.

 

Q. 568. Does the Church, by defining certain truths, thereby make new doctrines?

A. The Church, by defining, that is, by proclaiming certain truths, articles of faith, does not make new doctrines, but simply teaches more clearly and with greater effort truths that have always been believed and held by the Church.

 

Q. 569. What, then, is the use of defining or declaring a truth an article of faith if it has always been believed?

A. The use of defining or declaring a truth an article of faith, even when it has always been believed, is: (1) To clearly contradict those who deny it and show their teaching false; (2) To remove all doubt about the exact teaching of the Church, and to put an end to all discussion about the truth defined.

 

Q. 570. In which Church are these attributes and marks found?

A. These attributes and marks are found in the Holy Roman Catholic Church alone.

 

Q. 571. How do you show that Protestant Churches have not the marks of the true Church?

A. Protestant Churches have not the marks of the true Church, because:

They are not one either in government or faith; for they have no chief head, and they profess different beliefs;
They are not holy, because their doctrines are founded on error and lead to evil consequences;
They are not catholic or universal in time, place or doctrine. They have not existed in all ages nor in all places, and their doctrines do not suit all classes;
They are not apostolic, for they were not established for hundreds of years after the Apostles, and they do not teach the doctrines of the Apostles.

 

Q. 572. From whom does the Church derive its undying life and infallible authority?

A. The Church derives its undying life and infallible authority from the Holy Ghost, the spirit of truth, who abides with it forever.

 

Q. 573. By whom is the Church made and kept One, Holy, and Catholic?

A. The Church is made and kept One, Holy, and Catholic by the Holy Ghost, the spirit of love and holiness, who unites and sanctifies its members throughout the world.


 

 Since the Baltimore Catechism primary speaks in catechetical and conclusory statements, please see the list of “further studies” at the beginning of the article for an offering of biblical and historical arguments. 

In Defense of the Papacy: 9 Reasons True Christians Follow the Pope

“And I will place on his should the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him like a peg in a sure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his father’s house.”

Listers, glory and honor to God for giving us the grace of the papacy. The Pope is the “Advocate of Christian Memory” and he holds the King’s people to the King’s laws until our Savior returns. Each year on February 22nd the Church celebrates the Cathedra Petri – the Chair of St. Peter.

This feast brings to mind the mission of teacher and pastor conferred by Christ on Peter, and continued in an unbroken line down to the present Pope. We celebrate the unity of the Church, founded upon the Apostle, and renew our assent to the Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, extended both to truths which are solemnly defined ex cathedra, and to all the acts of the ordinary Magisterium.

The feast of the Chair of Saint Peter at Rome has been celebrated from the early days of the Christian era on 18 January, in commemoration of the day when Saint Peter held his first service in Rome. The feast of the Chair of Saint Peter at Antioch, commemorating his foundation of the See of Antioch, has also been long celebrated at Rome, on 22 February. At each place a chair (cathedra) was venerated which the Apostle had used while presiding at Mass. One of the chairs is referred to about 600 by an Abbot Johannes who had been commissioned by Pope Gregory the Great to collect in oil from the lamps which burned at the graves of the Roman martyrs. — New Catholic Dictionary1

To commemorate this holy feast day SPL brings you a defense of the papacy with references to Scripture, the Western Church Fathers, the Eastern Church Fathers, and of course, the Medieval Popes.

 

The article addresses the following questions:

  1. Did St. Peter hold any primacy amongst the Twelve Apostles?
  2. Did Christ charge St. Peter with the office of the papacy?
  3. Did St. Peter exercise his ministry from Rome?
  4. What about the controversy of Sts. Peter and Paul?
  5. Did the papacy continue after St. Peter and if so, to whom?
  6. Did the Early Church speak of a hierarchal Church with bishops?
  7. What of those who started their own “churches”?
  8. What did the Eastern Early Church Fathers say about the Petrine Ministry?
  9. Are all people subject to the papacy?

 

The following list is certainly not exhaustive. The Scripture studies alone could fill up volumes and a proper study of Church history is a lifetime of academic work; however, we’ve catalogued a quality sampling of sources with biblical and textual citations in order that you may be able to defend or maybe even discover for the first time the grace of the papacy.

 

Holy Scripture

1. St. Peter was Prince of the Apostles

“Prince of the Apostles” means that St. Peter held a certain primacy over the other eleven. Understanding St. Peter’s unique position among the twelve and the unique ministries he exercised lays an excellent groundwork for a discussion of Christ’s founding of the Papacy. There are three primary topics of focus for exploring the biblical articulation of the primacy of the Petrine ministry.

 

St. Peter’s Place of Primacy Among the Twelve

Sts. Peter, James, and John are a special group of disciples that are allowed to witness the Transfiguration2 and accompany Christ to the Mount of Olives.3 In each event, St. Peter, the Rock, is singled out. At the Mount of Olives, Christ finds all three asleep, but it is St. Peter he addresses. During the Transfiguration, it is St. Peter who speaks for the disciples. In St. Luke 5:1-11, Christ calls his first disciples, and the first is Simon Peter. According to Cardinal Ratzinger, the “call of Peter appears as the original pattern of apostolic vocation par excellence.”4 Every time the disciples are listed, St. Peter is listed first.5 Furthermore, when referring to the disciples, sometimes only St. Peter is mentioned by name, e.g., “And Simon and those who were with him,” and “Now Peter and those who were with him”.6 St. Peter is the only one to try to walk on the water (Mt 14:28ff) and he is the one that brings up the famous question of how many times we must forgive.7 Even St. Peter’s shadow was an instrument of healing.8

 

Significance of the Name Change

While it was common for Rabbis to give nicknames or new surnames to their disciples, e.g., the Sons of Zebedee as the “Sons of Thunder,” it was uncommon to change a disciple’s first name. Christ gives Simon the new name “Peter” or Kephas (or Cephas) meaning rock.9 In the Old Testament, God changing someone’s name denoted a special calling, a new vocation, e.g., Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, etc. St. Peter’s name change denotes that he will have a special vocation among the twelve. Obviously Christ was also referred to as the Rock, because he is the foundation of all things. However, in the rabbinical tradition, Abraham was also referred to as a rock: “Look to the rock from which you were hewn… look to Abraham your father” .10 Cardinal Ratzinger comments:11

Abraham, the father of faith, is by his faith the rock that holds back chaos, the onrushing primordial flood of destruction, and thus sustains creation. Simon, the first to confess Jesus as the Christ and the first witness of the Resurrection, now becomes by virtue of his Abrahamic faith, which is renewed in Christ, the rock that stands against the impure tide of unbelief and its destruction of man.

 

The Papal Office Given to St. Peter by Christ

After the Resurrection, Christ appears to the Twelve and has a unique conversation with St. Peter. Christ, the Shepherd, asks St. Peter three times if he loves him. St. Peter responds yes all three times – presumably this passage should reflect his three denials. Christ also tell St. Peter and Peter alone: feed my lambs, tend my sheep, and feed my sheep. As the Vicar of Christ, St. Peter must care for the flock.12 In Lk 22:31-34, two major Petrine themes are evident. First, Satan has taken a special interest in St. Peter. He will fail, but will repent. Second, after St. Peter has “turned again” to Christ, Jesus commissions him to “strengthen the brethren.” Another mission given only to St. Peter.

In Matthew 16:13-20, the most famous unique call is given to St. Peter: to be the foundation of the Church and to exercise the authority of keys of the kingdom. The office given to St. Peter is that of the Vicar within the Davidic Kingdom. The Vicar governs in the King’s stead, according to the King’s rules, while the King is gone.13 St. Peter is the Vicar of Christ, the Pope.

 

Concluding Thoughts and Suggested Reading

For all of this information plus a brief handling of the relationship between Sts. Peter and Paul, please reference 13 Biblical Reasons St. Peter is the Prince of the Apostles. The page citations and Scripture references for this section are taken from Cardinal Ratzinger’s Called to Communion, which was featured in The 6 Books by Pope Benedict XVI All Catholics Should Read.

A selection from “Christ’s Charge to Peter,” Raphael (1515)

2. Jesus Christ Founded the Papacy

According to Holy Scripture, the Office of the Papacy was instituted by Jesus Christ. In fact, he was the only person who had the authority to create such a position. SPL’s article 10 Biblical Reasons Christ Founded the Papacy discusses the following questions:

  1. What type of kingdom did Christ intend to bring?
  2. What role did Christ intend for Saint Peter?
  3. What is the biblical backing for St. Peter’s role in accordance with the Davidic Kingdom?
  4. What is the position and what is its purpose?
  5. What does the Catechism of the Catholic Church say about St. Peter and the Papacy?
  6. But in Greek, St. Peter’s name is Petros and Christ says, “upon this petra,” so Christ was not referring to St. Peter, was he?
  7. Isn’t Christ The Rock?
  8. I am a Christian, how can I follow both Christ and the Pope?
  9. How can I have a personal relationship with Christ and have a “middle man,” the Pope?
  10. Scripturally, what would be the overall reason Christ would want a Vicar for his Church?

We will address the first three questions here, because they lay out a proper biblical understanding of the Office of the Papacy.

 

1. What type of kingdom did Christ intend to bring?

Jesus Christ was descended from King David and referred to as “Son of David”14. King David was promised a descendent who would not only “rule forever,” but would sit on “David’s throne” forever15; thus, any conversation of what is and what is not properly intended by Christ, regarding his Kingdom, must be couched within the template of the Davidic Kingdom16.

 

2. What role did Christ intend for Saint Peter?

In the district of Caesarea Philippi, Christ asks his disciples “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” St. Peter responds, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus then says to St. Peter:

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 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.

Christ’s intention for the role of St. Peter within the kingdom is twofold: Christ changed Simon Bar-jona’s name to Peter meaning rock and he will be a foundation for Christ’s kingdom on earth, the Church, and secondly, St. Peter is given the “keys of kingdom,” which come with great authority17. It is important to note this is one of the few times Christ ever mentions the “Church.”

 

3. What is the biblical backing for St. Peter’s role in accordance with the Davidic Kingdom?

If Christ is giving St. Peter a role within his Church, his kingdom of God on earth, then it must be part of the Davidic Kingdom. The symbols of authority given to St. Peter are the “keys of the kingdom.” Looking to the Old Testament, it is clear that Christ is rewording a passage from Isaiah that speaks of a position within the Davidic Kingdom:

And I will place on his should the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him like a peg in a sure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his father’s house.

Here a position within the Davidic Kingdom is described which has the key of authority to open and close, and is considered a position of security and authority when the King is away. Christ, who will sit on David’s throne forever, is using an Old Testament verse to elucidate a New Testament Kingdom position.

 

A section of the “Martyrdom of St. Peter” by Leonello Spada (1576–1622)

Early Church

3. St. Peter Exercised his Ministry from Rome

Bl. John Henry Newman said it best: “To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.” History paints an overwhelming picture of St. Peter’s apostolic ministry in Rome and this is confirmed by a multitude of different sources within the Early Church. Catholic Encyclopedia states:

“In opposition to this distinct and unanimous testimony of early Christendom, some few Protestant historians have attempted in recent times to set aside the residence and death of Peter at Rome as legendary. These attempts have resulted in complete failure.”

Protestantism as a whole seeks to divorce Christianity from history by rending Gospel message out of its historical context as captured by our Early Church Fathers. One such target of these heresies is to devalue St. Peter and to twist the authority of Rome into a historical mishap within Christianity. To wit, the belief has as its end the ultimate end of all Catholic and Protestant dialogue – who has authority in Christianity?

The article 11 Reasons the Authority of Christianity is Centered on St. Peter and Rome is a sampling of the praise of and adherence to the Petrine Ministry – The Papacy. While the list gives three quality examples of Scripture connecting St. Peter with Rome, we will look here at a few choice quotes from the Early Church.

 

Taught in the Same Place in Italy

Bishop Dionysius of Corinth, in his letter to the Roman Church in the time of Pope Soter (165-74), says:

“You have therefore by your urgent exhortation bound close together the sowing of Peter and Paul at Rome and Corinth. For both planted the seed of the Gospel also in Corinth, and together instructed us, just as they likewise taught in the same place in Italy and at the same time suffered martyrdom” (in Eusebius, Church History II.25).

 

St. Peter Announced the Word of God in Rome

In his “Hypotyposes” (Eusebius, Church History IV.14), Clement of Alexandria, teacher in the catechetical school of that city from about 190, says on the strength of the tradition of the presbyters:

“After Peter had announced the Word of God in Rome and preached the Gospel in the spirit of God, the multitude of hearers requested Mark, who had long accompanied Peter on all his journeys, to write down what the Apostles had preached to them” (see above).

 

Come to the Vatican and See for Yourself

The Roman, Caius, who lived in Rome in the time of Pope Zephyrinus (198-217), wrote in his “Dialogue with Proclus” (in Eusebius, Church History II.25) directed against the Montanists:

“But I can show the trophies of the Apostles. If you care to go to the Vatican or to the road to Ostia, thou shalt find the trophies of those who have founded this Church.”

By the trophies (tropaia) Eusebius understands the graves of the Apostles, but his view is opposed by modern investigators who believe that the place of execution is meant. For our purpose it is immaterial which opinion is correct, as the testimony retains its full value in either case. At any rate the place of execution and burial of both were close together; St. Peter, who was executed on the Vatican, received also his burial there. Eusebius also refers to “the inscription of the names of Peter and Paul, which have been preserved to the present day on the burial-places there” (i.e. at Rome).

 

Sts. Peter and Paul, pray for us.

4. The Early Church on Sts. Peter and Paul

“Many modern day academics enjoy setting St. Peter and St. Paul in enmity with one another,” states SPL author Catherine, “however, the over emphasis of Galatians 2:11-14 by modern scholarship fails to acknowledge that even though they had a disagreement their mission of spreading the Gospel was the same. In this spirit, I present to you five reflections by members of the early church on the mutual impact that St. Peter and Paul had on the early church. Prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to let St. Peter and St. Paul’s example of faithfulness unto death be your focus today and everyday.” Out of Catherine’s excellent list, we will focus on one particular passage by St. Irenaeus:

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 meeting; [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; also [by pointing out] the faith they 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 apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.
Against Heresies 3.3.2.

Along with the above quote, the other four passages from the Early Church demonstrate the Fathers focusing on Sts. Peter and Paul as brothers in the faith and fellow martyrs – not enemies vying for power within the Church. For a more biblical focus of the relationship between Sts. Peter and Paul see the above-mentioned list on St. Peter as Prince of the Apostles.

 

Crucifixion of St. Peter – Masaccio, AD 1426

5. The First Popes of the Catholic Church

In cataloguing the first ten popes of the Catholics Church, SPL hoped to address a few misconceptions. The first would be that the office of the papacy was simply given to St. Peter and then closed upon his death. The necessity of a Vicar of Christ with the Keys of Kingdom is present until the King returns and the Keys are returned to him. Secondly, we hoped to address the pernicious error that the papacy is a historical fiction within the Early Church and it did not materialize until medieval times. For our purposes, we’ll select the two popes that followed St. Peter from The First 10 Popes of the Catholic Church.

 

Pope St. Linus (67-76)

All the ancient records of the Roman bishops which have been handed down to us by St. Irenaeus, Julius Africanus, St. Hippolytus, Eusebius, also the Liberian catalogue of 354, place the name of Linus directly after that of the Prince of the Apostles, St. Peter. These records are traced back to a list of the Roman bishops which existed in the time of Pope Eleutherus (about 174-189), when Irenaeus wrote his book “Adversus haereses”. As opposed to this testimony, we cannot accept as more reliable Tertullian’s assertion, which unquestionably places St. Clement (De praescriptione, xxii) after the Apostle Peter, as was also done later by other Latin scholars (Jerome, Illustrious Men 15). The Roman list in Irenaeus has undoubtedly greater claims to historical authority. This author claims that Pope Linus is the Linus mentioned by St. Paul in his 2 Timothy 4:21. The passage by Irenaeus (Against Heresies III.3.3) reads:

After the Holy Apostles (Peter and Paul) had founded and set the Church in order (in Rome) they gave over the exercise of the episcopal office to Linus. The same Linus is mentioned by St. Paul in his Epistle to Timothy. His successor was Anacletus.

We cannot be positive whether this identification of the pope as being the Linus mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:21 goes back to an ancient and reliable source, or originated later on account of the similarity of the name.

 

Pope St. Anacletus (Cletus) (76-88)

The second successor of St. Peter. Whether he was the same as Cletus, who is also called Anencletus as well as Anacletus, has been the subject of endless discussion. Irenaeus, Eusebius, Augustine, Optatus, use both names indifferently as of one person. Tertullian omits him altogether. To add to the confusion, the order is different. Thus Irenaeus has Linus, Anacletus, Clement; whereas Augustine and Optatus put Clement before Anacletus. On the other hand, the “Catalogus Liberianus”, the “Carmen contra Marcionem” and the “Liber Pontificalis”, all most respectable for their antiquity, make Cletus and Anacletus distinct from each other; while the “Catalogus Felicianus” even sets the latter down as a Greek, the former as a Roman.

 

The Martyrdom of Saint Clement c. 1480

6. The Apostles Appointed Bishops

The Early Church was the Early Catholic Church. First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians is an orthodox window into the infancy of the Church (AD 97) and particularly into the structure of the Church. The Early Church is not an ambiguous or mysterious time. It is a well recorded period with a great number of writings from the Early Church Fathers. Clement lived in Rome only a stone’s throw away from the Coliseum. He is seen as a successor to St. Peter and is considered the fourth Pope of Rome, following St. Peter, St. Linus and St. Anacletus.

Chapter XLII outlines a clear theology of succession from Christ to the Apostles to the Bishops of the Church. As an early Christian, how do you know if you belonged to the true Church? Well, does your community have a bishop? Did your bishop come from the Apostles who came from Christ our Lord who came from God the Father? It should be stressed this epistle is dated AD 97.

“The apostles have preached the gospel to us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ [has done so] from God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the apostles by Christ. Both these appointments, then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe. Nor was this any new thing, since indeed many ages before it was written concerning bishops and deacons. For thus says the Scripture in a certain place, I will appoint their bishops in righteousness, and their deacons in faith.”

 

In Chapter XLIV, St. Clement shuts the book on any doubt that the apostles chose and declared men to lead as bishops after their death. It is apostolic succession in a clear and practical manner articulated in AD 97.

“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. We are of opinion, therefore, that those appointed by them, or afterwards by other eminent men, with the consent of the whole church, and who have blamelessly served the flock of Christ, in a humble, peaceable, and disinterested spirit, and have for a long time possessed the good opinion of all, cannot be justly dismissed from the ministry. For our sin will not be small, if we eject from the episcopate those who have blamelessly and holily fulfilled its duties. Blessed are those presbyters who, having finished their course before now, have obtained a fruitful and perfect departure [from this world]; for they have no fear lest any one deprive them of the place now appointed them. But we see that you have removed some men of excellent behaviour from the ministry, which they fulfilled blamelessly and with honour.”

It is important to note the universal authority in which Pope St. Clement I is writing. One cannot miss how early in the life of the Church this writing is and how the Church is already a hierarchal body that respects the teachings of the Bishop of Rome. Pope St. Clement I even commands the Corinthians at one point – this note and other are commented on in The Apostles Appointed Bishops: 9 Teachings from St. Clement AD 97.

 

The Schismatics of Dante’s Inferno by Gustave

7. Those Who Start Their Own Church Follow the Voice of Satan

The Pope as the Vicar of Christ and as the Advocate of Christian Memory stands as tent peg holding down the Universal Church of Christ, and no list on Church unity would be complete without the (in)famous epistle of St. Cyprian, AD 250.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is not returning to our world for a harem of “churches.” There is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and it was founded by Christ and charged by him to St. Peter and the Apostles. However, there are now and always have been those groups that attempt to rend Christ from his Church – to recreate that which God gave us, the Church. In AD 250, St. Cyprian wrote an outstanding work entitled On the Unity of the Church. The epistle focuses especially on the topic of schism and those who would set themselves up as Church leaders and/or start their own “churches.” Without question, these groups are proto-protestant groups and the saint’s arguments apply just as much to our modern schismatic and heretical groups as they did to his ancient schismatic groups.18

 

The New Way of Satan

“He [Satan] has invented heresies and schisms, whereby he might subvert the faith, might corrupt the truth, might divide the unity. Those whom he cannot keep in the darkness of the old way [paganism], he circumvents and deceives by the error of a new way [schism/heresy]. He snatches men from the Church itself; and while they seem to themselves to have already approached to the light, and to have escaped the night of the world, he pours over them again, in their unconsciousness, new darkness.”

 

Upon This Rock

“There is easy proof for faith in a short summary of the truth. The Lord speaks to Peter, saying, “I say unto thee, that thou art 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 thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” And again to the same He says, after His resurrection, “Feed my sheep.”

 

Can the Spouse of Christ Be Adulterous?

“The spouse of Christ cannot be adulterous; she is uncorrupted and pure. She knows one home; she guards with chaste modesty the sanctity of one couch. She keeps us for God. She appoints the sons whom she has born for the kingdom. Whoever is separated from the Church and is joined to an adulteress, is separated from the promises of the Church; nor can he who forsakes the Church of Christ attain to the rewards of Christ. He is a stranger; he is profane; he is an enemy. He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother.”

 

Those Who Start Their Own Church Vomit Poison

“These are they who of their own accord, without any divine arrangement, set themselves to preside among the daring strangers assembled, who appoint themselves prelates without any law of ordination, who assume to themselves the name of bishop, although no one gives them the episcopate; whom the Holy Spirit points out in the Psalms as sitting in the seat of pestilence, plagues, and spots of the faith, deceiving with serpent’s tongue, and artful in corrupting the truth, vomiting forth deadly poisons from pestilential tongues; whose speech doth creep like a cancer, whose discourse forms a deadly poison in the heart and breast of every one.”

 

Priests and Sacrifice

“What sacrifices do those who are rivals of the priests think that they celebrate? Do they deem that they have Christ with them when they are collected together, who are gathered together outside the Church of Christ?”

Without a doubt this epistle of St. Cyprian is one of the most quotable letters of the Early Church Fathers. For more commentary and more unabashed Catholic quotes visit Those Who Start Their Own Church Follow the Voice of Satan: 11 Teachings from St. Cyprian AD 250.

 

St. John Chrysostom, pray for us.

8. The Eastern Fathers Supported the Petrine Ministry

Often times the papacy is misunderstood a “characteristic” of Western Christianity. In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth. The Catholic Church embraces the Eastern Catholic Churches along with the Roman Church and they are united in doctrine under the Holy Father, the Pope. SPL has catalogue an extensive collection of quotes from the Eastern Church Fathers supporting the Petrine Ministry.

St. Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem (d. A.D. 638)

“Teaching us all orthodoxy and destroying all heresy and driving it away from the God-protected halls of our holy Catholic Church. And together with these inspired syllables and characters, I accept all his (the pope’s) letters and teachings as proceeding from the mouth of Peter the Coryphaeus, and I kiss them and salute them and embrace them with all my soul … I recognize the latter as definitions of Peter and the former as those of Mark, and besides, all the heaven-taught teachings of all the chosen mystagogues of our Catholic Church.” – Sophronius, Mansi, xi. 461

 

St. Theodore the Studite of Constantinople (d. 826)

Writing to Pope Leo III:

Since to great Peter Christ our Lord gave the office of Chief Shepherd after entrusting him with the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, to Peter or his successor must of necessity every novelty in the Catholic Church be referred. [Therefore], save us, oh most divine Head of Heads, Chief Shepherd of the Church of Heaven. (Theodore, Bk. I. Ep. 23)

 

Sergius, Metropolitain of Cyprus (649)

Writing to Pope Theodore:

O Holy Head, Christ our God hath destined thy Apostolic See to be an immovable foundation and a pillar of the Faith. For thou art, as the Divine Word truly saith, Peter, and on thee as a foundation-stone have the pillars of the Church been fixed. (Sergius Ep. ad Theod. lecta in Sess. ii. Concil. Lat. anno 649)

 

SPL has listed over 50 quotes of the Eastern Church Fathers: The Early Church in Jerusalem Followed the Pope: 7 Quotes from History, Constantinople: 25 Quotes from the Eastern Fathers on the Petrine Ministry, and Rome is the Apostolic Throne: 24 Quotes from Alexandria, Antioch, and Cyprus.

 

St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, Vicar of Christ, pray for us.

Medieval

9. All Human Creatures Are Subject to the Pope

The following is a short compilation of quotes taken from previous Ecumenical Pontiffs of Rome: “Outside the Church there is no hope for salvation.” These quotes show us the confidence that our previous Bishops of Rome have had in their authority given by God Himself to be the Vicar of Christ here on Earth. As St. Augustine said, “Rome has spoken, the case is closed.”

“The universal Church of the faithful is one outside of which none is saved.”
Pope Innocent III, ex cathedra, Fourth Lateran Council (1215 AD)

 

“We declare, say , define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”
Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam (1302 AD)

 

“You see, dearly beloved sons and venerable brothers, how much vigilance is needed to keep the disease of this terrible evil from infecting and killing your flocks. Do not cease to diligently defend your people against these pernicious errors. Saturate them with the doctrine of Catholic truth more accurately each day. Teach them that just as there is only one God, one Christ, one Holy Spirit, so there is also only one truth which is divinely revealed. There is only one divine faith which is the beginning of salvation for mankind and the basis of all justification, the faith by which the just person lives and without which it is impossible to please God and to come to the community of His children.[Rom 1; Heb 11; Council of Trent, session 6, chap. 8.] There is only one true, holy, Catholic church, which is the Apostolic Roman Church. There is only one See founded in Peter by the word of the Lord,[St. Cyprian, epistle 43.] outside of which we cannot find either true faith or eternal salvation. He who does not have the Church for a mother cannot have God for a father, and whoever abandons the See of Peter on which the Church is established trusts falsely that he is in the Church.[St. Cyprian,de unitat. Eccl.] Thus, there can be no greater crime, no more hideous stain than to stand up against Christ, than to divide the Church engendered and purchased by His blood, than to forget evangelical love and to combat with the furor of hostile discord the harmony of the people of God.[St. Cyprian, epistle 72.]”
Blessed Pope Pius IX, Singulari Quidem

Happy Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, listers. More medieval quotes on the papacy can be found at All Human Creatures Are Subject to the Pope.

  1. Introduction to the Chair of St. Peter – SOURCE []
  2. Mark 9:2-8 []
  3. Mark 14:33 []
  4. Called to Communion, by Cardinal Ratzinger, 54 []
  5. Matt 10:2-4; Mk 3:16-19; Lk 6:14-16; Acts 1:13 []
  6. Mk 1:36; Lk 9:32 []
  7. Mt 18:21 []
  8. Acts 5 []
  9. John 1:42; Mt 16 []
  10. Is 51:1-3 []
  11. 56 []
  12. John 21 []
  13. Is. 22 []
  14. Matt 1:1-2; 9:27-29; Mk 10:47, 48 []
  15. I Chron 17:14; Ps 89:35-36; Luke1:31 []
  16. cf. Is. 9:6-7; 11:1-3; Jer 33:14-15, 17, 19-21, 26; Ps 132:10-14, 17; Luke 1:31-33, 68-71; II Tim 2:8; Rev 5:5, 22:16; Rom 1:3 []
  17. Matt 16:13-20 []
  18. Novatian: Another impetus of the epistle was the first “anti-pope” who attempted to claim he was holier than the rest of the Church and claimed moral superiority, especially in not wanting to ever extend forgiveness to sins post-baptism. []

10 Popes Comment on the Virtue & Intellect of St. Thomas Aquinas

Pope Benedict XV stated that “the eminent commendations of Thomas Aquinas by the Holy See no longer permit a Catholic to doubt that he was divinely raised up that the Church might have a master whose doctrine should be followed in a special way at all times.”

Listers, the following is taken from The Formation of the Catholic Mind by Dr. Ronald A. McArthur. Dr. McArthur is the founding president of the highly praised Thomas Aquinas College in California. The Most Rev. Pietro Sambi (†), Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, once stated, “The Church will flourish through the inspiring example and praiseworthy endeavors of Thomas Aquinas College.” The staff of SPL has worked with and studied alongside TAC alumni and the experience has always been enjoyable.1

St. Peter’s List has worked arduously to bring the lister community a quality cataloguing of both the praise of St. Thomas Aquinas and the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas. We exhort the listers to listen to the voices of our saints and popes and turn to the wisdom of St. Thomas Aquinas.

A Selection of Lists Referencing St. Thomas Aquinas

 

St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor, whose virtue warms the world.

What does the Church, to whom Christ has entrusted His concerns for us, teach concerning theological doctrines?

1. Pope John XXII, speaking about St. Thomas, said before his canonization that “his life was saintly and his doctrine could only be miraculous … because he enlightened the church more than all the other doctors. By the use of his works a man could profit more in one year than if he studies the doctrine of others for his whole life.”

 

2. St. Pius V declared him a Doctor of The Church, saying he was “the most brilliant light of the Church,” whose works are “the most certain rule of Christian doctrine by which he enlightened the Apostolic Church in answering conclusively numberless errors … which illumination has often been evident in the past and recently stood forth prominently in the decrees of the Council of Trent.”

 

3. Benedict XIII wrote to the Order of Preachers that they should “pursue with energy your Doctor’s works, more brilliant than the sun and written without the shadow of error. These works made the Church illustrious with wonderful erudition, since they march ahead and proceed with unimpeded step, protecting and vindicating by the surest rule of Christian doctrine, the truth of our holy religion.”

 

4. Leo XIII stated that “this is the greatest glory of Thomas, altogether his own and shared with no other Catholic Doctor, that the Fathers of Trent, in order to proceed in an orderly fashion during the conclave, desired to have opened upon the altar together with the Scriptures and the decrees of the Supreme Pontiffs, the Summa of St. Thomas Aquinas whence they could draw counsel, reasons and answers.”

Again from Leo XIII: “This point is vital, that Bishops expend every effort to see that young men destined to be the hope of the Church should be imbued with the holy and heavenly doctrine of the Angelic Doctor. In those places where young men have devoted themselves to the patronage and doctrine of St. Thomas, true wisdom will flourish, drawn as it is from solid principles and explained by reason in an orderly fashion … Theology proceeding correctly and well according to the plan and method of Aquinas is in accordance with our command. Every day We become more clearly aware how powerfully Sacred Doctrine taught by its master and patron, Thomas, affords the greatest possible utility for both clergy and laity.

 

5. St. Pius X said that the chief of Leo’s achievements is his restoration of the doctrine of St. Thomas. For he “restored the Angelic Doctor … as the leader and master of theology, whose divine genius fashioned weapons marvelously suited to protect the truth and destroy the many errors of the times. Indeed those principles of wisdom, useful for all time, which the holy Doctors passed on to us, have been organized by no one more aptly than by Thomas, and no one has explained them more clearly.” Indeed, Pius said, those who depart from the teaching of St. Thomas “seem to effect ultimately their withdrawal from the Church … As we have said, one may not desert Aquinas, especially in philosophy and theology, without great harm; following him is the safest way to the knowledge of divine things.… If the doctrine of any other author or saint has ever been approved at any time by us or our predecessors with singular commendation joined with an invitation and order to propagate and to defend it, it may be easily understood that it was commended only insofar as it agreed with the principles of Aquinas or was in no way opposed to them.” Theology professors “should also take particular care that their students develop a deep affection for the Summa … In this way and no other will theology be restored to its pristine dignity, and the proper order and value will be restored to all sacred studies, and the province of the intellect and reason flower again in a second spring.”

 

6. Benedict XV stated that “the eminent commendations of Thomas Aquinas by the Holy See no longer permit a Catholic to doubt that he was divinely raised up that the Church might have a master whose doctrine should be followed in a special way at all times.”

 

7. Pius XI said that “indeed, We so approve of the tributes paid to his almost divine brilliance that we believe Thomas should be called not only Angelic but Common or Universal Doctor of the Church. As innumerable documents of every kind attest, the Church has adopted his doctrine for her own.… It is no wonder that the Church has made this light her own and has adorned herself with it, and has illustrated her immortal doctrine with it … It is no wonder that all the popes have vied with one another in exalting him, proposing him, inculcating him, as a model, master, doctor, patron and protector of all schools … Just as it was said of old to the Egyptians in time of famine: ‘Go to Joseph, so that they should receive a supply of corn to nourish their bodies, so to those who are now in quest of truth We now say: ‘Go to Thomas’ that they may ask from him the food of solid doctrine of which he has an abundance to nourish their souls unto eternal life.”

 

8. Bl. John Paul II said: “[T]he Church has been justified in consistently proposing Saint Thomas as a master of thought and a model of the right way to do theology….

“[T]he Magisterium has repeatedly acclaimed the merits of Saint Thomas’ thought and made him the guide and model for theological studies.… The Magisterium’s intention has always been to show how Saint Thomas is an authentic model for all who seek the truth. In his thinking, the demands of reason and the power of faith found the most elevated synthesis ever attained by human thought, for he could defend the radical newness introduced by Revelation without ever demeaning the venture proper to reason.”

 

9. Pope Benedict XVI said, “In his encyclical Fides et Ratio, my venerated predecessor, Pope John Paul II recalled that ‘the Church has been justified in consistently proposing St. Thomas a master of thought and a model of the right way to do theology’ (No. 43).

“It is not surprising that, after St. Augustine, among the writers mentioned in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, St. Thomas is quoted more than any other — some 61 times! He was also called the Doctor Angelicus, perhaps because of his virtues, in particular the loftiness of his thought and purity of life.

“In short, Thomas Aquinas showed there is a natural harmony between Christian faith and reason. And this was the great work of Thomas, who in that moment of encounter between two cultures — that moment in which it seemed that faith should surrender before reason — showed that they go together, that what seemed to be reason incompatible with faith was not reason, and what seemed to be faith was not faith, in so far as it was opposed to true rationality; thus he created a new synthesis, which shaped the culture of the following centuries.”

 

Since Sacred Theology uses philosophy as a handmaid, the Church’s duty does not end with a judgment upon Theology alone, but extends to philosophy as well.

 

1. Pius XII said that “… the Angelic Doctor interpreted [Aristotle] in a uniquely brilliant manner. He made that philosophy Christian when he purged it of the errors into which a pagan writer would easily fall; he used those very errors in his exposition and vindication of Catholic truth. Among the important advances which the Church owes to the great Aquinas this certainly should be included that so nicely did he harmonize Christian truth with the enduring peripatetic philosophy that he made Aristotle cease to be an adversary and become, instead, a militant supporter for Christ … Therefore, those who wish to be true philosophers … should take the principles and foundations of their doctrine from Thomas Aquinas. To follow his leadership is praiseworthy: on the contrary, to depart foolishly and rashly from the wisdom of the angelic Doctor is something far from Our mind and fraught with peril … For those who apply themselves to the teaching and study of Theology and Philosophy should consider it their capital duty, having set aside the findings of a fruitless philosophy, to follow St. Thomas Aquinas and to cherish him as their master and their leader.”

 

2. St. Pius X said that “all who teach philosophy in Catholic schools throughout the world should take care never to depart from the path and method of Aquinas, and to insist upon that procedure more vigorously every day…We warn teachers to keep this religiously in mind, especially in metaphysics, that to disregard Aquinas cannot be done without suffering great harm.”

 

3. Benedict XV said that “along with our predecessors We are equally persuaded that the only philosophy worth our efforts is that which is according to Christ. Therefore the study of philosophy according to the principles and system of Aquinas must certainly be encouraged so that the explanation and invincible defense of divinely revealed truth may be as full as human reason can make of it.”

  1. Thomas Aquinas College: Visit their website, learn more about Dr. McArthur, and read his article The Formation of the Catholic Mind in full. []

Rome is the Apostolic Throne: 24 Quotes from Alexandria, Antioch, and Cyprus

“O Holy Head, Christ our God hath destined thy Apostolic See to be an immovable foundation and a pillar of the Faith. For thou art, as the Divine Word truly saith, Peter, and on thee as a foundation-stone have the pillars of the Church been fixed.”

Listers, in cataloguing the quotes from Alexandria, Antioch, and Cyprus we conclude our theme of Early Eastern Church Fathers that supported the Petrine Ministry. Though these quotes have been posted in several places, SPL would like to again give credit to the quality Catholic resource Fisheaters for compiling the list. The quotes focus on imagery distinct to the Petrine Ministry, e.g., the Keys of the Kingdom, Prince of the Apostles, Apostolic Throne, etc., and those unfamiliar with these themes from Sacred Tradition and the Bible should consult the SPL lists below.

 

True Christians Follow the Pope

 

A section of the “Martyrdom of St. Peter” by Leonello Spada (1576–1622) 

Alexandria

St. Peter, Bishop of Alexandria (306-311)
Head of the catechetical school in Alexandria, he became bishop around A.D. 300, reigning for about eleven years, and dying a martyr’s death.

Peter, set above the Apostles. (Peter of Alexandria, Canon. ix, Galland, iv. p. 98)

 

St. Anthony of Egypt (330)

Peter, the Prince of the Apostles (Anthony, Epist. xvii. Galland, iv p. 687)

 

St. Athanasius (362)

Rome is called the Apostolic throne. (Athanasius, Hist. Arian, ad Monach. n. 35)

The Chief, Peter. (Athan, In Ps. xv. 8, tom. iii. p. 106, Migne)

 

St. Macarius of Egypt (371)

The Chief, Peter. (Macarius, De Patientia, n. 3, p. 180)

Moses was succeeded by Peter, who had committed to his hands the new Church of Christ, and the true priesthood. (Macarius, Hom. xxvi. n. 23, p. 101)

 

St. Cyril of Alexandria (c. 424)

He suffers him no longer to be called Simon, exercising authority and rule over him already having become His own. By a title suitable to the thing, He changed his name into Peter, from the word ‘petra’ (rock); for on him He was afterwards to found His Church. (Cyril, T. iv. Comm. in Joan., p. 131

He (Christ) promises to found the Church, assigning immovableness to it, as He is the Lord of strength, and over this He sets Peter as shepherd. (Cyril, Comm. on Matt., ad loc.)

Therefore, when the Lord had hinted at the disciple’s denial in the words that He used, ‘I have prayed for thee that thy faith not fail,’ He at once introduced a word of consolation, and said (to Peter): ‘And do thou, when once thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.’ That is, ‘Be thou a support and a teacher of those who through faith come to me.’ Again, marvel also at the insight of that saying and at the completeness of the Divine gentleness of spirit. For so that He should not reduce the disciple to despair at the thought that after his denial he would have to be debarred from the glorious distinction of being an Apostle, He fills him with good hope, that he will attain the good things promised. …O loving kindness! The sin was not yet committed, and He already extends His pardon and sets him (Peter) again in his Apostolic office. (Cyril Comm. on Luke’s Gospel)

For the wonderous Peter, overcome by uncontrollable fear, denied the Lord three times. Christ heals the error done, and demands in various ways the threefold confession … For although all the holy disciples fled, …still Peter’s fault in the threefold denial was in addition, special and peculiar to himself. Therefore, by the threefold confession of blessed Peter, the fault of the triple denial was done away. Further, by the Lord’s saying, Feed my lambs, we must understand a renewal as it were of the Apostleship already given to him, washing away the intervening disgrace of his fall, and the littleness of human infirmity. (Cyril, Comm. on John’s Gospel).

They (the Apostles) strove to learn through one, that preeminent one, Peter. (Cyril, Ib. 1. ix. p. 736).

And even blessed Peter, though set over the holy disciples, says ‘Lord, be it far from Thee, this shall be done to Thee. (Cyril, Ibid. 924).

If Peter himself, that prince of the holy disciples, was, upon an occassion, scandalized, so as suddenly to exclaim, ‘Lord, be it far from Thee,’ what wonder that the tender mind of woman should be carried away? (Cyril, Ibid, p. 1064)

That the Spirit is God we shall also learn hence. That the prince of the Apostles, to whom ‘flesh and blood,’ as the Savior says, ‘did not reveal’ the Divine mystery, says to Ananias, ‘Why hath Satan tempted thy heart, (Cyril, T. v. Par. 1. Thesaur. p. 340)

Besides all these, let there come forward that leader of the holy disciples, Peter, who, when the Lord, on a certain occassion, asked him, ‘Whom do men say that the Son of man is?’ instantly cried out, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ (Cyril, T. v. P.2, Hom. viii. De Fest. Pasch. p. 105)

‘If I wash thee not, thou shalt have no part with me.’ When the Coryphaeus (Peter) had heard these words, he began to change. (Cyril, Ib. Hom.)

This bold man (Julian), besides all this, cavils at Peter, the chosen one of the holy Apostles. (Cyril, T. vi.l. ix. Contr. Julian. p. 325).

 

Eulogius of Alexandria (581)
Born in Syria, he became the abbot of the Mother of God monastery at Antioch. In 579, he was made Patriarch of Alexandria; and became an associate of St. Gregory the Great while visiting Constantinople. Much of their subsequent correspondence is still extant.

Neither to John, nor to any other of the disciples, did our Savior say, ‘I will give to thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven,’ but only to Peter. (Eulogius, Lib. ii. Cont. Novatian. ap. Photium, Biblioth, cod. 280)

 

Antioch

Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus in Syria (450)
A native of Antioch, Theodoret ruled under the Antiochean Patriarch.

The great foundation of the Church was shaken, and confirmed by the Divine grace. And the Lord commanded him to apply that same care to the brethren. ‘And thou,’ He says, ‘converted, confirm thy brethren.’ (Theodoret, Tom. iv. Haeret. Fab. lib. v.c. 28)

‘For as I,’ He says, ‘did not despise thee when tossed, so be thou a support to thy brethren in trouble, and the help by which thou was saved do thou thyself impart to others, and exhort them not while they are tottering, but raise them up in their peril. For this reason I suffer thee also to slip, but do not permit thee to fall, thus through thee gaining steadfastness for those who are tossed.’ So this great pillar supported the tossing and sinking world, and permitted it not to fall entirely and gave it back stability, having been ordered to feed God’s sheep. (Theodoret, Oratio de Caritate in J. P. Minge, ed., Partrologiae Curses Completus: Series Graeca).

I therefore beseech your holiness to persuade the most holy and blessed bishop (Pope Leo) to use his Apostolic power, and to order me to hasten to your Council. For that most holy throne (Rome) has the sovereignty over the churches throughout the universe on many grounds. (Theodoret, Tom. iv. Epist. cxvi. Renato, p. 1197).

If Paul, the herald of the truth, the trumpet of the Holy Spirit, hastened to the great Peter, to convey from him the solution to those in Antioch, who were at issue about living under the law, how much more do we, poor and humble, run to the Apostolic Throne (Rome) to receive from you (Pope Leo) healing for wounds of the the Churches. For it pertains to you to have primacy in all things; for your throne is adorned with many prerogatives. (Theodoret Ibid, Epistle Leoni)

 

Cyprus

St. Epiphanius, Archbishop of Salamis (385)

Holy men are therefore called the temple of God, because the Holy Spirit dwells in them; as that Chief of the Apostles testifies, he that was found to be blessed by the Lord, because the Father had revealed unto him. To him then did the Father reveal His true Son; and the same (Peter) furthermore reveals the Holy Spirit. This was befitting in the First of the Apostles, that firm Rock upon which the Church of God is built, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. The gates of hell are heretics and heresiarchs. For in every way was the faith confirmed in him who received the keys of heaven; who looses on earth and binds in heaven. For in him are found all subtle questions of faith. He was aided by the Father so as to be (or lay) the Foundation of the security (firmness) of the faith. He (Peter) heard from the same God, ‘feed my lambs’; to him He entrusted the flock; he leads the way admirably in the power of his own Master. (Epiphanius, T. ii. in Anchor).

 

Sergius, Metropolitain of Cyprus (649)
Writing to Pope Theodore:

O Holy Head, Christ our God hath destined thy Apostolic See to be an immovable foundation and a pillar of the Faith. For thou art, as the Divine Word truly saith, Peter, and on thee as a foundation-stone have the pillars of the Church been fixed. (Sergius Ep. ad Theod. lecta in Sess. ii. Concil. Lat. anno 649)

Constantinople: 25 Quotes from the Eastern Fathers on the Petrine Ministry

“Since to great Peter Christ our Lord gave the office of Chief Shepherd after entrusting him with the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, to Peter or his successor must of necessity every novelty in the Catholic Church be referred. [Therefore], save us, oh most divine Head of Heads, Chief Shepherd of the Church of Heaven.”

Listers, St. Peter is the Prince of the Apostles and our First Pope. SPL has reproduced a portion of a popular article that has been shared on many Catholic sites – though we think it originated with Fisheaters – cataloguing the Eastern Fathers of the Church and their statements on St. Peter and his keys. Below are the historical comments of those who served Holy Mother Church in Constantinople. Many of the quotes focus on St. Peter as the Prince of the Apostles and the Keys of the Kingdom given to him by Christ Our Lord. Those unfamiliar with the biblical imagery and significance may struggle to understand why many of these quotes are articulating a strong historical support for the Primacy of Peter. SPL has published many lists on the topic of the Petrine Ministry – both from a biblical and historical perspective – and highly suggests the following lists to those who wish to know more about the Church Christ founded.1

 

True Christians Follow the Pope

 

Constantinople & The Primacy of St. Peter

 

1. St. John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople (d. 407)

Peter himself the Head or Crown of the Apostles, the First in the Church, the Friend of Christ, who received a revelation, not from man, but from the Father, as the Lord bears witness to him, saying, ‘Blessed art thou, This very Peter and when I name Peter I name that unbroken Rock, that firm Foundation, the Great Apostle, First of the disciples, the First called, and the First who obeyed he was guilty …even denying the Lord.” (Chrysostom, T. ii. Hom)

Peter, the Leader of the choir of Apostles, the Mouth of the disciples, the Pillar of the Church, the Buttress of the faith, the Foundation of the confession, the Fisherman of the universe. (Chrysostom, T. iii Hom)

Peter, that Leader of the choir, that Mouth of the rest of the Apostles, that Head of the brotherhood, that one set over the entire universe, that Foundation of the Church. (Chrys. In illud hoc Scitote)

(Peter), the foundation of the Church, the Coryphaeus of the choir of the Apostles, the vehement lover of Christ …he who ran throughout the whole world, who fished the whole world; this holy Coryphaeus of the blessed choir; the ardent disciple, who was entrusted with the keys of heaven, who received the spiritual revelation. Peter, the mouth of all Apostles, the head of that company, the ruler of the whole world. (De Eleemos, iii. 4; Hom. de decem mille tal. 3)

In those days Peter rose up in the midst of the disciples (Acts 15), both as being ardent, and as intrusted by Christ with the flock …he first acts with authority in the matter, as having all put into his hands ; for to him Christ said, ‘And thou, being converted, confirm thy brethren. (Chrysostom, Hom. iii Act Apost. tom. ix.)

He passed over his fall, and appointed him first of the Apostles; wherefore He said: ‘ ‘Simon, Simon,’ etc. (in Ps. cxxix. 2). God allowed him to fall, because He meant to make him ruler over the whole world, that, remembering his own fall, he might forgive those who should slip in the future. And that what I have said is no guess, listen to Christ Himself saying: ‘Simon, Simon, etc.’ (Chrys, Hom. quod frequenter conveniendum sit 5, cf. Hom 73 in Joan 5).

And why, then, passing by the others, does He converse with Peter on these things? (John 21:15). He was the chosen one of the Apostles, and the mouth of the disciples, and the leader of the choir. On this account, Paul also went up on a time to see him rather than the others (Galatians 1:18). And withal, to show him that he must thenceforward have confidence, as the denial was done away with, He puts into his hands the presidency over the brethren. And He brings not forward the denial, nor reproches him with what had past, but says, ‘If you love me, preside over the brethren …and the third time He gives him the same injunction, showing what a price He sets the presidency over His own sheep. And if one should say, ‘How then did James receive the throne of Jerusalem?,’ this I would answer that He appointed this man (Peter) teacher, not of that throne, but of the whole world. (Chrysostom, In Joan. Hom. 1xxxviii. n. 1, tom. viii)

 

2. St. Proclus, Patriarch of Constantinople (d. c. 446)

A disciple of St. John Chrysostom

Peter, the coryphaeus of the disciples, and the one set over (or chief of) the Apostles. Art not thou he that didst say, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God’? Thou Bar-Jonas (son of the dove) hast thou seen so many miracles, and art thou still but Simon (a hearer)? He appointed thee the key-bearer of Heaven, and has though not yet layed aside thy fisherman’s clothing? (Proclus, Or. viii In Dom. Transfig. t. ix. Galland)

 

3. St. John Cassian, Monk (d. c. 435)

That great man, the disciple of disciples, that master among masters, who wielding the government of the Roman Church possessed the principle authority in faith and in priesthood. Tell us, therefore, we beg of you, Peter, prince of Apostles, tell us how the Churches must believe in God (Cassian, Contra Nestorium, III, 12, CSEL, vol. 17, p. 276)

 

4. St. Nilus of Constantinople (d. c. 430)

A disciple of St. John Chrysostom

Peter, Head of the choir of Apostles. (Nilus, Lib. ii Epistl.)

Peter, who was foremost in the choir of Apostles and always ruled amongst them. (Nilus, Tract. ad. Magnam.)

 

5. Macedonius II, Patriarch of Constantinople (d. 517)

Macedonius declared, when desired by the Emperor Anastasius to condemn the Council of Chalcedon, that ‘such a step without an Ecumenical Synod presided over by the Pope of Rome is impossible.’ (Macedonius, Patr. Graec. 108: 360a; Theophan. Chronogr. pp. 234-346 seq.)

 

6. Emperor Justinian (Reigned: 527-565)

Writing to the Pope:
Yielding honor to the Apostolic See and to Your Holiness, and honoring your Holiness, as one ought to honor a father, we have hastened to subject all the priests of the whole Eastern district, and to unite them to the See of your Holiness, for we do not allow of any point, however manifest and indisputable it be, which relates to the state of the Churches, not being brought to the cognizance of your Holiness, since you are the Head of all the holy Churches. (Justinian Epist. ad. Pap. Joan. ii. Cod. Justin. lib. I. tit. 1).

Let your Apostleship show that you have worthily succeeded to the Apostle Peter, since the Lord will work through you, as Surpreme Pastor, the salvation of all. (Coll. Avell. Ep. 196, July 9th, 520, Justinian to Pope Hormisdas).

 

7. St. Maximus the Confessor (d. 662)

A celebrated theologian and a native of Constantinople

The extremities of the earth, and everyone in every part of it who purely and rightly confess the Lord, look directly towards the Most Holy Roman Church and her confession and faith, as to a sun of unfailing light awaiting from her the brilliant radiance of the sacred dogmas of our Fathers, according to that which the inspired and holy Councils have stainlessly and piously decreed. For, from the descent of the Incarnate Word amongst us, all the churches in every part of the world have held the greatest Church alone to be their base and foundation, seeing that, according to the promise of Christ Our Savior, the gates of hell will never prevail against her, that she has the keys of the orthodox confession and right faith in Him, that she opens the true and exclusive religion to such men as approach with piety, and she shuts up and locks every heretical mouth which speaks against the Most High. (Maximus, Opuscula theologica et polemica, Migne, Patr. Graec. vol. 90)

How much more in the case of the clergy and Church of the Romans, which from old until now presides over all the churches which are under the sun? Having surely received this canonically, as well as from councils and the apostles, as from the princes of the latter (Peter and Paul), and being numbered in their company, she is subject to no writings or issues in synodical documents, on account of the eminence of her pontificate …..even as in all these things all are equally subject to her (the Church of Rome) according to sacerodotal law. And so when, without fear, but with all holy and becoming confidence, those ministers (the popes) are of the truly firm and immovable rock, that is of the most great and Apostolic Church of Rome. (Maximus, in J.B. Mansi, ed. Amplissima Collectio Conciliorum, vol. 10)

If the Roman See recognizes Pyrrhus to be not only a reprobate but a heretic, it is certainly plain that everyone who anathematizes those who have rejected Pyrrhus also anathematizes the See of Rome, that is, he anathematizes the Catholic Church. I need hardly add that he excommunicates himself also, if indeed he is in communion with the Roman See and the Catholic Church of God …Let him hasten before all things to satisfy the Roman See, for if it is satisfied, all will agree in calling him pious and orthodox. For he only speaks in vain who thinks he ought to pursuade or entrap persons like myself, and does not satisfy and implore the blessed Pope of the most holy Catholic Church of the Romans, that is, the Apostolic See, which is from the incarnate of the Son of God Himself, and also all the holy synods, accodring to the holy canons and definitions has received universal and surpreme dominion, authority, and power of binding and loosing over all the holy churches of God throughout the whole world. (Maximus, Letter to Peter, in Mansi x, 692).

 

8. John VI, Patriarch of Constantinople (Enthroned: 712)

The Pope of Rome, the head of the Christian priesthood, whom in Peter, the Lord commanded to confirm his brethren. (John VI, Epist. ad Constantin. Pap. ad. Combefis, Auctuar. Bibl. P.P. Graec.tom. ii. p. 211, seq.)

 

9. St. Nicephorus, Patriarch of Constantinople (d. 828)

Without whom (the Romans presiding in the seventh Council) a doctrine brought forward in the Church could not, even though confirmed by canonical decrees and by ecclesiastical usuage, ever obtain full approval or currency. For it is they (the Popes of Rome) who have had assigned to them the rule in sacred things, and who have received into their hands the dignity of headship among the Apostles. (Nicephorus, Niceph. Cpl. pro. s. imag. c 25 [Mai N. Bibl. pp. ii. 30])

 

10. St. Theodore the Studite of Constantinople (d. 826)

Writing to Pope Leo III:
Since to great Peter Christ our Lord gave the office of Chief Shepherd after entrusting him with the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, to Peter or his successor must of necessity every novelty in the Catholic Church be referred. [Therefore], save us, oh most divine Head of Heads, Chief Shepherd of the Church of Heaven. (Theodore, Bk. I. Ep. 23)

Writing to Pope Paschal:
Hear, O Apostolic Head, divinely-appointed Shepherd of Christ’s sheep, keybearer of the Kingdom of Heaven, Rock of the Faith upon whom the Catholic Church is built. For Peter art thou, who adornest and governest the Chair of Peter. Hither, then, from the West, imitator of Christ, arise and repel not for ever (Ps. xliii. 23). To thee spake Christ our Lord: ‘And thou being one day converted, shalt strengthen thy brethren.’ Behold the hour and the place. Help us, thou that art set by God for this. Stretch forth thy hand so far as thou canst. Thou hast strength with God, through being the first of all. (Letter of St. Theodore and four other Abbots to Pope Paschal, Bk. ii Ep. 12, Patr. Graec. 99, 1152-3)

Writing to Emperor Michael:
Order that the declaration from old Rome be received, as was the custom by Tradition of our Fathers from of old and from the beginning. For this, O Emperor, is the highests of the Churches of God, in which first Peter held the Chair, to whom the Lord said: Thou art Peter …and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Theodore, Bk. II. Ep. 86)

I witness now before God and men, they have torn themselves away from the Body of Christ, from the Surpreme See (Rome), in which Christ placed the keys of the Faith, against which the gates of hell (I mean the mouth of heretics) have not prevailed, and never will until the Consummation, according to the promise of Him Who cannot lie. Let the blessed and Apostolic Paschal (Pope St. Paschal I) rejoice therefore, for he has fulfilled the work of Peter. (Theodore Bk. II. Ep. 63)

In truth we have seen that a manifest successor of the prince of the Apostles presides over the Roman Church. We truly believe that Christ has not deserted the Church here (Constantinople), for assistance from you has been our one and only aid from of old and from the beginning by the providence of God in the critical times. You are, indeed the untroubled and pure fount of orthodoxy from the beginning, you the calm harbor of the whole Church, far removed from the waves of heresy, you the God-chosen city of refuge. (Letter of St. Theodor and Four Abbots to Pope Paschal)

Let him (Patriarch Nicephorus of Constantinople) assemble a synod of those with whom he has been at variance, if it is impossible that representatives of the other Patriarchs should be present, a thing which might certainly be if the Emperor should wish the Western Patriarch (the Roman Pope) to be present, to whom is given authority over an ecumenical synod; but let him make peace and union by sending his synodical letters to the prelate of the First See. (Theodore the Studite, Patr. Graec. 99, 1420)

  1. Edits: Listers, certain dates have been either corrected or changed for uniformity sake from the original Fisheater list; if there are any other corrections or quotes, please share them in the comment box below. Thank you. []

The Early Church in Jerusalem Followed the Pope: 7 Quotes from History

“In the power of the same Holy Spirit, Peter, also the foremost of the Apostles and the key-bearer of the Kingdom of Heaven, healed Aeneas the paralytic in the name of Christ.”
Cyril, Catech. xviii. n. 27

Listers, St. Peter is the Prince of the Apostles and our First Pope. Protestantism at its heart is divorced from history. Protestant “ecclesial communities” sprout up amongst shared value systems generally centered on one dynamic individual. These cults of personality are a far cry from our Early Church Fathers who toiled and died to bring us Scripture and the dogmas on Christ, Mary, and the Trinity. SPL has reproduced a portion of a popular article that has been published on many Catholic sites – though we think it originated with Fisheaters – cataloguing Eastern Fathers of the Church and their statements on St. Peter and the Keys of Heaven. Below are the historical comments of those who served Holy Mother Church in Jerusalem.1 Many of the quotes focus on the Keys of the Kingdom and other biblical images that denote the power and authority Christ gave to St. Peter. Those unfamiliar with these themes and their biblical foundation should familiarize themselves with the following lists:

 

True Christians Follow the Pope

 

St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, Vicar of Christ, pray for us.

Jerusalem & The Primacy of St. Peter

 

1. St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Patriarch (d. A.D. 386)

“Our Lord Jesus Christ then became a man, but by the many He was not known. But wishing to teach that which was not known, having assembled the disciples, He asked, ‘Whom do men say that the Son of man is?’ …And all being silent (for it was beyond man to learn) Peter, the Foremost of the Apostles, the Chief Herald of the Church, not using the language of his own finding, nor persuaded by human reasoning, but having his mind enlightened by the Father, says to Him, ‘Thou art the Christ,’ not simply that, but ‘the Son of the living God.'”
Cyril, Catech. xi. n. 3

“For Peter was there, who carrieth the keys of heaven.”
Cyril, Catechetical Lectures A.D. 350

“Peter, the chief and foremost leader of the Apostles, before a little maid thrice denied the Lord, but moved to penitence, he wept bitterly.”
Cyril, Catech ii. n. 15

“In the power of the same Holy Spirit, Peter, also the foremost of the Apostles and the key-bearer of the Kingdom of Heaven, healed Aeneas the paralytic in the name of Christ.”
Cyril, Catech. xviii. n. 27

 

2. St. Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem (d. A.D. 638)

“Teaching us all orthodoxy and destroying all heresy and driving it away from the God-protected halls of our holy Catholic Church. And together with these inspired syllables and characters, I accept all his (the pope’s) letters and teachings as proceeding from the mouth of Peter the Coryphaeus, and I kiss them and salute them and embrace them with all my soul … I recognize the latter as definitions of Peter and the former as those of Mark, and besides, all the heaven-taught teachings of all the chosen mystagogues of our Catholic Church.”
Sophronius, Mansi, xi. 461

“Transverse quickly all the world from one end to the other until you come to the Apostolic See (Rome), where are the foundations of the orthodox doctrine. Make clearly known to the most holy personages of that throne the questions agitated among us. Cease not to pray and to beg them until their apostolic and Divine wisdom shall have pronounced the victorious judgement and destroyed from the foundation …the new heresy.”
Sophronius, [quoted by Bishop Stephen of Dora to Pope Martin I at the Lateran Council], Mansi, 893

 

3. Stephen, Bishop of Dora in Palestine (c. A.D. 645)

“And for this cause, sometimes we ask for water to our head and to our eyes a fountain of tears, sometimes the wings of a dove, according to holy David, that we might fly away and announce these things to the Chair (the Chair of Peter at Rome) which rules and presides over all, I mean to yours, the head and highest, for the healing of the whole wound. For this it has been accustomed to do from old and from the beginning with power by its canonical or apostolic authority, because the truly great Peter, head of the Apostles, was clearly thought worthy not only to be trusted with the keys of heaven, alone apart from the rest, to open it worthily to believers, or to close it justly to those who disbelieve the Gospel of grace, but because he was also commissioned to feed the sheep of the whole Catholic Church; for ‘Peter,’ saith He, ‘lovest thou Me? Feed My sheep.’ And again, because he had in a manner peculiar and special, a faith in the Lord stronger than all and unchangeable, to be converted and to confirm his fellows and spiritual brethren when tossed about, as having been adorned by God Himself incarnate for us with power and sacerdotal authority …..And Sophronius of blessed memory, who was Patriarch of the holy city of Christ our God, and under whom I was bishop, conferring not with flesh and blood, but caring only for the things of Christ with respect to your Holiness, hastened to send my nothingness without delay about this matter alone to this Apostolic see, where are the foundations of holy doctrine.”

  1. Corrections: SPL made a few minor corrections to this list by double-checking it against other sources. If any lister sees an error or has another papal-supporting quote to add from Jerusalem, please comment below. Cheers. []

11 Reasons the Authority of Christianity Is Centered on St. Peter and Rome

The importance of establishing St. Peter’s ministry in Rome may be boiled down to authority and more specifically the historic existence and continuance of the Office of Vicar held by St. Peter.

Listers, Bl. John Henry Newman said it best: “To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.” History paints an overwhelming picture of St. Peter’s apostolic ministry in Rome and this is confirmed by a multitude of different sources within the Early Church. Catholic Encyclopedia states, “In opposition to this distinct and unanimous testimony of early Christendom, some few Protestant historians have attempted in recent times to set aside the residence and death of Peter at Rome as legendary. These attempts have resulted in complete failure.” Protestantism as a whole seeks to divorce Christianity from history by rending Gospel message out of its historical context as captured by our Early Church Fathers. One such target of these heresies is to devalue St. Peter and to twist the authority of Rome into a historical mishap within Christianity. To wit, the belief has as its end the ultimate end of all Catholic and Protestant dialogue – who has authority in Christianity?

 

Why is it important to defend the tradition of St. Peter and Rome?
The importance of establishing St. Peter’s ministry in Rome may be boiled down to authority and more specifically the historic existence and continuance of the Office of Vicar held by St. Peter. To understand why St. Peter was important and what authority was given to him by Christ SPL has composed two lists – 10 Biblical Reasons Christ Founded the Papacy and 13 Reasons St. Peter Was the Prince of the Apostles.

The rest of the list is cited from the Catholic Encyclopedia on St. Peter and represents only a small fraction of the evidence set therein.

 

The Apostolic Primacy of St. Peter and Rome

It is an indisputably established historical fact that St. Peter laboured in Rome during the last portion of his life, and there ended his earthly course by martyrdom. As to the duration of his Apostolic activity in the Roman capital, the continuity or otherwise of his residence there, the details and success of his labours, and the chronology of his arrival and death, all these questions are uncertain, and can be solved only on hypotheses more or less well-founded. The essential fact is that Peter died at Rome: this constitutes the historical foundation of the claim of the Bishops of Rome to the Apostolic Primacy of Peter.

St. Peter’s residence and death in Rome are established beyond contention as historical facts by a series of distinct testimonies extending from the end of the first to the end of the second centuries, and issuing from several lands.

 

1. The Gospel of St. John

That the manner, and therefore the place of his death, must have been known in widely extended Christian circles at the end of the first century is clear from the remark introduced into the Gospel of St. John concerning Christ’s prophecy that Peter was bound to Him and would be led whither he would not — “And this he said, signifying by what death he should glorify God” (John 21:18-19, see above). Such a remark presupposes in the readers of the Fourth Gospel a knowledge of the death of Peter.

 

2. Salutations, from Babylon

St. Peter’s First Epistle was written almost undoubtedly from Rome, since the salutation at the end reads: “The church that is in Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you: and so doth my son Mark” (5:13). Babylon must here be identified with the Roman capital; since Babylon on the Euphrates, which lay in ruins, or New Babylon (Seleucia) on the Tigris, or the Egyptian Babylon near Memphis, or Jerusalem cannot be meant, the reference must be to Rome, the only city which is called Babylon elsewhere in ancient Christian literature (Revelation 17:5; 18:10; “Oracula Sibyl.”, V, verses 143 and 159, ed. Geffcken, Leipzig, 1902, 111).

 

3. Gospel of St. Mark

From Bishop Papias of Hierapolis and Clement of Alexandria, who both appeal to the testimony of the old presbyters (i.e., the disciples of the Apostles), we learn that Mark wrote his Gospel in Rome at the request of the Roman Christians, who desired a written memorial of the doctrine preached to them by St. Peter and his disciples (Eusebius, Church History II.15, 3.40, 6.14); this is confirmed by Irenaeus (Against Heresies 3.1). In connection with this information concerning the Gospel of St. Mark, Eusebius, relying perhaps on an earlier source, says that Peter described Rome figuratively as Babylon in his First Epistle.

 

4. Testimony of Pope St. Clement I

Another testimony concerning the martyrdom of Peter and Paul is supplied by Clement of Rome in his Epistle to the Corinthians (written about A.D. 95-97), wherein he says (chapter 5):

“Through zeal and cunning the greatest and most righteous supports [of the Church] have suffered persecution and been warred to death. Let us place before our eyes the good Apostles — St. Peter, who in consequence of unjust zeal, suffered not one or two, but numerous miseries, and, having thus given testimony (martyresas), has entered the merited place of glory”.

He then mentions Paul and a number of elect, who were assembled with the others and suffered martyrdom “among us” (en hemin, i.e., among the Romans, the meaning that the expression also bears in chapter 4). He is speaking undoubtedly, as the whole passage proves, of the Neronian persecution, and thus refers the martyrdom of Peter and Paul to that epoch.

 

5. Testimony of St. Ignatius of Antioch

In his letter written at the beginning of the second century (before 117), while being brought to Rome for martyrdom, the venerable Bishop Ignatius of Antioch endeavours by every means to restrain the Roman Christians from striving for his pardon, remarking: “I issue you no commands, like Peter and Paul: they were Apostles, while I am but a captive” (Epistle to the Romans 4). The meaning of this remark must be that the two Apostles laboured personally in Rome, and with Apostolic authority preached the Gospel there.

 

6. Taught in the Same Place in Italy

Bishop Dionysius of Corinth, in his letter to the Roman Church in the time of Pope Soter (165-74), says:

“You have therefore by your urgent exhortation bound close together the sowing of Peter and Paul at Rome and Corinth. For both planted the seed of the Gospel also in Corinth, and together instructed us, just as they likewise taught in the same place in Italy and at the same time suffered martyrdom” (in Eusebius, Church History II.25).

 

 

7. Rome: Founded by Sts. Peter and Paul

Irenaeus of Lyons, a native of Asia Minor and a disciple of Polycarp of Smyrna (a disciple of St. John), passed a considerable time in Rome shortly after the middle of the second century, and then proceeded to Lyons, where he became bishop in 177; he described the Roman Church as the most prominent and chief preserver of the Apostolic tradition, as “the greatest and most ancient church, known by all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul” (Against Heresies 3.3; cf. 3.1). He thus makes use of the universally known and recognized fact of the Apostolic activity of Peter and Paul in Rome, to find therein a proof from tradition against the heretics.

 

8. St. Peter Announced the Word of God in Rome

In his “Hypotyposes” (Eusebius, Church History IV.14), Clement of Alexandria, teacher in the catechetical school of that city from about 190, says on the strength of the tradition of the presbyters: “After Peter had announced the Word of God in Rome and preached the Gospel in the spirit of God, the multitude of hearers requested Mark, who had long accompanied Peter on all his journeys, to write down what the Apostles had preached to them” (see above).

 

9. Rome: Where Authority is Ever Within Reach

Like Irenaeus, Tertullian appeals, in his writings against heretics, to the proof afforded by the Apostolic labours of Peter and Paul in Rome of the truth of ecclesiastical tradition. In De Præscriptione 36, he says:

“If thou art near Italy, thou hast Rome where authority is ever within reach. How fortunate is this Church for which the Apostles have poured out their whole teaching with their blood, where Peter has emulated the Passion of the Lord, where Paul was crowned with the death of John.”

In Scorpiace 15, he also speaks of Peter’s crucifixion. “The budding faith Nero first made bloody in Rome. There Peter was girded by another, since he was bound to the cross”. As an illustration that it was immaterial with what water baptism is administered, he states in his book (On Baptism 5) that there is “no difference between that with which John baptized in the Jordan and that with which Peter baptized in the Tiber”; and against Marcion he appeals to the testimony of the Roman Christians, “to whom Peter and Paul have bequeathed the Gospel sealed with their blood” (Against Marcion 4.5).

 

10. Come to the Vatican and See for Yourself

The Roman, Caius, who lived in Rome in the time of Pope Zephyrinus (198-217), wrote in his “Dialogue with Proclus” (in Eusebius, Church History II.25) directed against the Montanists: “But I can show the trophies of the Apostles. If you care to go to the Vatican or to the road to Ostia, thou shalt find the trophies of those who have founded this Church”.

By the trophies (tropaia) Eusebius understands the graves of the Apostles, but his view is opposed by modern investigators who believe that the place of execution is meant. For our purpose it is immaterial which opinion is correct, as the testimony retains its full value in either case. At any rate the place of execution and burial of both were close together; St. Peter, who was executed on the Vatican, received also his burial there. Eusebius also refers to “the inscription of the names of Peter and Paul, which have been preserved to the present day on the burial-places there” (i.e. at Rome).

 

11. Ancient Epigraphic Memorial

There thus existed in Rome an ancient epigraphic memorial commemorating the death of the Apostles. The obscure notice in the Muratorian Fragment (“Lucas optime theofile conprindit quia sub praesentia eius singula gerebantur sicuti et semote passionem petri evidenter declarat”, ed. Preuschen, Tübingen, 1910, p. 29) also presupposes an ancient definite tradition concerning Peter’s death in Rome.

The apocryphal Acts of St. Peter and the Acts of Sts. Peter and Paul likewise belong to the series of testimonies of the death of the two Apostles in Rome.

The First 10 Popes of the Catholic Church

Listers, we’ve catalogued the first ten Vicars of Christ for the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. Save the information on our first pope – St. Peter – all the information presented is taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia and links for further reading are provided.

 

Painting of Saint Peter by Peter Paul Rubens depicting the saint as Pope (1611-1612) – Wikipedia

1. Pope St. Peter (32-67)

St. Peter held a primacy amongst the twelve disciples that earned him the title “Prince of the Apostles.” This primacy of St. Peter was solidified when he was appointed by Jesus to the Office of the Vicar – demonstrated by Christ giving St. Peter the Keys to the Kingdom. To understand St. Peter, one must first understand Christ and the Church Christ came to establish. Jesus is the “Son of David” and his life and ministry fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies of the New Davidic Kingdom and New Jerusalem; hence, we look to the historic kingdom of King David as a guide to the New Davidic Kingdom. King David had a vicar that ruled his kingdom when David was absent  and the sign of authority for this vicar was the keys of the kingdom. In the New Davidic Kingdom, Christ the Son of David gave the keys to his Vicar to guide the Kingdom until the return of Christ – we now refer to this vicar as “the pope.”  SPL has written extensively on these issue in 10 Biblical Reasons Christ Founded the Papacy and 13 Reasons St. Peter Was the Prince of the Apostles.

2. Pope St. Linus (67-76)

All the ancient records of the Roman bishops which have been handed down to us by St. Irenaeus, Julius Africanus, St. Hippolytus, Eusebius, also the Liberian catalogue of 354, place the name of Linus directly after that of the Prince of the Apostles, St. Peter. These records are traced back to a list of the Roman bishops which existed in the time of Pope Eleutherus (about 174-189), when Irenaeus wrote his book “Adversus haereses”. As opposed to this testimony, we cannot accept as more reliable Tertullian’s assertion, which unquestionably places St. Clement (De praescriptione, xxii) after the Apostle Peter, as was also done later by other Latin scholars (Jerome, Illustrious Men 15). The Roman list in Irenaeus has undoubtedly greater claims to historical authority. This author claims that Pope Linus is the Linus mentioned by St. Paul in his 2 Timothy 4:21. The passage by Irenaeus (Against Heresies III.3.3) reads:

After the Holy Apostles (Peter and Paul) had founded and set the Church in order (in Rome) they gave over the exercise of the episcopal office to Linus. The same Linus is mentioned by St. Paul in his Epistle to Timothy. His successor was Anacletus.

We cannot be positive whether this identification of the pope as being the Linus mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:21 goes back to an ancient and reliable source, or originated later on account of the similarity of the name. [Read More]

3. Pope St. Anacletus (Cletus) (76-88)

The second successor of St. Peter. Whether he was the same as Cletus, who is also called Anencletus as well as Anacletus, has been the subject of endless discussion. Irenaeus, Eusebius, Augustine, Optatus, use both names indifferently as of one person. Tertullian omits him altogether. To add to the confusion, the order is different. Thus Irenaeus has Linus, Anacletus, Clement; whereas Augustine and Optatus put Clement before Anacletus. On the other hand, the “Catalogus Liberianus”, the “Carmen contra Marcionem” and the “Liber Pontificalis”, all most respectable for their antiquity, make Cletus and Anacletus distinct from each other; while the “Catalogus Felicianus” even sets the latter down as a Greek, the former as a Roman. [Read More]

4. Pope St. Clement I (88-97)

Pope Clement I (called CLEMENS ROMANUS to distinguish him from the Alexandrian), is the first of the successors of St. Peter of whom anything definite is known, and he is the first of the “Apostolic Fathers”. His feast is celebrated 23 November. He has left one genuine writing, a letter to the Church of Corinth, and many others have been attributed to him.

According to Tertullian, writing c. 199, the Roman Church claimed that Clement was ordained by St. Peter (De Praescript., xxxii), and St. Jerome tells us that in his time “most of the Latins” held that Clement was the immediate successor of the Apostle (Illustrious Men 15). St. Jerome himself in several other places follows this opinion, but here he correctly states that Clement was the fourth pope. [Read More]

In defense of the historical fact that the “Early Church” was also the Catholic Church, SPL composed a list entitled The Apostles Appointed Bishops: 9 Teachings from St. Clement AD 97. The list shows a very early snapshot of the Early Church and its Catholicity.

5. Pope St. Evaristus (97-105)

Date of birth unknown; died about 107. In the Liberian Catalogue his name is given as Aristus. In papal catalogues of the second century used by Irenaeus and Hippolytus, he appears as the fourth successor of St. Peter, immediately after St Clement. The same lists allow him eight years of reign, covering the end of the first and the beginning of the second century (from about 98 or 99 to about 106 or 107). The earliest historical sources offer no authentic data about him. In his “Ecclesiastical History” Eusebius says merely that he succeeded Clement in the episcopate of the Roman Church which fact was already known from St. Irenæus. This order of succession is undoubtedly correct. [Read More]

6. Pope St. Alexander I (105-115)

St. Irenaeus of Lyons, writing in the latter quarter of the second century, reckons him as the fifth pope in succession from the Apostles, though he says nothing of his martyrdom.

His pontificate is variously dated by critics, e.g. 106-115 (Duchesne) or 109-116 (Lightfoot). In Christian antiquity he was credited with a pontificate of about ten years (Eusebius, Church History IV.1) and there is no reason to doubt that he was on the “catalogue of bishops” drawn up at Rome by Hegesippus (Eusebius, IV, xxii, 3) before the death of Pope Eleutherius (c. 189). According to a tradition extant in the Roman Church at the end of the fifth century, and recorded in the Liber Pontificalis he suffered a martyr’s death by decapitation on the Via Nomentana in Rome, 3 May. [Read More]

Detail of Saint Sixtus from Sistine Madonna, painting by Raphael c.1513.

7. Pope St. Sixtus I (115-125)

Pope St. Sixtus I (in the oldest documents, Xystus is the spelling used for the first three popes of that name), succeeded St. Alexander and was followed by St. Telesphorus. According to the “Liberian Catalogue” of popes, he ruled the Church during the reign of Adrian “a conulatu Nigri et Aproniani usque Vero III et Ambibulo”, that is, from 117 to 126. Eusebius, who in his “Chronicon” made use of a catalogue of popes different from the one he used in his “Historia ecclesiastica”, states in his “Chronicon” that Sixtus I was pope from 114 to 124, while in his “History” he makes him rule from 114 to 128. All authorities agree that he reigned about ten years. He was a Roman by birth, and his father’s name was Pastor. [Read More]

8. Pope St. Telesphorus (125-136)

St. Telesphorus was the seventh Roman bishop in succession from the Apostles, and, according to the testimony of St. Irenæus (Against Heresies III.3.3), suffered a glorious martyrdom. Eusebius (Church History IV.7, IV.14) places the beginning of his pontificate in the twelfth of Hadrian’s reign (128-129), his death in the first year of the reign of Antoninus Pius (138-139). [Read More]

9. Pope St. Hyginus (136-140)

Reigned about 138-142; succeeded Pope Telesphorus, who, according to Eusebius (Church History IV.15), died during the first year of the reign of the Emperor Antonius Pius — in 138 or 139, therefore. But the chronology of these bishops of Rome cannot be determined with any degree of exactitude by the help of the authorities at our disposal today. According to the “Liber Pontificalis”, Hyginus was a Greek by birth. The further statement that he was previously a philosopher is probably founded on the similarity of his name with that of two Latin authors. [Read More]

10. Pope St. Pius I (140-155)

Date of birth unknown; pope from about 140 to about 154. According to the earliest list of the popes, given by Irenaeus (Against Heresies II.31; cf. Eusebius, Church History V.6), Pius was the ninth successor of St. Peter. The dates given in the Liberian Catalogue for his pontificate (146-61) rest on a false calculation of earlier chroniclers, and cannot be accepted. The only chronological datum we possess is supplied by the year of St. Polycarp of Smyrna’s death, which may be referred with great certainty to 155-6.

During the pontificate of Pius the Roman Church was visited by various heretics, who sought to propagate their false doctrine among the faithful of the capital. The Gnostic Valentinus, who had made his appearance under Pope Hyginus, continued to sow his heresy, apparently not without success. The Gnostic Cerdon was also active in Rome at this period, during which Marcion arrived in the capital (see MARCIONITES). Excluded from communion by Pius, the latter founded his heretical body (Irenaeus, Against Heresies III.3). But Catholic teachers also visited the Roman Church, the most important being St. Justin, who expounded the Christian teachings during the pontificate of Pius and that of his successor. A great activity thus marks the Christian community in Rome, which stands clearly conspicuous as the centre of the Church. [Read More]

4 of the Most Controversial Lists on St. Peter’s List

Listers, brass is mistaken for gold more easily than clay.1 It is easy to say the heathens and Hitlers of the world need Christ and His Church, but what of the Protestants? Are they saved because they worship Christ or is their Christ more a personalized term than a person? Are we prepared to critique what is brass in the world, even if the Protestants, Orthodox or secular humanitarians share or emulate our virtues? There is One God, One Christ, One Groom and One Bride. There is One Kingdom with One King, One Vicar and One Queen.

All humans are in need of Jesus Christ and the Messiah commissioned St. Peter and the Apostles to care for his sheep and guard his Church. We cannot let our modernist upbringings dull the trenchant truth of Christ nor can we let some misplaced zeal blur the evangelistic nuances necessary to reach a protestant, an Orthodox or an atheist.

Know the faith listers. It is in Holy Mother Church that we find the unadulterated love and person of Jesus Christ.

Click the titles to go to the list.

St Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr, pray for us.

1. Those Who Start Their Own Church Follow the Voice of Satan: 11 Teachings from St. Cyprian AD 250

The unsettling words of St. Cyprian share their effect on Protestants and Catholics alike – primarily because we are all modernists accustomed to pluralism and inclusive speech. The Early Church writer clearly states there is One Savior and One Bride, His Church and that the One Church of Christ can only be the Church entrusted to the Apostles and to their disciples, the Bishops of the Church. Those who start their own “churches”  – breaking apostolic succession – sit in the “seat of pestilence, plagues, and spots of the faith, deceiving with serpent’s tongue, and artful in corrupting the truth, vomiting forth deadly poisons from pestilential tongues.” Complimenting the words of the saint are the similar words of our fourth Pope in the list The Apostles Appointed Bishops: 9 Teachings from St. Clement AD 97.

Listers, our Lord Jesus Christ is not returning to our world for a harem of “churches.”There is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and it was founded by Christ and charged by him to St. Peter and the Apostles. However, there are now and always have been those groups that attempt to rend Christ from his Church – to recreate that which God gave us, the Church. In AD 250, St. Cyprian wrote an outstanding work entitled On the Unity of the Church. The epistle focuses especially on the topic of schism and those who would set themselves up as Church leaders and/or start their own “churches.” Without question, these groups are proto-protestant groups and the saint’s arguments apply just as much to our modern schismatic and heretical groups as they did to his ancient schismatic groups.2

“He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother.”

“And this unity we ought firmly to hold and assert, especially those of us that are bishops who preside in the Church, that we may also prove the episcopate itself to be one and undivided. Let no one deceive the brotherhood by a falsehood: let no one corrupt the truth of the faith by perfidious prevarication. The episcopate is one, each part of which is held by each one for the whole.”

“What sacrifices do those who are rivals of the priests think that they celebrate? Do they deem that they have Christ with them when they are collected together, who are gathered together outside the Church of Christ?” – St. Cyprian, AD 250

2. All Human Creatures Are Subject to the Pope: 8 Papal Quotes On Salvation

God promised King David that a descendant of his would sit upon his throne forever. In the wake of this promise, the Old Testament prophets foretold of a “New Davidic Kingdom” and the Messiah – the Son of David – who would save God’s people. Undoubtedly, Christ is the Messiah – the Son of David – and his Kingdom is a Davidic Kingdom. In David’s Kingdom there was a Vicar who had the key of the kingdom and ruled in David’s stead whilst he was way. The Son of David is no different in his Kingdom – he gave St. Peter the keys of the Kingdom and St. Peter – the First Pope or Vicar of Christ – and his successors hold the Kingdom to the teachings of the King. The list All Human Creatures Are Subject to the Pope is built upon this biblical truth. Those looking for the scriptural evidence of the papacy may enjoy 10 Biblical Reasons Christ Founded the Papacy and the forerunner to that list: 13 Biblical Reasons St. Peter was “Prince of the Apostles.”

Listers, the following is a short compilation of quotes taken from previous Ecumenical Pontiffs of Rome: “Outside the Church there is no hope for salvation.” These quotes show us the confidence that our previous Bishops of Rome have had in their authority given by God Himself to be the Vicar of Christ here on Earth. As St. Augustine said, “Rome has spoken, the case is closed.” Cheers!

Those wishing to balance these quotes with a catechetical understanding of salvation outside the Church may turn to How Were Men Saved Before Christ and 10 Other Questions and Can Non-Catholics Be Saved and 21 Other Questions.

“The holy universal Church teaches that it is not possible to worship God truly except in Her and asserts that all who are outside of Her will not be saved.”

Pope Saint Gregory the Great (590-604)

“We declare, say , define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”
Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam (1302 AD)

3. 6 Things to Know About the “Miracle of the Holy Fire”

The “Miracle of the Holy Fire” is a longstanding event in the Orthodox Church that is often times used as proof the power of the Resurrection of Christ lies in his “true church,” the Orthodox. Of course, Catholics rebuttal that the fire is nothing more than a fraud. As one can imagine this devolves quite quickly into Catholic vs Orthodox polemics.

Listers, the following is a brief examination of the controversial “Miracle of the Holy Fire.” The Greek Orthodox Patriarch enters the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on Holy Saturday – according to the Orthodox calendar. He proceeds into the Tomb of Christ and begins to pray. A fire is then miraculously enkindled by the Holy Spirit – supposedly the power of the resurrection – and is shared rapidly throughout the Church and all those who are waiting outside. To be clear, it is said that Pope Gregory the IX declared “Holy Fire” a fraud in AD 1238, but a primary source is needed to confirm this papal statement. Today, the miracle is not recognized by the Catholic Church, but is considered a pious tradition of certain Orthodox Churches.

Setting everything about the “holy fire” event aside, St. Peter’s List would like to remind listers that Pope Benedict XVI is building a legacy of being the “Pope of Christian Unity.” As Holy Mother Church staves off militant secularism on one side and militant Islam on the other, we should be praying for unity amongst those who call themselves followers of Christ. This is in no way a fanciful call to “just get along,” as any Orthodox/Catholic discussion on the role of the papacy, the crusades, St. Augustine and the filioque will leave blood on the floor. Regardless, pray and strive for unity.

4. 4 Sources to Understand and Even Defend the Catholic Inquisitions

Turning primarily to a video by Michael Voris and an academic article by Thomas F. Madden, St. Peter’s List wants to place the three historical inquisitions of the Church in historical context. It should be well noted that the list does not exonerate those who operated under the guise of the Catholic Church from all wrongdoing and crimes; however, what the list does do is defend what our culture has erroneously deemed indefensible by using historical facts and comparisons to whittle down the propaganda and engage in an actual conversation about the inquisitions.

Listers, most believe that the “Spanish Inquisition” was a dark and embarrassing era within the Catholic Church. The rhetoric is well known: thousands were imprisoned, non-Catholics were tortured, and a “convert-or-die” travesty swept over much of Europe. However, what if the Church’s three primary inquisitions – the Medieval, the Spanish, and the Roman – were created to harbor people from injustice, to grant the accused individuals more rights and legal representation than in secular courts, or to secure the concept of “due process,” which became a precursor to English law and eventually the American Constitution? Moreover, what if history shows that the common misperception of the Church’s Inquisitions are based on vulgar protestant propaganda wars? All these questions and more are addressed and answered in a well-documented fashion by the following sources.

Although the Spanish defeated Protestants on the battlefield, they would lose the propaganda war. These were the years when the famous “Black Legend” of Spain was forged. Innumerable books and pamphlets poured from northern presses accusing the Spanish Empire of inhuman depravity and horrible atrocities in the New World. Opulent Spain was cast as a place of darkness, ignorance, and evil. Although modern scholars have long ago discarded the Black Legend, it still remains very much alive today. Quick: Think of a good conquistador.

Like all courts in Europe, the Spanish Inquisition used torture. But it did so much less often than other courts. Modern researchers have discovered that the Spanish Inquisition applied torture in only 2 percent of its cases. Each instance of torture was limited to a maximum of 15 minutes. In only 1 percent of the cases was torture applied twice and never for a third time.

  1. Irony: The “brass is mistaken for gold more easily than clay” originates – as far as I know – with CS Lewis, whom converted to Anglicanism and not Catholicism, though it was Tolkien that led him to Christ. []
  2. Novatian: Another impetus of the epistle was the first “anti-pope” who attempted to claim he was holier than the rest of the Church and claimed moral superiority, especially in not wanting to ever extend forgiveness to sins post-baptism. []

5 Reflections from the Early Church on Saints Peter and Paul

Many modern day academics enjoy setting St. Peter and St. Paul in enmity with one another; however, the over emphasis of Galatians 2:11-14 by modern scholarship fails to acknowledge that even though they had a disagreement their mission of spreading the Gospel was the same.

Listers, on this Solemnity of St. Peter and Paul, it is important to reflect on what their martyrdom meant for the early church. Many modern day academics enjoy setting St. Peter and St. Paul in enmity with one another; however, the over emphasis of Galatians 2:11-14 by modern scholarship fails to acknowledge that even though they had a disagreement their mission of spreading the Gospel was the same. In this spirit, I present to you five reflections by members of the early church on the mutual impact that St. Peter and Paul had on the early church. Prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to let St. Peter and St. Paul’s example of faithfulness unto death be your focus today and everyday.

#1 St. Irenaeus on St. Peter and Paul’s Influence in the Church in Rome

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 meeting; [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; also [by pointing out] the faith they 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 apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere. — Against Heresies 3.3.2.

#2 Tertullian on Paul’s Transition from Persecutor to Persecuted*

But how Paul, an apostle, from being a persecutor, who first of all shed the blood of the church, though afterwards he exchanged the sword for the pen, and turned the dagger into a plough, being first a ravening wolf of Benjamin, then himself supplying food as did Jacob, how he, (I say) speaks in favour of martyrdoms, now to be chosen by himself also, when rejoicing over the Thessalonians, he says, “So that we glory in you in the churches of God, for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations, in which ye endure a manifestation of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be accounted worthy of His kingdom, for which ye also suffer!” As also in his Epistle to the Romans: “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also, being sure that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope; and hope maketh us not ashamed”…

…You see what he decides the bliss of martyrdom to be, in honour of which he is providing a festival of mutual joy. When at length he had come to be very near the attainment of his desire, greatly rejoicing in what we saw before him, he writes in thse terms to Timothy: “For I am already being offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; there is laid up for me the crown which the Lord will give me on that day” — doubtless of his suffering. Admonition enough did he for his part also give in preceding passages: “It is a faithful saying: For if we are dead with Christ, we shall also live with Him; if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He also will deny us; if we believe not, yet He is faithful: He cannot deny himself.” “Be not thou, therefore, ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His Prisoner;” for he had said before: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” For we suffer with power from love toward God, and with a sound mind, when we suffer for our blamelessness. But further, if He anywhere enjoins endurance, for what more than for sufferings is He providing it? It anywhere He tears men away from idolatry, what more than martyrdom takes the lead, in tearing them away to its injury?” — Scoripace, 8.

#3 St. Clement of Alexandria on the Example of Martyrdom

But not to dwell upon ancient examples, let us come to the most recent spiritual heroes. Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation. Through envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars [of the Church] have been persecuted and put to death. Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labours and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience…

…These things, beloved, we write unto to you, not to merely admonish you of your duty, but also to remind ourselves. For we are struggling on the same arena, and the same conflict is assigned to both of us. Wherefore let us give up vain and fruitless cares, and approach to the glorious and venerable rule of our holy calling. Let us attend to what is good, pleasing, and acceptable in the sight of Him who formed us. Let us look steadfastly to the blood of Christ, and see how precious that blood is to God, which having been shed for our salvation, has set the grace of repentance before the whole world. —The First Epistle of Clement, 5-6.

#4 St. Augustine on the Purpose and Value of Marytrdom

What then have all those deaths of the martyrs accomplished? Listen: “As the fatness of the earth is spread over the earth, our bones have been scattered beside the pit.” “The bones” of the martyrs, that is, the bodies of the witnesses of Christ. The martyrs were slain, and they who slew them seemed to prevail. They prevailed by persecution, that the words of Christ might prevail by preaching. And what result of the deaths of the saints? What meaneth, “the fatness of the earth is spread over the earth”? We know that everything that is refuse is the fatness of the earth. The things which are as it were contemptible to men, enrich the earth…. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His Saints.” As it is contemptible to the world, so is it precious to the husbandman. For he knoweth the use thereof, and its rich juice; he knoweth what he desireth, what they seeketh, whence the fertile crop ariseth; but this world despiseth it. Know ye not that “God hath chosen the contemptible things of the world, and those which are not, like those which are, that the things which are may be brought to nought”? From the dunghill was Peter lifted up, and Paul; when they were put to death, they were despised: now, the earth having been enriched by them, and the cross of the Church springing up, behold, all that is noble and chief in the world, even the emperor himself, cometh to Rome , and whither does he hasten? to the temple of the emperor, or the memorial of the fishermen?On the Psalms, 141.

#5 St. Cyril of Jerusalem on the Nobility of St. Peter and Paul

And thus thou wilt be reminded of His pre-eminence, by the thought that a servant of Christ was caught up to the third heaven. For if Elias attained as far as the first heaven, but Paul as far as the third, the latter, therefore, has obtained a more honourable dignity. Be not ashamed of thine Apostles; they are not inferior to Moses, nor second to the Prophets; but they are noble among the noble, yea, nobler still. For Elias truly was taken up into heaven; but Peter has the keys of the kingdom of heaven, having received the words, “whatsoever thou shalt loose earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Elias was taken up only to heaven; but Paul both into heaven, and into paradise (for it behoved the disciples of Jesus to receive more manifold grace), and “unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for man to utter.” But Paul came down again from above, not because he was unworthy to abide in the third heaven, but in order that after having enjoyed things above man’s reach, and descended in honour, and having preached Christ, and died for His sake, he might receive also the crown of martyrdom. But I pass over the other parts of this argument, of which I spoke yesterday in the Lord’s-day congregation; for with understanding hearers, a mere reminder is sufficient of instruction. —Catechetical Lectures 14:26.

St. Peter and St. Paul, pray for us!

*Tertullian is not a saint; however, his ancient words on the goodness of St. Paul are still excellent to reflect on this holy day.

18 Quotes by Roman Pontiffs on Mary as Mediatrix

“If it is impossible to separate what God has united, it is also certain that you cannot find Jesus except with Mary and through Mary.” – St. Pius X

Roman Pontiffs on Mary as Mediatrix:

Treasury of All Good Things

1. “God has committed to her the treasury of all good things, in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation. For this is his will, that we obtain everything through Mary.” and “God has committed to the Blessed Virgin Mary the treasury of all good things in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace and all salvation.” (Pius IX: Encycl., Ubi primum, February 2, 1849.) — [p. 12, number 12; p. 18, no. 38]

Only Through Thee

2. “O Virgin most holy, none abounds in the knowledge of God except through thee; none, O Mother of God, obtains salvation except through thee, none receives a gift from the throne of mercy except through thee.” (Leo XIII: Encycl., Adiutricem populi, September 5, 1895.) — [p. 12, no. 13]

No One Goes to CHrist Except Through His Mother

3. “With equal truth it may be said that of the great treasury of all graces given to us by Our Lord—for grace and truth came by Jesus Christ—nothing comes to us except through Mary’s mediation, for such is God’s Will. Thus, as no man goes to the Father but by the Son, so no one goes to Christ except through his mother.” (Leo XIII, Encycl., Octobri mense, September 22, 1891.) — [pp. 13,14, no. 19]

With Mary and Through Mary

4. “If it is impossible to separate what God has united, it is also certain that you cannot find Jesus except with Mary and through Mary.” (St. Pius X: Allocution to the Franciscans, November 12, 1910.) — [p. 14, no. 20]

 

The “Our Lady of the Sign-Ark of Mercy” is the largest Monstrance in the World.

Our Lady of the Rosary

5. “Every day, as the Church herself recommends, priests will recite the Holy Rosary, which, by proposing for our meditation the mysteries of the Redeemer, leads us to Jesus through Mary.” (Pius XII: Exhortation, Menti nostri, September 23, 1950) — [p. 14, no. 23]

What We Owe the Virgin Mary

6. “As the various mysteries present themselves one after another in the formula of the Rosary, for the meditation and contemplation of men’s minds, they also make clear what we owe to Mary for our reconciliation and salvation.” (Leo XIII: Encycl., Fidentum Piumque, September 20, 1896.) [pp. 15,16, no. 29]

All Hope

7. “All our hope do we repose in the Most Blessed Virgin, in the all-fair and immaculate one who has crushed the most cruel serpent’s poisonous head and brought salvation to the world.” (Pius IX: Apost. Const., Ineffabilis Deus, December 8, 1854.) — [p. 18, no. 39]

The Mediatrix of Our Salvation

8. “O Holy Mother of God; to thee we lift our prayers for thou, powerful and merciful, art the Mediatrix of our salvation.” (Leo XIII: Encycl., Jucunda semper, September 8, 1894.) — [p. 19, no. 43]

Through the Mater Dei

9. “None, O Mother of God, obtains salvation except through thee, none receives a gift from the throne of mercy except through thee.” (Leo XIII: Adiutricem populi, September 5, 1895) — [p. 19, no. 44]

I Stand With the Catholic Church: 10 Pictures in Defense of the Church

Mary is the Mediatrix and the Dispenser of Graces

10. “Whenever we speak of Mary or speak to her, let us not forget that she is really our Mother, for through her we received divine life. She gave us Jesus himself, the source of grace. Mary is a Mediatrix and Dispenser of Graces.” (Pius XII: Radio message to the Italian Catholic Action, December 8, 1953) — [p. 22, no. 59]

Under her Patronage

11. “Since Mary is ‘Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope,’ let us cry to her, ‘mourning and weeping in the vale of tears,’ and place ourselves and all that is ours confidently under her patronage.” (Pius XII: Mediator Dei, November 20, 1947.) — [p. 25, no. 71]

Hope & Trust

12. “The Catholic Church has always and with justice put all her hope and trust in the Mother of God.” (Leo XIII: Encyclical, Supreme Apostolatus, September 1, 1883.) — [p. 32, no. 104]

Suffering with her Son

13. “According to the common teaching of the Doctors, it was God’s design that the Blessed Virgin Mary, apparently absent from the public life of Jesus, should assist him when he was dying nailed to the Cross. Mary suffered and as it were, nearly died with her suffering Son; for the salvation of mankind she renounced her mother’s rights and, as far as it depended on her, offered her Son to placate divine justice; so we may well say that she with Christ redeemed mankind.” (Benedict XV: Letter, Inter sodalicia, May 22, 1918.) [p. 35; no. 119]

Immune from All Sin

14. “She it was who, immune from all sin, personal or inherited, and ever more closely united with her Son, offered him on Golgotha to the Eternal Father….” (Pius XII: Encyclical, Mystical corporis, June 29, 1943.) [p. 37; no. 128.]

 

Sorrowful Heart of Mary, pray for us.

Necessary to Secure Salvation

15. “… it is evident that she cannot do other than help most devotedly her dearest adopted sons at an hour at which it is necessary to secure for them salvation and sanctity for all eternity.” (Benedict XV: Letter, Inter sodalicia, May 22, 1918.) [p. 46; no. 171]

She Has Received Us As Sons

16. “… It was before the eyes of Mary that the divine sacrifice for which she had borne and nurtured the Victim was to be finished. … In the miracle of love, so that she might receive us as her sons ….” (Leo XIII: Encyclical, Jucunda semper, September 8, 1894.) [p. 50; no.187]

All Graces to Mankind

17. “Mary is all powerful with her divine Son who grants all graces to mankind through her …” (Benedict XV: Encyclical, Fausto appetente die, June 29, 1921.) [p. 59; no. 244]

Salvation of the Christian People

18. “From whom can we expect the salvation of the Christian people today if not from her of whom it is written that whosoever shall find her shall find life and shall have salvation from the Lord?” (Pius XI: Letter, Cum valde, Februrary 20, 1929.) [p. 59; no. 245]

The Apostles Appointed Bishops: 9 Teachings from St. Clement AD 97

“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… 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.”

Listers, the Early Church was the Early Catholic Church. First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians is an orthodox window into the infancy of the Church (AD 97) and particularly into the structure of the Church.1 The Early Church is not an ambiguous or mysterious time. It is a well recorded period with a great number of writings from the Early Church Fathers. Clement lived in Rome only a stone throw away from the Coliseum. He is seen as a successor to St. Peter and is considered the fourth Pope of Rome, following St. Peter, St. Linus and St. Anacletus.2 Pope St. Clement I’s epistle has a well-paced catechetical tone and is quite mild compared to St. Cyprian’s On the Unity of the Church. St. Cyprian states, those who start their own “churches” are “deceiving with serpent’s tongue, and artful in corrupting the truth, vomiting forth deadly poisons from pestilential tongues” (AD 250).

Dear Protestants
St. Clement’s epistle to the faithful in Corinth is not a Catholic apologetics text or a work from the Counter-Reformation. The words come from a leader within the infancy of the Church of Christ – AD 97. One of the best hermeneutics when reading the Early Church Fathers is not only to pay attention to what they say, but to note well their assumptions about the faith. These assumptions are sometimes greater than their actual words, because the assumptions are the principles that are so ingrained into the Church that they are assumed truths, i.e., unquestioned and widely known. St. Clement’s epistle demonstrates this in a powerful way as he cannot envision “multiple churches” no more than he can imagine a Church outside the direct lineage of the apostles. An undercurrent in St. Clement’s writing and in all the Church Father’s is that perfect charity and perfect faith cannot exist in ecclesial and doctrinal disunity – there is only One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. At the very least, one should read this text and think to themselves: does my “church” sound like the Early Church – and if not, why?

Pope Clement I, Vicar of Christ and martyr, pray for us.

1. Virtue Thwarts Schism

Chapter II continues the epistle’s early theme of lauding the Corinthians in their virtues and prepares the discussion for the topic of schism.

Perfect Charity and Faith Demand Unity
“You were sincere and uncorrupted, and forgetful of injuries between one another. Every kind of faction and schism was abominable in your sight. You mourned over the transgressions of your neighbours: their deficiencies you deemed your own.”

 

2. Sts. Peter and Paul

In Chapter V, His Holiness Pope Clement I displays an important theme in early ecclesial thought: the remembrance of the Apostles. He turns first to his predecessor, St. Peter and his “numerous labours” in the faith until he “departed to the place of glory due to him.” Secondly, he calls to memory St. Paul who was “removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience.” It is not surprising the saint chooses Sts. Peter and Paul. Rome itself was consecrated not only by St. Peter’s office as the Vicar of Christ, but also by St. Paul’s ministry and martyrdom. St. Clement also refers to the “extreme west” and maybe referring to St. Paul actually making it to Spain.

The whole first part of the letter is exhortation to overcome schism, sedition and factions through virtue. The saint exhorts his readers that if they are going to be true believers like Sts. Peter and Paul, then they must endure through envy, anger, pride and all other vices that lead to disunity.

More Ecclesial Lists
10 Biblical Reasons Christ Founded the Papacy
13 Biblical Reasons St. Peter Was the “Prince of the Apostles”
Those Who Start Their Own Church Follow the Voice of Satan: 11 Teachings from St. Cyprian AD 250

 

3. The Old Testament

After calling to memory Sts. Peter and Paul, His Holiness speaks in Chapter VIII about how repentance and penance are ecclesial and inseparable from the People of God. The history of Israel is riddled with times of sedition and schism, but through virtue and obedience the People of God would remain together. It is undeniable that in the Old Testament there could be no distinction between the structural and physical unity of Israel and their spiritual and doctrinal unity. So too did Christ charge his apostles in with the care and guidance of Holy Mother Church, in which true faith and charity cannot exist without true unity.3

The People of God Are Always United

“As I live, says the Lord, I desire not the death of the sinner, but rather his repentance;” adding, moreover, this gracious declaration, “Repent, O house of Israel, of your iniquity.” Say to the children of my people, Though your sins reach from earth to heaven, and though they be redder than scarlet, and blacker than sack-cloth, yet if you turn to me with your whole heart, and say, Father! I will listen to you, as to a holy people. And in another place He speaks thus: “Wash you and become clean; put away the wickedness of your souls from before my eyes; cease from your evil ways, and learn to do well; seek out judgment, deliver the oppressed, judge the fatherless, and see that justice is done to the widow; and come, and let us reason together.”

 

4. St. Paul’s Corinthians

Skipping forward to Chapter XXXVII, the Bishop of Rome delves into analogies to explain the hierarchy of the Church. Pope Clement is writing to many of the same Corinthians to whom St. Paul wrote. Notice that His Holiness draws upon St. Paul’s own analogy of the Body of Christ and how this fits his constant theme of apostolic authority and exemplars.4

The Church Is Hierarchal

“Let us then, men and brethren, with all energy act the part of soldiers, in accordance with His holy commandments. Let us consider those who serve under our generals, with what order, obedience, and submissiveness they perform the things which are commanded them. All are not prefects, nor commanders of a thousand, nor of a hundred, nor of fifty, nor the like, but each one in his own rank performs the things commanded by the king and the generals. The great cannot subsist without the small, nor the small without the great. There is a kind of mixture in all things, and thence arises mutual advantage. Let us take our body for an example. The head is nothing without the feet, and the feet are nothing without the head; yea, the very smallest members of our body are necessary and useful to the whole body. But all work harmoniously together, and are under one common rule for the preservation of the whole body.”

 

5. The Divine Order of the Church

Chapter XL begins a turn in the epistle. His Holiness argues that the Lord has given the Church an order and a proper way to do things. Worship of God and the roles therein are not done “thoughtlessly or irregular.” Moreover, the order of the Church is given by God, not man. The Church and the worship of God are not matters of opinion or individuality, but of obedience and uniformity.

No Man Has the Authority to Order the Church

“These things therefore being manifest to us, and since we look into the depths of the divine knowledge, it behooves us to do all things in [their proper] order, which the Lord has commanded us to perform at stated times. He has enjoined offerings [to be presented] and service to be performed [to Him], and that not thoughtlessly or irregularly, but at the appointed times and hours. Where and by whom He desires these things to be done, He Himself has fixed by His own supreme will, in order that all things, being piously done according to His good pleasure, may be acceptable unto Him. Those, therefore, who present their offerings at the appointed times, are accepted and blessed; for inasmuch as they follow the laws of the Lord, they sin not. For his own peculiar services are assigned to the high priest, and their own proper place is prescribed to the priests, and their own special ministrations devolve on the Levites. The layman is bound by the laws that pertain to laymen.”

 

6. A Ministry Is Given

Chapter XLI continues discussing the preservation of Church Order. Here Pope Clement I turns to the Jewish religion and their rituals and even their punishments if Jews deviated from their proper manner or role. He then pivots in this point and says, “that the greater the knowledge that has been vouchsafed to us, the greater also is the danger to which we are exposed.” Also, notice that a man’s role in the Church – his ministry – is given to him. A strong assumption within Early Church texts is the notion that the order of the Church was given by God to man; thus, no man has the authority or capability to start his own “church.”

Danger Outside God’s Ecclesial Order

“Let every one of you, brethren, give thanks to God in his own order, living in all good conscience, with becoming gravity, and not going beyond the rule of the ministry prescribed to him. Not in every place, brethren, are the daily sacrifices offered, or the peace-offerings, or the sin-offerings and the trespass-offerings, but in Jerusalem only. And even there they are not offered in any place, but only at the altar before the temple, that which is offered being first carefully examined by the high priest and the ministers already mentioned. Those, therefore, who do anything beyond that which is agreeable to His will, are punished with death. You see, brethren, that the greater the knowledge that has been vouchsafed to us, the greater also is the danger to which we are exposed.”

 

7. The Apostle’s Appointed Bishops

Chapter XLII outlines a clear theology of succession from Christ to the Apostles to the Bishops of the Church. As an early Christian, how do you know if you belonged to the true Church? Well, does your community have a bishop? Did your bishop come from the Apostles who came from Christ our Lord who came from God the Father? It should be stressed this epistle is dated AD 97.

From God to the Apostles to Us

“The apostles have preached the gospel to us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ [has done so] from God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the apostles by Christ. Both these appointments, then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe. Nor was this any new thing, since indeed many ages before it was written concerning bishops and deacons. For thus says the Scripture in a certain place, I will appoint their bishops in righteousness, and their deacons in faith.”

 

8. Undeniable Apostolic Succession

In Chapter XLIV, St. Clement shuts the book on any doubt that the apostles chose and declared men to lead as bishops after their death. It is apostolic succession in a clear and practical manner articulated in AD 97.

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… 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.

One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church

“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. We are of opinion, therefore, that those appointed by them, or afterwards by other eminent men, with the consent of the whole church, and who have blamelessly served the flock of Christ, in a humble, peaceable, and disinterested spirit, and have for a long time possessed the good opinion of all, cannot be justly dismissed from the ministry. For our sin will not be small, if we eject from the episcopate those who have blamelessly and holily fulfilled its duties. Blessed are those presbyters who, having finished their course before now, have obtained a fruitful and perfect departure [from this world]; for they have no fear lest any one deprive them of the place now appointed them. But we see that you have removed some men of excellent behaviour from the ministry, which they fulfilled blamelessly and with honour.”

 

9. Rome Has Spoken

Chapter LIX reveals that Pope St. Clement I is not afraid to teach apostolic succession nor to utilize its authority as well. It is reminiscent of how St. Paul scolded the Churches he founded by an authority he traced to Christ and Sts. Peter and James.

Apostolic Authority

“If, however, any shall disobey the words spoken by Him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and serious danger; but we shall be innocent of this sin, and, instant in prayer and supplication, shall desire that the Creator of all preserve unbroken the computed number of His elect in the whole world through His beloved Son Jesus Christ, through whom He called us from darkness to light.”

Notice His Holiness presupposes that the Corinthians must listen to him and if they do not they risk the penalty of transgression and serious danger. Corinth is a community founded by St. Paul who probably has a bishop in place, but notice that Clement as Bishop of Rome speaks with authority that comes with spiritual ramifications. Why is the Bishop of Rome sending a letter to the Church of Corinth if Rome has no spiritual authority over Corinth?

  1. What books made the Bible? – There is a misconception that the books that were included in the Bible were simply all of the early Christian texts. The actual canon for Holy Scripture was formed by a need for the Church to show what was and what was not actually taught by the apostles; thus, the Church included all the works of the apostles and their closest companions. Many other good Catholic epistles existed, as I Clement, but they were not what was needed to defend the teaching of the apostles against the gnostics. []
  2. List of Popes []
  3. Old Testament Scripture: Ezekiel 33:11, Ezekiel 18:30, Isaiah 1:18 []
  4. Nature, Grace and Hierarch: Those familiar with Aquinas will know that man is by nature a political and social animal. Men are political animals that are naturally inclined to organize into communities, and as such hierarchy is also natural to man. If hierarchy is natural to man then ever more so would it be in the Church since grace perfects nature. []

Those Who Start Their Own Church Follow the Voice of Satan: 11 Teachings from St. Cyprian AD 250

“He [Satan] has invented heresies and schisms, whereby he might subvert the faith, might corrupt the truth, might divide the unity.”

Listers, our Lord Jesus Christ is not returning to our world for a harem of “churches.” There is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and it was founded by Christ and charged by him to St. Peter and the Apostles. However, there are now and always have been those groups that attempt to rend Christ from his Church – to recreate that which God gave us, the Church. In AD 250, St. Cyprian wrote an outstanding work entitled On the Unity of the Church. The epistle focuses especially on the topic of schism and those who would set themselves up as Church leaders and/or start their own “churches.” Without question, these groups are proto-protestant groups and the saint’s arguments apply just as much to our modern schismatic and heretical groups as they did to his ancient schismatic groups.1

Dear Protestant Readers
I ask you to consider the following a call to dialogue. St. Cyprian’s text is not a Catholic apologetic tract or a work from the Counter-Reformation, but an epistle from the Early Church. Growing up protestant there are simply certain questions that are never asked concerning the Christian faith, because those questions are outside the deeply rooted assumptions that support protestantism. Amongst those questions are ones concerning Christ and his Church. Protestants wonder how does one discern whether they are called to start a church? but rarely ask by what biblical authority does one start a church? Again, a distinction can be seen in asking what kind of church should we start? and the Catholic question of what type of Church did Christ intend to start? Asking biblical questions regarding Christ and his intention for his Spouse, the Church is the beginning of wisdom in discerning how God intended his charity and his salvation to be communicated to the world.

West, Expulsion of Adam & Eve from Paradise 1791

1. The New Voice of Satan

Pulling from Chapter III of St. Cyprian’s text, the saint teaches that those who call themselves “Christians” but leave the Catholic Church for a Christian sect are following the voice of Satan. Paganism was crumbling under the growth of the Church; thus, Satan started a “new way” to deceive.

The New Way of Satan
“He [Satan] has invented heresies and schisms, whereby he might subvert the faith, might corrupt the truth, might divide the unity. Those whom he cannot keep in the darkness of the old way2, he circumvents and deceives by the error of a new way3. He snatches men from the Church itself; and while they seem to themselves to have already approached to the light, and to have escaped the night of the world, he pours over them again, in their unconsciousness, new darkness.”

Still Call Themselves Christian
“So that, although they do not stand firm with the Gospel of Christ, and with the observation and law of Christ, they still call themselves Christians, and, walking in darkness, they think that they have the light, while the adversary is flattering and deceiving, who, according to the apostle’s word, transforms himself into an angel of light, and equips his ministers as if they were the ministers of righteousness, who maintain night instead of day, death for salvation, despair under the offer of hope, perfidy under the pretext of faith, antichrist under the name of Christ; so that, while they feign things like the truth, they make void the truth by their subtlety. This happens, beloved brethren, so long as we do not return to the source of truth, as we do not seek the head nor keep the teaching of the heavenly Master.”

This “new way” of Satan is the modus operandi that extends back to the garden. Satan does not tempt Adam and Eve with rebellion, but with being “like God.” Satan’s “new way” is to sell an incomplete and heretical faith to those seeking God.

St. Peter is the first Vicar of Christ and was given the keys of the Kingdom by Christ.

2. Founded upon the Apostles

In Chapter IV the saint moves to speaking of the “easy proof for faith in a short summary of the truth.” He rests this proof upon Christ’s charge to St. Peter and the Apostles. Here a watershed issue enters between Catholic and Protestant thought. For protestantism to consider itself legitimate – not a schismatic heresy – it must interpret all these apostolic charges as general proclamations from to Christ to any believer at any time; therefore, any person who so deems could start a new “church” just as the Apostles founded the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

It should be sufficient to point out that Christianity believed in no such thing until the Protestant Reformation of the 1500s; thus, the concept is and was little more than rewriting biblical doctrine to serve and legitimate rebellious actions. Along with the biblical evidence and historical confirmation of Christ founding a structured apostolic Church, the protestant view hinges upon the idea that perfect faith and love can exist in disunity and dissent. Again, trying to navigate the incompatibility of love and faith with disunity, protestantism has – through centuries of in-fighting, splintering groups and cultural conformity – both boiled down the Christian faith to a fraction of apostolic and biblical existence and adopted the quasi-platonic stance that although all physical “ecclesiastical groups”4 exist in both hierarchical and doctrinal chaos they are unified by “Christ” in a mystical manner. In this scenario, Christ stops being a historical and divine person and become a malleable concept and/or term.

Upon This Rock
“There is easy proof for faith in a short summary of the truth. The Lord speaks to Peter, saying, “I say unto thee, that thou art 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 thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” And again to the same He says, after His resurrection, “Feed my sheep.”

Apostolic Authority
“And although to all the apostles, after His resurrection, He gives an equal power, and says, “As the Father hath sent me, even so send I you: Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they shall be remitted unto him; and whose soever sins ye retain, they shall be retained;” 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.”

For St. Cyprian, the presence of St. Peter among the twelve provides a mark of ecclesial unity that safeguards the entire unity of the Church – where there is Peter, there is the Church. What schismatic groups fail to comprehend is that Christ founded a living breath physical Church. A study of Christ of the Son of David, the Old Testament motif of awaiting the New Davidic Kingdom, the Vicar role in the Kingdom of David and the Vicar of Christ as seen in St. Peter and other biblical realities help form the very core of understanding the Holy Catholic Church as the fulfillment of the Old Testament and the will of Christ Jesus.

Christ Founded the Church Upon St. Peter
10 Biblical Reasons Christ Founded the Papacy
13 Biblical Reasons St. Peter Was the “Prince of the Apostles”

 

St Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr, pray for us.

3. Bishops Protect the Church

Chapter V grants the reader both a practical and an analogous insight. The saint exhorts bishops of the Church to hold together the unity of the Church, and while this may not seem profound, it is a thwart to those who would try and state that the hierarchy of bishops did not exist in this time. The second insight is a well written analogy of the Sun and the Church.

Bishops
“And this unity we ought firmly to hold and assert, especially those of us that are bishops who preside in the Church, that we may also prove the episcopate itself to be one and undivided. Let no one deceive the brotherhood by a falsehood: let no one corrupt the truth of the faith by perfidious prevarication. The episcopate is one, each part of which is held by each one for the whole.”

The Analogy of the Sun
“The Church also is one, which is spread abroad far and wide into a multitude by an increase of fruitfulness. As there are many rays of the sun, but one light; and many branches of a tree, but one strength based in its tenacious root; and since from one spring flow many streams, although the multiplicity seems diffused in the liberality of an overflowing abundance, yet the unity is still preserved in the source. Separate a ray of the sun from its body of light, its unity does not allow a division of light; break a branch from a tree,—when broken, it will not be able to bud; cut off the stream from its fountain, and that which is cut off dries up. Thus also the Church, shone over with the light of the Lord, sheds forth her rays over the whole world, yet it is one light which is everywhere diffused, nor is the unity of the body separated. Her fruitful abundance spreads her branches over the whole world. She broadly expands her rivers, liberally flowing, yet her head is one, her source one; and she is one mother, plentiful in the results of fruitfulness: from her womb we are born, by her milk we are nourished, by her spirit we are animated.”

 

There can be only one Church as we have only one God.

4. Church as Mother

In Chapter VI, the saint discusses the Church herself and delivers one of his most famous lines:

“He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother.”

Can the Spouse of Christ Be Adulterous?
“The spouse of Christ cannot be adulterous; she is uncorrupted and pure. She knows one home; she guards with chaste modesty the sanctity of one couch. She keeps us for God. She appoints the sons whom she has born for the kingdom. Whoever is separated from the Church and is joined to an adulteress, is separated from the promises of the Church; nor can he who forsakes the Church of Christ attain to the rewards of Christ. He is a stranger; he is profane; he is an enemy. He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother.”

The Holy Catholic Church cannot be reduced to a simple hierarchy that can historically trace its lineage to Christ, but it is centered and held together by a sacramental unity and the Holy Spirit. The Sacraments and the Holy Spirit further the truth that charity and faith cannot exist in disunity.

 

Michelangelo's "Moses," who yes, does have horns.

5. The People of God Always Had Unity

Chapter VII gives us the example of the undivided Church and Christ’s undivided garment. Chapter VIII can be characterized by a movement into Eucharistic Unity. The saint utilizes biblical examples from the New and Old Testament to demonstrate that God has always held his people to unity.

No Eucharist Outside the Church
“Also, the sacrament of the passover contains nothing else in the law of the Exodus than that the lamb which is slain in the figure of Christ should be eaten in one house. God speaks, saying, “In one house shall ye eat it; ye shall not send its flesh abroad from the house.”

St. Cyprian pulls from St. John, St. Paul, Exodus and Joshua to show that never before in the history of the People of God as there ever been a time where God did not hold the people to both a spiritual and physical unity. From Moses to St. Peter, the People of God have never been allowed to separate doctrinal unity from structural unity.

 

The Schismatics of Dante's Inferno by Gustave

6. Schism Creeps Like Cancer

Chapter X pulls no punches. After laying a foundation for understanding the true hierarchical and sacramental unity of the Church, the saint speaks candidly about those who decide – for any reason, even the infamous “God told me…” – to appoint themselves a pastor and/or start their own church.

Those Who Start Their Own Church Vomit Poison
“These are they who of their own accord, without any divine arrangement, set themselves to preside among the daring strangers assembled, who appoint themselves prelates without any law of ordination, who assume to themselves the name of bishop, although no one gives them the episcopate; whom the Holy Spirit points out in the Psalms as sitting in the seat of pestilence, plagues, and spots of the faith, deceiving with serpent’s tongue, and artful in corrupting the truth, vomiting forth deadly poisons from pestilential tongues; whose speech doth creep like a cancer, whose discourse forms a deadly poison in the heart and breast of every one.”

 

The Catholic Church is founded upon the person of Christ, the true Word of God.

7. The Person of Christ

Chapter XII address a mainstay argument of both ancient and modern schismatic groups: Isn’t the Church where two or three are gathered together in the name of Christ?

Gathered to One Christ
“For wheresoever two or three are gathered together in my name, I am with them;” showing that most is given, not to the multitude, but to the unanimity of those that pray. “If,” He says, “two of you shall agree on earth:” He placed agreement first; He has made the concord of peace a prerequisite; He taught that we should agree firmly and faithfully. But how can he agree with any one who does not agree with the body of the Church itself, and with the universal brotherhood? How can two or three be assembled together in Christ’s name, who, it is evident, are separated from Christ and from His Gospel? For we have not withdrawn from them, but they from us; and since heresies and schisms have risen subsequently, from their establishment for themselves of diverse places of worship, they have forsaken the Head and Source of the truth.”

Heretical and schismatic groups – which include protestantism – cannot be gathered together to the true Christ, because their doctrines, beliefs and actions all point to a pantheon of “Christs.” To wit, protestantism is gathered around the term “Jesus Christ,” not the person.5 The same theme can be seen in Chapter XII:

Priests and Sacrifice6
“What sacrifices do those who are rivals of the priests think that they celebrate? Do they deem that they have Christ with them when they are collected together, who are gathered together outside the Church of Christ?”

 

A section of the "Martyrdom of St. Peter" by Leonello Spada (1576–1622)

8. Non-Catholics Are Not Martyrs

Chapter XIV addresses a topic that our “modern sensibilities” find unsettling. The question at hand is whether or not schismatic or heretical individuals who die in the name of Christ are martyrs. Since we’ve seen that Christ is not amongst them because they gather around a term not a person, the answer of martyrdom will inevitably be no. The saint explains:

Blood Does Not Wash the Stain of Schism
“Even if such men were slain in confession of the Name, that stain is not even washed away by blood: the inexpiable and grave fault of discord is not even purged by suffering. He cannot be a martyr who is not in the Church; he cannot attain unto the kingdom who forsakes that which shall reign there.”

They Can Be Killed, Not Crowned
“They cannot dwell with God who would not be of one mind in God’s Church. Although they burn, given up to flames and fires, or lay down their lives, thrown to the wild beasts, that will not be the crown of faith, but the punishment of perfidy; nor will it be the glorious ending of religious valour, but the destruction of despair. Such a one may be slain; crowned he cannot be. He professes himself to be a Christian in such a way as the devil often feigns himself to be Christ, as the Lord Himself forewarns us, and says, “Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many.” As he is not Christ, although he deceives in respect of the name; so neither can he appear as a Christian who does not abide in the truth of His Gospel and of faith.”

 

"Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense, and understanding." - Martin Luther

9. Rebels Against Christ’s Sacrifice

Chapter XVII makes clear that there is no unity in Christ without unity with the Church. Again, notice that he speaks of priests in this paragraph and spoke of bishops, apostles and St. Peter previously. Any notion that the Catholic Church was a medieval invention or developed later in history is simply historically false.

Enemies of the Altar
“Does he think that he has Christ, who acts in opposition to Christ’s priests, who separates himself from the company of His clergy and people? He bears arms against the Church, he contends against God’s appointment. An enemy of the altar, a rebel against Christ’s sacrifice, for the faith faithless, for religion profane, a disobedient servant, an impious son, a hostile brother, despising the bishops, and forsaking God’s priests, he dares to set up another altar, to make another prayer with unauthorized words, to profane the truth of the Lord’s offering by false sacrifices, and not to know that he who strives against the appointment of God, is punished on account of the daring of his temerity by divine visitation.”

 

The Pope is the "Advocate of Christian Memory."

10. The Spouse of Christ Cannot be Torn

Chapter XXIII returns to the reality of the Church as Body of Christ, the Spouse of Christ and the Mother of All Who Live in Christ; therefore, how could this Sacred Body be torn apart via schism and heresy?

The Church is One
“God is one, and Christ is one, and His Church is one, and the faith is one, and the people is joined into a substantial unity of body by the cement of concord. Unity cannot be severed; nor can one body be separated by a division of its structure, nor torn into pieces, with its entrails wrenched asunder by laceration. Whatever has proceeded from the womb cannot live and breathe in its detached condition, but loses the substance of health.”

 

"The Last Judgment" - Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564)

11. Christ Comes Back for the Church

Chapter XXVII concludes the saints work On the Unity of the Church by asking: How will Christ know who to come back for? St. Cyprian’s answer is that He will come for his Bride, the Church.

Let Our Faith Be on Watch
“Let our light shine in good works, and glow in such wise as to lead us from the night of this world to the daylight of eternal brightness. Let us always with solicitude and caution wait for the sudden coming of the Lord, that when He shall knock, our faith may be on the watch, and receive from the Lord the reward of our vigilance. If these commands be observed, if these warnings and precepts be kept, we cannot be overtaken in slumber by the deceit of the devil; but we shall reign with Christ in His kingdom as servants that watch.”

  1. Novatian: Another impetus of the epistle was the first “anti-pope” who attempted to claim he was holier than the rest of the Church and claimed moral superiority, especially in not wanting to ever extend forgiveness to sins post-baptism. []
  2. Paganism []
  3. Christian Heresy and Schism []
  4. Are Protestant groups churches? As taught by tradition and Vatican II, protestant groups are not referred to as “churches” but “ecclesial communities.” []
  5. When Cyprian Was Wrong: Chapter XI – St. Cyprian’s faltered on the issue of whether or not people should be “re-baptized,” e.g., if a heretic baptized someone in the name of the Trinity, he advocated re-baptism. This was later seen as wrong – but was a legitimate point in the argument since doctrine had not been clarified yet – and the Pope issued that all Trinitarian baptisms are valid, but if done is schismatic groups, etc. then they must later reclaim their baptism via penance. []
  6. Reformation & Priests: The term Priest denotes Sacrifice. It is for this reason Catholic clergy are foremost referred to as priests above other titles, e.g., pastor, reverend, etc. However, since the schismatics and heretics of the Reformation denied the true presence of the Eucharist and as such stopped calling their clergy priests. []

Virgo Potens: 8 Quotes by Roman Pontiffs on the Rosary

8 quotes by various Popes explaining the power and necessity of the Rosary in the Catholic life.

Listers, the following list catalogues a sampling of papal statements about the importance of the Rosary. SPL was started in October – the Month of the Holy Rosary – and will continue to post lists honoring Our Lady and the Rosary.

“It has always been the habit of Catholic in danger and in troublous times to fly for refuge to Mary, and to seek for peace in Her maternal goodness; showing that the Catholic Church has always, and with justice, put all her hope and trust in the Mother of God. And truly the Immaculate Virgin, chosen to be the Mother of God and thereby associated with Him in the work of man’s salvation, has a favour and power with Her Son greater than any human or angelic creature has ever obtained, or ever can gain…” ~Pope Leo XIII

The Blessed Virgin Mary is the: Mother of God; a Perpetual Virgin,; Immaculate in all Her ways; Queen of Heaven and Earth; Mother of the true Church; the Mediatrix of all grace; and Co-Redemptrix. The Litany of Loreto gives us several titles of the Blessed Mother that better describe Her role in our salvation. One that has shown favor with both Saints and Supreme Pontiffs is that of “Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary.” From this simple title stems various others such as: Virgin Most Powerful, Help of Christians, August Queen, Refuge of Sinners, Seat of Wisdom, and Cause of our joy.

Pope Leo XIII

Pope Leo XIII has written several Apostolic Letters on the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one that comes highly recommended is “Supremi Apostolatus Officio.”

“This devotion, so great and so confident, to the august Queen of Heaven, has never forth with such brilliancy as when the militant Church of Go has seemed to be endangered by the violence of heresy spread abroad, or by an intolerable moral corruption, or by the attacks of powerful enemies. Ancient and modern history and the more sacred annals of the Church bears witness to public and private supplications addressed to the Mother of God, to help She has granted in return, and to the peace and tranquillity which She has obtained from God.”~Pope Leo XIII

The Virgo Potens - The Virgin Most Powerful

6 Quotes: Pope Leo’s Predecessors on the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

  1. Urban IV: testified that “every day the Rosary obtained fresh boon for Christianity.”
  2. Sixtus IV: declared that this method of prayer “redounded the honour of God and the Blessed Virgin, and was well suited to obviate impending dangers.”
  3. Leo X: that “it was instituted to oppose pernicious heresiarchs and heresies.”
  4. Julius II: call it: “the glory of the Church.”
  5. St. Pius V: that “with the spread of this devotion the meditations of the faithful have begun to be more inflamed, their prayers more fervent, and they have suddenly become different men; the darkness of heresy has been dissipated, and the light of the Catholic faith has been broken forth again.”
  6. Gregory XIII: in his turn pronounced that “the Rosary has been instituted by St. Dominic to appease the anger of God and to implore the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”

Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

All Human Creatures Are Subject to the Pope: 8 Papal Quotes On Salvation

“The universal Church of the faithful is one outside of which none is saved.”
Pope Innocent III, ex cathedra, Fourth Lateran Council (1215 AD)

Listers, the following is a short compilation of quotes taken from previous Ecumenical Pontiffs of Rome: “Outside the Church there is no hope for salvation.” These quotes show us the confidence that our previous Bishops of Rome have had in their authority given by God Himself to be the Vicar of Christ here on Earth. As St. Augustine said, “Rome has spoken, the case is closed.” Cheers!

SPL On the Papacy
10 Biblical Reasons Christ Founded the Papacy
13 Biblical Reasons Peter was the Prince of the Apostles

 

Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus

 

1. The Church Is One

“The universal Church of the faithful is one outside of which none is saved.”
Pope Innocent III, ex cathedra, Fourth Lateran Council (1215 AD)

2. Every Human Creature

“We declare, say , define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”
-Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam (1302 AD)

3. All Must Abide in the Bosom of the Church

“The Most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, also Jews, heretics, and schismatics can ever be partakers of eternal life, but that they are to go into the eternal fire ‘which was prepared for the devil and his angels’ (Mt. 25:41) unless before death they are joined with Her… No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ can be saved unless they abide within the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.”
Pope Eugene IV, ex cathedra, Council of Florence, Cantate Domino (1441 AD)

4. True Worship Is Catholic Worship

“The holy universal Church teaches that it is not possible to worship God truly except in Her and asserts that all who are outside of Her will not be saved.”
Pope Saint Gregory the Great (590-604)

5. Outside No One Is Saved

“By heart we believe and by mouth confess the one Church, not of heretics but the Holy Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Church outside which we believe that no one is saved.”
Pope Innocent III, Eius exemplo, 18 December 1208

6. Why We Profess: No Salvation Outside the Church

“Certainly many remarkable authors, adherents of the true philosophy, have taken pains to attack and crush this strange view. But the matter is so self-evident that it is superfluous to give additional arguments. It is impossible for the most true God, who is Truth Itself, the best, the wisest Provider, and the Rewarder of good men, to approve all sects who profess false teachings which are often inconsistent with one another and contradictory, and to confer eternal rewards on their members. For we have a surer word of the prophet, and in writing to you We speak wisdom among the perfect; not the wisdom of this world but the wisdom of God in a mystery. By it we are taught, and by divine faith we hold one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and that no other name under heaven is given to men except the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth in which we must be saved. This is why we profess that there is no salvation outside the Church.”
Pope Leo XII, Ubi Primum

7. The Disease that Is Killing the Flock

“You see, dearly beloved sons and venerable brothers, how much vigilance is needed to keep the disease of this terrible evil from infecting and killing your flocks. Do not cease to diligently defend your people against these pernicious errors. Saturate them with the doctrine of Catholic truth more accurately each day. Teach them that just as there is only one God, one Christ, one Holy Spirit, so there is also only one truth which is divinely revealed. There is only one divine faith which is the beginning of salvation for mankind and the basis of all justification, the faith by which the just person lives and without which it is impossible to please God and to come to the community of His children.[Rom 1; Heb 11; Council of Trent, session 6, chap. 8.] There is only one true, holy, Catholic church, which is the Apostolic Roman Church. There is only one See founded in Peter by the word of the Lord,[St. Cyprian, epistle 43.] outside of which we cannot find either true faith or eternal salvation. He who does not have the Church for a mother cannot have God for a father, and whoever abandons the See of Peter on which the Church is established trusts falsely that he is in the Church.[St. Cyprian,de unitat. Eccl.] Thus, there can be no greater crime, no more hideous stain than to stand up against Christ, than to divide the Church engendered and purchased by His blood, than to forget evangelical love and to combat with the furor of hostile discord the harmony of the people of God.[St. Cyprian, epistle 72.]”
-Blessed Pope Pius IX, Singulari Quidem

8. The Necessity of Belonging to the True Church

“Some say they are not bound by the doctrine which teaches that the Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same thing. Some reduce to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church in order to gain eternal salvation. Others finally belittle the reasonable character of the credibility of Christian Faith. These and like errors, it is clear, have crept in among certain of our sons who are deceived by imprudent zeal for souls or by false science.”
-Venerable Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis

 

Other Lists from John Henry
Confirmation in the Extraordinary Form
The Idiot’s Guide to Fasting and Abstinence
Regina Sanctissimi Rosarii: 6 Things All Catholics Should Know About the Rosary
The Domestic Church: 7 Steps to a Proper Catholic Home
And more

Other Lists on Salvation of Non-Catholics
How Were Men Saved Before Christ?
Can Non-Catholics Be Saved?

Pax vobis cum.

Can Non-Catholics Be Saved and 21 Other Questions

“We call the right by which St. Peter or his successor has always been the head of the Church, and of all its bishops, the Primacy of St. Peter or of the Pope. Primacy means holding first place.”

Listers, the following list is Part II of the Baltimore Catechism’s Lesson Eleventh: On the Church. The Baltimore Catechism was the premiere catechism in Catholic education from 1885 to the 1960s, and it teachings the faith in the most natural method of education – question and answer. Lesson Eleventh: On the Church Part I speaks to questions on religion and the Church before Christ, while Part II speaks to the structure of the one true Church of Christ after He established her.1

 

Lesson Eleventh

On the Church
Part II

 

Q. 495. Who is the invisible Head of the Church?

A. Jesus Christ is the invisible Head of the Church.

Q. 496. Who is the visible Head of the Church?

A. Our Holy Father the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is the Vicar of Christ on earth and the visible Head of the Church.

Q. 497. What does “vicar” mean?

A. Vicar is a name used in the Church to designate a person who acts in the name and authority of another. Thus a Vicar Apostolic is one who acts in the name of the Pope, and a Vicar General is one who acts in the name of the bishop.

Q. 498. Could any one be Pope without being Bishop of Rome?

A. One could not be Pope without being Bishop of Rome, and whoever is elected Pope must give up his title to any other diocese and take the title of Bishop of Rome.

Q. 499. Why is the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, the visible Head of the Church?

A. The Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is the visible Head of the Church because he is the successor of St. Peter, whom Christ made the chief of the Apostles and the visible Head of the Church.

Q. 500. Why are Catholics called “Roman”?

A. Catholics are called Roman to show that they are in union with the true Church founded by Christ and governed by the Apostles under the direction of St. Peter, by divine appointment the Chief of the Apostles, who founded the Church of Rome and was its first bishop.

Q. 501. By what name is a bishop’s diocese sometimes called?

A. A bishop’s diocese is sometimes called his see. The diocese of Rome, on account of its authority and dignity, is called the Holy See, and its bishop is called the Holy Father or Pope. Pope means father.

Q. 502. What do we call the right by which St. Peter or his successor has always been the head of the Church and of all its bishops?

A. We call the right by which St. Peter or his successor has always been the head of the Church, and of all its bishops, the Primacy of St. Peter or of the Pope. Primacy means holding first place.

Q. 503. How is it shown that St. Peter or his successor has always been the head of the Church?

A. It is shown that St. Peter or his successor has always been the head of the Church: 1.(1) From the words of Holy Scripture, which tell how Christ appointed Peter Chief of the Apostles and head of the Church. 2.(2) From the history of the Church, which shows that Peter and his successors have always acted and have always been recognized as the head of the Church.

Q. 504. How do we know that the rights and privileges bestowed on St. Peter were given also to his successors — the Popes?

A. We know that the rights and privileges bestowed on St. Peter were given also to his successors, the Popes, because the promises made to St. Peter by Our Lord were to be fulfilled in the Church till the end of time, and as Peter was not to live till the end of time, they are fulfilled in his successors.

Q. 505. Did St. Peter establish any Church before he came to Rome?

A. Before he came to Rome, St. Peter established a Church at Antioch and ruled over it for several years.

Q. 506. Who are the successors of the other Apostles?

A. The successors of the other Apostles are the Bishops of the Holy Catholic Church.

Q. 507. How do we know that the bishops of the Church are the successors of the Apostles?

A. We know that the bishops of the Church are the successors of the Apostles because they continue the work of the Apostles and give proof of the same authority. They have always exercised the rights and powers that belonged to the Apostles in making laws for the Church, in consecrating bishops and ordaining priests.

Q. 508. Why did Christ found the Church?

A. Christ founded the Church to teach, govern, sanctify, and save all men.

Q. 509. Are all bound to belong to the Church?

A. All are bound to belong to the Church, and he who knows the Church to be the true Church and remains out of it cannot be saved.

Q. 510. Is it ever possible for one to be saved who does not know the Catholic Church to be the true Church?

A. It is possible for one to be saved who does not know the Catholic Church to be the true Church, provided that person:

Has been validly baptized; Firmly believes the religion he professes and practices to be the true religion, and Dies without the guilt of mortal sin on his soul.

Q. 511. Why do we say it is only possible for a person to be saved who does not know the Catholic Church to be the true Church?

A. We say it is only possible for a person to be saved who does not know the Catholic Church to be the true Church, because the necessary conditions are not often found, especially that of dying in a state of grace without making use of the Sacrament of Penance.

Q. 512. How are such persons said to belong to the Church?

A. Such persons are said to belong to the “soul of the church”; that is, they are really members of the Church without knowing it. Those who share in its Sacraments and worship are said to belong to the body or visible part of the Church.

Q. 513. Why must the true Church be visible?

A. The true Church must be visible because its founder, Jesus Christ, commanded us under pain of condemnation to hear the Church; and He could not in justice command us to hear a Church that could not be seen and known.

Q. 514. What excuses do some give for not becoming members of the true Church?

A. The excuses some give for not becoming members of the true church are:

They do not wish to leave the religion in which they were born.
There are too many poor and ignorant people in the Catholic Church.
One religion is as good as another if we try to serve God in it, and be upright and honest in our lives.

Q. 515. How do you answer such excuses?

A. To say that we should remain in a false religion because we were born in it is as untrue as to say we should not heal our bodily diseases because we were born with them.
To say there are too many poor and ignorant in the Catholic Church is to declare that it is Christ’s Church; for He always taught the poor and ignorant and instructed His Church to continue the work.
To say that one religion is as good as another is to assert that Christ labored uselessly and taught falsely; for He came to abolish the old religion and found the new in which alone we can be saved as He Himself declared.

Q. 516. Why can there be only one true religion?

A. There can be only one true religion, because a thing cannot be false and true at the same time, and, therefore, all religions that contradict the teaching of the true Church must teach falsehood. If all religions in which men seek to serve God are equally good and true, why did Christ disturb the Jewish religion and the Apostles condemn heretics?

  1. Source: Baltimore Catechism Online []

When a Pope Writes an Emperor: 6 Quotes on Spiritual and Temporal Power

“There are two powers, august Emperor, by which this world is chiefly ruled, namely, the sacred authority of the priests and the royal power.”

Listers, the following is Pope Gelasius I On Spiritual and Temporal Power, A.D. 494 in full.

Introduction

From the translator: Letter of Pope Gelasius to Emperor Anastasius on the superiority of the spiritual over temporal power: The pope’s view of the natural superiority of the spiritual over the temporal power finds a clear expression the following remarkable letter of Gelasius I (494).

1. The Two Powers

There are two powers, august Emperor, by which this world is chiefly ruled, namely, the sacred authority of the priests and the royal power.

2. From Their Hands, Salvation

Of these that of the priests is the more weighty, since they have to render an account for even the kings of men in the divine judgment. You are also aware, dear son, that while you are permitted honorably to rule over human kind, yet in things divine you bow your head humbly before the leaders of the clergy and await from their hands the means of your salvation.

3. Subordiniate to Religious Order

In the reception and proper disposition of the heavenly mysteries you recognize that you should be subordinate rather than superior to the religious order, and that in these matters you depend on their judgment rather than wish to force them to follow your will.

4. Mutual and Distinct Obedience

If the ministers of religion, recognizing the supremacy granted you from heaven in matters affecting the public order, obey your laws, lest otherwise they might obstruct the course of secular affairs by irrelevant considerations, with what readiness should you not yield them obedience to whom is assigned the dispensing of the sacred mysteries of religion.

5. The Ability of Priests to Speak

Accordingly, just as there is no slight danger in the case of the priests if they refrain from speaking when the service of the divinity requires, so there is no little risk for those who disdain – which God forbid – when they should obey.

6. How Much Greater a Bishop (or Pontiff)

And if it is fitting that the hearts of the faithful should submit to all priests in general who properly administer divine affairs, how much the more is obedience due to the bishop of that see which the Most High ordained to be above, ill others, and which is consequently dutifully honored by the devotion of the whole Church.

Credit
Translated in J. H. Robinson, Readings in European History, (Boston: Ginn, 1905), pp. 72-731

Source

  1. This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.
    Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

    (c)Paul Halsall Jan 1996
    halsall@murray.fordham.edu []

Pope Pius II: 7 Quotes On Educating Young Catholic Men

“Unless boys are steeped from the beginning in the best books, their minds will be ruined and they will not be able to acquire good judgment.” – Pope Pius II

Listers, the following quotes come from The Education of Boys by Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini. Aeneas died on August 14th 1464, a little over five years after being named Pope Pius II.1

As pope he was indeed not sufficiently free from nepotism, but otherwise served the best interests of the Church. Not only was he constantly solicitous for the peace of Christendom against Islam, but he also instituted a commission for the reform of the Roman court, seriously endeavoured to restore monastic discipline, and defended the doctrine of the Church against the writings of Reginald Peacock, the former Bishop of Chichester. He retracted the errors contained in his earlier writings in a Bull, the gist of which was “Reject Eneas, hold fast to Pius”. St. Catherine of Siena was canonized during his pontificate.

Pope Pius II is the only pope to grace the Church with an autobiography. His lesser known work on education can be found today in the anthology Humanist Educational Treatises. His quotes speak directly to the heart of education. Modernity has warped education into shallow occupational training and lacks the substance and wisdom to formed young men and women in the virtues. Even outside a religious sense, our culture has accepted the autonomy of the individual as the moral standard in the stead of natural virtues (prudence, justice, temperance, fortitude).

Every level of education needs to be reclaimed. An authentic Catholic education is not a secular curriculum with catechetical courses attached. It is an obedience to the natural order of knowledge and an adherence to the core sapiential principles of the liberal arts tradition.

Pope Pius II by Pinturicchio 1502-1507

On the Education of Boys

1. The Acquired Virtues

The pursuit of learning offers the greatest assistance in acquiring virtue.

2. No Lost Causes

Although one person excels another in talent, there is no one who cannot achieve something through effort.

3. Benefits of Education

To receive a proper education is the source and root of good virtue.

4. Rational Animals

There is nothing men possess on earth more precious than intellect, and that the other goods of human life that we pursue with great effort are truly insignificant and unworthy.

5. Happiness and Virtue

You cannot be called happy unless you are endowed with virtue and your intellectual goods exceed the goods of fortune.

6. Well Ordered

All else easily waits upon him to whom divine worship is dear.

7. An Education in Prudence

Unless boys are steeped from the beginning in the best books, their minds will be ruined and they will not be able to acquire good judgment.

 

More on Education:

What is the difference between wisdom and knowledge?
Harmony: Quotes on Education and Liesure
Classical Education: Quotes on the importance of learning to think

  1. Catholic Encyclopedia: Pope Pius II []

Patrimony of Wisdom: 6 Quotes of St. Pius X’s Exhortation to Study St. Thomas Aquinas

“A man can derive more profit from his books in one year than from a lifetime spent in pondering the philosophy of others” (Consistorial address of 1318). – Pope John XXII

Listers, in his motu proprio Doctoris Angelici, Pope Saint Pius X strongly exhorts Catholic schools to study St. Thomas Aquinas and his irreplaceable Summa Theologica. The letter comes in the context of correcting misgivings among Italy and the adjacent islands about their use – or lack their of – regarding the Angelic Doctor.

6 of the most potent quotes have been listed below, and the full text of the letter follows the quotes.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Angelic Doctor, Patron of All Catholic Schools, pray for us. 
Pope St. Pius X, pray for us.

Perfection of the Patrimony of Wisdom

St. Thomas perfected and augmented still further by the almost angelic quality of his intellect all this superb patrimony of wisdom which he inherited from his predecessors and applied it to prepare, illustrate and protect sacred doctrine in the minds of men (In Librum Boethii de Trinitate, quaest, ii, 3).

Not an Opinion, a Foundation

The reason is that the capital theses in the philosophy of St. Thomas are not to be placed in the category of opinions capable of being debated one way or another, but are to be considered as the foundations upon which the whole science of natural and divine things is based; if such principles are once removed or in any way impaired, it must necessarily follow that students of the sacred sciences will ultimately fail to perceive so much as the meaning of the words in which the dogmas of divine revelation are proposed by the magistracy of the Church.

Open to Grave Risk

We therefore desired that all teachers of philosophy and sacred theology should be warned that if they deviated so much as a step, in metaphysics especially, from Aquinas, they exposed themselves to grave risk.

Never Shall the Summa Theologica Fall into Disuse

But for the more profound study of this science, as it ought to be studied in Universities and Colleges and in all Seminaries and institutions which are empowered to grant academic degrees, it is of the first importance that the old system of lecturing on the actual text of the Summa Theologica– which should never have been allowed to fall into disuse– be revived.

Present at the Councils

For ever since the happy death of the saintly Doctor, the Church has not held a single Council, but he has been present at it with the wealth of his doctrine.

More in a Year than a Lifetime

“He (Thomas Aquinas) enlightened the Church more than all the other Doctors together; a man can derive more profit from his books in one year than from a lifetime spent in pondering the philosophy of others” (Consistorial address of 1318). – Pope John XXII

Pius X in the Vatican Gardens
Pius X in the Vatican Gardens

The following is the full text of Pope Pius X’s Motu Proprio with the embolden effect and emphases added by SPL.

Doctoris Angelici

Pope Pius X
29 June 1914

Motu Proprio for Italy and the adjacent islands, to encourage the study of the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas in Catholic Schools.

No true Catholic has ever ventured to call in question the opinion of the Angelic Doctor that: The regulation of studies is the special concern of the authority of the Holy See by which the universal Church is governed and the need is met by the establishment of Universities (Opusc. Contra impugnantes Dei cultum et religionem, iii). We have already discharged this great duty of Our office elsewhere, and more particularly on the 1st September, 1910, when in the Letter Sacrorum Antistitum, addressed to all Bishops and Superiors of Religious Orders duly charged with the duty of educating young men for the priesthood, We counselled them in the first place as follows: “So far as studies are concerned, it is Our will and We hereby explicitly ordain that the Scholastic philosophy be considered as the basis of sacred studies. . . . And what is of capital importance in prescribing that Scholastic philosophy is to be followed, We have in mind particularly the philosophy which has been transmitted to us by St. Thomas Aquinas. It is Our desire that all the enactments of Our Predecessor in respect thereto be maintained in full force; and, where need be, We renew and confirm them and order them to be strictly observed by all concerned. Let Bishops urge and compel their observance in future in any Seminary in which they may have been neglected. The same injunction applies also to Superiors of Religious Orders.”

Now because the word We used in the text of that letter recommending the philosophy of Aquinas was ‘particularly,’ and not ‘exclusively,’ certain persons persuaded themselves that they were acting in conformity to Our Will or at any rate not actively opposing it, in adopting indiscriminately and adhering to the philosophical opinions of any other Doctor of the School, even though such opinions were contrary to the principles of St. Thomas. They were greatly deceived. In recommending St. Thomas to Our subjects as supreme guide in the Scholastic philosophy, it goes without saying that Our intention was to be understood as referring above all to those principles upon which that philosophy is based as its foundation. For just as the opinion of certain ancients is to be rejected which maintains that it makes no difference to the truth of the Faith what any man thinks about the nature of creation, provided his opinions on the nature of God be sound, because error with regard to the nature of creation begets a false knowledge of God; so the principles of philosophy laid down by St. Thomas Aquinas are to be religiously and inviolably observed, because they are the means of acquiring such a knowledge of creation as is most congruent with the Faith (Contra Gentiles, II, 2, 3); of refuting all the errors of all the ages, and of enabling man to distinguish clearly what things are to be attributed to God and to God alone (ibid., iii; and Sum. Theol., 1, xii, 4: and liv, 1). They also marvellously illustrate the diversity and analogy between God and His works, a diversity and analogy admirably expressed by the Fourth Lateran Council as follows: “The resemblance between the Creator and the creature is such that their still greater dissimilarity cannot fail to be observed” (Decretalis iii, Damnamus ergo, etc. Cf. St. Thomas, Quaest, disp. De Scientia Dei, a. 11). —For the rest, the principles of St. Thomas, considered generally and as a whole, contain nothing but what the most eminent philosophers and doctors of the Church have discovered after prolonged reflection and discussion in regard to the particular reasons determining human knowledge, the nature of God and creation, the moral order and the ultimate end to be pursued in life.

St. Thomas perfected and augmented still further by the almost angelic quality of his intellect all this superb patrimony of wisdom which he inherited from his predecessors and applied it to prepare, illustrate and protect sacred doctrine in the minds of men (In Librum Boethii de Trinitate, quaest, ii, 3). Sound reason suggests that it would be foolish to neglect it and religion will not suffer it to be in any way attenuated. And rightly, because, if Catholic doctrine is once deprived of this strong bulwark, it is useless to seek the slightest assistance for its defence in a philosophy whose principles are either common to the errors of materialism, monism, pantheism, socialism and modernism, or certainly not opposed to such systems. The reason is that the capital theses in the philosophy of St. Thomas are not to be placed in the category of opinions capable of being debated one way or another, but are to be considered as the foundations upon which the whole science of natural and divine things is based; if such principles are once removed or in any way impaired, it must necessarily follow that students of the sacred sciences will ultimately fail to perceive so much as the meaning of the words in which the dogmas of divine revelation are proposed by the magistracy of the Church.

We therefore desired that all teachers of philosophy and sacred theology should be warned that if they deviated so much as a step, in metaphysics especially, from Aquinas, they exposed themselves to grave risk. –We now go further and solemnly declare that those who in their interpretations misrepresent or affect to despise the principles and major theses of his philosophy are not only not following St. Thomas but are even far astray from the saintly Doctor. If the doctrine of any writer or Saint has ever been approved by Us or Our Predecessors with such singular commendation and in such a way that to the commendation were added an invitation and order to propagate and defend it, it may easily be understood that it was commended to the extent that it agreed with the principles of Aquinas or was in no way opposed to them.

We have deemed it Our apostolic duty to make this declaration and order so that the clergy, both regular and secular, may clearly know Our will and mind in a matter of the gravest importance, and fulfil Our desire with the appropriate alacrity and diligence. Teachers of Christian philosophy and sacred theology will be particularly zealous in this respect, for they must bear in mind that they have not been entrusted with the duty of teaching in order to impart to their pupils whatever opinions they please, but to instruct them in the most approved doctrines of the Church.

As for sacred theology itself, it is Our desire that the study of it be always illuminated by the light of the philosophy before referred to, but in ordinary clerical seminaries, provided suitable teachers are available, there is no objection to the use of text books containing summaries of doctrines derived from the source of Aquinas. There is an ample supply of excellent works of the kind.

But for the more profound study of this science, as it ought to be studied in Universities and Colleges and in all Seminaries and institutions which are empowered to grant academic degrees, it is of the first importance that the old system of lecturing on the actual text of the Summa Theologica- which should never have been allowed to fall into disuse– be revived; for the reason also that prelections on this book make it easier to understand and to illustrate the solemn decrees of the teaching Church and the acts passed in consequence. For ever since the happy death of the saintly Doctor, the Church has not held a single Council, but he has been present at it with the wealth of his doctrine. The experience of so many centuries has shown and every passing day more clearly proves the truth of the statement made by Our Predecessor John XXII: “He (Thomas Aquinas) enlightened the Church more than all the other Doctors together; a man can derive more profit from his books in one year than from a lifetime spent in pondering the philosophy of others” (Consistorial address of 1318). St. Pius V confirmed this opinion when he ordered the feast of St. Thomas as Doctor to be kept by the universal Church: “But inasmuch as, by the providence of Almighty God, the power and truth of the philosophy of the Angelic Doctor, ever since his enrolment amongst the citizens of Heaven, have confounded, refuted and routed many subsequent heresies, as was so often clearly seen in the past and was lately apparent in the sacred decrees of the Council of Trent, We order that the memory of the Doctor by whose valour the world is daily delivered from pestilential errors be cultivated more than ever before with feelings of pious and grateful devotion” (Bull Mirabilis Deus of the 11th April, 1567). To avoid recapitulating the many other resounding praises of Our Predecessors, We may adopt the following words of Benedict XIV as a summary of all the commendations bestowed upon the writings of Thomas Aquinas, more particularly the Summa Theologica: “Numerous Roman Pontiffs, Our Predecessors, have borne glorious testimony to his philosophy. We also, in the books which We have written on various topics, after by diligent examination perceiving and considering the mind of the Angelic Doctor, have always adhered and subscribed with joy and admiration to his philosophy, and candidly confess that whatever good is to be found in Our own Writings is in no way to be attributed to Us, but entirely to so eminent a teacher” (Acta Cap. Gen. O.P., vol IX, p. 196).

A statue of Pope Pius X at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City

Therefore that “the philosophy of St. Thomas may flourish incorrupt and entire in schools, which is very dear to Our heart,” and that “the system of teaching which is based upon the authority and judgement of the individual teacher” and therefore “has a changeable foundation whence many diverse and mutually conflicting opinions arise . . . not without great injury to Christian learning” (Leo XIII, Epist, Qui te of the 19th June, 1886) be abolished forever, it is Our will and We hereby order and command that teachers of sacred theology in Universities, Academies, Colleges, Seminaries and Institutions enjoying by apostolic indult the privilege of granting academic degrees and doctorates in philosophy, use the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas as the text of their prelections and comment upon it in the Latin tongue, and let them take particular care to inspire their pupils with a devotion for it.

Such is already the laudable custom of many Institutions. Such was the rule which the sagacious founders of Religious Orders, with the hearty approval of Our Predecessors, desired should be observed in their own houses of study; and the saintly men who came after the time of St. Thomas Aquinas took him and no other for their supreme teacher of philosophy. So also and not otherwise will theology recover its pristine glory and all sacred studies be restored to their order and value and the province of the intellect and reason flower again in a second spring.

In future, therefore, no power to grant academic degrees in sacred theology will be given to any institution unless Our present prescription is religiously observed therein. Institutions or Faculties of Orders and Regular Congregations, also, already in lawful possession of the power of conferring such academic degrees or similar diplomas, even within the limits of their own four walls, shall be deprived of such a privilege and be considered to have been so deprived if, after the lapse of three years, they shall not have religiously obeyed for any reason whatsoever, even beyond their control, this Our injunction.

This is Our Order, and nothing shall be suffered to gainsay it.

Given at Rome, at St. Peter’s, on the 29th day of June, 1914, the eleventh year of Our Pontificate. Pius PP. X.

A Great Tomb for a Great Pope: 6 Photos of the Grave of Pope Pius V

Encroaching Islam, the need for a unified Roman liturgy, and the Catholic faithful being led astray by heretics are all traits the current time shares with the time of St. Pope Pius V’s pontificate.

Listers, St. Pope Pius V is certainly one of the Church’s most prominent pontiffs. The following encyclopedic entry demonstrates that St. Pope Pius V is a pope of which our modern world is in desperate need of remembrance. Encroaching Islam, the need for a unified Roman liturgy, and the Catholic faithful being led astray by heretics are all traits the current time shares with the time of St. Pope Pius V’s pontificate.

St. Pope Pius V, Bartolomeo Passarotti ca. 1566

Pope Saint Pius V (17 January 1504 – 1 May 1572), born Antonio Ghislieri (from 1518 called Michele Ghislieri, O.P.), was Pope from 1566 to 1572 and is a saint of the Catholic Church. He is chiefly notable for his role in the Council of Trent, the Counter-Reformation, and the standardization of the Roman liturgy within the Latin Church. Pius V declared saint Thomas Aquinas a Doctor of the Church and patronized prominent sacred music composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. As Cardinal Ghislieri he gained a reputation for putting orthodoxy before personalities, prosecuting eight French Bishops for heresy. He also stood firm against nepotism, rebuking his predecessor Pope Pius IV to his face when he wanted to make a 13-year old member of his family a cardinal and subsidize a nephew from the Papal treasury.
In affairs of state, Pius V excommunicated Elizabeth I of England for schism and persecutions of English Catholics during her reign. He also arranged the formation of the Holy League, an alliance of Catholic states. Although outnumbered, the Holy League famously defeated the Ottomans, who had threatened to overrun Europe, at the Battle of Lepanto. This victory Pius V attributed to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and instituted the feast, Our Lady of Victory.1

The Tomb of St. Pope Pius V is located in the Papal Basilica, Basilica Sanctae Mariae Maioris in Rome.

  1. Wikipedia Introduction: Pope Pius V []

Proud To Be Catholic: 5 Videos That Stir The Soul

The following videos reflect that truth and display its vibrancy in an engaging and soul-stirring manner.

Listers, remember the motto of SPL: The Catholic Life is the Good Life. The following videos reflect that truth and display its vibrancy in an engaging and soul-stirring manner.

Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you.
St. Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

1. Catholics Come Home

Epic

A heartwarming outreach to lapsed Catholics and those interested in learning more about the Church.

2. Word on Fire Ministries w/ Fr. Barron

Catholicism, Extended Preview

Discover the rich heritage of the Catholic Church in an epic media experience. Word on Fire Catholic Ministries offers a vision of the Catholic Faith, which has never before been seen. This vision seeks to explore, through a global journey, the living culture of the Catholic Church. From the lands of the Bible, to the great shrines of Europe, to the shores and heartland of America, to the mysteries of Asia, to the rich landscapes of Latin America, to the beating heart of Africa – and beyond, witness the passion and glory of the faith that claims over a billion of the earth’s people as its own.

The shorter Catholicism preview:

3. Capuchin Franciscans

Eucharistic Flashmob

A Eucharistic flash mob in the centre of Preston, organized by the Capuchin Franciscans on Ascension Thursday 2011.

4. Grassroots Films

God in the Streets of New York

The monstrance which is used to carry the Blessed Sacrament is one of six that were blessed by Pope John II before his death to mark the celebration of the Year of the Eucharist. “God In The Streets of New York City” depicts the contrast between the everyday chaos of the busy streets — complete with traffic, construction and police cars — and the peaceful presence of Jesus. There is always an opportunity to meet Jesus face to face. It poses the question: Will you recognize him?

5. The Order of Preachers

Vocational Video

A Dominican vocation video from the Dominican Province of St. Joseph, the Eastern Province in the United States. Filmed at St Gertrude Priory, Cincinnati, August of 2010. It was the largest class of Novices in 44 years.