This is going to be a short article about why popular Roman Catholic apologetics concerning the Formula of Hormisdas proving Vatican I, Papal Supremacy, or anything of the sort is a sham. In short, Roman Catholic apologists claim that the “libellus” essentially shows us two things:
- The the Roman Church was Papalist.
- That the Eastern Patriarchates submissively signed this document, proving that they submitted to a Papalist eccesiology.
This is not some sort of strawman. A Uniate website sums up the events as follows:
The formula of Hormisdas which the Pope sent to be signed on this occasion is a masterpiece of clarity. It repeats the condemnation of the heresies condemned by the ecumenical councils and it formally condemns the memory of Acacius who had started this schism. It so clearly stated the primacy and infallibility of the Roman See that from that day to the time of the Vatican Council, it has been a powerful weapon in the arsenal of Catholic orthodoxy. It was subscribed to by the patriarch of Constantinople, it swept the East and in the end was signed by 2,500 bishops.
To quote modern Roman Catholic apologist Erick Ybarra:
[W]hat was written in the Formula by Hormisdas were actually authentic Papal claims, which means that 6th century Rome was Papalist. And if that was truly the case, than it makes matters even worse since the Eastern Patriachates entered into communion with Papalist Rome in order to escape schism…reality was that there wasn’t a hint of rejection of Papal claims. Only this issue of the expunging of names from the diptychs…as I’ve mentioned above, there is no objection to the Papalist statements of the Formula by these bishops. If they were honest enough to withhold their agreement and signature because they couldn’t fulfill all the demands of the original request of the Formula, why would they fail to mention their honest objection to the statements made about Peter and the infallibility of the Apostolic See?
Elsewhere, the same apologist claimed that “2,500” priests and Bishops signed an essentially unaltered libellus showing that “Christ promised an indefectible faith in blessed Peter.”
Finally, I will quote popular blogger Catholic Nick who both offers his comments and presents an English translation of one of the Latin manuscripts of the formula:
To effect the restoration of communion, Pope Hormisdas wrote a theological Formula and demanded that Justin, John II, and the Eastern bishops sign it. This “Formula of Hormisdas” stated the following (red highlights mine):
“The first condition of salvation is to keep the norm of the true faith and in no way to deviate from the established doctrine of the Fathers. For it is impossible that the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, who said, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church,” [Matthew 16:18], should not be verified. And their truth has been proved by the course of history, for in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been kept unsullied. From this hope and faith we by no means desire to be separated and, following the doctrine of the Fathers, we declare anathema all heresies, and, especially, the heretic Nestorius, former bishop of Constantinople, who was condemned by the Council of Ephesus, by Blessed Celestine, bishop of Rome, and by the venerable Cyril, bishop of Alexandria. We likewise condemn and declare to be anathema Eutyches and Dioscoros of Alexandria, who were condemned in the holy Council of Chalcedon, which we follow and endorse. This Council followed the holy Council of Nicaea and preached the apostolic faith. And we condemn the assassin Timothy, surnamed Aelurus [“the Cat”] and also Peter [Mongos] of Alexandria, his disciple and follower in everything. We also declare anathema their helper and follower, Acacius of Constantinople, a bishop once condemned by the Apostolic See, and all those who remain in contact and company with them. Because this Acacius joined himself to their communion, he deserved to receive a judgment of condemnation similar to theirs. Furthermore, we condemn Peter [“the Fuller””] of Antioch with all his followers together with the followers of all those mentioned above.
Following, as we have said before, the Apostolic See in all things and proclaiming all its decisions, we endorse and approve all the letters which Pope St Leo wrote concerning the Christian religion. And so I hope I may deserve to be associated with you in the one communion which the Apostolic See proclaims, in which the whole, true, and perfect security of the Christian religion resides. I promise that from now on those who are separated from the communion of the Catholic Church, that is, who are not in agreement with the Apostolic See, will not have their names read during the sacred mysteries. But if I attempt even the least deviation from my profession, I admit that, according to my own declaration, I am an accomplice to those whom I have condemned. I have signed this, my profession, with my own hand, and I have directed it to you, Hormisdas, the holy and venerable pope of Rome.” [Source: “Eastern Orthodox opposition to papal supremacy”]
As far as I can tell, no Eastern Orthodox denies this Formula is a historical document and is accurately presented here. What they do deny are the Papal ‘overtones’ of the document, which is what I’ll be addressing in a moment.
From this Formula, it is clear that the See of Rome saw itself as the head of the Church by which all controversies are to be settled and all bishops (and Emperors) must submit to. Pope Hormisdas quotes Matthew 16:18-19 in regards to himself, he anathematizes the previous Patriarch of Constantinople, and he demands the new Patriarch of Constantinople and schismatic bishops all unconditionally sign this Formula. All these factors are huge for anyone who has common sense, for they clearly spell out that the Pope didn’t see himself as subject to the whims of other bishops. Just the fact the Pope unilaterally condemned a Patriarch is huge, since that’s something which is impossible in Eastern Orthodox ecclesiology.
There are plenty of articles that speak of how the Bishop of Constantinople, John II, signed the document with the qualification that Constantinople and Rome are “one” see. In short, he was obviously assuming ecclesiastical prerogatives that may be inferred by such a document, an observation made by scholars such as Frend. So, I will not address that issue at length. Instead, I will make the following two points.
First, the document, if one simply reads it plainly (especially the embolden section), really is not that radical in its claims. It makes the somewhat dubious, but generally true, claim that Rome had up until that point kept the faith “unsullied” and predicates this upon Matt 16:18. In Rome there is “perfect security,” but the libellus does not really flesh out what this means. And…That’s it. It does not say a Pope can never make a theological error, or that communion with Rome is necessary for salvation, or that Rome has jurisdiction over the entire world, or that any of these assertions will persist throughout time–or really anything Orthodox would take issue with.
The document itself is really not that radical at all, despite the astonishment at its existence among Roman Catholic apologists. I honestly wonder why people react so strongly to the libellus. Is it the first sentence? Even Protestants concur that we ought to keep the norm of the true faith. Do Roman Catholics read the end of the first sentence to be about the Papacy, when in fact the libellus never explicitly claims this? Is it the “perfect security” thing? Is that statement really so strong and explicit that it proves Papal infallbility, a far more fleshed out doctrine? All the formula really says is that Rome has been a stalwart, is blessed by God in this, excommunicates heretics, and extols maintaining communion with Rome instead of the heretics in which there is the security of right doctrine. If one agreed with Rome on dyophysitism, the preceding would be easy to concede.
Second, the additional “versions” of the text which are extant lack anything that one can infer to be a Papal claim. This is surprising given that even the Latin manuscripts are ecclesiastically tame in their claims and that the real point of contention was the libellus’ excommunications.
For example, the proto-Maronites (these were Syrian monks who were Roman allies in the sixth century and out of communion with Constantinople) signed something that amounted to the libellus. It was in fact a petition for acceptance back into communion in response to an earlier, more strictly worded version of the libellus which was circulating since 516 AD. This petition had massive alterations that put the document at variance with the one we see above. Letter 139 records the following (take note of how the embolden sections above compared to this letter):
To you God has given the power and authority to bind and to loosen [Matt 16:19]. Not the healthy ones have need of the physician but the sick [Matt 9:12]. Arise, holy Fathers, come to save us! Be imitators of the Lord Christ, who has come down from the heavens onto the earth to seek the sheep that is going astray, Peter, that leader of the apostles, whose seat you adorn, and Paul, who is the vessel of election, the ones who are going around and have illuminated the world. Great wounds, namely, are in need of greater remedies. For the hired shepherds, when they see the wolves come against the sheep, abandon them so that they are scattered by them [cf. John 10:12], but to you, the true shepherds and teachers, to whom the care for the well-being of the sheep has been committed, the flock come who know their shepherd when they have been freed from the pitiless wild animals and they are following the voice of the shepherd, as the Lord says: “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me.” [John 10:3] Therefore, do not despise us, most holy one, since daily we are being wounded by wild beasts.
But so that your holy angel may have complete knowledge, we courageously anathematize with our very petition both all the ones who have been put forth in the libellus and the ones who have been excommunicated by your Apostolic See: We speak, however, of Nestorius, who was bishop of Constantinople, Eutyches, Dioscorus, and Peter of Alexandria, who also has the name Balbus, and Peter, who was named “the Fuller,” of Antioch, and last not least Acacius, who was bishop of Constantinople, the one in communion with them and all, who defend any one of those heretics.
As we can see, the Maronite petition in response to the libellus reaffirms the Roman excommunications which are of people they already had excommunicated, quotes Matt 16:19, and extols the authority Rome derives from both Peter and Paul. Interestingly, it identifies fathers and teachers of Rome, indicating the authority appealed to in the west was not invested in a singular office holder. There are no “clear statements” of “the primacy and infallibility of the Roman See,” or anything of the sort. The fact that they only quoted the excommunications shows that they did not understand the rest of it to be doctrinally important in any way. Lastly, the fact they responded to the libellus with their petition’s non-substantial flattery, essentially written to the same effect, shows they merely interpreted the rest of the libellus as such.
How about the Greek version of the formula? Fortescue in The Reunion Formula of Hormisdas claims in Footnote 47 that an alternate “Greek text is shorter but contains the same clauses.” This is evidence, Roman Catholic apologists allege, that the Greek version had all the relevant Papal claims. I will respond to this in three ways.
First, his comments pertain to the Greek formula as found in the minutes of of the Council of Constantinople 869-870 AD–a pro-Roman reunion council which was considered such an embarrassment to the east that they immediately tried destroying its Libelli and later (with a Pope!) completely anathematized it, claiming the council to be invalid.
Second, it is not actually the Formula of Hormisdas. It is the Formula of Adrian II. It only in its second paragraph quotes about two sentences from the Formula of Hormisdas.
Third, Fortescue’s footnote contains a citation to something he likely has never read. If one actually follows up on his citation and reads the Greek, the Greek that is quoted does not even belong to the Formula of Hormisdas. So, his analysis is based upon the reading of an unknown Greek text and one cannot substantiate his conclusion.
So, what did the Greek minutes of Constantinople contain? These can be accessed in Mansi, Volume 16, Column 316.
Edward Denny in his book Papalism discusses what the Greek formula states. Denny writes:
The Greek omits the greater part of the references to the Roman See, running as follows: ‘The chief means of salvation is that we should keep the rule of right faith, and in no way deviate from the decrees of God and the Fathers,’ then are omitted all the remaining words down to ‘following in all things the ordinances of the Fathers’ and the document proceeds at once with the anathemas and concludes, ‘Concerning the most reverend Patriarch Ignatius, and those who think with him, whatever the authority of the Apostolic throne has decreed we embrace with our whole mind. This profession of faith, I, N., Bishop of the holy Church of N. have made and subscribed with my own hand, etc.’ The fact that it was a Greek and not a Latin Synod makes it not improbable that the Greek text is the more trustworthy, at all events the divergence is remarkable. The Synod was greatly under Roman influence, and it was anathematised by the Greeks in the Synod of Constantinople A.D. 879 (vide n. 918), and was again expressly repudiated by the Easterns at the Council of Florence (vide nn. 266, 919). (p. 474).
For those who are visual learners, here is the Latin document (left) with the parts in common with the Greek (right) embolden:
Salvation lies first and foremost in keeping the rule of the orthodox faith, and then in departing in no way from the decrees of God and the fathers. Of these one pertains to faith and the other to good works. For as it is written, ‘Without faith it is impossible to please God’, so we also read, ‘Faith without works is dead.’ And as it is impossible to overlook the saying of our Lord Jesus Christ, ‘You are Peter and on this rock I shall build my church’, so these words are proved by the actual outcome, since the catholic religion has always been preserved without stain, and the holy doctrines preached, in the apostolic see.
Since, therefore, we have no desire to depart from her faith and doctrine, but follow in all things the decrees of the fathers and in particular of the holy bishops of the apostolic see, we anathematize all the heresies together with the iconomachs.
We also anathematize Photius…[complains about Photius and Gregory of Syracuse]
Moreover, as regards our most venerable patriarch Ignatius and those who belong to his party, we follow with total conviction and revere with religious devotion what the authority of your apostolic see has decreed, and to the full extent of our knowledge and ability defend it with pious resolve and spiritual contestation.
Because, as we have already said, we follow the apostolic see in all things and observe all its decrees, we hope for the favour of enjoying the single communion that the apostolic see proclaims, in which is the complete and true totality of the Christian religion. And as regards those who are separated from the communion of the Catholic Church, namely those who are in opposition to the apostolic see, we promise not to read out their names in the sacred mysteries.
This my profession I myself — Bishop so and so of such and such a holy church — have written with my own hand and present to you most holy, thrice blessed and coangelic lord the supreme pontiff and universal Pope Hadrian through your legates.
The chief means of salvation is that we should keep the rule of right faith, and in no way deviate from the decrees of God and the Fathers. Following in all things the ordinances of the Fathers we anathematize all the heresies together with the iconomachs. We also anathematize Photius…[complains about Photius and Gregory of Syracuse] We embrace with all our heart whatever the authority of the Apostolic throne decreed, concerning Ignatius, the most reverend patriarch, and those who think like him. I, N[ame], bishop of such a church, have made this profession of argument, and by my hand I deliver it to you, a most holy despot and great pontiff, and an ecumenical father Hadrian through the legates.
Notice the difference? All of the “questionable” parts of the libellus are notably missing. Additionally, the Greek notably lauds Pope Adrian II using terminology toned down a notch, though it interestingly ascribes to him the term “ecumenical” which bears all the hallmarks of authenticity, as this would have been an obvious humbling of the Ecumenical Patriarch–a bishop that all attendees to that council wanted humbled. Again, I reiterate, this was a pro-Roman source (Constantinople IV 869-870), just like the proto-Maronite petition!
Being that Fortescue claims, “Only in the acts of the Fourth Council of Constantinople do we find a Greek version” (p. 14 of 1955 Graymoor edition), this means that Roman Catholic apologists are making their claims based on the above. Do we have any indication of Vatican I-level concessions among the Greeks? Absolutely not.
It should be noted that the surviving Greek minutes to Constantinople 869-870 read like a “Readers Digest” version so it cannot be ascertained whether the excisions made are due to the Greeks purposely not affirming Papal claims, as perhaps not so coincidentally the excisions fall upon those lines, or if they were removed simply to save space because they were understood to be meaningless honorifics. Lending credibility to the fact that the Greek is likely an intact, original version of the formula is that when the formula’s contents are described later in the Council of Constantinople 869-870 during session 7, any mention of Papal claims is absent. Yet, every other feature of the formula is mentioned:
Baanes the most magnificent patrician and praepositus went across and said, ‘Most holy legates of Elder Rome, what libellus [Formula] are you requiring of them?’
The most holy legates of Elder Rome said: ‘The one we brought from the holy Roman church, requiring them to condemn Photius and all his acts and anathematize Gregory of Syracuse, to accept the most holy patriarch Ignatius and prostrate themselves at his feet, and to do everything that the holy Roman church has set out.’
The most holy legates of the oriental sees said: ‘This is also our judgement and wish.’ (Price and Montinaro, Constantinople 869-870, p. 271)
One would expect that if the original Formula of Adrian II contained important teachings on the infallibility of the Pope and an acknowledgement of his supremacy, the Roman legates would have said so. Granted the statement “do everything that the holy Roman church has set out” is cryptic, as it may pertain to refusing to commune “those in opposition to the Apostolic See.” However, this general statement more likely implies what the Greek generally recommends in its final clause: “We embrace with all our heart whatever the authority of the Apostolic throne decreed, concerning Ignatius…” and the specific instructions concerning signing and signing the libellus for a legate.
To conclude, I can only say that all Roman Catholic apologetics on the issue of the libellus are a big, old sham. If two first millennium documents from staunch Papal allies do not deliver the goods on this issue, I personally doubt any will and we can put this to rest. The better question is why the Latin manuscript record is always so exaggerated with its Papal claims, but these claims always magically disappear when translated into Greek, even to a friendly and receptive audience. That’s a question for another day.
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The pope can make a theological error, communion with Rome is not a condition of salvation, and Rome does not have jurisdiction over the entire world. These are not assertions that flow from papal supremacy.
Actually, they all ABSOLUTELY flow from Papal Supremacy:
“We teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman Pontiff speaks ex cathedra…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.”
-Pastor Aeternus (1870), Session 4
“Christ and the Pope hold the same tribunal and the Pope has the power to do everything
except sin; nor may he err in the faith.”
-Martino Garati, Tractatus de Principibus, Quaestio 474
“We declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every
human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”
-Unam Sanctam, 1302
“Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound
to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world…So, then, if anyone says that the Roman Pontiff has merely an office of supervision and guidance, and not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole Church…let him be anathema.”
-Pastor Aeternus, ibid.
“Whosoever presumes to attack, diminish or reduce this primacy to the level of any other
ecclesiastical office…is heretical, schismatic, impious and sacrilegious.”
-Jean Gerson, Tractatus de Statibus Ecclesiasticis, De Statu
Summi Pontificis, Consideratio I
“It is Church dogma that the Pope, the successor of St. Peter, possesses not only primacy of honour but also primacy of authority and jurisdiction over the whole Church.”
-Commisum Divinitus, 1835
“Whosoever presumes to attack, diminish or reduce this primacy to the level of any other
ecclesiastical office…is heretical, schismatic, impious and sacrilegious.”
-Jean Gerson, ibid.
And just in case you think these statements are “outdated” here’s one from Francis a few years ago:
“Bishops…constitute one single College, gathered around the Pope, who is the guardian and guarantor of this profound communion that was so close to Jesus’ heart and to his Apostles’ too.”
-General Audience, St. Peter’s Square, 5 Nov. 2014
Nice quote mine.
Thanks. I made a handy document for apologetic use, all meticulously cited. Feel free to use, share, or expand:
Click to access examination-of-the-papacy-1.pdf
Thanks Evangelos for the quotes.
I said that the pope can make a theological error, and he absolutely can. It is only when the pope speaks ex cathedra, or in communion with the bishops of the world in an ecumenical council, that his teaching in matters of faith is infallible.
CCC 891 “The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful – who confirms his brethren in the faith 891 “The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful – who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium,” above all in an Ecumenical Council.418 When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine “for belief as being divinely revealed,”419 and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions “must be adhered to with the obedience of faith.”420 This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.421. . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium,” above all in an Ecumenical Council.418 When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine “for belief as being divinely revealed,”419 and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions “must be adhered to with the obedience of faith.”420 This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.421
So it is only when the pope “proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals” that he is infallible, not on every moral or theological opinion he may voice.
I said that communion with Rome is not a condition for salvation.
The CCC states:
“Outside the Church there is no salvation”
846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?335 Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:
Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.336
847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:
Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.337
848 “Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.”338
I also said: “Rome does not have jurisdiction over the entire world.” We can agree here that, in the spiritual sphere, it does. However, not in the material sense.
Thanks for the comment. Unfortunately, what you describe as the Pope “speaking in communion with all the bishops of the world” in order to preach infallibly is called Conciliarism, and it was condemned as a heresy by the Roman Church in the 15th century and again in the 18th. Here’s a taste:
“The government of the Church is founded upon the monarchical principle.”
– Joannes Devotus, Institutiones canonicae, Prolegomena, Cap. II, sec. XIX
“The Church cannot stand against the Highest Pontiff…Therefore, in a council, even if the majority dissents, their voice is worth nothing as they are estranged from the head, and being separated, they cannot speak for and represent the Church.”
-Joannes Devotus, op. cit. sec. XXIV
“The Pope is not simply a man but is like a god on Earth.”
-Alvarus Pelagius, De Planctu Ecclesiae, Lib. I, Cap. 68
“The judgement of the Pope and the judgement of God is one and the same.”
-Augustinus Triumphus, Summa de potestate ecclesiastica, Quaestio VI, art. 1
“Whatever (the Pope) wishes (is) considered sacrosanct in the universal Church, worthy to be conserved by all, and (is) to be acknowledged as canonical.”
-Cardinal Caesar Baronius, Annales Ecclesiastici, Ad Annum 553, CCXXIV
“That blessed Peter the Apostle had no more authority than the other Apostles had nor was he the head of the other Apostles. Likewise that God did not send forth any head of the Church, nor did He make anyone His vicar…We declare by sentence the above mentioned articles…to be contrary to Sacred Scripture and enemies of the Catholic faith, heretics, or heretical and erroneous…”
-Pope John XXII, Licet juxta doctrinam, October 23, 1327, Denzinger 496, 500 (old numbering)
Up until very recently, all Papal bulls used to end with this phrase:
“Non obstantibus constitutionibus et ordinationibus apostolicis, caeterisque contrariis quibuscumque.”
Which translates as:
“Notwithstanding the constitutions and ordinances of the Apostles, and anything contrary whatsoever.”
That doesn’t sound very conciliar to me.
The truth is that only the Orthodox Church preserves the canons of the Apostles and the Holy Spirit. The Papal system was not instituted by God but by the fallen will of man, hence all the contradictions and problems. I leave you with with a quote by the great Pope St. Gregory I, Apostle to the English:
“I say it without the least hesitation, whoever calls himself the universal bishop, or desires this title, is, by his pride, the precursor of Antichrist, because he thus attempts to raise himself above the others. The error into which he falls springs from pride equal to that of Antichrist; for as that Wicked One wished to be regarded as exalted above other men, like a god, so likewise whoever would be called sole bishop exalteth himself above others.”
-Epistles, Book VII, Letter 33
Vatican II explained the doctrine of infallibility as follows: “Although the individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, they can nevertheless proclaim Christ’s doctrine infallibly. This is so, even when they are dispersed around the world, provided that while maintaining the bond of unity among themselves and with Peter’s successor, and while teaching authentically on a matter of faith or morals, they concur in a single viewpoint as the one which must be held conclusively. This authority is even more clearly verified when, gathered together in an ecumenical council, they are teachers and judges of faith and morals for the universal Church. Their definitions must then be adhered to with the submission of faith” (Lumen Gentium 25).
Always remember that an ecumenical council of the church includes the pope.
Your quote from Pope St. Gregory I, if true, only proves the point that a apope’s theological opinions are not infallible.
You totally contradicted the witness of the first millennium Church.
The authority of Peter and the papacy.
Among the apostles, Peter received from Christ the primacy of jurisdiction over the church.
Tertullian. Modesty, ca. A.D. 220. 21, 9-10.
I now inquire into your opinion, (to see) from what source you usurp this right to the Church.
If, because the Lord has said to Peter, Upon this rock will I build My Church, to you have I given the keys of the heavenly kingdom; or, Whatsoever you shall have bound or loosed in earth, shall be bound or loosed in the heavens, you therefore presume that the power of binding and loosing has derived to you, that is, to every Church akin to Peter, what sort of man are you, subverting and wholly changing the manifest intention of the Lord, conferring (as that intention did) this (gift) personally upon Peter? On you, He says, will I build My Church; and, I will give to you the keys, not to the Church; and, Whatsoever you shall have loosed or bound, not what they shall have loosed or bound.
St. Clement of Alexandria. Who is the rich man that is saved? Inter A.D. 190/210. 21,4
Therefore on hearing those words, the blessed Peter, the chosen, the pre-eminent, the first of the disciples, for whom alone and Himself the Saviour paid tribute, Matthew 17:27 quickly seized and comprehended the saying.
Origen, Commentaries on John, A.D. 226-232 et postea. 5,3.
And Peter, on whom the Church of Christ is built, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail Matthew 16:18 left only one epistle of acknowledged genuineness. Suppose we allow that he left a second;
St Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, ca. A.D.350. 17,27.
In the power of the same Holy Spirit Peter also, the chief of the Apostles and the bearer of the keys of the kingdom of heaven, healed Æneas the paralytic in the Name of Christ at Lydda,
St Augustine of Hippo, Sermons, inter A.D. 391-430. 295,2.
Before his suffering the Lord Jesus Christ, as you know, chose his disciples, whom he called Apostles. Among these apostles almost everywhere Peter alone merited to represent the whole church. For the sake of representing the whole church, which he alone could do, he merited to hear: “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven”. For it was not one man, but the unity of the church which received those keys. In that way, Peter’s own excellence is foretold, because he acted the part of the unity and totality of the church herself, when to him it was said, “ I hand over to you” what in fact was handed over to all.
St. Leo I, Pope , Letter of pope Leo I to the bishops of the province of Vienne, A.D. 445. 10, 1.
But the Lord desired that the sacrament of this gift should pertain to all the apostles in such a way that it might be found principally in the most blessed Peter, the highest of all the apostles. And he wanted his gifts to flow into the entire body from Peter himself, as if from the head, in such a way that anyone who had dared to separate himself from the solidarity of Peter would realise that he was himself no longer a sharer in the divine mystery …. Your fraternities must realise with us, of course, that the Apostolic see – out of reverence for it, I mean, – has on countless occasions been reported to by bishops even of your province. And through the appeal of various cases to this see, decisions already made already made have been either revoked or confirmed, as dictated by long standing custom.
St. Leo I, Pope, Letter of pope Leo I to Anastasius, bishop of Thessalonica. Ca. A.D 446. 14,11.
Although bishops have a common dignity, they are not all of the same rank. Even among the most blessed apostles, though they were all alike in honour, there was a certain distinction of power, All were equal in being chosen, but it was given to one to be preeminent over the others. From this formality there arose also a distinction among bishops, and by a great arrangement it was provided that no one should arrogate everything to himself, but in individual provinces there should be individual bishops whose opinion among their brothers should be first; and again, certain
others, established in larger cities, were to accept a larger responsibility. Through them the care of the universal church would converge in the one see of Peter, and nothing should ever be at odds with this head.
St. Leo I, Pope, Sermons, ante A.D. 461. 4,2.
From the whole world only one, Peter, is chosen to preside over the calling of all nations, and over all the other apostles, and over the Fathers of the church. Thus, although among the people of God there are many priests and many pastors, it is really Peter who rules them all, of whom, too, it is Christ who is their chief ruler. Divine condescension, dearly beloved, has granted to this man in a wonderful and marvellous manner the aggregate of its power; and if there was something that it wanted to be his in common with other leaders, it never gave whatever it did not deny to others except through him.
St. Innocent I, Pope, Letter of Pope Innocent I to Vidtricius, bishop of Rouen. A.D. 404. 2,3,6.
If cases of greater importance are to be heard, they are, as the synod decrees and as happy custom requires, after Episcopal judgement, to be referred to the Apostolic See.
From the earliest times it was acknowledged that the supreme power over the whole church belonged to the Bishop of Rome as successor of Peter.
The Council of Sardica, A.D. 342/343. Canon 4.
Bishop Gaudentius said: If it seems good to you, it is necessary to add to this decision full of sincere charity which you have pronounced, that if any bishop be deposed by the sentence of these neighbouring bishops, and assert that he has fresh matter in defense, a new bishop be not settled in his see, unless the bishop of Rome judge and render a decision as to this.
Synodal Letter of Ambrose, Sabinus, Bassian, and others to Pope Siricius. Ca. A.D. 389. 42, 1.
TO THEIR LORD, THEIR DEARLY BELOVED BROTHER, POPE SIRICIUS, AMBROSE, SABINUS, BASSANIUS, AND THE REST SEND GREETING.
1. In your Holiness’ Letter we recognized the vigilance of a good shepherd, for you faithfully guard the door which has been entrusted to you, and with pious solicitude watch over the fold of Christ, being worthy to be heard and followed by the sheep of the Lord. Knowing therefore the lambs of Christ, you will easily discover the wolves, and meet them as a wary shepherd, so as to keep them from scattering the Lord’s flock by their unbelieving life and dismal barking.
St. Jerome, Letter to Pope Damasus. Inter A.D. 374/379. 15, 2. 16, 2.
As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is with the chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the church is built! Matthew 16:18 This is the house where alone the paschal lamb can be rightly eaten. Exodus 12:22 This is the Ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails.
The church is rent into three factions, and each of these is eager to seize me for its own. The influence of the monks is of long standing, and it is directed against me. I meantime keep crying: He who clings to the chair of Peter is accepted by me. Meletius, Vitalis, and Paulinus all profess to cleave to you, and I could believe the assertion if it were made by one of them only. As it is, either two of them or else all three are guilty of falsehood. Therefore I implore your blessedness, by our Lord’s cross and passion, those necessary glories of our faith, as you hold an apostolic office, to give an apostolic decision. Only tell me by letter with whom I am to communicate in Syria, and I will pray for you that you may sit in judgment enthroned with the twelve; Matthew 19:28 that when you grow old, like Peter, you may be girded not by yourself but by another, John 21:18 and that, like Paul, you may be made a citizen of the heavenly kingdom. Do not despise a soul for which Christ died.
Pope Innocent I, Letter of Pope Innocent I to the Fathers of the Council of Carthage, A.D. 417. 29,1.
In seeking the things of God, ….. following the examples of ancient tradition, ….you have strengthened …… the vigour of your religion with true reason, for you have acknowledged that judgement is to be referred to us, and have shown that you know what is owed to the Apostolic See, if all of us placed in this position are to desire follow the apostle himself from whom the episcopate itself and the total authority of this name have emerged. Following him, we know how to condemn evils just as well as we know how to approve what is laudable. Or rather, guarding with your priestly office what the Fathers instituted, you did not regard what you had decided, not by human but by divine judgements, as something to be trampled on. They did not regard anything as finished, even though it was the concern of distant and remote provinces, until it had come to the notice of this See, so that what was a just pronouncement might be confirmed by the total authority of this See, and thence other churches, – just as all waters proceed from their own natural source and, through the various regions of the whole world, remain pure liquids of an uncorrupted head, – might take up what they ought to teach, whom they ought to wash, whom the water worthy of clean bodies would shun as being soiled with a filth incapable of being cleansed.
St Peter Chrysologus, Letter to Eutyches, A.D. 449. 25,2.
We exhort you in every respect, honourable brother, to heed obediently what has been written by the Most Blessed Pope of the city of Rome; for blessed Peter, who lives and presides in his own see, provides the truth of faith to those who seek it. For we, by reason of our pursuit of peace and faith, cannot try cases on the faith without the consent of the Bishop of the City of Rome.
You are in error as to what the Holy Fathers meant by “primacy”. It had nothing to do with the outlandish claims of Vatican I. All you need to do is read the Holy Canons of the Councils to see that. But here’s a shorter way of understanding this. Have a look and see how the greatest WESTERN Fathers interpreted Matthew 16:18.
Saint Ambrose (c. 340-397):
“He [Peter], then, who before was silent, to teach us that we ought not to repeat the words of the impious, this one, I say, when he heard: “But who do you say I am,” immediately, not unmindful of his station, exercised his primacy, that is, the PRIMACY OF CONFESSION, NOT OF HONOUR; the PRIMACY OF BELIEF, NOT OF RANK…Faith, then, is the foundation of the Church, for it was not said of Peter’s flesh, but of his faith, that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” But his confession of faith conquered hell.”
-De Incarnatione Domenicae Sacramento, sec. 32, 34 (Chapters 4 & 5).
Saint Jerome (347-420):
“But you say the Church was founded upon Peter: although elsewhere the same is attributed to all the Apostles, and THEY ALL RECEIVE THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, AND THE STRENGTH OF THE CHURCH DEPENDS UPON THEM ALL ALIKE; yet one among the twelve is chosen so that when a head has been appointed, there may be no occasion for schism. But why was not John chosen, who was a virgin? Deference was paid to age, because Peter was the elder: one who was a youth, I may say almost a boy, could not be set over men of advanced age.”
-Against Jovinian, Book I, 26.
Saint Augustine (354-430):
“We believe not in Peter but in Him whom Peter believed.” (City of God XVIII, 53)
“For petra (rock) is not derived from Peter, but Peter from petra; just as Christ is not called so from the Christian, but the Christian from Christ. For on this very account the Lord said, “On this rock will I build my Church,” because Peter had said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” On this rock, therefore, He said, which you have confessed, I will build my Church. FOR THE ROCK (PETRA) WAS CHRIST. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus.” (Tractate 124 on the Gospel of John.)
Pope St. Gregory the Great (r. 590-604):
“In Holy Scripture what else do we understand by foundations but holy preachers? For since God had placed them first in the Church, the whole structure of the subsequent fabric has risen up upon them. Whence also the priest is ordered, when he enters the tabernacle, to bear twelve stones on his breast. [Ex. 28: 21] Because, namely, our High Priest, in offering Himself a sacrifice for us, when He set forth mighty preachers at the very beginning, carried TWELVE STONES under His head in the front of His body. The HOLY APOSTLES THEREFORE ARE STONES on the breast, to be displayed as an ornament in front, and FOUNDATIONS in the ground for the first firm basis of the edifice.
-Moralia in Job, Chapter 28, section 14.
And just for the fun of it, here’s one by Pope Sylvester II (r. 999-1003):
“Have they been able to show the Roman bishop’s judgment to be greater than God’s? On the contrary, the first bishop of the Romans, indeed, the prince of the Apostles themselves, exclaims: “We must obey God rather than men.” Paul, that master of the world, also declares: “If any shall preach unto you anything other than that ye have received, even an angel from heaven, let him be anathema.” Because Pope Marcellinus burned incense to Jove, did all bishops, therefore, have to burn incense? I firmly maintain that if the Roman bishop himself shall have sinned against his brother and, though often advised, shall not have listened to the Church, that Roman bishop, I say, is to be considered a heathen and a publican according to the commandment of God. For the loftier the position, the greater the ruin. Even if he declares us unworthy of his communion because none of us will join him against the Gospel, he will not be able to separate us from the communion of Christ.” (Letter 192, AD 997)
As you can see, consensus patrum had a very clear definition of primacy that was twisted by corrupt popes in the second millennium. Out of curiosity, I was wondering if you are aware that the See of Antioch is also Petrine? By your rules, that would make the Patriarch of Antioch the Supreme Bishop of the Christian world.
I do not want to spend an awful amount of time debating this, as it is likely not to be a fruitful exchange. But I’ll make a few points:
Saint Ambrose “He [Peter], …. exercised his primacy, that is, the PRIMACY OF CONFESSION, NOT OF HONOUR; the PRIMACY OF BELIEF, NOT OF RANK”. That is what PETER did. What Christ did was to make Peter (and his successors) the “prime minister” of his kingdom in his absence. How do we know this? Because Jesus is referencing Isaiah 22 by his words.
Saint Jerome “THEY ALL RECEIVE THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, AND THE STRENGTH OF THE CHURCH DEPENDS UPON THEM ALL ALIKE;” Indeed they do, that is the twelve of them together, as we can see in Matthew 18. Yet Jerome adds: “yet one among the twelve is chosen SO THAT when a head has been appointed, THERE MAY BE NO OCCASION FOR SCHISM.” Then Jerome gives an opinion: “Deference was paid to age”. That is what Jerome has to say. But Jesus gives another reason: “it was no human agency that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. 18 So I now say to you:” I’d go with Jesus’ reading.
St Augustine ““For petra (rock) is not derived from Peter, but Peter from petra” No one at all disputes this, and it is for this reason that Jesus has the power to delegate his authority to Peter.
Pope St. Gregory the Great “The HOLY APOSTLES THEREFORE ARE STONES on the breast”. This is a reformulation of Rev 21:14 “14 The city walls stood on twelve foundation stones, each one of which bore the name of one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” It adds nothing to the conversation.
Pope Sylvester II “I firmly maintain that if the Roman bishop himself shall have sinned against his brother and, though often advised, shall not have listened to the Church, that Roman bishop, I say, is to be considered a heathen and a publican according to the commandment of God.” This in no way contradicts the doctrine of papal supremacy, and there have been many popes who have taught error and had to be corrected by their brother bishops.
None of the quotes you bring up challenges papal supremacy.
The see of Antioch has no history of supremacy, except possibly when Peter was there, but I don’t believe this can be confirmed historically. Rome was always the one, and so it is now.
Let me ask you this: can the Pope unilaterally declare dogma and disregard the Apostolic Canons?
The pope cannot declare a dogma that contradicts Scripture or Tradition as interpreted and taught by the church. That’s a no brainer.
“it was no human agency that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven.”
The word THIS refers to Peter’s declaration that Jesus is the Son of God, not Peter’s infallibility! What a statement. The point Christ is making is that at that moment, Peter was inspired by the Holy Spirit to utter those words, as St. Paul confirms:
“No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” (1 Corinthians 12:3)
For the love of God, don’t twist the words of the Saviour.
Whoa! I NEVER said that “this” refers to Peter’s infallibility. What on earth made you think that? “This” indeed refers to Jesus being the Son of God. And indeed Peter was inspired by the Holy Spirit to utter those words.
But because Peter uttered those words Jesus says to him: “18 SO NOW I SAY THIS TO YOU: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church.”
The declaration is JESUS’ not Peter’s!
The point about Saint Gregory is that if there are TWELVE foundations, then the authority of the Apostles must be equal; otherwise there would be but ONE foundation (Peter’s) on which the other 11 would rest. That is what Vatican I teaches:
“[Christ] set blessed Peter over the rest of the apostles and instituted in him the permanent principle of both unities and their visible foundation. Upon the strength of this foundation was to be built the eternal temple, and the Church whose topmost part reaches heaven was to rise upon the firmness of this foundation.” Pastor Aeternus
Compare this with Saint Augustine’s words I quoted above: “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 3:11)
Or with Saint Paul:
“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” (Ephesians 2: 19-20)
The Church is the Body of the Lord, won dearly by the blood of Christ Himself. Who is Peter??
Peter is only what Jesus made Peter to be. Just like Mary is only what Jesus made Mary to be.
You say: “The point about Saint Gregory is that if there are TWELVE foundations,” and indeed there are twelve foundations. Then you add: ” then the authority of the Apostles must be equal;” That my friend is found nowhere in scripture. In fact Judas was still with them when Jesus spoke to Peter, besides it is perfectly clear from scripture that Peter, James and John formed part of an inner circle with Jesus, and that Jesus revealed more of himself to them and entrusted more to them, also that Jesus had a special love for John, “the one whom the Lord loved”. To treat all twelve as “equal” is not scriptural. Jesus does not treat them equally.
Augustine’s words will always be true: “Saint Augustine’s words I quoted above: “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 3:11)”. That in no way detracts from Jesus appointing Peter (and his successors) to lead the apostles after Jesus’ death. Christ is always the foundation and no other can be laid. Peter’s role is always understood in that context, Jesus is ALWAYS the head of the church, and the head of Peter. And as Paul says “Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.”
For you to articulate another concept of the papacy means a failure to grasp what the papacy really is, and may be caused by prejudice or ignorance.
“Yet Jerome adds: “yet one among the twelve is chosen SO THAT when a head has been appointed, THERE MAY BE NO OCCASION FOR SCHISM.” Then Jerome gives an opinion: “Deference was paid to age”. That is what Jerome has to say. But Jesus gives another reason: “it was no human agency that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven.”
You clearly suggested that it’s St. Jerome’s mere opinion that Peter’s primacy is due to age, while it’s Jesus claim that “this” was revealed by the Father.
“The pope cannot declare a dogma that contradicts Scripture or Tradition as interpreted and taught by the church. That’s a no brainer.”
So how about the Filioque, unleavened bread for the Eucharist, crossing yourselves backwards, communion only after one kind, and the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, all of which were innovations and contradicts the practice and beliefs of the 1st millennium.
I don’t have all day.
I have communion under both kinds every day.
Whatever I answer you’ll find another hundred things to throw at me. As I suspected from the beginning this was not going to be such a fruitful exercise.
Good faith is a prerequisite for common respect and understanding, in spite of differences.
“I have communion under both kinds every day.”
Interesting, are you part of some Uniate monastery?
Firstly, let me correct what I said: Although I have had communion under both kinds for years, in the last nine months this has not been the case because of Covid 19.
I am just a common layman. Every Catholic church today offers communion under both species, bar recent Covid 19 restrictions.
Never heard of that before, but I am glad that you have returned to at least one aspect of Holy Tradition. Not too long ago, Utraquism was still considered a heresy.
But back to the question of the Papacy, why don’t you think of it this way:
What makes more sense? That one bishop (the bishop of Rome) became greedy and corrupt over time and tried to extend his power unlawfully over the Christian world OR…that the ENTIRE Eastern Church (the oldest Christian Church, and root of Christianity, I might add) is wrong, and has “stubbornly” refused the truth for 1,000 years despite numerous councils and crusades waged by the West against them?
Don’t you think the issue is a lot greater than what your modern Catechism makes it look like?
It is not for me to decide how the church should be run. It is how Jesus has ordained that it should be. And there was never a guarantee that popes would not be corrupt. Jesus made that clear to Peter in :Luke 12:41-48 “41 Peter said, ‘Lord, do you mean this parable for us, or for everyone?’
42 The Lord replied, ‘Who, then, is the wise and trustworthy steward whom the master will place over his household to give them at the proper time their allowance of food?
43 Blessed that servant if his master’s arrival finds him doing exactly that.
44 I tell you truly, he will put him in charge of everything that he owns.
45 But if the servant says to himself, “My master is taking his time coming,” and sets about beating the menservants and the servant-girls, and eating and drinking and getting drunk,
46 his master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know. The master will cut him off and send him to the same fate as the unfaithful.
47 ‘The servant who knows what his master wants, but has got nothing ready and done nothing in accord with those wishes, will be given a great many strokes of the lash.
48 The one who did not know, but has acted in such a way that he deserves a beating, will be given fewer strokes. When someone is given a great deal, a great deal will be demanded of that person; when someone is entrusted with a great deal, of that person even more will be expected.”
Having corrupt popes from time to time is part of the vicissitudes we have to live with unfortunately.
Jesus and Paul stress how unity among Christians, being of one faith and one mind, is dear to Jesus’ and the Father’s heart. We should work tirelessly towards it.
Thanks for the reply. I understand that corruption will exist everywhere, and the Orthodox Church is no exception. The difference, though, is that the Roman Church has dogmatized it. I suppose if one has an imperious bishop with outlandish pretensions, you can wait it out and pray to God for a better successor.
But what happens when those pretensions become Church dogma, and we are beholden to believe – as a matter of our faith – that one man is the unerring representative of God on Earth?
Did not St, Paul say, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed”? (Galatians 1:8)
This is an extremely high standard, and it behooves all of us as a matter of salvation and honour to preserve the Apostolic truth in its utmost purity.
Where is Papalism in the Gospel?
When the Apostles were preaching to the Gentiles, St. Peter believed that they should be circumcised and follow the law of Moses. St. Paul disagreed, and chastised St. Peter publicly:
“But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed…But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?” (Galatians 2: 11, 14)
Well, what happened? Did St. Peter overrule all opposition by virtue of his special “Petrine grace”?
No. The Apostles held the first Council, in which the correct teaching was upheld:
“For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.” (Acts 15: 28-29)
Fast-forward five centuries. During the Second Council of Constantinople, the Holy Fathers condemned the Nestorian teachings of Ibas, Theodore Mopsuestia, and Theodoret of Cyrus (the so-called Three Chapters). Pope Vigilius was at Constantinople at the time, and disagreed. He issued a Constitutum saying that the Three Chapters were NOT to be condemned:
“We ordain and decree that it be permitted to no one who stands in ecclesiastical order or office, to write or bring forward, or undertake, or teach anything contradictory to the contents of this Constitutum in regard to the Three Chapters, or, after this declaration, begin a new controversy about them. And if anything has already been done or spoken in regard of the Three Chapters in contradictions of this our ordinance, by anyone whomsoever, this we declare void by the authority of the Apostolic See.”
Notice the final words, “by the authority of the Apostolic See”. This is the clearest statement of an ex cathedra pronouncement that you can get. What did the Council do? It completely ignored the Pope. And Vigilius later retracted his statement!
“And further we annul and evacuate by this present written definition of ours whatever has been said by me or by others in defense of the aforesaid Three Chapters.” (Decretal Letter to Eutychius)
Do not get me wrong. Politically, I am a devout monarchist, and resent the chaos of democracy. But monarchy never was and shall never be the operating mechanism of the Church. The Church leadership is a theocratic aristocracy. ALL the Bishops are equal successors to the Apostles. That is why the Holy Fathers held Councils, so that even if some corrupt grandees fell into heresy, the truth would prevail.
What do you think is a more sure teaching: a forgery proclaimed by one man, or the unanimous tradition handed down generation to generation to 500 bishops spread throughout the world? THAT is what Catholic means.
You say: “one man is the unerring representative of God on Earth?”. The pope is NOT the unerring representative of God on Earth. He can and does make mistakes, and has to be corrected at times, just as Paul corrected Peter, and publicly sometimes.
You say: “Did St. Peter overrule all opposition by virtue of his special “Petrine grace”?” . Papal infallibility is not about overruling opposition.
You refer to: “this we declare void by the authority of the Apostolic See.”And continue: “Notice the final words, “by the authority of the Apostolic See”. This is the clearest statement of an ex cathedra pronouncement that you can get.”
In whose judgement is this “the clearest statement of an ex cathedra pronouncement”? In yours. Not of the church. It may have a certain amount of authority, but is not an ex cathedra statement.
What you call: “forgery proclaimed by one man”, is in fact accepted by the world’s bishops, and here is the proof that it is the truth.
Let me repost what I put a bit further up:
“We teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman Pontiff speaks ex cathedra…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.”
-Pastor Aeternus (1870), Session 4
I don’t know how much clearer it can be: the Pope does not need the consent of anyone to declare dogma.
Which is why Papal bulls until at least 100 years ago used to end with this phrase:
“Notwithstanding the constitutions and ordinances of the Apostles, and anything contrary whatsoever.”
In other words, a Pope is not bound by ANYTHING, including the Apostolic canons.
I understand you might think this is horrific and unchristian, and refuse to admit that that’s actually what your church teaches. And I fully sympathize with you. But that’s simply the reality. I don’t mean any ill will. I am simply speaking the Apostolic truth.
Indeed this is what is meant by papal infallibility: ” Vatican Council, Sess. IV, Const. de Ecclesia Christi, c. iv: “We teach and DEFINE that it is a dogma Divinely revealed that the Roman pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he DEFINES A DOCTRINE regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, by the Divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that His Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals, and that therefore such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves and not from the consent of the Church irreformable.”
That is the authority passed on to (1) Peter in Matthew 16, and (2) the twelve in Matthew 18.
“We must look also at the conditions regarding papal infallibility. According to Vatican I, which defined the doctrine, “The Roman pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra . . . possesses through the divine assistance promised to him in the person of blessed Peter, the infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to be endowed in defining the doctrine concerning faith or morals” (Pastor Aeternus 4). The passage in the ellipsis explains that the pope speaks ex cathedra “when, acting in the office of shepherd and teacher of all Christians, he DEFINES, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, A DOCTRINE concerning faith or morals to be held by the universal Church.”
The key word is “DEFINES.” Defining something is not the same as stating, teaching, declaring, condemning, or what have you. The meaning of this term is explained in a relatio on Pastor Aeternus 4. (A relatio is an official interpretation of the text that is presented to the council bishops by a man called the relator so that the bishops will know the official sense of the text on which they are voting. Thus, what is said in a relatio is key to resolving queries about the meaning of a conciliar text.)” https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/identifying-infallible-statements
So let me get this straight: the Pope is not infallible, he can and has, by your own admission, make erroneous theological statements – even taught heresy if we look at the case of Honorius – and yet it is “divinely revealed” that we must rely on him as the highest authority to define doctrine? Come one, do you honestly believe this?
A very simple question: if the purpose of the Papacy is to clarify or, as you put it, “define” doctrine, why did the Fathers hold Ecumenical Councils??
When Arius introduced his heresy, or Macedonius, or Eutyches, or Nestorius, why didn’t all the Bishops simply write a letter to the Pope to ask for his opinion? Why did they take the pains to travel weeks and even months to gather hundreds of bishops together, entreat the Holy Spirit and discuss all together, and then jointly establish canons which were binding to everyone?? Why?
“It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to US…” (Acts 15:28)
Don’t you think the case of circumcising Gentiles I mentioned above was a perfect opportunity for the Pope to “define” what the correct doctrine was? And yet the very person who was supposed to clarify this doctrine for us and preserve truth and unity, indeed St. Peter himself, the very man on whose shoulders we are supposed to believe Christ placed the entire Church…was wrong! And this was already in the Apostolic age!
Look, you seem like an intelligent person, and my goal is not to trip you up or win debating points. I am just honestly asking: in your heart of hearts, do you truly believe that God would entrust his Church, dearly won at the price of His Blood, to such a system?
Jesus entrusted his church to Peter, who disowned him three times, to Thomas, who doubted the resurrection and refused to believe the testimony of the other apostles, to James and John, who sought pride of place at Jesus’ right hand in heaven, to Paul, who fell out with Barnabas, the very one who reconciled him to the apostles in Jerusalem, – and who, by the way persecuted the church, etc. etc.
Jesus gave his authority twice, once to Peter and once to the twelve. He did this for a purpose. He intended both to be exercised, and they are so exercised, both validly.
Give me a quote regarding Peter being in favour of circumcising the gentiles will you?
“Give me a quote regarding Peter being in favour of circumcising the gentiles will you?”
I provided it above:
“I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?” (Galatians 2: 14)
The “manner of the Jews” is the Law of Moses, i.e. dietary laws and circumcision.
St. Chrysostom elaborates in his Commentary on Galatians:
“The Apostles, as I said before, permitted circumcision at Jerusalem…but when they come to Antioch, they no longer continued this observance, but lived indiscriminately with the believing Gentiles which thing Peter also was at that time doing.
But when some came from Jerusalem who had heard the doctrine he [Peter] delivered there [at Jerusalem], he no longer did so [i.e. tolerated uncircumcision at Antioch] fearing to perplex them [the disciples from Jerusalem], but he changed his course [i.e. enforced circumcision at Antioch], with two objects secretly in view, both to avoid offending those Jews, and to give Paul a reasonable pretext for rebuking him.
For had he, having allowed circumcision when preaching at Jerusalem, changed his course at Antioch, his conduct would have appeared to those Jews to proceed from fear of Paul, and his disciples would have condemned his excess of pliancy….Wherefore Paul rebukes, and Peter submits, that when the master is blamed, yet keeps silence, the disciples may more readily come over.” (On Galatians)
If anything, the passage shows that at that time the disciples feared and respected Paul’s authority more than Peter’s.
In case you still have any doubts that the Church Fathers didn’t believe that the Apostles were equal:
“Certainly the other Apostles also were what Peter was, endued with an EQUAL fellowship both of honour and power; but a commencement is made from unity, that the Church may be set before as one.” (St. Cyprian, On the Unity of the Church)
“But if you suppose that upon the one Peter only the whole church is built by God, what would you say about John the son of thunder or each one of the Apostles? Shall we otherwise dare to say, that against Peter IN PARTICULAR the gates of Hades shall not prevail, but that they shall prevail against the other Apostles and the perfect? Does not the saying previously made, ‘The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it,’ hold IN REGARD TO ALL AND IN THE CASE OF EACH OF THEM? And also the saying, ‘Upon this rock I will build My Church?’ Are the keys of the kingdom of heaven given by the Lord to Peter only, and will no other of the blessed receive them?” (Origen, Commentary on Matthew Chapters 10-11)
“And on the disciples, striving for the pre-eminence, He enjoins EQUALITY with simplicity, saying that they must become as little children.” (Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, V.5)
“For it is not equality of honour which unites natures; for then Peter and John, WHO WERE OF EQUAL HONOUR WITH EACHOTHER, being both Apostles and holy disciples [would have been one, and], yet the two are not one.” (St. Cyril, Epistle to Nestorius, Cum Salvator noster)
Was Peter the head and prince of the Apostles? He certainly was. But he was no Pope.
Thanks for the quote. What we have here is a weakness in Peter’s character, fear of the Judaizers, and Paul is absolutely right to put him in his place.
There are enough Church fathers who give primacy to bishop of Rome above and over the other bishops. I have already quoted some.
In one sense bishops are of the same rank, and lay Christians too, yet it was Christ’s will to give Peter alone his authority, as well as giving it to the twelve. The church here is faithfully putting into practice what Jesus established.
“There are enough Church fathers who give primacy to bishop of Rome above and over the other bishops.”
Those quotes that are genuine, and interpreted in context, all indicate a primacy of honour (primus inter pares) not a Vatican I style super-bishop. And it doesn’t change the fact that the governing mechanism in the Church since Apostolic times has always been the canons and local metropolitan synods, with Ecumenical Councils appointed to determine great doctrinal issues.
I don’t expect to change your mind so quickly. But I would highly recommend, when you have some time, to check out the following book:
It was written by a former French Catholic priest who was led to Orthodoxy after his researches into the Church history of his native country revealed to him that modern ultramontanism was not Apostolic. It’s well sourced and very well-written.
Well, that’s all I got for now. Merry Christmas, brother.
All this doesn’t change Jesus’ clear teaching on the matter.
Happy Christmas and God bless.
I was under the impression that the Greek transcript of Constantinople (869) no longer survives, which is why I found Denny’s claim about 869’s Greek formula being different a strange one. I haven’t been able to find a Greek version of the acta. Perhaps he got mixed up with the other Greek versions from earlier councils? Am I wrong in this?
Yes, I thought the same hint to. But being that tons of the guys early in the 1900s argued about it I will put it up and hope someone can refute it. Chadwick claims the Greek does not survive.
If the the supposed Latin addition is not that questionable, why is it not in the Greek version?
If it is really an addition by the Latin, then why not make the claim more ” radical?”
You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
And Greek often forged Church document (more so than the Latin). There are plenty of example for this.
Finally, since the east were somewhat begrudgingly acquisced to the dogma of papal supremacy. So it’s understandable that the west, for diplomatic reason, would not use a straight forward language to press the dogma. A good example is what Don Vito Corleone said in this meeting. He went on about superstitions and struck by lightining bolt. But the message is clear, “if you try to kill my son, I’m going to kill you all.”
Both sources are pro roman so your argument does not hold water . Apparently the flattery in the Latin version was considered embarrassing to some Greeks.
I’m not talking about the maronite version.
So your argument for why the Greek omitted the addition because they were embarassed? Embarassed because they have to submit to a higher authority? Then my argument stands
I am not going to respond to polemical arguments. We can disagree over my reading of the Latin tradition but for the roman apologetic to hold one needs the Greeks to agree to the embolden content in the formula. We have primary sources showing that they refused to quote the sections so the rc apologetic fails.
Why is not quoting the section prove something? That’s an argument from silence.
And about your argument that the maronite quote Matthew 16:19 (instead of Matthew 16:18)…. did you know that the “you” in Matthew 16:18-19 is singular, not plural (as in “ya’ll” )? So in Matthew 16:19, Christ was giving the power of binding and loosing to Peter. Which is why, according to Catholic doctrine, the power of the bishops derives from the Pope (or course the source is Christ).
Lastly, a diplomatic language formulated to save everyone’s faces surely could be read either way. So it’s no surprise that you read the Hormisdas formula and found no “radical” claim. You won’t find language such as Vatican I Pastor Aeternus in any ancient documents. But if you read it while keeping in mind the historical context, you will see that even the form of a greeting could mean death or live (ok, I’m exaggerating).
I post this quote here for my own reference and also to show that the violent contentions were over excommunications, not the “Papal claims” in the formula:
But there have been several cities and churches, both Pontic and Asian and especially eastern, whose clergy andlaity, though thoroughly assailed by all threats and persuasions, nevertheless to no avail have been influenced thatthey should abrogate and should remove the names of bishops whose repute has flourished among them, but theycount life harsher than death, if they shall have condemned the dead, in whose life, when alive, they used to glory.35 (Letter of Justin to Hormisdas, quoted on p. 87 of Menze’s Justinian and the Making of the Syrian Orthodox)
Agus, the Catholic Church teaches the bishops recieve their legitimacy, not power, from the pope.
Ubi Petrus, if I understand what you mean, then you are correct (see the reference below). My argument still stands tho.
Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Ludwig Ott, P. 290
The individual bishop receives his pastoral power immediately from the Pope. (Sent. probabilior.)
In the Encyclical” Mystici Corporis” (1943) Pope Pius XII says of the Bishops: “Each of them is also, as far as his own diocese is concerned, a true Pastor, who tends and rules in the name of Christ the Bock conunitted to his care. In discharging tllls ftUlction, however, they are not completely independent, but are subject to the proper authority of the Roman Pontiff, although they enjoy ordinary power ofjurisdiction received directly from the Sovereign Pontiff himself” (quamvis ordinaria jurisdictionis pote!tatc fruantUf, immediate sibi ab eodem Pontifice Summo impertita). 0 2287. Cf. D 1500.
The opinion cited (Papal Theory) corresponds best to the n10narchical constitution of the Church. When the Pope unites in hilnself the whole fullness of the pastoral power of the Church, then it corresponds to this that all incumbents of the offices subordinate to him should receive their power immediately from hinI, the representative of Christ on earth. This conception is favoured by the current practice, according to which the Pope authorises the bishop nominated or ratified by hiln to guide a diocese, and requires the clergy and laity to obey him.
The Eastern Orthodox are guilty of revisionist history and are not operating on a scholarly level. This is something you folks need to understand.
The Acacian Schism and Formula of Pope Hormisdas
Back when the east was Orthodox, they accepted the sixth century Formula of Pope Hormisdas, which reads:
“The first condition of salvation is to keep the rule of the true faith, and not to deviate in any way from the tradition of the fathers. And because the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ cannot be overlooked, which says: “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I shall build my Church,” these things which have been said are proven by the events, because in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been preserved immaculate. Not wanting to fall away from this faith, and following the constitutions of the fathers in all respects, we anathematize all heresies, especially the heretic Nestorius, who was once bishop of the city of Constantinople, condemned at the Council of Ephesus by Celestine, pope of the city of Rome, and by the holy Cyril, bishop of Alexandria; and together with him we anathematize Eutyches and Dioscorus of Alexandria, who were condemned in the holy council of Chalcedon, which we follow and embrace. Along with them we anathematize Timothy the parricide [the Cat], surnamed Elurus, and his disciple and follower in all things, Peter [Mongus] of Alexandria. In like manner we condemn and anathematize Acacius, former bishop of the city of Constantinople, their accomplice and follower, as well as those who persevered in their communion, for whoever embraces the communion of (such) individuals receives a similar judgment at their condemnation. We also condemn Peter of Antioch [the Fuller], along with his followers… Consequently we receive and approve all the letters of the blessed Pope Leo, which he wrote concerning the true faith. Wherefore, as we have already said, following in all things the Apostolic See and preaching whatever has been decreed by it, I hope that I may deserve to be in one communion with you, which the Apostolic See preaches, in which is the complete and true solidity of the Christian religion. I also promise that during the celebration of the sacred mysteries, I shall not recite the names of those who were separated from the communion of the Catholic Church, that is, those who do not agree in every respect with the Apostolic See. This profession of faith I have signed with my own hand, and offered it to you, Hormisdas, holy and venerable pope of the city of Rome.” [CSEL 35: 520-22].
Please note, as stated in this Formula, the letters of Pope Leo were accepted by the east. His letters affirmed the Roman primacy.
The ancient Collectio Avellana, compiled about 550 signatures to the Formula of Hormisads, calls it a libellus or profession “which Pope Hormisdas laid down, to be given by all the bishops of Greece.” [CSEL 35: 800].
The Roman deacon Rusticus [c. 550] speaks of the libelli, or professions of faith, “of perhaps twenty-five hundred priests, under Emperor Justin, after the schism of Peter [Mongus] of Alexandria, and Acacius of Constantinople.” [PL 67, 1251-2]. It is difficult to say how much this figure may have been inflated by the inclusion of archimandrites and lesser clergy.
The formula of Hormisdas also required the bishops to accept the letters of Pope Leo, a condition the pope had laid down back in 515, when he had sent legates into the east. In his letters, Pope Leo had not only defined the faith and claimed to preside at the ecumenical council through his legates, he had expressly rejected canon 28 and defended the traditional order of sees, naming Antioch the third see and denying that Constantinople was a major see at all.
The formula signed by Justinian also included this clause regarding the pope:
…”following in all things the Apostolic See, we preach whatever it has laid down, and profess that these things shall be observed inviolably, and shall compel all the bishops to act in accordance with the content of this libellus: the patriarchs to Your Holiness, and metropolitans to the patriarchs, and the rest to their own metropolitans, so that our Catholic Church may have her solidity in all respects.”[CSEL 35: 340].
The emperor’s profession of faith includes a clause “approving in all respects and embracing all the letters of Leo, of blessed memory, which he wrote concerning the Christian faith.” [CSEL 35: 339].
When Pope Hormisdas died in 523, his son Silverius, “captivated by the love of Peter,” wrote the late pontiff’s epitaph, eulogizing his father for healing the thirty-five year schism of Acacius [484-519]. “Greece yielded to thee,” wrote Silverius, “overcome by a pious command, rejoicing that she recovered a lost faith.” [ICUR 2: 130].
In September 516 John, bishop of Nicopolis, announced his ordination “to Hormisdas, prince of bishops.” Submitting a perfectly orthodox profession of faith, John wrote:
“Fittingly do I have recourse to your prayers, so that in accordance with the custom of your Apostolic See, you may deign to have the care of all the churches, and that of Nicopolis, according to your ancient spiritual disposition.” [CSEL 35: 522].
You apparently did not even read the article you responded to.
Helpful summary. Be sure to check out the research Perry Robinson referenced a few years ago, mostly in the comments here: https://energeticprocession.wordpress.com/2009/02/16/some-notes-on-the-acacian-schism/
Any specific points you have concerns about? I’m pretty sure Lofton is not dealing with the actual Latin letters, God willing John Collorafi and I will be parsing some of these in the near future.
I can see Michael Lofton, Ybarra, or some other Trad troll, made a bunch of fake accounts to do autistic quote mining. God bless Craig, I don’t know how you can be so patient with so many bad faith actors running around.
I’m not always patient, I have my moments too. Pray for me.