Are there a few Bishops, specifically Popes, that asserted Papal Supremacy or things that can be inferred as such? Of course. However, what we see is their claims were consistently, and often definitively, rejected. If more Orthodox knew this, we would be less intimidated by the claims of the Papacy.
2nd Century: Saint Pope Victor I excommunicated churches in Asia Minor over the date of Easter.
Eusebius recounts this was rejected by all and later the issue was decided in Nicea I, showing that the Church recognized the council was the final arbiter in these matters.
3rd Century: Saint Pope Stephen I excommunicated Saints Cyprian and Firmilian over their doctrine on Baptism.
North African council rejects Stephen, Saint Dionysus of Alexandria rejects Stephen, and Firmilian claims the “eastern churches” rejected Stephen. The next Pope (Saint Pope Sixtus II) lifted excommunications even in the face of open defiance, claiming (inexplicably) victory that everyone agreed with him.
4th Century: Saint Meletius was not recognized by the Pope of Rome and the Pope of Alexandria.
Second ecumenical council affirms Meletius and appoints his successor, explicitly rejects the authority of the Papacy over their decision, reconciles with Alexandria, and tells Rome they had the consent of everyone and they do not belong to her. (This is literally true, read the Synodical letter of the council).
5th Century: Saint Pope Celestine and Saint Cyril of Alexandria excommunicate Nestorius. Nestorius appeals the excommunication to an ecumenical council.
The council (tentatively) rules in favor of Cyril and is only fully received by Antioch two years later, after concessions are made by Cyril. The episode corroborates Saint Augustine’s claim that the Pope and western councils can be appealed and overturned by ecumenical councils. A letter exists between Celestine and his legates and another between himself and Cyril where he acknowledges that his excommunication of Nestorius is subject to conciliar review. (Celestine, Letters 16-17)
Two decades later Pope Saint Leo the Great demands no council be held over the heresy of Eutyches and asserts his Tome settles the Christological controversy. Leo is rejected on both points. A council is held, his Tome put under review, and then he is forced to reject Canon 28 even though immediately preceding the council he accepted Canon 3 of Constantinople I. This is verified by Roman allies, legates, and western saints affirming the existence of this canon and Leo’s acceptance, as well as corrboration in every copy of canon law in Latin having it–including one contemporary collection from the 5th century.
6th Century: Pope Vigilius refuses to attend fifth ecumenical council, emphatically writing that it is impossible for the Church to anathematize someone after death, but otherwise affirming every other doctrinal conclusion the council made.
Fifth ecumenical council deposes Pope Vigilius and declares itself ecumenical. Vigilius recants twice.
Conclusion. I can continue giving more examples, but I believe the preceding suffices. It is pretty clear that the RC “narrative” that the buck stopped with the Papacy and that the only time the rest of the Church “went their own way” was when they were heresy is false. There are obvious examples of the churches and councils rejecting Rome when she was asserting false doctrines and practices, and rebuffing broad assertions of Papal power.
When people actually look at the evidence instead of focusing on a few flowery words with no actions or consensus, one may surmise that the doctrine of the Papacy is literally a solid and impressive looking edifice on top a foundation of historical sand.
This is why the whole historical approach of RCism is counterfeit. They have a shifting approach to what is faith and morals in order to defend any attacks against Rome’s supposed infallibility. But isn’t this shooting the arrow and then painting the target after the fact? Isn’t the ability of the Church to condemn people after death an essential matter of ecclesiology on par with the “doctrine of the Papacy?” Wouldn’t Pope Vigilius be in error rejecting this emphatically? Isn’t what the Church can do an issue of faith? Hence, didn’t Vigilius commit an ex cathedra error, something that Vatican I teaches is impossible?
This is why everything with RCs becomes a shell game of technicalities and arguments over what terms mean, a useless wrangling over words that the Scriptures warn us against.
If anyone takes a deep breath and looks at history like a normal human being, one finds the “Rad Trad” Roman Catholic presentation of Church History to be senseless–which is why almost every single Roman Catholic scholar which is published via peer review rejects it and only online apologist hacks pretend that its true.
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