Papacy Roundup

Aug 2nd, 2012 | By | Category: Blog Posts

There has been a great deal of discussion at CTC about the rational superiority of the Catholic interpretive paradigm  over the Protestant interpretive paradigm. As Michael Liccione, and others, have pointed out, Protestantism has no principled way to differentiate dogma from theological opinion – no coherent way even to identify the contours of Christian doctrine – that does not reduce to question begging or subjectivism. Catholicism, by contrast, posits an objective way to draw such distinctions.


St. Gregory the Great [AD 540 – 604]
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1797)

But the logic and coherence of a system does not make it true. It is also important to recognize that there are objective, biblical, and historical grounds for finding the Catholic claims credible. (Whereas the biblical and historical case for Protestantism is weak and contradictory.)  Catholics refer to these evidences collectively as The Motives of Credibilty. This evidence is not sufficient to compel the assent of faith. (It wouldn’t be faith, then, it would be knowledge.) But it is sufficient to show that the assent of faith (aided by divine grace) is rational.

We have treated some of this evidence – especially for the divine foundation of the Church and Papacy – before. What follows is a brief roundup of some of those articles.

Christ founded a visible Church and Magisterium

The Papacy in Scripture and History:

The witness of history against key Protestant doctrines

Philosophy and the Papacy

 

27 comments
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  1. David,

    “no coherent way even to identify the contours of Christian doctrine”

    >>>Have you ever read Samuel Rutherford’s Free Disputation or Due Right of Presbyteries? Those books speak to those exact issues in detail.

  2. Hi all,

    This is a great website with some excellent articles.

    I’d like to ask, though, when the CTC team will be addressing these two issues: (1) the IP by which Catholicism is to be demonstrated correct vis-à-vis Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy, and (2) the evidence from the early Church for the dogmas promulgated at Vatican I–universal ordinary jurisdiction and papal infallibility. Until Catholic apologists can offer a compelling case in these areas, the course of my journey toward and within Eastern Orthodoxy will remain unaltered.

    It is so vital that these two matters be addressed because for them to remain outstanding on a Catholic-Calvinist discussion site leaves all Protestants seeking the Church founded by Christ to wander in the dark. “Protestants are maddeningly divided,” they will concede. “But so are the apostolic Churches,” these Protestants will point out: “simply to a far lesser degree.” They will then conclude in bafflement, “So, where do we go from here?”

  3. Trebor135,

    I think the section “The Papacy in Scripture and History” would provide a good base for understanding how we view the papacy and why we think Rome is the guarantor of orthodoxy, even if the articles were not written specifically with Eastern/Oriental Orthodox objections in mind. I would like more interaction with Eastern arguments on this subject, though, especially from an Eastern Catholic point of view. Peace to you on your journey. :)

    IC XC NIKA

    Garrison

  4. I also want to see the Eastern Orthodox perspective on these things.

    A functioning authority paradigm in Christianity must defend the apostolic faith in a way that reflects the living authority of the living Christ, who taught with authority and not like the Pharisees and scribes.

    Such an authority paradigm demonstrates development (coming to new true conclusions on the basis of existing true premises) and adaptation (giving answers to previously unanticipated questions in a fashion that accords with the existing understanding of the apostolic faith and expands that understanding in new ways which, themselves, offer fruitful premises for further, later expansion). All this will happen without reversing or denying any previously-asserted aspect of the apostolic faith.

    The result of this will always be that the believer who practices submission to the correct authority will be able, even without benefit of literacy or a theology degree, to know what Christianity is, what it is obligatory that he must believe (or deny), and what behaviors are glorifying to God (or the converse), especially with regard to God, salvation, the Church, the Christian life, and our eternal destiny.

    What I’ve just described is a set of job requirements for the Christian authority paradigm. They are logically required if one is to hold that Christianity is knowable.

    Now, Protestant notions of authority do not fulfill the requirements; but what about the Eastern Orthodox paradigm(s)?

    It seems to me that the Eastern Orthodox lack a mechanism by which they can respond to new questions in matters of faith and morals. The stored-up wisdom of the apostolic tradition is sufficient to come to relatively safe conclusions for a thousand years or so after their separation from the chair of Peter, but increasingly the ability to develop and respond to fresh inquiry in an authoritative (rather than speculative) way seems absent. Theirs, so far as I can see, is an authority paradigm which cannot provide answers for the questions believers need answered if the Lord tarries for another fifty thousand, or five hundred thousand, years (and reconciliation with Rome does not occur in that time).

    The Catholic paradigm, so far as I can see, can. The papacy may be headquartered in Alpha Centauri by then, but provided the Apostolic Succession is unbroken, there’s no particular reason that should matter. “Rome” will still be able to speak and have the matter be settled, even if by then we’re saying that “Gliese 581 g” has spoken, and the matter is settled.

    That said, the Eastern paradigm has this attraction: It has not made bold, striking, authoritative, controversial dogmatic statements recently enough to seem recent to our perceptions of time.

    This gifts any prospective Orthodox apologist with an easier burden: He may need to defend recent doctrinal assertions, but only ones which have such a long and uniform pedigree in Christianity that they seem very defensible (for no other kind would be made), and they will not have been asserted as a firm, authoritative, “de fide” settling of a disputed matter.

    Meanwhile, any doctrinal assertions which seemed radical and bold at the time they were first asserted were made so long before our era that they feel distant and ancient to us. The boldness of the early church councils’ condemnations or affirmations, which to their hearers seemed to rule out perfectly respectable notions and advance others whose evidentiary basis was not obviously superior, is hard for us to feel.

    We forget, as a consequence, what early Church authority felt like. It’s hard for us to walk a mile in the moccasins of a well-meaning, scholarly Christian who just found out that his favorite Christological formulation was judged heretical. He surely had arguments which seemed dispositive to him. At the very least he felt that the evidence was inconclusive and that his view was supported by that evidence just as well as the view eventually pronounced by the Church. He thus felt justified in thinking that, at worst, the Church could not possibly rule out either view, but must continue to allow both as speculative realms in theology.

    Then, the hammer fell. Our unintended heretic no doubt felt that the Church’s pronouncement was a bolt from the blue: How had they come to the conclusion which ruled him wrong? Did they have evidence he hadn’t considered? No? Then, if they were operating from the same evidence as he, whence came this sudden certainty, sufficient to make bold assertions, sufficient to require either his obedience or his casting out? How could they know? Hadn’t earlier generations speculated along the same lines, or even wilder lines, than he? Wasn’t this a matter which all sides agreed was not explicitly spelled out in Scripture? How could they know? Or did they know, after all? Were they just making stuff up, pretending to know what they could not?

    That is surely what it felt like to fall afoul of a living Church authority. That is probably what it felt like to be a Jewish Christian who assumed that Gentiles must be circumcised first, and then suddenly read the decision from the Jerusalem proto-council in Acts 15, and fall over in shock.

    I relate all this because I suspect living under the Eastern Orthodox authority never feels that way, and never can. And of course the church-shopping practitioner of sola scriptura will not feel that way. But the Catholic can, and does. (I can testify, to my chagrin.)

    So it seems to me that the Eastern Orthodox authority paradigm, for all the glories in that tradition, and for all the faithfulness and holiness which comes from a valid episcopacy and succession and sacraments, doesn’t quite meet the requisite job requirements for the authority paradigm of Jesus’ Church.

    But I want to know the Eastern perspective, and its counter-arguments. I am ignorant of vast swaths of it, and would like to fill in the gaps.

  5. “I think the section ‘The Papacy in Scripture and History’ would provide a good base for understanding how we view the papacy and why we think Rome is the guarantor of orthodoxy, even if the articles were not written specifically with Eastern/Oriental Orthodox objections in mind.”

    Thanks for pointing me to those links. The debate from exegesis over the referent of “this rock” in Matthew 16:18 is a red herring, in my view, because it takes attention away from the real elephant in the room: the Vatican I dogmas. The other five essays, from what I can tell, do nothing to show the purportedly solid foundation in Tradition of universal ordinary jurisdiction and papal infallibility either. In order for the extensive citation of such Fathers as St. Cyprian of Carthage and Vincent of Lerins to demonstrate the Catholic position, it is crucial that Eastern and Oriental Orthodox objections be taken into account. All three communions regard such writings (for the Eastern Orthodox up to the eighth-tenth centuries, for the Oriental Orthodox up to the mid-fifth century) as part of their heritage, and will thus be able to proffer their own well-thought-out interpretations of most or all passages brought forward in defense of the Catholic papacy.

    “I would like more interaction with Eastern arguments on this subject, though, especially from an Eastern Catholic point of view.”

    I would like to see such as well.

    Here are some resources, Latin/Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, that may be of interest:

    1) this debate on “papal primacy” between Joseph Suaiden (an Eastern Orthodox convert from Catholicism) and Jerry Daffer (a Catholic convert from Evangelical Protestantism);

    2) the writings of James Likoudis (a Greek Orthodox convert to Catholicism) and the responses and other work by Joseph Suaiden;

    3) the book “The Primacy of Peter: Essays in Ecclesiology and the Early Church” edited by Fr. John Meyendorff;

    4) the essay “The Vatican Dogma” by Sergius Bulgakov (a generally ecumenically-minded Eastern Orthodox scholar); and

    5) the site of Dr. Anthony Dragani (an Eastern Catholic).

    (If the link to the Bulgakov piece fails to load properly, one may do a Google search for “The Vatican Dogma” and read the Cached version from Google.)

    “Peace to you on your journey. :)”

    Thanks–same to you. :)

  6. “I also want to see the Eastern Orthodox perspective on these things.”

    Indeed. Taking this approach is so important because otherwise we limit ourselves to the false dichotomy of Catholicism versus Protestantism, at the cost of ignoring a perspective just as worthy of consideration found in Eastern Orthodoxy.

    “A functioning authority paradigm in Christianity must defend the apostolic faith in a way that reflects the living authority of the living Christ, who taught with authority and not like the Pharisees and scribes.”

    Why? Jewish public revelation occurred during the times of the prophets, and its contents were passed down by one generation of Jewish parents, teachers, et al after another. Likewise, Christian public revelation occurred during the time of Christ and the apostles, and its contents were passed down by one generation of Christian parents, teachers, et al after another. When prophets and Christ/apostles were not walking the earth, it was evident that God did not intend for public revelation to be received by his people.

    “Such an authority paradigm demonstrates development (coming to new true conclusions on the basis of existing true premises) and adaptation (giving answers to previously unanticipated questions in a fashion that accords with the existing understanding of the apostolic faith and expands that understanding in new ways which, themselves, offer fruitful premises for further, later expansion). All this will happen without reversing or denying any previously-asserted aspect of the apostolic faith.”

    I am genuinely awaiting with anticipation the CTC treatise which seeks to demonstrate conclusively that Newmanian development of doctrine occurred during the first millennium with resulting dogmas that are deemed essential even by Eastern Orthodoxy.

    “The result of this will always be that the believer who practices submission to the correct authority will be able, even without benefit of literacy or a theology degree, to know what Christianity is, what it is obligatory that he must believe (or deny), and what behaviors are glorifying to God (or the converse), especially with regard to God, salvation, the Church, the Christian life, and our eternal destiny.”

    The problem is how to find that authority. Which is why it would be so helpful for the CTC team to address the issue of how the Catholic framework is (ostensibly) superior to the Eastern Orthodox equivalent.

    “What I’ve just described is a set of job requirements for the Christian authority paradigm. They are logically required if one is to hold that Christianity is knowable.”

    For something to be “logically required” does not mean that it is really there.

    “Now, Protestant notions of authority do not fulfill the requirements; but what about the Eastern Orthodox paradigm(s)?”

    Good question.

    “It seems to me that the Eastern Orthodox lack a mechanism by which they can respond to new questions in matters of faith and morals. The stored-up wisdom of the apostolic tradition is sufficient to come to relatively safe conclusions for a thousand years or so after their separation from the chair of Peter, but increasingly the ability to develop and respond to fresh inquiry in an authoritative (rather than speculative) way seems absent. Theirs, so far as I can see, is an authority paradigm which cannot provide answers for the questions believers need answered if the Lord tarries for another fifty thousand, or five hundred thousand, years (and reconciliation with Rome does not occur in that time).”

    What kinds of “new questions” do you see arising which Eastern Orthodoxy may perhaps or will likely not be able to settle “in an authoritative (rather than speculative) way”?

    “The Catholic paradigm, so far as I can see, can. The papacy may be headquartered in Alpha Centauri by then, but provided the Apostolic Succession is unbroken, there’s no particular reason that should matter. ‘Rome’ will still be able to speak and have the matter be settled, even if by then we’re saying that ‘Gliese 581 g’ has spoken, and the matter is settled.”

    I see where you’re coming from.

    “That said, the Eastern paradigm has this attraction: It has not made bold, striking, authoritative, controversial dogmatic statements recently enough to seem recent to our perceptions of time.

    “This gifts any prospective Orthodox apologist with an easier burden: He may need to defend recent doctrinal assertions, but only ones which have such a long and uniform pedigree in Christianity that they seem very defensible (for no other kind would be made), and they will not have been asserted as a firm, authoritative, ‘de fide’ settling of a disputed matter.”

    This has occurred to me as I have been pondering the prospect of becoming an Eastern Orthodox. I have felt relieved that I will not have to defend to interested Protestant friends and acquaintances such controversial doctrines as universal ordinary jurisdiction, papal infallibility, and indulgences.

    “Meanwhile, any doctrinal assertions which seemed radical and bold at the time they were first asserted were made so long before our era that they feel distant and ancient to us. The boldness of the early church councils’ condemnations or affirmations, which to their hearers seemed to rule out perfectly respectable notions and advance others whose evidentiary basis was not obviously superior, is hard for us to feel.

    “We forget, as a consequence, what early Church authority felt like. It’s hard for us to walk a mile in the moccasins of a well-meaning, scholarly Christian who just found out that his favorite Christological formulation was judged heretical. He surely had arguments which seemed dispositive to him. At the very least he felt that the evidence was inconclusive and that his view was supported by that evidence just as well as the view eventually pronounced by the Church. He thus felt justified in thinking that, at worst, the Church could not possibly rule out either view, but must continue to allow both as speculative realms in theology.

    “Then, the hammer fell. Our unintended heretic no doubt felt that the Church’s pronouncement was a bolt from the blue: How had they come to the conclusion which ruled him wrong? Did they have evidence he hadn’t considered? No? Then, if they were operating from the same evidence as he, whence came this sudden certainty, sufficient to make bold assertions, sufficient to require either his obedience or his casting out? How could they know? Hadn’t earlier generations speculated along the same lines, or even wilder lines, than he? Wasn’t this a matter which all sides agreed was not explicitly spelled out in Scripture? How could they know? Or did they know, after all? Were they just making stuff up, pretending to know what they could not?

    “That is surely what it felt like to fall afoul of a living Church authority. That is probably what it felt like to be a Jewish Christian who assumed that Gentiles must be circumcised first, and then suddenly read the decision from the Jerusalem proto-council in Acts 15, and fall over in shock.”

    All of this is very much worth meditating upon. But the papal dogmas promulgated at Vatican I can’t reasonably be placed on the same level of abstract christological notions, for they pertain to the very structure of the Church as lived out in history. The visible community of Christ was able to come out of its suppressed state after the legalization of Christianity in AD 313; if the Church functioned along Eastern Orthodox lines rather than along Catholic lines prior to the Great Schism, the Eastern Orthodox charges against the Catholic papal dogmas as unwarranted innovation seem to have the ring of unassailable truth to them.

    “I relate all this because I suspect living under the Eastern Orthodox authority never feels that way, and never can.”

    It seems that way to me too. :)

    “And of course the church-shopping practitioner of sola scriptura will not feel that way. But the Catholic can, and does. (I can testify, to my chagrin.)”

    Understood.

    “So it seems to me that the Eastern Orthodox authority paradigm, for all the glories in that tradition, and for all the faithfulness and holiness which comes from a valid episcopacy and succession and sacraments, doesn’t quite meet the requisite job requirements for the authority paradigm of Jesus’ Church.”

    You are correct if Newmanian development of doctrine is in fact an integral element of Christ’s Church.

    “But I want to know the Eastern perspective, and its counter-arguments. I am ignorant of vast swaths of it, and would like to fill in the gaps.”

    One hopes that Perry Robinson will be along shortly…

  7. Trebor135,

    What kinds of “new questions” do you see arising which Eastern Orthodoxy may perhaps or will likely not be able to settle “in an authoritative (rather than speculative) way”?

    Then you said:

    I have felt relieved that I will not have to defend to interested Protestant friends and acquaintances such controversial doctrines as universal ordinary jurisdiction, papal infallibility, and indulgences.

    I think you answered your own question. If “papal infallibility” is the “heresy of heresies” (as I’ve seen some EO’s claim), then we should expect a universal council in the East called to address this heresy. Your Eastern Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ would benefit — in theory — from such a conciliar pronouncement.

    I am genuinely awaiting with anticipation the CTC treatise which seeks to demonstrate conclusively that Newmanian development of doctrine occurred during the first millennium with resulting dogmas that are deemed essential even by Eastern Orthodoxy.

    Start with the concept of the Theotokos or the doctrine of theosis as case studies. I think both evidence “Newmanian” development of doctrine.

    Peace in Christ,

    Brent

  8. Trebor,

    All three communions regard such writings (for the Eastern Orthodox up to the eighth-tenth centuries, for the Oriental Orthodox up to the mid-fifth century) as part of their heritage, and will thus be able to proffer their own well-thought-out interpretations of most or all passages brought forward in defense of the Catholic papacy.

    The problem I have with the Eastern Orthodox on this question is that they don’t have a unified idea of what the place of the bishop of Rome was in the first millennium or even what primacy means among them; e.g.: the Eastern Orthodox say the patriarch of Constantinople has primacy (of honor), but have endless disputes as to what that means (between Moscow and Constantinople primarily). I also have problems with the Eastern Orthodox because I deny Constantinople second place among the patriarchs, but that’s a minor issue. ;)

    From Afanassieff: “As we study the problem of primacy in general, and especially the primacy of Rome, we must not be ruled by polemical motives: the problem is to be solved to satisfy ourselves and Orthodox theology. The solution of the problem is urgent, since Orthodox theology has not yet built up any systematic doctrine on Church government. And although we have a doctrine concerning Ecumenical Councils as organs of government in the Church, we shall see presently that our doctrine is not enough to refute the Catholic doctrine of primacy.” (p. 92 of The Primacy of Peter)

    I am genuinely awaiting with anticipation the CTC treatise which seeks to demonstrate conclusively that Newmanian development of doctrine occurred during the first millennium with resulting dogmas that are deemed essential even by Eastern Orthodoxy.

    The definition of the Trinity is a good start, as are the various Christological definitions (against Nestorianism, monophysitism, monothelitism, and iconoclasm).

    All of this is very much worth meditating upon. But the papal dogmas promulgated at Vatican I can’t reasonably be placed on the same level of abstract christological notions, for they pertain to the very structure of the Church as lived out in history. The visible community of Christ was able to come out of its suppressed state after the legalization of Christianity in AD 313; if the Church functioned along Eastern Orthodox lines rather than along Catholic lines prior to the Great Schism, the Eastern Orthodox charges against the Catholic papal dogmas as unwarranted innovation seem to have the ring of unassailable truth to them.

    It doesn’t have to be placed on the same level, but papal infallibility must still be held by Catholic faithful. I would consider the structure of the Church to be a most important doctrine, however. Care must be taken in explaining and defending this doctrine in that it cannot say anything nor endorse anything the Church of the first millennium would not recognize. It also cannot be read in such a way as to contradict previous ecumenical councils. For instance, after Vatican I, Melkite Patriarch Gregory II signed the decree on papal infallibility with the following qualification from the Council of Florence: “except the rights and privileges of Eastern patriarchs”. The statement from the 1995 meeting of the Synod of the Melkite Catholic Church also affirms this:

    I believe everything which Eastern Orthodoxy teaches. I am in communion with the Bishop of Rome as the first among the bishops, according to the limits recognized by the Holy Fathers of the East during the first millennium, before the separation.

    John Paul II also extended an invitation to the East and the Protestants to discuss with him what the papacy could look like in the third millennium. Obviously, we can’t deny the dogmas formulated at the other ecumenical councils after the Schism, but we can work on understanding them in the context of a reunited Church. For me, simply because authority can and has been abused (mandatory priestly celibacy outside historic Eastern Catholic homelands >.< among other instances), it doesn't mean that authority doesn't exist.

    I'm Eastern Catholic (Byzantine), by the way, so it is of paramount importance to me to have proper articulation of this doctrine that avoids extreme positivism I've found in some Roman Catholic defenses of the papacy and the view that Rome has only a primacy of honor or is only a court of appeals I find among some Eastern Orthodox. This is why I want more Eastern Catholic scholarship and explication on it.

    IC XC NIKA

    Garrison

  9. I should clarify that Patriarch Gregory II added the phrase “except the rights and privileges of the Eastern patriarchs” when he signed the decree as it was not in the original document.

  10. Trebor135, I too am interested in seeing the folks here address the issues you brought up in comment #2. (This can also serve as a response to Garrison’s comment in #8).

    You may be aware that Archbishop Roland Minerath, who was a contributor to the Vatican’s 1989 Historical and Theological Symposium, which was directed by the Vatican’s Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, at the request of the then Cardinal Ratzinger’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on the theme: “The Primacy of the Bishop of Rome in the First Millennium: Research and Evidence,” has made the admission that the Eastern Orthodox churches “never shared the Petrine theology as elaborated in the West.”

    This was not merely “the manner in which the primacy is exercised”. Minnerath clearly is talking about the developments of Roman theological and doctrinal proposals. Here is how he puts it:

    “The Eastern church has never taken into account the developments about the Roman bishop as vicar, successor or heir of the Apostle Peter” [which he had just outlined in detail]. …

    In the first millennium there was no question of the Roman bishops governing the church in distant solitude. They used to take their decisions together with their synod, held once or twice a year. When matters of universal concern arose, they resorted to the ecumenical council. Even [Pope] Leo [I], who struggled for the apostolic principle over the political one, acknowledged that only the emperor would have the power to convoke an ecumenical council and protect the church.

    At the heart of the estrangement that progressively arose between East and West, there may be a historical misunderstanding. The East never shared the Petrine theology as elaborated in the West. It never accepted that the protos in the universal church could claim to be the unique successor or vicar of Peter. So the East assumed that the synodal constitution of the church would be jeopardized by the very existence of a Petrine office with potentially universal competencies in the government of the church (in How Can the Petrine Ministry Be a Service to the Unity of the Universal Church? James F. Puglisi, Editor, Grand Rapids, MI and Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, ©2010, pgs. 34-48).

    Not all of the pages of the Minnerath essay are available either through Google Books or through Amazon’s “Search Inside” feature; but I’ve scanned the pages not available at the Google Books link, and made them available here, so that the interested reader can read the entire essay.

    The reason I bring this up is because some of the folks here are reluctant to admit that they have “the burden of proof” to explain precisely why they don’t have to make an actual argument for the papacy. That was one of the reasons why this Green Baggins comments thread is so long. The thread here, with all the articles, is their attempt to fulfill their “burden of proof” requirement with respect to the Eastern churches, who cannot be said to have “separated themselves from” “the Church that Christ founded”.

    However, if anyone within the Roman Catholic hierarchy is in a position to say with authority that “The Eastern church has never taken into account the developments about the Roman bishop as vicar, successor or heir of the Apostle Peter”, it is Archbishop Roland Minnerath.

    Thus, given the philosophical backgrounds that these individuals have, they ought to recognize that Archbishop Minnerath is not “begging the question” in any way, and that some burden of proof now lies squarely within their court. And as you say, Vatican I will be a difficult set of pronouncements for them to have to deal with.

  11. John,

    First, I have no interest in interacting with Green Baggins if they insist on using the term “Romanism”. There are other perfectly acceptable terms to use.

    Second, I agree with Abp. Minnerath, but I don’t agree with the conclusion that you draw from his observations: that there is no special office in Rome, which is a conclusion the East didn’t draw, either. The definition at Vatican I does pose a challenge, but not an insurmountable one, I think, especially in light of the clarifications on collegiality at Vatican II.

    IC XC NIKA

    Garrison

  12. John Bugay.

    # 10.

    If you are looking for a thorough treatment of Arch-Bishop Minnerath’s essay or more accurately your representation of his essay then stay tuned.

  13. Brent (re: post #7)–

    I think you answered your own question.

    I get what you’re saying.

    But what kinds of “new questions” do you see being answered by, e.g., the doctrine of papal infallibility?

    If “papal infallibility” is the “heresy of heresies” (as I’ve seen some EO’s claim), then we should expect a universal council in the East called to address this heresy. Your Eastern Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ would benefit — in theory — from such a conciliar pronouncement.

    That’s a fair point. Although, Donatism, Gnosticism, Marcionism, and Montanism haven’t been condemned by any of the seven ecumenical councils (in AD 144 Marcionism was resisted with a local council in Rome, I believe–what about the other three errors?). Yet the Eastern Orthodox Church condemns all of them as heresies just as much as the Catholic Church does. Grave errors don’t need to be anathematized by a group of bishops for the Christian world to be able to recognize them as false.

    Start with the concept of the Theotokos or the doctrine of theosis as case studies. I think both evidence “Newmanian” development of doctrine.

    What do you regard, on the one hand, as the developing “sapling” and, on the other, the developed “tree” for these two notions?

  14. Garrison (re: post #8)–

    The problem I have with the Eastern Orthodox on this question is that they don’t have a unified idea of what the place of the bishop of Rome was in the first millennium or even what primacy means among them; e.g.: the Eastern Orthodox say the patriarch of Constantinople has primacy (of honor), but have endless disputes as to what that means (between Moscow and Constantinople primarily).

    This seems like a formidable problem. But I can make two points:

    1) Maybe the early Church itself “[didn’t] have a unified idea of what the place of the bishop of Rome was… or even what primacy [meant]”.

    2) Even if the present-day Eastern Orthodox conception of ecclesiology were completely and thoroughly wrongheaded and innovative, using this as an argument against Constantinople but in favour of Rome would involve the tu quoque fallacy. It would not prove that the Vatican I dogmas are logically consistent and historically well-supported.

    I also have problems with the Eastern Orthodox because I deny Constantinople second place among the patriarchs, but that’s a minor issue. ;)

    That one’s probably best left for another combox discussion. :) But didn’t the Catholic Church accept Canon 28 of Chalcedon after the Great Schism?

    From Afanassieff: “As we study the problem of primacy in general, and especially the primacy of Rome, we must not be ruled by polemical motives: the problem is to be solved to satisfy ourselves and Orthodox theology. The solution of the problem is urgent, since Orthodox theology has not yet built up any systematic doctrine on Church government. And although we have a doctrine concerning Ecumenical Councils as organs of government in the Church, we shall see presently that our doctrine is not enough to refute the Catholic doctrine of primacy.” (p. 92 of The Primacy of Peter)

    I appreciate his nuanced and charitable tone; Afanassieff may be right here. But this point can’t be deployed for the Catholic stance as ammunition in defense of the universal ordinary jurisdiction and doctrinal infallibility of the pope as dogmatically defined in 1870. In comparison to the other apostolic Churches, these teachings are peculiar, indeed unique, to the Catholic Church.

    The definition of the Trinity is a good start, as are the various Christological definitions (against Nestorianism, monophysitism, monothelitism, and iconoclasm).

    There may be some good points here. But what were the “saplings” for what would grow into the “trees” of the universal ordinary jurisdiction and doctrinal infallibility of the pope?

    It doesn’t have to be placed on the same level,

    But the papal dogmas are a vital part of the visible community of Christians to which the CTC team is calling us, so fundamental because they pertain to how that society operates in practice. By contrast, Christians don’t really need to know a whole lot in terms of abstract and technical theologizing about the trinity and Christ’s divinity, unless others are spreading strange heresies which–like Arianism, Nestorianism, and Eutychianism–undermine these doctrines.

    but papal infallibility must still be held by Catholic faithful.

    Indeed. But this fact itself doesn’t persuade those of us who deny the Vatican I dogmas to accept them. :)

    I would consider the structure of the Church to be a most important doctrine, however. Care must be taken in explaining and defending this doctrine in that it cannot say anything nor endorse anything the Church of the first millennium would not recognize. It also cannot be read in such a way as to contradict previous ecumenical councils.

    All true. So it is now the task of Catholic apologists to explain how the universal ordinary jurisdiction and doctrinal infallibility of the pope are supposed to fit in with the belief and practice of the early Church. When were infallible proclamations on faith and morals handed down in the first millennium, and where can we read the text of the papal proclamations?

    For instance, after Vatican I, Melkite Patriarch Gregory II signed the decree on papal infallibility with the following qualification from the Council of Florence: “except the rights and privileges of Eastern patriarchs”. The statement from the 1995 meeting of the Synod of the Melkite Catholic Church also affirms this:

    I believe everything which Eastern Orthodoxy teaches. I am in communion with the Bishop of Rome as the first among the bishops, according to the limits recognized by the Holy Fathers of the East during the first millennium, before the separation.

    What does this really mean, in practical terms? Adherents of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church are obliged to believe in the Vatican I dogmas by virtue of being in communion with the bishop of Rome. What “rights and priveleges” invoked by Gregory II would possibly allow them to argue with or dissent on these doctrines?

    John Paul II also extended an invitation to the East and the Protestants to discuss with him what the papacy could look like in the third millennium.

    That seems like a non-starter. The fundamental problem is not how the papacy functions today, but the Vatican I dogmas of 1870. If only John Paul II had been the reigning pope in 1870–the Catholic Church might not have gotten itself into the current dead end.

    Obviously, we can’t deny the dogmas formulated at the other ecumenical councils after the Schism, but we can work on understanding them in the context of a reunited Church.

    But what this boils down to is that the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches would be obliged to accept those post-Schism Catholic teachings as necessary for salvation although the two communions deem them to merit the label of either theologoumenon or heresy but certainly not dogma. This looks like a winner-takes-all scenario.

    For me, simply because authority can and has been abused (mandatory priestly celibacy outside historic Eastern Catholic homelands >.< among other instances), it doesn't mean that authority doesn't exist.

    Correct. But the question remains as to whether the Vatican I dogmas have any solid foundation in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition for being considered necessary for salvation at all.

    I’m Eastern Catholic (Byzantine), by the way,

    Nifty. Having been to Ukrainian Greek Catholic and American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox services, I can say that Slavic Byzantine worship is spectacular.

    so it is of paramount importance to me to have proper articulation of this doctrine

    Indeed.

    that avoids extreme positivism I’ve found in some Roman Catholic defenses of the papacy

    Please explain. :)

    and the view that Rome has only a primacy of honor or is only a court of appeals I find among some Eastern Orthodox.

    Well, the latter may be the most historically viable understanding of the papacy in the early Church. Catholic apologist Mark Bonocore has written a fair amount on the subject and seems to base his defense of the Vatican I dogmas from the early Church on the bishopric of Rome’s status as a final court of appeal.

    This is why I want more Eastern Catholic scholarship and explication on it.

    Given that Eastern Catholics have made the U.S. their home for generations now, it’s surprising how little output has come from that quarter of American Catholicism defending the Vatican I dogmas against Eastern Orthodox objections. No Ukrainian or Ruthenian Greek Catholic clerics or intellectuals seem to have done much scholarly or polemical work to bring back their brethren who followed Alexis Toth into the Russian Orthodox Church.

  15. Sean, whatever the factual content of Minnerath’s article is, it is also a prompt for you guys to put forth the positive statement of the Scriptural and historical “development” of the early papacy. The “Orthodox” did not “leave” the way that you say the Protestants did, and thus, you can’t claim that their reasons for not accepting the papacy are “question-begging” and thus avoid the whole discussion.

  16. John.

    You are invited to look at the archive. You’ll find several dozen entries related to the early church and the papacy. Have it at.

    Other than that, you’ll have to be patient. Several of us are putting together a good summary of the Papacy and the Eastern Orthodox.

  17. Sean Patrick (re: post #16)–will the “good summary of the Papacy and the Eastern Orthodox” currently being prepared in fact take into account Eastern Orthodox theological and historical objections to the Vatican I dogmas? Sergius Bulgakov makes many important–I would say devastating–arguments in his above-linked essay “The Vatican Dogma” (the Introduction and Part I can safely be skipped, but parts II-IV and the postscript are crucial). I would be intrigued to see this particular work taken on by the CTC team…

  18. Trebor135,

    Thank you for your comment and irenic tone. You are a true gentlemen (or gentle-woman), and a breath of fresh air in the online world of combox machismo.

    Although, Donatism, Gnosticism, Marcionism, and Montanism haven’t been condemned by any of the seven ecumenical councils

    The problem with comparing those with the “papacy” is three-fold. First, for some of those heresies the Scriptures are plain (St. John, for example takes down gnosticism). Second, those heresies were very localized. Donatism may have just been a schismatic issue more than anything (which of course eventually led to doctrinal errors). Look at this same time period and consider Arianism. If “papalism” is a problem, then it is a problem at the level of Arianism (see world youth day) : ). We both know how Arianism was dealt with. Thirdly, the “Christian world” hardly recognizes the “papacy” as false. The Catholics who hold to the papacy are hardly a fringe group.

    Grave errors don’t need to be anathematized by a group of bishops for the Christian world to be able to recognize them as false.

    If “paplism” is as grave and universal as it would appear to be, then they should. When was the last “anathematization” by a group of Eastern (of some kind) bishops?

    Grave errors don’t need to be anathematized by a group of bishops for the Christian world to be able to recognize them as false.

    I think Sacred Scripture — for both — would represent the “sapling” (see The Doctrinal Seed of Scripture). If you don’t mind, what is your main contention with Newman’s concept of development?

    I also recommend Bryan’s article “The Commonitory of St. Vincent of Lérins”, particularly, the section on Development of Doctrine. Also see this post by Dr. Liccione, the comments, and the preceding posts in that series.

    JMJ,

    Brent

  19. One of the more significant exegetical monographs that we have on the topic of the importance of Peter is Peter in the New Testament is the work edited by Raymond Brown, Karl Donfried, and John Reumann. This work describes its mission and function:

    A National Dialogue between Lutheran and Roman Catholic theologians began in July 1965 under the sponsorship of the U.S.A. National Committee of the Lutheran World Federation and the Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops…. In their 1971 meetings [these groups] began to discuss one of the thorniest problems arising from the Reformation: the problem of ministry in the universal church, with special emphasis on papal primacy…. In order that the work of the National Dialogue not become impossibly long, it was decided that smaller task forces of specialists be appointed to work on two particularly sensitive historical periods, namely the New Testament and the Patristic periods (pgs 1-2).

    So two works have been produced by this commission. I’ve had the first for some time now, and have referred to it on occasion. The second, Papal Primacy and the Universal Church, just arrived in my mailbox. It has taken me a while to locate it, because it was not referred to directly in the first work. The footnote in the first work refers to the second only in terms of function (I suppose the essays had not been collected at that point:

    The Patristics task force, co-chaired by the Rev. Dr. A.C. Piepkorn of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, and by Professor J. McCue [a Roman Catholic] of the School of Religion at the State University of Iowa (Iowa City), will make a separate report on the evidence pertaining to the first five centuries (fn 4, pg 2).

    From the Roman Catholic side, T.Austin Murphy, Bishop’s Committee for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Affairs served as a co-editor. Murphy was an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore at the time.

    I’m working through McCue’s essay, “The Beginnings Through Nicaea”, and I hope to talk about this a bit more, but for now, I’ve found the following, which I find quite interesting:

    When Origen is commenting directly on Matthew 16:18f. he carefully puts aside any interpretation of the passage that would make of Peter anything other than what every Christian is to be.

    … And if we too have said like Peter, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”, not as if flesh and blood had revealed it to us, but because light from the Father in heaven had shone in our hearts, we become a Peter, and to us also he who was the Word might say, “Thou Art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church”. For every imitator of Christ is a rock, of Christ, that is, who is the spiritual rock that followed them that drank of him. And upon every such rock is built every word of the Church, and the whole order of life based thereon; for whosoever is perfect, having the sum of words and deeds and thoughts which fill up the state of blessedness, in him is the Church that God is building.

    But if you suppose that God builds the entire Church upon Peter and on him alone, what would you say about John, the son of thunder, or any particular apostle? In other words, are we so bold as to say that it is against Peter in particular that the gates of Hades shall not prevail, but that they shall prevail against the other apostles and the perfect? Does not the above saying “The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” hold in regard to all, and in the case of each of them? And likewise with regard to the words “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? For in the passage before us, the words “Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” and what follows do appear to be addressed to Peter individually; but in the Gospel of John, the Saviour, having given the Holy Spirit to the disciples by breathing on them, says “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” and what follows. For all the imitators of Christ are surnamed “rocks” from him, the spiritual rock which follows those who are being saved; … but from the very fact that they are members of Christ, they are called Christians by a name derived from him. And those called after the rock are called Peter. (In Matt. 12:10-11; ANF translation, extensively revised by E. Giles, Documents Illustrating Papal Authority 1952, pp. 45-46).

    This is the earliest extant detailed commentary on Matthew 16:18f. and interestingly sees the event describe as a lesson about the life to be lived by every Christian, and not information about office or hierarchy or authority in the church.

    The Brown, Donfried, and Reumann work concludes by saying, “it has become clear to us that an investigation of the historical career does not necessarily settle the question of Peter’s importance for the subsequent church” (168).

    Origen is the first commentator from the Eastern church (Alexandria) on the importance of Peter. According to this passage, Peter’s importance as an apostle is not denied, but it is very much put on par with that of the smallest of believers.

    There is no acknowledgement here of any “primacy”. This speaks also to the issue that Christ founded a visible church and specifically, what this “visible church” is – very much reminiscent of Calvin and the WCF, “The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.”

    Here Origen’s understanding deals with the ontological aspects of what is visible, and that is, “every imitator of Christ is a rock”, a reflection of Peter’s own statement, “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house”.

    Both of these together support the notion that there was nothing special about the “ontologicalness” of being Peter. In terms of being “first”, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, Peter had the privilege of being the first one to preach the Gospel, “first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles” (Acts 10), but in the context of historical “tradition”, Origen contradicts the notion that the early third-century church in the East thought that there was anything particularly special about him, or where he happened to be located.

  20. Trebor (#14),

    This seems like a formidable problem. But I can make two points:

    1) Maybe the early Church itself “[didn’t] have a unified idea of what the place of the bishop of Rome was… or even what primacy [meant]“.

    2) Even if the present-day Eastern Orthodox conception of ecclesiology were completely and thoroughly wrongheaded and innovative, using this as an argument against Constantinople but in favour of Rome would involve the tu quoque fallacy. It would not prove that the Vatican I dogmas are logically consistent and historically well-supported.

    I would grant that there wasn’t a fully developed idea of the full extent of papal primacy in the early Church, but the Fathers do attest to the unique status of the Apostolic See, and we do see the Roman Church involving herself in issues outside her territory. This was regarded with varying degrees of acceptance and rejection. Even before Rome backed down (the Quartodecimian Controversy), St. Irenaeus did not say Pope St. Victor I did not have the right to interfere, but that it was wiser to continue the tolerant policy of his predecessor. I never said anything about the Eastern Orthodox ecclesiology being innovative as I don’t think theirs is. Some may hold innovative ecclesiologies such as denying a place for the bishop of Rome at all, but that is not the only view.

    Rome did accept Canon 28 after the Schism, but I certainly don’t feel that acceptance of it is necessary. ;) The fact of her extremely late acceptance of it and that it’s not a matter of faith or morals permits a greater discussion of the patriarchs, I think.

    I appreciate his nuanced and charitable tone; Afanassieff may be right here. But this point can’t be deployed for the Catholic stance as ammunition in defense of the universal ordinary jurisdiction and doctrinal infallibility of the pope as dogmatically defined in 1870. In comparison to the other apostolic Churches, these teachings are peculiar, indeed unique, to the Catholic Church.

    As do I. I wasn’t using it to defend universal ordinary jurisdiction (UOJ) or infallibility, but to illustrate the lack of coherence from the EO on this point.

    Matt. 16:18, John 21:15-17, Luke 22:31-32, First Clement, the Quartodecimian Controversy, the Council of Chalcedon, etc. Here is where you can find the Catena Aurea of Aquinas, the compilation of Patristic quotations commenting on the Gospels: http://www.josephkenny.joyeurs.com/CDtexts/index2.htm

    When were infallible proclamations on faith and morals handed down in the first millennium, and where can we read the text of the papal proclamations?

    The Tome of St. Leo and the Letter of St. Agatho to the Third Council of Constantinople are two.

    What does this really mean, in practical terms? Adherents of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church are obliged to believe in the Vatican I dogmas by virtue of being in communion with the bishop of Rome. What “rights and priveleges” invoked by Gregory II would possibly allow them to argue with or dissent on these doctrines?

    It means that the Byzantine tradition (and all orthodox Eastern traditions) is to be maintained without interference from the West and that the West cannot dogmatically define against the their spiritual heritage, and that they will defend their right to that heritage. For instance, the ban on married priests outside traditional Eastern Catholic lands is often ignored by the Melkites and other Eastern Churches and for good reason. Of course, no Catholic (Eastern or Western) can argue with dogma; we can argue about the intricacies of the definition (Do Easterners have to explicitly endorse Purgatory? no. Can they deny it? Also, no. Can they speak of it in terms part of their spiritual heritage instead of those of the West? Yes.), but we can’t deny any of them.

    That seems like a non-starter. The fundamental problem is not how the papacy functions today, but the Vatican I dogmas of 1870. If only John Paul II had been the reigning pope in 1870–the Catholic Church might not have gotten itself into the current dead end.

    It’s an annoying fact and an ecumenical problem, but I don’t see that it is insurmountable or a dead end. One possible solution is for the pope to make more of a distinction between his role as bishop of Rome and custodian of the Universal Church.

    As for positivism in Roman circles concerning the papacy: the need or desire for the pope to define every little doctrine or we don’t know what’s going on. See the debate concerning the Assumption: did Mary die? Yes, she did. The Fathers attest that she did, the liturgy attests that she did, and Pius XII alludes to her death multiple times in Munificentissimus Deus. No, it was not dogmatically defined that she died, but that doesn’t mean she (possibly) didn’t.

    Well, the latter may be the most historically viable understanding of the papacy in the early Church. Catholic apologist Mark Bonocore has written a fair amount on the subject and seems to base his defense of the Vatican I dogmas from the early Church on the bishopric of Rome’s status as a final court of appeal.

    Oh, I have no problem with that; I just have a problem with the idea that the pope is *only* a final court of appeals on the level of the Universal Church.

    Given that Eastern Catholics have made the U.S. their home for generations now, it’s surprising how little output has come from that quarter of American Catholicism defending the Vatican I dogmas against Eastern Orthodox objections. No Ukrainian or Ruthenian Greek Catholic clerics or intellectuals seem to have done much scholarly or polemical work to bring back their brethren who followed Alexis Toth into the Russian Orthodox Church.

    Those schisms had nothing to do with the Vatican I definitions, but had everything to do with Latinization and the denigration of the legitimate practice of ordaining married men to the priesthood. I know the Ruthenians, at least, are still traumatized by that. Given the lower status of Eastern Catholics outside their homelands, they don’t really have much input here.

    IC XC NIKA

    Garrison

  21. John Bugay (posts #10/19)–thanks for referring us to those books and links. I’m not able to access scanned images of print pages with my screenreading program, and as a university student can’t justify the expense of purchasing the hard copies from Amazon. :) So, I won’t be able to comment on the contents of the Puglisi and other works until the CTC team posts an article dedicated to, e.g., the issues raised in the Minerath essay and a good discussion can be started with non-Catholic readers there. I agree with you that the ball is in the CTC’s court where defending the papacy of Vatican I to Orthodox and not just Protestants is concerned. Additionally, your citation and analysis of the Origen passage is well taken. If charisms exclusive to the bishop of Rome were really instituted by our Lord and regarded by the early Christians as being conferred each time a new “vicar of Christ” came into office, at least one Early Church Father–say, St. Ignatius of Antioch–should have had occasion to mention them sometime, somewhere.

  22. Brent (re: post #18)–

    Thank you for your comment and irenic tone. You are a true gentlemen (or gentle-woman), and a breath of fresh air in the online world of combox machismo.

    Well, thank you for the kind words. :) Apologetics is so much more preferable to polemics; the goal must be to seek the truth, not win a debate. (By the way, this is a “gentleman” here–Trebor is my forename in reverse.)

    The problem with comparing those with the “papacy” is three-fold. First, for some of those heresies the Scriptures are plain (St. John, for example takes down gnosticism). Second, those heresies were very localized. Donatism may have just been a schismatic issue more than anything (which of course eventually led to doctrinal errors). Look at this same time period and consider Arianism. If “papalism” is a problem, then it is a problem at the level of Arianism (see world youth day) : ). We both know how Arianism was dealt with. Thirdly, the “Christian world” hardly recognizes the “papacy” as false. The Catholics who hold to the papacy are hardly a fringe group.

    These are all excellent points. How widespread was Marcionism, though?

    If “paplism” is as grave and universal as it would appear to be, then they should. When was the last “anathematization” by a group of Eastern (of some kind) bishops?

    The “Timeline of Church History” at OrthodoxWiki mentions a small number of such councils in the second millennium, the last two being in 1672 (“Synod of Jerusalem convened by Patr. Dositheos Notaras, refuting article by article the Calvinistic confession of Cyril Lucaris, defining Orthodoxy relative to Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, and defining the Orthodox Biblical canon; acts of this council are later signed by all five patriarchates (including Russia)”) and 1872 (“Council in Jerusalem declares phyletism to be heresy”).

    I think Sacred Scripture — for both — would represent the “sapling”

    I was under the impression, however, that the development of doctrine advocated in Catholic apologetics referred to the Church growing in understanding its teachings in the course of time. If we go by this definition, the question arises: what distinguished the doctrines of the Theotokos and theosis as believed in the third and fourth centuries in comparison to the fifth and sixth?

    If you don’t mind, what is your main contention with Newman’s concept of development?

    My fundamental problem with the notion is that it makes controversial Catholic doctrines historically unfalsifiable: the deployment of Newmanian doctrinal development signals that the time has come “when Tradition doesn’t matter anymore“. If the papacy did not function in the first millennium in a manner at all resembling the papacy in the second millennium, the skeptic need not fear. A clever solution to the problem is waiting in the wings, for what might seem an evident novelty is in fact the product of doctrinal development. Following Perry Robinson, “I simply will not grant [the Catholic apologist] his run to a priori, apersonal and ahistorical principles to decide the issue“.

    I also recommend Bryan’s article “The Commonitory of St. Vincent of Lérins”, particularly, the section on Development of Doctrine.

    I’ll read this section again and the combox discussion about it. For a Catholic apologist to appeal to St. Vincent of Lerins in support of Newmanian development of doctrine in the course of defending the historical basis for the papacy is profoundly ironic, however. The Commonitory, as far as I can tell, is deafeningly silent on the ostensibly critical role of the bishopric of Rome to the preservation of the true faith. If the work had been written by a Catholic scholar in 1934–fifteen hundred years later–with no reference to papal infallibility, surely this would have raised the eyebrows of all observers concerning his fitness to compose such a treatise? After all, the Catholic faithful are bound on pain of anathema to believe in the divinely-instituted role of the pope as supreme teacher of the Church.

    Also see this post by Dr. Liccione, the comments, and the preceding posts in that series.

    Thanks. I’ve ploughed through that dense blog post, and will now have to peruse the combox discussion in full.

    God bless,
    Trebor

  23. Part 1

    Garrison (re: post #20)–

    I would grant that there wasn’t a fully developed idea of the full extent of papal primacy in the early Church, but the Fathers do attest to the unique status of the Apostolic See,

    As the sole patriarchate in the West, in the city where Sts. Peter and Paul were martyred, such recognition would make sense.

    and we do see the Roman Church involving herself in issues outside her territory.

    Such intervention can be interpreted in different ways, however: either the see of Rome was exercising its preexisting, legitimate authority, or it was seeking to obtain novel, illegitimate authority. For Catholic apologetics on the papacy to be successful, some way must be found for the latter notion to be refuted thoroughly.

    This was regarded with varying degrees of acceptance and rejection.

    If (John Bugay’s interpretation of) Archbishop Minnerath is correct, the East always denied what the West often claimed.

    Even before Rome backed down (the Quartodecimian Controversy), St. Irenaeus did not say Pope St. Victor I did not have the right to interfere, but that it was wiser to continue the tolerant policy of his predecessor.

    A quick Google search indicates that this writer has been brought up, somewhat surprisingly, in just one discussion thread (see post #30 here). French Eastern Orthodox convert Abbé Guettée penned a lengthy work entitled “The Papacy” in which he provides an alternative analysis of the Easter controversy in relation to the doctrine of papal supremacy (see chapter three: “Of the Authority of the Bishops of Rome in the First Three Centuries“).

    I never said anything about the Eastern Orthodox ecclesiology being innovative

    I hadn’t taken you to have done so. :) When in post #14 I stated, “Even if the present-day Eastern Orthodox conception of ecclesiology were completely and thoroughly wrongheaded and innovative, using this as an argument against Constantinople but in favour of Rome would involve the tu quoque fallacy,” I was actually referring by “this” to what you had described in post #8 as “[t]he problem [you] have with the Eastern Orthodox on this question”–i.e., “that they don’t have a unified idea of what the place of the bishop of Rome was in the first millennium or even what primacy means among them”.

    as I don’t think theirs is.

    But are not you here conceding the argument to the camp in Eastern Orthodoxy which grants some degree of authority to the bishop of Rome (though not the same as defined at Vatican I, for otherwise its adherents would be converting)? If the early Church’s ecclesiology were truly more Catholic than any species of Eastern Orthodox, honest observers would be obliged to describe the latter as “innovative”, wouldn’t they?

    Some may hold innovative ecclesiologies such as denying a place for the bishop of Rome at all, but that is not the only view.

    Right.

    Rome did accept Canon 28 after the Schism, but I certainly don’t feel that acceptance of it is necessary. ;) The fact of her extremely late acceptance of it and that it’s not a matter of faith or morals permits a greater discussion of the patriarchs, I think.

    Sure.

    As do I. I wasn’t using it to defend universal ordinary jurisdiction (UOJ) or infallibility, but to illustrate the lack of coherence from the EO on this point.

    Understood. :)

    Continued in next post.

  24. Part 2

    Garrison (re: post #20)–

    Matt. 16:18, John 21:15-17, Luke 22:31-32, First Clement, the Quartodecimian Controversy, the Council of Chalcedon, etc. Here is where you can find the Catena Aurea of Aquinas, the compilation of Patristic quotations commenting on the Gospels: http://www.josephkenny.joyeurs.com/CDtexts/index2.htm

    By your exegesis, how do the three biblical citations support the Vatican I papacy? (Let’s set the Epistle of St. Clement and the Council of Chalcedon aside for now–they’re probably best left for other combox discussions entirely.)

    I browsed the excerpts from the Fathers gathered by St. Thomas Aquinas on Matthew 16:13-19 (Lectio 3), Luke 22:31-34 (Lectio 9), and John 21:15-17 (Lectio 3). When they focus on the role of St. Peter the Apostle rather than making some other point, the Fathers seem, very rarely indeed, to apply any passage to the bishop of Rome. Examples illustrating this fact are given below.

    – Patristic interpretations of Matthew 16:13-19 (from the Catena Aurea of St. Thomas Aquinas):

    Jerome: This return Christ makes to the Apostle for the testimony which Peter had spoken concerning Him, “Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.” The Lord said unto him, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jonas?” Why? Because flesh and blood has not revealed this unto thee, but My Father. That which flesh and blood could not reveal, was revealed by the grace of the Holy Spirit. By his confession then he obtains a title, which should signify that [p. 583] he had received a revelation from the Holy Spirit, whose son he shall also be called; for Barjonas in our tongue signifies The son of a dove. Others take it in the simple sense, that Peter is the son of John [ed. note: In John 21, the Vulgate has ‘Johannis,’ but in John 1, 43, ‘Jona.’], according to that question in another place, “Simon, son of John, lovest thou me?” [John 21:15] affirming that it is an error of the copyists in writing here Barjonas for Barjoannas, dropping one syllable. Now Joanna is interpreted ‘The grace of God.’ But either name has its mystical interpretation; the dove signifies the Holy Spirit; and the grace of God signifies the spiritual gift.

    Hilary: Otherwise; He is blessed, because to have looked and to have seen beyond human sight is matter of praise, not beholding that which is of flesh and blood, but seeing the Son of God by the revelation of the heavenly Father; and he was held worthy to be the first to acknowledge the divinity which was in Christ.

    Raban.: For as with a zeal beyond the others he had confessed the King of heaven, he is deservedly entrusted more than the others with the keys of the heavenly kingdom, that it might be clear to all, that without that confession and faith none ought to enter the kingdom of heaven. By the keys of the kingdom He means discernment [margin note: discretio] and power; power, by which he binds and looses; discernment, by which he separates the worthy from the unworthy.

    Chrys.: See how Christ leads Peter to a high understanding concerning himself. [p. 587] These things that He here promises to give him, belong to God alone, namely to forgive sins, and to make the Church immoveable amidst the storms of so many persecutions and trials.

    Raban.: But this power of binding and loosing, though it seems given by the Lord to Peter alone, is indeed given also to the other Apostles, [margin note: see Matt 18:18] and is even now in the Bishops and Presbyters in every Church. But Peter received in a special manner the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and a supremacy of judicial power, that all the faithful throughout the world might understand that all who in any manner separate themselves from the unity of the faith, or from communion with him, such should neither be able to be loosed from the bonds of sin, nor to enter the gate of the heavenly kingdom.

    It is commonly (in my experience) argued in Catholic apologetics that the pope, as the successor to St. Peter, has his charisms by virtue of the promises made by Christ to the apostle regarding the keys of the kingdom and the power of binding and loosing. This Catholic Encyclopedia article shows this argumentation to be obtrusively unpatristic, however:

    (1) In the Fathers the references to the promise of Matthew 16:19, are of frequent occurrence. Almost invariably the words of Christ are cited in proof of the Church’s power to forgive sins. The application is a natural one, for the promise of the keys is immediately followed by the words: “Whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth”, etc. Moreover, the power to confer or to withhold forgiveness might well be viewed as the opening and shutting of the gates of heaven. This interpretation, however, restricts the sense somewhat too narrowly; for the remission of sins is but one of the various ways in which ecclesiastical authority is exercised. We have examples of this use of the term is such passages as August., “De Doctrina Christi”, xvii, xviii: {Latin omitted} (How could He [Christ] have shown greater liberality and greater mercy. . .than by granting full forgiveness to those who should turn from their sins. . .He gave these keys to His Church, therefore, that whatever it should remit on earth should be remitted also in heaven) (P.L., XXIV, 25; cf. Hilary, “In Matt.”, xvi, P.L., IX, 1010).

    It is comparatively seldom that the Fathers, when speaking of the power of the keys, make any reference to the supremacy of St. Peter. When they deal with that question, they ordinarily appeal not to the gift of the keys but to his office as the rock on which the Church is founded. In their references to the potestas clavium, they are usually intent on vindicating against the Montanist and Novatian heretics the power inherent in the Church to forgive. Thus St. Augustine in several passages declares that the authority to bind and loose was not a purely personal gift to St. Peter, but was conferred upon him as representing the Church. The whole Church, he urges, exercises the power of forgiving sins. This could not be had the gift been a personal one (tract. 1 in Joan., n. 12, P.L., XXXV, 1763; Serm. ccxcv, in P.L., XXXVIII, 1349). …

    Some few of the Fathers, however, are careful to note that the bestowal of this power upon St. Peter alone, apart from the other Apostles, denoted his primacy among the twelve (Optatus, “De Schism. Don.”, vii, 3, in P.L., XI, 1087). Origen dilates at length on this point, but teaches erroneously that the power conferred upon the Twelve in Matthew 18:18, could only be exercised within certain restrictions of place, while that conferred upon St. Peter in Matthew 16:18, was of universal extent (Comm. in Matt., P.G., XIII, 1179).

    (2) Occasionally, though infrequently, Christ’s promise is not restricted to signify the power to forgive sins, but is taken in the fuller meaning of the gift of authority over the Church. Thus St. Gregory in his letter to the Emperor Maurice, after quoting Christ’s words in Matthew 16:18-19, writes: “Behold he [Peter] received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, the power of binding and loosing is committed to him, the care of the whole Church and its government is given to him [{Latin omitted} (Epist., lib. V, ep. xx, in P.L., LXXVII, 745)]. St. Maximus in a sermon on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul (P.L., LVII, 403) says that to St. Peter was given the key of power (clavis potentioe), to St. Paul the key of knowledge (clavis scientioe). The idea of a key of knowledge is clearly derived from Christ’s words to the Pharisees, Luke 11:52: “You have taken away the key of knowledge.” This distinction of the clavis potentioe and clavis scientioe recurs frequently in the medieval writers, though without reference to St. Paul.

    – Patristic interpretations of Luke 22:31-34 (from the Catena Aurea of St. Thomas Aquinas):

    BEDE; Lest the eleven should be boastful, and impute it to their own strength, that they almost alone among so many thousands of the Jews were said to have continued with our Lord in His temptations, He shows them, that if they had not been protected by the aid of their Master succoring them, they would have been beaten down by the same storm as the rest. Hence it follows, And the Lord said to Simon, Simon, behold Satan has desired you, that he may sift you as wheat. That is, he has longed to tempt you and to shake you, as he who cleanses wheat by winnowing. Wherein He teaches that no man’s faith is tried unless God permits it.

    CYRIL; Or to show that men being as nought, (as regards human nature, and the proneness of our minds to fall,) it is not meet that they should wish to be above their brethren. Therefore passing by all the others, He comes to Peter, who was the chief of them, saying, But I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not.

    CHRYS. Now He said not, ‘I have granted,’ but I have prayed. For He speaks humbly as approaching to His Passion, and that He may manifest His human nature. For He who had spoken not in supplication, but by authority, Upon this rock I will build my Church, and I will give you the keys of the kingdom, how should He have need of prayer that He might stay one agitated soul? He does not say, “I have prayed that you deny not,” but that you do not abandon your faith.

    THEOPHYL. He burns forth indeed with too much love, and promises what is impossible to him. But it be him as soon as he heard from the Truth that he was to be tempted, to be no longer confident. Now the Lord, seeing that Peter spoke boastfully, reveals the nature of his temptation, namely, that he would deny Him; I tell you, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that you thrice deny, &c.

    BASIL; We must know then, that God sometimes allows the rash to receive a fall, as a remedy to previous self-confidence. But although the rash man seems to have committed the same offense with other men, there is no slight difference. For the one has sinned by reason of certain secret assaults and almost against his will, but the others, having no care either for themselves or God, knowing no distinction between sin and virtuous actions. For the rash needing some assistance, in regard to this very thing in which he has sinned ought to suffer reproof. But the others, having destroyed all the good of their soul, must be afflicted, warned, rebuked, or made subject to punishment, until they acknowledge that God is a just Judge, and tremble.

    – Patristic interpretations of John 21:15-17 (from the Catena Aurea of St. Thomas Aquinas):

    THEOPHYL. The dinner being ended, He commits to Peter the superintendence over the sheep of the world, not to the others: So when they had dined, Jesus says to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, Do love you Me more than these do?

    ALCUIN. He is called Simon, son of John, John being his natural father. But mystically, Simon is obedience, John grace, a name well befitting him who was so obedient to God’s grace, that he loved our Lord more ardently than any of the others. Such virtue arising from divine gift, not mere human will.

    AUG. While our Lord was being condemned to death, he feared, and denied Him. But by His resurrection Christ implanted love in his heart, and drove away fear. Peter denied, because he feared to die: but when our Lord was risen from the dead, and by His death destroyed death, what should he fear? He says to Him, Yea, Lord; you know that 1 love You. On this confession of his love, our Lord commends His sheep to him: He says to him, Feed My lambs. as if there were no way of Peter’s showing his love for Him, but by being a faithful shepherd, under the chief Shepherd.

    CHRYS. A third time He asks the same question, and gives the same command; to show of what importance He esteems the superintendence of His own sheep, and how He regards it as the greatest proof of love to Him.

    AUG. They who feed Christ’s sheep, as if they were their own, not Christ’s, show plainly that they love themselves, not Christ; that they are moved by lust of glory, power, gain, not by the love of obeying, ministering, pleasing God. Let us love therefore, not ourselves, but Him, and in feeding His sheep, seek not our own, but the things which are His. For whoso loves himself, not God, loves not himself: man that cannot live of himself, must die by loving himself; and he cannot love himself, who loves himself to his own destruction. Whereas when He by Whom we live is loved, we love ourselves the more, because we do not love ourselves; because we do not love ourselves in order that we may love Him by Whom we live.

    I acknowledge that some of these citations speak to St. Peter being made the chief shepherd of the whole Church. They do not state, however, that St. Peter’s successor in Rome (why not Antioch?) would in his very person be the perpetual centre of ecclesiastical unity. Fr. Laurent Cleenewerck concisely contrasts in “An Orthodox Reply to ‘Why I Didn’t Convert to Eastern Orthodoxy’” the differing models of the Church in Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy:

    Actually, the unifying mechanism in Roman Catholicism is acceptance of papal supremacy, even though the liturgical, theological and spiritual experiences are so varied as to be irreconcilable. Unity is then administrative and juridical. In the Orthodox communion, unity is brought about by an irresistible, indestructible bond of love and shared faith and spiritual-sacramental life in the Orthodox Churches. The unity is in worship and teaching, not administration.

    Continued in next post.

  25. Catholics refer to these evidences collectively as The Motives of Credibilty. This evidence is not sufficient to compel the assent of faith. (It wouldn’t be faith, then, it would be knowledge.) But it is sufficient to show that the assent of faith (aided by divine grace) is rational.

    David, I am confused about what you might mean by the word “compel?” As far as I understand, the Church teaches that one can know with certainty the supernatural origin of the Catholic Church. Doesn’t that certain knowledge morally and rationally oblige (i.e., the definition of “compel”) someone to make the assent of faith?

    I also think you are wrong that such knowledge would obviate faith. Merely knowing that the Catholic Church is the bearer and guardian of Revelation doesn’t make Revelation anymore evident in itself to us – we still have to have faith in God through his Church because Revelation is not evident to us. What is evident, though, is the credibility of Christ and his Church.

  26. Part 3

    Garrison (re: post #20)–I’d like to add an interesting detail which came to my attention quite recently, in post #68 of a Catholic Answers Forum thread which I began, regarding the “power of the keys” in Catholic theology:

    Here’s a not-too-well-known-fact:
    The traditional Rite of Consecration of bishops in the Catholic Church (the Rite was changed in the 1960’s I think) included the following:

    “[B][I]Give him, O Lord, the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven… Whatsoever he shall bind
    upon earth, let it be bound likewise in Heaven, and whatsoever he shall loose upon earth,
    let it likewise be loosed in Heaven. Whose sins he shall retain, let them be retained, and
    do Thou remit the sins of whomsoever he shall remit… Grant him, O Lord, an Episcopal
    chair…[/I][/B]”

    It has always been the traditional position of the Catholic Church that bishops by virtue of their consecration share in the power of the keys. This is evident from the patristic witness as early as Pope St. Leo the Great. Nowadays, Absolutist Petrine advocates misinterpret the “Keys” as some unilateral papal prerogative that can be used against the rest of the bishops.

    Non-Catholic detractors of Vatican 1 should keep the above information in mind as to the traditional position of the Catholic Church with regards to the Keys. The Absolutist Petrine, Neo-ultramontane notions of absolute, unilateral papal power are innovations and misinterpretations of traditional Catholic doctrine on the papacy.

    MardukM, the Coptic Orthodox convert to Catholicism who wrote the above, offers an interesting perspective on the papacy at the Catholic Answers Forum, in such threads as “High Petrine view in the early Church“. I’m still headed towards Eastern Orthodoxy because–thus far–its arguments appear stronger. But MardukM gives me food for thought nonetheless.

    The Tome of St. Leo and the Letter of St. Agatho to the Third Council of Constantinople are two.

    Did the bishops of the universal Church receive these documents (1) as the definitive statements on monophysitism and monothelitism, (2) protected from error by the Holy Spirit, (3) proclaimed with the aid of the charism of doctrinal infallibility originating from St. Peter and subsequently transmitted to his papal successors in an unbroken chain all the way down to Sts. Leo and Agatho?

    It means that the Byzantine tradition (and all orthodox Eastern traditions) is to be maintained without interference from the West and that the West cannot dogmatically define against the their spiritual heritage, and that they will defend their right to that heritage.

    What mechanism is available to the Eastern Catholic Churches to (1) prevent the Western Catholic Church from running roughshod over their “spiritual heritage” and, if necessary, (2) force an over-zealous pope and curia in Rome to reverse decisions which violate the same?

    For instance, the ban on married priests outside traditional Eastern Catholic lands is often ignored by the Melkites and other Eastern Churches and for good reason.

    Is there no way for the affected “Orthodox in communion with Rome” to have the prohibition overturned permanently?

    Of course, no Catholic (Eastern or Western) can argue with dogma; we can argue about the intricacies of the definition (Do Easterners have to explicitly endorse Purgatory? no. Can they deny it? Also, no. Can they speak of it in terms part of their spiritual heritage instead of those of the West? Yes.), but we can’t deny any of them.

    This looks like a distinction without a difference, and an approach that creates more problems than it solves.

    Perry Robinson put it well in comment #68 of another CTC thread–here are the relevant excerpts:

    What is relevant is what the documents teach and what their intended scope of application is. Rome seems to have taken those definitions to be applicable at that time and for a long time afterwards to the Easterners (as well as to Protestants) whether those bodies liked it or not. The main line of Catholic ecumenical thought has been to tweak the administration of papal universal jurisdiction and how the plenitude of power is implemented, rather than alter those concepts. So there is a kind of “slide” from the former to the other, which sometimes gives people the impression that Rome has changed its teaching. It hasn’t in the least. But the Orthodox object to the teaching and not merely to administration and so changing the administration is of limited ecumenical import.

    [T]here is really nothing new or anything that moves the discussion on the papacy one way or the other. It doesn’t respect both because it fudges on both-the primary point isn’t about the application of papal primacy but the nature of papal primacy. The former is just window dressing and both sides know it.

    For the recored, it is not that I am opposed to reunion in principle. Nor do I think that I couldn’t be mistaken. Rather I think that papering over problems with ambiguous terms is no way to achieve union. At best it will only create more schisms. Such is the testimony of history. The real way forward is to see if there is some third conceptual model that entails both views such that each view can be translated conceptually into the other without remainder. Only in this way will you be able to convince each side that they in fact share the same faith.

    If the dogmas of the Catholic Church cannot be changed, and what are in fact fundamental aspects of papal supremacy as defined at Vatican I are absolutely unacceptable according to the doctrines and canons of the Eastern Orthodox Church, all reunion talks must end swiftly, to avoid giving Christians any more false hope that the Great Schism can be healed.

    It’s an annoying fact and an ecumenical problem, but I don’t see that it is insurmountable or a dead end.

    God willing…

    One possible solution is for the pope to make more of a distinction between his role as bishop of Rome and custodian of the Universal Church.

    How could he go about doing so, in your view?

    As for positivism in Roman circles concerning the papacy: the need or desire for the pope to define every little doctrine or we don’t know what’s going on. See the debate concerning the Assumption: did Mary die? Yes, she did. The Fathers attest that she did, the liturgy attests that she did, and Pius XII alludes to her death multiple times in Munificentissimus Deus. No, it was not dogmatically defined that she died, but that doesn’t mean she (possibly) didn’t.

    OK, thanks for clarifying–I understand what you mean now. Nonetheless, it seems strange to possess a charism of infallibility without employing it to settle a point of contention once and for all. The decision not to define whether the Theotokos died or not seems more political than theological.

    Oh, I have no problem with that; I just have a problem with the idea that the pope is *only* a final court of appeals on the level of the Universal Church.

    What episodes in the early Church most strongly, in your view, demonstrate this to be the case?

  27. In another thread, Comment #246 the issue came up: “papal ratifications of dogmatic canons issued by general councils meant to bind the whole Church”. We were sent to this thread to post comments on the historical papacy. But this speaks as well to epistemology.

    Of “papal ratifications”, it was said:

    Whether purely papal or conciliar, such definitions are exercises of the “extraordinary magisterium” of the Church, and thus require the assent of faith from all believers. All are set forth infallibly.

    Of course, it’s not like “popes” had called these councils, or were leading these councils, or even present at these councils, or were even afterthoughts at these councils. In some cases, they didn’t even know about them until after-the-fact.

    “Pope Sylvester” was not present at the First Ecumenical Council (Nicea 325AD). Only two priests from Rome were present (among the 300+ Eastern bishops at the council) and Sylvester is neither mentioned by, or even apparently though of at this council. At the Second Ecumenical Council, Constantinople (381AD), from which we have “the Nicene Creed” in its present form, “Pope Damasus” (366–384) didn’t even know it was occurring, and only received reports about the council later.

    What was “the papacy” like at this time? This is from Hans Küng: “Infallibility, an Inquiry”:

    Bishop Damasus was the first to claim the title of Sedes Apostolica (“Apostolic See”) exclusively for the Roman See; Bishop Siricius (contemporary of the far more important Ambrose, Bishop of Milan), was the first to call himself “pope,” began peremptorily to call his own statutes “apostolic,” adopted the official imperial style, and energetically extended his official powers on all sides; Bishop Innocent I wanted to have every important matter, after it had been been discussed at a synod, put before the Roman pontiff for a decision, and tried to establish liturgical centralization with the aid of historical fictions, and so on.

    The historian Eamon Duffy writes of this “official imperial style”:

    They [bishops of Rome] set about [creating a Christian Rome] by building churches, converting the modest tituli (community church centres) into something grander, and creating new and more public foundations, though to begin with nothing that rivaled the great basilicas at the Lateran and St. Peter’s. Over the next hundred years their churches advanced into the city – Pope Mark’s (336) San Marco within a stone’s throw of the Capitol, Pope Liberius’ massive basilica on the Esquiline (now Santa Maria Maggiore), Pope Damasus’ Santa Anastasia at the foot of the Palatine, Pope Julius’ foundation on the site of the present Santa Maria in Trastevere, Santa Pudenziana near the Baths of Diocletian under Pope Anastasius (399-401), Santa Sabina among the patrician villas on the Aventine under Pope Celestine (422-32).

    These churches were a mark of the upbeat confidence of post-Constantinian Christianity in Rome. The popes were potentates, and began to behave like it. Damasus perfectly embodied this growing grandeur. An urbane career cleric like his predecessor Liberius, at home in the wealthy salons of the city, he was also a ruthless power-broker, and he did not he did not hesitate to mobilize both the city police and [a hired mob of gravediggers with pickaxes] to back up his rule… (Duffy, 37:38).

    It was Siricius (384-399), who was the successor of Damasus, who “self-consciously … began to model their actions and style as Christian leaders on the procedures of the Roman state. … [Siricius responded to an inquiry from a neighboring bishop in Spain] in the form of a decretal, modeled directly on an imperial rescript, and like the rescripts, providing authoritative rulings which were designed to establish legal precedents on the issues concerned. Siricius commended the [inquiring] Bishop for consulting Rome ‘as to the head of your body’, and instructed to him to pass on ‘the salutary ordinances we have made’ to the bishops of all the surrounding provinces, for ‘no priest of the Lord is free to be ignorant of the statutes of the Apostolic See’” (Duffy 40)

    Interesting that Küng refers to these men as “bishops”, given that they were the first to refer to themselves as “popes”.

    Regarding the way that “historical fictions” worked their way into papal consolidation of their power, Roger Collins, Keeper of the Keys (New York, NY: Basic Books (Perseus Books Group), ©2009) writes:

    In 416 Pope Innocent I (401–417) declared ‘in all of Italy, Gaul, Spain, Africa, Sicily and the isles that lie between them no churches have been established other than by those ordained bishop by the venerable Apostle Peter or his successors”…. (58)

    This was totally historically inaccurate, although it wasn’t the only such incident giving sanction to historical inaccuracy. The purpose of such “novelties”, according to Collins, was “always the” invention “maintenance of tradition” (59).

    Later, Collins writes about the “Symmachan forgeries”:

    This was the first occasion on which the Roman church had revisited its own history, in particular the third and fourth centuries, in search of precedents…. Some of the periods in question, such as the pontificates of Sylvester (314–355) and Liberius (352–366), were already being seen more through the prism of legend than that of history, and in the Middle Ages texts were often forged because their authors were convinced of the truth of what they contained. Their faked documents provided tangible evidence of what was already believed true.

    The Symmachan forgeries reinterpreted some of the more embarrassing episodes in papal history, both real and imaginary. … How convincing these forged texts seemed in the early sixth century is unknown, but when rediscovered in later centuries, they were regarded as authentic records with unequivocal legal authority. … (Collins, 80–82).

    This is how Rome does “interpretation”. The reliance of these bishops of Rome on fictions and forgeries to expand their realm is truly staggering. Collins says “It is no coincidence that the first systematic works of papal history appear at the very time the Roman church’s past was being reinvented for polemical purposes.” We have only seen the tip of the iceberg.

    * * *

    There was a representative of a pope present at the third Ecumenical council. History records a speech from “Philip the Roman Legate” at the Council of Ephesus (431 AD). It is important to note that this was at the third session – after all of the major issues had been decided, “after the conclusion of the whole matter”, after many of the important players had left. Philip stood up in front of an almost-empty room and said:

    No one doubts, but rather it has been known to all generations, that the holy and most blessed Peter, chief and head of the Apostles, the pillar of the faith, the foundation stone of the Catholic church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ the Savior and Redeemer of the human race, an that the power of binding and loosing sins was given to him, who up to this moment and always lives in his successors, and judges (D. 112).

    For Roman Catholics, this counts as “papal ratification” of a council.

    In reality, this speech of Philip’s was a novelty, a burp after a meal, a “don’t-forget-about-me” moment” which wasn’t on anybody’s mind at the time (except for those at Rome), and at Vatican I, we see here the real-life practice of what I’ve been calling “The Roman Catholic Hermeneutic”, returning “to the sources of divine revelation” – interesting how this afterthought of a speech turns into “a source of divine revelation” for the great and certain Roman Catholic IP, that fountain of all epistemological certainty.

    This unimportant speech was cited at Vatican I (D. 1824), as precedent for and evidence of “the Perpetuity of the Primacy of Blessed Peter among the Roman Pontiffs.”

    I know, someone will say, but none of this is inconsistent with the fact that the popes really were infallible in that day.

    But it is upon this sort of activity, and the reporting of this activity, [and the modification of the reports of this activity in history], upon which the “100% certainty” of the “CIP” rests, folks here find “preferable”.

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