Sunday, March 8, 2009

Papal Infallibility & Primacy

Update 10/26/2010: See the new version of this post by clicking here.

3rd Century
West: Bishop St. Cyprian the Martyr of Carthage in 252 [Epistle 59:14 in PL ],
After such things as these, moreover, they still dare--a false bishop having been appointed for them by, heretics--to set sail and to bear letters from schismatic and profane persons to the throne of Peter, and to the chief church whence priestly unity takes its source; and not to consider that these were the Romans whose faith was praised in the preaching of the Apostle, to whom faithlessness could have no access.
The Latin reads:
Post ista adhuc insuper pseudopeiscopo sibi ab haereticis constituto nauigare audent et ad Petri cathedram adque ad ecclesiam prncipalem unde unitas sacerdotalis exorta est ab schismaticis et profanis litteras ferre nec cogitare eos esse Romanos quorum fides apostolo praedicante laudata est, ad quos perfidia habere non possit accessum.
WRH: (1) heterodoxy will never prevail over the Roman see; (2) the pope of Rome is the supreme pastor of the universal Church; (3) disobedience of Rome is unacceptable; (4) final doctrinal decisions rest with Rome; (5) the pope has the special authority to teach the entire Christian world; (6) St. Peter is the prince of Apostles who rules over them; (7) this authoritative primacy of Rome is permanent and non-transferable; (8) communion with Rome is necessary.4th Century


East: Patriarch St. John I Chrysostom the Great of Constantinople (Doctor & Holy Hierarch) says [Homilies on the Gospel of St. John 88:1 in PG 59:478],
He says to him, "Feed My Sheep." Why does He pass over the others and speak about these to him? He was the chosen one of the Apostles, the mouth of the disciples, the head of the choir; for this reason Paul went up to see him rather than the other ... He entrusts him with the primacy of the brethren; and as He does not bring forward the denial, or reproach him with the past, but says: "If you love Me, rule the brethren." ... And if anyone would say "How did James receive the chair of Jerusalem," I would reply that He appointed Peter a teacher not of the chair, but of the world...
The Greek reads:
Λέγει αυ̉τω̃· Βόσκε τά πρόβατά μου. Καί τί δήποτε, τούς ά̉λλους παραδραμών, τούτω περί τούτων διαλέγεται; ̉Έκκριτος η̉ν τω̃ν α̉ποστόλων, καί στόμα τω̃ν μαθητω̃ν, καί κορυφή του̃ χορου̃·διά του̃το καί Παυλος α̉νέβη τότε αυ̉τόν ιστορησαι παρά τους ά̉λλους … ̉Εγχειρίζεται τήν προστασίαν τω̃ν α̉δελφω̃ν. Καί την μέν ά̉ρνησιν ου̉ προφέρει, ου̉δέ ο̉νειδίζει το γεγονός· λέγει δέ ότι ̉Ει φιλεις με, προϊστασο τω̃ν α̉δελφω̃ν … ̉Ει δέ λέγοι τις πω̃ς ουν ο Ιάκωβος τόν θρόνον έ̉λαβε των Ιεροσολύμων;ε̉κει̃νο ά̉ν εί̉ποιμι, ότι τουτον ου̉ του̃ θρόνου, α̉λλά τη̃ς οι̉κουμένης.
WRH: In the absence of any reason to deny that St. John believed that the successors of St. Peter in the See of Rome inherited the Petrine power, we can deduce the following: (2) the pope of Rome is the supreme pastor of the universal Church; (5) the pope has the special authority to teach the entire Christian world; (6) St. Peter is the prince of Apostles who rules over them.


West: Bishop St. Augustine the Great of Hippo (Doctor) in 393 [Psalm Against the Party of Donatus 18 in PL 43:30], "Number the bishops from the See of Peter itself. And in that order of Fathers see who has succeeded whom. That is the rock against which the gates of Hell do not prevail."
WRH: (1) heterodoxy will never prevail over the Roman see.
5th Century
East: Patriarch St. Cyril of Alexandria (Doctor of the Incarnation) says in 430 [Epistle 11:7 to Pope St. Celestine I of Rome in PG 77:86],
I was unwilling to openly sever communion with him until I had laid all the facts before you. Deign therefore to ordain what seems right, whether we ought to communicate at all with him, or to tell him plainly that no one communicates with a person who holds and teaches what he does. Further the purpose of your holiness ought to be made known by letter to the most religious and God-loving bishops of Macedonia, and to all the bishops of the East, for we shall then give them, according to their desire, the opportunity of standing together in unity of soul and mind, and lead them to contend earnestly for the orthodox faith which is being attacked.
The Greek reads as follows:
Ού πρότερον δέ τη̃ς πρός αυ̉τον κοινωνίας ε̉κβάλομεν ε̉αυτους μετά παρρησίας, πρίν άν ταυ̃τα τη̃ ση̃ θεοσεβεία α̉νακοινωσώμεθα. Διό δή καταξίωσον τυπω̃σαι το δοκου̃ν, καί πότερόν ποτε χρή κοινωνειν αυ̉τω̃, ή̉ λοιπόν α̉πειπει̃ν μετά παρρησίας, ό̉τι τοιαυ̃τα φρονου̃ντι καί διδάσκοντι ου̉δείς κοινωνει̃. Τόν δέ ε̉πί τούτοις σκοπόν τη̃ς ση̃ς θεοσεβείας χρή γενέσθαι διά γραμμάτων καταφανη̃ καί τοι̃ς ευ̉σεβεστάτοις καί θεοφιλεστάτοις ε̉πισκόποις τοι̃ς κατά Μακεδονίαν, καί ά̉πασι τοι̃ς κατά την ̉Ανατολήν. ̉Επιθυμουσι γάρ αυ̉τοις δώσομεν α̉φορμάς του̃ πάντας μια̃ ψυχη̃ και μια̃ γνώμη στη̃ναι, καί ε̉παγωνίσασθαι τη̃ ο̉ρθη̃ πίστει πολεμουμένη.
WRH: (2) The pope of Rome is the supreme pastor of the universal Church; (4) final doctrinal decisions rest with Rome; (5) the pope has the special authority to teach the entire Christian world.

Ecumenical Council of Ephesus (431), Council Decree:
As, in addition to other things, the impious Nestorius has not obeyed our citation, and did not receive the holy bishops who were sent by us to him, we were compelled to examine his ungodly doctrines. We discovered that he had held and published impious doctrines in his letters and treatises, as well as in discourses which he delivered in this city, and which have been testified to. Compelled thereto by the canons and by the letter (αναγκαιως κατεπειξθεντες απο τε των κανονων, και εκ της επιστολης, κ. τ. η.) of our most holy father and fellow-servant Celestine, the Roman bishop, we have come, with many tears, to this sorrowful sentence against him, namely, that our Lord Jesus Christ, Whom he has blasphemed, decrees by the holy Synod that Nestorius be excluded from the episcopal dignity, and from all priestly communion.
WRH: (2) the pope of Rome is the supreme pastor of the universal Church; (3) disobedience of Rome is unacceptable; (4) final doctrinal decisions rest with Rome; (5) the pope has the special authority to teach the entire Christian world.

Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451 [To Pope St. Leo I, Epistle 98:1-2],
The great and holy and universal Synod...in the metropolis of Chalcedon...to the most holy and blessed archbishop of Rome, Leo ... being set as the mouthpiece unto all of the blessed Peter, and imparting the blessedness of his Faith unto all ...and besides all this he [Dioscorus] stretched forth his fury even against him who had been charged with the custody of the vine by the Savior, we mean of course your holiness ...
WRH: (2) the pope of Rome is the supreme pastor of the universal Church; (3) disobedience of Rome is unacceptable; (5) the pope has the special authority to teach the entire Christian world; (6) St. Peter is the prince of Apostles who rules over them.
WRH: In his winter 1964-1965 journal article, "St. Cyril's 'One Physis or Hypostasis of God the Logos Incarnate' and Chalcedon," the Eastern Orthodox Fr. John S. Romanides († 2001) wrongly infers Cyrillian primacy at the Council of Chalcedon, when the truth is Leonine primacy; i.e., Fr. John wrongly declared that the Tome of Leo was subordinate to the Cyrillian writings, i.e., was of lesser authority. The bishops intended to stress, against the Eutychians, that their acceptance of the Leonine definition did not put them at odds with the Christology of the most holy Cyril, and they would not have thought it possible that Leo could err in his ex cathedra definition and contradict the earlier ecumenically-approved writings (which derived their authority from the sanction of the Pope in the first place) of that soldier of Christ, St. Cyril the Great [Rivington 411]. The Council did not judge as a superior the two pillars of orthodoxy when it said that the two saints agree Christologically, just as I do not act superior to the great-martyrs Sts. James and Paul the Apostles when I truthfully proclaim that they agree soteriologically [411]. The Council did not, by mentioning the Roman and Alexandrian bulwarks together, put them on the same official level, just as no one puts St. Paul the Apostle and a Greek poet on the same level when he says that they are in accord [411]. Just because someone notices my agreement with my master St. Thomas Aquinas and says that we believe alike, that does not mean that he puts me on the same level as that great wonderworking doctor, for it is manifest that I am but a shadow while he is brilliant light invincibly defending, better than anyone else, the truths our Lord handed down through the Apostles. The bishops assumed from the outset the agreement between Leo and Cyril [414]. It was not that they could dissent from the Leonine definition and modify it, but that they wanted to see the agreement between the two illustrious Doctors and adhere to the definition with an enlightened faith, and not a blind faith [416].

East: Patriarch St. Flavian the Martyr of Constantinople in 449 [Epistle to Pope St. Leo I the Great of Rome in ],
Prince of the Apostles, and to the whole sacred synod, which is obedient to Your Holiness, at once a crowd of soldiers surrounded me and barred my way when I wished to take refuge at the holy altar. ... Therefore, I beseech Your Holiness not to permit these things to be treated with indifference ... but to rise up first on behalf of the cause of our orthodox Faith, now destroyed by unlawful acts. ... Further to issue an authoritative instruction ... so that a like faith may everywhere be preached by the assembly of an united synod of fathers, both Eastern and Western. Thus the laws of the fathers may prevail and all that has been done amiss be rendered null and void. Bring healing to this ghastly wound.
WRH: (2) the pope of Rome is the supreme pastor of the universal Church; (3) disobedience of Rome is unacceptable; (4) final doctrinal decisions rest with Rome; (5) the pope has the special authority to teach the entire Christian world; (8) communion with Rome is necessary.West: Monk Bachiarius of Spain in 420 [Professio fidei 2 in PL 20:1023]: "...none of the heresies could gain hold of or move the Chair of Peter, that is the See of faith."
WRH: (1) heterodoxy will never prevail over the Roman see.

  • Likoudis, James. Ending the Byzantine Greek Schism. Benedictus Books: Catholics United for the Faith, 1992.
  • Rivington, Rev. Luke, M.A. The Primitive Church and the See of Peter. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1894. 25 Mar. 2009 <http://books.google.com/books?id=uiqOs8cftDcC>.

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