The Church Fathers and Ecumenical Councils teach the following: (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 and canonical 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.
*Denzinger 694, 17th Ecumenical Council (Florence in 1439), the 7/6/1439 Bull "Laetentur coeli" of Pope Eugene IV of Rome: We likewise define that the holy Apostolic See, and the Roman Pontiff, hold the primacy throughout the entire world; and that the Roman Pontiff himself is the successor of blessed Peter, the chief of the Apostles, and the true vicar of Christ, and that he is the head of the entire Church, and the father and teacher of all Christians; and that full power was given to him in blessed Peter by our Lord Jesus Christ, to feed, rule, and govern the universal Church; just as is contained in the acts of the ecumenical Councils and in the sacred canons.
Lots of other witnesses coming, in addition to texts from the Ecumenical Councils:
East: Bishop St. Dionysius of Corinth to Pope St. Soter of Rome, Deacon St. Ephraim the Syrian (Doctor), Bishop St. Basil the Great of Caesarea (Doctor), Byzantine Emperor St. Theodosius I the Great (January 17 EO), Archbishop St. John Chrysostom the Great of Constantinople (Doctor), Archbishop St. Cyril of Alexandria (Doctor of the Incarnation), Archbishop St. Flavian the Martyr of Constantinople, Patriarch St. Anatolius of Constantinople, Patriarch St. Sophronius of Jerusalem, Hieromonk St. John of Damascus (Doctor of the Assumption), Patriarch St. Nicephorus of Constantinople
West: Bishop St. Cyprian the Martyr of Carthage, Pope St. Siricius of Rome, Hieromonk St. John Cassian the Roman, Bishop St. Augustine the Great of Hippo (Doctor of Grace), Pope St. Hormisdas of Rome, Pope St. Gregory I the Great of Rome (Doctor), St. Columba of Ireland, Pope St. Agatho the Wonderworker of Rome, Pope St. Nicholas I the Great of Rome
Eventually we will, God willing, address the alleged counter-examples to primacy and infallibility (St. Anicetus, St. Victor I [July 28], St. Marcellinus the Confessor, St. Liberius the Confessor, Vigilius, Honorius I, Gregory VI, John XXII, etc.)
The Eastern Orthodox commemorate the following popes as saints: Popes Sts. Peter (June 29), Linus (November 5), Clement I the Martyr (November 25), Alexander I (March 16), Telesphorus the Martyr (February 22), Urban I the Martyr (May 25), Anterus (August 5), Fabian the Martyr (August 5), Stephen I (August 2), Sixtus II the Martyr (August 10), Gaius (August 11), Marcellinus the Confessor (June 7), Marcellus I the Martyr (June 7), Sylvester I (January 2), Liberius the Confessor (August 27), Celestine I (April 8), Leo I the Great (February 18), Agapetus I (April 17), Gregory I the Great (March 12), Martin I the Martyr (April 14), and Agatho the Wonderworker (February 20).
West: Pope St. Clement I the Martyr of Rome (November 23) says in 95 [Letter to the Corinthians 59]: "If, however, any shall disobey the words spoken by Him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and serious danger; but we shall be innocent of this sin."
East: Bishop St. Ignatius the Martyr of Antioch (December 20 East/October 17 West) says in 107 [Prologue to the Letter to the Romans in PG 5:685AB]:
Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which has obtained mercy, through the majesty of the Most High Father, and Jesus Christ, His only-begotten Son; the Church which is beloved and enlightened by the will of Him that wills all things which are according to the love of Jesus Christ our God, which also presides in the place of the region of the Romans, worthy of God, worthy of honor, worthy of the highest happiness, worthy of praise, worthy of obtaining her every desire, worthy of being deemed holy, and which presides over love, is named from Christ, and from the Father, which I also salute in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father: to those who are united, both according to the flesh and spirit, to every one of His commandments; who are filled inseparably with the grace of God, and are purified from every strange taint, [I wish] abundance of happiness unblameably, in Jesus Christ our God.West: The Martyrs of Lyons entrusted St. Irenaeus of Lyons, who was a priest at the time, "with a special mission" [Fr. Bottala, S.J., p. 101] to visit Pope St. Eleutherius of Rome (May 26) to negotiate "for the peace of the churches," which were disturbed by "followers of Montanus, Alcibiades and Theodotus in Phrygia" [Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History 5:3:4]. Wherefore these same martyrs wrote to Pope St. Eleutherius [Church History 5:4:2]:
We pray, father Eleutherus, that you may rejoice in God in all things and always. We have requested our brother and comrade Irenaeus to carry this letter to you, and we ask you to hold him in esteem, as zealous for the covenant of Christ. For if we thought that office could confer righteousness upon any one, we should commend him among the first as a presbyter of the church, which is his position.West: Bishop St. Irenaeus the Martyr of Lyons (August 23 East/June 28 West) says in 180 [Against Heresies 3:3:2 in PG 7A:847AB],
Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority [propter potentiorem principalitatem] – that is, the faithful everywhere – inasmuch as the Apostolic Tradition has been preserved continuously by those who are everywhere.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 and canonical 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.
West: Pope St. Julius I of Rome (April 12). Church historian Socrates Scholasticus relates the following:
Church History 2:8:
Maximus, however, bishop of Jerusalem; who had succeeded Macarius, did not attend, recollecting that he had been deceived and induced to subscribe the deposition of Athanasius. Neither was Julius, bishop of the great Rome, there, nor had he sent a substitute, although an ecclesiastical canon commands that the churches shall not make any ordinances against the opinion of the bishop of Rome.Church History 2:15:
Athanasius, meanwhile, after a lengthened journey, at last reached Italy. The western division of the empire was then under the sole power of Constans, the youngest of Constantine's sons, his brother Constantine having been slain by the soldiers, as was before stated. At the same time also Paul, bishop of Constantinople, Asclepas of Gaza, Marcellus of Ancyra, a city of the Lesser Galatia, and Lucius of Adrianople, having been accused on various charges, and expelled from their several churches arrived at the imperial city. There each laid his case before Julius, bishop of Rome. He on his part, by virtue of the Church of Rome's peculiar privilege, sent them back again into the East, fortifying them with commendatory letters; and at the same time restored to each his own place, and sharply rebuked those by whom they had been deposed. Relying on the signature of the bishop Julius, the bishops departed from Rome, and again took possession of their own churches, forwarding the letters to the parties to whom they were addressed.Church History 2:17:
On the receipt of these contradictory communications, Julius first replied to the bishops who had written to him from Antioch, complaining of the acrimonious feeling they had evinced in their letter, and charging them with a violation of the canons, because they had not requested his attendance at the council, seeing that the ecclesiastical law required that the churches should pass no decisions contrary to the views of the bishop of Rome: he then censured them with great severity for clandestinely attempting to pervert the faith; in addition, that their former proceedings at Tyre were fraudulent, because the investigation of what had taken place at Mareotes was on one side of the question only; not only this, but that the charge respecting Arsenius had plainly been proved a false charge. Such and similar sentiments did Julius write in his answer to the bishops convened at Antioch...West: Bishop St. Optatus of Milevis (June 4) says in 367 [On the Schism of the Donatists 2:2 in PL 11:946A-947A]:
You cannot then deny that you do know that upon Peter first in the City of Rome was bestowed the Episcopal Chair [Cathedra], on which sat Peter, the Head of all the Apostles (for which reason he was called Cephas), that, in this one Chair, unity should be preserved by all, lest the other Apostles might claim--each for himself--separate Chairs, so that he who should set up a second Chair against the unique Chair would already be a schismatic and a sinner. Well then, on the one Chair, which is the first of the Endowments, Peter was the first to sit.The same saintly African bishop adds in the next chapter: "Damasus [was succeeded by] Siricius, who today is our colleague, with whom 'the whole world,' through the intercourse of letters of peace, agrees with us in one bond of communion. Now do you show the origin of your Chair, you who wish to claim the Holy Church for yourselves!"
West: Pope St. Damasus I of Rome (December 11) says in 372 [Synodical Letter to the Eastern Bishops, qtd. in Ecclesiastical History 5:10 of Bishop Theodoret of Cyrrhus of happy memory, in PG 82:1220AB]:
"Why then do you again ask me for the condemnation of Timotheus? Here, by the judgment of the Apostolic See, in the presence of Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, he was condemned, together with his teacher, Apollinarius, who will also in the day of judgment undergo due punishment and torment. But if he succeeds in persuading some less stable men, as though having some hope, after by his confession changing the true hope which is in Christ, with him shall likewise perish whoever of set purpose withstands the order of the Church. May God keep you sound, most honored sons.West: Hieromonk St. Jerome the Great of Stridon (Doctor; June 15 East/September 30 West) says in 376 [Letter 15:1-2 to Pope St. Damasus I of Rome in PL 22:355],
I think it my duty to consult the chair of Peter, and to turn to a church whose faith has been praised by Paul ... The fruitful soil of Rome, when it receives the pure seed of the Lord, bears fruit an hundredfold ... My words are spoken to the successor of the fisherman, to the disciple of the Cross. As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is with the chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the Church is built! This is the house where alone the Paschal Lamb can be rightly eaten. This is the ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails.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; (8) communion with Rome is necessary.
West: Bishop St. Ambrose the Great of Milan (Doctor; December 7) says in 378 [On the Death of Satyrus 1:47 in PL 16:1306], "But he was not so eager as to lay aside caution. He called the bishop to him, and esteeming that there can be no true thankfulness except it spring from true faith, he inquired whether he agreed with the Catholic bishops, that is, with the Roman Church?"
The same holy bishop says in Letter 11:4 to Roman Emperor Gratian in PL 16:946A: "Your grace must be besought not to permit any disturbance of the Roman Church the head of the whole Roman world and of the most holy faith of the Apostles, for from thence flow out to all [churches] the bonds of sacred communion."
West: Pope St. Innocent I of Rome (March 12) says in 417 [Letter 30:2 to the Council of Mileves in PL 20:590AB]:
It is therefore with due care and propriety that you consult the secrets of the Apostolic office, that office, I mean, to which belongs, besides the things which are without, the care of all the Churches...Especially as often as a question of faith is discussed, I think that all our brothers and fellow bishops should refer to none other than to Peter, the author of their name and office.West: Pope St. Zosimus of Rome (December 26) says in 417 [Letter 12:1 to the Council of Carthage in PL 20:676AB]:
Although the tradition of the Fathers has attributed to the Apostolic See so great authority that none would dare to contest its judgment, and has preserved this ever in its canons and rules, and current ecclesiastical discipline in its laws still pays the reverence which it ought to the name of Peter... For he himself has care over all the churches, and above all of that which he sat... Since, then Peter is the head of so great authority, and has confirmed the suffrages of our forefathers since his time...and as bishops you are bound to know it; yet; though such was our authority that none could reconsider our decision.West: Pope St. Boniface I of Rome (September 4) says in 422 [Letter 13 to Bishop Rufus of Thessalonica in PL 20:776A], "For it has never been allowed to discuss again what has once been decided by the Apostolic See."
WRH: (3) disobedience of Rome is unacceptable; (4) final doctrinal and canonical decisions rest with Rome; (5) the pope has the special authority to teach the entire Christian world.
West: Bishop St. Peter Chrysologus of Ravenna (Doctor of Homilies; July 30) says in 449 [Letter 25:2 to the Priest Eutyches in PL 54:742D-743A]:
We exhort you, honorable brother, to submit yourself in all things to what has been written by the blessed Bishop of Rome, because St. Peter, who lives and presides in his see, gives the true faith to those who seek it. For our part, for the sake of peace and the good of the faith, we cannot judge questions of doctrine without the consent of the Bishop of Rome.East: Bl. Bishop Theodoret of Cyrus says in 449 [Letter 116 to the Presbyter Renatus in PG 83:1324D-1325A]:
Wherefore, I beseech your sanctity, persuade the very sacred and holy archbishop [Leo of Rome] to bid me hasten to your council. For that Holy See has precedence over all churches in the world, for many reasons; and above all for this, that it is free from all taint of heresy, and that no bishop of heterodox opinion has ever sat upon its throne, but it has kept the grace of the Apostles undefiled.The same holy bishop says in his 449 Letter 113 to Pope St. Leo I the Great of Rome [PG 83:1312D-1313A]:
If Paul, the herald of the truth, the trumpet of the Holy Ghost, hastened to the great Peter in order that he might carry from him the desired solution of difficulties to those at Antioch who were in doubt about living in conformity with the law, much more do we, men insignificant and small, hasten to your Apostolic See in order to receive from you a cure for the wounds of the churches. For every reason it is fitting for you to hold the first place, inasmuch as your see is adorned with many privileges.East: Byzantine Emperor St. Marcian (February 17 EO) says in 450 [Letter 73 to Pope St. Leo I the Great of Rome in Mansi VI:93AB]: "In all that concerns the Catholic religion and the faith of Christians, we have thought it right to approach in the first place Your Holiness who is overseer and guardian of the divine faith."
East: Byzantine Empress St. Pulcheria (September 10) says in 450 [Letter 77 to Pope St. Leo I the Great of Rome in Mansi VI:101D] that she is confident that the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon "will define the Catholic belief by your authority, as Christian faith and piety require."
West: Pope St. Leo I the Great of Rome (Doctor) (February 18 East/November 10 West) says in 450 [Letter 10:1 to the Bishops of the Province of Vienne in PL 54:629A]: "This mysterious function the Lord wished to be indeed the concern of all the Apostles: and from him [St. Peter] as from the Head wishes His gifts to flow to all the body: so that anyone who dares to secede from Peter's solid rock may understand that he has no part or lot in the divine mystery."
The same holy pontiff says after the Council of Chalcedon in 451 [Letter 105:3 to Empress St. Pulcheria in PL 54:1000BC]:
But the bishops' assents, which are opposed to the regulations of the holy canons composed at Nicaea in conjunction with your faithful Grace, we do not recognize, and by the blessed Apostle Peter's authority we absolutely annul in comprehensive terms, in all ecclesiastical cases obeying those laws which the Holy Ghost set forth by the 318 bishops for the pacific observance of all priests in such sort that even if a much greater number were to pass a different decree to theirs, whatever was opposed to their constitution would have to be held in no respect.
The Holy Fathers of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (July 16 EO) cry out in 451 [Session 2 in Mansi VI:972]:
After the reading of the foregoing epistle, the most reverend bishops cried out: This is the faith of the fathers, this is the faith of the Apostles! So we all believe, thus the orthodox believe. Anathema to him who does not thus believe. Peter has spoken thus through Leo! So taught the Apostles. Piously and truly did Leo teach, so taught Cyril. Everlasting be the memory of Cyril! Leo and Cyril taught the same thing, anathema to him who does not so believe. This is the true faith. Those of us who are orthodox thus believe. This is the faith of the fathers. Why were not these things read at Ephesus [i.e., at the heretical synod held there]? These are the things Dioscorus hid away.These same Holy Fathers say in Session 8 [Mansi VII:189C], "Long live Leo! Leo has judged with God!" West: Pope St. Gelasius I of Rome (November 21) says toward the end of the fifth century [Letter 5 to Bishop Honorius of Dalmatia in PL 59:30D-31A]:
For the government of the Apostolic See [Rome], engaged without ceasing in the care of the whole flock of the Lord, which care was delegated to the blessed Peter by the voice of our Savior Himself, "And thou, converted, confirm thy brethren," we [the Pope] neither can nor ought to dissemble such things as constrain our solicitude.6th Century
West: Pope St. Agapetus I of Rome (April 17 East/September 20 West) says [Letter to Patriarch Peter of Jerusalem in Mansi VIII:923AB]:
We found the see of Constantinople usurped, contrary to all the canons, by Anthimus, Bishop of Trebizond. Our desire was to lead his soul back not only with regard to this point, but, what is more important, regarding the confession of the True Faith; but, attaching himself to the error of Eutyches, he despised the Truth. Wherefore, after having, according to apostolic charity, awaited his repentance of this belief, we decreed that he be deprived of the name of Catholic and of priest, until such time as he fully receive the doctrine of the Fathers who maintain the Faith and discipline of religion. You must reject likewise the others whom the Apostolic See has condemned.East: Patriarch St. Menas of Constantinople (August 25) says in 536 [Sentence Against ex-Patriarch Anthimus of Constantinople at Local Council of Constantinople in Mansi VIII:967A,970B]:
Indeed Agapetus of holy memory, Pope of Old Rome, giving him time for repentance until he should receive whatever the holy fathers defined, did not allow him to be called either a priest or a Catholic... we follow and obey the Apostolic Throne; we are in communion with those with whom it is in communion, and we condemn those whom it condemns.West: Pope Vigilius of Rome wrote the following in 538 [Letter to Bishop Profuturus of Braga in Mansi IX:33]:
To no one well-or-ill-informed is it doubtful that the Roman Church is the foundation and the mold of the churches, from which no one of right belief is ignorant that all churches here derived their beginning. Since, though the election of the Apostles was equal, yea a preeminence over the rest was granted to Blessed Peter, when he is also called the Cephas, being the head and beginning of all the Apostles: and what has gone before in the head must follow in the members. Wherefore the holy Roman Church, through his merit consecrated by the Lord's voice, and established by the authority of the holy Fathers, holds the Primacy over all the churches, to which as well the highest concerns of bishops, their causes, and complaints, are ever to be referred, as to the head. For he who knows himself to be set over others should not object to one being placed over himself. For the Church itself, which is the first, has bestowed its authority on the rest of the churches with this condition, that they be called to a part of its solicitude, not to the fullness of its power. Whence the causes of all bishops who appeal to the Apostolic See, and the proceedings in all greater causes, are known to be reserved to that Holy See; especially as in all these its decisions must always be awaited: and if any bishops attempts to resist this course, let him know that he will give account to that Holy See, not without endangering his own rank.WRH: (2) the pope of Rome is the supreme pastor of the universal Church; (3) disobedience of Rome is unacceptable; (4) final doctrinal and canonical 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.7th Century
East: Metropolitan Sergius of Cyprus says in 649, in a letter read in Session 2 of the Council of the Lateran [Letter to Pope Theodore I of Rome in Mansi X:914]: "O Holy Head, Christ our God hath destined thy Apostolic See to be an immovable foundation and a pillar of the Faith. For thou art, as the Divine Word truly saith, Peter, and on thee as a foundation-stone have the pillars of the Church been fixed."
East: Monk St. Maximus the Confessor of Constantinople (August 13) says [Excerpt from Letter to Peter in PG 91:144BC]:
Therefore if a man does not want to be, or to be called, a heretic, let him not strive to please this or that man ... but let him hasten before all things to be in communion with the Roman See. If he be in communion with it, he should be acknowledged by all and everywhere as faithful and orthodox. He speaks in vain who tries to persuade me of the orthodoxy of those who, like himself, refuse obedience to his Holiness the Pope of the most holy Church of Rome: that is to the Apostolic See.The Holy Fathers of the Ecumenical Council of Constantinople III (January 23 EO) say in 681 [Prosphoneticus to Byzantine Emperor Constantine IV from Session 18 in Mansi XI:665CD]:
But the highest prince of the Apostles fought with us: for we had on our side his imitator and the successor in his see, who also had set forth in his letter the mystery of the divine word [θεολογίας]. For the ancient city of Rome handed you a confession of divine character, and a chart from the sunsetting raised up the day of dogmas, and made the darkness manifest, and Peter spoke through Agatho...The same Holy Fathers say in the Letter of the Sixth Council to Pope St. Agatho [Mansi XI:684B-D]:
Serious illnesses call for greater helps, as you know, most blessed [father]; and therefore Christ our true God, Who is the Creator and governing power of all things, gave a wise physician, namely your God-honored sanctity, to drive away by force the contagion of heretical pestilence by the remedies of orthodoxy, and to give the strength of health to the members of the church. Therefore to you, as to the bishop of the first see of the Universal Church, we leave what must be done, since you willingly take for your standing ground the firm rock of the faith, as we know from having read your true confession in the letter sent by your fatherly beatitude to the most pious emperor: and we acknowledge that this letter was divinely written [perscriptas] as by the Chief of the Apostles, and through it we have cast out the heretical sect of many errors which had recently sprung up...These same fathers accept, in their entirety, the letters of Pope St. Agatho the Wonderworker that clearly set forth the doctrine of papal infallbility. Thus they say in their decree [Mansi XI:632], "This holy and Ecumenical Council has received with uplifted hands has greeted the letter of the most holy and blessed Pope of elder Rome, Agatho, to the Emperor."
East: Patriarch St. Tarasius of Constantinople (February 18) says in 787 [Session II of the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea II in Mansi XII:1086AB]:
The divine Apostle Paul, who was filled with the light of Christ, and who hath begotten us through the gospel, in writing to the Romans, commending their zeal for the true faith which they had in Christ our true God, thus said: "Your faith is gone forth into all the world" [Rom 1:8]. It is necessary to follow out this witness, and he that would contradict it is without good sense. Wherefore Adrian, the ruler of Old Rome, since he was a sharer of these things, thus borne witness to, wrote expressly and truly to our religious Emperors, and to our humility, confirming admirably and beautifully the ancient tradition of the Catholic Church.9th Century
East: Abbot St. Theodore of Studion (November 11) says in 816 [Letter II:129 to Sakellarios Leo in PG 99:1420A]:
Let him [Patriarch St. Nicephorus of Constantinople] assemble a synod of those with whom he has been at variance, if it is impossible that representatives of the other Patriarchs should be present, a thing which might certainly be if the Emperor should wish the Western Patriarch [the Roman Pope] to be present, to whom is given authority over an ecumenical synod; but let him make peace and union by sending his synodical letters to the prelate of the First See.The same holy abbot says in Letter II:86 to Byzantine Emperor Michael I Rangabe [PG 99:1332A]: "If there is anything in the patriarch's reply about which your Highness feels doubt or disbelief … you may ask the Elder Rome for clarification, as has been the past practice from the beginning, according to the inherited tradition."
He further says in Letter II:63 to Naucratius [PG 99:1281AB]:
I witness now before God and men, they [the Iconcoclasts] have torn themselves away from the Body of Christ, from the Supreme See [Rome], in which Christ placed the keys of the Faith, against which the gates of Hell (I mean the mouth of heretics) have not prevailed, and never will until the Consummation, according to the promise of Him Who cannot lie [Mt 16:18]. Let the blessed and Apostolic Paschal [Pope St. Paschal I] rejoice therefore, for he has fulfilled the work of Peter.East: Patriarch St. Ignatius of Constantinople (October 23) (qtd. in Likoudis 80) says in his letter read in the Third Session of the Eighth Council [Letter to Pope St. Nicholas I the Great of Rome in Mansi XVI:47E],
… saying to Peter, the greatest of the Apostles: "Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it." And again, "I will give thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be bound in Heaven." For such blessed words He did not circumscribe and define to the Prince [εξαρκος] of the Apostles alone by a kind of chance, but through him he transmitted them to all who, after him as his successors, were to be made chief pastors and divine and sacred pontiffs of elder Rome.Eighth Ecumenical Council (Constantinople IV, 869-870), under the righteous Pope Adrian II of Rome (867-872), says in Canon 21 [Mansi XVI:174B-D]:
No secular authority shall treat disrespectfully or seek to depose any of the five patriarchs; rather are they to be highly honored, especially the pope of Old Rome, then the patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. Nor shall anyone direct against the pope of Old Rome any libelous and defamatory writings, as was done recently by Photius and earlier by Dioscorus. If a secular authority shall attempt to expel the pope or any of the other patriarchs, let him be anathema. And if an ambiguity or controversy concerning the Holy Church of the Romans be brought before a general council, the question should be examined and disposed of with becoming respect and reverence, and no sentence should be boldly pronounced against the supreme pontiff of the elder Rome.WRH: Pope John VIII of Rome of pious memory (872-882) did not annul the Council of 869-870. Daniel Stiernon [Autour de Constantinople IV (869-870), p. 180] points out that nowhere does Pope John VIII, in his genuine letters, abrogate the 869-870 Council, and he cites [n. 148] Fr. Venance Grumel, A.A., "Les letters de Jean VIII pour le rétablissement de Photius," in Echos d'Orient, XXXIX (1940), 138-156. Stiernon also stresses [Autour de Constantinople IV (869-870), p. 176] that in the pope's genuine letter to Byzantine Emperor Basil I the Macedonian [MGH, Epist., VII, 169), Pope John VIII cites canon 68 of the 419 local Council of Carthage [Mansi III:771E], which reads:
not that the Council which met about this matter in foreign parts should be done away, but that it may remain in force with regard to those who so will to come over to the Catholic Church that there be procured by them no breaking of unity... there shall not be objected to them the decree contrary to their honor adopted by a foreign council, for salvation is shut off to no one, that is to say, that those ordained by the Donatist party, if having been corrected they have been willing to return to the Catholic Church, are not to be received in their grades, according to the foreign council; but they are to be excepted through whom they received the advice to return to Catholic unity."WRH: Moreover, the letter of Pope Stephen V of pious memory (885-891) to Emperor Basil I in 885 or 886 proves that no pope annulled the 869-870 Council, since Photius, who nonetheless died in the odor of sanctity, was still, at the time, trying to have the former council abrogated. See Fr. Grumel's "La Lettre du Pape Étienne V a l'empereur Basile Ier" on pp. 129-136 of the 1953 edition of Revue de etudes byzantines; the letter, according to p. 137, is from the manuscript Sinaiticus gr. 1117, 326v-328v. Fr. Dvornik of pious memory did not address this in his monumental work, The Photian Schism.