A lot of Catholic apologists (I’m Catholic but I don’t consider myself an apologist) use 1 Clement to support the Catholic belief in papal authority and infallibility. I’m not looking to challenge the doctrine; I’m curious about how good a defense it actually provides. I’ve read the letter and I have some concerns that it isn’t a big help in supporting the doctrine.
I understand that Clement is writing to a church other than Rome where he is bishop but Paul felt that he had the authority to correct wayward churches and he was not a bishop of any church. Also, around the same time as Clement, Ignatius of Antioch wrote to a series of churches. His letters seem to be more encouraging than corrective but, if I remember right (it’s been a while since I read his letters), he did bring up some points also. At any rate, he felt that he had the authority to write to these churches.
Even if 1 Clement does support papal authority, does it support papal infallibility? They are not the same. Obama has presidential authority but no one, not even his supporters, believe he is infallible. (He may think he is but that’s another issue.) What I see in 1 Clement is a Bishop of Rome speaking of truths that were already known but being disobeyed. Of course that is what a pope does 99.9% of the time but, unless Clement tells the Corinthians that they must listen to him because he is infallible, I don’t see how it can be used to support that doctrine.
Again, let me emphasize, I am not challenging the doctrine, just how well 1 Clement supports it. Please, no posts that don’t address that issue. I’m not interested in discussing whether or not it’s true or any other evidence pro or con. I’m looking for light, not heat.