Church fathers submitting to Rome


Hi again,
Does anyone have writings from early fathers submitting to Rome? In my discourse with my Bible Christian friend she has quoted a number of saints and early fathers who are in disagreement with Rome about one thing or another. My position is that surely there was discussion among the learned of the time about any given issue, but that once something is decreed by Rome, the fathers submitted.
Specifically Rufinus, Augustine, Justin Martyr and Athanasius. She has mentioned a few others who I’ve never heard of, but these guys, I think, were big!
Any help is appreciated.


Well, I’m curious as to what specifically they were disagreeing with Rome about. It may not have been defined yet, or it may not have been an issue up for definition at all. Many people, for example, disagreed with JPII’s views on capital punishment, but they remained perfectly faithful Catholics.

We’d really have to know what your friend is refering to in order to give you the best help.


Martin Luther disagreed with Rome, but they have no problem following his ideas, do they?

In fact, Martin Luther disagreed with John Calvin, and John Calvin disagreed with Ulrich Zwingli, who thought they were both nuts. This doesn’t stop your friend from paying attention to ideas from these men, does it?


Look at the Church of Corinth who submitted to Clement (circa 90AD?) when he wrote them and told them to reinstate the priests and bishops that had been appointed per Apostolic Succession.

When they got the letter, they read it each Sunday in the town square for months, if not years, in celebration.

St. Jerome disagreed with the Council of Hippo on the OT Canon, but gave in to their authority.

I could find more tonight, if necessary.



These passages are way over my head, so they may not read as my friend has claimed, but I’m stuck nonetheless. Here is a paste of what she found re: the deutero-canonical books of the OT.

Athanasius referred to a canon much closer to that of evangelicalism as the
canon received by the tradition of the church:

“I also write, by way of remembrance, of matters with which you are
acquainted, influenced by the need and advantage of the Church. In
proceeding to make mention of these things, I shall adopt, to commend my
undertaking, the pattern of Luke the Evangelist, saying on my own account:
‘Forasmuch as some have taken in hand,’ to reduce into order for themselves
the books termed apocryphal, and to mix them up with the divinely inspired
Scripture, concerning which we have been fully persuaded, as they who from
the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word, delivered to the
fathers; it seemed good to me also, having been urged thereto by true
brethren, and having learned from the beginning, to set before you the books
included in the Canon, and handed down, and accredited as Divine…There
are, then, of the Old Testament, twenty-two books in number; for, as I have
heard, it is handed down that this is the number of the letters among the
Hebrews…there are other books besides these not indeed included in the
Canon, but appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us,
and who wish for instruction in the word of godliness. The Wisdom of
Solomon, and the Wisdom of Sirach, and Esther, and Judith, and Tobit”
(Festal Letter 39:2-4, 39:7)

Even Jerome didn’t view the books of the Apocrypha as “inspired”:

“As, then, the Church reads Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees, but
does not admit them among the canonical Scriptures, so let it read these two
volumes for the edification of the people, not to give authority to
doctrines of the Church.” - Jerome (Prefaces to the Books of the Vulgate
Version of the Old Testament, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs,

“we may be assured that what is not found in our list must be placed amongst
the Apocryphal writings. Wisdom, therefore, which generally bears the name
of Solomon, and the book of Jesus, the Son of Sirach, and Judith, and
Tobias, and the Shepherd are not in the canon. The first book of Maccabees I
have found to be Hebrew, the second is Greek, as can be proved from the very
style.” - Jerome (Prefaces to the Books of the Vulgate Version of the Old
Testament, The Books of Samuel and Kings,


Another quote confounding me!

Apparently, this critic of Christianity didn’t see the sort of unity the RCC
claims for early church history.

Early church history gives us numerous examples of councils that were
accepted in one region of the world, but rejected in another (the seventh
council of Carthage, the council of Sardica, etc.). One bishop would condemn
another, one council would contradict another, etc. We see this even with
ecumenical councils. The Roman Catholic historian Eamon Duffy gives us an

“But, in addition to its doctrinal work, the Council of Constantinople
issued a series of disciplinary canons, which went straight to the heart of
Roman claims to primacy over the whole Church. The Council decreed that
appeals in the cases of bishops should be heard within the bishop’s own
province - a direct rebuttal of Rome’s claim to be the final court of appeal
in all such cases. It went on to stipulate that ‘the Bishop of
Constantinople shall have the pre-eminence in honour after the Bishop of
Rome, for Constantinople is New Rome’. This last canon was totally
unacceptable to Rome for two reasons. In the first place it capitualted to
the imperial claim to control of the Church, since Constantinople had
nothing but the secular status of the city to justify giving it this
religious precedence. Worse, however, the wording implied that the primacy
of Rome itself was derived not from its apostolic pedigree as the Church of
Peter and Paul, but from the fact that it had once been the capital of
empire. Damasus [bishop of Rome] and his successors refused to accept the
canons” (Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes [New Haven and London:
Yale University Press, 1997], pp. 25-26)

I don’t expect you all to give me an entire history lesson, but help me understand history accurately.


The examples that you are given are not instances of Early Church Fathers refusing to submit to Rome. They are simply examples of people who held a contrary opinion on the Canon prior to definition.


Here is a good couple write ups on Deuterocanical books…

As for Church Fathers disagreeing with Rome, that’s actually OK, as long as they submitted. LOL!!! I have Tim Staple’s latest tape set on the Papacy and the primacy of Rome is very apparent in many early Christian writings. Just go to Home of CA and do a search for primacy of Rome and you will come up with GOBs of great articles!!! Here is just one of many.


All those quotes show is a difference in opinion before a final decision was made. In those cases they were not disagreeing with Rome at all; Rome had not yet decided on the matter.

The fact is that things were open for discussion, which led to councils, which led to Doctrinal Definitions. If a multitude of opinions on these issues wasn’t allowed at first, Councils never would have been necessary. In the Church, whenever a difference of opinion leads to contradictory conclusions that jeopardize the Faith, as in the case of the Judaizers in Acts, a Council settles it and THEN all must submit to the decision.

Your friend is greatly misunderstanding the Church.


To be more specific about the deuterocanonicals, there were many people who made comments about what should be taken as canonical, before the canon was defined at the end of the 4th century. That was one of the reasons why the canon of the Bible was defined, as there was so much confusion. But to take the New-Testament canon while rejecting the Old-Testament canon as defined by the councils of Rome, Hippo and Carthage (see here) is completely arbitrary. Of course, it isn’t arbitrary, as the Protestants reject the deuterocanonicals due to doctrinal reasons.


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