History of Apostolic Succession

Q. Catholics claim that their bishops date all the way back to the Apostles, but I don’t see any evidence of this. Do they have any historical records?

A. Yes we do! Catholics believe the Pope is the local Bishop of Rome, as well as the Supreme Pontiff. In light of that, the line of Popes that go all the way back to St. Peter is proof of Apostolic Succession. Besides the numerous writings of the Popes, which are so many that I dare not list them all here, there is also a list of the Popes at the Vatican City (click on the attachment for full view).

And here is a full list of the Popes, with antipopes as well:

More on popes and anti-popes here:
The Pope: newadvent.org/cathen/12260a.htm
Antipope: newadvent.org/cathen/01582a.htm

Regarding the writings of the Popes, many, but not all of them, can be found online:
1 Peter: vatican.va/archive/ENG0839/__P121.HTM
2 Peter: vatican.va/archive/ENG0839/__P127.HTM
Clement: newadvent.org/fathers/1010.htm
Clement: newadvent.org/fathers/1011.htm
Clement: newadvent.org/fathers/0803.htm
Clement: newadvent.org/fathers/080400.htm
Clement: newadvent.org/fathers/0808.htm
Papal Encyclicals: papalencyclicals.net/popelist.htm

If you want more papal writings, you can write to the Vatican, since they are in the Secret Archives. It is worthwhile to note that every nation, including Vatican City, has its own secret archives, and that certain archives are opened after many years after a person’s death - while others are only opened by request, due to the delicate nature of either the content or the paper on which the content is written (some of the books in the Secret Archives are so old that if you touch them they’ll crumble to dust). You can write to the Vatican here: vatican.usembassy.gov/Vatican/Writing.asp

Thanks for this list.

It is even good to know that the Church does not just boast the line of succession to Peter but also that she is the only one church that is “one holy apostolic and catholic.”

That engraver must have nerves of steel :stuck_out_tongue:

He’s gonna have a lot of work to do when the block fills up with names, but, than he’ll have something to do for God’s glory by making a new bigger stone.

Im going to Misano next weekend to watch the Motogp. Rome’s only some 3 hours away from Misano so I’m looking forward to visiting the vatican afterwards. Useful links BTW - thanks. Yeah I know, MotoGp then the Vatican - priorities eh?? :stuck_out_tongue:

Thank you for the list. Remember, the Orthodox also claim apostolic succession, and the Catholic Church does recognize their apostolic succession, sacraments, and Holy Orders. So apostolic succession is not only through the Bishop of Rome (the Pope), but the Bishops in general.

Also, apostolic succession is not just being able to trace the bishops back to the Apostles. It is also maintaining the Apostolic Faith. Therefore, any breaks in the faith, or additions or subtractions, causes a break in apostolic succession, regardless of whether someone can trace their bishops back. This is the case with Anglicans, for example (at least in the eyes of the Catholic Church).

Be sure to wear a long sleeve shirt and pants, it’s mandatory in the Vatican. There is free water everywhere. No resturants in the Vatican, but plenty around (the food is expensive, though). Tours are slow and loud, but you get lots of information. Don’t wander off or you’ll get in trouble with the Swiss Guard. Take lots of pictures, have a good time, meet new friends, and remember that everything you can see in the Vatican is already on www.vatican.va :stuck_out_tongue:

That’s why I created this thread.

Apostolicae Curae assumes a break caused by a defective form of consecration, and an invalid intent, in the use of that form.

Anglicans have a different view of the matter, as you might expect.


Nice. Just as long as we all know that the “history of apostolic succession” involves not only a line back to the Apostles, but a consistency in doctrine.

Yep! I just wanted to show a certain user on here that the bishops go all the way back to the Apostles. I forget his/her handle, but he asked about the question I posted.

Thank you. Yes, Anglicans definitely have a different view of that, especially since I have heard some Anglicans say that what makes their orders invalid according to Apostolicae Curae also makes Roman Catholic orders invalid as well. :shrug: I haven’t looked into that.

You should look into it, if you want. All good things - truth, beauty, matter, spirit, love, sex, glory, honor, joy, power, etc. - come from God and point to God and help lead one to God, so if you seek the truth, it will only do you good - even if in a paradoical way.

That approach was first taken in Saepius Officio, the reply of the Church of England Archbishops to Apostolicae Curae, and it is also found in such Anglican rejoinders as Dom Gregory Dix’s THE QUESTION OF ANGLICAN ORDERS. It is slightly flawed, in that it addresses mainly the defective form point, and not that of invalid intent, that has to be considered with it. The best case for the Anglican position, paradoxically, is found in two books written by a RC priest, Fr. J. J. Hughes’ ABSOLUTELY NULL AND UTTERLY VOID and STEWARDS OF THE LORD. The best exposition of the RC position is in Clark’s ANGLICAN ORDERS AND DEFECT OF INTENTION.

I’m Anglican and don’t accept the conclusion of Apostolicae Curae, which has been a hobby of mine for around 10 years.


I’m pretty sure it’s done me good. In fact, my hobby of book collecting as a whole has done so.


If you don’t have it, you should add the Autobiography of St. Margaret Mary to your collection. It is an amazing book! :slight_smile:

Tell me about it.


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