How can we refute this attack on the Office of the Papacy?

Every now and again I browse various Protestant and even some anti-Catholic websites just to see what the other guys are up to, and what they’re saying about us. Of course, I would never encourage anyone here to do so; and I will not violate this forum’s clearly stated rule of NOT posting links to anti-Catholic websites by posting the link to where I found this. I have also deleted an even worse link cited in the article. I have cut-and-pasted only what was needed for this particular thread.

I am asking my fellow Catholics to help me understand how this can be refuted. I am VERY strong in my Catholic Faith; but those who oppose the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and hate it for no good reason have their own apologetics; and if we are going to stand toe-to-toe with them and defend Holy Mother Church; we MUST have a ready defense, right? (see 1 Peter 3:15)

I am NOT asking for help with this so I can scurry back there and smite them with it. That would be a violation of this forum’s policy also; and I am convinced that nothing I or anyone else could tell them would ever sway them. I am asking so that I may be better armed to evangelize the “undecided”, the “unsure”, and especially the “misinformed” who have open minds - the most basic mission of Catholic Answers.

Let me write the case against the claim of Rome that Peter was there for 25 years. I have used sources for research, mainly this site ******* but where these points are found are in scripture.

Around 45 AD, Peter was put into prison in Jerusalem (Acts 12:3-4).

Around 50 AD, Peter is at the Council of Jerusalem. (Acts 15 and possibly Galatians 2).

Peter was also involved in the Incident at Antioch (Galatians 2:11-12). It is not made clear whether this is after or before the Council at Jerusalem but I personally think that it is after 50 AD.

The church in Rome was already flourishing when Paul wrote his Epistle to the Romans about AD 57, he greets some fifty people in Rome by name, but not Peter whom he knew. Surely if Peter was the bishop and was busy building the church then Paul would had greeted the disciple.

When Luke writes about Paul’s two year stay in Rome for two years (Acts 28) there is no mention of Peter. Again, if Peter was being an important and busy bishop then surely there would be at least one mention of his name.

We hear of Peter in the city of Babylon (1 Peter 5:13). As you have read in my previous post that I speculate that Babylon is a codename for Rome. Now, I am of this opinion, but if this is true then that would make it the only mention of Peter in Rome in the whole of scripture. If my position is wrong then that makes the Papist claim even less supported.

Four years after Paul wrote Romans he was imprisoned Rome in order to stand trial before Caesar, and Christians at Rome came to meet him (Acts 28:15). Peter is not mentioned.

We find Paul not only wanting to establish the Church at Rome, but he emphatically tells us that his policy was NEVER to build upon another man’s foundation (Romans 15:20).

When Paul arrived in Rome he called together the chief Jews (Acts 28:17), and taught them about Christianity (Acts 28:22-23). But what is amazing is that these chief Jewish elders claimed they knew very little even about the basic teachings of Christ. All they knew was that ‘‘as concerning this sect, we know that everywhere it is spoken against" (Verse 22). Now, what does all of this mean? How could the Jewish leaders know so little about the Gospel, if Peter, who was himself a strongly partisan Jew, had been preaching constantly in Rome for 20 long years before this time? This again is clear proof Peter had not been in Rome prior to 59 A.D.

Paul remained in Rome, in his own hired house for two years. During that time he wrote Epistles to the Ephesians, the Philippians, the Colossians, Philemon, and to the Hebrews. And while Paul mentions others as being in Rome during that period, he nowhere mentions Peter.

Four years later (near 65 A.D.), he was again sent back a prisoner to Rome. This time he had to appear before the throne of Caesar and was sentenced to die. Paul describes these circumstances at length in 2nd Timothy. Paul said that no man came to him and that they forsook him. Would the bishop of Rome forsake the apostle Paul?

Before Paul died in 65 AD, he tells us that the only one who was with him was Luke (2 Timothy 4:11).

So, with all this knowledge it makes the claim seem rather unlikely. Now, the question is why would Rome make up a lie? I say that they needed it to legitimize the church that was governed by the Roman Empire, an enemy that persecuted many Christians both before and after conversion.

So… Can anyone help me with this?

Thank you all!

Sounds like a job for the history-studious folks among us. But here’s what stands out to me the most up there (caution: gross paraphrasing ahead):

-“Paul didn’t mention Peter, therefore Peter wasn’t there.” - That’s a shallow way to look at it on their part, and I would point that out. There was no reason for Paul to mention Peter in any of his letters, because his letters were written to Christians who were falling back on old ways, subjecting themselves to circumcision, etc. We have to remember that Peter ALSO wrote letters, and we have at least 2 of those in the Bible.

-“Peter must certainly not have been in Rome in the years [whatever], and therefore could not have been the Pope.” - Why does this matter? We have historical accounts that show Peter in Antioch and then in Rome, and having died in Rome. Why should he have been in Rome for his entire ministry in order to be Pope, or First of the Apostles? It’s an irrelevant point.

-“Only Luke was with Paul in 65 AD [visiting him in prison, right? Isn’t that what the passage is talking about?] and everyone else “forsook” him, proving that Peter could not have been the Pope.” - Another fallacious outlook. Why should Peter have gone to visit Paul when he himself had a price on his head? Peter ALSO was martyred, and as the Head of Christ’s Church, it only makes sense that he would not expedite his own execution until God let him know it was his time. I don’t see anything unreasonable in Peter not visiting Paul in this time. On the contrary, I would expect him NOT to, since he has the Flock to shepherd, per Christ’s clear instructions in Jn 21:15-17.

Thank you kindly, ahs. Those seem like reasonable points to me.

Anyone else?

History buffs are welcome to comment…

You are very welcome. I want to echo the invite to history buffs! :smiley:
It would be good to have a historical timeline for where Peter was at what time, etc. *

ETA: I did find 8 examples of ECF writings, putting Peter in Rome, dating PRIOR to the alleged “Romanizing” of the Church in the early 300’s. These don’t answer anything regarding the timeframe of that OP, but might be helpful:

"The blessed Peter, the chosen, the preeminent, the first of the disciples, for whom alone and himself the Savior paid tribute [Mt 17:27], quickly seized and comprehended the saying…” (Clement of Alexandria, Who is the rich man that shall be saved? 21, AD 200)

Quoting Mt 16:18-19, Tertulian rebukes, “What kind of man are you, subverting and changing what was the clear intent of the Lord when he himself conferred this upon Peter? Upon YOU, he says, I will build my Church; and I will give to YOU the keys.” (emphasis in original, Tertullian, Modesty 21, AD 220)

Cyprian of Carthage explains likewise as Tertullian and Clement, and emphasizes, “Indeed, the others were also what Peter was [apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, by which it is made clear that there is one Church and one chair…” (Cyprian, Unity of the Catholic Church 4; first edition, Treatise 1:4, AD 251)

Ignatius of Antioch, writing to the Romans, gives evidence that Peter was in Rome: “I do not, as Peter and Paul, issue commandments unto you. They were apostles; I am but a condemned man: They were free, while I am, even now, a servant.” (Ignatius, Letter to the Romans 4, AD 110)

“You [Pope Soter] have thus by such an admonition bound together the planting of Peter and Paul at Rome and Corinth. For both of them planted and taught us in Corinth. And they taught together in Italy, and suffered martyrdom at the same time.” (Dionysius of Corinth, Letter to Pope Soter, AD 170…in Eusebius’ “Church History” 2:25:8)

“Matthew also issued among the Hebrews a written Gospel in their own language, while Peter and Paul were evangelizing in Rome and laying the foundation of the Church.” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3:1:1, AD 189)

“Since moreover, you are close upon Italy, you have Rome, from which there comes even into our own hands the very authority (of the apostles themselves) [sic]. How happy is its church, on which apostles poured forth all their doctrine along with their blood! Where Peter endures a passion like his Lord’s! Where Paul wins his crown in a death like John’s! Where the apostles John was first plunged, unhurt, into boiling oil, and thence remitted to his island exile!” (Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics 36, AD 200)

“Victor…was the thirteenth bishop of Rome from Peter.” (Eusabius, Church History 5:28:3, AD 312)*

There is some historic record that Peter was in Rome. There is no way anyone can prove he was never in Rome after he was named as Pope, unless you can account for his whereabouts every single day until he died. There is no way you can prove that, unless there is record of his incarceration somewhere else until the day he died. They aren’t claiming anything like that exists, and for that matter, they have no idea when he died, if they reject information about his death at Rome.

In a way it doesn’t really matter if Peter ever was in Rome, since many bishops and even some popes have never set foot in their diocese of jurisdiction due to war, persecution, dangers. They ministered to their flock by messengers, and epistles. Historic evidence from ancient times can always be challenged, but the evidence of Peter’s presence and death in Rome is probably far stronger than the proof of other ancient events that writer takes for granted.

But no matter what evidence you bring forth, you will not change anyone’s mind. They aren’t interested in Peter, they are interested in refuting the authority of the current pope and bishops. Even if you found DNA evidence that a Galilean fisherman with anger management issues, powerful faith, who had a history of name changes, and a certain fisherman brother, and had a Jewish mother in law known for healed illness and hospitality, and had written an autobiography called “Quo Vadis”, all while living on Vatican Hill, holding a certain church position, from which he would give annual talks called “Urbe and Orbe” signed copies of which we now have - that still wouldn’t change anyone’s mind. Their next step would be to attack the “so called successor, so called Pope Linus”… Pope Fiction: Answers to 30 Myths by Patrick Madrid

Perhaps some answers can be found in this book. It is not very long. I read it a few yrs ago.
It is no longer on my home library shelf, so I must’ve donated it or I would review it to see if it may be of help.

(after a quick search)
I found this article by Madrid:

See especially Fiction 3 which may be a help.


So he admits the letter of Peter is evidence of Peter being in Rome, but because it’s only one time, that means it didn’t REALLY happen, or something?!?!? Exactly how many times WOULD Peter have to state he was in Rome for him to believe it?

Are there other items only mentioned once in the NT that he doubts actually happened?

Or maybe, Peter was imprisoned at this time as well. They were executed about the same time.

Or as others noted, maybe he didn’t want to get caught, and that also explains why he uses code language for Rome (Babylon) and why Paul doesn’t mention him much, so that the Romans won’t know Peter is in Rome.

It’s always crucial to keep one’s eye closely on the actual texts and to keep in mind that Protestants are very poor at thinking about actual historical situations because they see scripture as a sort of super database into which all information has been categorically entered under specific files and failing to find a specific mention of St. Peter they assume his absence; they fail to understand that the agreement that Peter and Paul had that they should focus on separate communities does not mean that circumstances would never change.We find Paul having to go to the Roman Jews after having gone to the gentiles for years; it’s very likely that Peter’s pastoral work as a bishop involved many poor gentiles and that there were not many occasions after his early years that he would have been presenting the gospel to Jewish leaders who would have had little to do with him once he was immersed in the affairs of the pagan population. In Acts 28 specifically, they are professing ignorance of Paul’s case and his views - if these elders were 70 years d and they had heard Peter in their 40s or early 50s, it’s very unlikely they would have retained much knowledge of his teaching because he would have been written off as a sectarian.
As for Paul not mentioning being met by Peter in Rome, if he met the leaders then it can be understood that these were Peter’s assistants or part of the flock - there’s a certain re-reading back into the event the notion that the chief pastor would have to meet with the one who would later be understood to be the chief missionary. It would be very hard for a Protestant to grasp the fact that it would not be important for Peter to have some sort of meeting with Paul; it would be understood, from Paul mentioning the names he does mention, that the meeting was in accord with the local bishop’s consent.
As you may notice in your lengthy quotation, the author strings together his own historical construction without any foundation but his own conjectures in filling in what he views as.gaps which are not gaps at all.

Here is the chronological history from the original source:

Giovanni Ricciardi summarizes the 25 year sojourn of Peter based on this book this way:

The traditional dating, however, rests on the oldest known testimonies of chroniclers and ecclesiastical historians. Eusebius of Caesarea, who lived between the third and fourth centuries, for example, is the author of a , a type of universal chronology of the major events in civilian and ecclesiastical history. He sets Peter’s arrival in Rome in the year 42 and his martyrdom at 67. Peter’s sojourn in Rome has been calculated to have lasted for 25 years. This calculation could be based on one of the oldest known ecclesiastical chronologies written by Hippolytus. He presents the two figures who are generally believed to have succeeded Peter—Linus and Cletus (or Anacletus)—as having governed the Church with the apostle and not after his death. Hippolytus attributes a 12-year episcopate to both. If we add the two periods plus the year when Peter first arrived in Rome we can calculate that he was in Rome for 25 years.

So the bible is NOT the only source used by the CC while your protestant friend is stuck with the bible only.

My response would be pretty simple. The only source for history on the apostles comes from the Catholic Church (this includes the bible which the Catholic Church decided what went in it, how to organize it, and translated it into other languages) no one else has the records and no one else can claim to have them. That being the case obviously records that have been in the Church’s hands for approximately 2,000 years have been studied many many times and the the conclusion is always the same St Peter was the first Pope and all since have been in direct succession.

Now if he wants to discuss things about Christian history after 1517 then he is free to use other sources and draw crazy conclusions but before that no Protestant church existed so he has no choice but accept the finding of the Roman Catholic Church.

We hear of Peter in the city of Babylon (1 Peter 5:13). As you have read in my previous post that I speculate that Babylon is a codename for Rome. Now, I am of this opinion, but if this is true then that would make it the only mention of Peter in Rome in the whole of scripture.

End of discussion.

Babylon is Rome

“The Church here in Babylon, united with you by God’s election, sends you her greeting, and so does my son, Mark” (1 Pet. 5:13, Knox).

Babylon is a code-word for Rome. It is used that way multiple times in works like the Sibylline Oracles (5:159f), the Apocalypse of Baruch (2:1), and 4 Esdras (3:1).

Eusebius Pamphilius, in History of the Church, composed between the years 300 and 325 AD, noted that “It is said that Peter’s first epistle, in which he makes mention of Mark, was composed at Rome itself; and that he himself indicates this, referring to the city figuratively as Babylon” (2, 15, 4).

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