I think I found an error in "Pope Fiction"


A couple of days ago, I started reading the book Pope Fiction by Patrick Madrid. I’m not completely finished with the book yet, but what stands out to me is the following:

p.73 - A letter from St. Clement, Bishop of Rome, is cited. The letter is alleged to have been written in 80 A.D.

p. 317 (Appendix) - St. Clement is listed to have served as Pope only from the years 88 - 97.

I realize that the dating methods different scholars use might not match up exactly with each other, but how can such a discrepancy as this appear within the same book? Maybe I’m the one that’s missing something here, but does anyone have an explanation for this?


Have not read this book. My question is, did the author state that the letter attributed to Clement was written while he was pope? Or is it a letter from Clement who was the pope from 88-97?

That context would make your question clearer. And in the end, it may have been an editorial error. The author may have meant 90 A.D. and no one picked it up in the editorial process. The 8 is next to the 9 on the keyboard. Could be:rolleyes:


I think exoflare’s problem lies in the fact that the letter supposedly written in A.D.80 was written by Clement, *Bishop of Rome *- so he was Pope when he wrote the letter. However, Clement’s reign as Pope was from about 88 to 99 - so how could he have been Pope while writing the said letter?

I imagine it is just a misprint. The First Epistle of Clement - which may be the letter to which you refer was, I think, written around the year 96 to the Church at Corinth…but I can’t explain it definitely as I do not know of the book you are quoting from.


Bishop of Rome is a separate office from that of Pope - so Benedict XVI would still be Pope, by virtue of his election to that office, even if he wasn’t also Bishop of Rome. I guess it’s possible that there was a period where Clement was Bishop of Rome but not Pope???

Otherwise its probably just a typo that wasn’t picked up on. Perhaps send an email to Patrick Madrid and ask him about it?


It’s not a separate office. While there may be many bishops in Rome, the office of Pope (which is really just an affectionate title) is in its most basic description, the Bishop of Rome. Even when the Popes had to flee Rome, they kept the office and remained the bishops of that territory. In Clement’s time, the title Pope would not have even been used yet.The Bishop who presides over the particular Church located in Rome is the head and chief of the entire college of bishops and would have been treated as such (and expect treatment as such as St. Clement’s letter demonstrates).


It’s not a mis-print, anyone who has Jurgens 3-volume set is aware of the 80 AD date. Madrid is going by the Jurgens date for the letter, while virtually all scholarly lists of the Popes put Clement’s reign in the 90s (so Madrid follows that as well). But Jurgens would suggest an earlier reign for Clement. Fr. Jurgens explains his dating:

"The various early lists of the Bishops of Rome make Clement either the first, second, or third successor of St. Peter. The better evidence and that generally accepted would have him Peter’s third successor, following after Anencletus (also called Cletus)…

“The traditional dates of Clement’s pontificate, AD 92 to AD 101, are unworthy of credence. Believing that there is good evidence for dating his sole extant authentic writing c. AD 80, a work clearly written while he was Bishop of Rome, the present author dates Clement’s pontificate accordingly…In regard to the date of composition, there is an almost universal acceptance, for no good reason, of the date 96/98 AD. This dating is based upon an acceptance of the years 92-101 AD as constituting the term of Clement’s pontificate – dates which otherwise are taken seriously by no one! – and upon the opening words of the body of the letter…which are taken are referring to the persecution under Domitian, in order to fit the obscurely-alluded-to events into the period 92-101 AD. However, that there was a persecution under Domitian is a supposed fact which rests upon very slim evidence, and is itself scarcely more than a conjecture.” (Jurgens, Faith of the Early Fathers, volume 1, page 6-7)

Jurgens attempts to present “better internal evidence” for the 80 AD dating. Madrid should have adjusted his dating for Clement’s reign if he wanted to follow Jurgens in his dating. Madrid seems to follow the “standard” dating for Clement’s papacy later in his book. And most date the letter to about 95 AD as well (e.g. JND Kelly, Oxford Dictionary of Popes).

Phil P


This is probably the issue. If Madrid wanted to cite that method for dating Clement’s reign, he should have at least remained consistent with that throughout the entire book. :o I think he conveniently went with the earlier date in citing the apostolic letter because he figured that the earlier the date, the more convincing his argument would seem (that apostolic succession was an undisputed teaching, even from the earliest days of the church).

By the way, yes the author states in no uncertain terms that Clement was Pope at the time of that letter’s writing. Madrid states that Clement, in writing this letter, was “acting in the same capacity of leadership as Peter was told to by Christ”. So that definitely isn’t the issue.


Yes, that’s correct. I was referencing the Jurgens’ earlier date for the composition of the Epsitle, while the table at the end of the book lists the more commonly accepted dating for Clement’s reign as bishop of Rome. The fact that they weren’t synchronized and, even better, explained with a footnote, was an editorial oversight on my part. When we do a revised edition, I’ll be sure to fix that. Thanks for pointing it out.




Great book Patrick! :thumbsup:

I’ve never considered the possibility that St. Clement may not have been bishop of Rome at the time he wrote the 1st leter to the Corinthians. Its an interesting idea.

God bless,


Thanks. But I should clarify that I wasn’t suggesting that St. Clement was not bishop of Rome when he composed his Epistle to the Corinthians. What I meant was that I am more inclined to follow William Jurgens’ early dating for the Epistle (for the reasons he gave in volume one of “Faith of the Early Fathers”). The earlier date of its composition would necessarily entail an earlier reign for St. Clement as bishop of Rome than what is commonly believed.


My mistake. After looking through the thread, I can see that this was the point.

God bless,


Wow… when I posted this, I never imagined I’d get a response from the author himself! :smiley: Thanks a lot for clearing that up.


ex << Wow… when I posted this, I never imagined I’d get a response from the author himself! Thanks a lot for clearing that up. >>

Yes! And great book! Remember to buy it in bulk! :thumbsup:

Pope Fiction: Answers to 30 Myths and Misconceptions About the Papacy

I have to check my copy again, but all he needed to say in a footnote is something like “Fr. Jurgens dates the letter to 80 AD, and adjusts Clement’s reign as Pope accordingly.” And then mention the “standard” 95/96 AD date for the letter as well. Problem solved.

Phil P


Mr. Madrid… I had no idea you were registered here!! I recently… a couple of weeks ago bought “Pope Fiction” from St. Rita’s Bookstore in Port Charlotte, FL… I have to tell you… after I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down!! Thank you for writing the book!! I will be looking for more titles by you. I am a “cradle Catholic”…and in my late 50’s…but still can learn…and I did learn some things from your book!! Thanks again!!!:thumbsup:


That’s great to hear, Rob. Thank you.

You can get my other books at your local Catholic bookstore, as well as at my website: www.patrickmadrid.com.

As an aside, my new book is scheduled to be released next month (July) by Servant Books. It’s called 150 Bible Verses Every Catholic Should Know. I’ll be sending out an e-mail announcement about it to everyone who has joined my e-mail friends list (see my website) with info on a pre-release of the book, signed-by-the-author. I hope you find it helpful, too.


Hear, hear! Along with Stephen Ray’s “Upon This Rock”, “Pope Fiction” is a must-have for anyone who wants to understand the evidence in support of the papacy from the Apostolic Age forward.

Indeed, 99% of the attacks on the papacy we see in this forum could be most effectively addressed simply by directing them to Mr. Madrid’s book.


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