Is This List by Catholic Answers All Wrong?

So, as we’re all Catholic answers fans, perhaps you’ve come across this article on their site:

catholic.com/tracts/peters-primacy

It seemed excellent and used it in debating an acqauintance. He found fault with the following quote on that page:

Cyprian of Carthage

“The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ he says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.’ . . . On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was *, but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. So too, all [the apostles] are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?” (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4; 1st edition [A.D. 251]).

But he came across this version instead, which not only does not confirm the Catholic perspective but seems to speak against it:

A]nd although after His resurrection He bestows equal power upon all the Apostles, and says: ‘As the Father has sent me, I also send you. Receive ye the Holy Spirit: if you forgive the sins of anyone, they will be forgiven him; if you retain the sins of anyone, they will be retained,’ yet that He might display unity, He established by His authority the origin of the same unity as beginning from one. Surely the rest of the Apostles also were that which Peter was, endowed with an equal partnership of office and of power.

His objections were astonishing and seem fairly intact:

Well lets focus on on the quote by Cyprian of Carthage in his work The Unity of the Catholic Church since that is the strongest quote for primacy pre-schism. I looked it up and found the Christian Classics Ethereal Library translation that is radically different than your translation. This Catholic translation from Eternal Word Television Network ewtn.com/faith/teachings/churc1.htm

also disagrees with your translation. This source, another Catholic source, also disagrees with your translation: newadvent.org/fathers/050701.htm This issue is explained in the Encyclopedia Britannica article on St. Cyprian, he wrote two drafts of chapter 4 where it talks about Peter’s Primacy, as the article says he did not accept Rome’s jurisdictional prerogatives. Thus your draft is the one in error: britannica.com/EBchecked/top#ref109285

So really, it’s hard to see how, in spite of all that, the quote on the list could be correct. If even EWTN puts it differently, and the Encyclopedia, then *well. And if so, that makes one rather worried about the entire list. Is this list a reliable tool? Thank you. :slight_smile:

Cyprian Treatise 1:4

  1. If any one consider and examine these things, there is no need for lengthened discussion and arguments. There is easy proof for faith in a short summary of the truth. The Lord speaks to Peter, saying, I say unto you, that you are Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. And again to the same He says, after His resurrection, Feed my sheep. And although to all the apostles, after His resurrection, He gives an equal power, and says, As the Father has sent me, even so send I you: Receive the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins you remit, they shall be remitted unto him; and whose soever sins you retain, they shall be retained; John 20:21 yet, that He might set forth unity, He arranged by His authority the origin of that unity, as beginning from one. Assuredly the rest of the apostles were also the same as was Peter, endowed with a like partnership both of honour and power; but the beginning proceeds from unity. Which one Church, also, the Holy Spirit in the Song of Songs designated in the person of our Lord, and says, My dove, my spotless one, is but one. She is the only one of her mother, elect of her that bare her. Song of Songs 6:9 Does he who does not hold this unity of the Church think that he holds the faith? Does he who strives against and resists the Church trust that he is in the Church, when moreover the blessed Apostle Paul teaches the same thing, and sets forth the sacrament of unity, saying, There is one body and one spirit, one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God? Ephesians 4:4

newadvent.org/fathers/050701.htm

Unfortunately, the link to the Encyclopedia he provided does not work.

Beyond this: all roads seem to point to this one work:

Giles, E., ed. Documents Illustrating Papal Authority: A.D. 96-454. London: S.P.C.K., 1952. p. 53

The following is taken from this website. calledtocommunion.com/2010/09/st-cyprian-on-the-unity-of-the-church/

Q. Some persons claim that St. Cyprian believed all bishops sit in St. Peter Chair. Is that true, and if not, why do they believe that?

A. St. Cyprian nowhere says that all bishops sit in St. Peter’s Chair. But the mistaken notion that he believed that all bishops sit in St. Peter’s Chair comes from something he wrote inEpistle 26:Our Lord, whose precepts and admonitions we ought to observe, describing the honour of a bishop and the order of His Church, speaks in the Gospel, and says to Peter: “I say unto you, That you are Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Thence, through the changes of times and successions, the ordering of bishops and the plan of the Church flow onwards; so that the Church is founded upon the bishops, and every act of the Church is controlled by these same rulers.In this epistle St. Cyprian is writing to the lapsed, explaining that reconciliation with the Church comes only through reconciliation with her bishops. After quoting Matthew 16:18-19, he says that the Church is founded on the bishops. But he isn’t saying that all bishops equally enjoy the authority of the keys given to St. Peter, or that the unity of the Church is not determined through communion with the bishop of Rome. He is speaking of the bishops insofar as they remain in communion with the episcopal successor of St. Peter at Rome, and thus are not in schism from the Church. Insofar as they are not in schism from the bishop of Rome, they participate in that authority which Christ entrusted to St. Peter. As St. Cyprian explains in the quotations I cited inThe Chair of St. Peter, the bishop of Rome possesses that authority directly fromthe succession, not by way of participation in the stewardship of the keys possessed by another contemporary bishop or set of contemporary bishops. So the two statements (i.e. the one in Epistle 26 that the Church is founded on the bishops, and the other in the quotations from St. Cyprian in “The Chair of St. Peter” on the unique authority of the bishop of Rome as successor of St. Peter) are fully compatible. To treat St. Cyprian’s statement in Epistle 26 as a rejection or denial of all the other things he says about the unique authority of the episcopal successor of St. Peter at Rome, would be to misinterpret St. Cyprian, and make him out to be contradicting himself. The bishops of the Catholic Church, whether gathered together in ecumenical council or scattered around the world though remaining in full communion with the episcopal successor of St. Peter in Rome, exercise the power of the keys of the Kingdom, as explain in Chapter III ofLumen Gentium.Mkvine

Here’s the EWTN translation of the excerpt:*He established by His authority the origin of the same unity as beginning from one. Surely the rest of the Apostles also were that which Peter was, endowed with an equal partnership of office and of power, but the beginning proceeds from unity, that the Church of Christ may be shown to be one. This one Church, also, the Holy Spirit in the Canticle of Canticles designates in the person of the Lord and says: ‘One is my dove, my perfect one is but one, she is the only one of her mother, the chosen one of her that bore her.’ Does he who does not hold this unity think that he holds the faith? Does he who strives against the Church and resists her think that he is in the Church, when too the blessed Apostle Paul teaches this same thing and sets forth the sacrament of unity saying: ‘One body and one Spirit, one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God’?*I’m not sure how that’s supposed to be against Peter’s primacy when he is cited as the source of beginning and the source of unity.

Cyprian, for any of the sparring he did with Pope Stephen over the issue of heretical baptism, relented to the authority of the Pope in the final order. During the debate period, Cyprian sought the Pope’s approval on the matter:We have brought these things, dearest brother, to your knowledge, for the sake of our mutual honour and sincere affection; believing that, according to the truth of your religion and faith, those things which are no less religious than true will be approved by you. (Cyprian, letter to Stephen, 3, 255 A.D.)Pope Stephen’s teaching was the victorious one. And as we know from Augustine’s historical account of the matter, Cyprian subordinated his own view to Pope Stephen’s for the sake of unity of which Cyprian so often spoke with regard to Rome:
Seek counsel from the blessed Cyprian himself. See how much he considered to depend upon the blessing of unity, from which he did not sever himself to avoid the communion of those who disagreed with him; how, though he considered that those who were baptized outside the communion of the Church had no true baptism, he was yet willing to believe that, by simple admission into the Church, they might, merely in virtue of the bond of unity, be admitted to a share in pardon. For thus he solved the question which he proposed to himself in writing as follows to Jubaianus: “But some will say, ‘What then will become of those who, in times past, coming to the Church from heresy, were admitted without baptism?’ The Lord is able of His mercy to grant pardon, and not to sever from the gifts of His Church those who, being out of simplicity admitted to the Church, have in the Church fallen asleep.” (Augustine, On Baptism, II.18)

Quote:
A]nd although after His resurrection He bestows equal power upon all the Apostles, and says: ‘As the Father has sent me, I also send you. Receive ye the Holy Spirit: if you forgive the sins of anyone, they will be forgiven him; if you retain the sins of anyone, they will be retained,’ yet that He might display unity, He established by His authority the origin of the same unity as beginning from one. Surely the rest of the Apostles also were that which Peter was, endowed with an equal partnership of office and of power.

And now let’s look at the real quote, with the important ending that is missing from above. When seen in this light, this quote and the one on the thread that you are quoting to your friend say the SAME thing.

Notice the unity beginning from one. The one is Peter.

If any one consider and examine these things, there is no need for lengthened discussion and arguments. There is easy proof for faith in a short summary of the truth. The Lord speaks to Peter, saying, I say unto you, that you are Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. And again to the same He says, after His resurrection, Feed my sheep. And although to all the apostles, after His resurrection, He gives an equal power, and says, As the Father has sent me, even so send I you: Receive the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins you remit, they shall be remitted unto him; and whose soever sins you retain, they shall be retained; (John 20:21) yet, that He might set forth unity, He arranged by His authority the origin of that unity,** as beginning from one.** Assuredly the rest of the apostles were also the same as was Peter, endowed with a like partnership both of honour and power;** but the beginning proceeds from unity.** (De catholicae ecclesiae unitate, 4)

St. Cyprian’s answer to the question, “How can we hold on to Christ, so as to avoid heresies and schisms?” is to point to the authority Christ invested in St. Peter, through whom the unity of the Church is established and maintained. According to St. Cyprian, “there is no need for lengthened discussions and arguments.” That is because the way to avoid heresy and schism is not essentially a matter of debate or argument, but of authority. St. Peter, by Christ’s ordination, is the origin or principle of the Church’s visible unity. Though all the Apostles were equal as Apostles, yet there is among them a divinely established order, by which they participate in the unity that comes from above. Christ made St. Peter the rock upon which the visible unity of the Church is ever established and preserved. So long as the faithful cling to unity with St. Peter, they thereby avoid the errors of heresy and schism.

in qua unica Cathedra uniias alt omnibus servaretur. This is the doctrine so often and so clearly expressed by St. Cyprian, cf. e.g. Una ecclesia a Christo Domino nostro super Petrum, origine unitatis et ratione fundata (Ep. Ixx, 3), and Petro primum Dominus, super quern aedificavit Ecclesiam, et unde unitatis originem instituit et ostendit, potestatem istam dedit (Ep. Ixxiii, 3), and Deus unus est et Christus unus, et una Ecclesia, et Cathedra una, super Petrum Domini voce fundata (xliii, 5) .

Peace

I just want to point out that I don’t think the Cyprian quote is the strongest pro-primacy one before the Schism. I think the comments by the Ecumenical Councils of Chalcedon and Ephesus are stronger, because those Councils affirm that the bishop of Rome is the head of the Church, that he has a right to depose bishops in the East, and they seek his ratification in order for the Councils to be valid. (Admittedly, Chalcedon is more clear than Ephesus about this, because Ephesus doesn’t explicitly say, by my reading anyway, that the pope’s ratification is necessary. But Chalcedon does.)

I also think St. Irenaeus has stronger comments about the primacy of the Church of Rome. He even says it is necessary to maintain communion with the Church of Rome and implies that it cannot fall into heresy, which is an early support for papal infallibility.

[quote]I looked it up and found the Christian Classics Ethereal Library translation that is radically different than your translation. This Catholic translation from Eternal Word Television Network ewtn.com/faith/teachings/churc1.htm

also disagrees with your translation. This source, another Catholic source, also disagrees with your translation: newadvent.org/fathers/050701.htm This issue is explained in the Encyclopedia Britannica article on St. Cyprian, he wrote two drafts of chapter 4 where it talks about Peter’s Primacy, as the article says he did not accept Rome’s jurisdictional prerogatives. Thus your draft is the one in error: britannica.com/EBchecked/top#ref109285So really, it’s hard to see how, in spite of all that, the quote on the list could be correct.
[/quote]

The Catholic Encyclopedia presents an alternative explanation of the two versions. In their explanation, if I understand it correctly, St. Cyprian sent the book “On the Unity of the Catholic Church” to Pope Cornelius on the occasion of a papal schism started by Novatian. If their explanation is correct, it seems that St. Cyprian added the comments about the one chair of Peter and the need to remain in communion with Rome as a way of scolding the Novatianist schismatics. If that is to be believed, then it seems the more pro-papal version is the later edition.

It is interesting to me that the Encyclopedia Brittanica and the Catholic Encyclopedia seem to present contrary explanations of the two editions. Brittanica seems to say that St. Cyprian edited out the more pro-papal comments, while the Catholic Encyclopedia seems to say he edited them in. It seems to me that we should judge which one is correct by examining the evidence. What evidence have they presented?

Brittanica’s evidence seems to be, in your words, “he wrote two drafts of chapter 4 where it talks about Peter’s Primacy, as the article says he did not accept Rome’s jurisdictional prerogatives.”

What evidence do they have that St. Cyprian did not accept Rome’s jurisdictional prerogatives? I think the evidence suggests the contrary. For example, in 254 A.D., St. Cyprian wrote to Pope Stephen to urge him to depose a bishop in France. (Letter 66) If he didn’t believe in Rome’s jurisdictional prerogatives, why did he appeal to the pope to depose someone in another country?

Another reason to doubt Brittanica’s explanation and accept the Catholic Encyclopedia’s is that the Catholic Encyclopedia’s fits other data we know. For example, we know that St. Cyprian opposed the Novatianist schism when it started, and sent Pope Cornelius a letter saying so and including some other documents. Letter 41 says so. That fits what the Catholic Enyclopedia says about the occasion for his editing in the comments about remaining in communion with the chair of Peter.

For these reasons, I think we should accept the explanation of this issue by the Catholic Encyclopedia, and regard the edition with the more pro-papal comments as an authentic expression of the mind of St. Cyprian.

I also agree with a previous poster who commented that the other edition is not anti-papal. The edition that lacks the comments about there being one chair of Peter still says that Jesus built His Church on Peter. It also says that the unity of the Church proceeds from Peter, and when he says that we must remain in communion with this Church, his remarks about the Church proceeding from Peter form the backdrop. To me, that is evidence that we must remain in communion with Rome, even though it is not as explicit as it is in the edition with the more pro-papal comments.

If even EWTN puts it differently, and the Encyclopedia, then *well. *And if so, that makes one rather worried about the entire list. Is this list a reliable tool? Thank you. :slight_smile:

I believe EWTN took its translation from New Advent, and New Advent took its translation from a compilation of Church Fathers’ writings by Philip Schaff, a Protestant. Catholic Answers, on the other hand, took their translation from William Jurgens, a Catholic. That could explain why they are different. I don’t think it has any bearing on the utility of the list.

Let me know if that helps. God bless!

But it would be nice to know EXACTLY where CA got that quote which was, up until now, very useful.

I would be hesitant to quote it again until I know more. :frowning:

There are two recensions of this portion of St. Cyprian’s “The Unity of the Catholic Church.” The first recension is what is used by CA in the referenced article. It directly and accurately quotes Williams Jurgens’ translation.

The second recension is the one that is being linked to by the OP; probably Phillip Schaff’s translation.

If CA is to be criticized, it would be for not including both recensions; which are held by Jurgens and other scholars to both be written by St. Cyprian.

Wait, so they’re completely different documents/writings?

Thank you, Dmar, for all that research, it seems helpful.

To those who seem to think I thought his quote was aagainst the church I don’t necessarily think that. It’s just that the alternate version of the quote does not strongly support the Catholic view.

Correct, both written by St. Cyprian. Jurgens has both recensions sitting side by side so you can compare them. If you like, I can scan those pages and pm them to you.

You are wrong there. Both quotes essentially say the same thing, and are both pro Petrine primacy. Christ prayed for unity. Cyprian says in both epistles that the unity flows from one (Peter). Ergo, you take away the beginning from which the unity flows (the papacy), and what you get is disunity. I think it is easy to look around and see that has come to fruition in many places. Once again I also state in the epistle you quoted, you left out the end sentence, which then changed St. Cyprian’s whole meaning.

St Cyprian wrote the same letter twice, altered the second time, the first is in line with Romes teaching, the second a few years later is a result of his disputes with the Pope over re-baptism. This…

Correct, both written by St. Cyprian. Jurgens has both recensions sitting side by side so you can compare them. If you like, I can scan those pages and pm them to you.

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