Letter to my mother's Anglican Priest


#1

I am going to post a letter I wrote to my mother’s Anglican Priest a few years ago. It has some arguments others may find usefull in defending the Papacy and celibacy.

It’s a little long, but I’ll post it in its entirety any way.

Dear Fr. …,

I wanted to follow up with you to let you how much I enjoyed our visit. I also wanted to give you my address so you can send me your paper on purgatory (if you would like), and anything else you have written. When you told me why you became a priest - because you had a great desire to share the Gospel with people and bring them into the Church - it was a joy to hear. I can tell that you still have a great amount of zeal.

I want to address two points that we discussed: one is the Papacy, and the other is celibacy. I wanted to discuss the Papacy because that really seems to be one of the main points of disagreement (separation) between the Anglican Church and the Catholic Church. And I want to address celibacy because if you ever find that you have to leave the Anglican Church, the Catholic Church would love to have you; and when an Anglican priest joins the Catholic Church they are often allowed to enter the Catholic Priesthood as married men. I know you are not considering the Roman Catholic Church at this time, but you never know if you may in the future.

Celibacy: Priestly celibacy is not a doctrine of the Church, but merely a discipline. Many of the Eastern Rites of the Church (that are in union with Rome) do allow married priests. Even the Western Rite allows married priests if they convert from the Lutheran, Anglican, or Episcopal Church. The reason for celibacy is simply because the Church believes that a wife and family can be a hindrance to priestly work; and conversely, priestly work (since it is more than just a job), can be a hindrance to raising a family. That is not to say that a priest could not do a good job raising a family, or that a married priest would be unable to perform his priestly duties. But it does have the potential of being a problem since he would be somewhat divided between his family at home and his family at Church. “He that is without a wife is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God. But he that is with a wife is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided” (1 Cor 7: 32-33).

I remember listening to a radio show several years ago. The forum was a round table discussion of Protestant Pastor’s wives. They were talking about how difficult it was to raise a family when their husbands are so busy with church. They felt like there was competition between the family at home and the church family. That is precisely one of the main reasons for priestly celibacy, but it is not the only reason…

The Bible speaks very highly of the celibate life. While it says that marriage is good, it says celibacy life is better, for those who are able (Matt. 19:12). “For I would that all men were even as myself *. But every man has his proper gift from God, one after this manner and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I” (1 Cor 7: 7-8).

So beneficial is continence that St. Paul councils those who are married, that they too, if possible, should try at times to live a celibate life. “This therefore I say, brethren; the time is short; it remaineth, that they also who have wives, be as if they had none” (vs. 29). He says this, not because marital union is bad, obviously it is not; but because a continent life is very beneficial even for those who are married. In the same chapter of 1st Corinthians, St. Paul speaks of refraining from marital relations “for a time” so that each can “give themselves more to prayer”. Not only the Church fathers, but even the ancient pagan philosophers have known that continence helps to elevate the mind to God.

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#2

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In the early years of the Church, many followed the advice of St. Paul (as recorded in the Bible) and lived a celibate life in the desert. These were known as the desert fathers, and they were the first monastic orders of the Church. God desires to have some people live a celibate life, totally dedicated to Him. It is not that God does not want people to marry, but He does desire some chosen souls to be totally His. “And the unmarried woman and the virgin thinketh on the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she that is married thinketh on the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I speak for your profit: not to cast a snare upon you” (vs. 34-35). “This I speak for your profit: not to cast a scare upon you”. In other words, he is not criticizing the married women, or forbidding marriage, but rather letting them know that the unmarried life is better, because it allows them to “…attend upon the Lord without impediment" (vs. 35). St. Paul certainly does not forbid marriage, for he goes on to say that if a father desires his daughter to marry, “let him do what he will; he sinneth not, if she marry” (vs. 36). The fact that he felt it necessary to say that a father who allowed his daughter to marry “sinneth not” shows how strongly he favored celibacy. St. Paul, the inspired apostle, concludes the chapter by saying: “…more blessed shall she be, if she so remain, according to my counsel (unmarried); and I think that I also have the spirit of God" (1 Cor. 7: 40). Certainly, we would both agree that St. Paul did have the spirit of God, for he was one of our greatest saints, and he praised the celibate life as a higher calling than the married life, which is also what the Catholic Church teaches. “Therefore both he that giveth his virgin in marriage doth well: and he that giveth her not, doth better” (vs. 38).

Our Lord also spoke of celibacy. Just after Our Lord taught that a man is not allowed to divorce his wife and marry another (that is another subject), His disciples said to Him: “If the case of a man with his wife be so, it is not expedient to marry.” Our Lord then “said to them: All men take not this word (can not do it), but they to whom it is given (who have the gift). For there are eunuchs [ie celibates], who were born so from their mother’s womb: and their are eunuchs who were made so by men [ie castrated]: and there be eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that is able to do so, let him so do.” (Mt 19:12).

“And let not the Eunuchs say: behold I am a dry tree. “For thus saith the Lord to the Eunuchs, they that shall keep my Sabbaths, and shall choose the things that please me, and shall hold fast My Covenant: I will give to them in My house and within My walls, a place and a name better than sons and daughters: I will give them an everlasting name which shall never perish” (Isaias 56:3-5)

Our Lord elevated marriage to one of only seven sacraments in His Church. But we can see from the Bible that the celibate life is even greater than marriage. If marriage is one of only seven sacraments, and the celibate life is better, how great must be the life of celibacy in God’s eyes. That is why the Catholic Church prefers celibate Priests; it is not because marriage is bad, but because an unmarried priest will have the “power to attend upon the Lord without impediment” (1 Cor. 7:35).

“These are they who were not defiled with women: for they are virgins. These follow the Lamb withersoever He goeth. These were purchased from among men, the first fruits to God and to the Lamb” (Apoc [Rev.] 14:4).

We live in a day today, however, when many men who have become priests have not been faithful to their vows. Many of these men should never have been allowed to the priesthood in the first place. They have caused great harm and scandal to souls entrusted to their care and have been unfaithful to the vow they made to God. They will have to give an account of this on the last day before an all-pure and all-mighty God. I would not want to be in their shoes (I have enough to answer for as it is). This is not the fault of the celibate life, however, but of unfaithful men. The Catholic Church officially does not allow people who even have the tendency to homosexuality into the priesthood. Unfortunately today, many of the Seminaries are saturated with homosexual seminarians and instructors. Our Church leaders have done nothing to correct the situation, so, I believe, Our Lord has used the media as a whip.

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#3

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But as always, the media has drawn a false conclusion. They would have us believe that a celibate life leads to sexual perversion; that it somehow causes frustrations resulting in perverse behavior. The truth is just the opposite. A clue that priestly celibacy is a good thing, is the fact that the media is so against it. Contrary to what the anti-Christian media would have us believe, celibacy does not lead to perversion; rather, perverse behavior leads to further perversion. Have you ever heard a “sex-addict”, who has very perverse tendencies, tell how it happened (Jeffery Dommer, for instance)? It is always the same story: They first began with some kind of pornography, which they soon got bored with. They then went to more perverse things which became worse and worse. They eventually ended up with very perverted behavior, which only developed gradually over time. The perverted priest did not commit the sinful acts we saw on the news because they were living a holy and celibate life, but because they were not. If celibacy is the cause of perverse behavior, as the media would have us believe, how do they explain that a higher percent of married men molest their own children than to perverted priests. The statistics show that about 2% of priests have molested children, which is almost the same as married ministers of other denominations, but 8% of fathers (or family members) have molested their own children. This shows that the root problem is not celibacy, but bad people.

The early years of the Church and the Papacy:

When we met, I claimed that the Catholic Church (Roman Catholic Church) was the first Church. I wanted to provide you with a little evidence of that. Most non-Catholics that I speak with have been told that the Roman Catholic Church came into existence around the year 325 or so; and that the Papacy was a fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh century “invention” (some even later than that). That is not correct. There is abundant evidence to show that the Papacy has been in existence since the very beginning of the Church. There is just as much evidence to support the Papacy, as there is to support apostolic succession. Protestants reject apostolic succession, but it can be shown to them from the Bible and the writings of the early Church. Similarly, the fact that the successor of St. Peter - the Bishop of Rome - has always been considered the head of the Church can be shown in the same way. The evidence is undeniable.

Personally, I love to read the writings of the early Church. Not that the Church fathers are infallible, but in reading their writings we can, in a sense, step back in time to the first few centuries of the Church. History books are O.K., but the historical documents themselves are much better. History books are only as good as the writer, and many writers approach the subject with certain pre-existing notions that they seek to prove (especially when the subject is religion). I have found that the historical documents themselves are much better and give an unbiased view of the times. Many things that are disputed now, were not disputed then. And the Church in the early years was united in both belief and government. Listen to how St. Irenaeus (c. 130-202AD) described the unity of doctrine in his day:

“As I have already observed, the church having received this preaching and this faith, although scattered throughout the world carefully preserves it. She also believes these points of doctrine just as if she had but one soul and one and the same heart, and proclaims and teaches them and hands them down with perfect harmony as if she possessed but one mouth … For the faith being ever one and the same, neither does one who is able at great length to discourse regarding it, make any additions to it, nor does one who can say but little, diminish it. … For the churches which have been planted in Germany do not believe or hand down anything different, nor do those in Spain, nor do those in Gaul, nor do those in the East, nor do those in Egypt, nor do those in Libya, nor do those which have been established in the central regions of the world” (St. Irenaeus, Against the Heresies, 189AD).

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#4

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What I found by reading the writings of the early church fathers, is that what the Roman Catholic Church teaches is exactly what was taught in those years, on every subject, including the Papacy. The Papacy is the point of dispute between the Roman Catholic Church and all of the others that have maintained apostolic succession, but are not part of the Roman Catholic Church. There is a division between these groups, that is contrary to the Will of God; and the point of division is subjection to the Pope as the head of the Church. Until 1054, all Christians were subject to the Bishop of Rome, both east and west.

I wanted to provide you with some of the quotes from the early Church that discuss the Pope; but first I will give a very brief defense of the Papacy from the Bible. I want to start with the Bible to show that a strong case can be made from Scriptures that Peter was in fact the head of the Apostles. Then I will show that the early Church taught that Peter was the head of the Apostles, and that his successor - the Bishop of Rome - holds the Primacy over the Bishops. I will also quote the Council of Ephesus, from the year 431, which was the 3rd General Council of the Church. I am also going to include an encyclical that was written by Pope Leo XIII in the 1890’s. This is one of my favorite encyclicals on the unity of the Church, and it is full of quotes from the early Church. I think you will enjoy reading it.

The Pope in the Bible:

To defending the Papacy from the Bible, one almost has to start with Mt. 16. Often times non-Catholics will have a different interpretation of this than the Catholic Church, and each other for that matter; but if we are honest, we will have to admit that the surface meaning does seem to support the Catholic teaching of the primacy of Peter.

Our Lord said to Simon: “Thou art Peter [rock], 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 [singular] the keys to the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever you [singular] shall bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever you [singular] shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt 16:20).

I understand that there are many levels of interpretation to scripture, but the obvious literal interpretation should not be disregarded for a deeper, more obscure, meaning. And the obvious interpretation of the above passage is that Jesus will build His Church upon St. Peter; that the gates of hell will not prevail against that Church; and that Jesus is giving to St. Peter the “Keys” to Heaven, along with the authority of binding and loosing. It is commonly known that the conveyance of keys is a conveyance of authority. In the book of Isaias, we read a passage very similar to the one quoted above from the New Testament: “And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliacim the son of Helcias, and I will clothe him with thy robe, and will strengthen him with thy girdle, and will give thy power into his hand: and he shall be called a father [Pope?] to the inhabitants of Jerusalem [Rome?], and to the house of Juda [Church?]. And I will lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder, and he shall open, and no one shall shut: and he shall shut, and no one shall open” (Ch. 22).

These “keys” properly belong to Our Lord; for it was He who merited them for us: “I am the first and the last, alive and was dead: and behold I am living for ever and ever, and have the keys of death and Hell” (Apoc. 1:17-18). And further on: “These things saith the Holy One and the True One, who hath the keys of David: He that openeth and no man shutteth, shutteth and no man openeth”( Apoc 3:7). Yet who will deny the obvious words of Scripture wherein Our Lord passed these keys on to St. Peter, along with the words “Whatsoever thou shall bind upon earth shall be bound also in Heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven”(ibid.). Thus we see Our Lord delegating the power which is properly His, to St. Peter.

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#5

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The following is what one non-Catholic author wrote about St. Matt. 16: “In spite of all Protestant attempts to weaken its force, it cannot be doubted that this passage contains the solemn proclamation of the primacy of Peter. He is declared to be the foundation of the Church, the bearer of the keys and the sovereign lawgiver, whose precepts and prohibitions have the force of divinely sanctioned laws” (Fundamental Theology, by O. Pfleiderer, 1931).

The fact that St. Peter was the head of the apostles is indicated in many other places of the New Testament. For example, when the Apostles are listed, Peter’s name is always first (Matt. 10:2-4, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:14-16, Acts 1:13), while Judas (who betrayed Jesus) is always last. Although the other apostles are not always in the same order, God inspired the writer to always place St. Peter’s name first, and Judas’ last.

Peter’s name is also mention about six times more than any other apostles, and more times that all of the other apostles combined, which does seem to show a certain prominence. The Bible also calls Peter “the first” (protos) apostle (St. Matt 10:2). The Greek word Protos is the Latin word Primus, from which we get the word “Primacy”. So when the Bible says that Peter was “the first” apostle, it could be translated to say that Peter held the Primacy over the others. This is further confirmed by the fact that when the Bible speaks of the Apostles it often refers to them as “Peter, and the others”, etc. "Tell his disciples, and Peter (St. Mark 16). “Peter standing up, with the eleven” (Acts. 2). “And Simon, and they who were with him…” (St. Mark 1).

We also know that when it came time to pay taxes, Jesus paid the taxes for both Himself and Peter, but not the other apostles. It was to St. Peter only that Jesus gave the command to “confirm the brethren” (Luke 22:32); and again, Jesus gave Peter alone the command to “feed My lambs, feed by sheep” (John 21:17). It was also to Simon that Our Lord gave the same symbolic name that is used for Himself - Rock! “and the rock that followed them was Christ [symbolically]” (1 Cor. 10). “And Jesus looking upon him said: Thou art Simon the son of Jona; thou shalt be called Cephas, which being interpreted is Peter” (rock) (John 1:42).

The Name Rock:

Jesus, who is the Ultimate head of the Church, is referred to in Scripture as both the “cornerstone” of the Church and, like St. Peter, as a Rock. In fact, the Hebrew word tsur, which is translated God in the Old Testament, also has the meaning rock. Some versions of the Bible translate the Hebrew word tsur as “rock” and some translate it as “God”. For example, the Protestant King James version of the Bible, translates tsur as follows:

“As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried. He is a buckler to all those that trust in him. For who is God save the Lord, or who is a rock (Tsur) save our God?” (Psalm 18).

The Catholic Douay-Rheims version of the Bible translates the same passage as follows:
“As for my God, his way is undefiled: the words of the Lord are fire tried: he is the protector of all that trust in Him. For who is God but the Lord? or who is God (Tsur) but our God?” (Psalm 18:31-32).

The name rock belongs properly to God, for He is truly our unmovable rock: “The Lord is my rock (tsur) and my fortress” (Psalm 18:2); “Unto thee will I cry, O Lord, my rock (tsur) (ibid. 28:1); I will say unto God, my rock (tsur) (ibid. 42:9); Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from Him cometh my salvation. He only is my rock (tsur) and my salvation…My soul, wait thou only upon God … my rock (tsur) and my salvation… He is my rock(tsur) …” (ibid 62:2,6,7); “and they remembered that God was their rock (tsur)” (ibid. 78:35).

Yet Our Lord gave this same name rock, which belongs to himself, to St. Peter. "And Jesus looking upon him, said: Thou are Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is interpreted Peter (rock) (John 1:42). It is not a coincidence that Jesus, who is called a Rock (1Cor. 10:4, 1Peter 2:8, Rom. 9:33), similarly gave Simon the name Rock (John 1:42, Mt 16:18). We have one person in the Old Testament who is called by this name rock (tsur), and it is no less a figure than Father Abraham. As you know, the Old Testament has many “types” and “images” of New Testament realities. The Paschal Lamb, for example, that was sacrificed by the Jews during Passover foreshadowed Our Lord who was sacrificed for us on Mt. Calvary during Passover. The Old Testament Lamb could not take away sins, but rather pointed to the One who would. That is why, when John the Baptism saw our Lord, he declared “behold the Lamb of God, the one who taketh away the sins of the world”. There are countless other examples of the Old Testament foreshadowing the New Testament. We will look at one other.

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#6

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In the Old Testament, God is often referred to as “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”. This threefold name is an Old Testament “image” of the Blessed Trinity. This image becomes clear when we consider that Father Abraham (who represents God the Father) led his son Isaac up Mt. Moria to be sacrificed to God. Isaac, his son (who represents Jesus) carried the wood up the Mountain, just as Our Lord carried the wood of the cross up Mt. Calvary. Mt. Moria was later re-named Calvary, and is the same mountain upon which Our Lord was crucified. Jacob, the third person, represents the Holy Ghost who is the third person of the Blessed Trinity. This explains why the New Testament Church - whose members have become “a temple of the Holy Ghost” (1 Cor. 6:16) - is called in Scripture “the house of Jacob” (Luke 1), for Jacob represents the Holy Ghost who dwells within the Church. So we can see that “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” was an image of the Blessed Trinity, which explains why God was called by that triune name.

Now, Father Abraham, who was a “type” of God the Father, is called in scripture by the same name rock, which was also given to St. Peter in the New Testament. “Look unto the rock (tsur) whence you are hewn … look unto Abraham your Father” (Isaias 51:1-2).

This same name - rock - which properly belongs to God, was given to Abraham who was the Father of the Old Testament and an image of “God the Father”, and to St. Peter who is the Father of the New Testament and visible representative of Our Lord, the true rock.

When God imposes a name on someone, the name conveys a meaning that describes the person. Since Abraham was a type of God the Father, and Father of the Jewish race, God changed his name from Abram, to Abraham, which means “father of a multitude”. In re-naming Abram Abraham, God designated him as the Father of the Jewish people. So likewise, when Our Lord renamed Simon Peter, which means rock, he designated him as the visible representative of Himself, who is the true rock. And at the same time he conveyed His own authority upon him when He declared: "Thou art 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 to the kingdom of heaven” (which properly belong to Me) “and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt 16:20).

“Peter is made the foundation, because he says: Thou are Christ, the Son of the Living God; and hears in reply that he is a rock. But although a rock, he is not such a rock as Christ; for Christ is truly an immovable rock, but Peter, only by virtue of that rock *. For Jesus bestows His dignities on others; He is a priest, and He makes priests; a rock, and He makes a rock; what belongs to Himself, He bestows on His servants” (St. Basil).

We can see that the name rock (Peter), which Jesus gave to Simon, is a very important name in the Bible, for it is a name that properly belongs to God Himself.

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#7

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We know that when the Jews rejected Jesus, He established a new Church. This new Church consisting of both Jews and Gentiles. In the Old Testament, Moses was the first earthly head of the Church; and after he died the Jewish religion was ruled by his successor; the one who sat in the “chair of Moses” (St. Matt 23:2). In the New Testament Church, God no longer rules from the “Chair of Moses”, but from the “Chair of Peter”. “In the Catholic Church I adhere to the Chair of Peter. Whoever does not wish to stray from the true fold must follow this voice” (St. Augustine, Apostolic Digest pg 251, circa 410AD).

The following describes what took place when the Jews rejected Our Lord: “Jesus rose up out of the synagogue and went into Peter’s house” (Luke 4:38). Now He teaches from Peter’s ship (diocese): "and [Jesus] going into a ship that was Peter’s… He taught the multitude out of the Ship (Luke 5:3).

“It is to Peter to whom Christ said: ‘Thou are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church.’ Where Peter is, there is no death but eternal life. Where Peter is, there is the Church” (St. Ambrose - Commentary on 12 of David’s Psalms, circa 360AD).

Council of Ephesus, 431AD:

The Council of Ephesus was the 3rd General council of the Church: the first was Nicea; the second Constantinople I. The Council of Ephesus gave us some beautiful doctrines on the Divinity of Jesus, which clear up a lot of the heretical teachings of today. The doctrinal teachings of the Divinity of Jesus are so beautiful, and bring such clarity to some of the confusion of today, that I would love to go into it at this point (and almost did!); but this letter would be too long. Maybe we can discuss this at some other point. You would probably get as much consolation from these beautiful teachings as I did. This same Council of Ephesus also discusses the Pope; and it explains his office in the same way that the Catholic Church still does. The following is from the Acts of the Council, sessions two and three:

“Philip, presbyter and legate of [Pope Celestine I] said: ‘We offer our thanks to the holy and venerable synod, that when the writings of our holy and blessed pope had been read to you . . . you joined yourselves to the holy head also by your holy acclamations. For your blessedness is not ignorant that the head of the whole faith, the head of the apostles, is blessed Peter the apostle’” (Acts of the Council, session 2 [A.D. 431]).

“Philip, the presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See [Rome] said: ‘There is no doubt, and in fact it has been known in all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the apostles, pillar of the faith, and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race, and that to him was given the power of loosing and binding sins: who down even to today and forever both lives and judges in his successors’” (ibid., session 3).

The following are additional quotes from the Church fathers that discuss the Primacy of Peter and his successors. The first quote is from St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, and martyr. St. Cyprian was one of the many Christians who were fed to the lions. This was written in 251AD, 180 years before the Council of Ephesus, and about 75 years before the first General Council of the Church: Nicea. St. Augustine (who lived much later than St. Cyprian) quotes from the writings of St. Cyprian as an authoritative source. This is what St. Cyprian wrote about Peter:

“The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ He says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. And to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever things you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth, they shall be loosed also in heaven’ (Mt 16:18-19)… ‘On him (Peter) he builds his Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep’ (Jn 21:17), and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair, and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were also what Peter was (ie. apostles), 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?” (Cyprian of Carthage, 251 AD)

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Earlier I gave that beautiful quote from St. Irenaeus on the unity of faith of the early Church. In the same letter, which is titled “Against the Heresies” he gives us a list of Peter’s successors in the episcopacy of Rome, up to his day (189AD). The following quote was written in by St. Optatus of Milevis; in this quote, he extends the list given by St. Irenaeus up to the year 366AD.

“You cannot deny that you know the Episcopal Chair was first assigned to Peter; in the city of Rome, in which sat Peter, the head of the Apostles. Peter, therefore, first filled that pre-eminent Chair, which is the first of the marks of the Church; Linus succeeded Peter, Clement Succeeded Linus, (then those succeeding each other in the following order): Anacletus, Evaristus, Alexander, Sixtus, Telesphorus, Hyginus, Anicetus, Pius, Soter, Eleutherius, Victor, Zepherinus, Callixtus, Urbanus, Pontianus, Anterus, Fabianus, Cornelius, Lucius, Stephan, Sixtus (II), Dionysius, Felix, Eutychians, Caius, Marcellinus, Marcellus, Eusebius, Miltiades, Sylvester, Marcus, Julius, Liberius, Damasus. The successor of Damasus was Siricius, who is now our fellow bishop and with whom the whole world, together with us, is in agreement in one fellowship of communion by mutual exchange of formal corresponsence”.

A few years later, in 400 AD, St Augustine extends the list a little further to refute a schismatic group from his day known as the Donatists. The Donatists did maintain apostolic succession, but they had separated themselves from the unity of the Pope. Therefore, to refute them, St. Augustine gives a complete list of Popes up to his day, and says that no Donatist Bishop is found among that list. We can see from this that St. Augustine did not believe it was enough to have apostolic succession, without being united to the successor of Peter.

"For if the very lineal succession of Bishops is to be considered, how much more surely, truly, and safely do we number them from Peter himself, to whom, as to one representing the whole Church, the Lord said, “Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it…” [Matt. 16:18]. The successor of Peter was Linus, and his successors in unbroken continuity were these: Clement, Anacletus, Evaristus, Alexander, Sixtus… [he continues up to his time]… and Siricius, whose successor is the present Bishop Anastasius. In this order of succession no Donatist Bishop is found. (St. Augustine, Letters 53:1:2 [A.D. 412])

Much earlier than St. Augustine and St. Optatus, we have the writings of St. Ignatius, who was the Bishop of Antioch. Peter originally started the Church in Antioch before proceeding to Rome. St. Ignatius was a disciple of St. John the Apostle, and third successor of Peter as the Bishop of Antioch. He is also supposed to have been the child that Jesus put on his knee when He said “suffer the little children to come to me, and forbid them not, for such is the Kingdom of Heaven”. St. Ignatius was martyred by being fed to the lions. On his way to Rome, where he was soon to be martyred, he wrote seven letters to various Churches. Listen to how he begins his letter to the Church at Rome:

"Ignatius Theophorus … to the Church in the place of the country of the Romans which holds the Primacy. I salute you in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father. You are a Church worthy of God, worthy of honor, felicitation and praise, worthy of attaining to God, a Church without blemish, which holds the primacy…

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#9

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The following are several more quotes, which support the primacy of Peter and his successor.

Tertullian: “Was anything withheld from the knowledge of Peter, who is called ‘the rock on whom the Church would be built’ [Mt 16:18] with the power of ‘loosing and binding in heaven and on earth’ {Mt 16:19]?” (Demurrer Against the Heretics 200AD)

“[T]he Lord said to Peter, ‘On this rock I will build my Church, I have given you the keys of the kingdom of heaven [and] whatever you shall have bound or loosed on earth will be bound or loosed in heaven’ [Matt. 16:18–19]. . . . Upon you, he says, I will build my Church; and I will give to you the keys, not to the Church; and whatever you shall have bound or you shall have loosed, not what they shall have bound or they shall have loosed” (Modesty 21:9–10 [A.D. 220]).

St. Cyril of Jerusalem: “As members of the Mystical Body of the Church, it behooves us to follow our head, the Roman Pontiff, who holds in trust the deposit of the Apostolic Faith. From him we are to learn what we are bound to believe, to think, and to hold. By divine right, everyone bows down the head before him.” (St. Cyril of Jerusalem - Catechetical Lectures pg. 33, circa 350AD)

“[Simon Magus] so deceived the city of Rome that Claudius erected a statue of him. . . . While the error was extending itself, Peter and Paul arrived, a noble pair and the rulers of the Church, and they set the error aright. . . . [T]hey launched the weapon of their like-mindedness in prayer against the Magus, and struck him down to earth. It was marvelous enough, and yet no marvel at all, for Peter was there—he that carries about the keys of heaven [Matt. 16:19]” (ibid., 6:14).

“In the power of the same Holy Spirit, Peter, both the chief of the apostles and the keeper of the keys of the kingdom of heaven, in the name of Christ healed Aeneas the paralytic at Lydda, which is now called Diospolis [Acts 9:32–34]” (ibid., 17:27).

Socrates Scholasticus (c. 380–450 A.D.) was a Greek Church historian, and native to Constantinople. He wrote mainly of the Eastern Church. We will see from this that the east also recognized the office of the Bishop of Rome.

“Neither was Julius, Bishop of the great Rome, there, nor had he sent a substitute, although an ecclesiastical canon [Church law] commands that the churches shall not make any ordinances against the opinion of the Bishop of Rome” (History of the Church 2, 8 in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd series, 2:38).

“Athanasius, meanwhile, after a lengthened journey, at last reached Italy. The western division of the empire was then under the sole power of Constans, the youngest of Constantine’s sons, his brother Constantine having been slain by the soldiers, as was before stated. At the same time also Paul, Bishop of Constantinople, Asclepas of Gaza, Marcellus of Ancyra, a city of the Lesser Galatia, and Lucius of Adrianople, having been accused on various charges, and expelled from their several churches arrived at the imperial city. There each laid his case before Julius, bishop of Rome. He on his part, by virtue of the Church of Rome’s peculiar privilege , sent them back again into the East, fortifying them with commendatory letters; and at the same time restored to each his own place, and sharply rebuked those by whom they had been deposed. Relying on the signature of the Bishop Julius, the bishops departed from Rome, and again took possession of their own churches, forwarding the letters to the parties to whom they were addressed” (ibid. 2:42).

St. Augustine 397AD: “In the Catholic Church, there are many things which most justly keep me in her bosom. The consent of peoples and nations keeps me in the Church; so does her authority, inaugurated by miracles, nourished by hope, enlarged by love, established by age. The succession of priests keeps me, beginning from the very seat of the Apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection, gave it in charge to feed His sheep, down to the present episcopate. And so, lastly, does the name itself Catholic, which, not without reason, amid so many heresies, the Church has thus retained; so that, though all heresies wish to be called Catholics, yet when a stranger asks where the Catholic Church meets, no heretic will venture to point to his own chapel or house. Such then in number and importance are the precious ties belonging to the Christian name which keep a believer in the Catholic Church, as it is right they should… With you, where there is none of these things to attract or keep me… No one shall move me from the faith which binds my mind with ties so many and so strong to the Christian religion… For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church.” (Contra Epistolam Manichaei Quam Vacant Fundamenti, written 397 AD)

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#10

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St. Augustine: These miserable retches, refusing to acknowledge the Rock as Peter, and to believe that the Church has received the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, have lost these very Keys from their own hands. (St. Augustine, Christian Combat, circa 397AD)

Ephraim the Syrian: “[Jesus said:] Simon, my follower, I have made you the foundation of the holy Church. I betimes called you Peter, because you will support all its buildings. You are the inspector of those who will build on Earth a Church for me. If they should wish to build what is false, you, the foundation, will condemn them. You are the head of the fountain from which my teaching flows; you are the chief of my disciples. Through you I will give drink to all peoples. Yours is that life-giving sweetness which I dispense. I have chosen you to be, as it were, the firstborn in my institution so that, as the heir, you may be executor of my treasures. I have given you the keys of my kingdom. Behold, I have given you authority over all my treasures” (Homilies 4:1 [A.D. 351]).

St. Jerome: “Simon Peter, the son of John, from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, brother of Andrew the apostle, and himself chief of the apostles, after having been bishop of the church of Antioch and having preached to the Dispersion . . . pushed on to Rome in the second year of Claudius to overthrow Simon Magus, and held the sacerdotal chair there for twenty-five years until the last, that is the fourteenth, year of Nero. At his hands he received the crown of martyrdom being nailed to the cross with his head towards the ground and his feet raised on high, asserting that he was unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord” (Lives of Illustrious Men 1 [A.D. 396]).

These quotes show that the early Church believed the same way as the Catholic Church still does. Many people do not know what was believed in the early Church; but if we simply read the writings from that day it is very easy to see. There are many more writings to support the teaching of the Pope. I only quoted a few of them. I did not quote from Pope Clement, the third successor of Peter, who wrote an encyclical to the Church in Corinth to correct some abuses there; it was written in 80AD. I was not able to locate the encyclical, but it has a lot of very good information to show that he was the leader of the Church. He also discusses apostolic succession very powerfully. I think he actually wrote two encyclicals to the Corinthians.

Unfortunately today, the Catholic Church is going though a very difficult time. They say that a fish rots from the head down, and that is what we are seeing today in the Church. The Liberals have managed to work their way up to the top in all of the denominations, including the Catholic Church. One of our Popes once said, “a liberal Catholic is the Catholic Churches worst enemy”. Today these Liberal Catholics are, unfortunately, our leaders. I agree with what one person said: “Liberal Catholics are simply Catholics who have lost the faith”. What the Catholic Church needs today are “a few good men” to stand up for it. I would encourage you to at least look into the claims of the Catholic Church from the Catholic point of view. I can tell you that, having seen both sides, the case for the Roman Catholic Church is extremely convincing and is backed up by ALL of the writings of the first 1500 years. Before I end the letter, I want to give the explanation of the Papacy from the Catechism of the Council of Trent…

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#11

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Catechism of Trent: *"The Church has but one ruler and one governor, the invisible one, Christ, whom the eternal Father ‘hath made head over all the Church, which is his body’ [Eph. 1:22-23], the visible one, the Pope, who, as legitimate successor of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, fills the Apostolic chair.

"It is the unanimous teaching of the Fathers that this visible head is necessary to establish and preserve unity in the Church. This St. Jerome clearly perceived and clearly expressed when, in his work against Jovinian, he wrote: ‘One is elected that, by the appointment of a head, all occasion of schism may be removed’. In his letter to Pope Damasus the same holy Doctor writes: 'Away with envy, let the ambition of Roman grandeur cease! I speak to the successor of the fisherman, and to the disciple of the cross. Following no chief but Christ, I am united to communion with your Holiness, that is, with the chair of Peter. I know that on that rock is built the Church. Whoever will eat the lamb outside this house is profane; whosoever is not in the ark of Noah [an Old Testament type of the Catholic Church] shall perish in the flood.

"The same doctrine was long before established by Saint Irenaeus, and Cyprian. …Again, Optatus of Milevi says: ‘You cannot be excused on the score of ignorance, knowing as you do that in the city of Rome the Episcopal chair was first conferred on Peter, who occupied it as head of the Apostles; in order that in that one chair the unity of the Church might be preserved by all, and that the other Apostles might not claim each a chair for himself; so that now he who erects another in opposition to this single chair is a schismatic and a prevaricator’.

" Later on St. Basil wrote: 'Peter is made the foundation, because he says: Thou are Christ, the Son of the Living God; and hears in reply that he is a rock. But although a rock, he is not such a rock as Christ; for Christ is truly an immovable rock, but Peter, only by virtue of that rock . For Jesus bestows His dignities on others; He is a priest, and He makes priests; a rock, and He makes a rock; what belongs to Himself, He bestows on His servants’. “Lastly, St. Ambrose says: ‘Because he alone of all of them professed (Christ) he was placed above all’.” (The Catechism of the Council of Trent pgs. 102 - 104).

Although many people have been told that the Papacy was a later development of Christianity, the evidence shows that this is simply not the case. The teaching of the Pope as head of the Church is Apostolic. If you think about it, it really makes sense that God would establish one person as the head of the Bishops. The father is the head of the family; the Priest is the head of the parish; the Bishop is the head of the Diocese, and the Pope is the (visible) head of the Church. The Priest unites the parish; the Bishop unites the diocese, and the Pope unites the Bishops. “Although the strength of the Church is equally established on all the apostles” wrote St. Jerome, “yet amongst the twelve one is chosen so that a head being appointed, all occasion of schism may be taken away”. In addition to the Biblical and historical evidence for the office of Pope, there is also common sense. It just makes sense that God would appoint one person to be the head of the Bishops for the sake of unity.

Well, that is all I have for now, but I would like to continue our discussion. As I said at the beginning of the letter, I really enjoyed our meeting. I remember a sermon several years ago, when the Priest was kind of complaining that the world has lost the art of conversation, and has become boring. He went on to say that often our conversations have no depth, and are just dull. He said that it is often difficult to find intellectual stimulation these days. I thought of that sermon, because I found our conversation to be “intellectually stimulating”. It was also friendly and charitable, yet frank. Maybe we can do it again sometime. My mom said that there is a former Catholic Priest there who recently entered the Anglican Priesthood. If we are ever able to get together again, maybe he would want to join us.

I hope you have a good Christmas, and I am praying for you: my mom told me about…

Take care and may God Bless you.*


#12

Excellent post, especially regarding the authority of the Successor of St. Peter as not merely primus inter pares as the Anglo-Catholics, or Orthodox, would say, but a true primacy of jurisdiction… a Bishop that has a charism above, beyond, and in some ways distinct from the other Bishops.


#13

Woah.

Thats a long letter.

:stuck_out_tongue:

In Christ.

Andre.


#14

[quote=Magicsilence]Woah.

Thats a long letter.

:stuck_out_tongue:

In Christ.

Andre.

[/quote]

My thoughts exactly. Did the Episcopal priest ever reply?


#15

USMC:

So what did he say?

in XT.


#16

Hi USMC,

Thank you for that wonderful presentation. I am keeping it for reference. I feel bound, however, to comment on your remark on “liberals”.

Firstly, if a pope did condemn “liberalism”, it was a 19th century pope, possibly Pius IX, referring to a very specific set of opinions having nothing to do with our modern circumstances.

It would be wrong for you to condemn someone YOU consider to be liberal, by quoting a pope condemning what HE considered to be liberal.

Many modern day Catholics (“conservatives”) condemn someone on the basis that they favor change or adaptation. Many of these “liberals”, whether in or out of the hierarchy, are sincere and even holy persons who want the good of the Church and souls. You no doubt know of many groups of “conservatives” who are in schism, very few if any “liberal” groups.

Bottom line, we should avoid labelling people in any way and hold on to the oft quoted maxim:

In essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity

Verbum


#17

[quote=Verbum]Hi USMC,

Thank you for that wonderful presentation. I am keeping it for reference. I feel bound, however, to comment on your remark on “liberals”.

Firstly, if a pope did condemn “liberalism”, it was a 19th century pope, possibly Pius IX, referring to a very specific set of opinions having nothing to do with our modern circumstances.

It would be wrong for you to condemn someone YOU consider to be liberal, by quoting a pope condemning what HE considered to be liberal.

Many modern day Catholics (“conservatives”) condemn someone on the basis that they favor change or adaptation. Many of these “liberals”, whether in or out of the hierarchy, are sincere and even holy persons who want the good of the Church and souls. You no doubt know of many groups of “conservatives” who are in schism, very few if any “liberal” groups.

Bottom line, we should avoid labelling people in any way and hold on to the oft quoted maxim:

In essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity

Verbum
[/quote]

Well said :smiley: - and very fairly stated :smiley: :thumbsup:


#18

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