Misquotation in Papal Infallibility Tract?


#1

The Catholic Answers’ tract on papal infallibility says: “Cyprian of Carthage, writing about 256, put the question this way, “Would the heretics dare to come to the very seat of Peter whence apostolic faith is derived and whither no errors can come?” (Letters 59 [55], 14).”

It seems to be a condensement of:

“With a false bishop appointed for themselves by heretics, they dare even to set sail and carry letters from schismatics and blasphemers to the chair of Peter and to the principal Church [at Rome], in which sacerdotal unity has its source; nor did they take thought that these are Romans, whose faith was praised by the preaching Apostle, and among whom it is not possible for perfidy to have entrance.” (Cyprian, Letter 59 (55), 14 to Cornelius of Rome, c. AD 252)

Without the context of “no errors coming” to the Roman people (i.e., not the Roman pontiff), it seems to be misleading. Thoughts?


#2

I wondered if the snippet you cited (which appears to come from Jurgens) was incomplete, so I checked all of paragraph 14, which reads:

To these also it was not sufficient that they had withdrawn from the Gospel, that they had taken away from the lapsed the hope of satisfaction and repentance, that they had taken away those involved in frauds or stained with adulteries, or polluted with the deadly contagion of sacrifices, lest they should entreat God, or make confession of their crimes in the Church, from all feeling and fruit of repentance; that they had set up outside for themselves-outside the Church, and opposed to the Church, a conventicle of their abandoned faction, when there had flowed together a band of creatures with evil consciences, and unwilling to entreat and to satisfy God. After such things as these, moreover, they still dare-a false bishop having been appointed for them by, heretics-to set sail and to bear letters from schismatic and profane persons to the throne of Peter, and to the chief church whence priestly unity takes its source; and not to consider that these were the Romans whose faith was praised in the preaching of the apostle, to whom faithlessness could have no access. But what was the reason of their coming and announcing the making of the pseudo-bishop in opposition to the bishops? For either they are pleased with what they have done, and persist in their wickedness; or, if they are displeased and retreat, they know whither they may return. For, as it has been decreed by all of us - and is equally fair and just-that the case of every one should be heard there where the crime has been committed; and a portion of the flock has been assigned to each individual pastor, which he is to rule and govern, having to give account of his doing to the Lord; it certainly behoves those over whom we are placed not to run about nor to break up the harmonious agreement of the bishops with their crafty and deceitful rashness, but there to plead their cause, where they may be able to have both accusers and witnesses of their crime; unless perchance the authority of the bishops constituted in Africa seems to a few desperate and abandoned men to be too little, who have already judged concerning them, and have lately condemned, by the gravity of their judgment, their conscience bound in many bonds of sins. Already their case has been examined, already sentence concerning them has been pronounced; nor is it fitting for the dignity of priests to be blamed for the levity of a changeable and inconstant mind, when the Lord teaches and says, “Let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay.”

There is nothing in this paragraph that is even CLOSE to the quotation in the tract.

I think the author of the tract (Keating, I believe, as this comes from Catholicism & Fundamentalism) made an error in the citation, although I am unable to find (in a cusory search) the proper passage that the tract’s quote was pulled from.


#3

Without the context of “no errors coming” to the Roman people (i.e., not the Roman pontiff), it seems to be misleading. Thoughts?

“With a false bishop appointed for themselves by heretics, they dare even to set sail and carry letters from schismatics and blasphemers **to the chair of Peter ** and to the principal Church [at Rome], in which sacerdotal unity has its source; nor did they take thought that these are Romans, whose faith was praised by the preaching Apostle, and among whom it is not possible for perfidy to have entrance.”

Granted, Cyprian here is not explicitly naming the Pontiff himself as the bearer of infallibility; but arguably it is implicit. For who but the bishop can teach and profess in the name of a given Church?

[quote=DavidFilmer]I wondered if the snippet you cited (which appears to come from Jurgens) was incomplete, so I checked all of paragraph 14, which reads:There is nothing in this paragraph that is even CLOSE to the quotation in the tract.
[/quote]

What about this:

“After such things as these, moreover, they still dare-a false bishop having been appointed for them by, heretics-to set sail and to bear letters from schismatic and profane persons to the throne of Peter, and to the chief church whence priestly unity takes its source; and not to consider that these were the Romans whose faith was praised in the preaching of the apostle, to whom faithlessness could have no access.”


#4

[quote=Sacramentalist]What about this…
[/quote]

Re-read the post by the OP. He says,

The Catholic Answers’ tract on papal infallibility says: “Cyprian of Carthage, writing about 256, put the question this way, “Would the heretics dare to come to the very seat of Peter whence apostolic faith is derived and whither no errors can come?” (Letters 59 [55], 14).”

The OP looked up Letters 59,14 (in Jurgens, I think) and found a passage that didn’t even resemble the quote in the tract. He posted the Juergen’s exerpt, and I posted the full paragraph #14 to give context (Jurgen’s is just a bunch of exerpts, not complete documents). You found the part of paragraph 14 that Juergens exerpted, but it doesn’t resemble the quote in the CA tract which was attributed to paragraph 14.

There is nothing in paragraph 14 that is remotely close to the quote in the CA tract. A quick scan of the entire letter (it is quite long) doesn’t reveal the tract quote either.

The OP feels the tract tried to summarize Cyprian’s words in paragraph 14, and if so, it would be a misleading summary because it assumes more than is in evidence. I feel the quote is probably incorrectly attributed but I cannot find the correct passage.


#5

I’m the OP : ). I wouldn’t say that CA’s quote “doesn’t even remotely resemble” the original thing; this is what I found for Cyprian’s letters 55(59); 14.

“With a false bishop appointed for themselves by heretics, they dare even to set sail and carry letters from schismatics and blasphemers to the chair of Peter and to the principal Church [at Rome], in which sacerdotal unity has its source; nor did they take thought that these are Romans, whose faith was praised by the preaching Apostle, and among whom it is not possible for perfidy to have entrance.” (Cyprian, Letter 59 (55), 14 to Cornelius of Rome, c. AD 252)

So CA’s quote is a condensement that is misleading because it makes it look like Cyprian is saying no errors can come to the chair of Peter, when in fact he’s talking about sin among the Romans.

The problem is, I searched and it looks like other people quote the same version of Cyprian’s quote as CA- they probably got it from CA. I think CA needs to correct this and make an announcement of it so that misinformation isn’t spread any further.

P.S. It might be “implicit,” but Cyprian’s teaching of papal infallibility is certainly not as “explicit” as the CA quote makes it appear.


#6

[quote=challenger]The problem is, I searched and it looks like other people quote the same version of Cyprian’s quote as CA- they probably got it from CA. I think CA needs to correct this and make an announcement of it so that misinformation isn’t spread any further.

[/quote]

Challenger,
I noticed this too. Perhaps, however, they have a common (erroneous) source?

Either way, CA should look into it.


#7

Verbum: Lol, I love your signature! :smiley:

It’s possible they have a common source, but I tend to think it likely that people quoted CA… I tried using the “Contact Form” to contact the This Rock Editor, but there was an error or something. Perhaps someone else can give it a try?


#8

Did anyone let CA know?


#9

[quote=challenger]Did anyone let CA know?
[/quote]

I just posted a question in “Ask an Apologist.” Those folks are pretty smart (and have a relationship with CA) so one of these apologists ought to be able to clear this up.


#10

I don’t see any difference between the full paragraph and the excerpt from the Catholic Answers tract.

From the paragraph:

“…they still dare – a false bishop having been appointed for them by, heretics – to set sail and to bear letters from schismatic and profane persons to the throne of Peter, and to the chief church whence priestly unity takes its source; and not to consider that these were the Romans whose faith was praised in the preaching of the apostle, to whom faithlessness could have no access.” (Letters 59)

From the Catholic Answers tract:

“Would the heretics dare to come to the very seat of Peter whence apostolic faith is derived and whither no errors can come?” (Letters 59 [55], 14).

Comparing both translations we have:

paragraph: heretics – to set sail and to bear letters from schismatic and profane persons to the throne of Peter

tract: would the heretics dare to come to the very set of Peter

These are practically identical.

paragraph: whence priestly unity takes its source

tract: whence apostolic faith is derived

Depending on the original wording, priestly unity can probably be translated apostolic faith. Rome was and is considered the apostolic see or “see of Peter.” Although its true Cyprian applied the term also to the bishops in general, while calling Rome “the principal” or “chief” church.

Finally, the “Romans” in the paragraph refers to the bishops of Rome of course, which is the “throne” or “seat of Peter” and not just “Roman Christians” in general.

The final phrase is simply a matter of translation (faithlessness, or errors of faith, or perfidy, etc).

paragraph: to whom faithlessness could have no access

tract: whither no errors can come

So I conclude the statement is correct, although more of a paraphrase (like the “Rome has spoken, the case is closed” summary of Augustine, Sermons 131:10) depending on the accuracy of translation. Here is Jurgens translation:

“…they dare even to set sail…to the chair of Peter and the principal Church [at Rome], in which sacerdotal unity has its source…whose faith was praised by the preaching Apostle, and among whom it is not possible for perfidy [errors or perversion of faith] to have entrance.” (Epistle 59:14)

Here’s another translation from Edward Giles (an Anglican historian), the original Latin is from John Chapman:

Post ista adhuc pseudoepiscopo sibi ab haereticis constituto nauigare audent, et ad Petri Cathedram adque ad ecclesiam principalem unde unitas sacerdotalis exorta est ab schismaticis et profanis litteras ferre, nec cogitare eos esse Romanos, quorum fides Apostolo praedicante laudata est, ad quos perfidia habere non possit accessum

Translated this means, according to the Anglican scholar Giles:

“After all this, they yet in addition, having had a false bishop ordained for them by heretics, dare to set sail, and to carry letters from schismatic and profane persons to the chair of Peter, and to the principal church, whence the unity of the priesthood [sacerdotal unity] took its rise [or has its source]. They fail to reflect that those Romans are the same as those whose faith was publicly praised by the apostle, to whom unbelief [or error, heresy, perversion of faith] cannot have access.” (Epistle 59:14; from Giles, Documents Illustrating Papal Authority, page 60)

St. Cyprian on the Church and the Papacy by John Chapman

Phil P


#11

DavidFilmer << There is nothing in paragraph 14 that is remotely close to the quote in the CA tract. A quick scan of the entire letter (it is quite long) doesn’t reveal the tract quote either. >>

No, its a matter of translation, and adding a few ellipses – it does appear to be a summary, like “Rome has spoken, the case is closed,” rather than a direct quotation.

Keating may be getting his quotation from a secondary source, like Ronald Knox (one of his favorite authors), or some other Catholic writer that is citing St. Cyprian. Granted, it is always best to go back to the original sources, but the quotation as it stands is not much different from the original. Remember there are several translations of the Fathers out there.

The original Latin is given above, if someone knows the language, they are free to translate and tell us what the precise wording should be…

Edit: I meant to say, Jurgens translation (already given I think) reads like this:

“With a false bishop appointed for themselves by heretics, they dare even to set sail and carry letters from schismatics and blasphemers to the chair of Peter and to the principal Church [at Rome], in which sacerdotal unity has its source; nor did they take thought that these are Romans, whose faith was praised by the preaching Apostle, and among whom it is not possible for perfidy to have entrance.” (Cyprian, Letter 59 (55), 14 to Cornelius of Rome, c. AD 252)

“That these are Romans” means the Roman Bishops I’m sure. Not simply Roman Christians in general. I.E. The “Romans” who occupied the “chair of Peter” = Bishops of Rome.

Phil P


#12

on ST. CYPRIAN OF CARTHAGE (c. 250 AD), from the Orthodox book The Primacy of Peter, edited by John Meyendorff

“…according to his [Cyprian’s] doctrine there should have really been one single bishop at the head of the Universal Church…According to Cyprian, every bishop occupies Peter’s throne (the Bishop of Rome among others) but the See of Peter is Peter’s throne -par excellence-. The Bishop of Rome is the direct heir of Peter, whereas the others are heirs only indirectly, and sometimes only by the mediation of Rome. Hence Cyprian’s insistence that the Church of Rome is the root and matrix of the Catholic Church [Ecclesiae catholicae matricem et radicem]. The subject is treated in so many of Cyprian’s passages that there is no doubt: to him, the See of Rome was -ecclesia principalis unde unitas sacerdotalis exorta est- [the Principal Church from which the unity of the priesthood/episcopacy has its rise].” (The Primacy of Peter, page 98-99)

Keating’s tract quotation / summary is therefore accurate. And so is “Rome has spoken; the case is closed” from Augustine.

Phil P


#13

All right, on second thought, “the Romans” probably do mean the Christians at Rome, since St. Paul praises the faith of them in his epistle. I misread it. Here are Chapman’s comments:

=====

But even so, what a place this single passage (Ep 59:14) assigns to Rome! Koch’s attempt to harmonize it with Cyprian’s supposed theory is not very successful. Look at the contrast between the “schismatics and profane persons” and the immaculate faith of the Romans, which the Apostle had praised two hundred years before, and of which it was still possible to predicate that where it reigns unfaith has no access [Chapman’s note: in early ecclesiastical Latin perfidia means “unfaith” or “heresy,” not simply “deceit”].

And why has it this prerogative? It is the Chair of Peter, on whom the Church was built, it is thus the “primatial Church,” from which the unity of the episcopate had its rise. Is it not cutting it rather fine to say this means only that Peter received his apostolic powers as a type of unity before the other apostles received theirs, consequently the Church where he settled later on is said to be “the place whence unity had its rise” ? I do not think I could believe this, however much I tried. I do not attempt to define exactly how much St. Cyprian meant, but he meant a good deal more than that.

I may seem to have been speaking most disrespectfully of an illustrious saint. On the contrary I have been defending him. He was not so far-sighted or consistent as Koch thinks, but he had far more common sense, and his devotion to the unity of the Church atones, as St. Augustine saw, for his overvehemence and exaggerations. (Chapman, from Studies on the Early Papacy)

=====

Okay, that’s all for now. :smiley:

Phil P


#14

It’s not a “misquotation,” per se, but it is misleading. That’s what I was saying.


#15

[quote=PhilVaz]Comparing both translations we have:
paragraph: heretics – to set sail and to bear letters from schismatic and profane persons to the throne of Peter
tract: would the heretics dare to come to the very set of Peter
These are practically identical.

[/quote]

Agreed, except the first is a question and the other is a statement - surely a proper tranlation would consider the interrogrative case.

paragraph: whence priestly unity takes its source
tract: whence apostolic faith is derived
Depending on the original wording, priestly unity can probably be translated apostolic faith…

There is a HUGE difference between “unity takes its source” and “apostolic faith is derived.” Unity and Faith are NOT even close to being the same thing. Any translator who renders “unitas” (per the original wording) as “faith” is utterly incompetent (and I don’t believe the discrepancy in the CA tract’s quote represents a difference in translation because I refuse to believe any translator is THAT bad).

paragraph: to whom faithlessness could have no access
tract: whither no errors can come

Well, “faithlessness” means lack of faith - not lack of error! There is NO WAY these statements could be the same. Furthermore, as the OP pointed out, the term “to whom faithlessness could have no access” does NOT apply to the Pope - it applies to the people of Rome (yet the tract applies its statement to the Pope).

So I conclude the statement is correct, although more of a paraphrase.

I consider the statements superficially similar but sufficiently lacking in substance to even regard as a paraphrase. Furthermore, it was presented as a quotation. One cannot avoid the simple FACT that the “quote” in the CA tract is NOT an actual *quotation *of anything in Letters 59,14.

**If a college student did this on a paper, he could be EXPELLED.
**
It is a **fantasy **to think that Letters 59,14 can justify the “quote” in the CA tract. Either Keating simply made up the quote, or he mis-attributed it. I’d like to know which.


#16

David << If a college student did this on a paper, he could be EXPELLED. It is a fantasy to think that Letters 59,14 can justify the “quote” in the CA tract. Either Keating simply made up the quote, or he mis-attributed it. I’d like to know which. >>

Perhaps, I think the explanation might be that Keating is getting the quote from a Ronald Knox or Cardinal Newman book (e.g. secondary source), but the quotation is only paraphrasing Cyprian from Ep 59:14, and Keating turned that into a direct quotation. Assuming Keating is the original author of that tract.

David << Well, “faithlessness” means lack of faith - not lack of error! There is NO WAY these statements could be the same. >>

Except the word “perfidia” means in early ecclesiastical Latin “unfaith” or “heresy,” and not simply “deceit” according to patristics expert John Chapman. So the translations “faithlessness” or “no error of faith” or “no heresy” could be right. Giles, an Anglican historian translates it like this:

“…to whom unbelief cannot have access.”

The context of course refers to the See of Peter, the principal Church at Rome, where the heretics went to attempt to get their heresies accepted.

Phil P


#17

BINGO, I was right, found the source. Looks like Radio Replies, volume 1 (the blue volume), see page 97, reply 429.

==========

1-429. Objection: The early Church did not admit that the Pope was infallible, nor did any Pope before Pius IX, claim such a privilege.

Answer: The doctrine is contained in Christ’s words to St. Peter, and the early Church was well aware of the fact.

Tertullian, about the year 200 AD, wrote concerning St. Paul’s rebuke to St. Peter, “If Peter was rebuked by Paul, it was certainly for a fault in conduct, not in teaching.”

St. Cyprian, about 256, wrote of the See of Rome, “Would heretics dare to come to the very seat of Peter whence Apostolic faith is derived and whither no errors can come.”

St. Augustine in the 4th century gives us the famous expression, “Rome has spoken; the cause is finished.” The early Popes has little need to insist often upon a doctrine which was denied by none of the faithful.

The Council of Ephesus in 431 thus expressed its firm convictions, “No one doubts, nay it is known to all ages, that Peter, the chief and head of the Apostles, the pillar of the faith and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from Our Lord Jesus Christ…Peter, who even to these our own days, and always in his successors, lives and exercised his authority.”

In 451 Pope Leo wrote his decision to the Bishops of the Church assembled at Chalcedon, and when the letter was read all cried out, “Peter has spoken through Leo.”

==========

This appears to be the source. Now I don’t recommend going to something like Radio Replies for your patristic scholarship, but in general the answers are quite good. It is always best to look up citations of the Fathers when you can.

Phil P


#18

It looks like they’re using the same truncation as Keating. I mean, I’ll put this up again:

“With a false bishop appointed for themselves by heretics, they dare even to set sail and carry letters from schismatics and blasphemers to the chair of Peter and to the principal Church [at Rome], in which sacerdotal unity has its source; nor did they take thought that these are Romans, whose faith was praised by the preaching Apostle, and among whom it is not possible for perfidy to have entrance.” (Cyprian, Letter 59 (55), 14 to Cornelius of Rome, c. AD 252)

To me, it’s hard to look at these two quotes and not recognize one as a truncation of the other, when the same source is cited (that is, Letter 59 (55), 14). Unfortunately, Cyprian isn’t on www.earlychristianwritings.com and I hardly have any Patristic texts in print, so I can’t personally look it up.


#19

<< It looks like they’re using the same truncation as Keating. I mean, I’ll put this up again: >>

Yes that’s it. Looks like the author of the tract took it from Radio Replies, and added the reference to Letters 59:14. Needs to be more accurate to the original wording I agree.

Phil P


#20

[quote=PhilVaz]Perhaps, I think the explanation might be that Keating is getting the quote from a Ronald Knox or Cardinal Newman book (e.g. secondary source), but the quotation is only paraphrasing Cyprian from Ep 59:14, and Keating turned that into a direct quotation. Assuming Keating is the original author of that tract.
[/quote]

You may be right (though I think that both Knox and Newman knew enough Latin that, even in paraphrase, they wouldn’t be so far off base). At best, the use of this ‘quote’ represents shoddy scholarship (even if it’s a failure to verify source material). We can and should expect better from an organization with CAs credentials.

Even when we quote the ECFs correctly, Catholics are often accused of ‘embellishing’ the quotes (because they’re just too darned Catholic!). Just one actual misquote can damage our credibility.

I may be wrong, but I believe this tract is straight out of Catholicism & Fundamentalism, which would likely make Keating the author. This tract is very old (before the Mark Blum days at CA).


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