Papal Jurisdiction....

Not trying to start a fight, but how can the RCC claim that the Pope, the bishop of Rome, has jurisdiction over all Christians and in order to be a member of the true church, you must submit to his authority?

If you study early Church history, it’s simple to see that papal supremacy, as it’s understood by the RCC today, did not exist.

“If you study early Church history, it’s simple to see that ________, as it’s understood by the RCC today, did not exist.”

You can literally fill in that blank with almost anything, including, for instance, the Trinity, because doctrine develops and becomes more refined over time. (As long as you don’t select an arbitrary cut off point.)

Or at the very least you can demonstrate the relative ambiguity before a magisterial pronouncement and see how it came to be,

I’m simply saying that papal jurisdiction is not a part of early Church history/Tradition and was never excepted as such outside of the Church in Rome.

So how do RCs justify saying that you must be in union with the Pope in order to be a member of the true Church?

Have you forgotten the Letter of Clement to the Corinthians? While certainly not proof that would convince you, it most certainly is evidence of the roile of the Bishop of Rome in resolving very early (95-97 A.D.) local disputes. If the very concept is false, and unsupported, how on earth can you explain the voluntary submission of all dispersed Catholic Bishops, both east and west, throughout Church history? Wouldn’t the right-thinking “reformers” among the western Church, at some point over 2,000 years, have protested or separated?

The epistle of Clement to the Corinthians might make more sense as a piece of supporting evidence for the RCC’s distinctive ecclesiology if it weren’t for the fact that there are many similar letters that post-date it. If the letter of Clement to the Christians of Corinth is to be taken as evidence of the Roman bishop’s unique role in mediating in disputes, what then do we make of the epistles of Dionysius of Alexandria to successive Roman bishops in the dispute between Rome (Popes Stephen and Xystus) and North Africa (St. Cyprian) in the 250s? Wouldn’t this support the idea that HH Pope Dionysius somehow had “jurisdiction” over Rome? (NB: We do not believe this in the COC, nor does any Orthodox jurisdiction believe that any bishop has jurisdiction over another church than his own. The point is that the mere existence of such a latter, or many, cannot actually be taken as evidence of RCC ecclesiology…unless you want to say that it was in effect during St. Clement’s time but had somehow “evolved” away from that principle by the time of St. Dionysius…which I know you don’t accept. :))

Taken in isolation, anything can be used to justify anything. We are speaking of a consistent tradition in the universal Church for centuries, and in the eastern and western Catholic Church ever since.

As I see it: Peter was clearly the first among equals, or however we term it. Our Lord could not deceive when He said “Let him who is the greatest become as the least and the servant of all.” And, for this reason, the Holy Father describes himself as “Servant of the servants of God.” Peter’s role in the Gospels and in Acts was effectively as CEO of the earthly Church. Just as Judas had an office that needed to be filled, so did Peter, both by office and by role.

You will disagree. But, I do not see the Catholic position as non-scriptural, irrational, unworkable or inhuman. The Pope does not demand obedience - it is freely given to him.

From your reply, I can see that my point is not being appreciated. Let me clarify:

It is not a matter of what can or cannot be claimed about the Roman papacy, because as you rightfully point out, anything can be used to justify anything. Rather, the point is that if you are going to point to early documents that you say show some kind of unique role of the Roman Pope in intervening in disputes in churches beyond that of Rome or outside of Roman jurisdiction, then it will be quite easy to likewise point to other early letters, such as those I made reference to from HH Pope Dionysius of Alexandria to Roman Popes Stephen and Xystus, which (by your logic) should be say something about the jurisdiction of another bishop over the bishop of Rome. So it is the idea that this proves something unique about the Roman Pope that is in doubt, not the idea that Rome may have intervened at some early stage. Clearly the Roman bishop did, but so did others against the Roman bishop when he was seen by his brother bishops as being in error.

Also, what the Roman Pope calls himself doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. There are many such titles used by many leaders in the Church (no matter which communion you believe that is), but in taking them as some kind of literal fulfillment that applies to Rome and Rome only, the RCC thus places itself at variance with every other church. Would that the Pope of Alexandria, the first Pope of the world (according to history as recorded in a Roman Pope’s letter about our 13th Pope of Alexandria, HH St. Heraclas), actually were the “Judge of the Universe”, but most Christians do not take things literally that our Fathers likewise did not take literally.

You will believe as you want to believe, and I am not here to dissuade you from it, but rather my point is that as the RCC ecclesiology is unique to it, as nothing of its type developed elsewhere even in the other Petrine sees (those of Antioch and Alexandria; and, yes, I have read the Syriac Orthodox papers on “Petrine primacy” as they see it applying uniquely to them; crucially, you will not see in them any claim that their Patriarch should have jurisdiction over any other church), so really it’s not a matter of what you can claim is the unbroken line of belief dating back to the early Church. It’s actually a matter of what you can demonstrate to have been believed and acted upon throughout the whole Church, and for that to not be the case we need see the counterexamples of the type already presented.

As your claim is larger than that of the collegial churches (OO and EO), your evidence must be too, and simply isn’t there. Yes, you can find early letters indicating that Roman bishop did this or that, as you can find early letters indicating that the Coptic Pope, or Antiochian bishop, or whoever else did whatever they did. The key is: How did the rest of the Church react? Did the Church stand up and rebuke HH Pope Dionysius for daring to come into the controversy concerning baptism in North Africa decidedly against Pope Stephen in favor of St. Cyprian? No. Similarly, when Rome protested certain canons of the Council of Constantinople ostensibly on Alexandria’s behalf, did Alexandria therefore appeal to Rome’s supposed infallibility or universal jurisdiction? No. Alexandria accepted the canon that Rome rejected. Later on, when Pope Leo I wrote a latter to HH Pope Dioscoros urging that Alexandria adopt Roman practices, did Alexandria bow to the Roman Pope’s supposed authority and make the requested changes? No.

I could go on, but hopefully you get the point. When you talk to Orthodox about the “consistent tradition of the universal Church”, know that to determine what that is we do not only look at Rome’s actions as the sun around which the rest of the universal church revolves, but actually at each church’s prerogative as befits it according to the ancient canons of Nicaea onward, which, yes, of course recognize Rome in a place of primacy (no Orthodox deny this), but speak of all other churches likewise, i.e., that as Rome has its prerogatives, it is right that the other ancient sees have theirs. In other words, Rome’s jurisdiction is its own, and Alexandria its own, and Antioch its own, etc. You do not find any such instance whereby these prerogatives are ceded to Rome by virtue of its claimed superior or ultimate apostolic authority, via its connection to St. Peter or for any other reason (as Antioch and Alexandria are also Petrine sees, mind you), because primacy was not, at least outside of Rome’s own self-conception, equated with supremacy in the early Church.

I would respectfully disagree. The early councils taught the Trinity, etc., but they did not teach papal supremacy. In fact Nicea canon 6 seems to contradict the idea.

Let the ancient customs in Egypt, Libya and Pentapolis prevail, **that the Bishop of Alexandria have jurisdiction in all these, **since the like is customary for the Bishop of Rome also. Likewise in Antioch and the other provinces, let the Churches retain their privileges.

The Bishop of Alexanfria’s jurisdiction in Egypt, etc. is compared the Bishop of Rome’s jurisdiction - in his jurisdiction.


Your point may indeed be extremely well taken. Yet, as Catholics see it, the historical office of Peter, which settled in Rome, was created by Christ as prime among the twelve. All subsequent bishoprics, such as that of HH Pope Dionysius, were subsequently created by the Apostles, or by their successors as the Church grew. It is not a See of one of the twelve. That is also a point to appreciate, is it not?

How many Churches did Jesus promise to build? (Mt. 16:18)
How many rocks did He promise to build them upon? (mt. 16:18)
How many people did Jesus explicitly give keys to? (Mt. 16:19)
How many perpetual Royal Stewards are there in Jesus kingdom? (Is. 20:22)
How many bodies does Jesus have? (Colossians 3:15)
How many flocks are there? (Jn 10:16)
How many vicarious Shepherds did Jesus leave in His place? (Jn 21:15:20)
How many apostles did Jesus pray for and tell to strengthen the others? (Luke 22:30-32)
How many locations would Peter not go to strengthen the others if they needed him?

Hah! Got you with that last one…Peter would travel all over the world if necessary to strengthen and support the Church and bishops of that region, and his authority would be accepted without question wherever he went.

Universal jurisdiction. Completely Biblical. :thumbsup:

John Meyendorff an Orthodox priest said in his book " THE PRIMACY OF PETER ", Essays in Ecclesiology and the Early Church edited by John Meyendorff (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1992) :

"The earliest Fathers recognized the primacy of Rome (or what might be called “priority”) and Orthodox scholars generally concede this


“Let us turn to the facts. know that the Church of Rome took over the position of ‘church-with-priority’ at the end of the first century. That was about the time at which her star ascended into the firmament of history in its brightest splendor…Even as early as the Epistle to the Romans, Rome seems to have stood out among all the churches as very important. Paul bears witness that the faith of the Romans was proclaimed throughout the whole world (Rom 1:8)…we have a document which gives us our earliest reliable evidence that the Church of Rome stood in an exceptional position of authority in this period. This is the epistle of Clement of Rome…We know that Clement was ‘president’ of the Roman Church…” (page 124)

“The epistle is couched in very measured terms, in the form of an exhortation; but at the same time it clearly shows that the Church of Rome was aware of the decisive weight, in the Church of Corinth’s eyes, that must attach to its witness about the events in Corinth. So the Church of Rome, at the end of the first century, exhibits a marked sense of its own priority, in point of witness about events in other churches. Note also that the Roman Church did not feel obliged to make a case, however argued, to justify its authoritative pronouncements on what we should now call the internal concerns of other churches. There is nothing said about the grounds of this priority…** Rome had no doubt that its priority would be accepted without argument**.” (page 125-126

on ST. IRENAEUS (c. 180 AD)

"We shall find other evidence about the Roman position in Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons. His -Adversus Heareses- contains a famous passage, which has provoked a great many arguments. This is unquestionably the most important document of all with regard to the position of the Roman Chuch…Irenaeus calls on Apostolic Tradition to correct the mistaken heretics. This Tradition, he says, is guarded in every local church by the succession of bishops. It was not in his power to find proof of this in each local church, so he confines himself to one set of bishops only, and enumerates the bishops of Rome, a church in which Apostolic Tradition and the Faith proclaimed to mankind have been guarded up to his own times…Irenaeus believed he could confine himself to enumerating the succession in a single church, viz. the Roman Church, although he might have enumerated the successive bishops in every local church, as he says himself. He gives his own explanation for choosing the Church of Rome: he saw it as

‘the very great and the very ancient church, known to all, which the two most glorious apostles Peter and Paul founded and constituted.’

“…Irenaeus insists that anyone looking for the truth can find it in the Tradition of the Apostles, which every local church has preserved. **So we must suppose he thought that the Apostolic Tradition and the Faith proclaimed to mankind were preserved in the Roman Church more fully than in others, or, at least, in a more manifest way.**Later, Irenaeus points to this Church – Rome – as the one to which all other churches must -convenire-…I think a likelier sense of -convenire- here is ‘address oneself to,’ ‘turn to,’ ‘have recourse to.’ The sense of the remark would then be: every local church should have recourse to the Church of RomeThis passage in Irenaeus [from Against Heresies 3:4:1] illuminates the meaning of his remarks about the Church of Rome: if there are disputes in a local church, that church should have recourse to the Roman Church, for there is contained the Tradition which is preserved by all the churches.

“Rome’s vocation [in the “pre-Nicene period”] consisted in ** There are numerous cases of this recourse to Rome…” (page 128f, 133)


“…according to his 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].” (page 98-99)



" **…There is no doubt that an objective study of the evidence yields the conclusion that the Catholic Church believed in Universal Primacy, had an Ecumenical center of unity and agreement in Rome, and the unanimous testimony of the Fathers and Councils demonstrates this – and to deny this is based purely on “anti-Roman prejudice” **

"Finally we come to the highest and ultimate form of primacy: universal primacy. An age-long anti-Roman prejudice has led some Orthodox canonists simply to deny the existence of such primacy in the past or the need for it in the present. But an objective study of the canonical tradition cannot fail to establish beyond any doubt that, along with local ‘centers of agreement’ or primacies, the Church has also known a universal primacy…

"It is impossible to deny that, even before the appearance of local primacies, the Church from the first days of her existence possessed an ecumenical center of unity and agreement. In the apostolic and the Judaeo-Christian period, it was the Church of Jerusalem, and later the Church of Rome – ‘presiding in agape,’ according to St. Ignatius of Antioch. This formula and the definition of the universal primacy contained in it have been aptly analyzed by Fr. Afanassieff and we need not repeat his argument here. Neither can we quote here all the testimonies of the Fathers and the Councils unanimously acknowledging Rome as the senior church and the center of ecumenical agreement.

"It is only for the sake of biased polemics that one can ignore these testimonies, their consensus and significance "

A Pre-Schism (7th century) Eastern Father, St.Maximus the Confessor said :

"they have not conformed to the sense of the Apostolic see, and what is laughable, or rather lamentable, as proving their ignorance, they have not hesitated to lie against the Apostolic see itself . . . but have claimed the great Honorius on their side. . . . What did the divine Honorius do, and after him the aged Severinus, and John who followed him? Yet further, what supplication has the blessed pope, who now sits, not made? Have not the whole East and West brought their tears, laments, obsecrations, deprecations, both before God in prayer and before men in their letters? If the Roman see recognizes Pyrrhus to be not only a reprobate but a heretic, it is certainly plain that everyone who anathematizes those who have rejected Pyrrhus, anathematizes the see of Rome that is, he anathematizes the Catholic Church. I need hardly add that he excommunicates himself also, if indeed he be in communion with the Roman see and the Church of God… It is not right that one who has been condemned and cast out by the Apostolic see of the city of Rome for his wrong opinions should be named with any kind of honour, until he be received by her, having returned to her — nay, to our Lord — by a pious confession and orthodox faith, by which he can receive holiness and the title of holy… Let him hasten before all things to satisfy the Roman see, for if it is satisfied all will agree in calling him pious and orthodox. For he only speaks in vain who thinks he ought to persuade or entrap persons like myself, **and does not satisfy and implore the blessed pope of the most holy Church of the Romans, that is, the Apostolic see, which from the incarnate Son of God Himself, and also by all holy synods, according to the holy canons and definitions, has received universal and supreme dominion, authority and power of binding and loosing over all the holy Churches of God which are in the whole world ** for with it the Word who is above the celestial powers binds and looses in heaven also. For if he thinks he must satisfy others, and fails to implore the most blessed Roman pope, he is acting like a man who, when accused of murder or some other crime, does not hasten to prove his innocence to the judge appointed by the law, but only uselessly and without profit does his best to demonstrate his innocence to private individuals, who have no power to acquit him. "

First Council of Jerusalem circa 50 AD. Read: Act 15:1 - 11

Act 15:7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter, rising up, said to them:

Act 15:12 And all the multitude held their peace

Basically; a great debate going nowhere; Peter makes his this is how it’s gonna be statement everybody shuts up and on to the next topic.

Which See are you referring to when writing “it is not a See of one of the twelve” – Alexandria? For sure it isn’t, but even ancient Roman sources recognized it as one of the sees by which the See of St. Peter is “in three places the See of one” (Pope Gregory, Letter to Eulogius, c.6th century), so to argue otherwise based on now some supposed primacy of the twelve over St. Mark (peculiar, as St. Mark was taught Christian doctrine by St. Peter himself, so one wonders how an apostle in such direct contact with the greatest of the twelve would not thereby carry authority on that account, but some later Roman guy who had never even met St. Peter would have that authority passed down via some imagined “office”…but I digress…) is to contradict your own Popes to at least some degree.

As to any supposed “office” of St. Peter, that is certainly not a point I would appreciate it, though I recognize that this is one of the things that divides us. There is no office of St. Peter or any other apostle.

“Rome has spoken; the case is closed”
-St. Augustine

(Sermon 131:10)

St. Cyprian on the Church and the Papacy

St. Athanasius, Arianism, and the Holy See

St. John Chrysostom on the Apostle Peter

St. Jerome and Rome

I hate to be blunt, OP, but if it was so easy to see, then why aren’t we all Orthodox?

The same question could be reversed: If the RCC claims are so obvious from the supposed evidences provided in threads like these and in RCC apologetics throughout the world, why aren’t we all RC?

Probably the most honest thing anyone in any communion can say is “I’m what I am because I find it to be right, and therefore other things are wrong”, but that’s apparently no fun… :wink:

You accept the ecumenical council of Ephesus, do you not?

Philip, presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See 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, the holy members by our [or your] holy voices,(1) ye 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.** And since now our mediocrity, after having been tempest-tossed and much vexed, has arrived, we ask that ye give order that there be laid before us what things were done in this holy Synod before our arrival; in order that according to the opinion of our blessed pope and of this present holy assembly, we likewise may ratify their determination.

Philip the presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See said: There is no doubt, and in fact it has been known in all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince ( exarkos ) and head of the Apostles, pillar of the faith, and foundation ( qemelios ) of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Redeemer of the human race, and that to him was given the power of loosing and binding sins: who down even to to-day and forever both lives and judges in his successors. The holy and most blessed pope Coelestine, according to due order, is his successor and holds his place, and us he sent to supply his place m this holy synod, which the most humane and Christian Emperors have commanded to assemble, bearing in mind and continually watching over the Catholic faith. For they both have kept and are now keeping intact the apostolic doctrine handed down to them from their most pious and humane grandfathers and fathers of holy memory down to the present time, etc.

And that reference of Pope St. Gregory, i.e., " in three places the See of one", is not repudiating the fact that Pope St. Gregory is the rightful successor to St. Peter, i.e., he is simply stating that Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch are all Petrine Sees (Mark was sent by Peter to Alexandria).

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