Primacy of the bishop of Rome.

More and more i read the history of the Church, the more i realize that the bishop of Rome was not what it is now. It seems like he was just another bishop,(maybe just more honourable than others because he was successor of Peter) which power became increasing because Rome was the capital, it was the only apostolic see in the west,… What evidence do we Catholics have, that he had even in the first centuries, authority over the entire Church, and that he exercised it, and that other bishops and members of the Church taught that he had it?

What do you think has ensured the kind of unity in the west that can allow the RCC to call together councils from all the churches still in communion with Rome from all the various countries they exist in-and have existed in for centuries. Compare that to the east where most churches are isolated by geography, with authority rarely extending beyond national lines, where an ecumenical council among the EO is pretty well impossible nowadays as it has been for centuries. Which church is truly catholic, i.e. universal?

Why do we believe it? Because the Early Church Fathers asserted that it was so.

Stephen Ray has written on this subject, as well.

I was also Roman Catholic and I started reading into such things as well. I finally realized after reading much information and looking at objective history (with the help of a trained Catholic historian) that the claims of papal primacy of power as it is today, is not what the early church ever had. It was a process over time. I finally realized that the papal claims just don’t add up.

I first looked at the claim of papal supremacy. This lead me to the historical fact that It didn’t exist in the early church. Sure their are early church fathers who seem to suggest some sort of papal supremacy, however there are just as many who say the opposite. Such as Pope Pregory the great for example. The pope of Rome had always been first among equals. Looking at apostolic canon 34(35) will tell you this.

“The bishops of every nation must acknowledge him who is first among them and account him as their head, and do nothing of consequence without his consent; but each may do those things only which concern his own parish, and the country places which belong to it. But neither let him (who is the first) do anything without the consent of all; for so there will be unanimity, and God will be glorified through the Lord in the Holy Spirit.”

So in short, no bishop or patriarch can do anything of consequence without the pope’s approval, and the pope of Rome cannot do anything of consequence without the approval of all. This is not consistent with the currant papacy. And it was this sort of thing that started the great schism.

Then I looked at papal infallibility. And again, it never existed in the early church. It was an innovation in the 1800’s that actually caused a great riff in the Catholic Church.

After I looked at those two major items, I delve into the other things which divide us. Over and over again, it all pointed to the Orthodox Church. One thing that I kept trying to justify was the idea within the Catholic Church that of “doctrinal/ dogmatic development”. Starting becoming popular in the Latin Middle Ages with people like Thomas aquinas and the like. Saying that these sort of things develop fully over time. That they were incomplete in the early church, but were either fulfilled or fully revealed later. I couldn’t justify such an idea, no matter how much I wanted to. When you read Jude 1:3 " 3 Beloved, while I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I felt it needful to write to you in order to encourage you to fight hard for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." It seems incompatible with that whole idea.

Well I would like to point out some things first. Their are still councils with us EO, not ecumenical councils, but still councils. There hasn’t been a need for ecumenical councils. In the past, they were called when a big herasy was rampant in the church. There isn’t any heresy running around in the church. So no need for an ecumenical council. Also the word catholic doesn’t mean universal. The Catholic Church adopted this definition later on. Based upon the writings of justin martyr and other early church fathers, the word catholic means " complete, full, lacking nothing" so in this sense the Orthodox Church Is catholic, and truly the most catholic. Also let’s look at the creed where it says " the one Holy, catholic, and apostolic church" well when you translate the word katholikos in English it is catholic because there isn’t a real good english word for it. Same thing with Latin. However when you look at the creed when it was written in Slavonic, where there was a good Slavonic word for it. The word katholikos turns into a word that more or less means " council- based".:smiley:

What exactly are you looking for? Those are very different questions. One can easily have authority without actually using it that much. And it was not easy for the Pope to use it in the first centuries. Remember that there was no Internet at that time. Messages had to be written by hand and someone had to carry them to the recipient. Also, if someone wanted two recipients in towns that are not very close, it was necessary to write and send two messages. And if the authorities were actively persecuting the Church, things could be even more difficult.

Under such conditions the Pope couldn’t, let’s say, appoint every single bishop in practice, even if he had such right in theory.

Also, do you often hear a homily about papal infallibility or primacy now? I wouldn’t expect that - it is not a doctrine that makes that much of a difference to a random layman (although it is far more important to apologists, theologians, bishops…). Thus we shouldn’t expect much direct evidence of it from those times (and let’s not forget that we only have a small sample of writings from then).

OK, we should go with Slavonic, then-a linguistic usage which happened to become popular well after the ecumenical councils which were already accepted by the East. :shrug:

I was nearly pointing out that the word “catholic” doesn’t necessarily mean universal, and actually had a completely different meaning in the early church, according to the early fathers such as justin martyr. I was not implying that we have to use slavonic

Timi Celcer #1
More and more i read the history of the Church, the more i realize that the bishop of Rome was not what it is now. It seems like he was just another bishop,(maybe just more honourable than others because he was successor of Peter) which power became increasing because Rome was the capital, it was the only apostolic see in the west,… What evidence do we Catholics have, that he had even in the first centuries, authority over the entire Church, and that he exercised it, and that other bishops and members of the Church taught that he had it?

The evidence:
The first error is in disregarding the mandate of Jesus, the Son of God, in installing Peter as His Supreme Vicar:
All four promises to Peter alone:
“You are Peter and on this rock I will build My Church.” (Mt 16:18)
“The gates of hell will not prevail against it.”(Mt 16:18)
“I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven." ( Mt 16:19)
“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.” (Mt 16:19) [Later, also to the Twelve].

Sole authority:
“Strengthen your brethren.” (Lk 22:32)
“Feed My sheep.”(Jn 21:17).

So the other Apostles were NOT given this supreme authority given to Christ’s Supreme Vicar.

The second error is in disregarding history.
Already, Peter had exercised his supreme authority in the upper room before Pentecost to have Judas’ place filled. At the first Apostolic Council of Jerusalem Peter settled the heated discussion over circumcising the gentiles and “the whole assembly fell silent” (Acts 15:7-12). Paul made sure that his ministry to the gentiles was recognised by, Peter (Gal 1:I8).

The third successor of St Peter, Clement, wrote to the Catholics of Corinth in A.D. 95: “If any man should be disobedient unto the words spoken by God through us, let them understand that they will entangle themselves in no slight transgression and danger… Render obedience to the things written by us through the Holy Spirit.” (I Clem. ad Cor. 59,1). This Is The Faith, Francis J Ripley, Fowler Wright Books, 1971, p 151; 139-141].

About Pope Victor I’s declaration by edict, about the year 200, that any local Church that failed to conform with Rome was excluded from the union with the one Church by heresy, none other than the radical protestant Adolph von Harnack admitted that Victor I was “recognised, in his capacity of bishop of Rome, as the special guardian of the ‘common unity’… " (See And On This Rock, p 118, 1987, Trinity Communications, Fr Stanley L Jaki).

Harnack asked: “How would Victor have ventured on such an edict – though indeed he had not the power of enforcing it in every case – unless the special prerogative of Rome to determine the conditions of the ‘common unity’ in the vital questions of faith had been an acknowledged and well-established fact?”

How strange that primacy and infallibility can be ignored when it suits – such as with the case of the Orthodox Churches over the infallible teaching against contraception, denial of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, and the permission of divorce and remarriage.

As the faith and mind of Christ are made clear by His institution of primacy and infallibility in faith and morals in His chosen leader St Peter and his successors, so everything that is orthodox (faithful and universal) depends on that fact.

The key is that “there is no sure norm outside of the Catholic Church”, because only She teaches with the infallibility conferred by Christ. Confusion and uncertainty come from fallible teaching and picking and choosing.

BTW, Catholic was first used by St Ignatius of Antioch in his letter to the Smyrneans, A.D. 107, “Where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” It is from the Greek katholike meaning “general” or “universal”. Within 90 years it meant also “orthodox” or faithful to the teachings of Christ. (The Catholic Catechism, Fr John A Hardon, S.J., Doubleday, 1975, p 217).

Hmm… ‘catholic’ – that is, καθολικὴν – means “according to the whole”, right? In OCS, isn’t it a form of ‘soborno’ – that is, ‘conciliar’? That would seem to be quite a different concept than that expressed in the creed… :shrug:

Still, according to Russian Wikipedia (link), the modern Russian translation says “И во единую, Святую, Вселенскую и Апостольскую Церковь.” - with “Вселенскую”, meaning (more or less) “universal” (or “of the Universe”, from “Вселенная” - Universe)…

And while the Church Slavonic translation says “Во еди́ну Святу́ю, Собо́рную и Апо́стольскую Це́рковь.” and “Ecumenical Council” is translated as “Вселенский Собор”, it might be a bit inaccurate to translate “Соборную” as “council-based”… By itself, “council” would be translated as “совет” (although it can also be translated back into English as “Soviet”). Thus “council-based” would be “советская” (“советский” for masculine nouns). Thankfully, that is not in the creed - the other connotations would be most unfortunate…

And the words “Соборная” and “Собор” should be related to “собрать” - more or less “to collect together”… That is rather close to “Universal”…

Well that’s interesting. If you would like , let’s look at the early church fathers opinions about Matthew 16:18. I will quote from archbishop Kendrick during Vatican 1: "In a remarkable pamphlete printed in fac-simile of manuscript and presented to the fathers almost two months ago, we find five different interpretations of the word “rock”, in the place cited; "the first of which declares (I transcribe the words) "that the church was built on Peter; and this interpretation is followed by seventeen fathers, among them, by Origen, Cyprian, Jerome, Hilary, Cyril of Alexandria, Leo the Great, Augustine.
"The second interpretation understands from these words ‘on this rock will I build my church’, that the church was built on all the apostles, whom Peter represented by virtue of the primacy. And this opinion is followed by eight fathers - among them, Origen, Cyprian, Jerome, Augustine, Theodoret.
“The third interpretation asserts that the words, ‘on this rock’, etc, are to be understood of the faith which Peter had professed - that this profession of faith, by which we believe Christ to be the Son of the Living God, is the everlasting and immovable foundation of the church. This interpretation is the weightiest of all, since it is followed by forty-four fathers and doctors; among them, from the East, are Gregory of Nyssa, Cyril of Alexandria, Chrysostom, Theophylact; from the West, Hilary, Ambrose, Leo the Great; from Africa, Augustine.
The fourth interpretation declare that the words ‘on this rock’, etc, are to be understood of the rock which Peter had confessed, that is, Christ - that the church was built upon Christ. This interpretation is followed by sixteen fathers and doctors.
The fifth interpretation of the fathers understands by the name of ‘the rock’, the faithful themselves, who, believing Christ to be the Son of God, are constituted living stones out of which the church is built.
Thus far the author of the pamphlet aforesaid, in which may be read the words of the fathers and doctors whom he cites.
From this it follows, either that no argument at all, or one of the slenderest probability, is to be derived from the words, ‘on this rock will I build my church’, in support of the primacy. Unless it is certain that by ‘the rock’ is to be understood the apostle Peter in his own person, and not in his capacity as the chief apostle speaking for them all, the word supplies no argument whatever, I do not say in proof of papal infalibility, but even in support of the primacy of the bishop of Rome. If we are bound to follow the majority of the fathers in this thing, then we are bound to hold for certain that by ‘the rock’ should be understood the faith professed by Peter, not Peter professing the faith.”

If you want to talk about things like contraception, immaculate conception, and divorce. Immaculate conception was never present in the early church. Many fathers said that she was born with the original/ ancestral sin and record that she died a natural death( which would be a result of the original sin.) while mary stayed free from personal sin. The Orthodox Church condemns abortion causing contraception as murder. It condemns other forms of contraception as well unless medical necessity. No early father condemned non abortion causing contraception. And finally the early church gave permissible reasons for divorce and remarriage. Such as adultery, abandonment, and a few other reasons. Our Lord did not permit divorce and remarriage unless adultery had occurred. 1 Corinthians gave permission to divorce if you spouse was an unbeliever and they wanted to divorce. So the Orthodox Church will allow divorce in some occasions but will only allow remarriage if it was adultery or for the spiritual well being of the person.

I commend your faith and zeal, however the currant view of the Roman Catholic Church on the papacy is historically incorrect and against what the early church practiced and taught.
Look at pope gregory the great who taught very plainly against primacy of power. Look at Origen who taught the same, pope Leo IIi who condemned the fillloque, terullian who also taught against primacy of power. I could go on and on.

If peter was infallible, why would Paul be rebuking him about teaching falsely to the Gentiles? Why was peter not the head of the council of Jerusalem in the book of acts. James was the head. Why did peter never claim infallibility or a supremacy of power in his epistles. Even if peter had a primacy of power, he founded 3 apostolic sees. Antioch, Alexandria through mark, and finally Rome. Whose to say that it has to be Rome? Here’s a good read for you:

OK. :slight_smile: And I was just pointing out that Slavonic usage itself wasn’t so early.

True, Russia wasn’t a Christian nation until 988 AD, if I remember correctly.

Well in reguards to the " four promises to peter alone"

  1. " you are peter, and it is on this rock I will build my church"
    There was no consensus by the early church fathers on this verse and actually according to the fathers, your view ( and the currant roman church view) was a minority. Also peter founded 3 apostolic sees, not just Rome.

  2. “The gates of hell will not prevail against it”
    This refers to Christ’s church. Not Peter. This is quite obvious, because as Peter founded 3 Apostolic sees which are not in communion with each other as of now.

  3. " I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven" look at the words, " I will" denotes a future action. Also there was a beautiful funeral prayer that all churches used prior to the great schism that said that all the apostles were given the keys of the kingdom.

  4. " whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven…"
    Also given to the other apostles. A great example showing that first among equals thing that the pope of Rome Denied. Peter was given it first, but the others were given and equal power later.

I would disagree with your opinion when you quoted the scenes from acts. Paul rebuked peter for false teaching of the Gentiles over circumcision. So much so that peter led Barnabas away.

Well there is a quite a bit of wiggle room within the Catholic Church on some aspects. Just look at the cults, like the Jehovah’s witnesses. They are regulated on everything they believe so that they are all the same without difference in any belief. On course we both know that they are a crazy cult:)
Just look at the early church, just look at the fathers. There was hardly ever a consensus with them. Look at the book of acts, they disagreed completely. So to say that there are varying opinions within Orthodoxy proves it’s wrong, is line satin the early church was wrong because they had varying beliefs.

Very interesting thread


Huh…You are relying on a protestant…an anti catholic at that…for your information…:shrug:

Here is a refutation of the claims of your article that you have cited:

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