Question on papal succession

A recent thread got me thinking. I think many logical minded people would agree that Peter was given unique authority in the early Church. Some of the disagreement comes from those that followed him.

My understanding is that Peter and the next few popes appointed their own successors. Later, popes were either appointed by outside kings or by popular election of cardinals.

How/why was the change(s) made? I can see Peter (having special authority from God) being able to pass that on, but after the process of appointing your own successor ended; how do we know that the right pope is chosen?

Acts 1
23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.

The Catholic Encyclopedia article “Papal Elections” has a lot of information that directly addresses your questions. Please note that this article is from 1911; there may be more up-to-date scholarship on the subject.

That was replacing a “normal” Apostle; not their leader.

If it was important for a lesser Apostle to be replaced, why would the head of the Apostles not be replaced, also?

TxGodfollower #1
My understanding is that Peter and the next few popes appointed their own successors. Later, popes were either appointed by outside kings or by popular election of cardinals.

How/why was the change(s) made? I can see Peter (having special authority from God) being able to pass that on, but after the process of appointing your own successor ended; how do we know that the right pope is chosen?

“According to St Irenaeus, the first after the Apostles, Linus, was appointed by the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul themselves. From then until the conversion of Constantine in 312 A.D., Popes were elected by a majority choice of the clergy of Rome. For some 400 years after the conversion of Constantine, the clergy and laity of Rome could alone validly elect a Pope, but various Christian Emperors had the right to nominate the candidate and confirm the election.

“In 768 A.D. a Roman Synod restricted rights of election to the clergy of Rome only. The Third Lateran Council in 1179 limited the right of electing a Pope to the Cardinals only.”
Questions People Ask, Dr Leslie Rumble, M.S.C., S.T.D., Chevalier Books, 1975, p141].

The fact that there have been some unchaste Popes merely shows the reality that Popes do not posses impeccability (preservation from sin), but as Christ granted – infallibility in teaching to the whole Church in dogma or doctrine on faith and morals.

I am not saying that it is unimportant, but of authority. Peter was still there, so his blessed authority was intact. Where is the blessing of man to designate the next holder of that authority?

TxGodfollower #7
Peter was still there, so his blessed authority was intact. Where is the blessing of man to designate the next holder of that authority?

Christ Himself proclaimed: “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you." (John 14:18). “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in My name, He will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” (John 14:26) “But when He comes, the Spirit of truth, He will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on His own, but He will speak what He hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that He will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13-15)

Following Professor Oscar Cullmann, Dr. John Lowe writes in his book, “Saint Peter”, p. 56: “Reluctance to admit this” (that Peter was the ‘Rock’) “has been due, consciously or unconsciously, to the fear that such an admission is to concede the claims of Rome.” Declaring this is a wrong approach, he says the argument should now be, not a denial of St. Peter’s unique position, but a denial that the office given to St. Peter was transferable to any successors. “No one,” he writes, “could take over Peter’s function as the Rock man.”

In this, he adopts with Cullmann what Cardinal Journet, in his book The Primacy of Peter, p. 50, describes as Dr. Cullmann’s “false dilemma”, namely, that Peter’s office must either perish with him, or survive him in its entirety. There is an alternative position, that held by Catholics. Catholics hold that St. Peter was endowed with an extraordinary non-communicable gift (as an immediate apostle and witness of the life and resurrection of Jesus) relating to the foundation of the Church, but also with an ordinary communicable gift transmissible to successors and necessary for the preservation of the Church. No Pope claims to be the “Rock” on which the Church is built. The claim is simply that St. Peter’s supreme “episcopal” authority is still exercised in the Church through the succession of bishops elected to the primatial See of Rome.

the apostles were given the authority to bind in heaven and on earth.

using that authority, peter, his successor and the successors to the other apostles had and have authority to determine the means of filling the petrine office when it falls vacant.

the means can vary enormously, as history demonstrates.

That nuance gets overlooked many times. Of course the Apostles “the twelve” are par excellence and unique. That in no way invalidates Apostolic succession. Cullmann went too far.

I suspect it was important at the time to have a fairly broad-based method of choosing a new pope, since being pope kinda put one fairly high on the list of “Purina Lion Chow” candidates (i.e. there needed to be a way to ensure that there* would be* a new pope if the previous one died before being able to appoint his successor).

Purina Lion Chow :clapping:

That line made my day.

Those verses seem to imply that we don’t need apostle oversight at all; we have the Holy Spirit guiding us to all truth.

TxGodfollower #13
Those verses seem to imply that we don’t need apostle oversight at all; we have the Holy Spirit guiding us to all truth.

That insinuates that Christ was addressing many others besides His very own Apostles, but this is at the Last Supper and He is exclusively addressing His Apostles. Of course the insinuation is completely at variance with the reality of Christ building His Catholic Church with St Peter as His Chief Vicar.

Outside of the Catholic Church, the contradictions and loss of so much that Christ instituted, shows why Christ built His own Catholic Church on St Peter and the Apostles, for He instituted His Church with:
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 to the Twelve, also].

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

The first error is in disregarding the mandate of Jesus, the Son of God, in founding His Church and installing St Peter as His 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).

How’s that working out?

Do you baptize infants or not?
Does baptism regenerate or not?
Do you have eternal security or not?
Do you ordain women or not?

See my point? :shrug:

Folks on both sides of those issues claim to be led by the Spirit into all truth.

The testimony of St. Irenaeus notwithstanding, the preponderance of historical opinion is very much doubtful when it comes to the assertion that Peter- or anyone, for that matter- appointed anyone as a replacement for him. The historical consensus leans overall fairly heavily toward the conclusion that there was no plan for succession within Peter’s lifetime, and this assessment is not entirely uncommon among Catholic historians, although they do tend to be penalized for saying what their research suggests so they are less inclined to say it than they otherwise might be.

St. Ignatius of Antioch is a very early witness to the practice and belief of apostolic succession. It is clear in the New Testament itself that the Apostles appointed bishops / presbyters in every place and some of those they appointed exercise special authority over other presbyters (Sts. Timothy and Titus for example whom St. Paul left in charge of local churches). St. Ignatius, who personally knew the apostles, or at least St. John, testifies that the bishops succeeded the apostles in their ministry. Why wouldn’t this apply to St. Peter? These arguments often come down to debates over papal authority, but in reality the foundation of the entire teaching is the broader concept of apostolic succession and the college of bishops (whose head is the Bishop of Rome / Successor of Peter).

In fact we see the first four generations of apostolic succession right there in Scripture. Paul told Timothy, “[W]hat you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). In this passage he refers to the first four generations of apostolic succession—his own generation, Timothy’s generation, the generation Timothy will teach, and the generation they will teach.

For that matter, Scripture also shows that apostolic succession is the ordinary means of transmitting apostolic authority and the Gospel message. I recommend reading, “By What Authority?

Irenaeus
“The blessed apostles [Peter and Paul], having founded and built up the church [of Rome] . . . handed over the office of the episcopate to Linus” (Against Heresies 3:3:3 [A.D. 189]).

Tertullian
“[T]his is the way in which the apostolic churches transmit their lists: like the church of the Smyrneans, which records that Polycarp was placed there by John, like the church of the Romans, where Clement was ordained by Peter” (Demurrer Against the Heretics 32:2 [A.D. 200]).
catholic.com/tracts/peters-successors

Those who doubt the historical facts need to reconsider the reality.

Please back these statements up with links to these Catholic historians. I can show you probably 10 times the amount of Catholic historians who do see papal succession in Peter’s lifetime. And please provide a link showing the penalty that has been applied? Please show me an article that shows the consensus of historians also.

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