The Church, the Catechism, and the Keys

From time to time, one hears the assertion that Jesus did not give the keys of the kingdom to Peter alone. Instead, it is argued that all of the Apostles received the keys, and various scriptures are offered as “proof” including verses from both Matthew 18 and John 20. Interestingly, even paragraph 981 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is claimed to support this wider distribution of keys; it states:

981 After his Resurrection, Christ sent his apostles “so that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations.” The apostles and their successors carry out this “ministry of reconciliation,” not only by announcing to men God’s forgiveness merited for us by Christ, and calling them to conversion and faith; but also by communicating to them the forgiveness of sins in Baptism, and reconciling them with God and with the Church through the power of the keys, received from Christ:

[INDENT][The Church] has received the keys of the Kingdom of heaven so that, in her, sins may be forgiven through Christ’s blood and the Holy Spirit’s action. In this Church, the soul dead through sin comes back to life in order to live with Christ, whose grace has saved us.[/INDENT]

As should be obvious from the text, the Church has received the keys because Peter has them. As a result, the authority to forgive sins has been given to men - not to a man - but to men. Jesus says this clearly in Matthew 9:8. Nothing like the idea that all the other Apostles receive the keys can be supported from paragraph 981.

That non-Catholic polemicists are engaged in proof-texting becomes even more obvious when the Church’s position on the possession of the keys is examined in the broader context of the Catechism. For example:

553 Jesus entrusted a specific authority to Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” The “power of the keys” designates authority to govern the house of God, which is the Church. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, confirmed this mandate after his Resurrection: “Feed my sheep.” The power to “bind and loose” connotes the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgments, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. Jesus entrusted this authority to the Church through the ministry of the apostles and in particular through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom he specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom.

881 The Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the “rock” of his Church. He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock. “The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of apostles united to its head.” This pastoral office of Peter and the other apostles belongs to the Church’s very foundation and is continued by the bishops under the primacy of the Pope.

936 The Lord made St. Peter the visible foundation of his Church. He entrusted the keys of the Church to him. The bishop of the Church of Rome, successor to St. Peter, is “head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ and Pastor of the universal Church on earth”

From this, we can see clearly that the Catholic Church rejects any attempts to distribute the keys of the kingdom equally to all of the Apostles. She possesses the keys of the kingdom because Peter and his successors retain them.

:popcorn:

ha! :popcorn::popcorn:

I have a question: if this is the case, how can it be claimed that Roman Catholics believe in the episcopate as having authority de iure divino? Doesn’t it look rather like the bishops are able to forgive sins only in their capacity as appointees of the Bishop of Rome? Doesn’t this make them more like delegates of the Holy See than successors of the Apostles in individual local churches?

Sounds like we need a canon lawyer. :stuck_out_tongue:

However, Jesus commissioned all of the Apostles in Mt. 18 and Jn 20:23…but only AFTER the authority to forgive had been transferred to men through the keys entrusted to Peter.

One commentary on Mt. 18 says, " In Mt. 16:19, Peter was invested with Christ’s authority as visible head of the Church. A derivative - but subordinate - is given also to the apostles as Royal Ministers of the kingdom.

Now doesn’t that sound to you as if the Pope is the one universal bishop, and that all other bishops are really his presbyterate? Just as the priests gathered around the bishop of the local church have authority only insofar as they share his?

No the bishops have authority directly from Christ but only in communion with the universal Church. The bishop of Rome is the foundation or pillar of that unity.

The bishops - the Pope included - are shepherds of the Lord’s sheep. The Church is the Lord’s sheepfold. The sheep are not the private property or personal belongings of the Church’s shepherds. They have authority to guide them only in and through Christ: as the Lord says, He is the gate to the sheepfold and anyone who tries to enter in without or around Him is a thief and a bandit.

Ultimately someone had to govern the Lord’s house or sheepfold on earth. The Church is one: the Lord did not say, “And on this rock I will build my Churches”. Rather, he said, “And on this rock I will build my Church.” The Lord always stressed the unity and oneness of His Church. To maintain and ensure this unity, the Lord singled out Saint Peter.

The keys given to Saint Peter have a parallel in the Old Testament to the giving of the keys of the Holy City of Jerusalem (especially the gates of the city): Saint Peter can, therefore, open and shut or grant access and deny access to the City. That is the biblical basis of the imagery of the keys. No doubt this is the source of the tale about entering Heaven through “Saint Peter’s gate”.

The Pope is not an “ecumenical bishop”: his bishopric does not replace or supplant or uproot the other bishop’s own bishoprics. Saint Peter’s bishopric supports and upholds the others as a foundation. The authority of the bishops has a vertical and horizontal dimension: the vertical is that they, too, directly represent to us the authority of Christ on earth here and now; the horizontal is the basis or condition of that authority; namely, unity in and with the universal Church, which is guaranteed by or through communion with Saint Peter and his Successors.

The bishops are Christ’s legates; not, that is, the Pope’s.

THE WORK OF ST. OPTATUS
BISHOP OF MILEVIS
AGAINST THE DONATISTS
BY THE REV. O. R. VASSALL-PHILLIPS, B.A.
BALLIOL COLLEGE, OXFORD PRIEST OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE MOST HOLY REDEEMER

Pg 284 “Peter Alone” footnote
3 bono unitatis beatus Petrus . . . et pvaejevvi Apostolis omnibus meruit et claves vegni caelorum communicandas ceteris solus accepit.

After communicandas some Gallican and Anglican authorities have supplied a Christo. Thus Dr. Pusey (Note R to Tertullian, Oxford Translation of the Fathers). Similarly Mr. Denny (op.cit., n. 1165) writes that is, as Bossuet says, that Peter –first received the keys which were afterwards to be imparted to the Apostles (Matt, xviii and John xx), but to be imparted not by Peter, but by Christ, as is clear. Dr. Pusey sends us to Du Pin.

Now it is curious that in his edition of St. Optatus Du Pin has no note whatsoever on this passage. Dr. Pusey, however, refers to his De Antigua Ecclesiae disciplina Dissertationes historicae, where we read as follows (Diss. iv, cap. i) : communicandas ceteris (id est quod Christus commendaturus BYat ceteris). But it should be noted that neither Du Pin nor Bossuet nor Denny say one single word in support of their view that a Christo should be understood after the word communicandas in this passage of Optatus. It is simple assertion, to which Bossuet adds the words as is clear (Defensio Decl. Cleri Gallicani, pars III, lib. viii, cap. xii, torn, ii, p. 90) ; on the other hand, it should be observed that we nowhere read either in Matt, xviii or in John xx the passages referred to by Bossuet that Christ gave the Keys to the other Apostles.

With regard to the words of St. Optatus we may note in the first place that we shall search in vain for any passage where he states that Christ gave the Keys to the other Apostles ; on the contrary Optatus says expressly, both here and in i, 10 ( ut haeretici omnes neque claves habeant, quas solus Petrus accepit ), that Peter alone received them ; so that for the Gallican interpretation of this passage to be possible we should have to change the word solus to primus the alone of Optatus for the first of Bossuet; secondly that, though Optatus uses the verb communicare in eighteen places, in every other case it is used intransitively twice absolutely and fifteen times with the dative in the technical sense of ecclesiastical communion (to be in communion with) .

Here however we find the usual classical construction, communicare aliquid (here claves) cum aliquo or alicui (here ceteris) , Communicare aliquid alicui always means in Latin to give something (e.g. information, power, here the Keys) to someone else, without ceasing to possess it oneself to make it a common possession shared between oneself and the other (cf. Liv. Lib. xxiii, 5 : Civitatem nostram magnae parti vestrum dedimus communicavimusque vobiscum/ and Cicero De Inv. ii, 39 : Praemia virtutis non oportet cum improbis communicari ).

This is undeniable and forces us to see that the gloss a Christo is impossible apart from the exigencies of controversy and does violence to the text, to which indeed it is in direct opposition. The meaning is clear beyond all doubt the Keys which he was to communicate to the rest. St. Peter had to impart to the other Apostles, for them to use also, the Keys which, as their Head (cf. infra), he had himself alone received from Christ.

Peace

It is how I always had understood it. You made a great argument! I am sure that there will be those who will disagree with what you wrote, but that’s what debates are for. Keep up the good work!

Randy,
If the Catholic Church wants to believe that the Church has the keys because St. Peter has/received them, that’s ok with me. The fact is Peter received them first, followed by the rest of the apostles, and then the Church as a whole. The fact is the Church has them, and exercises them as Christ intended.

Jon

Plainly I misunderstand this dogma. Carried to it’s logical end it would mean that only the Holy Father could give absolution and ordain. For only the Holy Father has the keys? :confused:

Peter did receive them, and the Church as a whole has them as a result of the fact that he is the head of the Church.

But, no, the other apostles did not receive 22 more keys. The word “keys” does not appear in Mt. 18.

Can a bishop authorize a priest to hear confession and give absolution?

the priest has no authority tto hear confessions until the bishop gives him the faculty to do so.

What of St John Chrysostom when speaking of St John the Evangelist?For the son of thunder, the beloved of Christ, the pillar of the Churches throughout the world, who holds the keys of heaven, who drank the cup of Christ, and was baptized with His baptism, who lay upon his Master’s bosom with much confidence, this man comes forward to us now; not as an actor of a play, not hiding his head with a mask, (for he hath another sort of words to speak,) nor mounting a platform, nor striking the stage with his foot, nor dressed out with apparel of gold, but he enters wearing a robe of inconceivable beauty.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf114.iv.iii.html

Classic example of an otherwise trustworthy ECF getting it wrong from time to time. Were any of them 100% right?

But he also wrote:

“At all events the master of the whole world, Peter, to whose hands He committed the keys of heaven, whom He commanded to do and to bear all, He bade tarry here [Antioch] for a long period. Thus in His sight our city was equivalent to the whole world. But since I have mentioned Peter, I have perceived a fifth crown woven from him, and this is that this man [Ignatius of Antioch] succeeded to the office after him. For just as any one taking a great stone from a foundation hastens by all means to introduce an equivalent to it, lest he should shake the whole building, and make it more unsound, so, accordingly, when Peter was about to depart from here, the grace of the Spirit introduced another teacher equivalent to Peter, so that the building already completed should not be made more unsound by the insignificance of the successor.” (Homily on St. Ignatius, 4)

So, his previous slip is forgiven for here, Chrysostom reinforces the idea of universal jurisdiction in that Peter was “master of the whole world”.

Spoken like a true ultramontanist, if it agrees with what we claim, it is trustworthy, if not, it is in error. Thus you can cherry pick quotes from the fathers which appear to support your claims and dismiss anything that doesn’t.

But he also wrote:

“At all events the master of the whole world, Peter, to whose hands He committed the keys of heaven, whom He commanded to do and to bear all, He bade tarry here [Antioch] for a long period. Thus in His sight our city was equivalent to the whole world. But since I have mentioned Peter, I have perceived a fifth crown woven from him, and this is that this man [Ignatius of Antioch] succeeded to the office after him. For just as any one taking a great stone from a foundation hastens by all means to introduce an equivalent to it, lest he should shake the whole building, and make it more unsound, so, accordingly, when Peter was about to depart from here, the grace of the Spirit introduced another teacher equivalent to Peter, so that the building already completed should not be made more unsound by the insignificance of the successor.” (Homily on St. Ignatius, 4)

So, his previous slip is forgiven for here, Chrysostom reinforces the idea of universal jurisdiction in that Peter was “master of the whole world”.

The trouble with this interpretation is that whatever Chrysostom says of Peter, he in no way extends that to the bishop of Rome. His entire life in the church is a testimony to the fact that he did not view the bishop of Rome any differently to any other bishop.
I suggest you read the Catholic Encyclopedia’s article on St John Chrysostom in which even they admit that St John’s writings do not give any support to the papal claims.

Like I have a monopoly on that. I have an entire thread devoted to the problems with what you’ve just described. See post #343 heree:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=832198

But here’s the thing: in the course of its 2,000-year history, the Church has listened to all of her sons carefully evaluating all their ideas. Invariably, infallibly, she has chosen what she will and will not accept as true.

So, I’m just doing what the Church has always done.

The trouble with this interpretation is that whatever Chrysostom says of Peter, he in no way extends that to the bishop of Rome. His entire life in the church is a testimony to the fact that he did not view the bishop of Rome any differently to any other bishop.
I suggest you read the Catholic Encyclopedia’s article on St John Chrysostom in which even they admit that St John’s writings do not give any support to the papal claims.

You mean like this?

He saith to him, “Feed my sheep”. Why does He pass over the others and speak of the sheep to Peter? He was the chosen one of the Apostles, the mouth of the disciples, the head of the choir. For this reason Paul went up to see him rather than the others. And also to show him that he must have confidence now that his denial had been purged away. He entrusts him with the rule [prostasia] over the brethren…If anyone should say “Why then was it James who received the See of Jerusalem?”, I should reply that He made Peter the teacher not of that see but of the whole world. [St. John Chrysostom, Homily 88 on John, 1. Cf. Origen, “In Ep. ad Rom.”, 5:10; Ephraem Syrus “Hymn. in B. Petr.” in “Bibl. Orient. Assemani”, 1:95; Leo I, “Serm. iv de natal.”, 2].

No…nothing supporting universal jurisdiction there.

Maybe I SEE those cherries which that support my views, but there are an awful lot of folks who do not see those that demolish theirs. For example, I have heard it argued that Peter is NOT the Rock upon which Jesus promised to build the Church. What do you say? More importantly, what do the Eastern Fathers say?

**Eastern Fathers of the Church Recognize The Rock and Crush the “Confession” Argument
Peter is the Rock
**
Tatian the Syrian (170 A.D.)

“Simon Kephas answered and said, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus answered and said unto him, 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah: flesh and blood has not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say unto thee also, that you are Rock, and on this Rock will I build my Church; and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it” (The Diatesseron 23 [A.D. 170]).

Tertullian (220 A.D.)

“Was anything hid from Peter, who was called the Rock, whereon the Church was built; who obtained the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the power of loosing and of binding in heaven and on earth?” (Tertullian, De Praescript Haeret).

Tertullian thereafter writes to criticize Pope Callistus I by saying …“I now inquire into your opinions, to see whence you usurp the right for the Church. Do you presume, because the Lord said to Peter, ‘On this rock I will build my Church …[Matt 16-19]’ that the power of binding and loosing has thereby been handed over to you, that is, to every church akin to Peter? What kind of man are you, subverting and changing what was the manifest intent of the Lord when He conferred this personally on Peter? ‘On you,’ He says, ‘I will build my Church; and I give to you the keys’…” (Tertullian, On Modesty 21:9-10)

**The Apocryphal Letter of St. Clement of Rome to St. James (C. 221 A.D.) **

“Be it known to you, my lord, that Simon [Peter], who, for the sake of the true faith, and the most sure foundation of his doctrine, was set apart to be the foundation of the Church, and for this end was by Jesus Himself, with His truthful mouth, named Peter” (Letter of Clement to James 2 [A.D. 221])

St. Gregory Nazianzus

“See thou that of the disciples of Christ, all of whom were great and deserving of the choice, one is called a Rock and entrusted with the foundations of the Church.” (Gregory Naz., T. i or xxxii). … and "Peter, the Chief of the disciples, but he was a Rock (Gregory Naz., T. ii.) …and … “[Peter], that unbroken Rock who held the keys.” (Gregory Naz., Sect. ii Poem Moral. tom. ii.)

St. Gregory of Nyssa

“Peter, with his whole soul, associates himself with the Lamb; and, by means of the change of his name, he is changed by the Lord into something more divine. Instead of Simon, being both called and having become a Rock, the great Peter did not by advancing little by little attain unto this grace, but at once he listened to his brother (Andrew), believed in the Lamb, and was through faith perfected, and, having cleaved to the Rock, became himself Peter.” (Gregory of Nyssa, T. i. Hom. xv. in C. Cantic). …and …. “Peter …that most firm Rock, upon which the Lord build His Church.” (Gregory of Nyssa, Alt. Or. De. S. Steph.)

St. Basil the Great

“The house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the foundations of which are on the holy mountains, for it is built upon the Apostles and prophets. One also of these mountains was Peter, upon which Rock the Lord promised to build His Church.” (Basil, T. i. Comment. in Esai. c. ii.). …and …. “The soul of blessed Peter was called a lofty Rock …” (Basil, Sermon 1 De Fide I.13).

+++

Gee, I think I could bake a whole pie with those cherries. :stuck_out_tongue:

Since when are Clement of Rome and Tertullian Eastern Fathers?

Ryan-

Did you think I would ignore you forever? That’s not in my nature.:stuck_out_tongue:

Tertullian was from Africa. I agree that he is not eastern. Regarding Clement, I was under the impression that Clement was originally from Philippi (due to the mention Paul’s epistle) and later moved to Rome, but further research suggests he may have been born in Rome.

Alternatively, I could just edit the title of my document by taking out the word “Eastern”. Then I can still use these quotes as proof that** the ECF’s understood that Peter - and not his confession - is the Rock upon which the Church was built**.

Thanks for keeping me on my toes. I want my material to be “rock” solid.

:thumbsup:

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