The History of Papal Authority


#1

I am reading a Concise History of the Catholic Church by Tom Bokenkotter.

Any general reviews on this or opinions on Bokenkotter’s orthodoxy would be appreciated.

In the book he mentions that St Ignatius around the year 90 wrote of the importance of following the successor of Peter.

Yet later on he writes that no Pope made a claim to Papal authority until the 5th century.

This seems to me a contradiction. Can anyone clear up the history of Papal authority (aside from the evidence in the book of Acts which shows Peter as the leader) and when it was etablished? Did it develop over time? Was it the result of an ex cathedra statement?

Thanks


#2

The writings of the Early Church Fathers are unanimous in their support of Papal authority. While it’s true that the earliest writings can be somewhat vague about it, it’s interesting to note that none of the Fathers dispute this fact. I haven’t read the book you’re referring to, so I don’t know what his slant is, but the Successor of Peter was accepted as the head of the Church Militant from the 1st century onward.


#3

Hi Sugar,

There might not have been a formal declaration, but all the early councils were either called by the Pope or approved by him or his delegates. See The Catholic Encyclopedia :

newadvent.org/cathen/04423f.htm

Verbum


#4

Ya, that’s probably right. Somewhere in my house I have a downloaded translation of some such writing from that time period. Whether it was specifically Ignatius or not I cannot recall.

Yet later on he writes that no Pope made a claim to Papal authority until the 5th century.

This seems to me a contradiction. Can anyone clear up the history of Papal authority (aside from the evidence in the book of Acts which shows Peter as the leader) and when it was etablished?

In the early 400s a Pope first claimed universal religious authority for himself. That’s different than Ignatius or whoever asserting that the pope had authority, so there’s no contradiction. Issues of doctrinal heresy combined with political instability and open warfare made for a highly unstable world. Amidst that instability the pope rose up to the challenge and declared himself to be the spiritual leader everyone is supposed to follow.


closed #5

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