Tracing back the Church's Bishops to the Apostles?


#1

I have read in many theology books about Catholicism that the Church can literely trace it’s Bishops and Popes from the present all the way back to the Apostles of Christ. Is this true? So is all these sucsessions on documented paper? And are there any books out there that talk about this?


#2

try this, it only goes back to the 1500’s but it is very useful
catholic-hierarchy.org/


#3

Wow! What an amazing website! It’s got a list of Orders and everything. Truly incredible.


#4

NewAdvent.org has a good list of Popes. There were a few anti-popes. But, the Church always recognized the true popes. The other Bishops are harder to trace back because they are successors of the Apostles in General and there were 12 apostles and they ordained many successors, not just one each, I assume. But, St. Peter had a jurisdiction which was Rome and the one who takes his place in Rome is his direct successor, no matter how many Bishops he may have apointed durring his time. So, I assume that the only way to trace other Bishops is if they had a record of who apointed who. And I’m not sure that the apostles took the time to make a record all the time, they were constantly traveling around and being persecuted.


#5

Yes but why do apologist then claim to be able to trace back Catholicism Bishops of today all the way to the Apostles of Christ? It is claimed that the trace goes back in an “unbroken line of sucsession.”


#6

[quote=J.W.B.]Yes but why do apologist then claim to be able to trace back Catholicism Bishops of today all the way to the Apostles of Christ? It is claimed that the trace goes back in an “unbroken line of sucsession.”
[/quote]

Well there have been bishops all the way back to Christ. There cannot be a bishop without there being a bishop to ordain him. However this statement is made with regard to Popes. There is always at least a small gap between popes obviously. Once if I recall of about 4 years so I don’t like it when I hear someone use it with regard to that office. It most certainly is not according to Church doctrine. The unbroken line of succession of the Church lies in the college of Bishops.

Blessings


#7

I do not know about priests and deacons but I was told by a bishop that when he became a bishop thaey gave him a list of all his predicessors back to Christ!

I would assume that the earliest names on the list would also be popes. The Church was persecuted by the Roman Empire for 400 years so keeping records was hard. But hen Jesus didn’t give us a book or written records, He gave us His body His Catholic Church, its apostolic succession and Tradition. Jesus gave us the Catholic Church, the Church gave us (and the Protestants too) the Bible.

JMJ


#8

Good question about succession…comes up every season in RCIA.

  1. We know the early Church had Bishops, ex: 1 Tim. 3

  2. Clement of Rome (75-90 AD) mentions the Apostles appointing their earliest converts to be Bishops and Deacons (Par.42, 1-4)

3.St. Ignatius of Antioch (Letter to the Trallians (2,1) circa 110 AD)
“It is necessary, therefore, that you do nothing without the Bishop…”

From these sample passages, and many, many more from the early Fathers, it is apparent that we cannot discover a “beginning” of the office of Bishop, for the new Church. The office appears to be born “with” the Church, not “from” the Church.

We just can’t find anyone in the early Church saying or writing,

*“Hey, guys… remember how Paul mentioned bishops in his letters? Wouldn’t it be cool if we started laying hands on some of us and callin’ us bishops, just like Paul talked about?” *

Point being, it’s a whole lot more logical, given the history, to assume that the bishops were always there, than to try to say they were created along the way… Even Dan Brown woudn’t attempt such a futile exercise…

At least this is how we approach it in our RCIA studies each season.

God Bless Us All!


#9

There might be a minor misconception here.
The pope has an unbroken line of succession back to Peter.
The pope in communion with Peter, is the sole successor of Peter.

BUT, Bishops in general are not the sole successor of a given Apostle.
There are more bishops than there were apostles.
As a group, the apostles made up a college.
– AsFarAsIKnow –
It is the one college which the bishops as a group are successors to.
The unbroken line of ordination can be traced back to the Apostles.


#10

This is confusing…

From what i understand, Linus was the first Bishop of Rome followed by Anacletus, Clement, etc. according to Iraeneus.

Does this make Linus the first Pope? Where was Peter?


#11

[quote=Caldera]This is confusing…

From what i understand, Linus was the first Bishop of Rome followed by Anacletus, Clement, etc. according to Iraeneus.

Does this make Linus the first Pope? Where was Peter?
[/quote]

Peter was the first Pope, and as to where Peter was, see:
catholic.com/library/Was_Peter_in_Rome.asp

and related articles:
catholic.com/library/church_papacy.asp

Don’t forget the Catholic.com search box.:thumbsup:


#12

[quote=Caldera]This is confusing…

From what i understand, Linus was the first Bishop of Rome followed by Anacletus, Clement, etc. according to Iraeneus.

Does this make Linus the first Pope? Where was Peter?
[/quote]

First four popes: Peter, Linus, Anacletus, Clement.

Anacletus is also called Cletus. (These four are also quoted in the First Eucharistic Prayer of the Roman Rite.)

Since each of the Apostles ordained more than one successor (by the laying on of hands), there would not be a just single line of succession from each Apostle, (including Peter.) There is, however, just a single line of succession of bishops of Rome–i.e. Popes. If we had kept good enough records, each current bishop could trace his succession back through former bishops, eventually ending up back at one of the original twelve.

Eusebius makes this very point in his Ecclesiastical History, although for the sake of space, he give the lineage only for the bishops of Rome.


#13

Thanks Jim,
You said that much more common sense-like than I did.

Ummm, how is St. Paul’s ordination figured? :slight_smile:


#14

Errr… single line of Peter successors? No. Not in terms of ordination. For example, John Paul II wasn’t ordained bishop by Paul VI or any other pope but by Archbishop Eugeniusz Baziak of Cracow. He was the successor of Peter in terms of office, but his apostolic succession lines may well have begun with any of the Apostles. In terms of ordination and apostolic succession coming from there, Peter’s successors are the same as any other Apostle’s. It’s perfectly possible to become the successor of Peter as the bishop of Rome without having a single bishop of Rome in the lines of succession. Succession to the See of Peter is a whole different story from apostolic lines. By becoming the pope, one doesn’t become a part of Peter’s apostolic line.


#15

Over 90 percent of all bishops living today can trace their lineage back to one Cardinal, Scipione Rebiba, who lived in the mid 1500s. Part of the reason for this was that he consecrated a bishop, who consecrated another bishop, who consecrated Pope Benedict XIII (before becoming pope, of course). Benedict XIII was famous for consecrating a helluva lot of new bishops, I think it was 139 in his lifetime. These 139 bishops in turn have consecrated several other bishops, and in the process of history, over 90% of Catholic bishops have been consecrated from this line, including all the recent popes. Here is some information from Charles Bransom, author of Ordinations of US Catholic Bishops:

More than ninety percent of the more than 4,300 Roman Catholic bishops alive today trace their episcopal lineage back to one bishop who was appointed in 1541 - Scipione Rebiba. Why so many bishops trace their lineages to this one bishop can be explained in great part by the intense sacramental activity of Pope Benedict XIII, who ordained 139 bishops during his episcopate and pontificate, including many cardinals, papal diplomats, and bishops of important dioceses who, in turn, ordained many other bishops. The bishop who ordained Benedict XIII gives us the direct link to Scipione Rebiba. It is widely believed that Rebiba was ordained bishop by Gian Pietro Cardinal Carafa, who became Pope Paul IV.

So since Cardinal Rebiba was consecrated by a Pope, from there one can trace a lineage all the way to Peter through Papal succession, and thus, to Christ.

Pretty cool, right?


#16

Guys,

The best book a person can possibly buy on this subject is:

Jesus, Peter and The Keys
(A Scriptural Handbook on the Papacy)

Scott Butler, Norman Dahlgren, Rev. Mr. David Hess

It is outstanding! You will answer all of you questions. There is of course, a complete list of Popes all the way to Peter included!

"The amount of useful and pertinent data in this veritable compendium is simply staggering. Whoever ignores it consigns his own work to irrelevance."
Scott Hahn, Ph.D., Theology Department , Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Here is the link:

amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1882972546/qid=1117332803/sr=8-1/ref=pd_csp_1/104-2912028-1640718?v=glance&s=books&n=507846


#17

There is papal succession and then there is apostolic succession.

The pope, is a papal successor to Peter.

Bishops have apostolic succession back to one of the 12 apostles. The pope being a bishop has this as well.

Here’s how it works and these are all fictitious names except the apostles name.

St. Mark consecrates Phillip of Antioch as a bishop, Phillip of Antioch consecrated Marcus of Thessalonia a bishop, Marcus consecrated Joe, who consecrated Ted, who consecrates … so on and so on until today when Fr. Frank gets consecrated by his bishop.

Fr. Frank has apostolic succession back to St. Mark

That is what is meant by the apostolic succession and ALL bishops have it.

It is completely separate from papal succession. Pope Benedict apostolic succession may come from St. Matthew, but his papal succession comes from St. Peter.

Deacons and priests do not have apostolic succession, they are ordained and given jurisdiction from their bishop. One does not obtain an apostolic succession until one is consecrated a bishop.

Also in the early church, it was the Bishop who was the pastor of the parish, the priests were sent out to outlying areas, if it was needed, but the idea was that everyone was supposed to go to where the bishop was for church.

I hope that helps.


#18

[quote=Fidei Defensor]So since Cardinal Rebiba was consecrated by a Pope, from there one can trace a lineage all the way to Peter through Papal succession, and thus, to Christ.

Pretty cool, right?
[/quote]

No. They may as well trace their apostolic lines back to Andrew, Mark, Matthew, Judah, Phillip or whomever. When you get elected Pope it doesn’t magically switch your apostolic lines (ordination lineage) to that of Peter. Neither is it required to be able to trace one’s ordination lineage to Peter to become elected Pope.


#19

No. They may as well trace their apostolic lines back to Andrew, Mark, Matthew, Judah, Phillip or whomever. When you get elected Pope it doesn’t magically switch your apostolic lines (ordination lineage) to that of Peter. Neither is it required to be able to trace one’s ordination lineage to Peter to become elected Pope.

You must have misunderstood my post. I know the difference between apostolic and papal succession. I was just saying that there is a traceable, verified lineage from 90% of todays bishops to the apostles, whether the lineage be papal, apostolic, or a combination.

The original question of the thread does not ask about apostolic succession in particular. It only asks if todays bishops can be traced back to the apostles. The answer is yes, and that is what I have demonstrated, using a combination of papal and apostolic succession. I’m sure that there is a purely Apostolic link, but I merely showed that it is possible to trace a link of episcopal (not neccessarily apostolic) ordinations to Peter.


#20

Would it be safe to say that Peter, the prince of the Apostles, was the authority of all the Churches back then (since he was given the keys), and after his death, these Churches ended up in a power struggle of who would have this supreme authority?


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