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The Papacy, a Catholic and Protestant Conversation by Kelvin Chia

Introduction
by the ABCs of Faith



This is an extract from an e-mail dialogue between a Christadelphian Protestant and Mr. Chia on the topic of the Papacy. When we received a copy of the message, it was so well thought out, that we wanted to share it with others. Kelvin, was kind enough to say 'yes' to our request.

One of the many points we found of interest was Kelvin's 'ground rules' for a fruitful discussion. All too often, e-mail exchanges or bulletin board debates about religion end up going no-where. There are many reasons why this can happen, of course. But a sincere desire to search for the truth on a topic of faith (or any topic, for that matter!), coupled with a sound understanding of reasonable guidelines can lead to a fruitful discussion, and are thus very useful. So the exchange which follows is presented virtually as received, so others can benefit not only from the insights on the Papacy presented, but also get a glimpse of how a discussion should be handled. We think you'll agree, that both are a blessing!

As a final note, Kelvin uses the King James Version (KJV), because it is prefered by many Christadelphians and widely accepted among Protestants. Kelvin should also be commended for the depth of his research in replying to this message. Mr. Chia used both Protestant and Catholic scholars in his citations, and cites early Christian authors quite often, since these early Christians writers were certainly closer to the time and thinking of the Apostles and Jesus Christ.

The Christadelphian's comments are denoted by >

start of Kelvin's message - the exchange will follow

For ease of reading (and typing!), I will not be attempting to answer everything in one go. I'll deal with your objections to the Papacy first. A few "ground rules" before we start (I hope you're agreeable to them):

1. No ad hominem or personal attacks, whether against each other or other members of our respective churches. I don't see how the fact of Christians being sinners can have an effect on whether (for example) the Papacy is true or not true.

2. No appeal to emotions or "special pleading", eg. "I * feel * that I'm right, and you're wrong" is not valid argumentation - reasons and bases must be provided if called for, or it would be pointless to dialogue.

3. Questions must be honestly answered and not evaded. It is legitimate to say "I don't know, but I'll try to find out more and get back to you." It is _not_ legitimate to deny an irrefutable argument (especially when a counter-argument cannot be proffered) simply because one's position is thereby jeopardised. Openness to the Truth, wherever it may lead, is essential to an honest and fruitful discussion.

4. Attempts should be made to "stick to the topic" as far as possible, and issues resolved before we move on to other issues.

I hope you will take the trouble to read everything carefully because I took the trouble to type it all out. That is to say, I didn't just copy & paste the arguments from some other source. The arguments are not original, of course, but the typing is :-) All in, it took me over 1 week of praying, thinking, researching and typing to put this thing together. OK, let's begin...

start the exchange follows

> Was Peter the First Pope?

Catholics say an emphatic "Yes!" And we can prove it.

Icon style image of St. Peter, the first Pope (Mt. 16:18; Jn. 21:15-17)

> 1. The rock on which the Church is founded is not Peter, but Peter's confession, "thou art the Christ". (Matt 16:16)

This is incorrect. But allow me to back up a little before dealing with Matt 16 itself. From Scripture, one can see that the change of name by God denotes a change in mission of the person concerned:

candle~1.gif 1. Gn:17:5: Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. (KJV)

In Hebrew, "Abraham" is rendered as "chief of the multitude".

candle~1.gif 2. Gn:32:28: And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. (KJV)

"Israel" means "one who prevails with God".

3. Now we look at the name change of Simon to Peter. This occurs in John 1:42, but no explanation for the name change is given until Matt 16:18:

candle~1.gif Mt:16:18: And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (KJV)

As in examples 1 & 2, there is a wordplay on the new name. Abraham means "chief of the multitude"; hence he is made "father of many nations". Israel means "who prevails with God"; hence he is described as a prince who has prevailed with God. Peter (or Cephas) means "Rock"; hence he is designated as the rock on which Jesus' Church is built. I will address the Petros/Petra "controversy" later on.

One final point before I leave this matter of the name change. Before Pentecost Sunday, Peter was variously called "Simon", "Simon Peter" or "Peter", but after Pentecost, Peter is never called "Simon" any more. In the few occasions after Pentecost when his old name is mentioned (eg. Acts 10:5), Peter is called "Simon, whose surname is Peter". Most of the time, he is called "Peter". He is never called simply "Simon" (or "simple Simon" :-) again. Why is the name change of Peter so * complete *, so * total *, as compared to, say, James and John, who were called "sons of thunder" by Our Lord?

candle~1.gif Mk:3:17: And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder: (KJV)

Somehow, the "sons of thunder" moniker didn't last. The reason why Simon Peter's new name stuck, however, is because it is not a nick-name, but a name denoting an office, a function, a role. The office of Peter really came to the fore only when the Church was established on Pentecost Sunday.


> a) Matt 21:42; Acts 4:11; 1 Cor 10:4; Eph. 2:20; 1 Pet 2:6-8 unambiguously state that Christ is the Rock. Paul explicitly states, "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ". (1 Cor. 3:11). To take Peter as the foundation flatly contradicts this passage.


My comments as follows:

1. No quarrel with the fact that Jesus Christ is Rock in the ultimate sense. We do not dispute the verses you quoted.

2. However, your conclusion that "[t]o take Peter as the foundation flatly contradicts this passage" is unfounded. In fact, Eph 2:20 (which you quoted) shows that it is * possible * for humans to be the foundation as well:

candle~1.gif a. Eph:2:19-22: Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (KJV)

As 1 Tim 3:15 tells us, the household of God is the Church:

candle~1.gif 1Tm:3:15: But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (KJV)

Therefore, St. Paul was saying, in effect, that the Church is "... built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone". Therein lies the resolution of the "contradiction" pointed out by you! Jesus Christ is the chief, the * primary * corner stone - the Apostles and the prophets are described as "the foundation", but only in the * secondary * sense. Look also at Rev 21:14.

candle~1.gif b. Rv:21:14: And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (KJV)

Even though Jesus or God is Rock in the ultimate and primary sense, it does not mean that a human being cannot be rock in the secondary sense (which is what we claim for Peter). Look at Isa 51:1-2, and see that Abraham had previously been given the honour of being referred to as "rock":

candle~1.gif c. Is:51:1-2: Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him. (KJV)

" 'When God looked on Abraham, who was to appear, he said: Behold I have found a rock on which I can build and base the world. Therefore he called Abraham a rock.'... [T]he earliest parts of Jalqut, a compilation by Simeon Kara (12th century) of Midrash fragments, are from the 5th century! Actually, the earliest of half a dozen other Talmudic texts describing Abraham as rock, mentioned by Strack and Billerbeck, are from the middle of the second century A.D." Midrash Jalqut (1, 766), as cited in S. L. Jaki, And On This Rock, 2nd ed., (Manassas, VA: Trinity, 1987), 89.

"Abraham is spoken of as 'the Rock from which you were hewn.' (Is. 51:1)" D. Guthrie and others, The New Bible Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1953) [reprinted by Inter-Varsity Press], 837.

Further, to say that Verses A, B and C say that Jesus Christ is Rock does not mean that, in Verse D, Peter can NOT also be a Rock. Why does one choose Verses A, B and C over Verse D? Why can't you harmonise or reconcile the 2 sets of verses, as I have done above (looking at Rock in the * primary * sense and in the * secondary * sense)? You may wish to deal with Matt 16:18 * circumstantially * by looking at other verses, but at the end of the day, you must look at Matt 16:18 * directly * and exegete it. I'll leave the exegesis of Matt 16:18 for later.

3. It is crucial to understand that Jesus Christ possesses the original mission from the Father, but that this mission did not "go up" with Him when He ascended and returned to His Father. Instead what happened was that Christ's mission is delegated to His followers. There are various examples of faculties or roles being exercised by His followers, which were originally exercised by Our Lord or exercised by Him in a special way. It is, therefore, consistent with the plan of God that Jesus' "Rock-ship" is conferred on a mere human being like Peter in Matt 16:18. Let's look at a few examples of Jesus' work or mission being passed to His followers:

a. _Teaching Authority_

Christ's Mission:

candle~1.gif Mk:1:22: And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. (KJV)

Disciples' Mission:

candle~1.gif Lk:10:16: He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me. (KJV)

candle~1.gif Mt:10:40: He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. (KJV)

b. _Forgiveness Of Sins_

Christ's Mission:

candle~1.gif Mt:9:6: But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. (KJV)

Disciples' Mission:

candle~1.gif Jn:20:23: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. (KJV)

candle~1.gif 2Cor:5:20: Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. (KJV)

c. _Priesthood_

Christ's Mission:

candle~1.gif Heb:4:14: Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. (KJV)

Disciples' Mission:

candle~1.gif 1Pt:2:5: Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. (KJV)

candle~1.gif 1Pt:2:9: But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (KJV)

NB. Catholics also believe that, besides the * universal * priesthood of the People of God, Jesus also conferred the * ministerial * priesthood on the Apostles, but I will not go into this for the purpose of this discussion.

d. _Judgment_

Christ's Mission:

candle~1.gif Jn:5:22: For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: (KJV)

Disciples' Mission:

candle~1.gif Mt:19:28: And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (KJV)

candle~1.gif Lk:22:30: That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (KJV)

e. _Shepherdhood_

Christ's Mission:

candle~1.gif Jn:10:11-14: I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. (KJV)

Peter's Mission:

candle~1.gif Jn:21:15-17: So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. (KJV)

NB. Jesus says in John 10:11-14 that he will not trust His sheep to "an hireling", but yet He tells Peter to "feed His lambs" and "sheep". Certainly Peter must be more than a mere "hireling"!

f. _Miracles & Healing_

Christ's Mission:

candle~1.gif Lk:4:18: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, (KJV)

Disciples' Mission:

candle~1.gif Mt:10:1: And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. (KJV)

We can see, therefore, that Jesus does not "keep" His mission and power to Himself, but confers them on His followers for the propagation of the Kingdom. In Matt 16:18-19, Jesus the Rock and holder of the Keys designates Peter as "rock" and holder of the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.

candle~1.gif Rv:3:7: And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; (KJV)

Look at Rev 3:7, and compare it with Matt 16:19:

candle~1.gif Mt:16:19: And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (KJV)

The keys that Our Lord holds are given to Peter as His Vicar, His Chief Minister. I shall return to these verses later on.


> b) The Roman Church emphasises John 1:42 in stating that Jesus gave the name "Rock" (Petros) to > Simon at the very start. But in Matt. 16:18 the Greek is: > "Thou art Petros, and upon this petra I will build my Church." Two different Greek words are > employed with two different connotations: > petros (masc.), detached stone. > petra (fem.), living rock, solid rock. > It is clear that a difference between Peter and the foundation is meant or the word "petros" would > simply have been repeated. "Petros", therefore, shows Peter's instability, (e.g., Matt. 16:22-23) > while "petra" indicates the immovable rock-like character of Christ, or the confession of Peter, > "thou art the Christ."


My response is as follows:

1. Jesus Christ most certainly did not speak Greek: He spoke Aramaic, a Hebrew dialect.

"PETER (Gr. Petros). Simon Peter, the most prominent of Jesus' twelve disciples. Peter's original name was Simon (Aram. sim'on, represented in Greek by Simon and Symeon). Jesus gave him the Aramaic name kepha 'rock' (Matt 16:18; Luke 6:14 par.; John 1:42), which is in Greek both transliterated (Kephas; Eng. Cephas) and translated (Petros)." Allen C. Myers, ed., The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), 818.

Peter is referred to as "Cephas" (the Greek transliteration of "Kepha") in John 1:42, 1 Cor 1:12, 3:22, 9:5 & 15:5 and Gal 2:9.

2. In Aramaic, Matt 16:18 would have been rendered: "Thou art Kepha, and upon this kepha I will build my church, etc." The wordplay is obvious! There is no confusion about on whom or what Christ's Church will be built. Let the scholars speak:

"The meaning is, 'You are Peter, that is Rock, and upon this rock, that is, on you, Peter, I will build my church.' Our Lord, speaking Aramaic, probably said, 'And I say to you, you are Kepha, and on this kepha I will build my church.' Jesus, then, is promising Peter that he is going to build his church on him! I accept this view." William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1973), 647.

BTW, Prof. Hendriksen is a renowned Reformed Protestant theologian, Professor of New Testament Literature at Calvin Seminary and member of the Christian Reformed Church.

"Nowadays a broad consensus has emerged which - in accordance with the words of the text - applies the promise [of Matt 16:18] to Peter as a person. On this point liberal (H.J. Holtzmann, E. Schweiger) and conservative (Cullmann, Flew) theologians agree, as well as representatives of Roman Catholic Exegesis." Gerard Maier, "The Church in the Gospel of Matthew: hermeneutical Analysis of the Current Debate," trans. Harold H. P. Dressler, in D.A. Carson, ed., Biblical Interpretation and Church Text and Context, (Flemington Markets, NSW: Paternoster Press, 1984), 58.

Gerard Maier is a leading conservative evangelical Lutheran theologian.

"In Aramaic 'Peter' and Rock are the same word; in Greek (here), they are cognate terms that were used interchangeably by this period. For the idea of a person as the foundation on which something is built, cf Isaiah 51:1-2; Ephesians 2:20 (the promise is made to Peter because Peter was the one who confessed Jesus v16)." Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary New Testament, (Downer's Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1993), 90.

3. To argue that "this rock" refers to Christ or Peter's confession of faith is untenable. What exactly was Peter's confession anyway?

candle~1.gif Mt:16:16: And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. (KJV)

Notice that Peter had uttered this previously:

candle~1.gif Jn:6:69: And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. (KJV)

And by Martha on another occasion:

candle~1.gif Jn:11:27: She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. (KJV)

Interestingly enough, demons had proclaimed this as well:

candle~1.gif Lk:4:41: And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ. (KJV)

Nathanel made a similar proclamation of faith:

candle~1.gif Jn:1:49: Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.

In * none * of these occasions did Jesus say that He would build His Church on "the profession of faith". Let's examine the relevant verses in greater detail:

candle~1.gif Mt:16:16: And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. (KJV)

First, Peter makes his profession of faith.

candle~1.gif Mt:16:17: And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. (KJV)

Secondly, Jesus pronounces that Peter is blessed because the revelation had not been made through "flesh and blood" but by the Father.

candle~1.gif Mt:16:18: And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (KJV)

Thirdly, Jesus says, "That thou art Kepha, and upon this kepha I will build my church, etc." Besides the obvious wordplay here (please refer to above), "this kepha" cannot be referring to Peter's profession of faith. Where is there any indication that Peter's profession of faith is metaphorically like a rock? Furthermore, in grammar, the article "this" is a reference to the closest noun or object. How can it be referring to Peter's profession when it occurred 2 verses before, and has Jesus' blessing interposed in verse 17? At the risk of belabouring the point, the sequence is: Peter's Profession - Jesus' Blessing - This Rock. There's no way that the "THIS rock" could mean Peter's profession!

"It is important to note here that Jesus chooses the phrase epi tautee tee petra ('upon this rock') rather than more ambiguous phrasing such as epi tee petra ('upon the rock') or epi petra ('upon a rock'). Using the definite or indefinite article would seem to point to someone other than Peter, whereas the demonstrative adjective tautee ('this') is more likely to specify someone in the immediate grammatical proximity to the accompanying noun 'rock.' The only other rock-like imagery that is illustrated in the immediate proximity is Petros ('Peter') which is a proper name meaning 'rock' (cf. John 1:42). Only in reference to Peter as the rock can the intended demonstrative force of tautee tee ('this') be satisfied." Robert A. Sungenis, letter to authors, 7 November 1995, 2 (quoted in "Jesus, Peter & The Keys" by Scott Butler, Norman Dahlgren and David Hess, Queenship Publishing Company, 1996, 23-24)

In the same way, "this rock" cannot be referring to Jesus Christ since He does not refer to Himself in verse 18 or even verse 17! To make "this" connect to a noun or an object further than that violates basic grammatical rules.

4. What then of the Petros/petra "controversy"? First, as observed above, Jesus did not speak Greek. There is no "controversy" when the relevant verse is rendered in the Aramaic. The reason for using the "different" words is partially explained by yourself, where you noted that "Petros" is masculine and "petra" is feminine. It wouldn't do to call Peter "Petra" - it's like calling him "Rockette" or "Rockina"! :-) The transliteration of Kepha (Aram.) to Petros (Greek) is to ensure that a masculine name is given to Peter, that's all!

"Although it is true that petros and petra can mean 'stone' and 'rock' respectively in earlier Greek, the distinction is largely confined to poetry. Moreover the underlying Aramiac is in this case unquestionable; and most probably kepha was used in both clauses ('you are kepha' and 'on this kepha'), since the word was used both for a name and for a 'rock.' The Peshitta (written in Syriac, a language cognate with Aramaic) makes no distinction between the words in the two clauses. The Greek makes the distinction between petros and petra simply because it is trying to preserve the pun, and in Greek the feminine petra could not very well serve as a masculine name... Had Matthew wanted to say no more than that Peter was a stone in contrast with Jesus the Rock, the more common word would have been lithos ('stone' of almost any size)." Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Volume 8 (Matthew, Mark, Luke), (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 368.

The Early Christians had always understood the rock to be Peter:

a. Tatian the Syrian


"Simon Cephas 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 Cephas, 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]).

b. Tertullian


"Was anything withheld from the knowledge of Peter, who is called 'the rock on which the Church would be built' [Matt. 16:18] with the power of 'loosing and binding in heaven and on earth' [Matt. 16:19]?" (Demurrer Against the Heretics 22 [A.D. 200]).

c. Tertullian


"[T]he Lord said to Peter, 'On this rock I will build my Church, I have given you the keys of the kingdom of heaven [and] whatever you shall have bound or loosed on earth will be bound or loosed in heaven' [Matt. 16:18-19] . . . What kind of man are you, subverting and changing what was the manifest intent of the Lord when he conferred this personally upon Peter? Upon you, he says, I will build my Church; and I will give to you the keys" (Modesty 21:9-10 [A.D. 220]).

d. The Letter of Clement to James


"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])

e. The Clementine Homilies


"[Simon Peter said to Simon Magus in Rome:] For you now stand in direct opposition to me, who am a firm rock, the foundation of the Church [Matt. 16:18]" (Clementine Homilies 17:19 [A.D. 221]).

f. Origen


"Look at [Peter], the great foundation of the Church, that most solid of rocks, upon whom Christ built the Church [Matt. 16:18]. And what does our Lord say to him? 'Oh you of little faith,' he says, 'why do you doubt?'" [Matt. 14:31] (Homilies on Exodus 5:4 [A.D. 248]).

g. Cyprian of Carthage


"The Lord says to Peter: 'I say to you,' he says, 'that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. And to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven . . . ' [Matt. 16:18-19] On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. . . . If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?" (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4; 1st edition [A.D. 251]).

h. Cyprian of Carthage


"There is one God and one Christ, and one Church, and one chair founded on Peter by the word of the Lord. It is not possible to set up another altar or for there to be another priesthood besides that one altar and that one priesthood. Whoever has gathered elsewhere is scattering" (Letters 43[40]:5 [A.D. 253]).

i. Cyprian of Carthage


"There [John 6:68-69] speaks Peter, upon whom the Church would be built, teaching in the name of the Church and showing that even if a stubborn and proud multitude withdraws because it does not wish to obey, yet the Church does not withdraw from Christ. The people joined to the priest and the flock clinging to their shepherd are the Church. You ought to know, then, that the bishop is in the Church and the Church in the bishop, and if someone is not with the bishop, he is not in the Church. They vainly flatter themselves who creep up, not having peace with the priests of God, believing that they are secretly [i.e., invisibly] in communion with certain individuals. For the Church, which is one and Catholic, is not split nor divided, but it is indeed united and joined by the cement of priests who adhere one to another" (Letters 66[69]:8).

j. Firmilian


"But what is his error . . . who does not remain on the foundation of the one Church which was founded upon the rock by Christ [Matt. 16:18], can be learned from this, which Christ said to Peter alone: 'Whatever things you shall bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth, they shall be loosed in heaven' [Matt. 16:19]" (collected in Cyprian's Letters 74[75]:16 [A.D. 253]).

k. Firmilian


"[Pope] Stephen [I] . . . boasts of the place of his episcopate, and contends that he holds the succession from Peter, on whom the foundations of the Church were laid [Matt. 16:18] . . . [Pope] Stephen . . . announces that he holds by succession the throne of Peter" (ibid., 74[75]:17).

l. Ephraim the Syrian


"[Jesus said:] Simon, my follower, I have made you the foundation of the holy Church. I betimes called you Peter, because you will support all its buildings. You are the inspector of those who will build on Earth a Church for me. If they should wish to build what is false, you, the foundation, will condemn them. You are the head of the fountain from which my teaching flows; you are the chief of my disciples" (Homilies 4:1 [A.D. 351]).

m. Optatus


"You cannot deny that you are aware that in the city of Rome the episcopal chair was given first to Peter; the chair in which Peter sat, the same who was head - that is why he is also called Cephas ["Rock"] - of all the apostles; the one chair in which unity is maintained by all" (The Schism of the Donatists 2:2 [A.D. 367]).

n. Ambrose of Milan


"[Christ] made answer: 'You are Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church . . . ' Could he not, then, strengthen the faith of the man to whom, acting on his own authority, he gave the kingdom, whom he called the rock, thereby declaring him to be the foundation of the Church [Matt. 16:18]?" (The Faith 4:5 [A.D. 379]).

o. Ambrose of Milan


"It is to Peter that he says: 'You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church' [Matt. 16:18]. Where Peter is, there is the Church. And where the Church, no death is there, but life eternal" (Commentary on Twelve Psalms of David 40:30 [A.D. 389]).

p. Pope Damasus I


"Likewise it is decreed . . . that it ought to be announced that . . . the holy Roman Church has not been placed at the forefront [of the churches] by the conciliar decisions of other churches, but has received the primacy by the evangelic voice of our Lord and Savior, who says: 'You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it; and I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven . . . ' [Matt. 16:18-19]. The first see, therefore, is that of Peter the apostle, that of the Roman Church, which has neither stain nor blemish nor anything like it" (Decree of Damasus 3 [A.D. 382]).

q. Jerome


"'But,' you [Jovinian] will say, 'it was on Peter that the Church was founded' [Matt. 16:18]. Well ..... . . one among the twelve is chosen to be their head in order to remove any occasion for division." (Against Jovinian 1:26 [A.D. 393]).

r. Jerome


"I follow no leader but Christ and join in communion with none but your blessedness [Pope Damasus I], that is, with the chair of Peter. I know that this is the rock on which the Church has been built. Whoever eats the Lamb outside this house is profane. Anyone who is not in the ark on Noah will perish when the flood prevails" (Letters 15:2 [A.D. 396]).

s. Augustine


"If the very order of episcopal succession is to be considered, how much more surely, truly, and safely do we number them [the bishops of Rome] from Peter himself, to whom, as to one representing the whole Church, the Lord said, 'Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not conquer it.' Peter was succeeded by Linus, Linus by Clement . . . In this order of succession a Donatist bishop is not to be found" (Letters 53:1:2 [A.D. 412]).

t. Council of Ephesus


"Philip, the presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See [Rome], said: 'There is no doubt, and in fact it has been known in all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the Apostles, pillar of the faith, and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race, and that to him was given the power of loosing and binding sins: who down even to to-day and forever both lives and judges in his successors'" (Acts of the Council, session 3 [A.D. 431]).

u. Sechnall of Ireland


"Steadfast in the fear of God, and in faith immovable, upon [St. Patrick] as upon Peter the [Irish] church is built; and he has been allotted his apostleship by God; against him the gates of hell prevail not" (Hymn in Praise of St. Patrick 3 [A.D. 444]).

v. Pope Leo I


"Our Lord Jesus Christ . . . has placed the principal charge on the blessed Peter, chief of all the apostles . . . He wished him who had been received into partnership in his undivided unity to be named what he himself was, when he said: 'You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church' [Matt. 16:18], that the building of the eternal temple might rest on Peter's solid rock, strengthening his Church so surely that neither could human rashness assail it nor the gates of hell prevail against it" (Letters 10:1 [A.D. 445]).

w. Council of Chalcedon


"Wherefore the most holy and blessed Leo, archbishop of the great and elder Rome, through us, and through this present most holy synod, together with the thrice blessed and all-glorious Peter the Apostle, who is the rock and foundation of the Catholic Church, and the foundation of the orthodox faith, has stripped him [Dioscorus] of the episcopate" (Acts of the Council, session 3 [A.D. 451]).


> 2. The power of the keys given to Peter (Matt 16:19) gave him no unique authority - no authority > which the other apostles did not possess as well - Matt. 18:18 (cf. vs. 1); John 20:22,23.


This is not true. Other than Peter, the Apostles did _not_ receive the keys. This is obvious when we compare the verses you quoted:

candle~1.gif Mt:16:19: And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (KJV)

candle~1.gif Mt:18:18: Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (KJV)

Jn:20:22-23: And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. (KJV)

Jesus is the original holder of the keys, as the book of Revelation tells us:

candle~1.gif Rv:3:7: And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; (KJV)

This unique authority was passed to Peter the Apostle:

candle~1.gif Mt:16:17-19: And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (KJV)

Scholars agree that Jesus was "borrowing" from Isa 22:20-22 in the above passage. In that passage, Shebna had been deposed and deprived of his office as chief steward (verses 15-19). Verse 20 onwards reads as follows:

candle~1.gif Is:22:20-22: And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah: And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. (KJV)

Jesus is Son of David. Compare His New Testament Kingdom and the Old Testament (Davidic) Kingdom, and the parallel verses in Matt 16:17-19 and Isa 22:20-22:

a. OT: The office of chief stewardship is conferred by God on Eliakim.
NT: The office of chief apostleship is conferred by Jesus Christ on Peter.

b. OT: Eliakim the son of Hilkiah.
NT: Simon Bar-jona, ie. son of Jona.

c. OT: Eliakim is clothed with the robe and girdle of authority: the government of the Davidic kingdom is committed into his hand (the King did not rule alone, but conferred authority on his Chief Minister, who governed with a Cabinet of Ministers).
NT: Peter is clothed with authority: the government of the Church is committed into his hand (King Jesus conferred authority on the Chief Apostle, who governed with the other Apostles).

d. OT: Eliakim is "a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem".
NT: Peter is the Pope (Papa or Father) to the inhabitants of new Jerusalem, the Church. Cf. Gal:4:26: But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. (KJV)

e. OT: Eliakim is given the key of the house of David.
NT: Peter is given the keys of the kingdom of heaven.

f. OT: What Eliakim opens, none shall shut; what he shuts, none shall open.
NT: What Peter binds, will be bound in heaven; what he looses, will be loosed in heaven.

The parellelisms are striking! Jesus could not have been ignorant of the Old Testament backdrop when He uttered those words in Matt 16:17-19. In fact, he probably said what He said in Matt 16 with the intention of leading His disciples to a deeper understanding of what He was giving to Peter and the Church.

"Isaiah xxii 15 ff. undoubtedly lies behind this [Matthew 16:19] saying. The keys are the symbol of authority, and Roland de Vaux (Ancient Israel, tr. by John McHugh [New York: MrGraw-Hill, 1961], 129 ff.) rightly sees here the same authority as that vested in the vizier, the master of the house, the chamberlain of the royal household in ancient Israel. Eliakim is described as having the same authority in Isaiah;... and Jotham as regent is also described as 'over the household' (II Kings xv 5)." W. F. Albright and C. S. Mann, The Anchor Bible: Matthew, (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1971), 196.

I will address the question of papal/apostolic succession later.


> b) "binding" - e.g., Anaias and Sapphira - Acts 5. Here Peter's condemnation uttered on earth > was immediately enforced in heaven. > > c) "loosing" - e.g., palsied Aeneas loosed at Lydda. (Acts 9:32-35). Peter said, "Jesus Christ > maketh thee whole" verse 34: Jesus in heaven "loosed" the paralytic. See also Acts 5:12-16.


I don't quite agree with the foregoing interpretation of "binding and loosing". It has more to do with forbidding and allowing, rather than healing.

"To 'bind' and to 'loose' in Jewish legal terminology are equivalent to 'forbid' and 'allow', to 'declare forbidden' and 'to declare allowed.'" C. Allen Willoughby, The International Critical Commentary: St. Matthew, (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1977), 177.

"The words rendered 'prohibit' and 'permit' (v.18) are, literally, 'bind' and 'loose.' These terms were used in the first century Judaism to mean 'prohibit' and 'permit,' as is clear from the article, 'Binding and Loosing,' in the Jewish Encyclopedia, 3:125: "'Binding and Loosing (Hebrew asar ve-hittar... Rabbinical term for "forbidding and permitting.", etc.'" David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, (Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1992), 56-57.

"In rabbinical language to 'bind' and to 'loose' is to declare certain actions forbidden or permitted; e.g., Terumoth 5:4, etc." George Arthur Buttrick and others, eds., The Interpreter's Bible, (New York: Abingdon, 1951), 453.


> 3. Peter did not receive infallible authority from Jesus, even in matters ex cathedra, for Paul > wrote: "But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be > blamed." (Gal. 2:11) Note how Christ also reproved Peter in Matt. 16: 22,23. Peter was the only > disciple to deny Christ.


Let me take the last statement first "Peter was the only disciple to deny Christ." Have you forgotten Judas Iscariot, the man who betrayed Jesus?

candle~1.gif Mk:14:10: And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them. (KJV)

And did you forget that * all * the other Twelve ran away, except that John had a change of heart later on and stayed with his Master at the foot of the Cross?

candle~1.gif Mt:26:56: Then all the disciples forsook him [Jesus], and fled. (KJV)

In any event, you are attacking a strawman. We [Catholics] have _never_ claimed * impeccability * (sinlessness) for the Pope, but * infallibility * in teaching faith and morals - when proclaiming ex cathedra, as you seem to be aware. Remember, it's * infalliblity * in _teaching_ faith and morals, _not_ * impeccability * in _adhering_ to faith and morals. You tell us nothing new when you remark that Peter (or the Pope) sins. The Good Book says, and I'm sure you'll agree that:

candle~1.gif 1Jn:1:8: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (KJV)

Since we [Catholics] do not claim that Peter or the Pope is an exception to this rule, what has his sinfulness (which we admit) got to do with anything? After all, sinfulness is not a condition of the Popes alone, but a condition of the entire human race! Do you not sin? Do you not deny Christ in the process?

Let's look at the facts and Scriptural precedents objectively:

candle~1.gif 1. Mt:10:40: He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. (KJV)

When Jesus sent out the Twelve with the above mandate, did you think that the Twelve were sinless? Did you think that Judas, who was sent out with the Twelve, was sinless? Notice that Jesus was well aware of the traitorous heart of Judas right from the start, but that did not stop Him from giving Judas the apostolic mandate:

candle~1.gif Jn:6:70-71: Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve. (KJV)

candle~1.gif 2. Lk:10:16: He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me. (KJV)

Likewise, when the 72 were sent out, did you imagine that the 72 were sinless?

candle~1.gif 3. Mt:28:19-20: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (KJV)

Or when Jesus gave the Great Commission to the Apostles, did they have the "charism" of being sinless? Yet, they were commanded to teach!

candle~1.gif 4. 1Tm:1:15: This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. (KJV)

The great Apostle Paul called himself the chief of sinners, but did he not teach infallibly in the Scriptures?

candle~1.gif Ti:1:3: But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour; (KJV)

candle~1.gif 5. Neh:13:26: Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin. (KJV)

This is an OT precedent to show that even those endowed with God's wisdom (Solomon) can and do sin! Why are you so amazed that Peter does the same thing? I think the Scriptural evidence is clear. Teaching Authority/Wisdom does not equal Sinlessness.

It follows, therefore, that Peter's sinfulness has got nothing to do with the fact that the teaching authority and government of the Church has been entrusted to him by Jesus. You mention Peter's triple denial, but neglect to mention his triple acts of love and repentance. This is one of the more touching passages in the Gospels (and my favourite, on account of my numerous transgressions and sins!):

candle~1.gif Jn:21:15-19: So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whit. (KJV) Remember that the Good Shepherd will not trust His sheep to mere hirelings - but He puts His flock under the care of Peter! The concept of shepherd and feeding the flock has connotations of leadership, as the following Scriptural quotations show:

candle~1.gif a. 2Sm:5:2: Also in time past, when Saul was king over us, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel: and the Lord said to thee, Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be a captain over Israel. (KJV)

candle~1.gif b. Ez:34:23-24: And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the Lord have spoken it. (KJV)

"All these references [including Num 27:17, Isa 40:9-11, Jer 31:10, Mic 5:2, Zec 10:2, Rev 2:27, 12:5, 17:7 & 19:15] make it clear that when Christ is called the 'Good Shepherd' He is really invoked as Christ the King. The significance of the two metaphors is the same throughout Scripture. The shepherd is the king and the king is the shepherd. So when Jesus bestowed the office of being the shepherd of His whole flock on St. Peter He was really giving him kingly supremacy, a power not only of honour but of jurisdiction." Francis J. Ripley, The Pope: Vicar of Jesus Christ, (Dublin: Catholic Truth Society, 1965), 10-11.

It is for good reason, I think, that Jesus spoke frequently about His Kingdom. If it is modelled on the Davidic kingdom (though it may be more correct to say that the Davidic kingdom, as a "shadow" or prefigurement of the New Testament Kingdom, was actually modelled on the NT Kingdom!), then we know that the monarch rules and governs with a chief steward or minister or regent. The equivalent roles are filled up in this way: King David (or successor) - King Jesus; Chief Steward (Eliakim) - Chief Apostle (Peter); Other Ministers - Other Apostles. This concept is even brought out in some of Christ's parables:

candle~1.gif a. Mt:24:45-51: Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (KJV)

The moral of this story is that Popes are not immune from hell!

candle~1.gif b. Mt:25:14-30: For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey, etc. (KJV)

candle~1.gif c. Mk:13:34-37: For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch. (KJV)

It is interesting to see that the servants left behind, when the master goes away, were made ruler over the master's household, entrusted with his goods, given authority, etc. In the same way, the Pope and his bishops have been given earthly jurisdiction by Our Lord until His Second Coming.


> 4. There is not a particle of historical evidence that Peter passed on any authority to anyone; > and, what is more important, there is no New Testament evidence at all that Christ commanded Peter > to pass on any authority. Without such a clear command of Christ, the "successors" of Peter must > be regarded as having arrogated authority to themselves, rather than having received it from > Christ.


Your statement is extremely bold! Not "a particle of historical evidence", you say! My comments are as follows:

1. Before I deal with your objection proper, let me just say (or quote) this:

"That Peter received dynamic power in the keys is conceded by most biblical scholars. A question that remains is whether Peter's successors received the same power and authority as Peter did. Some say that Matthew 16:18-19 contains no language that would lead them to believe that successive 'rocks' were intended after Peter's death. This conclusion begs the question: Why would Jesus bother himself to invest Peter with the tremendous role of founding the Church, giving him the keys of regental authority, and then allowing the Church to flounder without a leader upon Peter's departure? As Jesus truly appointed Peter to steer the Body of Christ after his Ascension, logically there must be earthly leaders of the Church of Christ after Peter's departure. Scripture, through Sacred Tradition and history, leads to the conclusion that papal and apostolic succession is a living reality." ("Jesus, Peter & The Keys" by Scott Butler, Norman Dahlgren and David Hess, Queenship Publishing Company, 1996, 73)

Peter was martyred in AD 67 (if memory serves me correctly). Are you saying that the role of Peter was only necessary for 34 years? That during those 34 years, there was something happening in the Church which would require someone with the authority and prerogatives of Peter, but after AD 67, there was no such need?

2. You say that "Without such a clear command of Christ, the 'successors' of Peter must be regarded as having arrogated authority to themselves, rather than having received it from Christ." What you actually mean to say is that: (1) It * appears * to you, (2) that there is no clear command * in Scripture * for papal succession. But what is your authority for saying that Christ must give a * clear * command in * Scripture * before something is legitimate? To say it another way, is there a * clear * command by Christ in * Scripture * that we are only to abide by His * clear * commands in * Scripture *??? I would venture to say: No! In fact, John the Evangelist, writing the last Gospel around the end of the 1st century, after the 3 Synoptic Gospels were written, had this to say:

candle~1.gif Jn:21:25: And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen. (KJV)

John categorically denies the fact that the Gospels captured all of Jesus' deeds and teachings, and yet you seem to assert the opposite. We know for a fact that Jesus spent 40 days after the Resurrection instructing the Apostles, but we only have a couple of pages documenting one or two dialogues. And when Jesus expounded the Scriptures for the benefit of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we are not privy to what Jesus said to them. Ditto for the time when Jesus spent a few days teaching at the Samaritan village. And before His miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and the fish, He had been teaching for one entire day, but all we have is an account of the miracle itself!

The Acts of the Apostles gives us one example of a teaching of Jesus which never made it into _any_ of the 4 Gospels:

candle~1.gif Acts:20:35: I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. (KJV)

You will * not * find this saying in the Gospels. Where, therefore, do you get the notion that the Gospels have captured every single teaching of Jesus? Chapter and verse, please! Even if you were to modify your position, and say that the rest of the New Testament (including the Gospels) contains * all * (not some, or most) of Jesus' teachings, I would like you to show me a verse that says that. What Bible verse says that all of Jesus' teachings are in the Bible?

The Evangelists' purpose in writing the Gospels was not to prove the papacy (which, as we shall see later on, was hardly a controversial matter as far as the Early Christians were concerned), but to bear witness to Jesus Christ.

candle~1.gif Jn:20:31: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. (KJV)

Nowhere is there a claim by the Evangelists or the New Testament authors that their writings were a compendium of * all * Christian teachings and "proof-texts". The error is made in making this assumption (or should I say, presumption?). Where is your authority for saying that Jesus must say something * clearly * (whatever that means - what is crystal clear to me may be "clear as mud" to you :-) in * Scripture * before you can accept it? By your argument, you would not be able to accept Scripture itself because Jesus never said (clearly or otherwise) in Scripture (or anywhere) what the canon of Scripture was - or that (say) the Epistle to the Hebrews is inspired but the Epistles of Clement to the Corinthians is not!

3. It should be evident that I am not, in any way, conceding "sola scriptura", ie. the Bible and the Bible alone. In fact, your definition is even more restrictive than "traditional" sola scriptura because you only allow statements made by Jesus Christ Himself! Do you not accept Old Testament quotations or those culled from the Evangelists and the Apostles? Anyway, the evidence for papal succession does have its basis in Jesus' pronouncements (as it turns out). Let's look at Matt 16:19 again.

candle~1.gif Mt:16:19: And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (KJV)

As I mentioned earlier, this harks back to Isa 22:20-25:

candle~1.gif Is:22:20-25: And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah: And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house. And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father's house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons. In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall; and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off: for the Lord hath spoken it. (KJV)

Even though David is mentioned, the reigning king at the time was Hezekiah, who was the 14th king of Judah. David's kingdom was established c. 11th century B.C. Chapters 1-39 are ascribed to the prophet Isaiah, c. 8th century B.C. This means that David's kingship had passed in * dynastic * succession for 300-400 years. As I noted above, the king would govern with the assistance of his chief steward or minister, characterised as the holder of the keys. The keys also passed down in succession, not * dynastically * but by * appointment * for 300-400 years.

In Isa 36:3, Eliakim (the holder of the keys) is designated literally as the person "over the house".

candle~1.gif Is:36:3: Then came forth unto him Eliakim, Hilkiah's son, which was over the house, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, Asaph's son, the recorder. (KJV)

Eliakim was not the first palace administrator - there were others before him. He was a * successor * by divine appointment.

candle~1.gif a. 1Kgs:4:6: And Ahishar was over the household: and Adoniram the son of Abda was over the tribute. (KJV) (Ahishar under King Solomon)

candle~1.gif b. 1Kgs:16:9: And his servant Zimri, captain of half his chariots, conspired against him, as he was in Tirzah, drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza steward of his house in Tirzah. (KJV) (Arza under King Elah)

candle~1.gif c. 1Kgs:18:3: And Ahab called Obadiah, which was the governor of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly: (KJV) (Obadiah under King Ahab)

We can see, therefore, that there is succession for the holder of the keys. Further, this is stated as much in Isa 22:23-25:

candle~1.gif Is:22:23-25: And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house. And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father's house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons. In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall; and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off: for the Lord hath spoken it. (KJV)

Eliakim will have "a glorious throne", and the "burden" of the office will be cut off only at some time in the future. In the meantime, the palace masters assisted the kings of the House of Judah in a line of succession parallel to the kings. It is interesting to note that King Hezekiah was identified with the Messiah in Jewish literature. See the parellelism: King Hezekiah - King Jesus : Eliakim the Chief Steward - Peter the Chief Apostle. These allusions probably did not escape the minds of the Jewish converts when they read Matthew's Gospel. Let's examine the evidence for saying that King Hezekiah was a prefigurement of the coming Messiah:

"See 2 Kings 20:8 (in which King Hezekiah is raised up from terminal illness to go up to the Temple on the third day)." David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, (Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1992), 486.

"And as he [Rabbi Yohannan ben Zakkai, one of the foremost first century Pharisaic leaders upon the fall of Jerusalem,], breathed his last, he said, 'Clear the house of vessels which can receive corpse-uncleanness, and prepare a throne for Hezekiah, king of Judah, who cometh.'" Jacob Neusner. First-Century Judaism in Crisis, (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1975), 200.

"King Hezekiah is identified in Jewish literature with the Messiah." David H. Stern. Jewish New Testament Commetary, (Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1992), 11

To come back to the succession issue, let's look at 2 passages in the Gospels:

candle~1.gif a. Lk:22:29: And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; (KJV)

candle~1.gif b. Jn:20:21: Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. (KJV)

The first quotation was uttered by Jesus at the Last Supper, and the second on Easter Sunday. Jesus confers a kingdom on the Apostles in the same way that the Father confers it on Jesus; Jesus sends the Apostles on mission in the same way that the Father sends Jesus. In short, the Apostles are to do what Jesus did - and one of the things that He did was to ensure the perpetuation of His Church, which will endure through all times against the gates of hell, by appointing successors in His place.

In Matt 16, He calls Peter the "Rock", builds His Church upon him, gives him the keys of the kingdom, and confers "binding and loosing" powers. Two chapters later, in Matt 18, He confers "binding and loosing" powers on the Apostles in general. It is interesting to note that the 2 passages in the Gospel according to Matthew are the * only * 2 times in all 4 Gospels that Jesus uses the word "Church". The Church * must * have pastors with authority, to bind and loose! In both passages, Jesus ensures the transmission of authority and succession, as if to tie these elements in with the continuation of the Church.

candle~1.gif Mt:18:15-18: Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (KJV)

Since Jesus appointed successors or delegates (the Apostles themselves), the Apostles can do no less, as they were sent on the * same * mission as Jesus. In fact, the appointment of Matthias to take the place of Judas could be seen as the first example of apostolic succession:

candle~1.gif Acts:1:15-26: And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take. Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. (KJV)

We can see from passages like Num 27:12-23 that, in the Old Testament, succession or the transfer of power and authority was effected by way of laying of hands. The Apostles did the same thing.

candle~1.gif a. Acts:6:5-6: And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. (KJV)

Note, however, that the deacons did not share in the fullness of apostolic authority and ordained ministry.

candle~1.gif b. Acts:13:2-3: As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. (KJV)

candle~1.gif c. Acts:14:23: And when they had ordained them elders [presbuterous] in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. (KJV)

candle~1.gif d. 1Tm:4:14: Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. (KJV)

candle~1.gif e. 1Tm:5:22: Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure. (KJV)

candle~1.gif f. 2Tm:1:6: Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. (KJV)

Compare the "Timothy" passages above with the following "Corinthian" passages:

candle~1.gif i. 2Cor:1:19-22: For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea. For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. (KJV)

candle~1.gif ii. 2Cor:10:8: For though I should boast somewhat more of our [Paul's and Timothy's] authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed: (KJV)

candle~1.gif iii. 2Cor:11:4 & 13: For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him... For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. (KJV)

From these passages, it is evident that the laying of hands on Timothy is no mere ritual, but is an actual anointing by God, which confers God's authority as well as the preaching ministry. Laying of hand ensures succession and the passing of authority and ministry!

candle~1.gif g. Ti:1:5: For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: (KJV)

We are _not_ claiming that only those in the line of succession will be given the task of preaching the Gospel and ministering to the Church, etc. What we do say is that "[t]hose who attempt to stand outside the teaching and anointing of this line of succession will sooner or later fall into error because they do not have the fullness of truth to guide them." ("Jesus, Peter & The Keys" by Scott Butler, Norman Dahlgren and David Hess, Queenship Publishing Company, 1996, 185) As a Catholic, to ensure orthodoxy is simple - I cleave to the official doctrines taught by the Magisterium (Teaching Authority) - I do not try to "find my own way" by way of private interpretation. Private interpretation is anarchic, to abide by the Magisterium is unitive.

Now, to answer your specific charge that "[t]here is not a particle of historical evidence that Peter passed on any authority to anyone...", let me lay out for you the following Patristic quotes:

a. Irenaeus of Lyons


"Matthew also issued among the Hebrews a written Gospel in their own language, while Peter and Paul were evangelizing in Rome and laying the foundation of the Church" (Against Heresies, 3, 1:1 [A.D. 189]).

b. Irenaeus of Lyons


"But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the succession of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul, that church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. With that church, because of its superior origin, all the churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world, and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition" (ibid., 3:3:2).

c. Irenaeus of Lyons


"The blessed apostles [Peter and Paul], having founded and built up the church [of Rome], they handed over the office of the episcopate to Linus. Paul makes mention of this Linus in the letter to Timothy [2 Tim. 4:21]. To him succeeded Anacletus, and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was chosen for the episcopate. He had seen the blessed apostles and was acquainted with them. It might be said that he still heard the echoes of the preaching of the apostles and had their traditions before his eyes. And not only he, for there were many still remaining who had been instructed by the apostles. In the time of Clement, no small dissension having arisen among the brethren in Corinth, the Church in Rome sent a very strong letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace and renewing their faith . . . To this Clement, Evaristus succeeded . . . and now, in the twelfth place after the apostles, the lot of the episcopate [of Rome] has fallen to Eleutherus. In this order, and by the teaching of the apostles handed down in the Church, the preaching of the truth has come down to us" (ibid., 3:3:3).

d. 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]).

e. The Little Labyrinth


"Victor . . . was the thirteenth bishop of Rome from Peter" (The Little Labyrinth [A.D. 211], in Eusebius, Church History 5:28:3)

f. Cyprian of Carthage


"The Lord says to Peter: 'I say to you,' he says, 'that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. . . . ' [Matt. 16:18] On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. . . . If someone [today] does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?" (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4; first edition [A.D. 251]).

g. Cyprian of Carthage


"Cornelius was made bishop by the decision of God and of his Christ, by the testimony of almost all the clergy, by the applause of the people then present, by the college of venerable priests and good men, at a time when no one had been made [bishop] before him--when the place of [Pope] Fabian, which is the place of Peter, the dignity of the sacerdotal chair, was vacant. Since it has been occupied both at the will of God and with the ratified consent of all of us, whoever now wishes to become bishop must do so outside. For he cannot have ecclesiastical rank who does not hold to the unity of the Church" (Letters 55:[52]):8 [A.D. 253]).

h. Cyprian of Carthage


"With a false bishop appointed for themselves by heretics, they dare even to set sail and carry letters from schismatics and blasphemers to the Chair of Peter and to the principal church [at Rome], in which sacerdotal unity has its source" (ibid., 59:14).

i. Firmilian


"[Pope] Stephen [I] . . . boasts of the place of his episcopate, and contends that he holds the succession from Peter, on whom the foundations of the Church were laid [Matt. 16:18] . . . Stephen ... . . announces that he holds by succession the throne of Peter" (collected in Cyprian's Letters 74[75]):17 [A.D. 253]).

j. The Poem Against the Marcionites


"In this chair in which he himself had sat, Peter in mighty Rome commanded Linus, the first elected, to sit down. After him, Cletus too accepted the flock of the fold. As his successor, Anacletus was elected by lot. Clement follows him, well-known to apostolic men. After him Evaristus ruled the flock without crime. Alexander, sixth in succession, commends the fold to Sixtus. After his illustrious times were completed, he passed it on to Telesphorus. He was excellent, a faithful martyr . . . " (Poem Against the Marcionites 276-284 [A.D. 267]).

k. Eusebius of Caesarea


"Paul testifies that Crescens was sent to Gaul [2 Tim. 4:10], but Linus, whom he mentions in the Second Epistle to Timothy [2 Tim. 4:21] as his companion at Rome, was Peter's successor in the episcopate of the church there, as has already been shown. Clement also, who was appointed third bishop of the church at Rome, was, as Paul testifies, his co-laborer and fellow-soldier [Phil. 4:3]" (Church History 3:4:9-10 [A.D. 312]).

l. Pope Julius I


"[The] judgment [against Athanasius] ought to have been made, not as it was, but according to the ecclesiastical canon. It behooved all of you to write us so that the justice of it might be seen as emanating from all. . . . Are you ignorant that the custom has been to write first to us and then for a just decision to be passed from this place [Rome]? If, then, any such suspicion rested upon the bishop there [Athanasius of Alexandria], notice of it ought to have been written to the church here. But now, after having done as they pleased, they want to obtain our concurrence, although we never condemned him. Not thus are the constitutions of Paul, not thus the traditions of the Fathers. This is another form of procedure, and a novel practice. . . . What I write about this is for the common good. For what we have heard from the blessed Apostle Peter, these things I signify to you" (Letter on Behalf of Athanasius [A.D. 341], contained in Athanasius, Apology Against the Arians 20-35).

m. Council of Sardica


"[I]f any bishop loses the judgment in some case [decided by his fellow bishops] and still believes that he has not a bad but a good case, in order that the case may be judged anew . . . let us honor the memory of the Apostle Peter by having those who have given the judgment write to Julius, Bishop of Rome, so that if it seem proper he may himself send arbiters and the judgment may be made again by the bishops of a neighboring province" (canon 3 [A.D. 342]).

n. Optatus


"You cannot deny that you are aware that in the city of Rome the episcopal chair was given first to Peter; the chair in which Peter sat, the same who was head--that is why he is also called Cephas ["Rock"]--of all the apostles; the one chair in which unity is maintained by all" (The Schism of the Donatists 2:2 [A.D. 367]).

o. Epiphanius of Salamis


"At Rome the first Apostles and bishops were Peter and Paul, then Linus, then Cletus, then Clement, the contemporary of Peter and Paul" (Medicine Chest Against All Heresies 27:6 [A.D. 375]).

p. Pope Damasus I


"Likewise it is decreed: . . . [W]e have considered that it ought to be announced that . . . the holy Roman Church has been placed at the forefront not by the conciliar decisions of other churches, but has received the primacy by the evangelic voice of our Lord and Savior, who says: 'You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it; and I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you shall have bound on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall have loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven' [Matt. 16:18-19]. The first see [today], therefore, is that of Peter the apostle, that of the Roman Church, which has neither stain nor blemish nor anything like it" (Decree of Damasus 3 [A.D. 382]).

q. Jerome


"[Pope] Stephen . . . was the blessed Peter's twenty-second successor in the See of Rome" (Against the Luciferians 23 [A.D. 383]).

r. Jerome


"Clement, of whom the apostle Paul writing to the Philippians says 'With Clement and others of my fellow-workers whose names are written in the book of life,' the fourth bishop of Rome after Peter, if indeed the second was Linus and the third Anacletus, although most of the Latins think that Clement was second after the apostle" (Lives of Illustrious Men 15 [A.D. 396]).

s. Jerome


"Since the East, shattered as it is by the long-standing feuds, subsisting between its peoples, is bit by bit tearing into shreds the seamless vest of the Lord . . . I think it my duty to consult the chair of Peter, and to turn to a church [Rome] whose faith has been praised by Paul [Rom. 1:8]. I appeal for spiritual food to the church whence I have received the garb of Christ. . . . Evil children have squandered their patrimony; you alone keep your heritage intact" (Letters 15:1 [A.D. 396]).

t. Jerome


"I follow no leader but Christ and join in communion with none but your blessedness [Pope Damasus I], that is, with the chair of Peter. I know that this is the rock on which the Church has been built. Whoever eats the Lamb outside this house is profane. Anyone who is not in the ark on Noah will perish when the flood prevails" (ibid., 15:2).

u. Jerome


"The church here is split into three parts, each eager to seize me for its own. . . . Meanwhile I keep crying, 'He that is joined to the chair of Peter is accepted by me!' . . . Therefore, I implore your blessedness [Pope Damasus I] . . . tell me by letter with whom it is that I should communicate in Syria" (ibid., 16:2).

v. Ambrose of Milan


"[T]hey [the Novatian heretics] have not the succession of Peter, who hold not the chair of Peter, which they rend by wicked schism; and this, too, they do, wickedly denying that sins can be forgiven [by the sacrament of confession] even in the Church, whereas it was said to Peter: "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven" [Matt. 16:19]" (Penance 1:7:33 [A.D. 388]).

w. Augustine


"If all men throughout the world were such as you most vainly accuse them of having been, what has the chair of the Roman church done to you, in which Peter sat, and in which Anastasius sits today?" (Against the Letters of Petilani 2:118 [A.D. 402]).

x. Augustine


"If the very order of episcopal succession is to be considered, how much more surely, truly, and safely do we number them from Peter himself, to whom, as to one representing the whole Church, the Lord said, "Upon this rock I will build my church . . . " [Matt. 16:18]. Peter was succeeded by Linus, Linus by Clement, Clement by Anacletus, Anacletus by Evaristus . . . " (Letters 53:1:2 [A.D. 412]).

y. Council of Ephesus


"Philip the presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See said: 'There is no doubt, and in fact it has been known in all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the Apostles, pillar of the faith, and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race, and that to him was given the power of loosing and binding sins: who down even to to-day and forever both lives and judges in his successors. The holy and most blessed pope Celestine, according to due order, is his successor and holds his place, and us he sent to supply his place m this holy synod'" (Acts of the Council, session 3 [A.D. 431]).

z. Pope Leo I


"As for the resolution of the bishops which is contrary to the Nicene decree, in union with your faithful piety, I declare it to be invalid and annul it by the authority of the holy Apostle Peter" (Letters 110 [A.D. 445]).

aa. Pope Leo I


"[T]he Lord says, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, because flesh and blood have not revealed it to you, but my Father, who is in heaven. And I say to you, that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it . . .' [Matt. 16:18]. The dispensation of truth therefore abides, and the blessed Peter persevering in the strength of the rock, which he has received, has not abandoned the helm of the Church" (Sermons 3:2-3 [A.D. 450]).

bb. Pope Leo I


"Whereupon the blessed Peter, as inspired by God, and about to benefit all nations by his confession, said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Not undeservedly, therefore, was he pronounced blessed by the Lord, and derived from the original Rock that solidity which belonged both to his virtue and to his name [Peter]" (The Tome of Leo [A.D. 449]).

cc. Council of Chalcedon


"After the reading of the foregoing epistle [The Tome of Leo], the most reverend bishops cried out: 'This is the faith of the fathers! this is the faith of the Apostles! So we all believe! thus the orthodox believe! Anathema to him who does not thus believe! Peter has spoken thus through Leo! . . ...... This is the true faith! Those of us who are orthodox thus believe! This is the faith of the Fathers!'" (Acts of the Council, session 2 [A.D. 451]).

dd. Peter Chrysologus


"We exhort you in every respect, honorable brother, to heed obediently what has been written by the most blessed pope of the city of Rome, for blessed Peter, who lives and presides in his own see, provides the truth of faith to those who seek it. For we, by reason of our pursuit of peace and faith, cannot try cases on the faith without the consent of the bishop of Rome" (Letters 25:2 [A.D. 449]).

> 5. The Roman Church stresses the position of Peter but note the influence of Paul:

My response:

1. We do not deny the influence of the great St. Paul the Apostle! For good reason is Paul held as a model and example of a great missionary in the Catholic Church.

2. However, the question of influence is neither here nor there. "Who is more influential?" is not the issue. The issue is whether Peter was given the leadership of Christ's Church. One could argue that Paul was more "influential" (Quaere: "Influential" in what? Does Scripture say what a man must be influential in before he can be accepted as a leader in the Christian Church? Does it say that he must be the *most* influential? How "influential" must he be? My opinion is that your criterion is extremely nebulous, not to mention unscriptural), but even if he were, he could not wrest the keys of the kingdom from Peter's hands, could he? The fact of the matter is that there is Petrine primacy, but there is no evidence for a "Pauline primacy", is there?


> a) Paul went to Rome. (Acts 28:14-31); there is not certain Scriptural evidence of Peter having > gone there.


Sure there is!

candle~1.gif 1Pt:5:13: The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son. (KJV)

I'm sure you're aware that "Babylon" is a code-name for pagan Rome. That's where Peter was writing from at the time.

However, you may be wondering: "But why isn't there more scriptural evidence of Peter's presence in Rome?" Simple. You'll see that the majority of the Epistles were written by Paul. Knowing that Paul was a zealous ex-Pharisee and the former disciple of the great Gamaliel, is it any wonder that he churned out more writings than Peter the fisherman? James and Jude only wrote one letter each, and even John (who lived to the ripe old age of 100) only had 3 Epistles to his name (of course he also penned the 4th Gospel and Revelation). 14 letters are attributed to Paul (if you count the Letter to the Hebrews), and only 2 rather short letters to Peter, who acknowledged and admitted that he wanted to keep 'em short:

candle~1.gif 1Pt:5:12: By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand. (KJV)

Who wrote the Acts of the Apostles? Luke, and he was the disciple of Paul. Before Paul's conversion in Acts 9, and even for some chapters after that, Peter was the protagonist. He was mentioned no fewer than 50 times in Acts. After the Council of Jerusalem, however, Luke concentrates on the missions of his master, Paul. Hence Peter virtually "drops out of the picture".

Therefore, the paucity of Scriptural evidence for Peter's presence in Rome is easily explained: Paul and Luke combined happened to have written more of the New Testament than Peter and Mark (Peter's disciple)! But take a look at the Patristic and historical evidence. The Fathers were unanimous in saying that Peter was martyred in Rome under the Emperor Nero!

a. Ignatius of Antioch


"Not as Peter and Paul did, do I command you [Romans]. They were apostles, and I am a convict" (Letter to the Romans 4:3 [A.D. 110]).

b. Dionysius of Corinth


"You [Pope Soter] have also, by your very admonition, brought together the planting that was made by Peter and Paul at Rome and at Corinth; for both of them alike planted in our Corinth and taught us; and both alike, teaching similarly in Italy, suffered martyrdom at the same time" (Letter to Pope Soter [A.D. 170], in Eusebius, History of the Church 2:25:8).

c. Irenaeus of Lyons


"Matthew also issued among the Hebrews a written Gospel in their own language, while Peter and Paul were evangelizing in Rome and laying the foundation of the Church" (Against Heresies, 3, 1:1 [A.D. 189]).

d. Irenaeus of Lyons


"But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the succession of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul, that church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. With that church, because of its superior origin, all the churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world, and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition" (ibid., 3:3:2).

e. Irenaeus of Lyons


"The blessed apostles [Peter and Paul], having founded and built up the church [of Rome], they handed over the office of the episcopate to Linus. Paul makes mention of this Linus in the letter to Timothy [2 Tim. 4:21]. To him succeeded Anacletus, and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was chosen for the episcopate. He had seen the blessed apostles and was acquainted with them. It might be said that he still heard the echoes of the preaching of the apostles and had their traditions before his eyes. And not only he, for there were many still remaining who had been instructed by the apostles. In the time of Clement, no small dissension having arisen among the brethren in Corinth, the Church in Rome sent a very strong letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace and renewing their faith . . . To this Clement, Evaristus succeeded . . . and now, in the twelfth place after the apostles, the lot of the episcopate [of Rome] has fallen to Eleutherus. In this order, and by the teaching of the apostles handed down in the Church, the preaching of the truth has come down to us" (ibid., 3:3:3).

f. Caius


"It is recorded that Paul was beheaded in Rome itself, and Peter, likewise, was crucified, during the reign [of the Emperor Nero]. The account is confirmed by the names of Peter and Paul over the cemeteries there, which remain to the present time. And it is confirmed also by a stalwart man of the Church, Gaius by name, who lived in the time of Zephyrinus, bishop of Rome. This Gaius, in a written disputation with Proclus, the leader of the sect of Cataphrygians, says this of the places in which the remains of the aforementioned apostles were deposited: 'I can point out the trophies of the apostles. For if you are willing to go to the Vatican or to the Ostian Way, you will find the trophies of those who founded this Church"' (Disputation with Proclus [A.D. 198] in Eusebius, Church History 2:25:5).

g. Clement of Alexandria


"The circumstances which occasioned . . . [the writing] of Mark were these: When Peter preached the Word publicly at Rome and declared the gospel by the Spirit, many who were present requested that Mark, who had been a long time his follower and who remembered his sayings; should write down what had been proclaimed" (Sketches [A.D. 200], in a fragment from Eusebius, History of the Church, 6, 14:1).

h. Tertullian


"But if you are near Italy, you have Rome, where authority is at hand for us too. What a happy church that is, on which the apostles poured out their whole doctrine with their blood; where Peter had a passion like that of the Lord, where Paul was crowned with the death of John [the Baptist, by being beheaded]" (Demurrer Against the Heretics 36 [A.D. 200]).

i. 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" (ibid., 32:2).

j. Tertullian


"Let us see what milk the Corinthians drained from Paul; against what standard the Galatians were measured for correction; what the Philippians, Thessalonians, and Ephesians read; what even the nearby Romans sound forth, to whom both Peter and Paul bequeathed the gospel and even sealed it with their blood" (Against Marcion 4, 5:1 [A.D. 210]).

k. The Little Labyrinth


"Victor . . . was the thirteenth bishop of Rome from Peter" (The Little Labyrinth [A.D. 211], in Eusebius, Church History 5:28:3)

l. The Poem Against the Marcionites


"In this chair in which he himself had sat, Peter in mighty Rome commanded Linus, the first elected, to sit down. After him, Cletus too accepted the flock of the fold. As his successor, Anacletus was elected by lot. Clement follows him, well-known to apostolic men. After him Evaristus ruled the flock without crime. Alexander, sixth in succession, commends the fold to Sixtus. After his illustrious times were completed, he passed it on to Telesphorus. He was excellent, a faithful martyr . . . " (Poem Against the Marcionites 276-284 [A.D. 267]).

m. Eusebius of Caesarea


"[In the second] year of the two hundredth and fifth Olympiad [A.D. 42]: The Apostle Peter, after he has established the church in Antioch, is sent to Rome, where he remains as a bishop of that city, preaching the gospel for twenty-five years" (The Chronicle [A.D. 303]).

n. Peter of Alexandria


"Peter, the first chosen of the apostles, having been apprehended often and thrown into prison and treated with ignominy, at last was crucified in Rome" (Penance, canon 9 [A.D. 306]).

o. Lactantius


"When Nero was already reigning Peter came to Rome, where, in virtue of the performance of certain miracles which he worked . . . he converted many to righteousness and established a firm and steadfast temple to God. When this fact was reported to Nero . . . he sprang to the task of tearing down the heavenly temple and of destroying righteousness. It was he that first persecuted the servants of God. Peter he fixed to a cross, and Paul he slew" (The Deaths of the Persecutors 2:5 [A.D. 318]).

p. Cyril of Jerusalem


"[Simon Magus] so deceived the city of Rome that Claudius erected a statue of him . . .While the error was extending itself, Peter and Paul arrived, a noble pair and the rulers of the Church, and they set the error aright. . . . [T]hey launched the weapon of their like-mindedness in prayer against the Magus, and struck him down to earth. It was marvelous enough, and yet no marvel at all, for Peter was there--he that carries about the keys of heaven. And it was nothing to marvel at, for Paul was there--he that was caught up into the third heaven" (Catechetical Lectures 6:14 [A.D. 350]).

q. Optatus


"You cannot deny that you are aware that in the city of Rome the episcopal chair was given first to Peter; the chair in which Peter sat, the same who was head--that is why he is also called Cephas ["Rock"]--of all the apostles; the one chair in which unity is maintained by all" (The Schism of the Donatists 2:2 [A.D. 367]).

r. Epiphanius of Salamis


"At Rome the first Apostles and bishops were Peter and Paul, then Linus, then Cletus, then Clement, the contemporary of Peter and Paul" (Medicine Chest Against All Heresies 27:6 [A.D. 375]).

s. Pope Damasus I


"Likewise it is decreed: . . . [W]e have considered that it ought to be announced that although all the Catholic Churches spread abroad through the world comprise one bridal chamber of Christ, nevertheless, the holy Roman Church has been placed at the forefront not by the conciliar decisions of other churches, but has received the primacy by the evangelic voice of our Lord and Savior, who says: 'You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it; and I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you shall have bound on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall have loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven' [Matt. 16:18-19]. The first see, therefore, is that of Peter the apostle, that of the Roman Church, which has neither stain nor blemish nor anything like it "In addition to this, there is also the companionship of the vessel of election, the most blessed apostle Paul, who contended and was crowned with a glorious death along with Peter in the city of Rome in the time of Caesar Nero . . . . They equally consecrated the above-mentioned holy Roman Church to Christ the Lord; and by their own presence and by their venerable triumph they set it at the forefront over the others of all the cities of the whole world.

"The first see, therefore, is that of Peter the apostle, that of the Roman Church, which has neither stain nor blemish nor anything like it. The second see, however, is that at Alexandria, consecrated in behalf of blessed Peter by Mark, his disciple and an evangelist, who was sent to Egypt by the Apostle Peter, where he preached the word of truth and finished his glorious martyrdom. The third honorable see, indeed, is that at Antioch, which belonged to the most blessed Apostle Peter, where first he dwelt before he came to Rome and where the name Christians was first applied, as to a new people" (Decree of Damasus 3 [A.D. 382]).

t. Jerome


"[Pope] Stephen . . . was the blessed Peter's twenty-second successor in the See of Rome" (Against the Luciferians 23 [A.D. 383]).

u. Jerome


"Simon Peter, the son of John, from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, brother of Andrew the apostle, and himself chief of the apostles, after having been bishop of the church of Antioch and having preached to the Dispersion . . . pushed on to Rome in the second year of Claudius to over-throw Simon Magus, and held the sacerdotal chair there for twenty-five years until the last, that is the fourteenth, year of Nero. At his hands he received the crown of martyrdom being nailed to the cross with his head towards the ground and his feet raised on high, asserting that he was unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord" (Lives of Illustrious Men 1 [A.D. 396]).

v. Augustine


"If all men throughout the world were such as you most vainly accuse them of having been, what has the chair of the Roman church done to you, in which Peter sat, and in which Anastasius sits today?" (Against the Letters of Petilani 2:118 [A.D. 402]).

w. Peter Chrysologus


"We exhort you in every respect, honorable brother, to heed obediently what has been written by the most blessed pope of the city of Rome, for blessed Peter, who lives and presides in his own see, provides the truth of faith to those who seek it. For we, by reason of our pursuit of peace and faith, cannot try cases on the faith without the consent of the bishop of Rome" (Letters 25:2 [A.D. 449]).

> b) Paul wrote to the ecclesia at Rome. (Rom. 1:1,7); Peter did not.

I have already explained why Paul was more likely to have written things than Peter. In any event, the Great Commission which Jesus gave to the Apostles (and hence to Peter) says *nothing* about the need to write. The Apostles were told to *preach*, and this Peter certainly did in Rome (as we can see from the copious evidence from Patristic and historical sources). Can you give me a Biblical principle which says that a person who does not write is not worthy of being a leader? Remember, it's all about preaching as far as Jesus is concerned - and in fact, the Apostles preached (rather than wrote) the word of God more often than not.

Mt:28:18-20: And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (KJV)

After all, only 7 out of 13 Apostles (including Matthias and Paul) wrote anything in the New Testament. Were the rest derelict in their duty because they preached (in obedience to their Master) instead of wrote (which was never commanded)?

> c) Paul had impor`tant jurisdiction and authority. For example:

I'm sorry, but surely you do not think that we deny Paul's importance and authority? But what has this got to do with Peter's primacy? Does the existence of Al Gore mean that Bill Clinton's presidency is impaired (of course it could be *impeached* for other reasons, but that's another story!)?

We echo your statement that "Paul had important jurisdiction and authority." But no matter how "influential" (your word) Paul was, the fact of the matter is that Peter alone was given the keys to the Kingdom of heaven, and told to be the Rock on which the Church is built. Paul's missionary success or influence cannot change that. Otherwise it would mean that every Pope in every age would find himself inadvertently deposed of his office because of the exemplary work or service of some Catholic luminary. And Catholic luminaries we have in plenty, eg. Justin Martyr, Augustine, Athanasius, Thomas Aquinas, Francis of Assisi, Dominic, Anthony of Padua, Vincent Ferrer, Teresa of Avila, Robert Bellarmine, Ignatius of Loyola, Therese of Lisieux, Mother Teresa, etc.

There is further evidence for the primacy of Peter in Scripture:

"A statistical analysis of the Gospels and the Acts shows that among the Twelve the name of Peter occurs no less than 195 times, whereas the rest of the Apostles can muster only 130 nominations. This proportion is further enhanced by the fact that the Apostle who comes next in prominence is John, with only 29 references to his name." Michael W. Winter, Saint Peter and the Popes, (Baltimore: Helicon, 1960), 1.

"Wherever the Apostles are enumerated in the Gospels, St. Peter is invariably named first. St. Matthew expressly calls him 'the first' (x. 2), the same Greek word (protos) being rendered 'chief' in chap xx. 27, and other passages. Mr. Allie remarks: 'Now, that second and third do not follow, shows that "first" is not a numeral here, but designates rank and pre-eminence. Thus in heathen authors this word "first" by itself indicates the more excellent in its kind: thus in the Septuagint occur, "first friend of the king," "first of the singers," "the first priest," i.e., the chief priest (Nehem. xii. 46; 2 Chron. xxvi. 20). So our Lord: "Whichever among you will be first" (Matt. xx. 27); "Bring forth the first robe" (Luke xv. 22); and St. Paul: "Sinners, of whom I am the first," i.e., chief (1 Tim. i. 15). Thus "the first of the island" (Acts xxviii. 7), means the chief magistrate; and "first" generally, in Latin phraseology, the superior or prince.' St. Peter, His Name and Office, p. 95, 2d. edit." Charles F. B. Allnatt, ed., Cathedra Petri - The Titles and Prerogatives of St. Peter, (London: Burn & Oates, 1879), 47.

Notice that Peter was not the first Apostle (chronologically speaking) to be called - Andrew and John were called first - and yet he was always named first in the Gospels and in Acts, and called "the first":

candle~1.gif Jn:1:38-41: Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. (KJV)


OK, now coming to the Patristic quotations to show the primacy of Peter:

a. Clement of Alexandria


"[T]he blessed Peter, the chosen, the pre-eminent, the first among the disciples, for whom alone with himself the Savior paid the tribute [Matt. 17:27], quickly grasped and understood their meaning. And what does he say? `Behold, we have left all and have followed you'" [Matt. 19:27; Mark 10:28] (Who Is the Rich Man That is Saved? 21:3-5 [A.D. 200]).

b. Tertullian


"For though you think that heaven is still shut up, remember that the Lord left the keys of it to Peter here, and through him to the Church, which keys everyone will carry with him if he has been questioned and made a confession [of faith]" (Antidote Against the Scorpion 10 [A.D. 211]).

c. Tertullian


"[T]he Lord said to Peter, 'On this rock I will build my Church, I have given you the keys of the kingdom of heaven [and] whatever you shall have bound or loosed on earth will be bound or loosed in heaven' [Matt. 16:18-19] . . . Upon you, he says, I will build my Church; and I will give to you the keys, not to the Church; and whatever you shall have bound or you shall have loosed, not what they shall have bound or they shall have loosed" (Modesty 21:9-10 [A.D. 220]).

d. The Letter of Clement to James


"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, the first-fruits of our Lord, the first of the apostles; to whom first the Father revealed the Son; whom the Christ, with good reason, blessed; the called, and elect" (Letter of Clement to James 2 [A.D. 221])

e. Origen


"[I]f we were to attend carefully to the gospels, we should also find, in relation to those things which seem to be common to Peter . . . a great difference and a preeminence in the things [Jesus] said to Peter, compared with the second class [of apostles]. For it is no small difference that Peter received the keys not of one heaven but of more, and in order that whatsoever things he binds on earth may be bound not in one heaven but in them all, as compared with the many who bind on earth and loose on earth, so that these things are bound and loosed not in [all] the heavens, as in the case of Peter, but in one only; for they do not reach so high a stage with power as Peter to bind and loose in all the heavens" (Commentary on Matthew 13:31 [A.D. 248]).

f. Cyprian of Carthage


"The Lord says to Peter: 'I say to you,' he says, 'that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church' . . . On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. So too, all [the apostles] are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?" (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4; 1st edition [A.D. 251]).

g. Cyril of Jerusalem


"The Lord is loving toward men, swift to pardon but slow to punish. Let no man despair of his own salvation. Peter, the first and foremost of the apostles, denied the Lord three times before a little servant girl, but he repented and wept bitterly" (Catechetical Lectures 2:19 [A.D. 350]).

h. Cyril of Jerusalem


"[Simon Magus] so deceived the city of Rome that Claudius erected a statue of him . . .While the error was extending itself, Peter and Paul arrived, a noble pair and the rulers of the Church, and they set the error aright. . . . [T]hey launched the weapon of their like-mindedness in prayer against the Magus, and struck him down to earth. It was marvelous enough, and yet no marvel at all, for Peter was there--he that carries about the keys of heaven [Matt. 16:19]" (ibid., 6:14).

i. Cyril of Jerusalem


"In the power of the same Holy Spirit, Peter, both the chief of the apostles and the keeper of the keys of the kingdom of heaven, in the name of Christ healed Aeneas the paralytic at Lydda, which is now called Diospolis" [Acts 9:32-34] (ibid., 17:27).

j. Ephraim the Syrian


"[Jesus said:] Simon, my follower, I have made you the foundation of the holy Church. I betimes called you Peter, because you will support all its buildings. You are the inspector of those who will build on Earth a Church for me. If they should wish to build what is false, you, the foundation, will condemn them. You are the head of the fountain from which my teaching flows; you are the chief of my disciples. Through you I will give drink to all peoples. Yours is that life-giving sweetness which I dispense. I have chosen you to be, as it were, the first-born in my institution so that, as the heir, you may be executor of my treasures. I have given you the keys of my kingdom. Behold, I have given you authority over all my treasures" (Homilies 4:1 [A.D. 351]).

k. Ambrose of Milan


"[Christ] made answer: 'You are Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church . . .' Could he not, then, strengthen the faith of the man to whom, acting on his own authority, he gave the kingdom, whom he called the rock, thereby declaring him to be the foundation of the Church [Matt. 16:18]?" (The Faith 4:5 [A.D. 379]).

l. Pope Damasus I


"Likewise it is decreed . . . that it ought to be announced that . . . the holy Roman Church has been placed at the forefront not by the conciliar decisions of other churches, but has received the primacy by the evangelic voice of our Lord and Savior, who says: 'You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it; and I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven . . . ' [Matt. 16:18-19]. The first see, therefore, is that of Peter the apostle, that of the Roman Church, which has neither stain nor blemish nor anything like it" (Decree of Damasus 3 [A.D. 382]).

m. Jerome


"'But,' you [Jovinian] will say, 'it was on Peter that the Church was founded' [Matt. 16:18]. Well ..... . . one among the twelve is chosen to be their head in order to remove any occasion for division" (Against Jovinian 1:26 [A.D. 393]).

n. Jerome


"Simon Peter, the son of John, from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, brother of Andrew the apostle, and himself chief of the apostles, after having been bishop of the church of Antioch and having preached to the Dispersion . . . pushed on to Rome in the second year of Claudius to over-throw Simon Magus, and held the sacerdotal chair there for twenty-five years until the last, that is the fourteenth, year of Nero. At his hands he received the crown of martyrdom being nailed to the cross with his head towards the ground and his feet raised on high, asserting that he was unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord" (Lives of Illustrious Men 1 [A.D. 396]).

o. Pope Innocent I


"In seeking the things of God . . . you have acknowledged that judgment is to be referred to us [the pope], and have shown that you know that is owed to the Apostolic See [Rome], if all of us placed in this position are to desire to follow the Apostle himself [Peter] from whom the episcopate itself and the total authority of this name have emerged" (Letters 29:1 [A.D. 408]).

p. Augustine


"Among these [apostles] Peter alone almost everywhere deserved to represent the whole Church. Because of that representation of the Church, which only he bore, he deserved to hear 'I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven" (Sermons 295:2 [A.D. 411]).

q. Augustine


"Some things are said which seem to relate especially to the apostle Peter, and yet are not clear in their meaning unless referred to the Church, which he is acknowledged to have represented in a figure on account of the primacy which he bore among the disciples. Such is 'I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven,' and other similar passages. In the same way, Judas represents those Jews who were Christ's enemies" (Commentary on Psalm 108 1 [A.D. 415])

r. Augustine


"Who is ignorant that the first of the apostles is the most blessed Peter?" (Commentary on John 56:1 [A.D. 416]).

s. Council of Ephesus


"Philip, presbyter and legate of [Pope Celestine I] said: 'We offer our thanks to the holy and venerable synod, that when the writings of our holy and blessed pope had been read to you . . . you joined yourselves to the holy head also by your holy acclamations. For your blessednesses is not ignorant that the head of the whole faith, the head of the Apostles, is blessed Peter the Apostle'" (Acts of the Council, session 2 [A.D. 431]).

t. Council of Ephesus


"Philip, the presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See [Rome] said: 'There is no doubt, and in fact it has been known in all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the Apostles, pillar of the faith, and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race, and that to him was given the power of loosing and binding sins: who down even to today and forever both lives and judges in his successors'" (ibid., session 3).

u. Pope Leo I


"Our Lord Jesus Christ . . . has placed the principal charge on the blessed Peter, chief of all the apostles, and from him as from the head wishes his gifts to flow to all the body, so that anyone who dares to secede from Peter's solid rock may understand that he has no part or lot in the divine mystery. He wished him who had been received into partnership in his undivided unity to be named what he himself was, when he said: 'You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church' [Matt. 16:18], that the building of the eternal temple might rest on Peter's solid rock, strengthening his Church so surely that neither could human rashness assail it nor the gates of hell prevail against it" (Letters 10:1 [A.D. 445).

v. Pope Leo I


"Our Lord Jesus Christ . . . established the worship belonging to the divine [Christian] religion . ..... . But the Lord desired that the sacrament of this gift should pertain to all the apostles in such a way that it might be found principally in the most blessed Peter, the highest of all the apostles. And he wanted his gifts to flow into the entire body from Peter himself, as if from the head, in such a way that anyone who had dared to separate himself from the solidarity of Peter would realize that he was himself no longer a sharer in the divine mystery" (ibid., 10:2-3).

w. Pope Leo I


"Although bishops have a common dignity, they are not all of the same rank. Even among the most blessed apostles, though they were alike in honor, there was a certain distinction of power. All were equal in being chosen, but it was given to one to be preeminent over the others. . . . [So today through the bishops] the care of the universal Church would converge in the one See of Peter, and nothing should ever be at odds with this head" (ibid., 14:11).

x. Pope Leo I


"[T]he blessed Peter persevering in the strength of the Rock, which he has received, has not abandoned the helm of the Church, which he understood. For he was ordained before the rest in such a way that from his being called the rock, from his being pronounced the foundation, from his being constituted the doorkeeper of the kingdom of heaven, from his being set as the umpire to bind and loose, whose judgments shall retain their validity in heaven, from all these mystical titles we might know the nature of his association with Christ" (Sermons 3:2-3 [A.D. 450]).


> 6. If the Roman Chuch is the custodian and preserver of absolute truth, why did it take nearly 1900 > years, until this was officially declared in 1870?


The fact that papal infallibility was declared as a dogma only in 1870 (Vatican I) does not mean that the Church did not believe it previously. All it means is that the Extraordinary Magisterium was being exercised to clarify, consolidate and remove all doubts about this belief. A study of the history of Ecumenical Councils in the Church should make this point evident. They are usually convened in response to heresies or certain needs in the Church, to affirm in an * extraordinary * way what has been taught previously. Do you reject the canon of the New Testament simply because it was only made definitive in the 4th century? How come 360 years is "short" enough to be accepted, but 1840 years is too "long"? On what basis and authority is this principle put forth?


> 7. Matt 18:1; Mark 9:34; Luke 22:24 all record a dispute among the disciples as to who should be > the greatest. This dispute is important for two reasons: > a) It is apparent that if Peter had been given the kind of authority asserted by Roman Catholics > then it is very unlikely that a dispute as to who was to be accounted the greatest would have > arisen.


Your argument is fallacious. What the incidents actually show is that, prior to the Resurrection, the Apostles did not understand many things, one of which being the primacy of Peter. Heck, you will recall that the Apostles did not even understand what the Kingdom was going to be (they kept thinking it was a political kingdom), and they did not comprehend (let alone believe) that Jesus was going to die and be raised up on the 3rd day. What's the big deal about another teaching they did not understand?


> b) Jesus' reply, in Luke 22:25-30, does not mention the primacy of Peter, and further suggests > that there would be no distinction among the apostles, when they would "sit on thrones judging the > twelve tribes of Israel". (vs. 30).


If I point to the Prime Minister and his cabinet ministers and say: "These guys will govern the Republic of Singapore", do I imply that there is no Prime Minister? Of course not! Why should the fact that Luke 22:25-30 is silent on the primacy of Peter mean that there is no primacy? Why do you discard all the * other * verses and evidence that talk about the primacy in deference and preference to one single citation, Luke 22:25-30? Once again, why is there no attempt to harmonise and reconcile verses?


> 8. A similar argument can be advanced, on the request of the mother of James and John, for the two > highest postitions in the kingdom. (Matt. 20:20-23). Would they be ignorant of Peter's > appointment to the supreme place if this was in fact the case?


In response to your "similar argument", I reiterate my "similar argument" above.


> 10. Peter never indicates any personal superiority in his epistles. He refers to himself as "an > apostle", (1 Pet. 5:1) "an elder", ("a fellow elder) (1 Pet 5:1 R.S.V.), and instructs the elders > not to be "lords over God's heritage," but to be "examples to the flock." (1 Pet. 5:3).


If the President of the United States begins his speech with the words: "My fellow Americans...", is he denying his presidency and leadership of the country? If a Bishop addresses a gathering of priests with the words: "My brother priests...", is he repudiating his episcopacy? If a priest or a pastor greets his congregation: "My brothers and sisters in Christ...", is he foregoing his ministry of leading the flock? It seems to me that you are reading too much into the above verses you quoted. They are, at most, your own interpolation. Certainly, Peter was an apostle and an elder, but not all apostles or elders had the role of Peter.

I'm not too sure what you intend to say when you quoted 1 Pet 5:3. Are you denying * any * hierarchy or authority whatsoever, and asserting a kind of communist style of governance for the Church? If so, I think verse 2 shows that this is untrue:

candle~1.gif 1Pt:5:2: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; (KJV)

"Feed the flock" is (as I pointed out earlier) an expression synonymous with leadership. Also "taking the oversight thereof" refers to guardianship. Bishops are (in effect) "overseers".

candle~1.gif 1. Acts:20:28: Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. (KJV)

candle~1.gif 2. Heb:13:17: Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (KJV)


> 11. How can the Church claim that decisions made by its councils are authoritative, when they are > clearly wrong e.g. the repudiation of the findings of Galileo and his imprisonment by the Church > which held to the Ptolemaic theory.


Most of what I'm going to say here has been unabashedly "swiped" from George Sim Johnston's excellent and well-balanced article on the Galileo controversy (Scepter Press). You'll see that, where Church authorities overstepped their boundaries, we acknowledge the sin with a "mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa". But the Galileo affair has precious little to do with papal infallbility, except that people like to use it as a bludgeon against the papacy and the Catholic Church.

1. In 1979, Pope John Paul II expressed the wish that the Pontifical Academy of Sciences conduct an in-depth study of the celebrated Galileo case. A commission of scholars was convened, and they presented their report to the Pope on October 31, 1992.

2. Contrary to reports in The New York Times, etc., the Holy See was not on this occasion finally throwing in the towel and admitting that the earth revolves around the sun. That particular debate, so far as the Church was concerned, had been closed since at least 1741 when Pope Benedict XIV bid the Holy Office grant an imprimatur (Latin for "let it be printed") to the first edition of the Complete Works of Galileo.

3. What John Paul II wanted was a better understanding of the whole affair by both scientists and theologians. The Holy Father was trying to heal the tragic split between faith and science which occurred in the 17th century and from which Western culture has not recovered. Following the guidelines of the Second Vatican Council, he wished to make clear that science has a legitimate freedom in its own sphere and that this freedom was unduly violated by Church authorities in the case of Galileo.

4. There was, admittedly, an abuse of the Church's * disciplinary * powers in dealing with Galileo, but this had nothing to do with papal or ecumenical infallibility. The concept of heliocentrism is a * scientific * issue, not one of *f aith and morals * - and it is only in the latter sphere that the Church claims to be infallible, and only then under certain conditions.

5. Pope John Paul II pointed out that "the Galileo case has been a sort of 'myth,' in which the image fabricated out of the events was quite far removed from the reality. In this perspective, the Galileo case was the symbol of the Church's supposed rejection of scientific progress." Galileo's run-in with the Church, according to the Pope, involved a "tragic mutual incomprehension" in which both sides were at fault. It was a conflict that ought never to have occurred, because faith and science, properly understood, can never be at odds.

6. The Victorian biologist Thomas Henry Huxley, who had no brief for Catholicism, once examined the case and concluded that "the Church had the best of it." The most striking point about the whole affair is that until Galileo forced the issue into the realm of theology, the Church had been a willing ombudsman for the new astronomy. It had encouraged the work of Copernicus and sheltered Kepler against the persecutions of Calvinists. Problems only arose when the debate went beyond the mere question of celestial mechanics. But here we need some historical background.

7. The modern age of science began in 1543 when Nicholas Copernicus, a Polish Canon, published his epochal "On the Revolution of the Celestial Orbs". The popular view is that Copernicus "discovered" that the earth revolves around the sun. Actually, the notion is at least as old as the ancient Greeks. But the geocentric theory, endorsed by Aristotle and given mathematical plausibility by Ptolemy, was the prevailing model until Copernicus.

8. Geocentricity was given additional credibility by certain passages of Scripture, which seemed to affirm the mobility of sun and the fixity of the earth. Most early Church Fathers simply took it for granted; but they weren't really interested in scientific explanations of the cosmos. As St. Ambrose wrote, "To discuss the nature and position of the earth does not help us in our hope of the life to come."

9. That Copernicus believed the helioocentric theory to be a true description of reality went largely unnoticed. This was partly because he still made reassuring use of Ptolemy's cycles and epicycles; he also borrowed from Aristotle the notion that the planets must move in circles because that is the only perfect form of motion. There was, moreover, the famous preface by Osiander, a Protestant who oversaw the printing of the first edition. Osiander knew that Luther and Melanchthon violently opposed any suggestion that the earth revolves around the sun. So he wrote an unsigned preface, which everyone took to be Copernicus', presenting the theory as a mere mathematical devise for charting the movements of the planets in a simpler manner than the burdensome Ptolemaic system, one that was not meant to be a definitive description of the heavens.

10. Copernicus had delayed the publication of his book for years because he feared, not the censure of the Church, but the mockery of academics. It was the hide-bound Aristotelians in the schools who offered the fiercest resistance to the new science. Aristotle was the Master of Those Who Know; perusal of his texts was regarded as almost superior to the study of nature itself.

11. Ptolemy's methodizing of Aristotle to explain the motion of the stars was part of this academic baggage. And it made perfect empirical sense; by using it, ships were able to navigate the seas and astronomers were able to predict eclipses. So why give up this time-honored system for a new, unproved cosmology which not only contradicted common sense (as no less an authority than Francis Bacon averred), but also the apparent meaning of Scripture?

12. Such was the scientific mind of Europe when Galileo burst on the scene in 1610 with his startling telescopic discoveries. Up to that point, the forty-six year-old Galileo had been interested mainly in physics, not astronomy. His most famous accomplishment had been the formulation of the laws of failing bodies. (Contrary to legend, he never dropped anything from the Tower of Pisa - if I recall my physics correctly, he rolled heavy balls of different weights down inclined planes and timed their descent) Galileo was a gifted tinkerer, and when he heard about the invention of the telescope in Holland, he immediately built one for himself, characteristically taking full credit for the invention.

13. Looking through his new spyglass, he made some discoveries which shook the foundations of the Aristotelian cosmos. First, he saw that the moon was not a perfect sphere, but pocked with mountains and valleys like the earth. Second, and more astonishing, Jupiter had at least four satellites. No longer could it be said that heavenly bodies revolve exclusively around the earth. Finally, he observed the phases of Venus, the only explanation of which is that Venus moves around the sun and not the earth.

14. The response to these discoveries ranged from enthusiastic to downright hostile. The leading Jesuit astronomer of the day, Christopher Clavius, was skeptical; but once the Roman college acquired an improved telescope, he saw for himself that Galileo was right about Jupiter's moons, and the Jesuits subsequently confirmed the phases of Venus. These men were not ready to jump on the Copernican bandwagon, however; they adopted as a half-way measure the system of Tycho Brahe, which had all the planets except the earth orbiting the sun. This accounted quite satisfactorily for Galileo's discoveries.

15. Still, Galileo was the man of the hour; in 1611 he made a triumphant visit to Rome, where he was feted by cardinals and granted a private audience by Pope Paul V, who assured him of his support and good will.

16. Galileo returned to Florence, where he might have been expected to continue his scientific research. But for about two decades after 1611, pure science ceased to be his main concern. Instead, he became obsessed with converting public opinion to the Copernican system. All of Europe, starting with the Church, had to buy into Copernicus.

17. This crusade would never have ended in the offices of the Inquisition had Galileo possessed a modicum of discretion, not to mention charity. But he was not a tactful person; he loved to score off people and make them look ridiculous. And he would make no allowance for human nature, which does not easily shuck off an old cosmology to embrace a new one which seems to contradict both sense and tradition.

18. The irony is that when Galileo started his campaign, he enjoyed almost universal good will among the Catholic hierarchy. But he managed to alienate almost everybody with his caustic manner and aggressive tactics. His position gave the Church authorities no room to maneuver: they either had to accept Copernicanism as a fact (even though it had not been proved) and reinterpret Scripture accordingly; or they had to condemn it. He refused the reasonable third position which the Church offered him: that Copernicanism might be considered a hypothesis, one even superior to the Ptolemiaic system, until further proof could be adduced.

19. Galileo faced 2 problems as far as proof of his pet theory was concerned: (1) He could not even answer the strongest argument against it, which was advanced by Aristotle. If the earth did orbit the sun, the philosopher wrote, then stellar parallaxes would be observable in the sky. In other words, there would be a shift in the position of a star observed from the earth on one side of the sun, and then six months later from the other side. Galileo was not able with the best of his telescopes to discern the slightest stellar parallax. This was a valid scientific objection, and it was not answered until 1838, when Friedrich Bessel succeeded in determining the parallax of star 61 Cygni; and (2) Galileo insisted, despite the discoveries of Kepler, that the planets orbit the sun in perfect circles. The Jesuit astronomers could plainly see that this was untenable.

20. Galileo nonetheless launched his campaign with a series of pamphlets and letters which were circulated all over Europe. Along the way, he picked fights with a number of Churchmen on peripheral issues which helped to stack the deck against him. And, despite the warnings of his friends in Rome, he insisted on moving the debate onto theological grounds.

21. There is no question that if the debate over heliocentricism had remained purely scientific, it would have been shrugged off by the Church authorities. But in 1614, Galileo felt that he had to answer the objection that the new science contradicted certain passages of Scripture. There was, for example, Joshua's command that the sun stand still. Why would Joshua do that if, as Galileo asserted, the sun didn't move at all? Then there were Psalms 92 ("He has made the world firm, not to be moved.") and 103 ("You fixed the earth upon its foundation, not to be moved forever."), not to mention the famous verse in Ecclesiastes.

22. Galileo addressed this problem in his famous Letter to Castelli. In its approach to biblical exegesis, the letter ironically anticipates Leo XIII's encyclical, Providentissimus Deus (1893), which pointed out that Scripture often makes use of figurative language and is not meant to teach science. Galileo accepted the inerrancy of Scripture; but he was also mindful of Cardinal Baronius's quip that the Bible "is intended to teach us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go." And he pointed out correctly that both St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas taught that the sacred writers in no way meant to teach a system of astronomy. St. Augustine wrote that: "One does not read in the Gospel that the Lord said: I will send you the Paraclete who will teach you about the course of the sun and moon. For He willed to make them Christians, not mathematicians."

23. Unfortunately, there are still today Biblical fundamentalists, both Protestant and Catholic, who do not understand this simple point: the Bible is not a scientific treatise. When Christ said that the mustard seed was the smallest of seeds (and it is about the size of a speck of dust), he was not laying down a principle of botany. In fact, botanists tell us that there are smaller seeds. He was simply talking to the men of his time in their own language, and with reference to their own experience. Hence the warning of Pius XII in Divino Afflante Spiritu (1943) that the true sense of a Biblical passage is not always obvious, as the sacred writers made full use of the idioms of their time and place.

24. But in 1616, the year of Galileo's first "trial," the Church having just been through the bruising battles of the Reformation (one major bone of contention being the private interpretation of Scripture!), Catholic theologians were in no mood to entertain hermeneutical injunctions from a layman like Galileo. His friend Archbishop Piero Dini warned him that he could write freely so long as he "kept out of the sacristy."

25. In December, 1614, a meddlesome and ambitious Dominican priest, Thomas Caccini, preached a fiery sermon in Florence denouncing Copernicanism and science in general as contrary to Christian faith. The attack was clearly aimed at Galileo, and a written apology from a Preacher-General of the Dominicans did not take the edge off Galileo's displeasure at having been the target of a Sunday homily.

26. About a month later, another Domincan, Father Niccolo Lorini, read a copy of Galileo's Letter to Castelli and was disturbed to find that Galileo had taken it upon himself to interpret Scripture according to his private lights. He sent a copy to the Inquisition in Rome--one, moreover, which had been tampered with to make Galileo's words more alarming than they actually were. The Consultor of the Holy Office (or Inquisition) nevertheless found no serious objections to the letter and the case was dismissed. A month later, Caccini appeared in Rome uninvited, begging the Holy Office to testify against Galileo. The judges of the Inquisition did not buy his story, and the case against Galileo was again dropped.

27. But the Letter to 'Castelli. and Caccini's testimony were on the files of the Inquisition, and Rome was buzzing with rumours that the Church was going to condemn both Galileo and Copernicanism. Galileo's friends in the hierarchy, including Cardinal Barberini, the future Urban VIII, warned him not to force the issue. But Galileo only intensified his campaign to get the Church to accept Copernicanism as an irrefutable truth.

28. At this point, one of the great saints of the day, Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, entered the drama. Bellarmine was one of the most important theologians of the Catholic Reformation. He was an expansive, gentle man who possessed the sort of meekness and good humor that is the product of a lifetime of ascetical struggle. As Consultor of the Holy Office and Master of Controversial Questions, he was unwillingly drawn into the Copernical controversy. In April 1615, he wrote a letter which amounted to an unofficial statement of the Church's position. He pointed out that: (1) it was perfectly acceptable to maintain Copernicanism as a working hypothesis; and (2) if there were "real proof" that the earth circles around the sun, "then we should have to proceed with great circumspection in explaining passages of Scripture which appear to teach the contrary......"

29. Bellarmine, in effect, challenged Galileo to prove his theory or stop pestering the Church. Galileo's response was to produce his theory of the tides, which purported to show that the tides are caused by the rotation of the earth. Even some of Galileo's supporters could see that this was patent nonsense.

30. Determined to have a showdown, however, Galileo came to Rome to confront Pope Paul V. The Pope, exasperated by all this fuss about the planets, referred the matter to the Holy Office. The Qualifiers (i.e., theological experts) of the Holy Office soon issued an opinion that the Copernican doctrine is "foolish and absurd, philosophically and formally heretical inasmuch as it expressly contradicts the doctrine of Holy Scripture in many passages...

31. This verdict was fortunately overruled under pressure of more cautious Cardinals and was not published until 1633, when Galileo forced a second showdown. A milder decree, which did not include the word "heresy", was issued and Galileo was summoned before the Holy Office. For that day, February 26, 1616, a report was put into the files of the Holy Office which states that Galileo was told to relinquish Copernicanism and commanded "to abstain altogether from teaching or defending this opinion and doctrine, and even from discussing it."

32. There is a still unresolved controversy over whether this document is genuine, or was forged and slipped into the files by some unscrupulous curial official. At Galileo's request, Bellarmine gave him a certificate which simply forbade him to "hold or defend" the theory. When, sixteen years later, Galileo wrote his famous Dialogue on the Two Great World Systems, he technically did not violate Bellarmine's injunction. But he did violate the command recorded in the controversial minute, of which he was completely unaware and which was used against him at the second trial in 1633.

33. At this point, I wish to highlight the following facts:

a. The question of geocentricity/heliocentricity belongs to the realm of science, not faith and morals. Following Ambrose, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and (closer to our time) Leo XIII and Pius XII, we must understand that the Scriptures are not primarily interested in teaching science as conveying God's message for salvation. This is not to say that the Bible contains mistakes or errors - it most certainly IS * inerrant *. However, the Bible uses expressions and idioms proper to the author and his time, without intending primarily to convey a scientific truth. For example, even today, we say that "the sun rises... the sun sets", even though (technically speaking) it is the earth revolving around the sun and not the other way round. We say things like: "I am standing still", but (scientifically speaking) nobody can be "still" as we are hurtling through space on planet Earth at tremendous speeds. We talk of "live and instantaneous" transmissions of radio/TV programmes, but we know from science that, even travelling at the speed of light, these signals take some time to be transmitted and received by our radios/TVs, and that some more time is required before the sounds/images are registered and the information makes its way (via our eyes and ears) to our brains. In short, we usually speak without the exactitude and precision of scientists (even then, I'm willing to bet that even scientists say things like: "The sun rises/sets... I am standing still... this is a 'live' transmission... etc.").

b. Most Christians at the time accepted geocentricity as a matter of course, but such belief does not form part of the Deposit of Faith, not having been defined by any Pope ex cathedra or any Ecumenical Council, or even taught by the Ordinary Magisterium.

34. Let's come back to Galileo's case. This second trial was again the result of Galileo's tactless importunity. When, in the 1623, Galileo's friend and supporter Cardinal Barberini was elected Pope Urban VIII, Galileo naturally thought that he could get the decree of 1616 lifted.

35. Urban gave several private audiences to Galileo, during which they discussed the Copernican theory. At one audience, he told Galileo that the Church did not define Copernicanism as heretical and would never do so. But at the same time, he opined that all this quibbling about the planets did not touch on reality: only God could know how the solar system is really disposed.

36. As a scientist, Galileo was perfectly correct in rejecting this half baked philosophizing. But he grossly miscalculated Urban's tolerance by writing the great Dialogue. There he not only made it clear that he considered the defenders of Aristotle and Ptolemy to be intellectual clowns, but he made Simplicio, one of the chief interlocuters of the dialogue, into a silly mouthpiece for Urban's views on cosmology. Galileo was mocking the very person he needed as his protector, a pope whose hubris did not take such barbs with equanimity. At the same time, Galileo alienated the Jesuit order with his violent attacks on one of its astronomers, Horatio Grassi, over the nature of comets (and, in fact, the Jesuit was right--comets are not exhalations of the atmosphere, as Galileo supposed.)

37. The result of these ill-advised tactics was the famous second trial, which is still celebrated in song and myth as the final parting of ways between faith and science. Galileo, an old sick man, was summoned before the Inquisition in Rome. In vain he argued that he was never shown the document which, unbeknownst to him and Cardinal Bellarmine, had been slipped into the file in 1616 forbidding him to even to discuss heliocentricism.

38. Contrary to popular accounts, Galileo did not abjure the theory under threat of torture. Both he and the Inquisitors knew that the threat of torture was pure formality. Galileo was, in fact, treated with great consideration. Against all precedent, he was housed with a personal valet in a luxurious apartment overlooking the Vatican gardens.

39. As for the trial itself, given the evidence and the apparent injunction of 1616, it was by the standards of 17th century Europe extremely fair. The historian Giorgio de Santillana, who is not disposed toward the Church's side, writes that "we must, if anything, admire the cautiousness and legal scruples of the Roman authorities" in a period when thousands of "witches" and other religous deviants were subjected to juridical murder in [the predominantely Protestant areas of] northern Europe and New England.

40. Galileo was finally condemned by the Holy Office as "vehemently suspected of heresy." The choice of words was debatable, as Copernicanism had never been declared heretical by either the ordinary or extraordinary Magisterium of the Church. In any event, Galileo was sentenced to abjure the theory and to keep silent on the subject for the rest of his life, which he was permitted to spend in a pleasant country house near Florence. As the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead wrote, "In a generation which saw the Thirty Years' War and remembered Alva in the Netherlands, the worst that happened to men of science was that Galileo suffered an honorable detention and a mild reproof, before dying peacefully in his bed." And it is notable that three of the ten Cardinals who sat on the Commission did not sign the judgment, although we do not know their precise motives for abstaining.

41. Galileo's condemnation was certainly unjust, but in no way impugns the infallibility of Catholic dogma. Heliocentricism was never declared a heresy by either ex cathedra pronouncement or an ecumenical council. And as the Pontifical Commission points out, the sentence of 1633 was not irreformable. Galileo's works were eventually removed from the Index and in 1822, at the behest of Pius VII, the Holy Office granted an imprimatur to the work of Canon Settele, in which Copernicanism was presented as a physical fact and no longer as an hypothesis.

42. Remember that decisions of the Holy Office are _not_ in any way equivalent to the pronouncements of the Pope ex cathedra or an Ecumenical Council (a gathering of Bishops in union with the Pope, like the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15). A * disciplinary * sentence was meted out - and, as admitted above, the sentence may have been too harsh or hasty, but it is (at the end of the day) not touching on the question of Church or papal infalliblity at all! If the complaint is one of * fairness *, it must be recalled that Galileo himself was not wholly innocent in his conduct, and that the 2nd trial was not unduly or overwhelmingly unjust towards him. Anyway, the unfairness or injustice of a * disciplinary * decision has got nothing to do with * infallibility *.

OK, I think I'd better stop for now. This has taken longer than I thought it would. I look forward to your reply. Thanx for reading, and God Bless!




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