History of papal primacy

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The doctrines of Petrine primacy and papal primacy are perhaps the most contentiously disputed in the history of Christianity. [1] Theologians regard the doctrine of papal primacy as having developed gradually in the West due to the convergence of a number of factors, e.g., the dignity of Rome as the only apostolic see in the West; the tradition that both Peter and Paul had been martyred there; Rome's long history as a capital of the Roman Empire; and its continuing position as the chief center of commerce and communication.

Primacy of Peter

The primacy of Peter, also known as Petrine primacy, is the position of preeminence that is attributed to Saint Peter among the Twelve Apostles.

The history of Christianity concerns the Christian religion, Christendom, and the Church with its various denominations, from the 1st century to the present.

Western Christianity is a religious category composed of the Latin Church and Protestantism, together with their offshoots such as Independent Catholicism and Restorationism. The large majority of the world's 2.4 billion Christians are Western Christians. The original and still major part, the Latin Church, developed under the bishop of Rome in the former Western Roman Empire in Antiquity. Out of the Latin Church emerged a wide variety of independent Protestant denominations, including Lutheranism and Anglicanism, starting from the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, as did Independent Catholicism in the 19th century. Thus, the term "Western Christianity" does not describe a single communion or religious denomination, but is applied to distinguish all these denominations collectively from Eastern Christianity.

Contents

The doctrine of the primacy of the Roman Bishops, like other Catholic Church teachings and instructions, has gone through a development. Thus the establishment of the Primacy recorded in the Gospels has been gradually more clearly recognized and its implications developed. Clear recognition of the consciousness of the Primacy of the Roman Bishops, and of the recognition of the Primacy by the other churches appear at the end of the 1st centurySt. Ignatius elevated the Roman community over all the communities using in his epistle a solemn form of address. Twice he says of it that it is the presiding community, which expresses a relationship of superiority and inferiority.

Catholic Church Christian church led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's "oldest continuously functioning international institution", it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.

Christianity in the 1st century Christianity-related events during the 1st century

Christianity in the 1st century deals with the formative years of the Early Christian community. The earliest followers of Jesus were composed principally from apocalyptic Jewish sects during the late Second Temple period of the 1st century. They were Jewish Christians, who strictly adhered to the Jewish law. Jerusalem had an early Christian community, which was led by James the Just, Peter, and John.

Ignatius of Antioch Early Christian writer, Patriarch of Antioch and martyr saint

Ignatius of Antioch, also known as Ignatius Theophorus or Ignatius Nurono, was an early Christian writer and bishop of Antioch. En route to Rome, where he met his martyrdom, Ignatius wrote a series of letters. This correspondence now forms a central part of the later collection known as the Apostolic Fathers, of which he is considered one of the three chief ones together with Pope Clement I and Polycarp. His letters also serve as an example of early Christian theology. Important topics they address include ecclesiology, the sacraments, and the role of bishops.

Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (1960) [2]

Early Christianity

The role of the bishop

The Didache , dating from AD 70 to 140, [3] states "Appoint for yourselves therefore bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord". [4]

<i>Didache</i> early Christian treatise

The Didache, also known as The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, is a brief anonymous early Christian treatise, dated by most modern scholars to the first century. The first line of this treatise is "The teaching of the Lord to the Gentiles by the twelve apostles". The text, parts of which constitute the oldest extant written catechism, has three main sections dealing with Christian ethics, rituals such as baptism and Eucharist, and Church organization. The opening chapters describe the virtuous Way of Life and the wicked Way of Death. The Lord's Prayer is included in full. Baptism is by immersion, or by affusion if immersion is not practical. Fasting is ordered for Wednesdays and Fridays. Two primitive Eucharistic prayers are given. Church organization was at an early stage of development. Itinerant apostles and prophets are important, serving as "chief priests" and possibly celebrating the Eucharist. Meanwhile, local bishops and deacons also have authority and seem to be taking the place of the itinerant ministry. The Didache is considered the first example of the genre of Church Orders. The Didache reveals how Jewish Christians saw themselves and how they adapted their practice for Gentile Christians. The Didache is similar in several ways to the Gospel of Matthew, perhaps because both texts originated in similar communities. The opening chapters, which also appear in other early Christian texts, are likely derived from an earlier Jewish source.

St. Ignatius of Antioch spoke in "praise of unity" in a Letter to the Ephesians, saying "He, therefore, that does not assemble with the Church, has even by this manifested his pride, and condemned himself. For it is written, 'God resisteth the proud.' Let us be careful, then, not to set ourselves in opposition to the bishop, in order that we may be subject to God". [5] Stressing the relationship between the Church initiated by Jesus and the hierarchy set in motion by the apostles, Ignatius writes: "we should look upon the bishop even as we would upon the Lord Himself" (§6). Ignatius stresses the hierarchical relationship between God and the bishop more strongly to the Magnesians urging them "to yield him all reverence, having respect to the power of God the Father, ... submitting to him, or rather not to him, but to the Father of Jesus Christ, the bishop of us all". [6] In §6 he exhorts them to harmony, and in §13 urges them to "[s]tudy ... to be established in the doctrines of the Lord and the apostles, ... with your most admirable bishop...." Thus Ignatius emphasizes unity, obedience, and the hierarchical relationship among the faithful and between the bishop and God. Further elements of the hierarchical relationship are mentioned by St. Clement of Alexandria, referring to advice in the "holy books: some for presbyters, some for bishops and deacons" (Jurgens §413), and writing treatises with titles "On the Unity and Excellence of the Church" and "On the Offices of Bishops, Presbyters, Deacons, and Widows." In his Stromateis, Clement of Alexandria writes that "according to my opinion, the grades here in the Church, of bishops, presbyters, deacons, are imitations of the angelic glory, and of that economy which, the Scriptures say, awaits those who, following the footsteps of the apostles, have lived in perfection of righteousness according to the Gospel". [7]

A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight.

A hierarchy is an arrangement of items in which the items are represented as being "above", "below", or "at the same level as" one another. Hierarchy is an important concept in a wide variety of fields, such as philosophy, mathematics, computer science, organizational theory, systems theory, and the social sciences.

God the Father

God the Father is a title given to God in various religions, most prominently in Christianity. In mainstream trinitarian Christianity, God the Father is regarded as the first person of the Trinity, followed by the second person God the Son and the third person God the Holy Spirit. Since the second century, Christian creeds included affirmation of belief in "God the Father (Almighty)", primarily as his capacity as "Father and creator of the universe". However, in Christianity the concept of God as the father of Jesus Christ goes metaphysically further than the concept of God as the Creator and father of all people, as indicated in the Apostle's Creed where the expression of belief in the "Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth" is immediately, but separately followed by in "Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord", thus expressing both senses of fatherhood.

Apostolic succession

Pope Clement I wrote about the order with which Jesus commanded the affairs of the Church be conducted. The liturgies are "to be celebrated, and not carelessly nor in disorder," and the selection of persons was also "by His supreme will determined" (see Letter of Clement to the Corinthians, ch. 40). Clement emphasized that the relationship between God, Jesus, the apostles, and the orders given to the apostles, are "made in an orderly way". Jurgens states that Clement cites Isaiah 60:17 which in some translations includes "I will make thy visitation peace, and thy overseers justice" (emphasis added). In chapter 43 of the cited "Letter" Clement refers to the way "rivalry ... concerning the priesthood" was resolved by or through Moses, and in chapter 44, that likewise, the apostles "gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry."

Pope Clement I 4th Pope of the Catholic Church

Pope Clement I, also known as Saint Clement of Rome, is listed by Irenaeus and Tertullian as Bishop of Rome, holding office from 88 to his death in 99. He is considered to be the first Apostolic Father of the Church, one of the three chief ones together with Polycarp and Ignatius of Antioch.

Jesus Central figure of Christianity

Jesus, also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity, and is widely described as the most influential person in history. Most Christians believe he is the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited Messiah (Christ) prophesied in the Old Testament.

Liturgy is the customary public worship performed by a religious group. As a religious phenomenon, liturgy represents a communal response to and participation in the sacred through activity reflecting praise, thanksgiving, supplication or repentance. It forms a basis for establishing a relationship with a divine agency, as well as with other participants in the liturgy.

In Roman Catholic theology, the doctrine of apostolic succession states that Christ gave the full sacramental authority of the church to the Twelve Apostles in the sacrament of Holy Orders, making them the first bishops. By conferring the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders on the apostles, they were given the authority to confer the sacrament of Holy Orders on others, thus consecrating more bishops in a direct lineage that can trace its origin back to the Twelve Apostles and Christ himself. This direct succession of bishops from the apostles to the present day bishops is referred to as apostolic succession. The Roman Catholic Church also holds that within the College of Apostles, Peter was picked out for the unique role of leadership and to serve as the source of unity among the apostles, a role among the bishops and within the church inherited by the pope as Peter's successor today.

Apostolic succession the method whereby the ministry of the Christian Church is held to be derived from the apostles by a continuous succession

Apostolic succession is the method whereby the ministry of the Christian Church is held to be derived from the apostles by a continuous succession, which has usually been associated with a claim that the succession is through a series of bishops. This series was seen originally as that of the bishops of a particular see founded by one or more of the apostles. According to historian Justo L. González, apostolic succession is generally understood today as meaning a series of bishops, regardless of see, each consecrated by other bishops, themselves consecrated similarly in a succession going back to the apostles. According to the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, "apostolic succession" means more than a mere transmission of powers. It is succession in a Church which witnesses to the apostolic faith, in communion with the other Churches, witnesses of the same apostolic faith. The "see (cathedra) plays an important role in inserting the bishop into the heart of ecclesial apostolicity", but, once ordained, the bishop becomes in his Church the guarantor of apostolicity and becomes a successor of the apostles.

Rome's role as arbiter

This passage in Irenaeus [from Against Heresies 3:4:1] illuminates the meaning of his remarks about the Church of Rome: if there are disputes in a local church, that church should have recourse to the Roman Church, for there is contained the Tradition which is preserved by all the churches. Rome's vocation [in the pre-Nicene period] consisted in playing the part of arbiter, settling contentious issues by witnessing to the truth or falsity of whatever doctrine was put before them. Rome was truly the center where all converged if they wanted their doctrine to be accepted by the conscience of the Church. They could not count upon success except on one condition -- that the Church of Rome had received their doctrine -- and refusal from Rome predetermined the attitude the other churches would adopt. There are numerous cases of this recourse to Rome...

Fr. Nicholas Afanassieff, The Primacy of Peter (c. 1992) [8]

Callixtus I

Pope Callixtus I reduced the number of mortal sins barring an applicant or member from the congregation, while at the same time asserting his right to the general absolution of those sins. To establish such procedures he appealed to the cathedra of the Roman Church and to Scripture (Mark 13:29), that God will separate the wheat from the chaff.

Cornelius

Pope Cornelius gave a detailed accounting of the structure of the Church at the time he was pope, and enquired in a seemingly rhetorical way, "[He], then, did not know that there must be one bishop in the Catholic Church. Yet he was not unaware how could he be? that in it there are ..." and thence follows the accounting. [9] This came about because Novatian had allegedly made himself antipope; Cornelius was emphasizing the perceived need for recognition of one bishop, one head of the Church. [10]

Stephen I

The first bishop to claim primacy in writing was Pope Stephen I (254-257). The timing of the claim is significant, for it was made during the worst of the tumults of the 3rd century. There were several persecutions during this century, and they hit the Church of Rome hard.

Damasus I

Pope Damasus I (366-384) was first to claim that Rome's primacy rested solely on Peter, and was the first pope recorded to have referred to the Roman church as "the Apostolic See". The prestige of the city itself was no longer sufficient; but in the doctrine of apostolic succession the popes had an unassailable position.

Peter and Paul

Irenaeus compiled a list of papal succession, including the immediate successors of Peter and Paul Saint Irenaeus.jpg
Irenaeus compiled a list of papal succession, including the immediate successors of Peter and Paul

In the 2nd century (AD 189), the assertion of the primacy of the Church of Rome may be indicated in St. Irenaeus of Lyon's Against Heresies (3:3:2): "With [the Church of Rome], because of its superior origin, all the churches must agree... and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition."

Irenaeus compiled a list of succession of the bishops of Rome, including the immediate successors of Peter and Paul: Linus, Anacleutus, Clement, Evaristus, Alexander, and Sixtus. [11] The Catholic Church currently considers these the successors of Peter, whom they consider the first pope, and through whom following popes would claim authority. [12]

The evolution of earlier tradition established both Peter and Paul as the forefathers of the bishops of Rome, from whom they received their position as chief shepherd (Peter) and supreme authority on doctrine (Paul). [13] To establish her primacy among the churches of the Western half of the empire, the bishops of Rome relied on a letter written in 416 by Innocent I to the Bishop of Gubbio, to show how subordination to Rome had been established. Since Peter was the only apostle (no mention of Paul) to have worked in the West, thus the only persons to have established churches in Italy, Spain, Gaul, Sicily, Africa, and the Western islands were bishops appointed by Peter or his successors. This being the case then, all congregations had to abide by the regulations set in Rome). [14]

This claim to primacy may have been accepted in Italy, but was not so readily accepted in the rest of the West.

Primacy of Peter the apostle

According to numerous records of the early Church Fathers, Peter was present in Rome, was martyred there, and was the first bishop of Rome. Tradition holds that in 42 AD, Peter built a church in Rome while he was visiting Simon Magus.[ citation needed ] Dogma and traditions of the Catholic Church maintain that he served as the bishop of Rome for 25 years until 67 AD when he was martyred by Nero [15] (further information: Great Fire of Rome ). The official Catholic position, as Eamon Duffy points out in his book, Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes, is that Jesus had essentially appointed Peter as the first pope, [16] though the respectful title "pope" (meaning, "father") developed at a later time.

Roman Catholic doctrine maintains that the universal primacy of the bishop of Rome was divinely instituted by Jesus Christ. This was derived from the Petrine texts, and from the gospel accounts of Matthew (16:17‑19), Luke (22:32)and John (21:15‑17) according to the Roman tradition, they all refer not simply to the historical Peter, but to his successors to the end of time. Today, scriptural scholars of all traditions agree that we can discern in the New Testament an early tradition which attributes a special position to Peter among Christ's twelve apostles. The Church built its identity on them as witnesses, and responsibility for pastoral leadership was not restricted to Peter.[11] In Matthew 16:19, Peter is explicitly commissioned to "bind and loose"; later, in Matthew 18:18, Christ directly promises all the disciples that they will do the same. Similarly, the foundation upon which the Church is built is related to Peter in Matthew 16:16, and to the whole apostolic body elsewhere in the New Testament (cf. Eph. 2:10).

Rev. Emmanuel Clapsis, Papal Primacy (2000) [17]

The New Testament does not contain an explicit record of the transmission of Peter's leadership, nor is the transmission of apostolic authority in general very clear. As a result, the Petrine texts of the New Testament have been subjected to differing interpretations from the time of the Church Fathers on.

Pope Damasus I (366-384) was first to claim that Rome's primacy rested solely on Peter, and was the first pope to refer to the Roman church as "the Apostolic See".

Early belief in the Church is that Jesus granted Peter jurisdiction over the Church. In "Who is the Rich man that is Saved", St. Clement of Alexandria writes of "the blessed Peter, the chosen, the pre-eminent, the first of the disciples, for whom alone and Himself the Saviour paid tribute, [who] quickly seized and comprehended the saying" (Ch. 21), referring to Mk 10:28. Tertullian, [18] while examining Scriptural teachings, legal precedents, and dogma surrounding monogamy and marriage (post AD 213), says of Peter, "Monogamist I am led to presume him by consideration of the Church, which, built upon him..." ("On Monogamy", Ch. 8): his certainty that the Church is built especially upon Peter is such that he simply refers to it in the context of another discussion. In a slightly later text (AD 220) "On Modesty", Tertullian writes at length about the significance of Matthew 16:18-19, "On this rock I will build my Church" and similar, emphasizing the singular, not plural, right, and condemning "wholly changing the manifest intention of the Lord, conferring (as that intention did) this (gift) personally upon Peter" (Ch. 21). Origen (c. AD 232) wrote also of "Peter, upon whom is built the Church of Christ" (Jurgens §479a). St. Cyprian of Carthage prepared an essay discussing, inter alia, Mt. 16:18-19, titled "On the Unity of the Church" (AD 251) in which he strongly associates primacy, unity, the authority of Jesus, and Peter: "On him He builds the Church, and to him He gives the command to feed the sheep; and although He assigns a like power to all the Apostles, yet He founded a single chair, and He established by His own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity" (Jurgens §555-6). Jurgens gives Cyprian as an example of "Papal Primacy being 'implicit' in the early Church."

Role of Paul in the founding of the Church

St. Irenaeus of Lyons believed that St. Paul and St. Peter had been the founders of the Christianity in Rome where they served as bishops and appointed successors.[ citation needed ] Though not the Bishop of Rome, St. Paul was highly responsible for bringing the Christian Faith to parts of the world other than where Christ had worked His Ministry before He had ascended in Heaven: to Antioch, Ephesus, Corinth, Thessalonica, Cyprus, and Crete, in addition to Rome, where Peter had established it. According to Duffy, Paul was an important figure of Christianity, but nonetheless was "not its founder". [16]

After the Edict of Milan

After the Edict of Milan granted Christianity legal status, the church at Rome was protected and rose in importance. The church adopted the same geographical layout as the Roman Empire: geographical provinces (called "dioceses") ruled by bishops. The bishops of important cities therefore rose in power.

Decretals

The bishops of Rome sent letters which, though largely ineffectual, provided historical precedents which were used by later supporters of papal primacy. These letters were known as ‘decretals’ from at least the time of Siricius (384-399) to Leo I provided general guidelines to follow which later would become incorporated into canon law). [19] Thus it was "this attempt to implement the authority of the bishop of Rome, or at least the claim of authority, to lands outside Italy, which allows us to use the word 'pope' for bishops starting with Damasus (366-384) or Siricius."[ This quote needs a citation ] Pope Siricius declared that no bishop could take office without his knowledge. Not until Pope Symmachus would a bishop of Rome presume to bestow a pallium (woolen garment worn by a bishop) on someone outside Italy.

St. Optatus

Saint Optatus clearly believed in a "Chair of Peter", calling it a gift of the Church and saying, as summarized by Henry Wace, that "Parmenian must be aware that the episcopal chair was conferred from the beginning on Peter, the chief of the apostles, that unity might be preserved among the rest and no one apostle set up a rival." [20] "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 of all the Apostles; the one chair in which unity is maintained by all. Neither do other Apostles proceed individually on their own; and anyone who would set up another chair in opposition to that single chair would, by that very fact, be a schismatic and a sinner". [21]

Bishop of Rome becomes Rector of the whole Church

The power of the Bishop of Rome increased as the imperial power of the Emperor declined. Edicts of Emperor Theodosius II and Valentinian III proclaimed the Roman bishop "as Rector of the whole Church."[ citation needed ] The Emperor Justinian, who was living in the East in Constantinople, in the 6th century published a similar decree. These proclamations did not create the office of the pope but from the 6th century onward the Bishop of Rome's power and prestige increased so dramatically that the title of "pope" began to fit the Bishop of Rome best. [22]

First Council of Constantinople

The First Council of Constantinople (AD 381) suggested strongly that Roman primacy was already asserted[ citation needed ]. Because of the controversy of this claim, the pope did not personally attend this ecumenical council that was held in the capital of the eastern empire, rather than at Rome. It was not until 440 that Leo the Great more clearly articulated the extension of papal authority as doctrine, promulgating in edicts and in councils his right to exert "the full range of apostolic powers that Jesus had first bestowed on the apostle Peter". It was at the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451 that Leo I (through his emissaries) stated that he was "speaking with the voice of Peter". At this same Council, an attempt at compromise was made when the bishop of Constantinople was given a primacy of honour only second to that of the Bishop of Rome, because "Constantinople is the New Rome." Ironically, Roman papal authorities rejected this language since it did not clearly recognize Rome's claim to juridical authority over the other churches. [23]

Early manuscript illustration of Council of Constantinople Council of Constantinople 381 BnF MS Gr510 fol355.jpg
Early manuscript illustration of Council of Constantinople

Relationship with bishops of other cities

Rome was not the only city that could claim a special role in Christ's Church. Jerusalem had the prestige of being the city of Christ's death and resurrection, the location of the first church, and an important church council of the 1st century. Antioch was the place where Jesus' followers were first called "Christians" {7} (as well as "Catholic") [24] and, with Alexandria, was an important early center of Christian thought. It is important to note, however, that the three main apostolic sees of the early Church (i.e. Antioch, Alexandria, and Rome)[ citation needed ] were claimed an origin related to Peter, hence the term Petrine Sees. Prior to holding the position of Bishop of Rome, Peter was the Bishop of Antioch. And his disciple, St. Mark the Evangelist, founded the church in Alexandria. Constantinople became highly important after Constantine moved his capital there in 330 AD.

Leo I

The Catholic Church doctrine of the sedes apostolica (apostolic see) which states that every bishop of Rome, as Peter’s successor, possesses the full authority granted to this position. This power, then, is inviolable on the grounds that it was established by God himself and so not bound to any individual. Leo I (440-461), with the aid of Roman law, solidified this doctrine by making the bishop of Rome the legal heir of Peter. According to Leo, the apostle Peter continued to speak to the Christian community through his successors as bishop of Rome.

East–West Schism

The dispute about the authority of Roman bishops reached a climax in the year 1054, when Michael I Cerularius tried to bolster his position as the Patriarch of Constantinople, seeming to set himself up as a rival of Pope Leo IX, as the popes previously had forbidden calling Constantinople a patriarchate. The disputed ended when the pope's legate excommunicated Michael I Cerularius and, in exchange, he excommunicated the pope—who by then was already dead, due to sickness. This event resulted the separation of the Churches. [25]

The Western adoption of the filioque, and the Roman Church's acceptance of it without the necessity of an Ecumenical council, and the Pope's usage of a document, the Donation of Constantine to support his authority against the Eastern Churches.[ citation needed ]

Second Council of Lyons

The Second Council of Lyon, which was convoked to act on a pledge by Byzantine emperor Michael VIII to reunite the Eastern church with the West. [26] Wishing to end the Great Schism that divided Rome and Constantinople, Gregory X had sent an embassy to Michael VIII Palaeologus, who had reconquered Constantinople, putting an end to the remnants of the Latin Empire in the East, and he asked Latin despots in the East to curb their ambitions.

On 29 June (Feast of Peter & Paul patronal feast of popes), Gregory X celebrated a Mass in St John's Church, where both sides took part. The council declared that the Roman church possessed “the supreme and full primacy and authority over the universal Catholic Church.”

The council was seemingly a success, but did not provide a lasting solution to the schism; the Emperor was anxious to heal the schism, but the Eastern clergy proved to be obstinate. Patriarch Joseph of Constantinople abdicated, and was replaced by John Bekkos, a convert to the cause of union. In spite of a sustained campaign by Bekkos to defend the union intellectually, and vigorous and brutal repression of opponents by Michael, the vast majority of Byzantine Christians remained implacably opposed to union with the Latin "heretics". Michael's death in December 1282 put an end to the union of Lyons. His son and successor Andronicus II repudiated the union, and Bekkos was forced to abdicate, being eventually exiled and imprisoned until his death in 1297. He is to this day reviled by many in the Eastern Church as a traitor to Orthodoxy.

Reformation

The primacy of the Roman Pontiff was again challenged in 1517 when Martin Luther began preaching against several practices in the Catholic Church, including abuses involving indulgences. When Pope Leo X refused to support Luther’s position, Luther proposed an "invisible church" and called the pope the Antichrist. Luther’s rejection of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff led to the start of the Protestant Reformation, during which numerous Protestant denominations broke away from the Roman Catholic Church.

The Church of England also broke away from the Catholic Church at this time, for political reasons and driven by theological principles. The Catholic Church had been in England since the late sixth century evangelistic mission of Pope Gregory I to Britain. England's Tudor monarch Henry VIII rejected tout court the juridical primacy of the Bishop of Rome and his papal successors in favour of his own royal supremacy.

First Vatican Council

The doctrine of papal primacy was further developed in 1870 at the First Vatican Council where ultramontanism achieved victory over conciliarism with the pronouncement of papal infallibility (the ability of the pope to define dogmas free from error ex cathedra) and of papal supremacy, i.e., supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary jurisdiction of the pope.

The most substantial body of defined doctrine on the subject is found in Pastor aeternus , the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ of Vatican Council I. This document declares that "in the disposition of God the Roman church holds the preeminence of ordinary power over all the other churches". This council also affirmed the dogma of papal infallibility, deciding that the “infallibility” of the Christian community extended to the pope himself, at least when speaking on matters of faith.

Vatican I defined a twofold primacy of Peter — one in papal teaching on faith and morals (the charism of infallibility), and the other a primacy of jurisdiction involving government and discipline of the Church — submission to both being necessary to Catholic faith and salvation. [27]

Vatican I rejected the ideas that papal decrees have "no force or value unless confirmed by an order of the secular power" and that the pope’s decisions can be appealed to an ecumenical council "as to an authority higher than the Roman Pontiff."

Paul Collins argues that "(the doctrine of papal primacy as formulated by the First Vatican Council) has led to the exercise of untrammelled papal power and has become a major stumbling block in ecumenical relationships with the Orthodox (who consider the definition to be heresy) and Protestants." [28]

Forced to break off prematurely by secular political developments in 1870, Vatican I left behind it a somewhat unbalanced ecclesiology. "In theology the question of papal primacy was so much in the foreground that the Church appeared essentially as a centrally directed institution which one was dogged in defending but which only encountered one externally," [29]

Second Vatican Council

At the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) the debate on papal primacy and authority re-emerged, and in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium , the Roman Catholic Church's teaching on the authority of the pope, bishops and councils was further elaborated. [30] Vatican II sought to correct the unbalanced ecclesiology left behind by Vatican I. The result is the body of teaching about the papacy and episcopacy contained in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen gentium .

Vatican II reaffirmed everything Vatican I taught about papal primacy and infallibility, but it added important points about bishops. Bishops, it says, are not "vicars of the Roman Pontiff." Rather, in governing their local churches they are "vicars and legates of Christ". [31] Together, they form a body, a "college", whose head is the pope. This episcopal college is responsible for the well-being of the Universal Church. Here in a nutshell are the basic elements of the Council’s much-discussed communio ecclesiology, which affirms the importance of local churches and the doctrine of collegiality.

In a key passage about collegiality, Vatican II teaches: "The order of bishops is the successor to the college of the apostles in their role as teachers and pastors, and in it the apostolic college is perpetuated. Together with their head, the Supreme Pontiff, and never apart from him, they have supreme and full authority over the Universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff". [32] Much of the present discussion of papal primacy is concerned with exploring the implications of this passage.

Chapter 3 of the dogmatic constitution on the Church of Vatican Council I (Pastor aeternus) is the principal document of the Magisterium about the content and nature of the primatial power of the Roman Pontiff. Chapter 4 is a development and defining of one particular characteristic of this primatial power, namely the pope's supreme teaching authority, i.e. when the pope speaks ex cathedra he teaches the doctrine of the faith infallibly. There is general agreement that the pope has only twice exercised his authority to proclaim a dogma apart from an ecumenical council, in the case of the Immaculate Conception (1854) and of Mary's Assumption (1950). Popes Pius IX and Pius XII both consulted with the bishops around the world before pronouncing that these beliefs were infallibly held by Catholics. [33] [34]

See also

Footnotes

  1. Ray, Steve. Upon This Rock: St. Peter and the Primacy of Rome in Scripture and the Early Church. ISBN   978-0-89870-723-6. There is little in the history of the Church that has been more heatedly contested than the primacy of Peter and the See of Rome.
  2. Ott, Ludwig (1960). Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. p. 289.
  3. Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Didache"  . Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  4. "Early Christian Writings: The Didache (§15)".
  5. "Early Christian Writings: The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians (§5)".
  6. St. Ignatius of Antioch. "Letter to the Magnesians §3" . Retrieved 2009-01-24.
  7. Clement of Alexandria. "Stromateis" . Retrieved 2009-01-24.
  8. Fr. Nicholas Afanassieff (1992). "4". The Primacy of Peter. pp. 26–127.
  9. (Denziger §45, Jurgens §546a)
  10. Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Pope Cornelius"  . Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  11. Duffy, Eamon (2014), Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes (fourth (Kindle) ed.), New Haven: Yale University Press, locations 139-144, ISBN   978-0-300-11597-0
  12. Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "The List of Popes"  . Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  13. Schimmelpfennig, p. 27
  14. Schimmelpfennig, p. 39
  15. Pennington, p. 2
  16. 1 2 Duffy, ch. 1
  17. "Papal Primacy". Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
  18. Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Tertullian"  . Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  19. Schimmelpfennig, p. 47
  20. (Jurgens §1242)
  21. D'Aubigne, Book I, p. 81.
  22. La Due, William J., "The Chair of Saint Peter", pp.300-301, Orbis Books (Maryknoll, NY; 1999)
  23. "Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smyrnaeans 8". New Advent.
  24. Thompson, Ernest T. (1965). Through The Ages: A History Of The Christian Church. The CLC Press.
  25. Wetterau, Bruce. World history. New York: Henry Holt and company. 1994.
  26. "Vatican I And The Papal Primacy".
  27. Collins, Paul (1997-10-24). "Stress on papal primacy led to exaggerated clout for a pope among equals". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 2009-01-20.
  28. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
  29. Duffy, Eamon (2014), Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes (fourth (Kindle) ed.), New Haven: Yale University Press, locations 6590-6592, ISBN   978-0-300-11597-0
  30. cf. Catechism, nos. 894-95
  31. Lumen gentium, 22
  32. "The Pope and Infallibility". Catholic Exchange. 2005-05-31. Retrieved 2018-10-12.
  33. "Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary". Franciscan Media. 2016-08-15. Retrieved 2018-10-12.

Sources

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