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.


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.

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


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.

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. 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 [3] (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, [4] 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) [5]

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.

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, [6] 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).

Apostolic succession

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. [7] The Catholic Church currently considers these the successors of Peter, whom they consider the first pope, and through whom following popes would claim authority. [8]

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). [9] 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). [10]

Ante-Nicean period

Francis A. Sullivan "expressed agreement with the consensus of scholars that available evidence indicates that the church of Rome was led by a college of presbyters, rather than a single bishop, for at least several decades of the second century." [11] A Church hierarchy seems to have developed by the late 1st century and early 2nd century. Robert Williams says that the "origin and earliest development of episcopacy and monepiscopacy and the ecclesiastical concept of (apostolic) succession were associated with crisis situations in the early church." [12]

This development was one response to the problem of church unity. Thus, the solution to division arising from heterodox teaching was the development of more standardized structures of ministry. One of these structures is the tri-partite form of church leadership consisting of episkopoi (overseers); presbyteroi (elders), as was the case with Jewish communities; and diakonoi (ministerial servants). Presbyters were ordained and assisted the bishop; as Christianity spread, especially in rural areas, the presbyters exercised more responsibilities and took distinctive shape as priests. Deacons also performed certain duties, such as tending to the poor and sick. The Didache , dating from AD 70 to 140, [13] states "Appoint for yourselves therefore bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord". [14]

Ignatius of Antioch urged churches to adopt this structure, emphasizes unity, obedience, and the hierarchical relationship among the faithful and between the bishop and God. In the 2nd century this structure was supported by teaching on apostolic succession, where a bishop becomes the spiritual successor of the previous bishop in a line tracing back to the apostles themselves. Over the course of the second century, this organizational structure became universal and continues to be used in the Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican churches as well as in some Protestant denominations. [15]

Further elements of the hierarchical relationship are mentioned by St. Clement of Alexandria. In his Stromateis, he 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". [16]

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

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) [17]

Stephen I

In the aftermath of the Decian persecution there were disagreements regarding how to deal with those who had lapsed; whether and under what conditions might they be readmitted to the Christian community. At the behest of Faustinus of Lyon and other bishops of Gaul, Cyprian of Carthage wrote Pope Stephen I (254-257) asking him to instruct the bishops of Gaul to condemn Marcianus of Arles, (who refused to admit those who repented) and to elect another bishop in his stead. [18] In 250, St. Cyprian and St. Firmilian both wrote of the Bishop of Rome as successor of Peter, and the latter mentions how the Bishop of Rome decreed policy for other regions based on this succession. [19]

Damasus I

In 376, Jerome was living as an ascetic in the desert of Chalcis, south-west of Antioch. Pope Damasus I had asked him to make a new translation of scripture. At that there were rival claimants for the See of Antioch, and Jerome wrote Pope Damasus I to ask who was the true bishop of the three claimants of the see of Antioch, and for clarification of a doctrinal issue:

Yet, though your greatness terrifies me, your kindness attracts me. From the priest I demand the safe-keeping of the victim, from the shepherd the protection due to the sheep... My words are spoken to the successor of the fisherman, to the disciple of the cross. As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is with the chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the church is built! This is the house where alone the paschal lamb can be rightly eaten. This is the ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails. But since by reason of my sins I have betaken myself to this desert which lies between Syria and the uncivilized waste, I cannot, owing to the great distance between us, always ask of your sanctity the holy thing of the Lord... He that gathers not with you scatters; he that is not of Christ is of Antichrist. [20]

In 382 Jerome accompanied one of the claimants, Paulinus II of Antioch, to Rome, where Pope Damasus I (366-384) had convened a council to determine a canonical list of scripture. (Jerome then served as confidential secretary to the Pope for the next three years before heading to Bethlehem.)

After the Edict of Milan


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). [21] 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." [22] "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". [23]

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. [24]

First Council of Constantinople

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

The event that is often considered to have been the first conflict between Rome and Constantinople was triggered by the elevation of the see of Constantinople to a position of honour, second only to Rome on the grounds that, as capital of the eastern Roman empire, it was now the "New Rome". [25] This was promulgated in the First Council of Constantinople (381) canon 3 which decreed: "The Bishop of Constantinople, however, shall have the prerogative of honour after the Bishop of Rome because Constantinople is New Rome." [26] At the Council of Rome, a synod held in the following year, 382, Pope Damasus I protested against this raising of the bishop of the new imperial capital, just fifty years old, to a status higher than that of the bishops of Alexandria and Antioch. [27] In opposition to this view, Francis Dvornik asserts that not only did Damasus offer "no protest against the elevation of Constantinople", that change in the primacy of the major sees was effected in an "altogether friendly atmosphere". According to Dvornik, "Everyone continued to regard the Bishop of Rome as the first bishop of the Empire, and the head of the church." [28] Thomas Shahan says that, according to Photius, Pope Damasus approved the council of Constantinople, but he adds that, if any part of the council were approved by this pope, it could have been only its revision of the Nicene Creed, as was the case also when Gregory the Great recognized it as one of the four general councils, but only in its dogmatic utterances. [29]

The first documented use of the description of Saint Peter as first bishop of Rome, rather than as the apostle who commissioned its first bishop, dates from 354, and the phrase "the Apostolic See", which refers to the same apostle, began to be used exclusively of the see of Rome, a usage found also in the Acts of the Council of Chalcedon. From the time of Pope Damasus, the text of Matthew 16:18 ("You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church") is used to support Roman primacy.

Pope Innocent I (401–417) claimed that all major cases should be reserved to the see of Rome and wrote: "All must preserve that which Peter the prince of the apostles delivered to the church at Rome and which it has watched over until now, and nothing may be added or introduced that lacks this authority or that derives its pattern from somewhere else." [30] Pope Boniface I (418–422) stated that the church of Rome stood to the churches throughout the world "as the head to the members", [27] a statement that was repeated by the delegates of Pope Leo I to the Council of Chalcedon in 451. [lower-alpha 1]

Relationship with bishops of other cities

The increasing involvement of Eastern emperors in church matters and the advancement of the see of Constantinople over the sees of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem led successive bishops of Rome to attempt a sharper definition of their ecclesial position vis-a-vis the other bishops. [32] 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") [33] 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.

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. [34]

Leo I

In line with the norm of Roman law that a person's legal rights and duties passed to his heir, Pope Leo (440–461) taught that he, as Peter's representative, succeeded to the power and authority of Peter, and he implied that it was through Peter that the other apostles received from Christ strength and stability. [35] Pope Gelasius I (492–496) stated: "The see of blessed Peter the Apostle has the right to unbind what has been bound by sentences of any pontiffs whatever, in that it has the right to judge the whole church. Neither is it lawful for anyone to judge its judgment, seeing that canons have willed that it might be appealed to from any part of the world, but that no one may be allowed to appeal from it." [36]

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. [37]

Factors furthering the east–west split included the Western adoption of the filioque with the Roman Church's unilateral acceptance of it without approval of an Ecumenical council, and the pope's usage of a forged document, the so-called 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. [38] 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.


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" (that is, a group including Christians who did not belong in a visible way to the Roman Catholic Church) and eventually 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 persons in Europe broke away from the Roman Catholic Church and formed various other Christian denominations.

The Catholic Church in England, by act of Parliament, also legally broke away from the Roman Catholic Church at this time, both for political reasons and theological principles. Christianity had been in England since the Roman military occupation, originally predating claims of primacy of the bishop of Rome that centuries later had come to be accepted in England. King Henry VIII and his parliaments rejected tout court the juridical primacy of the bishop of Rome and his papal successors in favour of a royal supremacy, which reached its final refinement during the reign of his daughter Elizabeth I.

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. [39]

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." [40]

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," [41]

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. [42] 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". [43] 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". [44] 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. [45] [46]

See also


  1. "Paschasinus, the most reverend bishop and legate of the Apostolic See, stood up in the midst with his most reverend colleagues and said: We received directions at the hands of the most blessed and apostolic bishop of the Roman city, which is the head of all the churches, ..." [31]


  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. Pennington, p. 2
  4. Duffy, ch. 1
  5. "Papal Primacy". Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
  6. Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Tertullian"  . Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  7. 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
  8. Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "The List of Popes"  . Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  9. Schimmelpfennig, p. 27
  10. Schimmelpfennig, p. 39
  11. Sullivan, Francis A. (2001). From apostles to bishops : the development of the episcopacy in the early church. New York: Newman Press. pp. 221, 222. ISBN   978-0809105342 . Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  12. Williams, Robert Lee (2005). Bishop Lists: Formation of Apostolic Succession of Bishops in Ecclesiastical Crises. Gorgias Press LLC. p. 6. ISBN   978-1-59333-194-8 . Retrieved 28 October 2012.
  13. Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Didache"  . Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  14. "Early Christian Writings: The Didache (§15)".
  15. Haight, Roger D. (16 September 2004). Christian Community in History Volume 1: Historical Ecclesiology. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 83–84. ISBN   978-0-8264-1630-8 . Retrieved 26 October 2012.
  16. Clement of Alexandria. "Stromateis" . Retrieved 2009-01-24.
  17. Fr. Nicholas Afanassieff (1992). "4". The Primacy of Peter. pp. 26–127.
  18. Mann, Horace. "Pope St. Stephen I." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 11 February 2020 PD-icon.svgThis article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  19. George Joyce. "The Pope". Catholic Encyclopedia.PD-icon.svgThis article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  20. "Letter of Jerome to Pope Damasus", 376, The Nicene Fathers (Schaff & Wace, ed.) T.&T. Clark, Edinburgh
  21. Schimmelpfennig, p. 47
  22. (Jurgens §1242)
  23. D'Aubigne, Book I, p. 81.
  24. Dvornik 1966, p.47.
  25. Council Of Chalcedon, c. 3.
  26. 1 2 Nichols 2010, pp. 202–203.
  27. Dvornik 1966, p. 47: "Pope Damasus offered no protest against the elevation of Constantinople, even though Alexandria had always been, in the past, in close contact with Rome... Everyone continued to regard the Bishop of Rome as the first bishop of the Empire, and the head of the church."
  28. Shahan 1908.
  29. Nichols 1997, p. 113.
  30. Council Of Chalcedon, par. 1.
  31. Nichols 2010, p. 203.
  32. "Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smyrnaeans 8". New Advent.
  33. La Due, William J., "The Chair of Saint Peter", pp.300-301, Orbis Books (Maryknoll, NY; 1999)
  34. Nichols 1997, p. 114.
  35. Nichols 1997, p. 116.
  36. Thompson, Ernest T. (1965). Through The Ages: A History Of The Christian Church. The CLC Press.
  37. Wetterau, Bruce. World history. New York: Henry Holt and company. 1994.
  38. "Vatican I And The Papal Primacy".
  39. 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.
  40. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
  41. 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
  42. cf. Catechism, nos. 894-95
  43. Lumen gentium, 22
  44. "The Pope and Infallibility". Catholic Exchange. 2005-05-31. Retrieved 2018-10-12.
  45. "Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary". Franciscan Media. 2016-08-15. Retrieved 2018-10-12.


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The First Vatican Council was convoked by Pope Pius IX on 29 June 1868, after a period of planning and preparation that began on 6 December 1864. This, the twentieth ecumenical council of the Catholic Church, held three centuries after the Council of Trent, opened on 8 December 1869 and adjourned on 20 October 1870. Unlike the five earlier general councils held in Rome, which met in the Lateran Basilica and are known as Lateran councils, it met in the Vatican Basilica, hence its name. Its best-known decision is its definition of papal infallibility.

First Council of Constantinople synod

The First Council of Constantinople was a council of Christian bishops convened in Constantinople in AD 381 by the Roman Emperor Theodosius I. This second ecumenical council, an effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom, except for the Western Church, confirmed the Nicene Creed, expanding the doctrine thereof to produce the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, and dealt with sundry other matters. It met from May to July 381 in the Church of Hagia Irene and was affirmed as ecumenical in 451 at the Council of Chalcedon.

Pope Leader of the Catholic Church

The Pope, also known as the Supreme Pontiff, or the Roman Pontiff, is the Bishop of Rome, leader of the worldwide Catholic Church, and head of state representing the Holy See. Since 1929, the pope has official residence in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican City, the Holy See's city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy. The current pope is Francis, who was elected on 13 March 2013, succeeding Benedict XVI.

Ultramontanism Clerical political conception within the Catholic Church

Ultramontanism is a clerical political conception within the Catholic Church that places strong emphasis on the prerogatives and powers of the Pope.

Patriarchate is an ecclesiological term in Christianity, designating the office and jurisdiction of an ecclesiastical patriarch.

Patriarch of Antioch is a traditional title held by the bishop of Antioch. As the traditional "overseer" of the first gentile Christian community, the position has been of prime importance in the church from its earliest period. This diocese is one of the few for which the names of its bishops from the apostolic beginnings have been preserved. Today five churches use the title of patriarch of Antioch: the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, the Syriac Catholic Church, the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, and the Maronite Church. Historically, there has also been a Latin patriarch of Antioch.

An apostolic see is an episcopal see whose foundation is attributed to one or more of the apostles of Jesus or to one of their close associates. In Catholicism the phrase, preceded by the definite article and usually capitalized, refers to the See of Rome.


The magisterium of the Catholic Church is the church's authority or office to give authentic interpretation of the Word of God, "whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition." According to the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church, the task of interpretation is vested uniquely in the Pope and the bishops, though the concept has a complex history of development. Scripture and church tradition "make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God, which is entrusted to the Church", and the magisterium is not independent of this, since "all that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is derived from this single deposit of faith."

The East–West Schism, also called the Great Schism and the Schism of 1054, was the break of communion between what are now the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Churches, which has lasted since the 11th century. The Schism was the culmination of theological and political differences between the Christian East and West which had developed over the preceding centuries.

Papal primacy

Papal primacy, also known as the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, is an ecclesiastical doctrine concerning the respect and authority that is due to the Pope from other bishops and their Episcopal sees.

College of Bishops, also known as the Ordo of Bishops, is a term used in the Catholic Church to denote the collection of those bishops who are in communion with the Pope. Under Canon Law, a college is a collection of persons united together for a common object so as to form one body. The Bishop of Rome is the head of the college.

The infallibility of the Church is the belief that the Holy Spirit preserves the Christian Church from errors that would contradict its essential doctrines. It is related to, but not the same as, indefectible, that is, "she remains and will remain the Institution of Salvation, founded by Christ, until the end of the world." The doctrine of infallibility is premised on the authority Jesus granted to the apostles to "bind and loose" and particularly the promises to Peter in regard to papal infallibility.

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.

Papal supremacy Doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church that the Pope, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ and as pastor of the entire Christian Church, has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole world

Papal supremacy is the doctrine of the Catholic Church that the Pope, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ and as the visible foundation and source of unity, and as pastor of the entire Catholic Church, has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered: that, in brief, "the Pope enjoys, by divine institution, supreme, full, immediate, and universal power in the care of souls."

<i>Pastor aeternus</i>

Pastor aeternus, was issued by the First Vatican Council, July 18, 1870. The document defines four doctrines of the Catholic faith: the apostolic primacy conferred on Peter, the perpetuity of the Petrine Primacy in the Roman pontiffs, the meaning and power of the papal primacy, and Papal infallibility – infallible teaching authority (magisterium) of the Pope.

History of the East–West Schism refers to history of the East–West Schism that occurred in 1054, representing one of the most significant events in the history of Christianity. It includes various events and processes that led to the Schism, and also those events and processes that occurred as a result of the Schism. Eastern and Western Christians had a history of differences and disagreements, some dating back even to the period of Early Christianity. At the very root of what later became the Great Schism were several questions of pneumatology and ecclesiology. The most important theological difference occurred over various questions regarding the procession of the Holy Spirit, and the use of the Filioque clause in the Creed. One of the main ecclesiological issues was the question of Papal supremacy. Other points of difference were related to various liturgical, mainly ritual and disciplinary customs and practices. Some political and cultural processes also contributed to the breakout of the Schism.

Papal infallibility Dogma of the Catholic Church

Papal infallibility is a dogma of the Catholic Church that states that, in virtue of the promise of Jesus to Peter, the Pope is preserved from the possibility of error "when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church." Infallibility is, according to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, "more than a simple, de facto absence of error. It is a positive perfection, ruling out the possibility of error".

Eastern Orthodox opposition to papal supremacy Religious disagreement

The Eastern Orthodox Church is opposed to the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy. While not denying that some form of primacy could exist for the Bishop of Rome, Orthodox Christians argue that the tradition of Rome's primacy in the early Church was not equivalent to the current doctrine of supremacy.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the Catholic Church: