Yes, St. Augustine Really Did Mean “Roma Locuta, Causa Finita Est”


Those who take any means available to undermine the Papal claims will rightly point their finger at the text of what St. Augustine actually said, and come out with the following:

For already two councils have, in this cause, sent letters to the Apostolic See, whence also rescripts have come back. The cause is ended: would that the error might some day end! Therefore we admonish so that they may take notice, we teach so that they may be instructed, we pray so that their way be changed.” (Sermon 131)

But it truly gets them nowhere since what is meant by St. Augustine here is substantially equal with the oft cited mis-quotation in the title . And it is relatively easy to demonstrate.

(1) The two councils which had been held in Northwest Africa (Mileve/Carthage) had sent reports to the Apostolic See in order to procure a universal condemnation of the error of Pelagius. This is proven by one of St. Augustine’s letters which provides an often overlooked detail, one which prompted the actual reports to Rome: “After a letter had reached us from the East, quite openly pushing the [Pelagian] heresy, it was now quite our340px-simone_martini_003 duty not to fail the Church in any way, by any episcopal authority whatever; accordingly reports were sent on this matter from two councils, those of Carthage and Mileve, to the apostolic see...” (Epistle 186). One of the aims of this reporting to Rome was to confront the *Eastern* embrace of Pelagius, as well. Thus, this was no Western phenomena… at least for the Africans. Nor was it purely Eastern for the Pope himself, Saint Innocent I, called as such in modern Chalcedonian-Orthodox parlance; for in one of his rescripts to the African synods, he writes: “I congratulate you, therefore, dearest brothers, that you directed a letter to us by our brother and fellow bishop Julius, and that while caring for the churches which you rule, you also show your concern for the advantage of all, and that you ask for a decision which may benefit all the churches of the world together” (P.L. 33. 780). So we see that both the Pope and those reporting to him were of the belief that this exchange would output a judgment of universal value, for both East & West. This adds character to the “finita” that St. Augustine speaks of.

(2) It must be asked just why these African councils would report to Rome in order to confute this heresy on an ecumenical front. Was it merely due to the fact that the Roman “Patriarch” (a term not used by this time) was the obvious hierarch to funnel the occasion to? More specifically, what would Rome’s judgment add to what had already been decided, and how could its judgment yield the definitive character already spoken of? The African councils say for themselves. From the Council of Carthage, the bishops write, “This act, lord brother, we thought right to intimate to your holy charity, in order that to the statutes of our mediocrity might be added the authority of the apostolic see to protect the safety of many, and to correct the perversity of some” (P.L. 33.759). Again, here we see the intention of achieving an ecumenical judgment, especially since the aim was to invalidate the exoneration of Pelagianism received in the East at the Synod of Diospolis. But what would be superior in Rome’s teaching authority that could be added to the authority of African councils? Would it not be, according to some, just another local decision, that of Rome’s local synod? This would merely turn the game from 2 councils vs. Pelagius, to the 3 councils vs. Pelagius. Fortunately, there is more to observe. nuremberg_chronicles_f_133v_1From the Council of Mileve, the bishops write to Innocent saying: “We consider that by the help of the mercy of our Lord God, who deigns both to direct your counsel and to hear your prayers, those who hold such perverse and pernicious opinions will more easily yield to the authority of your holiness, drawn from the authority of Holy Scripture, so that we may be rather congratulated by their correction..” (P.L. 33.763). Aside from the clear cognizance of a special guidance from God, there is this added note of Innocent’s authority having “Scripture” as its source. Of course, when he had the chance, Anglican historian Dr. William Bright commented that this was simply a reference to Innocent’s potential use of the bible to confute the errors of Pelagius {1}. But our gifted Benedictine, Dom John Chapman, was quick to respond by saying that the Africans had already been immersed in Scriptural refutations, as can be seen from the broader English translations of the African reports to Rome {2}. If all Milevis expected from Innocent was Scriptural citation, than what value was there to be added by Rome to the decisions of their councils? And I will add here my own observation – what Africa is sending to Rome is the Acts of their councils, not inquiries into Scripture’s theology of the fallen human being & its salvation by grace. Thus, what is called upon is a verdict, not quotes from Scripture. Thus, it is more probable that the Africans understood the source of Rome’s authority here as being the primacy texts of the New Testament concerning the Apostle Peter; and that would then mean the Africans believed in a Papal authority by divine, Christic or Petrine, origin.

(3) More is revealed by the statements made Innocent himself in response to these reports. For example, he writes to Carthage: “In inquiring about those things which should be handled with all care by priests, and especially by a true, just, and catholic council, by preserving, as you have done, the example of ancient tradition, and by being mindful of the discipline of the Church, you have truly strengthened the vigour of our religion, no less now in consulting, than before in passing sentence. For you decided that it was proper to refer to our judgment, knowing what is due to the apostolic see, since all we who are set in this place [Rome’s episcopate] desire to follow the very apostle from whom the very episcopate and whole authority of this name has emerged [in origin]; following whom [Peter], we know how to condemn the evil and to approve the good. So also, you have by your priestly office preserved the institutions of the fathers, and have not spurned that which they decreed by a sentence not human but divine, that whatever is done, even though it be in distance provinces, should not be ended until it comes to the knowledge of this see, that by its authority the whole just pronouncement should be strengthened, and that from there the other churches , like waters proceeding from their natal source and flowing through the different regions of the world, the pure streams of an in-corrupt Head, should take up what they ought to believe” (P.L. 33.780). So we see here that the base from which Innocent works from is Rome’s primacy of doctrinal authority which was invested in the office of Peter, to which he himself ascends. And more importantly, he gives the rationale for reporting to the apostolic see, i.e. so that conciliar decrees might be endowed with definitive (ecumenical) strength. Moreover, his response to Milevis goes like this: “It is therefore with due care and fitness that you consult the secrets of the apostolic office (that office, I mean, to which belongs, aside those things that are outside, the care of all the churches) as to what opinion should be held on doubtful matters, following the form of the ancient rule which, you and I know, has ever been kept in the whole world. But this I pass by, because I am sure you prudence is aware of it: for how could you by your actions have confirmed it, unless you knew that answers to questions always flow through all provinces from the apostolic spring? Especially as often as questions of faith are to be ventilated, I think all our brothers and fellow bishops ought to refer to none but Peter, that is to the author of their name and office, even as your affection has now referred...” (P.L. 33.784). Here, from a Pope venerated by the Eastern Orthodox, tells the Africans that the Roman See inherits the primacy of St. Peter, that the See of Peter is the source of doctrinal purity and jurisdiction, and that its judgment will settle the question definitively. But how did the Africans receive this?

(4) To quote again from St. Augustine, only further, here is what he says of these responses from Pope Innocent: “After a letter had reached us from the East, quite openly pushing the [Pelagian] heresy, it was now quite our duty not to fail the Church in any way, by any episcopal authority whatever; accordingly reports were sent on this matter from two councils, those of Carthage and Mileve, to the apostolic see... We also wrote to the late Pope Innocent, in addition to the reports of the councils, a private letter, in which we dealt more fully with the same question. To all he wrote back to us in the manner that was right and proper for the Pontiff of the apostolic see” (Epistle 186). It would appear then, that St. Augustine raised no objection to the Papalism of Innocent. On top of this, we know that St. Augustine agreed that the answers of Innocent resolved the issue since he wrote precisely that in his Contra Duas Epistolas Pelagianorum: “..This was thought to be themarco_cardisco_-_saints_augustine_jerome_and_gregory_the_great_-_walters_371147 case with him when he replied that he consented to the letters of the late Pope Innocent, in which all doubt about this matter was removed..” (P.L. 44.573). It is interesting here to read Augustine saying “all doubt” was removed on the matter of Pelagius’ teaching by Innocent’s letter. Especially since elsewhere Augustine speaks of only ecumenical authority as having the power to remove all doubt on doctrinal matters {3}. However, things may have shifted in Augustine’s thinking throughout the 16 years that transpired, in addition to interacting with the Roman see on a doctrinal dispute. I say this because some historians have been quick to jump to one of Augustine’s epistles (#43, paragraph 7) which has him implying that a universal council had the power to reverse a judgment formerly given at Rome on the schismatic group called the Donatists. If this epistle is read in full, Augustine does not think that the judgment of Pope Militades (313) was wrong, since he says it was done with the “clearest light of truth“. Rather, he is speaking by way of concession or “for the sake of argument“. Be that as it may, the text does seem to suggest what Augustine believed could happen in reality. So what do we make of this? I think that it is clear from the context of the Pelagian controversy, to which this post is devoted, that Augustine did not believe Councils were definitive until it had reached the approving ratification of the see of Peter (see his agreement with Pope Innocent). Moreover,  we should also take note that Rome may revise her judgments on disciplinary matters if good reason suggests it to be such (and at least part of the original dispute at Rome between Caecilian of Carthage and the pseudo-bishop Majorinus was concerned with whether the former had been ordained by a traditor). Simply because Rome is the supreme court of last appeal does not mean that she herself cannot re-open a former case. This much is admitted by even a staunch Papalist such as Pope St. Nicholas I, whom Metropolitan Kallistos Ware even admitted believed in a universal Papal jurisdiction. Pope Nicholas wrote to the Emperor Michael: “Wherefore since according to the canons, the judgments of lesser tribunals must be referred to a tribunal having greater authority, that is, for their reversal or confirmation; it is immediately clear that the judgement of the Apostolic See, than which there is no greater authority, cannot be handled by any other tribunal, nor is it permissible for any to sit in judgment upon its decision. Appeals are to be made to that See from any part of the world…We do not say that the decision of the said See cannot be amended; some of the facts may have been withheld, or the See may have made a decree of a dispensatory nature in view of the circumstances of the time or of some serious and compelling reasons….” {4} So it may be certainly possible. But the idea here is that Rome herself is permitting as much, and that the rescinding of a prior judgment can be due to a better case being made, more facts coming to light, further evidence to contradict the former sentence, etc,etc. When all is said and done, however, it would be a poor investment to stock so much of what Augustine believed about councils, authority, and the Papacy into this quote which is not even reflecting the advice of Augustine on the matter. Even more so since we have such a clear acceptance of the Papalism of Innocent coming in the “rescripts” (Sermo 131) which Augustine both explicitly accepted as true, valid, and proper, and which he said resolved to put an end to the question of the doctrine of Pelagius. To inquire any further might suggest that our Saint was being dishonest. Now, if it was to be further questioned (since one might ask in which text was Augustine being honest due to the seeming contradiction), we could resort to the fact already alluded to:  Augustine may have spoke wrong in 397 when he wrote that epistle, and that the events in 417 which has Augustine  actually employed in a doctrinal controversy which requires there to be a forceful ecumenical condemnation of a particular heresy reflects his more re-formed belief. By this time, which court does Augustine refer? To which but Rome? The Protestants and the Eastern Orthodox (both who are happy to identify certain Retraciones in Augustine) are wont to flush the statements that are made by this or that Father or Saint, and prefer to focus on the “actions” of said Father or Saint. Why not be consistent and apply the same method here? Namely, that while Augustine may have said X, he in practice not only followed Rome’s judgment on a matter as the definitive judgment, not only embraced the very logic of said condemnation, which, as shown, was anything but Conciliaristic or non-Papal, but also relied on said condemnation for the definitive closure upon the teaching of Pelagius. Lastly, one wonders why there is such a hype on what Augustine said while it is his very own person which speaks of the superior authority of the see of Peter, and by way of implication, would reasonably incite the reader to prefer Rome’s logic to the situation over Augustine’s. But that is hypothetically said in the case that the two are at odds, which I argue above is not the case.

(5) The supreme authority of the Roman see is likewise testified by the heretics themselves. The close associate of Pelagius, Celestius, wrote the following to Pope Zosimus who had succeeded immediately from Innocent: “If indeed any questions have arisen beyond the faith, on which there might be much dissension, I have not passed judgment as the originator of any dogma, as if I had definite authority for this; but whatever I have derived from the fountain of the apostles and prophets, I have offered for approval to the judgement of your apostolate; so that if by chance any error of ignorance has crept it, human as we are, it may be corrected by your sentence” (P.L. 45.1715 – In Augustine, De Pecc. Orig. 26, pg 5 & 6). This letter was actually in response to the condemnations that had been made by Innocent. Clearly, Celestius thought himself worthy a new hearing. Pelagius, likewise, thought he earned the merit to be heard again by Rome, and wrote to Zosimus: “This is the faith, most blessed Pope, which we have learned in the Catholic Church, which we have ever held and hold. If we have by chance set down aught in it unskillfully or without due caution, we desire to be corrected by you, who hold both the faith and the see of Peter. If, however, this our confession is approved by the judgment of your apostolate, then whoever desires to blacken me will not prove that I am a heretic, but that he himself is unskillful or evil-minded or not a catholic” (P.L. 45. 1718). Now, Augustine records how while Zosimus had been tricked into thinking that the confessions of Celestius and Pelagius were not worth condemnation, upon receiving clarity, had reported to the original condemnation of Innocent {5}. In any case, here is proven that the holy See of Rome was the center of ordinary final appeal, from which all decisions were brought to a binding close.

(6) One last citation from Innocent’s successor, Zosimus (417-418), in his follow up exchange with the Council of Carthage, will demonstrate the sort of Papal-logic that was in operation during the course of these events, and which are hand waved off by some interpreters. More importantly, St. Augustine had defended Zosimus in some bitter disputes that had arisen in Italy and elsewhere. Anyhow, here goes the penultimate statement from Zosimus on the character of the Roman See during the Pelagian controversy: “Although the tradition of the Fathers has attributed such great authority to the Apostolic See that no one would dare to disagree wholly with its judgment, and it has always preserved this [judgment] by canons and rules, and current ecclesiastical discipline up to this time by its laws pays the reverence which is due to the name of Peter, from whom it has itself descended …; since therefore Peter the head is of such great authority and he has confirmed the subsequent endeavors of all our ancestors, so that the Roman Church is fortified … by human as well as by divine laws, and it does not escape you that we rule its place and also hold power of the name itself, nevertheless you know, dearest brethren, and as priests you ought to know, although we have such great authority that no one can dare to retract from our decision, yet we have done nothing which we have not voluntarily referred to your notice by letters … not because we did not know what ought to be done, or would do anything which by going against the advantage of the Church, would be displeasing.…” (P.L. 20.676)

(7) Concluding Remarks: Is there then a solid ground upon which to make the case that when St. Augustine said “the cause is ended” , he really just meant to add Rome to an already growing list of conciliar movements? As shown, we must answer in the negative. But what do we make of the operation of Councils? Would it be that the Papacy were a real actor in this drama, there would have merely been a single script from Rome on the matter, right? Well, the quickest corrective to this sort of thinking is the existence of Councils hundreds of years after the “heresy” of Papalism had been well accepted and absorbed in the Latin West (post-Leo IX). In fact, there was even a Council convened after the Council of Florence, which is the Council of Trent, and Florence had already defined Papal supremacy. And what might be to the amazement of others, there was even a Council called by the Pope himself, even nearly a century after Vatican I had defined the prerogative of Papal infallibility. What this tells us is that the Papal claims are not contra Councils, nor do they render them useless or unhelpful. Rather, the Pope is bound by the natural means of arriving at definitive truth, and this includes the inspection of the ecumenical confession of the Church, among many other things. A slow read of the letters already quoted from the Popes of the 5th century can show quite clearly that episcopal councils are not just a right of bishops everywhere, but a duty, and yet they co-operate nicely with the authority of the Papacy. But in what way? The Papal judgment ratifies, i.e. solidifies, the decrees of bishops, and brings them to a level whereby one can use them as a standard for knowing what is catholic and what is heretical, as Pelagius said in his letter to Zosimus. So, the Pope’s teaching is more so the last resort, the field wherefrom the question is brought to an end. And what is “ended” is the entire doctrinal controversy, and it is ended by an authority which speaks with finality, as a doctrinal norm and final court of appeals; and that, one ascending from the primatial authority invested in St. Peter by Jesus Christ when he gave him the keys of the kingdom of heaven in the Church. Therefore, much to the initial disappointment of some, I proudly hold up the oft quoted mis-quotation: “Roma Locuta, Causa Finita Est”Lastly, what of the objection which says that if Rome truly had this sort of authority, there would not be a single disagreement amongst Catholics on issues such as contraception, divorce/re-marriage, fornication, abortion, homosexuality, etc,etc. Well, the objection is undone simply by showing that Jesus unmerited the persuasion of the Judas. That is 1 out of 12, or 8.3%. But then add those who disbelieved him. Does that remove the authority of the teaching of Christ? Or what of the Apostles themselves? There were already growing sects who were protesting the tradition passed on by the Apostles, even in their own lifetime! And this is not to mention the further fragmenting that would occur down throughout church history up unto our very own day. It is the case, as St. Augustine said to his Catechmens, that the Catholic Church will always and perpetually be fighting against heresies , “This Church is Holy, the One Church, the True Church, the Catholic Church, fighting as she does against all heresies. She can fight, but she cannot be beaten. All heresies are expelled from her, like the useless loppings pruned from a vine. She remains fixed in her root, in her vine, in her love. The gates of hell shall not conquer her” {6}. This “root” is the unchanging magisterium which always was and continues to this day to confute the lies of the Serpent.

{1} Roman See, 1896, p. 127
{2} All of which can be read in “Documents Illustrating Papal Authority AD 96-461”, E. Giles, p. 195-223
{3} De Baptismo Contra Donatistas, Book 1, Paragraph 9
{4} Preposueramus Quidem, 865 AD, Mansi, xv. 196 D sqq.
{5} Contra Julianum Pelagianum, Book 6, paragraph 37
{6} Sermon to Catechumens, on the Creed, 6,14,

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An Orthodox Priest Asks……



Here goes. As you may know, I am an Orthodox priest, and my question is about how to understand – from a Catholic perspective – the nature of the distinction between Orthodox and Catholic positions on Papal authority and universal jurisdiction. I am generally pro-Catholic, and I find I hear a lot of bad info coming from Orthodox who misunderstand the nature of Catholic claims, and I was wondering if you might give me some good information (corrective of typical Orthodox misunderstandings) so that I can be more securely informed. Any help is most appreciated!

More specifically, one question you may be able to comment on is, How does the papal conception of universal jurisdiction relate to the jurisdictional authority of other Patriarchates? Is there a mechanism that protects, in a manner of speaking, the jurisdictional authority of the other Patriarchs if they were to be in communion with the papacy? What would it mean for a Patriarch to be a Patriarch and also be in communion with the Pope?

Fr X

To the first question – This is a hot topic, and one most difficult to answer. Reasons for them are rooted in the variegated perspectives on primacy that are cooking within Orthodoxy today. In the last 30 years, the Orthodox have discovered a great deal of pro-Primacy traditions in even the post-Schism Byzantine theologians of the 13th/14th centuries. Prior to that, a tendency towards a  monolithic rejection of authoritative primacy, except for the honorific ordering of Patriarchs (see the Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs to Pope Pius IX, 1848). Since the 1970s, however, work has been done by the scholarship of those scholars eventually associated (in concept) with Fr John Meyendorff, and some significant advances have been made by the Ecumenical Dialogue, especially under MetrPol of Pergamon, John Zizoulas and MetrPol Kallistos Ware. The latest advance was made at Chieti , Italy (following Ravenna) where both Orthodox and Catholic delegates met and were able to find some points of further agreement, though the Catholic delegation made no intention to overturn the Vatican I dogma, since it was not in their competency to do so anyhow. There remains a varied understanding of primacy in Orthodoxy, as is proven by the opposing camps surrounding the recent “Pan”-Orthodox synod in Crete. Anyhow, the issue of primacy boils down to this simple fact. When Christ created the Church in the holy Apostles, did he create that Church with an internal position of distinctive and discriminate primacy, and was it assigned to a single Apostle in contradistinction to the others; and more particularly, was this St. Peter? Further, is this granted primacy a matter based on moral performance? Is it based off character, knowledge, beauty, etc,etc? Or is it a matter of *office*, irrespective of the accidental features of the person. (One might find a suitable analogy in saying that the United States Presidency is an office, not a person, though its office is filled by persons ). Further, was this position an honorific influence for the Apostolic college, or was it rather a position of authority, able to coerce submission in the rare occasion of fragmentation and dispute. Further, is this office something which dies with Peter, or does it outlive him into the post-Apostolic church which expanded and continued to expand; if so, does its continual existence have an nontransferable address, or is it trans-locative (able to go from here to there). Does the office get succeeded to by a purely lineal succession, or it is broad enough to encompass plurality. (i.e. all bishops are successors of Peter). And lastly, were there any promises, via Christ,  testified by the Apostles and/or Church fathers, which made it impossible for this office , as it is internal to the Church’s hierarchical constitution, to be destroyed. I think that depending on how you answer these questions, and based on where you get your answers, will determine whether you fall, intellectually, in the camp of Orthodoxy/Anglicanism or the world Catholicism. I say Anglican because there is a very similar acceptance of a sort of equal episcopalianism in both ecclesiologies, at base.

A further note on the issue of “internal” constitution. When Christ created the Church, was the Papal office *internal* or *external*. Meaning, was it an adornment that was placed onto the Apostles, or was it something *intrinsic* to their order. If it is external, than you can subtract it and the Apostolic Church continues to go in full form. But if it is *intrinsic*, than you really can’t do away with it and still have a fully formed Apostolic Church.
An example of *intrinsic* constitution would be that of the office of Bishop. The Orthodox themselves, as well as Catholics, would accept that the office of bishop is indestructible per the promise of Christ (Matt 28:18). The Church, in order for her to exist in her Apostolicity, must retain the ability to vitalize the ordained ministry, as well as replenish it continually until the parousia of Christ. The Catholics would affirm the same about the Papal office. And just as there can be some external failure or deterioration of human persons who occupy the office of Bishop, the Catholic Church would affirm the same natural potential for that of the personal Pope. Though, no matter how far this failure goes, the office still remains an internal mark to the Church, and would have to be replenished one way or the other.
The ecclesiology of the Vatican Councils (1/2) hold that the Papal office is just one internal element of the divine ekklesia, whereas the general episcopate is of the same internalization. The latter is just as necessary, therefore, as the former. The Pope, therefore, can’t undo the divine constitution of the episcopate, and it is true to say that each Pope that enters into office has to simply *deal* with that fact. He does not enter the Papal office with free and absolute rights to undo the Church’s necessary and internal magisterial organism. Thus, the office of Bishop in all churches throughout the world have the same divine vocation as the Pope, only with slightly less prerogative. Question, then – Is the jurisdiction of the Pope over the world the same as the jurisdiction of the Bishop in his diocese, thereby making the world the diocese of the Pope? The Pope does possess immediate, direct, and universal jurisdiction over all Christians. “Direct and immediate” means that there is no intermediary authority which blocks the authority of the Pope. For example, when the Pope’s after Chalcedon re-affirmed the 2-natures doctrine of Leo’s Tome in the face of the Eastern Monophysite movement, there were lay persons in Constantinople and other Eastern regions which appealed to the Pope for an authoritative assistance. These lay persons in the East could be said to be bound by the Pope’s authority , even though their Monophysite patriarchs and bishops were thumbing their nose at the Pope. The bishop of a particular diocese, like, for example, the Bishop of Corinth, has direct/immediate and full jurisdiction over the Church of the Corinthians. Though, the Bishop isn’t ordained to possess this authority in his diocese as a replica of the Pope, or like a vicar of the Pope. Rather, the bishop obtains this authority directly from Christ through the Apostolic succession which is given to him in the sacrament of holy orders. So the Papal jurisdiction and the *practice* of episcopal jurisdiction do not have the same source, per se. The Pope has his authority (which itself include episcopal authority in both Rome and elsewhere), and the Bishop has his authority. An Eastern Patriarch , as was the case in the 1st millennium, should be free to administer to his own Patriarchate, without direct interference from the Pope. Although, in the matter of appeal, when the Pope is called to heal fragmentation, there requires that very universal authority to make a coercive decision for the problem that he is called for. In other words, one cannot be called to judge on a matter when he is not authorized to do so. It would be like a shepherd who is responsible to tend the sheep, but he doesn’t have the requisite authority to do so, since the sheep can block his leadership. This would be the case if the extremity of the Pope’s authority were indirect and mediate.

Regarding your question about Patriarchal right s- What protects the practical autonomy of Patriarchates are that they are of ancient institution, though these rights are not of divine institution. Also, the principle of charity and brotherly love would dictate that it’d be a sin for the Pope to unnecessarily interfere with the affairs in the Patriarchates. Unless, of course, as in the West, the Latin Patriarchate was mutually agreed to have Patriarchal rights over the respective regions.
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Luther was right to add “Sola” to Fide, says a Tridentine Catholic

Martin Luther

Now, I don’t mean Luther *had* the right to insert “sola” into the biblical translation, only that there is a way to render it theologically correct in concept. Of course, Luther was absolutely wrong and erroneous in his theology, and is conceptually in contradiction to Catholic teaching. Merely, here is my attempt to show that the syntactical addition of “sola”, by itself, is an authentic translation possibility that does no harm to Roman Catholic doctrine on  justification. .

Many interpreters of the sacred Scriptures have commented on Romans 3:28 suggesting that it is not a negation of justification by works, but simply an assertion that justification is by faith, among other things. Thus, in the mind of these readers, it was theologically wrong of Martin Luther to have added “sola fide” to the text of Romans.

Not so.

St. Paul is clearly negating “works” in the process of being justified. If I had told you that my store is open week days, and not on weekends, am I not saying that my store is open on week days “alone”? Or, if I were to say that my store is open during day light hours, and not night time hours, am I not saying that my store is open during day light hours “alone”? Paul is assessing only two ways to reach God in a justified state, either of faith or works, the former being effective and the latter being entirely impossible (with the nuance explained below). Consequently, it is entirely reasonable to read St. Paul as saying “Therefore, we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law” (Rom 3:28) as if he said “Therefore, we conclude that a man is justified by faith alone apart from the deeds of the law”. How then can a Catholic, one who is faithful to the Magisterium of the Church which exercised her authority on this subject at the sacred Council of Trent in the 16th century, affirm the translation which Luther gave?

First, a preliminary remark on “deeds/works of the law” – the recent arguments put forward (here I am thinking of the shift in scholarship with E.P Sanders all the way unto the New Perspectives on Paul in the writings of Dunn, Wright, Hays, & Co.) to say that “deeds of the law” are an exclusive reference to the Jewish ceremonial boundary NTWright071220markers, such as circumcision, the food laws, and the Mosaic sabbaths, etc,etc., hardly stands in light of the fact that St. Paul continues this theme of the inability to be just in God’s eyes through the law in chapter 7 of Romans, and there his inability is to fulfill the commandment “thou shall not covet”. Secondly, in 3:20, St. Paul writes, “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin”. But the “law” which brings the knowledge of sin is a moral prohibition, as said later in chapter 7, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet'” (Rom 7:7). Therefore, even though the Jewish ceremonial signs, prescriptions, and prohibitions are are the primary import in the general scheme, it is not devoid of the failure to keep its moral demands. In fact, in some contexts, it is that which is intended to be given thought.

Now, you might ask how the above assertions are to be harmonious with the 9th canon of the 6th Session of the Council of Trent, which reads:

Council_of_TrentIf anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema.
There are 2 ways:

(1) In the first place, it can be brought into harmony by realizing that it is not so much the exclusivity of faith that is of concern, but *what is faith*. For St. Paul, “faith” is not a mere reference to mental assent which is, itself, isolated from other implications. For instance, “faith” implies the reception of baptism. This is proven in the following: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ [the Son]” (Gal 3:280. Notice how St. Paul sees the reception of baptized as necessarily implied by his reference to the instrumentality of “faith”? One needs only say they have had faith in Christ, and St. Paul 256px-St._Paul_the_Apostlewould have understood by the baptismal state. Another text shows that his understanding of “faith” includes certain qualifications: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Cor 13:5). A much more relevant passage is when he implies that Christians receive the Spirit of God, the agent of renewal (Titus 3:7-9), through faith: “This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Gal 3:2). There is of course the famous passage intersecting love with faith, showing that the latter is authentic when operative with the former: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.” (Gal 5:6). Commenting on the condition of perseverance for the enjoyment of eschatological salvation, St. Paul writes: “if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.” (Col 1:23). There is also the instrumentality of faith in the act of being regenerated: “buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Col 2:12). So we see that for St. Paul, “faith” has some certain implications if it is going to be genuine or authentic. Thus, when he says we are justified by “faith”, it does not necessarily mean that this means exclusively a mental assent, or even a sincere trust in Jesus as Savior. This is aptly demonstrated in a video presentation given by Catholic apologist Steve Ray (though, Steve would probably not immediately agree with the title of this post). In short, “faith” was a technical term for taking on all the was asked of persons in order to be a disciple of Jesus and a member of the cultic community of the church. Therefore, in the reference to a justification “by faith”, Paul is hardly positing an exclusive confession from the mouth. It includes a sincere heartfelt belief, as Steve shows, the inner repentance which St. Peter made clearly obligatory for the remission of sins (Acts 2:36).

(2) The good “works” that are performed in the Christian life, that is, in the post-baptismal state, are not, for St. Paul, “works of the flesh”, or “powers of human nature”. Anyone who is familiar with the Pauline corpus will know that a controlling motif in his material is the fundamental shift from the “old” -to- “new”. This is in terms of the Christ_on_the_cross_(1631),_by_Rembrandtcovenant, creation, the Mosaic Law, the Christic law, and the human being itself. There is a new which replaces the old in all these instances. In particular, Christ himself represents the “old” Adam in his crucifixion, and by dying, brings Adamic humanity to destruction (Rom 6:5-6), and by being raised unto life, re-constructs a new model of humanity, the “new” human, which is infused with the special indwelling of the Holy Spirit and all His power of conforming to God. In our partaking together with Christ, through baptism, we make an exit from the Adamic human complex and enter into the Christic human complex, wherein the life conditions are heightened in contrast to the weakness of the 1st Adam’s human population. In the context of fallen humanity, no works are capable of either entering or sustaining a right-relationship with God, as chapter 1 of the 6th session of Trent states:

The holy council declares first, that for a correct and clear understanding of theLucas_Cranach_(I)_-_Adam_and_Eve-Paradise_-_Kunsthistorisches_Museum_-_Detail_Tree_of_Knowledge doctrine of justification, it is necessary that each one recognize and confess that since all men had lost innocence in the prevarication of Adam, having become unclean, and, as the Apostle says, by nature children of wrath, as has been set forth
in the decree on original sin, they were so far the servants of sin and under the power of the devil and of death, that not only the Gentiles by the force of nature, but not even the Jews by the very letter of the law of Moses, were able to be liberated or to rise therefrom, though free will, weakened as it was in its powers and downward bent, was by no means extinguished in them.

In the newly created humanity,  of which we become (2 Cor 5:17-21), there is no effective place for the life conditions which St Paul elsewhere subsumes under the reference “flesh” (Rom 7:4-5, for one instance).  Even Transfiguration_by_Feofan_Grek_from_Spaso-Preobrazhensky_Cathedral_in_Pereslavl-Zalessky_(15th_c,_Tretyakov_gallery).jpegthe good works which are done in this new life condition is not identified with what Paul calls the “works” done by human nature, and which are entirely excluded from both obtaining and sustaining a right-relationship with God. In fact, St. Paul says that it is through the instrumentality of faith that this resurrection-life is channeled into the lives of Christians. He writes of this power, that it is “… the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power  which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand” (Eph 1:19). Therefore, the “good works” which are requisite for meriting eternal life, as the Catholic Church teaches, are not works done directly coming from human nature in isolation, but in human nature deified by the Spirit and empowered by the resurrection-life of the 2nd Adam which is channeled to us via faith, as St. Paul wrote; and so these are not works done by the law, which represents human nature confronted with the “letter” of God’s demands, but, is rather the internal outworking of a supernatural principle which begins in the seed of the initial regeneration which constitutes the justified state (Titus 3:7).


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Patriarchate vs Papal Primacy – Fr. Joseph Ratzinger

Something which I have observed constitutes a cause for confusion in the dialogue between East and West is the notion of Patriarch. The Eastern Orthodox are wont to be thinking of the primacy of the Roman see by the concept of this term. But this isn’t how Catholics see it, and it would serve the purpose of both our communions if we were to clarify the root and origin of that authority that we call Papal, and explain how it differs from Patriarch. Though, by this, I do not intend a force being applied to the Eastern side which would compel agreement. Having said that, this clarification aids in shining more light on what the Catholic position is, given her dogmatic teaching laid down at the councils of Lyons, Florence, and both councils of the Vatican.

Now, the fact that we have interpreters who descend from the Greco-Byzantine patrimony who think Patriarch when considering the primacy of Rome is not difficult to believe in light of the fact that the Christian church under and with the Byzantine Empire had accommodated much of its external structuring to suit the geographic and Ecclesio-political operations. Moreover, the 6th canon of one of our shared Concils, Nicaea AD 325, seems to indicate that the Roman bishopric had a sort of quasi-Patriarchal (whose full form sees flowering more than a few centuries after the founding of the church), but more akin to Metropolitical, oversight of a wider region of churches. Some have argued that this canon bears no hint in this direction. But even if it did, it would only be a referent to the growing mode of Metropolia for the church of Rome, which encompassed churches close to the Italian territories. This had already been called “ancient custom” by the early 4th century. Since the churches of Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, and then Rome, held certain greater than average prominence, it was appropriate for administrative centralization to occur, bringing together many nearby churches, which were most likely daughter churches from the Mother-church.  This basic application is serves to reflect the practical rationale, and would  do the same for the upcoming 3rd canon of the Council of Constantinople held in 381 , as well as that of the 28th canon of Chalcedon held in 451. Now, Rome had never ratified these canons, and even when there is a final concession to  the inevitable Constantinopolitan primacy, it was not accepted on the logic of those two canons. In fact, n the year 381, no one could say that it is on the basis of “ancient custom” that Constantinople should rise in primacy. Rather, it proffered by the Byzantines that since her city was the new home of the Empire’s capital, it was due for elevation.  Further, it was said that since Rome had received her primacy from the same princinple, it would only naturally follow that Constantinople is now Rome, though new. The Pope of Rome at the time, St. Leo I, had disallowed the canonization of that attempt, and emphasized the irreformability of the Nicaean canon which put the order at Alexandria first,  then Antioch, and after that, Jerusalem.

It helps to emphasize now that this level of primacy, that of Metropolitical, and which would turn into Patriarchs for the 5 greater Sees, is a creature of the Church. It was the “ancient custom” of the Fathers. This may or may not include a custom laid down by the Apostles, but I’m unaware of any positive or negative evidence. These Metropolitical centers only grew in light of circumstance, and not divine law. Secondly, they originated on the basis of a strategy to better manage the unity of nearby churches. The prerogatives were recognized by the Church, and originated by her.

On the other hand, Rome’s primacy was never stated to have been based off some conciliar or episcopal decision, but was rather something to have begun with the investiture of Jesus Christ in the Apostle Peter. Rome inherited the throne of Peter, and thus she receives, like a depository, his primatial authority for the universal Church. This is not extensive with Italy, or the West, but is universal. This was even held by the Eastern churches at Chalcedon. Their letter to Pope Leo represents the Eastern consensus just as much as the Council does. The novelty was, quite probably, the logic of the 3rd canon of Constantinople I and the 28th of Chalcedon. It is even more of a cause to wonder how the Easterners could say the things which they did about Leo in their epistle, and at the same time conceive of Rome’s primacy as entirely built off her being home of the elder Imperial capital. Some have argued that the Eastern bishops intended by  “fathers” in “the fathers gave Rome her primacy” (canon 28) on the basis of her being the home of the Imperial capital as the Apostles themselves. It seems like a fair explanation, though it leaves one still wondering.

Anyhow, I think it serves both sides best to realize that the Papal primacy is actually one and the same thing with Petrine primacy, and the latter was created by Christ in the Apostles, and was universal in scope. This is not just a matter of a distinction in the area of jurisdiction, but a whole different category of primacy than was conceived for Alexandria and the rest of the Patriarchs, especially Constantinople.

As a wrap, I give you hear the words of the younger Fr Joseph Ratzinger, who wrote an interesting article (now published in book form)  and which speaks directly to the inner logic of what I’ve tried to show:

“It is clear that the duality, set up by the earliest theology of succession with its emphasis on apostolic sees, has nothing to do with the later patriarchal theory. Confusion between the primitive claim of the apostolic see and the administrative claim of the patriarchal city characterizes the tragic beginning of conflict between Constantinople and Rome. The theory of patriarchal constitution, which especially since the council of Chalcedon, has been held up against the Roman claim and which has tried to force the latter into its own mould, mistakes the whole character of the Roman claim, which is based on an entirely different principle. The patriarchal principle is post-Constantinian, its instinct administrative, its application thus closely tied up with political and geographic data. The Roman claim, by contrast, must be understood in the light of the originally theological notion of the apostolic sees. The more new Rome (which could not dream of calling itself ‘apostolic’) obscured the old idea of the apostolic see in favor of the patriarchal concept, the more; the more Old Rome emphasized the completely different origin and nature of its authority. Indeed, this is something entirely different from a primacy of honor among patriarchs, since it exists on quite a different plane, wholly independent of such administrative schemes. The overshadowing of the old theological notion of the apostolic see – an original part, after all, of the Church’s understanding of her own nature – by the theory of five patriarchs must be understood as the real harm done in the quarrel between East and West. The mischief has had its effect on the West to the extent that, though the notion of apostolic authority has remained unharmed, nevertheless a far-reaching administrative-patriarchal conception of the importance of the Roman see has necessarily developed, making it no easier for those outside the fold to grasp the real hart of the Roman claim in contrast to other claims”
 (Fr Joseph Ratzinger, Primacy, Episcopate, and Apostolic Succession in The Episcopate and the Primacy , pg. 58-59)

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The Rationale for Papal Infallibility in 4 Points


Above is a drawing of Pope Pius IX, the Pope who presided over the 1st Council of Vatican in 1870. Below is my attempt to give, very succinctly, the rationale or dialectical thought from where the idea of Papal infallibility comes from.

Christ promised us that the gates of hell should never prevail against the Church (Matt 16:18); likewise, that He would “be with” the Church “unto the end of the age” (ibid 28:18), and that the Church is the pillar and bulwark of the truth.

(1) Thus, we have immediate grounds for inferring the *indefectibility* of the Church. In other words, she cannot defect from this function since it is rendered necessary (by way of supposition) in our Lord’s promise.

But, since the Church is a doctrinal missionary society *by nature* (i.e. go and preach the gospel to all creatures), her *indefectibility* must imply her *infallibility*, or more thoroughly put, the inability to teach something which would forfeit the soul’s ability to reach the destiny of salvation (i.e. a heresy so great to impugn the process of salvation)

(2) Thus, the 2nd inference would be that the society of the Church is *infallible*.

In addition, we know that the Church is, in principle, a visible society, not least because the holy fathers of the 4th century added into the Creed that the Church has four marks, one of which is Apostolicity. This does not merely mean her doctrine is the same as that of the Apostles, but also that her very being is an “Apostle”, which means her successive growth in the world is done by way of “sending”, a prior “sender” that is. This is kept by what the New Testament called the “laying on of hands by the presbyerate” , and what was later understood as the sacramental succession from the Apostles;  hand-to-body.

But since this visible Church, as doctrinal missionary society, is also hierarchically ordered with a Papal head as holding supreme authority (see here – here – and here ) in all matters pertaining to that very doctrine which she is entrusted to preach to all men, both her *indefectibility* and her *infallibility*, as well as her *visibility*,  must imply Papal infallibility – – – at least in some sense, and under some condition.

(3) Thus, the 3rd inference is Papal infallibility.

But since the tradition has never posited that a Pope is generally immune from making an error, or even negating a dogma in his ordinary teaching, it must be implied that his infallibility has special and extraordinary conditions.

(4) Thus, the 4th inference is a conditional Papal infallibility.

But since a conditional Papal infallibility would be defined by an  intention on teaching the whole church, since it is she who cannot be destroyed, it is implied by that fact that Papal infallibility is invoked and operative only under this specific condition.

Thus, you have the rationale for the teaching of Vatican I – An indefectible & infallible Church whose doctrinal voice is concentrated in the person of the Pope when she defines the Apostolic faith to be held by the whole Church.

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4 Eastern Saints & Byzantine Liturgy say “Purgatory”


Though, on the ground, the Eastern Orthodox might sound as if they are not of one mind on the subject of post-mortam purgation , it can’t be easily dismissed that there lies in their Patrimony a great deal of evidence for its reality. We have here no less than 4 of the Greats who bear pristine mentioning of the basic concept. Now, we aren’t going to tease out the inevitable question that might arise from St. Gregeory of Nyssa, since he may have held to some sort of universal salvation post-purgatorial process (apokatastasis), thereby discrediting whatever commentary on it. Suffice it to say that it was still confessed in his writing. And likewise, I don’t intend on fleshing out the distinction between post-mortam sanctifying process which is devoid of juridicial satisfaction or the forensic aquitting from temporal punishment and the Latin satispassio. I think the goal here is to show evidence for what could be either one.

(1) St. Maximos the Confessor (+662) , in his Questions and Doubts (PG 90, 792-3), answers a series of questions or ‘dubia’ which are written to him, followed by his own answers. In the 10th question, we read, ‘What is meant by St. Diadochos’ statement that in the next life some will be judged and purged by fire?’. Maximos answers: ‘Those departing this life not fully perfect must expiate that which is bad in their balance of good and bad, as if by fire’

(2) St. John Chrysostom (+409) wrote: “It is not in vain that we have received this tradition from the apostles, that we pray for the deceased during the revered and awe-inspiring mysteries.
Will not God be appeased for them, when all the people and priests raise their hands in supplication in this tremendous sacrifice
“? (PG 62, 203)

(3) St. Cyril of Jerusalem (+386) in his 23rd Catechetical lecture describes the various prayers offered during the sacred liturgy. He comments on that which is for the dead: ” If a King sent a subject into exile for his offence and then friends of the exile came with a beautiful diadem to placate the king, wouldn’t his displeasure disappear? So, too, we pray to God for the dead, not offering Him a diadem, but Christ himself slain for our sins [on the altar]” (PG 33, 1116)

(4) St. Gregory of Nyssa (+394) wrote “Man will not be able to be a partaker of divinity Gregor-Chora (1)until a purgatorian fire will have cleansed away any stain found on his soul” (PG 46, 525).

(5) The Eastern rite Catholics , also used by the Orthodox, have revealing purgatorial prayers on behalf of the dead in heir панvхида Vigil  (in Greek παννυχίς and μνημόσυνον for Vigil or memorial) services wherein it is petitioned: “Again let us pray for the repose of the soul of the departed servant of God X…and that every transgression both willful and involuntary be forgiven him…that the Lord God may establish his soul in the place where the just find rest . Let us ask for him the peace of God, the kingdom of heaven, and the forgiveness of his sins from Christ, our deathless King and God…Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison…” 

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Church Fathers & Papal Infallibility

Here is a list of citations from Church Fathers from both East and West which speak either implicitly or plainly of the doctrine of Papal infallibility. The key hints are the note of promise and permanency from Jesus Christ to Peter, and then from Peter to the Roman episcopate. Also, of special note here is the amount of saints who are today venerated by the Eastern Orthodox, or perhaps the high-Church Anglican tradition. And lastly, this *is not* an attempt to prove Papal infallibility, since more study would have to be done in order to show that. Rather, this is merely to inspire readers to look more into the characters of the Patristics and their historical contexts. Happy reading!

Lord Jesus Christ (30-33 AD)
Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ ” (Matthew 16:16-18)


                                                              St. Irenaeus (130-202)

“But since it would be very long in a volume of this sort to give the successions of all the churches, we will point to that of the exceedingly great and ancient church which was founded and established at Rome by the most glorious apostles Peter and Paul. By its tradition and by its faith announced to men, which has been transmitted to us by the succession of bishops, we confound all those who in any way, by caprice or vain glory, or by blindness and perversity of will, gather where they ought not….For to this [Roman] church…on account of its more powerful principality (propter potentiorem principalitatem), it is necessary that every church , that is, the faithful from all sides [of the world], should come be in agreement, in which the tradition from the Apostles has always been preserved by those that are from all parts” ( St. Irenaeus, 180 AD, Against Heresies – Book III, chapter III)

                                                       Saint Jerome (347-420)

“Since the East, shattered as it is by the long-standing feuds [Araianism], subsisting between its peoples, is bit by bit tearing into shreds the seamless vest of the Lord, woven from the top throughout, since the foxes are destroying the vineyard of Christ, and since among the broken cisterns that hold no water it is hard to discover the sealed fountain and the garden enclosed, I think it my duty to consult the chair of Peter…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..If you think fit enact a decree; and then I shall not hesitate to speak of three hypostases. Order a new creed to supersede the Nicene; and then, whether we are Arians or orthodox, one confession will do for us all….I implore your blessedness, therefore, by the crucified Saviour of the world, and by the consubstantial trinity, to authorize me by letter either to use or to refuse this formula of three hypostases.”
(St. Jerome, Letter to Pope St. Damasus I, 367 A.D., Epistle #15) – picture from

                                                             Pope Damasus (366-382)

“Although the catholic churches diffused throughout the world are one bridal chamber of Christ, yet the holy Roman church has been preferred to all other churches, not by any synodical decrees, but has obtained the primacy by the voice of our Lord and Savior in the gospel, saying: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell will never prevail against it; and I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven…..Therefore, the first see of Peter the Apostles is that of the Roman church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing
(Decree of Damasus, Roman Synod 382. Patrologia Latina 13.374; Jalland, T.G. (1944). Church and Papacy. London:  Morehouse-Gorham Co. p. 255-57)


                                                              Pope Siricius (384-392)

[In his commenting on the rise of the Papacy in the mid-4th century and in particular this below letter of Pope St. Siricius to the Bishop of Tarragona, Patristics historian Robert Eno writes the following: “It is only from the mid-fourth century that we begin to have abundant and unambiguous evidence from the letters of the bishops of Rome. This evidence plainly shows the Roman view of itself as the supreme arbiter for the Church. In this letter, sometimes referred to as the first papal decretal, Pope Siricius (384-399) answers the questions sent to his predecessor Damasus (366-384) by a Spanish bishop” (Teaching Authority in the Early Church, Robert B.Eno, SS, page 153)

“For in view of our office there is no freedom for us, on whom a zeal for the Christian religion is incumbent greater than on all others, to dissimulate or to be silent. We bear the burdens of all who are oppressed, or rather the blessed apostle Peter, who in all things protects and preserves us, the heirs, as we trust, of his administration, bears them in us…[proceeds to list a number of errors being promoted in Tarragona (Spain)]… it is also inappropriate henceforth for you to deviate from that path, if you do not wish to be separated from our company by synodal sentence….Enough error on this matter! All priests who do not wish to be torn from the solidity of the apostolic rock, upon which Christ built the universal Church, should now hold the aforementioned rule…[lists more errors]…let them know that they have been expelled by the authority of the apostolic see from every ecclesiastical office, which they used unworthily…[lists more errors]… there is freedom for no priest of the Lord to be ignorant of the statutes of the apostolic see and the venerable decrees of the canons…” (Pope Siricius to Bishop Himerius of Tarragona 385 AD, Epistle 1, Directa Ad Decessorem. Patrologia Latina 13.1132; Ed. Pierre Coustant, Epistolae Romanorum pontificum (Paris, 1721; reprint Farnborough, 1967), 623-638.)

                                                       Saint Augustine (354-430)

“‘You know what the Catholic Church is, and what it is to be cut off from the vine? Come, if you desire to be engrafted on the vine. It is a pain to see you thus lopped off from the tree. Number the bishops from the very see of Peter, and observe the succession of every father in that order: it is the rock against which the proud gates of hell prevail not” (Augustine, Psalmus Contra Partem Donati, 43)

This is a Synodical letter from 61 Bishops in Council from Milevis (Numidia) , North Africa to Pope St. Innocent I (401-417), and it concerns the heresy of Pelagius. What is important here is that St. Augustine was a participant:

“In insinuating these things to your Apostolic breast we have no need to say much, and heap up words about this impiety, since doubtless they will move you in such wise that you will be altogether unable to refrain from correcting them, that they may creep no further….The authors of this most pernicious heresy are said to be Pelagius and Celestius, whom, indeed, we should prefer to be cured with the Church, rather than that they should be cut off from the Church, if no necessity compels this. One of them, Celestius, is even said to have arrived at the priesthood in Asia. Your Holiness is better informed by the Council of Carthage as to what was done against him a few years back. Pelagius, as the letters of some of our brethren say, is in Jerusalem, and is said to have deceived many there. Many more, however, who have been able to examine his views more closely, are fighting him on behalf of the Catholic Faith, but especially your holy son, our brother and fellow-priest, Jerome. But we consider that with the help of the mercy of our God, whom we pray to direct your counsels and to hear your prayers, those who hold such perverse and baneful opinions will more easily yield to the authority of your Holiness, which has been taken from the authority of the Holy Scriptures (auctoritati sanctitatis tuae, de sanctarum scripturarum auctoritate depromptae facilius….esse cessuros), so that we may be rather rejoiced by their correction than saddened by their destruction. But whatever they themselves may choose, your Reverence perceives that at least those many must be cared for whom they may entangle in their nets if they should not submit straightforwardly. We write this to your Holiness from the Council of Numidia, imitating our fellow bishops of the Church and province of Carthage, whom we understand to have written of this affair to the Apostolic See which your Blessedness adorns.”
(Council of Mileve to Pope Innocent, June 416. Patrologia Latina 33.763)

Another episcopal letter to Pope Innocent concerning Pelagius, and is signed by 5 North African bishops ( Aurelius the Primate, Augustine, Alypius, Evodius and Possidius)

“Of the rest of the accusations against him doubtless your beatitude will judge in the same way as the acts of the two Councils. Doubtless your kindness of heart will pardon us for having sent to your Holiness a longer letter than you might perhaps have wished. For we do not pour back our little stream for the purpose of replenishing your great fountain (non enim riuulum nostrum tuo largo fonti augendo refundimus); but in the great temptation of these times (from which may He deliver us to whom we say, ‘and lead us not into temptation’) we wish it to be approved by you whether our stream, though small, flows from the same head of water as your abundant river, and to be consoled by your answer in the common participation of the same grace.”
(Aurelius, Alypius, Evodius, & Possidius to Pope Innocent. Patrologia 33.764)

                                                          Pope Innocent I (401-417)

The reply of Pope St. Innocent in 417 to the Africans goes like this:

“In making inquiry with respect to those things that should be treated with all solicitude by bishops, and especially by a true and just and Catholic Council, by preserving, as you have done, the example of ancient tradition, and by being mindful of ecclesiastical discipline, you have truly strengthened the vigour of our Faith, no less now in consulting us than before in passing sentence. For you decided that it was proper to refer to our judgement, knowing what is due to the Apostolic See, since all we who are set in this place, desire to follow the Apostle (Peter) from whom the very episcopate and whole authority of this name is derived. Following in his steps, we know how to condemn the evil and to approve the good. So also, you have by your sacerdotal office preserved the customs of the Fathers, and have not spurned that which they decreed by a divine and not human sentence, that whatsoever is done, even though it be in distant provinces, should not be ended without being brought to the knowledge of this See, [39] that by its authority the whole just pronouncement should be strengthened, and that from it all other Churches (like waters flowing from their natal source and flowing through the different regions of the world, the pure streams of one incorrupt head), should receive what they ought to enjoin, whom they ought to wash, and whom that water, worthy of pure bodies, should avoid as defiled with uncleansable filth. I congratulate you, therefore, dearest brethren, that you have directed letters to us by our brother and fellow-bishop Julius, and that, while caring for the Churches which you rule, you also show your solicitude for the well-being of all, and that you ask for a decree that shall profit all the Churches of the world at once; [40] so that the Church being established in her rules and confirmed by this decree of just pronouncement against such errors, may be unable to fear those men, etc.” (Pope Innocent I, Epistle 29, to the Council of Carthage (In requirendis). Jan 27, 417 AD. Patrologia Latina 33.780)


                                                                Pope Zosimus (418)

Innocent’s successor, Pope Zosimus, continued to write letters to Africa concerning the same Pelagian issue:

“Although the tradition of the Fathers has attributed such great authority to the Apostolic See that no one would dare to disagree wholly with its judgment, and it has always preserved this [judgment] by canons and rules, and current ecclesiastical discipline up to this time by its laws pays the reverence which is due to the name of Peter, from whom it has itself descended …; since therefore Peter the head is of such great authority and he has confirmed the subsequent endeavors of all our ancestors, so that the Roman Church is fortified … by human as well as by divine laws, and it does not escape you that we rule its place and also hold power of the name itself, nevertheless you know, dearest brethren, and as priests you ought to know, although we have such great authority that no one can dare to retract from our decision, yet we have done nothing which we have not voluntarily referred to your notice by letters … not because we did not know what ought to be done, or would do anything which by going against the advantage of the Church, would be displeasing.…(From the epistle (12) “Quamvis Patrum traditio” to the African bishops, March 21, 418. Patrologia Latina 20. 676; Denzinger, H., & Rahner, K. (Eds.). (1954). The sources of Catholic dogma. (R. J. Deferrari, Trans.) (p. 47). St. Louis, MO: B. Herder Book Co.)

After Pelagius had been condemned , St. Augustine wrote the following recap of the history of the Pelagian condemnation:

“After letters had come to us from the East, discussing the case in the clearest manner, we were bound not to fail in assisting the Church’s need with such episcopal authority as we possess (nullo modo jam qualicumque episcopali auctoritate deesse Ecclesiae debueramus). In consequence, relations as to this matter were sent from two Councils — those of Carthage and of Milevis — to the Apostolic See, before the ecclesiastical acts by which Pelagius is said to have been acquitted had come into our hands or into Africa at all. We also wrote to Pope Innocent, of blessed memory a private letter, besides the relations of the Councils, wherein we described the case at greater length, to all of these he [Pope Innocent] answered in the manner which was the right and duty of the bishop of the Apostolic See (Ad omnia nobis ille rescripsit eo modo quo fas erat atque oportebat Apostolicae sedis Antistitem). All of which you may now read, if perchance none of them or not all of them have yet received you; in them you will see that, while he has preserved the moderation which was right, so that the heretic should not be condemned if he condemns his errors, yet the new and pernicious error is so restrained by ecclesiastical authority that we much wonder that there should be any still remaining who, by any error whatsoever, try to fight against the grace of God….” (Augustine, Epistle 186: Alypius and Augustine to Paulinus – Bishop of Nola near Naples. AD 417. Patrologia Latina 33.816)


“Refute those [Pelagians] who contrdict, and those who resist bring to us. For already two councils on this question have been sent to the Apostolic see and replies have also come from there. The cause is finished; would that the error might sometime be finished also!” (Augustine, Sermo 131. Sept 23, 417. Patrologia Latina 38. 734)

Pope St. Boniface I (422 AD)

“”For it has never been allowed to discuss again what has once been decided by the Apostolic See.” (Letter 13 to Bishop Rufus of Thessalonica – PL 20:776A)

                                                             Council of Ephesus 431

“No one doubts, but rather it has been known to all generations, that the holy and most blessed Peter, chief and head of the Apostles, the pillar of the faith, the foundation stone 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 the power of binding and loosing sins was given to him, who up to this moment and always lives in his successors, and judges.”
(From the speech of Philip the Roman legate in action III of the Ecumenical Council in Ephesus 431; Denzinger, H., & Rahner, K. (Eds.). (1954). The sources of Catholic dogma. (R. J. Deferrari, Trans.) (p. 49). St. Louis, MO: B. Herder Book Co.) – Picture


     Pope St. Simplicius (468-483)

In the post-Chalcedonian crisis of 453 onward, the Eastern Emperor Basiliscus (a usurper to the throne, and a fierce combatant against Chalcedon) had enacted to obliterate the Council of Chalcedon from the list of general Councils. Pope St. Simplicius (venerated by the Eastern Orthodox, Feb 10th), wrote a letter stating the divine state of affairs as seen from Rome:
“Those genuine and clear [truths] which flow from the very pure fountains of the Scriptures cannot be disturbed by any arguments of misty subtlety. For this same norm of apostolic doctrine endures in the successors of him upon whom the Lord imposed the care of the whole sheepfold , whom [He promised] He would not fail even to the end of the world , against whom He promised that the gates of hell would never prevail, by whose judgment He testified that what was bound on earth could not be loosed in heaven  … Let whoever, as the Apostle proclaimed, attempts to disseminate something other, than what we have received, be anathema. Let no approach to your ears be thrown open to the pernicious plans of undermining, let no pledge of revising any of the old definitions be granted, because, as it must be repeated very often, what has deserved to be cut away with the sharp edge of the evangelical pruning-hook by apostolic hands with the approval of the universal Church, cannot acquire the strength for a rebirth nor is it able to return to the fruitful shoot of the master’s vine, because it is evident that it has been destined to eternal fire. Thus, finally, the machinations of all heresies laid down by decrees of the Church are never allowed to renew the struggles of their crushed attack.”
(From the epistle “Cuperem quidem” to Basiliscus Augustus January 10, 476; Denzinger, H., & Rahner, K. (Eds.). (1954). The sources of Catholic dogma. (R. J. Deferrari, Trans.) (p. 64). St. Louis, MO: B. Herder Book Co.)


Pope St. Gelasius I (492-496)
In the midst of the fall out from Chalcedon in Constantinople and Alexandria, Pope St. Gelasius (for some Orthodox, a venerated saint) wrote the following to an Eastern christian named Faustus, and in this letter, Gelasius implied infallibility by way of positing a supremacy to Papal authoritative teaching:

“It is nothing to wonder at — that they presume to blaspheme the see of the blessed Apostle Peter… And on top of this, they call us proud when the first see has never ceased offering them whatever there is of piety. They with their utter shamelessness trust they will be able to subjugate it.. I will ask them this: the trial which they call for, where can it be held? With them (in the East), so that they may be the plaintiff, witnesses, and judges all in one? Neither human affairs nor the integrity of the divine faith must be entrusted to such a tribunal. It matters of religion (faith/morals), the canons say that the ultimate judgement must come only from the apostolic see. The powers of this world? It is not for them to judge — rather they are to learn from the bishops — and above all, from the vicar of blessed Peter about divine things. No ruler of this world, however powerful, whether Christian or not, can presume to claim this for himself, unless of course, he is a persecutor” (Pope Gelasius, Epistle 10 to Faustus – Thiel, A., Epistolae Romanorum Pontificum, p. 347)



                                                            Pope Hormisdas (514-523)

The first condition of salvation is to keep the norm of the true faith and in no way to deviate from the established doctrine of the Fathers. For it is impossible that the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, who said, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church,” [Matthew 16:18], should not be verified. And their truth has been proved by the course of history, for in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been kept unsullied. From this hope and faith we by no means desire to be separated and, following the doctrine of the Fathers, we declare anathema all heresies, and, especially, the heretic Nestorius, former bishop of Constantinople, who was condemned by the Council of Ephesus, by Blessed Celestine, bishop of Rome, and by the venerable Cyril, bishop of Alexandria. We likewise condemn and declare to be anathema Eutyches and Dioscoros of Alexandria, who were condemned in the holy Council of Chalcedon, which we follow and endorse. This Council followed the holy Council of Nicaea and preached the apostolic faith. And we condemn the assassin Timothy, surnamed Aelurus [“the Cat”] and also Peter [Mongos] of Alexandria, his disciple and follower in everything. We also declare anathema their helper and follower, Acacius of Constantinople, a bishop once condemned by the Apostolic See, and all those who remain in contact and company with them. Because this Acacius joined himself to their communion, he deserved to receive a judgment of condemnation similar to theirs. Furthermore, we condemn Peter [“the Fuller”] of Antioch with all his followers together together with the followers of all those mentioned above.

Following, as we have said before, the Apostolic See in all things and proclaiming all its decisions, we endorse and approve all the letters which Pope St Leo wrote concerning the Christian religion. And so I hope I may deserve to be associated with you in the one communion which the Apostolic See proclaims, in which the whole, true, and perfect security of the Christian religion resides. I promise that from now on those who are separated from the communion of the Catholic Church, that is, who are not in agreement with the Apostolic See, will not have their names read during the sacred mysteries. But if I attempt even the least deviation from my profession, I admit that, according to my own declaration, I am an accomplice to those whom I have condemned. I have signed this, my profession, with my own hand, and I have directed it to you, Hormisdas, the holy and venerable pope of Rome.” (“Libellus professionis fidei” added to the epistle “Inter ea quae” to the bishops of Spain, April 2, 518; Denzinger, H., & Rahner, K. (Eds.). (1954). The sources of Catholic dogma. (R. J. Deferrari, Trans.) (p. 73). St. Louis, MO: B. Herder Book Co.)

Patriarch of Jerusalem, John IV (575-593)

“Pere Salaville has drawn attention to the same point in an article in the Echos d’Orient, 1910 (p. 171), in which he deals with a letter written by John, Patriarch of Jerusalem (575-593) to the Catholicos of the Gregorian monks who had a colony in his see-city. The letter, probably published first in Greek, and an Armenian version of which was in recent times discovered and published (1896) in Etchmiadzin, contains the following indepedent testimony to Eastern belief in the prerogative and function of the Apostolic See:

“As for us, that is to say, the Holy Church, we have the word of the Lord, who said to Peter, chief of the Apostles, when giving him the primacy of the faith for the strengthening of the churches, “You are Peter, etc….”. To this same Peter he has given the keys of heaven and earth; it is in following his faith that to this day his disciples and the doctors of the Catholic Church bind and loose; they bind the wicked and loose from their chaints those who do penance. Such is, above all, the privilege of those who, on the first most holy and venerable see, are the successors of Peter, sound in the faith, and according to the word of the Lord, infallible’

Here is not simple primacy, but primacy connoting ‘infallibility'”

(S. Herbert Scott (2015). The Eastern Church and the Papacy. Mysterium Co. p. 359)


                                                           Pope Pelagius II (579-590)
” (For) you know that the Lord proclaims in the Gospel: Simon, Simon, behold Satan has desired to have you, that he might sift you as wheat: but I have asked the Father for thee, that thy faith fail not; and thou being once converted, confirm thy brethren [Luke 22:31 f.].
Consider, most dear ones, that the Truth could not have lied, nor will the faith of PETER be able to be shaken or changed forever. For although the devil desired to sift all the disciples, the Lord testifies that He Himself asked for PETER alone and wished the others to be confirmed by him; and to him also, in consideration of a greater love which he showed the Lord before the rest, was committed the care of feeding the sheep [cf. John 21:15 ff.]; and to him also He handed over the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and upon him He promised to build his Church, and He testified that the gates of hell would not prevail against it [cf. Matt. 16:16 ff.]. But, because the enemy of the human race even until the end of the world does not abstain from sowing cockle [Matt. 13:25] over the good seed in the Church of the Lord, and therefore, lest perchance anyone with malignant zeal should by the instigation of the devil presume to make some alterations in and to draw conclusions regarding the integrity of the faith; and (lest) by reason of this your minds perhaps may seem to be disturbed, we have judged it necessary through our present epistle to exhort with tears that you should return to the heart of your mother the Church, and to send you satisfaction with regard to the integrity of faith.…” (From epistle (1) “Quod ad dilectionem” to the schismatic bishops of Istria, about 585; Denzinger, H., & Rahner, K. (Eds.). (1954). The sources of Catholic dogma. (R. J. Deferrari, Trans.) (p. 94). St. Louis, MO: B. Herder Book Co.)

St. Sophronius of Jerusalem (560-638)

Stephen, Bishop of Dora, was commissioned by St. Sophronius of Jerusalem to appeal to the Roman see for the condemnation of the Monothelites [Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch]. When Rome assembled in the Council of Lateran 649, this Stephen read aloud at the council in the presence of Pope St. Martin and St. Maximos the Confessor:

“Who shall give us the wings of a dove, that we may fly and report this to your supreme See, which rules and is set over all, that the wound [Monothelitism] may be entirely healed? For this great Peter, the Head of the Apostles, has been wont to do with power from of old, by his Apostolical or canonical authority; since manifestly not only was he alone beside all thought worthy to be entrusted with the keys of the kingdom of heaven, to open and to shut these, worthily to the believing, but justly to those unbelieving the gospel of grace. Not to say that he first was set in charge to feed the sheep of the whole Catholic Church; for He says, ‘Peter, lovest thou me? Feed My Sheep’. And again, in a manner special and peculiar to himself, having a stronger faith than all in our Lord, and unchangeable, to convert and confirm his spiritual partners and brethren, when tossed by doubt, having had power and sacerdotal authority providentially committed to him by very God for our sakes Incarnate. Which, knowing Sophronius, of blessed memory, Patriarch of the holy city of Christ our God , — places me on Holy Calvary — and there bound me with indissoluble bonds, saying, ‘Thou shalt give account to our God who on this sacred spot was willingly sacrificed in the flesh for us, at His glorious and dreadful appearing, when He shall judge the living and the dead, if thou delay and neglect His faith endangered: though I, as thou know, cannot do this personally, for the inroad of the Saracens, which has burst on us for our sins. Go then with all speed from one and of the earth to the other, till thou come to the Apostolic See, where the foundations of the truth faith are laid. Not once, not twice, but many times accurately made known to the holy men there what has been stirred up among us, and cease not earnestly entreating and requesting, till out of their Apostolic wisdom they bring judgment to victory’ ” (Mansi, X. 894)

                                               Saint Maximos the Confessor (580-662)

“In this regard the wretches have not conformed to the sense of the Apostolic See, and, what is laughable, or rather lamentable, as proving their ignorance, they have not hesitated to lie against the Apostolic See itself; but as though they were in its counsel, and as if they had received a decree from it, in the acts they have composed in defence of the impious ecthesis, they have claimed the great Honorius on their side….. What did the divine Honorius do, and after him the aged [Pope] Severinus, and [Pope] John who followed him? Yet further, what supplication has the blessed Pope, who now sits, not made? Have not the whole East and West brought their tears, laments, obsecrations, deprecations, both before God in prayer and before men in their letters?…..

“If the Roman See recognizes Pyrrhus to be not only a reprobate but a heretic, it is certainly plain that everyone who anathematizes those who have rejected Pyrrhus, anathematizes the See of Rome, that is, he anathematizes the Catholic Church. I need hardly add that he excommunicates himself also, if indeed he is in communion with the Roman See and the Catholic Church of God. I beseech you, therefore, blessed Lord, to order that no one should speak of Pyrrhus as sanctissimus or almificus, for the holy canon does not allow him to be so styled….

“….For he who has willfully separated from the Catholic Church has fallen from all holiness. For it is not right that one who has already been condemned and cast out by the Apostolic See of the city of Rome for his wrong opinions should be named with any king of honor , until he be received by her [Rome], having returned to her, nay, to our Lord, by a pious confession and orthodox faith, by which he can receives holiness and the name of holy. Therefore, if he wishes neither to be a heretic nor to be accounted one, let him not make satisfaction to this or that person, for this is superfluous and unreasonable. For just as all are scandalized at him when one is scandalized, so also, when satisfaction has been made to one, all without doubt are satisfied. Let him hasten before all things to satisfy the Roman See, for if it is satisfied, all will agree in calling him pious and orthodox. For he only speaks in vain who thinks he ought to persuade or entrap persons like myself, and does not satisfy and implore the blessed Pope of the most holy Church of the Romans, that is, the Apostolic See, which from the incarnate Son of God himself, and also by all holy synods, according to the holy canons and definitions, has received universal and supreme dominion, authority, and power of binding and loosing over all the holy churches of God which are in the whole world. For with it the Word who is above the celestial powers binds and looses in heaven also. For if he thinks he
must satisfy others, and fails to implore the most blessed Roman Pope, he is acting like a man who, when accused of murder or some other crime, does not hasten to prove his innocence to the judge appointed by law, but only uselessly and without profit does his best to demonstrate his innocence to private individuals, who have no power to acquit him from the accusation
. Wherefore, my blessed Lord, extend yet further the precept which it is known that you have made well and according to God’s will, by which Pyrrhus is not allowed to speak or misspeak with regard to dogma. But discover clearly his intention by further inquiry , whether he will altogether agree to the truth. And if he is careful to do this, exhort him to make a becoming statement to the Roman Pope, so that by his command the matter concerning Pyrrhus may be canonically and suitably ordered for the glory of God and the praise of your sublimity…”
(Epistle of Maximos to Peter the Illustrious, Opuscula 12 – This text is debated as authentic since only fragments are preserved, and then, only in Latin, whereas Maximos wrote in Greek. However, plenty of scholars accept it as authentic. Secondly, even if we were to remove this text, there is the letter from Maximos to Anastasius which is preserved in the Greek and which connect the promise of Christ to Peter with the faith of the Roman church)

“For the extremities of the earth and all in every part of it who purely and rightly confess the Lord, look directly towards the most holy Roman Church and its confession and faith, as it were to a sun of unfailing light, awaiting from it the bright radiance of the sacred dogmas of our fathers, according to what the six inspired and holy councils have purely and piously decreed , declaring most expressly the symbol of faith. For from the coming down of the Incarnate Word amongst us, all the Churches in every part of the world have possessed that greatest Church alone as their base and foundation, seeing that, according to the promise of Christ our Saviour, the gates of Hell do never prevail against it, that it possesses the keys of a right confession and faith in Him, that it opens the true and only religion to such as approach with piety, and shuts up and locks every heretical mouth that speaks injustice against the most High”. 

“[After telling his monk-disciple Anastasios that the Byzantines had told him that Rome was not in communion with the Monothelites & is ordering the whole church to subscribe to that doctrine, he continues in this letter with instructions to inquire into whether this was true]…Anasatios [a different one than Maximos’ monk-disciple to whom he writes this letter] ordered me to transcribe these things and to make them known to you most holy people, in order that, when you have found out about the trial from these, you might all bring a common prayer to the Lord on behalf of our common mother, that is the Catholic church, and on behalf of us your unworthy servants, for strengthening everyone and us also, persevering with you in it, according to the orthodox faith rightly preached in it by the holy fathers. For there is great fear in the whole world because this [Church] endures persecution by everyone at the same time, unless He [God] offers aid by his customary grace, He who always comes to aid, leaving the seed of piety at least in older Rome, confirming His promise he made to the prince of the Apostles, which does not deceive us(Letter of Maximos to Anastasius his disciple – CPG 7701, Clauis Patrum Graecorum, vols. 1-5, Corpus Christainorum. Gerhard, M.)


Now, lest I prove to be the only one who sees this in Maximos, I give you a quote from a Lutheran Scholar on Maximos, Dr. Lars Thunberg,  and he explains our Saints view of Roman primacy:

“In a somewhat fragmentary letter to Peter the Illustrious (from 643 or 644), which is preserved only in a Latin version, we find some explicit expressions of a very advanced theology about the position of the bishop of Rome. Maximus simply identified the see of Rome with the Catholic Church and he spoke of ‘the very holy Church of Rome, the apostolic see, which God the Word [Jesus] Himself and likewise all the holy Synods, according to the holy canons and the sacred definitions, have received, and which owns the power in all things and for all, over all the saints who are there for the whole inhabited earth, and likewise the power to unite and to dissolve….’
(Patr. Gr. 91, 144 C). Finally, in a letter written later in Rome, he made himself even more clear in the following maner: ‘...she [the Church of Rome] has the keys of the faith and of the orthodox confession; whoever approaches her humbly, to him is opened the real and unique piety, but she closes her moouth to any heretic who speaks against [divine] justice’ (Patr Gr 91, 140). This invites us to evaluate what Maximus had to say about the primacy of the pope. As Fr Garrigues has clearly shown (in an article in Istina, 1976), Maximus was convinced that Rome would never give way to the pressures of Constantinople. Once more forced to consider the possibility that in the case of Monotheletism the Romans might accept a union with the Byzantines, he answered through the paradoxical words of St. Paul, and said: ‘The Holy Spirit condemns… even the angels that would proclaim anything which is contrary to the Gospel’. (Patr Gr 90, 121). This implies that he did not want to discuss an improbable hypothesis, but would rather declare that he was prepared to die for the truth. This statement is a good starting point for a clarification of his own attitude. His personal experience of the doctrinal position of Rome confirmed his conviction that the promises of our Lord to Peter were applicable to the Church that preserved his relics. Thus, for him the communion of the Churches expressed itself as ‘a Roman communion’, a communion with the bishop of Rome. One must remember that for Maximus there existed only one alternative, represented by Imperial policy with its linke between Church and State, and that alternative could not enjoy the same promises. Even sacramental signs were missing in the latter case.”
(The Vision of St Maximus the Confessor: Man and the Cosmos- Lars Thunberg, Page 25-26)


                                                             Pope Agatho (678-681)

“Resting on Peter’s protection, this Apostolic Church of his has never turned aside from the way of truth to any part of error, and her authority has always been faithfully followed and embraced as that of the prince of the Apostles by the whole Catholic Church and all Councils, and by all the venerable Fathers who embraced her doctrine…..and she [the Roman church], by the grace of almighty God, will be proved never to have wandered from the path of apostolic tradition, nor to have succumbed to the novelties of heretics; but even as in the beginning of the Christian faith she received it from her founders, the princes of the Apostles of Christ, so she remains unspotted to the end, according to the divine promise of our Lord and Savior Himself…which He spoke to the prince of His apostles in the holy Gospels: ‘Peter, Peter, says He, behold Satan has desired to have you, that he might sift you as he who sifts wheat; but I have prayed for thee, that they faith fail not, and thou one day being converted, strengthen thy brethren’. Let your clemency [Emperor Constantine] therefore consider that the Lord and Savior of all, to whom faith belongs, who promised that the faith of Peter should not fail, admonished him to confirm his brethren; and it is known to all men that the Apostolic Pontiffs [of Rome], predecessors of my littleness, have always done this with confidence…” (Letter of Pope St. Agatho to the Byzantine Emperor & Council of Constantinople III – AD 681)

Agatho had apologized on behalf of the letter of Honorius in his letter to Emperor Constantine IV and the sixth council. He went on to say,  “The heretics have followed some passing expressions imprudently set down by one Pope, who made no appeal to his papal authority, nor to tradition from St. Peter. Against this I put the repeated, the continuous protest of Pope after Pope, authoritative, grave, and deliberate. Their voice was intended to be, and was, the voice of the infallible Roman Church”.  This shows that there was already in the 7th century a certain condition that would distinguish non-infallible Papal teaching and ones which do not have this sort of definitive character.


                                                             Pope Hadrian I (772-795)

“Let that false assembly, which without the Apostolic See … was held contrary to the traditions of the venerable fathers against the divine images, be declared anathema in the presence of our delegates, and let the word of our Lord Jesus Christ be fulfilled, that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against her” (Matt. 16:18); and again: ‘Thou art Peter …’ (Matt. 16:18–19), whose throne holding the first place in all the world shines forth and holds its place as the head of the whole Church of God.”  – This was read at the 7th Ecumenical Council of Nicaea II (787).
(From epistle (1) “Quod ad dilectionem” to the schismatic bishops of Istria, about 585; Denzinger, H., & Rahner, K. (Eds.). (1954). The sources of Catholic dogma. (R. J. Deferrari, Trans.) (p. 94). St. Louis, MO: B. Herder Book Co.)

Theodore Abu Qurrah,  approximately 820 AD- Arabic Chalcedonian Bishop

“You should understand that the head of the Apostles was Saint Peter, to whom Christ said, “You are the rock; and on this rock I shall build my church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it.” After his resurrection, he also said to him three times, while on the shore of the sea of Tiberius, “Simon, do you love me? Feed my lambs, rams and ewes.” In another passage, he said to him, “Simon, Satan will ask to sift you like wheat, and I prayed that you not lose your faith; but you, at that time, have compassion on your brethren and strengthen them.” Do you not see that Saint Peter is the foundation of the Church, selected to shepherd it, that those who believe in his faith will never lose their faith, and that he was ordered to have compassion on his brethren and to strengthen them?

As for Christ’s words, “I have prayed for you, that you not lose your faith; but you, have compassion on your brethren, at that time, and strengthen them”, we do not think that he meant Saint Peter himself. Rather, he meant nothing more than the holders of the seat of Saint Peter, that is, Rome. Just as when he said to the apostles, “I am with you always, until the end of the age”, he did not mean just the apostles themselves, but also those who would be in charge of their seats and their flocks; in the same way, when he spoke his last words to Saint Peter, “Have compassion, at that time, and strengthen your brethren; and your faith will not be lost”, he meant by this nothing other than the holders of his seat.

Yet another indication of this is the fact that among the Apostles it was Saint Peter alone who lost his faith and denied Christ, which Christ may have allowed to happen to Peter so as to teach us that it was not Peter that he meant by these words. Moreover, we know of no Apostle who fell and needed Saint Peter to strengthen him. If someone says that Christ meant by these words only Saint Peter himself, this person causes the Church to lack someone to strengthen it after the death of Saint Peter. How could this happen, especially when we see all the sifting of the Church that came from Satan after the Apostles’ death? All of this indicates that Christ did not mean them by these words. Indeed, everyone knows that the heretics attacked the Church only after the death of the Apostles – Paul of Samosata, Arius, Macedonius, Eunomius, Sabelllius, Apollinaris, Origen, and others. If he meant by these words in the Gospel only Saint Peter, the Church would have been deprived of comfort and would have had no one to deliver her from those heretics, whose heresies are truly “the gates of hell”, which Christ said would not overcome the Church. Accordingly, there is no doubt that he meant by these words nothing other than the holders of the seat of Saint Peter, who have continually strengthened their brethren and will not cease to do so as long as this present age lasts.”

– From On the Councils by Theodore Abu Qurrah, Bishop of Haran, Syria (+820)

Source: Theodore Abu Qurrah. John C. Lamoreaux, translator. (Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 2005), pp. 68-69; 128.

“As for us, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, our sole goal is to build ourselves on the foundation of Saint Peter, he who directed the six holy councils. These councils were gathered by command of the Bishop of Rome, the city of the world. Whoever sits on that city’s throne is authorized by Christ to have compassion on the people of the Church, by summoning the ecumenical council, and to strengthen them, even as we have demonstrated in other places. We ask Christ to confirm us in this forever, that we might inherit through it his kingdom, in that we have joined with it the doing of his commandments. To him be praise, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit, forever and forever.”

– From On the Death of Christ by the same author

Source: Theodore Abu Qurrah. John C. Lamoreaux, translator. (Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 2005), pp. 68-69; 128.


                                              St. Theodore the Studite Monk (759-826)

“I witness now before God and men, they have torn themselves away from the body of Christ, from the supreme see, in which Christ placed the keys of the faith, against which the gates of hell (I mean the mouths of heretics) have not prevailed, and never will until the consummation, according to the promise of Him who cannot lie. Let the most blessed and apostolic Pope Paschal rejoice therefore, for he has fulfilled the work of Peter” (PG 99, 1281)


“We venerate images….not because we are assured that we are right by the second holy synod of Nicaea or by that which earlier decided divinely, but from the very coming of our lord and God in writing and without writing we have been made firm and rest securely upon that [Roman] See to which Christ say – you are Peter , and upon this rock I will build my church , and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it(PG 99, 1117)

                                                               Pope Nicholas I (800-867)

“…Furthermore, if you do not listen to us [Rome], it remains that you be held by us as our Lord Jesus Christ enjoins us to hold those who refuse to hear the Church of God; especially since the privileges of the Roman Church confirmed in St. peter by the words of Christ, ordained in the Church itself, observed from of old, proclaimed by the holy universal synods and ever venerated by the whole Church, can by no means be diminished, infringed, or altered, since no effort of man has power to remove a foundation which God has laid, and what God has established stands firm and unshakable….These privileges, then, were bestowed on this holy Church by Christ: they were not bestowed by the Synod but were merely proclaimed and held in veneration by them….it is immediately clear that the judgments of the Apostolic See, than which there is no greater authority, cannot be handled by any other tribunal, nor is it permissible for any to sit in judgement upon its decision…..”
(Pope Nicholas, Preposueramus Quidem, 865 AD, to the Emperor Michael, Epistle 8; Mansi xv. 196)


                                           Councils of Constantinople (869-879)

Just before the Synod of Constantinople 879-80, Pope John VIII had written a letter to Emperor Basil I concerning the re-instating of Photius upon the death of St. Ignatius, who occupied the episcopal throne prior to. Photius had actually been reconciled to St. Ignatius, and actually canonized him after his death. This letter from John VIII contained clear indication of some of the basic elements of the definitions @ Vatican 1 on the founding and prerogatives of Papal power, and that in both Latin & Greek versions. Here is the passage I am referring to:

“Since it has seemed desirable to us to bring peace to the Church of God, we have sent our legates so that they might execute our will, even though, in your charity, you have already anticipated us, in reinstating Photius. We accept this action, which was done not by our own authority, even though we have the power to do it, but in obedience to the apostolic teachings. Since in fact we have received the keys of the kingdom of heaven from the High Priest, Jesus Christ, by the intermediary of the First of the Apostles to whom the Lord said: ‘I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; everything which you will bind upon earth will be found to be bound in heaven and everything which you will loose upon earth, will be found to be loosed in heaven’; therefore this apostolic throne [Roman bishop] has the power to bind and loose, and this according to the words of Jeremiah, to uproot and to plant. This is why, by the authority of Peter, the prince of the Apostles, we announce to you in union with the whole Church and through you as intermediary, we announce to our dear confreres and concelebrants, the patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem and to the other bishops and priests and to all the Church of Constantinople, that we are in agreement with you, or rather in agreement with God, and that we consent to your reques…Accept this man without any hesitation” (Mansi 17, 400)

The Greek version of this part of John’s letter was retained, and it shows us that Constantinople knew of the Papal claims to universal jurisdiction by year 9th century. Now, you will notice the reference to the Jeremiah passage (1:10) by the words “to uproot and to plant”. This allusion was actually used by Pope Nicholas I to describe the Imperial power of the Emperor Michael [predecessor to Basil]. So it is most probable that both Photius and Basil knew that this language of uprooting and planting was referring to jurisdiction-power.

Photius not only understood the claims of Rome then, but he writes in a letter to John the following:

“we may well ask who is the master who has taught you to act in this fashion? – surely, above all, it is Peter, the leaders of the Apostles whom the Lord has placed at the head of all the churches, when he said to him ‘Feed My sheep’. Nor is it only Peter, but also the holy synods and constitutions. And besides, it was the holy and orthodox decrees established by the fathers, as is clear from your divine and holy letters”
(Francis Dvornik , Byzantium and the Roman Primacy, pg. 107-118)

Photius the Great (810-891)

At the Council of C’ople (869), the Papal legates require that every Bishop should sign and deliver to them for transmission to the Pope a profession of faith which says the following:

“Because the sentence of our Lord Jesus Christ cannot be past by , who ways, ‘Thou art Peter, and aupon this rock I will build my Church’, these words are proved by the real effect which has followed; because in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has ever been kept immaculate, and holy doctrine celebrated there. Wherefore, by no mens desiring to be separated from its faith and doctrine, and following in all things the constitutions of the Fathers, and chiefly of the holy Prelates of the Apostolic See, we anathematize all heresies…Condemning particularly, Photius and Gregory of Syracuse, parricides, that is, who have not feared to put out their tongue against their Spiritual father [Pope Nicholas of Rome]. Since, following in all things the Apostolic See, and observing in all things the Apostolic See, and observing in all things its constitutions, we hope that we may be worthy to be in one communion which the Apostolic See sets forth, in which is the complete and true solidity of the Christian religion. But this my profession I have written with my own hand, and delivered to thee, most holy Hadrian [the Pope current] Supreme Pontiff and Universal Pope” (Mansi XVI , 27)

Also, at this very Council in 869 was read a letter from Patriarch Ignatius of C’ople to Pope Nicholas, and it was approved….and it said:

Of the wounds and sores of human members, art has produced many physicians; of whom one has treated this disease, and another tha, using in their experience amputation or cure. But of these, which are in the members of our Saviour Christ and God, the Head of us all, and of His spouse the Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Supreme Chief and most powerful Word, Orderer, and Healer, and Master, the God of all, hath produced one singular pre-eminent and most Catholic physician, your fraternal Holiness, and paternal goodness. Wherefore He said to Peter, the great and supreme Apostle, ‘Thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church’, and again, ‘I will give to you the keys of the kingdom, and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven’. For such blessed words He did not, surely, according to a sort of lot, circumscribe and define to the prince of the Apostles alone [to exclusively Peter], but transmitted by him [Peter] to all , who, after him, according to him, were to be made supreme pastors, and most divine and sacred Pontiffs of OLDEN ROME. And, therefore, from of old, and the ancient times, when heresies and contradictions have arisen, many of those who preceded there your Holiness and supreme Paternity, have many times been made the pluckers-up and destroyers of evil tares, and of sick members, plague-struck and incurable: being, that is, successors of the prince of the Apostles, and imitating his zeal in the faith, according to Christ: and now in our times, your Holiness hath worthily exercised the power given to you by Christ” (Mansi, XVI, 47)

Another letter was read and approved from Pope Nicholas to the Emperor Michael :

“That headship of divine power, which the Maker of all things has bestowed on his elect Apostles, he hath, by establishing its solidity on the unshaken faith of Peter, prince of the Apostles, made his see pre-eminent, yea, the First. For, by the word of the Lord it was said to him, ‘Thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church’. Moreover, Peter so entirely ceases not to maintain for his own people the structure of the Universal Church unshaken and rooted in the strength of faith, from the firmness of the Rock, which is Christ, that he hastens to reform by the rule of right faith the madness of the wandering. For, according to the faithful maintenance of the Apostolical tradition, as yourselves know, the holy Fathers have often met, by whom it has both been resolved and observed, that without the consent of the Roman See and the Roman Pontiff no emergent deliberation should be terminated” (Mansi XVI, 59)

To Photius himself Pope Nicholas says, as read in the same Council:

“Because the whole number of believers seeks doctrine, asks for the integrity of the faith, and those who are worthy the deliverance from crimes — from this holy Roman Church, which is the head of all churches, it behoves us, to whom it is entrusted, to be anxious, and the more fervently to be set on watch over the Lord’s flock…” (Mansi XVI, 69)

Also, another letter is read @ the Council of 869, and approved…from Pope Nicholas to all Archbishops, Metropolitans, and Bishops subject to C’ople:

“Wherefore, because, as your wisdom knows, we are bound by the care of all Christ’s sheep, holding through the abundance of heavenly grace, his place, to whom is especially said by God, ‘Feed My sheep’, and again ‘And thou, when thou are converted, confirm they brethren’ we could not dissimulate or reglect, but that we should visit our sheep dispersed and scattered, and confirm in the faith and good conduct our brethren and neighbors” (Mansi XVI , 101)

And in the 2nd Canon of the same Council, it states

“Obey those set over you, and be subject to them, for they watch for your souls, as those that shall give account: thus Paul the great Apostle commands. Therefore, holding the most blessed Pope Nicholas for the organ of the Holy Spirit, as too, most holy Pope Hadrian, his successor, we decree and approve that all things, which by them at different times have been set forth and promulged synodically, as well for the defense of the Church of Constantinople, as for the expulsion of the Photius, be kept and maintained” (Mansi XVI, 160)

And in the 21st canon it forbids an Ecumenical Council “boldly to give sentence against the supreme Pontiffs of elder Rome” (Mansi XVI, 174)


Pope Leo IX (1053 AD)

“…The Holy Church has been built upon a rock, that is, upon Christ, and upon Peter, the son of John, who was first called Simon. It was so built because it never was to be conquered by the gates of hell, that is, by heretical opinions which lead the unwary to destruction. This is the promise of truth itself who is the cause of all that is true: ‘The gates of hell shall not prevail against it’. The same Son of God bears witness that by his prayers he obtained the fulfillment of this promise from the Father, for he said to Peter, ‘Simon , Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you…but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail’. Will there be anyone whose will is power to do, can be devoid of effect? Is it not by the see of the prince of the Apostles, namely, by this Roman church, both by this same Peter and by his successors, that all the inventions of heretics stand condemned, exposed, and overcome? Are not the hears of the brethren strengthened in the faith of Peter which has not failed thus far and will not fail till the end of time?” (Letter from Pope Nicholas to Michael Cerularius 1053; The Church Teaches: Documents of the Church in English Translation, Page 71)
“… You are said to have condemned publicly in a strange presumption and incredible boldness the Apostolic and Latin Church, neither heard nor refuted, for the reason chiefly that it dared to celebrate the commemoration of the passion of the Lord from the Azymes. Behold your incautious reprehension, behold your evil boasting, when “you put your mouth into heaven. When your tongue passing on to the earth” [Ps. 72:9], by human arguments and conjectures attempts to uproot and overturn the ancient faith.…
… The holy Church built upon a rock, that is Christ, and upon Peter or Cephas, the son of John who first was called Simon, because by the gates of Hell, that is, by the disputations of heretics which lead the vain to destruction, it would never be overcome; thus Truth itself promises, through whom are true, whatsoever things are true: “The gates of hell will not prevail against it” [Matt. 16:18]. The same Son declares that He obtained the effect of this promise from the Father by prayers, by saying to Peter: “Simon, behold Satan etc.” [Luke 23:31]. Therefore, will there be anyone so foolish as to dare to regard His prayer as in anyway vain whose being willing is being able? By the See of the chief of the Apostles, namely by the Roman Church, through the same Peter, as well as through his successors, have not the comments of all the heretics been disapproved, rejected, and overcome, and the hearts of the brethren in the faith of Peter which so far neither has failed, nor up to the end will fail, been strengthened?… By passing a preceding judgment on the great See, concerning which it is not permitted any man to pass judgment, you have received anathema from all the Fathers of all the venerable Councils… As the hinge while remaining immovable opens and closes the door, so Peter and his successors have free judgment over all the Church, since no one should remove their status because “the highest See is judged by no one.”
(From the epistle “In terra pax hominibus” to Michael Cerularius and to Leo of Achrida, September 2, 1053 ; Denzinger, H., & Rahner, K. (Eds.). (1954). The sources of Catholic dogma. (R. J. Deferrari, Trans.) (p. 142). St. Louis, MO: B. Herder Book Co.)

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St. Theodore of Canterbury says Filioque (A.D. 680)

The most remarkable instance of the continuance of the formula, ‘of the Son’, at this period is our great Archbishop Theodore, himself a native of Tarsus, well versed, as is shown in his Penitential, in the usages of the Greek church, with which he parallels or contrasts those of the West. He shows himself also familiar with the Greek fathers, and the East of his own day had such confidence in him, that the 6th General Council waited for him. On Sept. 17 A.D. 680 , not quite two months before the opening of the 6th General Council, Nov. 7, A.D. 680, he presided over the Council of Hatfield, in which the Confession of faith was drawn up, which embodied the Filioque:

In it, it is declared:

We have expounded the right and orthodox faith, as our Lord Jesus Christ, Incarnate, delivered to His Apostles who saw Him in bodily presence, and heard His discourses, and delivered the Creed of the holy fathers: and in general all the sacred and universal synods and the whole choir of the Catholic approved doctors of the church [have delivered it]

And then after a brief confession of faith in the Holy Trinity in Unity, and of the Lateran Council of A.D. 649, it thus concludes : —

And we glorify our Lord Jesus Christ as they glorified Him, adding nothing, taking away nothing: and we anathematize in heart and word whom they anathematized: we receive whom they received: glorifying God the Father without beginning, and His Only-begotten Son, Begotten of the Father before all ages: and the Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, ineffably; as those holy Apostles, and prophets, and doctors, whom we above commemorated, have preached

On the Filioque: In Regard to the Eastern Church, Edward Bouverie Pusey – Page 125-26

Picture from –

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Church of Antioch the See of Peter ?


The Roman See has always applauded the see of Antioch as being the very first See of St. Peter. However, Peter as an Apostle did not reside in Antioch unto the end, and thus another took the episcopate of Antioch *while Peter was alive*. Thus, the Petrine succession of Antioch is of a different nature than the Petrine succession @ Rome since the primatial office of St. Peter is not given to two co-existing persons, but only one, and since Peter took office in Rome, it was the successor *there* which is a successor to peter’s primacy. Although, it is still appropriate to speak of an Petri-Antiochene succession, only with the proper distinctions stated above.

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The Greeks on Matthew 16, John 21, and Luke 23


The Greeks were consistently interpreting the 3 passages (Matt 16, John 21, Luke 23) as pertaining to Peter’s primacy, and via inheritance, the prerogative of Peter’s chair. Below is a florigelium of Greek interpretation from the 5th to 9th centuries:

St. +Cyril of Alexandria, writing in his commentary on the gospel according to St. Matthew (444), says, “that by the words ‘on this rock I shall build my church’, Christ makes Peter its Pastor, literally he places Peter over it as shepherd” – Ταύτης ποιμένα τόν Πέτρον έφίστησω (Patrologia Graeca 72, 423)
St. + Gregory of Nyssa, spoke in a recorded sermon (395) saying that Peter is the head of the Church, “According to the privilege granted him by the Lord, Peter is that unbreakable and most solid rock upon which the Savior built His church” – ή άρραγής καί όχυρωτάτη πέτρα έφ ήν τήν Έκκλησίαν ό Σωτήρ ώκοδόμησε (Patrologia Graeca 46, 733)
St. John Chrysostom taught that St. Peter was the “leader of the Apostles” in his 88th homily in St. John’s gospel (PG 59, 478), and even went further than this. In his 5th homily on “Penitence”, Chrysostom writes that after Peter had been restored to his former apostleship after committing the three-fold denial, he was also given “jurisdiction over the universal church” (PG 49, 308).
Again, in his 8th discourse on the Jews, he writes on how the repentance of Peter wiped out his fault and , “he becomes again head of the Apostles and the whole world is committed to his care” (PG 48, 951)
During the Monophysite fall out in the East, there were bishops who were strongly Chalcedonian, and thus, wished above all to retain the communion of the Apostolic See. A famous letter of appeal was written to Rome, and these Greeks openly declared the following about Pope Symmachus (512 AD):
“…but for the precious salvation not only of the East, but of three parts almost of the inhabited world, redeemed, not with corruptible gold or silver, but with the precious blood of the Lamb of God, according to the doctrine of the blessed prince of the glorious Apostles, whose See Christ, the Good Shepherd, has entrusted to your blessedness….You have not only received the power of binding, but also that of loosing, in accordance with the example of the Master, those who long have been in bonds, nor only the power of uprooting and of destroying, but also that of planting and rebuilding, as Jeremias, or rather, as Jesus Christ, of whom Jeremias was the type….You are not ignorant of this malice, you whom Peter, your blessed Doctor, teaches always to shepherd, not by violence but by an authority fully accepted, the sheep of Christ which are entrusted to you in all the habitable world.” (Mansi viii. 221)
“Two bishop of Thessalonica wrote the following to Pope Boniface II (521): “For these things we appeal to your blessedness and the Apostolic See, and through it we believe we hear and adore thrice blessed Peter, and the chief Shepherd of the Church, Christ our Lord” (Mansi, viii, 748)
Patriarch St. Sophronius of Jerusalem had commissioned St. Stephen of Dor to appeal to the Roman See in order to procure the condemnation of the Monothelites occupying the Eastern Patriarchates. Stephen describes this aloud at the Council of Lateran 649:
““And for this cause, sometimes we asked for water to our head and to our eyes a fountain of tears, sometimes the wings of a dove, according to holy David, that we might fly away and announce these things to the Chair which rules and presides over all, I mean to yours, the Head and Highest, for the healing of the whole wound. For this it has been accustomed to do from of old and from the beginning with power by its canonical and apostolical authority, because the truly great Peter , head of the Apostles, was clearly thought worthy not only to be entrusted with the keys of heaven, alone apart from the rest, to open it worthily to believers, or to close it justly to those who disbelieve the gospel of grace, but because he was also first commissioned to feed the sheep of the whole Catholic Church; for ‘Peter’, said He, ‘Do you love me? Feed my sheep’, and again , because he had in a manner peculiar and special, a faith in the Lord stronger than all and unchangeable, to be converted and to confirm his fellows and spiritual brethren when tossed about, as having been adorned by God himself, incarnate for us, with power and sacerdotal authority…I was urged by the requests of almost all the pious bishops of the East in agreement with the departed Sophronius…Without delay I made this journey for this purpose alone; and since then thrice have I run to you Apostolic Feet, urging and beseeching the prayer of Sophronius and of all, that is, that you will assist the imperiled faith of Christians”” (Acts of Lateran Synod 649, Richard Price)
St. Theodore the Studite (+826) wrote a letter to Pope Paschal I, and in it reads:
“Hear me, O Head of the Apostles, placed by God as Shepherd of the Sheep of Christ, holder of the keys of the kingdom of heaven, the rock of faith on which the Catholic Church has been built. For you are Peter; you adorn the throne of Peter and rule from it” (PG 99-1151).
And as insincere as one would like to think it is, the words of Photius the Great (9th century) to Pope John VIII:
“We may well ask who is the Master who has taught you to act in this fashion? — surely, above all, it is Peter, the leader of the Apostles whom the Lord has placed at the head of all the churches, when He said to him: ‘Feed my sheep’. ” (Mansi 17, 396D; MGH, Epp. VII, 167)
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