Papacy Debate

Is the modern role of the Papacy a legitimate development of doctrine from the early church?

With these conditions one can speak of the extraordinary papal Magisterium, whose definitions are unreformable per se, and not from the consent of the Church" (ex sese, non autem ex consensu ecclesiae).

This means that these definitions do not need the consent of the bishops in order to be valid, neither an antecedent consent, nor a consequent consent, "since they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, promised to him in blessed Peter, and therefore they need no approval of others, nor do they allow an appeal to any other judgment"

From "The Holy Spirit Assists the Roman Pontiff" Pope John Paul II General Audience March 24, 1993. An Orthodox bishop must always speak NON ex sese, not from himself. He must speak ex consensu ecclesiae, in the name of the Church. This is the opposite of the Vatican formula. The Orthodox position is identical with that of the Council of Jerusalem -"It hath seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us." This conciliar formula is used many times also in the Acts of the Ecumenical Councils. This is in stark contrast to the Pope whose formula runs along the lines: "I declare, I proclaim, I define...."

Read the above words several times, and ponder them in light of what we know about the early church and the Fathers. There is nothing concilliar here. The Pope can act without the consent of the church and the other bishops with no avenues for appeal. Absolute power. That puts the Pope on a completely different plane from every other ecclesiastical office. It is a monumental claim made all the more extraordinary coming eighteen centuries after the time of Christ.

"Such a momentous empowerment on the person of Peter by Christ Himself should have resonated throughout the entire Church, the enormity of the commission sweeping away any ambiguity and reflecting complete unanimity among the Fathers of the Church as to its meaning. As Pope Leo XIII writes in his encyclical Satis Cognitum, it is "the venerable and constant belief of every age" recognized "always and everywhere and by all". This encyclical insists that the papal claims based on the Petrine text from Matthew are jure divino, (by Divine law), which means that Bishops of Rome enjoyed universal jurisdiction and the charism of infallible teaching from the very beginning. Satis Cognitum pointedly excludes the theory that papal power was a result of gradual development, for it states that "in the decree of the Vatican Council as to the nature and authority of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff, no newly conceived opinion is set forth, but the venerable and constant belief of every age". i.e. It was there in its fullness from the beginning, or it isn't there at all." (1)

Understanding the role of the bishop of Rome in the early church is not an easy thing to do. A lot of water has gone under the bridge in 2000 years, and getting an unbiased understanding today requires us to examine many issues. Because I'll be arguing from the point of view of eastern orthodox christianity, there is an important subtlety that must be kept in mind at all times. And that is that Orthodoxy recognizes that the bishop of Rome held a first place of honour in the early church. Orthodoxy calls this "primacy", coming from the Latin "primus" meaning "first". Of course, if something is first, it implies that there is also a second, third and fourth. What Orthodoxy accuses Roman Catholicism of teaching is papal supremacy, where the Pope is supreme over the church, and there really isn't any number two, three and four, because nobody else has a power and charism even comparable to the Pope. It is important throughout this debate not to lose site of the distinction between primacy and supremacy, since I will be arguing against the latter, but in favour of the former as the practice of the early church.

Why Rome Has Primacy

I would argue that the reason Rome had primacy is the reason stated in 28th Canon of Chalcedon, namely that it was the Imperial city:

Following in every way the decrees of the holy fathers and recognising the canon which has recently been read out--the canon of the 150 most devout bishops who assembled in the time of the great Theodosius of pious memory, then emperor, in imperial Constantinople, new Rome -- we issue the same decree and resolution concerning the prerogatives of the most holy church of the same Constantinople, new Rome. The fathers rightly accorded prerogatives to the see of older Rome, since that is an imperial city; and moved by the same purpose the 150 most devout bishops apportioned equal prerogatives to the most holy see of new Rome, reasonably judging that the city which is honoured by the imperial power and senate and enjoying privileges equalling older imperial Rome, should also be elevated to her level in ecclesiastical affairs and take second place after her. The metropolitans of the dioceses of Pontus, Asia and Thrace, but only these, as well as the bishops of these dioceses who work among non-Greeks, are to be ordained by the aforesaid most holy see of the most holy church in Constantinople. That is, each metropolitan of the aforesaid dioceses along with the bishops of the province ordain the bishops of the province, as has been declared in the divine canons; but the metropolitans of the aforesaid dioceses, as has been said, are to be ordained by the archbishop of Constantinople, once agreement has been reached by vote in the usual way and has been reported to him. ~Council of Chalcedon

We shall return later to discussing the 28th Canon of Chalcedon, but the point to make here is that 150 bishops of the Catholic Church stated their understanding, circa 451 AD of why the Roman bishop had primacy.

Note also, the original ordering of honour was Rome, Alexandria then Antioch. I think it's no coincidence that in the ancient world, Alexandria was without doubt the second most important city in the empire. There can be no other explanation of why Alexandria was number two in honour, than its secular status in the ancient world. Antioch was a Petrene see, whereas Alexandria was not. Furthermore, Jerusalem was not elevated to being an apostolic see until Chalcedon in 451, despite it having the unique distinction of being founded by all the apostles, putting it several steps ahead of even Rome.

Of course, by stating the primary reason of Rome's primacy being the imperial city, that reason by itself would not have been sufficient without the status of being founded by the apostles. Prior to around the 8th century it was common to identify Paul and Peter as both founding the church in Rome, and both equally contributing to the significant status of the Roman church. It is not until later when the theory of Petrine primacy develops further that Paul's role is nearly forgotten, and the Petrine office becomes the only factor of significance.

In this day and age, when Constantinople exists no longer and Istanbul is an almost entirely Muslim city, it's hard to imagine the completely reversed situation which existed in the 5th century. Constantinople, as the empire's capital was wealthy, influential and secure. Rome on the other hand had been overun by the Huns and was to spend many many centuries in ruin and despair, a comparitive backwater town in a now outlying part of the empire. Rome was almost a ghost town, falling to pieces. It is no wonder that Rome was frequently ignored. Constantinople was "New Rome" and its inhabitants even refered to themselves as "Romans". Rome was alive and well, but she was in Byzantium, not Italy. In fact, in the earlier centuries of the Byzantine Empire, the Pope of Rome was subordinate politically to the Byzantine Emperor, who sat in Constantinople. Up until the eighth century the pope was in fact even appointed by the Emperor or, more directly, through his civil governor in Italy.

Pope Leo teaches that both Peter and Paul founded the church of Rome, and that we must not distinguish the merits of each of them in that role. How different this is to today where it is Peter's supposed founding of the papacy in Rome which is the foundation of the church.
I. Rome Owes Its High Position to These Apostles. The whole world, dearly-beloved, does indeed take part in all holy anniversaries, and loyalty to the one Faith demands that whatever is recorded as done for all men's salvation should be everywhere celebrated with common rejoicings. But, besides that reverence which to-day's festival has gained from all the world, it is to be honoured with special and peculiar exultation in our city, that there may be a predominance of gladness on the day of their martyrdom in the place where the chief of the Apostles met their glorious end . For these are the men, through whom the light of Christ's gospel shone on thee, O Rome, and through whom thou, who wast the teacher of error, wast made the disciple of Truth.... ... VII. No Distinction Must Be Drawn Between the Merits of the Two. And over this band, dearly-beloved, whom God has set forth for our example in patience and for our confirmation in the Faith, there must be rejoicing everywhere in the commemoration of all the saints, but of these two Fathers' excellence we must rightly make our boast in louder joy, for God's Grace has raised them to so high a place among the members of the Church, that He has set them like the twin light of the eyes in the body, whose Head is Christ. About their merits and virtues, which pass all power of speech, we must not make distinctions, because they were equal in their election, alike in their toils, undivided in their death. But as we have proved for Ourselves, and our forefathers maintained, we believe, and are sure that, amid all the toils of this life, we must always be assisted in obtaining God's Mercy by the prayers of special interceders, that we may be raised by the Apostles' merits in proportion as we are weighed down by our own sins. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, &c. Leo "Sermon LXXXII. On the Feast Of the Apostles Peter and Paul (June 29).

However, the oldest sources identify the first bishop of Rome as Linus, having been appointed by Paul, not Peter! This would certainly accord better with the record of the New Testament, where Paul takes the role of apostle to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:8), and visits Rome, whereas at the close of the New Testament record, there is no indication as yet that Peter had any contact with Rome at all.

The Apostolic Constitutions (Book VII Section IV) states: "Now concerning those bishops which have been ordained in our lifetime, we let you know that they are these: ... Of the church of Rome, Linus the son of Claudia was the first, ordained by Paul; and Clemens, after Linus' death, the second, ordained by me Peter."

The Apostolic Church Elder Irenaeus, a disciple of Polycarp (Born cir. A.D. 130) and later Bishop of Smyrna, also confirms Linus' appointment. He wrote: "After the Holy Apostles founded and set the Church in order (in Rome) they gave over the exercise of the episcopal office to Linus. The same Linus is mentioned by St. Paul in his Epistle to Timothy [II Tim 4:21]. His successor was Anacletus." (Adv. haereses, III, iii, 3). Also, "The apostles, having founded and built up the Church at Rome, committed the ministry of its supervision to Linus. This is the Linus mentioned by Paul in his Epistle to Timothy." (Irenaei Opera Lib. III. C.I.)

Who are these "apostles" that committed the ministry to Linus, according to Irenaeus? If this is supposed to be Peter handing the office over to Linus, are we to believe that Peter handed the supremacy over to Linus, leaving himself without primacy? But if Peter handed the supremacy over to Linus before going elsewhere, how are we to know that Peter left the supremacy to be forever associated with the position of bishop of Rome? From the point of view of the Apostolic Constitutions, Peter was never even the bishop of Rome, but rather he selected the second successor to that position.

Whatever the facts are concerning exact succession, the important point is that the early church was according to Rome honour because of the part both Peter and Paul had in founding the church and appointing the first bishops. The dogmatic understanding of the bishops of Rome neatly descending from Peter and thus inheriting supremacy is a later development.

So shouldn't we say that Rome had primacy because of both its imperial status AND because of its founding by Peter and Paul? I do not believe so. Whilst Rome's apostolic credentials were necessary, they were certainly not unique to Rome. Indeed Antioch and Jerusalem and probably other cities could claim to have Peter and Paul among its founders.

But Roman Catholic apologists, upon mention of Antioch, would often say "yes, but Peter was in Rome last, and the early Church unanimously considered the bishops of Rome to hold Peter's "chair". However, this is not so clear. The early church celebrated the feast day of the "Chair of St Peter" on the 22 February, recorded in the document known as the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum" , and all the manuscripts assign the feast to Antioch, not to Rome. Martyrologium Hieronymianum appears to be an Italian document. Can you imagine a later Roman church celebrating a feast of the Chair of St Peter, and assigning it to Antioch?

"The Chair of Saint Peter at Antioch, where the disciples were first called Christians."
~ From the Martyrology, A.D. VIII Kal. March
Today's solemn feast received from our forefathers the name of Saint Peter's Chair at Antioch, because of a tradition that on this day Peter, first of the Apostles, took possession of his episcopal Chair. Fitly, therefore, do the churches observe the day of his enthronement, the right to which the Apostle received for the sake of salvation (which cometh to us in the churches,) when the Lord said : Thou art Peter, and upon this Rock I will build my Church.

It was the Lord himself who called Peter the foundation of the Church, and therefore it is right that the Church should reverence this foundation whereon her mighty structure riseth. Justly it is written in the Psalm which we so often chant : Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the seat of the elders. Blessed be God, who hath commanded that the holy Apostle Peter be exalted in the congregation!

Worthy to be honoured by the Church is that foundation from which her goodly towers rise, pointing to heaven! In the honour which is this day paid to the inauguration of the first bishop's throne, an honour is paid to the office of the priesthood. Various churches pay to one another this tribute of mutual respect, for the more the priestly office is honoured, the more the dignity of the Church is enhanced.

~Saint Augustine of Hippo, Sermo 15 de Sanctis

Gregory the Great seems to argue that Rome, Alexandria AND Antioch are the sees of Peter where three bishops with his authority reside:

Wherefore though there are many apostles, yet with regard to the principality itself the See of the Prince of the apostles alone has grown strong in authority, which in three places is the See of one. For he himself exalted the See in which he deigned even to rest and end the present life [Rome]. He himself adorned the See to which he sent his disciple as evangelist [Alexandria]. He himself established the See in which, though he was to leave it, he sat for seven years [Antioch]. Since then it is the See of one, and one See, over which by Divine authority three bishops now preside, whatever good I hear of you, this I impute to myself. (Gregory the Great, Book VII, Epistle XL)

Can you imagine a modern Roman Catholic giving a sermon on Peter's chair, and saying it started in Antioch, yet never mentioning Rome or the papacy? Can you imagine him saying that the foundation from which the Church rises is Antioch?

Dioscurus, however, refuses to abide by these decisions; he is turning the see of he blessed Mark upside down; and these things he does though he perfectly well knows that the Antiochean metropolis possesses the throne of the great Peter, who was the teacher of the blessed Mark, and first and coryphaeus of he apostles" -- Theodoret, Epistle 86

Here Theodoret appeals to the authority of Antioch as being the "chair of Peter".

Chrysostom refers to John as "the pillar of the Churches" who "holds the keys of heaven". Can you imagine a modern Roman Catholic saying that anyone but Peter was "the pillar" or "held the keys"?
For [John] the son of thunder, the beloved of Christ, the pillar of the Churches throughout the world, who holds the keys of heaven, who drank the cup of Christ, and was baptized with His baptism, who lay upon his Master's bosom with much confidence, this man comes forward to us nowÖ. By this Apostle stand the powers from above, marveling at the beauty of his soul, and his understanding, and the bloom of that virtue by which he drew unto him Christ Himself, and obtained the grace of the Spirit. (St. John Chrysostom, First Homily on the Gospel of St. John).

Another side note should be made, which that the tradition of the Assyrian Church is that Peter preached and ultimately died in Babylon. How can Rome refute this counter claim? When you are claiming ultimate supremacy over the spiritual state of all mankind, it isn't good enough to say that perhaps there is a bit more evidence that Peter died in Rome. You would have to prove absolutely that your tradition is right, and the counter claim is wrong.

What is Primacy?

At an Eastern Church service where multiple clergy are present, every bishop and priest has a position of rank, and each takes his position in the service based on that. This doesn't mean that the higher ranks lord it over the lower ranks. It is an honorary status, a right to chair a meeting if you are the highest rank present. Some quotes will shed light on the early church's understanding of Peter's primacy:
Peter and John were equal in dignity and honour. Christ is the foundation of all - the unshakable rock upon which we are all built as a spiritual edifice. ~Cyril of Alexandria to Nestorius.
He has not the primacy over the disciples but among the disciples. His primacy among the disciples was the same as that of Stephen among the deacons. ~Augustine, Sermon 10 on Peter and Paul.
But observe how Peter does everything with common consent; nothing imperiiously. ~John Chrysostom, Homily III on Acts 1:12
To all the apostles after His resurrection He gives equal power (parem potestatem) and says "As the Father hath sent me, even so I send you: " ~Cyprian, De Unitate 4.
For neither did Peter, whom first the Lord chose... when Paul disputed with him afterwards about the circumcision, claim anything to himself unsolently, nor arrogantly assume anything, so as to say that he held a primacy, and that he ought to be obeyed by novices and those lately come. Cyprian, Epistle LXX concerning the baptism of heretics.
In the administration of the Church each bishop has the free discretion of his own will, having to account only to the Lord for his actions. None of us may set himself up as bishop of bishops., nor compel his brothers to obey him; every bishop of the Church has full liberty and complete power; as he cannot be judged by another, neither can he judge another (Cyprian's opening address to the Council of Carthage.
... through the changes of times and successions, the ordering of bishops and the plan of the Church flow onwards; so that the church is founded upon the bishops and every act of the Church is controlled by these same rulers. Since this then is founded on the divine law, I marvel that some, with daring temerity, have chosen to write to me as if they wrote in the name of the Church. ~Cyprian to the Lapsed, Epistle XXVI.
Where were the cries of heresy to these statements of Cyprian and others if the Bishop of Rome were the supreme head of the Church?

The Scriptural Record

Nicholas Koulomzine writes an essay in "The Primacy of Peter" (St Vladimir's Press)(37), where he undertakes to do a survey of the place of Peter and the apostles in the primitve church. He identifies three distinct stages: Peter in the primitive Church of Jerusalem (Acts 1-5), Peter at the beginning of the spread of the Gospel in the rest of the world (Acts 6-12), and Peter after he leaves Jerusalem.

Nicholas notes that the office of one of the Twelve was of a fixed number. After Matthias was replaced (According to Acts 1, because of Judas' unfaithfulness), none of the Twelve are replaced as they are martyred. And the criteria for being one of the Twelve, being an eyewitness to Jesus' ministry, would not be a criteria that would continue.

In the first period, where Peter is head of the college of the Twelve in Jerusalem, there are clear indications of his primacy over the college. The center of Church authority is the Twelve, and the Twelve are based in Jerusalem, the head Church.

However in the second period, with the death of one of the Twelve and the departure of Peter from Jerusalem, the college of the Twelve is a concept that fades from scripture.

In the third period, James is always referred to as running the church of Jerusalem. Despite Peter's departure, (Acts 12:17), Jerusalem is still considered the head church. When a controversy arose at Antioch, the leaders travelled to Jerusalem to find judgment. Apparently James presided over the council.

The scriptural record seems to indicate that Peter's primacy was over the college of the Twelve, and when the Twelve broke apart and scattered, the evidence of Peter retaining a primacy disappears with it.

In Galations 2:9 Paul refers to "James and Peter and John, who were reputed to be pillars". Peter isn't even mentioned first, and he is given no greater title. Could it be that Peter's preeminence in the Twelve was irrelevant once the Twelve scattered? In the Homolies of Clement, reputed to be the second bishop of Rome, James is referred to as "bishop of bishops". This document may or may not be by Clement, but it is certainly ancient, being referred to by Eusebius (325).

Clement of Alexandria too lists Peter as just one of the important apostles: "The Gift of knowledge was imparted by Jesus to James the Righteous, to John, and to Peter".

Paul was entrusted with the gospel to the gentiles, whereas Peter was only sent to the Jews - Gal 2:7. Isn't it a little odd that the universal pontiff, with jurisdiction over the whole church would be specifically delegated to the Jews while Paul went to the Gentiles?

Ephesians 2:19 says that the church was built upon the Apostles. Here was Paul's big chance to mention the more important of offices, the rock of the papacy on which Christ builds his church. But Paul never does so. Neither do any of the apostles.

The Shepherd of Hermas, which was considered by some in the early church to have the status of scripture, deals with the analogy of the Rock in relationship to Jesus. "First of all, sir," I said, "explain this to me: What is the meaning of the rock and the gate?" "This rock," he answered, "and this gate are the Son of God."

One might say that the Church adopted this model of primacy in the church, and the Church saw a parallel between the bishop of Rome's primacy and that of Peter. But as we will see from an examination of the ecumenical councils, this position of primacy was not by divine right, nor was it irrevocable. Nor did it convey any kind of supremacy of power, but rather only a supremacy of honour.

While the church has seen bishops as a kind of successors to the apostles, it has never seen bishops as having the actual power that the apostles had. The apostles wrote scripture. The apostles' doctrinal authority was absolute. But no bishop has such authority as the apostles had. How odd it is then that bishops of Rome claim more authority than there is any record of Peter ever claiming, whilst denying other bishops the same authority as say St Paul or St Matthew. How odd that Peter agreed for Paul to be apostle to the Gentiles while he confined himself to Jews (Galatians 2:8), whereas Popes claim jurisdiction over the entire world.

Did Peter Keep the Primacy?

How certain can we be that Peter retained any kind of primacy? How do we know the primacy didn't pass to another apostle? Some have somewhat facetiously listed reasons why either James or Paul had the primacy, at least later on.

James with the Primacy?

Paul with the Primacy?

John with the Primacy?

While we might consider the above as facetious, it does serve to point out that if we are looking to find a primacy and who it was bequeathed to, there is no evidence that it neatly comes down through bishops of Rome. We could easily form a view that it started with Peter, then was bequeathed to James when the twelve were broken up, then came to Paul as he became apostle to the gentiles, and then fell to John as last surviving apostle. After that we might say the bishop of Rome took the position because it was the Imperial city, as Chalcedon says. But all of this would be conjecture, because the early church was not discussing primacy. When the apostles brought it up in Luke 22:24-26, Jesus rebuked them for arguing about who is the greatest.

Is Rome's Primacy Revocable?

Roman Catholicism works under the assumption that Rome's place as number one is irrevocable. However, judging by the canons of the church, this does not appear to be the case. The original order of honour was Rome, Alexandria, Antioch then Jerusalem. But when Constantinople became the new capital, it began to acquire an increasing level of importance, so that at the council of Chalcedon, the bishops tried to make it official that Constantinople should take the position of #2 ahead of Alexandria.

The Pope complained in the strongest terms:
The church of Antioch too, in which first at the preaching of the blessed Apostle Peter the Christian name arose, must continue in the position assigned it by the Fathers, and being set in the third place must never be lowered therefrom.
~Saint Gregory the Great, Pope of Rome; Epistle CVI, to Anatolius, Bishop of Constantinople

However, on this issue, the Pope ultimately lost out, because later Rome finally acknowledged what the East had been practicing - Constantinople was indeed acknowledged as the #2 see. And so we find again, the ordering of the sees in the early church was according to secular status. It follows logically therefore that if sees can be promoted and demoted in the ordering, that Rome is capable of being demoted too. Orthodoxy would say that Rome has demoted itself completely off the list through heresy.

Council of Jerusalem - Birth of Conciliar Tradition

At the Council of Jerusalem recorded in Acts 15 we see the conciliar nature of the Church at work. If ever there was a time when the Roman Catholic position should have been in evidence it is here.

However, it is James who presides at the council and not Peter. After hearing the apostles James issues the judgement in the name of the "Apostles, Elders and Brethren", with no reference to the necessity of the Pope to ratify the council. John Chrysostom sums up the situation: "

There was no arrogance in the Church. After Peter Paul speaks, and none silences him: James waits patiently, not starts up (for the next word). Great the orderliness (of the proceedings). No word speaks John here, no word the other Apostles, but held their peace, for James was invested with the chief rule, and think it no hardship. So clean was their soul from love of glory. "And after that they had held their peace, James answered," etc. (v. 13.) Peter indeed spoke more strongly, but James here more mildly: for thus it behooves one in high authority, to leave what is unpleasant for others to say, while he himself appears in the milder part.~Upon the Acts of the Apostles, 33d Homily.
"This James whom the early Christians surnamed the Righteous because of his outstanding virtue was the first as the records tell us to be elected to the episcopal throne of the Jerusalem church. Clement in Outlines Book VI puts it thus: "Peter, James and John after the Ascension of he Saviour did not claim pre-eminence because the Saviour had specially honoured them, but chose James the Righteous as bishop of Jerusalem." ~Eusebius, History of the Church II.1
Let's look at what Paul had to say:
1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe's people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, "I am of Paul," and "I am of Apollos," and "I am of Peter," and "I am of Christ."
Here Paul emphasises the importance that "there be no divisions". How does Paul suggest that we ensure we agree with one another in unity? Perhaps by following Peter? No! Paul goes on to say that to follow Peter or any one apostle is a path away from unity. Only by following all the apostles in the unity of "same mind and same judgment" is unity obtained. (Concilliar!). To follow any one man is not the right path, even if that man is Peter himself. The Roman Catholic church is the classic case of "I am of Peter".

Eastern Ecclesiology

Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox find it hard to even understand each other, because each has a completely different ecclesiology. Sometimes Roman Catholics think of the bishop of Constantinople as an eastern Pope. The more sophisticated Roman Catholic realises that the bishop of Constantinople is not an Eastern Pope, but rather thinks that each of the major Orthodox jurisdictions has their own "pope" in the form of a Patriarch. However neither are true by a long shot. While the Popes in the west slowly acquired absolute power, Patriarchs actually have almost no power at all. Orthodoxy is consistent. When it says that Rome's position is primarily a place of honour, it is consistent in that being a Patriarch is also primarily a place of honour too. The Patriarch can do nothing without the approval of the synod of bishops. He can in no sense wield power the way that Popes have even in their own patriarchate. In fact, being an archbishop or a metropolitan bishop is really an honourary title too. It does not indicate that one has superiority over other bishops, let alone power.

This principle can be seen in the Orthodox liturgy which traditionally prays for the bishop, but makes no mention of the Patriarch and certainly not the Pope. In fairly recent times, some Orthodox jurisdictions (to the consternation of some) have started mentioning the hierarch in the liturgy as a practical measure to proclaim their canonicity to the faithful, in a sometimes confusing world of uncanonical churches. However the Eastern Catholic churches have well and truely departed from the tradition, in also listing the Pope in the liturgy. This is completely unheard of in traditional Orthodoxy, to list a foreign patriarch in the liturgy.

In summary, it isn't just the fact of the papacy that Orthodox have a problem with, it is the entire idea of a bishop with supreme power that is completely foreign to Orthodoxy. Bishops in Orthodoxy wield the most power when they are dealing with their local jurisdiction. Other bishops rarely interfere at all, and even then, only after agreeing in synod, never individually. It is no wonder that Orthodoxy has a problem with the papacy - the whole concept is foreign to them to the very foundation.

A Papal Acorn

Often Catholic apologists will say that the papacy is like an acorn that developed over time into the fully developed tree that we see today.

But this is an invalid argument. There is another apostolic acorn called collegiality. Every expansion of the papal acorn causes a corresponding reduction in the power and significance of the collegial acorn.

If Catholics can use the papal acorn argument, then Orthodox can use a collegial acorn argument. If Catholics say that Orthodox put too much stock in the collegial principle and not enough in the papal principle, we can apparently just say that this is the tree that the collegial acorn grew into.

But we must not think this way. If the papal "oak tree" of the time of the seven ecumenical councils has expanded since that time, then that would be an invalid intrusion into the sphere of the collegial acorn tree. Our aim must not be to find an acorn in the early church that we can imagine growing into a fully formed 21st century papacy, rather Scott must prove a papacy of the early church that had the exact same position and authority that it has today. But he can't and won't attempt that because even catholic apologists acknowledge that the papacy has changed enormously in power and scope since the early church.

Infallibility - Come Let Us Reason

The church of the first millenium, or indeed the first millenium and a half went to a great deal of trouble to enumerate its infallible sources. The books of scripture were argued over and counted and listed. The ecumenical councils were enumerated, debated and reverenced.

But where do we ever find anybody trying to gather papal writings together, hunting for infallible proclamations, enumerating the infallible decrees, and arguing and debating which ones were infallible and which ones weren't? Of course, nobody was, because nobody had any notion that the pope might be able to produce infallible proclamations.

Many Roman Catholics believe that the pope has only exercised infallibility twice, in declaring the immaculate conception and assumption of Mary - both after Vatican I which defined infallibility. But this is a self refuting proposition. If the pope didn't exercise infallibility until the 19th century, it can hardly be a part of the apostolic deposit of faith. It would be proven to be a novelty.

But even the best informed catholic apologists cannot agree at all about how many times infallibility has been exercised. Scott Hahn believes that there have been only 2 ex-cathedra pronouncements by popes which are infallible, Tim Staples believes that there are 4, Adam S. Miller 11, Fr. Leslie Rumble 18, and so on and so forth. Anyone frequenting Catholic discussion forums will find people who think that most papal encyclicals contain teachings on faith and morals, and therefore most papal encyclicals contain infallible statements.

My worthy opponent here has himself flip flopped on whether Humanae Vitae is an infallible teaching.

Catholics are in utter confusion about this, and the reason is clear: There is no historical precedent for trying to figure out the list of infallible papal statements. There are no pre-Vatican I lists of infallible statements. But more to the point, it never even occurred to anyone prior to Vatican I to contemplate such a list. Now everyone wants to know what the list is, and nobody has the slightest idea of what it would contain.

No amount of quoting church fathers can overcome this glaring historical fact, that infallibility is a novelty.

Infallibility - A Novelty

Mid way through the second millenium after Christ a few tentative signs of the development of papal infallibility begin to appear. However, if this doctrine is really true and truely ancient, wouldn't the church, certainly by the second millenium be clear about this doctrine?

"If by the Roman Church you mean its head or pontiff, it is beyond question that he can err even in matters touching the faith. He does this when he teaches heresy by his own judgement or decretal. In truth, many Roman pontiffs were heretics. The last of them was Pope John XXII (1334)." Pope Adrian VI, 1523 (Quaestiones in IV Sent quoted in Viollet, Papal Infallibility and the Syllabus, 1908)

I think we can say that here is a Pope who has never heard of Papal infallibility.

Pope Innocent III (1216):

The pope should not flatter himself about his power, nor should he rashly glory in his honour and high estate, because the less he is judged by man, the more he is judged by God. Still the less can the Roman Pontiff glory, because he can be judged by men, or rather, can be shown to be already judged, if for example he should wither away into heresy, because he who does not believe is already judged. (St. John 3:18) In such a case it should be said of him: If salt should lose its savour, it is good for nothing but to be cast out and trampled under foot by men. (Sermo 4)

Juan Cardinal De Torquemada O.P. (1468) expressly related that Bible passage to the duty to resist a wayward pontiff.

Although it clearly follows from the circumstances that the Pope can err at times, and command things which must not be done, that we are not to be simply obedient to him in all things, that does not show that he must not be obeyed by all when his commands are good. To know in what cases he is to be obeyed and in what not, it is said in the Acts of the Apostles: 'One ought to obey God rather than man'; therefore, were the Pope to command anything against Holy Scripture, or the articles of faith, or the truth of the Sacraments, or the commands of the natural or divine law, he ought not to be obeyed, but in such commands, to be passed over. (Summa de Ecclesia)
Thomas Aquinas:
There being an imminent danger for the Faith, prelates must be questioned, even publicly, by their subjects. Thus, St. Paul, who was a subject of St. Peter, questioned him publicly on account of an imminent danger of scandal in a matter of Faith. And, as the Glossa of St. Augustine puts it (Ad Galatas 2.14), 'St. Peter himself gave the example to those who govern so that if sometimes they stray from the right way, they will not reject a correction as unworthy even if it comes from their subjects." (Summa Theologiae, IIa IIae, Q. 33, A. 4)
Pope Pius IX (1878) recognised the danger that a future pope would be a heretic and teach contrary to the Catholic Faith, and he instructed, do not follow him.
If a future pope teaches anything contrary to the Catholic Faith, do not follow him. (Letter to Bishop Brizen)

The people of Ireland in the 19th century were all taught their Catholic faith from Keenan's Catechism, which used to be the official Catechism of the English Roman Catholics and the Irish Roman Catholics, as well as being used in America and elsewhere. This catechism contains the enthusiastic endorsement of four bishops including:

"The fact that nine thousand copies having already been exhausted in two editions in this country, besides a third edition printed in America, is evidence sufficient of the favour with which the Catechism has been received by the Catholic Public"
- James, bishop of Limyra.

The Anglo-Irish Catechism contained the following question:

(Q) Must not Catholics believe the Pope in himself to be infallible?

(A) This is a Protestant invention: it is no article of the Catholic faith.

Every little Catholic boy and girl learnt this by heart. The Pope is not infallible.

In 1826, in the time of Pope Leo XII, the Bishops of Ireland wrote to the faithful Catholics of Ireland a "Declaration of the Archbishops and Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland" :

"The Catholics of Ireland declare their belief that it is not an article of the Catholic faith, neither are they required to believe, that the Pope is infallible."

Of course a few years later in 1870 when the Pope was declared infallible, the poor Irish bishops, probably now in some sort of material heresy, had to hastily backtrack and try to forget that they had ever taught their people that he was not.

They were also obliged to revise the Catechism and its teaching. What was Catholic teaching in 1869 had become heresy in 1870.

After 1870, the question on papal infallibility was omitted entirely from the Catechism, but in 1896 the following was added:

"Q: Is the Pope infallible?

A: Yes, the Pope is infallible.

Q: But some Catholics, before the Vatican Council, denied the infallibility of the Pope, which was impugned by this very Catechism.

A: Yes, they did so under the usual reservation, insofar as they then could grasp the mind of the Church, and subject to her future definitions, thus implicitly accepting the dogma."

Does anybody other than me have to smile at the logic of that last answer? Declaring that the Pope is not infallible is an implicit assertion that he is!

Both the Irish Catechism and the Declaration of the Irish bishops is sufficient proof that the doctrine of papal infallibilty cannot claim to be part of the universal and continuous tradition of the Church. We don't need to try and peer back into the darkness of the first few centuries of the church, it's there in black and white from less than two centuries ago.

On September 8th, 1713, Pope Clement XI issued a Bull, Unigenitus, which among other things condemned the proposition that reading of the bible is for everyone, and seemed to exalt the efficacy of grace to the point of destroying liberty. It also appeared to limit the Church to the predestined only. The storm of protest that arose against it proves conclusively that 18th century Catholic Europe had little notion of Papal Infallibility. This Papal Bull almost brought France to the brink of schism and the Austrian Emperor forbade the Bull Unigenitus in his territories. This Bull sparked a debate as to the limits of papal authority. Sicilian seminaries were teaching their students that General Councils were supreme over the Pope and were using Unigenitus to show how Popes could err. Everywhere, the battle over Unigenitus caused a decline in the reputation of the See of Rome as a teacher of doctrinal truth.

In 1789 the Protestation of the English Catholics was signed by all the vicars-general and all the Catholic clergy and laity in England of any note, and solemnly declared before Parliament that we acknowledge no infallibility in the pope. In 1822, Bishop Baines, Vicar Apostolic in England, wrote that Bellarmine and some other divines, chiefly Italians, have believed the Pope infallible, when proposing ex cathedra an article of faith. But in England or Ireland I do not believe that any Catholic maintains the infallibility of the Pope. In 1825, a British Parliamentary Royal Commission was established in view of the forthcoming Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829. Some of the questions put to Roman Catholic Bishops are as follows:

Question to Bishop Doyle

Q: Is the authority of the Pope in spiritual matters absolute or limited?

A: It is limited.

Questions to Bishop Murray

Q: Is that (Papal) authority under the control of General Councils?

A: That authority is limited by the councils and canons of the Church; he is the executive power of the Church, appointed to preside over it and enforce its canons or laws. Those canons vest in individuals, for instance in Bishops, certain rights, which of course is the duty of the Pope to protect and not violate; his authority is thus limited by those canons.

Q: Does it justify an objection that is made to Catholics that their allegiance is divided?

A: Their allegiance in civil matters is completely undivided.

Question to Dr. Oliver Kelley

Q: Do the R.C. clergy insist that all the Bulls of the Pope are entitled to obedience?

A: The Roman Catholic doctrine in respect to Bulls from the Pope is that they are always to be treated with respect; but if those Bulls or Rescripts proceeding from the Pope do contain doctrines or matters which are not compatible with the discipline of the particular Church to which they may be directed, they feel it their duty then to remonstrate respectfully, and not to receive the regulations that may emanate from the Pope.

Question to Bishop Doyle

Q: Can you state in what respect the national canons received in Ireland, or any particular construction put upon the general canons, differ from those which are received in other countries?

A: For instance, a particular church, or the canons of a particular church, might define that the authority of a general council was superior to that of the Pope: Such canon may be received, for instance in Ireland or France, and might not be received in Italy or Spain.

Question to Bishop Murray

Q: Is the decree of the Pope valid without the consent of the Council?

A: A decree of the Pope in matters of doctrine is not considered binding on Catholics, if it have not the consent of the whole Church, either dispersed or assembled by its Bishops in Council.

In 1826, the declaration of the Archbishops and Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, was endorsed by the signatures of 30 bishops, declaring that The Catholics of Ireland declare on oath their belief that it is not an article of the Catholic faith, neither are they required to believe that the pope is infallible. Archbishop Kenrick of St. Louis pointed out in his undelivered speech, which he had published in Naples, that for two hundred years a book had been in circulation entitled Roman Catholic Principles in Reference to God and the King. It enjoyed such a wide circulation that from 1748 to 1813 it underwent 35 editions and the Very Reverend Vicar Apostolic Coppinger in England had 12 printings of it. On the question of Papal Infallibility it states:

"It is no matter of faith to believe that the Pope is in himself infallible, separated from the Church, even in expounding the faith: by consequence of Papal definitions or decrees, in whatever form pronounced, taken exclusively from a General Council, or universal acceptance of the Church, oblige none, under pain of heresy, to an interior assent."

Do Catholics seriously wonder why the Orthodox don't accept papal infallibility? Less than 200 years ago, papal infallibility was at best a theory mentioned quietly in certain circles. It was by no means Catholic belief. Roman Catholic belief has changed.

Promulgation of Infallibility

If infalliblilty was not yet defined in the 19th century, and was in fact widely and openly opposed within the Catholic church, the obvious question is by what authority this dogma was defined. Surely it cannot have been defined by the charism of papal infallibility, because that would be circular. We can't have people going around defining what their own power is.

Was it defined by the power of an ecumenical council? As we shall see later on with the Melkites, major parts of the Catholic Church do not believe there have been any ecumenical councils without the Orthodox involved. What if Vatican I wasn't an ecumenical council? What if it was a deeply flawed local council? We can't rely on the pope's opinion of the council, because without Vatican I, the pope may be fallible, and besides, Bishop Murray above says it needs the consent of the Church (which Melkite archbishops say was lacking).

Essentially, one can't have the same assurance that Vatican I was correct that one has with the first 7 councils, because it excluded too much of the church.

Count Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, the future Pius IX was born in 1792, being the last of nine children, to a family of the lesser nobility. In his youth and well into his thirties he suffered epileptic seizures. For a while he was allowed to celebrate mass only on the condition that another priest or deacon was present. Nothing more is heard of this condition in his later life, however, according to his contemporaries the traces of the Popes epilepsy were visible, in that the right side of his body was slightly less developed than the left. This could be seen even in his face which was asymmetric, with lips awry and a head that inclined to the right.

Pius IX was the longest reigning pope, possessing personal charm and enjoying great popularity. He was also considered highly impressionable, capricious, impulsive and unpredictable. These characteristics were attributed to his epilepsy. It is this Pope Pius IX who was absolutely determined to have his office dogmatically defined as the infallible instrument of God by a council of the Church.

At the First Vatican Council the approval of the passing of Papal Infallibility was almost guaranteed from the beginning. First, by the incredibly unequal representation which was highlighted during the Council by a pamphlet, whose author was believed to be Georges Darboy, Archbishop of Paris entitled, The Liberty of the Council and the Infallibility. This pamphlet claimed that while Italy had two hundred and seventy bishops, the rest of Europe had only two hundred and sixty-five. Closer scrutiny reveals that twelve million German Roman Catholics were represented by nineteen bishops while seven hundred thousand inhabitants of the Papal States were represented by sixty-two. Three anti-Infallibilist Bishops of Cologne, Paris and Cambrai represented five million souls. It is little wonder that the German bishops who formed the backbone of the anti-Infallibilist complained of being overwhelmed by Italian and Sicilian bishops.

The second reason why the doctrine of Papal Infallibility was guaranteed to pass was the deep personal involvement of Pius IX himself and the intimidating coercive tactics he used. A measure of his resolve is the statement he made to the chief editor of La Civilta Cattolica, "My mind is so made up that if need be I shall take the definition upon myself and dismiss the Council if it wishes to keep silence". In a brief to Dom Gueranger, Abbot of Solesmes, a leading French Ultramontane (on the other side of the Alps; one who advocates supreme papal authority), Pius IX, while demonstrating no lack of confidence in his own infallibility, attacks and brands the bishops who oppose the definition as men, who show themselves completely imbued with corrupt principals and who no longer know how to submit their intelligence to the judgment of the Holy See. Their folly mounts to this excess that they attempt to remake the divine constitution of the Church in order to bring down more easily the authority of the supreme Head whom Christ has set over it and whose prerogatives they dread. Pope Pius IX was so bent on having the office of the Papacy declared infallible he used the power and prestige of his office to intimidate and upbraid even bishops who adopted a neutral or moderate line. The Reverend T. Mozley, special correspondent to The Times of London writes that bishops who adopted a neutral or moderate line:

"find themselves sorely tried in a personal interview. They find it vain to declare their devotion or their sincerity. His Holiness tells them plainly they are not on his side; they are among his enemies; they are damaging the good cause; their loyalty is not sound. It is enough that they have signed what they should not, or not signed what they ought."
Ullathorne, Bishop of Birmingham (pictured) wrote,
"The Pope, takes every opportunity of expressing his views on the infallibility both in audiences and letters that at once get into the papers." Again Ullathorne writes, "The Pope, I believe, is bent on the definition, if he can, as the crowning of his reign, and I think it will in some shape probably pass."

To a group of vicars apostolic and Oriental bishops, Pius IX reminded them, "It is necessary for you to defend the truth with the Vicar of Jesus Christ. My children do not abandon me."

A stark example of how far removed the bishops, the successors of the apostles, were from the dignity and freedom they exercised at the Seven Ecumenical Councils and their subservience to the Pope can be judged by the behaviour of Wilhelm von Ketteler, Bishop of Mainz. Just before the final vote on Papal Infallibility, a deputation of minority bishops implored Pius IX to accept certain concessions in the wording of the declaration: Ketteler threw himself on his knees and with tears in his eyes said: Good Father, save us and save the Church of God! One cannot help recalling St. Pauls reproof to St. Peter when he, withstood him to his face, Gal. 11:11, and St. Irenaeus stern rebuke to Pope St. Victor over the Easter controversy. Pius was unmoved.

Cardinal Guidi, Archbishop of Bologna, in a speech before the Council said that, while accepting infallibility, he urged the Pope to take the counsel of his bishops before issuing decisions as this is the tradition of the Church. Guidis speech was reported to the Pope and he was sent for and scolded. The surprised Cardinal responded that he was only maintaining that bishops are witnesses of tradition. "Witnesses of tradition?" said the Pope, "There is only one; that's me." Even Roman Catholic author Dom Cuthbert Butler in his popular work, "The Vatican Council", admits to the personal influence of Pius IX: "Did it amount to undue influence? That at the final stages he exerted his personal influence to the utmost cannot be questioned, for it was quite open."

Strenuous objections were voiced at the Council regarding the lack of freedom due to the manner of the agenda. Dom Butler admits to the Popes control over the Council when he writes, "In all things the Pope kept to himself the complete mastery. Things which at Trent had been left in the hands of the Fathers - settlement of claims to take part in the Council, appointment of officials, regulation of procedure, etc. - were all now fixed by the personal act of the Pope. The bishops were invited and exhorted to suggest freely anything for deliberation that they thought would be for the general good of the Church. But such proposals or postulations must be submitted to a special Congregation, nominated by the Pope, for dealing with such postulates, to consider them and report its advice to the Pope, with whom the decision would lie as to whether the thing be brought forward at the Council or not."

Denying the validity of the Council, Archbishop Peter Richard Kenrick refused to speak at any of the general sessions after June 4th, 1870. Bishop Joseph Strossmeyer of Diakovar told Lord Acton, "There is no denying that the Council lacked freedom from beginning to end." To Professor Joseph Hubert Reinkens, Strossmeyer said that the Vatican Council had not had the freedom necessary to make it a true Council and to justify its passing resolutions binding the conscience of the entire Catholic world. The proof of this was perfectly self-evident.

Bishop Francois Le Courtier spoke for many when he wrote,

"Our weakness at this moment comes neither from scripture nor the tradition of the Fathers nor the witness of the General Councils nor the evidence of history. It comes from our lack of freedom, which is radical. An imposing minority, representing the faith of more than one hundred million Catholics, that is, almost half of the entire Church, is crushed beneath the yoke of a restrictive agenda, which contradicts conciliar traditions. It is crushed by commissions which have not been truly elected and which dare to insert undebated paragraphs in the text after debate has closed. It is crushed by the commission for postulates, which has been imposed from above. It is crushed by the absolute absence of discussion, response, objections, and the opportunity to demand explanations; The minority is crushed, above all, by the full weight of the supreme authority which oppresses it." Furthermore, the opposing minority of about two hundred bishops objected to the short time allowed for studying the text on primacy and infallibility as well as to the practice adopted by the deputations of inserting new clauses at the last moment.

The minority bishops were not allowed to discuss the historical objections against Papal Infallibility with the deputation on the faith. In a letter Bishop Le Courtier complains, "See what more than aught else destroys our liberty: it is crushed under the respect we have for our Head." Later in frustrated anger, Bishop Francois Le Courtier tossed his council documents into the river Tiber and left Rome. The papers were retrieved and brought to the attention of Vatican officials. The price for this gesture was extracted three years later, when he was dismissed as Bishop of Montpellier.

In spite of the unequal representation and Pius IX using the power and prestige of his office, there was still a large number - eighty-eight bishops - who voted against Papal Infallibility, which was enshrined in the constitution, Pastor Aeternus. Sixty-two bishops, many of whom were de facto opponents, voted with reservations, with only four hundred and fifty-one giving a clear yes - this is less than half of the one thousand and eighty-four prelates with voting privileges and less than two-thirds of the seven hundred bishops in attendance at the commencement of the Council. Over seventy-six bishops in Rome abstained from voting and fifty-five bishops informed the Pope that "while maintaining their opposition to the definition that out of filial piety and reverence, which very recently brought our representatives to the feet of your Holiness, do not allow us in a cause so closely concerning Your Holiness to say non placet (it is not pleasing) openly in the face of the Father." This statement alone speaks volumes for the subservience that these bishops had for the immense authority figure of the Pope - a presence unknown in the councils of the Early Church.

Archbishop Kenrick of Saint Louis, who was one of America's extraordinary bishops, wanted to deliver a speech against the proposed doctrine at the Council but instead he ceased to attend the Council meetings. In his speech prepared for, but not delivered in, the Vatican Council, and published at Naples in 1870, he declares that Roman Catholics cannot establish the Petrine privilege from Scripture, because of the clause in the Creed of Pius IV, binding them to interpret Scripture only according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers. And he adds that there are five different patristic interpretations of St. Matt. 16:18. Archbishop Kendrick summarises, "If we are bound to follow the greater number of Fathers in this matter, then we must hold for certain that the word "Petra" means not Peter professing the Faith, but the faith professed by Peter."

"I also admit the Holy Scripture according to that sense which our holy mother the Church hath held, and doth hold, to whom it belongeth to judge of the true sense and interpretations of the Scriptures. Neither will I ever take and interpret them otherwise than according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers." - Tridentine Creed

Thus lacking a moral unanimity or even a clear two-thirds majority, Papal Infallibility was now elevated as an article of faith equal to the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation. A belief that could not possibly meet the Vincentian canon of Universality, Antiquity and Consent, and in fact a belief not universally shared by Catholics even within living memory of the Council that solemnly defined it. Years later, Orthodox theologian Sergei Bulgakov, observed with disdain that, "The Vatican Council has as much right to call itself a Council as todays meetings of delegates from the Soviet republics can claim to be a free expression of the will of the people."

The debate is certainly lost for my opponent right here. If my opponent had such a good argument, certainly these bishops of the Catholic church would know these arguments and would have voted in favour. Furthermore, if Pius was on the side of the truth, leading a church led by the Holy Spirit, why would have to bully, cajole and politic his desired outcome? Cannot the truth rest upon its own self-evidence? Would God guide his Church in such a shameful manner in defining this doctrine which is foundational in understanding the Church?

It also seems worthwhile to quote in its entirety the following eastern perspective. If it was written by the Orthodox it might be dismissed as the ravings of anti-Catholics, but no. This little essay was written by the Greek Melkite Catholic Archbishop in 1998:

Vatican I - A Pseudo-Council?

Unfavorable Atmosphere of the Second Millennium

Council or pseudo-council, Vatican I is the product of a particular Church, the Latin, that "cut off from the East, has seen its spirituality and theology dried up and impoverished by rationalization" (Cardinal Etchegaray).

This council is one of those that was held in the second millennium in the West. It followed the Council of Lyons (1274) that Pope Paul VI called the "sixth of the general synods of the West." Therefore Vatican I is not an ecumenical council, nor consequently, infallible. Moreover, one of the conditions required for a council to be ecumenical as enumerated by the second Ecumenical Council of Nicea (787) is that "the patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem-in addition to that of Constantinople-consent to it" It is clear! Not being ecumenical, Vatican I cannot be infallible.

On the other hand, what right does any Church have, in the absence of other great churches and especially of the apostolic sees, to define the "things" that are binding on all Christianity, by submitting it to its ordinary, direct and immediate universal jurisdiction, and by imposing on it a papal infallibility binding in conscience. Such behavior is not surprising on the part of the Church of Rome, for already, on the eve of the Great Schism of 1054, Pope Leo IX claimed that "all that is decisive in the life of churches and even the quality of Church comes from the Roman Church" (Cardinal Yves Con gar, Eglise de Saint Augustin, p. 97). Only an ecumenical council held by both Rome and Orthodoxy can legislate in such a matter.

In the face of the impasse caused by Vatican Council I, we must ask ourselves what are the conditions in which this Council was held and unfolded, and if these conditions guaranteed the freedom of action of the bishops that participated in it.

Let us see the atmosphere that prevailed in the Church of the West, especially after the Great Schism of 1054.

1) We recall what Marcel Pacaut says concerning the Council of Lyons in 1274: "The conciliar assembly did not discuss; there was no debate, no opposition formulated; it heard the reading of the proposed documents and approved them. The Council of Lyons is therefore, like the Councils prior to it from the twelfth century, a chamber recording pontifical decisions and not a parliament" ( Unite Chrhienne, 102 (1975), no. 2, p. 53).

Humbert of Romans, Master General of the young Order of Preachers, recounts in his report that Pope Gregory X, on the eve of the Council of Lyons, recommended the following motto: "Variety is the mother and origin of discord" (Unite Chretienne, idem).

We notice that six hundred years later the superior of the Redemptorists would write to Cardinal Deschamps, archbishop of Malines, on the subject of Vatican Council I: "In Rome, everything is so well prepared in advance, that nothing remained for the fathers other than voting" (Cardinal Deschamps, Louvain 1956, II, p.157).

2) It is true that beginning with Pope Saint Gregory the Great, the centralizing power of the pope grew more and more. But it is especially at the beginning of the second millennium that it became intolerable. So much so that Saint Bernard, in a brochure, titled Counsels to the Pope, reproached Pope Eugene III between 1148 and 1152, for "mutilating Churches, upsetting the hierarchy and displacing limits that its Fathers had set. You err if you believe that your apostolic power, because it is the highest, is the only one that God has instituted. All this forms a desire for prestige and wealth, that comes more from Constantine than Peter."

3) And popes assumed rights over life and death. The Tribunal of the Inquisition, born in 1231, condemned to death those who did not share the letter of the faith of the pope, or who adopted ideas considered dangerous. Among many others, Savonarola, Dominican preacher, was burnt in 1498, under the pretext of heresy. In order to escaped the pyre, Galileo, whose great scientific discoveries were judged dangerous, at 70 years of age on his knees before the Tribunal of the Inquisition would have to renounce his so-called heresy and lived under the strict surveillance of that tribunal until his death in 1643. Thus it was that the popes subjected the Son of God to a regime of incredible terror. The tribunal of the Holy Office succeeded that of the Inquisition.

4) The birth of the churches coming from the Reformation distressed the Roman Church, which tried by all means to protect herself against a new disintegration. In order to confront the decline of western Christianity and its political influence, the Council of the Counter Reformation, held in Trent 1545 to 1563, would make the pope, henceforth, the only defender of this Christianity, an absolute monarch. Without doubt, this Council would seek to bring back all the clergy, at all levels, to a more austere lifestyle, but it would be intransigent in the area of the faith, in order to avoid new shocks. Popes would impose a uniform formulation of this faith.

5) At the same time the pope became the absolute monarch, the curia became increasingly powerful. To it was confided the charge of preparing conciliar texts on which the bishops would vote. At Vatican Council II, in which I myself participated, we were presented with texts prepared in advance by the curia. The Fathers enjoyed a sufficient liberty to refuse these texts and to replace them by others. Thus it was not the same as the Council of Lyons and those that followed, including Vatican I, where the curia was all powerful and could impose its texts.

Pope Eugene IV (1431-1447) who proclaimed himself the head of the entire Church and the father and the mother of all Christians, claimed that the college of cardinals was of divine origin. Indeed, in his Bull Non Mediocri, coming almost immediately after the Council of Florence (1439), he granted cardinals precedence over patriarchs, since according to terms of this same bull, the cardinalate had been, "instituted by Saint Peter and his successors" and even, according to Innocent III, says the Bull, the cardinalate "is of divine origin."

6) With popes becoming a type of demiurge between Christ and his Church, which put them above and longer within the Church and curia of divine origin what could Vatican Council I be? If Pope Eugene IV proclaimed himself in the fifteenth century father and mother of all Christians, Pius IX, the pope of Vatican I, in a conversation with the Archbishop of Bologna, Cardinal Guidi, declared: "I am the Tradition!"-in other words- "I am the Church!"

The voters had to deal with a pope who identified himself as the Tradition and the Church, and with a curia claiming its origins in "Saint Peter and his successors," and who dreamt of sharing, if not in the ex sese infallibility of the pope, at least in his universal jurisdiction, from then on defined by a council. If we add there the climate of widespread distrust by the tribunal of the Holy Office, we are right in asking if the fathers of Vatican Council I enjoyed enough freedom to hold a valid council.

Oppressive Atmosphere of Vatican I

A. Vatican I-Council of the Latin Countries of Europe

Having called the Council of Lyons (1274) the "sixth of the general synods of the West," Pope Paul VI himself denied it the quality of being ecumenical along with all the councils held in the West after the schism of 1054.

Vatican I was not even representative enough of the Catholic West. Rather two-thirds of its majority represented the churches of the Latin countries of Europe.

According to historians, of the 1055 fathers having the right to vote, approximately 700 fathers were present.

The Italians represented 35 per cent of the fathers present, that is approximately 245 fathers.

The French, 17 per cent, that is approximately 119 fathers.

The fathers from America (121), Asia (41 ), Oceania (18), African Missions (9) totaled 189 Fathers and were, in their majority, originally from Latin countries of Europe.

Approximately two-thirds of the fathers present were therefore from Latin European countries.

The uniate fathers, latinized and subjected to Roman congregations, numbered sixty. Among them, three Patriarchs had arranged themselves on the side of the minority who refused the definition of infallibility of the pope and his other prerogatives, judged exaggerated.

One could object that the majority of council fathers of the ecumenical councils of the first millennium were Eastern, and despite that, their decrees were not rejected. Such an objection is not valid, because all the apostolic sees were represented there, including Rome; and the ecumenical councils that followed, recognized the acts of their predecessors. However the apostolic sees of the East were in no way present at councils held in the West after the schism of 1054, although this presence is required-according to the second Council of Nicea for a council to be ecumenical.

Uniate bishops and patriarchs present at Vatican Council I and Vatican Council II did not represent Orthodoxy, first, because they were latinized, and also because they had not received a mandate to represent it. This is all the more true since the Roman Catholics and Orthodox would denounce uniatism at the Balamand meeting in 1993.

B. Imbalance in the Distribution of Responsibilities of the Council

1) Arbitrary Choice of Consultors and Experts charged with preparing the decrees of the Council.

Indeed, sixty of these Consultors and Experts were Romans and the others, numbering thirty six, were known for their ultramontanist tendencies. This resulted in the council decrees being prepared by a closed circle according to the will of the pope and the ultramontanists, and of their being presented as a fait accompli to the Council Fathers who, it was thought, would have only to sign them without debate.

2) Arbitrary Choice of Presidents of the Assembly.

They were all Italians and favorable to the definition of the prerogatives of the pope and his infallibility.

3) Those opposed to infallibility were excluded from the Committee of the Faith.

In 1864, Pius IX began to prepare for the Council. In 1865, he appointed a commission of cardinals to be the central commission charged with directing the preparation of the council.

This commission appointed subsidiary commissions for the faith and dogmas and others subjects, either religious or politico-religious, such as relationships of the church with the state. In all these commissions which comprised 102 members, only 10 were bishops, 69 diocesan priests and 23 religious priests. They had prepared 51 schemas to propose to the Council Fathers.

To facilitate the work, four permanent committees were created, among which the most important was that of the faith, from which were excluded those who opposed the definition of the prerogatives of the pope, particularly his infallibility. Archbishop Henry Edward Manning, principal partisan of the definition of infallibility, qualified those opposing it as "heretics, who came to the council only to be heard and condemned, not to take part in the formulation of the doctrine."

The fathers opposed to the definition of infallibility could indeed defend their viewpoint in the general congregations, but was it admissible that a group, composed of brilliant and good theologians, not be represented in the most important committee of the Council?

The way the council was conducted was imposed by the pope and his curia. It had not been elaborated by the conciliar assembly, nor even submitted to its vote as it had been at the Council of Trent.

Since the members of the assembly opposed to the definition of papal infallibility had not participated in the elaboration of the regulations, they did not feel themselves bound to secrecy and they used a press campaign to make their objections known. The campaign was sometimes violent, especially in Germany.

C. Politico-Religious Character of the Council

Pope Pius IX publicly announced the council on July 26,1867, at a time when churchmen in the West were of two major mindsets: on the one hand the liberal Catholics and neo-gallicans, and on the other hand the ultramontanists, adversaries of modem liberty.

The conflict was not exclusively religious. It was politico-religious. The two parties were opposed with regard to their conception concerning relations between the Church and the State. The ultramontanists, counter to the other part, wanted more interference of popes in the affairs of the State. When the council was announced their press campaign would claim that the definition of the prerogatives of the pope, and particularly his infallibility in matters of faith, would entail a certain infallibility in the political area and in his relations with the State, thus also favoring an autocratic authoritarianism.

D. The two-thirds majority was hardly concerned with theological reasons

The fathers who were opposed to the definition of infallibility and the other prerogatives of the pope, while less numerous, had greater stature. They were distinguished by their theological knowledge and by the importance of their sees.

This minority was especially made up of the episcopates of Austria-Hungary, the great German Sees, a third of the French episcopate, several archbishops from America, the archbishop of Milan and three Eastern patriarchs.

With the infallibility majority, non-theological considerations prevailed. They were:

-Infallibility would have repercussions in the political domain, conferring more ascendancy to the pope over civil authorities and putting an end to the controversies on this subject.

-For more pastoral reasons, some bishops sought, through the definition of infallibility and the other prerogatives of the pope, to strengthen the principle of authority in a society and in a Church invaded by a revolutionary spirit.

The minority, opposed to this definition, advanced reasons from the ecumenical and theological order:

-The pope cannot define a matter of faith independently of the college of bishops and the ecumenical council. Such a definition made by the pope personally would upset the traditional constitution of the church and would compromise the power of bishops and the episcopal college.

-The extension of the prerogatives of the pope would deepen the gulf that separates the Roman Church from the Orthodox Churches of the East. And Protestants would profit by consolidating their position in the face of the Catholic Church.

-Aside from the extension of the prerogatives of the pope, new schisms could be provoked in the milieus of Germanic intellectuals and others.

It is regrettable that these considerations of theological, ecclesiological and ecumenical order were not shared by the European majority of Fathers and did not orient the council in a more religious rather than a political direction.

E. Pressures exerted by the Pope over the Council

Some Council Fathers favorable to the definition of infallibility, wanting to rally the opposing party, sought to appear conciliatory and to bring some rather fundamental reservations to the formulas prepared by the consultors and experts. The pope opposed this and intervened in favor of a rigorous formulation.

On the other hand, fearing that political events would abruptly stop the works of the council before the elaboration of the definition of his infallibility, Pius IX had a chapter on infallibility and his other prerogatives added to the chapter titled "the Church of the Christ," April 27,1870. He decided to pass immediately, and by anticipation, to the discussion of this additional chapter. Under the threat of developing political events, the pope pressed the council fathers to finish and to accelerate the activities of the council by rushing through 37 general congregations between May 13 and July 13, 1870. Thus on July 13,1870, thanks to this rush, infallibility and the other personal prerogatives of the pope were voted on, constituting a special decree under the title "Pastor aeternus."

Driven by power to brake this zeal of the ultramontanists, openly pushed by Pope Pius IX, and not wanting to confront a pope who decided to have his infallibility defined and to widen his powers over the whole Church of God, an important number of bishops left Rome before the final vote. Some say a quarter of the council fathers left early.

To give one example of the authoritarianism of Pius IX, let us cite the following fact. Our Greek-Melkite Catholic Patriarch, Gregory Youssef, had refused to sign the acts of the council relative to infallibility and to the unlimited powers of the pope over the whole Church. Having undergone some pressures, he ended up by subscribing to it by adding: "except the rights and privileges of Eastern patriarchs." Before leaving Rome, he went to take leave of the pope, who shook the head of the old patriarch who was on his knees, and said to him. "Testa dura!" Therefore it is not surprising to see that Latin bishops left Rome and abstained from voting "non placet" in the presence of a pope so jealous of his authority.

In conclusion, I am not an historian and am not qualified to settle this question of the validity or the invalidity of Vatican Council I. All that I can do is to submit to qualified historians this information, collected from here and there, so that they may check it, complete it or, if necessary, correct it. I leave to theologians the responsibility to judge, in the light of the pressures exerted over the council Fathers, whether they enjoyed enough freedom to hold a valid Council.

What I know is that a marriage celebrated in similar conditions would have been declared null by the Roman Authorities themselves. If only reverential fear suffices for a declaration of nullity of a Catholic marriage, how can a council, held under such a regime of oppression, be valid?

In any case, valid or not, Vatican I has the same designation as the Council of Lyons, a "general" synod of the West. With this designation it is neither ecumenical nor infallible and could produce only theological opinions that can not be imposed on anyone. Besides, these theological opinions are peculiar to the circumstances of a certain historical period. And the Catholic Church itself today, with all of its bishops and theologians, would have hesitated to adopt them and especially to erect them as dogmas.

from the book "Ecumenical Reflections" by Elias Zoghby,Greek Melkite Catholic Archbishop,published by Eastern Christian Publications, 1998

Peter and Succession

My worthy opponent will no doubt quote many passages from ECFs speaking in highly exalted terms about Peter. But can we assume that everything that applies to Peter automatically applies also to his successors (assuming of course, there is a Petrene office with successors)?

The normal Catholic party line is that Peter was infallible by himself, whereas the rest of the apostles were infallible only together as a group. However, weren't all the apostles infallible as individuals when writing scripture? Nobody can seriously claim that all the apostles checked their scripture with Peter before promulgating it. And if the apostles were infallible as individuals, and we're going to assume that everything about the apostles is passed on, then we have to assume that all bishops are infallible.

"Were John about to converse with us, and to say to us words of his own, we needs must describe his family, his country, and his education. But since it is not he, but God by him, that speaks to mankind, it seems to me superfluous and distracting to enquire into these matters. And yet even thus it is not superfluous, but even very necessary. For when you have learned who he was, and from whence, who his parents, and what his character, and then hear his voice and all his heavenly wisdom, then you shall know right well that these doctrines belong not to him, but to the Divine power stirring his soul. Not so this fisherman; for all he saith is INFALLIBLE; and standing as it were upon a rock, he never shifts his ground. For since he has been thought worthy to be in the most secret places, and has the Lord of all speaking within him, he is subject to nothing that is human."
~ St. John Chrysostom, Second Homily on the Gospel of St. John

Here John Chrysostom speaks in highly exalted terms about the apostle John, telling us that everything John says is infallible. If we follow the Roman Catholic line of reasoning, every bishop of Ephesus has the charism of infallibility.

Actually, Chrysostom spent most of his ordained life out of communion with Rome. He was baptised and ordained a lector in 370 by St Meletius who also ordained him to the diaconate in 381. In 386 he was ordained to the priesthood by St Meletius's successor, St. Flavian. Under Patriarchs Meletius and Flavian, Antioch and Rome were not in communion with each other. By receiving ordination at the hands of Sts. Meletius and Flavian he was knowingly placing himself outside communion with Rome. It was only when he was elevated to the see of Constantinople in 398 that he came into communion with Rome. And he died nine years later.

It is well worth reviewing the reason for the schism between Antioch and Rome, which speaks volumes about the eastern churches attitude to Rome's claims. This schism was centered on the person of St Meletius, who was elected patriarch of Antioch over Rome's and Alexandria's candidate, Paulinas. The reverence the Eastern Church had for St Meletius may be judged by the fact that he was made president of a council of 150 bishops convened by the emporer Theodosius in Constantinople in 381. This was the Second Ecumenical Council, to which Rome was not invited, nor even informed of its occurence. When St Meletius suddenly died during the council, Rome's and Alexandria's candiate Paulinas was still ignored in the election of St Flavian to the then vacant see of Antioch. Obviously not being in communion with Rome in the fourth century was no barrier to sainthood or important church leadership. {Popes and Patriarchs, pages 110 - 111}

And apparently lack of communion with Rome never seems to have been an issue important enough to impinge on Chrysostom's conscience or cause him to otherwise later repent and comment on the necessity of being in communion with Rome. Since Chrysostom is usually considered the most influential of Eastern fathers, it's hardly surprising that the East knows nothing of the western notion that one must be in communion with Rome.

Ecclesiology of the Early Church

If the bishops disagree with the Pope, they are not infallible.

If the Magisterium does not agree with the Pope, it is not infallible.

If an Ecumenical Council does not agree with the Pope, it is not infallible.

Nothing counts except the infallibility of the Pope.

The dogma of infallibility explicitely states that the pope can exercise infallibility without the consent of the church. The Pope can act alone... totally alone, in defining dogma.

But how did the early church do things?

"Then all the multitude kept silence," etc. (Acts 15: 12.) There was no arrogance in the Church. After Peter Paul speaks, and none silences him: James waits patiently, not starts up (for the next word). Great the orderliness (of the proceedings). No word speaks John here, no word the other Apostles, but held their peace, for James was invested with the chief rule, and think it no hardship. So clean was their soul from love of glory. "And after that they had held their peace, James answered," etc. (v. 13.) Peter indeed spoke more strongly, but James here more mildly: for thus it behooves one in high authority, to leave what is unpleasant for others to say, while he himself appears in the milder part."
~Homily XXXIII. Acts 15:13, 15 St. John Chrysostom ~

Chrysostom would have been shocked at the idea that one bishop could have ruled from on high, with no care for consensus. Not only that, but he lists James as having the "chief rule" here, not Peter.

Canon 34 of the Apostles reads:
"The bishops of every country ought to know who is the primate among them, and to esteem him as their head, and not to do any great thing without his consent; but every one to manage only the affairs that belong to his own parish, and the places subject to it. But let him [i.e., the primate] not do anything without the consent of all; for it is by this means there will be unanimity, and God will be glorified by Christ, in the Holy Spirit."

This passage succinctly expresses Orthodox ecclesiology. Rule in the church is concilliar and by consensus. It's not done by one bishop promulgating bulls.

But how are people to know the truth without one pope as the centre of unity? Surely it's more convenient to have one pope to tell everyone what to believe? However the truth is not defined by convenience, or by the shortcut inventions of man.

St Vincent in his fifth century treatise entitled "The Commonitory" informs us how the early church looked to the truth. This is a positive presentation of how the Church perceived truth, and I submit that my opponent must submit an equally clear presentation of the Pope's specific role in defining the truth, in order to have any hope in this debate. Note very clearly that St Vincent isn't presenting his own heresy or opinion, rather he says he is relating the answer he has received from the Church every time he enquires into this question.

"I have often then inquired earnestly and attentively of very many men eminent for sanctity and learning, how and by what sure and so to speak universal rule I may be able to distinguish the truth of Catholic faith from the falsehood of heretical pravity; and I have always, and in almost every instance, received an answer to this effect: That whether I or any one else should wish to detect the frauds and avoid the snares of heretics as they rise, and to continue sound and complete in the Catholic faith, we must, the Lord helping, fortify our own belief in two ways; first, by the authority of the Divine Law, and then, by the Tradition of the Catholic Church.

But here some one perhaps will ask, Since the canon of Scripture is complete, and sufficient of itself for everything, and more than sufficient, what need is there to join with it the authority of the Church's interpretation? For this reason: because, owing to the depth of Holy Scripture, all do not accept it in one and the same sense, but one understands its words in one way, another in another; so that it seems to be capable of as many interpretations as there are interpreters. For Novatian expounds it one way, Sabellius another, Donatus another, Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius, another, Photinus, Apollinaris, Priscillian, another, Iovinian, Pelagius, Celestius, another, lastly, Nestorius another. Therefore, it is very necessary, on account of so great intricacies of such various error, that the rule for the right understanding of the prophets and apostles should be framed in accordance with the standard of Ecclesiastical and Catholic interpretation.

Moreover, in the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense "Catholic," which, as the name itself and the reason of the thing declare, comprehends all universally. This rule we shall observe if we follow universality, antiquity, consent. We shall follow universality if we confess that one faith to be true, which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity, if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is manifest were notoriously held by our holy ancestors and fathers; consent, in like manner, if in antiquity itself we adhere to the consentient definitions and determinations of all, or at the least of almost all priests and doctors.

What then will a Catholic Christian do, if a small portion of the Church have cut itself off from the communion of the universal faith? What, surely, but prefer the soundness of the whole body to the unsoundness of a pestilent and corrupt member? What, if some novel contagion seek to infect not merely an insignificant portion of the Church, but the whole? Then it will be his care to cleave to antiquity, which at this day cannot possibly be seduced by any fraud of novelty.

But what, if in antiquity itself there be found error on the part of two or three men, or at any rate of a city or even of a province? Then it will be his care by all means, to prefer the decrees, if such there be, of an ancient General Council to the rashness and ignorance of a few. But what, if some error should spring up on which no such decree is found to bear? Then he must collate and consult and interrogate the opinions of the ancients, of those, namely, who, though living in divers times and places, yet continuing in the communion and faith of the one Catholic Church, stand forth acknowledged and approved authorities: and whatsoever he shall ascertain to have been held, written, taught, not by one or two of these only, but by all, equally, with one consent, openly, frequently, persistently, that he must understand that he himself also is to believe without any doubt or hesitation."

~St Vincent ~The Commonitory: For Antiquity and Universality of the Catholic Faith Against the Profane Novelties of All Heresies, Ch. II-III

Apparently in all Vincent's investigation, nobody offered him the alternative theory of looking to the Bishop of Rome to define truth and unity.

How would we apply Vincent's canon to the schism of 1054? In 1054, Rome would be considered a smaller portion of the church compared to the vast size of Constantinople, let alone the other patriarchal sees. Constantinople, due to its advantageous political and geographic position was comprised the majority of the Church. Then we would have to consider the other patriarchal sees, none of whom followed Rome. When in 1054 the disputes arose, it was Rome who was promoting the innovation of the filioque. It was Rome promoting the fraudulent Donation of Constantine, the False Decretals of Pesudo Isidore, and papal supremacy. If we were to follow the Vincentian canon, Rome left the church.

Saint Athanasius wrote:

Even if Catholics faithful to Tradition are reduced to a handful, they are the ones who are the true Church of Jesus Christ. (Epistle to the Catholics)
Athanasius' criteria for the "true Church" is those who are faithful to Tradition. Not those who follow the Bishop of Rome. In all the miriad of disputes in the early church, where do we find the calls to look to the bishop of Rome? What Rome thought about a matter was never a primary factor in resolving a dispute.

Heretical Popes

All throughout history, there have been occasions where the position of Popes has been regarded as wrong and/or heretical. If the church believed the Pope held a charism of infallibility, one would expect on these occasions discussion and debate about whether the Pope had spoken infallibly, or if he would speak infallibly, and we'd expect people exhorting the Pope to define a doctrine infallibly. And on occasions when the Pope is flat out called wrong or heretical, we'd expect to find people explaining how the Pope can be wrong in light of infallibility and we'd expect people trying to refute these arguments on the basis of the Pope's infallibility. Then we'd expect to find Popes trying to resolve disputes by appealing to their infallibility. But we don't find this in history at all. People call the Pope wrong without any care to explain how this fits with infallibility.

Saint Columbanus in 612 AD writes
"You have already erred, O Rome! fatally, foully erred. No longer do you shine as a star in the apostolic firmament.

It is not vanity, but grief, that compels me, a mere dwarf, of the meanest rank, to write to such lofty personages, seeing that the name of God is blasphemed among the nations, through you contending with one another. For I do grieve, I confess, for the infamy of the chair of St. Peter. . . . The storm threatens the wreck of the ship of the church; and hence it is that I, a timid sailor, cry out, 'Keep watch, for the water has already made its entrance into the vessel, and the ship is in jeopardy. For we are the disciples of Saints Peter and Paul, and of all those their disciples, who by the Holy Ghost have written the divine canon. Yes, we, the whole body of the Irish, who are inhibitors of the ends of the world, and receive nothing beyond the teaching of the evangelists and the apostles. There has never been amongst us any heretic, any Judaizer, any schismatic; but the catholic faith has been held unshaken by us, as it was first delivered to us by you, the successors, to be sure, of the holy apostles....

Therefore that thou mayest not be deprived of apostolic honour, preserve the apostolic faith, confirm it by testimony, strengthen it by writing, fortify it by synod, to the end that none may justly resist thee. Despise not the poor advice of a stranger, as being a teacher of one who is zealous for thy sake. The world is now drawing to an end; the Prince of Pastors is approaching; beware lest he find thee remiss and negligent, both beating thy fellowservants with the blows of an evil example, and eating and drinking with Hebrews; lest what follows (in that place of Scripture) befall thee, as the consequence of thy security. 'For he who is ignorant shall be ignorant' (1 Cor. xiv. 38).

Watch, therefore, I pray thee, O pope; watch, and again I say watch, because, doubtless, Vigilius did not keep Vigil, whom those who throw blame upon thee cry out to be the head of the scandal.

Lest, therefore, the murderer from the beginning (Satan) bind men in this his very long cord of error, let the cause, I beseech thee, of the schism be immediately cut off from thee by the sword, as it were, of St. Peter, that is, by a true confession of faith in a synod, and by a renouncing of all heretics, that thou mayest cleanse the chair of Peter from every error; nay, horror! if any (as is reported) has gained an entrance there, if not, that its purity may be known of all. For it is doleful, nay, deplorable, if in an apostolic seat the catholic faith is not held . . . Therefore I beseech you, for Christ's sake, come to the relief of your good name, which is torn to pieces among the nations, that your silence be no longer imputed to your treachery by your rivals. Dissemble, therefore, no longer, keep no longer silence, but send forth the voice of a true shepherd. Surely the blame is yours, for you have wandered from the true faith, and made void the first faith. Deservedly do your juniors resist you; deservedly do they refuse communion with you, until the memory of the wicked be wiped out from you, and consigned to oblivion. For if these charges are more certain than false, then the tables being turned, your sons are changed into the head, and you into the tail, which is a grief, even to say. Therefore, also, they shall be your judges who have always kept the catholic faith, no matter who they be, even though they may appear to be your juniors. For the orthodox and true catholics are they who have never, at any time, either received or defended heretics, or any persons suspected of heresy, but have always zealously persevered in the true faith."

See the discussion on the Sixth Council for a discussion of the heretic Pope Honorius.

We could also talk about many other popes who have written theological treatises which are clearly heretical compared to later Catholic dogma, yet apparently they are designed to teach the faithful on matters of faith and morals. One example is Pope Saint Gelasius, 5th century. The Pope is writing on a matter of faith to confound the heresy of Eutyches and Nestorius and he intends his teaching to be accepted by them and their adherents and by the universal Church.

"The sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, which we receive, is a divine thing, because by it we are made partakers of the divine nature. Yet the substance or nature of the bread and wine does not cease. And assuredly the image and the similitude of the body and blood of Christ are celebrated in the performance of the mysteries." Pope Gelasius, de Duabus in Christo Naturis [on the two natures]).

As we see, the Pope denies that the substance of bread and wine changes, contrary to Trent. And it's hard to avoid Gelasius' comments on withholding the wine too:

(cf. De Consecr. ii): "We have learned that some persons after taking only a portion of the sacred body, abstain from the chalice of the sacred blood. I know not for what superstitious motive they do this: therefore let them either receive the entire sacrament, or let them be withheld from the sacrament altogether." (cf. De Consecr. ii), "because the dividing of one and the same mystery cannot happen without a great sacrilege." And yet the later Roman Catholic church would do exactly that.

A Universal Bishop?

Pope Gregory was concerned that the Patriarch of Constantinople, St. John the Faster, had accepted the title of Ecumenical Patriarch. The title Oecumenical Patriarch (that is, Imperial Patriarch ecumenical being a common title of the Empire) since he resided in the Imperial capital, which title the Latins, with a poor understanding of Greek, read as Universal Patriarch. Byzantium also had an Ecumenical Librarian (the chief librarian in Constantinople) and the Emperior had an Ecumenical Secretary, etc. In those days "ecumenical' meant simply "imperial" and not "universal." It was confined to the 'Ecumene", to the Empire. So the patriarch was given the title of "Imperial Patriarch" - the first bishop of the Eastern Empire

Through this misunderstanding, we have the teaching from Pope St. Gregory the Great himself his opinion on the idea of a universal patriarch or bishop. When the title first appeared, St. Pope Gregory wrote to his fellow-bishops:

"I say it without the least hesitation, whoever calls himself the universal bishop, or desires this title, is, by his pride, the precursor of Antichrist, because he thus attempts to raise himself above the other bishops. The error into which he falls springs from pride equal to that of Antichrist; for as that Wicked One wished to be regarded as exalted above other men, like a god, so likewise whoever would be called sole bishop exalts himself above others...." "I exhort and entreat that not one of you bishops ever accept this name, that not one consent to it's use..., since this thing is being done to the injury and rending asunder of the whole Church, and, as we have said, to the condemning of all of you. For if anyone, as he supposes, is universal bishop, it remains that you are not bishops." ~Pope Gregory the Great ~Epistle XXXIII. To Mauricius Augustus.
How different this is to Pope Pius IX who said "There is only one: that's me." Is not Gregory here, according to modern understanding, teaching infallibly? He is teaching on a matter of faith and morals, and trying to bind the church, is he not?

But a mere few years later, Pope Boniface III in 607 takes on the title of universal bishop. This emphasis was increased until today the Pope is happy to be called universal bishop. According to the Catholic Encycolpedia article on the Pope, "The title of universal bishop occurs as early as the eighth century; and in 1413 the faculty of Paris rejected the proposition of John Hus that the pope was not universal bishop (Natalis Alexander, "Hist. eccl.", saec. XV and XVI, c. ii, art. 3, n."

Therefore, by the teachings of the Pope himself, the Papacy has the pride of the Anti-Christ.

Peter and the Rock

A large part of the Catholic claim about the position of the Pope comes from the claim that Peter is the rock upon which Christ builds his Church as per Matthew 16:18.

"A much quoted survey compiled by Roman Catholic Scholar Jean de Launoy (3) finds that 17 Fathers thought of the rock as Peter, 44 thought it referred to Peter's confession, 16 thought Christ was the rock and 8 thought the rock was all the apostles. i.e. 80% of te Fathers did not recognize Peter as the rock! Even the Council of Trent refers to Mt 16 referring to the faith that Peter expressed!" (2)

Archbishop Kenrick of St Louis used this argument in vain when he opposed the defining of Papal Infallibility at the 1st Vatican council.

In response to this some Catholic apologists will say that we can't distinguish between Peter's confession and Peter himself. This makes no sense at all, because his confession is one that every Christian confesses, it is not unique to Peter. But in any case, it is the Fathers themselves who clearly distinguish between Peter and his confession, so we need not speculate on this:

Faith is the foundation of the Church, for it was NOT OF THE PERSON but of the faith of St Peter that is was said that the gates of hell should not prevail against it, it is the confession of faith that has vanquished hell. Jesus Christ is the Rock. He did not deny the grace of His name when he called him Peter, because he borrowed from the rock the constancy and solidity of his faith. Endeavor then thyself to be a rock - thy rock is thy faith and faith is the foundation of the Church. If thou art a rock, thou shall be in the Church, for the Church is build upon the rock" ~St Ambrose, On the Incarnation.
"Rock is the unity of faith, not the person of Peter." ~St Cyprian, De Catholicae Ecclesiae Unitate, cap. 4-5

More to the point, of all the Fathers who interpret these passages in the Gospels (Matt 16:18, John 21:17), not a single one applies them to the Roman bishops as Peter's successors.

Can scripture itself throw any further light on who the rock is, who is the foundation of the Church?

For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1st Corinthians 3:11)

For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ. (1st Corinthians 10:4)

The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. ...For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? (Psalm 18:2,31)

Peter and the Keys

Roman Catholics make a great deal of fuss about Peter being given the keys to the kingdom in Mt 16. However, in Mt 16 Peter is merely promised the keys, and the early church always saw the keys and the power of binding and loosing to be the same thing, and a power not given to Peter as an individual, but rather the Church as a whole

Saint Augustine: "This refers to the keys about which it is said "whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" - Sermon III/8

Saint John Chrysostom: "The keys of the heavens, that whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven" - Homily 54.2-3.

Saint Hilary of Poiters: "This faith is that which is the foundation of the church; through this faith the gates of hell cannot prevail against her. This is the faith which has the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatsoever this faith shall have loosed or bound on earth shall be loosed or bound in heaven" - On the Trinity" Book VI

Saint Jerome: "Elsewhere the same is attributed to all the apostles, and they all receive the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and the strength of the church depends on them all alike" - Epistle 146.1

St. John Chrysostom: "For the Son of thunder, the beloved of Christ, the pillar of the Churches throughout the world, who holds the keys of heaven" - First Homily on the Gospel of St. John

Augustine: "He has given, therefore, the keys to His Church, that whatsoever it should bind on earth might be bound in heaven, and whatsoever it should loose on earth might be, loosed in heaven" - City of God

Augustine: "How the Church? Why, to her it was said, "To thee I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven, and whatsoever thou shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven." - Homilies on John 1

As we can see, the greatest Church fathers were in agreement that the keys were not anything exclusive for Peter, but rather were given to the whole church through all the apostles. The keys and the binding and loosing are the same thing. The idea that Peter got the keys singularly while the rest of the apostles got them as a group is an eisegesis read back into the passage by modern Roman Catholic apologists. It is not the ancient belief of the Church.

The Eastern Funeral service also agrees with the same thing, and in fact one of the uniate bishops said the following absolution over the body of Pope John Paul II: From the Funeral Service

"Greatly merciful Sovereign Lord Jesus Christ our God, Who after Your holy, third day resurrection from the dead gave to Your holy Disciples and Apostles the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and also the authority of Your Grace both to bind and to loose the sins of men, so that bound in Heaven would be whatsoever things through them might be bound on earth, and likewise loosed in Heaven whatsoever things; through them might be loosed; and gave also that as their successors, we, Your deficient and unworthy servants, should have, by Your unutterable and manbefriending love, this same exceedingly holy Gift and Grace from You, so that we in like manner should both bind and loose the things that happen to be done among Your people;"

The Seven Ecumenical Councils

"When Roman Catholics think of the early church they think of Rome, the Popes the Catacombs and the Colosseum. However the early church was overwhelmingly Eastern... The East could claim 44 apostolic churches compared to the West's one... The East contained all but one of the Apostolic Sees", and due to its greater population density was far larger. By the time of the split of 1054, the See of Constantinople alone was larger than that of Rome, and that doesn't count the other Eastern sees and the new Russian and Slavonic churches.

The First Council - Rome is to Keep to Itself

325 AD: 318 Eastern bishops. One Western bishop from Cordova.

The first council was called by Emperor Constantine. Some Roman Catholic books claim that it was called with the consent of the Pope, but as Catholic historian Leo Donald Davis points out in his book "The Seven Ecumenical Councils", this legend surfaced in the 7th and 8th centuries.

This first council set the blueprint for all the other 6 councils. "They were all called by the Emperor, they were all held in the East, all the proceedings were conducted in Greek, they were all were overwhelmingly attended by Eastern bishops... The Pope never attended any of the 7 councils. The 2nd council was called without the knowledge of the Pope, and the 4th and 5th were called against his express wishes." (11)

"Thus we see the early church was conciliar in government, and the general councils represented the highest judicial body of the Church, and that these councils were not called to advise the Bishop of Rome, and that Bishops of Rome did not enjoy veto power. Nowhere in the canons or creeds of any of these councils do we find any recognition of Rome's claim to supreme universal jurisdiction" let alone power to declare dogma ex-cathedra. "None of the Church Fathers ever settled doctrinal disputes by appealing to an infallible pope." (11)

CANON IV. IT is by all means proper that a bishop should be appointed by all the bishops in the province; but should this be difficult, either on account of urgent necessity or because of distance, three at least should meet together, and the suffrages of the absent bishops also being given and communicated in writing, then the ordination should take place. But in every province the ratification of what is done should be left to the Metropolitan.
CANON VI. LET the ancient customs in Egypt, Libya and Pentapolis prevail, that the Bishop of Alexandria have jurisdiction in all these, since the like is customary for the Bishop of Rome also. Likewise in Antioch and the other provinces, let the Churches retain their privileges. And this is to be universally understood, that if any one be made bishop without the consent of the Metropolitan, the great Synod has declared that such a man ought not to be a bishop. If, however, two or three bishops shall from natural love of contradiction, oppose the common suffrage of the rest, it being reasonable and in accordance with the ecclesiastical law, then let the choice of the majority prevail.
How different this is to now where the bishop of Rome reserves the right to appoint bishops. Even for Eastern Catholic churches, the Pope now claims to "enjoy supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power in the Church which he can always freely exercise" (Canon 43 of the Eastern Catholic Churches).

Contrary to the Roman Catholic claim that Rome represents some kind of an ultimate appellate authority, no council ever mentions such a power. On the contrary canons such as Canon 6 of the 1st Council tells Rome to stay within its own territory and likewise for Alexandria and Antioch. There was no principle of "appello ad Romam." Bishops would appeal to various more important church centres, to the one which they hoped would favour their cause, be it Rome or Constantinople.

The Council of Sardica

Called in 343 A.D. by the Roman Emperors Constans and Constantius II at the urgent entreaty of Pope Julius I

Eighty Eastern bishops, refused to accept that Eastern bishops should be judged or ordered by Rome. In addition, they were outraged to learn that bishops expelled from the Church by a lawful Eastern synod were reinstated by Rome, which acted alone and with no authority to make such a unilateral decision.

As a result of these conflicts, we read in the highly informative and very authoritative ancient documents Collectanea Antiariana Parisina (A, IV) the following condemnation of Rome's self-imposed and fictional authority over the Church at large. The majority bishops, seeing Rome's desire for hegemony, wrote: (We protest strongly)... "the novelty, which is abhorrent to the ancient custom of the Church, that that which has been decided by an Oriental Council of bishops should be revoked by a Western bishop."

At the conclusion of the documents Pope Julius is censured with an anathema.

You see there the proof that the notion of any supremacy of authority in Rome was NOT known to these bishops. They deem it a novelty. They say it is "abhorrent to the ancient custom of the Church."

Sometimes Catholic apologists refer to canons of Sardica that allow a bishop to appeal to Rome. However, the bishop of Rome isn't given the power to pass judgement, only to refer the matter to be reconsidered by a local synod of bishops. They did not permit the Roman pontiffs to intervene in any case on their own initiative. Further, they did not grant the pope authority over any bishops except those who resided in lands subject to his jurisdiction. At the time these ordinances were drawn up, the Roman Church held sway over Macedonia, Thessaly, Illyricum, Greece, the Peloponnesus, and Epirus, which later (732-33) passed over to the jurisdiction of the patriarch of Constantinople, who then took over the administration of appeals from these regions. The Patriarch Photius (recognized as a saint by Eastern Catholic churches) ca. 860 declared in a letter to Pope Nicholas I (858-67) that the Church of Constantinople was not bound by Sardican regulations.

The Second Council - Rome is snubbed

381 AD: 150 Eastern bishops. No representative from the West.

The Fathers of the Second Council, in their opening Act, confirmed the First Council and its teachings without ever having heard back from the Pope what he thought of the First!

In 381, Emperor Theodosius I summoned a council without the knowledge of the Pope. This became known as the First Council of Constantinople, or Second Ecumenical Council. The first president of this council was St Meletius, Bishop of Antioch, who was not in communion with Rome. The third canon of this council gave the Bishop of Constantinople precedence of honour over all bishops except that of Rome "because Constantinople is the new Rome". Of this canon, Leo Donald Davis in his book "The First Seven Ecumenical Councils" says that "Though the canon was not directed against Rome, no notice was taken of the claim of its bishop to a primacy among bishops based on his succession from Peter". (p 128).

"British historian Henry Chadwick notes that "although it conceded that Rome was the first see of Christendom, it implied that Roman Primacy depended on the city's secular standing" (The Early Church, P 151).

At the conclusion of the council, the "fathers requested the Emperor to seal their decisions and Thodosius gave them legal effect. While the East recognized the council as ecumenical, Rome only belatedly did so in the 6th century." (12)

The bishops at Constantinople did write to the Pope to inform him of what was decided, but it is clear from their letter that they considered the issues canonically settled already, without needing the Pope's approval:

"To the right honourable lords our right reverend brethren and colleagues, Damasus, Ambrosius, Britton, Valerianus, Ascholius, Anemius, Basilius and the rest of the holy bishops assembled in the great city of Rome, the holy synod of the orthodox bishops assembled at the great city of Constantinople sends greeting in the Lord.... "We beseech your reverence to rejoice at what has thus been rightly and canonically settled by us, by the intervention of spiritual love and by the influence of the fear of the Lord, compelling the feelings of men, and making the edification of churches of more importance than individual grace or favour."
There's no sign here at all of the later Western assertion that one needs a Papal approval before the council can be considered authoritative.

The Third Council - Pope is judged

431 AD: 200 Eastern bishops. No Western bishops but two or three minor clerics.

"On 25th December 1931, Pope Pius XI issued an encyclical entitled Lux Veritatus (The Light of Truth). For Pius XI the 3rd council proves "so expressly and significantly that already, throughout the universal church, there was a strong and common faith in the authority of the Roman Pontiff over the whole flock of Christ, an authority subject to no one and incapable of error". A dissenting voice is dismissed as "... a fabric of falsehood clothed with a specious appearance of truth.". We shall examine the 3rd council with Pope Pius' comments in mind." (13)

"In AD 431, Emperor Theodosius II summoned a general council to meet at Ephesus to answer the heresy of Nestorius.. In 430, Pope Celestine had held a synod in Rome in which he condemned Nestorius. Celestine then wrote to Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria informing him of the results of the council and authorizing Cyril "the authority of our See, having been combined with yours, and acting authoritatively in our stead will carry out this sentence with due severity". Upon receipt of this letter, Cyril called a council at Alexandria, in which he issued a synodal letter in the name of both Rome and Alexandria to Nestorius and attached 12 anathemas of his own without Rome's sanction. If Cyril recognizes Rome's supreme authority, why does he call a council and issue synodal letter in the name of both churches?" (14)

"Pius XI in Lux Veritatus asserts that: "Nor was Nestorius ignorant of the supreme authority of the Roman Bishop over the universal church....". In point of fact, Nestorius' correspondance to Celestine proves the opposite for his correspondance is permeated with a sense of equality that his own see of Constantinople enjoys with that of Rome. He looks upon Celestine as a "brother" and addresses him as such: "We ought to have fraternal communications with each other in turns in order that by obtaining concord we may oppose the Devil, the enemy of peace" ~Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova et Amplissima Collectio 1017-1022. He continues: "Let us narrate out affairs to each other as brothers to brothers". In a letter to Cyril he expresses a dim view of Celestine as a theologian: "a man too simple to be able to understand acutely the sense of the dogmas"." (15)

Lux Veritus makes the point that "Cyril addressed most dutiful letters to 'the most blessed Father Celestine, beloved of God'". This is misleading since he addressed the Patriarch of Constantinople with just as gushing terms: "My most holy and worshipful lord, archbishop father Maximian". Celestine's successor Sixtus III writes to Cyril that the whole church is indebted to him to the point that "all are subject to you". ~Mansi V, 374. Imagine the milage Roman Catholic apologists would get from that if it had been the other way around!. (16)

Let's look at another example of gushing language, this time where the Pope calls the Emperor "the rock on which God's city is built" and "wavers in no part of the faith" with "perfect judgment" and "no error can delude your faith". Can you imagine the milage Roman Catholic apologists would get from this if it had been the Emperor addressing the Pope, and yet it is the other way around!

For in your Majesties' communications it is beyond doubt revealed what the Holy Spirit is working through you for the good of the whole Church... And hence, since I know you, venerable Prince, imbued as you are with the purest light of truth, waver in no part of the Faith, but with just and perfect judment distinguish right from wrong and separate what is to be embraced from what is to be rejected, I beseech you not to think that my humility is to be blamed for want of competance, since my cautiousness is not only in the interest of the universal Church but also for the furtherance of your own glory... I am very confident of the piety of your heart in all things, and perceive that through the Spirit of God dwelling in you, you are sufficiently instructed, not can any error delude your faith". ~Letter 162. Leo the Bishop to Leo Augustus.

Clearly we need to be cautious before we take gushing language between high ranking people in the ancient world with too much doctrinal seriousness, otherwise we could have a doctrine of infallible emperors.

"To paint Cyril of Alexandria as recognizing a supreme authority in the bishop of Rome is deplorable because such a claim cannot be found in any of his writings. In fact he rejects the theological basis for the Petrene claims when he writes "Peter and John were both apostles and saints adorned with equal honours and powers". In commenting on Mt 16:18 he teaches that the word "rock has only a denominative value - it signifies NOTHING but the steadfast and firm faith of the apostles" ~Of the Trinity, Book 4." (17)

However, to prop up their claims, Catholics of the middle ages found it necessary to forge the evidence. A great number of forgeries attributed to Cyril were accepted by Thomas Aquinas. How different things may have been were he not misled! The forgeries are listed by Roman Catholic Scholar Jean de Launoy (~Op., tom. V. bk. i. p. 1).

"Three months before the council of Ephesus had been convened, Pope Celestine had excommunicated Nestorius for heresy. The council however completely ignored the Pope's action and treated Nestorius as the Patriarch of Constantinople in good standing. The council then proceeded to examine the evidence and pronounce its own sentence. (18). Ignoring the excommunication, Nestorius is addressed as "most religious bishop of Constantinople" during the trial. After judgment by the Council he was anatheatized and excommunicated.

In Lux Veritus, Pope Pius XI claims that the Fathers merely ratified the sentence of Pope Celestine, by making the unsubstantiated claim that the judgment of Celestine had not yet arrived in Constantinople, and it was not yet known, the inference being that the Emperor would not have called the council had he known of the Pope's judgment. But the Emperor recognized general councils as the supreme ruling body of the church, not the bishop of Rome. Theodosius was well aware of Celestine's judgment.. According to British Byzantine historian Steven Runciman, two months is more than enough time to cover the distance from Rome to Constantinople, which means Celestine's judgment would have arrived by early October. Theodosius summoned the council on 19th November. Jesuit historian Leo Donald Davis SK agrees that of course the Emperor knew of Rome's judgment: "In November the emperor, not regarding the papal condemnation as definitive had already convoked a general council". The Emperor in his letter to Cyril demonstrates that a general council has supreme authority: "It is our will that the holy doctrine be discussed and examined in a sacred Synod, and that be ratified which appeareth agreeable to the right faith, whether the wrong party be pardoned by the Fathers or no... those who everywhere preside over the Priesthood and through whom we ourselves are and shall be professing the truth, must be judges of this matter". (~Du Concile generale et de la paix religieuse, vol 1, p 183.)(19)

Famous French historian and Roman Catholic Bishop Bossuet observes: "It was fixed that all was in suspense once the authority of the universal Synod was invoked even though the sentence of the Roman Pontiff about doctrine and about persons accused of heresy had been uttered and promulgated". Roman Catholic historian Bishop Maret states: "The Pope had pronounced in the affair of Nestorius a canonical judgment clothed with all the authority of his see. He had prescribed its execution. Yet however, three months after this sentence and before its execution, all the episcopate is invited to examine afresh and to decide freely the question in dispute".

St Vincent of Lerins, lists the names of the ten men whose witnesses or judgments were decisive in Nestorius' condemnation. Pope Celestine's name is not included. He describes the councils judgment thus: "And that blessed council holding their doctrine, following their counsel, believing their witness, submitting to their judgment without haste, without forgone conclusion, without partiality, gave their determination concerning the Rules of Faith. (~ Commonitorium of St Vincent of Lerins, Bk 1, Ch XXX).

"It is indeed sad and incomprehensible that a man of Pius' XI's stature could pen a document such as Lux Veritatis containing as it does such glaring errors and unfounded assumptions, especially when his main points are flatly contradicted by some of the Catholic Church's finest historians." (20)

The Fourth Council - Old and New Rome are Equal

This council was called by Emperor Marcian in 451 against the express wishes of Pope Leo who only reluctantly agreed to it after the Emperor had convoked it. The Pope begged the Emperor to defer to a more peaceful time. On another occasion Leo pleaded with the Emperor for a council to be held in Italy. The Emperor was unmoved.

Sometimes Catholics refer to the expression of the council "Peter has spoken through Leo" as an argument for the Pope's authority. However this is negated when we read the entire text:

After the reading of the foregoing epistle, the most reverend bishops cried out: This is the faith of the fathers, this is the faith of the Apostles. So we all believe, thus the orthodox believe. Anathema to him who does not thus believe. Peter has spoken thus through Leo. So taught the Apostles. Piously and truly did Leo teach, so taught Cyril. Everlasting be the memory of Cyril. Leo and Cyril taught the same thing, anathema to him who does not so believe. This is the true faith. Those of us who are orthodox thus believe. This is the faith of the fathers.

"So we see that Pope Leo and Cyril are on equal footing in proclaiming the true faith. When we read the minutes of the council we see that the Illrian bishops thought Cyril's writings to be the benchmark of orthodoxy rather than Pope Leo's. In fact, in the 5th session they thought that Pope Leo had Nestorian leanings when they shouted "The opponents are Nestorian, let them go to Rome". The Church Fathers scrutinized Leo's tome before they declared it orthodox. They did not just accept it because it came from the Bishop of Rome." (21)

Canon 28 of the council is also very instructive in understanding the position of the bishops of this council towards the bishop of Rome:

FOLLOWING in all things the decisions of the holy Fathers, and acknowledging the canon, which has been just read, of the One Hundred and Fifty Bishops beloved-of-God (who assembled in the imperial city of Constantinople, which is New Rome, in the time of the Emperor Theodosius of happy memory), we also do enact and decree the same things concerning the privileges of the most holy Church of Constantinople, which is New Rome. For the Fathers rightly granted privileges to the throne of old Rome, because it was the royal city. And the One Hundred and Fifty most religious Bishops, actuated by the same consideration, gave equal privileges (isa presbeia) to the most holy throne of New Rome, justly judging that the city which is honoured with the Sovereignty and the Senate, and enjoys equal privileges with the old imperial Rome, should in ecclesiastical matters also be magnified as she is, and rank next after her; so that, in the Pontic, the Asian, and the Thracian dioceses, the metropolitans only and such bishops also of the Dioceses aforesaid as are among the barbarians, should be ordained by the aforesaid most holy throne of the most holy Church of Constantinople; every metropolitan of the aforesaid dioceses, together with the bishops of his province, ordaining his own provincial bishops, as has been declared by the divine canons; but that, as has been above said, the metropolitans of the aforesaid Dioceses should be ordained by the archbishop of Constantinople, after the proper elections have been held according to custom and have been reported to him.

"Thus the council recognizes Rome's primacy of honour, but this recognition is political, because it was the ancient seat of government, not theological. Thus rejecting Leo's vision of Rome's primacy being based on a divinely created "chair" of Peter. Furthermore, this canon recalls that Rome's Primacy was granted by the Fathers of the Council of Nicea (Canon 6) not by divine right of Mt 16. Pope Leo himself recognizes this when, venting his displeasure to the Empress Pulcheria Augusta at the idea of Constantinople enjoying equal status with Rome, he appeals not to Mt 16, but to canon 6 of Nicea: "For no one may venture upon anything in opposition to the enactments of the Fathers' canons which many long years ago in the city of Nicea were founded upon the decrees of the Spirit, so that any one who wishes to pass any different decree injures himself rather than impairs them" (~Letter CV to Pulcheria Augusta, P 76, Nicean and Post Nicean Fathers, 2nd Seris, vol 12, Leo the Great)." (22)

Leo claims in his encyclical Satis Cognitum "The 28th Canon of Chalcedon, by the very fact that it lacks the assent and approval of the Apostolic see, is admitted by all to be worthless". Of course, worthless or not, it gives us a clear window onto what all the eastern bishops of the Church understood about the position of Rome, circa 451 AD. And Leo's claim is in glaring contrast to the hindsight of history. The Patriarch and Emperor wrote conciliatory letters to Leo reminding him that Canon 28 "merely sanctioned a custom of 60-70 years in the dioceses of Pontus, Asia and Thrace". The Patriarch of Constantinople continued to exercise jurisdictional power with which the canon invested him, and the Eastern Church removed any doubt when it was recognized at the Council of Trullo.

The Fifth Council - Pope held hostage, then caves

Despite condemnation at Ephesus, Nestorianism was still very much alive. Emperor Justinian hoped to restore unity by condemning the so-called Three Chapters in an Imperial Edict. These Three Chapters were texts written by three fifth century bishops, Theodore, Theodoret and Ibas who were suspected of Nestorian tendencies. However all three had been cleared by the Council of Chalcedon. But Justinian thought he could win over moderate Monophysites by condemning them. The 543 AD the Imperial condemnation was sent to the five apostolic sees and under pressure four patriarchs signed, while Pope Vigilius procrastinated. Therefore in 22nd November 545 an officer of the imperial guard sailed down the Tiber with an escort and seized the obstinate pope and carried him off to Constantinople where he remained under house arrest for ten years.

"Upon his arrival in Constantinople in 547 Pope Vigilius refused to condemn the three chapters and refused to enter communion with Mennas, Patriarch of Constantinople and others who signed the edict. In 548 however Vigilius reversed his position and issued a document known as Judicatum in which he formally anathematized the three chapters. In this action he was seen as betraying Chalcedon and a storm of protest followed. The West deserted him, including his own deacons in Rome and a council in North Africa led by Reparatus of Carthage excommunicated him. British historian Judith Herrin draws the conclusion that this massive opposition "sprang from a fundamental support for the oecumenical council as the highest authority within the church. Thus they were not prepared to see the decision of Chalcedon impugned as unorthodox". (23)

"While Pope Vigilius then caved into this opposition and withdrew Judicatum but secretly assured the Emperor by letter that he would do his utmost to procure the desired condemnation. Later however, Vigilius again changed his mind and refused outright condemnation of the three chapters. By this time Justinian was exasperated and summoned a council against Vigilius' wishes which met in Constantinople on May 4th 553. While the council was in session Vigilius drew up a document Constitutum in which he reversed his judgment for the third time. It could be argued that Judicatum was under duress, however no such case can be made for Constitutum. In this document he condemns certain writings of Theodore but not his person and defends Theodoret and Ibas as being Orthodox. (24) He closes his encyclical with:

We ordain and decree that it be permitted to no one belonging to any ecclesiastical order or office to write or bring forward or compose or teach anything contrary to the contents of this Constitutum in regard to the Three Chapters or after this present definition to move any further question. And if anything has been done, said or written by anyone anywhere about the Three Chapters contrary to what we here assert and decree... this in all we refute by the authority of the Apostolic See in which by grace of God we preside.

"Pope Vigilius' Constitutum was a solemn judgment on faith and dogma, containing 61 anathemas issued by the Bishop of Rome to the Emperor and a General Council of the Church for their guidance and instruction. The finality of the judgment is exemplified by the words "ordain and decree". If this is not ex-cathedra, what possibly could be?" (25)

The Emperor refused to receive Constitutum returning it with the scornful answer "If you have condemned the three chapters I have no need of this new document for I have from you many others of the same content. If however you have in this new document departed from your earlier declarations, you have condemned yourself". (~Mansi IX 349).

"However the 5th Ecumenical Council proceeded to pronounce its own judgment and condemned and anathematized the Three Chapters, declaring furthermore "We therefore anathematize.. those who have written or do write in defence of them or who dare to say that they are correct and who have defended or attempt to defend their impiety" (~Sentence of the Synod, p311 Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers). Obviously, Vigilius fell under the anathema of the Council and the Council ordered the Pope's name struck from the Diptychs of the Church "on account of the impiety which he defended" (ibid). The diptychs were the recognized symbol of unity consisting of lists each Patriarch kept of churches in communion." (26)

After six months Pope Vigilius capitulated and reversed his judgment for a fourth time by issuing a second Constitutum dated 24th Feb 554 condemning and anathematizing the Three Chapters and blaming the devil for misleading him. French Catholic Bishop Bossuet observed: "These things prove, that in a matter of the utmost importance, disturbing the whole church, and seeming to belong to the Faith, the decrees of sacred council prevail over the decrees of Pontiffs, and the letter Ibas, though defended by a judgment of the Roman Pontiff could nevertheless be proscribed as heretical". (27)

From the Fifth Ecumenical Council of Constantinople II, Session VII (553): "But we bishops answered him (Pope Vigilius): "If your blessedness is willing to meet together with us and the holy Patriarchs, and the most religious bishops, and to treat of the Three Chapters and to give, in unison with us all, a suitable form of the orthodox faith, as the Holy Apostles and the holy Fathers and the four councils have done, we will hold thee as our head, as a father and primate."

Clearly the Pope's position as first in the Church was conditional upon his orthodoxy. If the Pope gave an orthodox confession, he would be recognized as first. If he did not, then he would not. The Church judges individual bishops, not the other way around. How different things would be at Vatican I.

In this quote from the 5th Ecumenical council we have embodied the Orthodox position today. The Pope was first and primate for so long as he remains orthodox. If he ceases to be orthodox, he ceases to be first. The authority of the Ecumenical Council upholds Orthodoxy.

The Fifth/Sixth Council of Trullo - West ignored

692 AD: 215 Eastern bishops. No Western bishops.

Both the Fifth and the Sixth General Councils had omitted to draw up disciplinary canons, and as this council was intended to complete both in this respect, it also took the name of Quinisext (Concilium Quinisextum, Eunodos penthekte), i.e. Fifth-Sixth.

The eastern churches have always considered this council ecumenical even though it was never accepted by the Pope. Yet again, the east has little concern for the opinion of the pope, and made little effort to appease the west.

The Sixth Council - Papal heresy

Further humiliation awaited the Roman Papacy in the 6th Ecumenical council which was summoned by Emperor Constantine IV in 680 in Constantinople to condemn the Monothelites. A big proponent of Monothelitism was Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople who, in order to gain support for his formula wrote to Pope Honorius. Pope Honorius responded in two letters that he accepted the idea that Christ had only one will: "we confess one will of our Lord Jesus Christ". He ends his letter, "These things your fraternity will preach with us as we ourselves preach them like minded with you".

Pope Honorius, Patriarch Sergius and others were anathematized as heretics by the 6th ecumenical council. "We altogether reject them and execrate them as soul destroying and we have judged that the very names of those whose impious doctrines we execrate should be cast out of the Holy Church of God... With them also we have judged that Honorius who was Pope of old Rome should be together with them cast out of the Holy Church of God and be anathematized together with them because we have found from the letter written by him to Sergius that in all things he followed his own mind and confirmed his impious dogmas". The Council then exclaimed "Anathema to the heretic Sergius! Anathema to the heretic Honorius". The Council concluded by listing "Honorius who was Pope of old Rome" among the instruments of the Devil. Emperor Constantine confirmed the Council's decrees stating "We anathematize and reject those also who are the heretical promoters and patrons of the superfluous and new dogmas" Among these "Honorius, who was Pope of old Rome, who in all things promoted and cooperated with and confirmed their heresy".

Pope Leo II wrote in a letter to the Emperor "Honorius, who did not attempt to sanctify this apostolic Church with the teaching of apostolical tradition but by profane treachery tried to subvert its spotless faith". Until it was removed in the 16th century, the condemnation of Pope Honorius was commemorated in the Roman Breviary in the 3rd lesson for the Feast of St Leo, June 28th. "St Leo II accepted the Holy Sixth Council wherein were condemned Cyrus, Sergius, Honorius, Pyrrhus who asserted or preached one will and operation in our Lord Jesus Christ". "Ultimately references to the condemnation of a Pope became an embarrassment. But where were the theologians in those nine intervening centuries presenting the modern Roman Catholic apologetic that Honorius never taught heresy? There were none, because infallibility had not yet been thought of." (P28)

This obviously presented difficulties for the Ultra Montanists at the first Vatican Council, attempting to promulgate the doctrine of infallibility. There were many at the council who denied that Honorius had ever been condemned as a heretic, among them Archbishop Manning of England who stated that the two letters of Honorius were entirely orthodox and that he was only censured for omission of apostolic authority.

Dom Cuthbert Butler in his book "The Vatican Council 1869-1870" quotes historian Abbot Chapman in putting to rest any doubt about Pope Honorius being condemned for heresy:

The attitude of the Ultramontane apologists and controverialists at the time of the Council was to question the authenticity of the documents, or to defend the substantial orthodoxy of Honorius' letters. Abbot Chapman says that both these positions should be abandoned: "the authenticity of the documents is above suspicion" and in the face of the decree of the 6th ecumenical council and of divers papal acts "unquestionably no Catholic has the right to deny that Honorius was a heretic [though in the sense that Origen and Theodor Mopsuestia were heretics] a heretic in words if not in intention". "I would no doubt be uncharitable to regard the Pope as a 'private heretic' but his letters treated as definitions of faith are obviously and beyond doubt heretical, for in a definition it is the words that matter".

"It was claimed that Honorius was not speaking ex-cathedra because he only responded privately to Sergius. However, the Patriarch of Constantinople was not interested in the private opinion of a Roman Cleric named Honorius. He was formally asking Pope Honorius to render an official verdict in his official capacity as Bishop of Rome on a major controversy of the Faith that was engulfing the Church. The 6th Ecumenical council stressed that Patriarch Sergius' letter to Honorius was "dogmatic" and that Honorius' reply was in kind." (29)

The Seventh Council - West ignores the Pope

The Seventh Council (Nicea II) was called in 787 by Empress Irene to affirm veneration of icons. The decision reached Charlemagne, King of the Franks in Latin translation and the King rejected it. Pope Hadrian responded by defending the council, but Charlemagne ignored the Pope to whom he did not feel subordinate in church affairs. He had a declaration issued called the Libri Carolini which not only attacked the 7th Council but also complained that despite attendance by legates as representatives of the Pope, that the Frankish church was not represented.

"Charlemagne called his own council in 794 (the council of Frankfurt) to repudiate the 7th Council, which was well attended since bishops came from the entire Western Church and upheld Charlemagne's repudiation. Despite Rome's formal acceptance, it took a long time before the Western Church recognized the 7th Council. Even in the 9th century, depite his predecessors' ratification and defence of the 7th Council, Pope Nicholas I still only recognized the first 6 councils as did France as late as the 11th century. (~Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol 6, P 636 1972)."(30)

British Historian Judith Herrin comments: "As few bishops of Rome had bilingual skills, they were increasingly dependent on Latin translation of Greek theologial texts. Although canon law was recognised as fundamental to a universal faith, Rome had no complete Latin version of the decisions of the first four oecumenical councils until the early 6th century. Full participation in the process of defining dogma and establishing ecclesiastical discipline was therefore denied to the See of St Peter, for without a complete knowledge of past rulings it was powerless".

An Eighth Council? - Rome Condemns Itself

The Orthodox church does not usually enumerate more than seven councils, but it does accept as authoritative a number of other councils that refer to themselves as ecumenical. One of them is the sometimes-called Eighth Ecumenical Council or Constantinople IV (879-880). The Roman Catholic Church does not acknowledge this council, instead it acknowledges a Council that was held ten years earlier in Constantinople in 869/870. But Roman Catholic Canonists did not start counting this as the 8th council until the 12th century. What they ignored is that at the joint East West council of 879, the council of 869 had been annulled.

This true Eighth council of 879 went to great trouble to reiterate that nobody was to alter or amend the Nicean creed, and were anyone to do so, they would be "condemned and thrown out of the Christian Confession". Of course a couple of hundred years later, Rome did exactly this, and therefore condemned itself. No wonder the Roman Catholic canonists of the 12th century had to revise history!

Augustine, and the Pelagian Controversy

"It should be pointed out that the famous epigram attributed to Augustine: "Roma locuta est; causa finita est", is completely untrue. Augustine made no such statement. The origin of this remark is supposedly drawn from Sermon 131:10 which is as follows "Already two councils have sent to an apostolic see concerning this matter, and rescripts have come from hence. The case is concluded; would that error soon cease....". Augustine is stating that two African councils have rendered judgment against the Pelagians, and the were sent to Rome, "from thence rescripts have come; the cause is finished". The African church and Rome have condemned Pelagius and that iis the end of the matter". (4)

"When Pope Zosimus restored Pelagius, Augustine and the African church did not hesitate to vigorously oppose him by calling a council at Carthage where Pelagius was anathematized. The council then appealed to the tribunal of the Roman Emperor Honorius who issued an imperial edict banishing the Pelagians from Rome. Pope Zosimus ultimately backed down and issued his own condemnation."(5)

"Augustine had ample opportunity in his actions and vast literary works to express belief in the supreme jurisdiction of Rome. Of all the Fathers of the Church, Augustine wrote the most on church unity and authority. He wrote 75 chapters to the separated Donatists in "The Unity of the Church", using all sort of arguments to urge them to return to communion. Of the necessity of communion with Rome, or Rome as a centre of unity, or Rome's supreme authority, there is not one single word." (6) The silence is deafening.

It should be noted that we should not find anything special in Augustine referring to Rome as an "apostolic see". He is not conferring any special power or authority in the title for "The Christian Society is diffused by the propagation all over the world by the Apostolic Sees and the succession of bishops in them" (Retractationes 1:21. P.L. 32:618)

Nor should we find any importance in English translations that refer to THE Apostolic See, since the Latin language, which Augustine spoke, lacks the article - i.e. the word "the".

"As with other Fathers of the early church, Augustine recognized the General Councils as the supreme authority of the church. In his dispute with the Donatists about rebaptism he does not condemn Cyprian for refusing to submit to the Bishop of Rome, for he writes that a General Council has not issued a judgment on the subject and that Cyprian would "undoubtedly have yielded if at any time the truth of the question had been placed beyond all dispute by the investigation and decree of a General Council" (De Bapt. Contra Donatistas, lib ii. Patrologiae Latinae Cursus Completus 43:129, JP Mige, Paris 1844-66)." With respect to the correct baptismal formula Augustine says "We ourselves would not dare to assert anything such unless we were supported by the most harmoniuous authority of the universal Church" (De Bapt. Contra Donatistas lib vii PL 43:242, 243." In response to one of its deposed priests appealing to Pope Zosimus for reinstatement, the North African Church asserted its independent jurisdiction at the Synod of Carthage on 1st May 418 by passing the following canon:" (7)

"If priests, deacons, and inferior clerics, complain of a sentence of their own bishop, they shall, with the consent of their bishop, have recourse to the neighboring bishops, who shall settle the dispute. If they desire to make a further appeal it must only be to their primates or to African councils. But whosoever appeals to a court on the other side of the sea [Rome] may not again be received into communion by any one in Africa." ~ Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova et Amplissima Collectio GD Mansi III, 726, Florence, 1759-63.

"For Augustine, appealing against Rome to a General Council was the legitimate course of appeal, as he says in his Epistle 43: "Supposing those bishops who judged at Rome were not good judges, there remained still a plenary Council of the univeral Church where the cause could be sifted with the judges themselves, so that if they were convicted of having judged wrongly their sentence could be annulled". ~Patrologiae Latinae Cursus Completus 33:169" (8)

When we look at the overall picture of Augustine, we see that he has no knowledge of the supreme pontiff ruling the universal church. The "Roma locuta est; causa finita est" is truely a desperate attempt to find in Augustine something that was not there.

The Easter Controversy

The Church in Asia-Minor celebrated Easter at the same time as the Jewish Passover, i.e. on the 14th day of Nisan. This practice they claimed was given to them by the Apostles. Other Churches, Rome included, celebrated Easter on the Sunday following the full moon after the Spring Equinox. Eusebius (ca 260-340) tells us that synods and conferences of bishops were convened in an effort to achieve uniformity. This was initiated by Pope St Victor who sent letters to various Metropolitans requesting them to convene synods in order to discuss the question. That this was a request and not a command is evidenced by Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus in his letter to Victor and the Roman Church. These synods and conferences issued a decree of the Church. The decree came from the councils, not from the Pope. Furthermore, we see Pope Victor's name listed matter-of-factly along with all the others; he doesn't even get first mention but is listed after the bishop of Palestine - most unlikely if he convened the council.

The Asian bishops headed by Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus refused to heed the decree and a dispute broke out between him and Pope Victor who demanded submission. The Churches of Asia also had Apostolic origins as Polycrates reminded Pope Victor in a measured dignified response:

We for our part keep the day scrupulously, without addition or subtraction. For in Asia great luminaries sleep who shall rise again on the day of the Lord's advent, when He is coming with glory from heaven and shall search out all His saints such as Philip, one of the twelve apostles. . . . Again there is [the apostle] John, who leant back on the Lord's breast. . . . Then in Smyrna there is Polycarp, bishop and martyr. . . . All of these kept the fourteenth day of the month as the beginning of the Paschal festival, in accordance with the Gospel, not deviating in the least but following the rule of the Faith. Last of all I too, Polycrates, the least of you all, act according to the tradition of my family, some members of which I have actually followed; for seven of them were bishops and I am the eighth, and my family have always kept the day when the people put away the leaven. So I, my friends, . . . am not scared of threats. Better people than I have said: We must obey God rather than men [Acts 5:29].

Victor, in the meantime, polled the leading bishops in other regions, and they unanimously reported that they observed Easter on Sunday. Only the province of Asia differed in its practice. The Catholic Encyclopedia states: Victor, who acted throughout the entire matter as the head of Catholic Christendom, now called upon the bishops of the province of Asia to abandon their custom and to accept the universally prevailing practice of always celebrating Easter on Sunday. In case they would not do this he declared they would be excluded from the fellowship of the Church."

Victor then attempted to cut off from communion the Asian dioceses on the ground of heterodoxy. "The key word here is "attempted"" (9). As Eusebius reports: "But this was not to the taste of all the bishops: they replied with a request the he would turn his mind to the things that make for peace and unity and love towards his neighbours. We still possess the words of these men who very sternly rebuked Victor. Among them was Irenaeus, who whote on behalf of the Christians for whom he was responsible in Gaul." ~Eusebius History, V.24. Apparently Irenaeus was flexible in his exhortation that all Churches must agree with Rome!

It is interesting to note that Irenaeus relates that Polycarp of Smyrna had visited Rome 40 years earlier where Pope Anicetus had tried to persuade the great bishop to adope Rome's Easter to no avail. "Though the position was such they remained in communion with each other". Note that Irenaeus does not say that Polycarp remained in communion with Rome but rather "they remained in communion with each other".

The Great Schism

Unless you are a protestant who thinks the true church had disappeared from the earth, it is impossible to separate the issue of the papacy from the question of which church continued the apostolic tradition and retained the status of being the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church after the schism of 1054.

And when deciding who continued to be the true church, it is hard to escape the strong argument that whoever was wrong in this dispute and caused the schism can hardly retain the mantle of being the true church. This is even more relevant in light of the Catholic claim that the papacy's reason de jure, is to keep the unity. If the papacy botched that job, it can hardly have a special charism for unity.

"The spark that ignited the schism between Rome and Constantinople was the question of jurisdictional rights over the diocese in Byzantine territories in Southern Italy. These territories were held by Norman freebooters and with papal approval were forcing the Greek churches to adopt Latin practices, such as using unleavened bread. When Michael Cerularius, Patriarch of Constantinople heard this he immediately retaliated against the pope and ordered Latin churches in his territory to conform to Greek practices.

Michael Cerularius then, in an error of judgment, enlisted Leo, Archbishop of Ochrid, head of the Bulgarian church, in the writing of a letter to the Byzantine bishop, John of Trani in Apulia. This letter, in which he vehemently attacked the practices of the Latin church, such as the use of unleavened bread, was to be passed on to the Pope and the bishops of the Franks. When Pope Leo IX read this vitriolic epistle, he was deeply offended and quickly responded in kind with a detailed document disrespectfully addressed to "Michael of Constantinople, and Leo of Ochrid, bishops", in which he lectured them on the supremacy of Rome. The rationale Leo used for these papal claims was the forged Donation of Constantine, a document unknown to the Byzantines. Before this letter was sent, a letter arrived from Patriarch Michael. The letter from Michael survives, and was considerate, friendly and avoids any reference to the disputed practices while praying for closer ties between the Churches.

Leo, still smarting from the letter from the bishop of Bulgaria, angrily rejected this peaceful overture and drafted two letters, to the Emperor and Michael. In his letter to Michael he restates his claims of supreme jurisdiction and scolds and reproves him of having the audacity to question Rome's judgment and for ambition in using the term Ecumenical. In his final salvo he insultingly implies without justification that his election as Patriarch was uncanonical. The Pope's letter to the Emperor then attacks the Patriarch's character.

The pope chose Cardinal Humbert of Mourmoutiers, Cardinal Frederick of Lorraine (later Pope Stephen IX) and Archbishop Peter of Amlalfi as his legates to deliver the messages. The Pope made a poor choice in Cardinal Humbert as he was a proud vain man of poor judgment, sent to meet a Patriarch who was very sensitive to the dignity of his office.

Michael, on receiving the letter was angry, not only at its contents, but also that his gesture of goodwill had been rebuffed. Worse still, the seals on the letter had appeared to be tampered with. Who else had read the letters? But worse was to come. The three papal legates had the Pope's first undelivered letter to Michael, a letter that Michael was still ignorant, translated into Greek and distributed throughout the city. This was too much for the Patriarch to bear, and he refused the legates any further recognition. He remained aloof in the Patriarchal residence, above the fray of the crude boorish behaviour of the legates.

A short time later, news came that the Pope had died. Rightfully the mission of the legates should have ended there. However, emboldened by support given by the Emperor (who was keen for a papal alliance to regain lost Italian territories) Humbert raised the issue of the Filioque in the creed, an issue on which he Byzantines were positively adamant. But the Patriarch continued to maintain his silence.

Humbert would endure being ignored no more, and on July 16, 1054, the three papal legates, one of whom was to be a future Pope, marched into the great Church of Holy Wisdom in full regalia, and laid a bull of excommunication on the high alter in the presence of all the clergy. They then strode out of the church pausing only to shake the dust from their feet.

Sir Stephen Runciman comments on the bull:

Few important documents have been so full of demonstratable errors. It is indeed extraordinary that a man of Humbert's learning could have penned so lamentable a manifesto. It began by refusing to Cerularius, both personally and as Bishop of Constantinople the title of Patriarch. It declared that there was nothing to be said against the citizens of the Empire or of Constantinople, but that all those who supported Cerularius were guilty of of simony (which as Humbert well knew, was the dominant vice at the time of his own Church), of encouraging castration (a practice that was also followed at Rome), of insisting on rebaptizing Latins (which at that time was untrue), of allowing priests to marry (which was incorrect; a married man could become a priest but no one who was already ordained could marry), or baptizing women in labour, even if they were dying (a good Early Christian practice), of jettisoning the Mosaic Law (which was untrue), of refusing communion to men who had shaved their beards (which was untrue, though the Greeks disapproved of shaven priests), and, finally, of omitting a clause in the Creed (which was the exact reverse of the truth). After such accusations complaints about the closing of Latin churches at Constantinople and of disobedience to the Papacy lost their effect. The final anathema maranatha was followed by a statement that henceforward Cerularius and his supporters would be known as Prozymite heretics".

Once the contents of the bull became public, the people of Constantinople rose up in anger. There were riots and demonstrations throughout the city, with some fury directed against the Emperor for being excessively hospitable to the Offenders. Peace could only be restored by publically burning the Excommunication and anathemetizing and excommunicating the three legates. However the excommunication was carefully worded not to include the Western Church or papacy." (31)

Now the papacy was not directly responsible for this final blow, the pope being dead at this time. However the papacy then had multiple centuries to undo the damage, using the supposed charism of St Peter for unity. Pope Stephen IX in particular, being one of the villian papal legates had a good opportunity to repent, but did not do so. By this time the papacy had imbibed deeply from the well of the forged Donation of Constantine.

A further profound effect on ecclesiology was soon introduced with the authorization of the mendicant religious orders. The arrival on the scene of these groups had a major effect on ecclesiology, because the orders were authorised out of Rome, but extended their ministries into every diocese (often clashing with the local 'diocesan' priests). The creeping power of Rome moved ever outward.

The Gregorian Revolution

The Orthodox Church does not recognize any western saints past the year 1054. At first blush this might appear to be a rather arbitrary cut off, given that the break of 1054 was neither the first rumblings of trouble nor the last whimper of good relations.

However, when one looks at how Western Christendom was being turned upside down, starting with the reforms of our villian Pope Leo IX (1049-1054) and culminating in the papacy of Pope Gregory VII (1073-1084), the date of 1054 actually makes a great deal of sense.

"Ending with the pontificate of John VIII in 882 (who was hammered to death), the papacy entered into a steep decline for 164 years. This period of spiritual and moral bankruptcy was the worst period in the history of the papacy. The papacy fell under the control of the German crown who appointed 21 of 25 popes. In 1046, the German Emperor Henry III, stung by the ludicrous spectacle of three simultaneous claimants to the papal throne, marched on Rome and deposed all three. He then appointed Clement III who was to be the first in a series of German popes, keen on a reformation.

The reform movement really got under way with Pope Leo IX (1049-1054). He was in power only five years, but by the end of his reign, Western Christendom had permanently changed. He cleared out corruptioin, condemned simony and reasserted canonical election of bishops. But Leo was also the first Pope to wage war personally when he conducted a disasterous campaign against the Normans, ending with his being taken prisoner. The spectacle of priests, monks and bishops bearing arms and shedding blood came as a shock to the Orthodox Church. Byzantine priests who took up arms against the Arabs were either deposed of excommunicated by their bishops. Byzantine princess Comnena recorded her revulsion at the sight of armed clerics in the ranks of the crusaders. The idea of holy warfare was a radical idea which the reformed papacy introduced into Western Christianity.

The Gregorian reforms of the 11th century were a radical departure from the Church of the Seven Ecumenical Councils. The ancient collegial structure of Church government offered east and west a common forum for the church to settle differences. But is was to be replaced in the West with Papal Monarchy exercising authoritarian, highly centralized church government that ultimately controlled every aspect of church life. Through its new found claims of temporal power, the papacy would conduct wars, sign treaties, form alliances, depose kingdoms and challenge the divine right of kings.

The Papacy of Gregory VII and Urban II saw the reversal of a thousand years of Christian tradition, when the Gregorian papacy accepted warfare without reservation as a meritorious activity, and the profession of arms as a Christian vocation. This is exemplified by St Bernard of Clairvaux in his work "In Praise of the New Knighthood", where he exhorts crusaders that "the knight of Christ need fear no sin in killing the foe, he is a minister of God for the punishment of the wicked. In the death of a pagan a Christian is glorified, because Christ is glorified".

The Gregorian manifesto was published by Gregory VII shortly after taking office:

The claims were breathtaking. The claim to be universal would have been considered blasphemous by Gregory the Great who said that anyone calling themselves universal priest is the precursor of Anti Christ. The kings and princes of Western Europe gasped in amazement from their castles and palaces at the Popes claims to the authority to depose kings.

But this reformed papacy needed a new systematic code of canon law from which to govern their new found claims. The old canon law was inadequate, so papal researchers sifted through mountains of material searching for support for their new system. Much of the material came from the forged False Decretals of Pesudo Isidore. They date from the 9th century.

The first part of this collection is completely spurious, containing 70 forged letters attributed to popes prior to Nicea (325), and also included two spurious letters of Clement already in circulation. The second part of the collection, among some genuine canons is the famous Donation of Constantine. The third section contains a skillful blend of genuine and false decretals.

The aim of the False Decretals was to create a centralized church with the bishop of Rome at its head exercising complete universal authority. They depict popes as claiming supreme authority from the beginning. They claim for example that Pope Clement (92-101AD) wrote that Christ through His apostles ordained that "the greater and difficult questions must be referred always to the Apostolic See". That Athanasius wrote to Pope Felix II "The canons certainly enjoin that apart from the Roman Pontiff we must not decide anything about the greater causes.. For we know at the great Nicene synod of three hundred and eighteen bishops it was unanimously enjoined that without the consent of the Roman Pontiff a council could not be held, nor a bishop be condemned". Unfortunately, the forgers' research left something to be desired since Athanasius (287-373AD) was dead by the time Pope Felix II reigned (483-492AD).

But the forgers had now wrested control of the Church away from the Catholic Tradition, and the church was now being molded in a new image. The Cambridge Medieval History describes the Donation of Constantine as "the cornerstone of Papal power". For over 600 years this document was an unqualified success in advancing papal claims, so successful that even the enemies of Rome did not question it. It purports to give the Pope rule over the sees of Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople and Jerusalem and the churches of the whole world. This was a great blunder because Constantinople and Jerusalem were not yet elevated to patriarchal sees, until some 130 years after the document purported to be written.

In his negotiation with Constantinople in 1054, Pope Leo IX used huge quotations from the Donation of Constantine as the authority for his claims. Pope Adrian IV (1154-1159) bestowed Ireland on England's King Henry II, recognizing that it was his to dispose of as he saw fit, based on the Donation of Constantine. Bulgaria, Portugal and England were made Papal feifs on its authority. The great poet Dante laments Emperor Constantine's donation of temporal power to the papacy in a famous passage in "The Divine Comedy"... "Ah Constantine, how great an evil sprang, not from thine own conversion, but that gift that first rich Father did receive from thee!" ~Inferno xix 115-117.

Giovanni de Mussi comments on papal power in 1350 AD:

It is now more than a thousand years since these territories and cities have been given to the priests and ever since then the most violent wars have been waged on their account, and yet the priests neither now possess them in peace, nor will they ever be able to possess them. It were in truth better before the eyes of God and the world that these pastors should entirely renounce the dominium temporale: for since Sylvester's time the consequences of the temporal power have been inumerable wars and the overthrow of peoples and cities. How is it possible that there has never been any good pope to remedy such evils and that so many wars have been waged for these transient possessions. Truly we cannot serve both God and Mammon at the same time, cannot stand with one foot in Heaven and another on earth.

The forgery was not unmasked till Lorenzo Valla (1407-1457). But by this time the Western church had been irretrievably changed. The foundation of Papal power, with a centralized structure of supreme jurisdiction had been destroyed, but the structure itself remained, as if floating in mid air." (32)

Orthodox response to the New Era

"The Orthodox, being ignorant of these forgeries, were perplexed by these changes going on in the West. A response was given by Nicetas, Archbishop of Nicomedia in the 12th century:

My dearest brother, we do not deny to the Roman Church the primacy amongst the five sister Patriarchates; and we recognize her right to the most honourable seat at an Ecumenical Council. But she has separated herself from us by her own deeds, when through pride she assumed a monarchy which does not belong to her office ... How shall we accept decrees from her that have been issued without consulting us and even without our knowledge? If the Roman Pontiff, seated on the lofty throne of his glory wishes to thunder at us and, so to speak, hurl his mandates at us from on high, and if he wishes to judge us and even to rule us and our Churches, not by taking counsel with us but at his own arbitrary pleasure, what kind of brotherhood, or even what kind of parenthood can this be? We should be the slaves, not the sons, of such a Church, and the Roman See would not be the pious mother of sons but a hard and imperious mistress of slaves.'
Interestingly, one can still find fake quotes from the decretals sometimes presented as evidence for the papacy in internet apologetic discussions. Beware!

The Papacy: Guardian of the Tradition?

In light of the papacy's claim to have the charism of preserving unity and The Faith, it seems worthwhile to look at the track record of the papacy as an instrument for preserving the Tradition.

"In 1995, at Randwick horse racing track in Sydney, the Pope paid a visit. Nuns attired in snappy business suits in procession to the altar, assisting Pope John Paul II as acolytes and ministers. Dancing girls performed "using rhythmical movements of hands and feet and head together with the swaying of the body". In spite of the presence of many priests, laymen were given ciboria containing unconsecrated bread which were elevated at the offeratory, "thus laymen and women were involved in the central mystery of the Eucharist more closely than ever before". The Nicene creed was replaced by "an interesting question and answer format". The penitential rite was replaced by "the incorporation of an Aboriginal tribal ritual into the mass itself. The 'Smoking ceremony' became part of the Mass - another first!. This interesting ritual consisted of a man walking with an oil drum containing a hot bed of coals, accompanied by a woman who occasionally sprinkled gum leaves on the coals". (33)

"For Catholics holding reservations about this strange liturgy, there are soothing words of assurance that "every detail of the papal ceremonies celebrated here was approved well in advance by the Holy Father's Master of Ceremonies. Be assured that nothing could be or was sprung on the Holy Father". The Catholic Weekly referred to it as a "liturgical breakthrough" for the world wide church and a "benchmark indicating what is permissible and desirable in good liturgy"." (34)

But a mere thirteen years prior to these events, the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship issued a statement in its official journal Notitiae, Jan 8 1982 concerning liturgical dance:(35) "Hence it is not possible to introduce something of that sort into liturgical celebrations: It would mean to bring into the liturgy one of the most desacralized and desacralizing elements; and this would be seen as introducing an atmosphere of profanity... Nor is it possible to introduce artistic ballet as it would reduce liturgy to mere entertainment".

"But liturgical dance now has papal approval. It is very popular in Latin America. Other once condemned practices such as altar girls, and communion in the hand are now approved. This is despite the condemnation of alter girls being "set in stone by canon 44 of the Collection of Laodicea" according to the same Vatican journal Notitiae in 1980." (36)

Far from being a preserver of Tradition, it is the very power that the Papacy claims which is the very instrument of change. Without papal power, as we see in the Orthodox Church, change very seldom occurs. The mechanism for change - centralized power is lacking.

This agent for change: the centralized papacy, has been doing its damage since 1054 when papal claims became absolute. The change to withhold the cup and wine from the laity in the 13th century could never have occured without the idea that a pope has the power to make such a radical change. Whatever the merits of this practice, it is a stark example of how the Papacy is an agent for change, not for preservation.

Western Christians could once be deprived of receiving Holy Communion from their pastors as a penance - this practice has been obsolete since the pontificate of Pius X in the early 20th century.

As in the East, the West viewed St. Joseph as an old man - he was seen as a young man beginning in the 16th century.

Western theology once took a mystical, patristic approach - scholasticism developed in the 11th century and replaced this emphasis.

Western clergy once wore beards - they are now generally clean-shaven.

Western churches were once filled with Romanesque iconography - they are now filled with statues or modernistic art.

Western Confirmation was once administered before Holy Communion in all cases - this quit being mandatory in the early 20th century.

Western worshipers once stood during liturgical services - they have had pews since the 16th century.

There are many other similar examples. Baptism by immersion was the norm until the 12th century when the West changed to pouring. Indulgences were an innovation from the 11th century, and the creation of the Treasury of Merit doctrine. When the bishops arrived in Rome later in the autumn of 1965 for the fourth and final session of the Second Vatican Council the conference presidents were asked to state their views on the Positio, but when they did there was outrage among some. The feisty Antiochan Patriarch of the Melchites, Maximos IV, urged that indulgences be suppressed outright, saying they were "not only without theological foundation but the cause of innumerable grave abuses which (had) inflicted irreparable evils on the Church".

In the 12th century, the Roman Catholic Church ceased giving the Eucharist to children. In the 13th century Rome ceased the practice of the early church of chrismating children.

Western Christians once practiced a fast during Advent and Lent (along with other days) - this began to be toned down in the 13th century and today has been removed entirely except for partial fast/abstinence days during in Lent and on Fridays, the latter able to be replaced with a penance (another innovation unknown in any apostolic Church).

In more recent times, the American Catholic Church has allowed fasting traditions dating back to the first century to be replaced with a "decide your own pennance" idea, apparently because fasting is too tough for Americans.

East and West once shared a common canonical tradition based on the canons of the Ecumenical Councils - this was officially changed in 1917 with the first publication of a new Code of Canon law (the 1917 Code was subsequently replaced with another Code in 1983).

The Western Liturgy was once the ancient rite of St. Gregory the Great - it is now the Missal of Paul VI, constructed by a committee in the late 1960s.

It seems that once the correct practice in the West was to cross oneself right to left. Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) said: "This is how it is done: from above to below, and from the right to the left, because Christ descended from the heavens to the earth, and from the Jews (right) He passed to the Gentiles (left)."

Then we could look at the flip flopping Rome has done on the question of salvation outside the Church. Unum Sanctum, apparently teaching with the full force of papal authority that schismatic Greeks (aka the Orthodox) cannot be saved without submission to the Pontiff. Now days, Rome actually recognizes Orthodox saints who were never in communion with Rome and never would have dreamed of being in communion with Rome as being Catholic Saints and thus certainly in heaven.

Pope Boniface VIII in his Papal Bull Unam Sanctam (A.D. 1302): "We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff."

Pope Eugene IV and the Council of Florence (A.D. 1438 - 1445): "[The most Holy Roman Church] firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart `into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels' (Matt. 25:41), unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock; and that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is so strong that only to those remaining in it are the sacraments of the Church of benefit for salvation, and do fastings, almsgiving, and other functions of piety and exercises of Christian service produce eternal reward, and that no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church."

Notice that neither Pope allows ignorance as an excuse. Pagans and Jews and those in ignorance are damned. As you can see, this is something different to the modern teaching. This teaching that there was no salvation outside of being a Roman Catholic was held up until quite recently. Pope Pius XII's prayer in 1958 was: "Mary Mother of Mercy and Refuge of Sinners! We beseech thee to look with pitying eyes on poor heretics and schismatics. Do thou, who art the Seat of Wisdom, enlighten the minds wretchedly enfolded in the darkness of ignorance and sin, that they may clearly recognize the Holy, Catholic, Roman Church to be the only true Church of Jesus Christ, outside of which neither sanctity nor salvation can be found."

In 1958 in his coronation homily, Pope John XXIII, adhered to the traditional teaching of the Roman Catholic Church - no salvation for those not united to the Pope: "The Saviour Himself is the door of the sheepfold: "I am the door of the sheepfold." Into this fold of Jesus Christ, no man may enter unless he be led by the Sovereign Pontiff; and only if they be united to them can men be saved, for the Roman Pontiff is the Vicar of Christ and His personal representative on earth."

Or we could look at the situation with the salvation of infants. The councils of Lyons and Florence teach most clearly that nobody unbaptised can ever see the beatific vision of heaven. Now days, not only is the Pope teaching openly that he doesn't believe that, but the implication is that maybe Muslims and other groups can be saved too.

Traditionally Churches are built to face East, and the priest faces East with the laity. According to St Basil it was an apostlic teaching that all face east to pray. Augustine said "When we rise to pray, we turn East, where heaven begins. And we do this not because God is there.". Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said "Priest and people were united in facing eastward; that is, a cosmic symbolism was drawn into the community celebration factor of considerable importance. For the true location and the true context of the eucharistic celebration is the whole cosmos." (Feast of Faith). And yet in the 20th century the Roman Catholic church changed its practice so that the priest faces the congregation in the liturgy.

If we are looking to see if the so-called chair of Peter is a preserver or destroyer of Tradition, wouldn't we have to conclude that it is the latter compared to Orthodoxy? Whether these issues are important or minor, the point is that there is no evidence that Rome can do as well as Orthodoxy in the role of preserving apostolic tradition.

Rome since 1054 has not been a stalwart for the faith, it has been a powerhouse of innovation. This is not what we would expect to find if the papacy has a special charism for preserving the Sacred Tradition. There is a continual pattern here. The West seems to keep changing. The East has not. How can we seriously argue that we need to hold to the traditions if they keep changing?

Pope or Tradition?

Does the Pope judge Tradition, or does Tradition judge the Pope?

How does a Roman Catholic know that Pope Adrian VI when he said that popes can err in teaching matters of the faith, wasn't teaching the faith in accordance with the conditions of Vatican I ? One could easily argue that Pope Adrian infallibly defined that the Pope is not infallible.

Why does a modern Roman Catholic feel at liberty to go against the plain meaning of Boniface VIII in Unum Sanctum in saying that non-Roman Catholics can be saved?

In 2000 years of papal statements, how would a Roman Catholic even begin to judge which ones might be infallible? About the only way he might even have a hope of venturing down that path is to see what the rest of the Church believes about such things. Another way of saying this, is that the only way anyone might hope to sort out which papal statements are authoritative is to look at the Church Tradition.

But isn't it supposed to be that the Pope judges Tradition, not the other way around? Supposedly no-one judges the Pope, but in reality, Catholics judge Popes every day. That's why no two Catholics can agree how many Papal statements are infallible, because they are judging Popes, and coming up with different answers. These Catholics are trying to use Tradition to judge Popes and coming up in a circle because it is supposed to be Popes who judge Tradition.

So if it is really Tradition that judges Popes, why don't we cut out the middle man? Why do we need popes to supposedly judge Tradition in the first place? Clearly, it's not working.

Eastern Catholic Confusion

If the papacy as it later was to develop was such a great model of Church unity, and such a historic reality, would we expect the Eastern Catholic's communion with Rome to be a marvelous model of the unity of the faith?

And yet the situation was disasterous and completely destructive to the Eastern tradition. The process which started the schism in 1054 - the Latinizing of Eastern churches in southern Italy, continued right into the 20th century. One can find photographs of Eastern Catholic churches from the 20th century where the priest and church look exactly like a western Roman Catholic church. Greek Melkite Catholic Archbishop Elias Zoghby commented (above) that the Latinization of Eastern Catholic churches was so severe that they could not accurately represent the Eastern perspective at the Vatican I council.

Apparently in the near millenium between the problems of 1054 and the 20th century Rome didn't learn anything. It's only in very recent times that Rome has changed its tune and now tells the Eastern Catholics to look to the Orthodox to regain what was lost - what Rome stole from them: the Eastern traditions. But what Rome gives, Rome can take away again. Why ought the East trust this ecclesiology that led to unfettered Latinization?

Take a look at the attached picture of a Melkite Catholic congregation and the accompanying commentary, showing an Eastern Church nearly indistinguishable from a western church. Is this a picture of a church in unity with Peter's charisma for preserving traditions?

The Vatican II document Orientalium Ecclesiarum, or The Decree on the Catholic Eastern Churches recognizes the dignity of the patriarchate in the history of Church governance, and it accords the Catholic Eastern Churches certain rights pertaining to it. However, numerous Eastern Catholics are critical of the Decree and its implementation in the CICO, the Eastern Catholic Code, that came in the late 80's. The CICO reaffirmed certain chapters of the Vatican II document on the Catholic Eastern Churches. For example, while the Eastern Churches are given a certain freedom in the election of their patriarchs, Rome still reserves the right to intervene at any point. In addition, and in regards to many of the Eastern Catholic Churches, the final decision must be approved by Rome. This of course has no historical basis, and in fact the very idea itself of the West imposing an Eastern Catholic code on the East is an innovation.

Even after all this Latinization, Eastern Catholics still don't seem to really accept the fundamental claims that ought to be essential to being Roman Catholic in the first place. We already gave the extensive quote above from an Eastern Catholic archbishop which claims that Vatican I was a false council and thus papal infallibility is a false teaching. Here are some more examples:
Catholic Melkite denial that Vatican I was an ecumenical council: "Was the Vatican council an ecumenical council? Why?, why not? a. The Vatican council was not an ecumenical council: no participation from the Orthodox"
Catholic Maronite Bibles have a different canon of scripture: "Also, the Peshitto is the common text used amongst all of the Syriac churches and contains those books the Roman Cannon lacks but the Orthodox retain. This Apostolic Cannon difference occurs to even this day."

I don't know if Eastern Catholics are openly repudiating the other Western general councils, but they are certainly defacto doing so, since they are teaching Eastern theology which nobody as far as I know has ever attempted to reconcile with the very Latin theology of the western councils, and stands in at least apparent contradiction.

Canon 43 (of the Eastern Catholic Churches)

The Bishop of the Church of Rome, in whom resides the office (munus) given in special way by the Lord to Peter, first of the Apostles and to be transmitted to his successors, is head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ and Pastor of the entire Church on earth; therefore, in virtue of his office (munus) he enjoys supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power in the Church which he can always freely exercise.

Canon 45:

1. The Roman Pontiff, by virtue of his office (munus), not only has power over the entire Church but also possesses a primacy of ordinary power over all the eparchies and groupings of them by which the proper, ordinary and immediate power which bishops possess in the eparchy entrusted to their care is both strengthened and safeguarded.

3. There is neither appeal nor recourse against a sentence or decree of the Roman Pontiff.

There is NO restriction to the Pope's authority over the Eastern Catholic Churches. Their own canon law guarantees his supreme power.

Needless to say, there is no precedent in the early church for such open ended power from any single bishop.

Roman Catholic Scholars

No wonder the Roman Church has become ecumenical in recent times, since the old style Roman position no longer stands up in the light of historical scrutiny. I can do no better than to quote a Roman Catholic Cardinal:
"The East never accepted the regular jurisdiction of Rome, nor did it submit to the judgment of Western bishops. Its appeals to Rome for help were not connected with a recognition of the principle of Roman jurisdiction but were based on the view that Rome had the same truth, the same good. The East jealously protected its autonomous way of life. Rome intervened to safeguard the observation of legal rules, to maintain the orthodoxy of faith and to ensure communion between the two parts of the church, the Roman see representing and personifying the West...In according Rome a "primacy of honour", the East avoided basing this primacy on the succession and the still living presence of the apostle Peter. A modus vivendi was achieved which lasted, albeit with crises, down to the middle of the eleventh century."
Cardinal Yves Congar, "Diversity and Communion" Mystic: Twenty-Third, 1982, pp. 26-27.
"Many of the Eastern Fathers who are rightly acknowledged to be the greatest and most representative and are, moreover, so considered by the universal Church, do not offer us any more evidence of the primacy. Their writings show that they recognized the primacy of the Apostle Peter, that they regarded the See of Rome as the prima sedes playing a major part in the Catholic communion. We are recalling, for example, the writings of St. John Chrysostom and of St. Basil who addressed himself to Rome in the midst of the difficulties of the schism of Antioch but they provide us with no theological statement on the universal primacy of Rome by divine right. The same can be said of St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Basil, St. John Chrysostom, St. John Damascene."
Cardinal Yves Congar, "After Nine Hundred Years" New York: Fordham University, 1959, pp. 61-62.
"It does sometimes happen that some Fathers understood a passage in a way which does not agree with later Church teaching. One example: the interpretation of Peter's confession in Matthew 16:16-19. Except at Rome, this passage was not applied by the Fathers to the papal primacy; they worked out an exegesis at the level of their own ecclesiological thought, more anthropological and spiritual than juridical."
Cardinal Yves Congar, "Tradition and Traditions" New York: Macmillan, 1966, p. 398. Father Raniero Cantalamessa was the Papal Household Preacher several years ago. He said:
The notion of an orthodoxy that emerged victorious by eliminating its competitors under the powerful guidance of Rome is a pure legend. Orthodoxy was not established in its origins by way of a movement from the centre to the periphery, but on the contrary, by movement from the periphery towards the centre. The struggles against ebionite beliefs, docetism, and encratism did not move outwards from Rome, but all arrived in Rome from Antioch in Syria, from Asia Minor, from Alexandria in Egypt, from Carthage and from Lyon in France. Rome in the first two centuries and a half of Christian history was more the arbiter between the parties than a leading force in the struggles against heresy. Even in the Council of Nicea, the influence of Rome and of the West in general was minimal. Attributing to Rome the triumph of orthodoxy is, to a large extent, the consequence of a backward projection of later situations, if not of the present state of affairs!
Father Raniero Cantalamessa, from One Christianity or Many?.

Answers to Common ECF Quotes

Roman Catholics are famous for claiming that they are not bound to believe anything as dogmatic unless it has been formally promulgated with Papal authority as being offical dogma. Scott my opponent has been fighting with me tooth and nail, rejecting the notion that he is bound to believe that Mary died (as opposed to being assumed live into heaven), despite this being a part of the Eastern liturgy of the Feast of the Theotokos, confessed by Eastern Christians for 1500 years. In light of this, one can only be amazed at the circularity of appealing to non-dogmatic tradition of Church Fathers to support propositions about the papacy whose authority comes from the papacy itself.

In fact, if support from most of the Roman Church was enough, then Limbo would be a dogmatic fact, since it was taught by not only many Roman Catholic popes, saints and bishops as a fact, every Catholic schoolboy up till relatively recently was taught it as a fact. However in recent times it has fallen out of favour, with popes going so far as to express the opinion it should be abandoned. As St Cyprian said, "A custom without truth is ancient error."

In light of this, it isn't enough for Roman Catholic apologists to find a few, or even many Early Church Fathers who support their position. Nothing less than unanimity will do to prove a catholic Tradition. I will argue that in fact, Roman Catholic apologists have virtually no certain supporters among the Fathers for their position. But even if they had much support, that is not enough to escape the circularity of picking and choosing from the Church Fathers which quotes you like. We have already seen that Fathers like Athanasius and Vincent define church unity without the Bishop of Rome.

Early Church Father quotes need to be understood in the context within which they were written. For example, Roman Catholic apologists appeal to Clement's letter to the Corinthians as an example of a Roman bishop meddling in the affairs of a foreign church. However, Corinth was a new Roman colony consisting primarily of Romans. All its cultural and governmental links were with Rome. Most of the Christians of Corinth came from Rome. They were Roman Jewish converts who had fled to Corinth after a persecution in Rome. All their links went back to Rome, and they knew Clement personally. Clement had also worked very closely with Paul in his missionary work. His letter to the Corinthians is because of the association he had forged with them while travelling with Paul, he knew the community and was well placed to advise them.

Furthermore, the letter is written in a fraternal style and does not claim any jurisdiction. Had it done so it would have been written in a very different style.

Irenaeus is often quoted as early support for the primacy of Rome. The controversy centres around a section where he says "It is necessary that every church, that is, the faithful who are everywhere, should agree with this church; in which that tradition which is from the apostles has been preserved by those who are everywhere."

The original Greek of this quote is now lost, surviving now only in translation and much controversy has ensued in trying to guess the original Greek text, and indeed, how one should translate the Latin. The reader can investigate these controversies.

But the context itself argues against us reading too much into this quote. Irenaeus starts off by arguing that the churches should look to the churches that the apostles founded, who can trace back their linage of priests back to the apostles, as authoritative for the true faith. He then goes on to say that it would be too tedious to list the succession of all the apostolic churches, but proceeds to give Rome as an example. It is hard to escape the conclusion that Irenaeus is merely giving Rome as one possible example of an apostolic church to which provincial churches should look to as an authentic witness to the apostolic message.

Irenaeus had not contemplated the possibility that the apostolic churches could be pitted against each other, that is clear. Only a few paragraphs later he describes the church of Ephesus as a reliable witness to the apostolic tradition. If we are to blindly assume that the situation Irenaeus describes at Rome must be eternally true, why wouldn't we assume that Ephesus must also be eternally a guardian of the true faith?

One is reminded that in 380, in the East, Theodosius made Christianity the sole legal religion, specifically idenifying the Holy Trinity, and idenfying it as the faith of Damasus of Rome and Peter of Alexandria (why wasn't Damaus enough?), and decreeing the label Catholic would only apply to those who agree with Damaus AND Peter. If Theodosis had only mentioned Rome, of course Catholics would be quoting it in the same breath as Irenaeus. But because he mentions both, it is forgotten as of no apologetic value. To mention Irenaeus's praise of Rome and ignore the similar status given to other apostolic churches is to be selective with the evidence.

Also let us remember that Irenaeus makes no mention of the Pope, or even bishops of these cities as having the authority or being guardians of the truth. Rather it is the churches he refers to. And this he does because these churches as a whole were taught by the apostles. And it isn't the Petrene succession in Rome that Irenaeus mentions, rather it is the Pauline and Petrene origins of the church. The idea that unity resides in the Petrene office hadn't yet developed. Irenaeus has no concept of the Pope holding a charisma of infallible truth. What would he say about the church of Rome when its bishop didn't even live there anymore, but rather lived in a palace in Avignon France?

And then let us remember, that Irenaeus was one of those who rebuked Pope Victor for attempting to make the Eastern churches agree with Rome on the time of Easter. Apparently when it came to one apostolic see pitted against another, Irenaeus didn't feel a compulsion to take sides to "agree" with Rome. Apparently agreeing with Rome is optional when your own church has a valid apostolic tradition.


Some would accuse me of being against union, because I bring up these problems. We should remember the ecumenical stance taken by the current and previous popes is an entirely new stance from Rome, that didn't exist prior to Vatican II. The Orthodox were dialoguing with the Anglicans for the past century and more, but Pope Pius XII refused to even see the Archbishop of Canterbury when he visited Rome.

Orthodoxy is open to dialogue, but it is not open to compromising on the truth. Rome has moved on in the last thousand years, and Orthodoxy hasn't moved. Who needs to change?


The claims of the papacy are built on sand. One has to assume what one wants to prove to find the necessary authority to support the claims of the papacy. We saw that it is clearly not a catholic teaching that the true church is defined by unity with the bishop of Rome. We saw the quotation from St Vincent of Lerins and Athanasius where they define identification of the catholic faith in a manner quite independent of any papacy. Even if we were to grant Church Fathers supporting the Roman Catholic position (which we do not grant), at best it would come down to my Church Father versus your Church Fathers. We can't presuppose the authority of a papacy to resolve this, as it would be circular.

Scripture cannot come to the rescue. We saw that the vast majority of Church Fathers do not support the interpretation necessary for Rome. We saw that the Fathers distinguished between the confession of Peter and the person of Peter. We saw that there is only a clear scriptural warrant for Peter being the head of the college of the Twelve disciples. Even were we to grant extending the paradigm to the Bishop of Rome, the model of primacy exhibited by Peter bears no parallel to the claims of the papacy.

The Ecumenical Councils cannot come to the rescue. They are frankly an embarrassment for Rome. The witness of the attendees, which were all the bishops of the East, was to grant equal powers to Constantinople. There is no evidence whatsoever that they had more regard for the Bishop of Rome's opinion on any issue than they did their own.

The behaviour of the early church cannot console the Roman Catholic. When we see how disputes were resolved, when we see how great bishops like Augustine and the African church dealt with Rome, we find no evidence that the Bishop of Rome enjoyed the kind of jurisdiction that Rome claims.

We then looked at the split of 1054, and how the new found claims of the forged Donation of Constantine, the False Decretals of Pesudo Isidore, together with other Western innovations like the filioque led the Western church being the party at fault in the tragic schism, leaving the Papacy being the party in the wrong.

We looked at the history of the Western Church since 1054, and how the forgeries reshaped Western Christendom into a form that became unrecognizable to the East.

We saw that the Papacy, far from being an agent for unity has been an agent for schism, causing and failing to heal the schism of 1054. Inventing new teachings like indulgences which ultimately led to the schism of schisms, the protestant reformation. And now apparently Rome is claiming that it made a mistake at Chalcedon in 451, and that this schism was really all a big mistake. What a disaster Rome has been as a centre of unity! Far from being a centre of unity, it is the very thing which has caused the break up of Christendom. Historian and ex-priest Joseph McCabe observed that the Council of Constance (1414-1418) "'sold' absolution from 'sin' as well as from the purgatorial punishment of sin (a poena et culpa). The Council is rude enough to call it a 'sale.'" (Joseph McCabe, The Popes and Their Church, 1918)

One might well ask how the papacy can be definitional of unity, when Peter himself separated himself from the Church in the Galatians 2 incident. Catholics are fond of making the claim that Peter did not teach heresy in this incident. However even this misses the main point, since Rome how claims that the Pope defines unity of the true Catholic Church. But how can the Pope define unity, when Peter can take himself out of communion with the true church? Whether Peter taught heresy is a minor point compared to the devastating problem that the Church was not defined in Galatians 2 by who Peter had communion with.

We looked at the Papacy's track record of preserving the Traditions, and we saw that far from being a guardian of the Tradition, the papacy is an agent for innovation.

In short, Rome is truely a renegade church, in schism from Christendom. The tragic circumstances of greed for power, corruption and forgery has led Rome to forget the collegial tradition of the first millenium church.

"If the Pope should become neglectful of his own salvation, and of that of other men, and so lost to all good that he draw down with himself innumerable people by heaps into hell, and plunge them with himself into eternal torments, yet no mortal may presume to reprehend him, forasmuch as he is judge of all, and is judged of no one." Catholic Canon Law, Decreti, pars i. distinct. xl.can.xi.

Rome says that the Pope has the right to drag you into hell, and you still cannot question him. Ought we go along on this ride? I find it quite reasonable to refuse to unite with a Church which is unable to remove its chief bishop no matter what sins he is guilty of. This was a major problem in the Middle Ages. The protection of the bishop of Rome is enshrined in canon law. "The Supreme Pontiff judges all and is judged by none."

Luke 22:24-26 And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. And He said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called 'Benefactors.' "But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant.