Papacy Debate. Chris' Rebuttal #1

In my opening statement I sought to paint a picture of the role of the Papacy in the first millenium, as well as in the second millenium. Before we can evaluate if the modern role of the Papacy is a legitimate development from the early Church, we need to get a picture in our mind about what exactly the Papacy's role was then, and what it is now, and how it developed over that time.

It seems worth refreshing our memories again, what the positions are from my opening statement. Orthodoxy doesn't deny that the Bishop of Rome had primacy in the early church. We don't deny that the see of Rome was one of the sees with a special relationship with Peter. We don't deny that as Christendom's top bishop, people from all over the place took an interest in his opinion on various issues (just as they did with other Patriarchs). We don't deny that Patriarchs, and especially the top Patriarch often took a hand in resolving disputes.

What Orthodoxy denies is firstly that the bishop of Rome has supremacy. That is, we deny that he has any jurisdiction of actual power outside of his immediate locale. We deny that the Bishop of Rome is immune from heresy, and thus we deny that if he in heresy that we ought to commune with her. Therefore we deny that the top bishop is a symbol of unity when he is in heresy. The top bishop can be a symbol of unity only if he is orthodox. We deny that he has any unique role in the approval of an ecumenical council, beyond that of being an important bishop. We deny that he has any unique role in preserving tradition, and we deny that he is first bishop because of Peter. And of course, we deny that he is infallible.

The question at hand then, is not whether Scott has established any facts that we agree on, but rather whether he has established the points we disagree on.

Recall from my opening statement that I established from the council of Nicea, the Synod of Carthage and numerous other sources that the bishop of Rome was to keep to his own jurisdiction. I suggest the reader refresh his memory from the opening statement. I established that it never crossed the mind of the early church that no pope could be a heretic, that there were heretical popes and that the Eastern church didn't hesitate to break communion with and anathemetize heretical popes. I suggest the reader revisit the cases of Vigilius and Honorius. I established from the statements of the fifth ecumenical council that the fathers present were only willing to hold the pope as primate (first bishop) if he confessed an orthodox confession. That statement, combined with the demotion of Alexandria from second to third see, as well as Chalcedon's statement of why Rome has primacy, established that Rome's primacy was revokable. I established that the East didn't wait for Rome before defining the faith, and I quoted the second ecumenical council in saying that they had already canonically settled the issue before even consulting the pope. And I established that there is no evidence that Rome has historically done as well as the east as a preserver of tradition. I established from the fourth council that the Church considered Rome first because of its secular status. And I established that infallibility was a novelty unknown to the early church.

In short, I documented my position from the Fathers.

Scott's opening
However Scott has barely even touched on the role of the papacy in either the early or modern church. His presentation seems to be limited to the bare facts of whether the Bishop of Rome is a successor to Peter and whether he has authority of some description. Even if we granted all that, Scott would still lose the debate because he has not mentioned the development of the papacy. The thesis of this debate presupposes that there is development, so I presume Scott will not dispute that it exists. But he has not touched upon what that development is, or whether it is legitimate, which is the actual topic.

Scott starts out by pre-supposing that Pope Benedict XVI is the current and valid successor to St. Peter's See, and the valid Patriarch of the Latin Church, and says he feels safe in assuming I will recognize these facts since apostolic succession in general is something we both agree on.

Unfortunately, Scott doesn't know as much about the Eastern traditions as he has made out. There are two theories of valid succession, the so-called Cyprianic view and the Augustinian view. The Cyprianic view is essentially that valid orders, succession and sacraments are a function of the mystical body of Christ, which must of necessity be One. The true church and true succession are not something that can be separated. On the other hand, the Augustinian view is that they can be separated. If orders are bestowed with proper form and intent, then they are valid, regardless of how the Church feels about it.

Eastern Churches have always generally held to the Cyprianic view. Valid succession is a really a question of valid Church. Since Orthodoxy considers Rome's status as a valid church highly questionable, it considers the Pope as a valid bishop equally as questionable.

A problem for Rome is that the Papacy doesn't really fit into the Augustinian model. There are anti-popes both now and in times past with valid orders according to the Catholic reckoning of such things, who have been appointed as Bishop of Rome with correct form and intent. The Papacy is the one ecclesiastical office where Catholics have to fall back to a kind of Cyprianic model, where the true holder of the office is dependant on what the true Church recognizes.

All of which means that Orthodoxy would consider the proposition that the Pope holds any kind of valid orders, to be highly questionable at best, let alone recognizing Benedict as the "Patriarch of the Latin Church". There would be some Orthodox who would express that sentiment, but it would not be the standard position.

The second problem with recognizing Benedict XVI as the "current and valid "successor of Peter, "rightfully sitting in Peter's see", is that as we have seen in my opening statement, Peter has more than one see. At the very least Antioch historically has been regarded as Peter's See and Peter's Chair, and Pope Gregory also regarded Alexandria as Peter's see. However, for Scott to win this debate, it's not enough to prove that Benedict is one current successor of Peter, he must prove he is the only successor.

Scott spends a great deal of his opening statement discussing Peter. However he assumes what he has to prove in that he has not demonstrated that bishops of Rome are the sole successor to Peter.

According to the early Church, there are a number of ways of understanding succession from Peter. The most basic understanding is that everyone in the Church can be a successor to Peter and be the "rock".

He denied not to His disciple the grace of this name; that he should be Peter, because he has from the rock the solidity of constancy, the firmness of faith. Make an effort, therefore, to be a rock! Do not seek the rock outside of yourself, but within yourself! Your rock is your deed, your rock is your mind. Upon this rock your house is built. Your rock is your faith, and faith is the foundation of the Church. If you are a rock, you will be in the Church, because the Church is on a rock. If you are in the Church the gates of hell will not prevail against you...He who has conquered the flesh is a foundation of the Church" ~St Ambrose, Commentary in Luke VI.98, CSEL 32.4.

"For though we do not retain the body of Peter, we do retain the faith of Peter, and retaining the faith of Peter we have Peter" ~Chrysostom, On the Inscription of the Acts, II.

The second level of understanding is that all bishops are successors of Peter. To refresh our memory, all apostles have the same dignity and power as Peter:

"But if you think that the whole Church was built by God upon Peter alone, what would you say about John, the son of thunder, or each of the apostles? Or shall we venture to say that the gates of hell shall not prevent against Peter but shall prevent against the other apostles and those that are perfect? Are not the words in question 'the gates of hell shall not prevail against it' and 'upon this rock I will build my Church' said in the case of all and each of them?" ~Origen, Com. in Matt., xvi

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.

"But you say that the Church is founded upon Peter although the same thing is done in another place upon all the apostles, and all receive the kingdom of heaven, and the solidity of the Church is established equally upon all" ~Jerome, Adv. Jovianum, 1:26

"This is, upon the rock of the confession. Paul was equal in honour to Peter" ~Chrysostom, Hom. Liv. in Matt. xvi. 2.

"To all the apostles after His resurrection He gives equal power and says, 'As the Father sent Me so I send you.'" ~Cyprian, De Unitate, 4.

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.

[Peter & Paul were]: "The presidents of the Churches" ~Cyril of Alexandria Catech. vi, 15

In light of this, it is not surprising that all bishops are successors of Peter:

Our Lord whose precepts and warnings we ought to observe, determining the honour of a Bishop and the ordering of His own Church, speaks in the Gospel and says to Peter, I say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. Thence the ordination of Bishops, and the ordering of the Church, runs down along the course of time and line of succession, so that the Church is settled upon her Bishops; and every act of the Church is regulated by these same Prelates" ~ Cyprian, Ep. 33.1.

"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.

Nor is the Church of the city of Rome one thing, and the Church of all the rest of the world another. Gaul and Britain, and Africia, and Persia, and India, and all barbarian nations, adore one Christ and observe one rule of charity. If authority is looked for, the world is greater than the city. - Jerome.

The third way in which the early church understood a succession from Peter, was the bishops of cities that had a peculiar relationship with Peter such as Antioch and Rome. So we find various quotes saying that Antioch is the Chair of Peter, or Rome is the Chair of Peter. Let's refresh our memory from the opening statement:

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

Now, sometimes we find a Church father saying that there is only "one Chair". Cyprian for example, says that there is only one Chair. But that one Chair is the Church's entire episcopate, not the Bishop of Rome. Recall what Gregory said:

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)

To assume that Cyprian was talking about the Bishop of Rome, would make Cyprian inconsistent with himself. Remember he said that no-one is "bishop of bishops" and that all the apostles had "equal dignity and power". Remembering also, that Cyprian's interpretation of Mt 16 and the keys is that "the Church is settled upon her Bishops; and every act of the Church is regulated by these same Prelates".

Now Scott has spent a great deal of his opening statement discussing Peter. However what he hasn't established is that we must believe in a fourth level of Petrine succession over and above these three. And he needs to prove that this succession is held by the bishop of Rome.

Church Father Quotes
Scott has provided a great number of Church Father quotes which do little more than speak in glowing terms about Peter.

It's my contention that the authors of these quotes had no intention of making any kind of statement about papal primacy. For example, Scott provides a full seven quotes from John Chrysostom. Recall that Chrysostom was baptised and ordained in 370 AD by a Church not in communion with Rome. He didn't come into communion with Rome until by accident, so to speak, when he was somewhat forcibly appointed to the See of Constantinople in 398 AD. He died in 407 AD. So he spent three quarters of his ecclesiastical life out of communion with Rome.

It's obvious that communion with Rome was not something Chrysostom considered of any importance. How rational is it therefore, to cite Chrysostom in favour of the modern Catholic view of the Papacy as the centre of unity? Chrysostom has nice things to say about Peter, but it would make Chrysostom self-contradictory to extrapolate that to Bishops of Rome.

By my quick count, 33 of the 54 quotes Scott provided do nothing more than discuss Peter, without relating it at all to the Bishops of Rome. And there's something very interesting about those 33 quotes, which is that they are pretty much the 33 earliest quotes which never mention the Pope in the same breath as Peter.

What about other early quotes from Scott? For example, we have this one:

Rome is called the Apostolic throne. (Athanasius, Hist. Arian, ad Monach. n. 35).

Now I have an electronic copy of Athanasius' History of the Arians, ad Monach. It's also available online.

I put it to Scott, that this quotation is bogus. The closest I can come up with is this:

Thus from the first they spared not even Liberius, Bishop of Rome, but extended their fury even to those parts; they respected not his bishopric, because it was an Apostolical throne;

That's quite a bit different, isn't it? Rome is "an" apostolical throne, not "The Apostolic Throne".

What about Emperor Justinian? The writings of Emperors are not so readily available for examination. I do find it odd that Scott lists him as 520-533 AD, because he was born in 482 AD, took the throne in 527 AD and died in 565 AD. He was the previous emperor's close confident between 518 and 527, but the date range of 520-533 doesn't make much sense, as he couldn't be referred to as "Emperor" Justinian till 527.

Assuming this one is actually real and in context (which we have no ability to check), I always find it instructive to find out about who is making the quote. Justinian was the last Latin emperor. He was born in Italy, and his native language was Latin. He is famous for his military activities, in particular for his recovery of the Western Roman empire, including Rome. Now, anyone who knows about politicians, and Byzantine emperors in particular, knows that they were artful at flattering people for political gain. Popes played this game right back. Recall Letter 162 by Pope Leo to the emperor in my opening statement, where the Pope says that the emperor has "perfect judgment" and "no error can dilute your faith".

Did Justinian act like the Pope was the spiritual leader of the world? He refused to sign a peace treaty with Pope Agapetus I, who went to Constantinople specially for that purpose. But much more significant, recall that Justinian was the one who kept Pope Vigilius in chains until he relented. Go back to my opening statement and read the chapter on the Fifth ecumenical council and how Justinian treated Pope Vigilius, and tell me honestly if Justinian can be cited as a believer in the authority of the Papacy. I think not.

What about this one from Theodoret:

I therefore beseech your holiness to persuade the most holy and blessed bishop (Pope Leo) to use his Apostolic power, and to order me to hasten to your Council. For that most holy throne (Rome) has the sovereignty over the churches throughout the universe on many grounds. (Theodoret, Tom. iv. Epist. cxvi. Renato, p. 1197).

This one looks ok for Scott. That is until we find that it is another bogus quote. Here is Theodoret's Letter cxvi (116) to Renato, concerning Leo.

As you can see, it doesn't say anything much like Scott's quote. It does say this:

For that holy see has precedence over all churches in the world, for many reasons; and above all for this, that it is free from all taint of heresy, and that no bishop of heterodox opinion has ever sat upon its throne, but it has kept the grace of the apostles undefiled.

Ok, so Rome has precedence. Nothing surprising here, the ecumenical councils said the same. And the reason cited by Theodore for this precedence is that nobody heterodox has ever sat in Rome. Well great. But so what? Nothing interesting here. It's not even as impressive as when the Pope said to the emperor that "no error can dilute your faith".

Things aren't looking good for the Catholic quote factory. How about this one:

If Paul, the herald of the truth, the trumpet of the Holy Spirit, hastened to the great Peter, to convey from him the solution to those in Antioch, who were at issue about living under the law, how much more do we, poor and humble, run to the Apostolic Throne (Rome) to receive from you (Pope Leo) healing for wounds of the Churches. For it pertains to you to have primacy in all things; for your throne is adorned with many prerogatives. (Theodoret Ibid, Epistle Leoni)

Epistle "Leoni". That's an odd name for an epistle. Apparently Scott is referring to Epistle CXIII to Leo. I realise Scott isn't even claiming to have checked these references, but still...

Here is the translation I have:

If Paul, the herald of the truth, the trumpet of the Holy Ghost, hastened to the great Peter in order that he might carry from him the desired solution of difficulties to those at Antioch who were in doubt about living in conformity with the law, much more do we, men insignificant and small, hasten to your apostolic see in order to receive from you a cure for the wounds of the churches. For every reason it is fitting for you to hold the first place, inasmuch as your see is adorned with many privileges. Other cities are indeed adorned by their size, their beauty, and their population; and some which in these respects are lacking are made bright by certain spiritual boons. But on your city the great Provider has bestowed an abundance of good gifts. She is the largest, the most splendid, the most illustrious of the world, and overflows with the multitude of her inhabitants. Besides all this, she has achieved her present sovereignty, and has given her name to her subjects. She is moreover specially adorned by her faith, in due testimony whereof the divine Apostle exclaims "your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world". And if even after receiving the seeds of the message of salvation her boughs were straightway heavy with these admirable fruits, what words can fitly praise the piety now practised in her? In her keeping too are the tombs that give light to the souls of the faithful, those of our common fathers and teachers of the truth, Peter and Paul.

So instead of "primacy in all things" we have simply "the first place". No argument there, Rome held the first place. Instead of "your throne is adorned with many prerogatives" we have "your see is adorned with many privileges", which he goes on to list as being in the city which is "the largest, most splendid, most, most illustrious.. with multitude of inhabitants". So Rome is a nice city, but it's not exactly a prerogative of the papal throne. It then also goes on to say that Rome has "sovereignty" and "has given her name to her subjects" (aka, "Romans"). Obviously this sovereignty is secular sovereignty where the members of this sovereign jurisdiction are called "Romans". Theodore is simply listing all the nice things about Rome the city. He then quotes Paul's epistle to the Romans about Rome's faith being spoken of in the whole world.

Citing Theodoret in such a selective way is clearly misleading. What sounded like an annunciation of the Apostolic Papal Throne was found to be nothing more than a statement that Rome is recognised as the first city of the empire and thereby first Church. Nothing here for my opponent.

With such terrible quoting, how much should we trust this 15 word citation from Patriarch Macedonius? With so many quotes so far being just completely wrong or misleading, I don't know how seriously any of this can be taken. No doubt under extreme duress, it would be convenient to put the blame on the pope, but as I very clearly demonstrated in my opening statement, the East didn't take the Papacy very seriously during the first seven ecumenical synods. I prefer measure the truth of what people believe when they are not under external pressure. When they are just commenting matter-of-factly about theology, not when they've got an emperor breathing down their neck.

What about these quotes from Maximus the Confessor, who seems to have some nices things to say about Rome?

One thing that should be mentioned is that it is highly questionable that we should regard him as an Eastern character. He went to Rome in 645 AD and seems to have spent 13 years there in close proximity to the Pope and the Western thinking that was going on there.

When he was taken back to Constantinople, the Byzantine authorities questioned him, and asked "But what will you do," inquired the envoys, "when the Romans are united to the Byzantines? Yesterday, indeed, two delegates arrived from Rome and tomorrow, the Lord's day, they will communicate the Holy Mysteries with the Patriarch."

The Saint replied, "Even if the whole universe holds communion with the Patriarch, I will not communicate with him. For I know from the writings of the holy Apostle Paul: the Holy Spirit declares that even the angels would be anathema if they should begin to preach another Gospel, introducing some new teaching." ~The Life of St. Maximus the Confessor, Boston, 1982, pp. 60-62

So as high an opinion as he may have had of Rome, it did not extend to believing that it was either immune from heresy, or that he need stay in communion with it in the face of heresy.

Whelton has this to say: "St. Maximus's support of papal authority is more apparent than real, becuse when his words are accurately translated, they contradict a key Roman Catholic teaching regarding papal supremacy. Maximus advocated a perspective that is the complete opposite of what Roman Catholic apologists claim. The correct rendering of the latin so disturbed, that the noted Italian Roman Catholic historian, Aloysius Vincenzi, called the passage's authenticity into question over a hundred years ago when he declared it as inconsistant with Roman Catholic doctrine. The original Latin, for Vincenzi, betrays its forged character..." Whelton, M., (2006), "Popes and Patriarchs: An Orthodox Prespective on Roman Catholic Claims", (Concillar Press; Ben Lomond, CA), pp127-128. He goes on to say that at best, this passage says that the Pope enjoys a power because it has been conferred by Ecumenical Councils, not from Jesus.

I haven't read the works of Maximus the Confessor, because they are not as readily available as other Church Fathers. Has my opponent read him? I'm sure he hasn't. The situation with Maximus is not as clear as it might seem with selective quote mining. If you're going to believe something because of Maximus, let it be because you've actually read his works in context and know something about his life

Theodore the Studite has some nice things to say about Rome too. So unusual was this apparently, that he is the only Byzantine iconodule who was recognized in the West as a saint. In common again with the more pro-papal quotes, Theodore is embattled with his local Patriarch, and turns to flattering the Pope.

I would certainly agree that eight centuries after Christ, Theodore's conception of the papacy has considerably developed compared to the early Church, and he seems to have moved quite a way towards a Western conception of the position of the Pope of Rome. However, even so, Orthodox would not understand his writings as supportive of the Papal supremacy that would develop later. Theodore sees the Pope as the first bishop, and wants the Emperor to check his doctrines with Rome. That and a bit of flattery, but it doesn't amount to more than Orthodoxy would be willing to conceed anyway.

Orthodox are known on occasion to refer to the Pope as the first protestant, because like protestants he considers his own interpretive authority to trump that of the Fathers.

We see the same thing happening here with Scott. He gives us his interpretation of Mt 16:19, but he can't back up that interpretation from the Fathers.

Scott has said that Peter was "singled out... to be the keeper of the keys". For Scott to make milage out of this he has to show that the keys and the power of binding and loosing are something different, because we know that Mt 16:19 is spoken of in the future tense, and in Mt 18:18 all the apostles are given power to bind and loose.

So why would we consider the keys and binding and loosing to be the same? Scott tells us that the keys symbolize authority, and I agree. But so does binding and loosing. Scott has to try and prove they are different AND the same as this other symbol of authority. Recall that I established from the greatest church fathers that the keys and binding and loosing are the same thing:

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

And let's add another one:

"It isn't just one man who received these keys, but the Church in its unity" - Augustine, Sermon 295

Now if the keys and binding and loosing are the same thing, then what is unique about Peter? All that is unique is that he was chronologicallly earlier in receiving the promise (though not the fulfillment). Peter was first, but not unique. Just like Orthodoxy teaches. As St Ambrose said, Peter was "first in confession, not in honor, first in belief, not in rank" (The Sacrament of the Incarnation of our Lord IV)

How are we to decide among these two interpretations, that Peter was the unique holder of the keys, or that the keys are the same as binding and loosing which all the apostles received? Are we going to be protestants and decide that for ourselves, or are we going to listen to Augustine, Jerome, Chrysostom, Hilary of Poiters and other Fathers of the Church?

And that's before we also consider the problem that Rome is not unique in being a successor to Peter, as I also documented and established from the early Church.

As I predicted, Scott in his opening statement tries to say Peter and his faith as per Mt 16 cannot be distinguished, contrary to the church fathers who explicitely distinguished between Peter and his faith. From my point of view this is very simple: If you can confess the same thing Peter did, then how are Jesus' words any less applicable to you? That was St Ambrose' exact point. If you confess what Peter did, you too are a rock, the same as Peter was. Peter may have been the first rock, but he is no more or less a rock.

I suggest the reader go back and read Ambrose and Cyprian from my opening statement showing that anyone who has Peter's confession is a rock. Lest anyone think this is unique to Cyprian and Ambrose, we can cite more Fathers that it isn't a man the Church is built on, but the confession all Christians hold:

"And if we too have said like Peter, 'Thou are the Christ, the Son of the living God', not as if flesh and blood had revealed it to us, but by the light from the Father in heaven having shone in our heart, we become a Peter, and to us there might be said by the Word, 'Thou art Peter'. For a rock is every disciple of Christ." ~Origen, Commentary on Matthew

"Christ, you see, built his Church NOT ON A MAN but on Peter's confession. What is Peter's confession? 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God'. There's the rock for you, there's the foundation, and there's where the Church has been built, which the gates of the underworld cannot conquer" - ~Augustine, Sermon 229

"For though we do not retain the body of Peter, we retain the faith of Peter, and retaining the faith of Peter we have Peter." ~Chrysostom, On the Inscription of the Acts II

The Alternative - Unity
Recall that I presented St Vincent and an excerpt his treatise "The Commonitory", as well as Athanasius' comments in the Epistle to the Catholics as an alternative theory to Papal primacy. This is not to say that either Vincent or Athanasius never had anything nice to say about the Pope, or his having a role in the Church. The issue is, which has not been rebutted, that these important fathers defined the true Catholic church in a way that is not dependant on there being a papacy. I strongly suggest that the reader go and read St Vincent's Commonitory again from my opening statement, and make for yourself a list of how Vincent defines the true church:

The Authority of Divine Law
The Tradition of the Catholic Church
The Faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all.
Universality, antiquity, consent
The soundness of the whole body
Cleave to antiquity
An ancient General Council

What is glaringly absent as a means of discerning the true church is the papacy. In fact, the Commonitory is completely redundant if the papacy defines the true church. We could shortcut this entire list and just look to Rome. Vincent elsewhere cites bishops including the bishop of Rome, but they are but one witness to the Tradition of the Catholic Church.

We saw this same thing with many other Church fathers. Augustine for example. While he certainly consulted with his fellow bishops, and especially his local Patriarch, the Bishop of Rome, Augustine wrote more than anybody else on the unity of the Church and not once mentions the Papacy as definitional of unity. What he does mention as the highest authority is an ecumenical council.

The point is, the early Church defined unity in a way that doesn't include the papacy. For all the nice things that the Church had to say about Peter and Bishops of Rome, none of that actually establishes Rome as an unrevokable centre of unity.

I again draw the reader's attention to the fifth ecumenical council which predicated its communion with the Bishop of Rome on his making an orthodox confession. I also draw the reader's attention to the heretical Popes which cannot possibly stand as a centre of unity.

And I draw attention to Peter withdrawing himself from the gentiles in the Galatians 2 incident. If the Pope can wrongly withdraw his communion from you, and Rome doesn't even claim that its decisions on communion are infallible, then clearly it can't be definitional of the Church.

The Role of Peter

Even if we granted the Bishop of Rome with some peculiar Petrene authority (which we do not grant for reasons already stated), it would not follow that Scott has established that the modern Papacy is in proper exercise of it.

Recall Chrysostom's comment:

But observe how Peter does everything with common consent; nothing imperiiously. ~John Chrysostom, Homily III on Acts 1:12

and compare to Pius IX, who didn't want common bishops witnessing to tradition because "There is only one: that's me." Compare to the Eastern Catholic canon law which gives the Pope supreme jurisdiction from which there is no appeal. Compare to Catholic canon law that "no mortal may presume to reprehend him, forasmuch as he is judge of all, and is judged of no one." Compare to the behaviour of the papacy in the middle ages which caused Nicetas, Archbishop of Nicomedia to comment that

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.

and compare to the words of Jesus himself:

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.

Scott has failed to prove that the role the Papacy claims for herself is in any way comparable to Peter's role in the Twelve.

The Alternative - Ultimate Authority in the Church
Rome today claims that there is no authority outside the Pope, and furthermore that the Pope can act totally alone in exercising his absolute authority

There is so much information contrary to this that we cannot repeat it all. We recall Augustine stating an ecumenical council as the highest authority. We recall the Third Ecumenical Council ignoring the Pope's judgment and revisiting all his decisions. We recall the second council stating that it had canonically decided without the Pope. We recall the authority of the first council of Nicea before the Pope had approved it. We recall the East not waiting for Papal approval of the Seventh council or the council of Trullo. We even recall the Catholic bishops in 1789 swearing on oath that the Pope is to submit to the Ecumenical councils.

The Alternative - Position of first bishop
Whatever we think of the Bishop of Rome's position in the early church, it doesn't answer the question of whether that position is revokable. Peter fell as head of the Twelve by denying Christ three times and had to be restored. There's no obvious reason to presuppose that Bishops of Rome can't fall permanently.

I documented the demotion of Alexandria as Second See, and that Rome accepts this demotion. I documented that the Fifth council predicated Rome's position as primate on her giving an orthodox confession. I documented Saint Columbanus expressing that Rome can no longer "shine as an apostolic star" when it has erred.

The Alternative - Jurisdiction
Recall the canon law of the Eastern Catholic Churches:

[The Bishop of Rome] enjoys supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power in the Church which he can always freely exercise.

We saw the canons of Nicea restricting Rome's power to Rome. We saw the Synod of Carthage denying any appeals to Rome. We saw that Antioch ignored Rome's candidate for the Antioch Patriarchate during the Second Ecumenical Council. We saw Canon 34 of the Apostles which lists the primate as the top bishop in the country. In short, what we saw is the ecclesiology of the Orthodox Church. What we haven't seen in the early church is the modern canon law of the Eastern Catholic Churches.

In large part, Scott has failed to address the points of dispute. Orthodoxy is happy to hear nice things about Peter. Orthodoxy, pre-schism, was happy to consider popes to be one of the successors to Peter. Orthodoxy was even happy to consider Rome's bishop to be the first bishop. For Scott to prove what was agreed already, does not actually win him the debate.

For Scott to make progress in this debate, he must tell us why we shouldn't accept all that the Fathers taught, and not just the subset he believes. Why shouldn't we keep Rome's jurisdiction to her own geographical boundaries as the first council taught? Why shouldn't we consider the papacy non-essential to a canonical ecumenical council as the second council taught? Why shouldn't an ecumenical council reconsider a Pope's decision as the third council taught? Why shouldn't we be prepared to demote a Patriarchate as the fourth council taught? Why shouldn't we make Rome's primacy conditional on her orthodoxy as the fifth council taught? Why shouldn't we consider that popes can teach heresy as the sixth council taught?

The question is one of who is going to judge who. Is Scott going to set himself up as judge of Mt 16 over and against the Fathers? Is he going to judge Popes as to when they speak infallibly? Is he going to judge who in fact is the valid pope or bishop? Is he going to judge the ecumenical councils as to how they apply to the papacy?

Or will he submit both himself and the Pope to the judgment of the Church? As I discussed in my opening statement, the papacy solves nothing. The most non-concilliar doctrine ever proposed - papal infallibility, actually puts the burden of judgment back onto the individual to judge what is infallible, and thus no two Catholics can now agree on what the Church teaches infallibly.

1 Cor. 1:10-13 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. 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." Has Christ been divided?