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Reflections: Vatican View (Primacy/Supremacy)

Papal Tiara & Keys

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Papal Primacy / Supremacy

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Papal Primacy

Papal Supremacy / Councils

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Category
Quotation

Papal Primacy

Also See: The Pope (Topic Page)

Note: The Pope's authority in the Church is supreme, however his power is not absolute. The Magisterium may only teach what has been revealed by God, and not new doctrines.

Click here for: A Note Regarding the Term 'Church' (Church Talk Section)

"Can. 1556 The First See is judged by no one." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1404 The First See is judged by no one." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"[T]he authority of the Roman Pontiff prevails over the opinions of learned men" (Pope Pius XII, "Doctor Mellifluus", 1953)

"The Pope has the plenitude of power in the Church" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and 'greatest theologian in the history of the Church')

"In matters involving the salvation of souls, there is no teaching authority in the Church not subject to this authority and vigilance." (Pope Pius XII, "Si Diligis", 1954 A.D.)

"The primacy is the bulwark, or rather the corner-stone, of Catholicism; without it, there would be as many churches as there are nations or states." (Acton)

"It is heretical to propose that the Roman Pontiff is ministerial head, if this is explained to mean that he received from the Church the power of his office" (Pope Pius VI, Auctorem Fidei)

"It has never been allowed that that be discussed again which has one been decided by the Apostolic See." (Pope St. Boniface I, 422 A.D."

"It is clear to everyone who knows the Gospel that the care of the whole Church has been committed to the blessed Peter, chief of the apostles." (Pope St. Gregory I the Great, Doctor of the Church, circa 595 A.D.)

"Take care that I do not have to complain about you to Jesus crucified. There is no one else I can complain to, for you have no superior on earth." (St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church, to Pope Gregory XI, fourteenth century A.D.)

"Furthermore, in this one Church of Christ no man can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors." (Pope Pius XI, "Mortalium Animos", 1928)

CONDEMNED Error of John Hus: "The papal dignity originated with the emperor, and the primacy and institution of the pope emanated from imperial power." (This error was condemned by the Council of Constance)

"The tradition of the Fathers has attributed such great authority to the Apostolic See that no one would dare to disagree wholly with its judgment." (Pope St. Zosimus, 418 A.D.)

"When God gave to Blessed Peter the princely power of binding and loosing in heaven and on earth, He made no exception, and withdrew nothing from his power." (Pope Gregory VII, 1081 A.D.)

"As the hinge while remaining immovable opens and closes the door, so Peter and his successors have free judgment over all the Church, since no one should remove their status because 'the highest See is judged by no one.'" (Pope St. Leo IX, 1053 A.D.)

"Nobody at any time and for whatever human pretext may haughtily set himself above the office of him who by Christ's order was set above all and everyone and whom the universal church had always recognized as its head." (Pope Gelasius I, 5th century A.D.)

"But the primacy is given to Peter, that the unity of the Church may be proclaimed. All are shepherds, but one flock is indicated, which was then shepherded by all the apostles with unanimous consent, and is henceforth shepherded by their successors under a common care." (St. Bede the Venerable, Doctor of the Church)

"We exhort you, honorable brother, that you obediently listen to what has been written by the blessed pope of the city of Rome, since blessed Peter, who lives and presides in his own See, offers the truth of the faith to those who seek. For we in our zeal for peace an faith cannot decide questions of faith apart from the consent of the bishop of Rome." (St. Peter Chrysologus, Doctor of the Church, 449 A.D.)

"The pope possesses such a plenitude of power within the Church that he can dispense from purely ecclesiastical regulations, which are ordinances which belong to positive law, that is, human law. But he can give no dispensation from the precepts of the divine law and the natural law; their force comes from divine decree." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and 'greatest theologian in the history of the Church')

"It is evident that the judgment of the Apostolic See, than which there is no authority greater, may be rejected by no one, nor is it lawful for anyone to pass judgement on its judgement." (Pope Nicholas I, 9th century A.D.)

"It is clear that this Church [or Rome] is to all churches throughout the world as the head is to the members, and that whoever separates himself from it becomes an exile from the Christian religion" (Pope St. Boniface I, 422 A.D.)

"The Shepherd of the Lord's whole flock is the Bishop of the Church of Rome, where the Blessed Apostle Peter, by sovereign disposition of divine Providence, offered to Christ the supreme witness of martyrdom by the shedding of his blood." (Pope John Paul II)

"See how great power has that rock upon which the Church is built, that its sentences are to continue firm as though God gave sentence by it. (Mt. 16:19)" [Origen ('the greatest scholar of Christian antiquity' - although he would eventually be excommunicated and be regarded as a heretic), 3rd century A.D.]

"It is time, most loving Father, that you recognized your pre-eminence. Then do you really take the place of Peter, whose See you hold, when by your admonitions you strengthen hearts weak in faith; when, by your authority, you break those who corrupt the faith." (St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor of the Church)

"At the time of Victor (circa 189-198 A.D.), the primacy of the Roman Pontiff was acknowledged by all. For, when in the controversy concerning the celebration of Easter, Victor wished to excommunicate the churches of Asia, they indeed accused him of too great severity (as Irenaeus), but no bishop called into question either his right or his authority." (Denzinger)

"If the hearts of the faithful should be submitted to all priests in general who rightly administer divine things, how much more should assent be given to the Bishop of that See which the Most High wished to be pre-eminent over all priests, and which the devotion of the whole Church has honored ever since." (Pope St. Gelasius I, 494 A.D.)

"As the Son of God came to do the Father's will, so shall ye fulfill the will of your mother, which is the Church, the head of which, as has been stated already, is the church of Rome. Wherefore, whatsoever may be done against the discipline of this church, without the decision of justice, cannot on any account be permitted to be held valid." (Pope St. Callixtus, circa 220 A.D.)

"[T]he Roman Pontiff, who holds Primacy in the entire world, is the Successor of Blessed Peter the Prince of the Apostles and the true Vicar of Christ, the head of the whole Church, and is the visible Father and Teacher of all Christians." (Council of Florence)

"This chair [of Peter] is the center of Catholic truth and unity, that is, the head, mother, and teacher of all the Churches to which all honor and obedience must be offered. Every church must agree with it because of its greater pre-eminence - that is, those people who are in all respects faithful." (Pope Pius IX, "Inter Multiplices", 1853 A.D.)

"If any one shall despise the dogmatic decisions, injunctions, interdicts, sanctions or decrees which have been wisely published by the one who presides over the Apostolic See on behalf of the Catholic faith, ecclesiastical discipline, the correction of the faithful, the punishment of the wicked, or the forbidding of present or future evils, let him be anathema." (Pope St. Nicholas I)

"From the whole world only one, Peter, is chosen to preside over the calling of all nations, and over all the other Apostles, and over the Fathers of the Church. Thus, although among the people of God there are many priests and many pastors, it is really Peter who rules them all, of whom, too, it is Christ who is their chief ruler." (Pope St. Leo I the Great, Doctor of the Church, circa 455 A.D.)

"Can. 218 § 1 The Roman Pontiff, the Successor in primacy to Blessed Peter, has not only a primacy of honor, but supreme and full power of jurisdiction over the universal Church both in those things that pertain to faith and morals, and in those things that affect the discipline and government of the Church spread throughout the whole world. § 2. This power is truly episcopal, ordinary, and immediate, both over each and every church and over each and every pastor and faithful independent from any human authority." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 331 The bishop of the Roman Church, in whom continues the office given by the Lord uniquely to Peter, the first of the Apostles, and to be transmitted to his successors, is the head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ, and the pastor of the universal Church on earth. By virtue of his office he possesses supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he is always able to exercise freely." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"He founded a single chair, and He established by His own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was; but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair...If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?" (St. Cyprian of Carthage, circa 251 A.D.)

"Let that false assembly, which without the Apostolic See...was held contrary to the traditions of the venerable fathers against the divine images, be declared anathema in the presence of our delegates, and let the word of our Lord Jesus Christ be fulfilled, that 'the gates of hell shall not prevail against her' (Matt. 16:18); and again: 'Thou art Peter...' (Matt. 16:18-19), whose throne holding the first place in all the world shines forth and holds its place as the head of the whole Church of God." (Pope Hadrian I, 785 A.D.)

"When [St.] Augustine, accordingly, had learned of the Roman Pontiffs condemnation of Pelagius and Caelestius, he uttered the following memorable words in a sermon to the people: 'The views of two councils touching this controversy have been transmitted to the Apostolic See, and the answer has been sent back. The case has been settled. God grant that the error be ended likewise.' These words of his, condensed a trifle, have passed into a proverb: 'Rome has spoken, the cause is finished.'" (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Salutem", 1930 A.D.)

"We likewise define that the holy Apostolic See, and the Roman Pontiff, hold the primacy throughout the entire world; and that the Roman Pontiff himself is the successor of blessed Peter, the chief of the Apostles, and the true vicar of Christ, and that he is the head of the entire Church, and the father and teacher of all Christians; and that full power was given to him in blessed Peter by our Lord Jesus Christ, to feed, rule, and govern the universal Church; just as is contained in the acts of the ecumenical Councils and in the sacred canons." (Council of Florence, 1439 A.D.)

"Ignatius, also called Theophorus, to the Church that has found mercy in the greatness of the Most High Father and in Jesus Christ, His only Son; to the Church beloved and enlightened after the love of Jesus Christ, our God, by the will of Him that has willed everything which is; to the Church also which holds the presidency in the place of the country of the Romans, worthy of God, worthy of honor, worthy of blessing, worthy of praise, worthy of success, worthy of sanctification, and because you hold the presidency of love, named after Christ and named after the Father" (St. Ignatius of Antioch, circa 110 A.D.)

"The holy general synod of Basel, legitimately assembled in the Holy Spirit, representing the universal church, for an everlasting record. Since a good shepherd is the salvation of his flock, it is the duty of this sacred synod to strive, with all the diligence that human law can contrive, that the Roman pontiff, who is first in the Lord's flock and the supreme shepherd, should be and continue to be such as to provide for the salvation of all souls and the benefit of the whole Christian world and to fulfill worthily so great an office." (Council of Basel)

"Can. 1417 §1 Because of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff, any of the faithful may either refer their case to, or introduce it before, the Holy See, whether the case be contentious or penal. They may do so at any grade of trial or at any stage of the suit. §2 Apart from the case of an appeal, a referral to the Apostolic See does not suspend the exercise of jurisdiction of a judge who has already begun to hear a case. The judge can, therefore, continue with the trial up to the definitive judgement, unless the Apostolic See has indicated to him that it has reserved the case to itself." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Who art thou? Thou art the High Priest and the Sovereign Pontiff. Thou art the prince of pastors and the heir of the apostles...by thy jurisdiction, a Peter; and by thy unction, a Christ. Thou art he to whom the keys have been delivered and the sheep entrusted. There are indeed other gate-keepers of heaven, and there are other shepherds of the flock [e.g. bishops]; but thou art in both respects more glorious than they in proportion as thou hast inherited a more excellent name. They have assigned to them particular portions of the flock, his own to each; whereas thou art given charge of all the sheep, as the one Chief Shepherd of the whole flock. Yea, not only of the sheep, but of the other pastors also art thou the sole supreme Shepherd." (St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor of the Church)

"Can. 333 §1 By virtue of his office, the Roman Pontiff not only has power over the universal Church, but also has pre-eminent ordinary power over all particular Churches and their groupings. This reinforces and defends the proper, ordinary and immediate power which the Bishops have in the particular Churches entrusted to their care. §2 The Roman Pontiff, in fulfilling his office as supreme Pastor of the Church, is always joined in full communion with the other Bishops, and indeed with the whole Church. He has the right, however, to determine, according to the needs of the Church, whether this office is to be exercised in a personal or in a collegial manner. §3 There is neither appeal nor recourse against a judgement or a decree of the Roman Pontiff." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"[A]uthority being the basis of every society, and its maintenance being of the utmost importance to the preservation of order and justice, it should be respected and upheld first and foremost in the Roman Pontiff, for he is the highest representative of authority on earth, his temporal power is by far the oldest in existence, and his kingly characters is enhanced by the union of supreme spiritual powers. He, therefore, who attacks or overthrows the temporal sovereignty of the Pope is an enemy to every Government; for there is no other that can bear comparison with this in merit and rightful possession; and if it be not spared, no other is safe." (Gueranger)

"The Pope has the plenitude of pontifical power, being like a king in his kingdom: whereas the bishops are appointed to a share in his solicitude, like judges over each city. Hence them alone the Pope, in his letters, addresses as brethren, whereas he calls all others his sons. Therefore the plenitude of the power of granting indulgences resides in the Pope, because he can grant them, as he lists, provided the cause be a lawful one: while, in bishops, this power resides subject to the Pope's ordination, so that they can grant them within fixed limits and not beyond." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and 'greatest theologian in the history of the Church')

"But this power of binding and loosing, though it seems given by the Lord to Peter alone, is indeed given also to the other Apostles, and is even now in the Bishops and Presbyters in every Church. But Peter received in a special manner the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and a supremacy of judicial power, that all the faithful throughout the world might understand that all who in any manner separate themselves from the unity of the faith, or from communion with him, such should neither be able to be loosed from the bonds of sin, nor to enter the gate of the heavenly kingdom." (Bl. Rabanus Maurus)

"Although the power of binding and loosing was given to all the apostles in common, nevertheless in order to indicate some order in this power, it was given first of all to Peter alone, to show that this power must come down from him to the others. For this reason He said to him in the singular: 'Confirm thy brethren' (Luke 22:32), and: 'Feed My sheep' (John 21:17), i.e. according to Chrysostom: 'Be thou the president and head of thy brethren in My stead, that they, putting thee in My place, may preach and confirm thee throughout the world whilst thou sittest on thy throne.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and 'greatest theologian in the history of the Church')

"All who defend the faith should aim to implant deeply in your faithful people the virtues of piety, veneration, and respect for this supreme See of Peter. Let the faithful recall the fact that Peter, Prince of Apostles is alive here and rules in his successors, and that his office does not fail even in an unworthy heir. Let them recall that Christ the Lord placed the impregnable foundation of his Church on this See of Peter and gave to Peter himself the keys of the kingdom of Heaven. Christ then prayed that his faith would not fail, and commanded Peter to strengthen his brothers in the faith. Consequently the successor of Peter, the Roman Pontiff, holds a primacy over the whole world and is the true Vicar of Christ, head of the whole Church and father and teacher of all Christians." (Pope Pius IX, "Nostis et Nobiscum ", 1849)

"Furthermore if you have not heard us, it remains for you to be with us of necessity, such as our Lord Jesus Christ has commanded those to be considered, who disdained to hear the Church of God, especially since the privileges of the Roman Church, built on Blessed Peter by the word of Christ, deposited in the Church herself, observed in ancient times and celebrated by the sacred universal Synods, and venerated jointly by the entire Church, can by no means be diminished, by no means infringed upon, by no means changed; for the foundation which God has established, no human effort has the power to destroy and what God has determined, remains firm and strong... Thus the privileges granted to this holy Church by Christ, not given by the Synod, but now only celebrated and venerated." (Pope St. Nicholas I, 865 A.D.)

"A twofold power is required in order to absolve from sins, namely, power of order and power of jurisdiction. The former power is equally in all priests, but not the latter. And therefore, when our Lord (John 20:23) gave all the apostles in general, the power of forgiving sins, this is to be understood of the power which results from receiving orders, wherefore these words are addressed to priests when they are ordained. But to Peter in particular He gave the power of forgiving sins (Matthew 16:19), that we may understand that he has the power of jurisdiction before the others. But the power of orders, considered in itself, extends to all who can be absolved: wherefore our Lord said indeterminately, 'Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them,' on the understanding that this power should be used in dependence on the power given to Peter, according to His appointment." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and 'greatest theologian in the history of the Church')

"Well known are the terms of [the First] Vatican Council's solemn definition: 'Relying on the open testimony of the Scriptures and abiding by the wise and clear decrees both of our predecessors, the Roman Pontiffs, and the general Councils, We renew the definition of the Ecumenical Council of Florence, by virtue of which all the faithful must believe that 'the Holy Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff hold primacy over the whole world, and the Roman Pontiff himself is the Successor of the blessed Peter and continues to be the true Vicar of Christ and head of the whole Church, the father and teacher of all Christians, and to him is the blessed Peter our Lord Jesus Christ committed the full power of caring for, ruling and governing the Universal Church....'" (Pope Pius XII, "Ad Apostolorum Principis", 1958 A.D.)

"Above all these [priests, bishops, archbishops, patriarchs] the Catholic Church has always placed the Supreme Pontiff of Rome, whom Cyril of Alexandria, in the Council of Ephesus, named the Chief Bishop, Father and Patriarch of the whole world. He sits in that chair of Peter in which beyond every shadow of doubt the Prince of the Apostles sat to the end of his days, and hence it is that in him the Church recognizes the highest degree of dignity, and a universality of jurisdiction derived, not from the decrees of men or Councils, but from God Himself. Wherefore he is the Father and guide of all the faithful, of all the bishops, and of all the prelates, no matter how high their power and office; and as successor of St. Peter, as true and lawful Vicar of Christ our Lord, he governs the universal Church." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Although the tradition of the Fathers has attributed such great authority to the Apostolic See that no one would dare to disagree wholly with its judgment, and it has always preserved this judgment by canons and rules, and current ecclesiastical discipline up to this time by its laws pays the reverence which is due to the name of Peter, from whom it has itself descended...; since therefore Peter the head is of such great authority and he has confirmed the subsequent endeavors of all our ancestors, so that the Roman Church is fortified...by human as well as by divine laws, and it does not escape you that we rule its place and also hold power of the name itself, nevertheless you know, dearest brethren, and as priests you ought to know, although we have such great authority that no one can dare to retract from our decision, yet we have done nothing which we have not voluntarily referred to your notice by letters...not because we did not know what ought to be done, or would do anything which by going against the advantage of the Church, would be displeasing." (Council of Carthage, 418 A.D.)

"Using the words of St. Leo the Great; 'Among the holy apostles there was a similarity of honor but a distinction of power: while the election of all was equal, it was given only to one to have preeminence among the others ... because the Lord wanted the sacrament of evangelical duty to belong to the office of the apostles; thus He placed it principally in St. Peter, the head of all the apostles.' He granted this to Peter alone out of all the apostles when He promised him the keys of the kingdom of heaven and entrusted to him the obligation of feeding the Lord's sheep and lambs and the duty of strengthening his brothers. He wanted this to extend to Peter's successors whom He placed over the Church with equal right. This has always been the firm and united opinion of all Catholics. It is Church dogma that the pope, the successor of St. Peter, possesses not only primacy of honor but also primacy of authority and jurisdiction over the whole Church. Accordingly the bishops are subject to him." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Commissum Divinitus", 1835 A.D.)

"Also this same holy Roman Church holds the highest and complete primacy and spiritual power over the universal Catholic Church which she truly and humbly recognizes herself to have received with fullness of power from the Lord Himself in Blessed Peter, the chief or head of the Apostles whose successor is the Roman Pontiff. And just as to defend the truth of Faith she is held before all other things, so if any questions shall arise regarding faith they ought to be defined by her judgment. And to her anyone burdened with affairs pertaining to the ecclesiastical world can appeal; and in all cases looking forward to an ecclesiastical examination, recourse can be had to her judgment, and all churches are subject to her; their prelates give obedience and reverence to her. In her, moreover, such a plentitude of power rests that she receives the other churches to a share of her solicitude, of which many patriarchal churches the same Roman Church has honored in a special way by different privileges - its own prerogative always being observed and preserved both in general Councils and in other places." (Council of Lyons II, 1274 A.D.)

"In seeking the things of God...preserving the examples of ancient tradition...you have strengthened the vigor of your religion...with true reason, for you have confirmed that reference must be made to our judgment, realizing what is due the Apostolic See, since all of us placed in this position desire to follow the Apostle, from whom the episcopate itself and all the authority of this name have emerged. Following him we know how to condemn evils just as (well as how) to approve praiseworthy things. Take this as an example, guarding with your sacerdotal office the practices of the fathers you resolve that (they) must not be trampled upon, because they made their decisions not by human, but by divine judgment, so that they thought that nothing whatever, although it concerned separated and remote provinces, should be concluded, unless it first came to the attention of this See, so that what was a just proclamation might be confirmed by the total authority of this See, and from this source (just as all waters proceed from their natal fountain and through diverse regions of the whole world remain pure liquids of an uncorrupted source), the other churches might assume what [they ought] to teach, whom they ought to wash, those whom the water worthy of clean bodies would shun as though defiled with filth incapable of being cleansed." (Pope St. Innocent I, 417 A.D.)

"It has ever been unquestionably the office of the Roman Pontiffs to ratify or to reject the decrees of Councils. Leo the great rescinded the acts of the Conciliabulum of Ephesus. Damasus rejected those of Rimini, and Hadrian I those of Constantinople. The 28th Canon of the Council of Chalcedon, by the very fact that it lacks the assent and approval of the Apostolic See, is admitted by all to be worthless. Rightly, therefore, has Leo X laid down in the 5th council of Lateran 'that the Roman Pontiff alone, as having authority over all Councils, has full jurisdiction and power to summon, to transfer, to dissolve Councils, as is clear, not only from the testimony of Holy Writ, from the teaching of the Fathers and of the Roman Pontiffs, and from the decrees of the sacred canons, but from the teaching of the very Councils themselves.' Indeed, Holy Writ attests that the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven were given to Peter alone, and that the power of binding and loosening was granted to the Apostles and to Peter; but there is nothing to show that the Apostles received supreme power without Peter, and against Peter. Such power they certainly did not receive from Jesus Christ." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896 A.D.)

"The watchful care over the universal Church confided to Peter abides with him by reason of the Lord's statement; for he knows on the testimony of the Gospel [Matt. 16:18] that the Church was founded on him. His office can never be free from cares, since it is certain that all things depend on his deliberation. These considerations turn my mind to the regions of the Orient, which we behold in a way with genuine solicitude. Far be it from the priests of the Lord, that anyone of them fall into the offense of making the decrees of our elders foreign to him, by attempting something in the way of a novel and unlawful usurpation, realizing that he thus makes him a rival, in whom our Christ has placed the highest power of the priesthood, and whoever rises to reproach him cannot be an inhabitant of the heavenly regions. 'To you,' He said, 'I shall give the keys of the kingdom of heaven' [Matt. 16:19] into which no one shall enter without the favor of the door-keeper. He said: 'Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I shall build my church' [Matt. 11:29]. Whoever, therefore, desires before God to be judged worthy of the dignity of the priesthood, since one reaches God with the support of Peter, on whom, as we have said above, it is certain that the Church was founded, should be 'meek and humble of heart' [Matt. 11:29], lest as a contumacious disciple of him, whose pride he has imitated, he undergo the punishment of the teachers" (Pope St. Boniface I, 422 A.D.)

"God indeed even made the Church a society far more perfect than any other. For the end for which the Church exists is as much higher than the end of other societies as divine grace is above nature, as immortal blessings are above the transitory things on the earth. Therefore the Church is a society divine in its origin, supernatural in its end and in means proximately adapted to the attainment of that end; but it is a human community inasmuch as it is composed of men. For this reason we find it called in Holy Writ by names indicating a perfect society. It is spoken of as the House of God, the city placed upon the mountain to which all nations must come. But it is also the fold presided over by one Shepherd, and into which all Christ's sheep must betake themselves. Yea, it is called the kingdom which God has raised up and which will stand forever. Finally it is the body of Christ - that is, of course, His mystical body, but a body living and duly organized and composed of many members; members indeed which have not all the same functions, but which, united one to the other, are kept bound together by the guidance and authority of the head. Indeed no true and perfect human society can be conceived which is not governed by some supreme authority. Christ therefore must have given to His Church a supreme authority to which all Christians must render obedience. For this reason, as the unity of the faith is of necessity required for the unity of the Church, inasmuch as it is the body of the faithful, so also for this same unity, inasmuch as the Church is a divinely constituted society, unity of government, which effects and involves unity of communion, is necessary jure divino." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896)

"That which our Lord Jesus Christ, the prince of shepherds and great shepherd of the sheep, established in the blessed apostle Peter, for the continual salvation and permanent benefit of the Church, must of necessity remain for ever, by Christ's authority, in the Church which, founded as it is upon a rock, will stand firm until the end of time. For no one can be in doubt, indeed it was known in every age that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the apostles, the pillar of faith and the foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race, and that to this day and for ever he lives and presides and exercises judgment in his successors the bishops of the holy Roman see, which he founded and consecrated with his blood. Therefore whoever succeeds to the chair of Peter obtains by the institution of Christ himself, the primacy of Peter over the whole Church. So what the truth has ordained stands firm, and blessed Peter perseveres in the rock-like strength he was granted, and does not abandon that guidance of the Church which he once received. For this reason it has always been necessary for every church - that is to say the faithful throughout the world - to be in agreement with the Roman church because of its more effective leadership. In consequence of being joined, as members to head, with that see, from which the rights of sacred communion flow to all, they will grow together into the structure of a single body. Therefore, if anyone says that it is not by the institution of Christ the Lord himself (that is to say, by divine law) that blessed Peter should have perpetual successors in the primacy over the whole Church; or that the Roman pontiff is not the successor of blessed Peter in this primacy: let him be anathema." (First Vatican Council)

"It was necessary that a government of this kind, since it belongs to the constitution and formation of the Church, as its principal element - that is as the principle of unity and the foundation of lasting stability - should in no wise come to an end with St. Peter, but should pass to his successors from one to another. 'There remains, therefore, the ordinance of truth, and St. Peter, persevering in the strength of the rock which he had received, hath not abandoned the government of the Church which had been confided to him' (S. Leo M. sermo iii., cap. 3). For this reason the Pontiffs who succeed Peter in the Roman Episcopate receive the supreme power in the Church, jure divino. 'We define' (declare the Fathers of the Council of Florence) 'that the Holy and Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff hold the primacy of the Church throughout the whole world: and that the same Roman Pontiff is the successor of St. Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, and the true Vicar of Christ, the head of the whole Church, and the father and teacher of all Christians; and that full power was given to him, in Blessed Peter, by our Lord Jesus Christ to feed, to rule, and to govern the universal Church, as is also contained in the acts of oecumenical councils and in the sacred canons' (Conc. Florentinum). Similarly the Fourth Council of Lateran declares: 'The Roman Church, as the mother and mistress of all the faithful, by the will of Christ obtains primacy of jurisdiction over all other churches.' These declarations were preceded by the consent of antiquity which ever acknowledged, without the slightest doubt or hesitation, the Bishops of Rome, and revered them as the legitimate successors of St. Peter. Who is unaware of the many and evident testimonies of the holy Fathers which exist to this effect?" (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896)

"Likewise it is decreed: After the announcement of all these prophetic and evangelic as well as apostolic wrings which we have listed above as Scriptures, on which, by the grace of God, the Catholic Church is founded, we have considered that it ought to be announced that although all the Catholic Churches spread abroad through the world comprise but one bridal chamber of Christ, nevertheless, the holy Roman Church has been placed at the forefront not by conciliar decisions of other Churches, but has received the primacy by the evangelic voice of our Lord and Savior, who says: 'You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it; and I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you shall have loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven.' In addition to this, there is also the companionship of the vessel of election, the most blessed Apostle Paul, who contented and was crowned with a glorious death along with Peter in the City of Rome in the time of Caesar Nero - not at a different time, as the heretics prattle, but at one and the same time and on one and the same day: and they equally consecrated the above-mentioned holy Roman Church to Christ the Lord; and by their own presence and by their venerable triumph they set it at the forefront over the others of all the cities of the whole world. The first see, therefore, is that of Peter the Apostle, that of the Roman Church, which has neither stain nor blemish nor anything like it. The second see, however, is that at Alexandria, consecrated in behalf of blessed Peter by Mark, his disciple and an evangelist, who was sent to Egypt by the Apostle Peter, where he preached the word of truth and finished his glorious martyrdom. The third honorable see, indeed, is that at Antioch, which belonged to the most blessed Apostle Peter, where first he dwelt before he came to Rome, and where the name Christians was first applied, as to a new people." (Pope St. Damasus I, circa 382 A.D.)

"He invested [Peter], therefore, with the needful authority; since the right to rule is absolutely required by him who has to guard human society really and effectively... The Church is typified not only as an edifice but as a Kingdom, and every one knows that the keys constitute the usual sign of governing authority. Wherefore when Christ promised to give to Peter the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, he promised to give him power and authority over the Church. 'The Son committed to Peter the office of spreading the knowledge of His Father and Himself over the whole world. He who increased the Church in all the earth, and proclaimed it to be stronger than the heavens, gave to a mortal man all power in Heaven when He handed him the Keys' (S. Johannes Chrysostomus, Hom. liv., in Matt. v., 2). In this same sense He says: 'Whatsoever thou shall bind upon earth it shall be bound also in Heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth it shall be loosed also in Heaven.' This metaphorical expression of binding and loosing indicates the power of making laws, of judging and of punishing; and the power is said to be of such amplitude and force that God will ratify whatever is decreed by it. Thus it is supreme and absolutely independent, so that, having no other power on earth as its superior, it embraces the whole Church and all things committed to the Church. The promise is carried out when Christ the Lord after His Resurrection, having thrice asked Peter whether he loved Him more than the rest, lays on him the injunction: 'Feed my lambs-feed my sheep.' That is He confides to him, without exception, all those who were to belong to His fold. 'The Lord does not hesitate." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896 A.D.)

"Surely jurisdiction and authority belong to him in whose power have been placed the keys of the Kingdom taken collectively. And as the Bishops, each in his own district, command with real power not only individuals but the whole community, so the Roman pontiffs, whose jurisdiction extends to the whole Christian commonwealth, must have all its parts, even taken collectively, subject and obedient to their authority. Christ the Lord, as we have quite sufficiently shown, made Peter and his successors His vicars, to exercise for ever in the Church the power which He exercised during His mortal life. Can the Apostolic College be said to have been above its master in authority? This power over the Episcopal College to which we refer, and which is clearly set forth in Holy Writ, has ever been acknowledged and attested by the Church, as is clear from the teaching of General Councils. 'We read that the Roman Pontiff has pronounced judgments on the prelates of all the churches; we do not read that anybody has pronounced sentence on him' (Hadrianus ii., in Allocutione iii., ad Synodum Romanum an. 869, Cf. Actionem vii., Conc. Constantinopolitani iv). The reason for which is stated thus: 'there is no authority greater than that of the Apostolic See' (Nicholaus in Epist. lxxxvi. ad Michael. Imperat.) wherefore Gelasius on the decrees of Councils says: 'That which the First See has not approved of cannot stand; but what it has thought well to decree has been received by the whole Church' (Epist. xxvi., ad Episcopos Dardaniae, n. 5)." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896 A.D.)

"We teach and declare that, according to the gospel evidence, a primacy of jurisdiction over the whole church of God was immediately and directly promised to the blessed apostle Peter and conferred on him by Christ the Lord. It was to Simon alone, to whom he had already said You shall be called Cephas, that the Lord, after his confession, You are the Christ, the son of the living God, spoke these words: Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the underworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. And it was to Peter alone that Jesus, after his resurrection, confided the jurisdiction of supreme pastor and ruler of his whole fold, saying: Feed my lambs, feed my sheep. To this absolutely manifest teaching of the sacred scriptures, as it has always been understood by the Catholic Church, are clearly opposed the distorted opinions of those who misrepresent the form of government which Christ the Lord established in his Church and deny that Peter, in preference to the rest of the apostles, taken singly or collectively, was endowed by Christ with a true and proper primacy of jurisdiction. The same may be said of those who assert that this primacy was not conferred immediately and directly on blessed Peter himself, but rather on the Church, and that it was through the Church that it was transmitted to him in his capacity as her minister. Therefore, if anyone says that blessed Peter the apostle was not appointed by Christ the Lord as prince of all the apostles and visible head of the whole Church militant; or that it was a primacy of honor only and not one of true and proper jurisdiction that he directly and immediately received from our Lord Jesus Christ himself: let him be anathema." (First Vatican Council)

"But if the authority of Peter and his successors is plenary and supreme, it is not to be regarded as the sole authority. For He who made Peter the foundation of the Church also 'chose, twelve, whom He called apostles' (Luke vi., 13); and just as it is necessary that the authority of Peter should be perpetuated in the Roman Pontiff, so, by the fact that the bishops succeed the Apostles, they inherit their ordinary power, and thus the episcopal order necessarily belongs to the essential constitution of the Church. Although they do not receive plenary, or universal, or supreme authority, they are not to be looked as vicars of the Roman Pontiffs; because they exercise a power really their own, and are most truly called the ordinary pastors of the peoples over whom they rule. But since the successor of Peter is one, and those of the Apostles are many, it is necessary to examine into the relations which exist between him and them according to the divine constitution of the Church. Above all things the need of union between the bishops and the successors of Peter is clear and undeniable. This bond once broken, Christians would be separated and scattered, and would in no wise form one body and one flock. 'The safety of the Church depends on the dignity of the chief priest, to whom if an extraordinary and supreme power is not given, there are as many schisms to be expected in the Church as there are priests' (S. Hieronymus, Dialog, contra Luciferianos, n. 9). It is necessary, therefore, to bear this in mind, viz., that nothing was conferred on the apostles apart from Peter, but that several things were conferred upon Peter apart from the Apostles. St. John Chrysostom in explaining the words of Christ asks: 'Why, passing over the others, does He speak to Peter about these things?' And he replies unhesitatingly and at once, 'Because he was pre-eminent among the Apostles, the mouthpiece of the Disciples, and the head of the college' (Hom. lxxxviii. in Joan., n. I). He alone was designated as the foundation of the Church. To him He gave the power of binding and loosing; to him alone was given the power of feeding. On the other hand, whatever authority and office the Apostles received, they received in conjunction with Peter. 'If the divine benignity willed anything to be in common between him and the other princes, whatever He did not deny to the others He gave only through him. So that whereas Peter alone received many things, He conferred nothing on any of the rest without Peter participating in it' (S. Leo M. sermo iv., cap. 2)." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896 A.D.)

"Since the circumstances demand, examine if you please, the decrees of the canons; you will find, what church ranks second after the church at Rome, or what is third. In these (decrees) there appears a distinct order, so that the pontiffs of the other churches recognize that they nevertheless are under one church...and share the same priesthood, and to whom they, preserving charity, should be subject because of ecclesiastical discipline. Indeed this teaching of the canons has persisted from antiquity, and continues even at the present time, through the grace of Christ. No one has ever boldly raised his hands in opposition to the apostolic supremacy, from whose judgment there may be no withdrawal; no one in this has been rebellious, except him who wished judgment to be passed on himself. The above mentioned great churches preserve...their authority through the canons: the churches of Alexandria and of Antioch, having the knowledge of ecclesiastical law. They preserve, I say, the statutes of our elders... in all things rendering and receiving an interchange of that grace which they know that they owe to us in the Lord who is our peace. But since the situation demands it, it must be shown by documents that the greatest churches of the Orient in important affairs, in which there was need of greater inquiry, have always consulted the See of Rome, and, as often as experience demanded, asked for its help. Athanasius of holy memory and Peter, priests of the church of Alexandria, sought the aid of this See. When the Church of Antioch was afflicted during a very long period, with the result that conferences because of this were often held, it is clear that the Apostolic See was consulted, first under Meletius and later under Flavianus. According to its authority, after the many things which were accomplished by our church, no one doubts that Flavianus received the grace of communion, which he would have lacked forever if his writing had not gone forth hence upon this basis. The emperor Theodosius of most kindly memory, thinking that the ordination of Nectarius did not possess stability, since it did not take place in our way, sending from his presence members of his court together with bishops, demanded that it be performed in this case by the Roman See, and that they direct it in the regular way, so as to strengthen the priesthood. A short time ago, that is under my predecessor of happy memory, Innocent, the Pontiffs of the Oriental churches, grieving that they were separated from the communion of blessed Peter, through envoys asked for peace, as your charity remembers. And at this time the Apostolic See without difficulty granted all, obeying the Master who says: 'And to whom you have pardoned any thing, I also. For what I have pardoned, if I have pardoned anything, for your sakes have I done it in the person of Christ. That we be not overreached by Satan. For we are not ignorant of his devices [2 Cor. 2:10 f.], that is, who always rejoices at dissension. Since then, most beloved Brethren, I think that the examples which we have given suffice to prove the truth, although more are retained in your own minds, without harm to our brotherhood we wish to meet your assembly, as you see by this letter which has been directed by Us through Severus, a notary of the Apostolic See, most acceptable to Our heart, chosen from Our circle. Thus in agreement, as befits brothers, let not anyone wishing to endure in our communion bring up again for discussion the name of our brother and fellow priest, Bishop Perigenas, whose sacerdotal office the Apostle Peter has already confirmed at the suggestion of the Holy Spirit, leaving no question about this for the future, and let there be no objection to this, since he was appointed by Us during the space of that time in which the office was vacant..." (Pope St. Boniface I, 422 A.D.) 

"But the Episcopal order is rightly judged to be in communion with Peter, as Christ commanded, if it be subject to and obeys Peter; otherwise it necessarily becomes a lawless and disorderly crowd. It is not sufficient for the due preservation of the unity of the faith that the head should merely have been charged with the office of superintendent, or should have been invested solely with a power of direction. But it is absolutely necessary that he should have received real and sovereign authority which the whole community is bound to obey. What had the Son of God in view when he promised the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven to Peter alone? Biblical usage and the unanimous teaching of the Fathers clearly show that supreme authority is designated in the passage by the word keys. Nor is it lawful to interpret in a different sense what was given to Peter alone, and what was given to the other Apostles conjointly with him. If the power of binding, loosening, and feeding confers upon each and every one of the Bishops the successors of the Apostles a real authority to rule the people committed to him, certainly the same power must have the same effect in his case to whom the duty of feeding the lambs and sheep has been assigned by God. 'Christ constituted [Peter] not only pastor, but pastor of pastors; Peter therefore feeds the lambs and feeds the sheep, feeds the children and feeds the mothers, governs the subjects and rules the prelates, because the lambs and the sheep form the whole of the Church' (S. Brunonis Episcopi Signiensis Comment. in Joan., part iii., cap. 21, n. 55). Hence those remarkable expressions of the ancients concerning St. Peter, which most clearly set forth the fact that he was placed in the highest degree of dignity and authority. They frequently call him 'the Prince of the College of the Disciples; the Prince of the holy Apostles; the leader of that choir; the mouthpiece of all the Apostles; the head of that family; the ruler of the whole world; the first of the Apostles; the safeguard of the Church.' In this sense St. Bernard writes as follows to Pope Eugenius: 'Who art thou? The great priest - the high priest. Thou art the Prince of Bishops and the heir of the Apostles...Thou art he to whom the keys were given. There are, it is true, other gatekeepers of heaven and pastors of flocks, but thou are so much the more glorious as thou hast inherited a different and more glorious name than all the rest. They have flocks consigned to them, one to each; to thee all the flocks are confided as one flock to one shepherd, and not alone the sheep, but the shepherds. You ask how I prove this? From the words of the Lord. To which - I do not say - of the Bishops, but even of the Apostles have all the sheep been so absolutely and unreservedly committed? If thou lovest me, Peter, feed my sheep. Which sheep? Of this or that country, or kingdom? My sheep, He says: to whom therefore is it not evident that he does not designate some, but all? We can make no exception where no distinction is made' (De Consideratione, lib. ii., cap. 8)." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896)

"Now, if we look at what was done, Jesus Christ did not arrange and organize such a Church as would embrace several communities similar in kind, but distinct, and not bound together by those bonds that make the Church indivisible and unique after that manner clearly in which we profess in the symbol of faith, 'l believe in one Church.' ... Now, Jesus Christ when He was speaking of such a mystical edifice, spoke only of one Church which He called His own: 'I will build my Church' [Matt. 16:18]. Whatever other church is under consideration than this one, since it was not founded by Jesus Christ, cannot be the true Church of Christ... And so the Church is bound to spread among all men the salvation accomplished by Jesus Christ, and all the blessings that proceed therefrom, and to propagate them through the ages. Therefore, according to the will of its Author the Church must be alone in all lands in the perpetuity of time... The Church of Christ, therefore, is one and perpetual; whoever go apart (from it) wander away from the will and prescription of Christ the Lord and, leaving the way of salvation, digress to destruction. But He who founded the only Church, likewise founded it as one; namely, in such a way that whoever are to be in it, would be held bound together by the closest bonds, so much so that they form one people, one kingdom, one body: 'One body and one spirit, as you are called in one hope of your calling' [Eph. 4:4.... Agreement and union of minds are the necessary foundation of so great and so absolute a concord among men, from which a concurrence of wills and a similarity of action naturally arise... Therefore, to unite the minds of men, and to effect and preserve the union of their minds, granted the existence of Holy Writ, there was great need of a certain other principle... Therefore, Jesus Christ instituted in the Church a living, authentic, and likewise permanent magisterium, which He strengthened by His own power, taught by the Spirit of Truth, and confirmed by miracles. The precepts of its doctrines He willed and most seriously commanded to be accepted equally with His own... This, then, is without any doubt the office of the Church, to watch over Christian doctrine and to propagate it soundly and without corruption... But, just as heavenly doctrine was never left to the judgment and mind of individuals, but in the beginning was handed down by Jesus, then committed separately to that magisterium which has been mentioned, so, also, was the faculty of performing and administering the divine mysteries, together with the power of ruling and governing divinely, granted not to individuals [generally] of the Christian people but to certain of the elect... Therefore, Jesus Christ called upon all mortals, as many as were, and as many as were to be, to follow Him as their leader, and likewise their Savior, not only separately one by one, but also associated and united alike in fact and in mind; one in faith, end, and the means proper to that end, and subject to one and the same power... Therefore, the Church is a society divine in origin, supernatural in its end, and in the means which bring us closest to that end; but inasmuch as it unites with men, it is a human community. When the divine Founder decreed that the Church be one in faith, and in government, and in communion, He chose Peter and his successors in whom should be the principle and as it were the center of unity... But, order of bishops, as Christ commanded, is to be regarded as joined with Peter, if it be subject to Peter and obey him; otherwise it necessarily descends into a confused and disorderly crowd. For the proper preservation of faith and the unity of mutual participation, it is not enough to hold higher offices for the sake of honor, nor to have general supervision, but there is absolute need of true authority and a supreme authority which the entire community should obey" (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis cognitum", June 29, 1899)

"And since truly, as Augustine teaches, God has placed the doctrine of truth in the chair of unity, that unfortunate writer on the contrary leaves nothing undone with which to harass and attack in every way this See of Peter, in which See the Fathers have taught with unanimous agreement that that chair was established, in which alone unity might be preserved by all; from which the rights of the venerable communion emanate to all the others; and to which it is necessary that every church and all the faithful everywhere come. He has not hesitated to call fanatic the crowd which he saw breaking forth into these words at the sight of the Pontiff: 'He is the man who has received from God the keys of the kingdom of heaven with the power of binding and loosing, to whom no other bishop can be made equal, from whom these very bishops receive their authority as he himself received his supreme power from God; moreover, he is the vicar of Christ, the visible head of the Church, the supreme judge of the faithful.' Could, therefore (a thing horrible to say), that voice of Christ have been fanatical, which promised [Matt. 16:19] Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven with the power of binding and loosing; which keys Optatus Milevitanus, following Tertullian, did not hesitate to confess that Peter alone received to be communicated to the others? Or, are so many solemn decrees of the Popes and Councils repeated so many times to be called fanatic, by which those have been condemned who denied that in blessed Peter, the prince of the Apostles, his successor, the Roman Pontiff, was established by God as the visible head of the Church and the vicar of Jesus Christ, that to him has been transmitted full power of ruling the Church, and that true obedience is due him from all who are considered Christians; and that such is the power of the primacy, which he holds by divine right, that he is superior to other bishops not only by his rank of honor but by the plenitude of his supreme power? All the more must be deplored that blind and rash temerity of the man who was eager to renew in his unfortunate book errors which have been condemned by so many decrees, who has said and insinuated indiscriminately by many ambiguities, that every bishop, no less than the pope, was called by God to govern the Church, and was endowed with no less power; that Christ gave the same power Himself to all the apostles; and that whatever some people believe is obtained and granted only by the pope, that very thing, whether it depends on consecration or ecclesiastical jurisdiction, can be obtained just as well from any bishop; that Christ wished His Church to be governed in the manner of a republic; and that, indeed, for that government there is need of a head for the good of unity, but one who does not dare to interfere in the affairs of others (bishops) who rule at the same time; nevertheless, he has the privilege of exhorting those who are negligent to the fulfillment of their duties; that the power of the primacy is contained in this one prerogative, of making up for the negligence of others, of looking after the preservation of unity by encouragement and example; that the popes have no power in another diocese except in an extraordinary case; that the pope is the head because he holds his power and strength from the Church; that the Pontiffs have made it lawful for themselves to violate the rights of bishops, to reserve to themselves absolutions, dispensations, decisions, appeals, bestowal of benefices, in a word all other duties which he enumerates one by one and derides as unjust reservations and injurious to bishops." (Pope Pius VI, 1786 A.D.)

"That apostolic primacy which the Roman pontiff possesses as successor of Peter, the prince of the apostles, includes also the supreme power of teaching. This holy see has always maintained this, the constant custom of the Church demonstrates it, and the ecumenical councils, particularly those in which East and West met in the union of faith and charity, have declared it. So the fathers of the fourth council of Constantinople, following the footsteps of their predecessors, published this solemn profession of faith: The first condition of salvation is to maintain the rule of the true faith. And since that saying of our Lord Jesus Christ, You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, cannot fail of its effect, the words spoken are confirmed by their consequences. For in the apostolic see the Catholic religion has always been preserved unblemished, and sacred doctrine been held in honor. Since it is our earnest desire to be in no way separated from this faith and doctrine, we hope that we may deserve to remain in that one communion which the apostolic see preaches, for in it is the whole and true strength of the Christian religion. What is more, with the approval of the second council of Lyons, the Greeks made the following profession: 'The holy Roman church possesses the supreme and full primacy and principality over the whole Catholic Church. She truly and humbly acknowledges that she received this from the Lord himself in blessed Peter, the prince and chief of the apostles, whose successor the Roman pontiff is, together with the fullness of power. And since before all others she has the duty of defending the truth of the faith, so if any questions arise concerning the faith, it is by her judgment that they must be settled.' Then there is the definition of the council of Florence: 'The Roman pontiff is the true vicar of Christ, the head of the whole Church and the father and teacher of all Christians; and to him was committed in blessed Peter, by our Lord Jesus Christ, the full power of tending, ruling and governing the whole Church.' To satisfy this pastoral office, our predecessors strove unwearyingly that the saving teaching of Christ should be spread among all the peoples of the world; and with equal care they made sure that it should be kept pure and uncontaminated wherever it was received. It was for this reason that the bishops of the whole world, sometimes individually, sometimes gathered in synods, according to the long established custom of the churches and the pattern of ancient usage referred to this apostolic see those dangers especially which arose in matters concerning the faith. This was to ensure that any damage suffered by the faith should be repaired in that place above all where the faith can know no failing. The Roman pontiffs, too, as the circumstances of the time or the state of affairs suggested, sometimes by summoning ecumenical councils or consulting the opinion of the churches scattered throughout the world, sometimes by special synods, sometimes by taking advantage of other useful means afforded by divine providence, defined as doctrines to be held those things which, by God's help, they knew to be in keeping with sacred scripture and the apostolic traditions. For the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by his revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by his assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles. Indeed, their apostolic teaching was embraced by all the venerable fathers and reverenced and followed by all the holy orthodox doctors, for they knew very well that this see of St Peter always remains unblemished by any error, in accordance with the divine promise of our Lord and Savior to the prince of his disciples: I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren. This gift of truth and never-failing faith was therefore divinely conferred on Peter and his successors in this see so that they might discharge their exalted office for the salvation of all, and so that the whole flock of Christ might be kept away by them from the poisonous food of error and be nourished with the sustenance of heavenly doctrine. Thus the tendency to schism is removed and the whole Church is preserved in unity, and, resting on its foundation, can stand firm against the gates of hell. But since in this very age when the salutary effectiveness of the apostolic office is most especially needed, not a few are to be found who disparage its authority, we judge it absolutely necessary to affirm solemnly the prerogative which the only-begotten Son of God was pleased to attach to the supreme pastoral office. Therefore, faithfully adhering to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, to the glory of God our savior, for the exaltation of the Catholic religion and for the salvation of the Christian people, with the approval of the sacred council, we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman pontiff speaks Ex Cathedra, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole church, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed that his Church be endowed for defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. Therefore, such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the Church, irreformable. So then, should anyone, which God forbid, have the temerity to reject this definition of ours: let him be anathema." (First Vatican Council)

"And so, supported by the clear witness of holy scripture, and adhering to the manifest and explicit decrees both of our predecessors the Roman pontiffs and of general councils, we promulgate anew the definition of the ecumenical council of Florence, which must be believed by all faithful Christians, namely that the apostolic see and the Roman pontiff hold a world-wide primacy, and that the Roman pontiff is the successor of blessed Peter, the prince of the apostles, true vicar of Christ, head of the whole Church and father and teacher of all Christian people. To him, in blessed Peter, full power has been given by our Lord Jesus Christ to tend, rule and govern the universal church. All this is to be found in the acts of the ecumenical councils and the sacred canons. Wherefore we teach and declare that, by divine ordinance, the Roman church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other church, and that this jurisdictional power of the Roman pontiff is both episcopal and immediate. Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world. In this way, by unity with the Roman pontiff in communion and in profession of the same faith, the church of Christ becomes one flock under one supreme shepherd. This is the doctrine of Catholic truth, and no one can depart from it without endangering his faith and salvation. This power of the supreme pontiff by no means detracts from that ordinary and immediate power of episcopal jurisdiction, by which bishops, who have succeeded to the place of the apostles by appointment of the Holy Spirit, tend and govern individually the particular flocks which have been assigned to them. On the contrary, this power of theirs is asserted, supported and defended by the supreme and universal pastor; for St Gregory the Great says: 'My honor is the honor of the whole church. My honor is the steadfast strength of my brethren. Then do I receive true honor, when it is denied to none of those to whom honor is due.' Furthermore, it follows from that supreme power which the Roman pontiff has in governing the whole Church, that he has the right, in the performance of this office of his, to communicate freely with the pastors and flocks of the entire Church, so that they may be taught and guided by him in the way of salvation. And therefore we condemn and reject the opinions of those who hold that this communication of the supreme head with pastors and flocks may be lawfully obstructed; or that it should be dependent on the civil power, which leads them to maintain that what is determined by the apostolic see or by its authority concerning the government of the Church, has no force or effect unless it is confirmed by the agreement of the civil authority. Since the Roman pontiff, by the divine right of the apostolic primacy, governs the whole Church, we likewise teach and declare that he is the supreme judge of the faithful, and that in all cases which fall under ecclesiastical jurisdiction recourse may be had to his judgment. The sentence of the apostolic see (than which there is no higher authority) is not subject to revision by anyone, nor may anyone lawfully pass judgment thereupon. And so they stray from the genuine path of truth who maintain that it is lawful to appeal from the judgments of the Roman pontiffs to an ecumenical council as if this were an authority superior to the Roman pontiff. So, then, if anyone says that the Roman pontiff has merely an office of supervision and guidance, and not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole Church, and this not only in matters of faith and morals, but also in those which concern the discipline and government of the Church dispersed throughout the whole world; or that he has only the principal part, but not the absolute fullness, of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate both over all and each of the churches and over all and each of the pastors and faithful: let him be anathema." (First Vatican Council)

Also See: All Should Agree With the Holy See | The Church is Not a Democracy | The Church Rests on St. Peter | Infallibility | Necessity of a Teaching Authority | Necessity of Union With the Roman Pontiff | Obedience / Disobedience / Assent | The Papacy is Indestructible / Perpetual | Papal Supremacy / Councils | Preservation of Truth / Unity | Those Who Wander From the Apostolic See Wander From the Church | Unlawful to Make Recourse Against the Roman Pontiff to an Ecumenical Council | The Visible Church | Vatican Facts | Pope / Papacy (Topical Scripture)

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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Papal Supremacy / Councils

Also See: The Pope (Topic Page)

"Can. 1372 A person who makes recourse against an act of the Roman Pontiff to an Ecumenical Council or the College of Bishops is to be punished with a censure." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

Error CONDEMNED by Pope Pius IX in the Syllabus of Errors: "There is nothing to prevent the decree of a general council, or the act of all peoples, from transferring the supreme pontificate from the bishop and city of Rome to another bishop and another city." (Pope Pius IX, This proposition was condemned in the Syllabus of Errors, Dec. 8, 1864 A.D.)

"Can. 341 §1 The decrees of an ecumenical council do not have obligatory force unless they have been approved by the Roman Pontiff together with the council fathers, confirmed by him, and promulgated at his order. §2 If they are to have binding force, the same confirmation and promulgation is required for decrees which the College of Bishops issues by truly collegial actions in another manner introduced or freely accepted by the Roman Pontiff." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 338 §1 It is the prerogative of the Roman Pontiff alone to summon an Ecumenical Council, to preside over it personally or through others, to transfer, suspend or dissolve the Council, and to approve its decrees. §2 It is also the prerogative of the Roman Pontiff to determine the matters to be dealt with in the Council, and to establish the order to be observed. The Fathers of the Council may add other matters to those proposed by the Roman Pontiff, but these must be approved by the Roman Pontiff." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"...it is clearly established that the Roman Pontiff alone, possessing as it were authority over all Councils, has full right and power of proclaiming Councils, or transferring and dissolving them, not only according to the testimony of Sacred Scripture, from the words of the holy Fathers and even of other Roman Pontiffs, of our predecessors, and from the decrees of the holy canons, but also from the particular acknowledgment of these same Councils." (Lateran Council V, 1516 A.D.)

"The proposition stating that any knowledge whatsoever of ecclesiastical history is sufficient to allow anyone to assert that the convocation of a national council is one of the canonical ways by which controversies in regard to religion may be ended in the Church of the respective nations; if understood to mean that controversies in regard to faith or morals which have arisen in a Church can be ended by an irrefutable decision made in a national council; as if freedom from error in questions of faith and morals belonged to a national council, [is condemned as] schismatic, heretical." (Errors of the Synod of Pistoia, Condemned in the Constitution "Auctorem fidei," Aug. 28, 1794 A.D.)

"And since the Roman Pontiff is at the head of the universal Church by the divine right of apostolic primacy, We teach and declare also that he is the supreme judge of the faithful, and that in all cases pertaining to ecclesiastical examination recourse can be had to his judgment; moreover, that the judgment of the Apostolic See, whose authority is not surpassed, is to be disclaimed by no one, nor is anyone permitted to pass judgment on its judgment. Therefore, they stray from the straight path of truth who affirm that it is permitted to appeal from the judgments of the Roman Pontiffs to an ecumenical Council, as to an authority higher than the Roman Pontiff." (Vatican Council I, 1870 A.D.)

"It has ever been unquestionably the office of the Roman Pontiffs to ratify or to reject the decrees of Councils. Leo the great rescinded the acts of the Conciliabulum of Ephesus. Damasus rejected those of Rimini, and Hadrian I those of Constantinople. The 28th Canon of the Council of Chalcedon, by the very fact that it lacks the assent and approval of the Apostolic See, is admitted by all to be worthless. Rightly, therefore, has Leo X laid down in the 5th Council of Lateran 'that the Roman Pontiff alone, as having authority over all Councils, has full jurisdiction and power to summon, to transfer, to dissolve Councils, as is clear, not only from the testimony of Holy Writ, from the teaching of the Fathers and of the Roman Pontiffs, and from the decrees of the sacred canons, but from the teaching of the very Councils themselves.' Indeed, Holy Writ attests that the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven were given to Peter alone, and that the power of binding and loosening was granted to the Apostles and to Peter; but there is nothing to show that the Apostles received supreme power without Peter, and against Peter. Such power they certainly did not receive from Jesus Christ. Wherefore, in the decree of the [First] 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 (Sess. iv., cap. 3)." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896)

Also See: All Should Agree With the Holy See | The Church is Not a Democracy | The Church Rests on St. Peter | Infallibility | Necessity of Union With the Roman Pontiff | Obedience / Disobedience / Assent | The Papacy is Indestructible / Perpetual | Papal Primacy | Preservation of Truth / Unity | Unlawful to Make Recourse Against the Roman Pontiff to an Ecumenical Council | Vatican Facts | Catholic Basics

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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Misc.

Also See: The Pope (Topic Page)

"For its authority, although given to man, is not human but divine, in accordance with the words of our Lord to Peter (MT 16:18)" (Pope Boniface VIII)

"For though prelates may sometimes be of different merits, the rights of sees, nevertheless are permanent." (Pope St. Leo I the Great, Doctor of the Church, circa 453 A.D.)

"Moreover, he who is set over the whole flock must have authority, not only over the sheep dispersed throughout the Church, but also when they are assembled together. Do the sheep when they are all assembled together rule and guide the shepherd?" (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896)

"Whenever a question of faith is in dispute, I think, that all our brethren and fellow bishops ought to refer the matter to none other than Peter, as being the source of their name and honor, against whose authority neither Jerome nor Augustine nor any of the holy doctors defended their opinion." (Decretal XXIV, Q1, canon Quoties, as quoted by St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church)

"This power was committed specially to Peter, that we might thereby be invited to unity. For He therefore appointed him the head of the Apostles, that the Church might have one principal Vicar of Christ, to whom the different members of the Church should have recourse, if ever they should have dissensions among them. But if there were many heads in the Church, the bond of unity would be broken." (Glossa)

"Nor does it beget any confusion in the administration that Christians are bound to obey a twofold authority. We are prohibited in the first place by Divine Wisdom from entertaining any such thought, since this form of government was constituted by the counsel of God Himself. In the second place we must note that the due order of things and their mutual relations are disturbed if there be a twofold magistracy of the same rank set over a people, neither of which is amenable to the other. But the authority of the Roman Pontiff is supreme, universal, independent; that of the bishops limited, and dependent. 'It is not congruous that two superiors with equal authority should be placed over the same flock; but that two, one of whom is higher than the other, should be placed over the same people is not incongruous. Thus the parish priest, the bishop, and the Pope, are placed immediately over the same people' (St. Thomas in iv Sent, dist. xvii., a. 4, ad q. 4, ad 3)." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896)

"After (all these) prophetic and evangelical and apostolic writings (which we have set forth above), on which the Catholic Church by the grace of God is founded, we have thought this (fact) also ought to be published, namely that, although the universal Catholic Church spread throughout the world has the one marriage of Christ, nevertheless the holy Roman Church has not been preferred to the other churches by reason of synodical decrees, but she has held the primacy by the evangelical voice of the Lord and Savior saying: Thou art Peter, and upon 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 upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven [Matt. 16:18 f.]. There is added also the association of the most blessed Paul the Apostle, the vessel of election, who not at a different time, as the heretics say, but at the one time, on one and the same day, while contending for the prize together with Peter was crowned with a glorious death under Caesar Nero in the City of Rome; and equally have they consecrated the above-mentioned Church of Rome to Christ the Lord and have raised it above all other cities in the whole world by their presence and their venerable triumph. Accordingly the see of Peter the Apostle of the Church of Rome is first, having neither spot, nor wrinkle, nor anything of this kind [Eph. 5:27]. But the second see at Alexandria was consecrated in the name of blessed Peter by Mark his disciple and evangelist ...but the third in honor is considered the see of the most blessed Apostle Peter at Antioch." (Pope St. Gelasius I, 495 A.D.)

Also See: All Should Agree With the Holy See | The Church is Not a Democracy | The Church Rests on St. Peter | Necessity of a Teaching Authority | Necessity of Union With the Roman Pontiff | Obedience / Disobedience / Assent | The Papacy is Indestructible / Perpetual | Preservation of Truth / Unity | The Visible Church | Vatican Facts

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