Sunday, October 30, 2005

Gerry Matatics Declares Himself a Sedevacantist

According to an e-mail sent on 31 July 2005 (which Matatics is supposed to make public and expand upon):

I believe, and publicly teach, that the Catholic Church has always infallibly taught that because heretics are not members of the Catholic Church, they cannot validly hold office in the Church, according to divine law, and that, should they seem to hold such offices, the believing Catholic must conclude that their election to and possession of such offices is null and void. This would include, not only the manifest heretics John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II, but also the manifest heretic and present illicit and invalid occupant of the See of Peter, Benedict XVI, who has the further handicap (unlike his immediate four predecessors) of not even having been validly consecrated a bishop, which, in addition to all other considerations, makes it impossible for him to therefore function as Bishop of Rome.


Sedevacantism means literally, "the seat is empty" - referring to the papacy.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Did John Wesley, the Founder of Methodism, Deny "Faith Alone" ("Sola Fide")? (with Edwin Tait)

From earlier combox discussions (my first remark below is dated 10-9-05). Edwin Tait is a traditional Anglican with a Wesleyan background, who just completed his requirements for a Ph.D. in Church history. His words will be in green. John Wesley's will be in blue. I was initially responding to remarks from someone who had stated that faith alone (sola fide) was essential to any definition of a Christian.


That's not the point of Luther's teaching (whether or not he ever used this analogy--it looks as if he didn't, though he did compare human nature to a dunghill, as I believe Dave has shown). Of course Luther thought that real transformation took place. But he thought that this was always imperfect and so could not in any sense be the basis for our standing before God.

It's completely irrelevant and unfair to accuse Luther of not believing in sanctification. Practically speaking, what he expected from Christians was not that different from what the Catholic Church expected (I'm not saying that there were no differences). The difference lay in how you deal with falling short. And even there the difference was not as great as you might think. Repent, confess your sins, receive the Eucharist--both sides agreed that this was what should be done and in this order.

If sola fide defines a Christian, then John Wesley and Methodists, the whole Wesleyan tradition, and many traditional Anglicans are not Christians.You may be comfortable with a conception of Christianity which excludes folks like John Wesley, C.S. Lewis, and Dorothy Sayers; I am not. And I dare say that most Protestants and even probably a majority of Calvinists, would agree.

Whether or not Wesley denied sola fide depends on how you define sola fide. I think Wesley himself (at least for much of his career) would be horrified to hear that he didn't believe in sola fide. Certainly in the years after his "heartwarming" at Aldersgate Street he claimed to believe in sola fide. But even then his view was somewhat different from both Lutheran and Reformed versions. And later in life (partly because of fierce controversies with Calvinists) he modified his earlier views and gave considerably more place to good works. My wife is far more of a Wesley expert than I am. But I think that right to the end of his life Wesley would claim that he did believe in sola fide. Whether his "sola fide" is heretical from a Catholic point of view I'm not sure. And Calvinists seem rather divided as to whether it passes muster from their point of view. Generally I think the hardline folks see it as not as bad as "Rome's" view but a dangerous move in that direction.

From my paper: Reflections on Justification:

With regard to the condition of salvation, it may be remembered that I allow, not only faith, but likewise holiness or universal obedience, to be the ordinary condition of final salvation . . . At what time soever faith is given, holiness commences in the soul. For that instant `the love of God' (which is the source of holiness) `is shed abroad in the heart'. (A Farther Appeal, 1745, Works, London: 1831, VIII, 68 ff.)

Suffer me to warn you of another silly, unmeaning word: Do not say, 'I can do nothing'. If so, you know nothing of Christ; then you have no faith: For if you have, if you believe, then you `can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth you'. You can love him and keep his Commandments. (A Blow at the Root, 1762, Works, X, 369)

1. God works in us - therefore man can work. Prevenient grace is accorded to all. 2. God works in you - therefore you must work. You must work together with Him, or He will cease Working. (Working Out Our Own Salvation, 1788, Works, VI, 511 ff.)

Wesley himself claimed to teach nothing but justification by faith. But he was not satisfied, like the pietists before him. with bringing sanctification and justification into the closest possible relation, after the Calvinist formula he was fond of recalling. More penetrating than any of his predecessors, he criticised Luther's opposition of faith to works as a sophistry. As early as the year 1739, when he started on his new course of action, he denounced what he called Luther's 'mania of solifideism'. Luther's commentary on the epistle to the Galatians, with its unbalanced depreciation of the divine Law, was in his view more likely to be pernicious than beneficial in its results. His reason was that the holiness of Christ should by no means be opposed to the holiness accessible to the Christian, but, rather, be represented as its unique source. Far from admitting, therefore, that the epistle of St. James deserved to be called an 'epistle of straw' [Luther's phrase], he called it 'the great antidote Against the poison' of a justification which required no moral change in the Christian . . .'

Wesley . . . taught more and more clearly that since the great effect of conversion was the regeneration by grace of the human will, the human will ought to work for its own salvation, and make daily progress, otherwise, even if the conversion was real in the beginning, it would become ineffective, through want of perseverance.

(Louis Bouyer, The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism, translated by A.V. Littledale, London: Harvill Press, 1956, 221-222)
Note that the opinions date from throughout his long ministry, so it doesn't look like much changed in any fundamental sense, though I'm sure Wesley's thought developed.

The first three citations above were retrieved from the book: Wesley and Sanctification, by Harald Lindstrom (Lutheran), Grand Rapids, MI: Francis Asbury Press (division of Zondervan), 1980.

There is much more data in that book, if someone wants to challenge me on this. In any event, I highly doubt that Calvinist-type anti-Catholics will now start writing polemical tracts against Methodists and Wesleyans, even though their interior logic forces them to concede that they aren't Christians (if they understand the information I provided above). That "theological righteous indignation" is reserved only for the Catholic Church.

More on Wesley's denial of "faith alone":

4. Nor, lastly, is he distinguished by laying the whole stress of religion on any single part of it. If you say, "Yes, he is; for he thinks 'we are saved by faith alone:'" I answer, You do not understand the terms. By salvation he means holiness of heart and life. And this he affirms to spring from true faith alone. Can even a nominal Christian deny it? Is this placing a part of religion for the whole? "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid! Yea, we establish the law." We do not place the whole of religion (as too many do, God knoweth) either in doing no harm, or in doing good, or in using the ordinances of God. No, not in all of them together; wherein we know by experience a man may labour many years, and at the end have no religion at all, no more than he had at the beginning. Much less in any one of these; or, it may be, in a scrap of one of them: Like her who fancies herself a virtuous woman, only because she is not a prostitute; or him who dreams he is an honest man, merely because he does not rob or steal. May the Lord God of my fathers preserve me from such a poor, starved religion as this! Were this the mark of a Methodist, I would sooner choose to be a sincere Jew, Turk, or Pagan.

5. "What then is the mark? Who is a Methodist, according to your own account?" I answer: A Methodist is one who has "the love of God shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost given unto him;" one who "loves the Lord his God with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his mind, and with all his strength. God is the joy of his heart, and the desire of his soul; which is constantly crying out, "Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee! My God and my all! Thou art the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever!"

(Wesley, The Character of a Methodist, date not given; emphasis added)

Now, one will note that Wesley often states that he accepted "justification by faith alone," but he defines it differently than Luther, Calvin, Lutherans, Reformed, and Baptists do. Far as I can tell, he views it much as a Catholic would: faith and works, justification and sanctification, conversion and holiness are in close organic harmony with each other, rather than formally separated, with works playing no part whatsoever in salvation.

Many of Wesley's statements rule out the latter interpretation. His views of both justification and sanctification differ from the standard Reformed / Baptist / Lutheran understanding of these notions and categories.

Here is a fascinating overview of John Wesley, if anyone's interested: "John Wesley at 300: the man, his times and his faith," by Victor Shepherd. Example:

Of all the misunderstandings that falsify Wesley and his spiritual descendants, none is more defamatory than the assumption that the Methodist tradition doesn’t think. While it is readily acknowledged that the Lutheran, Reformed, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox families within the church catholic think and have always thought, Methodism, it is sometimes said, merely emotes.

Wesley contradicts this. Having insisted that his lay preachers study five hours per
day, he studied more himself. He authored grammar textbooks in seven of the eight foreign languages he knew.

He deplored as narrow, ignorant and foolish the suggestion that preachers need read only one book. Such fanaticism meant that reading only the Bible guaranteed misreading it. Those who complained of having "no taste for reading" he rebuked on the spot: "Contract a taste for it by use, or return to your trade" — and watched more than a few preachers move back to farm, shop or mine.

His reading was as broad as it was deep. No area of intellectual endeavour escaped him. All his life he kept abreast of contemporary explorations in natural science. Schooled in classical philosophy at Oxford, he probed the contemporary empiricist thinking of John Locke. Aware that history is a theatre both of God’s activity and of the church’s response, he wrote a world history.
As the passage you quote from The Character of a Methodist shows, Wesley did claim to believe in salvation by "faith alone." That was my only point. What he meant by it was definitely different from what classical Protestantism meant by it, and while I think it is somewhat different from the Catholic position, it's not radically so. (Wesley would reject any language of "merit," but how far that's just a difference of terminology I'm not sure. He would certainly reject such things as indulgences, with the implication that you can in some sense have "extra" merit. And Wesley didn't believe in Purgatory, although the modern Methodist theologian Jerry Walls has argued that Wesley's theology would harmonize well with the doctrine of Purgatory.)

As I understand it, Wesley's position was basically this: Human beings cannot save themselves by their own merits, but must accept their sinfulness and throw themselves on the mercy of God in faith. Once they do this, their past sins are forgiven and they are given the strength to lead a new life. But for final justification, a life of holiness and obedience is required. God will forgive us whenever we fall, if we repent and turn back to Him. (Wesley also distinguished between "sins properly so-called" and "faults," which amounts to a distinction between mortal and venial sin though he didn't use the term.) I believe that Wesley did at times speak of the imputation of Christ's righteousness to us, but in the texts that I'm familiar with he seems to be avoiding the term, and speaks instead of our sins not being imputed.

All of this is very compatible with Catholicism, and seems miles away from classical Protestantism. But then we have the fact that Wesley worked side by side with evangelical Calvinists for much of his career, and while they frequently quarreled, they recognized each other as brothers in Christ, at least most of the time. Relations soured after 1770, when Wesley repeated an earlier announcement (from 1744!) that he had previously "leaned too much toward Calvinism," and affirmed the value of preparation for grace (that people should be told to repent and do good works in preparation for justification).

That's mostly what I had in mind in saying that his position developed. Many of his Calvinist colleagues did accuse him at that point of denying sola fide. But in his earlier years most of them didn't seem to think that he was teaching a radically different doctrine of salvation, although they thought he was wrong on predestination. Since I don't think these guys were idiots, I'm hesitant to say outright that Wesley "didn't believe in sola fide." That was my point.

My own view, as expressed in my blog post on justification a couple of months ago, is that the center of disagreement really lies elsewhere than it has usually been placed. The point I made on my blog was that all evangelical Protestants agree over against Catholicism that saving faith is something qualitatively different from unformed faith. Faith in the soteriological sense necessarily involves a disposition that will lead one to live a holy life. This is an important difference, because it affects how you preach the Gospel. Do you assume that your hearers have faith, and exhort them to works of charity; or do you tell them that if they are not living lives of holiness then they don't have faith at all? The latter is what Wesley would do, and that is why he was able to cooperate (up to a point, at least) with evangelical Protestants who in many respects had a radically different soteriology.

At the same time, Wesley was able to appreciate Catholic piety far more than other Protestants, precisely because what he looked for was evidence of living faith rather than an adherence to a particular understanding of imputation, etc. With regard to soteriology Methodism, far more than Anglicanism, has a potential to be a bridge church between Catholicism and Protestantism. Anglicanism includes several radically different soteriologies. But Wesley has a coherent soteriology which open-minded people among both classical Protestants and Catholics can recognize as essentially sound.

Or they can just condemn it, which many conservative Calvinists do with great relish.

Excellent commentary, Edwin. Thanks! While his fellow Protestant Calvinists go after Wesley "with great relish," I will continue having immense respect for him. If the Calvinists have more in common with his theology than I do, they (the ones who trash him) sure aren't acting like it, are they?

I don't think they do have more in common with Wesley than you do. I think that Wesley had a lot in common with Catholicism as well--indeed, he recognized this to some extent. But he had strong prejudices (largely political) against Catholicism as a system. And it's only fair to say that Catholics of that era weren't terribly ecumenical themselves! Nowadays, I think an evangelically minded Catholic like yourself can recognize a lot more in common with Wesley than a lot of conservative Calvinists can.

The main common front, really, was against the religion of respectability in 18th-century England which identified Christianity with what evangelicals of that era liked to call "mere morality." At least for a while, Wesley and the Calvinists could cooperate on that ground. But things did go sour at the end. And modern Calvinists are particularly anti-Arminian because the Arminians took over most of Protestantism in the 19th century. So those who remain faithful to hardline Calvinism see Arminianism as a particularly pernicious threat, and Wesley is one of the figures who got it all going. (Charles Finney is another of their favorite villains, though I'm not a particularly big fan of Finney myself.)

It seems to me that Wesley in relation to the zeitgeist and established religion in England is a lot like Kierkegaard's relation to Danish Lutheranism. It's a reform and (in the very best sense) "radical" spirit, which is why I admire these two men so much. Heaven knows we Catholics need men like that too. I think that John Paul II was one of them, as is the current pope.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Perpetual Virginity of Mary (Discussion Continued) / Open Forum

I created this so that the discussion on this topic from the first post and comments section can continue on the front page of my blog. Feel free to introduce other topics as well (especially our Protestant friends).

Monday, October 17, 2005

Has the Clergy Sexual Scandal in the US Caused a Huge Drop or "Crisis" in Vocations?

On the ludicrous anti-Catholic discussion board, "Catholic Reformation," one of the outstanding luminaries there, who goes by the nickname "Tan2Day," posted a typically nasty, slanderous, intellectually vacant post entitled: Gross Stupidity ~ Or A Clever Wolf Lying? Choose... Here it is, in its entirety:


In his latest "Word from Rome" column, John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter asks an obvious question, and gets an astonishing answer from Bishop William Skylstad, the president of the US bishops' conference:

Question: " Has the sexual abuse crisis in the United States taken a toll on vocations to the priesthood? "

Skylstad Answer: "My impression is that it hasn't. Times of challenge do not necessarily produce a negative atmosphere in terms of people's response to the gospel and to the church. I think people tend to look at the church and what it can become."

Talk about one of either two things...

#1 - The Presiding President of the USCCB is utterly CLUELESS and should be removed for gross stupidity.

#2 - The Presiding President of the USCCB is capable of looking your right in the eyes, and ON THE RECORD utter a smooth flat out lie, knowing that you know he is lying, but because of his ego and self importance he KNOWS that no one will call him on his lie.

So, which is it?

Lu 6:39

And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?

Assuming "Tan" understands the meaning of English words and how English grammar works (given the uniformly low quality of this board, such an assumption is by no means a given), then this is an accusation towards a prominent bishop of either "gross stupidity" or wicked lying, like a "clever wolf [in sheep's clothing?]" with regard to the number of vocations. There is a bit of ambiguity here, however, because one is not sure whether "Tan" has in mind vocations in the US only (i.e., the scandal's effect in the US in particular, zeroing in on vocations, which is what was the subject matter of the question), or vocations in in the entire world (i.e., in the Catholic Church as a whole).

Nor are we sure whether "Tan's" hidden premise is that the scandal is the main cause of a "crisis" or drop in vocations (whether here or everywhere). Tan appears to assume that it is utterly obvious that there is a huge drop in vocations, and that the scandal was the primary cause of this, and that for anyone to deny this (an "astonishing" thing) is to be guilty of clueless stupidity or nefarious lying.

In any event, the subject matter is vocations to the priesthood in particular. For those unfamiliar with the term vocation, it means (in a Catholic context) the number of new seminarians, who will be priests, and/or the number of new ordinations; "vocation" means calling or life's-work. My own vocation is as an apologist.

Subsequent comments share the same lack of clearness as to exactly what is being asserted or denied. For example, moderator "Sid2" writes:

When you can't accept the reality, deny, deny, deny

Tan:I believe that the RCC is sorta like an alcoholic:. . . if they don't admit that they have a problem, then they really don't. When all else fails, keep denying.

Okay. What "reality" are we denying, though? "midnightbirdgirl" (don't you love the nicknames on this board?) adds: "I think they are blantanly [sic] lying, because they are cornered."

Bishop William Skylstad: is he the one who is "grossly stupid" or a "liar" with regard to vocations to the priesthood, or is it rather, the bigoted ignoramuses of the anti-Catholic "Catholic Reformation" board who are more accurately characterized in such terms when they make such wild, unsubstantiated charges?
So there we have the charge. But there is a simple way to determine whether it is valid or not. We have statistics, after all, as to the numbers of vocations.

For example, Dean R. Hoge, a professor of sociology at Catholic University; one of the leading sociologists of religion, has an article online entitled "Facts and figures: The state of the priesthood." He notes the obvious fact that vocations have been decreasing in America for some time now, while they are increasing rapidly elsewhere:

Africa and Asia, on the other hand, have seen large increases in priests—55 percent and 60 percent, respectively—as well as in Church membership. In these regions the number of Catholics has grown 87 percent and 51 percent, respectively. Central America, the Caribbean, and South America haven't been far behind.

Put plainly, the wealthy Western nations are losing priests, while virtually all of the rest of the world is gaining them, though not always fast enough.

Now, does he think this is a result of the recent sexual scandal? No (in fact, he doesn't even mention that in the course of his rather lengthy article which appeared only this past summer):

The number of U.S. ordinations has ranged between 440 and 540 annually in recent
years, but with a long-term gradual decline. (emphasis added)
What are the actual figures he gives, in a convenient chart:

Actual increase or decrease of priests from 1985-2001 is 0% Unfortunately for our purposes,. the chart doesn't extend to the period after the scandal, yet we can see that trends of increasing or decreasing vocations are longstanding and differ widely according to region. The United States had a net loss in priests of 15% in this period. Obviously, that was taking place prior to the scandal and thus has different causes. But Europe and Australia also showed losses of 11% and 14%. By contrast, the numbers in South America and Central America increased by 22% and 41%, and we saw above the great gains in Africa and Asia.

Another source for suchg statistics is CARA (Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate - "Putting social science research at the service of the Church since 1964." This web page states:

CARA gets many inquiries from Church agencies and the media about the numbers of vocations, seminary enrollments, and priests and vowed religious. Below are
comparative statistics from 1965.
Here again we see a reduction of priests in the US, from 58,632 in 1965 to 42,528 in 1995, or a 28% drop. But is this due to the sexual scandal? Again, clearly not, since the figures for the drop in previous ten-year increments are just as great or greater than the recent drop in the last three-five years:

1975: 58,909
1985: 57,317
1995: 49,054
2000: 45,699
2005: 42,528

The reduction from 1985-1995 was 8,263, or 14%, whereas from 1995 to 2005 it was 6526 (13%). So, far from there being a "crisis" - even restructing the survey to the US alone - we see that the rate of decrease has not markedly changed at all, and has actually lessened. There is still a decrease, yes, but since it is longterm it can't possibly be blamed on the sexual scandal alone. There are many many reasons for it.

Furthermore, if we compare the decrease from 1995-2000 and 2000-2005, we find that it is the same: 7%. Obviously, then, if the scandal was causing some huge difference or "crisis" it isn't seen in these figures. Yet our anti-Catholic friend dogmatically states that Bishop William Skylstad is guilty of "gross stupidity" or of uttering a "smooth flat out lie" for making this point. That's fascinating, isn't it, since the actual hard data shows that he was exactly right.

Priestly ordinations per year show even less of any indication of a present crisis above and beyond the longterm losses of 40 years:

1985: 533
1995: 511 (4% loss over ten years)
2000: 442 (14% loss over five years)
2005: 454 (3% gain over five years)

This data is literally a counter-proof, since we see a net gain in the last five years, even though there was a net loss over the previous ten. Likewise, with the numbers of graduate-level seminarians:

1995: 3,172
2000: 3,474
2005: 3,308 (4% increase in ten years)

How can this be a vocations crisis, if we have 4% more seminarians this year than we had in 1995? Even if one figures for the past five years only, we see only a 5% decrease, hardly a "crisis" in any sense of that word. It is almost statistically insignificant.

If anything, the real crisis is in the ranks of women religious (where there has been no massive reporting of any sexual scandal):

1965: 179,954
1975: 135,225
1985: 115,386
1995: 90,809
2000: 79,814
2005: 68,634 (62% reduction in 40 years; 24% in the last ten)

Again, obviously, other factors are in play; notably a loss of faith among these women, as liberalism shot through their ranks, destroying morale and orthodox faith. Even here, the greater losses were from 1965-1975, when it was 25%, than in the last ten. By contrast, reduction in priests in 40 years was 28%, and 13% in the last ten, both much lower than losses of religious sisters. So why isn't "Tan2Day" writing papers about nuns, rather than priests? And that has very little to do with pedophilia, molestation, and so forth (though there are some sexual variables which come into play).

If we look at the whole world, no crisis at all is occurring in vocations, since the total has increased from 404,783 in 1975 to 405,450 in 2004. Graduate-level seminarians have increased by 66% from 1980-2000: from 33,731 to 55,968.

According to the appropriately-titled article, "Priest Vocation Crisis? Yea Right!," we even see marked increases in certain US dioceses:
. . . such as, in the dioceses of Arlington (VA), Denver (C0), Philadelphia (PA), Lincoln (NEB), and Peoria (ILL). Father James Gould, vocation direct for Arlington Va., said, “ that their problem is that they don't have enough beds for all the priests that they are ordaining.” (about 23 in the past 2 years) The diocese of Lincoln with a population of just 84,000 Catholics has 45 seminarians . . .

Why are some dioceses in the United States and many others around the world
experiencing a springtime in vocations? The answer is those dioceses which promote loyalty to the pope and the magisterial teaching of the Church are fulfilling the needs of young men seeking the priesthood. The candidates today see the errors of the 1960’s and 70’s and do not want to become politically correct priests which stand for nothing and fall for everything. Orthodox diocese have been mobilizing priests and lay people to call young men to the religious life despite the opposition of those who rail against a male, celibate priesthood. So while dioceses infected with heresy cry and make lame excuses because the young are not buying their agenda, orthodox bishops and vocation directors have been cooperating with the Holy Spirit and getting results!

If anyone, then, is guilty of "gross stupidity" or "smooth flat-out lie," it is "Tan2Day," the misinformed author of the article here critiqued. To use his words, "which is it?" Perhaps the next time he will check the facts, as I did, before he launches into his abysmally ignorant anti-Catholic jeremiads.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Reflections on the Papacy: Papal Infallibility and Concluding Postscripts

[From the 1994 early draft version of my book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism; thus concludes my effort to bring all portions of the first draft (that don't appear in my paperback book) online. It's all there now, except for a very few sections that I have edited out, due to hindsight or change of mind, over the last eleven years]

"P" = Protestant

1. The Church's Developing Understanding of Infallibility
A. Papal Primacy and the Universal Church (Catholic Statement)

"We believe that the New Testament is given to us not as a finished body of doctrine but as an expression of the developing faith and institutionalization of the church in the first century.

"In many respects the New Testament and the doctrines it contains are complemented by subsequent developments in the faith and life of the church. For example, the statements of faith in the early creeds, though they are in conformity with Scripture, go beyond the words and thought-patterns of scripture. The church itself, moreover, had to take responsibility for the selection of the canonical books, no list of which appears in the scriptures themselves. Similarly, the church had to specify its sacramental life and to structure its ministry to meet the requirements and opportunities of the post-apostolic period.

"As Roman Catholics we are convinced that the papal and episcopal form of Ministry, as it concretely evolved, is a divinely-willed sequel to the functions exercised respectively by Peter and the other apostles according to various New Testament traditions." (1)

B. Kilian McDonnell

"There are human factors which contributed to the evolution of the doctrine of papal primacy. There was a widespread conviction in antiquity that Rome was accorded special honor because it was the first city of the empire . . .

"The border between what is of divine will and what is of man's making cannot be defined . . . The presence of political facts and the operation of human laws of social organization do not postulate the absence of divine intent . . .

"The church's judgment on the contents of the canon is not based on any precise evidence coming from the historical Jesus. If a `special direct intervention' of God is seen in the formation of the canon, . . . could not the same `special divine intervention' account for the emergence of the Petrine office, for which there is some evidence in the leadership role assigned to Peter in the New Testament witness . . ." (2)

C. Jeffrey Mirus
"There seems to be a demand to see the thirteenth century papacy in the first and second centuries, before the Catholic claim can be accepted. But such a view is nonsensical. The conditions of the declining Roman Empire and the early, scattered Christian communities were conditions that made for isolation and a painful sort of local self-reliance. We would not expect to see a continuous stream of fully-developed papal administrative activity in the centuries of minority and persecution. Likewise, we would expect to find no pomp and glory in episcopal or papal carriage until Christianity became legal with the conversion of Constantine in the early fourth century. Thus, when Protestant and secular historians speak of the papacy being formed in the fourth and fifth centuries, they superficially refer only to its external estate.

"For as more and more evidence from the early years is uncovered, the record booms out the reality of papal primacy with greater and greater intensity. The bishops of Rome were continuous, and their authority was taken for granted." (14:145)

D. Robert Hugh Benson

"By divine guidance St. Peter himself sought the city and established his See just where he would gain all the aid that natural and human surroundings could give him for the swift and sure development of the final supremacy of his Chair. This supremacy is no more the result of mere worldly circumstances than the healthy growth of a tree is the result of the mere soil in which its seed once found a congenial home. If the authority on the one hand, and the seed on the other, had not existed, neither the Chair of Peter nor the tree would have emerged.

"It was not, then, until the head had been fully established as supreme over the body that men had eyes to see how it had been so ordained and indicated from the beginning. After it had come to pass it was seen to have been inevitable. All this is paralleled, of course, by the ordinary course of affairs. Laws of nature, as well as laws of grace, act quite apart from man's perception or appreciation of them; and it is not until the law is recognized that its significance and inevitability, its illustrations and effects, are intelligibly recognized either." (6:109)

E. John Henry Cardinal Newman
"Whether communion with the Pope was necessary for Catholicity would not and could not be debated till a suspension of that communion had actually occurred . . . It is a less difficulty that the Papal supremacy was not formally acknowledged in the second century, than that there was no formal acknowledgment on the part of the Church of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity till the fourth. No doctrine is defined till it is violated . . .

"Moreover, an international bond and a common authority could not be consolidated . . . while persecutions lasted. If the Imperial Power checked the development of Councils, it availed also for keeping back the power of the Papacy. The Creed, the Canon, in like manner, both remained undefined . . . All began to form, as soon as the Empire relaxed its tyrannous oppression of the Church. And as it was natural that her monarchical power should display itself when the Empire became Christian, so was it natural also that further developments of that power should take place when that Empire fell. Moreover, when the power of the Holy See began to exert itself, disturbance and collision would be the necessary consequence . . . St. Paul had to plead, nay, to strive for his apostolic authority, and enjoined St. Timothy, as Bishop of Ephesus, to let no man despise him . . . It was natural that Polycrates should oppose St. Victor; and natural too that St. Cyprian should both extol the See of St. Peter, yet resist it when he thought it went beyond its province . . .

"Supposing there be otherwise good reason for saying that the Papal Supremacy is part of Christianity, there is nothing in the early history of the Church to contradict it. . .

"It is the absolute need of a monarchical power in the Church which is our ground for anticipating it. A political body cannot exist without government, and the larger the body the more concentrated must the government be. If the whole of Christendom is to form one Kingdom, one head is essential . . . wherever the Pope has been renounced, decay and division have been the consequence . . .

"Doctrine cannot but develop as time proceeds and need arises, and . . . therefore it is lawful, or rather necessary, to interpret the words and deeds of the earlier Church by the determinate teaching of the later." (4:151-152,154-155)

2. The Definition of Papal Infallibility at Vatican I (1870)

A. The Definition

"We teach and define that it is a dogma divinely revealed: that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks `ex cathedra,' that is, when, in discharge of the office of pastor and teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, is, by the divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, possessed of that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed that His Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals; and that, therefore, such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, irreformable." (3:256)

Constantly we hear the charge that the Catholic Church "invents" doctrines late in the game, which were not present in earlier centuries. In our present case, it has been shown by overwhelming scriptural and historical argument, that papal infallibility has indeed been in existence from the very earliest days of the Church, notwithstanding an expected development. In addition to the consensus of Fathers and Councils, we present one more example of the continuity of doctrine in the Church, in the form of St. Francis's teaching, c.1596, of papal infallibility, in order to illustrate the absurdity of claims that the "ultramontanes" in 1870 were out to subvert the Church by granting previously unheard-of prerogatives to the Pope, purely out of a fanatical lust for monarchical power, a charge heard often today by large portions of the Church considering themselves "progressive".

B. St. Francis de Sales

"When he teaches the whole Church as shepherd, in general matters of faith and morals, then there is nothing but doctrine and truth. And in fact everything a king says is not a law or an edict, but that only which a king says as king and as a legislator. So everything the Pope says is not canon law or of legal obligation; he must mean to define and to lay down the law for the sheep, and he must keep the due order and form .

"We must not think that in everything and everywhere his judgment is infallible, but then only when he gives judgment on a matter of faith in questions necessary to the whole Church; for in particular cases which depend on human fact he can err, there is no doubt, though it is not for us to control him in these cases save with all reverence, submission, and discretion. Theologians have said, in a word, that he can err in questions of fact, not in questions of right; that he can err `extra cathedram,' outside the chair of Peter. that is, as a private individual, by writings and bad example.

"But he cannot err when he is `in cathedra,' that is, when he intends to make an instruction and decree for the guidance of the whole Church, when he means to confirm his brethren as supreme pastor, and to conduct them into the pastures of the faith. For then it is not so much man who determines, resolves, and defines as it is the Blessed Holy Spirit by man, which Spirit, according to the promise made by Our Lord to the Apostles, teaches all truth to the Church." (9:306-307)

3. Reasoned Explanations of Papal Infallibility
A. Robert McAfee Brown (P)
"If it is wrong to assert that a man (in this case, the Pope) can speak for God beyond possibility of error, it is also wrong to assert that a group of men (in this case, the writers of Scripture) can speak for God beyond the possibility of error. If papal infallibility is wrong, so is paper infallibility . . .

"[The Catholic position on infallibility] has many strengths. (a) It is clear-cut and unambiguous (particularly in comparison with Protestant hedging on the same issue . . . (b) It has an impressive degree of historical plausibility . . . (c) It has the theological advantage that it stresses the continuing activity of the Holy Spirit at all stages in the life of the church. (d) It has great logical appeal. It is logical that Christ should found a church to carry on his work, logical that he should provide for the continuation of that work through a direct succession, logical that one person should have this power rather than a group of persons who might disagree, and logical that God should endow the head of the church with infallibility, in order to protect his church from error." (7:70,174-175)

B. Peter Kreeft

"Papal infallibility certainly seems to be a specifically Catholic dogma that Protestants cannot accept. But they often misunderstand it. First, they often think of the pope as an autocrat rather than as the head of a body. (A head is part of a body, not floating above it in the air.) Second, they often think of the Church along political lines and want it to be a democracy. But Scripture thinks of the Church along organic lines, and no organic body is a democracy. Third, they often misunderstand infallibility as attaching to the Pope personally. In fact, it attaches to the office, not the person, and only when defining a doctrine of faith or morals." (13:270)

C. James Cardinal Gibbons
"You will tell me that infallibility is too great a prerogative to be conferred on man. I answer: Has not God, in former times, clothed His Apostles with powers far more exalted? They were endowed with the gifts of working miracles, of prophecy and inspiration; they were the mouthpiece communicating God's revelation, of which the Popes are merely the custodians. If God could make man the organ of His revealed Word, is it impossible for Him to make man its infallible guardian and interpreter? For, surely, greater is the Apostle who gives us the inspired Word than the Pope who preserves it from error . . .

"Let us see, sir, whether an infallible Bible is sufficient for you. Either you are infallibly certain that your interpretation of the Bible is correct or you are not.

"If you are infallibly certain, then you assert for yourself, and of course for every reader of the Scripture, a personal infallibility which you deny to the Pope, and which we claim only for him. You make every man his own Pope.

"If you are not infallibly certain that you understand the true meaning of the whole Bible . . . then, I ask, of what use to you is the objective infallibility of the Bible without an infallible interpreter?

"If God, as you assert, has left no infallible interpreter of His Word, do you not virtually accuse Him of acting unreasonably? for would it not be most unreasonable of Him to have revealed His truth to man without leaving him a means of ascertaining its precise import?

"Do you not reduce God's word to a bundle of contradictions . . . which give forth answers suited to the wishes of every inquirer? . . .

"Is not this variety of interpretations the bitter fruit of your principle: `An infallible Bible is enough for me,' and does it not proclaim the absolute necessity of some authorized and unerring interpreter? You tell me to drink of the water of life; but of what use is this water to my parched lips, since you acknowledge that it may be poisoned in passing through the medium of your interpretation?

"How satisfactory, on the contrary, and how reasonable is the Catholic teaching on this subject!

"According to that system, Christ says to every Christian: Here, my child, is the Word of God, and with it I leave you an infallible interpreter, who will expound for you its hidden meaning and make clear all its difficulties.

"Here are the waters of eternal life, but I have created a channel that will communicate these waters to you in all their sweetness without sediment of error.

"Here is the written Constitution of My Church. But I have appointed over it a Supreme Tribunal, in the person of one `to whom I have given the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven,' who will preserve that Constitution inviolate, and will not permit it to be torn to shreds by the conflicting opinions of men. And thus my children will be one, as I and the Father are one." (2:108-110)

D. Bishop Vincent Gasser (Vatican I)

"We do defend the infallibility of the person of the Roman Pontiff, not as an individual person but as the person of the Roman Pontiff or a public person, that is, as head of the Church in his relation to the Church Universal . . .

"We do not exclude the cooperation of the Church because the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff does not come to him in the manner of inspiration or of revelation but through a divine assistance. Therefore, the Pope, by reason of his office and the gravity of the matter, is held to use the means suitable for properly discerning and aptly enunciating the truth. These means are councils, or the advice of the bishops, cardinals, theologians, etc. Indeed the means are diverse according to the diversity of situations, and we should piously believe that, in the divine assistance promised to Peter and his successors by Christ, there is simultaneously contained a promise about the means which are necessary and suitable to make an infallible pontifical judgment.

"Finally we do not separate the Pope, even minimally, from the consent of the Church, as long as that consent is not laid down as a condition which is either antecedent or consequent. We are not able to separate the Pope from the consent of the Church because this consent is never able to be lacking to him. Indeed, since we believe that the Pope is infallible through the divine assistance, by that very fact we also believe that the assent of the Church will not be lacking to his definitions since it is not able to happen that the body of bishops be separated from its head, and since the Church universal is not able to fail." (12:41-44)

E. Ronald Knox

"[It is a] quite unworkable idea that the authority of the Pope depends on the authority of the Council. There is no way of deciding which councils were ecumenical councils except by saying that those councils were ecumenical which had their decisions ratified by the Pope. Now, either that ratification is infallible of itself, or else you will immediately have to summon a fresh ecumenical council to find out whether the Pope's ratification was infallible or not, and so on `ad infinitum.' You can't keep on going round and round in a vicious circle; in the long run the last word of decision must lie with one man, and that man is obviously the Pope. In the last resort the Pope must be the umpire, must have the casting vote. If therefore there is to be any infallibility in the Church, that infallibility must reside in the Pope, even when he speaks in his own name, without summoning a council to fortify his decision." (1:130)

F. John Henry Cardinal Newman

"If the Christian doctrine, as originally taught, admits of true and important developments, . . . this is a strong antecedent argument in favour of a provision in the Dispensation for putting a seal of authority upon those developments . . .

"What can be more absurd than a probable infallibility, or a certainty resting on doubt? - I believe, because I am sure; and I am sure, because I suppose . . .

"Those who maintain that Christian truth must be gained solely by personal efforts are bound to show that methods, ethical and intellectual, are granted to individuals sufficient for gaining it; else the mode of probation they advocate is less, not more, perfect than that which proceeds upon external authority . . .

"Nor can we succeed in arguing . . . against a standing guardianship of revelation without arguing also against its original bestowal. Supposing the order of nature once broken by the introduction of a revelation, the continuance of that revelation is but a question of degree; and the circumstance that a work has begun makes it more probable than not that it will proceed. We have no reason to suppose that there is so great a distinction of dispensation between ourselves and the first generation of Christians, as that they had a living infallible guidance, and we have not . . . Preservation is involved in the idea of creation. As the Creator rested on the seventh day from the work which He had made, yet He `worketh hitherto' . . . As creation argues continual governance, so are Apostles harbingers of Popes . . .

"The supremacy of conscience is the essence of natural religion; the supremacy of Apostle, or Pope, or Church, or Bishop, is the essence of revealed . . .

"The common sense of mankind . . . feels that the very idea of revelation implies a present informant and guide, and that an infallible one; not a mere abstract declaration of Truths . . . This is shown by the popular notion which has prevailed among us since the Reformation, that the Bible itself is such a guide . . .

"If Christianity is both social and dogmatic, and intended for all ages, it must humanly speaking have an infallible expounder. Else you will secure unity of form at the loss of unity of doctrine, or unity of doctrine at the loss of unity of form; you will have to choose between a comprehension of opinions and a resolution into parties, between latitudinarian and sectarian error. You may be tolerant or intolerant of contrarieties of thought, but contrarieties you will have . . . The doctrine of infallibility is a less violent hypothesis than this sacrifice either of faith or of charity." (4:79-80,83,85-87,90-91)

4. Postscript #1: Protestant Praise of the Enduring Papacy
1. Karl Barth (1886-1968) (P)
"In the meantime, many unusual things have happened in both the world and the church to lay upon the whole of Christianity ever new cares and questions and tasks. Kyrie eleison! Believe me, Holy Father, that as I have reflected on these things from my own restricted corner, the power of the keys, whose transmission to the church and to Peter our Lord spoke of, has not been the last thing on my mind. In our meeting almost two years ago one thing that made a lasting impression on me was the seriously troubled way in which Your Holiness mentioned the burden which this in particular laid upon you. You may rest assured of the sympathy with which, as I follow Roman Catholic matters with ever-increasing attentiveness, I continually think of the way of your special Peter-ministry, confident that it will be given to you, and given to you again and again, to fulfill this ministry with joy, no matter how great the burden may be . . . As concerns your encyclical `Humanae vitae' . . . you may be assured of my great respect for what might be called the heroic isolation in which, Holy Father, you now find yourself along with your closest advisers." (11:200-201) (3)

2. Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805) (P)

"Emperors and kings, enlightened statesmen and hardened warriors were seen, under the pressure of circumstances, to sacrifice rights, betray their principles and yield to necessity. Such things rarely or never happened to a pope . . . However different the popes have been in temperament, ideas and ability, their policies have been constant, consistent and unchanging. Their ability, their temperament, their ideas did not seem to enter into their office; one might say that their personalities became dissolved in their station, and passion was extinguished beneath the Triple Crown. Although the chain of succession to the throne was broken by the death of each pope and had to be freshly established with each new pope, and though no throne in the world changed its occupant as frequently and was occupied or vacated amid such turmoil, yet this was the only throne in Christendom that never seemed to change its ruler, for only the popes died: the spirit that animated them was immortal." (15:292) (4)

3. Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859) (P)
"There is not, and there never was, on this earth, a work of human policy so well deserving of examination as the Roman Catholic Church. The history of that Church joins together the two great ages of human civilization. No other institution is left standing which carries the mind back to the times when the smoke of sacrifice rose from the Pantheon, and when . . . tigers bounded in the Flavian ampitheatre. The proudest royal houses are but of yesterday, when compared with the line of the Supreme Pontiffs . . . The republic of Venice came next in antiquity. But the republic of Venice was modern when compared with the Papacy; and the republic of Venice is gone, and the Papacy remains. The Papacy remains, not in decay, not a mere antique; but full of life and youthful vigour. The Catholic Church is still sending forth to the farthest ends of the world, missionaries as zealous as those who landed in Kent with Augustin; and still confronting hostile kings with the same spirit with which she confronted Attila. The number of her children is greater than in any former age. Her acquisitions in the New World have more than compensated her for what she has lost in the Old . . . Nor do we see any sign which indicates the term of her long dominion is approaching. She saw the commencement of all governments, and of all the ecclesiastical establishments, that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all. She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain - before the Frank had passed the Rhine - when Grecian eloquence still flourished at Antioch - when idols were still worshipped in the temple of Mecca. And she ma still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul's." (10:53-54) (5)

5. Postscript #2: The Tragic Failure of the Florentine Reunion

A. Kenneth Scott Latourette (P)
"To Ferrara came the Byzantine Emperor, the Patriarch of Constantinople, representatives of the Patriarchs of Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem, and a score or more of Eastern bishops. Among the latter was Isidore, Metropolitan of Kiev, and thus, in a sense, a representative of the Russian Church. Another was Bessarion, Metropolitan of Nicaea . . .

"As was true of the accord reached at the Council of Lyons in 1274, the union ostensibly effected at Florence was rejected by the overwhelming majority of the constituency of the Greek Orthodox Church. In spite of the Turkish peril, they were quite unreconciled to the arrangement even though it was intended to bring them military help. Moreover, the Patriarchs of Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem jointly repudiated the acts of the Ferrara-Florence Council. On returning to his see, Isidore was promptly clapped into jail by his irate flock. Escaping, he made his way to Rome, was created cardinal, and was appointed Papal Legate to Constantinople . . .

"Officially the union stood until after the fall of Constantinople . . . In 1472 a synod in Constantinople speaking for the Orthodox Church formally repudiated the action at Florence and anathematized those who adhered to it.

"Yet gains there were for Rome. Some of the Greeks remained in communion with the Pope. Bessarion . . . became a cardinal . . . and led in the reform of the Greek monasteries in South Italy . . ." (8;v.1:621-622)

B. Henri Daniel-Rops
"Byzantium did contain a few devout souls who were heartbroken by the Schism, and who were determined to fight to bring it to an end . . .

"[These were], however, . . . only a tiny nucleus in the midst of a mass of antipathy; . . . virtually powerless against the fanaticism of the Greek clergy, which was, generally speaking, very ignorant, and whose members repeated the vilest accusations of heresy against the Latins without even understanding what they meant. For countless worthy Greek Christians, the simple fact that priests in the West were often clean-shaven was an intolerable scandal! Preachers harked back again and again to the old argument of the `Filioque;' the Western custom of using unleavened bread for Holy Communion was criticized. Profound differences of mentality, rather than theological disagreements, were at the root of the Schism . . .

"The only forces which were really working in favour of Union were political, and we all know too well that these were accompanied by the most equivocal of mental reservations; for one Isidore of Kiev, or one Bessarion, who, while desiring with all their hearts the armed support of the West, saw Union as something very far removed from a mere diplomatic maneuvre, there were scores of Greek metropolitans and prelates who were absolutely determined to make use of the Latins by appearing to play their game! . . .

"Joseph, Patriarch of Byzantium [Constantinople], died while the Council was still at work, but he left his followers this explicit declaration: `I recognize the Holy Father of the Latins and the Greeks, the supreme pontiff, the representative of Jesus Christ, the Pope of old Rome.' . . .

"When the conciliar delegates returned to Constantinople, the mob, which had been whipped to fanaticism by the monks, welcomed them with jeers and insults. Latins! Azymites! [users of unleavened bread] Apostates! Heretics! . . . They were accosted in the street and asked how much gold they had received in return for their treachery . . . When Constantine XI succeeded John VIII [as emperor] he dared not even publish the decree of Union, though he knew very well how urgently he needed Western support.

"In short, this final and over-tardy attempt to seal the alliance of East and West against the Turk proved a lamentable failure. Inside Byzantium, which was now completely surrounded by the Infidel and threatened with a ghastly fate, the mob was fundamentally interested only in such questions as whether it was lawful to communicate with unleavened bread; and interest in such matters went so far as street fighting and bloody rioting . . . `Byzantinism' never attained greater heights of madness than in these last days. In December 1452, in an effort to enlist the support of the Latin powers, the Emperor Constantine XI finally had the formula of Union . . . proclaimed in St. Sophia. But on the morrow various important Church dignitaries, led by George Scholarios and Luke Notaras, publicly declared, to the cheers of the crowd, `We would rather see the turban of the Turks over Constantinople than the mitre of the Latins.'

"Providence was soon to make their vow come true . . .

"[After the Turks took Constantinople in 1453] . . . the looting and massacre were as expected . . . for three days and three nights. Only a handful of the vanquished managed to embark on a Genoese ship and flee to safety. Thousands of Christians who had sought refuge in St. Sophia were slaughtered as they prayed. More than fifty thousand Greeks, men and women, young and old, were sold into slavery. All the important court dignitaries were executed [the emperor had died fighting as a common soldier] . . . Countless treasures of art and learning were pillaged and wantonly destroyed . . . over a thousand years of Christian glory and greatness were at an end." (5;v.1:127-131,136)

C. James O'Connor
"It has often been noted that the bishops of the East were under a great deal of pressure, from the emperors and, later, from the threat of Moslem invasion, to achieve doctrinal harmony with Rome and the West. It is noted, too, that the dogmatic harmony achieved at Lyons and Florence did not last. Undoubtedly, in each case, the pressures were real, but it is also true that no bishop was forced to sign the decrees of the Councils and that, in fact, some Eastern bishops did not sign the decrees to which the majority of bishops gave their approval. It is also undoubtedly true that some (many?) of the Eastern bishops who did approve the conciliar decrees - and the great majority of them did approve - were not fully happy with each and every aspect of the final decrees. Nonetheless, to argue that they signed only out of compulsion or fear and therefore signed while not really believing what they were teaching by the decrees . . . - or believed only in part - is to level against the bishops of the East a totally unwarranted charge of mass hypocrisy." (12:32)

One must be fair in assessing the blame for the Schism - plenty of fault can be attributed to the West as well; in particular, the sacking of Constantinople by Latin Crusaders in 1204, which was an unspeakable failure and tragedy for all of Christendom. Malicious acts and mistrust had been festering between East and West for several centuries (e.g., the Latins in Constantinople were massacred in 1182), as is always the case preceding armed conflict - nothing, however, can be said to justify this horrible "Crusade".

Entering Constantinople during Holy Week (without the approval, or even knowledge of, Pope Innocent III), the Crusaders killed about 2000 Greeks, and pillaged indiscriminately, particularly the churches, and even libraries and museums filled with priceless artifacts. The altar at St. Sophia was torn to pieces and deprived of its silver and gold. Moslem worshipers were killed before their mosque was set on fire - the flames destroyed three miles of the city also. Some think the pillage was even worse than that of the Turks in 1453.

A Latin kingdom was set up with Latin emperors and bishops; it lasted until 1261, and its memory was never to fade.

D. Kenneth Scott Latourette (P)

"The Byzantine Empire, already enfeebled, was dealt a blow from which it never really recovered and which contributed to the weakness that ultimately (1453) put Constantinople into the hands of the Moslem Ottoman Turks . . . The Greek masses loathed the Latins and the rift between the two wings of the Catholic Church was widened and deepened . . ." (8:412)

Many historians feel that this event sealed the fate of the enduring Schism with which we live today. Nevertheless, it is most unfortunate that the Reunion of 1439 was exploded, essentially by the Greek masses whose hatred of the Latins seemingly knew no bounds. Whatever the sins of the past (and they were legion - but isn't this always the case?), this agreement should have been given a chance. It had been, after all, 178 years since the Latins had controlled Constantinople (this would be similar to American resentment against the English in 1961, over the issue of the American Revolution). The unity of Christianity was (and is) a cause against which no human antipathies should be allowed to prevail. In our own time, parties which had previously been mortal enemies have often been reconciled through mere diplomacy. How much more should the Church be unified, in light of the prayer of our
Lord that we "may be one" as the Father and the Son are one (John 17:21-23)?

Regardless of the degree of fault on both sides, it is a scandal and tragedy of untold dimensions that the most extensive official dialogue ever between Catholics and Orthodox, which resulted in real and significant agreements, ended with only a piece of paper which never saw the light of day. This lamentable fact ought to cause all Christians concerned with the unity commanded by Christ to hang their heads in shame. Reunion may yet come (there are good signs in our own time), but it will not be accomplished without much prayer, effort and humility. It will never happen if we seek to ignore our own, and "our side's" responsibility for events which have allowed such a scandalous situation to ever happen in the first place.


1. Ronald Knox, In Soft Garments, Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image, 1941.

2. James Cardinal Gibbons, The Faith of Our Fathers, New York: P. J. Kenedy & Sons, revised edition, 1917.

3. Dogmatic Canons and Decrees, Rockford, IL: TAN Books, 1977 (orig. New York: 1912) [Documents of Councils of Trent and Vatican I, plus Decree on the Immaculate Conception and the Syllabus of Errors of Pope Pius IX].

4. John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, Notre Dame, IN: Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 1989 (orig. 1845).

5. Henri Daniel-Rops, The Protestant Reformation, vol. 2, translated by Audrey Butler, Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image, 1961.

6. Robert Hugh Benson, The Religion of the Plain Man, Long Prairie, MN: Neumann Press, 1906.

7. Robert McAfee Brown, The Spirit of Protestantism, Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1961.

8. Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of Christianity, 2 vols., San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1953.

9. St. Francis de Sales, The Catholic Controversy, translated by Henry B. Mackey, Rockford, IL: TAN Books, 1989 (orig. 1596).

10. Stanley Jaki, And On This Rock, Manassas, VA: Trinity Communications, 2nd edition, 1987.

11. Stanley Jaki, The Keys of the Kingdom, Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1986.

12. Vincent Gasser, The Gift of Infallibility, translated with commentary by James T. O'Connor, Boston: Daughters of St. Paul, 1986 (Gasser's "Relatio" from First Vatican Council, 1870).

13. Peter Kreeft, Fundamentals of the Faith, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988.

14. Jeffrey A. Mirus, editor, Reasons For Hope, Front Royal, VA: Christendom Press, revised edition, 1982.

15. Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Office of Peter and the Structure of the Church, translated by Andree Emery, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986 (orig. 1974).


1. Paul C. Empie and T. Austin Murphy, Papal Primacy and the Universal Church, Minneapolis: Augsburg Pub. House, 1974, 34-35. This book is the result of a joint official project of Lutheran and Catholic scholars.

2. Ibid., 177-178.

3. Karl Barth, Karl Barth: Letters: 1961-1968, edited by J. Fangmeier and H. Stoevesandt, translated and edited by G.W. Bromiley, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1980, p.314: Letter to Pope Paul VI on Sep. 28,1968. Humanae Vitae ("On Human Life") is the famous (notorious to many) papal encyclical reaffirming the Church's constant prohibition of artificial contraception, a position held by all Christian bodies (Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant) until 1930, when the Anglicans compromised their position, thus opening the floodgates for today's rampant official and personal compromise of Christians on a variety of sexual and marital issues. The Catholic Church, however, holds firm, virtually alone among all, to traditional (i.e., Christian) moral values.

4. Friedrich Schiller, Works, vol. 7 (Leipzig: Inselverlag, n.d.), 431.

5. Thomas B. Macaulay, Edinburgh Review, 72 (1840), 227-228. Introduction of a review of Ranke's History of the Popes, "a book in which the papacy was not given much lease on life" (Stanley Jaki: And On This Rock, 46).

Reflections on the Papacy: The Primacy of St. Peter & Biblical Evidences

[From the 1994 early draft version of my book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism]

"P" = Protestant

1. Peter as the "Rock" (Matthew 16:18)

Matthew 16:18 "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

A. New Bible Dictionary (P)

". . . That the rock is Peter himself . . . is found almost as early as the other [interpretation], for Tertullian and the bishop, whether Roman or Carthaginian, against whom he thundered in De Pudicitia, assume this, though with different inferences. Its strength lies in the fact that Mt 16:19 is in the singular, and must be addressed directly to Peter . . . Many Protestant interpreters, including notably Cullmann, take the latter view." (4:972)

B. Word Studies in the New Testament (Vincent) (P)

"The word refers neither to Christ as a rock, distinguished from Simon, a stone, nor to Peter's confession, but to Peter himself, . . . The reference of `petra' to Christ is forced and unnatural. The obvious reference of the word is to Peter. The emphatic this naturally refers to the nearest antecedent; and besides, the metaphor is thus weakened, since Christ appears here, not as the foundation, but as the architect: `On this rock will I build.' Again, Christ is the great foundation, the `chief cornerstone,' but the New Testament writers recognize no impropriety in applying to the members of Christ's church certain terms which are applied to him. For instance, Peter himself (1 Pet 2:4), calls Christ a living stone, and in ver. 5, addresses the church as living stones . . .

"Equally untenable is the explanation which refers `petra' to Simon's confession. Both the play upon the words and the natural reading of the passage are against it, and besides, it does not conform to the fact, since the church is built, not on confessions, but on confessors - living men . . .

"The reference to Simon himself is confirmed by the actual relation of Peter to the early church . . . See Acts 1:15; 2:14,37; 3:2; 4:8; 5:15,29; 9:34,40; 10:25-6; Gal 1:18." (11;v.1:91-92)

C. Encyclopaedia Britannica (1985) (P)

"Though in the past some authorities have considered that the term rock refers to Jesus himself or to Peter's faith, the consensus of the great majority of scholars today is that the most obvious and traditional understanding should be construed, namely, that rock refers to the person of Peter." (1)

D. Wycliffe Bible Commentary (P)

"Another view common among some Protestants (Alford, Broadus, Vincent) is that Peter . . . is the rock." (7:959)

E. New Bible Commentary (P)

"Some interpreters have . . . referred to Jesus as the rock here, but the context is against this. Nor is it likely that Peter's faith or Peter's confession is meant. It is undoubtedly Peter himself who is to be the rock, but Peter confessing, faithful and obedient . . . The leading role which Peter played is shown throughout the early chapters of Acts." (6:837)

F. Anchor Bible (William F. Albright and C.S. Mann) (P)

"In view of the background of verse 19 . . . one must dismiss as confessional interpretation [i.e., biased by denominational views] any attempt to see this rock as meaning the faith, or the Messianic confession of Peter . . . The general sense of the passage is indisputable . . . Peter is the rock on which the new community will be built, and in that community, Peter's authority to `bind' or `release' will be a carrying out of decisions made in heaven. His teaching and disciplinary activities will be similarly guided by the Spirit to carry out Heaven's will." (2)

G. Robert McAfee Brown (P)

"Protestants are learning that the crucial passage in Matthew 16 about the `rock' on which the church will be built almost certainly refers to Peter himself rather than to his faith." (3)

H. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (R.T. France) (P)

"Jesus now sums up Peter's significance in a name, Peter . . .It describes not so much Peter's character (he did not prove to be `rock-like' in terms of stability or reliability), but his function, as the foundation-stone of Jesus' church. The feminine word for `rock', `petra', is necessarily changed to the masculine `petros' (stone) to give a man's name, but the word-play is unmistakable (and in Aramaic would be even more so, as the same form `kepha' would occur in both places). It is only Protestant overreaction to the Roman Catholic claim . . . that what is here said of Peter applies also to the later bishops of Rome, that has led some to claim that the `rock' here is not Peter at all but the faith which he has just confessed. The word-play, and the whole structure of the passage, demands that this verse is every bit as much Jesus' declaration about Peter as v.16 was Peter's declaration about Jesus . . . It is to Peter, not to his confession, that the rock metaphor is applied . . .

"Peter is to be the foundation-stone of Jesus' new community . . . which will last forever." (4)

I. Expositor's Bible Commentary (D.A. Carson) (P)

"On the basis of the distinction between `petros' . . . and `petra' . . . , many have attempted to avoid identifying Peter as the rock on which Jesus builds his church. Peter is a mere`stone,' it is alleged; but Jesus himself is the `rock' . . . Others adopt some other distinction . . . Yet if it were not for Protestant reactions against extremes of Roman Catholic interpretation, it is doubtful whether many would have taken `rock' to be anything or anyone other than Peter . . .

"The Greek makes the distinction between `petros' and `petra' simply because it is trying to preserve the pun, and in Greek the feminine ``petra' could not very well serve as a masculine name . . .

"Had Matthew wanted to say no more than that Peter was a stone in contrast with Jesus the Rock, the more common word would have been `lithos' )`stone' of almost any size). Then there would have been no pun - and that is just the point! . . .

"In this passage Jesus is the builder of the church and it would be a strange mixture of metaphors that also sees him within the same clauses as its foundation . . ." (5)

J. Peter in the New Testament (P)

"Precisely because of the Aramaic identity of `Kepha'/`kepha', there can be no doubt that the rock on which the church was to be built was Peter. Is this true also for Matthew in whose Greek there is the slight difference `Petros'/`petra'? Probably the most common view would be that it is . . . It would be pointless to list all the commentaries holding this view, but it is found in [a] popular one-volume commentary . . . ; K. Stendahl in Peake's Commentary on the Bible (2nd rev. ed.; London: Nelson, 1962), p.787." (6)

K. Richard Baumann (P)

"Luther . . . took his rejection of the Petrine office from his erroneous interpretation of Christ's saying in Matthew 16 . . . But today we recognize Luther's error and give it up. `Anti-Catholic polemic has done violence to the Lord's saying because it defines the Rock upon which Jesus builds His community not as Peter but as his faith and confession . . . What is spoken of, however, in Matthew 16 is the man to whom Jesus entrusts His work, (7)' writes the Protestant theologian Adolf Schlatter." (8)

L. St. Francis de Sales

"Our Lord then, who is comparing his Church to a building, when he says that he will build it on St. Peter, shows that St. Peter will be its foundation-stone . . . When he makes St. Peter its foundation, he makes him head and superior of this family.

"By these words Our Lord shows the perpetuity and immovableness of this foundation. The stone on which one raises the building is the first, the others rest on it. Other stones may be removed without overthrowing the edifice, but he who takes away the foundation, knocks down the house. If then the gates of hell can in no wise prevail against the Church, they can in no wise prevail against its foundation and head, which they cannot take away and overturn without entirely overturning the whole edifice . . .

"The supreme charge which St. Peter had . . . as chief and governor, is not beside the authority of his Master, but is only a participation in this, so that he is not the foundation of this hierarchy besides Our Lord but rather in Our Lord: as we call him most holy Father in Our Lord, outside whom he would be nothing . . .

"St. Peter is foundation, not founder, of the whole Church; foundation but founded on another foundation, which is Our Lord . . . in fine, administrator and not lord, and in no way the foundation of our faith, hope and charity, nor of the efficacy of the Sacraments . . . So, although he is the Good Shepherd, he gives us shepherds (Eph 4:11) under himself, between whom and his Majesty there is so great a difference that he declares himself to be the only shepherd (Jn 10:11; (Ezek 34:23)." (13:242-243,245-247)

M. Stanley Jaki

"In the Old Testament only God is called rock . . . Even if Peter's faith is taken for the rock, this still leaves one with much to consider about the fact that apart from the faith of Peter only God is called rock in the written word of God . . .

"Simon was now Rock, the rock foundation of his Master's church . . . The name obviously had a far deeper meaning than `boanerges' (sons of thunder), the name Jesus gave to James and John (Mk 3:17). While Yahweh thundered, he was never called `thunder' or `thunderer.' Only pagan gods could be thunderers (Jupiter was one of them), sources of fright; and never, like a rock, sources of safety . . . The name `kepha' could not help but evoke in pious Jews, as all the Twelve were, a sentiment of awe and reverence.

"Obviously, a name of such connotation could not be the vehicle of that disapproval which lurks behind Jesus' calling James and John `boanerges' (see the parallel passage (Lk 9:54), where James and John want to call down fire upon the inhospitable Samaritans). This name, not at all praiseworthy, was for a passing moment, whereas `kepha' was a name to last for the sake of everlasting praise." (14:39,77-78)

N. G.K. Chesterton (P) (9)

"When Christ at a symbolic moment was establishing His great society, he chose for its cornerstone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward - in a word, a man. And upon this rock he has built His Church, and the gates of Hell have not prevailed against it. All the empires and the kingdoms have failed, because of this inherent and continual weakness, that they were founded by strong men and upon strong men. But this one thing, the historic Christian Church, was founded on a weak man, and for that reason it is indestructible. For no chain is stronger than its weakest link." (10)

2. The "Keys of the Kingdom" (Matthew 16:19)

Matthew 16:19 "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven . . ."

A. New Bible Dictionary (P)

"In the . . . exercise of the power of the keys, in ecclesiastical discipline, the thought is of administrative authority (Is 22:22) with regard to the requirements of the household of faith. The use of censures, excommunication, and absolution is committed to the Church in every age, to be used under the guidance of the Spirit . . .

"So Peter, in T.W. Manson's words, is to be `God's vicegerent . . . The authority of Peter is an authority to declare what is right and wrong for the Christian community. His decisions will be confirmed by God' (The Sayings of Jesus, 1954, p.205)." (4:1018)

B. Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (P)

"In accordance with Matthew's understanding of the kingdom of heaven (i.e., of God) as anywhere God reigns, the keys here represent authority in the Church." (5:622)

C. New Bible Commentary (P)

"The phrase is almost certainly based on Is 22:22 where Shebna the steward is displaced by Eliakim and his authority is transferred to him. `And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.' (This is applied directly to Jesus in Rev 3:7)." (6:837)

D. New Bible Dictionary (P)

"In the Old Testament a steward is a man who is `over a house' (Gen 43:19, 44:4; Is 22:15, etc). In the New Testament there are two words translated steward: `epitropos' (Mt 20:8; Gal 4:2), i.e. one to whose care or honour one has been entrusted, a curator, a guardian; and `oikonomos' (Lk 16:2-3; 1 Cor 4:1-2; Titus 1:7; 1 Pet 4:10), i.e. a manager, a superintendent - from `oikos' (`house') and `nemo' (`to dispense' or `to manage'). The word is used to describe the function of delegated responsibility." (4:1216)

For further references to the office of the steward in Old Testament times, see 1 Kings 4:6; 16:9; 18:3; 2 Kings 10:5; 15:5; 18:18, where the phrases used are "over the house," "steward," or "governor." In Isaiah 22:15, in the same passage to which our Lord apparently refers in Matt 16:19, Shebna, the soon-to-be deposed steward, is described in various translations as:

i) "Master of the palace" JB (188:vs)/ NAB
ii) "In charge of the palace" NIV
iii) "Master of the household" NRSV
iv) "In charge of the royal household" NASB
v) "Comptroller of the household" REB
vi) "Governor of the palace" MOF

E. Jamieson, Fausset & Brown Commentary (P) (On Isaiah 22)

"[The steward is] `the king's friend,' or `principal officer of the court' (1 Ki 4:5; 18:3; 1 Chron 27:33, `the king's counsellor') . . .

"Keys are carried sometimes in the East hanging from the kerchief on the shoulder. But the phrase is rather figurative for sustaining the government on one's shoulders. Eliakim, as his name implies, is here plainly a type of the God-man Christ, the son of `David,' of whom Isaiah (ch. 9:6) uses the same language as the former clause of this verse [". . . and the government shall be upon his shoulder . . ."]. In Revelation 3:7, the same language as the latter clause is found (cf. Job 12:14)." (9:536)

F. Adam Clarke's Commentary (P)

"As the robe and the baldric, mentioned in the preceding verse, were the ensigns of power and authority, so likewise was the key the mark of office, either sacred or civil. This mark of office was likewise among the Greeks, as here in Isaiah, borne on the shoulder. In allusion to the image of the key as the ensign of power, the unlimited extent of that power is expressed with great clearness as well as force by the sole and exclusive authority to open and shut. Our Saviour, therefore, has upon a similar occasion made use of a like manner of expression, Matt 16:19; and in Rev 3:7 has applied to himself the very words of the prophet." (8:581)

G. New Bible Commentary (P)

"Eliakim stands in strong contrast to Shebna . . . Godward he is called `my servant' (v.20; cf. `this steward', v.15); manward, he will be `a father' to his community (v.21) . . .

"The opening words of v.22, with their echo of 9:6, emphasize the God-given responsibility that went with it [possession of the keys], to be used in the king's interests. The `shutting' and `opening' mean the power to make decisions which no one under the king could override. This is the background of the commission to Peter (cf. Mt 16:19) and to the church (cf. Mt 18:18)." (6:603)

H. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (R.T. France) (P)

"Not only is Peter to have a leading role, but this role involves a daunting degree of authority (though not an authority which he alone carries, as may be seen from the repetition of the latter part of the verse in 18:18 with reference to the disciple group as a whole). The image of `keys' (plural) perhaps suggests not so much the porter, who controls admission to the house, as the steward, who regulates its administration (cf. Is 22:22, in conjunction with 22:15). The issue then is not that of admission to the church . . . , but an authority derived from a `delegation' of God's sovereignty." (11)

I. Oscar Cullmann (P)

"Just as in Isaiah 22:22 the Lord puts the keys of the house of David on the shoulders of his servant Eliakim, so does Jesus hand over to Peter the keys of the house of the kingdom of heaven and by the same stroke establishes him as his superintendent. There is a connection between the house of the Church, the construction of which has just been mentioned and of which Peter is the foundation, and the celestial house of which he receives the keys. The connection between these two images is the notion of God's people." (12)

J. Peter in the New Testament (P)

"The prime minister, more literally `major-domo,' was the man called in Hebrew `the one who is over the house,' a term borrowed from the Egyptian designation of the chief palace functionary . . .

"The power of the key of the Davidic kingdom is the power to open and to shut, i.e., the prime minister's power to allow or refuse entrance to the palace, which involves access to the king . . . Peter might be portrayed as a type of prime minister in the kingdom that Jesus has come to proclaim . . . What else might this broader power of the keys include? It might include one or more of the following: baptismal discipline; post-baptismal or penitential discipline; excommunication; exclusion from the eucharist; the communication or refusal of knowledge; legislative powers; and the power of governing." (13)

K. Bertrand Conway

"The symbol of the keys, in the East, always implied power and authority, and the giving of the keys the transfer of that authority. Even in our day when we wish to honor a visitor of prominence we give him the keys of the city . . .

"`The gift of the keys,' writes Lagrange, `is, therefore, an investiture of power over all the house. The owner still keeps the sovereign power, but delegates its exercise to a major-domo . . . Christ has the keys of David (Rev 3:7); He gives St. Peter the keys. St. Peter's authority, therefore, is the authority of Jesus, which He ratifies in heaven' (Evangile selon S. Matthieu, 328)." (2:146)

L. Stanley Jaki

"By the time of Isaiah the office of the master of the palace was three centuries old and the highest of the royal administration which Solomon organized in full . . .

"Solomon set up the office in imitation of the office of the Pharaoh's vizier. Unlike in Assyria and Babylon, where the master of the palace was a mere administrator of the king's household affairs, in Egypt as well as in Judah and Israel the master of the palace was the second in command after the king. In Egypt he reported every morning to the Pharaoh, received his instructions, and by ceremoniously opening the gates to the palace he let the official day begin for the Pharaoh's highest administrative offices. He was privy to all the major transactions of the Pharaoh's kingdom, all important documents had to have his seal, all other officials were subordinate to him, and he governed the whole land in the Pharaoh's absence. It was precisely this function which was exercised by Joseph whom the Pharaoh put in charge of his house (Gen 41:40), made the keeper of the royal seal and the ruler over the entire land of Egypt. Similarly, the master of the palace of the king of Israel headed the list of royal officials (2 Ki 18:18) and he alone appears with the king (1 Ki 18:3). The importance of the title is particularly apparent when Yotham [or, Jotham] assumes it in his capacity of regent of the kingdom during the final illness of his father King Ozias [or, Uzziah, or Azariah] (2 Ki 15:5)." (15:27-28)

3. The Power to "Bind and Loose" (Matthew 16:19)

Matthew 16:19 ". . . Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

A. Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (P)

"In conferring upon Peter authority as head of the Church (Matt 16:19), Jesus uses the rabbinical technical terms `to bind' . . . and `to loose' . . . In rabbinic usage the terms mean `to forbid' and `to permit' with reference to interpretation of the law, and secondarily `to condemn' or `place under the ban' and `to acquit.' Thus, Peter is given the authority to determine the rules for doctrine and life (by virtue of revelation and the subsequent leading of the Spirit; Jn 16:13) and to demand obedience from the Church, reflecting the authority of the royal
chamberlain or vizier in the Old Testament (cf. Is 22:22)." (5:158)

B. Word Studies in the New Testament (Vincent) (P)

"No other terms were in more constant use in Rabbinic canon-law than those of `binding' and `loosing.' They represented the legislative and judicial powers of the Rabbinic office. These powers Christ now transferred, . . . in their reality, to his apostles; the first, here, to Peter, as their representative, the second, after his resurrection, to the church (Jn 20:23) . . .

"`This legislative authority conferred upon Peter can only wear an offensive aspect when it is conceived of as possessing an arbitrary character, and as being in no way determined by the ethical influences of the Holy Spirit, and when it is regarded as being of an absolute nature, as independent of any connection with the rest of the apostles . . .' (Meyer on Matt 16:19; 18:18)." (11;v.1:96-97)

C. New Bible Commentary (P)

"Most commentators . . . believe that the keys represent internal authority in the church rather than the power to open it up to outsiders. If this is so it would give Peter, and the apostles associated with him (18:18), not only the power to preach the `kerygma' [proclamation of the gospel] but also to formulate the `didache' [doctrine]." (6:837)

D. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (R.T. France) (P)

"This verse . . . probably refers primarily to a `legislative' authority in the church, though clearly such decisions must have direct implications as to what may or may not be forgiven . . . An early instance of Peter's exercise of this authority was when he was chosen to pioneer and authorize the church's acceptance of Gentile converts (Acts 10-11; cf. Acts 15:7-11) . . . It is not that heaven will ratify Peter's independent decisions, but that Peter will pass on decisions that have already been made in heaven." (14)

E. Richard Baumann (P)

"Matthew 16 indicates that the one took precedence, through God's own intervention and purpose, in revealing the everlasting and orthodox doctrine. Others can never proclaim revealed doctrine contrary to his definition, but only in union with him, no matter how God may give it to them. This is the status and relationship of the one, commanded by God and established in history." (12:170) (15)

F. Peter in the New Testament (P)

"In Matthew 16:18, when Jesus speaks of building his church, certainly `church' cannot be interpreted to refer simply to the local Matthean community, in isolation from the other Christian communities . . . But Matthew also knows of `ekklesia' [`church'] applied to the local community (18:17). It is interesting that the binding/loosing power given to the disciples (18:18) is mentioned in the context of the latter, while the binding/loosing power given to Peter is mentioned in the context of the former." (16)

G. Bertrand Conway

"St. Peter, the Steward of the Lord's house, the Church, has all the rights and powers of a divinely appointed steward. He does not, like the Jewish Rabbis, declare probable, speculative opinions, but he has the right to teach and govern authoritatively, with the certainty of God's approval `in heaven.' The member of the Church that refuses to obey is to be regarded as `a heathen and a publican,' as Christ says in a similar passage (Matt 18:17). A lawgiving power is certainly implied by these words." (2:146-147)

4. Peter Commanded to "Feed My Sheep" (John 21:15-17)

John 21:15-17 "So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

"He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

"He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep."

A. New Bible Commentary (P)

"There are slight differences . . . in the three exhortations to Peter. The first and third use the word `feed,' whereas the second uses the word `tend' (Gk `poimaino') which involves all the responsibilities of shepherding the sheep." (6:966)

B. Adam Clarke's Commentary (P)

"Our Lord . . . seems to intimate [in v.16] that it is not sufficient merely to offer the Bread of Life to the congregation of the Lord, but he must take care that the sheep be properly collected, attended to, regulated, guided. Every spiritual shepherd of Christ has a flock, composed of lambs - `young converts' - and sheep - `experienced Christians' - to feed, guide, regulate, and govern." (8:955)

C. Richard Baumann (P)

"In John 21 the form of the order of authority, with the one at the helm, is clearly discernible as a revelation of enduring significance . . . As the `keeper of the keys' was the successor of King David and the custodian of his everlasting throne, so too the Shepherd is the ruler of the nation forever. The promised Messiah was also described as the one who would feed the people of God (Mt 2:6; Jn 21:15). Jesus therefore handed His pastoral staff to one of the disciples in order that all the redeemed might be one flock under one shepherd. There must be one who guards and protects us all from the devil who is one persecutor. The one must watch over the weak and the small, and direct those who are strong, serving all men so that they may have life and full happiness in the Lord. The shepherd's service is consequently an act of love, a return of love to Him who first loved Christ and all mankind. It is the bond of Jesus' love, and of the love of God and the brethren, which holds the entire Church together indissolubly. This all-embracing service of the Shepherd is also extended to his fellow pastors, the priests and bishops of the Church." (12:172-173)

D. Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (W.E. Vine) (P)

"`Poimaino': to act as a shepherd . . .(b) metaphorically, to tend, to shepherd; said of Christ, Matt 2:6 . . .; of those who act as spiritual shepherds under Him, John 21:16 . . .; so 1 Pet 5:2; Acts 20:28 . . .

"In John 21:15,16,17, the Lord, addressing Peter, first uses `bosko' [`feed'] (ver.15), then `poimaino' (ver.16), and then returns to `bosko' (ver.17). These are not simply interchangeable (nor are other variations in His remarks); a study of the above notes will show this. Nor, again, is there a progression of ideas. The lesson to be learnt, . . . is that, in the spiritual care of God's children, the feeding of the flock from the Word of God is the constant and regular necessity . . . The tending (which includes this) consists of other acts, of discipline, authority, restoration, material assistance of individuals . . ." (143;v.2:87-8)

E. Word Studies in the New Testament (Vincent) (P)

[For 1 Peter 5:2 and Matt 2:6: same word, `poimaino']

"The verb denotes all that is included in the office of a shepherd - guiding, guarding, folding, no less than feeding . . . There is, doubtless, a reminiscence in the word of Christ's charge to Peter (Jn 21:15-17)."

"Homer calls kings `the shepherds of the people.' To David the people said, `The Lord said to thee, Thou shalt feed (as a shepherd) my people Israel' (2 Sam 5:2; cf. Ps 78:70-72). God is often called a shepherd (Gen 48:15; Ps 23:1; 77:20; 80:1; Is 40:11; Ezek 34:11-31). Jesus calls himself the good shepherd (Jn 10:11). Peter, who is bidden by Jesus to shepherd his sheep (Jn 21:16), calls him the Shepherd of Souls (1 Pet 2:25), and the Chief Shepherd (1 Pet 5:4); and in the Epistle to the Hebrews (13:20), he is styled the great Shepherd of the sheep. In Rev 2:27, rule is literally to shepherd (cf. 19:15)." (11;v.1:665,20-21)

"Poimaino" is also used of Christ in Rev 7:17: "For the Lamb which is in ther midst of the throne shall feed them . . .," and 12:5: "And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne."

G. William Most

"The imagery of this passage is easy to grasp if one knows the background. From Babylonian times (Hammurabi, 18th century B.C.) down through the Old Testament times, the shepherd stood for authority. In ancient Egypt, too, one of the symbols of the power of the Pharaohs was a shepherd's crook . . . Therefore, this clearly was a grant of authority to Peter, the authority promised in Matthew 16:16-19 . . . As R. Brown points out, `Two Protestant scholars of such different persuasions as Cullmann and Bultmann are quite firm in interpreting the command of 15-17 in terms of an authoritative commission for Peter, a view already espoused by Von Harnack, W. Bauer, Loisy and others.' (17)

"Thus, we have here more prime Scriptural support for Peter's authority, which even some very radical Protestant scholars have accepted.

"Finally, many Scripture scholars have noted that Peter once denied Jesus three times; so it was quite fitting that Jesus would insist that Peter confess Him three times before actually receiving the promised primacy." (16:99-100)

H. St. Francis de Sales

"St. Peter alone had this charge. They were equal in the Apostolate, but into the pastoral dignity St. Peter alone was instituted: `Feed my sheep.' . . .

"In truth the charge is so general that it includes all the faithful, whatever may be their condition; the commandment is so particular that it is addressed only to St. Peter. He who wishes to have this honour of being one of Our Lord's sheep must acknowledge St. Peter, or him who takes Peter's place, as his shepherd . . .

"When Our Lord said: `I know my sheep,' he spoke of all; when he said `feed my sheep,' he still means it of all; for Our Lord has but one fold and one flock . . . If he said to him: `Feed my sheep,' either he recommended all to him or some only; if he only recommended some - which? I ask . . . If all, as the Word expresses it, then he was the general pastor of the whole Church. And the matter is thus rightly settled beyond doubt . . .

"And it makes nothing against this truth that St. Paul and the other Apostles have fed many peoples with the Gospel doctrine, for being all under the charge of St. Peter, what they have done belongs also to him, as the victory does to the general, though the captains have fought." (13:259,261-263)

5. Peter Charged to "Strengthen Your Brethren" (Lk 22:31-2)

Luke 22:31-32 "And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."

A. Richard Baumann (P)

"It is the adversary who began the aggression, with Satan wanting to disperse the little company of Jesus' followers. But instead of saying, `I pray for you all' as might have been expected, Jesus speaks only of His prayer for Peter, the one, that his faith might not fail. For if this faith remains firm because of Jesus' prayer, then the attack directed against all of them is repelled. They will all be steadfast in the faith, strengthened by the one. In Matthew 16:22-23, we see how very powerfully Satan tempts only this one apostle. Right after Simon had been chosen as `the rock' he aspired to surpass even Jesus, suggesting that his own will prevail, but Jesus commanded the tempter to leave, and ordered His disciple to take his place behind Him and to follow Him until death." (12:170-171)

B. Nicholas Russo

"In this passage there is question of infallibility. For infallibility is nothing else but a supernatural gift by which the recipient is shielded from all error against faith. But - a) this is clearly expressed in the words, `that thy faith fail not'; b) it is implied in the command to confirm his brethren; c) it is supposed in the very failure of Satan's attempts to destroy the Church, which is personified in the Apostles, and which depends essentially upon faith . . .

"The temptation is common, but the prayer was offered for Peter alone; not because Our Lord was less solicitous for the rest of the Apostles, says Bossuet, but because by strengthening the head He wished to prevent the rest from staggering. Now this duty of confirming his brethren was to last as long as the Church; and Peter, accordingly, abides always in his successors . . . Strange, indeed, would it be to suppose that the doctrinal infallibility of the Head of the Church should cease just when the need becomes greater and more urgent. Christ would in this supposition have rendered His first vicar infallible . . . and denied this divine assistance to all the rest of His vicars on earth, when in their times the dangers were to be greater . . . If this consequence be absurd, our position is unassailable." (3:124-126)

C. St. Francis de Sales

"He prays for St. Peter as for the confirmer and support of the others; and what is this but to declare him head of the others? Truly one could not give St. Peter the command to confirm the Apostles without charging him to have care of them . . . Is this not to again call him foundation of the Church? If he supports, secures, strengthens the very foundation-stones, how shall he not confirm all the rest? If he has the charge of supporting the columns of the Church, how shall he not support all the rest of the building? If he has the charge of feeding the pastors, must he not be sovereign pastor himself? . . . Our Lord . . ., having planted this holy assembly of the disciples, prayed for the head and the root, in order that the water of faith might not fail to him who was therewith to supply all the rest, and in order that through the head the faith might always be preserved in the Church." (13:258-259)

6. Peter and Paul

A. Bertrand Conway

"St. Paul's rebuke of St. Peter [Gal 2:11), instead of implying a denial of his supremacy, implies just the opposite. He tells us that the example of St. Peter `compelled' the Gentiles to live as the Jews. St. Paul's example had not the same compelling power.

"The duty of fraternal correction (Matt 18:15) may often require an inferior to rebuke a superior in defence of justice and truth. St. Bernard, St. Thomas of Canterbury and St. Catherine of Siena have rebuked Popes, while fully acknowledging their supreme authority . . .

"The rebuke, however, did not refer to the doctrine, but to the conduct of St. Peter . . . St. Peter had not changed the views he had himself set forth at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:10). But at Antioch he withdrew from the table of the Gentiles, because he feared giving offence to the Jewish converts. They at once mistook his kindliness for an approval of the false teaching of certain Judaizers, who wished to make the Mosaic law obligatory upon all Christians. His action was most imprudent, and calculated to do harm because of his great influence and authority. St. Paul, therefore, had a perfect right to uphold the Gospel liberty by a direct appeal to St. Peter's own example and teaching." (2:152-153)

B. Leslie Rumble and Charles Carty

"No doctrinal error was involved in this particular case . . . To cease from doing a lawful thing for fear lest others be scandalized is not a matter of doctrine. It is a question of prudence or imprudence. St. Paul did not act as if he were St. Peter's superior. Nor did he boast. To show the urgency of the matter, he practically said, `I had to resist even Peter - to whom chief authority belongs.' And his words derive their full significance only from the fact that St. Peter was head of the Apostles." (1;v.1:82-83)

"St. Paul wrote to the Galatians (1:18), that he went to Jerusalem to see Peter, and stayed there fifteen days with him. Why to Peter rather than to any other of the Apostles? And why does he add that, having gone to Jerusalem, he also saw James? He does not say that he went to see such Apostles as were at Jerusalem, or that he went to see James, and also happened to see Peter whilst there." (1;v.1:82)

C. This Rock

"Notice that in the preceding ten verses (Gal 2:1-10) Paul goes to great lengths to assure his readers that he and Peter saw eye to eye on this issue.

"(Notice, by the way, that throughout these chapters Paul refers to Simon Peter as `Cephas' - the transliteration of the Aramaic `Rock' - in recognition of the unshakeable doctrinal steadfastness conferred upon Peter by our Lord in Matthew 16:18).

"The problem at Antioch arose when Peter acted in a manner inconsistent with his creed. It was not a matter of doctrinal error, but hypocrisy (the very Greek word Paul uses in verse 13), which means not practicing what one preaches . . .

"There is therefore nothing in the passage that undermines the doctrine of papal infallibility . . .

"If one were to reply that we teach by our behavior, we would agree, but `teaching' in that broad sense has never been included in the claims the Catholic Church makes for papal infallibility." (18)

D. New Bible Dictionary (P)

"This defection was roundly denounced by Paul; but there is no hint of any theological difference between them, and Paul's complaint is rather the incompatibility of Peter's practice with his theory. The old theory . . . of persistent rivalry between Paul and Peter, has little basis in the documents . . . Despite this lapse, the Gentile mission had no truer friend than Peter . . . At the Jerusalem Council [he] is recorded as the first to urge the full acceptance of the Gentiles on faith alone (Acts 15:7 ff.)." (4:973)

7. Peter at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15)

A. Bertrand Conway

"St. Peter, not St. James, presided at the Council of Jerusalem. The question at issue was whether the Gentiles were bound to obey the Mosaic law. Paul, Barnabas, James and the rest were present as teachers and judges, . . . but Peter was their head, and the supreme arbiter of the controversy . . .

"St. Peter spoke first and decided the matter unhesitatingly [Acts 15:7-11], declaring that the Gentile converts were not bound by the Mosaic law. He claimed to exercise authority in the name of his special election by God to receive the Gentiles (Acts 15:7), and he severely rebuked those who held the opposite view (Acts 15:10). After he had spoken `all the multitude held their peace' (Acts 15:12) [immediately before Peter spoke, there had been "much disputing" - v.7]. Those who spoke after him merely confirmed his decision . . . James gave no special decision on the question . . . Moreover the decree is attributed to the Council of Apostles and Presbyters . . . (Acts 16:4), and not to James personally." (2:152)

B. Leslie Rumble and Charles Carty

"St. James, as local Bishop of Jerusalem, would naturally have a prominent position at the meeting, since it took place in Jerusalem. But there can be no doubt about his deference to the ecumenical position of St. Peter as chief of the Apostles [e.g., he starts by saying `Simeon {Peter} hath declared . . .']." (1;v.2:91)


1. Leslie Rumble and Charles M. Carty, Radio Replies, 3 vols., St. Paul, MN: Radio Replies Press, 1940 [4374 questions about Catholicism answered].

2. Bertrand L. Conway, The Question Box, New York: Paulist Press, 1929.

3. Nicholas Russo, The True Religion, New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1886.

4. J.D. Douglas, editor, The New Bible Dictionary, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1962.

5. Allen C. Myers, Allen C., editor, Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987 (English revision of Bijbelse Encyclopedie, edited by W.H. Gispen, Kampen, Netherlands: J.H. Kok, revised edition, 1975}, translated by Raymond C. Togtman and Ralph W. Vunderink.

6. D. Guthrie, and J.A. Motyer, editors, The New Bible Commentary, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 3rd edition, 1970 {Reprinted, 1987, as The Eerdmans Bible Commentary}.

7. Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison, editors, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Chicago: Moody Press, 1962.

8. Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Bible, abridged one-volume edition by Ralph Earle, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1967 (orig. 1832, 8 vols.). [Clarke was a Methodist].

9. Robert Jamieson, Andrew R. Fausset, David Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1961 (orig. 1864). [Fausset & Brown were Anglicans, Jamieson Presbyterian].

10. W.E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1940, four-volumes-in-one edition.

11. Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1946 (orig. 1887), 4 vols.

12. Hans Asmussen, et al, The Unfinished Reformation, translated by Robert J. Olsen, Notre Dame, IN: Fides Publishers Assoc., 1961.

13. St. Francis de Sales, The Catholic Controversy, translated by Henry B. Mackey, Rockford, IL: TAN Books, 1989 (orig. 1596).

14. Stanley Jaki, And On This Rock, Manassas, VA: Trinity Communications, 2nd edition, 1987.

15. Stanley Jaki, The Keys of the Kingdom, Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1986.

16. William G. Most, Catholic Apologetics Today, Rockford, IL: TAN Books, 1986.


1. D. W. O'Connor, the author of the article, is himself Protestant and author of Peter in Rome: The Literary, Liturqical & Archaeological Evidence (1969).

2. Anchor Bible, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1971, vol. 26, 195,197-198.

3. In Peter J. McCord, editor, A Pope for all Christians?, New York: Paulist Press, 1976, Introduction, 7. This book is an ecumenical project offering views on the papacy from many perspectives. Brown is a Presbyterian & very prominent ecumenist.

4. Morris, Leon, General Editor., Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press/Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1985, vol. 1: Matthew, R.T. France, 254, 256.

5. Frank E. Gaebelein, General Editor, Expositor's Bible Commentary, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984, vol. 8: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Matthew: D.A. Carson), 368. Carson and France are widely regarded as two of the most brilliant Scripture commentators in Protestantism today. Among many others, three preeminent Bible scholars of the past, Anglican Henry Alford (1810-71), and Lutherans Johann Keil (1807-88) and Gerhard Kittel (1888-1948), also held to the same view of Matthew 16:18.

6. Raymond E. Brown, Karl P. Donfried, and John Reumann, editors, Peter in the New Testament, Minneapolis: Augsburg Pub. House / New York: Paulist Press, 1973, 92-93. This is probably the most important ecumenical work on Peter, and is thus cited first in a long bibliography in the Encyclopedia Britannica. It is a common statement by a panel of eleven Catholic and Lutheran scholars.

7. Der Evangelist Matthaus (Stuttgart, 1929), 507 ff.

8. Richard Baumann, To See Peter, translated by John M. Oesterreicher, New York: David McKay Co., 1953, 105-106.

9. Chesterton was not yet formally Catholic at the time of this quote (1905). He would be received into the Catholic Church 17 years later, in 1922.

10. G.K. Chesterton, Heretics, London: The Bodley Head, 1950 (orig. 1905), 60-61.

11. R.T. France, ibid., (#4 above), 256.

12. Oscar Cullmann, St. Peter: Disciple. Apostle, Martyr, Neuchatel: Delachaux & Niestle, 1952 (French edition), 183-184.

13. R.E. Brown, ibid., (#6 above), 96-97.

14. France, ibid., 256.

15. Richard Baumann was a mamber of the Sammlung movement (Lit., "gathering") among Lutherans in Germany in the late 1950s, whose goal was, according to the same book (The Unfinished Reformation, p.xxxv - #12 in Sources, above) to: "reunite a divided Christendom and . . . pray and work in the hope that the reformed Churches, for their own fulfillment and also for the future welfare of the whole Chuch of God, may find their necessary place within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church . . . A mutual acknowledgment must be made
and a new relationship established with the pre-Reformation Roman Catholic Church . . . only in proportion as we thus take the question of truth seriously can we hope to overcome the differences between the Churches as well as those within Protestantism itself."

16. R.E. Brown, ibid., 100.

17. R. Brown, Anchor Bible, John, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1970, 26, A p.1113.

18. This Rock, July, 1990, 28, no author indicated (quite possibly written by Karl Keatinq).