The Holy Father
Proof of Authority in the First 700 Years of the Church
Rick Salbato was born on the feast of Demetrios Kydones, who in the fourteenth century worked for the unity of the Greek and Roman Churches. Kydones work resulted in the Council of Florence. Using him as a guide, Rick Salbato wants to bring the Greek and Romans together to dialogue the only real issue that divides the two factions,
"The Pope of Rome".
Rick, as a layman with 30 years of theological studies, has written many books on apologetics and mystical theology. He lectures on Church history, apologetics, science and discernment. He worked as a Director of Evangelization and has recorded over 40 audio tapes on religious subjects.
After twelve years of working with the Orthodox Churches, he feels that theology is not anything that the East even bothers to study. It is nationalism that keeps them divided from the West. Most Orthodox laymen do not know (or care) what Filioque means. They honor the saints and councils of the early Church but do not study them.
"How could (man) gain merit in the eyes of God if his false religious views, lead God to condemn him? How can he love God and await a reward from Him for his efforts if he possessed an altogether false concept of God?" Demetrios Kydones "Ending the Byzantine Greek Schism" Page 62, by James Likoudis
Since "demonic" means "to divide" we ask Blessed Maria Gabriella of Unity to pray for us that we will never give up the prayer of Christ and that we will not be guilty of Matt 5:23.
CHRIST PRAYED FOR ONE CHURCH
Two thousand years ago God entered into the womb of Mary. Thirty-three years later, on the night before He would suffer and die, He ordained twelve bishops. He instituted the Continual Sacrifice foretold in Daniel. He established his family, the Church, and then He stood to pray to the Father for all the grace needed to complete all that He had worked for.
In His prayer in John, Chapter 17, Christ shows concern over the unity of His Church; but unity only in truth: "Father, the hour has come ---(:11) Holy Father, keep them in your name who you have given to me; that they may be one (:17) Sanctify them in truth ---(:20) I pray for them also who through their work shall believe in me (:21) I pray that they all may be one, as you, Father, in me, and I in you; that they also may be one in us; so that the world may believe (:22) that they may be one (:23) that they may be made perfect in one, that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have also loved me
I speak from a Catholic's perspective; but I know from my Orthodox and Protestant friends that all Christians want the same thing that Christ prayed for, that we all be one Church on Earth as it is in Heaven. (John 17)
We all believe and know that Christ wants only one Church on earth and that He prayed for this at the last supper, but are we willing to pray together for this unity? Are we willing to work together for this unity? We all agree that we cannot compromise the truth for the sake of unity, for truth is Christ and Christ cannot be compromised. But are we willing to listen to other points of view and read each others writings? Are we willing to compromise on everything for the sake of unity except the true doctrine of Christ? Are we willing to admit our own faults and mistakes and the mistakes of our Church that brought about these divisions? Do we understand that in Matt 5:23 Christ is talking about us, and we must do something about it?
Ten years ago I realized that what divides Christians is not doctrine but nationalism, politics, prejudice and family tradition.
In Matt 15:2 the Jews said to Christ,
"Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the ancients?" Christ answered, "Why do you transgress the commandment of God for your tradition?"
Tradition and culture are wonderful things if they do not come before the truth of Christ. The truth is, that unity of all Christians does not require that one give up his culture and his way of doing things, only his way of seeing things.
If your culture, your family traditions, your habits are a cause of divisions between you and your brothers in Christ, how can you justify going to the altar of God and receiving the Body and Blood of Christ?
In Matt 5:23 Christ said, "If therefore you offer your gift at the altar, and there you remember that your brother has any thing against you; LEAVE THERE YOUR OFFERING BEFORE THE ALTAR, and go first to be reconciled to your brother."
This passage is for all Christians who profess to be brothers in Christ. Can any of us who are not working for the unity of all Christians say that we have love of Christ and our brothers. Read the rest of Matt 5:23. In the early Church there were disputes and disagreements, but all knew the law of Christ from Matt 18:17 who said that when there were disputes to take it to the Church. In Matt 18:18 He made the Church's decision on these disputes binding on earth and in Heaven.
Why, then, don't we simply look to the early Church for the answers? Because we do not look at the actual writings of the early Church, we do what the Jews did in their "Talmuds" or commentaries. We read what our Churches say about the writings instead of reading the writings themselves and letting them tell us the truth.
Truth is not afraid of information, but information is not necessarily the truth. I have thirty-eight volumes of Church history on just the first 700 years of Christianity. These volumes were not put together by Catholics, but by the Church of England. It is obvious that the documents of Polycarp, Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Augustine, Jerome, Cyril, and the Councils say one thing, but the commentaries on these documents say another.
It is important, though, to read all sides. I subscribe to "The Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies", "The Eastern Catholic Life", and have read "Orthodoxy and Catholicism" by Father Theodire Pulcini, the Koran by Mohammed, The Book of Mormon by Joseph Smith, the writings of Martin Luther, Confucius, Krisnamurdi, The New Age, and many Protestant publications that are very anti-Catholic: "Pagan Festivals - Christian Worship" by Franke, "The Two Babylons or The Papal Worship" by Hislop, "A View of Rome" by Armstrong, "The Trail of Blood" by Carroll, "Faithful Dissent" by Curran, "The Fatal Flaw" by White, etc. What I found in all of these was that they engage in vituperation, using sophisms without presenting any real arguments because they fail to use the two things that separate us from animals, (logic and history).
"Ending the Byzantine Schism" by John Lukadious addresses the problem of mental book burning, which means to refuse to read or listen to another point of view simply because it is not "one of our views. The point being that we should not be afraid to read or listen to anothers ideas or traditions.
Unity will come from us laymen, and it is to laymen that I write this book. I invite dialogue and ask that apathy end. We can force unity on the bishops, but that is not to say that they have done nothing. In fact, they have done more than we have, except they are afraid of what the people, caught up in traditions of man, will do.
WHAT THE BISHOPS HAVE DONE
Those in the seats of power have done a great deal in the past 35 years towards unity of all Christians.
Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I met in Jerusalem 1964
Paul VI and Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Benedictos, met in 1964 seeking paths to unity
Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras of Jerusalem met at Istanbul 1967 and in Rome in 1967
Paul VI and His Holiness Shenouda III, the Coptic Orthodox Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria, met in 1971
Paul VI and His Beatitude Jacoub III, the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, met in 1971
Paul VI and His Beatitude Mar Ignatius Jacoub III, Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians, met in 1979
John Paul II and Patriarch of Constantinople Dimitrios I in 1979 met at the Phanar and con-celebrated Mass at Ecumenical Patriarchate 1979
John Paul II and Syrian Patriarch of Antioch Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas met in 1984
John Paul II met at Rome in 1987 with Patriarch Dimitrios I
Lutheran Archbishops and Primates sat down with Pope John Paul II in 1991
John Paul II and Venerable Patriarch of the Ethiopian Church, Abuna Paulos, met in Rome in 1993
John Paul II and Assyrian Patriarch of the East, His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, talked in Rome in 1994
Venerable Brother Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, and John Paul II prayed together on Good Friday 1994
ROMES ENCYCLICALS ON UNITY
And in 1995 Pope John Paul II wrote two Encyclicals on Unity
He stated in these documents:
"I believe that one important way to grow in mutual understanding and unity consists precisely in improving our knowledge of one another."
And again he asked us:
"to encourage dialogue between Catholics and the Orthodox" and he added:
"In addition to knowledge, I feel that meeting one another regularly is very important."
Pope John Paul believes that unity will have to start in a place much like the United States because all religions are represented equally and people have the freedom to dialogue. In his own words:
"These places, where peaceful contact is easier within a pluralist society, could be an ideal environment for improving and intensifying cooperation between the Churches in training future priests and in pastoral and charitable projects, also for the benefit of the Orientals' countries of origin."
Regarding Christ's words in Jn 17 "that the world may know and be converted, the Holy Father said: "we have deprived the world of a joint witness. --- The words of the West need the words of the East, so that God's word may ever more clearly reveal its unfathomable riches."
This was written on May 2nd, 1995
In his Encyclical Letter of May 25, 1995,
UT UNUM SINT
Commitment to Unity
Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord
Pope John Paul II remembers, and I quote,
"the courageous witness of so many martyrs of our century, including members of Churches and Ecclesial Communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church."
And then pleads with the Christian world:
"Every factor of division can be transcended and overcome in the total gift of self for the sake of the Gospel."
"Besides the doctrinal differences needing to be resolved, --- misunderstandings and prejudices. Complacency, indifference and insufficient knowledge of one another often make this situation worse."
There must be a "necessary purification of past memories --- by the power of the truth and by a sincere desire for mutual forgiveness and reconciliation, all are called to re-examine together their painful past and the hurt which that past regrettably continues to provoke even today. All together, they are invited by the ever fresh power of the Gospel to acknowledge with sincere and total objectivity the mistakes made and the contingent factors at work at the origins of their deplorable divisions."
He goes on to say:
"---the Catholic Church acknowledges and confesses the weaknesses of her members."
"At the same time, she acknowledges and exalts still more the power of the Lord."
"---the truth does not impose itself except 'by virtue of its own truth, as it makes its entrance into the mind at once quietly and with power."
Pope John Paul II promises: "I myself intend to promote every suitable initiative - to full communion."
Why? "The unity of all divided is the will of God --- that all those who believe in him, might be one. --- And yet almost everyone, though in different ways, longs that there may be one visible Church of God, a Church truly universal and sent forth to the whole world that the world may be converted to the Gospel and so be saved, to the glory of God."
To Catholics he makes it a commandment:
"This sacred Synod exhorts all the Catholic faithful to recognize the signs of the times and to participate actively in the work of ecumenism.--- as the duty of the Christian"
Jesus himself, at the hour of his Passion, prayed "that they may all be one." Quoting from Jn. 17:21, "to desire unity means to desire the Church." Regarding sins against charity the Holy Father writes:
"To sin against charity = refusal to forgive, of a certain pride, of an unevangelical insistence on condemning the 'other side', of a disdain born of an unhealthy presumption."
However, he is not asking anyone to compromise the truth: "The unity willed by God can be attained only by the adherence of all to the content of revealed faith in its entirety. In matters of faith, compromise is in contradiction with God who is truth. In the Body of Christ, the way, the truth, and the life." Jn 14-6 Who could consider legitimate a reconciliation brought about at the expense of the truth. --- Even so, doctrine needs to be presented in a way that makes it understandable to those for whom God himself intends it."
Remembering his home country he states:
"Cyril and Methodius (who brought Christ to Poland) wanted the one word of God to be made accessible in each civilization's own forms of expression. --- It is necessary to pass from antagonism and conflict to a situation where each party recognizes the other as a partner. When undertaking dialogue, each side must presuppose in the other a desire for reconciliation, for unity in truth."
Then the Holy Father lays down the solution to the problems: "Dialogue has not only been undertaken; it has become an outright necessity, one of the Church's priorities. --- the quest for Christian unity is not a matter of choice or expediency, but a duty which springs from the very nature of the Christian community."
"If such dialogue does not become an examination of conscience, a kind of "dialogue of consciences" can we count on the assurance which the First Letter of John gives us? (1 John 2-1)
Christian unity is possible, provided that we are humbly conscious of having sinned against unity and are convinced of our need for conversion."
Ecumenical dialogue becomes conversion dialogue and then salvation dialogue. Dialogue = comparing differing points of view = examining those disagreements that hinder full communion between Christians."
In some cases, "with regard to doctrinal formulations which differ from those normally in use in the community to which one belongs, it is certainly right to determine whether the words involved say the same thing."
"The Lord has made it possible for Christians in our day to reduce the number of matters traditionally in dispute.--- legitimate diversity is in no way opposed to the Church's unity."
He lays out the areas that need dialogue:
1: "the relationship between Sacred Scripture (as the highest authority in matters of faith) and Sacred Tradition (as indispensable to the interpretation of the Word of God."
2: "the Eucharist, as the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, an offering of praise to the Father, the sacrificial memorial and Real Presence of Christ and the sanctifying outpouring of the Holy Spirit."
3: "Ordination, as a Sacrament, to the threefold ministry of the episcopate, presbyterate and diaconate."
4: "the Magisterium of the Church, entrusted to the Pope, and the Bishops in communion with him, understood as a responsibility and an authority exercised in the name of Christ for teaching and safeguarding the faith."
5: "the Virgin Mary, as Mother of God and Icon of the Church, the spiritual Mother who intercedes for Christ's disciples and for all humanity.--- The obligation to respect the truth is absolute. Is this not the law of the Gospel?"
OPEN FOR STUDY - THE POPE
And finally, this most important of all reasons for divisions, the Holy Father states: "The Pope of Rome constitutes a difficulty for most other Christians, whose memory is marked by certain painful recollection. To the extent that we are responsible for these, I join my Predecessor Paul VI in asking forgiveness.
"It is nonetheless significant and encouraging that the question of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome has now become a subject of study which is already under way or will be in the near future. In heeding the request made of me to find a way of exercising the primacy which, while in no way renouncing what is essential to its mission, is nonetheless open to a new situation. For a whole millennium Christians were united in a brotherly fraternal communion of faith and sacramental life --- if disagreements in belief and discipline arose among them, the Roman See acted by common consent as moderator."
Then he speaks of the damage caused by these divisions: "It is obvious that the lack of unity among Christians contradicts the Truth which Christians have the mission to spread and, consequently, it gravely damages their witness. How indeed can we proclaim the Gospel of reconciliation without at the same time being committed to working for reconciliation between Christians? However true it is that the Church, by the prompting of the Holy Spirit and with the promise of indefectibility, has preached and still preaches the Gospel to all nations, it is also true that she must face the difficulties which derive from the lack of unity. When non-believers meet missionaries who do not agree among themselves, even though they all appeal to Christ, will they be in a position to receive the true message? Will they not think that the Gospel is a cause of divisions." Unquote.
COMMUNION OR DISUNION?
When I read those words I think of Ghandi, who said of Christians, "If you Christians lived that faith you preach, I would have become a Christian." My God! Think about it. There are 700,000,000 people in India who worship every word Ghandi spoke. What if we had converted him by our example of unity and love?
St. Chrysostom in his homily on Ephesians said: "Nothing will so avail to divide the Church as love of power. Nothing so provokes God's anger as the division of the Church. Yea, though we have achieved ten thousand glorious acts, yet shall we, if we cut to pieces the fullness of the Church, suffer punishment to less sore than they who mangled His body."
And quoting St. Cyprian, St. Chrysostom said,
"not even the blood of martyrdom can wash out this sin. St. Cyprian said: 'God does not accept the sacrifice of a sewer of disunion, but commands that he depart from the altar so that he may first be reconciled with his brother."
St. Cyprian was not without some disagreements with the Roman Bishop, St. Stephen, but he knew well the passage in Matt. 5:23:
"If therefore you offer your gift at the altar, and there you remember that your brother has any thing against you; LEAVE THERE YOUR OFFERING BEFORE THE ALTAR, and go first to be reconciled to your brother."
For me, (and I think this holds true for all Christians), as long as there are divisions between one Christian and another, and I don't do all I can to reconcile these divisions, I have no right to go to the Altar of My Lord and receive His Body and Blood within me.
As a Catholic, the minute Vatican II described Protestants, Orthodox, Evangelicals, and the rest as separated brethren, I was convicted of Matt. 5:23 and could no longer go to the Altar of Our Lord without making it my commitment for life to work for the reconciliation of all Christians. This is the commandment of God. It is not a suggestion, it is the law of Christ. It is His final prayer on earth, His Will, and therefore, His commandment.
All Christians have an obligation to reconcile these differences or at least try with all their hearts and souls. Maybe it will never happen, but we must at least try. It is the commandment of God.
What if, by our efforts and Our Lady in Heaven's prayers, we did unite all Christians? What a witness to the rest of the world that unity would be. What a witness to the Moslems, the Communists, the Atheists, the Hindus, the Heathens! What a light we would light for Our Lady and Her Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, and His Bride, the Church!
Come, light a candle with me. Light a little candle. Put your candle with mine, and maybe, when we have enough candles, we will light the world.
I have been praying together with my separated brothers. In a loving way we entered into public dialogue on the major issues at stake. We have promoted this dialogue on audio tape, video tape, public television, public radio, and in public newspapers.
I am a layman with no theological degree, but in order to get dialogue started I will offer myself as a debater for the Catholic side, with love and charity and an open mind to all points of view, knowing very well the problems and sins of the people of the Catholic Church. I know very well that many people have a dislike for my Church (some of their reasons are very justified and some of their reasons are because of a lack of knowledge).
In order to start a dialogue, I would like to begin with the main point of division between Christians which is not Purgatory, nor The Immaculate Conception, nor Filoque, nor The Millennium, nor Plurus Unum, nor even the concept of Church. The main point of division now and in the past 2000- year history of the Church is very concept "Pope".
In order to set out the Catholic point of view, I will divide my argument into seven sections:
1: The Pope & The Scriptures
2: The Pope & The 2nd & 3rd Century
3: The Pope & The 4th & 5th Century
4: The Pope & The First Councils
5: The Pope & The Case of "Constantinople"
6: The Pope & The Fruits of the Churches
7: What Way Could Unity Take Place?
THE POPE & THE SCRIPTURES
Of course, I will assume everyone knows the commonly used passages from Scripture, so I will only list them, for this will not be my primary Scripture argument.
Lk 22:32 faith not fail
Mt 16:16-17 divine knowledge of divinity
John 10:1-3 Christ door to kingdom - Peter the gatekeeper
Mt 16:18 Peter - Rock - build my church
Mt 16:19 Keys - bind - loose
Mt 3:16, Mk 3:16, Lk 6:14, Mt 10:2, First Jn 21:15-17
Acts 4:1-13, 2:37-41, 5:15, Lk 24:12, Jn 20:6, Mk 16:7, Acts 1:15-22 First Apostle
Acts 5:2-11 First anathema,
Acts 15:7 Opens first Council
Acts 8:14 First to refute heresy
Peters name mentioned 191 times,
all other names combined 130 times
Gal 2:9 commissioned Paul to preach to Gentiles
1 Peter 5:1 shepherds other bishops
2 Peter 3:15 corrects interpretation of Paul's writings
I will center my position on 1 Cor. 10:11. Here Paul teaches "Now all these things happened to them in figure: and they are written for our correction, upon whom the ends of the world are come." What things is Paul talking about?
In 1 Cor.10:5 he quotes Numbers 26:64 and Numbers 14:2 and how the Jews murmured against Moses and Aaron and said, "Let us appoint a captain, and let us return to Egypt. As a result, they spent a generation in the wilderness until all died except those who trusted Moses.
In 1 Cor. 10:7 Paul quotes Exodus 32:6 where the people made a golden calf, and 23,000 were slain that day.
In 1 Cor. 10:8 Paul quotes Numbers 21:5-6 where they murmured against the manna from heaven, and God sent serpents among them and thousands died.
In 1 Cor. 10:10 Paul quotes from Numbers 11:1 again where the people murmured against Moses because of no food.
Paul goes on in Chapter 10 to show how the manna that the Jews murmured against was symbolic of the real thing, the Body and Blood of Christ. Then he teaches the Corinthians about the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church, in the following chapter.
Finally in 1 Cor. 12:12 "For as the body is one, and has many members; and all the members of the body, whereas they are many, yet are one body, so also is Christ. For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether bond or free; and in one Spirit we have all been made to drink. For the body also is not one member, but many. If the foot should say, because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were the eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were the ear, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members every one of them in the body as it has pleased Him."
What am I getting at here? This is not the only place in the Bible we find that the entire Old Testament, or Old Covenant, is symbolic or the shadow of the New Testament, or New Covenant. We also find it in Hebrews, the Gospels, and in Peters Second Epistle.
What kind of Old Testament, Old Covenant, Old Kingdom, Old Church did God set up to be the shadow of the things to come? Well! First of all, it was a kingdom of sojourners towards the promised land. Their (so-called) promised land was a kingdom within a kingdom of devils. Never did they ever completely remove the Cananites from Palestine. Second, it was a kingdom that was fed with manna from heaven and water from a moving rock. It was a kingdom with only one ruler, not a council, and when anyone murmured against this one ruler, God became very angry. It was a kingdom with priests, who were not selected by the people but were selected by Moses himself, and no one could offer sacrifices except the priests. Therefore, when Jerusalem and the last of the Levitical Priests were destroyed in 70 AD, all sacrifices ceased.
It was a kingdom with written law, The Torah, but it was Moses and, after him, Joshua, that led the people and explained the meaning of the Torah. Some of the Torah laws were written by Moses without a direct revelation from God. (Exodus 18: 23-24) Moses and Joshua did not do this with the power of an army but with the power of the Holy Spirit.
The next thing that may very well be a shadow of the things to come is in Exodus 4:14 where Aaron became the spokesman of Moses. After the Judges, Kings led the people, but always a single leader, and always a single high priest to offer the sacrifice in the Holy of Holies which made all other sacrifices throughout the land legitimate.
The question then becomes, if the new covenant in Christ's Blood, the Kingdom of God, is what the old Kingdom was only a shadow of, what kind of leadership did they have?
To understand what Christ meant when He said, "Upon this rock I will build My Church" is to understand everything about the entire Bible. The Church is the House of God, the Gate of Heaven, Jacob's ladder, (Genesis 28:12-17); the Church is God's Kingdom (Daniel 2:44) ; Christ's Church is universal or Catholic (Psalms 21:28, Micheas 5:4, Aggeus 2:8, Zach 2:4, Rev 5:10, Heb 12:22, Rev 7:9). Christ's Church is the Kingdom of Heaven on earth as shown by the parables in Matthew:13, 18, 19, and 20. Christ describes His Kingdom as a mystery in 13:11 and with good seed and bad seed in 13:24-30, and like a mustard seed that must grow in 13:31, and not without scandals in it in 13:41, but nonetheless like a great treasure worth everything you have to be a member of, and in 13:47 like a net full of good fish and bad fish. Christ describes His Kingdom as containing some things from the old law and some things new in Matt 13:52; and in Matt 20 He testifies that His Kingdom will not do away with the old law but complete it. In Matt 21:43 He calls the Jewish nation "a Kingdom" when he tells them that He will take their Kingdom away and give it to the Gentiles.
This Kingdom came into the world when Christ entered the womb of Mary because wherever the King is, there is the kingdom, and Christ said in Matt 12:28 that His miracles prove that the Kingdom is already here on earth and was being assaulted by the Jews in Matt 11:11. He was not talking about the Kingdom in the sky, for in John 3:13 he affirmed that no one had ever gone to Heaven. He said that the Kingdom was now. (Matt 3:2 and 4:17) and that it would last all days even to the end of the world. (Matt 28:20)
We (the Catholic Church) are that Kingdom of Christ because we have the King here with us in His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in all the Tabernacles around the World, Rev. 21:3 "Behold the tabernacle of God with men" and in Zach 2:11, "I will dwell in the midst of thee."
This Church is the Way (Gen 3:24) to the Tree of Life [the Body and Blood of Christ] that will allow us to live forever. Gen. 3:22 and John 6:52 being the only two places in all of Scripture that we find the words "live forever". Christ's Church has Priests in it (Rev 1:6) "made us to be a kingdom, and priests to God His Father. Priests are those who offer a sacrifice on an altar. There is no other reason for priests. Christ's Kingdom is not in the future as some Protestants say. (Col. 4:11) "These only are my helpers in the kingdom of God." It is all days from that time until the end. It is God's family. (Acts 7:42, Heb. 3:2-6, 1 Peter 2:5) It is God's family because we have Christ's real blood running through our veins making us one body with Christ. (Rom. 12:5, Eph. 1:23), just as a husband and wife become one flesh, Christ refers to His People as His Body, (Acts 9:4 "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?") or as His Bride, (Eph 31-all, Rev 19:7, Eph 5:21, Eph 5:24, Eph 29-all).
It is not only a spiritual Kingdom but also a visible Kingdom (Luke 22:29), with deacons (Acts 6:6), and Priests (Titus 1:3, 1 Tim 5:17, Acts 14:22) and bishops (Acts 20:28, Titus 1:7). And last, but not least, we come to His kingdom having a cornerstone, Peter, to hold the faith together, (Matt 16:18-19) who will be the gatekeeper, (John 10:1-3) as Christ is the Gate and as Christ is the head of the cornerstone (1 Peter 2:7, Ps 117:22, Isa 8:14, Acts 4:11).
WHY BAD POPES?
How then is it possible that Peter, the rock, (Matt 16:18) with the power to bind and loose and the power to forgive or not to forgive can sometimes be a very bad person, even a devil? Look at the passage right after that, in Matt 16:23, "Get behind me Satan." When Christ told Peter in Luke 22:32 "I have prayed for you, that your faith will not fail", something He did not say of any other person in all of Scripture, this did not guarantee that he would always be a good person, for again, as an example to our thinking, within two paragraphs Christ tells Peter that he will deny Him three times.
What then are we to say about bad Popes? We say that even bad Popes will not lose the True Faith. They might lose their souls into Hell for ever and ever, but they will not lose the true faith. That is hard for Protestants to understand because they think that all they have to do is have faith to get into heaven.
The two Bible quotes above show without any doubt that Christ gave to Peter the power of the keys and that his faith would not fail, but this was no guarantee that he, himself, would be saved. This is why the Church teaches that in matters of faith, Peter's faith cannot fail, but in other matters: Church rules and regulations, which we must also obey, the Pope is just as fallible as I am.
Matt 23:2-3 states that they have sat on the chair of Moses. "All things therefore whatsoever they say to you, observe and do, but according to their works do not, for they say and do not".
He does not speak with infallible words except in matters of faith, which includes morals. He is the spokesman for Christ on earth, and Christ's power cannot be limited to the sanctity of any individual man.
OFFICE NOT MAN
The best example of this is in the year 536 AD. Pope Agapetus went to Constantinople to ask the Emperor Justinian not to attack Italy. A priest named Vigilius went with the Pope. The Emperor's wife believed in the monophysite heretics of whom the Bishop Anthimius of Constantinople was one. Agapetus realized Anthimius, the bishop of Constantinople, was a heretic and excommunicated him immediately. Almost as instantly, Pope Agapetus mysteriously died.
Before returning to Rome, Vigilius met with Theodora, and received from her the promise of the papacy if he would help her. That Vigilius and Theodora were behind the death of Pope Agapetus is not argued by anyone. But instead, Silverius was elected Pope. Queen Theodora demanded of Silverius the restoration of Anthimius as the Bishop of Constantinople but Silverius refused.
Pope Silverius was sent into exile and Vigilius was declared Pope by the army and therefore became an anti-pope. By 538 Silverius died of starvation and Vigilius was recognized as Pope because the clergy of Rome feared that anyone else would die like Silverius.
However, the minute Vigilius (the man who helped in the death of a Pope and the man who helped exile the next Pope) had hands laid on him giving him Christ's power of faith, he too refused to approve the heresy. And in answer to Theodora's threats he said,
"Far be it from me, Lady Augusta. Formerly I spoke wrongly and foolishly, now I assuredly refuse to restore a man who is a heretic (Anthimius). Though unworthy, I am Vicar of Blessed Peter the Apostle, as were my predecessors, the holy Agapetus and Silverius."
He spent ten years in prison and finally died without giving in to the Emperor.
I will agree that popes and bishops can and have done many bad things. Consider, though, what Christ said to his disciples,
"The Scribes and the Pharisees sat on the chair of Moses. All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do; but according to their works, do not do, for they say, and do not." Matt 23:1-3 And again "He who hears you, hears me." Luke 10:16 or "Obey your prelates, and be subject to them. For they watch, as being to render an account of your souls." Heb. 13:17
We, therefore, must be obedient to all in authority in all things except sin. It is not wrong for me to reprimand even a Pope if his actions are wrong, as Paul did to Peter, but then to test the truth of his preaching (his faith) he went to Peter to have it approved or rejected, "Lest I run in vain." (Gal. 2:2)
This idea of the power of the office and not the man is best shown in the dispute between St. Cyprian and St. Pope Stephen.
In the third century the holy martyr, St. Cyprian, contended (against the holy martyr, Pope Stephen of Rome) that schismatic and heretical bishops and priests could not give an authentic baptism. Pope Stephen held firm that even heretical bishops and priests gave authentic sacraments provided only that they maintained Apostolic Succession, since it is Christ and not the priest who administers the Sacraments. Saint Cyprian had seven councils and as many as 380 bishops agreeing with his position.
Pope Stephen had to excommunicate St. Cyprian and over 90 other bishops before they agreed with his conclusion and reconciled themselves with the Church.
Why was this so important that a Pope had to excommunicate a saint? What is Apostolic Succession? Does Pope St. Stephen's position come from the Bible?
Because the gifts of the Holy Spirit do not depend on the grace inside a man. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are listed in 1 Corinthians 12:29-31 and are not the fruits of the Holy Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Gifts are gifts and do not depend on the cooperation from man. Solomon received the gift of wisdom and never lost it in his entire life, in spite of the fact that he became a very sinful man. Judas Iscariot received the power of the Holy Spirit to cast out demons ( Matt. 10:4 ) but he himself had a devil. Simon Magus (Acts 8:13) became a Christian but was a type of antichrist. Regarding the gift of prophesy, the Bible records an ass, demons, and the high priest Caiphas prophesying properly. ( John 18:14 )
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are the works of Christ. The gifts of the Sacraments - Baptism, Marriage, Holy Orders, Receiving of the Holy Spirit, Forgiveness of Sins, Anointing of the Sick, the Changing of Bread and Wine into the Real Body, Soul, and Divinity of Christ - are the works of Christ through the hands of the priest. See John 4:1, "Jesus made more disciples and baptized more than John (though Jesus himself did not baptize, but his disciples)." It was Jesus who baptized (John 1:33), not the disciples, but it was the disciples hands.
A priest is a priest if a bishop imposes his hands upon him. A bishop is a bishop if a bishop (who has a direct line back to the Apostles ) imposes his hands upon him. This is Apostolic Succession as shown in Acts 13:3 and 1 Tim 4:14.
These priests and bishops have the power of Christ in their hands even if they have lost their faith.
The Pope is the Vicar of Christ on earth because Christ prayed that his faith would not fail, which he did not do for any other Apostle. Peter, himself, set up the three "Unity" Ecumenical Sees, that all other bishops looked to: Antioch, Alexandria, and Rome. History has shown that the bishops of all these Sees except Rome have had heretical bishops at one time or another. Nevertheless, the reason they were Ecumenical Sees is that Peter founded them.
Let it be noted that Pope Honorius was condemned for holding one of the heretical views of Monothelitism, but this is not what happened at all. Honorius wrote a private letter in which he seemed to hold this view. He made no decision on this view. He cannot be held guilty for not making a decision. In fact, he wanted the issue left unsettled for the time being so that peace in the Church could be restored. Vigilius and Liberius are victums of the same circumstance, guilty for not making a decision.
If Peter's faith would not fail, how do we know that the bishops of Rome are the successors of Peter and that their faith will not fail either? Why did Peter go to Rome since he called it Babylon in 1st Peter? Why was Paul never a Bishop of Rome and yet he went there first and died with Peter? Why were the first 70 Bishops of Rome martyred for the faith and yet they still would not leave Rome?
The answer to these questions is that all of them knew the prophesy of Daniel 2:34 and that the fourth kingdom mentioned was Rome. The stone cut out of a mountain without hands was Christ. The stone would strike the fourth kingdom (Rome) and break it to pieces, and then Christ's kingdom would fill the entire earth (Daniel 2:35- Daniel 2:44) and last forever. They also knew that they would accomplish this by the conversion of the Emperor and not by force, because that is how God saved his people from the first three kingdoms; Babylonian, Persian, and Grecian. All of these Emperors were converted.
IS ROME THE BEAST OF REVELATION?
Understand that, when John wrote Apocalypse or Revelation, he had not yet written his Gospel. Four Christian heresies already existed: Nicolaites (mentioned in Revelation 2:6) claimed direct so-called knowledge from God, Valentinians claimed that God passed through Mary and did not take from her anything, Cerinthus claimed that the Kingdom of God would come in the future based on John's Revelation, and Marcion, the Gnostic, claimed all kinds of other gods.
John wrote his Gospel near the end of his life in order to refute these heresies, and (in fact) called Cerinthus a devil. Consider that he wrote this Gospel after he wrote Revelation and after the fall of Jerusalem, but wrote Revelation before the fall of Jerusalem.
We, in the Catholic Church, are in the Heavenly Kingdom now, not in the future, and we are now in the company of thousands of angels. "But you are come to Mount Sion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the company of many thousands of angels." (Heb.12:22)
Anti-Catholics best attempt to attack the Bride of Christ is in Revelation 17 in which they interpret the seven mountains (Rev 17:9) as the seven hills of Rome. But inadvertently they are right about the beast being Rome, although the seven hills are the seven kings of Rome during the period that Chapter 17 is prophesying (4BC to 70 AD). To understand this chapter, you must understand that John saw and wrote Revelation in 67 AD, three years before the destruction of Jerusalem. The Jews used the Romans to persecute the Christians (Rev 17:6), therefore the harlot (Jerusalem) rides on the back of the beast (the Roman empire) to kill the saints and martyrs.
Then you will see that the beast will hate the harlot and turn on her. (Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, Rev 17:16 and Ezechiel 4-5-6) The Christians will convert the beast. (Constantine the Great, Rev 17:14) Read 18:4 "Go out from her my people, that you may not share in her sins, and that you may not receive of her plagues." (Also in Ezechiel 9:4)
And thus the Christians were warned to leave Jerusalem before 70 AD, and they all fled to the coast's imperial city. Jerusalem was totally destroyed because "in her was found blood of the prophets and of saints." (Rev 18:24)
This is not to say that Revelation does not have a double meaning, for all the prophets say that the Antichrist will come and rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem and sit in it claiming to be the Christ. He will sit on the Dome of the Rock, the Holy of Holies where the Temple of Solomon was, on Latitude - Longitude 666, --- not in Rome.
The best Bible description of the Second Coming of Christ and the Antichrist is by St. Hippolytus in the second century, and he was taught by St. Irenaeus, who was taught by St. Polycarp, who was taught by St. John.
UNITY OF THE TRUTH
God gave us a Church, made us sons of God (Rom 9:26), and told us to obey the Church (Matt 18:17). The Church gave us the Bible to prove the teachings of the Church (Luke 1:4) "That you may know the certainty of the words which you have been instructed" by the Church.
If then the Church is the guardian of the truth, and not the individual who reads the Bible, as Martin Luther claimed, then the Church and only the Church has the right to say what the Bible means, and this interpretation of Scripture must be universal (Catholic) in time (2000 years) and space (worldwide).
It has been. Never in the two-thousand- year history of the Church has she ever changed any interpretation of Scripture, nor has she added or taken away anything. She has held fast to the prayer of Christ at the Last Supper (John 17:21) "That they all may be one." There is only one Church on earth with the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven because to get into Heaven in the sky you must enter the Gate (Christ) on Earth first, with Peter the Gatekeeper.
It is the Church who has the right to interpret because the Church is the universal faith of two thousand years of martyrs, saints, monks, virgins, priests, bishops and popes with only one faith that has never changed.
The Church is like a net cast into the sea of people - full of good fish and bad fish, but the fisherman is Peter who is guided by Christ. So do not blame the net for the actions of the fish. It is the Body of Christ. It is the Bride of Christ. It is the great treasure that is worth all that you own, even your life to belong to.
Before I appeal to tradition, let us look again at Sola Scriptoria. How do you know that Mark, Luke, Matthew, John, Peter, Jude, and James wrote their books? The Bible does not say they wrote them. Did Christ say, Matt 28:18 "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, go therefore and write books and give them to all nations."
No! He did not say that. In fact, nowhere in Scripture did Christ write anything that could be read in the future and nowhere did He tell his followers to write. He told them to make disciples of all nations and these disciples wrote some of the books and these disciples decided to put together a Bible. Why is it that nine of the Apostles never put any of their writings in the Bible? Some of these disciples, however, who never saw Christ but knew the Apostles did write in the Bible: Luke, Mark; some who saw Christ and the Apostles wrote but it was not included in the Bible: Polycarp, Barnabas; some knew the Apostles and wrote but never saw Christ: Hermas, Justin Martyr, Philo, Clement of Rome, Papias, and Quadriatus.
Why were some of the disciples who never saw Christ placed in the Canonical Books, but others who saw Christ or who were even Apostles not placed in the Canonical Books? The Bible comes from the living Church, the Church does not come from the Bible, therefore even Protestants appeal to tradition.
THE POPE & THE 2ND & 3RD CENTURIES
In tradition we have what the followers of the Apostles believed and what they taught, especially what they taught regarding the interpretation of the Scriptures. This is especially important for they were taught by the Apostles themselves.
Who, then, do we have in the second century after the last Apostle died who left us anything in writing? First of all, we have Historical writings from St. Jerome, who lists all the writings that he personally had read in the Fifth Century to help him compose the First Complete Bibles. He first lists the nine writers of the New Testament and then lists Sts. Hermas, Philo Judaeus, Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Josephus, Justin of Tiberias, Clemens of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Papias, Quadratus, Aristides the philosopher, and Agrippa Castor as writers that lived in at least part of the First Century and, in most cases, knew one or more of the Apostles.
In the Second Century he lists Sts. Hegesippus the historian, Justin the Philosopher, Melito the Bishop, Theophilus the Bishop, Apollinaris the Bishop, Dionysius the Bishop, Pinytus the Bishop, Tatian the Heresiarch, Phillip the Bishop, Musanus, Modestus, Bardesanes, Victor the Bishop, Irenaeus the Bishop, Pantaenus the Philosopher, Rhodo, Clemens the priest, Miltiades, Apollonius, Serapion, Apollonius the senator, Theophilus, Gaccylus, Polycrates, Heraclitur, Maximus, Candidus, Appion, Sextus, Araboamis, Judas and Tertullian the priest.
Now! Don't be frightened. I'm not going to quote from all these writers. Many of their writings do not exist anymore anyway, but this is a good reason to trust Sts. Jerome and Augustine (who we will talk about later) who did have access to all these writings.
We must reject some of the writings that existed at the time as being frauds, such as the Acts of Peter, the Gospel of Peter, Peter's Revelation, Peter's Judgment, etc.
Then we must consider what writings are appropriate to our subject, the Pope of Rome and the Catholic Church.
Many Eastern Catholics believed that the Book of Hermas called the "Pastor" should have been part of the Bible. In fact, a Bible recently found in a monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai has it in it.
St. Philo may have written the most of the early writers but almost all is lost. He was an Alexandrian Jew who followed Mark, the Evangelist, and is often compared to Plato in logical genius.
Josephus was the son of Matthias, priest of Jerusalem and historian for the Emperors. His writings are invaluable to historians, since he was not a Christian, not a real Roman, and not a real Jew. He will be mostly known for his description of the destruction of Jerusalem.
Clement, the Bishop of Rome, and companion of Peter for many years, wrote to the Church of the Corinthians which for many years was considered part of the Bible.
Ignatius of Antioch, third after Peter, wrote to the Ephesians, the Romans, the Smyrneans, and to Polycarp on his way to the wild beasts at Rome.
Polycarp, the disciple of the Apostle John and first Bishop of Smyrna, was the chief bishop of all Asia. He wrote to the Philippians on his march to the lions of Rome.
Papias, the student of John, the Apostle, wrote five volumes on the words of Christ.
Justin, the philosopher, wrote to two Emperors of Rome and the Senate. Martyred in 167 AD.
Victor, Bishop of Rome, in 190 wrote on the Paschal Controversy.
Irenaeus of Lyons, and disciple of Polycarp, wrote five books.
Clements of Alexandria, dean of the school of Alexandria and teacher of Origen, wrote volumes on Scripture.
From all of these writings we find very little in the end of the first century and the second century that help us in our subject, the Pope of Rome. What we do find is in favor of the position that the Pope of Rome is the head of the entire Church of the World. We find nothing that contradicts this. What I want to address, though, is why so little is said.
First of all, if you read all these writings they are all in answer to questions and controversies. Since, in those days, all they knew were kings, emperors, and high priests, it was only the natural thing to have a single head of the Church. If there was no single head of the Church, would not someone ask, why not? If they did not ask, "why not?" It must be assumed that they knew who it was and accepted it without question or controversy.
Next, history tells us that the Jews and Romans were trying to exterminate all Christians, especially the leaders. It is known that the Romans would have done anything to capture Polycarp since he was the spiritual leader of all the world. All the Bishops of Rome were martyred in the first three centuries, even though those Christians kept it a top secret that they were the real leaders of the Universal Christian Church.
All letters in those days were subject to being intercepted by the Romans or the Jews. What would you have felt comfortable in writing?
Now lets take the writings in hand and look at them. First, lets look at St. Clement of Rome's epistle to the Corinthians, since it is the oldest letter not in the Bible, and he knew Peter, Mark, Paul, Luke, and Barnabus.
The letter was written about the year 96 AD. John, the Apostle, was still living, since Jerome states that he died 67 years after Christ's ascension or 100 AD. The letter was written from Rome to the Christians at Corinth in Asia in response to a letter written by them asking for his help. "--- turning our attention to the points respecting which you consulted us." There was an insurrection against the bishop in Corinth. Why did the Christians appeal all the way to Rome for help, why not Ephesus or Antioch or to John, if in fact he was still living, for he founded the Church of Corinth. There is tradition in the Church that they did go to John and he replied, "Go to Rome for these matters."
Clement responds to their request with this warning, "Take care, beloved, that His blessings, numerous as they are, do not turn to our condemnation ---." If he is just a fellow bishop helping a fellow bishop, why should they fear his condemnation? Again Clement states, "But should any disobey what has been said by Him through us, let them understand that they will entangle themselves in transgression and no small danger."
"By Him, Christ, through Us"? Clement sent representatives - Claudius Ephebus and Valerius Bito and Fortunatur - with this letter to settle the dispute. It is clearly stating here that to disobey these spokesmen of the Pope is to disobey Christ, Himself.
Clement reminds the Corinthians of what happened to Aaron and Miriam for envying the authority of Moses, and goes on to say, "These things, beloved, we write to you, not merely to admonish you of your duty, but to remind ourselves (of our duty)."
And then chapter after chapter he speaks of obedience using the Old Testament saints as examples, and then paraphrases Paul. The head is nothing without the feet, and the feet are nothing without the head --- and are under one common rule for the preservation of the whole body.
Then he ends by saying, "You certainly will give us the keenest pleasure if you prove obedient to what we have written through the Holy Spirit."
Obedient to the Holy Spirit? What more can I say regarding this Letter, only that I have read the explanation of the theologians from the Oxford University and the theologians from the Orthodox regarding this Epistle. Read them all and judge for yourselves.
The next writing I would like to point out is that of Ignatius, written to the Church at Ephesus and their bishop, Onesimus, while he was bound from Syria to the beasts at Rome where he died on December 20, 107 AD. To the Ephesians he exhorted them to be subject to their bishop and those "who are joined to him as the Church is to Jesus Christ, and as Jesus Christ is to the Father, that so all things may agree in UNITY. LET NO MAN DECEIVE HIMSELF; IF ANY ONE BE NOT WITHIN THE ALTAR, HE IS DEPRIVED OF THE BREAD OF GOD. FOR IF THE PRAYER OF ONE OR TWO POSSESSES SUCH POWER, HOW MUCH MORE THAT OF THE BISHOP AND THE WHOLE CHURCH. - FOR HE THAT IS SUBJECT TO THESE IS OBEDIENT TO CHRIST, WHO HAS APPOINTED THEM; BUT HE THAT IS DISOBEDIENT TO THESE IS DISOBEDIENT TO CHRIST JESUS. And again, "We should look upon the bishop even as we would look upon the Lord Himself, standing, as he does, before the Lord." And finally on the same subject he states, "There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all."
And so, his dying words are for unity of the whole Church, through unity with the local bishop. Later I will show how this is in strict harmony with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
But I cannot resist adding a statement by Ignatius regarding "Filoque".
"But the Holy Spirit does not speak His own things, but those of Christ, and that not from himself, but from the Lord; even as the Lord also announced to us the things that He received from the Father. For, says He, 'the word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me.' And He says of Himself to the Father, 'I have glorified You upon the earth; I have finished the work which You gave Me; I have manifested Your name to men.' And of the Holy Spirit, 'He shall glorify me, for He receives of Mine."
On this same trip to Rome bound in chains he also writes to the Magnesians, using Soloman, Josiah, and Samuel as examples of those who were spokesmen for God: "They have not mocked you, (Samuel), but Me." And Moses declares, "For their murmuring is not against us, but against the Lord God." Then he uses Dathan, Abiram, Korah, Absalom, Uzziah, and even Saul as examples of what happens to people who did not reverence their superiors.
"Those who indeed talk of the bishop, but do all things without him, will He who is the true and first Bishop, and the only High Priest by nature, declare, 'Why call Me Lord, and do not the things which I say?' --- be subject to the bishop, and to one another, as Christ to the Father, that there may be a unity according to God among you."
Again on the same trip to the lions, he gives the same will and testament to the Trallians about obedience to the bishop, but gives an amazing testimony of himself. "I, though I am bound for Christ, and am able to understand heavenly things, the angelic orders, and the different sorts of angels and hosts, the distinctions between powers and dominions, and the diversities between thrones and authorities, the mightiness of the Eons, and the pre-eminence of the cherubim and seraphim, the sublimity of the spirit, the kingdom of the Lord, and above all, the incomparable majesty of Almighty God.
He then refutes the heresies of Simon Magus, Menager, Basilides, Nicolaitanes, Theodotus and Cleobulus mostly regarding the Body of Christ being truly God.
To the Philadelphians "The Spirit made an announcement to me, saying as follows: Do nothing without the bishop; keep your bodies as the temples of God; love unity; avoid division; be followers of Paul, and the rest of the apostles, even as they also were of Christ."
What Bishop? What Bishop did Paul and the rest of the Apostles do nothing without? What Bishop holds unity, prevents division? What Bishop does the Spirit say to never do anything without his leadership? Arius? Nestorius? Meletius?
To the Smyrnaeans, the Church of his friend, Polycarp, he writes, "Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church." And "He who does anything without the knowledge of the bishop, does serve the devil." And "He who presumes to do anything without the bishop, thus both destroying the Church unity, and throwing its order into confusion."
Ignatius wrote to his friend Polycarp, "It is fitting, O Polycarp, most blessed in God, to assemble a very solemn council, and to elect one who you greatly love" to replace Ignatius at Antioch.
Now to the Church of Rome, which he is about to enter, what advice does he give to them as his last will and testament? None!
"You have never envied anyone; you have taught others, now I desire that those things may be confirmed which in your instructions you have ordered." Ignatius, friend of Polycarp and John, the Apostle, claims that his desire is that the instructions of the Bishop of Rome is confirmed.
"I am the wheat of God, and ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of God." And so he was martyred.
St. Papias, an ancient man, who was a hearer of John and a friend of Polycarp, wrote on the Perpetual Virginity of Mary and the authors of the Gospels.
Polycarp, (my favorite saint) also wrote on his way to the lions at Rome. But he gives no help to our subject since his concerns were false doctrine, especially of one of his priests, Valens.
Now we come to Justin Martyr, the founder of theological philosophy. He spent time learning in Ephesus and in Rome and probably knew many of the above saints. Before converting to Christ he was high up in the Roman Government and a disciple of Socrates and Plato. After his conversion he wrote to the Emperor Titus Augustus Caesar and to the Senate explaining Christianity and how demons have imitated it since Abraham.
In his dialogue with the Jew, Trypho, he shows why the Jews did not recognize Christ because they confused the First and Second Coming of Christ into one event, therefore preparing the way for the Antichrist. He also shows how they corrupted the Scriptures after the seventy elders translated the Scriptures into Greek for King Ptolemy of the Egyptians. He then tells the Jew how Malachi's prophecy is fulfilled in the Eucharist.
In his "First Book Against Heresies" he states: "The Church having received this preaching and this faith, although scattered throughout the whole world, yet, as if occupying but one house, carefully preserves it. She also believes these points of doctrine just as if she had but one soul, and one and the same heart, and she proclaims them, and teaches them, and hands them down, with perfect harmony, as if she possessed only one mouth: in Germany, Spain, Gaul, the East, Egypt, Libya, and in the central regions of the world, Palestine."
In "Book III Against Heresies" we read:
"BY INDICATING THAT TRADITION DERIVED FROM THE APOSTLES, OF THE VERY GREAT, THE VERY ANCIENT, AND UNIVERSALLY KNOWN CHURCH FOUNDED AND ORGANIZED AT ROME BY THE TWO MOST GLORIOUS APOSTLES, PETER AND PAUL; AS ALSO THE FAITH PREACHED TO MEN, WHICH COMES DOWN TO OUR TIME BY MEANS OF THE SUCCESSIONS OF THESE BISHOPS. FOR IT IS A MATTER OF NECESSITY THAT EVERY CHURCH SHOULD AGREE WITH THIS CHURCH, ON ACCOUNT OF ITS PREEMINENT AUTHORITY, THAT IS, THE FAITHFUL EVERYWHERE, INASMUCH AS THE APOSTOLIC TRADITION HAS BEEN PRESERVED CONTINUOUSLY BY THOSE WHO EXIST EVERYWHERE." Irenaeus then lists the Popes from Peter to his time.
Then he states, "By this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us."
"This is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth."
Lest anyone misunderstand Irenaeus, he gives an example that we should all listen to.
"Suppose there arise a dispute relative to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient Churches with which the apostles held constant intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question?
"For where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; and where the Spirit of God is; there is the Church, and every kind of grace; but the Spirit is truth." Which means there is no Holy Spirit outside the Church (which we will deal with in Section Six on "Fruits").
"Hold in suspicion others who depart from the primitive succession, and assemble themselves together in any place whatsoever, looking upon them either as heretics of perverse minds, or as schismatics those who pull asunder, and separate the unity of the Church shall receive from God the same punishment Jeroboam did."
I believe that not only those who caused the divisions in the Church but even those who are complacent or content with them are in danger of punishment.
Everyone should read about the Tower in the Pastor of Hermas to understand how important belonging to the Universal Church is.
Of no small importance to the Second Century were two disputes over the observance of Easter. One was between Polycarp and the Bishop of Rome, Anicetus. Polycarp went to Rome and peace was made between them. The second dispute came between Polycrates of Asia and the Bishop of Rome, Victor. Victor wanted the same as Anicetus, that Easter be observed on the same day throughout the world. When Polycrates and the rest of the Asian Bishops would not listen, he excommunicated all of them. Irenaeus brought peace between the Asian bishops and Rome and peace was kept. However, it must not be forgotten that no one questioned Anicetus' or Victor's right and power to excommunicate bishops anywhere in the world.
After Victor's martyrdom came Pope Zephyrinus ( 210 AD), and in his letter to all the Bishops of Egypt he states:
"So great trust have we received from the Lord, the Founder of this holy seat and of the apostolic church, and from the blessed Peter, chief of the apostles, that we may labor with unwearied affection for the universal Church. --- It has been reported at the seat of the apostles by your delegates that certain of our brethren, bishops to wit, are being expelled from their churches ---"
Then he lays down the law on the rights of bishops. Of interest here is that he called his seat the seat of the Universal Church, and that bishops in Egypt sent letters and delegates to him to solve a problem in Egypt among bishops.
The next Pope is Callistus from 218 to 223 AD. He writes to Bishop Benedictus the following:
"By the love of the brotherhood we are bound, and by our apostolic rule we are constrained, to give answer to the inquiries of the brethren, according to what the Lord has given us, and to furnish them with the authority of the seal of the apostles. --- "
(He then decrees laws on fasting and adds) "For it is not meet for the members to be at variance with the head; but, according to the testimony of sacred Scripture, all the members should follow the head. It is matter of doubt, moreover, to no one, that the church of the apostles is the mother of all the churches, from whose ordinances it is not right that you should deviate to any extent. And as the Son of God came to do the Father's will, so shall ye fulfill the will of your mother, which is the Church, the head of which, as has been stated already, is the church of Rome. Wherefore, whatsoever may be done against the discipline of this church, without the decision of justice, cannot on any account be permitted to be held valid."
He reminds them that a decision under the fear or by the command of a prince cannot be valid. He then states:
"I am mindful that I preside over the Church under the name of him whose confession was honored by our Lord Jesus Christ, and whose faith ever destroys all errors. And I understand that I am not at liberty to act otherwise than to expend all my efforts on that cause in which the well-being of the universal Church is at stake. --- For all things cannot otherwise be safe, unless, as far as pertains to the service of the divine office, sacerdotal authority upholds them."
He then writes a letter to all the bishops of Gaul:
"Supported by our authority, check what is injurious, and prohibit what is unlawful. (He goes on to note that he has heard that people are conspiring against their bishops, and even bishops against bishops and so he lays down the law.) "Let no one, again, trespass upon the boundaries of another --- pass not the ancient landmarks which your fathers have set. Moreover, let no primate or metropolitan invade the church or parish of a diocesan, or presume to excommunicate or judge anyone belonging to his parish, or do anything without his counsel or judgment; but let him observe this law, which has been laid down by the apostles and fathers, and our predecessors, and has been ratified by us: to wit, that if any metropolitan bishop, except in that which pertains to his own proper parish alone, shall attempt to do anything without the counsel and good will of all the provincial bishops, he will do it at the risk of his position, and what he does in this manner shall be held null and void. --- No primate, no metropolitan, nor any of the other bishops, is at liberty to enter the seat of another --- But if he presume to do otherwise, he shall be condemned. --- For if a man has no power to appoint, how shall he judge. --- And those who hold this opinion are not only in error, but also seem to dispute and act in opposition to the power of the keys committed to the Church, whereof it is said: "Whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven."
Pope Callistus lays down the law that not even a Metropolitan Bishop can cross over into the geographical territory of another bishop, but that he, Callistus, and he alone has the power to judge, since he has the power to appoint the bishops.
The next Pope after Callistus in 224 AD was Pope Urban, and in his letter to all Christians all over the world, he lays down the law regarding the property of the Church and the authority of the bishops and the vow of poverty, and the laying on of hands.
By what right has the Bishop of Rome to lay down the law to all Christians all over the world without even a council? Why did not one bishop dispute this claim?
Well! I guess it was common for the Bishop of Rome to do just that because in 236 AD Pope Fabian again wrote to all the bishops "in all regions" of the whole world.
"Whence it follows that you ought to know what is being done in things sacred in the church of Rome, in order that, by following her example, you may be found to be true children of her who is called your mother." Then he tells them what Rome does regarding deacons, subdeacons and acolytes, tells them to do the same, and adds, "whatsoever things are written in truth in our times, are directed to the learning of future times." Fabian then writes regarding a heretic who came out of Africa condemning the teachings of bishops, and warns all the world about him. "Hence by apostolic authority, and in agreement with all the sons of the same apostolic and universal Church, we resolve that all who come under suspicion with respect to the Catholic faith cannot be admitted as accusers of those who hold the true creed."
"Whence also the blessed chief of the apostles, Peter, addressing the people at the ordination of Clement, says this among other things: 'If this Clement is hostile to any one on account of his deeds, wait not for his saying directly to you, be not on terms of friendship with his enemy. But mark carefully his will as you ought to, and second it without need of direct injunction; and separate yourselves from that man to whom you perceive him to be inimical, and speak not with those with whom he speaks not, in order that every one who may be in fault, as he desires to possess the friendship of all of you, may be zealous in effecting a reconciliation all the more quickly with him who presides over all, so that he may return to spiritual well-being hereby, when he begins to yield obedience to the charges of the president.
If, however, any one is not friendly (with Clement), and speaks with those with whom his chief speaks not, such a one belongs to those who seek to exterminate the Church of God; and though he seems to be with you in body, he is against you in mind and heart. And such a one is a much more dangerous enemy than those who are outside, and who are openly hostile. For this man under the guise of friendship acts the part of an enemy, and scatters and ruins the church. And therefore, dearly beloved, in these apostolic institutes we warn and teach you, that your charity, being instructed here, may hereafter study to act with greater care and prudence."
Let me repeat this. Pope Fabian, in the year 236 AD, the year of his ordination, quotes Peter at the ordination of St. Clement and in Peter's own words calls him the president who presides over all. But if you are continuous about this, since the list of Popes of Rome does not place Clement after Peter, listen to the words of Rufinus written in about 395 AD.
"There is a letter in which this same Clement writing to James, the Lord's brother, gives an account of the death of Peter, and says that he has left him as his successor, as ruler and teacher of the Church; and further incorporates a whole scheme of ecclesiastical government. This I have not prefixed to the work, both because it has been previously translated and published by me. Nevertheless, there is a point which would perhaps seem inconsistent with facts were I to place the translation of it in this work, but which I do not consider to involve an impossibility. It is this:
"Linus and Cletus were Bishops of the city of Rome before Clement. How, then, some men ask, can Clement in his letter to James say that Peter passed over to him his position as a church teacher? The explanation of this point, as I understand, is as follows.
"Linus and Cletus were, no doubt, Bishops in the city of Rome before Clement, but this was in Peter's lifetime; that is, they took charge of the Episcopal work, while he discharged the duties of the apostolate. He is known to have done the same thing at Caesarea; for there, though he was himself on the spot, yet he had at his side Zacchaeus whom he had ordained as Bishop. Thus we may see how both things may be true; namely how they stand as predecessors of Clement in the list of Bishops, and yet how Clement after the death of Peter became his successor in the teacher's chair. But it is time that we should pay attention to the beginning of Clement's own narrative, which he addresses to James, the Lord's brother."
There are also those who believe that both Linus and Cletus died before Peter died and therefore Clement filled a vacant seat by direct order of Peter just before his martyrdom; and there are others who believe that Linus and Cletus were only coadjutors of the Apostle during his lifetime, and that Clement was the only and second Bishop of Rome. But let us get on with Pope Fabian in 236 AD.
"Fabian, bishop of the city of Rome, to all the bishops of the East, and to the whole body of the faithful --- Your love for the seat of the apostles requires counsels which we neither can nor ought to deny you." The bishops of the East wanted to know if it was allowed by the Church to adopt a different practice to prepare the chrism at the Lord's Supper every year, which some bishops were doing and Fabian said they were in error. The next question the bishops wanted a decision on was the method of accusing priests or bishops of wrong doings, and he answers:
"In like manner we decree and ordain by apostolic authority, that the flock should not dare to bring a charge against their pastor, to whose care they had been consigned, unless he falls into error in the faith. --- if a bishop should happen to err from the faith, he should in the first place be corrected privately by those placed under him. And if he show himself incorrigible (which may God forbid), then an accusation should be laid against him before his primates, or before the seat of the apostles."
In a third letter to Bishop Hilary he decrees, resolves, prohibits, and then adds that all bishops who are accused by other bishops shall have the right of appeal. Appeal to whom?
"It is determined, moreover, that, in the case of an accused bishop appealing to the seat of the apostles, that should be held to be settlement which is the decision of the pontiff of that seat."
THE POPE & THE 4th & 5th CENTURIES
In the third and fourth centuries so much happens that it should be a book in itself. Some peace came to the Christians at the turn of the Century. Origen began to teach at Alexandria. Narcissus became known throughout the world for his miracles. Philip, the Christian, became the Roman Emperor. Then Decius became Emperor and started the persecutions all over again.
A priest named Novatus started the heresy called Cathari and was excommunicated by Cornelius, Bishop of Rome.
Cyprian of Carthage held a council in 255 and by unanimous consent of almost 200 Bishops declared that heretics coming back to the Church must be re-baptized. Stephen became Bishop of Rome in 254, and receiving the report of the Council of Carthage, had his own Council in Rome and reported to Cyprian that the baptism of heretics was valid if done with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Cyprian again had a council, in fact, three. All bishops in the East agreed with Cyprian. But Stephen would not budge and Cyprian would not budge. Finally Stephen excommunicated Cyprian and all the bishops with him.
Dionysius wrote letters to everyone of any importance and in the end peace was restored, and to this day converts do not have to be re-baptized. Both Stephen and Cyprian were martyred and are considered by all churches as saints.
The fact is that, in spite of all the bishops of the Eastern and African world wanting one thing and the Bishop of Rome holding firm, Rome not only prevailed but proved correct in the long run, since it is not the state of the soul of a man that makes a sacrament work, but the inward work of Christ in the outward signs of the sacrament.
In his defense, St. Cyprian had received a miraculous Baptism in which he went from a great lover of drink and money to a complete saint overnight. He also had defended the Bishop of Rome when a false bishop tried to take over. In his letter to Pope Cornelius he states in part:
"Our fellow-bishops, who were present at your ordination, in order that, when they came and reported the truth of the matter --- [Why would the Bishop of Carthage send bishops to the ordination of a Bishop of Rome?] --- be aware that it is impiety to forsake their Mother; and to acknowledge and understand that when a bishop is made and approved by the testimony and judgment of his colleagues and the people, another can by no means be appointed. Thus, if they consult their own interest peaceably and faithfully, if they confess themselves to be maintainers of the Gospel of Christ, they must return to the Church."
This letter by St. Cyprian will become important in our review of the first Councils.
St. Cyprian of Carthage loved and believed in the unity of the Church more than any single belief on his part, so he made peace and wrote:
"But if anyone considers those things carefully, he will need no long discourse or arguments. The proof is simple and convincing, being summed up in a matter of fact. The Lord says to Peter: 'I say to you, that you art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not overcome it. I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And what you shall bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven.'
"It is on one man that He builds the Church, and although He assigns a like power to all the Apostles after His resurrection, saying: 'As the Father sent Me, I also send you Receive the Holy Spirit: if you forgive any man his sins, they shall be forgiven him; but if you retain any man's sins, they shall be retained' yet, in order that the oneness might be unmistakable, He established by His own authority a source for that oneness having its origin in one man alone. No doubt the other Apostles were all that Peter was, endowed with equal dignity and power, but the start comes from him alone, in order to show that the Church of Christ is unique. Indeed this oneness of the Church is figured in the Canticle of Canticles when the Holy Spirit speaking in Our Lord's name, says: One is my dove, my perfect one: to her mother she is the only one, the darling of her womb.' If a man does not hold fast to this oneness of the Church, does he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he resists and withstands the Church, has he still confidence that he is in the Church, when the blessed Apostle Paul gives us this very teaching and points to the mystery of Oneness, saying: One body and one Spirit, one hope of you calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God?
"Now this oneness we must hold to firmly and insist on ---especially we who are bishops and exercise authority in the Church ---so as to demonstrate that the Episcopal power is one and undivided too. Let none mislead the brethren with a lie, let none corrupt the true content of the faith by a faithless perversion of the truth. The authority of the bishops forms a unity, of which each holds his part in its totality, and the Church forms a unity, however far she spreads and multiplies by the progeny of her fecundity; just as the sun's rays are many, yet the strength deriving from its sturdy root is one. So too, though many streams flow from a single spring, though its multiplicity seems scattered abroad by the copiousness of its welling waters, yet their oneness abides by reason of their starting point. Cut off one of the sun's rays --- the unity of that body permits no such division of its light; break off a branch from the tree, it can bud no more; dam off a stream from its source, it dries up below the cut. So too, Our Lord's Church is radiant with light and pours her rays over the whole world; but it is one and the same light which is spread everywhere, and the unity of her body suffers no division. --- The spouse of Christ cannot be defiled. She in inviolate and chaste; she knows one home alone; in all modesty she keeps faithfully to one only couch. It is she who rescues us for God, she who seals for the kingdom the sons whom she has borne. Whoever breaks with the Church and enters on an adulterous union cuts himself off from the promises made to the Church; and he who has turned his back on the Church of Christ shall not come to the rewards of Christ: he is an alien, a worlding, an enemy. YOU CANNOT HAVE GOD FOR YOUR FATHER IF YOU HAVE NOT THE CHURCH FOR YOUR MOTHER.
"If there was escape for anyone who was outside the ark of Noe, there is escape too for one who is found to be outside the Church. Our Lord warns us when He says: 'He that is not with me is against me, and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.' ---- That man cannot possess the garment of Christ who rends and divides the Church of Christ. ---- Let no one think that good men can leave the Church; it is not the grain that the wind carries away, not the solidly rooted tree that the storm blows down; it is the empty chaff that is swept away by the storm, the weakling trees that are overturned by the blast of the whirlwind. On these men fall the curse and the rod of John the Apostle when he says: 'They went out from us, but they were not of us. For if they had been of us, they would have stayed with us.
"God is one, and Christ is one, and His Church is one; one is the faith, and one the people cemented together by harmony into the strong unity of a body. That unity cannot be split; that one body cannot be divided by any cleavage of its structure, nor cut up in fragments with its vitals torn apart. Nothing that is separated from the parent stock can ever live or breathe apart; all hope of its salvation is lost "
Lactantius (260-330) wrote the Divine Institutes. In them he writes: "It is the Catholic Church alone which retains true worship. This is the fountain of truth, this is the abode of the faith, this is the temple of God; into which if any one shall not enter, or from which if any shall go out, he is estranged from the hope of life and eternal salvation."
The Fourth Century is the century of Councils, and in 325 we have the Council of Nicaea which we will hold until another talk.
St. Gregory the Great, writes: "For Our Lord's prayer must be carried out. It is Jesus Who prayed 'Grant that they may be one in us as I and You are one, Father.' For when God, Who is one, is in each, He makes all one; and number is lost in the indwelling of Unity."
To the Emperor Julian the Apostate, a type of antichrist, Gregory wrote: "I am living, O evil thinker, in the desert in which the Lord lived. Here is the oak of Mamre; here is the ladder going up to heaven, and the stronghold of the angels which Jacob saw; here is the wilderness in which the people purified received the law, and so came into the land of promise and saw God."
Writing to St. Athanasius of Alexandria during the rein of Julian, he complained about Pope Julius of Rome not condemning Marcellus who was just as much in heresy to the right as Arius was to the left.
"It has seemed to me to be desirable to send a letter to the bishop of Rome, begging him to examine our condition, and since there are difficulties in the way of representatives being sent from the West by a general synodical decree, to advise him to exercise his own personal authority in the matter by choosing suitable persons to sustain the labors of a journey, suitable, too, by gentleness and firmness of character, to correct the unruly among us here. --- A point also that is insisted upon by some of those in these parts."
Athanasius was Bishop of Alexandria, Basil was Bishop of Caesarea; then why would they need Rome to correct the unruly among them? Because the followers of Marcellus were saying that "Rome accepts us" and therefore we do not have to listen to bishops of a lower position.
Again to Pope Damascus, Athanasius writes: "What could be more delightful than to behold all, who are separated by distances so vast, bound together by the union effected by love into one harmony of members in Christ's body. Nearly all the East (I include under this name all the regions from Illyricum to Egypt) is being agitated, right honorable father, by a terrible storm and tempest. The old heresy, sown by Arius the enemy of the truth, has now boldly and unblushingly reappeared. Like some sour root, it is producing its deadly fruit and is prevailing. The reason of this is, that in every district the champions of right doctrine have been exiled from their Churches by calumny and outrage, and the control of affairs has been handed over to men who are leading captive the souls of the simpler brethren. I have looked upon the visit of your mercifulness as the only possible solution of our difficulties."
Athanasius goes on to ask Pope Gregory to at least send representatives to see who in the future he should hold communion with.
Now, make any other logic out of this if you can. Julian, the Apostate Emperor, in order to destroy the unity of the Church, was exiling Catholic Bishops and putting Arians in their place. Think about this! Athanasius was bishop of Alexandria and Basil was bishop of Caesarea, both were metropolitan cities, and Alexandria was a Patriarchal See. Why would St. Basil, the Great, need the Pope of Rome as the only possible solution, or if because of the danger involved he could not come, why was it important who he [the Pope] held communion with?
Because everyone knew one thing for sure: where the Pope of Rome is, there is the Catholic Church. It did not matter what the two greatest theologians in their day said, because all the people knew that what Rome said is all that really counted.
Extrapolate something else, but remember, if all bishops are equal, and these two are the greatest minds of their time, why Rome?
Go again to Basil's letter to Count Terentius, where he counts the dangers of the heresies from the right and the left, and then he warns:
"Nevertheless, there is one point which I should like to have pressed on your excellency, that you and all who like you care for the truth, and honor the combatant in the cause of true religion, ought to wait for the lead to be taken in bringing about this union and peace by the foremost authorities in the Church, whom I count as pillars and foundations of the truth and of the Church."
What authorities? What pillars of truth?
In Anthanasius' "Apologia Contra Arianos" he writes: "Eusebius and his fellows wrote also to Julius (Pope of Rome) and thinking to frighten me, requested him to call a council, and to be himself the judge, if he so pleased. When therefore I went to Rome, Julius wrote to Eusebius and his fellows as was suitable, and sent moreover two of his own presbyters, Elpidius and Philoxenus. But they, when they heard of me, were thrown into confusion, as not expecting my going up thither; and they declined the proposed Council, alleging unsatisfactory reasons for so doing, but in truth they were afraid lest the things should be proved against them which Valens and Ursacius afterwards confessed. However, more than fifty Bishops assembled, in the place where the Presbyter Vito held his congregation; and they acknowledged my defense, and gave me the confirmation both of their communion and their love."
If the Pope of Rome was not the last word in matters of who was in communion with, or not in communion with the Church, why would this frighten Anthanasius?
Julius, Pope of Rome, then wrote to the Arians: "Now if you (the Arians) really believe that all Bishops have the same and equal authority and you do not, as you assert, account of them according to the magnitude of their cities; he that is entrusted with a small city ought to abide in the place committed to him, and not from disdain of his trust to remove to one that has never been put under him; despising that which God has given him, and making much of the vain applause of men. --- And all the Bishops of Egypt and Libya wrote and protested that his ordination (Athanasius) was strictly ecclesiastical --- (Athanasius) continued here a year and six months, expecting the arrival of yourselves and of whoever chose to come, and by his presence he put everyone to shame, for he would not have been here, had he not felt confident in his cause; and he came not of his own accord, but on an invitation by letter from us - what canon of the Church, or what Apostolical tradition warrants this, that when a Church was at peace, and so many Bishops were in unanimity with Athanasius as the Bishop of Alexandria, Gregory should be sent thither, a stranger to the city, not having been baptized there, nor known to the general body, and desired neither by priest, nor Bishops, nor Laity - that he should be appointed to Antioch, and sent to Alexandria, accompanied not by priests, nor by deacons of the city, nor by bishops of Egypt, but by soldiers?
"For not only the Bishops Athanasius and Marcellus and their fellows came here and complained of the injustice that had been done to them, but many other Bishops also, from Thrace, from Coele-Syria, from Phoinicia and Palestine, and Priests, not a few, and others from Alexandria and from other parts, were present at the Council here - lately came priests with letters from Egypt and Alexandria, who complained that many Bishops and priests who wished to come to the Council were prevented. - nearly all the Clergy of the Catholic Church with the people are the objects of plots and persecutions.
"And why was nothing said to us concerning the Church of the Alexandrians in particular? Are you ignorant that the custom has been for word to be written first to us, and then for a just decision to be passed from this place.? If then any such suspicion rested upon the Bishop there, notice thereof ought to have been sent to the Church of this place; whereas, after neglecting to inform us, and proceeding on their own authority as they pleased, now they desire to obtain our concurrence in their decisions, though we never condemned him.
"Not so have the constitutions of Paul, not so have the traditions of the Fathers directed; this is another form of procedure, a novel practice.
"I beseech you, readily bear with me; what I write is for the common good. For what we have received from the blessed Apostle Peter, that I signify to you; and I should not have written this, as deeming that these things were manifest unto all men, had not these proceedings so disturbed us."
The Arians believed that all Bishops have the same and equal authority and, yet, not equal to Rome. All the bishops of Egypt and Libya wrote and protested that Athanasius' ordination was strictly ecclesiastical. Why would they write to Rome informing Rome of the proper ordination?
The bishops and priests went to Rome with the problems. Why? "the custom has been for word to be written first to us, and then for a just decision to be passed from this place. If then any such suspicion rested upon the Bishop there, notice thereof ought to have been sent to the Church of this place; For what we have received from the blessed Apostle Peter, that I signify to you; and I should not have written this, as deeming that these things were manifest unto all men."
The custom has always been ,and it has always been manifest to all men, that on these matters the decision is left to Rome and to Rome only. Why should I go on with my argument? Only because there is so very, very much more.
Think about it! The Emperor of the world was on the side of the Arians, and yet they did all this to get the Pope of Rome to be on their side. Why? Why not just use the Emperor as their authority?
The fact is that eventually the Emperor jailed Pope Liberius and Bishop Hosius of Spain. The Arians said, "If we can persuade Liberius, we shall soon prevail over all." They sent an eunuch to Rome with gifts from the Emperor, "The Emperor wishes it, and commands you to do so - obey the Emperor, and receive these." When Liberius refused the gifts, he went to the tomb of Peter and placed the bribes, but Liberius cast out the gifts as an unlawful sacrifice. The Emperor then jailed Liberius.
While Liberius was in prison, a deacon, Felix, was appointed bishop by the Emperor, but no one would even walk into any Church where he was. Finally Liberius was brought back, and the Emperor wanted two bishops to rule the Church conjointly. But the people ridiculed the edict of the Emperor. They all exclaimed with one voice, "One God, one Christ, one bishop." Felix retired to another city.
In the Ecclesiastical History of Theodoret written in the Fourth Century, in Chapter 17, we read regarding the Synod at Rome:
"First of the Signatories was Damasus, who obtained the presidency of the church of Rome after Liberius," and this Roman Synod wrote to the Bishops who assembled at Ariminum:
"No prejudice could arise from the number of bishops gathered at Ariminum, since it is well known that neither the bishop of the Romans, whose opinion ought before all others to have been waited for, - nor the rest, gave in their adhesion to such doctrine."
John Chrysostom, the man with the golden tongue, speaks of Rome: "I love Rome - it has as two glistening eyes, the bodies of these Saints. Not so bright is the heaven, when the sun sends forth his rays, as is the city of Rome, sending out these two lights into all parts of the world. From there will Paul be caught up, from there Peter. Just think, and shudder at the thought of what a sight Rome will see, when Paul rises suddenly from that grave, together with Peter, and is lifted up to meet the Lord. - for these are the pillars of the Church."
St. John Chrysostom was also exiled by the Arians and appealed to Pope Innocent for help.
Innocent responded: "--- that no one had authority given him to ordain another to take the place of one who was still living. For a spurious ordination cannot deprive the priest of his rank: seeing that neither can he be a bishop who is wrongfully substituted for another. And as regards the observance of the canons we lay it down that we ought to follow those, which were defined at Nicaea, to which alone the Catholic Church is bound to pay obedience and recognition."
Cyril of Jerusalem (318-386) taught at the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem. He too was exiled by the Arians. In his lecture on the Church he writes:
"It is called Catholic because it extends over all the world, from one end of the earth to the other; and because it teaches universally and completely one and all the doctrines which ought to come to men's knowledge, concerning things both visible and invisible, heavenly and earthly; and because it brings into subjection to godliness the whole race of mankind, governors and governed, learned and unlearned; and because it universally treats and heals the whole class of sins, which are committed by soul or body, and possesses in itself every form of virtue which is named, both in deeds and words, and in every kind of spiritual gifts.
"And it is rightly named (Ecclesia - Church) because it calls first and assembles together all men."
Then Cyril cites the only places in Scripture that use the word "Church".
Lev. 7:3, Deut. 4:10, Ps. 35:18, Ps. 68:26
and in Matt. 16:18 "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church."
"For this is the peculiar name of this Holy Church, the mother of us all, which is the spouse of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God (for it is written, as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for it, and all the rest,) and is a figure and copy of Jerusalem which is above, which is free, and the mother of us all; which before was barren, but now has many children."
Regarding the coming of the Antichrist, Cyril quotes Paul (2 Thess 2:3) "For that day shall not come, except there come first the falling away."
This brings us to the end of the Fourth Century, and three men who lived at the same time and who all knew each other: St. Ambrose of Milan, St. Augustine of Hippo, and St. Jerome of Bethlehem.
St. Ambrose: "What fellowship, then, can they have with you, who receive not the keys of the kingdom of heaven, saying that they ought not to remit sins?
"And this confession is indeed rightly made by them, for they have not the succession of Peter, who hold not the chair of Peter, which they rend by wicked schism; and this, too, they do, wickedly denying that sins can be forgiven even in the Church, whereas it was said to Peter: I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven."
St. Jerome (advisor to Popes, advisor in at least two councils, master of many languages, master translator of Scripture, the compiler of the Bible we now use, baptized by Pope Liberius) chose in the long run to go with a blind mystic into the ascetic life in the caves of Bethlehem. There the birth of Christ! There the birth of the Christian Bible!
Letter to Pope Damasus: "I think it my duty to consult the chair of Peter, and to turn to a church whose faith has been praised by Paul. - My words are spoken to the successor of the fisherman, to the disciple of the cross. As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is with the chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the church is built. This is the house where alone the paschal lamb can be rightly eaten. This is the ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails."
In a second letter to Pope Damasus: "He who clings to the chair of Peter is accepted by me."
In a not very friendly letter to the Bishop of Alexandria, he writes: "I thank you for your reminder concerning the canons of the Church - still I would assure you that nothing is more my aim than to maintain the rights of Christ, to keep to the lines laid down by the fathers, and always to remember the faith of Rome, that faith which is praised by the lips of an apostle."
To the bishop of the other Metropolitan See, John of Jerusalem, he writes: "You were not so foolish as to openly defend a heresy which you knew was offensive to the whole world. You knew that if you had done this, you must have been immediately removed, and your heart was upon the pleasures of your Episcopal throne."
Consider that the Council of Nice set out three Metropolitan Sees: Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, with Jerusalem as a See of Honor because it was the first. If all Metropolitans are equal, who could remove the Bishop of Jerusalem, and why would the Bishop of Alexandria have to follow the lead of Rome?
Now to St. Augustine, the greatest commentator of Scripture of all time, taught and baptized by St. Ambrose, friend of St. Jerome and member of the Council of Carthage. It is well known that Augustine holds that all bishops share in the power of the keys, and that in the Rock, Peter is the Rock of Christ, the head of the Church. We will show in the end that this is the same belief of the Roman Catholic Church of today, for even Augustine believed that the Bishop of Rome existed, and must always exist, as the mirror of Christ on earth, in order for all other bishops to have the power of the keys.
In a letter to Pope Boniface, Augustine writes:
"But since they [the heretics] do not cease to snarl at the entrances to the Lord's fold, and from every side to tear open approaches with a view to tear in pieces the sheep redeemed at such a price; and since the pastoral watch-tower is common to all of us who discharge the office of the episcopate (although you are prominent therein on a loftier height), I do what I can in respect of my small portion of the charge, as the Lord condescends by the aid of your prayers to grant me power - I have determined to address especially to your sanctity, not so much for your learning as for your examination, and, if perchance anything should displease you, for your correction."
Why would the most learned bishop of his time, and known throughout the world in his own day, ask the Bishop of Rome to correct anything he might be saying or doing that may be wrong? What reason? Lest he be running in vain.
In Augustine's Treatise on Original Sin, he reminds his reader of how the heretic, Pelagius, fooled the Council in Palestine, but could not fool the Pope of Rome. "For although he deceived the council in Palestine, seemingly clearing himself before it, he entirely failed in imposing on the church at Rome although he went so far as to make the attempt, as if somehow he might succeed. ---
"Now what was the solemn judgment which the holy Pope Innocent formed respecting the proceedings in the Synod of Palestine, by which Pelagius boasts of having been acquitted, you may indeed read in the letter which he addressed to me. --- But I would have you carefully observe the way in which Pelagius endeavored by deception to overreach even the judgment of the bishop of the Apostolic See."
Why would the Pope of Rome judge the proceedings of a Synod of bishops in Palestine, why not the Bishop of Alexandria or Antioch?
In another case where he had to appeal to Rome, Bishop Augustine ordained a bishop under his care and then that bishop was accused of crimes by the state. Augustine appealed to Pope Celestine:
"I beseech you to assist us in this laborious matter, blessed lord and holy father, venerated for your piety, and revered with due affection; --- in order that the privilege of communion might be restored to him." Augustine then reminds Pope Celestine of how Pope Boniface restored Bishop Antonius to his See.
Again I ask why? Why would a bishop of Africa ask for the help of a bishop in the West?
THE POPE & THE FIRST COUNCILS
The first council, of course, was the council of Jerusalem (Acts Chapter 15), and these councils were taught by Christ, Himself, in Matt. 18:17-20. The first council is interesting in that Peter opened it with a statement of faith prefaced by "You know that in early days God made choice among us that through my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe."
Then it seems the council was turned over to James, the first bishop of Jerusalem, and he addresses the Apostles and priests, "My judgment is" Matt. 15:22. "Then the Apostles and the priests with the whole church decided" to send Paul and Barnabas (with Judas and Silas) and a letter, lest anyone not believe Paul or the letter.
So now we have the pattern for all councils: Peter opens with a statement of faith, the bishop of the city presides, all agree, and a signed document is taken out to the world with witnesses of its truth. Why the council and who called it? Acts 15:5 A statement was made by certain Christians (former Pharisees) that other Christians disagreed about and unity of faith had to be maintained. A decision had to be made. Who called the council? The Scriptures do not say.
WHAT IS AN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL?
There were not a few councils in the first 500 years of the Church, especially after the persecutions stopped. We have the African, Agde, Aix-la-Chapelle I, Aix-la-Chapelle II, Alexandrian, Alexandrian II, Aucyra, Antioch, Antioch II, Arles, Arles II, Braga, Calcuth, 17 councils at Carthage, Chalcedon, Chalons, Clovesho, at Constantinople there were nine, Douzy, Elvira, Epaon, two at Ephesus, Gangra, Gentilly, Hartforn, Hippo, Iconium Langres, Laodicea I and II and III, Milan, Neocaesarea, Nice I and II, Orange I and II, three at Orleans, Philippopolis, Riez, Rimini, three at Rome, Sardica, Seleucia, 8 at Toledo, and Vannes.
So by 600 AD there were 83 councils that we know about. The question becomes which of these is considered the law of the Church. Why not the others? If wherever two or three meet together as in Matt. 18:20, then why not all of them?
The answer, of course, is that the council must be universally accepted by the church of the whole world. The whole world does not have to be at the council. Nice had only 150 bishops and First Constantinople had only 325. It is not even necessary that all parts of the world be represented as long as in time they ratify the council. It is not even necessary that the council intended itself to be Ecumenical in the beginning as in the case of First Constantinople.
What do we mean by the whole world? Does that mean that if even one bishop does not ratify, it is not Ecumenical? No! For the Church always has had, and still does, many heretical bishops. Does it mean that at least the Metropolitan Sees of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, must sign? No! Because John of Alexandria was on trial at one of the councils.
What then makes it Catholic or Universal? Well! The Oxford (Protestant) University states, "And in the first place it is evident that no council has ever been received as ecumenical which has not been received and confirmed by the Roman Pontiff." We will let that point go for now, but consider that this statement is not being made by a Catholic but by a church that does not accept the rule of the Pope of Rome.
If a council is accepted universally, does that mean that all the Doctrines (faith) and Canons (discipline) have been accepted, or is it possible that some can be crossed out before acceptance?
What if the bishops of a council have been forced by the Emperor to pass something they would not otherwise have passed?
What if a council was opened by a heretic?
What if the accused heretic refused to be present at the council? What if his defense was not at the council?
THE COUNCIL OF NICE - 325 AD
The reason for the council of Nice was Arius, who taught that there was a time when the Son of God did not exist. Because of the divisions that Arius was causing among the faithful, the Emperor called for a council at Nicaea. In Chapter VI of the "Ecclesiastical History of Theodoret" he states: "Three hundred and eighteen bishops were assembled. The bishop of Rome, on account of his very advanced age, was absent, but he sent two priests to the council, with authority to agree to what was done." Then Theodoret goes on to tell of the power of those who attended: bishops who had raised people from the dead and many other miracles, martyrs, who attended with both hands cut off, others without feet, others with all their skin scraped off, and eyes dug out. All these martyrs faced Arius.
The emperor did not seat himself until he had asked the permission of the bishops. It is interesting to note that six bishops sided with Arius out of 318, and of these were the bishops of Nicaea and Ephesus.
The conclusion in brief was this, "Whosoever shall say that there was a time when the Son of God was not - the Catholic and Apostolic Church Anathematizes them."
Of interest to us is Canon 39 which reads:
"Of the care and power which a patriarch has over the bishops and archbishops of his patriarchate; and of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome over all. --- yet the patriarch is to all those who are under his power, just as he who holds the seat of Rome, is the head and prince of all patriarchs; inasmuch as he is first, as was Peter, to whom power is given over all Christian princes, and over all their peoples, as he who is the Vicar of Christ, our Lord over all peoples and over the whole Christian Church, and whoever shall contradict this, is excommunicated by the Synod."
Now, those of you who hold that the first four councils are the law of the church and not the Pope of Rome have a little explaining to do when it is your turn to reply.
THE POPE &
THE 1ST COUNCIL OF CONSTANTINOPLE - 381 AD
The Emperor's mother, Helena, finds the true Cross of Christ and builds many churches in the Holy Land. Constantine builds a great church over the tomb of St. Peter and then moves his seat of power to ancient Byzantium and calls it Constantinople, and established by law that it should be called "New Rome". He built many buildings and churches and made it the most beautiful city in the world. He abolished paganism, the combats of the gladiators, and demolished the temples of the gods. The Church spread through India and China, and up to Germany and Spain.
Arius pretends to accept the Nicene Creed and had a friend in the palace in Constantia, widow of the former Emperor. Arius returns from exile with the Emperor's consent, and Athanasius of Alexandria refused to accept him. Eventually the Arians took over most of the Sees of the East by force of arms and controlled them for 40 years. Theodosius became Emperor and called the council to restore all Catholic bishops to these proper Sees.
It should be noted that it was not meant to be an Ecumenical Council. It was a local gathering only. It was not summoned by the Pope. No diocese of the West was present. It was simply to remove the Arians from power and to bring back the Catholic bishops to these Sees.
In Constantinople, however, the Catholic bishop was dead, so they elected Gregory of Nazianzen to be bishop. He accepted at first, then realized that it was contrary to the canons of Nicaea to change from one district to another, and so he declined. In his stead they ordained a priest named Nectarius.
In the first session they professed the Creed. It should be noted, however, that the words "in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, and Giver of Life" were added to the Nicene Creed.
They anathematized the Arians and left Constantinople. Next they wrote the canons, and in Canon Three we read,
"The Bishop of Constantinople, however, shall have the prerogative of honor after the Bishop of Rome, because Constantinople is New Rome."
What is this? Where did this come from? Who asked for it? What is a just ordained priest, Nectarius, doing as the second highest man in the whole world?
Immediately after the close of the council, in the same year of 381, the Council of Latins censured several of the acts of Constantinople, namely the naming of Nectarius as bishop over Maximus of Constantinople, and the naming of Constantinople over Alexandria and Antioch.
Pope Damasus signed the doctrine of the council but not the canons. Pope Leo the Great, Gregory the Great, Pope Felix III, Pope Vigilius, and Pelagius II would later state the same things, that only the Doctrine is acceptable, not the canons.
In the Synodical Letter written to Pope Damasus after the council, the bishops apologized for not being able to come to the council at Rome and told of all the proceedings at Constantinople except the canon making Constantinople a Metropolitan See.
Pope Damasus replies (not knowing about the canon regarding Constantinople) "Inasmuch as your love renders to the apostolic see the reverence which is its due, accept the same in no niggard measure for yourselves. For even though in the holy church in which the holy apostle (Peter) sat, and taught us how it becomes us to manage the rudder which has been committed to us, we nevertheless confess ourselves to be unworthy of the honor."
THE COUNCIL OF EPHESUS - 431 AD
When I consider the Council of Ephesus I always go back to the Council of Constantinople and look at what happened. What was the reason for them attempting to make Constantinople a major See? The reason is that the Emperor lived in that city. The bishop of that city was his confessor. The bishop was over the Emperor in matters of faith. To the mind of the Emperor, if he had to be under a bishop, that bishop should be a very important man in the world.
And so started the battle between the Pope of Rome and the Emperor of the Roman Empire, a battle that lasted more than a millennium.
This, I think, was the real battle at the council at Ephesus. Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople, a tall and elegant man of great piety and a great gift of preaching, gave his sermon from the great Basilica at the City of the Emperor on Christmas day. The Church was overflowing with people and with the court of the Emperor present. He preached that Mary could not be considered the Mother of God. A simple layman stood up in the large crowd and shouted, "You are a heretic."
Pope Celestine asked Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria, (the See still above Constantinople) to look into the charges against Nestorius. He could have sent his own priests from Rome. Why did he choose to send the bishop of the city (Alexandria), that the Emperor wanted placed below Constantinople in importance?
After receiving the information on his teachings, there was nothing left for Pope Celestine to do but perform his duties of his Apostolic Office. He gave Nestorius, the Bishop of the Imperial City of Constantinople, ten days to retract his false teachings or be excommunicated.
The Emperor, a friend of Nestorius, moved quickly to ask Cyril for a council before the ten days were up. Pope Celestine was angry that his judgment was even questioned by the Emperor. But past memories of the Emperor placing Arians in power for forty years made him agree, but agree to a council only, not to any change in his binding decree of excommunication. As far as the Pope was concerned, this was an inconvenient exercise that he had to go through for political reasons only. He had spoken and it would stand.
To the Pope the council was an insult to his authority, and so he would insult the Emperor. He placed the Bishop of Alexandria, Cyril, as his official representative and told him to push everything through as quickly as possible.
The fact that Nestorius, although a good man, did hold a heretical view is not disputed by many people. He stated at Ephesus, "I can never allow that a child of three months old was God."
Theotocos was not a new word only used for the first time at Ephesus. It was used before at the Synod of Alexandria in 320. The flesh and blood of Christ being God is critical to the heart of the Catholics Faith because of the unbloody sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ at the altars of the world. But this is not our subject.
In Session Two of the council, Philip, the priest legate of the Pope, stated,
"Your blessedness (The Emperor) is not ignorant that the head of the whole faith, the head of the Apostles, is blessed Peter the Apostle --- so we ask that what things were done in the holy Synod before our arrival be placed before us, in order that according to the opinion of our blessed Pope of this present holy assembly, we likewise may ratify their determination."
This was probably a prepared statement by the Pope to be slapped at the Emperor, and their late arrival was probably deliberate to show their disregard for the Emperor's command.
In the Third Session Philip again states: "There is no doubt, and in fact it has been known in all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the Apostles, pillar of the Faith, and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the Kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race, and that to him was given the power of loosing and binding sins: who down even to today and forever both lives and judges in his successors. This holy and most blessed Pope Celestine, according to due order, is his successor and holds his place, and us he sent to supply his place in this holy synod, which the most humane and Christian Emperors have commanded to assemble, bearing in mind and continually watching over the Catholic Faith."
Again this is a statement commanded to be read by the Pope in order to put the Emperor in his place.
Then Cyril: "Let those things which were defined by the most holy Celestine, the God beloved bishop, be carried into effect, and the vote cast."
So the council ended with a letter to Pope Celestine: "For it is your custom in such great matters to make trial of all things, and the confirmation of the Churches you have made your own care. But since it is right that all things which have taken place should be brought to the knowledge of your holiness, we are writing of necessity to inform you --- we have reserved this to the decision of your holiness --- there were sitting with us the most reverend bishops and priests, who gave to us your presence and filled the place with the Apostolic See."
And so ended the council of Ephesus. Oh, yes! I left out all the real intrigue of John of Antioch and those who were present and those who were not, but that would be a long story, and I believe that all these people: Cyril, John, Nestorius, and the rest, got caught in the cross-fire of Pope Celestine and the Emperor. The Pope won the first two battles, but the war went on: the war of Constantinople.
THE COUNCIL OF CHALCEDON - 451 AD
The Council of Ephesus did not end until the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD with the aid of Pope Saint Leo the Great. Leo was a man of such strong character that he was able to turn back Attila the Hun from invading Rome, and later stopped the Vandals of the North from doing the same. In both cases without any arms.
When Cyril of Alexandria died, Pope Leo dictated church regulations to his successor at Alexandria, Dioscorus. Bishop Hilary of Arles in Gaul removed Bishop Celidonius from office on the grounds of canon irregularities. Celidonius appealed to Rome and was restored; Hilary was deprived of his Metropolitan rights, even though he walked to Rome in the snow. This was Leo.
Eutyches, head of a monastery in Constantinople, in his zeal to combat Nestorius, went too far in the opposite direction, and at a local synod in Constantinople Eusebius demanded that he be tried as a heretic. In the end it was proven that he held, through ignorance, false views of the Nature of Christ. But Eutyches, a quiet, prayerful man, had friends in high places in the government of the Emperor.
Eutyches appealed to Rome, and Flavian, Bishop of Constantinople, informed Rome of the synod conclusions. Leo, seeing that there was too much confusion about the nature of Christ, wrote the world-famous "Tome" on the Incarnation, "in view of certain false opinions among the Greeks."
But the Emperor was on the side of the monk of Constantinople and called for a second council at Ephesus. Again we have the battle for top authority of the Church and the world, not between bishops, but between the Pope of Rome and the Emperor.
By the Emperor's orders, Bishop Dioscorus of Alexandria was placed at the head of the council even over the Pope's three legates. This was a slap in the face to Leo, for Dioscorus was no friend to the Pope. It should be noted also that Antioch and Jerusalem were seated next ahead of Flavian of Constantinople.
The "Tome" was deliberately not read, even though that was the reason why Leo wrote it. Again the Emperor and his men, Dioscorus and Eutyches, were fighting against the Pope and not looking for truth.
The Second Council of Ephesus became a riot, and soldiers had to be brought in to maintain order. Eutyches was restored to communion with the Church. Flavian and Eusebius were deposed from their Sees. Bishop Hilary shouted protests, and the three men were jailed. Flavian died in prison because of the many blows he received.
When information on the Council reached Rome, Pope Leo did not know that Flavian had died. He sent letters to Flavian and all over the world calling the council "the Robber council of Ephesus", and called for a new council.
Bishop Dioscorus of Alexandria and ten other Bishops excommunicated Pope Leo. Anatolius was made Bishop of Constantinople and Pope Leo would not accept him. The Pope sent legates to Constantinople to demand of the Emperor the removal of Anatolius and the calling of a new council. It would have been a great battle, however, the Emperor was killed by a fall from his horse before the legates arrived. His successor, the first Roman Empress, Pulcheria, was completely on the side of Leo.
Leo's petition for a new council was granted, and even before the council, bishops all over the world signed the "Tome" including Anatolius, the Bishop of Constantinople. Leo declared both the Council of Constantinople and the Second Council of Ephesus null and void.
The Council of Chalcedon convened in 451 with the Pope's legates at the head, with the Bishops of Antioch and Jerusalem in the next seats, the three Patriarchs. The Pope's legates would not let Dioscorus, Bishop of Alexandria, take his seat, and demanded that he be placed in the middle of the room together with Eusebius and Theoderet of Cyrus (who was suspected but acquitted of Nestorianism).
On the first day the acts of the Robber council of Ephesus were read. At the second session the "Tome" was read, and the bishops shouted in one voice:
"We believe, as Leo: Peter has spoken by Leo; we have all subscribed the letter: what has been set forth is sufficient for the Faith: no other exposition may be made."
In the acts of the second session we read that the letter of Cyril of Alexandria to Nestorius was read and the bishops of the council cried out: "We also believe: Pope Leo thus believes; anathema to him who divides and to him who confounds; this is the faith of Leo: Leo thus believes: --- this is the mind of Leo, so he believes, so he has written."
In the third session (and this is very important) the Pope's legate stated: "It is well known to this beloved of God synod, that divine letters were sent to the blessed and Apostolic Pope Leo, inviting him to deign to be present at the holy synod. But since ancient custom did not sanction this, nor the general necessity of the time seemed to permit it, our littleness in the place of himself, and therefore it is necessary that whatever things are brought into discussion should be examined by our interference.
(You see that it was never the custom for a Pope of Rome to attend a council except to allow it, or open it, and then to ratify it. Council means "an advisory board.")
The third session ended with the Pope's legate stating:
"Wherefore the most holy and blessed Leo, Archbishop of the great and elder Rome, through us, and through this present most holy synod together with the thrice blessed and all-glorious Peter the Apostle, who is the rock and foundation of the Catholic Church, and the foundation of the Orthodox faith, has stripped him (Bishop of Alexandria ) of the episcopate, and has alienated from him all heretic worthiness. Therefore let this most holy and great synod sentence the before mentioned Dioscorus to the canonical penalties."
The Emperor arrived at the sixth session and suggested legislation under three heads. What these were I do not know since they were not read into the minutes. Why they were not read into the minutes might be important.
In the Sixteenth Session the legates of Rome complained to the Emperor that although the Emperors were the rulers of the world, and had an interest in the care of the church, they had no right to conduct business after the Pope's legates had gone home for the day, for this is "contrary to ecclesiastical discipline". He then commanded that what was done after they had gone home be read.
The Archdeacon of the Church of Constantinople asked to be excused before the readings and asked the Roman legates to go with him. They refused.
When Canon 28 was read, again attempting to give to Constantinople the second See of the world with only 192 of the 350 bishops present at the time, the Pope's legate angrily objected:
"In the first place let your excellency notice that it was brought to pass by circumventing the holy bishops so that they were forced to sign as yet unwritten canons of which they made mention. --- It is obvious that the decrees of the 318 (Council of Nice) have been set aside, and that mention only is made of those of the 150 (First Council of Constantinople) which are not found to have any place in the synodical canons, and which were made as they acknowledge eighty years ago. If therefore they enjoyed this privilege during these years, what do they seek for now? If they never used it, why seek it? --- It is manifest that the present decrees have been added to the decrees of Nice and Constantinople, decrees not received into the synodical cannons, these things they pretend to be defined."
Then one of the legates of Rome read Canon Six of the Council of Nice. Boniface, a priest and future Pope, said that Pope Leo gave orders that no one should violate or diminish the canons of Nice, and to guard against any usurpations.
The most glorious judges said: "Let each party quote the canons." A false Canon Six of the council of Nice was read. Pope Leo's legate responded, "The Apostolic See gave orders that all things should be done in our presence and therefore whatever yesterday was done to the prejudice of the canons during our absence, we beseech your highness (the Emperor) to command to be rescinded. But if not, let our opposition be placed in the minutes, and pray let us know clearly what we are to report to that Most Apostolic Bishop who is the ruler of the whole Church, so that he may be able to take action with regard to the indignity done to his See and to the settings at naught of the canons." There ends the Council of Chalcedon.
2nd COUNCIL OF CONSTANTINOPLE - 553 AD
The very, very interesting thing about the second council of Constantinople is that it is 102 years after the council of Chalcedon, and 171 years after first Constantinople, and the See of Constantinople is still not a Metropolitan See.
The best explanation of this council is the introductory speech given by the Emperor, Flavius. He stated that his fathers saw the need to hold the unity of faith by calling the previous councils, and seeing that that Churches had broken off communion with one another again, and using the excuse that the council of Chalcedon had not condemned Theodoret, who had defended Nestorius and the letters of Ibas, and that this was the cause of the disunion, he called for a council.
The Emperor complained that Pope Vigilius repeatedly anathematized, in writing, the three chapters of Theodoret, but would not condemn the man himself. He also lamented that he had repeatedly commanded Pope Vigilius to attend the council, but the Pope would always refuse.
Vigilius eventually saw it necessary to condemn Theodoret to keep the unity of the Church, but he carefully worded his condemnation in such a way as not to be an anathema against the man. He found nothing in the second council that he could not sign, and therefore, he signed his approval. Even though the council itself in Canon 13 condemned the writings of Theodoret, it did not condemn the man. It would be more than 100 years before it would be actually recognized as Ecumenical.
The other interesting thing, regarding the Second Council of Constantinople, is the later forgeries of the acts of the Council. It was found that in the first book of the acts, four unpaged leaves had been placed and in a different handwriting. Also, in the second manuscript the same thing, and a letter of Vigilius was found to be forged and was condemned.
But what is most interesting is what was not done. Constantinople, still not a Metropolitan See, was not mentioned, even though the council was held in its city. It still exercised no authority over any other city although that right was claimed in 381, over 172 years earlier.
THIRD COUNCIL OF CONSTANTINOPLE - 681 AD
The Emperor informed Pope Agatho of his intention to have a local synod of just bishops around the district of Constantinople because of certain novelties introduced into the faith. The Pope sent representatives there anyway, and his legate opened the first session. In the fourth session of the council a letter of Pope Agatho was read, then letters of St. Ambrose, St. Leo, St. Gregory Nazianzen, and St. Augustine.
Since the letter of Pope Agatho was accepted by the whole council as part of the canons, it is appropriate to note these statements by him:
"For he (Peter) received from the Redeemer of all himself, by three commendations, the duty of feeding the spiritual sheep of the Church; under whose protecting shield, this Apostolic Church of his has never turned away from the path of truth in any direction of error, whose authority, as that of the Prince of all the Apostles, the whole Catholic Church, and the Ecumenical Synods have faithfully embraced, and followed in all things; and all the venerable Fathers have embraced its Apostolic doctrine, through which they as the most approved luminaries of the Church of Christ have shone; and the holy orthodox doctors have venerated and followed it, while the heretics have pursued it with false criminations and with derogatory hatred. This is the living tradition of the Apostles of Christ.
"For this is the rule of the true faith, which this spiritual mother of your most tranquil empire, the Apostolic Church of Christ, has both in prosperity and in adversity always held and defended with energy; which, it will be proved, by the grace of Almighty God has never erred from the path of the apostolic tradition, nor has she been depraved by yielding to heretical innovations, but from the beginning she has received the Christian faith from her founders, the princes of the Apostles, and remains undefiled unto the end, according to the divine promise of the Lord and Savior himself, which he uttered in the holy Gospels to the prince of his disciples; saying, Peter, Peter, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he might sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith will not fail. And when you are converted, strengthen your brethren.' Let your tranquil Clemency therefore consider, since it is the Lord and Savior of all, whose faith it is, that promised that Peter's faith should not fail and exhorted him to strengthen his brethren, how it is known to all that the Apostolic pontiffs, the predecessors of my littleness, have always confidently done this very thing: of whom also our littleness, since I have received this ministry by divine designation, wishes to be the follower, although unequal to them and the least of all.
"Wherefore the predecessors of Apostolic memory of my littleness, learned in the doctrine of the Lord, ever since the prelates of the Church of Constantinople have been trying to introduce into the immaculate Church of Christ a heretical innovation, have never ceased to exhort and warn them with many prayers, that they should, at least by silence, desist from the heretical error of the depraved dogma, lest from this they make the beginning of a split in the unity of the Church?"
" But if (which God forbid!) he [the bishop of Constantinople] shall prefer to embrace the novelty but lately introduced by others; and shall ensnare himself with doctrines which are alien to the rule of orthodox truth and of our Apostolic faith, to decline which as injurious to souls these have put off, despite the exhortation and admonitions of our predecessors in the Apostolic See, down to this day, he himself should know what kind of an answer he will have to give for such contempt in the divine examination of Christ before the judge of all, who is in heaven, to whom when he cometh to judgment also we ourselves are about to give an account of the ministry of preaching the truth."
And lest anyone think this letter was not accepted by the council, the letter of the council to Pope Agatho reads:
"We acknowledge that this letter was divinely written as by the Chief of the Apostles."
Just for added information, the First Canon of the Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon read as follows: "We have judged it right that the canons of the Holy Fathers made in every synod even until now, should remain in force." The Councils listed were: Nice, Ancyra, Neoceaesarea, Gangra, Antioch, Laudicea, Ephesus, and Chalcedon.
These contain more quotes supporting the Pope of Rome and were read into the records, but we will not get into that now.
THE POPE & THE CASE OF "CONSTANTINOPLE"
As you can see, there was a battle between the Emperors and the Popes from the time of Constantine. Constantine, himself, was never part of this battle. In fact, the reason Constantine the Great left Rome and built a new seat for his empire was so there would be no conflict between the Vice-chancellor of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth (the Church) and the Vice-chancellor of the Kingdom of Rome. For both only held the keys by permission of the real King, Christ. Both Kingdoms belong to Christ the King, and He has left the keys to men He trusts to do His bidding until the end.
Constantine had such a love for the Church and Peter that he first built the largest building in his empire over the body of Peter and a large living quarters for the Pope. Then he left Rome to the Pope and went to the East so that no conflict of interest would exist in the minds of the people.
After Constantine the Great, however, the new Emperors, most of them good men, saw that they had two authorities over them in matters of religion. The bishop of Constantinople became, by right of geographical territory, his confessor.
The fact that the bishop of the metropolitan capital of the world, Constantinople, was not even a Patriarch and was not even mentioned in the Canons was like a slap in the face to the Emperor. He went to confession to a bishop of no universal importance to the Church. Yes, he knew that the bishop received his authority directly from Christ and not from the Pope. He knew that the bishop had unrestricted authority in local matters. He knew that he must obey that bishop in all things except sin. But the Emperor was of universal importance. He dealt with universal matters. He needed a universal bishop. The Bishop of Constantinople was not even mentioned on the same level with Alexandria, Antioch, Ephesus, or even the destroyed city of Jerusalem.
It must be noted that Constantinople did not exist at the time of the Council of Nice, and therefore using the Sixth Canon of Nice has no importance to the subject except that it was used at the Second Council of Constantinople as one of the reasons to reject the idea of making it a Metropolitan of major importance. The real reason (of course) is that it was not founded by the Apostle, Peter; and Rome, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria were. Ephesus was founded by John.
At the Council of Nice in Canon 39, it was stated that a patriarch has power and care over all bishops under his care, and the Bishop of Rome over all, and the head and prince of all patriarchs. It is at the first council of Nice that the Pope of Rome is called the "Vicar of Christ, Our Lord over all peoples and over the whole Christian Church, and whoever shall contradict this, is excommunicated by this Synod."
At the Synod of Antioch in 341 AD, called by the Emperor without the approval of the Pope in order to condemn St. Athanasius, it was stated that no one should appeal to the Emperor without permission of the Metropolitan, a bishop should not be ordained without a synod and the presence of the Metropolitan, that no synod could be held without the Metropolitan bishop, and that a bishop may not move from one parish to another.
As you can, see the Synod of Antioch was accepted into the canons of the Ecumenical Councils and approved by the Pope of Rome. That being true, a council cannot be called by an emporer or a bishop who is not a Metropolitan. Since the next council was not called by a Metropolitan, what makes it approved. If you say the council itself, what should we say about Antioch? If you say that the Pope of Rome accepted it, then you are saying that it is by his authority. If you say that the next council changes the previous one, even on the point of calling a council, then why dont the Orthodox call a new council?
At the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431 AD, Canon Eight states; "Wherefore, this holy and ecumenical Synod has decreed that in every province the rights which heretofore, from the beginning, have belonged to it, shall be preserved to it, according to the old prevailing custom, unchanged and uninjured: every Metropolitan having permission to take, for his own security, a copy of these acts. And if any one shall bring forward a rule contrary to what is here determined, this holy and ecumenical Synod unanimously decrees that it shall be of no effect."
So! Notwithstanding his having no right to do so, the Emperor thought it right and sensible to order Canon Three at the First Council of Constantinople. We have established that this was rejected by the Pope of Rome. We have also proved that Constantinople did not become a Second Rome. The important thing here is the fact that (in spite of the fact that the Council passed the Canon) the Bishop of Constantinople did not become one of the major Metropolitans. If it had, there would have been no reason for another attempt by the Emperor at Chalcedon Seventy Years Later.
In order to pass this Canon Number 28 through the Pope of Rome, no mention of it was made by the Bishop of Constantinople in his required letter to the Pope of the proceedings of the Council. When the Pope discovered this Canon, he wrote to all the Bishops and said that there was no way he could make Constantinople "an Apostolic See" and adds that "only from love of peace and for the restoration of the unity of the faith" has he abstained from annulling the Bishop of Constantinoples ordination to the priesthood.
To the Empress he wrote: "I declare it to be invalid and annul it by the authority of the Holy Apostle Peter." Of course, we have already shown that this canon was enacted after hours when the Pope's legates and most of the bishops had retired for the day. The fact that those bishops who signed it claimed to have signed it without force is proved false by two facts. One is that the Emperor of the whole world was there with his guards, and it was admitted in later letters to the Pope and from the Pope.
At the third Council of Constantinople, THREE HUNDRED YEARS AFTER THE FIRST COUNCIL OF CONSTANTINOPLE, it is still not an Apostolic See. At this council all questions regarding the authority of the Sees is removed.
Only 11 years later the Emperor tried again at the Council of Trullo. It was meant to be Ecumenical and in fact was represented by the Sees of Constantinople, Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Antioch. The intention was to pass a body of discipline to serve thenceforth for the whole Church, and there were 102 Canons. Again in Canon 37 the attempt was made.
When the Emperor afterwards sent the canons to the Pope to receive his signature, he absolutely refused to have anything to do with them, and even in the East they were never received.
At the Second Council of Nice in 787 AD, more than FOUR HUNDRED YEARS after First Constantinople, it is still not a See of importance, but the Emperor had new problems: Mohammed and Icons. After the death of the Patriarch Anastasius of Constantinople, he summoned the bishops of his Empire to a synod in the palace. The vacancy of the bishop helped his plans. Over three hundred bishops attended but not the Bishops of Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. At the head of the synod, he placed Theodisius of Ephesus, who was the son of a former Emperor and (most important) he was against icons.
The Emperor then nominated Bishop Constantine of Sylaeum, a monk, as bishop of Constantinople, against canon law. He then singled out the more noted monks, and required them to comply with the decrees of the synod. In 766 AD, he exacted an oath against images from all the inhabitants of the empire. The monks refused with violent obstinacy, and Copronymus appears to have amused himself by treating them with ruthless harshness. The Emperor, indeed, seemed to have wanted to eliminate monastery life. Doctor and Saint of the Church, John Damascene of Damascus, he [the Emperor] persuaded his bishops to excommunicate. Monks were forced to appear in the Hippodrome at Constantinople hand in hand with harlots, while the populace spat at them. The new patriarch of Constantinople was forced to swear against images, to attend banquets, to eat and drink freely against his vows, to wear garlands, to witness the coarse spectacles and hear the coarse language which entertained the Emperor. Monasteries were destroyed, made into barracks, or secularized. The Governor collected a number of monks into an open field, clothed them with white, presented them to wives, and forced them to choose between marriage and loss of eyesight.
The clergy obeyed when the decrees were published against icons, but the monks resisted, and many became martyrs. The police stormed the churches, and destroyed those images and pictures that had not been hidden.
The Emperor meant to exterminate the monks and to then overthrow the throne of Peter. An absolute military state rose up from Constantinople. The Emperor forced the citizens to swear against icons and give up all intercourse with the monks. Cloisters were turned into barracks, relics were hurled into the sea. At the same time he sought to win over Pepin, the King of France.
But the Church did not give in to him; and the Bishops of the East, even though under the rule of Islam, ruled against Iconoclasm.
The Emperor of the world began to address Tarasius, Bishop of Constantinople, in his letter with the title of "Universal Bishop", and so, in Session Two of the council, a letter of Pope Hadrian to the Emperor in which he again reminds the Emperor of the authority of the See of Peter and then accused the Emperor of possible heresy or schism, was read. He complains:
"We greatly wondered that in your imperial commands, directed for the Patriarch of the royal city, Tarasius, we find him there called Universal: but we know not whether this was written through ignorance or schism, or the heresy of the wicked. But henceforth we advise your most merciful and imperial majesty, that he be by no means called Universal in your writings, because it appears to be contrary to the institutions of the holy canons and the decrees of the traditions of the holy Fathers. For he never could have ranked second, save for the authority of our holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, as is plain to all. Because if he be named Universal, above the holy Roman Church which has a prior rank, which is the head of all the Churches of God, it is certain that he shows himself as a rebel against the holy Councils, and a heretic. For, if he is Universal, he is recognized to have the Primacy even over the Church of our See, which appears ridiculous to all faithful Christians: because in the whole world the chief rank and power was given to the blessed Apostle Peter by the Redeemer of the world himself; and through the same Apostle, whose place we unworthily hold, the holy Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church holds the first rank, and the authority of power, now and forever, so that if any one, which we believe not, has called him, or assents to his being called Universal, let him know that he is estranged from the orthodox Faith, and a rebel against our holy Catholic and Apostolic Church."
Then it was asked, in the legal jargon of the council, if this letter was delivered to the Emperor. It was. Then the letters between the Pope and Tarasius were read. Then Tarasius, Bishop of Constantinople, was asked to say whether he agrees with the letter of the Pope of Rome, and his response was:
"Paul said of Rome, Your faith is gone forth into all the world.' It is necessary to follow out this witness, and he that would contradict it is without good sense. Wherefore Hadrian, the ruler of Old Rome, since he was a sharer of these things, thus borne witness to, wrote expressly and truly to our religious Emperors, and to our humility confirming admirably and beautifully the ancient tradition of the Catholic Church. --- We also confessed, so do confess and so will confess."
So I ask, when was Constantinople made a major See? It was not a major See in the first Eight Hundred Years. If it was made an Apostolic See by the councils, why then did it not exercise its power? If the councils have the right to declare the Power of the Sees, why did it not become the Second Power of the world? If the Emperor has the power to declare a See or even a bishop, then that puts the power of the Church in the hands of the Kingdoms of the World, as is claimed by Martin Luther and King Henry the Eighth.
If the canons of the councils did not have the power to place Constantinople as a major See, then why not?
If a marriage is not a marriage if forced, is the canon a canon if forced?
Were the bishops of the council of the Emperor in 754 AD sinning by accepting his forced decree on icons the same way they would have been sinning to accept offering sacrifices to the gods of the Romans? If they knew that their signatures did not matter without the signature of the Pope, they were not sinning, but if they believed that the canons were the Words and the Laws of Christ, they were.
Why were the other eighty-three councils not considered Ecumenical? Was it because they were not accepted throughout the world by all? None of the councils (not even the seven) were accepted throughout the world by all.
Would it be then that they would at least have to be accepted by the Major Sees: Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Ephesus? No! Because in many of the Ecumenical Councils one or more of these bishops was being condemned.
Would orthodoxy then make a council Ecumenical or not? Well! Who is the one to declare it orthodox, since it is councils that bring these questions to the table. Does a council declare a council Ecumenical?
Now we come to the question of this talk. If Constantinople was never an Apostolic See, and not even a major See, by what authority do they have "First Honor amongst Many" Plurus Unum among the Orthodox Churches? By what right does a man (Photius) go from a layman to Bishop of Constantinople and leader of the whole Christian world in one day while the real Bishop of Constantinople (Ignatius) is still living, although exiled by the Emperor, a violation of the Canons of many of the Councils?
There are many problems among the Orthodox Churches today (the Eastern Catholics are splitting into two, the Russians are separating from the Greek, the American Orthodox are dividing from the Eastern), but they never call a council. Why? Because only the Bishop of Constantinople can call a council, and he has the smallest congregation in the world. If he were to call together a council, the council would declare a new, New Rome, and he would lose his seat as the First amongst many, because the Orthodox believe the council has the right to declare who is and who is not the Primacy of Honor Bishop.
If you say that even the Pope accepted the See of Constantinople as a Major See, then you must be accepting his authority or at least the authority of the Council of Lateran in 1215 AD where this concession was made for the sake of unity, but this was when the Bishops of Constantinople were Latin, or maybe at the Council of Florence in 1439, where unity was signed by the Bishop of Constantinople but then never accomplished because he died before returning home.
Maybe the Bishop of Constantinople can declare the Pope a heretic, and therefore declare himself Pope, as Photius says, because the Pope added the word "Filioque" to the Nicene Creed; but the facts are that the Pope did not add the word to the Creed until over 200 years later. In fact he defended the Creed from any change against the French, who were using the word to counteract a new heresy in France. It was not until 1014 AD that Rome acceded to the requests of many to add the word. Nevertheless, in the first seven councils you will find many additions to the Creed of Nice, and this was never a problem, providing it did not change the meaning of the original, but only clarified it.
I have stated my historical case for the Pope of Rome being the one and only last rule of faith and morals on earth and the Vice-chancellor of Christ, with the keys to bind and loose.
I believe that many of these splits were caused by a lack of communication. For instance, the Eastern Catholics spread throughout all of India and China without even knowing about the Council of Ephesus until hundreds of years later and then receiving false information and history about the problem.
The Maronites were locked in by Moslems on all sides and had no communication with the outside world. The Chaldeans had the same problem, and yet, through the divine help of God, they withstood the Moslems to keep Christ alive for all these 2000 years.
THE POPE & THE FRUITS OF THE CHURCHES
"Consider how the lilies of the field grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I say to you that not even Soloman in all his glory was arrayed like one of these.
"But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which flourishes today but tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more you, O you of little faith!
"Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat? or, 'What shall we drink?' or, "What are we to put on?' (for after all these things the Gentiles seek); for your Father knows that you need all these things.
"But seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be given you besides." (Matt. 6:28-33)
"Amen, amen, I say to you, he who enters not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up another way, is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is shepherd of the sheep. To this man the gatekeeper (Peter) opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them forth. --- I am the door --- I am the door --- and there shall be one fold and one shepherd." (John 10)
Christ calls His Church a Kingdom and it is like a shepherd and his sheep. Christ is the door and the shepherd of his Kingdom, but he does not say that he is the gatekeeper - that is Peter.
If those who followed the Pope of Rome for the past 2000 years are the true Kingdom, the true Church, then Matt. 6:28-33 should be evident, since God promised that if we seek His Kingdom first, He will take care of these other things as well. Does that mean each and every individual? I think not, but let us look at the history of Christianity.
Christianity started in Jerusalem and Jerusalem was a very wealthy, thriving city, but the Jews rejected Christ and His Kingdom and tried to kill them all off. The Kingdom left Israel and went north to what is today Syria, Turkey, Greece, and Rome. Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD, but the East became the most wealthy region in the world. In the Orient the Kingdom spread through India and China. These countries became the wealthiest countries in the world. In time, however, heresies infected the churches in Syria, Turkey, and Greece: Arianism, Nestorianism, and over fifty more. The result of a vacuum of Gods grace being the invasion of Mohammed in that part of the world. It became a dry desert in a very short time, all the wealth leaving to the North in Europe. Europe became the wealthiest section of the world. Later India and China would separate from the Kingdom and they, too, would lose their wealth. Europe thrived until the time of Martin Luther.
When Martin Luther broke away and took two million with him in one year, God was not mocked. God sent Columbus to the new world to prepare for Our Lady of Guadeloupe, for in the same year that Martin Luther was able to separate 2,000,000 from Europe, Our Lady brought in 10,000,000, and eventually South America would become the largest section of the Kingdom in the world. In fact, all the wealth left Europe and ended up in South America. Mexico was the wealthiest country in the world, per capita, for many years up until 1917 when a Masonic government took over and tried to kill all the priests and nuns.
God is not mocked. As the South Americas became lax in their faith, He moved His Kingdom to North America, and it became the wealthiest region on Earth.
On October 13, 1917, Lenin marched into Russia to start the world's most powerful anti-religious government. On that exact same day, Our Lady of Fatima appeared to warn the world of Communism and promised that if all the bishops of the world in union with the Bishop of Rome would consecrate Russia to Her Immaculate Heart on exactly on the same day and the same hour God could not refuse them. Pope John Paul II wrote letters to all the bishops of the world, including the Greek and Russian Orthodox Bishops. We do not know how many Greek Orthodox Bishops participated, since it was all done in private prayer, but we do know from letters that many Russian Orthodox Bishops participated in the prayer. On March 25, 1984, this was done, and look what happened to communism in the world.
Japan used to crucify anyone professing Christ, and the result was two atomic bombs. Germany produced Martin Luther and the first state-owned religions and they had two world wars. God is not mocked.
America is now becoming the most anti-religious nation in the world, but in Africa the seminaries are so full there is a three-year wait to get in, and they just built the largest Catholic Church in the world. God is not mocked.
For hundreds of years the Catholic Church was illegal in England (until 1793) and only in 1950 were Catholics permitted to hold political office. When England was Catholic (from the time of Augustine in the Sixth Century), it became the most powerful country in the world, owning India, parts of China, most of Africa, Scotland, Ireland, Palestine, Iraq, the Virgin Island, parts of South America, and most of North America, not to mention the Indian Ocean. From the time of the Reformation in England until the Catholic Church was legalized, England lost all of her possessions. What would have happened, I often wonder, if the Church was still outlawed in England during World War II? Today the Catholic Church in England is growing so fast that I predict there will be no Anglican Church at all in 20 years. God is not mocked.
Scripture predicts that God's Church will be made up of all tongues, tribes and nations, and will cover the whole world. (Micheas 5:4) "even to the ends of the earth." (Aggeus 2:8) "all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory." (Rev. 5:10) "every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and He has made them for our God a kingdom and priests, and they shall reign over the earth."
"By their fruits you will know them." What Church is universal, covering the whole world without distinction between race or tongue or nation? What Church is universal in time ("I will be with you all days even to the end of the earth.")? Many Eastern Churches are strictly nationalistic, even here in America, making no attempt at conversions but strictly keeping a tight hold on their traditions. "My father was Armenian Apostolic. My grandfather was Armenian Apostolic, and my children will be Armenian Apostolic, whether they like it or not."
Matt 15:2 The Jews said to Christ, "Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the ancients?" Christ answered, "Why do you transgress the commandment of God for your tradition?"
"By their fruits you will know them." In Galatians, Chapter 5, Paul lists the fruits of the Holy Spirit: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, modesty, and continency. His writing in this chapter is to warn the Galatians about those Christians who brought into their churches the heresy of Judaism. He warns them "But if you bite and devour one another, take heed or you will be consumed by one another." Among those things Paul lists as works of the flesh are enmities, contentions, jealousies, anger, quarrels, factions, and envies.
Let us leave history alone for now. I am not to blame for what my father or grandfather did or did not do, but I can look right now at those who have enmities, contentions, jealousies, anger, quarrels, factions, and envies. I can see who has charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, modesty, and continency.
Love your brother. Who is your brother? The Samaritan! Who has enmity towards other religions? Who has contentions, jealousies, anger, quarrels, factions, parties, envies? Over three thousand bishops of Vatican II invited all of our separated brothers into the Council to make whatever suggestions they wanted Catholics to do to help bring about the unity of all Christians. The Catholic Church implemented most of these suggestions, to the great depression of many conservative Catholics. Pope Paul VI and John Paul II have traveled the world embracing and honoring the Patriarchs and leaders of the separated Churches. The major Patriarchs of the world have been dialoguing about unity with love and patience, with faith, and kindness.
Pope John Paul II wrote two Apostolic Letters on unity: "The Light of the East" and "Ut Unum Sint". Both letters are full of love, kindness, and compromise on all things except faith. By their fruits you will know them.
Matthew 18:15-20 tells me that whosoever is not working for the unity of all Christians should be treated like a heathen and a publican. Whosoever is not working for unity has no love. Whosoever is not working for the unity Christ prayed for is not Christian.
Unity can only come about by compromise, but compromise on matters of faith is to compromise Christ. We all know we cannot do that. When we dialogue, and dialogue we must if we have love for Christ, I will ask you to show me your power to prove your interpretation of your faith. For Christ says that his works prove His words, and Paul says, "for the kingdom of God is not in puffed up speech but in power." (1 Cor. 4:20) and in (2 Tim 3:4) "they have the appearance of good but not the power of God." That power is miracles. Miracles bear witness to the faith. Miracles are Gods works. Show me your faith without miracles, and I will show you my faith with miracles. By their fruits you will know them.
WHAT WAYS COULD UNITY TAKE PLACE?
Let us suppose that I asked where you got the authority to preach the gospel. You would probably say,
"The Lord sent me."
I will say, "Prove it. Where are your credentials? Show me your testimonials; give me clear proof that Jesus Christ has really sent you to be His ambassador, to declare His Revelation."
"This Blessed Book, the Bible, the Word of God is my credentials."
"My good sir," I would reply, "that is no answer at all. The Bible proves nothing about YOU; where do you find any passage in the Bible appointing you to expound the Gospel to me? Granting it is the Word of God, what right, what title have you to set yourself up as an authoritative and infallible interpreter of it to others.?"
"Oh, I am not infallible."
"Well, that is enough. You will not do for me. I want somebody infallible. You are simply airing your own opinions."
"But I am a saved man, and-----"
"Perhaps you are, and perhaps you aren't; it is a disputable point. In any case, that is of no consequence to me."
"The Lord has called me to tell sinners of His wonderful salvation."
"Proof, my dear sir, proof. I have only your word for that. Can you work miracles, for example? Can you produce evidence like St. Paul of your Heavenly call? Have you a letter testifying to your appointment? It is plain to me that you are only a self-constituted preacher of certain stock phrases about salvation torn haphazardly out of the New Testament, without coherence or connection with the rest. I ask once for all, can you, or can you not, prove to my satisfaction that you have been authorized to teach me or anybody else all that God has revealed?"
"Oh, take that Book, and read it for yourself."
"That is what you did without help. What I want is someone I can trust to explain to me that and everything else that Christ taught. I understand He chose a body of men to go forth and teach the Gospel He brought from Heaven. They were to 'teach all nations' the truth He first taught them, and He promised He would be with them Himself all days, even to the end of the world. They must be somewhere about, then, these men, or their successors, if I could only find them. You evidently are not one of them. Good-bye." Paraphrased from "What Faith Really Means"
by Father Graham, 1914.
Protestants believe in Scripture only, but they cannot show in Scripture where in the Scriptures it says that. Catholics and Orthodox Churches believe Scripture is the divinely inspired Word of God, and that Tradition is what the
fathers universally, in time, taught was the meaning of Scripture. Because each and every person interprets something in the Scriptures in a different way, we now have divided the Kingdom of God into 27,000 sects.
The word "Demon" means "to divide". Even among the Catholics and Orthodox they interpret history in different ways. The solution is dialogue.
I am a layman with no Theological Degrees in religion at all. Invite me to talk and debate in your church. Do not invite me to just listen as if to force your beliefs on me, but an honest interaction of faith in love and charity.
People even have different ideas of what unity means. The Orthodox say they already have unity with their "Plurus Unum". The Eastern Catholics say they have unity in their "Autocephalous" bishops. Protestants say they have unity in their "Pluralism". Catholics say they have unity "in union with the Pope". Some cults say that if you do not belong to their Church (even though it might be only one building throughout the whole world) you will be lost.
If Plurus Unum (first among many) really works, why do the different Orthodox Churches have different beliefs on the basic facts of religion: like the Trinity, the Resurrection of the Body, or even when the soul goes to heaven. Is this unity? They call it unity, but does God call it unity?
If Autocephalous works (the belief that each bishop is the absolute boss of his people with no other authority over him), who is to say what geographical area he is to cover? What if he is an Arian? Or, perhaps two Autocephalous bishops can build churches side by side and attract whoever they can. In Damascus there are nine bishops.
If Councils are the rule of faith, why haven't the Orthodox had a council since the Sixth Century? Are there no problems to be resolved? Who is capable of ratifying a council all of the members? Only a majority? What if there is a deadlock? What if members can't attend? If only the Patriarchs have to sign, then what if they disagree?
If only the first Four, Five, Six, or Seven Councils are the rule of Faith, has anyone ever read them? Which version have you read? There are many versions. Who keeps the authentic version? Who has the entire world trusted to keep the original for 1600 years?
If Pluralism is already unity, then why do they attack each others faith? Pluralism is the belief that there are many roads to heaven and each person can choose his own method of getting there, there being no bad methods, and no taking into account God's method.
So what do we say? Do we already have unity? No! Does Christ want unity? Yes! Can we call ourselves Christians if we do not do all that we can for this unity? No! How can this unity come about?
There are only a few possibilities. The Holy Father has said he is willing to look at new ways of bringing about unity. What ways are possible? Is it possible to have unity without a President? Could we have unity with a Senate of Patriarchs? Could we have a Constitutional Republic with a written document that everyone followed? Who would, then, interpret the meaning of the document when it was disputed?
What if we decided that unity could only come about with a single President with the power to veto the Senate? Who would that President be? Where would he have his office? What city would he live in? Who would elect him? How long would he hold office? Who could impeach him?
What if all the major Churches of the world sent their top theologians to one university and we, the people, demanded of them not to come out until they reconciled a united faith and a united Church as Christ prayed for?
What if all these theologians decided that unity could only happen with a single leader? What if they decided that all these separated Churches should re-elect this leader? What if all (even the Pope of Rome) agreed to send electors to one place and not come out until a leader of the whole Christian World would be agreed on? Who would you imagine this man to be? Where would you imagine he would live?
I will tell you what I personally know, and that is that all the separated Patriarchs of the world love with a true and honest love Pope John Paul II. My own opinion is that if he were to allow an election (and he has the authority to do that under Canon Law) he would be re-elected even if only the Patriarchs of the separated Churches voted.
But the question is not who it should be, since most people in the world would pick John Paul II; but the real question is should there be one, and only one, leader of the Whole Universal Church of the World.
What everyone should ask is: did Christ set up the idea of a single head of His Church?
DOES THE CONCEPT OF POPE DIVIDE CHRISTIANS OR UNITE THEM?