The Church Fathers and the Authority Claimed by the Pope by Joe Gallegos
"The Church of God which sojourns in Rome to the Church of God which sojourns in Corinth....If anyone disobey the things which have been said by Him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger."
Clement of Rome[regn. c A.D.91-101],1st Epistle to the Corinthians,1,59:1 (c.A.D. 96),in JUR,I:7,12
"Thereupon Victor, who presided over the church at Rome, immediately attempted to cut off from the common unity the parishes of all Asia, with the churches that agreed with them, as heterodox; and he wrote letters and declared all the brethren there wholly excommunicate..."
Victor I [regn A.D. 189-198],in Eusebius EH,24:9,in NPNF2,I:242-243
"Stephen, that he who so boasts of the place of his episcopate, and contends that he holds the succession from Peter, on whom the foundations of the Church were laid...Stephen, who announces that he holds by succession the throne of Peter"
Stephen I [regn A.D. 254-257], Firmilian to Cyprian,Epistle 74/75:17(A.D. 256).in ANF,V:394
"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 s, 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."
Julius[regn A.D. 337-352],To the Eusebians,fragment in Athanasius' Against the Arians,2:35,in NPNF2,IV:118
"Most honourable sons: 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 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 honour, we yet on this very account strive by every means within our power if haply we may be able to achieve the glory of that blessedness....Why then do you again ask me for the condemnation of Timotheus? Here, by the judgment of the apostolic see, in the presence of Peter, bishop of Alexandria, he was condemned, together with his teacher, Apollinarius, who will also in the day of judgment undergo due punishment and torment. But if he succeeds in persuading some less stable men, as though having some hope, after by his confession changing the true hope which is in Christ, with him shall likewise perish whoever of set purpose withstands the order of the Church. May God keep you sound, most honoured sons."
Damasus[regn A.D. 366-384],To the Eastern Bishops,fragment in Theodoret's EH,5:10,in NPNF2,III:139
"We bear the burdens of all who are heavy laden; nay, rather, the blessed apostle Peter bears them in us and protects and watches over us, his heirs,as we trust,in all the care of his ministry....Now let all your priests observe the rule here given, unless they wish to be plucked from the solid, apostolic rock upon which Christ built the universal Church....I think, dearest brother, disposed of all the questions which were contained in your letter of inquiry and have, I believe, returned adequate answers to each of the cases you reported by our son, the priest Basianus, to the Roman Church as to the head of your body....And whereas no priest of the Lord is free to be ignorant of the statutes of the Apostolic See and the venerable provisions of the canons"
Sircius[regn c A.D. 384-399],To Himerius,bishop of Tarragona(Spain),1,3,20,in SL,699,701,707
"Care shall not be lacking on my part to guard the faith of the Gospel as regards my peoples, and to visit by letter, as far as I am able, the parts of my body throughout the divers regions of the earth."
Anastasius[regn A.D. 399-401],Epistle 1,in DOP,182
"In making inquiry with respect to those things that should be treated ... by bishops ... as you have done, the example of ancient tradition ... For you decided that it was proper to refer to our judgement, knowing what is due to the Apostolic See, since all we who are set in this place, desire to follow that Apostle from whom the very episcopate and whole authority of this named derived ... that whatsoever is done, even though it be in distant provinces, should not be ended without being brought to the knowledge of this See, that by its authority the whole just pronouncement should be strengthened, and that from it all other Churches (like waters flowing from their natal source and flowing through the different regions of the world, the pure streams of one incorrupt head)...you also show your solicitude for the well being of all, and that you ask for a decree that shall profit all the Churches of the world at once."
Innocent I[regn A.D. 401-417],To the Council of Carthage,1,2 (A.D. 417), in SEP,146-147
"It is therefore with due care and propriety that you consult the secrets of the Apostolic office that office, I mean, to which belongs, besides the things which are wihtout, the care of all the Churches...Especially as often as a question of faith is discussed, I think that all our brothers and fellow bishops should refer to none other than to Peter, the author of their name and office."
Innocent I[regn A.D. 401-417],To the Council of Mileve,2 (A.D. 417), in SEP,147-148
"Although the tradition of the fathers has attributed to the Apostolic See so great authority that none would dare to contest its judgement, and has preserved this ever in its canons and rules, and current ecclesiastical discipline in its laws still pays the reverence which it ought to the name of Peter...For he himself has care over all the churches, and above all of that which he sat...Since, then Peter is the head of so great authority, and has confirmed the suffrages of our forefathers since his time...and as bishops you are bound to know it; yet; though such was our authority that none could reconsider our decision."
Zosimus[regn A.D. 417-418],To the Council of Carthage,in SPP,175
"For it has never been lawful to reconsider what has once been settled by the apostolic see."
Boniface[regn A.D. 418-422],To Rufus bishop of Thessalonica,in GILES,230
"The universal oredering of the Church at ist birth took its origin from the office of blessed Peter, in which is found both directings power and its supreme authority. From him as from a source, at the time when our religion was in the stage of growth, all churches received their common order. This much is shown by the injunctions of the council of Nicaea, since it did not venture to make a decree in his regard, recognizing that nothing could be added to his dignity: in fact it knew that all had been assigned to him by the word of the Lord. So it is clear that this church is to all churches throughout the world as the head is to the members, and that whoever seperates himself from it becomes an exile from the Christian religion, since he ceases to belong to its fellowship."
Boniface[regn A.D. 418-422],To the bishops of Thessaly,in GILES,230
"None has ever been so rash as to oppose the apostolic primacy, the judgement of which may not be revised; none rebels against it, unless he would judge in his turn."
Boniface[regn A.D. 418-422],To Rufus and bishops of Macedonia,in GILES,231
"Wherefore, assuming to yourself the authority of our see and using our stead and place with power, you will deliver this sentence with utmost severity."
Celestine[regn A.D. 422-427],To Cyril of Alexandria,Epistle 11(A.D. 430),in SPP,208
"The blessed apostle Peter, in his successors, has handed down what he received. Who would be willing to seperate himself from the doctrine of whom the Master himself instructed first among the apostles?"
Sixtus III,[regn A.D. 432-440],To John of Antioch(A.D. 433),in GILES,261
"And so he too rejoices over your good feeling and welcomes your respect for the LORD'S own institution as shown towards the partners of His honour, commending the well ordered love of the whole Church, which ever finds Peter in Peter's See, and from affection for so great a shepherd grows not lukewarm even over so inferior a successor as myself."
Pope Leo the Great[regn. A.D.440-461],Sermon 2(A.D ante 461),in NPNF2,XII:116
" 'Thou an the Christ, the Son of the living God,' and every tongue which confesses the Lord, accepts the instruction his voice conveys. This Faith conquers the devil, and breaks the bonds of his prisoners. It uproots us from this earth and plants us in heaven, and the gates of Hades cannot prevail against it. For with such solidity is it endued by God that the depravity of heretics cannot mar it nor the unbelief of the heathen overcome it."
Pope Leo the Great[regn. A.D.440-461],Sermon 3:2-3(A.D ante 461),in NPNF2,XII:117
"Who does not cease to preside in his see,who will doubt that he rules in every part of the world."
Pope Leo the Great[regn. A.D.440-461],Sermon 5(A.D ante 461),in GCC,95
"But this mysterious function the LORD wished to be indeed the concern of all the apostles, but in such a way that He has placed the principal charge on the blessed Peter, chief of all the Apostles: and from him as from the Head wishes His gifts to flow to all the body: so that any one who dares to secede from Peter's solid rock may understand that he has no part or lot in the divine mystery."
Pope Leo the Great[regn. A.D.440-461],Epistle 10(A.D 445),in NPNF2,XII:8
The testimony of the Pope Leo the Great is a convenient point to terminate this study. The universal jusridiction and powers are fully developed at this point in Church history, acknowledged by both the Western as well as the Eastern Church.There is no substantive difference in powers expressed by Pope John Paul II and Pope Leo the Great.
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