The Church Fathers and the Primacy of the Apostolic See by Joe Gallegos
"The church of God which sojourns at Rome to the church of God which sojourns at Corinth ... But if any disobey the words spoken by him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger."
Clement of Rome,Pope,1st Epistle to the Corinthians,1,59:1 (c.A.D. 96),in GILES,1-2
"Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which has obtained mercy, through the majesty of the Mast High God the Father, and of Jesus Christ, His only-begotten Son; the Church which is sanctified and enlightened by the will of God, who farmed all things that are according to the faith and love of Jesus Christ, our God and Saviour; the Church which presides in the place of the region of the Romans, and which is worthy of God, worthy of honour, worthy of the highest happiness, worthy of praise, worthy of credit, worthy of being deemed holy, and which presides over love..."
Ignatius of Antioch,Epistle to the Romans, Prologue (A.D. 110), in ANF,I:73
"There is extant also another epistle written by Dionysius to the Romans, and addressed to Soter, who was bishop at that time. We cannot do better than to subjoin some passages from this epistle, in which he commends the practice of the Romans which has been retained down to the persecution in our own days. His words are as follows: For from the beginning it has been your practice to do good to all the brethren in various ways, and to send contributions to many churches in every city. Thus relieving the want of the needy, and making provision for the brethren in the mines by the gifts which you have sent from the beginning, you Romans keep up the hereditary customs of the Romans, which your blessed bishop Soter has not only maintained, but also added to, furnishing an abundance of supplies to the saints, and encouraging the brethren from abroad with blessed words, as a loving father his children.' In this same epistle he makes mention also of Clement's epistle to the Corinthians, showing that it had been the custom from the beginning to read it in the church. His words are as follows: To-day we have passed the Lord's holy day, in which we have read your epistle. From it, whenever we read it, we shall always be able to draw advice, as also from the former epistle, which was written to us through Clement.' The same writer also speaks as follows concerning his own epistles, alleging that they had been mutilated: As the brethren desired me to write epistles, I wrote. And these epistles the apostles of the devil have filled with tares, cutting out some things and adding others. For them a woe is reserved. It is, therefore, not to be wondered at if some have attempted to adulterate the Lord's writings also, since they have formed designs even against writings which are of less accounts.' "
Dionysius of Corinth,To Pope Soter(A.D. 171),Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History,4:23,in NPNF2:1:200-202
"Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] 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 [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre- eminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere."
Irenaeus,Against Heresies,3:3:2 (A.D. 180),in ANF,I:1415-416
"A question of no small importance arose at that time. For the parishes of all Asia, as from an older tradition, held that the fourteenth day of the moon, on which day the Jews were commanded to sacrifice the lamb, should be observed as the feast of the Saviour's passover. It was therefore necessary to end their fast on that day, whatever day of the week it should happen to be. But it was not the custom of the churches in the rest of the world to end it at this time, as they observed the practice which, from apostolic tradition, has prevailed to the present time, of terminating the fast on no other day than on that of the resurrection of our Saviour...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.But this did not please all the bishops. And they besought him to consider the things of peace, and of neighborly unity and love. Words of theirs are extant, sharply rebuking Victor. Among them was Irenaeus, who, sending letters in the name of the brethren in Gaul over whom he presided, maintained that the mystery of the resurrection of the Lord should be observed only on the Lord's day. He fittingly admonishes Victor that he should not cut off whole churches of God which observed the tradition of an ancient custom ..."
Pope Victor & Easter(c.A.D. 195),Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History 5:23,24,in NPNF2,I:241-243
"And he says to him again after the resurrection, 'Feed my sheep.' It is on him that he builds the Church, and to him that he entrusts the sheep to feed. And although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single Chair, thus establishing by his own authority the source and hallmark of the (Church's) oneness. No doubt the others were all that Peter was, but a primacy is given to Peter, and it is (thus) made clear that there is but one flock which is to be fed by all the apostles in common accord. If a man does not hold fast to this oneness of Peter, does he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he deserts the Chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, has he still confidence that he is in the Church? This unity firmly should we hold and maintain, especially we bishops, presiding in the Church, in order that we may approve the episcopate itself to be the one and undivided."
Cyprian,The Unity of the Church,4-5 (Primacy Text,A.D. 251/256),NE,228-229
"After such things as these, moreover, they still dare--a false bishop having been appointed for them by, heretics--to set sail and to bear letters from schismatic and profane persons to the throne of Peter, and to the chief church whence priestly unity takes its source; and not to consider that these were the Romans whose faith was praised in the preaching of the apostle, to whom faithlessness could have no access."
Cyprian,To Cornelius,Epistle 54/59:14(A.D. 252),in ANF,V:344
"For Dionysius, Bishop of Rome, having written also against those who said that the Son of God was a creature and a created thing, it is manifest that not now for the first time but from of old the heresy of the Arian adversaries of Christ has been anathematised by all. And Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, making his defence concerning the letter he had written, appears in his turn as neither thinking as they allege, nor having held the Arian error at all."
Athanasius,Dionysius of Rome,13 (A.D. 352),in NPNF2,IV:180
"Supposing, as you assert, that some offence rested upon those persons, the case ought to have been conducted against them, not after this manner, but according to the Canon of the Church. Word should have been written of it to us all , that so a just sentence might prceed from all. For the sufferers were Bishops, and Churches of no ordinary note, but those which the Apostles themselves had governed in their own persons. 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."
Athanasius,Pope Julius to the Eusebians,Defense Against the Arians, 35(A.D. 347),in NPNF2,IV:118
Athanasius attended and sanctioned the deliberations of the Council of Sardica and referred to the Council of Sardica as "the great Council" (Defense Against the Arians 1) or "the Holy Synod" (Letter to the People of Antioch 5)
"Bishop Hosius said: This also it is necessary to add, that no bishop pass from his own province to another province in which there are bishops, unless indeed he be called by his brethren, that we seem not to close the gates of charity. And this case likewise is to be provided for, that if in any province a bishop has some matter against his brother and fellow-bishop, neither of the two should call in as arbiters bishops from another province. But if perchance sentence be given against a bishop in any matter and he supposes his case to be not unsound but good, in order that the question may be reopened, let us, if it seem good to your charity, honour the memory of Peter the Apostle, and let those who gave judgment write to Julius, the bishop of Rome, so that, if necessary, the case may be retried by the bishops of the neighbouring provinces and let him appoint arbiters; but if it cannot be shown that his case is of such a sort as to need a new trial, let the judgment once given not be annulled, but stand good as before."
Council of Sardica,Canon III (A.D. 343/344),in NPNF2,XIV:416-417
"Bishop Gaudentius said: If it seems good to you, it is necessary to add to this decision full of sincere charity which thou hast pronounced, that if any bishop be deposed by the sentence of these neighbouring bishops, and assert that he has fresh matter in defence, a new bishop be not settled in his see, unless the bishop of Rome judge and render a decision as to this."
Council of Sardica,Canon IV (A.D. 343/344),in NPNF2,XIV:418
"Bishop Hosius said: Decreed, that if any bishop is accused, and the bishops of the same region assemble and depose him from his office, and he appealing, so to speak, takes refuge with the most blessed bishop of the Roman church, and he be willing to give him a hearing, and think it right to renew the examination of his case, let him be pleased to write to those fellow-bishops who are nearest the province that they may examine the particulars with care and accuracy and give their votes on the matter in accordance with the word of truth. And if any one require that his case be heard yet again, and at his request it seem good to move the bishop of Rome to send presbyters a latere, let it be in the power of that bishop, according as he judges it to be good and decides it to be right that some be sent to be judges with the bishops and invested with his authority by whom they were sent. And be this also ordained. But if he think that the bishops are sufficient for the examination and decision of the matter let him do what shall seem good in his most prudent judgment. The bishops answered: What has been said is approved."
Council of Sardica,Canon V (A.D. 343/344),in NPNF2,XIV:419
"What we have always believed, that we now know, for experience is proving and confirming for each of us what he has heard with his ears. It is true what the Apostle Paul, the most blessed teacher of the Gentiles, said of himself: 'Do ye seek a proof of him who speaks in me?' For, since the Lord Christ dwelt in him, there can be no doubt that the Spirit spoke by through his soul and animated the instrument of his body. And thus you, dearly beloved brother, though distant in body, have been with us in unison of mind and will. The reason for your absence was both honorable and imperative, that the schismatic wolves might not rob and plunder by stealth nor the heretical dogs bark madly in the rapid fury nor the very serpent, the devil, discharge his blasphemous venom. So it seems to us right and altogether fitting that priests of the Lord from each and every province should report to their head, that is, to the See of Peter, the Apostle."
Council of Sardica,To Pope Julius (A.D. 342),as cited by James T. Shotwell and Louise Ropes Loomis The See of Peter (New York:Columbia,1927),pp.527-528.
"You cannot deny that you know that in the city of Rome the Chair was first conferred on Peter, in which the prince of all the Apostles, Peter,sat ... in which Chair unity should be preserved by all, so that he should now be a schismatic and a sinner who should set up another Chair against that unique one."
Optatus of Mileve,The Schism of Donatists,2:2-3 (c.A.D. 367),in GCC,55
"For the good of unity Blessed Peter deserved to be preferred before the rest, and alone received the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, that he might communicate them to the rest."
Optatus of Mileve,The Schism of Donatists,7:3 (c.A.D. 367),in GCC,50
"Yet, at the very outset, error was so far set right by the bishops on whom the attempt was made at Ariminum to compel them to manipulate or innovate on the faith, that they confessed themselves seduced by opposite arguments, or owned that they had not perceived any contradiction to the opinion of the Fathers livered at Nicaea. 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 Vincentius, whose stainless episcopate had lasted so many years, nor the rest, gave in their adhesion to such doctrines. And this is the more significant, since, as has been already said, the very men who seemed to be tricked into surrender, themselves, in their wiser moments, testified their disapproval."
Pope Damasus[regn. A.D. 366-384],About Council at Arminum,Epistle 1 (A.D. 371),in Theodoret's Church History,in NPNF2,III:83
"Since the East, shattered as it is by the long-standing feuds, subsisting between its peoples, is bit by bit tearing into shreds the seamless vest of the Lord, woven from the top throughout,' since the foxes are destroying the vineyard of Christ, and since among the broken cisterns that hold no water it is hard to discover the sealed fountain' and the garden inclosed,' I think it my duty to consult the chair of Peter, and to turn to a church whose faith has been praised by Paul. I appeal for spiritual food to the church whence I have received the garb of Christ. The wide space of sea and land that lies between us cannot deter me from searching for the pearl of great price.' Wheresoever the body is, there will the eagles be gathered together.' Evil children have squandered their patrimony; you alone keep your heritage intact. The fruitful soil of Rome, when it receives the pure seed of the Lord, bears fruit an hundredfold; but here the seed corn is choked in the furrows and nothing grows but darnel or oats. In the West the Sun of righteousness is even now rising; in the East, Lucifer, who fell from heaven, has once more set his throne above the stars. Ye are the light of the world,' ye are the salt of the earth,' ye are "vessels of gold and of silver." Here are vessels of wood or of earth, which wait for the rod of iron,and eternal fire. Yet, though your greatness terrifies me, your kindness attracts me. From the priest I demand the safe-keeping of the victim, from the shepherd the protection due to the sheep. Away with all that is overweening; let the state of Roman majesty withdraw. 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. But since by reason of my sins I have betaken myself to this desert which lies between Syria and the uncivilized waste, I cannot, owing to the great distance between us, always ask of your sanctity the holy thing of the Lord. Consequently I here follow the Egyptian confessors who share your faith, and anchor my frail craft under the shadow of their great argosies. I know nothing of Vitalis; I reject Meletius; I have nothing to do with Paulinus. He that gathers not with you scatters; he that is not of Christ is of Antichrist."
Jerome,To Pope Damasus,Epistle 15:1-2(A.D. 375),in NPNF2,VI:18
"But he was not so eager as to lay aside caution. He called the bishop to him, and esteeming that there can be no true thankfulness except it spring from true faith, he enquired whether he agreed with the Catholic bishops, that is, with the Roman Church?"
Ambrose,The death of his brother Satyrus,1:47(A.D. 378),in NPNF2,X:168
"Your grace must be besought not to permit any disturbance of the Roman Church, the head of the whole Roman World and of the most holy faith of the Apostles, for from thence flow out to all(churches) the bonds of sacred communion."
Ambrose,To Emperor Gratian,Epistle 11:4(A.D. 381),in SPP,160
"To your inquiry we do not deny a legal reply, because we, upon whom greater zeal for the Christian religion is incumbent than upom the whole body, out of consideration for our office do not have the liberty to dissimulate, nor to remain silent. We carry the weight of all who are burdened; nay rather the blessed apostle Peter bears these in us, who, as we trust, protects us in all matters of his administration, and guards his heirs."
Pope Sircius[regn. A.D. 384-399],To Himerius,Epistle 1(A.D. 385),in DEN,36-37
"Or rather, if we hear him here, we shall certainly see him hereafter, if not as standing near him, yet see him we certainly shall, glistening near the Throne of the king. Where the Cherubim sing the glory, where the Seraphim are flying, there shall we see Paul, with Peter, and as a chief and leader of the choir of the Saints, and shall enjoy his generous love. For if when here he loved men so, that when he had the choice of departing and being with Christ, he chose to be here, much more will he there display a warmer affection. I love Rome even for this, although indeed one has other grounds for praising it, both for its greatness, and its antiquity, and its beauty, and its populousness, and for its power, and its wealth, and for its successes in war. But I let all this pass, and esteem it blessed on this account, that both in his lifetime he wrote to them, and loved them so, and talked with them whiles he was with us, and brought his life to a close there. Wherefore the city is more notable upon this ground, than upon all others together. And as a body great and strong, it hath 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 thence will Paul be caught up, from thence Peter. Just bethink you, and shudder (frixate) at the thought of what a sight Rome will see, when Paul ariseth suddenly from that deposit, together with Peter, and is lifted up to meet the Lord. (1 Thess. iv. 17.) What a rose will Rome send up to Christ! (Is. xxxv. 1) what two crowns will the city have about it! what golden chains will she be girded with! what fountains possess! Therefore I admire the city, not for the much gold, not for the columns, not for the other display there, but for these pillars of the Church. (1 Cor. xv. 38.) Would that it were now given me to throw myself round (pericuqhnai) the body of Paul, and be riveted to the tomb, and to see the dust of that body that "filled up that which was lacking" after "Christ" Col. i. 24), that bore "the marks" (stigmata,) (Gal. vi. 17) that sowed the Gospel everywhere yea, the dust of that body through which he ran to and fro everywhere!"
Chrysostom,Epistle to the Romans,Homily 32:24(c.A.D. 391), in NPNF1,XI:561-562
"Number the bishops from the See of Peter itself. And in that order of Fathers see who has succeeded whom. That is the rock against which the gates of hell do not prevail"
Augustine,Psalm against the Party of Donatus,18(A.D. 393),in GCC,51
"I am held in the communion of the Catholic Church by...and by the succession of bishops from the very seat of Peter, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection commended His sheep to be fed up to the present episcopate."
Augustine,Against the Letter of Mani,5(A.D. 395),in GCC,78
"Carthage was also near the countries over the sea, and distinguished by illustrious renown,so that it had a bishop of more than ordinary influence, who could afford to disregard a number of conspiring enemies because he saw himself joined by letters of communion to the Roman Church, in which the supremacy of an apostolic chair has always flourished"
Augustine,To Glorius et.al,Epistle 43:7(A.D. 397),in NPNF1,I:278
"If the lineal succession of bishops is to be considered with how much more benefit to the Church do we reckon from Peter himself,to whom, as bearing in a figure the whole Church, the Lord said: Upon this rock I will build my church,and the gates of hell shall not conquer it!' For to Peter succeeded Linus,Clement...Damsus,Sircius,Anastasius. In this order of sucession no Donatist bishop is too be found."
Augustine,To Generosus,Epistle 53:2(A.D. 400),in GILES,180-181
"The chair of the Roman Church, in which Peter sat, and in which Anastasius sits today."
Augustine,Against the Letters of Petillian,2:51(A.D. 402),in GCC,78
"In making inquiry with respect to those things that should be treated with all solicitude by bishops,and especially by a true and just and Catholic Council,by preserving,as you have done,the example of ancient tradition,and by being mindful of ecclesiastical discipline,you have truly strengthened the vigour of our religion,no less now in consulting us than before in passing sentence. 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 the Apostle from the very episcopate and whole authority of this name is derived.Following in his footsteps, we know how to condemn the evil and to approve the good. So also, you have by your sacredotal office preserve the customs of the Fathers,and have not spurned that which they decreed by a divine and not human sentence,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),should receive what they ought to enjoin,whom they ought to wash,and whom that water,worthy of pure bodies,should avoid as defiled with uncleansable filth.I congratulate you,therefore,dearest brethren,that you have directed letters to us by our brother and fellow-bishop Julius,and that,while caring for the Churches which you rule,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; so that the Church being established in her rules and confirmed by this decree of just pronouncement against such errors,may be unable to fear those men,etc."
Pope Innocent[regn A.D. 401-417],To the Council of Carthage,Epistle 29(A.D. 417),in SEP,146-147
"Although the tradition of the Fathers has attributed to the Apostolic See so great authority that none would dare to contest its judgements...For(Peter) himself has care over all the Churches, and above all that in which he sat nor does he suffer any of its priveleges or decisions to be shaken"
Pope Zosimus[regn A.D. 417-418 ],To Aurelius and the Council of Carthage,Epistle 12(A.D. 418),in GCC,95,115
"For it has never been allowed to discuss again what has once been decided by the Apostolic See"
Pope Boniface[regn A.D. 418-422],To Rufus Bishop of Thessalonica,Epistle 13(A.D. 422),in GCC,115
"The rising pestilence was first cut short by Rome,the see of Peter,which having become the head to the world of the pastoral office,holds by religion whatever it holds not by arms."
Prosper of Aquitaine,Song on the Enemies of Grace,1(A.D. 429),in GCC,79
"Joining to yourself,therefore,the sovereignt of our See,and assuming our place with authority,you will execute this sentence with accurate rigour:that within ten days,counted from the day of your notice,he shall condemn his[Nestorius'] false teachings in a written confession."
Pope Celestine[regn. A.D. 422-432],To Cyril of Alexandria,Epistle 11(A.D. 430),in GCC,88
"The Holy Synod said:'Since most impious Nestorius will not obey our citation, and has not received the most holy and God-fearing bishops whom we sent to him,we have necessarily betaken ourselves to the examination of his impieties;and having apprehended from his letters,and from his writings,and from his recent sayings in this metropolis,which have been reported,that his opinions and teachings are impious,we being necessarily compelled thereto by the canons and by the leter of our most holy father and colleague,Celestine,bishop of the Roman Church,with many tears,have arrived at the following sentence against him:--'OurLord Jesus Christ,Who has been blasphemed by him,defines by this present most holy synod that the same Nestorius is deprived of episcopal dignity and of all sacredotal intercourse."
Council of Ephesus,Session I(A.D. 431),in GCC,89-90
"And all the most reverend bishops at the same time cried out. This is a just judgment. To Coelestine, a new Paul! To Cyril a new Paul! To Coelestine the guardian of the faith! To Coelestine of one mind with the synod! To Coelestine the whole Synod offers its thanks! One Coelestine! One Cyril! One faith of the Synod! One faith of the world!....Arcadius...said:...Wherefore we desire to ask your blessedness, that you command that we taught what has been already decreed by your holiness.... Theodotus...said: The God of the whole world has made manifest the justice of the judgment pronounced by the holy Synod by the writings of the most religious bishop Coelestine, and by the coming of your holiness. For ye have made manifest the zeal of the most holy and reverend bishop Coelestine, and his care for the pious faith. And since very reasonably your reverence is desirous of learning what has been done from the minutes of the acts concerning the deposition of Nestorius your reverence will be fully convinced of the justice of the sentence, and of the zeal of the holy Synod, and the symphony of the faith which the most pious and holy bishop Coelestine has proclaimed with a great voice, of course after your full conviction, the rest shall be added to the present action."
Council of Ephesus,Session II (A.D. 431),in NPNF2,XIV:222-223
"Philip, presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See, said: 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 Saviour and Redeemer of the human race, and that to him was given the power of loosing and binding sins: Our holy and most blessed Pope Celestine the bishop is according to due order his successor and holds his place....Accordingly the decision of all churches is firm, for the priests of the eastern and western churches are present....Wherefore Nestorius knows that he is alienated from the communion of the priests of the Catholic Church."
Council of Ephesus,Session III (A.D. 431),in GILES,252
"B. Peter in his successors has delivered what he received."
Pope SixtusIII[regn. A.D. 432-440],To John of Antioch,Epistle 6(A.D. 433),in GCC,95
"For he[Pope Sixtus] wrote what was in accord with the holy synod[Council of Ephesus],and confirmed all of its acts,an is agreement with us."
Cyril of Alexandria,To Acacius of Meletine,Epistle 40(A.D. 434),in GCC,114
"And since these heretics were trying to bring the Apostolic See round their view,African councils of holy bishops also did their best to persuade the holy Pope of the city(first the veneranle Innocent,and afterwards his successor Zosimus) that this heresy was to be abhorred and condemned by Catholic faith. And these bishops so great a See successively branded them,and cut them off from the members of the Church,giving letters to the African Churches in the West,and to the Churches of the East,and declared that they were to be anathematised and avoided by all Catholics.The judgement pronounced upon them by the Catholic Church of God was heard and followed also by the most pious Emperor Ho they had wandered,and are yet returning,as the truth of the right faith becomes known against this detestable error."
Possidius,Life of Augustine,18(A.D. 437),in GCC,80-81
"The example of Pope Stephen in resisting the Iteration of Baptism. Great then is the example of these same blessed men, an example plainly divine, and worthy to be called to mind, and medirated upon continually by every true Catholic, who, like the seven-branched candlestick, shining with the sevenfold light of the Holy Spirit, showed to posterity how thenceforward the audaciousness of profane novelty, in all the several rantings of error, might be crushed by the authority of hallowed antiquity. Nor is there anything new in this? For it has always been the case in the Church, that the more a man is under the influence of religion, so much the more prompt is he to oppose innovations. Examples there are without number: but to be brief, we will take one, and that, in preference to others, from the Apostolic See, so that it may be clearer than day to every one with how great energy, with how great zeal, with how great earnestness, the blessed successors of the blessed apostles have constantly defended the integrity of the religion which they have once received. Once on a time then, Agrippinus, bishop of Carthage, of venerable memory, held the doctrine--and he was the first who held it --that Baptism ought to be repeated, contrary to the divine canon, contrary to the rule of the universal Church, contrary to the customs and institutions of our ancestors. This innovation drew after it such an amount of evil, that it not only gave an example of sacrilege to heretics of all sorts, but proved an occasion of error to certain Catholics even. When then all men protested against the novelty, and the priesthood everywhere, each as his zeal prompted him, opposed it, Pope Stephen of blessed memory, Prelate of the Apostolic See, in conjunction indeed with his colleagues but yet himself the foremost, withstood it, thinking it right, I doubt not, that as he exceeded all others in the authority of his place, so he should also in the devotion of his faith. In fine, in an epistle sent at the time to Africa, he laid down this rule: Let there be no innovation--nothing but what has been handed down.' For that holy and prudent man well knew that true piety admits no other rule than that whatsoever things have been faithfully received from our fathers the same are to be faithfully consigned to our children; and that it is our duty, not to lead religion whither we would, but rather to follow religion whither it leads; and that it is the part of Christian modesty and gravity not to hand down our own beliefs or observances to those who come after us, but to preserve and keep what we have received from those who went before us. What then was the issue of the whole matter? What but the usual and customary one? Antiquity was retained, novelty was rejected."
Vincent of Lerins,Commonitories,6(A.D. 434),in NPNF2,XIV:134-135
"Although, therefore, dearly beloved, we be found both weak and slothful in fulfilling the duties of our office, because, whatever devoted and vigorous action we desire to do, we are hindered by the frailty of our very condition; yet having the unceasing propitiation of the Almighty and perpetual Priest, who being like us and yet equal with the Father, brought down His Godhead even to things human, and raised His Manhood even to things Divine, we worthily and piously rejoice over His dispensation, whereby, though He has delegated the care of His sheep to many shepherds, yet He has not Himself abandoned the guardianship of His beloved flock. And from His overruling and eternal protection we have received the support of the Apostles' aid also, which assuredly does not cease from its operation: and the strength of the foundation, on which the whole superstructure of the Church is reared, is not weakened by the weight of the temple that rests upon it. For the solidity of that faith which was praised in the chief of the Apostles is perpetual: and as that remains which Peter believed in Christ, so that remains which Christ instituted in Peter. For when, as has been read in the Gospel lesson, the Lord had asked the disciples whom they believed Him to be amid the various opinions that were held, and the blessed Peter bad replied, saying, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,' the Lord says, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona, because flesh and flood hath not revealed it to thee, but My Father, which is in heaven. And I say to thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth, shall be loosed also in heaven.'The dispensation of Truth therefore abides, and the blessed Peter persevering in the strength of the Rock, which he has received, has not abandoned the helm of the Church, which he undertook. For he was ordained before the rest in such a way that from his being called the Rock, from his being pronounced the Foundation, from his being constituted the Doorkeeper of the kingdom of heaven, from his being set as the Umpire to bind and to loose, whose judgments shall retain their validity in heaven, from all these mystical titles we might know the nature of his association with Christ. And still to-day he more fully and effectually performs what is entrusted to him, and carries out every part of his duty and charge in Him and with Him, through Whom he has been glorified. And so if anything is rightly done and rightly decreed by us, if anything is won from the mercy of God by our daily supplications, it is of his work and merits whose power lives and whose authority prevails in his See. For this, dearly-beloved, was gained by that confession, which, inspired in the Apostle's heart by God the Father, transcended all the uncertainty of human opinions, and was endued with the firmness of a rock, which no assaults could shake. For throughout the Church Peter daily says, 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
"After the reading of the foregoing epistle [i.e. the Tome of Pope Leo], the most reverend bishops cried out: This is the faith of the fathers, this is the faith of the Apostles. So we all believe, thus the orthodox believe. Anathema to him who does not thus believe. Peter has spoken thus through Leo [regn. A.D. 440-461]. So taught the Apostles. Piously and truly did Leo teach, so taught Cyril. Everlasting be the memory of Cyril. Leo and Cyril taught the same thing, anathema to him who does not so believe. This is the true faith. Those of us who are orthodox thus believe. This is the faith of the fathers. Why were not these things read at Ephesus [i.e. at the heretical synod held there] ? These are the things Dioscorus hid away."
Council of Chalcedon,Session II (A.D. 451),in NPNF2,XIV:259
"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, hath stripped him of the episcopate, and hath alienated from him all hieratic worthiness. Therefore let this most holy and great synod sentence the before mentioned Dioscorus to the canonical penalties."
Council of Chalcedon,Session III (A.D. 451),in NPNF2,XIV:259-260
"The great and holy and universal Synod...in the metropolis of Chalcedon...to the most holy and blessed archbishop of Rome, Leo....being set as the mouthpiece unto all of the blessed Peter, and imparting the blessedness of his Faith unto all...and besides all this he [Dioscorus] stretched forth his fury even against him who had been charged with the custody of the vine by the Savior, we mean of course your holiness, ...."
Leo the Great,Pope,Chalcdeon to Pope Leo,Epistle 98:1-2 (A.D. 451),in NPNF2,XII:72
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