Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Fathers Speak: The Papacy

The Fathers Speak: 
The Papacy

          One issue that separates us as Catholics from all other Christians is the role of the bishop of Rome, the pope.  It is the only major stumbling block left keeping us from full unity with the Orthodox Churches (though there are a few other theological issues still being worked out).  One area that is providing much promise in that regard is the study of the role of the bishop of Rome in the first Christian millennium.  Here are just a few quotes on the matter from the Fathers of the Church.

With a false bishop appointed for themselves by heretics, they dare even to set sail and carry letters from schismatics and blasphemers to the chair of Peter and to the principal church [at Rome], in which sacerdotal unity has its source"Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle 54, circa A.D. 252

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 thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven."— St. Ambrose, On Repentance, mid-fourth century A.D.

"I follow no leader but Christ and join in communion with none but your blessedness [Pope Damasus I], that is, with the chair of Peter. I know that this is the rock on which the Church has been built." —St. Jerome, Letter to Pope Damasus, A.D. 396

"There are many other things which rightly keep me in the bosom of the Catholic Church. The consent of the people and nations keeps me, her authority keeps me, inaugurated by miracles, nourished in hope, enlarged by love, and established by age. The succession of priests keep me, from the very seat of the apostle Peter (to whom the Lord after his resurrection gave charge to feed his sheep) down to the present episcopate [of Pope Siricius]" – St. Augustine, Against the Epistle of Manichaeus, A.D. 397