Saturday, August 8, 2009

Eastern Papal Florilegium

[I originally posted this florilegium in June, 2007, but I recently updated and polished it, so I decided to re-post it.]

The Pontificator pointed out how, despite Pope St. Gregory's clear insistence on the universal supremacy of Rome, he is a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church. [NOTE: The archives for the Pontificator's original Pontifications blog were almost all lost when he set up a new blog, and on top of that, he recently gave up blogging altogether. Thank God he's too busy being a Roman Catholic priest! -- EBB 27 Jun 07] The declarations of papal supremacy by Gregory the Great, as well his predecessor, Pope St. Leo the Great (also a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church) are perhaps sufficient in themselves to demonstrate the explicit ancient basis for papal supremacy in the Tradition, East and West.

To quote Pope Leo the Great at his most papal:

The Lord . . . wanted His gifts to flow into the entire body from Peter himself, as if from the head, in such a way that anyone who had dared to separate himself from the solidarity of Peter would realize that he was himself no longer a sharer in the divine mystery . . . The Apostolic See . . . has on countless occasions been reported to in consultation by bishops . . . And through the appeal of various cases to this see, decisions already made have been either revoked or confirmed, as dictated by longstanding custom.
(Letter to the Bishops of Vienne, July, 445 A.D., 10:1-2; in Jurgens, William A., ed. and tr., The Faith of the Early Fathers [FEF], 3 volumes, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1970, vol. 3, p. 269)

Although bishops have a common dignity, they are not all of the same rank. Even among the most blessed Apostles, though they were alike in honor, there was a certain distinction of power. All were equal in being chosen, but it was given to one to be preeminent over the others . . . the care of the universal Church would converge in the one See of Peter, and nothing should ever be at odds with this head.
(Letter to Bishop Anastasius of Thessalonica, c.446 A.D., 14:11; in Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, p. 270)

From the whole world only one, Peter, is chosen to preside over the calling of all nations, and over all the other Apostles, and over the Fathers of the Church . . . Peter . . . rules them all, of whom, too, it is Christ who is their chief ruler. Divine condescension, dearly beloved, has granted to this man in a wonderful and marvelous manner the aggregate of its power; and if there was something that it wanted to be his in common with other leaders, it never gave whatever it did not deny to others except through him.
(Sermons, 4:2; in Jurgens, FEF, vol. 3, p. 275)

[Cf. also Vladimir Soloviev, The Russian Church and the Papacy {El Cajon, CA: Catholic Answers, Inc., 2001}, pp. 163ff., for additional striking quotations by Pope Leo IV explicating and asserting his papal sovereignty, insofar as "Peter does not cease to preside in his See and his consortium with the Eternal Pontiff never fails" Works, ed. Migne, 1846, etc., I:155-56}.]

In similar fashion, as Gregory the Great said,

To all who know the Gospel it is clear that by the words of our Lord the care of the whole Church was committed to Blessed Peter, the Prince of the Apostles . . . Behold, he received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, the power to bind and loose was given to him, and the care and principality of the entire church was committed to him . . . Yet he was not the universal Apostle. But . . . John would be called universal Bishop . . . [Popes had never assumed this title, though it had been given them], lest all the Bishops be deprived of their due meed of honor whilst some special honor be conceded to one.
(Epistles, 5, 37; to Emperor Maurice)

In canonizing and venerating these two popes (not to mention the many other popes it has canonized), the Eastern Orthodox Church has enshrined two of the most ardent and lucid defenders of papal supremacy, and eo ipso entrenched papal supremacy, in its own pre-schism Tradition. As the Pontificator says,

What does one do with this development? Should St Gregory have his sainthood taken away from him? It’s clear that papal primacy was not a medieval corruption. It has its roots in the Patristic period (and of course Catholics would say that it has its roots in Scripture).

A reader (Mr. Jones again) objected that "more is required to establish Papal supremacy than a 'Because I say so' coming from a Pope." This is a valid point, as far as it goes. Why trust a pope about the pope? For that matter, why trust Western theology, the rootbed of the papacy, in this debate? What we need is the pure and unpapalized lumen orientalum. So, I decided to compile this long list of (primarily Eastern) patristic and canonical quotations about the Petrine credentials of the Roman See.

Let me add that reading such profoundly Romish stuff by such profoundly Eastern Fathers, frankly, makes my bowels quiver. I nearly wept for my lingering this side of the Tiber when I first read the great St. Maximus's acclamation of Rome's universal supremacy. Seeing it all again, and now with so many more buddies to back him up, makes my head spin. [NOTE: I'm happy to report that, since I first posted this florilegium, I heeded the counsel of these Fathers and became a Catholic (on 27 March 2005) in communion with the bishop of Rome.]

+ + + + + + + + + +

As you read all this, first first keep in mind that, as the Church is one Divine Body and the Tradition is one whole and holy truth, early ambiguity about the "presidency" of Rome (in, e.g., Clement, Ignatius, Irenaeus, Tertullian, et al.) must be understood in light of the subsequent guidance of the Holy Spirit. What ambiguities or rhetorical "excesses" in the early Church were not anathematized by the later reinforces the continuity of thought behind transient verbal ambiguities.

Much the same can be said, for example, about understanding the development of the dogma of the Trinity in Tradition. Early ambiguities must be parsed in light of Nicea, Constantinople, etc. Certain dogmatic developments, crystallizations of organic truths, necessitate working according to and from those dogmas, not without of or against them.

A second important factor ro recall while reading such quotations, is that, despite the attempts of some to reduce such papal rhetoric to, well, mere rhetoric, the historical breadth and explicit doctrinal consistency of these quotations put the lie to the deflationary claim that early papal Romanism is but Classical verbal obeisance. In other words, while there is certainly a rhetorical tradition in which such quotations belong, that context gives us no reason to ignore the content of the patristic testimony about Rome's Petrine primacy. To have the same message proclaimed so clearly, for so long, by so many different people, in so many different cultures and in so many different situations––well, it strains credibility to claim that all of it boils down to mere ornate rhetorical custom. Emphasizing the distorting effects of rhetoric to such an extreme degree actually undermines the perspicuity of Scripture, since the Bible, as an ancient text[1], is even more profoundly obscured by ancient cultural and rhetoric. Words do have meaning, even centuries apart, and people are made to grasp meaning.[2]

A third aspect to consider is this: Outside of the Bishop of Rome, of whom else was it ever said, "Peter has spoken through him!"? Likewise, outside of the Catholic Church, who else can, much less does, still speak about the Pope as the Fathers cited below speak of the Roman See? In other words, what Church still has a coherent Petrine voice and still has a robust Petrine "rhetoric" to match the patristic quotations cited below?

But enough preface. My various adjustments are in brackets, like so: [ – EBB]. Please enter humbly into these words of Holy Christian Tradition.[3]

+ + + + + + + + + + + +

+ St. Ignatius of Antioch (ca. 98-117 A.D.):
"Ignatius, also called Theophorus, to the Church that has found mercy in the transcendent Majesty of the Most High and... which presides in the chief place of the Roman territory, a church worthy of God, worthy of honor... presiding in love, maintaining the law of Christ, and bearer of the Father's name: her [and her members -- EBB] do I therefore salute... who imperturbably enjoy the full measure of God's grace and have every foreign stain filtered out of them."
(Letter to the Romans, preface)

+ Irenaeus of Lyons (ca. 175-189 A.D.):
"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 preeminent authority [propter potentiorem principalitatem] – that is, the faithful everywhere – inasmuch as the Apostolic Tradition has been preserved continuously by those who are everywhere.”
(Adversus Haereses 3:3:2)

+ Hippolytus (ca. 225 A.D.):
"Peter, the Rock of the faith, whom Christ our Lord called blessed, the teacher of the Church, the first disciple, he who has the keys of the kingdom."
(Exfabrico. n.9)

+ Origen (ca. 230 A.D.):
"Peter likewise, on whom the Church was founded by the good pleasure of the Lord, lays it down in his epistle..."
(Origen, De Bono Patientia, p. 484)

+ Cyprian of Carthage (ca. 252 A.D.), writing to Pope Stephen in Rome:
“They [those in favor or re-baptizing lapsed Christians – EBB] dare to sail even to the chair of Peter and carry letters from schismatics and seculars to the principal Church, the source of sacerdotal unity.”
(Epistula 55:14, [PL 3:844-45]) 

[14 Apr 2013 –– I want to insert a detour here. Firmilianus (d. ca. 269) was a bishop of Cæsarea, an eastern see, and is to this day venerated in the eastern and western Church. His claim to fame, as it were, is how he vehemently opposed Pope Stephen in the controversy over the re-baptism of the lapsi (Christians who fell away into heresy under persecution). When Pope Stephen wrote an edict that lapsi could be welcomed back into the Church without being baptized again, but merely by way of the imposition of hands, as was the Roman custom, hardliners like St. Cyprian of Carthage and Firmilian protested to the Pope's "power grab". Opponents of papal authority are wont to cite Cyprian and Firmilian's reactions as proof that there was no early patristic idea of the supremacy and infallibility of the Petrine See at Rome. But this is sloppy for a few reasons. 

First, the mere fact that some bishops opposed a Pope is irrelevant. If uncontested uniformity is the acid test for orthodoxy, then, sorry to say, little if anything in Christian history could assume the mantle of dogma. In the ensuing two centuries after Firmilianus, there was enormous controversy about the origin of the Son of God, the nature of the Incarnation, the personhood of the Spirit, and even the canon of Scripture. Ultimately, however, truth was declared, always in union with the Roman See, by the way, and always in such a way as Eastern Orthodox and conservative Protestants accept to this day. (The phrase Athanasius contra mundum is a good reminder not only that, as far as papal dissent goes, truth is not a matter of conformity, but also that, as far as the Church infallibility goes, the Catholic Church does not claim that only the Bishop of Rome can be infallible. Nor, pace the feverish anti-papalism of this forum thread, does the fact there are many "papas" in the Church negate the Papa-cy of Rome. Analogy, analogy, analogy. Rome is a brother see with all others. Rome is a pope among popes. Peter was an apostle among apostles. The Bible is a book among books. Christ was a man among men. Yes, yes… and yet…!) Moreover, Christ Himself was opposed by His own besserwissers, but that fact isn't cited by Protestants or Eastern Orthodox that there was no "early consensus" about Christ's authority. Indeed, authority is precisely what is needed in the face of such conflict! 

Second, the protests lodged against Pope Stephen were not primarily about his authority, but rather about his orthodoxy. Firmilian did not deny that Peter was the foundation of the Church, nor even that Rome was Peter's successor. In fact, he complained precisely because Stephen "boasts of the place of his episcopate and contends the he holds the succession from Peter, on whom the foundations of the church were laid. Yet, he introduces many other rocks and establishes the buildings of many [heretical] churches! … Stephen, who declares that he holds the chair of Peter by succession, is not stirred with zeal against heretics [as a successor of Peter ought to be]" (5.394 Bercot, emphasis added). As in the case of Honorius, we see that the problem is that a Pope was charged with failing to live up with his calling as the successor of Peter, not that Peter was not the Rock, nor that there was no such Roman succession. Stephen Ray addresses these points very well on pp. 187–188 of Upon This Rock.

Further, as Fr. Stanley Jaki notes in his The Keys of the Kingdom, actions speak louder than words. The fact that St. Cyprian sought Rome's aid against Novatianism speaks volumes, especially since he also wrote of Rome as "the Chair of Peter and to the principal church, in which sacerdotal unity has its source" (Epistle to Cornelius [Bishop of Rome] 59:14). Whatever his complaints against Stephen may have been, he never lost sight of the authority of the Roman See.
Third, to be blunt, Pope Stephen was right and even the Eastern Orthodox recognize this by accepting the position of Pope Stephen concerning lapsi. If Firmilian and Cyprian were right, the Church as a whole would have followed them in(to) that truth. Since, however, they were wrong, and Stephen was right, the Church followed Rome. You can't cite the rectitude of an opposed pope as proof against the papacy. Church history must be judged as a whole, particularly in light of the ways in which Providence has objectively guided Her in the past.]

+ Aphraates the Sage (ca. 330 A.D.), one of the oldest fathers of the Syrian Church:
"[King] David handed over the Kingdom to [Prince] Solomon and was gathered to his people; and Jesus handed over the Keys to Simon and ascended and returned to Him Who sent Him."
(Aphraates, xxi, 13).

+ St. Peter, Bishop of Alexandria (306-311 A.D.):
"Peter, set above the Apostles."
(Peter of Alexandria, Canon. ix, Galland, iv. p. 98)

+ St. Anthony of Egypt (ca. 330 A.D.):
"Peter, the Prince of the Apostles..."
(Epist. xvii., Galland, iv p. 687)

+ St. Ephraem the Syrian (ca. 350 A.D.):
"Then Peter deservedly received the Vicariate of Christ over His people."
(Sermon de Martyrio. SS. App. Petri et Pauli)

“[Peter was] the firstborn of those that bear the Keys.”
("Sermo in SS. Apostolorum", cited in Allnatt, Cathedra Petri [London: Burnes and Oates, 1878], p. 32)

[As if spoken by Jesus:] "Simon my follower, I have made you the foundation of My holy Church. I betimes called you Peter, because you will support all its buildings. You are the inspector of all who will build on earth a Church for Me. If they should wish to build what is false, you, the foundation, will condemn them. You are the head of the fountain from which My teaching flows, you are the chief of My disciples. Through you I will give drink to all peoples. Yours is the life-giving sweetness which I dispense. I have chosen you to be, as it were, the first-born in My institution, and so that, as the heir, you may be the executor of all My treasures. I have given you the keys of My Kingdom. Behold, I have given you authority over all My treasures!"

"To whom, O Lord, didst Thou entrust that most precious pledge of the heavenly keys? To Bar Jonas, the Prince of the Apostles, with whom, I implore Thee, may I share Thy bridal chamber...Our Lord chose Simon Peter and appointed him chief of the Apostles, foundation of the holy Church and guardian of His establishment. He appointed him head of the Apostles and commanded him to feed His flock and teach it laws for preserving the purity of its beliefs."
(Homilies, 4:1, ca. 350 A.D.)

+ St. Athanasius (ca. 362 A.D.):
"Rome is called the Apostolic throne."
(Hist. Arian, ad Monach. n. 3; Migne PG 25:734-35.)

"The Chief, Peter."
(In Ps. xv. 8, Migne, tom. iii., p. 106)

+ St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Patriarch (ca. 363 A.D.):
"Peter, the chief and foremost leader of the Apostles, before a little maid thrice denied the Lord, but moved to penitence, he wept bitterly."
(Catech. ii. n. 15)

+ Optatus (ca. 367 A.D.):
"In the city of Rome the Episcopal chair was given first to Peter, the chair in which Peter sat, the same who was head — that is why he is also called Cephas ["Rock"] — of all the Apostles, the one chair in which unity is maintained by all. Neither do the Apostles proceed individually on their own, and anyone who would presume to set up another chair in opposition to that single chair would, by that very fact, be a schismatic and a sinner.... Recall then the origins of your chair, those of you who wish to claim for yourselves the title of holy Church."
(The Schism of the Donatists, 2:2)

+ St. Gregory of Nazianzen (ca. 370 A.D.):
"Seest thou that of the disciples of Christ, all of whom were great and deserving of the choice, one is called a Rock and is entrusted with the Foundations of the Church..."
(T.i. or. xxii. n.18)

+ St. Gregory of Nyssa (ca. 371 A.D.):
"The memory of Peter, the Head of the Apostles, is celebrated; and magnified indeed with him are the other members of the Church; but [upon him] is the Church of God firmly established. For he is, agreeably to the gift conferred upon him by the Lord, that unbroken and most firm Rock upon which the Lord built His Church."
(Alt. Or. De S. Steph., Galland. t. vi.)"Peter, with his whole soul, associates himself with the Lamb; and, by means of the change of his name, he is changed by the Lord into something more divine. Instead of Simon, being both called and having become a Rock, the great Peter did not by advancing little by little attain unto this grace, but at once he listened to his brother (Andrew), believed in the Lamb, and was through faith perfected, and, having cleaved to the Rock, became himself Peter."
(T. i. Hom. in C. Cantic, xv.)

+ St. Macarius of Egypt (ca. 371 A.D.):
"Moses was succeeded by Peter, who had committed to his hands the new Church of Christ, and the true priesthood."
(Hom. xxvi. n. 23, p. 101)

+ St. Basil the Cappadocian (ca. 329-379 A.D.):
"What a hardened heart would not be induced to fear God’s judgment if even that great exactor of so great a judgment as Peter, who was preferred before all the disciples, who, alone received a greater testimony and blessing that the rest, to whom were trusted the keys of the kingdom of heaven, also has to hear: ‘If I do not wash you, you will have no part in me’.”
(De judicio Dei, Proemium, n. 7 [PG 31:671])

+ St. Epiphanius of Salamis (ca. 385 A.D.):
"Holy men are therefore called the temple of God, because the Holy Spirit dwells in them; as that Chief of the Apostles testifies, he that was found to be blessed by the Lord, because the Father had revealed unto him. To him then did the Father reveal His true Son; and the same [Peter] furthermore reveals the Holy Spirit. This was befitting in the First of the Apostles, that firm Rock upon which the Church of God is built, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. The gates of hell are heretics and heresiarchs. For in every way was the faith confirmed in him who received the keys of heaven; who looses on earth and binds in heaven. For in him are found all subtle questions of faith. He was aided by the Father so as to be [or lay] the Foundation of the security [or firmness] of the faith. He [Peter] heard from the same God, 'feed my lambs'; to him He entrusted the flock; he leads the way admirably in the power of his own Master.
(T. ii. in Anchor)

+ St. John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople (ca. 387 A.D.):
"Peter, that Leader of the choir, that Mouth of the rest of the Apostles, that Head of the brotherhood, that one set over the entire universe, that Foundation of the Church."
(In illud hoc Scitote)

"[Peter], the foundation of the Church, the Coryphaeus of the choir of the Apostles, the vehement lover of Christ ...he who ran throughout the whole world, who fished the whole world; this holy Coryphaeus of the blessed choir; the ardent disciple, who was entrusted with the keys of heaven, who received the spiritual revelation. Peter, the mouth of all Apostles, the head of that company, the ruler of the whole world."
(De Eleemos, iii. 4; Hom. de decem mille tal. 3)

"And why, then, passing by the others, does He converse with Peter on these things? (John 21:15). He was the chosen one of the Apostles, and the mouth of the disciples, and the leader of the choir. On this account, Paul also went up on a time to see him rather than the others (Galatians 1:18). And withal, to show him that he must thenceforward have confidence, as the denial was done away with, He puts into his hands the presidency over the brethren. And He brings not forward the denial, nor reproaches him with what had past, but says, 'If you love me, preside over the brethren, ...and the third time He gives him the same injunction, showing what a price He sets the presidency over His own sheep. And if one should say, 'How then did James receive the throne of Jerusalem?,' this I would answer that He appointed this man [Peter] teacher, not of that throne, but of the whole world."
(In Joan. Hom. lxxxviii. n. 1, tom. Viii)

"'And in those days,' it says, 'Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said.' (Acts v. 15.) Both as being ardent, and as having been put in trust by Christ with the flock, and as having precedence in honor, he always begins the discourse. ... But observe how Peter does everything with the common consent; nothing imperiously. ... 'Men and brethren,' says Peter. For if the Lord called them brethren, much more may he. ... 'And his bishopric let another take' [Psalm lxix, 25]; that is, his office, his priesthood. So that this, he says, is not my counsel, but His who hath foretold these things. For, that he may not seem to be undertaking a great thing, and just such as Christ had done, he adduces the Prophet as a witness. ... Why does he make it their business too? That the matter might not become an object of strife, and they might not fall into contention about it. For if the Apostles themselves once did this, much more might those. This he ever avoids. Wherefore at the beginning he said, 'Men and brethren. It behooves' to choose from among you. He defers the decision to the whole body, thereby both making the elected objects of reverence and himself keeping clear of all invidiousness with regard to the rest. ... Then why did it not rest with Peter to make the election himself: what was the motive? This; that he might not seem to bestow it of favor. And besides, he was not yet endowed with the spirit. ... Not he appointed them: but it was he that introduced the proposition to that effect, at the same time pointing out that even this was not his own, but from old time by prophecy; so that he acted as expositor, not as preceptor. ... Again, consider the moderation of James. He it was who received the Bishopric of Jerusalem, and here he says nothing. Mark also the great moderation of the other Apostles, how they concede the throne to him, and no longer dispute with each other. ... Here is forethought for providing a teacher; here was the first who ordained a teacher. He did not say, ‘We are sufficient.’ So far was he beyond all vain-glory, and he looked to one thing alone. And yet he had the same power to ordain as they all collectively. But well might these things be done in this fashion, through the noble spirit of the man, and because prelacy then was not an affair of dignity, but of provident care for the governed. ... and he asks for one out of the whole body: with good right, as having been put in charge of them: for to him had Christ said, 'And when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.' (Luke xxii. 32, Ben.)"
(Homily III on Acts i. 12.)

"[God wills] to make the Church immovable in so great an onset of waves, and to cause a fisherman to be stronger than any rock, when the whole world wars against him . . . as the Father said, speaking to Jeremias, that He would set him as a column of brass and as a wall; but Jeremias to a single nation, Peter to the whole world. . . . The Father gave to Peter the revelation of the Son [cf. Matthew 16 – EBB] but the Son gave to him to spread that of the Father and of Himself throughout the whole world, and to a mortal man he entrusted the power over all that is in heaven, in giving the keys to him who extended the Church throughout the world.... He [Jesus] allowed the coryphaeus to fall, to make him more self-restrained, and to anoint him for yet greater love. . . . He moderates him, that he might not in the future have the same fault, when he should receive the government of the world....”
(Cited in Chapman, Studies on the Early Papacy [London: Sheed & Ward, 1928], pp. 72-98., as cited in Jaki, S. Eastern Orthodoxy's Witness to Papal Primacy [Port Huron, MI: Real View Books, 2004], p. 21ff.)

"God has had great account of this city Antioch, . . . especially in that he ordered Peter, the ruler [epistates] of the whole world, to whom he entrusted the keys of heaven, to whom he committed the office of bringing all in [the Fold of Christ], to pass a long time here, so that our city stood to him in the place of the whole world. . . . [Although Flavian, bishop of Antioch,] has succeeded to the virtue of Peter, and also to his chair [in the city which] received the coryphaeus of the apostles as its teacher in the beginning . . . [yet even] though we received him as teacher, we did not retain him to the end, but gave him up to Royal Rome. Nay, but we did retain him [by retaining his faith, but not his body].”
(Cited in Chapman, Studies on the Early Papacy [London: Sheed & Ward, 1928], pp. 72-98., as cited in Stanley Jaki, Eastern Orthodoxy's Witness to Papal Primacy [Port Huron, MI: Real View Books, 2004], p. 23f.)

+ Asterius (ca. 400 A.D.):
"In order that he may show his power, God has endowed none of his disciples with gifts like Peter. But, having raised him with heavenly gifts, he has set him above all ... as first disciple and greater among the brethren, ... [and thus] has shown, by the test of deeds, the power of the Spirit. The first to be called, he followed at once.... The Saviour confided to this man, as some special trust, the whole universal Church, after having asked him three times 'Lovest thou me?'. And he receive the world in charge..."
(Homily 8, in Giles, pp. 145-146)

+ St. John Cassian (ca. 362-435 A.D.):
"O Peter, Prince of Apostles, it is just that you should teach us, since you were yourself taught by the Lord; and also that you should open to us the gate of which you have received the Key. Keep out all those who are undermining the heavenly House; turn away those who are trying to enter through false caverns and unlawful gates since it is certain that no one can enter in at the gate of the Kingdom except the one unto whom the Key, placed by you in the churches, shall open it."
(Against the Nestorians on the Incarnation, Book III, Chap 12)

+ Bachiarius, monk, (fl. 420 A.D.):
"...none of the heresies could gain hold of or move the Chair of Peter, that is the See of faith."
(Professio fidei, 2; Migne PL 20:1023; cited in Allnatt, Cathedra Petri [London: Burnes and Oates, 1878], p. 67)

+ St. Cyril of Alexandria (ca. 424 A.D.):
"He [Christ] promises to found the [local and whole – EBB] Church, assigning immovableness to it, as He is the Lord of strength, and over this He sets Peter as shepherd."
(Comm. on Matt., ad loc.)

+ John Cassian, monk (ca. 430 A.D.), writing to Pope Celestine I:
"That great man, the disciple of disciples, that master among masters, who wielding the government of the Roman Church possessed the principle authority in faith and in priesthood. Tell us, therefore, we beg of you, Peter, prince of Apostles, tell us how the Churches must believe in God."
(Contra Nestorium, III, 12, CSEL, vol. 17, p. 276).

+ Philip, a papal legate, as quoted and endorsed in the Acts of the Council of Ephesus, Session III (ca. 431 A.D.):
"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 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 to-day and forever, lives and judges in his successors. The holy and most blessed Pope Celestine, according to due order, is his successor and holds his place...."[4]
(cf. Labbe & Cossart, Concilia, Tom. III, col. 621; NPNF, XIV:223)

+ Socrates Scholasticus (ca. 380-450 A.D.), a Greek Church historian in Constantinople:
"...the churches shall not make any ordinances against the opinion of the bishop of Rome."
(The Ecclesiastical History 2, 8, NPNF2, 2:38)

+ The Emperor Theodosius I (347—395 A.D.) and Valentinian writing to Aetius, Master of the Military and Patrician:
"It is certain that for us the only defence lies in the favour of the God of heaven; and to deserve it our first care is to support the Christian faith and its venerable religion. Inasmuch then as the primacy of the apostolic see is assured, by the merit of S. Peter, who is chief of the episcopal order, by the rank of the city of Rome, and also by the authority of a sacred synod, let no one presume to attempt any illicit act contrary to the authority of that see. For then at length will the peace of the churches be maintained everywhere, if the whole body acknowledges its ruler.

"Hitherto these customs have been observed without fail; but Hilary of Arles, as we are informed by the trustworthy report of that venerable man Leo, Pope of Rome, has with contumacious daring ventured upon certain unlawful proceedings.... For Hilary who is called bishop of Arles, without consulting the pontiff of the church of the city of Rome, has in solitary rashness usurped his jurisdiction by the ordination of bishops ... and after investigation they have been dispersed by the order of that pious man the Pope of the city. The sentence applies to Hilary and to those whom he has wickedly ordained. This same sentence would have been valid through the Gauls without imperial sanction; for what is not allowed in the Church to the authority of so great a pontiff? Hilary is allowed still to be called a bishop, only by the kindness of the gentle president; and our just command is, that it is not lawful either for him or for anyone else to mix church affairs with arms or to obstruct the orders of the Roman overseer. ... [I]n order that not even the least disturbance may arise amongst the churches, nor the discipline of religion appear in any instance to be weakened, we decree by this eternal law that it shall not be lawful for bishops ... contrary to ancient custom, to do aught without the authority of the venerable Pope of the eternal city. And whatever the authority of the apostolic see has sanctioned, or may sanction, shall be the law for all; so that if any bishop summoned to trial before the pontiff of Rome shall neglect to come, he shall be compelled to appear by the governor of that province. Those things which our divine parents conferred on the Roman church are to be upheld in every way."
(Valentinian III, Certum est. 8 July 445. In Leo, Ep. II. [P.L. 54. 637; Kidd, Docs. 2. 282.])

+ Emperor Marcian (r. 450-457 A.D.), writing to Pope Leo IV:
"In all that concerns the Catholic religion and the faith of Christians, we have thought it right to approach in the first place Your Holiness who is overseer and guardian of the divine faith."
(Mansi, 6:93)

+ Empress Pulcheria, wife of Marcian, writing to Pope Leo IV:
"[I am sure that the council] will define the Catholic belief by your authority, as Christian faith and piety require."
(Mansi, 6:101.)

+ St. Peter Chrysologus (ca. 449 A.D.):
"We exhort you in every respect, honorable brother, to heed obediently what has been written by the most blessed pope in the city of Rome, for blessed Peter, who lives and presides in his own see, provides the true faith to those who seek it. For we ... cannot try cases on the faith without the consent of the bishop of Rome."
(Letters 25:2)

"Just as Peter received his name from the rock, because he was the first to deserve to establish the Church, by reason of his steadfastness of faith, so also Stephen was named from a crown...the first who deserved to bear witness with his blood. Let Peter hold his ancient primacy of the apostolic choir. Let him open to those who enter the kingdom of heaven. Let him bind the guilty with his power and absolve the penitent in kindness."
(Sermo 154, P.L. 52. 608.)

+ Flavian, patriarch of Constantinople, (d. 449 A.D.), writing to Pope Leo IV:
"The whole question [of Eutychianism -- EBB] needs only your single decision and all will be settled in peace and quietness. Your sacred letter will with God's help completely suppress the heresy... and so the convening of a council which is any case difficult will be rendered superfluous."
(As cited in Vladimir Solovyev, Russia and the Universal Church, trans. H Rees [London: Geoffrey Bles, 1948], p. 134)

+ Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus in Syria (ca. 450 A.D.):
"If Paul, the herald of the truth, the trumpet of the Holy Spirit, hastened to the great Peter, to convey from him the solution to those in Antioch, who were at issue about living under the law, how much more do we, poor and humble, run to the Apostolic Throne (Rome) to receive from you (Pope Leo) healing for wounds of the the Churches. For it pertains to you to have primacy in all things [direct us in all things]; for your throne is adorned with many prerogatives. ... Your city has the fullest abundance of good things from the giver of all good. . . . But her chief decoration is her faith, to which the divine apostle is a sure witness when he exclaims "Your faith is proclaimed in all the world"; and if, immediately after receiving the seeds of the saving gospel, she bore such a weight of wondrous fruit, what words are sufficient to express the piety which is now found in her? She has, too, the tombs of our common fathers and teachers of the truth, Peter and Paul, to enlighten the souls of the faithful. And this blessed and divine pair arose indeed in the East, and shed its rays in all directions, but voluntarily underwent the sunset of life in the West, from whence now they light up the whole world. These have rendered your see so glorious: this the height of your good things. For their God has made their see bright, since he has settled your holiness in it to send forth the rays of the true faith."
(Mansi, Sacrum Conciliorum, 6:36, 37, Ep. Leoni, lii, 1, 5, 6. PL. liv, 847 and 851, cf. PG. Lxxxiii, 1311S and 1315S)

"...Twenty-six years I have been a bishop; I have undergone countless labours; I have struggled hard for the truth; I have freed tens of thousands of heretics and brought them to the Saviour, and now they have stripped me of my priesthood, and are exiling me from the city. ... Wherefore I beseech your sanctity to persuade the very sacred and holy Archbishop Leo to [to use his Apostolic power and] bid me hasten to your council. For that holy see [throne] has precedence of [sovereignty over] all churches in the world, for many reasons; and above all for this, that it is free from all taint of heresy, and that no bishop of false opinions has ever sat upon its throne, but it has kept the grace of the apostles undefiled."
(Ep. 116, to Renatus the presbyter. A.D. 449. [P.G. 83. 1324; P.N.F. 3. 295B.]; Tom. iv. Epist. cxvi. Renato, p. 1197)

"For as I" [he says, quoting Luke 22:31,32 -- EBB] "did not despise thee when tossed, so be thou a support to thy brethren in trouble, and the help by which thou wast saved do thou thyself impart to others, and exhort them not while they are tottering, but raise them up in their peril. For this reason I suffer thee also to slip, but do not permit thee to fail, [thus] through thee gaining steadfastness for those who are tossed." So this great pillar supported the tossing and sinking world, and permitted it not to fall entirely and gave it back stability, having been ordered to feed God's sheep."
(Oratio de Caritate, P.G. 82. 1509.)

"After the unjust sentence which it pleased Dioscorus to pronounce against me . . . I appealed to the throne of the prince of the apostles, the Apostolic See, and to the holy synod which is under the authority of your Holiness . . . ."
(Theodoret, Schwartz. Acta Concil. Œcum. II Vol. II, pars prior, p. 78)

+ The Greek historian Salminius Hermias Sozomen (ca. 375?-447/48 A.D.), a contemporary of Pope Leo IV:
"8. Athanasius, escaping from Alexandria, came to Rome. Paul, bishop of Constantinople, Marcellus of Ancyra, and Asclepas of Gaza went there at the same time. Asclepas, who was opposed to the Arians, ... and Quintian had been appointed in his place. Lucius, bishop of Adrianople, who had been deposed from his office on another charge, was also staying in Rome. The Roman bishop, on learning the accusation against each one, and finding that they were all like-minded about the doctrine of the council of Nicaea, admitted them to communion as of like orthodoxy. And alleging that the care for all belongs to him, because of the dignity of his see, he restored each to his own church. . . . 10. ...Julius, learning that Athanasius was not safe in Egypt, called him back to himself. He replied at the same time to the letter of the bishops who were convened at Antioch, for just then he happened to have received it, and he accused them of having secretly introduced innovations contrary to the dogmas of the Nicene council, and of having violated the laws of the Church by not calling him to the synod. For there is a priestly law, making void whatever is effected against the mind of the bishop of Rome."
(Sozomen, Church History, Book 3. A.D. 450. [P.G. 67. 1052; Bagster 113.])

+ Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.):
"...the most holy and blessed archbishop 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 [Disoscorus] of every priestly office [the episcopate]. Therefore let this most holy and great synod... [punish Dioscorus -- EBB]."
(Schaff and Wace, eds., NPNF, 2nd series, vol. 14, p. 259-260; cf. also Mansi, Conc. Ampl. Coll. VI, 1047. [Act III]; Schwartz II, Vol. I, pars. altera p. 29 [225] [Act II])

"It is you who through your legates [i.e., his apostolic delegates Paschasinus of Lilybaeum, Lucentius of Ascoli, Frs. Boniface and Basil, and Julian bishop of Cos – EBB] have guided and ruled the whole gathering of the fathers, as the head rules the members, by showing them the true meaning of the dogma [of the hypostatic union]."
(synod of Chalcedon to Pope St. Leo. Ep. xcviii, PL. liv, 951. Mansi vi, 147-148)

"1. ...You are set as an interpreter to all of the voice of blessed Peter and to all you impart the blessings of that faith. And so we too, wisely taking you as our guide in all that is good, have shown to the sons of the Church their inheritance of the truth. ... For if where two or three are gathered together in his name, he has said that he is in the midst of them, must he not have been much more particularly present with 520 priests who preferred to their country and their ease the spread of knowledge about him? Of all these you were the chief, as head to members, showing your goodwill in matters of organization. ...

"2. The enemy would have been like a wild beast outside the fold...if the late pontiff of the Alexandrians had not thrown himself to him for a prey....By his terror-won votes he acquitted Eutyches.... Besides all this he extended his fury even against him who had been charged with the custody of the vine by the Saviour -- we refer to your holiness -- and he intended to excommunicate one who was zealous to unite the body of the Church. ...

"4. We mention further that we have made certain other decisions also for the good management and stability of church affairs, as we are persuaded that your holiness will accept and ratify them when you are told. ... We have also ratified the canon [number XVI – EBB] of the 150 holy fathers who met at Constantinople...which declares that after your most holy and apostolic see, the see of Constantinople shall have privileges, being placed second; for we are persuaded that, with your usual interest, you have often extended that apostolic radiance of yours even to the church of Constantinople also. ... And so, deign, most holy and blessed father, to embrace as your own, and as lovable and agreeable to good order, the things we have decreed, for the removal of all confusion, and the confirmation of church order. ... But we ... recognized as fitting the confirmation of the honour by this universal council, and we confidently endorsed it,... knowing that every success of the children redounds to the parents. We therefore beg you to honour our decision by your assent, and as we have yielded agreement to the head in noble things, so may the head also fulfil what is fitting for the children. Thus ... the see of Constantinople will receive its recompense for having always displayed such loyalty on matters of religion towards you, and for having so zealously linked itself to you in full agreement."
(Acts of the Council of Chalcedon, To Leo. A.D. 451. Leo, Ep. 98. [P.L. 54. 952; P.N.F. 12. 72A.])

+ Anatolius, Patriarch of Constantinople (449-458 A.D.):
"With regard to the decree laid down by the recent synod of Chalcedon [i.e., Canon XXVI, which ascribed the next place of honor to Constantinople, but was later rescinded by Pope Leo IV – EBB] . . . let your Beatitude rest assured that this was not my fault. But it was the desire of the reverend clergy of Constantinople . . . the validity and confirmation of this action being reserved to the authority of your Beatitude".
(Ep. Leoni cxxxii., 4. PL. liv, 1084. Mansi vi, 278S)

+ Macedonius, Patriarch of Constantinople (466-516 A.D.):
"Macedonius declared, when desired by the Emperor Anastasius to condemn the Council of Chalcedon, that 'such a step without an Ecumenical Synod presided over by the Pope of Rome is impossible.'"
(Patr. Graec. 108: 360a [Theophan. Chronogr., pp. 234-346 seq.])

+ St. Fulgentius of Ruspe (465-533 A.D.):
"That which the Roman Church, which has the loftiest place on the earth, teaches and holds, so does the whole Christian world believe without hesitation for their justification, and does not delay to confess for their salvation"
(Letter 17, 21, ca. A.D. 519).

+ Signatories of the "Formula of Hormisdas" (519 A.D.) to restore union after the Acacian Schism (484 A.D.):
"[We agree that] in the Apostolic See the Catholic Religion is always kept immaculate. . . . We receive and approve all the letters of the blessed Pope Leo . . . and, as we have said, we follow the Apostolic See in everything and teach all its laws. Therefore, I hope that I may deserve to be with you [Pope Hormisdas, r. 514-523 – EBB] in that one Communion taught by the Apostolic See, in which Communion is the whole, real and perfect solidity of the Christian Religion. And I promise that in the future I will not say in the holy Mysteries the names of those who are banished from the Communion of the Catholic Church, that is, who do not agree with the Apostolic See."
(Cf. Adrian Fortescue, The Eastern Orthodox Church [London: Catholic Truth Society, 1925], pp. 85-86; as cited in Stanley Jaki, Eastern Orthodoxy's Witness to Papal Primacy [Port Huron, MI: Real View Books, 2004], p. 21f.**)

+ John the Cappadocian, Patriarch of Constantinople (518-519 A.D.), writing to Pope Hormisdas:
"It is first of all clear that the Catholic religion is guarded inviolate in the Apostolic See [Prima salus est quia in sede apostolica inviolabilis semper catholica custoditur religio]."
(Labbe, Concil., 8:451:2)

+ Emperor Justinian (520-533 A.D.), writing to Pope John I:
"Yielding honor to the Apostolic See and to Your Holiness, and honoring your Holiness, as one ought to honor a father, we have hastened to subject all the priests of the whole Eastern district, and to unite them to the See of your Holiness, for we do not allow of any point, however manifest and indisputable it be, which relates to the state of the Churches, not being brought to the cognizance of your Holiness, since you are the Head of all the holy Churches."
(Epist. ad. Pap. Joan. ii., Cod. Justin. lib. I. tit. 1).

…and to Pope Hormisdas:
"Let your Apostleship show that you have worthily succeeded to the Apostle Peter, since the Lord will work through you, as Supreme Pastor, the salvation of all."
(Coll. Avell. Ep. 196, July 9th, 520).

+ Byzantine Emperor Justinian, to Pope St. Agapetus (ca. 535 A.D.):
"...the source of the priesthood...the venerable See of the most high Apostle Peter...No one doubts that the height of the Supreme Pontificate is at Rome."
(as cited in The Eastern Churches and the Papacy by S. Herbert Scott, p. 231.)

+ Patriarch Mennas (ca. 536-552 A.D.; d. 552 A.D.), commemorated in the West on August 25, in his own sentence against Anthimus at a council in Constantinople (ca. 536 A.D.):
"Indeed Agapetus of holy memory, pope of Old Rome, giving him time for repentance until he should receive whatever the holy fathers defined, did not allow him to be called either a priest or a Catholic... we follow and obey the apostolic throne; we are in communion with those with whom it is in communion, and we condemn those whom it condemns."
(Mansi 8: 968-70, as found in "Keys Over the Christian World"; author Scott Butler).

+ Eulogius of Alexandria (ca. 581 A.D., d. 609 A.D.):
"Neither to John, nor to any other of the disciples, did our Savior say, 'I will give to thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven,' but only to Peter."
(Lib. ii. Cont. Novatian. ap. Photium, Biblioth, cod. 280)

"[Let us recall] of the Chair of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, that he himself sits therein to this day in his successors."
(Epistola 40, Migne PL 77:898.)

+ St. Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem (ca. 638 A.D.):
"Teaching us all orthodoxy and destroying all heresy and driving it away from the God-protected halls of our holy Catholic Church. And together with these inspired syllables and characters, I accept all his [the pope's] letters and teachings as proceeding from the mouth of Peter the Coryphaeus, and I kiss them and salute them and embrace them with all my soul ... I recognize the latter as definitions of Peter and the former as those of Mark, and besides, all the heaven-taught teachings of all the chosen mystagogues of our Catholic Church."
(Sophronius, Mansi, xi. 461)

+ Stephen, Bishop of Dora in Palestine (ca. 645 A.D.):
" away and announce these things to the Chair [of Peter at Rome] which rules and presides over all . . . I desire to denounce monotheletism to the chief See, the mistress of all Sees. I desire to do so to your highest and divine See, that it may altogether heal the wound. For this it has been accustomed to do from old and from the beginning with power by its canonical or apostolic authority, because the truly great Peter, head of the Apostles, was clearly thought worthy not only to be trusted with the keys of heaven, alone apart from the rest, to open it worthily to believers, or to close it justly to those who disbelieve the Gospel of grace, but because he was also commissioned to feed the sheep of the whole Catholic Church; for 'Peter,' saith He, 'lovest thou Me? Feed My sheep.' And again, [as successor] to the blessed Peter because he had in a manner peculiar and special, a faith in the Lord stronger than all and unchangeable, to be converted [with compassion] and to confirm his fellows and spiritual brethren when tossed about, as having been adorned by God Himself incarnate for us with power and sacerdotal authority over all ... Transverse quickly all the world from one end to the other until you come to the Apostolic See (Rome), where are the foundations of the orthodox doctrine. ... Cease not to pray and to beg them until their apostolic and Divine wisdom shall have pronounced the victorious judgement and destroyed from the foundation... the new heresy.”
(Mansi, Collectio conciliorum, 10:893-896)

+ Sergius, Metropolitan of Cyprus (ca. 649 A.D.), writing to Pope Theodore:
"O Holy Head, Christ our God hath destined thy Apostolic See to be an immovable foundation and a pillar of the Faith. For thou art, as the Divine Word truly saith, Peter, and on thee as a foundation-stone have the pillars of the Church been fixed."
(Ep. ad Theod., lecta in Sess. ii. Concil. Lat. Anno 649; Mansi, 10:914 and Allnatt, p. 66)

+ St. Maximus the Confessor (ca. 580-662 A.D.), a celebrated theologian and a native of Constantinople:[5]
"The extremities of the earth, and everyone in every part of it who purely and rightly confess the Lord, look directly towards the Most Holy Roman Church and her confession and faith, as to a sun of unfailing light awaiting from her the brilliant radiance of the sacred dogmas of our Fathers, according to that which the inspired and holy Councils have stainlessly and piously decreed. For, from the descent of the Incarnate Word amongst us, all the churches in every part of the world have held the greatest Church alone to be their base and foundation, seeing that, according to the promise of Christ Our Savior, the gates of hell will never prevail against her, that she has the keys of the orthodox confession and right faith in Him, that she opens the true and exclusive religion to such men as approach with piety, and she shuts up and locks every heretical mouth which speaks against the Most High."
(Opuscula theologica et polemica [A.D. 650], in PG 91:144)

"How much more in the case of the clergy and Church of the Romans, which from old until now presides over all the churches which are under the sun? Having surely received this canonically, as well as from councils and the apostles, as from the princes of the latter [Peter & Paul], and being numbered in their company, she is subject to no writings or issues in synodical documents, on account of the eminence of her pontificate... even as in all these things all are equally subject to her [the Church of Rome] according to sacerdotal law. And so when, without fear, but with all holy and becoming confidence, those ministers [the popes] are of the truly firm and immovable rock, that is of the most great and Apostolic Church of Rome."
(as cited in J.B. Mansi, ed. Amplissima Collectio Conciliorum, vol. 10)

"I was afraid of being thought to transgress the holy laws, if I were to do this [i.e., write this letter to Peter – EBB] without knowing the will of the most holy see of Apostolic men, who lead aright the whole plenitude of the Catholic Church, and rule it with order according to the divine law. ... If the Roman See recognizes Pyrrhus to be not only a reprobate but a heretic, it is certainly plain that everyone who anathematizes those who have rejected Pyrrhus also anathematizes the See of Rome, that is, he anathematizes the Catholic Church. I need hardly add that he excommunicates himself also, if indeed he is in communion with the Roman See and the Catholic Church of God ...Let him hasten before all things to satisfy the Roman See, for if it is satisfied, all will agree in calling him pious and orthodox. For he only speaks in vain who... does not satisfy and implore the blessed Pope of the most holy Catholic Church of the Romans, that is, the Apostolic See, which is from the incarnate of the Son of God Himself, and also [from] all the holy synods, according to the holy canons and definitions, has received universal and supreme dominion, authority, and power of binding and loosing over all the holy churches of God throughout the whole world. -- For with it the Word who is above the celestial powers binds and looses in heaven also. For if he thinks he must satisfy others, and fails to implore the most blessed Roman pope, he is acting like a man who, when accused of murder or some other crime, does not hasten to prove his innocence to the judge appointed by the law, but only uselessly and without profit does his best to demonstrate his innocence to private individuals, who have no power to acquit him."
(letter to the patrician Peter, ca. AD 642, in Mansi x, 692; Migne PG 91:114)

+ Fathers of the Third Council of Constantinople (680-681 A.D.), composed of 170 Eastern Bishops (680 A.D.), writing to Pope St. Agatho:
"Serious illnesses call for greater helps, as you know, most blessed [father]; and therefore Christ our true God gave a wise physician, namely your God-honoured sanctity, to drive away by force the contagion of heretical pestilence by the remedies of orthodoxy, and to give the strength of health to the members of the church. Therefore to thee, as to the bishop of the first see of the Universal Church, we leave what must be done, since you willingly take for your standing ground the firm rock of the faith, as we know from having read your true confession in the letter sent by your fatherly beatitude to the most pious emperor: and we acknowledge that this letter [of Agatho's --EBB] was divinely written [perscriptas] as by the Chief of the Apostles, and through it we have cast out the heretical sect of many errors which had recently sprung up."
(Migne, Pat. Lat., Tom. LXXXVII., col. 1247 et seqq.; cf. also Labbe & Cossart, Concilia, Tom. VI., col. 1071 et seqq.)

"The head and prince of the apostles fought with us…. the ink [of the letter from Pope Agatho] was plain to see and Peter spoke through Agatho."
(Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum, 11:658.)

"[The Pope is the] Head of the Church... [and his chair is] the First See of the Ecumenical Church."
(J. Hardouin, Conciliorum collectio regia maxima adp. Philippi Labbei et p. Gabrielis Cossartii e Societate Jesu labores haud modica accessione facta et emendationibus pluribus additis.... tom. iii., p. 1632)

+ From the edict of the Emperor, confirming the decrees of the Sixth Council:
"These are the teachings of the voices of the Gospels and apostles, these are the doctrines of the holy councils and of the elect and patristic tongues; these have been preserved untainted by Peter the Rock of the Faith, the Head of the apostles."
(Mansi, xi, 698.)

[Go here for a discussion of an Eastern Orthodox "zinger" against papal supremacy.]

+ St. John Damascene (680-740 A.D.):
"The church was monarchial from the beginning, for the Apostle Peter whom our Doctor considers the first-called and the first to follow the Saviour."
(Homily on the Transfiguration 6; Migne, PG, 96:553D)

"Peter was predestined by Jesus Christ to be the worthy head of the Church."
(Homily on Holy Saturday 33, col. 636C, PG, 96:560C)

"It was not of tents that the Master constituted thee [Peter -- EBB] the orderer, but of the Universal Church. Thy disciples, thy sheep, which the Good Shepherd entrusted to thee as head, have fulfilled thy desire [to make tents on the Mount of Transfiguration -- EBB]. They have raised one tent to Christ, one to Moses and Elias, and now we celebrate our feasts here."
(Homily on the Transfiguration, PG 16:596D)

+ John VI, Patriarch of Constantinople (ca. 715 A.D.):
"The Pope of Rome, the head of the Christian priesthood, whom in Peter, the Lord commanded to confirm his brethren."
(Epist. ad Constantin. Pap. ad. Combefis, Auctuar. Bibl. P.P. Graec.tom. ii. p. 211, seq.)

+ St. Nicephorus (758-828 A.D.), Patriarch of Constantinople:
"Without whom [i.e., the Romans presiding in the seventh Council] a doctrine brought forward in the Church could not, even though confirmed by canonical decrees and by ecclesiastical usage, ever obtain full approval or currency. For it is they [the Popes of Rome] who have had assigned to them the rule in sacred things, and who have received into their hands the dignity of headship among the Apostles."
(Niceph. Cpl. pro. s. imag. c 25 [Mai N. Bibl. pp. ii. 30]).

+ St. Theodore the Studite of Constantinople (759-826 A.D.):
"Since to great Peter Christ our Lord gave the office of Chief Shepherd after entrusting him with the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, to Peter or his successor must of necessity every novelty in the Catholic Church be referred. [Therefore], save us, oh most divine Head of Heads, Chief Shepherd of the Church of Heaven."
(Theodore, Bk. I. Ep. 23, writing to Pope Leo III)

"Hear, O Apostolic Head, divinely-appointed Shepherd of Christ's sheep, keybearer of the Kingdom of Heaven, Rock of the Faith upon whom the Catholic Church is built. For Peter art thou, who adornest and governest the Chair of Peter. Hither, then, from the West, imitator of Christ, arise and repel not for ever (Ps. xliii. 23). To thee spake Christ our Lord: 'And thou being one day converted, shalt strengthen thy brethren.' Behold the hour and the place. Help us, thou that art set by God for this. Stretch forth thy hand so far as thou canst. Thou hast strength with God, through being the first [chief] of all."
(Letter of St. Theodore and four other Abbots, writing to Pope Paschal, Bk. ii Ep. 12, Patr. Graec. 99, 1152-3)

"...a manifest successor of the prince of the Apostles presides over the Roman Church. We truly believe that Christ has not deserted the Church here [in Constantinople -- EBB], for assistance from you has been our one and only aid from of old and from the beginning by the providence of God in the critical times. You are, indeed the untroubled and pure fount of orthodoxy from the beginning, you the calm harbor of the whole Church, far removed from the waves of heresy, you the God-chosen city of refuge."
(Letter of St. Theodore & Four Abbots to Pope Paschal [citation?]).

"Order that the declaration from old Rome be received, as was the custom by Tradition of our Fathers from of old and from the beginning. For this, O Emperor, is the highest of the Churches of God, in which first Peter held the Chair, to whom the Lord said: 'Thou art Peter...and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.'"
(Theodore, Bk. II. Ep. 86, writing to Emperor Michael)

"I witness now before God and men, they [the Iconoclasts – EBB] have torn themselves away from the Body of Christ, from the Supreme See [Rome], in which Christ placed the keys of the Faith, against which the gates of hell (I mean the mouth of heretics) have not prevailed, and never will until the Consummation, according to the promise of Him Who cannot lie. Let the blessed and Apostolic Paschal [Pope St. Paschal I] rejoice therefore, for he has fulfilled the work of Peter."
(Theodore Bk. II. Ep. 63).

"Let him [Patriarch Nicephorus of Constantinople] assemble a synod of those with whom he has been at variance, if it is impossible that representatives of the other Patriarchs should be present, a thing which might certainly be if the Emperor should wish the Western Patriarch [the Roman Pope] to be present, to whom is given authority over an ecumenical synod; but let him make peace and union by sending his synodical letters to the prelate of the First See."
(Theodore the Studite, Patr. Graec. 99, 1420)

+ Fourth Council of Constantinople, canon 21 (869-870 A.D.):
" secular powers should treat with disrespect any of those who hold the office of patriarch or seek to move them from their high positions, but rather they should esteem them as worthy of all honour and reverence. This applies in the first place to the most holy pope of old Rome, secondly to the patriarch of Constantinople, and then to the patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem.

"Furthermore, nobody else should compose or edit writings or tracts against the most holy pope of old Rome, on the pretext of making incriminating charges, as Photius did recently and Dioscorus a long time ago. Whoever shows such great arrogance and audacity, after the manner of Photius and Dioscorus, and makes false accusations in writing or speech against the see of Peter, the chief of the apostles, let him receive a punishment equal to theirs.

"...Furthermore, if a universal synod is held and any question or controversy arises about the holy church of Rome, it should make inquiries with proper reverence and respect about the question raised and should find a profitable solution; it must on no account pronounce sentence rashly against the supreme pontiffs of old Rome.”
(J. Hardouin, Conciliorum collectio regia maxima adp. Philippi Labbei et p. Gabrielis Cossartii e Societate Jesu labores haud modica accessione facta et emendationibus pluribus additis..., 12 vols. Paris 1714-1715.)

+ Texts from Vespers and Matins of June 29 & 30 from the Byzantine-Slavonic Menaion (Feasts of the Martyrdom of Sts. Peter and Paul and of the Synaxis of the Twelve Apostles):
"With what garlands of praise shall we crown Peter and Paul the greatest among the heralds of the Word of God, distinct in their person but one in spirit--the one the chief Ruler of the Apostles, the other who labored more than the rest? ...

"Peter, foundation of the Apostles, rock of Christ's Church, beginning of Christians, feed the sheep of your fold, guard your lambs from the rapacious wolves and save your flock from ferocious assaults. You, O Peter, were the first bishop of Rome, you the pride and the glory of the greatest city, you were the confirmation of the Church that the forces of hell cannot overcome, as Christ foretold.

"O Peter, rock of foundation....O Peter, first of the glorious apostles and rock of faith....Rejoice, O Peter, apostle and special friend of the Teacher, Christ our God....O my soul, extol Peter the solid rock.... With hymns of praise let us venerate Peter, the rock of faith....

"Having put aside fishing in the deep, you received from the Father himself the revelation of the incarnation of the Word. Thus you confidently cried out in faith to your Creator: I know that You are the Son of God, consubstantial with Him. Therefore, you were truly revealed as the rock of faith and a trustee of the keys of grace.

"Three times Christ asked Peter: Do you love me? In this way He reversed the threefold denial of Himself. Henceforth Simon was to lead those who had witnessed God's mysteries. ... According to the promise of Christ, you have been a fisher of men. He has made you holy for his Church because from its beginning He placed you at the helm. ...

"Peter, it is right to call you the rock! The Lord established the unshaken faith of the Church on you. He made you the chief shepherd of his reasonable sheep. ... Today Christ the Rock glorifies with supreme honor the Rock of Faith and Leader of the Apostles, Peter, together with Paul and the Twelve...."

+ The Byzantine-Slavonic Menaion, January 2:
"Father Sylvester....thou didst appear as a pillar of fire, snatching the faithful from the Egyptian error [the Arian heresy] and continually leading them with unerring teachings to divine light. ... Thou hast shown thyself the supreme one of the Sacred Council, O initiator into the sacred mysteries, and hast illustrated the Throne of the Supreme One of the Disciples. ... Endowed with the See of the leader of the apostles, you became an outstanding minister of God, enriching, establishing, and increasing the church with divine dogmas. You were the prince of the sacred council and you adorned the throne of the head of the disciples; like a divine prince over the holy Fathers you confirmed the most sacred dogma."

+ The Byzantine-Slavonic Menaion, on the feast of St. Leo the Great, February 18 at Matins:
"The pillar of orthodoxy, as the successor of Peter, endowed with his precedence and primacy, gave the divinely inspired definition of faith, appearing to the people of God like a new Moses, who, moved by God, engraved the teachings of the faith upon divinely stamped tablets, and who like a true patriarch fixed his tent in the City where the primacy and seat and order of the patriarchs now stand."

+ + + + + + + + + + + +

[1] To deny the basic nature of the Bible as a human text is to fall into the Docetic heresy, i.e., that the Word of God only appeared mortal. The Bible, as the icon of Christ, is, like Him, a man-made thing, and yet so much more.

[2] While we're on the topic of the Petrine ministry, it's hard to pass up these words of Martin Luther:

If Christ had not entrusted all power to one man, the Church would not have been perfect because there would have been no order and each one would have been able to say [that] he was led by the Holy Spirit. This is what the heretics did, each one setting up his own principle. In this way as many Churches arose as there were heads. Christ therefore wills, in order that all may be assembled in one unity, that His power be exercised by one man to whom He Himself commits it. He has, however, made this power so strong that he looses all the powers of Hell (without injury) against it. He says: 'the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it', as though He said: 'they will fight against it but never overcome it', so it is in this way it is made manifest that this power is in reality from God and not from man. Wherefore, whoever breaks away from this unity and order of the power, let him not boast of great enlightenment and wonderful works, as our Picards and other heretics do, 'for much better is obedience than to be the victims of fools who know not what evil they do.' (Eccles. Iv.,17).
(Sermo in Vincula S. Petri, "Werke" Weimar edition, I, 69)

[3] Lest I be accused of plagiarism, I hereby admit nearly every citation has been taken from either Stanley Jaki's The Keys of the Kingdom, Steve Ray's Upon This Rock, Butler and Dahlgren's Jesus, Peter & the Keys, various works by James Likoudis, or E. Giles's Documents Illustrating Papal Authority AD 96-454.

[4] Philip's claims were affirmed by the other council fathers. Cyril, the bishop of Alexandria, replied,

The professions which have been made by Arcadius and Projectus, the most holy and pious bishops, as also by Philip, the most religious presbyter of the Roman Church, stand manifest to the holy Synod. For they have made their profession in the place of the Apostolic See, and of the whole of the holy synod of the God-beloved and most holy bishops of the West. Wherefore let those things which were defined by the most holy Coelestine, the God-beloved bishop, be carried into effect, and the vote east against Nestorius the heretic ... be agreed to universally; for this purpose let there be added to the already prepared acts the proceedings of yesterday and today, and let them be shewn to their holiness, so that by their subscription according to custom, their canonical agreement with all of us may be manifest.

Then Arcadius, the most reverend bishop and legate of the Roman Church, said, "According to the acts of this holy Synod, we necessarily confirm with our subscriptions their doctrines."

At which point the Holy Synod said, "Since Arcadius and Projectus the most reverend and most religious bishops and legates and Philip, the presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See, have said that they are of the same mind with us, it only remains, that they redeem their promises and confirm the acts with their signatures, and then let the minutes of the acts be shewn to them." (cf. EXTRACTS FROM THE ACTS, SESSION III [Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. III., col. 621.])

[5] Since a great deal of controversy between the East and the West hinges on the filioque controversy, I think it's helpful to recall St. Maximus's conciliatory stance:

Those of the Queen of cities [i.e., Constantinople] have attacked the synodal letter of the present very holy Pope, not in the case of all the chapters that he has written in it, but only in the case of two of them. One relates to the theology [of the Trinity] and according to this, says 'the Holy Spirit also has his ekporeusis from the Son.'

The other deals with the divine incarnation. With regard to the first matter, they [the Romans] have produced the unanimous evidence of the Latin Fathers, and also of Cyril of Alexandria, from the study he made of the gospel of St. John. On the basis of these texts, they have shown that they have not made the Son the cause of the Spirit--they know in fact that the Father is the only cause of the Son and the Spirit, the one by begetting and the other by procession -- but that they have manifested the procession through him and have thus shown the unity and identity of the essence.

They [i.e., the Romans] have therefore been accused of precisely those things of which it would be wrong the accuse them, whereas the former [i.e., the Byzantines] have been accused of those things it has been quite correct to accuse them [of Monothelitism].

In accordance with your request I have asked the Romans to translate what is peculiar to them [the 'also from the Son'] in such a way that any obscurities that may result from it will be avoided. ... It is true, of course, that they cannot reproduce their idea in a language and in words that are foreign to them as they can in their mother-tongue, just as we too cannot do.
(St. Maximus Confessor, Letter to Marinus, PG 91, 136.)

See also the assessment by Metropolitan (John) Zizioulas of Pergamom of the 1995 Vatican document, "The Father as the Source of the Whole Trinity: The Procession of the Holy Spirit in Greek and Latin Traditions".


Anonymous said...

Many of the earlier easter fathers you have quoted do not make a connection between Rome and St. Peter. St. Peter was also bishop in Antioch. It was actually St. Paul who established the church in Rome; St. Peter arrived later and was subsequently martyred in the city. Simply saying St. Peter was the bishop of a city does not necessarily grant any church primacy. The concept of primacy is not a Biblical teaching. If it were, the keys to the Kingdom would not be opened except through one individual person. The key to the Kingdom is a symbol for the Holy Priesthood, by which through the sacraments (baptism, confession, communion, etc.) we are saved. How is it, indeed, that that Church of Alexandria had presidence during the first three Ecumenical Councils until Chalcedon (451), when Pope Leo of Rome coerced Emperor Marcian, by means of Empress Pulcheria, to convene the council? There was no need to rewrite the faith so powerfully defined by the first three councils. The Tome and the summons were both not needed. It was pure political intrigue that purposed the council of Chalcedon. If anything, the heresy of Nestorious was more of a threat during that period.

May the Lord preserve the life and standing of our honored father the Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark.


Anonymous said...

Shenoute -

As the Cogitator's collection of quotes shows, many of the Eastern Fathers disagreed with your apparently sola-scriptura-based objections to the papacy. The Tradition of the Church is very clearly in favour of at least some kind of Roman primacy.

I may be wrong, but I don't think it is true that the 'Church of Alexandria had presidence during the first three Ecumenical Councils until Chalcedon'. It's irrelevant anyway.

Kjetil Kringlebotten said...

"The concept of primacy is not a Biblical teaching." It most certainly is.In 1Tim 3:15 (NKJV ), Paul in fact points to the church for authority, calling it "the pillar and ground of the truth." The question is, who has authority in the Church? Read Christ's words in Matthew 16:18-19 (and 18:18): "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

The Jewish Encyclopedia, published in the early 20th century, and available online, contains an article on binding and loosing. Let me quote from it:

The power of binding and loosing was always claimed by the Pharisees. Under Queen Alexandra, the Pharisees, says Josephus ("B J." i, 5, § 2), "became the administrators of all public affairs so as to be empowered to banish and readmit whom they pleased, as well as to loose and to bind." (...)

In this sense Jesus, when appointing his disciples to be his successors, used the familiar formula (Matt. xvi. 19, xviii. 18).
[This is to short, but I do not want to comprimise copyright. Read the entire aticle]

Michael said...


I hope you considered the Eastern Catholic Churches when you decided to profess the Catholic faith.

Anyhow, as to the Primacy of the Bishop of Rome - I think this can be seen from many fathers; BUT these should not be mingled with SUPREMACY. These two concepts are entirely different. Most Orthodox can accept PRIMACY, they will not accept SUPREMACY - and the way that it is worded by many Latins, their refusal is quite understandable.

the Cogitator said...

Hi Michael,

I most certainly did consider entering an Eastern Catholic rite. But partially because of a lack of such rites in Taiwan and also because of a genuine affinity for the Roman Catholic tradition, I became a Roman Catholic. You'll notice in my initial comments before listing the patristic quotes, when I asked who else sounds like these Fathers, I said "outside of the Catholic Church," not "the Roman Catholic Church." It seems stranger to me that Eastern Orthodox can share virtually the same liturgical and canonical patrimony as Eastern Catholic rites, while refraining from the latter's union with the papacy, than that fully Eastern Catholics can have union with the papacy. Are you saying Eastern Orthodox are more Eastern than Eastern Catholics? Unless you are, the existence of Eastern Catholics in union with Rome is a peculiarity in need of much explanation for Easterns who refuse to maintain ecclesial unity.

As for the finer points of debating supremacy versus primacy, I am aware of that sometimes very casuistic distinction. I leave it to you to review the patristic evidence I've provided here and see how the Fathers parse the difference. Look, for example, at Epiphanius's, Chrysostom's, Asterius's, and especially Maximus's comments with an eye on the word "power".