Perennial Catholic Teaching on the Roman Pontiff

Table of Contents

Intro | Scripture | Early Popes/Saints | Honorius | Agatho | Nicholas | 2nd Millenium | Unam Sanctam | Pius II | Bellarmine | Suarez | Relatio Vatican I | Manning | Newman | Leo XIII | Pius X | Benedict XV | Pius XI | Pius XII | Paul VI | John Paul I | John Paul II | Ratzinger | Francis | Councils | Vatican I | Vatican II | Canon Law | No Salvation Outside the Church | Good Friday Prayer for the Pope


This collection of Church teachings examines the ancient and continual teachings of the Catholic Church — the teachings of Popes, Saints, Bishops, Cardinals, and Ecumenical Councils — on the Roman Pontiff. These sources of truth prove that the ordinary universal Magisterium of the Church teaches that each and every Pope has certain divinely-conferred gifts, called charisms.

I have identified and organized the papal charisms into three related sets of four charisms each: authority, indefectibility, unity. My particular analysis of the papal charisms numbers them as 12. But it is for the Magisterium to eventually decide in what manner the papal charisms should be numbered and organized. In any case, each numbered charism has certainly been taught by the Church, as the subsequent quotes from very many sources prove beyond argumentation.

— Authority —
1. The Pope has supreme authority over the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
2. The Pope has supreme authority over the body of Bishops and every Council.
3. As the supreme judge of the faithful, the Pope can be judged by no one but God.
4. Papal decisions under this supreme authority allow no appeal.

— Indefectibility —
5. The Pope is the indefectible Rock on which the indefectible Church is founded.
6. The Pope has the charism of truth and never-failing faith, making him indefectible.
7. The Apostolic See is unblemished by any grave error, making his See indefectible.
8. The Pope is the head of the body of Bishops, which is indefectible due to this union.

— Unity: one Lord, one Church, one Teaching, one Salvation —
9. The Pope is one Head with Christ over the Church and head of the body of Bishops.
10. The Pope is the principle and foundation of unity of the whole Church.
11. The Pope has the charism to teach infallibly, unifying the faithful in doctrine.
12. Subjection to the Roman Pontiff is from the necessity of salvation.

The Roman Pontiff can never be deposed, nor does he ever automatically lose his jurisdiction. For he never errs gravely on doctrine or discipline; he can only err to a less than grave extent, in what is non-infallible, under the keys of Saint Peter. And he can never fail gravely in truth or faith by apostasy, heresy, schism, or idolatry, and he can never teach or commit heresy. Therefore, there is no basis for his removal or deposition. Neither can he lose his authority automatically, since he is free from all these errors and failings. Then, too, his authority is supreme, so he cannot be removed by any authority on earth, not even by the entire body of Bishops.

Notice that all 12 charisms above are closely interrelated, and each implies or supports the other. Whether the papal charisms should be numbered as 12 or some other number is for the Church to decide. There may well be other papal charisms not mentioned above. These charisms are sufficient to refute the accusations made against Pope Francis and many other Popes, as well as against Ecumenical Councils approved by the Pope.

Commentary below by the author of this booklet is marked with a tilde ~ to distinguish it from quotations.

Sacred Scripture

{16:15} Jesus said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
{16:16} Simon Peter responded by saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
{16:17} And in response, Jesus said to him: “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father, who is in heaven.
{16:18} And I say to you, that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.
{16:19} And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound, even in heaven. And whatever you shall release on earth shall be released, even in heaven.”

{22:32} But I have prayed for you, so that your faith may not fail, and so that you, once converted, may confirm your brothers.”

{21:14} This was now the third time that Jesus was manifested to his disciples, after he had resurrected from the dead.
{21:15} Then, when they had dined, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
{21:16} He said to him again: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
{21:17} He said to him a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was very grieved that he had asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” And so he said to him: “Lord, you know all things. You know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my sheep.
{21:18} Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked wherever you wanted. But when you are older, you will extend your hands, and another shall gird you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
{21:19} Now he said this to signify by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

[Psalm 18] (19)
{18:8} The law of the Lord is immaculate, converting souls. The testimony of the Lord is faithful, providing wisdom to little ones.
{18:9} The justice of the Lord is right, rejoicing hearts. The precepts of the Lord are brilliant, enlightening the eyes.
{18:10} The fear of the Lord is holy, enduring for all generations. The judgments of the Lord are true, justified in themselves:
{18:11} desirable beyond gold and many precious stones, and sweeter than honey and the honeycomb.
{18:12} For, indeed, your servant keeps them, and in keeping them, there are many rewards.

[1 Timothy]
{3:15} But, if I am delayed, you should know the manner in which it is necessary to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and the foundation of truth.1

~ The indefectibility of the Church is established by the teachings of Sacred Scripture. As the “pillar and foundation of truth”, the Church can never go astray, nor lead astray. And since the Church is founded on Peter and his successors, as upon a Rock, each Pope is also indefectible. So the gates of Hell can prevail neither against the Church, nor against the Rock on which the Church is founded (the Roman Pontiff).

~ Then the prayer and promise of Christ in Luke 22:32 has always been interpreted by the Church as a gift to every Roman Pontiff of a faith that can never fail. But since faith is our belief in divinely-revealed truths, in this same gift or charism, truth and faith are inseparable. The Church is the sole authoritative interpreter of Tradition and Scripture, and She has always interpreted Luke 22:32 as Christ granting to every Pope a never-failing faith which secures the Church as the pillar and foundation of truth. All this is proven below.

Early Popes and Saints

Pope Saint Clement I, 88-97: “If any disobey what He [Jesus Christ] says through Us, let them know that they will be involved in no small offence and danger; but We shall be innocent of this sin.”2

Pope Saint Clement I: “Joy and gladness will you afford Us, if you become obedient to the words written by Us, and, through the Holy Spirit, root out the lawless wrath of your jealousy, according to the intercession which We have made for peace and unity in this letter.”3

Saint Irenaeus, Doctor, 130-202: “But, since it would be very long to count up the succession of all Churches in such a book as this, by showing the tradition of the greatest and oldest Church, known to all, founded and established by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul, at Rome, which [tradition] She has from the apostles, and by showing the faith proclaimed to men through the series of her bishops down to us, we confound all who, in any way, gather beyond what is right, either to please themselves, or for vainglory, or by blindness and wrong opinion. For to this Church, because of Her mightier rule, every Church must agree, that is, those who are faithful from all sides, in which the tradition from the apostles is kept by those who are from all sides.”4

Saint Irenaeus: “Those who have the succession from the apostles have received a sure gift [charisma] of truth, according to the will of the Father.”5

Saint Irenaeus: “Where the gifts [charismata] of the Lord are placed, there we must learn the truth, namely, from those who have the succession of the Church from the apostles…. These preserve our faith.”6

Tertullian, 155-220: “But if Peter was reproved because, after having lived with the Gentiles, he separated himself from their company out of respect for persons, surely this was a fault in his conversation, not in his preaching.”7

Origen, 184-253: “It is manifest, even if it were not expressed, because the gates of Hell can prevail against neither Peter, nor the Church, for if they prevailed against the rock on which the Church was founded, they would prevail against the Church.” [Mt 16:18]8

Origen, 184-253: “neither against the rock upon which Christ builds His Church, nor against the Church, shall the gates of Hell prevail.”9

Saint Cyprian, Bishop, 210-258: “Where Peter is, there is the Church”, repeated by Saint Ambrose and Saint Boniface. Confirmed by Pope Benedict XV, in the encyclical In Hac Tanta.10

Saint Cyprian: “If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?”11

Saint Cyprian: “There is one God and one Christ, and one Church, and one Chair founded on Peter by the word of the Lord. It is not possible to set up another altar or for there to be another priesthood besides that one altar and that one priesthood. Whoever has gathered elsewhere is scattering.”12

Saint Cyprian: There is “one Church founded by Christ our Lord on Peter, by the source and reason of unity”.13

Saint Cyprian, on those who “have gone out from us, when heresies and schisms were born later”, i.e. on heretics and schismatics: “Do they think the Christ will be with them when they are gathered up, who are gathered outside the Church of Christ?… He is no martyr who is not in the Church….. They cannot remain with God who will not be of one mind in the Church of God.”14

Saint Cyprian: “The Church which is Catholic and one is not broken nor divided; it is united and joined by the cement of bishops who agree together.”15

Saint Cyprian: “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.”301

Pope Saint Lucius I, Martyr, 253-254: “The Roman Apostolic Church is the mother of all Churches and has never been shown to have wandered from the path of Apostolic tradition, nor being deformed, succumbed to heretical novelties according to the promise of the Lord himself, saying, ‘I have prayed for thee, etc.’ [Lk 22:32]”16

Pope Saint Felix I, 269-274, speaking on the Roman Church: “As it took up in the beginning the norm of the Christian Faith from its authors, the Princes of the Apostles of Christ, She remains unsullied according to what the Lord said: ‘I have prayed for thee, etc.’ [Lk 22:32]”17

Theodotus of Ancyra, martyr, fl. 303: “This holy See holds the reign of the Churches of the world, not only on account of other things, but also because She remains free from the heretical stench.”18

Pope Saint Julius I, 337-352, writing to the Eastern Bishops: “Do you not know that this is the custom, that first you must write to us, and that here what is just shall be decreed.”19

Pope Saint Julius I: “It is not right to make laws for the Churches, apart from the knowledge of the Bishop of Rome.”20

Council of Sardica, 344 (not Ecumenical), writing to Pope Saint Julius I: “It seemed best and most proper that the priests of the Lord should refer from every province to the head, that is to the See of the Apostle Peter.”21

Saint Ephrem the Syrian, Doctor, 306-373: “The heavenly spouse has established the Church and made her firm in the orthodox faith.”22

Saint Ambrose, Doctor, 340-397: “Could not Christ, who confided to him the Kingdom by His own authority, have strengthened the faith of the one whom He designated a Rock to show the foundation of the Church?”23

Saint Optatus of Milevis, c. 370: “On the one throne, which is first in gifts [dotibus], Peter sat first, to whom succeeded Linus [a list of Popes to his own time follows]…. To Damasus succeeded Siricius, who is our comrade today, with whom, together with us, the whole world agrees in the society of one communion, by exchange of letters.”24

Saint Optatus of Milevis to the Donatists: “How can you pretend to have the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, [you] who sacrilegiously fight against the See of Peter by your presumption and impudence?”25

Saint Jerome, Doctor, 342-420: “The welfare of the Church depends on the dignity of the papacy. If we do not give the Pope sovereign and independent power, there will be as many schisms in the Church as there are priests.” Confirmed by Pope Benedict XV in the Encyclical In Hac Tanta.26

Saint Jerome to Pope Damasus I, 305-384: “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.”27

Saint Jerome as quoted by Pope Benedict XVI: “This is what Jerome wrote: ‘I decided to consult the Chair of Peter, where that faith is found exalted by the lips of an Apostle; I now come to ask for nourishment for my soul there, where once I received the garment of Christ. I follow no leader save Christ, so I enter into communion with your beatitude, that is, with the Chair of Peter, for this I know is the rock upon which the Church is built’ (cf. Le lettere I, 15, 1-2).”28

Pope Saint Damasus I, 366-384: “The First See, therefore, is that of Peter the Apostle, that of the Roman Church, which has neither stain nor blemish nor anything like it.”29

Saint Basil, Doctor, bishop of Caesarea, 370-379, writing in 371 to Pope Saint Damasus I: “Our only hope is in a visitation from Your Clemency. Send us men who share our faith. They will settle quarrels; they will bring union to the Churches of God; at least they will make known to you the authors of the troubles, so that you will know whom to admit to your communion.”30

Pope Saint Damasus I, the Roman Synod of 378, to the emperors Gratian and Valentinian II: “Certain bishops, unworthy pastors, have carried their insolence and contempt to the point of refusing obedience to the Bishop of Rome. If the accused is himself a Metropolitan, he will be ordered to go at once to Rome, or in any case to appear before the judges whom the Bishop of Rome shall appoint.”31

Pope Siricius, in 385: We bear the burden of all who are laden; or rather the blessed Apostle Peter bears them in Us, who, as We trust, will protect Us, the heirs of all his government.”32

Pope Saint Innocent I, in 417, praised the local Council of Carthage for having “kept and confirmed the example of ancient discipline.” He states: “You have referred to our judgment, knowing what is due to the Apostolic See, from which the Episcopate itself and all authority of this Name has come…. You know that nothing, even in the most distant provinces, is to be settled until it comes to the knowledge of this See; so that the decision be established by the whole authority of this See.”33

Saint Flavian, martyr, Patriarch of Constantinople, died 449 — He was beaten at the so-called “robber council” of Ephesus in 449, and he died soon after (probably of his injuries). Saint Flavian wrote to Pope Saint Leo the great (I) asking him to intervene in the Christological dispute over Monophysitism [the one nature heresy].
“The whole question 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 which has arisen and the disturbance which it has caused; and so the convening of council — which is in any case difficult — will be rendered superfluous.”309

Saint Augustine, Doctor, 354-430: “For my part, I should not believe the Gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church.”34

Saint Augustine: “Roma locuta est; causa finita est [Rome has spoken; the case is closed].”35

Saint Augustine: the Roman Church, “in which the ruling authority of the Apostolic See has always held firm.”36

Saint Augustine: “Unless the Lord dwelt in the Church, as She is now, the most careful speculation would fall into error; but of this Church [it] is said: She is the holy temple of God.”37

Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Doctor, 370-444: “They [the Apostles] strove to learn through one, that preeminent one, Peter.”38

Saint Cyril of Alexandria: “He [Jesus] suffers him no longer to be called Simon, exercising authority and rule over him already, as having become His own. But by a title suitable to the thing, he changed his name into Peter, from the word petra (rock); for on him He was afterwards to found His Church.”39

Saint Peter Chrysologus, Doctor, 406-450, Bishop of Ravenna: “We exhort you, Honorable Brother, that you would obediently attend to that which has been written by the Pope of the city of Rome because Blessed Peter, who lives in his own See and presides there, is in charge of all those seeking the truth of faith.”40

Pope Saint Zosimus, 417-418: “the tradition of the Fathers attributed so much authority to the Apostolic See that no one dared to challenge its judgment and has always preserved it through canons and regulations … such great authority belongs to Us that no one could argue again with Our decision….”41

Pope Saint Boniface I, 418-422: “No one has ever boldly raised his hands against the Apostolic Eminence, from whose judgment it is not permissible to dissent; no one has rebelled against this, who did not wish judgment to be passed upon him.”42

Pope Saint Boniface I: “there is to be no review of our judgment. In fact, it has never been licit to deliberate again on that which has once been decided by the Apostolic See.”43

Pope Saint Boniface I, to the bishops of Thessaly: “It is therefore certain that this Church [the Roman See] is to the Churches throughout the world as the head to its members. If anyone cut himself off from this Church, not being in union with her, he is outside the Christian religion.”44

Pope Saint Celestine I, 422-432: “The sanctions of the blessed and Apostolic See may not be violated.”45

emperor Valentinian III, 423-455: “We must defend the faith handed down by our fathers with all care; and we must keep the proper reverence due to the blessed apostle Peter incorrupt in our time also. Therefore the most blessed Bishop of the Roman city, to whom ancient right has given the authority of the priesthood over all, shall have his place, and power to judge about the faith and about bishops.”46

Pope Saint Leo I (the great), Doctor, 440-461: “The special care of Peter is received from the Lord; he prayed for the faith of Peter in particular in as much as the state of the others would be more certain if the mind of the Prince were not conquered. Therefore, in Peter the strength of all is fortified and the help of divine grace is so ordered that the strength which was given to Peter through Christ would be conferred through Peter to the remaining Apostles.”47

Pope Saint Leo I: “The order of truth remains; blessed Peter, keeping the strength of the rock, does not abandon the helm of the Church. Whatever We do rightly is his work, whose power lives in his See…. In the person of My lowliness he is seen, he is honored, in whom remains the care of all pastors and of the sheep of their charge. His power does not fail, even in an unworthy heir.”48

Pope Saint Gelasius I, 492-496, epistle to the Emperor Anastasius: “This is what the Apostolic See guards against with all her strength because the glorious confession of the Apostle is the root of the world, so that She is polluted by no crack of depravity and altogether no contagion. For if such a thing would ever occur (which may God forbid and we trust cannot be), why would we make bold to resist any error?”49

The example of Pope Vigilius, d. 555, as related by Saint Bellarmine: “It happened a little afterward, that [Pope] Silverius died and Vigilius, who to that point sat in schism, now began to be the sole and legitimate Pontiff for certain through the confirmation and reception by the clergy and the Roman people. From this time neither error nor feigning of error was discovered in Vigilius, but rather, supreme constancy in the faith even to death, as it shall appear. For he received with the pontificate the strength of faith and he was changed from a weak chaff into the most solid rock.”50

Pope Pelagius II, 590 AD, writing to the Bishops of Istria: “For you know how the Lord in the Gospel declares: ‘Simon, Simon, behold Satan has desired you that he might sift you as wheat, but I have prayed to the Father for thee, that thy faith fail not, and thou, being converted, confirm thy brethren.’ See, beloved, the truth cannot be falsified, nor can the faith of Peter ever be shaken or changed.”51

Pope Saint Gregory I (the great), Doctor, 590-604: “Who does not know that the whole Church was strengthened in the firmness of the Prince of the Apostles, to whom it was said, ‘Upon this rock I will build my Church … and thou, being converted, confirm thy brethren?’ [Mt 16:18; Lk 22:32]”52 Saint Bellarmine: “There Gregory clearly teaches the strength of the Church depends upon the strength of Peter, and hence Peter is less able to err than the Church herself.”53

Saint Maximus the Confessor, 580-662: “from the incarnate Word’s descent to us, all Christian churches everywhere have held and hold the great Church that is here [at Rome] to be their only basis and foundation since, according to the Savior’s promise, the gates of Hell have never prevailed against her.”54

Saint Maximus the Confessor (c. 580-662) was an opponent of the Monothelite (one-will in Christ) heresy. He was also a great supporter of the primacy and authority of the Bishop of Rome, and he even defended Pope Honorius I (d. 638) against those who maintained the Pope was a Monothelite. Speaking of the See of Rome, Maximus writes:
“This Apostolic See, which, from the Incarnate Word of God Himself, as well as from the holy councils (according to the sacred canons and definitions) has received and possesses the sovereignty, authority and power of binding and loosing over all the churches of God in the entire world, in and through all things.”308

Lateran Council of 649 (not Ecumenical): “If anyone does not, following the holy Fathers, confess properly and truly, in word and mind, to the last point, all that has been handed down and proclaimed to the holy, catholic, and apostolic Church of God by the holy Fathers and by the five venerable ecumenical councils, let him be condemned.”55

Pope Saint Vitalian, 657-672, to Archbishop Theodore (608): Pope Vitalian, servant of the servants of God…. And in accordance with the authority of the blessed Peter, first of the apostles, to whom was given by our Lord God the power of binding and loosing in heaven and earth, we, though unworthy, holding the office of that same blessed Peter key-bearer of the kingdom of heaven, grant to you, Theodore, and your successors, to hold unchangeable in your own metropolitan see in the city of Canterbury the rights granted in perpetuity in ancient times. If anyone, whether bishop or priest or deacon, tries to go against our wishes and the authority of our apostolic decree of privilege, we decree with our apostolic authority that a bishop shall be removed from office and priests or deacons be told that they have lost their posts; and lay people, kings or princes, great or small, must know that they are banned from sharing in the body of our Lord Jesus Christ.”56

Pope Saint Vitalian, Letter to Paul, archbishop of Crete (669): “What things we command thee and thy Synod according to God and for the Lord, study at once to fulfil, lest we be compelled to bear ourselves not in mercy but according to the power of the sacred canons, for it is written: The Lord said, ‘Peter, I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not, and thou being once converted, confirm thy brethren.’ [Lk 22:32] And again: ‘Whatsoever thou, Peter, shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven, and whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’ [Mt 16:18]”57

Pope Honorius I, 625-638, to archbishop Honorius of Canterbury (c. 634): “We urge you, beloved, to persevere in the work of the Gospel which you have undertaken, as it calls for effort and perseverance on your part rather than shirking. Bear in mind the Gospel precept which says, ‘I have prayed for you, Peter, that your faith should not fail; and when you have come to yourself, strengthen your brothers.’ [Lk 22:32] And again, as the apostle Paul says, ‘Be firm and steadfast, knowing that your work is not in vain in the sight of the Lord.’ [1 Cor 15:58] … Meanwhile, you have asked for the powers of your See to be confirmed by a privilege issued on my authority. This we grant freely and immediately…. But if some prelate with inborn arrogance disobeys our command and, acting otherwise, tries to oppose the privileged concessions made to the Church of Canterbury, he must know that he has been cut off from sharing in the body and blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”58

On Pope Honorius I

Catholic Encyclopedia: “Pennacchi, followed by Grisar, taught that by these words [Pope Saint] Leo II explicitly abrogated the condemnation [of Honorius] for heresy by the council, and substituted a condemnation for negligence.”59

Pope John IV: “Therefore, my aforementioned predecessor [Honorius I], while teaching on the mystery of the Christ’s Incarnation, said that there were not in him, as in us sinners, contrary wills of mind and flesh. Because certain people have transformed this to their own way of thinking, they have supposed that he taught one will of (Christ’s) humanity and divinity, which is altogether contrary to the truth.”60

Pope John IV’s Pontificate ended in 642. A few years later, when the Lateran Synod of 649 condemned the adherents of the Monothelite heresy, the name of Honorius I was absent.61

Bellarmine: “I say, no error is contained in these epistles of Honorius. For Honorius confesses in these epistles, what pertains to the matter of two wills and operations [or energies] in Christ, and he only forbids the name of one or two wills, which then were unheard of, and he did it with prudent counsel. That he confessed the matter itself is clear from the words of the second epistle: ‘We ought to confess both natures in the one Christ, joined in a natural unity, working in harmony with the other, and also confess operations. And certainly the divine operation, which is of God, and the human operation, which is of God, carrying it out not in division, nor confusion, informing the other but not changing the nature of God into man, nor the human into God, but confessing the different natures whole, etc.’ This confession is very Catholic, and altogether destroys the Monothelite heresy.”62

Bellarmine: “I respond: In that place, Honorius spoke only on the human nature, and wished to say that in the man, Christ, there were not two wills opposing each other, one of the flesh and the other of the spirit; but only one, namely the spirit. For the flesh in Christ desired absolutely nothing against reason. Moreover, this is the mind of Honorius, and that is plain from the reason that he gave.”63

Bellarmine: “Saint Maximus, who lived in the time of Honorius, confirms this with serious testimony. He wrote a dialogue against Pyrrhus, the successor of Sergius, which is still in the Vatican Library. In that Dialogue he introduces Pyrrhus the heretic, advancing in front of him the testimony of Honorius, then he responds, that Honorius was always Catholic, and proves it with another source, from the testimony of the Secretary of Honorius himself, who wrote those epistles dictated by Honorius, and who was then still living, and said that. Moreover the Secretary witnesses the mind of Honorius was never to deny two wills in Christ, and whenever it seems to deny two wills, it must be understood on two contrary and opposed wills in the same human nature, which is discovered in us from sin, but was not in Christ. St. Maximus records these very words….”64

Bellarmine: “If Honorius was a Monothelite heretic, how could [Pope Saint] Agatho disputing in the face of which concerning this very heresy, write that none of his predecessors ever erred?”65

Pope Saint Agatho

Pope Saint Agatho, 680, Letter accepted into the Acts of Constantinople III:

Pope Saint Agatho, 678-681: “because the true confession thereof for which Peter was pronounced blessed by the Lord of all things, was revealed by the Father of heaven, for he received from the Redeemer of all himself, by three commendations, the duty of feeding the spiritual sheep of the Church; under whose protecting shield, this Apostolic Church of his has never turned away from the path of truth in any direction of error, whose authority, as that of the Prince of all the Apostles, the whole Catholic Church, and the Ecumenical Synods have faithfully embraced, and followed in all things; and all the venerable Fathers have embraced its Apostolic doctrine, through which they as the most approved luminaries of the Church of Christ have shone; and the holy orthodox doctors have venerated and followed it, while the heretics have pursued it with false criminations and with derogatory hatred. This is the living tradition of the Apostles of Christ, which his Church holds everywhere, which is chiefly to be loved and fostered, and is to be preached with confidence….”66

Agatho: “For this is the rule of the true faith, which this spiritual mother of your most tranquil empire, the Apostolic Church of Christ, has both in prosperity and in adversity always held and defended with energy; which, it will be proved, by the grace of Almighty God, has never erred from the path of the apostolic tradition, nor has she been depraved by yielding to heretical innovations, but from the beginning she has received the Christian faith from her founders, the princes of the Apostles of Christ, and remains undefiled unto the end, according to the divine promise of the Lord and Savior himself, which he uttered in the holy Gospels to the prince of his disciples: saying, ‘Peter, Peter, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he might sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for thee, that (thy) faith fail not. And when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.’ Let your tranquil Clemency therefore consider, since it is the Lord and Savior of all, whose faith it is, that promised that Peter’s faith should not fail and exhorted him to strengthen his brethren, how it is known to all that the Apostolic pontiffs, the predecessors of my littleness, have always confidently done this very thing: of whom also our littleness, since I have received this ministry by divine designation, wishes to be the follower, although unequal to them and the least of all.”67

Agatho: “that they might not make themselves aliens from our communion, that is, from the communion of blessed Peter the Apostle, whose ministry, we (though unworthy) exercise, and preach the faith he has handed down….”68

Agatho: “Therefore the Holy Church of God, the mother of your most Christian power, should be delivered and liberated with all your might (through the help of God) from the errors of such teachers, and the evangelical and apostolic uprightness of the orthodox faith, which has been established upon the firm rock of this Church of blessed Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, which by his grace and guardianship remains free from all error, the whole number of rulers and priests, of the clergy and of the people, unanimously should confess and preach with us as the true declaration of the Apostolic tradition, in order to please God and to save their own souls.”69

Saint Theodore of Studium (759-806) was one of the great defenders of the veneration of icons against the iconoclast heretics who had been condemned by Nicaea II in 787. The Popes had always defended the use of icons, and this might help to explain why St. Theodore regarded Rome as the judge of all heresies. In a letter to Pope Leo III, he writes:
“For it is to the great Peter that Christ our God, after having given him the keys of the kingdom of heaven, conferred the dignity of chief of the flock. It is to Peter, that is to say, to his successor (pros Petron etoi ton autou diadochon) to whom one must submit all heretical novelties introduced into the universal Church by those who distance themselves from the truth.”306

Pope Saint Nicholas I

Pope Saint Nicholas I (the great), 858-867: “If anyone condemns dogmas, mandates, interdicts, sanctions, or decrees, promulgated by the one presiding in the Apostolic See, for the Catholic faith, for the correction of the faithful, for the emendation of criminals, either by an interdict of threatening or of future ills, let him be anathema.”70

Pope Saint Nicholas I: “Neither by the emperor, nor by all the clergy, nor by kings, nor by the people will the judge be judged…. The first See will not be judged by anyone….”71

Pope Saint Nicholas I, Letter to the Emperor: “Furthermore, if you do not listen to Us, it necessarily follows that for Us you are to be considered, as our Lord Jesus Christ commands, as those who refuse to listen to the Church of God, especially since the privileges of the Roman Church, built upon blessed Peter by the word of Christ, deposited in the Church herself, observed in ancient times and celebrated by the sacred universal councils and venerated jointly by the entire Church, can by no means be diminished, by no means infringed upon, by no means changed: for the foundation that God has established, no human effort has the power to destroy, and what God has determined remains firm and strong…. These privileges, therefore, which were given to this holy Church by Christ, not by the councils, but only celebrated and venerated [by them] thereafter… constrain and compel Us ‘to have solicitude for all of the churches of God’ [cf. 2 Cor 11:28]….”72

Pope Saint Nicholas I: “Since, according to the canons, where there is a greater authority, the judgment of the inferiors must be brought to it to be annulled or to be substantiated, certainly it is evident that the judgment of the Apostolic See, of whose authority there is none greater, is to be refused by no one….”73

Pope Saint Nicholas I to the emperor: “The privileges of this See are perpetual, divinely-rooted, and also [divinely-] planted. One can strike against them, but not transfer them; one can drag them, but not tear them out. Those matters which were formerly your domain remain, thanks be to God, insofar as they are inviolate; they will remain after you and so long as the Christian name will be preached, they will not cease to exist… For among other things, these privileges are especially conferred through us, ‘You later being converted,’ he heard from the Lord, ‘confirm your brethren.’ [Lk 22:32] “74

Pope Saint Nicholas I to the emperor: “certainly it is evident that the judgment of the Apostolic See, of whose authority there is none greater, is to be refused by no one…the judgment of the Roman bishop being no longer open for reconsideration….”75

Second Millenium

Pope Saint Leo IX, 1049-1054: “By passing a preceding judgment on the great See, concerning which it is not permitted any man to pass judgment, you have received anathema from all the Fathers of all the venerable Councils….”

“As the hinge while remaining immovable opens and closes the door, so Peter and his successors have free judgment over all the Church, since no one should remove their status because ‘the highest See is judged by no one.’ “76

Pope Saint Leo IX: “Without a doubt, it was for him alone, whom the Lord and Savior asserted that he prayed that his faith would not fail, saying, ‘I have prayed for thee, etc.’ [Lk 22:32]. Such a venerable and efficacious prayer has obtained that to this point the faith of Peter has not failed, nor can it be believed that it is ever going to fail in his throne.”77

Pope Saint Leo IX: “By the See of the Chief of the Apostles, namely by the Roman Church, through the same Peter, as well as through his successors, have not the comments of all the heretics been disapproved, rejected, and overcome, and the hearts of the brethren in the faith of Peter — which so far neither has failed, nor up to the end will fail — been strengthened?”78

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor, 1090-1153, writing to Pope Innocent II: “It is fitting that every danger and scandal of the kingdom of God be referred to your Apostolate and especially these which touch upon the faith. For I regard it worthy that there, above all, dangers to the faith are mended, where one cannot think the faith is lacking. For to what other See was it ever said: ‘I have prayed for thee, that thy faith not fail?’ [Lk 22:32]”79

Pope Innocent III, 1198-1216: “The Fathers, for the sake of the Church, understood especially in regard to articles of faith that those words [Lk 22:32] refer to the See of Peter, who knew the Lord had prayed for him, lest his faith would fail.”80

Pope Innocent III: “To him [Peter] the Lord committed his sheep to be shepherded by a thrice-repeated word, so that anyone who wishes not to have him as his shepherd, even in his successors, should be deemed an alien to the Lord’s flock.”81

Pope Innocent III: “The Lord confesses at the time of the Passion that he prayed for him: ‘I have prayed for you, Peter, that your faith may not fail: and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren’ [Lk 22:32], by this manifestly indicating that his successors would never at any time deviate from the Catholic faith, but rather they would recall others and also strengthen others in such a way as to impose on others the necessity of obeying….”82

Saint Thomas Aquinas, Doctor, 1225-1274: Thomas “argued that although the heresies existed in other churches — Constantinople was the typical example — through the centuries the Church of Rome alone had kept its faith whole. In it, Christ’s prayer (i.e. to Peter of unfailing faith [Lk 22:32]) is fulfilled, and from it the true faith had spread to the entire Western Church. Yet here there is an important additional claim: that the faith remained whole was due not only to the Roman church, but also to the faith of Saint Peter.”83 [The Dominicans and the Pope: Papal Teaching Authority in the Medieval and Early Modern Thomist Tradition, Ulrich Horst, O.P.]

Saint Thomas Aquinas: “For it is revealed that to be subject to the Roman Pontiff is from the necessity of salvation…. And [Saint] Maximus [the Confessor] in the epistle to those of the East directly says: ‘We state that the universal Church has been united and founded upon the rock of the confession of Peter, [and] according to the definition of salvation, in Her, by the necessity of salvation, our souls are to remain, and to her [our souls] are to be obedient, keeping her faith and confession.’ “84

Saint Thomas quoting Saint Cyril: “According to this promise of the Lord, the Apostolic Church of Peter remains pure and spotless from all leading into error, or heretical fraud, above all Heads and Bishops, and Primates of Churches and people, with its own Pontiffs, with most abundant faith, and the authority of Peter. And while other Churches have to blush for the error of some of their members, this [Apostolic Church of Peter] reigns alone, immovably established, enforcing silence, and stopping the mouths of all heretics; and we, from the necessity of salvation, not drunken with the wine of pride, confess, together with it, the formula of truth and of the holy apostolic tradition.”85 [From the golden chain of Saint Thomas Aquinas, attributed incorrectly to Saint Cyril, but approved by Thomas.]

Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica: “schism is the road to heresy. Therefore [Saint] Jerome adds (In Ep. ad Tit. iii, 10) that ‘at the outset it is possible, in a certain respect, to find a difference between schism and heresy: yet there is no schism that does not devise some heresy for itself, that it may appear to have had a reason for separating from the Church.’ “86

Pope Clement VI, 1342-1352: “whether you have believed and do believe that the supreme and preeminent authority and juridical power of those who were the Roman pontiffs, We who are so, and Those who will be so in the future have been, are, and will be such that They and We were not, are not, and in the future will not be able to be judged by anyone; but that They and We have been, are, and will be reserved in judgment by God alone; and that it was not possible, is not possible, and will not be possible for Our decisions and judgments to be appealed to any other judge.”87

Pope Gregory XI, in 1377, Condemned the Error: “An ecclesiastic, even the Roman Pontiff, can legitimately be corrected, and even accused, by subjects and lay persons.”88

Unam Sanctam

Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam, 1302:

“1. Urged by faith, we are obliged to believe and to hold that there is One Holy Catholic and truly Apostolic Church. And this we firmly believe and simply confess: outside of Her, there is neither salvation, nor the remission of sins, just as the Bridegroom in the Canticles proclaims: ‘One is my dove, my perfect one. One is her mother; elect is she who bore her.’ [Canticles 6:8]. And this represents the one mystical body, whose head is Christ, and truly God [is the head] of Christ. [1 Corinthians 11:3] In Her, there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism. [Ephesians 4:5] For certainly, in the time of the Flood, the ark of Noah was one, prefiguring the one Church. And She, having been completed by the measure of one cubit, [Genesis 6:16] had one pilot and helmsman, that is, Noah. And outside of Her, everything standing upon the land, as we read, had been destroyed.

“2. Thus, we venerate Her as the only one, just as the Lord said by the prophet: ‘O God, rescue my soul from the spear, and my only one from the hand of the dog.’ [Psalm 21:21] But he prayed for the soul, that is, for his very self, head and body together. And this body, which he named as the only one, is certainly the Church, because of the Bridegroom, the Faith, the Sacraments, and the love of the Church, united. She is that seamless tunic of the Lord which was not torn, [John 19:23-24] but was distributed by lot.

“3. And so, the one and only Church is one body, one head, (not two heads like a monster), Christ certainly, and the vicar of Christ, who is Peter and the successor of Peter. For the Lord said to Peter himself, ‘Feed my sheep.’ [John 21:17] He said ‘my’ generally, not solely of these or of those. By this, it is understood that all [universas] were committed to him. Therefore, if either the Greeks or others declare themselves not to be committed to Peter and his successors, they necessarily admit themselves not to be among the sheep of Christ, just as the Lord says in John, ‘there is one sheepfold, and only one shepherd.’ [John 10:16]

“4. We are instructed in the Gospel sayings that in Her and within Her power, there are two swords, specifically, the spiritual and the temporal. For the Apostles say, ‘Behold, there are two swords here,’ that is, in the Church. But when the Apostles were speaking, the Lord did not respond, ‘it is too much,’ but ‘it is sufficient.’ [Luke 22:38] Certainly, whoever denies that the temporal sword is in the power of Peter, misunderstands the word of the Lord, saying: ‘Put your sword into its sheath.’ [Matthew 26:52] Therefore, both are in the power of the Church, namely, the spiritual sword and the material. But indeed, the latter is to be exercised on behalf of the Church; and truly, the former is to be exercised by the Church. The former is of the priest; the latter is by the hand of kings and soldiers, but at the will and sufferance of the priest.

“7. Therefore, if the earthly power goes astray, it will be judged by the spiritual power; but if a lesser spiritual power goes astray, it will be judged by its superior; and truly, if the highest power goes astray, it will not be able to be judged by man, but by God alone. And so the Apostle testifies, ‘The spiritual man judges all things, but he himself is judged by no one.’ [1 Corinthians 2:15]”

“8. But this authority, even though it may be given to a man, and may be exercised by a man, is not human, but rather divine, having been given by the divine mouth to Peter, and to him as well as to his successors, by Christ Himself, that is, to him whom He had disclosed to be the firm rock, just as the Lord said to Peter himself: ‘Whatever you shall bind,’ [Mt 16:19] etc. Therefore, whoever resists this authority, such as it has been ordained by God, resists the ordination of God. [Romans 13:2]”

“9. Moreover, that every human creature is to be subject to the Roman pontiff, we declare, we state, we define, and we pronounce to be entirely from the necessity of salvation.”89

Teachings related to Unam Sanctam:

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor, 1090-1153: “And both therefore, are of the Church, specifically, both the spiritual sword and the material. But indeed, the latter is to be exercised on behalf of the Church; and truly the former is to be exercised by the Church; the former is of the priest, the latter is by the hand of the soldier, but truly at the will of the priest and the order of the emperor.”90

Dionysius the Areopagite, pseudo, c. late 5th to early 6th century: “This, then, is the all-sacred Law of the Godhead, that, through the first, the second are conducted to Its most Divine splendor.”91

Hugo de St. Victor, 1096-1141: “The spiritual authority holds the ability so that it may establish the earthly authority, and holds the ability to judge if it might not have been good.”92

Fifth Lateran Council: “And since it arises from the necessity of salvation that all the faithful of Christ are to be subject to the Roman Pontiff, just as we are taught by the testimony of the divine Scriptures and of the holy Fathers, and as is declared by the Constitution of Pope Boniface VIII of happy memory, which begins ‘Unam Sanctam,’ for the salvation of the souls of the same faithful, and by the supreme authority of the Roman pontiff and of this holy See, and by the unity and power of the Church, His spouse, the same Constitution, being approved by the sacred Council, we renew and approve.”93

Catechism of the Council of Trent, 1566: “The Church has but one ruler and one governor, the invisible one, Christ, whom the eternal Father has made head over all the Church, which is his body; the visible one, the Pope, who, as legitimate successor of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, fills the Apostolic chair. It is the unanimous teaching of the Fathers that this visible head is necessary to establish and preserve unity in the Church. This Saint Jerome clearly perceived and as clearly expressed when … he wrote: ‘One is elected that, by the appointment of a head, all occasion of schism may be removed.’ “94

Catechism of the Council of Trent, 1566: “Should anyone object that the Church is content with one Head and one Spouse, Jesus Christ, and requires no other, the answer is obvious. For as we deem Christ not only the author of all the Sacraments, but also their invisible minister — He it is who baptizes, He it is who absolves, although men are appointed by Him the external ministers of the Sacraments — so has He placed over His Church, which He governs by His invisible Spirit, a man to be His vicar and the minister of His power. A visible Church requires a visible head; therefore the Savior appointed Peter head and pastor of all the faithful, when He committed to his care the feeding of all His sheep, in such ample terms that He willed the very same power of ruling and governing the entire Church to descend to Peter’s successors.”95

Catechism of the Council of Trent, 1566: “Above all these, the Catholic Church has always placed the Supreme Pontiff of Rome, whom Cyril of Alexandria, in the Council of Ephesus, named the Chief Bishop, Father and Patriarch of the whole world. He sits in that chair of Peter in which beyond every shadow of doubt the Prince of the Apostles sat to the end of his days, and hence it is that in him the Church recognises the highest degree of dignity, and a universality of jurisdiction derived, not from the decrees of men or Councils, but from God Himself. Wherefore he is the Father and guide of all the faithful, of all the Bishops, and of all the prelates, no matter how high their power and office; and as successor of St. Peter, as true and lawful Vicar of Christ our Lord, he governs the universal Church.”319

Pope Pius XII: “After His glorious Ascension into Heaven this Church rested not on Him alone, but on Peter, too, its visible foundation stone. That Christ and His Vicar constitute one only Head is the solemn teaching of Our predecessor of immortal memory [Pope] Boniface VIII in the Apostolic Letter Unam Sanctam; and his successors have never ceased to repeat the same.”96

Pope Pius II

Pope Pius II, oration “Multa hic hodie,” 21 November 1459, Mantu, Italy:

“Concerning the first part, a person who is aware of his own weaknesses does not get proud or elated when being praised. We know and recognize Our own weaknesses. We believe that the Good God has elevated Us to the the throne and holy splendor of Saint Peter’s vicariate only to let His own power shine forth through Our weaknesses and His virtue radiate through Our imperfections. For He chose fishers and common men, indeed the weak of this world, in order to confound the strong so that we should ascribe the splendor of the many miracles and the great force of the Faith — embracing the whole world and growing roots everywhere — to God Himself alone and not to the merits of any man.”

“Though you nobly praised the See of Saint Peter, which We occupy, though We are not his equal in merit, nobody has ever praised it with enough spirit and zeal. For the Roman and Apostolic See was not created and established by princes, or king, or emperors, or mighty peoples, or by decrees of fathers or councils, and it was not set above all the other churches by conciliar decision. No, it was Christ Himself, true man and true God, reigning in the Trinity, who desired that all the churches spread over the whole world should form one Church, one bridal chamber, and that Saint Peter should be its Head. This See is the one perfect and chosen See of its mother and source, [the Church]. This is the Apostolic See, instituted by the Word which also created Heaven and Earth, and not by frail mortal men. This is the See foretold by the prophets. This is the See which God has set over peoples and kingdoms. This is the See which He strengthened with the testimony of the apostles, the blood of the martyrs, and adoption by the imperial power. Whoever opposes the ordinances of this See opposes the power of God.”

“Let nobody distort the meaning of Our words, and let nobody believe that We censure Our dear son in Christ, Charles, Illustrious King of the French. For as you have heard, today the Most Christian King has with all ceremony declared his obedience to the Apostolic See. No, We are speaking of those who teach and believe differently from him who is the Head of the whole Church, and to whom the Lord says that thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church. Let no one deceive himself; let no one perfidiously corrupt the truth of Faith. The Church is one, which is spread abroad far and wide into a multitude by an increase of fruitfulness. As there are many rays of the sun, but one light; and many branches of a tree, but one strength based in its tenacious root; and since from one spring flow many streams, although the multiplicity seems diffused in the liberality of an overflowing abundance, yet the unity is still preserved in the source. Separate a ray of the sun from its body of light, its unity does not allow a division of light; break a branch from a tree — when broken, it will not be able to bud; cut off the stream from its fountain, and that which is cut off dries up.”

“Thus the shining Church of God sends it rays of light through all the world. But the light which is spread everywhere is One. There is but One Head, and One source, and One Mother Church, which is without blemish, which knows the One home, and which chastely guards the holiness of the One chamber. Anyone who does not remain united with the Roman See, encompassing the Universal Church in virtue, is an impious stranger, an enemy who cannot have God as his father. Finally, this is the See which has received the power to bind and to loose. If anyone spurns its censures, corrections, and commands, he will be considered a pagan and a publican. We read that Moses stood on a rock in order to contemplate God’s face. On this rock almighty God has built his Church. Those who do not recognize that Church cannot look at the presence of God. The Church is the only one through whom God welcomes a sacrifice. She is the only one who can intercede confidently for those who go astray. She is the only one who can guard those within her with the strong bond of love. This is the ark and the ship: those who enter it will not drown in the flood, but will sail over the waters to the high place. But those who are locked out from the ark of this See will go under and perish in the flood.”

“Considering this packed place and the late hour, We may have already have spoken too long. But if we consider the house of divine power and of religion and glory, and the image and excellence of the Heavenly Throne, We have said too little, for one cannot say enough about them. Only the importance of the matter has made Us speak at such length.”

“We now come to the third part, which concerns the obedience declared on behalf of the Most Christian King. We and Our venerable brothers, the cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, accept his obedience as it is presented in its entirety. The king knows from his own nature and from his ancestors that the merit of obedience must be guarded justly. Indeed, the law promulgated by God says that obedience is better than sacrifice. And as the king considers the prosperity of those of his ancestors who remained steadfast in their obedience to the Holy See, he knows that in this way he is also guarding his own honor, glory and salvation: indeed, those kings who failed in their commitment to obedience lost much glory.” [324]

Saint Bellarmine

Saint Robert Bellarmine, Doctor, 1542-1621:

Bellarmine, on Lk 22:32: “Therefore, the true exposition is that the Lord asked for two privileges for Peter…. The second privilege is that he, as the Pope, could never teach something against the faith, or that there would never be found one in his See who would teach against the true faith. From these privileges, we see that the first did not remain to his successors, but the second without a doubt did.”97

Bellarmine: “Fourthly, the gift asked for Peter in this citation [Lk 22:32] also pertains to the successors. For Christ prayed for Peter to the advantage of the Church; but the Church always needs someone by whom she is confirmed, whose faith cannot fail.”316

Saint Theophylactus, Saint Bellarmine explains, “openly teaches that this privilege was given to Peter because he was going to be the prince and head of others; hence it was given to all the others that would succeed him in that supremacy: ‘Because I have you as a prince of the disciples, confirm the others. This is fitting for you, who are the rock of the Church after me, as well as the foundation.’ “98

Saint Bellarmine: “The Pope is the Teacher and Shepherd of the whole Church, thus, the whole Church is so bound to hear and follow him that if he would err, the whole Church would err.”99

Saint Bellarmine: “Now our adversaries respond that the Church ought to hear him [the Roman Pontiff] so long as he teaches correctly, for God must be heard more than men. On the other hand, who will judge whether the Pope has taught rightly or not? For it is not for the sheep to judge whether the shepherd wanders off, not even and especially in those matters which are truly doubtful. Nor do Christian sheep have any greater judge or teacher to whom they might have recourse. As we showed above, from the whole Church one can appeal to the Pope; yet from him no one is able to appeal; therefore necessarily the whole Church will err, if the Pontiff would err.”100

Bellarmine: “I respond: there are five opinions on this matter. The first is of Albert Pighius, who contends that the Pope cannot be a heretic, and hence would not be deposed in any case: such an opinion is probable, and can easily be defended, as we will show in its proper place.”101

Bellarmine: “It can be believed probably and piously that the supreme Pontiff is not only not able to err as Pontiff but that even as a particular person he is not able to be heretical, by pertinaciously believing something contrary to the faith.”102

Bellarmine: the Pope “cannot in any way be heretical, or publicly teach heresy.”103

Bellarmine, cited by Bishop Gasser in the relatio of Vatican I; book 4, chapter 6: “THE FOURTH proposition. It is probable and may piously be believed that not only as Pope can the Supreme Pontiff not err, but he cannot be a heretic even as a particular person by pertinaciously believing something false against the faith.

It is proved: 1) because it seems to require the sweet disposition of the providence of God. For the Pope not only should not, but cannot preach heresy, but rather should always preach the truth. He will certainly do that, since the Lord commanded him to confirm his brethren, and for that reason added: ‘I have prayed for thee, that thy faith shall not fail,’ [Lk 22:32] that is, that at least the preaching of the true faith shall not fail in thy throne.”104

“How, I ask, will a heretical Pope confirm the brethren in faith and always preach the true faith? Certainly God can wrench the confession of the true faith out of the heart of a heretic just as he placed the words in the mouth of Balaam’s ass. Still, this will be a great violence, and not in keeping with the providence of God that sweetly disposes all things.”105

“2) It is proved ab eventu [by events]. For to this point no (Pontiff) has been a heretic, or certainly it cannot be proven that any of them were heretics; therefore it is a sign that such a thing cannot be.”106

Bellarmine: “A general Council represents the universal Church, and hence has the consensus of the universal Church; therefore, if the Church cannot err, neither can a legitimate and approved Ecumenical Council err.”107

Bellarmine: “It must be held with Catholic faith that general Councils confirmed by the Supreme Pontiff can neither err in faith nor morals.”108

Bellarmine: “Firstly, the Pope with a general Council cannot err when he issues decrees of faith or general precepts of morals.”109

Bellarmine: “Many canons teach that the Pope cannot be judged unless he may be discovered to have deviated from the faith, therefore he can deviate from the faith…. all of those canons speak on a personal error of the Pope, not a judicial one.”110

Related Teachings:

Ludwig Ott, The Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma: “It has been the constant teaching of the Catholic Church from the earliest times that the teachings of the General Councils are infallible.”111

Pope Pius IX, in 1864, Condemned the Error: “The obligation by which Catholic teachers and authors are strictly bound is confined to those things only which are proposed to universal belief as dogmas of faith by the infallible judgment of the Church.”112

Pope Pius IX, in 1864, Condemned the Error: “Roman pontiffs and ecumenical councils have wandered outside the limits of their powers, have usurped the rights of princes, and have even erred in defining matters of faith and morals.”113

Pope Pius IX: “According to the vain opinion of these men, the theological sciences should be treated in the same manner as the philosophical sciences. They forget that the former science is based upon the dogmas of faith, than which nothing can be more fixed and certain, while the latter is illustrated and explained only by human reason, than which nothing can be more uncertain, for it changes according to the diversity of minds, and it is subject to numberless errors and illusions. Therefore, the authority of the Church once rejected, the field is widely opened to the most difficult and abstract questions, and human reason, too confident in the infirmity of its strength, falls into the most shameful errors, which We have neither time nor wish to recall here; you know them too well, and you have seen how fatal they have been to the interests of religion and of society.”159

Francisco Suarez

Francisco Suarez: “The faith of Peter was catholic and not able to fail; but the faith of the Roman Church is the faith of Peter; therefore, the faith of the Roman Church is the catholic faith, from which this See can never defect.”302

Francisco Suarez, on Popes and heresy: “Even though many affirm this as more probable, nevertheless to me (in brief) it seems more pious and more probable that a Pope could indeed err as a private person out of ignorance but not out of contumacy. For although God is able to prevent a heretical Pope from harming the Church, nevertheless it is more agreeable to the way of divine providence that — since God has promised that the Pope would never err in his definitions — He would insure that there would never be such a heretical Pope. And since up till now there has never been one in the Church, it should consequently be thought that, by the ordination and providence of God, there cannot be one.”312

Suarez: “It follows first that the Pope cannot err in precepts or in matters of morals that he hands on and approves for the universal Church.”313

Suarez, on canonizations by the Pope: “Further, it is inferred that the Pope cannot err in the canonization of saints.”314

Suarez: “it is most certain that a general Council in which the Pope is present is an infallible rule of faith and cannot err in what it defines in matters of faith or in what it approves in matters of morals.”315

Relatio of Vatican I

Bishop Vincent Gasser, 1870: “For as the words of Christ, ‘The gates of hell shall not prevail against it’ (Mt. 16:16), are not bounded by time but will have authority until the end of the world, so the foundation of the Church on Peter and his successors ought always remain unshaken against the proud gates of those who belong to the nether world, that is against heresies and the builders of heresy, as Saint Epiphanius says.”114

Gasser: “The bishops by power of their office are guardians of the deposit which the Apostles — as witnesses preordained by God — committed to them. It is as Paul says to Timothy: ‘Hold to the form of sound teaching, which you heard from me in faith and in the love of Christ Jesus. Through the Holy Spirit who dwells in you, guard the worthy deposit’ (2 Tim 1:13-14). This same thing is said to all the bishops. In this duty of guarding, communicating and defending the deposit as a treasure of divine truth, the bishops also are helped by the Holy Spirit. But this infallible aid of the Holy Spirit is not present in each of the bishops but rather in the bishops taken together and joined with [their] head, for it was said to all generally and not each individually: ‘Behold, I am with you all days until the end of time’ (Mt. 28:20).”115

Gasser: “This prerogative granted to Saint Peter by the Lord Jesus Christ was supposed to pass to all Peter’s successors because the chair of Peter is the center of unity in the Church. But if the Pontiff should fall into an error of faith, the Church would dissolve, deprived of the bond of unity. The Bishop of Meaux [French Bishop Auguste Allou] speaks very well on this point, saying: ‘If this Roman See could fall and be no longer the See of truth but of error and pestilence, then the Catholic Church herself would not have the bond of a society and would be schismatic and scattered — which in fact is impossible.’ [1] “116

Gasser: “I reply: how would the Roman Pontiff be able to fulfill this office which was divinely and especially given to him if he did not have a special authority which all others — even the bishops whether dispersed throughout the world or gathered together — should recognize as unassailable?”117

Gasser: “If the authority of the Pope were not unchallengeable in itself but only [when exercised] together with the bishops, then, by divine law, the Pope should have delegates of the entire episcopate to assist him — delegates who would represent that episcopate by divine law. But Christ instituted nothing of this sort; rather He placed Peter and his successor as an immobile bulwark of faith, as the heir of a confirmed faith and as the one who confirms his brothers [Lk 22:32], and, finally, is the pastor of the whole flock of the Lord, ruling it in such a way that it lacks nothing and leading it to good pastures.”118

Gasser: “That the infallibility granted to Peter was to have passed to his successors is also proved — to use the words of Cardinal Cajetan — from the fact that when the Pope makes a judicial and definitive decision determining that something is heresy and that it must be held as such by the Church then it is clear that we are all bound to accept his decision and that whoever pertinaciously clings to the opposite view is considered a heretic. Therefore the whole Church is able to err, following the decision of a Pope, if the Pope in such a definition is able to err. Therefore it must be believed that the promise of Christ made to the Church, viz., ‘The Holy Spirit will teach you all truth’ (Jn. 16:18), is fulfilled through one with no more difficulty than through a multitude, thus preserving the divine order which governs the lower through the higher and the higher through the uppermost. Thus Cajetan. [2]”119

Gasser: “And Melchior Cano dares to add: ‘Whoever would deny that the power of binding and loosing which Christ is believed to have given to Saint Peter is now present in the Bishop of Rome, such a person (i.e., one who would deny this power) is lawfully and rightly held to be a heretic. Whoever would deny to those who have succeeded Peter the strength of Peter for confirming his brothers must be judged to be heretical.’ [3] “120

Gasser: “As you know, Saint Irenaeus, who established the rule of faith as being the consensus of those Churches which were founded by Apostles, simultaneously established a more compendious and more secure rule, viz., the tradition of the Roman Church, with which, because of its more powerful primacy in the Church, all the faithful throughout the world should agree and in which the apostolic tradition is preserved by all the faithful from everywhere, as they live in communion with the Roman Church as the center of unity. Therefore, according to Saint Irenaeus, the faith of the Roman Church is, because of the dignity of its primacy, normative for all the other Churches, and, because of its dignity as center, the principle of preservation for the other Churches.”121

Gasser: “Saint Augustine proposes the same rule of faith in the following words: ‘If indeed one considers the order of episcopal succession, what more certain and salvific than the one listed as coming from Peter himself, to whom, as bearing the figure of the whole Church, the Lord said: “On this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not conquer it.” Linus succeeded Peter … and so down to the present Pontiff. In this line of succession no Donatist was bishop.’ [4] For Augustine, this was enough to damn the Donatist heresy, that fact that no bishop of the Romans was a Donatist; and this rule, because of the authority of Peter, Augustine calls more secure and salvific.

“This same assent to the faith of the Roman Pontiffs in their own inerrancy has been sufficiently manifested by the Church in that it has always held communion with the Holy See as completely and absolutely necessary. Communion with the chair of Peter was, and was considered to be, communion with the Church and with Peter himself, and indeed was even compared with the truth revealed by Christ. ‘I do not know Vitalis,’ writes [Saint] Jerome, ‘Melitus I reject, Paulinus I ignore. Whoever does not gather with you (that is, with Pope Damasus) scatters; that is, whoever does not belong to Christ belongs to the antichrist’ [5].

“Furthermore, because the testimony which the Church offered to the faith of the Roman Pontiffs concerning the inerrancy of their own See is certain, the holy Fathers held it as certain and obvious that Peter, constituted the foundation of the Church, could not be separated from the Church itself and that the Church could not be separated from Christ and that Christ could not be separated from the truth. Because of this, Saint Ambrose says very beautifully: ‘Peter is he to whom the Lord said: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build the Church.” Therefore where Peter is, there is the Church; where the Church is, there is no death but only eternal life. And therefore Christ added: “And the gates of hell shall not prevail, and I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” ‘ [6]”122

Gasser: “This assent to the faith of the Roman Pontiffs concerning the inerrancy of their own See has also been offered by the Church inasmuch as every doctrine, when it has first been damned as alien to the Faith and profane by the Roman Pontiff, is also rejected by all who are truly faithful. ‘How will Italy receive,’ says Jerome, ‘what Rome has condemned? How will the bishops receive what the Apostolic See has damned?’ [7] Finally we are able to prove the same assent to the faith of the Roman Pontiffs concerning the inerrancy of their own See from the fact that, in all cases involving matters of Faith, recourse was had to the Apostolic See — recourse, indeed, as if to the authority of Peter and Paul — and also from the fact that an appeal against the Roman See and the dogmatic definitions of this See was never licit.”123

Gasser: “The third document is taken from the Council of Florence. It has been said that, of those things which are brought forth in our proposed chapter from the Council of Florence, there is nothing in them which a sober interpreter can use to establish the doctrine of infallibility. But it is clear that the mind of the fathers at Florence was far different and this can be seen from the commentary which Bro. John made before Pope Eugene IV and the Emperor John Palaeologus in order that the Emperor might know what the meaning of the formula was which treated of the Roman Pontiff. And so, treating each part of the formula individually, he explained the part of the formula which reads, ‘The Roman Pontiff stands as head of the whole Church and the father and teacher of all Christians,’ by saying: ‘Since all Christians agree and should agree with one another in the faith, he (the Roman Pontiff) is placed as the teacher of unblemished faith because of the privilege granted to Peter.’ Explaining the part which reads, ‘To that same See and to the Roman Pontiff there was given in the Blessed Prince of the Apostles the full power of feeding, ruling and governing the universal Church,’ Bro. John drew upon the letter of Pope St. Agatho to the Emperor Constantine IV in respect to the third Council of Constantinople, and from that letter drew the following conclusion: ‘In this authority (i.e., Agatho), these following three things are clearly asserted. First, that the feeding of all the flock is committed to Peter and to his successors. Second, that the Apostolic See has never fallen into any part of error, but has always remained unblemished in faith. Third, that so great is the authority of the Apostolic See that the Church Universal and the general councils have always faithfully followed its apostolic teaching, and the Catholic Fathers have always accepted that same doctrine, and that the words (‘that your faith may not fail’) are understood of the Apostolic See to mean that it is immune from error and that the confirmation of all the brothers who are wavering in faith pertains to the same See and to the Roman Pontiff.’ [9] Thus was this matter explained in the very Council of Florence itself, and this must be held as its authentic meaning since it was deliberately proposed this way by the order of the Roman Pontiff so that the Emperor might understand the meaning of the formula.”124

Gasser: “Augustine said to Julian, ‘Why do you still seek to examine that which has already been decided by the Apostolic See?’ “125

Gasser: “But in no way, therefore, should it be feared that the universal Church could be led into error about faith through the bad faith and negligence of the Pontiff.”126

Gasser: “He [the Roman Pontiff] is no more able to be separated from the universal Church than the foundation from the building it is destined to support.”127

Gasser: “As far as the doctrine set forth in the Draft goes, the Deputation is unjustly accused of wanting to raise an extreme opinion, viz., that of Albert Pighius, to the dignity of a dogma. For the opinion of Albert Pighius, which Bellarmine indeed calls pious and probable, was that the Pope, as an individual person or a private teacher, was able to err from a type of ignorance but was never able to fall into heresy or teach heresy. To say nothing of the other points, let me say that this is clear from the very words of Bellarmine, both in the citation made by the reverend speaker and also from Bellarmine himself who, in book 4, chapter 6, pronounces on the opinion of Pighius in the following words: ‘It can be believed probably and piously that the supreme Pontiff is not only not able to err as Pontiff but that even as a particular person he is not able to be heretical, by pertinaciously believing something contrary to the faith.’128 From this, it appears that the doctrine in the proposed chapter is not that of Albert Pighius or the extreme opinion of any school, but rather that it is one and the same which Bellarmine teaches in the place cited by the reverend speaker and which Bellarmine adduces in the fourth place and calls most certain and assured, or rather, correcting himself, the most common and certain opinion.”129

Notes for the Relatio of Vatican I, Bishop Gasser:

[1] “Defens. declarat. cleri Gallicani” (lib. X), cap. VI. [Bishop Auguste Allou of Meaux, France, Declaration in defense of the clergy of Galacia, book X, chapter VI.]
[2] “De auctorit. papae et concilii” cap. IX et XI. [Cajetan, On the authority of Popes and Councils, chapters IX and XI]
[3] “Lib. VI,” cap. VII. [Melchior, book VI, chapter VII.]
[4] “Epist.” 53 alias 165, #2 (Migne, PL. XXXIII, 196). [Saint Augustine, Letters]
[5] “Epist. ad Damasum papam” (Migne, PL. XXII, 356). [Saint Jerome, Letter to Pope Damasus]
[6] “Enarr. in ps. XL, n. 30” (Migne, PL. XIV, 1082). [Saint Ambrose]
[7] “Lib. III, adv. Rufinum” cap. XV (Migne, PL. XXIII, 468). [Saint Jerome, Book 3, against Rufinus, chap. 15]

Cardinal Manning

Cardinal Manning, a father of Vatican I, 1870:

Cardinal Manning: “The application of the promise ‘Ego rogavi pro te,’ [“I have prayed for you”] etc. to the infallible faith of Peter and his successors, is made by Saint Ambrose; Saint Augustine; Saint Leo; Saint Gelasius; Pelagius II; Saint Gregory the Great; Stephen, Bishop of Dori in a Lateran Council [of 649, not Ecumenical]; Saint Vitalian; the Bishops of the IV Ecumenical Council AD 451 [Chalcedon]; Saint Agatho in the VI AD 680 [Constantinople III]; Saint Bernard AD 1153; Saint Thomas Aquinas AD 1274; Saint Bonaventure AD 1274; that is, this interpretation is given by three out of the four Doctors of the Church, by six Pontiffs down to the seventh century. It was recognized in two Ecumenical Councils. It is expressly declared by the Angelic Doctor, who may be taken as the exponent of the Dominican school, and by the Seraphic Doctor, who is likewise the witness of the Franciscan; and by a multitude of Saints.”130

Cardinal Manning: “The interpretation by the Fathers of the words ‘On this rock,’ etc. is fourfold, but all four interpretations are not more than four aspects of one and the same truth, and all are necessary to complete its full meaning. They all implicitly or explicitly contain the perpetual stability of Peter’s faith….”131

Cardinal Manning: “In these two promises [Lk 22:32, Mt 16:18] a divine assistance is pledged to Peter and to his successors, and that divine assistance is promised to secure the stability and indefectibility of the Faith in the supreme Doctor and Head of the Church, for the general good of the Church itself.”132

Cardinal Manning, citing the Lateran Council of 649 (not Ecumenical): “Stephen, Bishop of Dori, A.D. 649, at a Lateran Council under Martin I says, in a libellus supplex or memorial read and recorded in the acts, ‘Peter the Prince of the Apostles was first commanded to feed the sheep of the Catholic Church, when the Lord said, “Peter, lovest thou Me? Feed My sheep.” And again, he chiefly and especially, having a faith firm above all, and unchangeable in our Lord God, was found worthy to convert and to confirm his fellows and his spiritual brethren who were shaken.’ “133

Bishop Stephen of Dora [or Dori], on behalf of Patriarch Sophronius of Jerusalem, appealed to Pope Martin I in 649 (reign 649-655) as the authoritative teacher who could stop the heresy of Monotheletism [the heresy of one will in Christ]:
“I would like to denounce Monothelitism before the eminent Chair, the teacher of all the chairs; I mean your superior and divine chair, since it may completely heal the wound. Your chair has been accustomed from the beginning to rule with apostolic and canonical authority. It is very evident, indeed, that it is not only the keys to the kingdom of heaven that Peter, alone among all, received [Mt 16:19]. Besides the keys of heaven, by which he can open and shut for the well-being of believers and the misfortune of unbelievers, this true head and director of the apostles, was the first entrusted with feeding the sheep of the entire Catholic Church [Jn 21:16-17] … and the only one authorized to strengthen his colleagues and spiritual brothers when they become shaken [Lk 22:31], on account of the foreknowledge of God Incarnate who, for our sake, gave him power and priestly authority over them all.”307

Saint John Henry Newman

Saint Newman, 1801-1890: “I have said that, like St. Peter, he is the Vicar of his Lord. He can judge, and he can acquit; he can pardon, and he can condemn; he can command and he can permit; he can forbid, and he can punish. He has a Supreme jurisdiction over the people of God. He can stop the ordinary course of sacramental mercies; he can excommunicate from the ordinary grace of redemption; and he can remove again the ban which he has inflicted. It is the rule of Christ’s providence, that what His Vicar does in severity or in mercy upon earth, He Himself confirms in heaven.

“And in saying all this I have said enough for my purpose, because that purpose is to define our obligations to him. That is the point on which our Bishop has fixed our attention; “our obligations to the Holy See;” and what need I say more to measure our own duty to it and to him who sits in it, than to say that in his administration of Christ’s kingdom, in his religious acts, we must never oppose his will, or dispute his word, or criticize his policy, or shrink from his side? There are kings of the earth who have despotic authority, which their subjects obey indeed but disown in their hearts; but we must never murmur at that absolute rule which the Sovereign Pontiff has over us, because it is given to him by Christ, and, in obeying him, we are obeying his Lord. We must never suffer ourselves to doubt, that, in his government of the Church, he is guided by an intelligence more than human. His yoke is the yoke of Christ, he has the responsibility of his own acts, not we; and to his Lord must he render account, not to us. Even in secular matters it is ever safe to be on his side, dangerous to be on the side of his enemies.

“Our duty is — not indeed to mix up Christ’s Vicar with this or that party of men, because he in his high station is above all parties — but to look at his formal deeds, and to follow him whither he goeth, and never to desert him, however we may be tried, but to defend him at all hazards, and against all comers, as a son would a father, and as a wife a husband, knowing that his cause is the cause of God. And so, as regards his successors, if we live to see them; it is our duty to give them in like manner our dutiful allegiance and our unfeigned service, and to follow them also whithersoever they go, having that same confidence that each in his turn and in his own day will do God’s work and will, which we have felt in their predecessors, now taken away to their eternal reward.”134

Saint Newman: “I say with [Saint Robert] Cardinal Bellarmine whether the Pope be infallible or not in any pronouncement, anyhow he is to be obeyed. No good can come from disobedience. His facts and his warnings may be all wrong; his deliberations may have been biased. He may have been misled. Imperiousness and craft, tyranny and cruelty, may be patent in the conduct of his advisers and instruments. But when he speaks formally and authoritatively he speaks as our Lord would have him speak, and all those imperfections and sins of individuals are overruled for that result which our Lord intends (just as the action of the wicked and of enemies to the Church are overruled) and therefore the Pope’s word stands, and a blessing goes with obedience to it, and no blessing with disobedience.”135

Pope Leo XIII

Pope Leo XIII, 1878-1903: “In faith and in the teaching of morality, God Himself made the Church a partaker of His divine authority, and through His heavenly gift she cannot be deceived. She is therefore the greatest and most reliable teacher of mankind, and in her swells an inviolable right to teach them.”136

Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum, in 1896, n. 9; 10 to 16:

9. “Hence, as it is clear that God absolutely willed that there should be unity in His Church, and as it is evident what kind of unity He willed, and by means of what principle He ordained that this unity should be maintained, we may address the following words of Saint Augustine to all who have not deliberately closed their minds to the truth: “When we see the great help of God, such manifest progress and such abundant fruit, shall we hesitate to take refuge in the bosom of that Church, which, as is evident to all, possesses the supreme authority of the Apostolic See through the Episcopal succession? In vain do heretics rage round it; they are condemned partly by the judgment of the people themselves, partly by the weight of councils, partly by the splendid evidence of miracles. To refuse to the Church the primacy is most impious and above measure arrogant. And if all learning, no matter how easy and common it may be, in order to be fully understood requires a teacher and master, what can be greater evidence of pride and rashness than to be unwilling to learn about the books of the divine mysteries from the proper interpreter, and to wish to condemn them unknown?” (De Unitate Credendi, cap. xvii., n. 35).”137
“10. But as this heavenly doctrine was never left to the arbitrary judgment of private individuals, but, in the beginning delivered by Jesus Christ, was afterwards committed by Him exclusively to the Magisterium already named, so the power of performing and administering the divine mysteries, together with the authority of ruling and governing, was not bestowed by God on all Christians indiscriminately, but on certain chosen persons. For to the Apostles and their legitimate successors alone these words have reference: “Going into the whole world preach the Gospel.” “Baptizing them.” “Do this in commemoration of Me.” “Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them.” And in like manner He ordered the Apostles only and those who should lawfully succeed them to feed — that is to govern with authority — all Christian souls. Whence it also follows that it is necessarily the duty of Christians to be subject and to obey. And these duties of the Apostolic office are, in general, all included in the words of St. Paul: “Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God” (I Cor. iv., I).

10. “Wherefore Jesus Christ bade all men, present and future, follow Him as their leader and Saviour; and this, not merely as individuals, but as forming a society, organized and united in mind. In this way a duly constituted society should exist, formed out of the divided multitude of peoples, one in faith, one in end, one in the participation of the means adapted to the attainment of the end, and one as subject to one and the same authority. To this end He established in the Church all principles which necessarily tend to make organized human societies, and through which they attain the perfection proper to each. That is, in it (the Church), all who wished to be the sons of God by adoption might attain to the perfection demanded by their high calling, and might obtain salvation. The Church, therefore, as we have said, is man’s guide to whatever pertains to Heaven. This is the office appointed unto it by God: that it may watch over and may order all that concerns religion, and may, without let or hindrance, exercise, according to its judgment, its charge over Christianity. Wherefore they who pretend that the Church has any wish to interfere in Civil matters, or to infringe upon the rights of the State, know it not, or wickedly calumniate it.

10. “God indeed even made the Church a society far more perfect than any other. For the end for which the Church exists is as much higher than the end of other societies as divine grace is above nature, as immortal blessings are above the transitory things on the earth. Therefore the Church is a society divine in its origin, supernatural in its end and in means proximately adapted to the attainment of that end; but it is a human community inasmuch as it is composed of men. For this reason we find it called in Holy Writ by names indicating a perfect society. It is spoken of as the House of God, the city placed upon the mountain to which all nations must come. But it is also the fold presided over by one Shepherd, and into which all Christ’s sheep must betake themselves. Yea, it is called the kingdom which God has raised up and which will stand for ever. Finally it is the body of Christ — that is, of course, His mystical body, but a body living and duly organized and composed of many members; members indeed which have not all the same functions, but which, united one to the other, are kept bound together by the guidance and authority of the head.

10. “Indeed no true and perfect human society can be conceived which is not governed by some supreme authority. Christ therefore must have given to His Church a supreme authority to which all Christians must render obedience. For this reason, as the unity of the faith is of necessity required for the unity of the church, inasmuch as it is the body of the faithful, so also for this same unity, inasmuch as the Church is a divinely constituted society, unity of government, which effects and involves unity of communion, is necessary jure divino [by divine law]. “The unity of the Church is manifested in the mutual connection or communication of its members, and likewise in the relation of all the members of the Church to one head” (St. Thomas, 2a 2ae, 9, xxxix., a. I).

10. “From this it is easy to see that men can fall away from the unity of the Church by schism, as well as by heresy. “We think that this difference exists between heresy and schism” (writes St. Jerome): “heresy has no perfect dogmatic teaching, whereas schism, through some Episcopal dissent, also separates from the Church” (S. Hieronymus [Saint Jerome], Comment. in Epist. ad Titum, cap. iii., v. 10-11). In which judgment St. John Chrysostom concurs: “I say and protest (he writes) that it is as wrong to divide the Church as to fall into heresy” (Hom. xi., in Epist. ad Ephes., n. 5). Wherefore as no heresy can ever be justifiable, so in like manner there can be no justification for schism. “There is nothing more grievous than the sacrilege of schism….there can be no just necessity for destroying the unity of the Church” (S. Augustinus, Contra Epistolam Parmeniani, lib. ii., cap. ii., n. 25).

The Supreme Authority Founded by Christ

“11. The nature of this supreme authority, which all Christians are bound to obey, can be ascertained only by finding out what was the evident and positive will of Christ. Certainly Christ is a King forever; and though invisible, He continues unto the end of time to govern and guard His Church from Heaven. But since He willed that His kingdom should be visible He was obliged, when He ascended into Heaven, to designate a vice-gerent on earth. “Should anyone say that Christ is the one head and the one shepherd, the one spouse of the one Church, he does not give an adequate reply. It is clear, indeed, that Christ is the author of grace in the Sacraments of the Church; it is Christ Himself who baptizes; it is He who forgives sins; it is He who is the true priest who hath offered Himself upon the altar of the cross, and it is by His power that His body is daily consecrated upon the altar; and still, because He was not to be visibly present to all the faithful, He made choice of ministers through whom the aforesaid Sacraments should be dispensed to the faithful as said above” (cap. 74). “For the same reason, therefore, because He was about to withdraw His visible presence from the Church, it was necessary that He should appoint someone in His place, to have the charge of the Universal Church. Hence before His Ascension He said to Peter: ‘Feed my sheep’ ” (St. Thomas, Contra Gentiles, lib. iv., cap. 76).

11. “Jesus Christ, therefore, appointed Peter to be that head of the Church; and He also determined that the authority instituted in perpetuity for the salvation of all should be inherited by His successors, in whom the same permanent authority of Peter himself should continue. And so He made that remarkable promise to Peter and to no one else: “Thou are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church” (Matt. xvi., 18). “To Peter the Lord spoke: to one, therefore, that He might establish unity upon one” (S. Pacianus [St. Pacian, Bishop] ad Sempronium, Ep. iii., n. 11). “Without any prelude He mentions St. Peter’s name and that of his father (Blessed art thou Simon, son of John) and He does not wish Him to be called any more Simon; claiming him for Himself according to His divine authority He aptly names him Peter, from petra the rock, since upon him He was about to found His Church” (S. Cyrillus Alexandrinus [St. Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria], In Evang. Joan., lib. ii., in cap. i., v. 42).

The Universal Jurisdiction of St. Peter

“12. From this text it is clear that by the will and command of God the Church rests upon St. Peter, just as a building rests on its foundation. Now the proper nature of a foundation is to be a principle of cohesion for the various parts of the building. It must be the necessary condition of stability and strength. Remove it and the whole building falls. It is consequently the office of St. Peter to support the Church, and to guard it in all its strength and indestructible unity. How could he fulfil this office without the power of commanding, forbidding, and judging, which is properly called jurisdiction? It is only by this power of jurisdiction that nations and commonwealths are held together. A primacy of honour and the shadowy right of giving advice and admonition, which is called direction, could never secure to any society of men unity or strength. The words — and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it — proclaim and establish the authority of which we speak. “What is the it?” (writes Origen). “Is it the rock upon which Christ builds the Church or the Church? The expression indeed is ambiguous, as if the rock and the Church were one and the same. I indeed think that this is so, and that neither against the rock upon which Christ builds His Church nor against the Church shall the gates of Hell prevail” (Origenes, Comment. in Matt., tom. xii., n. ii). The meaning of this divine utterance is, that, notwithstanding the wiles and intrigues which they bring to bear against the Church, it can never be that the church committed to the care of Peter shall succumb or in any wise fail. “For the Church, as the edifice of Christ who has wisely built ‘His house upon a rock,’ cannot be conquered by the gates of Hell, which may prevail over any man who shall be off the rock and outside the Church, but shall be powerless against it” (Ibid.). Therefore God confided His Church to Peter so that he might safely guard it with his unconquerable power. He invested him, therefore, with the needful authority; since the right to rule is absolutely required by him who has to guard human society really and effectively. This, furthermore, Christ gave: “To thee will I give the keys of the kingdom of Heaven.” And He is clearly still speaking of the Church, which a short time before He had called His own, and which He declared He wished to build on Peter as a foundation. The Church is typified not only as an edifice but as a Kingdom, and everyone knows that the keys constitute the usual sign of governing authority. Wherefore when Christ promised to give to Peter the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, he promised to give him power and authority over the Church. “The Son committed to Peter the office of spreading the knowledge of His Father and Himself over the whole world. He who increased the Church in all the earth, and proclaimed it to be stronger than the heavens, gave to a mortal man all power in Heaven when He handed him the Keys” (S. Johannes Chrysostomus [St. John Chrysostom], Hom. liv., in Matt. v., 2). In this same sense He says: “Whatsoever thou shall bind upon earth it shall be bound also in Heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth it shall be loosed also in Heaven.” This metaphorical expression of binding and loosing indicates the power of making laws, of judging and of punishing; and the power is said to be of such amplitude and force that God will ratify whatever is decreed by it. Thus it is supreme and absolutely independent, so that, having no other power on earth as its superior, it embraces the whole Church and all things committed to the Church.

12. “The promise is carried out when Christ the Lord after His Resurrection, having thrice asked Peter whether he loved Him more than the rest, lays on him the injunction: “Feed my lambs — feed my sheep.” That is He confides to him, without exception, all those who were to belong to His fold. “The Lord does not hesitate. He interrogates, not to learn but to teach. When He was about to ascend into Heaven He left us, as it were, a vicegerent of His love….and so because Peter alone of all others professes his love he is preferred to all — that being the most perfect he should govern the more perfect” (S. Ambrosius [St. Ambrose], Exposit. in Evang. secundum Lucam, lib. x., nn. 175-176).

12. “These, then, are the duties of a shepherd: to place himself as leader at the head of his flock, to provide proper food for it, to ward off dangers, to guard against insidious foes, to defend it against violence: in a word to rule and govern it. Since therefore Peter has been placed as shepherd of the Christian flock he has received the power of governing all men for whose salvation Jesus Christ shed His blood. “Why has He shed His blood? To buy the sheep which He handed over to Peter and his successors” (S. Joannes Chrysostomus, De Sacerdotio, lib. ii).

12. “And since all Christians must be closely united in the communion of one immutable faith, Christ the Lord, in virtue of His prayers, obtained for Peter that in the fulfilment of his office he should never fall away from the faith. “But I have asked for thee that thy faith fail not” (Luke xxii., 32), and He furthermore commanded him to impart light and strength to his brethren as often as the need should arise: “Confirm thy brethren” (Ibid.). He willed then that he whom He had designated as the foundation of the Church should be the defense of its faith. “Could not Christ who confided to him the Kingdom by His own authority have strengthened the faith of one whom He designated a rock to show the foundation of the Church?” (S. Ambrosius, De Fide, lib. iv., n. 56). For this reason Jesus Christ willed that Peter should participate in certain names, signs of great things which properly belong to Himself alone: in order that identity of titles should show identity of power. So He who is Himself “the chief corner-stone in whom all the building being framed together, groweth up in a holy temple in the Lord” (Eph. ii., 21), placed Peter as it were a stone to support the Church. “When he heard ‘thou art a rock,’ he was ennobled by the announcement. Although he is a rock, not as Christ is a rock, but as Peter is a rock. For Christ is by His very being an immovable rock; Peter only through this rock. Christ imparts His gifts, and is not exhausted…. He is a priest, and makes priests. He is a rock, and constitutes a rock” (Hom. de Poenitentia, n. 4 in Appendice opp. S. Basilii [attributed to St. Basil]). He who is the King of His Church, “Who hath the key of David, who openeth and no man shutteth, who shutteth and no man openeth (Apoc. iii., 7), having delivered the keys to Peter declared him Prince of the Christian commonwealth. So, too, He, the Great Shepherd, who calls Himself “the Good Shepherd,” constituted Peter the pastor “of His lambs and sheep. Feed My lambs, feed My Sheep.” Wherefore Chrysostom says: “He was preeminent among the Apostles: He was the mouthpiece of the Apostles and the head of the Apostolic College….at the same time showing him that henceforth he ought to have confidence, and as it were blotting out his denial, He commits to him the government of his brethren….He saith to him: ‘If thou lovest Me, be over my brethren.’ Finally He who confirms in “every good work and word” (2 Thess. ii., 16) commands Peter “to confirm his brethren.”

12. “Rightly, therefore, does St. Leo the Great say: “From the whole world Peter alone is chosen to take the lead in calling all nations, to be the head of all the Apostles and of all the Fathers of the Church. So that, although in the people of God there are many priests and many pastors Peter should by right rule all of those over whom Christ Himself is the chief ruler” (Sermo iv., cap. 2). And so St. Gregory the great, writing to the Emperor Maurice Augustus, says: “It is evident to all who know the gospel that the charge of the whole Church was committed to St. Peter, the Apostle and Prince of all the Apostles, by the word of the Lord…. Behold! he hath received the keys of the heavenly kingdom — the power of binding and loosing is conferred upon him: the care of the whole government of the Church is confided to him” (Epist. lib. v., Epist. xx).

The Roman Pontiffs Possess Supreme Power in the Church Jure Divino [by divine law]

“13. It was necessary that a government of this kind, since it belongs to the constitution and formation of the Church, as its principal element — that is as the principle of unity and the foundation of lasting stability — should in no wise come to an end with St. Peter, but should pass to his successors from one to another. “There remains, therefore, the ordinance of truth, and St. Peter, persevering in the strength of the rock which he had received, hath not abandoned the government of the Church which had been confided to him” (S. Leo M. [Pope St. Leo I the Great] sermo iii., cap. 3). For this reason the Pontiffs who succeed Peter in the Roman Episcopate receive the supreme power in the church, jure divino [by divine law]. “We define” (declare the Fathers of the Council of Florence) “that the Holy and Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff hold the primacy of the Church throughout the whole world: and that the same Roman Pontiff is the successor of St. Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, and the true Vicar of Christ, the head of the whole Church, and the father and teacher of all Christians; and that full power was given to him, in Blessed Peter, by our Lord Jesus Christ to feed, to rule, and to govern the universal Church, as is also contained in the acts of oecumenical councils and in the sacred canons” (Conc. Florentinum). Similarly the Fourth Council of Lateran declares: “The Roman Church, as the mother and mistress of all the faithful, by the will of Christ obtains primacy of jurisdiction over all other Churches.” These declarations were preceded by the consent of antiquity which ever acknowledged, without the slightest doubt or hesitation, the Bishops of Rome, and revered them, as the legitimate successors of St. Peter.

13. “Who is unaware of the many and evident testimonies of the holy Fathers which exist to this effect? Most remarkable is that of St. Irenaeus who, referring to the Roman Church, says: “With this Church, on account of its preeminent authority, it is necessary that every Church should be in concord” (Contra Haereses, lib. iii., cap. 3, n. 2); and St. Cyprian also says of the Roman Church, that “it is the root and mother of the Catholic Church, the chair of Peter, and the principal Church whence sacerdotal unity has its source” (Ep. xlviii., ad Cornelium, n. 3. and Ep. liac., ad eundem, n. 14). He calls it the chair of Peter because it is occupied by the successor of Peter: he calls it the principal Church, on account of the primacy conferred on Peter himself and his legitimate successors; and the source of unity, because the Roman Church is the efficient cause of unity in the Christian commonwealth. For this reason [Saint] Jerome addresses Damasus thus: “My words are spoken to the successor of the Fisherman, to the disciple of the Cross….I communicate with none save your Blessedness, that is with the chair of Peter. For this I know is the rock on which the Church is built” (Ep. xv., ad Damasum, n. 2). Union with the Roman See of Peter is to him always the public criterion of a Catholic. “I acknowledge everyone who is united with the See of Peter” (Ep. xvi., ad Damasum, n. 2). And for a like reason St. Augustine publicly attests that, “the primacy of the Apostolic chair always existed in the Roman Church” (Ep. xliii., n. 7); and he denies that anyone who dissents from the Roman faith can be a Catholic. “You are not to be looked upon as holding the true Catholic faith if you do not teach that the faith of Rome is to be held” (Sermo cxx., n. 13). So, too, St. Cyprian: “To be in communion with Cornelius [the Pope at the time] is to be in communion with the Catholic Church” (Ep. lv., n. 1). In the same way [Saint] Maximus the Abbot teaches that obedience to the Roman Pontiff is the proof of the true faith and of legitimate communion. ‘Therefore if a man does not want to be, or to be called, a heretic, let him not strive to please this or that man…but let him hasten before all things to be in communion with the Roman See. If he be in communion with it, he should be acknowledged by all and everywhere as faithful and orthodox. He speaks in vain who tries to persuade me of the orthodoxy of those who, like himself, refuse obedience to his Holiness the Pope of the most holy Church of Rome: that is to the Apostolic See.’ The reason and motive of this he explains to be that “the Apostolic See has received and hath government, authority, and power of binding and loosing from the Incarnate Word Himself; and, according to all holy synods, sacred canons and decrees, in all things and through all things, in respect of all the holy churches of God throughout the whole world, since the Word in Heaven who rules the Heavenly powers binds and loosens there” (Defloratio ex Epistola ad Petrum illustrem).

13. “Wherefore what was acknowledged and observed as Christian faith, not by one nation only nor in one age, but by the East and by the West, and through all ages, this Philip, the priest, the Pontifical legate at the Council of Ephesus, no voice being raised in dissent, recalls: “No one can doubt, yea, it is known unto all ages, that St. Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, the pillar of the faith and the ground of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the Kingdom from Our Lord Jesus Christ, that is: the power of forgiving and retaining sins was given to him who, up to the present time, lives and exercises judgment in the persons of his successors” (Actio iii.). The pronouncement of the Council of Chalcedon on the same matter is present to the minds of all: “Peter has spoken through Leo” (Actio ii.), to which the voice of the Third Council of Constantinople responds as an echo: “The chief Prince of the Apostles was fighting on our side: for we have had as our ally his follower and the successor to his see: and the paper and the ink were seen, and Peter spoke through Agatho” (Actio xviii.).

13. “In the formula of Catholic faith drawn up and proposed by [Pope Saint] Hormisdas, which was subscribed at the beginning of the sixth century in the great Eighth Council by the Emperor Justinian, by Epiphanius, John and Menna, the Patriarchs, this same is declared with great weight and solemnity. “For the pronouncement of Our Lord Jesus Christ saying: ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church,’ etc., cannot be passed over. What is said is proved by the result, because Catholic faith has always been preserved without stain in the Apostolic See” (Post Epistolam, xxvi., ad omnes Episc. Hispan., n. 4). We have no wish to quote every available declaration; but it is well to recall the formula of faith which [Byzantine emperor] Michael Paleologus professed in the Second Council of Lyons: “The same holy Roman Church possesses the sovereign and plenary primacy and authority over the whole Catholic Church, which, truly and humbly, it acknowledges to have received together with the plenitude of power from the Lord Himself, in the person of St. Peter, the Prince or Head of the Apostles, of whom the Roman Pontiff is the successor. And as it is bound to defend the truth of faith beyond all others, so also if any question should arise concerning the faith it must be determined by its judgment” (Actio iv.).

Bishops Belong to the Essential Constitution of the Church

“14. But if the authority of Peter and his successors is plenary and supreme, it is not to be regarded as the sole authority. For He who made Peter the foundation of the Church also “chose, twelve, whom He called apostles” (Luke vi., 13); and just as it is necessary that the authority of Peter should be perpetuated in the Roman Pontiff, so, by the fact that the bishops succeed the Apostles, they inherit their ordinary power, and thus the episcopal order necessarily belongs to the essential constitution of the Church. Although they do not receive plenary, or universal, or supreme authority, they are not to be looked as vicars of the Roman Pontiffs; because they exercise a power really their own, and are most truly called the ordinary pastors of the peoples over whom they rule.

14. “But since the successor of Peter is one, and those of the Apostles are many, it is necessary to examine into the relations which exist between him and them according to the divine constitution of the Church. Above all things the need of union between the bishops and the successors of Peter is clear and undeniable. This bond once broken, Christians would be separated and scattered, and would in no wise form one body and one flock. “The safety of the Church depends on the dignity of the chief priest, to whom if an extraordinary and supreme power is not given, there are as many schisms to be expected in the Church as there are priests” (S. Hieronymus [Saint Jerome], Dialog, contra Luciferianos, n. 9). It is necessary, therefore, to bear this in mind, viz., that nothing was conferred on the apostles apart from Peter, but that several things were conferred upon Peter apart from the Apostles. St. John Chrysostom in explaining the words of Christ asks: “Why, passing over the others, does He speak to Peter about these things?” And he replies unhesitatingly and at once, “Because he was pre-eminent among the Apostles, the mouthpiece of the Disciples, and the head of the college” (Hom. lxxxviii. in Joan., n. I). He alone was designated as the foundation of the Church. To him He gave the power of binding and loosing; to him alone was given the power of feeding. On the other hand, whatever authority and office the Apostles received, they received in conjunction with Peter. “If the divine benignity willed anything to be in common between him and the other princes, whatever He did not deny to the others He gave only through him. So that whereas Peter alone received many things, He conferred nothing on any of the rest without Peter participating in it” (S. Leo M. [Pope Saint Leo the great] sermo iv., cap. 2).

Bishops Separated from Peter and His Successors, Lose All Jurisdiction

“15. From this it must be clearly understood that Bishops are deprived of the right and power of ruling, if they deliberately secede from Peter and his successors; because, by this secession, they are separated from the foundation on which the whole edifice must rest. They are therefore outside the edifice itself; and for this very reason they are separated from the fold, whose leader is the Chief Pastor; they are exiled from the Kingdom, the keys of which were given by Christ to Peter alone.

15. “These things enable us to see the heavenly ideal, and the divine exemplar, of the constitution of the Christian commonwealth, namely: When the Divine founder decreed that the Church should be one in faith, in government, and in communion, He chose Peter and his successors as the principle and centre, as it were, of this unity. Wherefore St. Cyprian says: “The following is a short and easy proof of the faith. The Lord saith to Peter: ‘I say to thee thou art Peter’; on him alone He buildeth His Church; and although after His Resurrection He gives a similar power to all the Apostles and says: ‘As the Father hath sent me,’ etc., still in order to make the necessary unity clear, by His own authority He laid down the source of that unity as beginning from one” (De Unit. Eccl., n. 4). And [Saint] Optatus of Milevis says: “You cannot deny that you know that in the city of Rome the Episcopal chair was first conferred on Peter. In this Peter, the head of all the Apostles (hence his name Cephas), has sat; in which chair alone unity was to be preserved for all, lest any of the other apostles should claim anything as exclusively his own. So much so, that he who would place another chair against that one chair, would be a schismatic and a sinner” (De Schism. Donat., lib. ii). Hence the teaching of Cyprian, that heresy and schism arise and are begotten from the fact that due obedience is refused to the supreme authority. “Heresies and schisms have no other origin than that obedience is refused to the priest of God, and that men lose sight of the fact that there is one judge in the place of Christ in this world” (Epist. xii. ad Cornelium, n. 5). No one, therefore, unless in communion with Peter can share in his authority, since it is absurd to imagine that he who is outside can command in the Church. Wherefore [Saint] Optatus of Milevis blamed the Donatists for this reason: “Against which ages (of hell) we read that Peter received the saving keys, that is to say, our prince, to whom it was said by Christ: ‘To thee will I give the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the gates of Hell shall not conquer them.’ Whence is it therefore that you strive to obtain for yourselves the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven — you who fight against the chair of Peter?” (Lib. ii., n. 4-5).

15. “But the Episcopal order is rightly judged to be in communion with Peter, as Christ commanded, if it be subject to and obeys Peter; otherwise it necessarily becomes a lawless and disorderly crowd. It is not sufficient for the due preservation of the unity of the faith that the head should merely have been charged with the office of superintendent, or should have been invested solely with a power of direction. But it is absolutely necessary that he should have received real and sovereign authority which the whole community is bound to obey. What had the Son of God in view when he promised the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven to Peter alone? Biblical usage and the unanimous teaching of the Fathers clearly show that supreme authority is designated in the passage by the word keys. Nor is it lawful to interpret in a different sense what was given to Peter alone, and what was given to the other Apostles conjointly with him. If the power of binding, loosening, and feeding confers upon each and every one of the Bishops the successors of the Apostles a real authority to rule the people committed to him, certainly the same power must have the same effect in his case to whom the duty of feeding the lambs and sheep has been assigned by God. “Christ constituted [Peter] not only pastor, but pastor of pastors; Peter therefore feeds the lambs and feeds the sheep, feeds the children and feeds the mothers, governs the subjects and rules the prelates, because the lambs and the sheep form the whole of the Church” (S. Brunonis Episcopi Signiensis [Saint Bruno, Bishop of Segni] Comment. in Joan., part iii., cap. 21, n. 55). Hence those remarkable expressions of the ancients concerning St. Peter, which most clearly set forth the fact that he was placed in the highest degree of dignity and authority. They frequently call him “the Prince of the College of the Disciples; the Prince of the holy Apostles; the leader of that choir; the mouthpiece of all the Apostles; the head of that family; the ruler of the whole world; the first of the Apostles; the safeguard of the Church.” In this sense St. Bernard [of Clairvaux] writes as follows to Pope Eugenius [Pope Eugene III]: “Who art thou? The great priest — the high priest. Thou art the Prince of Bishops and the heir of the Apostles…. Thou art he to whom the keys were given. There are, it is true, other gatekeepers of heaven and to pastors of flocks, but thou are so much the more glorious as thou hast inherited a different and more glorious name than all the rest. They have flocks consigned to them, one to each; to thee all the flocks are confided as one flock to one shepherd, and not alone the sheep, but the shepherds. You ask how I prove this? From the words of the Lord. To which — I do not say — of the Bishops, but even of the Apostles have all the sheep been so absolutely and unreservedly committed? If thou lovest me, Peter, feed my sheep. Which sheep? Of this or that country, or kingdom? My sheep, He says: to whom therefore is it not evident that he does not designate some, but all? We can make no exception where no distinction is made” (De Consideratione, lib. ii., cap. 8).

15. “But it is opposed to the truth, and in evident contradiction with the divine constitution of the Church, to hold that while each Bishop is individually bound to obey the authority of the Roman Pontiffs, taken collectively the Bishops are not so bound. For it is the nature and object of a foundation to support the unity of the whole edifice and to give stability to it, rather than to each component part; and in the present case this is much more applicable, since Christ the Lord wished that by the strength and solidity of the foundation the gates of hell should be prevented from prevailing against the Church. All are agreed that the divine promise must be understood of the Church as a whole, and not of any certain portions of it. These can indeed be overcome by the assaults of the powers of hell, as in point of fact has befallen some of them. Moreover, he who is set over the whole flock must have authority, not only over the sheep dispersed throughout the Church, but also when they are assembled together. Do the sheep when they are all assembled together rule and guide the shepherd? Do the successors of the Apostles assembled together constitute the foundation on which the successor of St. Peter rests in order to derive therefrom strength and stability? Surely jurisdiction and authority belong to him in whose power have been placed the keys of the Kingdom taken collectively. And as the Bishops, each in his own district, command with real power not only individuals but the whole community, so the Roman pontiffs, whose jurisdiction extends to the whole Christian commonwealth, must have all its parts, even taken collectively, subject and obedient to their authority. Christ the Lord, as we have quite sufficiently shown, made Peter and his successors His vicars, to exercise forever in the Church the power which He exercised during His mortal life. Can the Apostolic College be said to have been above its master in authority?

15. “This power over the Episcopal College to which we refer, and which is clearly set forth in Holy Writ, has ever been acknowledged and attested by the Church, as is clear from the teaching of General Councils. ‘We read that the Roman Pontiff has pronounced judgments on the prelates of all the churches; we do not read that anybody has pronounced sentence on him’ (Hadrianus ii., in Allocutione iii., ad Synodum Romanum an. 869, Cf. Actionem vii., Conc. Constantinopolitani iv) [Pope Adrian II, in Allocutions 3, to the Synod of Rome, year 869; compare Acts 7, Fourth Council of Constantinople]. The reason for which is stated thus: ‘there is no authority greater than that of the Apostolic See’ (Nicholaus in Epist. lxxxvi. ad Michael. Imperat.) [Pope Saint Nicholas I in Letters 86 to emperor Michael] wherefore [Pope Saint] Gelasius on the decrees of Councils says: ‘That which the First See has not approved of cannot stand; but what it has thought well to decree has been received by the whole Church’ (Epist. xxvi., ad Episcopos Dardaniae, n. 5) [Letters 26, to the Bishops of Dardania]. It has ever been unquestionably the office of the Roman Pontiffs to ratify or to reject the decrees of Councils. [Pope Saint] Leo the great [I] rescinded the acts of the Conciliabulum of Ephesus [the so-called robber council of Ephesus in 449; not the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431]. [Pope Saint] Damasus [I] rejected those of Rimini [Council of Ariminum], and [Pope] Adrian I, those of Constantinople [Council of Constantinople (692), also called Trullo or Quinisext Council; Council of Constantinople (754), also called the Council of Hieria]. The 28th Canon of the Council of Chalcedon, by the very fact that it lacks the assent and approval of the Apostolic See, is admitted by all to be worthless. Rightly, therefore, has Leo X laid down in the 5th council of Lateran ‘that the Roman Pontiff alone, as having authority over all Councils, has full jurisdiction and power to summon, to transfer, to dissolve Councils, as is clear, not only from the testimony of Holy Writ, from the teaching of the Fathers and of the Roman Pontiffs, and from the decrees of the sacred canons, but from the teaching of the very Councils themselves.’ Indeed, Holy Writ attests that the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven were given to Peter alone, and that the power of binding and loosening was granted to the Apostles and to Peter; but there is nothing to show that the Apostles received supreme power without Peter, and against Peter. Such power they certainly did not receive from Jesus Christ. Wherefore, in the decree of the Vatican Council as to the nature and authority of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff, no newly conceived opinion is set forth, but the venerable and constant belief of every age (Sess. iv., cap. 3) [Pastor Aeternus, chapter 3].

15. “Nor does it beget any confusion in the administration that Christians are bound to obey a twofold authority. We are prohibited in the first place by Divine Wisdom from entertaining any such thought, since this form of government was constituted by the counsel of God Himself. In the second place we must note that the due order of things and their mutual relations are disturbed if there be a twofold magistracy of the same rank set over a people, neither of which is amenable to the other. But the authority of the Roman Pontiff is supreme, universal, independent; that of the bishops limited, and dependent. ‘It is not congruous that two superiors with equal authority should be placed over the same flock; but that two, one of whom is higher than the other, should be placed over the same people is not incongruous. Thus the parish priest, the bishop, and the Pope, are placed immediately over the same people’ (Saint Thomas in iv Sent, dist. xvii., a. 4, ad q. 4, ad 3). So the Roman Pontiffs, mindful of their duty, wish above all things, that the divine constitution of the Church should be preserved. Therefore, as they defend with all necessary care and vigilance their own authority, so they have always laboured, and will continue to labour, that the authority of the bishops may be upheld. Yea, they look up whatever honour or obedience is given to the bishops as paid to themselves. ‘My honour is the honour of the Universal Church. My honour is the strength and stability of my brethren. Then am I honoured when due honour is given to everyone’ (S. Gregorius M. Epistolarum, lib viii., ep. xxx., ad Eulogium) [Saint Gregory the great, Epistles, book 8, epistle 30, to the Patriarch Eulogius of Alexandria].

Appeal to Sheep Not of the Fold

“16. In what has been said we have faithfully described the exemplar and form of the Church as divinely constituted. We have treated at length of its unity: we have explained sufficiently its nature, and pointed out the way in which the Divine Founder of the Church willed that it should be preserved. There is no reason to doubt that all those, who by Divine Grace and mercy, have had the happiness to have been born, as it were, in the bosom of the Catholic Church, and to have lived in it, will listen to Our Apostolic Voice: ‘My sheep hear my voice’ (John x., 27), and that they will derive from Our words fuller instruction and a more perfect disposition to keep united with their respective pastors, and through them with the Supreme Pastor, so that they may remain more securely within the one fold, and may derive therefrom a greater abundance of salutary fruit. But We, who, notwithstanding our unfitness for this great dignity and office, govern by virtue of the authority conferred on us by Jesus Christ, as we ‘look on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith’ (Heb. xii., 2) feel Our heart fired by His charity. What Christ has said of Himself We may truly repeat of Ourselves: ‘Other sheep I have that are not of this fold: them also I must bring and they shall hear my voice’ (John x., 16). Let all those, therefore, who detest the widespread irreligion of our times, and acknowledge and confess Jesus Christ to be the Son of God and the Saviour of the human race, but who have wandered away from the Spouse, listen to Our voice. Let them not refuse to obey Our paternal charity. Those who acknowledge Christ must acknowledge Him wholly and entirely. [Saint Augustine:] ‘The Head and the body are Christ wholly and entirely. The Head is the only-begotten son of God, the body is His Church; the bridegroom and the bride, two in one flesh. All who dissent from the Scriptures concerning Christ, although they may be found in all places in which the Church is found, are not in the Church; and again all those who agree with the Scriptures concerning the Head, and do not communicate in the unity of the Church, are not in the Church’ (S. Augustinus, Contra Donatistas Epistola, sive De Unit. Eccl., cap. iv., n. 7).”138

Pope Leo XIII, 1885, Epistola Tua, Letter to the Archbishop of Paris:

“By certain indications it is not difficult to conclude that among Catholics – doubtless as a result of current evils – there are some who, far from satisfied with the condition of “subject” which is theirs in the Church, think themselves able to take some part in her government, or at least, think they are allowed to examine and judge after their own fashion the acts of authority. A misplaced opinion, certainly. If it were to prevail, it would do very grave harm to the Church of God, in which, by the manifest will of her Divine Founder, there are to be distinguished in the most absolute fashion two parties: the teaching and the taught, the Shepherd and the flock, among whom there is one who is the head and the Supreme Shepherd of all.”

“To the shepherds alone was given all power to teach, to judge, to direct; on the faithful was imposed the duty of following their teaching, of submitting with docility to their judgment, and of allowing themselves to be governed, corrected, and guided by them in the way of salvation. Thus, it is an absolute necessity for the simple faithful to submit in mind and heart to their own pastors, and for the latter to submit with them to the Head and Supreme Pastor. In this subordination and dependence lie the order and life of the Church; in it is to be found the indispensable condition of well-being and good government. On the contrary, if it should happen that those who have no right to do so should attribute authority to themselves, if they presume to become judges and teachers, if inferiors in the government of the universal Church attempt or try to exert an influence different from that of the supreme authority, there follows a reversal of the true order, many minds are thrown into confusion, and souls leave the right path.”
“Similarly, it is to give proof of a submission which is far from sincere to set up some kind of opposition between one Pontiff and another. Those who, faced with two differing directives, reject the present one to hold to the past, are not giving proof of obedience to the authority which has the right and duty to guide them; and in some ways they resemble those who, on receiving a condemnation, would wish to appeal to a future council, or to a Pope who is better informed.”

“On this point what must be remembered is that in the government of the Church, except for the essential duties imposed on all Pontiffs by their apostolic office, each of them can adopt the attitude which he judges best according to times and circumstances. Of this he alone is the judge. It is true that for this he has not only special lights, but still more the knowledge of the needs and conditions of the whole of Christendom, for which, it is fitting, his apostolic care must provide. He has the charge of the universal welfare of the Church, to which is subordinate any particular need, and all others who are subject to this order must second the action of the supreme director and serve the end which he has in view. Since the Church is one and her head is one, so, too, her government is one, and all must conform to this.”

“When these principles are forgotten there is noticed among Catholics a diminution of respect, of veneration, and of confidence in the one given them for a guide; then there is a loosening of that bond of love and submission which ought to bind all the faithful to their pastors, the faithful and the pastors to the Supreme Pastor, the bond in which is principally to be found security and common salvation.”

“In the same way, by forgetting or neglecting these principles, the door is opened wide to divisions and dissensions among Catholics, to the grave detriment of union which is the distinctive mark of the faithful of Christ, and which, in every age, but particularly today by reason of the combined forces of the enemy, should be of supreme and universal interest, in favor of which every feeling of personal preference or individual advantage ought to be laid aside.”

“That obligation, if it is generally incumbent on all, is, you may indeed say, especially pressing upon journalists. If they have not been imbued with the docile and submissive spirit so necessary to each Catholic, they would assist in spreading more widely those deplorable matters and in making them more burdensome. The task pertaining to them in all the things that concern religion and that are closely connected to the action of the Church in human society is this: to be subject completely in mind and will, just as all the other faithful are, to their own bishops and to the Roman Pontiff; to follow and make known their teachings; to be fully and willingly subservient to their influence; and to reverence their precepts and assure that they are respected. He who would act otherwise in such a way that he would serve the aims and interests of those whose spirit and intentions We have reproved in this letter would fail the noble mission he has undertaken. So doing, in vain would he boast of attending to the good of the Church and helping her cause, no less than someone who would strive to weaken or diminish Catholic truth, or indeed someone who would show himself to be her overly fearful friend.” 310

Pope Leo XIII, 1885, Est Sane Molestum, Letter to the Archbishop of Tours:

“It is certainly sad and painful to treat with severity those whom We cherish as children, but to act in this way, whatever it may cost, is sometimes a duty for those who have to labor for the salvation of others and keep them in the way of holiness. A greater severity becomes necessary when there is reason to believe that the evil only increases with the passage of time and is working harm to souls. These are the motives, Venerable Brother, which have brought you to use your powers to censure a state which is surely reprehensible, both because it is harming the sacred authority of bishops, and because it attacks not merely one, but a great number of bishops, describing their acts and their government in acrimonious terms, summoning them, so to say, before a court of law, as if they had failed in their most important and sacred duty.”

“No, it cannot be permitted that laymen who profess to be Catholic should go so far as openly to arrogate to themselves in the columns of a newspaper, the right to denounce, and to find fault, with the greatest license and according to their own good pleasure, with every sort of person, not excepting bishops, and think that with the single exception of matters of faith they are allowed to entertain any opinion which may please them and exercise the right to judge everyone after their own fashion.”

“In the present case, Venerable Brother, there is nothing which could cause you to doubt Our assent and Our approbation. It is Our first duty to take care, uniting Our efforts to yours, that the divine authority of the bishops remain sacred and inviolable. It belongs to Us also to command and to effect that everywhere this authority may remain strong and respected, and that in all things it may receive from Catholics the submission and reverence which are its just due. In fact, the divine edifice which is the Church is supported, as on a foundation visible to all men, first by Peter, then by the Apostles and their successors the Bishops. To hear them or to despise them is to hear or to despise Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself [cf. Luke 10:16]. The Bishops form the most sacred part of the Church, that which instructs and governs men by divine right; and so he who resists them and stubbornly refuses to obey their word places himself outside the Church [cf. Matt. 18:18]. But obedience must not limit itself to matters which touch the faith: its sphere is much more vast: it extends to all matters which the episcopal power embraces. For the Christian people, the bishops are not only the teachers of the faith, they are placed at their head to rule and govern them; they are responsible for the salvation of the souls whom God has entrusted to them, and of which they will one day have to render an account. It is for this reason that the Apostle St. Paul addresses this exhortation to Christians: ‘Obey your prelates, and be subject to them. For they watch as having to render an account of your souls’ [Heb. 13:17].”

“In fact, it is always true and manifest to all that there are in the Church two grades, very distinct by their nature: the shepherds and the flock, that is to say, the rulers and the people. It is the function of the first order to teach, to govern, to guide men through life, to impose rules; the second has the duty to be submissive to the first, to obey, to carry out orders, to render honor. And if subordinates usurp the place of superiors, this is, on their part, not only to commit an act of harmful boldness, but even to reverse, as far as in them lies, the order so wisely established by the Providence of the Divine Founder of the Church. If by chance there should be in the ranks of the episcopate a bishop not sufficiently mindful of his dignity and apparently unfaithful to one of his sacred obligations, in spite of this he would lose nothing of his power, and, so long as he remained in communion with the Roman Pontiff, it would certainly not be permitted to anyone to relax in any detail the respect and obedience which are due his authority. On the other hand, to scrutinize the actions of a bishop, to criticize them, does not belong to individual Catholics, but concerns only those who, in the sacred hierarchy, have a superior power; above all, it concerns the Supreme Pontiff, for it is to him that Christ confided the care of feeding not only all the lambs, but even the sheep [cf. John 21:17]. At the same time, when the faithful have grave cause for complaint, they are allowed to put the whole matter before the Roman Pontiff, provided always that, safeguarding prudence and the moderation counseled by concern for the common good, they do not give vent to outcries and recriminations which contribute rather to the rise of divisions and ill-feeling, or certainly increase them.”

“These fundamental principles, which cannot be gainsaid without bringing in their wake confusion and ruin in the government of the Church, We have many, many times been careful to recall and to inculcate….”

“Once again today We recall these documents; once again We inculcate this teaching, with the very great hope that Our admonitions and Our authority will calm the present agitation of minds in your diocese, that all will be strengthened and find rest in faith, in obedience, in the just and legitimate respect towards those invested with a sacred power in the Church.”

“Not only must those be held to fail in their duty who openly and brazenly repudiate the authority of their leaders, but those, too, who give evidence of a hostile and contrary disposition by their clever tergiversations and their oblique and devious dealings. The true and sincere virtue of obedience is not satisfied with words; it consists above all in submission of mind and heart.”

“But since We are here dealing with the lapse of a newspaper, it is absolutely necessary for Us once more to enjoin upon the editors of Catholic journals to respect as sacred laws the teaching and the ordinances mentioned above and never to deviate from them. Moreover, let them be well persuaded and let this be engraved in their minds, that if they dare to violate these prescriptions and abandon themselves to their personal appreciations, whether in prejudging questions which the Holy See has not yet pronounced on, or in wounding the authority of the Bishops by arrogating to themselves an authority which can never be theirs, let them be convinced that it is all in vain for them to pretend to keep the honor of the name of Catholic and to serve the interests of the very holy and very noble cause which they have undertaken to defend and to render glorious.” 311

Pope Saint Pius X

Pope Saint Pius X, 1903-1914, Oath against Modernism (1910): “I … firmly embrace and accept each and every definition that has been set forth and declared by the unerring teaching authority of the Church…. I believe with equally firm faith that the Church, the guardian and teacher of the revealed word, was personally instituted by the real and historical Christ when he lived among us, and that the Church was built upon Peter, the prince of the apostolic hierarchy, and his successors for the duration of time.”139

Pope Saint Pius X, Oath against Modernism: “I firmly hold, then, and shall hold to my dying breath the belief of the Fathers in the charism of truth, which certainly is, was, and always will be in the succession of the episcopacy from the apostles. The purpose of this is, then, not that dogma may be tailored according to what seems better and more suited to the culture of each age; rather, that the absolute and immutable truth preached by the apostles from the beginning may never be believed to be different, may never be understood in any other way.”305

Pius X: “But when We consider the place on which Our feet rest and on which this Pontifical See is rooted, We feel Ourself perfectly safe on the rock of Holy Church. ‘For who does not know,’ wrote Saint Gregory to the Patriarch Eulogius of Alexandria, ‘that Holy Church stands on the solidity of the Prince of the Apostles, who got his name from his firmness, for he was called Peter from the word rock?’ (Registr. vii. 37 [40]). Supernatural force has never, during the flight of ages, been found wanting in the Church, nor have Christ’s promises failed.”140

Pius X: “Kingdoms and empires have passed away; peoples once renowned for their history and civilization have disappeared; time and again the nations, as though overwhelmed by the weight of years, have fallen asunder; while the Church, indefectible in her essence, united by ties indissoluble with her heavenly Spouse, is here today radiant with eternal youth, strong with the same primitive vigor with which she came from the Heart of Christ dead upon the Cross. Men powerful in the world have risen up against her. They have disappeared, and she remains. Philosophical systems without number, of every form and every kind, rose up against her, arrogantly vaunting themselves her masters, as though they had at last destroyed the doctrine of the Church, refuted the dogmas of her faith, proved the absurdity of her teachings. But those systems, one after another, have passed into books of history, forgotten, bankrupt; while from the Rock of Peter the light of truth shines forth as brilliantly as on the day when Jesus first kindled it on His appearance in the world, and fed it with His Divine words: ‘Heaven and earth shall pass, but my words shall not pass’ (Mt 24:35).”141

Pius X: “The Pope is the guardian of dogma and morals; he is the depositary of the principles that form honest families, great nations, holy souls; he is the counselor of princes and peoples; it is the head under which no one feels tyrannized, because it represents God himself; he is the father par excellence who in himself brings together everything that can be loving, tender, divine. It seems incredible, and it is also painful, that there are priests to whom this recommendation should be made, but unfortunately we are in our days in this hard unhappy condition of having to say to priests: love the Pope!”142

Pius X: “And how is one to love the Pope? Non verbo neque lingua, sed opere et veritate. [Not in words only, but in works and in truth. (cf. 1 Jn 3:18).] When you love a person, you try to conform to his thoughts in everything, to carry out his wishes, to interpret his desires. And if our Lord Jesus Christ said of himself: Si quis diligit me, sermonem meum servabit [If anyone loves me, he shall keep my word], so to show our love for the Pope, it is necessary to obey him.”143

Pius X: “Therefore, when one loves the Pope, there is no discussion about what he disposes or demands, or how far obedience must go, and in what things one must obey; when one loves the Pope, one does not say that he did not speak clearly enough, as if he were obliged to repeat in the ear of everyone that clearly expressed will many times, not only verbally, but with letters and other public documents…”144

Pius X: “his orders are not questioned, citing the easy pretext of those who do not want to obey, that it is not the Pope who commands, but those who surround him; the field in which he can and must exercise his authority is not limited. The authority of the Pope is not preceded by that of other people, however learned, who disagree with the Pope, who, if they are learned, are not saints, because whoever is holy cannot disagree with the Pope.”145

Pius X: “This is the outlet of a grieving heart, which I do with deep bitterness not for you, dear confreres, but with you, to deplore the conduct of so many priests, who not only allow themselves to discuss and review the Pope’s wishes, but are not ashamed to arrive at an impudent and blatant disobedience, with so much scandal toward the good and with so much ruin of souls.”146

Pius X: “The office divinely committed to Us of feeding the Lord’s flock has especially this duty assigned to it by Christ, namely, to guard with the greatest vigilance the deposit of the faith, delivered to the saints, rejecting the profane novelties of words and oppositions of knowledge falsely so-called. There has never been a time when this watchfulness of the Supreme Pastor was not necessary to the Catholic body….”147

Pius X: “May the reverence and obedience which you solemnly pledged to those whom the Holy Spirit has appointed to rule the Church, increase and gain strength; and especially, may your minds and hearts be linked by ever closer ties of loyalty to this Apostolic See, which justly claims your respectful homage.”148

Pius X: “for, owing to the efforts of the Enemy of the human race, there have never been lacking ‘men speaking perverse things’ (Acts xx. 30), ‘vain talkers and seducers’ (Tit. i. 10), ‘erring and driving into error’ (2 Tim. iii. 13). Still it must be confessed that the number of the enemies of the Cross of Christ has, in these last days, increased exceedingly — they who are striving, by arts, entirely new and full of subtlety, to destroy the vital energy of the Church, and, if they can, to overthrow utterly Christ’s kingdom itself.”149

Pope Saint Pius X: “That We make no delay in this matter is rendered necessary especially by the fact that the partisans of error are to be sought, not only among the Church’s open enemies: they lie hid, a thing to be deeply deplored and feared, in her very bosom and heart, and are the more mischievous, the less conspicuously they appear. We allude, Venerable Brethren, to many who belong to the Catholic laity, nay, and this is far more lamentable, to the ranks of the priesthood itself, who, feigning a love for the Church, lacking the firm protection of philosophy and theology, nay more, thoroughly imbued with the poisonous doctrines taught by the enemies of the Church, and lost to all sense of modesty, vaunt themselves as reformers of the Church….”150

Pius X: “So, too, acting on the principle that science in no way depends upon faith, when they treat of philosophy, history, criticism, feeling no horror at treading in the footsteps of Luther, they are wont to display a certain contempt for Catholic doctrines, or the Holy Fathers, for the Ecumenical Councils, for the ecclesiastical Magisterium; and should they be rebuked for this, they complain that they are being deprived of their liberty.”151

Pius X: “And as this Magisterium springs, [so they claim] in its last analysis, from the individual consciences and possesses its mandate of public utility for their benefit, it follows that the ecclesiastical Magisterium must be subordinate to them, and should therefore take democratic forms.”152

Pius X, Major Catechism (1905): 204. How should each Catholic behave towards the Pope? Each Catholic should recognize the Pope as Father, Shepherd, and universal Teacher and be united with him in mind and heart.304

Pope Benedict XV

Pope Benedict XV, 1914-1922: “1. To Peter the Prince of the Apostles, the divine Founder of the Church allotted the gifts of inerrancy in matters of faith and of union with God. This relationship is similar to that of a ‘Choir Director of the Choir of the Apostles.’ He is the common teacher and rector of all, so that he might feed the flock of Him who established His Church on the authority of Peter himself and his successors. And on this mystical rock the foundation of the entire ecclesiastical structure stands firm as on a hinge. From it rises the unity of Christian charity as well as our Christian faith.”153

Pope Benedict XV: “2. Indeed the unique gift of Peter’s primacy is that he might spread everywhere and preserve the riches of charity and faith, as Ignatius Theophorus, a man of Apostolic times, beautifully declared. For in those noble letters he wrote to the Roman Church on his journey, announcing his arrival in Rome to be martyred for Christ, he gave testimony to the primacy of that Church over all others by calling it ‘presiding officer over the universal community of charity.’ This was to signify not only that the Universal Church was the visible image of divine charity, but also that Blessed Peter, together with his primacy and his love for Christ (affirmed by his triple confession), remains heir of the Roman See. Accordingly the souls of all the faithful should be ignited by the same fire.”154

Pope Benedict XV: “The ancient Fathers, especially those who held the more illustrious chairs of the East, since they accepted these privileges as proper to the pontifical authority, took refuge in the Apostolic See whenever heresy or internal strife troubled them. For it alone promised safety in extreme crises. Basil the Great did so, as did the renowned defender of the Nicene Creed, Athanasius, as well as John Chrysostom. For these inspired Fathers of the orthodox faith appealed from the councils of bishops to the supreme judgement of the Roman Pontiffs according to the prescriptions of the ecclesiastical Canons.”155

Pope Benedict XV: “Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: ‘This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved’ (Athanas. Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim ‘Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,’ only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself.”156

Pope Pius XI

Pope Pius XI, 1922-1939: “without the Shepherd, little sheep would go astray and more easily become the prey of false shepherds…. more than the help of men, We must have confidence in the indefectible assistance promised by God to His Church and in the immense goodness of the Lord toward those who love Him.”157

Pope Pius XI: “Wherefore, let the faithful also be on their guard against the overrated independence of private judgment and that false autonomy of human reason. For it is quite foreign to everyone bearing the name of a Christian to trust his own mental powers with such pride as to agree only with those things which he can examine from their inner nature, and to imagine that the Church, sent by God to teach and guide all nations, is not conversant with present affairs and circumstances; or even that they must obey only in those matters which she has decreed by solemn definition as though her other decisions might be presumed to be false or putting forward insufficient motive for truth and honesty. Quite to the contrary, a characteristic of all true followers of Christ, lettered or unlettered, is to suffer themselves to be guided and led in all things that touch upon faith or morals by the Holy Church of God through its Supreme Pastor the Roman Pontiff, who is himself guided by Jesus Christ Our Lord.”158

Pope Pius XI: “Furthermore, in this one Church of Christ no man can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors. Did not the ancestors of those who are now entangled in the errors of Photius and the reformers, obey the Bishop of Rome, the chief shepherd of souls? Alas their children left the home of their fathers, but it did not fall to the ground and perish forever, for it was supported by God. Let them therefore return to their common Father, who, forgetting the insults previously heaped on the Apostolic See, will receive them in the most loving fashion. For if, as they continually state, they long to be united with Us and ours, why do they not hasten to enter the Church, ‘the Mother and mistress of all Christ’s faithful’? [Lateran IV, c. 5.] Let them hear Lactantius crying out: ‘The Catholic Church is alone in keeping the true worship. This is the fount of truth, this the house of Faith, this the temple of God: if any man enter not here, or if any man go forth from it, he is a stranger to the hope of life and salvation. Let none delude himself with obstinate wrangling. For life and salvation are here concerned, which will be lost and entirely destroyed, unless their interests are carefully and assiduously kept in mind.'[Lactantius, Institutiones Divinae IV, 30. 11-12.]”

“Let, therefore, the separated children draw nigh to the Apostolic See, set up in the City which Peter and Paul, the Princes of the Apostles, consecrated by their blood; to that See, We repeat, which is ‘the root and womb whence the Church of God springs,’ [Saint Cyprian, Ep. 48 ad Cornelium, 3] not with the intention and the hope that ‘the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth’ (1 Tim 3:15) will cast aside the integrity of the faith and tolerate their errors, but, on the contrary, that they themselves submit to its teaching and government. Would that it were Our happy lot to do that which so many of Our predecessors could not, to embrace with fatherly affection those children, whose unhappy separation from Us We now bewail. Would that God our Savior, ‘Who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,’ (1 Tim 2:4) would hear us when We humbly beg that He would deign to recall all who stray to the unity of the Church! In this most important undertaking We ask and wish that others should ask the prayers of Blessed Mary the Virgin, Mother of divine grace, victorious over all heresies and Help of Christians, that She may implore for Us the speedy coming of the much hoped-for day, when all men shall hear the voice of Her divine Son, and shall be ‘careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.’ (Ephesians 4:3)”160

Pope Pius XII

Pope Pius XII, 1943: “Just as at the first moment of the Incarnation the Son of the Eternal Father adorned with the fullness of the Holy Spirit the human nature which was substantially united to Him, that it might be a fitting instrument of the Divinity in the sanguinary work of the Redemption, so at the hour of His precious death He willed that His Church should be enriched with the abundant gifts of the Paraclete in order that in dispensing the divine fruits of the Redemption she might be, for the Incarnate Word, a powerful instrument that would never fail. For both the juridical mission of the Church, and the power to teach, govern and administer the Sacraments, derive their supernatural efficacy and force for the building up of the Body of Christ from the fact that Jesus Christ, hanging on the Cross, opened up to His Church the fountain of those divine gifts, which prevent her from ever teaching false doctrine and enable her to rule them for the salvation of their souls through divinely enlightened pastors and to bestow on them an abundance of heavenly graces.”317

Pius XII: “But we must not think that He rules only in a hidden or extraordinary manner. On the contrary, our Redeemer also governs His Mystical Body in a visible and normal way through His Vicar on earth. You know, Venerable Brethren, that after He had ruled the ‘little flock’ Himself during His mortal pilgrimage, Christ our Lord, when about to leave this world and return to the Father, entrusted to the Chief of the Apostles the visible government of the entire community He had founded. Since He was all wise He could not leave the body of the Church He had founded as a human society without a visible head. Nor against this may one argue that the primacy of jurisdiction established in the Church gives such a Mystical Body two heads. For Peter in view of his primacy is only Christ’s Vicar; so that there is only one chief Head of this Body, namely Christ, who never ceases Himself to guide the Church invisibly, though at the same time He rules it visibly, through him who is His representative on earth. After His glorious Ascension into Heaven this Church rested not on Him alone, but on Peter, too, its visible foundation stone. That Christ and His Vicar constitute one only Head is the solemn teaching of Our predecessor of immortal memory Boniface VIII in the Apostolic Letter Unam Sanctam; and his successors have never ceased to repeat the same.”

Pius XII: “They, therefore, walk in the path of dangerous error who believe that they can accept Christ as the Head of the Church, while not adhering loyally to His Vicar on earth. They have taken away the visible head, broken the visible bonds of unity and left the Mystical Body of the Redeemer so obscured and so maimed, that those who are seeking the haven of eternal salvation can neither see it nor find it.”161

Pius XII: “For in virtue of the juridical mission by which our Divine Redeemer sent His Apostles into the world, as He had been sent by the Father, it is He who through the Church baptizes, teaches, rules, looses, binds, offers, sacrifices.”318

Pope Pius XII, Mediator Dei:

“22. As circumstances and the needs of Christians warrant, public worship is organized, developed and enriched by new rites, ceremonies and regulations….”

“23. Exterior worship, finally, reveals and emphasizes the unity of the mystical Body, feeds new fuel to its holy zeal, fortifies its energy, intensifies its action day by day: ‘for although the ceremonies themselves can claim no perfection or sanctity in their own right, they are, nevertheless, the outward acts of religion, designed to rouse the heart, like signals of a sort, to veneration of the sacred realities, and to raise the mind to meditation on the supernatural. They serve to foster piety, to kindle the flame of charity, to increase our faith and deepen our devotion.’ ”

“24. But the chief element of divine worship must be interior. For we must always live in Christ and give ourselves to Him completely, so that in Him, with Him and through Him the heavenly Father may be duly glorified. The sacred liturgy requires, however, that both of these elements be intimately linked with each another.”

“44. Since, therefore, it is the priest chiefly who performs the sacred liturgy in the name of the Church, its organization, regulation and details cannot but be subject to Church authority. This conclusion, based on the nature of Christian worship itself, is further confirmed by the testimony of history.”

“45. Additional proof of this indefeasible right of the ecclesiastical hierarchy lies in the circumstances that the sacred liturgy is intimately bound up with doctrinal propositions which the Church proposes to be perfectly true and certain, and must as a consequence conform to the decrees respecting Catholic faith issued by the supreme teaching authority of the Church with a view to safeguarding the integrity of the religion revealed by God.”

“46. On this subject We judge it Our duty to rectify an attitude with which you are doubtless familiar, Venerable Brethren. We refer to the error and fallacious reasoning of those who have claimed that the sacred liturgy is a kind of proving ground for the truths to be held of faith, meaning by this that the Church is obliged to declare such a doctrine sound when it is found to have produced fruits of piety and sanctity through the sacred rites of the liturgy, and to reject it otherwise.”

“50. The sacred liturgy does, in fact, include divine as well as human elements. The former, instituted as they have been by God, cannot be changed in any way by men. But the human components admit of various modifications, as the needs of the age, circumstance and the good of souls may require, and as the ecclesiastical hierarchy, under guidance of the Holy Spirit, may have authorized. This will explain the marvelous variety of Eastern and Western rites. Here is the reason for the gradual addition, through successive development, of particular religious customs and practices of piety only faintly discernible in earlier times.”

“57. The Church has further used her right of control over liturgical observance to protect the purity of divine worship against abuse from dangerous and imprudent innovations introduced by private individuals and particular churches.”

“…in the year 1588, Our predecessor Sixtus V of immortal memory established the Sacred Congregation of Rites, charged with the defense of the legitimate rites of the Church and with the prohibition of any spurious innovation. This body fulfills even today the official function of supervision and legislation with regard to all matters touching the sacred liturgy.

“58. It follows from this that the Sovereign Pontiff alone enjoys the right to recognize and establish any practice touching the worship of God, to introduce and approve new rites, as also to modify those he judges to require modification.”

“Private individuals, therefore, even though they be clerics, may not be left to decide for themselves in these holy and venerable matters, involving as they do the religious life of Christian society along with the exercise of the priesthood of Jesus Christ and worship of God; concerned as they are with the honor due to the Blessed Trinity, the Word Incarnate and His august mother and the other saints, and with the salvation of souls as well. For the same reason no private person has any authority to regulate external practices of this kind, which are intimately bound up with Church discipline and with the order, unity and concord of the Mystical Body and frequently even with the integrity of Catholic faith itself.”

“59. The Church is without question a living organism, and as an organism, in respect of the sacred liturgy also, she grows, matures, develops, adapts and accommodates herself to temporal needs and circumstances, provided only that the integrity of her doctrine be safeguarded. This notwithstanding, the temerity and daring of those who introduce novel liturgical practices, or call for the revival of obsolete rites out of harmony with prevailing laws and rubrics, deserve severe reproof.”

“60. The use of the Latin language, customary in a considerable portion of the Church, is a manifest and beautiful sign of unity, as well as an effective antidote for any corruption of doctrinal truth. In spite of this, the use of the mother tongue in connection with several of the rites may be of much advantage to the people. But the Apostolic See alone is empowered to grant this permission. It is forbidden, therefore, to take any action whatever of this nature without having requested and obtained such consent, since the sacred liturgy, as We have said, is entirely subject to the discretion and approval of the Holy See.”

“61. The same reasoning holds in the case of some persons who are bent on the restoration of all the ancient rites and ceremonies indiscriminately. The liturgy of the early ages is most certainly worthy of all veneration. But ancient usage must not be esteemed more suitable and proper, either in its own right or in its significance for later times and new situations, on the simple ground that it carries the savor and aroma of antiquity. The more recent liturgical rites likewise deserve reverence and respect. They, too, owe their inspiration to the Holy Spirit, who assists the Church in every age even to the consummation of the world. They are equally the resources used by the majestic Spouse of Jesus Christ to promote and procure the sanctity of man.”

“62. Assuredly it is a wise and most laudable thing to return in spirit and affection to the sources of the sacred liturgy. For research in this field of study, by tracing it back to its origins, contributes valuable assistance towards a more thorough and careful investigation of the significance of feast-days, and of the meaning of the texts and sacred ceremonies employed on their occasion. But it is neither wise nor laudable to reduce everything to antiquity by every possible device.”

“63. Clearly no sincere Catholic can refuse to accept the formulation of Christian doctrine more recently elaborated and proclaimed as dogmas by the Church, under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit with abundant fruit for souls, because it pleases him to hark back to the old formulas. No more can any Catholic in his right senses repudiate existing legislation of the Church to revert to prescriptions based on the earliest sources of canon law. Just as obviously unwise and mistaken is the zeal of one who in matters liturgical would go back to the rites and usage of antiquity, discarding the new patterns introduced by disposition of divine Providence to meet the changes of circumstances and situation.”

“64. This way of acting bids fair to revive the exaggerated and senseless antiquarianism to which the illegal Council of Pistoia gave rise. It likewise attempts to reinstate a series of errors which were responsible for the calling of that meeting as well as for those resulting from it, with grievous harm to souls, and which the Church, the ever watchful guardian of the “deposit of faith” committed to her charge by her divine Founder, had every right and reason to condemn. For perverse designs and ventures of this sort tend to paralyze and weaken that process of sanctification by which the sacred liturgy directs the sons of adoption to their Heavenly Father of their souls’ salvation.”

“65. In every measure taken, then, let proper contact with the ecclesiastical hierarchy be maintained. Let no one arrogate to himself the right to make regulations and impose them on others at will. Only the Sovereign Pontiff, as the successor of Saint Peter, charged by the divine Redeemer with the feeding of His entire flock, and with him, in obedience to the Apostolic See, the bishops “whom the Holy Ghost has placed . . . to rule the Church of God,” have the right and the duty to govern the Christian people. Consequently, Venerable Brethren, whenever you assert your authority – even on occasion with wholesome severity – you are not merely acquitting yourselves of your duty; you are defending the very will of the Founder of the Church.”

“66. The mystery of the most Holy Eucharist which Christ, the High Priest instituted, and which He commands to be continually renewed in the Church by His ministers, is the culmination and center, as it were, of the Christian religion.”

“82. The fact, however, that the faithful participate in the eucharistic sacrifice does not mean that they also are endowed with priestly power. It is very necessary that you make this quite clear to your flocks.”

“85. All this has the certitude of faith.”

“109. Wherefore We exhort you, Venerable Brethren, that each in his diocese or ecclesiastical jurisdiction supervise and regulate the manner and method in which the people take part in the liturgy, according to the rubrics of the missal and in keeping with the injunctions which the Sacred Congregation of Rites and the Code of canon law have published. Let everything be done with due order and dignity, and let no one, not even a priest, make use of the sacred edifices according to his whim to try out experiments. It is also Our wish that in each diocese an advisory committee to promote the liturgical apostolate should be established, similar to that which cares for sacred music and art, so that with your watchful guidance everything may be carefully carried out in accordance with the prescriptions of the Apostolic See.”

“193. It cannot be said that modem music and singing should be entirely excluded from Catholic worship. For, if they are not profane nor unbecoming to the sacredness of the place and function, and do not spring from a desire of achieving extraordinary and unusual effects, then our churches must admit them since they can contribute in no small way to the splendor of the sacred ceremonies, can lift the mind to higher things and foster true devotion of soul.”

“195. What We have said about music, applies to the other fine arts, especially to architecture, sculpture and painting. Recent works of art which lend themselves to the materials of modern composition, should not be universally despised and rejected through prejudice. Modern art should be given free scope in the due and reverent service of the church and the sacred rites, provided that they preserve a correct balance between styles tending neither to extreme realism nor to excessive ‘symbolism,’ and that the needs of the Christian community are taken into consideration rather than the particular taste or talent of the individual artist. Thus modern art will be able to join its voice to that wonderful choir of praise to which have contributed, in honor of the Catholic faith, the greatest artists throughout the centuries. Nevertheless, in keeping with the duty of Our office, We cannot help deploring and condemning those works of art, recently introduced by some, which seem to be a distortion and perversion of true art and which at times openly shock Christian taste, modesty and devotion, and shamefully offend the true religious sense. These must be entirely excluded and banished from our churches, like ‘anything else that is not in keeping with the sanctity of the place.’ ”

“203. But in all these matters, it is essential that you watch vigilantly lest the enemy come into the field of the Lord and sow cockle among the wheat; in other words, do not let your flocks be deceived by the subtle and dangerous errors of false mysticism or quietism — as you know We have already condemned these errors;[182] also do not let a certain dangerous “humanism” lead them astray, nor let there be introduced a false doctrine destroying the notion of Catholic faith, nor finally an exaggerated zeal for antiquity in matters liturgical. Watch with like diligence lest the false teaching of those be propagated who wrongly think and teach that the glorified human nature of Christ really and continually dwells in the “just” by His presence and that one and numerically the same grace, as they say, unites Christ with the members of His Mystical Body.”

“207. To those whom an excessive zeal occasionally led to say and do certain things which saddened Us and which We could not approve, we repeat the warning of St. Paul, “But prove all things, hold fast that which is good.” Let Us paternally warn them to imitate in their thoughts and actions the Christian doctrine which is in harmony with the precepts of the immaculate Spouse of Jesus Christ, the mother of saints.

“208. Let Us remind all that they must generously and faithfully obey their holy pastors who possess the right and duty of regulating the whole life, especially the spiritual life, of the Church. “Obey your prelates and be subject to them. For they watch as being to render an account of your souls; that they may do this with joy and not with grief.”

“209. May God, whom we worship, and who is “not the God of dissension but of peace,” graciously grant to us all that during our earthly exile we may with one mind and one heart participate in the sacred liturgy which is, as it were, a preparation and a token of that heavenly liturgy in which we hope one day to sing together with the most glorious Mother of God and our most loving Mother, ‘To Him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb, benediction and honor, and glory and power for ever and ever.’ “162

Pope Saint Paul VI

Pope Saint Paul VI, Solemni Hac Liturgia, 1968: “founded upon the Apostles and handing on from century to century their ever-living Word and their powers as Pastors in the successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him; perpetually assisted by the Holy Spirit, She [the Church] has the charge of guarding, teaching, explaining and spreading the Truth which God revealed in a then-veiled manner by the prophets, and fully by the Lord Jesus. We believe all that is contained in the Word of God written or handed down, and that the Church proposes for belief as divinely revealed, whether by a solemn judgment or by the ordinary and universal magisterium. We believe in the infallibility enjoyed by the successor of Peter when he teaches ex cathedra as pastor and teacher of all the faithful, and which is assured also to the episcopal body when it exercises with him the supreme magisterium. We believe that the Church founded by Jesus Christ and for which He prayed is indefectibly one in faith, worship and the bond of hierarchical communion.”163

Pope Saint Paul VI, Consistory for the creation of twenty new Cardinals, May 24, 1976:

“On the one hand, there are those who, under the pretext of greater fidelity to the Church and the Magisterium, systematically reject the teachings of the Council itself, its application and the resulting reforms, its gradual application by the Apostolic See and the Episcopal Conferences, under our authority, willed by Christ. Discredit is discredited on the authority of the Church in the name of a Tradition, to which respect is attested only materially and verbally; the faithful distance themselves from the bonds of obedience to the See of Peter as well as to their legitimate Bishops; the authority of today is rejected in the name of that of yesterday. And the fact is all the more serious, since the opposition we are talking about is not only encouraged by some priests, but headed by a Bishop, however always venerated by us, Monsignor Marcel Lefebvre.”

“It is so painful to notice it: but how can we not see, in this attitude — whatever the intentions of these people may be — that they place themselves outside of obedience to, and communion with the Successor of Peter and therefore the Church?”

“Since this, unfortunately, is the logical consequence, that is, when it is argued that it is preferable to disobey on the pretext of keeping one’s faith intact, of working in one’s own way for the preservation of the Catholic Church, while denying it effective obedience. And it is said openly! Indeed, they do not hesitate to assert that the Second Vatican Council lacks binding force; that faith would also be in danger because of the post-conciliar reforms and orientations, which one has the duty to disobey in order to preserve certain traditions.”

“What traditions? It is this group of men — but not the Roman Pontiff, not the Episcopal College, not the Ecumenical Council — who wish to become those who establish a binding decision on which of the innumerable traditions are to be held as norms of faith! As you see, our venerable Brothers, this attitude speaks as if it were judge over that Divine will which placed Peter and his successors at the Head of the Church, so as to confirm his brethren in the faith and so pasture the universal flock (Lk 22:32; Jn 21:15 ff.) and thus establish him as guarantor and custodian of the deposit of the Faith.”

“And this is all the more serious, in particular, when division is introduced, precisely where congregavit nos in unum Christi amor [the love of Christ gathers us as one], in the Liturgy and in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, refusing respect for the norms defined in the liturgical field. It is in the name of Tradition that we ask all our children, all Catholic communities, to celebrate the renewed Liturgy in dignity and fervor. The adoption of the new “Ordo Missae” is certainly not left to the discretion of the priests or the faithful: and the Instruction of June 14, 1971 provided for the celebration of Mass in the old form, with the authorization of the ordinary, only for elderly or infirm priests, who offer the Divine Sacrifice sine populo [without the people]. The new Ordo was promulgated to replace the old one, after mature deliberation, following the requests of the Second Vatican Council. Likewise, our holy Predecessor Pius V had made the reformed Missal compulsory under his authority, following the Council of Trent.”

“We demand the same availability, with the same supreme authority that comes from Christ Jesus, to all the other liturgical, disciplinary and pastoral reforms that have matured in recent years in application of the conciliar decrees. Any initiative that aims to hinder them cannot assume the prerogative of rendering a service to the Church: in fact it causes serious damage to it.”

“Several times, directly, through our collaborators and other friends, we have drawn the attention of Monsignor Lefebvre to the gravity of his attitudes, the irregularity of his main present initiatives, the inconsistency and often falsehood of the doctrinal positions on which he bases them both, and the damage that comes from them to the whole Church.”164

Pope Saint Paul VI, Letter to schismatic bishop Marcel Lefebvre, 1976:

“In practice you [Lefebvre] put yourself forward as the defender and spokesman of the faithful and of priests ‘torn apart by what is happening in the church,’ thus giving the sad impression that the Catholic faith and the essential values of tradition are not sufficiently respected and lived in a portion of the people of God, at least in certain countries. But in your interpretations of the facts and in the particular role that you assign yourself, as well as in the way in which you accomplish this role, there is something that misleads the people of God and deceives souls of good will who are justly desirous of fidelity and of spiritual and apostolic progress.”
“You want to convince the faithful that the proximate cause of the crisis is more than a wrong interpretation of the Council and that it flows from the Council itself. Moreover, you act as if you had a particular role in this regard. But the mission of discerning and remedying the abuses is first of all Ours; it is the mission of all the bishops who work together with Us.”
“Finally, your behavior is contradictory. You want, so you say, to remedy the abuses that disfigure the Church; you regret that authority in the church is not sufficiently respected; you wish to safeguard authentic faith, esteem for the ministerial priesthood and fervor for the Eucharist in its sacrificial and sacramental fullness. Such zeal would, in itself, merit our encouragement, since it is a question of exigencies which, together with evangelization and the unity of Christians, remain at the heart of Our preoccupations and of Our mission.

“But how can you at the same time, in order to fulfill this role, claim that you are obliged to act contrary to the recent Council in opposition to your brethren in the episcopate, to distrust the Holy See itself — which you call the ‘Rome of the neo-modernist and neo-Protestant tendency’ — and to set yourself up in open disobedience to Us? If you truly want to work ‘under Our authority,’ as you affirm in your last private letter, it is immediately necessary to put an end to these ambiguities and contradictions.”
“You would like to see recognized the right to celebrate Mass in various places of worship according to the Tridentine rite.”
“What is indeed at issue is the question — which must truly be called fundamental — of your clearly proclaimed refusal to recognize in its whole, the authority of the Second Vatican Council and that of the pope. This refusal is accompanied by an action that is oriented towards propagating and organizing what must indeed, unfortunately, be called a rebellion. This is the essential issue, and it is truly untenable.”
“Christ has given the supreme authority in his Church to Peter and to the apostolic college, that is, to the Pope and to the college of bishops una cum Capite [one with the Head].

“In regard to the pope, every Catholic admits that the words of Jesus to Peter determine also the charge of Peter’s legitimate successors: ‘… whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven’ (Mt. 16:19); ‘… feed my sheep’ (Jn. 21:17); ‘… confirm your brethren’ (Lk. 22:32). And the First Vatican Council specified in these terms the assent due to the sovereign pontiff: ‘The pastors of every rank and of every rite and the faithful, each separately and all together, are bound by the duty or hierarchical subordination and of true obedience, not only in questions of faith and morals, but also in those that touch upon the discipline and government of the Church throughout the entire world. Thus, by preserving the unity of communion and of profession of faith with the Roman pontiff, the church is a single flock under one pastor. Such is the doctrine of Catholic truth, from which no one can separate himself without danger for his faith and his salvation’ (Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, Ch. 3, DZ 3060).”

“Concerning bishops united with the sovereign pontiff, their power with regard to the universal church is solemnly exercised in the ecumenical councils, according to the words of Jesus to the body of the apostles: ‘… whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven’ (Mt. 18:18). And now in your conduct you refuse to recognize, as must be done, these two ways in which supreme authority is exercised.”
“You say that you are subject to the Church and faithful to tradition by the sole fact that you obey certain norms of the past that were decreed by the predecessor of him to whom God has today conferred the powers given to Peter. That is to say, on this point also, the concept of ‘tradition’ that you invoke is distorted.

“Tradition is not a rigid and dead notion, a fact of a certain static sort which at a given moment of history blocks the life of this active organism which is the Church, that is, the mystical body of Christ. It is up to the pope and to councils to exercise judgment in order to discern in the traditions of the Church that which cannot be renounced without infidelity to the Lord and to the Holy Spirit — the deposit of faith — and that which, on the contrary, can and must be adapted to facilitate the prayer and the mission of the Church throughout a variety of times and places, in order better to translate the divine message into the language of today and better to communicate it, without an unwarranted surrender of principles.

“Hence tradition is inseparable from the living magisterium of the Church, just as it is inseparable from sacred scripture. ‘Sacred tradition, sacred scripture and the magisterium of the church … are so linked and joined together that one of these realities cannot exist without the others, and that all of them together, each in its own way, effectively contribute under the action of the Holy Spirit to the salvation of souls’ (Constitution Dei Verbum, 10).

“With the special assistance of the Holy Spirit, the popes and the ecumenical councils have acted in this common way. And it is precisely this that the Second Vatican Council did. Nothing that was decreed in this Council, or in the reforms that we enacted in order to put the Council into effect, is opposed to what the 2,000 year-old tradition of the Church considers as fundamental and immutable. We are the guarantor of this, not in virtue of Our personal qualities but in virtue of the charge which the Lord has conferred upon Us as legitimate successor of Peter, and in virtue of the special assistance that He has promised to Us as well as to Peter: ‘I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail’ (Lk. 22:32). The universal episcopate is guarantor with us of this.

“Again, you cannot appeal to the distinction between what is dogmatic and what is pastoral to accept certain texts of this Council and to refuse others. Indeed, not everything in the Council requires an assent of the same nature: only what is affirmed by definitive acts as an object of faith or as a truth related to faith requires an assent of faith. But the rest also forms part of the solemn magisterium of the Church to which each member of the faithful owes a confident acceptance and a sincere application.”

“You say moreover that you do not always see how to reconcile certain texts of the Council, or certain dispositions which We have enacted in order to put the Council into practice, with the wholesome tradition of the Church and in particular with the Council of Trent or the affirmations of Our predecessors. These are for example: the responsibility of the college of bishops united with the sovereign pontiff, the new Ordo Missae, ecumenism, religious freedom, the attitude of dialogue, evangelization in the modern world….

“It is not the place, in this letter, to deal with each of these problems. The precise tenor of the documents, with the totality of its nuances and its context, the authorized explanations, the detailed and objective commentaries which have been made, are of such a nature to enable you to overcome these personal difficulties. Absolutely secure counselors, theologians and spiritual directors would be able to help you even more, with God’s enlightenment, and We are ready to facilitate this fraternal assistance for you.

“But how can an interior personal difficulty — a spiritual drama which We respect — permit you to set yourself up publicly as a judge of what has been legitimately adopted, practically with unanimity, and knowingly to lead a portion of the faithful into your refusal? If justifications are useful in order to facilitate intellectual acceptance — and We hope that the troubled or reticent faithful will have the wisdom, honesty and humanity to accept those justifications that are widely placed at their disposal — they are not in themselves necessary for the assent of obedience that is due to the Ecumenical Council and to the decisions of the pope. It is the ecclesial sense that is at issue.

“In effect you and those who are following you are endeavoring to come to a standstill at a given moment in the life of the Church. By the same token you refuse to accept the living Church, which is the Church that has always been: you break with the Church’s legitimate pastors and scorn the legitimate exercise of their charge. And so you claim not even to be affected by the orders of the pope, or by the suspension a divinis, as you lament ‘subversion’ in the Church.

“Is it not in this state of mind that you have ordained priests without dimissorial letters and against Our explicit command, thus creating a group of priests who are in an irregular situation in the Church and who are under grave ecclesiastical penalties? Moreover, you hold that the suspension that you have incurred applies only to the celebration of the sacraments according to the new rite, as if they were something improperly introduced into the Church, which you go so far as to call schismatic, and you think that you evade this sanction when you administer the sacraments according to the formulas of the past and against the established norms (cf. 1 Cor. 14:40).

“From the same erroneous conception springs your abuse of celebrating Mass called that of Saint Pius V. You know full well that this rite had itself been the result of successive changes, and that the Roman Canon remains the first of the Eucharistic prayers authorized today.

“The present reform derived its raison d’être and its guidelines from the Council and from the historical sources of the liturgy. It enables the laity to draw greater nourishment from the word of God. Their more active participation leaves intact the unique role of the priest acting in the person of Christ. We have sanctioned this reform by Our authority, requiring that it be adopted by all Catholics.

“If, in general, We have not judged it good to permit any further delays or exceptions to this adoption, it is with a view to the spiritual good and the unity of the entire ecclesiastical community, because, for Catholics of the Roman Rite, the Ordo Missae is a privileged sign of their unity. It is also because, in your case, the old rite is in fact the expression of a warped ecclesiology, and a ground for dispute with the Council and its reforms under the pretext that in the old rite alone are preserved, without their meaning being obscured, the true sacrifice of the Mass and the ministerial priesthood.

“We cannot accept this erroneous judgment, this unjustified accusation, nor can We tolerate that the Lord’s Eucharist, the sacrament of unity, should be the object of such divisions (cf. 1 Cor. 11:18), and that it should even be used as an instrument and sign of rebellion.

“Of course there is room in the church for a certain pluralism, but in licit matters and in obedience. This is not understood by those who refuse the sum total of the liturgical reform; nor indeed on the other hand by those who imperil the holiness of the real presence of the Lord and of his sacrifice. In the same way there can be no question of a priestly formation which ignores the Council.”

“We cannot therefore take your requests into consideration, because it is a question of acts which have already been committed in rebellion against the one true Church of God. Be assured that this severity is not dictated by a refusal to make a concession on such and such a point of discipline or liturgy, but, given the meaning and the extent of your acts in the present context, to act thus would be on Our part to accept the introduction of a seriously erroneous concept of the church and of tradition. This is why, with the full consciousness of Our duties, We say to you, brother, that you are in error. And with the full ardor of Our fraternal love, as also with all the weight of Our authority as the successor of Peter, We invite you to retract, to correct yourself and to cease from inflicting wounds upon the Church of Christ.”

“3. Specifically, what do We ask of you [of archbishop Marcel Lefebvre]?

“A. — First and foremost, a declaration that will rectify matters for Ourself and also for the people of God who have a right to clarity and who can no longer bear without damage such equivocations.

“This declaration will therefore have to affirm that you sincerely adhere to the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and to all its documents — sensu obvio — which were adopted by the Council fathers and approved and promulgated by Our authority. For such an adherence has always been the rule, in the Church, since the beginning, in the matter of ecumenical councils.

“It must be clear that you equally accept the decisions that We have made since the Council in order to put it into effect, with the help of the departments of the Holy See; among other things, you must explicitly recognize the legitimacy of the reformed liturgy, notably of the Ordo Missae, and our right to require its adoption by the entirety of the Christian people.

“You must also admit the binding character of the rules of canon law now in force which, for the greater part, still correspond with the content of the Code of Canon Law of Benedict XV, without excepting the part which deals with canonical penalties.

“As far as concerns Our person, you will make a point of desisting from and retracting the grave accusations or insinuations which you have publicly leveled against Us, against the orthodoxy of Our faith and Our fidelity to Our charge as the successor of Peter, and against Our immediate collaborators.

“With regard to the bishops, you must recognize their authority in their respective dioceses by abstaining from preaching in those dioceses and administering the sacraments there: the Eucharist, Confirmation, Holy Orders, etc., when these bishops expressly object to your doing so.

“Finally, you must undertake to abstain from all activities (such as conferences, publications, etc.) contrary to this declaration, and formally to reprove all those initiatives which may make use of your name in the face of this declaration.

“It is a question here of the minimum to which every Catholic bishop must subscribe: this adherence can tolerate no compromise. As soon as you show Us that you accept its principle, We will propose the practical manner of presenting this declaration. This is the first condition in order that the suspension a divinis be lifted.”

“From the Vatican, October 11, 1976. PAULUS PP. VI”165

Blessed Pope John Paul I

Blessed Pope John Paul I: “In this sacred celebration inaugurating the ministry of the Supreme Pastor of the Church, which has been placed on our shoulders, we begin by turning our mind in adoration and prayer to the infinite and eternal God, who has raised us to the Chair of blessed Peter by his own design, which human reasoning cannot explain, and by his benign graciousness. The words of Saint Paul the Apostle come spontaneously to our lips: ‘O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!’ (Rom 11:33).”
” ‘You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church’ (Mt 16:18) are the weighty, great and solemn words that Jesus speaks to Simon, son of John, after his profession of faith. This profession of faith was not the product of the Bethsaida fisherman’s human logic or the expression of any special insight of his or the effect of some psychological impulse; it was rather the mysterious and singular result of a real revelation of the Father in heaven. Jesus changes Simon’s name to Peter, thus signifying the conferring of a special mission. He promises to build on him his Church, which will not be overthrown by the forces of evil or death. He grants him the keys of the kingdom of God, thus appointing him the highest official of his Church, and gives him the power to interpret authentically the law of God. In view of these privileges, or rather these superhuman tasks entrusted to Peter, Saint Augustine points out to us: ‘Peter was by nature simply a man, by grace a Christian, by still more abundant grace one of the Apostles and at the same time the first of the Apostles’ (Saint Augustine, In Ioannis Evang. tract., 124, 5: PL 35, 1973).

“With surprised and understandable trepidation, but also with immense trust in the powerful grace of God and the ardent prayer of the Church, we have agreed to become Peter’s Successor in the See of Rome, taking on us the yoke that Christ has wished to place on our fragile shoulders. We seem to hear as addressed to us the words that Saint Ephraem represents Christ as speaking to Peter: ‘Simon, my apostle, I have made you the foundation of the Holy Church. I have already called you Peter because you will support all the edifices. You are the superintendent of those who will build the Church on earth … You are the source of the fountain from which my doctrine is drawn. You are the head of my apostles … I have given you the keys of my kingdom’ (Saint Ephraem, Sermones in hebdomadam sanctam, 4,1: Lamy T.J., S. Ephraem Syri hymni et sermones, 1,412).

“From the moment we were elected throughout the days that followed, we were deeply struck and encouraged by the warm manifestations of affection given by our sons and daughters in Rome and also by those sending us from all over the world the expression of their irrepressible jubilation at the fact that God has again given the Church her visible Head. Our mind re-echoes spontaneously the emotion-filled words that our great saintly Predecessor, Saint Leo the Great, addressed to the faithful of Rome: ‘Blessed Peter does not cease to preside over his See. He is bound to the eternal Priest in an unbroken unity … Recognize therefore that all the demonstrations of affection that you have given me because of fraternal amiability or filial devotion have with greater devotedness and truth been given by you and me to him whose See we rejoice to serve rather than preside over it’ (Saint Leo the Great, Sermo V, 4-5: PL 54, 155-156).”166

Blessed Pope John Paul I: “The third lesson (Mt 28: 16-20) reminds the Bishop of Rome of his duties. The first is to teach, proposing the Lord’s word with fidelity both to God and to the listeners; with humility, but with fearless sincerity. Among my holy predecessors, bishops of Rome, there are two who are also Doctors of the Church: St. Leo, conqueror of Attila, and St. Gregory the Great. In the writings of the first are very high theological thought and a sparkling Latin style that is marvelously designed; I do not think that I could imitate him, not even from afar. The second, in his books, is ‘like a father who instructs his children and sets them apart out of his solicitude for their eternal salvation’ (I. Schuster, Liber Sacramentorum, vol. 1, Turin 1920, p. 46). I would like to try to imitate the second, who dedicates the entire third book of his Regula Pastoralis to the theme of how teaching should be done, that is, how the pastor should instruct. For forty whole chapters Gregory indicates in a concrete way various forms of instruction according to the various circumstances of social conditions, age, health, and moral temperament of the hearers. Poor and rich, cheerful and melancholic, superiors and subjects, learned and ignorant, cheeky and shy, and so forth; all are there in this book, it is like the valley of Jehoshaphat. At the second Vatican Council, there was a seemingly new thing which came to be called ‘pastoral approach’, not indeed that which was taught to the pastors, but that which the pastors did to face up to the needs, the anxieties, the hopes of men. This ‘new’ approach had already been applied many centuries earlier by Gregory, both in preaching and in the government of the Church.
“I should like also that Rome should in fact give a good example of Liturgy celebrated devoutly and without ill-placed ‘creativity’. Certain abuses in liturgical matters have succeeded, through reaction, in favoring attitudes that have led to a taking up of positions that in themselves cannot be upheld and are in contrast with the Gospel. In appealing with affection and with hope to the sense of responsibility of everyone, before God and the Church, I should like to be able to give an assurance that every liturgical irregularity will be diligently avoided.”167

Blessed Pope John Paul I: “Other truths, on the contrary, are hard to accept. God must punish, if I resist. He runs after me, he begs me to repent and I say: ‘No!’ I almost force him to punish me. This is not agreeable. But it is a truth of faith. And there is a last difficulty, the Church. St. Paul asked: ‘Who are you, Lord?’ — ‘I am that Jesus whom you are persecuting’ [Acts 9:4-5]. A light, a flash, crossed his mind. I do not persecute Jesus, I don’t even know him: I persecute the Christians. It is clear that Jesus and the Christians, Jesus and the Church are the same thing: indissoluble, inseparable.

“Read St. Paul: ‘Corpus Christi quod est Ecclesia’ [cf. Col 1:24; 1 Tim 3:15]. Christ and the Church are only one thing. Christ is the Head, we, the Church, are his limbs. It is not possible to have faith and to say, ‘I believe in Jesus, I accept Jesus but I do not accept the Church.’ We must accept the Church, as she is. And what is this Church like? Pope John called her ‘Mater et Magistra’ [Mother and Teacher]. Teacher also. St. Paul said: ‘Let everyone accept us as Christ’s aids and stewards and dispensers of his mysteries.’ [1 Cor 4:1]

“When the poor Pope, when the bishops, the priests, propose the doctrine, they are merely helping Christ. It is not our doctrine, it is Christ’s; we must just guard it and present it. I was present when Pope John opened the Council on 11 October 1962. At a certain point he said: ‘We hope that with the Council the Church will take a leap forward.’ We all hoped so; but a leap forward, on what way? He told us at once: on certain and immutable truths. It never even occurred to Pope John that the truths could go forward, and then, gradually, change. Those are the truths: we must walk along the way of these truths, understanding them more and more, bringing ourselves up-to-date, proposing them in a form suited to the new times. Pope Paul too had the same thought. The first thing I did, as soon as I was made Pope, was to enter the private Chapel of the Pontifical Household. Right at the back Pope Paul had two mosaics made: St. Peter and St. Paul: St. Peter dying, St. Paul dying. But under St. Peter: are the words of Jesus: ‘I will pray for you, Peter, that your faith may never fail.’ [Lk 22:32] Under St. Paul, on whom the sword falls: ‘I have run my race, I have kept the faith.’ You know that in his last address on 29 June, Paul VI said: ‘After fifteen years of pontificate, I can thank the Lord that I have defended the faith, that I have kept the faith’.”168

Pope Saint John Paul II

Pope Saint John Paul II, 1979: “She [the Church] was born on the cross on Good Friday — as the Fathers teach; She revealed this birth of Hers to the world on the day of Pentecost, when the Apostles were ‘clothed with power from on high’ (Lk 24:49); when they were ‘baptized with the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 1:5). ‘Ubi enim Ecclesia, ibi et Spiritus Dei; ubi Spiritus Dei, illic Ecclesia et omnis gratia: Spiritus autem veritas’ (Where the Church is, there is also the Spirit of God; and where the Spirit of God is, there is the Church and all grace: the Spirit is truth.)”169

Pope Saint John Paul II: “This is Christ’s promise, our consoling certainty: the Petrine ministry is not founded on human abilities and strengths, but on the prayer of Christ who implores the Father that Simon’s faith ‘may not fail’ (Lk 22:32).”170

John Paul II: “In foretelling the triple denial which Peter would make out of fear during the passion, Jesus also predicted that he would overcome the crisis of that night: ‘Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail, and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers’ (Lk 22:31-32). With these words Jesus guaranteed Simon a special prayer for the perseverance of his faith, but he also announced the mission entrusted to him of strengthening his brothers in the faith.”

“This is what Innocent III wrote in the Letter Apostolicae Sedis Primatus (November 12, 1199), citing the text of Luke 22:32 and commenting on it as follows: ‘The Lord clearly intimates that Peter’s successors will never at any time deviate from the Catholic faith, but will instead recall the others and strengthen the hesitant’ (DS 775). That medieval Pope felt that Jesus’ statement to Simon Peter was confirmed by the experience of 1,000 years.”171

“These words of the evangelist Luke (22:31-33) are very significant for all who exercise the munus Petrinum in the Church. They continually remind them of the kind of original paradox that Christ himself placed in them, with the certitude that in their ministry, as in Peter’s, a special grace is at work which supports human weakness and allows him to ‘strengthen his brothers.’ ‘I have prayed’ — Jesus’ words to Peter, which re-echo in his ever poor, humble successors — ‘I have prayed that your own faith may not fail, and once you turned back, you must strengthen your brothers’ (Lk 22:32).”172

Pope Saint John Paul II: “The mainspring of this deepening must be a principle of total fidelity to the Sacred Scriptures and to Tradition, authoritatively interpreted in particular by the Second Vatican Council, whose teachings have been reasserted and developed in the ensuing Magisterium.”173

John Paul II: “I feel more than ever in duty bound to point to the Council as the great grace bestowed on the Church in the 20th century: there we find a sure compass by which to take our bearings in the century now beginning….”174

John Paul II: “This is Christ’s promise, our consoling certainty: the Petrine ministry is not founded on human abilities and strengths, but on the prayer of Christ who implores the Father that Simon’s faith ‘may not fail’ (Lk 22:32).”175

John Paul II: “The assistance that Christ promised to Peter also accompanies his successors, who are entrusted with the same task for the Church: ‘I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren’ (Lk 22:32). So Peter becomes the ‘rock’ on which Christ can build his Church in history, by a gift from on high: the gift of faith, solemnly confessed at Caesarea Philippi: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’ (Mt 16:16). But it is also in virtue of his response of singular love that he is chosen to be the foundation of the Church: ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?… Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you’ (cf. Jn 21:15-19). On the rock of this faith and this love, the Lord holds together his mystical Body and assures the permanent unity and mission in the varied events of history.”176

John Paul II: “Moreover, Peter — and like him each one of his successors and head of the Church — has the mission of encouraging the faithful to put all their trust in Christ and in the power of his grace, which he personally experienced. This is what Innocent III writes in the Apostolic Letter Sedis primatus [the First See] (November 12, 1199), quoting the text of Luke 22:32 and commenting on it thus: ‘The Lord clearly signifies that Peter’s successors will never deviate from the Catholic faith. Rather, they will help the deviating to return and will strengthen the vacillating’ (DS 775). That Pope of the Middle Ages considered that the declaration of Jesus to Peter was confirmed by the experience of a millennium.”177

John Paul II: “Indeed, if Christ himself gave Peter this special mission in the Church and exhorted him to strengthen his brethren, he also made clear to him his human weakness and his special need of conversion: ‘And when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren’ (Lk 22:32). It is precisely in Peter’s human weakness that it becomes fully clear that the Pope, in order to carry out this special ministry in the Church, depends totally on the Lord’s grace and prayer: ‘I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail’ (Lk 22:32). The conversion of Peter and that of his Successors is upheld by the very prayer of the Redeemer, and the Church constantly makes this petition her own. In our ecumenical age, marked by the Second Vatican Council, the mission of the Bishop of Rome is particularly directed to recalling the need for full communion among Christ’s disciples.”178

Pope Saint John Paul II, Audience, 24 March 1993: “First of all, the councils affirm that the infallibility attributed to the Roman Pontiff is personal, in the sense that it corresponds to him personally because he is the successor of Peter in the Church of Rome. In other words, this means that the Roman Pontiff is not simply the bearer of an infallibility that actually belongs to the Roman See. He exercises his teaching and, in general, the pastoral ministry as vicarius Petri: that is what he was called during the first Christian millennium. That is to say, in him an almost personification of Peter’s mission or authority is realized, exercised in the name of the one to whom Jesus himself conferred them.

“However, it is evident that the Roman Pontiff has not been granted infallibility as a private person, but because he holds the position of pastor and teacher of all Christians. Moreover, he does not exercise it as one who has authority in himself or by himself, but ‘by his supreme apostolic authority’ and ‘by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, promised to him in the person of Saint Peter.’ Finally, he does not possess it as if he could dispose of it or count on it in any circumstance, but only when he speaks ex cathedra, and only in a doctrinal field limited to the truths of faith and morals, and those that are closely related to them.” [320]

Pope Saint John Paul II, Audience, 24 March 1993: “According to the conciliar texts, the infallible magisterium is exercised in the doctrine of faith and morals. It is the field of truths revealed explicitly or implicitly, which require an adherence of faith and whose deposit, entrusted to the Church by Christ and transmitted by the Apostles, she guards. And she wouldn’t guard it properly if she didn’t protect her purity and integrity…. Those principles of reason which, even if they are not contained in the truths of faith, are intimately connected to them, fall within the area of truths that the magisterium can definitively propose.” [321]

John Paul II, 24 March 1993: “Alongside this infallibility of the ex cathedra definitions, there is the charism of assistance of the Holy Spirit, granted to Peter and to his successors so that they do not err in matters of faith and morals and instead give good illumination to the Christian people. This charism is not limited to exceptional cases, but embraces to varying degrees the entire exercise of the magisterium.” [322]

Pope Saint John Paul II, Audience, 17 March 1993: “This supreme authority of the papal magisterium, which is traditionally defined as apostolic, also in its ordinary exercise, derives from the institutional fact by which the Roman Pontiff is the successor of Peter in the mission of teaching, confirming his brothers and guaranteeing the conformity of the preaching of the Church with the deposit of faith of the Apostles and with the doctrine of Christ. But it also derives from the conviction, matured in the Christian tradition, that the Bishop of Rome is the heir of Peter also in the charisms of special assistance that Jesus assured him when he told him: “I have prayed for you” (Lk 22:32). This means continuous help from the Holy Spirit throughout the exercise of the doctrinal mission, aimed at making the revealed truth and its consequences in human life understood.

“For this reason, the Second Vatican Council affirms that all of the Pope’s teaching deserves to be heard and accepted, even when he does not expound it ex cathedra, but rather presents it in the ordinary exercise of the magisterium with the clear intention of enunciating, recalling, or reaffirming the doctrine of faith. It is a consequence of the institutional fact and of the spiritual inheritance that give the complete dimensions of the succession of Peter.” [323]

Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Mass in honor of Popes Paul VI and John Paul I: “Love would be blind without the truth. Consequently, the one who must preside in love receives from the Lord the promise: ‘Simon, Simon… I have prayed that your own faith may not fail’ (Lk 22: 32). The Lord sees that Satan wants to ‘sift all of you like wheat’ (Lk 22: 31). While this trial involves all the disciples, Christ prays in a special way ‘for you’; for the faith of Peter and upon this prayer is founded the mission to ‘strengthen your brothers’. Peter’s faith is not a result of his own efforts; the constancy of his faith is founded on the prayer of Jesus, the Son of God: ‘I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail’. Jesus’ prayer endures as the firm foundation of Peter’s role for ever and ever, and the Prayer after Communion can rightly say that the Supreme Pontiffs, Paul VI and John Paul I, strengthened their brethren ‘with apostolic courage’.”179

Cardinal Ratzinger, Donum Veritatis, 1990: “Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the Apostles teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and in a particular way, to the Roman Pontiff as Pastor of the whole Church, when exercising their ordinary Magisterium, even should this not issue in an infallible definition or in a ‘definitive’ pronouncement but in the proposal of some teaching which leads to a better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals and to moral directives derived from such teaching.”180

Ratzinger: “It is also to be borne in mind that all acts of the Magisterium derive from the same source, that is, from Christ who desires that His People walk in the entire truth. For this same reason, magisterial decisions in matters of discipline, even if they are not guaranteed by the charism of infallibility, are not without divine assistance and call for the adherence of the faithful.”181

Ratzinger: “When the Magisterium, not intending to act ‘definitively’, teaches a doctrine to aid a better understanding of Revelation and make explicit its contents, or to recall how some teaching is in conformity with the truths of faith, or finally to guard against ideas that are incompatible with these truths, the response called for is that of the religious submission of will and intellect.”182

Ratzinger: “When it comes to the question of interventions in the prudential order, it could happen that some Magisterial documents might not be free from all deficiencies. Bishops and their advisors have not always taken into immediate consideration every aspect or the entire complexity of a question. But it would be contrary to the truth, if, proceeding from some particular cases, one were to conclude that the Church’s Magisterium can be habitually mistaken in its prudential judgments, or that it does not enjoy divine assistance in the integral exercise of its mission.”183

Ratzinger: “Even if the doctrine of the faith is not in question, the theologian will not present his own opinions or divergent hypotheses as though they were non-arguable conclusions. Respect for the truth as well as for the People of God requires this discretion.”184

Ratzinger: “In any case there should never be a diminishment of that fundamental openness loyally to accept the teaching of the Magisterium as is fitting for every believer by reason of the obedience of faith. The theologian will strive then to understand this teaching in its contents, arguments, and purposes. This will mean an intense and patient reflection on his part and a readiness, if need be, to revise his own opinions and examine the objections which his colleagues might offer him.”185

Ratzinger: “Magisterial teaching, by virtue of divine assistance, has a validity beyond its argumentation, which may derive at times from a particular theology.”186

Cardinal Ratzinger, The Primacy of the Successor of Peter in the Mystery of the Church, 1998: “Thus, in the early Christian communities, as later throughout the Church, the image of Peter remained fixed as that of the Apostle who, despite his human weakness, was expressly assigned by Christ to the first place among the Twelve and was called to exercise a distinctive, specific task in the Church. He is the rock on which Christ will build his Church; he is the one, after he has been converted, whose faith will not fail and who will strengthen his brethren; lastly, he is the Shepherd who will lead the whole community of the Lord’s disciples.”187

Ratzinger: “In the case of the Bishop of Rome – Vicar of Christ in the way proper to Peter as Head of the College of Bishops – the sollicitudo omnium Ecclesiarum acquires particular force because it is combined with the full and supreme power in the Church: a truly episcopal power, not only supreme, full and universal, but also immediate, over all pastors and other faithful.”188

Ratzinger: “The Successor of Peter is the rock which guarantees a rigorous fidelity to the Word of God against arbitrariness and conformism: hence the martyrological nature of his primacy.”189

Ratzinger: “it is an office that involves a charism: the Holy Spirit’s special assistance to the Successor of Peter, which also involves., in certain cases, the prerogative of infallibility.”190

Ratzinger: “This does not mean, however, that the Pope has absolute power. Listening to what the Churches are saying is, in fact, an earmark of the ministry of unity, a consequence also of the unity of the Episcopal Body and of the sensus fidei of the entire People of God; and this bond seems to enjoy considerably greater power and certainty than the juridical authorities — an inadmissible hypothesis, moreover, because it is groundless — to which the Roman Pontiff would supposedly have to answer. The ultimate and absolute responsibility of the Pope is best guaranteed, on the one hand, by its relationship to Tradition and fraternal communion and, on the other, by trust in the assistance of the Holy Spirit who governs the Church.”191

Ratzinger: “Consequently, the nucleus of the doctrine of faith concerning the competencies of the primacy cannot be determined by looking for the least number of functions exercised historically. Therefore, the fact that a particular task has been carried out by the primacy in a certain era does not mean by itself that this task should necessarily be reserved always to the Roman Pontiff, and, vice versa, the mere fact that a particular role was not previously exercised by the Pope does not warrant the conclusion that this role could not in some way be exercised in the future as a competence of the primacy.”192

Ratzinger: “In any case, it is essential to state that discerning whether the possible ways of exercising the Petrine ministry correspond to its nature is a discernment to be made in Ecclesia, i.e., with the assistance of the Holy Spirit and in fraternal dialogue between the Roman Pontiff and the other Bishops, according to the Church’s concrete needs. But, at the same time, it is clear that only the Pope (or the Pope with an Ecumenical Council) has, as the Successor of Peter, the authority and the competence to say the last word on the ways to exercise his pastoral ministry in the universal Church.”193

Ratzinger: “Peter, a weak man, was chosen as the rock precisely so that everyone could see that victory belongs to Christ alone and is not the result of human efforts. Down the ages the Lord has wished to put his treasure in fragile vessels: human frailty has thus become a sign of the truth of God’s promises.”194

Ratzinger: “The Catholic Church professes that this ministry is the primatial ministry of the Roman Pontiff, Successor of Peter, and maintains humbly and firmly ‘that the communion of the particular Churches with the Church of Rome, and of their Bishops with the Bishop of Rome, is — in God’s plan — an essential requisite of full and visible communion’…. We are all invited to trust in the Holy Spirit, to trust in Christ, by trusting in Peter.”195

Cardinal Ratzinger, Dominus Jesus, 2000: “The Catholic faithful are required to profess that there is an historical continuity — rooted in the apostolic succession — between the Church founded by Christ and the Catholic Church: ‘This is the single Church of Christ… which our Saviour, after his resurrection, entrusted to Peter’s pastoral care (cf. Jn 21:17), commissioning him and the other Apostles to extend and rule her (cf. Mt 28:18ff.), erected for all ages as “the pillar and mainstay of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in [subsistit in] the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him?.’ “196

Ratzinger: “Therefore, there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him.”197

Cardinal Ratzinger quoting Cardinal Seper: “The Christian faithful are therefore not permitted to imagine that the Church of Christ is nothing more than a collection — divided, yet in some way one — of Churches and ecclesial communities; nor are they free to hold that today the Church of Christ nowhere really exists, and must be considered only as a goal which all Churches and ecclesial communities must strive to reach.”198

Pope Benedict XVI: “To us it oftentimes seems that God allows Satan too much freedom, that he grants him the power to distress us too terribly; and that this gets the better of our forces and oppresses us too heavily. Again and again we cry out to God: ‘Alas, look at the misery of your disciples! Ah, protect us!’. In fact, Jesus continues: ‘I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail’ (Lk 22: 32). Jesus’ prayer is the limit set upon the power of the devil. Jesus’ prayer is the protection of the Church. We can seek refuge under this protection, cling on to it and be safe. But — as he says in the Gospel — Jesus prays in a particular way for Peter: ‘…that your faith may not fail’. Jesus’ prayer is at the same time a promise and a duty. Jesus’ prayer safeguards Peter’s faith, that faith which he confessed at Caesarea Philippi: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’ (Mt 16: 16). And so, never let this faith be silenced; strengthen it over and over again, even in the face of the cross and all the world’s contradictions: this is Peter’s task. Therefore, the point is that the Lord does not only pray for Peter’s personal faith, but for his faith as a service to others. This is exactly what he means with the words: ‘When you have turned again, strengthen your brethren’ (Lk 22: 32).”200

Pope Benedict XVI: “The great bronze throne encloses a wooden chair from the ninth century, which was long thought to be Saint Peter’s own chair and was placed above this monumental altar because of its great symbolic value. It expresses the permanent presence of the Apostle in the Magisterium of his successors. Saint Peter’s chair, we could say, is the throne of truth which takes its origin from Christ’s commission after the confession at Caesarea Philippi. The magisterial chair also reminds us of the words spoken to Peter by the Lord during the Last Supper: ‘I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren’ (Lk 22:32).”201

Pope Benedict XVI: “And we know that Jesus prays for the faith of Peter and his successors. We know that Peter, who walks towards the Lord upon the stormy waters of history and is in danger of sinking, is sustained ever anew by the Lord’s hand and guided over the waves.”202

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Levada: “The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, in an Audience granted to the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal William Joseph Levada, on January 14, 2011, approved the decisions of the Ordinary Session of the Congregation, and ordered their implementation. This action by the Holy Father should be understood in virtue of the mandate given by the Lord to Simon Peter as the rock on which He founded his Church (cf. Luke 22:32): ‘I have prayed for you, Peter, that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned to me, you must strengthen the faith of your brothers and sisters.’ This Scripture passage has long been applied to the role of the Successors of Peter as Head of the Apostolic College of Bishops; it also applies to the role of the Pope as Chief Shepherd and Pastor of the Universal Church.”203

Pope Francis

Pope Francis: “The Gentle and merciful Jesus, the Shepherd of our Souls, entrusted to the Apostle Peter and to his successors the power of the keys to carry out the work of truth and justice in the Church; this supreme and universal power of binding and loosing here on earth asserts, strengthens, and protects the power of Pastors of particular Churches, by virtue of which they have the sacred right and duty before the Lord to enact judgment toward those entrusted to their care.”325

Pope Francis: “In this regard, I reiterate the words of Saint Paul VI, addressed to the first General Assembly of the CEI after Vatican II: ‘We must look to the Council with gratitude to God and with confidence for the future of the Church; it will be the great catechism of the new times’ (23 June 1966).”204

“This is magisterium: the Council [Vatican II] is the magisterium of the Church. Either you are with the Church and therefore you follow the Council, and if you do not follow the Council or you interpret it in your own way, as you wish, you are not with the Church. We must be demanding and strict on this point. The Council should not be negotiated….”205

“No, the Council is as it is. And this problem that we are experiencing, of selectivity with respect to the Council, has been repeated throughout history with other Councils. It makes me think of a group of bishops who, after Vatican I, left, a group of lay people, groups, to continue the ‘true doctrine’ that was not that of Vatican I: ‘We are the true Catholics’. Today they ordain women. The strictest attitude, to guard the faith without the Magisterium of the Church, leads you to ruin. Please, no concessions to those who try to present a catechesis that does not agree with the Magisterium of the Church.”206

Pope Francis on Vatican II: “To doubt the Council is to doubt the intentions of those very Fathers who exercised their collegial power in a solemn manner cum Petro et sub Petro [with Peter and under Peter] in an ecumenical council, and, in the final analysis, to doubt the Holy Spirit himself who guides the Church.”207

Pope Francis: “Our pilgrimage of faith has been inseparably linked to Mary ever since Jesus, dying on the Cross, gave her to us as our Mother, saying: ‘Behold your Mother!’ (Jn 19:27). These words serve as a testament, bequeathing to the world a Mother. From that moment on, the Mother of God also became our Mother! When the faith of the disciples was most tested by difficulties and uncertainties, Jesus entrusted them to Mary, who was the first to believe, and whose faith would never fail.”208

Pope Francis: “in the Church primacy and synodality are not two competing principles to be kept in balance, but two realities that establish and sustain one another in the service of communion. Just as the primacy presupposes the exercise of synodality, so synodality entails the exercise of primacy. From this standpoint, the International Theological Commission has stated, significantly, that in the Catholic Church, synodality in the broad sense can be seen as the articulation of three dimensions: ‘all’, ‘some’ and ‘one’. Indeed, ‘synodality involves the exercise of the sensus fidei of the universitas fidelium (all), the ministry of leadership of the college of Bishops, each one with his presbyterium (some), and the ministry of unity of the Bishop of Rome (one)’ (Synodality in the Life and Mission of the Church, 2018, No. 64).

“In this vision, the primatial ministry is an intrinsic element of the dynamic of synodality, as are also the communitarian aspect that includes the whole People of God and the collegial dimension that is part of the exercise of episcopal ministry. Consequently, a fruitful approach to the primacy in theological and ecumenical dialogues must necessarily be grounded in a reflection on synodality: there is no other way. I have frequently expressed my conviction that ‘in a synodal Church, greater light can be shed on the exercise of the Petrine primacy’ (Address on the 50th Anniversary of the Institution of the Synod of Bishops, 17 October 2015).”209

Pope Saint John Paul II: “Likewise, following the example of Mary, the Church remains the virgin faithful to her spouse: The Church herself is a virgin who keeps whole and pure the fidelity she has pledged to her Spouse.”210

Vatican II: “The Church indeed, contemplating her hidden sanctity, imitating her charity and faithfully fulfilling the Father’s will, by receiving the word of God in faith becomes herself a mother. By her preaching she brings forth to a new and immortal life the sons who are born to her in baptism, conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of God. She herself is a virgin, who keeps the faith given to her by her Spouse whole and entire. Imitating the mother of her Lord, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, she keeps with virginal purity an entire faith, a firm hope and a sincere charity.”211

Ecumenical Councils

The Fathers of the Council of Chalcedon, 451, after the letter of Pope Saint Leo I had been read: “This is the faith of the fathers; this is the faith of the apostles. We all believe so; the orthodox believe so. Anathema to him who does not so believe. Peter has spoken thus through Leo.”212

Lateran IV: “He dictated a letter, which he signed with his own hand, in which he firmly confesses that he holds the faith held by the Roman Church, which is by God’s plan the Mother and Mistress of all the faithful.”213

Lateran IV: “the Roman church, which through the Lord’s disposition has a primacy of ordinary power over all other churches inasmuch as it is the mother and mistress of all Christ’s faithful”

Lateran IV on the Greeks: “conform themselves like obedient sons to the holy Roman church, their mother, so that there may be one flock and one shepherd.”

Lateran IV on the Patriarchal Sees: “In all the provinces subject to their jurisdiction let appeal be made to them, when it is necessary, except for appeals made to the Apostolic See, to which all must humbly defer.”

Lateran IV: “There is indeed one universal church of the faithful, outside of which nobody at all is saved, in which Jesus Christ is both priest and sacrifice.”214

First Council of Lyons: “The Son of God, Jesus Christ, for the redemption of the human race, descended from the height of heaven to the lowest part of the world and underwent a temporal death. But when, after his Resurrection, he was about to ascend to His Father, that he might not leave the flock redeemed by his glorious blood without a shepherd, he entrusted its care to the blessed Apostle Peter, so that by the firmness of his own faith he might strengthen others in the Christian religion and kindle their minds with the ardor of devotion to the works of their salvation. Hence we who, by the will of our Lord, though without merit of our own, have been made successors of this Apostle and hold on earth, though unworthy, the place of our Redeemer, should always be careful and vigilant in the guarding of that flock and be forced to direct our thoughts continuously to the salvation of souls by removing what is harmful and doing what is profitable.”

Lyons I: “this privilege which our Lord Jesus Christ handed to Peter and in him to his successors, namely, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven, in which assuredly consists the authority and power of the Roman church….”

The Second Council of Lyons: “If questions will have arisen on faith, they ought to be decided by his [i.e. the Roman Pontiff’s] judgment”.215

The Council of Florence, 1438: “the most illustrious profession of the Roman Church about the truth of the faith, which has always been pure from all stain of error.”216

Florence: “We also define that the holy Apostolic See and the Roman pontiff holds the primacy over the whole world and the Roman pontiff is the successor of blessed Peter, prince of the apostles, and that he is the true vicar of Christ, the head of the whole Church and the father and teacher of all Christians, and to him was committed in blessed Peter the full power of tending, ruling and governing the whole Church, as is contained also in the acts of Ecumenical Councils and in the sacred canons.”217

The Council of Florence condemned the proposition that the pope “cannot in any way by his own authority dissolve a universal general council”.218

Lateran V: “For it is clearly established that only the contemporary Roman pontiff, as holding authority over all councils, has the full right and power to summon, transfer and dissolve councils. This we know not only from the witness of holy scripture, the statements of holy fathers and our predecessors as Roman pontiffs, and the decisions of the sacred canons, but also from the declarations of the same councils.”

Lateran V: “It arises from the necessity of salvation that all the faithful of Christ are to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”219

Lateran V: “the person who abandons the teaching of the Roman pontiff cannot be within the Church….”220

Lateran V: “As we read in another place, the person who abandons the teaching of the Roman pontiff cannot be within the church; for, on the authority of Augustine and Gregory, obedience alone is the mother and protector of all virtues, it alone possessing the reward of faith. Therefore, on the teaching of the same Peter, we ought to be careful that what has been introduced in due season and for sound reasons by our predecessors the Roman pontiffs, especially in sacred councils, for the defense of obedience of this kind, of ecclesiastical authority and freedom, and of the apostolic see, should be duly discharged by our effort, devotion and diligence and be brought to the desired conclusion.”221

Lateran V: “We decree and declare, with the approval of this same sacred council, that this sacred ecumenical council, justly, reasonably, and for true and lawful purposes duly and rightly summoned, has begun to be celebrated, and that each and every thing which has been and shall be done and executed in it, will be just, reasonable, settled and valid, and that it possesses and holds the same strength, power, authority and stability which other general councils approved by the sacred canons, especially the Lateran council, possess and hold.”303

Council of Trent: “in the name of our most holy father and lord in Christ, Paul III, by divine providence Pope”

Council of Trent: “Therefore, the Sovereign Pontiffs, by the supreme authority handed down to them in the universal Church, were rightly able to reserve, to their special judgment, some of the more grievous cases of offenses.”

Council of Trent: “And since it is fitting that Holy things be administered in a holy manner, and out of all things this sacrifice is the most holy, [and] so that it may be offered and received worthily and reverently, the Catholic Church instituted, many years ago, the sacred canon, so pure from every error that nothing is contained in it which is not, to the greatest extent, redolent of a certain sanctity and piety, and [thereby] raises up to God the minds of those who offer [it]. For it is composed from the very words of the Lord, then from the traditions of the Apostles, and also from the pious institutions of holy Pontiffs.”222

First Vatican Council

Blessed Pope Pius IX, 1873, on those who write against the teachings of Vatican I: “For these writings attack and pervert the true power of jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff and the bishops, who are the successors of blessed Peter and the apostles; they transfer it instead to the people, or, as they say, to the community. They obstinately reject and oppose the infallible magisterium both of the Roman Pontiff and of the whole Church in teaching matters. Incredibly, they boldly affirm that the Roman Pontiff and all the bishops, the priests and the people conjoined with him in the unity of faith and communion fell into heresy when they approved and professed the definitions of the Ecumenical Vatican Council. Therefore they deny also the indefectibility of the Church and blasphemously declare that it has perished throughout the world and that its visible Head and the bishops have erred.”223

Vatican I, Profession of faith:
“2. Apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions and all other observances and constitutions of that same Church I most firmly accept and embrace.”

“3. Likewise I accept Sacred Scripture according to that sense which Holy mother Church held and holds, since it is her right to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures; nor will I ever receive and interpret them except according to the unanimous consent of the fathers.”
“5. I likewise receive and accept the rites of the Catholic Church which have been received and approved in the solemn administration of all the aforesaid sacraments.”
“12. I acknowledge the Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church, the mother and mistress of all the Churches [1].”

“13. Likewise all other things which have been transmitted, defined and declared by the sacred canons and the ecumenical councils, especially the sacred Trent, I accept unhesitatingly and profess; in the same way whatever is to the contrary, and whatever heresies have been condemned, rejected and anathematized by the Church, I too condemn, reject and anathematize.

“This true Catholic faith, outside of which none can be saved, which I now freely profess and truly hold, is what I shall steadfastly maintain and confess, by the help of God, in all its completeness and purity until my dying breath, and I shall do my best to ensure [2] that all others do the same. This is what I, the same Pius, promise, vow and swear. So help me God and these holy gospels of God.”224

Notes for the Vatican I Profession of Faith:
[1] The Profession of faith of the other fathers added: and I pledge and swear true obedience to the Roman Pontiff, successor of blessed Peter the Prince of the Apostles, and Vicar of Jesus Christ
[2] The profession of faith of the other fathers continues: my subjects, or those for whom I have responsibility in virtue of my office, hold, teach and preach the same

Vatican I, Dei Filius:
“8. With this impiety spreading in every direction, it has come about, alas, that many even among the children of the Catholic Church have strayed from the path of genuine piety, and as the truth was gradually diluted in them, their Catholic sensibility was weakened. Led away by diverse and strange teachings [Heb 13:9] and confusing nature and grace, human knowledge and divine faith, they are found to distort the genuine sense of the dogmas which Holy mother Church holds and teaches, and to endanger the integrity and genuineness of the faith.”
“14. Hence, too, that meaning of the sacred dogmas is ever to be maintained which has once been declared by Holy mother Church, and there must never be any abandonment of this sense under the pretext or in the name of a more profound understanding.

“May understanding, knowledge and wisdom increase as ages and centuries roll along, and greatly and vigorously flourish, in each and all, in the individual and the whole Church: but this only in its own proper kind, that is to say, in the same doctrine, the same sense, and the same understanding [36].”225
“Note [36]: Vincent of Lerins, Commonitorium (Notebook), 28 (PL 50, 668).”226

Vatican I, Dei Filius:


“The Son of God, Redeemer of the human race, our Lord Jesus Christ, promised, when about to return to his heavenly Father, that He would be with this Church militant upon earth all days, even to the end of the world [Mt 28:20]. Hence never at any time has He ceased to stand by His beloved Bride, assisting Her when She teaches, blessing Her in Her labors and bringing Her help when She is in danger.”227

Vatican I, Dei Filius, on the Council of Trent: “Everybody knows that those heresies, condemned by the fathers of Trent, which rejected the divine Magisterium of the Church and allowed religious questions to be a matter for the judgment of each individual, have gradually collapsed into a multiplicity of sects, either at variance or in agreement with one another; and by this means a good many people have had all faith in Christ destroyed.”228

“For just as God wills all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth [1 Tim 2:4], just as Christ came to save what was lost [Lk 19:10] and to gather into one the children of God who were scattered abroad [Jn 11:52], so the Church, appointed by God to be Mother and Mistress of nations, recognizes her obligations to all and is always ready and anxious to raise the fallen, to steady those who stumble, to embrace those who return, and to strengthen the good and urge them on to what is better. Thus She can never cease from witnessing to the truth of God which heals all [Wisdom 16:12] and from declaring it, for She knows that these words were directed to Her: ‘My spirit which is upon you, and my words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth from this time forth and for evermore.’ [Is 59:21]”229

Dei Filius, chapter 3:

“1. Since human beings are totally dependent on God as their Creator and Lord, and since created reason is completely subject to uncreated truth, we are obliged to yield to God, the Revealer, the full submission of intellect and of will, by faith.”230

“2. This faith, which is the beginning of human salvation, the Catholic Church professes to be a supernatural virtue, by means of which, with the grace of God inspiring and assisting us, we believe to be true what He has revealed, not because we perceive its intrinsic truth by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God himself, who makes the revelation and can neither deceive nor be deceived.”231

“10. So that we could fulfill our duty of embracing the true faith and of persevering unwaveringly in it, God, through his only begotten Son, founded the Church, and he endowed his institution with clear notes to the end that she might be recognized by all as the guardian and teacher of the revealed word.”232

“13. So it comes about that, like a standard lifted up for the nations [Is 11:12], She both invites to Herself those who have not yet believed, and likewise assures Her sons and daughters that the faith they profess rests on the firmest of foundations.”233

Dei Filius, chapter 4:

“8. Furthermore the Church which, together with its apostolic office of teaching, has received the charge of preserving the deposit of faith, has by divine appointment the right and duty of condemning what wrongly passes for knowledge, lest anyone be led astray by philosophy and empty deceit [Col 2:8].”

“9. Hence all faithful Christians are forbidden to defend as the legitimate conclusions of science those opinions which are known to be contrary to the doctrine of faith, particularly if they have been condemned by the Church; and furthermore they are absolutely bound to hold them to be errors which wear the deceptive appearance of truth.”234

Dei Filius, closing comments:

“But since it is not enough to avoid the contamination of heresy unless those errors are carefully shunned which approach it in greater or lesser degree, we warn all of their duty to observe the constitutions and decrees in which such wrong opinions, though not expressly mentioned in this document, have been banned and forbidden by this Holy See.”235

Vatican I, Pastor Aeternus:


“1. The eternal shepherd and guardian of our souls [1 Pt 2:25], in order to render permanent the saving work of redemption, determined to build a Church in which, as in the House of the living God, all the faithful should be linked by the bond of one faith and charity.”236

“2. Therefore, before he was glorified, he besought his Father, not for the Apostles only, but also for those who were to believe in him through their word, that they all might be one as the Son himself and the Father are One [Jn 17:20-21].”237

“3. So then, just as He sent Apostles, whom He chose out of the world [Jn 15:19], even as He had been sent by the Father [Jn 20:21], in like manner it was His will that, in His Church, there should be shepherds and teachers until the end of time.”238

“4. In order, then, that the Episcopal office should be one and undivided and that, by the union of the clergy, the whole multitude of believers should be held together in the unity of faith and communion, He set blessed Peter over the rest of the Apostles and instituted in him the permanent principle of both unities and their visible foundation.”239

“5. Upon the strength of this foundation was to be built the eternal temple, and the Church whose topmost part reaches heaven was to rise upon the firmness of this foundation.”240

“6. And since the gates of Hell trying, if they can, to overthrow the Church, make their assault with a hatred that increases day by day against its divinely laid foundation, we judge it necessary, with the approbation of the Sacred Council, and for the protection, defense and growth of the Catholic flock, to propound the doctrine concerning the 1. institution, 2. permanence, and 3. nature of the Sacred and Apostolic Primacy, upon which the strength and coherence of the whole Church depends.”241

“7. This doctrine is to be believed and held by all the faithful in accordance with the ancient and unchanging faith of the whole Church.”242

Pastor Aeternus, chapter 1:

“1. We teach and declare that, according to the Gospel evidence, a primacy of jurisdiction over the whole Church of God was immediately and directly promised to the blessed Apostle Peter and conferred on him by Christ the Lord.”243

“3. And it was to Peter alone that Jesus, after His Resurrection, confided the jurisdiction of Supreme Pastor and Ruler of his whole fold, saying: ‘Feed my lambs, feed my sheep’ [Jn 21:15-17].”244

“4. To this absolutely manifest teaching of the Sacred Scriptures, as it has always been understood by the Catholic Church, are clearly opposed the distorted opinions of those who misrepresent the form of government which Christ the Lord established in His Church and deny that Peter, in preference to the rest of the Apostles, taken singly or collectively, was endowed by Christ with a true and proper primacy of jurisdiction.”245

“5. The same may be said of those who assert that this primacy was not conferred immediately and directly on blessed Peter himself, but rather on the Church, and that it was through the Church that it was transmitted to him in his capacity as Her minister.”246

Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 2:

“1. That which our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of shepherds and great Shepherd of the sheep, established in the blessed Apostle Peter, for the continual salvation and permanent benefit of the Church, must of necessity remain forever, by Christ’s authority, in the Church which, founded as it is upon a Rock, will stand firm until the end of time [cf. Mt 7:25; Lk 6:48].”247

“2. For no one can be in doubt, indeed it was known in every age that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the Apostles, the pillar of faith and the 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 this day and forever he lives and presides and exercises judgment in his successors, the bishops of the Holy Roman See, which he founded and consecrated with his blood.”248

“3. Therefore whoever succeeds to the Chair of Peter obtains by the institution of Christ himself, the primacy of Peter over the whole Church. So what the truth has ordained stands firm, and blessed Peter perseveres in the rock-like strength he was granted, and he does not abandon that governorship of the Church which he once received.”249

“4. For this reason it has always been necessary for every church — that is to say, for the faithful throughout the world — to be in agreement with the Roman Church because of its more capable leadership. In consequence of being joined, as members to head, with that See, from which the rights of sacred communion flow to all, they will grow together into the structure of a single Body.”250

“5. Therefore, if anyone says that it is not by the institution of Christ the Lord himself (that is to say, by divine law) that blessed Peter should have perpetual successors in the primacy over the whole Church; or that the Roman Pontiff is not the successor of blessed Peter in this primacy: let him be anathema.”251

Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 3:

“1. And so, supported by the clear witness of Holy Scripture, and adhering to the manifest and explicit decrees both of our predecessors, the Roman Pontiffs, and of the general Councils, we promulgate anew the definition of the Ecumenical Council of Florence, which must be believed by all faithful Christians, namely, that the Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff hold a worldwide primacy, and that the Roman Pontiff is the successor of blessed Peter, the prince of the Apostles, true vicar of Christ, head of the whole Church, and father and teacher of all Christian people. To him, in blessed Peter, full power has been given by our Lord Jesus Christ, to tend, rule, and govern the universal Church. All this is to be found in the acts of the Ecumenical Councils and in the sacred Canons.”252

“2. Therefore we teach and declare that, by divine ordinance, the Roman Church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other church, and that this jurisdictional power of the Roman Pontiff is both episcopal and immediate. Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world.”253

“3. In this way, by unity with the Roman Pontiff in communion and in profession of the same faith, the Church of Christ becomes one flock under one Supreme Shepherd.”254

“4. This is the teaching of the Catholic truth, and no one can depart from it without endangering his faith and salvation.”255
“8. Since the Roman Pontiff, by the divine right of the Apostolic primacy, governs the whole Church, we likewise teach and declare that he is the supreme judge of the faithful, and that in all cases which fall under ecclesiastical jurisdiction recourse may be had to his judgment. The sentence of the Apostolic See (than which there is no higher authority) is not subject to revision by anyone, nor may anyone lawfully pass judgment thereupon. And so they stray from the genuine path of truth who maintain that it is lawful to appeal from the judgments of the Roman Pontiffs to an Ecumenical Council as if this were an authority superior to the Roman Pontiff.”256

“9. So, then, if anyone says that the Roman Pontiff has merely an office of supervision and guidance, and not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole Church, and this not only in matters of faith and morals, but also in those which concern the discipline and government of the Church dispersed throughout the whole world; or that he has only the principal part, but not the absolute fullness, of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate both over all and each of the Churches and over all and each of the pastors and faithful: let him be anathema.”257

Pastor Aeternus, chapter 4:

“1. That apostolic primacy which the Roman Pontiff possesses as successor of Peter, the prince of the apostles, includes also the supreme power of teaching. This Holy See has always maintained this, the constant custom of the Church demonstrates it, and the ecumenical councils, particularly those in which East and West met in the union of faith and charity, have declared it.”258

“2. So the fathers of the fourth Council of Constantinople, following the footsteps of their predecessors, published this solemn profession of faith:

‘The first condition of salvation is to maintain the rule of the true faith. And since that saying of our Lord Jesus Christ, “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church” [Mt 16:18], cannot fail of its effect, the words spoken are confirmed by their consequences. For in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been preserved unblemished, and sacred doctrine been held in honor. Since it is our earnest desire to be in no way separated from this faith and doctrine, we hope that we may deserve to remain in that one communion which the Apostolic See preaches, for in it, is the whole and true strength of the Christian religion.’ ”

‘The Holy Roman Church possesses the supreme and full primacy and principality over the whole Catholic Church. She truly and humbly acknowledges that she received this from the Lord himself in blessed Peter, the prince and chief of the Apostles, whose successor the Roman Pontiff is, together with the fullness of power. And since before all others She has the duty of defending the truth of the faith, so if any questions arise concerning the faith, it is by Her judgment that they must be settled.’ ”

“Then there is the definition of the Council of Florence:
‘The Roman Pontiff is the true vicar of Christ, the head of the whole Church and the father and teacher of all Christians; and to him was committed in blessed Peter, by our Lord Jesus Christ, the full power of tending, ruling and governing the whole Church.’ “259

“3. To satisfy this pastoral office, our predecessors strove unwearyingly that the saving teaching of Christ should be spread among all the peoples of the world; and with equal care they made sure that it should be kept pure and uncontaminated wherever it was received.”260

“4. It was for this reason that the bishops of the whole world, sometimes individually, sometimes gathered in synods, according to the long established custom of the Churches and the pattern of ancient usage referred to this Apostolic See those dangers especially which arose in matters concerning the faith. This was to ensure that any damage suffered by the faith should be repaired in that place above all where the faith can know no failing.”261

“5. The Roman pontiffs, too, as the circumstances of the time or the state of affairs suggested, sometimes by summoning Ecumenical Councils or consulting the opinion of the churches scattered throughout the world, sometimes by special Synods, sometimes by taking advantage of other useful means afforded by divine providence, defined as doctrines to be held those things which, by God’s help, they knew to be in keeping with Sacred Scripture and the Apostolic traditions.”262

“6. For the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by his revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by his assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the Revelation, or Deposit of Faith, transmitted by the Apostles.”263

“Indeed, their Apostolic teaching was embraced by all the venerable fathers and reverenced and followed by all the holy orthodox doctors, for they knew very well that this See of Saint Peter always remains unblemished by any error, in accordance with the divine promise of our Lord and Savior to the prince of his disciples: ‘I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren’ [Lk 22:32].”264

“7. This gift of truth and never-failing faith was therefore divinely conferred on Peter and his successors in this See so that they might discharge their exalted office for the salvation of all, and so that the whole flock of Christ might be kept away by them from the poisonous food of error and be nourished with the sustenance of heavenly doctrine. Thus the tendency to schism is removed and the whole Church is preserved in unity, and, resting on its foundation, can stand firm against the gates of Hell.”265

“8. But since in this very age when the salutary effectiveness of the apostolic office is most especially needed, not a few are to be found who disparage its authority, we judge it absolutely necessary to affirm solemnly the prerogative which the only-begotten Son of God was pleased to attach to the supreme pastoral office.”266

“9. Therefore, faithfully adhering to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, to the glory of God our savior, for the exaltation of the Catholic religion and for the salvation of the Christian people, with the approval of the Sacred Council, we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman Pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. Therefore, such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the Church, irreformable.

“So then, should anyone, which God forbid, have the temerity to reject this definition of ours: let him be anathema.”267

Second Vatican Council

Vatican II, Lumen Gentium: “But the college or body of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter as its head. The pope’s power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and intact. In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power. The order of bishops, which succeeds to the college of apostles and gives this apostolic body continued existence, is also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church, provided we understand this body together with its head the Roman Pontiff and never without this head. This power can be exercised only with the consent of the Roman Pontiff. For our Lord placed Simon alone as the rock and the bearer of the keys of the Church, and made him shepherd of the whole flock….”268

Vatican II: “A council is never ecumenical unless it is confirmed or at least accepted as such by the successor of Peter; and it is prerogative of the Roman Pontiff to convoke these councils, to preside over them and to confirm them.”269

Vatican II: “Among the principal duties of bishops the preaching of the Gospel occupies an eminent place. For bishops are preachers of the faith, who lead new disciples to Christ, and they are authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach to the people committed to them the faith they must believe and put into practice, and by the light of the Holy Spirit illustrate that faith. They bring forth from the treasury of Revelation new things and old, making it bear fruit and vigilantly warding off any errors that threaten their flock. Bishops, teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are to be respected by all as witnesses to divine and Catholic truth. In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.

“Although the individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, they nevertheless proclaim Christ’s doctrine infallibly whenever, even though dispersed through the world, but still maintaining the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter, and authentically teaching matters of faith and morals, they are in agreement on one position as definitively to be held. This is even more clearly verified when, gathered together in an ecumenical council, they are teachers and judges of faith and morals for the universal Church, whose definitions must be adhered to with the submission of faith.

“And this infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine of faith and morals, extends as far as the deposit of Revelation extends, which must be religiously guarded and faithfully expounded. And this is the infallibility which the Roman Pontiff, the head of the college of bishops, enjoys in virtue of his office, when, as the supreme shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, who confirms his brethren in their faith, by a definitive act he proclaims a doctrine of faith or morals. And therefore his definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly styled irreformable, since they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, promised to him in blessed Peter, and therefore they need no approval of others, nor do they allow an appeal to any other judgment. For then the Roman Pontiff is not pronouncing judgment as a private person, but as the supreme teacher of the universal Church, in whom the charism of infallibility of the Church itself is individually present, he is expounding or defending a doctrine of Catholic faith. The infallibility promised to the Church resides also in the body of Bishops, when that body exercises the supreme magisterium with the successor of Peter. To these definitions the assent of the Church can never be wanting, on account of the activity of that same Holy Spirit, by which the whole flock of Christ is preserved and progresses in unity of faith.

“But when either the Roman Pontiff or the Body of Bishops together with him defines a judgment, they pronounce it in accordance with Revelation itself, which all are obliged to abide by and be in conformity with, that is, the Revelation which as written or orally handed down is transmitted in its entirety through the legitimate succession of bishops and especially in care of the Roman Pontiff himself, and which under the guiding light of the Spirit of truth is religiously preserved and faithfully expounded in the Church. The Roman Pontiff and the bishops, in view of their office and the importance of the matter, by fitting means diligently strive to inquire properly into that revelation and to give apt expression to its contents; but a new public revelation they do not accept as pertaining to the divine deposit of faith.”270

Canon Law

“Can. 212 §1. Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church.”

§2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

§3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

“Can. 331 The bishop of the Roman Church, in whom continues the office given by the Lord uniquely to Peter, the first of the Apostles, and to be transmitted to his successors, is the head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ, and the pastor of the universal Church on earth. By virtue of his office he possesses supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he is always able to exercise freely.”

“Can. 332 §1. The Roman Pontiff obtains full and supreme power in the Church by his acceptance of legitimate election together with episcopal consecration. Therefore, a person elected to the supreme pontificate who is marked with episcopal character obtains this power from the moment of acceptance. If the person elected lacks episcopal character, however, he is to be ordained a bishop immediately.”

Canon 751: “Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”

Can. 915 “Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.”

Can. 916 A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.

Canon 1364 §1: “an apostate from the faith, a heretic, or a schismatic incurs a latae sententiae excommunication.”

Canon Law 1373: “A person who publicly incites among subjects animosities or hatred against the Apostolic See or an ordinary because of some act of power or ecclesiastical ministry or provokes subjects to disobey them is to be punished by an interdict or other just penalties.”

Canon 1404: The First See is judged by no one. [Current Code of Canon Law]
Canon 1556: The Primatial See can be judged by no one. [Previous Code]

No Salvation Outside the Church

Pope Saint John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, n. 10: “The universality of salvation means that it is granted not only to those who explicitly believe in Christ and have entered the Church. Since salvation is offered to all, it must be made concretely available to all. But it is clear that today, as in the past, many people do not have an opportunity to come to know or accept the gospel revelation or to enter the Church. The social and cultural conditions in which they live do not permit this, and frequently they have been brought up in other religious traditions. For such people salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of his Sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit. It enables each person to attain salvation through his or her free cooperation.

“For this reason the [Second Vatican] Council, after affirming the centrality of the Paschal Mystery, went on to declare that ‘this applies not only to Christians but to all people of good will in whose hearts grace is secretly at work. Since Christ died for everyone, and since the ultimate calling of each of us comes from God and is therefore a universal one, we are obliged to hold that the Holy Spirit offers everyone the possibility of sharing in this Paschal Mystery in a manner known to God.’ (Gaudium et Spes 22)”271

Pope Saint John Paul II, General Audience (May 31, 1995) clarifying Redemptoris Missio n. 10, in its entirety: “The difficulties that sometimes accompany the development of evangelization highlight a delicate problem, whose solution is not to be sought in purely historical or sociological terms. It is the problem of the salvation of those who do not visibly belong to the Church. We have not been given the possibility to discern the mystery of God’s action in minds and hearts, in order to assess the power of Christ’s grace as he takes possession, in life and in death, of all that ‘the Father gives him,’ and which he himself proclaims he does not want to ‘lose.’ We hear him repeat this in one of the suggested Gospel readings in the Mass for the dead (cf. Jn 6:39-40).

“However, as I wrote in the Encyclical Redemptoris Missio, the gift of salvation cannot be limited ‘to those who explicitly believe in Christ and have entered the Church. Since salvation is offered to all, it must be made concretely available to all.’ And, in admitting that it is concretely impossible for many people to have access to the Gospel message, I added: ‘Many people do not have the opportunity to come to know or accept the Gospel revelation or to enter the Church. The social and cultural conditions in which they live do not permit this, and frequently they have been brought up in other religious traditions’ (RM 10).

“We must acknowledge that, as far as human beings can know and foresee, this practical impossibility would seem destined to last a long time, perhaps until the work of evangelization is finally completed. Jesus himself warned that only the Father knows ‘the exact time’ set by him for the establishment of his kingdom in the world (cf. Acts 1:7).

“What I have said above, however, does not justify the relativistic position of those who maintain that a way of salvation can be found in any religion, even independently of faith in Christ the Redeemer, and that interreligious dialogue must be based on this ambiguous idea. That solution to the problem of the salvation of those who do not profess the Christian creed is not in conformity with the Gospel. Rather, we must maintain that the way of salvation always passes through Christ, and therefore the Church and her missionaries have the task of making him known and loved in every time, place and culture. Apart from Christ ‘there is no salvation.’ As Peter proclaimed before the Sanhedrin at the very start of the apostolic preaching: ‘There is no other name in the whole world given to men by which we are to be saved’ (Acts 4:12).

“For those too who through no fault of their own do not know Christ and are not recognized as Christians, the divine plan has provided a way of salvation. As we read in the [Second Vatican] Council’s Decree Ad Gentes, we believe that ‘God in ways known to himself can lead those inculpably ignorant of the Gospel’ to the faith necessary for salvation (AG 7). Certainly, the condition ‘inculpably ignorant’ cannot be verified nor weighed by human evaluation, but must be left to the divine judgment alone. For this reason, the Council states in the Constitution Gaudium et Spes that in the heart of every man of good will, ‘Grace works in an unseen way…. The Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to every man the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery’ (GS 22).

“It is important to stress that the way of salvation taken by those who do not know the Gospel is not a way apart from Christ and the Church. The universal salvific will is linked to the one mediation of Christ. ‘God our Savior…wants all men to be saved and come to know the truth. And the truth is this: God is one. One also is the mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all’ (1 Tim 2:3-6). Peter proclaimed this when he said: ‘There is no salvation in anyone else’ and called Jesus the ‘cornerstone’ (Acts 4:11-12), emphasizing Christ’s necessary role at the basis of the Church.

“This affirmation of the Savior’s ‘uniqueness’ derives from the Lord’s own words. He stated that he came ‘to give his own life in ransom for the many’ (Mk 10:45), that is, for humanity, as St. Paul explains when he writes: ‘One died for all’ (2 Cor 5:14; cf. Rom 5:18). Christ won universal salvation with the gift of his own life. No other mediator has been established by God as Savior. The unique value of the sacrifice of the cross must always be acknowledged in the destiny of every man.

“Since Christ brings about salvation through his Mystical Body, which is the Church, the way of salvation is connected essentially with the Church. The axiom ‘extra ecclesiam nulla salus’ — ‘outside the Church there is no salvation’ — stated by St. Cyprian (Epist. 73, 21; PL 1123 AB), belongs to the Christian tradition. It was included in the Fourth Lateran Council (DS 802), in the Bull Unam Sanctam of Boniface VIII (DS 870) and the Council of Florence (Decretum pro Jacobitis, DS 1351). The axiom means that for those who are not ignorant of the fact that the Church has been established as necessary by God through Jesus Christ, there is an obligation to enter the Church and remain in her in order to attain salvation (cf. LG 14). For those, however, who have not received the Gospel proclamation, as I wrote in the Encyclical Redemptoris Missio, salvation is accessible in mysterious ways, inasmuch as divine grace is granted to them by virtue of Christ’s redeeming sacrifice, without external membership in the Church, but nonetheless always in relation to her (cf. RM 10). It is a mysterious relationship. It is mysterious for those who receive the grace, because they do not know the Church and sometimes even outwardly reject her. It is also mysterious in itself, because it is linked to the saving mystery of grace, which includes an essential reference to the Church the Savior founded.

“In order to take effect, saving grace requires acceptance, cooperation, a yes to the divine gift. This acceptance is, at least implicitly, oriented to Christ and the Church. Thus it can also be said that ‘sine ecclesia nulla salus — ‘without the Church there is no salvation.’ Belonging to the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, however implicitly and indeed mysteriously, is an essential condition for salvation.

“Religions can exercise a positive influence on the destiny of those who belong to them and follow their guidance in a sincere spirit. However, if decisive action for salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit, we must keep in mind that man receives his salvation only from Christ through the Holy Spirit. Salvation already begins during earthly life. This grace, when accepted and responded to, brings forth fruit in the gospel sense for earth and for heaven.

“Hence the importance of the Church’s indispensable role. She ‘is not an end unto herself, but rather is fervently concerned to be completely of Christ, in Christ and for Christ, as well as completely of men, among men and for men.’ This role then is not ‘ecclesiocentric,’ as is sometimes said. The Church does not exist nor does she work for herself, but is at the service of a humanity called to divine sonship in Christ (cf. RM 19). She thus exercises an implicit mediation also with regard to those who do not know the Gospel.

“What has been said, however, should not lead to the conclusion that her missionary activity is less needed in these situations — quite the contrary. In fact, whoever does not know Christ, even through no fault of his own, is in a state of darkness and spiritual hunger, often with negative repercussions at the cultural and moral level. The Church’s missionary work can provide him with the resources for the full development of Christ’s saving grace, by offering full and conscious adherence to the message of faith and active participation in Church life through the sacraments.

“This is the theological approach drawn from Christian tradition. The Church’s Magisterium has followed it in her doctrine and practice as the way indicated by Christ himself for the apostles and for missionaries in every age.”272

Catechism of the Catholic Church: “God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want ‘any to perish, but all to come to repentance’ “273

Pope Francis: “A journey of peace is possible between religions. Its point of departure must be God’s way of seeing things. ‘God does not see with his eyes, God sees with his heart. And God’s love is the same for everyone, regardless of religion. Even if they are atheists, his love is the same. When the last day comes, and there is sufficient light to see things as they really are, we are going to find ourselves quite surprised’.”274

Maria Antonietta Collins275: “Holy Father, you have spoken a great deal about forgiveness, how God forgives us and how we are the ones who often have to ask forgiveness. I would like to ask you, after having seen you today at the seminary: there are many priests who sexually abused minors and have not asked forgiveness from their victims. Do you forgive them? And do you understand, on the other hand, the victims and their relatives who cannot, or do not want, to forgive?”

Pope Francis: “If a person has done wrong, and is conscious of what he has done, but does not beg forgiveness, I ask God to take this into account. I forgive him, but he does not accept forgiveness, he is closed to forgiveness. It is one thing to forgive — we are bound to forgive, because we have all been forgiven — but it is another thing to accept forgiveness. If that priest is closed to forgiveness, he will not receive it, because he has locked the door from the inside; all that remains is to pray that the Lord will open that door. We must be ready to forgive, but not all can receive it or are able or willing to receive it. What I’m saying is harsh. But this explains why some people finish their lives badly, without receiving God’s tender mercy. And your second question?”

Maria Antonietta Collins: “Whether you understand victims and relatives who find themselves unable to forgive, or who do not want to forgive?”

Pope Francis: “Yes, I understand them. I understand them, I pray for them and I do not judge them. Once, in one of these meetings, I met several people, and one woman said to me: ‘When my mother found out that I had been abused, she blasphemed God; she lost her faith and died an atheist’. I understand that woman. I understand her, and God, who is better than I am, understands her. I am certain that God has welcomed that woman, because what was touched, what was destroyed, was her own flesh, the flesh of her daughter. I understand that. I do not judge someone who cannot forgive. I pray and I ask God, because God is a master at finding a way to resolve things. I ask him to take care of it.”276

Pope Pius XII: “Above all, the state of grace is absolutely necessary at the moment of death; without it, salvation and supernatural happiness the beatific vision of God — are impossible.”277

Pope Pius XII: “An act of love is sufficient for the adult to obtain sanctifying grace and to supply the lack of baptism….”278

Pope Innocent III: “For God forbid that all children, of whom daily so great a multitude die, would perish, but that also for these, the merciful God, who wishes no one to perish, has procured some remedy unto salvation.”279

Cardinal Ratzinger: “It must therefore be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith that the universal salvific will of the One and Triune God is offered and accomplished once for all in the mystery of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Son of God.”280

Compendium of the Catechism: “Hell consists in the eternal damnation of those who die in mortal sin through their own free choice.”281

Compendium of the Catechism: “How can one reconcile the existence of hell with the infinite goodness of God? God, while desiring ‘all to come to repentance’ (2 Peter 3:9), nevertheless has created the human person to be free and responsible; and he respects our decisions. Therefore, it is the human person who freely excludes himself from communion with God if at the moment of death he persists in mortal sin and refuses the merciful love of God.”282

The Council of Florence: “But the souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go down straightaway to hell to be punished, but with unequal pains.”283

The Second Council of Lyons: “The souls of those who die in mortal sin or with original sin only, however, immediately descend to hell, yet to be punished with different punishments.”284

Pope Saint Pius X: “Baptism is absolutely necessary to salvation; for our Lord has expressly said: ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.’ “285

Letter of the Holy Office to Archbishop Cushing of Boston, approved by Pope Pius XII, August 8, 1949: “The Supreme Pontiff, His Holiness, Pope Pius XII, has given full approval to this decision”:
“Therefore, that one may obtain eternal salvation, it is not always required that he be incorporated into the Church actually as a member, but it is necessary that at least he be united to her by desire and longing. However, this desire need not always be explicit, as it is in catechumens; but when a person is involved in invincible ignorance God accepts also an implicit desire, so called because it is included in that good disposition of soul whereby a person wishes his will to be conformed to the will of God. These things are clearly taught in that dogmatic letter which was issued by the Sovereign Pontiff, Pope Pius XII, on June 29, 1943, ‘On the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ’ (AAS, Vol. 35, an. 1943, p. 193 ff.). For in this letter the Sovereign Pontiff clearly distinguishes between those who are actually incorporated into the Church as members, and those who are united to the Church only by desire.”286

Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament.”287

Pope Pius IX: 7. “Here, too, our beloved sons and venerable brothers, it is again necessary to mention and censure a very grave error entrapping some Catholics who believe that it is possible to arrive at eternal salvation although living in error and alienated from the true faith and Catholic unity. Such belief is certainly opposed to Catholic teaching. There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace. Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments.”288

8. “Also well-known is the Catholic teaching that no one can be saved outside the Catholic Church. Eternal salvation cannot be obtained by those who oppose the authority and statements of the same Church and are stubbornly separated from the unity of the Church and also from the successor of Peter, the Roman Pontiff, to whom ‘the custody of the vineyard has been committed by the Savior.'[4] The words of Christ are clear enough: ‘If he refuses to listen even to the Church, let him be to you a Gentile and a tax collector;'[5] ‘He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you, rejects me, and he who rejects me, rejects him who sent me;'[6] ‘He who does not believe will be condemned;'[7] ‘He who does not believe is already condemned;'[8] ‘He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.'[9] The Apostle Paul says that such persons are ‘perverted and self-condemned;'[10] the Prince of the Apostles calls them ‘false teachers … who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master … bringing upon themselves swift destruction.'[11]”289

9. “God forbid that the children of the Catholic Church should even in any way be unfriendly to those who are not at all united to us by the same bonds of faith and love. On the contrary, let them be eager always to attend to their needs with all the kind services of Christian charity, whether they are poor or sick or suffering any other kind of visitation. First of all, let them rescue them from the darkness of the errors into which they have unhappily fallen and strive to guide them back to Catholic truth and to their most loving Mother who is ever holding out her maternal arms to receive them lovingly back into her fold. Thus, firmly founded in faith, hope, and charity and fruitful in every good work, they will gain eternal salvation.”290
4. Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in its letter to Pope [Saint] Leo [I, the great].
5. Mt 15:17
6. Lk 10:16
7. Mk 16:16
8. Jn 3:18
9. Lk 11:23
10. Ti 3:11
11. 2 Pt 2:1

Pope Pius XII: “As you know, Venerable Brethren, from the very beginning of Our Pontificate, We have committed to the protection and guidance of heaven those who do not belong to the visible Body of the Catholic Church, solemnly declaring that after the example of the Good Shepherd We desire nothing more ardently than that they may have life and have it more abundantly.[194] Imploring the prayers of the whole Church We wish to repeat this solemn declaration in this Encyclical Letter in which We have proclaimed the praises of the ‘great and glorious Body of Christ'[195] and from a heart overflowing with love We ask each and every one of them to correspond to the interior movements of grace, and to seek to withdraw from that state in which they cannot be sure of their salvation.[196] For even though by an unconscious desire and longing they have a certain relationship with the Mystical Body of the Redeemer, they still remain deprived of those many heavenly gifts and helps which can only be enjoyed in the Catholic Church. Therefore may they enter into Catholic unity and, joined with Us in the one, organic Body of Jesus Christ, may they together with us run on to the one Head in the Society of glorious love.[197] Persevering in prayer to the Spirit of love and truth, We wait for them with open and outstretched arms to come not to a stranger’s house, but to their own, their father’s home.”291
[194] Cf. Encyclical Letter, Summi Pontificatus: A.A.S., 1939, p. 419.
[195] Iren., Adv. Haer., IV, 33, 7: Migne, P.G., VII, 1076.
[196] Cf. Pius IX, Iam Vos Omnes, 13 Sept. 1868: Act. Conc. Vat., C.L.VII, 10.
[197] Cf. Gelas. I, Epist., XIV: Migne, P.L. LIX, 89.

Saint Thomas Aquinas: “man receives the forgiveness of sins before Baptism in so far as he has Baptism of desire, explicitly or implicitly; and yet when he actually receives Baptism, he receives a fuller remission, as to the remission of the entire punishment. So also before Baptism Cornelius and others like him receive grace and virtues through their faith in Christ and their desire for Baptism, implicit or explicit: but afterwards when baptized, they receive a yet greater fullness of grace and virtues. Hence in Psalm 22:2, ‘He hath brought me up on the water of refreshment,’ a gloss says: ‘He has brought us up by an increase of virtue and good deeds in Baptism.’ “292

Saint Alphonsus Liguori: “Baptism of desire is perfect conversion to God by contrition or love of God above all things accompanied by an explicit or implicit desire for true baptism of water, the place of which it takes as to the remission of guilt, but not as to the impression of the [baptismal] character or as to the removal of all debt of punishment.”293

Pope Pius IX: “Faith orders Us to hold that out of the Apostolic Roman Church no person can be saved, that it is the only ark of salvation, and that whoever will not enter therein shall perish in the waters of the deluge. On the other hand it is necessary to hold for certain that ignorance of the true religion, if that ignorance be invincible, is not a fault in the eyes of God. But who will presume to arrogate to himself the right to mark the limits of such an ignorance, holding in account the various conditions of peoples, of countries, of minds, and of the infinite multiplicity of human things?”294

The Catechism of Pope Saint Pius X: “Q. But if a man through no fault of his own is outside the Church, can he be saved? A. If he is outside the Church through no fault of his, that is, if he is in good faith, and if he has received Baptism, or at least has the implicit desire of Baptism; and if, moreover, he sincerely seeks the truth and does God’s will as best he can such a man is indeed separated from the body of the Church, but is united to the soul of the Church and consequently is on the way of salvation.”295

The Catechism of Pope Saint Pius X: “Q. Can the absence of Baptism be supplied in any other way? A. The absence of Baptism can be supplied by martyrdom, which is called Baptism of Blood, or by an act of perfect love of God, or of contrition, along with the desire, at least implicit, of Baptism, and this is called Baptism of Desire.”296

Vatican II: “Conscience frequently errs from invincible ignorance without losing its dignity. The same cannot be said for a man who cares but little for truth and goodness, or for a conscience which by degrees grows practically sightless as a result of habitual sin.”297

Vatican II: “Respect and love ought to be extended also to those who think or act differently than we do in social, political and even religious matters. In fact, the more deeply we come to understand their ways of thinking through such courtesy and love, the more easily will we be able to enter into dialogue with them. This love and good will, to be sure, must in no way render us indifferent to truth and goodness. Indeed love itself impels the disciples of Christ to speak the saving truth to all men. But it is necessary to distinguish between error, which always merits repudiation, and the person in error, who never loses the dignity of being a person even when he is flawed by false or inadequate religious notions. God alone is the judge and searcher of hearts, for that reason He forbids us to make judgments about the internal guilt of anyone.”298

Vatican II: “This love and good will, to be sure, must in no way render us indifferent to truth and goodness. Indeed love itself impels the disciples of Christ to speak the saving truth to all men. But it is necessary to distinguish between error, which always merits repudiation, and the person in error, who never loses the dignity of being a person even when he is flawed by false or inadequate religious notions. God alone is the judge and searcher of hearts, for that reason He forbids us to make judgments about the internal guilt of anyone.”299

Good Friday Prayer for the Pope

“Let us pray for our most Holy Father Pope N., that our God and Lord, who chose him for the Order of Bishops, may keep him safe and unharmed for the Lord’s holy Church, to govern the holy People of God. Almighty and ever-living God, by whose decree all things are founded, look with favor on our prayers and in your kindness protect the Pope chosen for us, that, under him, the Christian people, governed by you their maker, may grow in merit by reason of their faith. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”300


Compilation of quotes, editing, and commentary
Copyright 2021 Ronald L. Conte Jr.
All Rights Reserved.


1 Free standing quotations from Sacred Scripture are from the Catholic Public Domain Version; Scripture within quotes are from the quoted source.
2 Pope Saint Clement, First Letter to the Corinthians, 59, 1; in: Fortescue, Adrian. The Early Papacy (p. 45). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
3 Pope Clement of Rome, Letter to the Corinthians, n. 63.
4 Saint Irenaeus, III c. 3, n. 2; in Fortescue, Adrian. The Early Papacy (p. 73). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
5 Saint Irenaeus, Against Heresies, IV, 26, 2; in: Fortescue, Adrian. The Early Papacy (p. 70). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
6 Saint Irenaeus, Against Heresies, IV, 26, 5; in: Fortescue, Adrian. The Early Papacy (p. 70). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
7 Willis, The Teachings of the Church Fathers, n. 172.
8 Bellarmine, Robert. On the Roman Pontiff, vol. 2: Books III-V (De Controversiis) (p. 160). Mediatrix Press. Kindle Edition.
9 Origenes, Comment. in Matt., tom. xii., n. ii; quoted by Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum, 12.
10 Pope Benedict XV, In Hac Tanta, On Saint Boniface, n. 19.
11 Ray, Stephen K.. Upon This Rock (Modern Apologetics Library) (p. 76). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition. Location 1548.
12 Ray, Stephen K.. Upon This Rock (Modern Apologetics Library) (p. 78). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition. Location 1591.
13 Saint Cyprian, Letters LXX, 3; found in: Fortescue, Adrian. The Early Papacy (p. 38). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
14 Saint Cyprian, On the Unity of the Catholic Church, 13-14 (C.S.E.L. III, 222). Fortescue, Adrian. The Early Papacy (p. 60). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
15 Saint Cyprian, Epistle LXVI, 8; in: Fortescue, Adrian. The Early Papacy (p. 60). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
16 Pope Saint Lucius I, Epistle I ad Episcopos Hispaniae et Galliae; quoted from the book: Bellarmine, Robert. On the Roman Pontiff, vol. 2: Books III-V (De Controversiis) (p. 157). Mediatrix Press. Kindle Edition.
17 Bellarmine, Robert. On the Roman Pontiff, vol. 2: Books III-V (De Controversiis) (p. 157-158). Mediatrix Press. Kindle Edition.
18 Theodoret, Epistola ad Renatum Presbyterum Romanum
19 Pope Saint Julius I, Letter to the Bishops of the East, Ep. ad orient.; in Fortescue, Adrian. The Early Papacy (p. 50). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
20 Pope Saint Julius I, Socrates II, 17; in Fortescue, Adrian. The Early Papacy (p. 50). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
21 local Council of Sardica, in 344, writing to Pope Saint Julius I; in Fortescue, Adrian. The Early Papacy (p. 50). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition. Note that in the early Church, Bishops were often called priests (“sacerdotes” in Latin).
22 Saint Ephrem the Syrian, Doctor, in: Fortescue, Adrian. The Early Papacy (p. 70). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
23 Saint Ambrose, De Fide, book 4, n. 56.
24 Saint Optatus of Milevis, Epistles, II, c. 3: in: Fortescue, Adrian. The Early Papacy (p. 40). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
25 Saint Optatus of Milevis, Epistles, II, c. 5: in: Fortescue, Adrian. The Early Papacy (p. 40). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
26 Saint Jerome, Contra. Lucif., 9.; quoted from the encyclical of Pope Benedict XV, In Hac Tanta, 14 May 1919;
27 Ray, Stephen K.. Upon This Rock (Modern Apologetics Library) (pp. 85-86). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
28 Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, 22 February 2006;
29 Ray, Stephen K.. Upon This Rock (Modern Apologetics Library) (p. 85). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition. Location 1749.
30 Saint Basil, Epistle 70 (PG XXXII, 435) in: Fortescue, Adrian. The Early Papacy (p. 53). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
31 Pope Saint Damasus I, at local Roman Synod, Mansi III, 624. See also: Fortescue, Adrian. The Early Papacy (pp. 53-54). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
32 Pope Siricius writes to Himerius of Tarragona; Epistle 1 (PL XIII, 1133), in: Fortescue, Adrian. The Early Papacy (p. 54). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
33 Pope Saint Innocent I writing to the Council of Carthage in 417; in: Fortescue, Adrian. The Early Papacy (pp. 54-55). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
34 Willis, The Teachings of the Church Fathers, n. 171.
35 Ray, Stephen K.. Upon This Rock (Modern Apologetics Library) (p. 92). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
36 Saint Augustine, Letters 43, 7 (PL XXXIII, 163), in: Fortescue, Adrian. The Early Papacy (p. 41). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
37 Saint Augustine, PL XXXVI, 122; in: Fortescue, Adrian. The Early Papacy (p. 70). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
38 Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on John, in: Ray, Stephen K.. Upon This Rock (Modern Apologetics Library) (p. 94). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
39 Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on John, in: Ray, Stephen K.. Upon This Rock (Modern Apologetics Library) (p. 94). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
40 Saint Peter Chrysologus, found in ; quoted from the book: Bellarmine, Robert. On the Roman Pontiff, vol. 2: Books III-V (De Controversiis) (p. 159). Mediatrix Press. Kindle Edition.
41 Pope Zosimus, Letter “Quamvis Patrim” to the synod of Carthage, March 21, 418; pp. 81-82, Denzinger, n. 221.
42 Pope Boniface I, Letter “Manet Beatum” to Rufus and the Other Bishops in Macedonia; March 11, 422; Denzinger n. 235.
43 Pope Saint Boniface I, Letter to the Bishop of Thessalonica, Denzinger 422.
44 Pope Saint Boniface I, Epistle XIV; in: Fortescue, Adrian. The Early Papacy (p. 66). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
45 Pope Saint Celestine I, Epistle XXI, 11, 12; in: Fortescue, Adrian. The Early Papacy (p. 77). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
46 Emperor Valentinian III, Ad Theodosium in Pope Saint Leo I Epistles LV; in: Fortescue, Adrian. The Early Papacy (p. 77). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
47 Pope Leo the great, quotation from the book: Bellarmine, Robert. On the Roman Pontiff, vol. 2: Books III-V (De Controversiis) (p. 157). Mediatrix Press. Kindle Edition.
48 Pope Saint Leo I, Sermon III, c. 2; in: Fortescue, Adrian. The Early Papacy (pp. 55-56). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
49 Bellarmine, Robert. On the Roman Pontiff, vol. 2: Books III-V (De Controversiis) (p. 161). Mediatrix Press. Kindle Edition.
50 Bellarmine, Robert. On the Roman Pontiff, vol. 2: Books III-V (De Controversiis) (p. 197). See also: Bellarmine, Robert. Papal Error?: A Defense of Popes said to have Erred in Faith. (p. 41). Mediatrix Press. Kindle Edition.
51 Manning, The Vatican Council and Its Definitions; p. 88.
52 Saint Gregory the great; Lib. 7, Epistle 37 ad Eulogium
53 Saint Gregory the great; quoted from the book: Bellarmine, Robert. On the Roman Pontiff, vol. 2: Books III-V (De Controversiis) (p. 161). Mediatrix Press. Kindle Edition.
54 Saint Maximus the Confessor, Opuscula theo.: PG 91 137-140; in: Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 834.
55 Lateran Council of 649, a local not an Ecumenical Council.
56 Pope Saint Vitalian, The Deeds of the Bishops of England, by Guilelmus, William of Malmesbury, Guillaume of Malmesbury, William Henley Jervis, Geoffrey de Malmesbury, Boydell Press, 2002, p. 34-35;
57 Manning, The Vatican Council and Its Definitions; p. 83.
58 Pope Honorius I, The Deeds of the Bishops of England, p. 33-34.
59 Chapman, J. (1910). Pope Honorius I. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
60 Denzinger-Hunermann, n. 498.
61 See Denz.-H, 519, footnote 1.
62 Bellarmine, Robert. Papal Error?: A Defense of Popes said to have Erred in Faith (pp. 47-48). Mediatrix Press. Kindle Edition.
63 Bellarmine, Robert. Papal Error?: A Defense of Popes said to have Erred in Faith (p. 50). Mediatrix Press. Kindle Edition.
64 Bellarmine, Robert. Papal Error?: A Defense of Popes said to have Erred in Faith (pp. 51-52). Mediatrix Press. Kindle Edition.
65 Bellarmine, Robert. Papal Error?: A Defense of Popes said to have Erred in Faith (p. 57). Mediatrix Press. Kindle Edition.
66 Pope Saint Agatho, Letter accepted into the Acts of the Ecumenical Council Constantinople III.
67 Pope Saint Agatho, Letter accepted into the Acts of the Ecumenical Council Constantinople III.
68 Letter of Pope Saint Agatho to the Sixth Ecumenical Council.
69 The Letter of Agatho, The Ecumenical Councils, Preface and Introduction; Edited from a variety of translations (mentioned in the preface) by H. R. Percival. Online version from: Elpenor In Print.
70 Roman Council 860 and 863; Denzinger 326.
71 Pope Saint Nicholas I, Letter Proposueramus quidem to Emperor Michael, 865; Denzinger n. 638.
72 Pope Saint Nicholas I, Letter Proposueramus quidem to Emperor Michael, 865; Denzinger n. 638-641.
73 Pope Saint Nicholas I, Letter Proposueramus quidem to Emperor Michael, 865; Denzinger n. 638-641.
74 Pope Saint Nicholas I, Epistlola ad Michaelem Imperatorem.
75 Pope Nicholas I. Letter Proposueramus quidem to Emperor Michael, September 28, 865; Denzinger 641.
76 Epistle: In Terra Pax Hominibus, 1053; Denzinger 351-353.
77 Pope Saint Leo IX, Epistle to Peter of Antioch; quoted in Bellarmine, Robert. On the Roman Pontiff, vol. 2: Books III-V (De Controversiis) (p. 158). Mediatrix Press. Kindle Edition.
78 In Terra Pax Hominibus, September 2, 1053; Denz. 351.
79 Saint Bernard, Epistle 190 ad Innocentium
80 Pope Innocent III, Epistle to the Bishop of Arles; quoted from the book: Bellarmine, Robert. On the Roman Pontiff, vol. 2: Books III-V (De Controversiis) (p. 158). Mediatrix Press. Kindle Edition.
81 Pope Innocent III, Apostolicae Sedis Primatus (November 12, 1199).
82 Pope Innocent III, Apostolicae Sedis Primatus (November 12, 1199); Denz. 775.
83 The Dominicans and the Pope: Papal Teaching Authority in the Medieval and Early Modern Thomist Tradition, Ulrich Horst, O.P. , page 18.
84 Saint Thomas Aquinas, Contra Errores Graecorum, pars 2, cap. 38;
85 Catena Aurea of Saint Thomas on Mt 16:18; edited by the author
86 Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-II, Q. 39, A. 1.
87 Pope Clement VI, Letter Super quibusdam to the Mekhithar (Consolator), Catholiciso of the Armenians, September 29, 1351; Denzinger 1056.
88 Pope Gregory XI, Errors of John Wycliffe, n. 19, Condemned in the Letter Super periculosis to the Bishops of Canterbury and London, May 22, 1377; Denzinger 1139.
89 Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam, 1302, n. 1-9; approved and confirmed by Lateran V.
90 Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, De Consideratione, Lib. iv. c. 3; translation of the Latin found in: Dr. Johann Karl Ludwig Gieseler, A Text-book of Church History, (Harper Brothers: New York, 1857), p. 351.
91 English text from: Dionysius the Areopagite, Works (1897), Volume 2, The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, chapter 5, section 4;
92 Hugh of Saint Victor, De Sacramentis, II. 2, 4. Translation of the Latin found in: Rev. Johannes Baptist Alzog, Manual of Universal Church History, Volume 2, (Gill and Son: Dublin, 1890), p. 448-449.
93 Pope Leo X, Fifth Lateran Council, Session 11, 19 December 1516.
94 The Catechism of the Council of Trent, 103; second revised edition, MacHugh and Cullan, 1923, reprint by TAN books in 1982; in: Ray, Stephen K.. Upon This Rock (Modern Apologetics Library) (pp. 97-98). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
95 The Catechism of the Council of Trent, 104; in: Ray, Stephen K.. Upon This Rock (Modern Apologetics Library) (pp. 97-98). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
96 Pope Pius XII, Mystical Body of Christ, 40.
97 Bellarmine, Robert. On the Roman Pontiff, vol. 2: Books III-V (De Controversiis) (p. 156). Mediatrix Press.
98 Bellarmine, Robert. On the Roman Pontiff, vol. 2: Books III-V (De Controversiis) (p. 159). Mediatrix Press. Kindle Edition.
99 Bellarmine, Robert. On the Roman Pontiff, vol. 2: Books III-V (De Controversiis) (p. 162). Mediatrix Press. Kindle Edition.
100 Ibid.
101 Bellarmine, Robert. On the Roman Pontiff (De Controversiis Book 1) . Mediatrix Press. Kindle Edition.
102 Ibid.
103 Bellarmine, Robert. On the Roman Pontiff, vol. 2: Books III-V (De Controversiis) (p. 153). Mediatrix Press. Kindle Edition.
104 Bellarmine, Robert. On the Roman Pontiff, vol. 2: Books III-V (De Controversiis) (p. 171). Mediatrix Press. Kindle Edition.
105 Ibid.
106 Ibid.
107 On Councils, book II, chapter 2.
108 Saint Robert Bellarmine, De Controversiis, On the Church, Book II, trans. Ryan Grant, Mediatrix Press, 2017, chapter 2, p. 122.
109 Bellarmine, Robert. On the Roman Pontiff, vol. 2: Books III-V (De Controversiis) (p. 152). Mediatrix Press. Kindle Edition.
110 Bellarmine, Robert. On the Roman Pontiff, vol. 2: Books III-V (De Controversiis) (p. 172). Mediatrix Press. Kindle Edition.
111 Ott, The Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma Revised and Updated Edition (London: Baronius Press, 2018), p. 321.
112 Blessed Pope Pius IX, Syllabus of Errors, n. 22.
113 Blessed Pope Pius IX, Syllabus of Errors, 23.
114 Relatio of Vatican I, Bishop Vincent Gasser, 005;
115 Bishop Vincent Gasser, Relatio of Vatican I, 007.
116 Bishop Vincent Gasser, Relatio of Vatican I, 008.
117 Relatio of Vatican I, Bishop Vincent Gasser, 009.
118 Relatio of Vatican I, Bishop Vincent Gasser, 010.
119 Relatio of Vatican I, Bishop Vincent Gasser, 010.
120 Relatio of Vatican I, Bishop Vincent Gasser, 010.
121 Relatio of Vatican I, Bishop Vincent Gasser, 013.
122 Relatio of Vatican I, Bishop Vincent Gasser, 014.
123 Relatio of Vatican I, Bishop Vincent Gasser, 015.
124 Relatio of Vatican I, Bishop Vincent Gasser, 023.
125 Bishop Vincent Gasser, Relatio of Vatican I, 026.
126 Relatio of Vatican I, Gasser, 029.
127 Relatio of Vatican I, Gasser, 029.
128 Bellarmine, Robert. On the Roman Pontiff, vol. 2: Books III-V (De Controversiis) (p. 171). Mediatrix Press. Kindle Edition.
129 Bishop Vincent Gasser, Relatio of Vatican I, 040.
130 Cardinal Manning, “The Vatican Council and Its Definitions: A Pastoral Letter to the Clergy”, p. 83-84.
131 Ibid.
132 Ibid.
133 Cardinal Edward Manning, Petri Privilegium, n. 83.
134 Saint John Henry Newman, Sermon 15: “The Pope and the Revolution,” preached in 1866 at the Birmingham Oratory. From: Sermons Preached on Various Occasions; quoted from Dave Armstrong’s blog, Biblical Evidence for Catholicism, 27 Dec 2017;
135 Saint John Henry Newman, Letter to Lady Simeon, 10 November 1867; courtesy of James C. at Dave Armstrong’s blog above.
136 Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Libertas, June 20, 1888, n. 27;
137 Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum, 9.
138 Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum, 10 to 16.
139 Pope Saint Pius X, The Oath Against Modernism, 1920.
140 Pope Saint Pius X, Jucunda Sane, n. 7; inner quote from Pope Saint Gregory.
141 Pope Saint Pius X, Jucunda Sane, n. 8.
142 Pope Saint Pius X, Speech, 18 November 1912; Address of the Holy Father Pius X to the Priests of the Apostolic Union on the Occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Foundation.
143 Pope Saint Pius X, Speech, 18 November 1912.
144 Pope Saint Pius X, Speech, 18 November 1912.
145 Pope Saint Pius X, Speech, 18 November 1912.
146 Pope Saint Pius X, Speech, 18 November 1912.
147 Pope Saint Pius X, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, n. 1.
148 Pope Saint Pius X, Haerent Animo, 31.
149 Pope Saint Pius X, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, n. 1.
150 Pope Saint Pius X, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, n. 2.
151 Pope Saint Pius X, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, n. 18.
152 Pope Saint Pius X, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, n. 25.
153 Pope Benedict XV, Principi Apostolorum Petro, n. 1.
154 Pope Benedict XV, Principi Apostolorum Petro, n. 2.
155 Pope Benedict XV, Principi Apostolorum Petro, n. 3.
156 Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum, 24.
157 Pope Pius XI, Dilectissima Nobis, n. 18, 26.
158 Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii, 104.
159 Pope Pius IX, allocution: Singulari Quadam.
160 Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos, n. 11-12.
161 Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis Christi, n. 44-41.
162 Pope Pius XII, Mediator Dei.
163 Pope Saint Paul VI, Apostolic Letter Solemni Hac Liturgia, n. 20-21.
164 Secret Consistory of the Holy Father Paul VI for the Appointment of Twenty Cardinals, Monday, May 24, 1976, n. 2;
165 Pope Saint Paul VI, Letter to Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, 11 October 1976. The text of the Pope’s letter has been taken from Origins, NC Documentary Service: December 16, 1976, by the blog “If I Might Interject”; Original Source: James Likoudis and Kenneth D. Whitehead, The Pope, the Council, and the Mass: Answers to Questions the “Traditionalists” Have Asked, Revised Edition (Steubenville, OH: Emmaus Road Publishing, 2006), 345–355. Online text here.
166 Blessed Pope John Paul I, Inauguration of Petrine Ministry, 3 September 1978.
167 Blessed Pope John Paul I, Possession of the Chair of the Bishop of Rome, 23 September 1978.
168 Blessed Pope John Paul I, General Audience, 13 September 1978.
169 Pope Saint John Paul II, General Audience, 30 May 1979; Inner quote from St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, II, 24, 1.
170 Pope Saint John Paul II, 22 February 2000, Homily of the Holy Father;
171 Bishop Gasser has a different wording for this quote from Innocent III than in the current 43rd edition of Denz.-H.
172 Pope Saint John Paul II, “Peter strengthens his brothers in faith,” General Audience, Wednesday 2 December 1992.
173 Pope Saint John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Spiritus et Sponsa, 2003, n. 7.
174 Pope Saint John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, Novo Millennio Ineunte, n. 57.
175 Pope Saint John Paul II, 22 February 2000, Homily of the Holy Father.
176 Pope John Paul II, Address to the Associations of Saints Peter and Paul, 16 June 2001.
177 Pope Saint John Paul II, Audience, 2 December 1992; inner quote from Pope Innocent III.
178 Pope Saint John Paul II, Encyclical Ut Unum Sint, 25 May 1995;
179 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Mass in honor of (deceased) Popes Paul VI and John Paul I, Homily, 28 September 2004;
180 Cardinal Ratzinger, CDF, Donum Veritatis, n. 17.
181 Donum Veritatis, n. 17.
182 Ratzinger, CDF, Donum Veritatis, n. 23.
183 Donum Veritatis, n. 24.
184 Donum Veritatis, n. 27.
185 Donum Veritatis, n. 29.
186 Donum Veritatis, n. 34.
187 Cardinal Ratzinger, The Primacy of the Successor of Peter in the Mystery of the Church, n. 3.
188 Primacy of the Successor of Peter in the Mystery of the Church, n. 6.
189 Primacy of the Successor of Peter in the Mystery of the Church 7.
190 Primacy of the Successor of Peter in the Mystery of the Church, n. 9.
191 Primacy of the Successor of Peter in the Mystery of the Church, n. 10.
192 Primacy of the Successor of Peter in the Mystery of the Church, n. 12.
193 Primacy of the Successor of Peter in the Mystery of the Church, n. 13.
194 Primacy of the Successor of Peter in the Mystery of the Church, n. 15.
195 Primacy of the Successor of Peter in the Mystery of the Church 15; inner quote from Pope Saint John Paul II, Ut Unum Sint, 97.
196 Cardinal Ratzinger, Dominus Jesus, n. 16; Inner quote from Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 8.
197 Dominus Jesus, n. 17.
198 Dominus Jesus, n. 17; quoting Cardinal Seper, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Mysterium Ecclesiae, n. 1.
199 Duplicate quote removed.
200 Pope Benedict XVI, Homily, 29 June 2006;
201 Pope Benedict XVI, Homily, 9 February 2012;
202 Pope Benedict XVI, Homily, 21 April 2011;
203 Cardinal William Levada, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, April 18, 2012; citing Pope Benedict XVI;
204 Pope Francis, Address to Members of Italy’s National Catechetical Office, Jan. 30, 2021;
205 Ibid.
206 Ibid.
207 Pope Francis, Letter of the Holy Father Francis to the Bishops of the Whole World, that Accompanies the Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Data “Traditionis Custodes”;
208 Holy Mass on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God; 47th World Day Of Peace; Homily Of Pope Francis, Wednesday, 1st January 2014;
209 Pope Francis, Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Saint Irenaeus Joint Orthodox-Catholic Working Group, 7 October 2021;
210 Pope Saint John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, n. 43; citing Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 64.
211 Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, 64.
212 Council of Chalcedon, Acts II, Harduin II, 306; in: Fortescue, Adrian. The Early Papacy (p. 78). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
213 Fourth Lateran Council, n. 2. On Abbot Joachim
214 Fourth Lateran Council, Constitutions, Profession of Faith, n. 1.
215 Labbe, Concil. tom. xiv. p. 512. Venice, 1731.
216 Council of Florence, Session 13; 30 Nov. 1444.
217 Council of Florence, Session 6; 6 July 1439.
218 Council of Florence, Denz.-H, 1309.
219 Fifth Lateran Council, 19 December 1516.
220 Fifth Lateran Council, 19 December 1516.
221 Fifth Lateran Council, 19 December 1516.
222 Council of Trent, Chapter IV, On the Canon of the Mass.
223 Blessed Pope Pius IX, Etsi Multa 22.
224 Vatican I, Profession of Faith, Second Session.
225 Vatican I, Dei Filius, chapter 4, n. 14.
226 Vatican I, Dei Filius, chapter 4, n. 14; Note 36.
227 Vatican I, Dei Filius, Introduction, n. 1.
228 Vatican I, Dei Filius, Introduction, n. 5.
229 Vatican I, Dei Filius, Introduction, n. 9.
230 Vatican I, Dei Filius, chapter 3, n. 1.
231 Vatican I, Dei Filius, chapter 3, n. 2.
232 Vatican I, Dei Filius, chapter 3, n. 10.
233 Vatican I, Dei Filius, chapter 3, n. 13.
234 Vatican I, Dei Filius, chapter 4, 8-9.
235 Vatican I, Dei Filius, closing comments.
236 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Introduction, 1.
237 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Introduction, 2.
238 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Introduction, 3.
239 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Introduction, 4.
240 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Introduction, 5.
241 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Introduction, 6.
242 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Introduction, 7.
243 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 1, n. 1
244 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 1, n. 2-3.
245 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 1, n. 4.
246 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 1, n. 5.
247 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 2, n. 1.
248 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 2, n. 2.
249 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 2, n. 3.
250 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 2, n. 4.
251 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 2, n. 5.
252 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 3, n. 1.
253 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 3, n. 2.
254 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 3, n. 3.
255 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 3, n. 4.
256 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 3, n. 8.
257 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 3, n. 9.
258 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 4, n. 1.
259 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 4, n. 2.
260 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 4, n. 3.
261 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 4, n. 4.
262 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 4, n. 5.
263 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 4, n. 6.
264 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 4, n. 6.
265 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 4, n. 7.
266 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 4, n. 8.
267 First Vatican Council, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 4, n. 9; from Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, ed. Norman Tanner. S.J.
268 Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, 22.
269 Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium 22.
270 Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium 25.
271 Pope Saint John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, n. 10, in its entirety.
272 Pope Saint John Paul II, General Audience, May 31, 1995, in its entirety.
273 Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1037.
274 Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, 281; inner quote from: the film Pope Francis: A Man of His Word, by Wim Wenders (2018).
275 Mexican journalist, TV host, and book author, questioning Pope Francis during in-flight press conference.
276 Pope Francis, in-flight press conference, 27 September 2015, after Apostolic Journey of His Holiness Pope Francis to Cuba, to the United States of America.
277 Pope Pius XII, Address to Midwives, n. 21.a;
278 Pope Pius XII, Address to Midwives, 21a.
279 Pope Innocent III, Denzinger, n. 410.
280 Cardinal Ratzinger, “Dominus Jesus” (On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church), n. 14.
281 Compendium of the Catechism, n. 212.
282 Compendium of the Catechism, n. 213.
283 Florence, Sixth Session, 6 July 1439.
284 Second Council of Lyons, Denzinger, n. 464.
285 Pope Pius X, Catechism, On Baptism, Q. 16.
286 Letter of the Holy Office to the Archbishop of Boston, DS 3870; ND 855 (1949).
287 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1258.
288 Pope Pius IX, Quanto Conficiamur Moerore, n. 7.
289 Pope Pius IX, Quanto Conficiamur Moerore, n. 8.
290 Pope Pius IX, Quanto Conficiamur Moerore, n. 9.
291 Pope Pius XII, Mystical Body of Christ, n. 103.
292 Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica III, Q. 68, A. 4, Reply to Objection 2.
293 Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Moral Theology, Book 6, Section II (About Baptism and Confirmation), Chapter 1 (On Baptism), page 310, no. 96.
294 Pope Pius IX, allocution: Singulari Quadam.
295 Catechism of Pope Saint Pius X, The Creed, Ninth Article, The Church in Particular: 29
296 Catechism of Pope Saint Pius X, Baptism, Necessity of Baptism and Obligations of the Baptized, 17.
297 Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, 16.
298 Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, 28.
299 Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, 28.
300 The Solemn Intercessions at the Good Friday Celebration of Our Lord’s Passion, II. For the Pope.
301 Saint Cyprian, Epistle LIV, 14; in: The Epistles of Saint Cyprian, 1885, Roberts, Donaldson, and Coxe.
302 Francisco Suarez, Defensio Fidei Catholicae Adversus Anglicanae Sectae Errores , chap. 5, n. 7.
303 Fifth Lateran Council, Session 2.
304 Pope Saint Pius X, Major Catechism (Catechismo Maggiore) of 1905, n. 204. Original Italian text: Come deve comportarsi ogni cattolico verso il Papa? Ogni cattolico deve riconoscere il Papa, qual Padre, Pastore e Maestro universale e stare a lui unito di mente e di cuore.
305 Pope Saint Pius X, Oath Against Modernism, 1910.
306 Saint Theodore of Studium. Letter to Pope Leo III, Migne, PG 99:1017. Quote and descriptive text thanks to Dr. Robert Fastiggi, Ph.D.
307 Mansi, 10, 893 [Greek] 894 [Latin]; cited in Martin Jugie, AA, Le Schisme Byzantin (Paris: Lethielleux, 1941), 78). [Scriptural chapters and verses added]. Quote and related information thanks to Dr. Robert Fastiggi, Ph.D.
308 Migne, PG 91:144. PG =Patrologiae Cursus Completus, Series Graeca ed. J.-P. Migne (Paris, 1857ff). Quote and descriptive text thanks to Dr. Robert Fastiggi, Ph.D.
309 Flavian, Letter to Leo I on the heresy of Eutyches in Mansi, 5:1255 [Latin] 1256 [Greek]. Mansi = J.D. Mansi, ed. Sanctorum Conciliorum Nova et Amplissima Collectio (Florence, 1759ff). Quote and related information thanks to Dr. Robert Fastiggi, Ph.D.
310 Pope Leo XIII, Apostolic Letter to the Archbishop of Paris; Epistola Tua, (1885). Source: Acta Sanctae Sedis XVIII (1885): pp. 3-9. Translation into English by Novus Ordo Watch and Mother E. O’Gorman, RSCJ, in Benedictine Monks of Solesmes, eds., Papal Teachings: The Church (Boston, MA: St. Paul Editions, 1962).
311 Pope Leo XIII, Apostolic Letter to the Archbishop of Tours; Est Sane Molestum (1888). Source: Acta Sanctae Sedis XXI (1888): pp. 321-323. Translation into English by Novus Ordo Watch and Mother E. O’Gorman, RSCJ, in Benedictine Monks of Solesmes, eds., Papal Teachings: The Church (Boston, MA: St. Paul Editions, 1962). Note that this translation of a papal document by the schismatic (Sedevacantist) group Novus Ordo Watch and the previous one above (Epistola Tua 1885) were used by the group to argue against the “Recognize and Resist” schismatics and heretics. It is one schismatic group refuting another.
312 Francisco Suarez, De Fide, disp. 10, sect. 6, no. 10: Opera Omina, Vivès ed. Vol. XII, 319; Suarez quotes suggested by Dr. Robert Fastiggi.
313 Francisco Suarez, De Fide, disp. 5, sect. 8, no. 7: Opera Omina, Vivès ed. Vol. XII, 163.
314 Francisco Suarez, Secundo inferet non posse errare Pontificem in Sanctorum canonizatione; De Fide, disp. 5, sect. 8, no. 8: Opera Omina, Vivès ed. Vol. XII, 163.
315 Francisco Suarez, De Fide, disp. 5, sect. 7, no. 6: Opera Omina, Vivès ed. Vol. XII, 159.
316 Bellarmine, Robert. On the Roman Pontiff, vol. 2: Books III-V (De Controversiis) (p. 156). Mediatrix Press. Kindle Edition.
317 Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis Christi, n. 31.
318 Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis Christi, n. 54.
319 Catechism of the Council of Trent for Parish Priests, trans. McHugh and Callan, (New York: Joseph F. Wagner Inc., 1947), p. 333; Holy Orders, subsection “The Pope”.
320 Pope Saint John Paul II, Audience, 24 March 1993; translation from the Spanish by Google translate.
321 Pope Saint John Paul II, Audience, 24 March 1993; translation from the Spanish by Google translate. Note that “faith and customs” in the Google translation was changed by the author to “faith and morals” as a better translation (after consulting the Italian text of the same Audience).
322 Pope Saint John Paul II, Audience, 24 March 1993; translation from the Italian by Google translate. The translation of the Italian text was much clearer, for this quote, than the translation of the Spanish text.
323 Pope Saint John Paul II, Audience, 17 March 1993; translation from the Spanish by Google translate.
324 Pope Pius II, “Multa hic hodie,” 21 November 1459, Mantu, Italy. Full Citation: Michael Cotta-Schønberg. Oration “Multa hic hodie” of Pope Pius II (21 November 1459, Man-tua). Edited and translated by Michael von Cotta-Schönberg. 7th version. (Orations of Enea SilvioPiccolomini / Pope Pius II; 49). 2019. hal-01184531
325 Pope Francis, Apostolic Letter Mitis et misericors Iesus, n. 1.