Ante-nicene fathers

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Bishops of Rome



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10. It agrees with Tertullian’s testimony, and he speaks (as a lawyer and expert) from “the registers.” Irenaeus, speaking less precisely, may be harmonized with these testimonies without violence to what he reports.

N.B.—After a.d.325 the Bishops of Rome are canonical primates; the Bishops of New Rome primates equally, but second on the list; then Alexandria, Antioch, Ephesus. The Councils of Constantinople and Chalcedon state that these primacies were awarded because Rome and New Rome were the capitals of the oecumene, or empire. The primacy conferred no authority over the sister Sees of Apostolic foundation, and recognised no inequality among bishops, save those of such honorary distinction.

The Patriarchate.

1. From (a.d. 325) Sylvester to Gregory the Great, and his successor, who lived but one year, the Bishops of Rome were canonical primates.

2. Boniface III. accepted the court title of “Universal Bishop” (a.d. 606) from the Emperor Phocas, but it was not recognised by the Church.

3. From this time to Adrian I. many Bishops of Rome vied with those of Constantinople to augment their honour and power. The establishment of the Western Empire (a.d. 800) made their ambitious claims acceptable to the Latins; and they became primates of all Christendom in Western estimation, with extra-canonical and indefinite claims as “successors of St. Peter.”

4. Nicholas I. (a.d. 863), by means of the False Decretals, gave shape to these extra-canonical claims, abrogated the Nicene Constitutions in the West by making these Decretals canon-law, and asserted a supremacy over the old patriarchares, which they never allowed: hence the schism of the West from the Apostolic Sees of the East, and from the primitive discipline which established the Papacy, as now understood.

5. From Nicholas I. (who died a.d.867) the Latin churches recognised this Papacy more or less; the Gallicans resisting, though feebly, by asserting their “liberties,” according to Nicene Constitutions.

6. Gregory VII., honestly persuaded that the Decretals were authentic, enforced these spurious canons without reference to antiquity, and pronounced the title of “Pope” the sole and peculiar dignity of the Bishops of Rome a.d.1073. He reigned from a.d.1061 to 1085.

7. The churches of England and France, which claimed to be outside of the “holy Roman Empire,” under kings whose own crowns were “imperial,” maintained a perpetual contest with the Papacy, admitted the extra-canonical “primacy,” but resisted all claims to “supremacy.”

8. School-doctrines were framed and enforced, but were extra-symbolic, and of no Catholic authority. They abused the episcopate to exalt the Papacy.

9. The Council of Trent, after the Northern revolt from the Papacy and School-doctrine, sat seventeen years (from a.d.1545 to a.d.1563) framing the “Roman-Catholic Church” out of the remainder of national churches, depriving them of their nationalities, and making out of them all, with the missions in America, one mixed confederation, to which it gave a new creed and new organic laws; debasing the entire episcopate (which it denied to he an order distinct from that of presbyters), and making the Pope the “Universal Bishop,” with other bishops reduced to presbyters, acting as his local vicars.

10. The Gallicans feebly withstood these changes, and strove to maintain the primitive Constitutions by accommodations with their theory of the “Gallican liberties,” as founded by St. Louis.

11. Gallicanism was extinguished by Pope Pius IX., who proclaimed the Pope “infallible,” and thus raised his “supremacy” into an article of the Roman-Catholic faith.

12. The following is the modern creed of “Roman Catholics,” which, with the latest additions, embodies a library of dogmas in the eleventh article, and now, since the decree of Infallibility makes the entire Bullary (a vast library of decrees and definitions), equally part of the Creed.3

The Trentine Creed, or the Creed of Pius IV., a.d.1564.

1. I most stedfastly admit and embrace Apostolical and ecclesiastical traditions, and all other observances and constitutions of the Church.

2. I also admit the Holy Scripture according to that sense which our holy mother the Church has held, and does hold, to which it belongs to judge of the true sense and interpretations of the Scriptures. Neither will I ever take and interpret them otherwise than according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.

3. I also profess that there are truly and properly seven sacraments of the New Law, instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord, and necessary for the salvation of mankind, though not all for every one; to wit, Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Order, and Matrimony; and that they confer grace; and that of these, Baptism, Confirmation, and Order cannot be reiterated without sacrilege. I also receive and admit the received and approved ceremonies of the Catholic Church in the solemn administration of the aforesaid sacraments.

4. I embrace and receive all and every one of the things which have been defined and declared in the holy Council of Trent concerning original sin and justification.

5. I profess, likewise, that in the Mass there is offered to God a true, proper, and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead; and that in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist there is truly, really, and substantially, the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that there is made a conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the blood, which conversion the Catholic Church calls Transubstantiation. I also confess that under either kind alone Christ is received whole and entire, and a true sacrament.

6. I constantly hold that there is a Purgatory, and that the souls therein detained are helped by the suffrages of the faithful.

7. Likewise, that the saints, reigning together with Christ, are to be honoured and invocated, and that they offer prayers to God for us, and that their relics are to be respected.

8. I most firmly assert that the images of Christ, of the mother of God, ever virgin, and also of the saints, ought to be had and retained, and that due honour and veneration is to be given them.

9. I also affirm that the power of indulgences was left by Christ in the Church, and that the use of them is most wholesome to Christian people.

10. I acknowledge the Holy Catholic Apostolic Roman Church for the mother and mistress of all churches; and I promise true obedience to the Bishop of Rome, successor to St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and Vicar of Jesus Christ.

11. I likewise undoubtedly receive and profess all other things delivered, defined, and declared by the sacred Canons, and general Councils, and particularly by the holy Council of Trent.

12. And I condemn, reject, and anathematize all things contrary thereto, and all heresies whatsoever, condemned, rejected, and anathematized by the Church.

This true Catholic faith, without which no one can be saved, I N.N. do at this present freely confess and sincerely hold; and I promise most constantly to retain, and confess the same entire and unviolated, with God’s assistance, to the end of my life.

N. B.—(1) To this was added, Dec. 8, 1854, the new article of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, to be believed as necessary to salvation.

N. B.—(2) To which was added (December, 1864) the whole Syllabus

N. B.—(3) To which was added (July 18, 1870) the new dogma of Infallibility.

Observe, this “Creed” is imposed on all in the Roman Obedience, and especially on those who enter it from other communions, as that without which no one can be saved. The Catholic Creed of Nicaea is not sufficient. But the Seventh Canon of Ephesus not only forbids the composition of any other creed, but especially adds: “Those who shall presume to compose another creed, or to produce or offer it to persons desiring to return to the acknowledgment of the truth …from any heresy whatever, shall be deposed …if bishops or other clergy, and if they be laymen they shall be anathematized.”


Donation of Constantine, p. 607.

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