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Brady Wieland wrote:

Hi, guys —

I've appreciated all your responses to my questions. My understanding of the Catholic faith is expanding daily. I have another question for you.

A Protestant friend I've been discussing Catholicism with sent me this e-mail.

Please give me some ideas on how I should respond.



Over the past few days you've gotten me pretty interested so I've done some in depth research on the portion of Scripture that Catholics use to defend the papacy (Matthew 16) and its been very interesting.

I don't want to try and sum it up and make it all simple because it isn't, but one thing I've found that is troubling is that the spirit the papacy brings just isn't biblical.

Catholics say, We don't totally rely on what Scripture says, but what's troubling is when it justifies their actions they do rely on Scripture, and when it doesn't, they quickly rely on papal authority to justify something.

All that said, as I look deep into this one Scripture, you've got to really stretch and manipulate the true spirit of the text to make it read as Catholics wish.

I don't say that from just my opinion but that of trusted scholars. The deeper I look, the more upset I get because I really see themes of power and control behind the papacy, not themes of:

  • humility
  • servanthood, and
  • submission to Christ.

  { How do I reply to claim that the spirit of the Papacy isn't biblical, meaning humble or Christ-like? }

Mike replied:

Hi Brady,

Your friend said:
I don't want to try and sum it up and make it all simple because it isn't, but one thing I've found that is troubling is that the spirit the papacy brings just isn't biblical.

What I find interesting is your friends comment: the spirit the papacy brings just isn't biblical.

He doesn't say:

the Papacy isn't biblical but says,

the spirit of the Papacy isn't biblical

I see his point and at times throughout history he has been correct, but first:

  • Have you ever seen an organizational chart for a company?
The organizational chart for a company
  • The President is at the top, with an Administrative Assistant to the right.
  • the Vice President is one step down with maybe the Chief Financial Officer and
    Chief Informational Officer at the same level
  • then there is another step down where there are a list of department managers for the company, and
  • another step down for sub-leaders within each department and finally, though not listed on the organizational chart
  • are the [employees|the worker bees] of the organization.

His view of the Church is like that of an organizational chart with:

  • the Pope being the President
  • the Vice President being his Assistant
  • the Chief Financial and Chief Information Officers being the Cardinals and Bishops, etc.

And to some extent this is very true.

My personal preference though is to view the Church structure as an up-side down organizational chart.

  • Why?

Because it stresses the nature and virtues your friend rightly should see in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. If he doesn't see these virtues, it's not a proof that the Papacy doesn't exist or is not biblical — only that, though the office is holy, the occupants sometimes are not.

Jesus promised us that, though, the occupants to the Papacy occasionally may lack virtue, they will never be allowed to say anything officially contrary to faith or morals. This posting should help him if he doesn't understand this aspect of Church teaching.

The Hierarchy of the Catholic Church

  • At the top, are the faithful, the parishioners, whose goal is to serve in sanctifying the world, making it holy, and serving the needs of those seeking the fullness of the Christian Faith that can be found only in the Catholic Church.
  • The next from the bottom: are the pastors and priests, who serve the spiritual needs of the faithful as Vatican II asks them to.
  • The next from the bottom: the many bishops who address their diocese's needs.
  • The next from the bottom: the many cardinals who address their diocese's needs.
  • At the bottom: the Successor to St. Peter [protecting|safeguarding] teachings while serving the needs of the Church.

The faithful do not convert others by coercion. No, we just share the Gospel and give both believers and non-believers good reasons to become Catholic. The Holy Spirit and the Faith seeker discern whether what we are sharing is correct or not.

At each level there are many servants in the Church, who due to a solid prayer life, serve with humility and submission to Christ. Sad to say, they just don't make the 6 o'clock news.

Yes, we do have some bad, scandalous people in the Church, but we don't leave Peter because of Judas behavior.

Also remind him, the Pope is not there to make new doctrines or teachings. He is there to safeguard and protect the Teachings Jesus wants us to know and practice regularly like going to Sunday Mass! The same thing the very first Christians of the Church did, all practicing Catholics do today! Actually, they went to daily Mass 3-4 times a week, as well as on Sunday!

Your friend said:
Catholics say, We don't totally rely on what Scripture says, but what's troubling is when it justifies their actions they do rely on Scripture, and when it doesn't, they quickly rely on papal authority to justify something.

Correct! We rely mainly on what the teaching authority of the Church has always told us along with the Oral Tradition that has been passed down through history, which he should know is very biblical!

There are many teachings of the Church that are biblical but the Church is not Bible based; the Church is Jesus based.

We can show this teaching in Written Tradition (Scripture):

Jesus said to Peter,

17 Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. 18 And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Matthew 16:13-19, foretold in Isaiah 22:15-25

7 And after there had been much debate, Peter rose and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God who knows the heart bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us; 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, but cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why do you make trial of God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

12 And all the assembly kept silence; and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.

(Pronounces the first dogmatic decision)

Acts 15:7-12

Other Scripture passages:

The Primacy of Peter
Isaiah 22:15-25
Prophecy of the Catholic Papacy foretold in the Old Testament.
Matthew 16:13-19
Upon this rock (Peter) I will build my Church. And the gates of Hell can never overpower it.
Note: Our Protestant brethren will say to understand Matthew 16:18, we have to get behind the English to the Greek. They will go on to say in Greek, the word for rock is petra, which means a large, massive stone. The word used for Simon’s new name is different; it’s petros, which means a little stone, a pebble.

In order to give the proper Catholic reply to Matthew 16:18, we have to get behind the Greek argument to the Aramaic.

Although we don't know if the original Biblical manuscripts were in Aramaic or not, many scholars believe Our Lord probably spoke Aramaic because it was the native tongue for Jesus' immediate disciples. In Aramaic there is only one word for rock: Kepha. So he would have said:

"Blessed are you Simon bar Jonah, for flesh and blood have not revealed this to you but my Heavenly Father. So I say to you thou are Kepha and upon this Kepha I will build My Church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against [it|Her]."

The only manuscripts we have of Matthew are written in Greek but Greek scholars — even non-Catholic ones — admit, the words petros and petra  were synonyms in first century Greek. They meant small stone and large rock in some ancient Greek poetry, centuries before the time of Christ, but that distinction had disappeared from the language by the time Matthew’s Gospel was rendered in Greek. The difference in meaning can only be found in Attic Greek, but the New Testament was written in Koine Greek — an entirely different dialect. In Koine Greek, both petros and petra simply meant rock.

If Jesus had wanted to call Simon a small stone, the Greek lithos would have been used.
Matthew 16:19
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven: whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven; whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven.
Mark 6:7
Angel sent to announce the Resurrection to Peter.
Luke 22:32
Peter's faith will strengthen his brethren.
          Note: The word you [I have prayed for you.]
          The Greek is in the personal tense, not the plural like:
          All you Apostles.
Luke 24:34
Risen Jesus first appeared to Peter.
John 21:17
Given Christ's flock as chief shepherd.
Acts 1:13-26
Peter headed meeting which elected Matthias to replace Judas.
Acts 2:14
Peter received the first converts.
Acts 3:6-7
Peter performed the first miracle after Pentecost.
Acts 5:1-11
Peter's words inflict deadly punishment on Ananias and Saphira.
Acts 8:21
Peter excommunicated the first heretic, Simon Magnus.
Acts 10:44-46
Peter received a revelation to admit the Gentiles into the Church.
Acts 15
Peter led the first Catholic council in Jerusalem.
Acts 15:7-12
Peter spoke saying: "My brothers, he said, .... But we believe that we are saved in the same way as they are: through the grace of the Lord Jesus." The entire assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul describing all the signs and wonders God had worked through them among the gentiles."

Peter pronounces the first dogmatic decision.

Galatians 1:18
After his conversion, Paul visits the chief Apostle.

Matthew 10:1-4, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:14-16, Acts 1:13
Peter's name always heads the list of Apostles.

Matthew 18:21, Mark 8:29, Luke 12:41, John 6:69
Peter spoke for the Apostles.

Luke 9:32, Mark 16:7
Peter and his companions.

Peter is mentioned 191 times in the New Testament. All the other Apostles names combined are mentioned only 130 times. And the most commonly referenced apostle apart from Peter is John, whose name appears 48 times.

Interested in what the very first Christians thought, taught, and died for?
Check out what they said on this topic.
The Holy Bible alone or the Holy Bible plus Oral Tradition?
Matthew 23:1-3
Chair of Moses; observe whatever they tell you.
(Moses’ chair was a prefigurement of the chair of St. Peter.)
Mark 13:31
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words won't.
Mark 16:15
Go to the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.
Luke 10:16
"Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me."
John 21:25
Not everything Jesus said was recorded in Scripture.
Acts 20:35
Sayings of Jesus were not recorded in the Gospels.
Romans 10:17
Faith comes from what is heard.
1 Corinthians 11:2
Commends them for following Apostolic tradition.
1 Corinthians 15:1-2
Being saved if you hold fast to the word I preached.
2 Thessalonians 2:15
Hold fast to traditions, whether they are oral or by letter.
2 Timothy 1:13
Follow my sound words; guard the truth.
2 Timothy 2:2
What you heard entrust to faithful men who will also teach other faithful men . . .
[from generation to generation to today.]
1 Peter 1:25
God's eternal word equals the word preached to you.
2 Peter 1:20
No prophecy is a matter of private interpretation.
2 Peter 3:15-16
Paul's letters can be difficult to grasp and interpret.
St. Athanasius (360 A.D.)
Let us note that the very tradition, teaching, and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning, which the Lord gave, was preached by the Apostles, and was preserved by the Fathers. On this was the Church founded; and if anyone departs from this, he neither is nor any longer ought to be called a Christian. (Four Letters to Serapion of Thmius 1, 28)
Origen (230 A.D.)
"The teaching of the Church has indeed been handed down through an order of succession, from the Apostles, and remains in the Churches even to the present time. That alone is to be believed as truth which is in no way in variance with ecclesiastical and apostolic tradition." (Fundamental Doctrines 1, preface, 2.)

Interested in what other Christians in the Early Church thought, taught, and died for?
Check out what they said on this topic and this topic.

Much of our Oral Tradition comes from the Early Church Fathers. They were the very first Christians who lived from 100 A.D. to 800 A.D. Below are some of their quotes. If you like these, check out my other web site that has a database of their quotes at:

St. Hermas, (A.D. c.40 - 100)

"Therefore shall you [Hermas] write two little books and send one to Clement [Bishop of Rome] and one to Grapte. Clement shall then send it to the cities abroad, because that is his duty" (The Shepherd 2:4:3 [A.D. 80]).

St. Ignatius of Antioch, (A.D. 50 - 107)

"Ignatius . . . to the church also which holds the presidency, in the location of the country of the Romans, worthy of God, worthy of honor, worthy of blessing, worthy of praise, worthy of success, worthy of sanctification, and, because you hold the presidency in love, named after Christ and named after the Father" (Letter to the Romans 1:1 [A.D. 110]).

Pope St. Clement I of Rome, (A.D. 60 - 97)

"Owing to the sudden and repeated calamities and misfortunes which have befallen us, we must acknowledge that we have been somewhat tardy in turning our attention to the matters in dispute among you, beloved; and especially that abominable and unholy sedition, alien and foreign to the elect of God, which a few rash and self-willed persons have inflamed to such madness that your venerable and illustrious name, worthy to be loved by all men, has been greatly defamed. . . . Accept our counsel and you will have nothing to regret. . . . If anyone disobey the things which have been said by him [God] through us [i.e., that you must reinstate your leaders], let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger. . . . You will afford us joy and gladness if being obedient to the things which we have written through the Holy Spirit, you will root out the wicked passion of jealousy" (Letter to the Corinthians 1, 58–59, 63 [A.D. 80]).

St. Dionysius of Corinth, (A.D. c.110 - 171)

"For from the beginning it has been your custom to do good to all the brethren in various ways and to send contributions to all the churches in every city. . . . This custom your blessed Bishop Soter has not only preserved, but is augmenting, by furnishing an abundance of supplies to the saints and by urging with consoling words, as a loving father his children, the brethren who are journeying" (Letter to Pope Soter in Eusebius, Church History 4:23:9 [A.D. 170]).

"Today we have observed the Lord's holy day, in which we have read your letter [Pope Soter]. Whenever we do read it [in church], we shall be able to profit thereby, as also we do when we read the earlier letter written to us by Clement" (ibid., 4:23:11).

The Martyrs of Lyons

"And when a dissension arose about these said people [the Montanists], the brethren in Gaul once more . . . [sent letters] to the brethren in Asia and Phrygia and, moreover to Eleutherius, who was then [A.D. 175] bishop of the Romans, negotiating for the peace of the churches" (Eusebius, Church History 5:3:4 [A.D. 312])

"And the same martyrs too commended Irenæus, already at that time [A.D. 175] a presbyter of the community of Lyons, to the said bishop of Rome, rendering abundant testimony to the man, as the following expressions show: ‘Once more and always we pray that you may rejoice in God, Pope Eleutherius. This letter we have charged our brother and companion Irenæus to convey to you, and we beg you to receive him as zealous for the covenant of Christ'" (ibid., 5:4:1–2).

St. Irenæus of Lyons, (A.D. 125 - 202)

"But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the succession of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul, that church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. With that church, because of its superior origin, all the churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world, and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition" (Against Heresies 3:3:2 [A.D. 189]).

St. Cyprian of Carthage, (A.D. 200 - 258)

"The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,' he says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. And to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever things you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth, they shall be loosed also in heaven' [Matt. 16:18–19]). ... On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were also what Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. So too, all [the apostles] are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?" (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4; 1st edition [A.D. 251]).

"Cyprian to [Pope] Cornelius, his brother. Greeting. . . . We decided to send and are sending a letter to you from all throughout the province [where I am] so that all our colleagues might give their decided approval and support to you and to your communion, that is, to both the unity and the charity of the Catholic Church" (Letters 48:1, 3 [A.D. 253]).

"Cyprian to Antonian, his brother. Greeting ... You wrote ... that I should forward a copy of the same letter to our colleague [Pope] Cornelius, so that, laying aside all anxiety, he might at once know that you held communion with him, that is, with the Catholic Church" (ibid., 55[52]:1).

"Cornelius was made bishop by the decision of God and of his Christ, by the testimony of almost all the clergy, by the applause of the people then present, by the college of venerable priests and good men ... when the place of Fabian, which is the place of Peter, the dignity of the sacerdotal chair, was vacant. Since it has been occupied both at the will of God and with the ratified consent of all of us, whoever now wishes to become bishop must do so outside [the Church]. For he cannot have ecclesiastical rank who does not hold to the unity of the Church" (ibid., 55[52]:8).

"With a false bishop appointed for themselves by heretics, they dare even to set sail and carry letters from schismatics and blasphemers to the chair of Peter and to the principal church [at Rome], in which sacerdotal unity has its source" (ibid., 59:14).

Firmilian of Cæsarea, (A.D. 210 - 272)

"[Pope] Stephen ... boasts of the place of his episcopate, and contends that he holds the succession from Peter, on whom the foundations of the Church were laid [Matt. 16:18]. ... Stephen ... announces that he holds by succession the throne of Peter" (collected in Cyprian's Letters 74[75]:17 [A.D. 253]).

Eusebius of Cæsarea, (A.D. c.263 - 338)

"A question of no small importance arose at that time [A.D. 190]. For the parishes of all Asia [Minor], as from an older tradition held that the fourteenth day of the moon, on which the Jews were commanded to sacrifice the lamb, should be observed as the feast of the Savior's Passover. . . . But it was not the custom of the churches in the rest of the world . . . as they observed the practice which, from apostolic tradition, has prevailed to the present time, of terminating the fast [of Lent] on no other day than on that of the resurrection of the Savior [Sunday]. Synods and assemblies of bishops were held on this account, and all, with one consent, through mutual correspondence drew up an ecclesiastical decree that the mystery of the resurrection of the Lord should be celebrated on no other but the Lord's day and that we should observe the close of the paschal fast on this day only. . . . Thereupon [Pope] Victor, who presided over the church at Rome, immediately attempted to cut off from the community the parishes of all Asia [Minor], with the churches that agreed with them, as heterodox. And he wrote letters and declared all the brethren there wholly excommunicate. But this did not please all the bishops, and they besought him to consider the things of peace and of neighborly unity and love. . . . [Irenæus] fittingly admonishes Victor that he should not cut off whole churches of God which observed the tradition of an ancient custom" (Church History 5:23:1–24:11).

"Thus then did Irenæus entreat and negotiate [with Pope Victor] on behalf of the peace of the churches—[Irenæus being] a man well-named, for he was a peacemaker both in name and character. And he corresponded by letter not only with Victor, but also with very many and various rulers of churches" (ibid., 24:18).

Councils of Sardica, (A.D. 347)

"[I]f any bishop loses the judgment in some case [decided by his fellow bishops] and still believes that he has not a bad but a good case, in order that the case may be judged anew . . . let us honor the memory of the apostle Peter by having those who have given the judgment write to Julius, Bishop of Rome, so that if it seem proper he may himself send arbiters and the judgment may be made again by the bishops of a neighboring province" (canon 3 [A.D. 342]).

"[I]f some bishop be deposed by the judgment of the bishops sitting in the neighborhood, and if he declare that he will seek further redress, another should not be appointed to his see until the bishop of Rome can be acquainted with the case and render a judgment" (canon 4).

Pope St. Julius I, (unknown - A.D. 352)

"[The] judgment [concerning Athanasius] ought to have been made, not as it was, but according to the ecclesiastical canon. It behooved all of you to write us so that the justice of it might be seen as emanating from all. ... Are you ignorant that the custom has been to write first to us and then for a just decision to be passed from this place [Rome]? If, then, any such suspicion rested upon the bishop there [Athanasius of Alexandria], notice of it ought to have been written to the church here. But now, after having done as they pleased, they want to obtain our concurrence, although we never condemned him. Not thus are the constitutions of Paul, not thus the traditions of the Fathers. This is another form of procedure, and a novel practice. ... What I write about this is for the common good. For what we have heard from the blessed apostle Peter, these things I signify to you" (Letter on Behalf of Athanasius [A.D. 341], in Athanasius, Apology Against the Arians 20–35)

Council of Constantinople I, (A.D. 360)

"The bishop of Constantinople shall have the primacy of honor after the bishop of Rome, because his city is New Rome" (canon 3 [A.D. 381]).

St. Optatus of Milevis, (unknown - A.D. 384)

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

Pope St. Damasus I, (A.D. 304-384)

"Likewise it is decreed . . . that it ought to be announced that . . . the holy Roman Church has been placed at the forefront not by the conciliar decisions of other churches, but has received the primacy by the evangelic voice of our Lord and Savior, who says: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it; and I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you shall have bound on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall have loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven' [Matt. 16:18–19]. 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" (Decree of Damasus 3 [A.D. 382]).

Synod of Ambrose

"We recognize in the letter of your holiness [Pope Siricius] the vigilance of the good shepherd. You faithfully watch over the gate entrusted to you, and with pious care you guard Christ's sheepfold [John 10:7ff], you that are worthy to have the Lord's sheep hear and follow you" (Synodal Letter to Pope Siricius [A.D. 389]).

Pope St. Innocent I, (A.D. c.350-417)

"If cases of greater importance are to be heard [at a council], they are, as the synod decrees and as happy custom requires, after episcopal judgment, to be referred to the Apostolic See" (Letters 2:3:6 [A.D. 408]).

"In seeking the things of God . . . following the examples of ancient tradition . . . you have strengthened . . . the vigor of your religion with true reason, for you have acknowledged that judgment is to be referred to us, and have shown that you know what is owed to the Apostolic See, if all of us placed in this position are to desire to follow the apostle himself [Peter] from whom the episcopate itself and the total authority of this name have emerged. Following him, we know how to condemn evils just as well as we know how to approve what is laudable. Or rather, guarding with your priestly office what the Fathers instituted, you did not regard what they had decided, not by human but by divine judgments, as something to be trampled on. They did not regard anything as finished, even though it was the concern of distant and remote provinces, until it had come to the notice of this See [Rome], so that what was a just pronouncement might be confirmed by the authority of this See, and thence other churches—just as all waters proceed from their own natal source and, through the various regions of the whole world, remain pure liquids of an incorrupted head. . . ." (ibid., 29:1).

St. Jerome, (A.D. 342-420)

"I follow no leader but Christ and join in communion with none but your blessedness [Pope Damasus I], that is, with the chair of Peter. I know that this is the rock on which the Church has been built. Whoever eats the Lamb outside this house is profane. Anyone who is not in the ark of Noah will perish when the flood prevails" (Letters 15:2 [A.D. 396]).

"The church here is split into three parts, each eager to seize me for its own. . . . Meanwhile I keep crying, ‘He that is joined to the chair of Peter is accepted by me!' . . . Therefore, I implore your blessedness [Pope Damasus I] . . . tell me by letter with whom it is that I should communicate in Syria" (ibid., 16:2).

St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428)

"There are many other things which rightly keep me in the bosom of the Catholic Church. The consent of the people and nations keeps me, her authority keeps me, inaugurated by miracles, nourished in hope, enlarged by love, and established by age. The succession of priests keep me, from the very seat of the apostle Peter (to whom the Lord after his resurrection gave charge to feed his sheep) down to the present episcopate [of Pope Siricius]" (Against the Letter of Mani Called "The Foundation" 5 [A.D. 397]).

"[On this matter of the Pelagians] two councils have already been sent to the Apostolic See [the bishop of Rome], and from there rescripts too have come. The matter is at an end; would that the error too might be at an end!" (Sermons 131:10 [A.D. 411]).

Council of Ephesus, (held in A.D. 431)

"Philip, presbyter and legate of [Pope Celestine I] said: ‘We offer our thanks to the holy and venerable synod, that when the writings of our holy and blessed pope had been read to you, the holy members, by our holy voices, you joined yourselves to the holy head also by your holy acclamations. For your blessedness is not ignorant that the head of the whole faith, the head of the apostles, is blessed Peter the apostle. And since now [we], after having been tempest-tossed and much vexed, [have] arrived, we ask that you order that there be laid before us what things were done in this holy synod before our arrival; in order that according to the opinion of our blessed pope and of this present holy assembly, we likewise may ratify their determination'" (Acts of the Council, session 2 [A.D. 431]).

Pope St. Celestine I, (unknown - A.D. 432)

"We enjoin upon you [my legates to the Council of Ephesus] the necessary task of guarding the authority of the Apostolic See. And if the instructions handed to you have to mention this and if you have to be present in the assembly, if it comes to controversy, it is not yours to join the fight but to judge of the opinions [on my behalf]" (Letters 17 [A.D. 431]).

St. Peter Chrysologus, (A.D. 406 - 450)

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

Council of Chalcedon, (held in A.D. 451)

"Bishop Paschasinus, guardian of the Apostolic See, stood in the midst [of the Council Fathers] and said, ‘We received directions at the hands of the most blessed and apostolic bishop of the Roman city [Pope Leo I], who is the head of all the churches, which directions say that Dioscorus is not to be allowed to sit in the [present] assembly, but that if he should attempt to take his seat, he is to be cast out. This instruction we must carry out" (Acts of the Council, session 1 [A.D. 451]).

"After the reading of the foregoing epistle [The Tome of Leo], the most reverend bishops cried out: ‘This is the faith of the fathers! This is the faith of the apostles! So we all believe! Thus the orthodox believe! Anathema to him who does not thus believe! Peter has spoken thus through Leo!'" (ibid., session 2).

Pope St. Leo I, ( A.D. c.391-461)

"Our Lord Jesus Christ . . . established the worship belonging to the divine religion. . . . But the Lord desired that the sacrament of this gift should pertain to all the apostles in such a way that it might be found principally in the most blessed Peter, the highest of all the apostles. And he wanted his gifts to flow into the entire body from Peter himself, as if from the head, in such a way that anyone who had dared to separate himself from the solidarity of Peter would realize that he was himself no longer a sharer in the divine mystery. . . . [You, my brothers], must realize with us, of course, that the Apostolic See—out of reverence for it, I mean—has on countless occasions been reported to in consultation by bishops even of your own province [Vienne]. And through the appeal of various cases to this see, decisions already made have been either revoked or confirmed, as dictated by long-standing custom" (Letters 10:2–3 [A.D. 445]).

"As for the resolution of the bishops which is contrary to the Nicene decree, in union with your faithful piety, I declare it to be invalid and annul it by the authority of the holy apostle Peter" (ibid., 110).

"If in your view, [Anastasius of Thessalonica], in regard to a matter to be handled and decided jointly with your brothers, their decision was other than what you wanted, then let the entire matter, with a record of the proceedings, be referred to us. . . . Although bishops have a common dignity, they are not all of the same rank. Even among the most blessed apostles, though they were alike in honor, there was a certain distinction of power. All were equal in being chosen [to be apostles], but it was given to one to be preeminent over the others. . . . [So today through the bishops] the care of the universal Church would converge in the one see of Peter, and nothing should ever be at odds with this head" (ibid., 14:11).

Pope Gregory I

"Your most sweet holiness, [Bishop Eulogius of Alexandria], has spoken much in your letter to me about the chair of Saint Peter, prince of the apostles, saying that he himself now sits on it in the persons of his successors. And indeed I acknowledge myself to be unworthy . . . I gladly accepted all that has been said, in that he has spoken to me about Peter's chair, who occupies Peter's chair. And, though special honor to myself in no wise delights me . . . who can be ignorant that holy Church has been made firm in the solidity of the prince of the apostles, who derived his name from the firmness of his mind, so as to be called Peter from petra. And to him it is said by the voice of the Truth, ‘To you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven' [Matt. 16:19]. And again it is said to him, ‘And when you are converted, strengthen your brethren' [Luke 22:32]. And once more, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me? Feed my sheep' [John 21:17]" (Letters 40 [A.D. 597]).

Your Protestant friend also may be interested In my Scripture Passages web page.

Your friend said:
All that said, as I look deep into this one Scripture, you've got to really stretch and manipulate the true spirit of the text to make it read as Catholics wish.

I don't say that from just my opinion but that of trusted scholars.

The trusted scholars your Protestant friend is referring to are probably either:

  • Protestants, themselves, or
  • uncatechized Catholics who never were taught the faith correctly.

I have no idea how he can claim we are manipulating any text. I believe the difference between the two of you is a matter of the proper interpretation of the following passages.

The only text in Matthew's Gospel that refers to the Papacy is this:

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesare'a Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Eli'jah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Matthew 16:13-19 foretold in Isaiah 22:15-25

"Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.

God is blessing St. Peter.

For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.

Jesus, the God-Man, is telling Peter what he just said was not told to him by anyone on Earth but told to him by His Father in Heaven.

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build MY Church.

Most Protestant scholars will admit that Jesus spoke Aramaic. In Aramaic there is only one word for rock, Kepha. So he literally said,

You are Kepha and upon this Kepha I will build My Church and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Don't waste your time arguing with the Greek words, petra and petros.

That debate has been over for a long time. The first Biblical translation was from Aramaic into Greek. In Greek there are two words for rock: petra and petros.

Nevertheless, Our Blessed Lord likely spoke Aramaic and in Aramaic there is just one word for rock: Kepha.

In translating the original spoken language to the written Greek, the translator would never give a feminine ending to a word designated for a man, St. Peter, or his successors.

Later St. Jerome translated the Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic scriptures into vulgar Latin.

He translated the Deuterocanonicals but openly questioned their canonicity because the Jews rejected them because they were not in Hebrew. Today, we have extant Hebrew originals of some of them. Check out this posting if you are interested in how we found them.

The point of his exercise was to translate from the originals into Latin because up until that point, everything had gone through successive translations, in particular:

  • Hebrew into Greek [Septuagint] into Latin.

Hope this helps,


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