Monday, 15 August 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 127.

CHAPTER III.

THE CHURCH IN COMMUNION WITH THE SEE OF ROME, HAS ALONE, A JUST TITLE TO INFALLIBILITY.

SIX VOLUMES IN ONE
BY THE DISTINGUISHED EXPONENTS OF CATHOLICISM
REV. HENRY DODRIDGE, D. D.
REV. HENRY EDWARD MANNING, D. D.
REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada
REV. STEPHEN KEENAN
REV. BERNARD VAUGHAN, S. J.
REV. THOMAS N. BURKE, O. P.


I HAVE now proved the infallibility of the Church, which Christ has established on earth, from the concurring testimonies of Scriptures and which is all that can be required for proof of any article of religion. For how can we learn revealed truths, but from the revealed word of God, interpreted by that authority, which Christ himself has established, and appointed for that end ? And, therefore, those who in their defence of the Church's infallibility, lay a stress upon certain rational congruities, as, that it is inconsistent with the infinite goodness of God, to leave men without an infallible guide, appear to me to take the question by the wrong handle. For the dispute between Catholics and Protestants is not, whether God in his infinite goodness be bound to give us such a guide, but whether in effect, he has been so merciful as to do it ? Now the revealed word of God tells us positively he has. The promises of Christ are as clear as words can make them; and the faith of the ancient Church, grounded on those promises, is conveyed to us in the writings of the holy fathers. Upon this foundation, the Church's infallibility is built. A foundation so strong and firm, that if God's word may be relied on, it wants no arguments from congruities of human reason to support it.

Now, then, let us see, where the infallible Church is to be found. The point I have undertaken to prove is, That the Church in communion with the see of Rome, has alone an unquestionable title to it. And I shall either give her this name, or call her the Roman Catholic Church, or the Church of Rome: she being so called, because the bishop of Rome is her visible head, or supreme pastor. But, whatever name I give her, I desire the reader to take notice, that I mean not the particular diocese of Rome. For this is no more the Catholic Church, than the head is the whole body; or the diocese of Canterbury, the whole Church of England. This caution would appear frivolous, were it not necessary to avoid a childish equivocation much affected by Protestant writers, as will appear hereafter; for it serves to cast a mist before people's eyes, and keep the true state of the question out of sight; which does more service to a weak cause, than a thousand arguments.

My first proof, that the Church in communion with the see of Rome, is alone that infallible Church, which Christ has established, is this: because all the reformed churches frankly disown the title of infallible. And they are very just to themselves in so doing. And as to the Greek Church (though it be a part of her faith, "that the visible Church of Christ is infallible"), she cannot pretend to it with any color of reason. It follows then that the Church in communion with the see of Rome is the only one, that has a just claim to it.

That the Greek Church can have no pretence to it, is a very plain case. Because a Church that has changed her faith backward and forward cannot call herself infallible. Now, the most authentic histories prove the Greek Church guilty of this charge in her faith relating to the procession of the Holy Ghost, and the supremacy of the bishop of Rome; for in all other points she agrees with us, and has condemned the reformation in several councils. When Photius first began his schism, being provoked to it, because the pope (to whom he appealed, and thereby acknowledged him his superior) refused to confirm his ordination, as being irregular and uncanonical ; the Greek Church was in perfect communion with the see of Rome; and there appeared no disagreement in any article of faith between the two Churches. Photius made the breach, chiefly by maintaining, " that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father alone; " and the article of supremacy followed of course: because a subject cannot rebel against his sovereign without impeaching his authority. Photius, being the first patriarch of the east, drew, by degrees, the greatest part of the Greek Church into his error. After a long contest, and great endeavors used to bring her back to the ancient faith, she at length renounced her errors, and subscribed the condemnation of them in the general council of Florence. The pope's supremacy, together with other articles, was subscribed to by all the bishops of both Churches (Mark of Ephesus alone excepted), and so she was again united to the Church of Rome. But returning not long after to her vomit, she has ever since continued guilty both of heresy and schism; and Muscovy, which has received its Christianity from the Greeks, is in the same condition.