Saturday, 7 November 2015

Peter And The Papacy. part 7.


John Henry Newman, a Protestant scholar who converted to Catholicism in 1845 and became a leading apologist and later a cardinal, said in his book Apologia: “When I was young, I thought the pope to be the anti-Christ. At Christmas 1824 I preached a sermon to that effect.” If Newman could be brought to see the truth, so anyone can.
It is clear that Peter was married (Mt 8:14; Mk 1:30; see also I Cor 9:5). Celibacy was not a requirement for an Apostle of Christ. Were Peter to come back on earth, he would not qualify as a candidate for papacy.

Among the Apostles, only St. Peter is known to have been married due to the fact his mother-in-law is mentioned in the Gospels. Some of the others might have been married but there is a clear indication that all of them left everything, including their families, to follow Christ.
Thus, in the Gospels, one reads that St. Peter told Our Lord: “ We left all we had to follow you.” In return, the Divine Master said:”I tell you solemnly, there is no one who has left house, wife, brothers, parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not be given repayment many times over in this present time and, in the world to come, eternal life” (Lk 18:28–30; Mt 19:27–30).

“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Mt. 10:37,38).

“In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple” (Lk. 14:33).

When Peter was at Antioch, he refused to eat with Gentile Christians in order not to offend certain Jews from Palestine (Gal. 2:11–16). For this Paul rebuked him. This biblically demonstrates papal fallibility.

Not at all. Peter’s actions had to do with matters of discipline, not with issues of faith or morals.

Furthermore, the problem was Peter’s actions, not his teaching. The problem was that he wasn’t living up to his own teaching. Thus, in this instance, Peter was not doing any teaching; much less was he solemnly defining a matter of faith or morals.

Fundamentalists must also acknowledge that Peter did have some kind of infallibility—they cannot deny that he wrote two infallible epistles of the New Testament. So, if his behavior at Antioch was not incompatible with this kind of infallibility, neither is bad behavior contrary to papal infallibility in general.


Pelagius was condemned by the bishops of North Africa for his heresy on grace. On Jan. 27, 417, Pope Innocent expressed his agreement with the African decisions, asserted the necessity of inward grace, rejected the Pelagian errors about original sin, and declared Pelagius and Coelestius excommunicated until they should return to orthodoxy. In about six weeks more he was dead: but Zosimus, his successor, was scarcely installed in his place before Coelestius appeared at Rome in person to plead his cause; while shortly afterwards letters arrived from Pelagius addressed to Innocent, attempting to enlist Rome in his favor. Pope Zosimus, went over to Coelestius at once, upon his profession of willingness to anathematize all doctrines which the pontifical see had condemned or should condemn; he then wrote a sharp letter to Africa, proclaiming Coelestius “Catholic,” and requiring the Africans to appear within two months at Rome to prosecute their charges, or else to abandon them. The Pope had been deceived by the two clever heretics. The African bishops stood firm and informed the Pope of the deceitfulness of Pelagius and Coelestius. He finally agreed to condemn them publicly.

In this case, Pope Zosimus made a mistake of appreciation; but he did not profess in any way the heresy of pelagianism. Moreover, it is interesting to see that all, the two heretics and the African bishops, had recourse to Rome to settle the question: clear sign that they believed in papal infallibility.


The Council of Chalcedon (451) taught that in Christ there are two natures, divine and human. A heresy named Monothelitism sprang up, that believed that Christ had only will, a combination of the divine and the human. Sergius, the patriarch of Constantinople, gained to the heresy, wrote to the Pope regarding this issue. Pope Honorius, in a passing expression of his private answer to Sergius, imprudently approved the heresy. This is History (cf. Mansi, vol. 11, p. 285).

Pope Agatho (678–681) condemned Pope Honorius as a heretic, and Pope Leo II (682–683) confirmed that decision, and the three councils did the same. Moreover, Pope Agatho said that Pope Honorius could be classed as a heretic and yet his condemnation would not infringe on papal infallibility due to the simple fact that Honorius’ statement to Sergius was not a universal and binding teaching of the papal office.

Remember, Vatican Council I found 44 instances of papal error (Honorius was one of them) before they defined papal infallibility. All those errors were not regarded as being in the class of infallible statements that Vatican Council I deemed infallible.

In the middle ages, there was a “Pope Joan,” a woman who hid her gender and rose through the ranks of the Church, became a cardinal and was elected pope. No one knew she was a woman until, during a papal procession through the streets of Rome, she went into labor and gave birth to a child. She and the baby were killed on the spot by the mob, enraged at her imposture.

A lot of things are said about the alleged “Pope Joan.” Depending on who is telling the story, she was a courageous feminist, a clever opportunist, a brilliant scholar who couldn’t make it as a woman in a man’s world. She is said to have been a wise ruler and an astute theologian, though, oddly, no decree or theological teaching purporting to have come from her has made its way down to our day. In any case, the fact is, there was no Pope Joan. She exists only as pure legend. The primary proofs that this is all just a fable are these: First, the earliest point that we can trace the legend to is the mid-13th century, but the legend didn’t really gain wide currency until the late 14th century. No evidence of any kind exists from the ninth century (when Pope Joan was alleged to have reigned), nor do we see any in the 10th through 12th centuries. None of the annals or acts of the Popes that were written between the ninth and 13th centuries (and none after that, either) mention her.

Church historian J.P. Kirsch wrote that “Not one contemporaneous historical source among the papal histories knows anything about her; also, no mention is made of her until the middle of the 13th century. Now it is incredible that the appearance of a ‘popess,’ if it was a historical fact, would be noticed by none of the numerous historians from the 10th to the 13th century. In the history of the Popes, there is no place where this legendary figure will fit in. Between Leo IV and Benedict III, where Martinus Polonus places her, she cannot be inserted . . .” (Article on Pope Joan, Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913).

So where did the legend come from? There are two likely possibilities. The first is that the Roman population became disgusted with the corrupt influence wielded over Pope Sergius (reigned 904–911) by the powerful and wealthy Theodora Theophylact, and more specifically by her young daughter Morozia, a cunning and exceptionally attractive woman. It appears that Morozia was Sergius ‘ mistress and bore him at least one son (the future Pope John XI). The fabulously wealthy and prestigious Theophylact family wielded immense power in Rome during the 10th century, even, sadly, over several Popes. This is a sorry episode in the history of the Church, one which displayed a decadence and immorality that even Popes, at times, could fall prey to—a reminder to us all that men, even the holiest of men, are not invulnerable to temptation and personal weakness. Despite their sins, Christ’s promise that the Church would be protected from error was not, nor has it ever been, broken.

From the details of Sergius III’s pontificate, it seems clear that he was a vain, violent and sensuous man. It’s quite possible that the disgusted faithful took to mocking him or one of his immediate successors because he was perceived to have been under the influence of the Theophylact women. Some historians trace the legend of a female pope to Morozia, saying the people called her “Pope Joan” to mock the weak popes she controlled, in the same way some American first ladies have been called “president” to mock their perceived weak husbands.

Another possible explanation for the Pope Joan legend lies in the conduct of the much maligned Pope John VIII (reigned 872–882). He appears to have had a very weak personality, even perhaps somewhat effeminate. Cardinal Baronius, in his Church history Annals, suggests that John VIII’s reputation as effeminate gave rise to the legend. Indeed, it would seem that over time, the common folk added ever more lurid embellishments until the vulgar jokes about the hapless (and certainly male) Pope ballooned and metamorphosed into a female “popessa.”