On the permanence of the primacy of blessed Peter in the Roman pontiffsNote that there is not any sense of doubt in the language used here. This is the reason for Fortescue's sense of assurance. Christ himself instituted this office, and it was, in every age, clearly evident, that there was a primacy over the whole church.
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 for ever, by Christ's authority, in the Church which, founded as it is upon a rock, will stand firm until the end of time.
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 for ever 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.
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 does not abandon that guidance of the Church which he once received.
4. For this reason it has always been necessary for every Church--that is to say the faithful throughout the world--to be in agreement with the Roman Church because of its more effective 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.
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.
It will be no wonder, then, to see the screechiness with which our partisan Roman Catholic friends will respond.
What follows is the conclusion of Peter Lampe's extensive work, "From Paul to Valentinus," chapter 41, pages 397 ff:
Thesis: The fractionation in Rome favored a collegial presbyterial system of governance and prevented for a long time, until the second half of the second century, the development of a monarchical episcopacy in the city. Victor (c. 189-99) was the first who, after faint-hearted attempts by Eleutherus (c. 175-89), Soter (c. 166-75), and Anicetus (c. 155-66), energetically stepped forward as monarchical bishop and (at times, only because he was incited from the outside) attempted to place the different groups in the city under his supervision or, where that was not possible, to draw a line by means of excommunication. Before the second half of the second century there was in Rome no monarchical episcopacy for the circles mutually bound in fellowship.It would be presumptuous here to wish to write again a history of the ecclesiastical offices that are mentioned especially in 1 Clement and Hermas. My concern is to describe the correlation between fractionation and one factor of ecclesiastical order, the monarchical episcopate. This bridge should be illuminated. What happens across the bridge in the field of history of ecclesiastical offices can only be here briefly sketched – and perhaps motivate one to further investigation.1. Fractionation into house congregations does not exclude that the Christian islands scattered around the capital city were aware of being in spiritual fellowship with each other, of perceiving themselves as cells of one church, and of being united by common bonds.Paul writes to several house communities in Rome (Rom 16; see above, chap. 36) and presupposes that these send his letter, with the greetings, from one to another (cf. similarly Col 4:16). The continually repeated (Greek: aspasasthe “greetings”) receives meaning if there were messengers between the various, topgraphically separate groups. In other words, not only were Eucharistic gifts sent to and fro (see above, chap 40), but also letters and greetings from outside the city were exchanged.That means that people writing from outside of Rome could address the Roman Christians as a unity. Not only Paul but also Ignatius and Dionysius of Corinth did this. Conversely, the Roman Christians as an entirety could send letters to those outside: 1 Clement and a further letter to Corinth around 170 C.E. (Eusebius, Ecc. Hist. 4.3.11). The totality of Roman Christianity undertook shipments of aid to those outside (see above on Dionysius, in Eusebius, Ecc. Hist. 4.23.10). People from the outside consequently spoke of the Roman church (e.g., Ignatius, Rom. Praescr.).It was useful to assign to someone in Rome the work connected with external communication. Hermas knows such a person by the name of Clement. In Vis. 2.4.3, Hermas prepares two copies of his small book and sends (pempo, “send, dispatch” within the city) one of them to Clement, who forwards it “to the cities outside, for he is entrusted with that task”.It is important to note that Hermas’s “minister of external affairs” is not a monarchical bishop. In the next sentence, Hermas describes how he circulates his little book within the city. He makes it known “to this city together with the presbyters who preside over the church” (emphasis added). A plurality of presbyters leads Roman Christianity. This Christianity, conscious of a spiritual fellowship within the city, is summed up under the concept of “ecclesia,” but that changes nothing in regard to the plurality of those presiding over it. In Vis. 3. 9.7, Hermas also calls them (Greek proegoumenoi or protokathedipitai – leaders or chief seats).Hermas knows to report the human side of the presiders: they quarrel about status and honor (Vis. 3.9.7-10; Sim. 8.7.4-6). What are proteia? Are the presbyters wrangling” for first place within their own ranks, for the place of primus inter pares? Whatever the answer may be, Hermas – in the first half of the second century – never mentions the success of such efforts, the actual existence of a single leader. Instead he speaks of (Greek, leaders or chiefs), all in the plural (Vis. 2.4.2f.; 2.2.6; 3.1.8).Correspondingly, we find in Paul’s and Ignatius’s letters to the Romans nothing of a Roman monarchical leader, even though Ignatius knew of a monarchical bishop’s office from his experience in the east. (Note: whether the monarchical episcopacy was established everywhere in the east is, however, questionable. Ignatius, Phil. 7- (cf. Magn. 6-8) presupposes Christians who do not wish to be under a bishop. In Ancyra around 190 C.E. there was still no bishop presiding but only a group of presbyters; anonymous, in Eusebius, Ecc. Hist. 5.16.5). In the year 144 Marcion, at the Roman synod meeting that he initiated (see above, chap. 40), also saw himself facing “presbyters and teachers” and not a monarchical bishop.First Clement presupposes the same presbyterial governance: hagoumenoi (1:3), proeoumenoi (21.6) presbuteroi (44.5, 47.6, 54.2, 57.1) episkopoi, (42:4f=Isa 60:17; LXX). As in Hermas (Vis. 3.5.1; Sim. 9.27.1; cf. 9.31.5f.), the word “bishop” is in the plural. And First Clement 44:5 clarifies who exercises episkope: the presbuteroi! A number of them, who simultaneously had episkope in Corinth, were dismissed by the Corinthians. In 47:6, 57:1 the dismissed men are called presbuteroi. In short, by presbuteroi and episkopoi 1 Clem designates the same persons. The two terms are interchangeable, as in Hermas (Vis. 3.5.1).“Bishops” are presbyters with a special function. With what function are they entrusted? Hermas in Mand. 8.20., Vis. 3.9.2, Sim. 1.8 uses the verb episkeptesthai not in relation to an office but referring to all Christians in the sense of “to care for the needy, to visit them. (Hermas) Sim.9.27.2.f. portrays the official “bishops” correspondingly as those who care for (diakonia) the needy and the widows. In this work they are supported by the deacons (Sim. 9.26.2). Our comparison of episkeptesthai and episkopoi shows that Hermas with the functional term “episkopos” still clearly associates episkeptesthai and its social-diaconal content. The wordkplay episkopoi--eskepasan in Sim.9.27.2 demonstrates the same.
This type of analysis goes on for a number of pages, and if there are questions, then I can provide that analysis on particular points.
To the scoffers, keep in mind that this is a 500 page book, and the analysis provided here has much, much foundational work (literary and archaeological and more) supporting it. It is no wonder that Eamon Duffy says that any future work that deals with this period must begin with this work.
I've published selections such as this one in various places, and I've had some Catholics tell me that this is an obscure work, that it will soon be forgotten. But this body of factual information isn't going anywhere.
Rome has re-calibrated its discussion of the papacy since the heady days of Vatican I and Adrian Fortescue, to lead off with the fact that they are aware of "development." It is clear from the language of Vatican I that they had no concept of development in mind. It is clear from Fortescue, some 50 years after Vatican I, that "Clement commanded" with the assurance of any modern pope. But the situation was far, far more questionable than that. Roman boastfulness has been caught in a snare, and it is evident that it does not know how to squirm out of this.