I’d like to look now at some of his “testimony from the early fathers,” and in particular, the history behind this, his first citation:
Testimony from the Early Fathers:I wonder if the Roman Catholics who parrot these things actually look at the history of them. Probably not; in the firmly convinced Roman Catholic mind, for someone who has “The Faith,” if something says “Peter,” that means “full-blown papacy.” But nothing could be further from the truth.
In 517 the Eastern bishops assented to and signed the formula of Pope Hormisdas, which states in part: ‘The first condition of salvation is to keep the norm of the true faith and in no way deviate from the established doctrine of the Fathers. For it is impossible that the words of our Lord Jesus Christ who said, “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build My Church” [Matt. 16:18], should not be verified. And their truth has been proved by the course of history, for in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been kept unsullied.’ (qtd in This Rock, October 1998).
This incident here should not be something that Roman Catholics are proud to say is a part of the “divine foundation” of the papacy. In fact, while this is a “foundational event” in the creation of a papacy that had jurisdiction throughout the empire, it is not the “great moment in papal history” that it is sold as.
Until this time, it should be noted, that Eastern churches, represented by the other patriarchates, almost universally rejected any notion that Rome had any “jurisdiction” over them whatsoever.
Describing the period from approximately 400-900ad, a period during which the Church was “unified under the papacy,” Klaus Schatz, in his “Papal Primacy: From Its Origins to the Present” (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, ©1996 by the Order of St. Benedict, Inc.), Schatz points out that “for five hundred years the role of Rome in the imperial Church was determined essentially by the relationships among three entities: the ecumenical councils, the patriarchates, and the imperial establishment.”
Keep in mind that the Roman church had always been marked by a lust for power and expansion.
150 ad: the church at Rome is ruled by a plurality of presbyters who quarrel about status and honor. (Shepherd of Hermas). “They had a certain jealousy of one another over questions of preeminence and about some kind of distinction. But they are all fools to be jealous of one another regarding preeminence.”What genuinely gave bishops of Rome the impetus to expand further was the conversion of Constantine. Eamon Duffy noted that this event “propelled the bishops of Rome into the heart of the Roman establishment. Already powerful and influential men, they now became grandees on a par with the wealthiest senators in the city. Bishops all over the Roman world would now be expected to take on the role of judges, governors, great servants of state (“Saints and Sinners,” New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1997, 2001, pg 37). Duffy had previously recounted the story of the young Ambrose (b. 340-397), “fascinated as the women of the family clustered around Liberius (352-366), kissing his hand, and the boy had amused and infuriated his relatives by imitating his stately walk and offering his own hand to be kissed by the womenfolk” (36).
235: Hippolytus and Pontianus are exiled from Rome by the emperor “because of street fighting between their followers” (Collins citing Cerrato, Oxford 2002).
258: Cyprian (Carthage/west) and Firmilian (Caesarea/east) both become incensed when Stephen tries to exercise authority outside of Rome. [Stephen is the first pope on record to cite Matt 16:18 in support of his own authority.]
306: Rival “popes” exiled because of “violent clashes” (Collins)
308: Rival “popes” exiled because of “violent clashes” (Collins again).
In 324, though, Constantine moved the capital to the East. According to Duffy, he:
“washed his hands of Rome,” and “departed to create a Christian capital in the East. It would fall to the popes to create a Christian Rome. They set about it by building churches, converting the modest tituli (community church centres) into something grander, and creating new and more public foundations, … Over the next hundred years their churches advanced into the city – Pope Mark’s (336) San Marco within a stone’s throw of the Capitol, Pope Liberius’ massive basilica on the Esquiline (now Santa Maria Maggiore), Pope Damasus’ Santa Anastasia at the foot of the Palatine, Pope Julius’ foundation of the site of the present Santa Maria in Trastevere, Santa Pudenziana near the Baths of Diocletian under Pope Anastasius (399-401), Santa Sabina among the patrician villas on the Aventine under Pope Celestine (422-32).I’ve heard Roman Catholics say that, “well, it was the highest office in the church, it’s no wonder people would fight about it. First, that’s no excuse, for Christians (1 Tim 3), and second, that’s not the real reason people fought about it. Here, Duffy cites the secular historian Ammianus Marcellinus:
These churches were a mark of the upbeat confidence of post-Constantinian Christianity in Rome. The popes were potentates, and began to behave like it. Damasus (366-382) perfectly embodied this growing grandeur. An urbane career cleric like his predecessor Liberius, at home in the wealthy salons of the city, he was also a ruthless power-broker, and he did not hesitate to mobilize both the city police and the Christian mob to back up his rule His election had been contested, and he had prevailed by sheer force of numbers – as the Liber Pontificalis puts it, ‘they confirmed Damasus because he was the stronger and had the greater number of supporters; that was how Damasus was confirmed’. Damasus’ grass-roots supporters included squads of the notoriously hard-boiled Roman fossores, [actually a minor order in the church, made up of catacomb diggers generally armed with picks], and they massacred 137 followers of the rival Pope Ursinus in street-fighting that ended in a bloody siege of what is now the church of Santa Maria Maggiore” (37-38).
I do not deny that men who covet this office in order to fulfill their ambitions may well struggle for it with every resource at their disposal. For once they have obtained it they are ever after secure, enriched with offerings from the ladies, riding abroad seated in their carriages, splendidly arrayed, giving banquets so lavish that they supass the tables of royalty… (38).It was noted above that Liberius pranced around prompting women to kiss his hand, and Damasus himself was known as “the ladies’ ear-tickler”.
As a side note, in the discussions of the compulsion of clerical celibacy, Duffy notes that on account of such like Damasus, “an imperial decree in 370 forbade clerics from visiting the houses of rich widows or heiresses” (38).
J.N.D. Kelly, in his “Oxford Dictionary of the Popes,” points out that Basil the Great (d. 379) had a “less than happy” relationship with Damasus and that “like the west generally, [Damasus] failed to understand the new developments and, when Antioch was split between rival bishops, [Damasus] persisted in backing Paulinus, the unrepresentative leader of a reactionary group, instead of Meletius, on whom eastern hopes for unity were centred; …In despair Basil described him as impossibly arrogant.”
Kelly also notes that while “he took no part in the ecumenical council (the second) held at Constantinople in 381, and made no contribution to the constructive détente between east and west which was now under way,” nevertheless ”Damasus was indefatigable in promoting the Roman primacy, frequently referring to Rome as ‘the apostolic see’ and ruling that the test of a creed’s orthodoxy was its endorsement by the pope.” (Kelly 33)
So even by the time of Damasus, while the eastern churches were embroiled in some of the most intensive deliberations over Nicene orthodoxy and the Nicene creed, “pope” Damasus was busy tickling ladies’ ears, promoting his own importance, and fomenting division among the Eastern churches. Damasus is a saint of the Roman Catholic Church.