Sunday, December 12, 2010

“No coincidence that the first works of papal history are fictitious accounts written by the popes”

It seems as if it’s “let’s persuade Scott Windsor that he needs to re-think his avocation” week here at Beggars All. I’m continuing to respond to his brief defense of the papacy. (Earlier posts discussing his “Scriptural Defense” are here, here and here.) My hope is to return to these “scriptural defenses,” but he also threw out a historical citation that needs to be addressed as well.

In some recent posts, our motivations have been questioned. I’m sure we’ve responded to them adequately; but I want to go a bit further and state, as I’ve done before, that I’m interested in knowing “the truth.” You can think of me as an investigative reporter, and when I study the early papacy, [or the Reformation, or any other topic], I’m interested in knowing, with the greatest degree of certainty that our sources can provide, “what they knew, and when they knew it.” What actually happened.

This is vitally important with respect to the early papacy, because, in polemic discussions on this topic, someone like Scott, taking a literalist interpretation of Vatican 1, will say something like “Christ founded a visible church, Peter was the Rock of Matthew 16, Clement mentioned “worthy men,” and therefore, there was an unbroken chain of “popes” down through the centuries.”

In fact, this is a very dishonest summary of the history of those centuries. The Roman Catholic writer Francis Sullivan, in his work From Apostles to Bishops (New York: The Newman Press), painstakingly works through all possible mentions of “succession” from the first three centuries, and concludes from that study not only that “the episcopate [development of bishops] is a the fruit of a post New Testament development], but he interacts with the notion that there is a single bishop in Rome through the middle of the second century, and he flatly dismisses it. [Sullivan, 221-222].

Klaus Schatz, in his Papal Primacy: From its Origins to the Present, not only acknowledges that in the case of the process of the development of “the historically developed papacy” the initial phases of this long process “extended well into the fifth century” (Schatz pg 36)
I concluded my last post with a discussion of the conditions in which bishops of Rome found themselves, and also a fairly lengthy selection about pope Damasus (366-382).

Another Catholic writer, Robert Eno, S.S. (“Order of the Sulpicians,” whose mission it is to teach Roman Catholic seminarians), notes, “From the time of Pope Damasus (366-384), the evidence for the Roman view of itself became abundant. … I might point out that this distinction between what Rome says about itself and what other, non-Roman sources say about Roman authority, is one that must be observed throughout this enquiry.” (“The Rise of the Papacy,” Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier Press, 1990, p 30).

As I’ve pointed out in the past, Roger Collins notes (in the spirit of Eno) that It is no coincidence that the first systematic works of papal history appear at the very time the Roman church’s past was being reinvented for polemical purposes.

Just sayin’. And I’m just sayin’ that, just as the non-existent early papacy was based on pious and not-so-pious fictions, the medieval papacy, too, rests on not-so-pious fictions.

Now is a good time to remind everyone of what Scott provides, in addition to his exegesis of Matt 16:18, as another “early evidence” for the papacy”:

Testimony from the Early Fathers:
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).

Klaus Schatz explains a bit of this process, from an actual historical perspective:
In the five hundred years from the fifth to the tenth centuries the role of Rome was very different in the Byzantine “imperial Church” and in the West, which after the tribal migrations of the fifth century consisted of a group of independent Germanic kingdoms. Until the eight century, except for the period between 476 and 536 when it was ruled by Odoacer and the Ostrogoths, Rome belonged to the empire governed from Constantinople. The pope was a subject of the emperor, and from the sixth to the eight century the Roman bishop elected by the clergy and people of Rome had to be confirmed by the emperor in Constantinople before he could be consecrated. [And yes, it was the forged “Donation of Constantine” that enabled Rome to break free of this domination].

For five hundred years [400-900] 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. The essential features of this set of relationships developed in the middle of the fifth century, with the events of the years 449-451 the crucial turning point. …

For the ecumenical councils, as for all matters that had to be settled at the highest levels, the “patriarchates” came increasingly to be the most important entities. The terms “patriarch” and “patriarchate” emerged in the fifth century and became fixed usage in the sixth. They originated in the triad of principal churches at Rome, Alexandria and Antioch. The sixth canon of the Council of Nicea (325) explicitly confirmed the “ancient custom” that these three bishops were to have ecclesial jurisdiction (not specifically defined) over their own regions. (Schatz 41-42)
What follows are the years between 325 and 381, when Arianism is defeated and the doctrine of the Trinity defined; following the Council of Constantinople (381), which in which the Nicene Creed was finalized, and the murderer pope Damasus didn’t want to be bothered (except to assert that he was boss). From 381 then, until 451, came the Christological struggles and the council of Chalcedon.

Eamon Duffy notes:
In addition to its doctrinal work, the Council of Constantinople issued a series of disciplinary canons, which went straight to the heart of Roman claims to primacy over the whole Church. The Council decreed that appeals in the cases of bishops should be heard within the bishop’s own province – a direct rebuttal of Rome’s claim to be the final court of appeal in all such cases. It went on to stipulate that ‘the Bishop of Constantinople shall have the pre-eminence in honour after the Bishop of Rome, for Constantinople is new Rome’.

This last canon was totally unacceptable to Rome for two reasons. In the first place it capitulated to the imperial claim to control of the Church, since Constantinople had nothing but the secular status of the city to justify giving it this religious precedence. Worse, however, the wording implied that the primacy of Rome itself was derived not from its apostolic pedigree as the Church of Peter and Paul, but from the fact that it had once been the capital of the empire. Damasus and his successors refused to accept the canons… (Duffy 34-35).
So during the first two councils, Nicea (325) and Constantinople (381), while the eastern bishops were doing the heavy lifting, bishops of Rome were not present, they were an afterthought, and the pope's alleged "divine institution" was not recognized at all. By councils of bishops.

This is a bit lengthy, and there’s more of it, so I’ll finish it in another installment, Lord willing. But note here that the image of a “unified church under the pope” is far, far from reality.


Viisaus said...

Still in the latter half of the 7th century, Byzantine emperor Constans II treated the bishop of Rome in quite prosaic manner, and pope Vitalian dared not to back-talk at him - from Milman's "History of Latin Christianity":

pp. 281-283

"The popes, warned by the fate of Martin, if they did not receive, did not condemn the Type of Constans. They allowed the question of the two Wills in Christ to slumber. Eugenius received from the new Patriarch of Constantinople, Peter, the account of his elevation, with a declaration of faith, silent on the disputed point. During the pontificate of Vitalianus Rome was visited by the Byzantine emperor. ... But he visited Rome as a plunderer, not as the restorer of her power. He was received by the Pope Vitalianus almost with religious honors. The haughty conduct of Constans in Rome, and the timid servility of Vitalianus, contrast with the meetings of the Western Caesars, fifty years later, with the successors of St. Peter. To the Emperor, the Pope is merely the high priest of the city. To the Pope, the Emperor is his undoubted lord and master. The Emperor has all the unquestioning arrogance of the sovereign, whose word is law, and who commands without scruple the plunder of the public edifices, sacred as well as profane; the Pope the subject, who dares not interpose to protect the property of the city, or even of the Church. Constans remained twelve days in Rome; all the ornaments of brass, besides more precious metals, were stripped from the churches, the iron roof torn from the Pantheon, now a church, and the whole sent off to Constantinople. ...

The Byzantine government did not discourage encroachments even on the spiritual supremacy of Rome in the West. Maurus, Bishop of Ravenna, emboldened by his city having become the capital of the Exarchate, asserted and maintained his independence of the Bishop of Rome. The Archbishop of Ravenna boasted of a privilege, issued by the Emperors Heraclius and Constantine, which exempted him from all superior episcopal authority, from the authority of the Patriarch of old Rome. 1 Vitalianus hurled his excommunication against Maurus. Maurus threw back his excommunication against Vitalianus."

Viisaus said...

Catholic Encyclopedia confirms that still in 7th century Italy, a prelate could openly dismiss papal authority as long as he could rely on imperial Byzantine support:

"The archiepiscopal See of Ravenna was immediately subject to Rome. Archbishop Maurus of Ravenna (648-71) sought to rid himself of this dependence, and make his see autocephalous. When Pope Vitalian called upon him to justify his theological views, he refused to obey and declared himself independent of Rome. The pope excommunicated him, but Maurus did not submit, and even went so far as to excommunicate the pope. The Emperor Constans II sided with the archbishop, issued an edict removing the Archbishop of Ravenna from the patriarchal jurisdiction of Rome, and ordained that the former should receive the pallium from the emperor. The successor of Maurus, Reparatus, was in fact consecrated, in 671, by three of his suffragan bishops and received the pallium from the emperor."

John Bugay said...

Thanks Viisaus. You must spend your days sitting at looking up arcane stuff like this :-)

Here's a map showing the location of Ravenna in Italy.

During this time period, I have found that the names and the places and just exactly who represents what becomes muddy in my mind. I've found it easier to visualize the context of some of these struggles by locating the people in the places; it just gives me a better handle for understanding all of the foreign-sounding names that all seem to blur together.

Viisaus said...

"Thanks Viisaus. You must spend your days sitting at looking up arcane stuff like this :-)"

These historical studies pay themselves off - you get to see just how fake the RC historical narrative really is. :)

Popes have usually been insolent when they have felt themselves politically secure, cringing when they have been not.

Back in the 6th century, the Byzantines re-conquered Italy from the Ostrogoths and Rome conquently became under the power of Constantinople's ruler.

Thus in the days of Fifth Ecumenical Council, Byzantine emperor Justinian dictatorially imposed his will on pope Vigilius in theological matters - Edward Gibbon writes:

"The East, with some hesitation, consented to the voice of her sovereign: the fifth general council, of three patriarchs and one hundred and sixty-five bishops, was held at Constantinople; and the authors, as well as the defenders, of the three chapters were separated from the communion of the saints, and solemnly delivered to the prince of darkness. But the Latin churches were more jealous of the honor of Leo and the synod of Chalcedon: and if they had fought as they usually did under the standard of Rome, they might have prevailed in the cause of reason and humanity.

But their chief was a prisoner in the hands of the enemy; the throne of St. Peter, which had been disgraced by the simony, was betrayed by the cowardice, of Vigilius, who yielded, after a long and inconsistent struggle, to the despotism of Justinian and the sophistry of the Greeks. His apostasy provoked the indignation of the Latins, and no more than two bishops could be found who would impose their hands on his deacon and successor Pelagius."

Catholic Encyclopedia explains (in a politely roundabout manner) how Byzantines basically kidnapped pope Vigilius and forced him to adopt their doctrinal position - which was seen as a brazen sell-out all over Western Europe, but eventually became an official part of RC dogma:

"Vigilius refused to acknowledge the imperial edict and was called to Constantinople by Justinian, in order to settle the matter there with a synod. According to the Liber pontificalis on 20 November, while the pope was celebrating the feast of St. Cecilia in the Church of St. Cecilia in Trastevere, and before the service was fully ended, he was ordered by the imperial official Anthimus to start at once on the journey to Constantinople. The pope was taken immediately to a ship that waited in the Tiber, in order to be carried to the eastern capital, while a part of the populace cursed the pope and threw stones at the ship. ...

Justinian's chief interest, however, was in the matter of the Three Chapters, and as Vigilius was not ready to make concessions of this point and wavered frequently in his measures, he had much to suffer. The change in his position is to be explained by the fact that the condemnation of the writings mentioned was justifiable essentially, yet appeared inopportune and would lead to disastrous controversies with Western Europe."

Viisaus said...

"It went on to stipulate that ‘the Bishop of Constantinople shall have the pre-eminence in honour after the Bishop of Rome, for Constantinople is new Rome’.

This last canon was totally unacceptable to Rome for two reasons. In the first place it capitulated to the imperial claim to control of the Church, since Constantinople had nothing but the secular status of the city to justify giving it this religious precedence."

In his history of Arianism, Henry Gwatkin claimed that Rome actually did not concede the "ecumenical" nature of this 381 Council of Constantinople until Latin Crusaders had conquered Constantinople (in 1204) and Rome could believe that it had gotten the Byzantines under its heel:


"Another canon forbids the intrusion of bishops into other dioceses. 'Nevertheless, the bishop of Constantinople shall hold the first rank after the bishop of Rome, because Constantinople is New Rome.' This is the famous third canon, which laid a foundation for the ecclesiastical authority of Constantinople. ...

It was the reason why Rome withheld for centuries her full approval from the council of Constantinople. (1215.) She could not safely give it till her Eastern rival was humiliated; and this was not till the time of the Latin Emperors in the thirteenth century."

John Bugay said...

These historical studies pay themselves off - you get to see just how fake the RC historical narrative really is. :)

Calling it "fake" is really being kind. But Rome does not have the ability to be honest with their story. Instead, the story that they tell is one that has been carefully crafted to keep all the skeletons in the closets and to really enable them to present an ecclesiastical smiley face to the world. But their history is much more sinister.

And I'm convinced that "telling what really happened" is one of the better apologetics we can make from our side.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

I've been informed by an Eastern Catholic that the first pope wasn't Apostle Peter. The first pope was someone named Linus.

I never knew that. Did you guys know that?

steelikat said...

I knew that. Peter was an apostle, not a bishop. They are clearly different ministries, scripturally. Of course I think it is anachronistic, to say the least, to call Linus a "pope." He was a real person, one of the early Christians.

Reform said...

It is interesting that in 649 Pope Martin was elevated to this rank withour the exarch's sanction. This caused Constans II (emperor) to exercise his power and order to arrest the pope. The pope was eventually arrested and tried in the East (Constantinople) in a senatorial court. He was charged with treason. He was to be put to death, but the emperor only banished him, maybe bacause he was very old. All this shows the power of the emperor over the church and bishops. I took this from a book I am reading in my class (History of he Byzantine State, George Ostrogorsky).

Constantine said...

Hey Viisaus,

Thanks for the link to the Milmann book. And how cool it's free and in Kindle format!

And John, thanks for the refresher on Ravenna. After the emperor moved his throne to that city, Nicaea's grant to Rome based on its imperial status was...well...gone. The bishop of Ravenna could make the claim to be the "pope" which is why, of course, Roman bishops so loudly decried these canons.


Viisaus said...

"It is interesting that in 649 Pope Martin was elevated to this rank withour the exarch's sanction. This caused Constans II (emperor) to exercise his power and order to arrest the pope."

In all fairness, it should be pointed out that pope Martin could be seen as a martyr for orthodox truth - he was struck down because he opposed the theology of Monothelite Byzantine emperor Constans.

But it has been claimed that the memory of Martin's humiliation burned in the minds of those 8th century popes who rebelled against Byzantine authority and forged the Donation of Constantine ("It's payback time!").

From Milman's History:

pp. 277-280

"But Pope Martin was not content with anathematizing the erroneous doctrine of the Single Will, with humbling the rival prelate of Constantinople by excommunication in full council, with declaring the edict of the deceased Emperor Heraclius, the Ecthesis, absolutely impious; he denounced as of equal impiety the Type of the reigning Emperor.

Martin obeyed the summons of the Exarch to accompany him to the Lateran palace; there he was permitted to see some of the clergy. But suddenly he was harried into a litter, the gates of Rome closed to prevent his partisans from following him, he was carried to the harbor of Portus, embarked and landed at Messina. Thence to Avidos, on the island of Naxos, where he was first permitted the use of a bath. The pious clergy crowded with their votive presents: the presents were seized, and the donors beaten back by the soldiery: "he who is a friend to Pope Martin is an enemy to the State." From Avidos a messenger was sent to Constantinople, to announce the arrival of the heretic and rebel, the enemy and disturber of the whole Roman empire.

The Pope was carried out to be exposed in a public place, where the Emperor could see him from a window. He was then half stripped of his clothes, which were rent down, amid the anathemas of the people. The executioner fixed an iron collar round his neck, and led him through the city to the Praetorium, with a sword carried before him. He was then cast, first into a dungeon, where murderers were confined, then into another chamber, where he lay half naked and shivering with cold. The order for his execution was expected every moment. The next day the Patriarch Paul was lying on his death-bed, and besought the Emperor to show mercy to the persecuted Martin. 2 Martin, who hoped for speedy martyrdom, heard this with regret.

For eighty-five days Martin languished in prison: he was at length taken away, and embarked for the inhospitable shores of Cherson. At Cherson he died.

Such was the end of a Pope of the seventh century, who dared to resist the will of the Emperor."

Viisaus said...

An academic book has recently been published about this little-known, less than glamorous era of papacy:

Byzantine Rome and the Greek Popes: Eastern influences on Rome and the papacy from Gregory the Great to Zacharias, A.D. 590–752 (2007) by Andrew J. Ekonomou.

A detailed Wikipedia page on this subject has been set up - it relies mostly on Ekonomou's book as its source:

Byzantine Papacy

We can see that it was through skillful realpolitik with the Byzantine court that papal power increased in this period:

"Vitalian heaped upon Constans II honors and ceremony (including a tour of St. Peter's tomb), even while Constans II's workmen were stripping down the bronze from the monuments of the city to be melted down and returned to Constantinople with the emperor when he departed.[30] However, both Vitalian and Constans II would have been confident upon his departure that the political and religious relationship between Rome and Constantinople was effectively stabilized, leaving Constans II free to focus his forces against the Arabs.[33]

After Constans II was murdered in Sicily by Mezezius, Vitalian refused to support Mezezius's usurpation of the throne, gaining the favor of Constans II's son and successor, Constantine IV.[34] Constantine IV returned the favor by refusing to support the striking of Vitalian's name from the diptychs of Byzantine churches and depriving Ravenna of autocephalous status, returning it to papal jurisdiction.[35]

Over the next ten years, reconciliation increased the power of papacy: the church of Ravenna abandoned its claim to independent status (formerly endorsed by Constans II), imperial taxation was lessened, and the right of papal confirmation was delegated from Constantinople to the Exarch of Ravenna.[30]

It was during this period that the Papacy began "thinking of the Universal Church not as the sum of individual churches as the East did, but as synonymous with the Roman Church".[36]"

Viisaus said...

"The pope was a subject of the emperor, and from the sixth to the eight century the Roman bishop elected by the clergy and people of Rome had to be confirmed by the emperor in Constantinople before he could be consecrated. [And yes, it was the forged “Donation of Constantine” that enabled Rome to break free of this domination]."

Edward Gibbon saw this issue in his usual cynical manner - but in this case, cynicism might have been justified:

"This memorable donation was introduced to the world by an epistle of Adrian the First, who exhorts Charlemagne to imitate the liberality, and revive the name, of the great Constantine. (68) According to the legend, the first of the Christian emperors was healed of the leprosy, and purified in the waters of baptism, by St. Silvester, the Roman bishop; and never was physician more gloriously recompensed. His royal proselyte withdrew from the seat and patrimony of St. Peter; declared his resolution of founding a new capital in the East; and resigned to the popes the free and perpetual sovereignty of Rome, Italy, and the provinces of the West. (69)

This fiction was productive of the most beneficial effects. The Greek princes were convicted of the guilt of usurpation; and the revolt of Gregory was the claim of his lawful inheritance. The popes were delivered from their debt of gratitude; and the nominal gifts of the Carlovingians were no more than the just and irrevocable restitution of a scanty portion of the ecclesiastical state."

Matthew D. Schultz said...

So you are now spamming multiple threads? This is rather immature behavior.

Viisaus said...

You have worned out your welcome here, Gormley - we can do without you smugly chanting mantras like some brainwashed Moonie cultist.

zipper778 said...

Michael, way to make Roman Catholics look bad.

At first I thought it was an accident, but you posted it differently sometimes and you redid it over 30 times.

Way to be mature and grown up Michael. How old are you again, 10?

PeaceByJesus said...

I am not sure if the statement "the murderer Damasus" is that he really was, but the 1st Amendment was not yet ratified.

WP states regarding the battle btwn the two faction of Ursinus Damasus, thst

Church historians, such as St. Jerome and Rufinus, championed Damasus. At a synod in 378 Ursinus was condemned and Damasus exonerated and declared the true pope. The former antipope continued to intrigue against Damasus for the next few years, and unsuccessfully attempted to revive his claim on Damasus's death. Ursinus was among the Arian party in Milan, according to Ambrose (Epistle iv).

This dissension climaxed with a riot which led to a three-day massacre and to the rare intervention of Emperor Valentinian I to uphold public order. Damasus prevailed, but only with the support of the city prefect. Once he was securely consecrated bishop of Rome, his men attacked Ursinus and his remaining supporters who were seeking refuge in the Liberian basilica, resulting in a massacre of one hundred and thirty seven supporters of Ursinus. Damasus was also accused of murder before a later prefect, but his rich friends secured the personal intervention of the emperor to rescue him from this humiliation. The reputations of both Damasus and the Roman church in general suffered greatly due to these two unseemly incidents."

BTW, there is an interesting blog on 10 Worst Popes of all time

John Bugay said...

PBJ, regarding the phrase "the murderer Damasus," I'll stand by that appellation. J.N.D. Kelly ("Oxford Dictionary of the Popes") notes that Damasus hired the mob [and note both the nomenclature and the location], which "savagely attacked the Ursinians."

As for Jerome, he was in good part a good toady who supported Damasus because Damasus gave him a job.

Ambrose, bishop of Milan (374-397) overshadowed Damasus during his lifetime, but Collins notes "his physical proximity to the [Western imperial court] enabled him to stage dramatic confrontations with emperors when he felt their decisions were morally wrong. He was also able to put in a good word for Damasus as successive accusations reached Milan, but he himself ignored the pope's patriarchal authority" (Collins, 56).

John Bugay said...

Thanks, by the way, for that link to the "10 worst popes". That would be an interesting one to follow up with from the point of view of legitimate sources. I'll bet they were every bit as bad as their reputations, if not worse.

PeaceByJesus said...

Thanks for the further info. As for the link, yes, that needs research and refs. It is especially pertinent as regards Rome's historical argument of unbroken succession for her perpetuated Petrine Papacy.

As stated before, the New Testament disallows impenitent sinners such as are described in first Corinthians 5:11 from being even church members, or being "in the faith," (2Cor. 12:21; 13:5) and thus such were to be put away.(V. 13)

Verse12 also indicates that Paul had no interest in ruling over those that are without the church, a domain he relegates to the state. (Rm. 13:1-7)

But thank God for his mercy, as he calls all to repentance and restoration

PeaceByJesus said...

I transcribed a portion of p. 22 of Sullivan book (p. 221 was not available on Google books) using free OCR software (the Greek names are replaced by xxx by me):

It seems inconceivable that, if there had been a bishop in charge of the church of Corinth at that time, Clement would not have said something about the obligation of the guilty parties to submit to their bishop or about his role in restoring good order to his church.

However, Jones sees a hint of the existence of a bishop in Corinth in the analogy Clement gives for good order: namely, that in the liturgy of the Old Law the high priest, priests, Levites and laity each had their proper tasks. As noted above, this is one of several examples Clement offers of good order, and nothing in the letter supports the conclusion that the Corinthian church must also have had its "high priest."

The other reason tor the common opinion that a college of presbyters led the church of Rome well into the second century is based on The Shepherd of Hermas, a work generally agreed to have been written in Rome during the first half of that century. As in I Clement, the terms used here to refer to people in leadership roles are all in the plural: "leaders" [xxx] "presbyters who preside over the church" [xxx] "leaders of the church and occupants of the seats of honor"...The Shepherd makes no reference to any one person having a role of leadership in the church.
However, the argument is not based merely on silence about a bishop; in my view the stronger evidence in both I Clement and The Shepherd is the consistent use ofthe plural in referring to those in positions of leadership. Hence I cannot agree with Jones's judgment that there seems little reason to doubt the presence of a bishop in Rome already in the ?rst century. [Francis Sullivan, in his work From Apostles to Bishops , p. 222].