Remember this citation as evidence that the early papacy [and for the papacy, note that “early” here is in the sixth century] had some sort of “divine institution.”
Testimony from the Early Fathers:In the comments from that last thread, the discussion turned to Pope Damasus (366-384 AD). At question was my appellation “the murderer Pope Damasus,” but as I said there, 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”, [followers of Ursinus, a rival of Damasus’s] and killing 137 people in the process.
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 [i.e. Rome] the Catholic religion has always been kept unsullied.’ (qtd in This Rock, October 1998).
“Pope St. Damasus,” of course, is officially a Saint of the Roman Catholic Church. He personifies the legacy, which we see today, that any amount of lying or criminal activity can be excused if it is done in the name of Mother Rome.
Since the mid third century there had been a growing assimilation of Christian and secular culture. It is already in evidence long before Constantine with the art of the Christian burial sites round the city, the catacombs. With the imperial adoption of Christianity, this process accelerated. In Damasus’ Rome, wealthy Christians gave each other gifts in which Christian symbols went alongside images of Venus, nereids and sea-monsters, and representations of pagan-style wedding-processions.It should be noted that this “Latinization” was one of the things that the Reformation worked to undo. It was the focus of the motto, ”ad fontes” [“To the sources.”] As Alister McGrath has noted in his “Introduction to Christian Theology,” “the Vulgate translation of several major New Testament texts could not be justified.” Nevertheless, he said, “a number of medieval church practices and beliefs were based upon these texts.” So in addition to some of the forgeries and works of fiction upon which the papacy aggrandized itself, Roman doctrines themselves were founded upon or expanded with translation errors. These included:
This Romanisation of the Church was not all a matter of worldiness, however. The bishops of the imperial capital had to confront the Roman character of their city and their see. They set about finding a religious dimension to that Romanitias which would have profound implications for the nature of the papacy. Pope Damasus in particular took this task to heart. He set himself to interpret Rome’s past in the light not of paganism, but of Christianity. He would Latinise the Church, and Christianise Latin. He appointed as his secretary the greatest Latin scholar of the day, the Dalmatian presbyter Jerome, and commissioned him to turn the crude dog-Latin of the Bible versions [currently] used in the church into something more urbane and polished. Jerome’s work was never completed, but the Vulgate Bible, as it came to be called, rendered the scriptures of ancient Israel and the early Church into an idiom which Romans could recognize as their own. The covenant legislation of the ancient tribes was now cast in the language of the Roman law-courts [emphasis added], and Jerome’s version of the promises to Peter used familiar Roman legal words for binding and loosing -- ligare and solver -- which underlined the legal character of the Pope’s unique claims. (Eamon Duffy, “Saints and Sinners, A History of the Popes, New Haven and London, Yale Nota Bene, Yale University Press ©1997 and 2001, pgs 38-39)
Ephesians 5:31-32: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. The Vulgate translation inserted the word “sacramentum” here, where the Greek word is mysterion. Erasmus pointed out that this Greek word simply meant “mystery.” The Ephesians passage had no reference whatsoever to marriage being a “sacrament.” Nevertheless, medieval theologians justified the inclusion of marriage on the list of sacraments, in good part, because of this mistranslation.Six centuries later, after the east/west split, at which time anyone who was likely to protest was out of the picture, Pope Gregory VII asserted, “That the Roman church has never erred; nor will it err to all eternity, the Scripture bearing witness.” But it erred in the mistranslation of those very Scriptures. It sullied “the catholic religion” with its own efforts to glorify Rome.
Matthew 4:17: From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” The Vulgate mistranslated the word “repent” as “do penance.” As McGrath noted, “this translation suggested that the coming of the kingdom of heaven had a direct connection with the sacrament of penance. Erasmus, following Valla, pointed out” the correct translation. “In other words, where the Vulgate seemed to refer to an outward practice (the sacrament of penance), Erasmus insisted that the reference was to an inward attitude, that of “being repentant.”
Luke 1:28: The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” The Vulgate translated the Greek for “highly favored” as “full of grace,” implying that Mary was somehow a reservoir of grace to be dispensed. Erasmus pointed this out as well. “Mary was one who had found God’s favor,” as McGrath notes. Not that she was one who could bestow grace upon others.
Roman Catholics ask us all the time, “when did the Roman church fall?” It was not necessarily a “fall,” but more like an erosion. Constant erosion, at greater and lesser rates of erosion. But it was an erosion of the Gospel message, at the expense of the constant aggrandization of the bishops of Rome, and the constant aggrandization of Rome itself.