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§ 34. Papal Infallibility Explained, and Tested by Tradition and Scripture.
I. For Infallibility.
The older defenders of Infallibility are chiefly Bellarmin, Ballerini, Litta, Alphons de Liguori (whom the Pope raised to the dignity of a doctor ecclesiæ, March 11, 1872), Card. Orsi, Perrone, and Joseph Count du Maistre (Sardinian statesman, d. at Turin Feb. 26, 1821, author of Du Pape, 1819; new edition, Paris, 1843, with the Homeric motto: εἶς κοίρανος ἔστω.
During and after the Vatican Council: the works of Archbishops Manning and Dechamps, already quoted, pp. 134, 135.
Jos. Cardoni (Archbishop of Edessa, in partibus): Elucubratio de dogmatica Romani Pontificis Infallibilitate ejusque Definibilitate, Romæ (typis Civilitatis Cattolicæ), 1870 (May, 174 pp.). The chief work on the Papal side, clothed with a semi-official character.
Hermann Rump: Die Unfehlbarkeit den Papstes und die Stellung der in Deutschland verbreiteten theologischen Lehrbücher zu dieser Lehre, Münster, 1870 (173 pp.).
Franz Friedhoff (Prof. at Münster): Gegen-Erwägungen über die päpstliche Unfehlbarkeit, Münster, 1869 (21 pp.). Superficial.
Flor. Riess and Karl von Weber (Jesuits): Das Oekum. Concil. Stimmen aus Maria-Laach, Neue Folge, No. X. Die päpstliche Unfehlbarkeit und der alte Glaube der Kirche, Freiburg im Breisgau, 1870 (110pp.).
G. Bickel: Gründe fur die Unfehlbarkeit des Kirchenoberhauptes nebst Widerlegung der Einwürfe, Münster, 1870.
Rev. P. Weninger (Jesuit): L’infaillibilité du Pape devant la raison et l’écriture, les papes et les conciles, les pères et les théologiens, les rois et les empereurs. Translated from the German into French by P. Bélét. (Highly spoken of by Pius IX. in a brief to Abbé Bélét, Nov. 17, 1869; see Friedberg, l.c. p. 487. Weninger wrote besides several pamphlets on Infallibility in German, Innsbruck, 1841; Graz, 1853; in English, New York and Cincinnati, 1868. Archbishop Kenrick, in his Concio; speaks of him as 'a pious and extremely zealous but ignorant man,' whom he honored with 'the charity of silence' when requested to recommend one of his books.)
Widerlegung der vier unter die Väter des Concils vertheilten Brochüren gegen die Unfehlbarkeit (transl. of Animadversiones in quatuor contra Romani Pontificis infallibilitatem editos libellos), Münster, 1870.
Bishop Jos. Fessler: Die wahre und die falsche Unfehlbarkeit der Päpste (against Prof. von Schulte), Wien,1871.
Bishop Ketteler: Das unfehlbare Lehramt des Papstes, nach der Entscheidung des Vaticanischen Concils, Mainz, 1871, 3te Aufl.
M. J. Scheeben: Schulte und Döllinger, gegen das Concil. Kritische Beleuchtung, etc., Regensburg, 1871.
Amédée de Margerie: Lettre au R. P. Gratry sur le Pape Honorius et le Bréviaire Romain, Nancy, 1870
Paul Bottala (S.J.): Pope Honorius before the Tribunal of Reason and History, London, 1868.
II. Against Infallibility.
(a) By Members of the Council.
Mgr. H. L. C. Maret (Bishop of Sura, in part., Canon of St. Denis and Dean of the Theological Faculty in Paris): Du Concile général et de la paix religieuse, Paris, 1869, 2 Tom. (pp. 554 and 555). An elaborate defense of Gallicanism; since revoked by the author, and withdrawn from sale.
Peter Richard Kenrick (Archbishop of St. Louis): Concio in Concilio Vaticano habenda at non habita, Neapoli (typis fratrum de Angelis in via Pellegrini 4), 1870. Reprinted in Friedrich, Documenta, I. pp. 187–226. An English translation in L. W. Bacon's An Inside View of the Vatican Council, New York, pp. 90–166.
Quæstio (no place or date of publication). A very able Latin dissertation occasioned and distributed (perhaps partly prepared) by Bishop Ketteler, of Mayence, during the Council. It was printed but not published in Switzerland, in 1870, and reprinted in Friedrich, Documenta, I. pp. 1–128.
La liberté du Concile et l’infaillibilité. Written or inspired by Darboy, Archbishop of Paris. Only flfty copies were printed, for distribution among the Cardinals. Reprinted in Friedrich, Documenta, I. pp. 129–186.
Card. Rauscher: Observationes quædam de infallibilitatis ecclesiæ subjecto, Neapoli and Vindobonæ, 1870 (83 pp.).
De Summi Pontificis infallibilitate personali, Neapoli, 1870 (32 pp.). Written by Prof. Salesius Mayer, and distributed in the Council by Cardinal Schwarzenberg.
Jos. de Hefele (Bishop of Rottenburg, formerly Prof. at Tübingen): Causa Honorii Papæ, Neap. 1870 (pp. 28). The same: Honorius und das sechste allgemeine Concil (with an appendix against Pennachi, 43 pp.), Tübingen, 1870. English translation, with introduction, by Dr. Henry B. Smith, in the Presbyterian Quarterly and Princeton Review, New York, for April, 1872, pp. 273 sqq. Against Hefele comp. Jos. Pennachi (Prof. of Church History in Rome): De Honorii I. Pontificis Romani causa in Concilio VI.
(b) By Catholics, not Members of the Council.
Janus: The Pope and the Council, 1869. See above, p. 134.
Erwägungen für die Bischöfe del Conciliums über die Frage der päpstlichen Unfehlbarkeit, Oct. 1869. Dritte Aufl. München. [By J. von Döllinger.]
J. von Döllinger: Einige Worte über die Unfehlbarkeitsadresse, etc., München, 1870.
Jos. H. Reinkens (Prof. of Church History in Breslau): Ueber päpstliche Unfehlbarkeit, München, 1870.
Clemens Schmitz (Cath. Priest): Ist der Papst unfehlbart? Aus Deutschlands und des P. Deharbe Catechismen beantwortet, München, 1870.
J. Fr. Ritter von Schulte (Prof. in Prague, now in Bonn): Das Unfehlbarkeits-Decret vom 18 Juli 1870 auf seine Verbindlichkeit geprüft, Prague, 1870. Die Macht der röm. Päpste über Fürsten, Länder, Vöker, etc. seit Gregor VII. zur Würdigung ihrer Unfehlbarkeit beleuchtet, etc., 2d edition, Prague. The same, translated into English (The Power of the Roman Popes over Princes, etc.), by Alfred Somers [a brother of Schulte], Adelaide, 1871.
A. Gratry (Priest of the Oratoire and Member of the French Academy): Four Letters to the Bishop of Orleans (Dupanloup) and the Archbishop of Malines (Dechamps), in French, Paris, 1870; several editions, also translated into German, English, etc. These learned and eloquent letters gave rise to violent controversies. They were denounced by several Bishops, and prohibited in their dioceses; approved by others, and by Montalembert. The Pope praised the opponents. Against him wrote Dechamps (Three letters to Gratry, in French; German translation, Mayence, 1870) and A. de Margerie. Gratry recanted on his death-bed.
P. Le Page Renouf: The Condemnation of Pope Honorius, London, 1868.
Antonio Magrassi: Lo Schema sull’ infallibilità personale del Romano Pontefice, Alessandria, 1870.
Della pretesa infallibilità personale del Romano Pontefice, 2d ed. Firenze, 1870 (anonymous, 80 pp.).
J. A. B. Lutterbeck: Die Clementinen und ihr Verhältniss zum Unfehlbarkeitsdogma, Giessen, 1872 (pp. 85).
Joseph Langen (Old Catholic Prof. in Bonn): Das Vaticanische Dogma von dem Universal-Episcopat und der Unfehlbarkeit des Papstes in s. Verh. zur exeg. Ueberlieferung vom 7 bis zum 13ten Jahrh. 3 Parts. Bonn, 1871–73.
The sinlessness of the Virgin Mary and the personal infallibility of the Pope are the characteristic dogmas of modern Romanism, the two test dogmas which must decide the ultimate fate of this system. Both were enacted under the same Pope, and both faithfully reflect his character. Both have the advantage of logical consistency from certain premises, and seem to be the very perfection of the Romish form of piety and the Romish principle of authority. Both rest on pious fiction and fraud; both present a refined idolatry by clothing a pure humble woman and a mortal sinful man with divine attributes. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which exempts the Virgin Mary from sin and guilt, perverts Christianism into Marianism; the dogma of Infallibility, which exempts the Bishop of Rome from error, resolves Catholicism into Papalism, or the Church into the Pope. The worship of a woman is virtually substituted for the worship of Christ, and a man-god in Rome for the God-Man in heaven. This is a severe judgment, but a closer examination will sustain it.
The dogma of the Immaculate Conception, being confined to the sphere of devotion, passed into the modern Roman creed without serious difficulty; but the dogma of Papal Infallibility, which involves a question of absolute power, forms an epoch in the history of Romanism, and created the greatest commotion and a new secession. It is in its very nature the most fundamental and most comprehensive of of all dogmas. It contains the whole system in a nutshell. It constitutes a new rule of faith. It is the article of the standing or falling Church. It is the direct antipode of the Protestant principle of the absolute supremacy and infallibility of the Holy Scriptures. It establishes a perpetual divine oracle in the Vatican. Every Catholic may hereafter say, I believe—not because Christ, or the Bible, or the Church, but—because the infallible Pope has so declared and commanded. Admitting this dogma, we admit not only the whole body of doctrines contained in the Tridentine standards, but all the official Papal bulls, including the mediæval monstrosities of the Syllabus (1864), the condemnation of Jansenism, the bull 'Unam Sanctam' of Boniface VIII. (1302), which, under pain of damnation, claims for the Pope the double sword, the secular as well as the spiritual, over the whole Christian world, and the power to depose princes and to absolve subjects from their oath of allegiance.322322 This bull has been often disowned by Catholics (e.g., by the Universities of Sorbonne, Louvain, Alcala, Salamanca, when officially asked by Mr. Pitt, Prime Minister of Great Britain, 1788, also by Martin John Spalding, Archbishop of Baltimore, in his Lectures on Evidences, 1866), and, to some extent, even by Pius IX. (see Friedberg, p. 718), but it is unquestionably official, and was renewed and approved by the fifth Lateran Council, Dec. 19, 1516. Paul III. and Pius V. acted upon it, the former in excommunicating and deposing Henry VIII. of England, the latter in deposing Queen Elizabeth, exciting her subjects to rebellion, and urging Philip of Spain to declare war against her (see the Bullarium Rom., Camden, Burnet, Froude, etc.). The Papal Syllabus sanctions it by implication, in No. 23, which condemns as an error the opinion that Roman Pontiffs have exceeded the limits of their power. The past is irreversibly settled, and in all future controversies on faith and morals we must look to the same unerring tribunal in the Vatican. Even œcumenical Councils are superseded hereafter, and would be a mere waste of time and strength.
On the other hand, if the dogma is false, it involves a blasphemous assumption, and makes the nearest approach to the fulfillment of St. Paul's prophecy of the man of sin, who 'as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself off that he is God' (2 Thess. ii. 4).
Let us first see what the dogma does not mean, and what it does mean.
It does not mean that the Pope is infallible in his private opinions' on theology and religion. As a man, he may be a heretic (as Liberius, Honorius, and John XXII.), or even an unbeliever (as John XXIII., and, perhaps, Leo X.), and yet, at the same time, infallible as Pope, after the fashion of Balaam and Kaiphas.
Nor does it mean that infallibility extends beyond the proper sphere of religion and the Church. The Pope may be ignorant of science and literature, and make grave mistakes in his political administration, or be misinformed on matters of fact (unless necessarily involved in doctrinal decisions), and yet be infallible in defining articles of faith.323323 Pope Pius IX. started as a political reformer, and set in motion that revolution which, notwithstanding his subsequent reactionary course, resulted in the unification of Italy and the loss of the States of the Church, against which he now so bitterly protests.
Infallibility does not imply impeccability. And yet freedom from error and freedom from sin are so nearly connected in men's minds that it seems utterly impossible that such moral monsters as Alexander VI. and those infamous Popes who disgraced humanity during the Roman pornocracy in the tenth and eleventh centuries, should have been vicars of Jesus Christ and infallible organs of the Holy Ghost. If the inherent infallibility of the visible Church logically necessitates the infallibility of the visible head, it is difficult to see why the same logic should not with equal conclusiveness derive the personal holiness of the head from the holiness of the body.
On the other hand, the dogma does mean that all official utterances of the
Roman Pontiff addressed to the Catholic Church on matters of Christian faith and
duty are infallibly true, and must be accepted with the same faith as the word
of the living God. They are not simply final in the sense in which all decisions
of an absolute government or a supreme court of justice are final until
abolished or superseded by other
decisions,324324 In this general sense Joseph de Maistre explains infallibility
to be the same in the spiritual order that sovereignty means in the civil order:
'L’un et l’autre expriment cette
qui les domine toutes, dont toutes les autres dérivent, qui gouverne et
n’est pas gouvernée, qui juge et
n’est pas jugée. Quand nous disons que l’Eglise est infaillible, nous ne
demandons pour elle, il est bien essentiel de l’observer, aucun privilége
particulier; nous demandons seulement qu’elle jouisse du droit commun à
toutes les souverainetés possible qui toutes agissent néssairement
comme infaillibles; car tout gouvernement est absolu; et du moment où l’on peut
lui résister sous prétexte d’erreur ou d’injustice, il
n’existe plus.' Du Pape, ch. i., pp. 15, 16. but they are
irreformable, and can never be revoked. This infallibility extends over eighteen
centuries, and is a special privilege conferred by Christ upon Peter, and
through him upon all his legitimate successors. It belongs to every Pope from
Clement to Pius IX., and to every Papal bull addressed to the Catholic world. It
is personal, i.e., inherent in Peter and the Popes; it is independent, and needs
no confirmation from the Church or an œcumenical Council, either preceding or
succeeding; its decrees are binding, and can not be rejected without running the risk of eternal
damnation.325325 Archbishop Manning (Petri Privil. III. pp. 112, 113)
defines the doctrine of Infallibility in this way:
'1. The privilege of infallibility is personal,
inasmuch as it attaches to the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter, as a public person,
distinct from, but inseparably united to, the Church; but it is not
personal, in that it is attached, not to the private person, but to the primacy
which he alone possesses.
'2. It is also independent, inasmuch as it does not depend upon either the Ecclesia docens or the Ecclesia discens; but it is not independent, in that it depends in all things upon the divine head of the Church, upon the institution of the primacy by him, and upon the assistance of the Holy Ghost.
'3. It is absolute, inasmuch as it can be circumscribed by no human or ecclesiastical law; it is not absolute, in that it is circumscribed by the office of guarding, expounding, and defending the deposit of revelation.
'4. It is separate in no sense, nor can be, nor can be so called, without manifold heresy, unless the word be taken to mean distinct. In this sense, the Roman Pontiff is distinct from the Episcopate, and is a distinct subject of infallibility; and in the exercise of his supreme doctrinal authority, or magisterium, he does not depend for the infallibility of his definitions upon the consent or consultation of the Episcopate, but only on the divine assistance of the Holy Ghost.'
Even within the narrow limits of the Vatican decision there is room for controversy on the precise meaning of the figurative term ex cathedra loqui, and the extent of faith and morals, viz., whether Infallibility includes only the supernatural order of revealed truth and duty, or also natural and political duties, and questions of mere history, such as Peter's residence in Koine, the number of œcumenical Councils, the teaching of Jansen and Quesnel, and other disputed facts closely connected with dogmas. But the main point is clear enough. The Ultramontane theory is established, Gallicanism is dead and buried.
Ultramontanism and Gallicanism.
The Vatican dogma is the natural completion of the Papal polity, as the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary is the completion of the Papal cultus.
If we compare the Papal or Ultramontane theory with the Episcopal or Gallican theory, it has the undeniable advantage of logical consistency. The two systems are related to each other like monarchy and aristocracy, or rather like absolute monarchy and limited monarchy. The one starts from the divine institution of the Primacy (Matt. xvi. 18), and teaches the infallibility of the head; the other starts from the divine institution of the Episcopate (Matt. xviii. 18), and teaches the infallibility of the body and the superiority of an œcumenical Council over the Pope. Conceding once the infallibility of the collective Episcopate, we must admit, as a consequence, the infallibility of the Primacy, which represents the Episcopate, and forms its visible and permanent centre. If the body of the teaching Church can never err, the head can not err; and, vice versa, if the head is liable to error, the body can not be free from error. The Gallican theory is an untenable via media. It secures only a periodic and intermittent infallibility, which reveals itself in an œcumenical Council, and then relapses into a quiescent state; but the Ultramontane theory teaches an unbroken, ever living, and ever active infallibility, which alone can fully answer the demands of an absolute authority.
To refute Papal infallibility is to refute also Episcopal infallibility; for the higher includes the lower. The Vatican Council is the best argument against the infallibility of œcumenical Councils, for it sanctioned a fiction, in open and irreconcilable contradiction to older œcumenical Councils, which not only assumed the possibility of Papal fallibility, but actually condemned a Pope as a heretic. The fifth Lateran Council (1512) declared the decrees of the Council of Pisa (1409) null and void; the Council of Florence denied the validity of the Council of Basle, and this denied the validity of the former. The Council of Constance condemned and burned John Hus for teaching evangelical doctrines; and this fact forced upon Luther, at the disputation with Eck at Leipzig, the conviction that even œcumenical Councils may err. Rome itself has rejected certain canons of Constantinople and Chalcedon, which put the Pope on a par with the Patriarch of Constantinople; and a strict construction of the Papal theory would rule out the old œcumenical Councils, because they were not convened nor controlled by the Pope; while the Greek Church rejects all Councils which were purely Latin.
The Bible makes no provision and has no promise for an œcumenical Council.326326 The Synod of Jerusalem, composed of Apostles, Elders, and Brethren, and legislating in favor of Christian liberty, differs very widely from a purely hierarchical Council, which excludes Elders and Brethren, and imposes new burdens upon the conscience. The Church existed and flourished for more than three hundred years before such a Council was heard of. Large assemblies are often ruled by passion, intrigue, and worldly ambition (remember the complaints of Gregory of Nazianzum on the Synods of the Nicene age). Majorities are not necessarily decisive in matters of faith. Christ promised to be even with two or three who are gathered in his name (Matt. xviii. 20). Elijah and the seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal were right over against the great mass of the people of Israel. Athanasius versus mundum represented the truth, and the world versus Athanasium was in error during the ascendency of Arianism. In the eighteenth century the Church, both Catholic and Protestant, was under the power of infidelity, and true Christianity had to take refuge in small communities. Augustine maintained that one Council may correct another, and attain to a more perfect knowledge of truth. The history of the Church is unintelligible without the theory of progressive development, which implies many obstructions and temporary diseases. All the attributes of the Church are subject to the law of gradual expansion and growth, and will not be finally complete till the second coming of our Lord.
Papal Infallibility and Personal Responsibility.
The Christian Church, as a divine institution, can never fail and never lose the truth. Christ has pledged his Spirit and life-giving presence to his people to the end of time, and even to two or three of his humblest disciples assembled in his name; yet they are not on that account infallible. He gave authority in matters of discipline to every local Church (Matt. xviii. 17); and yet no one claims infallibility to every congregation. The Holy Spirit will always guide believers into the truth, and the unerring Word of God can never perish. But local churches, like individuals, may fall into error, and be utterly destroyed from the face of the earth. The true Church of Christ always makes progress, and will go on conquering and to conquer to the end of the world. But the particular churches of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, Asia Minor, and North Africa, where once the Apostles and St. Augustine taught, have disappeared, or crumbled into ruin, or have been overrun by the false prophet.
The truth will ever be within the reach of the sincere inquirer wherever the gospel is preached and the sacraments are rightly administered. God has revealed himself plainly enough for all purposes of salvation; and yet not so plainly as to supersede the necessity of faith, and to resolve Christianity into a mathematical demonstration. He has given us a rational mind to think and to judge, and a free will to accept or to reject. Christian faith is no blind submission, but an intelligent assent. It implies anxiety to inquire as well as willingness to receive. We are expressly directed to 'prove all things, and to hold fast that which is good' (1 Thess. v. 21); to try the spirits whether they are of God (1 John iv. 1), and to refuse obedience even to an angel from heaven if he preach a different gospel (Gal. i. 8). The Berœan Jews are commended as being more noble than those of Thessalonica, because they received the Word with all readiness of mind, and yet searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so (Acts xvii. 11). It was from the infallible Scriptures alone, and not from tradition, that Paul and Apollos reasoned, after the example of Christ, who appeals to Moses and the Prophets, and speaks disparagingly of the traditions of the elders as obscuring the Word of God or destroying its true effect.327327 It is remarkable that Christ always uses παράδοσις in an unfavorable sense: see Matt. xv. 2, 3, 6; Mark vii. 3, 5, 8, 9, 13. So also Paul: Gal. i. 14; Col. ii. 8; while in 1 Cor. xi. 2, and 2 Thess. ii. 15; iii. 6, he uses the term in a good sense, as identical with the gospel he preached.
In opposition to all this the Vatican dogma requires a wholesale slaughter of the intellect and will, and destroys the sense of personal responsibility. The fundamental error, the πρῶτον ψεῦδος of Rome is that she identifies the true ideal Church of Christ with the empirical Church, and the empirical Church with the Romish Church, and the Romish Church with the Papacy, and the Papacy with the Pope, and at last substitutes a mortal man for the living Christ, who is the only and ever present head of the Church, 'which is his body, the fullness of him who filleth all in all.' Christ needs no vicar, and the very idea of a vicar implies the absence of the Master.328328 I add here what Dr. Hodge, of Princeton, says on the Papal theory of Infallibility (Systematic Theology, New York, 1872, Vol. I. pp. 130, 150): 'There is something simple and grand in this theory. It is wonderfully adapted to the tastes and wants of men. It relieves them of personal responsibility. Every thing is decided for them. Their salvation is secured by merely submitting to be saved by an infallible, sin-pardoning, and grace-imparting Church. Many may be inclined to think that it would have been a great blessing had Christ left on earth a visible representative of himself, clothed with his authority to teach and govern, and an order of men dispersed through the world endowed with the gifts of the original Apostles—men every where accessible, to whom we could resort in all times of difficulty and doubt, and whose decisions could be safely received as the decisions of Christ himself. God's thoughts, however, are not as our thoughts. We know that when Christ was on earth men did not believe or obey him. We know that when the Apostles were still living, and their authority was still confirmed by signs, and wonders, and divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost, the Church was distracted by heresies and schisms. If any in their sluggishness are disposed to think that a perpetual body of infallible teachers would be a blessing, all must admit that the assumption of infallibility by the ignorant, the erring, and the wicked, must be an evil inconceivably great. The Romish theory, if true, might be a blessing; if false, it must be an awful curse. That it is false may be demonstrated to the satisfaction of all who do not wish it to be true, and who, unlike the Oxford tractarian, are not determined to believe it because they love it. . . . If the Church be infallible, its authority is no less absolute in the sphere of social and political life. It is immoral to contract or to continue an unlawful marriage, to keep an unlawful oath, to enact unjust laws, to obey a sovereign hostile to the Church. The Church, therefore, has the right to dissolve marriages, to free men from the obligations of their oaths, and citizens from their allegiance, to abrogate civil laws, and to depose sovereigns. These prerogatives have not only been claimed, but time and again exercised by the Church of Rome. They all of right belong to that Church, if it be infallible. As these claims are enforced by penalties involving the loss of the soul, they can not be resisted by those who admit the Church to be infallible. It is obvious, therefore, that where this doctrine is held there can be no liberty of opinion, no freedom of conscience, no civil or political freedom. As the recent œcumenical Council of the Vatican has decided that this infallibility is vested in the Pope, it is henceforth a matter of faith with Romanists, that the Roman Pontiff is the absolute sovereign of the world. All men are bound, on the penalty of eternal death, to believe what he declares to be true, and to do whatever he decides is obligatory.'
Papal Infallibility tested by Tradition.
The dogma of Papal Infallibility is mainly supported by an inferential dogmatic argument derived from the Primacy of Peter, who, as the Vicar of Christ, must also share in his infallibility; or from the nature and aim of the Church, which is to teach men the way of salvation, and must therefore be endowed with an infallible and ever available organ for that purpose, since God always provides the means together with an end. A full-blooded Infallibilist, whose piety consists in absolute submission and devotion to his lord the Pope, is perfectly satisfied with this reasoning, and cares little or nothing for the Bible and for history, except so far as they suit his purpose. If facts disagree with his dogmas, all the worse for the facts. All you have to do is to ignore or to deny them, or to force them, by unnatural interpretations, into reluctant obedience to the dogmas.329329 Archbishop Manning (III. p. 118) speaks of history as 'a wilderness without guide or path,' and says: 'Whensoever any doctrine is contained in the divine revelation of the Church' [the very point which can not be proved in the case before us], 'all difficulties from human history are excluded, as Tertullian lays down, by prescription. The only source of revealed truth is God; the only channel of his revelation is the Church. No human history can declare what is contained in that revelation. The Church alone can determine its limits, and therefore its contents.' But after all, even according to the Roman Catholic theory, Scripture and history or tradition are the two indispensable tests of the truth of a dogma. It has always been held that the Pope and the Bishops are not the creators and judges, but the trustees and witnesses of the apostolic deposit of faith, and that they can define and proclaim no dogma which is not well founded in primitive tradition, written or unwritten. According to the famous rule of Vincentius Lirinensis, a dogma must have three marks of catholicity: the catholicity of time (semper), of space (ubique), and of number (ab omnibus). The argument from tradition is absolutely essential to orthodoxy in the Roman sense, and, as hitherto held, more essential than Scripture proof.330330 This Archbishop Kenrick, in his Concio, frankly admits: 'Irenæi, Tertulliani, Augustini, Vincentii Lirinensis exempla secutus, fidei Catholicæ probationes ex traditione potius quam ex Scripturarum interpretatione quærendas duxi; quæ interpretatio, juxta Tertullianum magis apta est ad veritatem obumbitandum quam demonstrandum.' The difference between Romanism and Protestantism on this point is this: Romanism requires proof from tradition first, from Scripture next, and makes the former indispensable, the latter simply desirable; while Protestantism reverses the order, and with its theory of the Bible as the only rule of faith and practice, and as an inexhaustible mine of truth that yields precious ore to every successive generation of miners, it may even dispense with traditional testimony altogether, provided that a doctrine can be clearly derived from the Word of God.
Now it can be conclusively proved that the dogma of Papal Infallibility, like the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, lacks every one of the three marks of catholicity. It is a comparatively modern innovation. It was not dreamed of for more than a thousand years, and is unknown to this day in the Greek Church, the oldest in the world, and in matters of antiquity always an important witness. The whole history of Christianity would have taken a different course, if in all theological controversies an infallible tribunal in Rome could have been invoked.331331 'Die ganze Geschichte des ersten Jahrtausends der Kirche wäre eine andere gewesen, wenn in dem Bischof von Rom das Bewusstsein, in der Kirche auch nur eine Ahnung davon gewesen wäre, dass dort ein Quell unfehlbarer Wahrheit fliesse. Statt all der bittern, verstörenden Kämpfe gegen wirkliche oder vermeintliche Häretiker, gegen die man Bücher schrieb und Synoden aller Art versammelte, würden alle Wohlmeinende sich auf den unfehlbaren Spruch des Papstes berufen haben, und mehr als einst das Orakel des Apollo zu Delphi würde das zu Rom befragt worden sein. Dagegen war es in jenen Jahrhunderten, als alles Christenthum auf die Spitze eines Dogmas gestellt wurde, nichts unerhörtes, dass auch ein Papst vor der subtilen Bestimmung des siegenden Dogma zum Häretiker wurde.' Hase, Polemik, Buch I. c.iv. p. 161. Ancient Creeds, Councils, Fathers, and Popes can be summoned as witnesses against the Vatican dogma.
1. The four œcumenical Creeds, the most authoritative expressions of the old Catholic faith of the Eastern and Western Churches, contain an article on the 'holy Catholic and Apostolic Church,' but not one word about the Bishops of Rome, or any other local Church. How easy and natural, yea, in view of the fundamental importance of the Infallibility dogma, how necessary would have been the insertion of Roman after the other predicates of the Church, or the addition of the article: 'The Pope of Rome, the successor of Peter and infallible vicar of Christ.' If it had been believed then as now, it would certainly appear at least in the Roman form of the Apostles' Creed; but this is as silent on this point as the Aquilejan, the African, the Gallican, and other forms.
And this uniform silence of all the œcumenical Creeds is strengthened by the numerous local Creeds of the Nicene age, and by the various ante-Nicene rules of faith up to Tertullian and Irenæus, not one of which contains an allusion to such an article of faith.
2. The œcumenical Councils of the first eight centuries, which are recognized by the Greek and Latin Churches alike, are equally silent about, and positively inconsistent with, Papal Infallibility. They were called by Greek Emperors, not by Popes; they were predominantly, and some of them exclusively, Oriental; they issued their decrees in their own name, and in the fullness of authority, without thinking of submitting them to the approval of Rome; they even claimed the right of judging and condemning the Roman Pontiff, as well as any other Bishop or Patriarch.
In the first Nicene Council there was but one representative of the Latin Church (Hosius of Spain); and in the second and the fifth œcumenical Councils there was none at all. The second œcumenical Council (381), in the third canon, put the Patriarch of Constantinople on a par with the Bishop of Rome, assigning to the latter only a primacy of honor; and the fourth œcumenical Council (451) confirmed this canon in spite of the energetic protest of Pope Leo I.
But more than this: the sixth œcumenical Council, held 680, pronounced the anathema on Honorius, 'the former Pope of old Rome,' for teaching officially the Monothelite heresy; and this anathema was signed by all the members of the Council, including the three delegates of the Pope, and was several times repeated by the seventh and eighth Councils, which were presided over by Papal delegates. But we must return to this famous case again in another connection.
3. The Fathers, even those who unconsciously did most service to Rome, and laid the foundation for its colossal pretensions, yet had no idea of ascribing absolute supremacy and infallibility to the Pope.
Clement of Rome, the first Roman Bishop of whom we have any authentic account, wrote a letter to the Church at Corinth—not in his name, but in the name of the Roman Congregation; not with an air of superior authority, but as a brother to brethren—barely mentioning Peter, but eulogizing Paul, and with a clear consciousness of the great difference between an Apostle and a Bishop or Elder.
Ignatius of Antioch, who suffered martyrdom in Rome under Trajan, highly as he extols Episcopacy and Church unity in his seven Epistles, one of which is addressed to the Roman Christians, makes no distinction of rank among Bishops, but treats them as equals.
Irenæus of Lyons, the champion of the Catholic faith against the Gnostic heresy at the close of the second century, and the author of the famous and variously understood passage about the potentior principalitas (προτεία) ecclesiæ Romanæ, sharply reproved Victor of Rome when he ventured to excommunicate the Asiatic Christians for their different mode of celebrating Easter, and told him that it was contrary to Apostolic doctrine and practice to judge brethren on account of eating and drinking, feasts and new moons. Cyprian, likewise a saint and a martyr, in the middle of the third century, in his zeal for visible and tangible unity against the schismatics of his diocese, first brought out the fertile doctrine of the Roman See as the chair of Peter and the centre of Catholic unity; yet with all his Romanizing tendency he was the great champion of the Episcopal solidarity and equality system, and always addressed the Roman Bishop as his 'brother' and 'colleague;' he even stoutly opposed Pope Stephen's view of the validity of heretical baptism, charging him with error, obstinacy, and presumption. He never yielded, and the African Bishops, at the third Council at Carthage (256), emphatically indorsed his opposition. Firmilian, Bishop of Cæsarea, and Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, likewise bitterly condemned the doctrine and conduct of Stephen, and told him that in excommunicating others he only excommunicated himself.
Augustine is often quoted by Infallibilists on account of his famous dictum, Roma locuta est, causa finita est.332332 Or in a modified form: 'Causa finita est, utinam aliquando finiatur error!' Serm. 131, c. 10. See Janus, Rauscher, von Schulte versus Cardoni and Hergenröther, quoted by Frommann, p. 424. But he simply means that, since the Councils of Mileve and Carthage had spoken, and Pope Innocent I. had acceded to their decision, the Pelagian controversy was finally settled (although it was, after all, not settled till after his death, at the Council of Ephesus). Had he dreamed of the abuse made of this utterance,333333 As well as some other of his sententious sayings. His explanation of coge intrare was made to justify religious persecutions, from which his heart would have shrunk in horror. he would have spoken very differently. For the same Augustine apologized for Cyprian's opposition to Pope Stephen on the ground that the controversy had then not yet been decided by a Council, and maintained the view of the liability of Councils to correction and improvement by subsequent Councils. He moreover himself opposed Pope Zosimus, when, deceived by Pelagius, he declared him sound in the faith, although Pope Innocent I. had previously excommunicated him as a dangerous heretic. And so determined were the Africans, under the lead of Augustine (417 and 418), that Zosimus finally saw proper to yield and to condemn Pelagianism in his 'Epistula Tractoria.'
Gregory I., or the Great, the last of the Latin Fathers, and the first of the mediæval Popes (590–604), stoutly protested against the assumption of the title œcumenical or universal Bishop on the part of the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Alexandria, and denounced this whole title and claim as blasphemous, anti-Christian, and devilish, since Christ alone was the Head and Bishop of the Church universal, while Peter, Paul, Andrew, and John, were members under the same Head, and heads only of single portions of the whole. Gregory would rather call himself 'the servant of the servants of God,' which, in the mouths of his successors, pretending to be Bishops of bishops and Lords of lords, has become a shameless irony.334334 The passages of Gregory on this subject are well known to every scholar. And yet the Vatican decree, in ch. iii., by omitting the principal part, makes him say almost the very opposite.
As to the Greek Fathers, it would be useless to quote them, for the entire Greek Church in her genuine testimonies has never accepted the doctrine of Papal supremacy, much less of Papal Infallibility.
4. Heretical Popes.—We may readily admit the rock-like stability of the Roman Church in the early controversies on the Trinity and the Divinity of Christ, as compared with the motion and changeability of the Greek churches during the same period, when the East was the chief theatre of dogmatic controversy and progress. Without some foundation in history, the Vatican dogma could not well have arisen. It would be impossible to raise the claim of infallibility in behalf of the Patriarchs of Jerusalem, or Antioch, or Alexandria, or Constantinople, among whom were noted Arians, Nestorians, Monophysites, Monothelites, and other heretics. Yet there are not a few exceptions to the rule; and as many Popes, in their lives, flatly contradicted their title of holiness, so many departed, in their views, from Catholic truth. That the Popes after the Reformation condemned and cursed Protestant truths well founded in the Scriptures, we leave here out of sight, and confine our reasoning to facts within the limits of Roman Catholic orthodoxy.
The canon law assumes throughout that a Pope may openly teach heresy, or contumaciously contradict the Catholic doctrine; for it declares that, while he stands above all secular tribunals, yet he can be judged and deposed for the crime of heresy.335335 Decret. Gratian. Dist. xl. c. 6, in conformity with the sentence of Hadrian II.: 'Cunctos ipsos judicaturus [Papa], a nemine est judicandus, nisi deprehendatur a fide devius.' See on this point especially von Schulte, Concilien, pp. 188 sqq. This assumption was so interwoven in the faith of the Middle Ages that even the most powerful of all Popes, Innocent III. (d. 1216), gave expression to it when he said that, though he was only responsible to God, he may sin against the faith, and thus become subject to the judgment of the Church.336336 Serm. II. de consecrat. Pontificis: 'In tantum mihi fides necessaria est, cum de cæteris peccatis Deum judicem habeam, ut propter solum peccatum quod in fidem committitur, possim ab Ecclesia judicari.' Innocent IV. (d. 1254) speaks of heretical commands of the Pope, which need not be obeyed. When Boniface VIII. (d. 1303) declared that every creature must obey the Pope at the loss of eternal salvation, he was charged with having a devil, because he presumed to be infallible, which was impossible without witchcraft. Even Hadrian VI., in the sixteenth century, expressed the view, which he did not recant as Pope, that 'if by the Roman Church is understood its head, the Pope, it is certain that he can err even in matters of faith.'
This old Catholic theory of the fallibility of the Pope is abundantly borne out by actual facts, which have been established again and again by Catholic scholars of the highest authority for learning and candor. We need no better proofs than those furnished by them.
Zephyrinus (201–219) and Callistus (219–223) held and taught (according to the 'Philosophumena' of Hippolytus, a martyr and saint) the Patripassian heresy, that God the Father became incarnate and suffered with the Son.
Pope Liberius, in 358, subscribed an Arian creed for the purpose of regaining his episcopate, and condemned Athanasius, 'the father of orthodoxy,' who mentions the fact with indignation.
During the same period, his rival, Felix II., was a decided Arian; but there is a dispute about his legitimacy; some regarding him as an anti-Pope, although he has a place in the Romish Calendar of Saints, and Gregory XIII. (1582) confirmed his claim to sanctity, against which Baronius protested.
In the Pelagian controversy, Pope Zosimus at first indorsed the orthodoxy of Pelagius and Celestius, whom his predecessor, Innocent I., had condemned; but he yielded afterwards to the firm protest of St. Augustine and the African Bishops.
In the Three-Chapter controversy, Pope Vigilius (538–555) showed a contemptible vacillation between two opinions: first indorsing; then, a year afterwards, condemning (in obedience to the Emperor's wishes) the Three Chapters (i.e., the writings of Theodore, Theodoret, and Ibas); then refusing the condemnation; then, tired of exile, submitting to the fifth œcumenical Council (553), which had broken off communion with him; and confessing that he had unfortunately been the tool of Satan, who labors for the destruction of the Church. A long schism in the West was the consequence. Pope Pelagius II. (585) significantly excused this weakness by the inconsistency of St. Peter at Antioch.
John XXII. (d. 1334) maintained, in opposition to Nicholas III. and Clement V. (d. 1314), that the Apostles did not live in perfect poverty, and branded the opposite doctrine of his predecessors as heretical and dangerous. He also held an opinion concerning the middle state of the righteous, which was condemned as heresy by the University of Paris.
Contradictory opinions were taught by different Popes on the sacraments, on the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary (see p. 123), on matrimony, and on the subjection of the temporal power to the Church.337337 See examples under this head in Janus, pp. 54 sqq. (Irrthümer and Widersprüche der Päpste), p. 51 of the London ed.
But the most notorious case of an undeniably official indorsement of heresy by a Pope is that of Honorius I. (625–638), which alone is sufficient to disprove Papal Infallibility, according to the maxim: Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus.338338 Or, as Perrone, himself an Infallibilist, who in his Dogmatic Theology characteristically treats of the Pope before the Holy Scriptures and tradition, puts it: 'Si vel unicus ejusmodi error deprehenderetur, appareret omnes adductas probationes in nihilum redactum iri.' This case has been sifted to the very bottom before and during the Council, especially by Bishop Hefele and Père Gratry. The following decisive facts are established by the best documentary evidence:
(1.) Honorius taught ex cathedra (in two letters to his heretical colleague, Sergius, Patriarch of Constantinople) the Monothelite heresy, which was condemned by the sixth œcumenical Council, i.e., the doctrine that Christ had only one will, and not two (corresponding to his two natures).339339 Honorius prescribed the technical term of the Monothelites as a dogma to the Church (dogma ecclesiasticum). In a reply to the Monothelite Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople, which is still extant in Greek and Latin (Mansi, Coll. Concil. Tom. XI. pp. 538 sqq.), he approves of his heretical view, and says as clearly as words can make it: 'Therefore we confess also one will (ἓν θέλημα) of our Lord Jesus Christ, since the Godhead has assumed our nature, but not our guilt.' In a second letter to Sergius, of which we have two fragments (Mansi, l.c. p. 579), Honorius rejects the orthodox term two energies (δύο ἐνέργειαι, duæ operationes), which is used alongside with two wills (δύο θελήματα, voluntates). Christ, he reasons, assumed human nature as it was before the fall, when it had not a law in the members which resists the law of the Spirit. He knew only a sinful human will. The Catholic Church rejects Monothelitism, or the doctrine of one will of Christ, as involving or necessarily leading to Monophysitism, i.e., the doctrine that Christ had but one nature; for will is an attribute of nature, not of the person. The Godhead has three persons, but only one nature, and only one will. Christ has two wills, because he has two natures. The compromise formula of Emperor Heraclius and Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople endeavored to reconcile the Monophysites with the orthodox Church by teaching that Christ had two natures, but only one will and one energy.
(2.) An œcumenical Council, universally acknowledged in the East and in the West, held in Constantinople, 680, condemned and excommunicated Honorius, 'the former Pope of Old Rome,' as a heretic, who with the help of the old serpent had scattered deadly error.340340 Sessio XVI.: 'Sergio hæretico anathema, Cyro hæretico anathema, Honorio hæretico anathema.' . . . Sessio XVIII.: 'Honorius, qui fuit Papa antiquæ Romæ . . . non vacavit . . . Ecelesiæ erroris scandalum suscitare unius voluntatis, et unius operationis in duabus naturis unius Christi,' etc. See Mansi, Conc. Tom. XI. pp. 622, 635, 655, 666. The seventh œcumenical Council (787) and the eighth (869) repeated the anathema of the sixth.
(3.) The succeeding Popes down to the eleventh century, in a solemn oath at their accession, indorsed the sixth œcumenical Council, and pronounced 'an eternal anathema' on the authors of the Monothelite heresy, together with Pope Honorius, because he had given aid and comfort to the perverse doctrines of the heretics.341341 'Quia pravis hæreticorum assertionibus fomentum impendit.' This Papal oath was probably prescribed by Gregory II. (at the beginning of the eighth century), and is found in the Liber Diurnus (the book of formularies of the Roman chancery from the fifth to the eleventh century), edited by Eugène de Rozière, Paris, 1869, No. 84. The Liber Pontificalis agrees with the Liber Diurnus. Editions of the Roman Breviary down to the sixteenth century reiterated the charge against Honorius, since silently dropped. The Popes themselves, therefore, for more than three centuries, publicly recognized, first, that an œcumenical Council may condemn a Pope for open heresy, and, secondly, that Pope Honorius was justly condemned for heresy. Pope Leo II., in a letter to the Emperor, strongly confirmed the decree of the Council, and denounced his predecessor Honorius as one who 'endeavored by profane treason to overthrow the immaculate faith of the Roman Church.'342342 ' Nec non et Honorium [anathematizamus], qui hanc apostolicam ecclesiam non apostolicæ traditionis doctrina lustravit, sed profana proditione immaculatam fidem subvertere conatus est.' Mansi, Tom. XI. p. 731. The same Pope says, in a letter to the Spanish Bishops: 'With eternal damnation have been punished Theodore, Cyrus, Sergius—together with Honorius, who did not extinguish at the very beginning the flame of heretical doctrine, as was becoming to his apostolic authority, but nursed it by his carelessness.'343343 'Cum Honorio, qui flammam hæeretici dogmatis, non ut decuit apostolicam auctoritatem, incipientem extinxit, sed negligendo confovit.' Mansi, p. 1052.
This case of Honorius is as clear and strong as any fact in Church history.344344 Comp. especially the tract of Bishop Hefele, above quoted. The learned author of the History of the Councils has proved the case as conclusively as a mathematical demonstration. Infallibilists have been driven to desperate efforts. Some pronounce the acts of the Council, which exist in Greek and Latin, downright forgeries (Baronius); others, admitting the acts, declare the letters of Honoring forgeries, so that he was unjustly condemned by the Council (Bellarmin)—both without a shadow of proof; still others, being forced at last to acknowledge the genuineness of the letters and acts, distort the former into an orthodox sense by a non-natural exegesis, and thus unwillingly fasten upon œcumenical Councils and Popes the charge of either dogmatic ignorance and stupidity, or malignant representation.345345 So Perrone, in his Dogmatics, and Pennachi, in his Liber de Honorii I. Rom. Pont. causa, 1870, which is effectually disposed of by Hefele in an Appendix to the German edition of his tract. Nevertheless, Archbishop Manning, sublimely ignoring all but Infallibilist authorities on Honorius, has the face to assert (III. p. 223) that the case of Honorius is doubtful; that he defined no doctrine whatever; and that his two epistles are entirely orthodox! Is Manning more infallible than the infallible Pope Leo II., who denounced Honorius ex cathedra as a heretic? Yet in every case the decisive fact remains that both Councils and Popes for several hundred years believed in the fallibility of the Pope, in flat contradiction to the Vatican Council. Such acts of violence upon history remind one of King James's short method with Dissenters: 'Only hang them, that's all.'
5. The idea of Papal absolutism and Infallibility, like that of the sinlessness of Mary, can be traced to apocryphal origin. It is found first, in the second century, in the pseudo-Clementine Homilies, which contain a singular system of speculative Ebionism, and represent James of Jerusalem, the brother of the Lord, as the Bishop of Bishops, the centre of Christendom, and the general Vicar of Christ; he is the last arbiter, from whom there is no appeal; to him even Peter must give an account of his labors, and to him the sermons of Peter were sent for safe keeping.346346 See my Church History, Vol. I. § 69, p. 219, and the tract of Lutterbeck above quoted.
In the Catholic Church the same idea, but transferred to the Bishop of Rome, is first clearly expressed in the pseudo-Isidorian Decretals, that huge forgery of Papal letters, which appeared in the middle of the ninth century, and had for its object the completion of the independence of the Episcopal hierarchy from the State, and the absolute power of the Popes, as the legislators and judges of all Christendom. Here the most extravagant claims are put into the mouths of the early Popes, from Clement (91) to Damasus (384), in the barbarous French Latin of the Middle Ages, and with such numerous and glaring anachronisms as to force the conviction of fraud even upon Roman Catholic scholars. One of these sayings is: 'The Roman Church remains to the end free from stain of heresy.' Soon afterwards arose, in the same hierarchical interest, the legend of the donation of Constantine and his baptism by Pope Silvester, interpolations of the writings of the Fathers, especially Cyprian and Augustine, and a variety of fictions embodied in the Gesta Liberii, and the Liber Pontificalis, and sanctioned by Gratianus (about 1150) in his Decretum, or collection of canons, which (as the first part of the Corpus juris canonici) became the code of laws for the whole Western Church, and exerted an extraordinary influence. By this series of pious frauds the mediæval Papacy, which was the growth of ages, was represented to the faith of the Church as a primitive institution of Christ, clothed with absolute and perpetual authority.
The Popes since Nicholas I. (858–867), who exceeded all his predecessors in the boldness of his designs, freely used what the spirit of a hierarchical, superstitious, and uncritical age furnished them. They quoted the fictitious letters of their predecessors as genuine, the Sardican canon on appeals as a canon of Nicæa, and the interpolated sixth canon of Nicæa,' the Roman Church always had the primacy,' of which there is not a syllable in the original; and nobody doubted them. Papal absolutism was in full vigor from Gregory VII. to Boniface VIII. Scholastic divines, even Thomas Aquinas, deceived by these literary forgeries, began to defend Papal absolutism over the whole Church, and the Councils of Lyons (1274) and of Florence (1439) sanctioned it, although the Greeks soon afterwards rejected the false union based upon such assumption.
But absolute power, especially of a spiritual kind, is invariably intoxicating and demoralizing to any mortal man who possesses it. God Almighty alone can bear it, and even he allows freedom to his rational creatures. The reminiscence of the monstrous period when the Papacy was a football in the hands of bold and dissolute women (904–962), or when mere boys, like Benedict IX. (1033), polluted the Papal crown with the filth of unnatural vices, could not be quite forgotten. The scandal of the Papal schism (1378 to 1409), when two and even three rival Popes excommunicated and cursed each other, and laid all Western Christendom under the ban, excited the moral indignation of all good men in Christendom, and called forth, in the beginning of the fifteenth century, the three Councils of Pisa, Constance, and Basle, which loudly demanded a reformation of the Church, in the head as well as in the members, and asserted the superiority of a Council over the Pope.
The Council of Constance (1414–1418), the most numerous ever seen in the West, deposed two Popes—John XXIII. (the infamous Balthasar Cossa, who had been recognized by the majority of the Church), on the charge of a series of crimes (May 29, 1415), and Benedict XIII., as a heretic who sinned against the unity of the Church (July 26, 1417),347347 The third anti-Pope, Gregory XII., resigned. and elected a new Pope, Martin V. (Nov. 11, 1517), who had given his adhesion to the Council, though after his accession to power he found ways and means to defeat its real object, i.e., the reformation of the Church.
This Council was a complete triumph of the Episcopal system, and the Papal absolutists and Infallibilists are here forced to the logical dilemma of either admitting the validity of the Council, or invalidating the election of Martin V. and his successors. Either course is fatal to their system. Hence there has never been an authoritative decision on the œcumenicity of this Council, and the only subterfuge is to say that the whole case is an extraordinary exception; but this, after all, involves the admission that there is a higher power in the Church over the Papacy.
The Reformation shook the whole Papacy to its foundation, but could not overthrow it. A powerful reaction followed, headed by the Jesuits. Their General, Lainez, strongly advocated Papal Infallibility in the Council of Trent, and declared that the Church could not err only because the Pope could not err. But the Council left the question undecided, and the Roman Catechism ascribes infallibility simply to 'the Catholic Church,' without defining its seat. Bellarmin advocated and formularized the doctrine, stating it as an almost general opinion that the Pope could not publicly teach a heretical dogma, and as a probable and pious opinion that Providence will guard him even against private heresy. Yet the same Bellarmin was witness to the innumerable blunders of the edition of the Latin Vulgate prepared by Sixtus V., corrected by his own hand, and issued by him as the only true and authentic text of the sacred Scriptures, with the stereotyped forms of anathema upon all who should venture to change a single word; and Bellarmin himself gave the advice that all copies should be called in, and a new edition printed with a lying statement in the preface making the printers the scape-goats for the errors of the Pope! This whole business of the Vulgate is sufficient to explode Papal Infallibility; for it touches the very source of divine revelation. Other Italian divines, like Alphonsus Liguori, and Jesuitical text-books, unblushingly use long-exploded mediæval fictions and interpolations as a groundwork of Papal absolutism and Infallibility.
It is not necessary to follow the progress of the controversy between the Episcopal and the Papal systems during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It is sufficient to say that the greatest Catholic divines of France and Germany, including Bossuet and Möhler, together with many from other countries, down to the 88 protesting Bishops in the Vatican Council, were anti-Infallibilists; and that popular Catechisms of the Roman Church, extensively used till 1870, expressly denied the doctrine, which is now set up as an article of faith necessary to eternal salvation.348348 So Overberg's Katechismus, III. Hauptstück, Fr. 349: 'Müssen wir auch glauben, dass der Papst unfehlbar ist? Nein, dies ist kein Glaubensartikel.' Keenan's Controversial Catechism, in the editions before 1871, declared Papal Infallibility to be 'a Protestant invention.' The Irish Bishops—Doyle, Murray, Kelly—affirmed under oath, before a Committee of the English Parliament in 1825, that the Papal authority is limited by Councils, that it does not extend to civil affairs and the temporal rights of princes, and that Papal decrees are not binding on Catholics without the consent of the whole Church, either dispersed or assembled in Council. See the original in the Appendix to Archbishop Kenrick's Concio in Friedrich's Documenta, I. pp. 228–242. But the Irish Catholics, who almost believe in the infallibility of their priests, can be very easily taught to believe in the infallibility of the Pope.
Papal Infallibility and the Bible.
The Old Testament gives no tangible aid to the Infallibilists. The Jewish Church existed as a divine institution, and served all its purposes, from Abraham to John the Baptist, without an infallible tribunal in Jerusalem, save the written law and testimony, made effective from time to time by the living voice of inspired prophecy. Pious Israelites found in the Scriptures the way of life, notwithstanding the contradictory interpretations of rabbinical schools and carnal perversions of Messianic prophecies, fostered by a corrupt hierarchy. The Urim and Thummim349349 That is, δήλωσις καὶ ἀλήθεια, doctrina et veritas, Ex. xxviii. 15–30; Deut. xxxiii. 8, 9; 1 Sam. xxviii. 6. The Urim and Thummim were inscribed on the garment of Aaron. Some interpreters identify them with the twelve stones on which the names of the tribes of Israel were engraved; others regard them as a plate of gold with the sacred name of Jehovah; still others as polished diamonds, in form like dice, which, being thrown on the table or Ark of the Covenant, were consulted as an oracle. See the able article of Plumptre, in Smith's Bible Dictionary, Vol. IV. pp. 3356 sqq. (Am. ed.). of the High-Priest has no doubt symbolical reference to some kind of spiritual illumination or oracular consultation, but it is of too uncertain interpretation to furnish an argument.
The passages of the New Testament which are used by Roman divines in support of the doctrine of Infallibility may be divided into two classes: those which seem to favor the Episcopal or Gallican, and those which are made to prove the Papal or Ultramontane theory. It is characteristic that the Papal Infallibilists carefully avoid the former.
1. To the first class belong John xiv. 16 sq.; xvi. 13–16, where Christ promises the Holy Ghost to his disciples that he may 'abide with them forever,' teach them 'all things,' bring to their remembrance all he had said to them,350350 The πάντα implies a strong argument for the completeness of Christ's revelation in the New Testament against the Romish doctrine of addition. and guide them 'into the whole truth;'351351 The phrase εἰς τὴν ἀλήθειαν πᾶσαν (John xvi. 13), or, according to another reading, ἐν τῇ ἀληθείᾳ πάσῃ (test. rec. ἐις πᾶσαν τὴν ἀλήθειαν), expresses the truth as taught by Christ in its completeness—the whole truth—and proves likewise the sufficiency of the Scriptures. The A.V. and its predecessors ('into all truth'), also Luther (in alle Wahrheit, instead of die ganze or volle Wahrheit), miss the true sense by omitting the article, and conveying the false idea that the Holy Ghost would impart to all the apostles a kind of omniscience. Comp. my annotations to Lange's John on the passages (pp. 445, 478, etc.). John xx. 21: 'As the Father hath sent me, even so send I you. . . . Receive ye the Holy Ghost;'352352 Literally: 'Receive Holy Spirit'—λάβετε πνεῦμα ἅγιον. The absence of the article may indicate a partial or preparatory inspiration as distinct from the full Pentecostal effusion. Matt. xviii. 18: 'Whatever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,' etc.; Matt. xxviii. 19, 20: 'Go and disciple all nations . . . and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.'
These passages, which are addressed to all Apostles alike, to doubting Thomas as well as to Peter, prove indeed the unbroken presence of Christ and the Holy Ghost in the Church to the end of time, which is one of the most precious and glorious truths admitted by every true Christian. But, in the first place, the Church, which is here represented by the Apostles, embraces all true believers, laymen as well as Bishops. Secondly, the promise of Christ's presence implies no infallibility, for the same promise is given even to the smallest number of true believers (Matt. xviii. 20). Thirdly, if the passages prove infallibility at all, they would prove individual infallibility by continued inspiration rather than corporate infallibility by official succession; for every Apostle was inspired, and so far infallible; and this no Roman Catholic Bishop, though claiming to be a successor of the Apostles, pretends to be.
2. The passages quoted by the advocates of the Papal theory are three, viz., Luke xxii. 31; Matt. xvi. 18; John xxi. 15.353353 Perrone and the Vatican decree on Infallibility confine themselves to these passages.
We admit, at the outset, that these passages in their obvious meaning which is confirmed by the history of the Apostolic Church, assign to Peter a certain primacy among the Apostles: he was the leader and spokesman of them, and the chief agent of Christ in laying the foundations of his Church among the Jews and the Gentiles. This is significantly prophesied in the new name of Peter given to him. The history of Pentecost (Acts ii.) and the conversion of Cornelius (Acts x.) are the fulfillment of this prophecy, and furnish the key to the interpretation of the passages in the Gospels.
This is the truth which underlies the colossal lie of the Papacy. For there is no Romish error which does not derive its life and force from some truth.354354 Augustine says somewhere: 'Nulla falsa doctrina est, quæ non aliquid veri permisceat.' But beyond this we have no right to go. The position which Peter occupied no one can occupy after him. The foundation of the Church, once laid, is laid for all time to come, and the gates of Hades can not prevail against it. The New Testament is its own best interpreter. It shows no single example of an exercise of jurisdiction of Peter over the other Apostles, but the very reverse. He himself, in his Epistles, disowns and prophetically warns his fellow-presbyters against the hierarchical spirit; exhorting them, instead of being lords over God's heritage, to be ensamples to his flock (1 Pet. v. 1–4). Paul and John were perfectly independent of him, as the Acts and Epistles prove. Paul even openly administered to him a rebuke at Antioch.355355 This fact is so obnoxious to Papists that some of them doubt or deny that the Cephas of Galatians ii. 11 was the Apostle Peter, although the New Testament knows no other. So Perrone, who also asserts, from his own preconceived theory, not from the text, that Paul withstood Peter from respectful love as an inferior to a superior, but not as a superior to an inferior! Let any Bishop try the same experiment against the Pope, and he will soon be sent to perdition. At the Council of Jerusalem James seems to have presided, at all events he proposed the compromise which was adopted by the Apostles, Elders, and Brethren; Peter was indeed one of the leading speakers, but he significantly advocated the truly evangelical principle of salvation by faith alone, and protested against human bondage (Acts xv.; comp. Gal. ii.).
The great error of the Papacy is that it perverts a primacy of honor into a supremacy of jurisdiction, a personal privilege into an official prerogative, and a priority of time into a permanent superiority of rank. And to make the above passages at all available for such purpose, it must take for granted, as intervening links of the argument, that which can not be proved from the New Testament nor from history, viz., that Peter was Bishop of Rome; that he was there as Paul's superior; that he appointed a successor, and transferred to him his prerogatives.
As to the passages separately considered, Matt. xvi., 'Thou art rock,' and John xxi., 'Feed my flock,' could at best only prove Papal absolutism, but not Papal Infallibility, of which they do not treat.356356 For a full discussion of Πέτρος and πέτρα, see my edition of Lange's Comm. on Matt. xvi. 18, pp. 203 sqq.; and on the Romish perversion of the βόσκειν and ποιμαίνειν τὰ ἀρνία, πρόβατα and προβάτια into a κατακυρειύειν, and even withdrawal of nourishment, see my ed. of Lange on John, pp. 638 sqq. The former teaches the indestructibility of the Church in its totality (not of any individual congregation), but this is a different idea. The Council of Trent lays down 'the unanimous consent of the Fathers' as the norm and rule of all orthodox interpretation, as if exegetical wisdom had begun and ended with the divines of the first six centuries. But of the passage Matt. xvi., which is more frequently quoted by Popes and Papists than any other passage in the Bible, there are no less than five different patristic interpretations; the rock on which Christ built his Church being referred to Christ by sixteen Fathers (including Augustine); to the faith or confession of Peter by forty-four (including Chrysostom, Ambrose, Hilary, Jerome, and Augustine again); to Peter professing the faith by seventeen; to all the Apostles, whom Peter represented by his primacy, by eight; to all the faithful, who, believing in Christ as the Son of God, are constituted the living stones of the Church.357357 This patristic dissensus was brought out during the Council in the Questio distributed by Bishop Ketteler with all the proofs; see Friedrich, Docum. I. pp. 6 sqq. Kenrick in his speech makes use of it. Comp. also my annotations to Lange's Comm. on Matthew in loco. But not one of the Fathers finds Papal Infallibility in this passage, nor in John xxi. The 'unanimous consent of the Fathers' is a pure fiction, except in the most general and fundamental principles held by all Christians; and not to interpret the Bible except according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers, would strictly mean not to interpret it at all.358358 Even Kenrick confesses that it is doubtful whether any instance of that unanimous consent can be found (in his Concio, see Friedr. Docum. I. p.195): 'Regula interpetrandi Scripturas nobis imposita, hæc est: eas contra unanimem Patrum consensum non interpetrari. Si unquam detur consensus iste unanimis dubitari possit. Eo tamen deficiente, regula ista videtur nobis legem imponere majorem, qui ad unanimitatem accedere videretur, patrum numerum, in suis Scripturæ interpretationibus sequendi.'
There remains, then, only the passage recorded by Luke (xxii. 31, 32) as at all bearing on the disputed question: 'Simon, Simon, behold, Satan desired to have you (or, obtained you by asking), that he may sift you as wheat; but I prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and thou, when once thou art converted (or, hast turned again), strengthen thy brethren.' But even this does not prove infallibility, and has not been so understood before Popes Leo I. and Agatho. For (1) the passage refers, as the context shows, to the peculiar personal history of Peter during the dark hour of passion, and is both a warning and a comfort to him. So it is explained by the Fathers, who frequently quote it. (2) Faith here, as nearly always in the New Testament, means personal trust in, and attachment to, Christ, and not, as the Romish Church misinterprets it, orthodoxy, or intellectual assent to dogmas. (3) If the passage refers to the Popes at all, it would prove too much for them, viz., that they, like Peter, denied the Saviour, were converted again, and strengthened their brethren—which may be true enough of some, but certainly not of all.359359 This logical inference is also noticed by Archbishop Kenrick (Concio, in Friedrich's Docum. I. p. 200): 'Præterea singula verba in ista Christi ad Petrum allocutione de Petri successoribus intelligi nequeunt, quin aliquid maxime absurdi exinde sequi videretur. "Tu autem conversus," respiciunt certe conversionem Petri. Si priora verba; "orari pro te," et posteriora: "confirma fratres tuos," ad successores Petri cœlestem vim, et munus transiisse probent, non videtur quarenam intermedia verba: "tu autem conversus," ad eos etiam pertinere, et aliquali sensu de eis intelligi, non debeant.'
The constant appeal of the Roman Church to Peter suggests a significant parallel. There is a spiritual Peter and a carnal Simon, who are separated, indeed, by regeneration, yet, after all, not so completely that the old nature does not occasionally re-appear in the new man.
It was the spiritual Peter who forsook all to follow Christ; who first confessed him as the Son of God, and hence was called Rock; who after his terrible fall wept bitterly; was re-instated and intrusted with the care of Christ's sheep; who on the birthday of the Church preached the first missionary sermon, and gathered in the three thousand converts; who in the Apostles' Council protested against the narrow bigotry of the Judaizers, and stood up with Paul for the principle of salvation by grace alone through faith in Christ; who, in his Epistles, warns all ministers against hierarchical pride, and exhibits a wonderful meekness, gentleness, and humility of spirit, showing that divine grace had overruled and sanctified to him even his fall; and who followed at last his Master to the cross of martyrdom.
It was the carnal Simon who presumed to divert his Lord from the path of suffering, and drew on him the rebuke, 'Get thee behind me, Satan; thou art a stumbling-block unto me, for thou mindest not the things of God, but the things of men;' the Simon, who in mistaken zeal used the sword and cut off the ear of Malchus; who proudly boasted of his unswerving fidelity to his Master, and yet a few hours afterwards denied him thrice before a servant-woman; who even after the Pentecostal illumination was overcome by his natural weakness, and, from policy or fear of the Judaizing party, was untrue to his better conviction, so as to draw on him the public rebuke of the younger Apostle of the Gentiles. The Romish legend of Domine quo vadis makes him relapse into his inconstancy even a day before his martyrdom, and memorializes it in a chapel outside of Rome.
[In 1868, Cardinal Manning and Bishop Senestry of Regensburg, while in Rome, made a vow "to do all in our power to bring about the definition of papal infallibility," the vow being attested by the Jesuit father Liberatore. See Purcell: Life of Manning, II., 420. Commer, theological professor in Vienna, in an address on the twenty-fifth anniversary of Leo XIII.'s pontificate, announced that the Roman pontiff had properly been called by Catherine of Siena another Christ—alter Christus. The Manual of the Catechism of Pius X. quotes with approval that the pope is Jesus Christ on earth—il papa è Gesu Cristo sulla terra.—Ed.]
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