Upon This Rock

Mat 16:15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
Mat 16:16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Mat 16:17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
Mat 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

This passage is most frequently quoted by Catholics to support Petrine theory (papal succession), that proposes Jesus founded His church on Peter (the rock). The Protestant will usually point out that two different words for "rock" are present in the Greek text- "thou art Peter (Petros), and upon this rock (petra) I will build my church;" ... . The distinction that is apparently being made in the Greek is one of size. Petros equates to a pebble, or small stone, while petra equates to a massive foundation stone, too large to be moved:

From Strong's Greek dictionary:

4074. Petros, pet'-ros; appar. a prim. word; a (piece of) rock (larger than G3037); as a name, Petrus, an apostle:--Peter, rock. Comp. G2786.

4073. petra, pet'-ra; fem. of the same as G4074; a (mass of) rock (lit. or fig.):--rock.

2786. Kephas, kay-fas'; of Chad. or. [comp. H3710]; the Rock; Cephas (i.e. Kepha), a surname of Peter:--Cephas.

3710. keph, kafe; from H3721; a hollow rock:--rock.

This distinction in the Greek, the Protestant points out, makes it clear that Peter is not the rock that the church is founded upon, but rather Peter's profession of faith and/or Jesus Himself. To this the Catholic will likely respond that early church fathers indicate the book of Matthew was originally written in Aramaic, not Greek. The Greek, they will say, has been incorrectly rendered because petra, being feminine in the Greek, could not have been used to represent Peter's name. They will propose that what Jesus really said in Aramaic to Simon Peter was this: "thou art Peter (Kepha), and upon this rock (kepha) I will build my church;" ... . The original Aramaic, they will point out, makes it quite plain that Peter was indeed the rock. An example of this kind of logic can be found at Origins of Peter as Pope at Catholic Answers. However, there is a small problem with this approach. No Aramaic texts of Matthew have survived, they have all been lost. So just what the Aramaic texts might have said is nothing but pure speculation. So speculation is all they can muster as evidence to support Petrine theory in Matthew 16:18.

Some Catholics may even suggest that there has always been a unanimous Church interpretation of this passage in support Petrine theory, at least up until relatively recent Protestant dissent to the presumed authority of the papacy. The following is presented to show that even early "Christian fathers" were actually quite diverse in their interpretation of this passage in Matthew and they most certainly did not agree that Peter was the foundation rock (petra) which Jesus spoke about.

The first item is purported by some to be a speech given by Bishop Strossmayer of Diakovár to the First Vatican Council (1870) in opposition to the declaration of papal infallibility as dogma. It should be noted that there is strong evidence for it being a forgery, but the points raised within the text are worthy of consideration, even though the document itself was apparently disclaimed by Bishop Strossmayer. (See Patrick Madrid's book Pope Fiction, page 259. It also interesting to note, that the best possible evidence the Catholic Church could provided on this matter, is the text of the genuine speech (or speeches) given by Bishop Strossmayer to Vatican I, in opposition to papal infallibility. To my knowledge this has not happened, and one has to wonder why.

Here is the biography of Bishop Strossmayer from the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia online at New Advent.


Bishop Strossmayer's Alleged Speech
In The Vatican Council Of 1870


    Venerable Fathers and Brethren:—It is not without trembling, yet with a conscience free and tranquil before God who lives and sees me, that I open my mouth in the midst of you in this august assembly. From the time that I have been sitting here with you I have followed with attention the speeches that have been made in the hall, hoping with great desire that a ray of light descending from on high might enlighten the eyes of my understanding, and permit me to vote the canons of this Holy Ecumenical Council with perfect knowledge of the case.

[STUDY OF OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS]

    Penetrated with the feeling of responsibility, of which God will demand of me an account, I have set myself to study with the most serious attention the Old and New Testaments, and I have asked these venerable monuments of truth to make known to me if the holy pontiff, who presides here, is truly the successor of St. Peter, vicar of Jesus Christ, and the infallible doctor of the church. To resolve this grave question I have been obliged to ignore the present state of things, and to transport myself in mind, with the evan-

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gelical torch in my hand, to the days when there was neither Ultramontanism nor Gallicanism, and in which the church had for doctors St. Paul, St. Peter, St. James, and St. John—doctors to whom no one can deny the divine authority without putting in doubt that which the holy Bible, which is here before me, teaches us, and which the Council of Trent has proclaimed as the rule of faith and of morals. I have then opened these sacred pages. Well (shall I dare to say it?), I have found nothing either near nor far which sanctions the opinion of the Ultramontanes. And still more, to my very great surprise, I find in the apostolic days no question of a pope, successor to St. Peter, and vicar of Jesus Christ, any more than of Mahomet who did not then exist. You, Monsignor Manning, will say that I blaspheme; you, Monsignor Fie, that I am mad. No, Monsignori, I do not blaspheme, and I am not mad. Now having read the whole New Testament, I declare before God, with my hand raised to that great crucifix, that I have found no trace of the papacy as it exists at this moment. Do not refuse me your attention, my venerable brethren, and with your murmuring and interruptions do not justify those who say, like Father Hyacinthe, that this Council is nothing, but that our votes have been from the beginning dictated by authority. If such were the case, this august assembly, on which the eyes of the whole world are turned, would fall into the most shameful discredit. If we wish to make it great, we must be free. I thank his Excellency, Monsignor Dupanloup, for the sign of approbation which he makes with his head: this gives me courage, and I go on.

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[JESUS GAVE NO MASTERY TO PETER]

    Reading then the sacred books with that attention with which the Lord has made me capable, I do not find one single chapter, or one little verse, in which Jesus Christ gives to St. Peter the mastery over the apostles, his fellow-workers. If Simon, son of Jonas, had been what we believe his holiness Pius IX, to be today, it is wonderful that He had not said to him, 'When I have ascended to my Father, you should all obey Simon Peter as you obey Me. I establish him my vicar upon earth.'

    Not only is Christ silent on this point, but so little does He think of giving a head to the church, that when He promises to His apostles to judge the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28), He promises them twelve thrones, one for each, without saying that among those thrones one shall be higher than the others—which shall belong to Peter. Certainly, if He had wished that is should be so, He would have said it. What do we conclude from this sentence? Logic tells us that Christ did not wish to make St. Peter the head of the apostolic college. When Christ sent the apostles to conquer the world, to all He gave the promise of the Holy Spirit. Permit me to repeat it: if He had wished to constitute Peter His vicar, He would have given him the chief command over His spiritual army. Christ—so says the Holy Scripture—forbade Peter and his colleagues to reign or to exercise lordship, or to have authority over the faithful like the kings of the Gentiles (St. Luke 22:25). If St. Peter had been elected pope, Jesus would not have spoken thus; but according to our tradition, the papacy holds in its hands two swords, symbols of spiritual and temporal power.

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    One thing has surprised me very much. Turning it over in my mind, I said to myself, If Peter had been elected Pope, would his colleagues have been permitted to send him with St. John to Samaria to announce the gospel of the Son of God? What do you think, venerable brethren, if at this moment we permitted ourselves to send his holiness Pius IX. and his Excellency Mons. Plantier to go to the Patriarch of Constantinople, to pledge him to put an end to the Eastern schism?

    But here is another still more important fact. An Ecumenical Council is assembled at Jerusalem to decide on the questions which divide the faithful. Who would have called together this Council if St. Peter had been pope? St. Peter. Well, nothing of this occurred. The apostle assisted at the Council as all the others did, yet it was not he who summed up, but St. James; and when the decrees were promulgated, it was in the name of the apostles, the elders, and the brethren (Acts 15). Is it thus what we do in our church? The more I examine, O venerable brethren, the more I am convinced that in the scriptures the son of Jonas does not appear to be first.

[PAUL AND APOSTLES SILENT ON PAPACY]

    Now, while we teach that the church is built upon St. Peter, St. Paul (whose authority cannot be doubted) says, in his epistle to the Ephesians 2:20, it is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone. And the same apostle believes so little in the supremacy of St. Peter, that he openly blames those who would say, We are of Paul, We are of Apollos (I Cor. 1:12), as those

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who say, We are of Peter. If therefore this last apostle had been the vicar of Christ, St. Paul would have taken great care not to censure so violently those who belonged to his own colleagues. The same apostle, counting up the offices of the church, mentions apostles, prophets, evangelists, doctors, and pastors. Is it to be believed, my venerable brethren, that St. Paul, the great apostle of the Gentiles, would have forgotten the first of these offices, the papacy, if the papacy had been of divine institution? The forgetfulness appeared to me to be as impossible as if an historian of this Council were not to mention one word of his holiness Pius IX. [Several voices— 'Silence, heretic, silence!] Calm yourselves, my brethren, I have not yet finished. Forbidding me to go on, you show yourselves to the world to do wrong in shutting the mouth of the smallest member of this assembly.

    I continue. The apostle Paul makes no mention, in any of his letters directed to the various churches, of the primacy of Peter. If this primacy had existed, if, in one word, the church had in its body a supreme head infallible in teaching, would the great apostle of the Gentiles have forgotten to mention it? What do I say? He would have written a long letter on this all-important subject. Then, as he has actually done, when the edifice of the Christian doctrine is erected, would the foundation, the key of the arch, be forgotten? Now, unless you hold that the church of the apostles was heretical (which none of us would either desire or dare to say), we are obliged to confess that the church has never been more beautiful, more pure, or more holy, than in the days when there was no pope.

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[Cries of, 'It is not true; it is not true.'] Let not Monsignor di Laval say, 'No.' since if any of you, my venerable brethren, should dare to think that the church which has today a pope for its head is more in the faith, more pure in its morals than the Apostolic church, let him say it openly in the face of the universe, for this enclosure is the center from which our words fly from pole to pole.

    I go on. Neither in the writings of St. Paul, St. John, nor St. James, have I found a trace or germ of the papal power. St. Luke, the historian of the missionary labors of the apostles, is silent on this all-important point. The silence of these holy men, whose writings make part of the canon of the divinely-inspired Scriptures, has appeared to me burdensome and impossible, if Peter had been pope, and as unjustifiable as if Thiers, writing the history of Napoleon Bonaparte, had omitted the title of emperor.

    I see here before me a member of the assembly, who says, pointing at me with his finger, 'There is a schismatic bishop who has got among us under false colors.' No, no, my venerable brethren, I have not entered this august assembly as a thief, by the window, but by the door like yourselves. My title of bishop gave me a right to it, as my Christian conscience forces me to speak and to say that which I believe to be true.

    What has surprised me most, and what moreover is capable of demonstration, is the silence of St. Peter. If the apostle had been what we proclaim him to be—that is, the vicar of Jesus Christ on earth—he surely would have known it; if he had known it, how is it that not once did he act as pope? He might have

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done it on the day of Pentecost, when he pronounced his first sermon, but did not do it; neither in the two letters directed to the church. Can you imagine such a pope, my venerable brethren, if St. Peter had been pope? Now, if you wish to maintain that he was the pope, the natural consequence arises that you must maintain that he was ignorant of the fact. Now I ask whoever has a head to think and a mind to reflect, are these two suppositions possible?

    To return, I say, while the apostle lived, the church never thought that there could be a pope; to maintain the contrary, all the sacred writings must be entirely ignored.

[PETER AT ROME A "RIDICULOUS LEGEND"]

    But it is said on all sides, Was not St. Peter at Rome? Was he not crucified with his head down? Are not the pulpits in which he taught, the altars at which he said the mass, in this eternal city? St. Peter having been at Rome, my venerable brethren, rests only on tradition; but, if he had been Bishop of Rome, how can you from that episcopate prove his supremacy? Scaliger, one of the most learned of men, has not hesitated to say that St. Peter's episcopate and residence at Rome ought to be classed with ridiculous legends. [Repeated cries, 'Shut his mouth, shut his mouth; make him come down from the pulpit.']

    Venerable brethren, I am ready to be silent; but is it not better, in an assembly like ours, to prove all things, as the apostle commands, and to hold fast what is good? We have a dictator, before whom we—even his holiness Pius IX. himself—must prostrate ourselves, and be silent and bow our heads. That dictator is history. This is not like a legend, which can be

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made as the potter makes his clay, but is like a diamond which cuts on the glass what cannot be canceled. Till now I have only leant on her; and if I have found no trace of the papacy in the apostolic days, the fault is hers, not mine. Do you wish to put me into the position of one accused of falsehood? You may do it, if you can.

    I hear from the right some one expressing these words—'Thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.' I will answer this objection presently, my venerable brethren; but, before doing so, I wish to present you with the results of my historical researches.

[NO POPE IN FIRST FOUR CENTURIES]

    Finding no trace of the papacy in the days of the apostles, I said to myself, I shall find what I am in search of in the annals of the church. Well, I say it frankly—I have sought for a pope in the first four centuries, and I have not found him. None of you, I hope, will doubt the great authority of the holy Bishop of Hippo, the great and blessed St. Augustine. This pious doctor—the honor and glory of the Catholic church, was secretary in the Council of Melvie. In the decrees of this venerable assembly are to be found these significant words—'Whoever wills to appeal to those beyond the sea shall not be received by any one in Africa to the communion.' The bishops of Africa acknowledged the bishop of Rome so little that they smote with excommunication those who would have recourse to an appeal. These same bishops, in the sixth Council of Carthage, held under Aurelius, Bishop of that city, wrote Celestinus, Bishop of Rome, to warn him not to receive appeals from the bishops, priests, or clerics of Africa; and that he should send no

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more legates or commissaries; and that he should not introduce human pride into the church.

    That the Patriarch of Rome had from the earliest times tried to draw to himself all the authority is an evident fact; but it is an equally evident fact that he had not the supremacy which the Ultramontanes attribute to him. Had he possessed it, would the bishops of Africa—St. Augustine first among them—have dared to prohibit the appeals of their decrees to his supreme tribunal? I confess without difficulty that the Patriarch of Rome held the first place. One of Justinian's laws says, 'Let us order, after the definition of the four Councils, that the holy pope of ancient Rome shall be the first of the bishops, and that the most high Archbishop of Constantinople, which is the new Rome, shall be the second.' 'Bow down then to the supremacy of the pope,' you will say to me. Do not run so fast to this conclusion, my venerable brethren, inasmuch as the law of Justinian has written on the face of it, 'Of the order of the patriarchal sees.' Precedence is one thing, the power of jurisdiction is another. For example, supposing that in Florence there was an assembly of all the bishops of the kingdom, the precedence would be given to the Primate of Florence, as among the Easterns it would be accorded to the Patriarch of Constantinople, as in England to the Archbishop of Canterbury. But neither the first, nor the second, nor the third, could deduce from the position assigned to him a jurisdiction over his colleagues.

    The importance of the bishops of Rome proceeded not from a divine power, but from the importance of the city in which they had their seat. Monsignor

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Darboy (in Paris) is not superior in dignity to the Archbishop of Avignon; but, in spite of that, Paris gives him a consideration which he would not have, if, instead of having his palace on the bank of the Seine, he had it on that of the Rhone. That which is true in the religious order is the same in civil and political matters: the Prefect of Rome is not more a prefect than one at Pisa; but civilly and politically he has a greater importance.

    I have said that from the very first centuries the Patriarch of Rome aspired to the universal government of the church. Unfortunately he very nearly reached it; but he had not succeeded assuredly in his pretensions, for the Emperor Theodosius II made a law by which he established that the Patriarch of Constantinople should have the same authority as he of Rome (Leg.cod. de sacr., etc.). The fathers of the Council of Chalcedon put the bishops of the new and the old Rome in the same order on all things, even ecclesiastical (Can. 28). The sixth Council of Carthage forbade all the bishops to take the title of prince of the bishops, or sovereign bishop. As for this title of universal bishop, which the popes took later, St. Gregory I, believing that his successors would never think of adorning themselves with it, wrote these remarkable words, 'None of my predecessors has consented to take this profane name; for when a patriarch gives himself the name of Universal, the title of patriarch suffers discredit. Far be it then from Christians to desire to give themselves a title which brings discredit upon their brethren!'

    The words of St. Gregory are directed to his collea-

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gues of Constantinople, who pretended to the primacy of the church. Pope Pelagius II calls John, Bishop of Constantinople, who aspired to the high priesthood, 'impious and profane.' 'Do not care,' he said, 'for the title of universal, which John has usurped illegally. Let none of the patriarchs take this profane name; for what misfortunes may we not expect, if among the priests such elements arise? They would get what has been foretold for them—He is the king of the sons of pride' (Pelagius II, Lett. 13). Do not these authorities prove (and I might add a hundred more of equal value), with a clearness as the sun at midday, that the first bishops of Rome were not till much later recognized as universal bishops and heads of the church? And on the other hand, who does not know that from the year 325, in which the first Council of Nice was held, down to 580, the year of the second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople, among more than 1,109 bishops who assisted at the first six general Councils, there were not more than nineteen Western bishops? Who does not know that the Councils were convoked by the Emperors without informing, and sometimes against the wish of, the bishop of Rome?—that Hosius, Bishop of Cordova, presided at the first Council of Nice, and edited the canons of it? The same Hosius presided afterwards at the Council of Sardica, excluding the legates of Julius, Bishop of Rome.

["THOU ART PETER"]

    I say no more, my venerable brethren; and I come now to speak of the great argument—which you mentioned before—to establish the primacy of the bishop of Rome by the rock (petra). If this were true, the dispute would be at an end; but our forefathers—and

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they certainly knew something—did not think of it as we do. St. Cyril in his fourth book on the Trinity, says, 'I believe that by the rock you must understand the unshaken faith of the apostles.' St. Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers, in his second book on the Trinity, says, 'The rock (petra) is the blessed and only rock of the faith confessed by the mouth of St. Peter;' and in the sixth book of the Trinity, he says, 'It is on this rock of the confession of faith that the church is built.' 'God,' says St. Jerome in the sixth book on St. Matthew, 'has founded His church on this rock, and it is from this rock that the apostle Peter has been named.' After him St. Chrysostom says in his fifty-third homily on St. Matthew, 'On this rock I will build my church—that is, on the faith of the confession.' Now, what was the confession of the apostle? Here it is—'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Ambrose, the holy Archbishop of Milan (on the second chapter of the Ephesians), St. Basil of Seleucia, and the fathers of the Council of Chalcedon, teach exactly the same thing. Of all the doctors of Christian antiquity St. Augustine occupies one of the first places for knowledge and holiness. Listen then to what he writes in his second treatise on the first epistle of St. John: 'What do the words mean, I will build my church on the rock? On this faith, on that which said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.' In his treatise on St. John we find this most significant phrase—'On this rock which thou hast confessed I will build my church, since Christ was the rock.' The great bishop believed so little that the church was built on St. Peter that he said to the people in his thirteenth

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sermon, 'Thou art Peter, and on this rock (petra) which thou hast confessed, on this rock which thou hast known, saying, Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God, I will build my church—upon Myself, who am the Son of the living God: I will build it on Me, and not Me on thee.' That which St. Augustine thought upon this celebrated passage was the opinion of all Christendom in his time.

    Therefore, to resume, I establish:

    (1) That Jesus has given to His apostles the same power that He gave to St. Peter.
    (2) That the apostles never recognized in St. Peter the vicar of Jesus Christ and the infallible doctor of the church.
    (3) That St. Peter never thought of being pope, and never acted as if he were pope.
    (4) That the Councils of the first four centuries, while they recognized the high position which the Bishop of Rome occupied in the church on account of Rome, only accorded to him a pre-eminence of honor, never of power or of jurisdiction.
    (5) That the holy fathers in the famous passage, 'Thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build my church,' never understood that the church was built on Peter (super Petrum) but on the rock (super petram), that is, on the confession of the faith of the apostle. I conclude victoriously, with history, with reason, with logic, with good sense, and with a Christian conscience, that Jesus Christ did not confer any supremacy on St. Peter and that the bishops of Rome did not become sovereigns of the church, but only by confiscating one by one all the rights of the episcopate. [Voices—'Silence, impudent Protestant! Silence!']

    No, I am not an impudent Protestant. History is

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neither Catholic, nor Anglican, nor Calvinistic, nor Lutheran, nor Arminian, nor schismatic Greek nor Ultramontane. She is what she is—that is, something stronger than all confessions of faith of the Canons of the Ecumenical Councils. Write against it, if you dare! but you cannot destroy it, any more than taking a brick out of the Coliseum would make it fall. If I have said anything which history proves to be false, show it to me by history, and without a moment's hesitation I will make an honorable apology; but be patient, and you will see that I have not said all that I would or could; and even were the funeral pile waiting for me in the place of St. Peter's, I should not be silent, and I am obliged to go on. Monsignor Dupanloup, in his celebrated Observations on this Council of the Vatican, has said, and with reason, that if we declared Pius IX infallible, we must necessarily, and from natural logic, be obliged to hold that all his predecessors were also infallible.

[PAPAL ERRORS AND CONTRADICTIONS]

    Well, venerable brethren, here history raises its voice to assure us that some popes have erred. You may protest against it or deny it, as you please, but I will prove it. Pope Victor (192) first approved of Montanism, and then condemned it. Marcellinus (296-303) was an idolater. He entered into the temple of Vesta, and offered incense to the goddess. You will say that it was an act of weakness; but I answer, a vicar of Jesus Christ dies rather than become an apostate. Liberius (358) consented to the condemnation of Athanasius, and made a profession of Arianism, that he might be recalled from his exile and reinstated in his see. Honorius (625) adhered to Monothelitism:

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Father Gratry has proved it to demonstration. Gregory I (590-604) calls any one Antichrist who takes the name of Universal Bishop, and contrariwise Boniface III, (607,8) made the parricide Emperor Phocas confer that title upon him. Paschal II (1099-1118) and Eugenius III (1145-53) authorized dueling; Julius II (1509) and Pius IV (1560) forbade it. Eugenius IV (1431-39) approved of the Council of Basle and the restitution of the chalice to the church of Bohemia; Pius II (1458) revoked the concession. Hadrian II (867-872) declared civil marriages to be valid; Pius VII (1800-23) condemned them. Sixtus V (1585-90) published an edition of the Bible, and by a bull recommended it to be read; Pius VII condemned the reading of it. Clement XIV (1769-74) abolished the order of the Jesuits, permitted by Paul III, and Pius VII reestablished it.

    But why look for such remote proofs? Has not our holy Father here present, in his bull which gave the rules for this Council, in the event of his dying while it was sitting, revoked all that in past times may be contrary to it, even when that proceeds, from the decisions of his predecessors? And certainly, if Pius IX has spoken ex cathedra, it is not when, from the depths of his sepulcher, he imposes his will on the sovereigns of the church. I should never finish, my venerable brethren, if I were to put before your eyes the contradictions of the popes in their teaching. If then you proclaim the infallibility of the actual pope, you must either prove, that which is impossible—that the popes never contradicted each other—or else you must declare that the Holy Spirit has revealed to you

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that the infallibility of the papacy only dates from 1870. Are you bold enough to do this?

    Perhaps the people may be indifferent, and pass by theological questions which they do not understand, and of which they do not see the importance; but though they are indifferent to principles, they are not so to facts. Do not then deceive yourselves. If you decree the dogma of papal infallibility, the Protestants, our adversaries, will mount in the breach, the more bold that they have history on their side, whilst we have only our own denial against them. What can we say to them when they show up all the bishops of Rome from the days of Luke to his holiness Pius IX? Ah! if they had all been like Pius IX, we should triumph on the whole line; but alas! it is not so. [Cries of 'Silence, silence; enough, enough!']

    Do not cry out, Monsignori! To fear history is to own yourselves conquered; and, moreover, if you made the whole waters of the Tiber pass over it, you would not cancel a single page. Let me speak, and I will be as short as it is possible on this most important subject.—Pope Vigilius (538) purchased the papacy from Belisarius, lieutenant of the Emperor Justinian. It is true that he broke his promise and never paid for it. Is this a canonical mode of binding on the tiara? The second Council of Chalcedon had formally condemned it. In one of its canons you read that 'the bishop who obtains his episcopate by money shall lose it and be degraded.' Pope Eugenius III (IV. in original) (1145) imitated Vigilius. St. Bernard, the bright star of his age, reproves the pope, saying to him, 'Can you show me in this great city of Rome any one who would re-

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ceive you as pope if they had not received gold or silver for it?'

    My venerable brethren, will a pope who establishes a bank at the gates of the temple be inspired by the Holy Spirit? Will he have any right to teach the church infallibly? You know the history of Formosus too well for me to add to it. Stephen XI caused his body to be exhumed, dressed in his pontifical robes; he made the fingers which he used for giving the benediction to be cut off, and then had him thrown into the Tiber, declaring him to be a perjurer and illegitimate. He was then imprisoned by the people, poisoned, and strangled. Look how matters were re-adjusted; Romanus, successor of Stephen, and, after him, John X, rehabilitated the memory of Formosus.

    But you will tell me these are fables, not history. Fables! Go, Monsignori, to the Vatican Library and read Platina, the historian of the papacy, and the annals of Baronius (A.D. 897). These are facts which, for the honor of the Holy See, we should wish to ignore; but when it is to define a dogma which may provoke a great schism in our midst, the love which we bear to our venerable mother church, Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman, ought it to impose silence on us?

[PAPAL SINS AND EXCESSES]

    I go on. The learned Cardinal Baronius, speaking of the papal court, says (give attention, my venerable brethren, to these words), 'What did the Roman church appear in those days? How infamous! Only all-powerful courtesans governing in Rome! It was they who gave, exchanged, and took bishoprics; and horrible to relate, they got their lovers, the false popes, put

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on the throne of St. Peter' (Baronius, A.D. 912). You will answer, These were false popes, not true ones: let it be so; but in that case, if for fifty years the see of Rome was occupied by anti-popes, how will you pick up again the thread of pontifical succession? Has the church been able, at least for a century and a half, to go on without a head, and find itself acephalous?

    Look now: The greatest number of these anti-popes appear in a genealogical tree of the papacy; and it must have been this absurdity that Baronius described; because Genebrardo, the great flatterer of the popes, had dared to say in his Chronicles (A.D. 901), "This century is unfortunate, as for nearly 150 years the popes have fallen from all the virtues of their predecessors, and have become apostates rather than apostles.' I can understand how the illustrious Baronius must have blushed when he narrated the acts of these Roman bishops. Speaking of John XI (931), natural son of Pope Sergius and of Marozia, he wrote these words in his annals—'The holy church, that is, the Roman, has been vilely trampled on by such a monster.' John XII (956) elected pope at the age of eighteen, through the influence of courtesans, was not one whit better than his predecessor.

    I grieve, my venerable brethren, to stir up so much filth. I am silent on Alexander VI, father and lover of Lucretia; I turn away from John XXII (1319), who denied the immortality of the soul, and was deposed by the holy Ecumenical Council of Constance. Some will maintain that this Council was only a private one; let it be so; but if you refuse any authority to it, as a logical sequence you must hold the nomination

[pg. 21]

of Martin V (1417) to be illegal. What, then, will become of the papal succession? Can you find the thread of it?

    I do not speak of the schisms which have dishonored the church. In those unfortunate days the See of Rome was occupied by two competitors, and sometimes even by three. Which of these was the true pope? Resuming once more, again I say, if you decree the infallibility of the present bishop of Rome, you must establish the infallibility of all the preceding ones, without excluding any. But can you do that, when history is there establishing with a clearness equal to that of the sun, that the popes have erred in their teaching? Could you do it and maintain that avaricious, incestuous, murdering, simoniacal popes have been vicars of Jesus Christ? Oh, venerable brethren! to maintain such an enormity would be to betray Christ worse than Judas. It would be to throw dirt in His face. [Cries, 'Down from the pulpit, quick; shut the mouth of the heretic!']

[RETURN TO DIVINELY-INSPIRED HOLY SCRIPTURES]

    My venerable brethren, you cry out; but would it not be more dignified to weigh my reasons and my proofs in the balance of the sanctuary? Believe me, history cannot be made over again; it is there, and will remain to all eternity, to protest energetically against the dogma of papal infallibility. You may proclaim it unanimously; but one vote will be wanting, and that is mine! Monsignori, the true and faithful have their eyes on us, expecting from us a remedy for the innumerable evils which dishonor the church: will you deceive them in their hopes? What will not our responsibility before God be, if we let this solemn oc-

[pg. 22]

casion pass which God has given us to heal the true faith? Let us seize it, my brethren; let us arm ourselves with a holy courage; let us make a violent and generous effort; let us turn to the teaching of the apostles, since without that we have only errors, darkness, and false traditions. Let us avail ourselves of our reason and of our intelligence to take the apostles and prophets as our only infallible masters with reference to the question of questions, "What must I do to be saved?' When we have decided that, we shall have laid the foundation of our dogmatic system firm and immovable on the rock, lasting and incorruptible, of the divinely inspired holy Scriptures. Full of confidence, we will go before the world, and, like the apostle Paul, in the presence of the free-thinkers, we will 'know none other than Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.' We will conquer through the preaching of 'the folly of the Cross,' as Paul conquered the learned men of Greece and Rome; and the Roman church will have its glorious '89 [Clamorous cries, 'Get down! Out with the Protestant, the Calvinist, the traitor of the church.'] Your cries, Monsignori, do not frighten me. If my words are hot, my head is cool. I am neither of Luther, nor of Calvin, nor of Paul, nor of Apollos, but of Christ. [Renewed cries, 'Anathema, anathema, to the apostate.']

    Anathema? Monsignori, anathema? You know well that you are not protesting against me, but against the holy apostles under whose protection I should wish this Council to place the church. Ah! if wrapped in their winding-sheets they came out of their tombs, would they speak a language different from mine?

[pg. 23]

What would you say to them when by their writings they tell you that the papacy had deviated from the gospel of the Son of God, which they have preached and confirmed in so generous a manner by their blood? Would you dare say to them, We prefer the teaching of our own popes, our Bellarmine, our Ignatius Loyola, to yours? No, no! a thousand times, no! unless you have shut your ears that you may not hear, closed your eyes that you may not see, blunted your mind that you may not understand. Ah! if He who reigns above wishes to punish us, making His hand fall heavy on us, as He did on Pharaoh, He has no need to permit Garibaldi's soldiers to drive us away from the eternal city. He has only to let them make Pius IX a god, as we have made a goddess of the blessed Virgin. Stop, stop, venerable brethren, on the odious and ridiculous incline on which you have placed yourselves. Save the church from the shipwreck which threatens her, asking from the holy Scriptures alone for the rule of faith which we ought to believe and to profess. I have spoken: may God help me!

Source: BISHOP STROSSMAYER'S SPEECH in the Vatican Council of 1870, from an Italian version published at Florence, reprinted from "The Bible Treasury" No. 195, August 1872, pamphlet published by Loizeaux Brothers, Publishers, 19 West 21st Street, New York. The speech also appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, Monday, October 16, 1871, pg. 3.


This next item is from a speech prepared by Archbishop Peter Kenrick of St. Louis, also to be given at the first Vatican Council (1870), in opposition to the declaration of papal infallibility as dogma. Debate was ended before Archbishop Kenrick could deliver his speech, but it was printed and distributed to the bishops at the council anyway.

Archbishop Kenrick (1806-1897)

[p. 107] The rule of Biblical interpretation imposed upon us is this: that the Scriptures are not to be interpreted contrary to the unanimous consent of the fathers. It is doubtful whether any instance of that unanimous consent is to be found. But this failing, the rule seems to lay down for us the law of following, in their interpretation of Scripture, the major number of the fathers, that might seem to approach unanimity. Accepting this rule, we are compelled to abandon the usual modern exposition of the words, “On this rock I build my church.”

In a remarkable pamphlet “printed in fac-simile of manuscript,” and presented to the fathers almost two months ago, we find five different interpretations of the word rock, in the place cited; “the first of which declares” (I transcribe the words) “that the church was built on Peter; and this interpretation is followed by seventeen fathers—among them, by Origen, Cyprian, Jerome, Hilary, Cyril of Alexandria, Leo the Great, Augustine.

“The second interpretation understands from [p. 108] these words, ‘On this rock I build my church,’ that the church was built on all the apostles, whom Peter represented by virtue of the primary. And this opinion is followed by eight fathers—among them, Origen, Cyprian, Jerome, Augustine, Theodoret.

“The third interpretation asserts that the words, ‘On this rock,’ etc., are to be understood of the faith which Peter had professed—that this faith, this profession of faith, by which we believe Christ to be the Son of the living God is the everlasting and immovable foundation of the church. This interpretation is the weightiest of all, since it is followed by forty-four fathers and doctors; among them, from the East, are Gregory of Nyssa, Cyril of Alexandria, Chrysostom, Theophylact; from the West, Hilary, Ambrose, Leo the Great; from Africa, Augustine.

“The fourth interpretation declares that the words, ‘On this rock,’ etc., are to be understood of that rock which Peter had confessed, that is, Christ—the church was built upon Christ. This interpretation is followed by sixteen fathers and doctors.

“The fifth interpretation of the fathers understands by the name of the rock, the faithful themselves, who, believing Christ to be the Son of God, are constituted living stones out of which the church is built.”

Thus far the author of the pamphlet aforesaid, in which may be read the words of the fathers and doctors whom he cites.

From this it follows, either that no argument at [p. 109] all, or one of the slenderest probability, is to be derived from the words, “On this rock will I build my church,” in support of the primacy. Unless it is certain that by the rock is to be understood the apostle Peter in his own person, and not in his capacity as the chief apostle speaking for them all, the word supplies no argument whatever, I do not say in proof of papal infallibility, but even in support of the primacy of the bishop of Rome. If we are bound to follow the majority of the fathers in this thing, then we are bound to hold for certain that by the rock should be understood the faith professed by Peter, not Peter professing the faith.

Source: Peter Richard Kenrick, Speech of, in An Inside View of the Vatican Council, ed. by Leonard Woolsey Bacon (New York: American Tract Society, [1872]), pp. 107–109.

The original of this famous speech is found in Documenta ad Illustrandum Concilium Vaticanum, part 1, pages 189–226. A translation of it is found in An Inside View of the Vatican Council, issued by the American Tract Society, New York, pages 95–166.


Pope Gregory VII (1020-1085 A.D.)

It is remarkable that the reference of the rock to Christ, which Augustine especially defended with great earnestness, was acknowledged even by the greatest pope of the middle ages, Gregory VII., in the famous inscription he sent with a crown to the emperor Rudolph: “Petra [i. e., Christ] dedit Petro [i. e., to the apostle], Petrus [the pope] diadema Rudolpho.”

Source: Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 3 (5th ed.; New York: Scribner, 1902), p. 303.


Augustine (345-430 A.D.)

We who are Christians in name and in deed do not believe in Peter, but in him in whom Peter believed; we have been drawn to Christ by Peter's exhortations, not drugged by his incantations; we have been helped by his services, not hoodwinked by his sorceries. Christ was Peter's teacher in that faith which leads to everlasting life. The same Christ is our teacher too.

Source: St. Augustine's City of God, Book XVIII, Chapter 54, edited by Vernon J. Bourke, Image Books Doubleday, Copyright 1958, ISBN 0-385-02910-1, bearing the Imprimatur of Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York, page 425.


The Venerable Bede (637-735 A.D.)

Peter therefore is the same in Greek or Latin as Cephas in Syriac, and in each language the name is derived from “rock”; there is no doubt but that [it is] that [rock] concerning which Paul says: And that Rock was Christ (1 Cor. 10). For just as Christ, the true Light, granted to the apostles that they might be called the light of the world, thus also upon Simon, who believed in Christ the Rock [Latin, petra], He bestowed the name of Peter [Latin, petrus]. On another occasion, alluding to this etymology, He said: Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church (Matt. 16).

Source: Bede, the Venerable, In Marci Evangeluim Expositio, i. 3, comment on Mark 2, in MPL, Vol. 92, col. 160. Latin.

[col. 78] And I say unto thee that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church. Metaphorically it is said to him: Upon this rock, that is the Saviour [col. 79] whom you have confessed, the church is built, [the Saviour] who has given to the faithful confessor a participation in His name… And whatsoever thou shalt bind, etc. This power without doubt is given to all the apostles, to whom by Him after the resurrection it was said generally, Receive [ye] the Holy Spirit, etc. (John 20). And in fact to the bishops and priests, and to every church, is committed the same function, although certain of them, not understanding rightly, think that they are able to condemn the innocent and to absolve the guilty, which they are not at all able [to do], but attempting [it], to deprive themselves of the power granted [them].

Source: Bede, the Venerable, In Matthaei Evangelium Expositio, iii. 16, comment on Matt. 16:[18], in MPL, Vol. 92, cols. 78, 79. Latin.


Augustine (345-430 A.D.) and Hilary (-367? A.D.)

Romanism professes to be governed in its interpretation of Scripture "according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers."

Now, let us see how truthful (?) the Catholic Church is and how loyally (?) she subscribes to the writings of "the Fathers."

Augustine, the learned and celebrated Bishop of Hippo, whose name is a household word among Catholics, handled Matt. 16:18 as follows:

"Thou art Peter, and upon this rock which thou hast confessed . . . saying, 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,' I will build my church."
[ Sermon XXVI., On Matt. XIV. 25, paragraph 1.]

And Hilary, another Catholic saint, whose day on the calendar is January 13, wrote:

"This one foundation is immovable; that is, that one blessed rock of faith, confessed by the mouth of Peter, 'Thou art the Son of the Living God.' The building of the church is upon this rock of confession. This faith hath the keys of the kingdom of heaven; what this faith shall loose or bind is bound and loosed in heaven." [On the Trinity, Book II, paragraph 23.]

In the writings of these Fathers, Peter loses his identity. The Catholic Church of to-day should either interpret Matt. 16:18 correctly, or pull St. Augustine and St. Hillary down from their high pedestals and consign them to purgatory for having misinterpreted it.

Source: Center Shots at Rome, by George P. Rutledge, 1914, published by Standard Publishing, pages 34-35.


Mat 20:25 But Jesus called them (the disciples) unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
Mat 20:26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
Mat 20:27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
Mat 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Mark 10:42 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.
Mark 10:43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
Mark 10:44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.
Mark 10:45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Luke 22:25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.
Luke 22:26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.
Luke 22:27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.


Curiously, even the new Vatican Catechism confirms that it was Peter's confession of faith, and not Peter himself, that is the foundation rock upon which the church would be founded (emphasis is mine):

424 Moved by the grace on the Holy Spirit and drawn by the Father, we believe in Jesus and confess: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Mat 16:16) On the rock of this faith confessed by St. Peter, Christ built his Church. (Mat 16:18, St Leo the Great - Sermo 4,3; Sermo 51,1; Sermo 62,2; Sermo 83,3 )

442 ... And in the synagogues immediately [Paul] proclaimed Jesus, saying, 'He is the Son of God.'" (Acts 9:12) From the beginning this acknowledgment of Christ's divine sonship will be the center of the apostolic faith, first professed by Peter as the Church's foundation. ( cf. 1 Thess 1:10, Jn 20:31; Mt 16:18)

Source: Catechism of the Catholic Church, published by Ligouri Publications, English translation copyright 1994 by the United States Catholic Conference, Inc.--Libreria Editrice Vaticana, bearing the Imprimi Potest of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, pages 106, 111-112.


The church is indeed founded on faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, it is the only sure foundation-

John 3:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Mat 16:15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
Mat 16:16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Mat 16:17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
Mat 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock (of faith - that whosoever believeth in him, Jesus Christ) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life).

The Rock of the Gospel message is Jesus Christ and faith in Him will indeed prevail over the gates of the grave.


The Spiritual Rock.



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