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Proof of the Papacy From St. Augustine to the Council of Milevis (A.D. 400-420)



A helpful tool for diving into this project:


Part 1: in the Ante-Nicene Church (A.D. 00-300)

Part 2: from Nicaea to Constantinople I (A.D. 300-400)

Part 3: from St. Augustine to the Council of Milevis (A.D. 400-420)

Part 4: from Ephesus to Chalcedon (A.D. 420-500)

Part 5: Rome During the Years of the Rising East (A.D. 501-700)

Part 6: The Schism of the Universal Church (A.D. 700-1053)



400s


Assumption of Mary

“And the Holy Spirit said to the apostles: Let all of you together, having come by the clouds from the ends of the world, be assembled to holy Bethlehem by a whirlwind, on account of the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ; Peter from Rome, Paul from Tiberia, Thomas from Hither India, James from Jerusalem. Andrew, Peter’s brother, and Philip, Luke, and Simon the Cananaean, and Thaddaeus who had fallen asleep, were raised by the Holy Spirit out of their tombs.” (Assumption of Mary [A.D. 400]).

St. Augustine

The famous phrase “Rome has spoken; the case is concluded” is a paraphrase of this quote:

“For already have two councils on this question been sent to the Apostolic see; and rescripts also have come from thence. The question has been brought to an issue; would that their error may sometime be brought to an issue too!” (Sermons 131, 10).

“Number the bishops from the see of Peter itself. And in that order of Fathers see who succeeded whom, That is the rock against which the gates of hell do not prevail.” (Saint Augustine, Father and Doctor of the Church, Psalmus contra partem Donati, 18, GCC 51 [A.D. 393]).

“For if the lineal succession of bishops is to be taken into account, with how much more certainty and benefit to the Church do we reckon back till we reach Peter himself, to whom, as bearing in a figure the whole Church, the Lord said: "Upon this rock will I build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it!" The successor of Peter was Linus, and his successors in unbroken continuity were these: -- Clement, Anacletus, Evaristus, Alexander, Sixtus, Telesphorus, Iginus, Anicetus, Pius, Soter, Eleutherius, Victor, Zephirinus, Calixtus, Urbanus, Pontianus, Antherus, Fabianus, Cornelius, Lucius, Stephanus, Xystus, Dionysius, Felix, Eutychianus, Gaius, Marcellinus, Marcellus, Eusebius, Miltiades, Sylvester, Marcus, Julius, Liberius, Damasus, and Siricius, whose successor is the present Bishop Anastasius. In this order of succession no Donatist bishop is found.” (Letter 53).

“[In] the Roman Church, the supremacy of the Apostolic Chair has always flourished.” (Epistle 43)

“And because, even while walking in Him, they are not exempt from sins, which creep in through the infirmities of this life, He has given them the salutary remedies of alms whereby their prayers might be aided when He taught them to say, ‘Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.’ So does the Church act in blessed hope through this troublous life; and this Church symbolized in its generality, was personified in the Apostle Peter, on account of the primacy of his apostleship. For, as regards his proper personality, he was by nature one man, by grace one Christian, by still more abounding grace one, and yet also, the first apostle; but when it was said to him, ‘I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever you shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven’, he represented the universal Church, which in this world is shaken by various temptations, that come upon it like torrents of rain, floods and tempests, and falls not, because it is founded upon a rock (petra), from which Peter received his name. For petra (rock) is not derived from Peter, but Peter from petra; just as Christ is not called so from the Christian, but the Christian from Christ. For on this very account the Lord said, ‘On this rock will I build my Church, because Peter had said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’. On this rock, therefore, He said, which you have confessed, I will build my Church. For the Rock (Petra) was Christ; and on this foundation was Peter himself also built. ‘For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus’. The Church, therefore, which is founded in Christ received from Him the keys of the kingdom of heaven in the person of Peter, that is to say, the power of binding and loosing sins. For what the Church is essentially in Christ, such representatively is Peter in the rock (petra); and in this representation Christ is to be understood as the Rock, Peter as the Church. This Church, accordingly, which Peter represented, so long as it lives amidst evil, by loving and following Christ is delivered from evil.” (Tractate 124).

“But what follows? ‘For the poor you have always with you, but me ye will not have always.’ We can certainly understand, ‘poor you have always’; what He has thus said is true. When were the poor wanting in the Church? ‘But me ye will not have always’; what does He mean by this? How are we to understand, ‘Me ye will not have always’? Don’t be alarmed: it was addressed to Judas. Why, then, did He not say, ‘you will have’, but, ‘ye will have’? Because Judas is not here a unit. One wicked man represents the whole body of the wicked; in the same way as Peter, the whole body of the good, yea, the body of the Church, but in respect to the good. For if in Peter’s case there were no sacramental symbol of the Church, the Lord would not have said to him, ‘I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.’ If this was said only to Peter, it gives no ground of action to the Church. But if such is the case also in the Church, that what is bound on earth is bound in heaven, and what is loosed on earth is loosed in heaven, — for when the Church excommunicates, the excommunicated person is bound in heaven; when one is reconciled by the Church, the person so reconciled is loosed in heaven: — if such, then, is the case in the Church, Peter, in receiving the keys, represented the holy Church. If, then, in the person of Peter were represented the good in the Church, and in Judas’ person were represented the bad in the Church, then to these latter was it said, ‘But me ye will not have always’. But what means the ‘not always’; and what, ‘the always’? If you are good, if you belong to the body represented by Peter, you have Christ both now and hereafter: now by faith, by sign, by the sacrament of baptism, by the bread and wine of the altar.” (Tractate 50 on the Gospel of John).

“It's clear, you see, from many places in scripture that Peter can stand for, or represent, the Church; above all from that place where it says, To you will I hand over the keys ofthe kingdom ofheaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall also be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall also be loosed in heaven (Mt 16: 19). Did Peter receive these keys, and Paul not receive them? Did Peter receive them, and John and James and the other apostles not receive them? Or are these keys not to be found in the Church, where sins are being forgiven every day? But because Peter symbolically stood for the Church, what was given to him alone was given to the whole Church. So Peter represented the Church; the Church is the body of Christ.” (Sermon 149:7).

“Let us not listen to those who deny that the Church of God is able to forgive all sins. They are wretched indeed, because they do not recognize in Peter the rock and they refuse to believe that the keys of heaven, lost from their own hands, have been given to the Church.” (Christian Combat, 31:33 , in JUR, 3:51 [A.D. 397]).

“…A faggot that is cut off from the vine retains its shape. But what use is that shape, if it is not living from the root? Come, brothers, if you wish to be engrafted in the vine. It is grievous when we see you thus lying cut off. Number the priests even from that seat of Peter. And in that order of fathers see who to whom succeeded: that is the rock which the proud gates of hades do not conquer. All who rejoice in peace, only judge truly.”

“For in the Catholic Church, not to speak of the purest wisdom, to the knowledge of which a few spiritual, men attain in this life, so as to know it, in the scantiest measure, deed, because they are but men, still without any uncertainty (since the rest of the multitude derive their entire security not from acuteness of intellect, but from simplicity of faith,)--not to speak of this wisdom, which you do not believe to be in the Catholic Church, there are many other things which most justly keep me in her bosom. The consent of peoples and nations keeps me in the Church; so does her authority, inaugurated by miracles, nourished by hope, enlarged by love, established by age. The succession of priests keeps me, beginning from the very seat of the Apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection, gave it in charge to feed His sheep, down to the present episcopate. And so, lastly, does the name itself of Catholic, which, not without reason, amid so many heresies, the Church has thus retained; so that, though all heretics wish to be called Catholics, yet when a stranger asks where the Catholic Church meets, no heretic will venture to point to his own chapel or house. Such then in number and importance are the precious ties belonging to the Christian name which keep a believer in the Catholic Church, as it is right they should, though from the slowness of our understanding, or the small attainment of our life, the truth may not yet fully disclose itself. But with you, where there is none of these things to attract or keep me, the promise of truth is the only thing that comes into play. Now if the truth is so clearly proved as to leave no possibility of doubt, it must be set before all the things that keep me in the Catholic Church; but if there is only a promise without any fulfillment, no one shall move me from the faith which binds my mind with ties so many and so strong to the Christian religion.

“For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church. So when those on whose authority I have consented to believe in the gospel tell me not to believe in Manichaeus, how can I but consent? Take your choice. If you say, Believe the Catholics: their advice to me is to put no faith in you; so that, believing them, I am precluded from believing you;--If you say, Do not believe the Catholics: you cannot fairly use the gospel in bringing me to faith in Manichaeus; for it was at the command of the Catholics that I believed the gospel;--Again, if you say, You were right in believing the Catholics when they praised the gospel, but wrong in believing their vituperation of Manichaeus: do you think me such a fool as to believe or not to believe as you like or dislike, without any reason? It is therefore fairer and safer by far for me, having in one instance put faith in the Catholics, not to go over to you, till, instead of bidding me believe, you make me understand something in the clearest and most open manner. To convince me, then, you must put aside the gospel. If you keep to the gospel, I will keep to those who commanded me to believe the gospel; and, in obedience to them, I will not believe you at all. But if haply you should succeed in finding in the gospel an incontrovertible testimony to the apostleship of Manichaeus, you will weaken my regard for the authority of the Catholics who bid me not to believe you; and the effect of that will be, that I shall no longer be able to believe the gospel either, for it was through the Catholics that I got my faith in it; and so, whatever you bring from the gospel will no longer have any weight with me. Wherefore, if no clear proof of the apostleship of Manichaeus is found in the gospel, I will believe the Catholics rather than you. But if you read thence some passage clearly in favor of Manichaeus, I will believe neither them nor you: not them, for they lied to me about you; nor you, for you quote to me that Scripture which I had believed on the authority of those liars. But far be it that I should not believe the gospel; for believing it, I find no way of believing you too. For the names of the apostles, as there recorded, do not include the name of Manichaeus. And who the successor of Christ's betrayer was we read in the Acts of the Apostles; which book I must needs believe if I believe the gospel, since both writings alike Catholic authority commends to me.” (Against the Letter of Mani Called “The Foundation” 4:5 [A.D. 397]).

“If all men throughout the world were such as you most vainly accuse them of having been, what has the chair of the Roman church done to you, in which Peter sat, and in which Anastasius sits today? Or the chair of the Church of Jerusalem, in which James once sat, and in which John sits today, with which we are united in catholic unity, and from which you have severed yourselves by your mad fury? Why do you call the apostolic chair a seat of the scornful? If it is on account of the men whom you believe to use the words of the law without performing it, do you find that our Lord Jesus Christ was moved by the Pharisees, of whom He says, “They say, and do not,” to do any despite to the seat in which they sat? Did He not commend the seat of Moses, and maintain the honor of the seat, while He convicted those that sat in it? For He says, “They sit in Moses’ seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works:” (Against the Letters of Petilani 2:118 [A.D. 402]).

"If all men throughout the world were such as you most vainly accuse them of having been, what has the chair of the Roman church done to you, in which Peter sat, and in which Anastasius [the 39th Pope] sits today?" (Against the Letters of Petilani 2:118 [A.D. 402]).

“Among these [apostles] Peter alone almost everywhere deserved to represent the whole Church. Because of that representation of the Church, which only he bore, he deserved to hear ‘I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven.’” (Sermon 295 [c. 411 A.D])

“If the very order of episcopal succession is to be considered, how much more surely, truly, and safely do we number them from Peter himself, to whom, as to one representing the whole Church, the Lord said, ‘Upon this rock I will build my Church’ . . . [Matt. 16:18]. Peter was succeeded by Linus, Linus by Clement, Clement by Anacletus, Anacletus by Evaristus . . . In this order of succession a Donatist bishop is not to be found ” (Letters 53:1:2 [A.D. 412]).

“Some things are said which seem to relate especially to the apostle Peter, and yet are not clear in their meaning unless referred to the Church, which he is acknowledged to have represented in a figure on account of the primacy which he bore among the disciples. Such is ‘I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven,’ and other similar passages.” (Commentary on Psalm 108 1 [A.D. 415]).

“Who is ignorant that the first of the apostles is the most blessed Peter?” (Commentary on John 56:1 [A.D. 416]).

“Carthage was also near to the countries beyond the sea, and distinguished by illustrious renown, so that it had a bishop of more than ordinary influence, who could afford to disregard even a number of enemies conspiring against him, because he saw himself united by letters of communion both to the Roman Church, in which the supremacy of an apostolic chair has always flourished.” (Letter 74, chp 3).

“For if in Peter’s case there were no sacramental symbol of the Church, the Lord would not have said to him, “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatsoever thou shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.” If this was said only to Peter, it gives no ground of action to the Church. But if such is the case also in the Church, that what is bound on earth is bound in heaven, and what is loosed on earth is loosed in heaven, — for when the Church excommunicates, the excommunicated person is bound in heaven; when one is reconciled by the Church, the person so reconciled is loosed in heaven: — if such, then, is the case in the Church, Peter, in receiving the keys, represented the holy Church.” (Tractate 50 on the Gospel of John).

“For at that time the apostles were not yet fitted even to die for Christ, when He said to them, “Ye cannot follow me now,” and when the very foremost of them, Peter, who had presumptuously declared that he was already able, met with a different experience from what he anticipated.” (Tractate 96 on the Gospel of John).

“So does the Church act in blessed hope through this troublous life; and this Church symbolized in its generality, was personified in the Apostle Peter, on account of the primacy of his apostleship.” (Tractate 124 on the Gospel of John).

“In Peter, which means Rocky, we see our attention drawn to the Rock. Now the apostle Paul says about the former people, ‘They drank from the spiritual rock that was following them; but the rock was Christ’ (1 Cor 10:4). So this disciple is called Rocky from the Rock, like a Christian is from Christ. Why have I wanted to make this little introduction? In order to suggest to you that in Peter the Church is to be understood. Christ, you see, built His Church not on a man but on Peter’s confession. What is Peter’s confession? ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ There’s the rock for you, there’s the foundation, there’s where the Church has been built, which the gates of the underworld cannot conquer.” (Sermon 229).

“[On this matter of the Pelagians] two councils have already been sent to the Apostolic See [the bishop of Rome], and from there rescripts too have come. The matter is at an end; would that the error too might be at an end!” (Sermons 131:10 [A.D. 411]).

“But that rock, Peter himself, that great mountain, when he prayed and saw that vision, was watered from above.” (Expostition on Psalm 104).

“The venerable Pope Zosimus, keeping in view this deprecatory preamble, dealt with the man, puffed up as he was with the blasts of false doctrine, so as that he should condemn all the objectionable points which had been alleged against him by the deacon Paulinus, and that he should yield his assent to the rescript of the Apostolic See which had been issued by his predecessor of sacred memory.

“For although he deceived the council in Palestine, seemingly clearing himself before it, he entirely failed in imposing on the church at Rome.” (On the Grace of Christ and Original Sin, 2:8,9).

“To Caelestine, my lord most blessed, and holy father venerated with all due affection, Augustine sends greetings in the Lord. First of all I congratulate you that our Lord God has, as we have heard, established you in the illustrious chair which you occupy without any division among His people…There are cases on record, in which the Apostolic See, either pronouncing judgment or confirming the judgment of others, sanctioned decisions by which persons, for certain offenses, were neither deposed from their episcopal office nor left altogether unpunished.” (Letter 209).

“And when his speech [Celestius to Pope Zosimus] came to the question that was under consideration, he said: "If, indeed, questions have arisen beyond the scope of the faith, on which there might perhaps be dissensions on the part of a great number of people, in no case have I pretended to pronounce a decision on any dogma, as if I myself possessed a definite authority in the matter ; but whatever I have drawn from the source of the prophets and apostles, I have presented for the approval of your apostolic office; so that if any error has crept in among us, human beings that we are, through our ignorance, it may be corrected by your sentence." (De Peccati, Originali).

“Our forefathers gave the name `Chair' to this feast so that we might remember that the Prince of the Apostles was entrusted with the `Chair' of the episcopate ... Blessed be God, who deigned to exalt the apostle Peter over the whole Church. It is most fitting that this foundation be honoured since it is the means by which we may ascend to Heaven.” (Sermon 15 on the Saints).

“I close with a word of counsel to you who are implicated in those shocking and damnable errors, that, if you acknowledge the supreme authority of Scripture, you should recognise that authority which from the time of Christ Himself, through the ministry of His apostles, and through a regular succession of bishops in the seats of the apostles, has been preserved to our own day throughout the whole world, with a reputation known to all.” (Reply to Faustus the Manichean, 33:9).

“ "For being ignorant of God's righteousness, and wishing to establish their own, they have not submitted to the righteousness of God." My brethren, have compassion with me. When you find such men, do not hide them; have no misdirected mercy. Refute those who contradict, and those who resist bring to us. For already two councils on this question have been sent to the apostolic see ; and replies have also come from there. The cause is finished; would that the error might sometime be finished also .” (Sermon 131).

“ For men, wishing to be built upon men, said "I am of Paul-and I of Apollos, I of Cephas ", that is Peter. And others who did not wish to be built upon Peter but upon the rock "But I am of Christ". But when the apostle Paul realized that he was chosen and Christ despised, he said "Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in Paul's name? ". As not in Paul, so neither in Peter, but in the name of Christ, that Peter might be built upon the rock, not the rock upon Peter. Therefore this same Peter, called blessed by the rock, bearing the figure of the Church, holding the chiefplace in the apostleship, shortly after he heard he was blessed, now heard that he was Peter, now heard that he was to be built upon the rock. . . . . The apostle Paul says, "Now we who are strong should bear the burdens of the weak". When Peter says, "Thou are the Christ, the Son of the living God", he represents the strong; but when he fears and totters, and wishes that Christ should not suffer, fearing the death, and not recognizing the life, he represents the weak ones of the Church. In that one apostle then, that is Peter, in the order of the apostles first and principal, in whom the Church was figured, both kinds were to be represented, that is both the strong and the weak, because the Church is not without both.” (Sermon 76).

“ For Peter in many places in the Scriptures appears to represent the Church; especially in that place where it was said "I give to thee the keys . . . shall' be loosed in heaven". What! did Peter receive these keys, and Paul not receive? Did Peter receive and John and James not receive, and the rest of the apostles? Or are not the keys in the Church where sins are daily remitted? But since in a figure Peter represented the Church, what was given to him singly was given to the Church.” (Sermon 149).

“As you know, the Lord Jesus chose his disciples before his passion, whom he named apostles. Among these Peter alone almost everywhere deserved to represent the whole Church. Because of that representation of the whole Church which only he bore, he deserved to hear "I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven". For these keys not one man but the unity of the Church received. Here therefore the excellence of Peter is set forth, because he represented that universality and unity of the Church, when it was said to him " I give to thee" what was given to all. For that you may know that the Church did receive the keys of the kingdom of heaven, hear elsewhere what the Lord said to all the apostles, "Receive the Holy Ghost" and forthwith "Whose soever sins ye remit they are remitted unto them, and whose soever sins ye retain they are retained ". This pertains to the keys, of which it was said "Whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven, and whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven". But this he said to Peter, that you may know that Peter then represented the person of the whole Church. Hear what is said to him, what to all the faithful saints . . . Deservedly also, after his resurrection, the Lord commended his sheep to Peter himself to feed; for he was not the only one among the disciples who was thought worthy to feed the Lord's sheep, but when Christ speaks to one, unity is commended-and to Peter for the first time, because Peter is first among the apostles.” (Sermon 295).

“ [In my first book against Donatus] I mentioned somewhere with reference to the apostle Peter that " the Church is founded upon him as upon a rock". This meaning is also sung by many lips in the lines of blessed Ambrose, where, speaking of the domestic cock, he says : "When it crows, he, the rock of the Church, absolves from sin." But I realize that I have since frequently explained the words of our Lord : "Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church", to the effect that they should be understood as referring to him whom Peter confessed when he said: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God", and as meaning that Peter, having been named after this rock, figured the person of the Church, which is built upon this rock and has received the keys of the kingdom of heaven. For what was said to him was not "Thou art the rock", but "Thou art Peter". But the rock was Christ, having confessed whom (even as the whole Church confesses) Simon was named Peter. Which of these two interpretations is the more likely to be correct, let the reader choose which of these two opinions is the more probable..” (Retractations, Book I, Chapter I).

“ Just as the apostles who formed the exact number of twelve, in other words parted into four parts of three each, when all were questioned only Peter replied "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God ", and to him it was said " I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven", as if he alone received the power of binding and loosing : seeing then that one so spake on behalf of all, and received the gift along with all, as if personifying the unity itself; one for all because there is unity in all.” (In Joannis Euangelium) [A.D. 416]).

“But first the Lord asks what he knew, not once but a second and a third time, whether Peter loved him; and just as often he has the same reply, that he is loved, while just as often he gives Peter the same charge to feed his sheep. The threefold denial is renounced by a threefold confession, that the tongue may serve love no less than fear, and imminent death may not seem to have drawn out more from the voice than the present life. Let it be the office of love to feed the Lord's flock, if it was the signal of fear to deny the Shepherd.” (In Joannis Euangelium).

“These two states of life [the life of faith and the life of sight] were symbolized by Peter and John, each of them one; but in this life they both walked by faith, and they will both enjoy that eternal life through sight. For the whole body of the saints, therefore, inseparably belonging to the body of Christ, and for their safe pilotage through this stormy life, did Peter, the first of the apostles, receive the keys of the kingdom of heaven for binding and loosing sins. And for the same congregation of the saints did John the evangelist recline on the breast of Christ, in reference to the perfect repose in the bosom of that mysterious life to come. For it is not the former alone, but the whole Church that binds and looses sins; nor did the latter alone drink at the fountain of the Lord's breast, to utter again in preaching those truths of the Word in the beginning, God with God, and those other sublime truths, the divinity of Christ, and the Trinity and Unity of the whole Godhead, which are yet to be seen in the kingdom face to face, but meanwhile, till the Lord comes, are only to be seen in a mirror and in a riddle ; but the Lord has himself diffused this very gospel throughout the whole world, that everyone of his own may drink Gom it, according to his capacity.” (In Joannis Evangelium).

“If all men throughout the world were such as you most vainly accuse them of being, what has the chair of the Roman church done to you, in which Peter sat, and in which Anastasius sits to-day ; or the chair of the church of Jerusalem, in which James sat, and in which John sits to-day, with which we are connected in catholic unity, and from which you have severed yourselves by mad fury?” (Contra Litteras Petiliani, Book 2 [A.D. 402].

“If the lineal succession of bishops is to be considered, with how much more benefit to the Church do we reckon from Peter himself, to whom, as bearing in a figure the whole Church, the Lord said: "Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not conquer it"! For to Peter succeeded Linus, Clement, Anacletus, Evaristus, Alexander, Sixtus, Telesphorus, Iginus, Anicetus, Pius, Soter, Eleutherius, Victor, Zephyrinus, Calixtus, Urban, Pontian, Antherus, Fabian, Cornelius, Lucius, Stephen, Xystus, Dionysius, Felix, Eutychian, Gaius, Marcellinus, Marcellus, Eusebius, Miltiades, Sylvester, Mark, Julius, Liberius, Damasus, Siricius, Anastasius. In this order of succession no Donatist bishop is found. But, unexpectedly, they sent from Africa an ordained man, who, presiding over a few Africans in Rome, propagated the title of Mountain Men or Cutzupits.” (Fortunatus, Alypius, and Augustine to Generosus [A.D. 400]).

The following two excerpts give recaps of The Council of Milevis, which you will see play out later on (in the section titled “The Council of Milevis”:

“After letters had come to us from the East, discussing the case in the clearest manner, we were bound not to fail in assisting the Church’s need with such episcopal authority as we possess (nullo modo jam qualicumque episcopali auctoritate deesse Ecclesiae debueramus). In consequence, relations as to this matter were sent from two Councils — those of Carthage and of Milevis — to the Apostolic See, before the ecclesiastical acts by which Pelagius is said to have been acquitted had come into our hands or into Africa at all. We also wrote to Pope Innocent, of blessed memory a private letter, besides the relations of the Councils, wherein we described the case at greater length, to all of these he [Pope Innocent] answered in the manner which was the right and duty of the bishop of the Apostolic See (Ad omnia nobis ille rescripsit eo modo quo fas erat atque oportebat Apostolicae sedis Antistitem). All of which you may now read, if perchance none of them or not all of them have yet received you; in them you will see that, while he has preserved the moderation which was right, so that the heretic should not be condemned if he condemns his errors, yet the new and pernicious error is so restrained by ecclesiastical authority that we much wonder that there should be any still remaining who, by any error whatsoever, try to fight against the grace of God….” (Augustine, Epistle 186: Alypius and Augustine to Paulinus – Bishop of Nola near Naples. AD 417. Patrologia Latina 33.816).

“Refute those [Pelagians] who contrdict, and those who resist bring to us. For already two councils on this question have been sent to the Apostolic see and replies have also come from there. The cause is finished; would that the error might sometime be finished also!” (Augustine, Sermon 131. Sept 23, 417. Patrologia Latina 38. 734).

"[On this matter of the Pelagians] two councils have already been sent to the Apostolic See [the bishop of Rome], and from there rescripts too have come. The matter is at an end; would that the error too might be at an end!" (Sermon 81).

“The new-fangled Pelagian heretics have been most justly condemned by the authority of catholic councils and of the Apostolic See. (On the Soul and its Origin).

“After a letter had reached us from the East, quite openly pushing the [Pelagian] heresy, it was now our duty not to fail the Church in any way, by any episcopal authority whatever; accordingly reports were sent on this matter from two councils, those of Carthage and Mileve, to the apostolic see. . . . We also wrote to the late Pope Innocent, in addition to the reports of the councils, a private letter,' in which we dealt more fully with the same question. To all he wrote back to us in the manner that was right and proper for the pontiff of the apostolic see.” (Alypius and Augustine to Paulinus [A.D. 417).

“With crafty eloquence he, Antony, persuaded our aged primate, a most venerable man, to believe all his statements, and to commend him as altogether blameless to the venerable Pope Boniface. But why should I rehearse all the rest, seeing the same venerable old man must have reported the whole affair to your holiness? . . . . He, Antony, proclaims : " Either I ought to sit in my own see, or I ought not to be a bishop."

“There are cases on record in which the apostolic see, judging, or confrming thejudgement of others, [sanctioned decisions] by which persons were for offences neither deposed from their episcopal office, nor left altogether unpunished. I will not look into those very remote from our time; I shall mention recent cases. Let Priscus, a bishop of the province of Caesarea, proclaim : " Either the office of primate ought to be open to me as to others, or I ought not to remain a bishop." Let Victor, another bishop of the same province, with whom, when involved in the same penalty as Priscus, no bishop beyond his ' own diocese holds communion, let him, I say, protest: "Either I ought to have communion everywhere, or I ought I not to have it in my own district." Let Lawrence,' a third 1, bishop of the same province, speak, and in the precise words of this man exclaim : "Either I ought to sit in the chair to whichhave been consecrated, or I ought not to be a bishop." But who will censure these judgements, unless he supposes either I that all offences should be overlooked, or that all should be punished in one way?

“Since, then, with pastoral and vigilant caution, the most blessed Pope Boniface has put in his letter about Bishop Antony the words, "if he has truthfully told us the facts", I receive now the course of events which in his pamphlet he I kept back, and also the things which were done after the letter of that man of blessed memory had been read in Africa; and in the mercy of Christ extend your aid to men imploring it more earnestly than he does from whose turbulence they desire to be freed. For either from himself, or at least from very frequent rumours, threats are held out that the courts of justice, and the public powers, and military force are to execute the decision of the apostolic see ; and so these unhappy men, being now catholic Christians, dread severer treatment from a catholic bishop, than they dreaded from the laws of catholic emperors when they were heretics. Do not permit these things to be done, I implore you by the blood of Christ, by the memory of the apostle Peter, who has warned those placed over I Christian people against violently lording it over the brethren. I commend to the gracious love of your holiness both the catholics of Fussala, my children in Christ, and also Bishop Antony, my son in Christ, for I love both. I do not blame the People of Fussala for bringing- to your ears a just complaint against me 1 for imposing on them a man whom I had not proved, and who was in age at least not yet established, by whom they have been so afflicted.” (Epistle 209, to Celestine [A.D. 423]).

“Some things are said which seem to relate especially to the apostle Peter, and yet are not clear in their meaning unless referred to the Church, which he is acknowledged to have represented in a figure, on account of the primacy which he bore among the disciples. Such is "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven", and other similar passages; so Judas represents those Jews who were Christ's enemies.” (Enanatio in Psalmum).

"Then he comes to Simon Peter", as if he had already washed some others, and after them had come to the chief. Who is ignorant that the$rst of the apostles is the most blessed Peter? But we are not therefore to understand that he came to him after others, but that he began from him.” (In Joannis Euangelium 56. [A.D. 416]).

“Carthage was also near the countries over the sea, and distinguished by illustrious renown, so that it had a bishop of more than ordinary influence, who could afford to disregard a number of conspiring enemies because he saw himself joined by letters of communion both to the Roman church, in which the primacy of an apostolic chair always nourished and to other lands from which the gospel came to Africa itself; and he was prepared to defend himself before these churches, if his enemies tried to alienate them from him. . . . It was a matter concerning colleagues who could reserve their entire case to the judgement of other colleagues, especially of apostolic churches. . . . . As if it might not have been said, and most justly said to them [the Donatists] : "Well, let us suppose that these bishops who decided the case of Caecilian at Rome were not good judges ; there still remained a plenary council of the universal Church, in which these judges themselves might be put on their defence, so that, if they were convicted of mistake, their decisions might be reversed." (Epistle 43, to Glorius, etc. [A.D. 397])

“And since the whole Christ is head and body, which truth I do not doubt that you know well, the head is our Saviour himself, who suffered under Pontius Pilate, who now, after he is risen from the dead, sits at the right hand of the Father; but his body is the Church: not this church or that, but diffused over all the world, nor that only which exists among men living, for those also belong to it who were before us and are to be after us to the end of the world. For the whole Church, made up of all the faithful, because all the faithful are members of Christ, has its head, which governs the body, situate in the heavens ; though it is separated from sight, yet it is bound by love.” (Enarratio in Psalmum [A.D. 415]).

“Cyprian speaks as follows in his letter to Quintus "For even Peter . . ." Here is a passage in which Cyprian records what we also learn in Holy Scripture, that the apostle Peter, in whom the primacy of the apostles shines with such exceeding grace, was corrected by the later apostle Paul, when he adopted a custom in the matter of circumcision at variance with the demands of truth. If it was therefore possible for Peter in some point to walk not uprightly according to the truth . . . why might not Cyprian against the rule of truth, which afterwards the whole Church held, compel heretics or schismatics to be baptized afresh? I suppose there is no slight to Cyprian in comparing him with the apostle Peter in respect of his crown of martyrdom; rather I ought to be afraid lest I am slighting Peter. Who can be ignorant that the chief apostolate is to be preferred to any episcopate? But even if the dignity of their sees differs, the glory of martyrdom is one. .

“Nor should we dare to assert any such thing, were we not supported by the unanimous authority of the whole Church, to which he, Cyprian, would without doubt have yielded, if at that time the truth of this question had been established by the investigation and decree of a general council. ….

“It is safe for us not to advance with any rash opinion about things which have been neither started in a local catholic council nor completed in a plenary one, but to assert, with the confidence of a fearless voice, that which, under the government of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, has been conjrmed by consent of the universal Church. (De Baptismo contra Donatistas, Book I. [A.D. 401]).

“[After quoting the heretical portion of Celestius' libellus he proceeds:] This his opinion Pelagius was afraid or ashamed to bring out to you; but his disciple, without any obscurity, was neither ashamed nor afraid to publish it openly before the apostolic see.. But the very merciful prelate of that see, when he saw I him carried headlong with such presumption like a madman, until he might recover, if that were possible, preferred to bind him bit by bit by question and answer, rather than to I strike him with a severe sentence, which would thrust him down that precipice over which he seemed to be already I hanging. I do not say " had fallen ", but " seemed to be hanging" ; for earlier in the same libellus he had promised before I speaking of such questions: "If by chance any error of ignorance has crept in, human as we are, it may be corrected by - your sentence.”

“So the venerable Pope Zosimus, holding to this foreword, urged the man, inflated with false doctrine, to condemn what he was accused of by the deacon Paulinus, and to give his I assent to the letters of the apostolic see which had emanated from his predecessor of holy memory. He refused to condemn what the deacon objected, but he dared not resist the letters of blessed Pope Innocent, nay, he promised " to condemn whatever that see should condemn".: Thus gently treated, as if a madman, that he might be pacified, he was still not thought fit to be released from the bonds of excommunication. But a delay of two months1 was granted, that an answer might be received from Africa, and so an opportunity of recovery was given him by a medicinal gentleness in his sentence. For, indeed, he would be cured, if he would lay aside his obstinate vanity, and attend to what he promised, and would read those letters to which he professed to consent. But after the rescripts were duly issued fiom the African council of bishops, there were very good reasons why the sentence should be carried out against him, in strictest accordance with equity. . . . For though Pelagius tricked the investigation in Palestine, seeming to clear himself before it, he entirely failed in imposing on the church at Rome (where, as you are aware, he was well known), although he tried even this ; but as I said, he entirely failed. For the most blessed Pope Zosimus recollected what his exemplary predecessor had thought of these very proceedings. He considered what was felt about this man by the trusty Romans, whose faith deserved to be spoken of in the Lord, and whose resounding zeal for catholic truth against his error he saw burning harmoniously. The man had lived among them for a long while, and his opinions could not be hidden. . . .

“This being so, you of course feel that episcopal councils, and the apostolic see, and the whole Roman church, and the Roman Empire, which by God's grace has become Christian, have been most righteously moved against the authors of this wicked error, until they recover from the snares of the devil.

“For the time, indeed, Pelagius seemed to say what was agreeable to the catholic faith, but in the end he had no power to deceive that see. Indeed after the replies of the council of Africa, into which province this pestilent doctrine had stealthily made its way, without, however, spreading widely or sinking deeply, other opinions also of this man were, by the care of some faithful brethren, discovered and brought to light at Rome, where he had dwelt for a very long while, and had already engaged in sundry discourses and controversies. In order to procure the condemnation of these opinions, Pope Zosimus, as you may read, annexed them to his letter which he wrote for publication throughout the catholic world.” (De Peccato Original [A.D. 418]).

“Do you think they are therefore to be despised, because they are all of the western church, and we have mentioned no eastern bishop ? What are we to do, since they are Greeks and we are Latins? I think you ought to be satisjied with that part of the world in which the Lord willed to crown thejrst of his apostles with a glorious martyrdom. If you had been willing to hear blessed Innocent, the president of that church, you would then have freed your perilous youth from the Pelagian snares. For what could that holy man answer to the African councils except what from of old the apostolic see and the Roman church with the rest steadfastly holds? Yet you charge his successor with the crime of prevarication, because he would not go against the apostolic doctrine, and the sentence of his predecessor. . . . Take care how you reply to S. Innocent, who has no view on this matter except that of those men, western fathers, to whom I have introduced you, in case it is of any use. He himself sits with these too, after them in time though before them in place…

“…Necessity therefore compelled that we should, at least by our assembly, crush their immodesty, and restrain their audacity. In truth your cause is anyhow jnished by a competent decision of bishops in common. There is no more need of examination with you, but merely to make you acquiesce in the sentence, or to restrain your turbulence….

“...He did not go back from his predecessor, Innocent, whom you feared to name ; but you preferred Zosimus, because he first dealt leniently with Celestius, since the latter, in these your statements, said that if anything was displeasing he was prepared to correct it, and promised to consent to the letters of Innocent.” (Contra Julianum Pelagianum [A.D. 422])

Since you persist in asserting that freedom, acting rightly or wrongly, cannot perish through sheer misuse, let the blessed Pope Innocent, pontiff of the Roman church, answer. Replying on your affairs to the episcopal councils of Africa he said, "Having experienced free will . . ." Do you see what the catholic faith does through its minister? (Opus Imperfectum contra Julianum, Book 6 [A.D. 430]).

“You [Pope Boniface] who mind not high things, however loftily you are placed, did not disdain to be a friend of the lowly, and to return ample love. . . . I have ventured to write to your blessedness about these things which are now claiming the episcopal attention to viligance on behalf of the Lord's flock….

“…Since the heretics do not cease to growl at the entrances to the Lord's fold, and on every side to tear open the approaches so as to plunder the sheep redeemed at such a price; and since the pastoral watch-tower is common to all of us who discharge the episcopal office (although you are preeminent therein on a loftier height), I do what I can in respect of my small portion of the charge, as the Lord condescends to grant me, by the aid of your prayers, to oppose their pestilent and crafty writings. . . . . . . These words. . . I determined to address especially to your holiness, not so much for your learning as for your examination, and, perchance anything should displease you, for your correction.” (Contra duas Epistolas Pelagianorum [A.D. 420]).

“Moreover, they, the Pelagians, accuse the Roman clergy, writing, "They, driven by the fear of a command, have not blushed to be guilty of the crime of prevarication : contrary to their previous judgement, wherein, by the acts, they had assented to the catholic dogma, they later pronounced that man's nature is evil". Nay, but the Pelagians conceived a false hope that their new and horrible dogma could prevail upor1 the catholic minds of certain Romans, when those crafty spirits . . . were treated with more lenity than the stricter discipline of the Church required. For while so many important ecclesiastical documents were passing to and fro between the apostolic see and the African bishops . . . what sort of letter or what decree is found of the late Pope Zosimus in which he declared that we must believe that man is born without any taint of original sin? He certainly never said this ; he never wrote it at all. But since Celestius had written this in his pamphlet, merely among those matters on which he confessed he was still in doubt and desired to be instructed . . . the willingness to amend, and not the falsehood of the dogma, was approved. Therefore his pamphlet was called catholic, because if by chance in any matters a man thinks otherwise than what the truth demands, it reveals a catholic mind not to define them with the greatest accuracy, but to reject them when they are detected and pointed out. . . . This was thought to be the I I case with him when he replied that he consented to the letters of the late Pope Innocent, in which all doubt about this matter was removed. In order that this might be made fuller and clearer in him, matters were held up until letters should come from Africa, in which province his craftiness had somehow become more clearly known. Eventually these letters came to Rome, declaring that for slow-witted and anxious men, it was not sufficient that he confessed his general consent to the letters of Innocent, but that he ought openly to revoke the mischievous statements which he had made in liis pamphlet. For if he did not do this, many people of insufficient intelligence would be more likely to believe that those poisons of the faith in his pamphlet had been approved by the apostolic see, because it had been affirmed by that see that the pamphlet was catholic, than to believe that the poisons had been amended because of his answer that he consented to the letters of Pope Innocent. . . .

“But if, which God forbid, it had been judged in the Roman church that those dogmas of Celestius or Pelagius, condemned by Pope Innocent, should be pronounced worthy of approval, the mark of prevarication would rather have to be branded on the Roman clergy for this. To sum up, in the first place the letters of the most blessed Pope Innocent, in reply to the letters of the African bishops, have equally condemned this error which these men are trying to commend to us. Likewise his successor, the holy Pope Zosimus, never said or wrote that this dogma which these men think concerning infants is to be held. Besides, when Celestius tried to clear himself, he bound him by repeated interruptions l to consent to the aforesaid letters of the apostolic see. Surely then, provided the stability of the most ancient and robust faith was maintained, whatever in the meanwhile was done more leniently with Celestius was the most merciful persuasion of correction, not the most pernicious approval of wickedness. And since afterwards Celestius and Pelagius were condemned by the repeated authority of the same priesthood, this was the proof of a severity for a while withheld, but at length of necessity carried out, not a violation of that previously known, or a new recognition of truth.

“ . . . These are the words of the venerable Bishop Innocent to the council of Carthage on this affair . . . What could be more clear or more manifest than that judgement of the apostolic see? To this Celestius professed that he assented, when, it being said to him by your holy predecessor, Zosimus, "Do you condemn all that is flung about in your name? ",I he himself replied, "I condemn them in accordance with the ~l judgement of your predecessor, Innocent ' ” (Contra dzcas Epistolas Pelagianorum, Book 2 [A.D. 420]).

Paulinus the Deacon

“I beseech justice of your blessedness, Lord Zosimus, venerable Pope. The true faith is never disturbed, certainly not in the apostolic church, in which teachers of false faith are as truly punished as they are easily discovered, that they may die in the evils they have committed, unless they correct them so that in them may be that true faith which the apostles taught, and which the Roman church holds, together with all the doctors of the catholic faith. And if. . . these also who are or will be discovered remain in their perfidy, let them be delivered to the spiritual sword to be destroyed ; just as the other leaders of heresy, long ago judged by the apostolic see, or by the fathers, were expelled from the bosom of the Catholic Church, and given over to eternal death. So let it be with Pelagius and I Celestius, who were condemned by your predecessor, the late Pope Innocent, if they reject the true faith and remain in their perverse doctrine.

“Following his sentence, your blessedness directed to Celestius these words among others, when he was heard by the apostolic see: "Do you condemn everything about the questions which are contained in the libellus of Paulinus?" And I in another place: "Are you acquainted with the letters which the apostolic see sent to the brothers and fellow bishops of the African province? " And then: "Do you condemn all that we have condemned, and hold all that we hold?" And again: "Do you condemn all that is flung about in your name?" And again: "Or those things which Paulinus exposed in his pamphlet?" And when he said that I might be proved a heretic by my accusations of himself, you, filled with the Holy Ghost, rejected his wild and quibbling words and by your apostolic authority gave a judgement by which I was declared catholic, and he might be cured if he would. "I do not want you to lead us in a circle; do you condemn all that was objected against you by Paulinus, or spread about by rumour?" To whom is this decision not sufficient? Who would reject a decision so healthy, so worthy, and so pious except one who is I astray from the faith? And he who had above confessed that I he would condemn whatever was objected against him, if you judged it to be contrary to the faith, hears the word "con- I demn", and not only does not condemn, but disputes to such great injury of the see. So now the Roman church is no longer I ignorant of the character of her plaintiff who has dared in so audacious a spirit to contradict, and not to condemn what your holiness decreed should be condemned.

“I thank God . . . that the apostolic see condemned, by the mouth of two pontiffs, the heresy of which I accused Celestius . . . he has also against him . . . Cyprian, Ambrose, Gregory, and Pope Innocent . . . at least he ought certainly to follow you, if he prefers learning the truth to teaching falsehood; he has (which is first) your blessedness, whose sentence he ought to have obeyed, when he heard you say "condemn". . . . . Wherefore I pray your apostleship to receive this libellus of mine, that I may be able to give thanks to your great see, and to its most just decisions given in my favour. I write it because the subdeacon Basiliscus summoned me verbally at Carthage on 2 November, on behalf of your holiness, with acts of the apostolic see addressed to me, to be present before the apostolic see and the judgement of your holiness, to which it was suggested that I had fled. I would promise not to be absent, if the sentence had been against me and not for me. . . . Let that which could no longer be hid, but has been publicly brought to light, be now cut off by your holiness with the spiritual sword, that the flock of the Lord, which you govern as a good shepherd with anxious care, may no longer be torn by the teeth of this wild beast.”

(Libellus Zosimo oblatus contra Celestium [A.D. November 8, 417]).

St. Prosper of Aquitaine

“Rome, the seat of Saint Peter, was established at the head of the world by receiving the honor of the pastoral charge and all that arms did not give him she possesses it by the power of religion. (St. Prosper of Aquitaine, a student of St. Augustine, Poem on the ingrates, I, PL 51, 97 [c. A.D. 390-455]).

“Rome the see of Peter, which for pastoral honor was made head of the world.” (Libro de Ingratis).

“While mad error was spreading such things abroad, and misleading untutored ears with pernicious falsehoods, there was at hsnd, with God's encouragement, the dutiful devotion of the holy fathers, vcrhich was provided throughout the world, and which with one accord destroyed the dreadful foe with heavenly missiles. For at the same time the one Spirit thundered with the same decrees. First to hew down the oncoming scourge was Rome, the see of Peter, which, hauing been made capital of the world's pastoral ofice, holds by religion whatever it does not hold by arms. Next, and not lingering behind, sprang forward the guardian of the eastern leaders, and, capturing the - originator of the infamous doctrine, con- - strained him with, kindly enactment to repudiate his own false teaching, unless he preferred to be separated from the body of Christ, and to be cut off from the congregation of saints,” (Carmen de Ingratis, Part 1 [A.D. 429]).


“. . . We do not have to fight against your party afresh, nor have we to begin battles against an unknown foe; the war engines of your party were smashed and fell clattering among those who were sharers, yes, and leaders of their insolence, at the time when Innocent of blessed memory struck the heads of deadly error with the apostolic sword; when the synod of the bishops of Palestine constrained Pelagius to come out with his views, to his own undoing and that of his followers ; when Pope Zosimus of blessed memory added the strength or his official support to the decrees of the African councils, and armed the right hands of all prelates with the sword of Peter for the striking down of the ungodly; when Pope Boniface of saintly memory rejoiced at the catholic devotion of the most pious emperors, and made use not only of apostolic but also of imperial edicts against the enemies of God's grace; and when he also, very learned as he was, invoked nevertheless the replies of the blessed Bishop Augustine against the books of the Pelagians.


“ Moreover the pontiff Celestine of venerable memory (to whom the Lord bestowed many gifts of his grace for the protection of the Catholic Church) knew that to those who have been condemned there should be offered, not an investigation of the judgement, but only the remedy of penitence. Therefore he ordered Celestius (who demanded a hearing as if the matter had not been discussed) to be exiled from the bounds of all Italy. In this way he determined that neither the rulings of his predecessors, nor the decrees of the synods, should be revocable, so that what once had deserved to be eradicated, should never be allowed a further consideration. And with no less active care he freed the Britains from this same disease, for he shut off from that retreat of the ocean certain enemies of God's grace who were occupying the soil of their birth. And whilst he made the Roman island catholic, he made also the barbarous island Christian, by ordaining a bishop for the Scots. Through this man, too, the eastern churches were purged of the twin plagues, when help was given by the apostolic sword to that most glorious defender of the catholic faith, Cyril, prelate of the city of Alexandria, for the suppression of the Nestorian impiety. In this way even the Pelagians, who were confederate in their known errors, were again laid low. . . .


“ . . . That the snares of the heretics be not perpetuated, we trust that by the protection of the Lord it will come to pass that what he worked in Innocent, Zosimus, Boniface, and Celestine, he will also work in Sixtus, and that in the guardianship of the Lord's flock, there is reserved to this shepherd the special glory of expelling hidden wolves, as they did the open ones.” (Liber contra Collatorem [A.D. 432]).


Pope St. Sixtus III


“Let us at God's bidding rejoice in a good and pleasant thing, for once again we begin as "brethren to dwell together in unity". We wish your holiness to proclaim what you write. From the outcome of this affair you have learnt I what it means to be in agreement with us. he blessed apostle Peter, in his successors, has handed down what he received. Who would be willing to separate himself from the doctrine of him whom the Master himself instructed first among the apostles? It was not hearsay or selected speech which taught him; he was trained with the others by the mouth of the teacher. He had I not to search among writings and writers; he received the I original and direct faith which can admit of no dispute, on which we must always meditate, and in which we must abide, so that following the apostles with a pure affection, we may be counted apostolical.” (Epistle 6 [Si ecclesiastici], to John, Bishop of Antioch).

The new-fangled Pelagian heretics have been most justly condemned by the authority of catholic councils and of the Apostolic See


“We acknowledge one baptism, which we assert ought to be celebrated in the same form of words for infants as for adults. If a man lapses after baptism, we believe he can be saved by penitence. We confess free will, but we say [men] always need God's help, and we condemn those who say with the Manichaeans that man cannot avoid sin, as well as those who assertwith Jovinian that man cannot sin.”


“This is the faith, most blessed Pope, which we have learned in the Catholic Church, which we have ever held and hold. If we have by chance set down aught in it unskilfully or without due caution, we desire to be corrected by you, who hold both the faith and the see of Peter. If, however, this our confession is approved by the judgement of your apostolate, then whoever desires to blacken me will not prove that I am a heretic, but that he himself is unskilful or evil-minded or not a catholic.” (Libellus Fidei [A.D. 417]).


The Council of Milevis (Also known as the Council of Mileve, or the Council of Carthage)

“In insinuating these things to your Apostolic breast we have no need to say much, and heap up words about this impiety, since doubtless they will move you in such wise that you will be altogether unable to refrain from correcting them, that they may creep no further….The authors of this most pernicious heresy are said to be Pelagius and Celestius, whom, indeed, we should prefer to be cured with the Church, rather than that they should be cut off from the Church, if no necessity compels this. One of them, Celestius, is even said to have arrived at the priesthood in Asia. Your Holiness is better informed by the Council of Carthage as to what was done against him a few years back. Pelagius, as the letters of some of our brethren say, is in Jerusalem, and is said to have deceived many there. Many more, however, who have been able to examine his views more closely, are fighting him on behalf of the Catholic Faith, but especially your holy son, our brother and fellow-priest, Jerome. But we consider that with the help of the mercy of our God, whom we pray to direct your counsels and to hear your prayers, those who hold such perverse and baneful opinions will more easily yield to the authority of your Holiness, which has been taken from the authority of the Holy Scriptures (auctoritati sanctitatis tuae, de sanctarum scripturarum auctoritate depromptae facilius….esse cessuros), so that we may be rather rejoiced by their correction than saddened by their destruction. But whatever they themselves may choose, your Reverence perceives that at least those many must be cared for whom they may entangle in their nets if they should not submit straightforwardly. We write this to your Holiness from the Council of Numidia, imitating our fellow bishops of the Church and province of Carthage, whom we understand to have written of this affair to the Apostolic See which your Blessedness adorns.” (In the North African Council [Numidia], which included St. Augustine, and dealt with Pelagianism, 61 Bishops wrote this letter to Pope Innocent, Patrologia Latina 33.763 [A.D. June, 416]).

“Of the rest of the accusations against him doubtless your beatitude will judge in the same way as the acts of the two Councils. Doubtless your kindness of heart will pardon us for having sent to your Holiness a longer letter than you might perhaps have wished. For we do not pour back our little stream for the purpose of replenishing your great fountain (non enim riuulum nostrum tuo largo fonti augendo refundimus); but in the great temptation of these times (from which may He deliver us to whom we say, ‘and lead us not into temptation’) we wish it to be approved by you whether our stream, though small, flows from the same head of water as your abundant river, and to be consoled by your answer in the common participation of the same grace.” (Concerning Pelagius, 5 Bishops of the Council, Augustine, Aurelius, Alypius, Evodius, & Possidius, write to Pope Innocent. Patrologia 33.764, found in Ybarra’s “Church Fathers & Papal Infallibility”).

“We consider that by the help of the mercy of our Lord God, who deigns both to direct your counsel and to hear your prayers, those who hold such perverse and pernicious opinions will more easily yield to the authority of your holiness, drawn from the authority of Holy Scripture, so that we may be rather congratulated by their correction, than saddened by their ruin. But whatever they themselves may choose, your reverence perceives that at least those many who are deceived and entangled by them must be cared for immediately and quickly. We write this to your holiness from the council of Numidia, imitating our colleagues of the church and province of Carthage, who we understand have written on this matter to the apostolic see, which your blessedness adorns.” (St. Augustine, Epistle to Pope Innocent I [A.D. June 416]).

“We decree that the sentence against Pelagius and Celestius, issued by the venerable bishop Innocent, from the see of the most blessed apostle Peter, shall stand, until they shall openly and explicitly confess that the grace of God by Jesus Christ our Lord helps us not only to know, but to do what is right, in every single act ; so that, without it, we could not have, think, say, or do anything that pertains to true and holy religion.” (In Prosper, Contra Collatorern, To Pope Zosimus).

“We had come according to custom to the church of Carthage, and a synod was held for various affairs, when our fellow presbyter, Orosius, gave us letters from our holy brothers and fellow priests, Heros and Lazarus, which we enclose. These having been read, we perceived that Pelagius and Celestius were accused of being authors of a wicked error, which must be anathematized by all of us. And so we asked that all that had been done with regard to Celestius here in Carthage about five years ago should be gone through. This having been read, as your holiness can perceive from the acts which we append, although the decision was clear by which so great a wound was shown to have been cut away from the Church by an episcopal judgement, yet we thought good, by a common deliberation, that the authors of this persuasion (although it was said that this Celestius had arrived since then at the priesthood), unless they openly anathematized these things, should themselves be anathematized in order that, if their own salvation cannot, at least that of those who have been or may be deceived by them may be procured, when they know the sentence against them. This act, lord brother, we thought right to intimate to your holy charity, in order that to the statutes of our mediocrity might be added the authority of the apostolic see to protect the safety of many, and to correct theperuersity of some.” (To Pope Innocent, preserved in Augsutine’s 175th Epistle [A.D. 416]).

“Whoever, having been excommunicated in Africa, creeps into communion overseas, shall be cast out of the clergy. The matter was brought to a head by the case of Apiarius, which I lasted into the time of three Popes. Apiarius was an African priest who for some offence was excommunicated by Urban, bishop of Sicca, and thereupon went to Rome, where he appealed to Pope Zosimus, at the same time accusing Urban of gross evil. This took place before , and according to Hefele one of the canons I of the council on that date was passed probably as a protest against the action of Apiarius.” (Canon 2, African Code 105) [A.D. 407]).

“For this end, we beg your reverence to be pleased to write in person to the pontiffs of those parts, namely of Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople, and to any others also if it shall please your holiness, that thence there may come to us the same canons decreed by the fathers at the city of Nicaea, and thus you will confer, by the help of the Lord, a great benefit upon all the churches of the West. For who can doubt that the copies of the Nicene council gathered in the Greek empire are most accurate, which though collected from so diverse and such noble Greek churches are found to agree when compared? Until this is done, the rules laid down in the aforesaid commonitory, about the appeals of bishops to the Apiarius and Antony, and about the conclusion of the cases of clerics by the bishops of their own provinces, we undertake to observe until the proof arrives, and we trust, God willing, that your blessedness will help us in this.” (To Pope Boniface, Quoniam Domino placuit [A.D. 419]).

Celestius

“If indeed any questions have arisen beyond the faith, on which there might be much dissension, I have not passed judgement as the originator of any dogma, as if I had definite authority for this ; but whatever I have derived from the fountain of the apostles and prophets, I have offered for approval to the iudgement of your apostolate; so that if by chance any error of ignorance has crept in, human as we are, it may be corrected by your sentence.” (Writing to the Pope, Libellus. Preserved in Augustine’s De Pecc.)

Pope St. Innocent I

“In seeking the things of God . . . you have acknowledged that judgment is to be referred to us [the pope], and have shown that you know that is owed to the Apostolic See [Rome], if all of us placed in this position are to desire to follow the apostle himself [Peter] from whom the episcopate itself and the total authority of this name have emerged.” (Letters 29:1 [A.D. 408]).

“God keep this from the Catholic discipline of the Roman Church... Care shall certainly not be lacking, on my part, to guard the faith of the Gospel among my people, and as far as I can, to communicate by letter with the parts of my body throughout the various regions of the earth, lest any profane interpretation begin to creep in.”

“In making inquiry with respect to those things that should be treated with all solicitude by bishops, and especially by a true and just and Catholic Council, by preserving, as you have done, the example of ancient tradition, and by being mindful of ecclesiastical discipline, you have truly strengthened the vigor of our Faith, no less now in consulting us than before in passing sentence. For you decided that it was proper to refer to our judgement, knowing what is due to the Apostolic See, since all we who are set in this place, desire to follow the Apostle (Peter) from whom the very episcopate and whole authority of this name is derived. Following in his steps, we know how to condemn the evil and to approve the good. So also, you have by your sacerdotal office preserved the customs of the Fathers, and have not spurned that which they decreed by a divine and not human sentence, that whatsoever is done, even though it be in distant provinces, should not be ended without being brought to the knowledge of this See, that by its authority the whole just pronouncement should be strengthened, and that from it all other Churches (like waters flowing from their natal source and flowing through the different regions of the world, the pure streams of one incorrupt head), should receive what they ought to enjoin, whom they ought to wash, and whom that water, worthy of pure bodies, should avoid as defiled with uncleansable filth. I congratulate you, therefore, dearest brethren, that you have directed letters to us by our brother and fellow-bishop Julius, and that, while caring for the Churches which you rule, you also show your solicitude for the well-being of all, and that you ask for a decree that shall profit all the Churches of the world at once; so that the Church being established in her rules and confirmed by this decree of just pronouncement against such errors, may be unable to fear those men, etc.” (Epistle 29, to the Council of Carthage, also called the Council of Milevis [A.D. 417]).

“We know how to condemn evils just as well as we know how to approve what is laudable", and that other churches however remote did not regard any matter as final until it was reviewed and confirmed "by the total authority of this [Church].” (Epistle 29, to the Council of Carthage).

“If cases of greater importance are to be heard [at a council], they are, as the synod decrees and as happy custom requires, after episcopal judgment, to be referred to the Apostolic See…

“In seeking the things of God . . . following the examples of ancient tradition . . . you have strengthened . . . the vigor of your religion with true reason, for you have acknowledged that judgment is to be referred to us, and have shown that you know what is owed to the Apostolic See, if all of us placed in this position are to desire to follow the apostle himself [Peter] from whom the episcopate itself and the total authority of this name have emerged. Following him, we know how to condemn evils just as well as we know how to approve what is laudable. Or rather, guarding with your priestly office what the Fathers instituted, you did not regard what they had decided, not by human but by divine judgments, as something to be trampled on. They did not regard anything as finished, even though it was the concern of distant and remote provinces, until it had come to the notice of this See [Rome], so that what was a just pronouncement might be confirmed by the authority of this See, and thence other churches—just as all waters proceed from their own natal source and, through the various regions of the whole world, remain pure liquids of an incorrupted head, might take up what they ought to teach, whom they ought to wash, whom the water worthy of clean bodies would shun as being soiled with a filth incapable of being cleansed.” . . . .” (ibid., 29:1). (Letters 2 [A.D. 408]).

“Who does not know or observe that it [the church order] was delivered by Peter the chief of the apostles to the Roman church, and is kept until now, and oughtto be retained by all, and that nothing ought to be imposed or introduced which has no authority, or seems to derive its precedents elsewhere?- especially since it is clear that in all Italy, the Gauls, Spain, Africa, Sicily and the adiacent islands, no one formed these churches except those whom the venerable apostle Peter or his successors made priests. Or let them discover that any other apostle be found to have been or to have taught in these provinces. If not, they ought to follow that which the Roman church keeps, from which they undoubtedly received them first; but while they are keen on foreign statements, they seem to neglect the head of their institution.” (Epistle 25, to Decentius, bishop of Eugubium, Si instituta).

“In inquiring about those things which should be handled with all care by priests, and especially by a true, just, and catholic council, by preserving, as you have done, the example of ancient tradition, and by being mindful of the discipline of the Church, you have truly strengthened the vigour of our religion, no less now in consulting, than before in passing sentence. For you decided that it was proper to refr to ourjudgement, knowing what is due to the apostolic see, since all we who are set in this place desire to follow the very apostle from whom the very episcopate and whole authority of this name has emerged; Mowing whom, we know how to condemn the evil and to approve the good. So also, you have by your priestly office preserved the institutions of the fathers, and have not spurned that which they decreed by a sentence not human but divine, that whatever is done, euen though it be in distant prouinces, should not be ended until it comes to the knowledge of this see, that by its authority the whole just pronouncement should be strengthened, and that from there the other churches (like waters proceeding Srom their natal sources and flowing through the different regions of the world, the pure streams of an uncorrupt head) should take up what they ought to enjoin, whom they ought to wash, and whom that water, worthy of pure bodies, should avoid as defiled with uncleansable filth. I congratulate you, therefore, dearest brothers, that you have directed a letter to us by our brother and fellow bishop Julius, and that while caring for the churches which you rule, you also show your concern for the advantage of all, and that you ask for a decision which may benejit all the churches of the world together; so that the Church, being established in her rules, and confirmed in this decree of just proclamation against such errors, may be unable to tolerate those men. (Epistle 29, to the Council of Carthage, In requirendis).

“It is therefore with due care and fitness that you consult the secrets of the apostolic office (that office, I mean, to which belongs, besides those things that are outside, the care of all the churches) as to what opinion should be held on doubtful matters, following the form of the ancient rule which, you and I know, has ever been kept in the whole world. But this I pass by, because I am sure your prudence is aware of it : for how could you by your actions have confirmed it, unless you knew that answers to questions always flow through all provinces from the apostolic spring? Especially as often as questions of faith are to be ventilated, I think all our brothers and fellow bishops ought to refer to none but Peter, that is to the author of their name and office, even as your affection has now referred [to us], a matter which may benefit all churches in common I throughout the whole world. For they must needs be more cautious when they see the inventors of these evils, on the report of two synods, cut off by the decree of our sentence I from ecclesiastical communion. Therefore your charity will do a double good; for you will obtain the grace of having observed the canons, and the whole world willshare jour benefit.' For who among catholics I 'I will choose any longer to hold conversation with Christ's enemies?

“We declare that Pelagius and Celestius, that is the inventors of new doctrines which, as the apostle said, are wont to produce no edification, but rather utterly empty questionings, should by the authority of apostolic vigour be deprived of ecclesiastical communion, until they recover from the snares of the devil, by whom they are held prisoners according to their own choice; and that meanwhile they should not be received within the Lord's fold, because, following the course of a crooked way, they have themselves chosen to desert.’ (Epistle 30, to the Council of Mileve).

Julian of Eclanum

“We have written and sent this to your holiness, as it appears to us according to the catholic rule. If you think we I ought to hold otherwise, write us a reply. But if it is impossible to contradict us, and yet some wish to stir up scandal against us, we declare to your holiness that we appeal to a plenary council. But one thing we particularly urge on your holiness, namely that you should not regard it as done as a criticism of yourself that through fear of God we dare not sign a condemnation of men in their absence, because we have learnt from the Scriptures that the human will ought not to be put before the commands of God.” (A Leader of the Pelagians, Libellus Fidei, letter to Pope Zosimus [A.D. 418]).

Pope St. Zosimus

“Although the tradition of the Fathers has assigned so great an authority to the Apostolic See, that no one may venture to call in question its judgment, and has maintained this always by its canons and rules, and though ecclesiastical discipline, as shown in the current of its laws, pays the reverence which it owes to the name of Peter, from whom likewise itself descends, for canonical antiquity, by the judgment of all, hath willed the power of this Apostle to be so great, from the very promise of Christ our God, that he can loose what is bound, and bind what is loosed; and an equal power is given to those who enjoy, with his consent, the inheritance of his see; for he has a care as well for all churches, especially for this, where he sat: nor does he permit any blast to shake a privilege or a sentence to which he has given the form and immovable foundation of his own name, and which, without danger to themselves, none may rashly attack: Peter then, being a head of such authority, and the zeal of all our ancestors having further confirmed this, so that the Roman church is established by all human as well as divine laws and discipline – whose place you are not ignorant that we rule and hold the power of his name – rather, most dear brethren, you know it, and as bishops are bound to know it; such then, I say, being our authority, that no one can question our sentence, we have done nothing which we have not of our own accord referred in our letters to your knowledge, , giving this much to our brotherhood, that by consulting together, not because we did not know what ought to be done, or might do something which might displease you as contrary to the good of the Church, but we desired to treat together with you of a man who, as you wrote, was accused before you, and who came to our see asserting his innocence, not refusing judgement from the former appeal; of his own accord calling for his accusers, and condemning the crimes of which he was falsely accused by rumour. We thought, in fact we know, that his entire petition was explained in the earlier letter which we sent you, and we believed that we had sufficiently replied to those you wrote in answer.

“But we have unfolded the whole roll of your letter which was sent by Subdeacon Marcellinus. You have understood the entire text of our letter as if we had believed Celestius in everything, and had given our assent, so to speak, to every syllable without discussing his words. Matters which need a long treatment are never rashly postponed, nor without great deliberation must anything be decided on which a final judgement has to be given. So let your brotherhood know that we have changed nothing since we wrote to you, or you wrote to us; but we have left all as it was before, when we informed your holiness of the matter in our letter, in order that the supplication you sent to us might be granted.” (Epistle 12, Quamvis Patrum traditio, to Aurelius and the African bishops at the synod of Carthage, the Council of Milevis, dealing with Pelagianism [A.D. March 21, 418].

“Great matters demand a great weight of examination, that the level of judgement be not less than the matters dealt with. In addition there is the authority of the apostolic see, to which the decrees of the fathers ordained a particular reverence in honour of S. Peter. We must therefore pray, and pray without ceasing, that by the continued grace and unceasing help of God, from this fountain the peace of the faith and of catholic brotherhood may be sent unclouded into the whole world.

“The priest Celestius came to us for examination, asking to be acquitted of those charges on which he had been wrongfully accused to the apostolic see. And although we were distracted by a great weight of ecclesiastical business, we put it all on one side, so that you would not have to wait for information, and we sat for the examination in the basilica of S. Clement, who was imbued with the learning of the blessed apostle Peter.

“We discussed all that had been done before, as you will learn from the acts attached to this letter. Celestius being admitted, we caused to be recited the pamphlet which he had handed in, and not content with this, we repeatedly inquired of him whether he spoke from his heart or with his lips the things which he had written.

“In the present case we have decided nothing hurriedly or immaturely, but we make known to your holinesses our examination upon the unfettered faith of Celestim. The earlier libellus, written by him in Africa, ought to be evidence in his favour against those who boast on unexamined rumours. Wherefore within two months either let those come forward who can show that he now belieues otherwise than the contents of his pamphlets and confession, or let your holinesses recognize nothing of doubt to be remaining in that which he henceforward openly and manifestly professes. I have therefore admonished Celestius himself, and other priests present at the time from various places, that these little snares of questions and silly contests, which do not build, but destroy, spring from that contagious curiosity which there is when each man abuses his naturaI capacity.” (Epistle 2, to Aurelius and the African Bishops, Magnum Pondus).

Pope St. Boniface I

“…there is to be no review of our judgment. In fact, it has never been licit to deliberate again on that which has once been decided by the Apostolic See.” [Pope Saint Boniface I, Letter to the Bishop of Thessalonica, Rufus, Denzinger [A.D. 422]]

“No one has ever boldly raised his hands against the Apostolic Eminence, from whose judgment it is not permissible to dissent; no one has rebelled against this, who did not wish judgment to be passed upon him.” (Pope Boniface I, Letter “Manet Beatum” to Rufus and the Other Bishops in Macedonia; Denzinger n. 235 [A.D. March 11, 422]).

"...It is clear that this Roman Church is to all churches throughout the world as the head is to the members, and that whoever separates himself from it becomes an exile from the Christian religion, since he ceases to belong to its fellowship." (Epistle 14).

“As you yourself have indicated in your letters, the blessed apostle Peter looks upon you with his eyes, considering how you carry out the office of the supreme ruler. Nor can he be very far from you, who has been established as the perpetual pastor of the sheep of the Lord, or fail to care for a church no matter where it be located, he in whom we read that the foundation of the Universal Church has been place…

“The blessed apostle Peter, to whom the citadel of the priesthood was entrusted by the voice of the Lord, is lifted with immense satisfaction whenever he sees that the honor granted him by the Lord is guarded by men of unblemished peace. What greater joy could he have, than to see that the rights pertaining to the authority he has received are preserved in their integrity? For any consultation sent by various parties, on whatever matter, that seeks the arcanum of that See which has evidently been established on a spiritual rock, truly requires an immovable foundation.” (Pope Boniface writing to Rufus of Thessalonica).

“The institution of the universal Church at its birth took its beginning from the office of Blessed Peter, in whose person its government and summit consists. For from his fountain the stream of ecclesiastical discipline flowed forth into all the Churches, as the culture of religion progressively advanced. The precepts of the Council of Nicea bear witness to nothing else: so that it did not dare to appoint anything over him, seeing that nothing could possibly be conferred above his office: moreover, it knew that everything had been granted to him by the word of the Lord. Certain, therefore, is it that this [Roman] Church is to the Churches spread throughout the world, as it were, the head of its own members, from which whoever cuts himself off is expelled from the Christian religion, inasmuch as he has ceased to be within the one structure.” (Epistle 14, to the bishops of Thessaly [Greece]).

“The care of the universal Church, laid upon him, attends to the blessed Apostle Peter, by the Lord’s decree; which indeed, by the witness of the gospel, he knows to be founded on himself; nor can his honor ever be free from anxieties, since it is certain that the supreme authority (summam rerum) depends on his deliberation. Which things carry my mind even to the regions of the East, which by the force of our solicitude we in a manner behold…As the occasion needs it, we must prove by instances that the greatest Eastern churches, in important matters, which required greater discussion, have always consulted the Roman see, and, as often as need arose, asked its help.”

“The watchful care over the universal Church confided to Peter abides with him by reason of the Lords statement; for he knows on the testimony of the Gospel [<att. 16:18] that the Church was founded on him. His office can never be free from cares, since it is certain that all things depend on his deliberation. These considerations turn your mind to the regions of the Orient, which we behold in a way with genuine solicitude. Far be it from the priests of the Lord, that anyone of them fall into the offense of making the decrease of our elders foreign to him, by attempting something in the way of a novel and unlawful usurpation, realizing that he thus makes him a rival, in whom our Christ has placed the highest power of the priesthood, and whoever rises to reproach him cannot be an inhabitant of the heavenly regions. “To you,” He said, “I shall give the keys of the kingdom of heaven” [Matt. 16:19] into which no one shall enter without the favor of the door-keeper. He said: “Thou art PEter, and upon this rock I shall build my church” [Matt. 11:29]. Whoever, therefore, desires before God to be judged worthy of the dignity of the priesthood, since one reaches God with the support of Peter, on whom, as we have said above, it is certain that the Church was founded, [should] be “meek and humble of heart” [Matt. 11:29], lest as a contumacious disciple of him, whose pride he has imitated, he undergo the punishment of the teachers.”

“Since the circumstances demand, examine if you please, the decrees of the canons; you will find what church ranks second after the church at Rome, or what is third. In these [decrees) there appears a distinct order, so that the pontiffs of the other churches recognize that they nevertheless are under one church and share the same priesthood, and to whom they, preserving charity, should be subject because of ecclesiatical discipline. Indeed this teaching of the canons have persisted from antiquity, and continues even at the present time, through the grace of Christ. No one has ever boldly raised his hands in opposition to the apostolic supremacy, from whose judgment there may be no withdrawal; no one in this has been rebellious, except him who wished judgment to be passed on himself. The above mentioned great churches preserve their authority through the canons: the churches of Alexandria and of Antioch [cf. n. 163, 436], having the knowledge of ecclesiastical law. They preserve, I say, the statues of our elders in all things rendering and receiving an interchange of that grace which they know that they owe to us in the Lord who is our peace. But since the situation demands it, it must be shown by documents that the greatest churches of the Orient in important affairs, in which there was need of greater inquiry, have always consulted the See of Rome, and, as often as experience demanded, asked for its help. Athanasius of holy memory and Peter, priests of the church of Alexandria, sought the aid of this See. When the Curch of Antioch was afflicted during a very long period, with the result that conferences because of this were often held, it is clear that the Apostolic See was consulted, first under Meletius and later under Flavianus. According to its authority, after the many things which were accomplished by our church, no one doubts that Flavianus received the grace of communion, which he would have lacked forever if his writing had not gone forth hence upon this basis. The emperor Theodosius of most holy kindly memory, thinking that the ordination of Nectarius did not possess stability, since it did not take place in our way, sending from his presence members of his court together with bishops, demanded that it be performed in this case by the Roman See, and that they direct it in the regular way, so as to strengthen the priesthood. A short time ago, that is under my predecessor of happy memory, Innocent, the Pontiffs of the Oriental, grieving that they were separated from the communion of blessed Peter, through envoys asked for peace, as your charity remembered. And at this time the Apostolic See without difficulty granted all, obeying the Master who says: “And to whom you have pardoned anything, I also. For what I have pardoned, if I have pardoned anything, for your sakes have I done it in the person of Christ. That we be not overreached by Satan. For we are not ignorant of his devices [II Cor. 2:10]”, that is who rejoices at dissension. Since then, most beloved Brethern, I think that the examples which we have given suffice to prove the truth, although more are retained in your own minds without harm to our brotherhood we wish to meet your assembly, as you see by this letter which has been directed by Us through Severus, a notary of the Apostolic See, most acceptable to Our heart, chosen from Our Circle. Thus in agreement, as befits brothers, let not anyone wishing to endure in our communion bring up again for discussion the name of our brother and fellow priest, Bishop Perigenas [of Corinth], who sacerdotal office the Apostle Peter has already confirmed at the suggestion of the Holy Spirit, leaving no question about this for future, and let there be no objection to this, since he was appointed by us during the space of that time in which the office was vacant…” (St. Pope Boniface I, from the letter, Manet beatum, to Rufus and the other Bishops through out Macedonia [March 11, 422]).

“We in particular are under obligation to be responsible for all, to whom Christ assigned the duty of universal stewardship in the holy Apostle Peter, when He gave him the keys of opening and closing, and discriminated among His apostles, not so one should be inferior to another but that He should be the first. Law should govern us, not we the law; if we are to uphold canonical principles, let us be obedient to the canons ourselves” (Epistle 3, Regesta Pontificum Romanorum, 29).

“the Roman Church is with certainty for all the Churches of the whole world as the head of its members …[by] the title of honor of the blessed Peter, in which consists his government and coronation." (To the Bishops of Thessaly).

“To the synod which is said to be due to meet illegally at Corinth about the case of our brother and fellow bishop, Apiarius and Antony Perigenes, whose state, we wrote, can in no way whatever be disturbed, we have dispatched such a writing, that the brethren one and all may understand, first that they ought not to have met in council without your knowledge ; secondly that there is to be no revision of our decision. For it has neuer been lawful to reconsider what has once been settled by the apostolic see. In this document, as was fitting, we upheld the deference due to your holiness, as your grace will learn on reading it.” (Epistle 13, Retro majoribu, to Rufus, Bishop of Thessalonica).

“The universal ordering of the Church at its birth took its origin from the office of blessed Peter, in which is found both its directing power and its supreme authority. From him as from a source, at the time when our religion was in the stage of growth, all churches received their common order. This much is shown by the injunctions of the council of Nicaea, since it did not venture to make a decree in his regard, recognizing that nothing could be added to his dignity : in fact it knew that all had been assigned to him by the word of the Lord. So it is clear that this church is to all churches throughout the world as the head is to the members, and that whoever separates himselffrom it becomes an exile from the Christian religion, since he ceases to belong to its fellowship.” (Epistle 14, Institutio uniuersalis, to the Bishops of Thessaly).

“Since the occasion demands it, if you will please examine Canon Law,' you will find what is the second see after the Roman church and what is the third. This group [of sees] has been canonically set apart, so that the bishops of other churches, though sharing one and the same episcopal status, may realize that there are those to whom they ought to be obedient in a bond of love for the sake of ecclesiastical discipline. . . . None has ever been so rash as to oppose the apostolic primacy, thejudgement of which may not be revised; none rebels against it, unless he would be judged in his turn.” (Epistle 15, Manet beatum, to Rufus and the other Bishops of Macedonia).


Marius Mercator


"(The tractoria) was sent to Constantinople and throughout the world, and was strengthened (roborata) by the subscriptions of the Holy Fathers. Julian and his accomplices refusing to sign it, and to consent (consentaneos se facere) to those Fathers, were deposed not only by imperial laws, but also by ecclesiastical decrees, and banished from all Italy. Many of them came to their senses, and being corrected of their errors, returned as supplicants to the Apostolic See, and being accepted, received back their sees." (Commonit vi,10 and ib PL 48 p. 107 [early to mid 5th century]).


St. Possidius

“Augustine strove for nearly ten years, writing and publishing books, and frequently speaking about the Pelagian errors. And since these heretics were trying to bring the Apostolic See round to their view, African councils of holy bishops also did their best to persuade the holy Pope of the city (first the venerable Innocent, and afterwards his successor, Zosimus) that this heresy was to be abhorred and condemned by catholic faith. And these bishops of so great a See successively branded them, and cut them off from the members of the Church, giving letters to the African churches in the West, and to the churches of the East, and declared that they were to be anathematized and avoided by all catholics. The judgement pronounced upon them by the Catholic Church of God was heard and followed also by the most pious emperor Honorius, who condemned them by his laws, and ordered them to be treated as heretics. Wherefore many of them have returned to the bosom of holy Mother Church, whence they had wandered, and are yet returning, as the truth of the right faith becomes known against this detestable error.” (Vita Augustini, On Augustine and The Council of Milevis [A.D. 437]).



List of Popes

  1. St. Peter (32-67)

  2. St. Linus (67-76)

  3. St. Evaristus (97-105)

  4. St. Alexander I (105-115)

  5. St. Sixtus I (115-125) Also called Xystus I

  6. St. Telesphorus (125-136)

  7. St. Hyginus (136-140)

  8. St. Pius I (140-155)

  9. St. Anicetus (155-166)

  10. St. Soter (166-175)

  11. St. Eleutherius (175-189)

  12. St. Victor I (189-199)

  13. St. Zephyrinus (199-217)

  14. St. Callistus I (217-22) Callistus and the following three popes were opposed by St. Hippolytus, antipope (217-236)

  15. St. Urban I (222-30)

  16. St. Pontian (230-35)

  17. St. Anterus (235-36)

  18. St. Fabian (236-50)

  19. St. Cornelius (251-53) Opposed by Novatian, antipope (251)

  20. St. Lucius I (253-54)

  21. St. Stephen I (254-257)

  22. St. Sixtus II (257-258)

  23. St. Dionysius (260-268)

  24. St. Felix I (269-274)

  25. St. Eutychian (275-283)

  26. St. Caius (283-296) Also called Gaius

  27. St. Marcellinus (296-304)

  28. St. Marcellus I (308-309)

  29. St. Eusebius (309 or 310)

  30. St. Miltiades (311-14)

  31. St. Julius I (337-52)

  32. Liberius (352-66) Opposed by Felix II, antipope (355-365)

  33. St. Damasus I (366-84) Opposed by Ursicinus, antipope (366-367)

  34. St. Siricius (384-99)

  35. St. Zosimus (417-18)

  36. St. Boniface I (418-22) Opposed by Eulalius, antipope (418-419)

  37. St. Hilarius (461-68)

  38. Anastasius II (496-98)

  39. St. Symmachus (498-514) Opposed by Laurentius, antipope (498-501)

  40. St. Hormisdas (514-23)

  41. St. John I (523-26)

  42. Boniface II (530-32) Opposed by Dioscorus, antipope (530)

  43. John II (533-35)

  44. St. Agapetus I (535-36) Also called Agapitus I

  45. St. Silverius (536-37)

  46. Vigilius (537-55)

  47. Pelagius I (556-61)

  48. John III (561-74)

  49. Benedict I (575-79)

  50. Pelagius II (579-90)

  51. Sabinian (604-606)

  52. Boniface V (619-25)

  53. Honorius I (625-38)

  54. Severinus (640)

  55. John IV (640-42)

  56. Theodore I (642-49)

  57. St. Martin I (649-55)

  58. St. Eugene I (655-57)

  59. St. Vitalian (657-72)

  60. Donus (676-78)

  61. St. Agatho (678-81)

  62. St. Leo II (682-83)

  63. John V (685-86)

  64. Conon (686-87)

  65. St. Sergius I (687-701) Opposed by Theodore and Paschal, antipopes (687)

  66. John VI (701-05)

  67. John VII (705-07)

  68. Sisinnius (708)

  69. Constantine (708-15)

  70. St. Zachary (741-52) Stephen II followed Zachary, but because he died before being consecrated, modern lists omit him

  71. St. Paul I (757-67)

  72. Stephen III (IV) (767-72) Opposed by Constantine II (767) and Philip (768), antipopes (767)

  73. Adrian I (772-95)

  74. St. Leo III (795-816)

  75. St. Paschal I (817-24)

  76. Eugene II (824-27)

  77. Valentine (827)

  78. Gregory IV (827-44)

  79. Sergius II (844-47) Opposed by John, antipope

  80. St. Leo IV (847-55)

  81. Benedict III (855-58) Opposed by Anastasius, antipope (855)

  82. Adrian II (867-72)

  83. John VIII (872-82)

  84. Marinus I (882-84)

  85. St. Adrian III (884-85)

  86. Stephen V (VI) (885-91)

  87. Formosus (891-96)

  88. Romanus (897)

  89. John IX (898-900)

  90. Benedict IV (900-03)

  91. Leo V (903) Opposed by Christopher, antipope (903-904)

  92. Sergius III (904-11)

  93. Anastasius III (911-13)

  94. Lando (913-14)

  95. John X (914-28)

  96. Leo VI (928)

  97. Stephen VIII (929-31)

  98. John XI (931-35)

  99. Leo VII (936-39)

  100. Stephen IX (939-42)

  101. Marinus II (942-46)

  102. Agapetus II (946-55)

  103. John XII (955-63)

  104. Leo VIII (963-64)

  105. Benedict V (964)

  106. John XIII (965-72)

  107. Benedict VI (973-74)

  108. Benedict VII (974-83) Benedict and John XIV were opposed by Boniface VII, antipope (974; 984-985)

  109. John XIV (983-84)

  110. John XV (985-96)

  111. Gregory V (996-99) Opposed by John XVI, antipope (997-998)

  112. Sylvester II (999-1003)

  113. John XVII (1003)

  114. John XVIII (1003-09)

  115. Sergius IV (1009-12)

  116. Benedict VIII (1012-24) Opposed by Gregory, antipope (1012)

  117. John XIX (1024-32)

  118. Benedict IX (1032-45) He appears on this list three separate times, because he was twice deposed and restored

  119. Sylvester III (1045) Considered by some to be an antipope

  120. Benedict IX (1045)

  121. Gregory VI (1045-46)

  122. Clement II (1046-47)

  123. Benedict IX (1047-48)

  124. Damasus II (1048)

  125. St. Leo IX (1049-54)


Solemn Declarations by the Church

“We teach and declare that, according to the gospel evidence, a primacy of jurisdiction over the whole church of God was immediately and directly promised to the blessed apostle Peter and conferred on him by Christ the lord.” (Infallible declaration of the First Vatican Council [1869–1870 AD]).

“Wherefore we teach and declare that, by divine ordinance, the Roman church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other church, and that this jurisdictional power of the Roman pontiff is both episcopal and immediate. Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the church throughout the world.” -(Infallible declaration of the First Vatican Council [1869–1870 AD]).



Part 1: in the Ante-Nicene Church (A.D. 00-300)

Part 2: from Nicaea to Constantinople I (A.D. 300-400)

Part 3: from St. Augustine to the Council of Milevis (A.D. 400-420)

Part 4: from Ephesus to Chalcedon (A.D. 420-500)

Part 5: Rome During the Years of the Rising East (A.D. 501-700)

Part 6: The Schism of the Universal Church (A.D. 700-1053)


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