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Historical Evidence, St. Peter, Shepherd

“Whereas divine and fatherly affection has conferred upon us the apostolic leadership4 and has ordained by divine dignity the see of the vicar of the Lords and we bear the original authentic apostolate upon which Christ founded the Church in the person of our predecessor, who received at the same time the power of loosing and binding, and the responsibility of forgiving sins, we are warned by the doctrine of salvation that while we are continually pardoning sinners we ourselves must not be perverted equally with them.

“So, inasmuch as he has appointed us, that is the bishops, to be shepherds of the spiritual shee6,that is the faithful who are placed under our care, let us see to it that no sore of vice be found among them, and let us watch carefully every day that after the heavenly medicine has been applied, their fleece may grow in beauty as they approach the radiance of the garments.

“In the gospel the Lord spoke to Peter. "Peter," he said " lovest thou me? " And Peter answered : " Yea, Lord ; thou knowest that I love thee." And he said : "Feed my sheep. Wherefore since we have received into the heart's guestchamber this bishopric, that is, the Holy Spirit through the imposition of hands, let us show no harshness to our neighbour The Lord warns us and says: ‘Grieve not the Holy Spirit that is within you’ . .

“And that blessed apostle Paul, the agent, the vicar of Christ, discharging his office in the Church, asserts and says : "Ye are the temple of God, and Christ dwelleth in you." (De Aleatoribus, usually printed with Cyprian’s works [c. A.D. 426, though it could date as early as the middle of the third century]).

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