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Pope St. Boniface I

Papal Supremacy, Keys, Apostolic See, Rock of the Church, Papal Authority, Foundation of the Church, The Roman See, St. Peter

“…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).

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