Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Salaverri on Papal Primacy (in English)



De Ecclesia Christi
Sacrae Theologiae Summa.
2a ed. Madrid:
Biblioteca de Autores Christianos (BAC), 1952.
Vol. 1.

(Tract. III: Lib. 1, cap. 3, Art. 3:
§§ 384-91; 401-3; 409-26.)

Translated by Juliana M. Volz



Thesis 9. By perennial divine right the Roman Pontiff is the Successor of St. Peter in Primacy.

384. Relationship. It has been shown by us (th. 7) that the Primacy in the Church is eternal by divine right. In this thesis we further seek, who then is the person who obtains de facto this Primacy by divine right.

385. Notions. THE PRIMACY is the supreme monarchic authority of the whole Church, which is to last eternally, which Christ conferred upon St. Peter (cf. th. 5).

We understand that to be appointed by DIVINE RIGHT which has beginning and value “from the institution of Christ Himself” (cf. D 1825).

PERENNIAL is the authority that perpetually, even until the consummation of the world, will have endured according as it has been explained in the thesis concerning perennity (th. 7).

386. The Successor of St. Peter is understood to be the Roman Pontiff, not merely materially, but also formally, that is, the substitute of the person of St. Peter in all the authority of the office annexed to the Primacy, without any change of right. Wherefore, the condition of legitimate election and the accepting of the same having been fulfilled, the Roman Pontiff obtains by the same divine right for his own very self the same supreme authority of jurisdiction, by which Christ Himself fully appointed St. Peter [as] His Vicar on earth or [as] the supreme visible head of the universal Church (cf. CIC 109, 219).

387. THE ROMAN PONTIFF is the legitimate Bishop of the Roman diocese. In the thesis, however, it is understood not in a redundant manner (reduplicative), or qua and in so far as he is the Roman Bishop, but in a specifying manner (specificative), or as he who is the legitimate Bishop of the Roman diocese. For according to the Vatican Council, two things must be properly distinguished in this matter: 1) the law of perpetual succession in Primacy, and 2) the condition of succession in the same perennial Primacy. The law of perpetual succession is a positive ordinance, which Christ formally established, so that St. Peter might have successors in perpetuity. The condition of succession was made the bishopric of Rome, which comes to pass so that the successor in Primacy is only the Roman Bishop. Now the law of succession is perennial from divine right; the condition of succession, however, according to various opinions of Catholics, is either from divine right, or from human ecclesiastical right, or from ecclesiastical apostolic right, according to the nature of the right whereby St. Peter de facto joined the succession in Primacy with the Roman Bishopric.

388. Status quaestionis. In the thesis we abstract from the nature of right, which has been united to the succession in Primacy with the Roman Bishopric, and we defend that itself which was defined by solemn judgment in the Vatican Council (D 1825).

389. Adversaries against this thesis are innumerable.

1) All non-Catholics, both those who are called Christians and those who reject the Christian name, unanimously reject Roman Primacy.

2) Also all are opposed to this thesis whom we enumerated as adversaries in the theses concerning the Primacy of St. Peter (th. 4 and 5) and also the thesis, which immediately precedes this one, concerning the succession of Apostles.

390. 3) Those who are unwilling to admit the hierarchical nature of the Church instituted by Christ: Marsilius Patavinus (D 496-498), Wycliff (D 588, 617, 621), Hus (D 635, 653-655; cf. D 674), Luther (D 765), Jansenists (D 1319), Febronians (D 1500), Pistorians (D 1502-1503). All Protestants, and also those who say that the Church and her head are subordinate to the authority of the State, approach [this error].

4) They who refuse to acknowledge the monarchical constitution of the Church, such as the Anglicans, Protestants, Episcopalians or Presbyterians, to whom the said Old Catholics approach, or they who, unwilling to embrace the Vatican Council’s definition concerning the Primacy of Roman Pontiffs, separated themselves with Dollinger from the Roman Church, crying, “Away from Rome”.

391. 5) Opposed especially to this thesis are the Eastern Schismatics, who after the middle of the ninth century proclaimed with Photius the city Constantinople to be the second Rome; who, in the middle of the eleventh century, with Michael Cerularius, accomplished the separation from the Roman Church; and who, after Constantinople had been captured by the Turks in the year 1453, pronounced the Patriarchical See of the Russian Orthodox Church to be the third Rome; but who signified the conferring of the supreme jurisdiction of the Patriarch of the Russians in the year 1917 through the rite whereby they passed on the “Shepherd’s Staff of St. Peter”.

The doctrines and difficulties of the Easterns concerning Primacy, by which they labor to weaken the arguments of the Catholics, have been collected in the Encyclicals of the Synod of Constantinople of the year 1848, which 33 Orthodox Bishops signed, responding to the encyclical of Pius IX of the same year, In the supreme Chair of Peter the Apostle, by which the Supreme Pontiff exhorted them, so that they might hasten to return to the unity of the Catholic Church.

All propagators of Pan-Christianity or Ecumenism, such as Heiler, Aulen, Tomkins, Visser’t, Hooft, and others, who defend the full autonomy of the Churches and [who] can only aim at a certain union among these, approach [this error] now no less adversely. In a similar manner, Barth says, “The government of the Church pertains properly and exclusively to Christ the Lord; and therefore with the Papal system, to yet a greater degree than the Episcopal system, it harms the free preaching of the Word in the free congregation of the living Christ, which is the Church.” Similarly Craig says: “Christ Himself alone is the supreme leader of the Church: He [Himself] alone possesses that right of governing.”


Dogmatic value.
The thesis, therefore, is of divine and sollemnly defined faith (de fide divina sollemniter definita), especially in the Vatican Council.

400. Proof.
In the Primacy, by divine, perennial right, someone always must be the evident successor of St. Peter. Now, none could be [the successor] other than the Roman Pontiff. Therefore, in the Primacy, by divine, perennial right, the Roman Pontiff is the successor of St. Peter.

The Major
is evident: a) Someone must be [the successor] always, for the Primacy is perennial. b) He must be evident, for the Primacy is the endowed supreme power for the office of teaching, sanctifying, and ruling men existing in the common conditions of this world and united in the visible society of the Church.

The Minor
is to be proven. Only the Roman Pontiff has always claimed for himself the Primacy and is recognized by the Church as the successor of St. Peter. Therefore, no one could be the successor of St. Peter in the Primacy other than the Roman Pontiff.

401. Antecedent 1) The Roman Pontiff claims for himself Primacy: A) exercite [in deed], B) signate [in word].

A) He does so exercite every time that he exercises his own authority over other Bishops or over the universal Church, which can be proved soundly by innumerable documents of all times, according as it is recounted in the Acts of the Roman Pontiffs.

For example:
  • St. Clement of Rome (ca. 96) in reconciling the Corinthian Schism (D 41).
  • St. Stephen (ca. 257) in the question concerning re-baptism (D 46-47 with note).
  • St. Julius I (a. 341) in the epistle to the Antiochenes (D 57a).
  • St. Siricius (a. 385) in the epistle to Himerius, the Tarraconian Bishop (D 87).
  • St. Innocent I (a. 417) in the epistle to the African Bishops (D 100; cf. also R 2014).

402. B) The Roman Pontiff claims Primacy for himself signate, or by the words expressed, especially since the fifth century.

For example:

  • St. Zosimus (a. 418) to the Bishops of Africa, approving their doctrine against the heresy of the Pelagians (D 109).
  • St. Boniface I (a. 422) to Rufus and the other Bishops of Macedonia (D 5000s).
  • St. Caelestinus I (a. 431) to the Bishops going to the Council of Ephesus (R 2018).
  • St. Leo the Great (a. 446) to the Bishops of Vienna and Thessalonica (Kch 891-896).
  • St. Gelasius I (a. 495), dealing with the primacy of the Patriarchal Sees (D 163).
  • Pelagius I (a. 560) writing to a certain schismatic Bishop (D 230).
  • Hadrian I (a. 785) to the Patriarch Tarasius and to the II Nicene Council (D 298).
  • St. Nicholaus I (a. 865) to the Emperor Michael against Photius (D 332-333).
  • St. Leo IX (a. 1053) against the schismatic Michael Cerularius (D 351-353).
  • Clement VI (a. 1351) to the Consoler, the Catholicon of the Armenians (D 570 d-h).
  • Benedict XIV (a. 1743) the profession of Faith prescribed for the Orientals (D 1473).
  • Pius IX (a. 1864) against naturalism and communism (D 1698).

Far more testimony can be enumerated by which the Roman Pontiffs claim Primacy for themselves, exercite or signate. Certain things from what we cited have been collected from the Enchiridion – To them can be added Benedict XV (a. 1917) in the Code of Canon Law in which the Roman Primacy is claimed excellently (CIC 218, 219), and also Pius VII (a. 1801), who in the Apostolic Letter “Qui Christi Domini vices” deprived all the Bishops of Gaul together from all jurisdiction (Br [T] 35, 215-228).

403. Antecedent 2) The Primacy of the Roman Pontiff is recognized by the Church: A) in theory, B) in practice.

A) In theory. 1) St. Ignatius, Antiochene Martyr (ca 107) in his epistle to the Romans, greets the Roman Church, extolling her, with the most magnificent epithets, before others, by which he implicitly understands her singular preeminence (R 52). This greeting, not only in solemnity, but also in the newness of form, excels by far the other greetings, by which St. Ignatius himself praises the remaining Churches of Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Philadelphia, Smyrna.

St. Ignatius especially expresses the preeminence of the Roman Church while he says: “which rules in the place of the region of the Romans … placed over the [bond of] charity, having the law of Christ, marked with the name of the Father”.

[…] In Conclusion: Therefore, contained in those things that St. Ignatius writes is an implicit recognition of the Primacy of the Roman Bishop, for without any limit of place and person he asserts the Roman Church to hold government of the universal life of Christians.

410. 2) St. Irenaeus (ca. 180) attests the supreme authority of the Church to belong to the Roman See by reason of doctrine. Now the one Church in Christ is the supreme authority under all aspects. Therefore St. Irenaeus implicitly attests the supreme authority of the Church to belong to the Roman See in all aspects.
The Major is proved, for St. Irenaeus holds as an axiom, that the consensus of the whole Church in doctrine is efficacious as supreme authority (R 209 210). However, he asserts even further, that the consensus of the whole Church necessarily equates to the testimony of the Roman Church alone (R 210 213). Therefore St. Irenaeus attests the supreme authority of the Church to belong to the Roman See by reason of doctrine.

411. The necessity, which we assert in the minor, St. Irenaeus expresses in these words: “For it is necessary for the entire Church to convene in the Roman Church, on account of her more powerful principality” (R 210). Now, such necessity, according to the various opinions of authors, can be understood as either moral or logical. If St. Irenaeus affirms the necessity [to be] moral, then he holds that the whole Church is morally obliged to assent to the Roman Church; if, however, he affirms the necessity [to be] logical, then he holds that, from the doctrine of the Roman Church, by logical necessity, the same is inferred to be the doctrine of the whole Church, because it cannot be the case unless it is supposed that the authority of the whole Church be in accord with the authority of the Roman Church. Therefore, in the first case formally, in the other equivalently, St. Irenaeus attests the authority of the Roman See to be supreme.

412. 3) Tertullian (ca. 210) recognizes in general the singularity, eminence, and fullness of the Roman Church (R 297). He further confesses the opinion held by the Roman Bishop to be acknowledged by the whole Church (Kch 218 bis). Finally, having become a Montanist, he tried to persuade himself that the Primacy over the whole Church was a personal privilege granted by Christ to St. Peter alone (R 387).

413. 4) St. Cyprian (ca. 252), defending the unity of the Church against schismatics, said “one is the Church and one the Chair established upon Peter by the voice of the Lord”, and he calls the Roman See “the Chair of Peter and principal Church, whence the unity of priests has originated” (R 573-575 580). St. Cyprian employs a terminology similar to this in his treatise On the Unity of the Church (R 555).

Authors do not agree in accurately determining the doctrine of St. Cyprian concerning the Roman Primacy. It can be said, at least, he theoretically professed the Roman Bishop to be the origin and center of unity, on account of the succession of Peter. He does not seem to have reached full strength concerning the plenitude of the primatial power; however he always presupposes and teaches that the prerogative derived from St. Peter belongs to the Roman See, which [prerogative] cannot be attributed to any other See, and by the power of which [prerogative] Catholic unity depends on the Roman Bishop, in such a way that it cannot be obtained except through him, by him, and with him.

414. 5) Anonymus adversus aleatores (ca. 260) clearly exhibits the idea of Primacy, saying: “the divine and paternal piety of the Apostolate gained us the leadership and ordained the vicarious See of the Lord by celestial condescension and we carry the origin of authentic Apostolate, upon which Christ founded the Church, in our superior, having also accepted the power of loosing and binding” (Kch 310).

6) St. Optatus of Milevi in Africa and Prudentius in Spain (ca. 370) profess the same doctrine. St. Optatus (R 1242). Prudentius, however, writes: “Grant, O Christ, unto Thy Romans – that [theirs] may be Christian as a city – through which Thou hast granted that, to the other [cities]: the mind of sacred things be one – May all members from thence – be united to her in creed.” And elsewhere: “May one faith flourish which is founded in the original Church – which Paul kept, and which [is] the Chair of Peter.”

415. 7) St. Jerome (ca. 376), inquiring about the question of the Antiochene schism, in which St. Basil was defending parts of Meletius, but St. Athanasius was defending the rights of Paulinus, responded in a letter to Pope Damasus: “I, he said, am associated with the communion of the Chair of Peter. I know the Church to be built upon that stone. Whoever will have eaten the lamb outside of this house is profane … I did not know Vitalis, I reject Meletius, I ignore Paulinus. Whoever does not assemble with you, scatters” (R 1346). The testimonies of St. Ambrose (R 1261) and of St. Augustine (R 1507) can also be brought together.

416. B) Primacy recognized in Practice. 1) In the Ecumenical Councils:

  • In the Council of Ephesus, concerning the cause of Nestorius, under Caelestinus I (a. 431; D 112).
  • In the Council of Chalcedon, against the Monophysites under Leo I the Great (a. 451; D 143 note 3 and 149).
  • In the IV Lateran Council, in the cause of the Waldensians and Albigensians, under Innocent III (a. 1215; D 740).
  • In the II Council of Lyons, concerning the unity of the Greeks, under Gregory X (a. 1272; D 466).
  • In the Council of Florence, concerning the unity of the Orientals, under Eugenius IV (a. 1439; D 694).
  • In the V Lateran Council, concerning the renewal of the customs and disciplines in the Church, under Leo X (a. 1516; D 740).
  • In the Vatican Council, concerning the Catholic faith and concerning the Church, under Pius IX (a. 1870; D 1824-1826).

417. 2) On the occasion of controversies concerning diverse questions:
a) In the Corinthian schism (ca. 96), St. Clement the Roman imposes submission by the authority of primacy. For with John the Apostle and the disciples of St. Paul, founder of the Corinthian Church, surviving, St. Clement writes to the Apostolic Church, and not indeed [because] he was asked [to do so], but moved by his office, bitterly censoring, enjoining obedience, and demanding the same through the legates whom he sent (D 41; R 25 27 29). Now, St. Dionysius the Corinthian (ca. 170) and Clement the Alexandrine (ca. 200) attest, the letter was written by St. Clement. The Corinthian Church, however, has given obedience, to the point that the same letter was frequently read with great veneration in church, almost as if it were Sacred Scripture. Therefore, the apostolic Corinthian Church recognized in practice the authority of Primacy of the Roman Bishop.

418. b) In the controversy concerning the day of Easter (ca. 190), St. Victor, the Roman Bishop, appointed councils so that it might be celebrated by the Churches. From the acts of the Councils he knew Easter to be celebrated almost everywhere according to the Roman custom, that is, the first Sunday that occurs after the 14th day of the month Nisam, according to the tradition of the Apostles. Nevertheless he learned that only the Churches of Asia celebrate Easter two days after the 14th day of the month of Nisam, according to the tradition that they said [is] accepted by St. John the Apostle. Knowing these things, St. Victor decrees that in the whole Church Easter be celebrated according to the Roman custom, and pronounces the Churches of Asia that felt otherwise “to be alien from the unity of the Church” (Kch 97 100). Now, no one denied then this right of decreeing with primacy to St. Victor, although some, as St. Irenaeus, dissuaded him from carrying out this decree. Therefore in practice, then, the authority of Primacy of the Roman Bishop was recognized.

419. c) St. Stephen (ca. 257), the Roman Bishop, decreed with primatial authority what is to be held in the question concerning the heretics to be rebaptized. For at Carthage under Agrippinus (ca. 220), at Caesarea Cappadocia under Firmilianus (ca. 230), and at length at Carthage under S. Cyprian (ca. 255-256), five Councils of Bishops have been celebrated, of which the last three Cyprian presided. These five Councils declared the baptism of heretics invalid. Wherefore St. Cyprian demanded a definition by St. Stephen, the Roman Bishop, confirming the decisions of the councils. However, St. Stephen replies with authority: “Let nothing be innovated upon except what has been handed down” (D 46). In the same sense he wrote to Firmilianus the Bishop, and threatened him for contending with excommunication (D 47 nota; Kch 309). And at length, all followed the decision of St. Stephen, although in the beginning, on account of practical difficulties, its execution was impeded to a certain degree. Therefore the authority of Primacy of St. Stephen was recognized in practice.

420. d) In the appellation for the Roman Bishop against the opinion of the synods, Basilides, Bishop, was deposed from the See of Astroga by the synod of Spanish Bishops (ca. 256). St. Stephen, the Roman Bishop, accepts the recourse of Basilides and commands [him] to be replaced in the Bishopric from which he had been deposed. Then the Spanish Bishops ran to St. Cyprian, not to ask [his] opinion, but only so that he might be “either a comfort or a help” to them. St. Cyprian responds, the execution of the decision of St. Stephen must be deferred to until the Roman Bishop is made more fully a witness concerning the truth of the facts. Wherefore it is manifest that the authority of the Roman Pontiff to decree even against the conciliar opinion of Bishops of another province, was acknowledged.

421. e) In the Arian controversy (a. 325-381) the many signs of the Primacy of the Romans are laid open, which, if taken together with those most difficult circumstances of things and persons, supply a truly valid argument, which certainly serves as proof.

In the first ecumenical Council of Nicea
(a. 325) St. Silvester I rules through his legates, although 300 other Bishops, united to decree concerning the case of Arius, were almost all Orientals. In this Council “the Catholic Church anathemized” (D 54) the Arians, which openly signified its ecumenicity.

Each part of the contenders appealed to St. Julius I (ca. 341). The Pontiff, however, knowing the cause, absolved St. Athanasius from the accusations of the Arians, with decrees having been published in the Roman and Sardican Councils (a. 341 and 343), in which he also reserved for himself the causes that were to be decided concerning the Bishops (D 57 a-e).

422. St. Liberius, afflicted by innumerable vexations by the Emperor Constantine and by the Arians, at length after the death of the Emperor (a. 361) returned from exile, condemns authoritatively the Arian formula edited at Constantinople (a. 360) and (a. 366) absolved and received fifty-nine abjuring Bishops.

St. Damasus (a. 369) condemns the Semi-Arian Council of Rimini and promulgates the formula of faith that was to be signed by all the Eastern Bishops. The signing bishops acknowledge the authority of Primacy of St. Damasus. The Emperor Theodosius (a. 380) promulgates the Edict concerning the Catholic faith in favor of St. Damasus (Kch 828).

423. In the Second Ecumenical Council, the First Council of Constantinople (a. 381). The bishops of the East solemnly profess the formula of faith against the Arians, published in the first Nicene Council, and finish the one against the Macedonians (D 85 86). Finally with this reason, under St. Damasus the question begun by Arius was finished on the practical occasion of which the acknowledgment of the Primacy of the Roman Bishop was laid open.

424. f) In the Priscillian controversy (a. 380-447) the primatial authority of the Roman Bishop can be easily shown to be acknowledged in practice by the Spanish Bishops.

St. Damasus (a. 380) responds to the Spanish Bishops and Priscillianus who had recourse to him, that it is not licit to condemn as a criminal anyone who ahs not previously been heard in court. Each part recognized the authority of St. Damasus to decree this, although many Spanish Bishops supposed this to be unnecessary.

While Priscillianism is regaining strength, St. Siricius (a. 396) responds to the Bishops of the Council of Zaragoza, who require more efficacious remedies from him, by more carefully determining the conditions for abjurations and absolutions of the Priscillianists.

425. St. Innocent I (a. 404) rejects the Bishops’ recourse to him against the Priscillianists who were reconciled according to the form of St. Siricius, confirms the previous opinion of St. Siricius, and authoritatively condemns those who refuse to submit.

St. Leo I (a. 447), to the Bishops who had recourse to him against the Priscillianists sprouting everywhere, replies: he condemns Priscillianism by means of sixteen articles, and he commands that, with the Councils of the Bishops in Spain having been enforced, all the Bishops sign the formula sent by him. The Bishops, in obeying the commands of St. Leo, recognize the Primacy of the Roman Pontiff in practice.

426. g) In the questions on the discipline of the Tarraconian Church, St. Siricius (a. 385), as the successor of St. Peter in the Roman See, authoritatively responds to the questions from Himerius, the Tarraconian Bishop, that were proposed to St. Damasus the predecessor of St. Siricius, and he decrees and ordains with authority many things, which pertained to the reformation and discipline of the Churches of Spain (D 87-90).

From these, which precede, we are now able to conclude: the Primacy of the Roman Bishop, with occasional controversy concerning diverse questions, has been recognized in practice and openly by the Church.

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