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    September 30, 1897

    “How the Catholic Creed Was Made. Steps by Which the Bishops of Rome Secured Their Papal Supremacy” The Present Truth 13, 39, pp. 613-615.


    LEO, Bishop of Rome, called “the Great,” persisted in his refusal to recognise the validity of the acts of the second Council of Ephesus, and insisted that another general council should be called.PTUK September 30, 1897, page 613.1

    As it was the will of Leo alone that made, or could now make, the late council anything else than strictly regular and orthodox according to the Catholic system of discipline and doctrine, it is evident that if another general council were called, it would have to be subject to the will of Leo; and its decision upon questions of the faith would be but the expression of the will of Leo. This is precisely what Leo aimed at, and nothing less than this would satisfy him.PTUK September 30, 1897, page 613.2

    Leo had now been bishop of Rome eleven years. He was a full-blooded Roman in all that that term implies. “All that survived of Rome, of her unbounded ambition, her inflexible perseverance, her dignity in defeat, her haughtiness of language, her belief in her own eternity, and in her indefeasible title to universal dominion, her respect for traditionary and written law, and of unchangeable custom, might seem concentrated in him alone.” (Milman.)PTUK September 30, 1897, page 613.3

    Yet Leo was not the first one in whom this spirit was manifested. His aspirations were but the culmination of the arrogance of the bishopric of Rome which had been constantly growing. To trace the subtle, silent, often violent, yet always constant, growth of this spirit of supremacy and encroachment of absolute authority, is one of the most curious studies in all history. Not only was there never an opportunity lost, but opportunities were created, for the bishop of Rome to assert authority and to magnify his power. Supremacy in discipline and in jurisdiction was asserted by Victor and Stephen; but it was not until the union of Church and State that the field was fully opened to the arrogance of the bishopric of Rome. A glance at the successive bishops from the union of Church and State to the accession of Leo, will give a better understanding of the position and pretensions of Leo than could be obtained in any other way.PTUK September 30, 1897, page 613.4


    was bishop of Rome from July 2, A.D. 311, to December, 314, and therefore, as already related, was in the papal chair when the union of Church and State was formed, and took a leading part in that evil intrigue. And soon the bishopric of Rome began to receive its reward in imperial favours. Melchiades was succeeded by—PTUK September 30, 1897, page 613.5

    SYLVESTER, A.D. 314-336

    In the very year of his accession, the Council of Arles bestowed upon the bishopric of Rome the distinction and the office of notifying all the churches of the proper time to celebrate Easter. And in 325 the general Council of Nice recognized the bishop of Rome the first bishop of the empire. Under him the organisation of the Church was formed upon the model of the organization of the State. He was succeeded by—PTUK September 30, 1897, page 613.6

    MARK, A.D. 336

    whose term continued only from January till October, and was therefore so short that nothing occurred worthy of record in this connection. He was succeeded by—PTUK September 30, 1897, page 613.7

    JULIUS, 336-352

    under whom the Council of Sardica—347—made the bishop of Rome the source of appeal, upon which “single precedent” the bishopric of Rome built “a universal right.” Julius was succeeded by—PTUK September 30, 1897, page 613.8

    LIBERIUS, 352-366

    who excommunicated Athanasius and then approved his doctrine, and carried on the contest with Constantius, in which he incurred banishment for the Catholic faith; and then became Arian, then Semi-Arian, and then Catholic again. He was succeeded by—PTUK September 30, 1897, page 613.9

    DAMASUS, 366-384

    In his episcopate, Valentinian I. enacted a law making the bishop of Rome the judge of other bishops. A council in Rome, A.D. 378, enlarged his powers of judging, and petitioned the emperor Gratian to exempt the bishop of Rome from all civil jurisdiction except that of the emperor alone; to order that he be judged by none except a council, or the emperor direct; and that the imperial power should be exerted to compel obedience to the judgment of the bishop of Rome concerning other bishops. Gratian granted part of their request. and it was made to count for all. Damasus was succeeded by—PTUK September 30, 1897, page 613.10

    SIRICIUS, 384-389

    who issued the first decretal. A decretal is “an answer sent by the pope to applications to him as head of the Church, for guidance in cases involving points of doctrine or discipline.” The directions of Siricius in this decretal were to be strictly observed under penalty of excommunication. It was dated February 11, A.D. 385. He convened a council in Rome, which decreed that “no one should presume to ordain a bishop without the knowledge of the apostolic see.” (Bower.) He was succeeded by—PTUK September 30, 1897, page 613.11

    ANASTASIUS I, 389-402

    who, though very zealous to maintain all that his predecessors had asserted or claimed, added nothing in particular himself. He condemned as a heretic, Origen, who had been dead one hundred and fifty years, and who is now a Catholic saint. He was succeeded by—PTUK September 30, 1897, page 613.12

    INNOCENT I, 402-417

    Innocent was an indefatigable disciplinarian, and kept up a constant cor- respondence with all the West, as well as with the principal bishoprics of the East, establishing rules, dictating to councils, and issuing decretals upon all the affairs of the church.PTUK September 30, 1897, page 613.13

    Hitherto the dignity of the bishopric of Rome had been derived from the dignity of the city of Rome. Innocent now asserted that the superior dignity of the bishopric of Rome was derived from Peter, whom he designated the Prince of the Apostles; and that in this respect it took precedence of that of Antioch because that in Rome Peter had accomplished what he had only begun in Antioch. He demanded the absolute obedience of all churches in the West, because, as he declared, Peter was the only apostle that ever preached in the West; and that all the churches in the West had been founded by Peter, or by some successor of his. This was all false, and he knew it, but that made no difference to him; he unblushingly asserted it, and then, upon that, asserted that all ecclesiastical matters throughout the world are, by Divine right, to be referred to the apostolic see, before they are finally decided in the provinces.PTUK September 30, 1897, page 614.1

    At the invasion of Alaric and his siege of Rome, Innocent headed an embassy to the Emperor Honorius to mediate for a treaty of peace between Alaric and the emperor. “Upon the mind of Innocent appears first distinctly to have dawned the vast conception of Rome’s universal ecclesiastical supremacy, dim as yet, and shadowy, yet full and comprehensive in its outline.” (Milman.) He was succeeded by—PTUK September 30, 1897, page 614.2

    ZOSIMUS, 417-418

    who asserted with all the arrogance of Innocent, all that Innocent had claimed. He not only boasted with Innocent that to him belonged the power to judge all causes, but that the judgment “is irrevocable;” and accordingly established the use of the dictatorial expression, “For so it has pleased the apostolic see,” as sufficient authority for all things that he might choose to command. And upon this assumption, those canons of the Council of Sardica which made the bishop of Rome the source of appeal, he passed off upon the bishops of Africa as the canons of the Council of Nice, in which he was actually followed by Leo, and put tradition upon a level with the Scriptures. He was succeeded by—PTUK September 30, 1897, page 614.3

    BONIFACE I., 419-422

    who added nothing to the power or authority of the bishopric of Rome, but diligently and “conscientiously” maintained all that his predecessors had asserted, in behalf of what he called “the just rights of the see,” in which he had been placed. He was succeeded by—PTUK September 30, 1897, page 614.4

    CELESTINE I., 422-432

    who in a letter written A.D. 438, plainly declared:—PTUK September 30, 1897, page 614.5

    As I am appointed by God to watch over His church, it is incumbent upon me everywhere to root out evil practices, and introduce good ones in their room, for my pastoral vigilance is restrained by no bounds, but extends to all places where Christ is known and adored.PTUK September 30, 1897, page 614.6

    It was he who appointed the terrible Cyril his vicegerent to condemn Nestorius, and to establish the doctrine that Mary was the mother of God. He was succeeded by—PTUK September 30, 1897, page 614.7

    SIXTUS III., 432-440

    who, as others before, added nothing specially to the papal claims, yet yielded not an iota of the claims already made. He was succeeded by—PTUK September 30, 1897, page 614.8

    LEO I, “THE GREAT,” A.D. 440-461

    Such was the heritage bequeathed to Leo by his predecessors, and the arrogance of his own native disposition, with the grand opportunities which offered during his long rule, added to it a thousandfold. At the very moment of his election he was absent in Gaul on a mission as mediator to reconcile a dispute between two of the principal men of the empire. He succeeded in his mission, and was hailed as “the Angel of Peace,” and the “Deliverer of the Empire.” In a sermon, he showed what his ambition embraced. He portrayed the powers and glories of the former Rome as they were reproduced in Catholic Rome. The conquests and universal sway of heathen Rome were but the promise of the conquests and universal sway of Catholic Rome. Romulus and Remus were but the precursors of Peter and Paul. Rome of former days had by her armies conquered the earth and sea: now again, by the see of the holy blessed Peter as head of the world, Rome through her divine religion would dominate the earth. 1Milman, “History of Latin Christianity,” book ii., chap. 4, par. 2.PTUK September 30, 1897, page 614.9


    IN A.D. 445, “at the avowed instance of Leo” and at the dictation, if not in the actual writing of Leo, Valentinian III. issued a “perpetual edict” “commanding all bishops to pay an entire obedience and submission to the orders of the apostolic see;” “to observe, as law, whatever it should please the bishop of Rome to command;” “that the bishop of Rome had a right to command what he pleased;” and “whoever refused to obey the citation of the Roman pontiff should be compelled to do so by the moderator of the province” in which the recalcitrant bishop might dwell.PTUK September 30, 1897, page 614.10

    This made his authority absolute over all the West, and now he determined to extend it over the East, and so make it universal. As soon as he learned of the decision of the Council of Ephesus, he called a council in Rome, and by it rejected all that had been done by the council at Ephesus, and wrote to the emperor, Theodosius II., “entreating him in the name of the holy Trinity to declare null what had been done there,” and so let the matter remain until a general council could be held in Italy. Leo also wrote to Pulcheria, sist of Theodosius, appointing her a legate of St. Peter, and entreating her to use her influence in his favour.PTUK September 30, 1897, page 614.11

    As soon as it was learned in the East what strenuous efforts Leo was making to have another general council called, many of the bishops who had condemned Flavianus began to make overtures to the party of Leo, so that if another council should be called, they might escape condemnation. Dioscorus, of Alexandria, who had presided at the council that approved Eutches, learning this, called a synod of ten bishops in Alexandria, and solemnly excommunicated Leo, bishop of Rome, for presuming to judge anew, and annul what had already been judged and finally determined by a general council.PTUK September 30, 1897, page 614.12

    Leo finally sent four legates to the court of Theodosius, to urge upon him the necessity of another general council, but before they reached Constantinople, Theodosius was dead; and having left no heir to his throne, Pulcheria, Leo’s legate, became empress. As there was no precedent in Roman history to sanction the rule of a woman alone, she married a senator by the name of Marcian, and invested him with the imperial robes, while she retained and exercised the imperial authority. The first thing they did was to burn Chrysaphius, the minister of Theodosius, who had championed Eutyches. The new authority received Leo’s legates with great respect, and returned answer that they had nothing so much at heart as the unity of the church and the extirpation of heresies, and that therefore they would call a general council. Not long after- ward they wrote to Leo, inviting him to assist in person at the proposed council.PTUK September 30, 1897, page 614.13

    No sooner was it known that Theodosius was dead, and Pulcheria and Marcian in power, than the bishops who had indorsed and praised Eutyches, changed their opinions and condemned him and all who held with him. Anatolius, an ardent defender of Eutyches, who had succeeded Flavianus as archbishop of Constantinople, and had been ordained by Dioscorus himself,PTUK September 30, 1897, page 615.1

    assembled in great haste all the bishops, abbots, presbyters, and deacons, who were then in Constantinople, and in their presence not only received and signed the famous letter of Leo to Flavianus, concerning the incarnation, but at the same time anathematised Nestorius and Eutyches, their doctrine, and all their followers, declaring that he professed no other faith but what was held and professed by the Roman Church and by Leo. (Bower.)PTUK September 30, 1897, page 615.2

    The example of Anatolius was followed by other bishops who had favored Eutyches, and by most of those who had acted in the late council,PTUK September 30, 1897, page 615.3

    and nothing was heard but anathemas against Eutyches, whom most of those who uttered them, had but a few months before, honored as new apostle, and as the true interpreter of the doctrine of the Church and the Fathers. (Bower.)PTUK September 30, 1897, page 615.4

    By an imperial message dated May 17, A.D. 451, a general council was summoned to meet at Nice in Bithynia, the first of September. The council met there accordingly, but an invasion of the Huns from Illyricum made it necessary for Marcian to remain in the capital; and therefore the council was removed from Nice to Chalcedon. Accordingly at Chalcedon there assembled the largest council ever yet held, the number of bishops being six hundred and thirty.PTUK September 30, 1897, page 615.5

    A. T. JONES.

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