By Bro. Peter Dimond
THIS WAS AN E-MAIL SENT TO A PERSON WHO LEFT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH TO EMBRACE EASTERN “ORTHODOXY.” THIS E-MAIL QUICKLY EXPLAINS WHY THE EASTERN ORTHODOX POSITION, WHICH IS SCHISMATIC AND HERETICAL ACCORDING TO CATHOLIC TEACHING, IS COMPLETELY ILLOGICAL AND FALSE. THE EASTERN ORTHODOX REJECT THE LAST 13 COUNCILS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH; THEY ALLOW DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE, ETC. MUCH MORE CAN BE SAID AND WILL BE SAID WHEN TIME PERMITS. THIS IS A JUST A QUICK INTRODUCTION WHICH PEOPLE MIGHT FIND HELPFUL. IT COMES FROM AN E-MAIL THAT WAS SENT IN RESPONSE TO A PERSON WHO WAS LEAVING THE CHURCH.
Jesus Christ gave the keys to the Kingdom to St. Peter (Mt. 16), and gave him jurisdiction over his flock (John 21:15-17). St. Peter was the Bishop of Rome, and his followers (i.e., the members of the Church in Rome) elected his successor, or he appointed his own successor as the Bishop of Rome and head of the universal Church. This process continued through the ages, with the pope being able to change the process of election (such as by instituting a college of cardinals) if he so decided, since the pope has supreme authority in the Church from Christ (Mt. 16). All individuals not elected in this fashion (e.g., one who was elected after the Bishop of Rome had already been chosen in the tradition thus described, or one who was appointed by an outside source, such as an emperor, after the pope had already been chosen, or one who was elected as a non-member of the community, such as a manifest heretic) wouldn’t be true popes, but (logically) antipopes. This logical framework holds true for all of history, and has allowed one to see which are the true popes and which are not – even if at some of the most difficult periods of Church history, such as the Great Western Schism, ascertaining the facts to correctly apply these principles was difficult enough that some mistakes were made by certain individuals.
I have thus described the consistent, logical framework of the succession of the authority given to St. Peter by Jesus Christ to the popes down through the ages. This shows that the Catholic Faith is consistent. (The authority given to St. Peter and his successors is the backing of the dogmatic councils; this is the authority which anathematizes those who deny the dogmatic councils’ teaching.)
ILLOGIC AT THE HEART OF EASTERN “ORTHODOXY”
On the other hand, Eastern “Orthodoxy,” since it rejects the supreme authority of the Bishop of Rome and considers all bishops equal, cannot even put forward a framework or criteria by which one could logically distinguish those councils which it says are dogmatic and binding, from those which it says are false and heretical. As I said to you on the telephone, Ephesus II (the heretical monophysite council in 449) had almost exactly the same number of bishops as Constantinople I (150 bishops). “Eastern Orthodoxy” would say one must accept Constantinople I under pain of heresy, while one must reject Ephesus II! But if we apply the principles of Eastern “Orthodoxy,” the two councils are on the same level, both being backed by the authority of equal bishops. Unless there is a supreme bishop to make one council binding, it’s a farce to say that one council is definitely dogmatic while the other with the same number of bishops is definitely heretical! Equal vs. Equal results in a draw….
Furthermore, if Christ said He would be with His Church all days until the end of the world (Mt. 28), why did the Church suddenly stop having councils in 787? Doesn’t it strike you as a bit ridiculous that many other councils were held after 787, which the Eastern “Orthodox” arbitrarily reject as “not accepted by the Church,” even though these councils which they reject had more bishops than those which they accept? What about the Council of Florence (1438-1442), which saw reunion of the East with the Catholic Church when Patriarch Joseph of Constantinople accepted Florence, the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, and Florence’s teaching against all who would deny it? How on Earth could you logically say that Florence was not accepted “by the Church,” while other councils were? What are the criteria? I’ve asked many Eastern “Orthodox” this very question and received no answer simply because they have none. Whatever criteria they pick to use as the justification for accepting a particular council as dogmatic, and rejecting another council as non-dogmatic, can be used against them to prove that, on that very basis, they would have to accept later Roman Catholic councils.
Jay, Eastern Orthodoxy cannot logically hold any council to be dogmatic and binding, as you will see if you honestly and deeply think about it. In E. Orthodoxy there is nothing which backs the anathemas of Ephesus or another council other than the word of bishops, who are equal to other bishops who many times taught the opposite. If the “Church” spoke at Constantinople I because 150 bishops came to it and pronounced authoritatively on faith, then the “Church” spoke at many other false councils in the early Church which had similar numbers of bishops! It is inescapable, therefore, that according to the Eastern “Orthodox” position the Church of Christ has defected (i.e., officially fallen into error) many times at the various false councils. This contradicts the promises of Christ that the gates of Hell cannot prevail and that God would be with His Church always (Mt. 16). Eastern “Orthodoxy” is an illogical farce, which rejects the clear teaching of Scripture and the fathers on the Papal Primacy, and which causes those who accept it to truly wind up believing in no dogma at all. That’s why Pope Leo XIII says those who reject one dogma reject all Faith. I guess the fact that E. Orthodoxy does not – and cannot – really believe in any dogmatic councils (as shown above) is why it’s so appealing to so many: it’s provides the comfort of Protestantism, yet the appearance of ancient tradition, at the same time the feel of liturgical piety, with the illusion of hierarchical authority.
By the way, I think we agree that the post-Vatican II sect is a huge manifestation of evil at the very least, a Counter Church of the Devil. Well, the post-Vatican II sect loves Eastern Orthodoxy. That should tell you something. If E. Orthodoxy were true, the post-Vatican II antipopes would hate it. The post-Vatican II antipopes, whose mission from the Devil is to embrace all the major breaches of God’s truth in history (the pagan religions, the Islamic religion, the heretical sects and the E. Orthodox schism) reaches out to and wants to unite with E. Orthodoxy (and Protestantism) because the Devil knows that E. Orthodoxy was one of those major movements of rejection of God’s truth by which he has ensnared millions of souls.
I don’t have the time to address your other questions now; nor do I know if I want to make the time, simply because those who are not convinced by such obvious points about the illogical nature of E. Orthodoxy, as well as the clear teaching of Scripture, sadly will probably not be convinced by a thousand proofs. I would recommend that you pray the 15 decade Rosary each day – by the way, the miracle at Fatima also testifies to the Catholic Faith and she spoke there of the pope and his authority – and read the book Upon This Rock by Steve Ray (a Modernist, but nevertheless he marshals evidence from the early Church destroying E. Orthodox and Protestant lies against the Primacy).
Matthew 16:17-18-“And I say to thee: That thou are Peter: and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.”
Our Lord made St. Peter the first Pope, entrusted to him His entire flock, and gave him supreme authority in the Universal Church of Christ.
John 21:15-17-“Jesus saith to Simon Peter: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. He saith to him again: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. He saith to him a third time: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved, because he had said to him the third time: Lovest thou me? And he said to him: Lord, thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love thee. He said to him: Feed my sheep.”
There are many examples of the popes exercising this primacy in the early centuries. There is the case of the sedition at the Church of Corinth in the first century (A.D. 90-100). The Church at Corinth asked for help from the Bishop of Rome, Pope St. Clement. They requested him to intercede, even though the apostle John was still alive and closer in Ephesus. This shows the Papal Primacy from the beginning. In response Pope Clement wrote his famous epistle to the Corinthians. In this epistle from the first century, the pope clearly uses authoritative language to command them to be subject to their local pastors. Here are some quotes from his famous epistle:
“Owing, dear brethren, to the sudden and successive calamitous events which have befallen us (i.e., the persecutions of Emperor Domitian), we feel that we have been somewhat tardy in turning our attention to the points respecting which you consulted us; and especially to that shameful and detestable sedition, utterly abhorrent to the elect of God, which a few rash and self-confident persons have kindled to such a pitch of frenzy, that your venerable and illustrious name, worthy to be universally loved, has suffered grievous injury.” (First Clement, Chapter 1)
“Ye, therefore, who laid the foundation of this sedition, submit yourselves to the presbyters, and receive correction so as to repent, bending the knees of your hearts. Learn to be subject, laying aside the proud and arrogant self-confidence of your tongue.” (First Clement, Chapter 57)
“Your schism has subverted [the faith of] many, has discouraged many, has given rise to doubt in many, and has caused grief to us all. And still your sedition continueth.” (First Clement, Chapter 46)
I will also mention the case of Pope Victor, around the year 190, ordering local synods to be held all over to settle the date of Easter. There are other examples, but they are covered in many books on the primacy of St. Peter, so I will not repeat them here. I will say that one of the reasons that the primacy of jurisdiction of the popes wasn’t emphasized quite as much in the early Church as it was later on – even though it certainly existed – is because it was obviously more difficult at that time for popes to step into controversies in far off places. Due to the difficulties of travel and communication with far off places which existed prior to the invention of modern means of travel and communication, it was obviously not as easy for the Bishop of Rome to settle controversies in distant lands or dioceses. That’s why examples of this type of intervention were less frequent, even though they existed. For the same reason, the role of the local bishops and patriarchs in the early Church was especially important at that period in putting down heresies and handling controversies that arose in their localities. However, here’s a quote from St. Irenaeus (around the year 200) which expresses the authentic and original truth on this issue: that the Church of Rome had a primacy of jurisdiction (e.g., all must agree with it) from the beginning.
St. Irenaeus, Against the Heresies, A.D. 203: “But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the successions of all the Churches, we shall confound those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient Church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul, that Church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the Apostles. For with this Church, because of its superior origin, all Churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world; and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the Apostolic tradition.” (Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Liturgical Press, Vol. 1: 210.)
Regarding your statement that papal infallibility wasn’t established until the Council of Trent, that’s not correct. It was defined as a dogma at Vatican I in 1870, but the truth of it was believed since the beginning. We find the promise of the unfailing faith for St. Peter and his successors referred to by Christ in Luke 22.
Luke 22:31-32- “And the Lord said: Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have all of you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren.”
Satan desired to sift all the Apostles (plural) like wheat, but Jesus prayed for Simon Peter (singular), that his faith fail not. Jesus is saying that St. Peter and his successors (the popes of the Catholic Church) have an unfailing faith when authoritatively teaching a point of faith or morals to be held by the entire Church of Christ.
Pope Pius IX, Vatican Council I, 1870, ex cathedra: “SO, THIS GIFT OF TRUTH AND A NEVER FAILING FAITH WAS DIVINELY CONFERRED UPON PETER AND HIS SUCCESSORS IN THIS CHAIR…”
Pope Pius IX, Vatican Council I, 1870, ex cathedra: “… the See of St. Peter always remains unimpaired by any error, according to the divine promise of our Lord the Savior made to the chief of His disciples: ‘I have prayed for thee [Peter], that thy faith fail not …’”
And this truth has been held since the earliest times in the Catholic Church.
Pope St. Gelasius I, epistle 42, or Decretal de recipiendis et non recipiendis libris, 495: “Accordingly, the see of Peter the Apostle of the Church of Rome is first, having neither spot, nor wrinkle, nor anything of this kind (Eph. 5:27).”
The word “infallible” actually means “cannot fail” or “unfailing.” Therefore, the very term Papal Infallibility comes directly from Christ’s promise to St. Peter (and his successors) in Luke 22, that Peter has an unfailing Faith. And it was also believed in the early Church, as we see here. Though this truth was believed since the beginning of the Church, it was specifically defined as a dogma at the First Vatican Council in 1870.