Saturday, November 11, 2017

Questionable History Of Catholic Apostolic Succession

"As for Peter's alleged successors, the New Testament says nothing. From other historical sources, little is known about them through the first two centuries. Church historian Philip Schaff writes, 'The oldest links in the chain of Roman bishops are veiled in impenetrable darkness.' Consequently, it is impossible for the Roman Catholic Church to substantiate its claims of papal succession from Peter to the present Pope. 

Furthermore, through published lists of popes down through the centuries look impressive, one should be aware that a comparison of the present list with those of earlier years reveals continuing revision, the last being made in 1947 by A. Mercati. Since then no other changes have been found necessary. It is not even clear how some of the men listed have any claim at all to being Peter's successor as the Bishop of Rome, in that from 1305 to 1378 seven consecutive popes chose as their residence and seat of government not Rome, but Avignon, France! Disputes involving the lineage of the popes further obscure the picture. Roman Catholic scholars identify over 30 men as antipopes, or false claimants. Most notable among the antipopes are those involved in a 39-period called the Great Schism. In 1378 the cardinals elected Urban VI as pope. Soon after that they had announced that they had made a terrible mistake. Urban, in their opinion, was an apostate, and so they elected a new Pope, Clement VII. Urban countered by appointing a new college of cardinals. After years of dispute, further successors, and great confusion, cardinals from both sides met and elected yet another man as Pope, Alexander V. When even this did not settle the controversy, Emperor Sigismund called the Council of Constance (1418-1418) to address the problem. When the smoke finally cleared, yet another man, Martin V, was found sitting on the papal throne. Official lists of the lineage of the popes today identify Martin V as the 206th successor in the 'unbroken' lineage of the popes.

In a very real sense, it is misleading for the Roman Catholic Church even to list popes during the first five centuries of church history. Church historian Michael Walsh observes:

'Papal authority as it is now exercised, with its accompanying doctrine of papal infallibility, cannot be found in theories about the papal role expressed by early Popes and other Christians during the first 500 years of Christianity.' (An Illustrated History of the Popes)

The papacy as it is known today took centuries to develop. Its origin can be found in the emergence of the bishops in the second century and events which took place during the forth and fifth centuries. Its origin can be found in the emergence of bishops in the second century and events which took place in the political structure of the Roman Empire during the forth and fifth centuries."

James G. McCarthy, The Gospel According to Rome, p. 254-255

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