Rorate Caeli

Tradidi quod et accepi:
First to Cephas, then to the others

"Fratres, notum vobis facio Evangelium, quod prædicavi vobis, quod et accepistis ... Tradidi enim vobis, in primis quod et accepi: quoniam Christus mortuus est pro peccatis nostris secundum Scripturas: et quia sepultus est, et quia resurrexit tertia die secundum Scripturas: et quia visus est Cephæ, et post hoc undecim..."

"Now I make known unto you, brethren, the Gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received ... For I delivered unto you first of all, which I also received: how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures and that He was seen by Cephas; and after that by the eleven..." (I Cor. xv, 1, 3-5, from the Epistle for the Mass of the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost.)

The one who holds the office of the Petrine ministry must be aware that he is a frail and weak human being - just as his own powers are frail and weak - and is constantly in need of purification and conversion.

But he can also be aware that the power to strengthen his brethren in the faith and keep them united in the confession of the Crucified and Risen Christ comes from the Lord. In St Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, we find the oldest account we have of the Resurrection. Paul faithfully received it from the witnesses. This account first speaks of Christ's death for our sins, of his burial and of his Resurrection which took place the third day, and then says: "[Christ] was seen by Cephas, then by the Twelve..." (I Cor 15: 4). Thus, the importance of the mandate conferred upon Peter to the end of time is summed up: being a witness of the Risen Christ.

The Bishop of Rome sits upon the Chair to bear witness to Christ. Thus, the Chair is the symbol of the potestas docendi, the power to teach that is an essential part of the mandate of binding and loosing which the Lord conferred on Peter, and after him, on the Twelve. In the Church, Sacred Scripture, the understanding of which increases under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and the ministry of its authentic interpretation that was conferred upon the Apostles, are indissolubly bound. Whenever Sacred Scripture is separated from the living voice of the Church, it falls prey to disputes among experts.

Of course, all they have to tell us is important and invaluable; the work of scholars is a considerable help in understanding the living process in which the Scriptures developed, hence, also in grasping their historical richness.

Yet, science alone cannot provide us with a definitive and binding interpretation; it is unable to offer us, in its interpretation, that certainty with which we can live and for which we can even die. A greater mandate is necessary for this, which cannot derive from human abilities alone. The voice of the living Church is essential for this, of the Church entrusted until the end of time to Peter and to the College of the Apostles.
Benedict XVI
Mass of possession of the Chair of the Bishop of Rome (Lateran Basilica)
May 7, 2005


  1. Anonymous4:40 PM

    The voice of the "living church" as in "living Tradition" !

  2. I realize that "living Tradition" is a controvsial topic, however, is not a Catholic one who obeys Tradition--and the Peter now with us on earth today?

  3. Mr. Ortiz: Absolutely, yes. The difficulties emerge, for example, from the extremely problematic practice of recent Popes in publishing their personal theological reflections in books which do not represent the exercise of their magisterial office.

    This prudential decision results in very challenging outcomes, such as the one where Pope Benedict/theologian Ratzinger expresses his conviction that Sacred Scripture contains errors- a position which I would happily die before affirming.

    I believe the disorientation of the Church is increased, not diminished, by such ambiguous and novel prudential decisions.

  4. Gratias6:59 PM

    Deo gratias for Pope Benedict XVI. He is restoring the Church bit by bit. His books are a magnificent teaching that will long outlast him. I recommend reading his books on Saints of the Catholic Church compiled from his Wednesdays public audiences. "The Spirit of the Liturgy" helped save the Mass. A great book on the correct response to evolution is the small book by Ratztnger called "In the Beginning: a Catholic understanding of the story of the Creation and Fall". Pulished in1986 in response to the book "Chance and Necessity" by Communist scientist Jaques Monod. In it, now Pope explains that "Only if the Redeemer is also Creator can he really be Redeemer". Catholics may accept evolution as the work of our Creator, but we cannot accept that Jesus was not consubstantial with the Creator.

    And then, what about Benedict XVII teaching that Logos = Reason = Verbum = Word?

    And Reason was made Flesh.

    Holy Father, many thanks for Summorum Pontificum and your many teachings. I pray God gives you a long life. It would be a great gift to the Catholic Church.

  5. Anonymous8:12 PM

    Rick :

    This prudential decision results in very challenging outcomes, such as the one where Pope Benedict/theologian Ratzinger expresses his conviction that Sacred Scripture contains errors...

    Have you got a precise citation for this ? Thanks. (Is it vol. 1 or 2 of 'Jesus of Nazareth' ?). Fr. A.M.

  6. In what document does B16 claim that SS can contain errors?

  7. such as the one where Pope Benedict/theologian Ratzinger expresses his conviction that Sacred Scripture contains errors

    But everyone knows that Sacred Scripture contains "errors." For example, it was an error when the Serpent said, "Thou shalt not die the death." Again, it was an error when King David committed adultery with Bathsheba and impregnated her, then had her husband Uriah killed in battle so he could marry her and cover up his sin.

    However, as Pope Benedict XVI has affirmed, Sacred Scripture is inerrant. Thus, the Bible inerrantly declares that King David committed a grievous moral error.

    As prefect of the CDF, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger had this to say:

    The first paragraph [of the Professio fidei] states: "With firm faith, I also believe everything contained in the Word of God, whether written or handed down in Tradition, which the Church, either by a solemn judgment or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, sets forth to be believed as divinely revealed." The object taught in this paragraph is constituted by all those doctrines of divine and catholic faith which the Church proposes as divinely and formally revealed and, as such, as irreformable.

    These doctrines are contained in the Word of God, written or handed down, and defined with a solemn judgment as divinely revealed truths either by the Roman Pontiff when he speaks 'ex cathedra,' or by the College of Bishops gathered in council, or infallibly proposed for belief by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.

    These doctrines require the assent of theological faith by all members of the faithful. Thus, whoever obstinately places them in doubt or denies them falls under the censure of heresy, as indicated by the respective canons of the Codes of Canon Law.


    To the truths of the first paragraph belong the articles of faith of the Creed, the various Christological dogmas and Marian dogmas; the doctrine of the institution of the sacraments by Christ and their efficacy with regard to grace; the doctrine of the real and substantial presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the sacrificial nature of the eucharistic celebration; the foundation of the Church by the will of Christ; the doctrine on the primacy and infallibility of the Roman Pontiff; the doctrine on the existence of original sin; the doctrine on the immortality of the spiritual soul and on the immediate recompense after death; the absence of error in the inspired sacred texts; the doctrine on the grave immorality of direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being.

    Pope Benedict has never expressed any conviction that Sacred Scripture contains errors, not even as a personal theological reflection. If that is his personal opinion, there is no way to know, because we can't read his mind and he's never said anything to contradict what he said in the abovequoted passage regarding the absence of error in the inspired sacred texts.

  8. This scheduled recess post had as its aim to make clear that, even in this most relevant passage on Tradition, authored by Saint Paul himself, he made sure to mention that the very account of the Resurrection, the evidentiary basis of our Faith, had Peter as its first Apostolic witness - Peter first, always. Yet, even here, accusations against our most dear reigning Pontiff appear. That is most sad.

    Back to recess, where I should have stayed.


  9. “An extension of Mark’s ochlos, with fateful consequences, is found in Matthew’s account (27:25), which speaks of ‘all the people’ and attributes to them the demand for Jesus’ crucifixion. Matthew is certainly not recounting historical fact here: How could the whole people have been present at this moment to clamor for Jesus’ death? It seems obvious that the historical reality is correctly described in John’s account and in Mark’s.”--Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth – Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection, 2011, p. 186:

  10. Nice try, Rick, but St. Matthew's reference to "all the people" is not a historical fact in the sense that every single Jewish inhabitant of the Holy Land was there present to call for Our Lord's death. Pope Benedict's point is not to deny the truth of what St. Matthew said, but to explain that it is a misinterpretation to read "all the people" in a strictly literal sense, or in the sense that all Jews everywhere and at all times are uniquely and hereditarily guilty of the death of Jesus.