Rorate Caeli

To believe in a Church is to believe in the Pope

I say the Pope is the heir of the Ecumenical Hierarchy of the fourth century, as being, what I may call, heir by default. No one else claims or exercises its rights or its duties. Is it possible to consider the Patriarch of Moscow or of Constantinople, heir to the historical pretensions of St. Ambrose or St. Martin? Does any Anglican Bishop for the last 300 years recall to our minds the image of St. Basil? Well, then, has all that ecclesiastical power, which makes such a show in the Christian Empire, simply vanished, or, if not, where is it to be found? 

I wish Protestants would throw themselves into our minds upon this point; I am not holding an argument with them; I am only wishing them to understand where we stand and how we look at things. There is this great difference of belief between us and them: they do not believe that Christ set up a visible society, or rather kingdom, for the propagation and maintenance of His religion, for a necessary home and a refuge for His people; but we do. 

We know the kingdom is still on earth: where is it? If all that can be found of it is what can be discerned at Constantinople or Canterbury, I say, it has disappeared; and either there was a radical corruption of Christianity from the first, or Christianity came to an end, in proportion as the type of the Nicene Church faded out of the world: for all that we know of Christianity, in ancient history, as a concrete fact, is the Church of Athanasius and his fellow Bishops: it is nothing else historically but that bundle of phenomena, that combination of claims, prerogatives, and corresponding acts, some of which I have recounted above. There is no help for it then; we cannot take as much as we please, and no more, of an institution which has a monadic existence. We must either give up the belief in the Church as a divine institution altogether, or we must recognize it at this day in that communion of which the Pope is the head. With him alone and round about him are found the claims, the prerogatives, and duties which we identify with the kingdom set up by Christ. We must take things as they are; to believe in a Church, is to believe in the Pope. 

And thus this belief in the Pope and his attributes, which seems so monstrous to Protestants, is bound up with our being Catholics at all; as our Catholicism is bound up with our Christianity. There is nothing then of wanton opposition to the powers that be, no dinning of novelties in their startled ears in what is often unjustly called Ultramontane doctrine; there is no pernicious servility to the Pope in our admission of his pretensions.
Bl. John Henry Newman 
Letter to the Duke of Norfolk 


BroHenry said...


NCTradCatholic said...

Please God, may he finally live up to his office!

backtothefuture said...

Awesome stuff!!!

Cosmetic said...

The Church will find Her correction, in not only maintaining, but propagating Truth. She is Divine and finds Herself in an impossible situation, because of broken men. Inspite, the Holy Ghost will correct the course, eventually and entirely.... Our Saviour leads His institution to His safe harbor. It's a priviledged time for sincere Catholic souls to bear witness and do whats possible to help recover very real loss of what it is to be ” a city on a mountain top”.

Miles Dei said...

Why people did not believe John XXII about his preechment of the saints? Don't they believe in Pope or in Church?

Our Lady of Mount Carmel's child said...

"Veni Sancte Spiritus"

Thank you, New Catholic, for your humble docility to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit which has echoed forth the words of Bl. John Henry Newman from Heaven to encourage the Church Militant in these current clouds of confusion in the Catholic Church.

"We must either give up the belief in the Church as a divine institution altogether, or we must recognize it at this day in that communion of which the Pope is the head."

May the intercession of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, obtain for the Holy Trinity the Merciful Gifts and Graces necessary for the Sovereign Pontiff and H.E. Bishop Fellay to perceive the Will of Our Father and accomplish it - A.M.D.G.!

Time pushes on and the Author of Time mandates accord with His Holy Providence or consequences. Let us implore Mercy for these consecrated men who must render a precise accounting for the privileged responsibilities entrusted to their souls.

Benedict Carter said...

" ... there is no pernicious servility to the Pope ...".

Except on the part of "conservative Catholics" and the progressives when they want to berate the Traditionalist.

Barbara said...

"there is no pernicious servility to the Pope in our admission of his pretensions."

Yes, yes and yes again! Thank you for this excellent description of the Papacy.
Despite everything, as even the SSPX are,notwithstanding the naysayers who are everwhere anyway - loyalty and love for the Holy Father! Traditionalists will be/are the first to defend him - given the chance, without the hypocrisy of trying to defend the indefendable, in expressing their perplexity and worry about certain of his actions that are incomprehensible to them - I'm sure of it!

Prayers for Pope Benedict XVI who is presently guiding the Barque through very treacherous and murky waters. There is a lot of fog too...

TS Aquinas said...

"It in no way depends upon the caprice of the Pope, or upon his good pleasure, to make such and such a doctrine the object of a dogmatic definition. He is tied up and limited to the Divine revelation and to the truths which that revelation contains. He is tied up and limited by the creeds, already in existence, and by the preceding definitions of the Church. He is tied up and limited by the Divine law, and by the constitution of the Church . . ."
[Taken from a sermon by Cardinal Newman published in Lead Kindly Light, The Life of John Henry Newman, Michael Davies (Neumann Press, Long Prairie, 2001) p. 184.]

B. Dang said...

"And yet recently there have been those even among the devout who, because they did not find the Pope paternal enough, broke into complaint and recrimination. Pious Christians, with a filial devotion to the Pope, do not make such blunders; they accept his authority, and all that comes from him they accept as from a father who reflects the likeness of their Father in heaven."
- Rather fitting for these times. Yet this was written in 1953 (The Holy Spirit in Christian Life by Pere Gardeil) when Ven. Pius XII was gloriously reigning and all was right with the Catholic world. Nothing changes and nor should we expect anything to change until the end of time, except Christ's promise that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against His Church, whom he entrusted to the pope. The Church has seen all this before as She has seen every other trouble under the sun before. Dont' worry and agonise about the world except insofar as to live a good Christian life, love the traditional Mass and sacraments, etc. and follow the sage advice in the quote above and all will be well in the end. One thing I've learned, no matter what, one cannot frustrate God's ultimate plan.

Upon this Rock said...

Stephen, nothing in the Catholic Church today should or ever could justify Christians of the East remaining separated from Rome. The Greek Church together with the Latin Church, as can be plainly read from the Fathers, has always been eloquent, and from the earliest times, in their defense of the supreme authority of the See of Peter in Rome.

Here is one of the great Greek Fathers of the Church, St.Maximus the Confessor, in the seventh century, who in my opinion treats of the matter just as explicitly if not more, than of the Latin Fathers.

"How much more in the case of the clergy and Church of the Romans, which from of old until now, as the elder of all the Churches under the sun, presides over all? Having surely received this canonically, as well from councils and the Apostles, as from the princes of the latter, and being numbered in their company, she is subject to no writings or issues of synodical documents, on account of the eminence of her pontificate, even as in all these things all are equally subject to her according to sacerdotal law.

Let him hasten before all things to satisfy the Roman see, for if it is satisfied all will agree in calling him pious and orthodox.

The extremities of the earth, and all in every part of it who purely and rightly confess the Lord look directly towards the most holy Roman Church and its confession and faith, as it were to a sun of unfailing light, awaiting from it the bright radiance of the sacred dogmas of our Fathers."

Timothy Mulligan said...

I certainly admit his pretensions.

Supertradmum said...

Excellent reminder of the genius of Newman. However, interestingly, in my discussions with converts, few come in because of the office of the Pope. But, it is an important acceptance. Many Protestants do not believe nor want to believe in the Visible Church. How many times have I heard this heresy of the invisible Church? And, it has seeped into the consciousness of some priests, sadly.

Manfred said...

Of course, Bl. Newman lived during the papacies of Pius IX and Leo XIII, who were lions of strength and orthodoxy.

Supertradmum said...

Please look at own humble letter.

R said...

Re "lions of strength and orthodoxy", this is what Newman once wrote of Pio Nono (I couldn't help but read it with The Great in mind...):

“We have come to a climax of tyranny [.] It is not good for a Pope to live 20 years. It is [an] anomaly and bears no good fruit; he becomes a god, has no one to contradict him …and does cruel things without meaning it” [LD 25.231]

The fact is that Newman had a critical (at times, savagely critical) opinion of many of these "lions" of the 19th century Church. He detested the Ultramontane campaign to have Papal Infallibility defined at Vatican I. But afterward he fell into line -- true submission of will -- even though his cautious interpretation of the dogma in the letter to the Duke of Norfolk belies his continuing discomfort with the Ultramontane view of the papacy. "Not exactly a ringing endorsement", indeed, but a legitimate attempt at a "hermeneutic of continuity".

Daniel said...

"We know the kingdom is still on earth: where is it?

"If all that can be found of it is what can be discerned at Constantinople or Canterbury, I say, it has disappeared..."

Talk about a declaration that has ceased to carry meaning!

Canterbury, for example, need only to cite Rome's teaching in regard to Protestants.

"...the Catholic Church embraces upon them as brothers, with respect and affection.

"For men who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even...moreover, some and even very many of the significant elements and endowments which together go to build up and give life to the Church itself, can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church."

"The brethren divided from us also use many liturgical actions of the Christian religion.

"These most certainly can truly engender a life of grace in ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or Community.

"These liturgical actions must be regarded as capable of giving access to the community of salvation."

In recent decades, Rome has presented the Archbishops of Cantebury as imporant religious leaders.

The following article by Father Dwight Longenecker documents the high regard in which Rome, since the 20th Century, has held Canterbury.

Kumquat said...

There was not a Patriarch of Moscow during the lifetime of Blessed John Henry Newman.

Kumquat said...

Supertradmum said this:

"Many Protestants do not believe nor want to believe in the Visible Church. How many times have I heard this heresy of the invisible Church? And, it has seeped into the consciousness of some priests, sadly."

Actually, many people who call themselves traditionalists believe in the heresy of the Invisible Church and refuse to believe that the Church is visible.

However, they use such terms as "eternal Rome" which they contrast with "conciliar Rome."

Same heresy, different terminology.

Upon this Rock said...

Stephen, like I said, it should have nothing to do with it. All Catholics, the SSPX included, will tell you you need to believe in Papal infallbility when the Pope teaches the whole Church ex cathedra from the Chair of Peter. As the fathers of Chalcedon said, "Peter has spoken thus through Leo". St.Leo the Great was the Pope at that time, and this was in response to the doctrine he laid out, as you perhaps know. God bless.

Ricardo said...

I sympathize greatly with the FSSPX but I must agree the concept of Eternal Rome is quite bizarre. Either the Church exists on earth or it does not. Since it exists, there must be a visible head with whom Bishops must interact and receive their apostolic mission. If it means suffering, well, deal with it, and carry your cross. Running away from the Pope is not the answer. From my observation the priests of the FSSP have had a very difficult time and have suffered a lot, but they continue to work with the local ordinary in order to be able to reach souls who otherwise would be unreachable. It would be much easier to go off somewhere and be independent, such that you only have to interact with 'your own people'. It may be more comfortable and pleasing, but there's a lot more work to be done than that. It is undoubtedly frought with dangers but that's the state of affairs isn't it?

St. Camillus de Lellis' little friend said...

The Holy Father's words at the Wednesday Angelus reveal the thoughts of his soul:

"In Jesus, God has spoken and given everything, but because He is an inexhaustible treasure, the Holy Spirit never ceases to reveal and actualize His mystery. Therefore, the work of Christ and the Church never regresses, but always progresses.

Dear friends, let us invoke Mary Most Holy whom. . .we celebrate as the Virgin of Mount Carmel, to help us, like St. Francis and St. Bonaventure, to respond generously to God's call to proclaim His Gospel of salvation with our words and above all with our lives."

As the Holy Trinity are Infinite and Eternal, the adoration of Their prismatic complexity will comprise our Eternity. Their simplicity expressed singularly as Charity is Eternal Beatitude. The IMMUTABILITY of Omniscient Wisdom is the glorious stability of Eternity. May the Holy Father be lead by Our Lady, the Queen of Heaven, to the Holy Spirit that He may infuse the Sovereign Pontiff's soul with the magnificence of His Immutability which transcends the shifting, restless desires for change in a society unable to escape the effects fallen human nature except by acknowledging and waging warfare against them.

Protestant Reader said...

Perhaps this was true in Newman's day, but nothing about the Pope seems monstrous to me. It's the Marian dogmas I find hard to accept. I am probably not alone in this among my Protestant brethren.