What Are Roman Catholics Taught About the Pope and Papal Infallibility?

By: Dr. John Ankerberg / Fr. Mitchell Pacwa / Dr. Walter Martin; ©2005
The Catholic Church claims that Jesus conferred on Peter and his successors supreme power in faith and morals over all the other apostles and over every Christian in the church. But is this true?




John Ankerberg and his guests will examine the evidence for some of the doctrines taught by the Roman Catholic Church. Specifically, our topic for this session is, “Is there evidence that Jesus Christ established the office of ‘Pope’ over His church?”

The Catholic Church claims that Jesus conferred on Peter and his successors supreme power in faith and morals over all the other apostles and over every Christian in the church. But is this true?

This doctrine is supposedly based on Matthew 16 where it states, “Thou art 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 on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.”

But many Christians reject Roman Catholic interpretation. They point out that in the very passage appealed to before Jesus spoke to Peter, He had asked His disciples whom men were saying that He was. Peter replied, “Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God.” Jesus agreed with Peter’s statement and used it to teach that He Himself will be the rock, the foundation upon which the church will be built. For Jesus says, “Thou art Peter”—petros, a small stone—“and upon this petra”—great massive rock, referring to Peter’s truthful declaration of Christ’s deity—it is upon this truth that Jesus says He will build His church.

Which of these interpretations best fits the scriptural record? What did Peter mean when he stated in his own epistle that Jesus was the chief cornerstone and all other Christians are living stones?

Other questions surrounding the doctrine of the Pope are:

Why are there no scripture verses that teach how the office of Pope is to be transmitted by Peter to his successors?
Why is it that the apostle Paul never mentions the office of Pope in any of his epistles when he teaches about the offices in the church?
When Jesus gave Peter the keys to the kingdom, doesn’t scripture show that Jesus gave the same keys to the other apostles?

Does scripture teach that the keys are a declaratory authority to announce the terms on which God will grant salvation, or, as Roman Catholics teach, an absolute power to admit or exclude someone from heaven? Both sides admit that in the first chapters of Acts, Peter exercises the keys to the kingdom by declaring the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles, as Jesus said he would. But then, the other apostles declare the gospel and Peter drops from sight in the scriptural account.

When Peter does reappear, at the Council of Jerusalem, why is it that the apostle James leads the church and not Peter?

Tonight, you will hear both sides of this question. John’s guests are Fr. Mitchell Pacwa, an ordained Roman Catholic priest. He has an earned doctor of philoso­phy degree and is currently professor of Old Testament at Loyola University in Chicago.

John’s second guest is Dr. Walter Martin, director and founder of the Christian Research Institute in California.

Dr. John Ankerberg: Tonight we’re examining the claims and the authority of the specific doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. What is the evidence for their claims and their teachings?
My first guest is an ordained Roman Catholic Priest—Fr. Mitchell Pacwa, who is a member of the Society of Jesus—a Jesuit. He has earned a Doctor of Phi­losophy degree and is currently a professor of Old Testament at Loyola Univer­sity in Chicago.
My second guest is Dr. Walter Martin. Dr. Martin is director and founder of the Christian Research Institute in California, and the author of many books—espe­cially the classic book known by both Protestants and Catholics, The Kingdom of the Cults.
Gentlemen, we’re glad that you’re here tonight.
Fr. Pacwa, I’ve got to come to you right off the bat here. I’d like to talk about the authority that the Roman Catholic Church says that they have and has taught in many of their documents. I’m reading from the New York Catechism, which says,
The Pope takes the place of Jesus Christ on earth. By divine right, the Pope has supreme and full power in faith and morals over each and every pastor and his flock. He is the true Vicar of Christ, the Head of the entire Church, the father and teacher of all Christians. He is the infallible ruler, the founder of dogmas, the author of and the judge of councils, the universal ruler of truth, the arbiter of the world, the supreme judge of heaven and earth, the judge of all, being judged by no one, God Himself on earth.
And this seems to rest on the basis that was stated by Cardinal Gibbons in his book Faith of Our Fathers—the short one here:
The Catholic Church teaches that our Lord conferred on St. Peter the first place of honor and jurisdiction in the government of His whole Church and that the same spiritual supremacy has always resided in the Popes or Bishops of Rome as being the successors of St. Peter. Consequently, to be true followers of Christ, all Christians, both among the clergy and laity, must be in communion with the See of Rome where Peter rules in the person of his successors.
The opposite way of saying this would be,
If anyone says that the blessed Apostle Peter was not constituted by Christ our Lord prince of all the apostles and visible head of all the church militant or that he, Peter, directly and immediately received from our Lord Jesus Christ a primacy of favor only and not one of true and proper jurisdiction, let him be anathema.
Now, I know that most of the writings establishing Jesus establishing Peter go back to Matthew Chapter 16.
Fr. Mitchell Pacwa: Yes.
Ankerberg: I’d like to start with that tonight. Matthew 16:17-19 is supposed to prove this doctrine. And I would like for you to tell us why you think that this doctrine is proved from this passage or from other verses. Let’s start with that.
Pacwa: Okay. The sense that the Church developed in its understanding of that text over time was twofold…. in the Church. On one hand, as almost every Protestant knows, there are two words here—that, “You are ‘Petros,’ and on this ‘petra’ I will build my church.” In the early Church, the Greek fathers and Western fathers alike, both interpreted it in two ways: (1) They said that the “Rock”— Peter—is the person on which Jesus is building the Church, and [2] other times, even the same fathers of the Church, like Augustine, for instance, taught that the Petra is his act of faith.
Ankerberg: Let me read the verse for the people at home so they know what we’re talking about.
Pacwa: Sure.
Ankerberg: Verse 18—and I’m reading from the Catholic Bible: “And I say to thee that thou art Peter, and Upon This Rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Pacwa: Yes, that text there is about Peter being called “rock.”
On one hand, even in the early Church when they use that distinction between petra and petros, you know, it’s explained in different ways. Petra, the noun, is feminine, and it was just masculinized when in translating Peter’s name into Greek. Okay? In Aramaic, it would be no different: Ante kepha ve’al kepha dinnah ebanah kenisiyah sheli —just plain Aramaic. And there would be no distinction in terminology.
As a matter of fact, I don’t know if you’ve been to Israel, but the place where this takes place, Caesarea Philippi, is a perfect setting for this statement, be­cause behind the city is this solid rock cliff that goes on for approximately a mile in either direction. It’s just enormous. And so this is also a visual image here.
So we see that this… We believe that this person and his after-faith, or both, are the basis on which Jesus builds His Church and is a principle that we see throughout the Gospels— that where Jesus is, He makes His apostles, espe­cially, and the rest of us too.
So that Jesus is the Rock of our Salvation, to be sure, but He makes Peter “the Rock.” Jesus called Himself “the Good Shepherd” in John 10. But, in another commission to Peter, which Scripture scholars of all different brands and colors, consider to be the Johannine version of the same setting apart of Peter, where he is called shepherd. So, Jesus, the Shepherd, makes Peter The Shepherd, because He wants to know, anyway, whether Peter loves Jesus more than all the rest.
Ankerberg: Okay. Let me stop you there and, Dr. Martin, why don’t you get into this?
Dr. Walter Martin: Well, what we’re really talking about are differences that persist since Vatican II between classic Roman Catholic theology and Protestant theology or Reformation theology. And what he is saying, I’m well acquainted with as any scholar in the area would be. The problem that we have is that the state­ments you read before from Cardinal Gibbons, and other statements which have been made, indicate that it goes far beyond the concept of Peter’s faith. It goes to the actual “individual,” and I think you would be the first to admit that…
Pacwa: Yes.
Martin: For instance, in Boniface VIII’s “Unam Sanctam,” which CardinalManning says “is beyond all doubt an ex cathedra.” That’s Manning, who is anauthority, allegedly, on papal decrees. And he says, quoting “Unam Sanctam,”
“We declare, affirm, define and pronounce it to be necessary to salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman pontiff.— Again, Pius IX. — “I alone, despite my unworthiness am the successor of the apostles,” —following Gibbons— “the Vicar of Jesus Christ.” — following the Catechism— “I alone have the mission to guide and direct the bark of Peter” — successor of the apostles— “I am the way, the truth and the life. They who are with me are with the Church. They who are not with me are out of the Church.”
Now, what disturbs the Protestant at this particular juncture is that we are no longer talking about the “faith of Peter” —Peter is “a little stone built up into the tabernacle.” He says so himself. What we’re dealing with now is a statement of the usurpation of the role of deity. And you mentioned before “what Christ was He called the apostles.” Well, Christ was God. The apostles were never called “God.”
Pacwa: Right.
Martin: And yet here in this particular statement that we read before —John read from Gibbons—you have the Pope being called “a god on earth.” No, he’s not a “god on earth”, he’s a man. And he’s a sinner in need of a Savior just like all of us.
And so the principal idea of carrying on the idea of the “faith of Peter” in the Church is one thing. But to argue for the supremacy of the man when the man’s predecessor, Peter… if there’s one person that should know what Jesus meant in Matthew 16, it’s got to be Peter. And if you go to 1 Peter 2, it specifically says, “You are built on the chief Cornerstone—Jesus Christ.” He said, “We’re all little stones built up into a spiritual tabernacle, Jesus Christ the chief Cornerstone [the Church Universal, the Church invisible, but we’re all part of the building, and we’re] built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Jesus Christ, chief Cornerstone.”
Now, you admitted before that Christ is the Rock, the Foundation, the Savior, and so forth.
Pacwa: Yes.
Martin: Great. If that’s true, why is it necessary to transfer titles that belong to Christ to the papacy, such as “Holy Father”? Now, calling you “Father,” or me “Father,” or somebody else “Father” as a title, we both agree is a title. But to say “Holy Father,” which is a title reserved uniquely for God Himself and to identify that with a man, to call him in the Catechism “a god on earth,” this goes, in the Protestant mind, far contrary to the Scriptures than just the idea of “Peter’s faith.”
Pacwa: One of the things about even a title, “god on earth”, as you know, in the so-called “Covenant Code” in the book of Exodus, judges in Israel are called “god” in Hebrew—they are called “Elohims.”
Martin: Psalm 82:6.
Pacwa: Not only… no, in Exodus itself.
Martin: I know, but it is the same word, “Elohim.”
Pacwa: Yes. That’s right—another example of it. And one of the things that I find, in Hebrew text, disturbing, but again, it’s Scripture. And it only would be applied to the Pope in his role as a judge of various issues.
Now, for sure, the Catholic Church looks upon the Pope as a successor of Peter—not just his after-faith, but of the person. And, that he has the authority of Peter that goes from not just being a “rock” but as it also says here in the text, “I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you [singular] shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” And so that this person—who then is author, John, told to feed the lambs and sheep—is here given an authority to loose and to bind in a singular way. Now, the apostles are given the same authority of loosing and binding later on in Matthew 18 and also in John 20, especially in reference to forgiveness of sins…
Martin: As you made a point a moment ago of the singular usage of “I will give to you the keys of the kingdom,” in Matthew 18 you have a parallel where it’s a plural…
Pacwa: Right. That’s right.
Martin: …where He gives the disciples the power to bind and loose, which is “the keys to the kingdom.”
Pacwa: And one of the important aspects of the Catholic teaching of the papacy is that the papacy cannot be seen apart from the college of the bishops. The Pope, even… For instance, there are two statements by Popes that claimed for sure—claimed by them, not by Cardinal Manning, but claimed by the Popes— to be infallible: The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin, which I’m sure we’ll get to later, and the Assumption into Heaven of the Blessed Virgin, which we will also get to later. No doubt!
Martin: I think we better reel the tape back and get to the first one where he committed the error of begging the question and affirmed himself infallible in 1870, which the Universal Church never recognized. He said, “I am the succes­sor of Peter.” “I am the infallible teacher.” And they said, “Why?” And he said, “Because I said so.” And that’s exactly what happened!
Pacwa: At the same time, that’s not all that happened, because cardinals themselves…
Martin: But there was more…
Pacwa: …there is quite a bit more. Cardinals and other bishops came there…
Martin: Yeah.
Pacwa: …craving…. Manning himself being one of them, a convert from Prot­estantism, who eventually was ordained and became the first Cardinal of En­gland after the restoration of the bishoprics there. The bishops had been not allowed to be in England up until the early 19th Century.
Ankerberg: Fr. Pacwa, can I come back here… If we’re going to talk about the “keys of the kingdom,” which we’re talking about, [there’s] no doubt Jesus said “the keys to the kingdom,” but also that in Matthew you find that the Pharisees and the scribes had the keys to the kingdom and the other disciples are given the keys to the kingdom.
I think what the Protestant side of the church is saying is that the definition of “the keys of the kingdom” has been overblown. And where do you get these fantastic claims of authority? Number one, to Peter, because then you’d have to justify it biblically as well as historically. And Protestants reading their Bible—a lot of people, including Catholics that I’ve got quotes from here—read their Bible and they don’t find Peter being supreme in the Scripture text, the one we’re reading or the one in John.
Why did Jesus three times say to Peter, “Do you love me?” Because it goes back to the fact he denied Him three times when he was supposed to stand for Him.
Pacwa: Yes.
Ankerberg: Now, all the Scriptures from the time that Jesus said, “You are the rock,” from that point on right immediately Peter turned around and said some­thing wrong and Jesus accused him of being one that was used by Satan…
Pacwa: Sure.
Ankerberg: Okay? You go on and Peter affirms later on in Matthew that he is going to stand for Jesus; he will be there and all the rest will flee. And Jesus turns and says, “No, I’ll tell you what: you’re going to deny me three times.” And he opposes Jesus and says, “No!” And then he goes ahead and he does it any­way. So, instead of people seeing Peter as supreme and the head of the Church, Peter blows it.
Pacwa: I’m glad you brought that up, because, as I started to say before, again, that supremacy of Peter among the bishops is only possible in the context of all the bishops. Okay?
Ankerberg: But we don’t see it in the context of the New Testament, of the apostles.
Pacwa: That’s one of the things that we Catholics disagree on in terms of understanding the New Testament. First of all, I can’t think of any text where the Pharisees are said to have the keys of the kingdom.
Ankerberg: Well, let me give one to you then. Matthew 23:13, you will find that the scribes and Pharisees exercised the same kind of power.
But we’ve only got about a minute left here and what we need to do in this week’s program, when I talk about the fact of Peter being supreme among the apostles, I find that Paul opposed him to his face.
Pacwa: Right. Absolutely.
Ankerberg: Was he supreme there? Was he the head there?
Pacwa: At the same time… sure he was!
Ankerberg: He was wrong.
Pacwa: And that’s one of the things about the papacy I think that Protestants misunderstand in terms of “infallibility.” Not everything the Pope says is infallible by any means.
Martin: But in matters….
Pacwa: …by any means.
Ankerberg: Okay. We’ve got just a few seconds left.
Martin: But in matters of faith and morals, he is. And he was immoral in hisdealing with the Gentiles, and Paul rebuked him on a matter of faith and morals
Pacwa: There are three conditions for the Pope’s infallibility in issues of faith and morals and we’ll have to talk about the three conditions when we come back.
Ankerberg: Okay. I appreciate that. We’re going to look into this: “Was Peter given the supremacy among the other apostles?” And we’re going to look at the history as well as the Scripture concerning the early Church next week, and so I hope that you’ll join us.

Ankerberg: Gentlemen, I want to move on in our talking about the claims of the Roman Catholic Church concerning, this week, the infallibility of the Pope. Let’s actually take a look at this. Reading from Vatican Council which met in Rome in 1870 they said,
We teach and define that it is a dogma divinely revealed, the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith and morals to be held by the Universal Church by the divine assistance promised him in blessed Peter is possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that His Church should be endowed for defining doctrines regarding faith and morals, and that therefore such definitions of the Roman Pontiff of themselves, and not by virtue of the consent of the Church, are irreformable.
Now, we need to keep coming back for evidence. Many in the Roman Catholic Church take it for granted that that’s true, but there are others that do not.
And Fr. Pacwa, I’d like you to comment about, if Jesus gave the supremacy to Peter, how do you deal with Paul? Because, let me give you a few facts about Paul in relationship to Peter, and I’d like you to comment, if you would, please.
Peter has no say in Paul’s appointment.
There are 13 epistles that Paul wrote, 2023 verses. Peter only wrote two epistles, 166 verses.
Paul mentioned Peter more than once, but he never mentioned him with any special title of honor, such as the Vicar or Pope, or above any of the other apostles.
Paul did not mention the papacy when he referred to the offices of the Church in 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4.
Paul as an apostle claimed authority over the Roman Church itself in Romans 1:5, 6 and 16:17.
Paul claimed for himself that “he was behind the very chiefest apostles in nothing” (2 Corinthians 12), and
Then, specifically, you have Paul rebuking Peter, without any mention of Peter’s supremacy, in Galatians 2.
Now, if Peter were the chief, it would seem that Paul would have acknowledged that in his epistles and would have acknowledged it in the respect he gave when there was a matter of doctrine on the table. We see none of that for Peter.
Pacwa: First of all, what you have in Paul and Peter’s dispute in Galatians is not a dispute about some infallible statement by Peter, it is about his own prac­tice on something that already had been decided by the Church. Now, Catholics do not say that we can’t tell the Pope to live up to certain things in his own life. As a matter of fact, Dante, in his “Inferno” mentions that a number of Popes are in hell for various reasons.
Martin: Remember, you said that. I didn’t!
Pacwa: That’s right! Why not say it. I don’t know that they’re in hell; Dante knew—so he says.
And the thing that the Pope’s infallibility does not mean is that the Pope is right all the time. In no way does the Catholic Church even teach that. He’s infallible only when he speaks ex cathedra, in order to clearly speak infallibly. He has to say that explicitly to be speaking infallibly.
Secondly, it has to be to the whole Church, not to one part or one individual of the Church, but to everybody in the Church.
And thirdly, it has to be on the issue of faith and morals. He cannot infallibly say that the stock market will drop.
Ankerberg: Okay. You have continued to tell me about the fact of what he speaks. When I’m saying the word “supreme,” it seems to also mean more than just what he speaks. There ought to be the respect. There ought to be the dignity, the honor, the mention of the fact of his office by all the other apostles, and we see none of that. It’s silent—dead silence in the New Testament.
Pacwa: I don’t think that it is. It is not dead silent. Okay, again…even Paul when he…
Ankerberg: Would you show me where it is?
Pacwa: Paul does not call him Simon Barjona, does he?
Ankerberg: What does he call him?
Martin: Peter.
Pacwa: Cephas.
Ankerberg: Peter.
Pacwa: Cephas or Peter, which is a title given him, which is “Rock,” not his given name. And he doesn’t refer to him as Simon, ever. It always calls him by Cephas.
And even in Corinthians, what he’s dealing with is a specific problem of people having been divisive on account of Peter, later on, in the next generation—about 35 years later…well, more than that from the Corinthians: about 45 years later— will see that it will be the Bishop of Rome, St. Clement I, who is the second after Peter and Paul who will be correcting the same Church because of division. They never learned.
And so it’s the Bishop of Rome that takes that authority in 95 A.D. —before the New Testament is finished being written—and he is the one that tells them… he sends legates over there to Corinth and says, “You Corinthians, get united with your priests again,” and he orders his legates not to come back home until they’re united. So he takes that authority, and the very next generation as the role of Peter to bring unity to the Church.
Ankerberg: Okay, Dr. Martin, I’d like you to put the other side of the fence. I said that there was a hypothesis that Fr. Pacwa is using, namely that in referring to Peter, which we all agree is, “small rock,” and that there is a differentiation between the other Rock, there is something different. It’s not referring to Peter because of the way it’s written.
All right. What would be another option that would seem to fit this evidence better from your point of view? Would you please explain that so we get it on the table anyway?
Martin: I would take Augustine’s position,…
Ankerberg: All right.
Martin: A very great theologian,… that Peter’s confession of faith: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” is the foundation, and that it’s not Peter.
Cross-referencing it to 1 Peter 2, Peter didn’t understand it to refer to him. He put himself in with all the rest of the “little stones” built up into the spiritual house, Jesus Christ being the chief Cornerstone.
Ephesians 2:20 says, “We’re built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Jesus Christ, the chief Cornerstone.” He quotes Scripture, “Behold I lay in Zion a Cornerstone, a rock of offense. Whoever believes on Him [not Peter— Christ] will not be ashamed.”
That Peter was a moving force, a chief apostle in the Church, there’s no doubt whatsoever. That his writings were authoritative and they were accepted as such; that he recommended Paul’s writings as Scripture, even calling it “Scripture,” equating it with the Old Testament, is indicative of the fact that they agreed in their basic theology.
Well, since they agreed in their basic theology, the facts fit the hypothesis that the whole structure of the New Testament and the first five centuries following that, historically, did not give any supreme role to the Bishop of Rome.
Ankerberg: Okay, now, I want you to go on and let’s get into a definition of “the keys.” Okay? Fr. Pacwa has defined how the Roman Catholic Church sees the keys and would you give another hypothesis for that?
Martin: Yes. The alternative to that is the parallel passage of Matthew 18 with which he is well acquainted also and mentioned it before—namely that Christ was speaking to the disciples, not to Peter, and the apostles in general. He said, “If any two of you shall agree on anything on earth, it will have been done in heaven” —what you bind on earth is bound in heaven.
Now, the keys of the kingdom were the power to bind and loose. Peter had that power, but it wasn’t Peter’s power alone. Matthew 18 gives that power to you and to me to pray together that we may bind or loose. So, I’d take that to be the alternative proposition to the Roman Catholic position.
Ankerberg: Would you say that the binding and loosing is a declaratory power and not one of supremacy?
Martin: Yeah, I think it’s a right to declare something by faith, and I think Peter had that right. But if he was really the supreme pontiff of the Church—this is a very strong point, I think—then the disciples of the apostles, the men who went into the second century, the great theologians of that time, would surely have recognized the primacy of Rome. And they didn’t.
Ankerberg: Fr. Pacwa, would you respond to that hypothesis? Why do you think that the evidence of the New Testament does not fit that hypothesis?
Pacwa: First of all, you know that when Jesus is speaking in Matthew 18, He’s not speaking to the crowds but to the apostles.
Martin: Right.
Pacwa: And so that, you know, it’s not just “we” who have that same authority, except in a derived sense, but the apostles and their successors, the bishops, along with the successor of Peter, have that authority to make decisions that we don’t.
For instance, decisions like, “What goes into the New Testament?” That was not made by the New Testament, it was made by the bishops. They chose which books were to be canonical. The laypeople didn’t do it except in that secondary sense. The bishops were the ones who were the “traditores,” that is, the ones who carried on the tradition as to which books derived from Paul, Peter, James and the others, and then finally in councils, and in series of councils, decided which ones.
We now have the 27, and really it was not until Pope Damasus I, in giving authority to the Councils of Carthage and Hippo in the end of the fourth century and the beginning of the fifth. So that we have, for the first time, 27 books of the New Testament. Before that we have 22 books. So the authority of the New Testament derives from these bishops and from the Pope and an authority which Protestants continue to accept as their own basic authority.
Ankerberg: Okay, let’s get a response.
Martin: There’s a severe fallacy in the reasoning. In order to establish what you just said, you must assume that there is a papacy with the power to do that…
Pacwa: Yes!
Martin: Well, I deny the assumption.
Pacwa: Yes.
Martin: So…
Pacwa: It’s a fallacy only if I accept your assumption.
Martin: Right! Right! Just as it’s a fallacy if I accept yours.
Pacwa: That’s right. That’s right.
Martin: So the point…
Pacwa: We’re stuck!
Martin: Yes, we’re stuck! We’re stuck in one important area, and I think we can get out of it pretty quickly.
Pacwa: Yes…
Martin: This is it. In Vatican I, which was the cornerstone of all the power of the contemporary papacy—we know that, because it was then at Vatican I which John just read that the statement was clearly defined for the first time in history, that this was the position, okay? —Now, when that was done at Vatican I on July 13, 1870, an argument was raised on the floor, voted on by 18 bishops support­ing it, and this is what was stated, historically, if I may quote it:
Well, venerable brethren, history raises its voice to assure us that Popes have erred. You may protest against it or deny it as you please, I’ll prove it. Pope Victor in 192 first approved of Montanism and then condemned it. Marcellinus was an idolator; he entered the Temple of Vesta and offered incense to the goddess. You’ll say that it was an act of weakness, but I answer a Vicar of Jesus Christ dies rather than become an apostate. Liberius consented to the condemnation of Athanasius and made a profession of Arianism that he might be recalled from his exile and reinstated in the Holy See. Honorius adhered to monothelitism. Fr. Gratry has proved that to demonstration. Gregory I calls anyone “anti-Christ” who takes the name Universal Bishop, and Boniface III made the patricide Emperor of Phocus confer the title upon him. Paschal II and Eugenius III authorized dueling. Julius II and Pius IV forbid it. Eugenius VI approved the Council of Basel and the reinstitution of the chalice of the Church of Bohemia. Pius II revoked the concession. Hadrian II declared civil marriages to be valid, Pius VII condemned them. Sixtus V published an edition of the Bible and by a Bull recommended it to be read. Pius VII condemned the reading of it. Clement XIV abolished the order of the Jesuits…
That’s you!…
Pacwa: He died.
Martin: Universal Church, bye-bye…okay? You’re out!… “permitted by Paul III and Pius VII…” put you boys back in business!
Pacwa: Right!
Martin: “Pope Vigilius purchased the papacy from Bilesarius, Lieutenant of the Emperor Justinian. Eugenius III [number four in the original] imitated Vigilius. Bernard [St. Bernard, the “bright star of the Reformation”] says, ‘Can you show me in this great city of Rome anyone who would receive you as Pope that they had not received gold or silver for it?’”…
Pacwa: Sure…
Martin: Let me finish this statement. It’s important.
You know the history of Formosus too well for me to add to it. But you will tell me these are fables, not history, fables! Go, Monsignori, to the Vatican library and read Platina, the historian of the papacy and the annals of Baronius. These are facts which for the honor of the Holy See we would wish to ignore. Cardinal Baronius speaking of the papal court said, “What did the Roman Church appear in those days? How infamous! Only all-powerful courtesans governing in Rome! It was they who gave, exchanged and took bishoprics; and horrible to relate, got their lovers, the false Popes, put on the thrones of St. Peter!”
Ankerberg: Okay, we’ve got to call an end to it here, Walter. We need a statement from Fr. Pacwa here. What do you have to say concerning these things?
Pacwa: Well…
Martin: This is by an Archbishop, not me.
Pacwa: I know, and that’s… we don’t deny it at all. Again, that’s the basis on which Dante said some of these folks are going to be in hell.
Ankerberg: So…
Pacwa: And “infallibility” does not mean justification.
Ankerberg: No. But what I hear you say is that all the statements that the Popes made that are proven wrong—they’re not infallible.
Pacwa: Right.
Ankerberg: And also you say…
Pacwa: They don’t meet the three criteria for infallibility.
Ankerberg: Yeah… and the fact is that in spite of the fact that Peter is sup­posed to be supreme, not just the fact of what he said but supposedly “recog­nized” as such—the Head of the Church, the leader. When he speaks, there ought to be some respect in listening. Okay? And you would expect that he would be leading in some other areas as well.
We have yet to establish the fact that you find that in Scripture. You have yet to discount the fact that the other apostles were given the same ability. You have yet to discount the fact that Paul, in looking at Peter, never mentions it, never writes to him mentioning the fact that he’s the head of the Church. And on and on and on….
Pacwa: But, see, the problem with your “on and on and on” is that you don’t accept the Catholic understanding of… well, in pointing out of other data, where Peter is head. As a matter, as Dr. Martin himself said, that Peter clearly takes the dynamic leadership of the Church after the ascension of Jesus…
Ankerberg: For three chapters and then it disappears.
Pacwa: Three chapters and Chapter 10….
Ankerberg: But in Chapter 10 he’s disputing with the people that are there. They don’t show him the honor that you’re talking about.
Pacwa: No, no, no. You’re the one that keeps on saying that supremacy means that everything you say is going to be honored.
Ankerberg: I’m not saying that….
Pacwa: Yes you are!
Ankerberg: I’m saying the respect. If the Pope were to walk into the door he should have the final word in an argument.
Pacwa: Why? Who said that? Jesus didn’t say that and we don’t say that Jesus did.
Ankerberg: “Supreme” means first. The first word and last word.
Pacwa: That doesn’t mean in terms of the way it’s going to be enacted. That he’s going to have that…you’re defining it as a straw man and then saying we don’t have it. We never said that that’s what it means. What it means is….
Ankerberg: Define “supreme” for me, then.
Pacwa: What it means is that when he speaks to the whole Church in the name of Peter and on faith and morals that that is infallible.
Ankerberg: But he’s not the head, then, of the apostles.
Pacwa: He’s the head of the Church as well in terms of being the head of the….
Ankerberg: What does “head” mean? How would they recognize it from the examples that are given in Scripture?
Pacwa: Well, in terms of the examples given in Scripture, his choosing a replacement for Mythias; his being the first one to go and lead John to lay hands on the Samaritans
Ankerberg: But he was sent down by the Church to do that.
Pacwa: Sure!
Ankerberg: And he came back and they didn’t just accept his word. They argued with him.
Pacwa: So?
Ankerberg: I don’t see him being the head.
Pacwa: Again, his headship does not come from them and their approval. His headship comes from the fact that Jesus is the One who revealed to him so he should be baptized…
Ankerberg: So what you’re saying is that the Church didn’t recognize it, but he still had it.
Pacwa: Absolutely. Because it comes from Christ, not from the Church. That’s one of the reasons why it’s said to be apostolic and divinely instituted.
Ankerberg: Yeah, but let’s follow that through, is that he had it but they didn’t recognize it. Why didn’t they recognize it if they were all there? I mean, Jesus never told anybody else? He only told Peter, and Peter never mentioned it?
Pacwa: In terms of recognizing things, did they recognize the existence of the New Testament yet? No. Did they recognize the definition of the Trinity? No. Did they recognize the two natures of Christ in terms and ways we could talk about today? No. Lots of things they don’t recognize. But over time….
Ankerberg: Did they recognize that Jesus was God? Yes! Did that go into the Chalcedonian and Nicean Councils? Yes…
Pacwa: Sure!
Ankerberg: There’s a basis there. I’m saying, “I don’t see any basis.”
Pacwa: Well, okay. You don’t accept, you know, the evidence that we ac­cept….
Ankerberg: I don’t see any evidence, is what I’m saying.
Pacwa: You don’t see that Christ gives Peter this vision to go baptize Cornelius?
Ankerberg: I see that he got that, and I see Paul got others and the other apostles got that…and so now we have…
Pacwa: But who got it first?
Ankerberg: Okay.
Pacwa: And who got it by vision, first?
Ankerberg: That’s why we would say, “The keys to the kingdom are the de­claratory power which Peter exercised”….
Martin: Yes.
Ankerberg: …and then the other apostles also went and exercised it as well. And that’s all it means.
Pacwa: And….no, that’s not all it means. One of the things that also we see develop in the history of the Church, just like we see the development of the Christological and Trinitarian doctrines, is that [of] Peter’s role among the other apostles. Because we don’t deny that the other bishops, the successors of the college of apostles, have authority to bind and loose. We don’t deny that at all. They do. In local areas they have authority that the Pope does not have in their diocese. They can make rules in their diocese apart from the Pope the way states can apart from the federal government.
Ankerberg: Okay. Dr. Martin, we need a final word from you here because we’re out of time. Let me summarize what I hear you saying though. You’re saying that the Church there did not recognize Peter as head. Peter had that headship from Jesus.
Pacwa: Right.
Ankerberg: Okay. Now, I really am amazed that you would say that.
Pacwa: Well, first of all, I didn’t say they didn’t recognize the head… there’s not that full-blown, you know, kind of description of supremacy and headship that you would like to have us describe and also that happens later on in history.
Ankerberg: That Rome says is there.
Pacwa: He has an authority that comes from Jesus—in Matthew 16, Luke 22, and Acts 10…
Ankerberg: It still has to be proved that that’s the kind of authority. We agree that it’s a declaratory. We see one example of that and then Peter fades. That’s the record.
Pacwa: He fades in terms of the history of the Acts of the Apostles because Luke, for whatever purpose….
Ankerberg: If he was the head of the Church, you would think that he would actually be the head of…he would be focused on all through Acts. We find three chapters and then it turns to Paul.
Pacwa: Why? Why would you expect that?
Ankerberg: Because he’s the head of the Church…
Pacwa: So?
Ankerberg: …this is the key point. He is the chief representative, according to Rome, of Jesus Christ on earth…
Pacwa: Right. But why would they talk about him?
Ankerberg: ….and he’s not going to be mentioned?
Pacwa: Why?
Ankerberg: Why? Because “he is the head of the Church.”
Pacwa: If Jesus already said it, why do you have to talk about it all the time. You just do it.
Martin: You see, our problem is a semantic problem in that when we say, “The Church,” we’re talking about the universal Church founded by Christ, carried on by the apostles and then by their disciples on forward through history. When he is using the term, “The Church,” he is speaking of the Roman Catholic Church, which is one, holy catholic and apostolic, the successor to apostolic authority. So, every time you see the word “Church” from the first century on… second century on, really… then, immediately it’s cast into the context of “authority,” derived from Peter…
Pacwa: And the apostles.
Martin: Yeah. That’s why I keep saying that the appeal of the fathers is not to the tradition of the Church, and not to the arguments that were aroused and carried on vigorously amongst themselves. All of them, when they appeal, it’s scriptura sola. They’re appealing to Scripture, Scripture, Scripture. And what John’s saying and what I’m saying is this: If you want to believe that the Church made the Scripture, you have a problem. Because the kerygma, which was the preaching of the Gospel, was not inscripturated totally until the close of the first century.
Pacwa: No, that’s not a problem. That’s a strength of our position.
Martin: Well, no. I don’t think it is the strength. Because the fathers repro­duced the entire New Testament, virtually, themselves in the next three centu­ries….
Ankerberg: Except for six verses.
Martin: So… without six verses. That’s the Fathers. If you had no Church supervising through the magisterium—the teaching ministry, the gathering to­gether the information and putting it together—you still have the different fathers in different locations all writing, all reproducing the teachings of the apostles.
You put it all together, and they knew that they had from their own specific references, their own teachers, they knew that they had the Gospels right. They knew they had the book of Acts right. So, they subjected everything to the Canon of the Gospels and Acts to test the Epistles. Now, that’s how they arrived at the information. It wasn’t somewhere down the line at the year 364 where they all of a sudden got together, brought everything into a room and said, “Now we’re going to vote on it.”
Ankerberg: Okay, Fr. Pacwa, give us one last statement here. Thirty seconds, okay?
Pacwa: Well, again, one of the things that we also see is that the fathers do appeal, not to sola scriptura, but also to the traditions that they have…
Martin: But always in accordance with Scriptures.
Pacwa: ..and even Athanasius…
Martin: Always in accordance with Scripture.
Pacwa: Always. And so do we teach the same thing—that tradition and Scrip­ture are always…the apostolic tradition and Scripture are always in accord.

Extracted from The John Ankerberg Show series “Do Roman Catholics and Protestants Agree on Papal Infallibility and Justification?” Edited for publication.


[[Category:Catholic Teaching|Pope]

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