True Pope, False Pope and the Papacy

  • Barque of Peter
  • Holy See
  • Chair of Peter
  • Bad man in the Chair
  • Papacy
  • Office of Papacy
  • Primacy of Papacy
  • Perpetuity of the Papacy
  • Keys of the Kingdom

What is the Barque (Bark) of Peter?

The Bark of Peter is a boat which is a symbol of the Church

The Boat itself is a Symbol for the Church, the Bark of Peter. The Boat holds the Apostles, and Symbolically all of Christ’s Disciples. “The World is a Sea in which the Church, like a Ship, is beaten by the waves, but not submerged”. We are doing God’s Work, fishing for People, in Peter’s Boat, the Church.

However, we are Strangers in a Foreign Land, i.e. the Boat is on the Sea, on the Chaos that is not God. It is a Dangerous and Storm-Swept Place, where even Seasoned-Fishermen Fear. Yet the place that is not-of-God contains the People who Need God, the People who Need Salvation.

Saint Anselm said that the Bark of the Church may be Swept by the Waves, but it can never Sink, because Christ is there. When the Church is in Greatest Need, Christ comes to its help by Miracles, or by raising-up Saintly Men to Strengthen and Purify it.

Saint Anselm said that the Bark of the Church may be Swept by the Waves, but it can never Sink, because Christ is there. When the Church is in Greatest Need, Christ comes to its help by Miracles, or by raising up Saintly Men to Strengthen and Purify it.

It is the Bark of Peter; when the Storm threatens to Sink it, the Lord awakens from His Sleep, and Commands the Winds and Waters into Calm: “Peace; be still!

What is the Holy See?

The term “See” comes from the Latin sedes, meaning ‘chair.’ This reference to the “first see” is in this way a reference to the primary chair. And this is also the origin of the term ‘Apostolic See,’ which refers to the Chair of the Apostle and the particular Church at Rome.

What is the Chair of Peter?

It depends on what you mean. On the one hand, there is a physical object–an ancient, ornamented chair–located in the apse of St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Chair, or “Cathedra” (where we even get our word Cathedral, with that particular church as the seat of the bishop) takes on a special meaning beyond just being a fancy piece of furniture.

On the other hand, there is the spiritual authority that this chair represents.

The Chair of Peter is therefore the sign of authority, but of Christ’s authority, based on faith and on love.

The title Chair of Peter refers to the chair from which a bishop presided, a symbol of his authority.

When the title refers to Saint Peter, it recalls the supreme teaching power of Peter and his successors. It is from the chair, from the pastoral power given him, that the pope shepherds Christ’s flock.

In AD 251, St. Cyprian, bishop of Carthage wrote: “There is one God and one Christ, and one Church, and one Chair founded on the Rock [Peter] by the voice of the Lord [et cathedra una super Petrum Domini uoce fundata]. It is not possible to set up another altar or another priesthood besides that one altar and that one priesthood. Whoever gathers elsewhere, scatters.” (Epistle 39 (43))

Saint Jerome (died A.D. 420): “As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is, with the Chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the Church is built. …This is the ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails. …And as for heretics, I have never spared them; on the contrary, I have seen to it in every possible way that the Church’s enemies are also my enemies.” (Manual of Patrology and History of Theology)

Can a bad man sit in the Chair of Peter?  Yes.

This was the opinion of St. Bernard, the last Father of the Church, who lived several centuries before Pope Paul IV’s bull was written. He teaches that it is a false pope reigning as a true pope who alone can merit the terrible title Antichrist and who is also able to sit in the Chair of Peter.

In supporting Pope Innocent II, St. Bernard wrote to Hildebert, archbishop of Tours: “Behold, Innocent the Christ, the anointed of the Lord, is ‘set for the fall and the resurrection of many.’ For they that are of God willingly adhere to him, whilst opposed to him stand Antichrist and his followers. We have seen ‘the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place,’ (Matt. 34:15)…He has seated himself in the Chair of Peter. The holy place he covets, not for its holiness, but for its height. He has, I say, got possession of the holy place [but] not through the merit of his life. The election whereof he boasts is but a cloak for his malice. To call it an election at all is an impudent lie.” (Rev. Albert J. Luddy, “The Life and Teachings of St. Bernard”).

Can there be long periods of time with NO pope?

Yes.  Long Interregnums are possible for the Papacy to still exist.

“We may here stop to inquire what is to be said of the position, at that time, of the three claimants, and their rights with regard to the Papacy. In the first place, there was all through, from the death of Gregory XI in 1378, a Pope – with the exception, of course, of the intervals between deaths and elections to fill up the vacancies thereby created. There was, I say, at every given time a Pope, really invested with the dignity of the Vicar of Christ and Head of the Church, whatever opinions might exist among many as to his genuineness; not that an interregnum covering the whole period would have been impossible or inconsistent with the promises of Christ, for this is by no means manifest, but that, as a matter of fact, there was not such an interregnum.”(Fr. Edmund James O’Reilly, The Relations of the Church to Society – Theological Essays, 1882)

“The great schism of the West suggests to me a reflection which I take the liberty of expressing here. If this schism had not occurred, the hypothesis of such a thing happening would appear to many chimerical [absurd]. They would say it could not be; God would not permit the Church to come into so unhappy a situation. Heresies might spring up and spread and last painfully long, through the fault and to the perdition of their authors and abettors, to the great distress too of the faithful, increased by actual persecution in many places where the heretics were dominant. But that the true Church should remain between thirty and forty years without a thoroughly ascertained Head, and representative of Christ on earth, this would not be. Yet it has been; and we have no guarantee that it will not be again, though we may fervently hope otherwise. What I would infer is, that we must not be too ready to pronounce on what God may permit. We know with absolute certainty that He will fulfill His promises… We may also trust that He will do a great deal more than what He has bound Himself by his promises. We may look forward with cheering probability to exemption for the future from some of the trouble and misfortunes that have befallen in the past. But we, or our successors in the future generations of Christians, shall perhaps see stranger evils than have yet been experienced, even before the immediate approach of that great winding up of all things on earth that will precede the day of judgment. I am not setting up for a prophet, nor pretending to see unhappy wonders, of which I have no knowledge whatever. All I mean to convey is that contingencies regarding the Church, not excluded by the Divine promises, cannot be regarded as practically impossible, just because they would be terrible and distressing in a very high degree.” (Fr. O’Reilly, p. 287.)

What is the Papacy?

In short, the Papacy is the primacy of jurisdiction over the whole Church.

Pope Pius IX, Vatican Council I, 1870, Sess. 4, Chap. 3, ex cathedra: “… all the faithful of Christ must believe that the Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff hold primacy over the whole world, and the Pontiff of Rome himself is the successor of the blessed Peter, the chief of the apostles, and is the true vicar of Christ and head of the whole Church… Furthermore We teach and declare that the Roman Church, by the disposition of the Lord, holds the sovereignty of ordinary power over all others… This is the doctrine of Catholic truth from which no one can deviate and keep his faith and salvation.” (Denz. 1826-1827)

What is the Office of the Papacy?

Simply put, the Office of the Papacy is the office of St. Peter which was and whichever may be occupied by a true and lawful Bishop of Rome.

What is the Primacy (authority) of the Papacy?

The primacy is the authority over the Church. It is Peter’s authority. It includes the supreme power of teaching.

A true Pope is the continuation of the same primacy granted to Saint Peter by Jesus.

Vatican Council of 1870, Pope Pius IX, Session 4, Chapter 2, Article 3, Ex-Cathedra Dogma, “Therefore whoever succeeds to the Chair of Peter obtains by the institution of Christ Himself, the primacy of Peter over the whole Church.”

Vatican Council of 1870, Pope Pius IX, Session 4, Chapter 4, Article 1, Ex-Cathedra Dogma, “That Apostolic primacy which the Roman Pontiff possesses as successor of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, includes also the supreme power of teaching.”

Can the Gates of Hell prevail against the Keys?

The gates of hell shall NEVER conquer the saving Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.

“Heresies and schisms have no other origin than that obedience is refused to the priest of God, and that men lose sight of the fact that there is one judge in the place of Christ in this world” (Epist. xii. ad Cornelium, n. 5). No one, therefore, unless in communion with Peter can share in his authority, since it is absurd to imagine that he who is outside can command in the Church. Wherefore Optatus of Milevis blamed the Donatists for this reason: “Against which ages (of hell) we read that Peter received the saving keys, that is to say, our prince, to whom it was said by Christ: ‘To thee will I give the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the gates of hell shall not conquer them.’ Whence is it therefore that you strive to obtain for yourselves the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven—you who fight against the chair of Peter?” (Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum, June 20, 1896)

The power to exercise (jurisdiction) is granted to bishops by a true pope. One can own a car, have gas in it, have the plates and registration, but without the keys they cannot go anywhere. Christ gave the keys directly to St. Peter following the Ascension; he did not give the keys personally to any of the other Apostles.

Bishops receive their power only through St. Peter. Pope Pius XII defined this as issuing from Divine revelation in “Mystici Corporis Christi,” so it is an infallible teaching.

Is the Papacy perpetual and eternal?

Yes, even though there is no Pope in the chair of Peter.  Even thus, Peter was the man placed in whom he established this.

Vatican I, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ, Sess. 4, July 18, 1870: “But, that the episcopacy itself might be one and undivided, and that the entire multitude of the faithful through priests closely connected with one another might be preserved in the unity of faith and communion, placing Peter over the other apostles He established in him the perpetual principle and visible foundation of both unities, upon whose strength the eternal temple might be erected, and the sublimity of the Church might rise in the firmness of this faith.” (Denz. 1821)

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