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S. Gregory VII., Pope, sending a crown to Rudolf of Rheinfelden, to stir him up against the Emperor Henry IV., added the following line :
‘Petra dedit Petro, Petrus diadema Rodolpho,'
Baronius, Ann. It is unnecessary to carry this chain of evidence down further, though it may be largely amplified from early and later writers. It is sufficient to say that only two of the passages just cited are even patient of the Ultramontane interpretation, namely, the first citation from S. Jerome, and the fuller context of the citation from S. Leo the Great, which makes very lofty claims indeed for the Papacy. As regards S. Jerome, apart from a very old debate as to what he meant (seeing that the whole scope of the letter is an appeal to the Trinitarian teaching at Rome against the prevalent Arianism of the East, and may, therefore, be very reasonably interpreted of communion in faith with the orthodox Pope Damasus), and that the great Erasmus glosses the passage thus,
Not on Rome [was the Church built], as I think, for it might happen that Rome also should become degenerate, but upon that faith which Peter professed, which hitherto the Roman Church has preserved ;' there is the weighty fact that, even if we interpret the Epistle to Dainasus in the most hyper-Papal sense, it is sixteen years earlier than the oldest of the five other contradictory passages cited from S. Jerome, whose maturer and final opinion must be judged by them, just as S. Augustine's retractation of his first view about S. Peter being the Rock, settles his judgment on that point. And it is a weighty fact that S. Leo, when making very large claims indeed for the 'privilege of Peter,' and for himself as Peter's heir, is obliged to contradict himself by admitting that the Catholic faith is the Church's foundation.
There is, then, not merely no 'unanimous consent of the Fathers in favour of Peter being the Rock, but there is a powerful preponderance of adverse testimony. However, though some, although but few, of the Fathers do call Peter the Rock of the Church, nevertheless, this view is not open, even as a mere pious opinion, to any Roman Catholic. Two clauses of the Creed of Pius IV. bar it effectually, namely, the second, which binds to acceptance of 'apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions, and all other observances and constitutions of the same (holy Roman) Church,' and the eleventh, already cited,
obliging to the definitions of the Councils, and chiefly that of Trent.
Now the Roman Missal is a formulary of the highest authority in the Latin Church, and not only includes many ' apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions, but is the chief storehouse of observances'in worship.
But the Collect for the Vigil of SS. Peter and Paul runs thus:
• Grant, wę beseech Thee, Almighty God, that Thou wouldst not suffer us, whom thou hast established upon the rock of the Apostolic confession, to be shaken by any disturbances;' while the only evidence it contains capable of being cited on the other side is that SS. Peter and Paul are named together in the Confession, but after S. John Baptist; and again together in the Canon, infra actionem, at the head of the list of Apostles and Martyrs there commemorated.
And the Council of Trent, in its solemn decree upon the Symbol of the Faith, speaks thus, after a long preamble:
• Wherefore it [the Council] judged that the symbol of the Faith, which the Holy Roman Church uses, should be set forth in the full wording whereby it is read in all Churches, as that principle in which all who confess the faith of Christ must needs agree, and as the firm and only foundation, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail, which is of this sort : “I believe in one God," &c.' Consequently, any Roman Catholic who alleges that S. Matt. xvi. 18 refers to S. Peter's person, subjects himself to anathema, inasmuch as the Missal and the Council of Trent declare that the Rock is the faith contained in the Nicene Creed. No doubt there is a rival anathema in the Vatican decrees, awaiting those who hold the Tridentine view, but the decisions of Trent are much more certainly valid and binding in the Church of Rome than those of the Vatican, whose canonical legality is open to the most serious question, and which merely serve, by this contradiction, as a useful touchstone for Infallibility.
S. LUKE xxii. 31, 32. The next part of the inquiry is the interpretation put by the Fathers on Christ's address to S. Peter at the Last Supper, and whether they take it as a grant of infallibility and jurisdiction. There is much less evidence of any kind producible as to this text than for the preceding one, from the curious fact, familiar to all Biblical students, of the compara
tive paucity of comments on S. Luke's Gospel. However, there is quite enough to settle the question :
S. HILARY OF POITIERS, Doctor.—“As for what he said, “If it be possible," &c. (S. Matt. xxvi. 39), He taught its meaning plainly in what He says to Peter : “Behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.” For they all had to be tried by this cup of the Lord's Passion. And the Father is besought for Peter, lest his faith should fail, that at all events the grief of repentance might not be wanting to the weakness of the sinner, for in case he did repent, then this faith would not fail in him.'-De Trin. x. 38.
S. BASIL THE GREAT, Doctor.—'Thou art not more honourable than blessed Peter the Apostle. For thou canst not excel in love one who loved so vehemently as to be willing to die for Him. But because he spoke too confidently, when he said, “ Though all should be offended in Thee, yet will I never be offended,” he was given up to human cowardice, and fell into denial, instructed in caution by his fall, and taught to spare the weak by learning his own weakness; and to know clearly that just as when he was drowning in the sea, he was rescued by Christ's right hand, so when in danger of perishing in the stormy sea of offence through lack of faith, he was preserved by Christ's power, Who had moreover foretold him what would happen, saying, “Simon, Simon,” &c. And Peter, thus rebuked, was fitly aided and taught to lay aside his vanity, and to spare the weak.'— Hom. de Humilitate.
S. AMBROSE, Doctor.—The first thing to be remarked is, that S. Ambrose passes over S. Luke xxii. 31, 32 altogether in his Commentary on that Gospel-a fact inconsistent with his having attached the importance or the meaning to it which it assumes when adduced as one clause of the Petrine grant of privilege. He does explain it, however, in another part of his writings :
Peter is winnowed, that he may be forced to deny Christ. He falls into temptation, he speaks some things full, as it were, of chaff; but he spake in word that he might be better stablished in affection. At last he wept, and washed away his chaff, and by these temptations he obtained Christ's intercession for him. . . . At length Peter is set over the Church after being tempted by the Devil. And so the Lord signifies beforehand that which came to pass afterwards, in that He chose him to be shepherd of the Lord's flock. For he said to him : “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." Therefore the holy Apostle Peter was converted into good corn, and was winnowed as wheat, that he might be one bread unto the family of God for our food.'— Comm. in Ps. xliii. 41.
S. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, Doctor.—'Hear what He saith, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.” For this He said sharply reproving him, and showing that his fall was more grievous than that of the rest, and needed more help. . . . And why, if Satan desired all, did He not say concerning all, “I have prayed for you?” Is it not quite plain that it is this, which I have mentioned before, that it is as reproving him, and showing that his fall was more grievous than that of the rest, that He directs His words to him.'-Hom. 82 in Matt. xxvi.
S. AUGUSTINE, Doctor.-66 And take not the word of truth utterly out of thy mouth” (Ps. cxix. 43). The word of truth was not utterly taken out of Peter's mouth, in whom was a type of the Church, for though he denied for a time when troubled with fear, yet he was amended by weeping, and afterwards crowned by confessing. But when he says, “ Take not," it is to be understood, “Suffer not to be taken," therefore we say in praying, “ Lead us not into temptation." And the Lord Himself to Peter, “I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not;" that is, lest the word of truth be taken out of thy mouth utterly.'--Hom. xiii. in Ps. cxviii.
The text is also cited several times in relation to the Pelagian heresy, as illustrating the necessity of grace to assist man's free-will, and notably by S. Jerome, Doctor (Adv. Pelag.), S. Augustine, Doctor (De Grat. et Lib. Arb. 9), and S. Prosper (De Lib. Arbit. ad Ruffin. xi.), but they all give it a general interpretation, as illustrating a doctrine affecting every man alike, so that in absolute strictness their testimony does not help to decide the question either way, save so far as their silence makes against the Ultramontane gloss, which, in truth, cannot be traced to any earlier writer than Cardinal Bellarmine,« A.D. 1621.
S. JOHN xxi. 15–17. S. GREGORY NAZIANZEN, Doctor.—'Do you not receive repentant David, whose gift of prophecy repentance saved ? Nor the great Peter, when he suffered somewhat from human weakness in the matter of the Lord's Passion? But Jesus received him, and by the threefold questioning and confession, healed the threefold denial.' - Orat. xxxix. for Epiphany.
S. AMBROSE, Doctor.-It was said to him thrice, “Feed My sheep," as though he had covered his sin by his exceeding love. ... Finally, some have said that the triple question as to his love was put, because the denial had been triple, that the profession of love, repeated as often, might blot out the fall of the triple denial.'- Apol, David. i. ix. 50.
“Thus the threefold answer vouched for his love, or else blotted out the error of the threefold denial.' - De Obit. Theodos. 19.
S. EPIPHANIUS, Doctor.—'He became then a strong rock of the building and a foundation of the house of God, when he had denied, and had turned again, and was found by the Lord, and was counted worthy to hear, “Feed my sheep” and “Feed my lambs," and again “Feed my sheep,” for Christ, in saying this, led us to the conversion of repentance.'
S. AUGUSTINE, Doctor.—“A threefold confession is rendered for the threefold denial, lest the tongue should serve love less than it had served fear, and lest impending death should seem to have drawn out more words than present life. Let it be the duty of love to feed the Lord's flock, as it had been the token of fear to deny the Shepherd.'— Tract. in Evang. Foann. cxxiii. 5.
“Fitly, after the resurrection, the Lord committed His sheep to Peter himself to be fed. Not that he was the only one amongst the disciples who attained the feeding of the Lord's sheep, but when Christ speaks to one, unity is recommended, and to Peter first, because Peter is first of the Apostles. ... Be not sad, Apostle, answer once, answer twice, answer thrice. Let confession conquer thrice in love, as presumption was conquered thrice in fear. That must be thrice loosed which thou hadst thrice bound.'--Serm. ccxcv, 4, in Nat. SS. Petr. et Paul.
Christ saith this a second and third time, that love might thrice confess what fear had thrice denied. ... What was entrusted to Peter, what was enjoined to Peter, not Peter only, but the other Apostles also, heard, held, retained ; and especially the Apostle Paul, his fellow in martyrdom and festival. They heard these things, and handed them down for us to hear. We feed you, and are fed together with you. ... Therefore the Lord entrusted His sheep to us, in that He entrusted them to Peter. ... The Lord commended the sheep to us. We are his sheep. We are his sheep along with you, because we are Christians. I have already said it, we feed and are fed.' — Serm. ccxcvi. 3, 5, 17, in Nat. SS. Pet. et Paul.
S. CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA, Doctor.—By this triple confession of blessed Peter, his sin, consisting of a triple denial, was done away, and by the words of our Lord, “ Feed my sheep,” a renewal, as it were, of the apostleship already bestowed on him is understood to take place, taking away the shame of his after fall, and taking from him the cowardice of human frailty.'- Comm. in Evang. Foann. xxi.
S. BASIL THE GREAT, Doctor.—'And we are taught this by Christ Himself, when He was appointing Peter as shepherd of the Church after Himself; for He saith, “Peter, lovest thou Me more than these? Feed My sheep;" giving equal authority to all shepherds and teachers thenceforward. And the proof of this is that all bind and loose exactly as he did.'—Const. Monast. xxii. 5.
VENERABLE BEDE, Doctor.—“That which was said to Peter, “Feed My sheep,” was, in truth, said to them all. For the other Apostles were the same that Peter was; but the first place is given to Peter, that the unity of the Church may be commended. They were all shepherds; but the flock is shown to be one, which was then fed by all the Apostles with one mind, and since that time is fed by their successors with a common care.'—Hom. in Vigil. Petr. et Pauli.
Two facts come out very clearly in these citations. First, that the Fathers regard the commission of feeding the sheep to be not a special privilege of Peter, but given jointly to all the Apostles; and next, that what is peculiar to Peter here in