Friday, November 26, 2010

Rome's Meaningless Claim to "Unbroken Chain" Of Succession

The following is an example of Rome's claim of "unbroken succession" - provided by pope John Paul II:
Nevertheless, the Roman Pontiffs have exercised their authority in Rome and, according to the conditions and opportunities of the times, have done so in wider and even universal areas, by virtue of their succeeding Peter. Written documents do not tell us how this succession occurred in the first link connecting Peter with the series of the bishops of Rome. It can be deduced, however, by considering everything that Pope Clement states in the letter cited above regarding the appointment of the first bishops and their successors. After recalling that the apostles, "preaching in the countryside and the cities, experienced their first fruits in the Spirit and appointed them bishops and deacons of future believers" (42, 4), St. Clement says in detail that, in order to avoid future conflicts regarding the episcopal dignity, the apostles "appointed those whom we said and then ordered that, after they had died, other proven men would succeed them in their ministry" (44, 2). The historical and canonical means by which that inheritance is passed on to them can change, and have indeed changed. But over the centuries, an unbroken chain links that transition from Peter to his first successor in the Roman See.
(link)

This is a typical claim we hear from Roman Catholics all the time. It sounds great - but is either simply untrue, or totally meaningless. Before we get to the claim itself, look at the wind-up for the claim.

John Paul 2 asserts: "The historical and canonical means by which that inheritance is passed on to them can change, and have indeed changed." Let's be blunt, the reason he thinks it "can change," is the fact that way by which Roman bishops have been appointed has been repeatedly changed. There's no Biblical teaching that the way by which bishops are appointed can change. In fact, if the way by which Roman bishops hadn't changed over the years, we'd probably be told that it was an apostolic tradition that cannot be changed. That's simply an artifact of not having a single, written rule of faith.

But that's only a small part of the reason why the "unbroken chain" claim is bogus. In other words, the fact that they pick bishops today in a way that is different from 100 years ago or 1000 years ago, each of which is different from what is now (100 years ago, there was not an age limit for voting cardinals, and 1000 years ago, there was no college of cardinals) is only one aspect. That's the aspect of the mode of succession. The mode has been broken. Roman bishops are not appointed the way they used to be - and consequently when we hear about an "unbroken chain," it cannot mean that the mechanism of succession itself is unbroken.

Another aspect, and perhaps a bigger one, is the problem of what it would take to make the chain "broken."

Is it time? Ask your Roman Catholic friends (and they are welcome to answer here) how much of a gap would constitute a break. The current way of picking new bishops of Rome necessarily involves there being gaps between the reign of popes. It's not like the British monarchy, where as soon as one monarch dies, a new monarch is automatically apparent because of the rules of hereditary succession.

Thus, there are always gaps and breaks in the chain. There was a time period that elapsed between the death of John Paul II and the election of Joseph Ratzinger (who became known as Benedict XVI).

But there is no actual standard of what gap of time is acceptable, and what gap would break succession. Thus, it is simply impossible to say what gap is acceptable. For example, according to a typical list of popes (example) there was no pope during the whole years 259, 305-307, 639, 1242, 1269-1270, 1293, 1315, and 1416, not to mention the many partial years. That's over a half dozen breaks of over a year.

Being deposed? Benedict IX was deposed twice and restored. His biography states:
The nephew of his two immediate predecessors, Benedict IX was a man of very different character to either of them. He was a disgrace to the Chair of Peter. Regarding it as a sort of heirloom, his father Alberic placed him upon it when a mere youth ... .
It goes on to relate:
Taking advantage of the dissolute life he was leading, one of the factions in the city drove him from it (1044) amid the greatest disorder, and elected an antipope (Sylvester III) in the person of John, Bishop of Sabina (1045 -Ann. Romani, init. Victor, Dialogi, III, init.). Benedict, however, succeeded in expelling Sylvester the same year; but, as some say, that he might marry, he resigned his office into the hands of the Archpriest John Gratian for a large sum. John was then elected pope and became Gregory VI (May, 1045). Repenting of his bargain, Benedict endeavoured to depose Gregory. This resulted in the intervention of King Henry III. Benedict, Sylvester, and Gregory were deposed at the Council of Sutri (1046) and a German bishop (Suidger) became Pope Clement II. After his speedy demise, Benedict again seized Rome (November, 1047), but was driven from it to make way for a second German pope, Damasus II (November, 1048).
(source for biography)

Being outrageously sinful? Alexander VI was another pope who allegedly obtained his position through simony, but that's not perhaps the worst of it. He not only openly acknowledged his children (yes, of course he was not married), but even used his political strength to try either to benefit or exploit them. A very favorable Roman biography of him touches on the matter in this delicate way:
Notwithstanding these and similar actions, which might seem to entitle him to no mean place in the annals of the papacy, Alexander continued as Pope the manner of life that had disgraced his cardinalate (Pastor, op. cit., III, 449 152). A stern Nemesis pursued him till death in the shape of a strong parental affection for his children.
It goes on to say:
An impartial appreciation of the career of this extraordinary person must at once distinguish between the man and the office. "An imperfect setting", says Dr. Pastor (op. cit., III, 475), "does not affect the intrinsic worth of the jewel, nor does the golden coin lose its value when it passes through impure hands. In so far as the priest is a public officer of a holy Church, a blameless life is expected from him, both because he is by his office the model of virtue to whom the laity look up, and because his life, when virtuous, inspires in onlookers respect for the society of which he is an ornament. But the treasures of the Church, her Divine character, her holiness, Divine revelation, the grace of God, spiritual authority, it is well known, are not dependent on the moral character of the agents and officers of the Church. The foremost of her priests cannot diminish by an iota the intrinsic value of the spiritual treasures confided to him." There have been at all times wicked men in the ecclesiastical ranks. Our Lord foretold, as one of its severest trials, the presence in His Church not only of false brethren, but of rulers who would offend, by various forms of selfishness, both the children of the household and "those who are without". Similarly, He compared His beloved spouse, the Church, to a threshing floor, on which fall both chaff and grain until the time of separation. The most severe arraignments of Alexander, because in a sense official, are those of his Catholic contemporaries, Pope Julius II (Gregorovius, VII, 494) and the Augustinian cardinal and reformer, Aegidius of Viterbo, in his manuscript "Historia XX Saeculorum", preserved at Rome in the Bibliotheca Angelica. The Oratorian Raynaldus (d. 1677), who continued the semi-official Annals of Baronius, gave to the world at Rome (ad an. 1460, no. 41) the above-mentioned paternal but severe reproof of the youthful Cardinal by Pius II, and stated elsewhere (ad an. 1495, no. 26) that it was in his time the opinion of historians that Alexander had obtained the papacy partly through money and partly through promises and the persuasion that he would not interfere with the lives of his electors. Mansi, the scholarly Archbishop of Lucca editor and annotator of Raynaldus, says (XI, 4155) that it is easier to keep silence than to write write moderation about this Pope. The severe judgment of the late Cardinal Hergenröther, in his "Kirchengeschichte", or Manual of Church History (4th. ed., Freiburg, 1904, II, 982-983) is too well known to need more than mention.

So little have Catholic historians defended him that in the middle of the nineteenth century Cesare Cantù could write that Alexander VI was the only Pope who had never found an apologist.
(source for biography)

Being a heretic? Honorius I was condemned as a monophosite heretic by centuries of Roman bishops. (see the linked article)

Leaving Rome? For about 70 years (and seven popes), the seat of the papacy was not in Rome but in Avignon, France (see the linked article).

Needing an Ecumenical Council to Jump-Start it? Among the tasks of the Council of Constance (considered the 15th Ecumenical Council by the Roman church) was to, in effect, decide who got to be pope, thereby ending a three-way dispute that had been on-going (link to discussion of council from a Roman Catholic perspective).

How much more broken could it really get? I guess the things above could have happened more often or for longer periods of time - but is that really the appropriate measure of things? I think the short answer is that the claim of an "unbroken chain" of succession is just hot air - an empty claim supported by nothing but the wishful thinking of those who support Rome.

-TurretinFan

28 comments:

steve said...

In addition, it's grossly anachronistic to apply a statement by Clement of Rome to a situation centuries after the fact. Clement was not a prophet. He could only speak from the viewpoint of what he knew about the past and present situation, not the distant future.

natamllc said...

What's that old saw? "You can fool all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but, you cannot fool all of the people all of the time!"

This thread and history prove just how real and true that old saw is, sharp as ever!

From the letter by John Paul 2, Jan. 23, 1993:

"... They would be charged with the same pastoral mission and equipped with the same power, beginning with the mission and power of being Rock--the visible principle of unity in faith, love and the ministry of evangelization, sanctification and leadership entrusted to the Church."

His argument defies the argument of the Scriptures.

daaaa!

A couple of word pictures then:

Isa 6:11 Then I said, "How long, O Lord?" And he said: "Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste,
Isa 6:12 and the LORD removes people far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.
Isa 6:13 And though a tenth remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains when it is felled." The holy seed is its stump.


Here we see similar "disconnections" on the earth with the system Moses and Aaron, Joshua and Caleb were tasked to bring into being and establish.

The second thing I would note about continuity and a Biblically taught unbroken connectivity between that holy seed, Who, at times, is simply "a stump" during a generation or two or three is this:

We read in the Book of Acts where both the Holy Spirit and Jesus Himself prevented the Apostle Paul from going into certain regions of the world. They stopped him and his group dead in their tracks.

Why?

Well, when you read where those places are that Paul wanted to enter into to dutifully preach and teach the Truth of the Gospel of the Kingdom, now that he was set free from works righteousness and read where the Apostle Peter's territories were Jesus was sending him and his group, to preach and teach the Truth of the Gospel of the Kingdom, you should be able to logically realize that Jesus Christ is the Rock Who is given the Father's Mandate to build the Church where He wills it built and by whom, not Peter, as the deluded and deceived RCC wants to you believe.

The consistency and continuity of His Grace going forth is an Eternal reality known to humanity in the generations of life lived on earth, as an earth dweller or as a sojourner, one or the other, because you cannot be both.

As we learn from Genesis, the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, has been here from the beginning. Jesus was sent here in the fullness of time to fulfill the prophecy. Jesus, quite united in Spirit with Our Heavenly Father, the Holy Spirit and countless numbers of Saints and Elect Angels, Saints who have passed on to Glory or Saints alive and well in the present tense on earth on that great day of the Lord, as is recorded here:

Heb 9:27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,
Heb 9:28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.


There has never been a disconnect between Christ and His Church in any generation, now and never. The Holy Spirit has been present in the world from the get go!

The troubling part of this historical scenario is that the Appearance of the Lord Himself falls on these sorts of souls, too, as revealed by John, here:

Rev 1:7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

Yes, Rome's claims are meaningless and history proves it so as you do as well! :)

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"How much more broken could it really get?"

You could have a Pope who's a pedophile.

dustingermain said...

The history of the papacy is messy and convoluted. All we mean by unbroken is that every pope has been validly ordained and consecrated while sitting in the office of Peter. For the line to be broken entirely, there would have to be no valid bishops in the entire world capable of consecrating another bishop.

Turretinfan said...

Dustin:

All Presbyterians and most "Protestants" can legitimately make the same claim (i.e. the currently ordained men were ordained by men who were obtained by men who ordained ... by the apostles who were ordained by Jesus) - if that's all the claim is supposed to mean.

- TurretinFan

thehasbeenhymn said...

Yes, but take your time between pope claim. This is a semantic argument, There is *always* a gap between popes. There were two weeks between JP2 and B16. It is unbroken insofar as the *office* has not been *destroyed*. I know that this is not a particularly useful distinction, but basically, unbroken does not mean there is always a pope, but always an office.

natamllc said...

The Office is Eternal.

Christ is the High Priest of the Office, hence the debate between "who" carries the power and authority of the Office on earth while He resides presently in Glory, the Glory He left to establish the Office, known about before the foundation of the world.

As the Mosaic offices were temporal and only functioned to bring us to know our permanent temporal sinful nature, hence the office of the High Priest, who once a year offered an atoning sacrifice for the "previous" year's sins, year after year.

But of Christ and His High Priestly Office, we learn by the Scriptures, thus:

Heb 9:8 By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing
Heb 9:9 (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper,
Heb 9:10 but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.
Heb 9:11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation)
Heb 9:12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
Heb 9:13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh,
Heb 9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
Heb 9:15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.

... Heb 9:24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
Heb 9:25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own,
Heb 9:26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Heb 9:27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,
Heb 9:28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.


The insult and injury is this false religion that has this chain of custody with continual breaks of authority because of the continual death of one pope and installation of the successor pope!

My question is why should we choose that lessor religious system, the RCC, when we have Christ holding His Priesthood permanently?

steve said...

dustingermain said...

"The history of the papacy is messy and convoluted. All we mean by unbroken is that every pope has been validly ordained and consecrated while sitting in the office of Peter."

Since valid ordination is contingent on both the right intent of the officiate and the right intent of the ordinand, how could you possibly determine if an ordination was valid or invalid? That turns on the private intent of the two interested parties. You don't have access to their mental states.

thehasbeenhymn said...

TurretinFan, we believe apostolic succession to have been broken in many -- but not all -- protestant groups. Due to a shift in the theology of sacrament, it is likely -- but not certain, of course -- that at some point in the line, an ordaining bishop would have viewed the event as ceremonial, and not sacramental. Thus, his intent would not have been to confer a sacrament he did not believe existed.

Beyond that, we believe only validly consecrated bishops have the power to ordain priests or consecrate other bishops, so the line breaks apart further there. If Joe Johnson, minister of the local Methodist establishment, ordains Bob Walker as a minister, well, it's a nice ceremony, but it isn't a sacrament, both because the theology of sacrament -- and thus the intent -- is not present, and neither is a valid celebrant of the sacrament.

We maintained Anglican orders to be valid for a rather long period of time, but have since declared them invalid -- I do not know why, but it has something to do with changes in the ceremony that are viewed to be insufficient (in much the same way we don't hold baptisms done "in the name of the creator, redeemer, and sanctifier" to be valid baptisms), and I believe this is the same with Lutherans. There *are*, however, some groups which we do believe to have valid apostolic succession. The Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, the Union of Utrecht, the Polish National Catholic Church, and others comprise this group.

I am unaware of the situation with the Presbyterians, but it's probably similar to the case above -- lacking a view of the sacrament of holy orders, the intent to confer the sacrament dissipated.

natamllc said...

Beyond that, we believe only validly consecrated bishops have the power to ordain priests or consecrate other bishops, so the line breaks apart further there.

Ah, take that one up with the Apostle Paul.

Your reasoning always ends up in the dirt and is ungodly according to Scripture!

God has not limited Himself in ordaining anyone and as TF noted above, our view is based on the Hand of God and as I noted with the verses from Hebrews, the Hand of God puts us in the eternal inheritance.

The relationship between Eternal Life and the eternal inheritance is basis repentance and the forgiveness of sins, not the methods of an earthly religious order, which is what the RCC amounts to and has become.

The RCC is another earthly method while Biblical Christianity is not of this world, worldly and of the flesh, but from above whereby God has changed us so that we become sojourners looking for that City of Promise without looking at our works of righteousness to get us there!

Heb 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
Heb 11:14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.
Heb 11:15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return.
Heb 11:16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.


For everyone who reads this and hears this Gospel of the Kingdom it is for you too to lead you to true repentance and by so doing you are receiving the forgiveness of your sins whereby you come into a personal and eternal relationship daily with God Our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ our Lord in the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit in this life and the next!

Turretinfan said...

"Yes, but take your time between pope claim. This is a semantic argument, There is *always* a gap between popes. There were two weeks between JP2 and B16. It is unbroken insofar as the *office* has not been *destroyed*. I know that this is not a particularly useful distinction, but basically, unbroken does not mean there is always a pope, but always an office."

I love this explanation. Always an office! And even those people who think the entire church fell into apostasy can make the same claim - that there was always the office of bishop/elder, even if there were no elders for a period of time.

An unbroken chain of succession, however, does not refer to the office, but to the men in the office. That's apparent from the use of the word "chain."

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

"TurretinFan, we believe apostolic succession to have been broken in many -- but not all -- protestant groups."

And figuring out what broke it in "protestant groups" will help to figure out what it takes to break it ...

"Due to a shift in the theology of sacrament, it is likely -- but not certain, of course -- that at some point in the line, an ordaining bishop would have viewed the event as ceremonial, and not sacramental."

Sacramental theology has changed throughout the history of Western theology. Augustine's view of sacraments is not the same as Benedict XVI's, for example. If that breaks it for "protestant groups," it breaks it for Roman groups too.

"Thus, his intent would not have been to confer a sacrament he did not believe existed."

See my comment about Augustine above.

"Beyond that, we believe only validly consecrated bishops have the power to ordain priests or consecrate other bishops, so the line breaks apart further there."

So, does the validity of each of the links in the papal chain depend on whether the bishops that ordained those popes were themselves validly ordained bishops? You're starting to sound a bit Donatistic to me.

"If Joe Johnson, minister of the local Methodist establishment, ordains Bob Walker as a minister, well, it's a nice ceremony, but it isn't a sacrament, both because the theology of sacrament -- and thus the intent -- is not present, and neither is a valid celebrant of the sacrament."

I think you'd probably have a problem getting the chain started if you demand a full understanding of modern Roman sacramental theology of the ancients.

"We maintained Anglican orders to be valid for a rather long period of time, but have since declared them invalid -- I do not know why, but it has something to do with changes in the ceremony that are viewed to be insufficient (in much the same way we don't hold baptisms done "in the name of the creator, redeemer, and sanctifier" to be valid baptisms), and I believe this is the same with Lutherans. There *are*, however, some groups which we do believe to have valid apostolic succession. The Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, the Union of Utrecht, the Polish National Catholic Church, and others comprise this group."

See above.

"I am unaware of the situation with the Presbyterians, but it's probably similar to the case above -- lacking a view of the sacrament of holy orders, the intent to confer the sacrament dissipated."

Same comments as above.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

"There is *always* a gap between popes."

When the mode of succession was that the most senior "presbyter" became known as the "bishop" upon the death of the oldest bishop, there was no gap at all.

When the mode of succession was appointment by Jesus or the apostles, there was no "gap," though eventually there was discontinuity.

-TurretinFan

thehasbeenhymn said...

Hmmm. Fair enough, I'll concede some of that, but I'd like to make clear something that I did not think to mention earlier: the unbroken line of succession is principally referring to *apostolic* succession, and not *papal* succession. We point to an unbroken chain of *bishops* going back to the *apostles*, not a necessarily unbroken line of *popes*. There have been numerous and lengthy breaks between papacies, but throughout, the laying-on of hands from bishop to bishop continued unabated.

Viisaus said...

"Since valid ordination is contingent on both the right intent of the officiate and the right intent of the ordinand, how could you possibly determine if an ordination was valid or invalid? That turns on the private intent of the two interested parties. You don't have access to their mental states."


Yes, this Tridentine "Doctrine of Intention" is in my opinion the ultimate Joker card in the tragic farce that is Romanist theology - the factor that in Saturnalian manner can turn upside down and cancel out all out EVERYTHING ELSE that Rome's pompous sacramental theology otherwise asserts. It's almost like Devil's little inside joke at the expense of his Romanist dupes.

As Richard Littledale explains:

http://www.archive.org/details/plainreasonsaga01littgoog

pp. 13-14

"But the uncertainty which hangs over every rite and ceremony in the Roman Church is not one which could be cleared up by finding a paper, or any number of papers; it is of the very essence of the whole system, and cannot be set right anyhow. It is due to the doctrine of Intention, peculiar to the Church of Rome, and decreed, under anathema for rejecting it, by the Council of Trent (Sess. vii., Can. il), according to which it is necessary that the bishop or priest who performs any religious ceremony should inwardly mean to do what the Church intends to be done in and by that ceremony. If the minister withhold this inward assent, either from personal unbelief, from ill-will, or any other cause, the act is null and void, and conveys no grace whatever.

And so Cardinal Bellarmine, one of the most learned, able, and famous of Roman Catholic divines, says: —

"No one can be certain, with the certainty of faith, that he receives a true sacrament, because the sacrament cannot be valid without the intention of the minister, and no man can see another's intention" ("Disput. Controv. De Justine." III. viii. 5).

What this practically means is that no Roman Catholic can be sure that he himself has ever been baptized, confirmed, absolved, or given Holy Communion; for even if he be morally certain of the honesty and piety of the bishops and priests who have professed to do these things for him, he has no warrant at all that they have been validly ordained, since the Bishop who professed to ordain them may have withheld his intention, or have himself in turn been invalidly consecrated. And indeed, the frequent Roman practice of having but one consecrator of a bishop imports another uncertainty into Roman orders, for Liguori lays down that priests ordained by a bishop who has had but one consecrator are doubtfully ordained ("Theol. Mor." VI. ii. 755)."

thehasbeenhymn said...

1) The donatist thing is ridiculous. Donatism concerned how to deal with apostates, and the donatists maintained that apostates lost their apostolic faculties. We do not believe this, and consider rogue bishops something of a problem precisely because they may celebrate valid sacraments.

2) Theology grows and changes. I'm not insisting on modern theology existing throughout time, because we believe theology goes from less-full to more-full, not wrong to right. Augustine's conception of the sacraments, by virtue of having lived 1700 years ago, would be less complete than Benedict's. While I can't say exactly how this works out on a sacramental level, neither having an education in those details we *have* reasoned out nor being God and thus not needing that education, I can say that we believe God supernaturally protects his church, and thus that the succession has been preserved despite flaws in human understanding. If this means that apostolic succession may exist in some form in those places where it does not seem to is not for me to say, but I won't deny it to be at least a possibility. In the end, though, at the very center of the sacrament of holy orders is that it exists to perpetuate the Eucharist. The bishop is the protopriest of a local church, from which all the other priests derive their authority. If he doesn't have apostolic succession, the sacraments don't proceed. Basically, then, the meat of the theology is that a bishop exists that the sacraments may be celebrated.

3) I'm not sure what your objection about the senior presbyter succeeding to the episcopacy has to do with *anything*. The idea is not that there must always at all times be a pope, but that the succession of valid bishops possessing apostolic authority be preserved so that the sacraments may be validly celebrated. The church can, and has, proceed without a pope; it cannot proceed without bishops.

Viisaus said...

"Since valid ordination is contingent on both the right intent of the officiate and the right intent of the ordinand, how could you possibly determine if an ordination was valid or invalid? That turns on the private intent of the two interested parties. You don't have access to their mental states."


Yes, this Tridentine "Doctrine of Intention" is in my opinion the ultimate Joker card in the tragic farce that is Romanist theology - the factor that in Saturnalian manner can turn upside down and cancel out EVERYTHING ELSE that Rome's pompous sacramental theology otherwise asserts. It's almost like Devil's little inside joke at the expense of his Romanist dupes.

As Richard Littledale explains:

http://www.archive.org/details/plainreasonsaga01littgoog

pp. 13-14

"But the uncertainty which hangs over every rite and ceremony in the Roman Church is not one which could be cleared up by finding a paper, or any number of papers; it is of the very essence of the whole system, and cannot be set right anyhow. It is due to the doctrine of Intention, peculiar to the Church of Rome, and decreed, under anathema for rejecting it, by the Council of Trent (Sess. vii., Can. il), according to which it is necessary that the bishop or priest who performs any religious ceremony should inwardly mean to do what the Church intends to be done in and by that ceremony. If the minister withhold this inward assent, either from personal unbelief, from ill-will, or any other cause, the act is null and void, and conveys no grace whatever.

And so Cardinal Bellarmine, one of the most learned, able, and famous of Roman Catholic divines, says: —

"No one can be certain, with the certainty of faith, that he receives a true sacrament, because the sacrament cannot be valid without the intention of the minister, and no man can see another's intention" ("Disput. Controv. De Justine." III. viii. 5).

What this practically means is that no Roman Catholic can be sure that he himself has ever been baptized, confirmed, absolved, or given Holy Communion; for even if he be morally certain of the honesty and piety of the bishops and priests who have professed to do these things for him, he has no warrant at all that they have been validly ordained, since the Bishop who professed to ordain them may have withheld his intention, or have himself in turn been invalidly consecrated. And indeed, the frequent Roman practice of having but one consecrator of a bishop imports another uncertainty into Roman orders, for Liguori lays down that priests ordained by a bishop who has had but one consecrator are doubtfully ordained ("Theol. Mor." VI. ii. 755)."

Viisaus said...

"Since valid ordination is contingent on both the right intent of the officiate and the right intent of the ordinand, how could you possibly determine if an ordination was valid or invalid? That turns on the private intent of the two interested parties. You don't have access to their mental states."


Yes, this Tridentine "Doctrine of Intention" is in my opinion the ultimate Joker card in the tragic farce that is Romanist theology - the factor that in Saturnalian manner can turn upside down and cancel out EVERYTHING ELSE that Rome's pompous sacramental theology otherwise asserts. It's almost like Devil's little inside joke at the expense of his Romanist dupes.

As Richard Littledale explains:

http://www.archive.org/details/plainreasonsaga01littgoog

pp. 13-14

"But the uncertainty which hangs over every rite and ceremony in the Roman Church is not one which could be cleared up by finding a paper, or any number of papers; it is of the very essence of the whole system, and cannot be set right anyhow. It is due to the doctrine of Intention, peculiar to the Church of Rome, and decreed, under anathema for rejecting it, by the Council of Trent (Sess. vii., Can. il), according to which it is necessary that the bishop or priest who performs any religious ceremony should inwardly mean to do what the Church intends to be done in and by that ceremony. If the minister withhold this inward assent, either from personal unbelief, from ill-will, or any other cause, the act is null and void, and conveys no grace whatever.

And so Cardinal Bellarmine, one of the most learned, able, and famous of Roman Catholic divines, says: —

"No one can be certain, with the certainty of faith, that he receives a true sacrament, because the sacrament cannot be valid without the intention of the minister, and no man can see another's intention" ("Disput. Controv. De Justine." III. viii. 5).

What this practically means is that no Roman Catholic can be sure that he himself has ever been baptized, confirmed, absolved, or given Holy Communion; for even if he be morally certain of the honesty and piety of the bishops and priests who have professed to do these things for him, he has no warrant at all that they have been validly ordained, since the Bishop who professed to ordain them may have withheld his intention, or have himself in turn been invalidly consecrated. And indeed, the frequent Roman practice of having but one consecrator of a bishop imports another uncertainty into Roman orders, for Liguori lays down that priests ordained by a bishop who has had but one consecrator are doubtfully ordained ("Theol. Mor." VI. ii. 755)."

Turretinfan said...

"1) The donatist thing is ridiculous. Donatism concerned how to deal with apostates, and the donatists maintained that apostates lost their apostolic faculties. We do not believe this, and consider rogue bishops something of a problem precisely because they may celebrate valid sacraments."

I realize you are trying to distinguish yourself from the Donatists, and I don't be grudge you the right to try - but the Donatists were attempting to deny valid ordination to others on grounds that related to those administering the ordination. Even if you think there are differences, perhaps you can also see the similarities.

"2) Theology grows and changes. I'm not insisting on modern theology existing throughout time, because we believe theology goes from less-full to more-full, not wrong to right. Augustine's conception of the sacraments, by virtue of having lived 1700 years ago, would be less complete than Benedict's. While I can't say exactly how this works out on a sacramental level, neither having an education in those details we *have* reasoned out nor being God and thus not needing that education, I can say that we believe God supernaturally protects his church, and thus that the succession has been preserved despite flaws in human understanding. If this means that apostolic succession may exist in some form in those places where it does not seem to is not for me to say, but I won't deny it to be at least a possibility. In the end, though, at the very center of the sacrament of holy orders is that it exists to perpetuate the Eucharist. The bishop is the protopriest of a local church, from which all the other priests derive their authority. If he doesn't have apostolic succession, the sacraments don't proceed. Basically, then, the meat of the theology is that a bishop exists that the sacraments may be celebrated."

It seems reasonable to me to object (if your grounds for saying that ordination is invalid because the person ordaining does not share your sacramental theology) that the ancients did not share your sacramental theology. My point is not to forbid a fuller understanding to you (though your modern doctrines are not, in fact, fuller), but to point out that requiring that "protestant groups" agree more closely with your theology than with the apostles' theology in order to have valid ordination seems absurd.

"3) I'm not sure what your objection about the senior presbyter succeeding to the episcopacy has to do with *anything*. The idea is not that there must always at all times be a pope, but that the succession of valid bishops possessing apostolic authority be preserved so that the sacraments may be validly celebrated. The church can, and has, proceed without a pope; it cannot proceed without bishops."

I'm just pointing out that it would conceptually be possible to have an unbroken chain of succession. Of course, Rome doesn't have such a chain - but that's part of my point. It's a hollow claim.

-TurretinFan

Viisaus said...

The Council of Trent's dogma concerning the "Doctrine of Intention" (Session 7, Canon 11):

"CANON XI. - If any one saith, that, in ministers, when they effect, and confer the sacraments, there is not required the intention at least of doing what the Church does; let him be anathema."


... and here's John Calvin's commentary on this Tridentine canon:

http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/sdg/calvin_trentantidote.html

"The lavishness with which they pour out their anathemas shows that they set little value upon them. Their prattle about the intention of consecrating was produced by the sophists without any show of reason.

This, though not tolerable, would be less grievous, if it did not utterly overthrow whatever solid comfort believers have in the Sacraments, and suspend the truth of God on the will of man: for if the intention of the minister is necessary, none of us can be certain of his Baptism — none approach the Holy Supper with sure confidence.

I was baptized — if it so pleased the priest, whose good faith is no more known to me than that of any Ethiopian! Whether the promise of Christ in the Holy Supper is to be good to me, depends on the nod of a man whom I do not know. What kind of faith can it be that depends on the secret will of another? And yet this herd fear not to threaten us with windy anathemas, if we do not on the instant subscribe to such blasphemies. Such is my deference for the holy ordinance of Christ, that if some epicurean, inwardly grinning at the whole performance, were to administer the Supper to me according to the command of Christ and the rule given by him, and in due form, I would not doubt that the bread and the cup held forth by his hand are pledges to me of the body and the blood of Christ.

It is painful to discuss such silliness, as when they say, “at least of doing what the Church does.” Here they reach other dictates of their masters. Who that has his eyes sees not that this is just equivalent to enjoining in one word all that monks have ever dreamed ill their dens or sophists babbled in their quarrels? How stupid and absurd soever they may be, they must nevertheless be held firm and sure."

natamllc said...

Viisaus,

I believe one can get a sense of the heart and mind of the Lord from the hand of Isaiah after reading your bit above. Here is the Word of the Lord as Isaiah wrote it:

Isa 2:1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
Isa 2:2 It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it,
Isa 2:3 and many peoples shall come, and say: "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Isa 2:22 Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?


One gets a sense that God wants us to live by the same Faith as Jacob lived by and stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath!

Daaaa!

As some of us know being enlightened, one pleases God by living by the Faith once delivered to the Saints. It worked for Jacob. It is still producing fruits today!

Here's a more practical down to earth point of view on this matter:

Rom 14:22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves.
Rom 14:23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

Fredericka said...

"You could have a Pope who's a pedophile."

Wasn't Julius III a pedophile?

Turretinfan said...

Some of Rome's defenders are quick to point out that "pedophilia" is technically related to having relations with those under 13, as opposed to Julius III's boy who was apparently (according to the allegations) around 13 when he was picked up.

PeaceByJesus said...

It is thus manifest that the claim of "unbroken successors" which is used to validate a perpetuated Petrine papacy via ecclesiastical papal progeny, includes a number to popes which would not be allowed to be or remain as church members, let alone valid clergy.

"But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat ..Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person. " (1 Corinthians 5:11,13)

The GAP clause is also valid point, as it potentially could be extended even more, and like unanimous consent of the fathers," shows what can happen when me declare that they are infallible whenever theory speak in accordance with their infallibly defined formula. Its definitions are thus rendered incontrovertible, if they do say so themselves.

But i agree that God can raise up from stones believers by which he builds His church, by that essential faith in the Christ which Peter expressed.

hasbeenhymn said...

"I realize you are trying to distinguish yourself from the Donatists, and I don't be grudge you the right to try - but the Donatists were attempting to deny valid ordination to others on grounds that related to those administering the ordination. Even if you think there are differences, perhaps you can also see the similarities"

The problem with the Donatists is that they maintained that sacraments were invalid unless the celebrant was in a state of grace, which has to its core a faulty idea of who the person administering the sacrament is. Either the sacrament proceeds from the power of the priest or the power of Christ. They had absolutely nothing to say about ordination and everything to say about sin and the sacraments.

"It seems reasonable to me to object [if your grounds for saying that ordination is invalid because the person ordaining does not share your sacramental theolog] that the ancients did not share your sacramental theology. My point is not to forbid a fuller understanding to you [though your modern doctrines are not, in fact, fuller], but to point out that requiring that "protestant groups" agree more closely with your theology than with the apostles' theology in order to have valid ordination seems absurd."


I don't know why you put protestant groups in scare quotes, as I am in fact talking about groups composed principally of protestants.

You will recall that that particular aspect of the debate is one I have already admitted I can't speak on with the slightest authority as I have not given it much depth of study. As for how absurd it is, though, we both clearly maintain our theologies are in line with historic Christianity; the principal difference is that you think the Apostles are ex officio more right than anyone else. Proximity to Christ does not a wise man make, and neither does an earlier thinker necessarily have better answers than a later one purely due to a closeness to the source. A principal claim, as I explained, of Catholic thought is that we are, in fact, growing in our understanding. Disagree with that claim all you want, but once accepted, it follows that Catholicism today has a better understanding of who Christ was and what he taught than the Church did in AD37. Whether or not you accept the root of the claim, the conclusion -- that our sacramental theology is more developed toward perfection than the Apostles' was, and therefore that the measure of does, in fact, belong to the Church today -- is not absurd.

As I've said. I do not fully understand, as I have not explored them in great depth, the reasoning behind the conclusion, so I am ultimately ill-equipped to argue it. I have also read that certain changes -- I do not know the details -- to ordination ceremonies among the Anglicans has invalided their subsequent orders, but again, I lack the education to discuss it in any depth.

I don't, however, think that it is absolutely absurd to say that the abandonment of even the vaguest concept of a sacramental theology would necessarily mean no sacraments would be conferred.

"I'm just pointing out that it would conceptually be possible to have an unbroken chain of succession. Of course, Rome doesn't have such a chain - but that's part of my point. It's a hollow claim."

No, you seem to be confusing the Papacy with Apostolic succession. These are not the same thing.

Turretinfan said...

On the Donatists and their issues with ordination, see this passage.

I used quotation marks for "protestant groups" because I was quoting you.

As far as the issue of me confusing the categories, I anticipated that objection (it's a typical objection whenever a difficult question is framed) and consequently cited John Paul II so that it would be clear that these ideas are not simply my ideas of what your theology is, but his ideas of what your theology is.

-TurretinFan

Stephen Galanis said...

And it's not just a succession of bishops that is claimed by Rome, but that there's some apostolic power invested in the bishop of Rome such that we must yield the same obedience to him as the apostles. After all, the Copts in Egypt can trace an unbroken succession from an apostle too, so Catholics are hardly going to say that succession is the sole criterion for authority. No, it is more than that. Magical powers have to be handed down from Peter to his successors. Given the gap between each papacy, isn't it worth asking where those magical powers go? Who has them in a papal interregnum, or where are they stored? It's no good for a Catholic to say Francis inherited the papal prerogatives to teach and rule from Tarcisio Bertone, and it's no good for Catholics to say God somehow zaps each new legitimate pope upon his election with these powers, because that's not a succession at all. The Catholic succession argument doesn't hinge on proving a line of bishops, but on proving apostle-bishops. The story goes that Rome must be obeyed because only Rome has apostolic authority... so where does it go during a papal interregnum? Anyone?

Peace By JESUS said...

I would like to add to this dated thread a bit some interesting history from the CE article you reference on the Council of Constance, relative to the gap and different means by which broken is defined as unbroken:

The Western Schism was thus at an end, after nearly forty years of disastrous life; one pope (Gregory XII) had voluntarily abdicated; another (John XXIII) had been suspended and then deposed, but had submitted in canonical form; the third claimant (Benedict XIII) was cut off from the body of the Church, "a pope without a Church, a shepherd without a flock" (Hergenröther-Kirsch). It had come about that, whichever of the three claimants of the papacy was the legitimate successor of Peter, there reigned throughout the Church a universal uncertainty and an intolerable confusion, so that saints and scholars and upright souls were to be found in all three obediences. On the principle that a doubtful pope is no pope, the Apostolic See appeared really vacant, and under the circumstances could not possibly be otherwise filled than by the action of a general council.

Under the circumstances the usual form of papal election by the cardinals alone (see CONCLAVE) was impossible..

It also notes that Æneas Sylvius (later Pius II) said that both Hus and Jerome of Prague, condemned to death by Rome die to theological dissent, went to their deaths as men invited to a banquet. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04288a.htm

Like those who were sawn asunder due to their faith (Heb. 11:35), these "separated brethren" died in faith, rather than deny the word of God.