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Decrees of Vat. Ecum. Council I

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  • SESSION 4 : 18 July 1870 - First dogmatic constitution on the church of Christ
    • Chapter 4. On the infallible teaching authority of the Roman pontiff
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Chapter 4. On the infallible teaching authority of the Roman pontiff

1.      That apostolic primacy which the Roman pontiff possesses as successor of Peter, the prince of the apostles, includes also the supreme power of teaching.

o        This holy see has always maintained this,

o        the constant custom of the church demonstrates it, and

o        the ecumenical councils, particularly those in which East and West met in the union of faith and charity, have declared it.

[councils]

    So the fathers of the fourth council of Constantinople, following the footsteps of their predecessors, published this solemn profession of faith:

What is more, with the approval of the second council of Lyons, the Greeks made the following profession:

Then there is the definition of the council of Florence:

[Holy See]

    To satisfy this pastoral office, our predecessors strove unwearyingly that the saving teaching of Christ should be spread among all the peoples of the world; and with equal care they made sure that it should be kept pure and uncontaminated wherever it was received.

[Custom]

    It was for this reason that the bishops of the whole world, sometimes individually, sometimes gathered in synods, according to the long established custom of the churches and the pattern of ancient usage referred to this apostolic see those dangers especially which arose in matters concerning the faith. This was to ensure that any damage suffered by the faith should be repaired in that place above all where the faith can know no failing59.

[Holy See]

    The Roman pontiffs, too, as the circumstances of the time or the state of affairs suggested, For the holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter

Indeed, their apostolic teaching was

for they knew very well that this see of St. Peter always remains unblemished by any error, in accordance with the divine promise of our Lord and Saviour to the prince of his disciples: I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren60.

    This gift of truth and never-failing faith was therefore divinely conferred on Peter and his successors in this see so that they might discharge their exalted office for the salvation of all, and so that the whole flock of Christ might be kept away by them from the poisonous food of error and be nourished with the sustenance of heavenly doctrine. Thus the tendency to schism is removed and the whole church is preserved in unity, and, resting on its foundation, can stand firm against the gates of hell. But since in this very age when the salutary effectiveness of the apostolic office is most especially needed, not a few are to be found who disparage its authority, we judge it absolutely necessary to affirm solemnly the prerogative which the only-begotten Son of God was pleased to attach to the supreme pastoral office. Therefore,

 

 

10.  So then, should anyone, which God forbid, have the temerity to reject this definition of ours: let him be anathema.

 




55 Mt 16, 18.



56 From Pope Hormisdas's formula of the year 517 (D no. 171), see above p. 157 n. 1.



57 From Michael Palaeologus's profession of faith which was read out at the second council of Lyons (D no. 466).



58 Council of Florence, session 6 (see above p. 528). S Bernard, Ep. (Letters) 190 (PL 182, 1053).



59 Bernard, Ep. (Letters) 190 (PL 182, 1053).



60 Lk 22, 32.






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