Papacy & Catholic Hierarchy

When I was last on Catholic Answers Live last week Constantine Regas called in to defend the Eastern Orthodox position against the Catholic Church’s teaching on Peter and the Primacy of Rome. Constantine’s words are in BLUE and my responses are in BLACK. I appreciated Constantine’s irenic tone and honest demeanor. 

CONSTANTINE REGAS (CR): I called the “Catholic Answers Live” show last Monday to clarify the Orthodox position on authority in the Church.

STEVE RAY (SR): I remember Constantine. And the studio cut us off before we got very far in our conversation.

CR: My exact question was that, if Christ gave St Peter the Keys to the Kingdom, why isn’t the current Bishop of Antioch the head of the universal Church since St Peter was the founding bishop of that city several years before he became the bishop of Rome? Part of your response was that he was also the first bishop of Jerusalem. The Apostle James was Jerusalem’s first bishop.

SR: Jesus promised him the keys to Peter in Matthew 16:19. The Royal Steward steps up to his position of authority when appointed, especially to fill in for the King in his absence. Once Jesus ascended into heaven and the Holy Spirit fell Peter picked up those keys and exercised his authority on the day of Pentecost. From that point on we hear no words of the other Eleven. Except for Paul, none of the others have any recorded words in Acts. Peter is the Bishop, the Pope and the visible Head of the Church from that point.

In his massive history of the Church, Warren Carroll gives a very cogent outline of Peter’s movements. You can read this list here as I provided in my book Upon this Rock.

30 AD Death and Resurrection of Jesus
30-37 Peter head of the Church in Jerusalem
38-39 Peter’s Missionary journeys along Mediterranean Coast and Samaria
40-41 Peter in Antioch
42 Imprisonment in Jerusalem and departure to “another place.’
42-49 First sojourn to Rome
49 Expulsion from Rome by edict of Claudius
49-50 In Jerusalem for the Apostolic Council (Acts 15)
50–54 In Antioch, Bithynia, Pontus, Asia, and Cappadocia (or some of them)
54–57 Second sojourn in Rome; Gospel of Mark written under Peter’s direction
57–62 In Bithynia, Pontus, and Cappadocia (or some of them); Mark in Alexandria, Egypt
62–67 Third sojourn in Rome; canonical Epistles of Peter; Mark with Peter in Rome
67 Martyrdom in Rome and burial near the Necropolis at the Vatican

You say that the Apostle James was the first bishop of Jerusalem. If you referring to James the son of Zebedee, you are incorrect because he was killed by the sword about 42 AD as recorded in Acts 12:2. The James that became bishop of Jerusalem was James “the Lord’s brother” (Gal 1:19). He was referred to as James the Righteous. He became bishop of Jerusalem after Peter’s departure for Antioch around 40-41.

Doctor of the Church, St. John Chrysostom (an Eastern bishop) says, “‘And having spoken thus,’ the Evangelist declared, ‘he said, “Follow me.” ’ In these words He was once again referring indirectly to His solicitude for Peter and to the fact that He was on terms of intimate friendship with him. And, if someone should say: ‘How is it, then, that it was James who received the bishop’s chair in Jerusalem?’ I would make this reply: that Christ appointed this man [Peter], not merely to a chair, but as teacher of the world.” (John Chrysostom, Commentary on Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist: Homilies 48–88, trans. Thomas Aquinas Goggin, vol. 41, The Fathers of the Church (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1959), 473.)

Peter was the leader of Jerusalem for 10 years before going to Antioch for 2 years then ending up as the leader of the Church in Rome about 42 AD.

CR: The point I was making is that primacy of honor (not authority which rests with Christ alone) was given to the bishop of Rome because it was capital of the empire.

SR: Unfortunately, you are incorrect again. Never was the phrase “primacy of honor” used until after the Eastern churches broke away from Rome, took a new name (Orthodox) and used this phrase as a justification for rejecting the honorary and jurisdictional authority of Rome. One only needs to read history to find the Eastern churches in heresy for much of their existence and always depending on Rome to establish the truth of the faith and to appoint orthodox bishops in Eastern churches.

Rome was established as the See of Peter because Peter chose it to be. Jerusalem had become a backwater city after the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus and the 10th Legion. Yes, Rome was the capital of the Empire and the hub of the wheel (“all roads lead to Rome”). Peter and Paul established the Church of Rome by their blood and it was by their appointment, the See of Peter and the Head of the Church.

Of course, Jesus is the head of the Church. But he left his royal steward with the keys of the kingdom as a visible head of the Church and a source of unity. There is no contradiction here.

CR: The second canon of the Second Ecumenical Council A.D. 381 explains this clearly. After the capital was moved to Constantinople, primacy of honor became shared. Feel free to investigate.

SR: I see you do not provide the quote from the source you cite. It is easy to say a council said this or that, but proving it is quite another thing. And claiming the primacy was “shared” is an eastern idea and refuted by the facts of the first 1000 years of the Church. This I have made abundantly clear in my book Upon this Rock.

Yet in that very Council, in the beginning of the very next Cano  it contradicts tour claim. Here is the except from that Canon of that Council:

Canon III
The Bishop of Constantinople, however, shall have the prerogative of honour after the Bishop of Rome; because Constantinople is New Rome.
Ancient Epitome of Canon III: The bishop of Constantinople is to be honoured next after the bishop of Rome.

CR: I also noticed that the above comment (among others) was edited out of yesterday’s rebroadcast.

SR: I am not aware of that, nor is that under my care. The sound techs at Catholic Answers Live handle what is posted in the podcast.

CR: One last point if I may: All the Eastern bishops can trace their authority back to one of the Apostles. The Vatican recognizes this and therefore acknowledges the validity of the Orthodox priesthood and sacraments.

SR: We have no argument here. That is why we consider the eastern churches to be legitimate churches. We don’t consider Protestants to be churches since they have lost the apostolic succession, which the Eastern Orthodox churches have maintained. However, that has nothing to do with the fact that Rome has the primacy both in honor and in jurisdiction. The Eastern churches are in schism and we all hope that one day there will again be unity.

St. Pope John Paul II said it best when he stated his desire that the Western and Eastern lungs be breathing together again in one united Body of Christ.

If you are interested in my thorough study on all of these matters, in which I interact a great deal with Orthodox theologians, I suggest you get my book referenced below.

I appreciate your irenic tone and honest discussion. God bless you my brother in Christ!

(Stephen K. Ray, Upon This Rock: St. Peter and the Primacy of Rome in Scripture and the Early Church, Modern Apologetics Library (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999), 67.)

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The Papacy, What the Pope Does and Why It Matters (Steve’s new book)

 February 25, 2019 – 7pm

Questions Covered:

  • 12:30 – If every bishop and priest is a successor of Peter, why is the bishop of Rome the sole successor of Peter?
  • 15:34 – Our pope was talking about the Mark of the Beast. How are we meant to understand this?
  • 22:34 – How do you justify Frances being called Pope when the Pope before him is still alive?
  • 35:37 – I want to clarify the orthodox position on the bishops. Also, if Christ gave Peter the keys of the Church, why isn’t he the Pope of Antioch?
  • 40:20 – Is there such a thing as an anti-pope?
  • 45:08 – Did the popes and bishops marry at first? If so, why did they stop doing that?
  • 49:12 – Why do we call the Pope the Holy Father when the bible says to call no man father?

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Screen Shot 2019-02-26 at 9.54.22 AMTwo radio shows on Monday were quite lively. They were both based on my new book The Papacy: What the Pope Does and Why It Matters.

The first was an interview with Fr. Robert McTeigue SJ. What a sharp and perceptive priest. He asked me very pointed questions about Pope Francis, today’s Vatican and the papacy in general. It was well worth the hour. I spoke more openly about these matters than in the past. Hope you enjoy the show.

The 2nd was on Catholic Answers Live but I will post that show later today.

Click on the image below to go to the podcast or click HERE.

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Feast of Chair of St. Peter: “Chair of Moses, Chair of Peter” Steve’s Article, YouTube Video and Resources

February 22, 2019

St. Cyprian of Carthage (beheaded 257 AD) one hundred and fifty years before the New Testament writings were collected into one book called “The Bible”: “The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ He says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will […]

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Catholic Doctrines in Scripture by Topic. Save or print 87- page Resource

February 8, 2019

Catholic Doctrines in Scripture, Compiled by Greg Oatis            Click here for document Introduction                                                          3 Preface                                                                 4 Church Authority and Papal Infallibility                     5 Peter as First Pope                                                 8 Apostolic Succession                                               11 Ordination and Priesthood                                       12 Salvation Not By Faith Alone/Not Assured                  14 Doctrines                                                              21 Free Will                                                              21 Abortion                                                               23  Contraception                                                        24 Homosexuality                                                       […]

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What to Think About Bad Popes

January 2, 2019

Written by Dave Armstrong and used with permission: BAD POPES: REPLIES TO A SINCERE INQUIRER, by Dave Armstrong God made an everlasting covenant with King David, even though he was an adulterer and murderer. Dave writes: “As this was originally private correspondence, my correspondent’s exact words will be paraphrased, not cited. Her “words” will be […]

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My New Book Now Available! “The Papacy: What the Pope Does & Why It Matters”

December 21, 2018

  My new book is available today. My friend Dennis Walters and I have been working on it for a while and we hope you enjoy it. You can see and order it here. You can buy it now as a Christmas bundle with free shipping and other of my new items.   Topics include: […]

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Novena for our Bishops who will be on Retreat from January 2-8, 2019

December 19, 2018

NOVENA FOR OUR BISHOPS December 24, 2018–January 1, 2019 THE U.S. HIERARCHY WILL BE IN RETREAT FROM JANUARY 2-8, 2019, AT MUNDELEIN SEMINARY. LET US ACCOMPANY THEM WITH OUR PRAYERS. I personally will be praying for them to act more like shepherds than politicians, more like fathers than like administrators. They need to be evangelists. […]

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Interview on my new book “The Papacy” with Catholic World Report

December 8, 2018

CWR: When you were a Baptist and looking at the Catholic Church from the outside, what did you think about the papacy? Stephen K. Ray: A year before I was born my parents became Baptists; they prayed for kids and I was born a year later. My father was taught to be very anti-Catholic. He […]

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Maybe a Better Illustration for the Pope to Use

October 2, 2018

In some of his recent homilies and comments the Pope has suggested he is being like Jesus when he retreats to “silence.” When Jesus was at trial before Pilate he kept his mouth closed and was silent. Pope Francis has made it clear that this his position regarding the charges against deviant and sinful clergy, […]

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Peter & the Primacy in the New Testament

September 19, 2018

St. Peter in the New Testament What Do We Know About Him? Peter is the big rugged fisherman who became the humble servant of the servants of God. Jesus chose him from among the Twelve to be the leader and the visible head of the Church. What do we know about Peter from the New […]

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My Thoughts While Waiting In Line for Confession

September 2, 2018

My wife and I went to confession yesterday. The line was pretty long (which was good to see, though I hate lines :-)  As I sat and waited it struck me again that the Church is not just a loose association of like-minded followers of Jesus. It is not just “Jesus and me” as we […]

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Former Apostolic Nuncio to Washington DC calls prelates out — naming names and exposing corruption to the highest levels including Pope Francis

August 26, 2018

UPDATE Sunday morning:  Bishop Strickland of Tyler Texas responds to the letter below. A courageous Bishop… I hope other bishops follow his lead (write your bishop to do the same). UK Spectator aticle here. (Picture: Pope Francis greeting the perverted predator knowing what he was according to the letter below.) UPDATE COMMENT Sunday Evening: This continues […]

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Still Good Bishops Who Speak and Act…

August 19, 2018

Everyone is dismayed and uncertain who they can trust right now. The Catholic hierarchy has to be cleaned up. It is certain there are bishops who knew and were silent. BUT not all bishops were complicit. I know many that I trust were as shocked and angry as us. Here is one: Read his recent […]

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Willow Creek Protestant Megachurch Paid $3.25M in Lawsuits Over Sex Abuse of Disabled Boys

August 16, 2018

If you don’t like this post, or think I’m pointing fingers, then read below under the line of asterisks ******* By Stoyan Zaimov Aug 16, 2018 | 8:01 AM “Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois reportedly paid $3.5 million in lawsuits over the sex abuse of two developmentally disabled boys. The evangelical megachurch, which recently […]

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St. Augustine and St. Paul on Real Bishops

July 29, 2018

“No man can be a good bishop if he loves his title but not his task”.  St. Augustine May God grant us good Shepherd‘s. May he grant us those willing to be politically-incorrect, willing to be honest with their flock, exposing heresy and sin even if it’s among their own bishops and priests — even […]

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