Papacy & Catholic Hierarchy

downloadFor starters, sedevacantists are those who believe the chair of Peter is empty, from the Latin sede-chair and vacante-empty. It is the belief we have no legitimate pope since around the 1960’s with various dates proposed.

Someone wrote to me today and asked,

Hi Steve. I have seen you around the internet and have learned a great deal about Catholicism from you. I was wondering if you’ve heard of Sedevacantism and what your thoughts are on the subject. I’m guessing you will be pretty knowledgeable about this and would like your expertise. Is it possible and why or why not. I understand you are a busy man but I would really like your insights on this. Thank you.

I responded,

God bless you and thanks for your kind words. With the Church in the sad, abysmal state that she is currently in, I understand the angst many people feel and I join you in that. With a Pope who has caused great confusion instead of clarity, weak-kneed bishops, closed churches, sex scandals, uncatechized faithful and more — I too am frustrated. However…

When I joined the Catholic Church 26 years ago I quickly identified the extreme Left (the liberals who want women priests, LGBT acceptance, liturgical dance, etc.) and I stayed as far away from them as possible.

Secondly, I identified the extreme-Right (those rejecting Vatican II, saying we have no pope, rejecting the Novus Order, etc.) and I stayed away from them with equal fervor.

I do this no matter what organization or society I join. Some converts joined the Catholic Church and got enticed into one or the other of these heady and seductive schismatic-minded groups. It is like jumping on a horse and falling off the other side.

Jesus is building his Church. It is not about our current Pope, or bishops who are more politicians than pastors, or the multiple problems in today’s Church. It is about Jesus. It is his Church and he is the one I trust.

download (1)There have always been good popes and bad popes, strong and spineless bishops, problems and sin. There has never been a Golden Age in the Church. Every generation thinks, “Oh my, the Church is falling apart, the Pope and bishops are bad, evil prevails, schism looms, etc.” You would think that it was a Golden Age under the great Apostle St. Paul. Just read 1 and 2 Corinthians to have that myth shot to hell.

I eschew the sedevacantists like I reject the schism of Luther and others who divide the Church, cause confusion and assert themselves as “their own popes and councils.”

Jesus said to the Twelve, “Will you also go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:67–68)

Stay with Jesus, stay with his Church, stay with all the great converts who have joined the Church in the last 30 years and who have no thought to follow such radicals. The chair is not empty. It is filled by a man with all the imperfections of men, but Jesus still reigns and I for one will stay with him and the Church and pray, work, teach and remain faithful.

Remember, Mother Teresa, who also loved and stayed true to the one, holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church said, “He does not require us to be successful, only to be faithful.”

God bless you! Below is a video with Jimmy Akin about the problems with sedevacantists.

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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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Had another great evening with William Albrecht and Michael Lofton on their popular and wide-ranging Reason & Theology show. It was a great time of discussion, challenge and digging deep into the issue of the primage of Peter and Rome in Scripture and the Church Fathers – East and West.

Enjoy the lively discussion….

Throughout the show we referred repeatedly to my book Upon this Rock.upon_this_rock_1__38891.1364146522.1280.1280

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Peter & the Primacy in the New Testament

June 30, 2020

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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Did Jesus Re-name Simon the “Rock” – Confusion with Petra, Cephas, Rock and Peter

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A loving wife of an unbelieving Protestant husband asked me to explain to her husband that Jesus renamed Simon as Peter and how that relates to Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew. So in simple terms I gave it a simple (though a bit long) explanation. I hope it helps you as well. ******************************* Let’s give this […]

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My Interview on LifeSite News: My Conversion, the Wuhan Virus Situation & My Take on Pope Francis

May 12, 2020

Last week I did a YouTube interview with John-Henry Westen, editor of LifeSite News. It was also written into an  article in which Westen begins, “May 12, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Today I had the chance to speak with well-known Catholic apologist, author, and veteran tour guide of the Holy Land Steve Ray about a wide […]

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Why Are We Catholic?

March 30, 2020

This excellent little summary was prepared by the Faith Formation ministry in Escanaba Michigan and sent to me by Mike Cousineau. Enjoy and be challenged and edified. Sent it to a friend who needs to read it. 1.  St. Cyprian of Carthage, martyr & Bishop, wrote in 249 AD, “He who would have God as […]

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

February 21, 2020

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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Steve’s EWTN “Bookmarks Brief” on the Papacy

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We

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Catherine of Siena and Leaving the Church

February 5, 2020

What this 14th-century mystic can teach us about fidelity to Christ and to a Church in crisis Thomas McDermott, OP In the wake of so many clerical sex abuse scandals, too many people the Catholic Church appears hypocritical and bankrupt morally and spiritually. In the midst of such trying times, how can Catholics justify remaining […]

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On EWTN TV this week with three time slots

January 30, 2020

I will be on EWTN’s Bookmarks show this week during three-time slots. The show is hosted by Doug Keck, EWTN’s President and Chief Operating Officer. Doug interviews me for 30-minutes as we discuss my new book “The Papacy: What the Pope Does and Why It Matters” published by Ignatius Press. You can join the shows at: […]

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“Francis was never pope? Call me unpersuaded.” By Dr. Ed Peters

January 20, 2020

Article below by Canon Lawyer, Dr. Ed Peters: (Steve Ray here: It is amazing how many people today are rejecting the papacy of Pope Francis, claiming that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is really the pope. It comes up on my Twitter and Facebook accounts almost daily. Even though Canon Lawyer Ed Peters wrote his legal […]

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My Talk on Pope Francis is now available

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A few weeks ago I gave a controversial talk entitled “How Does a John Paul 2 Catholic Survive in a Pope Francis World.” The talk was given to a 6-state gathering of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre with a number of bishops in the audience. Al Kresta spoke first with the same topic […]

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St. Augustine and St. Paul on Real Bishops

October 7, 2019

“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 if […]

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My Respectful but Honest Radio Show concerning Pope Francis

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Today I was invited on the Terry & Jesse Show to discuss the uncomfortable situation we Catholic find ourselves in with Pope Francis. Hope you appreciate the show. My interview starts 15 minutes into the hour.

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EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo is Under Attack; Pope Says He’s Honored to be Attacked by Americans

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The post below was from a year ago but certainly still very timely. The blog hit a nerve so I am reposting this. Having been on EWTN a couple of times since this original posting, I must say that EWTN and affiliates are spot on and I support them and their ministry and assessment of the Church all […]

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