4 - 5 minutes readTHE VATICAN COUNCIL 1869-1870: Chap. 3. The Power and Manner of the Primacy of the Roman Pontiff

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THE VATICAN COUNCIL 1869-1870

Ecumenical XX (on Faith and the Church)

SESSION IV (July 18, 1870)*

Chap. 3. The Power and Manner of the Primacy of the Roman Pontiff

1826 [Assertion of primacy]. Therefore, relying on the clear testimonies of Sacred Scripture, and adhering to the eloquent and manifest decisions not only of Our predecessors, the Roman Pontiffs, but also of the general Councils, We renew the definition of the Ecumenical Council of Florence, by which all the faithful of Christ most believe “that the Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff hold primacy over the whole world, and that the Pontiff of Rome himself is the successor of the blessed Peter, the chief of the apostles, and is the true vicar of Christ and head of the whole Church and faith, and teacher of all Christians; and that to him was handed down in blessed Peter, by our Lord Jesus Christ, full power to feed, rule, and guide the universal Church, just as is also contained in the records of the ecumenical Councils and in the sacred canons” [see n.694].

 

1827 [Consequences denied by innovators]. Furthermore We teach and declare that the Roman Church, by the disposition of the Lord, holds the sovereignty of ordinary power over all others, and that this power of jurisdiction on the part of the Roman Pontiff, which is truly episcopal, is immediate; and with respect to this the pastors and the faithful of whatever rite and dignity, both as separate individuals and all together, are bound by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, not only in things which pertain to faith and morals, but also in those which pertain to the discipline and government of the Church [which is] spread over the whole world, so that the Church of Christ, protected not only by the Roman Pontiff, but by the unity of communion as well as of the profession of the same faith is one flock under the one highest shepherd. This is the doctrine of Catholic truth from which no one can deviate and keep his faith and salvation.

 

1828 [The jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff and of the bishops]. This power of the Supreme Pontiff is so far from interfering with that power of ordinary and immediate episcopal jurisdiction by which the bishops, who, “placed by the Holy Spirit” [cf. Acts 20:28], have succeeded to the places of the apostles, as true shepherds individually feed and rule the individual flocks assigned to them, that the same (power) is asserted, confirmed, and vindicated by the supreme and universal shepherd, according to the statement of Gregory the Great: “My honor is the universal honor of the Church. My honor is the solid vigor of my brothers. Then am I truly honored, when the honor due to each and everyone is not denied.” *

 

1829 [Free communication with all the faithful]. Furthermore, it follows that from that supreme power of the Roman Pontiff of ruling the universal Church, the same has the right in the exercise of this duty of his office of communicating freely with the pastors and flocks of the whole Church, so that the same can be taught and guided by him in the way of salvation. Therefore, We condemn and disapprove the opinions of those who say that this communication of the supreme head with pastors and flocks can lawfully be checked, or who make this so submissive to secular power that they contend that whatever is established by the Apostolic See or its authority for the government of the Church has no force or value unless confirmed by an order of the secular power [Placitum regium, see n. 1847].

 

1830 [Recourse to the Roman Pontiff as the supreme judge]. And since the Roman Pontiff is at the head of the universal Church by the divine right of apostolic primacy, We teach and declare also that he is the supreme judge of the faithful [cf. n.1500 ], and that in all cases pertaining to ecclesiastical examination recourse can be had to his judgment [cf. n. 466 ]; moreover, that the judgment of the Apostolic See, whose authority is not surpassed, is to be disclaimed by no one, nor is anyone permitted to pass judgment on its judgment [cf. n.330 ff.]. Therefore, they stray from the straight path of truth who affirm that it is permitted to appeal from the judgments of the Roman Pontiffs to an ecumenical Council, as to an authority higher than the Roman Pontiff.

 

1831 [Canon]. If anyone thus speaks, that the Roman Pontiff has only the office of inspection or direction, but not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the universal Church, not only in things which pertain to faith and morals, but also in those which pertain to the discipline and government of the Church spread over the whole world; or, that he possesses only the more important parts, but not the whole plenitude of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate, or over the churches altogether and individually, and over the pastors and the faithful altogether and individually: let him be anathema.

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