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In Defense of Pope Liberius


Objection: Pope Liberius submitted and signed an heretical statement regarding the divinity of God the Son at Sirmium, and subsequently excommunicated St. Athanasius

Reply: On the contrary, against such calumnies, here are few arguments in defense of Pope Liberius, champion of Holy Catholic Faith: 

“Not long after, Constans, who had resolved to control the influence of the Synod held at Rimini, threatened to send Pope Liberius into exile. The fearless representative of Christ replied: ‘Thou canst not diminish the words of faith by my solitude.’ Non diminues tu, solitudine mea, verba fidei. The import of this pithy little sentence can not be mistaken: 'Even when I am exiled and compelled to pine away in weary solitude, I still continue to be the bearer of the deposit of the holy Faith of all.'” (Rev. F.X. Weninger, On the Apostolical and Infallible Authority of the Pope, 1868, pg. 163)

“They tell us that Liberius taught Arianism... As to the fact itself, sound historical criticism tends directly to the contrary conclusion, namely, that Liberius did not do what they suppose him to have done. The historical documents to which they appeal are, some of them, of very doubtful authority, whilst the others are evidently false or corrupted. Their first authority is that of the so-called "Fragments," ascribed to Hilarius, which critics generally acknowledge not to have been written by him, but by some unknown author. They also appeal to two letters of Athanasius, which are spurious. 

“Two passages are quoted from the works of St. Jerome - the one from his book, "De Scriptoribus Ecclesiasticis," the other from his "Chronicon." Now, St. Jerome has himself complained of the interpolations made in his works, a thing, as we have mentioned, very easily done in the days of manuscripts; and critics prove that this actually occurred with regard to these two works. 

“They also bring forward four letters ascribed to Liberius himself, which are mere fabrications by the Lucifirians and Arians. Finally, they give a poorly-manufactured account, to the effect that, after his pretended fall, Liberius, on returning to Rome, was contemptuously driven out by the Roman people. This fiction is borrowed from a spurious work of Eusebius the Priest.

“[...] Against all their corrupted historical sources are arrayed most trustworthy historical documents, clearly showing that Liberius not only never betrayed the truth, but that he was its consistent, energetic champion. 

“Nobody pretends to call in question the fact, that it was he who withstood the one thousand Bishops, assembled at Rimini, who had suffered themselves to be entrapped by the Arian into subscribing an heretical formula, of which Saint Jerome exclaims: "The Christian world was astonished to find itself become Arian." This was the most numerous Council ever celebrated in the first thousand years of the existence of the Church. Opposed to it, great as it was in number and Episcopal dignity, we find the majesty and resplendent authority of the Apostolic See, and we find Liberius, the occupier of the Chair of Peter, using his power and privileges as Supreme Pontiff to condemn and cancel the erroneous professions of one thousand Bishops, or, rather, in the words of our Lord, to confirm his brethren, whom satan had tried to sift as wheat. 

“It was for this heroic resistance that the enraged Emperor Constantine sent Liberius into exile, and harassed him with vexations and persecutions, to escape which, as they pretend, the defender of the faith finally subscribed an Arian formula, and, on his return to Rome, was driven forth again by the Clergy and people. That such a man, after so heroic a resistance, should have fallen so low as to subscribe what he had denounced and condemned in others, is difficult of belief. History tells a different tale. 

“The oldest and most esteemed historians of the Church, such as Sulpicius Severus, Socrates, Sozomenus, Theodoretus, Menea, Theophanes, Nicephorus, and Calistus, have not a word concerning the pretended fall of Liberius. Even Photius does not speak of it, and he certainly should have known it, and would have used it, had there been any hope of success. On the contrary, all these historians speak quite differently of Liberius, and ascribe his return to Rome to another reason, and describe his reception in a very different way. Theodoretus, who, in his history of Arianism, made use of the writings of Athanasius, calls Liberius an illustrious and glorious champion of the faith."Celeberrimum Liberium, gloriosum veritatis athletam." He ascribes his return to Rome, not to a heretical acquiescence, but to the petition forwarded to the Emperor from the noble ladies of Rome, and to the acclamation of the people at the amphitheater, urging his recall. "Post has Christianae plebis acclamationes Liberium ab Imperatore postulantis in circo, reversus est admirabilis ille Liberius." 

“Sulpicius Severus also accounts for his return by the commotions and revolts of the Roman people, clamorous for his recall, and says that the Emperor did it against his will, "licet invitus." If Liberius had professed Arianism, Constantine would have let him return, but not unwillingly, "invitus," since it would have been for himself a victory and triumph. That this return, however, may have become in time a matter of suspicion and a ground of the accusation, is possible, if not probable. Communications were then difficult and tardy, and the Arians, hearing of his recall, may have spread the rumor that it could only be accounted for by his recantation and his subscription of the Arian formula. 

“No, the Pontiff who had withstood one thousand Bishops, and had braved exile and persecution, could not have accepted such ignominy as finally to subscribe what he himself had so lately denominated a blasphemy, "blasphemam." 

“[...] He can not, then, be stigmatized as a traitor to the faith, but must rather be accounted worthy of all those eulogies conferred upon him by the Holy Fathers. St. Ambrose calls him "Sanctae memoriae virum", a man of holy memory; St. Basil, "beatissimum," most blessed; Epiphanius and Pope Siricius, the latter in his letter to Himeric, calls him " blessed."” (Idem, pg. 333-340).

From Abbé Darras, General History of the Catholic Church, work praised by his Holiness, Pope Pius IX, we read that : 

“They [the Arians] succeeded, at length, in ruining him [saint Athanasius] in the opinion of [Emperor] Constantius, by incriminating a very simple and indifferent action. A new church had been built in Alexandria, at the public expense ; the archbishop [saint Athanasius] had inaugurated it without the participation of the emperor. This was sufficient to blot out from the remembrance of Constantius all his former letters to the patriarch, and his solemn promise ever to turn a deaf ear to his accusers. He appealed to Pope Liberius, to beg that Athanasius might be condemned (A.D. 352). Liberius assembled a council in Rome, and laid before it the emperor's letter, together with those of the Egyptian bishops, who unanimously proclaimed the innocence of their metropolitan. The council decided that it would be contrary to all law, human and divine, to anathematize a bishop whose faith was that of the Church, and whose virtue was the admiration of the whole world. The answer of Liberius was the expression of this sentiment.

“[...] The Arian eunuch, Eusebius, whose unlimited power over the weak mind of Constantius had reduced the Church to its present sad condition, was sent to Rome by the emperor to deceive Liberius, and force him to sign the condemnation of Athanasius. The eunuch found presents arid threats equally ineffectual ; he then procured a rescript ordering Lcontius, governor of Rome, to convey Liberius to Milan, where Constantius held his court. The interview between the pope and the emperor, as might have been foreseen, was full of passion, recrimination, and violence on the part of Constantius; dignified, reserved, and firm, on that of Liberius. Two days later, the pope was seized and exiled to Berea, in Thrace. The emperor sent him five hundred gold pieces (about ten thousand francs), to defray his expenses. Liberius sent them back, with these words : "Tell the emperor to keep his money for the support of his army." A like tender from the empress met with a like reply. When the eunuch Eusebius had the effrontery to make a similar proffer, the indignant pontiff answered : "You have desolated the churches throughout the world, and do you offer me an alms, as to a criminal! Go and begin by embracing the true faith." 

“[...] The Greek Menology relates the facts as we have given them. It speaks as follows: ‘The Blessed Liberius, defender of the faith, was Bishop of Rome, under the empire of Constantius. Burning with zeal for the orthodox faith, he protected the great Athanasius, persecuted by the heretics for his bold defence of the truth, and driven from Alexandria. Whilst Constantine and Constans lived, the Catholic faith was supported ; but when Constantius was left sole master, as he was an Arian, the heretics prevailed. Liberius, for his vigor in censuring their impiety, was banished to Berea, in Thrace. But the Romans, who always remained true to him, went to the emperor and besought his recall. He was therefore, on this account, sent back to Rome, and there ended his life, after a holy administration of his pastoral charge.’” (Abbé Darras, General History of the Catholic Church, pg. 448-462; Abbé Rohrbacher, Histoire Universelle de l'Église Catholique, vol. XI, pg. 374).

“The ancient Fathers, especially those who held the more illustrious chairs of the East, since they accepted these privileges as proper to the pontifical authority, took refuge in the Apostolic See whenever heresy or internal strife troubled them. For it alone promised safety in extreme crises. Basil the Great did so, as did the renowned defender of the Nicene Creed, Athanasius, as well as John Chrysostom. For these inspired Fathers of the orthodox faith appealed from the councils of bishops to the supreme judgement of the Roman Pontiffs according to the prescriptions of the ecclesiastical Canons. Who can say that they [Pontiffs] were wanting in conformity to the command which they had from Christ? Indeed, lest they should prove faithless in their duty, some went fearlessly into exile, as did Liberius and Silverius and Martinus. Others pleaded vigorously for the cause of the orthodox faith and for its defenders who had appealed to the Pope, or to vindicate the memory of those who had died.” (Pope Benedict XV, Principi Apostolorum Petro, 1920).

“But the neo-schismatics declare that they do not oppose the Catholic Church's principles in the least. Their sole aim is to protect the rights of their churches and their nation and even the rights of their supreme Emperor; they falsely allege that We have infringed these rights. By this means, they fearlessly make us responsible for the present disorder. Exactly in this way did the Acacian schismatics act towards Our predecessor St. Gelasius. [St. Gelasius epistle 12 to the emperor Anastasius, no. 1.]. And previously the Arians falsely accused Liberius, also Our predecessor, to the Emperor Constantine, because Liberius refused to condemn St. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, and refused to support their heresy. [St. Athanas., hist. Arianor ad Monach., no. 35.] For as the same holy Pontiff Gelasius wrote to the Emperor Anastasius on this matter, "a frequent characteristic of sick people is to reproach the doctors who recall them to health by appropriate measures rather than agree to desist from and condemn their own harmful desires." These appear to be the main grounds on which the neo-schismatics gain their support and solicit the patronage of powerful men for their cause, most wicked as it is. Lest the faithful be led into error, We must deal with these grounds more fully than if We merely had to refute unjust accusations.” (Pope Pius IX, Quartus Supra, On the Church in Armenia, 6 January 1873)

“That which is done for the love of Christ gives me very much joy; Italy, as victor with that zeal and aroused ardor for the godhead, retained that faith whole which was handed down from the Apostles and placed in the whole world by our ancestors. For at this time when Constantius of holy memory held the world as victor, the heretical African faction was not able by any deception to introduce its baseness because, as we believe, our God provided that that holy and untarnished faith be not contaminated through any vicious blasphemy of slanderous men - that faith which had been discussed and defended at the meeting of the synod in Nicea by the holy men and bishops now placed in the resting place of the saints. For this faith those who were then esteemed as holy bishops gladly endured exile, that is Dionysius, thus a servant of God, prepared by divine instruction, or those following his example of holy recollection, LIBERIUS bishop of the Roman Church, Eusebius also of Vercelli, Hilary of the Gauls, to say nothing of many, on whose decision the choice could rest to be fastened to the cross rather than blaspheme God Christ, which the Arian heresy compelled, or call the Son of God, God Christ, a creature of the Lord.” (Saint Anastasius I, From the Epistle “Dat mihi plurimum", to Venerius, Bishop of Milan, about the year 400; Denzinger n. 93).

Was the 2d Vatican "Council" dogmatic, pastoral?

Objection: The 2d Vatican "Council" was a pastoral council, not dogmatic...
 
Reply: The name "council" comes from the Latin "concilium", meaning "assembly". Thus a council is an assembly of bishops which discusses the affairs of the Religion and of the Church (Mgr de Ségur,"Le Concile", 1869, pg. 125). A council doesn't deal only with questions regarding faith and morals, such as defining dogmas or condemning heretics, but analyses also affairs related to the discipline and the general government of the Church. There is no such "dogmatic" or "pastoral" Council, but there are three types of councils in the Catholic Church: the "Provincial Council", composed of bishops of one ecclesiastical province and presided by the archbishop or the metropolitan, the "National Council", composed of all the archbishops and bishops of the same country and presided by the primate or the papal legate, and the "Ecumenical Council", convoked and presided by the Pope or at least one of his legates, composed of all the bishops of the world and whose decrees, regarding faith, morals, discipline or Church's government, are approved and confirmed infallibly by the Pope or the Apostolic See. Before being approved by the Pope the council's decisions are mere bills or draft laws but after they have been approved and confirmed by the Pope, they become real laws which bind the faithful's conscience. ("Idem", pg. 126-128).
 
"By divine and Catholic faith, all those things must be believed which are contained in the written word of God and in Tradition, and those which are proposed by the Church, either in a solemn pronouncement or in her ordinary and universal teaching power, to be believed as divinely revealed." (Ecumenical Vatican Council, "Dogmatic Constitution concerning the Catholic Faith", Chapter 3. "Faith", Session 3, April 24, 1870; Heinrich Denzinger, "The Sources of Catholic Dogma", 30th edition, n. 1792).
We know that Holy Bible and Tradition are the two sources of divine Revelation (Catechism of saint Pius X; Catechism of Trent).
 
"19 Q. Where are the truths which God has revealed contained?
"A. The truths which God has revealed are contained in Holy Scripture and in Tradition.
 
"34 Q. What is meant by Tradition?
"A. Tradition is the non-written word of God, which has been transmitted by word of mouth by Jesus Christ and by the apostles, and which has come down to us through the centuries by the means of the Church, without being altered.
 
"35 Q. Where are the teachings of Tradition kept?
"A. The teachings of Tradition are kept chiefly in the Councils' decrees, the writings of the Holy Fathers, the Acts of the Holy See and the words and practices of the sacred Liturgy."
 
"36 Q. What importance must we attach to Tradition?
"A. We must attach to Tradition the same importance as the revealed word of God which Holy Scripture contains." (Catechism of saint Pius X). 
 
As part of Tradition, the Councils' decrees, after the Pope's approval, are free of any error whatsoever, because Tradition is one source of divine Revelation. Vatican II "Council" has been always recognised and propagated by the Vatican authorities, since the times of John XXIII, as an Ecumenical "Council" convoked by the Catholic Church and whose decrees have been approved by the Apostolic See or the Pope. But if we analyse some of his decrees, we realise that they contain grave errors against the Catholic Faith, particularly religious freedom. 
 
"The Church of Christ is part of ("subsistit in") the Catholic Church." (“Lumen gentium”, 21 November 1964).
 
"The Church of CHRIST is ("est") the Catholic Church." (Pope Pius XII, "Mystici Corporis Christi", 29 June 1943). 
 
"The Catholic Church has sinned against unity." (2d pseudo-Vatican Council, "Unitatis redintegratio", session 5, 21 November 1964). 
 
"All the teachings of the Catholic Church's Magisterium are impeccable and unchangeable." (Pope Pius IX, Denzinger 1839).
 
"The conversion of non-Catholics is an obstacle towards the Church's unification." (2d pseudo-Vatican Council, "Unitatis redintegratio" : 24, session 5, 21 November 1964). 
 
"Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world." (saint Matthew 28:19-20).
 
"And He said to them: Go ye into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned." (saint Mark 16:15-16). 
 
"Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the Traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle." (2 Thessal. 2:14)
 
"O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding the profane novelties of words, and oppositions of knowledge falsely so called. Which some promising, have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen." (1 Tim. 6:20-21).
 
The Early Church Fathers had an infallible method by which to recognise the Church of CHRIST among other sects. In the light of this technique, only the Church of CHRIST or the Roman Catholic Church has the four positive marks of recognition (One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic), which were proclaimed in the Council of Nicea (325 AD) and later in the 2d Council of Constantinople (381 AD), and are recited since by all the faithful as part of the Credo. Some other non-Catholic sect may possess one or more of these marks but never all four of them, as it does only the Church of CHRIST, the Roman Catholic Church. (Abbé Berthier, "Abrégé de théologie dogmatique et morale", 1928, pg. 36). 
 
Vatican II "Council"'s decrees by denying the conversion of non-catholics, among other grave errors, deny the apostolicity of the Church of CHRIST, one of her four marks of recognition, therefore they could have not come from the Catholic Church, but from a counter-church, as Mgr Lefebvre said it himself: 
 
"Yet, I sincerely believe that we are dealing with a counterfeit of the Church and not with the Catholic Church. Why? Because they do not teach anymore the Catholic Faith. They do not defend any more the Catholic Faith. Not only do they no longer teach nor defend the Catholic Faith, but they teach something else...
 
"I think we can and we must even believe that the Church is occupied, the Church is occupied. She is occupied by this Counter-Church, by this Counter-Church that we know well and that the Popes know perfectly well and that the Popes have condemned throughout the centuries. For nearly four centuries now, the Church continues to condemn this Counter-Church which was born especially with the Protestantism, which was developed with the Protestantism and which is at the origin of all the modern errors; it has destroyed all philosophy and have led us into all these errors that we know and that Popes have condemned: Liberalism, socialism, communism, modernism, sillonism and what else... And we are dying from it, dying from it. The Popes have done everything to condemn it, and look now, those who sit on the seats of those who have condemned these things now they practically agree with this liberalism and this ecumenism. Hence we cannot accept that.
"And more things become clear, more do we find out that this program which was elaborated in the masonic lodges - this whole program, all these errors which have been elaborated in the masonic lodges - well, we realize little by little and with increasing clarity that, simply there is a masonic lodge in the Vatican." (Mgr Marcel Lefebvre, 8 June 1978).

The Pope can never teach against Faith or Morals

          Holy Bible and Tradition proclaim that the Pope, the Vicar of CHRIST on earth, can never teach against Faith or Morals and, in fact, never a real Pope in history ever taught against Faith or Morals.
“But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.” (saint Luke 22:32)

“For thee, because I destine thee to be the head and chief of the Apostles and of My Church, that thy faith fail not in believing Me to be the Christ and the Saviour of the world. Observe that Christ in this prayer asked and obtained for Peter two especial privileges before the other Apostles : the first was personal, that he should never fall from faith in Christ ; for Christ looked back to the sifting in the former verse, that is the temptation of His own apprehension when the other Apostles flew off from Him like chaff and lost their faith, and were dispersed, and fled into all parts. But Peter, [though he was not yet Pope] although he denied Christ with his lips, at the hour foretold, and lost his love for Him, yet retained his faith. So S. Chrysostom ("Hom. xxxviii.") on S. Matthew ; S. Augustine ("de corrept. et Grat. chap. viii.") ; Theophylact and others. ... Another and a certain privilege was common to Peter with all his successors, that he and all the other bishops of Rome (for Peter, as Christ willed, founded and confirmed the Pontifical Church at Rome), should never openly fall from this faith, so as to teach the Church heresy, or any error, contrary to the faith. So S. Leo ("serm. xxii."), on Natalis of SS. Peter and Paul ; S. Cyprian (Lib. i. ep. 3), to Cornelius; Lucius I., Felix I., Agatho, Nicolas I., Leo IX., Innocent III., Bernard and others, whom Bellarmine cites and follows ("Lib. i. de Pontif. Roman"). 

“For it was necessary that Christ, by His most wise providence, should provide for His Church, which is ever being sifted and tempted by the devil, and that not only in the time of Peter, but at all times henceforth, even to the end of the world, an oracle of the true faith which she might consult in every doubt, and by which she might be taught and confirmed in the faith, otherwise the Church might err in faith, "quod absit !" For she is, as S. Paul said to Timothy, " the pillar and ground of the truth" (I Tim. iii. 15). This oracle of the Church then is Peter, and all successive bishops of Rome. This promise made to Peter and his successors, most especially applies to the time when Peter, as the successor of Christ, began to be the head of the Church, that is, after the death of Christ.” (Mossman, "The Great Commentary of Cornelius à Lapide", 1908, vol. 4, pg. 482-483)

“10. This consideration too clarifies the great error of those others as well who boldly venture to explain and interpret the words of God by their own judgment, misusing their reason and holding the opinion that these words are like a human work. God Himself has set up a living authority to establish and teach the true and legitimate meaning of His heavenly revelation. This authority judges infallibly all disputes which concern matters of faith and morals, lest the faithful be swirled around by every wind of doctrine which springs from the evilness of men in encompassing error. And this living infallible authority is active only in that Church which was built by Christ the Lord upon Peter, the head of the entire Church, leader and shepherd, whose faith He promised would never fail. This Church has had an unbroken line of succession from Peter himself; these legitimate pontiffs are the heirs and defenders of the same teaching, rank, office and power. And the Church is where Peter is, [St. Ambrose on Ps 40.] and Peter speaks in the Roman Pontiff, [Council of Chalcedon, Act. 2.] living at all times in his successors and making judgment, [Synod of Ephes., Act. 3.] providing the truth of the faith to those who seek it. [St. Peter Chrysologus, epistle to Eutyches.] The divine words therefore mean what this Roman See of the most blessed Peter holds and has held.

“11. For this mother and teacher [Council of Trent, session 7 on baptism.] of all the churches has always preserved entire and unharmed the faith entrusted to it by Christ the Lord. Furthermore, it has taught it to the faithful, showing all men truth and the path of salvation. Since all priesthood originates in this church, [St. Cyprian, epistle 55 to Pope Cornelius.] the entire substance of the Christian religion resides there also. [Synod. Letter of John of Constantinople to Pope Hormisdas and Sozomen, Hist., III. 8.] The leadership of the Apostolic See has always been active, [St. Augustine, epistle 162.] and therefore because of its preeminent authority, the whole Church must agree with it. The faithful who live in every place constitute the whole Church. [St. Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. III, 3.] Whoever does not gather with this Church scatters. [St. Jerome, epistle to Pope Damasus.]

“12. We, therefore, placed inscrutably by God upon this Chair of truth, eagerly call forth in the Lord your outstanding piety, venerable brothers. We urge you to strive carefully and zealously to continually warn and exhort the faithful entrusted to your care to hold to these first principles. Urge them never to allow themselves to be deceived and led into error by men who have become abominable in their pursuits. These men attempt to destroy faith on the pretext of human progress, subjecting it in an impious manner to reason and changing the meaning of the words of God. Such men do not shrink from the greatest insults to God Himself, who cares for the good and the salvation of men by means of His heavenly religion.” (Pope Pius IX, "Qui Pluribus", 9 November 1846)

“If in the difficult times in which Our lot is cast, Catholics will give ear to Us, as it behoves them to do, they will readily see what are the duties of each one in matters of opinion as well as action. As regards opinion, whatever the Roman Pontiffs have hitherto taught, or shall hereafter teach, must be held with a firm grasp of mind, and, so often as occasion requires, must be openly professed.” (Pope Leo XIII, "Immortale Dei", 1 November 1885)

“Chap. 7 ... The holy Church built upon a rock, that is Christ, and upon Peter or Cephas, the son of John who first was called Simon, because by the gates of Hell, that is, by the disputations of heretics which lead the vain to destruction, it would never be overcome; thus Truth itself promises, through whom are true, whatsoever things are true: "The gates of hell will not prevail against it" [Matt. 16: 18]. The same Son declares that He obtained the effect of this promise from the Father by prayers, by saying to Peter: "Simon, behold satan etc." [Luke 23:31 ]. Therefore, will there be anyone so foolish as to dare to regard His prayer as in anyway vain whose being willing is being able? By the See of the chief of the Apostles, namely by the Roman Church, through the same Peter, as well as through his successors, have not the c0mments of all the heretics been disapproved, rejected, and overcome, and the hearts of the brethren in the faith of Peter which so far neither has failed, nor up to the end will fail, been strengthened? ” (Pope saint Leo IX, from the epistle "In terra pax hominibus" to Michael Cerularius and to Leo of Achrida, September 2, 1053; Denz. 351]

"The eternal Pastor and Bishop of our souls" [I Pet. 2:25], in order to render the saving work of redemption perennial, willed to build a holy Church, in which, as in the house of the living God, all the faithful might be contained by the bond of one Faith and Charity. Therefore, before His glory was made manifest, "He asked the Father, not only for the Apostles but also for those who would believe through their word in Him, that all might be one, just as the Son Himself and the Father are one" [John 17:20 f.]. Thus, then, as He sent the apostles, whom He had selected from the world for Himself, as He himself had been sent by the Father [John 20:21], so in His Church He wished the pastors and the doctors to be "even to the consummation of the world" [Matt. 28:20]. But, that the episcopacy itself might be one and undivided, and that the entire multitude of the faithful through priests closely connected with one another might be preserved in the unity of Faith and communion, placing the blessed Peter over the other apostles He established in him the perpetual principle and visible foundation of both unities, upon whose strength the eternal temple might be erected, and the sublimity of the Church to be raised to heaven might rise in the firmness of this Faith. (Cf. St. Leo the Great, "serm. 4 de natali ipsius" c. 2 [ML 54, 150 C]. (Ecumenical Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution I on the Church of CHRIST, Session IV, 18 July 1870; Denzinger 1821).

“Moreover, what the Chief of pastors and the Great Pastor of sheep, the Lord Jesus, established in the blessed Apostle Peter for the perpetual salvation and perennial good of the Church, this by the same Author must endure always in the Church which was founded upon a rock and will endure firm until the end of the ages. Surely no one has doubt, rather all ages have known that the holy and most blessed Peter, chief and head of the apostles and pillar of faith and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race; and he up to this time and always lives and presides and exercises judgment in his successors, the bishops of the holy See of Rome, which was founded by him and consecrated by his blood [cf. Council of Ephesus]. Therefore, whoever succeeds Peter in this chair, he according to the institution of Christ himself, holds the primacy of Peter over the whole Church. 'Therefore the disposition of truth remains, and blessed Peter persevering in the accepted fortitude of the rock does not abandon the guidance of the Church which he has received." (St. Leo, the Great, sermo 3 de natali ipsius c. 3 [ML 54, 146 B]). For this reason 'it has always been necessary because of mightier pre-eminence for every church to come to the Church of Rome, that is those who are the faithful everywhere,' (St. Irenaeus, Adv. Haereses I. 3, c. 3 [MG 7, 849 A] so that in this See, from which the laws of 'venerable communion' (St. Ambrose, Ep. II, n. 4 [ML 16, 946 A]) emanate over all, they as members associated in one head, coalesce into one bodily structure.” (Idem, Chap. 2. The Perpetuity of the Primacy of Blessed Peter among the Roman Pontiffs; Denzinger 1824).

“Moreover, that by the very apostolic primacy which the Roman Pontiff as the successor of Peter, the chief of the Apostles, holds over the universal Church, the supreme power of the magisterium is also comprehended, this Holy See has always held, the whole experience of the Church approves, and the ecumenical Councils themselves, especially those in which the East convened with the West in a union of faith and charity, have declared. For the fathers of the fourth council of Constantinople, adhering to the ways of the former ones, published this solemn profession: "Our first salvation is to guard the rule of right faith [...]. And since the sentiment of our Lord Jesus Christ cannot be passed over when He says: 'Thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church' [Matt. 16:18], these words which were spoken are proven true by actual results, since in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been preserved untainted, and holy doctrine celebrated. Desiring, then, least of all to be separated from the faith and teaching of this [Apostolic See], We hope that We may deserve to be in the one communion which the Apostolic See proclaims, in which the solidarity of the Christian religion is whole and true" (Hrd V 778 f.) [cf. n. 171 f.]. Moreover, with the approval of the second council of Lyons, the Greeks have professed, "that the Holy Roman Church holds the highest and the full primacy and pre-eminence over the universal Catholic Church, which it truthfully and humbly professes it has received with plenitude of power from the Lord Himself in blessed Peter, the chief or head of the Apostles, of whom the Roman Pontiff is the successor; and, just as it is bound above others to defend the truth of faith, so, too, if any questions arise about faith, they should be defined by its judgment" [cf. n. 466]. Finally, the Council of Florence has defined: "That the Roman Pontiff is the true vicar of Christ and head of the whole Church and the father and teacher of all Christians; and to it in the blessed Peter has been handed down by the Lord Jesus Christ the full power of feeding, ruling, and guiding the universal Church".

“To satisfy this pastoral duty, our predecessors always gave tireless attention that the saving doctrine of Christ be spread among all the peoples of the earth, and with equal care they watched that, wherever it was received, it was preserved sound and pure. Therefore, the bishops of the whole world, now individually, now gathered in Synods, following a long custom of the churches and the formula of the ancient rule, referred to this Holy See those dangers particularly which emerged in the affairs of faith, that there especially the damages to faith might be repaired where faith cannot experience a failure (Cf. Saint Bernard, "Letter (190) to Innocent II" [ML 182, 1053 D]). The Roman Pontiffs, moreover, according as the condition of the times and affairs advised, sometimes by calling ecumenical Councils or by examining the opinion of the Church spread throughout the world; sometimes by particular synods, sometimes by employing other helps which divine Providence supplied, have defined that those matters must be held which with God's help they have recognized as in agreement with Sacred Scripture and apostolic tradition. For, the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter that by His revelation they might disclose new doctrine, but that by His help they might guard sacredly the revelation transmitted through the apostles and the deposit of faith, and might faithfully set it forth. Indeed, all the venerable fathers have embraced their apostolic doctrine, and the holy orthodox Doctors have venerated and followed it, knowing full well that the See of St. Peter always remains unimpaired by any error, according to the divine promise of our Lord the Savior made to the chief of His disciples: "I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren" [Luke 22:32].” (Ecumenical Vatican Council, "Dogmatic Constitution I on the Church of Christ", Chapter 2. "The Perpetuity of the Primacy of Blessed Peter among the Roman Pontiffs", Session IV, July 18, 1870, Denzinger 1832-1837, pages 455-456.)

“31 Q. Are we obliged to believe all the truths the Church teaches us?
“A. Yes, we are obliged to believe all the truths the Church teaches us, and Jesus Christ declares that he who does not believe is already condemned.
“32 Q. Are we also obliged to do all that the Church commands?
“A. Yes, we are obliged to do all that the Church commands, for Jesus Christ has said to the Pastors of the Church: "He who hears you, hears Me, and he who despises you, despises Me."
“33 Q. Can the Church err in what she proposes for our belief?
“A. No, the Church cannot err in what she proposes for our belief, since according to the promise of Jesus Christ she is unfailingly assisted by the Holy Ghost.
“34 Q. Is the Catholic Church infallible, then?
“A. Yes, the Catholic Church is infallible, and hence those who reject her definitions lose the faith and become heretics.
“35 Q. Can the Catholic Church be destroyed or perish?
“A. No; the Catholic Church may be persecuted, but she can never be destroyed or perish. She will last till the end of the world, because Jesus Christ, as He promised, will be with her till the end of time.
[...] “46 Q. Are we obliged to hear the Teaching Church?
“A. Yes, without doubt we are obliged under pain of eternal damnation to hear the Teaching Church; for Jesus Christ has said to the Pastors of His Church, in the persons of the Apostles: "He who hears you, hears Me, and he who despises you, despises Me."
[...] “55 Q. Can the Pope err when teaching the Church?
“A. The Pope cannot err, that is, he is infallible, in definitions regarding faith and morals.
“56 Q. How is it that the Pope is infallible?
“A. The Pope is infallible because of the promise of Jesus Christ, and of the unfailing assistance of the Holy Ghost.” (From the Catechism of saint Pius X, 1908)

"The Apostles and their successors are God's Vicars in governing the Church which is built on Faith and the Sacraments of Faith. Wherefore, just as they may not institute another Church, so neither may they deliver another Faith, nor institute other Sacraments: on the contrary, the Church is said to be built up with the Sacraments 'which flowed from the side of CHRIST while hanging on the Cross'." (Saint Thomas Aquinas, "Summa theologica", Part III, Q. 64, Art. 2, reply to obj. 3).