Upon This Rock
ON THE PERPETUITY OF THE PRIMACY OF THE BLESSED PETER IN THE ROMAN PONTIFFS
The Papal Encyclicals
That which the Prince of Shepherds and great shepherd of the Sheep, Jesus Christ Our Lord, established in the person of the Blessed Apostle Peter to secure the perpetual welfare and lasting good of the Church, must, by the same institution, necessarily remain unceasingly in the Church, which being founded upon the Rock, will stand firm until the end of the world. For none can doubt, and it is known to all ages, that the holy and Blessed Peter, the Prince and chief of the Apostles, the pillar of faith and foundation of the Catholic Church, reeived the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Redeemer of mankind, and lives, presides, and judges to this day, always in his successors the Bishops of the Holy See in Rome, which was founded by him and consecrated in his blood. Whence whoever succeeds to Peter in this see does by the institution of Christ himself obtain the primacy of Peter over the whole Church. The disposition made by Incarnate Truth (dispositio veritatis) therefore remains, and Blessed Peter, abiding in the rock's strength which he received (in accepta fortitudine petrae perseverans), has not abandoned the direction of the Church!...
Hence we teach and declare that by the appointment of Our Lord the Roman Church possesses a sovereignty of ordinary power over all other churches, and that this power of jurisdiction of the Roman pontiff, which is truly episcopal, is immediate; to which all, of whatsoever rite and dignity, both pastors and faithful, both individually and collectively, are bound, by their duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, to submit, not only in amtters that belong to faith and morals, but also in those that appertain to the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world; so that the Church of Christ may be one flock under one supreme pastor, through the preservation of unity, both of communion and of profession of the same faith, with the Roman pontiff... Dogmatic Canons and Decrees, New York: The Devin-Adair Co; 1912, pp.247-49.
And since, by the divine right of Apostolic primacy, one Roman Pontiff is placed over the universal Church, We further teach and declare that he is the supreme judge of the faithful, and that in all causes the decision of which belongs to the Church recourse may be had to his tribunal, but that none may reopen the judgment of the Apostolic See, than whose authority there is no greater, nor can any lawfully review its judgment.
Therefore, faithfully adhering to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, for the Glory of God our Saviour, the exaltation of the Catholic religion, and the salvation of the Christian people, with the approval of the sacred council, we teach and define that it is a dogma divinely revealed: that the Roman pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, (from the chair of St. Peter), that is, when in discharge of the office of pastor and teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, is, by the divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, possessed of that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed that His church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith and morals; and that, therefore such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, irreformable.
Thus the pope is infallible only when he defines a truth, or truths, that concern faith and morals. And this definition is, in effect, a judgment; the pope distinguishes between a traditional truth, implicitly or explicitly known, and a new error. And his definition, in the judgment he thus makes, the pope always defines by negation: the traditional phrase is, "if anyone denies that (such and such) is the truth...let him be anathema."
And the truth defined is always part of the tradition of the Church; it is to be found in the universal faith of one particular period, past or present; it is contained in the historical development of the Church. The pope, when defining, always does so in context, and always sets forth the truth he defines in, and with, its whole background.
Reasonings and Rationale
As to the authority of Papal encyclicals, Monsignor Joseph Fenton writes in the American Ecclesiastical Review:
It is quite probable that some of the teachings set forth on the authority of the various papal encyclicals are infallible...
Those who follow the papal pronouncements, especially those of the last hundred years, will be impressed and astounded by the many and wide fields of thought in which they seem at home. The reader may even wonder how one man could amass such knoweledge on so many subjects. Of course, it is well known that for all important pronouncements the pope makes use of preparatory commissions of experts, whose findings, and even formulations, are incorporated into papal documents.
Since it would be difficult to choose from among the enormous bulk of papal documents accumulated during twenty centuries of Church history those communications of a doctrinal and universal nature having the form of an encyclical, and since such a choice would be arbitrary and unprecedented, and might not be feasible, it has been thought preferable for the purposes of this collection to give for the period from the earliest time until 1740, a brief history of, and examples from, what can be given the generic name of "apostolic letters." Only those have been included which were judgments--which influenced the history of their times or of all time...
Future historians and theologians will spend lifetimes in the Library of the Past, restructuring the Nation-church's understanding of history. With a perspective built around the unfolding revelations and spiritual realities of our times, they will bring to light the true story of Christianity's Dark side. It will include a full account of the Roman church's blatant apostasies, its unholy marriage with the powers of this age, its own imperious rise to power, its violations of the precepts of Christ which held that each soul must work out its own salvation, (with a fear and trembling that issues forth from one's own heart and not from the Office of the Inquisition), and that none should make themselves lords over God's people, its violence and murders in the name of Christ, and its deceptions--all of which has led to the church's monumental inability to interpret the words of Peter or the signs of our times:
THE FALSE DONATION OF CONSTANTINE
Among the ways in which the Roman ecclesiasts fought to free the Western church from political domination was to assert its own sovereign territorial and political rights. One of the most ambitious of such assertions was the so-called Donation of Constantine (eighth century), a fraudulent document claiming papal succession to much of the old Roman Empire:
"The Emperor Caesar Flavius Constantinus in Christ Jesus...to the most Holy and blessed Father of fathers, Silvester, Bishop of the Roman city and Pope; and to all his successors, the pontiffs, who shall sit in the chair of blessed Peter to the end of time...Grace, peace, love, joy, long-suffering, mercy...be with you all...For we wish you to know...that we have forsaken the worship of idols...and have come to the purest Christian faith...
To the holy apostles, my lords the most blessed Peter and Paul, and through them also to blessed Silvester, our father, supreme pontiff and univeral pope of the city of Rome, and to the pontiffs his successors, who to the end of the world shall sit in the seat of blessed Peter, we grant and by this present we convey our imperial Lateran palace, which is superior to and excels all palaces in the whole world; and further the diadem, which is the crown of our head; and the miter; as also the super-humeral, that is, the stole which usually surrounds our imperial neck, and the purple cloak and the scarlet tunic and all the imperial robes...
And we decree that those most reverend men, the clergy of various orders serving the same most holy Roman Church, shall have that eminence, distinction, power, and precedence, with which our illustrious senate is gloriously adorned; that is, they shall be made patricians and consuls. And we ordain that they shall also be adorned with other imperial dignities. Also we decree that the clergy of the sacred Roman Church shall be adorned as are the imperial officers...
We convey to the oft-mentioned and most blessed Silvester, universal pope, both our palace, as preferment, and likewise all provinces, palaces and districts of the city of Rome and Italy and of the regions of the West; and bequeathing them to the power and sway of him and the pontiffs, his successors, we do determine and decree that the same be placed at his disposal, and do lawfully grant it as a permanent possession to the Holy Roman Church."
We have a more sure word of prophecy (coming); whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light shining in a dark place, (see Isaiah 9:1-7), until the Day dawn, and the Day Star arise in your hearts, (see Luke 1:76-80; open the Book of Malachi):
Knowing this first, that no prophecy is of any private interpretation.
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, (which is the mystery of God overshadowing the whole world).
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that brought them, (The Lord who was present in every dissenting voice against organized religion from the time of Christ itself, and the same who has been rising continuously in judgment against the false teachings of the church for the last several hundred years and more), and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation (indictment) slumbereth not...(2 Peter 1:18 to 2:3).
Measure thou the time diligently, then thou shalt understand that it is the very time wherein the Highest shall begin to visit the world which He made. Therefore when there shall be seen earthquakes and uproars of people in the world, then shalt thou well understand that the Most High spake of these things from the day that was before us.
The times of the Highest have plain beginnings in wonders and powerful works, and endings in effects and signs...(2 Esdras 9:2-6).
The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting him, desired that he would shew them a sign from heaven.
He answered and said unto them, When it is evening (in the West), ye say, it will be fair weather for the sky is red.
And in the morning (in the East), it will be foul weather today, for the sky is RED and lowering, ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky, but ye cannot discern the signs of the times...(Matthew 16:1-4; Luke 12:54-56).