Petri Privilegium

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Petri Privilegium—"The Privilege of Peter", referring to the Pope's privilege of infallibility—is a collection of three extended pastoral letters by Henry Edward Manning, second Archbishop of Westminster, written before and after the First Vatican Council (1869–70). In the letters, Manning defends the institution of papal primacy and the doctrine of papal infallibility, which would receive formal definition at the Council. He justifies the decision to define the doctrine at that particular point in time, and in the final letter seeks to refute criticism of the conduct of the Council.

In the appendices to the first and third letters, the book contains a number of original documents relating to the Council and the decision to define the doctrine of papal infallibility.







Πᾶσι τῆς τοῦ μακαρίου Πέτρου φωνῆς ἑρμηνεὺς καθιστάμενος.

Epist. Concil. Chalced. ad S. Leon. Magn.
Concil. Labbe, tom. iv. p. 1235.




'Soliditas enim illius fidei, quæ in Apostolorum principe est laudata, perpetua est: et sicut permanet quod in Christo Petrus credidit, ita permanet quod in Petro Christus instituit.

S. Leo Magn. Serm. iii. 2,
Ed. Ballerini, Venet. 1753.

Magnum et mirabile, dilectissimi, huic viro consortium potentiæ suæ tribuit divina dignatio: et si quid cum eo commune cæteris voluit esse principibus, nunquam nisi per ipsum dedit quicquid aliis non negavit.

Ibid. iv. 2.

Soliditas enim ilia, quam de Petra Christo etiam ipse Petra factus accepit, in suos quoque se transfudit hæredes.'

Ibid. iv. 4.


The three Pastoral Letters, now collected in one volume, were written at separate times, and contain three distinct parts of the same subject; that is to say, the Infallibility of the Roman Pontiff.

The first, which treats of the eighteenth Centenary of St. Peter's martyrdom, simply affirms the doctrine of Infallibility as it has been enunciated and taught by the Theological tradition of the Church.

The second traces the line of the historical tradition by which the same Catholic doctrine has been affirmed.

The third states and explains the doctrine of the Infallibility of the Roman Pontiff as it has been defined by the Œcumenical Council of the Vatican.

Taken as a whole the three Pastorals present at least an outline of this revealed truth, now happily for ever placed beyond controversy or doubt by the divine authority of the Church.

They record, also, the indiction, the prelude, and the first four sessions of the first Council of the Vatican, the nineteenth Œcumenical Synod of the Catholic Church, which will leave its indelible mark upon the future, as the Council of Trent has left its impression upon the past and present, of the Christian world.

Christmas 1870.

This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.