The Decrees of the Vatican Council/Part 3/Chapter 2

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On the Perpetuity of the Primacy of Blessed Peter in the Roman Pontiffs

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 to 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 the faith and foundation of the Catholic Church, received 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 of Rome, which was founded by Him and consecrated by His Blood.[1]

Whence, whosoever 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 petræ perseverans), has not abandoned the direction of the Church.[2] Wherefore it has at all times been necessary that every particular Church—that is to say, the faithful throughout the world—should come to the Church of Rome on account of the greater princedom it has received; so that in this See, whence the rights of venerable communion spread to all, they might as members joined together in their head grow closely into one body.[3] If, then, anyone shall say that it is not by the institution of Christ the Lord, or by divine right, that Blessed Peter has a perpetual line of successors in the primacy over the universal Church; or that the Roman Pontiff is not the successor of Blessed Peter in this primacy; let him be anathema.

  1. From the Acts (session third) of the Third General Council, namely, that of Ephesus, A.D. 431, Labbe's Councils, vol. viii, p. 1154, Venice edition of 1728. See also letter of St Peter Chrysologus to Eutyches, in life prefixed to his works, p. 13, Venice, 1750.
  2. From Sermon iii, chap, iii, of St Leo the Great, vol. i, p. 12.
  3. From St Irenaeus against Heresies, book iii, cap. iii, p. 175, Benedictine edition, Venice, 1734; and Acts of Synod of Aquileia, A.D. 381, Labbe's Councils, vol. ii, p. 1185, Venice, 1721.