Belief that Peter’s successor has the final say in all questions of faith and morals is almost as old as Rome itself.
E. Daniel Box
(1) Clement, the fourth Bishop of Rome, Letter to the Corinthians (96 AD)
“Accept our counsel and you will have nothing to regret...If anyone disobeys these things which have been said by [Jesus] through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in no small danger...You will afford us joy and gladness if, being obedient to these things which we have written through the Holy Spirit, you will root out the wicked passion of jealousy."
(2) Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, Letter to the Romans (107 AD)
"You [the church of Rome] have envied no one, but others have you taught. I desire only that what you have enjoined in your instructions may remain in force."
(3) Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, Against Heresies (inter 180-195 AD)
"[T]he greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul--that church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. With that church, because of its superior origin, all the churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world, and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition.
(4) Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, The Unity of the Catholic Church (inter 251-256 AD)
“On him [Peter] he [Jesus] builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra]…Indeed, the others [the apostles] were that also which Peter was, but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair…If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?"
(5) Ephraim of Syrian, Homilies 4:1 (351 AD)
"[Jesus said:] ‘Simon, my follower, I have made you the foundation of the holy Church. I betimes called you Peter, because you will support all its buildings. You are the inspector of those who will build on earth a Church for me. If they should wish to build what is false, you, the foundation, will condemn them. You are the head of the fountain from which my teaching flows; you are the chief of my disciples’"
(6) Optatus, Bishop of Milevi, The Schism of the Donatists (367 AD)
"In the city of Rome, the episcopal chair was given first to Peter, the chair in which Peter sat, the same who was head--that is why he is also called Cephas--of all the apostles, the one chair in which unity is maintained by all...[A]nyone who would [presume to] set up another chair in opposition to that single chair would, by that very fact, be a schismatic and a sinner...Recall, then, the origins of your chair, those of you who wish to claim for yourselves the title of holy Church."
(7) Damasus, Bishop of Rome, Decree of Damasus (382 AD)
“[T]he holy Roman Church has not been placed at the forefront [of the churches] by the decisions of church councils, but has received the primacy by the evangelic voice of our Lord and Savior, who says: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it; and I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. . . . ’ [Matt. 16:18–19]. The first See, therefore, is that of Peter the apostle, that of the Roman Church, which has neither stain nor blemish nor anything like it."
(8) Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, Commentary on Twelve Psalms of David (389 AD)
"It is to Peter that he says: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church’ [Matt. 16:18]. Where Peter is, there is the Church. And where the Church is, no death is there, but life eternal."
(9) Jerome, Letters 15:2 (396 AD)
"I follow no leader but Christ and join in communion with none but your blessedness [Damasus, Bishop of Rome], that is, with the chair of Peter. I know that this is the rock on which the Church has been built. Whoever eats the Lamb outside this house is profane. Anyone who is not in the ark of Noah will perish when the flood prevails."
(10) Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, Council of Ephesus, Session 3 (431 AD)
“Philip, the presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See [of Rome], said: ‘There is no doubt, and in fact it has been known in all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the apostles, pillar of the 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 that to him was given the power of loosing and binding sins: who down even to today and forever both lives and judges in his successors.’”
Daniel Box lives in Chicago with his wife, but is a proud Texan (Fort Worth native) and Mexican-American. He is a practicing real estate and zoning attorney, after having clerked with the Thomas More Society and served as the Board Chairman of the Chicago chapter of Young Catholic Professionals in 2015 and 2016. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics from the University of Dallas in 2012.