Choose a topic from Vol 2:


Proof of God's existence
God's nature
Supreme control over all things and the problem of suffering and evil


Destiny of man
Immortality of man's soul
Pre-existence denied
The human free will
Determinism absurd


Necessity of religion
Salvation of the soul
Voice of science
Religious racketeers
Divine revelation
Revealed mysteries
Existence of miracles

The Religion of the Bible

Gospels historical
Missing Books of the Bible
The Bible inspired
Biblical account of creation
New Testament problems
Supposed contradictions in Sacred Scripture

The Christian Faith

Source of Christian teaching
Jewish rejection of Christ
Christianity a new religion
Rational foundation for belief
Causes of unbelief

A Definite Christian Faith

Divisions amongst Christians
Schisms unjustified
Facing the problem
The wrong approach
Is one religion as good as another?
Obligation of inquiry
Charity and tolerance

The Protestant Reformation

Meaning of "Protestant"
Causes of the Reformation
Catholic reaction
Reformers mistaken
The idealization of Protestantism
The Catholic estimate

The Truth of Catholicism

Meaning of the word "Church"
Origin of the Church
The Catholic claim
The Roman hierarchy
The Pope
The Petrine text
St. Peter's supremacy
St. Peter in Rome
Temporal power
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Apostolicity of the Church
Indefectibility of the Church
Obligation to be a Catholic

The Church and the Bible

Catholic attitude towards the Bible
Is Bible reading forbidden to Catholics?
Protestant Bibles
The Catholic Douay Version
Principle of private interpretation
Need of Tradition
The teaching authority of the Catholic Church

The Dogmas of the Church

Revolt against dogma
Value of a Creed
The divine gift of Faith
Faith and reason
The "Dark Ages"
The claims of science
The Holy Trinity
Creation and evolution
Grace and salvation
The Sacraments
Holy Eucharist
The Sacrifice of the Mass
Holy Communion
The Catholic Priesthood
Marriage and divorce
Extreme Unction
The resurrection of the body
The end of the world

The Church and Her Moral Teachings

The Inquisition
Other superstitions
Attendance at Mass
Sex education
Attitude to "Free Love"

The Church in Her Worship

Magnificent edifices
Lavish ritual
Women in Church
Catholics and "Mother's Day"
Liturgical Days
Burial rites
Candles and votive lamps
The rosary
Lourdes water
The Scapular

The Church and Social Welfare

Social influence of the Church
The education question
The Church and world distress
Catholic attitude towards Capitalism
The remedy for social ills
Communism condemned
The Fascist State
Morality of war
May individuals become soldiers?
The Church and peace
Capital punishment
Catholic Action

Comparative Study of Non-Catholic Denominations

Defections from the Catholic Church
Coptic Church
Greek Orthodox Church
Anglican Episcopal Church
The "Free" or "Nonconformist" Churches
Church of Christ
Seventh Day Adventists
Plymouth Brethren
Catholic Apostolic Church or Irvingites
Salvation Army
Christian Science
British Israelism
Liberal Catholics
Witnesses of Jehovah
Buchmanism or the "Oxford Group Movement"
From Protestantism to Catholicism

To and From Rome

Conversion of Cardinal Newman
Why Gladstone refrained
The peculiar case of Lord Halifax
Gibbon the historian
Secession of Father Chiniquy
Father Tyrrell, the modernist
Bishop Garrett's departure
Judgment on lapsed Catholics
Protestant apathy towards conversion of Catholics
Principles for converts to Catholicism
God's will that all should become Catholics

The Petrine text

316. Where in the Bible does it say that Peter was the Vicar of God?

The three classical passages in which St. Peter's supremacy over the Church is clearly shown are as follows: In the Gospel of St. Matt. XVl., 18-19, we find Christ saying to Peter, "I say to thee that thou art 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 thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, it shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall he loosed also in heaven." Christ there constituted Peter head of the Church in promise, declaring that the office would carry with it the power to act vicariously in the name of God. In St. Luke, XXII., 31-32, we have the words of Christ, "Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he might sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and do thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren." St. John, XXI, 15-17, tells us how Christ, after His resurrection, commissioned St. Peter to feed His lambs, and to feed His sheep, i.e., to be shepherd over the whole flock.

317. On the strength of the text, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church," you accord Peter absolute sovereignty over the Church !

Christ alone has absolute sovereignty over the Church. St. Peter had merely a delegated authority from Christ, and it was subject to conditions imposed by Christ.St. Peter could not change the faith taught by Christ, as he could do had he absolute authority. Had he that, he could have altered things as he pleased. But no. He had to teach what Christ taught. Therefore we do not accord St. Peter absolute authority. But we do say that the fullness of Christ's authority within the limits imposed by Christ was so given to him that all others in the Church were still more secondary in relation to Peter.

318. Is it not dangerous to base a theory or a dogma upon an isolated proof-text, instead of considering the teaching of Jesus as a whole?

Do not confuse theories with dogmas. A dogma is a defined and certain teaching lifted far above the realm of mere theories. But now for your question. There would be nothing dangerous in basing a dogma even on one isolated proof-text, provided the meaning of that text was quite clear, and its interpretation in no way opposed to anything else in the teachings of Jesus recorded in the Gospel pages. The one text used, after all, would be as much the Word of God as any other texts. As a matter of fact, however, the doctrine of St. Peter's primacy is not based only on one text. It is borne out by other texts, and also by the teaching of Jesus as a whole.

319. There are weighty reasons for regarding the words "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church" as a later addition to the text.

Even were this particular text not genuine, the primacy of St. Peter could be quite satisfactorily proved from many other places in Scripture. However, the text as given in St. Matthew's Gospel is quite authentic.

320. I think the arguments against its authenticity outweigh those in its support.

The wish is the father to such a thought. And your anxiety to get rid of the text is a telling tribute to its value on behalf of Rome in your own unconscious estimate.

321. It seems probable that the words were added in the interests of an ecclesiasticism anxious to discipline those who disputed its claims.

It is certain that the charge of their addition is made in the interests of those who desire to avoid submission to the authority of the Pope as successor of St. Peter. And they grasp at the flimsiest of excuses to secure their elimination. Your contention will deserve consideration only when you are prepared to say just when they were added and by whom.

322. St. Matthew alone gives the words, though they occur in a passage taken from St. Mark (the earliest Gospel).

It is sheer guesswork that St. Mark's was the earliest Gospel or that St. Matthew made any use of it. The Aramaic genius of the wording in the Petrine text in St. Matthew's Gospel and the sequence of thought in the whole of the context forbid the idea that the text does not belong to the original Gospel. The words appear in all the very oldest Codices, and all editors of the Gospel text give them as certain and guaranteed by the rules of scientific criticism. As, for example, Tischendorfl, Westcott and Hort, Von Soden, Vogels, and others. Nor can any reasonable explanation of the general acceptance of the text throughout the whole Church be given by those who wish to evade its force by the back-door method of denying its authenticity. I might remark that, by the same method, one could wipe out every single text in Scripture which did not happen to fit in with one's own personal theories.

323. If it was not a later addition, why did St. Mark omit the words?

The reasons should be obvious. St. Mark was St. Peter's companion, and wrote chiefly from St. Peter's own teachings. St. Peter had humility enough not to insist on his own prerogatives. Moreover, to the immediate readers of St. Mark the words were already well known both from the Gospel of St. Matthew, and from the oral teaching of the other Apostles.

324. Granted that the text is genuine, the early Fathers differed from Rome's present interpretation. Most of them see in the "rock" not Peter, but Christ, or Peter's confession of faith.

You are an optimist in your appeal to "most" of the Fathers. I admit that quite a number of them give different explanations of this text. I have the list of all their various utterances, drawn up for the consideration of the Vatican Council at the time of the definition of papal infallibility. But the point to be noted about the Fathers is this: They were not bent on giving exegetical interpretations, but theological; and they covered the whole ground against early heresies. You would find in their writings their assertions that Peter is the head of the Church, subordinate only to Christ; that the confession or faith of Peter is the rock foundation of the Church insofar as the Church will ever be preserved in the truth through Peter. The Fathers declare also that all the Apostles are the foundation of the Church, but under the authority of Peter. If you have so great a respect for the Fathers, why do you not accept their general verdict, apart from their comments upon this particular text, that St. Peter was given the primacy by Christ over the whole Church?

325. Peter, of course, does mean rock. But was not Christ's expression a mere play on words?

In the name of all the Apostles St. Peter had solemnly proclaimed that Jesus was indeed the Son of Almighty God, and in return received the not less solemn words, addressed to him in the singular, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church." To say that the use of Peter's name was a mere play on words is folly. The text is undoubtedly a proof of the intentions of Christ, initial and persistent, concerning a regular and lasting constitution which He foresees.

326. The rock cannot refer to Peter, for the original Latin gives "Petros" for Peter, and "Petra" for rock.

All reputable scholars today, both Catholic and Protestant, admit that no valid argument against the Catholic doctrine can be built up from the different genders of petros and petra. For our Lord spoke in Aramaic, and St. Matthew wrote originally in Aramaic, a Hebrew dialect in current use when Christ lived and spoke to tnen. From the Aramaic a Greek translation was made. Then from the Greek a Latin translation was made. The Latin has "Petrus" for Peter, not "Petros." "Petros" is not Latin, but Greek. Now in Latin the word for rock, petra, is a feminine noun. Naturally the word was given a masculine form, "Petrus," when applied to the man, Peter. But the external difference in the Latin or Greek forms of the word, due to considerations of gender, do not affect the question. For in the Aramaic language used by Christ there was no such difference. He said, "Thou art 'Kepha,' and upon this 'Kepha' I will build My Church." The word was exactly the same on each occasion. And it was because Christ used the word "Kepha" that we sometimes find Peter called "Cephas," a Greek transliteration of the Aramaic word itself. No argument from the forms employed in the Latin or Greek translations, therefore, can avail in this matter. See also R. R., Vol. I, Nos. 360-376.

327. When Christ said, "Upon this rock I will build my Church," He was referring to Himself.

That cannot be accepted. Christ had deliberately changed Simon's name to Peter, which means a rock. And He certainly did not do that merely for the sake of calling him a rock. There was a more profound significance in it than that. Now take the present context. Christ said to His disciples, "Whom do men say that the Son of man is?" Simon Peter replied, "Thou art Christ, the Son of the Living God."Then Christ said to him in the singular, "Thou art rock, and upon this rock I will build my Church." Even from the grammatical point of view "this" must refer to the nearest noun. If I said, "Paul is an Apostle, and this Apostle will go to the Gentiles," all would know that I was not suddenly changing the reference to myself. Protestant scholars themselves today admit that this is the only really grammatical interpretation, and that other interpretations have been due to theological prejudices.

328. Christ is the rock. He is called the chief corner stone.

Dr. Plummer, the Protestant scholar, writes as follows in his commentary on St. Matthew: "The fact that Christ Himself elsewhere, by a different metaphor, is called the 'corner stone' (Eph. II., 20; 1 Pet. II., 4-8), must not lead us to deny that Peter is here the foundation rock or stone. In Eph. II., 20, the Apostles and Christian Prophets are the foundation, as Peter is said to be here. The first ten chapters of Acts show us in what sense Peter was the foundation on which the first stones of the Christian Israel were laid. He was the acknowledged Head of the Apostolic body, and he took the lead in admitting both Jews and Gentiles into the Christian Church. "All attempts to explain the 'rock' in any other way than as referring to Peter have ignominiously failed." (Briggs, North Amer. Rev., Feb., 1907, p. 348).



Prefer a PRINT version?