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

St. Peter's supremacy

329. Could you imagine our Lord building His Church on a mere man, no matter how good he was?

There is no room for imagining what Christ would do, or would not do, when we know what He did do.

330. Is it not more consistent with God's plan that His Church should be built on the rock of Peter's confession, and not on Peter?

That profession of faith by Peter was but a preliminary condition which occasioned the promise of Christ to Peter himself. The attributing to the confession of what should be attributed to Peter himself does violence to the text and context. The Protestant scholar Kuinoel says, "Many interpreters have wrongly understood Christ Himself to be the rock, or the profession of faith by Peter. They would not have taken refuge in these distorted interpretations if the Pope had not wrongly tried to vindicate for the successors of St. Peter a singular and divine authority based upon the words 'upon this rock.' "

331. That necessary foundation, faith in Christ, is still firm and strong; but Peter is long since dead.

It is still a firm and strong principle that faith in Christ is necessary to the Christian religion. But many who profess to be Christians are not firm and strong in that faith. The faith cannot look after itself. It is necesary that authorized agents be appointed to teach and preserve the faith. That is the whole genius of the Catholic Church established by Christ, and founded by Him upon the Apostles, of whom the chief was Peter. Meantime, Peter is not long since dead. The office confided to him has persevered in the Church, and Peter still lives on in his successors--the Popes.

332. If Peter was the rock, and had the supremacy, why the later argument as to which of the Apostles would be the greater?

Their dispute confirms the Catholic position. As they did not at first understand fully many other things that Christ had said to them, and some of them not until they had received the Holy Ghost on Pentecost Sunday, so they only imperfectly understood the sense of our Lord's words concerning the rock and the keys. Yet they knew that Simon's name only had been changed; that he had been called the rock by our Lord, and that he had been singled out for some pre-eminence. There is nothing more natural than that our Lord's apparently special treatment of some should have occasioned discussion amongst the twelve. And it is still more significant that our Lord, instead of telling them that all were equal, should have contented Himself with inculcating lessons of humility.

333. It certainly needs Roman Catholic spectacles to see Peter as the rock.

You are mistaken. In his book, "The Mission and Message of Jesus," recently published, the Rev. Dr. T. W. Manson, a Protestant authority, declares that the "rock" is Peter himself, and says that verse 19 of Matt. XVI., read in the light of Isaiah XXII., 22, declares that Peter is the ruler of the Church, "God's vicegerent in all the affairs of the kingdom on earth." And he adds, "The authority of Peter is an authority to declare what is right and wrong for the Christian community. His decisions will be confirmed by God." But Dr. Manson adds that, although this is the meaning of the text, the verses afford no justification "for the exaggerated papal claims which have been built upon them." After those last words, no one could accuse Dr. Manson of wearing what you term "Roman Catholic spectacles." Yet he sees clearly that Peter was the rock upon which Christ would build His Church. To preserve his Protestant position, he merely tries to find a new explanation as to "how" Christ built the Church on Peter. But the fact he does not deny, much as it would suit his case to do so.

334. You insist therefore that Matt. XVI., 18, confers a despotic, universal, unlimited power on Peter?

There is no need to bring in the words despotic and unlimited. His authority was universal insofar as it extended to the whole Church. But it was limited by the law of God and the will of Christ. In no sense was it despotic, for Christ never tired of insisting that authority in the Church must be accompanied by humility and saturated with charity. "The princes of the nations," He said, "lord it over them; but it shall not be so among you; but let him that is chief among you be the servant of all." Mk. X., 42-43. Those words condemn despotism, though we must not lose sight of the fact that, by legislating for him that is chief, it arranges for someone to be chief.

335. A few verses after Peter is called the rock, Christ said to him, "Get thee behind me, satan . . . thou savorest not the things of God, but those that be of man." Mk. VIII., 33.

Peter's love for Christ could not bear the thought that his Master should have to endure the things of which He then began to speak. Our Lord appreciated the sympathy which prompted Peter's protest, but insisted strongly that such things must be. In no way did He withdraw any official standing from Peter. If you think He did because these words are subsequent to the promise, then I must draw your attention to the words given by St. Luke XXII., 32, and certainly subsequent to the rebuke you quote, "I have prayed for thee, Simon, that thy faith fail not; and do thou, being converted, confirm thy brethren."

336. If you take the promise literally, why not take it literally that Peter is satan?

The word satan must be taken literally, in its literal sense of adversary. In an appropriated sense it is applied to the devil as "the" adversary of God and man. In this appropriated sense it does not apply to Peter. His proposal, dictated by his love and affection for Christ, that Christ should not suffer, was adverse to the will of God. But it was not dictated by hatred of God. The dispositions of Peter were quite the opposite of those entertained by the devil.

337. Later on Peter denied Christ.

After the denial Christ said to him. "Feed My lambs: feed My sheep." Jn. XXI., 15-17. It is quite certain that Peter's denial did not affect the fulfillment of Christ's promise to him.

338. Is Peter "a" or "the" foundation of the Church?

He is both, for he is one of the foundations, and the chief of them, upon which Christ built His Church.

339. Then how do you account for Ephesians II., 19-20?

The verses are: "You are fellow citizens with the saints, and the domestics of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone." "Corner stone" is, of course, a different metaphor from "foundation stone." Christ is at once the Builder of the Church and the "corner stone" holding it together. But He built it upon the Apostles and Prophets as foundation stones, Peter being the "foundation rock" upon which Christ based the whole of His building. That is the sense of the words, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church." And such is the only interpretation sound scholarship will permit. The Protestant Dr. Plummer warns his readers not to be influenced in their interpretation of this text by the conclusion they wish to reach. He himself most decidedly rejects papal authority today. Yet he says of this Petrine text: "The Messiah is going to build His Church, a new Israel, for which Peter is to supply the foundation. It is quite clear that here Christ Himself is not the foundation rock or foundation stone. He is the builder of the edifice." Then he gives the words recorded in 328 above.

340. Matt. XXVIII., 18-20, shows that all the Apostles were equal, and that no one was greater than any other.

The commission to the Apostles to go and to teach all nations, and the promise to be with them all days till the end of the world have no reference to the constitutional authority binding them together amongst themselves. Consequently, the passage you quote does not affect the interpretation of the Petrine texts.

341. In Rev. XXI., 14, John says of the New Jerusalem that the wall had 12 foundations, and on them the names of the 12 Apostles.

That accords with the fact that Christ founded His Church upon the 12 Apostles collectively. But when we come to the relationship prevailing between the Apostles, we notice that whilst all were equal in the special privileges of the apostolate as such, the primacy amongst the Apostles was given as a unique privilege to St. Peter alone. St. Peter was equal with the others as an Apostle. They had no powers he did not possess. But as regards internal authority in the very constitution of the Church, the other Apostles were not equal to Peter, for he had a power they did not possess--that of the primacy over the whole Church.

342. If Peter was head, why didn't he appoint Matthias straight out, instead of joining with the other Apostles in electing him?

If you read Acts I., 15-26, you will notice that St. Peter directed the proceedings. It was he who rose and said, "Scripture must be fulfilled, and one of these who have accompanied us must be made a witness of the resurrection with us." Under his directions the election took place by ballot. St. John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople in the fourth century, and one of the greatest authorities on Christian doctrine, wrote of this passage: "We see here the providential care of St. Peter for the flock. He has the chief authority in this election, since all were entrusted to him. But although he takes the initiative, he refrains from using his full authority. He alone could have appointed Matthias. But in a spirit of simple humility, and to avoid appearing high handed, he graciously permits all to participate."

343. A Protestant clergyman told me that St. James, Bishop of Jerusalem, was the supreme Bishop in the early Church.

The desire to exalt St. James is born of the wish to depreciate St. Peter. But if St. James was the supreme Bishop in the early Church, who succeeded him in that office? We can point to the successors of St. Peter. Where is the rival lineage derived from St. James? It is intelligible that opponents of the Catholic Church should deny Peter's supremacy, and insist that all the Apostles were equal in all things. That would not be true, but I say that it would be intelligible. But to say that St. James was the superior of all the other Apostles is disastrous to the anti-papal position. For thus an office essential to the very constitution of the Church has lapsed!

344. Why did St. James preside at the Council of Jerusalem recorded in Acts XV.?

He did not do so. St. Peter presided. Acts XV., 7, says, "After much disputing Peter rose up and said." He then decided the issue. Verse 12 tells us that after Peter had spoken all held their peace. James then expressed his assent to St. Peter's decision. St. James, as local Bishop of Jerusalem, would naturally have a prominent position at the meeting, since it took place in Jerusalem. But there can be no doubt about his deference to the oecumenical position of St. Peter as chief of the Apostles.

345. If St. Peter was supreme, how could the Apostles send him on a mission?

They could not do so by any command based upon authority over him. Even you will admit that, for if you won't agree that the other Apostles were subject to Peter, you will not go to the other extreme of saying that he was subject to them. The expression is quite easily explained by common counsel and request, based on the general judgment that so important a matter warranted the attention of St. Peter precisely because of his pre-eminence. Much the same thing could occur in a modern Religious Order such as that of the Jesuits. One of the members is appointed in supreme control, and is known as the General. Now it could easily be that, in some important matter, all members would agree that the General himself should attend to it; and published reports would not be wrong in saying that the Jesuits sent their General himself to attend to the affair. And no one would interpret that collective reference as proof that the General was not head of the Order. In much the same way the faithful at Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas to consult the other Apostles at Jerusalem. (Acts XV., 2.) Yet they were subject to the authority of the ones they sent! No argument against the supremacy of St. Peter can be drawn from your suggested difficulty.

346. Paul says, "Other foundation no man can lay than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus."

If St. Paul believed that Christ was the one and only foundation, why did he write to the Ephesians, "You are built upon the foundation of the Apostles, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone"? If the place of Christ did not exclude the Apostles as secondary foundations, nor can it exclude the fact that St. Peter was chief of those secondary foundations.

347. In Gal. II., 7, Paul says he had the charge of the Gentiles, whilst Peter was for the Jews. That does not look like universal supremacy for Peter.

The universal commission to St. Peter is evident from Christ's instructions to him to feed lambs and sheep--the whole flock. In the text you quote, St. Paul is speaking of the practical exercise of the Apostolate, with no particular reference to the authority inherent in it; also he intended it as a temporary measure only, and as a general, not as an exclusive commission. St. Paul preached again and again to the Jews, and St. Peter to the Gentiles. But there is no contradiction here of the fact that St. Peter was head of the Church.



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