Section 3. The Papal Supremacy
This is but natural, and is parallel to instances which happen daily, and may be so considered without prejudice to the divine right whether of the Episcopate or of the Papacy. It is a common occurrence for a quarrel and a lawsuit to bring out the state of the law, and then the most unexpected results often follow. St. Peter's prerogative would remain a mere letter, till the complication of ecclesiastical matters became the cause of ascertaining it. While Christians were "of one heart and one soul," it would be suspended; love dispenses with laws. Christians knew that they must live in unity, and they were in unity; in what that unity consisted, how far they could proceed, as it were, in bending it, and what at length was the point at which it broke, was an irrelevant as well as unwelcome inquiry. Relatives often live together in happy ignorance of their respective rights and properties, till a father or a husband dies; and then they find themselves against their will in separate interests, and on divergent courses, and dare not move without legal advisers. Again, the case is conceivable of a corporation or an Academical body, going on for centuries in the performance of the routine-business which came in its way, and preserving a good understanding between its members, with statutes almost a dead letter and no precedents to explain them, and the rights of its various classes and functions undefined,—then of its being suddenly thrown back by the force of circumstances upon the question of its formal character as a body politic, and in consequence developing in the relation of governors and governed. The regalia Petri might sleep, as the power of a Chancellor has slept; not as an obsolete, for they never had been carried into effect, but as a mysterious privilege, which was not understood; as an unfulfilled prophecy. For St. Ignatius to speak of Popes, when it was a matter of Bishops, would have been like sending an army to arrest a housebreaker. The Bishop's power indeed was from God, and the Pope's could be no more; he, as well as the Pope, was our Lord's representative, and had a sacramental office. But I am speaking, not of the intrinsic sanctity or divinity of such an office, but of its duties.
The problem for the cardinal here is that St. Peter, the "father" or "husband" of his example, had already died nearly a lifetime before St. Ignatius wrote his epistles. Again, the apologists of Pastor Aeternus undermine the cardinal by their insistence that "The famous letter of St. Clement of Rome to the Corinthian church (about 96) exhibits the earliest evidence concerning the ecclesiastical primacy of the Roman Church." Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04363b.htm
making it a matter of popes-if such a thing existed in the Pastor Aeternus sense-not bishops, by the time St. Ignatius wrote, in particular as the gnostics against whom St. Ignatius warns had already reared their heads while the Apostles were still walking the earth and writing the NT, and had spread from Jerusalem, through Syria, by Asia and Egypt, to Rome by the time St. Ignatius made the journey there. So the gnostics long before St. Ignatius made the unwelcome inquiry "in what that unity consisted, how far they could proceed, as it were, in bending it, and what at length was the point at which it broke" and pressed its relevance to, according to the cardinal, "the duties" of the office of supreme pontiff.
And that is if we get past the fact that Scripture records that St. Peter did not exercise "St. Peter's prerogative." When the issue of the Samaritans came up, the Apostles sent St. Peter, obvious disproof (on good authority: John 13:16) of any "prerogative"; at Antioch St. Paul withstood St. Peter to his face, and at the Council of Jerusalem the Apostles addressed "the question of its formal character as a body politic" and St. James, not St. Peter with his "regalia," pronounced the Church's judgement. A "mysterious privilege" indeed, that the Apostles knew nothing about. Indeed, St. Peter himself, as "a fellow presbyter" (I Peter 5:1) invokes no such "privilege" but appeals to the episcopate (5:2-6), and not his "successors" in "Babylon" as "our Lord's representative, and ha[ving] a sacramental office"-a belief belied by the fact that the Vatican to this day has no order of "pope," nor any consecration therefor.
And St. Paul had already spoke of bishops, to the bishops Timothy and Titus, in scripture, and had handed the Church off to the episcopate with no mention of such an office as "pope":
16 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hastening to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost. 17 And from Mile'tus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. 18 And when they came to him, he said to them: "You yourselves know how I lived among you all the time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which befell me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance to God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, bound in the Spirit, not knowing what shall befall me there; 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may accomplish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And now, behold, I know that all you among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom will see my face no more. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities, and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by so toiling one must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" 36 And when he had spoken thus, he knelt down and prayed with them all.
Here St. Paul speaks of the army coming to usurp the Church, and testifies that he delivered to them the WHOLE counsel of God-and yet not a word about any "appeal to Peter and his successors at Rome."
When the Church, then, was thrown upon her own resources, first local disturbances gave exercise to Bishops, and next ecumenical disturbances gave exercise to Popes; and whether communion with the Pope was necessary for Catholicity would not and could not be debated till a suspension of that communion had actually occurred. It is not a greater difficulty that St. Ignatius does not write to the Asian Greeks about Popes, than that St. Paul does not write to the Corinthians about Bishops. And it is a less difficulty that the Papal supremacy was not formally acknowledged in the second century, than that there was no formal acknowledgment on the part of the Church of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity till the fourth. No doctrine is defined till it is violated.
And, in like manner, it was natural for Christians to direct their course in matters of doctrine by the guidance of mere floating, and, as it were, endemic tradition, while it was fresh and strong; but in proportion as it languished, or was broken in particular places, did it become necessary to fall back upon its special homes, first the Apostolic Sees, and then the See of St. Peter.
Here again the cardinal asserts what the NT denies, as if he had never read Eusebius. Already the Nicholas of Acts had broke communion as shown in the Revelation of St. John the Divine, and Simon Magnus, who once joined the communion of the Church, had come to Rome to break it, "first the Apostolic Sees, and then the See of St. Peter" both at Antioch and at Rome, and before the time of St. Ignatius. Tradition was no fresher and stronger than when Apostles still walked the earth, but as St. Paul's admonitions to St. Timothy show, they could not "direct their course in matters of doctrine by the guidance of mere floating," but pointed to the Apostolic authority of the episcopate.
If there were a doctrine of papal supremacy, it should have been defined when the Apostles sent St. Peter to Samaria, when St. Paul rebuked St. Peter to his face, or when the Council of Jerusalem bowed to the judgement of St. James. The gnostics denied the episcopate founded by the Apostles in the Apostolic sees and the Sees of St. Peter, from the time of Simon Magnus fought St. Peter at Rome, at least half a century before St. Ignatius writing to Roman Greeks but not on popes.
If "St. Paul does not write to the Corinthians about Bishops," St. Clement evidently didn't know about it:
Take up the epistle of the blessed Apostle Paul. What did he write to you at the time when the gospel first began to be preached? Truly, under the inspiration of the Spirit, he wrote to you concerning himself, and Cephas, and Apollos, because even then parties had been formed among you. But that inclination for one above another entailed less guilt upon you, inasmuch as your partialities were then shown towards apostles, already of high reputation, and towards a man whom they had approved. But now reflect who those are that have perverted you, and lessened the renown of your far-famed brotherly love. It is disgraceful, beloved, yea, highly disgraceful, and unworthy of your Christian profession, that such a thing should be heard of as that the most steadfast and ancient church of the Corinthians should, on account of one or two persons, engage in sedition against its presbyters. And this rumour has reached not only us, but those also who are unconnected with us; so that, through your infatuation, the name of the Lord is blasphemed, while danger is also brought upon yourselves.http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1010.htm
So this Golden Age of the cardinal, when the Church was not assaulted on all sides and from within by the gates of Hell, the Apostles and those they put in place to succeed them know nothing of it, and yet they also know nothing of any exercise of popes in these ecumenical disturbances suspending communion.