I Came To
The Pope


With an Introduction by His Grace, the Most Reverend

Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd.,
Publishers to the Holy See.
London, 1940.

The Mayflower Press, Plymouth.
William Brendon & Son, Ltd.

Nihil Obstat: Eduardus Can. Mahoney, S.Th.D., Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: E. Morrogh Bernard, Vic. Gen., Westmonasterii. die 22a Augusti 1940.

© 2004 & E-Transcription Lúcio Mascarenhas

We must either give up the belief in the Church as a divine institution altogether, or we must recognize it at this day in that communion of which the Pope is the head.... To believe in a Church is to believe in the Pope. — Newman: Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, 3.


In these days of upheaval, when civilization has been cast into the crucible, and it has become ever more clear that the struggle at present raging is between God and the powers of evil, many in sore perplexity are earnestly searching their hearts, only to find that the foundations on which they have built their religious life and practice are collapsing under the stern test of reality.

Men everywhere are groping after the truth. They feel strongly the necessity of having their feet firmly planted upon the rock of certainty, they feel that from an infallible teaching alone can they derive sufficient strength and courage to combat the forces of wickedness which are threatening to destroy all semblance of Christian life.

One Church alone can adequately supply all they seek, all that is needed for the crusader eager to buckle on the armour of Faith. Many are the creeds which have been examined and found wanting; many are those which have shrunk from facing the moral issues and promulgating those strong decisions which must be made and obeyed in any crisis. Only the Catholic Church has claimed and proved by her credentials that she is entitled and able to offer all that is sought and needed by men in quest of eternal truth.

We are pleased, therefore, to welcome this little book, written by one who has shown the determination to seek, and the courage to acknowledge and accept, the true fount of authoritative teaching established by Christ on earth.

Again and again do we hear it said that the Pope should be recognized as the real guide for a stricken world to-day. Few, however, proceed further to examine the basic reasons why the Pope should be invoked as the Father of all Christians and the moral arbiter among the nations.

May this account of the search for Christ's Church carried to a successful issue bring courage to those whose enquiries are leading them to the same conclusion, but who perchance shrink from the sacrifices entailed in taking the final step that will land them safely in the one true fold of the Divine Shepherd. In following the example of the author may they secure with Him the peace of soul that surpasses all understanding.

Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh


The following pages make no pretence to be an adequate, let alone an exhaustive, treatment of a subject which has already been so often and so ably dealt with as to leave little scope for further apologetic. Yet it sometimes happens that the naive account which a convert in no wise distinguished may give of the reasons which led to his conversion may reach 'the opposite number' in the experience of others who are still in the realm of inquiry. It is this that has led me to put into connected form some of the replies I have tried to give to those Anglican friends who have taken a sincere and most kindly interest in my conversion. This will explain the personal note in what follows, as well as the absence of any more formal treatment.

Long before I had the courage to make my submission I had become convinced that there is no secure halting-place between the acceptance of institutional Christianity and submission to the See of Peter. It is my own progress from the one to the other, extending in fact over many years, but here set out in unbroken continuity, that I venture to present to the reader.

I wish to acknowledge most gratefully the kindness of his Grace the Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh in introducing these pages to Catholic readers, and for the help given me while writing them by the Rev. Fr. Cuthbert Lattey, S.J., of Heythrop College, and Lord Moncrieff.

Thomas J. Hardy
9 Palmerston Road,
In Fest. Annuc. B.V.M.

How I Came To Acknowledge The Pope

My Dear X,

When you tell me that you cannot understand how I can acknowledge the Pope as Head of the Church, I take you to mean as visible Head of the Church on earth.

Please don't think me pedantic. So many false notions are in circulation about the beliefs of Catholics that one cannot be too accurate.

Not long after my conversion I was told by more than one of my old friends that I had put the Pope in the place of Jesus Christ!

No Catholic would speak of the Pope as 'Head of the Church,' except for the sake of brevity, and only then if sure of being understood in the sense of the words in italics.

Every Catholic acknowledges the Head of the universal Church on earth and in the unseen world to be Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Pope he acknowledges to be the visible Head of the visible Church on earth.

It is this acknowledgement that so greatly excites your surprise.

Let me, then, try to set down as simply and briefly as I can the steps that led me towards it.

I must frankly confess that I was not at first actuated by any desire either to prove or the disprove the authority of the Pope. My quest was otherwise directed. I was alarmed by the widespread tendency within the Church in which I ministered to call in question our Lord's having ever founded a Church or instituted Means of Grace. You know how widespread this tendency is amongst the great mass of our fellow-countrymen. 'Christ?—Perhaps; the Church?—No.' Hence the decline in the attendance at public worship, the increasing indifference to Christian beliefs and ideals, the increasing tendency to seek or accept some new social nexus such as Communism, with its denial of the supernatural, and its concentration on the material, life.

In the world one was prepared to encounter this, and its answer lay in the living witness of the Church; but when Christians themselves called in question the institutional nature of Christianity the thing was worse than anomalous, it was a betrayal of the entire Christian position. For the sake, then, of those committed to my charge in the ministry, and especially of those newly ordained clergymen of whom, as Examining Chaplain, I had the responsible duty of supervision, I turned afresh to the Gospel narrative and set myself to answer four questions:
  1. Is it evident that Jesus Christ formed a Society?
  2. That He contemplated its continuance after His departure?
  3. That He purposed it should be one?
  4. And that it should be visible?
Please remember that at this early stage I was concerned only, as I am now concerned only, with the inquiry whether Jesus Christ founded an institution which is commonly called the Church.

I need scarcely add that I set about this task in the full belief that the Gospels are, in the finding of the most recent scholarship, the genuine products of the age to which they refer.

Were this not so there could be little or no object in examining their record.
I. First of all, then, I ask: Is there evidence in the Gospels that Jesus Christ formed a Society?
At the very commencement (St. Mark i, 15-20) I find our Lord gathering around Him a little band of followers or disciples. To these He added others to the number of twelve. Others were attracted to Him by His wonderful works and teaching, but these Twelve He Himself chose (St. John xv, 16). He attached them to His person in an especial sense and for three years taught and trained them. The first three Gospels and the Acts give lists of them, plainly indicating that in the belief of the authors of these records a Society was in contemplation.
II. Next, I ask: Is there evidence in the Gospels that Jesus Christ contemplated this Society continuing after His own departure from the earth?
You will recognize the importance of this question, for it is in the perpetuity of Christ's Society that our living interest in it to-day lies. Here, again, the Gospel facts are unmistakably clear. Christ expressly told His disciples that they would not be fully equipped for the work for which He had trained them until after He had departed from them (St. John xvi, 7-14; Acts i, 8). He appointed them a task which could not be accomplished in their own lifetime (St. Mark xvi, 15). He promised that His presence should be with them (i.e. with them and their successors) all days to the consummation of the world (St. Matt. xxviii, 19,20). Further, in a passage which we will consider more at length presently, He foretold that the gates of Hades or death should not prevail against His 'Church' (St. Matt. xvi, 18).
III. Do the Gospels lead us to conclude that Christ intended His Society to be one, i.e. at unity with itself?
All the parables by which in His teaching He illustrated His Society impress us with the unity of the figures selected: the mustard seed, the leaven, the vine, the rock, the city, etc. But still more impressive is the prayer which He offered for the members of His Society for all time:
That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, art in me and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us, in order that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me.

(St. John xvii, 21).

Now in the Greek, in which this prayer has come down to us, the word 'one' is so expressed as to convey the idea of unity not merely of agreement or of attachment or of purpose, but of existence. The members of His Society were to be 'one thing.' The utter integrity of this union transcends all notion of unity we can derive from earthly sources. 'One, as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee.' Christ can use no less an image of the unity of His Society than that of the Divine nature itself!

I cannot help asking you to pause here and consider the nature of this unity very carefully. It is fundamental to the entire conception of this Society all throughout all time.

You yourself, in common with all men of good will, desire unity for Christendom; but am I not right in saying that you look for it and pray for it as an end? Now Christ looked for it and prayed for it as a means: 'In order that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me.'

In other words, the world is to be convinced of the Divine authority of Jesus Christ by means of the unity of His Society. Unity is therefore the first thing to be secured. Moreover, He prayed for this unity. To the sincere believer it is impossible to doubt that Christ's prayer to the Father was answered; consequently not only was the unity of His Society in His intention; it was realized; it remains realized to-day. How we shall inquire later. For the present we are concerned only with His purpose. The Gospels leave us in no sort of doubt that He intended His Society to be one.

So far we have ascertained from the Gospel record that Christ did form a Society and that He purposed it should be perpetual and that it should be one. I next proceed to ask:
IV. Is it evident from the Gospels that Christ intended this Society to be visible?
Perhaps you say what a question! Surely a society must be visible.

Not necessarily so. There are secret societies the members of which are known only to each other, and not always to each other. But the evangelists report Christ saying to His followers: 'Ye are the light of the world, a city set on a hill that cannot be hid,' (St. Matt. v, 14-16) 'a candle placed on a candlestick that it may give light to all who are in the house' (St. Mark iv, 21). We find Him commanding them to teach, preach, baptize, none of which things can be done invisibly. He foretold also miracles and signs being done in His Name. He further foretold that His followers should be hated of all men for His sake, should be put out of the synagogues and even be slain, all of which forecasts were publicly and notoriously fulfilled. That is to say that His Society was visible to the whole world.

In fact, it is so obvious from all we read in the Gospels that Christ's followers were to form a visible society, easily recognized, known of all, that I am not surprised at your wondering why I should think it worth while to put it to proof.

I do so because few facts have been the subject of more confusion during the last four hundred years than this subject of the visibility of the Church.

The confusion began with the Reformation. Down to then it had not occurred to anyone to doubt that the one true Society of Christ was visible (In the schism of the East in the tenth century the East set up to be the visible Church. There was no juggling then with an invisible unity). But as various sects broke off in rapid succession from what had hitherto been recognized as the visible Church, each setting up its own claim to be a church, they were bound to take into account the unity of the Church, so plainly taught by Christ, and by their favourite apostle, St. Paul (e.g. Eph. iv, 4-6). The question arose: How could they square their divisions with this primal and perpetual unity?

This difficulty they thought to overcome by teaching that the unity spoken of by our Lord and elsewhere in Scripture was an invisible unity, a mystical communion of souls, known to God only. The one true Church was, therefore, invisible.

To-day all Protestant sects—including the Church of England—hold the doctrine of the invisibility of the true church. They hold an invisible unity in a visible disunity!

Each builds on its own denominational basis. Each strives for its own existence. Each promulgates a different gospel in heathen lands—including our own. While they are praying that they may 'lay to heart their unhappy divisions' they are apparently deaf to the prayer of the Son of God 'that they all may be one in order that the world may believe that Thou has sent me.' Have they ever candidly considered the possibility that the prayer of Christ may have been answered, and remained answered, and remains answered to-day in more than three hundred millions of souls who not only claim to be one but are recognized as being one by the whole world?

The inquiry, however, with which I had originally set out was concluded. I was satisfied that Institutional Christianity—Church-Christianity— was not a sub-apostolic after-though, but was directly traceable to the words and deeds of Jesus Christ. This conclusion, however, proved to be but a terminus a quo, an end, i.e., from which one takes off afresh. A further quest opened up before me. It concerned the visible unity of the Society Christ had formed. All I was able to recognize of it was a visible variety. The more convinced I was that Christ had formed this Society, and founded it to last as one Society to the end of time, the more perplexed I was by its evident disunion.

Brought up, as I had been, to believe that all the visible Christian congregations around me were 'somehow' parts of the true Church, I had nevertheless never been satisfied, from the time I began to think, with the theory of invisible or mystical unity. Especially was I conscious of the anomaly when, at inter-denominational services and meetings, proceedings opened with the hymn, 'Onward Christian soldiers,' and Churchmen, Methodists, Congregationalists, Baptists joined in singing:
We are not divided,
   All one body we,
One in hope and doctrine,
   One in charity.
What could it mean! Could any but a highly emotional people, untrammelled by reason and nurtured on sentiment, contribute such a corybantic fiction! 'Visibility' there certainly was, but the half-dozen mutually exclusive 'churches' that contributed to it destroyed all semblance of unity.

There must be, I reflected, something wrong with my handling of these two words. Unity—I couldn't go far wrong about that, but what about visibility? Had I got hold of the right meaning of the word? Did it merely consist in something that met the eye, like a church or a chapel, an altar or a pulpit, or a flag or a font or a Bible?

Then I discovered that there are two sorts of visibility. For this discovery I was indebted to Catholic philosophy—which, after all, is the philosophy of common (catholic) sense. I came to see that there is material and there is formal visibility. A very simple illustration will make the distinction plain: The people I meet in the street are materially visible to me; but if one of them happens to be an acquaintance, certain well-known features enable me to distinguish him from all others; he is not only materially but formally visible to me: I recognize him.

Now it was in this second more fundamental and spiritual that the Church was pronounced by her Founder to be 'visible.' A lighted candle cannot be mistaken for anything else. Men don't go up to a thorn tree expecting to gather figs. A city set on an hill not only cannot be hid, but will be recognized. There is no possibility of mistaking Edinburgh Castle for Stirling.

Recognizability, therefore, is the sense in which the word 'visibility' applies to the Society of Christ. 'That they all may be one in order that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me.' The world must be able to recognize this Society of Christ and to distinguish it from all other societies, however, in outward seeming, they may approximate to the original.

So now a fifth question arose in my mind:
V. What means, if any, did Christ take to render His Church recognizable?
That He should have formed a Society for the salvation of mankind, and, foreseeing that 'many should come in His Name and deceive many' (St. Matt. xxiv, 5), should not have imparted to that Society some distinguishing mark by which it could be identified by all men, everywhere and through all time, is utterly inconsistent with all we know of Him 'Who would have all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.'

At the risk of repetition let me point out that the recognizability of the Society is paramount to the whole institutional work of Christ. Unless the Society He formed to endure through the ages can be recognized through the ages He might as well (I speak with reverence) never have formed it at all. That He did form it and form it in the manner we have seen from the Gospel is the guarantee that it should be recognized easily, everywhere, by all.

Now this was a question, which, like the previous ones, could only be answered by the Gospel record. To the Gospels, accordingly, I returned.

I went over again the ground of my previous inquiry:

Here was Christ, founding a Society which was to last for all time; choosing men whom to train as the nucleus of that Society. Of these men, one stands out pre-eminent. His name stands first on each of these four lists (St. Matt. x, 2; St. Mark iii, 16; St. Luke vi, 14; Acts i, 13) to which I referred. He figures far more frequently than any of the rest in connection with our Lord's work. His name occurs 174 times in the New Testament (St. John, next in frequency, is mentioned only 29 times). When Christ has something of special importance to say to the rest He addresses them through St. Peter: e.g., 'He saith unto Peter, What could you (plural) not watch one hour with me?" (St. Matt. xxvi, 40) And, again, Peter is the spokesman of the rest, as e.g. 'Will you (plural) also go away?' Peter replied: 'Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast words of eternal life' (St. John vi, 68, 69). On the Resurrection morning the angels' commission to the women is: 'Go, tell His disciples and Peter' (St. Mark xvi, 7).

It is impossible in this brief sketch to go fully into the cumulative evidence of Peter's pre-eminence. Many volumes have been written by Catholics on the subject and each contributes fresh and valuable insight, but there remains one volume to which all the rest are indebted—the New Testament. Let me beg you to turn to this and to underscore every mention of the name of Peter. Not until I had done this, and considered each reference in the light of the context, did I perceive how much of the Gospel-history had been, for me, obscured.

The more I pondered these passages the more convinced I became that Peter had been singled out by Christ to be in some sort head and chief of the rest, and that he had by the rest been accepted as such.

Now let us recollect what drew our attention so particular to St. Peter: we had turned to the founding of the Society in the hope of discovering some mark by which that Society could always be recognized.

What kind of mark of identification would our Lord have been likely to use?

Is not every society recognized by its head?

Now, as I said at the first, Christ is Himself Head over the whole Church. But this, while a glorious truth, is useless for the purpose of recognizability because He is no longer visible, and to-day each one of a great number of separated religious societies claims Him as its Head.

A visible head, however, cannot be claimed by more than one body.

Here, then, was the reason of Christ's selection of Peter. He was to be the head representative on earth by whom the Society was to be known and distinguished, very much as the local head of a firm ensures identity with the original house. As St. Jerome puts it:
Out of the Twelve one is chosen that, by the institution of a head, the occasion of schism might be removed.

(Adv. Jovin. Migne: P.L., 14, 1082.)

Certainly, our Lord could have devised some other way of rendering His Church recognizable. But it is not here a question of what He could have done, but what He did. He condescended to the ordinary means men use to secure the identity of their societies of whatever kind. He left with it a visible Head, by whom and by whose successor it might forever be distinguished from all rival claimants.

Is there not something there so closely in line with His other procedures as to bear the hall-mark of His Divine wisdom? Did He not make the commonest things of life the vehicle of salvation?—water, the means of spiritual cleansing? bread—transubstantiated—the means of union with Himself and thus of spiritual nourishment? did He not use the universal gate of birth for His entrance into the world? did He not take our flesh—sin apart—and live the common life and make use of the dust of the ground and the water of the springs to perform His wonderful works? and here He lays hold of a universal custom, witnessed by every society and union and nation and confederacy, out of solicitude for those who otherwise would have been left to wander in utter bewilderment among the counterfeit forms of Christianity.

With these reflections freshly in mind, I went back to the Gospels once more.

The pre-eminence of Peter in the record seemed to afford strong presumptive evidence that Christ purposed to leave the rest of the apostles, so to speak, to his charge (In all this I am purposely employing undogmatic expressions as voicing the surmise in my own mind at this time. Later on, with the advent of more light, I gladly accepted the technical language of the Church.)

This evidence seemed further confirmed by the leading part which Peter took in the first days of the Church, as recorded in Acts.

I asked myself whether a complete stranger to Christianity, reading the Gospels and Acts simply as a record of the origin of Christianity would not naturally come to this conclusion.

Difficult as it is to rid oneself of preconceived ideas and to view, as for the first time, ground with which one has been familiar for more than sixty years, it seemed to me that, reading the whole record in this detached way, the impression gained was that of one apostle being specially trained and specially fitted to take charge of the rest.

Even if we had no more direct indication of our Lord's will in this matter, was there not sufficient evidence in this alone to justify first St. Cyprian and then St. Ambrose in saying ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia ('Where Peter is, there is the Church,' St. Cyprian, Ep. xl, 5; St. Ambrose, in Psalm. xl, 30) and thus disclosing the means Christ had taken for securing the recognizability of His Church?
VI. I now advanced to a further question:
Have we not an even more direct indication of our Lord's will in this matter? Supposing on the top of all this presumptive evidence we should find Christ definitely selecting Peter as the basis of His Society? definitely stating that the Society, so based, should overcome every adverse power? definitely imparting to Peter supreme jurisdiction over it? Supposing, I say, this were an authentic part of the record we have been examining, should we not agree that all doubt as to the way in which the true Church could be recognized had been removed and that the dictum ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia had origin not with St. Ambrose or St. Cyprian, but with Christ Himself?

But this is exactly what we do find! Hitherto I have passed over the longest, the most definite, and—so far as we may presume to distinguish between the teachings of our Lord—the most important of all His pronouncements concerning the Church. I have hitherto passed this over partly because I wished to see whether His more general teaching bore out the belief that He had formed a Society and contemplated its continuance; and partly because I must admit that the passage to which I am about to direct your attention had for long seemed to me to be isolated from the rest of His teaching and to have, in the words of the Protestant Archbishop Whateley, 'no ascertainable meaning' (Errors of Romanism.)

The passage in question is contained in the sixteenth chapter of St. Matthew, verses 13 to 19 (St. Mark viii, 27-30 and St. Luke ix, 18-21 record Peter's confession only, not our Lord's response). It will, of course, be perfectly familiar to you, but for convenience of reference let me quote it in full:
It was Cæsarea Philippi, a few months before He suffered, that Christ asked His disciples:

'Whom do men say that the Son of Man is?

'But they said: Some John the Baptist, the other some Elias, and others Jeremias or one of the prophets.

'Jesus saith unto them: But whom do you say that I am?

'Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the Living God.

'And Jesus answering, said to him:





(Douai Version.)

VII. Here, then, is a declaration of our Lord of the greatest moment. My next step was to examine this passage candidly on its own merits, apart from all preconceived notions. I invite you to share the investigation.
The passage falls naturally into three parts:
  1. Our Lord's questions to the disciples;
  2. Peter's confession of faith;
  3. Our Lord's response to Peter.
1. Our Lord's question to the disciples: Little need be said about this. Apparently more disciples than one answer the first question. This would naturally be so, as He asked whom men said that He was, and one disciple would have heard one opinion; another, another.

The second question: 'But whom do you say that I am?' was—significantly—answered by Peter only. Protestants say that he was merely the spokesman of the rest, voicing their beliefs. No doubt he was. But the foreman of a jury is not merely a juryman. He holds an office distinct from and superior to the rest. The fact that Peter spoke for the rest and voiced their belief is a clear indication of his fitness for the position which our Lord was about to confer upon him.

2. So we come to St. Peter's answer: 'Thou are Christ (Messiah) The Son of the Living God.' The Anglican Bishop, Neville Talbot, has recently asserted that this was a Jewish confession of faith (Great Issues, p. 61). To this we may oppose the opinion of another Anglican, Dean Alford, who, in his Commentary says on this passage: 'Peter's words expressed a view of the Person of Christ quite distinct from the Jewish Messiah.' We learn from St. Justin Martyr that the Jewish expectation was not that of a Divine Being, but of an 'eminently virtuous man selected by God for that reason for the Office' (Dialogue 48). Peter goes much further than this in his confession of faith. 'The Son of the Living God'—for which words need I say there is as good manuscript authority as for all the rest of the passage—was not a Messianic title at all. It was, as our Lord said, revealed to Peter by the Father. Apart altogether from our Lord's subsequent words this indicates Peter's importance as a vehicle or instrument of instruction in the true faith. Others might and did acknowledge Jesus as Messiah (e.g. St. Matt. ix, 27; xii, 23; xxi, 9), but, so far from Peter's confession being of this Jewish order, the remarkable fact is that faith in our Lord Jesus Christ as the Divine Son has never risen higher than in the words which Peter used on this occasion.

Here, then, in words spoken about the year 33, and recorded not later than A.D. 70, we have the full faith of Nicæa.

3. Christ's response to Peter.

The Protestant Commentator, Dr. Plummer, points out that nowhere else does Christ pronounce an individual 'Blessed' (Commentary on St. Matthew, 1928, p. 228). 'He commences,' says Dr. Plummer, 'with a solemn and formal mode of address, marking the supreme importance of what is to follow.'
Whether Peter was voicing the belief of the rest or no, there is no question that our Lord singles him out for a personal and individual reply. We may contrast the words: 'Whom do you say that I am/' with 'Blessed art thou, Simon.' This 'blessedness' is not due to any exercise of reasoning on Peter's part, but is, as our Lord expressly says, solely due to Peter's being the vehicle of revelation. Such is the preamble, the 'solemn and formal mode of address.'

Our Lord continues:
According to the Fourth Gospel, Christ had already, at their first meeting, foretold the change of the name Simon to Kepha (St. John i, 42). On that occasion we are told that Christ 'beheld' him. That word means in the original 'to observe closely.' To the discerning eye of Him Who 'knew what was in man,' the rock-qualities of stability and endurance were already present in Simon. He was already the 'rock,' awaiting, after further testing, the graver's tool.

Here, however, I met with two objections from the Protestant side:

The first is based on an alleged linguistic difficulty. In the Greek of our New Testament the name Petros (Peter) is masculine, whereas the word petra (rock) is feminine. On the strength of this difference it has been alleged by Protestants, that Christ did not say He would build His Church on Peter, but on the petra, or 'rock'—whatever that might be.

Now this difficulty was met long ago by a note in the Douai Version of the Bible. As, however, you have probably not looked up the passage in that version, let me to call in the aid of our Protestant authority, above cited. Dr. Plummer dismisses the difficulty in a very few words. 'No stress whatever,' he says, 'can be placed on the change of gender in the Greek.'

And why? Because, while our Lord's words have been preserved for us in the Greek Version, they were spoken in Aramaic, the dialect form of Hebrew in use in Palestine in His day; and in Aramaic, the same word, 'kepha' would be used both for Peter and for 'rock.' In the passage I alluded to just now (St. John i, 42) the word 'Kepha' is retained in the Greek (rendered 'Cephas' in our versions) as Simon's foretold new name, and he is so called more than once by St. Paul (1 Cor. ix, 5; xv, 5; Gal. ii, 9).

One further point: the Protestant scholars, Meyer and Weiss (quoted by von Hügel in Some Notes on the Petrine Claims, pp. 18, 20) concur in pronouncing the word 'this'—'On this rock'—to be emphatic as referring to St. Peter.

So far, then, as language is concerned, it is clear that our Lord meant: 'on no other rock than this, namely, Peter, I will build my Church.'

This objection disposed of, we proceed to the next:
it is urged by Protestant writers that the word 'rock' is used in different senses by the Fathers.
This is so. There might be ground for difficulty here if these different applications of the word were contradictory. As a matter of fact, they are complementary and explanatory. Taken together, they make the true meaning of the passage on the more clear. Thus: Christ is the original Rock on which Peter rests. Peter is the rock, or foundation, of the Church. As Christ did not select Peter by caprice, but by virtue of the revelation given him and of his faith in that revelation, both these may be said to be the rock. So also his confession is the rock; and inasmuch as a man's faith is an integral part of himself, Peter himself is the rock. It was to him alone and to none of the rest that Christ said: 'Thou are rock and on this rock I will build my Church.' So that it is scarcely possible for those using this passage, whether of St. Peter personally, or in some spiritual application of it, to go wrong or to contradict each other.

The late Fr. H.E. Hall says; 'The interpretation that Peter is the rock is the primary interpretation and is the oldest. It was the one current in the third century. Other interpretations were not in vogue until the fourth century. It is the interpretation adopted by the Church in solemn documents when it is important to display and state the authority on which she rested: e.g. in the sentence on Dioscurus at the Council of Chalcedon and in the formula of Pope Hormisdas (Catholic and Roman, p. 14).

Akin to the above objection is the difficulty Protestants experience in reconciling this conception of Peter as the rock-foundation of the Church with St. Paul's worlds: 'Other foundation can no man lay that that is laid, namely, Jesus Christ' (1 Cor. iii, 11). 'Can no man lay'—No: but the rock-foundation, Peter, was not laid by man; it was laid by Christ the Lord. It was jure Divino, 'by Divine right.' St. Paul was warning the Corinthians against their tendency to split themselves into sects, according as some favoured one apostle, some another, some himself, some Apollos, some Cephas or others. This, he says, is to divide Christ and to make many Saviours. The fact that St. Paul includes Peter (Cephas) in this unlawful selection shows incidentally how wrong it was to place him on the same footing with others as a mere candidate for their suffrages.

The above considerations must, I think, appeal to the candid mind as disposing of the two difficulties usually urged against the plain and unforced meaning of Christ's first words to Peter at Cæsarea.

Before we proceed with the rest of the words, let me briefly remind you of our motive in examining them, namely to ascertain what means Christ chose to render His Church recognizable.

While He Himself remained 'Head over all to the Church,' yet inasmuch as He was about to ascend into the heavens and to be invisibly present, He appointed a visible Head in communion with whom His Church might always be recognized by all.

With this brief reminder, let us continue our examination of Christ's words to St. Peter. We shall notice the sequence of thought in the words. Attention is not always called to this but it is essential to a perception of the significance of the passage as a whole. From speaking of a foundation, Christ passes to speak of the building:
Here, for a moment, the interest is transferred from Peter to the building. Christ has something of utmost importance to say about the building. Yet it is the building founded on Peter. Against the Church, so founded, the 'gates of hell shall not prevail.' The Greek word is not the regular one for 'hell,' gehenna, but Hades, presumably the equivalent of the Hebrew 'Sheol,' death; so that a closer rendering might be 'the gates of death shall not prevail against it.'

Either death in the ordinary acceptation of the word, as decay, the destiny that sooner or later overtakes all things mortal; or death in the sense that 'sin worketh death'; or the craft and malevolence of 'him that had the power of death, that is, the devil' (Heb. ii, 14). No doubt the term is capable of a very wide interpretation; yet our Lord's plain meaning surely is that the Church, so founded cannot be destroyed.

This has proved to be one of the most sustaining and stimulating of our Lord's sayings. It certainly should prove such to-day in an age which, in the words of Cardinal Hinsley, is 'an age of unparalleled martyrdom' (Broadcast, Sunday, December 10, 1939).

Nineteen hundred years and more have passed since it was spoken. We should be in a position to-day to test what Christ foretold. Let the secular historian, Macaulay, sum up in one brief sentence what we find: 'When we reflect on the tremendous assaults which she, the Church, has survived, we find it difficult to conceive in which way she is to perish' (Essays. ON Ranke's History of the Popes, par. 12). Of what Church is Macaulay speaking? Of the Church in communion with Peter's successors.
Again I was struck by the sequence of thought: first, the foundation, then the building; then the administration of the building. The thought is unbroken; but, as concerns Peter, the metaphor is changed. A building is opened and closed by keys, and he who bears them is the steward or chief in authority. By virtue of his faith Peter is constituted the foundation of the Society on earth, to hold it together, to give it unity and recognizability. By virtue of the same he is constituted also chief administrator. There is, needless to say, no mixture of metaphor here. Throughout the Church is viewed as a building, and to this building Peter stands in a twofold relationship. He has a primacy, not only of honour, but also of jurisdiction.

The Hebrew symbol of 'the keys' is a common one, and always carries this sense of administration (e.g. Isa. xxii, 22; Rev. i, 18. See on the whole of this portion of the passage von Hügel's Notes on the Petrine Claims, pp. 22, 23.)

Protestants, whose bias against the Papacy will not allow them to accept this plain and unforced meaning of our Lord's words, have found their ingenuity taxed to the utmost to bring to them some other meaning. They have conjectured that by this metaphor Christ signified that Peter should admit the Jews into the Church—as at Pentecost—and the Gentiles—as in the household of Cornelius. Now, while undoubtedly both these functions were included in his stewardship, what reason can there be for restricting his stewardship to them? Moreover, why should our Lord use metaphor to convey a privilege that admitted of plain statement? But, that the power of the keys cannot be limited to the above functions is obvious from the words that immediately follow: WHATSOEVER THOU SHALT BIND... LOOSE ON EARTH. Plainly, Peter's jurisdiction was too general to be specified and, that being so, nothing could better cover the whole of his functions than metaphor—the familiar Hebrew metaphor of the keys.

It is often objected that these concluding words of Christ to Peter were afterwards twice repeated to all the apostles, and that this repetition weakens their force as applied to Peter. Certainly they were repeated (St. Matt. xviii, 18; St. John xx, 22, 23). But on examining the context of their repetition I found a marked difference in their application:

The first repetition (St. Matt. xviii, 15-18) occurs in the case of a 'brother' who will not accept the ruling of the Church as regards a scandal he has caused. 'If he will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican.' "The Church" would here stand for the authorities of the Church, and we know that the apostles ruled the Church. But from the Church, or from the apostles, there cannot be excluded him whom we know, from St. Matt. xvi, 18, to have been its chief official. The Church exercises authority, but not apart from Peter. On the other hand, Peter is not said to depend on the Church in the exercise of his authority.

In the second repetition (St. John xx, 22, 23) the reference is to a specific spiritual function shared by all the apostles alike as a part of their ministry, namely, the Sacrament of Penance, which our Lord instituted on the evening of His Resurrection. This even more nearly than the former case approaches the 'stewardship.' but it has nothing to do with supreme jurisdiction, being limited to one spiritual function.

Obviously, then, the words in question, though the same, have different applications from that which they had at Cæsarea Philippi, when they were spoken to Peter only and joined up to his whole endowment by the preposition 'and.'

Now consider once more the passage in St. Matthew xvi as a whole: our Lord was speaking to Peter in response to a confession of faith in what had been revealed to Peter by the Father:

He said that on the rock-Peter He would build His Church;

He said that death itself could not overcome the Church so builded;

To Peter also He committed supreme jurisdiction over the Church so constituted.

Now, if the words in this passage do not mean this, they must mean something else.

What other meaning do you yourself bring out of them?

Or, are you going to decide, as, unhappily, I did for many years, following Whateley, that 'this utterance of Christ has no ascertainable meaning'?

Think what such an admission means! that what has been described as 'the most central, most crucial and impressive, most clear and precise utterance of Christ' (von Hügel, op. cit., p. 16) 'has no ascertainable meaning'!

Reflect, too, on what we considered a few pages back, viz. the prominence of Peter both before and after these words were spoken. If Peter appeared in the narrative on this occasion only, or if our Lord had been said to have selected some other disciple, say, Bartholomew or Simon the Zealot, we might have justifiably have been puzzled and considered the passage as standing apart from all the rest of Christ's teaching, an insoluble enigma.

But with the context of all the Gospels and of more than half Acts, is there anything contrary to our expectation, anything bewildering or improbable in One Who set out to form a Society—destined to be perpetual and to impress the world by its unity and to that end to be recognizable by all—selecting one of His disciples who had given proof that he was inspired by God the father, to represent Him and to be the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth?

On the other hand, can we imagine any other means, short of our Lord's remaining on earth, whereby the Society could be held together and be recognized by all and receive and respond to the guidance of the Holy Spirit except by the selection of one visible Head and viceregent on earth.
VIII. It now occurred to me to inquire whether our Lord's subsequent language to St. Peter was consistent with His commission at Cæsarea.
There are two other major references to the Apostle which we ought briefly to consider:

The first of these is found in St. Luke xxii, 31, 32. The occasion is the Last Supper. To have the full context before us it is well to go back a few verses:
v. 24. 'There was also a strife amongst them, which of them should seem to be the greater. And He said to them: the kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and they that have power over them are called beneficent. But you not so; but he that is the greater among you, let him become as the younger and he that is the leader as he that serveth.'
Now this is frequently taken to mean the equality of all the Apostles. But clearly it does not mean this, for our Lord speaks of 'him that is greater among you, and of him that is the leader.' What Peter's own conduct was on this occasion we are not told. It is evident from his own words many years after how deeply Christ's words had sunk into his mind (1 St. Peter v, 3). In all probability, conscious of the confidence Christ placed in him, he did not thrust himself forward, but was, to use his own words, 'a pattern of the flock.' Immediately following this, our Lord addresses him:
Our Lord, having made Peter His chief Apostle, singles him out as the special object of prayer. He foresees his momentary lapse, but prays that, in spite of this, his faith may be sustained (the distinction between the lapse and the loss of faith is important) and, on his conversion, commits to him the office of strengthening his brethren. I cannot do better than to cite the comment of the Protestant Bengel: 'This entire utterance of our Lord presupposes that Peter is the First of the Apostles, whose firmness determines the less or greater danger of the others' (Gnomon, in loco. See also the exhaustive treatment of the passages by W. T. Allies in St. Peter, His Name and Office.)

In addition, then, to being the foundation and steward of the Church as a whole, Peter is in a special sense the bond and guardian of the Apostles. This passage was applied to the Petrine Office by St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Chrysostom, St. Leo, St. Gelasius, Pelagius II, St. Gregory the Great, the bishops in the IV Ecumenical Council (451) and in the VI (680), by St. Bernard (1153), St. Thomas (1274) and St. Bonaventura of the same date.

The other passage occurs among the last recorded utterances of the Risen Lord. It is recorded by St. John only (St. John xxi, 15-22), the significance of which von Hügel has pointed out in his Notes on the Petrine Claims (pp. 36-38). It is perhaps scarcely necessary to transcribe so lengthy a passage, but it should be read carefully in the light of the foregoing passages. It is interpreted by numbers of the Fathers as giving St. Peter supreme pastoral jurisdiction. Three times our Lord puts to him the question, 'Lovest thou Me?' Three times the reply is in the affirmative. If all that was at issue was, as some say, the opportunity for Peter thrice to declare his love. this would have sufficed. But there was something further. There was our Lord's response: Feed my lambs. Feed my little sheep. Feed my sheep. And these words were spoken to none but Peter.

Clearly, then, these subsequent sayings of our Lord to His Apostle are consistent with the Commission delivered to him at Cæsarea. In fact, I think we are warranted in going further and affirming that, without that Commission, in the plain and literal meaning as drawn out above, we should have been at a loss to account for the pre-eminence with which our Lord singled our Peter both as the strengthener of the brethren and as the pastor of the flock.

You and I have been brought up to regard these latter incidents purely as moral lessons. We have been accustomed from our earliest years to hear preachers treat our Lord's warning to His Apostle as a lesson to be prepared for temptation, and His pastoral commission as the gracious reinstatement of a penitent. And so the Catholic interpretation, when we first encounter it, seems forced and exaggerated. This is one result of the Bible having been, in our upbringing, so completely divorced from the Church. No doubt the above incidents, like all else in Holy Scripture, were written for our spiritual profit as well as for our instruction. But when we come to consider them in connexion with all that precedes them and that follows in the Acts, it is evident that they have a significance beyond that of any moral lesson for the individual. They have a corporate significance, a significance which we, with our individualistic Protestant tendencies, are so likely to overlook. Our Lord's warning to His Apostle has this corporate significance above that attaching to the individual: to repeat the words of Bengel: 'his firmness is to determine the less or greater danger of the others.' Similarly, in the second incident, there was something of wider significance than the reinstatement of a penitent Apostle. That reinstatement took place when the Risen Lord was 'seen of Cephas' (1 Cor. xv, 5), and, among the other Apostles, on the first Easter evening, when the breath of the Risen Saviour conveyed to all present the pledge of the Spirit. There remained the office of Supreme Pastor, summing up in itself and ratifying all that our Lord had spoken at Cæsarea, sealing the Supreme Apostleship of him who already was appointed the foundation, the steward and the strengthener, 'for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ: until we all meet into the unity of faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fulness of Christ' (Eph. iv, 12, 13).

Now my dear X, I think you will admit that this is a much more organic—or, if you prefer the expression, realistic—way of treating Scripture than to have recourse to it as merely a magazine of moral lessons. Believe me, the key to all these Gospel records is our Lord's promise to form a Society and to fit and endow it for continuing His work. Without this there could be no object in His selecting disciples and training them and promising them the gift of the Holy Spirit. The answer to our first five questions appear to me vital to our understanding of the whole narrative. Consider them again in the light of what we have further gathered as to our Lord's will concerning His chief Apostle:
  1. Did our Lord form a Society?
  2. Did He will that it should continue?
  3. and that it should be one?
  4. and that it should be recognizable?
  5. and did He, knowing this Society to be essential to the salvation of mankind, and foreseeing that many should come in His Name and deceive many, appoint a means whereby it should be readily recognized by all?

IX. I proceed to ask: How does the commission to St. Peter establish the recognizability of Christ's true Church to-day?
When St. Cyprian and St. Ambrose say: 'where Peter is, there is the Church,' they speak as though Peter were still living in their midst.

So he was; so he is to-day; in his Successor.

But, you will say, our Lord made no mention of successors.

That is true. But neither did He mention the successors of any of the Apostles.

He foresaw successors, as we have seen in answering my second question. He may have left directions about them among 'the things concerning the Kingdom' in which He instructed the Apostles during the Great Forty Days (Acts i, 3), or He may have left this as He confessedly did so much else to the tuition of the Holy Spirit after His departure (St John i 12-14). For our knowledge of His will in these matters we are indebted to the record of what the Apostles did and to the great body of Church tradition.

We do not read of St. Peter's immediate Successor in the Supreme Office for the simple reason that St. Peter was still living when the author of the Acts for some reason unknown to us broke off his narrative.

But from the earliest times it was known that Peter had established his Seat at Rome and that subsequently the Bishops of Rome are his Successors in the Supreme Apostolate.

Now here I was brought up to believe, as I expect you were, that it is extremely doubtful whether St. Peter was ever at Rome at all!* In this state of dubiety I continued until I was confronted with the researches of Harnack, Weizsacher, De Rossi, Duchesne, Lanciani, Mgr. Barnes and Dom Cuthbert Butler. To quote only one of these, Lanciani (1897) says: 'For the archaeologist, the presence and execution of SS. Peter and Paul in Rome are facts established beyond a shadow of doubt by purely monumental evidence' (Pagan and Christian Rome).

*Doubts still haunt the Protestant mind. Shortly after writing the above, an Anglican Army Chaplain with whom I was in conversation expressed the doubt, and was astonished when confronted with the evidence. He was a university man of good general intelligence. Protestants should read the Rev. George Edmundson's singularly candid work, The Church of Rome in the First Century—the Bampton Lectures of 1913. On page 51 Mr. Edmundson writes: 'Probably never was any tradition accepted so universally and without a single dissentient voice as that which associates the foundation and organization of the Church of Rome with the name of St. Peter and which speaks of his active connexion with that Church as extending over a period of some twenty-five years'

It is an interesting point in controversy that when an argument fails on one side, whatever strength it might have had goes over to the other side. Thus the very tenacity with which Protestants held to the supposition that 'Peter was never at Rome' now that the supposition is untenable goes to the credit of the Catholic claim. Protestants have made it clear how fully the presence of St. Peter at Rome establishes the Papal Succession.

Of course you will understand that the actual place of St. Peter's Seat and martyrdom is only of importance as determining who are his Successors in the Supremacy. The Apostle might have established his Seat at Antioch or Jerusalem or Alexandria, in which case one of those places would have held the position which Rome has held for nineteen hundred years in the history of the Church. In other words, it is not Rome that gives the Holy Father his position as Head of the visible Church, but the fact of his being the Successor of St. Peter that gives Rome her place as the Metropolis of the Church.

At the same time that the Seat of Peter should in the Providence of Almighty God be established at Rome is one of the most arresting evidences of Divine supervision, for, while a persecuted sect, such as the Church then was, and remained for nearly three hundred years, could not borrow prestige from the imperial City as Sabatier (Religions of Authority and the Religion of the Spirit) and others have tired to maintain, yet nowhere else could the Christian religion have established itself to such purpose and permanence.

No sooner, however, was I assured of Peter's residence and martyrdom at Rome than I found myself face to face with another Protestant objection to the Succession: namely, that the Bishops of Rome could not be Peter's Successors because Peter was not a Bishop! It seems to be regarded among writers of this school that an Apostle could have no local jurisdiction. Now the question of the jurisdiction of Bishops in the apostolic age is admittedly obscure; but to imagine Peter resident at Rome, at least assisting in the founding an organization of the Church there, instructing that Church according to the memoranda known to us as 'The Gospel according to St. Mark' (St. Peter's interpreter) and yet to refuse him the office of Overseer of the Flock, seems as perverse a piece of pedantry as controversy records! Surely, as the greater includes the less, the Apostolic Office included that of Bishop or Overseer (See the essay by Dom Cuthbert Butler on The Early Roman See in the volume Religions of Authority and the Religion of the Spirit). And the Bishop who succeeded St. Peter in the Episcopate succeeded him in his Apostolate, otherwise there could have been no object in our Lord's appointing St. Peter as His representative and Head of the visible (recognizable) Church on earth. We should in that case have to go back and find some other meaning to Christ's words when He declared that He would build His Church on Peter and that thus built it should never be destroyed. But we have already examined those words and find they are capable of no other meaning than that which they naturally bear. Therefore Succession is implied in the Apostolate, and as no other Successor is Divinely specified, it follows that the Successor in the visible (recognizable) Headship of the Church on earth is the Successor to the first Head where he laboured and where he laid down his life.

Hence St. Irenæus (A.D. 178) speaks of 'that greatest, most ancient and most illustrious Church, founded and constituted at Rome by the glorious Apostles Peter and Paul, with which every church must agree' (Adv. Hær., iii, 3).

St. Cyprian (A.D. 250), although at the time he had quarrelled with the Pope, speaks of Rome as 'the Chair of Peter and the ruling Church, whence the unity of the priesthood has its source' (Ad. Cornel., lv).

Eusebius (A.D. 315) states that 'Linus was the first after Peter that obtained the episcopate of the church of the Romans' (History, iv, 1).

Now let me come to a date earlier than those given above. In the year A.D. 96, or thereabouts, a letter was sent by 'the Church dwelling at Rome'—the date is that of the Episcopate of St. Clement, the third to succeed St. Peter—to the church at Corinth. This letter was written in order to repress a schism which had broken out in the latter church. Its tone is admitted by the Anglican Lightfoot to be 'almost imperious.' In the course of it these words occur:
'If any disobey the words spoken by God through us, let them know that they will entangle themselves in transgression and in no small danger.... You will cause us joy and consolation if, obeying the things written by us through the Holy Spirit, you cut out the lawless passion of your jealousy, according to the intercession we have made for peace and concord in this letter.'
Lightfoot speaks of this letter as 'the first step towards Papal domination,' and it is significant that he should give it this value, but should we not regard it as an application of Papal authority, rather than as a step towards such? Surely we could not require a better illustration of the words of St. Jerome, already cited: 'out of the Twelve one is chosen that, by the institution of a head, the occasion of schism might be removed'!

Passing over three centuries and more** let us come to the great Council at Chalcedon in the year 451. This Council concerned our Lord's human nature, the reality of which had been called in question, and by some had been denied. About 630 bishops were present at this Council, and, be it noted, Eastern bishops, certainly not calculated to be biassed in favour of Roman authority. After the creeds of previous Councils had been recited and letters read from St. Cyril of Alexandria, who was largely responsible for the occasion of deliberation, the Letter of St. Leo, the reigning Pope, was read. It is commonly known as 'the Tome of St. Leo' and was specially written for the occasion. After hearing it to the end, the assembled bishops rose and cried with one voice: 'Peter has spoken by Leo!'

** Those who would read the testimony of the Fathers and others to the Papal See I refer to C.F.B. Allnatt's invaluable collection of references in his St. Peter at Rome, and Fr. Vincent Hornyold, S.J.: The Church of the First Four Centuries. 2d. each. Catholic Truth Society.

Why Peter?

The distance in time from the Apostle makes the allusion to Peter very remarkable. Why should the right faith concerning our Lord's human nature have been attributed, through Leo, to St. Peter? Surely St. John who in his First Epistle had written so profoundly of the Sacred Humanity would have been the name to suggest itself to those present rather than St. Peter who at Cæsarea had been concerned with the Divine nature. Or might it not well have been St. Paul whose great passage on the self-humiliation of the Son of God must have occurred to all. Or why should not the cry have been: The Apostles have spoken by Leo? But no; the authority actually invoked was that of the Prince of the Apostles, the Vicar of Jesus Christ, the visible Head of His Church on earth.

Leo, then, in the fifth century, was universally regarded as identified with that Apostle to whom our Lord committed the supreme oversight of His Church, just as was Clement by the Corinthians in the first century.

As Peter first won Christ's commendation by confessing His Divine nature, so his Successor four hundred years later enunciated and guarded His human nature.

And between these two points in the early history of the Church, and ever since the latter, it is impressive that the supremacy of Rome and the right belief about our Lord Jesus Christ go hand in hand.

You see, then, that the position of the Supreme Pontiff as the visible Head of the visible (recognizable) Church on earth is no more read into the constitution of the Church at some period after her founding, than is the Church with her sacraments, institutions and laws something read into the purpose of Christ after his departure from the earth. Both the Church and the Seat of her jurisdiction were recognized from the first. They are inseparable, for they are the expression of the mind of Christ. As I say in the Preface to these pages: There is no halting-place between the acceptance of institutional Christianity and submission to the See of Peter.
X. And now my tenth and last proposition I expect you will supply yourself. I hear you say: So you really believe that this Pope whose authority you acknowledge, is infallible?
To this I answer without hesitation that unless he were infallible, there would be no point in his being Pope.

After fifty years of the Anglican chaos the dogma of Papal Infallibility is to me a veritable fiat lux! A centre of unity which is not also a source of authority is unthinkable.

How many people, by the way, who declare that Papal Infallibility would alone prevent their seeking admission to the Catholic Church, have ever read that definition or know exactly what is meant by Papal Infallibility?

The definition, as given by the Vatican Council, is as follows:
'Faithfully adhering to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian Faith, for the glory of God our Saviour, the exaltation of the Catholic religion and the salvation of Christian people, with the approval of the Sacred Council, we teach and define that it is a dogma divinely revealed that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when in the discharge of the Pastor and Teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his Supreme Apostolic Authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the Universal Church, is, by divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that His Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals; and that therefore such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, irreformable.'
Now this definition at once removes a number of misunderstandings which people, either through ignorance or carelessness, allow to obscure the subject. Ignorance we cannot help, nor always carelessness, since comparatively few of us are trained to attach accurate meanings to the words we use. Consequently, many people believe that Papal Infallibility means that the Pope cannot sin, or that he knows all things, or that he must be right in any opinion he may happen to express, or that all he does in ruling his Kingdom or his Diocese must be inevitably be wise and good, or that he could infallibly decide that we were not bound to serve our King and Country.

A careful reading of the above definition should at once dispel any and all of these erroneous impressions. You will see from its wording:
  1. What are the conditions of an infallible Papal utterance: the Holy Father must speak ex cathedra, i.e. from the Chair or Seat of St. Peter; therefore using the fulness of his Apostolic Authority and binding the whole Church.

  2. What is the subject-matter of the infallible utterance: the defining of a doctrine regarding faith or morals.

  3. What is the guarantee of his infallibility: the divine assistance promised him as the Successor of St. Peter.

  4. What is the quality of the infallibility: it is that with which our Lord willed His Church to be endowed in defining faith and morals.
You will see from the above that there is no question of 'setting up the Pope in the place of Jesus Christ'—an idea which would be impious did it not spring from ignorance. The Pope, by reason of his succession to St. Peter, is the mouth-piece or instrument of that Holy Spirit Who our Lord promised should 'guide' His Church 'into all truth.'

How was that Guidance to be given? By the Holy Spirit's being in the Church. And how was the Church to function? By means of the stewardship of the Chief Apostle to whom, as we have seen, the executive of the household, the keys, the binding and loosing was committed.

Read St. John xiv, 16, 17, 26; xvi, 13, 14; and then return to the great commission recorded in St. Matthew xvi, 18; and you will have no difficulty in recognizing how truly and unmistakenly the Spirit's guidance is given by human instrumentality.

You will remember, too, how at the First Council at Jerusalem, under the presidency of St. Peter, the wording of the decision was drafted: 'It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us' (Acts xv, 7, 28). And to these words you can add those of St. Clement already quoted: 'Obeying the things written by us through the Holy Spirit.'

You will perhaps say: Why, then, was Papal Infallibility defined so late?

The reply is: Because, as I have just shown, the recognition of it was always in the Church. Look again at the first words of the Definition: 'Faithfully adhering to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian Faith.' What was done in the Vatican Council in 1870 was a defining, i.e. a stating of the precise nature of Infallibility. It was not a discovery or introduction of a novelty. Most things have been in existence long before they have, for some useful purpose, been defined. In fact, a definition of necessity implies the existence of what is defined, otherwise there could be nothing to define. Thus the Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, 'His Body and Blood, His soul and His divinity' was acknowledged from the beginning before it became necessary owing to false teaching to define the doctrine of Transubstantiation. The immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin was accepted and believed in and had a part in the devotions of the pious ages before it was defined in 1850. The identity of our Lord's nature with that of the Father was, as we have seen, revealed to St. Peter at Cæsarea, was the basis of membership in the Church (Acts viii, 37) and of countless martyrdoms long before it became necessary to define it in the Creeds of Nicæa and Constantinople. Similarly, the definition of Papal Infallibility was the defining of what was already acknowledged, the showing within what limits 'the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian Faith' must be 'faithfully adhered to.'

For if the Pope, speaking from the Seat of St. Peter, to the whole Church, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, defining a doctrine regarding faith or morals, could err, the teaching Church would be reduced to the level of those 'schools of thought' into which the various religious bodies sundered from the Body of the Church frankly consist. This would be a repudiation of the supernatural equipment of the Church with which her very existence is bound up. It would nullify our Lord's declaration that He came to give testimony to the truth, and the Apostle's description of His Society as 'the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.'

For a practical people, we British are amazingly wanting in realism! Particularly are we averse from definition in all matters spiritual. In politics, commerce, naval and military tactics, stocks and shares and railway time-tables we welcome precision. We cry for information that means what it says and says what it means. We thankfully accept the dogmatic statement that our train leaves at 6.45, neither earlier nor later. Much of our life is shaped by such-like dogmatic forecast, and resting—be it noted—on the authority of others. But in matters religious we appear to suffer from a spiritual claustrophobia. We fear to 'find ourselves in a concatenation accordingly.' If you want to see a really good example of this infirmity, you cannot do better than read The Report of the Commission on Christian Doctrine appointed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and published the year before last, after sixteen years' deliberation!

The fact of the matter is that Christendom, outside the Catholic Church, has lost its courage along with its creed. It can neither affirm nor deny. This paralysis of faith pervades all that was once called doctrine in the so-called 'churches.' God, worship, prayer, the soul, Jesus Christ, His Person and natures, the Incarnation, the Resurrection, the forgiveness of sins, sin itself—these and other facts and doctrines of faith have been so much at the mercy of discussion and indecision that all the vitality has gone out of them.

Why has this happened?

Because amongst these peoples there has been no living voice infallibly to uphold a Supernatural Faith.

Our investigations arose out of your wondering how I could possibly acknowledge the Pope as the visible Head of the Church on earth. I set out to show you as simply and frankly as I could the steps by which I was led to make this acknowledgement. First, my search for grounds of belief in institutional Christianity; and then arising inevitably out of this a further search for the provision Christ had made for the unity, perpetuity and recognizability of the Church He founded. We noticed in what the formal visibility of a Society must consist, and how natural—and, speaking humanly, inevitable—it was that a Society to be recognizable should have a visible Head. We paid the closest attention to the singular Commission our Lord conferred on St. Peter at Cæsarea Philippi, carefully weighing every word He used both then and on other occasions when He ratified that Commission. We then turned to the Church and inquired whether from the first our Lord's words were understood in the sense which the Church requires to-day; and we found it was so.

Am I not in order in asking you to tell me how it is possible not to acknowledge the Pope in the sense in which the Church justly requires that acknowledgement, viz. as the Vicar of Jesus Christ and visible Head of the Church on earth?

You will have noticed throughout that I have spoken of the various stages in my own inquiry as 'steps that led' to the acknowledgement I rejoice to have made. I have done so advisedly because while, as I have shown, reason was present at every stage in the inquiry, I am conscious that the acknowledgement itself was not an act of unassisted reason but a belief vouchsafed by the grace of faith in response to the living Voice of the Church and the Gospel witness. During the time of inquiry I was particularly warned, by one whom I shall ever regard with gratitude and filial affection, against mistaking conviction for grace. No man can argue himself into a state of faith. Reason can incline him towards that state and reason can remove, one by one, the barriers to his submission, but in the event it is grace that triumphs, grace and the will co-operating with it.

I say this because often the clearer the Catholic Claim becomes the less responsive do we find ourselves to it, and then we are tempted to think that it is only head-conviction and that it is not going to reach our hearts or change our lives. And the impression proves transient and we come to feel that the theory or the system, or whatever we call it, leaves us cold, and so we relapse into our former wishful thinking and take refuge in sentimentalism and in 'hoping for the best,' and so unhappily prove the adage 'the little less and what worlds away!'

So I beg you, my dear X, to pray above all things for the grace of faith. 'Ask, and it shall be given you. Seek, and you shall find.'


I conclude this in the Hour of Apocalypse. Whatever be the issue of events that render this one of the gravest crises in history, a time of testing is before us. It is possible that the civilization which sought the aegis of the Cross for the purpose of exploitation may at length be meeting its doom. But though this should be so and the outer bulwarks give way before the onslaught, and the old alternative again be faced in this country: The State or Christ, and the Church persecuted into obscurity, there is one man who cannot be defeatist. It is the man who amid all this world-welter stands on the Rock whereof it was said: 'I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.' The Catholic alone has solid reason for believing not merely in the survival of Christianity, but in the ultimate victory of Christ the King, for he has the word of the Son of God that the powers of darkness shall not prevail.

Where else will you find in these dark days such a fund of hope as this inspires? You look back and you see how the promise has been fulfilled in crisis after crisis in the past. You recall the words of the historian already cited: 'When we reflect on the assaults which she, the (Catholic) Church, has survived, we find it difficult to conceive in what way she is to perish.' She cannot perish, for she is founded upon the Rock. The declaration is no proud boast, for it is made in the spirit of dependence, in the humble acknowledgement of the supernatural life.

The testing, however, may take another form, and no one who believes in the cause of the Allies but hopes it will. Should the tide of brutal and intolerable aggression in the mercy of God be turned back, there will remain such a task to be performed as men have not yet laid their hands to. for we now know of a truth what is the antidote to aggression and to that spirit of evil which transforms men into wild beasts. That antidote is the Reign of Christ in every department of human activity.

Several years ago Pope Pius X used a great phrase about the need for 'restoring all things in Christ.' Recognizing the descent of mankind into an ever deeper anarchy, he pointed out that 'only in Christ and His Church could the world find the needed restorative to life and order, and that only in the divinely human Person could Western man recover his lost integrity.' What but the Catholic Church is going to provide us with the vision for this task of reconstruction and the Means whereby our energies may be purified and strengthened and controlled for the enterprise?

What the coming task demands is a humble and enthusiastic recognition of the Supernatural Life as revealed by Christ and vouchsafed to His members in every detail of their national, social, industrial and individual life; a new centre of energy which is none other than the Sacred Heart; a re-centring of all motive in the Cross; a recovery of devotion to the Saints and to the saintly character, and especially a return to her, the Blessed Mother of the Word Incarnate, whose peculiar care we believe this Land of ours to be.

And where shall we find all this? where but in the City set on a hill that cannot be hid where the present Holy Father in whom St. Peter lives, raises the Standard of Christ the King and speaks with that infallible utterance promised by the Divine Lord.


How I Came To Acknowledge The Pope by Thomas J. Hardy, M.A. 1940, Burns, Oates & Washbourne Ltd.
© 2004 & E-Transcription Lúcio Mascarenhas
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