Skip to main content

Fenton: St Robert Bellarmine tried to prove that iit was not necessary to suppose that the other apostles had received ? their jurisdiction immediately from St Peter in order to hold that j all the other residential bishops of the Catholic Church derived their | power of jurisdiction immediately from the Roman Pontiff


The Holy Father’s action in teaching that the bishops of the

Catholic Church receive their power of jurisdiction from Our Lord

through the Roman Pontiff rather than immediately from the

Saviour Himself must inevitably focus the attention of theologians

upon a question intimately related to that of the immediate source

of episcopal jurisdiction. Theologians must look with renewed

interest upon that section of their science which deals with the

immediate source of that power of jurisdiction within the kingdom

of God on earth enjoyed by the apostles themselves. Did the

original members of the apostolic collegium receive their power of

jurisdiction over the faithful immediately from Our Lord or did

they possess it as something coming to them from Christ through


This question has had a long and highly interesting history

in the literature of scholastic theology. The Dominican Cardinal

John de Turrecremata, writing in the fifteenth century, and the

Jesuit theologian James Laynez, writing in the sixteenth, both

taught that the other members of the apostolic collegium received

their episcopal “ordination” from St. Peter rather than directly

from Our Lord Himself. They held that St. Peter alone had been

raised to episcopal or pontifical dignity directly by Christ. Neither

claimed the status of a complete and perfect theological conclusion

for his thesis. Both, however, obviously considered their teaching

on this point much more probable than its opposite.

John de Turrecremata devoted three chapters of the second book

of his Summa de ecclesia to a consideration of this question.1 The

thirty-second chapter is given over to an enumeration and explanation of the various reasons brought forward in support of his

thesis. The next chapter lists the various objections presented by

the adversarii. Turrecremata, incidentally, takes cognizance of

twelve of these objections. The thirty-fourth chapter answers each

one of these objections in detail. In line with his usual procedure,

Turrecremata employs the chapter which is primarily intended to

answer objections in such a way as to bring out the full meaning

of his own teaching. The procedure by which he attempts to

1 Cf. Summa de ecclesia (Venice, 1561), pp. 144r ff.



establish his thesis is an interesting example of fifteenth-century

theological method. It brings out both the deficiencies and the

strong points characteristic of activity within the sacred sciences

during that period.

Turrecremata brings forward nine distinct reasons in direct support of his contention. Curiously enough, however, he makes no

effort to introduce any very strict kind of order in the arrangement

of these auctoritates and rationes. His first two auctoritates tum

out to be statements contained in the Pseudo-Isidorean decretals,

statements attributed to Pope St Anacletus. In one of these

proofs he mentions the teaching of Remigius of Auxerre as confirming the doctrine attributed to Anacletus.

His third auctoritas is the famous Petrine text in the twentyfirst chapter of the Gospel according to St. John.2 He cites a

passage from the last of St John Chrysostom’s homilies on this

Gospel to show that Our Lord passed over the other apostles in

order to confide this task to St. Peter alone. Turrecremata, incidentally, deals very briefly with this third argument, the only one

of his proofs ex auctoritate which has any objective theological

value. The fourth and fifth arguments are, like the first two, appeals to pseudographic sources, the one ascribed to Pope St. Clement I and the other to Pope St. Marcellus I.

We must not forget that Turrecremata was trying to prove more

than merely the derivation of the other apostles’ jurisdiction from

that of St. Peter. It was his contention that St. Peter, alone among

the apostles, had been consecrated and given episcopal orders as

well as jurisdiction by Our Lord Himself. He was convinced that

St. Peter had not only granted their episcopal jurisdiction to the

other members of the apostolic collegium, but that he had also

consecrated them as bishops. This view comes to the fore in his

sixth argument, in which he draws a comparison between the case

of Paul and Barnabas and that of St Peter’s original associates

in the apostolate.

The Dominican Cardinal regarded it as perfectly evident that

St. Peter had given episcopal consecration to both Paul and

Barnabas. He was convinced that the prince of the apostles was

one of those who imposed hands upon the two great missionaries

to the Gentiles after the local Church at Antioch had received the

j f '

» I



divine revelation that they had been set apart for special work for

God’s kingdom. Turrecremata reasoned that if St. Paul, whose

apostolic vocation and mission came immediately from Our Lord

stood in need of episcopal consecration at the hands of St. Peter,

then surely all the other members of the apostolic company required

the same ordination.

In the seventh of his arguments, Cardinal John de Turrecremata

appeals, surprisingly enough, to the venerable theological principle,

which he ascribes to both St. Jerome and St. Augustine, according

to which it is wrong to enunciate about God any statement which

cannot be demonstrated from the testimony of the divine Scriptures

or from reason. He then asserts that there is neither authority nor

reason for stating that any of the apostles other than St. Peter had

been made a bishop immediately and directly by Our Lord Himself.

He gives a detailed and astonishing powerful account of this ratio.

He takes cognizance first of the divine promise made to the

apostolic group as a whole, the promise described in the eighteenth

chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew.3 These words, he

contends correctly, certainly did not give the members of the

apostolic collegium either episcopal orders or episcopal jurisdiction

at the very moment they were uttered. St. Peter, he tells us, was

definitely not constituted a bishop by a similar and even a greater

promise previously made to him alone. Moreover, he insists, the

apostles had not as yet received the basic priestly dignity and thus

they could not have possessed the episcopal character. He appeals,

furthermore, to the basic fact that the words in question are those

of promise rather than of actual collation. ·

3 Matt. 18:18.

Turrecremata is likewise firm in his insistence that the power

granted to the apostles at the Last Supper was not of an episcopal

nature. He claims that the words “Do this in commemoration of

me” gave the assembled apostles merely presbyteral rather than

episcopal power. They made the Twelve capable of performing the

act which Our Lord had just performed, the act of the Eucharistic

sacrifice. The Dominican ecclesiologist is convinced that it would

be absolutely incorrect to assume that by His words at the Last

Supper Our Lord gave the apostles any power other than what

was either directly or by way of concomitance signified in the

formula itself. He likewise refuses to believe that Our Lord’s



words to the apostles, empowering them to forgive sins, can be

interpreted as a grant of episcopal power. He adverts to the fact

that this phrase is employed in the ordination of a priest rather

than in the consecration of a bishop in the Catholic Church.

The eighth argument for this thesis brought forward in the

Summa de ecclesia is a kind of ratio convenientiae. The author

draws a parallel between the unity of the human race and that of

the true Church of Jesus Christ Turrecremata reasons that it is

fitting to believe that God would not have given the Church a type

of unity less effective than that which He placed in the human

family as such. Since the unity of the human family depends upon

its descent from one common father, he believes that the unity of

the Church must derive ultimately from one bishop, who conferred

episcopal power upon all the others, ratherthan from many original

possessors of the episcopal dignity. The ninth and final argument

is based upon a comparison between the unity of the Church in the

New Testament with that of the synagogue in the old dispensation.

Since Moses gave pontifical power immediately and directly only

to one man, it follows, according to Turrecremata, that it is more

probable that Our Lord gave this dignity immediately and directly

only to one of the apostles.

In his answers to the twelve distinct objections cited against his

thesis Turrecremata gives ample evidence of his stature as a

theologian. He is aware of the difficulty for his own contention

latent in the characteristically Cyprianic statement that Our Lord

had given “like power to all the apostles after the resurrection.”

He did not draw his objection from St Cyprian's De unitate, however, but from a passage in Gratian’s Decretum embodying much

the same meaning. Gratian’s canon is taken from the PseudoIsidorean collection. It is attributed to Pope St Anacletus.

Turrecremata remarks that the objection drawn from a passage

of this sort loses its effectiveness in the light of its own context

Obviously, according to the canon with which he is concerned (and

according to the manifest teaching of the Catholic Church), the

other apostles were not fully equal to St Peter in all of his

prerogatives. Furthermore, Turrecremata insists that, although

this teaching means all of the other apostles had episcopal powers,

as Peter himself had, it says nothing whatsoever about the question

under consideration. The thesis defended k ^qrrecremata inR






sisted as forcefully as any other that all of the apostles’ powers came

from Our Lord. The question remained. Did the other apostles

receive their episcopal character from Christ through Peter or

directly from Our Lord Himself?

Turrecremata’s Summa de ecclesia is chronologically the first

relatively complete theological manual on the true Church of Jesus

Christ. Before his time most of the material now dealt with in

scholastic ecclesiology had been set forth only in the science of

canon law. Hence by far the most important immediate source

employed in the Summa de ecclesia is the Corpus juris canonici.

Another text very frequently used by Turrecremata is the scholastic

commentary on the scripture, the Glossa ordinaria. These sources

provided him with material which was very often pseudonymous.

The net effect of these pseudonymous writings, as they were

employed by Turrecremata, was merely to attribute genuine teachings of Catholic tradition to the wrong literary sources. The doctrines which the Dominican Cardinal believed to have been set

down in writing by some great figures in the early Church were

actually taught and written by others. Ultimately Turrecremata’s

thesis is merely his way of explaining the truth actually propounded

by St. Leo the Great, the truth that “whatever He [Our Lord]

did not withhold from others, He only gave through him [St

Peter].” 4 Here as elsewhere, the False Decretals contributed no

decisive element for the elaboration of Catholic theology.

A century after Turrecremata had written his Summa de ecclesia

his thesis was presented to the Tridentine Fathers by the eminent

Jesuit theologian, James Laynez.8 His treatment of the subject,

however, differed somewhat from that of his predecessor. Turrecremata was primarily interested in bringing out all the theological teachings about the true Church of Jesus Christ. Hence

he was able to allocate this thesis as one portion of his material on

the primacy of St. Peter. Laynez, on the other hand, was preeminently concerned with the thesis that the jurisdiction of bishops

in the Catholic Church comes to them from Our Lord through the

Holy Father. His teaching on the immediate origin of the apostles’

4 From the sermon on the second anniversary of his elevation to the pontificate. MPL, 54, 149.

®Cf. Grisar's edition of the Disputationes Tridentinae (Innsbruck, 1886),

I, 77 ff.


jurisdiction serves primarily as a kind of introduction to the other

question. Indeed, Laynez was not directly interested at all in

deciding whether or not the other apostles had actually received

episcopal consecration at the hands of St. Peter. He set out to

defend merely as more probable the opinion that the jurisdiction

of the other members of the apostolic collegium was derived immediately from St. Peter. The question of episcopal orders, on

which he was in agreement with Turrecremata, enters his work

only incidentally.

The thesis is immeasurably better presented in the Disputationes

Tridentinae than it is in the older work. Laynez arranged the

elements of his demonstration much more effectively. He brings

out a much more complete and pertinent set of auctoritates, thus

giving tangible evidence of the enormous advances in patristic

studies made during the time which had elapsed since the writing

of the Summa de ecclesia. He was unaware, however, of the

falsity of what is now known as the Pseudo-Isidorean collection,

and so texts from this source appear in his proof side by side with

authentic pronouncements of the Fathers. Laynez appeals to the

writings of previous theologians, citing brief passages from

St. Thomas, from Richard of Middleton, and from Durandus.

Strangely enough, in this thesis he makes no mention of Turrecremata, although his “proof from reason” is much the same as that

previously elaborated by the Dominican Cardinal.

The thesis defended by Turrecremata and by Laynez met very

serious opposition at the hands of two outstanding Dominican

theologians, Thomas de Vio Cardinal Cajetan and Francis de

Victoria. Cajetan was quite moderate in his teaching. He is of

the opinion that Our Lord gave immediately both episcopal orders

and episcopal jurisdiction to the other apostles as well as to St

Peter but in such a way that these other apostles received as a

favor what they were going to receive in the ordinary way from St

Peter. He is perfectly firm in his contention that “the power of

order and of jurisdiction eame to the other apostles and to all

ordinarie” from St Peter himself? He by no means rules out

the possibility that the other apostles actually received their episcopal consecration at the hands of St Peter. His main concern

® Cf. Cajetan’s De comparatione auctoritatis Papae et Concilii, c. 3, in the

Scripta theologica, edited by Pollet (Rome: The Angelicum, 1936), I, 27.


was obviously to show that the thesis of Turrecremata with reference to the immediate source of jurisdiction in the rest of the

apostolic collegium was in no way necessary as a part of a demonstration that the Roman Pontiff exercised a genuine primacy of

jurisdiction over the entire Church of God on earth.

Victoria, on the other hand, was primarily interested in a thesis

which he admitted “was not going to please all the doctors, in law

or in theology, and which certainly would not please the Cardinals

Turrecremata and Cajetan.”7 He was trying to prove that any of

the apostles, and, for that matter, any bishop of the Church, could

validly choose a successor, and that this successor would be validly

a ruler in the Church apart from any consultation of St Peter.

The fact that Cajetan had refused to support the basic teaching

oi Turrecremata in this respect, however, had important repercussions in the field of theology. Dominic Soto asserted that Turrecremata’s doctrine that the other apostles had received their power

of jurisdiction from St. Peter was unacceptable. "Veritati non

consonat," was Soto’s laconic qualification of this thesis.8 The

brilliant Spanish Dominican was convinced that all the other

apostles were Peter’s equals with reference to the apostolic function, except for the fact that Peter was their leader, empowered

to convoke a council and to perform the other acts a leader must

perform. Soto held that St. Peter possessed a plenitude of jurisdiction within the Church, not only as an apostle, but also as Our

Lord’s vicar. Those who succeeded St Peter in the government

ofthe local Church in Rome took his place as vicars of Christ rather

than as apostles. The other bishops in the Catholic Church (Soto

is manifestly speaking of residential bishops exclusively), receive

their apostolic authority only through the Roman Pontiff.

Like Dominic Soto, St Robert Bellarmine tried to prove that iit was not necessary to suppose that the other apostles had received ?

their jurisdiction immediately from St Peter in order to hold that j

all the other residential bishops of the Catholic Church derived their |

power of jurisdiction immediately from the Roman Pontiff. St ?

Robert appealed to four rationes in his attempt to show that the |

other apostles had received their power of jurisdiction immediately

T Cf. Victoria’s Refectiones undecim (Salamanca, 1565), ρ. 73τ. i

• 8Cf. Soto’s Commentaria in quartam sententiarum, {Venice, 1569), d, 20, |

q. 1, a. 2, conclusio 4, p. 991. (·


from Our Lord.® First, he cited the words in St. John's Gospel,

"As the Father hath sent me, I also send you,”10 and pointed to

commentaries on this text by St. John Chrysostom, St. Cyril of

Alexandria, and Theophylactus. St. Robert’s second argument is

an appeal to the case of St. Matthias: his third, a mention of that

of St. Paul. The fourth element in this proof consists of two

propositions, that Our Lord chose the apostles and that these men

possessed jurisdiction.

Francis Suarez followed St. Robert on this question, teaching

that the power of jurisdiction had been given by Our Lord to the

other apostles “immediately, although in a different and less perfect

way” than to St. Peter.11 Francis Sylvius arrived at the same conclusion. Sylvius, incidentally, interpreted the text from St Leo

the Great to have reference merely to the bishops who are successors of the apostles, and not to the apostles themselves.12 He

seems, however, to have seen more clearly than many of his fellow

theologians the inherent strength of Turrecremata’s thesis.

The late Cardinal Louis Billot made a definite and noteworthy

contribution to this particular section of sacred theology.1’ He

taught that all of the apostles were equal in their power of orders

and in their special apostolic charism of founding the Church militant of the New Testament He also held that the other apostles'

power of jurisdiction was exercised in two different ways. The

apostles other than St Peter had ordinary jurisdiction over individual local Churches. At the same time they all were competent to issue commands to other Churches, and even to the

universal kingdom of God on earth.

Billot held that their ordinary jurisdiction, their power to rule

over the individual local Churches founded by them or otherwise

submitted to their direct control as individuals, was in a sense

derived from the plenitude of Peter’s universal pastoral power.

Their power to command other Churches, and even the universal

Church of Christ, on the other hand, must be considered, according

® Cf. De Romano Pontifice, 1.4, c. 23.

10 John, 2021.

u In his De fey®»·, L A c X

12In his Controversiae, L4,q,2,a.5.

13 Cf. Billot’s De ecclesia, 5th edition (Some: The Gregorian, 1927), 1,

563 ff.


to Billot, as purely vicarial in nature. They possessed this power

only as the delegates of St. Peter.

Cardinal Billot’s thesis does away with the difficulties inherent

in the earlier hypotheses. Turrecremata had tried to bring out

the essential unity of apostolic jurisdiction, but his explanation

involved a series of claims to which the sources of divine revelation gave no backing. Cajetan and his followers, on the other hand,

in their anxiety to bring out the immediacy of the apostolic mission

in each one of the apostles failed to stress the essential oneness

of the visible authority Our Lord had placed over His faithful.

Future progress in this thesis will depend in large measure upon

the advance already made by Louis Billot.

Joseph Cliffobd Fenton

The Catholic University of America,

Washington, D. C.

Love for the Church

Now, if the natural law enjoins us to love devotedly and to defend

the country in which we were bom and raised, so that a good citizen

will not hesitate to face death for his native land, it is very much more

the duty of Christians to be always inspired by similar affections towards

the Church. For the Church is the Holy City of the living God, bom

of God Himself, and built up and established by Him. Upon this

earth, it is true, it is now in pilgrimage. But, by instructing and guiding

men, it summons them to eternal happiness.

We are bound, then, to love dearly the country from which we have

received the means of enjoyment this mortal life affords, but we have a

much more urgent obligation to love with an ardent affection the Church,

to which we owe the life of the soul, a life that will endure forever. For

it is fitting to prefer the well-being of the soul to the good of the body,

since duties towards God are of â far more hallowed character than

those towards men. Moreover, in point of fact, the supernatural love

for the Church and the natural love of our own country proceed from

the same eternal principle, since God Himself is the Author of both.

—Pope Leo XIII, in his encyclical Ereunte lam anno, issued on Christmas


Popular posts from this blog

My good friend ( now deceased ), Mother Teresa of the Still River Mass convent , called me years before the McLucas story broke. Latest Comments 2Vermont JULY 30, 2019 I think the only thing I would add here is what seems like MV’S obsession with things of a sexual nature. Tom A JULY 30, 2019 He, like many, defend the institution with the zeal that should be used to defend the Faith. Sad. What Mr. Voris fails to admit is that it is the institution of the conciliar fake church that is the biggest enemy of the Faith. Lynda JULY 30, 2019 Blinded by secular values and prestige of man. coastalfarm JULY 30, 2019 Please see the article “Unmarked building, quiet legal help for accused priests” Dryden, Mich. (AP) for the priest Mr. Voris defends, Rev.Eduard Perrone of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church also known as Assumption Grotto, is co-founder of Opus Bono Sacerdotii. This non-profit organization takes in accused priests and gives them shelter, legal defense, transportation, etc. Opus Bono claims to have helped over 8,000 priests and has raised over $8 million 2002-201

Might Biden be a Liar & Predator like McCarrick?

September 15, 2020   Everyone knows that sexual predator ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick is a liar. His whole life was a lie of betrayal of the most sacred vows he took and the violation of the moral tenets of the Catholic faith which he desecrated. Most people don't realize that part of this desecration of lies included lying for "gravely sinful" Democrats like Joe Biden. McCarrick protected Biden when then head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later to be Pope Benedict XVI) wrote that bishops were not to admit to Communion politicians like "gravely sinful" Biden who supports the killing of unborn babies. McCarrick lied for politicians like Biden by ignoring the important parts of the Ratzinger letter and told bishops not to ignore the Catholic Church law.  Last year, Fr. Robert Morey denied Holy Communion to the “gravely sinful” Biden following a "2004 decree signed jointly by the bishops of

The Biben Lying Machine: "Joe , do you know what else is a Sin besides Killing Babies? Lying... "

October 09, 2020   It appears that Joe Biden was even a lying machine in 2008 according to the post " Media Ignores Biden Repeatedly Lies During 'Meet the Press' Interview" on the Weasel Zippers website: Joe Biden Repeatedly Lies During "Meet the Press" Interview, Claims he Doesn't Support Taxpayer Funded Abortions.....   Joe, do you know what else is a sin besides killing babies? Lying... ... Joe Biden repeatedly made the claim in a Sunday interview on the NBC political show "Meet the Press" that he opposes taxpayer funding of abortions. However, a look at his voting record over the years reveals numerous instances where Barack Obama's pro-abortion running mate did exactly that. "I don't support public, public funding. I don't, because that flips the burden. That's then telling me I have to accept a different view," he said on the program. As recently as February, Biden voted against an amendmen