Bp. Paul Sobiechowski – Non-Papal Catholicism

By Rt. Rev. Paul Sobiechowski

My Brother Bishops, Clergy and laity of this International Catholic Congress of Anglicans:
I would like to thank all of you first for allowing me the opportunity to address your gathering. I am speaking to you also on behalf of my brother bishops of the Polish National Catholic Church. My presence here is as a result of an original invitation extended by Bishop Keith Ackerman to Prime Bishop Emeritus John Swantek. He was asked to speak on a series of articles he had written a few decades ago entitled “Non-Papal Catholicism”. These appeared in our church publication Rola Boża (or “God’s Field”). Prime Bishop Swantek, who led the Polish National Catholic Church from 1985 to 2002, had, at first accepted, but then chose not to attend due to health concerns.

Our bishops came together and decided that as co-chair of the Anglican Church in North America – Polish National Catholic Church dialogue, it would be appropriate that I represent the Church, … hence my presence today.

The topic “Non-Papal Catholicism” can also be placed in the form of a question: Can Catholicism exist without primacy of authority vested in the Office of the Bishop of Rome? Or in a larger sense, what kind of authority must the Church have and what is its origin? It would be easy to say one needs only look at the various Orthodox jurisdictions extant or our Polish National Catholic Church to say, of course. Or perhaps to simply to point to St. Ignatius who said “Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.”

We can certainly understand these examples by virtue of the existence of our various churches and Catholic bodies. But the more direct question is, how should Primacy or “the Authority of the Church” be understood? Does it lie, as the Roman Catholic Church would argue, within the Office of the Bishop of Rome? Or is this Authority to be found in a collegial sharing of Catholic bishops who gather as Church? Where does it lie, and what is its origin? It is this question I would like to address. I will present the words of the Church Fathers, the Ecumenical Councils and distinguished clerics and teachers who are far more spiritual and scholarly than I.

A sermon was preached on September 14, 1930 and again on November 16, 1930 by Rt. Rev. John Jasinski, Bishop of the Buffalo-Pittsburgh Diocese of the Polish National Catholic Church. It was so highly regarded that it was reprinted in the 1970’s in God’s Field and again in the June 1979 issue of the no-longer extant “Christian Challenge” . In this sermon Bishop Jasinski stated: “In Sacred Scripture there is not a single passage, not even a single reference of Peter’s superiority over the other Apostles. Nowhere in Sacred Scripture is mention made that Jesus Christ instituted the papacy and that Peter is to be the Bishop of Rome. On the contrary, we do find many passages that testify indisputably that amongst the Apostles there was complete equality. Jesus Christ recommended to them to maintain that equality to which the Apostles firmly adhered.”

Bishop Jasinski continues “Peter never did elevate himself above the other Apostles. In his First Epistle (I Peter 5:1), Peter calls himself an “elder” and not a superior. Nor does he call himself Christ’s successor. He considers himself a brother amongst brothers.

“St. Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians (1 Galatians 2: 9) names James, Cephas, (that is, Peter), and John as the pillars of the church. He does not single out Peter alone. Nor does he give Peter top priority, but considers him equal to James and John.”

The question of Papal authority, as understood in the Roman Catholic Church, hinges on Christ’s statement, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”

To this point, Bishop Jasinski continues: “Hence, the rock was St. Peter’s “confession”, it was his faith in Christ’s divinity. Thus interpret those words forty-seven church writers and bishops of the early Centuries, amongst whom are, Saints Hilary, Epiphanius, Ambrose, Cyril, Athanasius, Augustine, and Leo. St. Peter understood those words in the same manner, he never considered himself a pope, nor a superior Apostle, for in the presence of the entire Jewish Council and Doctors of the Law, he most emphatically expressed the following words concerning Christ: ‘Jesus is the one of whom the Scripture says, ‘The stone, that you the builders despised turned out to be the most important stone. Salvation is to be found through him alone.’‘ (AA. 4:11-12)”

When one looks at Scripture it would seem that the beginnings of an understanding of primacy of jurisdiction exists equally in each Apostle and again with all the Apostles together. I would invite you to consider the following citations dealing with the equality of the Apostles:

(Matthew 28: 18-20) “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”

(Matthew 18:18) “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

(John 20:21-23) “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’”

(Ephesians 2:19-20) “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.”

(Revelation 21:14) “And the wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”

And finally we look to Chapter 15 of the Acts of the Apostles. The passage presents the First Council of the Church, held in A.D. 50 or 51 in Jerusalem where all the apostles and elders gathered to discuss if the newly converted Gentiles should be circumcised. We see there Paul and Barnabas and other elders from Antioch presenting the question before the assembled body. After much debate Peter is then quoted arguing against circumcision. The scripture says that after a long silence to consider his words, the discussion continues with Paul and Barnabas telling of what they witnessed and experienced. Then James, the head of the Church in Jerusalem addresses the group. He relates Simon’s [Peter’s] earlier testimony of his work among the Gentiles, relates it to the words of Amos 9: 11-12 and then pronounces, “Therefore I have reached the decision that we should not trouble those Gentiles who are turning to God, but we should write to them to abstain only from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from whatever has been strangled and from blood. For in every city, for generations past, Moses has had those who proclaim him, for he has been read aloud every sabbath in the synagogues.” (Acts 15: 19-21).

The very next sentence of Scripture tells us: “Then the apostles and the elders, with the consent of the whole church, decided to choose men from among their members and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.” (Acts 15:22) The presence of Peter is not as one in authority. Rather the authority is exhibited both by James, by the Apostles and elders assembled together, with the “consent of the whole church.”

Philip Schaff, in his eight volume work History of the Christian Church wrote the following that I would like to use as a transition to the writings of the Church Fathers:

“The nearest approach to the idea of the ancient catholic episcopate may be found in the unique position of James, the Brother of the Lord. Unlike the apostles, he confined his labors to the mother church of Jerusalem. In the Jewish Christian traditions of the second century he appears both as bishop and pope of the church universal. But in fact he was only primus inter pares. In his last visit to Jerusalem, Paul was received by the body of the presbyters, and to them he gave an account of his missionary labors. Moreover, this authority of James, who was not an apostle,was exceptional and due chiefly to his close relationship with the Lord, and his personal sanctity, which won the respect even of the unconverted Jews.” [Catholic teaching would argue that James was indeed an Apostle, James the Less (Mark 15:40)].

“The institution of episcopacy … is very apparent and well-nigh universal about the middle of the second century. Its origin and growth will claim our attention in the next period.”

Prime Bishop John Swantek, in a series of articles that also appeared in God’s Field a few years back entitled “An Ecumenical Concern” looked closely at the understanding of Peter’s role as regards authority. He wrote: “In the seventeenth century, Jean de Launoy, a French historian, studied the writings of a number of Church Fathers to ascertain how they interpreted the word “rock” in chapter 16, verse 18 of St. Matthew’s Gospel. Here is what he discovered: 17 said the rock was Peter, 44 stated that the rock was Peter’s confession that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God, 16 maintained that it was Christ, and 8 held that the rock was the apostles. Out of 85 Fathers that de Launoy studied, only 17 stated that the rock was Peter.”

We see many of the Fathers of the Church speaking clearly as regards primacy and I would like to share with you a few who seem to recognize the authority of the Church being in the office of Bishop and again in the College of Bishops.

St. Cyprian (200 – 258) was the chair of the Council of Carthage in 256. Responding to the primacy claims of Bishop Stephen I of Rome that council “…expressed the following opinion about relations between bishops: ‘neither does any one of us set himself up as a bishop of bishops, nor by tyrannical terror does any compel his colleague to the necessity of obedience; since every bishop, according to the allowance of his liberty and power, has his own proper right of judgment, and can no more be judged by another than he himself can judge another. But let all of us wait for the judgment of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only one that has the power both of preferring us in the government of His Church, and of judging us in our conduct there’ (Sententiae episcoporum, PL 3, 1085C; 1053A-1054A). The same [decision, P.S.] is stated in the Letter of the Council of Africa to Celestine, the pope of Rome (424), which is included in all the authoritative editions of the code of canons, …as a canon of the Council of Carthage. In this letter the Council rejects the right of the pope of Rome to accept appeals against judgements made by the Council of African Bishops: ‘We earnestly conjure you, that for the future you do not readily admit to a hearing persons coming hence, nor choose to receive to your communion those who have been excommunicated by us…’.

St. Ignatius of Antioch (d.c. 107) in his Letter to the Magnesians and to the Trallians clearly states that Authority of Jurisdiction rests in the local bishop. In his letter to the Ephesians he presents a beautiful picture of unity under the authority of the bishop who is chosen by our Lord: “Wherefore it is fitting that ye should run together in accordance with the will of your bishop, which thing also ye do. For your justly renowned presbytery, worthy of God, is fitted as exactly to the bishop as the strings are to the harp. Therefore in your concord and harmonious love, Jesus Christ is sung. And do ye, man by man, become a choir, that being harmonious in love, and taking up the song of God in unison, ye may with one voice sing to the Father through Jesus Christ, so that He may both hear you, and perceive by your works that ye are indeed the members of His Son. It is profitable, therefore, that you should live in an unblameable unity, that thus ye may always enjoy communion with God. Wherefore it is fitting that ye also should run together in accordance with the will of the bishop who by God’s appointment rules over you.”

In the First Letter of Clement of Rome (88-97) to the Corinthians we again find an understanding of the authority of the local bishop: “The Apostles received for us the gospel from our Lord Jesus Christ; our Lord Jesus Christ received it from God. Christ, therefore, was sent out from God, and the Apostles from Christ; and both these things were done in good order, according to the will of God. They, therefore, having received the promises, having been fully persuaded by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and having been confirmed by the word of God, with the full persuasion of the Holy Spirit, went forth preaching the good tidings that the kingdom of God was at hand. Preaching, therefore, through the countries and cities, they appointed their firstfruits to be bishops and deacons over such as should believe, after they had proved them in the Spirit. And this they did in no new way, for in truth it had in long past time been written concerning bishops and deacons; for the scripture, in a certain place, saith in this wise: I will establish their bishops in righteousness, and their deacons in faith….

“Our Apostles, too, by the instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ, knew that strife would arise concerning the dignity of a bishop; and on this account, having received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed the above-mentioned as bishops and deacons: and then gave a rule of succession, in order that, when they had fallen asleep, other men, who had been approved, might succeed to their ministry.”

St. Cyprian of Carthage also spoke of the Authority of the Church to be found in the collegiality of the bishops. Philip Schaff comments: “The old catholic episcopalianism reached its maturity in the middle of the third century in the teaching and example of Cyprian, bishop and martyr of the church in North Africa. He represents the claims of episcopacy in close connection with the idea of a special priesthood and sacrifice. He is the typical high-churchman of the ante-Nicene age. He vigorously put into practice what he honestly believed. He had a good opportunity to assert his authority in the controversy about the lapsed during the Decian persecution, in the schism of Felicissimus, and in the controversy on heretical baptism. Cyprian considers the bishops as the bearers of the Holy Spirit, who passed from Christ to the apostles, from them by ordination to the bishops, propagates himself in an unbroken line of succession, and gives efficacy to all religious exercises. Hence they are also the pillars of the unity of the church; nay, in a certain sense they are the church itself. ‘The bishop,’ says he, ‘is in the church, and the church in the bishop, and if anyone is not with the bishop he is not in the church.’ And this is the same with him as to say, he is no Christian. Cyprian is thoroughly imbued with the idea of the solidary unity of the episcopate,—the many bishops exercising only one office in solidum, each within his diocese, and each at the same time representing in himself the whole office.”

These are only a few examples from the writing of the Fathers of the Church, that time allows referencing.

The concept of the conciliar authority of bishops developed between the apostolic period and the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea. This resulted from the rapid growth of Christianity, the multiplication of churches and the demands that distance put on bishops meeting to deal with the affairs of the Church. Synods (gatherings of churches) came into being when it became clear that there was a need to understand and define their roles and relationships. The concepts of Metropolitans, Archbishoprics, etc. have their origin flowing from these very synodal structures of the Church. These concepts did not occur as a “revelation from God.”
The First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea is a perfect example of such a synodal origin. Most of the twenty canons handed down deal in fact with authority and governance and the role the bishop plays therein. I would share with you Canon Six: “Let the ancient customs in Egypt, Libya and Pentapolis prevail, that the Bishop of Alexandria have jurisdiction in all these, since the like is customary for the Bishop of Rome also. Likewise in Antioch and the other provinces, let the Churches retain their privileges. And this is to be universally understood, that if anyone be made bishop without the consent of the Metropolitan, the great Synod has declared that such a man ought not to be a bishop. If, however, two or three bishops shall from natural love of contradiction, oppose the common suffrage of the rest, it being reasonable and in accordance with the ecclesiastical law, then let the choice of the majority prevail.”

This passage clearly shows that not only was the authority of the Roman Bishop not recognized as universal. The authority of a Metropolitan exists only in that province. The Synod also supports the authority of the individual Metropolitan.

The Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople in 381 further emphasized this understanding in the canons of the council. I would bring to your attention Canons Two and Three. Canon Two states: “The bishops are not to go beyond their dioceses to churches lying outside of their bounds, nor bring confusion on the churches; but let the Bishop of Alexandria, according to the canons, alone administer the affairs of Egypt; and let the bishops of the East manage the East alone, the privileges of the Church in Antioch, which are mentioned in the canons of Nicea, being preserved; and let the bishops of the Asian Diocese administer the Asian affairs only; and the Pontic bishops only Pontic matters; and the Thracian bishops only Thracian affairs. And let not bishops go beyond their dioceses for ordination or any other ecclesiastical ministrations, unless they be invited. And the aforesaid canon concerning dioceses being observed, it is evident that the synod of every province will administer the affairs of that particular province as was decreed at Nicea. But the Churches of God in heathen nations must be governed according to the custom which has prevailed from the times of the Fathers.”

Canon Three States; “The Bishop of Constantinople, however, shall have the prerogative of honour after the Bishop of Rome; because Constantinople is New Rome.”

From these two canons we can see that the bishops, whatever their position, are not to go outside the provinces for which they are responsible. This applies to metropolitans as well as diocesans and if there is a distinction between metropolitans, it is only a distinction of honor and nothing more.

Again due to time constraints, I will move from the Ecumenical Councils to the developing understanding of authority in the history of the Church.

Constantine’s establishment of the new Roman capitol at Constantinople effectively divided the Church. The Church in the East continues canons as set forth in the Ecumenical Councils. The Church also was blessed with a period of relative peace that allowed it to grow in scholarship and shared collegial responsibility among the bishops.
The Western Church experienced the disintegration of the Empire. As the civil authority of Rome disappeared and Western Europe descended into a “dark age” the Church became the only structure maintaining a “universality” that continued to unite clergy and laity. The absence of a civil government allowed such authority to be claimed by the Church, and the bishop of Rome began to claim a universal authority.

Both Eastern and Western Churches developed their own liturgical practices and polity. Rome and Constantinople experienced numerous clashes over authority which eventually led to 1054 and the separation of the Churches. The question of authority took two paths. That of the Eastern Church was a continuation of the Canons set forth by the Ecumenical Councils. The Western Church held its own “ecumencial” councils that involved only Western bishops. And as the countries of Western Europe re-emerged on the world stage, and began colonizing the Western Hemisphere and the lands of the Pacific Rim, the Bishop of Rome determined to play a role in the recognition of “divinely appointed” rulers and the conversion of all the peoples under the soverign authority of these “divinely appointed” rulers.

The authority of the bishop of Rome continued to increase to the point that when the First Vatican Council was held it was regarded as an affirmation of what had become obvious. The bishop of Rome was declared to have universal jurisdiction over the entire Church. There were those bishops and teachers of the Church who dissented, but they were in the minority. In fact, they were a significant minority but most of the dissenters left before the final vote on universal jurisdiction was taken.

The Eastern Church experienced its own trauma with the fall of Constantinople, the Muslim invasions, and the violence and destruction by the western crusaders. These forces weakened the Orthodox ecclesial structure, but the Orthodox Church continued and grew to the various patriarchates existing today. The Eastern Church continued to hold to the collegial authority of the Metropolitans and the bishops united with them.

An unexpected outgrowth of the First Vatican Council was the organization of the “Old Catholic Churches” united through the see of Utrecht. Founded by St. Willibrord in 696 the see of Utrecht was designated an archbishopric by Pepin and the chapter was given the right to elect its own archbishop. Those who rejected the teaching of universal jurisdiction and papal infallibility joined together with the Archbishopric of Utrecht, forming the Union of Utrecht.

The Old Catholic Union of Utrecht was the vehicle through which these dissenting clergy, educators and laity formed Churches in various European countries that consecrated bishops apart from Rome, continued the Western Catholic liturgical tradition and countered the growing oppressive authority exercised by the Bishop of Rome over his brother bishops and the churches united with them. While the Old Catholic Churches were western in liturgical practice, their ecclesial structure was more in keeping with the Eastern Catholic tradition.

In the Declaration of Utrecht, September 24, 1889, point two, we find the following: “We therefore reject the decrees of the so-called Council of the Vatican, which were promulgated on July 18th, 1870 concerning the infallibility and the universal Episcopate of the Bishop of Rome, decrees which contradict the faith of the ancient Church, and which destroy its ancient canonical constitution by attributing to the Pope the plenitude of ecclesiastical powers over all Dioceses and over all the faithful. By denial of his primatial jurisdiction we do not wish to deny the historic primacy which several Ecumenical Councils and the Fathers of the ancient Church have attributed to the Bishop of Rome by recognizing him as the Primus inter pares.” [first among equals].

Because the Old Catholic Churches and the Orthodox Churches had common ecclesial structures, the Old Catholic Churches were able to easily enter into dialogue with Orthodoxy from the beginning of its organization. From 1871 when Orthodox representatives participated in Old Catholic Congresses in Munich and 1872 in Cologne, a continual study of ecclesial and theological positions had existed that led to a collection of agreed statements that were signed and accepted by both Orthodox and Old Catholic Churches. An English translation of these are found in the booklet Road to Unity. In that booklet we find the following: “The one Church on earth exists in the many local Churches whose life is centered on the celebration of Holy Eucharist in the communion with the lawful bishop and his priests. “Let all follow the bishop as Jesus Christ did the Father, and the priest as you would the apostles… Let that Eucharist be held valid which is offered by the bishop or by one to whom the bishop has committed this charge” (Ignatius of Antioch, Smyrn. 8.1 – PG 5.582) .” In the course of history, the local Churches, which in specific geographical regions have established a deeper unity with a particular bishop as principal head, affirm and practice their fellowship by the common reception of the Eucharistic gifts by their members, by the exchange of visits between their leaders and representatives, by the interchange of messages of greeting, as well as by mutual aid and intercession, and in other ways in accordance with the distinctive gifts received by each. Each is careful to observe the rule forbidding intervention or meddling in the domestic affairs of the others.

“On matters of faith and other common concerns, i.e. where issues arise which concern them all and exceed the competence of each individual Church, the local Churches take counsel together and make common decisions, faithfully observing in such synods the order of honour and rank canonically established in the Church. They do so, above all, in ecumenical synods, which are the supreme authority in the Church, the instrument and the voice through which the Catholic Church speaks, whereby there is a constant effort to preserve and strengthen its unity in love.”

The reference to an “order of honour and rank canonicaly established in the Church” gives further evidence that the origin of any form of primacy is again of synodal origin.

These many citations and their sources indicate that it is possible to have a “Non-Papal Catholicism”, one without a singular “god-given” primacy of authority vested in the Office of the Bishop of Rome. The Western Old Catholic Church was just such a jurisdiction. Its Catholicism was accepted and understood by all catholic jurisdictions. The Old Catholic Church passed on its Apostolic Succession to the Polish National Catholic Church on September 29, 1907, when Bishop Francis Hodur was consecrated a bishop by the Archbishop of Utrecht, Gerard Gul, at St. Gertrude’s Cathedral in Utrecht. The bishops of Haarlem and Deventer served as co-consecrators.

The Polish National Catholic Church continues to this day as a Catholic jurisdiction, celebrating a western rite liturgy, while holding an ecclesial polity similar to the ancient tradition still held by the Eastern Church. The Polish National Catholic Church was also in sacramental intercommunion with the Episcopal Church from 1946 until 1976. In 1976 the Episcopal Church changed the matter of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. In response to this action the Prime Bishop, at the time, Thaddeus Zielinski, together with all bishops of the Polish National Catholic Church, suspended sacramental intercommunion. This was followed in 1978 with the decision of the General Synod of the Church to terminate sacramental intercommunion.

The other member churches of the Utrecht Union however, followed a different path and rather quickly adopted the misguided direction of the Episcopal Church and the Church of England and those other Anglican communions that approved the ordination of women to the sacramental priesthood and later the blessing of same sex marriages.

This resulted in the Polish National Catholic Church suspending Communion with Old Catholic Churches that ordained women to the sacramental priesthood, beginning with the German Old Catholic Church. As more Old Catholic Churches followed the German example and pushed for unanimous agreement on the matter, the Polish National Catholic Church stood as a bulwark against these innovations. When the International Bishops Conferences took place the meetings would deadlock on the matter and the tensions grew. The situation was untenable. Hence in November of 2003, on a motion made by the Bishop of the Swiss Old Catholic Church, the Polish National Catholic Church was removed from the Union of Utrecht. While the Polish National Catholic Church was saddened by yet another fraction in the Body of Christ, it determined to move forward believing that it retained the ecclesiology of Old Catholicism. It would not agree to the innovations introduced by the other Old Catholic Churches.

And so the Polish National Catholic Church, following the tenet of Old Catholicism that it never abandoned, and retaining the ancient ecclesial structure, established a new Union of Scranton, based on the Union of Utrecht model, but with the documents of that Union strengthened to safeguard the ancient ecclesial polity based on the collegial nature of the episcopacy and the teaching that the local Church is centered around the celebration of the Holy Eucharist with clergy and laity in communion with their local bishop. It would be the basis by which all church bodies would enter into Communion with the Polish National Catholic Church and all future member Churches. This document was signed by all the Polish National Catholic bishops in 2008. It has also been signed by all subsequent bishops consecrated in the Polish National Catholic Church.

In 1999 the Polish National Catholic Church granted episcopal oversight to a fledgling local church in Norway. By 2007 the Nordic Catholic Church held a synod at which Roald Nikolai Flemestad was elected to be a bishop for the Church. In 2011 Bishop Flemestad was consecrated in St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Cathedral in Scranton, PA. Prior to the consecration he also signed the Union of Scranton document and now there were two member churches in communion that respected one another’s ecclesial polity and liturgical tradition.

In closing, a non-Papal Western Catholicism does exist. And I would like to return to the words of Prime Bishop Emeritus John Swantek, who received your original invitation, who makes a very strong statement refuting the primacy of jurisdiction asserted by the Roman Catholic Church.

“The Catholic Churches not in communion with the Pope have no defects, because papal claims are quite dubious, and if this teaching was not taught nor known for many centuries, can we truly say that now it is an essential of the Church? Vatican I maintains that the papal claims were always known and taught from the very beginning. This does not stand the test of time.

“The Catholic Churches, which the Roman Church holds have defects, teach the same faith as the undivided Church of the first millennium in which the Bishop of Rome was given a primacy of honor, “primus inter pares”, by councils of bishops from both the East and West. It is very difficult to understand how this teaching, the primacy of jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome, could be an “internal constitutive principle.” It was never taught by the Church Universal or the Bishops of Rome for the first three or four centuries. It fails to meet the Vincentian Canon: ‘We hold that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all; that is truly and properly Catholic.’”

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