Anonymous asked in Society & CultureReligion & Spirituality · 1 decade ago

What proof does the Catholic church have to support their claim of being ?

the church that Christ & his apostles founded? I know they claim that Peter was the first pope & everything but what proof or evidence do they have to support their claims?


I'm not an Atheist, this is a genuine question that I would like an answer to. I wasn't trying to stir the pot.

Update 2:

I don't know who to choose as best answer, it goes to the people to choose.

34 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    Here are just a few (non-biblical) proofs of Peter as Bishop of Rome, all of them from before the council of Nicea in 325 A.D.

    Irenaeus in 189 C.E.:

    "The very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; ... The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate." (Against Heresies 3:3:2-3)

    Tertullian in 200 C.E.:

    "For this is the manner in which the apostolic churches transmit their registers: as the church of Smyrna, which records that Polycarp was placed therein by John; as also the church of Rome, which makes Clement to have been ordained in like manner by Peter." (Demurrer Against the Heretics 32)

    Anonymous in 211 C.E.:

    "For they say that all the early teachers and the apostles received and taught what they now declare, and that the truth of the Gospel was preserved until the times of Victor, who was the thirteenth bishop of Rome from Peter" (The Little Labyrinth, in Eusebius, Church History 5:28:3)

    Cyprian of Carthage in 251 C.E.:

    "And although to all the apostles, after His resurrection, He gives an equal power, and says, “As the Father hath sent me, ..., they shall be retained;” (John 20:21-22) yet, He founded a single Chair. That He might set forth unity, He established by His authority the origin of that unity, as having its origin in one man alone. No doubt the others were all that Peter was, but a primacy is given to Peter, and it is thus made clear that there is but one Church and one Chair. So too, even if they are all shepherds, we are shown but one flock which is to be fed by all the apostles in common accord. If a man does not hold fast to this oneness of Peter, does he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he deserts the Chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, has he confidence that he is in the Church?" (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4)

    And in 252 C.E.:

    "Moreover, Cornelius was made bishop by the judgment of God and of His Christ, by the testimony of almost all the clergy, by the suffrage of the people who were then present, and by the assembly of ancient priests and good men, when no one had been made so before him, when the place of Fabian, that is, when the place of Peter24612461 [On the death of Fabian, see Ep. iii. p. 281; sufferings of Cornelius (inference), p. 303; Decius, p. 299.] and the degree of the sacerdotal throne was vacant; which being occupied by the will of God, and established by the consent of all of us, whosoever now wishes to become a bishop, must needs be made from without; and he cannot have the ordination of the Church who does not hold the unity of the Church." (Letters 51:8)

    Eusebius of Caesarea in 312 C.E.:

    "As to the rest of his followers, Paul testifies that Crescens was sent to Gaul; but Linus, whom he mentions in the Second Epistle to Timothyas his companion at Rome, was Peter’s successor in the episcopate of the church there, as has already been shown. Clement also, who was appointed third bishop of the church at Rome, was, as Paul testifies, his co-laborer and fellow-soldier." (Church History 3:4:9–10).

    More other early Christian writings that refer to Peter as Bishop of Rome, see:

    The Catholic Church believes the Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the "rock" of his Church. He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock.

    The Pope is the senior pastor of 1.1 billion Catholics, the direct successor of Simon Peter.

    For more information, see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, section 880-882:

    With love in Christ.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    We actually have documentation of the successors of Peter and the apostles, and documents showing how we implimented the worship and hierarchy set up by Jesus and the apostles.

    One huge source for these is New a Catholic encyclopedia.

  • 1 decade ago

    "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."Matthew 16:18

    This is the passage that Catholics say that proves them to be the "One True Church". They believe Peter is what the church is built upon. However, we believe that it is Peter's affirmation, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God which is found at Matthew 16:15-16 when Jesus asked Peter who He was.

    Orthodox Christians also make the same claim as the Catholic church, that they are also the "One True Church".

    Source(s): Episcopalian
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago


    Catholic church was actually invented by Constantine at Council of Nicea in 325 AD


    But, Then why did the Emperor Decius in 250 AD list the pope and bishops in his edict of persecution ? ? ?

    Claim: The bishop of Lyons, France named Irenaeus invented the term "catholic church" about 180 AD

    Question: Then why did the third bishop of Antioch, named Ignatius, use the term "catholic church" around the year 98 AD ? ? ?

    Claim: Before 98 AD, there was no evidence of a catholic church or any mention of it.

    Question: Then why do churches sometimes go by other names?

    Isn't this fairly common? I know that The Congregational churches were often referred to as Puritans.

    Claim: Even if I accept that that it might have been called by a different name before 98 AD, I still cant accept that the catholic church is the same as the one in Acts.

    Question: What constituted the church in ACTS? And more importantly, was it ONE church- or many? In 98 AD, was the Catholic Church one church or many? Why would St John allow so much to go wrong while he was still alive- to allow a "break-off" catholic church right under his nose? Or...Was there always a central authority (petros) in ACTS who chaired the council of Jerusalem? Was there a central authority who chaired the universal (catholic) operation of the church in 98 AD.

    The answer to both questions is, yes.

    Source(s): Letter of Ignatius of Antioch to The Smyreans c 98 AD Letter of Pope Clement to the church at Corinth 95 AD The Didache 80 AD (letter of apostles still alive, describing the church in 80AD)
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  • 1 decade ago

    Go to the Religious history section of any University library. The Church has kept meticulous records. Saints and Martyrs sacrificed their lives to keep the records of the Church and the copies of the bible that they had throughout the darkest times of Christendom.

    In the first couple centuries many died and lived in caves to keep the faith and keep records, we still have those records.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Peter is an apostle and the head of the church at that time so even the Baptists claim him as their first Bishop.

  • 1 decade ago

    History. Early church historical accounts and the bible testifies that Jesus selected apostles, those apostles selected successors to lead the church by the laying on of hands (including Paul). They then anointed others, who continued the practice in an unbroken line. This is considered the 'apostolic tradition'. As for the 'popes' (aka. successors to the office/chair of peter, chancellor on earth of Jesus' church on earth), there are a number of historical accounts as early as 180 AD via guys like Irenaeous of Lyon who name Linus, Cletus, and Clement as the following Popes after Peter. Augustine, Eusebius and others would later concur. This is not a religious claim to be taken by faith alone, but a historic fact. If one wishes to doubt the validity and importance of this succession, so be it, but do not doubt that it happens.

    There are many claims to this effect written by multiple authors in the Early Church years.

    Even Luther tried to get some eastern bishops to ordain him a bishop and continue the apostolic succession.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The Roman Catholic claim to this may be thin, but it is not utterly non-existent. The claims of some American based churches to this are entirely without foundation. There is a historical continuity from the journey of Peter to Rome through to the present day. It is true that doctrine may have changed, but this is true of all religions.

    The Jews of today do not follow the same religion as Noah or Abraham and since the time of Maimonides may not be quite as close to the teaching of Moses as they might once have been, though I'm sure many faithful Jews would disagree.

    Likewise the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches have had questions before them for which there is no guidance, or only ambiguous guidance in Scripture.

    So they have had to work things out for themselves. Ancient authorities like St. Augustine or Thomas Aquinas have shaped Catholic and Orthodox doctrine. Questions arising since have been resolved by any of spur of the moment decisions, deep reflection, lengthy argument with painstaking logic, like questions arising before any institution.

    If you want provable historical continuity, the Roman Catholic, Orthodox or Coptic churches are far, far more likely to be a distant memory of the early Christians than the US churches which have split of from some other church that branched of another that divided from another that grew out of the Presbyterians or the Anglicans which split off from the Roman Catholics that split off from the Orthodox which split off from the Jerusalem church nearly 2000 years ago.

  • Daver
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Peter is the Rock on which the Church is Built

    Mark 3:16; John 1:42 – Jesus renames Simon "Kepha" in Aramaic which literally means "rock." This was an extraordinary thing for Jesus to do, because "rock" was not even a name in Jesus' time. Jesus did this, not to give Simon a strange name, but to identify his new status among the apostles. When God changes a person's name, He changes their status.

    Gen. 17:5; 32:28; 2 Kings 23:34; Acts 9:4; 13:9 - for example, in these verses, we see that God changes the following people's names and, as a result, they become special agents of God: Abram to Abraham; Jacob to Israel, Eliakim to Jehoiakim, Saul to Paul.

    2 Sam. 22:2-3, 32, 47; 23:3; Psalm 18:2,31,46; 19:4; 28:1; 42:9; 62:2,6,7; 89:26; 94:22; 144:1-2 - in these verses, God is also called "rock." Hence, from these verses, non-Catholics often argue that God, and not Peter, is the rock that Jesus is referring to in Matt. 16:18. This argument not only ignores the plain meaning of the applicable texts, but also assumes words used in Scripture can only have one meaning. This, of course, is not true. For example:

    1 Cor. 3:11 - Jesus is called the only foundation of the Church, and yet in Eph. 2:20, the apostles are called the foundation of the Church. Similarly, in 1 Peter 2:25, Jesus is called the Shepherd of the flock, but in Acts 20:28, the apostles are called the shepherds of the flock. These verses show that there are multiple metaphors for the Church, and that words used by the inspired writers of Scripture can have various meanings. Catholics agree that God is the rock of the Church, but this does not mean He cannot confer this distinction upon Peter as well, to facilitate the unity He desires for the Church.

    Matt. 16:18 - Jesus said in Aramaic, you are "Kepha" and on this "Kepha" I will build my Church. In Aramaic, "kepha" means a massive stone, and "evna" means little pebble. Some non-Catholics argue that, because the Greek word for rock is "petra", that "Petros" actually means "a small rock", and therefore Jesus was attempting to diminish Peter right after blessing him by calling him a small rock. Not only is this nonsensical in the context of Jesus' blessing of Peter, Jesus was speaking Aramaic and used "Kepha," not "evna." Using Petros to translate Kepha was done simply to reflect the masculine noun of Peter.

    Moreover, if the translator wanted to identify Peter as the "small rock," he would have used "lithos" which means a little pebble in Greek. Also, Petros and petra were synonyms at the time the Gospel was written, so any attempt to distinguish the two words is inconsequential. Thus, Jesus called Peter the massive rock, not the little pebble, on which He would build the Church. (You don’t even need Matt. 16:18 to prove Peter is the rock because Jesus renamed Simon “rock” in Mark 3:16 and John 1:42!).

    Matt. 16:17 - to further demonstrate that Jesus was speaking Aramaic, Jesus says Simon "Bar-Jona." The use of "Bar-Jona" proves that Jesus was speaking Aramaic. In Aramaic, "Bar" means son, and "Jonah" means John or dove (Holy Spirit). See Matt. 27:46 and Mark 15:34 which give another example of Jesus speaking Aramaic as He utters in rabbinical fashion the first verse of Psalm 22 declaring that He is the Christ, the Messiah. This shows that Jesus was indeed speaking Aramaic, as the Jewish people did at that time.

    Matt. 16:18 - also, in quoting "on this rock," the Scriptures use the Greek construction "tautee tee" which means on "this" rock; on "this same" rock; or on "this very" rock. "Tautee tee" is a demonstrative construction in Greek, pointing to Peter, the subject of the sentence (and not his confession of faith as some non-Catholics argue) as the very rock on which Jesus builds His Church. The demonstrative (“tautee”) generally refers to its closest antecedent (“Petros”). Also, there is no place in Scripture where “faith” is equated with “rock.”

    Matt. 16:18-19 - in addition, to argue that Jesus first blesses Peter for having received divine revelation from the Father, then diminishes him by calling him a small pebble, and then builds him up again by giving him the keys to the kingdom of heaven is entirely illogical, and a gross manipulation of the text to avoid the truth of Peter's leadership in the Church. This is a three-fold blessing of Peter - you are blessed, you are the rock on which I will build my Church, and you will receive the keys to the kingdom of heaven (not you are blessed for receiving Revelation, but you are still an insignificant little pebble, and yet I am going to give you the keys to the kingdom).

    Matt. 16:18-19 – to further rebut the Protestant argument that Jesus was speaking about Peter’s confession of faith (not Peter himself) based on the revelation he received, the verses are clear that Jesus, after acknowledging Peter’s receipt of divine revelation, turns the whole discourse to the person of Peter: Blessed are “you” Simon, for flesh and blood h

  • 1 decade ago

    In the book of Acts, 2:38, Peter said repent and be

    baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus,

    and also in acts 8:16 , 10:48, 19:5 and a few others...

    I didnt realize they followed scripture as instructed

    in the New Testament , as that was the first recorded

    church gatherings.

  • 1 decade ago

    You asked for it:

    St. Peter (32-67) St. Linus (67-76) St. Anacletus (Cletus) (76-88) St. Clement I (88-97) St. Evaristus (97-105) St. Alexander I (105-115) St. Sixtus I (115-125) Also called Xystus I St. Telesphorus (125-136) St. Hyginus (136-140) St. Pius I (140-155) St. Anicetus (155-166) St. Soter (166-175)

    St. Eleutherius (175-189) St. Victor I (189-199) St. Zephyrinus (199-217) St. Callistus I (217-22) Callistus and the following three popes were opposed by St. Hippolytus, antipope (217-236) St. Urban I (222-30) St. Pontain (230-35)

    St. Anterus (235-36) St. Fabian (236-50) St. Cornelius (251-53) Opposed by Novatian, antipope (251) St. Lucius I (253-54) St. Stephen I (254-257) St. Sixtus II (257-258) St. Dionysius (260-268) St. Felix I (269-274) St. Eutychian (275-283) St. Caius (283-296) Also called Gaius St. Marcellinus (296-304) St. Marcellus I (308-309) St. Eusebius (309 or 310) St. Miltiades (311-14) St. Sylvester I (314-35) St. Marcus (336) St. Julius I (337-52) Liberius (352-66) Opposed by Felix II, antipope (355-365) St. Damasus I (366-83) Opposed by Ursicinus, antipope (366-367) St. Siricius (384-99) St. Anastasius I (399-401) St. Innocent I (401-17)

    St. Zosimus (417-18) St. Boniface I (418-22) Opposed by Eulalius, antipope (418-419) St. Celestine I (422-32) St. Sixtus III (432-40) St. Leo I (the Great) (440-61) St. Hilarius (461-68) St. Simplicius (468-83) St. Felix III (II) (483-92)

    St. Gelasius I (492-96) Anastasius II (496-98) St. Symmachus (498-514) Opposed by Laurentius, antipope (498-501) St. Hormisdas (514-23) St. John I (523-26) St. Felix IV (III) (526-30) Boniface II (530-32) Opposed by Dioscorus, antipope (530) John II (533-35) St. Agapetus I (535-36) Also called Agapitus I St. Silverius (536-37) Vigilius (537-55) Pelagius I (556-61) John III (561-74) Benedict I (575-79) Pelagius II (579-90) St. Gregory I (the Great) (590-604) Sabinian (604-606)Boniface III (607) St. Boniface IV (608-15) St. Deusdedit (Adeodatus I) (615-18) Boniface V (619-25) Honorius I (625-38) Severinus (640) John IV (640-42) Theodore I (642-49) St. Martin I (649-55) St. Eugene I (655-57)

    That's enough to give you an idea of the unbroken line of Popes since St. Peter. If you want to see the full list, check out the website listed below. Y!A truncated the list after the first hundred and fifty or so.

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