Skip to comments.Pope Cites 1st-Century Pope's Views On Church-State
Posted on 03/08/2007 5:42:28 AM PST by marshmallow
Vatican, Mar. 7, 2007 (CWNews.com) - At his regular weekly public audience on March 7, Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) continued his series of talks on the early Church by recalling the figure of St. Clement, the 3rd successor to St. Peter.
Speaking to about 16,000 people in the Paul VI auditorium, the Holy Father cited the words of St. Irenaeus, who reported that St. Clement had been personally acquainted with the original apostles, and still had their preaching in his ears and their tradition before his eyes. Thus the 4th Pope, who led the Church at the end of the 1st century, extended the apostolic era.
Little is known today about St. Clemente, in whose honor the Church in Rome built a magnificent 4th-century basilica near the Coliseum. But he is known for his letter to the Church in Corinth. Pope Benedict pointed out that this letter, in which St. Clement intervened to settle a dispute among the citys Christians, is the first exercise of the primacy of Rome after the death of Peter.
The letter of St. Clement clarifies the nature of the Church, as an organized structure in which each member undertakes his mission according to his vocation, the Pope observed. The letter emphasizes that the mission of the Church is sacramental rather than political, and encourages the faithful to respond to Gods invitation with a generous and courageous journey of conversion."
St. Clements letter is also significant in that it concludes with a prayer for political leaders, Pope Benedict continued. This prayer is the first Christian invocation for public authorities, and has guided the attitude of Christian towards politics and the state since that day, the Pope noted.
The prayer is noteworthy, too, because it was written shortly after the death of the Roman Emperor Domitian, who organized the persecution of Christians. The Pope of that day, though aware that the persecutions would continue, did not cease to pray for those same authorities that had unjustly condemned them, Pope Benedict said.
Through his letter to the Corinthians, St. Clement offered a clear distinction between the roles of Church and state, the Holy Father said. The 1st-century Pope showed his deference to public authority, but also insisted that a political ruler should act justly and gently-- that the ruler himself is subject to the demand of moral conduct.
At the same time, St. Clement upheld the authority of the Church, and her separate mission of salvation. In short, the Pope concluded, St. Clement taught that Caesar is not everything. There is another kingship, the origin and essence of which are not of this world."
Paul intervened in Corinth too. Why does the Pope assume that Clement's intervention there was the first exercise of the primacy of Rome? Did Clement make that claim?
Pope Benedict pointed out that this letter, in which St. Clement intervened to settle a dispute among the citys Christians, is the first exercise of the primacy of Rome after the death of Peter.
After the death of St. Peter. Furthermore, Paul was never the primate of Rome. He was a wonderful evangelist but never Pope.
Leaving aside the issue of primacy, the other thing that impresses me is how willing BXVI is to take on the political powers. He really made the Italian government back down on their "gay marriage" stuff, although I'm sure it's a temporary lull and they'll be back. But he feels very strongly that state injustice and violations of natural law are not to be tolerated quietly either by Christians in general or by the successor to Peter himself. He understands that the Papacy still has power, and he's trying to use it before it is completely eroded by neglect.
From his late first century Epistle to the Corinthians.
"We call upon You, O Master, to be our helper and defender! [Ps. cxix. 114.] Save such of us as are in affliction; have pity on the humble; raise up the fallen; show yourself to such as are in want; heal the sick; convert those of Your people that are in error; feed the hungry; ransom our prisoners; raise up the feeble; comfort the weak-hearted. Let all the Gentiles know that You are God alone [I. Kings viii. 60], and that Jesus Christ is Your Son, and that we are Your people and the sheep of Your pasture. [Ps. c. 3.] You did manifest the perpetual constitution of the universe by Your works therein. You, O Lord, did create the world! You are faithful throughout all generations; You are righteous in Your judgments; You are wonderful in Your strength and splendor; You are wise to create and [ingenious] to establish the things that are made; You are good in Your works which are seen, and faithful with such as put their confidence in You; You are merciful and full of compassion. [Please] forgive us our transgressions and our unrighteousness, our faults and our weaknesses! Impute not to Your servants... all their sin; but cleanse us thoroughly by Your truth, and direct our steps that we may walk in holiness and righteousness and simplicity of heart, and that we may do that which is good and well pleasing in the sight of You and of our rulers. [Ps. cxix. 133; Deut. xiii. 8.] [Please], Lord, cause Your face to shine upon us for blessing [Ps. Ixvi. 2], with peace, that we may be covered by Your mighty hand and be delivered from all sin by Your high arm. [Ex. vi.1.] Save us from them that hate us without a cause. Grant peace and concord to us and all that dwell upon the earth, as You gave it unto our fathers when they called upon You in faith and truth with holiness; that we may obey Your almighty and all-holy Name, and render submission to our rulers and governors upon the earth."
The author suggests that this is "no ordinary private prayer: it is the solemn and public service of the Catholic Church ... one of the Prefaces of the Mass such as were sung in the earliest days of Christianity, when the personal enthusiasm for Jesus was like a clear new flame in the hearts of His priests; when every meeting of Christians was one long dithyrambic* service, during which the evil world and the reign of the Antichrist** faded from this lower consciousness, to give place to the vision of a victorious and rewarding Christ, enthroned above the sun and the stars, and looking down with...tenderness on His disciples as they moved upward and onward beneath the whips and stings of life..." These phrases are a collection of Old Testament passages and texts and are perhaps "the oldest document of the holy Mass outside of the inspired writings. They are also like a flash-light picture of the daily life and temper of the Christians of Rome..."
Very Rev. Thomas J. Shahan, The Beginnings of Christianity. Benziger Brothers (1903) pp. 94-96. Imprimatur JNO. M. Farley, Archbishop of New York, July 9, 1903.
Very thought provoking, reminds us in addition to his role as spiritual leader--PBXVI is such an accomplished scholar.
Sorry to co-opt this thread with an off topic comment, but Dom Bettinelli's wife Melanie has uterine cancer. It is pretty sad.
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