Skip to comments.Forged Documents and Papal Power (A Former Catholic Nun)
Posted on 09/02/2013 9:07:37 AM PDT by bkaycee
What we now call popes were originally bishops of Rome (one bishop among brother bishops from other cities). Then they became popes, with power over the entire Church. Then they became so powerful that they were able to depose kings and emperors. They became so powerful that they were able to force kings to use their secular might to enforce the Inquisition, which was conducted by Catholic priests and monks. In 1870, the Pope was declared to be infallible. The process of increasing papal power was influenced by forged documents which changed peoples perception of the history of the papacy and of the Church.
Im just going to briefly summarize some information about these forgeries. At the end of this paper is a link to an on-line article which gives detailed historical information.
One of the most famous forgeries is the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals, which were written around 845 A.D. (They are also known as the False Decretals.) They consist of 115 documents which were supposedly written by early popes. [Note 1]
The Catholic Encyclopedia admits that these are forgeries. It says that the purpose of these forged documents was to enable the Church to be independent of secular power, and to prevent the laity from ruling the Church. [Note 2 gives the address of an on-line article.] In other words, their purpose was to increase the power of the Pope and the Catholic Church.
In addition to documents which were total forgeries, genuine documents were altered. One hundred twenty-five genuine documents had forged material added to them, which increased the power of the Pope. Many early documents were changed to say the opposite of what they had originally said. [Note 3]
One of the forgeries is a letter which was falsely attributed to Saint Ambrose. It said that if a person does not agree with the Holy See, then he or she is a heretic. [Note 4] This is an example of how papal power was promoted by fraudulently claiming the authority of highly respected Early Fathers.
Another famous forgery from the ninth century was The Donation of Constantine. It claimed that Emperor Constantine gave the western provinces of the Roman Empire to the Bishop of Rome. The Pope used it to claim authority in secular matters. [Note 5]
When Greek Christians tried to discuss issues with the Church in Rome, the popes often used forged documents to back their claims. This happened so frequently that for 700 years the Greeks referred to Rome as the home of forgeries. [Note 6]
For three hundred years, the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals and other forgeries were used by Roman Popes to claim authority over the Church in the East. The Patriarch of Constantinople rejected these false claims of primacy. This resulted in the separation of the Orthodox Church from the Roman Catholic Church. [Note 7 gives addresses of on-line articles.]
In the middle of the twelfth century, a monk named Gratian wrote the Decretum, which became the basis for Canon Law (the legal system for running the Roman Catholic Church). It contained numerous quotations from forged documents. Gratian drew many of his conclusions from those quotations. Gratian quoted 324 passages which were supposedly written by popes of the first four centuries. Of those passages, only eleven are genuine. The other 313 quotations are forgeries. [Note 8]
In the thirteenth century, Thomas Aquinas wrote the Summa Theologica and numerous other works. His writings are the foundation for scholastic theology. Aquinas used Gratians Decretum for quotations from church fathers and early popes. [Note 9] Aquinas also used forged documents which he thought were genuine. [Note 10]
The importance of Thomas Aquinas theology can be seen in the encyclical of Pope Pius X on the priesthood. In 1906, Pius said that in their study of philosophy, theology, and Scripture, men studying for the priesthood should follow the directions given by the popes and the teaching of Thomas Aquinas. [This papal encyclical is available on-line. Note 11 gives addresses.]
William Webster is the author of The Church of Rome at the Bar of History. (I recommend this book.) His web site has an article entitled Forgeries and the Papacy: The Historical Influence and Use of Forgeries in Promotion of the Doctrine of the Papacy. The article gives detailed information about the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals and other forged documents, showing their influence on the papacy and on the Catholic Church. Four quotations from his article are below. (They are used by permission.)
In the middle of the ninth century, a radical change began in the Western Church, which dramatically altered the Constitution of the Church, and laid the ground work for the full development of the papacy. The papacy could never have emerged without a fundamental restructuring of the Constitution of the Church and of mens perceptions of the history of that Constitution. As long as the true facts of Church history were well known, it would serve as a buffer against any unlawful ambitions. However, in the 9th century, a literary forgery occurred which completely revolutionized the ancient government of the Church in the West. This forgery is known as the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals, written around 845 A.D. The Decretals are a complete fabrication of Church history. They set forth precedents for the exercise of sovereign authority of the popes over the universal Church prior to the fourth century and make it appear that the popes had always exercised sovereign dominion and had ultimate authority even over Church Councils.
The historical facts reveal that the papacy was never a reality as far as the universal Church is concerned. There are many eminent Roman Catholic historians who have testified to that fact as well as to the importance of the forgeries, especially those of Pseudo-Isidore. One such historian is Johann Joseph Ignaz von Dollinger. He was the most renowned Roman Catholic historian of the last century, who taught Church history for 47 years as a Roman Catholic. [Webster quotes extensitely from Dollinger.]
In addition to the Pseudo Isidorian Decretals there were other forgeries which were successfully used for the promotion of the doctrine of papal primacy. One famous instance is that of Thomas Aquinas. In 1264 A.D. Thomas authored a work entitled Against the Errors of the Greeks. This work deals with the issues of theological debate between the Greek and Roman Churches in that day on such subjects as the Trinity, the Procession of the Holy Spirit, Purgatory and the Papacy. In his defense of the papacy Thomas bases practically his entire argument on forged quotations of Church fathers . These spurious quotations had enormous influence on many Western theologians in succeeding centuries.
The authority claims of Roman Catholicism ultimately devolve upon the institution of the papacy. The papacy is the center and source from which all authority flows for Roman Catholicism. Rome has long claimed that this institution was established by Christ and has been in force in the Church from the very beginning. But the historical record gives a very different picture. This institution was promoted primarily through the falsification of historical fact through the extensive use of forgeries as Thomas Aquinas apologetic for the papacy demonstrates. Forgery is its foundation.
I strongly encourage you to read William Websters article. It has an abundance of valuable historical information. The address of the article is:
USE OF THIS ARTICLE
I encourage you to link to this article and to put it on your own web site. You have my permission to copy this entire article or portions of it, and to quote from it. You have my permission to incorporate this entire article or portions of it into publications of your own, including translating it into other languages. You have my permission to distribute copies of this article, including selling it for profit. I do not want any royalties or financial remuneration of any kind. Please give this information to anybody who might be interested in it.
 William Webster, The Church of Rome at the Bar of History (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1995), pages 62-63. Webster is a former Catholic.
Peter de Rosa, Vicars of Christ (Dublin, Ireland: Poolbeg Press, 1988, 2000), pages 58-61, 174, 208. De Rosa is a Catholic, and a former Catholic priest. He was able to do historical research in the Vatican Archives.
Paul Johnson, A History of Christianity (New York: A Touchstone Book, Simon & Schuster, 1976, 1995), page 195. Johnson is a Catholic and a prominent historian.
 Benedict Levita in the Catholic Encyclopedia. [Benedict Levita is the pseudonym of the author of the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals.]
 De Rosa, page 59.
 De Rosa, page 166.
 Johnson, pages 170-172.
 De Rosa, page 59.
 Orthodox Christian Information Center, The False Decretals of Isidore. An excerpt from The Papacy by Abbee Guette. The author was a devout Catholic and a historian. As a result of his historical research about the papacy, he eventually joined the Orthodox Church.
The Great Schism of 1054. This is a sermon given at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist,in Washington, D.C.
 Webster, pages 62-63. De Rosa, page 60.
 Webster, page 63. De Rosa, page 60.
 William Webster, Forgeries and the papacy: The Historical Influence and Use of Forgeries in Promotion of the Doctrine of the Papacy. This gives detailed accounts of Aquinas use of forged documents which he wrongly believed to be genuine.
 Pius X, Pieni lanimo (On the Clergy in Italy), July 28, 1906. (See paragraph 6.)
There is zero evidence that Mary Ann Collins (or whatever she’s calling herself now), was ever a Catholic nun.
If she were a nun she’s just another disgruntled nun who left the church because she couldn’t become ordained.
Is this along the same lines as the Chick tracts/Albert Rivera comics in accuracy? hehe
Again - it would be one thing if this were true. But there’s no evidence whatsoever that this ‘Mary Ann Collins’, is anything more than a pseudonym.
This screed is so full of nonsense and error that there is no way that the author is, or ever was, a nun. It is just BS.
Is this the banned site?
Is there a list of banned sites?
Obviously if the world had been ruled by secular humanist feminist vegetarian lesbians instead of those awful flesh eating heterosexual males,
everything would be perfect!
(Sarcasm and automatic fairy tale-ism OFF)
A little on this “former nun”.
When I see someone who seems to spend all their waking hours digging up and posting numerous venomous and inaccurate anti-Catholic articles, I just think. “What a sad, sad, person. He or she apparently has experienced some hurt or disappointments in their life to become so obsessively hateful. They surely need our prayers.” And then I pray for them.
A person who won’t clearly identify themselves going on and on about “forged documents”. Thanks for my heart-healthy laugh of the day.
Rome admits the forgeries!
I was going to post an *In before attacking the messenger* but I see that it took to only the second post to do that.
I guess when someone cannot contest the facts, all they have left in their arsenal is to slander the person, in the hopes that nobody will take them seriously if they can be discredited first.
Funny, I see them as faithful saints concerned with those souls trapped in Satan’s clever counterfeit religion.
That won't stop the slander of the author.
Rome is NEVER wrong, dontcha know?
Pope refers to the Latin title “Pontifex Maxiumus” or great bridge builder, an ancient title of the head of the college of priests of Ancient Rome.
Pontifex Maximus is thus a pagan position, dependent on pagan authority for its precedents, and prerogatives.
Would that be like the Catholic FReepers who are claiming that she's wrong without offering any proof?
Yes, .45LG; that is funny. I will pray for you, too. :)
When Constantine the Great convoked the famous Council of Nicaea early in the FOURTH CENTURY there was no pope and no papacy. Constantine, who is not listed as a pope in Romes papal lineage, himself assumed the leadership of the churches and took the title Pontifex Maximus highest priest. Inasmuch as the Pontifex Maximus title is one of the many applied to Roman Catholic popes, Sylvester, bishop of Rome at the time, should have had that title if he was the reigning pope. He was not the pope or a pope, and he was not even in attendance at the AD 325 Council of Nicaea
Who cares who this Collins is? Is the article factual or not? If not then in what statement? If so it doesn’t matter who said it.
Is the article factual?
Well, it’s sleazy if the “former Catholic nun” angle is a ruse, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the article’s claims about forged documents being used to support the doctrine of the papacy aren’t true. The emphasis on the status of the messenger, the classic “ad hominum” argument, is a way of avoiding the message. Maybe there are solid counter arguments to the claims made in this story, but few - if any - of the critics are telling us what they are.
As for the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals and the Donation of Constantine, both were indeed forgeries or --- what's worse --- mixed collections of forged and genuine manuscripts. Most of what Pseudo-Mary-Ann-Collins has to say about them is false or --- what's worse --- a mixture of tendentious and genuine interpretation.
(Pause here for all characters to change their names and reappear different costumes like a fast-paced Shakespearean farce.)
The False Decretals were evidently concocted by some Frankish monks in the 800's as an attempt to get the Carolingian Empire to back off on trying to dominate the bishops, either directly as the Empire bossing around the Church, or indirectly as imperial allies (archbishops and so forth) trying to boss around little local bishops and abbots.
In many ways an admirable project --- monks trying to defend the liberty of their local abbot --- though not, of course, by forgery.
The people through the centuries who quoted from these False Decretals (including Aquinas) were emphatically not frauds: they were just people who thought them to be genuine manuscripts, as did everybody at the time (i.e. everybody on both sides of many a disputed question.)
The person who finally did do the necessary, painstaking detective work was none other than a fifteenth century Latin scholar, Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa. A Catholic, you'll note. It's been a long time since anybody seriously argued that the Decretals and the Donation were genuine.
So the Pseudo-Mary-Ann runs up now to the train station, red-faced but triumphant, proclaiming that she has discovered these forged Frankish manuscripts?
That train left a couple centuries ago, Pseudo-Sister. Nice try.
I cannot speak to the nun, but you will find no one who will stand to defend these documents, and the gist of the story, the impact of these documents, is certainly true. Ergo, I doubt you will find any serious discussion on this thread, as all they will have left is poo-throwing.
This was first shown to be a forgery in the 15th century, by a "Roman" Cardinal/literary detective.
It's not something "Rome" had to be forced to "admit" by an American gal with a fake name skidding into a website almost 600 years too late.
A former nun is.....someone who quit being a nun and is no longer a nun. A nun is just a Catholic promised to virginity, wed to Christ, not a scholar. So she divorced him.
Pope is human, so not infallible - the church’s teachings are infallible and so when the pope speaks on those, there is infallibility - which is why Catholics are taught not to contracept, kill their babies or elderly, nor death penalty in 1st world countries, nor engage in sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman. Infallible.
“nor death penalty in 1st world countries”
Catholics are not taught the above to be infallible. Secondly, is the death penalty OK for you in 3rd world countries?
What the lead article says about the Roman church and forged documents and Papal Power is spot on. I have taken notice how everyone of the FR Catholics have responded.
Now, I know what I am going to say here is not true of all Catholics, the ones I’ve known personally, but the ones who post on the RF, not so, they appear a very dishonest lot. Which is why nothing meaningful ever comes out of any discussion with them.
Generally speaking, I don’t find this among Protestants (using the term to mean non-Catholic Christians), but then they don’t have primacy claims over the whole of Christianity to defend.
I guess, when you think about it, we shouldn’t be shocked at the dishonesty, my goodness, everything hangs on the Roman church’s claim that the Popes reign over Christianity is historically valid (the rest of Christianity - yea, the entire world - must be in subservience to the Pope). As the lead article brings out, they have used dishonest means to establish the primacy.
The institution of the Papacy is simply a lie, the fact that they use lying forged documents to establish it, proves it. And the lying tradition continues on.
FORMER Catholic nun?
Honesty is a matter of honor which I take seriously, and, as a Catholic, personally.
All you can do is be faithful and keep on posting these excellent and informative articles. :O)
This offcourse is old news. She just happen to put a short readable article on it. That’s all.
I have the same attitude on this as i do the anti Mormon threads, that is the thread itself is not what i object to but rather some of the sleazy comments it brings from the anti Mormons.
Almost every one agrees with an anti Mormon thread and some of it gets carried away but i do not see it to that extent on an anti Catholic thread.
So i will just say i base my belief of the Gospel on what i understand of the Bible.
I do not have to take the word of some professor who has never walked the walk but only talked the talk.
The ordinary people like the fishermen brought the Gospel straight from Jesus to us, they walked the walk.
And that is good enough for me, No Mormonism, no Catholicism, no religionism period.
It's rather telling, isn't it?
Do you have any idea how many of us non-Catholics agree with you?
You might be surprised.
As far as the charge of *anti-Catholic* that is lobbed at non-Catholic believers over the slightest hint of criticism of the Catholic religion.
They simply cannot tolerate dissent or critiquing, or holding their beliefs up to the light of Scripture for comparison to see if they align with Scripture or not.
When the church is shown to have operated in deceit, the reactions on this thread are the result. It pushes the Catholics right over the edge. They just can't handle it.
By whose definition of the terms "pope" and "papacy"? Yours? Rome certainly had a sitting bishop; at the time of Nicaea I, Pope Sylvester. It had a sitting bishop at the time of Constantine's accession, too: Pope Melchiades. In fact, it was Constantine who gave the church (through Melchiades) the estate of Plautius Lateranus, which is why the Pope's basilica, built on the site, is today called St. John Lateran.
It's certainly true that Sylvester wasn't present at Nicaea I. He sent legates. It wasn't as though he could take a taxi to the airport and hop a jet to Constantinople, you know.
Constantine, who is not listed as a pope in Romes papal lineage
Because he wasn't a pope.
himself assumed the leadership of the churches
In what sense?
and took the title Pontifex Maximus highest priest.
Wrong. Completely wrong. He already had the title "Pontifex Maximus" as the titular head of the Roman state religion. (Which was still pagan at that time.) All the Roman Emperors prior to Constantine had that title.
When the Roman state religion became Christianity under Theodosius the Great (ca AD 380), the title naturally passed to the Bishop of Rome.
26 posts and all we have is slam the messenger and even now you have no responses! Telling.
You nailed it on that one!
When the church is shown to have operated in deceit, the reactions on this thread are the result. It pushes the Catholics right over the edge. They just can’t handle it.
It appears that Rome was forced to admit they were forgeries, only after they could no longer prop them up.
The chief affair was the maintenance of the authority of the False decretals, Gratian, and the forgeries accepted by St. Thomas Aquinas. For a long while no one in the Catholic Church dared to expose the latter. French scholars were the first, about 1660 to tell the truth about them. Gratian's Decretum had gained new authority through the revision and correction ordered by the Popes, in the course of which many forgeries must doubtles have been detected. The pseudo-Isidore was still for a long time protected by the Index. When the famous canonist, Contius, brought forward the evidence of its spuriousness, the Preface in which this contained was suppressed by the censorship.
On the appearance of the famous work of Blondel, which completely dissected the pseudo-Isidore, the last doubts about the true nature of the fraud were exploded. But it too was placed on the Index. About the time of the Declaration of 1682, the Spanish Benedictine, Aguirre, made the last attempt worth mentioning to rehabilitate the pseudo-Isidore. It could now no longer be denied that with this forgery disappeared the whole historical foundation of the papal system for any one acquainted with history. Aguirre was rewarded with a cardinal's hat. But in the course of the eighteenth century it came to be perceived at Rome that it was impossible to maintain any longer the genuiness of this compilation, and thus at last the fraud, was admitted in the answer given by Pius VI., in 1789, to the demands of the German archbishops.
Ok! So here we are near 50 posts and all we have is that those documents are indeed forgeries and the RCC still used them. Are any of us surprised?
Don’t look at me.
I read your posts on this thread, you appear to have made an honest attempt to answer the assertion of this thread, rather than attacking the ex-nun. You may be an honest lady yourself, but your post, however, amounts to a cover-up for a liar, the Pope during the decretals. He lied according to what one Bible handbook I have says:
Whether Nicolas [Nicolas !, 858-867, Pope during the Pseudo-Ididorian Decretals, first Pope to wear a crown] knew them to be forgeries, at least HE LIED (my caps) in stating that they had been kept in the archives of the Roman Church from ancient times. They served their purpose in stamping the claims of the Medieval Priesthood with the authority of antiquity.
The Papacy which was the growth of several centuries, was made to appear as something complete and unchangeable from the very beginning. The object was to ante-date by five centuries the Pope’s temporal power. It strengthened the Papacy more than any other agency, and formed to a large extent the basis of the canon law of the Roman Church.