Who Holds the Keys? (Pope or Prophet)

Opening Statement
by Steve Clifford - Representing the
One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church's Teaching
on "Apostolic Succession"

Contents:
Why the Catholic Church?
  A Visible Church
  The Church is to be Perpetuated
  The Bible is a Catholic Book
  The Bible Teaches Apostolic Succession
  Early Church Fathers
  Summary

The Apostles failed in their mission to preach the Gospel to the whole world. They neglected to properly appoint their successors. When the last Apostle died, the keys of the kingdom were lost from the earth. The so-called Christian Church was no longer the Lord's Church. A new organization, a "great and abominable church," came into existence. This wicked church founded by the devil became known as the "Catholic Church". In her corruption, she took away many plain and precious parts of the gospel from the Bible. It remained an apostate church until the keys of the kingdom were once again restored to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

As a fifth-generation Utah Mormon, I believed this sequence of events was true and therefore the LDS church was the only true church on earth. It wasn't until I was forty-three years old that I started to question whether or not the "Total Apostasy" actually happened. My original intention was to prove that the Catholic Church was the "great and abominable church" I had been taught about as a young Mormon. However, God's intention was to lead me to the fullness of the truth in the Catholic Church.

A few years ago Patrick Madrid, formerly of Catholic Answers, Inc., and currently the Editor-in-Chief of Envoy Magazine, was involved in a series of taped debates with two representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I listened to these debates very carefully, trying to find the weakness in the Catholic arguments and the strength in the Mormon position. What I discovered was that the overwhelming evidence available supports the Catholic Church's claim of being the one holy catholic and apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ upon the Rock of Peter. I searched through books, tapes, documents, and other resource material looking for the truth about the early Christian church. I could not find any solid evidence for the "Total Apostasy" theory of Mormonism. I was forced to conclude that the Catholic Church's claim to "Apostolic Succession" was the only plausible alternative. I credit the efforts of Patrick Madrid, along with other experts in the field of early Christian and early Mormon history, with providing the facts from which I could decide for myself which of the two positions, "Total Apostasy" or "Apostolic Succession", was historically and Biblically correct. Much of the information contained in this opening statement is derived from the outstanding arguments presented by Patrick Madrid in these two unique taped debates with LDS officials.

Why the Catholic Church?

The Catholic Church can trace her line of authority through an unbroken chain of succession all the way from Peter, the rock upon which Jesus founded His Church, down to the current Vicar of Christ, Pope John Paul II. In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church, the Apostles left bishops as their successors. The Apostles gave the bishops their own position of teaching authority. We know from inspired Scripture that the apostolic preaching was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time. We call it "Apostolic Succession" because the validly ordained bishops in the Catholic Church derive their authority through a direct line of succession passed down to them from the Twelve Apostles.

A Visible Church

The Lord Jesus Christ commissioned the Church as a visible shining light to the world until the end of time (Matthew 5:14-16). He promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against her (Matthew 16:18; Matthew 28:18-20). He made the Church in order to exercise her ministry as a beacon to the world, a holy city, and a visible symbol and working sacramental presence of Christ in the world (Ephesians 3:9-12). Jesus Christ established His visible Church on earth through Peter and the Twelve Apostles. The Catholic Church is that visible Church, the Body of Christ. In Acts 22:7, Jesus said to Paul on the road to Damascus, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" In the context of this passage, was Paul persecuting Jesus, or was he persecuting the members of His Mystical Body, the Church? I submit that Jesus is speaking here of the persecution of His Church. He is protecting His Church, just as He promised He would do until the end of time.

The Church is to be Perpetuated

That there would be successors to Peter and the other Apostles is alluded to in the parables of Jesus. Robert A. Sungenis, after returning to the Catholic Church from Evangelical Protestantism, had this to say about the parables and apostolic succession:

    "Along with all the direct indications in the New Testament that the succession of Peter was divinely mandated and practiced in the early Church, there are more subtle inferences to the common understanding and practice of succession. In various parables of Jesus, for example, one will notice that there is a consistent theme which depicts the wealthy land-owner who goes off on a long journey and leaves the care of his property to his trusted servant or servants (Matthew 25:14-30; Matthew 22:1-3; Matthew 21:33-41; Matthew 18:23-25; Luke 19:11-26; Luke 20:9-19). Though in the spiritual lesson these parables are targeted toward convicting individuals of their God-given responsibilities, this particular aspect is not of interest here. Rather, with regard to the concept of succession our interest lies in the ancient motif utilized in these parables in which the sovereign places temporary control of his kingdom in the hands of a regent. The appearance of this motif highlights the common understanding in biblical times that positions of office and authority are not left vacant upon the temporary departure of the sovereign. According to historical documents, the regent to whom power is transferred assumes the full authority of the sovereign while he is away. If the regent is incapacitated for any reason, the authority is transferred to a vice-regent until the sovereign returns. Upon his arrival, the sovereign once again assumes power and begins making his own decisions to govern his kingdom, not the least of which is judging the performance and conduct of his regent or vice-regents. In some Old Testament applications of this motif, the regent rules alongside of but subordinate to the sovereign (cf., Genesis 41:41; Daniel 6:3), or, takes office upon the death of his predecessor (Deuteronomy 34:9; 2 Timothy 1:6-7; 2 Samuel 2:7; 1 Kings 2:15). Hence, the concept that Peter and his successors act as regents and/or vice-regents, respectively, assuming full and uncontestable authority over the kingdom of God (Matthew 16:19) until Christ, the Sovereign, returns, stems, in part, from a common understanding of the transfer of office and authority in ancient times and which was practiced immediately in the early centuries of the Church." Robert A. Sungenis, "The Succession Motif in the Landowner/Servant Parables," letter to authors, February 1994. 1

In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus establishes his authority by stating that He has been given all power in heaven and in earth, not just some power, but ALL power. He then gives the Apostles the commission to go teach all the nations, not just some of the nations, but ALL the nations. Finally, He promises that He will be with them always, even unto the end of the world, not just until they die, but ALWAYS. He knew that they would not be on the earth until the end of time, so His promise also applies to their successors. Otherwise He would be a liar. (See also Ephesians 3:10-12)

In Matthew 19:28 and Luke 22:28-32, Jesus speaks of the twelve thrones in His kingdom which are prepared for the twelve to sit in judgement on the twelve tribes of Israel. J. Du Pont, in interpreting these verses, linked the eschatological judgment (by the Apostles sitting on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel) with the function of the successors of the bishops (episkopous) in the earthly realm:

    "Let us mention here an old explanation that a recent study has once again given force to (A. Geuillet, in 1949, and P. Benoit in The Jerusalem Bible, 1961): The twelve tribes of Israel designate the spiritual Israel, the Christian community, because the Twelve did not hesitate to link themselves with Jesus against the Israel of the flesh, they would reign with Him over the spiritual Israel...And it is not necessary to limit this promise to life in this world: The Apostles would govern - with Christ - the new world inaugurated by the Resurrection and Pentecost; they would begin to do so in this life, and they would continue to do so in the hereafter. Today still, St. Peter and St. Paul, all the Apostles and, we might add, all those who through the course of the centuries have fulfilled the same function continue to reign over the Church." J. Du Pont, "Le logion des douze trones," [trans Bernadeane Carr, S.T.L., 7/15/93], Biblica 45 (1962): 370. 2

    "Death did not permit the Twelve to achieve an earthly mission, which has to be extended to the entire world. It is necessary, in effect, that the Scriptures be fulfilled which say that 'the Christ suffered, and having been raised the first from among the dead, he announced the light to the People (Jews) and the Nations (pagans).' (Acts 26:23) The Twelve thus would have 'continuers,' i.e., heirs of their responsibility to evangelize the earth. We must add: Responsible in solidarity with the Apostles. For they participate in a mission which pertains properly speaking to Christ. He is the one whom God charged to announce the light to the people and the Nations. Established at the time of the evangelization of Galilee, the principle of a collegial association in this mission was confirmed by the promise of a collegial association of the twelve at the last judgment. It would not be normal to suppose that the principle of collegial association was not to be maintained in the interval. Those who are supposed to pursue this earthly task of the Apostles bear responsibility in solidarity with them.

    "These reflections show quite clearly the concrete impact and validity of the logion of the thrones, at this time when the Catholic Church has endeavored to emphasize the doctrine of episcopal collegiality." J. Du Pont, "Le logion des douze trones," [trans. Bernadeane Carr, S.T.L., 7/15/93], Biblica 45 (1962), 389. 3

The Bible is a Catholic Book

The New Testament was written, copied, and collected by Catholic Christians. These inspired writings of Catholic Apostles and Bishops were added to the Jewish Old Testament (Septuagint) to form the Bible as we know it today. The official canon of the books of the Bible was authoritatively determined by the Catholic Church in the fourth century (Catholic Councils of Hippo, 393 A.D., and Carthage, 397 A.D.). The Bible is a Catholic book, compiled and protected by the Catholic Church. A simple, undeniable fact is that the Catholic Church and the Christian Faith existed before the Bible did. Once the Catholic Councils of Hippo and Carthage had defined the canon of Scripture, the list was sent to Rome for the confirmation of the Roman Pontiff. Throughout history the Catholic Church has zealously and fearlessly protected the Bible from corruption and contempt. It is the same inspired text today as it was in the first century when it was written. The Catholic Bible today consists of the same books that it did in the fourth century when the list of inspired Scripture was first determined by the Catholic Church.

The Bible Teaches Apostolic Succession

The integrity of the Church was preserved throughout the ages through "Apostolic Succession". The Catholic Church teaches that there was never a break in that integrity (CCC 860-862).

Apostolic succession was first demonstrated in Acts 1:20-26 when Matthias was chosen to replace Judas. In Matthew 16:19 we read that Peter is given the keys of the kingdom of heaven. In Matthew 18:18, Jesus gives the Apostles the power to bind and loose. In John 20:23, He gives the Apostles the power to forgive sins. Peter is also made chief shepherd of the Church with the authority to govern in the name of Christ (John 21:15-17).

The Apostles did not neglect to pass this power on to their successors as the infant Church is growing. In 1 Timothy 4:14 Paul counsels Timothy on the importance of the laying on of hands. This gesture was used in the Old Testament to signify the transmission of authority from Moses to Joshua. Paul tells him that it is a special gift not to be neglected. In 1 Timothy 5:22, Paul warns that these special gifts are not to be given lightly to others and that Timothy should not bestow the imposition of hands too readily.

Early Church Fathers

In addition to Holy Scripture, we also need to examine the writings of the very earliest Christian believers. We must carefully study their writings to find out what the original members of the Christian Church taught and believed. Many of these early Christian writers were taught the Gospel directly from one of the Twelve Apostles. As such, they are regarded as the immediate successors to the work of the Apostles and closest in history to the truth taught by Jesus Christ. They are sometimes called the Early Church Fathers, the Fathers of the Church, or simply the Apostolic Fathers. The Catholic Church considers the Early Church Fathers to be the successors of the Apostles. Their writings are viewed as authoritative because they are the closest source to the teachings and traditions of the Apostles. These first Catholic bishops did not teach Protestant doctrines, Mormon doctrines, or any other doctrines but the Catholic Christian doctrines they received from the Apostles!

Ignatius of Antioch was a disciple of John the Beloved. He was taught the truth, brought into the Christian Church, and ordained into the ministry by the Apostle John himself. In his Letter to the Smyrnaeans written around A.D. 110, Ignatius of Antioch teaches about the succession of bishops and the importance of following the teachings of the bishops and priests. He talks about the Eucharist being the true flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, unlike the modern Protestant or Mormon understanding of a sacramental symbol. He teaches that Jesus Christ is God incarnate. Ignatius of Antioch is the first one that we know of who calls the Church "Catholic". It is especially interesting that it is a man of Antioch who first writes the term Catholic Church. It was also at Antioch that the followers of Jesus were first called Christians in the Bible (Acts 11:26).

Clement of Rome was a disciple of Peter. He was the fourth Bishop of Rome, which makes him the fourth Pope of the Catholic Church. His Letter to the Corinthians was written around A.D. 80. Clement was not counted as one of the Apostles. However, his authority as the Bishop of Rome was recognized by the other bishops as being unique. He instructs the Church at Corinth about the importance of confession to a priest (presbyter). He writes about the truth that there is only one God. He speaks about how there would be strife for the office of bishop and that only those who are approved by the consent of the Church are to be appointed to the office. He tells the Church in Corinth that when bishops die, others shall succeed to their ministry. He also talks about the primacy of the Roman Church. Even though the Apostle John was still alive at the time that Clement wrote this letter, the Church in Corinth still relied on the Bishop of Rome for answers to their concerns.

Polycarp, the Bishop of Smyrna, was also a disciple of the Apostle John. In his Letter to the Philippians, written around A.D. 135, Polycarp writes about the duties of the deacons and priests, the office of bishop, and the fact that there is only one God. In the Encyclical Epistle of the Church at Smyrna Concerning the Martyrdom of the Holy Polycarp, written around A.D. 155/157, the author uses the term Catholic Church to describe the Church that Polycarp belonged to.

The Early Church Fathers received the truth of these doctrines directly from the Apostles. It doesn't make sense that these men would be willing to lay down their lives for their beliefs if it was anything other than the absolute truth. All of these men suffered horrible martyr's deaths for their faith because they knew it was the truth passed on to them from the Apostles.

Summary

The Church that we find in the New Testament is the same Church that is described in the first and second century writings of the Early Church Fathers. If there was a "Total Apostasy" in the early Church, then we run into the problem of "historical silence". Nowhere in the writings of the Early Church Fathers do we find any evidence of a "Total Apostasy" being defended against. Surely they would have fought valiantly under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to preserve the remnant Church from being prevailed upon by the "Gates of Hell". All Biblical and historical evidence available clearly supports the Catholic Church's position of "Apostolic Succession".

The two choices are quite simple. Either there was a "Total Apostasy" in the early Christian Church and the Gospel was lost from the earth for hundreds of years until it was restored to the Prophet Joseph Smith; or the Christian Church survived for almost 2,000 years through "Apostolic Succession" and the Ancient Church is in fact the same Catholic Church that we see today. If we accept the notion that a "Total Apostasy" happened, then we must conclude that Jesus Christ founded what would eventually become an apostate church. If, on the other hand, we accept that the original Deposit of Faith was carefully handed down to us through "Apostolic Succession", then we must conclude that Jesus Christ kept His promises, that His Church survived, and that it will continue to proclaim the fullness of truth until the end of time.

The LDS Church and the Catholic Church both claim to be the one true church, but they can't possibly both be right. I believe the one holy catholic and apostolic Church is the true Church that has been proclaiming the fullness of Christianity for almost 2,000 years, "The Church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of truth." (1 Timothy 3:15)

 




All Bible references are taken from the
Revised Standard Version (RSV) - Catholic Edition


1

Scott Butler, Norman Dahlgren, David Hess, Jesus, Peter & the Keys. A Scriptural Handbook on the Papacy, (Santa Barbara, CA: Queenship Publishing Company, 1996), pp. 171-172.


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2

Scott Butler, Norman Dahlgren, David Hess, Jesus, Peter & the Keys. A Scriptural Handbook on the Papacy, (Santa Barbara, CA: Queenship Publishing Company, 1996), p. 170.


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3

Scott Butler, Norman Dahlgren, David Hess, Jesus, Peter & the Keys. A Scriptural Handbook on the Papacy, (Santa Barbara, CA: Queenship Publishing Company, 1996), pp. 170-171.


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(Taped Debates)

The following audio tapes are available through Catholic Answers, Inc.

A Catholic - Mormon Dialogue
Patrick Madrid (RCC) and Gary Coleman (LDS)
Description: As far as we know, the first recorded public exchange between a Catholic apologist and an apologist from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
(2-tape set) A0061 $9.95

Who Holds the Keys: Pope or Prophet?
A Catholic/Mormon Dialogue between Patrick Madrid (RCC) and Frank Bradshaw (LDS)
Description: Is the Book of Mormon, written by Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, historically reliable - or should we trust the Catholic Church?
(2-tape set) A0058 $9.95

To order these tapes, point your browser to Catholic Answers Online Catalogue or call toll-free 1-888-291-8000 (credit card orders only). You can also write to Catholic Answers at P.O. Box 17490, San Diego, CA 92177.


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(Matthew 5:14-16)

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."


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(Matthew 16:18)

"And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it."


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(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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."


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(Ephesians 3:9-12)

"and to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose which he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confidence of access through our faith in him."


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(Matthew 25:14-30)

"For it will be as when a man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them; and he made five talents more. So also, he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.' And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.' He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.' But his master answered him, 'You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.'


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(Matthew 22:1-3)

And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast; but they would not come."


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(Matthew 21:33-41)

"Hear another parable. There was a householder who planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country. When the season of fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants, to get his fruit; and the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first; and they did the same to them. Afterward he sent his son to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, 'This is the heir; come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.' And they took him and cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?" They said to him, "He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons."


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(Matthew 18:23-25)

"Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made."


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(Luke 19:11-26)

As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. He said therefore, "A nobleman went into a far country to receive a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten pounds, and said to them, 'Trade with these till I come.' But his citizens hated him and sent an embassy after him, saying, 'We do not want this man to reign over us.' When he returned, having received the kingdom, he commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by trading. The first came before him, saying, 'Lord, your pound has made ten pounds more.' And he said to him, 'Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.' And the second came, saying, 'Lord, your pound has made five pounds.' And he said to him, 'And you are to be over five cities.' Then another came, saying, 'Lord, here is your pound, which I kept laid away in a napkin; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man; you take up what you did not lay down, and reap what you did not sow.' He said to him, 'I will condemn you out of your own mouth, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking up what I did not lay down and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money into the bank, and at my coming I should have collected it with interest?' And he said to those who stood by, 'Take the pound from him, and give it to him who has the ten pounds.' (And they said to him, 'Lord, he has ten pounds!') 'I tell you, that to every one who has will more be given; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away."


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(Luke 20:9-19)

And he began to tell the people this parable: "A man planted a vineyard, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country for a long while. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, that they should give him some of the fruit of the vineyard; but the tenants beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent another servant; him also they beat and treated shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third; this one they wounded and cast out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, 'What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; it may be they will respect him.' But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, 'This is the heir; let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.' And they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants, and give the vineyard to others." When they heard this, they said, "God forbid!" But he looked at them and said, "What then is this that is written: 'The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner'? Every one who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but when it falls on any one it will crush him." The scribes and the chief priests tried to lay hands on him at that very hour, but they feared the people; for they perceived that he had told this parable against them.


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(Genesis 41:41)

And Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Behold, I have set you over all the land of Egypt."


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(Daniel 6:3)

Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other presidents and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.


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(Deuteronomy 34:9)

And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands upon him; so the people of Israel obeyed him, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses.


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(2 Timothy 1:6-7)

Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.


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(2 Samuel 2:7)

"Now therefore let your hands be strong, and be valiant; for Saul your lord is dead, and the house of Judah has anointed me king over them."


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(1 Kings 2:15)

He said, "You know that the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel fully expected me to reign; however the kingdom has turned about and become my brother's, for it was his from the LORD."


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(Matthew 16:19)

"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."


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(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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."


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(Ephesians 3:10-12)

...that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose which he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confidence of access through our faith in him.


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(Matthew 19:28)

Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."


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(Luke 22:28-32)

"You are those who have continued with me in my trials; and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren."


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(Acts 26:23)

"...that the Christ must suffer, and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to the people and to the Gentiles."


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(Apostolic Succession)

The CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA describes "Apostolic Succession" as follows:

The relation of validly ordained bishops to the Apostles is designated by the term "apostolic succession." Christ entrusted the continuation of His ministry to the Apostles, who in turn became the founders and leaders of the first communities of Christ's followers. In dependence on the Apostles, and in recognition of their special bond with Christ, the new communities of Christians were authorized to conduct the ministries of teaching, sanctifying and guiding the Church. The prime responsibility for these ministries was vested in men designated by the Apostles and subsequently called bishops. These first bishops in turn selected other bishops, and so on. The significance of this practice became evident in the second century in the course of disputes with Gnostic heretics who claimed to be in possession of a secret message whose transmission bypassed the successors of the Apostles. As a result of these disputes, the importance of the connection of the bishops with the Apostles - in many cases an actually traceable lineage - was articulated as the foundation for the authenticity and unity of the Faith proclaimed in the communities of the historic mainstream. The Christian doctrine affirming the church-forming significance of the connection of the bishops with the Apostles is referred to as the "apostolic succession." The bishops are those leaders to whom the Apostles entrusted the commission which they received from Christ Himself. In this way, the Church of post-Apostolic times maintains its continuity in faith with the community around Christ Himself. This continuity is not so much a matter of tracing the apostolic "pedigree" of every local Ordinary, but consists in a relationship of incorporation into the college of bishops which, as a whole, possesses the apostolic commission.

Reverend Peter M.J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.L. Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Encyclopedia. Copyright © 1994, Our Sunday Visitor.


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(Catechism of the Catholic Church, para 860-862)

860 In the office of the Apostles there is one aspect that cannot be transmitted: to be the chosen witnesses of the Lord's Resurrection and so the foundation stones of the Church. But their office also has a permanent aspect. Christ promised to remain with them always. The divine mission entrusted by Jesus to them "will continue to the end of time, since the Gospel they handed on is the lasting source of all life for the Church. Therefore, ... the Apostles took care to appoint successors." (Lumen gentium 20; cf. Matthew 28:20)

The bishops - successors of the Apostles

861 "In order that the mission entrusted to them might be continued after their death, [the Apostles] consigned, by will and testament, as it were, to their immediate collaborators the duty of completing and consolidating the work they had begun, urging them to tend to the whole flock, in which the Holy Spirit had appointed them to shepherd the Church of God. They accordingly designated such men and then made the ruling that likewise on their death other proven men should take over their ministry." (Lumen gentium 20; cf. Acts 20:28; St. Clement of Rome, Ad Cor. 42, 44: Patrologia Graeca, (Paris, 1857-1866), J.P. Migne, ed.)

862 "Just as the office which the Lord confided to Peter alone, as first of the Apostles, destined to be transmitted to his successors, is a permanent one, so also endures the office, which the Apostles received, of shepherding the Church, a charge destined to be exercised without interruption by the sacred order of bishops." (Lumen gentium 20 para 2) Hence the Church teaches that "the bishops have by divine institution taken the place of the Apostles as pastors of the Church, in such wise that whoever listens to them is listening to Christ and whoever despises them despises Christ and him who sent Christ." (Lumen gentium 20 para 2)


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(Acts 1:20-26)

"For it is written in the book of Psalms, 'Let his habitation become desolate, and let there be no one to live in it'; and 'His office let another take.' So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us -- one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection." And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsab'bas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthi'as. And they prayed and said, "Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show which one of these two thou hast chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside, to go to his own place." And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthi'as; and he was enrolled with the eleven Apostles.


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(Matthew 18:18)

"Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."


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(John 20:23)

"If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."


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(John 21:15-17)

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." A second time he said to him, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep."


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(Matthew 16:19)

"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."


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(1 Timothy 4:14)

Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the council of elders laid their hands upon you.


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(1 Timothy 5:22)

Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor participate in another man's sins; keep yourself pure.


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(Ignatius of Antioch)

Epistle to the Smyraeans (Short Version)
(Click link to New Advent Catholic Supersite for full text)

Epistle to the Smyraeans (Long Version)
(Click link to New Advent Catholic Supersite for full text)


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(Acts 11:26)

...and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church, and taught a large company of people; and in Antioch the disciples were for the first time called Christians.


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(Clement of Rome)

FIRST EPISTLE - Letter to the Corinthians
(Click link to New Advent Catholic Supersite for full text)

THE SECOND EPISTLE OF CLEMENT
(Click link to New Advent Catholic Supersite for full text)


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(Polycarp)

Epistle to the Philippians
(Click link to New Advent Catholic Supersite for full text)

The Martyrdom of Polycarp
(Click link to New Advent Catholic Supersite for full text)


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(1 Timothy 3:15)

...if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.


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