Irenaeus on the Roman Church

18 03 2007

Sed quoniam ualde longum est in hoc tali uolumine omnium Ecclesiarum enumerare successions, maximae et antiquissimae et omnibus cognitae, a gloriosissimis duobus apostolis Petro et Paulo Romae fundate et constitutae Ecclesiae, eam quam habet ab apostolis traditionem et adnuntiatem hominibus fidem per successions episcoporum peruenientem usque ad nos indicantes, confundimus omnes eos qui quoquo modo uel per sibiplacentiam uel uanam gloriam uel per caecitatem et sententiam malam, praeterquam oportet colligunt: ad hanc enim Ecclesiam propter potentiorem principalitatem necesse est omnem conuenire Ecclesiam, hoc est eos qui sunt undique fideles, in qua semper ab his qui sunt undique conseruata est ea quae est ab apostolis traditio. (Adv. Haer. 3.3.2.)

‘Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successors of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every church should agree with this church, on account of its pre-eminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere’ (3.2), W.H. Rambaut, trans., The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol.1, pp. 415-16.

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