Catholic Scholars agree there was discontinuity

The Catholic historian Klaus Schatz, in his work on papal primacy, affirms that Catholic and non-Catholic Scholars agree that:
The further question whether there was any notion of an enduring office beyond Peter's lifetime, if posed in purely historical terms, should probably be answered in the negative. That is, if we ask whether the historical Jesus, in commissioning Peter, expected him to have successors, or whether the author of the Gospel of Matthew, writing after Peter's death, was aware that Peter and his commission survived in the leaders of the Roman community who succeeded him, the answer in both cases is probably "no."...

If we ask in addition whether the primitive Church was aware, after Peter's death, that his authority had passed to the next bishop of Rome, or in other words that the head of the community at Rome was now the successor of Peter, the Church's rock and hence the subject of the promise in Matthew 16:18-19, the question, put in those terms, must certainly be given a negative answer....

If one had asked a Christian in the year 100, 200, or even 300 whether the bishop of Rome was the head of all Christians, or whether there was a supreme bishop over all the other bishops and having the last word in questions affecting the whole Church, he or she would certainly have said no.
Following on my earlier post from Peter Lampe, that "There was no "bishop" in Rome for nearly the first 200 years of the church’s existence," it should be clear that this statement is considered by most of the people who study this issue, to be a fairly accurate one.

Now, growing up Catholic, I was taught that there was a line of popes, extending back to Peter, and that this was the reason why the Catholic Church was the "one true Church." Even very recently, such figures as the theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar and Archbishop Donald Wuerl speak of "Pope Clement" or "Pope St. Clement" as if this were a historical certainty.

Perhaps Balthasar can be excused for this anachronism in his 1974 work. He may not have been aware of work done by individuals such as Lampe and Schatz. However, for Bishop Wuerl, writing an educational work and citing "Pope Saint Clement of Rome" in his 2001 catechism "The Catholic Way," without so much as a hint of the recent (Catholic) historical studies which would "certainly" deny the existence of a "Pope Saint Clement," goes beyond disingenuity into actual dishonesty.

This dishonesty extends to what is known as "Catholic theology," which has learned not to rely on history in any meaningful way. I'll have more to say about this in future entries.

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