Miller Dissertation, highlighted quotes, for reference The Divine Right of the Papacy In Recent Ecumenical Theology Michael Miller 1979- A Rosetta Stone for Teutonic Theology


> Chapter 8 pg 164 <<

The present crisis of the papacy is one of legitimation.” Kasper, “Dienst an der Einheit” 83 footnote 1

Ius Divinium vs ius Humanum

Irreversible vs reversible papacy

Immutable vs mutable papacy

Petrine office vs Petrine ministry

4 major Parts each part subdivided into chapters

Part I Historical & Theological Overview on 3 related questions: the meaning of ius divinium, the origin and permanence of the papacy, the conciliar interpretation of papal primacy as iure divino.

Part II Lutheran & Anglican Views

Part III Contemporary Catholic Views on Ius divnium especially when predicated to the papacy

Part IV Two recent ecumenical dialogues considered: Lutheran & Catholic and Anglican & Roman. Clarification of the term ius divinum to the papacy and change of terminology recommended

Leo the Great (464 AD)

Ius divinum= divine right referring to Church structure = institutio divina pg 21

Roman primacy=papal primacy=papacy pg 21

Pope Leo the Great 464 AD based his ‘theory’ papal primacy on Scripture pg 8

Along with the Council of Chalcedon

Footnote #4 pg 8 Notes pre-Nicene writers Tertullian, Origen, Pope Stephen I (257) bishop of Rome cathedra Petri

Leo= As Peter’s haeres (heir) has the same rights, authority, and obligations as the one deceased.

Vicarius applied to the pope implied the identity and continuity of Peter’s office

> The pope enjoyed the same office as Peter, he took Peter’s place in his absence.

From heaven Peter continues to exercise a function in the Church, he not only prays as patron, but also governs through his haeres and vicarious the Pope pg 10, footnote 12

Papa=Petrus ipse= divine institution ex institutione divina [The pope is Peter himself ipse]

As a successor to Peter, he received from Christ all the Peter had “the bishop of Rome owed his care for the universal Church to divine institution”

Council of Chalcedon (451 AD) pg 11

In the early Church most important conciliar statement on Roman primacy canon 28 whose formulation and ratification provoked considerable controversy. Leo the Great did not ratify canon 28.

Canon 28 Leo made it clear that the Church was fundamentally structured according to political considerations but according to the will and institution of Christ pg 17

Middle Ages

Leo the Great teaching on theological justification from Roman primacy ex institutione divina decisive

Papa= petrus ipse justify papal primacy

The office that the Lord had conferred on Peter was inherited by his successors; the Roman bishops were in beato Petro” pg 17

Roman bishop’s identification with St. Peter, the Lord’s promises were also made to him as successor to the apostle. The pope held the same office and authority as St. peter had pg 18

Anslem of Lucca (1086 AD) “by the voice of the Lord himself the Roman Church received its primacy. Roman primacy did not originate from the apostles, nor from a conciliar or synodal decision. This view rejects an apostolic or synodal origin of the papacy. Pg 19

Ius divinum Roman primacy to be instituted by Christ himself unlike Canon law which was founded by men for God pg 20

The Bible was the privileged source for establishing that an institution was of divine right. Pg 21

Council of Trent

Ius Divinum in spite of numerous reformers attacks on Roman primacy, the council published no decree restating the Catholic position pg 24

Cajetan (1534 AD)

Systematic defense of divine right of the papacy; it was willed by God and made known by the revelation of Christ. Pope’s authority founded on divine revelation , not on canonical grounds: “”the authority of the pope is immediately from God and revealed in Sacred Scriptures.”Pg 30-31

Cajetan argument for ius divinum of succession perpetuitas linked Jn 21:17 & Mt 28:20 long as sheep last, until end of the world, so must the shepherd to whom the Lord as entrusted their care. Perpetuitas still rested on the Lord’s words indirectly. Pg 31

Peter’s death at Rome, divinely ordered by Christ and confirmed by Quo Vadis legend, holy doctors & councils attested to this city

Stop Chapter 2 pg 36

Vatican I Pastor Aeternus (1870) summed up Western tradition

Pastor Aeternus affirmed two key points against errors.

  1. Primacy of jurisdiction over the whole Church of God has been promised and conferred immediately and directly on blessed Peter by Christ the Lord.” Pg 37

> Peter alone had this jurisdiction. It is a juridical act. It is an office

> Peter was given this primacy of jurisdiction by Christ alone, not through the hands of anyone else, not through the apostles, or the Church writ large. This is not a synodal process.

> Peter received the office immediately and directly. No other act than Peter’s acceptance was needed. A ceremony of oath taking administered by the apostles is not required.

These last two points give evidence to a divine right, ius divinum. Jn 1:42, Mt 16:18-19, Jn 21:15-17 Scriptures used to support these conclusions.

The jurisdiction of the papacy can be described as monarchial in character. Pg 39

  1. Petrine Succession

PA, “Now, what Christ the Lord, supreme shepherd and watchful guardian of the flock, established in the person of the blessed apostle Peter for the perpetual safety and everlasting good of the Church must, by the will of the same, endure without interruption in the Church which was founded on the rock and which will remain firm until the end of the world.”

> whatever Christ instituted in beato Petro, the Petrine ministry, must remain in the Church. The succession of the papacy is iure divino. This is contra to all Protestants, Anglicans, and schismatics positions. Pg 42

> Explicit Scripture texts not cited rather what Christ established for man’s salvation must endure: the age of the Church and of the Petrine ministry are coextensive. Pg 43

> True scripture exegesis can be shown how the institution of the prime minister in the reign of King David mirrors the role of Peter. Archaeological research at the service of authentic Faith supports the perennial teaching of a papacy enduring until the return of the King.

> the term ministry is not defined. A better term of office or munus is suggested. Office or munus indicates a juridical appointment. Ministry points to the duties of the office holder. Office is of divine right. Tasks can be varied.

> The council did not consider that explicit Gospel proof was necessary for the Church to teach that a given practice was of divine right. This lack is not one of deficiency but one of countering sola Scriptura adherents.

> PA summary 1. Peter given true and proper jurisdiction over the whole Church directly and immediately by the Lord Jesus Christ himself. 2. There are perpetual successors to Peter’s primacy “according to the institution of Christ the Lord himself or by divine right”. 3. The Roman pontiff legitimately succeeds to the primacy of St. Peter. Strictly speaking, this romanitas,  is not of divine right. Pg 50

Pg 58 Ius Divinum vs ius Humanum Divine Right vs Human Right human factors ignored in iure divino either/or

Pg 61 if the institution changed over time>> iure humano

If institution did not change over time>> iure divino

Pg 62 de facto change in Church structures, theory of knowledge, an institution of divine right had not changed, man’s knowledge or practice changed

Pg 65 Summary & Conclusion

Pastor Aeternus foundation of papacy until modern theologians (Vat II)

Christ conferred a primacy directly and immediately upon Peter. No distinction between historical Jesus and Risen Lord. Christ’s will for permanency of papacy deduced from permanence of the Church. Not an accident in history or will of community, but the revealed will of Christ. Rome as the See did not have the same theological weight as the institution (explicit) and perpetuity of the papacy (implicit).

Pg 66 An institution of divine right could not be abolished, reversed, by the Church.

pg 69

Part II Lutheran and Anglican Thought

Ends pg 134 Chapter 7

Part III Contemporary Catholic Thought

Chap 7 pg 137 Interpretation of Ius Divinum in Contemporary Catholic Theology

“Scripture scholars aware of the formative role of the early Christian community in the composition of the New Testament, have made it increasingly difficult to use the classical texts cited as proofs that a given institution was founded by the historical Jesus.

>>Dear God, save us from such scholars, guard your flock from such ravenous wolves and hirelings. Come quickly.

“Some theologians, including Gotthold Hasenhuttl and Hans Kung, insist that only what was directly and immediately instituted by Christ exists iure divino. All later structures are iure humano, and hence 137

Pg 138 “In order to understand what is meant when contemporary theologians describe the origin of an institution iure divino, two factors should be borne in mind: the importance attributed to institution by Christ and to human factors; and the active presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church of the apostolic age.”

Karl-Heinz Ohlig more radical than Hasenhuttl and Kung, holds “because of the influence of historical and sociological factors at their origin, many institutions, among them the papacy and the episcopacy, can no longer be affirmed to be of divine right.” Pg 142

>> if it is not of divine right it can be changes, reversed, molded to the tastes of the day<<

Karl Rahner, a theologian whose reflections on ius divinum are among the most significant in contmeporiary theology has long maintained that the Church’s constitutional structure iure divino does not depend on an expressed historical word of Jesus at its foundation. Schillebeeckx reflects the opinion of the majority of contemporary Catholic theologians* when he concludes that taking account of the historical and sociological origin of an institution still allows it to be given ius dvinum 144

> Here is a very rare instance where I agree with Schillebeeckx and Rahner.<<

The unity of action of Christ and his Spirit is a fundamental conviction of theologians who interpret ius divinum broadly*.

The assistance of the Holy Spirit at the origin of an institution can ground a claim of divine right if the structure’s continuity with the will of Christ as revealed in the Scriptures can be affirmed in faith. Pg 145

> Does this not leave the faithful to rely on ‘experts’ to interpret what Christ meant as opposed to a direct understanding of Christ’s will themselves? The traditional approach explains the papacy straightforwardly. Modern theologians rely on the unstable ground of historical & sociological understanding. Not an improvement but a way to enslavement<<

The interrelation of divine right and human right in an institution has at its roots in the nature of revelation> God’ s will is revealed in human-historical form. He does not reveal himself in a series of abstract principles, but in concrete historical events.

> Ten Commandments, love your enemies, forgive those who wrong you, are abstract principles.

> Death on the Cross is a concrete historical event.

Temporal Considerations

Iure divino arising during the apostolic age is unique. Because it was an age of revelation, ecclesial structures which originated during this period were revealed. Rahner pg 152

Schillebeeckx notes the importance of the Holy Spirit within the apostolic community. In the apostolic age, the Holy Spirit completed the Church’s fundamental structure. Pg 153

Divine Right in the Post- Apostolic Age

Bernard Cooke “The Spirit of the Risen Christ works within human history ab itra, through secondary casuistry; he constantly sustains and creates the ministries necessary for the Church. As a result, it is reasonable to hold that institutions of divine right can emerge in any historical period. … The developments which occur in the contemporary Church have just as much right to be considered the work of the Spirit as those of the past.” Pg 154-155

> A slippery slope. If it can come into being today, what prevents it from being discarded tomorrow.

Irreversibility of an institution of iure divino pg 155

Pg 155 two main approaches to iure divino-

minority of theologians suggest that structures of divine right might be reversible

Majority of theologians insist that institutions of divine right are irreversible though they don’t all agree on the reason for that.

Reversibilist (funtionalists) theologians accept the radical historicity of man and the effect which modern historical consciousness has had on the way in which an institution’s irreversibility is understood. Pg 156

Rerversibilists reject the argument that once an institution has been shown to have been willed by Christ or the Spirit, it is therefore necessarily irreversible in the future. Pg 158

Neumann Divine right should be rethought as a more dynamic reality linked to the creative power of the Holy Spirit pg 159

Neumann acknowledges ius divinum pope receives jurisdiction ipsomet iure divino at the very moment he accepts election (canons109, 219) pg 160

Piet Schoonenberg Divine institution is the work of the Holy Spirit and the Risen Christ… The Spirit who shaped the apostolic Church can now introduce new ministries or abolish older ones according to the needs of the community, allow for possibility for iure divino to be reversed. Pg 161 [far left]

Haenhuttl [far left, Kung]

Schillebeeckx [far left Neumann]


Rahner irreversibility necessary dimension of an institution iure divino pg 166

Footnote 129 pg 168 The term ius divinum sounds archaic and its association with juridical and monarchial ideas is not well received by modern egalitarians and democrats.

Rahner pg 169 guidance of the HS in the apostolic ageprovide sufficient basis for attributing ius divinum to an institution

Kung & Hasenhuttl when human factors paly a significant role is shaping ecclesial structures, they can be only of human right and are therefore reversible. Pg 169

> contemporary Catholic theology, commonly held though not unanimous, ius divinum to a structure implies divine institution and usually irreversibility as well pg 169

Chapter 8 Contemporary Catholic Views on Papal Primacy Iure Divino pg 170

Kasper, “The present crisis of the papacy is one of legitimation.” Dienst an der Einheit 83

Hasenhuttl the Roman primacy as an ecclesial institution is of human origin. The papacy was created by men for men. Cannot be given a theological justification.

Pg 172

Primacy of Pope Council of Florence, Vat I, Vat II, Lumen Gentium #18:2 Peter received his special commission directly and immediately from the Lord.

Rahner it is Catholic dogma that the ‘papacy belongs to the binding content of our faith itself’ pg 175

Scriptural Foundation

Kung & Ohlig hold there is no scriptural basis for papal primacy as it is now understood in the Church pg 176

Ohlig The Fathers (Vat I) wanted to define the papal primacy was an optimal structural element of the Church; it was not however, the only legitimate form of ecclesiastical government. Pg 178

Another way theologians deal with the difficulties raised by Vat I is to call its dogmatic status as an ecumenical council into question. Because the Council’s teaching was rejected by all non-Catholic churches, its reception was only partial; therefore, it cannot be considered as a true ecumenical council. Pg 178 Yikes

Furthermore, its decisions are not infallible; the theory of conciliar infallibility lacks sufficient historical and exegetical support. Pg 178

Kung & Ohlig no monarchial bishop at Rome in the first generations after death of St. Peter Rome did not have a monarchial episcopate until the mid-second century. Consequently there was no personal succession to Peter. The claim for perpetual succession by the Roman bishop to the primacy of Peter cannot be defended historically. Pg 181

Ius divinum opposed to human factors, make little or no attempt to situate these influences within a theological vision. Pg 182

pg 182 Chapter 8 Broad Interpretation

these theologians apply ius divinum to papal primacy there is no contradiction between this affirmation and their holding that historical and other human factors influenced its emergence.

Rome center of empire, emperor personification of empire

Rome community, bishop of Rome

Rome only apostolic church of the West, known for its charity, fidelity in times of persecution, preservation of authentic apostolic tradition (Irenaeus Adv haer. 3.3.2)

P&P both exercised ministry & both martyred & both had tombs venerated pg 185

Not only was papal primacy not recognized during this period, it was not even ‘there’ as earlier apologists had assumed.

Quite willingly they accept that for a time at the beginning of the Church there was no primatial office, because it was not yet needed to foster the unity of the episcopal college and the universal Church.

When the local churches ‘experienced a need for a center, the question of the primacy was opened; perhaps it would be better to say it was reopened.” McCue pg 187-188

The Petrine function was revived when it was needed to resolve the problems of unity that later arose in the Church. Dianich pg 188

Irreversibility of the Papacy

Majority of theologians affirm the irreversibility of the papacy, they hold that it is an essential element of the Church’s structure. Pg 190

Hasenhuttl (Ohlig) Just as there was a time in which the church had no pope, so this state can continue in the church for a long time, even for centuries, without calling into question its full ecclesial reality. Quite simply, the Church can do without the papacy. Pg 191

Kung iure humano The papacy is not a constitutive element of the Church’s fundamental charismatic structure. Pg 191

For these theologians (reversibilists) the Petrine function can be fulfilled by the episcopal college, a synod, or any number of structures designed for that purpose. Pg 192

For some theologians who use the term ius divinum denotes the institution is irreversible and immutable.

The difficulty presented by Vatican I is not its doctrinal affirmations, but its failure to specify the inherent limits in the primate’s authority. Tillard Pg 192

Theological, exegetical and historical studies all make use of a similar distinction in explaining why a revision in the exercise of primatial authority is possible.  Another way of making this same point is to distinguish between the Petrine ministry or function and the papacy. Pg 195

Dulles makes the same point as Rahner: “In theory, the Petrine function could be performed either by a single individual presiding over the whole Church or by some kind of committee board, synod, or parliament- possibly with a division of powers into juridical, legislative, and administrative and the like. It is not the monarchial dimension which is iure divino but the need for episcopal presence in every local church. Footnote 102 pg 196 Yuck, yuck, yuck

In ecumenical discussion, theologians often use his distinction between the Petrine function and the papacy, even though it is not free from ambiguity. Pg 196

Catholic theologians use of the Petrine function-papacy distinction is more focused on the possibility of change in the historical form of the papacy. Pg 196

Part IV Ecumenical Dialogue

Chapter 9 Lutherans & Anglicans pg 199?

Malta Report Lutherans

Chapter 10 Anglican-Catholic Dialogue pg 233

Part V Evaluation & Conclusion

Chap 11 Papal Primacy, Iure Divino:

Past, Present, and Future Perspectives

Most contemporary Catholic theologians prefer the term divine institution to iure divino pg 268

Human factors may have played a large role in shaping an institution, this fact does not exclude a structure from being considered iure divino. Pg 268

Most contemporary Catholic theologians hold that there must be a scriptural foundation for an institution of divine right, but such a foundation may be implied. Considerable attention is given to the apostolic community’s role at the origin of institutions held to be of divine right. Pg 269

Most contemporary theologians have abandoned strict separation of divine and human institutions. The complexity of the interrelationship cannot be easily separated, ius divinum is made concrete only by means of ius humanum; and divine revelation itself was in in human history. Pg 271

If an institution is held to be of divine right, does this mean that it is immutable, irreversible or necessary? Catholic theological tradition ius divinum associated with immutability pg 271

In saying that the papal primacy is irreversible, theologians do not mean that the papacy is immutable in all its forms, but rather that it cannot be abolished or so changed in its essential function in the Church could not be carried out. Vast majority theologians hold the papacy is a constitutive element of the Church and that it will last as long as the Church itself. Pg 275

For Catholics the distinction between the Petrine function and the papacy as it now exists serves aa different purpose. The value of the concept does not derive from the possibility of separating the Petrine ministry from the papacy, but from the opportunity it provides for considering changes in the way the pope fulfills the Petrine function. The distinction between the Petrine function and the papacy is that between the permanent nucleus that Christ instituted and its historical and changeable realizations. Pg 279




[The author reviews the discussion between Kasper and Ratzinger on the ontological priority of the universal Church, and then sum- marizes several studies by Kasper on the papacy and episcopacy at Vatican I, on Aquinas’s teaching about the bishop’s ministry, and Vatican II’s teachings on the institution of the bishop’s office, as well as the pastoral, collegial, and sacramental character of that office. Finally, he touches on Kasper’s theological convictions regarding international synods of bishops, episcopal conferences, the election of bishops, and the personal responsibility of the bishop for the leadership in his local church.]

Kasper does not enter into the long discussion, preconciliar, conciliar, and postconciliar on the importance of involving bishops in the governance of the universal Church. But the discussion is both an inner-Catholic ques- tion and an ecumenical imperative. In his encyclical Ut unum sint (no. 96), John Paul II issued a call for practical suggestions on how the Petrine ministry might be exercised. “Such a dialogue,” Kasper suggests, “would make sense only if it led to a new historical formation of the office of Peter. A new form would be similar to that which the office of Peter had in the first thousand years, but in a form appropriate to the differences in his- torical periods and the relationships of the various churches.”51 This ap- pears to point to an exercise of the Petrine function which is more partici- patory in style, involving the bishops of the world.

Kasper could call on a number of historical studies to support the con- tention that the Petrine office has historically experienced a number of epochal transformations, and none of its historical forms is identical with the office, including the one that obtains today. “One must indeed say that in the present form of its exercise, the Petrine ministry has far from com- pletely exhausted its ecumenical possibilities.”52 In any new form the es- sential nature of the Petrine office would have to remain unchanged. But the call for a new form needs to be understood in reference to Kasper’s reading of the development of Catholic ecclesiology, read through the eyes of Vatican I and II. He is obviously convinced that the Catholic sense of the Church demands a strong, even vigorous, papacy. Any new form issuing from Pope John Paul II’s call for help in rethinking the Petrine ministry would not mean a diminished Petrine role, but, on the contrary, as he said in a different context, “an even bigger role.”53 The new expression of the Petrine office would include a significant role for the whole episcopacy in the governance of the Church.

50 “Zur Theologie und Praxis” 42.

51 52 Ibid.



reading of the development of Catholic ecclesiology, read through the eyes of Vatican I and II. He is obviously convinced that the Catholic sense of the Church demands a strong, even vigorous, papacy. Any new form issuing from Pope John Paul II’s call for help in rethinking the Petrine ministry would not mean a diminished Petrine role, but, on the contrary, as he said in a different context, “an even bigger role.”53 The new expression of the Petrine office would include a significant role for the whole episcopacy in the governance of the Church.

Adding pdf Barnhardt’s Anti Pope Bergoglio

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In Canon Law, the papal office is called a munus in Canons 331, 332 §2, 333 and 749. And in Canon 145 §1, ecclesiastical office is referred to as a munus. Cf. Munus and Ministerium: A Textual Study of their usage in the Code of Canon Law of 1983, by Br. Alexis Bugnolo, transcript of paper from the Conference on the Renunciation of Pope Benedict, October 21, 2019, Rome, Italy: at

[1]   accessed May 12, 2020