Apostolic Succession & Tradition :: Catholic News Agency
Apostolic Succession & Tradition

"Through Our Lord Jesus Christ our Apostles knew that there would be strife over the office of episcopacy.  Accordingly, since they had obtained a perfect foreknowledge of this, they appointed those men already mentioned.  And they afterwards gave instructions that when those men would fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry.  Therefore, we are of the opinion that those appointed by the Apostles, or afterwards by other acclaimed men, with the consent of the whole church, and who have blamelessly served the flock of Christ in a humble, peaceable, and disinterested spirit, and have for a long time possessed the good opinion of all, cannot be justly dismissed from the ministry."  St. Clement Of Rome, "The Epistle Of Clement To The Corinthians," c. 96 A.D.


"When we refer them to that tradition which originates from the Apostles, which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the churches, they object to Tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but than even the Apostles."  St. Irenaeus, "Against All Heresies," c. 180 A.D.


"Therefore, it is within the power of all in every church who may wish to see the Truth to examine clearly the Tradition of the Apostles manifested throughout the whole world.  And we are in a position to reckon up those who were instituted bishops in the churches by the Apostles, and the succession of these men to our own times....  For if the Apostles had known hidden mysteries...they would have delivered them especially to those to whom they were also committing the churches themselves.  For they were desirous that these men should be very perfect and blameless in all things, whom also they were leaving behind as their successors, delivering up their own place of government to these men."  St. Irenaeus, "Against All Heresies," c. 180 A.D.


"In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical Tradition from the Apostles, and the preaching of the Truth, have come down to us.  And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same life-giving faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the Apostles until now, and handed down in truth."  St. Irenaeus, "Against All Heresies," c. 180 A.D.


"It is necessary to obey the presbyters who are in the Church - those who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the Apostles.  For those presbyters, together with the succession of the bishops, have received the certain gift of truth, according to the good pleasure of the Father.  But we should hold in suspicion others who depart from the primitive succession and assemble themselves together in any place whatsoever.  For they are either heretics or perverse minds, or else they are schismatics who are puffed up and self-pleasing....  Therefore, it behooves us to keep aloof from all such persons and to adhere to those who, as I have already observed, hold the doctrine of the Apostles."  St. Irenaeus, "Against All Heresies," c. 180 A.D.


"It behooves us to learn the Truth from those who possess that succession of the Church which is from the Apostles, and among whom exists that which is sound and blameless in conduct, as well as that which is unadulterated and incorrupt in speech...."  St. Irenaeus, "Against All Heresies," c. 180 A.D.


"No one will refute these heretics except the Holy Spirit bequeathed unto the Church, which the Apostles - having received in the first instance - have transmitted to those who have rightly believed.  But we, as being their successors and as participators in this grace, high priesthood, and office of teaching - as well as being reputed guardians of the Church - must not be found deficient in vigilance."  St. Hippolytus, "Refutation Of All Heresies," c. 225 A.D.


"He cannot be reckoned as a bishop who succeeds no one.  For he has despised the evangelical and Apostolic traditions, springing from himself.  For he who has not been ordained in the Church can neither have nor hold to the Church in any way....  How can he be esteemed a pastor, who succeeds to no one, but begins from himself?  For the true shepherd remains and presides over the Church of God by successive ordination.  Therefore, the other one becomes a stranger and a profane person, an enemy of the Lord's peace."  St. Cyprian Of Carthage, "Letter To Magnus," c. 250 A.D.


"The words of our Lord Jesus Christ are plain that He sent His Apostles and gave to them alone the power that had been given to Him by His Father.  And we have succeeded to them, governing the Lord's Church with the same power."  Seventh Council Of Carthage, c. 256 A.D.


Printed with permission from Catholic Defense.


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