Dogma in the Catholic Church

In the Catholic Church, a dogma is a definitive article of faith (de fide) that has been solemnly promulgated by the college of bishops along with the Pope at an ecumenical council or by the pope alone, when speaking in a statement ex cathedra, in which the magisterium of the Church presents a particular doctrine as necessary for the belief of all Catholic faithful.[a] For example, Christian dogma states that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the basic truth from which salvation and life is derived for Christians. Dogmas regulate the language, how the truth of the resurrection is to be believed and communicated. One dogma is only a small part of the Christian faith, from which it derives its meaning.[1] A dogma of the Catholic Church is defined as "a truth revealed by God, which the magisterium of the Church declared as binding."[2] The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

The Church's Magisterium asserts that it exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes, in a form obliging Catholics to an irrevocable adherence of faith, truths contained in divine Revelation or also when it proposes, in a definitive way, truths having a necessary connection with these.[3]

Dogma can also pertain to the collective body of the Church's dogmatic teachings and doctrine. The faithful are required to accept with the divine and Catholic faith everything the Church presents either as solemn decision or as general teaching. Yet not all teachings are dogma. The faithful are only required to accept those teachings as dogma if the Church clearly and specifically identifies them as infallible dogmas.[4] Not all theological truths have been promulgated as dogmas. A tenet of the faith is that the Bible contains many sacred truths, which the faithful recognize and agree with, but which the Church has not defined as dogma. Most Church teachings are not dogma. Cardinal Avery Dulles pointed out that in the 800 pages of the Second Vatican Council documents, there is not one new statement for which infallibility is claimed.[5]

Rome basilica st peter 011c
Statue of Saint Peter holding the keys of the kingdom of heaven. (Gospel of Matthew (16:18–19)

Elements: Scripture and Tradition

The concept of dogma has two elements: immediate divine revelation from Scripture or Sacred Tradition, and, a proposition of the Church, which not only announces the dogma but also declares it binding for the faith. This may occur through an ex cathedra decision by a Pope, or by an Ecumenical Council.[6]

The Holy Scripture is not identical with divine revelation, but a part of it.[7] Scriptures were written later by apostles and evangelists, who knew Jesus. They give inerrant testimony of his teachings.[7] Scripture thus belongs to Tradition in the larger sense, where it has an absolute priority, because it is the Word of God, and because it is the unchangeable testimony of the apostles of Christ, whose fullness the Church preserves with its tradition.[8]

Dogma as divine and Catholic faith

Dogma is considered to be both divine and Catholic faith: divine because of its believed origin, and Catholic because of belief in the infallible teaching binding for all.[9] At the turn of the 20th century, a group of theologians called modernists stated that dogmas did not come from God but are historical manifestations at a given time. In the encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis, Pope Pius X condemned this teaching as heresy in 1907. The Catholic position is that the content of a dogma has a divine origin. It is considered to be an expression of an objective truth that does not change.[10] The truth of God, revealed by God, does not change, as God himself does not change; "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away".[11]

However, truths of the faith have been declared dogmatically throughout the ages. The instance of a Pope doing this outside an Ecumenical Council is rare, though there were two instances in recent times: the Immaculate Conception of Mary in 1854 and the Assumption of Mary into heaven in 1950.[12] A Pope cannot make infallible proclamations without ascertaining that they are beliefs already held in some form throughout the Catholic church. Both Pope Pius IX and Pope Pius XII consulted the bishops worldwide before proclaiming these dogmas. A movement to declare a third Marian dogma for "Mediatrix" and "Co-Redemptrix" was underway in the 1990s,[13] an issue handled very delicately by the bishops at Vatican II.[14]

Early uses of the term

The term Dogma Catholicum was first used by Vincent of Lérins (450), referring to "what all, everywhere and always believed".[15] In the year 565, Emperor Justinian declared the decisions of the first ecumenical councils as law because they are true dogmata of God[15] In the Middle Ages, the term doctrina Catholica, (Catholic doctrine) was used for the Catholic faith. Individual beliefs were labeled as articulus fidei (part of the faith).

Ecumenical Councils issue dogmas. Many dogmas - especially from the early Church (Ephesus, Chalcedon) to the Council of Trent - were formulated against specific heresies (Holy Spirit only emanating from father and not from Father and Son). Later dogmas (Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary) express the greatness of God in binding language. At the specific request of Pope John XXIII, the Second Vatican Council did not proclaim any dogmas. Instead it presented the basic elements of the Catholic faith in a more understandable, pastoral language, without changing the teachings of the Church.[1] The last two dogmas were pronounced by Popes, Pope Pius IX in 1854 and Pope Pius XII in 1950 on the Immaculate Conception and the assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary respectively. They are cornerstones of mariology

To some, this raises the question, why new dogmas are formulated almost 2000 years after the resurrection of Christ. It is Catholic teaching that, with Christ and the Apostles, revelation is completed. Dogmas issued after the death of his apostles are not new, but explications of existing faith. Implicit truths are specified as explicit, as was done in the teachings on the Trinity by the ecumenical councils. Karl Rahner tries to explain this with the allegorical sentence of a husband to his wife, "I love you"; this surely implies, I am faithful to you.[16]

In the 5th century Vincent of Lérins wrote, in Commonitory, that there should be progress within the Church, "on condition that it be real progress, not alteration of the faith. For progress requires that the subject be enlarged in itself, alteration, that it be transformed into something else. The intelligence, then, the knowledge, the wisdom, [...] of individuals [...] as well of [...] the whole Church, ought, in the course of ages and centuries, to increase and make much and vigorous progress; but yet only in its own kind; that is to say, in the same doctrine, in the same sense, and in the same meaning."[17] Vincent commented on the First Epistle to Timothy (6:20) that Timothy, for Vincent, represented "either generally the Universal Church, or in particular, the whole body of The Prelacy", whose obligation is "to possess or to communicate to others a complete knowledge of religion" called the deposit of faith. According to Vincent, the deposit of faith was entrusted and not "devised: a matter not of wit, but of learning; not of private adoption, but of public tradition." Vincent expounded that you "received gold, give gold in turn," and not a substitute or a counterfeit. Vincent explained that those who are qualified by a "divine gift" should "by wit, by skill, by learning," expound and clarify "that which formerly was believed, though imperfectly apprehended" – to understand "what antiquity venerated without understanding" and teach "the same truths" in a new way.[18] The Church uses this text in its interpretation of dogmatic development. In 1870, the First Vatican Council quoted from Commonitory and stated, in the dogmatic constitution Dei Filius, that "meaning of the sacred dogmas is perpetually to be retained" once they have been declared by the Catholic Church and "there must never be a deviation from that meaning on the specious ground and title of a more profound understanding."[19][20] In 1964, the Second Vatican Council further developed this in Lumen Gentium.[21][b]

Theological certainty

The Magisterium of the Church is directed to guard, preserve and teach divine truths which God has revealed with infallibility (de fide). A rejection of Church Magisterial teachings is a de facto rejection of the divine revelation. It is considered the mortal sin of heresy if the heretical opinion is held with full knowledge of the Church's opposing dogmas. The infallibility of the Magisterium extends also to teachings which are deduced from such truths (fides ecclesiastica). These Church teachings or "Catholic truths" (veritates catholicae) are not a part of the divine revelation, yet are intimately related to it. The rejection of these "secondary" teachings is not heretical, but involves the impairment of full communion with the Catholic Church.[22]

There are three categories of these veritates catholicae:[22]

  • Conclusiones theologicae (theological conclusions): religious truths deduced from the divine revelation and reason.
  • Facta dogmatica (dogmatic facts): historical facts not part of revelation, but clearly related to it.
  • Truths of reason: presupposed philosophical definitions used in the definitions of dogmas.

The theological certainties of all teachings, from the divine revelation to the least certain veritas catholica, are ranked as follows:[22]

  • De fide (from the Faith): the highest degree of certainty, considered part of the divine revelation and infallibly asserted.
  • Fides ecclesiastica (the Faith of the Church): Church teachings that have been definitively decided on by the Magisterium in an infallible manner.
  • Sententia fidei proxima (teaching proximate to the Faith): Church teachings that are generally accepted as divine revelation but not defined as such by the Magisterium.
  • sententia ad fidem pertinens, or sententia theologice certa (teaching pertinent to the faith, or theologically certain teaching): Church teachings that the Magisterium clearly decided for, albeit without claiming infallibility.
  • Sententia communis (common teaching): teachings which are popular but within the filtered range of theological research.
  • Sententia probabilis (probable teaching): teachings with a low degree of certainty. Those of this certainty which are considered "in agreement with the consciousness of the Faith of the Church" are called sententia pia (pious opinion).
  • Sententia bene fundata (well founded teaching): teaching that is well reasoned but does not, however, rise to being called probable.
  • Opinio tolerata (tolerated opinion): opinion tolerated, but discouraged, within the Church.

Papal bulls and encyclicals

Spas vsederzhitel sinay
The oldest surviving panel icon of Christ Pantocrator, c. 6th century.

Pope Pius XII stated in Humani generis, that papal encyclicals, even when they are not ex cathedra, can nonetheless be sufficiently authoritative to end theological debate on a particular question:

Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: "He who heareth you, heareth me" (Luke 10:16); and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine. But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter, according to the mind and will of the Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians.[23]

The end of the theological debate is not identical, however, with dogmatization. Throughout the history of the Church, its representatives have discussed whether a given Papal teaching is the final word or not.

In 1773, Father Lorenzo Ricci, hearing rumours that Pope Clement XIV might dissolve the Jesuit Order, wrote "it is most incredible that the Deputy of Christ would state the opposite, what his predecessor Pope Clement XIII stated in the papal bull Apostolicum, in which he defended and protected us." When, a few days later, he was asked if he would accept the papal brief reverting Clement XIII and dissolving the Jesuit Order, Ricci replied that whatever the Pope decides must be sacred to everybody.[24]

In 1995, questions arose as to whether the apostolic letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis, which upheld the Catholic teaching that only men may receive ordination, is to be understood as belonging to the deposit of faith. Pope John Paul II wrote, "Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of Our ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) We declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful." Dulles, in a lecture to U.S. bishops, stated that Ordinatio sacerdotalis is infallible, not because of the apostolic letter or the clarification by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger alone but because it is based on a wide range of sources, scriptures, the constant tradition of the Church, and the ordinary and universal magisterium of the Church: Pope John Paul II identified a truth infallibly taught over two thousand years by the Church.[25]

Critics of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis point out, though, that it was not promulgated under the extraordinary papal magisterium as an ex cathedra statement, and therefore is not considered infallible in itself.[25]

Apparitions and revelations

VirgendeLourdes
Statue of Our Lady of Lourdes. The Lourdes apparitions occurred four years after the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

Private revelations have taken place within the Church since the very beginning. For example, the Our Lady of the Pillar appeared to James the Greater, Apparitions are not a part of Sacred Tradition, since that would imply divine revelation is incomplete, which in turn would imply God can perfect himself.[c]

The Catholic church distinguishes between the apparitions within divine revelation - such as the risen Jesus' apparitions to the Apostles and the sign of the woman in the Book of Revelation - and apparitions without divine revelation – such as Our Lady of Fatima and the apparitions to Saint Mary Magdalene – because the age of divine revelation was closed with the completion of the New Testament when the last of the Apostles died.[d]

While Our Lady of the Pillar appeared during the Apostolic Age, the apparition is not a dogma since it is not part of the Catholic Faith, in the Bible or in Sacred Tradition. It is a local tradition, which is distinct from Sacred Tradition.[e]

Ecumenical aspects

Protestant theology since the reformation was largely negative on the term dogma. This changed in the 20th century, when Karl Barth, in Kirchliche Dogmatik, stated the need for systematic and binding articles of faith.[29] The Creed is the most comprehensive – but not complete[f] – summary of important Catholic dogmas. (It was originally used during baptism ceremonies). The Creed is a part of Sunday liturgy. Because many Protestant Churches have retained the older versions of the Creed, ecumenical working groups are meeting to discuss the Creed as the basis for better understandings of dogma.[30]

Notes

  1. ^ The terms dogma, truth, divine truth, infallible etc., are to be understood as relating only to Catholic doctrine.
  2. ^ "The entire body of the faithful [...] cannot err in matters of belief" when the people of God manifests "discernment in matters of faith when [...] they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals." That discernment "is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority, in faithful and respectful order to which the people of God accepts that which is not just the word of men but truly the word of God. Through it, the people of God adheres [...] to the faith given once and for all to the saints, penetrates it more deeply with right thinking, and applies it more fully in its life."[21]
  3. ^ Christian faith cannot accept "revelations" that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such "revelations".[26]
  4. ^ "The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ." Yet even if god permits no new revelations, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries.[27]
  5. ^ Tradition is to be distinguished from the various theological, disciplinary, liturgical or devotional traditions, born in the local churches over time. These are the particular forms, adapted to different places and times, in which the great Tradition is expressed. In the light of Tradition, these traditions can be retained, modified or even abandoned under the guidance of the Church's Magisterium.[28]
  6. ^ Additional dogmas are in part precisation of clauses contained in the creed. However this may be, all of them follow technically from the clause "and the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church", in which the claim of the Church to lay down revelation infallibly is contained.

References

  1. ^ a b Beinert 90
  2. ^ Schmaus, I, 54
  3. ^ Catechism 88 Archived 27 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Schmaus, 54
  5. ^ Dulles, 147
  6. ^ Ott 5
  7. ^ a b Heinrich, 52
  8. ^ Heinrich 52
  9. ^ Ott, 5
  10. ^ Ott 6
  11. ^ Mark 13:31
  12. ^ Mark Miravalle, 1993, Introduction to Mary, Queenship Publishing ISBN 978-1-882972-06-7 page 51
  13. ^ Mark Miravalle, 1993 "With Jesus": the story of Mary Co-redemptrix ISBN 1-57918-241-0 page 11
  14. ^ Lumen Gentium, 62
  15. ^ a b Beinert 89
  16. ^ Schmaus, 40
  17. ^ Commonitorium n. 54
  18. ^ Commonitorium n. 53
  19. ^ Dei Filius
  20. ^ Denzinger, n. 3020
  21. ^ a b Lumen Gentium. n. 12.
  22. ^ a b c Ott, Ludwig (1955). Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (6th ed.). B. Herder Book Co. pp. 9–10. ISBN 089555805X. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  23. ^ Pope Pius XII (1950). Humani generis. n. 20.
  24. ^ Ludwig von Pastor, Geschichte der Päpste, XVI,2 1961, 207-208
  25. ^ a b such as the Catholic theological society of America Weigel, George (2005). Witness to Hope : a biography of Pope John Paul II. New York: Harper. pp. 732–733.
  26. ^ Catechism 67 Archived 16 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Catechism 66
  28. ^ Catechism 83 Archived 27 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ Zollikon Zürich 1032-1970 Beinert 92
  30. ^ Beinert 199

Sources

  • Beinert, Wolfgang (1988). Lexikon der katholischen Dogmatik (in German). Freiburg: Herder.
  • Denzinger, Heinrich; Hünermann, Peter; et al., eds. (2012). Enchiridion symbolorum: a compendium of creeds, definitions and declarations of the Catholic Church (43rd ed.). San Francisco: Ignatius Press. ISBN 0898707463.
  • Dulles, Avery (1971). The survival of dogma : faith, authority and dogma in a changing world. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. OCLC 610489855.
  • Dulles, Avery (1971). "The changing forms of faith". The survival of dogma. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. pp. 17–31. OCLC 610489855.
  • Dulles, Avery (1970). "The magisterium and authority in the Church". In Devine, George (ed.). In theology in revolution: proceedings of the College Theology Society. Staten Island: Society of St. Paul. pp. 29–45. ISBN 9780818901768. College Theology Society annual convention, Chicago, April 6–8, 1969.
  • Heinrich, Johann B. (1900). Huppert, Philipp (ed.). Lehrbuch der katholischen Dogmatik (in German). Mainz: Franz Kirchheim. OCLC 858663925.
  • One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a work now in the public domain: Vincent of Lérins; Charles A. Heurtley, trans. (1955) [1894 by various publishers]. "The Commonitory of Vincent of Lérins, for the antiquity and universality of the catholic faith against the profane novelties of all heresies". In Schaff, Philip; Wace, Henry (eds.). Sulpitius Severus, Vincent of Lerins, John Cassian. A select library of the Nicene and post-Nicene fathers of the Christian Church. Second series. 11 (Reprint ed.). Grand Rapids: B. Eerdmans. OCLC 16266414 – via Christian Classics Ethereal Library.
  • Ott, Ludwig (1965). Grundriss der Dogmatik (in German). Freiburg: Herder.
  • Rahner, Karl (1968). "Theology and the Magisterium". Theological Digest: 4–17.
  • Rahner, Karl (1968). "Historical dimensions in Theology". Theology Digest: 30–42. ISSN 0040-5728.
  • Rahner, Karl (1966). "What is a dogmatic statement?". Theological investigations. 5. pp. 42–66.
  • Simmons, Francis (1968). Infallibility and the evidence. Springfield, IL.
  • Schmaus, Michael (1982) [1955]. Katholische Dogmatik (in German). München.
Catholic Church

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's "oldest continuously functioning international institution", it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the Pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.

Catholic theology is based on the Nicene Creed. The Catholic Church teaches that it is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church founded by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission, that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles, and that the pope is the successor to Saint Peter upon whom primacy was conferred by Jesus Christ. It maintains that it practises the original Christian faith, reserving infallibility, passed down by sacred tradition. The Latin Church, the twenty-three Eastern Catholic Churches, and institutes such as mendicant orders and enclosed monastic orders reflect a variety of theological and spiritual emphases in the church.Of its seven sacraments the Eucharist is the principal one, celebrated liturgically in the Mass. The church teaches that through consecration by a priest the sacrificial bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. The Virgin Mary is venerated in the Catholic Church as Mother of God and Queen of Heaven, honoured in dogmas and devotions. Its teaching includes sanctification through faith and evangelisation of the Gospel as well as Catholic social teaching, which emphasises voluntary support for the sick, the poor, and the afflicted through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The Catholic Church is the largest non-government provider of education and health care in the world.The Catholic Church has influenced Western philosophy, culture, science, and art. Catholics live all over the world through missions, diaspora, and conversions. Since the 20th century the majority reside in the southern hemisphere due to secularisation in Europe, and increased persecution in the Middle East.

The Catholic Church shared communion with the Eastern Orthodox Church until the East–West Schism in 1054, disputing particularly the authority of the pope, as well as with the Oriental Orthodox churches prior to the Chalcedonian schism in 451 over differences in Christology. The Reformation of the 16th century resulted in Protestants breaking away.

From the late 20th century, the Catholic Church has been criticised for its doctrines on sexuality, its refusal to ordain women, as well as the handling of sexual abuse cases involving clergy.

Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus

The Latin phrase extra Ecclesiam nulla salus means "outside the Church there is no salvation". The 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church explained this as "all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is His Body."This expression comes from the writings of Saint Cyprian of Carthage, a bishop of the 3rd century. The axiom is often used as shorthand for the doctrine that the Church is necessary for salvation. It is a dogma in the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox churches in reference to their own communions. It is also held by many historic Protestant Churches. However, Protestants, Catholics and the Orthodox each have a unique ecclesiological understanding of what constitutes the Church. The theological basis for this doctrine is founded on the beliefs that (1) Jesus Christ personally established the one Church; and (2) the Church serves as the means by which the graces won by Christ are communicated to believers.

Kallistos Ware, a Greek Orthodox bishop, has expressed this doctrine as follows:

"Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus. All the categorical strength and point of this aphorism lies in its tautology. Outside the Church there is no salvation, because salvation is the Church" (G. Florovsky, "Sobornost: the Catholicity of the Church", in The Church of God, p. 53). Does it therefore follow that anyone who is not visibly within the Church is necessarily damned? Of course not; still less does it follow that everyone who is visibly within the Church is necessarily saved. As Augustine wisely remarked: "How many sheep there are without, how many wolves within!" (Homilies on John, 45, 12) While there is no division between a "visible" and an "invisible Church", yet there may be members of the Church who are not visibly such, but whose membership is known to God alone. If anyone is saved, he must in some sense be a member of the Church; in what sense, we cannot always say.

The Catholic Church also teaches that the doctrine does not mean that everyone who is not visibly within the Church is necessarily damned in case of inculpable ignorance.

Some of the most pertinent Catholic expressions of this doctrine are: the profession of faith of Pope Innocent III (1208), the profession of faith of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), the bull Unam sanctam of Pope Boniface VIII (1302), and the profession of faith of the Council of Florence (1442). The axiom "No salvation outside the Church" has been frequently repeated over the centuries in different terms by the ordinary magisterium.

New Testament

The New Testament (Ancient Greek: Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, transl. Hē Kainḕ Diathḗkē; Latin: Novum Testamentum) is the second part of the Christian biblical canon, the first part being the Old Testament, based on the Hebrew Bible. The New Testament discusses the teachings and person of Jesus, as well as events in first-century Christianity. Christians regard both the Old and New Testaments together as sacred scripture. The New Testament (in whole or in part) has frequently accompanied the spread of Christianity around the world. It reflects and serves as a source for Christian theology and morality. Extended readings and phrases directly from the New Testament are incorporated (along with readings from the Old Testament) into the various Christian liturgies. The New Testament has influenced religious, philosophical, and political movements in Christendom and left an indelible mark on literature, art, and music.

The New Testament is a collection of Christian works written in the common (Koine) Greek language of the 1st century AD, at different times by various writers, and the modern consensus is that it provides important evidence regarding Judaism in the 1st century. In almost all Christian traditions today, the New Testament consists of 27 books: the four gospels, The Acts of the Apostles, twenty-one epistles, and Revelation.

The united Catholic Church defined the 27-book canon. The earliest known complete list of the 27 books is by the 4th-century eastern Catholic bishop Athanasius. The first time that church councils approved this list was with the councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397) in North Africa and Pope Innocent I ratified the same canon in 405, but it is probable that a Council in Rome in 382 under pope Damasus gave the same list first. These councils also provided the canon of the Old Testament, which included the apocryphal books.The original texts were written in the first century of the Christian Era, in Greek, which was the common language of the Eastern Mediterranean from the conquests of Alexander the Great (335–323 BC) until the Muslim conquests in the 7th century AD. All the works that eventually became incorporated into the New Testament are believed to have been written no later than around 120 AD. John A. T. Robinson, Dan Wallace, and William F. Albright dated all the books of the New Testament before 70 AD. Others give a final date of 80 AD or of 96 AD.Collections of related texts such as letters of the Apostle Paul (a major collection of which must have been made already by the early 2nd century) and the Canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (asserted by Irenaeus of Lyon in the late-2nd century as the Four Gospels) gradually were joined to other collections and single works in different combinations to form various Christian canons of Scripture. Over time, some disputed books, such as the Book of Revelation and the Minor Catholic (General) Epistles were introduced into canons in which they were originally absent. Other works earlier held to be Scripture, such as 1 Clement, the Shepherd of Hermas, and the Diatessaron, were excluded from the New Testament. The Old Testament canon is not completely uniform among all major Christian groups including Roman Catholics, Protestants, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Slavic Orthodox Churches, and the Armenian Orthodox Church. However, the twenty-seven-book canon of the New Testament, at least since Late Antiquity, has been almost universally recognized within Christianity (see Development of the New Testament canon).

Papal primacy

Papal primacy, also known as the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, is an ecclesiastical doctrine concerning the respect and authority that is due to the pope from other bishops and their episcopal sees.

English academic and Catholic priest Aidan Nichols wrote that "at root, only one issue of substance divides the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches, and that is the issue of the primacy." The French Orthodox researcher Jean-Claude Larchet wrote that together with the Filioque controversy, differences in interpretation of this doctrine have been and remain the primary causes of schism between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. In the Eastern Orthodox Churches, some understand the primacy of the Bishop of Rome to be merely one of greater honour, regarding him as primus inter pares ("first among equals"), without effective power over other churches. Other Orthodox Christian theologians, however, view primacy as authoritative power: the expression, manifestation and realization in one bishop of the power of all the bishops and of the unity of the Church.The Catholic Church attributes to the primacy of the Pope "full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered," a power that it attributes also to the entire body of the bishops united with the pope. The power that it attributes to the pope's primatial authority has limitations that are official, legal, dogmatic, and practical.In the Ravenna Document, issued in 2007, representatives of the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church jointly stated that both East and West accept the fact of the Bishop of Rome's primacy at the universal level, but that differences of understanding exist about how the primacy is to be exercised and about its scriptural and theological foundations.

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