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The Papacy:

Its Historic Origin and Primitive Relations with the Eastern Churches

by Abbé Guettée

Source: http://reocities.com/heartland/5654/orthodox/essays.html



Editorís Preface

The author of this work is not a Protestant. He is a French divine reared in the communion of Rome, and devoted to her cause in purpose of heart and life; but his great learning having led him to conclusions contrary to those of the Jesuits, he is under the ban. Proscribed by the Papacy for the fidelity with which he has pursued. and illustrated the study of Church History, he accepts the logical consequences of his position, and finds himself a true Catholic at last, receiving the communion in both kinds at the hands of the Greeks, in the Church of the Russian Embassy in Paris. The interesting biographical notice which is prefixed to his work explains his personal history, and gives assurance of his ability to treat the subject of the Papacy with the most intimate knowledge of its practical character. He writes with science and precision, and with the pen of a man of genius. Should he continue his career as it has been begun, he is destined to be a man of the age, and the precursor of events the most interesting and important to religion and to civilization.

There is no dignity nor payment which would not have been accorded to him, in the Romish Communion, had he written his History of the Church of France in the interests of the party called Ultramontane, that is, the Jesuit party. Like Fleury, he preferred to tell the facts as he discovered them to be, and for this, of course, he has been persecuted. The censures of the Court of Rome led him to review his work with the earnest desire to amend it; but this reviewal, by his very effort to make it thorough, led him to conclusions which he had not anticipated. In the work herewith presented, we have the results. It is written in a style more attractive than the similar work of Barrow on the Supremacy, and on some interesting questions it throws new light; while its originality, analytical power and illustrative force are everywhere conspicuous.

The reader must understand that the writer uses the word Catholic accurately and not in the vulgar sense. He employs it as it is understood in the Creeds, and as it is used by all scholars and theologians who write correctly. Thus, the Catholic Church is the Historic Church of Christ, preserving the orthodoxy of the Four Great Councils, and united in the Apostolic Episcopate. The Oriental Church is the original stock of this great Tree; and the Latin or Roman Churches are but a branch of it. The Church of Rome was itself a Greek Church for the first three centuries of its existence. See Millman's Latin Christianity. The Abbé has fixed on Hadrian I as the first Pope; the editor has always preferred, for several reasons, to name Nicholas I as the real founder of the Papacy; but, as it was a slowly developed institution, and may be dated, in its first stages, from the claim of a Universal Episcopate by Boniface III it is always important to define what is meant by the term, when we pronounce any early bishop of Rome a pope. The title Papa was common to all bishops, Greek and Latin, from the earliest times; but, the developed Papacy, as we now understand it, was not visible till the era of Charlemagne, under whose successors it was settled in Western Europe as the base of the Feudal system.

Every traveler and every man who reads, will find the historical facts with which this work will render him familiar of the very greatest utility. For want of this knowledge, the present aspect of Europe, and all the questions which are called Eastern, are misapprehended grossly, and men, otherwise intelligent, add daily to popular ignorance by attempting to explain them. In America, the importance of understanding such matters is becoming deeply felt; and it is not too much to say that the Abbé Guettée will be found by the reader to be the clearest writer now living on all matters connected with the Papacy.

His History of the Church of France is voluminous and elaborate; his work on the Jesuits, and his confutation of M. Renan, deserve to be universally known. Should this translation meet with the favor it merits, it is to be hoped that the translator will continue these labors, and enrich the English-speaking world with the entire series of the author's works.

Buffalo, May, 1866.



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Article published in English on: 6-2-2010.

Last update: 6-2-2010.