Thursday, July 23, 2009

St. Clement of Rome

Whatever possessed me to take two summer school classes, I do not know. I already have finals next week (God help me). I'll be blogging on the Fathers as my method of studying. Happy reading!

Time Period:1st Century; cannot be later than the 90s
Position: Bishop of Rome (a.k.a. The Pope, third successor of St. Peter)
Important works: Letter to the Corinthians (A.D. 80)
Language: Greek

This is the only surviving writing of Clement. He wrote the Letter as a response to the Bishop of Corinth being overthrown and the ensuing schism. It is interesting (as well as important) to note that when he wrote this, St. John the Apostle was still alive. But since Clement, not John, was the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, the appeal went to Rome.

He writes...

And our Apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would
be strife over the name of the bishop's office. For this cause therefore, having received complete foreknowledge, they appointed the aforesaid persons, and afterwards they provided a continuance, that if these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed to their ministration. Those therefore who were appointed by them, or afterward by other men of repute with the consent of the whole Church, and have ministered without blame to the flock of Christ in lowliness of mind, peacefully and with all modesty, and for long time have borne a good report with all these men we consider to be unjustly thrust out from their ministration.

(Translation: Apostolic Succession !)

He continues...

It is shameful, dearly beloved, yes, utterly shameful and unworthy of
your training in Christ, that it should be reported that the very
steadfast and ancient Church of the Corinthians, for the sake of one
or two persons, is in revolt against its presbyters.

(Translation: Schism: Bad ; Unity: Good !)


You, therefore, who laid the foundations of the rebellion, submit to the presbyters and be chastened to repentance, bending your knees in a spirit of humility.

Is there really anything more I can add to Clement? He makes it very clear that going against your bishop is a no-no, what gives legitimacy to the bishop is the unbroken apostolic succession (keep in mind, this is 80 A.D.--the Bible hadn't dropped from the sky yet!), and that you put yourself in danger when you create a schism. (He writes, "By your folly you heap blasphemies on the name of the Lord, and create a danger for yourselves.") Most significantly, this is coming from the authority of the Pope, who St. John himself submits to...because he submits to Christ who gave this instruction and power in the first place as recorded in the gospel of Matthew.


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