Begins Audience Series on Apostolic Fathers

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 8, 2007 ( Already in the first century, popes exercised their primacy over the other Churches, Benedict XVI says.

The Holy Father explained this on Wednesday at the general audience, which he dedicated to Pope St. Clement of Rome, the third successor of Peter.

Speaking to some 16,000 people gathered both in Paul VI Hall and St. Peter's Basilica, the Pontiff began a new series of catecheses on the Apostolic Fathers.

Benedict XVI mentioned that Clement's Letter to the Corinthians was given "[a]n almost canonical characteristic."

The letter noted that the Church of Corinth was experiencing severe divisions. "The priests of the community, in fact, had been deposed by some young upstarts," the Holy Father said.

And quoting St. Irenaeus, he explained the context of Clement's letter: "[t]he Church of Rome sent the Corinthians a very important letter to reconcile them in peace to renew their faith and to announce the tradition, a tradition they had so newly received from the apostles."

Benedict XVI continued: "Therefore we could say that [Clement's letter] is a first exercise of a Primate of Rome after the death of St. Peter."

He added that the letter "opened to the Bishop of Rome the possibility for vast intervention on the identity of the Church and its mission."

Organic connection

St. Clement's letter clarifies the distinction between hierarchy and laity.

"The clear distinction between the 'lay people' and the hierarchy does not mean, in any way, a contraposition but only the organic connection of a body, of an organism with different functions," Benedict XVI explained. "In fact, the Church is not a place for confusion and anarchy, where someone can do whatever he wants at any time; each one in this organism with an articulated structure practices his ministry according to the vocation received.

"As pertains to the heads of the communities, Clement specifies clearly the doctrine of apostolic succession."

Benedict XVI added: "The laws that regulate this derive from God himself in an ultimate analysis. The Father sent Jesus Christ, who in turn sent the apostles. These then sent out the first heads of the communities, and established that they would be followed by worthy men."

"The Church is above all a gift of God and not a creature of ours," the Pope contended, "and therefore this sacramental structure not only guarantees the common order but also the precedence of the gift of God that we all need."

Code: ZE07030826

Date: 2007-03-08


Teachings of Christ

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." (Matthew 5:6 ESV)


You were transfigured on the mountain, O Christ God, * showing Your glory to Your Disciples as far as they were able to bear it. * Through the prayers of the Mother of God, * let Your everlasting Light shine also upon us sinners. * O Giver of Light, glory to You! (Troparion - Tone 7)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

You were transfigured upon the mountain, O Christ God, * and Your Disciples beheld Your glory as far as they could receive it, * so that when they would see You crucified, * they would understand that You suffered willingly; * and they would preach to the world * that You are truly the radiance of the Father. (Kontakion - Tone 7)

Random Proverb

"Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold." (Proverbs 3:13,14 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

First of all it must be understood that it is the duty of all Christians - especially of those whose calling dedicates them to the spiritual life - to strive always and in every way to be united with God, their creator, lover, benefactor, and their supreme good, by Whom and for Whom they were created. This is because the center and the final purpose of the soul, which God created, must be God Himself alone, and nothing else - God whom Whom the soul has received its life and its nature, and for Whom it must eternally live.

St. Dimitry of Rostov