Monday, October 23, 2017


“… likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand… and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:26-27)

“Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it…” (Psalm 127:1)

This article has a lot to do with precedent.  Precedent can be a good thing or a very bad thing.  What is a “precedent”?  According to, it is:

“Any act, decision, or case that serves as a guide or justification for subsequent situations.”

The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes it as:

“Something done or said that may serve as an example or rule to authorize or justify a subsequent act of the same or an analogous kind.”

You get the picture.  What happens today will be the example, teaching, or law of tomorrow.  

But as you may know, some terrible things have developed in our world due to bad precedents.  For example, the Roe v. Wade decision to legalize abortion in 1973 was definitely an evil precedent.  Every Catholic knows this.  Another tragic example of a bad precedent is the reversing of our First Amendment right to freedom of religion in America.  It is a shame that some of our highest courts have betrayed us.  See this article:

But there is another bad precedent that we find within the Catholic Church, and it has to do with its teachings on the papacy (i.e., the office of the pope).  This precedent has disturbing implications for Catholics.  The truth is that there have been some forgeries of documents in history that have greatly affected the shape of the modern day papacy, and they have made it what it is today.  One of those forgeries is called the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals, to which later were added other forgeries (the Donation of Constantine and the Liber Pontificalis).  These were later mixed with yet another forgery provided by a monk named John Gratian.  These, taken all together, came to be known as Gratian’s Decretum, which created a historical precedent, greatly influencing the Catholic teaching of “papal primacy.”  See this article for details:

Now, Catholics will admit that these documents we mentioned (and some others) were indeed forgeries.  But some Catholics will try to downplay the effects of these forgeries.  They’ll say yes, these were forgeries, but it’s not a big deal, since they didn’t have much of an influence or impact on the Catholic teaching on papal authority.  They’ll say that the earliest church taught this same thing, but in seed form, and that it just naturally “developed” into what we see in the papacy today.

But there are others who are painting a very different historical picture.  Please carefully read these accounts of Protestant, Orthodox, and Catholic historians, scholars, and theologians who have a different take on the influence that these forgeries had on the doctrine of the papacy...

Richard W. Thompson

Former teacher, lawyer, judge, and U.S. Secretary of the Navy, Richard W. Thompson (who was reported to be Catholic, but we have not been able to confirm this) in his study of Catholic forgeries and their influence on the papacy, observed:

“Such times as these were adapted to the practice of any kind of imposture and fraud which the popes and clergy considered necessary to strengthen the authority of the papacy… But they were unsuited to these times, in that they did not furnish a sufficient shelter for the corruption and imperialism of the popes, and did not sufficiently lay the foundation for their claim of dominion over the world.  Something more was necessary; and the means for supplying this were not wanting.  It consisted of the False Decretals, which are now universally considered to have been bold and unblushing forgeries.  Yet, forgeries as they were, they constitute the cornerstone of that enormous system of wrong and usurpation which has since been built up by the papacy…” (The Papacy and the Civil Power, Page 372 – emphasis added)

He further stated:

“… but all that he [Pope Innocent III] did was prompted by but one motive – that of raising the papacy above all the thrones and governments of earth.  This, with him, was an all-absorbing and controlling passion.  The canon law, founded, as it then stood, mainly upon the pseudo-Isidorian, Gregorian, and Gracian forgeries, had already been constructed and construed with this end in view; and, therefore, the personal interest, no less than the ambition of Innocent III., led him to preserve all these forgeries with care, so that, in the course of time, the ‘pious fraud’ might become sanctified by time, because perpetrated in the name of St. Peter!  The result he hoped and sought for has been accomplished.” (Ibid. page 419, emphasis added)

Philip Schaff (Protestant)

Well known historian and theologian, Philip Schaff, wrote:

“… and the later notorious Pseudo-Isidorian decretals.  The popes, to be sure, were not the original authors of these falsifications, but they used them freely and repeatedly for their own purposes.” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume 2, page 288)

And also:

“… in the middle of the ninth century, a mysterious book made its appearance, which gave legal expression to the popular opinion of the papacy, raised and strengthened its power more than any other agency, and forms to a large extent the basis of the canon law of the church of Rome.  This is a collection of ecclesiastical laws under the false name of bishop Isidor of Seville… hence called the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals’.” (Ibid., Volume 4, page 268, emphasis added)

Everett Ferguson (Protestant)

Author, scholar, historian, and Professor emeritus at Harvard, Everett Ferguson, writes concerning the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals:

“There were other forgeries of a similar kind at this time, but this collection became the most influential forgery in the history of the Roman Catholic Church.  It became the basis of the claims for the papal monarchy in the later Middle Ages.” (Church History, Volume One: From Christ to the Pre-Reformation: The Rise and Growth of the Church in its Cultural, Intellectual, and Political Context – pages 379-380 – emphasis added)

And also:

“The Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals had been firmly woven into canon law by the eleventh century…” (Ibid. page 403 – emphasis added)

Aristeides Papadakis (Orthodox)

This Orthodox historian and Professor of Byzantine history writes:

“Although the Orthodox may not have known that
Gregorian teaching was in part drawn from the forged decretals of pseudo-Isidore (850’s), they were quite certain that it was not based on catholic tradition in either its historical or canonical form.” (The Christian East and the Rise of the Papacy, page 166)

Abbe Guette (Orthodox)

Former Catholic priest, Abbe (Rene-Francois) Guettee who converted to the Orthodox faith, wrote about the impact of the false decretals and the change they caused in the Catholic papacy in his book, The Papacy:

“The false decretals make as it were the dividing point between the Papacy of the first eight and that of the succeeding centuries.  At this date, the pretentions of the Popes begin to develop and take each day a more distinct character.”

See here:

[Note:  This was a major reason that the Eastern (Orthodox) Church split from the Western (Roman Catholic) Church in 1054 A.D.  According to Protestant historian William Webster, “The Eastern [Orthodox] Church never accepted the false claims of the Roman Church and refused to submit to its insistence that the Bishop of Rome was supreme ruler of the Church.  This they knew was not true to the historical record and was a perversion of the true teaching of Scripture, the papal exegesis of which was not taught by the Church fathers.”]

See here:

Paul Bede Johnson (Catholic)

Paul Johnson, author, journalist and church historian writes:

“Pseudo-Isidorian forgeries played a major role in the evolution of the related ‘Power of the Keys’ theory.” (A History of Christianity, emphasis added)  

See the online version here:

Richard McBrien (Catholic)

Catholic priest, professor of theology, scholar, and author, McBrien, says:

“The ‘Donation of Constantine’ was included in the False Decretals… and Gratian’s Decretals… compiled by the monk John Gratian.  By the middle of the fifteenth century, the document’s authenticity was questioned… but in the meantime this document and the other spurious sources exercised enormous influence on medieval thought.” (Lives of the Popes, page 58 – emphasis added)

Peter De Rosa (Catholic)

A former Catholic priest who had access to the Vatican’s library records, De Rosa had this to say in his book:

“… the documents forged in Rome at this time were systematized in the mid-1100s at Bologna by Gratian, a Benedictine monk.  His Decretum, or Code of Canon Law, was easily the most influential book ever written by a Catholic.  It was peppered with three centuries of forgeries and conclusions drawn from them, with his own fictional additions.  Of the 324 passages he quotes from popes of the first four centuries, only eleven are genuine.” (Vicars of Christ, The Dark Side of the Papacy, page 60 – emphasis added)

Concerning the “Index of Forbidden Books,” De Rosa writes:

“The forgeries which had contributed to creating the papal system, such as the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals, the fabricated texts that fooled Gratian and Thomas Aquinas, were protected by the Index, at least until 1660 when a French scholar started telling the truth about them.  Naturally, he, too, was put on the Index.” (Ibid., page 174 – emphasis added)

And further:

“[Pope] Gregory [VII] went way beyond the Donation of Constantine.  He had a whole school of forgers under his very nose, turning out document after document, with the papal seal of approval, to cater for his every need… Many earlier documents were touched up to make them say the opposite of what they said originally.  Some of these earlier documents were themselves forgeries.  Hildebrand’s school treated all papers, forged or genuine, with a completely impartial dishonesty… This instant method of inventing history was marvellously successful, especially as the forgeries were at once inserted into canon law.  By innumerable subtle changes, they made Catholicism seem changeless.  They turned ‘today’ into ‘always was and always will be’, which even now, contrary to the findings of history, is the peculiar stamp of Catholicism.” (Ibid., page 59 – emphasis added)

Johann Joseph Ignaz von Dollinger (Catholic)

Outspoken Catholic priest, theologian, and church historian, von Dollinger was a brilliant and gifted speaker.  In his book on the papacy, he writes:

“But in the middle of that century – about 845 – arose the huge fabrication of the Isidorian decretals, which had results far beyond what its author contemplated, and gradually, but surely, changed the whole constitution and government of the church.  It would be difficult to find in all history a second instance of so successful, and yet so clumsy a forgery.” (The Pope and the Council, page 94 – emphasis added)

And also:

“But that the Pseudo-Isidorian principles eventually revolutionized the whole constitution of the Church, and introduced a new system in place of the old,-- on that point there can be no controversy among candid historians.” (Ibid. page 97-98 – emphasis added)

And further:

“The pseudo-Isidorian forgery of the middle of the ninth century has been already mentioned.  Rome, as we have seen, had no part in that, though she afterwards took full advantage of it for extending her power, the substance of these forgeries being incorporated into the canonical collections of the Gregorian party.” (Ibid. page 142 – emphasis added)

And again:

The most potent instrument of the new Papal system was Gratian’s Decretum… His work displaced all the older collections of canon law, and became the manual and repertory, not for canonists only, but for the scholastic theologians, who, for the most part, derived all their knowledge of Fathers and Councils from itNo book has ever come near it in its influence in the Church, although there is scarcely another so chokefull of gross errors, both intentional and unintentional. (Ibid. page 142-143 – emphasis added) 

And here:

“Up to the time of the Isidorian decretals no serious attempt was made anywhere to introduce the neo-Roman theory of Infallibility.  The popes did not dream of laying claim to such a privilege.  Their relation to the Church had to be fundamentally revolutionized, and the idea of the Primacy altered, before there could be any room for this doctrine to grow up; after that it developed itself by a sort of logical sequence, but very slowly, being at issue with notorious historical facts.” (Ibid. page 76-77 – emphasis added)

And this:

“For the first thousand years no pope ever issued a doctrinal decision intended for and addressed to the whole Church… They only became a standard of faith after being read, examined, and approved at an Ecumenical Council.” (Ibid. page 78)

And of Thomas Aquinas, von Dollinger wrote:

“St. Thomas, who knew no Greek, and, being educated in the Gregorian system, derived all his knowledge of ecclesiastical antiquity from Gratian, found himself at once in possession of this treasure of most weighty testimonies from the early centuries, which left no doubt in his mind that the great Councils and most influential bishops and theologians of the fourth and fifth centuries had recognized in the Pope an infallible monarch, who ruled the whole Church with absolute power.  He therefore did what the scholastics had never done before: he introduced the doctrine of the Pope and his infallibility, as he got it from these spurious passages, and often in the same words, into the dogmatic system of the Schola, - a step the gravity and momentous results of which can hardly be exaggerated.” (Ibid. page 265-266 – emphasis added)


In all these quotes from historians, scholars, theologians, priests and teachers, there is a common thread - and it is that these forgeries have greatly affected the evolution of the papacy.  

Much, much more can be said about individual popes and the wicked and corrupt lifestyles that some lived, and their power-hungry endeavors.  But that is not the purpose of this article.  Our purpose here is not to expose individual popes, but rather to demonstrate the effects and the impact that these forgeries had on the papacy.  And these forgeries have indeed caused the worldwide church’s view of Catholicism in general (and the papacy, in particular), to be far too exalted.  But the modern day concept of the papacy is not supported by Scripture, and now we can see that history is not on their side, either.

With all the Catholic talk about Peter being the solid “foundation” of the church and its “rock,” the papacy is actually built upon years of forgeries and lies; it is built upon a foundation of sand. (Matthew 7:24-27)