Tuesday, September 16, 2014

(So-called) "Church Fathers" on "upon this rock" in Matthew 16:18:


As regards the oft-quoted Mt. 16:18, note the bishops promise in the profession of faith of Vatican 1,

Likewise I accept Sacred Scripture according to that sense which Holy mother Church held and holds, since it is her right to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the holy scriptures; nor will I ever receive and interpret them except according to the unanimous consent of the fathers.http://mb-soft.com/believe/txs/firstvc.htm

Yet as the Dominican cardinal and Catholic theologian Yves Congar O.P. states,

Unanimous patristic consent as a reliable locus theologicus is classical in Catholic theology; it has often been declared such by the magisterium and its value in scriptural interpretation has been especially stressed. Application of the principle is difficult, at least at a certain level. In regard to individual texts of Scripture total patristic consensus is rare...One example: the interpretation of Peter’s confession in Matthew 16:16-18. Except at Rome, this passage was not applied by the Fathers to the papal primacy; they worked out an exegesis at the level of their own ecclesiological thought, more anthropological and spiritual than juridical. — Yves M.-J. Congar, O.P., p. 71

And Catholic archbishop Peter Richard Kenrick (1806-1896), while yet seeking to support Peter as the rock, stated that,

“If we are bound to follow the majority of the fathers in this thing, then we are bound to hold for certain that by the rock should be understood the faith professed by Peter, not Peter professing the faith.” — Speech of archbishop Kenkick, p. 109; An inside view of the vatican council, edited by Leonard Woolsey Bacon.
 
The   CCC itself allows the interpretation that, “On the rock of this faith confessed by St Peter, Christ build his Church,” (pt. 1, sec. 2, cp. 2, para. 424), for some of the ancients (for what their opinion is worth) provided for this or other interpretations.

• Ambrosiaster [who elsewhere upholds Peter as being the chief apostle to whom the Lord had entrusted the care of the Church, but not superior to Paul as an apostle except in time], Eph. 2:20:

Wherefore the Lord says to Peter: 'Upon this rock I shall build my Church,' that is, upon this confession of the catholic faith I shall establish the faithful in life. — Ambrosiaster, Commentaries on Galatians—Philemon, Eph. 2:20; Gerald L. Bray, p. 42


• Augustine, sermon:

"Christ, you see, built his Church not on a man but on Peter's confession. What is Peter's confession? 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' There's the rock for you, there's the foundation, there's where the Church has been built, which the gates of the underworld cannot conquer.John Rotelle, O.S.A., Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine , © 1993 New City Press, Sermons, Vol III/6, Sermon 229P.1, p. 327 
 
Upon this rock, said the Lord, I will build my Church. Upon this confession, upon this that you said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,' I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not conquer her (Mt. 16:18). — John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New Rochelle: New City, 1993) Sermons, Volume III/7, Sermon 236A.3, p. 48.

Augustine, sermon:

For petra (rock) is not derived from Peter, but Peter from petra; just as Christ is not called so from the Christian, but the Christian from Christ. For on this very account the Lord said, 'On this rock will I build my Church,' because Peter had said, 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.' On this rock, therefore, He said, which thou hast confessed, I will build my Church. For the Rock (Petra) was Christ; and on this foundation was Peter himself built. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus. The Church, therefore, which is founded in Christ received from Him the keys of the kingdom of heaven in the person of Peter, that is to say, the power of binding and loosing sins. For what the Church is essentially in Christ, such representatively is Peter in the rock (petra); and in this representation Christ is to be understood as the Rock, Peter as the Church. — Augustine Tractate CXXIV; Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: First Series, Volume VII Tractate CXXIV (http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf107.iii.cxxv.html)

Augustine, sermon:

And Peter, one speaking for the rest of them, one for all, said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God (Mt 16:15-16)...And I tell you: you are Peter; because I am the rock, you are Rocky, Peter-I mean, rock doesn't come from Rocky, but Rocky from rock, just as Christ doesn't come from Christian, but Christian from Christ; and upon this rock I will build my Church (Mt 16:17-18); not upon Peter, or Rocky, which is what you are, but upon the rock which you have confessed. I will build my Church though; I will build you, because in this answer of yours you represent the Church. — John Rotelle, O.S.A. Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New Rochelle: New City Press, 1993), Sermons, Volume III/7, Sermon 270.2, p. 289

Augustine, sermon:

Peter had already said to him, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' He had already heard, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona, because flesh and blood did not reveal it to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the underworld shall not conquer her' (Mt 16:16-18)...Christ himself was the rock, while Peter, Rocky, was only named from the rock. That's why the rock rose again, to make Peter solid and strong; because Peter would have perished, if the rock hadn't lived. — John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New Rochelle: New City, 1993) Sermons, Volume III/7, Sermon 244.1, p. 95
 
Augustine, sermon:

...because on this rock, he said, I will build my Church, and the gates of the underworld shall not overcome it (Mt. 16:18). Now the rock was Christ (1 Cor. 10:4). Was it Paul that was crucified for you? Hold on to these texts, love these texts, repeat them in a fraternal and peaceful manner. — John Rotelle, Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New Rochelle: New City Press, 1995), Sermons, Volume III/10, Sermon 358.5, p. 193

Augustine, Psalm LXI:

Let us call to mind the Gospel: 'Upon this Rock I will build My Church.' Therefore She crieth from the ends of the earth, whom He hath willed to build upon a Rock. But in order that the Church might be builded upon the Rock, who was made the Rock? Hear Paul saying: 'But the Rock was Christ.' On Him therefore builded we have been. — Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Volume VIII, Saint Augustin, Exposition on the Book of Psalms, Psalm LXI.3, p. 249. (http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf108.ii.LXI.html)

• Augustine, in “Retractions,”

In a passage in this book, I said about the Apostle Peter: 'On him as on a rock the Church was built.'...But I know that very frequently at a later time, I so explained what the Lord said: 'Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church,' that it be understood as built upon Him whom Peter confessed saying: 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,' and so Peter, called after this rock, represented the person of the Church which is built upon this rock, and has received 'the keys of the kingdom of heaven.' For, 'Thou art Peter' and not 'Thou art the rock' was said to him. But 'the rock was Christ,' in confessing whom, as also the whole Church confesses, Simon was called Peter. But let the reader decide which of these two opinions is the more probable. — The Fathers of the Church (Washington D.C., Catholic University, 1968), Saint Augustine, The Retractations Chapter 20.1:.

Basil of Seleucia, Oratio 25:

'You are Christ, Son of the living God.'...Now Christ called this confession a rock, and he named the one who confessed it 'Peter,' perceiving the appellation which was suitable to the author of this confession. For this is the solemn rock of religion, this the basis of salvation, this the wall of faith and the foundation of truth: 'For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus.' To whom be glory and power forever. — Oratio XXV.4, M.P.G., Vol. 85, Col. 296-297.

Bede, Matthaei Evangelium Expositio, 3:

You are Peter and on this rock from which you have taken your name, that is, on myself, I will build my Church, upon that perfection of faith which you confessed I will build my Church by whose society of confession should anyone deviate although in himself he seems to do great things he does not belong to the building of my Church...Metaphorically it is said to him on this rock, that is, the Saviour which you confessed, the Church is to be built, who granted participation to the faithful confessor of his name. — 80Homily 23, M.P.L., Vol. 94, Col. 260. Cited by Karlfried Froehlich, Formen, Footnote #204, p. 156 [unable to verify by me].

• Cassiodorus, Psalm 45.5:

'It will not be moved' is said about the Church to which alone that promise has been given: 'You are Peter and upon this rock I shall build my Church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.' For the Church cannot be moved because it is known to have been founded on that most solid rock, namely, Christ the Lord. — Expositions in the Psalms, Volume 1; Volume 51, Psalm 45.5, p. 455
 
Chrysostom (John) [who affirmed Peter was a rock, but here not the rock in Mt. 16:18]: 
 
Therefore He added this, 'And I say unto thee, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church; that is, on the faith of his confession. — Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Matthew, Homily LIIl; Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf110.iii.LII.html)

Cyril of Alexandria:

When [Peter] wisely and blamelessly confessed his faith to Jesus saying, 'You are Christ, Son of the living God,' Jesus said to divine Peter: 'You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church.' Now by the word 'rock', Jesus indicated, I think, the immoveable faith of the disciple.”. — Cyril Commentary on Isaiah 4.2
 
Origen, Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Book XII):

“For a rock is every disciple of Christ of whom those drank who drank of the spiritual rock which followed them, 1 Corinthians 10:4 and upon every such rock is built every word of the church, and the polity in accordance with it; for in each of the perfect, who have the combination of words and deeds and thoughts which fill up the blessedness, is the church built by God.'

“For all bear the surname ‘rock’ who are the imitators of Christ, that is, of the spiritual rock which followed those who are being saved, that they may drink from it the spiritual draught. But these bear the surname of rock just as Christ does. But also as members of Christ deriving their surname from Him they are called Christians, and from the rock, Peters.” — Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Book XII), sect. 10,11 

Hilary of Potier, On the Trinity (Book II): Thus our one immovable foundation, our one blissful rock of faith, is the confession from Peter's mouth, Thou art the Son of the living God. On it we can base an answer to every objection with which perverted ingenuity or embittered treachery may assail the truth."-- (Hilary of Potier, On the Trinity (Book II), para 23; Philip Schaff, editor, The Nicene & Post Nicene Fathers Series 2, Vol 9.

Finally, while the historical evidence against the Roman Catholic papacy being part of the New Testment church is substantial, and is unsupported in Scripture, the fact is that history,Tradition and Scripture  only authoritatively mean what Rome says they mean. Thus faced with historical  challenge from Reformers, no  less a weighty RC scholar as Manning states, 

It was the charge of the Reformers that the Catholic doctrines were not primitive, and their pretension was to revert to antiquity. But the appeal to antiquity is both a treason and a heresy. It is a treason because it rejects the Divine voice of the Church at this hour, and a heresy because it denies that voice to be Divine...

I may say in strict truth that the Church has no antiquity. It rests upon its own supernatural and perpetual consciousness. Its past is present with it, for both are one to a mind which is immutable. Primitive and modern are predicates, not of truth, but of ourselves.
Most Rev. Dr. Henry Edward Cardinal Manning, Lord Archbishop of Westminster, The Temporal Mission of the Holy Ghost: Or Reason and Revelation (New York: J.P. Kenedy & Sons, originally written 1865, pp. 227,28

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Deformation of the NT church, and the Historical Context of the Reformation

The Deformation of the New Testament church and Historical Context of the Reformation.
The following compiles material from other posts, “Things the New Testament church did not have, as seen in Scripture,” and “Catholic and other modern research on apostolic successors to Peter,” as well as other material, by the grace of God
Table of Contents
Critical and other contrasts between the New Testament church and the church of Rome.
Historical testimony to the progressive deformation of the church
The context of the Reformation
 
Critical and other contrasts between the New Testament church and the church of Rome.
It is obvious that the church (as the body of Christ) of today stands in contrast to the prima NT church in purity, power and passion, and which saw its unity under manifest apostles of God. Yet the deformation of the NT church was progressive, and which finally reached the point which required the Reformation, which itself was and is not the “work of one day or two.” (Ezra 10:13)
This reform was and is far from perfect and complete, and still has things to unlearn from Catholicism, yet it enabled the greatest modern increase in the kingdom of God of souls through manifest regeneration.
But while much can be said about the state of the evangelical church today (and of my need for Christ-likeness), yet it is Catholicism and the church of Rome in particular (as the church taking up the most space on the broad way) that is most manifest as standing in critical and overall contrast to the NT church as manifested in Scripture. Which church,
1. Was not based upon the premise of perpetual assured infallibility of office as per Rome, which has presumed to infallibly declare that she is and will perpetually be infallible whenever she speaks in accordance with her infallibly defined (scope and subject-based) formula, which renders her declaration that she is infallible, to be infallible, as well as all else she accordingly declares.
2. Never promised or taught a perpetual assuredly infallible magisterium was necessary for preservation of truth, including writings to be established as Scripture, and for assurance of faith, and that historical descent and being the stewards of Scripture assured that such had assured infallibility.
3. Never was a church that manifested the Lord's supper as being the central means of grace, around which all else revolved, it being “the source and summit of the Christian faith” in which “the work of our redemption is accomplished,” by which one received spiritual life in themselves by consuming human flesh, so that without which eating one cannot have eternal life (as per RC literalism, of Jn. 6:53,54). In contrast to believing the gospel by which one is regenerated, (Acts 10:43-47; 15:7-9; Eph. 1:13) and desiring the milk (1Pt. 2:2) and then the “strong meat” (Heb. 5:12-14) of the word of God, being “nourished” (1Tim. 4:6) by hearing the word of God and letting it dwell in them, (Col. 3:16) by which word (Scriptures) man is to live by, (Mt. 4:4) as Christ lived by the Father, (Jn. 6:57) doing His will being His “meat.” (Jn. 4:34) And with the Lord's supper, which is only manifestly described once in the life of the church, focusing on the church being the body of Christ in showing the Lord sacrificial death by that communal meal.
4. Never had any pastors titled "priests" as they did not engage in any unique sacrificial function, that of turning bread into human flesh and dispensing it to the people, or even dispensing bread as their primary ordained function, versus preaching the word. (2Tim. 4:2)
5. Never differentiated between bishops and elders, and with grand titles ("Most Reverend Eminence," “Very Reverend,” “Most Illustrious and Most Reverend Lord,” “His Eminence Cardinal,” “The Most Reverend the Archbishop,” etc.) or made themselves distinct by their ostentatious pompous garb. (Matthew 23:5-7) Or were all to be formally called “father” as that would require them to be spiritual fathers to all (Mt. 23:8-10 is a form of hyperbole, reproving the love of titles such as Catholicism examples, and “thinking of men above that which is written, and instead the Lord emphasizes the One Father of all who are born of the Spirit, whom He Himself worked to glorify).
6. Never required clerical celibacy as the norm, (1Tim. 3:17) which presumes all such have that gift, (1Cor. 7:7) or otherwise manifested that celibacy was the norm among apostles and pastors, or had vowed to be so. (1Cor. 9:4; Titus 1:5,6)
7. Never taught that Peter was the "rock" of Mt. 16:18 upon which the church is built, interpreting Mt. 16:18, rather than upon the rock of the faith confessed by Peter, thus Christ Himself. (For in contrast to Peter, that the LORD Jesus is the Rock (“petra”) or "stone" (“lithos,” and which denotes a large rock in Mk. 16:4) upon which the church is built is one of the most abundantly confirmed doctrines in the Bible (petra: Rm. 9:33; 1Cor. 10:4; 1Pet. 2:8; cf. Lk. 6:48; 1Cor. 3:11; lithos: Mat. 21:42; Mk.12:10-11; Lk. 20:17-18; Act. 4:11; Rm. 9:33; Eph. 2:20; cf. Dt. 32:4, Is. 28:16) including by Peter himself. (1Pt. 2:4-8) Rome's current catechism attempts to have Peter himself as the rock as well, but also affirms: “On the rock of this faith confessed by St Peter, Christ build his Church,” (pt. 1, sec. 2, cp. 2, para. 424) which understanding some of the so-called “church fathers” concur with.)
8. Never taught or exampled that all the churches were to look to Peter as the bishop of Rome, as the first of a line of supreme heads reigning over all the churches, and having the last word in questions affecting the whole Church.
9. Never recorded or taught any apostolic successors (like for James: Acts 12:1,2) after Judas who was to maintain the original 12: Rv. 21:14) or elected any apostolic successors by voting, versus casting lots (no politics). (Acts 1:15ff)
10. Never recorded or manifested (not by conjecture) sprinkling or baptism without repentant personal faith, that being the stated requirement for baptism. (Acts 2:38; 8:36-38)
11. Never preached a gospel of salvation which begins with becoming good enough inside (formally justified due to infused interior charity), via sprinkling (RC "baptism") in recognition of proxy faith, and which thus usually ends with becoming good enough again to enter Heaven via suffering in purgatory, commencing at death.
12. Never supported or made laws that restricted personal reading of Scripture by laity (contrary to Chrysostom), if able and available, sometimes even outlawing it when it was.
13. Never used the sword of men to deal with its theological dissenters.
14. Never taught that the deity Muslims worship (who is not as an "unknown god") is the same as theirs.
15. Never had a separate class of believers called “saints.”
16. Never prayed to anyone in Heaven but the Lord, or were instructed to (i.e. "our Mother who art in Heaven") who were able to hear and respond to virtually unlimited prayers addressed to them (a uniquely Divine attribute in Scripture).
17. Never recorded a women who never sinned, and was a perpetual virgin despite being married (contrary to the normal description of marriage, as in leaving and sexually cleaving) and who would be bodily assumed to Heaven and exalted (officially or with implicit sanction) as
• an almost almighty demigoddess to whom "Jesus owes His Precious Blood" to,
• whose [Mary] merits we are saved by,
• who "had to suffer, as He did, all the consequences of sin,"
• and was bodily assumed into Heaven, which is a fact (unsubstantiated in Scripture or even early Tradition) because the Roman church says it is, and "was elevated to a certain affinity with the Heavenly Father,"
• and whose power now "is all but unlimited,"
• for indeed she "seems to have the same power as God,"
• "surpassing in power all the angels and saints in Heaven,"
• so that "the Holy Spirit acts only by the Most Blessed Virgin, his Spouse."
• and that “sometimes salvation is quicker if we remember Mary's name then if we invoked the name of the Lord Jesus,"
• for indeed saints have "but one advocate," and that is Mary, who "alone art truly loving and solicitous for our salvation,"
• Moreover, "there is no grace which Mary cannot dispose of as her own, which is not given to her for this purpose,"
• and who has "authority over the angels and the blessed in heaven,"
• including "assigning to saints the thrones made vacant by the apostate angels,"
• whom the good angels "unceasingly call out to," greeting her "countless times each day with 'Hail, Mary,' while prostrating themselves before her, begging her as a favour to honour them with one of her requests,"
• and who (obviously) cannot "be honored to excess,"
and who is (obviously) the glory of Catholic people, whose "honor and dignity surpass the whole of creation." Sources and more .
Historical testimony to the progressive deformation of the church
In the past Rome has made claims such as, “The Roman Church...by the will of Christ obtains primacy of jurisdiction over all other Churches. These declarations were preceded by the consent of antiquity which ever acknowledged, without the slightest doubt or hesitation, the Bishops of Rome, and revered them, as the legitimate successors of St. Peter.” (Satis Cognitum, encyclical of Pope Leo XII, June 29, 1896)
And,
“Only faith can recognize that the Church possesses these properties from her divine source. But their historical manifestations are signs that also speak clearly to human reason. As the First Vatican Council noted, the "Church herself, with her marvelous propagation, eminent holiness, and inexhaustible fruitfulness in everything good, her catholic unity and invincible stability, is a great and perpetual motive of credibility and an irrefutable witness of her divine mission.” (CCC 812; http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p123a9p3.htm)
However, both Catholic scholarship and research from without provides evidence contrary to such propaganda, and instead supplies testimony to the progressive deformation of the church, and contrary to the premise of a perpetuated assuredly infallible (if conditional) Petrine papacy, from which her authority flows.
• Paul Johnson, educated at the Jesuit independent school Stonyhurst College, and at Magdalen College, Oxford, author of over 40 books and a conservative popular historian, finds,
The Church was now a great and numerous force in the empire, attracting men of wealth and high education, inevitably, then, there occurred a change of emphasis from purely practical development in response to need, to the deliberate thinking out of policy. This expressed itself in two ways: the attempt to turn Christianity into a philosophical and political system, and the development of controlling devices to prevent this intellectualization of the faith from destroying it. The twin process began to operate in the early and middle decades of the third century, with Origen epitomizing the first element and Cyprian the second.
The effect of Origen’s work was to create a new science, biblical theology, whereby every sentence in the scriptures was systematically explored for hidden [much prone to metaphorical] meanings, different layers of meanings, allegory and so forth.....
Cyprian [c. 200 – September 14, 258] came from a wealthy family with a tradition of public service to the empire; within two years of his conversion he was made a bishop. He had to face the practical problems of persecution, survival and defence against attack. His solution was to gather together the developing threads of ecclesiastical order and authority and weave them into a tight system of absolute control...the confession of faith, even the Bible itself lost their meaning if used outside the Church.
With Cyprian, then, the freedom preached by Paul and based on the power of Christian truth was removed from the ordinary members of the Church, it was retained only by the bishops, through whom the Holy Spirit still worked, who were collectively delegated to represent the totality of Church members...With Bishop Cyprian, the analogy with secular government came to seem very close. But of course it lacked one element: the ‘emperor figure’ or supreme priest...
[Peter according to Cyprian was] the beneficiary of the famous ‘rock and keys’ text in Matthew. There is no evidence that Rome exploited this text to assert its primacy before about 250 - and then...Paul was eliminated from any connection with the Rome episcopate and the office was firmly attached to Peter alone...
...There was in consequence a loss of spirituality or, as Paul would have put it, of freedom... -(A History of Christianity, by Paul Johnson, pp. 51 -61,63. transcribed using OCR software)
Roman church’s past was also being reinvented for polemical purposes.
• Johnson also writes,
Eusebius presents the lists as evidence that orthodoxy had a continuous tradition from the earliest times in all the great Episcopal sees and that all the heretical movements were subsequent aberrations from the mainline of Christianity.
Looking behind the lists, however, a different picture emerges. In Edessa, on the edge of the Syrian desert, the proofs of the early establishment of Christianity were forgeries, almost certainly manufactured under Bishop Kune, the first orthodox Bishop, and actually a contemporary of Eusebius...
Orthodoxy was not established [In Egypt] until the time of Bishop Demetrius, 189-231, who set up a number of other sees and manufactured a genealogical tree for his own bishopric of Alexandria, which traces the foundation through ten mythical predecessors back to Mark, and so to Peter and Jesus...
Even in Antioch, where both Peter and Paul had been active, there seems to have been confusion until the end of the second century. Antioch completely lost their list...When Eusebius’s chief source for his Episcopal lists, Julius Africanus, tried to compile one for Antioch, he found only six names to cover the same period of time as twelve in Rome and ten in Alexandria. (“A History of Christianity,” pgs 53ff; http://reformation500.com/2014/01/17/historical-literature-on-the-earliest-papacy)
• English medievalist and critical Catholic researcher Roger J. H. Collins, writing of the Symmachan forgeries”, describes these “pro-Roman” “enhancements” to history:
So too would the spurious historical texts written anonymously or ascribed to earlier authors that are known collectively as the Symmachan forgeries. This was the first occasion on which the Roman church had revisited its own history, in particular the third and fourth centuries, in search of precedents That these were largely invented does not negate the significance of the process...Some of the periods in question, such as the pontificates of Sylvester and Liberius (352-366), were already being seen more through the prism of legend than that of history, and in the Middle Ages texts were often forged because their authors were convinced of the truth of what they contained. Their faked documents provided tangible evidence of what was already believed true...
It is no coincidence that the first systematic works of papal history appear at the very time the Roman church’s past was being reinvented for polemical purposes. (Collins, “Keepers of the Keys of Heaven, A History of the Papacy” pp 80-82).
Klaus Schatz [Jesuit Father theologian, professor of church history at the St. George’s Philosophical and Theological School in Frankfurt] in his work, “Papal Primacy ,” pp. 1-4, finds:
“New Testament scholars agree..., The further question whether there was any notion of an enduring office beyond Peter’s lifetime, if posed in purely historical terms, should probably be answered in the negative.
That is, if we ask whether the historical Jesus, in commissioning Peter, expected him to have successors, or whether the authority of the Gospel of Matthew, writing after Peter’s death, was aware that Peter and his commission survived in the leaders of the Roman community who succeeded him, the answer in both cases is probably 'no.”
“....that does not mean that the figure and the commission of the Peter of the New Testament did not encompass the possibility, if it is projected into a Church enduring for centuries and concerned in some way to to secure its ties to its apostolic origins and to Jesus himself.
If we ask in addition whether the primitive church was aware, after Peter’s death, that his authority had passed to the next bishop of Rome, or in other words that the head of the community at Rome was now the successor of Peter, the Church’s rock and hence the subject of the promise in Matthew 16:18-19, the question, put in those terms, must certainly be given a negative answer.” (page 1-2)
[Schatz goes on to express that he does not doubt Peter was martyred in Rome, and that Christians in the 2nd century were convinced that Vatican Hill had something to do with Peter's grave.]
"Nevertheless, concrete claims of a primacy over the whole church cannot be inferred from this conviction. If one had asked a Christian in the year 100, 200, or even 300 whether the bishop of Rome was the head of all Christians, or whether there was a supreme bishop over all the other bishops and having the last word in questions affecting the whole Church, he or she would certainly have said no." (page 3, top)
[Lacking such support for the modern concept of the primacy of the church of Rome with its papal jurisdiction, Schatz concludes that, “Therefore we must set aside from the outset any question such as 'was there a primacy in our sense of the word at that time?” Schatz. therefore goes on to seek support for that as a development.]
“We probably cannot say for certain that there was a bishop of Rome [in 95 AD]. It is likely that the Roman church was governed by a group of presbyters from whom there very quickly emerged a presider or ‘first among equals’ whose name was remembered and who was subsequently described as ‘bishop’ after the mid-second century.” (Schatz 4).
Schatz additionally states,
Cyprian regarded every bishop as the successor of Peter, holder of the keys to the kingdom of heaven and possessor of the power to bind and loose. For him, Peter embodied the original unity of the Church and the episcopal office, but in principle these were also present in every bishop. For Cyprian, responsibility for the whole Church and the solidarity of all bishops could also, if necessary, be turned against Rome." — Papal Primacy [Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1996], p. 20)
• Roman Catholic scholar William La Due (taught canon law at St. Francis Seminary and the Catholic University of America) on Cyprian:
....those who see in The Unity of the Catholic Church, in the light of his entire episcopal life, an articulation of the Roman primacy - as we have come to know it, or even as it has evolved especially from the latter fourth century on - are reading a meaning into Cyprian which is not there." (The Chair of Saint Peter: A History of the Papacy [Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1999], p. 39
• Catholic theologian and a Jesuit priest Francis Sullivan, in his work From Apostles to Bishops (New York: The Newman Press), examines possible mentions of “succession” from the first three centuries, and concludes from that study that,
“the episcopate [development of bishops] is a the fruit of a post New Testament development,” and cannot concur with those (interacting with Jones) who see little reason to doubt the notion that there was a single bishop in Rome through the middle of the second century:
Hence I stand with the majority of scholars who agree that one does not find evidence in the New Testament to support the theory that the apostles or their coworkers left [just] one person as “bishop” in charge of each local church...
As the reader will recall, I have expressed agreement with the consensus of scholars that available evidence indicates that the church of Rome was led by a college of presbyters, rather than a single bishop, for at least several decades of the second century...
Hence I cannot agree with Jones's judgment that there seems little reason to doubt the presence of a bishop in Rome already in the first century.
...the evidence both from the New Testament and from such writings as I Clement, the Letter of Polycarp to the Philippians and The Shepherd of Hennas favors the view that initially the presbyters in each church, as a college, possessed all the powers needed for effective ministry. This would mean that the apostles handed on what was transmissible of their mandate as an undifferentiated whole, in which the powers that would eventually be seen as episcopal were not yet distinguished from the rest. Hence, the development of the episcopate would have meant the differentiation of ministerial powers that had previously existed in an undifferentiated state and the consequent reservation to the bishop of certain of the powers previously held collegially by the presbyters. — Francis Sullivan, in his work From Apostles to Bishops , pp. 221,222,224
The research of esteemed historian Peter Lampe* (Lutheran) also weighs against Rome:
The picture that finally emerges from Lampe’s analysis of surviving evidence is one he names ‘the fractionation of Roman Christianity’ (pp. 357–408). Not until the second half of the second century, under Anicetus, do we find compelling evidence for a monarchical episcopacy, and when it emerges, it is to manage relief shipments to dispersed Christians as well as social aid for the Roman poor (pp. 403–4). Before this period Roman Christians were ‘fractionated’ amongst dispersed house/tenement churches, each presided over by its own presbyter–bishop. This accounts for the evidence of social and theological diversity in second-century Roman Christianity, evidence of a degree of tolerance of theologically disparate groups without a single authority to regulate belief and practice, and the relatively late appearance of unambiguous representation of a single bishop over Rome. (Review of “Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries,” by Peter Lampe in Oxford’s Journal of Theological Studies, 2005)
(*Peter Lampe is a German Lutheran minister and theologian and Professor of New Testament Studies at the University of Heidelberg, whose work, “From Paul to Valentinus: Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries,” was written in 1987 and translated to English in 2003. The Catholic historian Eamon Duffy (Irish Professor of the History of Christianity at the University of Cambridge, and former President of Magdalene College), said “all modern discussion of the issues must now start from the exhaustive and persuasive analysis by Peter Lampe” — Saints and Sinners,” “A History of the Popes,” Yale, 1997, 2001, pg. 421).
Roman Catholic [if liberal and critical] Garry Wills, Professor of History Emeritus, Northwestern U., author of “Why i am a Catholic,” states,
"The idea that Peter was given some special power that could be handed on to a successor runs into the problem that he had no successor. The idea that there is an "apostolic succession" to Peter's fictional episcopacy did not arise for several centuries, at which time Peter and others were retrospectively called bishops of Rome, to create an imagined succession. Even so, there has not been an unbroken chain of popes. Two and three claimants existed at times, and when there were three of them each excommunicating the other two, they all had to be dethroned and the Council of Carthage started the whole thing over again in 1417." — WHAT JESUS MEANT, p. 81
American Roman Catholic priest and Biblical scholar Raymond Brown (twice appointed to Pontifical Biblical Commission), finds,
The claims of various sees to descend from particular members of the Twelve are highly dubious. It is interesting that the most serious of these is the claim of the bishops of Rome to descend from Peter, the one member of the Twelve who was almost a missionary apostle in the Pauline sense – a confirmation of our contention that whatever succession there was from apostleship to episcopate, it was primarily in reference to the Puauline tyupe of apostleship, not that of the Twelve.” (“Priest and Bishop, Biblical Reflections,” Nihil Obstat, Imprimatur, 1970, pg 72.)
Thus while more will follow, both the idea of the church looking for a supreme exalted infallible pope in Rome, as well as successors of this Peter is contrary to historical evidence. Yet Catholic theology makes denial of her papacy into a denial of the authority of the church. But the reality is that church of Rome is an invisible church in Scripture.
Catholics thus try to argue that the reason for the cloaking of this papacy is due to it not being contested, likening it to the doctrine of the Trinity, as Newman does, yet in so doing he admits what before would be considered heretical :
While Apostles were on earth, there was the display neither of Bishop nor Pope; their power had no prominence, as being exercised by Apostles. In course of time, first the power of the Bishop displayed itself, and then the power of the Pope. . . . St. Peter’s prerogative would remain a mere letter, till the complication of ecclesiastical matters became the cause of ascertaining it. . . . When the Church, then, was thrown upon her own resources, first local disturbances gave exercise to Bishops, and next ecumenical disturbances gave exercise to Popes; and whether communion with the Pope was necessary for Catholicity would not and could not be debated till a suspension of that communion had actually occurred….there was no formal acknowledgment of the doctrine of the Trinity till the Fourth [century]. (Essay on the Development of Doctrine, Notre Dame edition, pp. 165-67).
But which argument is specious. For it is clear that God is infallible, almighty and eternal by nature, and that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are explicitly and implicitly referred to as God in word and in deed, with Christ especially having uniquely Divine attributes, glory and titles ascribed to Him, even though the Trinity was only later precisely and formally formulated as a doctrine in the NT.
In contrast, the manner of corporate leadership of the people of God in Scripture has always been made manifest, and while Peter is manifest as being the street-level leader among brethren, and the first to use the “keys” to the kingdom of God, that being the gospel, and who exercised a general pastoral role, but who could fail, yet nowhere is he presented as being the supreme exalted infallible head whom the church looked as such, much less in Rome. Nor is there any manifest successor for any apostle after Judas, or preparations for one, much allowance for legitimate successors being men who would not even meet the qualifications for being a church member, let alone a supreme head. See here on The Peter of Scripture versus that of Rome.
Further deformation of the church is seen under Damasus 1 (366-384) who began his reign by employing a gang of thugs in seeking to secure his chair, which carried out a three-day massacre of his rivals supporters. Yet true to form, Rome made him a "saint."
• Upon Pope Liberius's death September 24 A.D. 366, violent disorders broke out over the choice of a successor. A group who had remained consistently loyal to Liberius immediately elected his deacon Ursinus in the Julian basilica and had him consecrated Bishop, but the rival faction of Felix's adherence elected Damasus, who did not hesitate to consolidate his claim by hiring a gang of thugs, storming the Julian Basilica in carrying out a three-day massacre of the Ursinians.
On Sunday, October 1 his partisans seized the Lateran Basilica, and he was there consecrated. He then sought the help of the city prefect (the first occasion of a Pope in enlisting the civil power against his adversaries), and he promptly expelled Ursinus and his followers from Rome. Mob violence continued until October 26, when Damasus's men attacked the Liberian Basilica, where the Ursinians had sought refuge; the pagan historian Ammianus Marcellinus reports that they left 137 dead on the field. Damasus was now secure on his throne; but the bishops of Italy were shocked by the reports they received, and his moral authority was weakened for several years....
Damasus was indefatigable in promoting the Roman primacy, frequently referring to Rome as 'the apostolic see' and ruling that the test of a creed's orthodoxy was its endorsement by the Pope.... This [false claim to] succession gave him a unique [presumptuous claim to] judicial power to bind and loose, and the assurance of this infused all his rulings on church discipline. — Kelly, J. N. D. (1989). The Oxford Dictionary of Popes. USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 32 ,34;
Eamon Duffy (Pontifical Historical Commission, Professor of the History of Christianity at the University of Cambridge, and former President of Magdalene College) states: “Self-consciously, the popes began to model their actions and their style as Christian leaders on the procedures of the Roman state”. — Eamon Duffy notes (“Saints and Sinners”, ©2001 edition)
Eastern Orthodox scholarship also adds voice to this,
It is illuminating to understand that even some very illustrious Roman Catholic theologians today recognize that the Papacy as it now exists is of late origin. W. DeVries admits, “...throughout the first ten centuries Rome never claimed to have been granted its preferred position of jurisdiction as an explicit privilege” (Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism by Methodios Fouyas, p. 70). Avery Dulles considers the development of the Papacy to be an historical accident. “The strong centralization in modern Catholicism is due to historical accident. It has been shaped in part by the homogeneous culture of medieval Europe and by the dominance of Rome, with its rich heritage of classical culture and legal organization” (Models of the Church by Avery Dulles, p. 200) http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/ecumenical/maxwell_peter.htm
 
Pope Gregory was concerned that the Patriarch of Constantinople, St. John the Faster, had accepted the title of Ecumenical (or Universal) Patriarch. He condemned any such title for the following reasons: 

First, anyone who would use such a title would have fallen into pride, equal to the anti-Christ. He wrote: “I say it without the least hesitation, whoever calls himself the universal bishop, or desires this title, is by his pride, the precursor of anti-Christ, because he thus attempts to raise himself above the others. The error into which he falls springs from pride equal to that of anti-Christ; for as that wicked one wished to be regarded as exalted above other men, like a god, so likewise whoever would call himself sole bishop exalteth himself above others” (Ibid., 226). 

Second, St. Gregory believed that such a title would be perilous to the Church. “It cannot be denied that if any one bishop be called universal, all the Church crumbles if that universal one fall” (Ibid., p. 223). 

It is illuminating to understand that even some very illustrious Roman Catholic theologians today recognize that the Papacy as it now exists is of late origin. W. DeVries admits, 

“...throughout the first ten centuries Rome never claimed to have been granted its preferred position of jurisdiction as an explicit privilege” (Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism by Methodios Fouyas, p. 70). 

Avery Dulles considers the development of the Papacy to be an historical accident. “The strong centralization in modern Catholicism is due to historical accident. It has been shaped in part by the homogeneous culture of medieval Europe and by the dominance of Rome, with its rich heritage of classical culture and legal organization” (Models of the Church by Avery Dulles, p. 200) http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/ecumenical/maxwell_peter.htm

Also, Archbishop Roland Minnerath, who was a contributor to the Vatican’s 1989 Historical and Theological Symposium, which was directed by the Vatican’s Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, at the request of the then Cardinal Ratzinger’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on the theme: “The Primacy of the Bishop of Rome in the First Millennium: Research and Evidence,” states,
At the heart of the estrangement that progressively arose between East and West, there may be a historical misunderstanding. The East never shared the Petrine theology as elaborated in the West. It never accepted that the protos in the universal church could claim to be the unique successor or vicar of Peter. So the East assumed that the synodal constitution of the church would be jeopardized by the very existence of a Petrine office with potentially universal competencies in the government of the church. (in How Can the Petrine Ministry Be a Service to the Unity of the Universal Church? James F. Puglisi, Editor, Grand Rapids, MI and Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, ©2010, pgs. 34-48). http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2011/06/archbishop-says-eastern-orthodox-never.html
Moreover,
The sixth century found Rome sunk too low by war and pestilence for many churches to be built; but at this time took place the transformation of ancient buildings into Christian shrines. Instead of despising the relics of paganism, the Roman priesthood prudently gathered to themselves all that could be adopted from the old world. Gregorovius remarks that the Christian religion had grown up side by side with the empire, which this new power was ready to replace when the Emperor withdrew to the East.
The Bishop of Rome assumed the position of Ponlifex Maximus, priest and temporal ruler in one, and the workings of this so-called spiritual kingdom, with bishops as senators, and priests as leaders of the army, followed on much the same lines as the empire. The analogy was more complete when monasteries were founded and provinces were won and governed by the Church. - Welbore St. Clair Baddeley, Lina Duff Gordon, “Rome and its story” p. 176
"We are told in various ways by Eusebius [Note 16], that Constantine, in order to recommend the new religion to the heathen, transferred into it the outward ornaments to which they had been accustomed in their own. It is not necessary to go into a subject which the diligence of Protestant writers has made familiar to most of us. The use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints, and ornamented on occasions with branches of trees; incense, lamps, and candles; votive offerings on recovery from illness; holy water; asylums; holydays and seasons, use of calendars, processions, blessings on the fields; sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure, the ring in marriage, turning to the East, images at a later date, perhaps the ecclesiastical chant, and the Kyrie Eleison [Note 17], are all of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the Church. {374} 
Greeks dedicate images to devils, and call them gods; but we to True God Incarnate, and to God's servants and friends, who drive away the troops of devils." [Note 18] Again, "As the holy Fathers overthrew the temples and shrines of the devils, and raised in their places shrines in the {377} names of Saints and we worship them, so also they overthrew the images of the devils, and in their stead raised images of Christ, and God's Mother, and the Saints. And under the Old Covenant, Israel neither raised temples in the name of men, nor was memory of man made a festival; for, as yet, man's nature was under a curse, and death was condemnation, and therefore was lamented, and a corpse was reckoned unclean and he who touched it; but now that the Godhead has been combined with our nature, as some life-giving and saving medicine, our nature has been glorified and is trans-elemented into incorruption. Wherefore the death of Saints is made a feast, and temples are raised to them, and Images are painted ... - (Chapter 8. Application of the Third Note of a True Development—Assimilative Power, John Henry Newman, a cardinal by Pope Leo III in 1879; http://www.newmanreader.org/works/development/chapter8.html)
Then you had those times it seems so many RCs seem to long for.
...in the 1180s, the Church began to panic at the spread of heresy, and thereafter it took the lead from the State, though it maintained the legal fiction that convicted and unrepentant heretics were merely 'deprived of the protection of the Church', which was (as they termed it) 'relaxed', the civil power then being free to burn them without committing mortal sin. Relaxation was accompanied by a formal plea for mercy; in fact this was meaningless, and the individual civil officer (sheriffs and so forth) had no choice but to burn, since otherwise he was denounced as a 'defender of heretics', and plunged into the perils of the system himself. (Paul Johnson, History of Christianity, © 1976 Athenium, p. 253)
• Canons of the Ecumenical Fourth Lateran Council, 1215: Secular authorities, whatever office they may hold, shall be admonished and induced and if necessary compelled by ecclesiastical censure, that as they wish to be esteemed and numbered among the faithful, so for the defense of the faith they ought publicly to take an oath that they will strive in good faith and to the best of their ability to exterminate in the territories subject to their jurisdiction all heretics pointed out by the Church; so that whenever anyone shall have assumed authority, whether spiritual or temporal, let him be bound to confirm this decree by oath.
But if a temporal ruler, after having been requested and admonished by the Church, should neglect to cleanse his territory of this heretical foulness, let him be excommunicated by the metropolitan and the other bishops of the province. If he refuses to make satisfaction within a year, let the matter be made known to the supreme pontiff, that he may declare the ruler’s vassals absolved from their allegiance and may offer the territory to be ruled lay Catholics, who on the extermination of the heretics may possess it without hindrance and preserve it in the purity of faith; the right, however, of the chief ruler is to be respected as long as he offers no obstacle in this matter and permits freedom of action.(http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/lateran4.asp)
More . The context of the Reformation:
In this lecture I want to talk about the causes of the Reformation. This is a rather standard approach to the Reformation because it is admitted by all that the Reformation did not just happen or come like a bolt from the blue...Part of the tragedy of the Reformation is that the Church before 1517 was unable to reform itself or to set in motion events or changes that would have led to a reform in the Church that would have satisfied its members and really affected change....
It is possible to go back deep into the Middle Ages when enumerating or toting up the causes of the Reformation. I would like to start simply with the fourteenth century....
The first thing to note is that in the fourteenth century there was a period of approximately seventy years, from 1309 to 1377, when the pope was not living or residing in Rome...In the midst of the pope living outside of the Italian peninsula, outside of Rome, there occurred one of those events in European history that mark an age forever, and that was the infamous Black Death...Not too long after the Black Death there occurred something that was far worse than the popes living in Avignon... they proceeded to elect a counter-pope in 1378 to the pope who was then living in Rome. This counter-pope was French. He went back to Avignon. The man already resident now in Rome stayed in Rome, and Christendom now had the spectacle of not one pope living where he shouldn't have been, but of two popes each claiming to be the rightful pope, one living in Avignon, the other in Rome.
To...Boniface IX, goes the unenviable distinction of probably having begun the papal sale of offices...
1447 is usually taken as the year that began or marked the appearance of what we call the Renaissance Papacy, or the Renaissance Popes. The Italian Renaissance was in full swing at this time, and when we speak of the Renaissance Popes what we mean more than anything else is that these popes were more men of culture or rulers than popes...Sixtus IV was completely a worldling. He is best known perhaps for the chapel that he built which was later decorated by Michelangelo, the Sistine Chapel. His successor Innocent VIII had an illegitimate family. Alexander VI, who was Spanish, was perhaps the worst of them all. He had many illegitimate children, but he was a good political candidate. But his reign as pope did more to weaken the moral prestige of the papacy than almost anything imaginable...
And if we go to the clergy, to what we can call the lower clergy or the ordinary priests, we can say that one vice that many of them had was immorality. Many of them had women that they kept in their rectories by whom they had children, so they had families to support. — Maurice W. Sheehan, O.F.M. Cap., Lecture 2: Prelude-Causes, Attempts at Reform to 1537; International Catholic University http://home.comcast.net/~icuweb/c01802.htm
 • The Avignon Papacy (1309-76) relocated the throne to France and was followed by the Western Schism (1378-1417), with three rival popes excommunicating each other and their sees. Referring to the schism of the 14th and 15th centuries, Cardinal Ratzinger observed,
"For nearly half a century, the Church was split into two or three obediences that excommunicated one another, so that every Catholic lived under excommunication by one pope or another, and, in the last analysis, no one could say with certainty which of the contenders had right on his side. The Church no longer offered certainty of salvation; she had become questionable in her whole objective form--the true Church, the true pledge of salvation, had to be sought outside the institution. It is against this background of a profoundly shaken ecclesial consciousness that we are to understand that Luther, in the conflict between his search for salvation and the tradition of the Church, ultimately came to experience the Church, not as the guarantor, but as the adversary of salvation. (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith for the Church of Rome, “Principles of Catholic Theology,” trans. by Sister Mary Frances McCarthy, S.N.D. (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1989) p.196). http://www.whitehorseinn.org/blog/2012/06/13/whos-in-charge-here-the-illusions-of-church-infallibility/)
• Joseph Lortz,    German Roman Catholic theologian:
“The real significance of the Western Schism rests in the fact that for decades there was an almost universal uncertainty about where the true pope and the true Church were to be found. For several decades, both popes had excommunicated each other and his followers; thus all Christendom found itself under sentence of excommunication by at least one of the contenders. Both popes referred to their rival claimant as the Antichrist, and to the Masses celebrated by them as idolatry. It seemed impossible to do anything about this scandalous situation, despite sharp protests from all sides, and despite the radical impossibility of having two valid popes at the same time. Time and time again, the petty selfishness of the contenders blocked any solution...”
“The significance of the break-up of medieval unity in the thirteenth century, but even more during the Avignon period, is evident in the most distinctive historical consequence of the Avignon Papacy: the Great Western Schism. The real meaning of this event may not be immediately apparent. It can be somewhat superficially described as a period when there were two popes, each with his own Curia, one residing in Rome, the other in Avignon.”
“The real significance of the Western Schism rests in the fact that for decades there was an almost universal uncertainty about where the true pope and the true Church were to be found. For several decades, both popes had excommunicated each other and his followers; thus all Christendom found itself under sentence of excommunication by at least one of the contenders. Both popes referred to their rival claimant as the Antichrist, and to the Masses celebrated by them as idolatry. It seemed impossible to do anything about this scandalous situation, despite sharp protests from all sides, and despite the radical impossibility of having two valid popes at the same time. Time and time again, the petty selfishness of the contenders blocked any solution...”
When Luther asserted that the pope of Rome was not the true successor of Saint Peter and that the Church could do without the Papacy, in his mind and in their essence these were new doctrines, but the distinctive element in them was not new and thus they struck a sympathetic resonance in the minds of many. Long before the Reformation itself, the unity of the Christian Church in the West had been severely undermined.” ("The Reformation: A Problem for Today” (Maryland: The Newman Press, 1964), “The Causes of the Reformation," pp. 35-37; . http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2011/10/roman-catholic-scholar-look-at-causes.html )
• Catholic Encyclopedia>Council of Constance:
“The Western Schism was thus at an end, after nearly forty years of disastrous life; one pope (Gregory XII) had voluntarily abdicated; another (John XXIII) had been suspended and then deposed, but had submitted in canonical form; the third claimant (Benedict XIII) was cut off from the body of the Church, "a pope without a Church, a shepherd without a flock" (Hergenröther-Kirsch). It had come about that, whichever of the three claimants of the papacy was the legitimate successor of Peter, there reigned throughout the Church a universal uncertainty and an intolerable confusion, so that saints and scholars and upright souls were to be found in all three obediences. On the principle that a doubtful pope is no pope, the Apostolic See appeared really vacant, and under the circumstances could not possibly be otherwise filled than by the action of a general council.”  (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04288a.htm)
• Cardinal Bellarmine:
 "Some years before the rise of the Lutheran and Calvinistic heresy, according to the testimony of those who were then alive, there was almost an entire abandonment of equity in ecclesiastical judgments; in morals, no discipline; in sacred literature, no erudition; in divine things, no reverence; religion was almost extinct. (Concio XXVIII. Opp. Vi. 296- Colon 1617, in “A History of the Articles of Religion,” by Charles Hardwick, Cp. 1, p. 10,)
Erasmus, in his new edition of the “Enchiridion:What man of real piety does not perceive with sighs that this is far the most corrupt of all ages? When did iniquity abound with more licentiousness? When was charity so cold?” (The Evolution of the English Bible: A Historical Sketch of the Successive,” p. 132 by Henry William Hamilton-Hoare)
• Catholic historian Paul Johnson additionally described the existing social situation among the clergy at the time of the Reformation: 
“Probably as many as half the men in orders had ‘wives’ and families. Behind all the New Learning and the theological debates, clerical celibacy was, in its own way, the biggest single issue at the Reformation. It was a great social problem and, other factors being equal, it tended to tip the balance in favour of reform. As a rule, the only hope for a child of a priest was to go into the Church himself, thus unwillingly or with no great enthusiasm, taking vows which he might subsequently regret: the evil tended to perpetuate itself.” (History of Christianity, pgs 269-270)
• In the summer of 1536, Pope Paul III appointed Cardinals Contarini and Cafara and a commission to study church Reform. The report of this commission, the Consilium de emendanda ecclesiae, was completed in March 1537.  The final paragraphs deal with the corruptions of Renaissance Rome itself:
“the swarm of sordid and ignorant priests in the city, the harlots who are followed around by clerics and by the noble members of the cardinals’ households …” 
“The immediate effects of the Consilium fell far below the hopes of its authors and its very frankness hampered its public use. … the more noticeably pious prelates [note: this the “noticeably pious” clergy] had no longer to tolerate the open cynicism of the Medicean period, and when moral lapses by clerics came to light, pains were now taken to hush them up as matters of grievous scandal.” (G. Dickens, “The Counter Reformation,” pp. 100,102)
In the same candid spirit is the following statement of de Mézeray, the historiographer of France: [Abrege’ Chronol. VIII. 691, seqq. a Paris, 1681]
“As the heads of the Church paid no regard to the maintenance of discipline, the vices and excesses of the ecclesiastics grew up to the highest pitch, and were so public and universally exposed as to excite against them the hatred and contempt of the people. We cannot repeat without a blush the usury, the avarice, the gluttony, the universal dissoluteness of the priests of this period, the licence and debauchery of the monks, the pride and extravagance of the prelates, and the shameful indolence, ignorance and superstition pervading the whole body .... These were not, I confess, new scandals: I should rather say that the barbarism and ignorance of preceding centuries, in some sort, concealed such vices; but,, on the subsequent revival of the light of learning, the spots which I have pointed out became more manifest, and as the unlearned who were corrupt could not endure the light through the pain which it caused to their eyes, so neither did the learned spare them, turning them to ridicule and delighting to expose their turpitude and to decry their superstitions.
Bossuet* in the opening statements of his “Histoire des Variations,” admits the frightful corruptions of the Church for centuries before the Reformation; and he has been followed in our own times by Frederic von Schlegel [Philosophy of History, 400, 401, 410, Engl. Transl. 1847.] and Möhler. [Symbolik, II. 31, 32, Engl. Transl.]
While all of them are most anxious to prove that the Lutheran movement was revolutionary and subversive of the ancient faith, they are constrained to admit the universality of the abuses, which, in the language of Schlegel, “lay deep, and were ulcerated in their very roots.” — Charles Hardwick A History of the Articles of Religion;  http://www.anglicanbooksrevitalized.us/Oldies/Thirty-Nine/hardwick39.htm
Jaroslav Pelikan (Lutheran, later Eastern Orhodox), The Riddle of Roman Catholicism (New York: Abingdon Press, 1959), also found:

"Recent research on the Reformation entitles us to sharpen it and say that the Reformation began because the reformers were too catholic in the midst of a church that had forgotten its catholicity..." 
“The reformers were catholic because they were spokesmen for an evangelical tradition in medieval catholicism, what Luther called "the succession of the faithful." The fountainhead of that tradition was Augustine (d. 430). His complex and far-reaching system of thought incorporated the catholic ideal of identity plus universality, and by its emphasis upon sin and grace it became the ancestor of Reformation theology. … All the reformers relied heavily upon Augustine. They pitted his evangelical theology against the authority of later church fathers and scholastics, and they used him to prove that they were not introducing novelties into the church, but defending the true faith of the church.”
 

“...To prepare books like the Magdeburg Centuries they combed the libraries and came up with a remarkable catalogue of protesting catholics and evangelical catholics, all to lend support to the insistence that the Protestant position was, in the best sense, a catholic position.

Additional support for this insistence comes from the attitude of the reformers toward the creeds and dogmas of the ancient catholic church. The reformers retained and cherished the doctrine of the Trinity and the doctrine of the two natures in Christ which had developed in the first five centuries of the church….” 


“If we keep in mind how variegated medieval catholicism was, the legitimacy of the reformers' claim to catholicity becomes clear. (Pelikan, pp. 46-47).


"Substantiation for this understanding of the gospel came principally from the Scriptures, but whenever they could, the reformers also quoted the fathers of the catholic church. There was more to quote than their Roman opponents found comfortable." (Pelikan 48-49).


However, Scripture, tradition and history can only assuredly consist of and mean what Rome may say they do, and which is the real basis for the veracity of Rome for a RC. Thus no less than Cardinal Manning stated,

"It was the charge of the Reformers that the Catholic doctrines were not primitive, and their pretension was to revert to antiquity. But the appeal to antiquity is both a treason and a heresy. It is a treason because it rejects the Divine voice of the Church at this hour, and a heresy because it denies that voice to be Divine....The only Divine evidence to us of what was primitive is the witness and voice of the Church at this hour." — Most Rev. Dr. Henry Edward Cardinal Manning, Lord Archbishop of Westminster, The Temporal Mission of the Holy Ghost: Or Reason and Revelation (New York: J.P. Kenedy & Sons, originally written 1865, pp. 227,28
 
More reading: