Forgeries and falsifications
Historically the cause of Romanism, particularly the primacy of the Roman bishop, was thrust forward and aided by false documents, purporting to come from antiquity.
(1) The Clementine Recognitions, also known as the Forged Letter from Peter, were shamelessly used to push the papacy to its blasphemous heights. These were brought to Rome telling how Peter had ordained Clement and set him in his own chair as Bishop of Rome. It was to the effect that just as Peter was the chief of the apostles the Pope is the chief of all bishops.
The forgery was shown to be such during the early Renaissance, when the discipline of textual criticism began to be developed. Until then it was accepted and honoured.
(2) Again The Isidorian Decretals played a good part in establishing the See of Rome, entrenching it in place. Among other things, the Decretals said: "The Church of Rome, by a unique privilege, has the right of opening and shutting the gates of heaven for whom she will."
They represent the Pope as monarch ruling over the entire church. It was on this basis that Nicholas I laid out the strategy for the establishment of the papal monarchy (860).
Roman Catholic scholarship today can do nothing but lay aside these documents as forgeries. All those who research church history cannot deny it.
But the harm has been done, and the sad result is still with us. The Vatican See, with all its pretensions, is exercising its dominion over a good portion of mankind. No longer does it use these forgeries in her defence (rather she misinterprets Scripture, especially Matthew 16; and claims Holy Tradition on its side).
I see no integrity and much less heavenly-mindedness in such strategies. When a whole constituency, and a huge one at that, does not come into the open and confess that her present eminence is due to falseness and lies, no Christian would want to join himself to her.
How can you pose as a teacher of the truth when your whole life-history is a blatant lie? A church, of any denomination, which is afraid of telling the truth and nothing but the truth (as she knows it), is not worth any allegiance. The Roman Catholic church may be enjoying success today, in numbers and influence, but we are duty-bound to judge such success as utterly worldly and even devilish, for in Satan "there is no truth." "He was a liar and murderer from the beginning."
Rome's true character comes into the open by her fruits, both in doctrine and anti-Christian practices.
Church Fathers falsified We will now consider the falsification of Cyprian, Augustine, the Sixth Canon of Nicea (325), along with the writings of the Greek Fathers.
(1) Cyprian was a strong advocate of the monarchical bishop, basing the unity of the visible church on him. He understood that through a hierarchical organization the communion between the churches might be easier.
No wonder, then, that his writings became the hunting ground for extrapolations to be inserted. The most notorious among them is that "Primacy is given to Peter." That it does not come from Cyprian is affirmed even by the foremost Romanist scholars, among them Archbishop Benson, who calls it "the grossest forgery in literature."
(2) Due to his influence during the Middle Ages, Augustine also was appealed to in favour of the papacy. But it is well-known that though in his day the Roman bishop had considerable influence, together with other metropolitan bishops (such as the one at Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria and Constantinople) in no sense was he considered primate.
His now proverbial sentence, "Roma locuta est; causa finita est," is so tortured and taken out of its historical context that it is made to mean something far different from what Augustine meant (as happened with many of his other sayings, e.g. his stand and arguments against the Donatists were used to approve the physical persecution of all dissidents.)
From Augustine's writings it is clear and indisputable that for all intents and purposes the Sacred Writings of the apostles and prophets were the infallible and final Judge in religious controversies. But having this stand, Augustine, as a bishop in communion with the rest of Christendom, did not hesitate to refer controversies to reputed judges, among them, the bishop of Rome.
But his sentence, quoted above, come only after both the African and the Roman church had condemned Pelagianism. For Augustine the case was closed because there was enough concurrence and catholic unity on the issue.
That he did not regard the Roman bishop and the highest authority in the church is patently evident in his relationship with Zosimus when the latter approved of Pelagianism: he opposed him, seeing that Zosimus was in error. It is totally unfair to take one sentence from such a great teacher and by it put to nought the weight of his voluminous writings.
(3) In attempting to establish order and pre-eminence within Christendom, the Council of Nicea mentioned several sees, among them Rome.
A later synod convened in Sardica (343), in the interests of the then-budding pretensions of Rome, interpolated the following in the sixth canon of Nicea: "The Roman Church has always enjoyed the primacy." Nicea had said no such thing, as the Roman theologian Aloisious Vincenzi confessed in 1875.
(4) The Greek Fathers, especially Chrysostom, Cyril of Alexandria and Cyril of Jerusalem, were also made to say them that never entered their minds while they were living. Roman forgeries were produced to bolster all the more the Vatican jurisdiction, culminating in the writings of Aquinas who, in referring to the mangled writings of the Greek Fathers (without knowing about the interpolations), taught that the Pope is the first infallible teacher of the world, and that he is also absolute rule in the church.
The conclusion is simple and strong: when someone has a poor case to defend, and does not have concrete and solid evidence in his favour, will do whatever comes to his hand to bolster up his position, even though he knows how far short he falls of his assumed authority. To build up and defend its undue authority, Rome resorted to blatant lies presented as the truth to blind its followers.
Her boasted unique authority is not even hinted at in the Scriptures; her only way was to pretend an antiquity and an authority coming down from the apostles themselves. Hence the falsifications.
In addition, in reading the ancient Fathers, we have to be careful and take them with a pinch of salt. If, as is the case, unprincipled scribes attempted to change the text of Scripture in their copying, then how much more the writings of men?