Réné-Francois Guettée was ordained a Roman Catholic priest at Blois, France in the year
1839. Almost immediately following his ordination he set out on a monumental task conceived in his
mind a few years earlier. To research and then write a complete “History of the Church of France”.
It was this innocent endeavor that would soon lead him to unexpected discoveries and inescapable
conclusions concerning the papacy (This book being the fruit of those labors).
With patience and care Guettée skillfully sweeps away the rubble of misconception and fraud
that obscured the pristine voice of Church Fathers and their genuine apostolic witness. His
impeccable proofs shattering the pretensions and anti-Catholic innovations of Rome whose
foundation was evidently no longer Christ. Instead she is shown to have chosen a different
cornerstone and a most fallible substitute.
He reveals how this former apostolic see once renowned for her orthodoxy would, through
worldly arrogance and pride insert her single unaccountable bishop as the principal overseer of the
Church, thus negating the ancient apostolic model for governance. Its effect, a continuing denial and
illegitimate replacement for the Churches One and True Head.
In Chapter V Father Guettée presents a series of letters written by Pope Gregory the Great (6th C). These letters to the Patriarch of Constantinople, John the Faster are responses to what he
construes as John’s attempts to be recognized as the Church’s Universal Bishop or Bishop of
Bishops. A notion he thoroughly and absolutely condemns as inspired by the devil. (He being the
first born of those who attempt by self exaltation to ascend a place not theirs.) Forcefully and with
great clarity he vigorously denies such prerogative for any Apostolic See including the one he himself
now presides over, Rome.
In these pages, the reader will also find in abundance meticulous scholarship and perhaps for
the first time insight as to what is genuine Catholic ecclessiology. Father Guettée remains ever
faithful to the Vincentian model in his approach. This is a rule eminently Catholic and necessary
when examining matters of The Faith.
XX: The Notes of a true Catholic (an excerpt from St. Vincent of Lerins Commonitory 5th C)
This being the case, he is the true and genuine Catholic who loves the truth of God, who
loves the Church, who loves the Body of Christ, who esteems divine religion and the
Catholic Faith above everything, above the authority, above the regard, above the genius,
above the eloquence, above the philosophy, of every man whatsoever; who sets light by all
of these, and continuing steadfast and established in the faith, resolves that he will believe
that, and that only, which he is sure the Catholic Church has held universally and from
Confronted by the complete and unfiltered testimony of the Church Fathers and having
examined in depth the undeniable historic records, Father Guettée found that Treasure and Pearl of
Great Price. (The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church) He would not for the sake of career and
promised honors be silenced. For that courage and intellectual honesty we can all be grateful.
Kevin M. Kirwan
THE Pope is a king, and pretends to be sovereign pontiff of the Christian Church. We do not
propose to occupy ourselves with his royalty. To what advantage ? It will soon fall. Its ruin is
decreed by Providence. Foreign bayonets will no more save it than the sophisms of its defenders. If,
as is affirmed, these are necessary to uphold the sovereign pontificate, it is but another reason for
desiring its fall-because this pontificate is an usurpation. This we proceed to demonstrate in the
present work. To reach this end we shall have recourse neither to questionable arguments nor to
declamation. Facts drawn from original sources are summoned as witnesses. We take the Roman
episcopate at the origin of Christianity, follow it through centuries, and are able to prove
incontestably, that during eight centuries the spiritual Papacy, as we understand it at the present day,
had no existence; that the bishop of Rome was during three centuries only a bishop, with the same
rank as the others; that in the fourth century he received a primacy of honor without universal
jurisdiction; that this honor has no other foundation than the decrees of the Church; that his restricted jurisdiction over certain neighboring churches is supported only upon a custom legalized by Councils.
As for the universal sovereignty, absolute, of divine right--in other words, the Papacy--facts
and catholic testimony of the first eight centuries condemn instead of sustaining it.
History reveals to us the Papacy, after several fruitless attempts, taking its birth from
circumstances and establishing itself in the ninth century, with its double political and ecclesiastical
character. Its real founder was Adrian I Nicholas I chiefly contributed to its development; Gregory
VII. raised it to its loftiest pitch.
Adrian I. was in fact the first Pope. They who before this occupied the see of Rome, were
only bishops, successors, not of St. Peter, as has been declared and repeated to satiety, but of Linus,
who was already bishop of Rome when St. Peter arrived in that city, to seal there by his martyrdom
the faith he had preached. The defenders of the Papacy commit, therefore, at the outset, one of the
grossest historical errors in carrying back the Papacy, that is, the Papal sovereignty, to the origin of
Christianity. This error has led them to a thousand others, impelled, as they have been, to seek proofs
for the support of this false theory in the history of the Church and in the writings of the ancient
fathers. They have thus wrested facts and distorted testimonies. They have even dared to attack Holy
Scripture, and by delusive anti-Catholic interpretation, made it bear false witness in favor of their
system. It is thus that the Church of Rome was the first to give example of those individual interpretations for which she so bitterly reproaches Protestantism. She was the first to abandon the
Catholic rule of the interpretation of the sacred books; she has put aside the collective interpretation
of which the fathers of the Church have been the faithful echoes, and upon her own authority she has
presumed to discover in Scripture that which the Church Catholic has not found there. She has come
thus to arrogate for her usurped sovereignty a divine foundation. She has drawn from this principle
all its consequences; the Pope has become the vicar of Jesus Christ, the necessary centre of the
Church, the pivot of Christianity, the infallible organ of heaven. These Papal errors were so skillfully
disseminated in the western countries that they were there gradually adopted. The protests which
they drew forth were indeed continued, but partaking of the spirit of the age, they were not
sufficiently pointed; such even as were raised against the abuses of the Papacy, admitted as beyond
question a divine basis for that institution.
At the present day, these errors have penetrated not only among the clergy and religious men;
the rationalists--anti-Christians themselves--admit the idea that the Pope is the sovereign chief of the
Christian Church, and that his spiritual prerogatives are derived from Jesus Christ. Many Protestants
themselves do not conceive of a Catholic Church without a Pope, and see this church only in the
We ourselves have been misled by the common error, taught as we had been to regard it as a
revealed and incontestable verity.
1 The author thus touches two of the greatest advantages which modern writers, unfortunately, concede to the Papists: 1st, That of identifying historical Christianity with the Mediæval Roman system; 2d. That of calling the Trentine Church the Catholic Church.
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The Papacy by L'Abbe Réné-Francois Guettée