Answer: The erroneous and fallible Quinisext Council (A.D. 692), also called Council in Trullo, which was mainly an eastern council presided over by eastern authorities, is the council the Eastern “Orthodox” Churches mainly bases their authority and false conclusion on regarding conjugal relations by priests and deacons married before ordination. Indeed, even though this fallible council clearly contradicted the ancient, unanimous, constant, teaching tradition of the Church and the Bible on the necessity of priestly celibacy before or after ordination in the New Law and the New Testament (as has been clearly documented above), this council nevertheless also claimed apostolic credentials for its repudiation of this ancient teaching of the Universal Church:
The Quinisext Council, Canon 13, A.D. 692: “Since we know it to be handed down as a rule of the Roman Church that those who are deemed worthy to be advanced to the diaconate or presbyterate should promise no longer to cohabit with their wives, we, preserving the ancient rule and apostolic perfection and order, will that the lawful marriages of men who are in holy orders be from this time forward firm, by no means dissolving their union with their wives nor depriving them of their mutual intercourse at a convenient time. Wherefore, if anyone shall have been found worthy to be ordained subdeacon, or deacon, or presbyter, he is by no means to be prohibited from admittance to such a rank, even if he shall live with a lawful wife. Nor shall it be demanded of him at the time of his ordination that he promise to abstain from lawful intercourse with his wife… But we know, as they who assembled at Carthage [in 390] (with a care for the honest life of the clergy) said, that subdeacons, who handle the Holy Mysteries, and deacons, and presbyters should abstain from their consorts according to their own course [of ministration]. So that what has been handed down through the Apostles and preserved by ancient custom, we too likewise maintain, knowing that there is a time for all things and especially for fasting and prayer. For it is meet that they who assist at the divine altar should be absolutely continent when they are handling holy things, in order that they may be able to obtain from God what they ask in sincerity. If therefore anyone shall have dared, contrary to the apostolic Canons, to deprive any of those who are in holy orders, presbyter, or deacon, or subdeacon of cohabitation and intercourse with his lawful wife, let him be deposed. In like manner also if any presbyter or deacon on pretence of piety has dismissed his wife, let him be excluded from communion; and if he persevere in this let him be deposed.”
This canon shows that by that time there was a direct contradiction between the teaching of the East and West about the legitimacy of conjugal relations on the part of clergy lower than the rank of bishop who had married before being ordained.
The canon also mistakenly claims that the canon of the late-4th-century Council of Carthage excluded conjugal intercourse by clergy lower than bishops only in connection with their liturgical service or in times of fasting. The Council of Carthage (390), however, made no such distinctions and excluded such intercourse perpetually and made no distinction between bishops, priests and deacons. In fact, the canon decreed that higher clerics observe perfect continence because they act as mediators between God and man. They stressed particularly the antiquity and apostolic origin of this law:
The Council of Carthage (390): “It is fitting that the holy bishops and priests of God as well as the Levites, i.e. those who are in the service of the divine sacraments, observe perfect continence, so that they may obtain in all simplicity what they are asking from God; what the Apostles taught and what antiquity itself observed, let us also endeavor to keep. The bishops declared unanimously: It pleases us all that bishop, priest and deacon, guardians of purity, abstain from conjugal intercourse with their wives, so that those who serve at the altar may keep a perfect chastity.” (Canon 3)
There have been no changes since the Quinisext Council in the teaching of the Eastern “Orthodox” Church, which for bishops, priests, deacons, and subdeacons excludes marriage after ordination, but allows, except for periods before celebrating the Divine Liturgy, conjugal relations by priests and deacons married before ordination, and requires celibacy and perpetual continence only of bishops. This Council, of course, was never approved by the Catholic Church.
Pope Sergius I, who was of Syrian origin, rejected the council, preferring, he said, “to die rather than consent to erroneous novelties”. Meanwhile, in Visigothic Spain, the council was ratified by the Eighteenth Council of Toledo at the urging of the king, Wittiza, who was, of course, condemned by later chroniclers for his decision. It is also interesting to note that this false council was the last of the councils of Toledo held in Visigothic Spain before the Moorish invasion in 711. The council was held probably around 703. Fruela I of Asturias reversed the decision of Toledo sometime during his reign (757-768). The Eastern “Orthodox” churches hold this council to be part of the Fifth and Sixth Ecumenical Councils, adding its canons thereto. In the West, Bede calls it (in De sexta mundi aetate) a “reprobate” synod, and Paul the Deacon calls it an “erratic” one. The Catholic Church has never accepted the council as authoritative or ecumenical.
The Holy Bible teaches that only St. Peter (among all the other apostles) was given the keys to the kingdom of heaven, which thus means that him and his valid successors are the only ones who can make infallible proclamations in the Church, and this of course excludes the Quinisext Council from being an ecumenical and authoritative council since the Pope never approved it.
Matthew 16:18-19 “And I [Jesus] say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
WHY THE EASTERN ORTHODOX POSITION, WHICH IS SCHISMATIC AND HERETICAL ACCORDING TO CATHOLIC TEACHING, IS COMPLETELY ILLOGICAL AND FALSE
Jesus Christ gave the keys to the Kingdom to St. Peter (Mt. 16), and gave him jurisdiction over his flock (John 21:15-17). St. Peter was the Bishop of Rome, and his followers (i.e., the members of the Church in Rome) elected his successor, or he appointed his own successor as the Bishop of Rome and head of the universal Church. This process continued through the ages, with the pope being able to change the process of election (such as by instituting a college of cardinals) if he so decided, since the pope has supreme authority in the Church from Christ (Mt. 16). All individuals not elected in this fashion (e.g., one who was elected after the Bishop of Rome had already been chosen in the tradition thus described, or one who was appointed by an outside source, such as an emperor, after the pope had already been chosen, or one who was elected as a non-member of the community, such as a manifest heretic) wouldn’t be true popes, but (logically) antipopes. This logical framework holds true for all of history, and has allowed one to see which are the true popes and which are not – even if at some of the most difficult periods of Church history, such as the Great Western Schism, ascertaining the facts to correctly apply these principles was difficult enough that some mistakes were made by certain individuals.
I have thus described the consistent, logical framework of the succession of the authority given to St. Peter by Jesus Christ to the popes down through the ages. This shows that the Catholic Faith is consistent. (The authority given to St. Peter and his successors is the backing of the dogmatic councils; this is the authority which anathematizes those who deny the dogmatic councils’ teaching.)
ILLOGIC AT THE HEART OF EASTERN "ORTHODOXY"
On the other hand, Eastern “Orthodoxy,” since it rejects the supreme authority of the Bishop of Rome and considers all bishops equal, cannot even put forward a framework or criteria by which one could logically distinguish those councils which it says are dogmatic and binding, from those which it says are false and heretical. Ephesus II (the heretical monophysite council in 449) had almost exactly the same number of bishops as Constantinople I (150 bishops). “Eastern Orthodoxy” would say one must accept Constantinople I under pain of heresy, while one must reject Ephesus II! But if we apply the principles of Eastern “Orthodoxy,” the two councils are on the same level, both being backed by the authority of equal bishops. Unless there is a supreme bishop to make one council binding, it’s a farce to say that one council is definitely dogmatic while the other with the same number of bishops is definitely heretical! Equal vs. Equal results in a draw….
Furthermore, if Christ said He would be with His Church all days until the end of the world (Mt. 28), why did the Church suddenly stop having councils in 787? Doesn’t it strike as a bit ridiculous that many other councils were held after 787, which the Eastern “Orthodox” arbitrarily reject as “not accepted by the Church,” even though these councils which they reject had more bishops than those which they accept? What about the Council of Florence (1438-1442), which saw reunion of the East with the Catholic Church when Patriarch Joseph of Constantinople accepted Florence, the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, and Florence’s teaching against all who would deny it? How on Earth could one logically say that Florence was not accepted “by the Church,” while other councils were? What are the criteria? I’ve asked many Eastern “Orthodox” this very question and received no answer simply because they have none. Whatever criteria they pick to use as the justification for accepting a particular council as dogmatic, and rejecting another council as non-dogmatic, can be used against them to prove that, on that very basis, they would have to accept later Roman Catholic councils.
Yes, Eastern “Orthodoxy” cannot logically hold any council to be dogmatic and binding, as one will see if one honestly and deeply think about it. In Eastern “Orthodoxy” there is nothing which backs the anathemas of Ephesus or another council other than the word of bishops, who are equal to other bishops who many times taught the opposite. If the “Church” spoke at Constantinople I because 150 bishops came to it and pronounced authoritatively on faith, then the “Church” spoke at many other false councils in the early Church which had similar numbers of bishops! It is inescapable, therefore, that according to the Eastern “Orthodox” position the Church of Christ has defected (i.e., officially fallen into error) many times at the various false councils. This contradicts the promises of Christ that the gates of Hell cannot prevail and that God would be with His Church always (Mt. 16). Eastern “Orthodoxy” is an illogical farce, which rejects the clear teaching of Scripture and the fathers on the Papal Primacy, and which causes those who accept it to truly wind up believing in no dogma at all. That’s why Pope Leo XIII says those who reject one dogma reject all Faith. Because of the fact that Eastern “Orthodoxy” does not – and cannot – really believe in any dogmatic councils (as shown above) is why it’s so appealing to so many: it provides the comfort of Protestantism, yet the appearance of ancient tradition, at the same time the feel of liturgical piety, with the illusion of hierarchical authority.
Matthew 16:17-18 “And I say to thee: That thou are Peter: and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.”
Our Lord made St. Peter the first Pope, entrusted to him His entire flock, and gave him supreme authority in the Universal Church of Christ.
John 21:15-17 “Jesus saith to Simon Peter: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. He saith to him again: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. He saith to him a third time: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved, because he had said to him the third time: Lovest thou me? And he said to him: Lord, thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love thee. He said to him: Feed my sheep.”
Regarding the objection that papal infallibility wasn’t established until the Council of Trent, that’s not correct. It was defined as a dogma at Vatican I in 1870, but the truth of it was believed since the beginning. We find the promise of the unfailing faith for St. Peter and his successors referred to by Christ in Luke 22.
Luke 22:31-32 “And the Lord said: Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have all of you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren.”
Satan desired to sift all the Apostles (plural) like wheat, but Jesus prayed for Simon Peter (singular), that his faith fail not. Jesus is saying that St. Peter and his successors (the popes of the Catholic Church) have an unfailing faith when authoritatively teaching a point of faith or morals to be held by the entire Church of Christ.
Pope Pius IX, Vatican Council I, 1870, ex cathedra: “SO, THIS GIFT OF TRUTH AND A NEVER FAILING FAITH WAS DIVINELY CONFERRED UPON PETER AND HIS SUCCESSORS IN THIS CHAIR…”
Pope Pius IX, Vatican Council I, 1870, ex cathedra: “… the See of St. Peter always remains unimpaired by any error, according to the divine promise of our Lord the Savior made to the chief of His disciples: ‘I have prayed for thee [Peter], that thy faith fail not...’”
And this truth has been held since the earliest times in the Catholic Church.
Pope St. Gelasius I, epistle 42, or Decretal de recipiendis et non recipiendis libris, 495: “Accordingly, the see of Peter the Apostle of the Church of Rome is first, having neither spot, nor wrinkle, nor anything of this kind (Eph. 5:27).”
The word “infallible” actually means “cannot fail” or “unfailing.” Therefore, the very term Papal Infallibility comes directly from Christ’s promise to St. Peter (and his successors) in Luke 22, that Peter has an unfailing Faith. And it was also believed in the early Church, as we see here. Though this truth was believed since the beginning of the Church, it was specifically defined as a dogma at the First Vatican Council in 1870.
To read more about how the Bible condemns and destroys the teachings of the Eastern “Orthodox” church, please read this article: Eastern “Orthodoxy” Destroyed
The Early Church Fathers on the Primacy of the Roman Catholic Church
MORE QUOTES ON THE SAME SUBJECT
The Bible Teaches That Jesus Made St. Peter the First Pope
Specific Catholic teaching against Protestant and Schismatic Sects
Interestingly enough, it is also very important to notice that it was almost exactly during the time of the erroneous and fallible Quinisext Council that the Muslims started to gain a real foothold in their wars against the Eastern Byzantine Empire as well as in their attempts to occupy Spain. As we already have seen in the The Book of Judith, (Judith 15:11) The First Book of Kings, (1 Kings 21:2-5) and the Book of Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 23:9-11) from the Holy Bible, military success is directly and intimately connected to the virtue of chastity; and it is highly probable that this teaching of the Eastern “Orthodox” Church that rejected the necessity of priestly celibacy and purity was the very teaching that angered God and left them to the wrath and control of the Muslim infidels. This is not to say that there were not other problems with the eastern church during this time as well as after it, but this teaching of a chaste priesthood is, as we have seen, is very dear to God, and it is thus obvious that their rejection of the Church’s teaching concerning this matter played a great role in why God allowed the infidel Muslims to gain a victory over them. Over and over in the Old Testament, we see that God punished a rebellious nation, and God likewise punishes such nations in the New Testament time when justice requires it. But not only the eastern Byzantine Empire was attacked by the Muslims at this time, but also Spain who had chosen to allow the novelty of an impure priesthood. As a perfect fulfillment and sign of God’s vengeance over those nations who try to defile the holy priesthood of Our Lord and God with impure sexual relations, Our Lord also allowed Spain to be struck with the scourge of the Saracen or Muslim, since in Visigothic Spain, the Quinisext Council was ratified by the Eighteenth Council of Toledo at the urging of the king, Wittiza.
Even in the time of St. Ambrose in the 4th century, lustful priests had begun to disobey the clear teaching of the Bible and Apostolic Tradition concerning the necessity for a completely chaste priesthood. St. Ambrose, in his work On the Duties of the Clergy tells us that “in some out-of-the-way places” some priests had begun to defile themselves with sexual intercourse already in the 4th century: “But ye know that the ministerial office must be kept pure and unspotted, and must not be defiled by conjugal intercourse; ye know this, I say, who have received the gifts of the sacred ministry, with pure bodies, and unspoiled modesty, and without ever having enjoyed conjugal intercourse. I am mentioning this, because in some out-of-the-way places, when they enter on the ministry, or even when they become priests, they have begotten children. They defend this on the ground of old custom [of the Old Testament Law], when, as it happened, the sacrifice was offered up at long intervals. However, even the people had to be purified two or three days beforehand, so as to come clean to the sacrifice. As we read in the Old Testament, [Exodus 19:10] they even used to wash their clothes. If such regard was paid in what was only the figure, how much ought it to be shown in the reality! Learn then, Priest and Levite, what it means to wash your clothes. You must have a pure body wherewith to offer up the sacraments.” (On the Duties of the Clergy, Book 1, Chapter 50, Section 258, A.D. 391)
Objection: Saints Peter, Paul and Barnabas is confirmed by Paul himself to have had women with them during their travels. This proves that God does not approve of priestly or clerical chastity since the Apostles was not living in complete chastity.
1st Corinthians 9:3-7 “This is my defense to those who would examine me. Do we not have the right to our food and drink? Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a wife, as the other apostles and the brethren of the Lord and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?”
Answer: The word “Wife” in the English translation is more rightly translated in the Greek as, “a woman, a sister.” It cannot be deduced from this text that the Apostles were married, nor is there a single text in the whole New Testament that affirms that any of the Apostles were married during their ministry, or that anyone of them performed the marital sexual act during this time, although we do know that St. Peter, for one, was married at one time during his life since the Gospels mentions his mother in law (cf. Mk 1:29-31; Mt 8: 14-15; Lk 4:38-39). There is no evidence in the New Testament, however, that indicates that St. Peter’s wife was living during the time of Jesus’ ministry as well as after it when the Apostles started to minister to the nations, spreading the Christian Faith. Concerning the more right translation of the Greek as “a woman, a sister” the Gospels mention certain women as accompanying our Lord and his disciples, providing for them out of their resources and ministering to them (cf. Lk 8:1-3; 23:55). To meet their material needs some Apostles counted on the help of women, but Saints Paul and Barnabas did not avail of this right. A more correct translation shows us the correct meaning of this passage.
1st Corinthians 9:5-6 “Have we not power to carry about a woman, a sister, as well as the rest of the apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to do this? (Douay Rheims Bible)
Douay Rheims Bible Commentary explains verse 5 in further detail: “A woman, a sister: Some erroneous translators have corrupted this text by rendering it, a sister, a wife: whereas, it is certain, St. Paul had no wife (chap. 7 ver. 7, 8) and that he only speaks of such devout women, as, according to the custom of the Jewish nation, waited upon the preachers of the gospel, and supplied them with necessaries.”
According to a prominent tradition among the Church Fathers, Paul speaks, not of marriage, but of his right to be helped by a traveling female assistant (the word translated “wife” can also be translated “woman”). Precedent for such an arrangement can be traced back to the ministry of Jesus (Lk. 8:1-3).
Haydock Commentary: “Ver. 5. It appears certain, from the testimony of the fathers, that St. Paul was not in the state of wedlock. St. Jerome informs us that the apostle is here speaking of such holy women who, according to the Jewish custom, supplied their teachers with the necessaries of life, as we see was done to Christ himself. It is evident from ancient records that this was a very prevalent custom in Judea, and therefore a cause of no scandal; but to the Gentiles this custom was unknown, and therefore lest it might prove a cause of scandal to any, St. Paul did not allow any woman to follow him as a companion. Tertullian denies, with St. Augustine and St. Jerome, that St. Paul is here speaking of his wife.”
Finally, note the context: Paul is not talking about marriage, but about receiving monetary compensation and help with daily chores and needs in return for his evangelizing work. As a note says in the Knox version, “‘Sister’ does not imply any relationship, physical or spiritual; it only means that the woman was a Christian. St. Paul is not claiming credit here for avoiding the society of women; he only claims credit for living at his own expense, when other apostles supported not only themselves, but the women who waited on their needs, out of offerings made by the faithful.” See also Luke 18:25-30 and Matthew 19:12 for further background. Thus, this biblical passage (1st Cor. 9:5-6) does not show that the Apostles or their successors were allowed to perform the marital act during their life as priests. The teaching of clerical celibacy, as we have seen, was taught from the very start of the Church by Our Savior Himself as well as the Bible, the Holy Apostles and the Fathers of the Church.
The specific tradition of the Church also confirms that the Apostles lived in chastity. St. Clement of Alexandria (150-215) who lived very near in time to the Apostles, taught that the Apostles, after their calling by Our Lord to the ministry, took their wives with them not as women with whom they had marriage relations, but as sisters in purity and honesty: “But the latter [the Apostles], in accordance with their particular ministry, devoted themselves to preaching without any distraction, and took their wives with them not as women with whom they had marriage relations, but as sisters, that they might be their fellow-ministers in dealing with housewives. It was through them that the Lord’s teaching penetrated also the women’s quarters without any scandal being aroused.” (The Stromata or Miscellanies, Book III, Chapter VI, Section 71)
When we come to the question of what was the practice of Our Lord Jesus Christ’s first followers in this matter of clerical chastity, there would likewise be but little if any reasonable doubt. For while of the Apostles we have it recorded only of Peter that he was a married man, we have it also expressly recorded that in his case, as in that of all the rest who had “forsaken all” to follow Our Lord, the Lord himself said, “Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake shall receive an hundred fold and shall inherit eternal life.” (Matt. xix. 29; Lk. xviii. 29) Mark 10:29 records the same incident, but while “wife” is mentioned among the things “left,” no “wife” is found among the things gained.
St. Jerome, referred in Against Jovinianus to marriage prohibition for priests when he argued that Peter and the other apostles had been married, but had married before they were called and subsequently gave up their marital relations (Aduersus Jovinianum I, 7. 26 (PL 23, 230C; 256C).
In his Letter to Pammachius, Ep. 48.10 (c. 393), St. Jerome further wrote: “The apostles have either been virgins or, though married, have lived celibate lives. Those persons who are chosen to be bishops, priests, and deacons are either virgins or widowers; or at least when once they have received the priesthood, are vowed to perpetual chastity.” (The Letters of St. Jerome, Letter 48, To Pammachius, Section 21)