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Article Ten

Whether it is for the Chief Pontiff to Draw Up the Symbol of the Faith

We proceed to the tenth article thus:

1. It seems that it is not for the chief pontiff to draw up the symbol of the faith. For it is in order to make the articles of faith explicit that a new edition of the symbol is required, as was said in the preceding article. Now in the Old Testament, the articles of faith became more and more explicit as time went on, because the truth of faith became more apparent as the time of Christ drew near, as was said in Art. 7. But this reason ceased when the New Law came. There is consequently no need for the articles of faith to be made more and more explicit. It seems, therefore, that the chief pontiff has no authority to draw up a new edition of the symbol.

2. Again, no man is entitled to do what has been forbidden by the universal Church under penalty of anathema. Now a new edition of the symbol was forbidden by the universal Church under penalty of anathema. For it is stated in the acts 239of the first synod of Ephesus (p. 2, act. 6 in decreto de fide.): “After the Nicene Symbol had been read, the holy synod decreed that it was unlawful for anyone to proffer, write, or compose any other faith than that denned by the holy Fathers who assembled in the Holy Spirit at Nicaea,” and this was forbidden under penalty of anathema. Moreover, the same is reaffirmed in the acts of the synod of Chalcedon (p. 2, act. 5). Hence it seems that the chief pontiff has no authority to draw up a new edition of the symbol.

3. Again, Athanasius was not a chief pontiff, but patriarch of Alexandria. Yet he formulated a symbol, and it is sung in the Church. Thus it seems that the right to draw up a symbol does not belong to the chief pontiff any more than to others.

On the other hand: the edition of the symbol was formulated in a general synod. Now a general synod can be assembled only by authority of the chief pontiff, as stated in the Decretals, Dist. 17, chs. 4 and 5. The authority to draw up a symbol therefore lies with the chief pontiff.

I answer: as the first point affirms, a new edition of the symbol is necessary when incipient errors have to be avoided. The authority to draw up a new edition of the symbol therefore lies with him who has authority to determine matters of faith with finality, so that everyone may hold them in faith with confidence. Now authority to do this lies with the chief pontiff, to whom the major and more difficult problems of the Church are referred, as stated in the Decretals (extra. de Baptismo, cap. Majores). Thus the Lord said to Peter, whom he made chief pontiff, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:32). The reason for this is that there ought to be only one faith of the whole Church, in accordance with I Cor. 1:10: “that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you.” Now this is possible only if a question which arises concerning the faith is settled by him who rules over the whole Church, and his pronouncement firmly maintained in the whole Church. Hence the chief pontiff alone has authority to draw up a new edition of the symbol, just as he alone has authority in any other matter which affects the whole Church, such as the calling of a general synod, and the like.

On the first point: the truth of faith is sufficiently explicit in the teaching of Christ and the apostles. But since perverse men pervert the apostolic teaching, and also other doctrines and scriptures unto their own destruction, according to II Pet. 3:16, 240it has been necessary in later times to make the faith explicit, against incipient errors.

On the second point: this prohibition and pronouncement of the synod referred to private individuals, who have no authority to determine matters concerning the faith. But such a pronouncement by a general synod did not deny the right of a future synod to make a new edition of the symbol—not indeed containing a new faith, but expounding the same faith more fully. Indeed every synod has observed that a future synod would expound something more fully than a previous synod, should some heresy arise to make it necessary. This is consequently a matter for the chief pontiff, who has the authority to call a general synod, and also to confirm its pronouncements.

On the third point: it is clear from its very manner of expression that Athanasius did not compose his declaration of faith as a symbol, but rather as a doctrine. But because his doctrine contained the pure truth of faith in a concise form, it was accepted as a rule of faith by authority of the chief pontiff.

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