Catholic Apologetics Catholic Apologetics 



"The Church after Constantine began to fall into error by teaching pagan doctrines. It was the Reformers of the Sixteenth Century who restored true doctrine."

The Roman Catholic Church is not a church of man, but the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Only the Roman Catholic Church can trace its history back to the time of Christ and His Apostles, when Christ spoke the following immortal words to St. Peter: "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it" (St. Matt. 16, 18).

Further, before Our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven from Mount Olivet, He commanded His disciples as follows: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (St. Matt. 28, 19-20). These words of Our Lord were addressed not only to St. Peter and the other Twelve, but also to their lawful successors.

It is through the Holy Spirit that Christ’s perpetual assistance to the Church against hell and error is conveyed: "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth...he abides with you, and he will be in you...the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you" (St. John 14, 16-17; 26). Consequently, it is impossible for the Church, which is the "body of Christ" (Eph. 1, 23) to apostasize into error or be destroyed.

As the Church founded by Our Lord is made up of teachers and believers, the gift of infallibility will protect Her both in teaching and belief. Infallibility is "active" in the "Church teaching" and "passive" in the "Church believing." The "Church teaching" consists of the successors to the Apostles, namely, the Pope of Rome and all the Bishops of the world united under him; the "Church believing" is the entire body of all the faithful professing the Catholic Faith.

The Church may convey Her infallible teaching either in solemn pronouncements or through her ordinary teaching. Her solemn pronouncements include all doctrines contained in the four great Creeds (Apostles’, Nicene, Athanasian, Profession of Pius IV), the Definitions of the Popes, or General Councils deliberating under the Pope’s direction. The Church’s ordinary teaching is that doctrine taught by the Pope and the Bishops of the world in the every-day exercise of their pastoral office without interruption since Apostolic times.

Individual Bishops of the Church are not infallible in themselves, but only when they act collectively in union with the Pope. Further, no individual member of the Church is infallible in belief, not even the Pope. The Pope’s infallibility pertains only to his teaching office, not to his personal beliefs.

The object of the Church’s infallibility is the Deposit of Faith. This includes all doctrines delivered by Christ and His Apostles and forming God’s public revelation to mankind. These doctrines are found in the Sacred Scriptures and Tradition. The Sacred Scriptures include all the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments as contained in the Greek Septuagint version; Tradition embraces all those truths which have been passed on from age to age either orally, in the writings of the Church Fathers, in the Acts of the Martyrs, in early paintings and inscriptions, in the practices and customs of the Universal Church etc.

The Fathers:

St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies (C. 180 A.D.):

" When, therefore, we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek among others the truth which is easily obtained from the Church. For the Apostles, like a rich man in a bank, deposited with her most copiously everything which pertains to the truth; and everyone whosoever wishes draws from her the drink of life. For she is the entrance to life, while all the rest are thieves and robbers. That is why it is surely necessary to avoid them, while cherishing with the utmost diligence the things pertaining to the Church, and to lay hold of the tradition of truth. What then? If there should be a dispute over some kind of question, ought we not have recourse to the most ancient Churches in which the Apostles were familiar, and draw from them what is clear and certain in regard to that question? What if the Apostles had not in fact left writings to us? Would it not be necessary to follow the order of tradition, which was handed down to those to whom they entrusted the Churches?"

Tertullian, The Demurrer Against the Heretics (C. 200 A.D.):

"Grant, then, that all have erred; that the Apostle was mistaken in bearing witness; that the Holy Spirit had no such consideration for any one Church as to lead it into truth, although He was sent for that purpose by Christ, who had asked the Father to make Him the Teacher of truth; that the Steward of God and Vicar of Christ neglected His office, and permitted the Churches for a time to understand otherwise and to believe otherwise than He Himself had preached through the Apostles: now, is it likely that so many and such great Churches should have gone astray into a unity of faith?"

St. Athanasius (+373 A.D.), Letter on the Councils of Ariminum and Seleucia:

"Without prefixing Consulate, month, and day, (the Fathers) wrote concerning Easter, ‘It seemed good as follows,’ for it did then seem good that there should be a general compliance; but about the faith they wrote not, ‘It seemed good,’ but, ‘thus believes the Catholic Church’; and thereupon they confessed how they believed, in order to show that their own sentiments were not novel, but Apostolic; and what they wrote down was no discovery of theirs, but is the same as was taught by the Apostles."

St. Ambrose of Milan, Letter to the Emperor Valentinian II (386 A.D.):

"This (denial of the divinity of Christ) was written in the Council of Rimini, and I am right when I shiver at the thought of that Council. I follow the teaching of the Council of Nicaea, from which neither death nor the sword shall ever be able to separate me."

St Augustine of Hippo, Against the Letter of Mani (397 A.D.):

"If you should find someone who does not yet believe in the Gospel, what would you answer him when he says: ‘I do not believe’? Indeed, I would not believe in the Gospel myself if the authority of the Catholic Church did not influence me to do so."

Catechism of the Council of Trent (1566):

For the Holy Ghost, who presides over the Church, governs her by no other ministers than those of Apostolic succession. This Spirit, first imparted to the Apostles, has by the infinite goodness of God always continued in the Church. And just as this one Church cannot err in faith or morals, since it is guided by the Holy Ghost; so, on the contrary, all other societies arrogating to themselves the name of church, must necessarily, because guided by the spirit of the Devil, be sunk in the most pernicious errors, both doctrinal and moral.

Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992):

No. 889: In order to preserve the Church in the purity of the faith handed on by the apostles, Christ who is the Truth willed to confer on her a share in his own infallibility. By a "supernatural sense of faith" the People of God, under the guidance of the Church’s living Magisterium, "unfailingly adheres to this faith."

No. 892: Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a "definitive manner," they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful "are to adhere to it with religious assent" which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it.



"St. Peter was not the head of the other Apostles. All of them were equal in power and authority!"

It has been said by those outside the Church that if you disprove the primacy of St. Peter (i.e., show that he was not the leader of, but only equal to, the other Apostles) you undermine the very foundations of the Catholic Church.

From the Bible it is evident in numerous places that St. Peter was chosen by Christ and regarded by others as the head of the Apostles:

(1) The keys of the Kingdom of Heaven to bind and loose on earth were given by Our Lord to St. Peter. (St. Matt. 16, 19);

(2) St. Peter’s name is listed first when he, St. James and St. John are mentioned as being with Our Lord at the Transfiguration (St. Matt. 17, 1);

(3) Our Lord made St. Peter’s home His headquarters while staying in Capernaum (St. Mark 1, 29);

(4) The resurrection of Christ was first pronounced by the angel to St. Peter (St. Mark 16, 7);

(5) Our Lord prayed for St. Peter alone and instructed him to "strengthen your brethren" (St. Luke 22, 31-32);

(6) After His resurrection, of all the Apostles Our Lord first appeared to St. Peter (St. Luke 24);

(7) At His first meeting with St. Peter, Our Lord gave him the new name of "Cephas" (Rock) (St. John 1, 42);

(8) It was to St. Peter that Our Lord entrusted the care of His flock, lambs and sheep (St. John 21, 15-17);

(9) The election that chose St. Matthias as the replacement for Judas was conducted by St. Peter (Acts 1, 25);

(10) The first miracle at the Temple was performed by St. Peter (Acts 3);

(11) St. Peter replied to the Sanhedrin on behalf of the Church (Acts 4);

(12) The case of Ananias and Saphira was judged by St. Peter (Acts 5);

(13) St. Peter was the first to preach to the Jews (Acts 2, 14) and to receive Gentiles into the Church (Acts 11);

(14) At the Council of Jerusalem, the multitudes "kept silence" after St. Peter rose up and spoke (Acts 15, 12);

(15) After his conversion St. Paul first went to St. Peter (Gal. 1, 18);

(16) The lists of Apostles in St. Matt. 10; St. Mark 3; St. Luke 6; Acts 1, all place the name of St. Peter first;

(17) In the New Testament, St. Peter is mentioned 195 times. St. John is the next highest, only 29 times.

Commenting on St. Luke 22, 31-32, Ethelbert Stauffer, a Lutheran scholar notes:

"What is the basis of Peter’s unique position? Not upon any special qualification of the apostle, but upon the intercession of the Lord...In praying specially for Peter, Jesus is protecting and delivering the young community as a whole. He prays for fallen Peter so that Peter uplifted might strengthen his brethren in the faith, and so all attain the goal reserved for them - the Kingdom. So in this one saying it is made clear that the only possible ground of the Church’s existence and the very basis of its life is the mediatorial office of Christ, and also that Peter’s own mediatorial function is to be co-ordinated with and subordinated to this Christological office of the mediator."1

It is unreasonable to assert that the unique power and authority held by St. Peter was to die with him. To believe this would be to believe that Christ would leave the Church on earth without central leadership for more than nineteen centuries. On the contrary, it has always been the universal view of Christendom that St. Peter continues to govern the Church with the same power and authority given him by Christ in the person of his lawful successors, that is, those who occupy the See of Rome, namely, the Popes.

The Fathers:

St. Clement of Rome, Letter to the Corinthians (C. 98 A.D.):

"The Church of God which sojourns in Rome to the Church of God which sojourns in Corinth...Owing to the sudden and repeated calamities and misfortunes which have befallen us, we must acknowledge that we have been somewhat tardy in turning our attention to the matters in dispute among you."

Shepherd of Hermas (C. 140-150 A.D.):

[Hermas recounts that the old woman who is the Church came to him in a vision and said:] "Therefore shall you write two little books and send one to Clement and one to Grapte. Clement shall then send it to the cities abroad, because that is his duty; and Grapte shall instruct the widows and the orphans. But you shall read it in this city along with the presbyters who are in charge of the Church."

St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies (C. 180 A.D.):

"The successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient Church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul, that Church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the Apostles. For with this the whole world; and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the Apostolic tradition..."

St. Cyprian of Carthage, Letter to all His People (251 A.D.):

"There is one God and one Christ, and one Church, and one Chair founded on Peter by the word of the Lord. It is not possible to set up another altar or for there to be another priesthood besides that one altar and that one priesthood. Whoever has gathered elsewhere is scattering."

St. Jerome (+420 A.D.), Ad Damasum:

"I speak with the successor of the fisherman...Though I acknowledge none as first except Christ, I am joined in communion with your Holiness, that is to say, in communion with the Chair of Peter. I know that it is upon that rock that the Church has been built."

St. Augustine of Hippo (+430 A.D.), Ps. In Par. Donat.:

"Run through the list of those priests who have occupied the See of Peter Himself; and in that list of Fathers, see who succeeded to whom. This is the Rock which the proud Gates of Hell do not overcome."

Catechism of the Council of Trent (1566):

The Church has but one ruler and one governor, the invisible one, Christ, whom the eternal Father hath made head over all the Church, which is his body; the visible one, the Pope, who, as legitimate successor of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, fills the Apostolic chair.

Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992):

No. 880: When Christ instituted the Twelve, "he constituted [them] in the form of a college or permanent assembly, at the head of which he placed Peter, chosen from among them." Just as "by the Lord’s institution, St. Peter and the rest of the apostles constitute a single apostolic college, so in like fashion the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, and the bishops, the successors of the apostles, are related with and united to one another."

No. 881: The Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the "rock" of his Church. He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock. The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of apostles united to its head. This pastoral office of Peter and the other apostles belongs to the Church’s very foundation and is continued by the bishops under the primacy of the Pope.

No. 882: The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, "is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful." "For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered."



"How can today’s Pope, the Bishop of Rome, be the modern-day successor to St. Peter when St. Peter himself never visited Rome?!"

The case is stated bluntly by Loraine Boettner in Roman Catholicism, the "Bible" of Anti-Catholic Fundamentalism:

"The remarkable thing, however, about Peter’s alleged bishopric in Rome is that the New Testament has not one word to say about it. The word Rome occurs only nine times in the Bible, and never is Peter mentioned in connection with it. There is no allusion to Rome in either of his epistles. Paul’s journey to the city is recorded in great detail (Acts 27 and 28). There is in fact no New Testament evidence, nor any historical proof of any kind, that Peter ever was in Rome. All rests on legend" (p. 117).

Boettner only illustrates his ignorance in writing such a paragraph. At the end of his first epistle St. Peter writes: "Your sister church in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark" (1 Pet. 5, 13). Babylon was no doubt an early Christian code word for Rome.

Further, the term Babylon is used six times in the Book of Revelation in the same way:

"Then another angel, a second, followed, saying, Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication" (v. 14, 8);

"The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. God remembered great Babylon and gave her the wine-cup of the fury of his wrath" (v. 16, 19);

"...and on her forehead was written a name, a mystery: Babylon the great, mother of whores and of earth's abominations" (v. 17, 5);

"He called out with a mighty voice, Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!" (v. 18, 2);

"...they will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, Alas, alas, the great city, Babylon, the mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come" (v. 18, 10);

"With such violence Babylon the great city will be thrown down, and will be found no more" (v. 18, 21).

Babylon can only refer to Rome as it was the only true "great city" in the time of Christ and the Apostles. Babylon proper in Mesopotamia had, by 100 A.D., been reduced to an inconsequential status.

The actual story of the discovery of St. Peter’s tomb and his skeletal remains spreads over centuries. On the site where St. Peter’s Basilica now stands stood originally a chariot race-course track built by the Emperor Caligula. All that remains of that race-track today is the tall Egyptian obelisk standing in the middle of the piazza. Nearby, at a small distance from the stone structure of the race-track, along the Via Cornelia, was a pagan burial-ground lying in a knoll called Vaticanus ("vatis" in Latin meaning prophet). It was in this burial-ground that the bones of St. Peter, wrapped in linen, was laid after his martyrdom.

St. Anacletus, third Bishop of Rome, erected a shrine over St. Peter’s grave which was visible to all those who passed by Vatican Hill. This shrine, despite the persecutions, became a familiar meeting place for Christians from the beginning and was mentioned in the Acts of St. Sebastian and in the writings of St. Marcius and St. Maurus dating from the third century.

In the early fourth century, the Emperor Constantine allowed Pope Sylvester I to construct a large new church over the burial place of St. Peter and the remains of other early Popes now gathered there. The stones for this new church were quarried from the old race-course and the structure of St. Peter’s shrine became the high altar. Begun in 326, this church was finally completed in 349. It contained five naves, fifty-two altars with seven hundred candles burning day and night, and golden mosaics decorating the walls and arches.

The actual bones of St. Peter were taken out of their shrine by Constantine, covered in fine purple cloth interwoven with gold, put into a box, and placed into a niche of a nearby wall (Wall G) to protect them from humidity. This wall was later covered by red plaster. The original burial place of St. Peter was also walled off to protect it from injury and the outside world, only to become lost for the next sixteen hundred years.

In 1506, it was decided, due to subsidence and decay, to replace the old church built by Constantine with a grand new basilica. In 1626, Bernini, testing the floor over St. Peter’s burial place for the erection of his weighty balbacchino, came across numerous skeletons. These skeletons were arranged like spokes of a wheel, pointing to a central spot under the high altar.

More than three hundred years later, Pope Pius XII, in March 1939, ordered excavations under St. Peter’s to find "the fundaments of our faith." In a public radio broadcast on 23rd December 1950, Pope Pius announced to the world that the original tomb of St. Peter had been discovered. It lay 25 feet beneath the high altar and was decorated with Christian mosaics of a fisherman with a rod, one of the Good Shepherd, and another of Jonah and the whale.

However, the bones of St. Peter still remained missing. It had been noticed that during the excavations for the tomb pieces of red plaster which had been chipped off a nearby wall (Wall G) had Greek inscriptions carved on them. By chance, on 2nd August, 1951, a Jesuit excavator noticed a piece 1 by 3 inches in size with the words "Petros eni" (Peter is here) on it and put it into his pocket and took it home. When Pius XII heard of this he ordered the Jesuit to return the fragment.

In 1953, it was found that the inscriptions on Wall G also included many other references to St. Peter, accompanied by the names of Jesus and Mary, the letters "PE" joined in the form of a key, and the name of Peter intersected by the names of Jesus and Mary. All this indicated that the bones of St. Peter could not be far away.

In fact, more than 10 years earlier, in 1941, excavators had emptied the niche in Wall G. Included in the material collected were bones which were dusted, freed from the other rubble, and put into a wooden box and stored in the humid area of the underground grotto. In 1962, these bones were analyzed. Together, they made up half a skeleton all belonging to one person who was male and robust, between 60 - 70 years of age, and stood about 5’ 5" tall. With the bones were fragments of purple cloth interwoven with gold threads, the same type of cloth Constantine had ordered the bones of St. Peter to be wrapped in when transferring them in the early fourth century. Finally, the earth particles covering the bones were found to be identical in type to the soil in St. Peter’s original tomb. The evidence all now pointed to only one conclusion.

Pope Paul VI announced to one of the excavators that "those bones are like gold to us." On June 26, 1968, he surprised the world by announcing officially that the bones of St. Peter had finally been rediscovered and identified.

The Fathers:

In all, there are about 30 references in the writings of the early Church Fathers attesting to St. Peter visiting Rome:

Dionysius of Corinth, To Pope Soter (C. 170 A.D.):

"You have also, by your very admonition, brought together the planting that was made by Peter and Paul at Rome."

St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies (C. 180 A.D.):

(noted that St. Matthew wrote his Gospel):

"While Peter and Paul were evangelizing in Rome and laying the foundation of the Church."

St. Clement of Alexandria (+217 A.D.)1 :

"When Peter preached the Word publicly at Rome, and declared the Gospel by the Spirit, many who were present requested that Mark, who had been for a long time his follower and who remembered his sayings, should write down what had been proclaimed."

Tertullian (+C. 220 A.D.), De Praesciptione Haereticorum 36, 1:

"How happy is that Church...where Peter endured a passion like that of the Lord, where Paul was crowned in a death like John’s."

Eusebius Pamphilius, Historia Ecclesiastica 2, 15, 4 (303 A.D.):

"It is said that Peter’s first epistle, in which he makes mention of Mark, was composed at Rome itself; and that he himself indicates this, referring to the city figuratively as Babylon."

Eusebius Pamphilius, Chron. ad an. Dom 42 ad an. Dom. 68:

"The second year of the two hundredth and fifth Olympiad (42 A.D.) the apostle Peter, after he has established the Church in Antioch, is sent to Rome, where he remains a bishop of that city, preaching the gospel for twenty five years...Nero is the first, in addition to all other crimes, to make a persecution against the Christians, in which Peter and Paul died gloriously in Rome."

Peter of Alexandria, De Paenitentia, Canon 9 (311 A.D.):

"Peter, first chosen of the apostles, having been apprehended often and thrown into prison and treated with ignominy, at last was crucified in Rome."

Catechism of the Council of Trent (1566):

The Catechism of the Council of Trent did not directly refer to the question of whether St. Peter had ever been in Rome, but quotes the following from Optatus of Milevi (De Schism. Donat. ii. 2):

"You cannot be excused on the score of ignorance, knowing as you do that in the city of Rome the episcopal chair was first conferred on Peter, who occupied it as head of the Apostles..."

Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992):

Likewise, the Catechism of the Catholic Church makes no direct statement on the question of whether St. Peter ever visited Rome, but re-affirms that the Pope is "the Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor" (No. 882).



"How can an ordinary man be infallible? This belongs to God alone. The Pope can commit sin like anyone else!"

The true Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ cannot teach error with respect to anything relating to faith or morals, otherwise it would not be the true Church. Following from this, it is logical that the supreme head of the true Church must also be a guaranteed source of perpetual truth.

Christ, foreseeing that false teachers would arise - "false messiahs and false prophets will appear" (St. Mark 13, 22) - provided a tribunal to infallibly decide all controversies about written and unwritten doctrine. This infallible tribunal is centered in the teaching authority of the Pope.

The Scriptural proofs for Papal infallibility are as follows:

(i) "...And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it"(St. Matt. 16, 18). From these words there is no doubt that St. Peter (and his successors) was to be the rock-foundation of the Church and the source of its indefectibility against the forces of hell. This indefectibility must include, by implication, protection from doctrinal error, and this protection cannot be effectively secured without infallibility;

(ii) "Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brethren" (St. Luke 22, 31-32). This prayer of Christ was for St. Peter alone, conferring on him (and his successors) the office of authoritatively strengthening the brethren - that is, the other Apostles and the Church in general. As we cannot deny the efficacy of Christ’s prayer, the implication is that infallibility is also bestowed;

(iii) "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these? He said to him, Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. Jesus said to him, Feed my lambs. A second time he said to him, Simon son of John, do you love me? He said to him, Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. Jesus said to him, Tend my sheep. He said to him the third time, Simon son of John, do you love me? Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, Do you love me? And he said to him, Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you. Jesus said to him, Feed my sheep" (St. John 21, 15-17). Our Lord in these words bestows upon St. Peter (and his successors) the supreme pastoral charge over all His flock, an authority which undoubtedly includes feeding the faithful with the true food of divine truth. However, this charge cannot effectively secure the unity of the Church in truth unless there is attached to it infallibility.

What has the Protestant denial of the Pope’s infallibility produced except the creation of many thousands of Protestant "popes" and an anarchy of private self-interpretation of the Bible?

Must Catholics regard everything that the Pope says as infallibly true? The First Vatican Council (1870) defined Papal Infallibility as follows:

"...the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when, in discharge of the office of pastor and teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, is, by the divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, possessed of that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed that His Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals; and that, therefore, such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, irreformable."

Consequently, the Pope is only infallible when:

(i) He speaks Ex Cathedra, ie., as supreme teacher of the universal Church. He is not infallible in any other capacity;

(ii) When he defines a doctrine absolutely and finally;

(iii) When he treats of faith or morals;

(iv) When he clearly shows his intention of binding the universal Church.

Infallibility has nothing whatsoever to do with the personal morality of the Pope. He is capable of committing sin like any other person. No connection exists between the idea of impeccability, which means immunity from sin, and infallibility, which is freedom from error in teaching the doctrines of Christ.

"Was not the doctrine of Papal infallibility invented in 1870 by the First Vatican Council?"

No. The First Vatican Council simply defined a doctrine that had always existed in the "breast" of the Church. This is proven by the fact that the Popes had made 13 infallible pronouncements before 1870 - for example, the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Pius IX in 1854.

"How could St. Peter as first Pope be infallible when it is clear from the Bible that on one occasion St. Paul proved him wrong (Gal. 2, 11-14)?"

In this episode St. Paul withstood St. Peter "to his face" about St. Peter withdrawing himself from the table of the Gentiles for fear of offending the Jewish converts. St. Paul did convince St. Peter that he was wrong to do this. Nevertheless, infallibility was not involved as the issue was one of prudence and expedience, not faith and morals.

The Fathers:

Tertullian, The Demurrer Against the Heretics (C. 200 A.D.):

"Moreover, if Peter was reproached [by Paul] because, after having lived with the gentiles, he later separated himself from their company out of respect for persons, the fault certainly was one of procedure and not of doctrine."

St. Cyprian of Carthage, Letter to Cornelius of Rome (C. 252 A.D.):

"With a false bishop appointed for themselves by heretics, they dare even to set sail and carry letters from schismatics and blasphemers to the chair of Peter and to the principal Church, in which sacerdotal unity has its source; nor did they take thought that these are Romans, whose faith was praised by the preaching Apostle, and among whom it is not possible for perfidy to have entrance."

St. Augustine of Hippo, Sermons (Inter 391-430 A.D.):

"(On this matter of the Pelagians) two Councils have already been sent to the Apostolic See; and from there rescripts too have come. The matter is at an end; would that the error too might some time be at an end."

St. Peter Chrysologus, Letter to Eutyches (449 A.D.):

"We exhort you in every respect, honorable brother, to heed obediently what has been written by the Most Blessed Pope of the City of Rome; for Blessed Peter, who lives and presides in his own see, provides the truth of faith to those who seek it. For we, by reason of our pursuit of peace and faith, cannot try cases on the faith without the consent of the Bishop of the City of Rome."

Catechism of the Council of Trent (1566):

So has (Christ) placed over His Church, which He governs by His invisible Spirit, a man to be His vicar and the minister of His power. A visible Church requires a visible head; therefore the Savior appointed Peter head and pastor of all the faithful, when He committed to his care the feeding of all His sheep, in such ample terms that He willed the very same power of ruling and governing the entire Church to descend to Peter’s successors.

Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992):

No. 891: The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful - who confirms his brethren in the faith - he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals.... the infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium, above all in an Ecumenical Council. When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine "for belief as being divinely revealed," and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions "must be adhered to with the obedience of faith." This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.

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