Roma Locuta Est – Causa Finita Est – Debunked Some More

Advocates of the papacy frequently allege that Augustine said, “Roma locuta est, causa finita est.”  Augustine did not say this.  My friend Dr. White debunked this urban legend some time ago.  Others have also debunked it.  I’d like to add my own two cents.

After all, I’ve recently encountered a couple of advocates of the papacy who argue that, although Augustine didn’t say “Roma locuta est,” he did say “causa finita est” (the cause is ended).  This is true.

Here’s the relevant portion from Sermon 131 in context:

For already two councils have, in this cause, sent letters to the Apostolic See, whence also rescripts have come back. The cause is ended: would that the error might some day end! Therefore we admonish so that they may take notice, we teach so that they may be instructed, we pray so that their way be changed.

Although he did say “the cause is ended,” this sound bite doesn’t actually help the papal advocate, for at least the following three reasons:

1) The appeal is to settled conciliar authority (not papal authority as such).  So, “Rome has spoken, the case is closed” is not a very accurate summary.  A more accurate summary would be “two councils have spoken – the case is closed.”  That’s not to say that the rescripts weren’t from Rome – they were.

2) The reference to rescripts is a reference to a response from Rome regarding the decisions of the councils. Such a rescript neither has its own infallibility nor gives infallibility to the decrees of the councils, whether considered by Roman standards of that day or this day.

3) Notice that there were two councils, not just one.  This is part of Augustine’s point.  His point is that, in terms of church court process, continuing this debate is beating a dead horse.  He’s not saying that two councils is a magic number, just as he’s not saying that getting a response from Rome magically makes the conciliar decisions correct. 

– TurretinFan


23 Responses to “Roma Locuta Est – Causa Finita Est – Debunked Some More”

  1. Algo Says:
  2. Coram Deo Says:
  3. Algo Says:
  4. turretinfan Says:
  5. Pete Holter Says:
  6. turretinfan Says:
  7. Pete Holter Says:
  8. rick pilgrim Says:
  9. Coram Deo Says:
  10. turretinfan Says:
  11. turretinfan Says:
  12. Pete Holter Says:
  13. turretinfan Says:
  14. Pete Holter Says:
  15. Coram Deo Says:
  16. Pete Holter Says:
  17. Constantine Says:
  18. Pete Holter Says:
  19. Coram Deo Says:
  20. Pete Holter Says:
  21. Constantine Says:
  22. Pete Holter Says:
  23. Reformed Apologist Says:

    Augustine's homily on John 21:19-25 clearly puts forth that Christ and not Peter is the Rock. Augustine notes that the rock that Peter confessed is the foundation upon which the church is built (as well as Peter himself). “For the Rock (Petra) was Christ, and on this foundation was Peter himself also built. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus.”

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