In the year 80 A.D., Pope St. Clement of Rome, who was ordained by St. Peter, said the apostles made what provisions for when a bishop should die:

a.     dead bishops should be succeeded by other approved men

b.     Direct successors would not be needed once the Bible was written


THE ANSWER IS…….. A…bishops should be succeeded by other approved men

Full quote: “ Through countryside and city [the apostles] preached, and they appointed their earliest converts, testing them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of future believers. Nor was this a novelty, for bishops and deacons had been written about a long time earlier....Our apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife for the office of bishop. For this reason, therefore, having received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed those who have already been mentioned and afterwards added further provision that, if they should die, other approved men should succeed to their ministry." (Pope Clement, Letter to the Corinthians, 42:4-5,44:1-3).

In the Early Church, the fact that the bishops of the Church must be direct successors of apostles, was universally held by Christians.

In 189 A.D., St. Irenaeus wrote “….we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the apostles and their successors down to our own times …..” (Against Heresies 3:31)

In 189 A.D., St. Irenaeus also wrote: “…..by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome…..” (Against Heresies 3:3:3)

In 253 A.D., St. Cyprian of Carthage wirtes that the heretic Novatian is not a real bishop because he was not ordained by a successor to an apostle. He says Novatian ordained himself because he hates Apostolic Tradition.  “Novatian is not in the Church; nor can he be reckoned as a bishop, who, succeeding to no one, and despising the evangelical and apostolic tradition, sprang from himself. For he who has not been ordained in the Church can neither have nor hold to the Church in any way.” (St. Cyprian of Carthage, Letter 75, To Magnus, On Baptizing the Novatians 3)

In 396 A.D., St. Jerome wrote: “Far be it from me to speak adversely of any of these clergy who, in succession from the apostles, confect by their sacred word the Body of Christ and through whose efforts, also it is that we are Christians” (Epistle 14, To Heliodorus, Monk 8)

Quotes compiled from the book “Why is That in Tradition?” by Patrick Madrid

For further quotes by Church Fathers on Apostolic Succession, see





http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/a11.htm (Authority in Early Church)





Back to StillCatholic.com









Quick Links on the Early Church: Church Fathers, Life of St. Augustine, St. Irenaeus (Bishop of Lyons), Clement of Rome, Clement of Alexandria, St. Ignatius of Antioch, Pelagianism, The Confessions by St. Augustine, The City of God by St. Augustine, the Martyrdom of Polycarp, Epistle to St. Polycarp, St. Basil the Great, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Cyprian of Carthage, St. Jerome, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Barnabas, St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose, Eusebius, The Faith of the Early Church Fathers book, Did the Church Fathers Believe in Sola Scriptura? Foundations of Protestantism, Still Catholic