With regard to community leaders, Clement clearly explains the doctrine of Apostolic Succession. The norms that regulate it derive ultimately from God himself. The Father sent Jesus Christ, who in turn sent the Apostles. They then sent the first heads of communities and established that they would be succeeded by other worthy men.
A BRIEF SUMMARY OF BENEDICT’S TALK ON
“SAINT CLEMENT, BISHOP OF ROME”
Given March 7, 2007
The book Church Fathers: From Clement of Rome to Augustine is a collection of speeches given by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI about the Church Fathers, the immediate successors of the Apostles. Benedict states in the first Chapter of this book, “Saint Clement, Bishop of Rome,” that these fathers represented the “first and second generations in the Church subsequent to the Apostles.”
The first chapter of Church Fathers contains Benedict’s talk on Clement, the Pope who succeeded Anacletus and Linus as successor of St. Peter. Pope Saint Clement is significant because he was the first to exercise the Roman primacy over the Church after St. Peter’s death. Pope Clement’s exercise of Roman primacy took the form of his Letter to the Corinthians. The letter was occasioned by some dissension at the Church in Corinth. Pope Clement “wrote it in the name of the Church of Rome to the Church of Corinth, when a sedition had arisen in the latter Church.” Some young members of the Church of Corinth had deposed the elders. According to Benedict, the letter “must have been written just after” the Emperor Domitian’s “death and at the end of” his persecution of Christians following “the year 96.”
To quell the dissension that had arisen, Clement’s letter recommends a strengthening of virtue amongst the members of the Church of Corinth and also reminds the Corinthians that the order of the Church was ordained by Christ himself and not by mere men. The letter indicates that the abuses in Corinth resulted from a weakening of Charity and other Christian virtues. Benedict tells us that Clement “therefore calls the faithful to humility and fraternal love . . .” Clement’s letter was also intended to restore order. According to Benedict:
Benedict summarizes Clement’s view of the Church’s order: “The Church, in fact, is not a place of confusion and anarchy where one can do what one likes all the time: each one in this organism, with an articulated structure, exercises his ministry in accordance with the vocation he has received.”