What the Pope is doing in his Audiences


The excellent and gentlemanly Sandro Magister has a good summary piece on the Holy Father’s weekly Wednesday Audience series on the Fathers of the Church he began on 7 March last.  You should check it.  There are some good comments along the way which resonate with what I am trying to accomplish in some of my Patristic entries.  Here is the heart of it.

In this way, Benedict XVI is explaining to the faithful not so much the “what” of the Church, but the “who,” beginning with those who guided it during the first centuries, building up the great Tradition from which the Church of today draws.

The pope is careful, in fact, to bring to light each time not only the originality but also the perennial relevance of the work of each Father of the Church.

Here is what the Pope has systematically presented to date:

In the manner of prolegomena

Christ and the Church
The Apostles, Witnesses of Christ’
The Gift of "Communion"
Safeguarding the Gift of Communion
Communion in Time: Tradition
The Apostolic Tradition of the Church
The Apostolic Succession


The Apostles

Peter, the Fisherman
Peter, the Apostle
Peter, the Rock
Andrew, the Protoclete
James, the Greater
James, the Lesser
John, Son of Zebedee
John, the Theologian
John, the Seer of Patmos
Simon the Cananaean and Jude Thaddaeus
Judas Iscariot and Matthias

The Apostolic Tradition extended and continued and aided

Timothy and Titus
Stephen, the Protomartyr
Barnabas, Silas and Apollos
Priscilla and Aquila
Women at the Service of the Gospel

The Sub-Apostolic continuation

St. Clement, Bishop of Rome
Saint Ignatius of Antioch

Fathers of the Church

St Justin, Philosopher and Martyr
Saint Irenaeus of Lyons
Clement of Alexandria
Origen of Alexandria



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Geometricus says:

    I was not aware that the Holy Father was doing this. In his wisdom, the Pope has decided that our Church needs the Fathers very much right now. I loved the article in First Things last fall by Rusty Reno from Creighton U. on the Fathers. You can find it here: http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=5342&var_recherche=Reno+Fathers
    He says the Fathers are thoroughly steeped in a biblical worldview and so reading them would be an antidote to our many ills today. As a former evangelical, I would agree. There are few Catholics that are more effective than the ones who REALLY know the bible. And the seeming aimlessness of many, even supposedly devout Catholics, could be remedied by a thorough knowledge of Scripture, read with the mind of the Church, for which the Fathers make an excellent guide.

    Thank you for breaking open the Fathers using the new media, Fr. Z. I have truly enjoyed your podcazts. You are truly contributing to the new evangelization and the true renewal of Catholic life and culture.

  2. afanco says:

    I was never aware of Andrew’s title as Protoclete. He is my patron. I don’t even see the word protoclete on new advent.

    Does it just mean that he is the first called apostle? That is of course what he is. I also doubt it means fisherman…

  3. afanco says:

    Ok, I found it. I should have asked Google and/or Il Papa, first.

    “Andrew, then, was the first of the Apostles to be called to follow Jesus. Exactly for this reason the liturgy of the Byzantine Church honours him with the nickname: “Protokletos”, [protoclete] which means, precisely, “the first called”.”


  4. Tim says:

    Is there any resource that links to these audiences? It would be great to have these in one work.

  5. Geometricus says:

    And here is the Magister article Father mentions(English):

  6. Bob says:

    Does Origen really count as a Father of the Church in the light of his condemnation?

  7. Matthew Kennel says:

    I have been saving all the audiences (starting with those on the church last year) into a WOrd document. If anyone wants a copy, he can e-mail me at hansolo58@yahoo.com.

  8. Bob: I don’t see why not. Origen was of titanic importance in the early Church for our understanding of how to read Scripture. The condemnation of some of Origen’s ideas, understood and also misunderstood, as well as ideas imputed to Origen, rightly or wrongly, must be combed through carefully and grasped in its historical context. Also, there were some who gave Origen a very bad name by their extremism in some positions rooted in Origen’s writings. From the perspective of our 21st c. perch, it is simply too simplistic to say “Origen was condemned” and thus conclude that we don’t include him with the Fathers.

    No matter what, call him Father or not (So what? after all) you cannot talk about the early Church without talking about Origen. You cannot study the other Fathers without Origen in view.

    There are many such figures of even greater ambiguity of status, such as Tyconius, the Donatist thinker who so influenced Augustine’s approach to Scripture.

    Just because someone might get some point or other wrong, doesn’t mean that his entire output is thereby worthless.

  9. Adam van der Meer says:

    As one of my professors said, “Origen may have emasculated himself, but he didn’t cut himself off from the Church”.

  10. prof. Basto says:


    You forgot to mention the several audiences in the topic was St Paul
    Those were also part of the programme, and are listed in Magister´s site but
    are not in your list.

    I say this before someone starts thinking that the Pope ommited St. Paul.

    The several audiences on the Apostle of the Gentiles were held after the one
    about Judas Iscariot and Matthias and before that of Thimoty and Titus.

    There were a series of four audiences dedicated to the Apostle Paul:
    “Paul of Tarsus”; “St Paul’s New Outlook”;”St Paul and the Spirit”;
    “St Paul and the Church”.

  11. Richard says:

    I’d love to see all these released in a book once he finishes this series.

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