Q. Is there any historical evidence for the Papacy?
A. In the writings of the Early Church Fathers the fact of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome is taken for granted. In 80 A.D. the Corinthian Church kicked out their bishop and/or priest. Appeals were made to Pope Clement I, the fourth Bishop of Rome to settle the matter. And yet, the Apostle St. John was still alive at Ephesus and living a lot closer to Corinth than Rome. Never the less the appeals were made to the Pope because all knew that he had the authority to make a binding decision.
St. Irenaeus, a student of St. Polycarp (a disciple of St. John the Apostle), exhorts all “Christians (to) be united to the Church of Rome in order to maintain the Apostolic Tradition. He then made a list of all the Bishops of Rome up to his time. There is nothing in his writing that sounds like he is trying to be convincing but rather that all Christians take for granted that the Bishop of Rome is the head of the Church.
For 250 years the Roman Emperors tried to destroy Christianity through persecution. In the first 200 years of Christianity, every Pope but one was martyred. So, even the Romans knew that the Bishop of Rome was the head of the Church.
A Roman Emperor’s greatest fear was a rival to the throne. Nevertheless, the emperor Decius (249-251 A.D.) one of the harshest persecutors of the early Christian Church made the following remark:
I would far rather receive news of a rival to the throne than of another bishop of Rome. (Christian History, Issue 27 1990, vol IX, No. 3, p22)
Decius said this after he had executed Pope Fabian in 250 A.D.
-Beginning Apologetics by Fr. Frank Chacon and Jim Burnham