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Primacy of Peter – what does this mean?
Posted By Eric Sammons On January 27, 2010 @ 9:12 am In Eastern Christianity,Ecumenism | Comments Disabled
Anyone who even slightly follows Catholic-Orthodox relations knows that the Petrine ministry is at the forefront of the divisions between West and East. Both Catholics and Orthodox accept a primacy for the bishop of Rome, but the biggest conflict is in interpreting what that primacy means in practice. Does the Pope have full universal jurisdiction over the Church as well as the ability declare a doctrine infallible, or does he have only a primacy which is mostly one of honor as the “first among equals”? This is the seemingly intractable problem which faces a potential reunion between the two Churches.
Much of the debate surrounds how the office of the papacy was practiced during the first millennium, when the two Churches were in full communion. This is the topic that a high-level Catholic-Orthodox commission has been discussing in recent years . Most interesting for those of us who have been following this commission over the years is that the Italian blog Chiesa has leaked a document that was written by the commission over a year ago:
Take the time to read this document in full; it is fascinating reading.
One insight which the commission has emphasized, and which I have always found striking, is that East and West didn’t agree on the role of the Pope even in the first millennium, yet remained (mostly) in full communion during that time. In other words, their variant views on how the pope exercised his primacy wasn’t a communion-breaking issue. I think this tells us something important.
Of course, even if the two Churches came to agreement on how the pope exercised his primacy in the first millennium, we still have the second millennium to deal with, when the two views diverged much more widely, culminating in the Vatican I pronouncements of papal infallibility and universal jurisdiction. But still, an agreement on first millennium practice would be a huge step forward.
Sts. Peter and Paul, pray for us!
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URL to article: http://ericsammons.com/blog/2010/01/27/primacy-of-peter-what-does-this-mean/
URLs in this post:
 a high-level Catholic-Orthodox commission has been discussing in recent years: http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1341841?eng=y
 The Role of the Bishop of Rome in the Communion of the Church in the First Millennium: http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1341814?eng=y
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