Monday, June 06, 2011

Archbishop says: Eastern Orthodox “never shared the Petrine theology as elaborated in Rome”

Archbishop Roland Minnerath, who was a contributor to the Vatican’s 1989 Historical and Theological Symposium, which was directed by the Vatican’s Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, at the request of the then Cardinal Ratzinger’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on the theme: “The Primacy of the Bishop of Rome in the First Millennium: Research and Evidence,” has made the admission that the Eastern Orthodox churches “never shared the Petrine theology as elaborated in the West.”

This admission is especially noteworthy given that Minnerath was in the inner circle of the Vatican’s own studies of the early papacy, and had written the paper for the Vatican symposium on “La position de l'Eglise de Rome aux trois premiers Siècles” (“The position of the Church of Rome during the first three centuries”). The study was never published in English.

Minnerath’s statement came at the conclusion of a presentation for a 2004 ecumenical symposium in Farfa Sabina, Italy (50 miles from Rome) entitled “The Petrine Ministry in the Early Patristic Tradition,” in which he outlined “the development” of – “the rise of” – the bishops of Rome in the West. Here’s the statement in context:
In the first millennium there was no question of the Roman bishops governing the church in distant solitude. They used to take their decisions together with their synod, held once or twice a year. When matters of universal concern arose, they resorted to the ecumenical council. Even [Pope] Leo [I], who struggled for the apostolic principle over the political one, acknowledged that only the emperor would have the power to convoke an ecumenical council and protect the church.

At the heart of the estrangement that progressively arose between East and West, there may be a historical misunderstanding. The East never shared the Petrine theology as elaborated in the West. It never accepted that the protos in the universal church could claim to be the unique successor or vicar of Peter. So the East assumed that the synodal constitution of the church would be jeopardized by the very existence of a Petrine office with potentially universal competencies in the government of the church
(in How Can the Petrine Ministry Be a Service to the Unity of the Universal Church? James F. Puglisi, Editor, Grand Rapids, MI and Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, ©2010, pgs. 34-48).
The statement came at the end of a typically long explication of this rise, noting that “Victor had done this” and “Stephen had said that” and in the end “Leo cited Roman law according to which an heir receives the goods and the rights of the testator, and constitutes with him the same legal person.” The problem with this statement, as Minnerath noted sheepishly at the end, was that the Eastern Orthodox churches had never bought into that line of thinking.

A Personal Opinion
As I’ve written in the past, the early papacy is a clear example of Rome having assumed too much for itself. It was not mindful of this parable of Jesus:
Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:7-14)
It is to Minnerath’s credit to make this admission, but where was he 1500 years ago?

Clearly, the Eastern Orthodox were in the right to reject papal claims, and it is they who were wronged in the 1054 split. Martin Luther was right to reject papal claims; the Reformers who called the papacy “antichrist” had legitimate complaints. The 500-year split in the Western churches is clearly the fault of Rome’s over-reaching.

Minnerath’s statement came in the context of an “ecumenical symposium” (and one seemingly sponsored by Rome). But this is no time to see if a “Petrine ministry” can bring unity to the church. What’s required is that Rome give up a 1500 year charade – which, it is evident, has caused immeasurable harm to the cause of Christ in the history of the church – and it must genuinely repent of its presumption and bombast.

Nothing less than an honest confession of sin and repentance can even begin to heal the breaches that Rome has caused in the history of the church.

23 comments:

  1. Again what can one say but thanks.

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  2. I conntinue to be amazed at how Rome's supporters continue to insist on the primacy of Rome.

    I guess buying into the system means buying into the system -- no questions asked or it least not loudly enough to warrant the proper actions amongst the defenders.

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  3. One wants to be fair to my friends who adhere to the church of Rome but I must ask; how can you continue to uphold a system that has such problems?

    I know that none of us rightly attend to or apprehend all of the truth properly, but when the evidence mounts; what is it that prohibits making the right choice?

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  4. GREV

    Were you ever a roman catholic in another life?

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  5. Grev, this book is an amazing book. It's full of these kinds of amazing admissions. Lord willing, I'm going to continue to publish them for a while.

    And you are right to ask, how long can Roman Catholics continue to uphold a system that has caused so much harm to the church?

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  6. I honestly now think that admissions such as this one are the reason why Ratzinger (as pope) was so eager to finish writing his works on Jesus. He is understanding the historical significance of this. Even as Rome falls, "Jesus is Lord". His thought may be that at least he can salvage that much.

    But "Christ alone" is sufficient.

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  7. John -- I will get the book.

    Paps -- no sermon? Kind of disappointed. Thought you might admonish me to continue the journey from the darkness of religion to the light of humanistic agnostic truth!

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  8. Urbani, why don't we read about this in the Pittsbugh Catholic, or better, hear about it from the pulpit, in 1990. That is the sense they were hiding it.

    Either way, this is very bad for Rome. They are still trying to hide behind "unity" and ecumenism as a way of diverting attention from their need to make a full disclosure. Which this definitely is not.

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  9. Urbani; you must be going into spam. I am not home, using my mobile phone to respond.

    I am for Jesus Christ, for the Truth, for the Reformation. These are indeed good and vindicating and affirming developments.

    You, on the other hand, have to be concerned about what's coming next. And your concern for my state of mind is itself a diversion from the topic.

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  10. There are some ecumenical Catholics who, although not part of the Magisterium, are willing to also drop the Filioque in order to be closer in unity to the Eastern Orthodox.

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  11. Hi John. Two things.

    you should write a review on the amazon page for the book. There's none there and im sure whatever you wrote would get much traffic.

    Out of sheer curiosity. Lets say that tommorrow morning. The Magesterium announces that "the petrine office has been shown to false and that as such the Church must undergo a huge process of deciding what to do and how to view itself". Or something to that effect. What do you think they would do? I mean papal succesion is a key doctrine for them. It affects infallibility and divinely directed teaching office and all that which makes rome distinct. If they got rid of any of those key things there would be chaos yes?

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  12. Hi Space Bishop. That's a good idea to review the book. It's a pretty intensive read.

    It seems fairly obvious to me that the thrust of the current discussions is to segue into a kind of "petrine" ministry, where Peter was a the "head" of the college of the Apostles, and the sucession has just carried Peter and the Apostles (meaning Pope and bishops) in one grand procession down through history.

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  13. "If they got rid of any of those key things there would be chaos yes?"

    The chaos would be unimaginably negative according to Catholics who affirm the primacy of the papacy, so much so, that they would *never* repudiate the claim of Roman papacy.

    It's inconceivable for them.

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  14. "If they got rid of any of those key things there would be chaos yes?"

    It would be like this...

    Imagine that Christendom somehow all got together and decreed that the gospels were not eye witness accounts but late 2nd century legend filled writing - which is the conclusion of the vast majority of modern historical research.

    As a result bibles started being printed without the gospels and the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John ceased being preached.

    It would be like that.

    John is awaiting something similar. I think he'll be waiting quite a while...

    Of course, I doubt if John would ever concede that the gospels are not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. He withholds for himself the right to disregard even the most well thought out and established historical scholarship. But Catholics don’t get the same privilege.

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  15. The Heresy of Orthodoxy provides an excellent overview of a conservative, covenantal, text-based early church operated, without a domineering presence from Rome.

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  16. Kristen: What if Minnerath is correct in his assessment? And, he being who he is, is in a much better position to assess this than you are.

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  17. John.

    At face value what the bishop is saying does not seem controversial. And that is not even taking into account context.

    One thing is for certain, you have convinced me to order this compilation which I look forward to reading.

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  18. At face value what the bishop is saying does not seem controversial.

    I wish I had a nickel for every Roman Catholic who pointed me to the unified church, under the pope, in the first millennium.

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  19. I wish I had a nickel for every Roman Catholic who pointed me to the unified church, under the pope, in the first millennium.

    Just the other day you admitted by the time of St Optatus the 'horse was out of the barn' and the fiction of the papacy was widespread. Now you are saying it was not in the first millennium?

    I wonder what the Bishop says about Eastern Catholics that did not separate from the Catholic Church? Another reason to read the work, I suppose.

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  20. Makes me shake my head --

    "It would be like this...

    Imagine that Christendom somehow all got together and decreed that the gospels were not eye witness accounts but late 2nd century legend filled writing - which is the conclusion of the vast majority of modern historical research.

    As a result bibles started being printed without the gospels and the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John ceased being preached.

    It would be like that.

    John is awaiting something similar. I think he'll be waiting quite a while..."


    Equating the papacy with the gospels? Tell me I am wrong?

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  21. "Just the other day you admitted by the time of St Optatus the 'horse was out of the barn' and the fiction of the papacy was widespread."

    He might have just meant the myth of HONORARY primacy of the Roman see, which I understand even the Eastern Orthodox often would be ready to concede.

    In any case it was not really until the 11th century and the Hildebrandian reform that the papal monstrosity #as we today know it# was born.

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  22. "I wonder what the Bishop says about Eastern Catholics that did not separate from the Catholic Church?"

    The ECs are NOT easterners who "did not separate" from Rome. They are former EOs who were seduced with various means - sordid political intrigues included - into union with Rome. EOs regard them as sellouts.

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  23. KRISTEN SAID:

    “Of course, I doubt if John would ever concede that the gospels are not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. He withholds for himself the right to disregard even the most well thought out and established historical scholarship. But Catholics don’t get the same privilege.”

    Really? How many Catholic Bible scholars who teach at Catholic institutions still affirm the traditional authorship of the four gospels?

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