Monday, August 06, 2012

The Papacy Roundup

In response to repeated calls to demonstrate the early papacy from Scripture and tradition, the Called to Communion guys finally posted this Papacy Roundup as a start on their defense of the historical papacy. But it has taken an interesting twist: some Eastern Orthodoxophiles have joined in the discussion. And the discussion has pretty much not gone anywhere.

But I thought I'd put my two cents in:

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Trebor135, I too am interested in seeing the folks here address the issues you brought up in comment #2. (This can also serve as a response to Garrison’s comment in #8).

You may be aware that Archbishop Roland Minerath, 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 was not merely “the manner in which the primacy is exercised”. Minnerath clearly is talking about the developments of Roman theological and doctrinal proposals. Here is how he puts it:

“The Eastern church has never taken into account the developments about the Roman bishop as vicar, successor or heir of the Apostle Peter” [which he had just outlined in detail]. …

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).

Not all of the pages of the Minnerath essay are available either through Google Books or through Amazon’s “Search Inside” feature; but I’ve scanned the pages not available at the Google Books link, and made them available here, so that the interested reader can read the entire essay.

The reason I bring this up is because some of the folks here are reluctant to admit that they have “the burden of proof” to explain precisely why they don’t have to make an actual argument for the papacy. That was one of the reasons why this Green Baggins comments thread is so long. The thread here, with all the articles, is their attempt to fulfill their “burden of proof” requirement with respect to the Eastern churches, who cannot be said to have “separated themselves from” “the Church that Christ founded”.

However, if anyone within the Roman Catholic hierarchy is in a position to say with authority that “The Eastern church has never taken into account the developments about the Roman bishop as vicar, successor or heir of the Apostle Peter”, it is Archbishop Roland Minnerath.

Thus, given the philosophical backgrounds that these individuals have, they ought to recognize that Archbishop Minnerath is not “begging the question” in any way, and that the burden of proof now lies squarely within their court to “prove” somehow that the Eastern churches really did at one time accept “the successor of Peter” (and thereby show Archbishop Minnerath to be incorrect). And as you say, Vatican I will be a difficult set of pronouncements for them to have to deal with.

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Should be interesting.

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