Monday, November 03, 2014

“Dismantle the Papacy”? “Pope Francis” may be an ally in this effort

I would see this as a positive, though incomplete, “development”.

With the current pope, the “school of Bologna” is convinced that it has a clear road ahead:

The leaders of the “school of Bologna” have a very ambitious new project in the works: a history of the movement for Christian unity aimed at a thorough reform of the Catholic Church, starting with the dismantling of the papacy in its current form. They believe they have an ally in Pope Francis….

ROME, November 3, 2014 – At the end of October, Pope Francis received a delegation of Old Catholic bishops of the Union of Utrecht.

Numerically this is a very small group, but it is the bearer of a model of Church that pleases not a few progressive Catholics. It recognizes a primacy of honor for the pope, but it does not accept that he is infallible or has jurisdiction over the bishops. It has its bishops elected by a synod composed of clergy and laity. At Mass it gives Eucharistic communion to all, as long as they are baptized in one of the various Christian confessions. It administers collective absolution of sins. It allows second marriages for the divorced.

It also advocates a return to the early faith and recognizes as fully ecumenical only the first seven councils, those of the first millennium, when the Churches of West and East were still undivided….

They couldn’t dismantle it enough for my liking.

First, note that these are “Old Catholics” – those who refused to accept “papal infallibility” at Vatican I. I don’t think there should be a “primacy of honor” – not one that was acquired so dishonestly.

Second, my hopes for this type of dismantling, and the hopes of “not a few progressive Catholics”, would be quite different. They would see it as “license”, whereas I would hope to see it as an admission on the part of Rome that it had overstated its own importance and had thus harmed Christianity for centuries.

Third, I would want to see an actual repentance from the papacy of itself.

And of course, as I’ve written, it is a myth that “the Church” was “undivided” in the first 1000 years.

One of the most significant, Protestant-like “divisions” in the early church may be found in the simple designations of "The School of Antioch" or "The School of Alexandria," both of which held differing views of Scripture, and later, of the person of Christ. This manifested itself in “The Great Schism,” a schism of church governments of “The Church of the East,” the separation of the Church of Alexandria, etc.

Samuel Hugh Moffett, in his work, "A History of Christianity in Asia," describes this "Great Schism" this way:

What finally divided the early church, East from West, Asia from Europe, was neither war nor persecution, but the blight of a violent theological controversy, that raged through the Mediterranean world in the second quarter of the fifth century. It came to be called the Nestorian controversy, and how much of it was theological and how much political is still being debated, but it irreversibly split the church not only east and west but also north and south and cracked it into so many pieces that it was never the same again. (pg. 169)

This is an ugly memory for the “Greco-Roman” church -- it is a far larger and messier divide than the 1054 schism between the Roman and Orthodox churches. It makes a lie of the “unified church” claims of today's Roman Catholic apologists. It is the clearest example that there never was a governmentally-unified church -- especially not “under the papacy” -- ever in the history of the church.

See also A History of the Interpretation of Matt 16:18.

1 comment:

  1. The UU ordains women & is soft on homosexuality: co-belligerents, no; useful idiots, maybe.