Friday, June 03, 2011

The Free-Floating, Imaginary Papacy

Klaus Schatz, after summarizing the “historical development,” points to “the very notable remarks of Rudolf Pesch, Simon-Petrus, Gechicte un geschichtliche Bedeutung des ersten Jungers Jesu Christi (Stuutgart, 1980) 163-170.

Robert Eno, in “The Rise of the Papacy,” also points to Pesch’s work (not translated into English) as “the most significant Roman Catholic study [of the early papacy] since Raymond Brown’s joint work “Simon Peter in the New Testament” (1973). Of this work, Eno says:
Here I am not concerned with his detailed study of Peter in the various New Testament traditions but in his general conclusions. Pesch concludes, among other things, that neither the story of the historical Peter nor the image of Peter in the later New Testament traditions is of immediate importance for the primacy of the Roman bishops. Indeed, later references back to Peter in the New Testament, primarily Matthew 16:18, may sometimes appear almost to be an afterthought. For Pesch, an issue such as a general leadership of the Church is an open question. Even if Peter is conceived as a sort of leader among the Twelve, whether his “Petrine office,” if there was such a thing, had successors is also an open question. Even if one could argue for such a successor on the basis of the New Testament text, there remains the most elusive and fascinating question of all: is there a missing link in the first and second centuries between the historical peter and a bishop of Rome conceived of as a successor to him? (pgs 15-16)
Of course the answer is no. Through the process of “development” that Schatz had outlined, “whose initial phases extended well into the fifth century,” the historical truths of it are “not of immediate importance”.

Rome has untethered the very papacy from the roots that it supposedly had. It is a free-floating structure, with no genuine earthly reality, much like a Platonic form. Adrian Fortescue’s historical certainty is abandoned.

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