Tu Es Petrus

You'll need to set some time aside to read it, but here's a scholarly paper titled Tu Es Petrus, "The Necessity of Peter for the Unity of the Church," by William A. Wheatley, a member of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Rosemont.

In the Introduction, Mr. Wheatley states, "Many who admire and respect the Catholic Church and who consider themselves Catholic Christians nevertheless reject the claims of the Papacy as not being supported by the Bible and not necessary doctrines for Christians to believe. This is true even of many who are otherwise Catholic in their faith. The purpose of this paper is to examine the Catholic claims regarding the Papacy and their foundation."

I encourage you to read the whole paper, and it may provide an opportunity for some interesting comments and discussion.

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About Fr. Christopher Phillips

Fr. Christopher G. Phillips is the pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he has served for the past twenty-eight years. He is the founding pastor of the first Anglican Use parish, erected in 1983 under the terms of the Pastoral Provision. Fr. Phillips was ordained as an Anglican for the Diocese of Bristol, England, in 1975. After serving as Curate for three years at St. Stephen Southmead, he returned to the United States and served in two Episcopal parishes in the Diocese of Rhode Island. In 1981 he left the Episcopal Church and moved with his family to Texas, where he was subsequently ordained as a Catholic priest in 1983. Fr. Phillips and his wife, JoAnn, have been married for forty years. They have five children, all grown and married, and three grandchildren.

51 thoughts on “Tu Es Petrus

  1. It's pretty simple.

    Either the Pope is necessary or not.

    If he is, then Catholicism is the "True Church" and all Churches which departed from it, whether it be Eastern Orthodoxy or Anglicanism or Protestantism are either schismatics or heretics.

    If he isn't, then Eastern Orthodoxy is the "True Church" and all Churches which departed from it, whether it be Catholicism or Anglicanism or Protestantism are either schismatics or heretics.

    For those outside the "True Church", communion with it must be the highest priority.

    Deciding which side is correct is a much harder issue. Unfortunately, a millennium of estrangement between east and west, as well as human frailties such as pride, suspicion, fear, idolatry (nationalism/xenophobia for the EO and modernism for RC), and sloth have made reconciling these two positions very difficult since both sides have excellent polemics. Someone outside both these two Churches is left pretty much on his/her own to decide which is correct.

    1. "If he isn't, then Eastern Orthodoxy is the "True Church" and all Churches which departed from it, whether it be Catholicism or Anglicanism or Protestantism are either schismatics or heretics."

      I don't accept this at all. There are three equally plausible candidates, the third one being the Oriental Orthodox (anti-Chalcedonian or "miaphysites"), who have just as plausible "ecclesiological claim" as the Orthodox. After all, the most common Orthodox objection to the Council of Florence — "it is not an 'ecumenical council' because 'the whole Church' did not accept it" — applies in equal measure to the Council of Chalcedon, which was rejected out of hand by Egypt (the Alexandrian patriarchate) as a whole, by half of Syria (the Antiochene patriarchate) and, between 479 and 519, almost all the Graecophone half of the Roman Empire, including all four Eastern patriarchates.

      If Chalcedon, then why not Florence; if not Florence, than why Chalcedon?"

      1. An excellent point, Dr. Tighe. I have never understood how the Orthodox can accept Chalcedon and reject Florence, or how "universal reception" can be a requirement for accepting a council's doctrinal teachings as infallible.

        1. This may be naive, but could the Orthodox rejection of Florence have something to do with its being called by someone whom the Orthodox Church considered to be the leader of a 400-year old schismatic movement?

        2. The Orthodox position is a bit more nuanced than that. It doesn't involve a legalistic determination of whether a Council has met an objective list of criteria so as to be deemed ecumenical.

          It starts from the presumption that the One True Church (OTC) consists of the communion of local Churches in which they (the Orthodox) participate. Once this communion has become of one mind with regards to the authority of a given council (by inter alia excluding all dissenting bishops and local Churches), that Council is to be considered "ecumenical." Ecumenicity is thus the result of a process of reception, and not of unanimity among the Council fathers themselves.

          If necessary (and it historically usually is) consensus is thus achieved through anathematization (or at least the threat of anathema) as much as persuasion. The dissent of the myaphysites at Chalcedon is pertinent only in that they thus excluded themselves from the OTC. Lyon and Florence are deemed not ecumenical because the necessary consensus was never enforced (for various reasons), amongst all those local Churches the Orthodox deemed as participating in good standing in the OTC.

          In principle at least, this leaves the ultimate status of Lyons and Florence an open question for the Orthodox. Though the vast majority reject some of the doctrinal canons of these Councils, no Councils the Orthodox deem ecumenical have formally repudiated these canons, and so the rejection is not universally binding. So depending on the disposition and tolerance level of one's autocephalous Orthodox Church or local bishop, one could accept both Lyons and Florence and still remain an Orthodox in good standing. I know of a few such Orthodox, though their position is uneasy.

          1. I agree, in general, with what Michaël has written, but I would add, in response to Mr. Morris, that the position of so many Orthodox bishops at Florence (at Lyons there were only two Orthodox representatives, sent by the Emperor Michael Palaiologos with instructions to sign whatever required of them), and their full participation in the deliberations of the council alongside the Latins, assumes that they thought that the 400-year-old schism was a schism for both sides "within the Church" rather than for one side or another "from the Church."

            1. Thanks for that, Dr Tighe. I'm not as familiar with Councils as I should be, particularly the early ones.

              By the way, please call me Stephen – it's my Christian name, after all. If you absolutely must be formal (which is your inalienable right), then Dr Morris will do.

            2. Stephen,

              You wrote:

              There's a web site that has English translations of all of the decrees of all of the ecuemnical councils recognized by the Catholic Church, along with some background notes. The only caution I have about this site is that the background notes do not seem to reflect the official position of the Catholic Church with regard to the ecumenical character of the Council of Constance. The magisterium has not spoken explicitly on the subject, but the official copy of these decrees provided to the participants in the Second Vatican Council contained all of the decrees of this council and no commentary indicating a lack of ecumenical character. Thus, the recognition of the ecumenical character of these sessions by the magisterium is very clear, if implicit, in this fact.

              Norm.

  2. Just starting the paper, and it reminds me of one book which really laid out this understanding in a way that made sense to me: Andrian Fortescue's, *The Early Papacy: To the Synod of Chalcedon in 451*

    Order your copy here, either for yourself or for others (particularly Anglicans wrestling with this issue):

    http://www.amazon.com/Early-Papacy-Synod-Chalcedon-451/dp/1586171763

    I look forward to reading and digesting this paper! Thanks for posting it for us.

  3. At the risk of sounding catty, the article has serious editing problems and gets St Stephen all wrong. He was against, not for, the rebaptism of heretics. This is still the Catholic position: Trinitarian baptism is objectively valid even if conferred by a pagan, let alone a mere heretic; hence heretics are not to be reconciled through being baptized anew if they were originally baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

  4. Michaël de Verteuil: For whatever it's worth, my source for what I said about St. Stephen was The Catholic Encyclopedia. If I'm wrong, they're wrong. I'll do some other research and edit the piece appropriately.

    1. I commend your efforts but you may have misconstrued your sources in this case.

      From the Catholic Encyclopedia's entry on St Stephen:

      "Most of what we know regarding Pope Stephen is connected directly or indirectly with the severe teachings of the heretic Novatus. Concerning his most important work, his defence of the validity of heretical baptism against the mistaken opinion of St. Cyprian and other bishops of Africa and Asia, there is no need to speak now, as the history of this important controversy will be found under BAPTISM and SAINT CYPRIAN OF CARTHAGE. "

      Under the entry for St Cyprian we find:

      "Rebaptism of heretics

      "Tertullian had characteristically argued long before, that heretics have not the same God, the same Christ with Catholics, therefore their baptism is null. The African Church had adopted this view in a council held under a predecessor of Cyprian, Agrippinus, at Carthage. In the East it was also the custom of Cilicia, Cappadocia, and Galatia to rebaptize Montanists who returned to the church. Cyprian's opinion of baptism by heretics was strongly expresses: "Non abluuntur illic homines, sed potius sordidantur, nec purgantur delicta sed immo cumulantur. Non Deo nativitas illa sed diabolo filios generat" (Treatise on Unity 11). A certain bishop, Magnus, wrote to ask if the baptism of the Novatians was to be respected (Ep. lxix). Cyprian's answer may be of the year 255; he denies that they are to be distinguished from any other heretics. Later we find a letter in the same sense, probably of the spring of 255 (autumn, according to d'Ales), from a council under Cyprian of thirty-one bishops (Ep. lxx), addressed to eighteen Numidian bishops; this was apparently the beginning of the controversy. It appears that the bishops of Mauretania did not in this follow the custom of Proconsular Africa and Numidia, and that Pope Stephen sent them a letter approving their adherence to Roman custom.

      "Cyprian, being consulted by a Numidian bishop, Quintus, sent him Ep. lxx, and replied to his difficulties (Ep. lxxi). The spring council at Carthage in the following year, 256, was more numerous than usual, and sixty-one bishops signed the conciliar letter to the pope explaining their reasons for rebaptizing, and claiming that it was a question upon which bishops were free to differ. This was not Stephen's view, and he immediately issued a decree, couched apparently in very peremptory terms, that no "innovation" was to be made (this is taken by some moderns to mean "no new baptism"), but the Roman tradition of merely laying hands on converted heretics in sign of absolution must be everywhere observed, on pain of excommunication. This letter was evidently addressed to the African bishops, and contained some severe censures on Cyprian himself."

      1. You are correct. I misread my source, which, on checking my notes, was not The Catholic Encyclopedia but from Wikipedia: "…Cyprian wished to gain support from the Eastern churches against Pope Stephen for his own decision to rebaptize all heretics who returned to the Church…" I misread "his own" to refer to Pope Stephen. I'll send a revised copy of the manuscript to Fr. Phillips and ask him to substitute it for the one posted.

        1. I fine scholar is one quick to recognize an error. ;-)

          You might also wish to consider a further change. I was puzzled by your contention that Pope Pius had proclaimed "two" Marian dogmas after the close of the Council. So far as I am aware, he only dogmatized on his own authority belief in Mary's Immaculate Conception.

          I held off expressing my doubts until I had reviewed the definition to see if it might be construed as consisting of two distinct dogmatic components, but it doesn't seem as if it can.

          I suspect you may have conflated Pius IX with his later successor Pius XII who's dogmatic definition of Mary's Assumption was issued in Munificentissimus Deus in 1950. Two Pii infallibly proclaiming distinct elements of the Church's traditional teaching concerning Mary (albeit almost 100 years apart) can be understandably confusing to a new Catholic.

          Again, please don't take this as criticism of your basic thesis. I'm just trying to help you proof it against obsessive quibblers (of which I am one, sadly).

          1. Thanks, Father. I'll get that corrected as well. I'm not a "new Catholic," though — I've been a Catholic for more than 45 years, since I converted when in college, so I should have known better. I simply relied on my aging memory and didn't look it up.

        2. William,

          Actually, you might want to verify your whole timeline.

          >> C. 1946, the Catholic bishops of the United States voted to designate Mary as the principal patronness of the United States under the title of the "Immaculate Conception." There were, however, many previous refrences to Mary under this title, as described in the Wikipedia article on the subject.

          >> On 08 December 1954, Pope Pius IX promulgated ex cathedra the bull Ineffabilis Deus "defining" the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

          >> Ineffabilis Deus being the first ever ex cathedra papal pronouncment, the significance of this designation caused a certain amount of confusion as to what that designation meant. In 1870, the First Vatican Council cleared up that confusion by giving us a rigorous definition thereof.

          And as others have already pointed out, Pope Pius XII promulgated the second ex cathedra document, defining the dogma of the Assumption, after World War II.

          Norm.

          1. 8 December 1854 (just typo, but there is already some confusion, and where there is a risk of compounding it…)

            1. Michael,

              You wrote: 8 December 1854 (just typo, but there is already some confusion, and where there is a risk of compounding it…)

              Yes, you are absolutely correct. It was 08 December 1854 — 26 years before the First Vatican Council — that Pius IX issued the first ex cathedra papal decree. I didn't notice that my finger hit the wrong key. Thank you for picking up on that.

              And twice, too — it was c. 1846 that the bishops chose Mary as the patronness of the United States under the title of the Immaculate Conception — about eight years before the ex cathedra bull defining the dogma.

              I'm usually more careful than that! *sigh*

              Norm.

  5. As someone outside those Churches who is left on his own to decide which one is correct, I read the paper with interest. I'm still looking for an answer to a couple of questions relating to the view of the papacy in the early Church versus the kind of authority the papacy has now. Specifically, (1) Councils in the early Church were not convened by the Bishop of Rome; now, the Pope has the exclusive authority to convene a council. What is the basis for this change in practice which increased the authority of the Pope? (2) Bishops in the early Church were elected and ordinained locally without input from Rome as far as I know – see Hippolytus' "On the Apostolic Tradition." Now, any Bishop ordained without approval from Rome is deemed to be schismatic if I correctly understand the cases of the SSPX and the Chinese Church. What is the basis for this increase in authority? If Matthew 16, etc., gave the successors of Peter that kind of authority, why did no one in the early Church appear to acknowledge it? Or if they did acknowledge that the Pope had that kind of authority, why didn't they claim it and use it? Any references to recent Catholic scholarship addressing these questions would be greatly appreciated.

    1. I'm not going to provide "recent Catholic scholarship addressing these questions" as this would require a bit more work than I can offer at the moment, but I think I can answer your questions in such a way as to make your own search easier, as the questions appear to be based on misunderstandings.

      "Councils in the early Church were not convened by the Bishop of Rome; now, the Pope has the exclusive authority to convene a council. What is the basis for this change in practice which increased the authority of the Pope?"

      It doesn't really matter who convened the Councils, though anyone other than the Pope trying to do so on his own authority in this day and age would probably be guilty of presumption. Six of the first seven were convened by the (East) Roman emperor with the Pope's consent, because only the Emperor had the resources to pay the travel, housing and feeding expenses of hundreds of bishops for months on end. This would have been beyond the financial resources of the Papacy as it existed at the time. The second Ecumenical Council was summoned by the Emperor alone, but was not initially understood to be ecumenical. It was recognized as such subsequently at the Pope's initiative.

      Times and the balance of resources have evolved since the 9th century, and now only the Pope can convene an ecumenical council as a matter of canon law. Doctrinally, however, all that matters is that the bishop of Rome approve of the Council's doctrinal canons and declare them binding on the universal Church.

      "Bishops in the early Church were elected and ordinained locally without input from Rome as far as I know – see Hippolytus' "On the Apostolic Tradition." Now, any Bishop ordained without approval from Rome is deemed to be schismatic if I correctly understand the cases of the SSPX and the Chinese Church. What is the basis for this increase in authority?"

      It's a matter of (changeable) canon law. Doctrinally, a bishop is objectively a bishop by virtue of his ordination, not Roman recognition.

      "If Matthew 16, etc., gave the successors of Peter that kind of authority, why did no one in the early Church appear to acknowledge it?"

      The authority to approve (or even make) episcopal appointments was implicitly given to the Pope by his fellow bishops, not by Matthew 16, though obviously Matthew 16 was not irrelevant to Church's decision. The Latin bishops vested ultimate authority to determine canon law in the bishop of Rome via a number of regional councils. The Eastern Catholic bishops have a different legal relationship to the Papacy in this matter that varies in specifics from one Eastern Catholic Church to another.

      "Or if they did acknowledge that the Pope had that kind of authority, why didn't they claim it and use it?"

      In cases of contested election, there are early precedents for one or more claimants asking Rome to adjudicate who was or was not the legitimate bishop, but such adjudications were not always successful, and the general tendency was to try to resolve such problems locally. It wasn't considered necessary or appropriate at the time for Rome to impose candidates as bishops directly without local election. This practice emerged progressively in the West, primarily in response to the efforts of monarchs (some of dubious orthodoxy) to attempt to manipulate the electoral process to their own ends. Papal selection of bishops was seen as a more objective process that better defended the independence of the local Church. As I mentioned earlier, this is now a matter of still changeable canon law, and not a right the Pope enjoys inherently under Matthew 16 except insofar as he could abusively decide to excommunicate any and all episcopal candidates he doesn't approve of. Matthew 16 vests leadership of the Church in the Pope but doesn't specificy how this leadership is to be exercised.

      I hope this helps.

      1. Michaël,

        If I might make a slight demurral to this:

        "The second Ecumenical Council was summoned by the Emperor alone, but was not initially understood to be ecumenical. It was recognized as such subsequently at the Pope's initiative."

        The council of 381 wasn't even an "Eastern synod," as Theodosius summoned to it bishops only from the neighborhood of Constantinople and the neighborhood of Antioch, and places in between them, and although the Patriarch of Alexandria turned up at it with a few of his bishops for reasons of their own, they soon left in dudgeon. Rome accepted easily enough the reworking of the Creed of Nicaea that this council produced, but for over 150 years refused with some heat to recognize the council as ecumenical, until John II quietly did so ca. 534 (cf. Jalland pp. 250-253, 342-343), as did Alexandria (both Orthodox and Miaphysite) to an even later date.

    2. Jay,

      You asked: Specifically, (1) Councils in the early Church were not convened by the Bishop of Rome; now, the Pope has the exclusive authority to convene a council. What is the basis for this change in practice which increased the authority of the Pope?

      This is an instance in which the sometimes subtle distinction between doctrine and discipline is profoundly significant. According to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, the pope must give his assent to the convening of an ecumenical council, but need not convene it or preside over it personally. But as a practical matter, it's just as easy for a pope to publish a bull convoking a council as to publish a bull granting his assent to a council convoked by another.

      In fact, Blessed John XXIII was mostly absent from the council chambers during the sessions of the Second Vatican Council that occurred before his death. Fearing that his presence in the chambers might intimidate some of the bishops and thus stifle honest discussion of the issues raised by the various schemas prepared for the council fathers, he chose instead to watch the proceedings via closed circuit television in his apartment and to appear personally only when official acts required it and for ceremonial functions.

      You asked: (2) Bishops in the early Church were elected and ordinained locally without input from Rome as far as I know – see Hippolytus' "On the Apostolic Tradition." Now, any Bishop ordained without approval from Rome is deemed to be schismatic if I correctly understand the cases of the SSPX and the Chinese Church. What is the basis for this increase in authority? If Matthew 16, etc., gave the successors of Peter that kind of authority, why did no one in the early Church appear to acknowledge it? Or if they did acknowledge that the Pope had that kind of authority, why didn't they claim it and use it?

      This is another issue in which there are subtle distinctions — and in this case, not only between doctrine an discipline, but also between the discipline of the Roman Rite and that of many of the sui juris ritual churches of other rites. Historically, however, the bishops of nearby churches always attended the local election of a new bishop. In so doing, they first received the profession of faith of the newly elected candidate to ensure that it was satisfactory and otherwise verified that the newly elected candidate was a suitable choice. If all was satisfactory, they then proceded to ordain the new bishop.

      The discipline of both east and west changed over time, becoming more centralized, for several reasons.

      >> 1. In some places, candidates who simply were not suitable were elected and ordained based on political popularity within the respective congregations rather than based on spiritual discernment.

      >> 2. In many places, especially in western Europe, kings and other rulers corrupted the process to obtain bishops who would support their agendas.

      In the Europe of the "middle ages" and the "enlightenment," the papacy — which at the time held power of secular governance over the "Papal States" in about the middle third of present Italy — was the only voice in the Catholic Church that was not subjet to kings and thus that could counter the political meddling. As a result, the Vatican imposed the present discipline of the Roman Rite, articluated in Canon 1382 of the present (1983) edition Codex Juris Canonic (Code of Canon Law):

      Can. 1382 A bishop who consecrates some one a bishop without a pontifical mandate and the person who receives the consecration from him incur a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.

      This canon, which simply restates an identical canon in the previous (1917) edition of the Codex Juris Canonici, automatically places the bishops involved and those who adhere to them in a state of schism.

      Here, I should also note that local election of bishops in the Roman Rite continued, in some places, until about 1870. One of the central issues in the Old Catholic schism in Europe was the suppression of the right of the cathedral chapter to elect the Bishop of Utrecht (Netherlands). Even today, there is no doctrinal issue precluding a return to the former practice of local election of bishops within each diocese.

      Many of the sui juris ritual churches follow a different discipline governed by the separate Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium ("Code of Canons of the Oriental Churches") and applicable particular law. In these churches, the synod of bishops, with the patrarch or major archbishop as its head, has the power to elect and to remove bishops. The pope then "gives his assent" officially recognizing the canonical election (or other act) — and I have often seen this exact wording in the daily bulletin from the Vatican Informatoin Service. The pope typically would withhold assent only if there was indication of some sort of irregularity in the process. The pope appoints bishops directly only in sui juris ritual churches that are too small to have a governing synod.

      It has also been quite interesting to watch recent dynamics in the Orthodox Communion. There is an ongoing tension between the (Russian Orthodox) Patriarchate of Moscow and the Ecumenical Patrarchate surrounding efforts to regularize the Orthodox hierarchies in places that have significant populations of Orthodox Christians who are ethnically Russian, over whom the Patriarchate of Moscow has traditionally claimed jurisdiction. The countries in question include Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, following their independence from the former Soviet Union, and the United States, where there have long been extraterritorial hiearchies of several churches of the Orthodox Communion. Several years ago, these tensions escalated when the Ecumenical Patrarch refused to add bishops ordained in the United States by the Russian Orthodox Church to the master register of Orthodox bishops, denying those bishops recognition by other churches of the Orthodox Communion, because that act was contrary to the plan to regularize the Orthodox hierarchy in the United States.

      Norm.

      1. Re:

        "Here, I should also note that local election of bishops in the Roman Rite continued, in some places, until about 1870."

        In the Diocese of Basel (Switzerland) the bishop is still elected, and in two other Swiss dioceses (Chur and Sion) there is a form of electoral process, although in these cases, unlike the first, Rome need not accept the result. The recent history of the Diocese of Basel witnesses that an electoral system for bishops is hardly the sort of panacea that some "reform-minded" Catholics have claimed:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hansj%C3%B6rg_Vogel

        1. William,

          You wrote: In the Diocese of Basel (Switzerland) the bishop is still elected, and in two other Swiss dioceses (Chur and Sion) there is a form of electoral process, although in these cases, unlike the first, Rome need not accept the result.

          That's very interesting. I was not aware that episcopal elections still take place there.

          You wrote: The recent history of the Diocese of Basel witnesses that an electoral system for bishops is hardly the sort of panacea that some "reform-minded" Catholics have claimed…

          That's true. Unfortunately, the papal appointment of bishops has not always produced more satisfactory results, as recent scandals attest. (This subject is very close to home. The Archdiocese of Boston, where I live, was the "ground zero" of the sexual predator scandal here in the States.)

          Norm.

          1. One might add that in all German and some Austrian dioceses, the cathedral chapter elects their bishop from a terna, a list of three names provided by the pope.

            1. In France, the consent of the President of the Republic is needed to install a new Bishop.
              In the 2 dioceses that are still under the 1802 concordate (Metz & Strasbourg), the President of the Republic (at the time of the concordate it was the Emperor) chooses directly the new Bishop/Archbishop in a terna submitted by the chapter of the cathedral. Then the Pope recognizes as such the new Bishop. We are the only country in the world to still have for 2 dioceses lay-investiture of Bishops (in this case by the President of the Republic).
              + Pax et Bonum

            2. Victor and Henri,

              Very interesting indeed!

              Going the other way, there's also the curiosity of the Co-Principality of Andorra, a joint French-Spanish protectorate of which the President of France is ex officio the French Co-Prince and the Bishop of Ugell, Spain, is ex officio the Spanish Co-Prince. AFAIK (and please correct me if I'm wrong about this), the Bishop of Ugell is now the only Catholic bishop to hold a title of royalty and the only Catholic bishop other than the Pope to have status as a head of state.

              Norm.

          2. There is also a contemporary example of bishops selected by secular authority. Under the late Generalissimo Franco, auxiliary bishops in Spain were selected by the dictator himself. The terms agreed to under a concordat between Spain and the Holy See.

            1. It was exactly the opposite:

              Rome had to choose between a terna presented by the Spanish State (since 1851 up to 1979), but auxiliary bishops — a figure absent in the Concordates — could be consecrated by Rome without Madrid's intervention.

              It was a loophole used by the then Nuntius (IIRC Dadaglio) to cross the Franco Regime.

    3. Thank you to all who replied. The discipline/doctrine distinction is one that I'll have to ponder and explore for awhile.

      1. Jay,

        You wrote: Thank you to all who replied. The discipline/doctrine distinction is one that I'll have to ponder and explore for awhile.

        Just to further clarify the Catholic position, the Catholic Church understands doctrine to be immutable and unchangeable, though the discernment of the magisterium may clarify it where there's uncertainty and may state what has been implicit explicity. OTOH, the magisterium can reorder discipline (practice) at any time, so long as the reordering does not go against doctrine.

        Of course, the magisterium does not "jerk around" the church by reordering discipline without good reason. The norms governing our conferences of bishops require affirmative vote by a 2/3 majority to approve a change in national or regional law to ensure that there's a durable consensus in favor of any change. This prevents the whipsaw of legislation that occurs due to frequent changes of the majority party, each instituting its own policies when it gains a simple majority, in many countries.

        Norm.

  6. Perhaps a bit off topic, but in a way related.

    I just returned from our annual Gathering of Catholic Men. I, along with 30 other men from my parish and 2,000 men from my diocese, spent the day in Eucharistic Adoration, Mass, Confession, and listening to talks by Dr. Scott Hahn, Msgr. Jim Lisanti, Matthew Kelly, and Fr. Scott Seethaler.

    Our bishop, the Most Reverend David Zubik, began the day with Eucharistic Adoration and was the principal celebrant of the closing Mass— the OF most reverently celebrated with some Latin responses, chanted Eucharistic Prayers, and plenty of holy smoke.

    As I watched the concelebrating priests process into the Palumbo Center of Duquesne University, I noticed young and old, black and white, Latin Rite and Byzantine Rite. As I noticed the men around me, I noticed a similar diversity, but I felt someone was missing from our incredible, grace-filled day.

    There were teenaged Catholics, aged Catholics, white Catholics, black Catholics, Asian Catholics, biker Catholics, yuppie Catholics, brand-new Catholics, cradle Catholics, Latin Rite Catholics, and Eastern Rite Catholics, but no visible Anglo-Catholics or Anglo-Lutherans.

    As diverse as we Catholics are, and as numerous as we are, we are still incomplete. We've been incomplete for the past 500 years. 800 million Protestants are missing. For me, their absence was palpable today.

    I long for our reunion with 900 of our English and Welsh brothers and sisters this Easter and as yet unknown numbers in the future ordinariates in Australia, Canada, Japan, the United States, and other countries around the world.

    We miss you. We need you. We won't be complete until we are all home, united under the See of Peter.

    1. What a generous sentiment, that you feel that the Catholic Church is incomplete without us Anglicans and other Protestants! As a heretofore wandering Anglican, I am grateful for the welcome that you have expressed and hope to be able to shake your hand one day.

  7. Some popes have taken to referring to themselves as "Universal Pastor". In reading the following, any comments?

    “Now I confidently say that whosoever calls himself, or desires to be called, Universal Priest, is in his elation the precursor of Antichrist, because he proudly puts himself above all others. Nor is it by dissimilar pride that he is led into error; for, as that perverse one wishes to appear as above all men, so whosoever this one is who covets being called sole priest, he extols himself above all other priests.”

    -Gregory I, Register of the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great, Book 7, Epistle 33

    1. This is a standard fallacy that comes up over and over in anti-Catholic polemics. The critic sees "A" as being the same as "B" and, noting that "B" conflicts with "C," concludes then that "A" also conflicts with "C."

      Most translations have "universal bishop" rather than "universal priest." Perhaps someone could look at the original Latin. But in any case, Gregory certainly didn't eschew the term "universal pastor" as you suggest he did. "Priest" or "bishop" have sacramental connotations, whereas "pastor" connotes general leadership. Those arguing that Gregory, of all people, did not claim or exercise overall leadership in the universal Church of his time need to familiarize themselves a bit more Church history.

      1. But in any case, Gregory certainly didn't eschew the term "universal pastor" as you suggest he did.
        ——————————————————–
        Read again. I suggested nothing of the sort. I asked for comments. The title "universal pastor" was used several times by John Paul I, and recently by this pope several times in writing and in prepared addresses.
        If you're suggesting the quote is spurious orginal quote.

        In any event, "universal pastor", "universal bishop" like "Vicar of Christ" are pure exauted fabrications of authority and power which have no basis in early Church teachings. There titles were designed to give over-arching and exaggerated papal power commensurate with the growing secular influence of the Roman papacy itself.

        They have never been accepted by the east and I doubt they ever will be. Rome would be wise to return to Pope Gregory's more pastoral , and in today's Church a much more appropriate title given the state of manifest sin and corruption in which the papacy and it's hierarchy find themselves, "Servant of the Servants of God".

        1. There seems to be some confusion here. "Universal priest," "universal bishop," or "universal pastor," unlike "Vicar of Christ" or "servant of the servants of God" have never, to my knowledge, figured among official papal titles. If you can cite information to the contrary, please do.

          That said, "universal pastor" is a fair description of the Pope's role, and one that does not suggest that he is everyone's bishop. It is the latter notion that Gregory the Great rejected, not the former.

          Here are a few quotes from Gregory's epistles:

          Epistle 13.50 "… the Apostolic See, which is the head of all Churches"

          Epistle 5.154 "I, albeit unworthy, have been set up in command of the Church."

          Epistle 9.12 "As regards the Church of Constantinople, who can doubt that it is subject to the Apostolic See? Why, both our most religious lord the emperor, and our brother the Bishop of Constantinople continually acknowledge it."

          It strikes me as rather ironic that you would object to the notion of the Pope as "universal pastor", while setting Gregory as you exemplar and praising his "pastoral" choice of titles.

          You would like a more decentralized papacy, and this is certainly an acceptable position. I suspect, however, that your vision of Gregory's claims and pontificate may be somewhat partial at best. Gregory wasn't surnamed "the Great" for being soft and cuddly, and there is nothing in his ecumenical praxis that would have discouraged or embarrassed the most convinced modern ultramontane.

          As to the notion that such titles "have never been accepted by the east," to whom exactly do you think Gregory was responding when he declined to be addressed as "universal bishop?"

          1. As regards the Church of Constantinople, who can doubt that it is subject to the Apostolic See? Why, both our most religious lord the emperor, and our brother the Bishop of Constantinople continually acknowledge it.
            ————————————————-
            Sorry, but I don't see any use of "universal pastor" here. As for Constantinople formerly subject to the metropolitan of Heraclea, Rome had not accepted it's claims to honors as the "New Rome", and neither did the other patriarchates. Rome had every right to do, I admit.
            "Vicar of Christ", "Prince of the Apostles" were laughable examples which came long after Gregory's time which I have no doubt Gregory would have rejected himself.

            The western Church may have been mesmerized by these triumphal titles, but the east never was and it still isn't. By the way, the "universal pastor" title has come up several times by Benedict XVI since he ascended Peter's chair (on one occasion when making a pastoral visit within Italy), and I believe it was at John Paul I's installation ceremony that he referred to himself as "universal pastor", or when he took possession of his cathedral later.

            "Vicar of St. Peter" was the late Fr. Yves Congar's title when he refuted (admittedly not to the satisfaction of his many critics) the papal claim to being "Vicar of Christ".

  8. An interesting document for those who have not read it is the press-leaked first draft on The Role of the Bishop of Rome in the Communion of the Church in the First Millennium of the Joint Coordinating Committee for the Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. Please see the following link:

    http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1341814?eng=y

    Best Regards,
    Dennis

    1. Thank you Dennis Lane for that link.

      The neo- Ultramontanists, SSPX and their ilk, pushing this pope will go into schism before they ever permit Rome to budge an inch toward anything approaching a reduced role for the bishop of Rome, and Benedict knows it too. Thus, ecumenism is, for all intents and purposes, a dead issue.

      The Vatican will kick the can down the road to another time and another pope with loads of lip service of "fraternal charity" towards "our eastern brothers",etc.

      To quote from your link Dennis, "The first millennium, which has been examined in this stage of our dialogue, is the common tradition of both our Churches. In its basic theological and ecclesiological principles which have been identified here, this common tradition should serve as the model for the restoration of our full communion."

      To do seriously undercuts post first millenium papal history creating wrenching divisions and factions from one end of the Roman Church to the other. All on top of the greatest divisions we're seeing today since Luther's time.

      Pope Benedict, that cagey old fox of a bureaucrat at age 84, isn't going there! Believe me.

      1. Aging Papist,

        You wrote: The neo- Ultramontanists, SSPX and their ilk, pushing this pope will go into schism… (emphasis mine)

        Canonically, the illicit "Econe ordinations" of four presbyters of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) as bishops by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and Bishop de Castro Mayer put the SSPX, Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer, and all who adhere to them in a state of schism. All six men also incurred the automatic canonical penalty of excommunication reserved to the Holy See — the most severe penalty in ecclesiastical law — by this act. The followers of Bishop de Castro Mayer were reconciled after his death, and now form the Personal Apostolic Administration of Saint John Mary Vianney, but the SSPX remains in a formal state of schism.

        In the motu proprio Ecclesiae unitatem canonically restructuring the pontifical commission which Pope John Paul II had established immediately after the "Econe ordinations" to reconcile adherents to the SSPX in the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei and placing it under the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Pope Benedict XVI stated quite explicitly that the schism cannot be healed, and that clergy of the SSPX cannot function as Catholic ministers, until the doctrinal errors of the SSPX are resolved. In fact, he went so far as to say explicitly that the reason for this restructuring is that the obstacles to reconcilliation of the SSPX are primarily doctrinal.

        Just to be clear, the Catholic Church does recognize the validity of the Econe ordinations, and thus both the episcopal character of the four present bishops of the SSPX. Thus, the Catholic Church recognizes the validity of the orders of all clergy and the validity of all sacraments of the SSPX.

        You wrote: … before they ever permit Rome to budge an inch toward anything approaching a reduced role for the bishop of Rome, and Benedict knows it too. Thus, ecumenism is, for all intents and purposes, a dead issue.

        I disagree. Pope John Paul II threw the door open wide to reconsideration of "the manner of exercise" of the papal office in the encyclical Ut unum sint, and Pope Benedict XVI has done nothing whatsoever to stop discussion of that issue. Indeed, the documents linked in the preceding comments show that such discussions are alive and well.

        Norm.

        1. Norm:

          The way the Bishop of Rome has exerciced jurisdictional authority has varied strongly in this 2000 years, and will undoubtly change in the next 2000. If one of the reasons is to heal the 1054 (or IMHO 1204) wound, the better.

          The strong centralization of the Church is a product of the French Revolution Crisis and the exponential ease of communications since then. I could put both arguments for and against it, but History is a better teacher …

          1. The Priestly Society of St. Pius X has declared the previous and the present Popes to be non-Popes and the seat vacant. They have removed themselves from communion with the See of St. Peter. How are they not schismatic?

            1. Dr. Tighe, I never thought I'd see that little bit of whimsy make it onto The Anglo Catholic. For such a bold public declaration of support, you may consider yourself a member of the SSPI in good standing. ;)

        2. The discussions Norm are indeed going on, but discussions are one thing. We can always discuss to the end of time, but unless the papacy is recognized as the paramount teaching office in the Church by the Orthodox churches, and the character of their carefully nuanced argument for what is in a universal governing synodical system replacing the central teaching office of the pope, I do not see Rome ever budging. If the east doesn't get off their present line, it will harden throughout the Orthodox Church. The talks will languish and finally peter out altogether, IMHO.

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