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Author Topic: Does Someone Have to Accept the Pope Is Infallibe?  (Read 4852 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: September 12, 2007, 02:35:53 PM »

I've read on the Internet about people who are some distance from an Orthodox church. I've often wondered if I had been too far from an Orthodox church if I'd have become Catholic. I'm not sure I could accept the infallibility of the Pope. I do accept him as the first among equals. (First among equals is the current Orthodox understanding where the Pope has more honor than the other patriarchs, but he doesn't have more authority.)

Could I have become Catholic if I understand the Pope as the first among equals?
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« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2007, 02:39:23 PM »

A problematic question for us who no longer accept the Bishop of Rome as the 'first among equals'.
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« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2007, 02:56:46 PM »

No because the infallibility issue is not the only issue between Catholics and Orthodox. A search through the archives of this folder will reveal that in detail.
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« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2007, 03:00:51 PM »

I did some checking and apparently many Orthodox view the Patriarch of Constantinople as the first among equals.  I guess it's not "the current Orthodox understanding", but it's this Orthodox's understanding.
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« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2007, 03:07:41 PM »

I've read on the Internet about people who are some distance from an Orthodox church. I've often wondered if I had been too far from an Orthodox church if I'd have become Catholic. I'm not sure I could accept the infallibility of the Pope. I do accept him as the first among equals. (First among equals is the current Orthodox understanding where the Pope has more honor than the other patriarchs, but he doesn't have more authority.)

Could I have become Catholic if I understand the Pope as the first among equals?


The Catholic Church doesn't say "The Pope is infallible", but rather "The Pope is infallible whenever he makes an ex cathedra statement".

(If you want to read the precise statement from Vatican I, it is: "When the Roman Pontiff speaks ex cathedra, that is, when in exercising his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians he defines with his supreme apostolic authority that a doctrine on faith and morals is to be held by the whole Church, through the divine assistance promised him in the person of St. Peter, he enjoys that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer wished to endow his Church in defining a doctrine on faith and morals.)

As far as whether Catholics are required to believe that, the answer is yes. But I would like to stress that there is no official list of ex cathedra statements -- thus a Catholic is not required to believe, e.g., that the pope made an ex cathedra statement in 1854 when he defined the Immaculate Conception. (Note, however, that your typical Catholic does consider that to be an ex cathedra statement and,  I should warn you, more often than not he or she also assumes that everyone else does too and might therefore look at you like you have three or four heads if you suggest otherwise. Smiley Personally,  I tend to keep my opinions about "How many ex cathedra statements have their been?" to myself when in conversation with my fellow Catholics, unless I know that they are pretty well educated about such things.)

God bless,
Peter.
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« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2007, 03:09:35 PM »

No because the infallibility issue is not the only issue between Catholics and Orthodox. A search through the archives of this folder will reveal that in detail.

Very good point. (The biggest issue is papal authority.)
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« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2007, 03:15:29 PM »

I make my annual link to this page by a former poster here:

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« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2007, 03:18:12 PM »

Could I have become [Roman or Eastern-rite] Catholic if I understand the Pope as the first among equals?

You could have done if you didn't tell anybody your real belief on the matter, IOW, if you were dishonest.

The answer you're looking for is: no.
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« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2007, 03:22:06 PM »

I know the pope has to speak ex cathedra for his statement to be infallible.

For the Orthodox responders, I would worry about the concern #1 before I would have worried about concern #2, #3, etc.  This discussion is academic.  Four Orthodox churches are within 25 mi. of where I live.  I'm already been chrismated.
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« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2007, 03:30:04 PM »

I make my annual link to this page by a former poster here:

Latin Innovations Not Found in Orthodoxy

linky no worky
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« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2007, 03:34:29 PM »

Could I have become Catholic if I understand the Pope as the first among equals?
You could have done if you didn't tell anybody your real belief on the matter, IOW, if you were dishonest.

The answer you're looking for is: no.

That's not to say, of course, that there's anything wrong with being a Catholic and saying the pope is "first among equals". (I have heard Eastern-rite Catholics used that phrase many many times.) It's just that saying the pope is "first among equals" isn't sufficient to be Catholic.

I know the pope has to speak ex cathedra for his statement to be infallible.

I'm glad to hear that. You'd be surprised how many Catholics out there make such absurd statements as "the pope is infallible whenever he says anything about faith or morals". (That's what I like to call the "spirit of Vatican I" attitude.)

This discussion is academic.  

I quite understand where you're coming from: I'm a Catholic who wants to learn more about Orthodoxy but isn't thinking about 'doxing.

God bless,
Peter.
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« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2007, 03:50:05 PM »

linky no worky

Fixie linkie (oops)
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« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2007, 11:47:40 AM »

That's not to say, of course, that there's anything wrong with being a Catholic and saying the pope is "first among equals". (I have heard Eastern-rite Catholics use that phrase many many times.) It's just that saying the pope is "first among equals" isn't sufficient to be Catholic.

Indeed. It is not a false statement. The bishops are not agents or mere representatives of the pope. Pope St. Gregory the Great condemned that notion many long centuries ago.

But like PJ said, the pope has an additional charism, that of Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, that Catholics must also accept.
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« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2007, 01:46:28 PM »

unless I know that they are pretty well educated about such things.)

YOu are very knowledgeable in my opinion having read your posts over a period of time.

God Bless you.

I know too many catholics most of which only understand santa clause, xmas trees, jelly beans and easter eggs and is thus thier limit on the faith of the church.

You must keep very good comopany..
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« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2007, 01:55:29 PM »

YOu are very knowledgeable in my opinion having read your posts over a period of time.

God Bless you.

Well thanks.

I know too many catholics most of which only understand santa clause, xmas trees, jelly beans and easter eggs and is thus thier limit on the faith of the church.

I'm not sure I would go quite that far; but I do find that a lot of Catholics are caught up in either the "spirit of Vatican I" or the "spirit of Vatican II", or both.
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« Reply #15 on: September 13, 2007, 06:21:54 PM »

For Orthodoxy Christ is the main concern. There are popes who don't exhibit the life of Christ when they are expected to. On the other hand, however, there are people who seems to be the living Christ of 21st century in their way of life but are not popes. So, I think the pope is irrelevant when it comes to Orthodoxy; Christ and those who are like him are what matters or at least should matter for Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #16 on: September 13, 2007, 07:47:46 PM »

For Orthodoxy Christ is the main concern.

Christ is the main concern for Catholicism, too.

There are popes who don't exhibit the life of Christ when they are expected to. On the other hand, however, there are people who seems to be the living Christ of 21st century in their way of life but are not popes.

I completely agree with all of those statements, but I'm having trouble making the leap to your next statement: "So, I think the pope is irrelevant when it comes to Orthodoxy."

After all, there are priests who don't exhibit the life of Christ, too, and yet we don't say that priests are "irrelevant", do we? So why would popes be "irrelevant"?
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« Reply #17 on: September 13, 2007, 08:16:41 PM »

Christ is the main concern for Catholicism, too.

I completely agree with all of those statements, but I'm having trouble making the leap to your next statement: "So, I think the pope is irrelevant when it comes to Orthodoxy."

After all, there are priests who don't exhibit the life of Christ, too, and yet we don't say that priests are "irrelevant", do we? So why would popes be "irrelevant"?

PJ I understand your posistion but I believe Elijah is attacking the belief that a if a pope is not exhibiting a life of Christ how is he in the posistion to create infallible dogma for the whole Catholic church. I just disagree that the pope is the vicar of christ on earth I believe he is still and always with us (not in a protestant spirit way) I mean literally among us so why whould we need a physical representation.
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« Reply #18 on: September 13, 2007, 08:53:11 PM »

PJ I understand your posistion but I believe Elijah is attacking the belief that a if a pope is not exhibiting a life of Christ how is he in the posistion to create infallible dogma for the whole Catholic church.

I would say that goes back to the fact that the Catholic Church doesn't say "the pope is infallible" but rather  "the pope is infallible when (if) he makes an ex cathedra statement". Pretty much every Catholic out there has his/her opinion about how many ex cathedra statements there have been; been when we come down to it, we really don't even know whether there have been any ex cathedra statements at all.

I just disagree that the pope is the vicar of christ on earth I believe he is still and always with us (not in a protestant spirit way) I mean literally among us so why whould we need a physical representation.

First, I respect your opinion. Second, I don't believe that we need "a physical representation" of Christ, but rather physical representations, of which the pope is one.

God bless,
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« Reply #19 on: September 13, 2007, 09:06:03 PM »


First, I respect your opinion. Second, I don't believe that we need "a physical representation" of Christ, but rather physical representations, of which the pope is one.


Exactly we do need many representations but why is the pope Higer than the other representations? does he represent christ more fully? If your answers are no to all of these questions then why is the pope considered higher than other bishops

(sorry if this comes off as trolling or sound angry I am not trying to solve age old arguments but looking for answers myself)

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« Reply #20 on: September 13, 2007, 10:53:44 PM »

Exactly we do need many representations but why is the pope Higer than the other representations? does he represent christ more fully? If your answers are no to all of these questions then why is the pope considered higher than other bishops

I believe that whether or not the pope is higher than other bishops is a disputed matter among Catholics -- in particular, I don't think the Melkites (or some Melkites anyways) would describe him that way, since they would see it as contradicting  "first among equals".

I should stick a caveat in here: I feel I has less understanding of the papal authority issue than the papal infallibility issue, so my statements regarding the former will at times be a bit open-ended and incomplete.

For example, there's Benedict's well-known statement (from before he was Benedict):
"As far as the doctrine of the primacy is concerned, Rome must not require more of the East than was formulated and lived during the first millennium. When Patriarch Athenagoras, on the occasion of the visit of the Pope to the Phanar on July 25, 1967, addressed him as 'the successor of Peter, the first in honor among us, the one who has the presidency of love,' we hear from the mouth of this great Church leader the essential content of the first millennium's statement about the primacy - and Rome must demand no more than this. Reunion could take place on this basis: that for its part the East should renounce attacking the western development of the second millennium as heretical, and should accept the Catholic Church as legitimate and orthodox in the form which it has found through this development, while, for its part, the West should acknowledge the Church of the East as orthodox and legitimate in the form which it has maintained."

How is one to reconcile this with statements that the Catholic Church has made which give a very different idea of papal authority? I wish I knew.

God bless,
Peter.
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« Reply #21 on: September 13, 2007, 11:09:47 PM »

Reunion could take place on this basis: that for its part the East should renounce attacking the western development of the second millennium as heretical, and should accept the Catholic Church as legitimate and orthodox in the form which it has found through this development, while, for its part, the West should acknowledge the Church of the East as orthodox and legitimate in the form which it has maintained.


Sorry PJ, this will never fly with us.
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« Reply #22 on: September 13, 2007, 11:41:55 PM »

Sorry PJ, this will never fly with us.

Fair point.

Still, I think that quote does give a very different perspective, as compared with "the usual" Catholic statements on papal authority. More "ecumenical", I guess you could say.

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« Reply #23 on: September 14, 2007, 12:32:22 AM »

"Sorry PJ, this will never fly with us"... try that Red Bull, it will give you wings  Cool

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« Reply #24 on: September 14, 2007, 01:03:37 AM »

I would say that goes back to the fact that the Catholic Church doesn't say "the pope is infallible" but rather  "the pope is infallible when (if) he makes an ex cathedra statement". Pretty much every Catholic out there has his/her opinion about how many ex cathedra statements there have been; been when we come down to it, we really don't even know whether there have been any ex cathedra statements at all.

Really, all infallibility is saying is that the Holy Spirit prevents the Pope from teaching heretical dogma formally from the Chair of Peter.

It has nothing to do with the pope "creating" newfangled dogma (as a poster here and some Eastern Orthodox have described it). The last two commonly accepted infallible statements were really just following the consensus of the Latin Church built over centuries.
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« Reply #25 on: September 14, 2007, 08:05:40 AM »

"Sorry PJ, this will never fly with us"... try that Red Bull, it will give you wings  Cool

james

Don't need it -- we have God. Smiley

The last two commonly accepted infallible statements were really just following the consensus of the Latin Church built over centuries.

I assume you mean 1854 (on the Immaculate Conception) and 1950 (on the Assumption). And yes, you are welcome to hold the opinion that they were infallible.

-Peter.
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« Reply #26 on: September 14, 2007, 10:13:16 AM »

Don't need it -- we have God. Smiley

I assume you mean 1854 (on the Immaculate Conception) and 1950 (on the Assumption). And yes, you are welcome to hold the opinion that they were infallible.

-Peter.

Well, I believe they are infallible by virtue of being true!
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« Reply #27 on: September 14, 2007, 11:01:12 AM »

Well, I believe they are infallible by virtue of being true!

So like, when you said "the pope has an additional charism, that of Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church" you were making an infallible pronouncement?

Why don't we just avoid that whole word-game? (People here already think of us as "crypto-Protestants"; let's not give them additional fodder.)

-Peter.
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« Reply #28 on: September 14, 2007, 12:12:27 PM »


So like, when you said "the pope has an additional charism, that of Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church" you were making an infallible pronouncement?


No, because as an ordinary layman and not Supreme Pontiff, I do not have the authority or the ability to make pronouncements, infallible or otherwise. I have to leave the pontificating to the Pontiff.

People here already think of us as "crypto-Protestants"; let's not give them additional fodder.

This is the first I've heard of it.
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« Reply #29 on: September 14, 2007, 01:17:06 PM »

Don't know bout "crypto-Protestants", but have see plenty of Roman Protestants in my neck of the woods, er desert...

james
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« Reply #30 on: September 14, 2007, 01:37:03 PM »

Christ sent the Holy Spirit to enrich the church and lead IT inot all rightiousness.

The scripture does not provide us with real support with regard to the church that iT needs a "vicar".

Even the apostles are 'subject' to the church...slaves of Christ with the chains of faith.

if Rome wants to have another belief than it is a choice for Rome NOT the Universal, Catholic church of God.
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« Reply #31 on: September 14, 2007, 02:05:53 PM »

Pretty much every Catholic out there has his/her opinion about how many ex cathedra statements there have been; been when we come down to it, we really don't even know whether there have been any ex cathedra statements at all.

Strange. The main practical argument I've seen in favor of papal infallibility is that it serves as an indisputable and clear means of defining what the Church believes. But, if there is no means of determining when a particular teaching qualifies as definitive or infalliable, then, in reality, isn't the whole thing just a lot of talk with no teeth?
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« Reply #32 on: September 14, 2007, 04:14:57 PM »

Strange. The main practical argument I've seen in favor of papal infallibility is that it serves as an indisputable and clear means of defining what the Church believes.

Well again, there's what Vatican I actually said and then there's the "spirit of Vatican I" that prevails in much of pop-Catholicism -- the sola papa principle, if you will. (There's also the "spirit of Vatican II", but I don't think that's as relevant to this discussion.)

But, if there is no means of determining when a particular teaching qualifies as definitive or infalliable, then, in reality, isn't the whole thing just a lot of talk with no teeth?

I don't know if I would go so far as to say no teeth, but I would definitely say that it doesn't have the kind of fangs that many people think it does. (That's why I consider papal authority to be the biggest issue between Catholics and Orthodox.)

With respect to determining when a particular teaching qualifies as infallible, I think it's a lot like talking about which councils were ecumenical (see also this thread): Catholics don't all agree on how many ex cathedra statements there have been, but that's okay, really.

The Catholic Church could announce that such-and-such papal pronouncement (1854, let's say) was an ex cathedra statement, and hence an exercise of infallibility, and that everyone who wants to be Catholic is required to believe that it was -- but wouldn't that just create more division without serving any purpose?

Hope that helps.
God bless,
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« Reply #33 on: September 14, 2007, 04:20:45 PM »

Like so many doctrinal 'developments', the explanations and rationalizations aren't worth the effort.
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« Reply #34 on: September 14, 2007, 06:10:11 PM »

Yes I agree, it's time for a brewski or two...

james
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« Reply #35 on: September 14, 2007, 06:17:26 PM »

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Yes I agree, it's time for a brewski or two...

Oh what I wouldn't do for a liter of Zywiec right now... It almost isn't even worth the effort, outside our homeland the brewski is only mediocre at best.   
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« Reply #36 on: September 15, 2007, 08:31:12 PM »

But, if there is no means of determining when a particular teaching qualifies as definitive or infalliable, then, in reality, isn't the whole thing just a lot of talk with no teeth?

If I might turn the question around to you: if you don't all agree on how many ecumenical councils there have been, does that mean that the statement "ecumenical councils are infallible" has no teeth?
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« Reply #37 on: September 15, 2007, 08:37:51 PM »

If I might turn the question around to you: if you don't all agree on how many ecumenical councils there have been, does that mean that the statement "ecumenical councils are infallible" has no teeth?

PJ I'm not sure if you recall but there was a thread about the infallability of ecumenical councils (I cant find it though) but I believe the spirit of the discussion was that the councils are not themselves infallible but I will leave it at that and leave it to someone a little more learned about the subject.
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« Reply #38 on: September 15, 2007, 09:20:17 PM »

PJ I'm not sure if you recall but there was a thread about the infallability of ecumenical councils (I cant find it though) but I believe the spirit of the discussion was that the councils are not themselves infallible but I will leave it at that and leave it to someone a little more learned about the subject.

Yes, I think I remember that conversation.

Personally, I do consider them (however many of them there are) to be infallible -- and I think that at least some of your fellow Orthodox agree with me.
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« Reply #39 on: September 15, 2007, 09:59:44 PM »

personally I don't believe that the councils themselves were infallible but the "gist" of the decree's but do not like when certain parts of the church is dogmatized when it does not need to be (e.g marian related dogma). Kallistos (Timothy) Ware makes a great point that our Catholic brother need to make certain things about Mary dogma because of their different view of Mary (not being protestant and saying that you guys worship it was something about Mary being the link between the old covenant and the new but it was an interesting idea) Orthodox don't 100% disagree with the Marian dogma but rather the fact that it has to be dogma. (if anyone can understand my ramblings)
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The sins I don't commit are largely due to the weakness of my limbs.

1915-1923 Հայոց Ցեղասպանութիւն ,never again,
ܩܛܠܐ ܕܥܡܐ ܐܬܘܪܝܐ 1920-1914, never again,
השואה  1933-1945, never again,
(1914-1923) Ελληνική Γενοκτονία, never again
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« Reply #40 on: September 16, 2007, 06:39:58 PM »

Currently, I don't see the Pope as "first among equals", though if there were to to be a reuniting, then I would see him as such. However, you are most certainly not giving up Orthodoxy by thinking such.

My main concern is having one supreme leader in the church, which was what drove me from Catholicism and broke the Irish family "tradition". I've always looked to the line of, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." I don't mind having a figurehead, but I feel that all decisions regarding the overall Church should be made in a council.



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« Reply #41 on: September 16, 2007, 06:46:11 PM »

I don't mind having a figurehead, but I feel that all decisions regarding the overall Church should be made in a council.

Exactly thats my problem with it the Pope idea I think can take away checks and balances and it in theory could go against the "consensus of the church". But again this is hyperbole and in general the problems im talking about don't happen. I like the idea that a council a group of people all guided by the holy spirit can make proper decisions.
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The sins I don't commit are largely due to the weakness of my limbs.

1915-1923 Հայոց Ցեղասպանութիւն ,never again,
ܩܛܠܐ ܕܥܡܐ ܐܬܘܪܝܐ 1920-1914, never again,
השואה  1933-1945, never again,
(1914-1923) Ελληνική Γενοκτονία, never again
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« Reply #42 on: September 16, 2007, 08:50:16 PM »

but do not like when certain parts of the church is dogmatized when it does not need to be

I think you are quite right to feel that way.

Cardinal Newman said that papal infallibility should not have been dogmatically defined, even though he agree with it. (I don't have the exact quote in front of me, but I'm pretty certain he said that it shouldn't have been done, not just that it was unnecessary.)

(e.g marian related dogma). Kallistos (Timothy) Ware makes a great point that our Catholic brother need to make certain things about Mary dogma because of their different view of Mary (not being protestant and saying that you guys worship it was something about Mary being the link between the old covenant and the new but it was an interesting idea) Orthodox don't 100% disagree with the Marian dogma but rather the fact that it has to be dogma. (if anyone can understand my ramblings)

Yes that makes sense. (Incidentally, I don't know if I've read the particular passage you're referring to, but I've generally liked what I've read from Bishop Kallistos.)

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Peter.
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« Reply #43 on: September 16, 2007, 10:26:59 PM »

This thread has made me think about if the pope is still the first among equals.  I have to say "yes", but with this qualification.

If the President of the United States has goes into coma, the Vice President takes over his responsibilities.  However, the President doesn't cease being the Chief Executive because the VP is only the "acting" President.  If the President wakes, he resumes his responsibilities.

In a similar way, the pope is first among equals.  The Patriarch of Constantinople has assumed his responsibilities while the Catholic Church is in schism.  If the pope returns to the fold, he'll resume his responsibilities.  I hope that explanation is clear and it doesn't offend any Greeks. Smiley
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« Reply #44 on: September 16, 2007, 10:35:20 PM »

This thread has made me think about if the pope is still the first among equals.  I have to say "yes", but with this qualification.

If the President of the United States has goes into coma, the Vice President takes over his responsibilities.  However, the President doesn't cease being the Chief Executive because the VP is only the "acting" President.  If the President wakes, he resumes his responsibilities.

In a similar way, the pope is first among equals.  The Patriarch of Constantinople has assumed his responsibilities while the Catholic Church is in schism.  If the pope returns to the fold, he'll resume his responsibilities.  I hope that explanation is clear and it doesn't offend any Greeks. Smiley


I think you put that very well. (Although I, as a Catholic, believe it is the Patriarch of Constantinople who need to return to the fold in order to resume his responsibilities, i.e. his ranking as second. Obviously I don't expect you to agree with me there, since if you did you'd presumably be Catholic.) Smiley
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