It leaves me wondering to whom I should listen: 19th-century patriarchs and Bishop Kallistos Ware, or the Fathers and councils of the early Church. They don't all seem to be saying the same things; and, in that case, somebody must be wrong.
I don't know what else to say. I could be wrong, but I can read and have read that the Bishop of Rome was regarded as the Head of the churches and the successor of St. Peter.
It seems to me to maintain otherwise is to accuse many of the Fathers and Doctors and Popes of the early Church of gross error or falsehood.
peterfarrington: For myself, I would hesitate to read the Fathers and then say that I knew better than the bishops and Patriarchs of the Orthodox Churches when it comes to understanding what they mean.
Well, when some early, pre-Schism Fathers, patriarchs, and popes say A
, and later, post-Schism patriarchs say Not A
, that is a case of contradiction
, not a case of the latter having a clearer understanding of the Fathers than the rest of us.
I have not yet found a way to make A
and Not A
make sense in this case.
The Eastern patriarchs whose encyclicals you quote were, I take it, Chalcedonians?
Do you find them authoritative in their assessment of the papacy and yet mistaken in their evaluation of the Council of Chalcedon?
peterfarrington: Surely Protestants always say 'Well I've read Galatians 15:27 and it clearly says X, Y and Z and I don't care if you disagree'. On another list I've just had a conversation with someone whos is convinced the Bible teaches re-incarnation because he has read passages that say so. And he won't accept any other authority than his own reading and thinking.
Well, what I see is you strongly emphasizing post-Schism encyclicals from 1848 and 1895 because they support your
private assessment, yet skirting the many many passages from the Fathers which assert that St. Peter was the chief of the Apostles and that the bishops of Rome were his successors.
In your remark above you assume that those encyclicals have the force of dogma, while ignoring the many patristic documents that apparently contradict them.
What we have here is early Fathers and councils who say A
and a couple of much later encyclicals that say Not A
You prefer the latter, and so believe them to be authoritative, although promulgated by prelates outside of your own communion.
I don't see how your assessment is any less a case of private interpretation than is mine.
peterfarrington: I am not saying that we are in the same situation but perhaps we do need to be careful before we suggest that the bishops are all wrong because they contradict the fathers. Surely we mean that they seem to disagree with OUR reading of the fathers, that isn't the same.
is wrong when Church Fathers and councils write, "Peter was the Rock upon which Christ founded His Church, and the bishops of Rome are his successors and heads of the churches" (or words to that effect) and some later, post-Schism patriarchs come along and deny those very things.
Perhaps the encyclicals you produced only seem
to deny that St. Peter was the Rock and leader of the Apostles and that the bishops of Rome were his successors.
I am very interested in considering the nature of presidency in the Church but I think it safer to start with the clear position of the Patriarchs and bishops and then read the Fathers, rather than the other way round. I have questions about the practice of my COP baptising Roman Catholics but it wouldn't be wise for me to just read the Fathers and then criticise the bishops, safer to ask the bishops first and then approach the Fathers.
May God grant us both wisdom and understanding.
If I read A
first, from a number of what I regard as reliable, authoritative sources, and only then what appears to be something that says Not A
from a post on an internet discussion forum, it is not very likely that I am going to quickly and easily give up my impression that A
I believe in the authority of the Church as superior to my own private judgment; but when highly respected patristic voices say one thing, and later, less highly respected voices say another, it is difficult to know what the doctrine of the Church is.
I need to re-read the encyclicals you posted. It is my sense that they were directed not so much at the historic primacy of the bishops of Rome but at the later, fully-developed papacy.
Perhaps you could examine some of the quotes I supplied, such as the one from the Patriarch Tarasius to Pope Hadrian I, and explain how they do not contradict the notion that the bishops of Rome had no more than a primacy of honor within the Church.
Perhaps you could also explain why the bishops assembled at Chalcedon exclaimed, "Peter has thus spoken through Leo," if Leo's primacy was based not upon his succession from St. Peter but merely upon his location in old Rome.
And, similarly, why the Fathers of the Sixth Ecumenical Council wrote the Emperor,"The ink shone and Peter spoke by [Pope] Agatho."