Dear Mary, Papist and Wyatt:
I had not read the decisions of the First Ecumenical Council until yesterday when Mary posted a link to them. Heretofore I had relied on secondary sources like Metropolitan Kallistos and Father Schmemann. I now realize, to my great discomfort, that my secondary sources were very kind to the Roman Catholic Church in their discussion of our long history together and our ecclesiastic and doctrinal differences. I will tell you also that I had a habit of approaching our differences with certain liberality, primarily by emphasizing our similarities but also by de-emphasizing our differences. However, having read even a short segment of the Acta of the First Ecumenical Council, I must tell you that I am most disillusioned by the supreme arrogance, intemperate language, and propaganda masquerading as facts that I found. I am citing the decisions of Session Four: 18 July 1870 in order to give you an idea of how much I had read to arrive at my impressions. Please be assured that I came into this with an irenic state of mind and now I am disappointed, disillusioned and frankly also angry. That said, I will withdraw from the arena as it is not good for my soul to be involved in such disputations.
I hate to tell you but I swear off these disputations at least twice a day!!
Understand that I am not pointing just at you with the following. It is meant to tell you something about me and how I view the world I live in: Growing up Catholic in country that is infused with a dominant protestant weltenstaang, I am accustomed to being told that the Catholic Church is arrogant, meaning, of course, that Catholics are arrogant. So I don't ever take that perception to heart without examining the source and the substance.
That being said, I have come to value your interest in Catholic and Orthodox interaction and I am sorry that you have had such a sour experience with some of the proceedings of our First Vatican Council. I had similar difficulties with it many years ago, though I was inclined, by trust and in faith, to accept both primacy and infallibility. Nonetheless some of the formal language of the Church, in all ages in fact, can be off-putting.
So if you would rather not discuss, I surely would understand.
For future reference and IF you have time and interest:
1. The official relatio [explanation] of infallibility was commissioned to Bishop Vincent Ferrer Gasser. It has been translated with commentary by Father James T. O'Connor and is called The Gift of Infallibility. It is published by Ignatius Press.
I found this text and commentary to be very helpful to me in putting the entire First Vatican in perspective in terms of the theological issues and concerns addressed by the Council.
2. There is a history of papal primacy published in 1966 [Michael Glasser imprint of Liturgical Press], by Father Klaus Schatz SJ, called Papal Primacy. From Its Origins to the Present.
It is an excellent and brief history that I also found to be of great assistance in finding a comfort level with formal ecclesial and theological language at various stages of our history, both shared and at variance.
So I will simply close by repeating that I am sorry that you are distressed and angry, and I do not in any way hold that against you or feel that you are lesser in any way for having this response. I am happy to have you as a correspondent and honest brother in Christ!