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Author Topic: Ecumenical Catch-22 for Rome?  (Read 723 times) Average Rating: 0
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Carefree T
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« on: September 15, 2010, 04:33:59 AM »

Hello All,

In study about the RCC - EOC history and situation, I've come across a couple things that don't make sense to me about the Romans in their claim.

1) The Ecumenical Councils and the Fathers were pretty clear about Rome having an honorary Petrine primacy, but the Councils also say that should anything happen to Rome, Constantinople assumes the "head," no? Since the Romans hold the Councils as valid and dogmatic, how do they then justify their claim as "the" Church? The logic seems, to me, to exclude the possibility of any church leaving and simultaneously being at all the true Church. Rome, being first in the described order, and Jerusalem, being last, are in opposite positions; if it were Jerusalem that broke communion, it would have a legitimate claim as the true Church, as "something" happened to all the rest of the churches, leaving Jerusalem as the "head" of the Church. That would be an interesting argument, as both sides would have entirely legitimate claims in that department (i.e. the rest of the Church could still claim it as Jerusalem's error and still claim Rome's honorary primacy - which Rome does now, but the arrogance in saying "Everybody is wrong but me!" is hard to swallow and the claim even harder to believe). Or let's say both Rome and Constantinople broke off together; according to the Councils, the churches in communion with Alexandria would then be automatically "The" Church. So it's set up in a manner that irrevocably excludes Rome from the true One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church if it fails to take all the churches except Jerusalem with it. How is this dealt with by the Roman Catholics? Am I even understanding any of this correctly? How can Roman Catholics consistently rely on the pre-schism Petrine primacy when the councils they adhere to automatically exclude the possibility of Rome being valid in the case of schism?

2) My other question is Rome's apostolic succession and validity of the popes. If numbers of popes were anathematized by councils, and many, many popes were seriously evil, wicked and/or corrupt and anything but "apostolic" in behavior, how is the unbroken succession of popes from Peter justified? Can a man, put in his seat by one in a chain of men, some of whom were excommunicated by councils he adheres to, by a system of politics and not bishoprics, and who may be quoted as saying any number of apostasies like "This fable of Christ has been very profitable to us," rightly lend his seat to another man and claim the succession unbroken and apostolic? Or is "apostolic succession" an entirely mechanical principle, working through the ritual alone? Would anyone ordained or consecrated by, say, Arius be still valid, then, regardless of the heresy of the ordainer? Can a seat that's filled by election, by jurisdiction-less bishops at that, and subject to secular veto be considered apostolic in any case whatsoever?

3) On a smaller note, if a large part of the Vatican's historical claim to primacy really is based on "Peter and Paul died here," what did the Patriarch of Jerusalem have to say about that? The claim seems a little comical to me.

Thanks much in advance for the time,
- T
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akimel
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« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2010, 02:46:44 PM »

Carefree, probably the best thing for you to do is to read the following documents:

Lumen gentium

Unitatis redintegratio

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, The Ecclesiology of Vatican II

I think that if you read these three pieces, you will discover that you have mainly misunderstood the Catholic understanding of the Church and the ministry of the Petrine office. 
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ICXCNIKA
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« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2010, 03:02:53 PM »

As an Orthodox Christian I can only answer that I do not recognize any claims from Rome. If I shared their beliefs I would be required by my conscience if by nothing else to be a Roman. From my understanding Rome has no claim to anything including the Apostolic Faith and Apostolic Succession. I will grant them that Ss. Peter and Paul were martyered there. Not sure how that helps their claim as St Peter not only founded the
See of Antioch but spent the vast majority of his time there. Nor does it look likely that he was the first bishop of rome as there probably already was a Church established there by the time he got there. As to St Paul well he founded many Churches. I see your point about Jerusalem being able to say that Christ was born, lived, and died in its environs. However I would hold that the Martyrs cannot be artificially separated from the Whole Church. Meaning  Ss. Peter and Paul's martyerdom does not belong to just the Roman Church (regardless of pre or post schism) nor does St Thomas' martyerdom just belong to India etc. Hope this helps. 

Hello All,

In study about the RCC - EOC history and situation, I've come across a couple things that don't make sense to me about the Romans in their claim.

1) The Ecumenical Councils and the Fathers were pretty clear about Rome having an honorary Petrine primacy, but the Councils also say that should anything happen to Rome, Constantinople assumes the "head," no? Since the Romans hold the Councils as valid and dogmatic, how do they then justify their claim as "the" Church? The logic seems, to me, to exclude the possibility of any church leaving and simultaneously being at all the true Church. Rome, being first in the described order, and Jerusalem, being last, are in opposite positions; if it were Jerusalem that broke communion, it would have a legitimate claim as the true Church, as "something" happened to all the rest of the churches, leaving Jerusalem as the "head" of the Church. That would be an interesting argument, as both sides would have entirely legitimate claims in that department (i.e. the rest of the Church could still claim it as Jerusalem's error and still claim Rome's honorary primacy - which Rome does now, but the arrogance in saying "Everybody is wrong but me!" is hard to swallow and the claim even harder to believe). Or let's say both Rome and Constantinople broke off together; according to the Councils, the churches in communion with Alexandria would then be automatically "The" Church. So it's set up in a manner that irrevocably excludes Rome from the true One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church if it fails to take all the churches except Jerusalem with it. How is this dealt with by the Roman Catholics? Am I even understanding any of this correctly? How can Roman Catholics consistently rely on the pre-schism Petrine primacy when the councils they adhere to automatically exclude the possibility of Rome being valid in the case of schism?

2) My other question is Rome's apostolic succession and validity of the popes. If numbers of popes were anathematized by councils, and many, many popes were seriously evil, wicked and/or corrupt and anything but "apostolic" in behavior, how is the unbroken succession of popes from Peter justified? Can a man, put in his seat by one in a chain of men, some of whom were excommunicated by councils he adheres to, by a system of politics and not bishoprics, and who may be quoted as saying any number of apostasies like "This fable of Christ has been very profitable to us," rightly lend his seat to another man and claim the succession unbroken and apostolic? Or is "apostolic succession" an entirely mechanical principle, working through the ritual alone? Would anyone ordained or consecrated by, say, Arius be still valid, then, regardless of the heresy of the ordainer? Can a seat that's filled by election, by jurisdiction-less bishops at that, and subject to secular veto be considered apostolic in any case whatsoever?

3) On a smaller note, if a large part of the Vatican's historical claim to primacy really is based on "Peter and Paul died here," what did the Patriarch of Jerusalem have to say about that? The claim seems a little comical to me.

Thanks much in advance for the time,
- T
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« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2010, 03:04:37 PM »

2) My other question is Rome's apostolic succession and validity of the popes. If numbers of popes were anathematized by councils, and many, many popes were seriously evil, wicked and/or corrupt and anything but "apostolic" in behavior, how is the unbroken succession of popes from Peter justified? Can a man, put in his seat by one in a chain of men, some of whom were excommunicated by councils he adheres to, by a system of politics and not bishoprics, and who may be quoted as saying any number of apostasies like "This fable of Christ has been very profitable to us," rightly lend his seat to another man and claim the succession unbroken and apostolic? Or is "apostolic succession" an entirely mechanical principle, working through the ritual alone? Would anyone ordained or consecrated by, say, Arius be still valid, then, regardless of the heresy of the ordainer? Can a seat that's filled by election, by jurisdiction-less bishops at that, and subject to secular veto be considered apostolic in any case whatsoever?
Apostolic succession...  Is it the possession of the Church, or is it the possession of individual bishops?
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Carefree T
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« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2010, 04:49:17 PM »

Carefree, probably the best thing for you to do is to read the following documents:

Lumen gentium

Unitatis redintegratio

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, The Ecclesiology of Vatican II

I think that if you read these three pieces, you will discover that you have mainly misunderstood the Catholic understanding of the Church and the ministry of the Petrine office. 
I am of course open to completely misunderstanding something, so I'll get to reading over the next couple of days. Thank you for the links.
As an Orthodox Christian I can only answer that I do not recognize any claims from Rome. If I shared their beliefs I would be required by my conscience if by nothing else to be a Roman. From my understanding Rome has no claim to anything including the Apostolic Faith and Apostolic Succession. I will grant them that Ss. Peter and Paul were martyered there. Not sure how that helps their claim as St Peter not only founded the
See of Antioch but spent the vast majority of his time there. Nor does it look likely that he was the first bishop of rome as there probably already was a Church established there by the time he got there. As to St Paul well he founded many Churches. I see your point about Jerusalem being able to say that Christ was born, lived, and died in its environs. However I would hold that the Martyrs cannot be artificially separated from the Whole Church. Meaning  Ss. Peter and Paul's martyerdom does not belong to just the Roman Church (regardless of pre or post schism) nor does St Thomas' martyerdom just belong to India etc. Hope this helps.
It does help, thank you for the perspective. Of course I have a bias, but I still find your opinions here completely agreeable. As far as I've read, there were indeed bishops of Rome before Peter, consecrated by Paul.
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« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2010, 05:01:16 PM »

2) My other question is Rome's apostolic succession and validity of the popes. If numbers of popes were anathematized by councils, and many, many popes were seriously evil, wicked and/or corrupt and anything but "apostolic" in behavior, how is the unbroken succession of popes from Peter justified? Can a man, put in his seat by one in a chain of men, some of whom were excommunicated by councils he adheres to, by a system of politics and not bishoprics, and who may be quoted as saying any number of apostasies like "This fable of Christ has been very profitable to us," rightly lend his seat to another man and claim the succession unbroken and apostolic? Or is "apostolic succession" an entirely mechanical principle, working through the ritual alone? Would anyone ordained or consecrated by, say, Arius be still valid, then, regardless of the heresy of the ordainer? Can a seat that's filled by election, by jurisdiction-less bishops at that, and subject to secular veto be considered apostolic in any case whatsoever?

I have often wondered how the West's claim to apostolic succession is tenable in light of the investiture controversy, which lasted for several hundred years (I believe from Pepin I to the First Lateran Council). Does anyone have an answer for this?
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« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2010, 06:00:21 PM »

1) The Ecumenical Councils and the Fathers were pretty clear about Rome having an honorary Petrine primacy, but the Councils also say that should anything happen to Rome, Constantinople assumes the "head," no?

Where do they say this exactly?
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« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2010, 08:54:31 PM »

2) My other question is Rome's apostolic succession and validity of the popes. If numbers of popes were anathematized by councils, and many, many popes were seriously evil, wicked and/or corrupt and anything but "apostolic" in behavior, how is the unbroken succession of popes from Peter justified? Can a man, put in his seat by one in a chain of men, some of whom were excommunicated by councils he adheres to, by a system of politics and not bishoprics, and who may be quoted as saying any number of apostasies like "This fable of Christ has been very profitable to us," rightly lend his seat to another man and claim the succession unbroken and apostolic? Or is "apostolic succession" an entirely mechanical principle, working through the ritual alone? Would anyone ordained or consecrated by, say, Arius be still valid, then, regardless of the heresy of the ordainer? Can a seat that's filled by election, by jurisdiction-less bishops at that, and subject to secular veto be considered apostolic in any case whatsoever?
Apostolic succession...  Is it the possession of the Church, or is it the possession of individual bishops?

It's not simply one or the other. It's a little bit of both. Individual bishops are part of the Church so whatever they have as a part of their ecclesiastical being is logically the possession of the Church. But it is not simply the possession of the Church as if all members possess Apostolic Succession. And it is not simply the possession of the individual bishops as if they could take it with themselves away from the Church if they were to leave it.
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Carefree T
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« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2010, 12:41:35 AM »

1) The Ecumenical Councils and the Fathers were pretty clear about Rome having an honorary Petrine primacy, but the Councils also say that should anything happen to Rome, Constantinople assumes the "head," no?

Where do they say this exactly?
You're correct; I've made an assumption based on the "order of honor" of the original churches. I should not have done so.
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« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2010, 04:50:26 AM »

1) The Ecumenical Councils and the Fathers were pretty clear about Rome having an honorary Petrine primacy, but the Councils also say that should anything happen to Rome, Constantinople assumes the "head," no?

Where do they say this exactly?
You're correct; I've made an assumption based on the "order of honor" of the original churches. I should not have done so.

Well, it does imply that the primacy of honor, "first among equals", would pass on to the second in rank (or, IMO, third in rank [Alexandria] as in the Oriental churches given both Rome and Constantinople being gone). "Headship" is another matter entirely.
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