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,