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Author Topic: Questions on the Primacy of Peter  (Read 1051 times) Average Rating: 0
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SeanMc
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« on: May 15, 2006, 01:51:36 PM »

Now I know this is a complicated subject.

It would seem that Christ did give Peter a primacy and it would seem that the Bishop of Rome was seen as being the successor to this primacy and of St. Paul.

Now it also seems that the early conception of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome in no way resembles the infallible, universal bishop we now see. But there are some interesting patristic instances where we see the Pope having what some may say are extraordinary powers.

The main instance I can think of is when Pope St. Leo intervened in the Council of Chalcedon and vetoed Canon 35. However, I must mention a first contradiction to modern Catholic doctrine in the instance; Letter XXXVII presents how St. Leo felt that a council was unnecessary, but that he "[has] bestowed [his] zeal upon obeying your clemency's commands." So much for Vatican I's assertion that only a Pope can convene a general council.

But in Letter CV:III he says about Canon 35, "But the bishops' assents, which are opposed to the regulations of the holy canons composed at Nicaea in conjunction with your faithful Grace, we do not recognize, and by the blessed Apostle Peter's authority we absolutely dis-annul in comprehensive terms, in all ecclesiastical cases obeying those laws which the Holy Ghost set forth by the 318 bishops for the pacific observance of all priests in such sort that even if a much greater number were to pass a different decree to theirs, whatever was opposed to their constitution would have to be held in no respect."

The original Latin is (PL 54):

Quote
Consensiones vero episcoporum, sanctorum canonum apud Nicaeam conditorum regulis repugnantes, unita nobiscum vestrae fidei pietate in irritum mittimus, et per auctoritatem beati Petri apostoli, generali prorsus definitione cassamus, in omnibus ecclesiasticis causis his legibus obsequentes quas ad pacificam observantiam omnium sacerdotum, per trecentos decem et octo antistites Spiritus sanctus instituit: ita ut etiam si multo plures aliud quam illi statuere decernant, in nulla reverentia sit habendum, quidquid fuerit a praedictorum constitutione diversum.

However, while on the one hand this serves the Roman cause, the reasons St. Leo gives for this has nothing to do with the universal nature of the Roman Pontiff, but a read through Letter CV will show that St. Leo mainly does not want this because Constantinople is not really of apostolic rank and because it would be violating the canons of other Councils. Leo himself says that "The Nicene canons are unalterable and binding universally." A modern Catholic would see this reasoning as faulty and plain wrong and I think we can conclude that the reasons for Leo's rejection of this canon has to do with an argument built on sand (Text of Letter Found Here: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3604105.htm).

A quick read of Letter CVI reveals Leo's opinion on this matter: "These holy and venerable fathers who in he city of Nicaea, after condemning the blasphemous Arius with his impiety, laid down a code of canons for the Church to last till the end of the world, survive not only with us but with the whole of mankind in their constitutions; and, if anywhere men venture upon what is contrary to their decrees, it is ipso facto null and void..."

The real question, however, is whether or not St. Leo actually had the authority to cassate a decree and if there are any examples of any other Popes or Patriarchs doing this. It would seem that St. Leo is cassating it because he thinks that it is "ipso facto null and void," but he also uses the authority of Peter to cassare (to null, to void, to annull; used in a legal sense) the canon. It's hard to say which perspective is correct.

The East, however, came to accept Canon 35 of Chalecedon and it appeared in the Western copies eventually too. Does this mean it was still approved by the Council? I think someone with a knowledge of the Acts of the Council of Chalcedon might be able to tell us.

Nevertheless, this brings me to a second question. When the West introduced new doctrines, thereby schismating themselves from the East, did the primacy of Peter move from the See at Rome to the See at Constantinople? Are there any Fathers who recognized this as happening?

PS. St. Leo also claims that the power of Peter passed to all Bishops, so it's hard to see where he stands.
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Elisha
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« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2006, 02:06:01 PM »

Do a search on the Orthodox-Catholic section of this forum.  I there are at least two very lengthy threads where all your questions have probably been addressed.  Happy Hunting. Smiley
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SeanMc
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« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2006, 02:08:38 PM »

Hey, you're sorta right. I've actually talked about it before (don't actually remember that!). Apparently it's Canon 28, not 35 too.  Embarrassed      Smiley
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PeterTheAleut
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« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2006, 02:22:25 PM »

A good source to read from an Orthodox perspective on this subject:

The Primacy of Peter: Essays in Ecclesiology and the Early Church by Fr. John Meyendorff (editor), published by St. Vladimir's Seminary Press
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SeanMc
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« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2006, 02:45:51 PM »

The Quinisext Council states in Canon XXXVI: "Renewing the enactments by the 150 Fathers assembled at the God-protected and imperial city, and those of the 630 who met at Chalcedon; we decree that the see of Constantinople shall have equal privileges with the see of Old Rome, and shall be highly regarded in ecclesiastical matters as that is, and shall be second after it. After Constantinople shall be ranked the See of Alexandria, then that of Antioch, and afterwards the See of Jerusalem."

I think this proves that the East did not view the veto of Leo as valid.

Moreover, the Catholic Council, the Fourth Council of Constantinople, contains an implicit recognization of the canonical order put in place by the Council of Chalcedon, namely in Canon XXI.

Hmm...

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QuoVadis
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« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2006, 08:55:24 PM »

The primacy of Peter is a good question.  I don't know much about Church history, but wasn't James - the "brother" of Jesus the first Bishop of Jerusalem, so surely he would have had more primacy than Peter would, wouldn't he?
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« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2006, 01:22:36 PM »

Now I know this is a complicated subject.

It would seem that Christ did give Peter a primacy and it would seem that the Bishop of Rome was seen as being the successor to this primacy and of St. Paul.

Now it also seems that the early conception of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome in no way resembles the infallible, universal bishop we now see. But there are some interesting patristic instances where we see the Pope having what some may say are extraordinary powers.

The main instance I can think of is when Pope St. Leo intervened in the Council of Chalcedon and vetoed Canon 35.

You're kidding, right? I haven't read a line like that since I gave up reading 19th century Catholic apologists! Even Leo Donald Davis doesn't interpret things so anachronistically!

Unfortunately, I have to run to a meeting. I'll try to post more on this later tonight (although I think my wife is going to kill me, given all the time I've been spending flitting about OC.net of late).
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But for I am a man not textueel I wol noght telle of textes neuer a deel. (Chaucer, The Manciple's Tale, 1.131)
PeterTheAleut
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« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2006, 02:03:24 PM »

(although I think my wife is going to kill me, given all the time I've been spending flitting about OC.net of late).
No, spousicide is NOT a good thing.  Cheesy
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