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Sorry dude, I really think you misunderstood the nature with which I was saying the whole epistle order. I was putting forth a hypothetical issue for argument’s sake. I certainly was not saying that the New Testament Scriptures were not INFALLIBLE, or that they were not GOD-INSPIRED to men in the Church. Certainly, this is Orthodox belief. Finally, I certainly was not trying to make the argument that the Apostle St. Peter’s epistles were somehow lesser (nor greater) than any of the other Apostolic epistles. I was merely saying, hypothetically, that seeing how they are all EQUAL, how St. Peter’s epistles were not placed, HONOURIFICALLY, in the front, seeing how Catholics see him as “the prince of Apostles”. It was not my intention to offend or annoy you, which I think I did, seeing how you reposted saying “ONCE AGAIN” like I somehow did not get it, again! Also, it wasn’t my intention to demean the all-laudable St. Peter.
That being said, there are a few things that I wanted to answer to that you mentioned in your post, that I feel I need to say.
I think St. Vincent of Lerins said it best that the true test of catholic, of the beliefs and tenets of the Church, is something that has believed always and by all. The only way to truly know what the Church has always believed is to look at the history.
St. Peter was the head of the Apostles, he was the first (PROTOS), but he surely wasn’t the cause (ARCHE) of the authority of the other Apostles. The Lord Jesus Christ endowed them with the authority to bind and loosen, and not St. Peter, who also received his authority from Christ. St. Peter may be called to strengthen his brothers, but not to justify their ministries, as that comes from Christ alone who is the cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). St. Peter for instance recognizes St. Paul as an Apostles, but it’s not from St. Peter that he becomes an Apostle, St Paul is called by the glorified Christ. It is not a fluke that St. Paul says he goes to the LEADERS of the Church at Jerusalem (Galatians 2:2), and not LEADER. It is not fluke that St. Paul rebukes the Corinthian Church for arguing that certain Apostles are greater (1 Corinthians 3:21-23). It is not a fluke that St. Paul rebukes St. Peter for not eating with uncircumcized Christians, because he was worthy to be blamed (Galatians 2:11-14). Nor is it a fluke that the issue is not settled by the repentant and rebuked St. Peter, but by the Church in collegiality at the Jerusalem Council. It is not a fluke that the Apostles and Elders send out the decrees that it has seemed good to US and the Holy Spirit (Acts 15:28). Rome had an honour above being the imperial city. As the imperial city, two shining beacons of the Church, Ss. Peter and Paul were martyred in Rome. The perpetual presence of St. Peter in Rome therefore is not the Pope as a successor of Peter, but the memory of St. Peter himself, who glorified the Triune Lord God by gladly spilling his holy blood in Rome. Rome is not SUPERIOR because of this, she is BLESSED because of this.
Some Catholics look at the letter of St. Clement to the Church at Corinth and argue that it is a proof of Roman Universal Jurisdiction. The interesting thing is that St. Clement’s name appears nowhere in the document, and it is only by St. Ignatius of Antioch that we know that it was St. Clement who wrote it. Secondly, we know that St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote letters to the Magnesians, to the Smyrneans, to many others. No Roman Catholic would argue that this is a proof of the Universal Jurisdiction of Antioch, would they? Certainly not! What does this illutstrate? A communion of love between the churches, not unlike the communion of love that is God, the Holy Trinity. Just as the Son is wholly God, and not part, so too is every local Church THE CHURCH, and not just a part. Surely, this is the opinion of St. Clement, St. Ignatius, St. Cyprian and many early Church Fathers.
Canon 6 of the First Ecumenical Council names Rome, Alexandria and Antioch together. There is no exclusive naming of Rome. By the Fourth Ecumenical Council, the Sees of Constantinople (as the new imperial city) and Jerusalem are elevated to Patriarchates also, bringing the number to 5, with Rome holding the honorary first seat of equals, because she is the imperial city. Canon 3 of the Second Ecumenical Council states that Rome has the first seat of honour because she is the imperial city. Canon 28 of the Fourth Council illustrates that this is the reason also. (These are all councils affirmed by the Roman Catholic Church…all stating that the reason for primacy was one of honour because Rome was the imperial city).
St. Cyprian’s Unity of the Catholic Church is often cited as a document illustrating Roman UNIVERSAL JURISDICTION. The fact is that unlike Roman Catholicism, that teaches that each local Church is part of the whole, St. Cyprian was referring to the local Church and discussing its catholic (wholeness, completeness) status. At the same time, St. Cyprian is talking about the episcopal ministry, calling every bishop a successor of THE CHAIR of Peter. St. Cyprian states that all the Apostles had a like power, and that there was nothing that Peter had that the others didn’t. They were all shepherds in the one flock. Historically placed, St. Cyprian was writing when Novatian was rejecting Pope Cornelius, who held the chair at Rome as bishop. Cyprian was stressing the importance of Apostolic foundation. If St. Cyprian was aruging that the wholeness belongs to one bishop, one of Rome, why does he go on in the next chapter of his De Unitate, to state, “The authority of the BISHOPS forms a UNITY, of which EACH HOLDS HIS PART IN ITS TOTALITY”. If I didn’t know better, it sounds like St. Cyprian is saying that each bishop is the authority of his part, and that part is a totality, is catholic. Each episcopal seat is the Chair of Peter in its totality, according to St. Cyprian. This is why Auer writes in his Catholic Catechism, “The Church”, pg.287, that “It is NO LONGER possible today to join Cyprian in seeing the Petrine succession in the bishop of each local Church”. I ask, WHY? Auer doesn’t say. There is never a reason given as to why that cannot be the case today. It is not possible, because the developped doctrine today in the RCC looks nothing like this.
In the early centuries, the Church was divided according to the PRINCIPLE of ACCOMODATION, and this was the case in the West too. Under Diocletian, says Frances Dvornik, a Roman Catholic historian, the jurisdiction of Rome was lessened by political divisions and given to the bishop of Milan. Rome seems to have accepted the this situation because it conformed to the principle of ACCOMODATION. So, NO, Rome did not always assert UNIVERSAL JURISDICTION, and NO, Rome did not always make claims of primacy based on St. Peter. To be sure, the earliest records of bishops, like that of St. Irenaeus of Lyons, do not name St. Peter the first bishop of Rome, but St. Linus, a disciple of St. Paul (Adversus Haereses III.3.3.). It is not by fluke that St. Gregory the Dialogist, Pope of Rome, call the Roman flock he tends to children of Paul in his Dialogues. After all, Holy Tradition tells us that St. Peter was in Rome to be martyred, and that before that, he was in Antioch for seven years. Moreover, to St. Peter are attributed the Sees of Antioch, Tripoli, Laodicea, Caesarea. If there is a Petrine Primacy, why did these other sees, why did not Anitioch lay claim to it? Because they understood correctly what 4th-5th century Rome started misinterpreting.
What were the historical and the political factors that triggered the Petrine claims?
1) The Imperial City moved from Rome to Constantinople, New Rome.
2) The Empire in the West as a Political Institution crumbles to the barbarian invasions.
3)The See of Rome is the only social structure left after everything else is destroyed
4) Being the only Apostolic See in the West, and apart from the East, Rome can make and magnify claims without her THEN sister churches buffering her claims.
It is not a secret that the Fifth Ecumenical Council argued that questions of faith could only be solved COLLEGIALLY, by a Synod, not by a single individual, not even the first among equals, the Pope of Rome. The Jerusalem Council was cited at the Fifth Ecumenical Council to illustrate that COLLEGIALITY WAS ALWAYS THE WAY OF THE CHURCH.
Was the Pope always historically INFALLIBLE? NO, he certainly was not! Pope Honorius was condemned at the Sixth Ecumenical Council as a Monothelite heretic. Earlier than this, at the Fifth Ecumenical Council in Constantinople, Pope Vigilius refused to condemn the books that the council had collegially found heretical, but wanted to give the decision himself. He was REMOVED FROM THE COMMUNION! He was only later reintroduced, after recognizing the Council’s decision. THIS COUNCIL REFUSED VIGILIUS HIS CLAIM THAT HE CAN MAKE UNILATERAL VALID DECISIONS ON HIS OWN IN MATTERS OF FAITH. This is again, a council that is seen as Ecumenical in both West and East. Furthermore, anytime a new bishop of Rome was consecrated, the Pope would read from the Liber Diurnus, the Profession of Faith, and the anathema that was put on Pope Honorius the heretic. This practice was continued until, (surprise, surprise) the eleventh century reforms of the Germanic popes.
With the filioque controversy, Pope Leo III rejected it as heresy. Pope Hadrian I did the same. Pope John VIII, earlier had rejected not only filioque, but claims of UNIVERSAL JURISDICTION, also. These were Popes, who according to Pastor Aeternus were INFALLIBLE. The Germanic popes had no qualms about overturning Pope John VIII condemnation of filioque, inserting it. If the Pope is infallible, these Reformer popes ERRED in overturning the condemnation of filioque. If the previous popes erred in condemning filioque, THEN THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS INFALLIBLITY, no NOT EVEN ON DOCTRINES OF FAITH in the ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH. Infallibility, as has always been taught in the Church, comes with COLLEGIALITY.
Uncertaindrummer, you argue that the Pope is only infallible when he speaks ex cathedra, and I’ve heard many Roman Catholics argue, what I consider to be vain argument, that he has only spoken ex cathedra once or twice. NOT ACCORDING TO PASTOR AETERNUS. If I may quote the bull that made PAPAL INFALLIBLITY a doctrine in 1870: “We teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman pontiff speaks ex cathedra, that is, WHEN, IN THE EXERCISE OF HIS OFFICE AS SHEPHERD AND TEACHER OF ALL CHRISTIANS, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authoirty, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that INFALLIBLITY which the divine Redeemer willed His Church to enjoy in defining doctrines concerning faith and morals. Therefore, such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, AND NOT BY THE CONSENT OF THE CHURCH, IRREFORMABLE”. (Pastor Aeternus 4). This is completely at odds with the history of the Church. The Ecumenical Councils forbade any bishop to speak for the whole Church, like the 5th Ecumenical Council and Pope Vigilius, who was removed from the communion. Doctrines come not from the Pope, but the Church in COLLEGIALITY. Finally, it is the CONSCIENCE OF THE CHURCH, which has always been clergy and laity, to confirm that what has been declared has always been taught and is confirmed by the Body of Christ. The same is true for Councils. St. Maximos the Confessor rightly said that “Truth judges synods”…a Council is not Ecumenical by its nature…there was the Robber Synod of 449 that was rejected, as were other false ones, that declared false teachings. This audacious claim of INFALLIBILITY was never in the Church, as Roman Pontiffs were WRONG IN FAITH AND MORALS, and IN THEIR OFFICE, before. On top of this, to say that these decrees are IRREFORMABLE? The decrees of one BISHOP? Speaking for the entire Church? If these false doctrines are truly irreformable, there is an unbridgable chasm between Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy knows that the Church shows the bishop is not INFALLIBLE. Nestorianism? Was sprouted by Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople. Let’s not delude ourselves. The only way to check heresy, and personal delusion and fault, is by testing it against a brother’s view. One calls to mind the wise words of St. Gregory, Pope of Rome, the Dialogist, NO BISHOP CAN CALL HIMSELF UNIVERSAL WITHOUT RENDERING VOID THE MINISTRY OF OTHER BISHOPS. This wise man of God, how he clearly understood his role as servant of the servants of God!
Was the same humility there with the Germanic Popes of the Eleventh Century, when the See of Rome went from primatus to PAPATUS. The PAPACY WAS BORN! Pope Gregory VII felt that his shoe was worthy to be kissed, and stated it, that the Roman Church had never erred, the Pope cannot err, the Pope can depose bishops and Emperors, and do what he likes, like the Church is his inheritance!!!! Audacious! How about Innocent III who wasn’t pleased with the title Vicar of St. Peter, but had to change to “Vicar of Christ”, the first time it was used. When did Christ ever need to be VICARIOUSLY with HIS CHURCH ANYWAY? The Lord Who says that He is always with us (Matthew 28:20)? “The surpreme pontiff is not called the Vicar of a mere man (St. Peter is suddenly not enough), but truly the Vicar of the True God” (Regestorum sive Epistolarum I, PL 214, 292A). Can there be ANY DOUBT that these PROUD CLAIMS helped sparked what would be the Protestant Reformation? How about Boniface VIII, and Unam Sanctam, where he states “I am pope and Emperor”.
The words of St. Gregory the Dialogist could be heard from the bishops who could not believe what had been declared at Vatican I. Bishop de las Cases of Hippo argued, “In effect the pope remains the only true bishop in the entire Church, the others being certainly bishops in name but, in reality, mere vicars” (quoted from Mansi, 52, 338). Bishop Bravard of Coutances, “the bishops appear to be no more than the vicars of the Roman pontiff, removable at his behest, whereas Christ chose TWELVE whome He called His Apostles, and all of us, who are appointed to a See, believe that when we received the fullness of the priesthood, we were wedded to that See, truly and irrevocably before God, adn that we were bound to it as to a spouse” (quoted from Mansi, 52, 678). Roman Catholic Antiochian Patriarch Gregory II Youssef rebuked Pope Pius IX, saying that the Church was not an absolute monarchy, that his decrees were against the Living Holy Tradition of the Church…to which Pius the IX made the infamous statement “I AM TRADITION”. When Gregory prostrated to kiss the Pope’s slipper, Pope Pius IX, seeking to teach him a lesson in humility, placed his foot on the nape of his neck, stepping on him, teaching him to not be so audacious. As Christians, my dear Catholic friends, we are called to be OBEDIENT, BUT ALSO TO BE RESPONSIBLE.
Does the audacity end at Vatican I. What about Pope Pius X (must be in the name), who declared “The Pope is not only representative of Jesus Christ, but he is Jesus Christ Himself hidden under the veil of the flesh. Does the pope speak? It is Jesus Christ Himself who speaks”. Okay, now this is too much. A bishop holds the place of Christ in the local Church, wears the priesthood of Christ, but HE IS NOT CHRIST. CHRIST IS CHRIST. How about Pope Pius XI (1922-1939), who said “You know that I am the Holy Father, the representative of God on earth, which means I am God on earth” GOD is God on earth:) As He is God in heaven. The triune Lord God is in all places and fills all things. A bishop, regardless of who that bishop is, hold the place of Christ, but is not God.
The Orthodox Church believes and confesses that ECCLESIOLOGY is no one man’s to change. The Church arrived at her doctrines in defense of faith, arrived at her creeds, COLLEGIALLY. These are eternal Truths. This is the Biblical Example. If Christ willed the bishop of Rome to be His Vicar, INFALLIBLE, and sovereign over the whole Church, it would have been so from the beginning. It certainly is not up to negotiation! Truth is not negotiated, twisted, compromised, and then arrived at! NO, Truth is confessed! Either the Doctrine of the Infalliblity of the Bishop of Rome has always been part of the Church, or it’s an innovation and heresy. The very fact that Church history does not agree with Roman Catholic claims, illustrates to Orthodox what they have said from the beginning. It is HERESY to claim that any one bishop, regardless who he is, can speak for the WHOLE CHURCH, or IS INFALLIBLE.
Forgive me for the long post. I tried to keep it short, but I think I had to state all that I did. Again, I surely did not mean to offend anyone. As the name would imply, we are going to have different beliefs. I had to explain to you that I’m not Roman Catholic for a reason.
Hope you are all having a good day,