"The Primacy of Peter" by Meyendorff, et al
#1
This was definitely an interesting read.  I wrote about nine pages of thoughts/reactions as I read and have tried really hard to condense the general themes here…. 

While the individual essays are often contradictory to one another in their conclusions, if you arrange the evidence they all provided in a coherent, non-contradictory way, it ultimately supported the Catholic position IMO.  I think the arguments are also often the case of a distinction without a difference.  As Schmemann points out, the EO opposition to the primacy is based on “instinct” rather than having an opposing formulation unlike for every other heresy the pre-schism Church dealt with. When some of these authors set up to propose the positive doctrine, they seemed to describe the Catholic one.  Too often I felt a particular author would either describe Catholic doctrine or lay out data that seemed to logically point there, only to baldly conclude with something like “but this does not mean/is not the same as primacy or jurisdiction.”

Take the analysis of universal and Eucharistic ecclesiology and the resulting respective requirement for primacy or priority.  Afanassieff and Schmemann both note that a universal ecclesiology necessitates the Catholic conception of primacy, but they consider universal ecclesiology as a corruption that has lasted centuries even in the EO—Schmemann notes how it has corrupted the EO churches, but at the national level rather than the universal (it’s all about autocephaly—the organization of the proposed synod really bears this out—it’s a council of representatives of autocephalies, not of bishops as bishops).  Afanassieff generally says it began with Cyprian, although at one point he says it is in the Didache.  To me the very fact that the concept of “Catholic Church” existed in the first centuries shows to me that it was an and/both situation (as it is in the Catholic Church today).

But even if we look at it with an exclusively Eucharistic ecclesiology, the result is the same.  Afanassieff shows how even with such an understanding there must be a church with priority, that even a conciliar system necessitates it to function (when I first read this it looked like the upcoming synod would prove him wrong, but now….).  He tries to distinguish between priority—which is about witness and reception--and primacy—which is about power and jurisdiction.  But the result is the same because he says the church of priority’s witness and reception is indispensable.  He gives the incident with St. Clement as an example.  The ejection of the presbyters was annulled because the church in priority—Rome—witnessed that it was amiss and did not receive the decision.  He says the same about other incidents, like between Sts. Cyprian and Stephen, where he says Cyprian was wrong to oppose a synod to the church in priority’s witness and reception (Kesich even notes that St. Cyprian’s view was much more geared toward primacy until he didn’t get his way).  I don’t see how we’re not talking about the same thing, but with different language (toward the end, Afanassieff even says primacy is just priority described by a lawyer)—and in any event, in the controversy about the primacy, the church in priority, Rome, witnessed to it and received the churches that did the same (the same goes for the Filioque)!

In fact, Afanassieff opposes a theologian who uniquely asserted that the famous passage from St. Ireneaus refers to the universal Church rather than a particular church (Rome) because that would defeat the point: the gnostic heretics could just say their church was the universal church and they were agreeing with it. In fact, this is what EOs do today and which is my biggest problem with them: if the Church splits, both sides can just claim to be agreeing with the universal Church (ie their respective side), it’s meaningless, whereas agreeing with the church in priority, Rome, (and therefore the side Rome was on) would have meaning.

Schmemann says pretty much the same as Afanassieff, but goes back and forth between the same false dichotomy (between ministry and power) and saying that the primacy is both.  When he says the primacy is power, he says it is not a higher power, but rather the same power expressed, manifested, and realized by one; the power is the power of each bishop and all bishops.  This is the Catholic doctrine, which says the Pope’s “power” is episcopal and the very same as the whole episcopate together.


As another example, they all seem to agree that Peter had some kind of primacy (or priority) among the Apostles, at least in Jerusalem, that while he was there, Jerusalem was the primatial church, and Jerusalem ceased to have any primacy once he left. Koulumzine and Kesich pretty much just deny any primacy/priority in the Church after that, a position the others show to be untenable. The rest agree that Rome had some sort of priority and primacy at some point thereafter.  Meyendorff says a primacy with “jurisdictional consequences” was in place by at least the Paul of Samosata episode. Afanassieff showed pretty definitively that there was a priority in the first century—not long after Jerusalem was destroyed. 

So we have Peter with a primacy in Jerusalem and Jerusalem being the primatial Church until Peter leaves, immediately after that we see Rome with a primacy, and we have a long tradition in the Church of associating Rome as the See of Peter (Meyendorff even notes that apostolic consecration lineage is not even a point of consideration for most local churches—the exceptions of course were the Petrine sees, Rome in particular, but also Alexandria, and Antioch to an extent---until Constantinople’s later “immature” arguments asserting their own apostolicity based on St. Andrew to claim primacy).  It seems the only answer is that the primacy transferred from Jerusalem to Rome was due to Peter’s activity and special role—they could come up with no other theory other than “it just happened.”

Koulumzine and Kesich are focused on denying Peter any special role after Jerusalem.  They admit that the “proof-texts” apply to Peters’ special role for the whole Church, but Koulumzine says Our Lord was actually implying it was just for the Pentecostal time in Jerusalem (once Peter left, he lost the primacy as well as the church in Jerusalem) since the Biblical data is mostly silent after that. Kesich, relying on one interpretation from Origen (the other we’re told to not give as much weight), says that they either apply to all Christians (from which both Origen and he strangely and contrary to both RC and EO doctrine conclude that all Christians individually can excommunicate and forgive sins and that no Christian can ever be prevailed against by sin or heresy) or just to each bishop in his local Church (ie every bishop is Peter to his church).  There is some merit to this latter argument as part of an exclusively Eucharistic ecclesiology, but it is incomplete and actually supports the Catholic position more when completed.  Since, as Afanassieff showed based on St. Ignatius, Rome was viewed as presiding in the universal Church the same way a bishop presides in his particular Church, if the bishop is Peter in his church, Rome is Peter for the universal Church.

Meyendorff was an interesting look at the post-schism polemics and ultimately how weak they were.  There’s a reason this book passes over about 800 years of history (basically between canon 28 of Chalcedon--relied on heavily in this book despite being not received or witnessed to by St. Leo and Rome, with embarrassed apologies from the patriarch at the time for it being in there in the first place-- and the 11th and 12th centuries.)  It’s the only way Meyendorff can try and claim the Byzantines never heard of Roman claims of primacy, despite other authors showing claims even prior to St. Leo and Chalcedon.  He rightly notes that early polemics focused only the Filioque before devolving into the primacy issue, with polemics ranging from Constantinople claiming primacy based on St. Andrew or on its imperial standing (then why did it not happen when the capital was moved in the first place and why does the EO still give a special place to Istanbul/Constantinople?) to Roman primacy being given by emperors and councils (then why does it predate the Christian empire and the councils as shown by the other authors?).  Then there are others that say the primacy is what Rome says it is, but by embracing the Filioque it lost the primacy.  But again, taking into account the role of the church of priority, the importance of its witness and reception would say that in such a dispute we should side with the witness of that church.

I know that fb sees benefits of having isolated churches not dependent or beholden to other churches—but even from this book alone, it doesn’t seem like that was Our Lord’s intention for His one Church.  Independent national churches, or even independent particular churches (and especially independent individuals), do not even appear acceptable from an exclusively Eucharistic ecclesiology (not to mention universal ecclesiology, which even Kesich says can't really be outright denied).
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#2
I've been checking this section for days waiting for this thread!  And your post did not disappoint!

I want to spend more time with your post on this.  But the first question that occurs to me is this: You mentioned several times siding with Rome. What do you make of that in these times when we see so much that is problematic coming from the pope himself? It is easy to say that we should side with Rome when we have certain popes, but difficult to say this at other times (like right now, in my opinion).  I am in the midst of reading True or False Pope, so I can conceive of many technical arguments that sift the errors of a particular pope from the orthodoxy of the office, but I wonder what you think about it in light of what you've written.

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#3
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#4
I'm happy to see your summary SaintSebastian.  I'll have to mull it over a bit and skim my own copy of that book as I ponder what you've written.

Ermy_law alla a good question about popes I think.

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#5
Glad I didn't disappoint  :tiphat: :LOL:

I'll try to make a thoughtful response as soon as I can...life's been a bit hectic recently  :colt:
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#6
(06-14-2016, 01:11 PM)ermy_law Wrote: I've been checking this section for days waiting for this thread!  And your post did not disappoint!

I want to spend more time with your post on this.  But the first question that occurs to me is this: You mentioned several times siding with Rome. What do you make of that in these times when we see so much that is problematic coming from the pope himself? It is easy to say that we should side with Rome when we have certain popes, but difficult to say this at other times (like right now, in my opinion).  I am in the midst of reading True or False Pope, so I can conceive of many technical arguments that sift the errors of a particular pope from the orthodoxy of the office, but I wonder what you think about it in light of what you've written.

Sorry it's been a while.  I think there have definitely been messy times when individual Popes themselves have waffled and done ambiguous or even outright wrong things.  But when the lines are definitively drawn, the Church is always the one where the Church of Rome is found--its ultimate reception and witness is indispenable as this book showed.  I think we do need to distinguish between the particular church and its bishop, even though both are obviously intimately related.  The more ancient testimony of the Church is much more explicit about the Church of Rome's infallibility, while even post-schism the possibility of an individual bishop of Rome defecting has been uncontroversial (how to handle such a possibility is what is generally debated).  That's why the infallibility of the bishop of Rome, while a personal charism, is tied strictly to his relationship with the Church .  That's what the limitations described by the First Vatican Council are getting at.  It's also why it doesn't stay with him if he resigns that particular See. 

This is why St. Agatho could write the following in the context of opposing a heresy his predecessor (Honorius I) played a role in spreading:

St. Agatho Wrote:...because the true confession thereof for which Peter was pronounced blessed by the Lord of all things, was revealed by the Father of heaven, for he received from the Redeemer of all himself, by three commendations, the duty of feeding the spiritual sheep of the Church; under whose protecting shield, this Apostolic Church of his has never turned away from the path of truth in any direction of error, whose authority, as that of the Prince of all the Apostles, the whole Catholic Church, and the Ecumenical Synods have faithfully embraced, and followed in all things; and all the venerable Fathers have embraced its Apostolic doctrine, through which they as the most approved luminaries of the Church of Christ have shone; and the holy orthodox doctors have venerated and followed it, while the heretics have pursued it with false criminations and with derogatory hatred.
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3813.htm

Pope Francis' issues really are analogous to Pope Honorius in a lot of ways or how Sts. Zephyrinius and Callistus I behaved (saints because they were martyred)--using ambiguous language to try and please both the erring and the orthodox or pushing the bounds of truth while not formally breaking it in the name of mercy.  But like in those cases, as other clergy of Rome have noted, nothing has actually changed--it certainly hasn't been pushed to the point where communion is formally broken.  Pope Francis always throws such things out there for consideration or discussion, not to say "this is the rule of faith all the churches must embrace." 

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