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  #1  
Old Oct 27, '13, 1:34 pm
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Default Universal Ecclesiology v. Eucharistic Ecclesiology

Eucharistic Ecclesiology

This doctrine is the presupposition used by most modern Eastern apologists for interpreting the biblical material on Peter, and it has been espoused by prominent Eastern theologians in recent decades. Meyendorff says that in contemporary Eastern thinking about the Church "there is remarkable agreement" in focusing on Eucharistic ecclesiology. Indeed, he regards this doctrine as "the basis, the nucleus of Orthodox ecclesiology itself." [Catholicity and the Church, 134, 135.]

Nicolas Afanassief (1893-1966) is generally credited with being founder of this school of thought. He claims Eucharistic ecclesiology is not new but ancient. In setting forth this doctrine, he says, he is only recovering the Church's original way of understanding herself. At some point in the third century--Afanassief holds Cyprian of Carthage responsible--the Church went off on an ecclesiological sidetrack. According to him (though not in these terms), the Church traveled that sidetrack for over sixteen centuries, until he and his followers brought her back on the main line.

Eucharistic ecclesiology focuses on the local church, the local Eucharistic community, as the real Church. (As in Catholic terminology, for Eastern theologians, "the local church" is the diocese under the direction of its bishop.) Proponents of this doctrine take as their starting-point part of a sentence from a letter of Ignatius of Antioch to the church in Smyrna. Ignatius wrote, in a famous line, "Where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church." ["Letter to the Smyrnaeans" (James A. Kleist, S.J., translator, The Epistles of St. Clement of Rome and St. Ignatius of Antioch [Westminster, Maryland: Newman Press, 1949]), section 8.] These words, says Meyendorff, mean that "the Catholic Church is the fullness of the presence of Christ and the Holy Spirit in the Eucharist." [Catholicity and the Church, 134f.]

In other words, in the first three centuries each local church was regarded as "the Church of God in all its fullness." The fullness of being belongs to the local church, "and outside it nothing is, for nothing can have being outside Christ." The basic principle of Eucharistic ecclesiology, in other words, is that "the unity and fullness of the Church attach to the notion of a local church, and not to the fluid and indefinite notion of the Universal Church." [Nicolas Afanassief, "The Church Which Presides in Love" (Meyendorff et al., The Primacy of Peter), 74, 75, 76.]

Universal Ecclesiology

Eucharistic ecclesiology's advocates distinguish it from what they call "universal ecclesiology." The two are mutually exclusive, and Eastern apologists view universal ecclesiology as Catholic ecclesiology crowned by the Vatican dogma of 1870.

According to Catholic universal ecclesiology, the Church as organism is expressed adequately only in "the universal structure of the Church, its universal unity." The Church (in the full, true sense of the term) is the "sum of all local churches, which all together constitute the Body of Christ." Universal ecclesiology conceives of the Church in terms of the whole and its parts. Each local church is only a part of the Church; it is Church only because it is part of the whole. [Alexander Schmemann, "The Idea of Primacy in Orthodox Ecclesiology," in John Meyendorff, Alexander Schmemann, Nicolas Afanassief, Nicolas Koulomzine, The Primacy of Peter (London: Faith Press, 1963), 35f.]

Advocates of Eucharistic ecclesiology deny what they regard as a parts-and-whole mentality. The local church is not a part or member of a wider universal organism; it is simply "the Church." In the Eucharist we have the whole Christ, not a part of him. Therefore the Church which is "actualized in the Eucharist" cannot be simply a member or a part of the whole; it can only be "the Church of God in her wholeness." [Ibid., 38.]

If we believe in the indivisibility of Christ's Body, then we must believe that fullness of the Church is to be found in each of the local churches. [Afanassief, 75.] As Meyendorff expresses it, if the local church is only part of a universal Church, then Christ is only partially present in each local community. But the notion of a partial presence is "utterly alien" to the theology of Paul. [John Meyendorff, Orthodoxy and Catholicity (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1966), 4.] Consistently, these theologians argue that the word ekklesia (Greek for "church") in the New Testament always refers to the local church, not to something called universal Church.

+++


Do Orthodox Christians accept the principles of Eucharistic Ecclesiology? Do they reject Universal Ecclesiology? What do Catholics think of these two views? And what do you think?

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Old Oct 27, '13, 1:50 pm
mardukm mardukm is offline
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Default Re: Universal Ecclesiology v. Eucharistic Ecclesiology

The official ecclesiology of the Catholic Church, is Eucharistic ecclesiology. It is what I have often referred to as the High Petrine view. It not only recognizes the fullness of the local Church, but also the fullness of the universal Church.

I believe the understanding of the EO that you describe is Low Petrine. While it recognizes the fullness of the local Church, it unduly diminishes the importance and fullness of the universal Church.

I do agree with the EO authors that there exists in the Catholic Church a "universal ecclesiology" that unduly diminishes the importance and fullness of the local Church. This is the position that I have often termed the Absolutist Petrine view.

Blessings,
Marduk




Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Carson View Post
Eucharistic Ecclesiology

This doctrine is the presupposition used by most modern Eastern apologists for interpreting the biblical material on Peter, and it has been espoused by prominent Eastern theologians in recent decades. Meyendorff says that in contemporary Eastern thinking about the Church "there is remarkable agreement" in focusing on Eucharistic ecclesiology. Indeed, he regards this doctrine as "the basis, the nucleus of Orthodox ecclesiology itself." [Catholicity and the Church, 134, 135.]

Nicolas Afanassief (1893-1966) is generally credited with being founder of this school of thought. He claims Eucharistic ecclesiology is not new but ancient. In setting forth this doctrine, he says, he is only recovering the Church's original way of understanding herself. At some point in the third century--Afanassief holds Cyprian of Carthage responsible--the Church went off on an ecclesiological sidetrack. According to him (though not in these terms), the Church traveled that sidetrack for over sixteen centuries, until he and his followers brought her back on the main line.

Eucharistic ecclesiology focuses on the local church, the local Eucharistic community, as the real Church. (As in Catholic terminology, for Eastern theologians, "the local church" is the diocese under the direction of its bishop.) Proponents of this doctrine take as their starting-point part of a sentence from a letter of Ignatius of Antioch to the church in Smyrna. Ignatius wrote, in a famous line, "Where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church." ["Letter to the Smyrnaeans" (James A. Kleist, S.J., translator, The Epistles of St. Clement of Rome and St. Ignatius of Antioch [Westminster, Maryland: Newman Press, 1949]), section 8.] These words, says Meyendorff, mean that "the Catholic Church is the fullness of the presence of Christ and the Holy Spirit in the Eucharist." [Catholicity and the Church, 134f.]

In other words, in the first three centuries each local church was regarded as "the Church of God in all its fullness." The fullness of being belongs to the local church, "and outside it nothing is, for nothing can have being outside Christ." The basic principle of Eucharistic ecclesiology, in other words, is that "the unity and fullness of the Church attach to the notion of a local church, and not to the fluid and indefinite notion of the Universal Church." [Nicolas Afanassief, "The Church Which Presides in Love" (Meyendorff et al., The Primacy of Peter), 74, 75, 76.]

Universal Ecclesiology

Eucharistic ecclesiology's advocates distinguish it from what they call "universal ecclesiology." The two are mutually exclusive, and Eastern apologists view universal ecclesiology as Catholic ecclesiology crowned by the Vatican dogma of 1870.

According to Catholic universal ecclesiology, the Church as organism is expressed adequately only in "the universal structure of the Church, its universal unity." The Church (in the full, true sense of the term) is the "sum of all local churches, which all together constitute the Body of Christ." Universal ecclesiology conceives of the Church in terms of the whole and its parts. Each local church is only a part of the Church; it is Church only because it is part of the whole. [Alexander Schmemann, "The Idea of Primacy in Orthodox Ecclesiology," in John Meyendorff, Alexander Schmemann, Nicolas Afanassief, Nicolas Koulomzine, The Primacy of Peter (London: Faith Press, 1963), 35f.]

Advocates of Eucharistic ecclesiology deny what they regard as a parts-and-whole mentality. The local church is not a part or member of a wider universal organism; it is simply "the Church." In the Eucharist we have the whole Christ, not a part of him. Therefore the Church which is "actualized in the Eucharist" cannot be simply a member or a part of the whole; it can only be "the Church of God in her wholeness." [Ibid., 38.]

If we believe in the indivisibility of Christ's Body, then we must believe that fullness of the Church is to be found in each of the local churches. [Afanassief, 75.] As Meyendorff expresses it, if the local church is only part of a universal Church, then Christ is only partially present in each local community. But the notion of a partial presence is "utterly alien" to the theology of Paul. [John Meyendorff, Orthodoxy and Catholicity (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1966), 4.] Consistently, these theologians argue that the word ekklesia (Greek for "church") in the New Testament always refers to the local church, not to something called universal Church.

+++


Do Orthodox Christians accept the principles of Eucharistic Ecclesiology? Do they reject Universal Ecclesiology? What do Catholics think of these two views? And what do you think?

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  #3  
Old Oct 27, '13, 3:12 pm
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Default Re: Universal Ecclesiology v. Eucharistic Ecclesiology

Quote:
Originally Posted by mardukm View Post
The official ecclesiology of the Catholic Church, is Eucharistic ecclesiology. It is what I have often referred to as the High Petrine view. It not only recognizes the fullness of the local Church, but also the fullness of the universal Church.

I believe the understanding of the EO that you describe is Low Petrine. While it recognizes the fullness of the local Church, it unduly diminishes the importance and fullness of the universal Church.

I do agree with the EO authors that there exists in the Catholic Church a "universal ecclesiology" that unduly diminishes the importance and fullness of the local Church. This is the position that I have often termed the Absolutist Petrine view.

Blessings,
Marduk
I agree with brother Marduk. The Catholic Church's position is far more nuanced and full than some Eastern Orthodox give it credit for. For a Catholic, "eucharistic" and "universal" ecclesiology are not mutually exclusive. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Quote:
832 "The Church of Christ is really present in all legitimately organized local groups of the faithful, which, in so far as they are united to their pastors, are also quite appropriately called Churches in the New Testament. . . . In them the faithful are gathered together through the preaching of the Gospel of Christ, and the mystery of the Lord's Supper is celebrated. . . . In these communities, though they may often be small and poor, or existing in the diaspora, Christ is present, through whose power and influence the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is constituted."312

833 The phrase "particular Church," which is first of all the diocese (or eparchy), refers to a community of the Christian faithful in communion of faith and sacraments with their bishop ordained in apostolic succession.313 These particular Churches "are constituted after the model of the universal Church; it is in these and formed out of them that the one and unique Catholic Church exists."314
Note that the Church is careful to say that it is both in and out of the local Churches that the Catholic Church subsists. Yes, it is necessary for the local Church to be in communion with the Church in Rome and other orthodox Catholic Churches, but that does not exclude the fulness of the Catholic Church, that is, the mystical body of Christ, existing also within the local Church. The consecrated Host is Christ; likewise, each particle of the Host is Christ - yet Christ cannot be divided. It is a great mystery - the mystery of the continuation of the Incarnation in the Church and in the sacraments. Even the Eastern Orthodox acknowledge that while the fulness of the Catholic Church exists in the local Church, the local Church must be in communion with other local Orthodox Churches.
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Old Oct 27, '13, 4:34 pm
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Default Re: Universal Ecclesiology v. Eucharistic Ecclesiology

THE ECCLESIOLOGY OF VATICAN II
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
https://www.ewtn.com/library/curia/cdfeccv2.htm

[This is an excerpt.]

Vatican II was aware of the concerns of both Orthodox and Protestant theology and integrated them into a more ample Catholic understanding. In Orthodox theology the idea of Eucharistic ecclesiology was first expressed by exiled Russian theologians in opposition to the pretensions of Roman centralism. They affirmed that insofar as it possesses Christ entirely, every Eucharistic community is already, in se, the Church. Consequently, external unity with other communities is not a constitutive element of the Church.

Therefore, they concluded that unity with Rome is not a constitutive element of the Church. Such a unity would be a beautiful thing since it would represent the fullness of Christ to the external world, but it is not essential since nothing would be added to the totality of Christ. The Protestant understanding of the Church was moving in the same direction. Luther could no longer recognize the Spirit of Christ in the universal Church; he directly took that Church to be an instrument of the anti-Christ. Nor could he see the Protestant State Churches of the Reformation as Churches in the proper sense of the word. They were only social, political entities necessary for specific purposes and dependent on political powersónothing more. According to Luther the Church existed in the community. Only the assembly that listens to the Word of God in a specific place is the Church. He replaced the word "Church" with "community" (Gemeinde). Church became a negative concept.

If we go back now to the Council text certain nuances become evident. The text does not simply say, "The Church is entirely present in each community that celebrates the Eucharist", rather it states: "This Church of Christ is truly present in all legitimate local communities of the faithful which, united with their pastors, are themselves called Churches". Two elements here are of great importance: to be a Church the community must be "legitimate"; they are legitimate when they are "united with their pastors". What does this mean? In the first place, no one can make a Church by himself. A group cannot simply get together, read the New Testament and declare: "At present we are the Church because the Lord is present wherever two or three are gathered in His name". The element of "receiving" belongs essentially to the Church, just as faith comes from "hearing" and is not the result of one's decision or reflection. Faith is a converging with something I could neither imagine nor produce on my own; faith has to come to meet me. We call the structure of this encounter, a "Sacrament". It is part of the fundamental form of a sacrament that it be received and not self-administered. No one can baptize himself. No one can ordain himself. No one can forgive his own sins. Perfect repentance cannot remain something interioróof its essence it demands the form of encounter of the Sacrament. This too is a result of a sacrament's fundamental structure as an encounter [with Christ]. For this reason communion with oneself is not just an infraction of the external provisions of Canon Law, but it is an attack on the innermost nature of a sacrament. That a priest can administer this unique sacrament, and only this sacrament, to himself is part of the mysterium tremendum in which the Eucharist involves him. In the Eucharist, the priest acts "in persona Christi", in the person of Christ [the Head]; at the same time he represents Christ while remaining a sinner who lives completely by accepting Christ's Gift.

One cannot make the Church but only receive her; one receives her from where she already is, where she is really present: the sacramental community of Christ's Body moving through history. It will help us to understand this difficult concept if we add something: "legitimate communities". Christ is everywhere whole. This is the first important formulation of the Council in union with our Orthodox brothers. At the same time Christ is everywhere only one, so I can possess the one Lord only in the unity that He is, in the unity of all those who are also His Body and who through the Eucharist must evermore become it. Therefore, the reciprocal unity of all those communities who celebrate the Eucharist is not something external added to Eucharistic ecclesiology, but rather its internal condition: in unity here is the One. This is why the Council recalls the proper responsibility of communities, but excludes any self-sufficiency. The Council develops an ecclesiology in which being Catholic, namely being in communion with believers in all places and in all times, is not simply an external element of an organizational form, it represents grace coming from within and is at the same time a visible sign of the grace of the Lord who alone can create unity by breaching countless boundaries.
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  #5  
Old Oct 27, '13, 4:59 pm
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Default Re: Universal Ecclesiology v. Eucharistic Ecclesiology

Complexity as an Approach in the Issue of Primacy in the Church
Rev. Dr. Andrey Shishkov
International Journal of Orthodox Theology 3:3 (2012)
urn:nbn:de:0276-2012-3058
http://orthodox-theology.com/media/P...Complexity.pdf

[excerpted]

At present it is the Eucharistic ecclesiology in this or that
variety that has become the dominant ecclesiological model in
the Orthodox Church.
Since its inception it has been subjected
to serious criticism and has been considerably changed, but its
principal insight into the Church as constituted by the Eucharist
has remained intact.

This insight is based on the words of St. Paul: The bread that we
break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because
there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all
partake of the one bread (1 Cor. 10:16-17), That is, the people of
God who assemble for the Eucharist to partake of the Body of
Christ are united in one Body with Christ thus becoming the
one Body of Christ. And one Body of Christ, according to St.
Paul, is the Church (1 Cor. 12:27). 90

Archpriest Nikolay Afanasyev developed this idea in this way.
In the empirical reality, the Church is revealed in the Eucharistic
assembly. The fullness of the Church as the Body of Christ is
present in the Eucharistic assembly so far as it is present in the
Eucharist. Localized in space, the Eucharistic assembly of the
people of God led by its presiding person (proestos) represents
a local church. In this sense it is an empirical manifestation of
the Church in a specific place. Accordingly, a local church
represents the Church in its fullness.2
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Old Oct 27, '13, 9:22 pm
Alfonsus Alfonsus is offline
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Default Re: Universal Ecclesiology v. Eucharistic Ecclesiology

I think Orthodox's position regarding Eucharistic ecclesiology is nuanced.

For one thing, if the unity of the Orthodox Church is purely Eucharistic ecclesiology, then there is no justification for breaking communion, there is no justification for jurisdiction feud.

From pure Eucharistic ecclesiology, a bishop professing Orthodox faith may go anywhere, build a church, and can't be 'graceless' and always in communion with other Orthodox churches. In that Church, the fullness of Orthodox Church exists.

But in Orthodoxy, a diocese (or even multiple of dioceses, a national Church) can be declared schismatic by one, excommunicated by one, called graceless by one, but in communion by other (Estonia, Ukraine perhaps?). The problem become jurisdictional, as if if you are not linked to something that grant you jurisdiction, somehow you are out of Orthodoxy.
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Old Oct 28, '13, 2:33 am
malphono malphono is offline
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Default Re: Universal Ecclesiology v. Eucharistic Ecclesiology

Quote:
Originally Posted by mardukm View Post
The official ecclesiology of the Catholic Church, is Eucharistic ecclesiology. It is what I have often referred to as the High Petrine view. It not only recognizes the fullness of the local Church, but also the fullness of the universal Church.

I believe the understanding of the EO that you describe is Low Petrine. While it recognizes the fullness of the local Church, it unduly diminishes the importance and fullness of the universal Church.

I do agree with the EO authors that there exists in the Catholic Church a "universal ecclesiology" that unduly diminishes the importance and fullness of the local Church. This is the position that I have often termed the Absolutist Petrine view.
What you say about the "official ecclesioligy" of Rome is true enough in theory but, as I've said so very many times in previous threads, it belies the "situation on the ground" and that, of course, is where the continuing problem resides. I realize I sound like a broken record (remember vinyl LPs?) but there have been, over the years, far too many instances where Rome has acted in a way more consistent with the "Absolute Petrine view" than anything else. IOW, may may exist in theory and what clearly exists in practice are not the same thing.

Now, before someone goes there, let me say that there is a technical difference between the "primacy" and "infallibility" issues, but the truth is that the two have become so intertwined as to have become inseparable. The culmination of the whole mess were the infamous Vatican I declarations. As I see it, nothing can change, nor will it change, until such time as Rome formally and officially (and in the end, dogmatically) redefines same, and, equally important, amends its deportment accordingly. Perhaps Bishop Gasser and his famous Relatio could be used by Rome as a starting point in such an endeavor.

The declarations in questions have little to do with the Latin Church, considering that it's adoption of a hierarchical model of eccesiology is of very long standing. But those same declarations bear heavily on those Oriental & Eastern Churches in union with Rome, and even more so on those not in union with Rome.

As I see it, it's only the Oriental Churches who have maintained some continuity with the First Millennium, where, in fact, the "High Petrine view" was the reality. Whereas the ever-growing "Absolute Petrine view" is a Roman invention of the Second (and continues now into the Third) Millennium, the "Low Petrine view" is equally so, and the EO has to tone-down its own rhetoric in its attempt to impose the equally unacceptable "Low Petrine view" on the rest of the world.

Just my which, as usual, aren't worth half that.
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Old Oct 28, '13, 6:22 am
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Default Re: Universal Ecclesiology v. Eucharistic Ecclesiology

The following was posted at byzcath.org in 2010:
Permit me to give a background of my thoughts on the matter. From my studies, Iíve identified three distinct positions in the Church Catholic:

Absolutist Petrine view: There is only one head bishop - the bishop of Rome. All other bishops of whatever grade are merely an extension of papal authority. Even the Ecumenical Council is merely an extension of papal authority. If there is a disagreement between the head bishop (i.e., the Pope) and his brother bishops, the head bishop's will dominates to the exclusion of any other viewpoint. Anyone not agreeing is excommunicated. The head has an overarching importance over the body.

High Petrine view: The constitution of the Church, on its several hierarchical levels, is modeled after the Apostles, who had St. Peter as their head. The head bishop has the same role as St. Peter had among the Apostles. The head bishop has true and proper plenary jurisdiction in his entire patriarchate (or, for the Pope, the entire Church), and has a unique authority among his brother bishops. He is bound by the principle of the unity of the Church, and the divine rights of his brother bishops, to always work with his brother bishops in all matters affecting the Church as a whole. He is also bound by those same principles to not interfere in the proper and ordinary jurisdiction of his brother bishops. If there is a disagreement between his brother bishops and himself, there must be constant exchange until agreement is reached, not that he can impose his singular will on all. The head and the body are equally indispensable.

Low Petrine view: Every bishop is a successor of St. Peter. There is often a denial that St. Peter was the head of the Apostles. A head bishop has only a primacy of honor, and no primacy of jurisdiction, and possesses a merely local jurisdiction of his own See/diocese. He has no authority different from any of his brother bishops. At best, he is a spokesman for or representative of his brother bishops. If there is a disagreement between his brother bishops and himself, he must always concede to the will of the majority. Those who hold this view sometimes deny that there is even such a thing as a head bishop.

From my studies and experience, Iíve observed the following:

The Absolutist Petrine view is primarily held by most Latins, and a few Oriental Catholics. It is currently an acceptable interpretation of the papal prerogatives in the Catholic Church (unfortunately). This position was a local development in the Latin Church during the high Middle Ages when the Catholic Church was effectively only Latin. It will perhaps take another Ecumenical Council or an ex cathedra decree from the Pope to divest the Catholic Church of that belief. Certain ultra-traditionalist Catholics will likely schism when this happens (God forbid). Many mistake this to be the official position of the Catholic Church.

The High Petrine view is held by many Latins, most Oriental Catholics, most Eastern Catholics, and with the exception of the position of head bishop for the Church universal, by the Oriental Orthodox Churches, PNCC, Assyrian Churches, and many Eastern Orthodox. The High Petrine view was the one proposed by V1 and reinforced by V2. One really has to read the behind-the-scenes goings on at the Council, the actual debates that went on at the Council (not the propaganda outside the Council, or the false exaggerations of men like Dollinger, Kung and others who were not even at the Council) to understand the truly collegial intent of V1. I suspect this is the view held by the Melkite hierarchy, and its concerns are really directed against the Absolutist Petrine view that most Latins wrongly perceive to have been the position of V1. This is the patristic model, as reflected in the practice and canons of the undivided Church of the first millenium.

The Low Petrine view is held primarily by a majority of Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans and a few Eastern Catholics. This position was a local development of the Eastern Orthodox Church after the schism. I suspect it gained prominence after Florence, when many considered several of their head bishops to have fallen into heresy. Apologists for this position often second opponents of the Absolutist Petrine view from the High Petrine camp for support against the papacy, but there are fundamental theological and canonical differences between the two positions.

Though most Latins have an Absolutist Petrine view, I really believe they hold this position because they are innocently unaware (i.e., invincibly ignorant) of the Eastern and Oriental Churches. Even those who are aware of our existence often regard our distinctiveness as merely ritual, with no knowledge of our unique spiritualities and theologies. I have debated against the Absolutist Petrine view with many Latins at CAF, and Iíve met only one or two who did not change their mind on the matter after being given the evidence from Vatican 1 and Vatican 2 Ė but they were ultra-traditionalists who donít have a good thing to say about Vatican 2 anyway.

Blessings,
Marduk
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