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  #1  
Old Sep 18, '11, 2:49 am
mardukm mardukm is offline
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Default High Petrine view in the early Church

I received a request by PM to discuss the ecclesiology of the early Church in light of the High Petrine view, and also permission from the OP to present his query and my response in the public forum.

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Dear Marduk,

I have been a member at here CAF for a little while now and have recently discovered Eastern theology/spirituality through the Eastern Catholic forums. I was born and raised Catholic and have decent education so far in Catholic theology, but only recently have I ever heard Eastern Orthodox views of history. I have been taken back at times by the way it seems that some apologetics for Catholicism are dismissive, misunderstanding, or, perhaps in some cases, legitimately deceiving - especially when quoting Church Fathers.

I have been doing my best to sift through all the information, but this is where my question to you comes into sight. As long as I have been reading or posting on here I have read your posts and been genuinely impressed by their intelligence, honesty, and, to my mind, true understanding of the issues at hand. It has also struck me that I've never read anything where you seemed to attack a side of the argument. In other words, I have a lot of respect for your understanding of Christ's Church. So, having said that, could I ask you to impart some knowledge to me? What are the reasons historically that you see that it seems as though the early church of the fathers believed in a high petrine doctrine? It just seems like all I've heard so far are two sides slinging (some of the same) quotes at each other with very little respect in their arguments for the argument of the other side.

This is obviously disturbing, since both sides are in apostolic succession as bishops of Christ's Church and has caused me quite a bit of grief. I do understand if you do not have the time to help me with this, as I know that life can be hectic. Thank you for your time and may God continually bless you forever.

In Christ,
Dear brother,

Thank you for your question. I commend your search for the Truth for the sake of unity. I have noticed the same things about the matter of ecclesiology between many Catholics and many Orthodox. They are talking past each other because there is really no common ground between the Absolutist and Low Petrine views. Absolutist Petrine advocates seem blind to the factors that mitigate or refute their position offered by Low Petrine advocates, and vice-versa. The only common ground that can be found is with the High Petrine view. It is the middle ground that shares some characteristics with both the Absolutist and Low Petrine views, with the added benefit of being the only patristically viable option anyway. Many Catholics and Orthodox (mostly Oriental Orthodox, but also many Eastern Orthodox) share common ground with the High Petrine view. To such as these, it is not the ecclesiology that is at issue, but matters of doctrine, which have a great chance of being resolved. So, the main difference between Catholics and Orthodox who hold the High Petrine view is the Orthodox perception that the Catholic Pope (and Catholicism per se) is not orthodox. If they understood him to be orthodox (which, as stated, has a very good chance of occurring within this century, I really believe), there is no foreseeable objection to accepting the bishop of Rome as being the protos, the head bishop of the Orthodox Catholic Church.

Keep in mind that the Absolutist Petrine view tries to assign to the papacy an absolute, unilateral juridical power in all things, while the Low Petrine view tries to deprive the papacy (and head bishops in general) of any juridical authority except in his own local diocese (the “primacy of mere honor” position), and, according to some proponents, denies even the office of head bishop. Compared to Apostolic Canon 34, which is the classic definition of collegiality (let nothing be done of great import without the consent of him who is head, and let the head not do anything likewise without the consent of the rest, for then there will be unanimity and God will be glorified), the Absolutist Petrine view places undue emphasis on the first part (“let nothing be done without the consent of the head”), while the Low Petrine view places undue emphasis on the second part (“let the head not do anything without the consent of the rest”). In their ignorance of what Catholicism actually teaches, both Absolutist and Low Petrine advocates do not realize that the Official Relatio of Vatican 1 called Apostolic Canon 34 the RULE OF FAITH “even for definitions by the Roman Pontiff.

As far as your specific question, both the Absolutist Petrine advocates in the CC, and the Low Petrine advocates in the EOC are just as guilty of prooftexting the Church Fathers, and taking matters out of context. Let’s analyze 4 of the most common examples in contention: (1) Pope St. Clement’s first letter to the Corinthians; (2) the Easter controversy involving Pope St. Victor; (3) the rebaptism controversy involving Pope St. Stephen; (4) the 5th Ecumenical Council and Pope Vigilius.

POPE ST. CLEMENT
Absolutist Petrine position – The episode demonstrates the absolute, universal jurisdiction of the Pope, since he made an authoritative judgment for another particular Church. It may or may not connote universal jurisdiction, but Absolutist Petrine advocates often don’t account for the fact that (1) this was an exercise of appellate authority, and (2) the letter was in the name of the Church of Rome, not the bishop of Rome himself, so the letter demonstrates neither absolute nor unilateral authority by the bishop of Rome.

CONTINUED
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Old Sep 18, '11, 2:53 am
mardukm mardukm is offline
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Default Re: High Petrine view in the early Church

CONTINUED

Low Petrine position – Low Petrine advocates don’t have a leg to stand on as far as Pope Clement’s Epistle to the Corinthians is concerned. The example utterly refutes their error that a head bishop has no juridical authority in dioceses outside his own local diocese. The best they can do is mitigate the matter by claiming that the Church of Corinth was within the proper ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Rome because it was within the political jurisdiction of the civil power (in other words, his juridical authority did not extend universally, but only as far as the jurisdiction of the Roman civil power extended). There are several errors in that thinking. First of all, the marriage of Church and State did not occur until the time of Constantine. To think that ecclesiastical jurisdiction was tied to or bounded by civil jurisdiction at the time of this letter is a gross anachronism (and they pretend Catholics are the ones who try to read things back into history! Oh, the hypocrisy!). Secondly, even if Corinth was within the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Rome, it was nevertheless outside the boundaries of the local Roman Church. Whatever else may be said of the extent of the Roman bishop’s juridical authority, it is certain that from the beginning, it was recognized to extend beyond his local diocese, and beyond the suburbican centers of Rome (contrary to non-Catholic interpreters of the Nicene Canons).

The High Petrine position – A head bishop’s intervention into and juridical authority in the affairs of a local Church is normatively exercised only by appeal, as the situation of this Letter proves. Though it is merely appellate juridical authority (in opposition to the Absolutist Petrine view), it is juridical authority nonetheless (in opposition to the Low Petrine view). Unlike the Absolutist Petrine view, the High Petrine position would focus more on the fact that another “particular Church” appealed to the bishop of Rome, rather than the fact of his intervention. Further, that the letter was sent in the name of the Church of Rome, instead of the bishop himself, demonstrates the collegial nature of formal acts of the bishop of Rome in the early Church.

POPE ST. VICTOR
Absolutist Petrine position – Pope Victor excommunicated the Churches of Asia on a disciplinary matter, which demonstrated his absolute, unilateral, and universal authority over the Church.

Low Petrine position – Pope Victor did not have absolute, unilateral, universal authority because he was corrected by his fellow bishops.

The High Petrine position – The episode demonstrated the universal authority of the bishop of Rome. Indeed, according to the ancient Apostolic Canon 34, on matters of great import (and a matter involving the entire Church certainly fits the bill), the head is always intimately involved. Low Petrine advocates don’t realize that it was Pope St. Victor who called all the Churches to universal action by directing them to hold local synods on the issue of the date of Easter in the first place. But this universal authority was not absolute, and rather mitigated by collegiality. Indeed, the Pope was corrected, and accepted correction, for trying to excommunicate the Asian Churches. Another thing that Absolutist Petrine advocates don’t seem to realize is that the determination of the date of Easter was not a unilateral decision of the Pope, but was already the Tradition of many Churches aside from Rome (e.g., Alexandria, Caesarea, Palestine, etc.). Further, neither was the decision of the Pope to excommunicate a purely unilateral decision. A letter of the Churches (who held to the same date of Easter as Rome) to Pope Victor (recorded by Eusebius) contained some strong derisive words against those who held to a different date of Easter. I believe Pope Victor would not have felt he could excommunicate the Asian Churches unless he had some indication that he might be supported by his fellow bishops. Though debate was open on the matter, breaking communion was not considered an option by the Churches, and the bishop of Rome was duly corrected.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Even High Petrine advocates will sometimes say that the bishop of Rome as head bishop of the Church universal does not have “universal jurisdiction.” But this must be taken in a different sense from when a Low Petrine advocate states the same thing. The Low Petrine view asserts that any bishop, no matter what rank, ONLY has proper jurisdiction in (1) his own local diocese. The Absolutist Petrine view asserts that the Pope has proper jurisdiction in (1) his own local diocese, (2) in every other local diocese, (3) in what pertains to the Church universal. In distinction from these, the High Petrine view asserts that the Pope has proper jurisdiction in (1) his own local diocese, and (2) in what pertains to the Church universal (according to the principle of Apostolic Canon 34). So the High Petrine view would agree with the Low Petrine view that the Pope does not have universal jurisdiction ONLY in the sense that he does not have proper jurisdiction in every local diocese. But the High Petrine view (unlike the Low Petrine view) recognizes that a head bishop has proper jurisdiction in what pertains to his entire ordinary jurisdiction (i.e., a Metropolitan has proper jurisdiction in what pertains to the entire metropolitan Church, not just his own local diocese; a Patriarch has proper jurisdiction in what pertains to the entire patriarchal Church, not just his own local diocese; the Pope of Rome has proper jurisdiction in what pertains to the universal Church, not just his own local diocese).

CONTINUED
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  #3  
Old Sep 18, '11, 2:55 am
mardukm mardukm is offline
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CONTINUED

In distinction from proper, ordinary jurisdiction, there is also appellate jurisdiction. While a head bishop has proper jurisdiction only in his own local diocese and in what pertains to his entire ordinary jurisdiction, a head bishop also has appellate jurisdiction in every local diocese within his ordinary jurisdiction.

It should be further noted that the Canons of the Catholic Church reflect the High Petrine view. Both Absolutist Petrine advocates (in pretended support of the papacy) and Low Petrine advocates (in opposition to the papacy) misunderstand the ecclesiological Canons because they are often ignorant of the proper definitions of, and fail to make the distinctions between, the canonical terms “proper,” “immediate,” and “ordinary.”


POPE ST. STEPHEN
Absolutist Petrine position – Though St. Cyprian disagreed with Pope St. Stephen, the decisions of future Ecum. Councils sided with the position of Pope St. Stephen, so it matters not that St. Cyprian disagreed with the Pope, because St. Cyprian was simply wrong. Thus, the Ecum Councils implicitly recognized that Pope St. Stephen had absolute, unilateral and universal authority on the matter. In fact, in a letter regarding the Donatists, St. Cyprian went so far as to admit that the Church in Rome as a general principal could not err.

Low Petrine position – Sts. Cyprian and Firmilian, and the Churches who agreed with them, opposed the decision of the bishop of Rome. This demonstrates that the early Church did not believe the Pope had absolute, unilateral, universal authority. As far as St. Cyprian’s statement that the Church in Rome could not err, this must be taken in the context of the fact that St. Cyprian was a member of the Latin Church, and the bishop of Rome was the highest authority in the Latin Church.

The High Petrine position – In a letter regarding the Donatists, St. Cyprian had explicitly admitted that the Church in Rome could not err. But Absolutist Petrine advocates misinterpret this to mean that the Pope has absolute, unilateral jurisdiction in ALL things. On the contrary, St. Cyprian was NOT referring to local matters nor disciplinary issues, but simply to doctrinal issues. Though the matter of the baptism of heretics/schismatics had a doctrinal element, and he should have aligned himself with the teaching of Pope St. Stephen, St. Cyprian did not treat it as such. St. Cyprian insisted that the matter of accepting the baptism of heretics/schismatics was a matter of local praxis left to the decision of local bishops. Regardless of whether St. Cyprian was doctrinally in error (and he was), the episode demonstrates that in what pertains to local Churches, the early Church did not believe that the bishop of Rome had absolute, unilateral authority.

The Low Petrine opinion that St. Cyprian’s statement was only in the context of the Latin Church is also incorrect, and another of the Low Petrine camp’s hypocritical anachronisms. However much Eastern and Western thought on several theological matters may have developed and eventually diverged, such distinction was not at all apparent in the days of St. Cyprian and Pope St. Stephen. There was no theology that could specifically be called “Eastern” or “Western” or “Oriental” or whatever during these early days when the Church was not yet in the business of defining and dogmatizing. And neither was there a jurisdictional separation between East and West during these early days.

So just as the Absolutist Petrine view is in error in assigning to the papacy an absolute, unilateral, universal authority in ALL things just because future decisions by Ecum Councils supported Pope St. Stephen’s position, the Low Petrine view is as much in error for assuming that the bishop of Rome had no authority at all outside the boundaries of his local diocese just because of the disagreement of other prominent members of the Church on this matter. Though the bishop of Rome as head bishop of the universal Church does not have absolute and unilateral authority in the Church, especially in matters pertaining only to local Churches, he does have universal authority in matters of doctrine – which is nothing more nor less than what is enshrined in Apostolic Canon 34.

CONTINUED
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Old Sep 18, '11, 2:56 am
mardukm mardukm is offline
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CONTINUED

POPE VIGILIUS
Absolutist Petrine position – The episode demonstrates that the early Church regarded the confirmation of the bishop of Rome as head bishop of the universal Church to be an absolute necessity before a Council could be regarded as “Ecumenical.” This seems acceptable on the surface, but debates with Absolutist Petrine advocates reveal that what they mean is that the Pope is the ONLY authority that matters for a Council to be regarded as Ecumenical.

Low Petrine position – The episode demonstrates that the Pope does not have absolute, unilateral authority in the Church because he was corrected by his fellow bishops. Further, the Fathers did not require his confirmation as head of the Church, but merely as one of the Patriarchs. Low Petrine advocates also will claim that the 5th Ecum anathematized Pope Vigilius (but that is an indefensible opinion).

The High Petrine position – The episode demonstrates that the confirmation (or consent) of the bishop of Rome as head bishop of the universal Church is just as necessary as the consent of the whole body of the rest of the bishops for a Council to be regarded as “Ecumenical.” The Pope does not have absolute, unilateral authority in the Church, but he does have a unique authority that other bishops do not possess by virtue of his headship. In an Ecum Council, the head bishop acts as the head, not simply another bishop or Patriarch, according to the principle of AC 34 (in fact, the Council Fathers referred to Pope Vigilius as “father and head). The Absolutist and Low Petrine positions cannot be defended from the example of the 5th Ecum. The Absolutist Petrine view claims the Pope is the final word in an Ecum Council, but that was not the case with the 5th Ecum, as the Pope himself was corrected. The Low Petrine view often claims that only the majority decision counts, but neither was that the case with the 5th Ecum. If the Low Petrine view is correct, the Pope would have been set free, his confirmation not required, after the Council gave its Final Sentence. But his imprisonment lasted many months after the Council’s Final Sentence, meaning that they still required his confirmation. Further, if his office was merely equal to that of any other singular bishop or even any other singular Patriarch, he would have simply been deposed, as other Patriarchs had been in the past (e.g., Nestorius and Pope St. Dioscorus) when disagreeing with the rest of the Council. NOTE: if, according to some Low Petrine advocates, Pope Vigilius was anathematized, he would and should have been deposed, as was the consistent praxis of prior Ecum Councils. There are only two possible reasons that Pope Vigilius was not deposed, both of which demolish the Low Petrine opinions: either, (1) the position of the bishop of Rome was unique, and was not merely another Patriarch, or (2) the bishop of Rome was never anathematized.

Only the High Petrine view can account for the circumstances of the 5th Ecum. Unlike the Absolutist Petrine view, the High Petrine view has no problem admitting that a Pope can err (even doctrinally) within an Ecum Council (as the infallibility of an Ecum Council is a collegial infallibility – i.e., it is only as head and body TOGETHER, neither singly nor apart, that the infallibility of an Ecum Council is secured), as evinced by the example of the 5th Ecum. Unlike the Low Petrine view, the High Petrine view has no problem admitting the necessary consent of the head bishop in order for a Council to be regarded as Ecumenical – again, as evinced by the example of the 5th Ecum.

The examples can be multiplied. Context. Context. Context. This is the bane of both the Absolutist Petrine advocates and their over-reactionary brethren on the opposite end of the ecclesiological spectrum (the Low Petrine advocates). I hope this brief exposition has helped you. If you wish to discuss any other particular examples from the first millennium Church, I will be glad to show how the entire context of the situation demonstrates neither the Absolutist nor Low Petrine errors, but rather the High Petrine reality of the early Church.

Blessings,
Marduk
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  #5  
Old Sep 18, '11, 12:52 pm
ThatOneGuy92 ThatOneGuy92 is offline
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Default Re: High Petrine view in the early Church

Thank you for this succinct explanation. In my opinion, this seems to summarize all your other arguments for the reality of the High Petrine position quite nicely

I do have a question though: how does the High Petrine position relate to the issue of the Pope declaring dogma ex cathedra? If you've already discussed this elsewhere, please link me to the thread and point me to the page number.

Again, thank you for your wonderful explanations
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Old Sep 18, '11, 4:00 pm
jmj1984 jmj1984 is offline
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Marduk, I'm going to be frank I see you referencing this official relatio time and time again and yet the document appears to be entirely absolute from Henry Denzingers 'The sources of Catholic Dogma' as you well know it is the official publication in print since 1854 that summarises all the sources of Catholic dogma. It is in fact the essential point of reference for any dogmatic or doctrinal discussions regarding The Catholic Church. The fact that the official relatio appears to be completely absent from it is therefore a little concerning considering the importance you ascribe to it.

Apologies if this de-rails the thread but I thought it would be worth pointing it out.
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Old Sep 18, '11, 4:55 pm
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So the High Petrine view is the official view of the Catholic Church? This is fascinating

Also, as you affirmed to me in another thread; the Pope in the first millenium had universal teaching authority but not universal canonical authority? You my brother have knowledge

It's funny how the middle ground is the right answer.
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Old Sep 18, '11, 5:00 pm
jmj1984 jmj1984 is offline
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absent* not absolute
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Old Sep 18, '11, 5:08 pm
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O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

just marking a spot, until I have more time.

God Bless

peace
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Old Sep 18, '11, 6:59 pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmj1984 View Post
Marduk, I'm going to be frank I see you referencing this official relatio time and time again and yet the document appears to be entirely absolute from Henry Denzingers 'The sources of Catholic Dogma' as you well know it is the official publication in print since 1854 that summarises all the sources of Catholic dogma. It is in fact the essential point of reference for any dogmatic or doctrinal discussions regarding The Catholic Church. The fact that the official relatio appears to be completely absent from it is therefore a little concerning considering the importance you ascribe to it.

Apologies if this de-rails the thread but I thought it would be worth pointing it out.
The importance of the work is this: it was the clarification before voting on Chapter 4 at Vatican I, and the relatio (July 11, 1870) of Bishop Vincent Gasser is cited in four footnotes of Lumen gentiium 25 (Vatican II), in the main paragraph about teaching authority and infallibility.
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Old Sep 19, '11, 11:15 am
jmj1984 jmj1984 is offline
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Originally Posted by Vico View Post
The importance of the work is this: it was the clarification before voting on Chapter 4 at Vatican I, and the relatio (July 11, 1870) of Bishop Vincent Gasser is cited in four footnotes of Lumen gentiium 25 (Vatican II), in the main paragraph about teaching authority and infallibility.
The first is a claim, a claim I have not seen backed up anywhere. The fact is that the document is completely absent from Henry Denzingers 'Sources of Catholic Dogma', it seems very arrogant of someone to say they know more than the official and universally lauded book containing all the sources of Catholic dogma. As for the latter, using a non-infallible council to clarify an infallible seems at the least a little imprudent and at the most foolish, besides which the council does not embrace the high petrine view either.
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Old Sep 19, '11, 7:28 pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmj1984 View Post
The first is a claim, a claim I have not seen backed up anywhere. The fact is that the document is completely absent from Henry Denzingers 'Sources of Catholic Dogma', it seems very arrogant of someone to say they know more than the official and universally lauded book containing all the sources of Catholic dogma. As for the latter, using a non-infallible council to clarify an infallible seems at the least a little imprudent and at the most foolish, besides which the council does not embrace the high petrine view either.
By first claim do you mean:
1) That it was the clarification before voting on Chapter 4 at Vatican I
or
2) it cited in four footnotes of Lumen gentiium 25 (Vatican II), in the main paragraph about teaching authority and infallibility?
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Old Sep 20, '11, 6:24 am
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Default Re: High Petrine view in the early Church

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmj1984 View Post
The first is a claim, a claim I have not seen backed up anywhere. The fact is that the document is completely absent from Henry Denzingers 'Sources of Catholic Dogma', it seems very arrogant of someone to say they know more than the official and universally lauded book containing all the sources of Catholic dogma. As for the latter, using a non-infallible council to clarify an infallible seems at the least a little imprudent and at the most foolish, besides which the council does not embrace the high petrine view either.
I think it is a given that all infallible sources of doctrine require interpretation. How better to interpret the infallible decrees of the Council than to consult a reliable record of the understanding of the council fathers themselves!
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Old Sep 20, '11, 2:14 pm
jmj1984 jmj1984 is offline
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I think it is a given that all infallible sources of doctrine require interpretation. How better to interpret the infallible decrees of the Council than to consult a reliable record of the understanding of the council fathers themselves!
In the light of tradition, thats how
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Old Sep 20, '11, 2:15 pm
jmj1984 jmj1984 is offline
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Originally Posted by Vico View Post
By first claim do you mean:
1) That it was the clarification before voting on Chapter 4 at Vatican I
or
2) it cited in four footnotes of Lumen gentiium 25 (Vatican II), in the main paragraph about teaching authority and infallibility?
The first, the second I'll believe. Regardless the fact it isnt cited as a source of Catholic Dogma is somewhat telling. If the document was so important I hardly think it would have been left out
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