[quote=Intrigued Latin] Would you embrace the East with open arms even if our Holy Father’s role in the Universal Chruch changed ?
Here’s a “what-if”…just a “what-if,” mind you…
First, some background: The Holy Father, by nature of his position, serves the Catholic Church in three distinct capacities:
- He is the Bishop of Rome;
- He is the Patriarch of the Roman Catholic Church;
- He is the spiritual pastor of all Catholics, the Church Universal.
In fact, this three-tiered responsibility is reflected in the three-tiered tiara that new pontiffs are coronated with.
Now, each of the 22 other Churches that comprise the Catholic Church (i.e. the Eastern Catholic Churches) has their own heierarchial leader, be that a Patriarch, a Metropolitan Archbishop, or whatever.
My point is this: currently, the heierarchial leader of the Roman Catholic Church is the same man who serves as spiritual pastor to all Catholics. The Universal Shepherd of our Holy Catholic Church, by virtue of his additional roles, has very obvious ritual ties to only one of the sui iuris Churches, yet he is pastor to all.
Here’s my “what-if”…
What if the Roman Catholic Church were to add one layer of heierarchy to her organization - a separate “Patriarch,” if you will - putting her, at least organizationally, on the same plane vis a vis the pope as the other 22 Churches? What if we were to reorganize the Roman Catholic Church such that the organizational “buck” stops one level down from the Pope, just as it does in the other 22 Churches? This would eliminate the official ritual ties that the Pope has to the Roman Catholic Church, thus freeing his position to be one of Shepherd to the Universal Catholic Church.
The Papacy itself would remain intact; the Pope would remain Peter’s successor as our Universal Pastor, the Holder of the Keys. The idea that the Pope is the Shepherd of all Catholics, not just Roman Catholics, would be reinforced by removing him from the day-to-day operation of only one (albeit the largest) of our 23 Churches. Perhaps this official severing of ritual ties associated with the Papacy would make the position of the Pope more palatable to those of our brethren who now resist. True, this would clearly set the position of the Papacy up as something more than “first among equals” as the Orthodox view would hold it to be… but the statement quoted above clearly asks us to hypothesize with regard to changes in the role of the Pope! This would, indeed, be a change!