“Once upon a time there lived a giant in Russia. Unlike the giants we read about in fairy tales, this giant was fully human; he lived from 1853 to 1900. He was an unusual giant, a genius with an astonishing range of intellectual and spiritual gifts. Biographers credit him with being philosopher, political thinker, theologian, literary critic, poet, poet, prophet, mystic. Yet this giant is largely unknown in the west today.”1
“From the east he came, appearing suddenly, nearly a century after his death, in Church documents of the highest authority. For many westerners, Vladimir Soloviev made his debut in Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason), the 1998 encyclical letter of Pope John Paul II. There his name emerges in a sweeping genealogy of the greatest Christian philosophers, from St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas to Newman and St. Edith Stein. Two years later, the same pope would praise Soloviev as one of the modern era’s great ‘witnesses of the faith and illustrious Christian thinkers’ and call his work ‘prophetic.’”2
“Soloviev’s ‘true legacy’ consists of three simple propositions. The universal jurisdiction and infallible teaching authority of the papacy were instituted by Jesus Christ as a perpetual gift to his Church. Apart from the papacy, the Eastern churches will always remain what they are now, ethnic, national churches, totally independent and disunited. Only in union with Rome can the separated Eastern churches become truly Catholic. Seldom, if ever, has this Catholic doctrine of the Church been stated more eloquently, more persuasively in an apologetic context than by Vladimir Soloviev.”3
The purpose of this thread is to highlight and discuss the thought of Vladimir Soloviev found in The Russian Church and the Papacy4 – which is an abridgment of his original work, Russia and the Universal Church. From time to time, I will be posting passages and ideas from Soloviev that I find interesting as I make my way through this book, and I welcome comments – positive and negative – from anyone who wishes to journey with me.
1 Fr. Ray Ryland, The Russian Church and the Papacy, (Catholic Answers, El Cajon, CA, 2001), p. 15.
2 Scott Hahn, The Russian Church and the Papacy, (Catholic Answers, El Cajon, CA, 2001), p.11.
3 Ryland, op. cit., p. 22.