Debates over Roman and papal primacy often center on texts of early Christians: What did this writer really mean? What did this council’s canon mean? Etc.
But shouldn’t the key issue be what have the Roman Christians – the church at Rome, the bishops of Rome, etc. – held? Obviously, this is one thing that needs to be looked at in the discussion of Papal primacy. However, it also seems like it is the sufficient issue.
For if it is of near historical certainty that Peter actually did live, die, and have a successor in Rome, then it would seem that his successors – and the Christians around them – at the very least would understand what Peter’s primacy meant, if he had any sort of primacy at all.
All that said, my question is:
**Are there any texts or events that non-Catholics point to in order to show that Rome did not claim a primacy for itself?
Pretty much any scholar would admit that the Bishop of Rome, as the Successor of St. Peter, held a primacy of honor in the first millennium Church. Some would say that it was only a primacy of honor. Some, of course, would say that the Bishop of Rome, at some point, became the anti-Christ, a rather different type of primacy.
Free eBook: Liturgical Year 2014-2015, Vol. 2
An examination of the position which the Byzantine Church took on the Primacy of Peter from earliest times on up to the period when the estrangement between East and West occured.
The most important and the most controversial point in all endeavors for rapprochement of other Churches with the Roman Catholic Church is undoubtedly the question of the Roman Primacy in Christianity. The denial of this prerogative to the Bishop of Rome by the Orthodox is, perhaps, the only serious obstacle on the way to reunion of the Eastern Churches with the Roman Church. The many polemic writings issued in the East and in the West from the eleventh century, denying or defending the primary position of the Roman Bishop, have, so far, failed to produce the desired effect on either side. Mutual distrust caused mostly by political divisions and the different development of the Church’s organization in East and West, manifested particularly from the eleventh century on, have often embittered the minds of the controversialists and prevented the faithful on both sides from considering the problem without prejudice.
I’m reading it, but is this from a Catholic perspective? It seems to be denying the apostolic reasons for Roman primacy but instead emphasizes the political environment:
“Also, the supra-metropolitan organization which resulted in the formation of the first Patriarchates of Rome, Alexandria and Antioch, owes its origin, not to the apostolic foundation of these cities, but to the fact that they were the most important cities of the Empire, the capitals of groups of provinces.”
“The so-called Liberian Catalogue from the year 3547 is the first which introduces the practice which became general, of attributing the origins of Roman Christianity to Peter only, and to place his name at the head of the Roman Bishops. This failure to stress Peter’s function as founder and as first Bishop of the Roman Church seems to indicate that, as long as Rome was the capital of the Empire and the Imperial residence, its privileged position in Christianity was sufficiently guaranteed because all ecclesiastical organization was modeled according to the political divisions of the Empire.”
Rome has always been at the center of the Christian world since Saint Peter was martyred there. Now, it must be admitted that certain aspects have had a development over time, primarily the dogma of Papal Infallibility. But it is clear that the Church has always looked to Rome as its head. Even our separated Byzantine brothers admit that Rome holds a primacy of honor.
However, they were impressed by the idea that a See which was to play such a prominent role should be connected with the Apostles, the universal teachers, whose doctrine the Patriarchs should explain and promote. In reality, we find some instances in the seventh century in which the See of Constantinople is called “apostolic.” It is reasonable to see in this the influence of the Roman emphasis on the apostolic character of the Church in general and the Roman See in particular. It should be stressed, however, that this custom was not originated by the story of the Apostle Andrew as founder of its bishopric, because the Andrew story was then not yet known in Byzantium.
Early Syriac, Armenian and Coptic traditions show, however, that the apostolic character was attributed to the See of Constantinople because this See was the heir of Ephesus, and, thus, of the Apostle John, when the jurisdiction which the See of St. John had exercised over Asia Minor was transferred to Constantinople.28 This is also confirmed by the declaration of the Patriarch Ignatius at a synod in 861,29 and seems also to be alluded to by the Patriarch Photius in his letter to the Armenians.