The following was posted in the Eastern Christian Forum. Although the issue of the papacy is pertinent to the discussion of the differences between Catholic and Orthodox churches, the discussion and response to it seemed more appropriate on the apologetics forum.
“The special status of those who knew Christ at the time of his ministry, who were with him, who were witnesses to his resurrection, cannot be transmitted to their successors. The post-resurrection appearances were ‘revelatory events,’ and in them Christ made himself known. Some of the events are characterized as ‘church-founding’ – without them there would be no church. It has been recognized that the disciples’ experience of the risen Christ cannot be compared with any visionary spiritual experience, with any form of mysticism. For Karl Rahner, the post-resurrection experiences of Christ’s disciples are “strictly sui generis,” and they belong to the very origin of the church. No one can succeed to the unique status promised to the twelve (Lk 22:30). The apostles cannot hand over their places in a kingdom appointed to them, nor can Peter transfer his role as the rock of the first Church in Christ. Only the church as a whole succeeds to these apostolic privileges. The apostles’ successor is the apostolic church, which possesses the fullness of apostolic tradition and with which Christ identifies himself (Acts 9:4). Every bishop in the apostolic church who occupies the place which Peter occupied at the eucharistic gathering, and who performs the pastoral duties which Peter performed, is the successor to the apostle. But no bishop can succeed to Peter’s unique place as a member of the twelve, as the first witness of the resurrection, and as the first head of the first assembly in Christ. Both the New Testament and the early history of the church are in full agreement on this point.”
– Veselin Kesich, “Peter’s Primacy in the New Testament and the Early Tradition,” in The Primacy of Peter: Essays in Ecclesiology and the Early Church. Edited by John Meyendorff, 1992, 56-57.
The following also has been the begining of a longer debate:
I was rather hoping to hear from the wider CAF on these topics…
All thoughts on how to answer this are appreciated.