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I consider this address given by His Holiness Pope Francis to the Delegates of the Patriarch of Constantinople on the feast of St Peter & Paul, 6/29/2023 a "must read" for all on this forum. Papal Address 6/29/2023 [press.vatican.va]

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Okay, I read it. And...?

This is the part that got my attention:
Quote
"Today, mindful of the lessons of history, we are called to seek together a modality of exercising the primacy that, within the context of synodality, is at the service of the Church’s communion on the universal level. In this regard, a clarification is fitting: it cannot be thought that the same prerogatives that the Bishop of Rome enjoys with regard to his own Diocese and the Catholic community should be extended to the Orthodox communities. When, with the help of God, we shall be fully united in faith and love, the form in which the Bishop of Rome will exercise his service of communion in the Church at the universal level will have to be the result of an inseparable relationship between primacy and synodality."
Since the whole Roman Catholic concept (it is a concept, isn't it?) of "synodality" seems to my old and increasingly foggy mind just a little vague (I'm aware that our Pope has somewhat of a reputation for being vague, if I'm not mistaken) and unclear, I'm not really sure what Pope Francis means by the above and what the ramifications of it might be. Perhaps someone could help me with that...?

Has there been any reply or statement from the EP about this?

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Originally Posted by J Michael
Okay, I read it. And...?

This is the part that got my attention:
Quote
"Today, mindful of the lessons of history, we are called to seek together a modality of exercising the primacy that, within the context of synodality, is at the service of the Church’s communion on the universal level. In this regard, a clarification is fitting: it cannot be thought that the same prerogatives that the Bishop of Rome enjoys with regard to his own Diocese and the Catholic community should be extended to the Orthodox communities. When, with the help of God, we shall be fully united in faith and love, the form in which the Bishop of Rome will exercise his service of communion in the Church at the universal level will have to be the result of an inseparable relationship between primacy and synodality."
Since the whole Roman Catholic concept (it is a concept, isn't it?) of "synodality" seems to my old and increasingly foggy mind just a little vague (I'm aware that our Pope has somewhat of a reputation for being vague, if I'm not mistaken) and unclear, I'm not really sure what Pope Francis means by the above and what the ramifications of it might be. Perhaps someone could help me with that...?

Has there been any reply or statement from the EP about this?

You might read the statement issued by the Joint International Commission that I linked in my last Thread under this East/West heading as an aid in helping you to understand what Pope Francis is saying since he is taking a cue from that ecumenical gathering in Alexandria of Egypt as he states in one of the above paragraphs. I find what he says quite clear, specific, and inspiring. I did not realize he had a reputation for vagueness. He does say that clarification is fitting, and that is what he is seeking in calling for a Synod on Synodality. I'm sure he hopes that the East will offer a great deal of insight and clarification on the subject since they have a more vigorous tradition in this regard. Perhaps Rome can offer the East some insight and clarification on Primacy as she likewise has a more vigorous tradition in this regard. smile

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Originally Posted by Utroque
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... it cannot be thought that the same prerogatives that the Bishop of Rome enjoys with regard to his own Diocese and the Catholic community should be extended to the Orthodox communities.
What specifically are these "prerogatives" that he "enjoys"? How does this play out for Eastern Catholics versus our Orthodox counterparts?
Originally Posted by Utroque
I did not realize he had a reputation for vagueness.
I can't speak to his reputation. Based on what he says, however, I think Pope Francis has a heart full of love and a head full of ambiguity.

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Originally Posted by ajk
Originally Posted by Utroque
Quote
... it cannot be thought that the same prerogatives that the Bishop of Rome enjoys with regard to his own Diocese and the Catholic community should be extended to the Orthodox communities.
What specifically are these "prerogatives" that he "enjoys"? How does this play out for Eastern Catholics versus our Orthodox counterparts?
Originally Posted by Utroque
I did not realize he had a reputation for vagueness.
I can't speak to his reputation. Based on what he says, however, I think Pope Francis has a heart full of love and a head full of ambiguity.

Well...it is only a statement on the occasion of an annual visit of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to Rome. Nevertheless, I find him quite clear and unambiguous. I believe he is saying that in the context of a fully united Church the role of the Bishop of Rome as Primate of the universal Church will have to be refined within the context of an agreed upon understanding of Primacy and Synodality and not only as it has historically been understood in the Latin Church. The "Joint Statement" spells that history out in a general kind of way. His prerogatives as Bishop of Rome are, quite obviously, what any bishop enjoys within his diocese. A full union would assume that Eastern Catholics would all be back home, as it were. N'est pas?

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Originally Posted by Utroque
A full union would assume that Eastern Catholics would all be back home, as it were. N'est pas?
"back home"? Where we should be? Where we should have been? If no, then what does he mean? If yes, then why are we even here? We chose, had and have the wrong home all along?

To ask again -- specifics --,
Originally Posted by ajk
How does this play out for Eastern Catholics versus our Orthodox counterparts?

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Originally Posted by ajk
Originally Posted by Utroque
A full union would assume that Eastern Catholics would all be back home, as it were. N'est pas?
"back home"? Where we should be? Where we should have been? If no, then what does he mean? If yes, then why are we even here? We chose, had and have the wrong home all along?

To ask again -- specifics --,
Originally Posted by ajk
How does this play out for Eastern Catholics versus our Orthodox counterparts?

I thought I was being pretty specific , and trying to be a bit humorous to boot. I guess not. I'll try this: we'd all - east and west - be back "home", so to speak, and Eastern Catholics would have to work all the jurisdictional and other issues of praxis out with those Eastern Churches with whom they had been separated. If not, I suppose the Ecumenical Patriarch, having primacy in the east, would or could intervene. I think Pope Francis is trying to envision a canonical union of Catholics, so called, and Orthodox hoping that the east can show as much latitude with the west as the west has shown to the east. So far I have not heard the Orthodox say: "this communion is so profound 'that it (the Catholic Church) lacks little to attain that fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord's Eucharist". But at least the dialogue continues, and I think Pope Francis has done much, in word and deed, to ensure that it does.

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Utroque said ...quote...."You might read the statement issued by the Joint International Commission that I linked in my last Thread under this East/West heading as an aid in helping you to understand what Pope Francis is saying since he is taking a cue from that ecumenical gathering in Alexandria of Egypt as he states in one of the above paragraphs. "

I have been trying to wrap my head around this discussion, and thank all of you for the topic and alerting us to the importance of the Papal address and documents related to it. I find that reading the Alexandria, 2023, document to be the helpful backdrop to the Papal address.  Thank you Utroque. Additionally, I was pleased to learn that there is a whole series of documents put forth by the:

Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue
between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church

There is a list of these on wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_International_Commission_for_Theological_Dialogue_Between_the_Catholic_Church_and_the_Orthodox_Church 

The Alexandria, 2023, document is the latest of these. It's title is: Synodality and Primacy in the Second Millennium and Today"....the one Utroque refers to.

Prior to this one, is the Chieti, Italy, 2016, document. It's title is: " Synodality and Primacy during the First Millennium: towards a common understanding in service to the unity of the Church"......here is one link:

https://www.ecupatria.org/synodalit...g-in-service-to-the-unity-of-the-church/

Forgive me for stating things that you are already aware of....but I wasn't.....and I am grateful for this opportunity to find out. I also discovered that some of the previous documents were rejected by certain branches of Orthodoxy.

At any rate, reading these last two documents helped put things into a little perspective. Here is my basic understanding. 

The 2016 statement concludes that the notions of Primacy and Synodality existed side by side in the Church. They were not seen as " at odds" but compatible and in keeping with spiritual and Apostolic ideals. 

The 2023 statement outlines the unfortunate circumstances (many of them geo- political) that ruined the compatibility of these notions. 

Therefore, the task of the Commission, and those desiring unity, is to identify how Primacy and Synodality co- existed in the same Church for some one thousand years.  Further, how both concepts are needed by the Church once again, in order to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

If my over simplified conclusion is flawed, please correct. If my observations are correct, we are in the early stages of this Commissions' examinations. The previous meetings, and their findings, are the context for subsequent meetings. Perhaps a certain ambiguity is appropriate at this point. A foundation of mutually agreed upon starting points has been laid. Details and specifics will come later. Perhaps the Pope's heart (full of love) is more important than a brain (full of specifics) , as he encourages the Commission to keep working.

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Thank you, Hutsul, for your clear and ample response. Some time ago I posted a link on an active group called St Iranaeus Joint Committee seeking to heal this "Great Schism". The thread received little or no response from the forum. Since it was posted in 2021 you may not have seen it. Here 'tis again for your interest - St Iranaeus Group [vatican.va]

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Originally Posted by Utroque
...I believe he is saying that in the context of a fully united Church the role of the Bishop of Rome as Primate of the universal Church will have to be refined within the context of an agreed upon understanding of Primacy and Synodality and not only as it has historically been understood in the Latin Church.

Originally Posted by Hutsul
...Perhaps a certain ambiguity is appropriate at this point. A foundation of mutually agreed upon starting points has been laid. Details and specifics will come later. Perhaps the Pope's heart (full of love) is more important than a brain (full of specifics) , as he encourages the Commission to keep working.

Originally Posted by Utroque
Thank you, Hutsul, for your clear and ample response....

Since you are of one accord I ask: Is this Primacy just historical or theological; is it of human origin or divine? What do you say; what do you think Pope Francis would say or has said?

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Well, from my very limited view, I feel that the Commission and the Pontiff will eventually make a case for both. 

Historical precedent has been established by the Church during the major Councils. The Council's were, by their nature, synodical. However they were also an exercise in primacy, as disputes often ended with an appeal to the Pope, or his emissaries. 

I also feel, a precedent for primacy is being made through theology, but here is where my knowledge may be insufficient for comment. It seems that a lot of the Commission's groundwork has been been spent by examining teachings about the Trinity. Could a case be made for primacy co- existing with synodality by comparing the relationship of the Persons of the Trinity with the relationships between Church hierarchy? The Trinity references seems to point out that this perfect relationship should be the model for the workings of the Church.
Perhaps I am way off base here, but this seems to be the theological connection, or at least one of them. The other is the many references to a common communion and a shared eucharistic service....which, reading between the lines, should occur as a precursor to real dialog and progress....?

A real kicker for me is the, admittedly, ambiguous reference to Bishops and their duties to a diocese. I believe that these references include the idea that a Bishop and his diocese is a microcosm of the Church at Large. The " primacy" of a Bishop in his jurisdiction, is a perfect reflection of a primacy meant for the entire Church.....even though there are many Bishops from many jurisdictions, who must, from time to time, convene at synod. This is where the notion of " primacy within the context of synodality" may be rooted.

Here is my humble take on all of this. 

So, in light of the above, both primacy and synodality are principles that already exist and have existed from the time of Ss. Peter and Paul. But, with forces, both internal and external, these principles were used to separate the East and West rather than to bind them. This Commission is tasked with proposing how these principles can be better understood, in light of modern scholarship, as a positive force in re-unification. No concessions need to be made by either side, as these principles already exist...they just have to be re- recognized as compatable.

But, if we put the cart before the horse, details may stifle the process and  cause rifts too early, and we are back to square one. 

Again, what a worthy topic to contemplate. I am not sure I addressed your question AJK, but that's about the best I can describe my thoughts at this point.

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Originally Posted by Hutsul
Here is my humble take on all of this. 

So, in light of the above, both primacy and synodality are principles that already exist and have existed from the time of Ss. Peter and Paul. But, with forces, both internal and external, these principles were used to separate the East and West rather than to bind them. This Commission is tasked with proposing how these principles can be better understood, in light of modern scholarship, as a positive force in re-unification. No concessions need to be made by either side, as these principles already exist...they just have to be re- recognized as compatable.

But, if we put the cart before the horse, details may stifle the process and  cause rifts too early, and we are back to square one. 

Again, what a worthy topic to contemplate. I am not sure I addressed your question AJK, but that's about the best I can describe my thoughts at this point.

I doubt I could add much to your clear thinking on the subject. Thank you for your feedback. I do think that Pope Francis, great pastor that he is, has advanced the thinking on the subject with his emphasis on primacy as one of service and pastoral care, rather than dominance and control; the antithesis of the Good Shepard, as in "Feed my sheep..." If some find that ambiguous, they can blame the Master.

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Originally Posted by Hutsul
Well, from my very limited view, I feel that the Commission and the Pontiff will eventually make a case for both...
Again, what a worthy topic to contemplate. I am not sure I addressed your question AJK, but that's about the best I can describe my thoughts at this point.
Yes, you have; thank you. While I appreciate that it is necessary to provide context to insure not being misunderstood -- as I do so myself -- that being done there is a refreshing clarity in pointing to an at-least-tentative conclusion. It's looking at a "limiting case," that is, not something restrictive but at the/a limit, an end, completion or ideal. So I asked:
Originally Posted by ajk
Is this Primacy just historical or theological; is it of human origin or divine? What do you say; what do you think Pope Francis would say or has said?
In fairness I should try to answer my own questions but I'd rather get a better sense from others where Pope Francis is taking us. I have implied however -- "just historical" -- that I think it is certainly well-established historically.

Originally Posted by Hutsul
A real kicker for me is the, admittedly, ambiguous reference to Bishops and their duties to a diocese. I believe that these references include the idea that a Bishop and his diocese is a microcosm of the Church at Large. The " primacy" of a Bishop in his jurisdiction, is a perfect reflection of a primacy meant for the entire Church.....even though there are many Bishops from many jurisdictions, who must, from time to time, convene at synod. This is where the notion of " primacy within the context of synodality" may be rooted.
If this is ambiguous it shouldn't be, that is, emphatically it shouldn't be. You have here (to me) confirmed my point.

Originally Posted by Hutsul
...primacy co- existing with synodality by comparing the relationship of the Persons of the Trinity with the relationships between Church hierarchy
Yes, this is getting at the issue. I don't have the reference but (as I recall) at the time (90's ?) then Card. Ratzinger bemoaned a popular, superficial theology, a so-called social Trinity theology. His objection was because the Trinity is at the center of all theology and, as the medieval dictum has it, Ecclesia ex Trinitate. So, don't get it wrong.

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He speaks their language, as he was the head of Eastern Catholics in Argentina, lest anyone forget https://www.catholic-hierarchy.org/bishop/bbergj.html


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