Posted By: Ray S. Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/02/06 02:12 PM
Each of the 7 Ecumenical Councils was started by the Emperor or Emperies of Byzantium.

Many Protestants don't have a problem with a church council, but the arguement ofter heard is by whos authority did these monarchs have to start an Ecumenical council.

So, I pose the question to the forum. What authority did the Emperor or Emperies have in starting Ecumenical councils.
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/02/06 03:53 PM
Dear Ray,

It is interesting that Protestants have a problem with Emperors starting an Ecumenical Council, but have no problem with King Henry VIII breaking with Rome and starting the Anglican church nor with German princes breaking with Rome to establish the Lutheran church . . . wink

The Emperors of Byzantium saw themselves as servants of the Church in the temporal sphere and as part of the "harmony" as symbolized by the two-headed eagle of the Byzantine Empire - as based on the tradition of the Kings of Israel in the Old Testament.

Heresies and turbulence in church life also affected peace within the empire and so the emperors had a direct interest in maintaining civil order and peace.

Many of them were devoted to the Church, were well-read in theology and otherwise assisted the Church's hierarchy in promoting Christianity.

Twenty Byzantine Emperors and Empresses are included in the Orthodox calendar of the Saints for their services to the spread and protection of the Church of Christ.

The Emperors simply ensured that the Councils happened - they didn't declare their own Canons or doctrines but enforced them afterwards.

Posted By: Ray S. Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/02/06 05:23 PM
Yes, but by whos authority did the Emperors and Empresses (thanks for the correction) have in starting a council.

This is a very interesting point that I had not thought of. In modern times we don't have an Emperor or Empresses so the councils are started by the first among equals. Shouldn't this had been the ancient form as well?
Posted By: Ecce Jason Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/02/06 05:42 PM

In my opinion, this is probably the wrong (or at least an irrelevant) question. Here are two reasons why:

(1) In at least a few of the cases (I am not sure if it is the majority or not), the emperors did not call the councils at their own random initiative, but rather called them at the behest of the bishops. In other words, the bishops asked for a council, and the emperor then used the powers of the state to fulfill that wish and bring a council together (and care for the bishops who had travelled to the selected city, and so on). So it wouldn't be that the emperor is forcing his wishes upon Christendom; rather, it would be that the emperor is fulfilling the bishops' wishes. But this is perhaps a minor point compared to the next.

(2) It just doesn't matter if the emperors had any "authority" or not. The emperors did not have authority in doctrine, and while they could use their imperial authority to perhaps force bishops to come to the location of the council, the emperor himself did not (at least typically) participate in the theological discussion, and after the theological discussion had concluded the emperor's authority mattered little for the promulgation of doctrine within the Church. All that really matters is that the bishops had (and have) authority to promulgate doctrine. They came together, for whatever reason (even if at times they might have been forced to come together; I do not know for sure), into council, and they discussed and decided theological matters. After the council, they then collectively decided to accept that the council had been an authoritative one, and promulgated its doctrine to their respective churches. In time, the councils became accepted by the Church as a whole and came to be recognized as ecumenical. All that matters is these latter facts; if the bishops are authoritative, and they say a council is a council (regardless of how it was called by the emperor), then that's all we need. The authority or non-authority of the emperor is irrelevant; what matters is what the bishops say. In cases where the emperor did want to have authority over doctrine as well, the bishops opposed him; hence we have martyrs and confessors who were executed and/or harmed by the state for refusing to bow to the emperor's wishes, and so on.

The debate with Protestants will then likely go back to the debate about authority in the Church (specifically with reference to bishops), but that's a whole different issue, and at least the above material answers your question here.

May God bless you,
Posted By: Ray S. Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/02/06 06:23 PM

I don't think the problem is with the result from the council but rather the start of the council.

This could also lead to another discussion on who would have the authority to set up another Ecumenical Council without Emperors or Empresses.
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/02/06 06:23 PM
Dear Friends,

Well, certainly the Church herself respected a role for the Emperor in connection with Councils and temporal church affairs.

It prayed assiduously in her liturgical prayers for the Emperor and the Imperial family - and we still have those prayers at the beginning of Matins in the Byzantine tradition.

The Emperor's imperial/royal authority was certainly rooted in the blessing and approval of God through the Church.

For example, if an Emperor was deemed heretical or was otherwise excommunicated by the Church, then his subjects were automatically released from subservience to him - not a good thing, if you are an Emperor!

And at one time, as I understand, the rite of crowning an Emperor was considered by the Church to be a separate and unique Sacrament on its own (as was the rite of monastic tonsure).

The Emperor was as much a sacramental authority figure imbued with Grace from on High via the Church as he was a political leader.

That would never have occurred with republican presidents, but thankfully that "enlightened" age had hundreds of years before it would finally come about . . .

Posted By: Ray S. Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/02/06 06:31 PM

That is all nice but I don't remember Jesus giving the keys to an Emperor.
Posted By: Ray S. Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/02/06 07:02 PM
In other words Alex, I don't see the authority ever given to Emperors by Christ.
Posted By: Ray S. Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/02/06 07:32 PM
Let me state this to be clear, I am playing devils advocate because I am not sure how to answer this question.
Posted By: Ecce Jason Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/02/06 07:43 PM

What exactly are you asking? The "authority" that the emperors had to call Ecumenical Councils was, as far as I understand it, a purely civil/imperial authority. It was not necessarily (although, as Alex notes, in certain cases it was also) a religious authority. Typically, the emperors called these councils because either (1) they perceived that there was chaos amongst Christians (which represented a threat to the stability of the empire) and they wanted doctrine defined, or (2) they themselves wanted to serve Christianity by helping resolve potential schisms and disagreements and by answering the calls of bishops to bring together a council so that such matters could be ultimately worked out. The bishops either answered or did not answer these calls (there are instances, for example, where Rome or some other patriarchy refused to be present); presumably when they did answer it was either out of their own concern for Christianity or it was out of obedience (i.e., a "render unto Caesar" sort of thing). The emperor certainly had no authority to "rule over" Christianity, and the Popes of Rome in particular frequently chastized them about this; on occasion, however, they answered the calls for ecumenical councils. As you and I have both already noted, the result of the council is only authoritative because the bishops are authoritative, not because the emperor is. The emperor has no intrinsic religious authority, as far as I know. So what?

I just don't see this as a problem whatsoever. The fact that emperors called councils does not in any way imply that they "have the keys" or any such things; the bishops themselves answered the call, discussed doctrine, and received the councils. That's what matters. Also, some of them refused, as the history of Christianity shows us (we have the Arians, we have the split between the Nestorian churches and the Orthodox churches, we have the split over Chalcedon, etc., etc.). Can you find me any theological argument anywhere that ever said that people were judged as heretics because they disobeyed the emperor? No; rather, heretics and/or schismatics were called such because they refused to obey the authority of given bishops and their communal authority at councils. The result is what really matters. If somehow I myself demanded that there be an ecumenical council, and all of the bishops came together and answered my call, and the Church then received that council as authoritative, it would be authoritative all the same not because I called it (that's largely irrelevant), but because the Church and her bishops were present and then also received it as such.

Now, as for the discussion of who gets to call the councils now, I don't know the answer to that. I think the "First Among Equals" (i.e., the Pope) is the most sensible idea, given the way the world is situated these days and given the fact that there is a papal state which would be capable of hosting such councils. This is no dogmatic issue, though, as far as I can see.

As an historical example, the 2nd ecumenical council wasn't even intended as an ecumenical council when it was called. It was convened as a local council, but then acheived its ecumenical authority when it was received as such by the rest of the bishops. The circumstances surrounding its convocation are largely irrelevant.

May God bless you,
Posted By: Ecce Jason Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/02/06 07:46 PM
In other words, any argument against the authority of ecumenical councils that begins by arguing that the emperor has no authority over the Church does nothing but create a red herring.

Perhaps this is where I'm misunderstanding you, Ray? Are you presenting this question as a question against the authority of ecumenical councils in general because they were called by the emperor, who has no intrinsic religious authority? Or are you asking some different question: perhaps how we are to decide who is to call such a council now, for example? The latter question is perhaps a good, reasonable, and difficult one (see my above suggestion that it be the Pope).

Posted By: AMM Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/02/06 07:59 PM
Originally posted by Ray S.:

That is all nice but I don't remember Jesus giving the keys to an Emperor.
That is an interesting question, re the keys. I actually ran across an article the other day in the Tablet that rather surprised me. I'll bold the parts that I thought really stood out.

At least since the high Middle Ages the papacy has been understood as an institution directly created by Jesus Christ in his own lifetime: he willed that his Church should be ruled by the Apostles and their successors, and he gave to Peter, as leader of the apostles, the fullness of spiritual power, the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Peter came to Rome, and there appointed his own successors, whose names are recited to this day in the canon of the Mass � Linus, Cletus, Clement, and so on down to John Paul II. All that the modern Church claims for the pope, his authority in doctrine and his power over institutions, is on this account a simple unfolding of the dominical bestowal of the keys, and the post-resurrection command to Peter to feed Christ�s sheep.

We have known for more than a century that the historical underpinning of this account is unfortunately not quite so simple. The Church of Rome during its first two centuries based its claims to precedence not on the Lord�s words to Peter, but on the preaching and death in Rome of two apostles, Peter and Paul. The commission in Matthew 16:18, "Thou art Peter, and upon this Rock I will build my Church, and I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven", is quoted in no Roman source before the time of the Decian persecution, in the middle of the third century, and even then the claims which the Pope of the time tried to base on that quotation were indignantly rejected by the Churches of Africa to whom he was addressing himself.

And indeed, the very roots of what may be called the foundation myth of the papacy are themselves uncomfortably complicated. The Church established itself in Rome some time in the AD 40s: we now know that for the best part of the century that followed, there was nothing and nobody in Rome who could recognisably be called a pope. Christianity in Rome evolved out of the Roman synagogues, and to begin with it was not so much a single Church as a constellation of independent churches, meeting in the houses of wealthy converts or in hired halls and public baths, without any central ruler or bishop. The Roman synagogues � there were 14 of them in the first century � unlike the synagogues in other great Mediterranean cities like Antioch . . . were all independent, with no central organisation or single president, and to begin with at least, the churches of Rome also functioned independently. Many of them were in any case ethnic or regional churches, groups of Syrian, Greek, Asian residents in Rome, using their own languages, following the customs of the Christian communities back in their home regions.

Elsewhere in the first century, episcopacy emerged as the dominant form of church order � the rule of each church by a single senior presbyter who took the lead in ordinations and the celebration of the Eucharist, and who was the focus of unity for all the Christians of a city or region. But Rome, probably because of the complexity and ethnic and cultural diversity of the Christian communities of the capital of the world, was very slow to adopt this system.

In the conventional accounts of the history of the papacy, the letter of Clement, written from Rome to the Church at Corinth around the year AD 95, is often thought of as the first papal encyclical, attributed to Pope Clement, Peter�s third successor and the last pope personally known to the Prince of the Apostles. In fact, the letter is written on behalf of the whole Roman Church, it is unsigned, and the author speaks unequivocally of "the elders who rule the Church", in the plural.

EVERYTHING we know about the Church at Rome in its first century or so points in the same direction, to a community which certainly thought of itself as one Church, but which was in practice a loose and often divided federation of widely different communities, each with its own pastors and its own distinctive and often conflicting liturgies, calendars and customs. It was in fact the threat of heresy within this seething diversity, and the Roman need to impose some sort of unity and coherence on the Church in the city, that led to the emergence of the Roman episcopate, and the firming up of the Roman community�s pride in the life and death among them of the two greatest apostles, into a succession narrative. By the 160s the graves of Peter and Paul had shrines built over them and were being shown to Christian visitors to Rome: by the early third century the bishops of Rome were being buried in a single crypt in what is now the catacomb of San Callisto, as a sort of visible family tree stretching back, it was believed, to the apostolic age. But all this was a construct, tidying the mess and confusion of real history into a neat and orderly relay race, with the baton of apostolic authority being handed from one bishop to another.
The full link is here [thetablet.co.uk] .

What does that say about the keys?

Posted By: Ray S. Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/02/06 08:34 PM
Keys are only needed if heresy arises.
Posted By: incognitus Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/02/06 08:39 PM
Well, there is the perenially interesting case of the Emperor and the Council of Constance.

Posted By: Ecce Jason Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/02/06 08:44 PM

A book I would strongly recommend on papal primacy, if you have not read it yet, is Papal Primacy: From Its Origins to the Present by Klaus Schatz, SJ. It's probably one of the most bluntly honest books about papal primacy that I've ever read -- for example, it begins with basically all of the facts you provide with that article from The Tablet -- but it was also, for what it's worth, the book that really made me take a long hard look at the question of primacy and ultimately come around much more favorably to it.

Here is a bit from Schatz's first chapter:
If one had asked a Christian in the year 100, 200, or even 300 whether the bishop of Rome was the head of all Christians, or whether there was a supreme bishop over all the other bishops and having the last word in questions affecting the whole Church, he or she would certainly have said no.

But are these the right questions? Is a negative answer not inevitable if we approach the first centuries using the yardstick of our modern, fully developed doctrine of primacy, or especially the standards of Vatican I? Is such an inquiry really historical? If we ask the questions in such a way as to evoke a negative answer, are we not precluding any serious theological investigation? . . . If one . . . cites evidence that establishes a certain higher status accorded to the Roman community but not subject to description in familiar legal categories, they are immediately measured against the concept of primacy in later times, or even that of Vatican I. The conclusion that follows is that such a primacy can by no means be derived from those documents. In the present state of research, this kind of conclusion, of course, is not a scholarly achievement; it is a truism.

What is lacking is not critical historical knowledge, but historical hermeneutics. The question is too unrefined to do justice to the Church's historical reality . . . A correct view of the situation of the Roman church in the earliest period . . . can only be perceived in the overall context of the ancient Church's struggle to locate a fixed point of unity. How were the standards for Church unity and the genuine tradition of the Church established? What was the significance of the Roman church in that context? We can discover, in essence, four stages or steps in development, although of course they overlap to some degree . . . " (p. 3).
Actually, now that I look back at this, the book may interest you a bit too, Ray. It answers a lot of questions regarding the role of the emperor and the bishop/Pope in the Church.

May God bless you both,
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/02/06 09:35 PM
Dear Incognitus,

The last time I raised the matter of the Council of Constance, my "Hus" was cooked . . .

Posted By: Ray S. Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/02/06 09:40 PM
I must be honest I know little to nothing about the Council of Constance. Any information shed would prevent a long Google search tonight.
Posted By: Stephanos I Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/02/06 09:49 PM
I would speculate that the "primacy of Rome" has little to do with geographical terms but with the presence of the Blessed Apostle who went there, before that Jerusalem and Antioch, had the primacy because of the presence of Peter.
Stephanos I
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/02/06 09:50 PM
Dear Ray,

Well, I think we then need to go back to the Emperor St Constantine and how he ordered protection for Christianity as a state religion.

He did not make the Christian Church THE state religion, but only forbade the persecution of Christians (especially by crucifixion). But Christianity did, in fact, become the state religion of the Roman Empire.

The question your Protestant friends are asking (and what are you doing cavorting with heretics anyway? wink ) has to do with the old system of government in Europe where state and church were NOT separate.

By coming out from underground, the Christian Church was intrinsically connected to the Roman imperial government and way of life, impacting many institutions.

The Pope of Rome at the time, keys or no wink (Andrew is right, you know), did not even have formal jurisdiction over all of Italy and was referred to as "His Beatitude!"

In fact, it was the later power struggles between Emperor and Patriarch at Constantinople that led to the build up of the Roman Pontiff's temporal power in the West - a needed "referee" who kept the Emperor in check.

In those centuries, Rome had lost its former imperial lustre. It still kept its formal place as first Bishopric in the Church owing largely to the fact that the tombs of Sts. Peter and Paul were situated in Rome. The idea of the keys given to ONLY one Bishop was not on until much later - the keys were given to Peter, yes, but also to all Bishops through Peter.

It was only until the 4th Ec. Council that there is a section listed that affirms that the Roman See ought to be "first" (and this only at the table of an Ecumenical Council, no mention of jurisdiction at all) ONLY because Rome was the first capital of the Roman Empire.

When Byzantium became the new capital of "Romania" or the Roman Empire, this meant not that a new city had come into being to assume this mantle - but that the entire tradition of the City of Rome had moved to the City of Constantine as the "NEW ROME!" So the "keys" were shared by BOTH the OLD (the Administrator here prefers "Elder" - I don't what agenda HE is pushing - how are you, sir? wink ) and the NEW Romes.

This is also why when the Patriarch of the Roum (aka the Patriarch of Constantinople) visits Rome, he is placed on a throne of equal height to that of the Pope of Old Rome.

Neither ever discarded the tradition that they were the legitimate heirs of the Christian Roum empire where the religion was Orthodox-Catholic of the people and where the national languages was, at one time, both Latin and Greek.

This is why the Orthodox term for RC's as "Latins" is meant, historically, to accuse them of having only a partialized and therefore incomplete tradition - and why Rome, after the schism, called Byzantium "Greek" only to show that, from its point of view, Byzantium had fallen from the fullness of yesteryear's Christian Roum Church and Empire.

But the Emperor's role over the Church as its temporal guardian was something the Church sanctioned.

An Emperor could be opposed if he was shown and condemned as a heretic. But the Church always looked to her Orthodox/Catholic Emperors for the sound temporal leadership and protection she often required and prayed for them most assiduously.

The authority of the Ecumenical Councils comes from the Church herself and the Church only.

It was the Emperors who licked the invitation envelopes and who ordered the hotel and meal accommodations for the bishops.

Posted By: Orthodox Catholic Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/02/06 09:54 PM
Dear Father Stephanos,

It is true that the presence of BOTH Chief Apostles in Rome and their tombs afterwards led to the veneration of Old Rome as the first bishopric in Christendom.

But the profound jurisdictional powers later appropriated to themselves by the Popes of Rome were simply not envisioned even by the then Bishops of Rome and cannot be supported simply by the fact of Peter's presence in Rome.

He was also in Antioch and Jerusalem - AND, Father, the fact that his secretary, ST Mark, as at Alexandria ALSO extended the Petrine claim to that great city as well.

It was on that basis, through St Mark, that Alexandria exploded its powers and was the first See to declare its bishop a "Pope" with jurisdiction over every church and priest throughout Christian Africa - also the Pope of Alexandria declared himself to be the "Ecumenical Archbishop."

My point is that Rome's jurisdictional claims over other Churches have no real basis in terms of Peter's presence.

In fact, was Peter the "first Pope" of Rome? Or did he consecrate the first Pope of Rome?

Posted By: AMM Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/02/06 10:13 PM
Originally posted by Ecce Jason:

A book I would [b]strongly
recommend on papal primacy, if you have not read it yet, is Papal Primacy: From Its Origins to the Present by Klaus Schatz, SJ.[/b]
Ecce Jason, thanks for the recommendation. I will add it to my long, long list of things I intend to read. My issue is really with supremacy and universal jurisdiction which I do not view as being analogous with primacy (which I don�t have a problem with). The article was interesting to me, because if Mr. Duffy is correct, his historical view cuts the legs out from many of the arguments I have seen put forward by RC apologists for what I guess would be termed Papal Maximalism.

The history surrounding Constance, the Avignon Papacy, Investiture and the waging of war by the Popes against the Hohenstauffens are all very interesting as well.

Posted By: Ray S. Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/02/06 10:25 PM
Thank you Alex for you complete response.
Posted By: Ecce Jason Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/02/06 11:55 PM

The article was interesting to me, because if Mr. Duffy is correct, his historical view cuts the legs out from many of the arguments I have seen put forward by RC apologists for what I guess would be termed Papal Maximalism.
I agree with that pretty much whole-heartedly. I'd say that the book I suggested by Klaus Schatz does much of the same thing.

God bless,
Posted By: Myles Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/03/06 02:43 AM
What I may say may have already been stated by others but just encase it hasn't let me reproduce certain texts:

2. Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority -- that is, the faithful everywhere -- inasmuch as the Apostolic Tradition has been preserved continuously by those who are everywhere.--St Irenaeus, Adv.Her.3.3.2
St Irenaeus also names, as we do in the Roman Canon, the Bishops of Rome:

3. The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome despatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles, proclaiming the one God, omnipotent, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, who brought on the deluge, and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, spake with Moses, set forth the law, sent the prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels. From this document, whosoever chooses to do so, may learn that He, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was preached by the Churches, and may also understand the apostolical tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood, and who conjure into existence another god beyond the Creator and the Maker of all existing things. To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telephorus, who was gloriously martyred; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then after him, Anicetus. Sorer having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth.--St Irenaeus, Adv.Her, 3.3.3.
As Proffessor Duffy makes clear its a question of historical hermenutics and that appears clear enough. There is a hermenutic of suspicion underpinning modern historical science which finds little room for the historical accuracy of St Irenaeus' claims (similiarly those of Sacred Scripture). Redactors and communities are envisioned as interpreting and interpolating.

I have seen arguments put forward against the Papacy on the basis that the early Roman church is unlikely to have had no visible episcopate and that Irenaeus backdated by choosing certain prominent presbyters. Now, of course, this is a perfectly plausible explanation if you're using a hermenutic of suspicion which means you have to distrust all traditional sources. But you see the thing thing is I'm just not willing to call St Irenaeus a liar.

I approach his texts with a hermenutic of recognition with respect for his credibility as a witness and the credibility of the information he provides. Now in the game of modern historical criticism that is an instant way of getting oneself disqualified as a serious historian (shock horror I also believe the gospels are not the products of community redactors and that Jesus did miracles and rose from the dead) but I guess I'm just gullible.

Many of the questions I've seen asked of the Roman claims I believe have already been answered by St Ireneaus. Its possible that St Irenaeus himself was lied to, that the letters to Timothy isnt even a pauline epistle and that the Linus of the Roman liturgy is not the Linus of Sacred Scripture. That St Irenaeus lies about the way Clement's letter to Corinth was percieved to suit his purpose of contradicting the gnostics by making the centre of orthodoxy a church which had no time for their doctrine. Its possible that the Romans themselves greedy to maintain the presidency 'in love' (cf. St Ignatius of Antioch episle to the Romans) simply fabricated the early records of apostolic succession. Its possible St Ireneaus did all of the above on his own steam simply to make his case against Valentiniansm and Marcionism more plausible.

But seeing as I'm using a hermenutic of recognition rather than one of suspicion. I'm going to trust the way St Ireneaus interprets the Roman primacy, the foundation of the aforesaid See, the Corinthian incident as being tied up to Clements authority, and the succession of Popes up until his own day.

People have often cited John Henry Newman as lukewarm todays the Vatican Council's definition on Papal infallibility. Actually nothing can be further from the truth. What Newman was accutely aware of was that according to strict historical science (and Newman was a notorious skeptic i.e. Grammar of Assent) one could not maintain unquestionably the primacy of Rome. Yet falling back upon tradition Newman like myself could readily believe that the way it was reported is how it really went down.
Posted By: AMM Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/03/06 03:19 AM
As Proffessor Duffy makes clear its a question of historical hermenutics and that appears clear enough. There is a hermenutic of suspicion underpinning modern historical science which finds little room for the historical accuracy of St Irenaeus' claims (similiarly those of Sacred Scripture). Redactors and communities are envisioned as interpreting and interpolating.
Myles, I guess what is most striking to me is that the I article I posted was written by a Catholic author and was published on the web site of a Catholic journal. It's not like it's appearing in the pages of Christian Century.

Posted By: Orthodox Catholic Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/03/06 02:06 PM
Dear Myles,

Yes, thank you!

St Irenaeus shows that the Church of Rome was founded by the two Chief Apostles - as were the Churches of Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria and also those of many Eastern villages ( wink ) where the Apostles preached - but that St Peter was NOT the first "Bishop of Rome."

The Apostles had the powers of bishops, to be sure.

But a bishop is someone who is located in a See. The Apostles could NOT fulfill that function and remain faithful to their calling as Apostles sent throughout the world.

Viva il Papa!

Posted By: Myles Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/03/06 05:39 PM
Dear Alex

St Ignatius of Antioch did not consider himself the 3rd Bishop of Antioch but the 2nd whereas by the 4th century Eusebius clearly did consider St Ignatius as such. The understanding of these and many other things e.g. the Trinity was unclear in the early Church (cf Justin Martyr's presentation of the Triad) thats all part of the development of doctrine. People realised certain truths but they did not have a clear understanding of them until the era of consolidation.

For example the non-canonical genuine acts of Sts Peter and Paul from the 2nd century clearly envisions the relationship betweent he former and the latter as that of an Archbishop to his suffragan Bishop. The work doesn't explicitly call Peter, Bishop of Rome, but he is most certainly in charge of the Roman church and preoccupied with controversy with Simon Magus.

Moreover Alex you surprise me with your statement that the Apostles could not have remained as such had they taken up episcopal Sees. This not only defies hundreds of years of tradition not merely Roman tradition but of many other ancient sees e.g. Ephesus but concrete and documented examples some of which should be close to your heart e.g. St Methodius of the Slavs. Being a resident Bishop doesn't prevent you from being a missionary.

As you well know it was the practice once upon a time to ordain missionary clerics as Bishops who would set up Sees in their field of mission when they arrived and organise the local church as we see the Apostles doing throughout Acts. St Boniface's episcopal title as Archbishop of Mainz did not prevent him from being Apostle to the Germans etc.

Since the consolidation of the doctrine in the Nicene era it has been understood by East and West generally that St Peter was Bishop first at Antioch then at Rome. Hence the Old Roman calendar had the feast of the chair of St Peter at Antioch as well as the chair of St Peter at Rome. The Orthodox Patriarchs of Antioch list Peter as the first Bishop of their See and they have every right to. Likewise we list St Peter as the first Bishop of Rome and St Paul besides him as organiser of the early Roman church. And on account of this do the foundations of the Roman church stands as St Ireneaus makes clear.
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/03/06 06:03 PM
Dear Myles,

But to be a Bishop in charge of a flock means, in the ancient canons, to be "static" that is, not to move.

A bishop who is in such a position can indeed be a missionary and even MUST be, especially if he is to convert remaining vestiges of paganism etc. as was often the case.

But the Apostles clearly preached the Gospel, nurtured local Churches and consecrated bishops for them before moving on.

At no time did they remain as bishops of the Sees they founded and the only thing that stopped them from going elsewhere was, of course, martyrdom.

Again, if there are any ancient witnesses that attest to Sts Peter and Paul ever being the first "Bishops of Rome" as opposed to having ordained the first Bishops there, please let us know! smile

And I'm happy I can still surprise people at my age (50 on March 29th . . .)

Posted By: Myles Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/03/06 07:14 PM
How ancient do they have to be? Eusebius, Socrates Scholasticus and Sozomen if I remember corrtectly all say Peter was the first Bishop of Rome.

PS) Is it not also true that a Bishop can transfer Sees?
Posted By: Myles Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/04/06 12:00 AM
I know you're gone for Lent but I'll leave these here for you for when you return. I have cited no authorities later than the 4th century and excluded quotations from the Roman Pontiff's themselves.

For they say that all the early teachers and the apostles received and taught what they now declare, and that the truth of the Gospel was preserved until the times of Victor, who was the thirteenth bishop of Rome from Peter, but that from his successor, Zephyrinus, the truth had been corrupted. --early 3nd century authority cited by Eusebius, Church History 5:28:3
In this chair in which he himself had sat, Peter in mighty Rome commanded Linus, the first elected, to sit down. After him, Cletus too accepted the flock of the fold. As his successor, Anacletus was elected by lot. Clement follows him, well-known to apostolic men. After him Evaristus ruled the flock without crime. Alexander, sixth in succession, commends the fold to Sixtus. After his illustrious times were completed, he passed it on to Telesphorus.--Poem against the Marcionites 276-284 (A.D. 267)
[In the second] year of the two hundredth and fifth Olympiad (A.D. 42): The apostle Peter, after he has established the church in Antioch, is sent to Rome, where he remains as a bishop of that city, preaching the gospel for twenty-five years--Eusbeius, The Chronicle (A.D. 303).
You cannot deny that you are aware that in the city of Rome the episcopal chair was given first to Peter; the chair in which Peter sat, the same who was head�that is why he is also called Cephas �of all the apostles; the one chair in which unity is maintained by all--Optatus, The Schism of the Donatists 2:2 (A.D. 367)
At Rome the first apostles and bishops were Peter and Paul, then Linus, then Cletus, then Clement, the contemporary of Peter and Paul--Epiphanius of Salamis, Medicine Chest Against All Heresies 27:6 (A.D. 375).
Simon Peter the son of John, from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, brother of Andrew the apostle, and himself chief of the apostles, after having been bishop of the Church of Antioch and having preached to the Dispersion�the believers in circumcision, in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia�pushed on to Rome in the second year of Claudius to over-throw Simon Magus, and held the sacerdotal chair there for twenty-five years until the last, that is the fourteenth, year of Nero--St Jerome, On Illustrious Men 1 (A.D. 396)
Posted By: incognitus Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/04/06 12:22 AM
Those who seem to think that any connection between the Emperor and the Pope is purely coincidental might refresh their memories as to the last time a Papal election was successfully vetoed - and by whom!

Dear Alex,
Please by all means invite me for Roast Hus!

Posted By: Pavel Ivanovich Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/04/06 12:37 AM
Yes St Pius X cut that out after Austria used it's veto in the conclave that elected him. I think Spain and France also may have had the veto and possibly one or two others.

Posted By: Apotheoun Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/07/06 09:57 AM
On the issue of the Apostles as bishops I basically agree with Alex, because the most ancient way of understanding apostolic succession is that the bishops are successors of the Apostles, but that the Apostles were not necessarily bishops.

All of the Apostles had a universal mission in the Church, while their successors the bishops were appointed by them to a fixed location or See.

Now, as far as the primacy of the Pope is concerned, I do not see any problem at all with an acceptance of that doctrine by Eastern Christians (whether Eastern Catholic or Eastern Orthodox), but the Vatican I doctrine of universal jurisdiction really does not appear to coincide with the faith of the ancient Church.

On the issue of papal jurisdiction and primacy, I think that Ratzinger was right when he said that, "Rome must not require more from the East with respect to the doctrine of primacy than had been formulated and was lived in the first millennium." [Cardinal Ratzinger, "Principles of Catholic Theology," page 199]
Posted By: Pavel Ivanovich Re: Ecumenical Council Authority - 03/07/06 01:05 PM
Or that the number of Apostles has blown out over the 2 thousand years, as the ranks swelled and new men joined up and others moved on it death. Thats my view of the Bishops/Apostles. I see they started doing this when they replaced Judas.

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