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You are Peter: a critical analysis of the Orthodox view of papal primacy in view of an alternative way of exercising papal primacy.

I. Introduction

Written in Latin, around the base of the big dome in the interior of Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome, are the following words: Tu es Petrus et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam et tibi dabo claves regni caelorum. This phrase is an extract from Mt. 16:17-19, which presents Jesus' words to the apostle Peter: "I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.... I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven." (1) It is clear that this inscription is indicative of the mission entrusted to Peter. Very often in Roman Catholic circles--and not without criticism--reference has been made to this text in support of papal primacy. (2) Papal ministry, which is considered a symbol and instrument of the church's unity, has paradoxically turned out to be a stumbling block on the road toward such unity. (3) This is so partly because of the manner in which papal ministry understands itself and has exercised its authority down through the centuries. (4) Orthodox theologians such as Mesrob Krikorian, emeritus archbishop of the Armenian Apostolic Church, have consistently criticized the traditional Catholic understanding and the practice of primacy as having evolved from being a ministry of service to an instrument of power and authority. (5) The many criticisms levied against this ministry indicate the need for thoroughgoing revision of its understanding and exercise.

Traditionally speaking, papal primacy has often been linked with the primacy of the city of Rome as the head of the world (caput mundi). Rome was considered to be caput mundi because of a number of factors, such as "the dignity of Rome as the only apostolic church in the West, the tradition that both Peter and Paul had been martyred there, the long history of Rome as capital of the Empire, and its continuing position as the chief center of commerce and communications." (6) Consequently, up until today, the Church of Rome and its bishop are considered as representing the unity and universality of the church. According to Francis Dvornik, there are two principles that shaped the understanding of primacy in the Western and Oriental churches. While the Western Church stresses the "principle of apostolicity," the Oriental Church emphasizes the "principle of accommodation" in the organization of the church. (7) This means that whereas the church Fathers in the West stressed the primacy of the see of Rome on the basis of the apostolic and Petrine origin of the see, the Oriental Fathers emphasized the significance of the sees of Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria based on modeling the ecclesiastical organization after the political system of the imperial provinces. Therefore, in the West, the "principle of apostolicity" gave popes uncontested authority to govern, judge, and issue decrees to all holy churches of God throughout the world. (8) Historians believe that not only Christ but also holy councils bestowed such prerogative on the Holy See.

This essay, therefore, undertakes a critical examination of the Orthodox understanding of primacy, in view of proposing a model of papal primacy befitting the contemporary ecumenical situation. I will argue that the model of primacy fitting for the third millennium is the "primacy in communion." In view of this, I shall proceed in four steps: first, I shall present the Roman Catholic understanding of papal primacy. Second, I shall present the Orthodox understanding of authority in general and primacy in particular. Third, I shall examine the Orthodox understanding of papal primacy in order to propose a new way for papal primacy to be understood and exercised. Finally, I shall offer an alternative model of exercising papal ministry. The question that lurks in the background of this study is: In the light of Orthodox criticisms regarding papal primacy, what could be the most appropriate model of papal primacy in the contemporary ecumenical situation? (9) Let us begin with the Roman Catholic view of papal primacy.

II. Roman Catholic Understanding of Papal Primacy

Papal primacy is a thorny issue in the Roman Catholic Church ad intra and ad extra. (10) It is not a surprise, therefore, that papal primacy has become a favorite subject in recent ecumenical dialogues. Two reasons may help to explain why this is so. First, there is a growing need for a clear theological basis for "papal primacy"; this has been occasioned in turn by the rise of new methods and skills of biblical scholarship coupled with a renewed ecumenical dispensation. Second, and more importantly, the day-to-day functioning of papal primacy has raised pertinent questions, many of which have to do with the prestige and power that are associated with this ministry. Hence, for example, the former archbishop of San Francisco, John Quinn, in 1999 published a book titled The Reform of the Papacy, in which he lamented a lack of consultation and the centralization of power to the curia leading to what he called a "self-seeking" type of papacy in the Catholic Church. He maintained that the papacy needs to undergo thorough reform to allow for "[c]ollegiality, participation of the laity, decentralization, and greater openness to diversity." (11) With regard to the participation of the laity, Quinn called for consultation of the laity in the appointment of bishops. The pope's appointment of bishops by consulting merely the clergy at the expense of the laity contributes to poorly received and ineffective bishops. Hence, Quinn pleaded for aggionamento in the self-understanding and function of papal ministry, in the light of the renewed ecumenical dispensation.

Each time a problem has arisen in the church, it seems to have created not only a new form of exercising papal primacy but also a new self-understanding of Petrine ministry. For example, the formation of the dogma of papal infallibility in Vatican I was occasioned by the traumatic separation between the Council of Basel and the pope in the fifteenth century. (12) Consequently, the anticonciliarist authors decided to formulate the notion of papal infallibility in matters of faith and morals. (13) Therefore, in an effort to cope with new problems and challenges, the Petrine ministry acquired new features that originally did not belong to its esse. (14) Keeping this in mind, let us now turn briefly to the Roman Catholic view of papal primacy, beginning with Vatican I.

A. The Understanding of Papal Primacy in Vatican I

From the classical Catholic tradition, the primacy of the pope is closely linked to the faith of Peter and his preaching in Rome as a representative of the twelve apostles of Jesus. (15) This is self-evident in the "First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ" (Pastor aeternus) of Vatican I, in which is the locus classicus of the teaching of papal primacy. Accordingly, on the basis of the Scripture, the council Fathers asserted: "We teach and declare that, according to the gospel evidence, a primacy of jurisdiction over the whole church of God was immediately and directly promised to the blessed apostle Peter and conferred on him by Christ the lord." (16) This statement reflects some biblical overtones. Indeed, as mentioned earlier, it is customary in the Roman Catholic tradition for one to appeal to the "Petrine texts" whenever one is speaking about authority in the church. These texts are: "you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it" (Mt. 16:17-19); "but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers" (Lk. 22:32); (17) and "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these.... Feed my lambs" (Jn. 21:15-17). Thus, Lk. 22:32 was particularly used by Vatican I in support of papal infallibility. (18) However, Peter De Mey has argued that "convergence texts from within the ecumenical movement make it clear that Lk 22:27--'I am among you as one who serves'--is more referred to than Lk 22:32." (19) This, already, shows a paradigm shift in the understanding of authority in the church. These three texts ate situated in the context of the Last Supper and the Resurrection of Jesus. Therefore, the texts turned out to be an inspiration for the early church--and recently the Munich Document--to make eucharistic celebration a basis of ecclesiality of the local church and to express its communion with all other churches. (20) Similarly, Vatican II found it favorable to appeal to Mt. 16:17-19 in support of papal primacy. At a critical point, the council Fathers asserted:
 It was to Simon alone, to whom he had already said: "You shall be
 called Cephas," that the Lord, after his confession, "You are the
 Christ, the son of the living God" spoke these words: "Blessed are
 you, Simon Bar-Jona. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to
 you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter,
 and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the
 underworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys
 of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be
 bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in
 heaven." (21)


All these Petrine texts beg the question whether James could not also have been given such a privilege and authority, considering his roles as chair of the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:13-17) as well as overseer of the see of Jerusalem. Even John was a beloved disciple of Jesus who is said to have reclined next to Jesus during the Last Supper (Jn. 21:20). It is about John that Jesus said "[i]f it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?" (Jn. 21:21). That is not all; "the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first" (Jn. 20:1 8) also refers to John. In addition, Paul had a revelation and a specific mission on behalf of Christ. Yet, none of these is said to have received the privilege accorded to Peter. Arguing along this line, Abbe Guettee contends that "[i]t is not possible to sustain the doctrine that the power of the keys was granted exclusively to St. Peter, for Jesus gave it to all of them at the same time, employing the same terms that he had used in promising it to St. Peter (Mtt 18:18); moreover, he promised to all the Apostles collectively, not to Peter, to be with them until the end of the world." (22)

It is important to note that, for Guettee, since the words said to Peter were not said to him alone but to the whole college of twelve, Peter received the power with the other apostles. Therefore, for him, "the papal interpretation of the famous text Tu es Petrus is as contrary to the Scripture as it is to the Catholic tradition." (23) Contrary to this interpretation, however, the Vatican I Fathers stated that the bishop of Rome, who is also de facto the pope, has jurisdiction over the universal church as the "prince of the apostles," true "successor" of Peter, "vicar" of Christ, head of the whole church, and "father" and "teacher" of the church. All these qualities are carried over in full from the sixth session of the Council of Florence. The Vatican I Fathers therefore stressed that,
 supported by the clear witness of holy scripture, and adhering to
 the manifest and explicit decrees both of our predecessors the
 Roman pontiffs and of general councils, we promulgate anew the
 definition of the ecumenical council of Florence, which must be
 believed by all faithful Christians, namely that the apostolic see
 and the Roman pontiff hold a world-wide primacy, and that the Roman
 pontiff is the successor of blessed Peter, the prince of the
 apostles, true vicar of Christ, head of the whole church and father
 and teacher of all christian people. To him, in blessed Peter, full
 power has been given by our lord Jesus Christ to tend, rule and
 govern the universal church. All this is to be found in the acts of
 the ecumenical councils and the sacred canons. (24)


Vatican I further maintained that the powers of the pope are immediate and ordinary. Moreover, Pastor aeternus states explicitly that the bishop of Rome is not the bishop of any other local church. Nevertheless, in the West, the relationship between the bishop of Rome and the ecumenical synods is not clearly defined, as Avery Dulles bore witness: "Vatican I, which placed supreme authority in the pope, left some uncertainty regarding the relations between the papacy, the universal episcopate, and ecumenical councils (which are not necessarily mete meetings of bishops). Since this uncertainty was not fully cleared up by Vatican II, the question of the supreme directive power in the Church still requires further discussion within the Roman Catholic communion." (25)

Comprehensively, then, Vatican I maintained with regard to papal primacy that this office is divinely instituted, universal, permanent, and infallible in matters of faith and morals. The document Pastor aeternus bears witness to this fact. These elements mark the whole of traditional Catholic understanding of primacy, although these elements are currently understood differently. Paradoxically, these same elements turn out to haunt this institution and tender it a stumbling block toward full ecclesial unity. Vatican I, as Quinn pointed out, presents a maximalist position with regard to papal primacy, for it maintains "that there is only one teacher in the Church, the Pope." (26) This maximalist position, although not bad in itself, calls for a principle that will involve the other bishops, who govern together with the pope. This principle is to be found in the decree on the church of Vatican II.

B. Vatican II's Understanding of Papal Primacy

We can gain insight from the fact that Vatican II (1962-65), through its decree Lumen gentium, situated the ministry of the pope within the "One People of God." Through this decree, Vatican II led us to understand the nature of the Petrine ministry, not only within the context of "communion ecclesiology" but also within the tradition of "apostolic succession." Here, one's thoughts turn to L.G. 20, which states:
 This divine mission, entrusted by Christ to the apostles, will
 continue to the end of the world ..., since the gospel which is to
 be handed on by them is for all time the principle of all life for
 the church. For this reason the apostles, within this
 hierarchically structured society, took care to arrange for the
 appointment of successors....

 ... Just as the office that was given individually by the Lord to
 Peter, the first of the apostles, is permanent and meant to be
 handed on to his successors, so also the office of the apostles of
 nourishing the church is a permanent one that is to be carried out
 without interruption by the sacred order of bish(27)
 ops.


It is very significant that, as a shift from Vatican I, L.G. 25 attributes infallibility not to the pope alone but to the whole college of bishops, However, this note of infallibility was not attributed to each individual bishop but to the whole body of bishops under Peter (sub Petro) and with Peter (cum Petro). The council first proclaimed the infallibility of the bishops before treating the infallibility of the pope. Hence, L.G. states:
 Although individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of
 infallibility, nevertheless, even though dispersed throughout the
 world, but maintaining the bond of communion among themselves and
 with the successor of Peter, when in teaching authentically matters
 concerning faith and morals they agree about a judgment as one that
 has to be definitively held, they infallibly pro claim the teaching
 of Christ. This takes place even more clearly when they are
 gathered together in an ecumenical council and are the teachers and
 judges of faith and morals for the whole church. Their definitions
 must be adhered to with the obedience of faith. (28)


Having defined the collegial infallibility, the council proceeded to reaffirm the infallibility of the pope. Accordingly, "The Roman pontiff, head of the college of bishops, by virtue of his office, enjoys this infallibility when, as supreme shepherd and teacher of all Christ's faithful, who confirms his brethren in the faith ..., he proclaims in a definitive act a doctrine on faith or morals." (29) This order of proclamation has a lot to say: Specifically, it intends to extend papal infallibility first to the college of bishops, a prerogative previously reserved only for the pope. (30) This was, in my own opinion, a subtle change and development in the understanding of primacy. Another subtle change is to be found in L.G. 27, which refers to bishops as "vicars of Christ" for the first time. This nuance corresponds to the Orthodox understanding that Christ founded the church, not on the faith of Peter alone, but on the faith of all twelve apostles.

From the foregoing, therefore, it is abundantly clear that Vatican II still placed the successor of Peter in a special position not only in the college of bishops but also in the universal church as a "pole of unity." This was, as Jean-Marie Tillard observed and as the Vatican II Fathers perceived, in keeping with the esteemed apostolic tradition. More still, this position was held against the background of history. (31) The Catholic tradition has constantly believed that divine providence (divina providientia) has always used this office to bring about unity in the church. (32) Tillard further observed that "the history of human weakness in the exercise of the ministry is itself not an argument against the possibility that such an office is used by providence to serve unity." (33) Finally, I concur with Tillard's argument that, paradoxically, the divisions that prevail among our churches bear witness to the need for such ministry of unity.

C. Ut Unum Sint on Papal Primacy

John Paul II, in his apostolic letter Ut unum sint, appealed to the Petrine texts already mentioned, namely, Mt. 16:17-19 and Jn. 21:15-19. (34) At the background of these texts, the pope was fully aware that primacy is a spiky issue both within and outside the Roman Catholic Church. Consequently, in this letter, he ardently called on theologians and other Christians to contribute ideas as to how they would wish papal primacy to be understood and exercised. (35) Therefore, he set forward a challenge to theologians:
 Could not the real but imperfect communion existing between us
 persuade Church leaders and their theologians to engage with me in
 a patient and fraternal dialogue on this subject, a dialogue in
 which, leaving useless controversies behind, we could listen to one
 another, keeping before us only the will of Christ for his Church
 and allowing ourselves to be deeply moved by his plea "that they
 may all be one ... so that the world may believe that you have sent
 me" (Jn 17:21)? (36)


In an attempt to respond to this ardent call, some Orthodox as well as Roman Catholic theologians came up with proposals regarding this thorny issue. Many commentators appreciate this openness and readiness to review the understanding and exercise of papal primacy. For example, Krikorian observed with regard to papal primacy that in Ut unum sint one finds already "a new language and a reconciling spirit." Moreover, he applauded the fact that John Paul II went an extra mile; instead of using the term "primacy," the pope preferred to use terms such as "ministry of unity," "ministry of mercy," and "service of unity." (37) It is striking, however, that in the preceding lines the pope already held a plea not to separate jurisdiction from this ministry. (38) In this regard, Quinn asserted that renewal of the Petrine ministry is one of "the costly call[s] to Christian unity." (39) Therefore, a renewed understanding of papal primacy is of central importance for the attainment of unity among our churches.

Furthermore, the letter states that "the bishop of Rome exercises a ministry originating in the manifold mercy of God" (40) and adds, "The authority proper to this ministry is completely at the service of God's merciful plan and it must always be seen in this perspective." (41) Strikingly, the nature of the power of the bishop of Rome is, in my opinion, not sufficiently explained. Thus, the ministry of unity of the bishop of Rome is merely described as one that leads the flock "towards peaceful pastures," not "exercising power over the people." (42) Nevertheless, I believe this is a very good and positive insight that portrays papal primacy as a ministry of service and not domination. Strikingly, however, this remains largely so in principle, rather than in fact, and thus it is far from being fully realized. Moreover, the question of how this power will be realized is not yet addressed. (43) Toward the end of the paragraph, one finds some principles concerning the areas and forms of primacy exercised at various levels:
 With the power and the authority without which such an office
 would be illusory, the Bishop of Rome must ensure the communion of
 all the Churches. For this reason, he is the first servant of
 unity. This primacy is exercised on various levels, including
 vigilance over the handing down of the Word, the celebration of the
 Liturgy and the Sacraments, the Church's mission, discipline and
 the Christian life. It is the responsibility of the Successor of
 Peter to recall the requirements of the common good of the Church,
 should anyone be tempted to overlook it in the pursuit of personal
 interests. He has the duty to admonish, to caution and to declare
 at times that this of that opinion being circulated is
 irreconcilable with the unity of faith When circumstances require
 it, he speaks in the name of all the Pastors in communion with him.
 He can also--under very specific conditions clearly laid down by
 the First Vatican Council--declare ex cathedra that a certain
 doctrine belongs to the deposit of faith. By thus bearing witness
 to the truth, he serves unity. (44)


This paragraph stipulates the roles of papal power and authority, and chief among them is the ministry of unity. The pope also has the duty to reproach, caution, and affirm. However, according to Nicolas Lossky and in the whole of Oriental Orthodox tradition, the primary and primordial role of primacy is "service of unity," and undeniably the duty of primacy is to admonish and caution. (45) Once more, the pope's role is important and necessary if it is carried out in the spirit of conciliarity and collegiality together with bishops or patriarchs of other churches. (46) This is what Orthodox theologians refer to as "sobornost," or free unity of the members of the church in their common understanding of truth and finding salvation together. However, the problem on the Roman Catholic side arises from the fact that some of the previously mentioned duties are not carried out in a collegial spirit.

By way of conclusion, one could well argue that, in principle, in the Roman Catholic tradition all bishops have equal status and dignity. However, one stands as the successor of Peter, namely, the pope. The pope is at the same time the local ordinary of Rome, the leader of all bishops and the whole church, and his powers are therefore considered supreme, immediate, universal, and ordinary. (47) However, these roles should be understood in the context of "service" of unity and love, for, taken out of this context, they obliterate the primordial role of this ministry. Undoubtedly, the stance of Ut unum sint can be considered a Copernican revolution of papal primacy, which strives to restore this institution to its primordial model of service and love rather than domination. Thus, Ut unum sint is a clear indication that Vatican I's juridical primacy was not the last word on this issue. (48) The letter is an invitation to enter into a patient and fraternal dialogue in order to offer an alternative way of exercising primacy that is open to the contemporary situation. In response to this invitation, several Orthodox theologians have offered some alternative ways of understanding and exercising primacy in the church. At this juncture, therefore, we will examine some of these proposed models of papal primacy.

III. The Orthodox Understanding of Papal Primacy

As a preliminary remark, l shall indicate that, in the Orthodox tradition, distinctions are made among papal primacy, infallibility, and episcopal collegiality. Whereas papal primacy refers to the preeminent position bestowed on the bishop of Rome in relation to the bishops by virtue of being the successor of Peter, papal infallibility denotes the power vested on the bishop of Rome by which he pronounces certain teachings pertaining to the faith and morals in a binding manner. Episcopal collegiality refers to the relationship between the pope and the other bishops according to which the two constitute a teaching college in the Catholic Church. These three aspects of the papacy seem to receive separate treatment in Orthodox theology. Contemporary Orthodox theologians consider the authority of the pope in terms of papal primacy and episcopal collegiality, but they reject the issue of papal infallibility.

As we begin our analysis of the Orthodox view on papal primacy, let us focus on some pertinent questions. First, what idea of primacy does the Orthodox tradition have? We shall also answer the question of whether it is possible to justify the juridical independence of the pope from the college of bishops of which he is head. Finally, we shall consider the ecumenically accepted rights (of diakonia) and limits (of exousia) of the bishop of Rome. Thus, I present here the Orthodox view on primacy, so that, in turn, this understanding will serve as a point of contrast to the arrangement of papal primacy in the Western Church. However, before moving on, let us have a brief overview of the Orthodox understanding of authority in general.

A. Authority from an Orthodox Perspective

The Orthodox view of primacy is better understood, in my opinion, against the background of the Orthodox view of authority. Thus, Orthodox churches believe that "authority like law is obviously needed only as long as man lives in the flesh and blood." (49) The Orthodox tradition, however, has an apophatic understanding of authority, that is, all authority originates from God and there is no authority that is not first given by God. Insofar as all authority originates from God, it necessarily follows that every authority is a participation in the divine authority. So conceived, then, authority becomes an act of loving service. On this point, the Orthodox tradition criticizes the West for "having transformed the notion of authority into a system of external power." (50) Consequently, authority in the West is said to have evolved from loving service to the exercise of power over the subjects, to the effect that the master-subject divide marks the structure of authority. (51)

What is more, Orthodox theologians often make a distinction between the authority flowing from the apostles and that which flows from the Holy Spirit as the guardian of the church. The theologians argue that the two imply each other, since the spirit does not contradict witness, and in turn witness cannot be practiced outside the framework of the Holy Spirit's activity in the community. (52) Understandably, therefore, as John Meyendorff (1936-72) argued, in the East apostolicity is never considered a source of authority in the church. (53) This is so partly because, in the Eastern Church as opposed to the Western, authority is organized locally, that is, through the local bishop and his local eucharistic community. (54) This constitutes one of the major differences in the understanding of authority between the Eastern and Western churches.

Further, with regard to authority, John Zizioulas (b. 1931) has held that the present worldwide "crisis of authority arises from the classical notion of auctoritas," which understands authority as an external reality that imposes itself on the subjects. (55) This is a juridical conception of authority that demands obedience from the subjects. Unfortunately, nowadays, this form of authority has already encroached on the church. Accordingly, Zizioulas concedes that God is the source of all authority (Roto. 13:l-7). However, Zizioulas has categorically maintained that one cannot apply the notion of auctoritas to God. On the contrary, he contends that we are bound to God's authority by means of our existential relationship with God, through the Spirit within the community. (56) Following Zizioulas's line of thought, all authority in the church ought not to claim power above the community but, instead, act under the Spirit and in communion with the members of the community (laos). (57) Admittedly, Zizioulas has held that the church as an institution needs authority that can maintain unity, but even this authority ought to pass through and be received by the community. Thus, for him, authority in the church is a relational concept. (58) Apart from maintaining unity, Zizioulas has argued, it is the task of authority to maintain freedom in the community; authority should be able to guarantee both unity and freedom to the community members. Such freedom, however, "is not freedom from or freedom to choose between what is good and evil, but humankind's ability to grow in the life of God." (59) Seemingly, Zizioulas is aware of the provisional nature of the fullness of such freedom, that it is an eschatological reality transcending this historical time. Nevertheless, freedom is also a reality that, in a sense, we share hic et nunc by virtue of our communion with God. (60) Genuine authority in the church, therefore, needs to enhance and promote such freedom. In short, the Orthodox view of authority in the church clearly reveals the direction that papal primacy could and should take. Indeed, all authority comes from God, and its chief purpose is loving service to the unity of faith and freedom of the children of God, through the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

B. The Orthodox Understanding of Papal Primacy

In order to gain an objective view of the Orthodox understanding of primacy, it is important to pay attention to "primacy" as understood from the wider perspective of the primacies of the patriarchates of the East and their role in the universal church. Several Orthodox theologians, including Meyendorff, have given their views on this subject. Meyendorff proposed that "the Church structures were not shaped by the Church authoritative decrees but grew out of the very nature of the Church itself." (61) This means that papal primacy, as willed by God, grew out of the needs of the church for service of freedom and unity of faith. It seems that Meyendorff's condescending attitude was directed toward the Western criterion that claims that universal ecclesial primacies developed out of the "apostolic foundation." (62) As ah example, Meyendorff cited the Alexandria patriarchate that surpassed not only Jerusalem but also the "apostolic Antioch," despite their "apostolic" prestige. This rise was based on certain pragmatic and historical reasons. (63) In the West, Rome is given the prestige of the church as the "First Rome" based on the apostolic tradition. (64) Unquestionably, Meyendorff conceded that, although papal primacy has no scriptural basis, it is nevertheless a necessary ministry and thus not a matter of expediency. He further argued that this ministry has to be in conformity with that which is acceptable to the faithful. (65) As for the universality of this ministry, Meyendorff believed that there could never be a middle ground; it is either universal or it is not at all. The move by Meyendorff and the whole Orthodox tradition not to base papal primacy on the scriptures reveals that this ministry exists merely by consensus down through history and for mete pragmatic motives. Understandably, Meyendorff has a pastoral concern and thus a pastoral-oriented model of papal primacy. The nature of primacy in the Orthodox tradition as Lossky indeed noted "is defined as a 'center of communion' and in no way as a notion to be identified with a form of 'supreme power,' a notion incompatible with the nature of the Church as Body of Christ." (66) Primacy, he adds, is an "expression of the unity in faith and life of all local Churches, of their living and efficient koinonia." (67)

The starting point for ah understanding of the Orthodox view on primacy is Orthodox ecclesiology, according to which "the faithful coming together as Church (epi to auto), becoming the body of Christ in the Eucharist and becoming one out of many" (68) constitute a unity personified by the bishop (primus) presiding over the eucharist. (69) As John Erickson has argued, this eucharistic assembly under the bishop is, in the Orthodox view, the church in all its fullness and thus not just a part of the universal church. (70) One fact can be derived from this understanding of equality of local churches: the equal dignity and honor of their respective bishops. However, this equality of the local churches and their bishops does not thereby imply uniformity but, rather, a "reconciled diversity."

From these equal bishops there arises a council of bishops and the first (protos), one among them, who presides over it. (71) This presidency may be based upon the apostolic tradition, the glory of martyrdom and the suffering of Christ, geographical advantages, size, of wealth. However, none of these factors ontologically constitutes such presidency. Thus, all the bishops must acknowledge the first bishop and always consult him before taking any decision of great importance. The protos should also consult with his brother bishops. (72) In the Orthodox understanding, the Petrine ministry is primordially a ministry of service or diakonia.

Furthermore, the Orthodox tradition makes a threefold distinction with regard to primacy. First, there is a distinction between primacy as derived from custom and canonical or conciliar recognition of this practice. Second, a distinction is made between recognition of primacy in fact and in law, and the scriptural-theological motivations involved in its justification. Third, there is a distinction between recognition of primacy and the actual ways in which it is to be carried out. The Orthodox tradition, moreover, designates the title protos to every leader at every level of the church, from the local to the universal church, and not only to the president of the council but also the presbyters, primates of every metropolis, patriarchates, each ethnic and national church, and the bishops of all provinces. (73) The precise reason militating against such a view is that, in the Orthodox understanding, conciliarity and primacy are theological building blocks of the communion of the church.

At this juncture, we can gain insight from paying attention to the views of Zizioulas with regard to primacy. Like Meyendorff, Zizioulas has affirmed the necessity of primacy while emphasizing the need of the primus to be part of the community under his care. Therefore, Zizioulas rhetorically asks:
 Can there be unity of the Church without primacy on the local,
 regional and the universal levels in an ecclesiology of communion?
 We believe not. For it is through a head, some kind of primus that
 the many, be it individual Christians of local Churches can speak
 with one voice. But a primus must be part of the community, not a
 self-defined, but a true relational ministry can only act together
 with the heads of the rest of the local churches whose consensus it
 would express. (74)


From this statement, some features that stand in contrast to the Western understanding of primacy appear, that is, primacy as a local and regional reality and the primus as part of the community. (75) While the first element is partly neglected, the latter is often compromised. Thus, Zizioulas has been careful to situate primacy within the context of communion ecclesiology. Consequently, papal primacy, being at the center of communion ecclesiology, must not understand itself as above the local ecclesial communities. On the contrary, this ministry must involve the community at every level of the church. Zizioulas has further added that Orthodox tradition does not have a universal concept of primacy; it understands primacy only in a regional sense. It is striking that Zizioulas took a step further from what one would call "honorary primacy" to a model of primacy that gives a theological status to the synod of bishops, (76) noting that such primacy must not be absolute; the protos must not do anything without the other bishops, nor can they do anything without the protos. (77) Here, Zizioulas based himself on the Code of Canon Law of the Eastern Churches (Canon 34), which states: "The bishops of each nation must know who is first among them and acknowledge him as their head; they are to do nothing of weight without his opinion and let every one of them look after the affairs of every diocese and regions depending thereon. But neither let him do anything without the advice of all and thus, concord will prevail to the glory of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." (78)

In short, Zizioulas has pleaded for a decentralized, consensual, and relational model of primacy. This model is fundamentally principalitas and non dominatio, one that is oriented toward service, not domination or supremacy. Such papal primacy is thus a type of primacy that exercises itself within the confines of communion of the church.

Undoubtedly, as Krikorian has argued, Zizioulas's model of primacy stands in contrast to the Roman Catholic one, according to which the pope has jurisdiction that is at times void of the spirit of service and relationality. Nevertheless, unlike Zizioulas, Krikorian is one of the few Orthodox theologians who still holds for the "primacy of honor," or primus inter pares. (79) What is more, Orthodox ecclesiology has consistently maintained that each of the twelve apostles was given the same mandate to continue the mission of Christ. Consequently, at the level of the local church, "each bishop becomes the successor of the apostles." (80) So understood, therefore, just as each of the apostles is of equal honor and rank, their successors--patriarchs and catholicoi--possess the same, equal honor and rank within their respective churches. (81)

C. The Twofold Model of Primacy

Many Orthodox theologians criticize the Catholic understanding and practice of papal primacy as having evolved from ministry of "service" to symbol and instrument of power. However, they are not satisfied with criticizing papal primacy; instead, they contribute creatively by suggesting some practical alternative models of primacy in the church. One of them, once more, is Zizioulas, who has asserted that both primacy and conciliarity have their place in communion ecclesiology because both are fruits of the one and the many, which marks the church's existence. (82) Moreover, he has stated that "[p]rimacy is ... a 'sine qua non conditio' for the catholicity of the Church." (83) However, like Meyendorff, he has conceded that primacy is in the first place a reality of the local church and that it is also a regional phenomenon. (84) The exercise of the model of primacy is based upon the consent and participation of the local or universal community. In Zizioulas's understanding, there must be simultaneity of the universal church and local churches, the patriarch and local bishops. By "simultaneity," he means thereby "that all the bishops of the region (ephanos) must recognize their first one (protos) as their head (kephale) and do nothing without him, while they should equally do nothing without him." (85)

Fundamentally, with regard to primacy of the bishop of Rome, Zizioulas is strongly convinced that there exist two alternative ways in which this primacy could be exercised, that is, understanding and practicing it in the traditional sense of the "Byzantine pentarchy" of as universal primacy. (86) First, an understanding of primacy in the traditional sense means that the bishop of Rome is first of primus only in the West and has no primacy whatsoever over the test of the worldwide church except the Catholic Churches of the East. The challenge of such ah arrangement of primacy is that it does not sufficiently take into consideration the fate of the Catholic Churches, which did not exist at the time of the Byzantine pentarchy. The question is: Where will these churches belong in terms of primacy? (87) Another challenge would be the theological justification of such a model of primacy. Moreover, it is difficult to understand how one can suggest a mode of leadership of the first century for the third millennium. Even if some features of such a model are still useful, one cannot but assert that proposing such a model to a new situation without qualifications is a naive act. (88) By far, such an arrangement is repugnant for the sort of primacy befitting the third millennium. (89) Therefore, although the limitation of the primacy of Rome would be, without doubt, acceptable to the Orthodox tradition, this attempt is not without its underside as seen from the ecclesial problems that arise from it.

In the second instance, Zizioulas advocates for a universal primacy, which can only be acceptable to the Orthodox tradition on condition that it is fundamentally qualified. He thus qualifies it under four main conditions. In the first place, universal primacy should not be a primacy of jurisdiction:
 The reason for this is that the exercise of jurisdiction means
 interference with the affairs of a local church and this means the
 destruction or negation of its catholicity and ecclesial integrity.
 This, as we noted, has not been allowed to any institution, be it
 the council or the patriarchate or the metropolitan. The local
 church headed by its bishop must be always allowed to feel like a
 "catholic church," totally free to run its affairs as long as this
 does not interfere with the life of the other local churches. This
 is part of what it means to call, together with Vatican II, each
 particular church a full church. (90)


From this statement, Zizioulas is arguing that the local church needs to be given some ecclesial space to run its affairs, provided that they do not contradict those of other local churches. In the second place, he is asserting that "primacy should not be the prerogative of an individual but of a local church." (91) However, here we must ask: How can one guarantee that this opening of ecclesial space for each local church in handling its affairs does not contradict those of other churches? This remains a puzzle of Zizioulas's arrangement of primacy. Nevertheless, he has made a threefold distinction of primacy as the primacy of a jurisdiction (the see of Rome), the primacy of the local church, and the primacy in synodal context. In his understanding, primacy of jurisdiction is not ideal because it interferes with affairs of the local churches. (92) With regard to the second model, Zizioulas notes that local primacy is to be understood in the context of a bishop in relation to his local church. However, in this case, one should not imagine a universal church composed of bishops and the pope as standing over and above the local churches, because "the local and the universal churches ate necessarily simultaneous." (93) Both the pope and the bishops under him are but an integral part of their local churches. Therefore, the bishop of Rome should also exercise his primacy in his local church. Third, Zizioulas is suggesting that primacy should be exercised in the context of a synod, locally, regionally, as well as universally. (94) That is to say, the pope needs to exercise primacy together with the test of the bishops. Conversely, bishops should act in communion with their primus. (95) Therefore, no bishop may separate the care of his local church from that of the universal church.

According to Zizioulas's understanding, a universal model of primacy is concretely constituted in such a manner that the pope cooperates with all patriarchs and heads of autocephalous churches in all matters pertaining to the universal church in a spirit of communion. In Zizioulas's view, this cooperation between the pope and patriarchs should not be exercised "in isolation or directly over the entire Church." (96) In this case, Zizioulas suggests that the bishop of Rome would then be at once the president and the spokesperson of the entire church. (97) Hermeneutically speaking, in this kind of arrangement, however, decisions are to be arrived at by means of consensus. Therefore, communion should be exhausted at the level of heads of churches before it trickles down to the clergy and laity. So conceived, then, primacy becomes "not only 'useful' to the Church but an ecclesiastical necessity in a unified Church." (98) At this juncture, it becomes mandatory to assess the Orthodox view of nonjuridical primacy by suggesting a primacy exercised in communion.

IV. Primacy in the Context of Communion

By way of evaluation, the Orthodox arrangement of universal primacy, although appealing, has its own weaknesses. The proposed model does not take into consideration the pertinent issue of papal infallibility, alongside the attendant issues of primacy and episcopal collegiality. In fact, little variations notwithstanding, the proposed model of papal primacy for the third millennium is akin to the Roman Catholic model of papal primacy for the third millennium. Moreover, the model of primacy proposed by Zizioulas does not sufficiently take into consideration the fact that, as much as local churches require autonomy, the church universal needs a jurisdictional principle that will guarantee the unity we seek. To be more precise, the church needs unity as much as it desires freedom. This ecclesiological truism calls for a principle of unity that is capable of keeping vigilance in case anyone is tempted to overlook the unity of the faith in the pursuit of personal interests. Such a principle, however, should not be devoid of jurisdictional power. Jurisdictional power confers on the pope "the duty to admonish, to caution and to declare at times that this of that opinion being circulated is irreconcilable with the unity of faith." (99) Hence, the role of the jurisdictional aspect of the Petrine ministry, if well conceived and exercised, cannot be underestimated. It seems to me that the greatest weakness of Zizioulas's suggestion, therefore, is its jurisdictional deficit in the conception of primacy.

Against this background, we hold a plea for a "primacy in communion," according to which the pope, alongside all believers, is the custodian of communion in the church universal. The current arrangement of papal primacy allows the pope, like any other bishop, primacy in his local church. Moreover, it allows him a universal primacy based upon the principle of apostolicity. (100) It needs to be stressed, however, that without power and authority such an office would be illusory, because the bishop of Rome must ensure the communion of all the churches. (101) Therefore, the primacy in communion that I propose implies not only service in truth and love but also jurisdictional power to govern the ecumenical church. Such ah arrangement of primacy would in fact ensure both the unity of the church and also freedom for the local churches through a consultative dialogical process. This consultative process in the exercise of papal primacy, which Zizioulas does not deny, is what needs to be improved in the current form of papal primacy, in addition, the juridical aspect of primacy is indispensable for the primacy in communion. A well-balanced consultative process and a jurisdictional authority would spare the pope from exercising power over, rather than in communion with, the local church. (102) Does our plea for a primacy in communion imply that the church is rendered a democratic institution? Certainly not, since the pope will reserve certain autonomy in making decisions such as the handing down of the word of God, the celebration of the sacraments, the church's mission, discipline, and the Christian life. The highest privilege of the pope's jurisdictional power will be the principle of infallibility.

The choice of the primacy in communion rather than universal primacy is motivated by the need to propose a model that both reflects a ministry of love and at the same time allows for a dialogical jurisdiction aspect of communion. Even this communion is not a static reality but rather a dynamic and dialogical reality that is bound to change with changing context. Therefore, we may hope that if papal primacy is exercised in a spirit of communion with the church universal, the catholicity of the local church will be acknowledged and the unity of faith manifested and preserved. We may also hope that "primacy in communion" is the model of primacy that is capable of mitigating the challenges of the third millennium as well as ceasing the growing desire for the unity of the church. This is possible only if the Petrine ministry, though juridical in some respect, is driven by dialogue, consensus, relationality, collegiality, and loving service that always has the unity of the church in mind.

V. Conclusion

By way of conclusion, I will note that different voices within and without the church abhor and thus repudiate the present understanding and exercise of papal primacy. Such criticisms, although sometimes exaggerated, make us keenly aware of the problems surrounding this ministry. Nevertheless, it is almost universally conceded that the ministry of the successor of Peter is, indeed, not only important bur also necessary. In the light of these considerations, it has become abundantly clear that today there is a need for a more decentralized, consensual, relational, consultative, collegial, love-driven, service-oriented, and unity-seeking model of primacy. (103) Hence, there are urgent calls to strip the Petrine ministry of all pretensions that mark the present-day "neo-papalism." More importantly, today, the juridical dimension attached to the ministry of the successor of Peter is no longer an alibi for canceling out the ecclesial rights and dignity of the local churches. In fact, according to the Orthodox outlook, such a juridical aspect needs to be dropped altogether. Local churches, however, need to be given a voice in matters universal as well as local. This is, in the Orthodox outlook, a sort of legitimate primacy befitting the third millennium and acceptable to both churches.

However, in an attempt to propose a model of primacy that ensures not only the unity of the faith but also the diversity of ecclesial communions, I have called for a "primacy in communion." According to this model, the pope will remain the servus servum Dei in truth and unity but will also retain certain juridical authority without which he would be rendered a figurehead. We may hope that the "primacy in communion" proposed as a way forward in the exercise of papal primacy will be considered a fruitful model of primacy in the contemporary ecumenical dispensation. Under such an arrangement, the pope will retain the functions that Orthodox tradition would like to see. For example, the bishop of Rome will have the initiative to summon a synod of the universal church, preside over such a synod and his office, and coordinate the life and the witness of the church universal through a consultative process. The pope will also take the role of being a spokesperson of Christendom. In the meantime, given the emerging ecumenical situation and the new papal regime, it remains to be determined how the exercise of Petrine ministry will be reformed against the background of the proposed model and reforms.

(1) John McKenzie observed that in Mt. 16:17-19 Jesus gives Simon a new name, Peter, which comes from the Greek word petros, meaning "rock." Thus, by adding the phrase "on this rock l will build my Church," Jesus entrusts Peter with a special mission. With this phrase, Jesus expresses his intention to build his ekklesia on the foundation of Peter. However, McKenzie asserted that how this ekklesia is to be built is not explicitly clear from this scriptural pericope I, too, find ii ambiguous because the text is not explicitly clear on whether Christ wants to build the church on the "faith" of Peter or on the "person" of Peter This view is held by other biblical exegetes and thus causes many theologians not to link papal primacy to this text immediately. Therefore, from the ecumenical findings of biblical scholars, it has become increasingly clear that "the papacy in its developed form cannot be read back into the New Testament" (John McKenzie, "Mathew," in Raymond Brown et al, eds., The New Jerome Biblical Commentary [Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990], p. 92).

(2) Michael Whelton, Papal Monarch)--Collegial Tradition (Salisbury, MD: Regina Orthodox Press, 1998), p. 40.

(3) Mesrob K. Krikorian, "The Primacy of the Successor of the Apostle St. Peter form the Point of View of the Oriental Orthodox Churches," in James F. Puglisi, ed., Petrine Ministry and the Unity of the Church: "Toward a Patient and Fraternal Dialogue," A Symposium Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Foundation of the Society of the Atonement, Rome, December 4-6, 1997, A Michael Glazier Book (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1999), pp. 83-98.

(4) Arthur Carl Piepkorn, "The Roman Primacy in the Patristic Era II: From Nicaea to Leo the Great," in Paul C. Empie and T Austin Murphy, eds., Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue V Papal Primacy and the Universal Church (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 1974), p 79

(5) Krikorian, "Primacy of the Successor," pp 94-95.

(6) Avery Dulles, "Papal Authority in Roman Catholicism," in Peter J. McCord, ed., A Pope for All Christians: An Inquiry into the Role of Peter in the Modern Church (New York and Paramus, NJ: Paulist Press, 1977), p. 53 See also Francis Dvornik, Byzantium and the Roman Primacy (New York: Fordham University Press, 1966), pp. 29-31

(7) Dvornik, Byzantium, pp. 52-53.

(8) Ibid., pp. 31, 36-37.

(9) Today, Christendom witnesses a growing plurality in all spheres of life and fundamental life options. This contemporary milieu demonstrates a mode of life that is often described as unity in diversity of reconciled plurality. The new situation poses new challenges for a more plurality-conscious type of leadership, a son of leadership that is able to hold together the plural community without negating its unity.

(10) According to Quinn, the modern criticism of the pope is not foreign, it was already foreshadowed in Gal. 2:11-14. Therefore, the text maintains: "'But when Cephas [Peter] came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned; for until certain people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But after they came, he drew back ... But when I saw that they were not acting consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, "If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?"' In Paul's view, Peter has given scandal and misled even Barnabas" (John R. Quinn, The Reform of the Papacy: The Costly Call to Christian Unity, Ut Unum Sint: Studies on Papal Primacy [New York: Crossroad Publishing Co., 1999], p. 67).

(11) Ibid., p. 20.

(12) Klaus Schatz, "Historical Considerations concerning the Problem of the Primacy," in Puglisi, Petrine Ministry and the Unity of the Church, pp. 3-4.

(13) Ibid., p. 4.

(14) The attempt at reforming papal primacy in order to cope with new challenges and problems has, in my opinion, made this institution paradoxically evolve from being a sign and instrument of service to a sign and instrument of power and domination.

(15) "Peter as prince of the apostles is united to Rome as caput mundi,'" the center of "Christian universalism" (Schatz, "Historical Considerations," p. 1).

(16) Vatican I, "First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ" (Pastor aeternus), in Norman Tanner, ed., Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, vol 2: From Trent to Vatican II (London: Sheed and Ward; Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1990), chap. 1 (p. 812).

(17) Vatican II, "Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the World of Today" (Lumen gentium), in Tanner, Decrees, no. 25 (pp. 869-870; hereafter, L.G.

(18) The weakness of the dogma of infallibility is that it "does not guarantee that a papal definition is prudent, wise, of timely. It does not guarantee that the arguments used to support the definition ate cogent of even correct." What is guaranteed is simply "that what it defines is true" (Quinn, Reform of the Papacy, pp. 49-50; emphasis in original).

(19) Peter De Mey, "Authority in the Church: The Appeal to Lk 22, 21-34 in Roman Catholic Magisterial Teaching and in the Ecumenical Dialogue," in Reimund Bieringer, Gilbert VanBelle, and Jos Verheyden, eds., Luke and His Readers: Festschrift A. Denaux, Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium 182 (Louvain: Leuven University Press and Peeters Leuven, 2005), p. 323.

(20) Paul McPartlan, ed., The Mystery of the Church and Eucharist in the Light of the Mystery of the Holy Trinity: One in 2000? Towards Catholic-Orthodox Unity (Munich Document) (Middlegreen, UK: St. Paul Press, 1993), p. 365.

(21) Pastor aeternus, chap. 1 (p. 812).

(22) Abbe Rene Francois Waldimir Guettee, The Papacy Its Historic Origin and Primitive Relations with the Eastern Churches (New York: Carleton, 1866), pp. 39-40.

(23) Ibid., p. 41.

(24) Pastor aeternus, chap. 3 (Tanner, Decrees, p. 813).

(25) Dulles, "Papal Authority in Roman Catholicism," p 55.

(26) Quinn, Reform of the Papacy, p. 78.

(27) Tanner, Decrees, p. 864. The Vatican II Fathers concluded L.G. 20: "Therefore, the synod teaches that by divine institution the bishops have succeeded to the place of the apostles as shepherds of the church: and the one who hears them hears Christ but whoever rejects them rejects Christ and him who [sent] Christ (see Lk 10, 16)" (Tanner, Decrees, p 864).

(28) L.G. 25 (Tanner, Decrees, p. 869).

(29) Ibid.

(30) From this order of emphasis on papal infallibility, the council Fathers wished to stress first what was yet unheard of, that is, the infallibility of the college of bishops--only to return later to what was already known, that is, the infallibility of the pope.

(31) Jean-Marie Tillard, "Le Ministere d'unite," Istina 40 (July-September, 1995): 202-216. See also David Pietropaoli, Visible Ecclesial Communion Authority and Primacy in the Conciliar Church--Roman Catholic and Orthodox Theologians in Dialogue (Rome: Pontificia Universitas Gregoriana Press, 1997), p. 266.

(32) Quinn, Reform of the Papacy, p 51.

(33) Tillard, "Le Ministere d'unite," p. 214 (as translated in Pietropaoli, Visible Ecclesial Communion, p. 266)

(34) John Pau1 II, "'Ut Unum Sint [That All May Be One]: Encyclical on Commitment to Ecumenism," Origins 25 (June 8, 1995): 50-72; available at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/ encyclicals/documents/hf_jp- ii_enc_25051995_ut-unum-sint_en.html (hereafter, U.U.S.)

(35) Quinn, Reform of the Papacy, p. 14. Quinn expressed a strong appreciation of John Paul II's 1995 encyclical Ut unum sint, a bold reaffirmation of the papacy's interest in furthering unity. He maintained that it was a surprise to have the pope himself make a plea for reform in the church. While Quinn was predictably and responsibly respectful of the pope throughout his book, he did not avoid commenting on occasions when papal action circumvents councils of bishops of national conferences of Catholic bishops.

(36) U.U.S., no. 96.

(37) U.U.S. nos. 88-96; see also Krikorian, "Primacy of the Successor," p. 92.

(38) John Erickson, The Challenge of Our Past: Studies in Orthodox Canon Law and Church History (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1991), pp. 84-85.

(39) Yet, it is the separation of authority from the service of the Petrine ministry on which Quinn bases his work, The Reform of the Papacy: The Costly Call to Christian Unity (see Quinn, Reform of the Papacy, pp. 49-50).

(40) U.U.S., no. 92. "The Pope does not speak of himself as the 'Holy Father' or as the 'Vicar of Christ' but uses terms of greater simplicity such as "Bishop of Rome," "Successor of Peter,' and 'Servant of the Servants of God'" (Quinn, Reform of the Papacy. pp. 14-15).

(41) U.U.S., no. 92.

(42) Ibid., no. 94.

(43) Krikorian, "Primacy of the Successor," pp 92-93

(44) U. U.S., no. 94.

(45) Nicholas Lossky, "Conciliarity-Primacy in a Russian Orthodox Perspective,' in Puglisi, Petrine Ministry and the Unity of the Church, pp. 127-135

(46) In no. 95 of U.U.S., the pope made a point surprising to many Catholics: 'When the Catholic Church affirms that the office of the Bishop of Rome corresponds to the will of Christ, she does not separate this office from the mission entrusted to the whole body of Bishops, who are also 'vicars and ambassadors of Christ'. The Bishop of Rome is a member of the 'College', and the Bishops are his brothers in the ministry." For the first time the expression "vicars and ambassadors of Christ" is used in a document of the magisterium with reference to the college of bishops. This is a surprising development in the self-understanding of the successor of Peter.

(47) Ut unum sint is a clear witness that to embrace the teaching of Vatican I on "primacy of jurisdiction does not exclude a broader understanding of that primacy. It indicates that Vatican I was not the last word" (Quinn, Reform of the Papacy, p 34).

(48) Ibid.

(49) Pietropaoli, Visible Ecclesial Communion, p 185.

(50) Id., p. 186.

(51) Klaus Schatz, in his historic book, Papal Primacy, maintained that, on the one hand, in the first millennium the ideal did not exist that the bishop of Rome would intervene in the affairs of local churches on a routine basis. On the other hand, there exists considerable witness that Rome was ah indispensable norm of ecclesial communion, and the bishop of Rome had a unique role to play in the communion of the churches. See Klaus Schatz, Papal Primacy (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1996), pp. 17-38.

(52) Pietropaoli, Visible Ecclesial Communion, p. 187.

(53) John Meyendorff, "Historical Relativism and Authority in the Christian Dogma," St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly, vol. 11, no. 2 (1967), pp. 73-86, especially p. 75.

(54) The East always conceives the local church as its ontological equal, thus the sees. patriarchates, and metropolitans operate under the consensus of the other local churches. On the contrary, in the West emphasis is laid on the primacy of the universal church. Moreover, this "'universal church" is understood merely as the pope and the Roman curia (Pietropaoli, Visible Ecclesial Communion, p. 187).

(55) The term "auctoritas" is a Latin expression that means "an external claim to submission'" (John Zizioulas, "On the Concept of Authority," The Ecumenical Review, vol. 21, no 2 [1969], p. 160)

(56) Ibid., p. 163.

(57) Lossky, "Conciliarity-Primacy," p. 131.

(58) Zizioulas, "On the Concept of Authority," p. 163.

(59) Ibid., p, 164.

(60) Ibid., p. 166.

(61) John Meyendorff, "The Ecumenical Patriarch: Seen in the Light of Orthodox Ecclesiology and History," The Greek Orthodox Theological Review, vol. 24, nos. 2-3 (1979), p. 228.

(62) Yves Congar,, L'eglise Une Sancte, Catholieque et Apostolique (Paris: Mysterium Salutis, 1960), p. 224. See also Meyendorff, "'The Ecumenical Patriarch," p. 241.

(63) Congar, L 'eglise Une Sancte p. 229.

(64) Pietropaoli, Visible Ecclesial Communion, p. 237.

(65) Ibid., p. 239.

(66) Lossky, "Primacy in a Russian Orthodox Perspective," pp. 130-131.

(67) Ibid., p. 131, quoting Alexander Schmemann, "The Idea of Primacy in Orthodox Ecclesiology," in John Meyendorff et al., The Primacy of Peter in the Orthodox Church, The Library of Orthodox Theology 1 (Bedfordshire, U.K: The Faith Press, 1973), p. 163.

(68) Erickson, The Challenge of Our Past. p 75.

(69) Ibid., p. 57.

(70) Ibid., p. 75

(71) Orthodox-Roman Catholic Theological Commission, "The Sacrament of Order in the Sacramental Structure of the Church with Particular Reference to the Importance of Apostolic Succession for the Sanctification and Unity of the People of God," The Greek Orthodox Theological Review, vol. 35, no. 3 (1990), no. 53, pp. 205-215.

(72) Erickson, The Challenge of Our Past, 76.

(73) Pietropaoli, Visible Ecclesial Communion, p. 37.

(74) John Zizioulas, "The Church as Communion,'" St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly, vol. 38, no. 1 (1993), p. 11.

(75) The statement does not imply that the successor of Peter must be a Christian believer; it has a much deeper meaning than that: He must be humble, loyal, and listen to his subjects before coming up with any decision or acting in the name of the entire church. This constitutes one of the major differences between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic understanding of papal primacy. No wonder, therefore, that in the Roman Catholic tradition, the pope refers to himself as the "servant of the servants of God" (servus servum Dei), but this is far from being realized in practice.

(76) Zizioulas, "The Church as Communion," p. 11.

(77) "The Sacrament of Order," no. 53.

(78) Canon Law Society of America, Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (Washington, DC: Canon Law Society of America, 1992), no. 34.

(79) Whelton, Papal Monarchy, p. 28.

(80) Jaroslav Skira, "Ecclesiology in the International Orthodox-Catholic Ecumenical Dialogue," The Greek Orthodox Theological Review, vol. 41, no. 4 (1990), p. 371.

(81) Krikorian, "Primacy of the Successor," p. 88.

(82) He thus argued, "There is one Eucharist in the whole universal Church and yet this one Eucharist is at the same time many Eucharists" (John Zizioulas, "Primacy in the Church: Ah Orthodox Approach,'" in Puglisi, Petrine Ministry and the Unity of the Church, p. 118).

(83) Ibid., p. 121.

(84) By regional model of primacy is meant a model of primacy that is fundamentally based on the local church, patriarchate, and metropolitan levels. Therefore, in this model, the bishop is the "'primus" of his local eucharistic community. According to Zizioulas, the local bishop is the regulator and distributor of spiritual gifts such as baptism, confirmation, ordination, etc

(85) Canon Law Society of America, Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, no 34.

(86) This would mean that primacy is arranged in the primordial model that was exercised in the five patriarchates before the great schism of 1054 according to which each patriarchate had its own primus and the five together had a protos (Dvornik, Byzantium and the Roman Primacy, pp. 85-123).

(87) Zizioulas, "Primacy in the Church," p. 123.

(88) De Mey sounded a warning against idealizing such a model, when he argued: "We must, however, take care not to idealise the period of the first millennium .... Two approaches on the issue of primacy in the course of the first millennium, however, still seem very fruitful for a reflection on papal primacy today. On the one hand, Rome could function as a court of appeal in cases of disputes among bishops. The precise conditions for such ah intervention have already been described in canons 3 to 5 of the Council of Sardica (ca. 343). Secondly the way Rome has undertaken the reconciliation with Constantinople during the Eighth Ecumenical Council (Constantinople, 879-880) seems also to have been an exemplary one" (Peter De Mey, unpublished essay, "Orthodox Views on Papal Primacy," given at the Faculty of Theology, KU Leuven, Belgium, 2006, p. 6).

(89) Krikorian, "Primacy of" the Successor,'" p. 91

(90) Zizioulas, "Primacy in the Church,'" p 124

(91) Ibid.; emphasis in original

(92) Ibid., p. 125.

(93) McPartlan, Mystery of the Church, p. 3. See also Cardinal Kasper's debate with Cardinal Ratzinger in Kilian McDonnell, "'The Ratzinger/Kasper Debate: The Universal Church and Local Churches,'" Theological Studies 63 (June, 2002): 227-251.

(94) Meyendorff, The Primacy of Peter in the Orthodox Church, pp. 91-143.

(95) Zizioulas, "Primacy in the Church," p. 124.

(96) Ibid., p. 125.

(97) Ibid

(98) Ibid

(99) U.U.S., no. 94.

(100) Dvornik, Byzantium and the Roman Primacy, pp. 40-58.

(101) U.U.S., no. 94.

(102) Jean-Marie Tillard, "'The Ecumenical Kairos and the Primacy," in Puglisi, Petrine Ministry and the Unity of the Church, pp. 185-196, especially p 196

(103) Krikorian, "Primacy of the Successor," p. 97.

Vitalis Mshanga, A.J. (Roman Catholic), is a Religious Missionary Priest of the Congregation of the Apostles of Jesus, Nairobi, Kenya. His early studies were in his native Tanzania and in Kenya He holds a B.A in theology from the Apostles of Jesus Theologicum in Nairobi, which is affiliated with the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome. He received an M.A./S.T.L in systematic theology (2007) from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, where he has been a doctoral student in the Dept of Systematic Theology since 2007. His research interests are in ecclesiology and ecumenism. During 2007-09, he participated in a dozen international theological and ecumenical conferences and seminars throughout Europe and in Kenya, at five of which he presented papers. The most recent of these was on "Creatio ex amore: Understanding Creation in the Light of the Doctrine of Justification," presented in October, 2009, at the biannual international conference, Leuven Encounters in Systematic Theology VII. He was ordained to the priesthood in 2002 in the Moshi Diocese in Tanzania and served as a spiritual director at the A. J. Kiserian Junior Seminary in Ngong Diocese in Kenya, 2002-05. This is his first published article.
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Author:Mshanga, Vitalis
Publication:Journal of Ecumenical Studies
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:6KENY
Date:Jan 1, 2010
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