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Re: [SORForum] A primacy of Love and service

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  • Brian Ingram
    Thomas Daniel writes ... We see this in John s Gospel (21:15-17), when Christ after His resurrection and prior to Ascension into heaven asked Peter in Ver
    Message 1 of 6 , Jun 23, 2003
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      Thomas Daniel writes


      > The Risen Jesus at His table of forgiveness, gives Peter a chance to
      > undo his three denials of the Crucified one, and catechizes him into
      > a renewal of discipleship, along with John the beloved, to leave
      > behind a Church which is a community of Love, with Peter as "Prince"
      > (i.e., First) of the Apostles.
      >
      > There is no doubt about Peter's Primacy. It is not a primacy of
      > power, but a primacy of Love and service that Jesus leaves him in
      > John's gospel.
      >
      > The Risen Jesus here promises Peter a primacy of witness as well--
      > a death like his own. The compiler of the evangel then notes the
      > martyrdom of Peter when he has Jesus prophesy "the kind of death by
      > which he would glorify God," for he said to him, "when you grow old
      > you will stretch out your hands and someone else will fasten a belt
      > around you and take you where you do not wish to go." And in spite of
      > that warning, "After this he said to him, 'Follow me'".
      >

      We see this in John's Gospel (21:15-17), when Christ after His resurrection
      and prior to Ascension into heaven asked Peter in Ver 15&17 to feed his
      sheep/lambs, and the Greek word used here is Bosko which mean literally to
      feed and nourish his sheep. However in verse 16 while the King James and
      other translation have 'feed' others such as the NAB have the word tend. The
      Greek word used in Vers 16 in fact is not 'Bosko' but 'Poimaino', the
      primary meaning of this word is to govern, to rule over and to tend to.
      Jesus is saying that in His absence Peter is to be shepherd to his flock,
      His Church on earth, and to rule over it.


      ST. EPHRAIM OF SYRIA, clearly understands it as such as he writes;
      "Simon, My follower, I have made you the foundation of the holy Church. I
      betimes called you Peter, because you will support all its buildings. You
      are the inspector of those who will build on earth a Church for Me. If they
      should wish to build what is false, you, the foundation, will condemn them.
      You are the head of the fountain from which My teaching flows, you are the
      chief of My disciples. Through you I will give drink to all peoples . . . I
      have chosen you to be, as it were, the first-born in My institution, and so
      that, as the heir, you may be executor of my treasures. I have given you the
      keys of my kingdom. Behold, I have given you authority over all my
      treasures!"

      While I believe that the scriptures and St Ephraim clearly state that Peter
      had authority over the Church, it is to be exercised as one of primacy of
      Love and service, much as Christ did when on earth

      Brian

      >
      >
    • Thomas P
      Let us not be too adamant about the interpretation of Matthew 16. But there is a common understanding in the Orthodox churches. This common understanding and
      Message 2 of 6 , Jun 24, 2003
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        Let us not be too adamant about the interpretation of Matthew 16.
        But there is a common understanding in the Orthodox churches. This
        common understanding and unity in faith is more important. Suppose
        say, we accept "Primacy of rule" interpretation. How will it help in
        salvation?

        There was a discussion between a theological scholar from India
        and Patriarch Zakka 1 on the issue of primacy. The Indian
        scholar supported the "primacy of rule" view point, but
        Patriarch was against him. The scholar himself told me this.
        Also, in 1973, when Pope Shenouda (then bishop and the head of
        theological studies) presented his paper against the primacy of rule
        in Pro-Oriente, Patriarch Zakka (then the metropolitan of Bagdad)
        congratulated the Pope.

        Pope Shenouda's position is summarised in this lecture:
        http://www.suscopticdiocese.org/messages/lectures/eccleslecture4.pdf
        [Source: Southern Diocese of Coptic Church]


        I agree with Brian that Peter was ordained by Christ. What we see
        in Matthew 16 is an ordination. Even today all Metropolitans are
        rulers (administrative) and shepherds (spiritual). This is also
        defined in Apostolic Canons. They are enthroned, i.e. seated on the
        throne. But at some point all Apostles were given the same authority,
        as we see in the writing of H.H. Zakka below explaining Matthew 16.
        After quoting Matthew 16:16-19, the Patriarch writes,

        "The Lord gave all the Apostles this power* when he
        appeared to them on of the eve of his resurrection
        from among the dead as they were assembled in the
        upper room while the doors were locked. He stood in
        their midst and said: ''peace be with you. As the
        father has sent me, even so I send you. And when he
        had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them,
        receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of
        any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any
        they are retained'' John 20:21 and 22). He thus
        ordained them priests, as we are taught by our fathers
        the saints. Likewise, he ordained them bishops when ''
        He took them out as far as Bethany, and he lifted up
        his hands and blessed them. While he blessed them, he
        parted from them and went up to heaven" (Luke 24: 51
        and 52)."
        [H.H. Ignatius Zakka 1, 1997 Patriarchal encyclical]

        this power -> the power given in Matthew 16:16-19

        "Surely the rest of the Apostles also were that which Peter was,
        endowed with an equal partnership of office and of power"
        [St. Cyprian of Carthage, On the Unity of the Church]

        We should help an understanding that promotes the unity of the Church.

        Regards,
        Thomas
        --------------------------------------------------------


        --- In SOR-Forum@yahoogroups.com, "Brian Ingram" <Brian.Ingram@x> wrote:
        >
        > Thomas Daniel writes
        >
        >
        > > The Risen Jesus at His table of forgiveness, gives Peter a chance to
        > > undo his three denials of the Crucified one, and catechizes him into
        > > a renewal of discipleship, along with John the beloved, to leave
        > > behind a Church which is a community of Love, with Peter as "Prince"
        > > (i.e., First) of the Apostles.
        > >
        > > There is no doubt about Peter's Primacy. It is not a primacy of
        > > power, but a primacy of Love and service that Jesus leaves him in
        > > John's gospel.
        > >
        > > The Risen Jesus here promises Peter a primacy of witness as well--
        > > a death like his own. The compiler of the evangel then notes the
        > > martyrdom of Peter when he has Jesus prophesy "the kind of death by
        > > which he would glorify God," for he said to him, "when you grow old
        > > you will stretch out your hands and someone else will fasten a belt
        > > around you and take you where you do not wish to go." And in spite of
        > > that warning, "After this he said to him, 'Follow me'".
        > >
        >
        > We see this in John's Gospel (21:15-17), when Christ after His
        resurrection
        > and prior to Ascension into heaven asked Peter in Ver 15&17 to feed his
        > sheep/lambs, and the Greek word used here is Bosko which mean
        literally to
        > feed and nourish his sheep. However in verse 16 while the King James and
        > other translation have 'feed' others such as the NAB have the word
        tend. The
        > Greek word used in Vers 16 in fact is not 'Bosko' but 'Poimaino', the
        > primary meaning of this word is to govern, to rule over and to tend to.
        > Jesus is saying that in His absence Peter is to be shepherd to his
        flock,
        > His Church on earth, and to rule over it.
        >
        >
        > ST. EPHRAIM OF SYRIA, clearly understands it as such as he writes;
        > "Simon, My follower, I have made you the foundation of the holy
        Church. I
        > betimes called you Peter, because you will support all its
        buildings. You
        > are the inspector of those who will build on earth a Church for Me.
        If they
        > should wish to build what is false, you, the foundation, will
        condemn them.
        > You are the head of the fountain from which My teaching flows, you
        are the
        > chief of My disciples. Through you I will give drink to all peoples
        . . . I
        > have chosen you to be, as it were, the first-born in My institution,
        and so
        > that, as the heir, you may be executor of my treasures. I have given
        you the
        > keys of my kingdom. Behold, I have given you authority over all my
        > treasures!"
        >
        > While I believe that the scriptures and St Ephraim clearly state
        that Peter
        > had authority over the Church, it is to be exercised as one of
        primacy of
        > Love and service, much as Christ did when on earth
        >
        > Brian
        >
        > >
        > >
      • Brian Ingram
        While I agree with you Thomas that in a wider sense scripture says that bishops govern over the church and as such have a collective responsibility for it,
        Message 3 of 6 , Jun 26, 2003
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          While I agree with you Thomas that in a wider sense scripture says that
          bishops govern over the church and as such have a collective responsibility
          for it, however Peter was specifically refereed to in both Matthew and
          John's gospel as having an overall shepherding role in the church. As you
          put it ."There is no doubt about Peter's Primacy" you go on to describe this
          primacy as one of "not of power" , but a primacy of Love and service that
          Jesus leaves him.
          In fact we could say that all bishops have a primacy in the own jurisdiction
          of love and service. However can we deny that they also have from Christ the
          authority and power to exercise that love and service?
          In regards to what you quoted from St Cyprian of Cathage here is the full
          text in which explains the role of Peter and his office.
          Cyprian of Carthage
          "The Lord says to Peter: 'I say to you,' he says, 'that you are Peter, and
          upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not
          overcome it. And to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and
          whatever things you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and
          whatever you loose on earth, they shall be loosed also in heaven' [Matt.
          16:18-19]). . . . On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he gives
          the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like
          power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he
          established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that
          unity. Indeed, the others were also what Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a
          primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one
          Church and one chair. So too, all [the apostles] are shepherds, and the
          flock is shown to be one, fed by all the apostles in single-minded accord.
          If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he
          still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom
          the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?"
          (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4; 1st edition [A.D. 251]).

          Regards
          Brian
        • Brian Ingram
          ... From: Thomas P ... It is the duty of all of to preach the good news of salvation. However is Christainity divided a more effective voice for salvation than
          Message 4 of 6 , Jun 26, 2003
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            -----
            From: Thomas P

            > Let us not be too adamant about the interpretation of Matthew 16.
            > But there is a common understanding in the Orthodox churches. This
            > common understanding and unity in faith is more important. Suppose
            > say, we accept "Primacy of rule" interpretation. How will it help in
            > salvation?

            It is the duty of all of to preach the good news of salvation. However is
            Christainity divided a more effective voice for salvation than one which is
            united?
            A house divided is a house weakened and in danger. If the church had not
            been divided with the Nestorian and Arian heresies and the split that
            occurred after the Council of Chalcedon, would North Africa now be 90%
            Muslin? I for one doubt it would have. An united Church would have repelled
            that challenge to it. Instead we had mutually hostile Christians factions
            fighting each other and allying themselves with the Muslins.

            Unfortunately the term 'primacy of rule' conjurs up images of dictatorship
            and loss of governorship for individual churches. I perfer the term primacy
            of unity. That image that St Cyprian gives when he says "[Christ]founded a
            single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source
            and an intrinsic reason for that
            unity"

            Regards Brian
          • Thomas P
            ... responsibility ... As you ... describe this ... service that ... jurisdiction ... Christ the ... full ... Peter, and ... heaven; and ... gives ... a like
            Message 5 of 6 , Jun 30, 2003
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              --- In SOR-Forum@yahoogroups.com, "Brian Ingram" <Brian.Ingram@x> wrote:
              >
              > While I agree with you Thomas that in a wider sense scripture says that
              > bishops govern over the church and as such have a collective
              responsibility
              > for it, however Peter was specifically refereed to in both Matthew and
              > John's gospel as having an overall shepherding role in the church.
              As you
              > put it ."There is no doubt about Peter's Primacy" you go on to
              describe this
              > primacy as one of "not of power" , but a primacy of Love and
              service that
              > Jesus leaves him.
              > In fact we could say that all bishops have a primacy in the own
              jurisdiction
              > of love and service. However can we deny that they also have from
              Christ the
              > authority and power to exercise that love and service?
              > In regards to what you quoted from St Cyprian of Cathage here is the
              full
              > text in which explains the role of Peter and his office.
              > Cyprian of Carthage
              > "The Lord says to Peter: 'I say to you,' he says, 'that you are
              Peter, and
              > upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not
              > overcome it. And to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of
              heaven; and
              > whatever things you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and
              > whatever you loose on earth, they shall be loosed also in heaven' [Matt.
              > 16:18-19]). . . . On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he
              gives
              > the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns
              a like
              > power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra],
              and he
              > established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason
              for that
              > unity. Indeed, the others were also what Peter was [i.e., apostles],
              but a
              > primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is
              but one
              > Church and one chair. So too, all [the apostles] are shepherds, and the
              > flock is shown to be one, fed by all the apostles in single-minded
              accord.
              > If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine
              that he
              > still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon
              whom
              > the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the
              Church?"
              > (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4; 1st edition [A.D. 251]).
              >
              > Regards
              > Brian

              Dear Brian, St. Cyprian is asking a question here. I do not want to
              engage in a prolonged debate on this topic, but try to summarise my
              understanding. We need to acknowledge that there is difference between
              fathers attached to Rome and fathers of the East regarding this aspect
              of faith. Some western fathers write about "unity under successors of
              Peter" (or whatever we prefer to call it). But in Orthodox churches,
              it is accepted by all of them that unity of the Catholic church means
              a "unity in faith". This is why the faith is called Universal
              (Catholic) faith.

              The problem with unity based on primacy is that it can lead to one
              church ruling over other churches (concept of uniates etc.) and other
              complications, as we have already seen in history. It leads mostly to
              divisions in local churches, thus contradicting the original purpose
              of the teaching, i.e. achieving unity.

              The real issue is not primacy of Peter and Paul, but translating this
              primacy to successors of Peter or Paul in a specific region.

              All Oriental Orthodox churches honor Peter and Paul as first among
              Apostles. But Apostles are a different category. Their successors in
              different nations are just bishops. In this sense, a successor of
              Peter or Paul is equal to a successor of another Apostle. They are all
              bishops. How can these bishops claim same firstness as Peter or Paul,
              the Apostles? There is nothing in the Bible which suggests that
              Church should be united under successors of Peter. Or am I wrong? But
              the unity is understood as a unity of one confession.

              Since bishops are understood as ordained to shepherd and rule over the
              church (Apostolic Canons), primacy of successors implies ruling also.
              So, we cannot exclude the administrative implications and only one
              church enjoying such administrative previleges.

              There is also another aspect of this I want to mention in this
              context. I read an article which elevated Apostle Peter to the level
              of Christ, accordingly the name of Christ was given to Peter in a
              special way. The error is this, the author knows that there is only
              one Rock, Christ the Rock. Now, to explain that Peter is Rock, the
              author had no choice, but to suggest that the name of Christ was given
              to Peter. Apostles are image (Icon) of Christ, not Christ.

              "when he made the confession, «Thou art Christ, the Son of the living
              God», «Thou art Cephas, and upon this rock will I build my church, and
              the gates of Sheol shall not prevail against it»; and he called the
              firmness and fixity of such a confession a rock." - St. Severus,
              Letter to the Holy Convents of Virgins of Christ.

              "Peter and John were equal in dignity and honor. Christ is the
              foundation of all - the unshakeable Rock upon which we are all built
              as a spiritual edifice."
              [St. Cyril, Letter to Nestorius]

              Peter as a person has different qualities. But only the quality of
              firmness, his love for Christ, and his correctness of confession is
              called a Rock (another aspect of his nature was equated to wheat
              sifted in wind). All Orthodox bishops are united in the firmness of
              confession of true faith (the faith which was further explained in
              Ecumenical councils).

              Only very few fathers are called "mouth", "Pillar" etc. of the
              Catholic (Universal) Church. This includes St. Cyril and St.
              Severus. Orthodox church does not believe that church fathers are
              infallible (that all they wrote is truth in an infallible way), but
              there is a general concensus in the church, which the church believes
              is inspired by the Spirit of God. It is in this consensus that some
              fathers are called "pillar of faith".

              There is no end to this discussion. This is not a topic that affects
              our understanding of salvation in any way. For all Eastern fathers,
              the focus was Christ. It is through Christ that we know the Church. As
              long as Orthodox church does not consider this model of primacy (under
              one line of succession) important, there is no need for us to assert a
              "unity under successors of Peter". What are the merits of accepting
              such a faith? Also, does the Orthodox understanding lead to errors in
              faith? If the end result is the unity of the Church, why the Orthodox
              position is wrong, given that explaining the person of Peter as Rock
              leads to equating the Apostle to Christ, which is a Christological error?

              Please do not feel offended about my words. Both sides are hoping for
              the same end result - the unity of the Universal Church. So, let us
              honor a position which puts Christ at the center.

              humbly,
              Thomas
            • Brian Ingram
              ... Dear Thomas In discussing this issue with Greek Orthodox I would agree that they have a similar veiw point. However is it an objective one? In my reading
              Message 6 of 6 , Jul 6 12:39 AM
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                >Dear Brian, St. Cyprian is asking a question here. I do not want to
                >engage in a prolonged debate on this topic, but try to summarise my
                >understanding. We need to acknowledge that there is difference between
                >fathers attached to Rome and fathers of the East regarding this aspect
                >of faith. Some western fathers write about "unity under successors of
                >Peter" (or whatever we prefer to call it). But in Orthodox churches,
                >it is accepted by all of them that unity of the Catholic church means
                >a "unity in faith". This is why the faith is called Universal
                >(Catholic) faith.

                Dear Thomas
                In discussing this issue with Greek Orthodox I would agree that they have a
                similar veiw point. However is it an objective one?
                In my reading of the Fathers, both East and West there is a high degree of
                unamity amongst them in regards Peter as being the safeguard for that faith
                and unity of the Church.

                In regards the Eastern Fathers, below are some quotes which supports this
                position. Please excuse me for the number of and the legnth of the quotes

                St. Peter, Bishop of Alexandria (306-311 A.D.):
                Head of the catechetical school in Alexandria, he became bishop around A.D.
                300
                "Peter, set above the Apostles". (Peter of Alexandria, Canon. ix, Galland,
                iv. p. 98)

                St. Anthony of Egypt (330 A.D.):
                "Peter, the Prince of the Apostles "(Anthony, Epist. xvii. Galland, iv p.
                687).

                St. Athanasius (362 A.D.):
                Rome is called the Apostolic throne. (Athanasius, Hist. Arian, ad Monach. n.
                35).
                The Chief, Peter. (Athan, In Ps. xv. 8, tom. iii. p. 106, Migne)

                St. Macarius of Egypt (371 A.D.):
                The Chief, Peter. (Macarius, De Patientia, n. 3, p. 180)
                Moses was succeeded by Peter, who had committed to his hands the new Church
                of Christ, and the true priesthood. (Macarius, Hom. xxvi. n. 23, p. 101)

                St. Cyril of Alexandria (c. 424):
                He (Christ) promises to found the Church, assigning immovableness to it, as
                He is the Lord of strength, and over this He sets Peter as shepherd. (Cyril,
                Comm. on Matt., ad loc.)
                Therefore, when the Lord had hinted at the disciple's denial in the words
                that He used, 'I have prayed for thee that thy faith not fail,' He at once
                introduced a word

                Eulogius of Alexandria (581 A.D.):
                Born in Syria, he became the abbot of the Mother of God monastery at
                Antioch. In 579, he was made Patriarch of Alexandria; and became an
                associate of St. Gregory the Great while visiting Constantinople. Much of
                their subsequent correspondence is still extant.
                "Neither to John, nor to any other of the disciples, did our Savior say, 'I
                will give to thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven,' but only to Peter.
                (Eulogius, Lib. ii. Cont. Novatian. ap. Photium, Biblioth, cod. 280)

                Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus in Syria (450):
                A native of Antioch, Theodoret ruled under the Antiochean Patriarch.
                The great foundation of the Church was shaken, and confirmed by the Divine
                grace. And the Lord commanded him to apply that same care to the brethren.
                'And thou,' He says, 'converted, confirm thy brethren.' (Theodoret, Tom. iv.
                Haeret. Fab. lib. v.c. 28)
                I therefore beseech your holiness to persuade the most holy and blessed
                bishop (Pope Leo) to use his Apostolic power, and to order me to hasten to
                your Council. For that most holy throne (Rome) has the sovereignty over the
                churches throughout the universe on many grounds. (Theodoret, Tom. iv.
                Epist. cxvi. Renato, p. 1197).

                St. John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople (c. 387):
                Peter himself the Head or Crown of the Apostles, the First in the Church,
                the Friend of Christ, who received a revelation, not from man, but from the
                Father, as the Lord bears witness to him, saying, 'Blessed art thou, &c.'
                This very Peter and when I name Peter I name that unbroken Rock, that firm
                Foundation, the Great Apostle, First of the disciples, the First called, and
                the First who obeyed he was guilty ...even denying the Lord." (Chrysostom,
                T. ii. Hom)
                Peter, the Leader of the choir of Apostles, the Mouth of the disciples, the
                Pillar of the Church, the Buttress of the faith, the Foundation of the
                confession, the Fisherman of the universe. (Chrysostom, T. iii Hom).
                Peter, that Leader of the choir, that Mouth of the rest of the Apostles,
                that Head of the brotherhood, that one set over the entire universe, that
                Foundation of the Church. (Chrys. In illud hoc Scitote)
                (Peter), the foundation of the Church, the Coryphaeus of the choir of the
                Apostles, the vehement lover of Christ ...he who ran throughout the whole
                world, who , In Joan. Hom. 1xxxviii. n. 1, tom. viii)

                St. Proclus, Patriarch of Constantinople (434):
                A disciple of St. John Chrysostom,...
                Peter, the coryphaeus of the disciples, and the one set over (or chief of)
                the Apostles. Art not thou he that didst say, 'Thou art the Christ, the Son
                of the living God'? Thou Bar-Jonas (son of the dove) hast thou seen so many
                miracles, and art thou still but Simon (a hearer)? He appointed thee the
                key-bearer of Heaven, and has though not yet layed aside thy fisherman's
                clothing? (Proclus, Or. viii In Dom. Transfig. t. ix. Galland)
                John Cassian, Monk (c. 430):
                That great man, the disciple of disciples, that master among masters, who
                wielding the government of the Roman Church possessed the principle
                authority in faith and in priesthood. Tell us, therefore, we beg of you,
                Peter, prince of Apostles, tell us how the Churches must believe in God
                (Cassian, Contra Nestorium, III, 12, CSEL, vol. 17, p. 276).

                St. Nilus of Constantinople (448):
                A disciple of St. John Chrysostom, ....
                Peter, Head of the choir of Apostles. (Nilus, Lib. ii Epistl.)
                Peter, who was foremost in the choir of Apostles and always ruled amongst
                them. (Nilus, Tract. ad. Magnam.)

                Macedonius, Patriarch of Constantinople (466-516)
                Macedonius declared, when desired by the Emperor Anastasius to condemn the
                Council of Chalcedon, that 'such a step without an Ecumenical Synod presided
                over by the Pope of Rome is impossible.' (Macedonius, Patr. Graec. 108: 360a
                (Theophan. Chronogr. pp. 234-346 seq.)

                St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Patriarch (363):
                Our Lord Jesus Christ then became a man, but by the many He was not known.
                But wishing to teach that which was not known, having assembled the
                disciples, He asked, 'Whom do men say that the Son of man is?' ...And all
                being silent (for it was beyond man to learn) Peter, the Foremost of the
                Apostles, the Chief Herald of the Church, not using the language of his own
                finding, nor persuaded by human reasoning, but having his mind enlightened
                by the Father, says to Him, 'Thou art the Christ,' not simply that, but 'the
                Son of the living God.' (Cyril, Catech. xi. n. 3)
                For Peter was there, who carrieth the keys of heaven. (Cyril, Catechetical
                Lectures A.D. 350).
                Peter, the chief and foremost leader of the Apostles, before a little maid
                thrice denied the Lord, but moved to penitence, he wept bitterly. (Cyril,
                Catech ii. n. 15)
                In the power of the same Holy Spirit, Peter, also the foremost of the
                Apostles and the key-bearer of the Kingdom of Heaven, healed Aeneas the
                paralytic in the name of Christ. (Cyril, Catech. xviii. n. 27)
                O Holy Head, Christ our God hath destined thy Apostolic See to be an
                immovable foundation and a pillar of the Faith. For thou art, as the Divine
                Word truly saith, Peter, and on thee as a foundation-stone have the pillars
                of the Church been fixed. (Sergius Ep. ad Theod. lecta in Sess. ii. Concil.
                Lat. anno 649)

                ENDQUOTES

                >The problem with unity based on primacy is that it can lead to one
                >church ruling over other churches (concept of uniates etc.) and other
                >complications, as we have already seen in history. It leads mostly to
                >divisions in local churches, thus contradicting the original purpose
                >of the teaching, i.e. achieving unity.

                The uniates are self governing churches in union with Rome. Take for example
                the Ukranian Catholic church. They were forced to break ties with Rome and
                join the Russian Orthodox church.. However after the fall of comminism they
                freely came back into union with Rome, they do see union with Peters
                sucessor as oppressive. That there is division in local churches, is not the
                fault of unity based on primacy. That firstly happened after the council of
                Chalcedon, when those local Churches that broke union with the rest of the
                Church had splits within their own ranks with those who agreed with that
                council..

                >All Oriental Orthodox churches honor Peter and Paul as first among
                >Apostles. But Apostles are a different category. Their successors in
                >different nations are just bishops. In this sense, a successor of
                >Peter or Paul is equal to a successor of another Apostle. They are all
                >bishops. How can these bishops claim same firstness as Peter or Paul,
                >the Apostles? There is nothing in the Bible which suggests that
                >Church should be united under successors of Peter. Or am I wrong? But
                >the unity is understood as a unity of one confession.

                The Fathers clealry acknowledged that the Bishops of Rome were Peters
                sucessor and such the authority that Peter had of chief shepherd over the
                the church carried on. It would make little sense for Christ to give that
                authority to a person only to have it authority not to carry on in the
                church after that person death.
                You say the apostles are a different category, yes they are they are the
                foundation of the Church, on which their successors the bishops build up the
                church.
                The Apostles were firstly Eye witlessness to Christ ministry and to His
                death and resurrection, that is why we do not have an official position of
                apostle in today's church.. Secondly the word Apostle primary means 'to go
                forth as emissaries to a King (Christ in this case)into a foreign land' .
                That is what they did set up and oversaw the church in foreign lands.
                However all authority that they had given to them by Christ was not for them
                personally but for the church as a whole. All the authority that was given
                to them exists in the church today, and is exercised by their sucessors..

                >Since bishops are understood as ordained to shepherd and rule over the
                >church (Apostolic Canons), primacy of successors implies ruling also.
                >So, we cannot exclude the administrative implications and only one
                >church enjoying such administrative previleges.
                "
                Scriptures clearly implies that all the bishops rule over the church. In the
                Catholic Church the Bishop of Rome does not have direct administrative
                control over all of it. He only does in the Latin part of the Church of
                which he is Patriarch. In for example the Ukrainian catholic church their
                Patriarch has direct authority over that church. It is only in matters of
                faith and morals has he primacy over all the Catholic Church
                This was made clear In the reign of Pope Hormisdas (514-23) the Eastern
                Bishops signed the so-called 'Libellus Hormisdae' which contained a clear
                definition of the Roman primacy in matters of faith. This was only affirming
                what had been always understood .

                >There is also another aspect of this I want to mention in this
                >context. I read an article which elevated Apostle Peter to the level
                >of Christ, accordingly the name of Christ was given to Peter in a
                >special way. The error is this, the author knows that there is only
                >one Rock, Christ the Rock. Now, to explain that Peter is Rock, the
                >author had no choice, but to suggest that the name of Christ was given
                >to Peter. Apostles are image (Icon) of Christ, not Christ.
                when he made the confession, «Thou art Christ, the Son of the living
                >God», «Thou art Cephas, and upon this rock will I build my church, and
                >The gates of Sheol shall not prevail against it»; and he called the
                >firmness and fixity of such a confession a rock." - St. Severus,
                >Letter to the Holy Convents of Virgins of Christ.

                >"Peter and John were equal in dignity and honor. Christ is the
                >foundation of all - the unshakeable Rock upon which we are all built
                >as a spiritual edifice."
                [St. Cyril, Letter to Nestorius]

                This article appears to be typical of some Protestant polemics against the
                Catholic church.
                Christ is the rock of our faith. Christ made Peter the rock on which he
                built his church on.
                The term rock is used in two different contexts here. It is offensive to
                Catholics to imply that Christ is somehow supplanted by Peter.
                Christ lives he is the head of the Church.
                Furthermore the quotes I have given above from the Eastern Fathers
                (including St Cyprian) also what you have quoted testify that it not
                some Roman Catholic invention, but the opinion of the early church.

                Also I concur that Pater and John were equal in dignity and honour. John
                probably was diserving of higher honour than Peter because he was the only
                apostle who was at the crusifiction. All bishops of the Church both Orthodox
                and Catholic are equal in dignity and honour.

                . Orthodox church does not believe that church fathers are
                >infallible (that all they wrote is truth in an infallible way), but
                >there is a general concensus in the church, which the church believes
                >is inspired by the Spirit of God. It is in this consensus that some
                >fathers are called "pillar of faith".

                The Catholic Church has the same position on this.


                There is no end to this discussion. This is not a topic that affects
                our understanding of salvation in any way. For all Eastern fathers,
                the focus was Christ.

                I would suggest also the Western Fathers focus


                >It is through Christ that we know the Church.

                Is it not more correct to say 'it is through the Church we know Christ'?.


                As
                >long as Orthodox church does not consider this model of primacy (under
                >one line of succession) important, there is no need for us to assert a
                ">unity under successors of Peter". What are the merits of accepting
                >uch a faith? Also, does the Orthodox understanding lead to errors in
                >faith?

                I go back to what you posted on the 24/6 and I quote you "There is no doubt
                about Peter's Primacy. It is not a primacy of
                power, but a primacy of Love and service that Jesus leaves him in John's
                gospel
                While I disagree with you that Peters primacy has no power, (clearly the
                Keys gives him power to bind on earth and in heaven) I agree with you that
                this power is to exercised in a collegial manner and in a manner which is
                one of love and service. In regards errors in faith, there are between
                Orthodoxy and Roman Catholic differences in expressing our common faith,
                which can appear to each side as errors in faith. However with mutual
                dialogue and respect we can over come.these , a perfect example is the
                Christlogical dispute that arose after the Council of Chalcedon which has no
                been resolved..


                >If the end result is the unity of the Church, why the Orthodox
                >position is wrong, given that explaining the person of Peter as Rock
                >leads to equating the Apostle to Christ, which is a Christological error?

                Firstly you must ask yourself why did Christ re-name Simon, 'Cephas' which
                means rock
                Secondly it was the understanding of the early Church both East and West
                that Peter was the rock that Christ built his Church on.
                Thirdly scholarly opinion even Protestant confirm that Christ refers to
                Peter as the Rock in Mathew 16

                >Please do not feel offended about my words. Both sides are hoping for
                >the same end result - the unity of the Universal Church. So, let us
                >honor a position which puts Christ at the center.

                I am not offended at all Thomas. The fact that we dialoguing in itself
                speaks of the Holy Spirit working in the Church.


                Brian
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