Friday, March 16, 2012

Dr. Tighe: Is the Papacy in Need of Structural Reform?

Dr. Tighe has written a review of Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy: Ut Unum Sint and the Prospects of East-West Unity, by Adam A.J. DeVille.
Despite its subtitle, this book, written by an assistant professor of theology at the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and a member of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, does not to any significant extent examine the “prospects” of unity between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. Rather, in light of John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical Ut Unum Sint, and particularly the late pontiff’s request therein to leaders of other Christian churches and communities for “dialogue” on how papal primacy (or the Petrine “ministry of unity”) could be exercised in a mutually acceptable way, this book considers Catholic and Orthodox views of the papacy since 1960, and advances proposals for a major restructuring of the papacy that would separate the role and functions of the pope as “Patriarch of the West” (or “of Rome”) from those that pertain to his Petrine “universal primacy.”

After an introduction that adumbrates the arguments and conclusions of the book, and which postulates, accurately enough, that the papacy’s claims for itself and its ministry constitutes the fundamental obstacle to East-West ecumenical progress, the book examines Ut Unum Sint (UUS) and the very few official Orthodox responses the Pope’s request evoked — and why there were so few of them. It proceeds with a discussion of the views of twenty-four Orthodox theologians who have written on the papacy in recent decades, and the views of eighteen Catholic theologians. Two of the latter are Eastern Catholics: the current Mel­kite Patriarch of Antioch, Gregorios III, and the Ukrainian Catholic Michel Dymyd. The Western Catholics include Joseph Ratzinger (the fact that all but one of the works cited come from between 1964 and 1971 is, as we shall see, significant); Yves Congar; the Polish ecumenist Waclaw Hry­niewicz; Geoffrey Robinson, the retired liberal auxiliary bishop of Sydney, Australia; and Walter Cardinal Kasper, the recently retired president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Some of the Orthodox theologians whose views are discussed are, if not exactly hostile to the papacy, then at least negative and “stand-offish” in tone, while others are much more positive about the ecumenical potential of a “reformed” papacy. DeVille himself draws three positive and three negative conclusions from their writings. Positively, they all acknowledge that the primacy of Rome is a historic fact, and that Rome is the only plausible claimant to such a universal primacy; many of them acknowledge the desirability and necessity of such a primacy, given the current “jurisdictional chaos” of Orthodoxy; and they envisage Rome’s proper function as being “a center of appeal [from the decisions of other churches and patriarchates] of coordination and of solicitude for all the churches.” Negatively, they all reject papal universal jurisdiction as defined by the First Vatican Council; they reject a “juridical understanding” of papal primacy; and they insist that it is as “first bishop” and “patriarch of the first see of Rome” that he must exercise this universal primacy. The gap thus seems nearly absolute.
Read the rest here.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

Well duh.

What also gets lost in this issue is Cromwell's lament about his irrational desire to occupy Ireland, ie. be careful what you wish for, you just may get it.

With that, a blessed and happy St. Patrick's Day to you!