5.23.2005

Two articles from Commonweal

First, their editorial on the Reese affair.

Second, an intriguing essay by the Orthodox priest and writer John Garvey on Orthodox impressions of the papacy of John Paul and that of Benedict to this point. One of Garvey's main textual bases for expressing Orthodox concerns regarding the centralization of Roman authority is John Paul's encyclical Ut Unum Sint (which appears to have been written, at least in part, by the subject of my research, the late Fr. Jean-Marie Roger Tillard, O.P.). In Ut Unum Sint, the pope asks for help from other Christians to better reflect on how the Petrine ministry could be better exercised to remove it as a stumbling block to Christian unity. I'm not sure that I agree with Fr. Garvey's strong statement that "as long as the idea of papal infallibility is in place", there would be no petrine ministry acceptable to the orthodox; this doesn't seem to understand the difficulty of contemporary Roman Catholicism relinquishing a dogma that has become central to its identity, if not necessarily to all Catholic theologians. But it has been interesting, particularly as a Tillard scholar, to see that in many of the treatments of John Paul's papacy in the secular press, Ut Unum Sint appeared to pop up far more frequently as a high point of his theology than some of his other encyclicals.

1 comment:

Nate said...

I read the same article, and I agree that Fr. Garvey's statement on papal infallibility was a bit too strong. Ecumenism is essentially working with each other for reunion; it's not supposed to be one side submitting to the other.

I think what needs to happen between Catholics and Orthodox on papal infallibility is a compromise on how papal infallibility is practically used. The First and Second Vatican Councils defined papal infallibility, so for Catholics it is a dogma that's not going anywhere; but those councils did not completely define how papal infallibility is to be used, except in a broad sense in service to the unity of the Church.

I think that Rome and Constantinople need to sit down and discuss not so much whether or not it should be gotten rid of, which is impossible for us, but how it should be used. In fact, I think Rome and Constantinople should convene an ecumenical council to iron out our doctrinal differences -- that's what ecumenical councils were always for in the past -- and to define the proper use of papal infallibility. I think that both should commit to not ending this ecumenical council until reunion has been achieved, however long that may take.

Maybe that's idealistic of me, but I think that ecumenical councils worked quite well in the past to iron out doctrinal differences, and I think they could work again today -- at least between Catholics and Orthodox.