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St. Peter and a primacy of honour? - John Charmley - 04-05-2010 06:25 PM

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In her interesting and pertinent questions, Eve92 has asked about how we regard St. Peter and the Petrine verses from St. Matthew, and whilst I have answered, as best I can, as part of a wider answer to a wider question, I wondered whether it might be worth starting a thread on this particular subject?

The obvious answer is that the OC recognises a primacy of honour to St. Peter and to his See, but there is a sense in which that does not quite deal with the question.

Any survey of the the Fathers on this theme will reveal an array of answers, some finding that Our Lord is referring to Peter's faith, others that the reference is to St. Peter himself. Given that 'Peter' was a name unknown, and that it literally means 'rock', Our Lord is, in fact saying 'You are rock and on this rock .. etc.'.

We know that both the Blessed Saints Athanasius and Cyril worked in closes cooperation with Rome, which both found an ever-present help in times when heresy threatened the Faith. Dioscorus, for whom I know Fr. Peter has a soft pot having done some pioneering work on him, will be able to say better than I can why this cooperation broke down at Ephesus 449 and Chalcedon, but it seems to me as though Cyril's successor played his cards less well than his predecessors had, allowing Constantinople to drive a wedge between Rome and Alexandria.

Long before the EO broke with Rome, they had agreed at Chalcedon that 'Peter speaks through Leo', and whilst, by 1054 they may have had reason to reconsider this view, that was what their Fathers, as well as the Roman Fathers, had said at Chalcedon.

Partly because the circumstances of the EO schism with Rome were so centred on the claims of the Roman Pope, the EO have a worked-out set of attitudes towards Rome; do we, or are we, as in so many things, following in their suit on this one?

In Christ,

John


St Peter and the primacy of honour? - kirk yacoub - 07-05-2010 10:03 AM

St Peter is the Rock because he first confessed that Jesus is the Messiah.
That is the rock on which all our faith is built. Yes, St Peter was the father of the Church in Rome and all the Popes, good, bad and indifferent, follow on from him. However, St Peter was also the first Bishop of Antioch, therefore the Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church is equally Peter's descendent.
The quarrel with Rome is that they forget the equality of Bishops (all Bishops are equal, all Eucharists are equal) and stress Rome's primacy.
Orthodoxy argues for this equality and is the only theologically tenable position.

Kirk Yacoub


- John Charmley - 07-05-2010 03:53 PM

Dear Kirk,

We certainly say all bishops are equal, but it is unclear to me that the Patriarch of Alexandria does not enjoy at least a primacy of honour; he certainly seems more equal than others, as canon 6 of Nicea recognises. I think that is why I wondered about how one defined that indefinable 'primacy of honour'.

peace,

John