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Catholic/Orthodox Dialogue -- The Office of the Papacy

Discussion in 'Formal Debate Threads' started by MarkRohfrietsch, Dec 2, 2015.

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  1. MarkRohfrietsch

    MarkRohfrietsch Unapologetic Apologist Supporter


    1. Discussion will be friendly, respectful and prayerful.
    2. The Discussion will be between Athanasias and OrthodoxForever.
    3. There will be no time limit between posts.
    4. There will be no size limit for posts.
    5. There will be no set maximum number of posts.
    6. OrthodoxForever will begin the alternating rounds with Athanasias responding.
    7. All regular rules of CF will continue to apply, including the 20% copyright rule.
    8. This discussion may begin at any time.
    General Theology:
    Formal Debate Peanut Gallery Thread -- Catholic/Orthodox Dialogue -- The Office of the Papacy

    Traditional theology:
    Formal Debate Peanut Gallery Thread -- Catholic/Orthodox Dialogue -- The Office of the Papacy
    Blessings and peace to you both.:crossrc::liturgy::priest::crosseo:

    CF Admin
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2015
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  2. OrthodoxForever

    OrthodoxForever Has been saved, Being saved, (LHM) WILL be saved

    Eastern Orthodox
    Greetings my Brother, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit Amen, as we say in the eastern church Christ is among us... :crosseo:

    I would like to begin by just stating the Orthodox perspective on this topic:

    The position of the Orthodox Church regarding the Papacy is that the Pope never had or claimed supreme authority over the other jurisdictions prior to the period leading up to the schism. In the ancient unified church of the first millennium, the Patriarch or high bishop of Rome was what is now known as the Ecumenical Patriarch, the seat of which today rests with the Patriarch of Constantinople/Istanbul, currently his Eminence Bartholomew I.

    The difference between the modern Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch revolve around supremacy and infallibility, both of which the modern Pope claims but the Ecumenical Patriarch has never claimed or had. The idea that the Ecumenical Patriarch served to council and settle disputes among the others and defend apostolic truth goes back as far as 519 and there wasn’t much debate about who it was going to be (as far as I could find) but that’s a far cry from supreme authority or infallibility.

    The issue of supremacy became a sticking point when the western church tried to add the filioque to the Nicaean Creed, because Rome just expected the other four main churches at the time to roll over and go along with it, with no discussion on the matter. No council was called. No prayerful debate as we are having now took place regarding this. Personally, though I am sure many of my Orthodox brothers and sisters would disagree, I am convinced that it was really the authority issue and the lack of dialogue that caused the clause to be rejected by the Orthodox.

    Infallibility is a concern both theologically and just logically. The Popes do not speak with one voice, many have disagreed with those before and after them, and many of committed many sins even after being elected Pope, so the infallibility concept from my view simply does not compute. To be infallible means that one cannot be wrong. They cannot sin or speak falsely whether they lie or are simply mistaken and ALL mortal humans (save the Lord while on the earth) are capable of both.

    But perhaps that strongest reason that the Orthodox reject these concepts and therefore the Pope as the position is understood in Modern times, is that together they place the Pope at the head the church, when because we believe that only Christ can be the head of the church, placing someone on par with Him like that, for us, borders on idolatry. In fact the doctrine of Papal infallibility wasn’t even officially acknowledged until the 19th century.

    “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the Man Jesus Christ who gave himself as a ransom for all to be testified in due time.” 1Timothy 2:5

  3. Athanasias

    Athanasias Regular Member

    United States
    Hello my sister in Christ Jesus! It is good to dialog on these important issues. Before I begin with a prayer for both of us I would like to briefly remind some of the readers who will be following us on this ecumenical prayerful dialog on exactly what we are doing. Since this is not a debate but rather a dialog in prayer I will not be looking to argue or convince by powers of persuasion for the truth of the Papal office as I would in a debate. I think that truth is powerful enough and if presented in a prayerful charitable way it can defend itself and has a power all of it own. It does not need me to defend it. Many converts today and that have come before me for example have pondered and studied in prayer and have found the office of Pope to be true. So I am not needed to prove the office. What am I doing then? Well the beauty of these ecumenical dialogs in prayer is that there are no winners and no losers. In fact if we both do this right we both come out winners because we will both have listened to each others good reasons for the crucial theological positions we both hold dear. In doing this we will both help each other prayerfully remove obstacles that may get in each others way of understanding our opponents position and truly appreciating them even if we still end up disagreeing. If either of us converts to each other faith it will have been a work of the Holy Spirit and not because of slick argumentation on either of our parts but because of truthful honesty and open prayerful questions.

    So I am going to treat this ecumenical dialog not like a debate because often in debates people on both sides end up closed off and trying to score points but I will treat it like a good talk I would have with a non-Catholic friend(I have these all the time over burgers and beer). This will make it easy and fun for everyone. Now before I begin I must ask the Holy Spirit to come to our aid and his spouse the Blessed Virgin Mary to unite us to her Son who prayed His high priestly prayer so that the Church may be united as one(Jn 17 11-22). The neat thing is the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church have so much common and understand Mary's role in salvation history so well that both of our Churches can turn to her maternal intercession and Queenly entrustment. I have seen the power of Mary and she has a way of uniting hearts to her Son. let su ask her to unite our hearts and our Churches hearts to his Sacred heart and through her immaculate heart. Therefore I entrust this dialog to Jesus through Mary Immaculate and in the Holy Spirit using part of an ancient prayer that both the Orthodox Church and Catholic Church still use today( The Akathist hymns)

    " I shall open my mouth and it will be filled with the
    Spirit, and I shall sing a hymn to the Queen and Mother and I
    shall celebrate with splendor and sing with joy of her wonders.

    O Most holy Theotokos, save us!

    The reader: As the Archangel beheld you, immaculate one a living
    scroll of Christ which the Spirit had sealed, he cried out to you:
    "Hail, vessel of joy, in whom the curse of Eve is lifted!"

    R. O Most holy Theotokos, save us!

    The reader: Hail, O Virgin, bride of God, restoration of Adam and
    destruction of Hades! Hail, all-blameless one, unique palace of
    our King! Hail, fiery throne of the Almighty!

    R. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

    The reader: Hail, O you who alone gave rise to the unfading Rose!
    Hail, O you who bore the fragrant Apple in such perfume as to be
    pleasing to the King of All! Hail, salvation of the world, O you,
    the ever-Virgin!

    R. Now and always and for ever and ever. Amen."

    Thank you sister so much for your great opening statement and good questions. I will not be too theological yet as I will test the waters(my wife say to keep it simple when I dialog because I often begin to go into deep theology or scripture and it tends to loose people) and if you want to know more I certainly will go piece meal on this and deeper and deeper as I can with my limitations of knowledge. I hope you can be patient with me as I am very limited in my understanding of much theology especially from the East but also I have limitations on what I know from the west as well. I will do my best. Pray for me. I can see somewhat of where you are coming from in your objections to the office of Pope. I think that infallibility and Papal authority or what you may call supremacy can seem hard to understand and I sure had issues with it when I was between the ages of 19-22. So it took me years to study and prayer to really get it. Timing can be essential. What I will do is simply tell you why I a revert to the Catholic faith and others I have known who converted from others faiths believe in this office of the Papacy to be divinely inspired by Jesus Christ himself. I hope in doing that I will be able to give you some good reasons why we catholics hold to this office(even if you end up disagreeing) . I agree by the way that if both sides would have dialoged better in the past some of these issues would be resolved and in fact some of them are beginning to at least in some areas( I do not want to distract the dialog on the Pope and talk about the Filioque as that is a topic for another time but I can say after ecumenical dialog with the Orthodox on this some Orthodox Bishops who were against the Catholic concept like Bishop Kallistos Ware has said "these differences are more a matter of semantics then basic doctrinal differences" --Diakonia, quoted from Elias Zoghby’sA Voice from the Byzantine East, 43).) Anyway back to the Papacy.

    I remember when I was in my teens I used to really think that the Pope of Rome was a corrupt old white man who was power hungry and money hungry and just wanted to control everybody. I told my mom this . So I rebelled stopped going to Mass and when I had to go I stopped receiving communion. I think it is easy to see him this way. At least in my opinion it was. I really did not understand his authority or infallibility. I kinda thought devout Catholics were brainless followers brainwashed by this old man in rome who was really just a nobody anyway(So how dare he tell me what I ought to believe!)

    Now years later I am convinced that it was the blessing of my grandfathers intercession and the Blessed Virgin Mary's intercession and the books he left me when he died that slowly began to change things for my view. And it was a internal struggle for quite some time. But in fact I believe that there are 3 things that bring most protestants and or Orthodox to the Catholic Church and 3 things that keep most devout Catholic in the Church. I call them Gods 3 secret weapons. They are Mary, The Eucharist/Mass/ and the office of Pope.

    Now he(my grandpa) left me with the some great Catholic books and some official Catholic text that answered almost all the hard questions I did not get. I mean I went to Catholic school from kindergarten through highschool and yet I still never understood the faith or the Pope or his office. We just never talked about it. His books and their(Mary's and my Grandfathers) heavenly prayers really fed me alot though I still struggled. I was in a 5 year relationship with a southern baptist at the time and that may me really also question my faith on many levels. So not only did I have an advantage for now understanding the Catholic faith because of all the great official text and books grandpa left me but I also had another advantage(I did not want to be a Catholic and began studying many other protestant faiths like Baptist and Lutheran) I had a protestant girlfriend and had been going to her Church for 5 years and talking to her parents(her mom was Methodist and her stepdad was a Lutheran) and reading many things on those faiths as well. It was kinda fun I admit it!

    What I will do for you is present you with the fruits of the years of my learning in a simple form and later I will flush it out if you wish in a deeper way. Lets start with infallibility. Lets define it. That may help you a bit. Here is what official Catholic teaching in the Catechism of the Catholic says infallibility is in its glossary.

    " INFALLIBILITY: The gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church whereby the pastors of the Church, the pope and bishops in union with him, can definitively proclaim a doctrine of faith or morals for the belief of the faithful (891). This gift is related to the inability of the whole body of the faithful to err in matters of faith and morals "

    So infallibility to a Catholic is a gift that is given by the Holy Spirit that protects the teaching church ie the Bishops and the Pope in union with them from formally teaching a theological error in matter of faith or doctrine or morals. This does not mean that Popes or Bishops cannot ever error and it also does not mean that Popes and Catholic Bishops are perfect and never sin(impeccability). In fact if you have been watching the news in the past 12 years and studied Church history you will know that Catholic Bishops and Popes are sinners and do make mistakes some times grave ones.

    I remember when I was trying to decide weather I was really Catholic or not thinking that infallibility made sense. I mean no matter what Christian religion I was going to be whether it be Lutheran or Catholic or Orthodox or even Baptist I would still believe that the Church that Jesus founded had this gift or charism of infallibility and at times could and did use it. I believe that because it seemed logical to me for a few reasons. Scripture to me seemed to indicate that the Jesus himself is God(Jn 20:28) and He is Truth itself(Jn 14:6). Scripture also seemed to indicate to me that Jesus who is Truth speaks through his Church and if we hear the Church we hear Jesus but if we reject his Church we reject him(Lk 10:16). But the nail in the coffin for me personally was that from my understanding the Church Jesus was to found would have the Holy Spirit guiding it into all truth(Jn 16:12-14). In fact the Holy Spirit guided the first church council (Acts 15:28) That "all truth" means no error at least at times on important theological truths of faith and morals. That seemed evident to me. In fact it seemed so much so that St. Paul would call the Church of Christ the pillar and foundation of truth( 1 Tim 3:15).

    So to me it seemed logical and still does that no matter what type of Christian I am I ought to believe that the Church Jesus founded historically had that gift of infallibility and still does. That only seemed logical as well. The futher historical evidence of the Ecumenical Councils in the early Church and the canon of scripture made this even more evident to me. This is why I rejected sola scriptura personally when I looked into it because it seemed to negate a living tradition in the Church that had apostolic authority behind it(2 Thess 2:15) and it also negated a living body or Ecclesia with real teaching authority via succession to the apostles that had a real authority to bind and loose doctrines(Matt 16:18, Matt 18:18, Acts 15:28) and what ought to be believed on the congregation universal. Thus I saw the Church doing this in her early Ecumenical Councils binding the creeds on the Church universal. That spoke miles to me.

    So I hope that helps. Now the Infallibility and general universal authority of the Papacy of the Bishop of Rome is as we see it a logical extension of the infallibility of the Church. He has this due to his office which to us as we see it fulfills the role of High priest and the Davidic prime minister or steward over the Church.He does not use it often. Infact the Church as a whole in union with him speaks infallibly in ecumenical councils much more often then he does from the chair. But its his office that he can do that if called upon. And its Christ and the Holy Spirit who guides that office and protects it and not the sinful man in office who himself has that power.There is no comparing the Pope to God or Papal worship because the Pope is a mere man whose office is divine and protected in certain circumstances in our view but the man can be a horrible sinner. In fact Judas a handpicked Bishop committed the ultimate sin and the first Pope of Rome St. Peter denied Christ 3 times publicly and had a cussing problem. Now how is that for scandel!

    But the Catholic view is that God's grace and truth is stronger then mans sin so even when a sinful man may be in office that God founded God the Holy Spirit may prevent him from officially declaring a bad doctrine or teach truth through him despite himself. God did this also in the NT at times with the High Priest of the old covenant.

    "But one of them, Ca'iaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all; you do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish." He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation," (Jn 11:49-51).

    Catholic view the Bishops in general but also the Pope especially as a fulfillment of the High priest who instead of sitting on the Chair of Moses sits now on the Chair of Peter. I was lucky that 2 of my professors in Grad school were converts to the Catholic faith from other faiths. One was a Jewish convert(Dr. Lawrence Feingold) to wrote 3 volumes of books to show just how the deep the Jewish fulfillments of Catholic theology truly are. I was amazed to read his 3 volume work and discovered other Jewish authors seeing similar things and converting to Catholicism. I will if you desire to see it bring out all the Jewish fulfillment in our understanding of the NT office of Pope in my next statement. There is alot there so I will not do it here but it may help you understand our position better. I think its really neat!

    So we do not worship the Pope or even come proximate to that. He is a man and a sinner and he can error and has in the past. Heck if you read my comments on Pope Francis you will see what I mean. But it does mean that we believe that the Church and the Pope can at times speak with full authority from their offices and the gift of infallibility will be there by the Holy Spirits protection. So we believe the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ truly guide the Church and her Popes. Just like in history we see the Holy Spirit guiding the Bishops in the Councils and recognizing an declaring the canon so too we believe the Holy Spirit is active today in the offices of Bishops and Popes and can protect and guide it. So we are not being idolaters giving divinity or worship to the Pope(although some secular catholics seems to worship Popes in an tv idol kind of way that makes me sick). Pope can also disagree with on another and have. What a Pope cannot do is contradict another infallible statement by the Church or another Pope when speaking with his full authority.

    So that is a general explanation. I hope that helps. The other areas I have not really touched upon deeply are the biblical, historical, miraculous, and negative. Those are 4 areas I believe also have good evidence for the Papacy in but we can get slowly to those in piece meal fashion. I am having fun so far and I hope you are too my sister. I look forward to more dialog and learning more from you in our next post. If you want me to go deeper on anything just let me know and if I don't see you asking I will just let the conversation develop where it will.

    Have a blessed weekend my sister! And enjoy a blessed liturgy!

    In Jesus through Mary,

  4. Taom Ben Robert

    Taom Ben Robert Roman Catholic

    United States
    Soo is this open for someone else?
  5. MarkRohfrietsch

    MarkRohfrietsch Unapologetic Apologist Supporter

    Not presently. However, you may post in either of these threads. Should you and Athanasias decide to discuss this "formally" please start a debate proposal, notify me, and I will set it up.

    CF Admin
  6. Athanasias

    Athanasias Regular Member

    United States
    Ok cool. Yeah Taom let me know if you want to dialog one on one in a prayerful way and we can set something up on the office of Papacy.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2016
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