In considering who has the stronger claim to traditional ecclesiology, as it was universally conceived by the early Church, it appears to me that Orthodoxy has the stronger claim. Yet, Rome claims that Cyprian’s lofty language about Rome, the actions of Pope Stephen, and the Council of Serdicia are examples of Rome’s preeminence. Do these points hold up to scrutiny?
- RC Argument #1: Cyprian has a high view of Papal authority.
I think the RCs are looking at Cyprian out of context. Pope Stephen asserted his authority as sitting on the chair of Peter to compel the Christian world to accept his peculiar doctrine of not re-baptizing Marcionite heretics (along with the more orthodox doctrine of not re-baptzing Trinitarian schismatics.) Considering how Cyrpian reacted, and had the full agreement of Firmilian and eastern churches, as well as the church in Egypt (Pope Dinoysus wrote on the subject against Stephen), is it possible that we would be misunderstanding Cyprian’s high words on Rome by taking them too literally? Wouldn’t his actual actions better describe his attitudes towards primacy than a few laudatory words?
- RC Argument #2: Pope Victor I wanted to impose the Roman Easter commemoration on the Church of Ephesus, and Ephesus refused–proving that Rome must have had the power to compel other churches to adhere to their doctrinal judgments because why else would they assert such a thing if this were not so? If Rome’s authority was rejected and opposed at this time, that does not mean the opposition was correct in opposing Roman supremacy.
Well, can’t we also say that just because an authority is asserted, that does not make it true either? Rejecting and asserting are not the means we know something is true. We look at the universal understanding of the Church–did they hold to supremacy? If they did not, then Rome is the innovator, not the Church.
- RC Argument #3: The Bishop of Rome overturned an eastern council that deposed Athanasius before Serdicia. This shows Roman Supremacy.
This is a good argument, but we also have Augustine positing that a general council can overturn a council in the west presided over and decided by the Pope during the Donatist controversy. So, I think that we do not see universal agreement on this issue…and Athanasius was not taken back anyway, which shows that the Bishop of Rome’s authority was not accepted on this matter–but rather opposed.
I think Canon 36 of the Sixth Ecumenical Council is sufficient to prove the Orthodox perspective on the position of the Bishop of Rome.
The quinisext council is not accepted by Catholics.
It was accepted at some points of Latin Christian history. Some of the best examples come from Pope Hadrian I’s letter to the Greek East and Theodulf of Orleans’ rebuttal of II Nicaea. Both documents accepted Trullo as part of the Sixth Ecumenical Council.
Can you link?
*digs up old post at CAF*: https://forums.catholic.com/showpost.php?p=13798538&postcount=33
The Theodulf reference remains untranslated. But here it is (starts on the previous page): http://www.dmgh.de/de/fs1/object/display/bsb00000639_00294.html?sortIndex=020%3A040%3A0002%3A020%3A01%3A00&zoom=1.00
There is probably more material, and I’ve considered looking more into it, but haven’t had the time.
Your research is much appreciated. You should podcast or write again.
The source material for Hadrian’s letter can be found here: http://www.documentacatholicaomnia.eu/01p/0772-0795,_SS_Hadrianus_I,_Epistolae,_MLT.pdf
Alura, do you have any written sources where a Pope rejects a particular from the Quinisext council? It would demonstrate that one Pope has to be wrong in his estimation.
Alura, thank you for the reference to the Libri Caroli (perhaps written by Theodulf of Orleans). I’m very impressed you found this reference, since I had been researching documents about the confirmation of the Trullan Synod, especially in the West, and I hadn’t come across this before.
I’ve been writing some notes about the Quinisext Council (and you are right, Pope Hadrian I identifies it with the 6th Ecumenical Council) and related topics on the errors of the Latins, so let me know if you’d like me to send you a draft of my research so far.
Pope Hadrian I “was giving a private opinion and not teaching ex cathedra.”
George, I’d be delighted to look at your research on the matter.
Craig, I’m not aware if there were specific canons rejected by any popes. I’d imagine the Lamb image canon was controversial in Rome, and that when some popes did accept it (such as Pope John VIII), the conditions were purposefully broad. That is, he attached the conditions that all the canons were accepted except “all those canons which did not contradict the true faith, good morals, and the decrees of Rome.”
I don’t think this is grounds for saying that Rome rejected the council. I mean, if rejecting one or more canons instead of the entire council counts as the rejecting of a council entirely, then what does one say about Rome’s rejection of Canon 28 from Chalcedon?
It shows that one Pope endorsed all its contents and one didn’t. Do you have a citation for John VIII? I have seen it in secondary sources but I do not know what they are citing.
I forgot to ask, George. By what means would you like to communicate your draft?
Craig, I must admit that I don’t know off hand which letter people are referring to. Perhaps George might know.
One source for John VIII can be found in Hefele, History of Councils, Vol. V., Book XVII., Sec. 328, pp. 241 – 242.
Great! I can send you a PDF, but I couldn’t figure out how to send a private message here on WordPress. I just put my email address in my profile page, so you can email me and I can reply to that.
It should also be noted that John VIII’s acceptance of the Trullan canons was conditional, and Roman Popes have been inconsistent with each other on this point. Overall, the evidence is very strong for the Ecumenical character of these canons.
do you know what page this is on?
Hi Craig – Just discovered your site as my wife and I are looking seriously into Orthodoxy. Quick question pls – the article “Responses to Common Roman Catholic Arguments From Church History In Favor of Papal Supremacy” – do you know what Orthodox Church/Cathedral was in the photo at the top? Its’ phenomenal. Thanks and Blessings, Pete F.
I do not, I just found a pretty picture. 🙂 May God bless you both!