The Primacy of Saint Peter

There seems to be a lot of issues going on about who is the "head" of the Churches, or who should be the "head" of the Church.

As you are aware, the Catholics argue that Saint Peter was given the mandate of being this head. They feel that we are in dis-subordination to their Pope, and we are heretical in our dogmas.

During the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th Century AD: who was the head of the Church?

If the See of Saint Peter (Rome) was the head of the Church, why bother having Ecumenical Councils for? (e.g the Council of Nicea, the Council of Constantinople, the council of Ephesus etc..)
What was the point of these councils if the early church already had a head? Surely, if the see of Saint Peter was the head of the early Church, the patriarchs of Alexandria, Constantinople, Jerusalem, etc would have just said : "Let the See of Saint Peter decide" - why hold a council for?  When Arius, the ridiculous, came up with his heresy, why the need for a council? Why didnt anyone tell him :"OK mate, look, let's wrap it up and put it past Rome and see what they think 1st ?"

Even the very 1st council (the council of Jerusalem) - where the Apostles disagreed on whether they should baptize or circumcise & baptise etc, it says clearly in the Bible that the Apostles were gathered with the elders to discuss this. Why even have a discussion if Saint Peter was their head? That's the whole point of a head - to lead, not to take opinions.

If the See of Saint Peter was the head of the World Wide Church, how could this "head" send his emissary to Constantinople, go into the great the Cathedral of Agios Sophia, during a mass, and excommunicate an ENTIRE patriarchate without any warning, without any discussion? Is this the action/behaviour of the head of a Church? The delagate was chased by a deacon before leaving, and BEGGED not to leave. He shakes the dust off of his sandals and says :"Let God look and Judge".

Is that something a leader should do?

Secondly, if Christ really did mean for Saint Peter (He - the man. Mr Simon Peter) as being THE STONE on which Christ was to build his Church - what happens when HE, SAINT PETER dies? Is the Church then supported by his tomb? Is the Church then dependent on him for salvation?? or is it his faith?? Is it his faith that Christ was talking about that is the rock? for Saint Peter did reply and said: "You are the Christ, the Son of God".

In the orthodox Church, the Pontiff, whoever it has been, follows in the footsteps of faith, dogma, tradition, understanding and spirituality of his predecessor. I guess in our case, that would be Saint Mark. But if the Catholics change their dogmas, and innovate their faith and spiritual traditions, yet have a See to their Patriarch (Saint Peter), then they are only successors to Saint Peter - the Person, not to Saint Peter's dogmas, traditions, spirituality, faith.. etc.. etc.

What is the importance of having a Single Head to govern all the Patriarchs? Why is this so important for the Catholics? Of course, I can appreciate that having a head means we are all united, we are One Church, but if we had different patriarchs and were still united by common dogma, faith, tradition, spirituality and creed, it would still be OK - no?? What would be missing? There would still be hierarchy, there would still be liturgies etc.

I see a benefit for us all sharing the same faith, dogmas, creeds etc. but I cannot see how all the patriarchs being under the authority of ONE patriarch helps in anyway whatsoever. I can see that we could all be ONE in faith, dogma and creed etc, and that would be nice, but why would anyone insist on all partriachates being under the One authority of Rome?

The catholics argue, today, that there is an urgency for unity, more than ever, and that unity depends on us accepting Rome as our authority. I don't understand this. I agree there is an urgency for unity, but how does being under "Rome" help with respect to dogmas? The Roman Catholics came up with a dogma called "LIMBO" - a few years ago, they said "Limbo doesn't exist". Today the Catholics are charismatic and have lost nearly ALL spiritual traditions in their Church: surely, it is a good thing we are NOT all under Rome so we don't look stupid?? (All of us?) Maybe it would be nice for only a few people to look weak or lost rather than the entire body of Christ???? So, I see a greater importance of "NOT PUTTING ALL YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET" philosophy here.

So, my questions are:

a) What was the state of the early Church concerning the Primacy of Saint Peter
b) Is it the faith of saint peter that holds the primacy, or is it the person?
c) What IS the importance of having a Single head of the Church?



  • In brief, because I am feeling a bit down with the flu...

    The Church has never accepted that the bishop of Rome is head of the Church. Never. The most that has been allowed is that he was sometimes considered a senior brother in the episcopate. From the time of Leo of Rome the bishops of Rome often tried to insist on their complete authority over the Church - it was never accepted and was and is a heresy that destroys the Church.

    Even in the West the absolute authority of the bishop of Rome was resisted. It is easy to find flowery words in diplomatic letters which speak highly of the bishop of Rome but it is practice that matters, and practically no Eastern bishop wanted the bishop of Rome intruding into his affairs. Practically speaking, no Western bishop did either. 

    When St Dioscorus became Pope of Alexandria he received a letter from Leo of Rome which had a list of demands in it, to do with liturgical practices, insisting that Alexandria must do everything the same way as Rome. These demands were properly ignored since the bishop of Rome had and still has no authority to demand anything of any other Church, other than faithfulness to the truth of course.

    I have a very great regard for Catholics and many aspects of Catholicism. But WE ARE NOT CATHOLICS and we must not allow ourselves to become attracted even unwittingly by those erroneous doctrines which have defined Catholicism as separate from Orthodoxy. As far as I can see the worst of all these erroneous doctrines is the one which infected Rome most early, the false teaching that the bishop of Rome was the head of the Church and had authority over the whole of the Church. This teaching destroys the very fabric of the Church since no bishop is actually a bishop, every one is an assistant to the bishop of Rome.

    I hope that while retaining a deep respect for much of Catholicism and the Catholic people we will be able to entirely erase that influence of Catholic (and Protestant) thinking and practice which has manifestly affected our Orthodox Church in recent times. It does not belong to our faith and it diminishes our Faith.

    We do not believe in the primacy of the bishop of Rome - there is no Orthodox bishop of Rome in any case to be primate.

    We do not believe that the bishop of Rome is infallible

    We do not believe that the bishop of Rome, or indeed any bishop, even our beloved Pope Shenouda, is above the authority of a council of the Church

    We do not believe in Original Sin

    We do not believe in the Immaculate Conception

    We do not believe that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son

    We do not believe in an obligatory clerical celibacy

    We do not believe that baptism is properly performed by affusion

    We do not believe that the eucharist is properly received in one kind and using a wafer

    I fervently wish that we did not allow Western art to have such an influence

    I fervently wish that the writings of Augustine were not considered more important than those of our recognised Fathers.

    We are not Catholic. We do believe that the Catholic Church - which we love - has fallen into error. We must preserve ourselves from these same errors.

    Father Peter
  • Father Peter,

    I hope you feel better.  Even with the flu, your posts are wonderful.  Have you tried saline nasal spray?  I find it works well to eradicate the virus.

    Your post puts things nice and clear.  There are no ambiguities.

    I would just like to state, that your typing was a little fast on the keyboard.  I believe that you meant:  we are not Roman Catholic or Latin Rite.  We are Catholic (as in the Universal Church and in keepers of the Apostolic Faith).

    I apologize for the intrusion.  I just thought that since the translation of Universal and Catholic go back and forth in the English editions and rites in the United States, there may be some confusion.

    Get rid of the flu quickly, you have duties to attend to!

    God is with you.
  • Thanks Fr. Peter for your response.

    I hope you have speedy recovery from the flu! How can you have caught a flu during summer? That's not very orthodox - excuse the pun.

    Concerning the original question: why do the catholics therefore insist on them being the authority over us? I was speaking to some catholic theologians who told me that the meaning of the immaculate conception has evolved to now mean something that we can recognise today in our Church. The same goes with every single error in in their Church - they openly said that our biggest error is being outside of Rome's authority as Saint Peter IS the head of the apostles.

    Their only qualm with us is we are outside of Rome.

    I agree by the way with everything you said. You are 100% correct.
  • [quote author=Zoxsasi link=topic=9523.msg117313#msg117313 date=1280586094]
    Concerning the original question: why do the catholics therefore insist on them being the authority over us? I was speaking to some catholic theologians who told me that the meaning of the immaculate conception has evolved to now mean something that we can recognise today in our Church. The same goes with every single error in in their Church - they openly said that our biggest error is being outside of Rome's authority as Saint Peter IS the head of the apostles.

    i don't understand how must we be "inside/under Rome" as to outside Rome. We are the Church of Alexandria.

    HGB David said it ones that despite all the dogmas different between us and them, before any dialogue between us and them they insist on use believing "The Primacy of Saint Peter"...which is logically, theologically and politically unacceptable. 
  • [quote author=minagir link=topic=9523.msg117332#msg117332 date=1280634920]
    [quote author=Zoxsasi link=topic=9523.msg117313#msg117313 date=1280586094]
    Concerning the original question: why do the catholics therefore insist on them being the authority over us? I was speaking to some catholic theologians who told me that the meaning of the immaculate conception has evolved to now mean something that we can recognise today in our Church. The same goes with every single error in in their Church - they openly said that our biggest error is being outside of Rome's authority as Saint Peter IS the head of the apostles.

    i don't understand how must we be "inside/under Rome" as to outside Rome. We are the Church of Alexandria.

    HGB David said it ones that despite all the dogmas different between us and them, before any dialogue between us and them they insist on use believing "The Primacy of Saint Peter"...which is logically, theologically and politically unacceptable. 

    Of course I agree ya Mina with Bishop David. But i'm asking why THEY (The catholics) insist on the condition of their patriarch being the head of our Church? I mean, what do they have to gain?? Is it really for power??  What is their motive? Do they really believe that a Church is established on a person? or on that person's faith?
  • [quote author=peterfarrington link=topic=9523.msg117307#msg117307 date=1280564188]

    We do not believe that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son

    This has always confused me, especially if all three components of the Holy Trinity are equal. Since Christ said, "I and my Father are one," why is it that we say the Holy Spirit proceeds from just the father?
  • [quote author=George_Mina_Awad link=topic=9523.msg117373#msg117373 date=1280792451]
    [quote author=peterfarrington link=topic=9523.msg117307#msg117307 date=1280564188]

    We do not believe that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son

    This has always confused me, especially if all three components of the Holy Trinity are equal. Since Christ said, "I and my Father are one," why is it that we say the Holy Spirit proceeds from just the father?

    Father Peter Farrington can correct me if I'm wrong, but this is the reason (as far as I understand it):

    The Father is the Source. From the Father, proceeds His Son, His Word. A perpetual Father to a perpetual Son. Through the Son, everything was made. Everything was created through the Son.
    So if everything was created through the Son, it would mean that the Life Giving Holy Spirit proceeds THROUGH the Son, not FROM the Son.

    There's a huge difference. The Son is not the Source. Its the Father.

    At 1st glance, it is quite easy to think that this is a trivial matter. But its at the basic fundamental root of basic theology. Its not a trivial issue at all.

    If we say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son, it means the Trinity is no longer a Trinity. It changes everything.

    I would love it if Fr. Peter, who is a theologian, could elaborate on this, and perhaps even correct me if I've mis-stated anything.

    I'm no theologian, but clearly, we DO believe in a Trinity. That's not rocket science, and it is abundantly clear that if the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son AND the Father, then this impacts everything. I know theology is not the easiest subject, and I even look to people such as Fr. Peter for continual guidance, but it is foolish to assume that this is a trivial issue.

    So, when bishops, metropolitans etc, and even patriarchs make such a mistake by saying that the Holy Spirit proceeds from BOTH the Father AND the Son, they are not children. They are not immature. This a serious problem. If I made that mistake, so be it. But, this coming from a Patriarch???!!!

    And the Catholics want us to have ONE Patriarch (theirs!) so that the Church can be safe from any dogmatical errors is ludicrous - especially when their own Church is spurting out heresies left, right and center.

    I must tell you something - its VERY difficult, as an Egyptian Orthodox Christian, to actually appreciate your Church. Its hard - perhaps we see our Church often as a social gathering, or as a place of worship (like any other). But those who are are not Coptic value us. When you see the respect our Church has amongst other Orthodox denominations - you'll begin to see why we cannot go around accepting such heresies and swallow them - just in the name of unity. Its impossible.

    I am 99% sure the Catholics will come out (in the near or late future) and tell us ".. Yes! That's what we meant, it was a problem of semantics.. the Holy Spirit proceeds THROUGH the Son, from the Father. It was just a terrible misunderstanding".

    A terrible misunderstanding?? One that caused a division and was wicked in its administration?? Now we in the era of communication. We can do acrobatics with how we communicate with one another, and yet this error will be so hard to correct for the Catholics. They will have to lose face over it. They cannot, after all these erroneous dogmas, expect ANYONE to want to be under their leadership. Its not possible. Its not even desirable.

    I don't want it, and I happen to be a proponent of the Catholic Church!!!
  • I just received my latest issue of "Coptic Church Review" (Printed:  East Rutherford, NJ; Spring/Summer 2010, Vol 31, Number 1), there was an article on p. 8-17, entitled:  On the Coptic Church, by H.H. Pope Shenouda III.  It is transcription of lecture he gave in May 1977 at the University of California at Berkley, where he received an honorary doctorate.

    H.H. covered a lot interesting points concerning the Coptic Orthodox Church.  He also touched on the Primacy of Rome, this is referenced on pg. 13-14.  A specific and logical point that His Holiness makes, which I took for granted, and not mentioned earlier, was that:  St. Peter was martyred in approx. 67 A.D. and St. John was still living.  St. John the Beloved is the longest living of the apostles, even to the year 100 A.D. as reckoned by all Church historians.  Since St. John is an apostle, a witness to Christ personally, attendant at the Lord's Supper, having placed his head on the Bosom of Our Lord, and having been entrusted with the care of the Virgin Mary, would he be subject to a theoretical successor to St. Peter?  St. John, as one of the 12 Apostles, ecclesiastically and by all accord would be at a higher position then any of the reigning bishops at the time.  It would be impossible, by any account, that any theoretical successor to St. Peter would have any jurisdiction over St. John.  This reinforces the issue that there was no primacy, and that each jurisdiction was responsible for its own jurisdiction.

    It is a very wonderful article, but this particular portion I thought was appropriate to mention at this juncture.
  • To add to what ilovesaintmark said, H.H. said in a word spoken to the congregation of East Rutherford, NJ church when his holiness was consecrating it (atleast that's what i heard this concept from hh) that one thing that they use to The Primacy of Saint Peter is him being a "patriarch of Rome"....which we disagree upon. We can find out from Saint Paul's epistles (more specifically Romans) that Saint Paul stayed in Rome for a while and established a church there where he also have rented a place to live in to support the believers. So it would only be fitting that Saint Paul would be the one who established the Church of Rome.

    Also, it is known that the Church of Antioch was established by St. Peter and St. Paul.
  • The Church of Antioch is attributed to St. Peter.  The Patriarchs of Antioch identify themselves as the successors to St. Peter.  Although, St. Paul was on the road to Damascus to go persecute the Christians there, and whereupon he was given a revelation that led to his conversion.

    St. Ignatius was ordained by St. Peter as his successor in Antioch.
  • It is also said by several historians, that the first Basilica (currently known as St. Peter's Basilica) was given the name originally as Sts. Peter and Paul.  Moreover, St. John Lateran, the Basilica, is the Cathedral Church of the Bishop of Rome, not the current St. Peter's Basilica.  The current St. Peter's Basilica is the third edifice to stand on that site.  I would also add that the two main statutes at the entrance of the plaza/piaza are for St. Peter and St. Paul.

    The state of the decline of the Roman Coliseum is related to the taking of marble and limestone to build the current St. Peter's Basilica.
  • It's actually an oddity relative to the Primacy of Peter, that the Prime Cathedral for the Roman See is St. John Lateran, and that the Bishop of Rome assumes that Cathedral first before he accepts St. Peter's Basilica.

    By itself, in the self same Roman Tradition, the Primacy is inconsistent.
  • So ultimately, there is no spiritual benefit at all in having a Patriarch govern all patriarchates like this. They (The RC) should not be making out that this is a huge heresy - our Bishops are real bishops, and our Patriarch is not only the successor of Saint Mark's Position, but also the successor of his faith.

    No innovation, no changes, no waffling, no added ingredients, no artificial additives. 100% Pure Concentrated Orthodoxy Orange Juice.
  • Well of course the Roman Catholics DO believe there is a spiritual benefit in having one visible head of the whole Church. And to some extent it depends, from an Eastern point of view, what is meant by 'visible head of the whole Church'.

    It has been allowed in the past that the Pope of Rome might be a court of final appeal in situations that could not be resolved by the Holy Synod of a local Church. But in fact being able to appeal to another Patriarch tended to create as many problems as were ever solved. A notional primacy of honour might also be allowed, since the bishop of Rome was bishop of the Imperial capital.

    When the bishop of Rome agreed with another Church leader then he might be appealed to as a support in some controversy. But of course there were many times when the bishop of Rome was on the wrong side of a controversy, what then? It seems that he was much less likely to be referred to as an authority.

    Nevertheless in Rome itself there was a very rapid development of the idea that the bishop of Rome was the head and ruler of the whole Church and only needed to speak for any issue to be resolved. Leo of Rome already displayed this false ecclesiology. It was not accepted in the East. Those times when the bishop of Rome had most authority were only when the Emperor needed some sort of unity with the West more than he needed unity of the Eastern Church. If the Emperor had the upper hand then it was not unknown for Popes to be held in prison in Constantinople until they obeyed the Emperor.

    There are of course a letters etc which can be used to show how highly correspondents thought of the Pope. But flowery words in a letter are not the same as actions. And it is clear that practically the Eastern Church never accepted the universal jurisdiction of the Pope of Rome, even if they granted him a primacy of honour. Even in the West the Pope of Rome was not allowed a universal jurisdiction - even though he tried to exercise one. In 553 AD when the new Pope came back from Constantinople he could only find two bishops and a priest to consecrate him, all the rest of the Western Church refused to have anything to do with him, and parts of the West were separated from Rome for 150 years. The Church in England used Rome as a useful court of appeal but tended to ignore the instructions of the Pope.

    The history of the papacy is the history of increasing claims to universal jurisdiction. But it is also the history of a continuing rejection of these claims by the East, and the resistance of these claims in the West. It seems to Rome that the Church needs a central organising figure, but the Orthodox Church resists this idea as a heterodox ecclesiology. It changes everything. It means that there are really no bishops at all in the Church except the Pope of Rome. In fact the primacy of each bishop, and the existence of local Churches has protected the Orthodox Church from many errors. When one place is infected it is possible for the wider Church to bring about health and healing. If there is only one bishop, then when he falls, and Popes have often fallen into error, then the whole Church falls with him.

    I am working on a booklet that considers the Roman Catholic beliefs from an Orthodox point of view. Not because I have anything but the warmest feelings towards the Roman Catholics I deal with and enjoy spending time with, but because it seems to me that it has become too easy for our Coptic youth to become influenced by those Catholic ideas which are error. We need to rediscover the value and substance of our Orthodox tradition and not easily accept another tradition whether Catholic or Protestant.

    Father Peter
  • I've heard the EO claims the Bishop of Rome was considered the "first among equals" of the Patriarchs. What do we say about this?
  • edited October 2017
    In our common history, Rome did have a sense of respect among other patriarchs. But they did not have jurisdictional or dogmatic authority over the world’s churches. That’s what we mean by “first among equals”. Still though, Rome had her own authority in Western Europe and Western North Africa, outside of which was not really her business to deal with unless she was invited to advise, kind of like how presidents ask former presidents or other world leaders for advise, but former presidents and other leaders have no real jurisdiction in that area and the present president has the final word.
  • So, to make sure I'm clear on this and to provide answers for anyone who comes looking through here:
    - In the Oriental Orthodox rite (OO), the Patriarch is the "First among Equals"- he has no more or less power or authority than any other bishop. He just has special jobs given to him by God.
    - In the Roman Catholic rite (RC), the Pontiff is higher than all bishops and cardinals. His word is always true.
    - OO belief is that the Patriarch takes the job of helping the church and by acting as St. Mark would've acted
    - RC believes that the Pope needs to lead the church based on the times (changing rites because they're "old", etc.)
    - OO believes that the Patriarch is no higher than the Patriarchs of the churches (Tewahedo, Eritrean, Roman, Greek, etc.)
    - RC believes that the Pope is the head of the entire religious world on earth, eg, he is higher than anyone else.

    Please correct me if I'm wrong!
  • Thank you! Also, does the EO subscribe to this same thinking as the OO?
  • First comparison: His words is always true ONLY if he speaks “ex cathedra”. That last distinction is important. Now if you ask me what that means, I tried understanding it and I have yet to know. It’s sort of the loophole in Catholic theology that almost makes papal infallibility meaningless to me.

    Second comparison: not sure what you mean. Please clarify. Are you saying the present Coptic rite we are praying is what St. Mark gave us? Then no, that’s way too simplistic to describe it, and history is a lot more complex than what we caricature it to be. And this is being fair.
  • @minasoliman Ex Cathedra means "from the chair"- pretty much (and I'm condensing this) it means his official statements are true- his daily speech, like conversations, are not infallible. Kinda covers their butts: if he says it's 3 pm somewhere when it's not, it's obviously not, but it wasn't said ex cathedra, so it's human.

    TL;DR: The Catholic Pope is always right so long as it's an official statement.
  • Does the EO currently have the same view on this that we do?

    Also, paradox: What if the pope said "ex cathedra" that the pope is never infallible? Lol
  • edited October 2017
    EOs generally do have the same view, although there is conflict among EOs what the exact role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate (EP) really is. Some EOs accuse (yes accuse, and sometimes very harshly) the EP of trying to impose something similar to the RC pope over all Orthodox. Moscow Patriarchate (MP) has had some conflict over the EP questioning the relevance of her power compared to the first few centuries of the Church.

    There is also another issue, where both MP and EP historically have lead to, which is called “Caesaropapism”. This is the belief that the Orthodox Christian emperor of an official Orthodox Christian empire (Constantinople in the ancient world, Moscow in later times) would be the leader of the whole Church and would enforce the convening of councils to pass dogmatic decrees. While the Orthodox emperor was convenient in ancient Christian history, to make it a necessary part and aim of Orthodox hierarchy and leadership is no different than RC papal infallibility.

    Finally, EOs also have a hypothetical basis of ecumenical councils being the authority that trumps papal infallibility. This is considered conciliar infallibility, and the word “ecumenical” is sometimes interpreted as “infallible”. This idea is simply a convenient replacement of papal infallibility with the councils, and does not show much flexibility of the local authorities of each Church as a good representation of the Catholic Church; neither does it acknowledge the historical reality of the complexities of such types of authority.

    Altogether, while EOs do agree with us AGAINST the RCs, they have yet to have any consistent understanding of ecclesiastical authority in a realistic sense, and are filled with many disagreements in that regard. There is one bishop who published a paper on Church authority and councils that agree with OO understanding of authority, written by Metropolitan Hilarion.

    Unfortunately, this paper is ignored among most of the EOs and they continue to teach variants of Church authority that could potentially lead to conflict with OO beliefs, which is why unity at the moment is at a stalemate.

    “What if the pope said "ex cathedra" that the pope is never infallible?”

    Lol! I like the way you think. Catholics have given two answers to your paradox:

    1. That will never happen
    2. If it happened it would never be “ex cathedra”

    Again, it shows how meaningless this doctrine really is...or to be fair, maybe I just yet to fully comprehend its usefulness or tranditional dogmatic necessity

  • I know I'm Coptic (and female), but part of me slightly wishes I could be the Catholic pope just to do that. Rofl.

    But I think they interpret "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" as "there shall be not a single mistake ever that you will work to correct"

    I personally am not one to believe that getting a minor thing wrong means that the gates of hell have prevailed... if that thing is noticed and corrected. (Please let me know if I am wrong about this)
  • You’re right...our own Pope can make mistakes. No one is infallible, even the bishops and the Pope. We trust the Holy Spirit to mysteriously guide the Orthodox Church through it even when mistakes occur, to bring us back in the right path. History has taught sometimes this requires a council and sometimes this requires one person of the Church. The Holy Spirit blows where He wills for the best of the Church.
  • Simple hole in the argument of Papal Infallibility: God is always right because he decides/has decided/will decide what happens. If the Pope has the same quality of always being right, then either he is God, or God is speaking to him personally, as in the Old Testament. Now the latter can't happen because, like I said, that's Old Testament. And he most certainly is NOT God. Therefore, either the entire church (RC included) has a misunderstanding of God or the Pope can be wrong. Either way, it sucks for RC
  • Ex cathedra has multiple prerequisite conditions. Even if a RC pope says something in ex cathedra and it violates these conditions, it is not officially recognized as infallible.

    These conditions include
    1. He has to be RC pope (no one else)
    2. He has to define a doctrine
    3. Doctrine has to concern faith or morals.
    4. Doctrine has to be binding to all Christians.
    5. Doctrine has to be immutable.

    Thus if Lovejoypeace were the RC pope, and she claimed ex cathedra that RC pope is NOT infallible, it violates conditions #2,3, and 5. (Obviously claiming infallibility is not infallible is the definition of mutability)

    If any pope says So and so dogma about evolution is ex cathedra it would violate #5 since evolutionary theories have not been shown to be immutable.

    If any pope says so and so dogma applies to Eastern Catholics and not Roman Catholics, it violates #4. 

    If any pope says Patriots will win the Superbowl (even though it will happen), it violates #2 since he is not defining any dogma and #3 since the Patriots and the superbowl are not matters of faith and morals and #4 since not all Christians are Patriots fans nor do all Christians need to care about the superbowl.

    So you can see it is nearly impossible to declare something ex cathedra. It has only been used twice in RC history: Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary. (Goes to show you where RC priorities are)

    Regarding what Daniel_Kyrillos said:
    The concept of papal infallibility is a direct reflection of faith in God. It is God who reveals the truth over time. Papal infallibility is the reaffirmation that the RC pontiff is defining the interpretation of that Truth. God is not talking to him like he did with the prophets. Nor is it any way a declaration that he himself is God (or became God by nature). Rather, he is exercising his office that Jesus (allegedly) gave him the authority to do. And they have set out checks and balance on how he can exercise the office.

    I bring this up, not to show why RC papal infallibility may be right, rather to illustrate that we need to know what RC papal infallibility really is, not a caricature of it is. It's one of my biggest peeves: arguing against something that no one actually believes.
  • Unfortunately conditional infallibility is bit infallibity. It seemsike it's basically saying, "If he happens to be right and it's something about faith, then it's infallible" (Unfortunately some of the things they think are right are not like the Immaculate Conception. And Purgatory)
  • I wasn't arguing in favor of papal infallibility. It is wrong no matter how it is worded.

    One point to clear up. Papal infallibility as I described above is not conditional infallibility. According to RC theology, it is absolute infallibility because it comes from the office of Peter allegedly given by Jesus Christ. So they don't consider it conditional infallibility.

    The conditions (really they are parts of the definition of papal infallibility) are there for people to recognize where, when and how that absolute infallibility is active. This is important because technically speaking purgatory is not an example of papal infallibility. As I said it's only been used twice. 

    But you're right. There is a logical flaw in the whole concept of papal infallibility. 
  • It could be argued the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary violates number 3, because they are unnecessary to the faith, at least in the system of soteriology in the Orthodox Church.
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