Skip to comments.Benedict XVI: Break Up the Patriarchy of the West?
Posted on 05/14/2005 9:29:13 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o
May 5, 2005
Ratzinger advocated breaking up the Latin Patriarchate
...Joseph Ratzinger, for example, pointed out the need to disentangle the confusion between the patriarchal and primatial roles of the bishop of Rome and to break up the Latin patriarchate, replacing it with a number of patriarchal areas, that is, regions with an autonomy similar to that of the ancient patriarchates, but under the direction of the episcopal conferences.
In an essay entitled Primacy and Episcopacy, Ratzinger developed the theme at greater length:
The image of a centralized state which the Catholic church presented right up to the council does not flow only from the Petrine office, but from its strict amalgamation with the patriarchal function which grew ever stronger in the course of history and which fell to the bishop of Rome for the whole of Latin Christendom.
The uniform canon law, the uniform liturgy, the uniform appointment of bishops by the Roman center: all these are things which are not necessarily part of the primacy but result from the close union of the two offices. For that reason, the task to consider for the future will be to distinguish again and more clearly between the proper function of the successor of Peter and the patriarchal office and, where necessary, to create new patriarchates and to detach them from the Latin church.
To embrace unity with the pope would then no longer mean being incorporated into a uniform administration, but only being inserted into a unity of faith and communio, in which the pope is acknowledged to have the power to give binding interpretations of the revelation given in Christ whose authority is accepted whenever it is given in definitive form.
(Excerpt) Read more at orthodoxytoday.org ...
There's plenty of links off of this that are even more interesting. I think it has huge implications. What say ye, Men of the West? (What say ye, Men of the East? Women? North? South? Anyone?)
If His Holiness wants to re-re model after the East, what will the role of the Laity be?
I think the Laity plays a pretty big role in the autocephalous model, that's how the big dogs are kept in check, I believe. And the reason the Orthodox are successful is because the Laity is high-claiber in that they willingly embrace and protect Tradition.
How will that ever be the case (at least in the forseeable future) for the RC Laity?
To talk about things as a theologian, theorizing and considering options, is often a different reality than actually having the job and running things. It will be interesting to see how his speculations as theologian are deemed doable by him now that he has the job!
How will that ever be the case (at least in the forseeable future) for the RC Laity?
Oh, we've got a respectable percentage of (Traditional) active ingredients...
But what you say is interesting. Want to make us some practical suggestions?
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Thanks for the ping.
That word, 'communio,' will be a focus of this Papacy.
Maybe you do, and God bless you for that. But here in the diocese of Rochester, the same can't even remotely be said.
But what you say is interesting. Want to make us some practical suggestions?
Don't have much. Think that a page should be taken from the Orthodox in how they've achieved that, initally at least from a structural point of view.
Perhaps the reason the Orthodox Laity is more inclined to embrace and protect Tradition, is that Tradition isn't as rigidly defined. It's tied into the process of becoming, day by day more perfect, like Our Father in Heaven, as our Lord commanded.
It's a mentality that I think is at variance with the RC mentality. I'm not saying it's an impossible obstacle, but that it is integral to the differences.
A start would be to segregate them out into:
Latin (Spanish/French/Portugese/Italian areas)
Cardinal Ratzinger wrote Primat und Episkopat in 1969.
Perhaps he has changed his thinking since then.
The Orthodox have that structure, and they bicker back and forth and have different rules depending on which patriarchy you would find yourself in.
Can't you just see this? It would make things much worse for catholics. One diocese would decide this, another that, which is already the case even worse than before.
There is so much instability right now. It would be a grand concession to the Orthodox, but it could throw catholicism around the world into total chaos.
The only thing that is holding the church together, for better or for worse, doctrinally is Rome, and only Rome has been able to have any affect on some of the liturgical abuses and little effect on some of the other problems as things stand now.
If all the bishops get together regularly and agree to the letter, I would be ok with it. That ain't likely to happen.
I wouldn't put it past some bishops to allow kool aid and dog biscuits.
I see your point. Seeing the USCCB as a model for a patriarchate strikes me a stupefyingly wrongheaded. (Not that that's what Benedetto would do: we have yet to see.)
On the other hand, for say 1200 years the West has conflated the roles of Pope and Patriarch of the West (historically almost inevitable at the time: the Age of Barbarian Invasions and all), but that led to a frankly ugly policy of in effect demanding that the churches of the East abandon/compromise all their holy traditions to become Latin/Western. This is spiritual oppression and a terrible injustice.
Think of India: a billion people. Think of China: a billion people. If there's ever an evangelizing wave sweeps over those two nations, is there a snowball's chance they could be "managed" from a central administration in Rome, let alone drawn into an essentially European religious culture?
SHOULD they be?
I dunno. An "English-speaking" Patriarchate sounds way too vulnerable to USCCBaloney; an Asian one sounds almost essential for global evangelization.
Thank you posting that information. It was the first question that came to my mind.
Obviously, it is very practical, given the first part of your next statement and the fact that we are liturgically and theologically stable.
"The Orthodox have that structure, and they bicker back and forth and have different rules depending on which patriarchy you would find yourself in."
I will be the last to deny that Orthodox are prone to bickering about things, but as our priest has said, we're so busy arguing over how many sitchera to sing at "Lord, I have cried..." at Vespers that we'll never get far enough down the list to get to gay marriage and women priests. I have spoken before of the "peer pressure" within Orthodoxy to keep the traditions of the Church: pressure of laity on clergy, pressure of clergy on bishops, bishops on each other, etc...
It really is true. For us, tradition is a very living thing, but the movement is always one of moving forward by continually returning to traditional roots.
"There is so much instability right now. It would be a grand concession to the Orthodox, but it could throw catholicism around the world into total chaos."
I'd be surprised if then Cardinal Ratzinger was viewing this as merely a concession to the Orthodox. He seems rather in his statements to indicate that he first and foremost thinks it would be healthy for the West itself.
I think that there is a lot of truth to the statement that it could lead to chaos right now, and AlbionGirl's comments on the condition of her diocese backs that up. My own observations of the RC dioceses in some of the places where I have lived are that things would really spin out of control with any kind of autonomy.
But that doesn't make the centralized, top-down structure of Roman Catholicism healthy. My own opinion is that it is this centralization that allowed the current rot. The lack of a sense on the part of the vast majority Roman Catholics that they personally were responsible for defending the faith, even against their own bishops and Popes, was devastating. I have often quoted this from then Cardinal Ratzinger, who seems to understand this:
After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the pope really could do anything in liturgical matters, especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council. Eventually, the idea of the givenness of the liturgy, the fact that one cannot do with it what one will, faded from the public consciousness of the West.
This is important from an Orthodox perspective, because the liturgical services of the Church are a primary means of shaping our faith and morals. Change the Liturgy, and one changes the faith -- at least eventually. In the RC church, the Liturgy has not played this role to such an extensive degree, and instead has relied heavily on the formal teachings and declarations of the Magesterium.
What the modern Roman church is discovering, however, is that the Vatican can talk until it is blue in the face about the teachings of the Magesterium, but if it is not backed up by liturgical life, it simply doesn't stick. The people in America poured out to big stadiums to treat JPII like a rock star, but they roundly ignored what he had to say on moral matters, if polling data is to be believed.
B16 would seem to understand that his church needs to reconnect with the ancient tradition (and his writings indicate that the Tridentine church was every bit as much in need of such a reconnection and reform as is the church of today -- just in different ways.)
It would very much surprise me if B16 began the (certainly needed) process of decentralization without linking it to a process of intensive catechesis, and more importantly, to the process of recognizing and reinforcing the importance of those laity who are promoting *the right kinds* of reforms. JPII seemed to be just as harsh on laity who challenged the actions (or inactions) of the Vaticans based on tradition as he was on those who challenged him because they didn't believe the teachings of Christianity. The fact of disobedience or dissent was more important than what the dissention was about.
This sort of dissent happens all the time in Orthodox churches -- laity challenging and arguing (usually respectfully) with their priests and bishops. While no-one in authority likes to be challenged, most clergy respond by listening carefully and being open to the fact that maybe a pious layman or a non-ordained monastic (the vast majority of our monastics are non-ordained) is more connected with the living tradition of the Church than is he, on a given point. If the person presenting the dissent, however, is basing what he has to say on something besides the tradition of the Church -- well, the priest usually either smiles and nods and ignores, or simply sets the person straight.
The optimum outcome: We become like the Orthodox
The likely outcome: We become like the Anglican Communion.
Thanks for the information. I wondered how long ago he had written this.
Re: Cardinal Ratzinger wrote Primat und Episkopat in 1969
My thinking has certainly "evolved" since 1969 when I was a senior in high school. What a difference thirty six years makes.
Lord help me if someone wants to hold me to some of the ideas I had back then.
I'll second everything that Agrarian has said with just a couple of observations. First, I would think that instead of Patriarchies, you'd have Eparchies of the Throne of +Peter, headed by a Cardinal Archbishop appointed by Rome and administered by an Eparchial Synod of some sort, probably made up of Metropolitans but perhaps all the bishops would be in it. That might get awfully large and cumbersome, though. My big fear would be that since the Roman Catholic laity has had no role to speak of beyond "pay, pray and obey" in the Church for 1000 years or more, especially such a role as would make it natural for them to act as the watch dogs of the orthodoxy of the hierarchs, heresy would crop up and firmly root itself very quickly. Your laity, as a general rule, wouldn't know heresy or the near occasion of the same if it hit them in the face, which it is every week in some dioceses, and even when they do see it, they don't seem to care. Rome has shown itself reluctant to remove unorthodox people like +Mahoney even under the present system. Under even what I have suggested, let alone under separate Patriarchates, removal might be even harder and less likely to happen. Someone or some position like a Grand Inquisitor (seriously, ninenot, with all due respect!) would have to be established to assure orthodoxy in the absence of the peer pressure which the 1800 year old Orthodox system generally insures. What would your liberal fellow communicants think of that? Frankly, though such a system looks great at first glance, it wouldn't work for the Roman Church and it would be very, very bad for any hope of improved relations with Orthodoxy. Who would we talk to? It will take a couple of hundred years of catechesis and at least a few major schisms in the Western Church before it will be ready for an Orthodox type system. I have great confidence in +Benedict XVI; I think most Orthodox who have noticed do too, but this is just a bad idea whose time has definitely not come.
I'm not sure how "optimum" the Orthodox solution is, with all due respect. For one thing, it has frequently left Orthodox churches very vulnerable to government interference, and even to a cosy system where the secular head has acknowledged power over episcopal appointments and clergy in the church.
It also tends to carry this all the way down to the parish level. When I lived near Cleveland, one of the regular features was the break-up of Orthodox churches, either because they had gotten mad at some primate somewhere (not necessarily even in this country) or simply because they were arguing over the property, which was generally owned by the parish and not the diocese. They even had a shooting over this, and a friend who was the daughter of an Orthodox priest told me that her father at one point kept a gun behind the altar because members of a warring Orthodox church had threatened him.
So all is not rosy with a more fragmented system. And I'm certainly not enthusiastic about the idea of having "national patriarchs," which could, as you say, be the USCCB writ large. Or it could also be like some of the unfortunate Orthodox churches that ended up confusing nationalism with Christianity.
These are all structural matters and have nothing to do with faith or doctrine, btw, but they are things that have to be worked out carefully.
I could see some sort of system based on rites, but not on nationality. However, even then, I think we have to be careful about not losing the aspect of universality, which is something that is very important in the Church.
Sadly, in the USA, most people define 'tradition' as anything done in THEIR lifetime.
GKC understood tradition better ('the democracy of the dead..') but it would take more than a couple weeks' catechesis to put a sense of history into American RC's--or their Bishops, in many cases.
Seriously, Kolo, we are ready, willing, and (if not perfectly,)--ABLE!
Our Grand Inquisitor (BlackElk, who has not accepted the nomination) will be delighted to meet with you regarding the details.
A pious re-iteration of the necessity for RKBA.
The Western Hemisphere could become the Patriarchy of the (West) Indies with the primatial see being at Guadalupe in Mexico where Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego!
From an Orthodox perspective, it is a very unnatural thing to have parallel churches side by side, but it is the reality. But to have parallel churches that use the same rite side by side is even more unthinkable.
But of course this not only the problem between Ukrainian Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, and Ukrainian Catholics all celebrating the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom side-by-side, glaring at each other in Kiev, but even here in Southern Appalachia USA.
Here, where Orthodox are less than 1% of the population, we still have Antiochians, ROCORs, Greeks, etc. each with their miniscule congregation, and each making a tiny,insect-like high-pitched squeeks that sound like keeee- keke ke-seseee-seeee and when you approach closer,you find it's not a rapid run-through of kyrie eleison on 78 RPM, it's I've got the keeeeeey to the front door and I'm changing the locks, seee-e-e- you in court..."
Some people very close to me were caught up in these incredibly bitter fights of laity vs pastor, pastor vs bishop, one jurisdiction battling the other through lawyers, lawsuits over property. Some people left Orthodoxy over it, and some were so badly scandalized,they lost their faith in God. I know whereof I speak. I guess that's one reason why ---- though loving the beautiful traditional Orthodox Liturgy --- I'm still Catholic after all these years.
LOL! That was my experience, too, both in the Midwest and in San Francisco.
But what would St. John Chrysostom think of this ....um...Rite to Keep and Bear Arms???? Would be be incensed? Or enchanted?
St. J.C. may or may not have ever encountered some of the icons--art such as the S&W revolver, or the H&K semi-auto, or even the more modern Beretta .22's recently introduced.
Thanks very much for posting that info, I mean, 1969!! We're supposed to be worried about what a young theologian wrote in 1969?!
If you go to some of the links in the article, you'll see he's been publishing oppinions like this SINCE 1969 (when he was a young theologian of 42.) The most recent citations are well within his tenure as head of the CDF under Pope John Paul II.
I'm not "worried" about this. In fact, I am mildly hopeful about what the impact could be of disentangling the papal role from the ecclesially distinct role of Patriarch of the West. I am convinced that Jesus Christ founded the ministry of Peter as a providential and transmissible role; however patriarchs (like cardinals and all the curial and chancery posts) are a human invention.
I keep telling myself: there must be a difference between an apostolic heirarchy and a clerical bureaucracy...
With due regard to the above cautions about the date of Ratzinger's comments and the fact that he made them as a private theologian and not as the Pope, I am not so sure that it is beyond the pale. In fact, it already exists in the distinction between the Latin rite and the Eastern rites in communion with Rome. What Ratzinger appeared to be suggesting is that the primacy would pertain to doctrine and magisterium, the patriarchies to matters of jurisdiction and discipline (canon law, liturgy, etc.). If that is the case it would simply be expanding on a model which already exists. Even more, did it not exist for centuries before the Great Schism between East and West? I am no historian, but that is my general impression. Finally, the union of primacy and patriarchy might have seemed more appropriate when the Western church was primarily European, and no doubt it was reinforced in response to the divisive and nationalistic character of the Protestant Reformation. But now that Catholicism has become a world religion and serious ecumenical efforts are afoot, perhaps the time for a newer model has come. I am sure it would be more attractive not only to the Orthodox but also to the more conservative part of the Anglican communion.
And it would just be an extension of regional roles already developed in the Church. (Notably, the non-Latin rites in communion with Rome--- and remember the Baltimore Catechism? Not so radical really.)
I think that if the power of the geronto-communists in China were broken, things could develop there very rapidly. An Asian Patriarchate (or Eparchy) could move things along more expeditiously than waiting for all initiatives from Rome...
Veni, Sancte Spiritus! (100x)
The organizational situation in the "diaspora" is completely uncanonical, and everyone knows it -- although it doesn't keep some folks from having triumphalistic visions of their particular jurisdiction. These jurisdictional divisions have both given rise to some of the unpleasant situations you mention, and have muted the ability of hierarchs to rein in parish revolts that are not happening for good reasons.
I was in a parish where there was a revolt that could have resulted in a nasty split. The revolt, however, was one that stemmed from solid reasons: pastoral malpractice and some twisted theology creeping in. The dean and bishop handled things very well, but I can tell you that if the people hadn't been vigilant and persistent, we would have had real problems.
We had Catholic family members of some of our parishioners rendered to states of bewonderment: that we would actually care about what they perceived as being relatively minor problems, that we would appeal so forcfully to the bishop, that we would imagine that a bishop would actually listen to us, and that the bishop would actually act. Of course these were parishioners who were in a diocese where one of the most prominent priests is a known homosexual, and where the diocese had paid off big settlements to several young men that he had allegedly sexually assaulted (including another priest), but he has yet to be removed or disciplined -- so one can see where their incredulity came from.
One of the things that made the case put to the bishop so strong was that the message was quietly relayed through discreet channels that there would be no property struggle or lawsuits. If the situation was not resolved, there would have been a huge parish walkout, but no attempt to keep the property by this vast majority of the parish would have ensued. The people involved were prepared to walk away from a whole lot of money and work that they had put into the parish, just to have a place to pray in peace and safety.
That parish emerged intact, and stronger and larger in spite of, and partly because of the process.
I guess what I'm saying is that while I certainly am sickened by some of the situations you mention (I fortunately have never been around one, but I've certainly heard about them), I wouldn't have it any other way, since I saw first hand what was happening to that parish and the countless people who would simply have either left the Church or been drawn into something very sick had concerned parishioners not acted to defend the faith and spiritual life of the parish.
I'm familiar with two very unfortunate cases in the southern Appalachians -- one in NC, the other in Atlanta. Both were intimately tied up with poor episcopal judgment (one on the part of the ROCOR, the other on the part of the OCA.) I've been to both of the parishes involved, and both are wonderful communities. Situations like this are truly tragic. They are certainly less common than they were decades ago, since ethnic chauvinism is dropping rapidly and there are not the complicating factors of communist governments back in the old countries. With the rapproachment of the ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate rapidly coming down on us, the situation should improve even more.
It may be that these things go on with great frequency yet today, but I'm not seeing it. Maybe I've just lived a sheltered Orthodox life this past decade and a half. I've moved a lot and have been a member of 6 parishes in four different jurisdictions and have attended frequently and had good relationships with at least a dozen more (and add in a couple more jurisdictions). None of these parishes had these kinds of things go on, at least in recent memory, and in all of these cities the Orthodox of different jurisdictions got along great. Even at my ROCOR parish (which sometimes has a reputation for being isolationist because of their history), our priest was best of friends with the Greek priest in town -- we borrowed their much larger church for weddings and funerals, and he frequently came to our functions.
I certainly grieve when I hear of people losing their faith over petty disputes within or between parishes -- or even over serious and valid disputes that are carried out in petty ways. It is unfortunate that all of the Orthodox parishes that you've been exposed to are in legal fights over property and changing locks and hiding keys. I just have to say that this has simply not been my experience at all.
Part of it probably has to do with "Old World" habits and conflicts, as well as peculiarities of property ownership. I imagine that as the population of Orthodox churches shifts away from immigrants or people who have grown up in that culture, this model will fade away.
Also, the presence of former Catholics probably helps, since they have a different experience with church structure. Protestants in the US tend to have church break-ups on a fairly regular basis (hence the scores of different denominations), but I suspect that most of those who become Orthodox come from the more stable churches, and they probably contribute to stability, too.
It would be lovely to hit a happy medium between tiny warring cells and a vast amorphous top-down entity...but perhaps there's no ideal situation anywhere short of Heaven!
Well, I mean 33 A.D...we're suppossed to be worried what a young carpenter said in 33 A.D.?? It alllll matters...
Kolokotronis will tell you that the most avid "obey the bishop no matter what" types in the GOA during their recent unpleasantries were disproportionately Protestant converts. We certainly found that during the unpleasantries in the parish situation I mentioned above that the "he's the priest and therefore can do no wrong and must be obeyed" contingent was almost entirely Protestant converts.
On the other hand Catholics converting to Orthodoxy sometimes "feel their oats" a bit...
But I do think that at root, former Catholics (and, actually, Anglicans are like this, too)have a lower tolerance for division and more of a tendency to tolerate imperfections in order to keep it -- which is a related but separate issue to the question of clerical obedience. And this is indeed healthy.
Regarding "The Break up of the Patriarchy of the West!
Whilst the proposal may have some influence within the Roman Communion world wide, towards Orthodoxy and other non Roman Catholics, i.e. Anglican Catholics and Old Catholics, it means very little. The difference being more Uniates,rather than individual "conversions" to Rome. The problem with the Papacy and the Patriarchy is that the former has no historical legitimacy while the latter is the gift of the Ecumenical Councils which simply makes the Pope,chairman of the Latin board,as it were. If there is to be a serious attempt at unity surely the most divisive item in the Catholic Church as a whole is the Papacy?
Opening more doors, through which Satan will creep.
Our local, very conservative Bishop Sheridan can't even keep his North county Priests in line. We have 2 of the most liberal Parish's I've ever seen.
No Eternal Light or presence of the Eucharist in the "Worship Center".
Deny the authority of the local Bishop.
Levened bread for the Eucharist.
I just got back from another foray into the Dreadful Diocese of Richmond ... I hear tell that the new Bishop is doing some good things, but evidence of same was nonexistent at the Parish I usually must attend when I go there. That area needs it's own particular inquisitor for a couple of generations. If those poor folks even know the word "orthodox" at all, they just think it's a name for the Greeks on Granby Street.
I focused more on the patriarchy because I thought that was the main thrust of this thread. This is not to deny that the papacy is a serious issue in ecumenical discourse. In fact, I believe that ultimately it is the crucial one. Your appeal to "historical legitimacy" begs the question, for the issue concerns the source and criterion of legitimacy itself. Your putative solution (conciliarism) is not really a solution, for of itself it provides no criterion for determining which councils are legitimate. Any issue, in any domain of discourse whatsoever, is "divisive"; that is precisely why it is an issue. But in the unique case of the papacy it concerns the very means of resolving the division itself. It is a metaphysical principle that the many are resolved into one, and that the principle of unity must itself be one. That is equally true in the case of ecclesiastical unity.
Returning to the original theme of papacy and patriarchy, I would simply point out that the cause of ecumenism is well served by distinguishing between essentials and unessentials, especially where these may have been confused. In that sense, I would still suggest that a development in the direction of multiple patriarchies or jurisdiction would be a step in the right direction.