Êàðòà ñàéòà

The Church Which Presides In Love

Nicholas Afanassieff


Orthodox polemics against the primacy of Rome depend, broadly speaking, on Roman Catholic theology.[1] This is not surprising, since the actual aim of Orthodox theology is to refute arguments put forth in favor of Roman primacy. Now the Catholic doctrine of primacy is founded on their doctrine of the primacy of the Apostle Peter: and therefore Orthodox theologians concentrate their attention on this subject. Exegesis of New Testament texts on the position of Peter results in a discussion between Orthodox and Catholic theologians. Meanwhile, a similar discussion has arisen concerning the oldest Patristic evidence about the Church of Rome. Rome’s role in history is also under dispute, and so far no agreement has been reached on the matter. No one denies, today, that she has held a leading position, but we have still to ask what position it was and what was its nature. In other words, we started discussing the primacy of Rome before we raised the question: what is primacy itself? Can primacy—whether of Rome or of any other church— really exist in the Church? This is the really important question, and the answer, whether positive or negative, will help us to work out our own views of the Church of Rome. If we are to solve the problem of primacy within the Church, our starting point must be ecclesiology; i.e., we must ask, does the doctrine of the Church contain the idea of primacy (in its present or any other form), or exclude it altogether? This method can be used to solve problems of exegesis and of history too; it is really the most natural approach, for the problem of primacy is inherent in the doctrine of the Church. We can thus pose the problem of primacy in general, for Orthodox and Catholics alike. But we must not think of such a method as involving any renunciation (even provisional) of our confessional allegiances. That sort of thing would only be possible for a bad Orthodox or a bad Catholic. As we study the problem of primacy in general, and especially the primacy of Rome, we must not be ruled by polemical motives: the problem is to be solved to satisfy ourselves and Orthodox theology. The solution of the problem is urgent, since Orthodox theology has not yet built up any systematic doctrine on Church government. And although we have a doctrine concerning Ecumenical Councils as organs of government in the Church, we shall see presently that our doctrine is not enough to refute the Catholic doctrine of primacy.


1. Approaching our solution of the problem of primacy by a method which we might call “ecclesiological,” we are at once faced with a great difficulty: several systems of ecclesiology have grown up in the course of history. And the Church, although itself the subject of all these systems, is understood by each of them in a different way. Therefore, inevitably, the problem of primacy must be stated and resolved differently in each system—and then the several systems will often turn out to be just different facets of the same ecclesiological theory.

The systems can all be reduced to two fundamental types: universal ecclesiology and eucharistic ecclesiology. The universal sort is now pre dominant, especially in Catholic doctrine. The Orthodox Church has not clearly defined her attitudes, but our “school” teaching follows Catholic doctrine and accepts universal ecclesiology as an axiom.

According to universal ecclesiology, the Church is a single organic whole, including in itself all church units of any kind, especially those headed by bishops. This organic whole is the Body of Christ or, to return to Catholic theological terms, the Mystical Body of Christ. Such a concept of the Church has become a habit of thought and we never question it; we are more inclined to use it to furnish premises on which to build all theological discussions about the Church. But as for finding out the relationship between the different church units, particularly the diocesan church and the universal Church—that question is still not quite clarified. Usually the church units are regarded as parts of the universal Church: less often people see in each church a pars pro toto, or again a detached fragment, ein Splitter.[2] In the Russian ecclesiological system of our time, the episcopal church (the diocese) forms one part of the autocephalous Russian Church. The Moscow Council of 1917—18 decided that “the diocese is defined as one part of the Russian Orthodox Church, when governed by a bishop according to canon law.”

This definition of the diocese is incontestable proof that the members of the Council were taking their stand on universal ideology, and that they went further in this respect than the Church of Byzantium. According to the prevalent Byzantine point of view, patriarchates were made up of a number of metropolitan units, and a metropolis was made up of diocesan churches. As history went on, the metropolis tended to decay and the power of the patriarchs increased, but the diocesan churches were always regarded as fundamental units which made up a patriarch- ate. Hence at Byzantium it was unthinkable for any one to define the diocese (officially at least) as they did at Moscow. When Byzantium was already in decline, a theory arose of the khdemon…a p£ntwn. The whole of the Orthodox Church was to be one organic unit, with the Patriarch of Constantinople at its head. The bishops, especially metropolitan bishops, were to be no more than his delegates. The proposed doctrine was out of step with the march of history and did not influence church order.

2. The basic principles of the “world-wide” theory of the Church were formulated by Cyprian of Carthage. A Roman by education and habit, Cyprian may have thought that the mere empirical unity of a number of local churches could not be properly guaranteed. Church membership had increased so much, compared with what it was in the time of the apostles, that Tertullian could now tell the Roman world (with a touch of exaggeration, of course): “The Christian newcomers have filled the place up: cities, islands, fortresses, boroughs, camp and Senate-house, palace and forum—leaving the pagans nothing but their temples.” The “Ecumenical Church” (i.e., a number of local churches united by concord and love), though a generally accepted idea in Cyprian’s time, must have been too vague for him, with his Roman training in precise legal formulae. He saw that the concord of local churches was often broken in daily fact; concord turned into discord, and love into enmity. Human vanity and ambition were leading heretics and schismatics far from the church, tearing and weakening it in the process. On the other hand, there seemed another possibility in Cyprian’s eyes, a different unity which seemed next to perfect. Cyprian did not have to live through the awful drama forced on Jerome and his contemporaries, who really came to believe that the fall of Rome would mean the fall of the whole civilized world. Rome was still there, solidly established: the portents foreboding crisis could not yet be observed by the men of Cyprian’s time. The entire o„koumšnh - inhabited earth, the then universe — was transformed and made one single entity by the strength of the Roman imperial idea: they were one Roman Empire. The government of Rome had gradually become a world-wide system: the whole world looked to it for its fate. Different provinces might be able to live their own lives and even enjoy some autonomy, but they could not break up the organic singleness of the Empire; imperially considered, they were secondary elements. The Roman Empire formed the sîma and the Emperor was its soul. The concept of the Empire was Cyprian’s inspiration, though he may not have known it, and the foundation for his doctrine of Church unity. We moderns can no longer imagine the enormous fascination of the Imperial Idea, as leading church figures felt it then. Cyprian turned over a new page of history by his doctrine of church unity, but he also stood on the border-line between two periods: beside having a natural attachment to his own age and to all the Church’s past, he was fired by new thoughts when it came to his doctrine of the Church.

To Cyprian, as to Ignatius and Tertullian, the Church is one because Christ is one: Deus unus est et Christus unus, et una ecclesia.[3] Here was truth unquestionable, and neither Cyprian nor his contemporaries doubted it. Cyprian was a bishop first and foremost, trying to apply the doctrine of church unity to the changes and chances of the day. He was less interested in the theoretical aspects or intrinsic value of doctrine. The Church in its empirical esse, the one and only Church, appeared to exist in the form of a multitude of churches. How could the unity of the Church be preserved despite the multiplicity of churches? Cyprian answered the question by applying St Paul’s doctrine to these many churches, i.e., the doctrine of the organic nature of the Church’s body. Just as we can distinguish members in the Church, the Body of Christ, so the one and only Church, physically speaking, is made up of different local churches, which are her limbs or members: ecclesia per totum mundum in multa membra divisa.[4] The Church is naturally ecumenical, since she spreads throughout the world and embraces all the churches — those flourishing at a given time, and churches of the past and future as well. Fullness and unity are the possessions of this Church scattered per totum mundum, not of isolated local churches which, being merely members of the Church, can only possess part of that fullness. Any local church is not the “Catholic” Church, St Ignatius of Antioch taught: the local churches taken all together form the universal, ecumenical Church, i.e., the Catholic Church. So the sense of the term “Catholic Church” has changed; or, more accurately, the concept of “Church” has changed, while the concept kaqolikÒj is the same as it was for Ignatius. For this reason “Catholic Church,” empirically speaking, means the same thing to Cyprian as “Ecumenical Church”— the Church on earth at a given time. All the local churches together are the one and only Body of Christ, but the empirical Church is to some extent the sum of its separate parts. Hence Cyprian could speak of conexa et ubique coniuncta unitas catholicae ecclesiae;[5] the unity of the Catholic Church, tied together and cohering. The different parts or members of this Church are joined (conexa) like the branches of a single tree or put together (conjuncta) like the simple words in a compound word. Cyprian also describes all the local churches taken together as the composite unity of the Church’s body, compago corporis ecclesiastici:[6] a union, or whole, comparable to the union of a human soul and body. We might say that the empirical whole, the compositum (compago), is the body of the Catholic Church.

The universal Church, therefore, having catholicity as one of its attributes, is a single being divided into various parts. While remaining one, this being manifests itself in everyday life as an assembly of local churches, but its unity is maintained. Cyprian was concerned to know how and why: his quest for an answer led him to construct his theory of the universal Church. Cyprian found this answer in a doctrine of episcopal unity built on almost the same lines as the doctrine of Church unity. The Church is one because there is one God, one Christ, one faith. Episcopatus unus est,[7] because “the throne of Peter is one,”[8] “in which God has established and shown the source of all unity.”[9] “There is one God alone, one Christ, one Church, one Throne of Peter, whom the word of the Lord had made his foundation-stone.”[10] This Throne of Peter is held by the whole episcopate, so that every bishop is Peter’s successor, but only insofar as he is part of the episcopate. Cyprian uses the legal term in solidum when he affirms that Episcopatus unus est, cuius a singulis in solidum pars tenetur:[11] that is, every member of the one episcopate possesses the chair of Peter in common with his fellows. In actual life the episcopate is made manifest in a multiplicity of bishops. “Just as the one Church of Christ is divided into many members throughout the world, so the one episcopate is expanded into a multiplicity of many bishops united in concord.”[12] Perhaps it would be more exact to restate Cyprian’s thought as follows: the division of the Catholic Church into local churches is the practical result of diffusing the one episcopate into a visible multiplicity of bishops. Every bishop presides separately over his own local church, but all bishops have possession of Peter’s throne together and so form a “multiplicity in concord” (concors numerositas) This sum of the local churches form a corpus in which each church is joined to all the rest by very strong ties: in the same way the bishops too form a corpus in which each bishop is joined to all the rest by the harmony prevailing throughout the entire episcopate. Full and perfect concord, a quasi-musical harmony, is, in historical fact, to bind the bishops in one.[13] In an ideal world, the unity of the episcopate derives from the unity of the Church: in actual fact the unity of the episcopate preserves the unity of the local churches, since concord among the bishops ties, or rather welds, all these churches into mutual fellowship. Union of the bishops in concord produces a single entirety: and the “symphonic multiplicity” of the bishops in turn makes the local churches into a single entirety. No wonder Cyprian attached such exceptional importance to concord! In his eyes there was no possibility of discord between bishops, because of their common possession of Peter’s throne: in effect, this common possession really implies the summary banishment of a member no longer in accord with the rest, and therefore no longer qualified for his share in the episcopate. In this manner, concord and unity are for ever unbroken.

The Church of Cyprian’s doctrine might well be compared to a truncated cone: the larger inferior base of the cone would be the numerous but united local churches, and the small top platform the multiplicity united in concord” of the bishops. Every point on the large base where there is a local church, a member of the universal Church, has its corresponding point on the smaller and higher plane in the bishop, a member of the episcopate: put the other way round, each part of the episcopate (bishop) is responsible for one part of the universal Church. The unity of the top and bottom planes is maintained by their ties with one another. Each may become larger or smaller, but always related to the other, so that if the top level increases in size the bottom does too, and vice versa. If any point or part of either level became detached, there would be a corresponding fraction in the other: the cone would then be reduced in size, though still a cone, but the broken-off section would then be outside the cone.

Cyprian defines the relation between bishop and church in a famous phrase: “It must be known that the bishop is in the Church and the Church in the bishop: any person who is not with the bishop is not in the Church.”[14] A bishop cannot exist without a Church, but also a Church cannot exist cut off from its bishop: the bottom side of the cone cannot be detached from its top. The top cannot exist by itself, for then the throne of Peter would have no Church in which to be. No more can the base exist without its top, for then the Church would be living without Peter’s throne, which Christ founded to hold its unique position there. The Universal Church is the entire truncated cone, and not just one of its surfaces.

There is ample logic in Cyprian’s doctrine, but logic by itself is no proof of the truth. So arguments in favor of Cyprian’s system must not be founded only on its logical character—its more-or-less logical character, assuming rather that Cyprian’s system has been left logically incomplete. In this, however, Cyprian shows the greatest of his doctrinal virtues. An intimate awareness of the Church was the root of his own life; he could not abandon the traditional doctrine of the Church to round off this system. He did, not draw from that system the conclusions it implied, any more than he did in general for the other doctrines he put forward. Cyprian’s genius comes out in his active Church life more than it does in his theological thought. To posterity he has left an ideal picture of “the Bishop” which shines so brightly and clearly that our minds really see it; he has left us a literary heritage broken by frequent self-contradiction, which has been a matter for controversy from then until the present day. The truncated cone is incomplete in itself. Cyprian had all the data for making his cone perfect: according to his doctrine there should have really been one single bishop at the head of the Universal Church. He was unwilling to place the Bishop of Rome outside the concors numerositas of bishops, and yet the place given by him to the Roman Church did raise it above the “harmonious multitude.” The ideal “Peter’s throne” occupied by the whole episcopate became confused in Cyprian’s mind with the actual throne occupied by the Bishop of Rome. According to Cyprian, every bishop occupies Peter’s throne (the Bishop of Rome among others), but the See of Peter is Peter’s throne par excellence. The Bishop of Rome is the direct heir of Peter, whereas the others are heirs only indirectly, and sometimes only by the mediation of Rome. Hence Cyprian’s insistence that the Church of Rome is the root and matrix of the Catholic Church.[15]

The subject is treated in so many of Cyprian’s passages that there is no doubt: to him, the See of Rome was ecclesia princpalis unde unitas sacerdotalis exorta est.[16] But he does not proceed to draw any conclusions from his doctrine about the See of Rome. Being so keenly aware of the Church’s actual life, Cyprian could not deny that the See of Rome held a preponderant position: but he was intuitively in step with trends in the whole Church which did not allow him to make the Bishop of Rome head of the episcopate. The Bishop of Rome undertook to relieve him, and drew the necessary conclusions himself. Logically it was inevitable. If the Universal Church, as Cyprian saw it, can be compared to a truncated cone, we must admit that the upper plane is in fact above the multitude of local churches. It is at the head of the multitude, so to speak, because the power in the Church belongs to it and, through it, also belongs to each bishop in his church. The world-wide unity of the Church cannot be built upon the model of the Roman imperial unity unless we bring in the fundamental principle which held the Empire together—lawful right. Cyprian certainly brought a legal element into his consideration of power inside the Church, but he refused to stretch it to cover the relationship of bishops with one another. The concors numerositas of bishops constitutes the power within the Church, but within its own membership it disallows the power mutually united on a foundation of concord. No wonder Cyprian’s system turned out to be a historical failure! In his declining years Cyprian was to see his system crash before his own eyes. He saw that the concors numerositas was only an ideal; in real life there is certainly numerositas, but not concord, since a corcors numerositas cannot work without a head.

3. I have dwelt at length on the interpretation of Cyprian’s theory of the Church for two reasons. As I said above, he was the first to formulate the principle of a universal theory of the Church. More important still, Cyprian did not succeed in constructing his system without some idea of primacy, and this shows that if a universal theory of the Church is adhered to, the doctrine of primacy will somehow be a necessary concomitant. A single body must be crowned by a single head, showing in his own person the unity of the whole system. If we take the universal theory of the Church, we cannot refute the doctrine of universal primacy just by saying that the Church has Christ as Head; that is an indisputable truth, and supporters of primacy do not themselves oppose it. The real question is: If the Church has an invisible Head (Christ), can she, or can she not, also have a visible head? If not, then why can a local church have a single head in the person of its bishop? In other words, why can one part of the Universal Church have a single head, while the entire Universal Church is deprived of one? This question should be relevant in discussing autocephalous Orthodox churches and their problems. If there is no primacy in the Universal Church, why do we allow a partial primacy within the boundaries of an autocephalous church? The head of an autocephalous church makes manifest its unity: but how can the unity of the whole Orthodox Church be given empirical expression in the absence of a universal primacy? Orthodox theology makes it a point of principle that the Universal Church should be directed by Ecumenical Councils. Obviously, Orthodox theology has made Cyprian’s doctrine her own (in part at least): for he constructed the only theological foundations upon which a theory of councils in the Church could rest. Even so, his doctrine on councils remains as incomplete as the rest of his system. The concors numerositas of the bishops is naturally manifested in the councils, where their concord should find means of expression. But the concord is only an ideal one, if the element of jurisdiction is never present in the relations between bishops. Also, the decisions of the council have no real weight if they are not founded on legal right. How can they ever be put in force, and by whom? Cyprian certainly thought that these decisions were put into practice by the bishops, who were members of the council and invested with power inside the local churches. The thing was possible, provided the power of the bishops had rested upon a juridical basis, but in Cyprian’s time no such basis yet existed—or only in his mind, not in real life. What is even more important, if councils are to manifest the unity of the episcopate, they presuppose primacy within the episcopal body. Without it, who would convoke the councils? Cyprian never asked himself that question, just as he never remarked on his own actual possession of the primacy in North Africa, though that primacy was much more worthy of the name than the primacy of the Bishop of Rome over Italian affairs. We should note that councils have not remained the same in the course of centuries: they have undergone great changes. Cyprian started a new form of councils, episcopal conferences; but his own mental picture saw them in the shape of a diocesan synod enriched by the presence of other bishops. For this reason he was able to avoid asking a whole series of further questions, such as how the council was to be convoked and in what way its decisions could be practically applied. Cyprian’s doctrine of councils was to be completed by others, and its final shape was something he could never have foreseen: the Church of the Empire worked it out, and the council of bishops became the council of the Empire.

The conciliar idea cannot be set up against primacy: not only does a council not exclude primacy, it actually presupposes it. The councils cannot be gathered together automatically; they must be convoked by the head of the diocese.[17] If there had been no single heads in the autocephalous churches, councils could never have existed; otherwise, anarchy would have reigned, with every bishop thinking he had a right to convoke councils. The Ecumenical Councils were not “at the head” of the Church, even in the period of their greatest importance, they did not regard themselves as organs for directing the Church An ecumenical council was certainly the highest institution in the Church: it tackled dogmatic problems and determined the basic principles of ecclesiastical order and discipline. Still, if they were really to stand at the head of the Church, the ecumenical councils should have been permanent, and not convoked in such a random way. It is now commonly accepted that the right of convoking councils belongs to the emperor. However consider able in numbers, a council was still not considered to be a real ecumenical council unless the Emperor had convoked it. The letters of Pope Leo the Great and the emperors Theodosius and Marcian are of great interest here: the Pope, in spite of not recognizing the Council of Ephesus in 449, dared not convoke an ecumenical council himself, all he did was to make insistent statements to the emperors that such a convocation was necessary. The Emperor Marcian, after his accession, decided to convoke a council; and Pope Leo had to bow to the Emperor’s opinion, although he thought a convocation would be ill-timed just then, when there had been so many changes both in Church and State. No matter how we define the place of the Roman or Byzantine emperor in the Church, we must accept the fact that he really was, in some ways, the head of the Church-in-the-Empire. Of course it was not primacy that the Emperor held claim to; primacy is an exclusive Church affair and can only belong to a bishop. But if the ecumenical church (the church dwelling inside the boundaries of the Empire) had not had the emperor at its head, ecumenical councils would not have taken place in fact or in principle. When the force of events had turned the ecumenical council into a purely Church institution, councils could not be convoked except where primacy in fact already existed: thus in the West, councils continued to exist even after the separation of the churches, because the primacy of the Bishop of Rome was firmly established there. In the East there were no more ecumenical councils. All attempts to convoke a pan-Orthodox council in our own age have not succeeded, and it is rather unlikely that such a council could ever be convoked. This is due to the absence of a primacy capable of commanding recognition by all the Orthodox churches. There is no pan-Orthodox Head of the Church, consequently any convocation of a council is a practical impossibility. Supposing that the leaders of the autocephalous churches should all agree to allow a patriarch to convoke an ecumenical council, their action would imply that this patriarch was recognized as primate of the Orthodox Church. I shall put off any attempt to decide whether the Patriarch of Constantinople has the right to convoke a council, and confine myself to a single remark: ever since the ninth century the de facto position of the Patriarch of Constantinople has favored his claim to this right, and yet the Patriarch is well known never to have convoked an ecumenical council: he has never even explored the possibilities of planning such a convocation. One thing is clear: if the autocephalous churches had recognized the right of the Patriarch of Constantinople to convoke, they would simultaneously have recognized his primacy in the Orthodox Church.

I must once more point out the error of basing arguments against primacy on the conciliar principle. Orthodox theologians are nonetheless right in emphasizing the principle, because it defines both the nature and the limitations of primacy. The conciliar principle serves to limit the power of the primate-bishop, but we must not think that this is a hard and fast limitation in legal terms. There is another way to describe it. The bishop possessing primacy acts with the agreement of the whole body of bishops: this agreement is made manifest in the council in which the primate bishop participates as its president. In Orthodox theology, the patriarch is conceived of as being primus inter pares among the bishops. This formula, though generally allowed, is misleading, and it would be difficult to find justification for it anywhere in the history of the Orthodox Church. It is indeed doubtful that the bishops ever thought themselves the equals of the patriarch in every respect, or that he thought himself their equal. Equality is really a difficult claim, when the patriarch possesses rights of which the other bishops are deprived. A fairer statement (to use language borrowed from Cyprian of Carthage) would be: the patriarch as member of the episcopate of the autocephalous church is not above it, but as its leader he is first in the episcopal body.

4. The decline of the conciliar principle led to another type of universal doctrine of the Church: we might call it “pontifical.” In the West, traces of this doctrine can be found quite early. It becomes dominant after the Council of Trent, which confirmed the idea that the Bishop of Rome had sovereignty over the council. The Pope is superior to the council: the conciliar principle is therefore wiped out. The councils, if they occur, are no longer councils in the true sense of the word, and become advisory agencies supporting the Bishop of Rome. The accord of the episcopate remains a matter of importance, but the Pope is not juridically bound by the decisions of his council. The Pope, placed above the council, becomes superior to all the other bishops and turns into a “super-bishop.” But the doctrine concerning bishops is founded on divine law (those are the terms used in Catholic canon law) and still retains its full validity. In the present day, we are witnessing various attempts to introduce important changes into the universal doctrine of the Church, and these changes would affect one particular sphere—the doctrine of episcopacy. According to Catholic and Orthodox theology, a bishop holds first place in the ecclesiastical hierarchy. To him belongs the highest sacerdotal degree; the second degree belongs to the priesthood. Whatever the powers of the bishop may be in matters of government, in matters of liturgy the sum of his powers is always constant. On this principle the powers of patriarchs, autocephalous church leaders, and even popes are identical, liturgically speaking, with the powers of all other bishops. Theologians of today always agree that the difference between a bishop and a priest, in the sphere of liturgy, has one essential or even exclusive characteristic: that is, the priest cannot celebrate the Sacrament of Ordination. Consequently, certain well-defined powers in matters of liturgy are attached to both classes, and these powers must remain unchanged.

Some thirty years ago, documents were found proving that in the fifteenth century the popes used to allow the abbots of certain abbeys a right to ordain not only minor clerics, but priests as well, in order to serve the needs of their abbeys. This discovery caused a sensation in Catholic circles and led to some embarrassment. Clearly the discovery was to be extremely important to Catholic dogma: it saps the very foundations of the doctrine which declares that bishops alone are entitled to conduct the ordinations of priests. We now know that the superiors of certain abbeys (in other words, priests and not bishops) were able to ordain other priests. The deduction follows: the reason why priests have no right to ordain other priests is not a dogmatic reason but more a question of discipline. The sacerdotium with which the priests were invested at their ordination did confer on them power to celebrate the Sacrament of Ordination, but the ecclesiastical authorities debarred them from making use of this spiritual capacity, and the bar was a disciplinary one. If we acknowledge that priests have at least theoretical right to conduct ordinations, should we not admit that there is no difference between priests and bishops where liturgy is concerned, i.e., we have only one degree of sacerdotium before us, not two? In that case, the bishop will be nothing but a priest who has been given wider powers in the sphere of jurisdiction.

What are the possible results of such a doctrine of priests and bishops? A contemporary Catholic theologian writes:

Christians must be more than ever one, they must more than ever take their stand in face of all the problems of life, there must be more unanimity in action than ever: one man alone can direct, one alone can teach, one alone command—Peter and his successors. We must not be surprised at this: the former responsibility of the bishop in his diocese is gradually changing hands; and today the Pope will take it over as his own mission; it would not be good, either for the Church or the world, if different, sometimes even conflicting, ideas were adopted by each different diocese. If the Church wants to remain one in a world in process of unification, then the Papacy must speak often and guide all. For this reason, the twentieth century is a new dawn in the Church, the dawn of a new age, a Pontifical age, as it is also the dawn of a comprehensive world and an international society: just as separate states will disappear, so bishops will lose their sovereignty, and leave to Peter and his successors the general guidance of the whole Catholic movement and their whole apostolic charge.[18]

We are indeed witnessing the birth of a new age in the Catholic Church—the birth of a “universo-pontifical” ecclesiology. This new type of ecclesiology is the normal development of universal ecclesiology to its absolute form: on the other hand, it can be interpreted as a sort of return to traditional ecclesiology, though the tradition has undergone much change and some distortion. The great primitive ecclesiastical maxim was that in the Church there must be one bishop only. Ignatius of Antioch gave special importance to the formula, “One God, one Christ, one faith, one altar, and one bishop.” We shall see presently that Ignatius, in writing these words, had in mind the local church, and that his ecclesiological context was not at all the same as the Universal ecclesiology. If the Universal Church is a sole body and if we accept Ignatius’ statement, we cannot avoid coming to the conclusion that in the Universal Church there must be one single bishop, and that according to Catholic doctrine he can be no other than the Bishop of Rome. In the capacity of being bishop of the entire Universal Church, he takes the place of all the other bishops. In consequence, the others become mere administrative instruments, used by the Pope for governing the innumerable parishes led by presbyters.

It is still too soon to tell if Rome is likely to sponsor this new ecclesiology, which is sturdily opposed in Catholic theological circles.[19] What matters to me is simply the fact that this trend exists in ecclesiological theory. I cannot discuss these new trends here; they would take me too far from the main point. This type of ecclesiology must start with the doctrine of bishops, which is quite a different subject. Furthermore, the ecclesiology of a Universal Pontiff no longer contains any real doctrine of primacy, whatever meaning we may attach to the word; for primacy presupposes a multiplicity of bishops among whose number one holds the primacy.

5. We can now form our first conclusions. Universal ecclesiology (which says that the entire Church on earth is a unique living body) contains in itself the doctrine of a single man as head of the Church. It must be admitted that the doctrine of Primacy is quite incontestable if you start from Universal ecclesiology. But even so, we can maintain a controversy with the Catholic Church, of the very highest importance; but only because primacy in the Church, according to Catholic theology, has no actual being unless it means the primacy of Rome. If there had been no Roman primacy, no other primacy could have existed; that is the Catholic view. Even granting that in fact the primacy did belong to Rome, such an admission of mere fact would not have been nearly enough for Catholic theologians: they might indeed have thought it more dangerous than a plain denial. Catholic theology requires us to admit the dogmatic assertion which says that primacy in the Church belongs solely to the See of Rome. But from another view, to deny the primacy of the Bishop of Rome does not necessarily involve denying the very idea of primacy. Far from it; so long as we stay in the sphere of universal ecclesiology, we must admit the idea of primacy in the Universal Church, though we should remember that the terms of stating it may be extremely varied. Oscar Cullmann is most significant on this subject: he resolutely rejects the dogmatic doctrine of the primacy of Rome, but still admits that primacy may exist in the Universal Church.[20] The Orthodox theologian Kartashev is of equal significance: he makes an equally categorical denial of the primacy of Rome, but has lately made a most resolute pronouncement in favor of the primacy of Constantinople within the bounds of the Orthodox Church.[21] Both affirmations witness that the doctrine of primacy derives, in a logical way, from a universal ecclesiology.


1. The influence of universal ecclesiology is so strong that it seems to theologically-minded people the only possible approach—almost an ecclesiological category without which any thought about the Church seems impossible. If universal ecclesiology is the only conceivable form, it must have been there from the beginning: but this line of argument will lead us to carry back our ecclesiology into a period when it really did not exist, and a whole string of anachronisms will inevitably follow, distorting the perspectives of history. Universal ecclesiology, however, is not the only one; what is more, it is not primitive ecclesiology, but quite the reverse: it has taken the place of a different ecclesiology, which I call eucharistic.

To begin with, I will recall a historical fact: in the apostolic age, and throughout the second and third centuries, every local church was autonomous and independent-autonomous, for it contained in itself every thing necessary to its life; and independent, because it did not depend on any other local church or any bishop whatever outside itself. We ought not to regard this autonomy and independence just as a historical fact, due to chance or to the defects of church organization, then in its infancy—defects that disappeared when the organization took better shape and was more clearly defined. The development did in fact occur; but it does not follow that the organization of the primitive church was defective. In the subsequent history of church organization there was indeed a change, a change of underlying axiom; in other words, the doctrine of the Church (which gave the axioms of church organization) suffered change. Of course you can always deny the historical fact itself, or see it as a myth, but only at the price of setting a priori concepts above historical realities.

Well, if the autonomy and independence of primitive local churches were not due to chance, how can we account for them? If we begin with a universal ecclesiology, we can do nothing at all: one part of the Church—in this system, a local church-cannot possibly be autonomous or independent, for autonomy and independence are attributes of a whole. Therefore, the primitive churches were autonomous and independent in virtue of the fact that each local church was the Church of God in all its fullness. This conception of the nature of the local church implies the existence of an ecclesiological system, from which the concept of the Universal Church (at least in its existing form) is absent. And without this concept, the Universal Church cannot be mentioned at all.

2. We would never have found the idea of the Universal Church in the New Testament, and least of all in St Paul’s writings, if it had not already been present in our minds. I cannot pause here to analyze the New Testament texts referring to the Church and show that they do not contain the concept of the Universal Church. The task would be elaborate and would only lead to arguments about the interpretation of this or that text. I think it will be more useful if I confine myself to explaining the main principles of eucharistic ecclesiology, a subject on which I have had frequent occasion to speak.

“You are the Body of Christ” (1 Cor 12:27). When the Apostle Paul wrote to tell the Corinthians that they were the Body of Christ, he surely cannot have helped thinking of the liturgical formula, “This is my Body,” which he quotes in the same epistle. Scholars even now disagree about the sense in which “Body” (sîma) should be taken in St Paul—the Pauline sense is still difficult and open to discussion—but a comparative study of the two formulas gives us the key to St Paul’s ecclesiology. “This is my Body” was the eucharistic formula received by Paul from the Church at Jerusalem; it was spoken every time that the “Lord’s Supper” was celebrated. Even if it was not actually spoken in the Church of Jerusalem (which is most unlikely), it was certainly in the minds of all who shared in the Supper. When the Eucharist is celebrated, the bread becomes the Body of Christ, and by the bread the partakers become the Body of Christ. “The bread which we break, is it not a communion in the Body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor 10:16—17). The close tie between the loaf of bread and the Body of Christ comes out very clearly here. It is hard to see how “body” in Paul’s “You are the body of Christ” (1 Cor 12:27) could mean anything different in 1 Cor 10:16—17. The local church—though “many” and “you” in the texts quoted above—is the Body of Christ in its eucharistic aspect. This conclusion is, to start with, obviously of the highest importance for its bearing on the doctrine of the Eucharist: the eucharistic bread is, here, the real Body of Christ. But it is also important with regard to the doctrine of the Church. Every “local” church is the Church of God in Christ, for Christ dwells in His Body in the congregation at the Eucharist, and the faithful become members of His Body by virtue of communicating in the Body of Christ. The indivisibility of Christ’s Body implies the fullness of the Church dwelling in each of the “local” churches. This view of the Church is expressed in another of Paul’s formulas: “the Church of God which is (or dwells) at Corinth,” or anywhere else local churches are to be found.

To return to a point mentioned before: the local church is autonomous and independent, because the Church of God in Christ indwells it in perfect fullness. It is independent, because any power, of any kind, exercised over it would be exercised over Christ and His Body. It is autonomous, because fullness of being belongs to the Church of God in Christ, and outside it nothing is, for nothing can have being outside Christ.

At first sight, this eucharistic doctrine may look paradoxical, but the paradox does not attach to the Church; it is in our own empirical consciousness. The fact is that a large number of local churches do exist, in empirical reality, as they did in the days of the Apostles. Does this mean that one Church cannot exist, only a number of Churches of God in Christ? The impossibility of such a conclusion is absolutely clear there cannot be a plurality of Churches of God in Christ, for Christ is one, and unique. We cannot very well apply Euclidean arithmetic, since ecclesiology works with quantities that cannot be reckoned up. “One plus one is two” is something we are used to in empirical consciousness, but where ecclesiology is concerned, to add up the local churches would be a waste of time. We should always have a total no larger than each item of the addition sum. “One plus one is still one” in ecclesiology. Every local church manifests all the fullness of the Church of God, because it is the Church of God and not just one part of it. There may be a plurality of such manifestations, but the Church of God itself always remains one and unique, for it always equals itself. Perhaps this is the time for me to repeat what I have had occasion to write elsewhere:

Every local church enjoys all the fullness of the Church of God in Christ. The plurality of local churches does not destroy the unity of the Church of God, just as the plurality of eucharistic assemblies does not destroy the unity of the Eucharist in time and space. In the Church, unity and plurality are not only overcome: the one also contains the other. The unity of the Church in its empirical life is manifested by a plurality of local churches, and the plurality of the local churches safeguards the unity of the Church of God in Christ. If the number of local churches is increased or diminished, the Church’s unity and fullness remain unchanged; there will just be a variation in the number of its manifestations in empirical existence. This number of manifestations of the Church makes up its exterior universality and at the same time marks out the boundaries of the Church’s earthly mission. And so eucharistic ecclesiology in no way rejects the universality of the Church but makes a distinction between exterior universality (in so far as the mission is limited), and interior universality, which equals itself always and in all circumstances, because it means that the Church manifests itself everywhere, always in fullness and unity.[22]

Thus the Church’s fullness and unity are not a matter of quantity, but depend on the fullness and unity of the Body of Christ, who is always and everywhere one and unique in His fullness. Christ is always the same, yesterday, today, and forever, to one isolated church and to all local churches as well. Eucharistic ecclesiology teaches that the unity and fullness of the Church attach to the notion of a local church, and not to the fluid and indefinite notion of the Universal Church. The Eucharist is where Christ dwells in the fullness of His Body: the Eucharist could never have been offered in a local church if it had been no more than one part of the Church of God. Where the Eucharist is, there is the fullness of the Church; vice versa, where the fullness of the Church is not, there no Eucharist can be celebrated. By denying the idea of “parts,” eucharis tic ecclesiology also excludes any concept of the Universal Church, for the Universal Church consists of parts, if it exists at all.

3. We have already noticed above that the concept of “Universal Church” carries with it the idea of primacy; that is to say, the Universal Church must have a single bishop at its head. This “leadership” holds the reins of power over the Universal Church, although the leader is not above the Church but remains within its borders. An essential part of “universalist” teaching must always be the building up of this power as a legal principle, in the Church, whether the power is absolute or limited. But now we come to a new question—does eucharistic ecclesiology carry with it an idea of primacy? If so, what is its form and content?

Theologians were formerly interested in discussing whether the primitive local church had a single person at its head (it hardly matters what name he was called by), or whether one-man management was a feature of the second stage in the history of the church organization. I cannot deal here with the historical side of the problem, and in any case it is difficult to solve, as direct information is lacking. But I would like to point out that, from an ecclesiological point of view, there can be no doubt that the local churches did have a single person as leader from the very beginning. Eucharistic ecclesiology has its own pattern of thought, in which “being head of a local church” means “being head” of the eucharistic assembly. The Last Supper was not the Eucharist, but only its institution It became the Eucharist when Christ’s disciples began to celebrate it in the breaking of bread and the blessing of the cup. Yet the Eucharist is not a repetition of the Supper: that, like the sacrifice on Golgotha, was accomplished “once for all.” The Eucharist is a prolongation of the Supper in one special regard: it is an ecclesiological Last Supper, the “feast of the Lord” celebrated in the Church, by whose celebration the Church has being. As in Jewish meals, which served as models for the Last Supper, so in the Eucharist one person must preside. On the day of Pentecost at Jerusalem, the Eucharist was celebrated for the first time, and one of the disciples must have presided—it was certainly Peter. From that time onwards there was always one special person at the Eucharist who broke the bread and blessed the cup. The head of the eucharistic assembly was also the head of the local church, that manifestation of the Church of God whose Head is Christ.

Who is leader of the multitude of churches, and how are they governed in actual fact? Would one local church, or perhaps its bishop, stand as head over all the rest? This sort of question makes us wonder if primacy can really exist in the Church alongside the thought-patterns of eucharistic ecclesiology. Before answering this, we must see what the multitude of local churches represents. If we were guided by our empirical consciousness, we should have been forced to picture this multitude as being in dispersion, since each local church was independent and autonomous. But the categories of empirical consciousness cannot apply in this matter The multitude of local churches was not dispersed, it was united. The union was something absolutely sui generis: the unity was not the result of separate parts reuniting, but it was the unity of one and the same Church. Each local church united in itself all the local churches because it possessed all the fullness of the Church of God, and all the local churches together were united, because they were always this same Church of God. Though a local church did contain everything it needed within itself, it could not live apart from the other churches. It could not shut itself in or refuse to be acquainted with happenings in other churches: for anything that happened in other churches, as well as in its own, happened in the Church of God, the one and only Church. All the multitude of local churches forms one union founded on concord and love. Every local church must be in concord with all the other churches, because within the Church of God, ever one and only one, there can be no discord. This means, empirically speaking, that every local church accepts and makes its own anything that happens in other churches, and that all the churches accept everything that happens in each fellow- church. This acceptance (its regular designation is the word reception or receptio) is the witness of a local church indwelt by the Church of God, witnessing the work being done in other churches also indwelt by the Church of God—the Spirit bearing witness of the Spirit. By accepting what is being done in another church, one or several local churches bear witness that their actions are conformed to the will of God, and are therefore being done in the Church of God in Christ. Rejection of what is being done in a church, however, bears witness that such an action does not conform with the will of God.

The witness of local churches might vary in weight. In absolute terms, however, every local church has the same value as another. This equality of value is between the Church of God and herself; for she is one, unique, and fully present in the eucharistic assembly of every local church. If the local churches were not equal in value, we should have to say that the Church of God was not equal to itself in value. But there is no need to think that equality of value between local churches destroys the hierarchy of these churches, far from it: the equality creates a hierarchy of churches grounded in the authority of witness belonging to the several local churches. The Church of God lives fully present in the eucharistic assembly of the local churches, but each of them has a different way and degree of making the presence actual in its own life. A local church will have higher authority of witness if it has a greater realization of the presence of the Church of God. Though the local churches are by nature equal in value, they are not necessarily equal in authority: this difference in authority causes hierarchy among them. If there is a hierarchy of churches, there must also be a church to head the hierarchy—therefore, a church that takes the first place. Its act of bearing witness to events in other churches has a sovereign value, and its act of “reception” is of decisive importance. To put it another way, this church holds a two-fold priority, of authority and love, which means it makes a sacrificial gift of itself to the others. If the priority is of this nature we cannot possibly say that a church which possesses priority has power over the other churches. It never possessed or could possess power, for the power of a church having priority over the others would mean power over the Body of Christ. One cannot even say that the primacy was one of honor, for in ancient times the ideas of honor and power were closely associated. What is more, there was nothing honorific about priority in the hierarchy of churches, in the modern sense of the word: the church that came first among the local churches won its place by services rendered, and not by prestige. It could not impose its will on the other churches or make them carry out its decisions, for all decisions must first be ratified by other local churches. Another point to notice: even in the period of ecumenical councils, and in spite of a system of church order which was quite different from what it had been before Nicaea, no one church or group of churches had power over the others, in any strict sense of the word. If one of the churches did not recognize some doctrine as a manifestation of the will of God, no one could force it to do so. Even the imperial power, though it possessed the means to constrain, was often powerless in such matters. Thus it came about that one church gradually drew away from the main flock into a separate fold (by itself or with other churches who had the same ideas), and this fold was considered as heretical or schismatic by the other churches, because it had refused the witness of the church-in-priority and of other churches in concord with the leading one.

The church-in-priority had no power, and no special rights either: the many churches were not joined by law, but by love and concord. That is why a single church surrounded by many concordant churches only increases in authority by a corresponding increase in love The church that had priority naturally possessed the highest degree of authority, together with the greatest love, and would always be ready to come to the help of churches in need. Dionysius of Corinth says in a letter to Pope Soter:

Your custom [ Rome] has been from the beginning to do good to your brethren in various ways, and send succor to numerous churches in every city: thus, you have comforted the nakedness of the indigent, and you have sustained our brethren in the mines by the help you sent from the very first. You [Romans] are keeping the old Roman tradition, which your blessed Bishop Soter not only preserves but even enhances, by the abundant provision and help that he sends to the saints, and also by consoling the brethren who come to him with words of cheer, like a kind father who loves to do his children good.[23]

The basis of priority is neither power, nor honor, but only the authority that flows from love and is made manifest by love. The church-in-priority may make mistakes in the very act of coming to the rescue of churches in need and especially of churches in error that is why the witness of the other churches is needed. Its grand mistake is wanting to impose a sovereign will or put itself above other churches. This is the first step that leads in the end to revoking priority and resisting the will of God, for it is a renouncing of the love that spreads throughout the Church. By putting itself above all the number of local churches, which embosom its own priority, it takes a road that may lead it outside the bounds of that number, to a place where there is no priority, only a realm of “ecclesiological vacuum.” Priority implies the existence of a number of local churches, and every church among them is the Church of God just as much as the is church-in-priority. When a local church invokes the church-in-priority, it is not invoking judgment from a tribunal against which there is no appeal, but coming to the church-in-priority so as to find itself, by hearing the voice of the Church which dwells there.

A hierarchy of churches, based on authority of witness, implies that the churches which form the hierarchy and are led by the church-in-priority all have full ecclesiastical esse; but it further implies that other churches will have priority in the small circles of local churches. This means that the church-in-priority possesses the highest authority, but not the sole authority; the other churches in their lower places in the hierarchy have their own authority, and neither kind excludes the other.

What possible explanation can we give for the priority of one church among the whole number of local churches? You may explain it, to be sure, by her own endeavors to manifest in her own life the Church of God in Christ, on the basis of purely historical facts—her being in some special town, or being founded by Apostles, or having many adherents— but all these causes are not sufficient in themselves, since other local churches may perfectly well possess whatever advantages the church-in priority possesses. It must be admitted in the end that priority is a gift of God, and so an election by God. We cannot fully understand it, but the whole mass of local churches accept it in freedom and love, and follow the church-in-priority.

We may now return to a former enquiry: does the eucharistic type of ecclesiology include the idea of primacy, or not? After all we have said about it, clearly the only possible answer is negative: eucharistic ecclesiology excludes the idea of primacy by its very nature. As we already know, primacy means the power of one bishop over the whole universal Church. Such a power cannot exist in the eyes of eucharistic ecclesiology, or (to be exact) this power cannot pass beyond the bounds enclosing a local church. Conversely, as we have already seen, the local churches appear to the eyes of eucharistic ecclesiology not as separated or divided; not at all, they are mutually joined together. One of them occupies a very special position, and so finds itself head of the other churches. In describing this state of affairs I prefer to use the word “priority,” and not the word “primacy.” Such a terminological nicety may seem very artificial, but it is justified because the concept of primacy is so enormously different from the concept of priority; indeed, either concept almost excludes the other. In eucharistic ecclesiology, priority belongs to one of the local churches; but the concept of primacy, in its historical shape and setting, assumes that primacy belongs to one of the bishops, and that he governs the whole Church by established right. Consequently, primacy is a legalistic expression, whereas priority is founded on authority of witness, and that is a gift God grants to the church-in-priority. Of course the priority of a church is reflected in the person of its bishop, but eucharistic ecclesiology would consider his priority to be a secondary phenomenon; universal ecclesiology holds that a bishop’s primacy is an essential phenomenon. Throughout history, the primacy of a bishop has always been tied to some definite church, but we may admit theoretically that the person who possesses primacy might be found altogether outside any definite church; certain trends in Catholic thought prove it. Finally, we should note that the two concepts imply different doctrines of Church unity: the “primacy” school attributes the unity to the Church universal, while those who uphold “priority” say that every local church has it. The difference between the concepts (primacy and priority) is very important: if you accept the idea of primacy you must ban eucharistic ecclesiology; conversely, accept the notion of priority and there is no room for universal ecclesiology.


1. As I said before, if people transpose the universal ecclesiology of today into a time before it existed, they will create an inaccurate picture of church life in the ancient world. They will set problems unknown to that period, and unanswerable by our learning. For this reason, I must now turn to consider a few historical facts in the light of eucharistic ecclesiology. In surveying the horizon of history, I hope, incidentally, to find the chance to show that eucharistic ecclesiology is not based on abstract theological speculation, unrelated to live reality, but can be deduced from the Church’s own history.

The historical analysis will be restricted, partly because lack of space in the present work is a limitation, but even more because eucharistic ecclesiology gradually gave way to universal ecclesiology, from the second half of the third century onwards.

2. According to universal ecclesiology, the Church had a single personal Head, chosen by Christ as soon as its life began. Can we find any historical proof that such a person ever existed, and was he the Apostle Peter, as Catholic theologians assert? If the Apostle Peter was not the leader of the Church, we are forced to conclude that the Catholic doctrine of primacy has no ecclesiological roots, was formed gradually in the course of history, and cannot therefore be regarded as a dogmatic obligation. A further question in this connection, still more important for Catholics, is the succession after Peter. If Peter had no successors, the whole doctrine of primacy would be undermined.

But we must also pose yet another question: is the primacy of Peter a problem we can properly discuss? As a matter of fact, such a problem never arose in the mind of the primitive Church. The first Christians were not concerned to discuss who was head of the Church, or, in concrete terms, whether or not Peter was its head; it was no problem to them because they had no need at all to ask this kind of question. The first Christians were as yet innocent of the very idea that there could be a power over the local churches, let alone discussing whether this power belonged to an individual, whether a Church or an Apostle, whether Jerusalem, Antioch, or Rome. The issue simply never crossed their minds.

The primacy of Peter has its premises in the statement “When Christ founded the Church, He had the Universal Church in view.” To say the least, the statement is scarcely capable of being demonstrated; further more, the whole Pauline doctrine of the Church is against it. Cyprian of Carthage was the first person who voiced the idea that Mt 16:17-19 is a text about the Universal Church. Admittedly, we can find pointers to this logion of Christ as early as Justin (though he only comments on verse 17)[24] neither Justin, nor Irenaeus, nor Tertullian so much as asked the question, or even wanted to know if the passage referred to the Universal Church: to them, the idea of a Universal Church was non-existent. Even granting that the statement is true, that Mt 16:18 ought to be taken to mean that Christ promised to build His Church on Peter, does this mean that Christ has placed Peter at the head of “His Church”? We cannot draw that conclusion, and would never have done so unless the idea of a Universal Church had been in our minds already. What is more, such a conclusion would make the logion itself appear a trifle illogical. If Peter really is the rock on which the Church is built, how can he be the chief of the Church at the same time? Insofar as Peter is the rock on which the Church is built, his role is passive: the Church is built on Peter by Christ, not by Peter.[25] The only grounds for giving Peter power over the Church might be found in Christ’s promise to give him “the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.” “The keys,” of course, can be seen as a different thing from “binding and loosing”; but in the logion itself the “power of the keys” is not the point. We shall not find the promised “power of the keys” in our logion unless, I repeat, we take our start from an assumed idea of the Universal Church.

We will now leave aside all the familiar difficulties that arise in interpreting Mt 16:18, and will allow that Christ made Peter head of the Church by these words. If this had been the case, then the primacy of Peter would certainly have become clear and manifest in the course of early church history. Yet the relevant historical facts in this period are far from proving it so. There is a great deal we do not know about apostolic times, but surely the Church’s memory cannot have failed to preserve what was most important. A study of Acts will provide us with one incontestable conclusion: Peter was the head of the Church of Jerusalem, which was a local church, although it was for a time the only church; when other local churches grew up, James, the brother of the Lord, became chief of the Church of Jerusalem. We do not know if Peter was head of some other church at the time. In supporting the primacy of Peter, we should have to say that he exerted his primacy independently, without connection with any local church—a quite impossible assertion to make, either about those days or about any other. We see, then, that the primacy of Peter was not plainly manifested in the primitive church, and that we cannot positively assert the fulfillment of the promise given to Peter, at least not if we understand it as a promise of primacy. We are faced here with riddles that we are unable to answer, and the reason for the riddles is that we stated the problem badly.

3. If we take eucharistic ecclesiology for our starting-point, many of the riddles can be answered without much difficulty. In that case we must not ask whether Peter was head of the Church. The interesting question now is, which local church had the priority in that period; or rather, did any church have priority during the apostolic age? Eucharistic ecclesiology would seem to imply so. Apparently no one contests the special place held by the Church of Jerusalem until the death of James, brother of the Lord; it only remains to see what kind of place it held. Is Bishop Cassian right in his assertion that the Church of Jerusalem constituted the hierarchical center during the primitive period, or any how until the city fell, and that the other churches lived under its jurisdiction?[26] The phraseology does not matter, since the writer is speaking the language of convention. What we really want to know is whether the Church of Jerusalem had power over the others. In the time of famine, under the emperor Claudius, the Church of Antioch sent help to the Church of Jerusalem by the good offices of Barnabas and Saul (Acts 11:30). Luke thought it his duty to record this, which was very likely the first occasion when one church sent help to another: the first, but not the last—the story of the ancient church abounds with similar examples Whether or not the Church of Antioch was dependent on Jerusalem, this move of theirs was an expression of the love uniting all the churches. No doubt they would have done the same fix any other church that might have needed help. The Apostle Paul lays particular stress on collecting offerings for the poor, to benefit the Church of Jerusalem. This collection has been endlessly discussed by theological writers. It is highly dubious—in fact utterly improbable—that Paul saw in it a sort of Christian “two drachmae” payable to the Christian Jerusalem. Even if he did, we still have no reason to infer that the local churches, in Palestine or outside, thought themselves in any way subject to the power of the church at Jerusalem. It is common knowledge that the power of the Sanhedrin did not extend to the Jewish diaspora; its authority was purely of a moral and religious kind. Paul collected his contributions because the people were moved by a loving impulse and a desire to help the needy, especially those of the Church of Jerusalem. Another point struck Paul even more strongly he thought this piece of charity was visible proof that the Jewish-Christian and Gentile-Christian churches were at one. The theological significance of these collections is therefore unquestionable.[27]

The facts I have just explained prove the special character of the place held by the Church of Jerusalem. To define this, we must begin with the presuppositions that were accepted in the apostolic age, and set aside all modem assumptions. This brings us to the following definition: after local churches had grown up, in Palestine and also beyond its borders, the Church of Jerusalem had a position of priority among them. It possessed priority by virtue of being the church most authoritative in witnessing. This place of honor is easy to understand: from Pentecost onwards, Jerusalem was the first place where the Church of God in Christ took shape, and the building up of the local churches began from Jerusalem.

There Christ suffered and rose again, there for some while they expected His second coming, and there was the dwelling-place of the Apostles. All this made a halo of special glory round Jerusalem, and the Jewish-Christians were not alone in seeing it—the Gentile Christians saw it too. There was no other church that could be compared to Jerusalem, and so its witness had the most authority. Any disagreement with Jerusalem amounted almost to deviation from the true faith, and agreement carried a corresponding guarantee of soundness. No wonder the Apostle Paul found it necessary to explain to Jerusalem what sort of gospel he was preaching to the Gentiles; it was the only way he could find out if “his race was run in vain” (Gal 2:2). His action was no sort of appeal to a higher court, a court possessed of the power to license or prohibit Paul’s missionary activities. If the Church of Jerusalem had been a hierarchical center, Paul would have needed to get its authorization in advance, a thing that he never dreamed of asking. When Paul applied to the Church of Jerusalem (represented by “those of most reputation”), he wanted them to bear witness to the truth and authenticity of his gospel. Paul himself says nothing about his motives for doing this, and speaks only of a revelation: “I went up [ Jerusalem] by revelation; and I laid before them (but privately before those who were of repute) the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles” (Gal 2:2). Nevertheless, if we are to be guided by what we find in Acts, we could suppose that Paul applied to the Church of Jerusalem after, and because of, the conflict that had taken place at Antioch, when doubts had been expressed as to whether Paul’s doctrine was the truth. Acceptance of his gospel by the Church of Jerusalem gave witness that it was true. We can say, in short, that Paul applied to the church which possessed the greatest authority, and the Church of Jerusalem behaved as a church-with-priority.

Paul undoubtedly recognized that the Church of Jerusalem had supreme authority in matters of witness; but this recognition, to him, did not oblige him to feel dependent on the Church of Jerusalem in respect to his personal action, or in respect to the churches he had founded. When Paul looks back on his visits to Jerusalem in the Epistle to the Galatians, he makes it clear that he does not depend on the Church of Jerusalem in his apostolic activity. I think it is very unlikely that Paul believed he had to go to Jerusalem in order to give them an account of his missionary journeys.[28] The visit spoken of in Gal 2:1-10 was inspired by other motives, as we know. As for his last journey to Jerusalem, all we know is that Paul wanted to deliver personally the assistance he had c brought for their poor to the Church of Jerusalem.

The sources give us no reason to suppose that Paul was in a dependent relation to Jerusalem; nor do they give us ground for asserting that the Church of Jerusalem ever claimed to extend her power over the Pauline churches or over Paul himself. Whatever conflicts there were, if any, between Paul and the Church of Jerusalem, and particularly with James, one thing is beyond question. There was a strong opposition party within that Church, and it became stronger still after Paul’s concordat with the “Pillars” (Gal 2:9). If the Church of Jerusalem really had any power over Paul, the members of the opposition could have tried to obtain a clearly worded decision against him. At any rate, the “Judaizers”—whether sent by James, or by the Church of Jerusalem-did not behave like people who have been given a definite mandate. When a church or a personage invests people with the power that a mission implies, they do not behave as the “Judaizers” did.[29] One further point must be added to these remarks, and it concerns ecclesiology. Even if Jerusalem had possessed universal jurisdiction, it could not have reached

beyond the churches and their bishops; it could not cover individual Christians, who were dependent on their several churches; otherwise we should have to suppose that there were no churches outside the Church of Jerusalem, and this was not the case. Paul could not be dependent on the Church of Jerusalem; he was never a member of it. As an apostle, he could not he dependent on the Church of Jerusalem, either; for his apostolate was, in his own words “not of men neither by man.” He was like the other apostles in never being bishop of a church founded by himself. The theory of the apostle-bishop, so widely accepted in Catholic and even non-Catholic circles, is the product of theological speculation: the object is to prove that the monarchical episcopate was there from the beginning. The primitive churches saw an episcopus as presiding over a single local church, not over a group of them. Paul was admittedly the head-figure to the churches he founded; even so, he cannot have been the episcopus of so many all at once.

It is equally bad ecclesiology to ask the question: was the Apostle Peter dependent on the Church of Jerusalem? I confess that, for me, the problem of Peter’s primacy seems to be a false problem; but the problem of Peter himself is real. I cannot possibly tackle the subject at present, or I should wander too far from the immediate point under review. It is enough simply to say that Peter stood in a place apart among the apostles, and that his ministry was unique in kind and had no later parallels. The Apostle Peter is the rock on which the Church is built, and will remain the rock until the coming of the Lord. But Peter’s place and his apostolic ministry could never have set him outside the Church’s boundaries. Another thing to note: belonging to the Church is concrete, not abstract—that is, you cannot belong to the Church in general, you have to belong to one church in particular: the Church of God is manifested as empirical reality in the local churches. This concrete way of belonging to a local church implies a relation of dependence upon it, though we should be careful to avoid describing this dependency in modern terms of law and jurisdiction, for grace is its foundation. The dependence is really on the will of God, who rules the Church’s life. In the early days of the Church of Jerusalem, the Apostle Peter was its head; this did not make him independent in regard to the Church, for in that case he could not have functioned as its head. Conversely, the Church of Jerusalem depended, to some extent, on Peter as being its head. During this phase of Peter’s life, his course of action had to run parallel to the action of the Church of Jerusalem, in full concord. So there is no surprise in the fact that, after his missionary journey and the conversion of Cornelius, Peter reported about them to the Jerusalem church assembly. How could he possibly withhold such an amazing story from them: an uncircumcised pagan received into the Church (for the first time, according to the Acts)! When they heard these things (that is, after hearing Peter’s account) they held their peace and glorified God, saying: “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18). Here was an example of the Church of Jerusalem bearing witness about the will of God, and submitting (the Church, not Peter alone) to God’s will. Legal submission (i.e., to a qualified authority) belongs to quite a different world, and Luke’s story makes no mention of it. We know almost nothing about St Peter’s doings after he left Jerusalem; but we can state with a high degree of probability that, whatever St Peter was doing, he was not dependent on the Church of Jerusalem, at least in a legalistic sense, and least of all as an apostle of Christ. If he had been dependent, we should have had to ask how and where his dependency could find concrete expression. After the “Apostolic Council” which Peter attended, as Acts recounts, he never came to Jerusalem again, so he cannot have participated in the Jerusalem church assembly. We are left with the supposition—most unlikely—that Peter sent in regular reports to Jerusalem. Still another hypothesis is suggested by O. Cullmann in his book on St. Peter: Peter was dependent not on the Church of Jerusalem but on St James in person, because he was the head of the Christian-Jewish mission.[30] This notion rests on the supposition that St James was actually the head of the Universal Church. But that is a highly questionable hypothesis without any data to support it; and it led O. Cullmann to the conclusion that the Christian Jews, no matter where they might be situated, were always dependent on St Peter. According to O. Cullmann, in one self-same church, say the Church of Rome, some of the faithful were dependents of St Peter, and others looked elsewhere. Such a supposition is quite inadmissible, because it leaves out the idea of the Church.

4. After James died, and still more after Jerusalem fell in A.D. 70, the Church of Jerusalem ceased to play the part of leading church. It disappeared from the historical stage: when it made a new entrance it appeared as a small church in the new pagan city of Aelia Capitolina, and the congregation was entirely composed of Gentile Christians. So far had its prestige crumbled, that even in Palestine leadership had passed to the Church of Caesarea; surely this is still further proof that the Church of Jerusalem had not held the primacy before the year 70. Primacy in any case is inseparably bound up with a man, not with a church. If the primacy had belonged to James, he would have passed it over to his successors; men despÒsunoi like himself, that is, kindred of Christ in the flesh. To whom, then, was the priority which formerly belonged to the Church of Jerusalem transferred? The New Testament scriptures give us no guidance on this point, and so we have to look for an answer in the facts of history, and the premises of ecclesiology. If the local churches were gathered round one authoritative church in the beginning, why were they to do without such a center later on? We can strongly assert that no church could have inherited Jerusalem’s authority in full. The authority given to the Church of Jerusalem was unique and unrepeatable. True enough; but there is no need to ask whether another church could have inherited Jerusalem’s authority in full. We are only concerned to discover which had most authority among the churches—if not so great as the primitive authority of Jerusalem, at least greater than the others could boast of.

Let us turn to the facts. We know that the Church of Rome took over the position of “church-with-priority” at the end of the first century. That was about the time at which her star ascended into the firmament of history in its brightest splendor. We cannot tell exactly when this happened, for there was never a formal transmission of priority from Jerusalem to Rome. Even as early as the Epistle to the Romans, Rome seems to have stood out among all the churches as very important. Paul bears witness that the faith of the Romans was proclaimed throughout the whole world (Rom 1:8). The persecutions of Nero did not reduce the Church of Rome to nothing, but it was so badly damaged that some period of time was needed to arouse its spirit and collect its numerical strength. In the time of this transition, as we should expect, it could not play the part of the leading church. We do not know who held the priority during this comparatively short period: it may possibly have been Antioch, which stood in an important ecclesiastical position even in the time of St James. It may have been Ephesus, though this is less likely, for that church’s influence never spread beyond Asia Minor. If Ephesus had really possessed the priority then, surely it would have had possession at the end of the first century. However, we have a document which gives us our earliest reliable evidence that the Church of Rome stood in an exceptional position of authority in this period. This is the epistle of Clement of Rome. Modern theological scholars (especially Protestants) regard Clement of Rome as a name intimately associated with the beginnings of pre-Catholicism, or even of Catholicism at Rome. This is one of the great axioms to be found in modern theological learning, those formulas potent as magic spells, even when totally groundless. We know that Clement was “president” of the Roman Church: that is all. C. Dix, writing to defend the theory of apostle-bishops, considered that Clement was the heir and successor of the Apostles Peter and Paul in exactly the same way as (he thinks) Timothy and Titus had been. In other words, Clement is supposed to have been the bishop of a considerable number of churches, which were governed by presbyteries. This opinion belongs in a world of pure fantasy, and will not stand up to serious critical investigation.[31]

The epistle is not written by Clement alone; but in the name of the Roman Church. “The Church of God dwelling in Rome to the Church of God dwelling in Corinth.” This form of address already proves that the Roman Church did not set itself above the Church of Corinth; they are both called “Church of God.” There is no hint in the epistle of any claim being made by the Church of Rome to exercise any power over the Church of Corinth. If the Church of Rome had believed itself to be invested with a higher power, then the Epistle of Clement would surely have been written in a very different tone. We do not know exactly what had happened at Corinth; the epistle only mentions a “rebellion” against the presbyters, which had led to the presbyters’ (or rather, one presbyter’s) being ejected. This presbyter was the head of the Church, that is, he was the bishop. We again do not know by what means the news of these events had reached Rome. It is easy to suppose that the presbyter or presbyters thus ejected applied to the Church of Rome. But could they have thought Rome had the power to annul their ejection? This is most unlikely; the establishment or ejection of presbyters was the business of a local church. The real reason they applied to the Roman Church was that Rome might refuse to recognize the recent decisions made in the Church of Corinth; might refuse receptio of what had taken place in the Church of Corinth. The Church of Rome did that very thing: bore witness that the ejected presbyters had done nothing amiss, and said that their deposition was not in accordance with the will of God. This was not Rome laying down the law, but the Church bearing witness about what had happened within the Church. The epistle is couched in very measured terms, in the form of an exhortation; but at the same time it clearly shows that the Church of Rome was aware of the decisive weight, in the Church of Corinth’s eyes, that must attach to its witness about the events in Corinth. So the Church of Rome, at the end of the first century, exhibits a marked sense of its own priority, in point of witness about events in other churches. Note also that the Roman Church did not feel obliged to make a case, however argued, to justify its authoritative pronouncements on what we should now call the internal concerns of other churches. There is nothing said about the grounds of this priority; even though the text of the epistle mentions the Apostles Peter and Paul and their death under Nero’s persecution, and one might well expect this to have been enlarged upon as affording a foundation for Roman priority. Apparently Rome had no doubt that its priority would be accepted without argument. The only apology made is for not having sent a letter to the Church of Corinth earlier, so as to restore order there, the delay being due to persecutions.

5. We do not know if the Corinthian Church followed Rome’s advice, but we may fairly suppose that the voice of the Roman Church was heard. Anyhow, Clement’s epistle was held in high esteem at Corinth thereafter. This is an interesting fact, but it still does not prove that Rome’s priority was recognized by other churches. Our next task, there fore, is to find out were what the views of other churches. We find the first direct evidence about the priority of the Roman Church in the writings of Ignatius of Antioch. Speaking of the Church of Rome, Ignatius uses the phrase “which presides” in two passages. “Ignatius also named Theophoros. . .to the church which presides in the land of the Romans.. .which presides in love (¢g£ph).”[32] The term agape is the hardest part of the passage to explain, but the difficulty vanishes if we take into account the special meaning Ignatius gave to agape: for him, agape meant “the local church in its eucharistic aspect.” Each local church is agape: all local churches together are also agape, because each local church, says Ignatius, is the Catholic Church and so manifests the Church of God in Christ. In the empirical sphere, however, the churches form a union based on love, and this union may also be spoken of in the same words. The Roman Church “presides” in love, that is, in the concord based on love between all the local churches. The term “which presides” (prokaqhmšnh) needs no discussion; used in the masculine it means the bishop, for he, as head of the local church, sits in the “first place” at the eucharistic assembly, that is, in the central seat. He is truly the president of his church. Because a local church was by nature identical with the concord of all the churches in love, an image came naturally to Ignatius’ mind: he pictured the local churches grouped, as it were, in a eucharistic assembly, with every church in its special place, and the Church of Rome in the chair, sitting in the “first place.” So, says Ignatius, the Church of Rome indeed has the priority in the whole company of churches united by concord. We are not told by Ignatius (or by Clement, either) why the Church of Rome should preside, and not some other church. To Ignatius it must have seemed self-evident, and proofs a waste of time. In his period no other church laid claim to the role, which belonged to the Church of Rome. At the beginning of the second century, the Church of Alexandria had not yet appeared on the historical scene, but seemed to lurk in some mysterious shadow. As for the Church of Ephesus—Ignatius did indeed send them an epistle, but it does not contain the least allusion to their having any special role. The only important church after Rome was Antioch—they could have claimed leadership—but Ignatius himself attributes this role to Rome, although he is quite clear that great respect is due to his own church and to himself. It is enough to compare his epistle to the Church of Rome with the other Ignatian epistles; one immediately feels the difference of tone. In his other epistles he teaches like a doctor; but when addressing Rome, he does not venture to give any advice at all. Every line in this epistle is charged with special deference to “the church that presides in love.”

Nevertheless, in the epistle to the Church of Rome, we find no reference to its power over the other churches, and Ignatius does not say anything about the Bishop of Rome. This is puzzling to us, but also proves that Ignatius had absolutely no idea of Roman primacy. Priority, to him, did not imply the notion of power. Priority must, of course, be so understood as to correspond with the way in which the local churches are understood. If every church’s life is founded on love, if love underlies all relation with other churches, then priority too must spring from love and be a living example of love’s authority. Ignatius almost certainly knew of Clement of Rome’s epistle, in which the Church of Rome refused to countenance the ejection of Corinthian presbyters; but he had never heard of any standards laid down by the Church of Rome to regulate doctrine or discipline. If such standards existed, he would certainly have applied them to various issues, especially to his doctrine of bishops. He writes to the Romans: “As for you, you have been grudging to none, you have taught others. I can only wish that what you enjoin on others by your instructions may carry due weight.”[33] But the words are used in a very limited sense. The reference is solely to moral issues, and here especially to envy, which had been the chief subject of Clement’s epistle.

Ignatius, in another saying even harder to explain, says that the Church of Rome “presides in the region of the Romans” (prokaqÁtai ™n tÒpJ cwriou `Rwma…wn). What does this mean? We can be sure that Ignatius was not talking here about the Roman Church presiding in Rome itself, for such an expression would be meaningless: a bishop can preside over a church, but a church cannot preside over itself. We must therefore suppose that Ignatius is talking about the Church of Rome’s presidency among the local churches situated “in Roman country.” We do not know what churches these were, but it is an established fact that other churches in central Italy did exist at the time of Ignatius. His words justify our supposing some kind of union between various Italian local churches; among them the Roman Church possessed the priority. If so, a further conclusion may be drawn: in the period of Ignatius of Antioch, besides the one great union of all local churches, more limited unions had come into being, groups of churches round one particular church which had the most authority. Such unions had arisen through the force of events. After all, it was not always either easy or essential to invoke Rome, with her then supreme priority. It was much simpler and more convenient to approach some less distant church, possessed of greater authority than her neighbors. Ecclesiastical hierarchy had always been there, ever since the churches first began. The church-in-priority certainly had authority, but this did not prevent a daughter-church from also having an authoritative position among churches lesser than itself; only, of course, its authority could not be so great. Ignatius regards Rome as the church-in-priority, and his witness on this point agrees with the Roman Church’s self-witness, as we find it in the Epistle of Clement.

6. We shall find other evidence about the Roman position in Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons. His Adversus Haereses contains a famous passage, which has provoked a great many arguments. This is unquestionably the most important document of all with regard to the position of the Roman Church. The author is a father of the Church in the second half of the second century, a man who enjoyed very high prestige. The passage has come down to us in a Latin translation, and this makes it difficult to interpret in many places. I have chosen to quote the Latin because there is, so far, no generally accepted translation.

Ad hanc enim ecclesiam propter potentiorem principalitatem necesse est omnem convenire ecclesiam, hoc est eos qui sunt undique fideles, in qua semper ab his qui sunt undique conservata est ea quae est ab apostolis traditi.[34]

This sentence has been discussed for centuries, almost word by word; but the most important point has never been discussed at all—nobody has asked whether Ireneus was here talking about the Church of Rome. In other words, does the exordium ad hanc enim ecclsiam point to the Church of Rome? Till now all theologians, of every confession and trend, have agreed on assuming that the church in question was undoubtedly Rome. But Pierre Nautin challenged this consensus quite recently in his important article: “Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. III, 3, 2. Church of Rome or Church Universal.”[35] In his opinion, Irenaeus is not talking about the Church of Rome, far from it; he means the Church Universal. A very original point of view this—even paradoxical. That a viewpoint is paradoxical does not necessary commend it to our favor, but neither does it prove that the viewpoint is wrong, for truth often wears the guise of paradox, even in the field of theological inquiry. P. Nautin’s article is very interesting, not only for its main thesis, which may be accepted or rejected as we please, but for the many fascinating observations it contains. I cannot of course linger over details now, but I must make up my mind for or against Nautin’s main thesis. If he is right, and the passage in Adv. Haer. III, 3, 2, has nothing to do with the Church of Rome, then it has no further interest for me. And the remarkable thing is that the author of the article himself comes to the same conclusion; the famous passage loses its former importance to scholars under the light of his interpretation; its content is now a platitudinous truth, i.e., every church should be in accord with the Church Universal.

Nautin’s fundamental premises, which prove his interpretation of Adv. Haer. III, 3, 2, right or wrong, lie in the assertion that Irenaeus’ ecclesiology was “universal.” If this universal type of ecclesiology had not yet come into being in Irenaeus’ time, Nautin’s interpretation simply disintegrates; Irenaeus cannot have been talking about the Universal Church if the idea was foreign to his thought. Readers of the article might find all the arguments convincing, if only Nautin had given really clear proof that this idea of a Universal Church was in Irenaeus’ mind from the start. We find no such proof in his article; he never even raises the question of what ecclesiology Irenaeus believed.

Let us suppose Nautin was right, and that the idea of a Universal Church can really be found in Irenaeus. If so, the sentence in question is no longer important and, worse still, the whole structure of Irenaeus’ argument suffers the same fate. Irenaeus calls on apostolic tradition to correct the mistaken heretics. This tradition, he says, is guarded in every local church by the succession of bishops.[36] It was not in his power to find proof of this in each local church, so he confines himself to one set of bishops only, and enumerates the bishops of Rome, a church in which apostolic tradition and the faith proclaimed to mankind have been guarded up to his own times. This should be enough to confound those who set up irregular conventicles. This is the reason (says Nautin) why all churches, including those in heresy, must be in accord with the Universal Church, if they claim really to be churches. But if Irenaeus is truly discussing the Universal Church, how could he suppose that accord with it would seem to the heretics an argument against their own heterodoxy—or an argument to the faithful proving the apostolic tradition was true? ‘What does “being in accord with the Universal Church” really mean? ‘When we and our contemporaries say, and we often do, that the faithful should be in accord with the Church, we surely mean in accord with the doctrine preserved by the Church, as characterized and ex pressed in the symbols of the Faith, the decisions of ecumenical councils, the writings of the Church’s fathers and the liturgical life. None of these things were there in the second century (or almost none); only the Scripture and the tradition were preserved in each local church by the good offices of successive bishops. In the second century, to insist on accord with the Universal Church as a necessity is simply to pass from concrete to abstract: the concept of the Universal Church is itself an abstraction. Finally and essentially, any arguments against heretics based on the concept of the Universal Church really involve accepting the heretical attitude. The heretics could always reply that their doctrine was right and in accord with “the Church,” that is, with the aeon “ecciesia” in their system of emanations. As for their attitude to Scripture and Tradition—go back to Irenaeus’ own words:

When we convict them by Scriptural proofs, they turn their attack upon the very Scriptures... Again, when we appeal to the Tradition, which comes from the Apostles, and is kept in the churches by the successions of presbyters, they reject that Tradition (III, 2, 1—2).

Irenaeus leaves no room for the opinion of P. Nautin; for if his sentence is taken to refer to the Universal Church, then it will appear absolutely isolated from its context.

I must confess that P. Nautin’s arguments do not convince me. It seems to me that Irenaeus was referring to the Church of Rome in Adv.Haer. III, 3, 2, and that there can be no argument about this. I admit that some of his expressions remain a little obscure to us, and our interpretations are just hypotheses, some plausible and others not. But the general sense of the sentence is clear enough, at least for my own purposes.[37] As I showed above, Irenaeus believed he could confine himself to enumerating the succession in a single church, viz. the Roman Church, although he might have enumerated the successive bishops in every local church, as he says himself. He gives his own explanation for choosing the Church of Rome: he saw it as “the very great and the very ancient church, known to all, which the two most glorious apostles Peter and Paul founded and constituted.”[38] This last remark must have had some special value to Irenaeus, we suppose; to us it is rather disconcerting. No doubt Irenaeus knew some things about the foundation of the Roman Church which we do not know today. In any case, if we take the Latin text as our starting-point, we cannot draw the conclusion that Irenaeus thought that the Church of Rome was founded and constituted by Peter and Paul simultaneously. There is a strong possibility that the Latin translator brought together, in his translation, two actions which were separate in the mind of Irenaeus—namely, the foundation and the constitution of the Church at Rome. “In it,” he goes on, “the Apostolic Tradition was preserved by the succession of bishops.” A little before, Irenaeus insists that anyone looking for the truth can find it in the Tradition of the Apostles, which every local church has preserved. So we must suppose he though that the Apostolic Tradition and the Faith proclaimed to man kind were preserved in the Roman Church more fully than in others, or, at least, in a more manifest way. Later, Irenaeus points to this Church— Rome—as the one to which all other churches must convenire. Nautin, like most of his predecessors, thinks the verb convenire means “to be in agreement or accord.” But this is not the only possible meaning. I think a likelier sense of convenire here is address oneself to, turn to, have recourse to.” The sense of the remark would then be: every local church should have recourse to the Church of Rome. Irenaeus himself confirms this sense of convenire (Adv. Haer. III, 4, 1) in explaining what he had said about the Church of Rome:

If at any time some simple question of detail should happen to provoke a dispute, surely the oldest churches, and those in which the Apostles lived, are the ones we should have recourse to (recurrere) , and they will give us something very certain, and very clear, on the case in question.

This passage in Irenaeus illuminates the meaning of his remarks about the Church of Rome: if there are disputes in a local church, that church should have recourse to the Roman Church, for there is contained the Tradition which is preserved by all the churches.

The two meanings of convenire—accordance and recourse—are close but not identical. “Being in accord” would mean that the Church of Rome can declare the norms, like edicts, with regard to faith and church discipline equally; and that the other churches must be in accord with these norms—in fact, they must accept them. This sense does not fit the context here, nor does it agree with what we know about the Church of Rome in the pre-Nicene period. The Church of Rome did not then initiate any decisions in the realm of faith, or of discipline either. Rome’s vocation consisted in playing the part of arbiter, settling contentious issues by witnessing to the truth or falsity of whatever doctrine was put before them. Rome was truly the center where all converged if they wanted their doctrine to be accepted by the conscience of the Church. They could not count upon success except on one condition—that the Church of Rome had received their doctrine—and refusal from Rome predetermined the attitude the other churches would adopt. There are numerous cases of this recourse to Rome, but I will cite only one. According to Tertullian’s story, Praxeas had managed to sway Pope Victor (or Zephyrinus) to condemn Montanism, and had also predisposed him, to some extent, in favor of monarchianism. In the treatise Against Praxeas, Tertullian’s negative feelings toward Rome are plain to the reader; he says that Praxeas has crucified the Father and driven away the Paraclete. Praxeas obviously cannot have done this all by himself, arid Tertullian’s object of attack was not him, but the Church of Rome, which is accused of doing it for him. The Montanist Tertullian expresses the utmost dislike for “the great church,” but he also understood very well that Rome’s place and value were to be reckoned with: in his own words, Rome was the church unde nobis quo que auctoritas praesta est. This does not mean that the Church of Rome never settled any internal dogmatic question on its own initiative, as other Churches did; but generally the Roman bishops in this period preferred not to be involved in the dogmatic disputes going on at Rome When they did interfere, the results were often unfortunate.

Let us return to the text of Irenaeus. He says that every local church, if contentious problems arise, must (necesse) have recourse to the Church of Rome. Necesse in Irenaeus does not suggest any legal obligation. The necessity springs from a more inward duty, reflecting the very nature of the Church: the duty of appealing, if there is disagreement, to the church which has the greatest authority. This church bore her witness on events in the other churches; or perhaps it would be more accurate to say, events in the Church. The witness was not a verdict backed by the force of law, and, as such, constraining the other churches to obey. It was a free act when the local churches followed Rome’s witness; they were accepting witness from a fellow-church because of its higher authority. But Rome’s witness was not less valid, but had higher validity than any and every legal verdict. If there has ever been a time in church history when the catch-word, Roma locuta, causa finita, stood for something real, that time was before the Church of Rome had any powers by law.

As Irenaeus saw things, the necessity of appealing to the Church of Rome was based on its potentior principalitas. What does this expression mean? Perhaps one day the relevant line from Irenaeus will be discovered in a Greek text; that would be the only chance of finding an answer to our question, an answer acceptable to all.[39] We have not yet been fortunate enough to find it, so we must be content with hypotheses for the present. There has been some progress recently made in interpreting Irenaeus’ phraseology. Fewer and fewer defenders can be found for the view that Irenaeus means, by potentior principalitas, “primacy” of the Church of Rome, in the present-day sense. We should note that F. Sagnard, in his translation of the Third Book of Adv. Haer., renders “propter potentiorem principalitatem” “by reason of the more powerful authority of its foundation.” This may not be altogether exact, but to me he seems correct in thinking that Irenaeus was talking about authority rather than power. But since, in the first place, we have no hope of finding the meaning of Irenaeus’ word by the method of philological analysis, and in the second place, we cannot find the exact Greek equivalent, the problem seems to me soluble only if we start from Irenaeus’ characteristic ideas. He was wont to say, “The Church of Rome is the very great, very ancient church, known to all others, and founded and constituted by Peter and by Paul.” Might not potentior principalitas be simply an expression to describe Rome’s particular position thus conceived? This church possesses the greatest authority among the churches; consequently it is the church with the priority. Surely, then, we could rightly say that the phrase potentior principalitas means “priority”; this would correspond with the Greek ¢rcaiÒthj. The fact that this is the greatest priority shows that it is not the only one, and therefore does not exclude the priority of other churches in the more limited circles of local churches. Irenaeus had said himself, as we know, that litigious question might be referred to churches founded by apostles, such as those of Smyrna and Ephesus.

The language of Irenaeus, thus interpreted, excludes the idea of Roman primacy. Dom B. Botte has rightly pointed out that Irenaeus was not the man who formulated primacy.[40] One might say, however, that he was the formulator of Roman priority among all local churches whatsoever. The tone of Irenaeus echoes Ignatius when he describes the particular position in which Rome stood, and which no other church shared. “Presiding in love” in Ignatius corresponds with the potentior principalitas in Irenaeus. Irenaeus also agrees with Ignatius in his recognition that certain churches have their own priority, in the more limited circles of local churches. Irenaeus, like Ignatius, bears witness to the attitude of local churches concerning the Church of Rome, and we can be quite sure that their witness was identical to the way the Roman Church itself viewed its own position. Thus, to Clement, on the one hand, and Ignatius and Irenaeus on the other, the priority enjoyed by the Roman Church was due to authority of witness: or, to use more modern language, it possessed priority of receptio. The Church of Rome had a special position, and this was not only the result of its actual status in fact; it also implied having a very definite ecclesiological system, which said that each local church was the Church of God in all its fullness. This system is what I have called eucharistic ecclesiology. Having made this analysis, I find one question still to be answered: to what extent did the Church of Rome, and particularly its bishops, act in accordance with their position, as I have explained it above?

7. I have already mentioned Clement of Rome and his way of understanding the position of the Church of Rome. Clement was obviously a man of mark, and his epistle to the Corinthians is an extremely important document; but his action still fails to supply an answer to the question we raised above. In his time, the Church of Rome had only recently taken cognizance of its prioritarian position. I lack the space here to give an account of the history of the Roman Church in the pre-Nicene period; nor is it, indeed, called for. We know too little about some of the Roman bishops of that time; we cannot form an idea of how they regarded the position of the Roman Church; so I will be content to sketch the characters of two of these men, who are its most striking representatives—Pope Victor (189-198) and Pope Stephen (254—257).

Pope Victor, like Pope Stephen, has his place among the greatest men of action in the Roman Church. Some say, or rather insist, that Victor was the first Pope of Rome. This question—was Victor the first pope or not—is a matter for much discussion; but one thing is beyond doubt, that Victor, like Stephen, was an extremely colorful personality, a most commanding figure. Nobody in the pre-Nicene period acted like these two; but does this justify the conclusion that they understood the position of Rome in a way different from Irenaeus? Their own characters might suffice to make them act as they did, while yet remaining within the ancient ideological framework of priority. They were not alone in acting energetically. Did Cyprian act with less energy than Stephen? John Chrysostom and Basil the Great also showed great energy in action, yet nobody is going to say that they were the first popes of the Orient. Why then should we take Victor’s energetic action as grounds for thinking him the first Pope of Rome?

When people speak of Victor as the first Pope, they have in mind his action during the Paschal controversies. In these controversies, many things still remain obscured from our sight. We do not really know why Victor raised the Paschal question; did it arise from a domestic situation inside the Roman Church, or was it first raised by the churches of Asia Minor? Eusebius (our only source) did not pass Victor’s epistle down to us, which is strange, considering that he included the epistle of Polycrates in his History. We must not forget that when Victor addressed the churches of Asia Minor with a peremptory demand (if it was), he did so at a time when he had the backing of a virtual majority of churches. This peremptory demand surely means just that the Church of Rome had refused to accept the practice of Asia Minor. The churches of Asia Minor stood in isolation, since nearly all the other local churches had followed Victor’s lead. Let us avoid the common mistake of talking about the churches of Asia Minor being “excommunicated.” At the end of the second century, nobody thought it possible for one church to excommunicate another, nothing could be at issue beyond a breaking of brotherly communion between the churches. In his epistle to Victor, Irenaeus blames him for refusing to act in the gentle way of the presbyters, his predecessors; he did not accuse Victor of grasping special power over the Church for himself. Victor’s behavior was still within the bounds of ordinary ecclesiastical practice. If Victor had ventured to go further than any one before him, the fact is easily explained by his character. Apparently he was of African origin; and in Carthage at this period there was a sort of Christian cult of Rome. We have only to recall the dithyrambic praise of Rome which we find in Tertullian’s De praescriptione haereticorum. We simply have no data to justify the assertion that Victor, assuming the concept of the Universal Church, took the situation of the Roman Church to mean primacy of power.

As for Pope Stephen—has history treated him quite fairly? We nearly all start with a preconceived idea that, in the battle between him and Cyprian, Cyprian was right, and “the tyrant” (as Cyprian had called Stephen) was wrong. Did Stephen base his actions on a new ecclesiastical ideology, and did Cyprian keep to tradition? It would be more exact to say that neither of them kept to the traditional idea altogether, and that Cyprian had less respect for it than Stephen. Cyprian was possibly right in the case of the Spanish bishops, Basilides and Martial, but Stephen’s behavior was perfectly in keeping with the prioritarian role which the Roman Church had to play. The principle of priority needed no modification to allow for his granting the pleas of the Spanish bishops. In Clement’s time, the Corinthian presbyters had appealed to Rome with the same purpose, that is, to ask that no act of receptio should be made concerning the recent events in Corinth. Any church and any church member could appeal (convenire was Irenaeus’ word) to any other church, and particularly to the church-in-priority. Cyprian asserts that the Spanish bishops were reinstated by Stephen.[41] But here we surely have something more like Cyprian’s own interpretation. Stephen had refused to recognize the eviction of the Spanish bishops, and consequently the setting-up of new bishops in their place was also not countenanced. In other words, there was no receptio for this act. Stephen’s behavior was perfectly natural, and in this case especially because Spain was in the direct sphere of Roman influence, not of Carthaginian. The Spanish churches, according to Cyprian, appealed to Carthage (that is, to the Carthaginian council of bishops) for comfort and help. The Carthaginian Church could have taken its own line and kept Rome in formed, pointing out that Basilides had led Stephen into error. Cyprian did nothing of the sort. The Council, of which he was president, decided that the new bishops had been regularly established, and that their establishment could not be made invalid because their predecessors were improperly reestablished by Stephen. Even if Stephen’s actions went beyond the limited scope which the Roman Church’s priority allowed him—if, that is, he really did make the decision to reestablish the evicted bishops—Cyprian’s action was nonetheless an innovation. He opposed the witness of the church-in-priority by the decisions of his council, and claimed for the council’s decrees the force of law.

We will turn next to the baptismal controversies. I admit the great difficulty of forming an objective opinion about the actions of the two antagonists. Stephen’s epistle has reached us through the comments made on it by Cyprian and Firmilian of Caesarea, both his enemies. Do their epistles give us the content of Stephen’s epistle in a fair and exact way? It should be noted that the Latin text of Firmilian’s epistle, found in the epistles of Cyprian, is not really a translation, but an adaptation from Firmilian’s Greek original text: Cyprian wanted propaganda against Rome and adapted the text to suit his own angle.[42] This is why we cannot base our theories entirely on Firmilian’s epistle. One further note; the question about the baptism of heretics and schismatics was not raised by Stephen in the first place: Cyprian started it, having for years pressed all churches, including Rome, to accept the practice of Carthage in this matter. Cyprian, supported on this point by the Councils of Carthage, did indeed reserve the right to every bishop to act as he saw fit, on the one condition of answering for his actions before God; but in fact he allowed no objections to stand in his way. Cyprian saw it not as an administrative problem, but as the regula catholica. A refusal to follow Cyprian’s principles would indeed have created enormous practical difficulties. Imagine the case of a heretic—especially a Novatianist—enrolled in the Church by Rome and then migrating to Carthage. How would Cyprian have acted? In his eyes such a person had not received baptism.

Stephen flatly refused to follow Cyprian concerning the baptism of heretics. Is his refusal evidence that Stephen believed Rome’s situation, and his own, to depend upon the notion of primacy and power? Why indeed should Stephen have followed Cyprian’s line about the baptism of heretics when the Church of Rome had a different practice from that which Cyprian commended? Cyprian’s extraordinary insistence shows that he, and not Stephen, was trying to exercise some sort of leadership over the whole Church by means of his councils. Stephen was probably first in citing the logion in Mt 16:18. But Cyprian drove him to do so. Had not Cyprian first sent to Rome his treatise De Unitate Ecclesiae, which uses the magic words cathedra Petri? Had he not written that whoever deserts “Peter’s Chair” is putting himself outside the Church automatically? Had he not told Cornelius in his letter that Rome was cathedra Petri et ecciesia principalis unde unitas sacerdotalis exorta est?[43] If Stephen wrote, as Cyprian alleges, that he was the successor of Peter, such an assertion would not have gone beyond what Cyprian had said already. We must admit that Stephen’s position was very difficult. First, Cyprian had rebelled against Stephen’s decision when Stephen refused to recognize the deposition of the Spanish bishops. Next comes a peremptory demand that Stephen depose Marcian, the Bishop of Arles. It is no exaggeration to say that Cyprian wished Stephen to follow his directions, as his predecessor Cornelius had done before. But when Stephen took to speaking in Cyprian’s style, Cyprian then found his own opinions inadmissible in Stephen’s mouth; he rebelled against them passionately and brought against Stephen the councils he had convoked.

Of course Stephen’s own mind may well have glided from one idea to another, and he may sometimes have taken the priority of the Roman Church to imply primacy of power. There is a world of difference between priority of authority, in the realm of witness, and primacy of power; but a change from the former to the latter was quite easy, once the idea of the Universal Church began to find favor. It came to Rome from various directions: from Carthage first of all. It next entered into the religious mind through Jewish-Christian literature; and finally it found expression in Montanism. Apart from Gnostic literature, the Didache is the first document which contains any notion of the Universal Church; and in Montanism the idea of the Universal Church was actually put into practice. Before Catholic Rome had even come on the scene, claiming dominion over the Universal Church, there was a Montanist Rome at Pepuza.

Even supposing that Stephen wanted to be a real pope—and I think it unlikely—his was an isolated example and had no immediate consequences. Cyprian’s ecclesiological system met opposition, even in his lifetime, and similar ill-success attended Stephen’s attempts to carry out Cyprian’s theory in practice, always supposing that he ever attempted anything of the sort. The doctrine of the Universal Church was not entirely accepted by the conscience of the pre-Nicene Period. Before the beginning of the Nicene period, Rome did not hold the primacy of power. After Stephen, the Roman Church forgot about “the Chair of Peter” for a long time. Is it not remarkable that the edicts of Gallienus, Licinius and Constantine seem unaware of the Universal Church and Rome its president? They only speak of local churches in isolation. Catholic theologians complain, with reason, that Constantine overshadowed the Bishop of Rome, and that Sylvester’s pontificate was extremely insignificant.[44] To Constantine, the primacy of the Church of Rome did not exist. Further, it could not exist in his consciousness, because it had no legal character. And while it is true that the witness of pagan emperors and of the semi-Christian Constantine has no decisive value for us, it is hardly likely that when these emperors published their edicts of toleration, they could be unfamiliar with ecclesiastical organization. The decision of the Emperor Aurelian, in the case of Paul of Samosata, cannot be taken as evidence to support the primacy of the Bishop of Rome; the Emperor wanted evidence that Antioch was loyal, and saw a guarantee of this if the Bishop of Antioch were given recognition by his Italian colleagues and by the Bishop of Rome.

Now I only have one task left—to draw some conclusions from what I have been saying above. Universal ecclesiology, so prevalent in modern theology, is not really primitive. It came to replace eucharistic ecclesiology, which was the only one known in apostolic days. The foundations of universal ecclesiology were formulated for the first time by Cyprian of Carthage. With Constantine, a new factor comes into the Church’s life, namely the Roman Empire and the Roman Caesar. This new factor led to the predominance of universal ecclesiology in the mind of the Church. In spite of all the difference there is between these two types of ecclesiology, they agree in both accepting the idea that the whole Church must follow a single directive. For the pattern of universal ecclesiology, a unique, personal power founded on rights is a necessity. It is impossible construct a universal ecclesiology without admitting the idea of primacy, nothing but the exigencies of controversy could produce anything so artificial. The question of whether the primacy should belong to the Bishop of Rome or not is quite a different matter. In the pattern of eucharistic theology, power of one single bishop simply does not exist in any case, because power based on right does not exist. But this is not to say that eucharistic ecclesiology rejects the idea that the whole church should follow a single directive; this idea springs from the basic doctrine of eucharistic ecclesiology. According to this doctrine, one of the local churches possesses the priority, which is manifested in its greater authority of witness about events in other churches, that is, events in the Church of God in Christ, since every local church is the Church of God in Christ with all fullness. To put it otherwise, universal ecclesiology and eucharistic ecclesiology have different conceptions on the question of Church government: the first conceives this government as a matter of law and rights, and the second regards it as founded on grace. The idea of primacy, inherent in universal ecclesiology, is an idea subsequent to that of priority, just as this ecclesiology was subsequent to eucharistic ecclesiology; the concept of primacy is really the same as that of priority, only looked at from a lawyer’s point of view. This explains why, in the pattern of universal ecclesiology, the primacy belongs to one of the bishops, who is at the head of the Universal Church; but in the pattern of eucharistic ecclesiology, the priority belongs to one of the local churches, and only belongs to the bishop through his church. No priority belongs to the bishop personally; he possesses it only through the local church. Priority is a concept founded on the idea of grace: it is a gift of grace, given by God to one of the local churches; and its nature is a gift of witnessing, in the name of the Church, about all that goes on within the same Church. This shows that everything happens in the Church, not outside it or over it. For this reason—that priority is a gift of witness—it cannot be fully accounted for on empirical grounds. We cannot explain why the apostle Peter occupied a special place among the apostles and had a special mission, nor why Paul was chosen by God to be the apostle to the Gentiles, nor yet why the priority, first possessed by the Church of Jerusalem, was handed on to Rome. The end of the reckoning brings us to a dilemma: we have simply to accept either priority and eucharistic ecclesiology or primacy and universal ecclesiology. By denying both we reject the idea that the Church has a single directive—and that is an essential proposition in the doctrine of the Church.

The Orthodox Church is absolutely right in refusing to recognize the contemporary doctrine that primacy belongs to the Bishop of Rome; however, this rightness does not lie in the numerous arguments that have been brought against primacy, but in the very fact of non-recognition. The arguments against primacy offered by Orthodox school-theology seem to suffer from some lack of clarity and finish. This can be explained by the fact that eucharistic ecclesiology is still alive, deep down, in the Orthodox soul; but Orthodoxy on the surface is under the shadow of universal ecclesiology, and also of contemporary ecclesiastical organization. The attribute of “catholicity,” which (in eucharistic ecclesiology) belongs to the episcopal church, has now been transferred to the auto cephalous church—a unit, in fact, half political and half ecclesiastical. Naturally, the episcopal church loses its catholicity and becomes a part of the autocephalous church. To this latter, alone, modern Orthodox theology ascribes the ability to be free and autonomous. Orthodox theology indeed rejects the idea of primacy on the universal scale, but it recognizes a partial primacy at the center of every autocephalous church, a primacy belonging to the head of that church. We are concerned here with primacy, not priority, for priority implies that every local church has fullness of ecclesiastical esse. The autocephalous churches, meanwhile, have become divided and separated, for the idea of a single directive has faded since the fall of Byzantium. Ever since the second Ecumenical Council, Constantinople has been trying to bring off a pan-Orthodox primacy, but all her attempts have failed. It would be most unwise to talk

“Eastern Pope,” as though the Patriarch of Constantinople set himself to copy the Bishop of Rome, and wrong whether we take an ideological or a historical view. But no doubt various inner motives did impel the Patriarch of Constantinople to follow along the road to primacy, within the pattern of a universal ecclesiology. In modern times, the unity of the Orthodox Church is becoming a sort of abstract ideal, with no means of manifesting itself in the real life of the Church. Anyone who regards the pan-Orthodox or Ecumenical Council as an organ manifesting the Church’s unity is just putting things in the wrong order, consequences before foundation. In fact, the pan-Orthodox Council should be the consequence of Orthodox Church unity; it should be guided by a church or a bishop; and it cannot be a foundation for this unity.

In the long course of the struggle against the Roman Catholic position about the primacy of Rome, Orthodox doctrine has lost the very notion of priority. And the Catholic Church lost sight of the idea even earlier, during its struggle for a single directive in the Church, which it has now transformed into primacy. If we take the respective positions of the two churches as they stand, there is no hope of resolving the question of primacy. We can only accept the tragedy, but with our eyes open, and without that romantic sentimentality which only adds bitterness to the everlasting discussion about primacy. “The unity of the faith in the bond of peace.” Unity of faith still reigns within the Orthodox Church, but without union in love; and neither exists between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches. Why is this? Surely because the mind of the Church has become unaware that the Church of God should be directed by a local church, one church among all the others. They all possess catholicity; but priority of authority, by giving witness about events in the Church’s life, is something that belongs only to the church “which presides in love.”

The primacy of Peter. Essays in Ecclesiology and the Early Church /Ed. by John Meyendorff. Translated by Katharine Farrer. NY, 1992. Pp. 91-143.

Êàðòà ñàéòà

[1] In this essay I develop ideas which I have already published in an article “La doctrine de la primauté à la lumière de l’ecclésiologie,” in Istina 4 (1957). Some passages are literally transcribed.

[2] See O. Linten, Das Problem der Urkirche in tier neuer Forschung (Uppsala, 1932); F. M. Braun, Aspects nouveaux du problème de l’Eglise (Fribourg, 1942) (translation from the German Neues Licht auf die Kirche, 1946).

[3] Epist XLIII, V, 2; cf. Tertullian, De Virg., 2.

[4] Epist. LV, XXIV, 2; cf. Epist. XXXVI, IV, 1. “Omnes enim nos decet pro corpore totius ecclesiae cuius per varias quasque provincias membra digesta sun excubare.”

[5] Epist.LV,XXIV,2.

[6] Epist. LV, XXIV, 3.

[7] DeUnit.V.

[8] Epist. XLIII, V, 2.

[9] Epist.XLIII,VII, 1.

[10] Epist. XLIII, V.

[11] DeUnit.V.

[12] Epist. LV, XXIV, 2: “et cum sit a Christo una ecclesia per totum mundum in multa membra divisa, item episcopatus unus episcoporum multorum concordi numerositate diffussus...” My own text gives a literal translation. I quote the more polished version of Canon Bayard: “Seeing therefore that by Christ’s institution there is one Church only in all the world, spread abroad in many members, and one episcopate only, represented by a multiplicity of bishops one in fellowship together...” (St Cyprian, Correspondence; II [Paris 1925], p. 147).

[13] Epist. LIX, XIV, 2: “concordia cohaerens.”

[14] Epist. LXVI, VIII, 3: “Scire debes episcopum in ecclesia esse et ecclesiam in episcopo et si qui cum episcopo non sit in ecclesia non esse.”

[15] Epist. XLVIII, III,1: “Ecclesiae catholicae matricem et radicem.”

[16] Epist. LIX, XVI,1.

[17] See Canon 19 of the Council of Antioch.

[18] J. Beyer, S.J., “Le souverain Pontife, centre vital et unite de l’Eglise,” Textes des conférences donnés au congrès eucharistique des dirigeants de La Croisade eucharistique en août 1955 à Nivelles, Monthly bulletin of the Directors of the C.E., 24/2 (1955) 38. I quote after B. Luykx, O. Praem, “De l’évêque” in Questions Liturgiques et paroissiales (1956) 4—5.

[19] See Dom O. Rousseau, “La vraie valeur de l’ dans l’Eglise,” and Dom B. Botte “Presbyterium” and “Ordo episcoporum,” in Irénikon XXIX/1 (1956).

[20] O. Cullmann, Saint Pierre, disciple-apôtre-martyr (Neuchâtel and Paris, 1952), pp. 213—15.

[21] A. Kartashev, “La réunion de I’Orthodoxie” (in Russian), in Tserkovnyi Vesinik (1956) no.

5—6, pp. 4—12.

[22] “L’apôtre Pierre et l’évêque de Rome, Theologia XXVI (Athens, 1955), pp. 11—12.

[23] Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. IV, xxiii, 10.

[24] J. Ludwig, Die Primatwörte Mt xvi. 18, 19 in der altkirchlichen Exegese (Munster, W.), P. 7.

[25] P. Bonnard, Jesus-Christ defiant son Eglise (Neuchâtel and Paris, 1948), P. 26.

[26] Bishop Cassian, “Saint-Pierre et l’Eglise dans le Nouveau Testament (le problème de la Primauté), ” Istina(1955/3) 262-4.

[27] J. Munck, Paulus und die Heilsgeschichte (Copenhagen, 1954), pp. 286ff.

[28] Bishop Cassian, P. 263.

[29] The “Judaizers” were connected in various ways with the Church of Jerusalem; or perhaps we should follow Munck in supposing that they were former Gentiles converted to Christianity.

[30] O. Cullmann, pp. 37, 39.

[31] G.Dix, “The Ministry in the Early Church,” in The Apostolic Ministry (1946), pp. 253—66.

[32] Romans. Salutation. Ignatius of Antioch, Letters, tr. P. T. Camelot in Sources chrétiennes 10 (Paris, 1951), P. 125.

[33] Rom 3:1.

[34] The translation proposed by F. Sagnard (Irénée de Lyon. Contre les Hérésies, Sources chrétiennes 54, III, 3, 2 [Paris 1952]) runs: “This Church [ Rome], by reason of being founded with more powerful authority, must command the concordance of every church with herself: that is, of the faithful who come from everywhere: she is in whom the tradition, coming from the Apostles, has always been preserved, by those who come from everywhere.

[35] In Revue de l’histoire des religions, CLI/I (January-March 1957).

[36] Adv. haer. III, 3, 1.

[37] I cannot here give a philological analysis of Irenaeus’ sentence, not only because space is lacking. In fact, philological analysis of the sentence has so far given us nothing, and any future yield is doubtful. Turning the Latin back into Greek would be a hopeful line if one had a dictionary of Irenaeus’ works. But in proposing our different translations, we shall never be sure that the original text has really been reconstructed. The translator of Irenaeus had a poor knowledge of Greek, or could not put Irenaeus’ ideas into Latin; but he still had a great advantage over us—he had the original text before him, whereas all we have is a translation. We can at most find a Greek equivalent to a set of Latin words: we cannot be sure that these are exactly the words used by Irenaeus.

[38] P. Nautin, pp. 55—6.

[39] See the analysis of the different meanings of potentior principalitas in F. Sagnard’s Irénée de Lyon. contre les Héréses, pp. 414ff.

[40] 40 Dom B. Botte, “A propos de l’Adversus Haereses III, 3, 2, de saint Irénée, Irenikon XXX (1957/2) 162.

[41] Epist.LXVII,V,3.

[42] See J. Ludwig, Die Primatwörte Mt. XVI 18, 19, in der altkirchlicher Exegese (Neutestamentliche Abhandlungen XIX Band, 4 Heft) (Münster. 1952), pp. 33—4.

[43] Epist.LIX,14.

[44] A. Fliché and Y. Martin, Histoire de l’Église v. III (Paris, 1950), p. 36.

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