Ullmann and the legal framework for Papal Succession

Briefly, it seems that the much of the difference between the present Roman Catholic understanding of the role of St Peter in the Church and that of the Orthodox understanding is connected with the models of what it is that each Pope of Rome assumes on ascending the throne. Is it as bishop of the first See of the Catholic Church, or is it as an heir to the authority of St Peter? Is his status of Pope bound to his status as Bishop or to an inherited authority that is not dependant on being Bishop? Is the position dependent on the See of Rome and its location or only on a legal recognition of a candidate as being the legitimate heir of the Papacy? These are some of the questions arising from the model presented in Ullmann and that from an Orthodox perspective. I will fill this post later with more thoughts, but it is largely to allow the continuance of a discussion begun elsewhere. Please feel to drop in any comments about this particularly or in general about the place of St Peter focusing on patristic evidence and possible theological/ecclesiological models for understanding it.

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One Response to Ullmann and the legal framework for Papal Succession

  1. Ullmann’s idea is purely legal and devoid of any connection to the mystery of the Priesthood. He even works the logic that a layman can be Pope because it is a legal inheritance rather than a mystery of the Priesthood. Frankly, I was horrified at this approach that has nothing to do with the Tradition of the Apostles nor any understanding of the mystery of the Faith. It is merely a humanly devised idea and so devoid of Grace. The Pope can only have any jurisdiction because he is the bishop of the first See. It is as Bishop that he can be an icon of Christ and it is because Rome is the first See originally centred in the capital of the Empire that he is seen by all the world as an icon of Christ and that the Church is one and the same in each place he may stand in as a court of appeal from any place not to remove the dignity of other Patriarchs to demonstrate the the dignity is the same and united. His being able to hear a case shows that the Church is not regional and that there is one Apostolic Tradition. However, this privilege is precisely because he is a bishop equal to all the other bishops in this dignity but set as first to show the unity of the One Church.

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