"The question of primacy concerns the doctrine of faith -- it isn't just a question of human organisation, and the problem lies precisely here," said Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk, president of the theological commission of the Russian Church's governing Holy Synod. "The apostolic canons make clear that the primacy was an essential tenet, along with synodality, in the Church's nature. In reality, however, one can't repropose issues like these without taking account of how they've been applied historically. It isn't a question of some pre-existing, abstract, atemporal situation."
The metropolitan told Italy's 30 Giorni Catholic monthly magazine that the exercise of papal primacy should "support the life and growth of Churches at all levels, and not pose an obstacle". He added that Rome had made subjection to papal jurisdiction a requirement for all "genuine bishops", and should recognise instead that bishops possessed "equal dignity" deriving from the Holy Spirit.
"The Eucharist is the sacrament of the Church, the sacrament of sacraments -- wherever it's celebrated by a legitimately consecrated priest, the Church is present and it's possible to live the fullness of the church experience," Metropolitan Filaret continued. "No primacy can be exercised at the expense of this catholic fullness of the local Church. Yet in the Catholic Church, the Pope projects his ecclesiastical power over the whole earth. This complicates relations with Orthodox sister Churches."
Catholic-Orthodox ties have long been tense over accusations of Catholic "'proselytism" in traditionally Orthodox areas of Eastern Europe, as well as over the post-Communist revival of Greek Catholic communities who combine the Eastern liturgy with loyalty to Rome. However, theologians from both Churches pledged to reconsider divisive issues at mid-December Rome talks co-chaired by Cardinal Walter Kasper and Metropolitan John Zizoulias. Papal primacy is expected to dominate the first meeting for six years of an International Commission for Catholic-Orthodox Theological Dialogue, which is to be hosted in Belgrade next September by the Serbian Orthodox Church. Jonathan Luxmoore, Warsaw
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