Friday, June 10, 2005

To the top

In light of some recent discussion on papal infallibility, the Cogitator (aka, Elliot Bougis) suggested that it might be nice for Catholics to have a nice tidy collection of patristic quotes on the role of the esteemed Bishop of Rome. And since he had himself prepared a magnificent collection of such quotes some time ago (collected from the Eastern Fathers), it seemed only right as a public service to encourage my Catholic readers to follow that link as a handy source for thoughtfully selected material. As my own contribution, I will note that Lars Thunberg, a noted scholar on St. Maximus Confessor, made specific reference to St. Maximus's quotations on the papacy in his work Man and the Cosmos, pp. 25-27, and Thunberg concluded that St. Maximus sincerely believed in the divine promise to the faithfulness of the Church of Rome. Thunberg explains a controversial quote of St. Maximus sometimes used to suggest that he did not believe in the papacy as follows:

Once more forced to consider the possibility that in the case of Monotheletism the Romans might accept a union with the Byzantines, he answered through the paradoxical words of St. Paul, and said: "The Holy Spirit condemns ... even the angels that would proclaim anything which is contrary to the Gospel." This implies that he did not want to discuss an improbable hypothesis, but would rather declare that he was prepared to die for the truth.

This statement is a good starting point for a clarification of his own attitude. His personal experience of the doctrinal position of Rome confirmed his conviction that the promises of our Lord to Peter were applicable to the Church that preserved his relics. Thus, for him, the communion of the Churches expressed itself as "a Roman communion [emphasis original]," a communion with the Bishop of Rome.

St. Maximus Confessor, pray for us.