Evangelii Nuntiandi 65: The Role of Peter’s Successor

Affirming the role of the Bishop of Rome …

65. It was precisely in this sense that at the end of the last Synod we spoke clear words full of paternal affection, insisting on the role of Peter’s Successor as a visible, living and dynamic principle of the unity between the Churches and thus of the universality of the one Church.[Paul VI, Address for the closing of the Third General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (26 October 1974): AAS 66 (1974), p. 636] We also insisted on the grave responsibility incumbent upon us, but which we share with our Brothers in the Episcopate, of preserving unaltered the content of the Catholic faith which the Lord entrusted to the apostles. While being translated into all expressions, this content must be neither impaired nor mutilated. While being clothed with the outward forms proper to each people, and made explicit by theological expression which takes account of differing cultural, social and even racial milieu, it must remain the content of the Catholic faith just exactly as the ecclesial magisterium has received it and transmits it.

The point of contention usually centers on outward forms deemed needful by Rome. And in its reception (or lack thereof) by people, the modern distrust of authority and the cource of that authority being European/First World. Authority, of course, is tied up with the deepest notions of a bleiever turning herself or himself over to God. And to the authority figures within any branch of Christianity. With many individuals, and in certain strains of many human cultures, it is a far more difficult persuasion than it used to be a century or more ago. The challenge remains heavy on the pope and on the pastors and evangelists of the Church: what is essential to Christ, and what are aspects historical, human, and reformable?


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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5 Responses to Evangelii Nuntiandi 65: The Role of Peter’s Successor

  1. Jimmy Mac says:

    Isn’t this a bit self-serving?

    • Todd says:

      Partly. But this is a document of a pope summarizing a meeting of bishops. So we should expect it.

      And for those of us like me who are naturally distrustful of authority, I accept the challenge of how to deal with it. I may not like it. I may not like the results of it. But I still have to confront my dislike as being of me, or of the poor quality of leadership, as well as the notion of should we even have such leadership.

  2. FrMichael says:

    Both Vatican Councils addressed what is essential in the ministry of Peter. Pastor aeternus and Lumen gentium need to be internalized before being able to properly answer the open-ended question concluding this post.

    • Todd says:

      Maybe not. There are aspects of Roman culture and human failings that clog the engines of the Vatican. The curia, for example, seems the real power, and where is that addressed in the Gospel, the Church Fathers, and even LG?

      • FrMichael says:

        Let me restate my point. Both Vatican Councils– Vatican I infallibly in many respects– have identified the divinely instituted powers of the papacy. Once we understand and believe these doctrines, then we can in good faith address the more frustrating aspects of contemporary Rome that are not divine writ but simply the ways things have developed over the centuries. The problem I have experienced multiple times in discussions with other Catholics about the papacy is that most Catholics do not know the doctrines regarding the papacy.

        Now I’ve reread the post and see that I’ve diverted it to the papacy. Sorry about that. But one could draw a universal conclusion from this specific point about the papacy: to be an informed participant in these debates about inculturation and adaptation, one needs to be well-grounded in dogmatic theology, history, and the Bible. Quite frankly, each of those require sizeable amounts of time in order to be proficient. In my experience, most people rely on a crutch or two to make up for their weak areas: a favorite church historian here, a favorite systematic theologian there. And these favorites often get cited in simplified ways not in accord with the theologian’s intent. Avery Cardinal Dulles and Fr. Raymond Brown are two individuals who were oft-quoted for causes not their own.

        This topic makes liturgy seem placid!

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