Benedict XVI Reaffirms Primacy of Bishop of Rome…

Source: FSSPX News

“We are familiar with Pope Leo’s action thanks to his most beautiful sermons - almost 100 in a splendid and clear Latin have been preserved - and thanks to his approximately 150 letters. In these texts the Pontiff appears in all his greatness, devoted to the service of truth in charity through an assiduous exercise of the Word which shows him to us as both Theologian and Pastor. 

Leo the Great, constantly thoughtful of his faithful and of the people of Rome but also of communion between the different Churches and of their needs, was a tireless champion and upholder of the Roman Primacy, presenting himself as the Apostle Peter’s authentic heir: the many Bishops who gathered at the Council of Chalcedon, the majority of whom came from the East, were well aware of this.”

“From this intervention in particular, but also from others made during the Christological controversy in those years [451], it is clear that the Pope felt with special urgency his responsibilities as Successor of Peter, whose role in the Church is unique since "to one Apostle alone was entrusted what was communicated to all the Apostles", as Leo said in one of his sermons for the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul (83, 2). And the Pontiff was able to exercise these responsibilities, in the West as in the East, intervening in various circumstances with caution, firmness and lucidity through his writings and legates. In this manner he showed how exercising the Roman Primacy was as necessary then as it is today to effectively serve communion, a characteristic of Christ’s one Church.”

The pope also said that “the times in which Pope Leo lived were very difficult” because of “constant barbarian invasions, the gradual weakening of imperial authority in the West and [a] long, drawn-out social crisis.” “The fame of one particular episode in Leo’s life has endured. It dates back to 452 when the pope, together with a Roman delegation, met Attila, chief of the Huns, in Mantua,” the pope explained. “This important event soon became memorable and lives on as an emblematic sign of the Pontiff’s action for peace. Unfortunately, the outcome of another Papal initiative three years later was not as successful,” and Rome was plundered, however without being burned.

Besides, Benedict XVI presented St. Leo the Great as “a great messenger of peace and love through the force of this Christological faith.” He was a pope “thoughtful of communion between the different Churches.”

The issue of the primacy of the pope is the source of tensions between Catholics and Orthodox. In October 2007, in Ravenna (Italy), the two denominations began to agree on this delicate question during a meeting of the Commission for theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches. However, the delegation from the Patriarchate of Moscow, who had left the negotiation table because of inter-Orthodox reasons, on the second day, did not endorse the conclusions of the meeting.

“The Ravenna document was a temporary text and was not approved by the Catholic Church,” Bishop Angelo Amato, Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, declared. In an interview granted to the Italian Catholic daily Avvenire, the bishop pointed out that his dicastery was presently studying the document. “The primacy is not an optional addition, but an essential element which defines the particular Church and the universal Church,” Bishop Amato explained. And he added that the text was phrased in “a language closer to the Orthodox ecclesial tradition than to the Catholic ecclesial tradition.” (Sources: apic/imedia/VIS/Osservatore Romano)