"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Who Does He Think He Is?

Catholic University of America Press sent me their catalogue last week, and there are many interesting entries in it, not the least of which is this book forthcoming in the spring of 2013: Paul McPartlan,  A Service of Love: Papal Primacy, the Eucharist, and Church Unity (Catholic University of America Press, 2014), 120pp. About this book the publisher tells us:

A crucial topic in Catholic-Orthodox ecumenical dialogue is the nature and exercise of universal primacy in the church. In 1995, Pope John Paul II expressed the hope that pastors and theologians of both churches might seek ways in which the papal ministry could accomplish "a service of love recognized by all concerned" (Ut Unum Sint). In this short and penetrating study, Paul McPartlan, a member of the international Roman Catholic-Orthodox theological dialogue, presents a proposal, carefully argued both historically and theologically, for a primacy exercising a service of love in a reconciled church, West and East.

McPartlan builds on the substantial foundation already laid in the dialogue for an understanding of the church in terms of the Eucharist. Eucharistic ecclesiology has been one of the most remarkable developments in the theological renewal of recent decades. Drawing particularly on scriptural and patristic teaching, it offers a highly promising framework for resolving this most sensitive and difficult of issues -- recognizing the bishop of Rome as the focal point and servant of the Eucharistic communion among bishops. Vatican II directed that those working for reconciliation between Catholics and Orthodox pay close attention to the relationships that pertained between the Eastern churches and the see of Rome before the split of 1054. McPartlan seeks to do just that, notably incorporating the teaching of the council on the role of the papacy to craft a proposal that may commend itself to Catholics and to Orthodox.

McPartlan seems to be going over territory I covered in my Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy: Ut Unum Sint and the Prospects of East-West Unity (UND Press, 2011) though I have never seen my treatment as definitive, and have always been open to others. My whole point has been to find a way for Orthodoxy and Catholicism to renew the communion which already exists between them while each enriches the other as Aidan Nichols callled for in his Christendom Awake: On Re-Energizing the Church in Culture (Eerdmams, 1999).

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