The Bishop of Rome and the Twelve

 

“There is, in fact, among the bishops only one Church, only one soul, only one heart… There is, through the institution of Christ, one and only one Church, spread out over the whole world, one and only one episcopacy represented by a multiplicity of bishops united among themselves… The Church forms a single whole, whose bond is the union of bishops.”

St. Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle 66, 8,3.

 

“Our Apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be contention over the bishop’s office. So, for this cause, having received complete foreknowledge, they appointed the above mentioned men, and afterwards gave them a PERMANENT character, so that, AS THEY DIED, other approved men should succeed to their ministry.”

Saint Clement, Bishop of Rome, Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 44. 97 AD

 

“He showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God… The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:10,14).

 

Current crises compel us to look at Church history and scripture.  Rather than pretend to have any answers, the above quotes are mainly for directing the reader to the Melkite Eparchy of Newton document, The Melkite Church at the Council, particularly Chapters 5-7.

From Chapter 6:

“Holy Scripture affirms a power of primacy, on the part of Peter, over the rest of the Apostles and over the whole Church. But Scripture does not affirm in any way that no bishop can be constituted in the Church except through the intervention, “direct or indirect,” of Peter and his successors, the bishops of Rome. We even explicitly see the other Apostles constituting bishops without referring in any way to Peter. The same is true of their disciples, such as Titus or Timothy. If it is necessary to understand the text as applying to bishops in the strict sense, doesn’t the Scripture say that it is the Holy Spirit who instituted the bishops to rule the Church (cf. Acts 20:28)? It is difficult, without doing violence to the text, to find in the Scripture a basis which permits affirming that no bishop obtains jurisdiction over his Church except through the “direct or indirect” intervention of the Bishop of Rome, successor of Peter.”

The document also gives the eastern Churches’ perspective on the history of the College of Cardinals in the Roman Church.

For a final note this author does not endorse the document’s open questions on contraception in Chapter 15. Contraception is repugnant to the soul of the baptized and the Melkite Church has declared her union with the Magesterium on this matter.