Two Jesuit academics discuss theology using impenetrable jargon


Having initially been sceptical about Pope Francis and especially his record under the Argentine junta, I am developing a certain respect for him. As you can probably tell from the fact that this is my third post about it his recent interview impressed me. However, there were points where the Francis and his interviewer get drawn into the most laughably incomprehensible exchanges. This is a particularly baffling example :

On June 29, during the ceremony of the blessing and imposition of the pallium on 34 metropolitan archbishops, Pope Francis spoke about “the path of collegiality” as the road that can lead the church to “grow in harmony with the service of primacy.” So I ask: “How can we reconcile in harmony Petrine primacy and collegiality? Which roads are feasible also from an ecumenical perspective?”

The pope responds, “We must walk together: the people, the bishops and the pope. Synodality should be lived at various levels. Maybe it is time to change the methods of the Synod of Bishops, because it seems to me that the current method is not dynamic. This will also have ecumenical value, especially with our Orthodox brethren. From them we can learn more about the meaning of episcopal collegiality and the tradition of synodality. The joint effort of reflection, looking at how the church was governed in the early centuries, before the breakup between East and West, will bear fruit in due time. In ecumenical relations it is important not only to know each other better, but also to recognize what the Spirit has sown in the other as a gift for us. I want to continue the discussion that was begun in 2007 by the joint [Catholic–Orthodox] commission on how to exercise the Petrine primacy, which led to the signing of the Ravenna Document. We must continue on this path.”

It might be clearer in the original Italian but I very much doubt it. Still I should probably cut Francis some slack. No one is infallible!


One thought on “Two Jesuit academics discuss theology using impenetrable jargon

  1. (I would discuss this with you in person but, hey, I’m not there, so here’s a comment about it instead).

    I don’t find this unclear, perhaps because I’ve spent time debating this stuff in the past.

    This is about church governance, not theology. The pope is saying that he thinks the church should be run by bishops, in councils (episcopal collegiality), like the early church (collegially, synod-ially). The interviewer asks how that can be reconciled with the idea that the pope is an absolute leader (Petrine primacy). The pope says that everyone in the church has to work together, and that councils and assemblies can exist at various levels in the church (PCCs – endorsed by the pope).

    This is important in terms of ecumenicalism between Catholics and the orthodox because the real division between those two branches of the church is that the pope has set himself up as an absolute leader, overriding the councils of bishops that ran the early church. If that obstacle weren’t there, then those two branches of the church might be able to enter back into communion with each other.

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