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Bishop of Rome and Ecumenical Dialog with Orthodox Christians

One of the main stumbling blocks in the ongoing Ecumenical Dialog between Roman Catholic church and the Orthodox Churches is the primacy of the bishop of Rome. Difference in view on this particular issue lies in the way each sees the figure of the Pope and how he should exercise his authority. Although endless discussions can be held to prove each other prospective the real difference is not as crucial as one may see it.

Pope as successor of Peter

Parties on either side side agree on this one. While there may have been some discussions in the past over the nature of Peter's leadership among the apostles, there are plenty of Biblical and historical evidence pointing to the fact that Peter indeed was seen as the leader of the twelve, who gave his live in martyrdom while leading the church of Rome.

“The Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church”

Many Orthodox object to this title since it reflects the nature of the pope's jurisdiction. In the Orthodox church, while bishops and patriarchs are united in faith each exercises his own authority over their particular churches. Never the less this is is not irreconcilable difference, since within the Catholic church there are Eastern Catholic Churches that enjoy the same kind of jurisdiction and although united with the Pope of Rome, these churches are governed by their local Synod of Bishops and in cases the decisions made by these churches are sent to the Pope of Rome to seek his consent which is slightly different from asking permissions. “First Among Equals” is possible solution to reconcile this difference.

Infallibility of the Pope

The doctrine of the papal infallibility was defined by the First Vatican Council in 1870. While view of the Orthodox Church concerning the Pope's infallibility may differ, it should be said that all orthodox church are in agreement that the Holy Spirit will prevent the Church from falling into error. Many Orthodox theologians agree that first seven ecumenical councils. From this point of view theres room for common ground between both views. While doctrine of Pope's infallibility remains in force in the Roman Catholic church, it is exercised on rare occasions and only in concern of major moral or theological teaching of the Church.

Eugenia Brown is a writer for Everything Catholic!- website that promotes products from Ingatius Press, a Catholic Publisher. There you can find books and literature on variety of topics including Pope.

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