Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Change Your Mind

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Change Your Mind

Article excerpt

* Gregory the Great is considered a doctor of the Roman Catholic church and was also a pope. As I showed many years ago, a letter of Pope Pelagius II relating to a sixth-century dispute with Eastern Christian writers was in fact composed by Gregory. Although it was written when he was a still a deacon, there is no later evidence to suggest that he ever changed his mind on this fundamental principle, and so in reading it we are hearing the voice of Gregory, pope and doctor.

The reference at the outset is to Paul's criticism of Peter in Galatians 2:14, showing that Peter first caused Gentiles to act as Jews but then he himself was willing to behave as a Gentile. In other words he changed his stand on a basic topic. He continues:

  Dear brethren, do you think that to Peter, who was reversing his
  position, one should have replied: "we refuse to hear what you are
  saying, since you previously taught the opposite"? If ... one
  position was held while truth was being sought, and a different
  position was adopted after truth had been found, why should a change
  of position be imputed a crime to this See which is humbly venerated
  by all in the person of its founder? … 
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