Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Controversial Territory. (Letters)

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Controversial Territory. (Letters)

Article excerpt

* I was surprised, not to say a little dismayed, by some of Pat Morrison's statements in her piece on Vatican II, "A Council Primer." When she writes, for example, "an ecumenical council, by definition, is the pope's own council" and that Vatican II "was the 21st ecumenical council," she needs to indicate something that precisely Vatican II helped many to recognize: This is controversial territory, and these are not demonstrable Christian troths but Catholic claims, and ones that are rejected by all other Christian churches, in particular the Eastern Orthodox, whose bishops are recognized by the Catholic church but not included in Catholic councils. No council since the schism of 1054 has been recognized as ecumenical by both Catholics and Orthodox.

Further, it may be noted that it is not clear that either the Catholic or the Orthodox understanding of what makes a council ecumenical can stand up to historical reality, given that Nicaea and the following councils were convoked by neither pope nor bishops but by the emperor--the Francisco Franco, Augusto Pinochet or George Bush of the day--who also exercised predominant influence on their proceedings. Alternatively--if one may try to peer into the future--if some day the church decided that it was too uncomfortable with the teachings of these councils (so remote from the Jesus of the Synoptic gospels) could it perhaps declare that they were not, after all, ecumenical? Which raises a further question: Does the well-informed Christian have to wait for that day? Again, She writes that the Jerusalem meeting of the community recounted by Luke in Acts 15 was "under Peter's leadership." That is what Catholics might expect, but it is not what we find when we read Acts. …

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