Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Patriarch of the West -- Again

Here I mentioned being puzzled that the Holy Father dropped his title "Patriarch of the West". I remain puzzled. There is quite a variety of interpretation of the de-patriarchization of the west. One correspondent thinks it is all good news, will be welcomed by the Orthodox, and portends a separate jurisdiction for the classic Roman Rite. Naturally, Steve is the one I want to be right:

I wrote about this at Dom's blog:

"This is enormously good news for Orthodox-Roman Catholic relations. To better understand Papa Benedict’s rationale, please check out the following link from May 2005 at Orthodoxy Today”:


The key quote from Cardinal Ratzinger’s essay, “Primat und Episkopat” (Primacy and Episcopacy):

“the task to consider for the future will be to distinguish again and more clearly between the proper function of the successor of Peter and the patriarchal office and, where necessary, to create new patriarchates and to detach them from the Latin church. To embrace unity with the pope would then no longer mean being incorporated into a uniform administration, but only being inserted into a unity of faith and communio, in which the pope is acknowledged to have the power to give binding interpretations of the revelation given in Christ whose authority is accepted whenever it is given in definitive form. [emphasis added]”

Part of Orthodox fears of reunion with Rome has been the experiences of “Latinization” where Uniate churches were forced to conform to Western practices. New Patriarchies will allievate that, since the Patriarch of a church decides the form of the rite. Cardinal Hussar of the Ukraine proposed unification under a Pariarch of the Ukraine. I’ll bet Papa Benedict suggested that proposal."

As a fellow Traditionalist sympathizer, I expect you can empathize with the fears of fellow Christians who dread the imposition of alien rubrics and rituals that strip away their beloved traditions. Imagine an actual Latin Patriarch who shepherds the Tridentine believers, in union with Rome, but immune to Novus Ordo pressures. And this approach neutralizes the canonical issue of Catholics not subject to the local bishop.

But then there's this one from the Catholic World News site.
A spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church has denied that Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) advanced ecumenical prospects by dropping the use of the papal title, "Patriarch of the West."

"It remains a mystery how the omission of the 'Patriarch of the West' title can improve relations between the Holy See and the Orthodox Church," Bishop Hilarion of Vienna told the Interfax news service. "On the contrary, this omission could be viewed as further claims to the Church's worldwide jurisdiction."

And in the latest number of Touchstone, there is this paragraph excerpted from a review of Walter Cardinal Kasper's latest book:

"Patriarch of the West" is one of the many titles the pope has, but the vast majority of Catholics have never heard of it -- it does not, for example, appear in the 1992 universal Catechism of the Catholic Church -- and those who have, generally regard it as meaningless. Kasper argues that it needs to be resurrected "to distinguish the essential and therefore indispensable duties of Petrine ministry from those duties which pertain to the Pope as the first bishop (patriarch or primate of the Latin Church."

Hmm. What's the opposite of "resurrected"? Is this, then, a sign that authority is to be consolidated again in Rome? Less collegiality? Less ecumenism? Doesn't seem likely to me either. But what does it mean?