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Monday, July 15, 2024
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3 take-aways from the new study document on the “Bishop of Rome”

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A new document published by the Vatican is the result of dialogue with non-Catholic churches on the role of the pope.

The document responds to an invitation from Pope John Paul II to all Christian confessions in the encyclical Ut Unum Sint. In it, he outlined the need to find a way for the role of the pope to be recognised by all. Distinguishing the functions of the pope meanwhile emphasising his role as Bishop of Rome

Among the proposals made in the document is a call for a clearer distinction of the pope’s responsibilities. On one hand, he is Patriarch of the Western Churches. On the other, he holds primacy on a universal level because he is in charge of maintaining unity.

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He is also the head of a government “the Vatican City State” meanwhile serving as the Bishop of Rome.

The text recommends that the pope’s role as Bishop of Rome be emphasised more as it may make it clear to other bishops that he is one among them.

One of the conclusions of the First Vatican Council that caused controversy in ecumenical dialogue was the declaration of papal infallibility.

This new document calls for an “updated commentary” of some of the decisions made in this council to adapt it to the current culture and ecumenical context.

The meaning of synodality was also discussed as it has been a central topic in the Catholic church for decades. In the document, the Vatican recognises the challenge of involving all levels of the church in this discussion and also touches on the role of bishops’ conferences.

The nature of this new document is not legislative nor does it impose new models of conduct for relations with other churches. But it is one more step in the theological dialogue where different points of view emerge. The document closes by outlining the need for continuing this dialogue and pointing out various ecumenical initiatives.

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