[A very interesting take from Archbishop Keshishian of the Armenian Apostolic Church on the ecumenical obstacles of papal primacy. Enjoy!]
By establishing a church in Rome, Peter naturally exercised his personal prerogatives, and the spirit of Petrine privilege remained attached to the local church of Rome. But this never implies a divinely instituted universal jurisdiction for the Bishop of Rome. In the position of the Roman Catholic church I see three problematic elements:
- First, the very concept of individual succession carries with it, ecclesiologically speaking, a fundamental contradiction: how can the Bishop of Rome embody, either potentially or actually, two episcopal authorities, namely local and universal? One is led to think that the office of Rome is absorbed in the universal trans-apostolic office. If it is so, then the claim of Vatican I for universal jurisdictional power lacks any ecclesiological foundation.
- Secondly, the bishops, individually or collectively, are not successors of individual apostles but the apostolic college as a whole, and they receive their ministerial power directly from Christ. Therefore, the chair of an apostle or apostolic succession, that is the sedes (the chair), and the sedens (its occupant), must be differentiated. This is very important. For example, the Coptic Patriarchate of Alexandria is the chair of St. Mark; but the Patriarch of the Coptic Church is not the successor of St. Mark. Again, St. Thaddaeus and St. Bartholomew are the founders of the Armenian Church; but the head of the Armenian Church does not claim to be a successor of these apostles. This is true of all the churches which are founded by the apostles.
- Thirdly, there are Catholic theologians who still firmly maintain that the pope claims universal jurisdiction not only as the successor of Peter, but also the Vicar of Christ. This further complicates the problem.
--Orthodox Perspectives on Mission, p. 70.