By Mary Tanner
ow can the Petrine ministry bea service to the unity of the uni- versal Church? The question thatforms the title of this bookis crucialfor Christian churches,as the con-tributors to this volume of 21 essaysacknowledge. One writer calls it“the most important ecumenical problem.”The editor, James Puglisi,describes how the book emergedout of a decade-long study initiativeof the International BridgettineCen-terin Farfa Sabina, outside Rome.The essays were presented at con-sultations in 2003 and 2004. Thesemeetings led to a long-term dialoguegroup of Lutherans and RomanCatholics which will shortly publishits conclusions.Most of the essays are from Luther-ans and Roman Catholics, but thereare also important contributions fromMethodist, Orthodox and Reformedtheologians. Although the commenton the back cover leads us to expect Anglicans among the contributors, Iwas not able to identify any essayfrom an Anglican perspective. This isa pity as the Anglican-Roman CatholicInternational Commission has pro-duced valuable insights and chal-lenges to both communions on thesubject which would have supportedsome of the insights in these essays.There are no women among thecontributors, and it would have beenuseful to have known somethingabout each contributor.Nevertheless,these essays mark an important stagein reflection on the Petrine ministryfor all who are committed to the unityof the Church in communion with theministry of the bishop of Rome. I feltinformed and stimulated after readingeach of the essays.In a useful introduction Peder Nør-gaard-Højensets out the problem thata ministry, “by its very nature a min-istry of unity,”has been a reason for“severe divisions and insurmountabletensions,”both between churches andconfessions and within the RomanCatholic Church itself. The good newsis that the Farfa conferences didreveal a decisive readiness of those onboth sides to re-examine respectivetraditions in the light of biblical andhistorical research with the aim of reaching a common understanding of the Petrine ministry. A major factor in thebackground to the Farfainitiative was the remark-able appeal in 1995 madeby John Paul II to leadersand theologians of severalchurches to engage withhim “in a patient and fra-ternal dialogue on theforms in which this min-istry may accomplish a service of love recognized by all concerned.”Nørgaard-Højenpoints out that atthe same time the pope did not devi-ate from the basic principle that“the communion of the particularchurches with the Church of Rome,and of their bishops with the bishopof Rome, is— in God’s plan— anessential requisite of full and visiblecommunion.”Almost all of theessays acknowledge the enormoussignificance of the remarkable appealmade by John Paul II. Anessay byPeter Lüningpresents a valuable sum-mary of the responses made to thisinitiative, highlightingthe main issuesraised in those responses.The essays cover issues relating toScripture and patristics, post-Refor-mation developments, systematics,and ecumenical conversations. OnScripture and the early history JohnMeier reflects onhow the RomanCatholic Church can give a histori-cally responsible account of the ori-gins of the papacy,as it is importantfor Christians to know how thePetrine ministry developed in theNew Testament and early centuries if they are to understand the claimsmade for the office today. Meier andRoland Minnerath emphasize several points, including: the authority of thechurch of Rome, the church of Peterand Paul, was the reference for apos-tolic teaching rather than the personof the Bishop of Rome; Tertullian wasthe initiator of Petrine theology but henever thought that Peter would exer-cise jurisdiction; Stephen was the firstBishop of Rome (in 254-57)to claimto exercise the Petrine office;by thethird century the apostolic church of Rome was recognized as reference inmatters of doctrine and Church order.
Receiving a Ministryof Universal Primacy
How Can the PetrineMinistry Be a Serviceto the Unity of theUniversal Church?
James F. Puglisi
.Eerdmans. Pp. 384. $40.(Continued on next page)
January 15, 2012 • THE LIVING CHURCH