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The Role of the Petrine Ministry in the Ecumenical Relationship between the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and the Catholic Church

Pater Biju Mathew

This work deals with the role of the Petrine ministry in the ecumenical relationship between the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and the Catholic Church. The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church traces her origin to the Church of St Thomas Christians, founded by St Thomas, the Apostle who reached the south Indian state of Kerala in 52 AD. The book explores the Ecclesiologies of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, the St Thomas Christians of India and the Catholic Church from a dogmatic-juridical-historical perspective. The author tries to mediate between the two Churches in order to support them in the reviewing process of their history and Ecclesiology and re-establishing the unity for which Jesus Christ prayed: «Holy father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one» (Jn 17, 11). The author in his role as mediator makes a few suggestions for solving the problems related to the concept of the Petrine ministry on a universal level in the light of the Communion Ecclesiology of Vatican II, the studies of the various unofficial ecumenical dialogue commissions and the analysis of the experience of the Syro Malabar Church, one of the 22 sui iuris Churches in the Catholic Church.
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General Introduction

0.1  The Scope


The splits, conflicts, disunity, enmity and competition among the Churches have tarnished the image of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ in the course of many centuries. The Church of Christ flourished in the early centuries all over the world in local Churches which were established by the apostles and their disciples and lived in communion with each other. The necessity of defining the apostolic faith in the midst of diverse theological expressions, heresies and misleading theological tendencies created a chaos in the ecclesial arena in the Roman Empire. On the one hand heresies were defeated and schisms occurred; on the other hand diverse theological expressions and terminologies of the various theological schools did not get due recognition and acceptance and were suspected and condemned by the Ecumenical Councils. The excessive ecclesial politics and the undue authority of the Roman Emperor to interfere in ecclesial affairs, even in the definition of faith and the organization of ecclesial life, worsened the situation. A uniformity-oriented unity of the Church was his chief concern and primary priority in ecclesial politics. The Councils of Ephesus (431) and Chalcedon (451) caused major splits in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church only due to misunderstanding, arrogance and uniformity-mania. The next division occurred in 1054 and the Byzantine Orthodox Churches and the Roman Catholic Church started a new phase of independent growth.

The Eastern Orthodox Churches developed an Ecclesiology of the autocephalous Churches on the basis of...

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