More from Jeff Moore
I cannot say that I usually find this sort of essay particularly enlightening. The authors typically assume as given points that I consider open. For example, one crucial question in any such discussion is "What is the precise relationship between the authority given to St. Peter by our Lord during his earthly ministry and the present claims of the bishops of Rome to govern the universal Church?" That is a very worthy topic for consideration, and should provide the keystone of any effective argument that an Anglican ought to "swim the Tiber." Mr. Moore, however, simply assumes that wherever the present successor to the apostle Peter is, there is the plenitudo potestatis to lead Christ's Church on earth. The assumption he makes demands his conclusion, but the assumption is unproven. Hence, I do not find the essay persuasive.
For me the intervening 1975 years of historical development are relevant to the issue. The claims made by the bishops of Rome in antiquity were clearly less sweeping that those of their medieval successors and Vatican I (primacy of jurisdiction, infallibity of the Petrine office, etc.). Leo I and Gregory I would surely have been dumbfounded by the "imperial papacy" of the high middle ages. (I am not, incidentally, referring to the wicked personal lives of some long-dead popes. My concerns with the claims of the papacy are theological, not moral. A great many of the popes have been devout, holy men, certainly including the present incumbent.) Must one swallow all of these later developments "hook, line and sinker" in order to be faithful to God's will for the Church? That is the issue for me.
It appears to me that one must be willing to accept Cardinal Newman's arguments about "the development of doctrine" for Mr. Moore's apologia to persuade. Before I could submit to the full authority presently claimed by the bishops of Rome, I need to be convinced that the view of the Eastern Orthodox Churches on the primacy of Rome (e.g., a primacy of honor within a conciliar Church, which I take to be closer to the ancient Church's understanding) is not correct. I would need to be convinced that this later evolution of the Petrine office has been guided by the Holy Spirit and is God's will for the Church. I am not so persuaded at present, and I am afraid that Mr. Moore's essays have not moved me any closer to being convinced.
The image above is of Gregory I of Rome, one pontiff (among many) for whom I have the highest esteem.