Pope St. Leo Could Have Ratified Canon 28

Anglican scholar, Charles Gore, a man of Oxford, wrote extensively in his work on how Chalceon’s 28th canon shows, without a doubt, that the Eastern & Byzantine bishops did not accord to the Roman See an Apostolic primacy which comes from divine law instituted by Christ in the person of Saint Peter. Catholic scholar Monsignor Pierre Battifol, another historian of merit, argues that the detailed contents of the 28th canon have no threat to the Petrine primacy of the Roman See by divine law. He writes:
“So Pope St. Leo did not find in the 28th canon, nor did Julian of Kos, that which Bishop Gore finds there. The Pope did not reject the formula: ‘The Fathers with good reason rendered this city [Rome] sovereign’. We may presume for this reason. This primacy was in no way aimed at the Apostolic privilege; this primacy was part of the conception current in the Roman World of the Order of the Cities (Ordo Urbium) and shared in the importance which was attached to it. ‘We ought’, thus wrote Galla Placidia to Pulcheria on the morrow of the Robber Council of Ephesus, ‘to attribute the primacy in all things to the Eternal city, which has filled the whole world with the domination of its strength (virtus), and has given our Empire the Universe to govern and to hold’. Such was the language of the times. But Galla Placidia was not on this account unaware of the ‘privilege of the Apostolic See, in which Blessed Peter, the first of the Apostles, received the headship of the priesthood (sacerdotii principatum) held the keys of the heavenly kingdoms’. The 28th canon of Chalcedon had only in view the Ordo Urbium (Order of Cities); Pope St. Leo did not see in that which the canon said of the primatus of Old Rome a denial of the principatus of the Apostolic See. We need not be on this point more touchy than the Pope. St. Leo defended against the Bishop of Constantinople the order of the Universal Church (“Universalis Ecclesiae status’) – he believed that he found it in the 6th canon of Nicaea, which reserving to the See of Rome the first place, gave the second to Alexandria, and the third to Antioch. Anatolius claimed for the See of Constantinople a certain parity with the See of Rome, but it was a parity in the second place – this is a demand which goes back to the time of Theodosius. The opinion which St. Leo opposed to it was newer still — and we need have no difficulty in admitting that it involved an arbitrary interpretation of the 6th canon of Nicaea, which was not concerned with fixing or recognizing an Ordo Urbium. The Emperor Justinian in his Constitution CXXXI will confirm this claim of the See of Constantinople, and the day will come when Rome will accept it without hesitation. St. Leo might have accepted it at once with no more hesitation than was shown by Eugenius IV. Had he confirmed the 28th canon of Chalcedon, this would, no doubt, have been to encourage the ambition of the Bishop of Constantinople – and there was a real danger, but it would have sacrificed in no way the Apostolic privilege that belonged to the See of Rome” (Catholicism and Papacy, page 121-122)

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