After examining the website of the Diocese of Newton for Melkites in the USA, it has been brought to our attention here at HolySynergy that the Eparchy rejects the validity of the dogmatic ecumenical councils conveyed by the Church.
This would mean that the council of Trent, the council of Florence, the five Lateran councils, and Vatican 1 etc. (prior to Vatican 2) are all fallible councils in which have no authority upon the church, something similar held within the many orthodox churches who are also in the East, that being both the Oriental and Eastern churches.
Because of the extreme ecumenism that has not only taken over the Latin Church, but the Eastern Catholic Churches as well, it is explainable why this claim would be made. Since the Melkites like to use the phrase that they are “Orthodox in communion with Rome”, it is evident that this was done to please our unfortunate schismatic brethren that are not comfortable with the councils and its dogmatic definitions, in this case papal supremacy and infallibility.
With that being said, some Eastern Catholics unfortunately even conclude that Vatican 1 was a local council only for the Latin Church since the Bishop of Rome supposedly does not have authority over the entire church, something the church condemned. (Vatican 1, chapter 3.) There is no doubt that this is a schismatic and erroneous attitude. Not only is this attitude present upon the Melkite eparchy’s website, it’s also present among modern Melkite prelates in whom make similar claims. For instance:
“In any case, valid or not, Vatican I has the same designation as the Council of Lyons, a “general” synod of the West. With this designation it is neither ecumenical nor infallible and could produce only theological opinions that can not be imposed on anyone. Besides, these theological opinions are peculiar to the circumstances of a certain historical period. And the Catholic Church itself today, with all of its bishops and theologians, would have hesitated to adopt them and especially to erect them as dogmas. ” (Ecumenical Reflections, Elias Zoghby, Greek Melkite Catholic Archbishop, published by Eastern Christian Publications, 1998)
The Church has made it clear that the Ecumenical Councils of the Church must be accepted by all in order to be a faithful Christian, that being a member of the True Church. “we promulgate anew the definition of the ecumenical Council of Florence , which must be believed by all faithful Christians” (Vatican 1, Chapter 3.)
Frankly, these claims are against Church teaching since Peter was given the gift of infallibility in regards to proclaiming dogmatic definitions; something Vatican 1 has done when it proclaimed the dogma of papal infallibility.
According to Byzantine Seminary Press:
“St. Peter is referred to as the Prince of the Apostles and the Vicar of Christ on earth, the visible Head of the Church. His original name was Simon, but in view of his future role in the Church, our Divine Savior changed his name to Peter, which means rock.
The significance of this name change became evident only later when Jesus Christ, praising Peter’s faith, said: “You are Peter (the rock), and on this rock I will build my Church; and the gates (powers) of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt.16:18).
On this same occasion, our Divine Savior promised Peter supreme authority in His Church, saying:
” I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you will bind on earth it shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you will loose on earth it shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt. 16:19).
This supreme authority given to Peter was extended also to matters of faith: “I prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may never fail (infallibility), and once you have recovered (after his denial) you, in turn, must strengthen your brothers” (Lk. 22:32).
After His glorious resurrection, Jesus formally conferred this supreme authority in the Church upon Peter, saying: “Feed my sheep! Feed my lambs!” (In. 21 :15-17).
Up to that time Jesus was The Shepherd of His flock, the Church, but from that time on, Peter and his successors are to tend Christ’s flock to assure that “there be only one Fold (Church) and Shepherd” (In. 10:14-16).
Thus, Peter became the indisputed head of the primitive Church.” (The Feast of Saint’s Peter and Paul According to the Byzantine Rite).
Since Peter is the earthly head of the church, and since he has made it known through his successor Pope Pius IX that Vatican 1 is to be accepted by all, there is no room for questioning his authority. To question the authority of Peter is to put oneself outside the church.
“Wherefore we teach and declare that, by divine ordinance, the Roman Church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other Church, and that this jurisdictional power of the Roman Pontiff is both episcopal and immediate.
Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world.” (Vatican 1, chapter 3.)
Let us close with a quote from His Beatitude Maximos IV, patriarch of Antioch and all the all the east, of Alexandria, and Jerusalem:
“The primacy of Peter, the infallible primacy, is a great grace, a charism granted by God to His Church, not for the advantage of a few, nor of Catholics alone, but of all Christians, including Orthodox and Protestants.” (Ain-Traz, September 30, 1962.)