Adalberto Mainardi, monk, Monastery of Cellole (San Gimignano, Italy)
Primacy in the Church at the universal level is the key issue in the current Orthodox-Catholic dialogue. The most promising theological approach seems to be one that combines historical research with systematic investigation. Such is, for example, the approach of the latest documents of the official dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church as a whole, and in some regional dialogues (the North American Orthodox Catholic Consultation) and unofficial theological dialogues (the St Irenaeus Theological Working Group). This article follows the same methodology. In the first part, the main stages in the formation of the primacy of the bishop of Rome in the first and the second millennium are examined (Councils of Calcedonia, Florence, and I Vatican Council). In the first millennium the very idea of primacy at universal level is constructed differently in the East and in the West. In the second part, the article develops a theological analysis of the understanding of primacy within the fundamental synodality of the church. In this respect, the developments in the Catholic theology from the Second Vatican Council to Pope Francis are examined. The conclusion outlines some characteristics that a diakonia of unity at the universal level should take: in particular, a procedural approach is favoured that takes into account the tradition of the first millennium, but at the same time faces a completely new situation.
Keywords: theology, ecclesiology, Orthodox-Catholic dialogue, primacy, synodality, papacy, First Vatican Council, Second Vatican Council, St Irenaeus Theological Working Group