Does Peter and his successors, the Bishops of Rome, have immediate and universal jurisdiction over the entire Church? The Roman Code of Canon Law says the Holy Father possesses "supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power." (CIC 331).
Almost all Anglo-Catholics grant that the Holy Father is the Successor of St Peter and holds a special place of honor and primacy for global Christendom. As I understand them, the Eastern Orthodox still grant that Rome should and will hold the place of primacy if/when a reunification occurred in the future. Thus, it is safe to say that most Catholic-minded Christians outside the jurisdiction of Rome grant that the Petrine See holds the primacy of honor.
What Anglo-Catholics and Eastern Orthodox typically complain about is the doctrine teaching that the Petrine See possesses ""supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power." (CIC 331). I've even heard one Anglo-Catholic say that this canonical arrangement essentially strips all bishops of episcopal power and merely makes them auxiliary bishops within a single Romano-Global Archdiocese.
I'd like to examine the issue of Papal Supremecy with arguments for and against it.
Three arguments in favor of the Holy Father's "supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power":
1. This universal jurisdiction was divinely instuted by God. Christ gave the "Keys of the Kingdom" only to Simon when he also changed Simon's name to Peter. The keys are a sign of jurisdiction. And the jurisdiction is clearly assigned - "Whatever you bind on earth." Thus, "the earth" is within the immediate jurisdiction of Peter. He shares this jurisdiction with the Apostles, but still he can bind and loose anywhare "on earth." This sounds rather "universal" to me. Christ didn't say, "Whatever you bind in Rome/Italy/Europe/the West [fill in the blank]. He said "on earth."Three arguments against the Holy Father's "supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power":
2. The Epistle of St Clement reveals that the Roman See and its author (universal tradition says it is St Clement) believed that it could indeed impose instructions to the far away Greek port-city of Corinth. This reveals a very early Patristic witness to Universal Jurisdiction. Nowadays, the bishop of Kansas City doesn't presume to write all the Christians of New Jersey and tell them what to do and how to do it. Only the Pope does that kind of thing.
3. As Cardinal Ratzinger (pre B16 days) said, the universal Church existed before the existence of local churches. The universal Church exists temporally and logically prior to the existence of local churches. If this is the case, there must be universal jurisdiction that gives rise to local jurisdictions. Another way of saying this is that the Church of Jesus Christ existed and was governed by Peter and the Apostles before any such thing as a local diocese or see existed. Local jurisdictions thus derive from the universal jurisdiction. When local jurisdictions reject universal jurisdiction, they are biting that hand that feeds them and protects them.
1. The Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 shows that Peter did not hold universal jurisdiction and that his authority was necessarily exercised in a conciliar structure. St Peter even received a heavenly apparition teaching that all the Gentiles were clean and able to receive the Kingdom of God. Still, it required the Apostolic assembly to confirm this truth and it consequences for the Gentiles.I'd like to see some zealous non-Catholics try to debunk the first three pro-supremecy arguments and some good Catholics debunk the latter anti-supremecy arguments.
2. We have not one example of St Peter using his "supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power." It is neither contained in Scripture or in tradition. Surely, St Paul could have made a claim that St Peter regularized his Apostolic office in the face of much contention to the contrary. In debate, St Paul could have appealed to the Petrine position. But he never does. In fact, some of Paul's words indicate that he had to keep Peter in check (Gal 2).
3. The idea that the Petrine Office possesses "supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power" obviously comes from its historic alignment with Imperial Rome. Ecclesiastical Rome's prestige and power arose for no other reason than the fact that it inherited Imperial Rome's "supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power" over the entire Roman Empire. Roman Papal Supremecy is therefore not a divine mandate of Christ, but an accident of history.
John Paul II of blessed memory encouraged us to do this type of thing in Ut Unum Sint. Let's see how it goes.