13 September 2010
The 1942 Bampton Lectures of my distinguished predecessor at S Thomas's, Dr Trevor jalland, are a tour de force demonstrating his sure-footed competence in discussing the relationship of Papacy to Church in every succeeding Christian era, from a decidedly favourable verdict ought to be given regarding not only the Petrine texts, but also the tradition of the Apostle's residence and death in Rome down to That the Roman episcopi, whether in plurality or as successive holders of a single office, were held to be and were in fact the heirs of the authority of St Peter and of his co-Apostle St Paul in the Roman See seems to be suggested, if not guaranteed, even by such limited evidence as we still possess, though it is equally clear that reflexion on the real implications of the original data was needed before their full significance was generally appreciated. The value of the papal office as the primary centre of unity, as the highest court of appeal, as a custodian of order and a corrector of aberrations from the original depositum fidei - all this and much more emerges ... only when the Church becomes aware of itself in a fuller sense as a world-wide organisatiom, and when a local and 'parochial' consciousness gives place to an oecumenical outlook. This papal ideal, in spite of the occasional distortion and falsification which it has undergone in the course of its long history, is to be viewed in its perfection not as an instrument for the suppression of liberty, but as a means under providence for the safeguarding of the ordered freedom of the 'sons of God' ... it is a strange form of historical blindness which is unable to perceive in its long and remarkable history a supernatural grandeur which no merely secular institution has ever attained in equal measure. Its strange, almost mystical, faithfulness to type, its marked degree of changelessness, its steadfast clinging to tradition and precedent, above all its burning zeal for order and Justitia, compel us to acknowledge that the Papacy must always defy a categorisation which is purely of this world.