Pope Benedict XVI has renounced one of the traditional titles of the Roman Pontiff by dropping the title "Patriarch of the West."
Catholic World News reports that the new 2006 edition of the Annuario Pontificio, the official Vatican yearbook, carries 8 other traditional titles for the Pope, but does not include the "Patriarch of the West" designation that appeared in previous editions. The first ceremonial copy of the Annuario was presented to Pope Benedict on 18 February 2006; the volume will not go on sale to the public until mid-March.
The Pope is now identified in the Annuario as: "Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman province, Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God."
Pope Benedict, who reportedly made the decision himself to drop the title, evidently wished to eliminate any notion that the Holy See represents the Church of "the West," and is therefore separate from the Eastern tradition.
The designation "Patriarch of the West," which traditionally appeared in that list of titles just before "Primate of Italy," has rarely been employed since the Great Schism of 1054, which separated the Orthodox churches from the Holy See.
It was introduced into papal nomenclature in 1870, at the time of the First Vatican Council. Pope Benedict chose to remove the title at a time when discussions with the Orthodox churches have centred on the issue of papal primacy.
The Holy Father wishes to emphasise the service that the Bishop of Rome performs for the entire Christian community, as the focus of unity in the universal Church.
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