4 December 2018

It is bad manners ...

 ... to pontificate upon the internal affairs of other communions; so I will probably not be forgiven for expressing a view that, in the current spat between Constantinople and Moskow, Moskow has distinctly very much the better of it. The assertion that Bartholomew has "fallen into the heresy of Papism" is, from a certain viewpoint, understandable ... indeed, persuasive.

Dom Gregory Dix loved to make snarky remarks about how the insignificant little see near the Bosphorus had "forged" its link with the Protoklete.

S Gregory the Great, I believe, rather disliked pretensions to 'Ecumenical' primacies! And he was not exactly without personal experience in how Byzantine primacies could work.

If people want a Universal Primacy, well, there are Biblical texts which can at least plausibly be used to prop up Roman claims (yesyesyes I know there are differing Patristic interpretations of the Petrine texts ... please don't bother to explain that to me because I won't enable you), but what on earth can Constantinople base its claims upon except for the rather unattractive Caesaropapism of its foundation and of its first millennium?

In a divided Christendom, I feel there is a lot to be said for the Ecclesiology clarified in those two admirable CDF documents Communionis notio and Dominus Iesus. Id est:

Separated bishoprics with 'valid' orders and Sacraments are true, albeit wounded, Particular Churches. 

They can be termed Sister Churches.

The operation of the Papacy, despite the support it can draw from Scripture and Tradition, can have problems, as PF is dramatically demonstrating at the moment. And it might not provide much immediate practical help in sorting out the essentially and murderously geopolitical problems experienced by Byzantine Rite Christians in post-Soviet Eastern Europe.

But, in my ignorant opinion, Catholic doctrine comes a million miles nearer to offering the beginning of solutions to such problems than the 'papism' of Patriarch Bartholomew.

If I were able to put my own questions, I might ask: on what grounds does either of those two patriarchates set up jurisdictions in the Canonical Territory (I hope I've got that phrase right) of the Roman 'Patriarchate', e.g. in Oxford or Paris? As a softie, I would concede the practical need for ad hoc arrangements. But if we turn to principles ... great nasty rigid things ...

And if Orthodoxy is the Catholic Church, why doesn't it restore a Roman 'Patriarchate'? With a genuine 'Orthodox' Patriarch of Rome?? Using, of course, the (uncorrupted) Roman Rite of the First Millennium [memories of Raymond Winch]? Perhaps ... because that would provide Embarrassments-All-Round?

It must be difficult, now that the two Patriarchates are at daggers drawn, for PF to work out which of the two he should cosy most enthusiastically up to. Perhaps he might as well finally give the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church its Patriarchate; with precedence immediately after the [Melkite] Patriarchate of Antioch (cum Alexandria cum Jerusalem) ...

 ... cats ... pigeons ...

 ... y'know, I think I rather agree with the apparent view of Benedict XVI that Patriarchates are a not unmixed blessing ...


13 comments:

vetusta ecclesia said...


Did B XVI not forswear the Patriarch of the West title?

Jonathan Dandridge said...

It's not clear how much longer the Ecumenical Patriarch can hold out in Constantinople given how the Turkish government is not playing nicely and making life so difficult for them.

As far as the Patriarch of Rome is concerned, doesn't the Orthodox Church recognize the Bishop of Rome as the Primus Inter Pares (first among equals) and the legitimate head of that See and therefore appointing an Orthodox patriarch would in essence be saying that the Pope is not legitimate?

Fr William R Young said...

Since Rome under Benedict XVI abandoned the title Patriarch of the West can we speak of there being a Roman "patriarchate"? The Easterners seem to like the idea of the Pope being a patriarch - it equivalently denies the claim of the Roman bishop to primacy. Perhaps we Westerners need to understand again that the three petrine sees - Antioch, Rome and Alexandria - are a strong and early indication and even vindication of Roman claims.

Unknown said...

The Orthodox recognized Rome as primus inter pares when Rome was Orthodox (in their way of thinking); Rome has since fallen into heresy and is not part of the Orthodox Church. Thus Constantinople assumes the place of primus because they held equal prerogatives with Old Rome based on canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon (not accepted at Rome). The Orthodox belief is that this primacy is not of divine origin, but of ecclesiastical expediency; thus it is not necessary to have a "Roman patriarchate." This was all well and good in the 5th century, but now Constantinople the city doesn't exist, and Constantinople the church is mostly comprised of the Phanar itself, while half of the world's Orthodox are under the omophorion of the Moscow Patriarchate. It is something of a mystery why the Ecumenical Patriarch has picked the current moment to try to throw its weight around and poke the Russian bear.

William Tighe said...

A prediction from ca. 1889:

"It is obvious that there are questions on which the Russian Church could and ought to negotiate with the Mother See, and if these questions are carefully avoided it is because it is a foregone conclusion that a clear formulation of them would only end in a formal schism. The jealous hatred of the Greeks for the Russians, to which the latter reply with a hostility mingled with contempt — that is the fact which governs the real relations of these two national Churches, in spite of their being officially in communion with one another. But even this official unity hangs upon a single hair, and all the diplomacy of the clergy of St. Petersburg and Constantinople is needed to prevent the snapping of this slender thread. The will to maintain this counterfeit unity is decidedly not inspired by Christian charity, but by the dread of a fatal disclosure; for on the day on which the Russian and Greek Churches formally break with one another the whole world will see that the Ecumenical Eastern Church is a mere fiction and that there exists in the East nothing but isolated national Churches. That is the real motive which impels our hierarchy to (p. 69) adopt an attitude of caution and moderation towards the Greeks, in other words, to avoid any kind of dealings with them. As for the Church of Constantinople, which in its arrogant provincialism assumes the title of 'the Great Church' and 'the Ňícumenical Church,' it would probably be glad to be rid of these Northern barbarians who are only a hindrance to its Pan-Hellenic aims. In recent times, the patriarchate of Constantinople has been twice on the point of anathematizing the Russian Church; only purely material considerations have prevented a split." (p. 70)

Vladimir Solovyev, *Russia and the Universal Church,* trans. Herbert Rees (London, 1948: Geoffrey Bles), pp. 69-70.

Don Camillo SSC said...

But what about the rights of the Ukranian Church? Are you saying that that Constantinople should simply tell it, "Sorry, chum. You are under Putin's Patriarch, so put up with it."?

Woody said...

If one believes the admittedly pro-regime news and analysis reports from Moscow and its sympathizers, including the Danish Catholic Iben Thranholm, Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate are the best remaining Christian Conservative jurisdictions, resisting the pull of Western liberalism that seems to have enthralled even the Roman Church before PF, or even before Vatican II. So as a practical matter, disregarding the romanticism of Soloviev and others, not to mention the hyper juridicism of Bartholomew’s decisions, so reminiscent, indeed, of papist thinking, Moscow is all that there is. And so also, no wonder that the liberal, secular, Soros led West wants to destroy both Russia and the MP.

jmav said...

Indeed, following from Don Camillo's point: why should Moscow exert primacy over Kyiv--which is the "mother of Rus' cities"--and not the other way around, besides, that is, the falsified pretensions that the Russian church has repeatedly employed throughout history to aggrandize itself and liquidate other churches whose legacy and riches it seeks to expropriate to itself (as our brethren in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church know so well)?

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

This will shock our Anonymous orthodox interlocutor: Light from the Church
of the East on the Roman Primacy http://www.jameslikoudispage.com/Ecumenic/assyrians.htm

As I believe Prof Tighe has noted before, there is quite early evidence of the "Imperial Papacy" ...

Albrecht von Brandenburg

Josh Hood said...

Albrecht von Brandenburg:

I am not sure why my previous post has labeled me as "Unknown"; I certainly attempted to post with my name. In any event, as a Ph.D. candidate in Syriac Literature, I can assure you that Mr. Likoudis's article does not shock me. Mar Bawai Soho's appeal to Abdisho of Soba is a curious one, given that Mar Abdisho lived his entire life never once in communion with the Roman See; whatever his understanding of Petrine primacy, it clearly couldn't be what the Roman Church would like to make of it! In any event, Mar Bawai Soho was suspended by the Assyrian Church in 2005 and as of 2008 now serves in the Chaldean Catholic Church.

I would be interested, though, to see his list of citations in support of primacy. In my own reading, it is certainly true that the Syriac churches have a high view of St. Peter and his personal role, but I have noticed a conspicuous lack of connection between Peter and Rome in these same texts, much less a description of primacy in terms that would cohere with the definitions of Vatican I. Given that papal primacy was not the object of any of these writings, that's not terribly surprising.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

JH

Did Christ intend that Peter should have successors?

Did Peter fix his see at Rome?

If the Church of the East answers those questions affirmatively, it is not reasonably possible to conclude that said successors lack Peter's primacy.

As to"what the Roman church would like to make of it", that's much too vague. How about settling disputes on faith and morals, and acting as ultimate appellate judge in administrative/disciplinary matters?? That seems entirely consonant with Peter's and his successors' behaviour down the ages even if, during the counter-reformation period, they became micro-managers; it is also consonant with the minimalist definition of papal infallibility actually taught by VI.

A.v.B.

P.S. But were these Syriac bishops ever formally schismatic, or only materially??? And if they were formally schismatic, well, Mar Abdisho has made what members of the legal profession call "an admission contrary to interest".

Todd said...

The italic sentence in the Solovyev quote is the heart of the matter. Although that "unity" was something I saw through as I considered swimming the Tiber vs the Bosporus. Trying to figure out which orthodox church in America I would potentially join opened my eyes. I think the failure/split in the recent Pan Orthodox council also tore the mask off the fiction publicly. This "break" is an exclamation mark.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

It's also worth notinh that the compiler of that Mar Abdisho quote used to be Eastern Orthodox, therefore, he is well acquainted with the EO theory of papal primacy. It is significant that he prays this quote in aid, as a contradiction of said EO theory ...