Skip to comments.The Pope Who Condemned Primacy
Posted on 07/04/2005 5:53:36 AM PDT by MarMema
Everybody knows that one of the major divergences between the Orthodox and Roman Catholics is based on the position of the Bishop of Rome in the Universal Church. According to the Romans the Pope is the head of the Universal Church. According to Orthodox doctrine, instead, the Pope of Rome is a bishop equal in dignity to the other bishops. At this point it is interesting to read a qualified opinion: that of St. Gregory the Great, Pope of Rome (+ 604 A.D.), whose feast is celebrated on 12 March.
St. John the Faster, Patriarch of Constantinople (feast: 2 September) was a contemporary of St. Gregory. St. John was very pious and ascetic. He prayed at length during the night, and, in order to avoid being overcome by sleep, he used to pin nails into the wax of a candle: the clatter of the nails on a metal dish put under the candle awoke him if he had fallen asleep. Throughout his life St. John was not one to seek human glory. Nevertheless, in the year 587 Emperor Maurice gave him officially the title of "Ecumenical Patriarch."
Today this title sounds a little lofty, but this was not the case in the sixth century. Ecumenical comes from the Greek word oikoumene, that literally means "the inhabited world." Due in part to lack of geographical knowledge and in part to the typical pride of conquerors, the Romans identified the "inhabited world" with the Roman Empire, and therefore, at that time, "ecumenical" was nothing more than a synonym of "Imperial". Constantinople was the "ecumenical" town. The chief librarian of Constantinople, for example, was called "Ecumenical librarian". But this implied only that he was the librarian of the imperial town, and not that he had authority over all the librarians in the empire. "Ecumenical Patriarch," therefore, in Greek, was understood only as "the Patriarch of the Imperial town": just a synonym of Patriarch of Constantinople. As a matter of fact, this title is attested in sporadic use long before.
All the trouble started when the title was communicated to the Pope of Rome: it was translated into Latin as Patricharcha Universalis, i.e., "Universal Patriarch." Pope Gregory reacted because he thought that John was arrogating the supremacy in the Church. Of course, this was not Patriarch John's aim. Some Roman Catholic writers claim that Gregory was vindicating the supremacy to himself. But it was not so. The letters of St. Gregory the Great are available to anybody who wishes to read them. The readers can judge by themselves. Let us start from this letter that he addressed to Patriarch John:
"Consider, I pray thee, that in this rash presumption the peace of the whole Church is disturbed, and that [the title of Ecumenical Patriarch] is in contradiction to the grace that is poured out on all in common; in which grace doubtless thou thyself wilt have power to grow so far as thou determinist with thyself to do so. And thou wilt become by so much the greater as thou restrainest thyself from the usurpation of a proud and foolish title: and thou wilt make advance in proportion as thou are not bent on arrogation by derogation of thy brethren...
"Certainly Peter, the first of the apostles, himself a member of the holy and universal Church, Paul, Andrew, John - what were they but heads of particular communities? And yet all were members under one Head... "...the prelates of this Apostolic See, which by the providence of God I serve, had the honor offered them of being called universal by the venerable Council of Chalcedon. But yet not one of them has ever wished to be called by such a title, or seized upon this ill-advised name, lest if, in virtue of the rank of the pontificate he took to himself the glory of singularity, he might seem to have denied it to all his brethren..." (Book V, Epistle XVIII)
We do not know St. John the Faster's reply. Probably he did not reply at all because he died about one year after St. Gregory's letter (mail was very slow in that period, and one year was not an unreasonable time for a letter to travel from Rome to Constantinople). But St. Gregory continued to express his opinion on Universal Episcopacy. He wrote to Eulogios, Bishop of Alexandria and to Anastasius, Bishop of Antioch in such terms: "This name of Universality was offered by the Holy Synod of Chalcedon to the pontiff of the apostolic see which by the Providence of God I serve. But no one of my predecessors has ever consented to use this so profane a title since, forsooth, if one Patriarch is called Universal, the name of Patriarch in the case of the rest is derogated. But far be this from the mind of a Christian that any on should wish to seize for himself that whereby he might seem in the least degree to lessen the honor of his brethren..." (Book V: Epistle XLIII)
To Emperor Maurice:
"Now I confidently say that whosoever calls himself, or desires to be called, Universal Priest, is in his elation the precursor of Antichrist, because he proudly puts himself above all others. (Book VII: Epistle XXXIII)
And again to Eulogios, Bishop of Alexandria:
"Your Blessedness... You address me saying, 'As you have commanded.' This word 'command', I beg you to remove from my hearing, since I know who I am, and who you are. For in position you are my brethren, in character, my fathers... "...in the preface of the epistle which you have addressed to myself, who forbade it, you have thought fit to make use of a proud appellation, calling me Universal Pope. But I beg you most sweet Holiness to do this no more, since what is given to another beyond what reason demands, is subtracted from yourself... For if your Holiness calls me Universal Pope, you deny that you are yourself what you call me universally." (Book VIII: Epistle XXX)
This story teaches us another lesson. Many times, when we are confronted by the spectacle of events that do not fit the glorious image of the Holy Orthodox Church, we are ready to ask why God allows that such an evil thing happen in His Church. Undoubtedly many people at the time of these events grieved because of the misunderstanding that embittered the relationships between two pious bishops, between two great saints of the Church. And surely, at that time, somebody asked why God allows that such an evil thing happen in His Church. The answer is clear today. The Holy Spirit allowed this misunderstanding so that the opposition of a very eminent Pope to papal authority be well documented. Without these letters we would not have the striking evidence that even in Rome the right to claim a primacy was not recognized.
All quotations are from A Selected Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church (1894), P. Schaff and H. Wace eds. Vol. 12. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. The emphases are the author's.
This is mistaken. St. Gregory opposed the title of "Universal" because he understood it to mean that no one else was a bishop, i.e., that John the Faster, as "Universal Patriarch", was the only bishop in the whole world!
Some Roman Catholic writers claim that Gregory was vindicating the supremacy to himself. But it was not so. The letters of St. Gregory the Great are available to anybody who wishes to read them. The readers can judge by themselves.
Was it really not so?
For to all who know the Gospel it is apparent that by the Lords voice the care of the whole Church was committed to the holy Apostle and Prince of all the Apostles, Peter. For to him it is said, Peter, lovest thou Me? Feed My sheep (John xxi. 17). To him it is said, Behold Satan hath desired to sift you as wheat; and I have prayed for thee, Peter, that thy faith fail not. And thou, when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren (Luke xxii. 31). To him it is said, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatsoever thou shalt bind an earth shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven (Matth. xvi. 18).
Lo, he received the keys of the heavenly kingdom, and power to bind and loose is given him, the care and principality of the whole Church is committed to him, and yet he is not called the universal apostle; while the most holy man, my fellow-priest John, attempts to be called universal bishop. I am compelled to cry out and say, O tempora, O mores! ...
Certainly, in honour of Peter, Prince of the apostles, it was offered by the venerable synod of Chalcedon to the Roman pontiff. But none of them has ever consented to use this name of singularity, lest, by something being given peculiarly to one, priests in general should be deprived of the honour due to them. How is it then that we do not seek the glory of this title even when offered, and another presumes to seize it for himself though not offered? (Register V, Epistle XX)
And he elsewhere claims the supremacy:
For as to what they say about the Church of Constantinople, who can doubt that it is subject to the Apostolic See, as both the most pious lord the emperor and our brother the bishop of that city continually acknowledge? Yet, if this or any other Church has anything that is good, I am prepared in what is good to imitate even my inferiors, while prohibiting them from things unlawful. For he is foolish who thinks himself first in such a way as to scorn to learn whatever good things he may see. (Register IX, Epistle XII)
even in Rome the right to claim a primacy was not recognized
Historically, this is untenable. Primacy of Rome based on divine right was claimed by the Popes since the fourth century, and accepted also outside of Rome, by such great Western Fathers as St. Augustine himself. See Dom John Chapman's excellent articles here, which have been excerpted from Studies on the Early Papacy:
When we click on the link to your website, we are brought to a page that features a picture entitled "a Papal Nuncio enjoys a laugh with Joseph Goebbels."
Thanks for sharing your anti-Roman Catholicism with us.
This anti-Catholicism puts all of your recent postings in true perspective, and I'm grateful that you're so open about it.
You know, I remember seeing a photo, from 1965 I think, in which Pope Paul VI got up from the papal throne in Saint Peter's Basilica and hurried down to meet the delegation sent from the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras (perhaps at the time that the mutual excommunications of 1054 were rescinded, an act I'm sure you would consider to be invalid).
To the horror of some of his aides, Pope Paul knelt down and kissed their feet as a prelude to offering them the kiss of peace.
I guess that, for people like yourself, the Pope should have kissed something else.
That the author blithely accepted this explanation and you did not notice it's improbability makes one wonder what else in the article might be inaccurate or unsupportable interpretation of texts. Some of the responses begin to point out examples. Together, all of this screams: PROPAGANDA!
It also helps to know a little of the personal history of the author, Fr. Cognetti.
Fr. Robert Taft, S.J. of Rome's "Russicum" puts it very well, if a little bluntly:
"There are over 300,000 Catholics in European Russia, 65,000 of them in Moscow alone. To say that a church doesnt have a right to erect a diocese there is absurd, especially when the Orthodox plant metropolitans wherever they want. Lets take the example of Austria. Vienna has been a Catholic see since the first millennium, yet the Russian Orthodox have a metropolitan, not just in Vienna but of Vienna thats his title. Yet there probably arent 5,000 Russian Orthodox in the whole of Austria. Fair is fair. Is Moscow their canonical territory? Yes, but guess whose canonical territory Vienna is. They come up with the argument, we believe in the principle of one bishop, one city. Want to guess how many Orthodox bishops there are in New York? I mean, for Gods sake. The problem is, nobody talks to them like that because nobody knows what I know. Catholics hear this stuff and say, Oh, gee, arent we awful. Give me a break."
"What (Cardinal) Kasper can hope for is a renewal of the dialogue. What he needs to do is to reassure Moscow once again is that the Catholic church regards the Russian Orthodox church as a sister church, that we are there to take care of Catholics, not to fish in their pond. Weve said this a million times. (Metropolitan) Kirill has been making some good noises lately. Hes said the dialogue has never been interrupted, which is true, and that while the official position of both churches is that we shouldnt be fishing in one anothers waters, but there are clergy on both sides who dont respect those norms. There are Orthodox clergy who proselytize among Catholics, we know that for a fact. The Russian Orthodox opened up a parish in Palermo! All the Russians in Palermo you could fit into a telephone booth. Whos the priest? Hes a converted Catholic. When it was opened up, in the journal of the Moscow patriarchate, it stated quite clearly that this is a step toward recovering the Byzantine heritage of Sicily. Furthermore, theres a Greek monastery in Calabria thats also proselytizing among the Catholics. There are loose cannons all over the place."
Very well put.
Other folks may try to quibble with the meaning of those words but it is clear that Saint Gregory the Great rejected the concept of any single bishop being above all others.
And you're comfortable with a converted Roman priest representing the Moscow Patriarchate in Sicily?
Must have been one of the contacts "Blackbird" made during his studies in Rome, before he became His All-Holiness!
How would you distinguish this, then?
For, after letters had been addressed to your Blessedness by my predecessor and myself in the cause of the archdeacon Honoratus, then, the sentence of both of us being set at nought, the said Honoratus was deprived of the rank belonging to him. Which thing if any one of the four patriarchs had done, such great contumacy could by no means have been allowed to pass without the most grievous offence. Nevertheless, now that your Fraternity has returned to your proper position, I do not bear in mind the wrong done either to myself or to my predecessor. (Register II, Epistle LII)
"Patriarcha Universalis" -- they never did learn how to translate Greek correctly, did they? Amazing. And look at the fallout their sloppy Greek has created!
Oh, excuse me, I thought it was Alexy II who was always complaining about people proselytizing.
Did I get that wrong?
Or is it more likely that there's a bit of hypocrisy going on here?
Nothing like tasting your own medicine, isn't it?
Do you mean the Ukrainian Catholics who survived Stalin and whose churches were stolen and handed over to Moscow?
You would call genocide "medicine"?
I site the works of Croatian clergy during WWII, but I won't. Let's just leave it at that.
I site = I could cite
Yeah . . . better leave lots of things alone when it comes to all that stuff, huh? On both sides?
"Pure" Christianity, indeed!
Whats the argument for erecting a patriarchate for the Greek Catholic church in Ukraine?
The argument is that when an Eastern church reaches a certain consistency, unity, size, consolidation and so forth, its a normal step. Furthermore, among the Orthodox its often been a normal step taken illegally. For example, the Bulgarians were under the Patriarchate of Constantinople, who according to Orthodox practice, imposed upon them a Greek hierarchy, until the Bulgarians had enough and declared their independence, erecting their own patriarchate. Constantinople refused to recognize it, until they finally realized that nothings going to change and so they recognized it. Frankly, my advice to the Ukrainians has always been to do the same thing. Just declare the patriarchate and get on with it. Do it, of course, only if youve got the bishops unanimously behind it.
Yes, I think they do now. The danger is that if there are even two people who say no, then Romes going to say that the bishops are divided and we cant recognize it. I told them, take two steps. First, publicly declare the patriarchate. Second, request Roman recognition, but even if it doesnt come, refuse all mail that doesnt come addressed to the patriarchate. Dont just pretend, but really do it. The Secretary of State sends a letter addressed to the archbishop? We dont have any archbishop, weve got a patriarch. Send it back unopened, addressee unknown.
Why erect it in Kiev rather than Lviv, where the Greek Catholics in the Ukraine are traditionally concentrated?
You have to understand, and this is something that anyone who knows any history has to sympathize with, that Kiev, Kievan Rus as they call it, is the heartland of all Orthodoxy among the East Slavs Belorussians, Ukrainians, and the Russians. To ask one of them to renounce Kiev is like asking the Christians to give Jerusalem over to the Jews, to say we really dont have any interest there anymore. Its ridiculous.
Furthermore, there was a time when all of Ukraine west of the Dnepr River was in union with Rome, and the presiding hierarch was in Kiev. Its not like theres never been a Ukrainian Catholic bishop of Kiev, a metropolitan of Kiev. But, you know, you dont resolve this on the basis of history. History is instructive but not normative.
Kiev in Ukraine is like Paris in France. Lviv, even though its a lovely town, is still a backwater. Youre dealing with a church that has spread beyond the old Galician boundaries, in other words the Western Ukrainian boundaries of its existence. In the modern world people spread all over the place. Even though this is still the heartland, there are Ukrainian Greek Catholics not only throughout Eastern Ukraine but also across Russia, Kazakhstan, you name it. These people have a right to be served. Furthermore, one of the ugly secrets that no one talks about is that its quite possible that the Ukrainian Greek Catholic church is the largest group of practicing Christians in the country, East or West. Im talking about those who go to church. You ask the Orthodox in the Ukraine, How big are you? and they say, 310 parishes. But ask them Who goes to church? and they say, We dont know. Eastern and statistics is an oxymoron. One thing that characterizes Ukrainian Catholics is that they go to church, and they practice. Why was the Russian Orthodox church so upset at losing that area back to the Catholic church? Thats where their vocations came from, and thats where their money came from. Collect a statistic sometime of how many priests who were ordained in the Russian Orthodox church from the end of World War II until the day before yesterday came from Western Ukraine. Certainly it would be an overwhelmingly unbalanced proportion with respect to the size of the Orthodox population.
By the way, almost all the Ukrainian Orthodox today are Catholics who had been forced into the Orthodox Church and for one reason or another remained Orthodox.
Aside from Orthodox sensitivities, is there any argument against erecting a patriarchate in Ukraine?
Oh, good heavens, no. That is, unless you want to ask the question of what right Rome has to erect an Eastern patriarchate anyway. Basically, the scuttlebutt is that the pope said to the Ukrainians, if you can convince Kasper, its okay with me. Kasper of course is going to oppose it, and should. Kasper has been given the job of building bridges with the Orthodox, not to dynamite them. I perfectly sympathize. What Kaspers doing is not following his own personal tastes and needs. Hes doing his job.
But theres no intra-Catholic reason to object to the patriarchate?
Are you kidding? Weve got a patriarchate for the Copts whose total membership would fit in this room, for Gods sake. Give me a break. Maybe there shouldnt be, thats another question, but there is.
What it is that bothers the Orthodox so much about the idea of a Ukrainian patriarchate?
What bothers them is the very existence of these churches. They look upon all of these people as their property that has been won away, coaxed away, forced away from them. And theyre right. But what they dont realize is that you just cannot collapse history the way they do. Its like going on a visit to Greece to the beach because you want to get a suntan, and some jerk points his finger at you as if you fought in the Fourth Crusade. Most Westerners dont even know what the hell the Fourth Crusade was, and dont need to know. Youre dealing with people who collapse history as if it happened yesterday. Let me use my classic example of the Anglicans. Does anybody think that Henry VIII took a plebiscite to see if the Catholics in England wanted to separate from Rome? No, they got up one morning and found that they were no longer Catholics. But thats 500 years ago. It certainly doesnt mean that the Catholic church could enter England with an army today and force all those people back into the fold. The same thing is true in Ukraine. These people, the Greek Catholics, have been in the Catholic church since 1596, and want to remain there. The Orthodox propose, and its hard to even take this seriously, that Eastern Catholics should be given the free choice of joining the Orthodox church or joining the Latin church. Thats like telling African-Americans in Georgia that because youre the descendants of somebody who got dragged there, you can have the free choice of living in Albania or Uganda. Maybe they want to stay where they were born, right in the good old USA. To call that a free choice is a mockery of language.
The Orthodox say that Union of 1596 was dissolved in 1946.
Everybody knows what a comedy that was. Even the secret police who organized the thing have spilled the beans in print. As everybody knows, all of the bishops of the Catholic church were arrested, so how can you have a synod without bishops? The two or three bishops who were there had been ordained as Orthodox bishops, therefore they were not Catholic bishops, therefore they could not in any canonical way preside over a Catholic synod. Everybody knows this.
So what is the real issue for the Orthodox?
They look upon the whole area of Kievan Rus, which includes what is now Ukraine as well as Muscovy and the area around Novgarod, those are the three historic centers, as their heartland. This would be like for the papacy having somebody come in and take over Italy.
So theyre afraid of a domino effect?
To attempt to apply rational analysis to this is to fail to understand what the East is. Once you get over on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, the further you go South or East from anywhere, the worse everything gets, except the food. Logic gets worse, rationality gets worse, and everything ultimately winds up in hysteria and emotionalism. Its futile to try and reason about this.
So the Catholic church is never going to persuade the Orthodox to accept the patriarchate?
No, and I dont think we should even try. To hell with Moscow.
Cardinal Kasper is going to Moscow on Feb. 16, and certainly this issue will be on the agenda. Is it a fools errand?
No, because Kasper is a rational man. Youve got two levels: the level of what appears in public declarations and the press, and then the level of face-to-face contacts with people who can be rational, like Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk (the number two official in the Russian Orthodox hierarchy). Hes a rational, intelligent human being, and hes not an enemy of Catholicism. He has to make certain sounds from time to time. You see, you have to realize that much of what the Russian Orthodox hierarchy does is because of their own lunatic fringe. Its a mistake to think the patriarch and the permanent synod have the kind of control over their hierarchy and their church that the pope does in the Catholic church. The patriarch of Moscow is not a pope.
CELESTINE: DEFENDER OF THEOTOKOS
By RAY RYLAND
Non-Catholics consistently deny the facts of history with regard to the papacy. They claim papal power only gradually arose in later centuries, purely the product of fortuitous historical circumstances and not of divine appointment. This is the logic of this claim: If Jesus had given to Peter and his successors the authority which the Catholic Church claims to possess, that authority would have been exercised from the first century onward. But (and now comes the false minor premise) that authority was never exercised in early centuries. Therefore, authority claimed for the papacy is purely a human invention.
Here is an Eastern Orthodox example of the faulty minor premise. Prior to the Council of Chalcedon in 451, "The Roman Church had no decisive influence on the trinitarian and christological debates raging in the East" (John Meyendorff, A Pope For All Christians?, 133). Paraphrasing the sentence passed on Paul by the Roman governor Festus (Acts 25:12), Catholics can say, "You have appealed to history; to history we shall go."
Previous articles in this series have recounted a few of the many instances in which papal action determined the outcome of battles with heresy in the second, third, and fourth centuries. Indeed, not one of the early heresies was finally defeated apart from the intervention of a pope. As we shall see in future articles, at least up into the tenth century the pope was the acknowledged supreme authority in doctrinal and moral matters in the East as well as the West.
The Eastern churches' appeal to ecumenical councils as their supreme authority arose only after they had separated from the Catholic Church. Still, an Eastern theologian declares, "The supreme power in the Church belongs to the bishops [that is, to councils of bishops, not to the pope]. This truth needs no elaboration for the whole Tradition supports it" (Alexander Schmemann, Church, World, Mission, 17). True, there is no need of "elaboration"-because there is no possibility of "elaboration." This statement has no basis in fact. The "whole Tradition" claimed for its support is only the tradition developed by Eastern apologists since the great schism.
We continue our survey of the exercise of universal papal jurisdiction in early centuries by turning now to the third ecumenical council, the Council of Ephesus, 431. The issue which occasioned the Ephesian Council was the question of the relation between the two natures in the one divine Person of Christ. Was the union substantial, or was it accidental? Various Fathers had spoken of the relation of the two natures in terms which were easily misinterpreted. Ignatius referred to Christ as "bearing flesh." According to Tertullian, Christ was "clothed with flesh." Other Fathers had written about the "mixture" of the divine and human in Christ. The term Theotokos (Mother of God) had been used but had never been analyzed and declared an item of faith.
Beginning on Christmas Day, 428, and continuing for several months, the patriarch of Constantinople, Nestorius, preached a series of sermons in his cathedral, denouncing use of the term Theotokos to designate the Virgin's maternity. Because our information about Nestorius is limited, scholars today are somewhat divided over the degree of Nestorius's heresy. He appears to have taught that two natures-one divine, one human-were joined in Jesus Christ, but God did not become man (as we say in the Creed). In the Incarnation, he said, Christ's humanity was only "a garment" which God put on. The Virgin conceived and bore only that garment. She is mother only of the humanity of Christ. She must not be called Theotokos. At most she is Christotokos.
When Nestorius's teachings became known in Egypt, Cyril, patriarch of Alexandria, remonstrated with him by correspondence. Nestorius was adamant, so Cyril wrote to Pope Celestine, telling him about the heresy and the confusion it was causing in Constantinople and beyond. Cyril said he thought he should withdraw from communion with Nestorius, but did not want to take action until he had consulted the Pope. Cyril, himself a leading Eastern Father, asked the Pope to settle the controversy. "Deign, therefore, to decide what seems right, whether we ought to communicate at all with him or to tell him plainly that no one communicates with a person who holds and teaches what he does." Cyril further requested the Pope to communicate his decision by letter "to all the bishop of the East." This would both give the Eastern bishops "the opportunity of standing together in unity of soul and mind and lead them to contend earnestly for the orthodox faith which is being attacked" (emphasis added, here and in later quotations).
Celestine convoked a synod, condemned the errors of Nestorius and communicated his decision to Cyril. He authorized Cyril to act in his behalf: "tWherefore assuming to yourself the authority of our see, and using our stead with power, you will deliver the following sentence with strict severity." The sentence: Unless within ten days of receiving the Pope's admonition Nestorius in writing denounced his erroneous teaching and adhered to the true faith, he would be excommunicated. Cyril would administer the see of Constantinople until a successor could be chosen.
Celestine informed the people and clergy of Constantinople of his ruling, stating again that if Nestorius did not recant he was to be "excommunicated from the entire Catholic Church." Writing to Patriarch John of Antioch, Celestine called his verdict "the sentence passed by Christ our God" which eliminates Nestorius from "the roll of bishops" if he persists in his heresy. In a letter to Cyril, Celestine said his decree was not so much his as it was "the divine judgment of Christ our Lord." Thus speaks the successor of Peter, the key-keeper. Yet in the face of this and similar facts, Meyendorff still affirms, "The Orthodox Church for its part has always confessed the impossibility of a bishop's exercising a power of divine right over another bishop or over the community presided over by another bishop." Impossible? Not all. Jesus Christ planned it that way.
In his key role as patriarch of the court church of the East, Nestorius persuaded the Emperor to call a general council. Eastern apologists try to make of this calling a proof that an ecumenical council, not a pope, has supreme authority in the Church. Orthodox Archbishop Peter L'Huillier argues that the Emperor knew the Pope already had condemned Nestorius, but he also knew the Pope's ruling could be revoked by a general council. There is no evidence that the Emperor held that false belief. No council ever revoked a papal ruling. No council ever decreed that it could do so.
Catholic scholars assert that the Emperor did not know of the papal condemnation when he summoned the Council. Even though he asserts the Emperor did know, L'Huillier himself offers proof to the contrary. He tells us that in summoning the Council, the Emperor thought the issue was simply a dispute between Nestorius and Cyril of Alexandria. We know that when the Emperor learned of the papal condemnation, he raised no objection, even though Nestorius was a favorite of his. Had the Emperor known of the Pope's action, he certainly would not have regarded the whole matter as simply a personal theological dispute between the two Eastern patriarchs.
Against his own evidence, which we have just seen, L'Huillier insists that "to the imperial decision to convoke a general council clearly meant that the Roman sentence was not held to be irrevocable." He goes on to say that the Emperor believed "nothing had already been decided; it was up to the Council to decide everything in complete independence." L'Huillier offers no evidence for his claim. Not a word from the Council even hints that the bishops thought the Pope's sentence was revocable. As we shall see, the Council quickly submitted itself to Celestine's decision and condemned Nestorius as a heretic.
In the conciliar action there was not the slightest indication of an independent spirit on the part of the Eastern bishops. In a single day's session they conducted other business and issued a condemnation of Nestorius. They said, in part, "we being necessarily compelled thereto by the canons and by the letter of our most Holy Father and colleague Celestine, bishop of the Roman Church, have arrived at the following sentence against him [Nestorius]: 'Our Lord Jesus Christ, who has been blasphemed by him, defines by this present most holy synod that the same Nestorius is deprived of episcopal dignity and all sacerdotal intercourse.'"
Why were the Ephesian Council fathers so confident that in their decree Jesus Christ himself was passing the sentence on Nestorius? Simply because they were aligning themselves with the ruling of the Pope, who had already told them his decision (which they echoed) was from Jesus Christ himself.
The Council said it was impelled (constrained, obligated) both by the canons and by the Pope's letter condemning Nestorius. The canons required that the Council condemn Nestorius for his stubbornly persevering in his heresy. The letter of the Pope to Cyril also compelled them to join their voices to that of the vicar of Christ, the successor of Peter.
Neither the Council nor Cyril nor any other patriarch had authority to depose Nestorius. Only the Pope had that universal authority. No one questioned his authority; only the heretics opposed it. (As they still do today.)
Cyril presided at the Council sessions, acting as Celestine's agent. Thus, the bishops of the next ecumenical council (Chalcedon, 451) stated that Celestine and Cyril had presided over the Council of Ephesus. So did the letter of the emperors confirming the Chalcedonian Council's condemnation of Eutyches. So did the letters of many bishops, writing to the Emperor after the Council of Chalcedon.
The legates were under orders from Celestine not to take part in the discussions of the Council. He sent them to be judges of the discussion and insure that his sentence on Nestorius was carried out. They had not yet arrived when the Cyril and the Council repeated the Pope's condemnation of the Nestorian heresy. When they arrived at the Council, one of the legates asked that the minutes of the preceding meetings be read aloud in the assembly. The reason he gave was that "we may follow the formula of the most holy Pope Celestine, who committed this care (that is, the care of this whole matter) to us, and of your holiness and may be able to confirm the decisions." Note that it was both the prerogative and the responsibility of the Pope, here speaking through his legates, to confirm (or reject) the decisions of the Council. Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution on the Church reminds us that there has "never been an ecumenical council that was not confirmed as such or at least received by the successor of Peter" (section 22).
After the public reading of the Council's concurrence in Celestine's sentence, the legate Philip gave the Council a clear, strong statement of the universal jurisdiction of the successors of Peter. "There is no doubt, and in fact, it has been known in all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the apostles, pillar of the faith and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race, and that to him was given the power of loosing and binding sins: who, even to this time and always lives and judges in his successors. Our holy and most blessed Pope Celestine the bishop is according to due order his successor and holds his place, and he sent us to supply his presence in this holy synod." The papal legate expressed in plain language what the Catholic Church teaches about the role of the pope in the life of the Church. He was reminding the bishops of something they already knew. With regard to matters of faith, the successor of Peter is final judge. With regard to disciplinary matters, he is the ruler. Both responsibilities are his by divine appointment.
Not a word of protest was spoken. L'Huillier admits this, but insists that Philip's intervention "certainly did not reflect the thinking of the majority of the fathers of the Council." L'Huillier does not tell us how he knows what was in the minds of the Council fathers. We know that in all the early councils, on all contested points of doctrine, the bishops battled one another furiously, sometimes resorting to physical violence. On such a basic theological issue as this, why would they remain silent if they disagreed with Philip?
L'Huillier does offer an explanation for the bishops' silence. He quotes an Anglican author (E. Symonds, The Church Universal and the See of Rome): "It is not the custom of Eastern bishops, or perhaps of bishops in any part of the world, to protest against the claims of Rome, when Rome is on their side." In other words, the Eastern bishops were a bunch of hypocrites. For selfish reasons they pretended to acquiesce in a statement of doctrine which in fact they rejected. Can L'Huillier or Symonds tell us one other time when these or any other orthodox Eastern bishops so behaved?
The cynical author whom L'Huillier quotes has his facts backward. Cyril, the leader of the Eastern bishops, had appealed to the Pope to eradicate the Nestorian heresy. Celestine had complied with Cyril's request. Without a single protest, the bishops dutifully and exactly carried out the sentence the Pope told them to impose on Nestorius. Rome was not on the side of the Eastern bishops; the Eastern bishops were on the side of Rome.
In a letter to Celestine the Council reported its support of his sentence on Nestorius. After its greeting, the Council said, "The zeal of Your Holiness for piety, and your care for the right faith [heretics came and went in the East, but Rome always held the true faith], so dear and pleasing to God the Savior of us all, are worthy of all admiration. For it is your custom in such great matters to make trial of all things, and to support the churches [all the churches] which you have made your own care. But since it is right that all things which have taken place should be brought to the knowledge of your holiness, we are writing of necessity" to inform the Pope of their acceptance of his decision about Nestorius.Who is on whose side? The Council itself says it is on the Pope's side.
The Council of also dealt with the case of John, bishop of Antioch. A friend of Nestorius, he had abstained from taking part in the Council. Instead, he convoked a synod which condemned, excommunicated, and deposed both Cyril and Memnon, bishop of Ephesus. John of course had no jurisdiction over Alexandria or over Ephesus. The Council summoned John to appear before it, but he refused. Both Cyril and Juvenal, bishop of Jerusalem, declared that Rome alone had jurisdiction over the see of Alexandria. The Council invalidated all that John had done and excommunicated him and his associates if they refused to acknowledge their error. Note, however, that the Council chose not to depose John, though it could have done so because of the broad power delegated by Celestine to his legates and to Cyril. It deferred to the superior authority of the see of Peter, and so informed the Pope.
After the bishops of the Ephesian Council had returned to their homes, Celestine congratulated them on having joined with him in settling the Nestorian problem and related issues. The Pope obviously regarded his decision and the Council's carrying it out as one action. He gave instructions for dealing with the Nestorians and for reconciling John of Antioch if he repented of his actions.
In a letter to the clergy and people of Constantinople, Celestine praised Cyril for his work in helping resolve the Nestorian crisis. He warned the people that Nestorius would make strenuous efforts to reinstate himself. But, he said, Rome will not be outdone in vigilance. "The blessed apostle Peter did not desert them when they were toiling so heavily, for when the separation of such an ulcer [as Nestorius] from the ecclesiastical body seemed advisable by reason of the putrid decay which became sensible to all, we offered soothing fomentation together with the steel. . . . We could not delay longer lest we should seem to run with the thief, and to take our portion with the adulterer against faith."
Reflecting their present situation, the Eastern churches today hold that national churches are by God's design totally independent of one another. (In the early centuries, of course, there were no national churches.) The events surrounding the third ecumenical council, Ephesus, contradict such claims of local autonomy. As successor of Peter and earthly head of the Church, for just cause Pope Celestine deposed the occupants of two patriarchates, Constantinople and Antioch. Then through his emissary, Cyril, the Pope ordered the Council summoned by the Emperor to carry out his sentence. This the Council did unhesitatingly.
What is our divine Lord's plan for his Church? The Eastern Orthodox pattern? More than a dozen autonomous flocks each with its own shepherds-and no one shepherd to unify the flocks? Not at all. "There shall be on flock, one shepherd" (John 10:16). Today the one shepherd yearns and prays and works for the return of his flocks who have left the fold
Does anyone ever mention that Roman Primacy and authority was a matter of Imperial Law, regardless of the chattering of clerics? Just wondering.
THE CODE OF OUR LORD THE MOST SACRED EMPEROR JUSTINIAN.
SECOND EDITION. BOOK I.
CONCERNING THE MOST EXALTED TRINITY AND THE
CATHOLIC FAITH, AND PROVIDING THAT No ONE
SHALL DARE TO PUBLICLY OPPOSE THEM.
4. John, Bishop of the City of Rome, to his most Illustrious and Merciful Son Justinian.
Among the conspicuous reasons for praising your wisdom and gentleness, Most Christian of Emperors, and one which radiates light as a star, is the fact that through love of the Faith, and actuated by zeal for charity, you, learned in ecclesiastical discipline, have preserved reverence for the See of Rome, and have subjected all things to its authority, and have given it unity. The following precept was communicated to its founder, that is to say, the first of the Apostles, by the mouth of the Lord, namely: "Feed my lambs."
This See is indeed the head of all churches, as the rules of the Fathers and the decrees of Emperors assert, and the words of your most reverend piety testify. It is therefore claimed that what the Scriptures state, namely, "By Me Kings reign, and the Powers dispense justice;" will be accomplished in you. For there is nothing which shines with a more brilliant lustre than genuine faith when displayed by a prince, since there is nothing which prevents destruction as true religion does, for as both of them have reference to the Author of Life and Light, they disperse darkness and prevent apostasy. Wherefore, Most Glorious of Princes, the Divine Power is implored by the prayers of all to preserve your piety in this ardor for the Faith, in this devotion of your mind, and in this zeal for true religion, without failure, during your entire existence. For we believe that this is for the benefit of the Holy Churches, as it was written, "The king rules with his lips," and again, "The heart of the King is in the hand of God, and it will incline to whatever side God wishes"; that is to say, that He may confirm your empire, and maintain your kingdoms for the peace of the Church and the unity of religion; guard their authority, and preserve him in that sublime tranquillity which is so grateful to him; and no small change is granted by the Divine Power through whose agency a divided church is not afflicted by any griefs or subject to any reproaches. For it is written, "A just king, who is upon his throne, has no reason to apprehend any misfortune."
We have received with all due respect the evidences of your serenity, through Hypatius and Demetrius, most holy men, my brothers and fellow-bishops, from whose statements we have learned that you have promulgated an Edict addressed to your faithful people, and dictated by your love of the Faith, for the purpose of overthrowing the designs of heretics, which is in accordance with the evangelical tenets, and which we have confirmed by our authority with the consent of our brethren and fellow bishops, for the reason that it is in conformity with the apostolic doctrine.
The following is the text of the letter of the Emperor Justinian, Victorious, Pious, Happy, Renowned, Triumphant, always Augustus, to John, Patriarch, and most Holy Archbishop of the fair City of Rome:
With honor to the Apostolic See, and to Your Holiness, which is, and always has been remembered in Our prayers, both now and formerly, and honoring your happiness, as is proper in the case of one who is considered as a father, We hasten to bring to the knowledge of Your Holiness everything relating to the condition of the Church, as We have always had the greatest desire to preserve the unity of your Apostolic See, and the condition of the Holy Churches of God, as they exist at the present time, that they may remain without disturbance or opposition. Therefore, We have exerted Ourselves to unite all the priests of the East and subject them to the See of Your Holiness, and hence the questions which have at present arisen, although they are manifest and free from doubt, and, according to the doctrine of your Apostolic See, are constantly firmly observed and preached by all priests, We have still considered it necessary that they should be brought to the attention of Your Holiness. For we do not suffer anything which has reference to the state of the Church, even though what causes the difficulty may be clear and free from doubt, to be discussed without being brought to the notice of Your Holiness, because you are the head of all the Holy Churches, for We shall exert Ourselves in every way (as has already been stated), to increase the honor and authority of your See.
(1) Therefore, We present to Your Holiness the fact that certain infidels and persons who do not belong to the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of God have, like Jews and apostates, dared to dispute matters which are properly accepted, glorified, and preached by all priests in accordance with your doctrines, denying that Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, and that Our Lord was born of the Holy Spirit and of the Holy, Glorious, and always Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, and became a man and was crucified, and that he is one of the persons of the Holy Trinity, who are all of one substance, and who should be adored and exalted along with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and that he is consubstantial with the Father according to divinity, and consubstantial with ourselves according to humanity, and susceptible of. the sufferings of the flesh, but not susceptible of the same as a deity. For these persons refusing to acknowledge Our Lord Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God, and Our Lord as one of the Holy Trinity, and of the same substance with the other persons composing it, appear to follow the evil doctrine of Nestor, who asserts that there is one Son of God according to grace, whom he styles the Word of God, and another Son whom he calls Christ.
(2) All the priests of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and the most Reverend Abbots of the Holy Monasteries, acknowledging Your Holiness, and solicitous for the prosperity and unity of the Holy Churches of God, which they receive from the Apostolic See of Your Holiness, making no changes in the ecclesiastical condition which has existed up to this time, and still exists; with one voice, confess, glorify, and preach that Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son and the Word of God, and that Our Lord, born of His Father before all centuries and times, Who descended from Heaven in the last days, was born of the Holy Spirit and the Holy and Glorious Virgin Mary, the Mother of God; became a man and was crucified; is of the same substance as the Holy Trinity to be adored and glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit; for we do not acknowledge any other God, Word or Christ, but one alone, and the same of like substance with the Father, in accordance with divinity, and of like substance with us in accordance with humanity, Who could suffer in the flesh, but could not suffer as a deity; and Whom, Himself perfect in divinity as well as humanity, we receive and confess as being what the Greeks call o9moo/usiov. And, as the only begotten Son and Word of God was born of His Father before centuries and times existed, and as He, in later times, descended from Heaven, was born of the Holy Spirit and the Holy ever Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, Our Lord Jesus Christ having become a man, is properly and truly God. Hence we say that the Holy and Glorious Virgin Mary is properly and truly the Mother of God, not for the reason that God obtained speech and origin from her, but because in the last days He descended from Heaven, and, incarnated through Her, became a man, and was born; whom we confess and believe (as has already been stated), to be of the same substance with the Father according to deity, and of the same substance with ourselves according to humanity, whose miracles and sufferings voluntarily sustained by Him while in the flesh we acknowledge.
(3) Moreover, we recognize four Sacred Councils, that is to say, the one composed of three hundred and eighteen Holy Fathers who assembled in the City of Nicea; and that of the hundred and fifty Holy Fathers who met in this Imperial City; and that of the Holy Fathers who first congregated at Ephesus; and that of the Holy Fathers who met at Chalcedony, as your Apostolic See teaches and proclaims. Hence, all priests who follow the doctrine of your Apostolic See believe, confess, and preach these things.
(4) Wherefore We have hastened to bring to the notice of Your Holiness, through the most blessed Bishops Hypatius and Demetrius (so it may not be concealed from Your Holiness), that these tenets are denied by some few wicked and judaizing monks, who have adopted the perfidious doctrines of Nestor.
(5) Therefore We request your paternal affection, that you, by your letters, inform Us and the Most Holy Bishop of this Fair City, and your brother the Patriarch, who himself has written by the same messengers to Your Holiness, eager in all things to follow the Apostolic See of Your Blessedness, in order that you may make it clear to Us that Your Holiness acknowledges all the matters which have been set forth above, and condemns the perfidy of those who, in the manner of Jews, have dared to deny the true Faith. For in this way the love of all persons for you, and the authority of your See will increase, and the unity of the Holy Church will be preserved unimpaired, when all the most blessed bishops learn through you and from those who have been dispatched by you, the true doctrines of Your Holiness. Moreover, We beg Your Blessedness to pray for Us, and to obtain the beneficence of God in Our behalf.
The subscription was as follows: "May God preserve you for many years, Most Holy and Religious Father."
HERE FOLLOWS THE REMAINDER OF THE LETTER OP THE POPE.
It is then clear, Most Glorious Emperor (as the tenor of your message and the statements of your envoys disclose), that you have devoted Yourself to the study of apostolic learning, as You are familiar with, have written, proposed and published to believers among the people, those matters having reference to the faith of the Catholic religion, which (as we have already stated), both the tenets of the Apostolic See and the venerated authority of the Holy Fathers have established, and which, in all respects, we have confirmed. Therefore, it is opportune to cry out with a prophetic voice, "Heaven will rejoice with You, and pour out its blessings upon You, and the mountains will rejoice, and the hills be glad with exceeding joy." Hence, you should write these things upon the tablets of Your heart, and preserve them as the apples of your eyes, for there is no one animated by the charity of Christ who will appear to impugn this confession of the just and true faith; as it is evident that You condemn the impiety of Nestor and Eutyches, and all other heretics, and that You firmly and inviolably, with devotion to God and reverent mind acknowledge the single, true, and Catholic Faith of Our Lord God, as revealed by the agency of Our Savior Jesus Christ; diffused everywhere by the preaching of the Prophets and Apostles; confirmed by the confessions of saints throughout the entire world, and united with the opinions of the Fathers and Doctors conformably to our doctrine.
Those alone who are opposed to your professions are they of whom the Holy Scriptures speak as follows: "They have based their hope on lying, and have expected to remain concealed through falsehood." And also those who, according to the prophet, say to the Lord, "Depart from us, we are unwilling to follow your ways"; on account of which Solomon said, "They have wandered through the paths of their own cultivation and gathered unfruitful things with their hands." This, then, is your true faith, this your true religion, which all the Fathers and heads of the Roman Church of happy memory (as we have already stated) and whom we follow in all things, have embraced; this is what the Apostolic See has preached up to this time, and has preserved inviolate, and if anyone should appear to oppose this confession, and this Faith, he must show himself to be outside of the communion and the Catholic Church. We have found Cyrus and his followers in the City of Rome, who came from the Cumitensian monastery, and whom we have attempted by our apostolic arguments to recall to the true faith, as sheep who are about to perish and are wandering, should be brought back to the fold of the owner. In order that, according to the prophet, stammering tongues may know how to speak matters which have reference to peace, the first of our apostles quotes the words of Isaiah, the prophet, through us to unbelievers, namely: "Continue in the light of the fire and the flame which you yourselves have kindled, but their heart is so hardened (as has been written), that they do not recognize the voice of the Shepherd, and the sheep which were not mine are unwilling to hear." With reference to such persons, we, observing what was established by the Pontiff on this point, do not receive them in our communion, and we order them to be excluded from every Catholic Church, unless, having renounced their errors, they adopt our doctrine, and announce their adherence to it, after having made a regular profession of the same. For it is just that those who do not show obedience to the laws which we have established should be banished from the churches. But as the Church never closes her heart to those who return to her, I beseech Your Clemency, if they, having renounced their errors and abandoned their wicked designs, should wish to return to the bosom of the Church, to receive them in your communion, and abandon your feelings of indignation, and that through our intercession you pardon them, and grant them your indulgence.
Moreover, we pray God and Our Saviour Jesus Christ, that he may preserve you long in peace in this true religion and in the unity and veneration of the Apostolic See, and that your most Christian and pious Empire may, in all respects, long be maintained. Moreover, 0 most Serene of Princes, we praise Hypatius and Demetrius, your envoys, and our brothers and fellow-bishops, whose selection has shown that they are acceptable to Your Clemency; for the importance of such an embassy indicates that it could not be entrusted to anyone who is not perfect in Christ, and that You would not have deemed them worthy of a mission involving so much piety and reverence, unless they have been very dear to You.
The favor of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the Communion of the Holy Spirit, remain forever with you, Most Pious son. Amen."
The subscription was as follows, "Most Glorious and Clement Son of the Emperor Augustus, may Almighty God guard your kingdom and your health with His eternal protection."
Given at Rome, on the eighth of the Kalends of April, during the Consulate of the Emperor Justinian, Consul for the fourth time, and of Paulinus, Consul for the fifth time.
Yes it is. It doesn't teach anything but what the Lord taught. That doesn't mean Orthodox Christians are "pure." The Church is made up of sinners.
excellent, brother. Many thanks
Do you like that Georgian version of St. George I posted at the beginning of the thread?
Yesterday at the residence of Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and all-Rus His Holiness met with the Catholic bishop of the Italian city of Terni, Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia. At the meeting the Catholic prelate presented to the patriarch a piece of a relic of St. Valentine, who according to European tradition is considered the patron of lovers.
Despite the crisis in relations between the Vatican and the Orthodox church, a number of Italian dioceses have declared their sympathy and friendly attitude toward the Russian Orthodox church. Almost immediately after the beginning of the conflict, which was caused by the transformation of apostolic administrations into dioceses, the Moscow patriarchate was visited by several Catholic delegations from Italy. At the time of these meetings the guests several times called the action of the Holy See ill-advised and unnecessary.
The visit by the bishop from Terni is a continuation of the demonstration of a friendly attitude toward the Russian Orthodox church on the part of the "Italian party" that is traditionally strong in the Vatican. This includes the bishops of the Italian peninsula. In this context the gift presented by Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia to the Moscow patriarchy is viewed as symbolic since the relic is of the martyr Valentine who is the patron of lovers. -------------------------------------------------------------
LOVE AS LOVE, POLITICS APART.
Saint Valentine can hardly help correct relations between two churches.
by Oleg Nedumov
Nezavisimaia gazeta, 17 January 2003
The strained relations between Moscow and the Vatican bring to naught any attempts by the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches to present a united front to the more substantial problems of international politics and public life. Although their positions sometimes coincide fully. Both Catholic and Orthodox sharply criticize attempts at cloning a human, although they still have not made a joint statement on this matter. The same applies to the situation regarding Iraq. John Paul II's declaration, which recently subjected the Russian government to criticism for refusing to give entry visas to several foreign Catholic clergy, testifies that one should not expect a positive change in relations between Moscow and the Vatican in the near future.
Despite the situation that has developed, RPTs managed to get an informal dialogue with representatives of various Italian dioceses of the Roman Catholic church whose position often differs considerably from the official foreign policy line of the Vatican. A most notable example of such contact was a visit made recently to Moscow by a delegation of Italian Catholics headed by the bishop of the city of Terni, Vincenzo Paglia, who delivered a gift to the Russian Orthodox church of a piece of the relics of St. Valentine of Terni, who is considered in western Europe the patron of lovers. This gift, as the Italian bishop suggests, should be a symbol of reconciliation between the two churches, since St. Valentine lived at a time when they were not yet divided.
Whether it is an irony of fate or fully intentional, this visit by the Italian delegation was held exactly two days after John Paul II's statement. The presence in the Roman Catholic church of two directly contradictory foreign policy lines is shocking and even Catholic themselves do not attempt to conceal it. In the representation of the Vatican in Moscow they declare with irritation that the transfer of the relics from Italy was a purely private initiative by Bishop Vincenzo Paglia.
It seems that the hopes that had been placed in the new representative of the Vatican in Moscow, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, for correcting relations between the two churches have hardly been justified. (tr. by PDS, posted 17 January 2003)
Just what I was thinking. Of course there is the decree authorizing the Catholic Church as the Imperial Church (see below). This decree may also remind Constantinopolitans why the title "Imperial" Patriarch caused such a stir.
Theodosian Code XVI.1.2
It is our desire that all the various nation which are subject to our clemency and moderation, should continue to the profession of that religion which was delivered to the Romans by the divine Apostle Peter, as it has been preserved by faithful tradition and which is now professed by the Pontiff Damasus and by Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic holiness. According to the apostolic teaching and the doctrine of the Gospel, let us believe in the one diety of the father, Son and Holy Spirit, in equal majesty and in a holy Trinity. We authorize the followers of this law to assume the title Catholic Christians; but as for the others, since in out judgment they are foolish madmen, we decree that the shall be branded with the ignominious name of heretics, and shall not presume to give their conventicles the name of churches. They will suffer in the first place the chastisement of divine condemnation an the second the punishment of out authority, in accordance with the will of heaven shall decide to inflict.
from Henry Bettenson, ed., Documents of the Christian Church, (London: Oxford University Press, 1943), p. 31 [Short extract used under fair-use provsions]
It's lovely. He is my family's patron Saint (May 6). I always prepare kolyivo (zhito) for our Slava, but I am not good ad making the kolach (or kulach). Maybe one day.
I think it is important to establish an unambiguous, unbroken and unequivocal thread on this issue, and bring to the light of the day (not only to the Orthodox but to the Roman Catholics as well) exactly what the office of the Pope entailed in the first three centuries of the Church and how it differs, if at all, from the same office (prerogatives, authority, etc.) later on -- to this day, in fact.
That may explain perhaps why none of the Councils or Imperial decrees cited ever speak of papal infallibility, let alone make it a dogma, and why it was necessary to make it a dogma.
This is something that the Church of the East and West will deal with very shortly, BTW, so some insight into the "big picture" may make it that much more interesting.
And in this respect I am justly indignant at this so open and manifest folly of Stephen, that he who so boasts of the place of his episcopate, and contends that he holds the succession from Peter, on whom the foundations of the Church were laid, should introduce many other rocks and establish new buildings of many churches; maintaining that there is baptism in them by his authority. For they who are baptized, doubtless, fill up the number of the Church. But he who approves their baptism maintains, of those baptized, that the Church is also with them. Nor does he understand that the truth of the Christian Rock is overshadowed, and in some measure abolished, by him when he thus betrays and deserts unity. The apostle acknowledges that the Jews, although blinded by ignorance, and bound by the grossest wickedness, have yet a zeal for God. Stephen, who announces that he holds by succession the throne of Peter, is stirred with no zeal against heretics, when he concedes to them, not a moderate, but the very greatest power of grace: so far as to say and assert that, by the sacrament of baptism, the filth of the old man is washed away by them, that they pardon the former mortal sins, that they make sons of God by heavenly regeneration, and renew to eternal life by the sanctification of the divine layer. (St. Firmilian, in St. Cyprian, Ep. 74:17)
This was in 256 AD. St. Stephen's letter is otherwise unpreserved - strangely, St. Cyprian makes no mention of this. We may suppose that St. Victor may have made a similiar claim during the Quartodeciman controversy - St. Irenaeus appears to concede his right to excommunicate the Asian churches, and it is hard to imagine from where else it might have derived. But there is such a great lack of writings from this period on ecclesiastical government that it is impossible to bring firm proof otherwise. The other possible reference is this:
After such things as these, moreover, they still dare--a false bishop having been appointed for them by, heretics--to set sail and to bear letters from schismatic and profane persons to the throne of Peter, and to the chief church whence priestly unity takes its source; and not to consider that these were the Romans whose faith was praised in the preaching of the apostle, to whom faithlessness could have no access. But what was the reason of their coming and announcing the making of the pseudo-bishop in opposition to the bishops? (St. Cyprian, Ep. 54:14)
"[W]hence priestly unity takes its source" can quite reasonably be connected to what he says about St. Peter in his treatise "On the Unity of the Church":
Upon one He builds His Church, and though to all His Apostles after His resurrection He gives an equal power and says: 'As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you: Receive the Holy Ghost, whosesoever sins you shall have remitted they shall be remitted unto them, and whosesoever sins you shall have retained they shall be retained', yet that He might make unity manifest, He disposed the origin of that unity beginning from one.
As I posited on another thread, given the Eastern penchant for disputing and hashing out every little point of dispute, I find it very unlikely that papal infallibility and universal jurisdiction were held throughout the early Church.
As Kosta knows, I have a penchant for doing "reverse postulations." In this case, it is useful to postulate that indeed the entire Church, all of the great Fathers of the Church, the Church's understanding of the canons and Scriptures and everything -- i.e. postulate that "everyone, everywhere, always" in, say, the first 6 or 7 centuries of the Church believed that the bishop of Rome was infallible and had universal jurisdiction over the entire Church.
Now, what would have happened in the Eastern Christian world (we'll leave aside the questions of dissent within the West) had Constantinople decided to challenge and reject that putatively universal teaching of Christendom?
If it were a universally held doctrine accepted and taught by all the Fathers of the Church that are quoted interminably by Catholics on these threads supposedly in support of an infallible Papacy with universal jurisdiction, then a veritable maelstrom would have erupted in the East within and between Patriarchates in the 9th century, had Constantinople had the temerity to change or challenge this (again, for the sake of argument) univerally held and critical doctrine.
Yet the historical reality is that there was remarkable unanimity amongst the Eastern bishops on this score.
These threads never go anywhere useful, since we Orthodox are clear on the fact that Catholics are retroactively reading later Catholic doctrines into early Christian writings (and Catholics are equally convinced that we Orthodox are reading our "schismatic" thought back into our own Fathers), except that there seems to be a growing number of Roman Catholics who are willing at least to admit that Roman Catholics and Orthodox do not share a common faith -- that honesty is actually very helpful.
But I would make one suggestion: before trying to convince Orthodox about the infallibility and universal jurisdiction of the Pope, why not start by trying to convince Catholics of it? It is rare that I meet a Catholic who takes the idea particularly seriously these days. When I look around at the American Catholic scene, there are far more useful (even urgent) things for devout Catholics commited to the Magesterium to be doing than trying to convince Orthodox about Papal Infallibility and the "need" for us to be under the jurisdiction of the Pope.
I did not know you made kolliva for the day of your family saint. I had thought it was only for memorial days...
Aaah, but this is a uniquely Serbian Orthodox custom! And the kolyivo is different from the one you make for the parastos/pomen. The family Saint day is called Slava, which means either "glory" or "celebration." We do not celebrate birthdays the way they do in the West (that is considered self-centered and proud) but the name of the Saint for which you have been named, as someone to whom we look up as our model -- we call it Imendan which is the same as Russian Imenny. Slava is a special variation of this, when we celebrate the ancestral Imenny, on the day when one's family became Christian (Orthodox) -- and for most Serbs this is a thread that goes back 1100 or so years.
This unique fingerprint of Serbian Orthodoxy is used instead of the middle name to identify people with equal Christian and family names -- thus if you had two John Does, and didn't know who was who, you'd ask "what is you Slava?" There is very little chance that all three (first, last name and Slava) were all the same.
How is it different? I can make the kind I make in my sleep, so I am curious. We make a simple one for memorials, boiled wheat berries with cinnamon, raisins, and sugar.
The priest who comes to bless the kloyivo and the bread pours wine over the wheat (center) and the bread is turned by fingers as he chants and later on cut into a cross. He then pours wine in the center of the bread. You can read more about Slava here
Your recipe sounds similar to mine though.
My other question is about the origin of Petrine Supremacy as a doctrine. This doctrine is credited to Pople Leo I, but that is 400 years after the Church was established. If the Church were established in 1605, we would be just now declaring Papal Supremacy! That's a very long time, you must admit.
Perhaps you can shed some light as to what prompted this doctrine.
As for +Cyprian, he is known to have been the strong advocate of the Pope and a united Church. In his "De Unitate" he writes:
"The other Apostles were indeed what Peter was, endowed with a like fellowship both of honour and of power, but the commencement proceeds from one, that the Church may be shown to be one. This one Church the Holy Ghost in the person of the Lord designates in the Canticle of Canticles, and says, One is My Dove, My perfect one, one is she to her mother, one to her that bare her. He that holds not this unity of the Church, does he believe that he holds the Faith? He who strives against and resists the Church, is he confident that he is in the Church?"
However, in the same work on the Church unity is a marginal addition to this statement, which appears only in this particular copy which, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, St. Cyrprian "appears most probably to have added," that is it -- it is uncertain.
The marginal text says this:
"And though to all His Apostles He gave an equal power yet did He set up one chair, and disposed the origin and manner of unity by his authority. The other Apostles were indeed what Peter was, but the primacy is given to Peter, and the Church and the chair is shown to be one. And all are pastors, but the flock is shown to be one, which is fed by all the Apostles with one mind and heart. He that holds not this unity of the Church, does he think that he holds the faith? He who deserts the chair of Peter, upon whom the Church is founded, is he confident that he is in the Church?"
This is night and day.
But, if memory serves me right, Cyprian changed his endorsement of papacy and taught of equality among bishops, and that bishops should be "fired" by the laity, all of which got him expelled from the City of Rome where he went to see the Pope. The Pope refused to see him and St. Cyprian was expelled from the city as a heretic.
Moreover, while clearly supporting the idea of Church unity through the throne of Peter, he challenged the Pope over the issue of baptism, rallying 87 African bishops to oppose the Pope! Without going into a debate, it seems clear that the idea of papal power and supremacy was quite different than the idea one gets from Pope Leo I, or from Vatican I.
I think Agrarian observes rightly then that there was no consensus in the early Church (and +Cyprian lived over 200 years after the Church was established) about Pope's infallibility or supremacy.
My last question to you is: where and when and by whom did the title "The Vicar of Christ" originate?
Where exactly is this anti-Catholicism (both overt and subliminal) come from in discussion about the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue.
Does it come from all the mainline Protestants who have become Orthodox, bringing their biases with them.
For example I notice the constant use of the term "Roman Catholic" when refering to the Latin Rite Catholic Church. As this term comes from the serial wife killer Henry VIII when he set up his Church it is pretty clear where that term comes from.
I have read loads of apologetics (both for and against reunion) and can't help but to come to the conclusion that any Orthodox apologetics materials when referring to Catholics should be using either the term "Latin Patriarch" or the "Patriarchate of Rome", not "Roman Catholic" a term from the reformation.
The pope clearly exercised some authority that was unique to his position and recognized by the bishops in the East, but what was its nature? Was it of divine origin or merely ecclesiastical? What were its limits? Could it be exercised on his own initiative or only in response to an appeal brought to him by others? Was it only over Church discipline or did it extend to doctrine? What was its relation to Church council?
As I stated in another thread, I will be away for 24 hours so please be patient if I do not respond immediately to your postings.
More semi-historical gibberish, I see. Par for the course for the Catholic-haters on FR, unfortunately.
Marmema, your confusion comes from the fact that at a Serbian "Slava" celebration, there are two things prepared to eat. The first is essentially koliva. This is prepared, I think, because at the Slava commemoration, one is praying for one's Christian ancestors who are departed.
The second thing prepared is the "kolach" -- which is a special bread. The priest cuts into the bread in the sign of the cross, and pours wine into this cross in the bread. The family members hold it and turn it around three times (as I recall) while singing the troparion of the saint.
Many Serbian parishes also serve a Slava celebration for their parish patronal feast.
Since we were received into the Orthodox Church via the Serbs, and since we were the first in our families to convert to Orthodoxy, we ourselves have a family "Slava", although we have rarely since been in a place where we have had a priest who knows how to serve the Slava service. The family Slava is second in veneration to each of us only to our personal patron saint.
We will give an icon of this saint to each of our children when they establish their own homes, and the tradition will, we pray, carry on down through the generations. Long after we personally have been forgotten, the Slava will be a reminder that once our family was not Orthodox, but that some crazy ancestor had the good sense to take the leap! :-) At the time of this feast, the original conversion of the family will be commemorated.
I think it is a wonderful tradition. During the harshest days of Ottoman rule, when all other religious observances were often snuffed out and priests unavailable, the Serbs never stopped having a Slava commemoration, led by the head of the family. It it not an exaggeration to say that in some places and times, only the Slava commemoration kept the faith alive within certain families.
Recently, when the Patriarchate of Jerusalem was having troubles, they appealed to the Patriarchate of Constantinople to see if the EP could help them straighten out their local troubles.
If you look at the statements I have been posting, in the 1895 statement of the EP, this "appeal to Constantinople" is outlined -- but clearly at the request of the local Church, and with the proviso that if things cannot be settled with the help of the EP, that ultimately the final authority is that of the local council of the local Church in question -- not that of the EP. The willingness of any given local church to appeal to the EP for help in resolving a local dispute depends on many things, not least of which is the amount of trust that the given local church has in the current leadership at the Phanar.
I am no historian or canon lawyer, but I think that it is quite clear that this kind of "appeal to Rome" for opinions or settling of disputes did happen -- particularly within the West, but also at times in the East.
Were the Orthodox churches to acknowledge a return to Orthodox belief on the part of Rome, and were Rome to develop a level of trust in the reliability and fairness of opinion, I could certainly foresee Rome returning -- as first amongst equals -- to being the one to whom a given local church might appeal for assistance. Generally, a local church would turn first to a neighboring Patriarchate or to one with which it had its longest relationship. And the assistance and opinion offered by Rome would have to be received as workable -- else a local or regional council would have to work it out.
The Church is a family made up of brothers. Those who have a problem, question, or dispute, will often turn to someone they greatly trust -- often the oldest, but not always -- to help them work things out. That respect is earned, not dictated from above.
I think that if one looks at it this way, all of the patristic quotations and canons make sense. Also, the fact that no maelstrom erupted within the East during the 9th century can be explained in this context: Rome was seen as a Patriarchate that had, during the early centuries, been very reliable in doctrine and for the most part helpful when being appealed to for an opinion (which wasn't often, it seems.)
When Rome itself became the problem, the Eastern Patriarchates most obviously didn't give a second thought as to whether they were failing to obey a bishop with univeral jurisdiction, and it obviously didn't cross their minds that they should follow Rome because its bishop was infallible in doctrine.
Had universal authority and papal infallibility been the universal teaching of the Fathers, this never would have happened: there would have been massive pro-Roman forces arising within the Eastern Patriarchates themselves, and the bishops who rejected Rome's claims of authority and the doctrines Rome taught would have been declared heretics by at least a significant minority of East Romans. This just didn't happen.
That would indeed be a harmful overstatenent, and historically unprovable.
The pope clearly exercised some authority that was unique to his position and recognized by the bishops in the East, but what was its nature? Was it of divine origin or merely ecclesiastical? What were its limits? Could it be exercised on his own initiative or only in response to an appeal brought to him by others? Was it only over Church discipline or did it extend to doctrine? What was its relation to Church council?
That is what has to be determined in the coming negotiations. But I will observe that the Orthodox side will insist on looking at the Petrine ministry not from the time of Pope Leo I, but rather from St Peter onward, in light not only of concensus patrum but history as well.
It may very well be that Petrine ministry may be defined for the first time in terms stated in your response and, if made acceptable to both sides, become the seed of a new era.
Thank you Agrarian for a nice description. I make the zhito/kolyivo even if the priest is not around. Of course I do not make the sign of the Cross with wine over it but simply ask for blessing by prayer. And the bread, oh well, I never mastered that part -- tried once and it resembled a rock in size and consistency (oops!).
Agrarian also touched on another part of Slava which I neglected. Cities, organizations and so on in Serbia have a patron saint -- and therefore their own Slava. Many people in Serbia refer to significant dates by Church calendar name rathere than the Roman date -- such as "the Agreement on the day of Assumption" or "the St. Vitus' Constitution," etc.