Skip to comments.Patriarch Bartholomew I on the Papal Visit
Posted on 12/03/2006 9:30:49 AM PST by Kolokotronis
STANBUL, Turkey, DEC. 1, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople "is of incalculable value in the process of reconciliation," says Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I.
In this interview with the Italian newspaper Avvenire, the patriarch revealed that he made an unexpected ecumenical proposal to the Pope.
Q: What can you tell us about this journey?
Bartholomew I: Above all, I must say that I truly thank His Holiness for his visit to us on the feast day of St. Andrew. It is a truly very significant step forward in our relations, and undertaken in the framework of a journey which has made, on the whole, a contribution to interreligious dialogue which I think is truly important.
Q: You and the Pope have seen one another face to face several times, away from the cameras and journalists. What have you said to one another?
Bartholomew I: His Holiness showed his benevolence to the patriarchate and its problems; for this reason we are truly grateful to him.
It has been an opportunity to know one another better, including the cardinals of his entourage, with whom I think we have established a good friendship, and this also seems to me to be very important.
We can truly say that this Thursday we lived a historic day, under many aspects. Historic for ecumenical dialogue and, as we saw in the afternoon, historic for the relationship between cultures and religions. And, obviously, because of all this, historic also for our country.
Q: The addresses and common declaration you signed are "lofty" and compromising. Have you also spoken of the future?
Bartholomew I: In this respect, I can say that I spoke with His Holiness of something -- something that we could do. I presented him with a proposal which I cannot now elaborate on, as we await an official response, but I can say that His Holiness was very interested and that he received it favorably.
We hope it can be undertaken as it is directed to that ecumenical progress that, as we have affirmed and written in the common declaration, both of us are determined to pursue.
Q: Why are you so determined?
Bartholomew I: Unity is a precious responsibility, but at the same time a difficult one which must be assumed if it is not shared between brothers. The history of the last millennium is a painful "memory" of this reality.
We are profoundly convinced that Benedict XVI's visit has incalculable value in this process of reconciliation, as, in addition, it has taken place at such a difficult time and in very delicate circumstances.
Without a doubt, with the help of God we are offered the opportunity to take a beneficial step forward in the process of reconciliation in our Churches. And perhaps, with the help of God, we will be given the opportunity to surmount some of the barriers of incomprehension among believers of different religions, in particular between Christians and Muslims.
Q: Earlier you also mentioned the importance of this for Turkey. Why?
Bartholomew I: Being at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, this city and this Church hold a truly unique position to foster a meeting among modern civilizations. In a certain sense, Istanbul is the perfect place to become a permanent center of dialogue between the different faiths and cultures.
We hope it can be undertaken as it is directed to that ecumenical progress that, as we have affirmed and written in the common declaration, both of us are determined to pursue."
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That sounds extremely positive!
"That sounds extremely positive!"
Well, that it does, but I wonder what he means.
"With all due respect Patriarch - just as the differences between Communism and freedom could never be compromised the differences between Islam and Christianity cannot be surmounted.
This is just diplomatic doublespeak and the time has come for the truth."
You are of course correct, but we have to remember where the EP lives. Maybe double speak is necessary to lay the foundation for the sort of honest and open discussion which will lead to finding a modus vivendi in the Moslem world for the hundreds of thousands, no millions, of Christians who live there.
good post. very interesting. Maybe we could start a contest with an award going to the most provocative rumor of what the offer was :)
Let me join the rumorfest with a modest and improbable proposal --
Greeks and Latins will nevermore refer to the city of Istanbul, but only to Constantinople.
The choreographers certainly created some great images.
Only when we are one will we be able to beat back the muzzies....again.
Which is my question also. We shall see.
"Well, that it does, but I wonder what he means."
This entire trip has had me completely bewildered as to what was supposed to be accomplished and what actually happened.
I'm not talking about religious dialogue, and the myopic tunnel-vision observations that we who are involved in informal, laity-level Catholic/Orthodox theological dialogue might make -- reading the tea-leaves of this or that gesture or word and how it will ultimately impact the filioque and papal primacy.
Having Popes and EP's get together and make nice is so common as to be boring. Having them kiss and call each other "Your Holiness" and what-not and give the impression that the Western Pope and the Eastern Pope are working on cutting a deal to unify (again, I'm talking about popular perception) is nothing new.
It is a little interesting to see BXVI's exact response to the direct encounter with an Orthodox worship service, but I really didn't feel like I learned much (other than the fact that I don't think he was very impressed with the quality of chanting -- I wan't very impressed myself, except for the clergy, most of whom had good voices and chanted well -- especially P. Bartholomew himself.)
The biggest thing on the world stage, and that will have the greatest practical effect on our lives and our children's lives is the entire relationship of Christianity to Islam -- or rather the relationship of what is left of Christendom to the political/religious entity called Islam.
On the one hand, we have BXVI dipping his toe into the water with his quotation of Paleologus (upon which the Muslims proved how tolerant they were by killing Christians -- nearly all of which were Orthodox, if I understand correctly.) And then we have had the BXVI backwards dance, his prayer facing Mecca at the mosque in Constantinople (at least he didn't kiss a Koran), and his conciliatory words about Islam, making it appear he can be intimidated.
I don't think that he *is* intimidated, and I think that he would be a willing martyr for the sake of Christ -- but again, I'm talking about world perception, and how such perceptions can either make marginal Christians determined to stand for their faith or to decide that all is lost and give up -- and how such perceptions can embolden Muslim expansionism.
Much as I didn't like JPII on a religious level, when he went to a country where Christianity was oppressed (Poland), he spoke boldly because he, as a Christian living in the free West, still could.
I really don't know how BXVI sees himself in this regard. Here we have Turkey hell-bent on becoming a member of the EU, which is just going to mean an acceleration of the process of the Islamization of Western Europe since it will provide an express lane conduit for unlimited immigration and movement into Europe, and I don't really understand what BXVI is thinking or doing. He is far too brilliant not to know the score, and to realize that he is perhaps the most important player on the scene in Western Europe in this regard.
His actions and words make sense neither as a Pope who has decided to write off Christendom as a social/political entity, in order to concentrate on being a leader of an oppressed but devout Catholic minority in a Western Europe being overrun by Islam -- nor do his words and actions make sense as someone acting as a defender on the ramparts of what is left of Western Christendom in a social/political sense.
On the world public stage, it seems to me that the only real winner in this visit -- taken as a whole, not in our own myopic Orthodox/Catholic dialogue world -- is Turkey in particular and Islam in general. Muslim radicals throughout the Islamic world have to be saying to themselves, "if we can get the Pope to go to a mosque and pray facing Mecca, think how easy it is going to be to strong-arm and stare down the rest of a spiritually weakened Western Europe."
I'm really just not sure what to think. It's not like I have a clear opinion on what BXVI should have done, but I feel that Christianity's position vis a vis Islam was weakened, not strengthened, in the course of this visit. I'll be happy -- overjoyed, in fact -- to be convinced otherwise.
I concur with you, A. The chanters had me puzzled. At times I wasn't sure if they were in a church or in a mosque and I do not mean to offend anyone). At other times, they were all apparently out of tune, as if trying to outdo each other. I must admit I expected nothing but a pure ancient Byzantine choir that is a lot closer to a Gregorian chant than imams calling the faithful to a mosque.
Divine Liturgy I am familiar with is closer to this rendition, or, given the monastic setting of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the "untempered" Byzantine monastic chants. But when we speak of "heaven on earth" liturgy, what I witnessed in the Church of St. George in Istanbul fell short of it to my ears. Our Catholic audience received a somewhat distorted impression of the Orthodox service, in my opinion.
On the other hand, the rendition of the Divine Lirugry by the clergy, especially the EP, as Agrarian notes, was excellent.
I must also agree with Agrarian on his uncertainty as to what this visit was supposed to accomplish. Under pressure, and in the name of "tolerance" and good inter-faith relations, the Pope changed his original "purpose," which was to visit only the Ecumenical Patriarch for the Feast of St. Andrew.
He changed his plans because of the remarks he made in Germany few months earlier that sparked a Muslim temper tantrum, along with death threats, murdering of Christians, and generally showing what they really are under that lying skin of theirs (those of you who don't know what taqiyya is, I suggest you research it).
From an Islamic point of view, I would see this as a sign of weakness (remember, Islam does not teach, preach or believe in tolerance and peaceful co-existence with the infidel, even if individual Muslims say so, they are only exercising taqqiya).
The west will have to realize that tolerance does not automatically create equality. Tolerance must be mutual in order to create equality. Islam is not tolerant. Cozying up to Islam does not create "mutual understanding and tolerance" but only encourages Islam to continue, seeing the tolerant side as inherently weak and retreating.
Reading that gives one different ideas about what might be going on vs ideas generated by secular oppponents of Jesus The Christ.
FIRST OFFICIAL VISIT OF ARCHBISHOP CHRISTODOULOS TO POPE
VATICAN CITY, DEC 4, 2006 (VIS) - His Beatitude Christodoulos, archbishop of Athens and of all Greece, is to visit the Holy Father and the Church of Rome from December 13 to 16, according to a communique released by the Holy See Press Office today.
"The archbishop was in Rome for the funeral of His Holiness John Paul II," says the communique, "but this is the first time that the primate of the Greek Orthodox Church makes an official visit to the Pope and to the Church of Rome."
The Holy Father will receive His Beatitude Christodoulos and his entourage on the morning of December 14. At a ceremony in the basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, the archbishop of Athens and of all Greece will be given part of a chain - kept in that basilica - with which St. Paul was held prisoner. Later, the communique continues, "Rome's Pontifical Lateran University will confer an 'honoris causa' degree upon the illustrious guest." During his stay in Rome, the archbishop and his entourage will also visit some of the holy sites of the city such as the basilicas and catacombs.
The communique points out how on November 3, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece expressed its "joy at this visit, the fruits of which will be positive." In his 2001 pilgrimage in the footsteps of St. Paul, John Paul II visited the Areopagus of Athens where he signed a joint declaration with His Beatitude Christodoulos, and was received by the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece. In subsequent years, visits have been exchanged between delegations from the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece, which came to Rome, and from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, which went to Athens. These initiatives were followed by "fraternal and intense" contacts between the Catholic Church of Rome and the Orthodox Church of Greece
*IMO< all the action signifies more than public posturing
I'm not so sure. Byzantine Tone 2, done in full traditional style with an ison and nasal singing, is *very* Levantine sounding. It only sounds 'Muslim' because they copied a fair bit of our musical tradition.
The kontakion of St. Andrew the First Called is in Tone 2, and some of the other music, expecially in Orthros, is always in the tone of the kontakion, whatever the tone of the week.
There is a very big distance between the Levant and the extreme occidental part of Anatolia. I also don't rememebr any Slavic Church ever using "Levantine" tones, so how unform is this Tone 2 in Orthodox Churches? And why would the Greeks copy Middle Eastern sounds if not because they didn't have any study books and materials for centuries under the Turkish occupation?
Systems of eight tones are very much local matters. The Byzantine Tone system is not used uniformly throughout even what was the territory of the Empire, but certainly has currency at Constantinople. There are more modern and Western-sounding tone systems in common usage in Greece, where the exact melodies may vary from valley to valley. The Serbian Tone system is recognizably derivative from the Byzantine system, but has elements of the Serb folk music tradition interwoven. The oldest Russian system of tones is preserved only in Alaska. The oldest in common usage in Russia, Znamenny, is much simplified from the Byzantine model.
We Antiochians in North America tend to use the Byzantine system, though some parishes coddle the musical sensibilities of converts and use Slavic tones, which sound more 'Western', and we have choir directors here and there that subvert attempts to introduce congregational singing (the old service books said 'people', not 'choir') by using ornate composed Russian settings the Sunday after the priest reminds the people they are suppose to participate by singing.
Basil Kazan has 'translated' old Byzantine musical manuscripts into Western notation (approximately--there are quarter tones in Byzantine music that can't quite be rendered): Tone 2 sounded that way in a lot of the churches in the Empire before ever the false prophet Mohammed darkened the earth with his ideas.
You are right that Byzantine Tone 2 (as with its plagal) is very "Middle Eastern" to the American ear. I've heard arguments both ways on just who influenced whom, and I think that it probably was a little of both.
One of the major questions is that of ornamentation -- there were no tape recorders back in the day, so we don't know for sure, but we do know that while all Christian chant forms have common roots, only Byzantine chant sung in Greek has the high levels of ornamentation that make it sound particularly "Turkish" to the Western ear. Gregorian doesn't, Znamenny doesn't, Byzantine chant as chanted in Slavonic doesn't, Georgian doesn't... Who stole the ornamentation styles from whom? I don't know -- but the absence of similar ornamentation in chant traditions in lands that fell outside Ottoman rule cannot go without being noted.
The Greek language lends itself (or so I'm told) to a nasal style of projection -- but while the traditional way of projecting in a large church is to add more voices, under the Turkish occupation, chanting became a solo art. Compare this to Old Believer Znamenny, which is also monophonic chant, but where there is little need for solo voices to project.
I don't use a nasal projection style when chanting in Greek (although it is more nasal-sounding than when I chant in English or Slavonic) -- and it carries just fine -- and I've heard Greek chanters who do the same, so I don't think it is de rigeur.
Nasality and the peculiarities of certain Byzantine tones aside, what struck me was the fact that the chanters were not sharing a common pitch a whole lot of the time. That struck me as being the mark of a group of chanters who are probably most used to chanting solo, and who aren't used to the discipline of singing in a group. Frankly, to me, that was a lack of discipline and polish that I didn't expect at the HQ of the EP. Not that Orthodox chant should ever sound slick or machine produced -- I've just heard far better Greek chanting. So in that regard, I have to agree with Kosta.
In answer to your question, Kosta, there really is little or no relationship between Byzantine tones and the tones of many other chant traditions. Certain melodies for prosomia/podobny have similarities across chant traditions because of common roots -- but the Znamenny scale on which all Russian (and indeed most Slavic chant) is built is basically very similar to the Western scale.
We have no equivalent to what are essentially 8 (or at least 4, if you count each plagal as using more or less the same scale as its counterpart) scales of the Byzantine modes. And we certainly have no equivalent to the non-tempered scales with 1/4 steps, intervals with no exact equivalents in Western music, etc...