Dropping “Patriarch of the West” and changing titles of Roman Basilicas to “Papal”

Under another entry I had mentioned the move made by Pope Benedict a few years ago to change the titles of Major Roman Basilica’s from "Patriarchal" Basilicas to "Papal" Basilicas.  He left aside his title "Patriarch of the West". Commentators leapt on that issue, and so derailed the entry.

But I sense that there are some rich possibilities for discussion in the Holy Father’s moves.

Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity.

So, I open this entry with the purpose of providing an amicable discussion about the reasons behind and effects of Pope Benedict’s move to alter the titles of the Basilicas and to leave aside his title as Patriarch of the West.

Was this a helpful decision for ecumenical purposes?

Was this merely something internal to the West, Latins?

What theological implications could those changes have or represent?

Discuss.

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68 Responses to Dropping “Patriarch of the West” and changing titles of Roman Basilicas to “Papal”

  1. Pedantic Classicist says:

    I have to confess that I have been perplexed by this move. Don’t most of the Orthodox recognize the Pope AS the (more or less) legit Patriarch of Rome? If so, I can’t see how removing the title “Patriarch” will help dialogue with the East. Maybe it’s just an internal matter? Someone, enlighten me, please!

  2. William Tighe says:

    The title “patriarch” (in the form of “Patriarch of Rome”) was first employed in 642, by Pope Theodore I. Rome never accepted the Eastern theory of the “pentarchy,” and really, never has done so (except in the fairly minor sense of the “order of precedence” of the five major sees, and that only at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215); and it has formed no part of the “self-conceit” of the See of Rome. I have always imagined that its removal by the present pope was an act of “ecumenical honesty,” no more and no less.

  3. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    As an Orthodox Christian I feel it would be reaching out to us if he used the title Patriarch of Rome because that is how we see him. The use of this title in no way offends the East. Is the Holy Father, by dropping this title, trying to reach out to the protestants? I’m confused.

  4. boredoftheworld says:

    I don’t understand, if the Bishop of Rome isn’t the Patriarch of the West, who is? Everyone else has a patriarch don’t they?

  5. reflector says:

    William is completely right. Joseph Ratzinger wrote about this topic in Rahner/Ratzinger, Episkopat und Primat, Quaestiones disputatae 11 (Herder 1961), p. 55 s (my own translation): “The principle of patriarchy is post constantinian, it has an administrative sense. [...] The roman claim [Anspruch] undertands itself from the original theological motive of the sedes apostolica. [...] To the same extent the “New Rome” made unclear the old idea of sedes apostolica in favour of the notion of patriarchy, the “Old Rome” strenghened the reference to the totally different origin and character of its own authority. This authority is in fact totally different from a primacy of honour among patriarchs, because it is situated on a different level, which is completely independent from such administrative concepts.”

  6. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    So if I understand William and Reflector correctly the Pope of Rome dropped the title Patriarch of the West because in his understanding the title Patriarch is below him and not part of Latin Christianity’s understanding of the Roman see’s jurisdiction? Was dropping this a way for him to try and assert Rome’s understanding of universal primacy?

  7. Salvatore_Giuseppe says:

    I have always thought that “of the West” was a rather vague term, if the Pope were to use the title of Patriarch, especially considering that, with migration (and reunification) more common, East and West is not such a distinct split of Orthodox and Catholic.

  8. reflector says:

    Joseph:

    Yes, it is an assertion of universal primacy, but not necessarily in a “juridical” (Ratzinger: “administrative”) sense. Ratzinger wrote (loc. cit. 56): “It (sc. the “sedes of Peter and Paul”) is the norm (“Norm”) of all apostolic succession. Therefore all bishops are referred to Rome (“auf Rom verwiesen”), only the conection with Rome creates for them the catholicity and that fullness of apostolicity, without which they are no true bishops. Without community with Rome one cannot be within the “Catholica”. [...] On the other hand, the see of Rome does not stand in itself without reference to others (“steht nicht beziehungslos in sich selbst”). It creates catholicity for the others, but just for this reason, it needs catholicity. [...] Just as it (the see of Rome) authenticates (“verbürgt”) catholicity, the (real) catholicity authenticates it. Just as the others, in order to be catholic, need its apostolic testimony, it (the Roman see) needs the testimony of real fullness, to remain true (“um wahr zu bleiben”). [...] A pope who excommunicates the whole episcopacy does not exist and cannot exist, because a church, which would only be roman, would not be catholic. [...] The correct meaning of catholicity includes both: the universal claim of the pope, and the inner limitation of this claim, which remains bound to the substantial norm of fullness (Wesensgesetz der Fülle”) and, by that, to the ius divinum of the bishops.”

  9. Prof. Basto says:

    The dropping of the title was unnecessary.

    It created no harm, I believe, but I also can’t figure out any good that it brought.

    The title “Patriarch of the West” wasn’t an issue, was it? There was no fuss about it, no known complaint. So I can’t understand the necessity of the move for the advancement of ecumenical dialogue.

    In any event, the title “Patriarch of the West” was merely a symbolic title indicating the Supreme Pontiff’s role as leader of the Latin Church. In the Latin Church, primatial and patriarchal titles grant only a precedence of honor, and carry with it no jurisdiction.

    Of course, the Pope already had and has paramount jurisdiction and absolute precedence of honor not in virtue of the title Patriarch of the West (a title that was created in the course of the history of the Church and that could be dropped) but in virtue of the Petrine Ministry, that is, in virtue of his role as Successor of bl. Peter and thus supreme pastor of the Church universal.

    The Latin Church as a canonical reality ,that is, as one of the autonomous (autocephalous) “Ritual Churches” that exist within the Church universal (each sui iuris Church having a particular set of internal organization, internal disciplinary norms, liturgical traditions and cultural background) distinguished herself from all the others (the others being the group called “the Eastern Churches”), by the fact that the Latin Church, unlike the Eastern Churches, never had a Government distinct from the Supreme Government of the Church universal.

    That is, the Latin Church has no institutional organs of her own to legislate for her and to and govern her. Instead, the Government of the Latin Church is vested in (and the ecclesiastical laws proper to the Latin Church are issued by) the Supreme Authority of the Church universal.

    Popes always ruled the Latin Church in virtue of the Supreme Authority posessed over the Church, not in virtue of the title “patriarch of the West”.

    Also, when they wished to gather a Synod, they never summoned a particular Synod of the Latin Church, but always summoned an Ecumenical Council instead.

    So, care was never taken that the matters of pertaining only to the Latin Church were dealt with in a forum of the Latin Church only. The Second Vatican Council’s constitution on Sacred Liturgy, that basically contains disciplinary norms regarding the liturgy of the Latin Church only, is a clear example that, in the Latin Church, legislation is handed down, and government is discharged, not by “particular” bodies, but by the bodies entrusted with supreme authority over the Church universal. The reform of the Latin liturgy was considered by an Ecumenical Council and promulgated by the Pope as Supreme Pastor of the Church universal, and not by a particular synod with promulgation by the Pope as patriarch.

    Of course, it couldn’t be different: no particular synod of the Latin Church ever existed, and the pope never legislated but as Supreme Legislator.

    So, the Latin Church has been always directly subject to the Supreme Authorty of the Universal Church.

    Therefore, the pope can assume or do away with the title, without changing anything in his position regarding either the Latin Church or the Church universal.

    By the way, the every existance of the Latin Church and of the several Eastern Churches as separate entities within the Church universal is a mater of ecclesiastical discipline, not of divine institution, of ecclesiastical law, not of divine law.

  10. Federico says:

    First a comment: there remain patriarchs in the Catholic Church. In the Latin Church the title (such as is granted to the patriarchs of Lisbon, Venice, Jerusalem, etc.) is merely honorific and carries no power of governance. In the Patriarchal Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris the patriarch has additional authority (as do the major archbishops in major archiepiscopal Eastern Catholic Churches): “by the most ancient tradition of the Church the patriarchs of the Eastern Churches are to be accorded special honor, seeing that each is set over his patriarchate as father and head.” (OE 9)

    Excepting the really small Churches sui iuris then, all other juridically identifiable Catholic Churches have the figure of a patriarch (which, mutatis mutandis includes major archbishops).

    Why not the Latin Catholic Church?

    I think Fr. Z is right: the Pope wanted to foster unity and avoid the perception that he was partial to the Latin Church. Also, in a world where the relationship between all the Catholic Churches is not obvious, and where the model of the One Catholic Church being a united federation of Churches of equal dignity subject to Peter’s Successor is virtually unknown, I can see that the Holy Father might have been afraid that the title could engender confusion. (sorry for the long sentence).

    This, I think, was a mistake. The role of patriarch of the west was established in canon 6 of Nicaea (albeit not with the name patriarch). The Orthodox recognize that special role. It is a long tradition to lose.

  11. William Tighe says:

    “The role of patriarch of the west was established in canon 6 of Nicaea (albeit not with the name patriarch).”

    There is no sign that Rome ever recognized or acknowledged this canon, though, and while the Easterners came to treat the canons of ecumenical councils as almost sacrosanct, Rome always felt free to accept them, alter them or reject them as it pleased. A better example is that of Canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon (451) which determined the “taxis” (or “order” of honor) among the greater sees to be Rome-Constantinople-Alexandria-Antioch-Jerusalem. Pope Leo the Great rejected that canon out of hand, and declared it “annulled” by his apostolic authority, insisting that the order was, and mist remain Rome-Alexandria-Antioch with no other see being able to be on their level. After a long correspondence between Leo, on the one hand, and Anatolius, Patriarch of Constantinople, and Marcian, Eastern Roman Emperor, on the other, these latter two explicitly acquiesced in Leo’s decision. Later, in 478, in the lead-up to the Acacian Schism (484-519) between Rome and Constantinople the Emperor Zeno (474-491) revived Canon 28 on his own authority, and this was one of the many causes of Rome’s break with, and excommunication of, the Constantinopolitan patriarch some years later. Rome refused to accept the canon and Constantinople refused to repudiate it, even after the reconciliation of Rome and Constantinople in 519. The canon formed one of many of the subjects of discussion between Pope Constantine (708-715) and the Emperor Justinian II (685-695, 705-711) when the latter visited Constantinople in 710-11, but if (as some chroniclers report) the pope agreed to accept it, he never did so after his return to Italy, and only at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 did the West accept it, while a the same time insisting that it dealt with only the “honor” to be attributed to the bishops of Constantinople-Alexandria-Antioch-Jerusalem and not any “authority” unique to them.

  12. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    I have seen pictures or videos where the Pope of Rome, when greeting a Eastern Rite Catholic Patriarch or Orthodox Catholic Patriarch they greet as equals. Whereas in the Latin Rite Church wouldn’t most, if not all bishops of this rite, greet the Pope by venerating his ring and genuflecting? It seems it is customary for the “Patriarch of Rome” to greet other Patriarchs as equals.

  13. Oneros says:

    “The title ‘Patriarch of the West’ wasn’t an issue, was it? There was no fuss about it, no known complaint. So I can’t understand the necessity of the move for the advancement of ecumenical dialogue.”

    To be honest, the whole baffling move sounds like it was the pet project of some curial official (the Pope himself even, perhaps) based on their own particular individual theological outlook rather than just accepting the tradition of the Church. Like all the changes they made in the liturgy to reflect a new theological outlook. When will these men realize that you can’t tinker with these things to make them better match your own notions and musings?

    “In any event, the title ‘Patriarch of the West’ was merely a symbolic title indicating the Supreme Pontiff’s role as leader of the Latin Church.”

    That’s the thing though, I don’t think it was symbolic at all. It is a very practical reality. Like the other Patriarchs, the Pope is the head of his Rite. Liturgical decisions he makes about the Latin Rite…apply to the Latin Rite, not the Eastern, as a matter of course. Sure, he could invoke his reserve powers as head of the universal church to meddle in Eastern liturgy too…but that would rightly be considered extremely offensive unless there was an absolutely extraordinary situation requiring it.

    So he dropped the title…but the principle remains: he has a closer relationship, administratively (especially when it comes to liturgy) with the Latin West than he does with the rest of the Church. Just as he has a special relationship to Italy, to the Roman metropolitan province, to the diocese of Rome, and to the parish of St John Lateran.

    “the Latin Church, unlike the Eastern Churches, never had a Government distinct from the Supreme Government of the Church universal.”

    Well, yes and no. I mean…would you consider the parish of St John Lateran or the diocese of Rome to have no administration separate from the Supreme Government of the Church Universal?? Theoretically, they too are just part of the series of “concentric circles” of authority centered around the Pope. And, heck, Italy as a nation (of which the Pope is Primate) was recently given a separate government in the form of an episcopal conference.

    We CAN abstract what the Pope does AS Bishop of Rome from what he does AS Pope qua Pope. And, likewise, we can abstract what he does AS head of the Latin West only, from what he does AS Head of the Universal Church.

    Frankly, it would be most helpful for ecumenism to make that distinction. To say, “Most of the Curial functions are really organs of the Latin Church only, not the Universal Church” might really help reassure the Orthodox vis-a-vis Roman over-centralization. That such micromanaging is a manifestation of local authority, not universal authority (ie, this is a State’s Rights vs Federal Power question).

    To make this clear, most of the curial departments could become the “vicariate of the Latin West” or something headed by some Cardinal, and the Pope’s office as Universal Head would be parred down to just the Secretariat of State, the Holy Office, some sort of “intra-church relations” department consisting of the Emissaries of the other Patriarchs and sui juris Metropolitans (and, in turn, the Pope’s emissaries to them), and the Supreme canonical Tribunals of Appeal.

    Everything else (including the tribunals which apply to only Western canon law, etc) would be understood to be Western institutional organs only, not Universal. If this Pope was serious about ecumenism with the Orthodox, THAT is what he’d do.

    Then he’d make it clear that, though he maintains the theoretical “reserve powers” to use his supremacy of jurisdiction to make extraordinary interventions anywhere in the universal church…for the most part he would only dare get involved in situations on a subsidiary basis (ie, when there is no lesser authority with jurisdiction over the entire area or group in question).

    Meaning, he would only meddle in the East if there were a case that had a disparity of jurisdiction involving both East and West, if there were a conflict between, say, an Eastern and Western diocese that needed resolving.

    If it were between two different Eastern patriarchates, it is debatable how it would be resolved. The Pope might step in as the only common authority between the two, that’s one way. Or the East might still wish to treat such things as an internal Eastern matter and have some method for resolving it without invoking the Universal authority (ie, a synod of all Eastern churches voting, or giving Constantinople the final say, or submitting to the arbitration of a neutral patriarch, etc)

    “Popes always ruled the Latin Church in virtue of the Supreme Authority possessed over the Church, not in virtue of the title ‘patriarch of the West’.”

    That may have been the idea, but it is a very offensive one to the Eastern Churches.

    As it basically suggests that the Latin Church is the “default” church in the Universal Church, and that the other (ie, Eastern) churches are just exceptions, self-governing enclaves carved out like “Autonomous Regions” in some countries, but not on equal footing with the Latin West.

    That certain administrative tasks (ie, determining the liturgy, appointing the bishops, etc) naturally fall under the authority of the Pope UNLESS a church is exempted from such direct administration by being given a patriarch; but only under the tacit approval of the Pope, and with all such more local authority merely derivative of his.

    But, this is a highly novel idea and highly offensive. It destroys the notion of Subsidiarity in the Church. And Vatican II made clear, the bishops are NOT merely vicars or managers of the Pope in their dioceses, but rule as Ordinaries with a legitimacy and sovereignty that is all their own, not merely derived from his. And so do the patriarchs over their ritual churches.

    Though the rank of Patriarch was not (like bishop and Pope) part of the deposit of Faith…nevertheless, it is debatable whether their “mid-level” authority (lying somewhere between local dioceses and Universal Church) is derived from the local bishops (ie, bottom-up) or derived from the universal authority in the Church (ie, top-down).

    The question has never been answered, though it is closely related to the question of the authority of an ecumenical council (and, interestingly, it was Councils that created the patriarchates) and the complex interaction therein between the universal authority and the college of local authorities.

    The removal of the title “Patriarch of the West” suggests a view that the Patriarchs authority over groups of local bishops is merely “top-down” created, and therefore ultimately just derivative of a Pope who has default authority over any local churches not exempt from it by being assigned to one of the Patriarchs. The Orthodox will never accept such an ecclesiology (nor should they).

    “Also, when they wished to gather a Synod, they never summoned a particular Synod of the Latin Church, but always summoned an Ecumenical Council instead.”

    Yes, and this is another area where fruitful ecumenical distinctions might be drawn. If we could go back through history and determine which decrees of Councils were given in their authority AS universal councils, and which were merely given by the subset of Latin Rite bishops in their authority AS a Latin Rite synod…we might find some interesting things.

    For example, as you describe, it’s obvious to me that liturgical decrees that addressed the Latin Liturgy (like Sacrosanctum Consilium) were not decrees of an ecumenical council strictly so called, but rather of a Latin Rite Synod that happened to coincide with the ecumenical council (since it was a convenient time for all those bishops to meet). But, obviously, such liturgical decrees were directed at the Latin Church only, not the universal church.

    You also fail to mention that the earliest councils, which were in the East…did also tend to coincide with more local functions too, and to issue decrees not just AS ecumenical councils, but also decrees seemingly as a sort of a Pan-Eastern synod, involving disciplinary matters that clearly weren’t intended to apply to the West.

  14. AAJD says:

    I’ve dealt with this question in a chapter of my forthcoming book, *Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy: Ut Unum Sint and the Prospects of East-West Unity*, forthcoming from the Un. of Notre Dame Press in December. There I document the history of the PofW title, Ratzinger’s reflections, beginning in the 1960s down to the present (and dozens of others–Congar, et al) on it, and the likely rationale for this decision and its implications.

    A commentator above wrote that “Also, when they wished to gather a Synod, they never summoned a particular Synod of the Latin Church, but always summoned an Ecumenical Council instead.” And: “…no particular synod of the Latin Church ever existed.” Both claims are demonstrably false, as I show in the above-named book. The evidence for particular synods precisely in and for the Latin Church is overwhelming; and the evidence for synods of even greater particularity–in Arles, e.g., or Venice, or north Africa, is equally undeniable. The idea that the pope only every called ecumenical councils is ludicrous, even within living memory: the late John XXIII himself called synods in and for his local Church at the same time as announcing Vatican II.
    –Dr. Adam DeVille

  15. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    “Popes always ruled the Latin Church in virtue of the Supreme Authority possessed over the Church, not in virtue of the title ‘patriarch of the West’.”

    That may have been the idea, but it is a very offensive one to the Eastern Churches.

    I couldn’t agree more Oneros.

  16. chonak says:

    The suggestion that Constantinople could settle disputes among the Eastern Churches may seem natural to Orthodox, but is there reason for the non-Byzantine Eastern Churches (Armenian, Alexandrian, Syriac…) to recognize such a role?

  17. Traductora says:

    We should look less at the title “Patriarch” and more at the title “Basilica.” Basilica comes from the Greek word meaning noble or royal, and referred to a building where the Emperor held court and then, in Rome, to an important public building or forum. When the Church adopted some of this symbolism, it began to refer to a building associated with the functions of the bishop (buildings now generally described by the word “cathedral”) or the Pope as basilicas, and the Pope was the person who designated them. The title was originally practical, and then became honorary and now the pope can designate churches as basilicas (the minor basilicas, of which there are 62 or 63 in the US) as an honor, even if neither he nor any bishop regularly uses them. Those churches get certain privileges.

    The major basilicas that are directly related to the Pope in Rome were referred to as papal basilicas in the past, and I think all he is doing is taking back this term. Patriarch of the West is not synonymous with “pope” and is an unclear term even though it has been used off and on from antiquity. However, making the Pope the Patriarch of the West also limits him. Supposing, someday, the East and West reunite and the Pope is from one of the Eastern Churches?

  18. Oneros says:

    “The suggestion that Constantinople could settle disputes among the Eastern Churches may seem natural to Orthodox, but is there reason for the non-Byzantine Eastern Churches (Armenian, Alexandrian, Syriac…) to recognize such a role?”

    Well, like I said, the East could decide how it would work. It might, in fact, end up being best that any conflict “crossing patriarchal lines” would be referred directly to the Pope as the only remaining higher authority.

  19. Oneros says:

    “However, making the Pope the Patriarch of the West also limits him. Supposing, someday, the East and West reunite and the Pope is from one of the Eastern Churches?”

    It limits him no more than “bishop of Rome” limits him. The Pope becomes bishop of Rome upon his election, even if he isn’t Roman. Likewise, any Easterner elected Pope would become Patriarch of the Latin Rite by definition. As bishop of Rome, they’d use the Roman liturgy and undertake the Pope’s special relationship to the Latin Rite.

  20. Oneros says:

    I would also like to say that the change to “Papal Basilicas” is a totally separate question, and does make potential sense ecumenically.

    Because it was not, in fact, the Eastern Patriarchs (Catholic or otherwise) who were assigned the basilicas in Rome. It was the ceremonial LATIN RITE “patriarchs” of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, etc…from the disgraceful era of the Fourth Crusade…who were assigned to these basilicas (seeing as they became merely ornaments of the Papal Court, and resided at Rome). As these Latin Rite ceremonial eastern patriarchs were thankfully abolished as horribly offensive, the reversion to Papal Basilicas (ie Major Basilicas) makes sense.

    Though…retaining the connection to the traditional Patriarchal Sees could still be maintained, and if there ever was a reunion, the actual EASTERN patriarchs (as opposed to those awful Latin Rite ceremonial crusade patriarchs) could be assigned those basilicas as their personal church in Rome, their emissary to the papal court could live there, etc. Perhaps the Pope and his emissary, in turn, would be assigned a church at their court.

    In general, I think they need to re-examine the honorifics regarding basilicas, monsignors, etc…and get back to some sort of functional coherency (even if rarely used) rather than the meaningless multiplication of such things that happened later in history.

  21. Oleksander says:

    patriarch of the west was a modern title, only added to the roman year book sometime 19th century, though like mentioned one pope used it like once

    (im eastern catholic)

    dropping it, like dropping the tiara and territorial authority (no longer monarch of central italy), really is a return to earlier times

  22. Traductora says:

    Patriarch of the West is a more limiting term than Bishop of Rome, because the latter only describes a function with historical roots. I think this is why he is dispensing with the former title.

    Rome has always been the heart of the West and calling the Pope the “Patriarch of the West” is unnecessary and limits him. There is no “Patriarch of the East,” although Constantinople has always held that position.

    Constantinople is now known as Istanbul and is completely under the Islamic thumb to the extent that you can only see the glorious mosaics at the Hagia Sophia by peering into a small hole in the plaster with with the Muslims covered them. The East fell to Islam because it had separated from Rome. We need to have a Pope, not a geographical patriarch.

  23. Archicantor says:

    If I remember correctly, Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) flagged this issue in a recent lecture on the Ravenna Agreed Statement (produced by the ongoing Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue). The lecture can be watched in full at Orientale Lumen Television (and it’s wonderful: do watch it). He noted, with characteristic humour, that this was a perplexing move on Pope Benedict’s part, because the Ravenna statement formally acknowledges three levels of primacy: local (bishop), regional (patriarch), and universal (pope). The Orthodox would, I gather, prefer to see many of the pope’s administrative/juridical prerogatives as exercised in his capacity as Patriarch of the West.

    Dare I suggest that a rejection of patriarchal governance as “late” (post-Constantinian) could raise the spectre of a kind of “Novus Ordo” ecclesiology? Bugnini, after all, was interested in exhuming “early” liturgical models (Hippolytus, etc.). You know, the hermeneutic of rupture and all that… I suspect that for Papa Ratzinger there’s more to it than chronology.

  24. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    Traductora,

    Constantinople fell to the Turks because of the shameful fourth crusade which weakened that once great city to a point of no return.

    The Pope in actuality should be the “Patriarch of Rome,” because that is what he is.

    Your insult towards my Patriarch, and the struggle of martyrdom which still goes on there daily for the remaining Christians is very uncharitable. His All Holiness Bartholomew is far more then a “geographical patriarch.”

  25. terryprest says:

    According to the Vatican website at http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/general-docs/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_20060322_patriarca-occidente_fr.html

    the title of “Patriarch of the West” was only revived by Pius IX in 1863. Does anyone know why the title was revived ? Was it a reaction to being excluded from the Pentarchy in 1847 ?

  26. Oleksander says:

    the “pentarchy” has not existed in its fullest since the council of chalcedon (450s) Alexandria went into schism (there was an imperial rump bishop put in place, which is now the greek orthodox patriarch of alexandria)

    by the next century half of the church of antioch was also in schism

    and to begin with originally (council of nicea 325ad) it was Rome, Alexandria, Antioch (the Petrine sees) and these were declared “metropolitan sees”

    patriarchate thing came later, when Catholicism was further integrated with the Roman Empire that the so called “pentarchy” was made formal with the Quinisext Council of 692ad, though Constantinople (both religiously and secularly) controlled via appointments of bishops Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem.

    so the whole ancient 5 patriarchs thing is really moot to me, during Divine Liturgy (im greek catholic) prayers to John Chrysostom, ARCHBISHOP (not patriarch) of Constantinople are made

  27. vox borealis says:

    Subdeacon Joseph,

    I don’t have a strong opinion in the great patriarch debate. But really, I do have a hard time believing that Constantinople fell in 1453 as a direct result of the Fourth Crusade two and a half centuries earlier. If anything, one could argue that the crusaders successful (and certainly shameful) defeat of Constantinople was a symptom of the Byzantine Empire’s already weakened state, not its primary cause.

  28. Jordanes says:

    Oneros said: It was the ceremonial LATIN RITE “patriarchs” of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, etc…from the disgraceful era of the Fourth Crusade…who were assigned to these basilicas (seeing as they became merely ornaments of the Papal Court, and resided at Rome). As these Latin Rite ceremonial eastern patriarchs were thankfully abolished as horribly offensive, the reversion to Papal Basilicas (ie Major Basilicas) makes sense.

    Apart from the titular Latin Patriarchate of Alexandria and the eventually titular Latin Patriarchate of Constantinople, the four Latin Rite eastern patriarchates of Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Constantinople were never merely ceremonial. Furthermore, the Latin Patriarchate of Antioch was established at the time of the First Crusade, not the Fourth Crusade. The Latin patriarchates of Antioch and Alexandria were abolished in 1964, and the Latin patriarchate of Constantinople was abolished in 1965. The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem still exists and is certainly not merely ceremonial.

    All that said, I agree with your suggestion that the Eastern Rite Patriarchs should be granted the former patriarchal basilicas.

    Oleksander said: dropping it, like dropping the tiara and territorial authority (no longer monarch of central italy), really is a return to earlier times

    The Pope has not dropped territorial authority — by law he is the absolute monarchy of the sovereign Vatican City State. Nor did he “drop” the States of the Church — they were illegally seized from him by the House of Savoy with the assistance of Garibaldi, and only later did the Pope acquiesce to that theft.

    terryprest asked: Was it a reaction to being excluded from the Pentarchy in 1847?

    I would suspect not, since any such exclusion on the part of the Orthodox patriarchs would not be regarded as having any bearing on Catholic affairs.

  29. Francis says:

    Of course, these moves smack of modernist ecclesiology.Which thing really begun in 1870, if not before, with the wantonness/cupidity/megalogamania of one man who was against Tradition and which in turn was matched by his child in 1962-1965 by similar feelings and impulses of a larger number of degenerate men who at their consecration promised to pass on what they have received. Vatican I is logically followed by Vatican II- the former should be read in the context of the destruction of papal political power, while the latter in the culmination of unbelief among the episcopacy and a will to wipe out Tradition. No matter what Aquinas, Cajetan, Bellarmine have engraved in their sentences and summas, etc, and whatever servilely apologist doctors should ever write, the false a priori whereupon their defence of the petrine office(a correct view of which could be glimpsed and appreciated in title like “Patriarch of the West”) is based will not withstand the verdict of History. The very idea of papal infaillibility has nothing Traditional about it. The hermeneutic of continuity is not one within Tradition but one within self-inflected delusion. And with that mangling of rites that is boasted about as 1962 Liturgy how can they be seriously taken. Bugnini prepared the mindset long before the council.

  30. Oleksander says:

    Jordanes,

    Pope signed the treaty with the fascists forefetting (sp)the former pre-revolution territory, Vatican City exists to give us Catholics and our Popes independence from secular authorities… keep in mind papal states only existed because of the power vacuum that happened when the roman empire fell, the only authorities left was the Church (and the barbarian kings here and there that evolved into the medieval kingdoms we know of now

    St Clement pope of rome had no territorial authority or possessions (save the temples they worshiped in I suppose)

  31. Oleksander says:

    Jordanes,

    dont get me wrong i would took a train (or if in america took a ship) to join the papal zouaves to defend against the revolutionaries (espiecially if was 22 and unemployed, like i am now) to defend our holy church (along with the many other of my eastern catholics brothers did, maronites in particular)

    but i think things worked out for the better, papal states would not have survived, things turned out to our benefit with the lateran treaty

  32. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    Vox Borealis,

    Please refer to the prominent writings of medievalist scholar Steven Runciman. Arguably, his best known work is his three volume A History of the Crusades (1951-54). Sir Runciman was also the first in western academia to present an objective history of the Byzantine Empire. My above statement is based on his impeccable scholarship and research. Here is a list of all his writings:

    * The Emperor Romanus Lecapenus and His Reign (1929)
    * The First Bulgarian Empire (1930)
    * Byzantine Civilization (1933)
    * The Medieval Manichee : A Study of the Christian Dualist Heresy (1947)
    * A History of the Crusades: Volume 1, The First Crusade and the Foundation of the Kingdom of Jerusalem (Cambridge University Press 1951) (Folio Society edition 1994)
    * A History of the Crusades: Volume 2, The Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Frankish East (Cambridge University Press 1952) (Folio Society edition 1994)
    * A History of the Crusades: Volume 3, The Kingdom of Acre and the Later Crusades (Cambridge University Press 1954) (Folio Society edition 1994)
    * The Eastern Schism: A Study of the Papacy and the Eastern Churches in XIth and XIIth Centuries (1953)
    * The Sicilian Vespers: A History of the Mediterranean World in the Later Thirteenth Century (1958)
    * The White Rajahs (1960)
    * The Fall of Constantinople 1453 (1965)
    * The Great Church in Captivity (1968)
    * The Last Byzantine Renaissance (1970)
    * The Orthodox Churches and the Secular State (1972)
    * Byzantine Style and Civilization (1975)
    * The Byzantine Theocracy (1977)
    * Mistra: Byzantine Capital of the Peloponnese (1980) (2009 reprint: The Lost Capital of Byzantium: The History of Mistra and the Peloponnese; New foreword by John Freely.)
    * Patriarch Jeremias II and the Patriarchate of Moscow (1985)
    * A Traveller’s Alphabet.Partial Memoirs. (1991)

  33. Oleksander says:

    i really dont see what big deal is, russians killed and imprison my family during revolution and later world war 2 by russian nkvd and later post war by russian church liquidating my own, my distant family in 19th century also suffered under (eastern orthodox) russian tsarist forces…

    but i dont hate russians or the russian orthodox church! i dont even dislike them!

    it is beyond me how a son can be blamed for his fathers sins (or in the 4th crusade sack of istabul’s case greatx15 father’s sins [spiritual fathers at that!])

  34. Prof. Basto says:

    We CAN abstract what the Pope does AS Bishop of Rome from what he does AS Pope qua Pope. And, likewise, we can abstract what he does AS head of the Latin West only, from what he does AS Head of the Universal Church.

    I’m not sure about that.

    Firstly, the Pope is only head of the Church universal because he is bishop of Rome. There are not two offices, one of bishop of Rome, and another of Pope. Bishop of Rome and Pope is one and the same thing.

    The Pope could not decide to not be bishop of Rome. His office is that of Bishop of Rome. In that office he is Successor of Peter, who was martyred in Rome, in the Vatican hill. Because a man is bishop of Rome he is Successor of Peter and thereby acquires the fullness of Peter’s office, including Peter’s primacy over the Church universal.

    Secondly, I don’t think you can absract what the Pope does qua Supreme Pastor (discharging the Petrine Ministry of Supreme Authority over the Church universal) from what he does qua head of the Latin Church (under the former title “Patriarch of the West”) if, whenever synodical decisions where made regarding the Latin Church they were made by an Ecumenical Council and not by a particular Latin Church synod. The Eastern Fathers, after all, had a deliberative vote in the reform of the Roman Rite (the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy was voted by them as Fathers of the Ecumenical Synod).

    There was never a history of autonomous institutions of the Latin Church vis-à-vis the Supreme Authority. Instead, the Supreme Authority governed the Latin Church directly.

  35. Prof. Basto says:

    Then he’d make it clear that, though he maintains the theoretical “reserve powers” to use his supremacy of jurisdiction to make extraordinary interventions anywhere in the universal church…for the most part he would only dare get involved in situations on a subsidiary basis (ie, when there is no lesser authority with jurisdiction over the entire area or group in question).

    Meaning, he would only meddle in the East if there were a case that had a disparity of jurisdiction involving both East and West, if there were a conflict between, say, an Eastern and Western diocese that needed resolving.

    If it were between two different Eastern patriarchates, it is debatable how it would be resolved. The Pope might step in as the only common authority between the two, that’s one way. Or the East might still wish to treat such things as an internal Eastern matter and have some method for resolving it without invoking the Universal authority (ie, a synod of all Eastern churches voting, or giving Constantinople the final say, or submitting to the arbitration of a neutral patriarch, etc)

    I’m sorry to say, but that theory appears to me to be a quasi- negation of the doctrine regarding the NECESSITY of the Petrine Ministry as a Ministry of Teaching and Jurisdiction, and not just of honor, as defined by the First Vatican Council. It also appears in my view to contradict the constant practice of the Church regarding the exercise of that Supreme Authority

    The Church is NOT a federation. Errors in that regard were dealt with by the CDF in recent decades, with the express mention that the authority in the Church cannot be compared to a federal system. Thus, the Supreme Authority is not meant to discharge only rare “reserve powers” that would almost never be used. On the contrary, the Supreme Authority is meant to be ACTIVE in the promotion of the Truth and sound discipline, uniquely endowed as it is with the special charisms associated with the Petrine Ministry.

    Delegation of most authority over the Latin Church to a Vicar is also unthinkable, as the Pope, thanks to his graces of state, is better equipped than to make decisions regarding a ritual church that was always governed by Rome than any delegate.

    To sum up, there is no reason for the Pope to give in to Orthodox demands. The pentarchy, as a pentarchy of anything more than honour granted not by divine but by purely ecclesiastical law was always an Orthodox fabrication. The Orthodox, it must be said, have a WRONG understanding of ecclesiology, whereas the Roman Church, the mother and mistress of all Churches, teaches the Truth.Therefore, it is not the Church of Rome the one who must make concessions to the distorted Orthodox view. Instead, the Orthodox must submit to the true ecclesiology preached by the Holy Roman Church. Wether that is helpful regarding Ecumenical dialogue or not is a different matter, but Truth is above convenience.

  36. Geoffrey says:

    The title “Patriarch of the West” made the Bishop of Rome appear equal to the Patriarch of Constantinople, the Patriarch of Antioch, the Patriarch of Moscow, etc., which he is not. As the Bishop of Rome he is the Successor of Saint Peter, Prince of Apostles, and the Vicar of Christ — all patriarchs, bishops, priests, deacons, religious, and laity are subject to his supreme authority. Dropping the title makes his role as Supreme Pontiff clearer. In ecumenism, honesty on all sides is the first step.

    It makes complete sense for the “Pope of Christian Unity” to do this. Actually, I would list this act as the first “ecumenical” act for the “Pope of Christian Unity”.

  37. PaterAugustinus says:

    I think there are probably a few issues here.

    When it comes to the Orthodox, I think the hostile reaction to the titular change has been mostly irrational. I myself am Orthodox, so I hope nobody will think I am polemicizing against “the enemy.” Modern-day Orthodox Christians think of the Pope primarily as “Patriarch of the West,” and so the rejection of the title is interpreted by some as a rejection of the Orthodox position vis-a-vis the Papacy. This view of the Papacy, I think, comes from a modern Orthodox tendency to over-emphasize conciliarity, largely as an over-reaction to Primacy, even where Primacy is legitimate.

    But when push comes to shove, pure Orthodox theology does not only think of the Pope as “one Patriarch amongst Patriarchs.” We see in Rome the highest and most complete manifestation of Petrine Primacy. What is “Petrine Primacy” in Orthodox Ecclesiology?

    Following St. Cyprian of Carthage, and what we believe to be the consensus of Tradition, we do not hold that each bishop is a successor primarily to the bishop who founded his see, but rather, that each bishop is a successor to the unity of the Apostolic Choir, and to the one Throne of Peter. If bishops are sometimes spoken of as successors to their see’s founder, we do not take this to be a description of the ontological nature or genesis of their Apostolic succession.

    From there, we acknowledge how the Fathers repeatedly state that all the Apostles were what Peter himself was… but, that Peter was singled out so as to show forth the unity of the manifold Apostolic Choir. We therefore conceive of Petrine Primacy as the re-presentation of this Petrine function of leadership and coordination (“re-present” in the sense of recapitulation, manifestation, incarnation – just as the Mass “re-presents” the Sacrifice on Calvary), wherever it occurs, in a spectrum of Primatial offices. We do not think of Petrine Primacy as a direct succession from Peter, for the reasons I stated above.

    Yet, many Orthodox have resorted to emphasizing the unity of the Apostolic Choir (and the bishops’ succession thereto) with such force, that even legitimate primacy is surpressed. They affirm that all bishops are equals. They are right, but only to a point. Orthodoxy recognizes the equality of all bishops in terms of the ontological nature of the episcopacy. Yet, primacy is not therefore a purely “accidental” (as in “the opposite of ontological”) matter of Church discipline and canons, as some Orthodox are inclined to see it. Many elements of the exercise of primacy may be accidental and variable matters of practice – i.e., must every archbishop receive the Pallium/Patriarchal approval to exercise his office? Does the archbishop’s vote break a tie when the synod is split? etc. – but the presence of these accidental elements of Primacy, does not discard the ontological place of Primacy in the Church. Orthodoxy sees Primacy as an admixture of ontological and accidental elements. What is ontological, is that the Church is a communion of Churches, and that each Church is headed by a bishop whose episcopacy is, ontologically, the same episcopacy as every other bishop’s (hence, the Church is not a juridical hierarchy of episcopal administration, but a communion of equal sister-Churches). Yet, also ontological, is the fact that this communion of Churches should be manifestly united, and that this unity is manifested in the primacy of one bishop/Church amongst others. This happens on every level, from the local, to the regional, to the universal. Just as Peter was not “more Apostolic” than other Apostles, these hierarchs are not “more episcopal” than their brother bishops, and their Churches are not “more Catholic” than other Churches, let alone are they the predicators of Catholicity for other Churches (just as Peter was not the predicate of the other Apostles’ apostolicity). Catholicity subsists in the proper relation of Churches to the Primacy, and the Primacy’s possession of Catholicity in harmony with the sister-Churches.

    In fact, we almost have to reject Orthodox Bishop John Zizioulas’ staunch affirmation that every local Church is Catholic in and of herself, by the sole virtue of a valid episcopate in her one bishop. This could only be true, if it were impossible for that bishop to be in communion with sister Churches (either because he was the last bishop left, or he was unable to coordinate with them in times of persecution, etc.). A Church without some manifestation of Primacy would utterly fail to be truly Catholic, because the Catholic Church is Apostolic and the Apostolic Choir had a Primacy in Peter, the Apostolic Prince. The Apostles are the Churches fundament (with Christ as the Headstone of the Corner).

    So, since we see Petrine Primacy in the Church as the exercising of that kind of Primacy, which Peter had (and NOT as the personal primacy of Peter himself received by some kind of direct succession), we see the Petrine Primacy as existing in an archbishop, a metropolitan archbishop, a patriarch… and, indeed, as culminating in the Pope – whom we would reckon, in normal circumstances, as veritably the highest and most complete “icon” of the Petrine Primacy (remember what an icon is for the Orthodox). In the Pope of Rome, historically, all primacy is crowned and consummated (in terms of the Church’s episcopacy). He is not just one bishop amongst equal bishops (though he is that, too).

    The reason the Orthodox do not feel bound by the Papal Primacy at the present time, is because we do not, as I said, view the Primacy as one of juridical authority first and foremost (though we do admit that the Church may accord many juridical prerogatives to Primacy as a matter of changeable praxis). Any juridical prerogatives, however, are understood in the context of the ontological, and not the accidental, elements of Primacy. I.e., they are to be honored with all deference, except when grave circumstances call for opposition or protest – currently, Orthodox Christianity feels that such circumstances exist, and while we are sad to see that communion with Rome is broken, we do not see ourselves as bereft of Primacy, since we see the Primacy as subsisting on so many levels.

    For the time being, the Patriarch of Constantinople holds the supreme Primacy in the Orthodox Church… though, it should be pointed out that this does not mean that all the canonical and practical prerogatives of the erstwhile Roman Primacy have simply devolved upon the Constantinopolitan See for Orthodox Christianity. The current Constantinopolitan Primacy is subject to the already extant, customary prerogatives of Constantinople, and any others the Orthodox Church should care to accord it. Which, so far, have been non-existent. Constantinople’s primacy is expressed almost entirely in an honorific way, without juridical prerogatives amongst the other Patriarchates (beyond having the seat of honour in Council). He has not been accorded even the most basic privilege of the Roman Primacy – that of “last court of appeal” in super-Patriarchal-level disputes.

    Obviously, Catholicism and Orthodoxy disagree with each other on the nature of these matters at the present time – both the nature of Primacy and the nature of the schism dividing us. I don’t want to discuss all that here, obviously; I’m simply trying to give the Orthodox perspective, so that the Orthodox reaction to the Pope’s titular change can be understood.

    To bring things to the point, then: I think the Orthodox reaction to the title-change comes from two fountainheads. 1) The fact that many Orthodox Christians are perhaps not as clear on our theology of Primacy as they should be, and so they think that the only title (beyond “Bishop of Rome”) which we are happy to grant the Pope, is precisely “Patriarch of the West” (by which they mean “the Pope is the boss of his own Patriarchate, but otherwise equal in every respect to the other Patriarchs”). For these Orthodox Christians, the rejection of the title seems to be a break from the only role the Papacy could play in a reunified East and West. 2) Even amongst Orthodox who do know that the Pope is more than the Western Patriarch, who confess that he does have pre-eminence amongst the Patriarchs and should hold some sway over them, the title is still seen as an accurate description of one element of his office (he is Bishop of Rome, Primate of Italy, Patriarch of the West, and Pope of the Universal Church) – and so, the rejection of the title seems to be a rejection of what the Orthodox consider a legitimate element of the Papacy… which makes them hesitant about reunion with a Papacy, that seems not to understand itself.

    Believe it or not, the Orthodox hesitancy about reunion with the West is just as much about the aggregate perception of “lesser issues,” as it is about the big doctrines of the Papal Infallability, the Filioque, Immaculate Conception, etc. Especially since Vatican II, but going all the way back to Scholasticism and the Counter-Reformation, Orthodoxy observes what seems to us like a radical and widespread alteration of Christian piety and identity within Catholicism. We are reticent to reunite with a Catholicism experiencing widespread breakdowns in liturgical sensibilities, radical feminist nuns and even disbelief in fundamental doctrines (like the Real Presence). And, we know that many Catholics are trying to combat those things, and we are rooting for you all! But, even beyond these very modern problems, we are also concerned about things like the spirituality of the Spiritual Excercises (of Ignatius Loyola), the genesis and nature of the “Sacred Heart” devotion, even kneeling on Sundays and the celebration of “Low” masses, etc. – things, which even traditional Catholics would support, but which seem to us to indicate necessarily fundamental shifts in historic, Christian piety… not individually, of course, but in aggregate. Reunion for us wouldn’t involve merely clearing up the issue of the Pope’s authority, but the much more difficult matter of trying to figure out what makes the Catholicism “tick,” that could develop these devotions and attitudes. Do we simply misunderstand the spirit of Catholicism? Or, has there been a genuine breakdown in matters of historic, Apostolic piety? Can we unite with the spirituality of modern Catholicism, over and above mere agreement in dogmatic formulae? In this context, the Pope’s omission of what we consider to be a very legitimate and historically important title, simply enhances our feeling that Catholicism is struggling with a major identity crisis, in the long process of forgetting herself. If that’s the case, this is not a good time for reunion – though, it is always a good time for honest, sober and well-intentioned dialogue.

    I hope y’all can understand this as the expression of (one) Orthodox opinion, and know that it is not meant in an hostile or polemical spirit. In point of fact, modern-day Orthodoxy is also forgetting herself, fairly frequently. So, there is ground for concern, all-around. And our God is good, so there is also ample ground for hope!

    For my part, I don’t think the Pope was trying to push a message of subjugation to the other Patriarchs. I know that conciliarity and reconciliation is dear to this Pope’s heart, above all with the Orthodox Churches. It seems to me that this was more a fraternal gesture to the bishops of Catholicism – an attempt to affirm the confidence in the local churches’ episcopal conferences, by downplaying the Pope’s role as “Patriarch of the West.” Perhaps he even wanted to distance the Papacy from a term, which in modernist circles is especially vilified (who hasn’t hear radicals rant against “the Patriarchy?”). Probably much of the Orthodox reaction was not anticipated, and I don’t think he even had us in mind when he made the decision.

    Of course, I could be wrong; I haven’t followed the politics well, nor the Pope’s own expressions of the rationale for the change. Mostly, I just hope I illustrated the context, of how his decision has been perceived by the Orthodox… most of whom are similarly unaware of any personal statement of the Pope, regarding the rationale for the change in title.

  38. Garth says:

    I for one want to thank you, PaterAugustinus, for such an irenic and enlightening post. Much to ponder here.

    It is rare to see such issues discussed in such a charitable and clear manner.

    I note regarding my reply that I make no claims to scholarship on any of these issues; I’m a very ordinary layman of no particular training.

    I have to confess (I’m a Latin Rite Catholic) that I don’t “get” the Sacred Heart devotion myself. I have nothing against it, it just doesn’t speak to me at all at this time. And so I don’t practice it; there are many other worthy devotions, and nobody could possibly practice them all.

    But when it comes to things like kneeling on Sunday… I must say that Orthodox disquiet on such issues seems to me to often come across as, “You have to be Eastern to be really Christian.” (You see this in the azymes controversy as well, which I have never been able to wrap my mind around.) The Latin Rite has its own identity; if it were exactly like an Eastern rite it would in fact be an Eastern rite. Perhaps I’m wrong, but wouldn’t it be surprising if there really weren’t anything that seemed different?

    So far as I can see, kneeling has one possible meaning to Eastern sensibilities, and two possible meanings to Western ones. Obviously if it meant solely the same thing to us that it means to you, we wouldn’t do it during the Sunday liturgy.

    Does this Western perception of kneeling stem back to the Apostles? I haven’t the learning to say, but there are passages in the Scriptures which seem to me to speak directly and powerfully to that perception. And beyond my own flawed perceptions, I trust the Church. My Mother is not going to feed me poison.

    I really liked what you said about the different churches forgetting themselves in different ways. I see this happening as well, though perhaps we wouldn’t agree on all the particulars. But I trust the Holy Spirit never to let us forget ourselves entirely.

    It is in part precisely because the East and West don’t forget ourselves in the same way at the same time that we need each other. I pray that our common Lord makes us one soon! I have no idea what that will look like, and I suspect that nobody does – that everybody will be amazed when it does happen. Our God is very fond of surprises!

  39. Oneros says:

    “Firstly, the Pope is only head of the Church universal because he is bishop of Rome. There are not two offices, one of bishop of Rome, and another of Pope. Bishop of Rome and Pope is one and the same thing.”

    Yes and no. The Pope has more specific responsibilities over the Romans as their local Ordinary that he doesn’t have with people in other dioceses.

    “whenever synodical decisions where made regarding the Latin Church they were made by an Ecumenical Council and not by a particular Latin Church synod. The Eastern Fathers, after all, had a deliberative vote in the reform of the Roman Rite (the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy was voted by them as Fathers of the Ecumenical Synod).”

    This is a historical aberration related to the fact that, since 1054, the Catholic Church has numerically largely coincided with the Latin Rite to the point of confusing the two. But this is a confusion, not reality. If we really want to help ecumenism with the Orthodox, THIS is the distinction that needs to start to be made.

    And besides, as I said and as others have pointed out, your observation isn’t even historical honest. In the early ecumenical councils…it was actually the East which was largely represented (sometimes the West sent no one except the Papal Legate!) and, on disciplinary matters, they then also sometimes functioned as Pan-EASTERN Synods, in addition to their Universal role as ecumenical council.

    “There was never a history of autonomous institutions of the Latin Church vis-à-vis the Supreme Authority.”

    The distinction may not be spoken of explicitly, but it’s there. The liturgical decisions that apply only the Latin Rite, the appointment of bishops for the Latin Church, the separate Code of Canon Law for the West, etc, are all indicative of it.

    “I’m sorry to say, but that theory appears to me to be a quasi- negation of the doctrine regarding the NECESSITY of the Petrine Ministry as a Ministry of Teaching and Jurisdiction, and not just of honor, as defined by the First Vatican Council. It also appears in my view to contradict the constant practice of the Church regarding the exercise of that Supreme Authority”

    I doesn’t contradict the teachings. It admits the Pope could, in extraordinary situations, make an intervention anywhere in the Universal Church.

    It merely means that, in general, outside such emergencies, the Pope should implicitly agree act with Subsidiarity as regards his authority, and in practice only intervene when either the parties involved ask him to, or when there is no more local level of authority which has jurisdiction over all people or areas involved (ie, when there is an issue which “crosses state lines,” or, in this case, patriarchate lines).

    It does not contradict the constant practice of the Church, merely the more recent practice. In the early Church, the Pope was much less micromanaging and hands-on and respected subsidiary authority more. I’m not saying their isn’t flexibility in the Church’s constitution regarding this…but it’s like the Federal vs State issue in the US constitution. How much the federal government should take on and how much the states should…is a prudential question and up for debate. I don’t think anyone would deny that the Federal government is supreme and that it CAN legally do many of the things it does. But might it not be more prudent to leave more to the individual States? Yes, it would be.

    I’m always surprised to see how conservative Catholics push local subsidiary when it comes to national government, but then are all very pro-big-central-government when it comes to the government of the Church.

    “the express mention that the authority in the Church cannot be compared to a federal system.”

    That’s not a declaration they can really make (even if they did try) because it’s merely an analogy, and the validity of analogies depend on which elements are being compared to which elements. There are wrong ways of comparing the Church to a federation to be sure, but there are also potentially correct ways.

    I’m not saying the Church is exactly like the United States or that the relationship between local churches and Universal Church is exactly like the relationship between state and federal government. Obviously, one huge difference is that Rome itself is ALSO a local church; as reflector was describing Ratzinger’s thoughts on the matter, rather than being a “two tiered” system of authority…Rome is rather the local church which provides the reference point of catholicity for the other local churches.

    I think what I and the Orthodox are proposing is an ecclesiology of COMMUNION, not federation (though that doesnt mean a federation can’t provide some demonstrative practical examples).

    “the Supreme Authority is meant to be ACTIVE in the promotion of the Truth and sound discipline, uniquely endowed as it is with the special charisms associated with the Petrine Ministry.”

    His greatest duty in this regard is to defend the local bishops in their own sovereignty. Not to override or supercede it, except in extraordinary cases. To build-up and support their own Ordinary local jurisdiction, not to treat them as essentially just his vicar in the dioceses.

    “Delegation of most authority over the Latin Church to a Vicar is also unthinkable, as the Pope, thanks to his graces of state, is better equipped than to make decisions regarding a ritual church that was always governed by Rome than any delegate.”

    He already delegates most functions of the Diocese of Rome to a vicar, though he is still Bishop of Rome. And much of the work for the Latin Rite is already handled by curial officials and such while the Pope concentrates on more Universal questions (though, without a large East in the Church currently, the lines often get blurred, unfortunately). Likewise, most bishops appoint a Rector or “people’s pastor” to run their Cathedral (even though that is technically the bishop’s parish).

    I’m not saying he wouldn’t be involved. In practice he would probably be involved as much as he is now. Just that a distinction would be made for clarity’s sake (especially vis a vis the East).

    “The pentarchy, as a pentarchy of anything more than honour granted not by divine but by purely ecclesiastical law was always an Orthodox fabrication.”

    The pentarchy, maybe, but regional levels of primacy…no. Primacy as such is part of the divine constitution of the Church. No one is saying there have to be specifically FIVE patriarchs. Obviously, the Orthodox have created more. As have the Eastern Catholics. Though, for historical reasons, we could call those five “major” and the others “minor” as is done in the Eastern Catholic system.

    Though, there is some confusion here too. In the Catholic understanding, a patriarch is taken to be the ranking Metropolitan out of all the sui juris churches of a given Rite. So there is only one patriarch per Rite. Rome for the Latin, Alexandria for the Coptic, Antioch for the West Syrian, Babylon (minor) for the East Syrian, Cilicia (minor) for the Armenian, Antioch again for the Maronites (perhaps they could be given Jerusalem instead to reduce the redundancy, seeing as Jerusalem has no other Rite centered on it), Antioch again for the Byzantines (seeing as the Melkites are the current ranking Byzantine Catholic church). Though I have to think that, if Constantinople were to reunite, it would obviously become the ranking church (and thus the patriarchal one) among the Byzantines instead of Antioch-of-the-Melkites.

    There is a logic to this system: one patriarch per Rite, the other sui juris churches using a Rite having merely metropolitans. Of course, Moscow would require that it’s Patriarchate be recognized, but that isn’t really a problem as “Byzantine Greek” and “Byzantine Slav” are sometimes recognized as two separate Rites (the Ukrainian Catholic Church seems to be the unofficial ranking church of the Byzantine Slavs among the Catholics, but I dont think it is politically expedient to recognize this with the official patriarchal title, seeing as Moscow would have the claim in the case of reunion).

    The Eastern Orthodox, of course, do not view patriarchy as connected to precedence within a Rite like this as much, but more as related to autocephaly. And hence they also have patriarchs of Bulgaria, Serbia, Georgia, and Romania, even though those churches are all also of Byzantine rite. In the Catholic understanding, these might be seen as more like “Arch-Primates” though I dont think anyone would ask them to give up their patriarchal insignia or titles or precedence; after all, the West grants such things to patriarchs at Venice, Lisbon, Goa, Jerusalem, etc. even though they arent the head of their Rite.

  40. Joe in Canada says:

    This has been very enlightening. I appreciate what Prof. Basto has pointed out re the fact that the Latin Church has always been directly run by the Apostolic Authority.
    I wonder though if that cannot be understood as an artefact of history. If I understand ecclesiology, the Pope has immediate jurisdiction over every soul, but this is exercised differently for a soul in an Eastern Church and a soul in the West. I think it would be useful if the title Patriarch of the West could indicate when the Holy Father is dealing only with issues of the West. Then questions like Holy Ecumenical Councils dealing with Western liturgical matters could be handled differently.

    If I remember correctly the Council of Florence dealt with “sisters” but the Union of Brest-Litovsk 150 years later talked about “children”. The schism of the East in a sense left the Pope alone with the West where the title Patriarch was unnecessary. I don’t think it is necessary but eliminating it removes a useful term in developing ecclesiology.

  41. Roland de Chanson says:

    I recall that when this title was abrogated, an Orthodox friend asked quizzically when the Pope would stop claiming to be “Principis Apostolorum Successor” and “Vicarius Christi.” He had no problem with “Servus servorum Dei.” Titulis fit invidia.

    Concerning titles of jurisdiction, a similar question might be raised concerning the title “Oecumenical Patriarch.” That the Patriarch of Constantinople governs an even smaller acreage than the Bishop of Rome, how can that title be understood in today’s world? As a primacy of honor certainly; but that is a mere figurehead — and one financed primarily by Moscow. A hostile non-Christian government holds the Patriarch in bondage: he has no rights to select his own successor unless he is a Turkish citizen; he cannot even operate his own seminary. With the fast vanishing demographic of Turkish-born Greek Orthodox monks, what is to become of the Patriarchate? I like to think Benedict whispered a private prayer for the Patriarch in the desecrated Hagia Sophia.

    Beyond that, should reunion of the Churches somehow be effected, the entire Orthodox taxonomy of “autocephalous” and “autonomous” churches would be an administrative nightmare to a Curia ill-equipped to govern its own renegade national bishops conferences and “schismatic” traditional groups. But I think that reunion is a pipedream; perhaps some form of “intercommunion”, though even this is currently unacceptable to the Orthodox.

    These issues, as PaterAugustinus points out, are more prickly than the essential theological or liturgical or disciplinary ones. “Filioque” is not a dogma; Infallibility and the Immaculate Conception with its implication of a radically different interpretation of Original Sin, are stumbling blocks. Here I find that the Orthodox contention that not every tradition needs to be defined with Ockham’s surgical scalpel more salubriously Hippocratic: primum non nocere.

    But to come back to our sheep, it would appear that in this case the “Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church” may have inadvertently razed a bridge rather than built one.

  42. Oneros says:

    I also really want to thank PaterAugstinus for the enlightening and level-headed presentation of Orthodox thought. I may cite this. I think you’d make a good member of the ecumenical dialogue committee! Frankly, as a Catholic…I don’t really see anything objectionable about those notions of Primacy and could see (understood in a certain way) accepting such a description as valid and non-contradictory of our teachings.

    I will say however that one big problem is still the Orthodox telling the Catholics what the Catholics believe. For example, I’ve talked with Orthodox about the Original Sin/Ancestral Sin question…and told them that I think their description is totally good and that Catholics would have no problem agreeing with it and see it as complementary to (not contradictory of) our language on the matter. But then the Orthodox turn around and insist that we teach all sorts of things about it (like that original sin means personal guilt, or that Mary’s Immaculate Conception meant that she had no freedom to sin, etc) that we don’t. And we try to tell them, “no, that’s not what we believe” and they have the audacity to tell US what WE believe! Well, it’s hard for us to dialogue if the Orthodox insist we teach something that we do not, in fact, teach, due to their own intra-church propoganda against us.

    You state we currently disagree on your description of Primacy, but I’m actually not sure we do! Obviously, there are some practical attitudes toward the papacy (ultramontane, hyper-centralized, monarchical, authoritarian, etc) among many Western Catholics currently which are still very problematic…but in terms of actual doctrine in the abstract, I think that there would ultimately be little problem with accepting the vision you’ve described on the Catholic side, as long as you’d also recognize the West’s right to keep among ourselves our historical description, which might emphasize different things (such as the question of jurisdiction, etc) but which is ultimately complementary, not contradictory.

    The same truth can be spoken in both Latin and Greek, with different words and possibly emphases, but ultimately the same meaning. The East may not like the West’s traditional “justice/legal” analogy for speaking about religious matters, but no one is forcing them to use it instead of their “love/medicinal” analogy. As long as we can map out how the two are equivalent (and I am convinced they are), they can be recognized as complementary, not contradictory.

    I do also have to agree with Garth that many of the “little” disciplinary things described…are just that. The Latins have a different culture than the East with different meanings for potentially the same gestures, no one is trying to force the Sacred Heart or Sunday Kneeling on you. The West is more than willing to tolerate such differences and recognize the East’s own practices as valid.

  43. Oneros says:

    “Beyond that, should reunion of the Churches somehow be effected, the entire Orthodox taxonomy of “autocephalous” and “autonomous” churches would be an administrative nightmare to a Curia ill-equipped to govern its own renegade national bishops conferences and “schismatic” traditional groups. But I think that reunion is a pipedream; perhaps some form of “intercommunion”, though even this is currently unacceptable to the Orthodox.”

    I don’t see any difference between intercommunion and “reunion.”

    You seem to be imagining that “reunion” would involve integrating the Eastern Churches into the administrative structures of the Western Vatican curial system…but that’s totally unnecessary.

    If we could clear up a few semantical issues surrounding certain doctrines, and reach an accord on how to handle overlapping ritual-church jurisdictions…then the East could continue operating, on a practical administrative level, pretty much exactly as they do today.

    Except the Pope would exist as a useful court of last appeal and might occasionally step in if there were a real emergency or a conflict between two disparate patriarchal jurisdictions. And I’d think this could be helpful given some of the bitter conflicts between different Orthodox patriarchs over jurisdictional questions, with no ultimate authority to ask to arbitrate them.

    Reunion with the Orthodox would be as easy as the Pope getting together with their Patriarchs, agreeing that our doctrines (though parsed in different philosophical frameworks) are ultimately equivalent expressions of the same truth (this is really the hard part that we’re still working on figuring out), and then all exchanging letters of intercommunion and mutual emissaries, and starting to speak of the Church as one thing.

    There is absolutely no need to try to consolidate the different institutional organs or structures.

  44. Prof. Basto says:

    …“Filioque” is not a dogma…

    I beg your pardon? How could an article of Faith regarding the Third Person of the Trinity, included in the Creed, be considered not dogmatic?

  45. Roland de Chanson says:

    Prof Basto:

    The point is that the filioque is not included in the Nicene Creed. The West recited that Creed for centuries before it was interpolated in the Latin version. The two previous popes have recited the Nicene Creed without the filioque. On many occasions. I know they have preferred the protestantized novus ordo service but I don’t think they are heretics. In any event, the West does not accuse the East of heresy on this point, though some extremists in the East do so accuse the West.

    Apparently the Pope considers it a practice more honored in the breach than the observance. When in Byzantium, do as the Byzantines do. Especially if you are planning a junket to Moscow.

    Oneros:

    I never said reunion meant a merger and acquisition of the one by the other. If Orthodox and Roman (and Eastern Rite) Catholics recognize the validity of each other’s sacraments, why can there not be intercommunion? But I think the problems are far more profound than you make them seem. We’ve been at this a good while now and previous reunions have not been “easy”.

    As for a few “semantical” misunderstandings: the Orthodox and Oriental Churches have come to some partial agreements on the “monophysite” semantics. They are still not in communion and their schism antedates the Rome / Constantinople one.

    Though I do hope you are right.

  46. Oneros says:

    Oh, I’m not saying there aren’t problems Roland, but they’re largely problems of politics and pride on both sides. There is still a desire by both parties to demand concessions from the other side or to be vindicated as “the” correct side all along, which is sad, and also I think a fear (by hierarchs on both sides) of losing control somehow, of having to change the status quo (though, really, I doubt intercommunion/reunion would really require any change on the day to day operational level).

  47. Roland de Chanson says:

    I agree, Oneros, with your point about vindication and concessions. But a complicating factor is that the intercommunion issue might very quickly metamorphose into a jurisdictional conflict especially in the Slavic regions. What would be the fate of the “Uniats” in an intercommunion scenario? There is great historical antipathy towards them on the part of the Orthodox. In the Ukraine, for example, would a Cardinal Husar continue to head a separate jurisdiction from the Ukrainian Autonomous Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UAOC-MP)? And this does not begin to address the two schismatic Ukrainian Orthodox Churches (i.e. the Kievan Patriarchate and the “autocephalic” UOC). These are ethnic and political issues which are far more visceral in their effects than mere theology. Of course, Moscow will have worked all this out long before there is any potential reunion. But the problem is not just theoretical.

    Then we have the ROCOR which has reunited with Moscow but the OCA (Orthodox Church in America) is recognized as autocephalous by Moscow only (though it is in communion with all Orthodox). How would Rome be able to stand aside in such cases?

    Other issues are very similar to the ones raised by the SSPX and that council of the 1960′s. And the botched liturgies of the Roman Church are a scandal to the Orthodox (as they are to many Catholics). But they continue and the pope does not personally implement his own motu in his own diocese!

    Perhaps the most succinct statement of the problem was made by Met. Jonas Paffhausen shortly after he was elected head of the OCA. He is an Episcopalian convert who became an Orthodox monk. Regarding his concept of ecclesiology he stated “I submit, if we wanted a pope, we’d have the real one.” This is the same hierarch who bluntly told the Oecumenical Patriarch: “there is an American Orthodox Church. Leave it alone!”

    Schönborn and Mahoney are pussycats compared to guys like him.

  48. Oneros says:

    “What would be the fate of the “Uniats” in an intercommunion scenario?”

    There would be numerous options, none of which would need be an issue except due to pride, power-greed of bishops, or weird ethnic politics.

    One option would simply be to let them continue as simply more sui juris churches. Hierarchs, both Latin and Eastern…need to learn to just let people and parishes be.

    Now, I think it would be inelegant to have, for example, several Byzantine Ukrainian jurisdictions under several different hierarchies all in the same territory. But, heck, if Eastern rite eparchies can over-lap Latin dioceses and have their own parishes therein without issue…I dont see why it would be an issue if there were two separate communities (given their own unique histories) having their own parishes and hierarchies (I’m sure people could remember which one they personally belonged to) even of the same rite in the same territory.

    But, as I said, this would be inelegant in the long run, so I think the ultimate eventual solution would be that the current Eastern Catholic church and the equivalent Orthodox church would merge.

    At first they would remain separate as described above, but when one of the metropolitans (either Catholic or Orthodox) died, the other would then take over for both, thus merging the jurisdictions.

    The same process would continue down through the diocese-level too. The Catholic diocesan boundaries could be rearranged by the Pope to make them equivalent to Orthodox diocesan boundries, which are after all the most traditional ones. The Catholic and Orthodox eparchies would remain separate (even after the church as a whole merges on the metropolitan level) until either the Catholic or the Orthodox bishop of the area dies or retires, at which point his counterpart would rule over both and thus merge that local church (in other words, they’d be each other’s mutual “coadjutors”).

    This would leave a mix of both Catholic and Orthodox bishops as sometimes the Catholic counterpart would die or retire first, and sometimes the Orthodox would. And when someone dies is really up for God to decide, so no one could claim politicking because death is God’s Will, God’s obvious choice (or, at least, that’s the most politically expedient way to portray it).

    “There is great historical antipathy towards them on the part of the Orthodox. In the Ukraine, for example, would a Cardinal Husar continue to head a separate jurisdiction from the Ukrainian Autonomous Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UAOC-MP)? And this does not begin to address the two schismatic Ukrainian Orthodox Churches (i.e. the Kievan Patriarchate and the “autocephalic” UOC).”

    Well, this one area where having Rome as an arbiter could help. Also, the process I described above could be used to integrate these all into one jurisdiction (with God’s chosen leaders based on which bishop dies last in each area).

    But, again, this is a problem of pride and politics. They need to learn to live and let live. Why is there this jealousy over mere episcopal jurisdiction? If there are two overlapping hierarchies in an area, each with it’s own community…though definitely not ideal, who really cares? Is is because the bishops fear getting less money if they don’t have a monopoly on Christians in the area? I have to wonder.

    If there is no problem, now, with people parish shopping away from their geographical parish, and if people are free to actually MOVE geographically (ie, actually change domiciles) to a different diocese if they don’t like their current one…what is the problem with having a variety of Ordinaries overlapping to choose from? People can do that anyway, by actually physically changing their location…this merely removes the technicality of actually making people go buy a new house somewhere different.

    “Then we have the ROCOR which has reunited with Moscow but the OCA (Orthodox Church in America) is recognized as autocephalous by Moscow only (though it is in communion with all Orthodox). How would Rome be able to stand aside in such cases?”

    Well, every individual in these situations has a parish somewhere with a priest connected to some jurisdiction, dont they? On a concrete day to day practical level…it doesnt seem to be causing all that much trouble for the people in the pews. They go to their parish, deal with their priest, who answers to some bishop, and their lives go on.

    The only problem seems to be between petty bishops, when different bishops try to claim power (or revenue?) from different jurisdictions, when really there should be sort of a principle of free association.

  49. Dear PaterAugustinus,

    I find your ‘broad’ understanding of the doctrine of Petrine primacy most intriguing. However I wonder how accepted it is in the Orthodox world? I have the distinct impression that a rather wide variety of theological opinions are circulating within Orthodoxy which are not challenged by the hierarchy (and indeed could never be challenged because it has become part of the Orthodox ethos to not ‘do’ doctrinal clarifications – as is indeed also the case with the Catholic Church in her post-Vatican II manifestation) but can hardly be considered official doctrine.

    Nevertheless, I find the theory perfectly sound and compatible with Catholic teaching – with the understanding that the holding of the supreme Petrine primacy is intrinsically rather than accidentally connected to the see of Rome. Indeed, you seem to be saying that this is the case, with your statement that the supreme primacy of Rome is the “ideal”. Yet I wonder why you still allow for the opinion that this primacy can be forfeit in some instances, as under the present circumstances? If the supreme primacy of the see of Rome – which, if it is to be understood as something more than a mere ‘primacy of honour’ must imply an attendant universal jurisdiction of some sort – is part of the divine consitution of the Church, this primacy can never be lost, and neither can it be reduced to an ‘ideal’ with a jurisdiction that exists in theory but may in practice be ignored altogether, and lawfully at that. Such a jurisdiction does not in fact exist.

    If one argues that it is a matter of divine positive law that the see of Rome holds supreme primacy, and therefore jurisdiction, in the Church, yet at the same time claims that the same see of Rome has lost its right to exercise this jurisdiction, one is in fact admitting that a constitutive element of the Church has been lost, and that therefore the Church herself is no more and that the gates of Hades has prevailed against her – all of which we know to be impossible as it contradicts the promise of the One who is Truth.

  50. Pardon, y’all for my ignorance (which, can be, awesome, at times).
    But if Pope Benedict did this, with all of his study, the grace of the Holy Spirit, and his office as Vicar of Christ and Successor of St. Peter, what is the gripe?
    Please!
    I’m not being nasty here!
    How does this create any kind of obstacle to proclaiming the Truth of our Faith or denial of Sacred Tradition?

  51. Roland de Chanson says:

    Nazareth Priest,

    It’s not your ignorance at all. Rather ours (or at least mine). Just the conceits of us mortals treading unschooled in the precincts of the Divine. We (meaning me especially) really ought to shut up. Or in the former language of the Universal Church: nos tacere equidem oportet! Still, it’s good stuff to discuss.

    Thank you for the well deserved comeuppance. Et restauretur ubique Missa Vera et celebretur saepe et palam ab Episcopo Romano in diocesi propria sua. Fiat Pontifex orbi Catholico exemplar.

  52. Supertradmum says:

    filioque is a dogma in the Latin Catholic Church, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06073a.htm and a very nice and tidy list of references on the subject: * the dogmatic letter of St. Leo I to Turribius, Bishop of Astorga, Epistle 15 (447);
    * the so-called Athanasian Creed;
    * several councils held at Toledo in the years 447, 589 (III), 675 (XI), 693 (XVI);
    * the letter of Pope Hormisdas to the Emperor Justius, Ep. lxxix (521);
    * St. Martin I’s synodal utterance against the Monothelites, 649-655;
    * Pope Adrian I’s answer to the Caroline Books, 772-795;
    * the Synods of Mérida (666), Braga (675), and Hatfield (680);
    * the writing of Pope Leo III (d. 816) to the monks of Jerusalem;
    * the letter of Pope Stephen V (d. 891) to the Moravian King Suentopolcus (Suatopluk), Ep. xiii;
    * the symbol of Pope Leo IX (d. 1054);
    * the Fourth Lateran Council, 1215;
    * the Second Council of Lyons, 1274; and the
    * Council of Florence, 1439.

    In addition, the Orthodox see the opposite as a doctrine and the filioque as heresy, thereby, defining the Latin Church’s definition as a doctrine as well.

    As far as inter-communion goes, there would be a strong cultural problem with the Uniates, especially those from the Ukraine and Carpathian areas, as the wars between Orthodox and Catholic are still alive and well in the collective memories of both groups. Much forgiveness would have to precede such an acceptance. We were actually Byzantines for several years, with the permission of the local bishop, as we were not living in an area where there was a Latin Church united with Rome. My oldest son was actually charismated in the Byzantine Ukrainian rite (with permission). Most of the congregation had escaped from Stalin’s purges, the Serbian wars, or other war-torn areas, and had very strong feelings about the “collaborative” Orthodox.

    The conversation of filioque was alive and well, in the early 2000s when we were members of three Byzantine congregations, in very remote areas, over a period of years.

  53. Supertradmum says:

    As to the title of Patriarch of the West, here is the Pope himself commenting on this in 1997–:
    Certainly, no one who claims allegiance to Catholic theology can simply declare the doctrine of primacy null and void, especially not if he seeks to understand the objections and evaluates with an open mind the relative weight of what can be determined historically. Nor is it possible, on the other hand, for him to regard as the only possible form and, consequently, as binding on all Christians the form this primacy has taken in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The symbolic gestures of Pope Paul VI and, in particular, his kneeling before the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch were an attempt to express precisely this and, by such signs, to point the way out of the historical impasse. Although it is not given us to halt the flight of history, to change the course of centuries, we may say, nevertheless, that what was possible for a thousand years is not impossible for Christians today. After all, Cardinal Humbert of Silva Candida, in the same bull in which he excommunicated the Patriarch Michael Cerularius and thus inaugurated the schism between East and West, designated the Emperor and people of Constantinople as “very Christian and orthodox”, although their concept of the Roman primacy was certainly far less different from that of Cerularius than from that, let us say, of the First Vatican Council. In other words, Rome must not require more from the East with respect to the doctrine of primacy than had been formulated and was lived in the first millennium. When the Patriarch Athenagoras, on July 25, 1967, on the occasion of the Pope’s visit to Phanar, designated him as the successor of St. Peter, as the most esteemed among us, as one also presides in charity, this great Church leader was expressing the essential content of the doctrine of primacy as it was known in the first millennium. Rome need not ask for more. Reunion could take place in this context if, on the one hand, the East would cease to oppose as heretical the developments that took place in the West in the second millennium and would accept the Catholic Church as legitimate and orthodox in the form she had acquired in the course of that development, while, on the other hand, the West would recognize the Church of the East as orthodox and legitimate in the form she has always had…

    My diagnosis of the relationship between East and West in the Church is as follows: from a theological perspective, the union of the Churches of East and West is fundamentally possible, but the spiritual preparation is not yet sufficiently far advanced and, therefore, not yet ready in practice. When I say it is fundamentally possible from a theological perspective, I do not overlook the fact that, on closer inspection, a number of obstacles still exist with respect to the theological possibility: from the Filioque to the question of the indissolubility of marriage. Despite these difficulties, some of which are present more strongly in the West, some in the East, we must learn that unity, for its part, is a Christian truth, an essentially Christian concept, of so high a rank that it can be sacrificed only to safeguard what is most fundamental, not where the way to it is obstructed by formulations and practices that, however important they may be, do not destroy community in the faith of the Fathers and in the basic form of the Church as they saw her.

    Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1987).

    It would seem to me that the term impedes unity, as it does emphasize geographical sovereignty, which would undermine the position of the Orthodox bishops as well as that of the Pope in relationship to the Universal Church. Father Z, is there any reason why you brought this subject up as the title was dropped in 2006?

  54. Traductora says:

    Subdeacon Joseph, it certainly wasn’t meant as an insult. The Church in Constantinople (now Istanbul) is suffering but this is because of Islam, not because of the Fourth Crusade. If you know your history, you will see that the duplicitous dealings of the Byzantine factions were essentially the cause of the sacking of the city. This doesn’t justify any brutality, naturally, but it also makes it clear that it was a political situation and not a religious one.

    One of the very things that let Islam take over in the East is that the Eastern Christians were often more interested in fighting Rome or even each other than in resisting the growing strength of Islam, and by the time they woke up, it was too late.

    It could happen again, this time in the West.

  55. Oneros says:

    “In addition, the Orthodox see the opposite as a doctrine and the filioque as heresy, thereby, defining the Latin Church’s definition as a doctrine as well.”

    Except we may be speaking of totally different things. In other words, the problem may be semantic. One may be what exactly we mean by “person” or “hypostasis”.

    For example, who is the Holy Spirit, essentially? The Holy Spirit is God. As the Orthodox seem to point out a lot when discussing this, God’s essence is not a Person. The Father hypostasis is the Origin of God. The Father alone, in this sense, is the Origin of the Holy Spirit inasmuch as, as Lossky describes it, “the person of the Father, not being the sole person of the Godhead, is not to be identified with the essence” and “the Father is the personal principle of unity of the Three, the source of their common possession of the same content, of the same essence.” (http://jbburnett.com/resources/lossky/lossky_img4-process-filioq.pdf)

    However, the Latin perspective is not mutually exclusive from this, as the Holy Spirit’s distinctness as a hypostasis can be defined in terms of relative opposition to the Father and the Son. Yes, there is an absolute diversity of Persons, but they are also identified by relations of opposition, at least as we can know them, and in that sense really are relations subsisting too.

    It isn’t either/or.

    The two things are not contradictory.

  56. “Do we simply misunderstand the spirit of Catholicism?”

    I rather think you do.

    Like others on this site who have tried to discuss matters of faith with Orthodox, I have experienced the exasperation of being told that I believe things which I manifestly do not. I sincerely mean no offence, but it is much the same as speaking with Muslims who will insist that you believe in three gods and that you worship the Theotokos because the Qur’an says you do. On the other hand, I do not know a single Catholic who would not agree that the vast majority, perhaps all, of Orthodox teaching is compatible with Catholic formulations of faith.

    There certainly are differences between Eastern and Western Christianity both in terms of theology, philosophy and religious practice. The question is whether these differences are necessarily incompatible with each other and with the Faith itself. The existence, over many centuries, of a great many thriving Eastern churches within the Catholic Church suggests that this is not the case. (Bear in mind that there are also huge differences within Western Christianity itself, arguably even more pronounced: think of the contrast between the extremely austere contemplative spirituality of the Carthusians and the opulent, baroque-loving and active spirituality of the Oratorians or the Institute of Christ the King.)

    As for the specific issues you cite, here are my two cents’ input to the dialogue:

    – the ‘Spiritual Exercises’: have you read them? I haven’t. I don’t feel spiritually prepared and the Exercises themselves state that they should only be conducted with the assistance of a competent spiritual advisor, as is the case with all mystic devotions, like your own Hesychast practices.

    - the devotion to the Sacred Heart: yes, this is a comparatively new devotion, and so what? It is a contemplation on the divine love of the Saviour for mankind which has instilled a greater love for Him in countless souls. If this is considered a problem by the Orthodox I would like to hear why.

    - kneeling on Sundays: this is an early-mediaeval development which simply reflects reverence and humble respect for the Blessed Sacrament. Note that we only kneel during the Anaphora and immediately before Communion: we kneel in sorrow and wonder at the moment of the Sacrifice of the Son of God, and before we receive Him we reverence Him in the manner proper to a King. As such the Western practice of kneeling is equivalent to the Eastern practice of prostration, which is even done on Sundays. The significance of kneeling as a gesture of humble respect has become so ingrained in the West that many consider it profoundly disrespectful not to kneel during the liturgy (I know Easterners have very different views on this, but it is simply a case of cultural variation).

    - Low Mass: Even the Catholic Church believes that a sung liturgy is the ideal, but this must be nuanced given the great importance that has been attached to weekday Mass in the Western tradition: especially in the modern world of busy schedules a sung Mass lasting an hour on a Monday morning can hardly be considered ‘ideal’, quite apart from the fact that it is impossible to gather a choir to sing on a weekday. But even for Sunday worship the Low Mass holds a special appeal to many people who regard it as providing better opportunity for contemplation and intimacy with God. That said, it is correct that before Vatican II far too many Sunday Masses were read. This was an unfortunate development and a part of a broader liturgical decline, which however also affected the Orthodox world.

  57. Supertradmum says:

    Gideon Ertner,

    Some of us have had thirty days Jesuit Retreats, or variations of the famous Ignatian Exercises. I do not see how that fact or the spirituality therein separates us from the Orthodox. Devotion to the Sacred Heart is a devotion very similar to the Orthodox love of the Suffering Christ, the famous icons of Christ Humbled, giving His All. Devotions exist in the Orthodox interpretations of the icons. As to standing in the Divine Liturgy, there is much kneeling during Holy Week, and prostrations. These things are cultural and not dogmatic, as even in the TLM, there are few directions for the positions of the laity. As to silence in the Divine Liturgy, the faithful are supposed to come early and stay for awhile in prayerful preparation and then, prayerful thanksgiving for Communion after the Liturgy.

    The real differences are not in the Liturgy or in the prayers or the silences, but in the view of the Liturgy. The East is very comfortable with Mystery and the Transcendent. The West is more comfortable with Reason and Clarification of the Mysteries. Catholicism holds all of these tendencies and emphases.

    The biggest problem with Orthodoxy today is that many in that fold have become more Protestant in their theology and have moved away from pure Orthodoxy, even to the point of splitting away from the larger Church.

    Oneros,

    In my readings of the Nature and Persons as defined by the Orthodox and the Catholics, I do not find a disagreement among the faithful in the terms of Person and Essence. Only those who have moved into heresy have redefined those terms to mean something other than complete Equality of Personhood, Complete Distinction, yet Complete Unity in the Trinity. The real question of filioque rests on the relationship between the Holy Spirit and God the Father,as to whether the Holy Spirit proceeds (procedit) from the Father or from the Father and the Son. As Catholics believe that the Holy Spirit is the Love which is between the Father and the Son, Being a Person. the “double procession” defined in the Council of Toledo which caused the split, is still held today, despite the Photius and Maximus the Confessor controversies.The Council of Florence and the 4th Lateran Council clarified the position of the Latin Church further by stating that the cause is the Father, but through or with the Son.
    The danger of modalism is alive and well today in many of the Pentecostal churches and the churches which baptize only in the Name of Jesus, rejecting the Trinity. The relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit was discussed in the Early Church Fathers, writings which formed the Latin council positions. However, as you probably know, in the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation statement of 2003, under the authority of the USCCB, the question of filioque was decided, as least by those theologians, not to be a problem for unity. This is definitely not the position of the people in the pew, however, and much prayer and teaching needs to be done by Rome before the issue is a non-issue. Modern theologians who discuss the Nature of the Trinity outside the Tradition of the Church are moving into heresy.

  58. Oneros says:

    “The real question of filioque rests on the relationship between the Holy Spirit and God the Father, as to whether the Holy Spirit proceeds (procedit) from the Father or from the Father and the Son.”

    Yes, but proceeding in what sense?

    As I understand it, the Orthodox view the Divine Essence as incomprehensible exactly because is “beyond being”. It is beyond every duality, including the duality between “being” and “non-being” and is both and neither. The three hypostases are God’s “existences,” are the Essence being, which are comprehensible where the Essence itself is not.

    The West, on the other hand, tend to speak of God’s essence AS Being. Following the Scholastics, “God’s existence is His essence.” As God being a being whose nature is being. And that nature is being in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

    So when we speak of the procession of the divine persons, there is a difference between their relations of opposition (emphasized in the West), and between their absolute diversity.

    It must also be said that the Scholastics seem to confuse the terms a bit. They sometimes seem to predicate things to “God” as if there is a quasi-personal monad in the Essence…but things can’t be predicated to an essence, they can only be predicated to hypostases. God is His own existence, in the persons Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But existence is to be identified with the persons, not the essence; God’s essence is instantiated in His existences.

    I think, somewhere in there, the Western and Eastern understands are not mutually incompatible, we’re just talking about different aspects.

  59. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Thank you all for this great, illuminating and thought-feeding (and further thought provoking) discussion!

    Please excuse the blunderbuss-iness of the following (sometimes lazy) bits and pieces!

    Does anyone have a list of existing or forthcoming translations of Rahner/Ratzinger, Episkopat und Primat, Quaestiones disputatae 11 (Herder 1961)?

    Dear PaterAugustinus: can you recommend any works (on- or off-line, long or short) related to what you have said?

    What is the official Latin (and Greek, if any) terminology for “Patriachal Basilica” and “Papal Basilica”?

    Has the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem been ‘allowed to keep his Roman Basilica’(so to put it)?

    I have never yet encountered a convincing explanation of/ apologia for ‘Filioque’. Does anyone have any ‘favourite(s)’ to recommend?

    Dear Supertradmum: you say, “The Council of Florence and the 4th Lateran Council clarified the position of the Latin Church further by stating that the cause is the Father, but through or with the Son.” I have not (yet) tried to check the relevant texts. I think most Orthodox would see a big difference between ‘through’ and ‘with’. I suspect many Orthodox would no more want ‘through’ insisted on than the Doctrine of the Bodily Assumption of the Theotokos (though they believe its ‘content’, and might have no certain objections to ‘through’). If I knew anything about the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation statement of 2003, I have forgotten it: thanks, especially, for noting it!

  60. Roland de Chanson says:

    Thanks for those references from the Catholic Encyclopedia. I want to look into them more closely. I had thought that the Councils had merely reaffirmed the interpolation of the filioque into the Nicene Creed and its validity as sound doctrine, rather than defining it formally as a dogma.. That’s what I want to be more clear on.

    When I wrote that the filioque was not a dogma, I meant that it had not been defined formally as a dogma (say, as the Immaculate Conception or the Assumption). It has been a doctrine from the earliest times and Greeks as well as Latins have acknowledged its support in patristics. There was the case of a pope (I can’t remember which one at the moment) having had the Creed engraved on silver tablets and displayed in St. Peters. The filioque was omitted.

    The Greeks, while maintaining it would take an Ecumenical Council (of the WHOLE Church) to amend the Creed, still allow for a “per Filium” interpretation rather than the Double Procession of the “filioque.” But their general attitude as I understand it is, why tamper with the Creed at all? I think this is the point of Wojtyla and Ratzinger’s omission of it when praying with the patriarchs.

    BTW, in the Byzantine parishes you attended, was the filioque used? I have heard conflicting reports – some use it, some don’t. As I recall, the Russian Byzantine parish I once briefly attended did not use it.

  61. Supertradmum says:

    Roland, Oneros,

    I merely give two examples from the list.

    I would not say that the dogma was clearly re-stated in the manner which would satisfy some readers here, as the councils rarely dealt with all the details at one go. The revelation seems to me to be the entire dogmatic revelation from the Fathers of the Church on to our own time. What was being addressed in some of those councils were the aberrations and also the controversies, such as the Photius controversy. One of the problems is the consistent difference in the Greek and the Latin, such as procedit as opposed to other terms. Here is a quotation from Lyons, 2. “In faithful and devout profession we declare that the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son, not as from two principles (principiis), but from one principle, not by two spirations (spirationibus) but by a single spiration. The most holy Roman Church, mother and teacher of all the faithful, has heretofore professed, preached, and taught this. This she firmly holds, professes, and teaches; this is the unchangeable and true understanding of the faithful (orthodoxorum) Fathers and Doctors, Latin as well as Greek. But because some through ignorance of the indisputable aforesaid truth have slipped into various errors, we, in our desire to close the way to errors of this kind, with the approval of the sacred Council, condemn and reprobate those who presume to deny that the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son, as well as those who with rash boldness presume to affirm that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son as from two principles (principiis) and not as from one.”

    And from Florence: “what the Holy Fathers and Doctors say, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, tends to this understanding that by this is meant that the Son is also, according to the Greeks the cause, and according to the Latins the principle, of subsistence of the Holy Spirit, as is also the Father. And, since all the things which are the Father’s the Father Himself has given to his only-begotten Son in begetting him except being the Father, this very fact, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son, the Son has eternally from the Father, by whom he was also eternally begotten. We define also that the explicitation in the expression Filioque, [effected] in order to clarify the truth at a time of pressing need, was added to the Creed licitly and reasonably.”

    Thomas Aquinas adds more, including,”Because, therefore, the Son has it from the Father that from Him the Holy Spirit proceeds, it can be said that the Father spirates the Holy Spirit through the Son, or that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, which is the same thing.”

    Through does seem to be the preferred term, rather than with. Plus, the and…

    As to congregations using the filioque, I would add that this was totally arbitrary and based on where the people were actually from–as mentioned above. For example, the local priest with those in the pew discussed which was to be used. In one Ukrainian Byzantine church I attended, the printed version of the Creed in the missal of the Mass of St. John Chrysostom had the original crossed out in every version in the pews and filioque written in above.

    Again, remember that wars were fought over this term and people had ancestors who had died upholding one belief, one term or the other.

  62. Roland de Chanson says:

    A couple of NT references regarding the filioque:

    John 14:16: And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; (ex Patre)

    John 14:26 But the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, (ex Patre)

    John 15:26: But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, [even] the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: (ex Patre per Filium)

    John 16:7 for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. (ex Filio? or ex Patre per Filium?)

    The first two support the ex Patre reading but with the intercession of the Son or in His Name. The third supports the per Filium interpretation. The last seems anomalous – the Father is not explicitly mentioned.

    But this is just the one gospel. I don’t know what the synoptics say. Or the epistles of Paul. Or the ante-Nicene Fathers.

    Given the above Divine Ambiguities, no wonder the centuries of odium theologicum among mere mortals!

  63. Supertradmum says:

    Roland,

    Yes and these are some of the very texts discussed by the Church Fathers and the councils. I do not think we can get into “proof texts” on this issue.

  64. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Dear Supertradmum:

    Thank you for the detailed examples!

    The last phrase from the Lyons quotation strikes me (without having tried to look up the fuller context) as odd: who has ever contended “as from two principles and not from one”? (Someone may have, of course, but I have not yet encountered it; or perhaps they are covering theoretical possibilities?)

    Florence: It may have been entirely appropriate to aspire and attempt “to clarify the truth at a time of pressing need” (Bishop Kallistos noted “at the third Council of Toledo (589), if not before” in ‘The Orthodox Church’ (ed. 1: the ed. I have to hand)), but it is not clear to me that it was done well by “Filioque” or, in consequence, that that “was added to the Creed licitly and reasonably.” To argue “since all the things which are the Father’s the Father Himself has given to his only-begotten Son in begetting him except being the Father, this very fact, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son, the Son has eternally from the Father” seems unconvincing: reading it, I can better understand why Orthodox friends named their son after St. Mark of Ephesus.

    I have never yet seen anything that elucidated the sense of “from one principle” or “as from one principle”.

    Pace St. Thomas, I do not see that “through” and “from [...] and” are “the same thing”: “has it from the Father that from Him” seems to accord with Florence (or, more likely, vice versa -?), but also seems the question which may not be begged (again, I have not yet sought the context in St. Thomas).

  65. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    “The Patriarch of the West” in another context (perhaps):

    I ran into something curious (which I have not yet tried to follow up properly in terms of sources and contexts)in Macaulay’s ‘History of England’, Book IV, ch. 15 (1898 Longman ed. of his ‘Works’): Asking, “What is a Papist?” he goes on to ask, “Is every person a Papist who is willing to concede to the Bishop of Rome a primacy among Christian prelates? If so, James the First, Charles the First, Laud, Heylyn, were Papists.” Here, he provides a footnote: “James, in the very treatise in which he tried to prove the Pope to be Anti-Christ, says:’For myself, if that were yet the question, I would with all my heart give consent that the Bishop of Rome should have the first seat.’ There is a remarkable letter on this subject written by James to Charles and Buckingham, when they were in Spain. Heylyn, speaking of Laud’s negotiation with Rome, says: ‘So that upon the point the Pope was to content himself among us in England with a priority instead of a superiority over other Bishops, and with a primacy instead of a supremacy in these parts of Christendom, which I conceive no man of learning and sobriety would have grudged to grant him.’”

    There is no reference to “The Patriarch of the West” anywhere, here, but there are Anglicans today who deplore the doing away with that title: whether I have encountered a detailed account of what such a one understands it to mean, I do not recall. The question with James and Heylyn as quoted is what they understand by “first seat” and “a priority” and “a primacy” respectively.

    Having read the contributions above (especially of PaterAugustinus), I have become aware of what a question that is, or at least can be!

  66. Supertradmum says:

    Venerator Sti Lot,

    What do you think of the argument by St. Maximus the Confessor? Or, Severian of Gabala? The Greek “essence” word, as mentioned several times by Oneros would be part of the discussion for Severian.

    I admit that the title of Patriarch of the West seems to demean the Papal role as true Primate over the entire Church. Roman Catholics would presumably have no problem with “primacy”. However, one who is from Great Britain would be more sensitive to titles, and rightly so, as these mean something.

  67. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Dear Supertradmum:

    My apologies for the late response: I have been away!

    In the circumstances, I have not added the time to go searching for what are likely to be the relevant St. Maximus or Severian references. (I would, of course, be grateful if you can supply them, better still with on-line sources: I now live a day’s journey from any library even worth trying to see if they have relevant works!)

    My understanding with reference to ‘ousia’, is that the Hypostasis of the Father, in the first (timeless, spaceless) place, wholly enhypostatizes the Divine Ousia, that in eternally Begetting the Hypostasis of the Son He wholly imparts (quite without loss or change)the Divine Ousia to the Son Who equally wholly enhypostatizes it, and that equally in eternally ‘Spirating’ the Hypostasis of the Holy Spirit the Father wholly imparts the Divine Ousia to the Spirit Who equally wholly enhypostatizes it, with Each Person eternally coinherently distinctly equally wholly enhypostatizing the One Divine Ousia. Whether that ‘Spiratio’ is also eternally through the Son as well as from the Father, I do not know (I do not see why it could not be).

  68. PaterAugustinus says:

    Gosh, I’m replying late to the various comments on my post… but, it just occurred to me today, that perhaps somebody had follow-up questions/remarks on what I said. I said a lot, that may have needed further discussion! I’ll keep replies brief, though.

    Garth said: “But when it comes to things like kneeling on Sunday… I must say that Orthodox disquiet on such issues seems to me to often come across as, “You have to be Eastern to be really Christian.” (You see this in the azymes controversy as well, which I have never been able to wrap my mind around.) The Latin Rite has its own identity; if it were exactly like an Eastern rite it would in fact be an Eastern rite. Perhaps I’m wrong, but wouldn’t it be surprising if there really weren’t anything that seemed different?”

    I would reply: In the first place, it certainly would be folly to take any one issue, such as I grouped among the “lesser” issues, and make that into some sort of case against an entire local Church’s piety. And so, I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I’m doing such a thing. Certainly, many Orthodox polemicists do, but I really dislike that tactic. Furthermore, complaining merely because the Latin rite does something differently, makes little sense. Most sober Orthodox Christians understand that there will be differences between rites, and are not very concerned about that mere fact. When it comes to issues like kneeling on Sundays and in Festal seasons, azymes, and some other issues, however, the situation is slightly different, insofar as the Eastern and Western praxis used to be identical, and that our shared practice went all the way back to the very first days of the Church. It is the perception that Catholicism has gradually come to differ from the East even on matters which we once had in common – and which go all the way back to the Church’s beginning – that unsettles the Orthodox from time to time. That, and the perception that some elements of Catholicism’s dogmatic theology and popular devotion are positively proscribed by the Tradition, leads the Orthodox to be hesitant about reunion, even if some kind of agreement could be reached in terms of dogmatic formulae. And again, I want to emphasize that no one of these issues, individually, is a matter of great import – it is in aggregate, that the Orthodox feel we perceive some more fundamental difference between us. That said, it cannot be denied that Catholicism and Orthodoxy each perceive something unique about the other, in comparison to all the other Christian communities. Even if High Church Anglicanism seems to keep up some exterior elements of liturgical tradition, and some kind of formal affirmation of the cult of the saints and the authority of tradition, these things seem only to be continuous, living realities in Catholicism and Orthodoxy (and the Oriental Orthodox Churches). So, humility demands that each side reserve some of its judgment about the perceived differences, and attempt to really get to the heart of the matter through productive dialogue. Unfortunately, much of what passes for dialogue is less than helpful!

    Oneros said: “I will say however that one big problem is still the Orthodox telling the Catholics what the Catholics believe. For example, I’ve talked with Orthodox about the Original Sin/Ancestral Sin question…and told them that I think their description is totally good and that Catholics would have no problem agreeing with it and see it as complementary to (not contradictory of) our language on the matter. But then the Orthodox turn around and insist that we teach all sorts of things about it (like that original sin means personal guilt, or that Mary’s Immaculate Conception meant that she had no freedom to sin, etc) that we don’t. And we try to tell them, “no, that’s not what we believe” and they have the audacity to tell US what WE believe! Well, it’s hard for us to dialogue if the Orthodox insist we teach something that we do not, in fact, teach, due to their own intra-church propoganda against us.”

    I reply: I entirely sympathize with you, Oneros. I received the name of St. Augustine of Hippo in my monastic tonsure, and I view it as a privilege to learn more about my Patron and to (politely) defend his august teachings to my skeptical co-religionists. I hope one day to write a book comparing the theology of Ss. Augustine and Maximos (the Confessor) on the whole question of Original Sin, and to demonstrate that they are identical in every essential respect. I am constantly trying to help my Orthodox brethren see that some of the Jansenist (and Calvinist) excesses in the interpretation of St. Augustine are not official Catholic teaching, and that the continuous Orthodox onslaught against everything they label “Augustinian” is in fact undermining key points of our own dogmatic theology and Patristic Tradition. This is becoming a serious problem in some Orthodox circles, especially in America. The priest at the last parish I attended actually preached from the pulpit that “We are all immaculately conceived” and “Christ did not die for your sins; if you heard that, you heard it from Billy Graham, and not the Church.” Upon interrogation, I learned that his views on these topics both had their genesis in the same root – a total misunderstanding of the Patristic teaching on human nature, the fall, and how the redemption occured. I.e., they all sprang from the modernist Orthodox polemics against “Original Sin,” which lead many imprecise theologians to overstate the case and reject Eastern Patristic teaching, as well (which they usually don’t even read). Like you, I am constantly being told by other Orthodox what Augustine (and the West) “really” teaches, and why Orthodoxy disagrees. And I feel your frustration, since I am always being told such things by persons who know no Latin, and have read almost no Augustine (or Latin Patristics, period). My advice is not to speak with those Orthodox Christians; they have alredy decided that they know what Catholicism teaches, despite all the evidence to the contrary – what persuasion could your own voice offer? It’s a waste of breath.

    Gideon said: “Nevertheless, I find the theory [which I proposed about Primacy] perfectly sound and compatible with Catholic teaching – with the understanding that the holding of the supreme Petrine primacy is intrinsically rather than accidentally connected to the see of Rome. Indeed, you seem to be saying that this is the case, with your statement that the supreme primacy of Rome is the “ideal”. Yet I wonder why you still allow for the opinion that this primacy can be forfeit in some instances, as under the present circumstances?”

    I reply: I think the best and most thoughtful Orthodox answer (but, perhaps I flatter myself!), would be to admit that we see many reasons for establishing the Primacy in Rome, and that we therefore see the connection between Rome and the Primacy to be very profound, but not absolutely intrinsic. We understand the many good reasons for seeing Rome as the uniquely Petrine city in terms of the history of the place – where Peter himself presided and shed his blood (and Paul, too). In addition to this, we see the many practical reasons for centering the Primacy in Rome in the early years of the Church. It seems clear that there is every good reason for viewing the Roman bishopric as the primatial See par excellence, in terms of history, and we all know what veneration the Church has for antiquity and ancient custom… especially when it dates back to the very Apostles themselves. However, we would say that pressing circumstances could force a change in the location and designation of the Primatial See – though the connections of Rome to Petrine primacy are profound, and admitted – and it would certainly take very pressing circumstances to justify any change of venue. But, it could be done if need be. I mean, one eventually has to ask how far things can be pressed. The Popes lived in Avignon for a while, and retained the title of Bishop of Rome. To some extent, obviously, that was a fiction (though obviously they did retain actual jurisdiction over Rome, albeit residing elsewhere). In Orthodoxy a similar fiction now exists with the Patriarch of Antioch, whose administrative seat is actually in Damascus. There’s a delicate balance – to some extent, the historic connection of these primacies with their ancient cities should be connected even when it seems to be a bit of a farce. But, despite the profound connection that does and should exist here, I don’t think Orthodox theology would see these as absolutely non-negotiable elements of primacy.

    With respect to your question, regarding how Primacy may be forfeit in some circumstances… I would reply that because Orthodoxy does not accept Papal Infallability, and because we do not see the Roman bishop as a personal and unique successor to St. Peter’s Primacy, we can easily imagine that the Pope may defect from the Primacy by defecting from the Truth. Obviously, any clergyman’s office depends upon his holding to the Catholic Faith and the Unity of the Catholic Church. In Catholicism, it is believed that the Pope succeeds personally to St. Peter the Apostle, and that he is not capable of error when defining faith and morals ex cathedra. Given that belief, it makes sense to believe that the Primacy cannot ever depart from the Papacy in a formal way. In Orthodoxy, we believe the Pope can err even in an official capacity; we also believe that the supreme manifestation of the Petrine Primacy is vested in the Roman See for compelling reasons, but because Primacy is understood in a different sense, we do not see the temporary absence of a valid Roman Pontiff – whether because the see is temporarily vacant after a Pope’s death, or because the Pope has been deposed and anathematized – as depriving the Church of the Petrine Primacy, nor of the guarantor of Her Catholicity. Primacy continues to function in the Church on all the levels I described earlier, and once another valid successor to the Roman See is installed, he obviously succeeds to the especially complete manifestation of primacy, which is profoundly tied to that See.

    As an afterthought – related to something you said – Orthodoxy does not understand Primacy to intrinsically involve jurisdiction or juridical power. Depending upon what you mean by “Primacy of Honour,” I would say that this is precisely the Orthodox conception of Primacy. If you consider a Primacy of Honour to be one, in which everybody says nice things about the Patriarch and respects his office’ dignity (and nothing more), we would say this is a somewhat barren concept of honour. A Primacy of Honour means that one deferrs to the Primate if there is not some powerful reason to object or dissent. It means that the Primate’s initiative and wishes should be shown especial respect and esteem, and even obdedience, even in spite of disagreement (to a point, obviously). It means that the Primate acts as a spokesman, a coordinator, a “first mover,” in normal circumstances. He has the prerogative of initiative on important matters… which he should always exercise as a servant and shepherd. In fact, to elaborate upon my answer to your question, regarding how Primacy could be forfeited, one could say that the Primate retains his primacy even when his primacy is opposed, because the power of Primacy does not go so far as to secure juridical immunity from opposition. We believe the Primate should be shown all deference, all obedience, all respect, even if that involves biting one’s tongue and going against one’s own opinion or wishes… to a certain point. But, there is a point, at which the deference and respect due to the Primate has an end. Lacking any concept of Papal Infallability, the Orthodox obviously have a different concept of where that terminus is in respect to the Roman Pontiff’s Primacy. We do believe that sometimes the Primate does have to be opposed. This does not mean that his Primacy of honour is an ineffectual matter of courtesies and niceties and who gets the fanciest chair in the room; his Primacy should be respected even against one’s own wishes and inclinations, and many canonical prerogatives, such as according him the power to approve of episcopal elections, etc., may be enacted. But, there is a point where the Primate’s office can and should be opposed.

    I understand this is a scary notion to some… and I certainly understand why many Roman Catholics would view this as a great danger in present circumstances. One can only imagine what would have happened if the American Conference of Catholic Bishops had felt authorized to openly reject the Roman Primacy over, say, the past forty years. But, the Orthodox point out that this kind of scary environment is precisely what has existed in Church history. There were times when vast throngs of bishops were Arian or Iconoclast or Monophysite. Who was “in” and who was “out” of the Church has been ambiguous at many points in history. While we certainly understand the temptation to establish a guaranteed, indefectible center of Catholicity in the Pope, we don’t see this as the actual model of the Church in history. And, we feel that this is a false sense of security (since we feel the Papacy is in error), which also undermines the strengths of a less juridical, authoritarian model of the Church. Centralized, top-down authority has its strengths and weaknesses. One weakness, may be a willingness to tolerate compromised and heretical bishops long after they have ceased to be clear and present dangers to the Church, simply because the respect for their juridical position is very strong… whereas the Orthodox laity are more likely to do as they have done in the past… i.e., they would be more likely to have thrown the bums out of their cathedrals and put them on the next boat out from the mainland long ago, because they do not have so profound an esteem for the juridical authority of prelates. And of course, the Orthodox model also has its weaknesses. The question is not, “which system has no weaknesses,” but, “what does the Tradition have to say about the balance between these strengths and weaknesses?”

    In short, we Orthodox know that Catholicism thinks things get too “messy,” without a strong and centralized, juridical primacy. We understand the temptation to localize infallible Catholicity in this central, juridical primacy and the clear and official documents it produces. We acknowledge that things can and do get messy without it. But, we also feel that at many points in Church history, this messiness is precisely what has actually existed. Adhering to the Catholic Faith is a perilous adventure (as Chesterton skilfully has taught); although it offers less assurances and comforts than the model of an infallible, centralized authority, we do feel that many mature and sober judgments, an active and deliberate effort to continue holding the Catholic faith, is required of each Christian. Primacy is due all deference and obedience, within these limits. And we believe that even those occupying the very highest positions in the Church can and do err, even in their official capacities. The discussion of Primacy cannot be divorced from this context, for the Orthodox.

    We also confess that God is good; the man trying his best to remain faithful to the Tradition in a clean conscience can have great hope of God’s kindness, grace and profound indulgence, even if he winds up under a less than prisitine bishop. Before someone objects, however, I undertand that even this has limits. This must be understood in an adult and complex way. This isn’t to say that the radical, lesbian nun who “honestly” believes she is being faithful to the “real” Catholic Tradition gets a free pass for following her conscience (though, certainly someone following their conscience in error is morally more praisworthy than one who disingenuously and accidentally professes the Truth). One has to take pains to inform one’s conscience, to hold the Faith in as adult and complete a way as possible, to have respect for those who are appointed teachers and to abnegate the right to make individual decisions about what the Tradition means, in favour of faithful witnesses to the Tradition as an whole and the God-ordained authority of the clergy. It may be more challenging to do this without an infallible epicenter of juridical and hermeneutic authority, but we believe this is the model of the Church. And, it goes without saying that this does not abnegate the genuine authority and respect, which do adhere in the bishops and primates of the Church; rather, it depends upon it.