Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Orthodox Question: Why Catholic and Not Eastern Orthodox?

At some point, many people considering the Catholic Church face this question: “Why become Catholic, and not Eastern Orthodox?

After all, Orthodoxy can look mighty appealing. You get a lot of the things that are desirable in Catholicism -- Apostolic Succession, visible authority, ecclesial unity, Tradition, beautiful Liturgy -- without having to accept the pope or some of the Marian dogmas.  Sure, the Orthodox aren't quite in full communion with the Catholic Church, but they're close enough that, in the past, we've celebrated in the same churches.

From a Catholic perspective, converting from Protestantism to Orthodoxy is a move deeper into full Catholic union, in a way that converting from one Protestant denomination to another is not.  For that reason, I've been a bit hesitant to answer the “why not Orthodox?” question, for fear of making the perfect the enemy of the good.  As far as I can tell, we affirm everything that they affirm.  We just affirm more, and often in different language. So let's look at a few of the things that the Orthodox affirm, and what the means for the question of being Catholic.

I. What the Orthodox Affirm

These are points that I've seen broadly conceded.  Because Orthodoxy is significantly less cohesive than Catholicism, I can't guarantee that a given Orthodox believer will affirm these.  But here goes:

(1) Rome was Founded by St. Peter and St. Paul

Constantinople claims Apostolic Succession through the Apostle Andrew.  Rome has Apostolic Succession through both the Apostles Peter and Paul.  Both the Eastern Orthodox and the Catholic Church acknowledge each other's Apostolic origins, and express this in a particularly beautiful tradition.  As Cardinal Seán O’Malley explains:
Duccio's Calling of the Apostles Peter and Andrew (c. 1310)
The patriarch [Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the highest ranking member of the Eastern Orthodox Church] is very, very supportive of the cause of Christian unity. Each year he sends representatives to Rome for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. In addition, he receives the pope’s representatives on the Feast of St. Andrew. The brothers Sts. Peter and Andrew represent the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
This symbolic act already symbolizes an acknowledgement that Saints Peter and Paul founded the See of Rome (as countless early Christian sources attest).  And Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has not been shy on this point.  In 2007, when the pope's delegation arrived to celebrate the Feast of St. Andrew, he said:
Today's celebration is an invitation extended to both our Churches to the unity of the Cross. Just as our Lord Jesus Christ stretched out his arms upon the cross, uniting all that was formerly divided, so also his apostle, in imitation of his Master, stretched out his arms, gathering us all today and calling us to stretch out our arms upon the cross spiritually in order to achieve the unity that we desire.

Elder Rome has the foremost St. Peter as its apostle and patron. New Rome, Constantinople, has the brother of St. Peter, the first-called of the apostles, Andrew. Both invite us to the fraternal unity that they shared with each other and that can only be acquired when the cross becomes our point of reference and experience of approach. 
Let us, therefore, beseech these two brothers and greatest of apostles that they may grant peace to the world and lead everyone to unity, in accordance with the particularly timely troparion (hymn) today of St. Symeon Metaphrastes, Archbishop of Thessalonika: 
"You, Andrew, were first-called of the apostles;
Peter was supremely honored among the apostles.
"Both of you endured the cross of Christ,
Proving imitators of your Lord and Master,
And one in mind and soul. Therefore, with him,
As brothers, grant peace to us. 
Amen.
The Ecumenical Patriarch's recognition of his own See, Constantinople, as New Rome, leads to my second point.

(2) Historically, Constantinople was Second to Rome

The four original Patriarchal Sees were all Petrine.  Jerusalem is where Peter first preached on Pentecost (Acts 2).  He then established the Church at Antioch.  He then established the Church at Rome, along with St. Paul.  His disciple, the Evangelist Mark, founded the Church at Alexandria.  Constantinople was added as a fifth Patriarchate, a controversial move initially opposed by the pope (but eventually accepted).  From Canon 3 of the First Council of Constantinople in 381:
Let the Bishop of Constantinople, however, have the priorities of honor after the Bishop of Rome, because of its being New Rome.
But in the controversy over adding a fifth Patriarchate (and above Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria at that), one thing was clear. Rome was number one.  Canon 3 only reaffirms this.  Constantinople leap-frogs over Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria, but it is explicitly second to Rome.  And its claim to fame for being one of the Patriarchates at all is because of its connection to Rome.  As the Protestant scholar Phillip Schaff noted:
It should be remembered that the change effected by this canon did not affect Rome directly in any way, but did seriously affect Alexandria and Antioch, which till then had ranked next after the see of Rome. When the pope refused to acknowledge the authority of this canon, he was in reality defending the principle laid down in the canon of Nice, that in such matters the ancient customs should continue. Even the last clause, it would seem, could give no offence to the most sensitive on the papal claims, for it implies a wonderful power in the rank of Old Rome, if a see is to rank next to it because it happens to be “New Rome.” Of course these remarks only refer to the wording of the canon which is carefully guarded; the intention doubtless was to exalt the see of Constantinople, the chief see of the East, to a position of as near equality as possible with the chief see of the West.
So the entire controversy over Constantinople's place can't obscure a central fact: the Roman See was number one in the world.

So the Orthodox acknowledge that in the ancient Church, Peter was the first of the Apostles, and the Roman See was the first of the Church.  Some sort of primacy existed.  Any Orthodox denying this is denying what the Ecumenical Patriarch concedes, or what the First Council of Constantinople concedes.

II. How to Resolve the Orthodox Question

Both Catholics and Orthodox understand the laity as the sheep to be led by God's shepherds. The job of the laity isn't to settle all the world's theological disputes, but to have faith in what the Church teaches.  But which shepherd do the sheep follow if they start going in different directions?  I see three possible ways of determining an answer:
  1. Option 1: Follow your local bishop
  2. Option 2: Resolve each dispute on your own
  3. Option 3: Follow the See of Rome

Options 1 and 2 are very problematic.  And all three of these point towards the Catholic Church.

(1) Follow your local bishop

With Option 1, if the Orthodox bishops of Australia and New Zealand broke off communion, accusing each other of schism or heresy, the Orthodox believers of those countries would divide along nationalist lines.

This is problematic for two reasons.  First, regardless of which side was right, this approach would require laity on one of the two sides to embrace schism or heresy.  Second, Pope Benedict is Patriarch of the West.  So if you want to follow Option A, and you live in the West, go with the pope.

(2) Resolve each dispute on your own

Option 2 is the knee-jerk response by both Protestants, and Westerners generally: asking, “What do I think?” 

There are two problems.  First, it's fundamentally inconsistent with the ecclesiology proclaimed by either the Orthodox or Catholic Church.  In neither Church is the laity left as the final authority on theological disputes.  This creates an immediate problem. If you should only follow the episcopacy if they're right, and it's up to you to determine they're right, who's leading who?  If the laity are going to be left to figure theology out on their own, much of the purpose of the visible Church is thwarted.  

Second, this points to Catholicism anyways.  Given everything that the Orthodox admit about Rome being founded by Peter, and about it historically holding a global primacy, the only remaining question is this: Was Peter merely primus inter pares (“first among equals”), or was he tasked with a ministry overseeing the other Apostles?  An Orthodox priest, Fr. John Maxwell, put the argument this way:

If the Roman view is to be believed, it is interesting to note that when the disciples disputed among themselves as to who would be the greatest, (Lk. 22:24-27), they seemed unaware that Christ had already picked Peter.

But look at the part Fr. Maxwell cites, in the broader context of Lk. 22:24-32:
A dispute also arose among them, which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For which is the greater, one who sits at table, or one who serves? Is it not the one who sits at table? But I am among you as one who serves. 
"You are those who have continued with me in my trials; and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 
"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you [plural], that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you [singularthat your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren."
This looks very much like Peter was given a ministry to the other Apostles.  In fact, Jesus essentially says as much, using the language of commission.  So Peter had a special place that wasn't merely honorary, but an additional commission. That's the Catholic argument.

Additionally, Peter has the ability to speak on behalf of the Twelve, as he did in Acts 2, and Matthew 16:15-16, and so forth.  In fact, I did a five part series on Peter's role in the early Church (starting here, with the passage I just quoted).  So I think Catholics can makes a very compelling case for Peter's eclessial headship.  In other words, I think option 2 points towards the Catholic Church, too.

(3) Follow the See of Rome

If the Orthodox are right that Peter is the first of the Apostles (in some sense), that Peter founded and was the patron saint of the Church of Rome, and right that Rome was the first of the Churches (again, in some sense), then it would seem logical that if there was a dispute, believers should follow Rome.

This is also the only option that doesn't guarantee Schism. Let me be more clear on that:
Benjamin West,
St. Peter Preaching at Pentecost
  • Under Option 1, any time a bishop or group of bishops goes into schism, the laity are dragged along.  The Body of Christ is torn apart, along juridical lines, into large chunks (which, of course, is exactly what happened with the Nestorian Schism and the East-West Schism).
  • Under Option 2, the whims of each Christian justify schism, so the Body of Christ is torn apart, along individual lines, into really tiny chunks (which, of course, is  exactly what happened in the aftermath of the Reformation)
  • Under Option 3, the whole Church stays together, holding to the faith of Rome.
So if Christ's prayer for Church unity (John 17:20-23) is to be fulfilled, Option 3 appears to be necessary.  

I anticipate at least one objection: but what if the Roman See goes into schism?  The answer is easy.  If God can preserve the Church collective in the faith, preventing an Apostasy, He can certainly preserve the local Roman church in the faith.  In fact, for His promises to be meaningful, the Truth must not just be out there somewhere, but must be capable of being found by Christian believers.

65 comments:

  1. I thought we put the Orthodox objection in its coffin with the Robber Council posts! This is nice, however.

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  2. Thanks, Robert! I'd gotten a few questions about it, so I thought I'd approach it from a different angle. Glad you enjoyed,

    Joe

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  3. Yea, I hear the "what about the Orthodox?" objection all the time too. Strangely, its normally from Protestants thinking the supposed legitimacy of Orthodoxy somehow makes it legitimate to be neither Catholic nor Orthodox. But, in any event, our posts on the Robber Councils have been hugely helpful in fending that off.

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  4. *your posts. Not meaning to take credit!

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  5. 1. The apostolicity of any church, including that of Constantinople, does not rest on its foundation by an apostle. Every church is an apostolic church insofar as every bishop is a successor of the Holy Apostles. And while Rome is preeminently the church of Sts. Peter and Paul, I would not draw too literal a connection between her foundation and her apostolicity. Remember that St. Paul writes to a church in that city from elsewhere, though he is known to have died in Rome. This is not to quibble over foundations, but merely to note that foundation is not central to any of the real issues here.

    2. The "primacy of Peter" and indeed the "primacy of Rome" are not problems except in their interpretation. The Orthodox Church continues to have primacy, both locally and globally.

    3. Hinging your apologetics on epistemic issues, as I mentioned in our earlier discussion, is not wise in light of the historical record. Not until relatively late does anti-chaotic role of the pope become the saving grace of the papacy. Until its isolationist period, infallibility is at best a candle under a bushel. If the papacy doesn't contribute to the practical resolution of issues as an effective court of appeal before it is wholly separated from the other churches, then this necessary faculty loses its prestige and persuasive power. Apply your artificial connundra to the real cases of Marcellus and Honorius and see that the question of an anachronistic appeal to the Magisterium is a moot point. A papacy that does not play the role which supposedly justifies it is a weak pawn in your apologetics.

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  6. Tikhon,

    I'm pleased at your rapid response.

    1) My point is that the Roman See was directly founded by Peter and Paul. That doesn't mean there wasn't a prior Christian community. Of course, even the first seeds of that community were planted by St. Peter's preaching at Pentecost, in the presence of visitors from Rome (Acts 2:10-11, 40-41). My argument is that foundation plays a major role in the creation of the Patriarchal Sees, not that it alone guarantees freedom from heresy.

    2) Are you conceding that some version of Roman and Petrine primacy exists? In any case, I agree that the dispute tends to turn on what such primacy ought to look like.

    3) The argument I'm making, and the argument you're answering aren't the same.

    I'm saying that if the Church is to be united, there must be an icon of ecclesial unity, and that Peter was that icon and Rome is.

    That doesn't require all disputes to be heard and resolved by appeal to Rome. There's no reason that what I'm saying there would require Rome to serve as an "as an effective court of appeal." She could stay wholly out of a dispute, and when it turned into schism, we'd know who was right by who stayed in union with her.

    Think about the two women before Solomon in 1 Kings 3:16-28. Whichever woman wanted to cut the baby in half was the false one. You're talking about the role of the Roman See as King Solomon, settling disputes. I'm talking about the Roman See as the baby, the icon of the unity to be held.

    But let's go ahead and address your counter-points.

    4) You claim that it's "not until relatively late" that the papacy played an anti-chaotic role. Yet as early as about 96 A.D., we see Pope Clement settle the dispute in Carthage, while the Apostle John still being alive. And the pope's letter was still being read along Scripture in the Liturgy in Carthage for the next several decades.

    5) You bring up Marcellinus and Honorius, who affirmed heresy under duress. So did St. Peter in the courtyard. But no believer mistakes a tortured confession as a confession of faith. You yourself made a similar point in showing the invalidity of the Robber Council, if memory serves.

    So I think 4 isn't correct, and 5 doesn't disprove my point.

    About the three options I presented in the original post, which do you subscribe to, or do you think that there's a fourth option I overlooked?

    In Christ,

    Joe

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  7. I don't have any issues with Rome's foundation. Nicaea, as you know, though, does not make it the basis for Rome's presbeia. Neither is St. Andrew the basis for Constantinople's dignity, which is explicitly stated to be caused by her new role as imperial center.

    I think the main problem here is in our differing understandings of unity and schism. Schism doesn't necessarily create a dichotomy where one needs to "decide" which is the true Church. This is a very complicated process which your multiple choice model doesn't replicate. Which was the true church, St. Theophilus's or St. John Chrysostom's? Which was the true Church? That of Marcellus or that of St. Gregory the Theologian? In the latter case, which was in communion with Rome? Your model seems predicated on a parts/whole problem, to which your solution is to identify the whole with one part to smooth out any confusion. Unity is more than this.

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  8. Tikhon,

    I'm intrigued by your comment, but unsure exactly what you're saying. Can you spell that out a bit more?

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  9. If you are implying above that the laity cannot know the true faith but can merely assent to a hierarchical injunction, that is erroneous. It is the duty of each and every Christian to preserve the Orthodox faith whole and entire. St. Maximus the Confessor did precisely what you describe as outside the sphere of lay activity: he "settled" a theological dispute. His role goes so far as to make it likely that the decrees of the Lateran Synod were composed by him. So much for simply "following" anyone, either his or any other shepherd. You are well aware that he admits to willingness to break communion with anyone, Rome included, who denied the true faith. Would you describe his approach as Option 2?

    Routinely throughout Church history communion is severed through fear of contamination in heresy or through mere disagreement. But since no local church speaks for the whole Church, these actions do not in se express the Catholic mind of the Church or necessarily speak the last word. For this reason Dioscorus is still treated as a bishop even after II Ephesus and his anathematization by Leo. Eutyches is judged anew. Nestorius is expected to participate at Chalcedon, even though he has been excommunicated by St. Cyril and countless others. The situation you have constructed above does not align with the Church's experience of schism or her understanding of unity. Divisions can be tolerated in the Church for a time, but to claim that the Church cannot even be recognized without the pope, that there is no hope of recognizing a cohesive, historical body, acting according to set parameters and regulations--this appears as a ludicrous abstraction. The intellectual problem is tempting, but it is simply out of touch with reality.

    How do you explain the path that leads to the door of the Church? Who does one follow to decide between the various groups that present themselves as the Church?

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  10. Also, I have responded to your blog before, and I thank you for your hospitality. It is my pleasure to converse with you.

    A word about the first picture on the post. It is a common image, especially when the theme is Orthodoxy in general. It pictures the late Patriarch Pavle of Serbia of blessed memory. He has a pristine reputation for holiness, and I encourage your readers to pray to him. Next to him is Bishop Afanasije, a disciple of the late St. Justin of Chelije. His teacher, St. Justin, was one of the greatest theologians of the 20th, and any, century, a confessor and champion of the faith. His writings are a highly recommended antidote to modern errors and contemporary maladies, both philosophical and ecclesiological. I also encourage your readers to pray to him.

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  11. Hi Joe,

    With Anglican hat on I suppose I'd be in category (1). The trouble is that when a bishop (or king) schisms on your behalf, can you really get back to (3) without having first to decide that actually you know best (2)?

    Or to put it another way, how can I submit to the Pope's authority without first deciding for myself that I should submit to the Pope's authority? How would this make me any different to the myriad of Protestants out there?

    In contrast, I am a 'cradle Anglican'. This is like a marriage. Even though my husband is no longer ideal, and I can see better choices outside my window, with whom I would love and long to be in union, I see no righteous way to make the switch, unless the Church of England were to cease to exist (through collapse or unification).

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  12. Tess,

    Good question. I think that the answer is that the layperson doesn’t need to conclude that what the Orthodox affirm about Petrine and papal primacy is wrong. That even accepting it as true still points towards siding with the Catholic Church.

    Just take what the Orthodox affirm (and Tikhon, if I’m getting any of this wrong, please don’t hesitate to correct me); namely, that there exists:

    (a) some sort of Petrine primacy,
    (b) some sort of connection between Peter and Rome,
    (c) some sort of historic Roman primacy, confirmed by multiple Ecumenical Councils, and
    (d) Peter as an icon of the episcopate. As St. John Chrysostom taught, Peter individually represents all bishops (again, in some manner).

    In other words, I’m laying out a sort of bare minimum Roman/Petrine primacy that I think the Orthodox would feel comfortable affirming. It’s not radically different from the role I understand the Queen or Archbishop of Canterbury are supposed to play in Anglicanism, really – the visible symbol(s) of eclessial unity.

    In addition, the Orthodox also teach that
    (e) Christ prayed that His Church would be One, and
    (f) that this Oneness involves visible union.
    (g) this visible union is Catholic (universal) in scope.

    My point was that just given the above (points not in dispute), the only way to hold to (e), (f), and (g) is for Christians to side with the icon of the episcopate. Otherwise, how will the Church possibly act as One throughout the world?

    The alternative Option 1 tends towards dividing the Body of Christ into large chunks (and has); the alternative Option 2 tends towards dividing the Body of Christ into small chunks (and has). And both Option 1 and 2 thereby negate what the Orthodox themselves affirm in (e), (f) and (g).

    So I don’t think that an Orthodox layman has to say to his bishop, “I’m converting to Catholicism because I know more than you about the history and complex dynamic of the Roman See, and its relationship with the broader Church.” I think he could just say, “I believe what you tell me about the Rome See, and out of faithfulness to the Church universal, and a loving desire to see Her in perfect union, I’m going to act on it.”

    In Christ,

    Joe

    P.S. To use a simpler example: if the Anglican Communion splits, you can either determine the merits of it yourself, go with your local bishop, or simply side with the Archbishop of Canterbury. It’s this third option that seems like the only feasible way of ensuring long-term union within the Communion.

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  13. Tikhon,

    You've noted that "Routinely throughout Church history communion is severed through fear of contamination in heresy or through mere disagreement. But since no local church speaks for the whole Church, these actions do not in se express the Catholic mind of the Church or necessarily speak the last word." How is the last work achieved? Because the Orthodox-Catholic wound has festered for a millennium.

    "Divisions can be tolerated in the Church for a time," perhaps, but Orthodoxy seems incapable of resolving this one. And for most or all of that millennium, the Orthodox have been in the minority, which seems to undermine your point that Christians will simply recognize the Church sans pope.

    I agree that the duty of the laity is to know and hold the whole of the faith, but they're not the ones in charge of settling theological disputes. Not every layman is going to be a St. Maximus the Confessor. So it seems to me that there needs to be (a) some way that the laity can determine the true Church (and thus, the true faith), and (b) know which side to take in the event of a complex theological dispute resulting in schism.

    The model proposed by Orthodoxy would seem to suggest we should go with the local Patriarch or go with the See of Rome, the icon of the episcopacy. In either case, that points to Pope Benedict for those of us in the West.

    But if you think we're called to break away from the primus and our Patriarch to follow the minority party in the schism, on what basis can we do that, that doesn't involve us standing in judgment of the hierarchy?

    God bless,

    Joe

    P.S. Loved the second comment. All of that was news, and they can be assured my prayers.

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  14. Shoot, I had two questions I forgot to ask earlier:

    (1) What's the quote from St. Maximus the Confessor about being willing to break with Rome over the faith that you alluded to?

    (2) I'm not sure what you're talking about with a schism between Pope Marcellus and St. Gregory of Nazianzus: I don't believe that they were even alive at the same time. Can you clarify this?

    Also, I've really appreciated picking your brain on this, so thanks!

    Joe

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  15. Is there a convenient way to read all five parts of your series on the role of Peter in the early church?

    For what it's worth, I did an 8-part series on the Petrine primacy in the New Testament, seeking to establish what I call "the Petrine Fact."

    http://www.jimmyakin.org/2009/09/the-petrine-fact-part-1.html

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  16. "(1) Rome was Founded by St. Peter and St. Paul"
    We also affirm that they founded Antioch, and first (St. Peter and the rest of the Apostles deferred ("as if by the Savior's command," as St. Clement puts it) to St. James the Brother of God presiding over the Mother Church of Jerusalem). And the four patriarchal lines the Vatican has put in Antioch (Latin, Melchite, Syriac, Maronite) all affirm the Orthodox line in the Meletian schism, not the line Rome affirmed (which died out in the lifetime of St. Jerome, whom it had ordained). Which leads to
    (2) Historically, Constantinople was Second to Rome.
    Historically, Constantinople was a suffragan of Heracleia, itself in the Patriarchate of Rome (with the rest of the Balkans, until Chalcedon). The import of the canon first made New Rome autocephalous of such jurisdiction, and as Abp. Peter L'Huillier points out
    http://books.google.com/books?id=Umse6CFnt3MC&pg=PA119&dq=%22This+canon+is+closely+connected+with+the+preceding+one:+in+the+early+texts,+they+are+not+even+seperated%22&hl=en#v=onepage&q&f=false
    it is connected with the preceeding canon, which limits bishops and even even patriarchs acts within their own jurisdiction, from which New Rome was being exempted (and connected with the following canon, which nullfies the interference of the Pope of Alexandria in Constantinople). Rome wasn't mentioned because she wasn't there, and as a further problem, was not in unambiguous communion with the Fathers at the Council, Pat. St. Meletius of Antioch opening the Council, and the Council refusing to recognize his Roman backed rival Paulinus, instead consecrating Pat. St. Flavian to succeed Pat. St. Meletius on his repose (the line that even the Vatican's "Patriarchs (plural) of Antioch" claim lineage from, not the dead end line of Paulinus, the ordainer of St. Jerome). Of coure, the Ecumenical Councils latter summarized the reasoning of the Fathers on the elevation, of both Romes:"Everywhere following the decrees of the Holy Fathers, and aware of the recently recognized Canon of the one hundred and fifty most God-beloved Bishops who convened during the reign of Theodosius the Great of pious memory, who became emperor in the imperial city of Constantinople otherwise known as New Rome; we too decree and vote the same things in regard to the privileges and priorities of the most holy Church of that same Constantinople and New Rome. And this is in keeping with the fact that the Fathers naturally enough granted the priorities to the throne of Old Rome on account of her being the imperial capital. And motivated by the same object and aim the one hundred and fifty most God-beloved Bishops have accorded the like priorities to the most holy throne of New Rome, with good reason deeming that the city which is the seat of an empire, and of a senate, and is equal to old imperial Rome in respect of other privileges and priorities, should be magnified also as she is in respect of ecclesiastical affairs, as coming next after her, or as being second to her."

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  17. "So the Orthodox acknowledge that in the ancient Church, Peter was the first of the Apostles, and the Roman See was the first of the Church. Some sort of primacy existed. Any Orthodox denying this is denying what the Ecumenical Patriarch concedes, or what the First Council of Constantinople concedes."

    Unity of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, however, is not defined by communion with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, as was suggested at the council of Ravenna recently. It is defined by communion with the local bishop in the Orthodox diptychs of the Catholic Church held in common by the autocephalous primates of that One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, as the "episcopate is one, each one holding it for the whole."

    Yes, some sort of primacy existed: St. James exercised it at the Council of Jerusalem, and the Emperor Theodosius, codidying the Nicea-Constantinopolitan Faith into law, recognized it when he defined as Catholic those in communion with the Pope of Rome AND the Pope of Alexandria. But as Pastor Aeternus defines that, no, as can be shown from the Life of Shenouti (whose writings were the examplar of Coptic literature, but his chief claim to fame was cracking his staff over Nestorius' head at the Council of Ephesus) by his disciple Besa, which dates not only before the schism of East-West, and the Schism of Chalcedon, but nearly the Schism of Ephesus. "One day," Besa says, "our father Shenoute and our Lord Jesus were sitting down talking together" (a very common occurance according to the Vita) and the Bishop of Shmin came wishing to meet the abbot. When Shenoute sent word that he was too busy to come to the bishop, the bishop got angry and threatened to excommunicate him for disobedience. "The servant went to our father [Shenouti] and said to him what the bishop had told him. But my father smiled graciously with laughter and said: "See what this man of flesh and blood has said! Behold, here sitting with me is he who created heaven and earth! I will not go while I am with him." But the Savior said to my father: "O Shenoute, arise and go out to the bishop, lest he excommunicate you. Otherwise, I cannot let you enter [heaven] because of the covenant I made with Peter, saying 'What you will bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and what you will loose on earth will be loosed in heaven' [Matthew 16:19]. When my father heard these words of the Savior, he arose, went out to the bishop and greeted him." Now Shmin is just a town in southern Egypt, and the bishop there just a suffragan of Alexandria. So it would seem to be odd if the Vatican's interpretation of Matthew 16:19 were the ancient one why this would be applied to a bishop far from Rome, in a land where St. Peter never himself founded any Church. But it makes perfect sense from the Orthodox interpretation of Matthew 16:19 (the Gospel associated with Antioch, btw, and not with Rome, i.e. Mark), and indeed, according to "the Catholic Encyclopedia," the overwhelming consensus of the Fathers.
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08631b.htm

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  18. Isa,

    (1) Are you saying St. Paul helped found Antioch? And we agree that James was Bishop of Jerusalem. Of the Patriarchates, Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria are Petrine in origin (with the third founded by Peter's disciple Mark). Constantinople is Roman (as your quote shows). And Rome is both Petrine and Pauline and Roman.

    (2) I think you should re-read Canons II and III of the Council. Canon II, as you note, limits “bishops and even even patriarchs [to] acts within their own jurisdiction,” but the only Patriarchs it applied to were Antioch and Alexandria, as the text makes clear.

    Neither Constantinople nor Rome was mentioned in Canon II. You attempt to show from this that “New Rome was being exempted” by not being mentioned, while “Rome wasn't mentioned because she wasn't there.” That’s special pleading, and directly contradicted by Canon III, which (a) mentioned Rome, and (b) established that Constantinople was hierarchically inferior to Rome.

    As you said, read the two canons together. Orthodox Wiki says this on the subject:

    “From the time of the first Ecumenical Council on, Byzantine canon law had always assigned primacy of honor to Rome, for example Nicea canon 6.  Even when the capital of the Empire was moved to Constantinople, the "new Rome," the priority of the old Rome was safeguarded. Constantinople 3 states: "As for the Bishop of Constantinople, let him have the prerogatives of honor after the bishop of Rome, seeing that this city is the new Rome." Even when Anna Comnena, daughter of Emperor Alexis I, tried to interpret "after" in a purely chronological sense, she was corrected by both Zonaras and Balsamon, who maintained that "after" certainly shows hierarchical inferiority.

    So I don't think you'll find any way to turn this Council into a way of asserting Constantinople's hierarchical superior, or even equality, with Rome… because that's just not true (even from an Orthodox perspective).

    As for the rest of your argument, I'll just note two things. First, even bishops in communion with Rome can have their lineages wiped out. Both East and West have seen once proud regions lose the faith wholly. And second, schism still preserves apostolic succession. So it's not a counter-argument to show that the Antiochian line that left communion with Rome came back. There are plenty of examples of a group going into, and coming back from, Schism.

    In Christ,

    Joe

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  19. A few important points here:

    (1) Constantinople's claim of succession from St Andrew is purely gratuitous. It has no basis in history or the Fathers. The Catholic encyclopedia says this was a late fabrication to give Constantinople credence when competing with Rome for Church headship.

    (2) The idea of Constantinople being "New Rome" is a political invention, again purely gratuitous, nothing to do with actual Apostolic tradition. The pope is not a Patriarch, so it's wrong to speak of 5 Patriarchs. Canon 3 of the Second Council was not accepted by the Catholic Church and here is why.
    Look at what Pope St Leo the Great said in a stern rebuke to the Patriarch of Constantinople in around 450:

    "And so after the not irreproachable beginning of your [Pat of Const] ordination, after the consecration of the bishop of Antioch, which you [Patriarch of Constantinople] claimed for yourself contrary to the regulations of the canons, I [Pope Leo] grieve, beloved, that you have fallen into this too, that you should try to break down the most sacred constitutions of the Nicene canons: as if this opportunity had expressly offered itself to you for the See of Alexandria to lose its privilege of second place, and the church of Antioch to forego its right to being third in dignity, in order that when these places had been subjected to your jurisdiction, all metropolitan bishops might be deprived of their proper honour. By which unheard of and never before attempted excesses you went so far beyond yourself as to drag into an occasion of self-seeking, and force connivance from that holy Synod which the zeal of our most Christian prince had convened, solely to extinguish heresy and to confirm the Catholic Faith: as if the unlawful wishes of a multitude could not be rejected, and that state of things which was truly ordained by the Holy Spirit in the canon of Nicæa could in any part be overruled by any one. Let no synodal councils flatter themselves upon the size of their assemblies, and let not any number of priests, however much larger, dare either to compare or to prefer themselves to those 318 bishops, seeing that the Synod of Nicæa is hallowed by God with such privilege, that whether by fewer or by more ecclesiastical judgments are supported, whatever is opposed to their authority is utterly destitute of all authority."(Letter 106)

    In other words, at the time of Nicaae, and Canon 6 reflects this, the Apostolic position was that Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch were the big three, in descending order of authority. When Constantinople became a city in the mid 300s, it became such an important metro area that the bishop there began fighting for greater prominence. In the course of doing this, a wedge started to form between them and Rome, with Constantinople attempting at power grabs whenever possible.

    The problem with their logic is that not only does it trample upon tradition, but just like how Constantinople claims Rome faded from significance over time, now the Russian Orthodox claim to be "Third Rome" taking the place of the fading significance of Constantinople.

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  20. Joe-
    "Are you saying St. Paul helped found Antioch?"
    No, the Church says that, in Scripture in fact (Acts 11:25-6, etc).
    As for classifying patriarchates as Jacobean, Petrine, Pauline, Roman, Avignonese, whatever, St. Paul answered that at (I) Corinth(ians 1:11-3). The Pentarchy is of no more (or for that matter, of any less) divine origin than the episcopacy/papacy of Rome. The Apostles handed the episcopate to each bishop to hold for the whole, and with the discression of how to organize its functioning. The episcopate being one is of divine origin, subsisting in the one priesthood of Christ, and therefore unchangeable in that nature: how it is organized can and has changed as circumstances warrent. Who founded which see is not a determinate factor: otherwise, Cyprus would be under Petrine/Pauline Antioch as Antioch claimed, and not autocephalous as the Ecumenical Councils reaffirmed; and Alexandria, founded by St. Peter's disciple, would not outrank Antioch, founded by St. Peter himself as his first see.

    If it were just a matter of Apostolic foundations, Jerusalem would have retained the primacy: as it was, it was under the jurisdiction of Antioch at Constantinople I, enjoying the rights Constantinople gained by c. 3 at that council, Jerusalem's equivalent being canon 7 of Nicea I (that canon affirming "ancient tradition" and "custom [that] has prevailed"). Such a canon had to be enacted to preserve "ancient custom," as it contradicted the general rule affirmed in canon 6 as to the solicitude of the major sees. In that canon, the T in O Three-Continent world assumed by that canon was dealt with by recognizing the jurisdiction Rome was exercising in the West from Europe, Alexandria over Africa, and Antioch in Asia over All the East. The main metropolis of the continent presided. It had nothing, or nearly nothing (after all, the Apostles were no fools, and would of course set up base in the spot most likely to reach the most, the metropolises of course occupying said spot) to do with the Apostles, or determined even Roman administration: Antioch was founded by St. Peter and served as the seat of Roman administration of the East, yet it was preceded by Alexandria outshining it in overall magnitude, although it was founded by St. Peter's disciple, and never served as a capital for Caesar.

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  21. Isa,

    Right, nobody's claiming it's a matter of having just been founded by an Apostle. But having said that, it's not called "the Apostolic See" by the Church Fathers for nothing.

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  22. Joe
    "Right, nobody's claiming it's a matter of having just been founded by an Apostle. But having said that, it's not called "the Apostolic See" by the Church Fathers for nothing."

    Nor was it for nothing that the edict ennacting the Faith of Nicea and Constantinople I into law refers to the Pope of Alexandria as "a man of apostolic holiness," nor for nothing that the Pope of Alexandria's representative to the Sixth Ecumenical Council signed its anathematization of Pope Honorius of Rome et alia "Peter a presbyter and holding the place of the Apostolic See of the great city Alexandria," the Fathers of the Council elsewhere refering to "'the most holy and apostolic sees of Alexandria, Antioch, and the Holy City [Jerusalem]," and any number of examples which can be brought from the Fathers at length. The Catholic Encyclopediahttp://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01640c.htm can claim "Heresy and barbarian violence swept away all the particular Churches which could lay claim to an Apostolic see, until Rome alone remained; to Rome, therefore, the term applies as a proper name," but that conclusion comes from a process in the West the article itself recognizes (but overgeneralizes) "the title Apostolicus, formerly applied to bishops and metropolitans, was gradually restricted to the Pope of Rome." In the West, where only Rome (besides Malta) could claim the title of "Apostolic See," it meant something different in the East where dozens (hundreds?) of such sees existed and do claim the title.

    Augustus made all roads run to Rome, not SS. Peter and Paul (the latter usually forgetten nowadays in the West for founding the see of Rome, but remembered for it in the East). Had Nicea I happen a century later, i.e. after the sacking of Rome, it is a question whether Rome's primacy would have survived-two centuries later it most probably would not have-and there would not have been any question of its supremacy.

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  23. Isa,

    You’d originally said that it’s not just a matter of Apostolic origin. I agreed, but noted that the term Apostolic See isn’t thrown around for nothing. In other words, while Apostolic origin isn’t the only thing that matters, the Church does treat it like it matters. You followed up with a bunch of examples proving my point. Are you actually disagreeing with what I’m saying?

    In my comment to Tess, I think I most concisely laid out (and lettered!) the eight basic points that Orthodox affirm and which, taken together, point towards union with the Catholic Church. Of these, you addressed (c), saying that:

    “Had Nicea I happen a century later, i.e. after the sacking of Rome, it is a question whether Rome's primacy would have survived-two centuries later it most probably would not have-and there would not have been any question of its supremacy.”

    There are a few things to consider in response. First, Ecumenical Councils are guided by the Holy Spirit, so I’d be very cautious about suggesting that it was some mere accident of history, as you do. Second, subsequent history proves you wrong. The Second Ecumenical Council happens only a few years before the sack of Rome, while the city of Rome was weak, yet it expressly reaffirmed the Roman Bishop’s primacy. And none of the later Ecumenical Councils reduced Rome’s authority, or left a different See in control of the Church.

    In fact, as I quoted from Orthodox Wiki, Zonaras and Balsamon corrected Anna Comnena and reiterated that Constantine is hierarchically inferior to Rome. That was in the 12th century, well after the fall of Rome -- after the Great Schism, even.

    Having said all of that, surely, the Holy Spirit could have done things differently than He did. We could all follow the Bishop of Kathmandu, had He willed it that way. But the fact He did them this way is surely not insignificant, or simply accidental. I understand you still to be conceding (c) – just that you’re not happy about it. Is that correct?

    Finally, I laid out what I think are the three ways that a Christian can approach the Great Schism. Which do you subscribe to, or do you think that there’s another option that I’m omitting?

    In Christ,

    Joe

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  24. I don't think you realize how much of Roman Catholicism you are reading into the Orthodox Church. We do not interpret the ut unum sint in light of modern ecumenism, as you do. The Church is one at all times. Christ prays for the unity of believers in Himself, so that he is all in all. The "they" is not all "Christians" according to your definition, but the actual members of the Church.

    And did St. Mark of Ephesus follow his local patriarch? You present a caricature of an "Orthodox model." The Orthodox Church is episcopal, its communion being synodal, both locally and globally, with only the former having a canonical basis, the former being sacramental and charismatic. The "model" of arbitrating disputes is one thing, and a Christian's "determinations" are another. The former are solidly grounded in canonical procedure, the former are unquestionably more mysterious and difficult. But we shall return to this.

    Also, you assume that we have the same concepts of apostolic succession. The grace of the Church, apostolic succession included, does not function in the juridical parameters you are used to. Schismatics do not necessarily have apostolic succession by virtue of their "valid orders." These are fundamental theological divergences that you need to take into consideration if you hope to reach Orthodox Christians in your apologetics (instead of merely having them hit back all the time). There is a reason your logic is so often unconvincing.

    I don't quite understand your reasoning about the "minority." Again, you are talking about ecumenism, not the Church. The Church is not divided. Divisions IN the Church do not create an Orthodox minority in the denominational sense you seem to be expounding.

    As to the laity's "determination" of the true Church (which again sounds like one of two groups is already outside), I remind you of my question as to converts. Do you refer to their coming to believe as a "determination of who to follow:" the Lord Jesus, Mohammed, or Buddha? This seems shallow and discordant with universal experience. And once they "determine" this, how are they to "determine" which denomination is the true Church?

    Holding the true faith, and the grace and power by which that happens, is no more "judgment" (of the hierarchy) than is belief in God in spite of atheist parents. Whose job is it to teach their children about God? Who do the children follow if the parents disagree? I can see a logic similar to yours above which comes to an unsettling paterfamilial absolutism.

    It seems you have expectations of the way God relates to man (at least in the Church--i.e., making it a matter not of faith but of practicality) which are not consistent with how we see Him work in general, either in our lives or in history. The Jews, too, had had quite the trouble "determining" to accept Christ. How did they do it? Again, I grant you the solution of the papacy has its attractive elements. I simply don't believe it true.

    P.S. That's Marcellus of Ancyra, not any pope. That St. Maximus's allegiance to any church was a matter of Orthodoxy and not of ecclesiological principle is seen in his confession of the faith throughout his polemical writings and is recorded in his Vita by Exavoulitis.

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  25. Tikhon,

    I should have been clearer, perhaps. As I explained at the very top of this post, my intended audience was particularly those Protestants torn between Orthodoxy and Catholicism (as opposed to an overture to convert existing Orthodox). I’ve met plenty of these people, convinced that Christ established a visible Church, but unsure how to act in light of that.

    That’s why I think that it's necessary to provide some sort of epistemological model. Unlike the example you lay out of Jesus, Mohammed, and Buddha, these individuals actually are comparing Orthodoxy and Catholicism side-by-side, trying to determine which God is calling them to.

    Your answer (if I’m reading your comment correctly) is that they should just be guided by faith. Obviously, faith plays a huge role, but leaving it to the layman to resolve complex theological disputes is exactly the frustration that they have with Protestantism. See Tess’ comment above, for example. And worse, because our reason is tainted by the Fall, the result is (as I said in my original post) that the Body of Christ is cut into tiny pieces.

    And just to be sure that I’m not misunderstanding you, or reading too much Catholicism into your comments:

    1) What distinction are you drawing between “Christians” and “actual members of the Church”?

    2) When you say that “Schismatics do not necessarily have apostolic succession by virtue of their ‘valid orders,’” I don’t know what to make of that. How can you tell if they do or don’t? I’ll point out here that at least in the West, this is a long-settled question, from centuries before the Schism. St. Optatus was clear on this, as were countless others. Do these Fathers count, since they’re pre-Schism, even though they’re Western?

    3) I still can’t tell whether you’re saying that Christians should always be in union with the local Patriarch or not. You responded with a rhetorical question about Mark of Ephesus, but he’s not exactly venerated on the Catholic side, and I don’t know what his relationship with the Patriarch was like.

    God bless,

    Joe

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  26. Nick-
    "(1) Constantinople's claim of succession from St Andrew is purely gratuitous. It has no basis in history or the Fathers. The Catholic encyclopedia says this was a late fabrication to give Constantinople credence when competing with Rome for Church headship."
    LOL. The CE is wrong.

    Any number of traditions of St. Andrew evangelizing Byzantium (a relatively import city, it had just over a century before withstood the seige of the emperor Septimus Severus, who rebuilt it so it regained its previous propserity) predating Constantine. The Assyrians preserve such a tradition in Syriac, and being outside the empire and in its traditional foe's domain, they have no reason to help Constantinople in claiming apostolic roots. Apostolic tradition has always affirmed St. Andrew evangelizing the Black Sea basin, and Byzantium stood at its entrace: it would make no sense if he did not sojourn there.

    The use of St. Andrew to promote Constantinople as an Apostolic See, yes, that is later. But him founding the see, no, that is quite ancient.

    Not that that means much, as each bishop consecrated into Apostolic succession receives the episcopacy in its entirety for the whole, and transmits it likewise, regardless of which see over which he presides. The Orthodox diptychs of the Catholic Church contains 15 primates, the EP just appears first.

    "(2) The idea of Constantinople being "New Rome" is a political invention, again purely gratuitous, nothing to do with actual Apostolic tradition."
    Of course it was a political invention. It was founded on seven hills, given an senate, an emperor settling there with senatorial families etc. from Old Rome. It was founded to be the new capital, not a new see. It was over a half century after its dedication as New Rome before its bishop became autocephalous.

    "The pope is not a Patriarch, so it's wrong to speak of 5 Patriarchs."
    The original Pope is the one in Alexandria:the Church confered the title on him in the 3rd century;the patriarch of Rome didn't take the title until several centuries later. And his title is "Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa." The former Patriarch of the West was also a patriarch of the "Pentarchy." The only reason why it is wrong to speak of 5 patriarchs is because there were more than five (the Catholicos of Georgia is and was also a patriarch), and there are 9 now.

    "Look at what Pope St Leo the Great said in a stern rebuke to the Patriarch of Constantinople in around 450..."
    Years later, he was whinning in letters to the Empress that his own suffragans recognized the jurisdiction of Constantinople, and previously, at Chalcedon the Roman legates themselves raised the question of why EP St. Flavian was not given his rank as second at Ephesus II.

    "In other words, at the time of Nicaae, and Canon 6 reflects this, the Apostolic position was that Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch were the big three, in descending order of authority."
    No, that is the later Roman view, later elaborated by the Vatican. The Apostolic sees of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem held/hold otherwise: Rome had authority over the West, Alexandria had authority over All Egypt, Antioch had authority over Asia and All the East/Orient, which canon 6 affirmed. Rome preceeded Alexandria and Antioch, but had no authority in Egypt or the East, and Antioch did not have less authority than Alexandria. Or Rome.

    "When Constantinople became a city in the mid 300s, it became such an important metro area that the bishop there began fighting for greater prominence"
    Most of the fighting came from Alexandria (Maxim the Cynic, the Synod of the Oak, Ephesus II),and I say that as an Egyptian. Jerusalem got its patriarchate "fighting for greater prominence."

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  27. You said: "Leaving it to the layman to resolve complex theological disputes is exactly the frustration that they have with Protestantism."

    I believe that's a reduction of the Protestant problem. Certainly they are looking for authority. But, they are not necessarily looking for real faith to be taken out of the equation. Protestantism doesn't simply lack bishops, it lacks Tradition in toto (synodical definitions, divine worship, normative hymography, iconography, patristic dogmatic, exegetical, and pastoral writings). So reducing the package of faith-support which the Church offers to a "bishop to follow" should seem simplistic even to a Protestant.

    Behold how your only option besides "follow a given bishop" is follow your own reason. Faith is not limited a conclusion based on reason, nor is completely detached from all of those constitutive elements of Tradition. The Church is never cut into tiny pieces. The Body of Christ is incapable of being rent. The most that can happen is that people leave the Church. And you still haven't shown me the essential difference between coming to the Church and staying in it.

    To answer your questions.

    1. Catholics, Lutherans, and Baptists, are commonly called Christians. They are not in the Church.

    2. I'm happy to discuss divergent ecclesiologies, but you must recognize that this is a digression. My point is that you assume there is common ground where there is not.

    3. My point about St. Mark was that your "Orthodox model" is not authentic. An Orthodox Christian can legitimately be out of communion with what would otherwise be his patriarch, as indeed the Church has always said.

    You are wrong about Protestants. If they have realized that their system falls short, it is not because they desire a single voice to drown out all the others, so that the cacophony of conflicting opinions is glazed over by a solo. Rather, they want the living organism that can bring all the voices into real harmony by giving birth to the melody within their very selves.

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  28. Tikhon,

    You wrote:
    You are wrong about Protestants. If they have realized that their system falls short, it is not because they desire a single voice to drown out all the others, so that the cacophony of conflicting opinions is glazed over by a solo. Rather, they want the living organism that can bring all the voices into real harmony by giving birth to the melody within their very selves.


    The truth is, the Catholic model isn't "a single voice to drown out all the others" at all. That radically misunderstands Catholic ecclesiology.

    In fact, we agree that the Church should be a harmonious choir of voices, even singing in different keys.

    But that harmonious choir sings in tune at least in part because of the Coryphaeus. And St. John Chrysostom wasn't silent on who that Coryphaeus was.

    You also said:
    I believe that's a reduction of the Protestant problem. Certainly they are looking for authority. But, they are not necessarily looking for real faith to be taken out of the equation.
    I'm not suggesting real faith be taken out of the equation. I'm asking how we ground that faith in knowledge.

    Protestantism doesn't simply lack bishops, it lacks Tradition in toto (synodical definitions, divine worship, normative hymography, iconography, patristic dogmatic, exegetical, and pastoral writings). So reducing the package of faith-support which the Church offers to a "bishop to follow" should seem simplistic even to a Protestant.

    I don't believe that I'm doing any such thing. I'm saying that the Church at least gives us a bishop to follow, not that it only does so.

    In any case, both Catholicism and Orthodoxy offer a rich patrimony of "synodical definitions, divine worship, normative hymography, iconography, patristic dogmatic, exegetical, and pastoral writings." I'm trying to figure out by what principle you propose a Protestant knows which to immerse himself in.

    1. Catholics, Lutherans, and Baptists, are commonly called Christians. They are not in the Church.

    Does this extend to questions of salvation? That is, do you view all non-Orthodox Christians as damned? And am I to understand that you don't view that even as Christians?

    3. My point about St. Mark was that your "Orthodox model" is not authentic. An Orthodox Christian can legitimately be out of communion with what would otherwise be his patriarch, as indeed the Church has always said.

    I don't get how this works with your earlier claim about how the Body of Christ is incapable of being rent. Are you saying that the Patriarch in this case isn't part of the Church?

    In Christ,

    Joe

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  29. 1. Elegant analogy with the coryphaeus, but you admit that this is a harmony which is produced EXTERNALLY. My point was precisely that the Church produces harmony from WITHIN, and this perhaps appeals more to Protestants who already centuries ago rejected your merely external unity.

    2. Keep reading St. John Chrysostom, you won't be disappointed. He's good for a lot more than proof-texts.

    3. What kind of knowledge do you propose? This I would contest too is not appealing to Protestants who by and large acknowledge the Christian walk as one of faith.

    4. In making the whole issue WHO one follows instead of HOW one follows [Christ], you do indeed reduce it to the bishop.

    5. Again, you're not making those elements of Tradition constitutive of the dynamic of fidelity. Regardless, it's clear that with regard to at least hymnography, iconography, and patristic writings, these are not normative for Catholicism. Don't confuse the use of imagery, the use of music, and appeals to (even love of) ancient sources with the patrimony of the Church.

    6. Again communion (and schism, etc.) is not as black and white as you want to make it, or as you understand it. But that's not the point. We can argue about this stuff, but the matter here is that your 3 Options don't apply outside of an already Roman Catholic framework precisely because one is not limited to "following" the patriarch (you guys make way too much of patriarchs), or even one's bishop.

    But you continue to avoid the question. Why for you is there a substantive difference between the process of coming to the Church and that of staying in the Church?

    In sum, your options are void because they presume that preserving (or even finding?) the true faith is a matter either of "assent" (to use the language of the Magisterium) or of rationalism. For this reason these choices do not resound with Orthodox Christians, and they should not mislead Protestants.

    Tell me how one can come to (nay, MUST) believe rightly that Christ is the divine Savior without an external criterion, and yet the process is so dramatically changed once in the Church.

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  30. Joe-
    I've seen your more recent posts, but want to catch up. In the meantime "In other words, while Apostolic origin isn’t the only thing that matters, the Church does treat it like it matters. You followed up with a bunch of examples proving my point.": what examples do you mean?
    But to catch up:
    "(2) I think you should re-read Canons II and III of the Council. Canon II, as you note, limits “bishops and even even patriarchs [to] acts within their own jurisdiction,” but the only Patriarchs it applied to were Antioch and Alexandria, as the text makes clear."
    The text makes no distinction between patriarchs and suffragans, calling all alike "bishops," which they are, and goes on to apply itself (to use the future terms)to the Metropolitans of Asia, Pontus and Thrace. Had Constantinople not arisen, Asia might have become its own patriarchate, as Jerusalem did:the canon marks when it was definitely seperated from Antioch (it was not clear before, and their boundary would fluctuate over the centuries). The text of the canon states itself as "in accordance with the regulations decreed in Nicaea," which of course deal with the issue of the patriarch of Rome.
    The text mentions Alexandria, as it, without canonical authority, consecrated a bishop of Constantinople (vacated as a void act in canon 4), and Antioch, whose Patriarch had opened and presided over the Council in preference to Constantinople's bishop St. Gregory Nazianzus, and the communion with which see forms the subject matter of canon 5 ("we have accepted also those in Antioch who confess a single divinity of Father and of Son and of Holy Spirit"), and whose jurisdictions was demarkated by the canon.
    Rome's jurisdiction, other than making Constantinople autocephlaous, was not touched (for one thing, the Council was convened as an Eastern Council, i.e. of the bishops of the East Roman Empire, and only bishops from the Roman Patriarchate in the East Roman Empire came), which is why it is mentioned in that connection, actually to remove Constantinople from Heracleia's jurisdiction. It was exempted in canon 3, not canon 2. Long before Anna Komnena, canon 28 of Chalcedon (which I quoted above, but I see I failed to attribute) expanded on that, defining Constantinople as both equal to and after Rome.
    (btw, in the interest of full disclosure, I don't think much of Balsamon, an absentee patriarch who despoiled the patriarchate's patrimony).
    As to "hierarchal inferiority," it meant no more then that it means now: a higher number in the diptych order. Nothing less.

    "So I don't think you'll find any way to turn this Council into a way of asserting Constantinople's hierarchical superior, or even equality, with Rome… because that's just not true (even from an Orthodox perspective)."
    The Council only asserted Constantinople's autocephaly, as I said. It did not even give her any jurisdiction except over the capital, i.e. herself.

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  31. Point the One: Your main objection seems to be that for a long time the Papacy wasn’t used as the final arbiter to settle disagreements. I think you would agree though, that at least in some early controversies the Pope was used as the final arbiter. Which means that the mechanism for settling questions was present in the Church early on, even if people often didn’t recognize it or use it. Just like infant baptism was present in the Church early on, even if people often didn’t recognize it or use it. So what?

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  32. POINT THE TWO: A common theme of yours seems to be that nobody really needs some sort of infallible voice in order to know the truth. You say, speaking of Protestants, “If they have realized that their system falls short, it is not because they desire a single voice to drown out all the others, so that the cacophony of conflicting opinions is glazed over by a solo.” I have to say your image seems to fit very well with Matthew 16 itself, when Peter’s voice erects a standard of truth against which to measure all the erroneous answers proffered to the simple question, “Who is Jesus.” Also, it sure fits nicely with my personal experience. If I have a question, especially about something important (say, my son’s eye disease) it’s great to get an answer from a definitive expert. That’s my instinct when it comes to questions of the faith too. Why wouldn’t a lot of protestants feel the same way? Actually, I think you realize this, that people want assurance of the truth, and that they look for an expert. So I’m not sure you really meant what you said in that particular quote.

    What you really seem to be saying is that that’s just not the way faith works. That God shows people the truth in His own mysterious ways, and that human worries about clarity or consistency or certitude don’t really come into play when somebody joins the Church. But aren’t there many, many people who come to know both Christ and his Church largely (although, of course, not exclusively) through a careful analysis of the plausibility of the claims involved? Don’t human questions come up, like,

    1. “Is this Church’s claim plausible, PRACTICALLY speaking?”
    2. “Is this Church’s claim plausible, INTELLECTUALLY speaking?”
    3. “Is this Church’s claim plausible, HISTORICALLY speaking?”

    I notice that Joe seems to be addressing each of these questions, but you seem to be interested in addressing only the third. You mention how certain Catholic claims have “intellectual” or “practical” appeal, but dismiss those based on your own historical arguments. What if Joe acknowledged that Orthodox claims have “historical” appeal, and then dismissed those based on intellectual and practical arguments?

    In other words, questions of practicality, intellectual coherence, and history are all fundamental human concerns, and a Church which is unable to satisfy those concerns fails at making a strong presentation of the Gospel. Any Church which doesn’t think it worthwhile to satisfy these fundamental human concerns is the Church which is ultimately, to use your words, “Out of touch with reality.”


    Now to take up the question of which Church’s claims are practically plausible. Paul gives the Church the following injunction: “I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.” (I Cor 1) Now who, practically speaking, has been able to achieve that goal with greater success than any other religious community in history? The answer is fairly clear: the Catholic Church. Still today the largest group of people in the world calling themselves Christian also call themselves Catholic. And, practically speaking again, is it not just intuitively more plausible that a Church which has a single voice which it can turn to for final appeal is the most likely to preserve the unity Paul urges?
    Your case for Orthodoxy isn’t nearly as plausible on a practical level. In fact, you don’t really present any resources which Orthodoxy can use in helping someone see the practical wisdom of the Church. You do say that the Orthodox Church has a lot of great stuff, but as Joe points out, so do other Churches. When it comes to avoiding schism, I don’t see what you have at all.

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  33. And you get really hard to understand when you talk about whether the Church is divided or not. At one place you say, “Divisions can be tolerated in the Church for a time.” Then you say later that, “The Church is one at all times,” and still later that “The Church is incapable of being rent.” With paradoxes like that, it’s pretty ironic that you’d be the one to say to Joe, “There is a reason your logic is so unconvincing.” So much for intellectual plausibility.

    Lastly, you really shouldn’t write things like, “Keep reading St. John Chrysostom, you won't be disappointed. He's good for a lot more than proof-texts.” If you want to say that Chrysostom quotes usually invoked by Catholics are taken out of context and don’t make the relevant point, go ahead. But this is just trying to belittle Joe and show your own erudition – which is, certainly in this area, considerable.

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  34. By the way, my posts are for Tikhon. I don't think I mentioned that. I hope you're happy, man. You got me to read your posts, and respond to them. On a blog. I have a family, but instead of sleeping so I can be a good father to them tomorrow, I'm doing this.

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  35. I have a lot of interest in the Church Fathers and the Eastern church.
    I have seen countless arguments on Catholicism vs Orthodox. And I can appreciate that Joe is trying to find some common ground while still trying to show what differentiates us.
    What we (Western) Catholics need to do is to understand our Eastern Catholic brothers and their traditions and the eastern theology before engaging with the Orthodox in discussions like these. One of the treasures of being Catholic is the beauty of the East and West theological traditions being present in our church, even within the Catechism itself.
    If we are to engage Protestants within the context of the Catholic vs Orthodox debate we must first recognize the anti-Catholic sentiment so prevalent in many Protestant traditions. Perhaps we should discuss the Fathers and their writings especially those in western lands and give the Protestants a sense of their western culture and traditions.
    One can find many Orthodox writings that want to show the great chasm between Catholic and Orthodox theology. Then again you have folks like +Kalistos Ware that have looked into some of the key differences between us and realize that we are saying the same thing just coming from a different view to get there.
    Protestants will not be drawn to us necessarily because we have a Pope. Rather they will be drawn by our love, our example in society, and that for many of them our Mass is similar to their Sunday Services. We need to continue to show the continuation of the same faith from the earliest church to the current day.
    Oh yeah, I almost forgot, we need to also be able to show that Marian doctrines are just as strong if not stronger in the East. I have even heard Fr. Thomas Loya discuss how they actually started in the east first.

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  36. Joe,

    I thought I'd weigh in as part of the intended audience for this post.

    From what I understand, you are underselling the role of the laity in Orthodox ecclesiology. The laity have a vital role in preserving and defending the truth, even against bishops if necessary. We've seen this with Arianism, iconoclasm, and the politically motivated unions in the face of the Turkish threat. It is true that the bishop of Rome was on the right side of the first two controversies, but his verdict was not decisive because he was the bishop of Rome, but because, after examination, it was found to be orthodox.

    On the issue of what the Orthodox will admit about the pope, for me, the fundamental issue is that for Roman Catholics, the bishop of Rome's episcopacy is different in kind than that of other bishops, while the Orthodox hold that there is only one episcopacy with no "bishop of bishops.". Thus, the pope's privileges are granted by the church for the sake of good order, and not inherent in the office as such. You have to deal with that disconnect before addressing what the Orthodox admit about the pope.

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  37. I'm no dimwit but most of this discussion is over my head I must confess.

    The fact that there has been such a strong and sophisticated orthodox participation in this thread has shown me how little I understand of the issues, and how incapable I am of making any decision on the matter for myself by rational means.

    I think Tikhon raises good points about the 'protestant' looking for a 'living organism' that 'gives birth to the melody within their very selves'. Protestantism these days is very thin soil indeed, and growing thinner by the day. My own spiritual director is a Roman Catholic Jesuit - we simply don't have comparable resources within Anglicanism. What I personally care about is not a single point of leadership (or not), but a living faith community that continues to be in communion with the early church and its Fathers, whose riches I have been delving into for the past year, and whose depth seems to stretch away far beyond my horizons. I think Tikhon is right if he is suggesting that my disillusionment with Anglicanism/Protestantism is not our lack of unity with Catholicism, but rather our lack of deep roots.

    Instead of a rich harmony we are left with an emaciated monotone, wavering unsteadily into confused silence. We grasp around for innovations to save us, but the foundation is rotted away.

    I reside in a small portion of Anglicanism that still has roots in the Fathers, but, like Tolkein's Rivendell, we can't hold forever in isolation.

    Even if the Catholics are right about the pre-eminence of the Pope, couldn't he humble himself for the sake of unity? What a joy that would be.

    with love.

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  38. "How to Resolve the Orthodox Question
    Both Catholics and Orthodox understand the laity as the sheep to be led by God's shepherds. The job of the laity isn't to settle all the world's theological disputes, but to have faith in what the Church teaches. But which shepherd do the sheep follow if they start going in different directions?"

    There is an element of Orthodox Ecclesiology which perplexes, it seems, those who embrace the Vatican's ecclesiology, leaving them stunned, for instance, at what a null the council of Florence stands among the Orthodox.

    Christ said:"He who enters by the doors is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear the voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers...I am the good shepherd; I know My Own sheep, and they know Me, just as My Father knows Me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to My voice, and there will be one flock with One Shepherd."...Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, "How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly?" Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I doin My Father's name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. (Jn 10)

    The Church came down One and Catholic on Pentecost upon the Apostles, and vested the Apostles (all 12) with the one priesthood of Christ. They in turn (and the bishops whom they had vested by the laying on of hands) confer on the Faithful their personal Pentecost, to "have the anointing from the Holy One, and know all things" (I Jn 2:20):chrismation (called by the Vatican "confirmation), as seen in Acts 8:14-7. In chrismation the ears of the newly illumined are anointed so that they can hear His voice calling him to the one flock, and so that they can go deaf to strangers' voices. This "Kingdom of Priests" of "the Royal Priesthood" do not have the job of "settl[ing] all the world's theological disputes," but they do not have the option of laying back as non-combatants. They have to answer the call "to have faith in what the Church teaches" as soldiers. It may be remembered that St. Maximos the Confessor confessed the Faith as a layman (the abbacy has no share in the episcopacy): when confronted by the host of bishops the Monothelete emperor appointed to his "church," and taunted that he was out of communion with the "church," St. Maximos replied "if the whole universe were to commune with you, I alone would not commune with you."
    cont....

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  39. cont...
    "How to Resolve the Orthodox Question"
    St. Maximos replied "if the whole universe were to commune with you, I alone would not commune with you."

    Any Orthodox Christian can, and should be ready, to take such a stand. That doesn't state theory, but reality-as many Orthodox Christians who lived under the communist yoke can testify. Many who were in ROCOR, for instance, would not commune with Patriarch Pimen (the patriarch during the final decades of communism), and chided me for doing so. My position was although I had critisms of the Patriarch's charge, as a lay man free (at least when I wasn't in Egypt) of a constant threat of blood martyrdom, I did not carry the weight of 100 million souls and lives, and as such I owed the Patriarch considerable benefit of the doubt. Conversely, in the recent battle of the redefinition of bishop in the Patriarchate of Antioch, I voiced my readiness to break with the Metropolitan (and the Patriarch and Holy Synod if they backed him up) on the issue, as the metropolitan was speaking, as I heard it, with a "stranger's voice" and not the voice of Christ. I held a holding pattern, however, of deference to the local bishop, and followed his lead as what to do. I am only responsible for myself (and my sons at present), but that responsibility entails the duty to defend the Truth as I hear that familliar voice whenever and however called on. To hold otherwise would mandate me to vote with some else's conscience.

    It is not like this is unheard of in the Vatican-its Supreme Pontiff in its manifesto "Pastor Aeternus" cites as authority the letter of a layman, Bernard of Clairveaux, to his supreme pontiff telling him what he should do. In does seem, however, that its new development of doctrine, the creation of the "Magisterium," has overlooked such instances. As a consequence, it continues to pursue Florence, blind to the depth of how much that is a non-starter for the Orthodox.

    Lord willing, I will get to your options 1-3, but will illustrate them with actual events (we do not have to theorize on a schism between Australia and New Zealand; we have one between Constantinople and Moscow and Constantinople and Athens, Kiev (or rather a deposed Kiev) and the rest of the Orthodox that we can discuss). I thought, however, that I should first point out that we seem to differ on the nature of sheep:for us, they do not follow anyone's voice, not even that of the purported landlord of their pasture. When it comes to heresy, the good sheep squeals like a pig.

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  40. This just caught my eye:
    "You do say that the Orthodox Church has a lot of great stuff, but as Joe points out, so do other Churches. When it comes to avoiding schism, I don’t see what you have at all."
    LOL. History.
    Whether you go back to 1454, 1054, 1017, 879 or about 33, the Orthodox Church has continued with "what we have" as one Church. From what you write, it would seem that we would have fallen apart like Protestantism long ago. No patriarchate other than the Patriarchate of the West has experienced in its history such an utter collapse in schism and heresy, as the parallelism of the OO and EO (the closest thing we have to the present state of the Patriarchate of the West) in comparison readily demonstrates.

    Speaking of history, I was going to bring this up in discussing the OP's three options, but maybe I should bring it up here:as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words-
    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_tkkjn54Lcxw/TNSvpiaOA1I/AAAAAAAAAH8/6ctCEoKK2oU/s1600/KISH219.jpg
    with three supreme pontiffs, three Roman curias, three college of cardinals, three sets of Latin titular patriarchs for the Eastern patriarchates, etc. for a lifetime. Not the first, nor the last time, and with doctrinal consequences (e.g. the application of Florence to lay the foundation of Brest, Haec Sancta Synodus and Concilliarism, etc.). As J. F. Broderick (1987"The Sacred College of Cardinals: Size and Geographical Composition (1099–1986)." Archivum historiae Pontificiae, 25: p. 14) sums it up nicely about "what you have":

    "Doubt still shrouds the validity of the three rival lines of pontiffs during the four decades subsequent to the still disputed papal election of 1378. This makes suspect the credentials of the cardinals created by the Roman, Avignon, and Pisan claimants to the Apostolic See. Unity was finally restored without a definitive solution to the question; for the Council of Constance succeeded in terminating the Western Schism, not by declaring which of the three claimants was the rightful one, but by eliminating all of them by forcing their abdication or deposition, and then setting up a novel arrangement for choosing a new pope acceptable to all sides. To this day the Church has never made any official, authoritative pronouncement about the papal lines of succession for this confusing period; nor has Martin V or any of his successors. Modern scholars are not agreed in their solutions; although they tend to favor the Roman line."

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  41. LOL? Dude, you laugh too easy.
    The Western Schism didn't really function as a schism at all. It was a management dispute, which is why it took care of itself in a very short time and didn't have hardly any practical repurcussions.
    What makes real schisms so bad, like when you guys and the protestants left the Church, is that they're based on DOCTRINAL matters, and that by leaving you destroy the only clear standard that could settle doctrinal disagreements. Which is why those schisms last so darn long, and affect so many Christians still today
    Not a good example to prove your case, man.

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  42. If it is not obvious from the posts, the respondent John-Mark and I are actually good friends in real life.

    John-Mark: you dissuade me from posting further and then pull me back in? But I sympathize with your desire to defend your ecclesiastical family. This will be my last post, hopefully, since we seem to have exhausted the topic.

    My point has been that the papacy, in theory, might appear an attractive solution, but that in reality it is shown not to be a part of Christ's institution. So my emphasis might be historical, but only in the way that one points to Communism as a flawed system by pointing to the reality of communism in contradistinction to the abstract philosophy which might appear enticing.

    This does not mean that I ignore the ecclesiological principles. I have tried to show that Joe uses assumptions to prove his point which are not universally conceded, thus making the papacy appear more plausible and practical than it is.

    As to what the Orthodox Church has to offer in concrete terms to the problem of schism, it is, as I already noted, a synodal structure that adjudicates disputes according to canonical procedure, but primarily it is a divine power which produces and teaches, preserves, and reinforces right faith through every detail of its life by necessity, without chance of corruption. Your only argument against this is that sometimes it gets messy, and sometimes it's not immediately clear.

    Protestants can judge for themselves which Church truly has produced, practically speaking, the greatest unanimity and cohesion among its members. I have a feeling they understand that St. Paul is not describing unity as monolithic official positions that 90% of the faithful don't agree with or follow.

    Dear Protestants, and Catholics, the Orthodox Church not only has the apostolic/episcopal college to which God has given the grace to preserve, for all ages, the true faith, it has a unity which is more than skin-deep. In times of trouble this manifests itself in synodal actions of local churches, with the implicit or explicit acceptance by the rest of the body. At other times it took a worldwide synod of bishops to defend the true faith. But the body is not without order, even if this order does not function in the way some would like it to function. It is not always as neat and clean as one might expect. It has all the attributes of a divine-human institution, where sin can rear its head, but never prevail. The artificial conundrum presented in this blog is a red herring. People sometimes do not know the truth, and pastors sometimes fail to teach it, and they even distort it. But this does not change the fact that the Church, by her very definition, never ceases to preach it, and it is always accessible to the faithful. The key element, and the key difference between the Church and the papacy, is that this truth is not only available by external criteria, but that it is offered to each and every soul, through the deep spiritual life of the Church which has the power to unite all believers and create true oneness in right-belief and right-worship.

    I thank my gracious and patient host, and I ask forgiveness for any times pride and not love was the force behind my words. I will try to be refrain from continuing the back-and-forth, as I feel we have come to the end of the initial topic. Thanks again for your hospitality. God save us.

    Yours in Christ,
    Tikhon

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  43. (revised from above)

    Dear Protestants and Orthodox,

    The Catholic Church not only has the apostolic/episcopal college to which God has given the grace to preserve, for all ages, the true faith, it has a unity which is more than skin-deep grounded in the principle (gift) of unity given to us by our Lord or that which the Fathers called the "Chair of St. Peter", the very office of which our Lord especially handed the keys of the kingdom to his humble servant. In times of trouble this manifests itself in diocesan actions, whereby bishops and the faithful meet local pastoral demands. At other times it takes a worldwide council of bishops in union with what St. Cyprian, St. Augustine and St. Optatus call the "one Cathedra" to defend the true faith. The body is not without order, even if this order does not function in the way some would like it to function (egalitarian, democratic, et al.). It is not always as neat and clean as one might expect. It has all the attributes of a divine-human institution, where sin can rear its head, but never prevail. The artificial conundrum presented against the Papacy and the unity of the Catholic Church, as if the Pope were not the servant of servants and the people of the Church actively required to live the faith--the greatest of whom are Her Saints, is a red herring. People sometimes do not know the truth, and pastors sometimes fail to teach it, and they even distort it. But this does not change the fact that the Church, by her very definition, never ceases to preach it, and it is always accessible to the faithful. And while the faithful can know the truth through God's ordained shepherds (external criteria), it is also offered to each and every soul, through the deep spiritual life of the Church which has the power to unite all believers and create true oneness in right-belief and right-worship until this time. She is a hospital, and full of sinners who sometimes send a wrong message about what is orthodoxy. Nonetheless, because She was founded by Christ, even those who are in dissent from her teachings can know what those teachings are and be free if they so desire a humble spirit--of which our Lord cannot refuse.

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  44. Isa (November 11, 2011 9:59 PM)

    (1) What are some patristic and/or qutoes from Councils that state St Andrew founded Constantinople? All I've ever seen is a single brief quip from a Father saying St Andrew visited the general area, nothing about him establishing a See or a Patriarchate or anything of the sort. Indeed, if such were true, Canon 6 of Nicaea would have mentioned it.

    You said:
    "Not that that means much, as each bishop consecrated into Apostolic succession receives the episcopacy in its entirety for the whole, and transmits it likewise, regardless of which see over which he presides. The Orthodox diptychs of the Catholic Church contains 15 primates, the EP just appears first."

    This, to me, is a central pillar of EO revisionist history that began to emerge as Constantinople continued to drive a wedge between itself an Rome. The idea that all bishops are equal while the EP simply has the honor of being listed first on the list is simply not historical and even reduces 'truth' to a given majority of bishops.

    (2) Your comments here essentially concede the claims I'm making against Constantinople's authority. It was a political invention, and this became a problem when its political clout was used to usurp the Church's traditional structures of authority. It literally was a 'new kid in town' that sought to be the most popular, and in the course of doing that did whatever it took, no matter how unlawful. And once its mission was accomplished to it's satisfaction, it entered the EO textbooks as something that had always been, rather than a 4th century fabrication.

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  45. Nick-
    "(1) What are some patristic and/or qutoes from Councils that state St Andrew founded Constantinople? All I've ever seen is a single brief quip from a Father saying St Andrew visited the general area, nothing about him establishing a See or a Patriarchate or anything of the sort. Indeed, if such were true, Canon 6 of Nicaea would have mentioned it."
    I am at present pressed for time (Vespers), so I can off the top of my head mention the Acts of Andrew, which mention him going through Byzantium, dating from the 2nd-3rd century.

    More to the point, however, your reference to Nicea canon 6 discloses a deeper problem with your line of questioning. Canon 6 does not deal with Corinth, Ephesus or even Malta, all of which are-by the witness of Scripture itself-Apostolic sees in the sense of being founded by an Apostle. In fact, canon 6 makes no reference to the Apostles, or any founders for that matter, at all. Your expectation that it should have mentioned Byzantium-Constantinople did not yet exist (something that someone should have tipped your Supreme Pontiff Leo IX off on, before he issued his decree to EP Michael Celarius demanding submission on the basis of the Donation of Constantine, which refers to Constantinople before it existed)-there is no there there. Literally.

    Granted, the EP has been trying of late to make canon 28 of Chalcedon into an Orthodox Pastor Aeternus, but such atttempts are barely a century old, an no Orthodox Church has bought it in the previous century. If that is the source of your confusion, rest assured, there is no "Andrean office" nor an "Andrean primacy" in the Orthodox Church.

    "This, to me, is a central pillar of EO revisionist history that began to emerge as Constantinople continued to drive a wedge between itself an Rome"
    That the episcopate is one, each bishop holding it in its entirety as he received it for the whole, and which entirety for the whole he transmitted it down to our days, is just history: it is the ecclesiology expoused by Pat. St. Ignatius, who repeatedly speaks of the local bishop and his Church having the fullness of the Catholic Faith. Not a single mention that that bishop has to be appointed or approved by Rome, his letter to that see not even mentioning the episcopate (btw, "the Church which presides in love in the lands of the Romans). So it was. So it has remained in the Church.

    " The idea that all bishops are equal while the EP simply has the honor of being listed first on the list is simply not historical and even reduces 'truth' to a given majority of bishops."

    It is not only historical, it is history. As for "a given majority of bishops," well at Nicea I it was 318 to 3, which is a majority, and you can hardly argue against it, as Pastor Aeternus was also passed by a majority, though as Doellinger pointed out about Abp. Hefele, the supreme pontiff had to use his administrative powers to strong arm universal compliance.

    If you have found an Orthodox source which says truth is up for a vote, and dogma wins by a majority, let me know. As an Egyptian, I am quite proud that Pope St. Athanasius the Great set the Orthodox template "Athanasius contra mundi/against the world."

    "(2) Your comments here essentially concede the claims I'm making against Constantinople's authority. It was a political invention."
    So was Rome's. The first to try to exercise it, Pope (or rather Bishop) St. Victor, had the ear of the Emperor Commodus, through the latter's Christian concubine. It was "rebuked by the entire Church" for overstepping his authority.

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  46. Nick-
    "this became a problem when its political clout was used to usurp the Church's traditional structures of authority."
    What problem? That is a serious question.

    "it entered the EO textbooks as something that had always been, rather than a 4th century fabrication."
    Don't know what textbooks you are reading, but as being the most popular, it did not have to extend anything for that. It had the wealth and power of the empire at its disposal, means to further the ends of the Church. Hence why all the Ecumenical Councils were sponsored and held in its vicinity and patronage. As for "always been," "New Rome" and "Constantinople" would undermine such claims, if any were made.

    Btw, on the question of quotes from Councils, IIRC at Chalcedon there was a bishop Peter of some see who made a point, to which the assembly said "Peter has spoken through Peter." It seems Pope St. Leo was not the only one. Compare my quote from Shenouti above.

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  47. Sorry to jump in so late here, but I find a couple of these comments troubling.

    Tikhon wrote, "We do not interpret the ut unum sint in light of modern ecumenism, as you do. The Church is one at all times. Christ prays for the unity of believers in Himself, so that he is all in all. The "they" is not all "Christians" according to your definition, but the actual members of the Church."

    This is depressing. Are there other scriptural passages that the Orthodox believe compel them to seek full visible unity with all Christians, even if they don't like the Catholics' use of John 17 in ecumenical work? I certainly hope so. It seems like the fervent prayers of the East and West will be needed before a future reunification, and it seems like a firm belief that Christian unity is essential to the success of the evangelistic/apostolic mission of the Church is a very good impetus to this sort of prayer.

    Secondly, Tess wrote, "Even if the Catholics are right about the pre-eminence of the Pope, couldn't he humble himself for the sake of unity? What a joy that would be."

    Pardon me if I'm wrong, but this sounds like either you don't care what's true, or you're somehow certain that determining the truth of this matter is impossible.

    Aren't you interested in whether or not Pope Benedict is truly your spiritual authority? I don't mean this rudely, because I once had similar thoughts about the Church's Marian dogmas. I wished that they would just forget about making a big deal about them so that we could all be a big happy "Mere Christian" family. Eventually I realized that these Marian dogmas weren't ornamental, that they all derive from the incarnation and the fact that Our Lady is the mother of God. So I'm asking you sincerely, do you care what's true? Does it ultimately matter to you whether or not the successor of St. Peter is the universal Shepherd of the Church founded by Christ?

    The model of ecumenism that seems to flow from your comment is that unity will only work when the Church drops a claim to the truth that conflicts with the sincere beliefs of other Christians. This model of ecumenism has been a complete failure, and seems to be the model of unity that the Anglican Communion depends on. Yet, the Anglican Communion is tearing apart at the seems because seeking unity at the expense of the truth is not unity at all.

    The opposite of this is the ecumenical model of many independent fundamentalist Protestants, whose personal conception of the "truth" and demand for theological purity according to whatever they happen to judge the essentials of the faith to be makes any long-lasting unity with other communities of Christians impossible because there is no universal standard to which they can appeal apart from their personal interpretation of sacred scripture.

    And finally, Isa, what is your source for "Peter has spoken through Peter"?

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  48. "And finally, Isa, what is your source for "Peter has spoken through Peter"?

    The Acts of Chalcedon. A bishop Peter (the see I forget, but it definitely was neither Rome or Antioch (which is identified as St. Peter's see, btw)) makes a comment and the assembly makes some such comment.

    "Are there other scriptural passages that the Orthodox believe compel them to seek full visible unity with all Christians."
    What do you mean by compel us to seek full visible unity with all Christians? The unity of the Orthodox episcopate is not diminished by the departure of heretical and schismatic bishops, but it would always welcome their return.

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  49. @Kevin,

    "Does it ultimately matter to you whether or not the successor of St. Peter is the universal Shepherd of the Church founded by Christ?"

    Yes it does matter very much. But again, how am I to judge? As I said to Joe, if I accept the primacy of Rome through my own judgement then I am no better than a protestant who judges one denomination elect and another damned according to what he himself believes.

    But from what I've seen in this thread, Orthodoxy seems similarly to place a high dependence on one's own judgement (be it by faith or reason) as to whether a particular bishop or Patriarch is still Orthodox. Their defence of this seems to be 'it's worked so far' (which it clearly hasn't for protestantism).

    So yes I suspect the issue is irresolvable without an Anglican-style fudge, and I expect it wouldn't be the first such fudge in the history of any of our churches. I'd prefer unity in loving truth, but I'll take unity in loving fudge as a second-best. When truth tries to wrestle Love to the ground, I go with Love every time. They should help each other, but alas so rarely seem to manage it.

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  50. @Kevin again,

    The main worry I would have with the 'truth is what counts' argument is that we have an apparently similar situation in Scripture to consider: Mark 9:33-35 and similar in Luke. The arguing between our churches over who should be the greatest is entirely unedifying. Does the importance of having the truth justify it?

    Hence my sense that if one side or the other or both would make themselves 'last and servant of all' in humility, then they might end up being first.

    (Moreover, the appeal to the need for truth is what I've had to put up with from squabbling protestants for the past few years. The truth is that they detest each other but call it 'speaking the truth in love'. I do sincerely hope the same intellectual warrior ideal is not so prevalent in your two great Churches. Truth is vitally important, but one must recognise an impasse. (As the Catholics did when their three popes became one).

    with love.

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  51. Isa, is this what you're thinking of?

    "288. The most devout Oriental bishops and those with them exclaimed:
    ‘Peter thinks like Peter. Orthodox one, you are welcome.’"

    I can't find anything else that sounds like what you suggested. I've heard Protestants say that the Council said the same thing about Cyril as they did about Leo, but this is plainly untrue (though the praise Cyril for having the faith of Peter and Leo).

    I don't know why Catholics should be surprised that the council emphasizes the Petrine origin of Antioch. This emphasis came from Leo and Rome to begin with because they wanted to uphold the dignity of the sees with the historic Petrine connection over the innovative claims of Constantinople.

    In terms of ecumenism, my question was whether the Orthodox feel any burden to seek the unity of all Christians? I appreciate that you would welcome other "Christians" who decide to become Orthodox, but do the Orthodox believe that they have any specific responsibility to seek unity with, say, Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, etc.?

    Tess,

    Thanks for your response. The bishop of Rome is considered to be "the servant of servants." His authority does not come from being the "greatest" but from Christ. But your general suggestion may in fact be in appropriate way forward that would involve mutual submission, at least in some non-doctrinal matters.

    I don't think that the Catholic who determines the bishop of Rome has authority is in the same place as the Protestant who seeks the religious community that comes closest to his personal interpretation of scripture. Sure, at the beginning of this process, they must both rely on their reason, on their reading of scripture and church history, etc. But in the end they discover something totally different: The Catholic discovers a real magisterial authority to which he must choose either to submit or reject, not simply a community that comes closest to sharing his own beliefs. His beliefs must at a certain point conform to the authority, and not vice-versa.

    I'd suggest that the connection of truth to Christian unity is not incidental but inherent. And I believe that God wants us to have both and would have wanted us to have both when He established His Church. It seems to me that Catholic Christianity provides the only viable road map forward to have both the fullness of faith in truth and Christian unity.

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  52. "II. How to Resolve the Orthodox Question
    (1) Follow your local bishop
    With Option 1, if the Orthodox bishops of Australia and New Zealand broke off communion, accusing each other of schism or heresy, the Orthodox believers of those countries would divide along nationalist lines.

    This is problematic for two reasons. First, regardless of which side was right, this approach would require laity on one of the two sides to embrace schism or heresy. Second, Pope Benedict is Patriarch of the West. So if you want to follow Option A, and you live in the West, go with the pope."

    The assumes the Faithful are not sheep, but serfs, and must go along with the owner of the pasture. Such is not the case.

    We do not have to theorize about "if the Orthodox bishops of Australia and New Zealand broke off communion, accusing each other of schism or heresy": in the 1990s the EP, in part based on is attempt to turn canon 28 into the Orthodox Pastor Aeternus (i.e. heresy), formed the Estonian Orthodox Church. Estonia, however, belongs to the jurisdiction of Moscow, whose Patriarch at the time, Alexis II of blessed memory, happended to be Estonian bred, born, baptized, ordained, consecrated and speaking. When Pat. Alexis II told the EP to cease and disist, and Constantinople did not, Moscow responded by stricking the EP from the diptychs, i.e. broke off communion. Constantinople did not reciprocate. It Estonia some sided with Constantinople, others with Moscow. In Ukraine (also in the Patriarchate of Moscow) some sided with Constantinople, but Constantinople did not enter into communion with them. In Western Europe, some sided with Constantinople, some with Moscow, and some refused to take sides, which was the majority position in the Americas. The other 13 autocephalous Churches served notice that they were striking neither Constantinople nor Moscow from their diptychs, so they would be remaining in communin, so they had better resolve the matter between them, which was done in a month or so, and Moscow put Constantinople back in its diptychs and resumed communion.

    In 2004, a similar situatin erupted when the EP struck the Archbishop of Athens from the diptychs, supported by the Pope of Alexandria and the Patriarch of Jerusalem (both from the EP's jursidcition in Greece), threatening to revoke the Tomos that regulates the jurisdiction between the autocephalous Church of Greece and the EP over Greece (another myth-Orthodox Church boudaries, following Caesaropapism, goes along political boundaries. Not necessarily so), and break communion with any bishop that sided with Athens. The other 11 Churches did not take sides, and like the Moscow-Constantinople split, it was resolved in a matter of months.

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  53. Tess,

    The difference between identifying a person and a belief is at the core of the distinction between the Protestant and Catholic "problem".

    How do you know your mother?

    How do you know an article of faith?

    With some nuance, the difference of the two questions will lead you down a profitable path. The first question implies belief(s), as does the second. The epistemic tools needed are different.

    Think about it one other way:

    How do you know Jesus is God?

    How do you know baptism is regenerative?

    Why do you reject Buddhism?

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  54. Isa,

    I'm pleased to have real life examples to work with here. Can you use the examples that you raised and answer some of the questions I raised earlier about Orthodox eclessiology?

    Specifically, in the case of these various intra-Orthodox schisms, was one side not part of the true Church? Was salvation at risk in any way? Do these impact the Oneness of the Church?

    Thanks, and God bless,

    Joe

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  55. Thank you so much Joe and Tikhon!

    Tikhon, do you view the modern Western canonized saints as illegitimate? And what if anything of the miracles whereby their intercession is the alleged conduit of God's grace?

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  56. Hi Joe!

    Last night I had a rather lenghty discussion with a Protestant friend (very low-church Anglican) on Apostolic Succession. One of his arguments against this was that even if the Apostles had some special kind of authority (something which he repeatedly denies, despite all the verses which point to it. He interprets the verses of the "binding and loosing", "forgiving and retaining", "keys" etc. as applicable to every believer, not just the Apostles) this would have immediately become moot at the death of the last Apostle.

    He refers to the casting of lots as a Divine selection of Matthias, not a human one (obviously it's divine, but he wants to remove any human element) and says that, ever since, bishops were chosen by human beings and not by God.

    He also argues that Peter was chosen personally by Christ, not democratically elected in a conclave like most popes, and therefore the authority that was given to Peter was only given to him and not to successors since they were not personally elected by Christ Himself.

    He then pointed to all the leaders of the Old Testament being directly appointed by God, and makes the claim that it shouldn't be any different in the New Testament. Therefore the democratic election of the pope disproves the papacy and the human appointment of bishops disprove apostolic succession.

    Any thoughts?

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  57. Georg,

    There are at least two other modes of selection for ordination that I know of, described in the New Testament:

    (1) Acts 6:1-6 describes the selection of the first deacons. The Apostles permit them to be democratically chosen (v. 3), before they are ordained by the Apostles themselves (v. 6).

    (2) St. Paul mentions in Titus 1:5 that Titus was tasked with selecting and ordaining presbyters. Paul and Barnabas do the same in Acts 14:23.

    And of course, even in the case of the replacement of Matthias, while the final decision is done through casting lots, the group of believers chose the two candidates (Acts 1:23).

    So your friend's argument would argue against the New Testament Church.

    God bless,

    Joe

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  58. Thanks man, appreciate it!

    I mentioned some of the above, but I was just flabergasted to hear that he actually thinks those passages I alluded to are applicable to EVERY believer. That means that we (the laity) have the authority to not only forgive anyone's sins, but also to retain anyone's sins. At least, this is the only logical conclusioon to such reasoning.

    And in what manner could any believer possibly bind and loose things on earth to bind and loose things in heaven? Imagine all the competing binding and loosing - all 30,000+ of them!

    Anyway, thanks again!

    God bless!

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  59. Hi Joe,

    I was just browsing through your blog and found this post! It's a good post, but having had a bit of interaction with Orthodox, I feel that the focus is mostly Catholic thinking and doesn't address the real issues Orthodox have from their perspective. I know the post is for people trying to decide between the two, but if such a person were to take these arguments to an Orthodox, I feel like the Orthodox would say, "Yes, you're right; the primacy among the bishops is definitely with Rome. But ..."

    An Orthodox friend of mine once told me that most Orthodox would probably feel the biggest difference between the two is Scholasticism, which most Orthodox are not too fond of. In other places I've read that Rome's apostolic succession and primacy within the Church is unquestionable. But all of that takes second place since the Roman Church (in their view) fell to heresy (i.e. mostly in the doctrines of Scholasticism and papal dogmas.) As you pointed out, we affirm everything they do, but "We just affirm more, and often in different language." But from my (limited) experience with the Orthodox Church, I feel this is the crux of the issue - we affirm more - and that "more" for them includes heresies. I don't feel you really address that issue.

    Some of our "extras" to them are completely unacceptable, such as Papal supremacy and infallibility. (Notice that this, for them, is distinct from "primacy.") Also, the filioque I think would come here.

    Other extras are often seen as possible, but "beyond what God had revealed to the Church." I think Purgatory is often seen in this light. Some Orthodox reject them as entirely wrong, but others simply say it's just either beyond our knowledge.

    I believe that other "extras" are seen as too much explanation; they prefer to leave things as "mysteries." I think the Immaculate Conception and the details of "transubstantiation" (i.e. scholastic explanation of how the change takes place) would fall into this category.

    I've found only a few articles/blog posts that address these issues from a patristic/first millennium point of view. Some that I have found justify a concept that Orthodox already accept, but fail to address the "extra" that they think we've added. For example, I once saw a blog that argued in favour of the Immaculate Conception. The writer showed wonderfully how Orthodox believe in the "Immaculate Virgin Mary" but then left it that, thinking the issue was solved, forgetting to address the "conception" part, which Orthodox don't accept.

    I would love to see a post that addresses these issues and really gets into the details of the real Orthodox objections to them.

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  60. Jacob,

    You've got to be careful when you hear modern Eastern Orthodox folks making such comments. After Constantinople fell to the Muslims in 1454, the Sultan appointed ALL Patriarchs from then on, and made them pledge oaths to the Turkish state, including the duty to be rabidly anti-Catholic. As a result, open and honest communications has been shut off from the Eastern Orthodox until about 50 years ago. So for 500 years they've been fed a steady dose of anti-Catholicism, attacking anything that looks 'strange' to them, and this bias has become so ingrained that the average person will look with utter disdain upon Catholicism.

    If you look at actual substance of subjects discussed you will not see much of any consequence with the way Scholasticism frames the issues. It was during Scholasticism that the two Ecumenical Councils that temporarily united East and West were held (Lyons and Florence. If the issue is 'going into too much detail', that's a myth, because EO fathers have done the same, particularly in Christological subjects.

    I've noticed the EO have a tendency to paint their side as Roses while painting Catholicism as a thoroughly corrupted manure pile. Be on guard for such exaggerations.

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    1. Give some references for what you say? whatever history are you reading that says the Orthodox patriarchs had a duty to be anti-Catholic??? They were "fed" anti-catholicism?? It is a fact that the schism happened because the pope back then changed the Creed to include the Filioque WITHOUT the consent of the Eucumenical Synode. The pope has primacy, not supremacy, which means that he can change something only when the synode is in agreement, not impose his will on the other christian leaders. Read some history to see why Catholics are not popular. One historical fact is the siege of Kontantinople by crusaders, which the pope blessed, and the killing and atrocieties on the Orthodox population. Another historical fact is that the pope was systematically trying to introduce religious customs which were not acceptable to the Orthodox, he was trying to latinize them. How about the continuous attacks on Greek soil for example by the Venetians etc etc Read some history of Patras, Crete, both in Greece, I come from there and know my country's history. It is a fact that the pope always sought secular power, all of them except for one, go and search to see who that was. There are ACTIONS that the POPE has done which give catholics a bad name, it has to do with HISTORICAL FACTS, not with vaguely being "fed doses of anti-Catholicism". Catholics have slaughtered Orthodox, e.g. in Poland, under the "blessings" of the pope, has nothing to do with imagination.......

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    2. Give some references for what you say? whatever history are you reading that says the Orthodox patriarchs had a duty to be anti-Catholic??? They were "fed" anti-catholicism?? It is a fact that the schism happened because the pope back then changed the Creed to include the Filioque WITHOUT the consent of the Eucumenical Synode. The pope has primacy, not supremacy, which means that he can change something only when the synode is in agreement, not impose his will on the other christian leaders. Read some history to see why Catholics are not popular. One historical fact is the siege of Kontantinople by crusaders, which the pope blessed, and the killing and atrocieties on the Orthodox population. Another historical fact is that the pope was systematically trying to introduce religious customs which were not acceptable to the Orthodox, he was trying to latinize them. How about the continuous attacks on Greek soil for example by the Venetians etc etc Read some history of Patras, Crete, both in Greece, I come from there and know my country's history. It is a fact that the pope always sought secular power, all of them except for one, go and search to see who that was. There are ACTIONS that the POPE has done which give catholics a bad name, it has to do with HISTORICAL FACTS, not with vaguely being "fed doses of anti-Catholicism". Catholics have slaughtered Orthodox, e.g. in Poland, under the "blessings" of the pope, has nothing to do with imagination.......

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  61. Hey Joe, Dan W here. I'm doing a report on Eastern Orthodox, so like most other seminarians, I'm starting with your posts. One thing I noticed that you stated in this isn't true, at least as of 2006. In II. part 1), you say " Pope Benedict is the Patriarch of the West." Benny 16 renounced that title in 2006, in order to help ease the reunification of the two Churches. By preferring and emphasizing his title as Bishop of Rome, the pope can be more easily assimilated as the "first among equals." Not that the pope is no longer leader of the western Catholicism, he just doesn't wish to be called the Patriarch of the West. Papa Franky is following suit and really pushing the idea of himself as Bishop of Rome first.

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    1. Dan,

      Thanks! I mostly agree with your comment, particularly the end. The pope remains the Patriarch of the West, and leader of western Catholicism: he just doesn't use that title formally (I wouldn't go so far as to say that he's "renounced" it - it was dropped as one of the official title without comment).

      As you suggest at the end, it's a matter of emphasis: the pope is Patriarch of the West, but that's not the primary lens through which we view him.

      I.X.,

      Joe

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