September 3, 2014

Archons: Concerning the Ranks of Churches

Who’s on first? The Order of St. Andrew the Apostle has posted an article harshly critical of what it describes as the Moscow Patriarchate’s uncanonical move to assert its status as one of “the five most significant Churches” or the Pentarchy of the ancient patriarchates. The writer of the article, Fr. Makarios Griniezakis, a professor of theology and ethics at the Theological Academy of Heraklion in Crete, maintains that the “28th Canon of the Fourth Ecumenical Council grants only to the Church of Constantinople the jurisdictional oversight of the ‘barbaric lands.’” This position, he said, is also supported by Church history.

The extension of the Patriarch of Russia’s jurisdiction across lands outside its ecclesiastical borders is uncanonical and a violation of Church order. This is the case when other Primates act similarly. Local Churches would have been able to extend into lands beyond their established ecclesiastical border if the canon referred to ethnicities (“barbarians”) instead of geographical regions (“barbaric lands”). If this were the case we would have been able to say, for example, that the Romanian Patriarch is the spiritual leader of the Romanian people across the world, or that the Russian Patriarch is the leader of every Russian. However, the 28th Canon is unambiguous and mentions geographical jurisdictions and not ethnicities. Every Orthodox Church has a specific geographical border. Constantinople, however, maintains the license to extend throughout the Ecoumene, except, of course, into those areas under the canonical jurisdiction of other autocephalous or synodal Orthodox Churches.

Fr. Griniezakis said he was responding to an article published on the Web by the Moscow Patriarchate’s Archpriest Maxim Kozlov, but no link was provided. Still, Fr. Griniezakis reminded the Russians that “those who participate in the administration of the Church must consider that their role is not to compete on stage with Stalin and Hitler.” He also reminded the Russians that “Arius, Dioscorus, Nestorius, Apollinarius, and Marcion, were pious and religious; however, they also were men who had tremendous egos and lacked ecclesiastical ethos.”

This is sure to liven things at the next all-Orthodox pre-conciliar consultation. But how long will this new turf war go on before these clerics get back to solving the Diaspora problem for the barbarians in the United States and elsewhere?

Full text follows:

archon

Concerning the Ranks of Churches
New York; 9/22/2009

Editor’s Note:

On August 4, 2009, a website posted an article presenting some of the recent developments taking place at the Moscow Patriarchate. Specifically, the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow had begun reevaluating the ecclesiastical rank of the Orthodox Churches. According to Archpriest Maxim Kozlof, a member of the committee entrusted with this task, the Patriarchate of Moscow is considered a Church of the pentarchy, that is, of the five Churches of ancient Christendom. He also claims that by virtue of its magnitude, the Patriarchate of Moscow maintains such a status. He also declares that the Patriarchate of Moscow has extended its jurisdiction across numerous countries. After reading these comments, Fr. Makarios Griniezakis, a professor of theology and ethics at the Theological Academy of Heraklion in Crete, responded with a different perspective. In what follows, Fr. Makarios frames the claims made by Fr. Maxim in their proper historical, canonical, and ecclesiological setting.

Fr. Makarios Griniezakis is an Archimandrite of the Ecumenical Throne; he is also the official preacher of the Archdiocese of Crete, and the director of the Archdiocese’s radio station.

Concerning the Ranks of Churches

A few days ago your reputable website posted an article that discussed a series of efforts by the Holy Synod of the Church of Russia to formulate the Patriarchate of Moscow’s position relative to the ranks of the Orthodox Churches. In a recent interview, the Archpriest Maxim Kozlof, a member of this newly formed committee, provided the details of the committee’s work. With regard to these comments, but also in response to various ecclesiological and theological uncertainties often put forth by Russian clergymen and theologians, permit me the following thoughts:

1. The fact that an Orthodox Patriarchate has yet to clarify in its conscience who is the First of Orthodoxy incites sadness. During their Synaxis this past October, the Primates of the Orthodox Church signed an official declaration that reemphasized who has the first place in Orthodoxy. We are troubled, however, that only a few months after this historic moment a committee is formed to reevaluate the ranking amongst Orthodox Churches. We remind the reader that the Primates, including the Patriarch of Russia, stated that they gathered “at the invitation and under the presidency of the First among us, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.” If this statement is not sufficient, then our faithful brothers in Russia should refer to the Patriarchal Tome of 1589, which granted to them the Patriarchal Status. In the pages of this document they will discover exactly who signed the Tome, and thus realize who holds the eminent position in Orthodoxy.

2. To question issues that have been settled by Ecumenical Councils and established for centuries is quite dangerous. We speak in terms of “danger” because even a cursory study of history shows us that every heresy, schism and ecclesiastical division stemmed from personal ambition and egotism, only later to be robed in the mantle of dogmatic diversity. Arius, Dioscorus, Nestorius, Apollinarius, and Marcion, were pious and religious; however, they also were men who had tremendous egos and lacked ecclesiastical ethos. If they truly believed in God, if they were obedient to their bishops, if they respected the canons of the Church, and if they recognized the authenticity of the Holy Synods, then they would not have reached the point where they created division in the unified Body of Christ. Consequently, it is not enough for us to uphold the dogma of the Fathers in isolation–even the “old-calendarists” do this. We must also maintain the ethos of the Fathers, which helps to secure the unity of the Church.

3. When we speak about ecclesiastical ethos, we certainly do not identify with the logic based on size and figures. If we did, we would give the impression that we were economists, sociologists, and politicians. In the life of the Church, and especially in our spiritual lives–which the Church of Russia has much fruit to offer–two plus two does not always equal four. When we emphasize our vastness and point to statistical demonstrations, it means that we are not shepherds, but rather operatives of power, exploiting the administrative and spiritual authority that springs forth from our position. Â This is even more so the case when we put forth such efforts to earn the praise of the world and acquire the primary position in Orthodoxy. Given our current condition, those who participate in the administration of the Church must consider that their role is not to compete on stage with Stalin and Hitler. They are called to enter that sacred space where Church Fathers such as Basil the Great, Saint Gregory of Nyssa, Saint Gregory the Theologian, and Saint John Chrysostom live, and to be inspired by them. This is what we mean when we pronounce, “we who follow the fathers,” especially since the patristic era has not ended. Every moment in time has the potential of becoming patristic if it secures and protects the Orthodox ecclesiological criteria for responding to prevalent problems and concerns. This is lost when we follow the philosophy and logic of the world, of arithmetic, of expediency, and of statistics and consequences.

4. It has been noted that, “the place of the Patriarchate of Moscow in the pentarchy of the ancient Patriarchates is very significant.” It seems that some have still not realized that which is quite obvious, that is, that the Patriarchate of Moscow has never been a member of the pentarchy of the ancient Patriarchates. The pentarchy is comprised of Old Rome, New Rome (Constantinople) and the Patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. Not only was Moscow never considered a member of the pentarchy, but also there are no ecclesiastical or canonical texts that designate Moscow as the replacement or substitute for Old Rome. This is made clear when we look at some of the central moments in church history: the schism with Old Rome occurred on 1054 during the reign of Michael Kerularios, while Russia was elevated to the status of a Patriarchate in 1589, under Patriarch Jeremiah II. If there was ever a pressing need to replace Old Rome this would have occurred immediately after the schism (1054), and not five centuries later, when Russia was elevated to a Patriarchate.

5. It is also noted “that after the fall of Rome, the Patriarchate of Moscow acquired a seat amongst the five most significant Churches, and extends its jurisdiction over a series of countries.” At this point we must emphasize that the 28th Canon of the Fourth Ecumenical Council grants only to the Church of Constantinople the jurisdictional oversight of the “barbaric lands.”

The extension of the Patriarch of Russia’s jurisdiction across lands outside its ecclesiastical borders is uncanonical and a violation of Church order. This is the case when other Primates act similarly. Local Churches would have been able to extend into lands beyond their established ecclesiastical border if the canon referred to ethnicities (“barbarians”) instead of geographical regions (“barabaric lands”). If this were the case we would have been able to say, for example, that the Romanian Patriarch is the spiritual leader of the Romanian people across the world, or that the Russian Patriarch is the leader of every Russian. However, the 28th Canon is unambiguous and mentions geographical jurisdictions and not ethnicities. Every Orthodox Church has a specific geographical border. Constantinople, however, maintains the license to extend throughout the Ecoumene, except, of course, into those areas under the canonical jurisdiction of other autocephalous or synodal Orthodox Churches.

The present ecclesiological circumstances are accepted through ekonomia. After all, it is not ideal to have five Archbishops of America, or to have multiple ecclesiastical jurisdictions in a single European country. We should not forget, however, that our compliance with the current state of affairs through ekonomia should not become an occasion for boastful arrogance and deviation from canonical tradition. Moreover, the uncanonical extension of a Church’s jurisdiction should not be viewed as a strict execution of canon law, nor should it be perceived as an a priori right that every Primate enjoys because of their canonical jurisdiction over a specified ecclesiastical geographic region.

The thoughts that we have shared express a much deeper problem concerning what is often said about primacy in the Orthodox Church, about the idea of a “third Rome,” about ecclesiastical rank, etc. These ideas would not be taken seriously had some random laymen or clergymen issued them. It is disturbing, however, when an official Church arbitrarily creates a committee (according to Fr. Maxim’s comments) to evaluate matters that have already been resolved; to decide on those issues for which the Church has already decided. We would expect a Church such as Russia, which has undergone trials and tribulations, to have a completely different way of thinking. We would expect to see the Church of Russia rely more on faith than on logic, on miracles rather than facts and figures.

It is clear from the discussion that the Ecumenical Patriarchate will certainly not lose the position of primacy that it maintains; the ranking of the Orthodox Churches will not change; and the committee in question–or any other committee that is formed–will not institute rebellious changes in the Orthodox Church. We owe it to the faithful to always speak the truth so that they may hear a different perspective, and in order to avoid stirring false impressions in them. It is important not to forget that truth abides. The truth will release us from our parochial attitude and self-love; the truth will liberate us from spitefulness and our egos; the truth will allow us to move beyond feelings that instigate internal quarrels and erect narcissistic partitions. ‘The truth shall set us free.’ Irrespective of who we are, as members of the Church we have a constant and sacred duty to actively defend the truth.

Comments

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    Nick Katich says:

    Fr. Makarios Griniezakis is living in the past glory of the Millet-Bashi days of the Phanar.

    To quote a learned sage on past glory: “The only advantage to living in the past is that the rents are much cheaper!” (Alfred E. Neuman — What? Me Worry?)

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    Dean Calvert says:

    Re: the rankings of the patriarchates

    It’s about time. The Russian Church is the largest in the Orthodox world. Personally, I don’t know why they even take phone calls from the Phanar.

    A reordering of the rankings of the patriarchates is long overdue. The “live” churches (the Romanian, Bulgarian, Serbian Russian Greek) should be elevated, and the moribund bishoprics of the Middle East, Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria, need to be reduced to simple bishoprics.

    Living in a fantasy land was never envisioned by the Church Fathers. When the capital moved from Rome to Byzantium, the formerly insignificant see was elevated to patriarchal status. At one time the Churches of Trebizond and Ravenna were both considered seats of autonomous sees. And the rankings as well as boundaries of the various dioceses of the Byzantine Empire were routinely reviewed and adjusted to accommodate changes in the secular borders.

    A re-ranking of the patriarchates is LONG LONG overdue. In the process, much of the “noise” regarding the chaos in the diaspora will evaporate.

    Best Regards,
    Dean Calvert

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Nick, Dean, it’s because of ill-considered stunts like this that I’m not holding my breath regarding the formation of episcopal councils. Indeed, things like this could cause their entire disssoltion.

    I realize that this article was written and published with the foreknowledge of the Phanar; it’s a game of “one-upsmanship,” to try and get a lick in. But like Lambrianides’s speech, it will blow up in their faces. They never learn.

    Churches which engage in such shenanigans are pretty much on the road to losing the Gospel. Fr Hopko was right, listen to the last 15 minutes of his sermon and what he says about churches that “have the form of religion” but not religion itself.

    If I may be permitted the pleasure of a generic “I told you so,” it would be this: episcopal councils may be good in the abstract, especially in regions or polities that never had a SCOBA, but in North America there already exists a canonical Orthodox Church with a real synod. Come on in, the water’s fine.

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    Chrys says:

    I didn’t think I was a barbarian, but if this keeps up, I may consider becoming one.
    This isn’t my bailiwick, but didn’t Rome have authorization over the western “barbarians” prior to the split . . . which would make us . . .
    Oh well, no need to worry. At the rate of “demographic change” in Constantinople, the EP will be paying rent to the Russian Patriarchate pretty soon rendering the argument moot.
    (I’m going to go repent now for my nasty comments.)

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    Chrys says:

    Power plays and assertions of privilege offer such a powerful witness to our faith, calling to mind the clear words of Scripture (Mark 10:42-45):

    “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and their men of high positions exercise power over them. You should be just like them. Whoever wants to become great among you should make everyone else his servant and whoever wants to be first among you should assert his demands and prerogatives.”

    . . . because the compelling witness of real moral authority – like “giving your life as a ransom for many,” (the rest of the actual verse) — well, THAT wouldn’t change the course of the world.

    P.S. How does one become an Archon? Is the honor given for the power of one’s spiritual witness or is it conferred for some other (political or financial) reason?

    Okay, now I will have to really repent.

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    Fr Gregory says:

    While I am not a fan of the Phanar, I do think that the MP claim to be a member of the Pentarchy is simply nonsense. Should there be, as Dean (#2), a reordering of the Churches? I don’t know–there is much that could be said on both sides of the question. But Moscow as the Third Rome is more a matter of Russian aspirations then canonical truth.

    That said I do think that we do need a central authority in the Church. I say this not only because it is increasingly the case that what one Church does has a effect on a Sister Church but also because we need to speak with one voice. For example, potential converts can go shopping for their preferred method of being received–want to be (re-) baptized? chrismated” confessed? These are all possible. You can even be chrismated here and baptized (but not re-chrismated) later over there.

    And our witness on moral matters is also compromised by our lack of a unified voice. There comes a point where asserting to a hurt and lost world that the Church teaches what it always taught begins to ring hollow. Those looking for the Gospel shouldn’t have to check footnotes in a history text or have to adjudicate among the voices of various Orthodox jurisdictions.

    Like it or not we are facing the same challenge that Rome faced and did not resolve until the mid-19th century at Vatican I–and that resolution is not always as definitive as it appears. Empirically, if not theologically, there is a sense in which we are one diocese–I understand why theologically this isn’t true. But the events recorded in this post suggest, we have to resolve the question of the universal governance of the Church–while we reject the modern Catholic teaching of the papacy we do as yet have an Orthodox alternative save our rather wishful assertion that we are a communion of local Churches.

    In Christ,

    +FrG

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    Michael Bauman says:

    The solution as simple as it is difficult: stop with the power games inside and outside the Church–the world is not ours to control. Admit and begin healing the horrible scars of the Symphonia/Millet/Sergianism that has possessed our bishops and our people.

    Simply allow the Church in the US to find our own way to unity (since the non-US bishops clearly don’t want to help). Have all Orthodox bishops get together on a regular basis and really talk to one another (like as St. Catherine’s Monastary in the Siani or on Mt. Athos for instance rather than a resor town).

    Frankly, right now I think all the bishops have gone mostly mad with their power. I have trouble trusting any of them.

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    Chrys says:

    At the risk of being impudent, asceticism is not just a corrective to consumerism, it is also a corrective to ambition, ethno-centrism, and all those other expressions of me and mine.
    It’s always important (and much more compelling) to lead by example.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Not to belabor this point, but this exposes the utter hypocrisy and illogic of the Phanar and certain historians who have emphasized that many of the foreign priests from the Balkans looked on themselves as “missionaries.”

    First to address the issue of “territories.” According to the Phanar and its propagandists (as well as certain revisionists), the Church of Greece had an “active” missionary role in America. So it’s obvious that the Archons haven’t gotten the memo, otherwise, they wouldn’t have posted this drivel. Let us not forget, that the EP we are led to believe “recognized” the authority of the Church of Greece as such when in 1908 he declared that all Greek parishes belonged henceforth to it (and not to the EP). So which is it: does Greece have a role to play or not? And if not -that is if we’re being consistent–were those churches “canonical”?

    But of course that is the point isn’t it? We’re not really being consistent. We are engaging in magical thinking, what else are you going to call it when the Phanar makes things up as it goes along? But let us humor ourselves and be consistent and engage in a little bit of Euclidian logic:

    This of course leaves aside the point that this transfer was itself uncanonical as the EP was forced to do so by its Turkish overlords. This is an example of “canons for thee, but nor for me.”

    Second, it becomes increasingly apparent that there never was an “active missionary role” that the churches of the Balkans undertook in North America. This view is laughable in itself for those who actually know the circumstances. Many of the priests who came were themselves economic migrants and/or had come to dead-ends back in the Old Country. (And more than a few were under canonical or ethical clouds.) Yes, the majority received antimensions, so technically speaking, they were under the authority of a bishop. But in what meaningful fashion can this be regarded as missionary activity? It is only by stretching the meaning of “missionary” in almost a gymnastic sense that we can suppose so.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Fr Gregory,

    if I may humbly disagree with you. The idea of the “Pentarchy” is more mythical than real. The golden age of Pentarchic thought was in the High Middle Ages, long after the original Pentarchy had ceased to exist. During the first Christian millennium, nobody talked about a Pentarchy as a theological/ecclesiological necessity as such. Even Rome’s patriarchal status came about in fits and starts. Most all regional churches headed by metropolitans were autocephalous.

    As far as Moscow being the Third Rome, this was a pious fiction but no more of a fiction than Constantinople being the Second Rome. Or Rome being the primus inter pares in the first place. This was all because of political exigencies. Moscow’s claim was certainly valid during the Romanov dynasty when Russia laid claim to a vast international empire. For the record, I don’t think that anybody’s claim to being a “Rome” in the first place rises to the level of canonical truth. The placement of dioceses and metropolitan seats was based on political contingencies, nothing more.

    Lastly, I unfortunately must disagree with the idea that we need a central authority in Orthodoxy. Therein lies papalism. If we followed strict canonical protocols, every nation that had an Orthodox population would have functioning administrative centers which could serve as clearinghouses of information regarding baptisms, marriages, ordinations, etc. Moreover, there would be no territorial messes like what we have now as no foreign bishop would be allowed to exercize universal authority over emigrants from his land. He would simply say to emigres: “There’s already a church in America/Germany/wherever, go join it.”

    I think that if a real need arises for some sort of international clearinghouse and/or juridical authority, then the center at Chambesy could be turned into a standing council that meets throughout the year to hear reports on new church formation. Perhaps this inter-Orthodox council could be comprised of auxilary bishops from every national church with the Constantinopolitan bishop serving as its permanent chairman.

    For those lands which have no Orthodox populations at all, then we could revert to canonical authority again. It is incumbent upon the bishop of the diocese closest to the land in question to evangelize there. Once he does so and the Orthodox presence becomes more significant, and once the thresshold of three dioceses are created, then he can apply to the standing pan-Orthodox commission for autonomy (or his mother church).

    Since we’re on this subject, there should be automatic “triggers” which mandate autonomy once certain objectives have been met.

    Anyway, please excuse my verbosity and my presumption. I realize that you are a priest and are more qualified to comment on such things.

    George the sinner

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Chrys, re no 4: even the Pope did not have blanket authority over “the West.” His direct authority was over the 10 suburbicarian dioceses within the prefecture of the city of Rome. (In other words, he was a metropolitan.) And all he could do there was preside at the consecration of these bishops who were elected by the peoples within their respective dioceses. As for the “West” in general, he could appoint legates to places like Gaul, but only with the permission of the emperor in Constantinople.

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    Nick Katich says:

    I agree with George that central authority is unnecessary and has no foundation in our ancient ecclesiology. Look at the early Church history. No particualar see had an special “primacy” when it came to speaking the truth, with one voice, on moral or theological issues. Ignatius was from Antioch; Polycarp from Ephesus; Irineaus for Lyon, Hyppolitus from suburban Rome; Cyprian from Carthage; Origen from Alexandria; Athanasius from Alexandria; Basil from Cappadocia; Ambrose from Milan; etc. etc. What is important is that one’s brain guides (through the guidance of the Holy Spirit in providing discernment) and not one’s geographic location. Constantinople has had a history of birthing heretics like Nestorius and others.

    St. Justin (Popovich) of Celije wrote “The Supreme Value and the Infallabile Criterion”. The words speak for themselves when it comes to primacy, puff-acy and importancy:

    “Every kind of European humanity, from the most primitive to the most sensitive, from fetishist to papist, is based on the faith of man, as he himself is, within his own, given, psycho-physical empirical state and historicity. Indeed, the essence of every humanism is man = homo. Summarized in its ontology, every humanism is nothing more than hominism (homo-hominis). Man is the supreme value, the all-value. Man is the highest criterion, the all-criterion, “the measure of all things is man”. In short, this is the essence of every humanism, every hominism. Thus, all the types of humanism, all hominisms are, after all is said and done, of an idolatrous, polytheist origin.

    “Every European humanism, from pre-Renaissance, Renaissance and thereafter – protestant, philosophical, religious, social, scientific, cultural and political – strove (knowingly or unknowingly) and continue to incessantly strive, for one thing: to replace the faith in the God-human (Christ) with a faith in man; to replace the Gospel according to man, the philosophy according to the God-human with the philosophy according to man, the culture according to the God-human with culture according to man. In short, to replace life according to the God-human with life according to man.

    “This was taking place for centuries, until up to the past century, 1870, when, during the Vatican’s first synod, all of the above were recapitulated, in the dogma of the Pope’s infallibility. From that point on, this dogma came to be the central dogma of Papism. This is why in our day, in the 2nd Vatican Council, the ‘inviolable’ and ‘irreformable’ status of this dogma was so fervently discussed and supported. This dogma is of an epoch-making significance that can affect the entire fate of Europe, and especially in the apocalyptic times that it has begun to enter.

    “Through this dogma, all the European humanisms acquired their ideal and their idol. Man had now been proclaimed as the supreme Divinity, an all-divine being. The European humanist pantheon had now acquired its Jupiter.

    “Sincerity, is the language of the Truth. The 20th-century dogma on Papal infallibility is nothing short of a rebirth of idolatry and polytheism. A renaissance of idolatrous evaluations and critiques.

    “There can be no compromise, between a world that conscientiously “remains in wickedness”, and a person that voluntarily follows the God-human Christ. A person who follows the God-human Christ cannot make any compromises detrimental to the Evangelical Truth, with a person who justifies such things and promotes them to a dogma. This is forever an issue of a decisive and extremely critical dilemma and choice: either the God-human, or the plain human.

    “The ‘infallible’ human, and opposite him, the “supreme sinner” human; humility on the one hand and haughtiness on the other.

    “The incomparable song-bird of the God-human Gospel, saint John the Chrysostom, evangelizes the following: “The foundation of our philosophy is humility”. Humility is the foundation of our philosophy regarding life and the world, regarding time and eternity, regarding the God-human and the Church, whereas the foundation of every type of humanism – even those that have been elevated to a dogma – is haughtiness and a faith in the word of man, in the mind of man, in the logic of man. Haughtiness converted that most radiant Lucifer into a devil. Haughtiness is an incurable sickness of the mind by the devil. Within this sickness are found (and from it, spring forth) all the other diabolical evils.”

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    Isa Almisry says:

    Re the original Pentarchy: Alexandria and Antioch are far from moribund. Alexandria now has more communicants than ever since the Roman Empire, and is spreading throughout Africa (btw, Pope Meletios (yes, THAT Meletios) evidently didn’t believe his own line on canon 28, invented during his lifetime, as he extended Alexandria’s jurisdiction to “All of Africa” without approval from his successor in Constantinople). Jerusalem is dying in Palestine (but not yet in Jordan), because the Phanariots continue to strangle it: it contrasts with the Church of Antioch, whose Faithful got rid of the Phanariots over a century ago, and thrives.

    History does not support the novel interpretation that the Phanar is selling on canon 28. It does not predate 1908. As I have posted on the Orthodox history blog, the 19th century is full of examples of Constantinople being scolded for asserting Ultramontanist claims.

    Btw, the Romanian Patriarchate DOES in fact assert just what Fr. Makarios (another mouthpiece of the EP) claims. So what does the Phanar make of that?

    I do agree with the Archmandirite in one thing, canon 28 is unambigous: it clearly predicates Constantinople’s importance on it being the capital of the empire. It is no longer the capital of anything.

    “They are called to enter that sacred space where Church Fathers such as Basil the Great, Saint Gregory of Nyssa, Saint Gregory the Theologian, and Saint John Chrysostom live, and to be inspired by them. This is what we mean when we pronounce, “we who follow the fathers,”” Interesting he should bring that up, as no sooner had Constantinople been made autocephalous and its early decades, it exiled St. Gregory and St. John from its throne, and was a hotbed of Arianism against which St. Basil and St. Gregory fought against.

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    Nick Katich says:

    One other thing regarding primacy:

    1 Samuel 8:6-7: “But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, ‘Give us a king to judge us.’ So Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.’”.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    broken record alert: these near-blasphemous sentiments that arise from the Phanar and its sycophants are negating the spirit and the text of the Gospel. On a more mundane level, they make evangelism next to impossible.

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    Chris Gorman says:

    The sole reason the Patriarchate of Constantinople was given the title of “first among equals” was its status as the capital of the Byzantine Empire. The empire ceased to exist over 500 years ago, and the patriarchate has dwindled into one of the smaller in Orthodoxy. There is no reason to pretend the 21st century is the 14th century. It has also been universally acknowledged in the past that the “barbarian lands” referred to in the 28th canon of the 4th Ecumenical Council refers to the regions of Pontos (of the Alani peoples) and Thrace (of the Rus), both of which eventually came under the jurisdiction of Constantinople. It has never historically been interpreted as meaning all unknown lands throughout the world. To claim otherwise is intellectual dishonesty.

    As a member of the Greek Church in America, I understand the extremely distressing situation the Phanar finds itself in Turkey. However, having neo-papal delusions of grandeur is not the solution, nor is daydreaming about past glories.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Amen, Chris. Welcome to the club. Hopefully cooler heads such as yours will eventually prevail in the GOA.

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    Chris Gorman says:

    Archbishop Michael of North and South America (+1958) of blessed memory on the entirely political (and hence, transitory) nature of the honor given to the patriarchal sees:

    In conclusion, it should be pointed out that the order of precedence given to the Apostolic Sees was determined exclusively by the political importance of various cities. The Bishop of Rome was recognized as first because Rome was captial of the empire. Originally, the Bishop of Constantinople was designated as second by the Second Ecumenical Council. Subsequently, when Constantinople became the capital of the Byzantine Empire and was referred to as New Rome, the Forth Ecumenical Council proclaimed the Bishop of Constantinople equal in rank with the Bishop of Rome.

    The Bishop of Alexandria was designated third, because this city was then the great center of learning; and following him were the Bishop of Antioch and Jerusalem. If the position of honor were determined not by the political but by the religious significance of the city, does it not stand to reason that the primacy of honor would be reserved for Jerusalem, the Mother Church of Christendom? There would be no dispute in that case, for our Lord lived there, was crucified there and arose from the tomb there. Moreover, the first Christian Church was founded in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost.

    These are the true and accurate facts as they are brought to light by the authentic documents that make up Ecclesiastical History.

    (Quoted in “The Church Fathers on Love In Truth,” by Constantine Zalalas, pages 15-16.)

    Perhaps Constantinople should exhibit the virtue of humility, recognize the reality of the political insignificance of the See, and pass the “first among equals” honor to a more representative patriarchate.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Chris, what a splendid idea! Let’s not hold our collective breath however…

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