Terry Mattingly: Did ‘The’ Leader of the Orthodox Attend the Rome Rites? [VIDEO]

Source: Patheos | Terry Mattingly

So, let’s assume that you are a Catholic leader and you pick up your morning newspaper and it contains a story in which Pope Francis is described as “a leader” of the world’s Catholic Christians.

What would you think? Is the phrase “a leader” — implying one among many equals — an accurate way to describe the unique, singular, authoritative role played in global Catholicism by the occupant of St. Peter’s throne? The answer, of course, is “no.”

So, let’s assume that you are an Anglican Christian, perhaps a leader in one of the rapidly growing churches of Africa, and you pick up your paper and it contains a story in which the Archbishop of Canterbury is described as “the leader of the world’s Anglican Christians.” Note the singular nature of the word “the.”

What would you think? Is the phrase “the leader” — implying a unique, singular, authoritative role over Anglicans around the world — an accurate way to describe the symbolic “first among equals (primus inter pares)” role that the Archbishop of Canterbury has historically played in Anglicanism? The answer, of course, is “no.”


Read the entire article on the Patheos website.


  1. No one can fault the secular press for calling the EP “the leader” of the Orthodox Church.

    On the EP’s own web site we see this:

    “The Ecumenical Patriarchate is the highest see and holiest center of the Orthodox Christian Church throughout the world… It constitutes the center of all the local Orthodox Churches, heading these not by administration but by virtue of its primacy in the ministry of pan-Orthodox unity and the coordination of the activity of the whole of Orthodoxy.”

    A little further down we read that his patriarchate is the “… center par excellence of the life of the entire Orthodox world…”

    He certainly sounds like “the leader” to me.

    • That is until one actually visualizes the “holiest center of the Orthodox Christian Church” as four grungy blocks by four grungy blocks of run-down buildings in a run-down suburb of Istanbul that the “highest see” refers to as “Constantinople.” Apparently, we are “coordinated” from the holiest trailer park, par excellence, in all of Orthodoxy. And now Terry Mattingly seems set on destroying the illusion…

      • Christ's unprofitable servant, Seraphim says

        Agreed. The Ecumenical Patriarchate’s perception of itself has become quite fantastic, in the literal sense of the word. My parish is in the GOA, and while I respect and honor the EP for what it actually is, I cannot stomach its novel & idiosyncratic interpretation of the 28th canon of the Council of Chalcedon, which seems to be representative of its self-aggrandizement as well as the means by which it justifies its claim to have de jure authority over the flocks of other patriarchates in the “barbarian lands”, all the while exercising humility & economia when the other patriarchates fail to cede their flocks. There are proper limits to all things, but if those legitimate boundaries are not perceived then they will never be acknowledged or respected. Ergo, the classic saga of perception vs. reality. C’est la via. We need to pray for/about this.

      • Joseph Fester says

        The Patriarchate of Constantinople in its current physical experience should never be compared in human terms of “greatness.” Our Lord, hanging on the Cross, abandoned by all but a few of the most faithful women and one disciple in human terms was not “greatness”, yet we all know that from that humble beginning the world was changed. Give me “four grungy blocks by four grungy blocks of run-down buildings in a run-down suburb of Istanbul” and His All-Holiness is still the “First Among Equals.” Shall we pray for him in his current persecution or shall we make light of his condition from our safe vantage point here in America?

        • Christ's unprofitable servant, Seraphim says

          Father, I agree that physical conditions are not what makes the Ecumenical Patriarch/ate “great” or “small”, and, yes, we should certainly pray for His-All-Holiness, who is doing a remarkable job considering that he is oppressed by the Turkish government.

          However, his/their eastern-papal tendencies to medal in the affairs of other Orthodox churches & his/their off-the-wall interpretation of canon 28 of Chalcedon, which none of the other Orthodox churches agree with, and which history renders immediately & utterly untenable, are my objections to its self-aggrandizement.

          I take my hat off to Patriarch Bartholomew for his successful efforts to coordinate all the Orthodox churches in getting regional assemblies of bishops formed with the explicit goal of healing the chaos in the canonical structure of the Church, but that I haven’t heard him/them renege on any of the nonsense that has been spouted for years now.

          • Joseph Fester says


            The interpretation of Canon 28 is what it is but I think that the humility of the E.P. to guide the regional episcopal assemblies, with the 100% concurrence of all Orthodox Churches meeting in Chambesy is an important recognition not of a eastern papal primacy but of active cooperation in one of the most difficult and thorny issues where overlapping jurisdictions are a reality.

            Of course, all local Orthodox Churches still have the right, if they so choose, to appeal decisions to the E.P., thus the First Among Equal and the Primacy of honor is a reality. Those prerogatives have been exercised with restraint by Constantinople and where there have been disagreements a sincere effort to work out those differences in love continues.

            I pray you have a blessed Holy Week and a Joyous Pascha.

            • Christ's unprofitable servant, Seraphim says

              Thanks, Father, and I wish you a good Holy Week & Pascha as well!

              I don’t have a problem with universal primacy, and as I stated above, I agree that the EP’s humble service to the Church, which has effectively led the 13 other autocephalous churches (not including the OCA) into consensus on how to fix the ecclesiastical mess that overlapping jurisdictions have caused, is not only a beautiful, but also an exemplar illustration, an “icon” if you will, of authentic Orthodox primacy on a universal (i.e., “ecumenical”) level.

              However, its incessant claims to jurisdiction over the “barbarian” lands based upon its interpretation of canon 28 have not been rescinded, and to my mind this represents a disturbing eastern papal tendency.

              The incongruence between the EP’s actions, on one hand, & its words, on the other hand, is puzzling. I hope it doesn’t represent an ambivalence yet to manifest itself in some unhealthy manner. It seems to be the case that he/they had to take a more humble & conciliar approach after years of pitching the canon 28 argument without any buyers. At any rate, I’m pleased with the way things are going the last few years, but the highfalutin language & continued canon 28 bit that they still have the website is unfortunate, as well as embarrassing, especially for me as a member of the GOA. Yes, actions do speak louder than words, but words still mean something. Genuine humility doesn’t merely lead to diplomacy but, in deed, to true repentance.

          • Frank Williams says

            Meddle, not medal!

    • Pere LaChaise says

      As if saying a thing made it so. Metr. Nikitas of Dardanellia, Holy Hill and all Berkeley is talking about a ‘crisis in Orthodoxy’ – the Phanar’s in crisis and it’s our problem. The Phanar’s solution to the crisis: “All your base belong to us”. Once the Synod of Istanbul enjoys unrivaled control over churches in Ukraine, Western Europe, Australia, Oceania, the Americas, then all will be fine – because Chalcedon 28 will be upheld. Until then, the alarm will sound, and the homogeneia will remain discomfited, its “Megali Idea” unfulfilled.

      • Christ's unprofitable servant, Seraphim says

        If you could supply a link to Metropolitan Nikitas’ paper on this “Crisis in Orthodoxy” that you referred to it would be appreciated. I always enjoy reading these pieces for the sheer entertainment that comes from gawking at the circular reasoning that is employed & the revisionist history that is displayed. I’ve yet to encounter a single essay or argument that has not made me feel embarrassed for being Orthodoxy by the time I’m done reading or listening to it.

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