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A new Orthodox patriarch-pope of old Rome?


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#1 Xristoforos McAvoy

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 06:48 AM

For a few years I have been puzzled by a certain phenomenon of Church government. In the Church of the 1st millenium after the edict of constans and council of nicea freed the Church from persecution it was very important for there to be a a tetrarchy and eventually pentarchy.

I post these wikipedia quotes below to give you some idea of what I typically read about the pentarchy and its current form of "ennearchy"

""the proposed government of universal Christendom by five patriarchal sees under the auspices of a single universal empire. Formulated in the legislation of the emperor Justinian I (527–565), especially in his Novella 131, the theory received formal ecclesiastical sanction at the Council in Trullo (692), which ranked the five sees as Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem."[2]"

"When in 680 Constantine IV called the Third Council of Constantinople, he summoned the metropolitans and other bishops of the jurisdiction of Constantinople; but since there were representatives of all five bishops to whom Justinian had given the title of Patriarch, the Council declared itself ecumenical.[22] This has been interpreted as signifying that a council is ecumenical if attended by representatives of all five patriarchs."

"The seventh and eighth centuries saw an increasing attribution of significance to the pentarchy as the five pillars of the Church upholding its infallibility: it was held to be impossible that all five should at the same time be in error.[9] They were compared to the five senses of the human body, all equal and entirely independent of each other, and none with ascendancy over the others.[6]"

"The Roman Catholic Church does not accept, either in theory or in practice, the theory of the government of the Christian Church as a pentarchy." (I dont understand why that would be)

"Today the Eastern Orthodox Church could perhaps be called an ennearchy, since it includes the following nine patriarchates (as well as other autocephalous and autonomous local Churches not headed by a patriarch): Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople; Patriarchate of Alexandria; Patriarchate of Antioch; Patriarchate of Jerusalem; Patriarchate of Moscow; Patriarchate of Serbia; Patriarchate of Romania; Patriarchate of Bulgaria; Patriarchate of Georgia."


The question I have is this: if there was in the past an importance in having a Patriarch of Old Rome , and the Church created a new Patriarchate of Alexandria after Alexandria went into schism, why has there not been a Patriarch of Rome created after Rome and Latin Christianity went into schism? It seems to me that this would help many Roman Catholics convert to Orthodoxy if there were so to speak an Orthodox Pope/Patriarch of Rome (Old Rome). Is it because there were no people who would accept themselves being Orthodox Christians living in Italy as there was in Egypt? Does the importance I place on this question allude to me having a flawed perspective of heterodox "latin" ecclesiology?

My brothers and sisters I await your ideas.

"Therefore, let not the pious devotion of the faithful neglect what the wise foresight of our predecessors has transmitted to our age; what God has given man as an inheritance, let man strive and work with all eagerness to attain. When this has been attained, let no one glorify himself, as if it were received of himself and not Another, but let him humbly render thanks to God, from Whom and through Whom all things are, and without Whom nothing is"

#2 Cyprian (Humphrey)

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 04:17 PM

I have to admit, I've wondered about the same thing. Why did we insist on creating "another" Patriarch of Alexandria, and didn't do that for Rome.

However, I doubt it would be feasible now, what with the modern political situation, and the world's "politically correct" sensibilities - it would just be perceived as aggressive and arrogant, doubtless to be condemned by multiple religious sources who are all looking to get their names in the news.

... and some people say I'm cynical about politics. :)

I suspect, too, this is related to the issue of creating a North American Patriarch. Some people are for it, and others are very nervous about it.

#3 Eric Peterson

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 05:25 PM

As I understand the history, the Patriarchate of Alexandria did not flip flop between Orthodoxy and Monophysite parties as did Antioch. There has, for the most part, always been an Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria. It wasn't a matter of insistence, but of apostolic succession and pastoral ministry for the Orthodox of Egypt. The line didn't end with the brutal assassination of St. Proterius by Timothy the Cat, but continued, giving the Church such luminaries as St. John the Merciful.

#4 Ryan

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 06:17 PM

I think, historically, there may simply not have been enough Orthodox supporters left in Italy or western Europe to support an Orthodox patriarch there.

Strangely enough, as was shown here, some folks in the EP camp are claiming that the EP is the "locum tenens" of Rome. Of course, they say this so that they can claim jurisdiction over western Europe for the EP. Whether the EP has held this position openly, I don't know. It seems to me, though, that, unless the EP shows some serious interest in the Roman see being filled at some point (a 1000 years is a pretty long time to be locum tenens), this claim can't be taken seriously. And the outrage from the Vatican if such a step were to be taken would be too much for the ecumenists to bear.

#5 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 08:34 PM

It is pretty simple really. The political power of Rome simply would not permit it and the Orthodox did not have the political ability or will to support an Orthodox patriarch of Rome.

The political situation in the Orthodox world was much different and the ability to set up and sustain a Patriarch in Alexandria existed, where it simply did not in Rome.

#6 Xristoforos McAvoy

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 09:56 PM

I am most grateful that my question is not seen as representing a heterodox ecclesiology. I am happy that it has been pondered by Orthodox people.

The latin church had a latin patriarch of constantinople who did not reside in constantinople for hundreds of years, today there are latin heterodox titular bishops of Tabarka, Numidia and Partenia, Mauritania Setifensis, formerly christian strongholds which succumbed sometime between 800-1300 to emigration to europe and islamic conversions. These bishops do not reside in these ancient cities. In fact St Nectarios was a titular bishop of of Pentapolis, Cyenaica which had the same scenario.

Perhaps another reason was that hope was held out for a restablishment of intercommunion.

#7 Preston Neel

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 02:58 AM

This is pure conjecture, but the creation of a new Patriarch of Rome would probably open up a host of problems within the Orthodox Church itself. Would Rome suddenly reclaim its status as first among equals? Exactly who would the See exercise jurisdiction over (the whole of Western Europe? North America?) Would a Roman Patriarch head a western rite in the Orthodox Church? What happens if the new See evolves into another papacy, postulating papal prerogatives and claiming authority over other jurisdictions?

That's just interior problems. The Vatican might throw a fit, although most of the Roman clergy are so infused with modernism and liberalism that they'd probably see it as some positive sign from God.

I think the burning question would be: why would it be necessary? What overall greater purpose would it serve?

#8 Eric Peterson

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 02:17 PM

A bishop of Rome is not essential for Orthodox ecclesiology. That seems to me to be the best reason. Just as an Orthodox bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon or of Carthage is not essential. Not even of Constantinople or Antioch or Alexandria or Jerusalem. The place is not essential. The bishop is.

#9 Isaac Crabtree

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 04:14 AM

Affanasiev and other ecclesiological writers have spoken about the importance of understanding that it is the community which a Bishop oversees as Eucharistic president which is in possession of Apostolic Succession. Similarly, the Roman Bishop had priority and primatial status because of the Roman Church-- the "Church of God which sojourns in Rome." The Western Patriarch's authority came from the authority of his Church's witness. The custom of titular bishops is really an innovation and should not really be continued, at least in the sense of creating Bishops of fictitious Orthodox communities in the West, be it Rome or wherever.

Now, there is a small Orthodox community in Rome-- there's even an Orthodox monastery on the Caelian Hill. I think there'd have to be much more there, though, for it to get its own bishop. Certainly such a community's bishop would wish to avoid such a pretentious title as Pope or Patriarch, since his community does not possess the Old Roman pre-eminence.

In closing, there were many different theories and practices of Church administration throughout history. The Church can order itself in many different ways, but these should always be in line with the servanthood leadership of the Gospels, and not a "lording it over" in the manner of the pagans.

#10 Kosta

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 03:00 AM

The Church has always had a Patriarch of Alexandria. For 100 years after the council of Chalcedon both the Orthodox and the Copts count the same patriarchs (of course some held to the monophysite position while others held to the challcedonian position). Alittle before the 5th council a permanent schism occured in the Alexandrian church based along ethnic lines, it is from this that a coptic patriarch had been established. This is why the theory of the pentarchy was alive and well in this time and did not die, because there always was an Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria.

Native egyptians rejected chalcedon (and the imperial church) and recognized their own archbishop(s) who were miaphysite. The greeks accepted chalcedon with their archbishop(s) (archbishop= patriarch of alexandria).

The term "melkite" was a term originated by the non-chalcedonians to refer to those that accepted Chalcedon and were in communion with the bishoprics of the imperial cities of Rome and Constantinople. Theodosius was the last alexandrian patriarch of a unified alexandrian church. He was deposed for monophysitism by Justinian in 535 a.d., the copts continued recognizing him till his death. Hence melkite which basically means 'emperors men'.

Edited by Kosta, 24 July 2009 - 03:46 AM.


#11 Mark Bej

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 02:22 AM

Certainly in the post-Vatican II environment Rome would see this as an affront to good relations (whether one wants to equate 'good relations' with ecumenism or not). But I think Mr. Blaydoe much overstates the Vatican's current power. A review of the ability of the Vatican to prevent abortion, or divorce, or availability of contraceptives, etc. in 'Catholic' countries (meaning here primarily Spain, Portugal, Ireland, and Italy; less so France) in the past 50 years has been poor to say the least. Were there an Italian government not on the best of terms with the Vatican, say, with a thrice-divorced prime minister, such a government might relish the establishment of an alternate Bishop of Rome, for its own political ends.

I find Mr. Peterson's comment most curious, given how at least common reading of the canons of the ECs is that Constantinople is given second place after Rome because of its political status of New Rome. Does this not, in fact, imply the necessity of Old Rome? Can there be a second place if there is no first? For myself, however, I find it just a bit strange that Christianity is the only religion that does not have its initial place of founding as its 'home base'. This is quite in contrast to Judaism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Confucianism, and others. From the perspective of a complete outsider, say, a fictitious Martian, I submit that this must look rather strange.

However, the biggest problem will have to do with money, property, and the control that comes with money and property. If there is a western Patriarch, would he not of necessity rule over the eparchies of North and South America, taking these away from the EP? As Mr. Neel points out, will this patriarch not suddenly be thrust into being primus inter pares, thus pushing all other patriarchs down one notch? Would he be the head only of the western rite(s) (ex-RC and ex-Anglican), or only one of these, since surely the other will immediately demand autocephaly and a patriarchate? Or will he head these _and_ the various eastern rites? Will the various ethnic parishes in the diaspora have to monetarily support his office, rather than their home-country patriarch, lest they be anathemized as philetist heretics?

And finally - would the Latins and Anglicans then begin to accuse this patriarch, or the Orthodox in general, of hypocrisy, of railing against Uniatism while creating another version themselves? What would the response of the Orthodox to such a charge? Would it not be the same as given by the Catholics centuries ago, basically, that "we're the true church, you are not, we have grace, you do not, so therefore it's OK if we do it, but not OK if you do"?

#12 Olga

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 03:05 AM

Mark, allow me a few comments:

common reading of the canons of the ECs is that Constantinople is given second place after Rome because of its political status of New Rome. Does this not, in fact, imply the necessity of Old Rome?

Not at all. "Old Rome" enjoyed its primacy (not supremacy) of honour among the ancient patriarchates only while it maintained and proclaimed the Orthodox faith. Following the schism (which took several centuries to reach breaking point), all bets were off.

For myself, however, I find it just a bit strange that Christianity is the only religion that does not have its initial place of founding as its 'home base'.

Mere geographical location does not, in itself, impart doctrinal integrity and canonicity on a church or patriarchate. What does, is the correct proclamation of the true faith of the Apostles. Even before the Great Schism, history shows there were bishops and patriarchs who proclaimed heresy. Rome was not immune from this.

We also have the longstanding situation of the ancient patriarchate of Antioch having transferred its geographic seat to Damascus, Syria. Does this mean the authority of this patriarchate is diminished? If course not. Where the bishop is, so there is the Church.

This is quite in contrast to Judaism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Confucianism, and others. From the perspective of a complete outsider, say, a fictitious Martian, I submit that this must look rather strange.

Of the faiths you quoted, only Judaism can claim the revelation of God, though not revelation in its fullness. But, Judaism, sadly, does not recognise Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son and Word of God, Emmanuel born of a Virgin in Bethlehem, as foretold in the OT, as the Messiah.

As Mr. Neel points out, will this patriarch not suddenly be thrust into being primus inter pares, thus pushing all other patriarchs down one notch?

As I said above, the honour of primus inter pares is a distinction earned, not by geographical location, but by fidelity to the Orthodox faith, the true and uncorrupted faith of the Apostles. It has been over a thousand years since Rome broke away from Orthodoxy. I cannot see how automatic restoration to Rome of the status of first among equals could be contemplated by the Church as a whole. An Orthodox Patriarchate of Rome will have to earn her stripes, just as the latter-day patriarchates of Moscow, Belgrade, Bucharest, and the like have had to prove themselves as worthy seats of Orthodoxy.

would the Latins and Anglicans then begin to accuse this patriarch, or the Orthodox in general, of hypocrisy, of railing against Uniatism while creating another version themselves?

Those who are outside of the Orthodox Church are, of course, entitled to their opinions. But, the responsibility of the Orthodox Church is to espouse and proclaim the uncorrupted faith, as received and proclaimed by the Apostles and their successors, the faithful bishops, without the additions or subtractions which have characterised so many denominations and sects.

I am not sure of the relevance or significance of this statement of yours: of railing against Uniatism while creating another version themselves? Could you please elaborate?

#13 Kosta

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 05:53 AM

The Patriarch of Jerusalem is known as the 'mother of all the churches' precisely because that is the 'homebase', where the historical events of the gospel took place. The rest of the ancient patriarchates are accorded an honorary primacy based on the secular prestige of each city of a now defunct empire. Anotherwords the rankings are still based on the ancient custom of honor, the patriarchates rule their own territories but besides that the rankings are obselete, neither Rome/vatican nor Instanbul are the capital city of anything any longer.

#14 Owen Jones

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 12:33 PM

And Antioch does not even exist any more.

#15 Christophoros

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 01:49 PM

Given the question posed, what relevance is there to the Ecumenical Patriarchate's recent claim that "given the schism between Orthodoxy and the Church in the West dating back to 1054, jurisdiction over Orthodox worshippers in Western Europe falls to the Ecumenical Patriarch as locum tenens of the Patriarch of Rome"?

Quote from: http://www.bailii.or.../2009/1250.html, see paragraphs 37 and 38.

#16 Father David Moser

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 02:09 PM

As far as the place in the dyptichs of each national Church (who is senior to whom in honor) goes, it is important to note that this is not a "static" thing. Even today at the preconciliar meetings in Chambesey for what many hope to be a "great council" of the Orthodox Church, the order of the dytpichs is one of the sticking points. Granted the 4 historic patriarchates (New Rome i.e. Constantinople, Alexandria, Anitoch, Jerusalem) have not changed - there is some question about the 5th place (Serbia or Russia) and the places of Crete and Georgia I believe. These things can and do change - so just because old Rome was once in the first place of honor, it does not mean that a restored patriarch of Rome would automatically assume that place in the future.

Fr David Moser

#17 Mark Bej

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 10:11 PM

One of the points I intended to make is in fact, I see two points. (1) In the case of (re)integrating the Latin church, surely the (Latin) bishop of Rome would demand to be primus inter pares. No doubt this would generate decades of discussion. (2) If the approach postulated by Xristoforos McAvoy were to be taken, to consecrate an Orthodox bishop or monk as a(n Orthodox) bishop of Rome, notwithstanding the Latins and the Vatican, were to be taken --- and this was my original point in my post above --- I foresee substantial difficulties _from within_ the Orthodox communion as to who has what rank; and over centuries, given the human weakness of pride (among others), this could further develop into arguments over jurisdiction, very similar to the present discussions/arguments with Latins. I was pointing out this latter reason as a _possible_ reason why the Orthodox Church has never taken this step of consecrating its own Bishop of Rome.

Olga, in response to your question to me, allow me to try to rephrase for clarity. Again, the start of this thread postulated the consecration of an Orthodox as Bishop of Rome, i.e., creating a structure parallel to the Latin communion. It has been variously suggested (not on this thread, but elsewhere on Monachos) that this would be a good idea expand Orthodoxy in the West. My point was that, should this be done, and should we see not merely the conversion of individual people, but larger-scale conversions of entire parishes and even dioceses, the Latins and other would soon accuse the Orthodox of a more modern version of Uniatism. (Of course, taking the most strident Orthodox position, if one believes there is no grace on the Latin side, then there are no sacraments, no presbyters, no bishops, no church, and no faithful; thus, there is no 'stealing' of 'bishops' or 'faithful', since there is no 'church' from which to steal them. But to be completely faithful to such a position, that 'bishop' would have to be baptised, chrismated, given the Eucharist (after confession, presumably, being of the age of reason), ordained, and consecrated, all anew.) In other words, taking the position that "you (Latins) do what you like, but we (Orthodox) will go ahead and recreate the traditional Pentarchy" is not without its own problems.

Fr. Moser mentions that the rankings have changed. However, apart from Constantinople's having been moved to 2nd place, I am unaware of any others. Which others have occurred?

#18 Kosta

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 01:46 AM

Given the question posed, what relevance is there to the Ecumenical Patriarchate's recent claim that "given the schism between Orthodoxy and the Church in the West dating back to 1054, jurisdiction over Orthodox worshippers in Western Europe falls to the Ecumenical Patriarch as locum tenens of the Patriarch of Rome"?

Quote from: http://www.bailii.or.../2009/1250.html, see paragraphs 37 and 38.


Very Very recent claim. Just like in other parts of the diaspora, Orthodoxy in western europe are primarily immigrant churches who look to their mother churches for guidance. Of course the EP falsely believes they have jurisdiction in every part of the diaspora.

#19 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 01:51 AM

Nobody pays much attention to it.




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