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Question about the great schism


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#1 Christine Y.

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 08:16 AM

In my researching and comparing of Orthodoxy and RC, I ran across a statement that I have since not been able to relocate. The writer suggested that since the patriarchal bishop of Rome was the only one out of 5 (I think he said 5) patriarchal bishops to assert and insist on his supremacy; it was obvious that he had departed from Holy Tradition and thereby initiated his break in communion with the One, Holy, Catholic, and Appostolic Chruch.

Is this true? Did he misinterpret history (and maybe I am misremembering what was said too)? Was there a council meeting about Papal supremacy? Did 4 other Patriarchal Bishops dismiss Rome's claim? Did any Eastern Bishops accept Papal supremacy during the time leading up to or during the Great Schism?

I have been looking for the answer to this and haven't been successful. I thought I would post this to see if someone could answer. Hopefully, there is a plain, straitforward answer.

Thank you for any help in understanding what happened.

#2 Richard A. Downing

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 08:51 AM

The Orthodox position has always been that all bishops are equal, although some, because if the historical importance of their see, are given a place of honour which includes a degree of deference to them - and we call them Patriarchs. Deference is not authority, although it can sometimes look the same. Sometime during the 8th and 9th centuries the Patriarchs of Rome appear to have become convinced that they had real authority over all the rest - none of the others agreed. Thus, we think they were mistaken.

It's easy to see how this might have come about: as the Empire disintegrated in the West, secular power moved into the hands of the warlords (whatever they were called), and the mindset of the time was extremely hierarchical - everyone was someone's vassal, or so it seemed. The Pope had to become the top warlord in the minds of the other warlords in order to maintain the position of the Church. It's a human failing to believe your own propaganda after a while.

Love, Richard.

#3 Christina M.

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 12:00 PM

Christine Y,
There's an excellent short book on the subject called "Popes and Patriarchs" that was written by a former Catholic. It's also an enjoyable read. Here's a link:
http://www.amazon.co...ntt_at_ep_dpt_1

#4 Father David Moser

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 02:45 PM

The "short answer" to your question is that the Pope of Rome did indeed misinterpret his place among the patriarchs and attempt to assert authority that he never had been granted. There was no specific "council" about the primacy of Rome (unless you want to go to Ferrara/Florence but that happened after the schism) because there was never a question. The 5 historic patriarchates (Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem) were and are equal and separate jurisdictions. They were all part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. It was only when Rome began to assert that it was more equal than the others that there were problems. If you want to look at the progress of the schism through the lives of the saints, a good book is "The Pillars of Orthodoxy" translated by M. Miriam of Holy Apostle's Skete. This book is the lives of St Photios the Great, St Gregory Palamas and St Mark of Ephesus all of whom were primary defenders of the Orthodox Church throughout this whole period.

The "long answer" to your question is quite complex and takes study in history and politics, in theology, in culture and language, and in human nature to fully understand. It covers the period from say the 7th Century to the 13th Century (or maybe beyond if you take it up to the dogma of "papal infallibility" which really cemented the split). Although the primary issue was papal supremacy, there were a host of other theological and practical issues such as the use of the filioque in the creed, the date of Easter, the use of unleavened bread, and so on. It is really a fascinating topic, but takes a lot of time and study.

Fr David Moser

#5 Dennis Justison

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 09:48 PM

I'd like to add another source for you to check: the book "The Orthodox Church," by Timothy Ware, now Bishop Kallistos. The first three chapters do a wonderful and fair job at explaining how the partriarchs came about, their relationship to each other and the Church in general. This is a fairly concise, non-scholarly discussion of the major events as they unfolded (the three chapters are only about 60 pages). As someone who is just now entering the Orthodox Church from the Catholic Church, I really find Bishop Kallistos to be very fair and honest in the treatment of this matter. Truth is truth, and sometimes each of us have to admit some wrong doing in ourselves or our group. By the same token, we don't have to make those we disagree with out to be devils either.

#6 Kosta

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 10:20 PM

Papal supremacy was a later development, after the eastern half of the empire began weakening from muslim advance. At that time Rome began looking westward for protection and especially found it with Charlemagne.
The canons of the early ecumenical councils make clear that the rankings are based on a primacy of honor (presvia tis timies) due to the secular prestige and importance of the city to the empire. Thus Alexandria ranks in front of Antioch even though Antioch was the more important city of early christianity, Alexandria being the more important and influential secular city to the empire outranks it. Bottom line is Rome's honorary ranking has nothing to do with Peter. Papal supremacy is not biblical.
The emperor Justinian, the greatest emperor of the roman empire codified into law the 'pentarchy' in 545 a.d., basically the 5 Sees overlooked church life in their respective regions and were tied with the administrative regions of the empire. According to this law the primacy of the Church within the empire is Rome due to seniority followed by Constantinople (new rome) but both hold equal priveleges. The law also acknowleges that the bishops of the other Sees are also 'pontiffs':

novela 131: Concerning The Precedence of Partriarchs.

' Hence, in accordance with the provisions of these Councils, We order that the Most Holy Pope of ancient Rome shall hold the first rank of all the Pontiffs, but the Most Blessed Archbishop of Constantinople, or New Rome, shall occupy the second place after the Holy Apostolic See of ancient Rome, which shall take precedence over all other sees.'



As the empire began to shrink and crumble Rome aligned itself with the up and coming Franks and hence papal supremacy was born, no longer having to answer to the other ancient seats or to the empire that gave them the rank.

Edited by Kosta, 08 March 2011 - 10:42 PM.


#7 Christine Y.

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 03:02 AM

Wow! Thanks for all the great information, and book recommendations.
I still dont understand how it is possible for one Patriarchal Bishop to think he has supremacy when none of the others agreed with him. In my mind, it would be the same as if John McCain had stood up before the elections and without any voting and declared himself President of the U.S., because he was the oldest candidate and that gave him supremacy. ???? It is just kinda odd.
And considering the circumstances of what was happening in the East with the invasions. I would compare the treatment to abandoning your family during mass riots to fend for themselves. It seems illogical.
Maybe I should read some of these book suggestions before I comment anymore.

Again, thank you.

#8 Paul Cowan

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 03:49 AM

Keep in mind there were thousands of miles between the east and west. They couldn't very well pick up the phone and chat. It would take months for a message to get to one side and then months back IF the courier arrived at all. Distance does NOT make the heart grow fonder as the song suggests. Consider the land owner who went away and let out is crops to farmers and when the land owner did not return what did they do to his couriers and even his own Son? so why should we expect anything less of the west/east split?

Paul

#9 Rdr Daniel (R.)

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 12:51 PM

Another point to bear in mind, as Kosta spoke of above, is just how much control the Franks gained over the Pope of Rome they used the see as part of there political desire to be the Roman Empire and to discredit the real Christian Roman Empire in the east. This had been happing for a long time by the time of the Schism -for example think of the earlier Western Schism when the Pope excommunicated Saint Photius the Great. Rome could not help the Roman Empire in the east beacuse it was its self often under attack and protected only by the Franks who would not have wonted to help the Roman Empire even when they could.

#10 Christine Y.

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 05:15 AM

Hmmm - thank you.




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