Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Brothers, Peter & Andrew

Sandro Magister has the full text of the Patriarch of Constantinople's address to the Synod, he entitles it "The day will come when our two Churches will fully converge", it is well worth reading. The Second Vatican Council committed the Church to ecumenical dialogue, and at the heart of the "Benedictine Project" is the rediscovery of our common heritage. As the Pope said to the Patriarch, "Your Fathers are our Father, how can we not be brothers?"


PeterHWright said...

I think Old Believer, commenting on an earlier post, highlighted the problem of reconciliation beteeen Rome and Constaninople.

There are, of course, doctrinal questions. (There is also the question of Rome putting its house in order liturgically.)

But while the Pope has immediate and universal jurisdiction in the Catholic Church, this concept is unkown to the Orthodox Churches, which, being auto-cephalous, recognise only the primacy (a primacy of honour, one might say,) of the Ecumenical Patriarch. The Patriarch of Constaninople is not the Orthodox equivalent of the Pope, and is really not in a position to speak for the other Orthodox Churches, is he ?

This primacy, I understand, has declined in recent years, especially under Bartholomew I,
to the point where an agreement between Rome and Constaninople would not have the support of the other Orthodox Churches, and certainly not the Patriarchate of Moscow ! (I would agree that mutatis mutandis the debacle of the Council of Florence comes to mind.)

Therefore, I have to wonder where the friendship between Rome and Constaninople (which is a very good thing) is leading. It cannot encompass the entire Orthodox world, or anything like it.

Could an agreement enhance the status of Constaninople ? Well, that would depend on the nature of the agreement, but equally it could weaken the status of the Ecumenical Patriarch to the point of terminal decline. One hopes this won't happen, of course !

PJA said...

It was an uplifting address (especially the Patriarch's reference to the Holy Father as his "elder brother") and a brilliant considered response from the Holy Father.

Having spent the week-end with Catholics who despise Pope Benedict, I am even more convinced that, one day, he will be hailed as one of the greatest popes of all time.

Anonymous said...

I shall have to find some macro I think that works on blogs so I can press a button and print "I agree with Dr. Wright"

But I do: with every word of the above.

If Rome and Constantinople are serious why is there nothing that cascades down to parish level? Some years ago a priest of the Diocese of Westminster told me that whilst he was a deacon in a North London Parish he visited the local Greek Cathedral. He was made most welcome and invited to lunch with the clergy after the Liturgy. The senior Greek priest expressed his pleasure at the deacon's visit but said that this was the first time any cleric from the local Roman church had ever visited. I suspect it was probably the last time too.

(Clearly our host, Fr. Ray, has contact with Orthodox but I would suggest this is highly exceptional for a Roman PP)

What most Orthodox find perplexing is what is perceived as contradictory messages. From a reconciliatory view 'Ut unum sint' and the Balamand agreement were positive. Then other documents and the dropping of the papal title 'Patriarch of the West' less so.

As I commented on the 'Byzantium' post perhaps a concrete gesture would be for Pope Benedict to return some of the looted treasures of Constantinople to Patriarch Bartholomew. Such a gesture would increase the prestige of both.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Old Believer,
I think the return of the head of St Andrew to the Patriarch abd the giving of the Icon of OL of Kazan to Moscow were a start. The first was welcomed, the 2nd was accepted but quickly labelled a copy.

Anonymous said...


"In the fifth century we meet with a spurious document attributed to a certain Dorotheus, Bishop of Tyre at the end of the third century, according to which the Church of Byzantium was founded by the Apostle St. Andrew, its first bishop being his disciple Stachys (cf. Romans 16:9). The intention of the forger is plain: in this way the Church of Rome is made inferior to that of Constantinople, St. Andrew having been chosen an Apostle by Jesus before his brother St. Peter, the founder of the Roman Church."

Historically, Byzantium was simply a suffragan see of Heraclea. Let us hope and pray for unity, yes, but I really don't see the point of indulging Instanbul's co-papal pretensions - for that, ultimately, is what they are: pretensions.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Ray,

There are certainly a lot of copied Icons about. I would suspect that the experts the Holy Synod has at its service can tell the genuine article from a copy, however well done the latter is.

Relics, of course, present even more problems: the numerous heads of St. John the Baptist and the many breasts of St. Agatha spring to mind. I have several reliquaries in my collection of the Apostles radiating around a fragment of the True Cross. Some may be genuine but relic production was big business at one time.

I was thinking of a more substantial gift such as the Golden Horses and the Pala d'Oro - the reception of both by Constantinople would increase the Patriarch's precarious status. On the liturgical-theological level instead of omitting Filoque on the relatively rare events when the Patriarch is present perhaps Benedict should decree that the Nicean-Constantinople Creed be returned to its original, traditional form.

That would be a real expression of seriousness that would even engage Moscow.

Anonymous said...

Dear Old Believer, Fr. Ray and Dr. Wright,

Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory Forever!

I see that this blog is revelant to our continuing discussion on Orthodoxy and Catholicism and the 'Road to Unity'. I posted some responses this morning on the older blog: "Patriarch B. addresses Synod..." I have some additional comments for this one.

Dr. Wright, it's good that you mention autocephaly in our discussions. It is a very important concept in unifying so many orthodox churches and confessions with a single, centrally controlled Roman Catholic Church. Autocephaly is the key in any ecumenical effort today!

Metropolitan Isidore returned to Kiev after the Council of Florence full of great ideas and on fire for unity, but he failed and the debacle of Florence becomes our history and something we should avoid in the 21st century!

I am also very happy, that as I was searching for a video or audio clip of the Patriarch's address to the synod during the Sistine Chapel vespers, I ran into this valuable site. Old Believer, we are the small people discussing unity of a 1000 year-old disunity! Imagine international ecumenical discussion on a parish church website in England!! We are cascading down to a parish level and I pray for more of this all over! Let's take a cue from Patriarch Bartholomew's speech in Rome this past weekend!! Thank you, Father Ray for this arena!!!

The return of relics and other looted treasures is important in any ecumenical action on both sides and this has been going on already!

We have to pray for Moscow to support anything ecumenical!!!

By the way where could I download an audio or video clip of the Patriarch's speech in Rome this past week?

Peace and guidance of the Spirit to all!!!

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