Here’s an interesting interview (in Italian) with His Holiness, Alexis II, the Patriarch of Moscow, who is enthusiastic about the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. (Translation of relevant bits and commentary by Father Zuhlsdorf).
Archive for August, 2007
The position taken by Constantine in regard to Rome was largely fostered by the powerful Roman ideology that had been transferred to Constantinople, the ‘New Rome.’ The politico-religious thought of the Emperors and the people was to be affected first; the canonico-theological thought of the Patriarchs and clergy was to be affected later.
The idea of Constantinople as the New Rome was not that of Constantine himself, but it devolved from his action, and the transference of all the taxis of ancient Rome to Byzantium. This theme has been treated in many publications. Along with the immense prestige of Rome, there was in Byzantium the consciousness of continuing the Roman Empire; this, too, has often been emphasized by the commentators; (Romaios = Byzantine). It was inevitable, especially in the actual and ideological framework of a Church of Empire, that the idea of Constantinople as New Rome should entail ecclesiological and canonical consequences, the very ones that are generally and quite simply classed under the heading “ambition of the Patriarchs of Constantinople.” We will return to this later in our comments. If there had been a transfer of Empire, it was reasoned, there had consequently also been a transfer of ecclesiological primacy.
Father Maximos, a Greek Catholic monk at the Anastasis Dialog, comments on the latest complaint of the Patriarch of Moscow against “Uniates.” And from the combox, an interesting quote by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia from 2004:
I very much regret that because of this question the Catholic-Orthodox International Dialogue seems to be making very little progress. My own feeling as an Orthodox is that the Eastern Catholic Churches have a right to exist. And I add, we Orthodox need to ask pardon for the way we have often treated Eastern Catholics in the past. And, not only that, I would add that we Orthodox should see the Eastern Catholics as our best friends in the Catholic Church. Who are best able to understand us. So while I value very must my relations with the Eastern Catholics, I definitely don’t see them as being my “bottom line” (referencing discussion topic’s title). They are rather my “top line.”
The persistent theme of the Popes’ opposition to the Basileus and the Patriarch of Constantinople was their refusal to accept the idea that any exercise of juridical power on the part of the Church in the Empire derived from some political or imperial statute. They insisted, in these cases, that it flowed from an Apostolic law, one properly ecclesiastical, particularly in the case of supreme authority in the Universal Church, which it is the divine prerogative of Rome to exercise. The crisis, a veritably endemic one after Nicaea, was to become decidedly acute when Rome, politically emancipated from the Empire, could more independently assert the right to regulate the canonical life of the Universal Church without appeal. In this respect, all the events which were to render the Church more effectively independent of Constantinople and the Basileus were to have their ecclesiological and canonical repercussions. Among these events were: the conversion of the barbarian kings and peoples upon whom the Church depended in the West (a fact that was resented in Constantinople, as was clearly noticeable at the end of the Sixth Century); the emergence of Pepin the Short and Charlemagne; the Donatio Constantini, to which we will refer later on; and the establishment of the Normans in the southern part of Italy to direct injury of Constantinople, a step which provided the context for the affair of Michael Cerularius.
The division of the Roman Empire into two parts was perhaps inevitable for there had been the Tetrarchy of Diocletian in 292. However, the split that is here under study, the seed of which was indisputably planted by Constantine, finally had an effect on the Church itself. For this reason it is important that we understand the cause and the consequences of this act of Constantine, of creating a new capital in Byzantium.
The cause is not to be found merely in the fact of a new capital in Byzantium, in the early years of the Fourth Century, but in the vast complex of ideas and practices which linked the essential realities of the Empire with the essential realities of the Church: an identification of the center of the Church with the center of the Empire, a joining of the highest ecclesiastical reality of the Church to the highest civil reality of the Empire, which united the whole life of the Church to the Emperor and to his authority. It was a concept of a Church within the framework of the Empire, to become as it were, the Church of the Empire, much more than a mere parallel existence of the two powers, or, as they would say in the East, a “symphony.” Such is the Christian interpretation, according to which the best men of the Church, especially the popes, try to line up the facts. Such has been, and still is, the Christian ideal. But Constantine achieved something else and he has transmitted it through many centuries to the Christian world, something else and more. It consists of some very extensive elements of the pagan system giving the Emperor the quality of Sovereign in religious matters as well as in civil affairs. The separation of powers was unknown in antiquity, but it became an acquisition characteristic of the Middle Ages, especially in the West, through the action of the papacy. The intentions of Constantine are not in question: the Oriental Church canonized him; there can be absolutely no doubt about his religious sincerity and his Christian faith. But it still is the old pagan system which became Christian only in the person of the Emperor, and which was transferred in large part to the shores of the Bosphorus …