An age-long anti-Roman prejudice has led some Orthodox canonists simply to deny the existence of [a universal] primacy in the past or the need for it in the present. But an objective study of the canonical tradition cannot fail to establish beyond any doubt that, along with local “centers of agreement” or primacies, the Church has also known a universal primacy . . .
It is impossible to deny that, even before the appearance of local primacies, the Church from the first days of her existence possessed an ecumenical center of unity and agreement. In the apostolic and the Judaeo-Christian period, it was the Church of Jerusalem, and later the Church of Rome – “presiding in agape,” according to St. Ignatius of Antioch. This formula and the definition of the universal primacy contained in it have been aptly analyzed by Fr Afanassieff and we need not repeat his argument here. Neither can we quote here all the testimonies of the Fathers and the Councils unanimously acknowledging Rome as the senior church and the center of ecumenical agreement.
It is only for the sake of biased polemics that one can ignore these testimonies, their consensus and significance. It has happened, however, that if Roman historians and theologians have always interpreted this evidence in juridical terms, thus falsifying its real meaning, their Orthodox opponents have systematically belittled the evidence itself. Orthodox theology is still awaiting a truly Orthodox evaluation of universal primacy in the first millennium of church history – an evaluation free from polemical or apologetic exaggerations.
From The Primacy of Peter: Essays in Ecclesiology and the Early Church, John Meyendorff, ed., pp. 163-164 (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1992)