Archive for June, 2007

Orthodox and Catholic Christians are united today in their celebration of the feast day of the Coryphaei of the Apostolic band, Saints Peter and Paul.

Both Orthodox and Catholics (regardless of rite), likewise, will surely be edified by praying this beautiful Akathist service to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul (from the website Ss. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church, Lorain, Ohio, Orthodox Church in America, Diocese of the Midwest).

O holy Peter, chief of the apostles, rock of faith steadfast in thy confession, foundation of the Church immovable in Christ, pastor of the rational flock of Christ, keeper of the keys to the kingdom of heaven, fisherman most wise who from the depths of unbelief dost draw forth men! Thee do I humbly entreat, that the net of thy divine draught encompass me and draw me forth from the abyss of perdition. I know that thou has received from God the authority to loose and to bind; release me who am bound fast with bonds of sin, show forth thy mercy on me, wretch that I am, and give life to my soul which hath been slain by sins, as before thou didst raise up Tabitha from the dead; restore me to the good path, as before thou didst restore the lame man at the Beautiful Gates, who had been lame fro his mother’s womb; and as thou didst heal all the infirm by thy shadow, may the grace given thou canst do all things, O holy one, through the power of Christ, for Whose sake thou didst forsake all to follow in His steps. Wherefore, pray thou to Him in my behalf, wretch that I am, that by thy supplications He may deliver me from all evil and teach me with a pure heart to send up glory to the Father, and to the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O holy Paul, eminent among the Apostles, chosen vessel of Christ, recounter of heavenly mysteries, teacher of all the nations, clarion of the Church, renowned orator, who didst endure many misfortunes for the name of Christ, who didst traverse the sea and didst go about the land, and dist convert us from the deception of idolatry! Thee do I entreat and to thee do I cry; disdain me not, defiled as I am, but raise me up who have fallen through sinful sloth, as in Lystra thou didst raise up the man who had been lame from his mother’s womb; and as thou didst give life unto Euthyches who lay dead, so also raise me up from my dead works; and as at thine entreaty the foundation f the prison once quaked and thou didst loose the bonds of the prisoners, so draw me out of the snare of the enemy, and strengthen me to do the will of God. For thou canst do all things by the authority given thee by God, to Whom is due all glory, honor and worship, with His unoriginate Father and His all-holy, good and life-creating Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.


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From the blog FideCogitActio comes an Eastern Papal Florilegium. Florilegia, of course, have the clear drawback of presenting quotes apart from their literary and historical contexts; on the other hand, it is a handy little reference.

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I’ve been nominated …

… for excommunication and anathema as an “Orthodox heretic looking to join the Roman heretics” by the SSLI, the Society of Saint Leo I, which, as far as I can tell, stands somewhere between the SSPI (the Society of Saint Pius I) and the SSPV (the Society of Saint Pius V*). The SSLI looks like a very solid organization, “defending the One, Truly True Church against the Liberal and Modernist Heretics that have invaded Rome since 461 A.D.”

No word yet on my status with The One and Only, Genuinely Holy, Really, Really True, Authentically Genuine, Orthodox, Greco-Russian, Apostolic, Catholic Church of the Upper Cumberlands — Baxter Patriarchate, Inc. (OOGHRRTAGOGRACCUC-BP).

* Sadly, the SSPV is a real sedevacantist organization.

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A thought-provoking comment from our friend Father Patrick:

The universal jurisdiction of Rome for appeals I believe is one of the core aspects of its Petrine role in the Church. I would expect to see appeals to Rome from all over the Church, West and East. This should not be very common though because most matters would be dealt within Metropolitan jurisdictions but the right of appeal to Rome remains open for difficult cases. This seems to fit the evidence from the early Church. Once Constantinople becomes established in the East and shares in Rome’s prerogatives then naturally appeals from Eastern Churches would be heard in New Rome rather than the more distant Old Rome, thus seeing a decline in Eastern cases in the West. However, the West still holds the preeminence in manifesting the unity of the Church, and in appeals, and it is not surprising to see in some issues that Rome is appealed to from the East.

All this evidence does not though prove that Rome had any ordinary jurisdiction within Bishoprics or Metropolises. Thus, the Pope could not appoint Bishops directly of right in Eastern Metropolises or even Priests in another Diocese, although he may send appropriate candidates in case of a dispute that was appealed to Rome. Even in the West, I don’t think he had any internal jurisdiction as such. Is there evidence of this other than as a result of an appeal? Could he by right enter another Metropolis and consecrate a Bishop, especially unilaterally without at least the consent of the other Bishops, as the Metropolitan would need? Could he ordain a Priest in another diocese without the consent of the governing Bishop? These are areas where Orthodox ecclesiology could diverge from Roman Catholic ecclesiology, if the Pope could do these things by right outside the context of his appellate jurisdiction.

On this thread, it would seem that it is entirely appropriate to see St Peter as the Prince of Apostles and speak of him alone in this matter, and of course speak of Petrine Sees rather than Petrine and Pauline Sees. This would reflect that the unity of the Church can be manifest in one See. However, this does not limit St Paul from having the same Princedom and authority as St Peter, also as Prince of the Apostles and Apostle to the Gentiles. He was also present in Antioch and Rome, and St Mark also worked as his disciple, so he is also connected with the Traditional Petrine Sees. He is not named as the one Prince as is St Peter to recognise that the Church is one but he is celebrated with St Peter as being equal with him. This fits with an Orthodox understanding of Roman Primacy that can at once recognises the special place of Rome as the head of the Churches without excluding Constantinople from sharing the same rights etc. This is reflected in the Canons regarding Constantinople.

I think that more evidence still needs to come forward that Old Rome has a jurisdiction that New Rome cannot have equally and show the Canons regarding New Rome to have been false or at least to be assuming something that they did not make explicit, which would be strange when they were giving equal privileges not to be careful to ensure this was not open to obvious misinterpretation if they did to really mean this. Perhaps someone has a good argument on this matter. This would also carry a fundamental split in ecclesiology between East and West right back to the second Ecumenical Council. Certainly some of St Leo’s criticisms of Canon 28 may support this and it was not obviously healed before 1054 (as a symbolic date in the rift.) From what I can see the Eastern Churches don’t seem to have understood the present Papal claims from early on and it wasn’t a matter of a sudden rejection of Tradition in the Schism but something that was never understood as part of the Tradition. I am less sure of the Western thinking in these times but equally the sense of maintaining the Tradition rather than a recent, reasoned innovation could have been in their minds at the Schism.

Is the rise of Constantinople a fundamental error of ecclesiology or is it the proof that later Papal claims over extended themselves? Is St Paul’s sudden rise to Prince of the Apostles a fundamental error or a demonstration of both the singularity of St Peter’s position and also that another could share in this thus showing its symbolic value is one but its power is not exclusive?

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This is a sad day. Father Al Kimel has announced that Pontifications has closed. What’s worse is that the archived posts of the old Pontifications seem to have been lost forever (although there may be a way to find at least some of them archived somewhere; see here). I’m not happy about this, but I certainly understand where Father is coming from. I would like to thank Father Kimel for his many inspiring and informative posts over the years!

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Irenaeus, over at CatholiDoxies, has a post about Vladimir Soloviev’s classic Russia and the Universal Church (currently in print only in an abridged English edition, under the title The Russian Church and the Papacy). I too have read through the abridged work, and I have mixed feelings about it.

On the negative side, those who know a bit about Soloviev’s philosophical background will be justly wary of the strange ideas which underlie his ecclesiological and ecumenical thought. I am very nervous about Soloviev’s sophiology and his ideal of world “all-unity”, which of course informs his idea of the “Universal Church” and the Papacy as a “universal fatherhood” for all mankind. Personally, I think that both Orthodox and Catholics would be right to be a bit nervous about these esoteric and utopian concepts.

On the other hand, Soloviev was undoubtedly a genius, and I think that he makes some very good points that Orthodox should not simply reject out of hand. If a solid Orthodox theologian like Florovsky can praise Soloviev for his passion for Christian unity and call his contribution to the solution of this problem “momentous”, I would hope that more Orthodox would seek to engage with Soloviev’s thought seriously. His identification of the disasterous effects of imperial interference in the Eastern Church, while in many ways exaggerated, nevertheless do seem to have solid basis in the history of both Byzantium and Russia; and I think that one can still discern the negative effects of this today even where Orthodoxy is not subject to imperial autocracy. One scholar has summarized Soloviev’s criticism of Byzantine religious particularism thus:

The root of Byzantine exclusiveness was its ahistorical religiosity, which attempted to protect the mystical contemplation of Truth, but which did not call for its realization in history. In the Byzantine experience, Soloviev maintained, the perfection of the Church was linked to a past historical era and to a specific geographical place, causing eastern Christians to lose the sense of the universal character of the Church, a universality which needs to be realized in the history of all nations and throughout the world. In reaction to what he perceived as Byzantine particularism and exclusivity, Soloviev sought for a more universal expression of the Christian Church … Soloviev emphasized the “catholic,” or “universal” character of the Church, as contrasted with self-affirmation, exclusivism and arbitrary human willfulness. “Universality” versus “particularism”: this was to become the heart and core of Soloviev’s ecclesiological concern and was to guide the development of his thinking. (Chrysostom Frank, “The Problem of Church Unity in the Life and Thought of Vladimir Soloviev,” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly, 36:3, 1992).

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The final witness to the mind of the early church, and thence to the mind of Christ, is the liturgy. Being the official prayer of the church, it is a testimony to the belief not of individuals but of the whole community. Needless to say, the liturgical feasts do not all date back as far as the fathers, but they compensate in official status for what they lose in antiquity. Above all the liturgy represents the mentality of the church prior to the schism between East and West, and it was too firmly established to be changed after the separation.

It would be superfluous to search for testimonies to St. Peter in the liturgy of the Western Church. Even the most superficial knowledge of the matter shows that the Western liturgy is in full accord with the tradition of St. Peter’s authority over the whole church. What is frequently overlooked, though, is the strength of this attitude in the Eastern liturgy. A pro-Petrine liturgy is to be found as far afield as among the Jacobites of India, and the Greeks and Russians honour him as head of the Apostles even at the present day.

In the liturgy of the Greeks and Russians the feast of SS. Peter and Paul is observed on June 29th. To give solemnity to the occasion, it is preceded by a period of fasting, similar to Lent, which begins on the first Sunday after Pentecost. The hymn of the dawn office contains the following verse:

“Thou art rightly called the rock,
In whom the Lord consolidated the unshaken faith of the Church,
The Lord appointed thee as prince and shepherd of the rational sheep,
So that thou mightest admit all those who approach in faith.”

The Book of Homilies assigns to this feast of the sermons of St. John Chrysostom, in the course of which St. Peter is addressed as “Leader and Commander, supreme pastor of the Apostles.”

These are not random examples. The tone of the whole liturgy is consistent in this matter. Many other feasts could be referred to but the feast of the Dormition of the Virgin is the most deserving of mention. For this feast, the Book of Homilies contains a sermon of John of Thessalonika, who died iin about the year 630. He describes the death-bed scene of the Blessed Virgin, and tells how she wished to give to St. John the palm branch which the Angel Gabriel had presented to her on the occasion of the Annunciation. St. John is unwilling and says: “I cannot accept it without the other apostles while they are not here, in case there should be a quarrel among us, for among us there is one senior to me who has been set in charge of us.” The identity of the senior Apostle is soon disclosed. When all are assembled St. Peter is unwilling to be the first to pray, but the others persuade him with the words: “Father Peter: thou hast been set in charge of us, do thou pray before us.” When the actual funeral ceremonies are taking place Peter turns to John and says: “You are a virgin, and you must chant the hymns at the bedside, holding the palm.” To this John replies: “You are our father and supervisor, it is for you to stand at the bedside chanting, while we give place to you.”

These brief extracts are typical of the attitude of the Eastern and Western liturgies to St. Peter and are all the more significant in the East since they represent the pre-schismatical tradition.

– Michael M. Winter, Saint Peter and the Popes
(Baltimore: Helicon Press, 1960), pp. 79-81.

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… remember that the blog owner reserves the right to edit or delete comments, or else to shut down discussion altogether. I try my best to be fair to all, whatever your viewpoint. Sometimes drastic measures need to be taken to get discussion back on track, especially when the comboxes appear to be generating more heat than light. And if you have been wronged by your blog host, remember that he is the chief of sinners, and pray for him, if nothing else.

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Just in time for the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul (June 29), I was delighted to find online the full text of two classic studies on the discovery of the tomb of the Apostle Peter in Rome:

The entire host site, in fact, is well worth careful perusal.

Ignatius Press recently printed another interesting little study by Margherita Guarducci, The Primacy of the Church of Rome: Documents, Reflections, Proofs, which covers not only the standard pieces of evidence from early Christian history and literature, but also a number of other interesting signs of the preeminence of the Roman Church – for instance, the oldest Christian basilica (St. John Lateran), the oldest Christian icons (of Christ and Mary), the oldest Christian statue (of St. Peter), and of course the relics of Peter buried under his Basilica on the Vatican Hill.

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I had planned on writing a long post on what one scholar of the Papacy, Michael Winter (following Pierre Batiffol), calls the three distinct “zones” of papal power and influence in the ancient Church: Metropolitan Italy, the Western Empire, and the Eastern Empire. But then I found this admirable summary by the patristic scholar, Brian Daley, SJ, posted online in an article called “Structures of Charity: Bishops’ Gatherings and the See of Rome in the Early Church.” And being the lazy (and often very busy) blogger that I am, I thought I would present the pertinent portion of Father Daley’s essay here for discussion.

The exercise of pastoral care and jurisdiction–in however wide or narrow a sense both words are taken–by the bishops of Rome developed rapidly in the two centuries that followed the peace of Constantine. Again, I can hardly do more here than sketch out some of the major lines of that development, as it is related to the growing understanding of the relationship between the popes and local councils in those centuries. However, the readiness of the popes of this period to act outside the local church of Rome, and the self-understanding with which they acted, varied noticeably with regard to the different parts of the Christian world. Language, historical connections between various churches, and the varying acceptance of a Christian imperial ideology in East and West conspired together to introduce variety in the way Roman ecclesiastical leadership was understood and exercised in different parts of the post-Constantinian Empire. One can distinguish at least three “spheres” in which differing degrees of papal influence were exercised: Italy and the adjoining islands, other parts of the Latin-speaking West, and the Eastern churches.


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