Archive for July, 2007

Dating the schism

I just happened across this very helpful tidbit written by our friend, Professor William J. Tighe, for the dearly lamented Pontifications. The context is a response to a passage from Louis Bouyer’s The Church of God (1982).

It is true that the date of 1054 is wholly “symbolic” (however important a symbol it later became) and without concrete importance in the process. Rome and Constantinople, it appears, had been in technical schism from one another since 1009, when Pope Sergius IV (1009-1012) may have sent, upon his election, a statement of faith including the filioque to Patriarch Sergius II (1000-1019) of Constantinople (Rome was to adopt the Creed with the filioque in 1014); however, it may be that Roman popes from 1009 onwards ceased to notify Constantinople of their election, which would account for the fact that the last Pope of Rome commemorated on the Constantinopolitan diptychs was John XVIII (1003-1009). While the events of 1054 certainly contributed to the alienation of the two sees from one another (as, more profoundly, did the shock of the sacking of Constantinople in 1204), it was far from being the date of the schism between “the East” and “the West,” and as late as the 1090s the Byzantine Emperor could inform the Latins who had reached Constantinople in the course of the First Crusade that it had been the negligence of past bishops of both Rome and Constantinople that had occasioned the alienation between them, and not differences of doctrine. As to the other Eastern Patriarchates, in Antioch there was open schism from 1100 onwards, in which year the Crusaders installed a Latin Patriarch and expelled the Byzantine one, and for the next two centuries, until the expulsion of the last Crusaders in 1291, two rival lines vied for the possession of the city’s churches and the allegiance of its clergy. In Jerusalem, the Turkish rulers had expelled the Greek patriarch in the 1070s, and although the Crusaders had agreed to restore the Byzantine patriarch when they captured Jerusalem, he died a few weeks before Jerusalem fell in July 1099. The Crusaders then elected a Latin patriarch, and a succession of Latin patriarchs seem to have been accepted by easterners and westerners alike for nearly a century, until Saladin reconquered Jerusalem for Islam in 1187. From 1099 onwards a series of Greek “Patriarchs of Jerusalem” continued at Constantinople, and it was to the Greek patriarch that Saladin gave control of the Jerusalem Church in 1188, and during the brief Latin reconquest of Jerusalem from 1229 to 1244 the two rival lines contended for the allegiance of the holy city’s churches and clergy. As for Alexandria, as late as 1215 its patriarch regarded himself as in communion with Rome, but this had evidently ceased by the close of the century; and Rome named a Latin “Patriarch of Alexandria” in 1310.

Up until the Council of Florence both the East and the West contained “rigorists” and “laxists” concerning the ecclesiastical status of the other, and while the papacy generally took a strict line in theory, holding that those who were not in the “communion and obedience” of the Apostolic See, in practice it took the line—certainly at Florence—that the division, whetever its precise nature and status, was within the Church. At Florence, or after it, all four Eastern patriarchs accepted the union that the council had achieved, and while the union appears to have been treated at Constantinople as broken from 1453 onwards, after the Turkish conquest, it was not until 1484 that all four patriarchs, either in person or through their representatives, meeting at Constantinople, formally repudiated Florence. So if there must be a date given for the schism, the best one is 1484—and this despite the fact that the Metropolitinate of Kiev appears to have succeeded in remaining in communion with Rome and Constantinople down to just before or after 1500.

So much for dating the schism. One had to add, though, that relations between Byzantines and Latins were very different in Slavic lands and in Greek/Arabic lands. In the former, Moscow’s prompt rejection of Florence in 1441 was followed-up by the anathematization of Latins as heretics and the requirement of rebaptism for all Latins wishing to enter Orthodoxy, and as Muscovite influence over Orthodoxy in neighboring Slavic lands grew over the succeeding 200 years (especially after then 1595 Union of Brest, which brought a substantial portion of the Kiev Metropolitanate back into union with Rome), this policy gradually became the norm. However, in the 1660s the Russians, under the influence of both Greek practice (the same meeting of patriarchs in 1484 that had repudiated the Council of Florence mandated the reception of Latin converts by chrismation) and, perhaps, Western sacramental teaching, abandoned the practice of rebaptism for chrismation only. However, the Constantinopolitan practice was itself about to change.

A watershed was passed in 1724 with the division of the Patriarchate of Antioch into two factions, one in favor of union with Rome, the other against. Ethnic rivalries were also involved in the dispute: by 1700 the Alexandrian and Antiochene patriarchates were both firmly under Greek control at a hierarchical level (the Alexandrian patriarchate, small in numbers, served some few ethnic Greek communities in Egypt, but the Jerusalem patriarchate, although exclusively Greek in its bishops, served a largely Arab laity, and most of its married clergy were Arabs as well), but in Antioch the patriarch (frequently) and the bishops (mostly) were Arabs. In the aftermath of the election of rival patriarchs in 1724, the Constantinople patriarchate managed to secure a decisive say in the choice of all three other eastern patriarchates, which amounted in the case of Antioch to a Greek take-over (it was not until 1878 that an Arab became patriarch again) , and while the first Melkite Catholic patriarch was quickly executed by the Turkish authorities, the end result was two Byzantine patriarchal lines in Antioch, one Catholic (in communion with Rome), the other Orthodox. This led to increasing hostility on both sides: in 1729 and again in 1753 Rome issued strict proscriptions banning any common worship or sacramental sharing between Catholics and Orthodox, and in 1755 the Orthodox Patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria and Jerusalem (but not Antioch, despite the bitterness of the disvision there), laid down that all Latin converts were to be received henceforth by rebaptism, not chrismation — a practice that Constantinople and Alexandria ceased to require in the 1960s, but which the Jerusalem patriarchate still maintains in its full rigor (as do various “Old Calendar” and “True Orthodox” Orthodox splinter groups) to this day.

One cannot pass over completely any mention of how, at times, and in some places, a theoretical rigorism coexisted with a practical laxity. Bishop Kallistos (Ware) has documented the degree of practical cooperation, and even sacramental sharing, that occurred in the Aegean region right down to the early 1700s in his article from the early 1970s “Orthodox and Catholics in the Seventeenth Century: Schism or Intercommunion” (Schism, Heresy and Religious Protest, ed. Derek Baker [Cambridge, 1972]) and similar examples could be provided from the Middle East in the same period.

(Thanks to Christopher at Orrologion for preserving the text of this article on his blog.)


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The latest issue of the Europaica Bulletin presents a number of interesting Orthodox reactions to the recent ecclesiological statement of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Both Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk (Moscow’s ecumenical representative) and Bishop Hilarion of Vienna (Moscow’s representative to the European institutions) are positive in their assessment of the document. They are 100% correct that this statement is “honest” and “brings nothing new” – that is, the document is truly indicative of the Catholic Church’s self-understanding. Of course, as Orthodox prelates committed to the exclusive ecclesiological claims of their own communion, they do not agree with Rome’s claims, and in fact they remark that “everything contained in the Catholic document rightfully applies to the Orthodox Church”! I welcome this fresh honesty from representatives of both sides. Just as Kirill and Hilarion do not fault Rome with being honest about her own claims, no one should fault the Orthodox for being honest about their claims.

And then there are some more cranky Orthodox responses to the document – responses that I don’t entirely understand, since, again, both communions are crystal clear about their exclusive ecclesiological claims. Patriarch Teoctist of Romania was “stunned” by the document, which he regards as “brutal.” The Patriarch’s claim that the document expresses the viewpoint that Rome “does not even recognize us as a church” is strange, since the document affirms the complete opposite. Coptic Pope Shenouda III’s response is even more bizarre, and as with the Romanian Patriarch, one wonders whether he actually read the document before ranting about it.

Archpriest Lawrence Cross’s comment is interesting to me. First of all, I have no idea if the Archpriest is an Orthodox or an Eastern Catholic [Update – He is a Greek Catholic]. Secondly, I very much disagree with the Archpriest characterization of the document as “an appalling ecumenical gaff” and “woefully ignorant.” Kirill and Hilarion, eminent representatives of the Russian Church, do not seem to think so, thinking the statement to be truly conducive to “honest theological dialogue” (that is, true and authentic ecumenism). Third, I am intrigued by the Archpriest’s description of the Orthodox position on papal primacy: “The Orthodox already acknowledge that the primacy in the universal Church was awarded to the successor of Peter in Rome.” Do any Orthodox here take issue with this statement? I simply do not find general agreement among Orthodox as to meaning or validity of the basic concepts of “primacy,” “universal Church” or a “successor of Peter in Rome.” Perhaps I’m mistaken. Fourth, it’s hard to see how the document is rooted in “rooted in an ultramontane past.” As Kirill and Hilarion point out, the Orthodox, who cannot be accused of an “ultramontane past,” make similar exclusive claims about themselves (and in fact, one could argue that the Orthodox claims are far more exclusive). And, lastly, I don’t read the document as “allowing” or granting ecclesial status to the Orthodox. It seems to me that Rome, through this document, is simply restating the fact that she has always recognized that the Orthodox churches are true local or particular churches (possessing priesthood, sacraments, and all the ordinary means of salvation), only in a tragic state of schism from the Apostolic See of Peter.

I wish I read German well enough to be able to interpret the comments by Cardinals Kasper and Schönborn.

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I just found an interesting online Ph.D. dissertation, An Analysis of Anglican Concepts of the Papal Magisterium from the First Through the Tenth Lambeth Conference, by Burns K. Seeley (St. Paul University, Ottawa, 1971). Seeley was an Anglican at the time he was writing his dissertation; at some point, he became a Roman Catholic and a priest.

Given that many Orthodox opposed to the papal claims rely on Anglican controversial literature from this period, and that some of the more pro-papal Anglican literature is used by Roman apologists, this dissertation should be very germane to the discussions which take place on this blog.

I admit that I am a bit disappointed, from a very cursory glance, that Seeley does not devote any space to a discussion of Dom Gregory Dix and his work on episcopal and papal jurisdiction. It is also unfortunate that the dissertation was written too early to discuss the 1998 statement “The Gift of Authority” (not that I think that agreements with contemporary Anglicans actually mean much at all).

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A very promising new blog has just come to my attention, entitled The Anastasis Dialog: Spiritual Ecumenism at Work. The blog is a ministry of Holy Resurrection Monastery, a wonderful men’s community living the fullness of the Byzantine monastic spirituality in full communion with the See of Old Rome. Of particular interest is the growing discussion on the recent Vatican statement on the nature of the Church.

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(OK, so I lied. One more thing before I go silent for a little while …)

Perry (“Acolyte”) from Energetic Procession has posted an excerpt from the acts of the Fifth Ecumenical Council, which he presents as a piece of counter-evidence to Catholic claims about the Papacy. Perry notes that he has not been able to find a Catholic treatment of this particular quote in the Catholic apologetical literature since the nineteenth century. From a cursory glance at the literature in my possession, I can confirm that while detailed pro-papal treatments on the Fifth Council do exist*, but I haven’t found a lengthy discussion of this particular excerpt. I invite my readers to post comments over at Energetic Procession. Hopefully, time permitting, I will post my own reflections on this excerpt in the near future.

* See, for instance, Chapter XII of S. Herbert Scott’s The Eastern Churches and the Papacy; or Chapter VIII of Dom John Chapman’s Studies on the Early Papacy.

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… as I said earlier, so I really need to buckle down and neglect the blog for a while. I will not be moderating comments either, so if you leave one, it will take a while to appear. Thanks!

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An interesting story from Kath.net:

According to well-informed circles in the Vatican, there will be a new document by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on a hot topic. It will deal with the self-conception of the Church and will supposedly be released July 10th. This document will state the unique character of the Catholic Church and that Protestant churches are not churches in the narrow sense. The topic will be the sentence “Ecclesia subsistit in Ecclesia catholica” (“The Church of Christ subsists in/is realized in the Catholic Church”) from the Vatican II document Lumen gentium.

More here.

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“I do not deny that there are differences between the Churches, but I say that we must change our way of approaching them. And the question of method is in the first place a psychological, or rather a spiritual problem. For centuries there have been conversations between theologians, and they have done nothing except to harden their positions.”

– Athenagoras I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople (1886-1972)

Also of interest:

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Rome and Cyprus

Papal Address to Orthodox Archbishop of Cyprus

Chrysostomos II’s Address to Benedict XVI

Common Declaration of Pope and Chrysostomos II

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The jig is up! Your host has been exposed in his dastardly attempt to suppress one article by a Jesuit scholar dealing with Eastern synodal traditions as they might apply to a reform of national episcopal conferences in the Roman Church. Surely I must have known that this one article has within it the power to raze the entire papal edifice to the ground! Congrats to the internet sleuths for blowing the lid off right off this scandal.

No, to be serious, admittedly, I had not read the article when I found the article by Brian Daley, S.J. from the same collection. You can chalk it up to simple oversight on my part, or to a more sinister motive. Whatever. Now that I have read it, I find it to be quite informative and interesting. But I fail to see how it constitutes a “hostile witness” to the ecclesiological viewpoint that I have been exploring here. I am entirely open and receptive to what Father Fahey has to say here. While I am coming to appreciate the Petrine Office at Rome as an essential part of the life of the Church on earth, I have stated many times on this blog that I do not defend some of the problematic ways in which this Office has been exercised over the centuries (for instance, I can’t imagine why it’s a good idea for the Pope to personally appoint all the bishops of the world). And in saying this, I don’t think that I’m outside of the orthodox Catholic mainstream.

UPDATE – As one reader has pointed out to me privately, I am probably being over-sensitive here. Apologies if I have offended with my sarcastic response (I claim neither infallibility nor impeccability, though I do admit my primacy as the chief of sinners). My impression, hopefully mistaken, is that I am being accused of purposely ignoring the article in question (in other words, a suppressio veri). I do not pretend, nor have I ever pretended, that this blog is neutral. It is an exploration of the theological and historical claims of the Papacy. I currently lean strongly towards the veracity of these claims (as anyone who reads this blog can obviously tell), but I always give equal time to commenters who disagree and are willing to express their viewpoint intelligently and respectfully. I would be very happy for Acolyte at EP to comment here on the specific points of the article which he finds to be detrimental to the Catholic understanding of the Petrine ministry.

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