Talk:Prerogatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate

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To-do list

  • Incorporate specific citations from the Maximos of Sardis work on the EP's viewpoint
  • Incorporate commentary from Abp. Peter of New York's Church of the Ancient Councils
  • Others...?

Fr. Andrew talk contribs 12:18, March 30, 2007 (PDT)

Nature of primacy

Article said: "Fundamentally, the difference in opinion is based in a different conception of universal Church governance. a) Either each autocephalous church is to be regarded as absolutely sovereign in its sphere, unanswerable to any others, or b) there is a mutual interdependence of the churches and patriarchs upon one another, and this interdependence is expressed in the primatial leadership of the Ecumenical Patriarch"

Why don't have option (c): there is a mutual interdependence of the churches and patriarchs upon one another, and this interdependence doesn't require the primatial leadership of any Patriarch

Probably because, firstly, option (c) is not represented by any sides listed in the article; and secondly, the practical difference between the proposed option (c) and option (a) is negligible - much of the same arguments for multiple jurisdictions could also be used (spiritually interdependant). Of course, a lot of these depend on how one defines "unanswerable", "interdependence" and "primatial leadership", which is possibly part of the problem... — edited by sτévο at 00:57, June 10, 2006 (CDT)

Probably I should read the article more carefully, but does anyone actually teach (a)? It seems that the questions are much more about the character of primacy, what it should look like (and perhaps who should exercise it and how it should be exercised), rather than whether there is any legitimate primacy at all. (a) seems completely untenable from the perspective of ancient canon law, no? — FrJohn (talk)

But from the perspective of the "Third Rome" doctrine, it is tenable. The ecumenical canons of course do not address the newer patriarchates, since they didn't exist at the time. I do agree that it's about the character of primacy, essentially whether it is purely honorific, or whether there is any authority attached to it. Additionally, I have read the view that regards Constantinople's primacy as purely politically based, and so now forfeit.
In any event, it was the claim of Moscow that every autocephalous church has the right to grant autocephaly to one of its constituent parts when it granted the OCA autocephaly in 1970. This very much goes to the heart of the question of Constantinople's primacy, because its response was that only the whole Church, whose voice is expressed by Constantinople in such matters, may make such a grant.
All that aside, though, the article's got a long way to go! —Dcn. Andrew talk random contribs 16:29, June 10, 2006 (CDT)
Sure. Just for the record, I don't think anyone would (or should) say primacy is "purely honorific." That would be a false interpretation of the canons arrived at by a false polemic against the RC church. A primacy of honor implies some rights, privileges, and powers. It seems to me that the dispute, particularly between Moscow and Constantinople, is over the character and specific rights/privileges of this primacy. Maybe there is even a dispute over Constantinople's exercise of primacy, since the canons (alongside a respect for tradition, which is why Rome was kept in first place after the capitol was moved) also work according to a principle of accomodation. I.e. the reason Rome held primacy in the first place was not simply because of the Holy martyrs there or because of some doctrine of Petrine succession, but because it was the seat of the empire. Similarly, Constantinople surpassed all the other ancient sees (excepting Rome) in honor when it became the capitol. An argument may be made today that Constantinople can no longer fulfill this primacy becuase of the restrictions placed on it by the government of Turkey, and that it would be better located elsewhere. (On the other hand, respect for the ancient prerogatives of the see and a concern for the stability of the churches might dictate that it not be moved, or if it be moved, it remains "with Constantinople" so to speak, e.g. in Geneva.) I'm not making that argument - just trying to delineate where I think the fault lines might actually be. That's all IMHO, of course. — FrJohn (talk)

Going outside one's diocese

Constantinople I, Canon 2 reads: "The bishops are not to go beyond their dioceses to churches lying outside of their bounds, nor bring confusion on the churches; but let the Bishop of Alexandria, according to the canons, alone administer the affairs of Egypt; and let the bishops of the East manage the East alone, the privileges of the Church in Antioch, which are mentioned in the canons of Nice, being preserved; and let the bishops of the Asian Diocese administer the Asian affairs only; and the Pontic bishops only Pontic matters; and the Thracian bishops only Thracian affairs. And let not bishops go beyond their dioceses for ordination or any other ecclesiastical ministrations, unless they be invited. And the aforesaid canon concerning dioceses being observed, it is evident that the 177synod of every province will administer the affairs of that particular province as was decreed at Nice. But the Churches of God in heathen nations must be governed according to the custom which has prevailed from the times of the Fathers."[1]

Antioch, Canon 22 reads: "Let not a bishop go to a strange city, which is not subject to himself, nor into a district which does not belong to him, either to ordain any one, or to appoint presbyters or deacons to places within the jurisdiction of another bishop, unless with the consent of the proper bishop of the place. And if any one shall presume to do any such thing, the ordination shall be void, and he himself shall be punished by the synod."[2]

This is certainly a matter of interpretation, but based on the above, I have to disagree with Fr. John Whiteford's recent removals. It would at least seem that a bishop's authority is limited to his diocese. There is no clear prescription in the canons for acting outside one's geographic boundaries (which includes ordination). Indeed, the only thing one finds is prohibition of acting outside one's diocese.

Otherwise, it would mean that every bishop really has two jurisdictions: his diocese and the entire world not currently claimed by anyone else. Surely such chaos could not be the intention of the canons.

Anyway, I'm open to correction by those more learned than I. —Fr. Andrew talk contribs (THINK!) 16:42, August 10, 2008 (UTC)

A closer reading combined with the interpretion given by the Church makes it clear that these canons do not apply to "Barbarian lands" the prohibition about a bishop not going outside his own diocese. The language always speaks of causing disorder in another Church... something that would not apply to a place without one. And more importantly, here's what St. Nicodemos says about the last part of Canon 2 of the 2nd Ecumenical Council (1st Constantinople):
"As for the churches of God that are situated in the midst of barbarian nations, where there either were not enough bishops to make up a synod, or it was necessary for some scholarly bishop to go there in order to bolster up the Christians in their faith.These churches, I say, ought to be managed in accordance with the prevailing custom of the Fathers. To be more explicit, neighboring and abler bishops ought to go to them, in order to supply what is missing for a local synod. Which, though contrary to Canons, yet as a matter of necessity was allowed by the Council." The Rudder, P. 210.
And so, for example, it was obviously up to the Russian Church to establish dioceses in China, Japan, and Alaska, because they were the Church nearest, and had the inclination and ability to do it. Constantinople has generally not been in a position to do real missionary work since the fall of Constantinople. Frjohnwhiteford 00:38, August 11, 2008 (UTC)