Gregory II of Constantinople
His All-Holiness Gregory II Cyprus (Greek: Γρηγόριος ο Κύπριος) was the Patriarch of Constantinople from 1283 to 1289. He was a staunch opponent of the use of the filioque addition by the Roman Catholic Church to the Nicene creed.
Gregory was born in 1241 into a middle class family that was of noble origin. At birth he was given the name George. The family lived on Cyprus during the time of the Frankish occupation of the island. On Latin occupied Cyprus, Gregory found the level of gaining an education among the Greeks limited, so he became a student in a Latin school. As he had difficulty learning Latin, the knowledge he gained of grammar and Aristotle's Logic was limited. He had to look elsewhere for the education he wanted.
His quest for a good education in rhectorics carried him to the mainland, to Ephesus in Asia Minor, then to Nicea, and finally to Constantinople to study under George Acropolites. In 1261, the Latin forces occupying Constantinople were ejected from the city, and the court then returned. Gregory joined the intellectual life of the city and became a teacher and a participant in the Paleologian renaissance. Among his students was Nikephoros Chumnos.
In 1283, Gregory was chosen Patriarch of Constantinople. Occupying the patriarchal see, he inherited the political and religious problems that had grown through the Latin occupation and the unionist Council of Lyon of 1274. The issues that arose from the aggressive attempts for union with Rome by Emperor Michael VIII and Patr. John XI Beccus became entangled with the controversy over the ‘’filioque’‘.
In the Spring of 1285, Gregory called the Synod of Blachernae to resolve the dispute between the followers of Arsenius and Josephus II concerning their unionists positions and the filioque. During the synod, Gregory presented his position on the filioque in his Tome opposing John XI’s theological innovation. In his Tome, Gregory presented not just a repeat of the formulations of Photius and Athanasius, but a reasoned theological contribution that worked out the implications of writings of the Cappadocian Fathers and John of Damascus on the procession of the Holy Spirit.
Patr. Gregory’s contemporaries did not see the impact of his insightful words. These words became the forerunner of fourteenth century Palamite Theology. While his contemporaries generally accepted his orthodoxy, they pressured him to resign, which he did in 1289. That he did resign and not continue to press the issue is evidence of his pastoral sensitivity to the importance of healing of the political divisions that were tearing the church during his lifetime.
Patr. Gregory II is noted for his many published works and his autobiography. He reposed in 1290.
Gregory II of Constantinople
John XI Bekkos
|Patriarch of Constantinople