19 March 2013

Ecumenical Patriarch

Having Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I at Pope Francis' Inaugural Mass is a very significant event; however, I have a bit of a problem with the language used in the media. You often hear that Constantinople split from Rome in 1054, but really, Constantinople and Rome split from each other. Equal blame should be placed on both of them. We should also keep in mind that unity was achieved, at least on paper (actually, they didn't use paper until Gutenberg came along because they considered it a Muslim invention), with the Council of Florence in the middle of the 15th century, which led to the Uniate Churches in the 16th century.

I don't really like the title Ecumenical Patriarch, but I guess we have to make some concessions with the goal of unity in mind; after all, this is why Sviatoslav Shevchuk has the title Major Archbishop and not Patriarch. It was John IV of Constantinople (582-595) that may have been the first to use the title Ecumenical Patriarch; at least, it was the first time the the pope (Pelagius II) became aware that this title was being used. Pelagius protested against the novelty of this title and forbade his legate at Constantinople from communicating with John.

Gregory the Great succeeded Pelagius II and was friendly towards Constantinople even though he personally only believed in the idea of the three original patriarchates, not the officially accepted five that included Constantinople. Thus, he didn't like calling the Archbishop of Constantinople Patriarch, let alone Ecumenical Patriarch, which he would refuse.

The problem is that the only patriarch that the term Ecumenical can really be applied to is the Patriarch of Rome. The reason Constantinople became a patriarchate in the first place is because the Emperor Constantine made Byzantium the "New Rome" and wanted the bishop of his new city to be second only, if not almost equal, to the Bishop of "Old" Rome. The Council of Constantinople in 381 acknowledged this, but the popes refused to confirm this canon. It was not until the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 (this is the one the St. Francis was likely at) that Constantinople was given second place after Rome.

To my knowledge, the See of Rome has never officially acknowledged the title Ecumenical Patriarch for the See of Constantinople (if I'm wrong, please let me know). To make matters even more confusing, Pope Benedict XVI renounced the title Patriarch of the West. This may have seemed like a good step forward in ecumenical dialogue, but now, some Orthodox have no way to relate to the Pope of Rome. Of course, the title Patriarch of the West was not used until the 6th century, but Rome was one of the original three patriarchates along with Alexandria and Antioch, all three of which are Petrine episcopal sees.

The original three patriarchates were all founded directly or indirectly by the first pope, St. Peter (Alexandria was founded by Peter's disciple St. Mark). The See of Constantinople was most likely not founded by St. Andrew, who may have never have even been to the city of Byzantium, but by the Emperor Constantine in the 4th century. This is generally not talked about much so as not to hurt anyone's feelings, but I think it would be better to put all the effort possible into unity while remaining honest about history.

CNS got Sviatoslav Shevchuk's title wrong at first. It should be Major Archbishop, which they did get right later on in the video, but it looks like they were copying from another text. There is a very big difference between a Major Archbishop and an Archbishop. An example of one difference is this: If an Archbishop were to ordain one or more new bishops without papal permission, he and the newly ordain bishops would incur automatic excommunication (think of the SSPX and what's been going on in China). However, when Josyf Slipyj became the first Major Archbishop, he did just that by ordaining three new bishops without papal permission. One of those bishops was Lubomyr Husar, who went on to succeeded Slipyj after Slipyj's immediate successor, Myroslav Lubachivsky, and was himself succeeded by the present Major Archbishop, Sviatoslav Shevchuk.

This is Bartholomew I and Benedict XVI reciting the Creed in Greek. Obviously, the Filióque was omitted. The Filióque is Latin, not Greek, and trying to translate it into Greek was one of the problems that led to 1054. I used to think that the Roman Church should just drop the Filióque althoghther, but I've since changed my mind. The Filióque does not present any heretical implication, as long as you don't translate it into some languages like Greek, and if we dropped it, it would create a real problem with a great deal of music. I love Credo III. There's an English version in the 3rd Edition of the Roman Missal as is much more chant.

Orientale Lumen XVII
Orientale Lumen XVII
Vision of a Reunited Church
Washington, DC
June 17-20, 2013