Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bishop Hilarion: "Patriarch of Constantinople is not Pope of the East"

Everybody's favourite Russian bishop on the primacy of the Patriarch of Constantinople in the Eastern Church (emphasis mine):

"...the Orthodox Church has a structure different was that of the Catholic Church, as we have no single universal primate, since each local Church is headed by its own primate. In other words, in universal Orthodoxy there is no hierarch whose role would be similar to that of the Pope of Rome in the Western Church. There must be no illusion that there is such a hierarch. We respect the Patriarch of Constantinople as the first in honour among the primates of local Orthodox Churches, but we are against regarding him as 'Pope of the East'."

... and how far the Russian Church is ready to discuss the primacy of the Pope of Rome at the next round of Orthodox-Catholic theological dialogue in October at Ravenna:

"There can be no compromises whatsoever in this matter. The aim of the theological dialogue is not at all to reach a compromise. Its aim for us is rather to identify the Church’s original view of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. It is the starting point from which to proceed, namely, what place the Bishop of Rome occupied in the early undivided Church.

Historically, the primacy of the Bishop of Rome in the Christian Church, from our point of view, was that of honour, not jurisdiction. That is to say, the jurisdiction of the Pope of Rome was never applied to all the Churches. In the second millennium, the Pope of Rome has become de facto 'the Patriarch of the West', with this title reserved for him also de jure until recent times, whereas in the East the Church was headed by four patriarchs of local Orthodox Churches - those of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem.

After the breakup with Rome, primacy in the family of the Orthodox Churches shifted automatically as it were to Constantinople, though all the early canons ascribe to the Bishop of Constantinople the second place after the Bishop of Rome; no canon speaks of the primacy of Constantinople. Nevertheless, this primacy became an accomplished fact, only we consider it exclusively as primacy of honour, while the See of Constantinople itself tends occasionally to give a broad interpretation to this primacy. These are the questions I believe around which principal problems will emerge."


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Sun Jun 10, 09:51:00 am 2007  

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