Saturday, January 12, 2013

What do the Orthodox officially think of the papacy?

There have been ongoing “dialogues” between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox churches for a long time. Some of these are more or less official, and some are more or less realistic.

What follows is a response to a “Joint International Commission for Orthodox-Catholic Dialogue Statement”, which apparently was in the “less realistic” category.

The “Statement” itself got some publicity for some hope of a breakthrough, but an official response from a real Russian Orthodox Patriarch (Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk) told it like it is:

For the Orthodox participants, it is clear that in the first millennium the jurisdiction of the bishop of Rome was exercised only in the West, while in the East, the territories were divided between four Patriarchs – those of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. The bishop of Rome did not exercise any direct jurisdiction in the East in spite of the fact that in some cases Eastern hierarchs appealed to him as arbiter in theological disputes. These appeals were not systematic and can in no way be interpreted in the sense that the bishop of Rome was seen in the East as the supreme authority in the whole Universal Church.

It is hoped that at the next meetings of the Commission, the Catholic side will agree with this position which is confirmed by numerous historical evidence.

The Orthodox, too, believe that the Roman Catholic side simply ignores history. Where’s that “IP” when you need it?

This statement by coheres with a statement from Archbishop Roland Minnerath that I published some time ago, to the effect that “The East never shared the Petrine theology as elaborated in the West. It never accepted that the protos in the universal church could claim to be the unique successor or vicar of Peter.”

Minnerath’s statement is from a paper written in 2003 or 2004. This statement from Hilarion is from 2010; I’m not aware of anything more recent than this.

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