our Church's participation in the dialogue between the
Orthodox Church and the "Roman Catholic church" - but more so
the manner in which She is participating - is a huge one;
therefore I shall limit myself here, to only briefly presenting
a few views on the issue.
It is necessary for the dialogue to take
place, but it should be with the necessary theological,
ecclesiological and canonical prerequisites. In other
words, the Church should not, in the name of the dialogue, deny
Her theology, Her ecclesiology and Her canonical law.
Although there may be issues that are still pending (as is the
issue of Unia), as well as other, basic theological issues (as
is the teaching of "actus purus" which clearly affects Papism's
overall theology - the "filioque" - and ecclesiology) -
nevertheless, the matter of associating the primacy with
conciliarity can be discussed, given that this was a basic issue
that had preoccupied the first millennium.
my view, that the gradual severing of Old Rome from the
Patriarchates of the East had begun with the issue of the Pope's
primacy in the Church, and at a later stage with the Frankish
imposition of the "filioque" in the theology of Old Rome. In
other words, the Pope could never reconcile himself with the
distinction of equal honour
that had been rendered to the Bishop of New Rome by the
4th Ecumenical Council.
Even though the dialogue on the association
between conciliarity and primacy is important, and it is
regarded that they should move on to other
issues through this prism, nevertheless, there are certain problems which need to
be pointed out.
The way that our Church is participating in
the dialogue is not appropriate. It is taking place with the
utmost secrecy. The texts, which have been endorsed by the
meetings so far (Munich, Bari, New Balamon, Ravenna) and by the
representatives of our Church, are problematic. There has
never been any discussion whatsoever in the Hierarchy as to the
stance that our delegates should take in these meetings, and
furthermore, those texts have never been discussed in the
Hierarchy, even after being endorsed. Therefore, the Conciliar
polity in this instance is not being observed. We
Hierarchs who are the expressers and the guardians of the Faith
have been marginalized - left "in the dark".
The statements made by the Orthodox and the
Roman Catholic representatives are evidence of this problematic
status, because they are merely proving that there is indeed an
endeavour to bring on the "union of Churches" in a
not-so-clear manner. These statements are available, should it
become necessary to quote them.
During the first millennium, the Orthodox
Church had confronted the issue of an honorary recognition of the
Pope of Rome. This occurred during the Council at the time of Photius the Great (879-880 A.D.), which, by many Orthodox, is
regarded as the 8th Ecumenical Synod. These two kinds of
ecclesiology - that is, of Papism and of the Orthodox Church -
had been put forth during this Council. Patriarch Photius had
acknowledged a primacy of honour for the Pope, but only
within the Orthodox ecclesiological framework: ie, that the Pope has
a primacy of honour within the Church, and that he cannot
be placed above the Church. Therefore, in the
discussion pertaining to the primacy of the Pope, the decision
of this Council should be taken seriously into account.
Of course during this Council the matter of the "filioque" was
also discussed, along with the matter of the primacy; therefore,
when we discuss the matter of primacy today, we should look at
it from within the prism of honorary primacy, as we should in
the case of the "filioque".
Whereas in the Orthodox Church the administrative system is
Conciliar, in the "Roman Catholic church" the administrative
system is "Pope-centered". This was made abundantly clear in
the decisions of the Vatican II Synod and in other synodal
texts, in which it is asserted that the Pope is the "leader of
the college of Bishops", the "rock of the Church", the "eternal
and visible principle and foundation of unity, who unites the
bishops between them, as well as the multitude of the faithful",
the "representative of Christ and the Shepherd of the entire
Church, who has full, supreme and universal authority in the Church,
which he is always free to exercise". One other claim in
Papism's ecclesiology that should be underlined is that
"there cannot be an Ecumenical Synod, if it is not validated, or
at least if not accepted, by the successor of Peter".
Therefore, this Pope-centered perception and the Pope's
predominance -even above the Ecumenical Synods themselves-
negates synodicity, thus constituting another ecclesiology
altogether. The Papist claim therefore, that the Churches
(that is, the Orthodox ones) that do not acknowledge the Pope as
their head are "deficient" - ie, that they are lacking, cannot be
Despite its many important points indicating how the primacy of
the Pope functioned during the first millennium, nevertheless,
in the draft of the document that is to be discussed in Cyprus
was no mention of the association between the Pope's primacy and
the Ecumenical Councils.
document that does not possess a clarity of thought cannot
prevail, nor help those who have broken away to be
reincorporated into the Catholic Church.
It is a fact, that the Pope's basic problem
is that he has never in essence accepted the 28th Canon of the
4th Ecumenical Council, which gave equal honor to the
Church of New Rome, and the right to ordain Bishops in barbarian
lands. This disdain is also proven by the fact that the Pope
himself was never present in any Ecumenical Synod - only his
When one studies the documents of the
Primates of the Orthodox Churches, one will notice that they may
agree on the continuation of the dialogue, however, they also
place clear-cut prerequisites, such as -for example- the
outright condemnation of Unia, and, through the issue of the
primacy, continue with the dialogue on other essential
The Patriarchate of Moscow had departed from
the Meeting in Ravenna - the reason being the presence of the
Archbishop of Estonia - and consequently did not endorse that
Meeting's document, just as the Patriarchate of Georgia did not
endorse it. It is necessary to seek out the
decisions of the other Orthodox Churches on the Ravenna
Following all the above, it is my suggestion that directions be
given to our representatives, pursuant to a discussion and
decision by the Hierarchy, as to what they are to support during
the dialogue, and to discuss the issue with the Hierarchy, after
the endorsement of the Documents.
At the same time, it should be declared explicitly, that if our
representatives endorse a text that is outside the guidelines
that will be given to them by the Church, then that text is not
to be considered binding by our Church.
* An intervention
by His Eminence addressed to the Hierarchy of the Church of
Greece, which was recorded in the
Minutes of the Synod.