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Poll
Question: Can the EO concede that the Roman Pope was once "universal ruler" in the Church?
YES - 4 (11.4%)
NO - 31 (88.6%)
Total Voters: 35

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Author Topic: pre-schism popes: "universal ruler" ?  (Read 3995 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: December 30, 2006, 11:16:17 PM »

I dont mean "universal ruler" in the sense that RCers came to understand it in the high middle ages. I am referring to the phrase itself. I have counted around 20 times that it appears in the fathers, emperors, or various ecclesiastical writers prior to the pontificate of NicholasI. It is not monarchial. Nor does it necessitate universal jurisdiction. Think how the Patriarch of Constantinople claimed to be the Ecumenical ie Universal Patriarch for the East. Can the EO concede that the pope was once "universal ruler" in the pre-schism communal context?

Note - I gave no more options on the poll because if there was a middle-ground option it would get most of the votes. I want this to be clear cut. Is this a legitimate phrase for the pre-schism popes or not?
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« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2006, 11:19:20 PM »

PS - RCers please do not vote. I am looking to see the opinion of Orthodox people.
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« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2006, 02:35:39 AM »

nonchal

I haven't (and won't) vote in your poll, so as not to skew the results, but if I may, let me ask something. What exactly is meant by "universal ruler" here? You have explained what it does not mean, but what are the positive ideas/parts that provide some content for the title? The Patriarch of Constantinople has some abilities that other bishops do not have (in spite of the idea that he is theoretically equal to all other bishops in a collegial system), such as presiding over councils, settling disputes which cannot be settled at the local level, and even in rare occasions helping to resolve disputes in which the disputants have not directly petitioned him for help. Is this the type of thing you mean by "universal ruler," or do you have something else in mind?

Also, not that this necessarily effects your question, but fwiw I did a quick search and came up with a passage that gives the title "universal Ruler" to God.

Quote
The Christian is not impious. For this was the point incumbent on us to demonstrate to the philosophers; so that he will never in any way do anything bad or base (which is unjust). Consequently, therefore, he is not impious; but he alone fears God, holily and dutifully worshipping the true God, the universal Ruler, and King, and Sovereign, with the true piety. - Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, 7, 9

Clement also calls God "universal King" in Stromata, 7, 3. (Interestingly, I found the above passage on newadvent.org Smiley )
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« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2006, 01:11:01 PM »

What exactly is meant by "universal ruler" here? You have explained what it does not mean, but what are the positive ideas/parts that provide some content for the title? The Patriarch of Constantinople has some abilities that other bishops do not have (in spite of the idea that he is theoretically equal to all other bishops in a collegial system), such as presiding over councils, settling disputes which cannot be settled at the local level, and even in rare occasions helping to resolve disputes in which the disputants have not directly petitioned him for help. Is this the type of thing you mean by "universal ruler..."

Yup thats what I mean. I would add that the most usual implementation of this role was writing letters to enforce [ie ensure lawful observance of] ecumenical councils, canons, local decisions ectetera. It is a pastoral role or ministry of oversight. The popes wrote hundreds of such directional letters to Eastern dignitaries. This was their "universal rule."

Perhaps the Church supplies some extraordinary "jurisdiction" from custom, as it does for patriarchs and metropolitans, that is used in particular circumstances. (The circumstances are what we have listed.) However, this is not real jurisdiction, since it is granted from the Church via custom to be used at certain times alone, and its sole purpose is to ensure administrative cohesiveness. Its true that in the original constitution of the Church each bishop is equal in power. (The preeminence of Peter which passed to those who succeeded to his chair in Rome was not jurisdictional power but mere honorific leadership.) But in practice the Church has the right to grant more power to bishops. The original leadership role that the bishop of Rome had was amplified when the Church was made to correspond to the structure of the Empire. Pre-Christian Eternal Rome was called "caput mundi" or head of the world. Likewise this title passed on to the Roman church. (The pope was in fact called universal "head" more than universal "ruler.") These terms were common parlance back then. The original meanings were quite different from how the high medievals interpreted them. It was also understood in ancient times that whoever is the first bishop, whether the metropolitan in his area or the patriarch in his area or the pope in his area, is de facto called "head" and "ruler." It is equivalent to our modern world "president."

In addition to the tasks that we listed above I would also like to add that, in cases of necessity such as when patriarchs were not doing their job or when a patriarch became a heretic and no higher authority could take care of the situation, the pope could excommunicate people outside his own patriarchate. This should come as no surprise though since even regular patriachs could excommunicate other patriarchs. For instance Alexandria and Constantinople could issue mutual excommunications against each other. Likewise the pope could do the same. Indeed he was responsible for it. Whereas other patriarchs were not responsible in the same sense for other patriarchates. The pope's "universal rule" was to care for all the churches.

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« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2006, 02:07:54 PM »

I remember reading something about this, but I cant remember the exact wording. But yes, the Pope was 'First among equals' in pre-schism.

However, you must be careful not to use the term "Universal Ruler". Nobody was ever referred to that. Only First Among Equals, because ALL patriarchs have the same 'power' the EP does, and the Pope did. The only difference is who gets to sit down first, sign papers first, etc.
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« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2006, 02:55:12 PM »

However, you must be careful not to use the term "Universal Ruler". Nobody was ever referred to that. Only First Among Equals, because ALL patriarchs have the same 'power' the EP does, and the Pope did. The only difference is who gets to sit down first, sign papers first, etc.

WHAT?? LOL!! I did not think that I needed to cite passages from the fathers, emperors, and ecclesiastical writers where he is called ruler of the church or universal ruler etcetera. He was called this.
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« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2007, 11:54:05 AM »

WHAT?? LOL!! I did not think that I needed to cite passages from the fathers, emperors, and ecclesiastical writers where he is called ruler of the church or universal ruler etcetera. He was called this.
Perhaps it is your choice of translations? What did they say in Greek, and what does that mean in context?

"Ruler" is a loaded term, especially to we moderns, an Ultramontanist might translate using such a term in English more for what it implies than anything else. All bishops are (and were) despots in their own dioceses, at least in Holy Orthodoxy.

Rather than focus on what the bishops of Roma were called, we should perhaps look at what they actually did, and see if that fits the modern English understanding of a ruler. I do not recall any examples in history of bishops of Rome "ruling" anything ecclesiastical (for that matter even "regulating" anything) outside of central Italy in the first millenium.

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« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2007, 12:53:03 PM »

Perhaps it is your choice of translations? What did they say in Greek, and what does that mean in context?

"Ruler" is a loaded term, especially to we moderns, an Ultramontanist might translate using such a term in English more for what it implies than anything else. All bishops are (and were) despots in their own dioceses, at least in Holy Orthodoxy.

Rather than focus on what the bishops of Roma were called, we should perhaps look at what they actually did, and see if that fits the modern English understanding of a ruler. I do not recall any examples in history of bishops of Rome "ruling" anything ecclesiastical (for that matter even "regulating" anything) outside of central Italy in the first millenium.

Michael Smiley

I dont know Greek. But in Latin I think the word used was princeps(ipis) which has these meanings: first, foremost, chief, principle, sovereign, leader, prince, ruler. The context excludes the translation of first, foremost, principle. Sovereign, on the other hand, implies too much. That leaves chief, leader, prince, ruler. I have never seen translations that use leader. Given the common imperial parlance of the time I think prince and ruler are best. In actual practice this meant no more than our modern word president. But the high medievals understood it in a monarchial sense.

Orthodox should have no problem with the phrase. Just with later implications of it. Same goes for the word "head." PreChristian Eternal Rome was called caput mundi or head of the world. This parlance passed on in application to the Roman church. The Roman bishop was head of the universal Church. For example a bishop who was first in his area (whether a bishop or metropolitan or patriarch or pope) was de facto the leader-ruler-prince and head of that area. But again the modern equivalent would be president. Or governor of a state.
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« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2007, 12:57:24 PM »

Regardless, you will never hear the EP refer to himself as Universal Ruler. The Emperor was Ruler of the Earth, but it is Christ who is Pantocrator (Ruler of the Universe)

However, that's beside the point. Yes, Popes were the head of the Christian Church, and yes, they would regain that title of they came back with us.
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« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2007, 01:54:21 PM »

One venerable title I find interesting is Pontifex Maximus (Supreme Pontiff), an ancient carryover from the Roman Empire.. Pontifex is variously translated as "bridge builder" or "road maker." It is still used today.
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« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2007, 02:07:21 PM »

Quote
first, foremost, chief, principle, sovereign, leader, prince, ruler.
Yes, sort of.  It was a title first adopted by Augustus that primarily ment chief, but later adopted other means.  As the Romans said, Romani nominum regi non possunt audare."  Excuse misspellings, it's New years, lol.  You should provide the original text in order to come to a better understanding.

However, once also has to remember such titles were thrown around in the church quite lavishly.  IIRC, around the 6th century one even sees certain bishops (that weren't patriarchs) adopt similar titles.

Quote
One venerable title I find interesting is Pontifex Maximus (Supreme Pontiff), an ancient carryover from the Roman Empire.. Pontifex is variously translated as "bridge builder" or "road maker." It is still used today.
Yes, it was the title of the high pagan priests which were later adopted by the emperors and then the popes.  Signs of their temporal rule.  Although, it had the signifigance of the bridge to the beyond it actually originally did have a more practical meaning that I actually do not recall at this moment.

I will state, though, that it is a bit unclear as to what exactly you are asking.  I am aware that universal ruler was used, but I'm also aware that many of these: are taken out of context; reflect the diction of the period; and are or based on forgeries Rome would use.
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« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2007, 06:58:31 AM »

I remember reading something about this, but I cant remember the exact wording. But yes, the Pope was 'First among equals' in pre-schism.

However, you must be careful not to use the term "Universal Ruler". Nobody was ever referred to that. Only First Among Equals, because ALL patriarchs have the same 'power' the EP does, and the Pope did. The only difference is who gets to sit down first, sign papers first, etc.

One pope argued that no one should be called universal bishop.

"At this time, the Patriarch of Constantinople began to use the title Oecumenical Patriarch (that is, Imperial Patriarch –Oecumene being a common title of the Empire) since he resided in the Imperial capital, which title the Latins, with a poor understanding of Greek, read as “Ecumenical”or “Universal Patriarch”. Through this misunderstanding, we have the blessing of learning from Pope St. Gregory the Great himself his opinion on the idea of a universal patriarch or bishop. When the title first appeared, St. Pope Gregory wrote to his fellow-bishops:
 
"I say it without the least hesitation, whoever calls himself the universal bishop, or desires this title, is, by his pride, the precursor of Antichrist, because he thus attempts to raise himself above the other bishops. The error into which he falls springs from pride equal to that of Antichrist; for as that Wicked One wished to be regarded as exalted above other men, like a god, so likewise whoever would be called sole bishop exalts himself above others...." "I exhort and entreat that not one of you bishops ever accept this name, that not one consent to it's use..., since this thing is being done to the injury and rending asunder of the whole Church, and, as we have said, to the condemning of all of you. For if anyone, as he supposes, is universal bishop, it remains that you are not bishops."
http://www.onearthasinheaven.com/papacy1.html
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Epistle XXXIII. To Mauricius Augustus.
http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/NPNF2-12/Npnf2-12-234.htm#P6397_2256628
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« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2007, 06:59:48 AM »

One venerable title I find interesting is Pontifex Maximus (Supreme Pontiff), an ancient carryover from the Roman Empire.. Pontifex is variously translated as "bridge builder" or "road maker." It is still used today.

In opposition to this (modesty), could I not have acted the dissembler? I hear that there has even been an edict set forth, and a peremptory one too. The Pontifex Maximus -that is, the bishop of bishops -issues an edict: "I remit, to such as have discharged (the requirements of) repentance, the sins both of adultery and of fornication." O edict, on which cannot be inscribed, "Good deed!" And where shall this liberality be posted up? On the very spot, I suppose, on the very gates of the sensual appetites, beneath the very titles of the sensual appetites. There is the place for promulgating such repentance, where the delinquency itself shall haunt. There is the place to read the pardon, where entrance shall be made under the hope thereof. But it is in the church that this (edict) is read, and in the church that it is pronounced; and (the church) is a virgin! Far, far from Christ's betrothed be such a proclamation! She, the true, the modest, the saintly, shall be free from stain even of her ears. She has none to whom to make such a promise; and if she have had, she does not make it; since even the earthly temple of God can sooner have been called by the Lord a "den of robbers," than of adulterers and fornicators
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« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2007, 01:52:40 AM »

Not to be snide, but didn't the pope already give up several titles, just so that there can be further dialogue with the EO church? 

So why keep/add this one?  Does he really need it?  Why not just call him Pope...isn't that enough? 

I'm obviously a foreigner to the whole "pope" position, so any enlightenment with this would be great! 
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« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2007, 02:56:48 AM »

Not to be snide, but didn't the pope already give up several titles, just so that there can be further dialogue with the EO church? 

So why keep/add this one?  Does he really need it?  Why not just call him Pope...isn't that enough? 

I'm obviously a foreigner to the whole "pope" position, so any enlightenment with this would be great! 

The only title I can recall him giving up was Patriarch of the West. I know he claimed that this was to improve dialogue with us but if it was then it was a really silly thing to do. Drop a pre-Schism title that we have never objected to but keep all his objectionable ones such as Universal Pontiff, and claim that this was done with us in mind? He's either duplicitous or stupid, and I doubt he's stupid.

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« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2007, 02:21:12 PM »

I thought that it was a step in the right direction.  Also, it was probobly the most obvious title to get rid of.  His claim as universal pontif is something which would be very difficult to just cut...

But you bring up an interesting point, why did he really do it?  I think his intentions were good.  Otherwise, what did he really gain from it?  Except for trying to move in the right direction...?
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« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2007, 03:53:18 AM »

I thought that it was a step in the right direction.  Also, it was probobly the most obvious title to get rid of.  His claim as universal pontif is something which would be very difficult to just cut...

But you bring up an interesting point, why did he really do it?  I think his intentions were good.  Otherwise, what did he really gain from it?  Except for trying to move in the right direction...?

But how, exactly, was it a move in the right direction? Please can somebody explain what is achieved by dropping the title Patriarch of the West? It didn't improve relations with us (the overwhelming reaction seems to have been much like mine). We never objected to the title. It's pre-Schism, after all and, were Rome to return to us, the Pope would once again be Patriarch of the West. The only benefit I can see from dropping the title, particularly as Universal Pontiff is retained, is to Rome's pretensions to universal hegemony. Dropping a title that limits his authority to a particular geographical area clearly strengthens the claim to universality. What is it that I'm missing here? Admittedly, I've only come across 2 or 3 Orthodox, including yourself, who've told me that they thought the move was positive, but the fact that there's even one amazes me. I still see the move as a veiled attempt to shore up Papal Supremacy and the claimed justification for it as duplicitous.

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« Reply #17 on: January 10, 2007, 11:25:11 AM »

I don't necessarily agree with what i'm about to say, just trying to think outside the box... Wink

I saw it as the pope relinquishing his hold/claim on the West.  This is key because the West is really the battleground here.  If the pople gives up his title hold over the West that means that the Orthodox could (actually) come up with a title giving them dominion over the West, and therefore having claim to churches in the West when and if we reunify. 

Just an idea...

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« Reply #18 on: January 10, 2007, 11:48:30 AM »

I don't necessarily agree with what i'm about to say, just trying to think outside the box... Wink

I saw it as the pope relinquishing his hold/claim on the West.  This is key because the West is really the battleground here.  If the pople gives up his title hold over the West that means that the Orthodox could (actually) come up with a title giving them dominion over the West, and therefore having claim to churches in the West when and if we reunify. 

Just an idea...

Er, I wouldn't agree with this... Remember, he is the sovereign of Vatican City - I took it as a political move from an accomplished politician!
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« Reply #19 on: January 10, 2007, 11:56:01 AM »

Would you care to embelish?  Oh wise and elustrious leader?
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« Reply #20 on: February 03, 2007, 05:48:07 AM »

I don't necessarily agree with what i'm about to say, just trying to think outside the box... Wink

I saw it as the pope relinquishing his hold/claim on the West.  This is key because the West is really the battleground here.  If the pople gives up his title hold over the West that means that the Orthodox could (actually) come up with a title giving them dominion over the West, and therefore having claim to churches in the West when and if we reunify. 

Just an idea...



That would be to assume that the Orthodox feel that making up a hollow title would somehow be justifiable. Sure, the Ecuemenical Patriarch could call himself something like "Patriarch of all the western church" but it would be rather silly if he's not in charge of a significant body of churches in the west, in the first place
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« Reply #21 on: February 03, 2007, 11:39:42 AM »

That would be to assume that the Orthodox feel that making up a hollow title would somehow be justifiable. Sure, the Ecuemenical Patriarch could call himself something like "Patriarch of all the western church" but it would be rather silly if he's not in charge of a significant body of churches in the west, in the first place

I agree with you on face value.  But I wouldn't put it past any bishop to add titles.  The only difference is that the Synod might have a problem with the title, or any of the other Autocephalous churches (Moscow comes to mind).  So there would be not only resistance but definately dialogue involved. 

I'm not sure the Pope would have to go through such rigorous issues. 

Although I may be wrong.  I was always under the impression that the pope can just do whatever he wants.  Someone correct me here....?
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« Reply #22 on: February 03, 2007, 02:31:08 PM »

Please can somebody explain what is achieved by dropping the title Patriarch of the West?

The only positive explanation I've heard is that it is in preparation for giving a type of autonomy or self-rule to various parts of the Roman church (say, Latin America, Africa, South Asia, etc.) As some parts that would gain autonomy would be in the West, then the title 'Patriarch of the West' would be imprecise. Some have suggested that they might add actual patriarchal existence to the titular patriarchates of the West (Venice, Milan, Toledo, West Indies, Bourges, Lyon, Carthage, etc.) That would leave the Roman church free of extra-European influences. and local churches in other places to develop on their own. Of course, any sign that such is happening after the dropping of the title? I'm not so sure.
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« Reply #23 on: March 09, 2009, 11:05:54 PM »

I dont mean "universal ruler" in the sense that RCers came to understand it in the high middle ages. I am referring to the phrase itself. I have counted around 20 times that it appears in the fathers, emperors, or various ecclesiastical writers prior to the pontificate of NicholasI. It is not monarchial. Nor does it necessitate universal jurisdiction. Think how the Patriarch of Constantinople claimed to be the Ecumenical ie Universal Patriarch for the East. Can the EO concede that the pope was once "universal ruler" in the pre-schism communal context?

Note - I gave no more options on the poll because if there was a middle-ground option it would get most of the votes. I want this to be clear cut. Is this a legitimate phrase for the pre-schism popes or not?

I would appreciate it if you say what you mean and mean what you say.  WORDS MEANS THINGS.  Ruler is a ruler.  We as Orthodox Christians consider this term and title completely out of hand.
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« Reply #24 on: March 09, 2009, 11:23:19 PM »

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"I say it without the least hesitation, whoever calls himself the universal bishop, or desires this title, is, by his pride, the precursor of Antichrist, because he thus attempts to raise himself above the other bishops. The error into which he falls springs from pride equal to that of Antichrist; for as that Wicked One wished to be regarded as exalted above other men, like a god, so likewise whoever would be called sole bishop exalts himself above others...." "I exhort and entreat that not one of you bishops ever accept this name, that not one consent to it's use..., since this thing is being done to the injury and rending asunder of the whole Church, and, as we have said, to the condemning of all of you. For if anyone, as he supposes, is universal bishop, it remains that you are not bishops."

Ok, this quote always confused me. Roman Catholics will say Pope Gregory goes on to say that he is the universal bishop, and what he actually meant is that any other bishop who calls himself universal is the antichrist. But Pope Gregory also goes on to say that Alexandria and Antioch have equal Petrine primacy to him?!

I am left very confused. I thought St. Mark was the first pope of Alexandria, not St. Peter. Does anyone know of a good translation of Pope Gregory's quotes?
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« Reply #25 on: March 09, 2009, 11:36:50 PM »

But Pope Gregory also goes on to say that Alexandria and Antioch have equal Petrine primacy to him?!

I am left very confused. I thought St. Mark was the first pope of Alexandria, not St. Peter. Does anyone know of a good translation of Pope Gregory's quotes?

The letter on the CCEL site...

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf212.iii.v.vii.xxvi.html

"For he himself [Saint Peter] exalted the See in which he deigned even to rest and end the present life [Rome].  He himself adorned the See to which he sent his disciple as evangelist [Alexandria, Mark].  He himself stablished the See in which, though he was to leave it, he sat for seven years [Antioch].  Since then it is the See of one, and one See, over which by Divine authority three bishops now preside..."
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« Reply #26 on: March 10, 2009, 11:16:01 AM »

The Patriarch of Alexandria (both the Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian) carries the title 'Universal Judge of the Church'.

The period of power politics among the various Patriarchates resulted in quite a bit of overblown rhetoric--did certain pre-schism individuals and even official declarations use the phrase 'universal ruler' for the Roman Pope? I'm sure they did--just as certain individuals and offical declarations referred to the Pope of Alexandria as 'Univeral Judge of the Church', '13th Apostle', etc. For much the same reasons and to much the same effect (i.e., none).

When we refer to a Patriarch as 'His All-Holiness', it's rarely an accurate statement. It's certainly not a precise theological or even practical statement. Titles for the Roman pope (or any other member of the hierarchy, though it gets more egregious the higher in 'respect' one goes) have to be taken with the same grain of salt. What matters is not the title someone looking to curry favor--or looking to defuse a disagreement with a little seemingly harmless flattery--introduced into usage but the actual facts on the ground of what exercises of authority by that bishop were accepted, which exercises were opposed, and what ideal state (as opposed to a simple record of the behavior of imperfect human beings) does the theology support.
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