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Author Topic: A Balanced Position Concerning Primacy  (Read 853 times) Average Rating: 0
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elijahmaria
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« on: September 01, 2010, 01:14:53 PM »

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The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) at its session in the Kyiv Cave Monastery on July 26, 2010, decided to send the official delegation of the ROC to the session of the Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue Between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church in Vienna (September 20-27, 2010). Archimandrite Kirill (Hovorun), deputy chair of the Education Committee of the ROC, is part of the delegation. RISU asked him to comment on the issues that will be raised at the meeting and the ROC’s position on them...

http://risu.org.ua/en/index/expert_thought/interview/37178/

Edited in order to fill it a bit - mike.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2010, 01:19:49 PM by mike » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2010, 08:36:41 PM »

Fr Kirill: "The “Krytskyj” (Cretan) Document will be reviewed. The ROC, by the way, did not participate in the preparation of the document. We will substantially examine the position of this document, which greatly differs from Orthodox ecclesiology."

Praise the Lord that he sees clearly that the Cretan document, basically the ideas of Cardinal Kasper and Metropolitan Ziziloulas, is unbalanced in terms of Orthodox ecclesiology.
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« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2010, 08:55:47 PM »

The one and only item on the agenda this month in Vienna is the 2008 Cretan document.  This Card.Kasper-Met.Zizioulas creation has been stated by Fr Kirill to be out of line with Orthodox ecclesiology.   This should make for a most interesting discussion in Vienna later in the month.  I doubt if the brief time of the meeting will allow any conclusions to be brought down.

Also, one must remember that as of Crete 2008 the Orthodox bishops are taking a pro-active role in this dialogue and have forbidden the official release of documents until they are perused by them and approved in synod.  This will also slow down the whole process immeasurably..

Here is the text of the Cretan document, already nicknamed the "Cretan Unia" in Orthodoxy circles. 

"The Role of the Bishop of Rome in the Communion of the Church in the First Millennium"

Joint Coordinating Committee for the Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church

Crete, September 27 - October 4, 2008

http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1341814?eng=y
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John Larocque
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« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2010, 09:58:43 PM »

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I think very highly of alternative forms of the dialogue, especially those that are not between church functionaries but between scholars. An example of such a dialogue is the group in honor of St. Irenei Lionskyi, which unites Orthodox and Catholic scholars. The last meeting of this international group, by the way, was held last year in the Kyiv Cave Monastery. We discussed the historical context of the First Vatican Council and made substantial headway in understanding this question. I’m not sure this would have been possible from the dialogue at the official level.

I remember reading somewhere that Fr. Paul Meyendorff (son of the famous theologian) was at that meeting. Ah (found the quote):

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« Last Edit: September 01, 2010, 10:04:44 PM by John Larocque » Logged
elijahmaria
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« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2010, 01:48:10 AM »

Fr Kirill: "The “Krytskyj” (Cretan) Document will be reviewed. The ROC, by the way, did not participate in the preparation of the document. We will substantially examine the position of this document, which greatly differs from Orthodox ecclesiology."

Praise the Lord that he sees clearly that the Cretan document, basically the ideas of Cardinal Kasper and Metropolitan Ziziloulas, is unbalanced in terms of Orthodox ecclesiology.

You would not want the readers of the Forum to miss this section would you?:

Quote
— And what is the position of the Orthodox tradition on the primacy?

— Let’s put it this way, among the Orthodox theologians there are currently two (at least) positions on primacy in the Orthodox tradition. According to the first position, primacy exists nominally: there is only the first in honor, who other than the honorary primacy does not fulfill any other functions in Ecumenical Orthodoxy. All autocephalous churches are absolutely sovereign, in the sense of sovereignty of national states. Thus, any attempts to practically embody the honorary primacy in the field of inter-Orthodox relations are perceived as interventions in the internal affairs of the national church – similar to the interference in the internal affairs of a state. In my opinion, such an attitude toward primacy is inspired by the modern model of a sovereign state that appeared after the French Revolution.

The other position comes from the fact that primacy in the Orthodox tradition was always something real that had specific mechanisms of practical application. Another matter is that in history there was a very wide spectrum of mechanisms to realize primacy. Some of these mechanisms would have not been accepted now, like, for example, the interference of Saint John Chrysostom in the internal affairs of the Asiiski eparchies. Therefore there is no consensus between the supporters of this position regarding what specific power the primate can have in the current situation. They agree, however, that the “Federation” model of national churches, which excludes the possibility of a real primacy, is not traditional or acceptable.

It would be an exaggeration to say that the Russian Orthodox Church supports the first position in contradiction to Constantinople, which holds the second position. The ROC has theologians that are sure that primacy in the church should be filled with real content. By the way, such a position is held by Fr. Valentyn Asmus, who will also take part in the discussions in Vienna. I would also include myself in this group. I want to stress once more that we are talking not about the primacy of the pontiff, but about primacy in the Orthodox environment. All groups of Orthodox theologians agree that primacy in the Orthodox sense substantially differs from the primacy of the pope and how it is formed, in particular, at the First Vatican Council.
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« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2010, 07:46:06 AM »

Fr Kirill: "The “Krytskyj” (Cretan) Document will be reviewed. The ROC, by the way, did not participate in the preparation of the document. We will substantially examine the position of this document, which greatly differs from Orthodox ecclesiology."

Praise the Lord that he sees clearly that the Cretan document, basically the ideas of Cardinal Kasper and Metropolitan Ziziloulas, is unbalanced in terms of Orthodox ecclesiology.

You would not want the readers of the Forum to miss this section would you?:

Quote
— And what is the position of the Orthodox tradition on the primacy?

— Let’s put it this way, among the Orthodox theologians there are currently two (at least) positions on primacy in the Orthodox tradition. According to the first position, primacy exists nominally: there is only the first in honor, who other than the honorary primacy does not fulfill any other functions in Ecumenical Orthodoxy. All autocephalous churches are absolutely sovereign, in the sense of sovereignty of national states. Thus, any attempts to practically embody the honorary primacy in the field of inter-Orthodox relations are perceived as interventions in the internal affairs of the national church – similar to the interference in the internal affairs of a state. In my opinion, such an attitude toward primacy is inspired by the modern model of a sovereign state that appeared after the French Revolution.

The other position comes from the fact that primacy in the Orthodox tradition was always something real that had specific mechanisms of practical application. Another matter is that in history there was a very wide spectrum of mechanisms to realize primacy. Some of these mechanisms would have not been accepted now, like, for example, the interference of Saint John Chrysostom in the internal affairs of the Asiiski eparchies. Therefore there is no consensus between the supporters of this position regarding what specific power the primate can have in the current situation. They agree, however, that the “Federation” model of national churches, which excludes the possibility of a real primacy, is not traditional or acceptable.

It would be an exaggeration to say that the Russian Orthodox Church supports the first position in contradiction to Constantinople, which holds the second position. The ROC has theologians that are sure that primacy in the church should be filled with real content. By the way, such a position is held by Fr. Valentyn Asmus, who will also take part in the discussions in Vienna. I would also include myself in this group. I want to stress once more that we are talking not about the primacy of the pontiff, but about primacy in the Orthodox environment. All groups of Orthodox theologians agree that primacy in the Orthodox sense substantially differs from the primacy of the pope and how it is formed, in particular, at the First Vatican Council.

My opinion only...  The second position (your second paragraph above) is mentioned by Fr Kirill out of politeness to Constantinople.  This is Fr Kirill's "foot in the water" as he himself now enters the international Catholic-Orthodox dialogue to represent the Church of Russia. Clearly he would not want to start out by making enemies.  But all the same his own position, the position of the Russian Church, is still made clear, namely that Constantinople's position is quite unacceptable to the Russian Church.  Constantinople has been using the international dialogue, in colloboration with Cardinal Kasper, to introduce the ideal of universal primacy into Orthodoxy.  The universal primate in Orthodoxy, in their eyes, is the Patriarch of Constantinople.   Russia has declared vehemently that this aberration in our traditional ecclesiology will be fought tooth and nail.   If Constantinople wishes to proceed with this folly and begin issuing formal proclamations that its Patriarch holds the place of universal primate it will find itself outside Orthodoxy and shunned by the Orthodox Churches.  Whether its membership will adhere to the Patriarch and support his claims or whether they will leave him for orthodox Churches is something best not to contemplate at the moment since such divisions in Orthodoxy are usually sharp and bitter, dividing brother against brother and father against son.  One hopes that Constantinople will pull back from the brink..... and this is what we are witnessing, brinkmanship. Constantinople is using the international dialogue to play a game of brinkmanship.

« Last Edit: September 02, 2010, 07:48:00 AM by Irish Hermit » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2010, 08:00:20 AM »

For those interested here is Fr Kirill's monograph on the signifcance of Canon 28 of Chalcedon and the Constantinopolitan claims derived from it.   

It is in Russian
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Fabio Leite
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« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2010, 09:47:09 AM »

Just as a note, the absolute sovereignity model, if compared to nation-states, would be a confederation, not a federation.

A primate who presides with real, but limitted power, over autocephalous churches, would be a federation.

And then, we have the RC which would be, in that analogy, a unitarian state without autonomous unities.


My understanding is that the traditional model, the one inspired by the Holy Spirit is the second one. Not exactly like nation-states, for sure, this is just a political metaphor. But as metaphors go, the "federation" is the one that best reflects what God ordained for the people of God in the OT (the system of judges) and how the Church has governed itself until recently when this became an issue at all. We lost this perspective mainly due to the isolation that the jurisdictions were forced into and the political ascension of Rome which proclaimed its independence and installed a monarchical system inside itself.
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« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2010, 10:04:26 AM »

Just as a note, the absolute sovereignity model, if compared to nation-states, would be a confederation, not a federation.

A primate who presides with real, but limitted power, over autocephalous churches, would be a federation.

And then, we have the RC which would be, in that analogy, a unitarian state without autonomous unities.


My understanding is that the traditional model, the one inspired by the Holy Spirit is the second one.


The thing which mitigates against this understanding is that in the first one thousand year history of the Church there is no mention of such a person presiding over the autocephalous Churches.  There is no mention in any of the ecumenical councils and nor is there even a single canon about a universal primate and his presidency, his powers, his obligations, his limitations.   If he existed he was quite invisible to the eye and unnoticed by the bishops.  Smiley
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« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2010, 01:30:37 PM »

Just as a note, the absolute sovereignity model, if compared to nation-states, would be a confederation, not a federation.

A primate who presides with real, but limitted power, over autocephalous churches, would be a federation.

And then, we have the RC which would be, in that analogy, a unitarian state without autonomous unities.


My understanding is that the traditional model, the one inspired by the Holy Spirit is the second one.


The thing which mitigates against this understanding is that in the first one thousand year history of the Church there is no mention of such a person presiding over the autocephalous Churches.  There is no mention in any of the ecumenical councils and nor is there even a single canon about a universal primate and his presidency, his powers, his obligations, his limitations.   If he existed he was quite invisible to the eye and unnoticed by the bishops.  Smiley
In fact, the facts surrounding the Meletian schism of Antioch shows no such system existed.
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« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2010, 01:34:09 PM »

Just as a note, the absolute sovereignity model, if compared to nation-states, would be a confederation, not a federation.

A primate who presides with real, but limitted power, over autocephalous churches, would be a federation.

And then, we have the RC which would be, in that analogy, a unitarian state without autonomous unities.


My understanding is that the traditional model, the one inspired by the Holy Spirit is the second one.


The thing which mitigates against this understanding is that in the first one thousand year history of the Church there is no mention of such a person presiding over the autocephalous Churches.  There is no mention in any of the ecumenical councils and nor is there even a single canon about a universal primate and his presidency, his powers, his obligations, his limitations.   If he existed he was quite invisible to the eye and unnoticed by the bishops.  Smiley

This power was divided between two people: the emperor in Constantinople and the pope in Rome. Again making use of the political metaphor, the emperor war more like a chief of government and the pope was the chief of state. Indeed, it seems to me that the role of the primate was very much like that of the current role of the queen of England. It *is* symbolic in many ways but not completely devoid of certain responsibilities.

My current impression is that things happened thus: each diocese was indeed autonomous. They gathered in regional assemblies which required the "presidency" of one of them. Because those were not democratic times, but very hierarchical ones, the natural choice was the bishop of the most powerful and/or traditional city of the region. That is the same structure we see inside the lower orders: deacons and a protodeacon, presbyters and a protopresbyter, bishops and a first bishop, the archbishop. It's natural that in a gathering where all the laity and clergy were represented, one of archbishops should be a "first among equals".

Now, this honour was first given to Rome for three main reasons: it was well known for the Orthodoxy of its faith in face of heresies elsewhere, it was the city of martyrdom of Ss. Peter and Paul and it had been not only the capital, but the very cradle of the empire. Even RC theologians will acknowledge that the current hyperspecification on a special inheritable charisma of St. Peter is a "development" of dogma from the initial claims that were clearly about the honour of being the place of martyrdom of the two most well known and respected Apostles. I would also add a fourth reason that is never explicitly stated but I feel it is fair to imply from the texts: Rome was outside the direct influence of the emperors, that being one of the reasons imperial heresies could be resisted there by Greek popes fleeing from the hellenic side of Christianity and well aware that only being outside the empire and using the authority confered by tradition to the city they could stand up against the secular force of government. In fact, it is my opinion that much of the "all the church must be subjected to the Church of Rome" talk came from pious man who knew that this see outside the influence of politics and shallow philosophy was the only hope for Orthodoxy. It's a pitty that when confronted with the first "local" emperor, it could not resist his own heresies.

Although it was never expressed in juridical terms, the culture of the time justifies the understanding that there should be some obedience toward the "first among equals", but it is meant to be "soft power" obedience and not the strict institutional kind of obedience Rome later claimed. We can look at the Justinian code for a consolidated expression of the role of the primate. In this code Justinian calls the primate "head of the bishops" and "head of all churches". Notice the difference between these terms and that of "head of the Church" even if a "visible" counterpart of an "invisible" head.

Back to the political metaphors, I would like to call your attention to the very interesting system of Switzerland, which is, to my knowledge, one of the best forms of government in the world today. Instead of having a president as head of government, they have a Federal Council:

Quote
The Federal Council is the seven-member executive council which constitutes the federal government of Switzerland and serves as the Swiss collective head of state.

While the entire council is responsible for leading the federal administration of Switzerland, each Councillor heads one of the seven federal executive departments.
(...)
Each year, one of the seven Councillors is elected by the United Federal Assembly(Fabio's note: more or less equivalent to the Congress) as President of the Confederation.[7] The Federal Assembly also elects a Vice President. By convention, the positions of President and Vice President rotate annually, each Councillor thus becoming Vice President and then President every seven years while in office.

According to the Swiss order of precedence, the President of the Confederation is the highest-ranking Swiss official. He or she presides over Council meetings and carries out certain representative functions that, in other countries, are the business of the Head of State.[8] In urgent situations where a Council decision cannot be made in time, he or she is empowered to act on behalf of the whole Council. Apart from that, though, he or she is a primus inter pares, having no power above and beyond the other six Councillors.[7]

The President is not the Swiss head of state (this function is carried out by the Council in corpore, that is, in its entirety). However, it has recently become usual that the President acts and is recognized as head of state while conducting official visits abroad, as the Council (also by convention) does not leave the country in corpore. More often, though, official visits abroad are carried out by the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. Visiting heads of state are received by the Federal Council in corpore.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swiss_Federal_Council

The head of state is the collegiate and the "president" is not president of the country, but president of the collegiate. This is a huge difference. This seems to be exactly what Justinian was saying when calling the pope "head of the bishops".

In fact, the church, in the world, is governed by the bishops, among whom, one who presides over *the collegiate*, not over the whole Church. This governance of the whole Church belong to the Holy Spirit exclusively. There is no such a thing as an invisible and a visible head *of the Church*. The Church has just one *visible* head: Our Lord Jesus Christ. In the world, it is governed by the bishops who, ad hoc, assemble to take decisions regarding their regions, and, on ocasion, assemble from everywhere of the Christian world, under the "presidency" of the primate, even if through his legates, an incovenience due to distances in the first millenium, but easily solved today. These gatherings, though, are not called by the "president" of the collegiate, the "head" of the "head of state", but by the "head of government", in that case, the emperor. Today, thanks God, there is no universal emperor. It means that a new "head of government" would have to be found for the collegiate and I think this honour should be given to the collegiate itself.

Should this system be fully reimplanted with the necessary adaptions for the current days, the Orthodox jurisdictions would have to compromise by fighting ethnophyletism with all their forces to allow the universalismo of the Church to shine unhindred. Rome would have to give up its monarchical pretensions and their correlate errors like infallibility. It wouldn't have to give up it's philosophical traditions but would have to bring it back to ground in relation to practical ascesis, the same relating to the excesses relating to the Theotokos and the recovery of the Western Orthodox phleroma, the roots of which can still be found in some of the most traditional monastic orders that still exist in RC. It certainly would not mean the byzantinization of RC but of the cultivation of the right seeds.
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