I've been meaning to add something to this discussion for some time, and now I have the time to do it. Some of it will seem polemical, I'm sure, but really all I'm interested in is the objective facts of the situation, which are hard to get a lot of the time. I'm convinced that an honest look at the objective facts by both sides will, one way or another, yield a solution to the present dilemma. Unfortunately, almost no one seems interested in this. I'm not directing these points at anyone in particular, so no offence is intended; however, I think it will be clear which side I support, although I recognise both sides in this dispute as fully Orthodox and in full communion with the other Oriental Orthodox Churches, although not in formal communion with each other.
The first thing I want to address is the title of the bishopric of Antioch. The occupant of this see is styled "Patriarch of Antioch and all the East". I've frequently heard Jacobites appeal to this title, given at the First Ecumenical Council, as justification for their position. I think I recall reading that here or in another thread. The title refers not to everything geographically east of Antioch, however; it refers to the eastern part of the Roman Empire. It does not address territories outside the bounds of the Roman Empire, and India is among these. For example, the Greek Patriarch of Antioch "and all the East" does NOT claim jurisdiction on several Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions east of him (e.g., Japan), because that is not the jurisdiction which was determined by the Council. The Syrian Patriarchs of Antioch cannot exceed the jurisdictional limits set down by the Ecumenical Council based on a faulty reading of its canons.
In Syriac Orthodox Church canon, In Episcopal dignity the Catholicose rank second to the Patriarch and, as His Holiness's deputy, presides over the provincial Holy Synod.
In Orthodoxy, all bishops are equal in dignity, regardless of title. Titles are matters of honour, and also serve a purpose in some jurisdictional considerations. However, whether the head of an autocephalous Church is called Patriarch or Catholicos makes no difference: they are equal. If, within the Syrian Orthodox Church, they choose to make a Catholicos second to a Patriarch, there is no problem with that, but they cannot then say that the Catholicos of Etchmiadzin, for example, is inferior to the Patriarch of Antioch: he is not, they are equal. And so, the Patriarch of Antioch and the Catholicos of the East, as heads of autocephalous Churches, are equal.
If the Indian Orthodox Church Catholicose declare publicly and announce the acceptance of the spiritual supremacy of Patriarch of Antioch, all problem should have been solved a long back. Instead IOC Catholicose declares it in the legal proceedings and publicly questing it. Even during the blessing of Holy Muron (the Holy Oil) or Chrism, IOC Catholicose and his church remove or forget (Ignore) to remember the name of the Supreme authority of the Church.
Forgetting and ignoring are two different things. If you have both SOC and IOC official texts for the consecration of Mooron, I'd be happy to review them to look for discrepancies in the texts.
Regardless, I've never seen anyone in the IOC ever question the position of the Patriarch of Antioch in the Church. On the contrary, it is affirmed, although perhaps not in the way your leaders would like.
Hudaya Canon does not permit the Patriarch to interfere in the internal affairs of the Synod of Catholicos of the East. He can do work in the jurisdiction of Catholicos 'only if' invited.
May I have the citation for this? I find it interesting that you claim the Hudaya Canon says this, Thomas says the SOC Canons state a Catholicos is inferior to a Patriarch, and yet the SOR website says in one place that Hudaya Canon forms a part of the canon law of the SOC. It is hard to discern fact from opinion in these discussions because those involved are usually too devoted to their own side to take a step back and look objectively at the facts, so wherever possible I'd (personally) like to see official documentation to back up claims.
Regarding the position of St. Peter in the Syriac Orthodox Church, please visit the following link. It might help you.
I haven't thoroughly studied this article, but I have read through it, once in the past (when an Ethiopian Orthodox friend alerted me to it and asked me if this was what was taught in India; he thought it was heretical), and once today.
There is a sense in which Orthodoxy teaches that Saint Peter is the "Rock"; this much is clear from liturgical and patristic sources. However, there is a heterodox understanding of this, and it became the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. This article sounds like some of the intro level stuff Roman Catholics put out to teach their doctrines, but at least the Roman Catholics do a better job of being more convincing in their writings. This Syrian Orthodox piece (and since I asked for the official position of the Syrian Orthodox Church, and you gave me this, I am trusting you that this is the teaching of the SOC, since I am IOC and do not know what is going in your church), while unobjectionable to me in some respects, also presents problems.
From the article:
In fact the word "Rock" has been reserved for God and the Son Jesus Christ. Our Lord gave that name to Simon when He said "you are Cephas". (I have to point out here that when Moses was appointed to lead Israel God told Moses "you shall be God to him" (Exodus 4:17). Here also His name was given). By giving His name to Simon, our Lord has selected him to participate in his ministry and in his personality and be a foundation for His church.
It is hard for me to see here any implication other than that Peter was "made to be God to" the other Christians. What does the SOC teach are the implications of this? In what way is Peter, and his successors (the Patriarchs of Antioch, I presume), "God" to the Universal Church? How is this exercised, both in the local Antiochene Church, and in the larger Orthodox Church (Alexandria, Etchmiadzin, Cilicia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and India)? Other than within its own jurisdictional bounds, I've only seen the SOC attempt to exercise this sort of leadership over the Church in India and not, say, over the Alexandrian Church, whose Patriarch is the successor of Saint Mark, who was, by this logic, inferior to Saint Peter, although, by decree of the same Nicene Council referenced above, ranks higher
in honour than the Patriarch of Antioch.
By giving Christ’s name to Simon, Peter was allowed to participate in his personality and thereby awarded stewardship of the church. And as a representation of this, our Lord promised to give Simon the "Keys of heaven". This is an example of all powers given to peter. At this point the other disciples are not given the power to absolve sins. Later, other apostles are given this power to absolve sins. So Peter was given first (like a foundation) and others were later added (John 20:22). Peter was the summit of the apostolic power. Our Lord gave the other apostles participation to Peter's power.
Where is there any mention of Christ giving to Peter the power to forgive sins by changing his name? That power is given after the Resurrection to all the Apostles. And if Peter is the summit of apostolic power, and the other apostles were given a participation in Peter's power, then it is safe to assume that the other apostles are inferior to Peter? They are not all equals, but one is fundamentally and essentially superior to the others?
This empowering that took place close to his ascension is a very significant act by our Lord. He is leaving and the administration is handed over.
What is the nature of the "administration" which Christ handed over to Peter, in the view of the SOC?
So our Lord gave Simon our Lords name and hinted at Peter's appointment. But later when establishing the church our Lord gave the partnership in the foundation of the church with Him to Peter and was given the authority to lead the church. Later just before ascending to heaven all power (over other disciples and over the church) was commissioned to Peter in the midst of the other disciples. So the leadership given to Peter is Biblical and is God's plan. Denying this is heresy.
This, if it is the official teaching of the SOC, sounds like Roman Catholic teachings, at least on the surface.
Peter is given authority *over* the Apostles and not *among* the Apostles?
Peter is given authority *over* the Church and not *within* the Church?
What is the nature of this authority *over* the Apostles and the Church? What is the SOC point of view? And since "denying this is heresy", do the beliefs of the other Oriental Orthodox Churches with whom we both enjoy full communion square with this SOC understanding? Do they also teach these things? If so, where can I read about it?
Some people regard this as 'forgiveness' of Peter's denial of our Lord (Mat 26:31). If someone sins then God forgives him or her. And forgiving is not by giving the universal authority of the church. Instead of saying I forgave you, our Lord gave universal authority over the church. So it is clear that what happened in Caesarea Philippi is commissioning of Peter with the authority to administer the church, not absolution from Peter’s denial. If Peter needed to be forgiven then it had to be during the initial meetings after the resurrection. Not at the last moment when our Lord was leaving the disciples (during such time instructions are to be given).
From my limited reading of the writings of the Church Fathers and other theological texts, it is clear that the threefold confession of Christ which Peter was made to make was to "undo" in a sense the threefold denial of Christ which Peter made. So yes, repentence and forgiveness were a part of this. On the other hand, some measure of responsibility was laid on Peter's shoulders at the same time. What is this? I know what the Catholics would say, and I have an idea of the Orthodox answer, but where does the SOC view fall into this?
Besides, other disciples denied our Lord more than Peter by their act. When our Lord was arrested, they all ran away and escaped. Peter did not run away but followed our Lord even though it was dangerous. Really Peter tried a trick to escape from the crowd's rowdy behavior and persecution. But all the other disciples who ran away were literally denying Christ.
Now this is interesting. It is true the other disciples ran away because of their fear, but from where does the author get this idea that "all the other disciples who ran away were literally denying Christ"? Where is this recorded? The Gospels are silent about nine of the disciples: only Judas, Peter, and John are spoken of. Judas betrayed him, Peter followed our Lord from a distance, but feeling the danger, publically denied him thrice, and John remained faithful to Christ, following Him even to the Cross and the Tomb. The author doesn't give John the credit that is due to him for remaining faithful in spite of the danger, however, but defends
Peter's denial ("Peter tried a trick to escape from the crowd's rowdy behavior and persecution"), and smears the other disciples as "literally denying Christ", even though there is nothing in the Gospels to suggest anything other than that they were afraid, and ran away. Tell me: is there a reason for any of this? What is the point of including Saint John with the other "Christ-denying" disciples by not singling him out as the only faithful one, while defending Saint Peter''s literally Christ-denying actions?
Our Lords does all the important works in Peter's presence. Usually one or two of the other disciples are also present to witness it. He was with our Lord when He rose daughter of Jairus (Mat. 9), during the transfiguration of Jesus Christ and in the prayer at Gethsemane. During the preparations of the Passover Peter along with one of them is also there. Our Lord does not do any thing important without Peter nearby. This is a part of our Lord's commissioning as the leader of the church.
Peter was indeed present for all the important miracles in the public ministry of Christ, but so were James and John. What do we make of these two?
Our Lord specially reveals many things to Peter. Only Peter was revealed that our Lord preached to the dead for three days. He states that fact in his first letter.
Only Matthew and Luke talk about the Virgin Birth; I am not aware of Peter teaching of it in his letters. Does this mean Peter did not know of it? The above does not necessarily prove anything.
In 1970 by letter # 203 to Catholicose Augen, Patriarch Yacoob III, quoting John 20:22,23, said that Apostle Thomas was not a priest.
At least some theologians hold that view even today. Whether or not the statement was inadvertent or erroneous, and it was, apostle-ship is far superior to priesthood. The patriarch affirmed that Thomas was apostle and saint. Also, as martyr he is above priesthood.
Apostleship may be far superior to priesthood, but apostleship has within itself the priesthood by the design of Christ. To affirm apostleship but deny priesthood makes no sense, unless you are trying to establish something unheard of in the Christian faith. Even a Roman Catholic with whom I've discussed this called this heresy.
The Patriarch was raising a technical point in that Apostle Thomas was not present at the time when Christ himself breathed on the Apostles as stated in John 20:21-24. While the synoptic gospels record the "Great Commission" of our Lord to the Apostles in their respective last chapters (which we may consider the consecration of the Apostles), only St. John mentions the absence of Apostle Thomas at that event.
But the Apostle Thomas was present at the Great Commission. What he was not present at was the appearance of the Risen Christ to the apostles in the upper room, when He breathed on them, sending upon them the Holy Spirit, and giving them the power to forgive and retain sins. It is this event to which the Patriarch referred in his letter (which I've only seen in Syriac, so have no clue as to what actually is contained except by what others tell me). But does this mean Thomas was lacking in the priesthood in some way? No, and Thomas is right when he says "it would be quite legalistic to interpret it that way".
As I stated before in the forum that that was a private letter to Catholicose Augen and not an encyclical addressed to the Malankara Church.
Is there any proof for this statement? I've heard two different versions of this (I've heard two different versions of many incidents often referenced in these discussions).
2.) Is it true that the IOC removed the condemnation of Pope Leo and his tome from the amalogia of episcopal ordination? Why? Would they really compromise their miaphysite Faith just to have a political weapon against the Patriarch of Antioch? As in "Give us what we want or we will join the Byzantine communion". If so, that is lamentable. Matters of faith should not be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency.
What I've heard from Jacobites is that the condemnations of Leo and his Tome were taken out of an episcopal ordination which occurred sometime in the 1960's-1970's as a friendly gesture towards the EO, particularly the MP, with whom the Indian Church was intending to align if the See of Antioch did not acquiese to its demands. I've never seen any documentation of this, but the fact that it is bandied about enough leads me to believe it happened. But was it a one time thing, where the usual condemnations were resumed in subsequent ordinations? Or was it a permanent thing, where the Synod decided to remove it entirely? This is not clear. Nor is the intent behind these deletions clear. While the Jacobites make it sound like a weapon used to threaten Antioch, I've heard Orthodox say this was not the intention at all, but merely that, in light of the ecumenical dialogues going on between EO and OO, our Church decided to remove said condemnations, all of this going on while a friendly relationship was being cultivated between our Church and the largest of the autocephalous EO churches. If we could see official texts and reports of the event, it might become clear. It would be interesting to see what happens at four IOC episcopal ordinations which are slated to occur in the next six months or so.
My own opinion of the whole condemnation of Leo thing: it would be one thing to protest the taking out of these condemnations if the OO continued to believe that both Leo and the Tome could not in any way be considered Orthodox. But, in light of the ecumenical dialogue occurring between EO and OO, it was becoming clear at that point and is clear now that they can indeed be seen both in an Orthodox way and in a heterodox way, and it is in the Orthodox way in which the EO have believed. This seems to be accepted by the Oriental Orthodox Churches. Therefore, is there any need anymore to condemn them if now we understand they are not wrong like we perceived them to be? Or have the OO Churches NOT accepted these conclusions, contrary to all I've heard?
Also, it is interesting to me that Jacobites would criticise such a move, as it seems much more conservative than what they are up to. Paul rightly noted here or elsewhere that, unlike the Jacobites, who have an official intercommunion agreement with the Roman Catholic Church, the IOC has no such official agreements (private opinions and the exercise of economy, however, are a different matter). The Syrian Orthodox have an intercommunion agreement with the Roman Catholics, and allow both intercommunion and concelebration with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Antioch. So on the one hand, the Jacobites condemn the Orthodox for allegedly deleting from the rite of episcopal ordination condemnations of Leo and his Tome, but on the other hand are happy to recognise and participate in the sacraments of and concelebrate with churches with which we are not in full communion, and which have historically tended to view US as the bad guys. This means that the Jacobites, who continue to condemn Leo and the Tome in their episcopal ordinations, commune and concelebrate with those who not only recognise the Tome as the *definitive* Orthodox statement on Christology, but also venerate Leo as a saint, and condemn some of our saints as heretics.
Which is the more consistent, more prudent, more conservative move?