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Author Topic: Why not write to Rome?  (Read 880 times) Average Rating: 0
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Trebor135
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« on: August 19, 2012, 05:30:46 PM »

In this old thread, Athanasios inquired,

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If there was nothing special about the Petrine ministry, then why did the Early Church Fathers constantly write to the Pope to resolve theological disputes? Time after time, the Pope was called upon to settle differences in fundamental belief - why do this if he was just another bishop. Why not just go to another neighboring bishop? Why spend months trying to get a single piece of correspondence through if there was nothing special about it?


In response to which Fr. Anastasios pointed out,

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No one ever seems to mention how people used to write to a lot of other bishops of important sees as well. I don't recall seeing a book addressing this subject per se but noticed it reading various patristic collections. Time and time again people appealed to Constantinople, Alexandria, etc.


I am starting this thread so that the kind denizens of OrthodoxChristianity.net may post or link to citations from the early Church illustrating how appeals were made to bishops other than that of Rome.

Thanks,
T.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2012, 05:32:18 PM by Trebor135 » Logged

Justin Kissel
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« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2012, 01:18:14 AM »

Did Antioch appeal to Alexandria during the Meletian problem, or did St. Athanasius take the initiative in that one? Anyway, one instance of appeals to Constantinople that comes to mind...

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And if a clergyman have a complaint against his own or any other bishop, let it be decided by the synod of the province. And if a bishop or clergyman should have a difference with the metropolitan of the province, let him have recourse to the Exarch of the Diocese, or to the throne of the Imperial City of Constantinople, and there let it be tried.

-- Fourth Ecumenical Council, Canon 9
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« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2012, 09:03:23 AM »

Since you are from ACROD, you should know from our history that a pious appeal to Rome, such as was sent by the majority of the American Greek Catholic clergy following the arrival of Bishop Takach and the forced implementation of Cum Data Fuerit and the imposition of mandatory priestly celibacy and other derogations of Eastern praxis in the early 1930's, more often than not is met with less than a positive response!  Wink
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« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2012, 09:53:51 AM »

I am starting this thread so that the kind denizens of OrthodoxChristianity.net may post or link to citations from the early Church illustrating how appeals were made to bishops other than that of Rome.

In the patristic period, examples are too numerous to catalogue. Try reading the epistles of St Dionysius of Alexandria, St Gregory of Neocaesaria, St Athansius the Great, St Basil the Great, St Gregory the Theologian, St Amphilochius, St Timothy of Alexandria, St Theophilus of Alexandria, St Cyril of Alexandria, St John the Faster, St Nicephorus the Confessor. The list goes on and on. In the earlier centuries, Alexandria was a common See of appeal, especially for the region. Then, Constantinople, as its prominence rose. Also many other Sees. Bishops would initiate an actual appeal, or simply write a letter asking for guidance on this or that issue. A whole genre arose thereby: The "Question and Answer." 

Probably the most convenient place to read examples of this sort in one place would be in a collection of canons, e.g. Rhalles and Potlis, since many such epistles were turned into canons in the East. An interesting aside: In the East, letters of this sort from a variety of Sees and Fathers were turned into canons and placed in the manuscripts after the Ecumenical canons; in the West, that position was occupied by Papal decretals. This happened as early as the sixth century. One can thereby see how differences in common sources can create different understandings of what is "normal." Anyway, the patristic canons are only the most popular examples. The act of appeal to nearby or powerful Sees was so common it is pervasive in epistolary literature, and continues throughout Church history.

For the early medieval period through the high medieval period, see Will's Acta et scripta quae de controversiis ecclesiae graecae at latinae saeculo undecimo composita extant. Lots of interesting back and forth between the various Patriarchates and other episcopal sees on issues of jurisdiction and Latin vs Greek practices.

For the later medieval period, see Miklosich and Müller's Acta Patriarchatus Constantinopolitani, Acta et Diplomata Graeca medii Aevi Sacra et Profana.
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« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2012, 10:46:27 AM »

Did Antioch appeal to Alexandria during the Meletian problem, or did St. Athanasius take the initiative in that one? Anyway, one instance of appeals to Constantinople that comes to mind...

Quote
And if a clergyman have a complaint against his own or any other bishop, let it be decided by the synod of the province. And if a bishop or clergyman should have a difference with the metropolitan of the province, let him have recourse to the Exarch of the Diocese, or to the throne of the Imperial City of Constantinople, and there let it be tried.

-- Fourth Ecumenical Council, Canon 9
IIRC, there was a quote from St. Basil of Cappodocia talking about settling the schism in Antioch, referring to it as the head.
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« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2012, 11:14:31 AM »

Well ~ the Diocese of Rome is going to have to "invite" your letter and you have to be "welcome" to write them. Otherwise they prolly receive hundreds of letters a day.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2012, 11:14:54 AM by WPM » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2012, 11:33:00 AM »

Also, see some of the canons of Antioch, Carthage and Sardica. There are a few having to do with how bishops should relate to their Metropolitan (appeal to him) and also how bishops should relate to and send appeals to the Emperor. Starting in the fourth century, it was FAR more common to appeal a serious conflict to the Emperor than it was to any See, actually.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2012, 11:33:33 AM by pensateomnia » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2012, 11:07:42 PM »

Also, see some of the canons of Antioch, Carthage and Sardica. There are a few having to do with how bishops should relate to their Metropolitan (appeal to him) and also how bishops should relate to and send appeals to the Emperor. Starting in the fourth century, it was FAR more common to appeal a serious conflict to the Emperor than it was to any See, actually.

A good example would be how Pope Boniface I twice was forced to appeal to Emperor Honorius to settle issues. The first was the issue of his election, which took place after Eulalius was selected by a faction of the Roman clergy to be the bishop of Rome. The second time, he appealed to Emperor Honorius in an attempt to have Emperor Theodosius II rescind his law transferring jurisdiction over Illyricum to Constantinople.
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« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2012, 07:04:55 AM »

I am starting this thread so that the kind denizens of OrthodoxChristianity.net may post or link to citations from the early Church illustrating how appeals were made to bishops other than that of Rome.

Thanks,
T.

Hey Trebor, good to see you again. Didn't Eutyches sent his petitions to Rome, Ravenna, Alexandria, Thessalonica etc?
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