Monday, May 29, 2006

Why Not an Orthodox Pope of Rome?

The Orthodox Church has appointed a bishop to fill an ancient patriarchate She considered vacant in Alexandria. Why not in Rome? Some fascinating discussion has broken out on Huw Raphael's blog on this very topic. A "Matt" wrote:
The thing I don't understand is why we don't declare the see of Rome vacant, and install a new Orthodox bishop of Rome.
"Bob Koch" wrote:
The sad thing is, that the Orthodox in Rome don't have the guts necessary to *be* Orthodox there. If there was actual courage, the faithful would have a *local* bishop. He would be Bishop of Rome. Yes, Pope. The Patriarch of Contantinople: instantly second fiddle. The Orthodox have simply taken for granted the lack of an Orthodox Pope. They dance around the hole in the Dyptichs, and the operating plan is for it to continue. If not Pope, what exactly *is* a bishop over the Orthodox in Rome?? No guts at all. The basis of Ecumenism.
Finally, our friend Jean-Michel wrote:
The fact being that Vatican is NOT in Rome. It's an independant State, with independant laws, police, secret service, banks, and so on. So there is not the least problem for Orthodoxy to have a bishop in Rome. Maybe yes, one, major: how to have a bishop celebrating in a foreign, alien rite, in the city of saint Gregory the Great?
A dashing, handsome chap posted the same question earlier on another forum.

The answer? Many will differ, but I believe it stemmed from practical, rather than theological, causes. Orthodoxy was in no position to appoint a new Patriarch of the West by the time the Great Schism was completely realized; it often had trouble replacing Eastern patriarchs martyred by the Religion of Peace. Most of the West willingly followed the Pope, leaving one to ponder for and by whom the See would be administered; until recent times, insufficient numbers of indigenous Orthodox existed to justify reconstituting a patriarchate. Orthodox feared a "proselytism battle" with the better-funded Roman Catholics. And finally, the (by then) more senior patriarchs may have bristled at the notion of seeing a newly reconstituted, "johnny-come-lately" patriarch becoming head of the Church, as well.

I'd be interested in hearing your answers -- but tell Huw first. If necessary, I'll listen in.

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Blogger Michele said...

The reasons are understandable, but the controversy remains. You shouldn't have Greek Patriarchs in Alexandria and Antioch, and none in Rome. So: or the the Patriarchates of Alexandria and Antioch cease to be, or a Patriarchate of the West should be erected.
But, as you say, it's a question of power: such a Patriarch would have the highest honour and the largest of the jurisdictions!

3:42 PM  

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