The Orthodox Question: Why Catholic and Not Eastern Orthodox?

At some point, many people considering the Catholic Church face this question: “Why become Catholic, and not Eastern Orthodox?

After all, Orthodoxy can look mighty appealing. You get a lot of the things that are desirable in Catholicism — Apostolic Succession, visible authority, ecclesial unity, Tradition, beautiful Liturgy — without having to accept the pope or some of the Marian dogmas.  Sure, the Orthodox aren’t quite in full communion with the Catholic Church, but they’re close enough that, in the past, we’ve celebrated in the same churches.

From a Catholic perspective, converting from Protestantism to Orthodoxy is a move deeper into full Catholic union, in a way that converting from one Protestant denomination to another is not.  For that reason, I’ve been a bit hesitant to answer the “why not Orthodox?” question, for fear of making the perfect the enemy of the good.  As far as I can tell, we affirm everything that they affirm.  We just affirm more, and often in different language. So let’s look at a few of the things that the Orthodox affirm, and what the means for the question of being Catholic.

I. What the Orthodox Affirm

These are points that I’ve seen broadly conceded.  Because Orthodoxy is significantly less cohesive than Catholicism, I can’t guarantee that a given Orthodox believer will affirm these.  But here goes:

(1) Rome was Founded by St. Peter and St. Paul

Constantinople claims Apostolic Succession through the Apostle Andrew.  Rome has Apostolic Succession through both the Apostles Peter and Paul.  Both the Eastern Orthodox and the Catholic Church acknowledge each other’s Apostolic origins, and express this in a particularly beautiful tradition.  As Cardinal Seán O’Malley explains:

Duccio’s Calling of the Apostles Peter and Andrew (c. 1310)
The patriarch [Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the highest ranking member of the Eastern Orthodox Church] is very, very supportive of the cause of Christian unity. Each year he sends representatives to Rome for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. In addition, he receives the pope’s representatives on the Feast of St. Andrew. The brothers Sts. Peter and Andrew represent the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
This symbolic act already symbolizes an acknowledgement that Saints Peter and Paul founded the See of Rome (as countless early Christian sources attest).  And Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has not been shy on this point.  In 2007, when the pope’s delegation arrived to celebrate the Feast of St. Andrew, he said:
Today’s celebration is an invitation extended to both our Churches to the unity of the Cross. Just as our Lord Jesus Christ stretched out his arms upon the cross, uniting all that was formerly divided, so also his apostle, in imitation of his Master, stretched out his arms, gathering us all today and calling us to stretch out our arms upon the cross spiritually in order to achieve the unity that we desire.

Elder Rome has the foremost St. Peter as its apostle and patron. New Rome, Constantinople, has the brother of St. Peter, the first-called of the apostles, Andrew. Both invite us to the fraternal unity that they shared with each other and that can only be acquired when the cross becomes our point of reference and experience of approach. 
Let us, therefore, beseech these two brothers and greatest of apostles that they may grant peace to the world and lead everyone to unity, in accordance with the particularly timely troparion (hymn) today of St. Symeon Metaphrastes, Archbishop of Thessalonika: 
“You, Andrew, were first-called of the apostles;
Peter was supremely honored among the apostles.
“Both of you endured the cross of Christ,
Proving imitators of your Lord and Master,
And one in mind and soul. Therefore, with him,
As brothers, grant peace to us. 
Amen.

The Ecumenical Patriarch’s recognition of his own See, Constantinople, as New Rome, leads to my second point.

(2) Historically, Constantinople was Second to Rome

The four original Patriarchal Sees were all Petrine.  Jerusalem is where Peter first preached on Pentecost (Acts 2).  He then established the Church at Antioch.  He then established the Church at Rome, along with St. Paul.  His disciple, the Evangelist Mark, founded the Church at Alexandria.  Constantinople was added as a fifth Patriarchate, a controversial move initially opposed by the pope (but eventually accepted).  From Canon 3 of the First Council of Constantinople in 381:

Let the Bishop of Constantinople, however, have the priorities of honor after the Bishop of Rome, because of its being New Rome.

But in the controversy over adding a fifth Patriarchate (and above Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria at that), one thing was clear. Rome was number one.  Canon 3 only reaffirms this.  Constantinople leap-frogs over Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria, but it is explicitly second to Rome.  And its claim to fame for being one of the Patriarchates at all is because of its connection to Rome.  As the Protestant scholar Phillip Schaff noted:

It should be remembered that the change effected by this canon did not affect Rome directly in any way, but did seriously affect Alexandria and Antioch, which till then had ranked next after the see of Rome. When the pope refused to acknowledge the authority of this canon, he was in reality defending the principle laid down in the canon of Nice, that in such matters the ancient customs should continue. Even the last clause, it would seem, could give no offence to the most sensitive on the papal claims, for it implies a wonderful power in the rank of Old Rome, if a see is to rank next to it because it happens to be “New Rome.” Of course these remarks only refer to the wording of the canon which is carefully guarded; the intention doubtless was to exalt the see of Constantinople, the chief see of the East, to a position of as near equality as possible with the chief see of the West.

So the entire controversy over Constantinople’s place can’t obscure a central fact: the Roman See was number one in the world.
So the Orthodox acknowledge that in the ancient Church, Peter was the first of the Apostles, and the Roman See was the first of the Church.  Some sort of primacy existed.  Any Orthodox denying this is denying what the Ecumenical Patriarch concedes, or what the First Council of Constantinople concedes.

II. How to Resolve the Orthodox Question

Both Catholics and Orthodox understand the laity as the sheep to be led by God’s shepherds. The job of the laity isn’t to settle all the world’s theological disputes, but to have faith in what the Church teaches.  But which shepherd do the sheep follow if they start going in different directions?  I see three possible ways of determining an answer:

  1. Option 1: Follow your local bishop
  2. Option 2: Resolve each dispute on your own
  3. Option 3: Follow the See of Rome

Options 1 and 2 are very problematic.  And all three of these point towards the Catholic Church.

(1) Follow your local bishop

With Option 1, if the Orthodox bishops of Australia and New Zealand broke off communion, accusing each other of schism or heresy, the Orthodox believers of those countries would divide along nationalist lines.

This is problematic for two reasons.  First, regardless of which side was right, this approach would require laity on one of the two sides to embrace schism or heresy.  Second, Pope Benedict is Patriarch of the West.  So if you want to follow Option A, and you live in the West, go with the pope.

(2) Resolve each dispute on your own

Option 2 is the knee-jerk response by both Protestants, and Westerners generally: asking, “What do I think?” 

There are two problems.  First, it’s fundamentally inconsistent with the ecclesiology proclaimed by either the Orthodox or Catholic Church.  In neither Church is the laity left as the final authority on theological disputes.  This creates an immediate problem. If you should only follow the episcopacy if they’re right, and it’s up to you to determine they’re right, who’s leading who?  If the laity are going to be left to figure theology out on their own, much of the purpose of the visible Church is thwarted.  

Second, this points to Catholicism anyways.  Given everything that the Orthodox admit about Rome being founded by Peter, and about it historically holding a global primacy, the only remaining question is this: Was Peter merely primus inter pares (“first among equals”), or was he tasked with a ministry overseeing the other Apostles?  An Orthodox priest, Fr. John Maxwell, put the argument this way:

If the Roman view is to be believed, it is interesting to note that when the disciples disputed among themselves as to who would be the greatest, (Lk. 22:24-27), they seemed unaware that Christ had already picked Peter.

But look at the part Fr. Maxwell cites, in the broader context of Lk. 22:24-32:

A dispute also arose among them, which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For which is the greater, one who sits at table, or one who serves? Is it not the one who sits at table? But I am among you as one who serves. 
“You are those who have continued with me in my trials; and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you [plural], that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you [singularthat your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.

This looks very much like Peter was given a ministry to the other Apostles.  In fact, Jesus essentially says as much, using the language of commission.  So Peter had a special place that wasn’t merely honorary, but an additional commission. That’s the Catholic argument.

Additionally, Peter has the ability to speak on behalf of the Twelve, as he did in Acts 2, and Matthew 16:15-16, and so forth.  In fact, I did a five part series on Peter’s role in the early Church (starting here, with the passage I just quoted).  So I think Catholics can makes a very compelling case for Peter’s eclessial headship.  In other words, I think option 2 points towards the Catholic Church, too.

(3) Follow the See of Rome

If the Orthodox are right that Peter is the first of the Apostles (in some sense), that Peter founded and was the patron saint of the Church of Rome, and right that Rome was the first of the Churches (again, in some sense), then it would seem logical that if there was a dispute, believers should follow Rome.

This is also the only option that doesn’t guarantee Schism. Let me be more clear on that:

Benjamin West,
St. Peter Preaching at Pentecost
  • Under Option 1, any time a bishop or group of bishops goes into schism, the laity are dragged along.  The Body of Christ is torn apart, along juridical lines, into large chunks (which, of course, is exactly what happened with the Nestorian Schism and the East-West Schism).
  • Under Option 2, the whims of each Christian justify schism, so the Body of Christ is torn apart, along individual lines, into really tiny chunks (which, of course, is  exactly what happened in the aftermath of the Reformation)
  • Under Option 3, the whole Church stays together, holding to the faith of Rome.
So if Christ’s prayer for Church unity (John 17:20-23) is to be fulfilled, Option 3 appears to be necessary.  
I anticipate at least one objection: but what if the Roman See goes into schism?  The answer is easy.  If God can preserve the Church collective in the faith, preventing an Apostasy, He can certainly preserve the local Roman church in the faith.  In fact, for His promises to be meaningful, the Truth must not just be out there somewhere, but must be capable of being found by Christian believers.

68 Comments

  1. @Kevin again,

    The main worry I would have with the ‘truth is what counts’ argument is that we have an apparently similar situation in Scripture to consider: Mark 9:33-35 and similar in Luke. The arguing between our churches over who should be the greatest is entirely unedifying. Does the importance of having the truth justify it?

    Hence my sense that if one side or the other or both would make themselves ‘last and servant of all’ in humility, then they might end up being first.

    (Moreover, the appeal to the need for truth is what I’ve had to put up with from squabbling protestants for the past few years. The truth is that they detest each other but call it ‘speaking the truth in love’. I do sincerely hope the same intellectual warrior ideal is not so prevalent in your two great Churches. Truth is vitally important, but one must recognise an impasse. (As the Catholics did when their three popes became one).

    with love.

  2. Isa, is this what you’re thinking of?

    “288. The most devout Oriental bishops and those with them exclaimed:
    ‘Peter thinks like Peter. Orthodox one, you are welcome.’”

    I can’t find anything else that sounds like what you suggested. I’ve heard Protestants say that the Council said the same thing about Cyril as they did about Leo, but this is plainly untrue (though the praise Cyril for having the faith of Peter and Leo).

    I don’t know why Catholics should be surprised that the council emphasizes the Petrine origin of Antioch. This emphasis came from Leo and Rome to begin with because they wanted to uphold the dignity of the sees with the historic Petrine connection over the innovative claims of Constantinople.

    In terms of ecumenism, my question was whether the Orthodox feel any burden to seek the unity of all Christians? I appreciate that you would welcome other “Christians” who decide to become Orthodox, but do the Orthodox believe that they have any specific responsibility to seek unity with, say, Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, etc.?

    Tess,

    Thanks for your response. The bishop of Rome is considered to be “the servant of servants.” His authority does not come from being the “greatest” but from Christ. But your general suggestion may in fact be in appropriate way forward that would involve mutual submission, at least in some non-doctrinal matters.

    I don’t think that the Catholic who determines the bishop of Rome has authority is in the same place as the Protestant who seeks the religious community that comes closest to his personal interpretation of scripture. Sure, at the beginning of this process, they must both rely on their reason, on their reading of scripture and church history, etc. But in the end they discover something totally different: The Catholic discovers a real magisterial authority to which he must choose either to submit or reject, not simply a community that comes closest to sharing his own beliefs. His beliefs must at a certain point conform to the authority, and not vice-versa.

    I’d suggest that the connection of truth to Christian unity is not incidental but inherent. And I believe that God wants us to have both and would have wanted us to have both when He established His Church. It seems to me that Catholic Christianity provides the only viable road map forward to have both the fullness of faith in truth and Christian unity.

  3. “II. How to Resolve the Orthodox Question
    (1) Follow your local bishop
    With Option 1, if the Orthodox bishops of Australia and New Zealand broke off communion, accusing each other of schism or heresy, the Orthodox believers of those countries would divide along nationalist lines.

    This is problematic for two reasons. First, regardless of which side was right, this approach would require laity on one of the two sides to embrace schism or heresy. Second, Pope Benedict is Patriarch of the West. So if you want to follow Option A, and you live in the West, go with the pope.”

    The assumes the Faithful are not sheep, but serfs, and must go along with the owner of the pasture. Such is not the case.

    We do not have to theorize about “if the Orthodox bishops of Australia and New Zealand broke off communion, accusing each other of schism or heresy”: in the 1990s the EP, in part based on is attempt to turn canon 28 into the Orthodox Pastor Aeternus (i.e. heresy), formed the Estonian Orthodox Church. Estonia, however, belongs to the jurisdiction of Moscow, whose Patriarch at the time, Alexis II of blessed memory, happended to be Estonian bred, born, baptized, ordained, consecrated and speaking. When Pat. Alexis II told the EP to cease and disist, and Constantinople did not, Moscow responded by stricking the EP from the diptychs, i.e. broke off communion. Constantinople did not reciprocate. It Estonia some sided with Constantinople, others with Moscow. In Ukraine (also in the Patriarchate of Moscow) some sided with Constantinople, but Constantinople did not enter into communion with them. In Western Europe, some sided with Constantinople, some with Moscow, and some refused to take sides, which was the majority position in the Americas. The other 13 autocephalous Churches served notice that they were striking neither Constantinople nor Moscow from their diptychs, so they would be remaining in communin, so they had better resolve the matter between them, which was done in a month or so, and Moscow put Constantinople back in its diptychs and resumed communion.

    In 2004, a similar situatin erupted when the EP struck the Archbishop of Athens from the diptychs, supported by the Pope of Alexandria and the Patriarch of Jerusalem (both from the EP’s jursidcition in Greece), threatening to revoke the Tomos that regulates the jurisdiction between the autocephalous Church of Greece and the EP over Greece (another myth-Orthodox Church boudaries, following Caesaropapism, goes along political boundaries. Not necessarily so), and break communion with any bishop that sided with Athens. The other 11 Churches did not take sides, and like the Moscow-Constantinople split, it was resolved in a matter of months.

  4. Tess,

    The difference between identifying a person and a belief is at the core of the distinction between the Protestant and Catholic “problem”.

    How do you know your mother?

    How do you know an article of faith?

    With some nuance, the difference of the two questions will lead you down a profitable path. The first question implies belief(s), as does the second. The epistemic tools needed are different.

    Think about it one other way:

    How do you know Jesus is God?

    How do you know baptism is regenerative?

    Why do you reject Buddhism?

  5. Isa,

    I’m pleased to have real life examples to work with here. Can you use the examples that you raised and answer some of the questions I raised earlier about Orthodox eclessiology?

    Specifically, in the case of these various intra-Orthodox schisms, was one side not part of the true Church? Was salvation at risk in any way? Do these impact the Oneness of the Church?

    Thanks, and God bless,

    Joe

  6. Thank you so much Joe and Tikhon!

    Tikhon, do you view the modern Western canonized saints as illegitimate? And what if anything of the miracles whereby their intercession is the alleged conduit of God’s grace?

  7. Hi Joe!

    Last night I had a rather lenghty discussion with a Protestant friend (very low-church Anglican) on Apostolic Succession. One of his arguments against this was that even if the Apostles had some special kind of authority (something which he repeatedly denies, despite all the verses which point to it. He interprets the verses of the “binding and loosing”, “forgiving and retaining”, “keys” etc. as applicable to every believer, not just the Apostles) this would have immediately become moot at the death of the last Apostle.

    He refers to the casting of lots as a Divine selection of Matthias, not a human one (obviously it’s divine, but he wants to remove any human element) and says that, ever since, bishops were chosen by human beings and not by God.

    He also argues that Peter was chosen personally by Christ, not democratically elected in a conclave like most popes, and therefore the authority that was given to Peter was only given to him and not to successors since they were not personally elected by Christ Himself.

    He then pointed to all the leaders of the Old Testament being directly appointed by God, and makes the claim that it shouldn’t be any different in the New Testament. Therefore the democratic election of the pope disproves the papacy and the human appointment of bishops disprove apostolic succession.

    Any thoughts?

  8. Georg,

    There are at least two other modes of selection for ordination that I know of, described in the New Testament:

    (1) Acts 6:1-6 describes the selection of the first deacons. The Apostles permit them to be democratically chosen (v. 3), before they are ordained by the Apostles themselves (v. 6).

    (2) St. Paul mentions in Titus 1:5 that Titus was tasked with selecting and ordaining presbyters. Paul and Barnabas do the same in Acts 14:23.

    And of course, even in the case of the replacement of Matthias, while the final decision is done through casting lots, the group of believers chose the two candidates (Acts 1:23).

    So your friend’s argument would argue against the New Testament Church.

    God bless,

    Joe

  9. Thanks man, appreciate it!

    I mentioned some of the above, but I was just flabergasted to hear that he actually thinks those passages I alluded to are applicable to EVERY believer. That means that we (the laity) have the authority to not only forgive anyone’s sins, but also to retain anyone’s sins. At least, this is the only logical conclusioon to such reasoning.

    And in what manner could any believer possibly bind and loose things on earth to bind and loose things in heaven? Imagine all the competing binding and loosing – all 30,000+ of them!

    Anyway, thanks again!

    God bless!

  10. Hi Joe,

    I was just browsing through your blog and found this post! It’s a good post, but having had a bit of interaction with Orthodox, I feel that the focus is mostly Catholic thinking and doesn’t address the real issues Orthodox have from their perspective. I know the post is for people trying to decide between the two, but if such a person were to take these arguments to an Orthodox, I feel like the Orthodox would say, “Yes, you’re right; the primacy among the bishops is definitely with Rome. But …”

    An Orthodox friend of mine once told me that most Orthodox would probably feel the biggest difference between the two is Scholasticism, which most Orthodox are not too fond of. In other places I’ve read that Rome’s apostolic succession and primacy within the Church is unquestionable. But all of that takes second place since the Roman Church (in their view) fell to heresy (i.e. mostly in the doctrines of Scholasticism and papal dogmas.) As you pointed out, we affirm everything they do, but “We just affirm more, and often in different language.” But from my (limited) experience with the Orthodox Church, I feel this is the crux of the issue – we affirm more – and that “more” for them includes heresies. I don’t feel you really address that issue.

    Some of our “extras” to them are completely unacceptable, such as Papal supremacy and infallibility. (Notice that this, for them, is distinct from “primacy.”) Also, the filioque I think would come here.

    Other extras are often seen as possible, but “beyond what God had revealed to the Church.” I think Purgatory is often seen in this light. Some Orthodox reject them as entirely wrong, but others simply say it’s just either beyond our knowledge.

    I believe that other “extras” are seen as too much explanation; they prefer to leave things as “mysteries.” I think the Immaculate Conception and the details of “transubstantiation” (i.e. scholastic explanation of how the change takes place) would fall into this category.

    I’ve found only a few articles/blog posts that address these issues from a patristic/first millennium point of view. Some that I have found justify a concept that Orthodox already accept, but fail to address the “extra” that they think we’ve added. For example, I once saw a blog that argued in favour of the Immaculate Conception. The writer showed wonderfully how Orthodox believe in the “Immaculate Virgin Mary” but then left it that, thinking the issue was solved, forgetting to address the “conception” part, which Orthodox don’t accept.

    I would love to see a post that addresses these issues and really gets into the details of the real Orthodox objections to them.

  11. Jacob,

    You’ve got to be careful when you hear modern Eastern Orthodox folks making such comments. After Constantinople fell to the Muslims in 1454, the Sultan appointed ALL Patriarchs from then on, and made them pledge oaths to the Turkish state, including the duty to be rabidly anti-Catholic. As a result, open and honest communications has been shut off from the Eastern Orthodox until about 50 years ago. So for 500 years they’ve been fed a steady dose of anti-Catholicism, attacking anything that looks ‘strange’ to them, and this bias has become so ingrained that the average person will look with utter disdain upon Catholicism.

    If you look at actual substance of subjects discussed you will not see much of any consequence with the way Scholasticism frames the issues. It was during Scholasticism that the two Ecumenical Councils that temporarily united East and West were held (Lyons and Florence. If the issue is ‘going into too much detail’, that’s a myth, because EO fathers have done the same, particularly in Christological subjects.

    I’ve noticed the EO have a tendency to paint their side as Roses while painting Catholicism as a thoroughly corrupted manure pile. Be on guard for such exaggerations.

    1. Give some references for what you say? whatever history are you reading that says the Orthodox patriarchs had a duty to be anti-Catholic??? They were “fed” anti-catholicism?? It is a fact that the schism happened because the pope back then changed the Creed to include the Filioque WITHOUT the consent of the Eucumenical Synode. The pope has primacy, not supremacy, which means that he can change something only when the synode is in agreement, not impose his will on the other christian leaders. Read some history to see why Catholics are not popular. One historical fact is the siege of Kontantinople by crusaders, which the pope blessed, and the killing and atrocieties on the Orthodox population. Another historical fact is that the pope was systematically trying to introduce religious customs which were not acceptable to the Orthodox, he was trying to latinize them. How about the continuous attacks on Greek soil for example by the Venetians etc etc Read some history of Patras, Crete, both in Greece, I come from there and know my country’s history. It is a fact that the pope always sought secular power, all of them except for one, go and search to see who that was. There are ACTIONS that the POPE has done which give catholics a bad name, it has to do with HISTORICAL FACTS, not with vaguely being “fed doses of anti-Catholicism”. Catholics have slaughtered Orthodox, e.g. in Poland, under the “blessings” of the pope, has nothing to do with imagination…….

    2. Give some references for what you say? whatever history are you reading that says the Orthodox patriarchs had a duty to be anti-Catholic??? They were “fed” anti-catholicism?? It is a fact that the schism happened because the pope back then changed the Creed to include the Filioque WITHOUT the consent of the Eucumenical Synode. The pope has primacy, not supremacy, which means that he can change something only when the synode is in agreement, not impose his will on the other christian leaders. Read some history to see why Catholics are not popular. One historical fact is the siege of Kontantinople by crusaders, which the pope blessed, and the killing and atrocieties on the Orthodox population. Another historical fact is that the pope was systematically trying to introduce religious customs which were not acceptable to the Orthodox, he was trying to latinize them. How about the continuous attacks on Greek soil for example by the Venetians etc etc Read some history of Patras, Crete, both in Greece, I come from there and know my country’s history. It is a fact that the pope always sought secular power, all of them except for one, go and search to see who that was. There are ACTIONS that the POPE has done which give catholics a bad name, it has to do with HISTORICAL FACTS, not with vaguely being “fed doses of anti-Catholicism”. Catholics have slaughtered Orthodox, e.g. in Poland, under the “blessings” of the pope, has nothing to do with imagination…….

    3. Have you ever heard of of the massacre of the latins, where thousands of catholics were massacred by byzantine local population just because normans raided southern italy and converted local orthodox greeks into catholics??? thats why the sack of constantinople was triggered anyway. constantinople blamed Rome even tho it couldnt do anything to stop the normans and all hell broke loose. the hell which constantinople instigated and you blame the crusaders for the sacking and seeking of retribution ??? wow. and to say that orthodox never killed anyone is a lie. byzantines systematically killed and converted people to christianity in the middle east since the dawn of the eastern empire. serbs killed many muslims and catholics in bosnia and albania (ofc they say its only propaganda), and bulgarians did the same to remaining muslims in their country. and how many locals did russians killed during their expansion and forceful conversion of locals into orthodox (same tactics as the ottomans). if oriental christians had any power whatsoever they wouldve done the same, but they were neither numerous nor did they stand any chance against islam to pose a threat. the only thing emperor constantine did was making a false city of his own and elevating constantinople (highly influenced by proud greeks) to the undeserved prominence in christianity. and the only thing you orthodox talk about all the time is bad popes and the filioque clause which was explained by catholic theologians like 1000 times by now. and even orthodox claim that filioque is a weak clause for a dispute over west and east. and the Universal Church has nothing to do with popes and the magisterium but it has everything to do with the Faith and the Church instituted by Jesus Himself. the lord never said that all people will be holy in His Church he only said that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church. so if bad popes are to be judged its certainly not going to be done by you who is making one of the heresies by “casting the first stone”. so anti catholicism started in the early christianity since greeks didnt want to be under Roman rule in any way so starting from 4th century and constantine they paved the road for their own version of christianity that led all other eastern and oriental from the right path. it was nothing but pride, arrogance and ignorance from them that led many astray and from the right path.

  12. Hey Joe, Dan W here. I’m doing a report on Eastern Orthodox, so like most other seminarians, I’m starting with your posts. One thing I noticed that you stated in this isn’t true, at least as of 2006. In II. part 1), you say ” Pope Benedict is the Patriarch of the West.” Benny 16 renounced that title in 2006, in order to help ease the reunification of the two Churches. By preferring and emphasizing his title as Bishop of Rome, the pope can be more easily assimilated as the “first among equals.” Not that the pope is no longer leader of the western Catholicism, he just doesn’t wish to be called the Patriarch of the West. Papa Franky is following suit and really pushing the idea of himself as Bishop of Rome first.

    1. Dan,

      Thanks! I mostly agree with your comment, particularly the end. The pope remains the Patriarch of the West, and leader of western Catholicism: he just doesn’t use that title formally (I wouldn’t go so far as to say that he’s “renounced” it – it was dropped as one of the official title without comment).

      As you suggest at the end, it’s a matter of emphasis: the pope is Patriarch of the West, but that’s not the primary lens through which we view him.

      I.X.,

      Joe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *