The following is the English translation of the statement we made at the Conference on ‘The Orthodox Teaching on the Church and Contemporary Challenges’, which was held in Moscow on 26 October and organized by the Analytical Centre of St Basil the Great.
The Russian Orthodox Church suspended Eucharistic communion with Constantinople because of its politically-backed and therefore uncanonical support of schism in the Ukraine. The Russian Church has the canonical authority to do so, for by supporting schism Constantinople entered into dialogue with the anathematized, and so fell under anathema itself. But is this event a disaster or an opportunity?
We believe that this is an opportune time for the Russian Orthodox Church to re-emerge as the Church of the Third Rome. As before 1917, it can now assume leadership of Orthodox Christendom by agreement with the other twelve Local Churches. All of these are very small, but some are very ancient. This is unlike Constantinople, which only had a political claim to leadership, as the former capital of the Empire.
The ancient Patriarchates of Jerusalem, Alexandria and Antioch go back to the apostles and their voices in particular must be heeded. As Patriarch John of Antioch has said, we need a Council where all Orthodox can meet. We would say, as we have been saying for the past eleven years, that such a Council can take place outside Moscow, on the Istra: this will be the long-awaited New Jerusalem Council.
Archpriest Andrew Phillips
Dictatus papae is a compilation of 27 heretical statements of powers arrogated to the Pope of Rome and included in Pope Gregory VII’s register in the year 1075:
- The Roman Church was founded solely by God.
- Only the Pope can with right be called “Universal”.
- He alone can depose or reinstate bishops.
- All bishops are below his Legate in council, even if a lower grade, and he can pass sentence of deposition against them.
- The Pope may depose the absent.
- Among other things, we ought not to remain in the same house with those excommunicated by him.
- For him alone is it lawful, according to the needs of the time, to make new laws, to assemble together new congregations, to make an abbey of a canonry, and, on the other hand, to divide a rich bishopric and unite the poor ones.
- He alone may use the Imperial Insignia.
- All princes shall kiss the feet of the Pope alone.
- His name alone shall be spoken in the churches.
- This is the only name in the world.
- It may be permitted to him to depose emperors.
- It may be permitted to him to transfer bishops, if need be.
- He has the power to ordain the clerk of any parish he wishes.
- He who is ordained by the Pope may preside over another church, but may not hold a subordinate position. Such a person may not receive a higher clerical grade from any other bishop.
- No synod shall be called a ‘General Synod’ without his order.
- No chapter and no book shall be considered canonical without his authority.
- A sentence passed by him may be retracted by no one. He alone may retract it.
- He himself may be judged by no one.
- No one shall dare to condemn any person who appeals to the Apostolic Chair.
- The more important cases of every church should be referred to the Apostolic See.
- The Roman Church has never erred. Nor will it err, to all eternity–Scripture being witness.
- The Roman Pontiff, if he has been canonically ordained, is undoubtedly made a saint by the merits of St. Peter, St. Ennodius Bishop of Pavia bearing witness, and many holy fathers agreeing with him. As it is contained in the decrees of Pope St. Symmachus.
- By his command and consent, it may be lawful for subordinates to bring accusations.
- He may depose and reinstate bishops without assembling a Synod.
- He who is not at peace with the Roman Church shall not be considered ‘catholic’.
- He may absolve subjects from their fealty to wicked men.
Here, nearly 950 years later, is the speech of the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew, a graduate of the Gregorian University in Rome, started in 1551 by the founder of the Jesuits, and a well-known lover of and concelebrant with the Papacy, made at the Council of the Archbishops of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, held in Istanbul on September 1-4, 2018. His speech was not disputed by any bishop of the Church of Constantinople and was even met with general approval:
- “The Ecumenical Patriarchate is, for Orthodoxy, a leaven “which leavens the whole lump” (cf. Gal. 5.9) of the Church and of history.”
- “As the First Throne of Orthodoxy, the Ecumenical Patriarchate exercises a prophetic ministry, extending the mystery of the Catholic Church in Christ Jesus throughout the world in each era.”
- “In the beginning was the Word . . . in him was life, and the life was the light of men.” (John 1.1,4) The beginning of the Orthodox Church is the Ecumenical Patriarchate; “in this is life, and the life is the light of the Churches.” The late Metropolitan Kyrillos of Gortyna and Arcadia, a beloved Hierarch of the Mother Church and personal friend, was right to underline that “Orthodoxy cannot exist without the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”
- “…the Ecumenical Patriarchate … enjoys canonical jurisdiction and all apostolic privileges in its responsibility for safeguarding the unity and communion of the local Churches but also for the overall journey of Orthodoxy in the contemporary world and history. In this spirit, as President of the body of Orthodoxy, the Ecumenical Patriarch convened the Holy and Great Council in Crete in June 2016, the greatest ecclesiastical event in recent years.”
- “The Ecumenical Patriarchate bears the responsibility of setting matters in ecclesiastical and canonical order because it alone has the canonical privilege as well as the prayer and blessing of the Church and the Ecumenical Councils to carry out this supreme and exceptional duty as a nurturing Mother and birth-giver of Churches. If the Ecumenical Patriarchate denies its responsibility and removes itself from the inter-Orthodox scene, then the local Churches will proceed “as sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9.36), expending their energy in ecclesiastical initiatives that conflate the humility of faith and the arrogance of power.”
- “…We imagine that all of the Hierarchs serving within the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Throne know very well that the 4th Ecumenical Council, among other decisions, honored the exceptional privilege of “the right to appeal” (ekkliton) of the Throne of Constantinople with the decrees of its 9thand 17th Canons. Numerous instances of the exercise of this right to appeal by Hierarchs and clergy of other jurisdictions have been recorded through the centuries in the historical journey of the Mother Church. Worthy of mention here is the determination of the canonist Miodrag Petrovic, that “the Archbishop of Constantinople alone has the privilege to judge and adjudicate conflicts of bishops, clergy and metropolitans of other patriarchs.” (Nomocanon on the 14 Titles and the Byzantine Commentators, p. 206).”
- “The right reverend Bishop Kyrillos of Abydos, Professor at the National and Capodistrian University of Athens, a devout scholar of the written and spoken word, will address the unique privilege of the Church of Constantinople to receive the appeal of Hierarchs and clergy seeking refuge from all local Orthodox Churches in his presentation, entitled “The Privilege of Eccliton (Right to Appeal): Historical, Canonical and Theological Perspectives.” We gladly await his analysis of this subject…”