Rorate Caeli

Schism in the Orthodox Church

From the Greek Orthodox website Mystagogy:
The Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem met on Monday 9 May 2011 regarding the resolution of the anti-canonical actions of the Patriarchate of Romania, which has built a church and hostel in Jericho without their permission.

The Holy Synod of Jerusalem, after an in-depth investigation, regretably decided to sever communion with the Patriarchate of Romania and crossed Patriarch Daniel out of the dyptychs.

In the 1990's during the days of Patriarch Diodoros of Jerusalem and Teoctist of Romania a church and hostel was being built by Romanians in Jericho without permission from the Jerusalem Patriarchate. The Patriarchate of Jerusalem protested these actions, but the Romanian Church continued the unlicensed building project, and today the church is even functioning liturgically.

It should be noted that despite the interruption of ecclesiastical communion, Romanian pilgrims are welcomed to visit the Holy Land and the Monasteries of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.


This is the first "interruption of communion" between two "canonical" Eastern Orthodox Patriarchates since the temporary severing of communion between Moscow and Constantinople in 1996.

34 comments:

  1. As is usual in such cases, the only church that is going to pay any attention to this is the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

    The Synod of Jerusalem seems to have a well-deserved reputation for the personal corruption of its members. So consider the source.

    For centuries the Russian Ecclesial Mission to the Holy Land functioned separately from the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and nobody did anything. The only question that developed was whether it belonged to the Moscow Patriarchate or Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, which matter was settled by their restoration to mutual communion in 2007 or so.

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  2. Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.

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  3. Anonymous5:04 PM

    Jack is actually mistaken. The Russian Ecclesiastical Missions, ROCOR and MP, both operated with the license and blessing of the local bishop, i.e. the Patriarch of Jerusalem, whom they commemorated as their local bishop. This was the case with the Romanians up until their building a NEW church on Patriarchal territory in spite of the protests of the JP. The Russians use churches built over a century ago blessed and consecrated by Jerusalem Patriarchs (as did the Romanians). As to the corruption of the Jerusalem Patriarchate I can only say that people in very glass houses should not throw stones.

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  4. Amos Menkel6:01 PM

    This is sad. There are no theological issues or liturgical issues that separate these two Orthodox churches, so why is communion affected? This talk about one Patriarch's territory versus another's is also distressing. Are not all territories possessed by God and Patriarchs merely the stewards of that trust? This is especially true in the middle east which is anything but a friendly place for any form of Christianity. Instead of working together to nurture the body of Christ, they divide the body of Christ for the sake of pride.

    Mary mother of God, pray for us, your concupiscent children.

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  5. Anonymous7:20 PM

    They'll end up like the Proddies.
    Good for their faithful, though; they'll be helped to understand which one is the right shop.

    Mundabor

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  6. If the enemy of my enemy is my friend, is the schismatic of a schismatic a Catholic?

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  7. Schism is not unknown in the Orthodox Church!

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  8. Abel Meyers8:54 PM

    "If the enemy of my enemy is my friend, is the schismatic of a schismatic a Catholic?"

    I know you mean this as a tongue in cheek comment, but actually, that's not far from the truth.

    The orthodox have been trying to call an ecumenical council to deal with the situation in America whereby there is no official American Orthodox Church. There are many foreign churches, but no American Church. This results in several practical problems such as differing rules in differing Churches. So you can be denied divorce in one Church but be able to go up to Orthodox Church next door and get a divorce, simply because it belongs to a different Patriarch. Doctrinally, there are also subtle differences between the Patriarchates such as on the issue of contraception (some have a Catholic perspective, some have a more Anglican view). The OCA (Orthodox Church of America) is recognized as an official Church by some members of the Orthodox communion, and not by others. There's also a power struggle between Moscow and Constantinople and between a total conciliar view of the Church versus a more primacy of honor view (with older Churches having more authority even if they are tiny and the newest Churches have the bulk of the Orthodox).

    These and other issues have to be dealt with. If the Orthodox can get their house in order and have an ecumenical council without being infected by "The Spirit of the Orthodox Ecumenical Council I", the Orthodox will be strengthen and any future reunion with Rome will likely have to accommodate whatever structure the Orthodox come up with in the council.

    If not, then the Orthodox will go the way of Anglicanism over the next 200 years. Schism will upon schism will result and the most Orthodox branches will eventually come to their senses and join Rome since it will be plain that without a tangible apolistic center, the gates of Hell will overpower it because the body of Christ will be too fragmented to resist. The schismatics of a schismatics will become Catholic (or Protestant).

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  9. What does schism/communion even mean in the eastern orthodox church if something like this is possible.... ?

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  10. Patrick10:58 PM

    A schism within schism. Please call it what it is: a schism with a heteredox "Church" (viz. Dominus Jesus).

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  11. Gideon Ertner11:28 PM

    You're kidding, right? Severing communion because someone built a church without permission?

    Now people may say a lot of things about the power of the Papacy, "universal jurisdiction" and the like, but at least it stops this sort of nonsense from happening.

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  12. New Catholic, lol.

    It was interesting to read this post. I was at a discussion over the schism last week and there was an Orthodox woman there. From some of her comments the issues from the break are as fresh for her as the Civil War is for some of our southern neighbors. Long memories of slights don't make for easy reconciliation.

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  13. trueenough12:45 AM

    On the other hand, you can look at it this way:

    When the need arises in the Orthodox Church for the breaking of communion -- whether for theological or canonical reasons -- they will not hesitate to break communion.

    Perhaps that is better than the Catholic practice of not breaking communion with bishops and priests who are non-Catholic in everything but name.

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  14. trueenough1:35 AM

    "Good for their faithful, though; they'll be helped to understand which one is the right shop."

    You mean the one that doesn't punish most bishops who advocate heresy, and that has imposed a Protestantized liturgy on more than 95% of its flock?

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  15. Today only the "Protos" can convene an Ecumenical Council.

    In these kinds of conflicts the office of the Protos is needed.

    The Protos as acknowledged by the Orthodox is no one but the Pope of Rome.

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  16. Loyolakiper2:36 AM

    Patrick said, "A schism within schism. Please call it what it is: a schism with a heteredox "Church" (viz. Dominus Jesus)."

    Thank you Patrick for your straight forward approach to this post... A schism from a heterodox church is not more than the many flavors of Protestantism that any one individual may come in contact with - who cares! As the Catechism of St Pius X : from the Ninth Article of the Creed

    20 Q: And why is the true Church called Roman?

    A: The true Church is called Roman, because the four marks of Unity, Sanctity, Catholicity and Apostolicity are found in that Church alone which acknowledges as Head the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter.

    Or elsewhere the saintly Pontiff explains in the same Catechism:


    11 Q: Who are they who are outside the true Church?

    A: Outside the true Church are: Infidels, Jews, heretics, apostates, schismatics, and the excommunicated.

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  17. You mean the one that doesn't punish most bishops who advocate heresy, and that has imposed a Protestantized liturgy on more than 95% of its flock?

    Yes, that one. The only One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church there is.

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  18. Anonymous7:38 AM

    These things happen and will be healed by the Holy Ghost in the fullness of God's time.

    One thing is certain: neither side are going to make any radical changes to their liturgical praxis.

    Rome may have a superficial unity, prefering to turn the proverbial 'blind eye' where it suits, but its liturgical praxis in 99% of Roman rite celebrations is excecrable and an abomination.

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  19. "The Spirit of the Orthodox Ecumenical Council I" - Abel Meyers


    LOL LOL That's a good one.

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  20. It is clear from some of the comments that there is little understanding of the inner life of the Orthodox Church. Administrative Schisms do not affect the inner sacramental life (viz. the "Bulgarian Schism" from 1872-1945), as is evident from the statement that Rumanian pilgrims will still be welcome at the Holy sites. These type of "schisms" happen all the time in Orthodoxy and while regretable and perhaps even scandalous, do not disrupt the Unity of the Church. If one looks at history, you will see that this has been going on since the beginning. Local Churches would , from time to time cut off other local Churches for various reasons. When the "Protos" was the Pope of Rome, appeal would often be made to him for a ruling. Now, the "Protos" is the Patriarch of Constantinople who, for a number of historical reasons, lacks the unbiased position once occupied by Rome. (and in fact, it was often the Emperor, not the Pope, who called councils) So, in Orthodoxy, the Faith continues on while the Hierarchs deal with mundane administrative issues. The situation in America is a mess yet all Orthodox in America recognize each other as Orthodox. A member of the OCA can commune without a problem at a Greek Church and vice-versa. So also with Russians, Serbians etc. The situation in America will eventually work itself out (and is already beginning to do so) but like everything else in our Church will likely take a long, long, time with lots of fits and starts.
    Fr. David
    Russian Orthodox

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  21. Igumen Gregory11:50 AM

    Schism is a rather over the top word for this current breach of commemoration. a truly schismatic church would have no communion with any of the other Orthodox Churches. I would include this present situation more in the category of a "hissy fit."

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  22. \\I would include this present situation more in the category of a "hissy fit."\\

    Well, put, Igumen Gregory!

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  23. Anonymous2:22 PM

    A 'hissy fit' this may be, it does show once again how awfully difficult the organisational structure of orthodox christianity is. Most autocephalus churches really act as if they are separate churches, in exactly the same way as there are many separate protestant churches in the west that just happen to have no real theological quarrels, but are otherwise completely independent.

    That there is a Romanian church is in itself strange (the Church in Romania, of course; but why should each country set up shop for itself?), that it feels the need to set up separate structures in the Holy Land is ridiculous. Either there is one Church, or there are many churches - lower case intended.

    A this situation is not without dangers: if many local/national hierarchs do whatever they please, it's just a matter of time before some go overboard, maybe even theologically. And never mind formal reunion with the Catholic Church: it migth be difficult enough to reach a proper understanding with one representativy of orthodoxy, it would be utterly impossible to do so with every last bishop.

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  24. How I wish that all the Orthodox will come back to Rome and end this awful schism that has lasted a thousand years. Simply put, Rome needs them and they need Rome. Their entering the one, true Church would bring such a breath of new life to all concerned.

    I am always reminded of the words of the great Dom Gueranger who famously wrote (in The Liturgical Year) that when the Orthodox come to Rome, the Mohammedans will shortly follow. It's a fascinating thought. And I often wonder if that idea was at the heart of the Virgin Mary's "consecration of Russia" request back in 1917.

    In any case, I still pray for an end to that unnecessary, thousand year old schism.

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  25. Anonymous4:30 PM

    "You're kidding, right? Severing communion because someone built a church without permission?

    "Now people may say a lot of things about the power of the Papacy, "universal jurisdiction" and the like, but at least it stops this sort of nonsense from happening."

    Apparently a clarification needs to be made for Roman Catholic sensibilities: a church may not be built in a diocese without the permission of the ordinary. This was done by the Romanians, protests were made and canonical remedies were taken. The Jerusalem Patriarchate conveniently lists the pertinent canons for you canon lawyers: 31st of the Holy Apostles, 5th of the Synod of Antioch and 10th of Carthage see: http://www.jp-newsgate.net/gr/2011/05/09/3352/ . As for you historians, well you know this happened historically enough times that ancient canons were composed to address the abuse and the novel Papal "universal jurisdiction" had not quite yet jelled. Practically this action was taken to finally have the matter come to a head. I suspect within a month everything will be rosy again with the patriarchs expressing their fraternal affection.

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  26. Many ecclesial provinces in the Anglican Communion are in "impaired" communion with some "trendy" provinces like the TEC. This is nothing but schism administrative or otherwise. These schisms have affected the AC's sacramental life between Anglican churches and within Anglican churches. Anglicanism is looking for authority which sadly cannot be found within themselves. I don't see how Orthodoxy can avoid to fall into this mess as its flock deals with secularism. Without the Pope, the Roman Church should have become like the Anglican Communion as the Catholics have liberal, broad and traditionalist parties.

    Rome was once the Protos for all. Constantinople is now the Protos for the Orthodox, but how many times has Moscow done its thing without the Protos consenting?

    Perhaps the Orthodox should consider the original Protos?

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  27. As for you historians, well you know this happened historically enough times that ancient canons were composed to address the abuse and the novel Papal "universal jurisdiction" had not quite yet jelled.

    History shows, however, that the "novel" papal universal jurisdiction was "novel" only during the first century . . . .

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  28. Amos Menkel8:36 PM

    Ben Vallejo,

    The situation with Constantinople and Russia may find resolution soon enough.

    Constantinople is under heavy sanctions by the Muslims. They will not allow any new priests to be ordained and they will not allow foreign priests to enter. Unless things change within the next 50 years, there will be no Orthodox Church in Constantinople.

    Then what? The Bishop of Constantinople could move somewhere else and be a Bishop in exile, but a Bishop without a diocese is foreign to Orthodoxy. Without Constantinople, Russia will likely lead. After all, Constantinople was chosen only because it was "the new Rome". It was not part of the historic Sees yet it was given prominence over even Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria because it had secular prominence. A third of the Eastern Orthodox are Russian Orthodox, so by this criteria, Russia is the new "new Rome".

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  29. Anonymous3:02 AM

    These and other issues have to be dealt with. If the Orthodox can get their house in order and have an ecumenical council without being infected by "The Spirit of the Orthodox Ecumenical Council I", the Orthodox will be strengthen and any future reunion with Rome will likely have to accommodate whatever structure the Orthodox come up with in the council.

    The Orthodox are not capable of calling an ecumenical council. First, they could never agree among themselves as to what to accomplish with it. Second, in the thinking of the Orthodox, only the emperor can call a council, and there's no emperor.

    DJR

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  30. Anonymous5:55 AM

    @Amos Menkel & Anonymous 03:02

    I'd say another big part of the problem is exactly what you describe: the orthodox have a very heavy emphasis on the secular authorities, in a way. The 'new Rome' ideas of both Constantinople and Moscow are based on the secular influence those sees had in times long past, and completely ignore the theological aspects - St. Peter's see has primacy, and if he would have decided to base his see elsewhere, in an insignificant hamlet that was not the capital of the empire, that see would have primacy.

    Extending this logic, one wonders if the 'fourth Rome' shouldn't be NY City...

    It gets even more worrying when they want an emperor to call a council. Not only does that mean the functioning of the Church would be dependent on a secular institution, and one that has been gone for 7 centuries to boot, the lay authority it implies is, at least in this Latin's eyes, appalling. Especially since the vast majority of byzantine emperors were tyrants or otherwise utterly incapable.

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  31. Right! And that's why the Protos, the Bishop of Rome is now the only one with real authority to call an Ecumenical Council.

    The Anglicans floated the idea of an "ecumenical" council for their communion until someone pointed out that there cannot be one since the Pope is not Anglican!

    The Pope of Rome has authority to call the Orthodox to sit in a future council if they consent to do so. But this means the Orthodox would recognize the universal primacy and jurisdiction of the Pope.

    In an interview Pope Benedict XVI did not discount the possibility of a 3rd Vatican Council but said that this council will likely involve the Orthodox even more than in Vatican 2.

    Moscow cannot be a replacement Protos for Constantinople since by her past history, she is bound to create more division. Think of the status of the Ukrainians. It is in the best interest of Moscow and Rome (and all Christians) to make sure the See of Constantinople is able to perform its Apostolic mission in freedom. Thankfully both the Churches of Rome and Russia recognize this need,

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  32. Basheer Shubeita8:17 AM

    It is a pity!! Aren’t we all Christians? Didn’t the lord ask us to love each other? Why should the church (the group of believers) be divided on politics and areas of mandate?!!!

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  33. Igumen Gregory4:15 PM

    The comment that seems to imply if only the Orthodox would return to Rome betrays a lack of knowledge of Church History. None of the Orthodox Churches of the East were ever under the pallium of the Pope; rather we were in a state of communion with each other. Returning to Rome as some would put it does not guarantee an absence of heretical beliefs that are so common among the liberal wing of the Roman communion. Yes we have our problems, but then again so do you. In the meantime let us love one another and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

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  34. Anonymous2:33 PM

    Mr. Ben Vallejo... so much you need to learn about the ecclesiology of the Eastern Church or Greek Church... do not try to put your Latin thinking over this family issue of two Patriarchates... Protos... the Pope of Rome?

    Read the History of the Church and Councils especially the first five Ecumenical Councils taht you may know what you are talking about...

    Pinoy Orthodox

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