Rorate Caeli

What If This Year...

...for the Feast of St. Andrew (patron of Constantinople), the Pope had restored the Patriarchate of Constantinople? By appointing a Catholic as Patriarch, that is what Pope Leo XIII did for the venerable Church of St. Mark in Alexandria: "We ... from the plenitude of apostolic power restore the Catholic Patriarchate of Alexandria and establish it for the Copts. ... To us it is most desired that the dissenting Copts look upon the Catholic Hierarchy in truth before God; that is to say the hierarchy which on account of communion with the Chair of Peter and his successors alone can legitimately restore the Church founded by St. Mark, and alone is heir of the entire memory, whatever has been faithfully handed on to the Alexandrian Patriarchate from those ancient forebears." (Acta Sanctae Sedis 28, p. 257-260, anno 1895-1896) 

"The plenitude of apostolic power," said Pope Leo XIII: it would be temerarious to claim that the Bishop of Rome does not have the power to do what Leo XIII did at a moment when it appeared to him that many Copts would return to unity. No serious suggestion is being made here as to what Pope Benedict XVI should do for the feast of St. Andrew this year or next. But just as the Popes have varied greatly in their approach over the centuries to the schismatics of the East -- the Council of Florence treating the Patriarch of Constantinople and 60 Greek bishops as a legitimate deliberative voice with the Latins, even before the Greeks co-defined the Filioque with Pope Eugene IV, versus Leo XIII appointing a Catholic as Patriarch in the face of the schismatic Copt in Alexandria, versus Vatican II-era Popes and their well-known gestures and messages to objectively schismatic Patriarchs -- so also the Greeks have not been as monolithic over the centuries as sometimes supposed. 

For example, John Bekkos, as a result of his study of "Latin" doctrine and the Holy Fathers, professed the truth of the Filioque and the Roman primacy, becoming Patriarch from 1275 to 1282 in full communion. The witness of his life would make it slanderous to accuse him of some sort of sellout for political reasons, and he professed the following in a document sent to the Bishop of Rome: “the due reverence of our obedience; the primacy of the Apostolic See; the highest and perfect primacy and principality over the whole Church catholic; the plenitude of power; to the same, all Churches are subject, and their prelates owe [to the Apostolic See] obedience and reverence." In addition, in line with Pope St. Gregory the Great, he professes that the Roman Church had confirmed and strengthened the privileges of other Churches. (PG 141: 945-950)

And even the Byzantine "hermeneutician of rupture" St. Symeon of Thessalonika could recognize the power, in principle, of the Pope, regardless of diatribes against alleged Latin heresies: "Let [the Latins] only show that the pope perseveres in the faith of Peter, that he is truly his successor under this aspect, and we acknowledge in him all the privileges of Peter, and we recognize him as the leader, as the head and supreme pontiff. ... Let the bishop of Rome only profess the faith of Sylvester, Agatho, Leo, Liberius, Martin and Gregory, and we will proclaim him truly apostolic and we will consider him the first of the pontiffs and we will obey him not only as Peter, but as if he were the Savior himself" (PG 155: 120-121; the original Greek is more accurately rendered in Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique 14, p.2976-2984).


  1. Welcome back, Bonetus!

  2. Unfortunately, due to Latin influence, the Catholic Copts have de-stabilized their liturgical tradition and made it almost unrecognizable as compared to the ancient and true Coptic Liturgy celebrated by Coptic Orthodox.Like the heavily-latinized Maronite Liturgy, it resembles Novus Ordo Missae in a "funny" language as the priest faces the people, among other abuses.

  3. I wish to commend Bonetus for drawing attention to a very subtle yet very dangerous error. That is, the schismatic churches of the east do not have formal apostolic succession. They are only ''true particular churches'' in a material sense, i.e.: they have valid priests, bishops etc. But this is only the skeleton of a particular Church, since it is not grafted onto the true vine, Jesus Christ, through the Catholic Church.

    Thank you for pointing out the fittingness for such Sees to be restored. It was never the will of God for the Church to be Western only.

  4. Alphege11:46 PM

    It would be disingenuous to consider the positions re the Byzantines and the Copts analogous. The Copts reject the Council of Chalcedon and thus, at the time of Leo, were thought heretics (subsequent dialogue has elucidated that their theology is not, actually, monophysite). The Eastern Orthodox, by contrast, have always been held by we in the West to be in schism first and heresy second, the heresy being their rejection of the Petrine Office and their refusal to acknowledge the Filioque (check the Union of Brest: Byzantines are not required to confess filioque, only acknowledge its orthodoxy).

    As such, the two are hardly analogous. There is, however, a good point that we stretch out our arms to the Orthodox and receive only spittle and blows in response.

    For instance, Constantinople has, in recent years, established an exarchate in Venice, and the Russians a parish in Rome. For all their talk of an agreement with us not to seek converts, it is abundantly obvious what they are doing.

    If by their fruits ye shall know them, then the 'Eastern Orthodox' are rotten to the core. From their utter hatred of all things Latin and their sneering at the Latin Fathers, to their constant manipulation of their own tradition to present it as as different from the Latin as possible, to their slippery triangulation on contraception, it is very clear that, for all the good intentions some few of their hierarchs (I think particularly of the Patriarch Bartholomew and Metropolitan Ware of Diokleia), the majority seem implacably opposed to Rome and determined to see her utterly destroyed.

  5. Fr Mark12:20 AM

    Patriarch John IX Bekkos was not present at the Council of Lyons. He became patriarch after it had finished, having been converted by his reading of pro-Union theologians while in prison for...opposing the union. No high ranking ecclesiastics were present at the Council, the byzantine delegation being mainly composed of civil officials, and there was no serious debate of the theological issues involved.

  6. I have to wonder, what would be the point of this? No group of Eastern rite Catholics have made a request for a unique hierarchy and structure to be established in Istanbul. Is it reasonable to think that schism by another church eliminates that church's place entirely? At Lyons and Florence the Eastern churches were greeted as legitimate ecclesiastical bodies, although those agreements eventually failed.

    I am somewhat inclined to agree with Alphege's sentiment though. Much of Eastern Orthodoxy, at least in the last century, is quite evil. The Russian Church, aside from a few bishops who were brought into line, has been a state puppet since 1917. "St" Tikhon was quite quick to call his church a natural ally of the Communist state. KGB infiltration also means a lot of clergy in the former-Eastern bloc states are invalidly ordained. Quite ironic, given that many Orthodox, particularly back in the old country, have a weak understanding of Holy Orders and believe that not being in the Orthodox communion invalidates one's priesthood.... Petty and sick

  7. I'm sorely puzzled by the how one hopes to heal the wounds of centuries of sin and division by gratuitous statements, no matter how clever. The Successor of St. Peter is Vicar of the Good Shepherd. What does leading the sheep with care involve?

  8. Very true +Gullickson; but, unfortunately the power of sin and separation are against us.

  9. Truth Seeker5:19 AM

    And what if the Patriarch of Constantinople were to appoint an Orthodox Bishop of Rome?

    If the second is ugly and spiteful, so is the first.

  10. Andre5:29 AM

    Thomas, leading the sheep with care involves firstly affirming the truth, and secondly, do to so by means of charity.

    Of course, it does no good to needlessly provoke schismatics to anger...but if that inevitably results from affirmation of the Catholic Faith, then so be it. One does not lead the sheep by giving credence (whether by action or omission) to the branch theory, or to give theological credence to schismatic churches as being legitimate branches of the Universal Church.

    What better way to show care for the sheep than to restore a long extinct and venerable See?

  11. Not Again6:44 AM

    Sorry but this strikes me as another case of wag the dog. There are serious problems in the Catholic West, the Traditionalist movement is bogged down....therefore let us attack the Orthodox East!

    " The Russian Church, aside from a few bishops who were brought into line, has been a state puppet since 1917. "St" Tikhon was quite quick to call his church a natural ally of the Communist state. "

    Complete and utter slander. Is this how we are going to defend the Catholic Church? St. Tikhon courageously defended the Russian Church against Communism and there is good reason to believe that he was poisoned to death. The man who sold out the Russian Church was Patriarch Sergius Stragorodsky, and he did so only after virtually the entire Russian hierarchy had been eliminated.

  12. OutsideObserver6:56 AM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  13. OutsideObserver7:01 AM

    It is important to note that Rome did not restore the Greek Patriarchate of Constantinople in the 18th and 19th centuries, even when she could easily have done so.

  14. Alphege:

    "to their slippery triangulation on contraception"

    Could you elaborate on this? Or anyone who knows about it? Links are also welcome.

  15. Fr. Mark, Joseph Gill's Council of Florence is now available after long has been out of print.

    You should read it to be informed.

  16. You are right, Your Excellency.

    I must say, in any event, that I am truly disturbed at the - this time the word can be used with certainty - gratuitous attack on Traditionalists by Abp. Müller in his text published in OR on Nov. 29. There have been no earlier and greater supporters of the "hermeneutics of continuity" than Traditional Catholics (it suffices to look at the very first posts of this blog). Some Traditionalists have been less receptive of the notion, but it has been welcomed by all. And now the Abp. GRATUITOUSLY puts Traditional Catholics on the same level as those who deny every single doctrine under the sun?... Now, THAT is a gratuitous comment.

  17. Dear NC,
    What can I say? Certain things are beyond me. Maybe being in the midst of this reality in Ukraine, it touches me more closely. We'll have to leave it at that.

  18. I would just add that Bonetus is the pen name used by a very learned theologian for his posts - and that this one is probably intended just as a minor provocation. He naturally knows that his is a purely theoretical proposal.


    Our great love to our Catholic and non-Catholic brethren in Ukraine as they commemorate the Holodomor these days.

  19. Alphege12:48 PM

    beng: I have no links for you, but it is well-known that while the Patriarch of Constantinople Athenagoras (1886-1972) upheld Humanae Vitae as the teaching of the Fathers, many Orthodox hierarchs, principally though not exclusively in the West, now hold that the teaching against contraception is a matter of 'oikonomia', which literally means "house-keeping" and in effect means that it is at the discretion of the bishop to dispense with or uphold at his discretion.

    I have found many Orthodox online are quite open about their negative view on Humanae Vitae and the present position of Eastern Orthodoxy on the subject.

  20. I am shocked to find so much hatred towards the Holy Orthodox Church! The Latin Church is in a terrible state and people instead repairing its own house attack their brothers. There are so many vicious statements, but I will correct only one. Russian Orthodox Church asked Rome to stop proselytizing for a good reason. Catholics who lover their Church should realize that Holy Rus was, is and will be Orthodox forever. Second, the Orthodox Church is NOT trying to convert people in the West. The Orthodox Church simply cares for its own flock. Due to geopolitical tragedies in recent two decades, many Russians are now living in the West. Simple as that, stop being paranoid. Pax Christi!

  21. Some of the evaluations here of Orthodoxy are far over the top: "evil" and "rotten to the core"; good grief.

    No doubt there are viciously anti-Catholic voices online; no doubt some Orthodox offline have been very clear, to the point of lacking charity, about their feelings on the Western Church. But I can tell you that what I hear preached week in and week out is love, humility, repairing our own souls, and following Christ, with nary a word about Catholicism.

    There are historical reasons for why the step suggested here hasn't been taken. The Great Schism was a split which left two Churches of broadly similar (Catholic) sensibilities that I believe are still shared today, and which nearly all other Christian organizations have abandoned. It is a sui generis situation.

    The place to do as Bonetus has suggested, if there is one, is Britain. Both Catholic and Orthodox should be able to agree that Canterbury has departed far from the Catholic, Apostolic Faith and become wholly Protestant.

  22. What if the church finally and sensibly cancelled The Vatican Councils?