Saturday, February 01, 2014

Will Constantinople Ever Repent of Its Ecclesial Pretensions?

Posted by a member at Catholic & Orthodox: Steps Towards a Reunited Church:

So far on the poll at least 93 people identify themselves as Catholic (Latin & Eastern) and Eastern Orthodox. By default all of these and the majority of the ones yet to vote (as this is mainly a Catholic-EO reunion group) accept Chalcedon and recognize the line of the Chalcedonian Patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch as the legitimate successors of those Sees. I've posted an Oriental Narrative on Chalcedon before in response to related topics but we've never had a thread about it. Chalcedon still prevents 'the two arms of Orthodoxy' from reuniting even though they both agree that they believe the same thing but say it in different ways. In my opinion, the political, historical, and ecclesiastical implications of Chalcedon are more preventative of reunion than the formulation of the doctrine that was affirmed. I just wanted to get your thoughts on this and how we can realistically approach ecumenism with the Orientals also. Is reunion possible without the Orientals accepting Chalcedon? By the way I will post the symbolism in the Syriac Liturgy of St. James soon because in my opinion it's very beautiful and I think you guys will like it. Anyway, without further ado here is a summary of an Oriental narrative on Chalcedon:

In 324 AD, Byzantium, renamed Constantinople in 330, became the capital of the Roman Empire. The city's ecclesiastical community naturally began to rise in prominence and authority. The church in Constantinople had previously been under the jurisdiction and authority of the Metropolitan Bishop of Ephesus before becoming the church of the capital city of the Roman Empire. This rise in authority was happening at the expense of Alexandria and Antioch which were the Sees of the East, with Alexandria having primacy, being second only to Rome in all of Christendom; these three, Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, are the Petrine Sees in order of primacy. A rivalry had begun to brew between Alexandria and Constantinople in the East.

Driven by power and political gain, the Synod of the Oak was called for in 403 by the Pope of Alexandria Theophilus and the Empress Eudoxia that deposed St. John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople.

The defeat of Constantinople by Alexandria again at the Council of Ephesus in 431 where Pope Cyril of Alexandria anathematized Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople for heresy was another blow to Constantinople by Alexandria.

Constantinople, aiming to officially and finally consolidate its position in Christendom as the capital of the Roman Empire to have primacy in the East, achieved its goal at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. This was retribution against Alexandria by the rising See of Constantinople. The result of Chalcedon was widely expected as some think that the only reason this council was called together was to officially rank Constantinople second only to Rome in all of Christendom and to de facto remove Alexandria as a heretical See due to its Miaphysite position. The council is called 'the conspiracy of Chalcedon' by some. Rome even initially rejected the 28th Canon of Chalcedon, seeking to protect Alexandria and Antioch's positions and authority.

The jurisdiction of the See of Antioch, also a predominantly Miaphysite See at the time, was reduced by the establishment of Jerusalem as a Patriarchate at Chalcedon. Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem, was known in history to have been an opportunist. He sided with the Chalcedonians with the intention of promoting his own See at the expense of Antioch. Also, Juvenal put in his vote of condemnation against the Pope of Alexandria Dioscorus at the Council of Chalcedon although the two had previously been close friends.

In other words the Council of Chalcedon got Alexandria out of the way and officially ranked Constantinople above all the Eastern Sees and reduced Antioch's power by making Jerusalem an independent See all by the authority of an 'Ecumenical' Council. The Council of Chalcedon's main purpose in the Oriental perspective was to promote the See of Constantinople above Alexandria and Antioch by anathematizing them and reducing their authority.

This was followed by almost constant persecution of the Miaphysites of Egypt, Syria, and Armenia by the Chalcedonian Roman Empire causing many to seek refuge in neighboring rural areas such as the Egyptian Desert and Transjordan.

In the 6th Century, the Ghassanid Kingdom, an Arab Christian vassal state of the Roman Empire, is credited to have revived the Syriac Church, the Ghassanids themselves being staunch Miaphysites. The Muslim invasions which began in the 7th century brought even worse periods of persecution against the Oriental Communion that have not ceased to this day.