Monday, December 30, 2019

The Melkite Patriarchates' Response to the Council of Florence

As we saw in the account of David of Damascus' appeal at the end of the 9th century, the pattern of the 'Melkite Patriarchates'-- Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem-- coordinating their own affairs, with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem at the center is a constant from the earliest period of Islamic rule (or, arguably even earlier, with Jerusalem's role in the struggle against Monotheletism) until the arrival of the Ottomans, which roughly coincided with the foundation of the Hellenic Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher. One of the more consequential decisions taken by these patriarchates was their rejection of the Council of Florence in 1443. As Orthodox Synaxis explains:

In early 1443, Arsenios, the Metropolitan of Caesarea of Cappadocia, which was in Constantinople’s jurisdiction but in territory long under Muslim control, visited Jerusalem ostensibly to venerate the holy places. It seems, however, that his real motivation was the trouble he was having with his suffragan bishops who had been appointed by the unionist Patriarch of Constantinople, Metrophanes II. Once in the holy city,  Arsenios appealed to Patriarch Joachim of Jerusalem against his patriarch and bishops, so Joachim called a council to address the issue, which was attended by Patriarchs Philotheos of Alexandria and Dorotheos II of Antioch. This council ruled in Arsenios’ favor, not only provisionally excommunicating and suspending all unionist clergy from holy orders until an ecumenical council could be held, but authorizing Arsenios to act under their authority to preach Orthodoxy and impose penalties on such clergy anywhere without territorial restriction.

Read the entire account, translated from Archbishop Chrysostomos Papadopoulos' History of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem here.

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