Sunday, December 16, 2018

Orthodox Synaxis: The Special Bishop of Caesar

This overview of the history of the Patriarchate of Constantinople reveals much of the psychology behind why that church caused so much harm to Orthodoxy in the Middle East and the Balkans during the period of Ottoman rule, when the direct oppressors were more often Phanariots than Turks.

While criticism of the close relationship between the Russian Church and state is (with good justification!) common, less attention is paid to the fact that the Patriarchate of Constantinople exists and claims primacy solely due to its relationship with now-extinct civil authorities. But it is only this history that can explain much of Constantinople’s modern-day behavior. There is, to put it bluntly, an emperor-shaped (or, more accurately, a sultan-shaped) hole in Constantinople’s heart that forces Ecumenical Patriarchs to court the support of the most unexpected worldly powers, from Harry Truman in Athenagoras’ day to Petro Poroshenko today. Writing in 1911, the English Roman Catholic scholar Adrian Fortescue sketched the pathos of Constantinople’s role as ‘the special bishop of Caesar’ with equal erudition and acerbity:

Read the rest here.

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