of the Conference of the Holy Metropolis of Piraeus
Topic: "Primacy," Synodicality and Unity of the Church
Peace and Friendship Stadium, 28 April 2010
"Papal ‘primacy' has no theological foundation, no legitimacy from the Holy Spirit and no ecclesiological legitimacy. It is clearly based on a worldly understanding of authority." This, among other things, was the conclusion of the theological conference which was organized by the Holy Metropolis of Piraeus in the Peace and Friendship Stadium (Melina Mercouri Hall) on 28 April 2010, and which was a success with many clergy and laity present.
The conference was also honored by the presence of His Beatitude Hieronymos, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, who also started the conference off. Also present were: His Eminence Seraphim, Metropolitan of Kythira; Pavlos, Metropolitan of Glyfada; and Melito, Bishop of Marathon.
The topic "Primacy," Synodicality and Unity of the Church was expounded upon in two sessions with seven speakers: His Eminence Seraphim, Metropolitan of Piraeus, Hieromonk Luke Grigoriatis, Prof. Aristidis Papadakis (University of Maryland), Protopresbyter George Metallinos, Protopresbyter Theodore Zisis, Protopresbyter Anastasios Gotsopoulos and Prof. Dimitrios Tselengidis.
From the presentations and the discussion that followed, it was concluded that: unity belongs to the nature of the Church as it is the body of Christ and communion in Him. The true Church is one. The unity of the Church in all its interpretations - structural or charismatic (grace-bearing) - clearly has its foundation in the Holy Spirit. It is extended mystically, but is maintained, fostered and apparent chiefly through holy communion.
According to the "Confession of Faith" of the Synod of Constantinople in 1727, "Therefore no other head whatsoever is accepted in this Eastern Church, save only our Lord Jesus Christ, from the Father given to the whole Church and its foundation." According to Orthodox ecclesiology, "primate" is not meant generally and indefinitely without the presence of the particular synod of a region.
The concept of a rank of honor (that is the term which Orthodox ecclesiastical tradition uses opposed to the subsequent term "primacy" that the papists use) expresses and ensures the unity and the synodicality of the Orthodox Catholic Church. The pentarchy of the patriarchal thrones is the form which the Church gave to the concept of a rank of honor during the first millennium.
The authority of the "primate," which derives from the rank of honor, is a fruit of synodicality, while the authority the bishop of Rome had already started to appropriate during the first millennium is a result of the abolition of the synodical organization of the Church.
In the Church of the first millennium there was no papal primacy "by divine right" in jurisdiction or authority over the whole Church. On the contrary, the Church had the right to make decisions about its administration without the Pope, even in spite of his strong opposition, and these decisions were universally valid.
After the schism of 1054, the increasing claim of the popes for primacy of authority over the whole Church completely subverted the structure of the mystical body of the Church inspired by the Holy Spirit. It makes synodicality (as a function of this body inspired by the Holy Spirit) relative - practically abolishing it - and introduces the worldly mindset to it. It nullifies the equality of bishops, misappropriates the complete administrative authority of the whole Church, essentially setting aside the Theanthropos (the God-Man) and making a man the visible head of the Church. In this way the ancestral sin is repeated in this institution.
True unity takes place when there is unity in faith, in worship, and administration. This is the model of unity in the ancient Church, which the universal Orthodox Church continues unchanged. Unia introduces a false unity and is based on a heretical ecclesiology, since it allows different forms of the faith and worship, and makes unity contingent on the recognition of the primacy of the pope, which is an institution of human justice, and undermines the synodical structure of the administration of the Church, which is an institution of divine justice. Multiformity is only acceptable in secondary matters of local traditions and customs.
After the First Vatican Council (1870) and especially the Second Vatican Council (1962-1964) papal primacy does not comprise a simple administrative assertion, but an essential dogma of faith absolutely necessary for the salvation of the faithful. Its denial incurs the anathema of the First Vatican Council, whose validity remains still after the Second Vatican Council.
As the host of the conference Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus emphasized in his introduction, "Due to the heretical and blasphemous doctrine of the primacy of the bishop of Rome and the spiritual ramifications which come from it (such as the "infallibility" of the Pope and his autocratic-monarchic despotism over the whole body of the religious community under him), Papism has developed into an autocratic-monarchic system of mystic ideology and perversion of the meaning of the Church. It has proven to be modern Roman-Frank ethnicism (paganismus) in a spiritual disguise, has taken away the mystical freedom in Christ of each of [the Church's] members and has turned out to be the inevitable and fateful cause of the falling away from the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church into hundreds of different heresies, and an insurmountable obstacle to their possible return."
At the assessment of the participants of the current theological dialogue between Orthodox and Roman-Catholics, its attempt at the restoration of ecclesiastical communion must somehow - beyond the elimination of the heretical teachings of Rome (Filioque, created grace, infallibility, purgatory, etc.) - aim also at the definite elimination of papal primacy and not at some commonly acceptable interpretation of it.
Finally, the syncretistic framework of "unity in diversity" is considered unacceptable and cannot become acceptable as "a model for the restoration of full communion."
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