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Introduction By Father Andrew Harrison

This article dated October 14, 1915 about the position of the Orthodox Church toward the Roman Papacy came originally from the Guardian Newspaper in England. It was found folded up in an old book about the Orthodox Church. I was carefully scanned and parts had to be re-typed. There are words which are missing because they were undecipherable. The position of the Orthodox Churches is the same in response to offers by the Roman Pope to return to the fold.

Our Place In Christendom East And West - (Roman Catholic)
Lecture by: Dr. Frere
Source: The Guardian, October 14, 1915

The second of the series of lectures on "Our Place, in Christendom" which is being given on Wednesdays at the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields was delivered Frere, D.D., of the Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield. The subject was "East and West," and the following is the full text thereof.

It is little more than twenty years since Pope Leo XIII., on the occasion of his Episcopal Jubilee, issued an Apostolical Letter, Praeclara gratulationis, addressed to all princes and peoples (June 20th, 1894), and dealing with the subject of Christian Reunion. Two years later it was followed by a larger Encyclical on the same subject, the Satis cognitum of June 29th, 1896. 1 In the interval there appeared a reply in the form of a Patriarchal and Synodical Encyclical Letter addressed by the Great Church of Constantinople to the Metropolitans. Bishops, clergy and laity of the Patriarchate (August, 1895). Its object was to safeguard the Orthodox faith and piety against the renewed outbreak of Roman proselytizing in the East which followed upon the appearance of the former Papal Encyclical. 2

In these documents there is a restatement of the old divergence between the East and the West on the subject of the doctrine of the Church, the Divinely-appointed plan of Church government, and the practical solution of problems connected with doctrine and discipline alike.


There is no need to describe at any length the Papal view of the case, for in its main outline it is familiar to is all. Moreover the later of the two Encyclicals not only was met at the time by sharp criticism from our Anglican point of view,3 but it has since formed the basis of one of the most comprehensive and thorough replies that have ever been made among us to the Papal claims. 4 It is enough to note such familiar phrases as these used by Pope Leo in the; former letter: "We' are the Vicegerent on earth of God Almighty." "Until man put asunder what God had joined . . . East and West alike agreed unhesitatingly in obedience to the Roman Pontiff as the legitimate successor of St. Peter, and therefore the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth." Such phrases give but little idea of the warmth of charity and elevation of piety which breathe in the letter; but they bring into relief the Western and Roman conception as contrasted with the Eastern view.


That view is less familiar to us, and therefore, more time must be spent in making it clear. It is more congenial, and yet strangely less well-known. Indeed our Anglican conceptions of the nature of the Church and its government are, not infrequently more negative than positive, more controversial than constructive; and consequently a deeper appreciation of the Eastern standpoint has all the more value for us. The Greek Encyclical remarks how the Pope

"Invites our Orthodox Catholic and Apostolical Church of Christ to union with the Papal Throne, thinking that such union can only be obtained by acknowledging him as supreme Pontiff and the highest spiritual and temporal ruler of the Universal Church, as the-only representative of Christ upon earth and the dispenser of all grace." 5

After an expression of -no less eagerness for Reunion it continues:

Our Orthodox Church of Christ is always ready to accept any proposal of union, if only the Bishop of Rome would shake off once for all the whole series of the many and diverse anti-evangelical novelties that have been privily brought into his Church and have provoked the sad division of the Churches of the East and West, and would return to the basis of the seven holy Ecumenical Councils." 6

Some of the "innovations" are then discussed, and the old bones of contention are reviewed. We are now concerned only with one of these - namely the question of the Church and its government. This as Pope Leo truly said, is the main ground of difference between the East and the West; and-thereupon he challenged the Greeks to look back to the origins, and see what views on the subject were held by the early ages.


The Greeks took up the challenge and replied thus:

"Having recourse to the Fathers and the Ecumenical Councils of the Church of the first nine centuries, we are fully persuaded that the Bishop of Rome was never considered as the supreme authority and infallible Head of the Church, and that every Bishop is head and president of his own particular Church, subject only to the Synodical ordinances and the Church universal as being alone infallible, the Bishop of Rome being in no wise excepted from this rule, as Church history shows."

A discussion of the Biblical evidence follows, and is continued thus:

"Such, then, being the Divinely-inspired teaching of the Apostles respecting the foundation and Prince of the Church of God, of course the sacred Fathers, who held firmly to the Apostolic traditions, could not have, or conceive any idea of, an absolute Primacy of the Apostle Peter and the Bishops of Rome. Nor could they give any other interpretation, totally unknown to the Church, to that passage of the Gospel but that which was true and right. 7

After some further appeal to history the theory is thus expounded:

"Each particular self-governing Church, both in the East and West, was totally independent and self-administered in the times of the Seven Ecumenical Councils. And just as the Bishops of the self-governing Churches of the East, so also those of Africa, Spain, Gaul, Germany, and Britain, managed the affairs of their own Churches, each by their local Synods, the Bishop of Rome having no right to interfere and he himself also was equally subject and obedient to the decrees of Synods. But on important questions which needed the sanction of the Universal Church an appeal was made to an Ecumenical Council, which alone was, and is, the supreme tribunal in the Universal Church." 8


This brief statement of theory may with advantage be enlarged, and we can with profit turn to a modern Russian scholar for a further exposition of the matter. An excellent statement of Golubinsky, the latest historian of the Russian Church may be summarized thus: 9

"All Church government is composed of two elements, the one being of Divine institution, the other being customary and human. The former demands that every separate Christian community, large or small, should have its own hierarchy, consisting of Bishop, priests, and deacons; but beyond this all else belongs to the second category. Originally, every Church community, however small, if it had its own Bishop, was a completely independent church and a self-sufficient unit. The universal Church had ideally to bind these countless independent units into some association simply by the bonds of brotherly love. But in practice, and through human frailty, it was necessary that the Divine requirement should be supplemented by a human organization; and this took the form of the establishment of a system of subordination and administrative centralization, corresponding with the system of civil government. At the base of each of these systems alike there lie two main foundation principles - (1) that no community may force another into subjection to itself, and (2) that each may govern itself independently. In actual fact the Greco-Roman Church of the Empire developed, on its administrative side, as a human Institution, a system of centralization which in its higher stages culminated in five Patriarchates. These corresponded with the 'Dioceses' of the civil administration of the Empire and covered only the same Imperial area."

On these principles as we clearly see, the whole Church can only find expression by something greater than any Patriarch or any concurrence of all the Patriarchs. As the Encyclical says: "On important questions which needed the sanctity of the universal Church an appeal was made to an Ecumenical Council, which alone was and is the supreme tribunal in the Universal Church. 10


Such is the Eastern theory, and it concerns both doctrine and discipline. It may be viewed either historically or dogmatically; and since the Pope raised his challenge on the ground of history, and the East replied mainly upon that ground, we will deal with that side of the matter first. There are many occurrences in the long history, and many phrases in the documents concerned, which will necessarily be differently interpreted according to the presuppositions existing in the mind of the interpreter. It is no surprise, therefore, to find these claimed by each of the rival parties as evidence bearing on his side. But the decision between the two rival contentions is not to be made by merely balancing the evidence on one side against the evidence on the other. For the two contentions are fundamentally different in character from one another. The Papal contention is all-inclusive, and admits of no exception. "East and West alike, unhesitatingly, and always until the schism, obeyed the Roman Pontiff, as successor of St. Peter and Vicar of Christ." The Eastern contention does not involve any such universal statement. The contention is that there have emerged two views of Church government -- one ancient and federal, the other innovating and Papal; and that the former is right and the second wrong. In other words, the Papalist has to prove a universal negative; if his opponent can produce even a single good instance against him, the Papal case breaks down. From this point of view many of the common places of the controversy are merely irrelevant, while others only prove what neither party denies.


For example, there is plenty of evidence of the early appearance of that system of administrative subordination, of which the Eastern contention makes much. In the first century the respect for the Church of Jerusalem gave it a unique position, which in some degree survived its local transplantation after the destruction of Jerusalem. The precedence there given to St. James and his immediate successors seems to have rested on two kinds of respect, partly a reverence for the See and partly for the Bishops as kinsmen of our Lord. Hence Jerusalem, and the Church gathered there, had to make the earliest recorded formal decisions of the whole Church; and St. James presided and gave sentence. A similar respect for other Sees elsewhere led to the establishment of other rules of precedence. In one case it was the civil pre-eminence of some city that gave it position; in another case it might be its Christian history, and especially its connection with Apostolic labors and martyrdom. On both these grounds Rome acquired in the earliest days a unique position. But that fact does not necessarily imply that its position, or the position of its Bishop, differed from that of others except in degree. The Metropolitan Sees soon acquired a similar precedence over the lesser Sees within the same Province, generally following the lines of the civil organization, 11 but not uninfluenced by Christian history. It is no part of the Eastern contention to refuse such a precedence to Rome or its Bishop. But, on the other hand, if the Papalist is to prove his contention, he must be able to prove a title for the Bishop of Rome wholly different in nature and in origin from that of any other privileged Metropolitan.


We are at present directly concerned only with examining into the rightness of the Eastern contention, and there is nothing discordant with it in the stock passages of Clement, Ignatius, Irenaeus, and others in the second century. They are obiter dicta, not a little ambiguous, and pre-eminently the sort of passages which may be differently interpreted by different people according to their presuppositions. To the Eastern anyhow they present no difficulty. The Roman Church writes corporately a letter of reproof with strong moral authority behind it to its erring sister Church in Corinth. Certainly it was in all ways justified in doing so. Irenaeus speaks with great respect of Rome, both because of its Christian history and its civil pre-eminence, and because of the central position that it held in the West as the place to which people resorted from on all sides. What is more natural? 12


When we pass from these obiter dicta to action -and fact, the independence of local Churches which the Eastern contention asserts is seen in the action of that same Irenaeus. For when Victor of Rome excommunicated the Quarto-decimans of Asia (as he was confessedly at liberty to do if he thought wise), Irenaeus told him plainly that he was unwise in doing so; and neither he nor the Church at large followed Victor's lead in this matter. On the contrary, under pressure from Irenaeus and other Bishops whom he rallied to his side, Victor very prudently gave way.13 In these early days there is no clear sign of any rival view to that still held by the Eastern Church. To say the least, the texts and the events are as easily to be reconciled with it as with the rival Papal contention. The next century saw further development in the system of administrative subordination of which the Easterns speak. The position of Metropolitans and their Provinces became more clearly defined, and some steps were taken in the direction of the Patriarchs and Patriarchates of later days. The stages of progress in this development are not very clear. In the West, while some naturally look up to Rome and turn to it for guidance, others look towards Carthage, especially when so illustrious a chief as St. Cyprian presides there; and both Spanish and Gallic Bishops on occasion resort thither rather than to Rome.14 There is no difficulty in all this -- from the Eastern point of view at least. Nor again is there any difficulty when some Egyptians, dissatisfied about the orthodoxy of Dionysius of Alexandria, have recourse to Rome; and Dionysius in consequence justifies himself before his brother of Rome and a Synod held there. 15 The Egyptians were as free to call upon Rome as the Spaniards were to call upon Carthage. In another far more serious case of trouble, connected with the position of Paul of Samosata, the occupant of the great See of Antioch, the matter was settled in the East; and when it was settled, and another Bishop was appointed in his place, notification was sent round in a letter addressed to Dionysius (of Rome), Maximus (of Alexandria), and to all our fellow-ministers throughout the world, Bishops, Presbyters and deacons, and to the whole Catholic Church under heaven. In order to dispossess the deposed Bishop from his official house, recourse was had to the Emperor Aurelian at Rome, who decided that "the building should be given to those to whom the Bishops of Italy and of the See of Rome should adjudge it." 16 A later appeal to the Emperor in the case of the African Donatists produced a very similar result, for Constantine ordered the matter to be decided by three Gallic Bishops, in conjunction with the Pope and the Bishops of Italy. When the Donatists appealed against their decision the matter was referred to the Council at Arles. 17 Here again are events and documents which present no difficulty at any rate from the point of view of the Eastern contention.


We have reached the age of the Councils, and thereupon two things connected with the subject begin to become clearer. First, we see more plainly the stages of the development in organization; and, secondly, we notice a growing dissatisfaction in home with the existing state of things, and increasing attempts to alter them for its own advantage. With regard to the first point -- the principle of utilizing the civil system as a model for the ecclesiastical is definitely accepted. Diocletian had lately improved the civil system by his division of the Empire into thirteen "Dioceses," comprising ninety-six Eparchies or Provinces. The ecclesiastical Metropolitan now corresponds with the civil Proconsul, or other officer, as presiding over a Province, and in the East at any rate in each of five "Dioceses" the occupant of the See of the chief city corresponds to the civil Vicar of the Diocese. There is at first no title for this office, but later the term Exarch was used. In 381 the Council of Constantinople recognized these five areas, and mentioned by name Alexandria, as administering Egypt and Antioch, which was the head of the Diocese called Oriens.18 Already, perhaps; Constantinople, the new Imperial city, had taken the place of Heraclea as chief city of the "Diocese of Thrace, and it soon exercised ecclesiastical powers not only over that Diocese, but also over Asia and Pontus, while the capital cities of those two "Dioceses," Ephesus and Cesarea, descended into a secondary position. This pre-eminence of Constantinople grew up by custom; but in 451 submission of all three Dioceses to Constantinople was formally legalized by the famous twenty-eighth Canon of Chalcedon. The addition of Jerusalem side by side with Alexandria, Antioch, and Constantinople was largely honorific. In the Nicene Council it was given a precedence, while as yet the jurisdiction was reserved to the Metropolitan of the Province at Cesarea;19 but at the Council of Chalcedon a jurisdiction was also given to Jerusalem, so that thenceforward, though its sphere was small, it ranked as a Patriarchate. 20 In this way the Eastern Patriarchates grew into existence, though the name of them was only now for the first time beginning to make its appearance at that Council, as a technical term.


We must go a little more fully into the case of Constantinople; and observe there also the like advance from a position of precedence and honor to one of jurisdiction. The sixth Nicene Canon was dealing with jurisdiction when, approving the existing customs, it recognized a definite area as being subject to Alexandria, just as another was subject to Rome, and so forth. When the time came for dealing with the new city of Constantinople, there were no ancient customs like these to be recognized, nor was there any question at first of jurisdiction. The Council of Nicaea was not called upon to deal with Constantinople, for the reason that the city was as yet scarcely founded; but the Council that met upon the spot there in 381 was obliged to do so, and did so. It did not however, go into any matter of jurisdiction. It merely assigned a precedence to Constantinople next after Rome, agreeable to the civil status of the two cities. But in the seventy years that intervened thereupon before the Council of Chalcedon mere precedence grew into definite authority and jurisdiction. We have already observed the steady rise which took place in the claims made on the part of the capital. This tendency was partly resisted in the East, but its result was sanctioned by the definite action of the Council. The 28th Canon, which ratified those claims, was strongly opposed at the time by the Roman legates, and it has since only been accepted in spite of continual protests from Rome. Opposition from that quarter is intelligible enough and needs no explanation. But one must ask, Why did the East agree? and in particular, Why did those Dioceses and their ecclesiastical heads who suffered detriment by the Canon agree to its being passed? The reason is probably to be found in the fact that they had watched a parallel process of aggrandizement going on in the West, far more serious and wide-reaching in itself, and actually subversive of all the old Church organization. The new Canon undermined this, while it established and condoned the large but not radical aggrandizement of Constantinople. The East, therefore, was willing that Constantinople should be exalted, if by the same process the more dangerous aggression of Rome could be foiled.


We turn then to see what has been happening in the West. The course of events which we have noted in the East amply bears out as historically sound the contention still maintained by the Eastern Church as to the nature of ecclesiastical organization and authority. What light will Western events throw upon the matter? In the West the further development of Church organization had gone on much more slowly. The Church had much less readily or fully adopted the Provincial system; and the reorganization of the Empire by Diocletian had borne less fruit in the delimitation of Church areas and jurisdictions. The city of Rome had been left outside the scheme by Diocletian. The "Diocese" of Italy had Milan for its capital. That of Africa had Carthage. But though Carthage had a definite ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the Province of Africa, its relation was much less definite to other Provinces in the Dioceses - to Numidia and Mauretania. The central European "Dioceses" of Macedonia, Dacia and Pannonia had no outstanding Church centers; and the like was the case with the three Western Dioceses of Gaul, Spain, and Britain. Rome exercised authority over its own surroundings, and a more than metropolitan jurisdiction. This, as we have seen, had been recognized in somewhat vague terms by the council of Nicea; and the fact had been used as a ground for assuring to Alexandria a similar authority. The limits of the roman jurisdiction were understood in the West to extend to the "suburbicarian Churches," which, in the larger interpretation of the phrase, comprehended the ten Provinces of Central and southern Italy and the islands, as contrasted with the seven Provinces of the North which depended upon Milan.21 This was the position so far as jurisdiction was concerned. Besides, there was the question of precedence, and in this respect undoubtedly Rome had a pre-eminence over the whole of the West.


In the early part of the fourth century this position seemed to be unquestioned. The two Presbyters who represented Pope Silvester at Nicea and signed next to the President raised no objection. The West was as yet of one mind with the East on the matter of Church organization. But the existing state of things could hardly continue. The Western organization, as contrasted with that in the East, was very incomplete and insufficient. The greater part of the Western Dioceses had no satisfactory ecclesiastical administration. It was bound to come, in one form or another. If Africa and Northern Italy were to develop on their own lines, the Sees of Carthage and Milan must develop larger authority. This they were capable of doing, and to some extent actually did, before they were, ultimately caught in the net of Roman Primacy. But there was no such possibility apparent for the other Dioceses. The need of further organization soon came evident in Central Europe. The Council that met at Sardica in 343 to consult about the affairs of Athanasius took the opportunity of making provision that appeals which could not be settled in the Provinces should be sent under certain restrictions to Julius, Bishop of Rome, out of respect for the memory of St. Peter. 22


Thus began an appellate jurisdiction which led on to great things, although at first it was very limited in extent and was expressly declined in some parts of the West -- e.g., in Africa. 23 If at first it was personal to Julius, it was soon taken as general, and soon extended further. There is no sign that this was anything but a natural and necessary development. Unfortunately the actions and decisions of Latin Councils have almost uniformly disappeared, the reason will perhaps emerge later. Therefore it is only by occasional bits of sparse evidence that the development of Roman jurisdiction that ensues can be traced. Thirty years later, when Damasus was embroiled in troubles with his rival Ursinus, Rome appealed to the Emperors for the enlargement of this jurisdiction; and Gratian in his rescript provided for it even more amply than he had been asked to do for he practically gave (so far as the Emperor could do such a thing) supreme appellate jurisdiction to the Pope over all the Western Empire. 24 In practice such authority had probably been gradually and naturally growing, exactly as in the parallel and almost contemporary case at Constantinople; and in the event the Emperor did no more than endorse what the Western Church was coming to recognize -- viz., that Rome was to be the only Church in the West of Patriarchal rank. The crown was set to this legal edifice nearly seventy years later (445), when Valentinian III. assigned ampler powers still to Pope Leo, basing the matter on the double ground of the primacy of Peter and the Apostolic See and the dignity of the City of Rome. 25 The language is now very different from that of the earlier legal documents; and the last 120 years have witnessed a great shifting of the ground as regards the claims made by Rome.


We turn to other sorts of evidence in order to trace the growing dissatisfaction with the old conception of Church organization and the gradual introduction of the West of this new point of view, and the new language which went with it. The early claims had been bound up with the memory of the two great Apostles and Martyrs who were joint-founders of the Roman Church. But in time St. Paul's name tends to disappear from this connection and all the main insistence rests upon St. Peter's. This change is probably connected with other circumstances -- (1) the rise and diffusion of the Petrine Romances in the course of the third and fourth centuries; and (2) a new disposition, which begins to show itself, to rest the claims not in history, but on Scriptural texts, and especially upon Tu es Petrus and Pasce ovesmeas. In themselves these passages do not stand apart. They are no more convincing as to the privileges of Peter or the position of the Bishop of Rome than let us say, St. Paul's phrase, "I withstood him to the face because he was to be blamed," or our Lord's severer condemnation, "Get thee behind Me, Satan."


The traditional interpretations of the laudatory Petrine passages went out of favor at Rome. 26 The new school was no longer content to explain the former as a personal tribute to St. Peter, nor again as a general commendation of the rock of faith; nor the latter as a charge given equally to all the Apostles; though these had been chief among the various recognized interpretations of the earlier days. Rome was dissatisfied and began a new exegesis, which penetrated the West, but found very little foothold in the East.


These two changes are not the only signs of dissatisfaction and innovation in the fourth century. The Sixth Canon of Nicea witnessed to the old view, and it therefore now caused misgivings. The similar Third Canon of Constantinople, when it came to the West, caused the like, and though no protests were made at the time they were raised subsequently. Simultaneously Damasus, as we have seen, was pushing things ahead, and if the "Decree of Damasus" is a genuine document hailing from a Roman Council in 382, as is now thought to be quite possible, 27 the new theory had been greatly developed. The Primacy of Rome is claimed there as not being of conciliar origin, but due to the appointment of our Lord through the Tu es Petrus text. At the same time two Eastern Sees are given a mere precedence, and that on the ground of Petrine origin - Antioch because of St. Peter's sojourn there, and Alexandria through St. Mark. Of Constantinople nothing is said. This decree is, if genuine, almost the foundation charter of the Papacy. No doubt many forces had been for some time converging to make it possible, but this is the earliest clear statement, and the Popes of the fourth century, even St. Leo himself, really added nothing to it.


It is at this period also that we note the beginning of Papal decretals. These letters testify to the recourse made to Rome, at least from those parts of the West where there was no commanding See - as, for example, from Dalmatia, Gaul, and Spain; but the authority ascribed to them testifies to the growth of the Papal idea. 28 The new doctrine made its way less easily in North Italy and Africa.


The methods adopted in order to make legal justification for it were not always very secure. The sardican decrees were quoted to Africa as Nicene, and maintained as such by the Popes of the early part of the fifth century until the mistake was shown up by recourse to Eastern archives. Moreover, Nicea itself was unpopular. There was therefore prefixed to some of the Latin translations of the unpalatable sixth Canon a statement that the Roman Church had always had the Primacy. This interpolation was regarded as so trustworthy that the Roman Legates did not hesitate to produce it in support of their protest in full council at Chalcedon. 29 It was, of course, at once shown up. Such things might pas muster in the West, but not in the East. Thirty-five years went by, and then a Roman Council claimed that the Nicene Fathers had referred all their work to the Roman See for confirmation. 30 It was another fable, which in its origin had been meant for home consumption. Later on in due course documents were forged to support the fable. 31 Finally it was desirable to obscure the fact that Hosius had presided there as the representative of the Emperor; so, after other expedients had been tried without success to disguise the truth, it was boldly maintained that Silvester himself presided, and to this day visitors to the Vatican may see him doing so in the great fresco in the Library there.


In spite of this dislike of the Nicene Council, it is remarkable how, outside its own immediate area at least, the Roman Church liked to pose as the upholder of the Canons and the Fathers, and when the new claims to Divine authority were not likely to be acceptable, the old claim to jurisdiction resting upon conciliar and patristic authority was the one put forward. 32 There is no sign of the new claims in the East until 431, when Philip, the Papal Legate, started them out in the Synod of Ephesus 33 that thence forward these claims became the dominant feature of Roman policy; though even Leo, their ablest and most consistent expounder, could lapse back, upon occasion, to the older claims, as he did when he opposed the 28th Canon of Chalcedon, not on the ground that it infringed a Divinely-conferred privilege of the See of Peter, but on the ground that it was contrary to the Canons of the Fathers and the decree of Nicea. 34


But in order to get such claims universally accepted in the West - there was no prospect of this in the East - a double need arose. It was necessary that the documents which witnessed to the older state of things should either disappear or be doctored; and it was desirable to have fresh documents, purporting to have ancient authority, available to be quoted in support of the claims. The dissatisfaction of Rome with its past thus issued a policy of suppression, falsification, and forgery. As to the first of these there is, of course, only indirect evidence. But when the wide activity of the Roman Church in the period previous to the middle of the fourth century is remembered and the number of Roman Synods held is taken into account, the lack of documents - as evidenced, for example, in the Dionysian Collection of Canons - can hardly fail to invoke comment and arouse suspicion. If the falsification of documents we have already observed one flagrant instance of the Sixth Canon of Nicea. It seems as if some falsification (if not forgery) was practiced as regards the documents of the Sardican council, though this is not so certain. 35 The falsification of the writings of St. Cyprian is notorious; the only uncertainty is how early it began and how far it went. No one had so conspicuously maintained or so clearly defined as be the old doctrine of the fundamental equality of all Bishops and church units and the joint authority of the Episcopate. No one in the West had so capably withstood Rome. So his writings had to be altered before they were fit for Papal use. How much they were doctored is a matter of dispute; but at least Pelagius II (579-590) inserted a passage about the Petrine Primacy in the quotation from St. Cyprian's De Unitate which he incorporated in his letter to the Istrian Bishops; 36 and this tampering with St. Cyprian's writing does not stand alone.


The sixth century was full of such manipulations of the earlier Roman history, and for three hundred years the work went steadily on. The Petrine Romances, and especially the apocryphal letter of Clement to James of Jerusalem, had exercised a great influence already in the fifth century; 37 and while some of the later documents merely re-echoed the earlier ones, others developed their contents still further. There is a gradual growth in Papal claims to be traced, for example, in the series of apocryphal documents connected with the relations of Silvester and Constantine, from the early life of Silvester, which probably belongs to the fifth-sixth century, down to the full-blown fable of the donation of Constantine as it figured in the eighth and ninth centuries. 38 Biography was a favorite medium for the emender of history, and the lives of Popes and Saints afforded him great opportunities. 39 More venturesome were the forgeries of quasi-legal documents. The early years of the sixth century saw the appearance of two legends intended to support the view that no one could judge the Pope. Both were partly biographical and partly juridical, the former telling of a Council at Sinuessa in 303 in connection with Pope Marcellinus 40 and the latter of a Council at Rome in 321, held by Silvester. 41 The same point was made in like manner in the fabricated Acts of Sixtus III. 42 It was a still bolder venture to put forward, in connection with that Pope, the romance of Polychronius, Bishop of Jerusalem, who was said to be judged by Rome, and to have made touching amends. 43 It is not easy to say at what point the romancers cease to glorify the Papacy by design and begin to glorify it quite innocently, merely because it had become habitual with their craft to do so.


Another production which, whether innocently or not, distorted systematically the perspective of history belongs to the middle of the same century. The Liber Pontificalis in its earlier recension is partly occupied with backing up the already prevalent falsifications; and it also adulterates its own true and historical statements by mingling with them a number of others, representing the early popes as legislating for the whole Church, and ascribing to their legislation many prevailing liturgical customs and the like. This book, in both the earlier and the later recensions, had a very wide vogue. This particular type of tampering with history led very naturally to further developments, till the climax of pro-Papal forgeries is reached in the Isidorian Decretals, wherein the same characteristics are developed with greater boldness and thoroughness.


Some five hundred documents, largely new, are provided, mainly in the form of Decretals. St. Clement heads the list with eighty-five and Anacletus follows with forty-one. No later Popes were credited with such activity as these first two; but, with numbers varying between three and thirty, the succeeding Pontiffs are made to bear their part down to Damasus (366-384). The forger was well advised to stop there; for it is with Damasus (as we have seen) that the series of genuine documents claiming a Petrine Primacy probably begins. It is not the stuff contained in the individual Decretals that matters. They deal with many topics, and most of them do no more than provide a spurious early authority for things that were in current vogue. It is the series that matters. No more subtly convincing argument could be provided for the Petrine Primacy than this array of Popes, all exorcising it the right down from St. Clement himself. The moment also was opportune. Nicholas I. (858-867) was taking advantage of the circumstances of his time to increase the despotic character of the Papal authority in many directions. Moreover, he was embroiled in a new quarrel with the East; and now after a considerable period of estrangement and aloofness the two conflicting contentions were once again brought face to face through the contest between Ignatius and Photius, the rival occupants of the throne of Constantinople. Nicholas had just made an attempt to maintain that the Ninth Canon of Chalcedon, which established an appeal in the East to the Primate of the Diocese or to Constantinople, really established an appeal to Rome. Failing in this attempt, he found the Isidorian Decretals ready to his hand, and with them he bombarded Constantinople. The Easterns might well have been surprised and asphyxiated by this bombardment; but, far from being overpowered, they questioned the documents and were not convinced when the Pope, with a fine show of indignation, told them that they had been from ancient times preserved in the archives of the Roman Church. 44 With these audacious proceedings we must close our survey of the attempts made in the West to remodel early history because it was at variance with the Roman claims. The East looked on with more patience than protest. It knew very little of the details of such remodeling, and it cared less. But when it was brought up against it, as at Chalcedon in 451 - or Constantinople in 864, it knew well enough that such methods only condemned the contention which they were meant to justify; and it more securely than ever maintained the old ecclastical organization of the Church against the Western innovations.


History, then, we conclude, justifies the Eastern contention. We may briefly show how dogmatic theology does the like before drawing this lecture to a close with some pacific suggestions and hopes. To the theologian the two alternatives present themselves as rival theories of church unity, the one being federal and the other monarchial. The Pauline conception of the church as the Body of Christ inclines him to the former view. If there is question of headship, in any supreme sense of the word, the Head, says the theologian, must be Christ, and no one less. If there is question of autocracy or monarchy, the rule is in God's Hands. For the Church Militant is not the whole Church - it is but the earthly members of a body that reaches into heaven; and the East is therefore justified when it says that the earthly members have not, and cannot have, an earthly Head, but are bound together by bonds of love in the whole Body of Christ. But, viewed even on the terrestrial level, the Papal theory is, as Khomiakov has shown, 45 a displacement. Authority so constituted no longer belongs to the body as a whole nor even to any function of the body as representing the whole. It is claimed as a Divine privilege for a particular part. Now authority, if it is allowed thus to become localized, becomes also external to the body - it works not ab intra but ab extra. Again, the theologian cannot but observe another effect of the Western contention upon the general doctrine of the Church. It has clericalized it. For on the Papal theory ll authority in general also becomes external, and so it comes to be located in the clergy, as distinct from the Church as a whole. The Western middle ages show this outcome very clearly; and it is only when Christians have broken away from the Papacy, that the laity recover their place and their rights as effective members, and not merely drones or subjects, of the church. This shifting of the place of authority from the whole Church to a particular church, and from within to without, and from the church in general to the clergy has introduced both rationalism and legalism. Christian dogma being no longer attested by the self-consciousness of a Divine body, but resting upon an external authority, had to be supported by such forces as could be operated from without. Therefore, it came to rest upon merely logical proof and merely legal enactment. Khomiakov points to the theory of Purgatory and the doctrine of merits as representing the first; and to the imposition of Latin as the ecclesiastical language, and the adoption of temporal power and expedients as examples of the second. The Church was no longer an inspired body, but a governing state.


The antagonism thus revealed between East and West is a very deep one. We have studied it mainly in a single particular -- viz., the question of Church organization. But this is only one out of many points that make up the whole antagonism between the two. We have said nothing of doctrinal differences as such; but it is evident that these are closely connected with the difference in organization. We Anglicans hold with the East as regards organization; but in some of the doctrinal differences our traditional place is on the side of the Latins and against the Greeks. These parts of the antagonism are therefore of necessity more blurred to us. It is well, therefore, that we should realize how to the Eastern the whole question is summed up in the charge, which he brings against the West, of innovation. Not only the Papal claims, but the Filioque, the custom of Baptism by affusion, the withdrawal of the chalice, the loss of the Epiklesis, the unleavened Hosts, Purgatory, and the Immaculate Conception are all equally innovations. 46 The Pope is the first of Protestants, the chief representative of the error of setting up individual and sectional judgments against the judgment of the church as a whole. The multiform divisions of the West are small things as compared with the schism by which the Papal church cut itself off from Orthodoxy, and they are the natural corollaries of that supreme act of Protestantism or schism. We, as Westerners, must ponder on such unfamiliar statements of the case, if we are to get to understand the Eastern contention.


What are we to say in conclusion? Is, then, the case hopeless? We will not believe that. Are the contentions irreconcilable? We dare not say so. There has been development in East and West, and if those developments have hitherto widened the breach, future developments may close it. The Eastern Church has not been so unchanging as it would think. We have already observed Constantinople aggrandizing, 47 while Rome aggrandized though not radically as Rome did. Rome went on to claim Divine sanction for what was in its origin a human arrangement; Constantinople, on occasion, did something similar. It has sometimes tried to exalt the Patriarchal system into being regarded as of Divine origin;48 at other times it has tried to claim a right to rule over churches outside its own area. On the whole, however, wiser counsels have prevailed, as, for example, in the history of the Russian Church, and especially the setting up of the Patriarchate of Moscow. The east is in these days beginning to recognize in Anglicanism a Western system of belief and practice which is some respects is akin to itself and it is more ready now to hear and accept from Anglican theologians a justification of some of the Western peculiarities - such as the Filioque - than it ever was to tolerate the defense of them made by Latin theologians at Constantinople or at Florence. We in our turn, too, are more ready now to understand and learn from the East than ever was the case in part generations; and we are beginning to foresee that Anglicanism, please God, may have an important part to play in a future reconciliation.


Even in the matter of Church authority - the point at which Rome and the East are most directly at variance - there are signs that modern developments are making some mutual understanding more possible. We are not now as convinced as we were that a clear line can be drawn between what is of Divine and what is of human origin in this matter as the hierarchy and constitution of the church. We see the marks of Divine appointment no so exclusively in the words of our Lord or in the Scriptural precepts, but increasingly in the work of the Holy Spirit working through the continuous life of the Church. The advocate of the Papacy appeals less confidently to texts, and more confidently to ecclesiastical development; and the advocate of Episcopacy does the same. The way is thus opening for a new situation, in which the sharpness of the antagonism between East and West in this matter is much reduced, and each party can more easily recognize in the rival theory the signs of Divine guidance. Theologically speaking, our hopes of a coming reconciliation all seem to center round a deeper appreciation of the work of God the Holy Spirit. If we follow His guidance we cannot go wrong; for is He not the Spirit of Truth? If we follow faithfully, penitently, and fearlessly, we cannot but be led back into unity; for "in one spirit we were all baptized into one body," and we are all "builded together for an habitation of God in the Spirit." 49

1. Acta Leonis Papae XIII., Vols. V. and VI.
2. Printed 1896 with an English Translation by E. Metallinos for the Orthodox Greek Community in Manchester, as Answer of the Great Church of Constantinople, &c.
3. See Church Hist., Soc., Tract XIV. (1896).
4. E. Denny, Papalism (1912).
5. Answer, p. 15.
6. Ibid., 17.
7. Answer, p. 39.
8. Answer, p 43.
9. Istoria Russkoi Tserkvi, I. I. 257-260 (Moscow, 1901).
10. Answer, p. 43.
11. Barrow, Treatise on the Pope's Supremacy, Suppos. V.
12. Irenaeus, Hoeres iii. 3, 2.
13. Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. v. 24.
14. Cyprian, Epist. LXVII., LIX.
15. Dionysius, ed. Feltoe.
16. Euseb., H. E. vii. 30.
17. Ibid. x. 5.
18. Canon 2.
19. Canon 7.
20. Actio Septima in Harduin, Conc. ii. 491.
21. Bright, Canons of the First Four General Councils, 22.
22. Canons 3-6.
23. The African Bishops to Pope Boniface in 419. Cod. Canonum Ecclesiae Africanae cxxxv. In Harduin, Conc. i. 943.
24. Ibid, i. 839.
25. Leo, Epist., ii.; Migne, Patr. Lat., liv., 656.
26. Denny, Papalism, chapters ii.-iv.
27. Journ. Theol. Stud. I. 554.
28. A list of the early genuine ones is in Duchesne's Histoire iii. 29 n.
29. Actio xvi. Harduin, Conc. ii. 638.
30. Ad clericos et monachos orientales, Harduin, Conc. ii. 856.
31. Ibid. i. 343.
32. E.g., Innocent to Victricius, Coustant pp. 747, 749; or Zosimus to Hesychius, Ibid. 974.
33. Actio iii. Harduin, Conc. i. 1478.
34. Leo, Epist. Civ.
35. See the Latin letter of the Synod to Julius: Harduin, Conc. i. 653. Hefele Leclercq, Histoire des Conciles, i. 810.
36. Mansi, Concilia ix. 898.
37. Doellinger-Friedrich, Das Papsthum, note 98, p. 363 (1892).
38. Ibid. 365.
39. Liberius was whitewashed in the Gesta Liberii.
40. Hard. Conc., i. 217.
41. Ibid. i. 291.
42. Ibid. i. 1737.
43. Ibid. i. 1741.
44. Doellinger-Friedrich, Papsthum, 38, 39, 376-378.
45. A. S. Khomiakov L’Eglise Latine et le Protestantisme au point de vue de l’Eglise d’Orient (1872), pp. 36 and ff.
46. Answer, pp. 27-35.
47. Compare further the quarrel about adoption of the title Ecumenical Patriarch by Constantinople in the sixth century, Dictionnaire of Theool. Cath., sub-voce Constantinople, col. 1333.
48. This was said, for example, at the council of Constantinople in 869 (Harduin, v. 7u79, & c. but perhaps provoked by the Petrine claim set out by the Roman delegates (ib. 778). It was however, a common legal view - e.g., in Balsamon.
49. 1 Cor. xii. 13; Eph. Ii. 22.

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