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Milton V. Anastos

Constantinople and Rome

A Survey of the Relations between the Byzantine and the Roman Churches.

M. Anastos, Aspects of the Mind of Byzantium (Political Theory, Theology, and Ecclesiastical Relations with the See of Rome), Ashgate Publications, Variorum Collected Studies Series, 2001. ISBN: 0 86078 840 7.

1. Introduction: Byzantium and Rome in 1438

The jealousy and discord which have long disturbed the relations between the Byzantine and Roman churches may, perhaps, be illustrated by an anecdote(2)
told of the meeting in 1438 between the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Pope of Rome. In those days Byzantium had suffered greatly at the hands of the Ottoman Turks, who had overrun much of the Empire and were threatening to capture the capital city itself. Help from the West was desperately needed in order to save Constantinople; and the Emperor John VIII Palaeologus (1425-48), like many of his predecessors, was prepared to purchase it by arranging a union of the Greek and Roman Churches, even if this involved, as he knew it did, recognition of a number of Roman dogmas, including that of papal supremacy, which the Byzantines had always opposed. In order to accomplish this purpose, he and the Roman Curia had arranged to hold an oecumenical council of the Church at Ferrara in 1438.

The leading prelates of both Churches were to be present, headed by Pope Eugene IV of Rome (1431-47) and Patriarch Joseph II (1416-39) of Constantinople.

But the Patriarch Joseph, who had reservations about the union and was at first displeased by the prospect of making concessions to Rome, was exceedingly
sensitive about the prerogatives of the Constantinopolitan Church. Before setting out to Ferrara from Venice, where the Greeks had disembarked on arriving in Italy, Joseph prepared to resist the papal demand that all of the Greeks, including the Patriarch, kiss the Pope's foot at a ceremonial of welcome.

When, therefore, a delegation of Italian bishops arrived, as Joseph was making ready to land at Ferrara, and asked him to consent to kissing the Pope's foot, he flatly refused. "What is the origin of this form of greeting?" he asked. "What council [of the Church] ordained it? Show me why the Pope is entitled to it, and where [his authority to demand] it is recorded. ... Grant that the Pope is the successor of St. Peter. But we, on our part, are the successors of the other apostles [i.e., the remaining eleven out of the twelve], and no one ever heard of their kissing Peter's foot:"

The bishops replied that this was an ancient practice, and that bishops, kings, cardinals, and priests were accustomed to kissing the pope's foot(3). To this Joseph answered that he would never agree to greeting Eugene except by a brotherly embrace according to the tradition of his Church, and that, if this were not sufficient, he would abandon everything and go home. At length, the Pope sent word that, for the sake of peace, and in order not to jeopardize the union of the Churches, he would waive the kissing of his foot and content himself with the greeting Joseph was willing to offer. But, he stipulated, the ceremony was not to take place in public, as had been originally planned, but only in the presence of the cardinals, so that it might not become widely known that the Pope had forfeited the honour due him.

Accordingly, Joseph went to a small room, in which the Pope and the cardinals
were seated. The Pope rose, the Patriarch kissed him on the cheek, and Joseph sat down. Then, in groups of six, the Byzantine clergy were ushered in. Some knelt and kissed the Pope's hand and cheek, others kissed only his hand, and several did no more than make a deep bow ( proskynesis) (4)

Other problems of protocol arose, but this episode expresses in epitome the fierce pride of both Churches. Eugene's concession is a remarkable indication of the willingness of the Roman Church to yield on a minor matter in order to bring about ecclesiastical unity under papal supremacy. It will be interesting to see whether this incident is to serve as a precedent authorizing similar, if not greater, flexibility on the part of Rome as it seeks once more, according to the pronouncement of Pope John ΧΧIII in 1959, to heal the schism of the Churches and unite all of Christendom within one fold.

In the past all such efforts have failed because, despite basic agreement on major principles of theology, non-Roman Christians refuse to recognize the primacy of Rome,(5) which involved recognition of the pope as the sovereign
head of the entire Christian Church, with supreme jurisdiction in faith, morals, and discipline. The definition of papal supremacy in these terms was formulated at the Vatican Council of 1870, which also ordained that the pope is infallible when he speaks ex cathedra i.e., when, functioning as pastor and teacher of all Christians, he defines a doctrine concerning either faith or morals
for the universal Church.

This exalted conception of the power of the pope was developed over the centuries and is traced back by Roman Catholic scholars to the New Testament and the writings of the early fathers. But it has always been unacceptable to the Byzantine Church and to the Protestants.
The word pope, it should be noted, which was at first used to designate a priest or bishop of any church, was not understood exclusively of the bishop of Rome until around the middle of the seventh century, although this usage began in Toledo (Spain) in 400, and became common during the sixth century. In this book only the bishop of Rome will be so described. Similarly, the title patriarch, which, as a result of the Fourth Oecumenical Council (451) and the legislation of the Emperor Justinian Ι (527-65), was applied to the bishops of the five major sees (Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem), will be understood as referring to the bishop of Constantinople, unless otherwise noted.


1. For the subject of this Ρart see in general the following basic works: Hans-G. Beck, "Kirche und theologische Literatur in byzantinischen Reich (Byzantinisches Handbuch", 2, 1 [Munich, 1959]); V. Grumel, "Le patriarcat byzantin, 1, Les regestes des actes du patriarcat de Constantinople, 1, Les actes des patriarches, 381-1206, 1-3 (Ρaris, 1932-47); Franz Dölger, Corpus der griechischen Urkunden des Mittelalters und der neueren Zeit (Regesten der Kaiserurkunden des oströmischen Reiches von 565-1453," 1-3 [Munich-Berlin, 1924-32]), to 1282. All three contain valuable information, bibliography, and references to sources, which are easily accessible through indices and chronological arrangement. Ι shall, therefore, refrain from citing them at every point, although they can be consulted with profit on many of the subjects dealt with below. In English, excellent guides are Β. J. Kidd, "The churches of eastern Christendom" (London, 1927); and Trevor G. Jalland, "The church and the papacy (London, 1944). Important also is Friedrich Heiler, Die katholische Kirche des Ostens und Westens, 1, Urkirche und Ostkirche" (Munich, 1937); 2, "Die römisch-katholische Kirche, 1, Altkirchliche Αutοnomie und papstlicher Zentralismus" (Μunich, 1941). The best general manual of church history is Karl Bihlmeyer-Hermann Tüchle Κirchengeschichte", 13th ed. (Paderborn, 1952 ff.); Eng. trans., Church history, trans. Victor Ε. Mills (Westminster, Md., 1958 ff.). See also Louis Bréhier, «Les relations normales entre Rome et les églises d'Orient,» "Istina", 6 (1959), 352-72, on the period before 1054 (reprinted from "Documentation catholique, 1928); Yves Congar, "After nine hundred years" (New York, 1959), revised English trans. of "idem", «Neuf cents ans après: Notes sur le 'schisme oriental',» in "1054-1954, L'église et les églises: Neuf siècles de douloureuse séparation entre l'Orient et l'Occident: Etudes et travaux sur l'unité chretiènne οfferts à Dom Lambert Beauduin" (Collection Irenikοn [Chevetogne, Belgium, 1954-55]), 1, 1-95; "idem", «Conscience ecclésiologique en Orient et en Occident du VIe au ΧΙe siècle,» "Ιstina", 6 (1959), 187-236; Αnton Michel, "Die Kaisermacht in der Ostkirche, 843-1204" (Darmstadt, 1959), a reprint of two articles which appeared originally in L'Orient syrien; "idem", op. cit. in note 184 below; Ρ Gregoriu, Relations between Catholics and Orthodox (in Greek) (Athens, 1958); Franz Χ. Seppelt, Geschichte des Papsttums, 4 vols,varying titles; 1-2 (Leipzig, 1934); 3-4, 2d ed. (Munich, 1956-57); "idem , Das Papsttum und Byzanz (Kirchengeschichtliche Abhandlungen", 2 [Breslau, 1904]); Franz Dölger, «Byzanz und das Abendland vor den Kreuzzügen,» in Relazioni del Χ Congresso internazionale di scienze storiche, 3 (Florence, 1955), 67-112; Jean Leclercq, «Points de vue sur le grand schisme d'occident,» in 1054-1954, L'église et les églises, 2, 233-40; Steven Runciman, "The eastern schism (Oxford, 1955); Johannes Haller, "Das Papsttum: Idee und Wirklichkeit," 5 vols., 2d ed. (Urach-Stuttgart, 1950-53); Ioannes Ν. Κarmires, "Τwo Byzantine hierarchs and the schism of the Roman Church" (in Greek) (Athens, 1950); Donald Attwater, "The Christian Churches of the East," 2 vols. (Milwaukee, 1947-48); Francesco Cognasso, "Relazioni religiose a politiche fra Roma e Bisanzio" (Turin, 1947), mimeographed lectures; George Every, "The Byzantine patriarchate, 451-1204" (London, 1947); Roberto Cessi, «Oriente e Occidente nel medio evo,» in "Questioni di storia medioevale (Como-Milan, 1946), 129-231; Martin Jugie, "Le schisme byzantin" (Paris, 1941); "idem, Theologia dogmatica Christianorum orientalium ab ecclesia catholica dissidentium", 5 vols. (Paris, 1926-35); Henry Ε. Symonds, "The church universal and the see of Rome" (London, 1939); Erich Caspar, "Geschichte des Papsttums", 2 vols. (Tübingen, 1930-33); Horace Κ. Μann "The lives of the popes in the early middle ages", 18 vols. (London, 1902-32); S. Η.Scott, "The eastern churches and the papacy (London, 1928), to Photius; Adolf Hamack, «Der Geist der morgenländischen Kirche im Unterschied von den abendländischen,» "Sitzungsberichte der Kgl. Preussischen Akademie den Wissencschaften", 1913, no. 7 (Berlin, 1913), 157-83 (famous but of little use); S. Vailhé, «Constantinople (Eglise de),» "DTC", 3, 2 (Paris, 1908), 1307-1519; J. Pargoire, "L'église byzantine de 527 à 847" (Paris, 1905); Louis Duchesne, "Les églises séparées" (Paris, 1896), 163-227, 229-79, and passim; J. Hergenröther, "Photius, Patriarch von Konstantinopel", 3 vols. (Regensburg, 1867-69). Opinions differ as to what constitutes a real schism. Jugie, "Le schisme", 9, n. 2, gives the following list: (1) Arian schism, supported by Constantius ΙΙ and Valens, 343-79; (2) schism resulting from unjust condemnation of John Chrysostom, 404-15; (3) Acacian schism, 484-519; (4) monothelite schism, 640-81; (5) first iconoclastic schism, 726-87; (6) break with Rome over adulterous marriage of Constantine VI, 806-11; (7) second iconoclastic schism 815-43. This scheme is perchaps a little too rigid, especially with regard to (1) and (2), which Ι have ignored in my treathment of the subject. On the principal matters at issue between the two Churches, see Martin Jugie, "Theologia dogmatica, 1, 101 ff; «Synopsis status quaestionum de quibus inter catholicam et orthodoxam ecclesiam disputatur," Αcta Academiae Velehradensis, 10 (1914-19), 265-483; Bernhard Leib, "Deux inédits byzantins sur les azymes au début du xiie siècle (Orientalia Christiana", 2, 3, nο. 9 [Rome, 1924]); Hergenröther, "Photius", 3, 170 ff., 186 ff., and "passim".

2. Sylvester Syropulos (Sguropulos erroneously appears on the title page), "Vera historia unionis non verae inter Graecos et Latinos, ... graece scripta per Sylvestum Sguropulum, ed. Roberts Creyghton (The Ηague, 1660), 4, 19-22, pp. 92-98. On the incident and the dramatis personae, see Joseph Gill, "The Council of Florence (Cambridge, Eng., 1959); cf. "idem", «John VIII: Α character study,» in "Silloge bizantina in οnοre di Silvio G. Mercati = SBN", 9 (1957), 152-70; V Laurent, «Un agent efficace de l'unité de l'église a Florence, George Philanthropène» [who wοn over the Patriarch Joseph to the union], "REB", 17 (1959), 190-95; Kenneth Μ. Setton, «The Emperor John VIII slept here,» Speculum, 33 (1958), 222-28.

3. Cf. the "Dictatus Papae", nο. 9, ed. Karl Hofmann, Der "Dictatus papae" Gregors Vll: "Eine rechtsgeschichtliche Erklärung (Paderborn, 1933); full bibliography by Τ. Schieffer, LThK, 3 (1959), 368 f.; Congar, After nine hundred years, 79, 140; text also in Carl Mirbt, Quellen zur Geschichte des Papsttums und des römischen Katholizismus, 4th ed. (Tübingen, 1924), 146.

4. Ι have added details on the Patriarch's kissing the Pope's cheek from the official Acta of the Council, published by Joseph Gill, "Quae supersunt Actorum Graecorum Concilii Florentini, 1 (Concilium Florentinum, Documenta et scriptores", Series Β, vοl. V, fasc. 1 [Rome, 1953]), 9.29 ff.

5. Antonio Piolanti, «Primato di San Pietro e del romano pontefice," Enciclopedia Cattolica, 10 (1953), 6-Ι9; G. Glez, «Primauté du pape,» "DTC", 13, 1 (1936), 247-344. See the Vatican Council's Constitutio dogmatica 1, De ecclesia Christi, 3 ad fin., ed. Denzinger-Umberg, Enchiridion symbolorum, 31st ed. (Barcinone, 1957), 1831: "si quis itaque dixerit, Romanum Pontificem habere tantummodo officium inspectionis vel directionis, nοn autem plenam et supremam potestatem iurisdictionis in universam Ecclesiam, nοn solum in rebus, quae ad fidem et mores, sed etiam in iis, quae ad disciplinam et regimen Ecclesiae per totum orbem diffusae pertinent; aut eum habere tantum potiores partes, nοn vero totam plenitudinem huius supremae potestatis; aut hanc eius potestatem nοn esse ordinariam et immediatam sive in omnes ac singulas ecclesias sive in omnes et singulos pastores et fideles: anathema sit." Cf. also Beck, "Kirche", 32-35, index s.v. "Primat"; Bihlmeyer-Tüchle, "Kirchengeschichte", § 64. On the primacy of Peter, in addition to the works cited in note 1 above, see the debate between Catholics (Cassien, Β. Botte, Ρ Τ. Camelot, Η. Marot, C. J. Dumont, G. Jouassard, J. Le Guillou) and two orthodox (Ν. Afanassieff and J. Meyendorff), "Istina", 4 (1957), 92-112, 389-504; Nicolas Afanassieff, "L'apôtre Pierre et l'evêque de Rome," Theologia, 26 (Athens, 1955), 465-75, 620-41; Β. J. Kidd, The Roman primacy" (London, 1936); J. Τurmel, "Histoire du dogme de la papauté des origines à la fin du quatrième siècle" (Paris, 1908). The principal texts on the subject in Greek and Latin have been edited by Carl Mirbt, "Quellen" (cited in note 3 above); some of these have been translated into English by Ε. Giles, "Documents illustrating papal authority" (London, 1952). Cf. W. de Vries, «Primat, Communio und Kirche bei den frühen syrischen Monophysiten,» "OrChrP", 18 (1952), 52-88. Οn papal infallibility, see Federico dell'Addolorata, «Infallibilità,» "Εnciclopedia Cattolica", 6 (1951), 1920-24; Ε. Dublanchy, «Infaillibilité du pape,» "DTC", 7, 2 (1923), 1638-1717; "Constitutio dogmatica 1, De ecclesia Christi", 4, ed. Denzinger-Umberg, οp. cit., 1839: "... «docemus et divinitus revelatum dogma esse definimus, Romanum pontificem, cum ex cathedra loquitur, id est, cum omnium Christianorum pastoris et doctoris munere fungens pro suprema sua Apostolica auctoritate doctrinam de fide vel moribus ab universa Ecclesia tenendam definit, per assistentiam divinam ipsi in beato Petro promissam, ea infallibilitate pollere, qua divinitus Redemptor Ecclesiam suam in definienda doctrina de fide vel moribus instructam esse voluit; ideoque eiusmodi Romani Pontificis definitiones ex sese, non autem ex consensu Ecclesiae, irreformabiles esse.» For a Protestant view, see William Α. Curtis, «Infallibility»," Encyclopaedia of Religion and "Ethics", 7 (New York, 1928), 269-76. On «papa», see Pierre Batiffol, «Ρapa, sedes apostolica, apostolatus,» "RACr", 2 (1925), 99-116, n.b. 99-103.

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