Wednesday 28th September 2022

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

A Greek Orthodox Theologian . . . Pleads For A Petrine Primacy For The Patriarch Of Constantinople

May 23, 2015 Frontpage No Comments


Centuries of violent polemics against the Bishop of Rome’s affirmations of a universal authority and jurisdiction over all the Churches of East and West have marked the history of Eastern Orthodoxy since the rejection of the famous Reunion-Council of Florence (1439).
What is interesting — despite the mellowing of attitudes with the advent of the ecumenical movement and participation of Orthodox hierarchs and theologians in dialogues with Catholic theologians — is the continued resistance of certain Orthodox bishops and theologians to “papism and the pan-heresy of ecumenism.”
Orthodox websites have widely circulated articles by theologians Protopresbyter George D. Metallinos of the University of Athens; Protopresbyter Theodore Zisis of the Theological School of the University of Thessalonica; Archimandrite George Kapsanis, abbot of the Monastery of Gregoriou on Mt. Athos; Nicholas P. Vasiliades of the Brotherhood of Theologians “O Sotir”; and Dr. Demetrius Tselengidis, professor at Aristotle University of Thessalonica — all of whom condemn in no uncertain terms papal primacy as “a hideous ecclesiological heresy.”
Various Orthodox bishops have gone on record to reject any possible accord with “heretical Rome.” Bulgaria’s youngest metropolitan, Bishop Nikolay, called the Pope a heretic on national TV.
Reacting to the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Cyprus, Metropolitan Paul of Kyrenia said: “Our conscience does not permit our participation as the Pope is not just any political leader, but the leader of the heresy of papism.”
His fellow metropolitan, Athanasios of Limassol, also refused to attend ceremonies, commenting, “It is one thing to have a dialogue with anyone and another to receive the Pope as a canonical bishop, who for us Orthodox is a heretic, estranged from the Church, and therefore not even a bishop.”
In an insolent letter addressed to “Francis, head of the state of the Vatican City,” two Greek metropolitans, Andreas of Dryinoupolis and Seraphim of Piraeus, declare teachings of the Catholic Church to be “a clear blasphemy against the All-Holy Spirit and which show your theological departure and the satanic pride of which you are possessed.”
The existence of such hard-core opposition to the ecumenical overtures of Patriarch Bartholomew and other prelates seeking to overcome the “odium theologicum” of the past and examine the possibility of doctrinal agreement bodes little hope for a happy outcome to the long-hoped for Pan-Orthodox Council scheduled for 2016. The Ravenna Statement of 2007 emanating from the International Catholic-Orthodox Theological Commission and which accepted the notion of a universal primate for the Church (and as reconcilable with conciliarity/synodality) has come under heavy attack from intransigent circles.
Examples of fierce opposition to ecumenical contacts and theological dialogues with Catholics are plentiful and are certainly reflected in the outrageous belief (expressed by various Orthodox prelates and theologians) that all Catholic sacraments are invalid (“without grace”).
Certain Catholic ecumenists appear oblivious to the seriousness of the doctrinal divisions and discord increasingly evident among the various Orthodox Churches and which are being exacerbated by the Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue. The fear of future “de facto” schisms (like those of the “Old Calendarists”) that will further rend the union of the Orthodox Churches following the ecumenical lead of Constantinople, is not to be summarily discounted.
A Greek Orthodox theologian candidly fears this in his new book For the Unity of All: Contributions to the Theological Dialogue Between East and West (Cascade Books, Eugene, OR, 2015). Its irenic author, Fr. John Panteleimon Manoussakis, an Orthodox professor of theology and philosophy, introduces the reader to quite another Orthodox world — one of sincere desire for the reunion of Christians, sympathy for the Catholic West, and openness to modern scholarship disclosing that the union and communion between Rome and Byzantium actually continued long after 1054.
Dedicating his volume to Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew, he emphasizes that “I write for the Catholic as well as the Orthodox reader…[to discuss] some of the more familiar themes of the theological divide.” The ecumenical dialogue with Catholics, he writes, “imposed itself on me as a problem in the days of my junior seminary in Athens, in the all-too urgent form of my young classmates’ hostility toward all things Latin [and] when the risk of being branded a sympathizer of the pope was much greater than the punishments we would have suffered had our schoolmaster found us out of our beds long after the lights went out.”
Taking care not to engage in “endlessly perpetuating a largely artificial opposition” between Catholics and Orthodox, he revisits doctrines that have been the source of centuries of polemic and tries to “open some new windows” on the Immaculate Conception, the Holy Spirit’s procession (filioque), and the Petrine ministry (this last historically the most important divisive issue). He observes acutely that “as a theoretical issue Petrine primacy divides Catholics from Orthodox, while as a reality it divides the Orthodox among themselves.”
In separate chapters, Professor Manoussakis deals with the questions of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God and the procession of the Holy Spirit and finds that stripping away the misunderstandings of these Catholic dogmas by Orthodox critics, neither dogma is incompatible with the Easterns’ concern for orthodoxy, a conclusion Catholics can only welcome!
Professor Manoussakis directs his fire at the “phenomenon of anti-papism become increasingly more observable within the Orthodox Church.” It is one intimately “linked to racism, which was condemned as a heresy in 1872 under the name of ethnophyletism [ethnic triumphalism]” and which led deplorably to the Balkanization of Eastern Orthodoxy via the establishment of national churches.
It is truly remarkable to witness a Greek Orthodox theologian unequivocally declaring the “phenomenon of anti-papism” understood “as the denial of a ‘primus’ for the universal church and the elevation of such denial to a trait that allegedly identifies the whole Orthodox Church, to be, properly speaking, heretical.”
What is particularly astonishing in Professor Manoussakis’ book is his defense “as an Orthodox clergyman” of a Petrine primacy as essential to the hierarchical structure of the Church. Such primacy, he notes, cannot be merely “of honor”: “There can be no honor in the Church of the Servant Jesus Christ, that is not based on service — and therefore, on ministerial function.” “Such a primacy,” he avows, “is required by the very structure of the Church’s ecclesiology and that, furthermore, it is a prerequisite necessitated by the Church’s theology.”
No Catholic theologian would differ with that judgment, but the reader must be cautioned to note that Professor Manoussakis argues in his book for “a Petrine primacy” involving a universal primacy for the patriarch of Constantinople! To his mind, this solution could “end the divisions of autocephalies and autonomies,” and conflicting canonical jurisdictions and “even schisms” which have resulted in the “present pitiable state” of Eastern Orthodoxy. In short, his “Petrine primacy” is not the Petrine primacy of divine right declared as dogma by the Ecumenical Councils of Florence, Vatican I, and Vatican II.
What is fascinating in his defense of a “ministry of primacy at the universal level” (for the patriarch of Constantinople as a real head for all Eastern Orthodox) is his refutation of major objections traditionally made by anti-papal Orthodox theologians to the Roman Pontiff’s universal authority and jurisdiction. He admits that:
“The history of the first millennium leaves no room for doubting that the pope’s primacy in terms of such Petrine primacy [not one of a mere “primacy of honor’] was universally acknowledged and accepted even by the Greek-speaking Church. Theologically, there is no reason why the Orthodox Church should not do the same presently.”
Clearly contradicting the “anti-papal party” of Orthodox theologians, Professor Manoussakis confesses that Peter is the Rock; the Church was built on the person of Peter, not his confession. Peter was “given by Christ a certain primacy in accordance with Matt. 16:18 and that this primacy is personal, exercised by a person (Peter, Peter’s successor); and that this view was . . . a perennial belief shared by the Fathers of old.”
There is no contradiction between primacy and conciliarity/synodality operating in the Church, and there can be “no question that Orthodoxy needs a ‘primus’ [a first hierarch], and especially at the universal level.” Nor does Christ’s being the head of the Church prevent the Church having a ‘primus’ or primate who exercises a universal primacy among the Orthodox Churches. An ecumenical council cannot be the principle of unity in the Church, he states, since it itself demands a personal primate whereas it is both a rare and “impersonal authority.”
Since the separation with Rome no longer permits the Bishop of Rome to exercise that personal and universal primacy, such naturally accrues to the patriarch of Constantinople who, in fact, in the past did exercise real authority over the other Orthodox Churches. It is, moreover, the establishment of the patriarch of Constantinople as Orthodoxy’s universal primate who could “speak on behalf of all the Orthodox” that would immensely facilitate the possibility of eventual Reunion with Rome.
Here we see elements of convergence with Catholic doctrine concerning the Petrine primacy. However, Professor Manoussakis falls far short in fully acknowledging the singular and perduring Petrine primacy of the Pope in the Church as willed by Christ. Actually, he denies it. The positions he advocates in his book are sure to intensify the conflict with what he terms the “anti-papal party” in Orthodoxy whose “identity [is] exclusively based on the hatred for the office of Peter.” They will also assuredly exacerbate the theological opposition of the patriarchate of Moscow which has repeatedly denounced the tendencies to “papism” in the Greek patriarchate.

+ + +

(James Likoudis is the author of three books and many articles dealing with Eastern Orthodoxy. See his website:

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Vatican and USCCB leave transgender policy texts unpublished

While U.S. bishops have made headlines for releasing policies addressing gender identity and pastoral ministry, guidelines on the subject have been drafted but not published by both the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Vatican’s doctrinal office, leaving diocesan bishops to…Continue Reading

Biden says Pope Francis told him to continue receiving communion, amid scrutiny over pro-abortion policies

President Biden said that Pope Francis, during their meeting Friday in Vatican City, told him that he should continue to receive communion, amid heightened scrutiny of the Catholic president’s pro-abortion policies.  The president, following the approximately 90-minute-long meeting, a key…Continue Reading

Federal judge rules in favor of Gov. DeSantis’ mask mandate ban

MIAMI (LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge this week handed Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis another legal victory on his mask mandate ban for schools. On Wednesday, Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida denied a petition from…Continue Reading

The Eucharist should not be received unworthily, says Nigerian cardinal

Priests have a duty to remind Catholics not to receive the Eucharist in a state of serious sin and to make confession easily available, a Nigerian cardinal said at the International Eucharistic Congress on Thursday. “It is still the doctrine…Continue Reading

Donald Trump takes a swipe at Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him

Donald Trump complained about Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him in 2020. The former president made the comments in a conference call featuring religious leaders. The move could be seen to shore up his religious conservative base…Continue Reading

Y Gov. Kathy Hochul Admits Andrew Cuomo Covered Up COVID Deaths, 12,000 More Died Than Reported

When it comes to protecting people from COVID, Andrew Cuomo is already the worst governor in America. New York has the second highest death rate per capita, in part because he signed an executive order putting COVID patients in nursing…Continue Reading

Prayers For Cardinal Burke . . . U.S. Cardinal Burke says he has tested positive for COVID-19

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke said he has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. In an Aug. 10 tweet, he wrote: “Praised be Jesus Christ! I wish to inform you that I have recently…Continue Reading

Democrats Block Amendment Banning Late-Term Abortions, Stopping Abortions Up to Birth

Senate Democrats have blocked an amendment that would ban abortions on babies older than 20 weeks. During consideration of the multi-trillion spending package, pro-life Louisiana Senator John Kennedy filed an amendment to ban late-term abortions, but Democrats steadfastly support killing…Continue Reading

Transgender student wins as U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs bathroom appeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to a transgender former public high school student who waged a six-year legal battle against a Virginia county school board that had barred him from using the bathroom corresponding…Continue Reading

New York priest accused by security guard of assault confirms charges have now been dropped

NEW YORK, June 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A New York priest has made his first public statement regarding the dismissal of charges against him.  Today Father George W. Rutler reached out to LifeSiteNews and other media today with the following…Continue Reading

21,000 sign petition protesting US Catholic bishops vote on Biden, abortion

More than 21,000 people have signed a letter calling for U.S. Catholic bishops to cancel a planned vote on whether President Biden should receive communion.  Biden, a Catholic, supports abortion rights and has long come under attack from some Catholics over that…Continue Reading

Bishop Gorman seeks candidates to fill two full time AP level teaching positions for the 2021-2022 school year in the subject areas of Calculus/Statistics and Physics

Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Regional Catholic School is a college preparatory school located in Tyler, Texas. It is an educational ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler led by Bishop Joseph Strickland. The sixth through twelfth grade school provides a…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1


Today . . .

">Great News for Italy. Italy’s new Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. Giorgia Meloni’s electrifying speech at the World Congress of Families

Bishops, priests and scholars correct Pope Francis’ statement on Holy Communion

(LifeSiteNews) — Four bishops, several priests, and numerous Catholic scholars have signed a statement rebuking Pope Francis for a recent statement about the reception of Holy Communion, according to which “everyone is invited to the supper of the wedding of the Lamb (Re 19:9). To be admitted to the feast all that is required is the wedding garment of faith which comes from the hearing of his Word.” The Pope wrote these words in his…Continue Reading

A futuristic Nur-Sultan ready welcomes Pope Francis to Kazakhstan

As Pope Francis prepares to depart for Kazakhstan on Tuesday, our correspondent in Nur-Sultan takes a look at his upcoming participation in the 7th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, as well as the small Catholic community’s great joy to receive the Holy Father.

Joe Biden Calls MAGA Americans Violent, Ignores Leftist Violence Against Churches, Pregnancy Centers

Illuminated with blood-red lights, draped in inky shadows, and flanked by U.S. Marines, President Biden launched into an angry screed Thursday night, using dangerous and inciting rhetoric to attack so-called “MAGA Republicans.” It was a terrifying sight that drew praise and flowery language from the “journalists” of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 as they lauded the “full frontal attack” and asserted he was “reclaiming patriotism.” “President Biden finishing a 24-minute speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. He said as…Continue Reading

Pope Francis creates 20 cardinals for the Catholic Church

Rome Newsroom, Aug 27, 2022 / 08:31 am Pope Francis created 20 new cardinals for the Catholic Church during a liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica Saturday. “Jesus calls us by name; he looks us in the eye and he asks: Can I count on you?” Pope Francis said in a homily addressed to the College of Cardinals and its new members on Aug. 27. “The Lord,” he said, “wants to bestow on us his own…Continue Reading

Who Makes More Money In America?

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY The money earned by American households has grown enormously since 1967, when President Lyndon Baines Johnson was still in office and the hippie generation was celebrating its so-called Summer of Love.The median household income in the United States that year was $50,803 in constant 2021 dollars, according to the Census Bureau’s…Continue Reading

An Attack On Human Life . . . Pope Benedict Condemns “Intrinsic Evil” Of Abortion

By STEVEN ERTELT (LifeNews) — During his time as the leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict was a consistent pro-life voice condemning the evil of abortion. In comments posted on Twitter the morning of September 21, Benedict XVI reminded people that abortion is evil and an attack on human life.He made it clear that…Continue Reading

Biden Is Losing The Race For The Cure

By STEPHEN MOORE President Joe Biden recently announced, with great fanfare, his Cancer Moonshot initiative. Biden used soaring and promising rhetoric about, at last, finding a cure for one of the world’s leading killers.Speaking at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston on September 12, the president declared:“Beating cancer is something we…Continue Reading

Becoming Pro-Life The Hard Way

By DONALD DeMARCO “Aujourd’hui Maman est morte. Ou, hier, peut-etre; je ne sais pas.” (Today my mother died. Or was it yesterday, I don’t know.) + + This is the celebrated opening of Nobel Laureate Albert Camus’ novel, The Stranger. It immediately establishes the main character as a person who, being emotionally unmoved by the…Continue Reading

The Queen: End Of An Era

By JOHN J. METLZER The Queen has died; the page of history has turned. The passing of Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest serving monarch, has shocked and saddened much of the world despite the sovereign’s declining health and her 96 years of age. Just months after having joyfully celebrated her platinum Jubilee commemorating 70 years…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

On Being Faithful In A Few Things . . . Before Being Ruler Over Many Things

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope posted this commentary on September 17 and it is reprinted here with permission.) + + I. Analysis of the Sinner — In the opening lines of the Gospel, Jesus describes a sinful steward.Delusion (of the sinner) — Jesus said to His disciples, “A rich man had a steward. . . .”Notice…Continue Reading

How Long, O Lord?

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Seventh Sunday In Ordinary Time Readings:Hab. 1:2-3, 2:2-42 Tim. 1:6-8, 13-14Luke 17:5-10 The first reading today, from the Prophet Habakkuk, is very apropos for our time. As it was in his day, so too it is in ours: people crying to God for help, but nothing seems to happen; people crying out “violence,” but God does…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I don’t use rosary beads to say the rosary since I pray in the car or while doing gardening or housework. Is it okay to pray the rosary daily with my fingers? Also, I have seen pictures of St. Joseph with lilies, and I have been told that is the way he was chosen to be the husband of…Continue Reading

Future Bleak for Vatican II Mass

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK My parish is forced back into compliance with the “unique liturgical expression of the Roman rite” this month, as expressed by Pope Francis in Traditionis custodes, with the banning of the traditional Latin Mass in my as well as in other parish churches. This in order to open us to the full experience of the…Continue Reading

Crazy! . . . A Homily For The 24th Sunday Of The Year

(Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope posted this on September 10 and it is posted here with permission.) + + The three parables in this Sunday’s lengthy Gospel challenge conventional thinking. They describe people doing things that we most likely would not do. All three of them — especially the first two — seem crazy. Who would ever do what the…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Augustine Of Canterbury

By DEB PIROCH Apostle, Benedictine monk, first archbishop of Canterbury, and the founder of the First Eccliastical See in England, St. Augustine of Canterbury is not a name remembered by many Americans. But as England buries Queen Elizabeth II this week, we hear much of Her Majesty’s Christian faith. Without St. Augustine’s work, would Christianity in England exist at all…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Bridget

By DEB PIROCH “Oh my friends, I love my sheep so tenderly that were it possible I would die many other times for each one of them that same death I suffered for the redemption of all” — Words attributed to Christ, Revelations of St. Bridget. + + In 1999, Pope St. John Paul II issued a moto proprio, making…Continue Reading