Further Constantinopolitan Thoughts

After news like those reported in my previous post surface, it generally doesn’t take too long for someone (usually in North America) to ask why won’t the Ecumenical Patriarchate just move out of Constantinople. After all (so the reasoning goes) the Patriarchate of Antioch is now exiled in Damascus; why couldn’t the Patriarchate of Constantinople exile itself to, say, Patmos or Thessalonica, both of which are under its jurisdiction, finally putting behind itself this tedious, multisecular ordeal?
Well, grasshopper, this is because the Patriarch of Constantinople is, above all, the real Bishop of a real flock in a real city. And while this flock, through relentless repression and brutal ethnic cleansing, has dwindled in less than a century from a flourishing 250,000 to a mere 5,000 cornered in a single quarter of the once glorious Queen of Cities, they should on no account be deprived of their Bishop. If the Patriarch chose to exile himself, the godless Turkish government would never recognize his canonical jurisdiction over his Constantinopolitan flock (seeing how they consider him to be the head of the Greek community strictly in Turkey); and since no other Bishop could be named to the See, the diocese would effectively be orphaned. Also, given the Turkish modus operandi, one can imagine that commemorating at the Divine Services the rightful (but exiled) Patriarch would come to be considered a criminal act on Turkish soil, and so the stage would be set for the final extermination of the last remaining pocket of the native Greek population of Asia Minor. May God deliver us from that day!

Now, let us add a drop of utter delusion to an otherwise sensible (if, as we have seen, enormously misguided) thought, courtesy of the Militant Americanist OrthodoxTM (who are to be distinguished, of course, from normal Orthodox Americans): why doesn’t the Ecumenical Patriarch (again, like the Patriarch of Antioch) exile himself, but by moving to the US instead? “That way,” say they, “we get undisputed autocephaly, and even a patriarch of our own.” (I can’t tell if the author of this particular comment was serious, or seriously thought he was offering the solution to end all solutions, or what, but I have certainly heard that thought seriously expressed more than once.)

Well, for a start, because the New World is not a part of the historic canonical territory of the Ecumenical Patriarchate the way Damascus is part of that of the Patriarchate of Antioch, so the situation would not really be analogous (as it would be, for instance, if the Ecumenical Patriarchate moved to Patmos). But further, for Patriarch Bartholomew to be the Primate of an Autocephalous Orthodox Church in the Americas, he would have to be the Bishop of a local diocese in the New World, even as he now is Archbishop of Constantinople, and thus Primate of the Autocephalous Church of Constantinople. Now, even if there suddenly came to be a single Autocephalous Church in the Americas, and if Patriarch Bartholomew moved to the US and became “Archbishop of Washington and Patriarch of the New World” or some such, this new Church would be the last in the precedence of honor among the world’s Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, and its Primate (even if he himself had been Ecumenical Patriarch before) would be the very last to be commemorated in the diptychs by each of the Primates of the other Churches. Which is to say that the Primate of an Autocephalous American Orthodox Church would not be the new primus inter pares of the Orthodox episcopacy; pride of place would go then to the Patriarch of Alexandria. So, is that clear enough? Good.

Really, sometimes I wonder where in the world people get their ideas!

Advertisements

5 responses to “Further Constantinopolitan Thoughts

  1. For the record, I never imagined that that would be a good idea, but merely one of relatively evenhanded odiousness for all.

    Like

  2. Well, as I said above, I wasn’t sure one way or another, but I’m certainly relieved to learn that you weren’t necessarily advancing the idea! That said, again, I’ve heard it seriously proposed enough times to warrant some kind of a response.

    Like

  3. At what point does the position of the Ecumenical Patriarchate become completely untenable? When perhaps there is only a frail and elderly bishop left and one or two retainers? That position might be much closer than we think. By then any significance attaching to the EP would have evapourated. Why not plan for the future from a position of relative strength whilst there is still time or are we still so locked into past glories and inflexible canonical positions that we risk losing ut all?

    Like

  4. At what point does the position of the Ecumenical Patriarchate become completely untenable?

    Since, again, “the Patriarch of Constantinople is, above all, the real Bishop of a real flock in a real city,” his position becomes completely untenable at the point, near or far in time, when the Archdiocese of Constantinople is completely exterminated (God forbid!). At that point, barring the decision of another Ecumenical Council (or, I suppose, some other universal decision agreed upon by all the Churches) to the contrary, the Patriarch of Alexandria simply becomes the primus inter pares of the Orthodox episcopacy. I don’t see what we stand to lose by following this relatively simple order if and when the time comes–unless, of course, our understanding of the role of the primus inter pares of the Orthodox episcopacy is tainted by Vaticanism.

    Like

  5. the New World is not a part of the historic canonical territory of the Ecumenical Patriarchate the way Damascus is part of that of the Patriarchate of Antioch, so the situation would not really be analogous (as it would be, for instance, if the Ecumenical Patriarchate moved to Patmos).Ah, but I thought the New World was part of the ‘barbarian lands’! ;-)

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s