Thursday, May 21. 2009
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I think there is a typo or mistake in "Chalcedon Canon 28: Historic Truth or Greek Mythology?" by Nick Katich when he states: 'St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain translated the Canons into English...' Does he mean that St. Nicodemus translated the canons into (then) more modern Greek, or something else?
There are no two views of Canon 28. Canon 28 says what Canon 28 says - period. It is ridiculous to interpret this canon as giving the Bishop of Istanbul authority over the whole world - ridiculous. Local bishops have authority over local churches - period. Foreign bishops do not have authority over churches outside their own territory.
And, the Bishop of Istanbul is NOT the absolute distributor of "autocephaly." This is another ridiculous fallacy. If the Phanar waited 141 years to grant it's "official" recognition of autocephaly to the Russian/Kiev Church (and only after much $$$ was given), it can wait until hell freezes over for the OCA to pay!
#2 Anonymous on 2009-05-21 09:41
Very interesting. One correction, however.
The author states that the EP's 1908 Tomos did not make the claim of authority over all of America because "Meletios IV Metaxakis was not yet Archbishop of Constantinople and had not yet 'invented' the mythology of the present Phanariot interpretation of Canon 28."
This is inaccurate. The 1908 Tomos itself includes the following:
"For, it is obvious that neither the Holy Church of Greece... nor any other Church or Patriarchate, could canonically extend its authority beyond the boundaries of its defined jurisdiction except our Apostolic and Patriarchal Ecumenical Throne; this both by virtue of the privilege accorded to it to ordain bishops in the barbarian lands which are beyond the defined limits of the ecclesiastical jurisdictions, and by virtue of its seniority to extend its ultimate protection to the said Churches in foreign territories."
Now, I certainly don't AGREE with that statement, but the fact that it actually appeared in the 1908 Tomos proves that Metaxakis did not "invent" the EP's current interpretation of Canon 28.
#3 Ferris Haddad on 2009-05-21 12:01
I was surprised - though I suppose flattered - to find an older academic paper of mine featured on OCANews.com. The paper was originally presented at a small symposium marking the 550th anniversary of the Council of Chalcedon, which was held at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome early in 2002 (a few months late for the actual anniversary!). I had been asked to speak on the subject of primacy at Chalcedon and its continuing significance for Orthodox - Catholic relations. Not long thereafter, the English-language version of my paper was posted on my faculty page on the SVS website - as the end tag on OCANews.com's republication indicates. I point this out because readers of OCANews.com may find it strange that my text does not directly engage recent intra-Orthodox discussion of Chalcedon canon 28. The paper was written long before the recent spate of articles and comments on the subject, but I do hope that its reappearance will help advance discussion of the critical issue of primacy in the Orthodox Church. Somewhat more recently, at the OCL's 20th anniversary celebration in 2007, I presented a condensed and somewhat less academic version of the paper, in which I which I place discussion of Chalcedon canon 28 in the context of preparations for the long-awaited Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church. This just recently appeared in print as "Overview of History and Difficulties in Preparing for the Council," in_Orthodox Christianity at the Crossroad: A Great Council of the Church - When and Why,_ed. George E. Matsoukas (iUniverse, Inc., New York and Bloomington, 2009) 19-39.
(VRev) John H. Erickson
Professor Emeritus of Canon Law and Church History
St Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary
#4 Fr John H. Erickson on 2009-05-21 12:55
There is a mistake in the article. Peter is the older brother; this is clear from Matthew 17:27.
#5 Russain Observer on 2009-05-22 04:19
If all of the churches in North America come under one set of Bishops, a new order, if you will, there are two possibilities.
One is that Orthodoxy will grow and flourish as outsiders are accepted more readily by the foreign parishes.
The other is that Orthodoxy will shrink as multiple struggling parishes within one city (for example) will combine to make a singular parish.
The division of the Orthodox churches in America has been a blessing and I pray it continue to be one throughout any future changes.
#6 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-05-22 20:05
Since this is an area of specialty of yours, could you present here, succinctly, possibly in bullet form, 10 or so points why the EP and Canon 28 does not hold water? Also, why do the Greeks wish to hold on to this fallacy? How can they claim to follow "The Truth" and represent Orthodox Canon Law when they are clearly manufacturing false interpretations? How can any REAL gathering of autocephalous churches take place when the purpose and outcome is "stacked" for a pre-determined outcome based on fallacy? How can world Orthodoxy really continue to respect the EP?
#7 Anonymous on 2009-05-23 10:28
Re: Nick Katich article
The author is to be commended. Very creative approach to an otherwise dry subject. Personally I had never considered the interpretation of Canon 28 in the context of "Old" Rome and a united Church - very interesting and compelling point of view.
His comments about "...then Rome would have needed New Rome’s permission to do missionary work in Ireland, Scotland, Scandinavia, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Bulgaria and all the Slav lands. History fails to record that Rome sought that permission..." certainly make the point.
It also reminded me that not only did Rome "not seek permission" for evangelistic work..it is also an historical fact that Sts. Cyril and Methodios DID seek (Old) Rome's permission when embarking upon their work among the Slavs in Moravia - approximately 400 years AFTER the adoption of Canon 28. This is precisely the opposite of what one might expect if the current interpretation of Canon 28 were true. In fact, St. Cyril died in Rome and is buried there.
Once again...brilliant article!!!
#8 Dean Calvert on 2009-05-23 12:22
I concur. We know you read this site. Would you be willing to weigh in a little more often, especially on this topic? You've already done the work on this one. We'd love to hear from you. Speaking about Constantinople's prerogatives and role in the past is one thing, claiming Chalcedon 28 speaks about all Orthodox in the New World and Hong Kong and elsewhere is another. We'd love to hear from you!
Whatever one's interpretation of the canons of Chalcedon might be (pro-EP, anti-EP, etc.), it's worth noting that the approach which Mr. Katich takes in his article -- attempting to discern the "original" intent of Canon 28 -- is not itself consonant with the canonical tradition of the Church. Indeed, this is essentially a Protestant hermeneutic, though applied to canons rather than Scripture.
The student of our canonical tradition will note that canons are often interpreted to mean things other than what is presumably their "original" intent, and such innovative interpretation often comes from Ecumenical Councils themselves! This is not surprising, though, considering that such an approach is even taken within Scripture (e.g., the NT) when interpreting Scripture (e.g., the OT).
The canons are not laws, nor are they archaeological artifacts whose "original purpose" is our goal. Rather, they are pastoral tools in the hands of a living episcopacy. Their use in one century is quite often not their use in another. To be sure, one might argue that certain uses are illegitimate (as, for instance, one may argue that one should not use Chalcedon 28 as the EP now does), but to suggest that the only possibly legitimate use is the "original" one is to deny the basic nature of our whole canonical tradition.
One must remember that lawyers, canon lawyers, and canonists are not at all the same thing. One such profession often may completely misunderstand the essence of another.
#10 A Reader on 2009-05-27 07:13
May I point out the following passage from The Canonical Tradition of the Orthodox Church, by Dr. Lewis J. Patsavos, Ph.D. , Holy Cross Seminary?
"In order to effect a rapprochement between the widely divergent views just mentioned, the question must first be asked: How were the holy canons meant to be understood? Nicholas Afanasiev, in his article entitled "The Canons of the Church: Changeable or Unchangeable?" offers a formula which might be acceptable to all factions, (St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 11(1967) 54-68.):
"Canons are a kind of canonical interpretation of the dogmas for a particular moment of the Church's historical existence... They express the truth about the order of Church life, but rather than expressing this truth in absolute forms, they conform to historical existence" (Ibid., p. 60).
Such a formula recognizes the absolute validity of all the canons as practical aids which gave expression to doctrinal truths at some point in history. Some of these aids, however, it sees as having outlived the purpose for which they were originally intended, i.e., they are conditioned by time. Consequently, they cannot give expression to doctrine without causing distortion, simply because they were intended for another era. This, of course, cannot be said of all the canons, since there are many which express doctrine as clearly today as when they were first adopted by the Church. Therefore, while some canons continue to reflect doctrine in practice, others do not and must be seen in historical context in order to be understood. The following example will illustrate this point.
It is a doctrine of the Church that the ecclesiastical hierarchy is an institution ordained by God. There are canons which express this doctrine, but in conformity with the era in which they were adopted. Canon 5 of the Holy Apostles forbids a bishop, presbyter, or deacon to put away his wife under the pretext of religion. A later decision of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod introduced celibacy for the episcopate and directed that all previously ordained bishops should leave their wives. This synod was correct when it said that it was publishing the new decree "not with any intention of setting aside or overthrowing any legislation laid down by the Apostles, but having due regard for the salvation and safety of people and for their advancement." (Ibid., p. 63) The apostolic canon expressed a doctrine concerning the ecclesiastical hierarchy, but in conformity with its era. When the historical conditions of life changed, so too did the manner in which this doctrine was expressed."
Given the above point of view, I would say that Mr. Katich was on point.
#11 Anonymous on 2009-05-27 17:09
Remarkable! Until your very last sentence, I got the impression that you were agreeing with me. I must say that I don't quite understand what appears to be the sudden reversal.
Indeed, I would word your last sentence instead as "Given the above point of view, I would say that Mr. Katich is quite off the point."
This exchange itself throws into fascinating question the whole issue of "originalist" interpretations in general!
#12 A Reader on 2009-05-28 06:17
"Canon 5 of the Holy Apostles forbids a bishop, presbyter, or deacon to put away his wife under the pretext of religion. A later decision of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod introduced celibacy for the episcopate and directed that all previously ordained bishops should leave their wives."
The idea of only celibates or only monastics for the episcopacy was only due to expediency. Under Roman/Byzantine law, a married bishop who owned the church property, passed the property to his progeny. His children may close the churches and keep or sell the land. Also, monastics from monasteries, was where the libraries were. Therefore, monastics were well-read and educated while married bishops were from the village populous and simple, humble men. So, in reality, in today's world, there is no need to continue the farce of looking under every rock for a celibate for the episcopacy. Many are not well educated and most are celibate for good reason.
#13 Anonymous on 2009-05-28 06:49
This exchange also highlights a serious issue in jurisprudence – “Black-Letter Law” versus “Dynamic-Interpretation”.
Under the “Black-Letter Law” rubrics, one is required to interpret Law in the light of the content of the Parliamentary Debate that preceded the final passage of the Law at the time. This is irrespective of whatever later “creative-reinterpreters” would want the Law to mean.
This became known as the “Protestant” interpretation in the West (in reality, simply a revival of the Rabbinic “Orthodox” methodology) in response to the nonsense that had come out of the “old Rome” ever since the fraudulence of the “Donation” of Constantine, and the “Isidoran Decretals”. The “old Rome” was in the congenital habit ever since that time of constantly inventing new “tradition” and cloaking it with a false patina of antiquity – simply to get its own way for whichever Pope was in power at the time.
Under the “Dynamic-Interpretation” rubrics, one is required to sanctify and “canonise” the approach of the “old Rome” ever since the “Donation” of Constantine! It was the approach of the counterfeit Sanhedrin in the time of Christ, It is also the approach of all Jewish “Reform” (Liberal) Synagogues.
Ominously, it is also the approach of all Liberal appointments to the Supreme Court ever since the days of JFK! It was “Dynamic-Interpretation” that invented the “legitimacy” of abortion in Roe vs. Wade. In spite of the fact that it was murder in “Black-Letter” Law of the time!
As Lewis Carroll once put into Alice’s mouth (lightly paraphrased): “When I use a word, I choose to use it how I please, and with whatever meaning I please”
In the words of Joshua’s valedictory charge to the Children of Israel: “Choose ye this day who ye will serve . . .”
As for me and my house, I will serve “Black-Letter Law”
#14 John B on 2009-05-28 21:01
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