28 May 2007, 12:17
Orthodox-Catholic Commission for Theological Dialogue to discuss primacy of the Pope of Rome and Patriarch of Constantinople at the meeting in October in Italy
Vienna, May 28, Interfax - The Moscow Patriarchate intends to assert its own position in the discussion on the primacy of the Pope of Rome in Christendom at the second meeting of the Joint Orthodox-Catholic Theological Commission to take place in October in Ravenna, Italy.
‘Our principal affirmation is this: primacy in the Church is necessary, also on the universal level, but on the level of the Universal Church it cannot be the primacy of jurisdiction but only the primacy of honour’, Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria, Russian Church representative to European organizations, told Interfax on Monday.
‘There can be no compromises’ in this matter for the Moscow Patriarchate, he said. The aim of the theological dialogue is not to make a compromise but to identify the original understanding of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome in the early undivided Church, he noted.
‘Historically, the primacy of the Bishop of Rome in the Christian Church, from our point of view, was that of honour, not jurisdiction. That is to say, the jurisdiction of the Pope of Rome was never applied to all the Churches’, the bishop stressed.
He recalls that in the second millennium, the Pope of Rome have become ‘de facto Patriarch of the West’, while in the East the Church is headed by four patriarchs of local Orthodox Churches.
After the breakup with Rome, primacy in the Orthodox world ‘shifted automatically as it were to Constantinople, though all the early canons ascribe to the Bishop of Constantinople the second place after the Bishop of Rome; no canon speaks of the primacy of Constantinople’, the bishop noted.
‘We consider it (the primacy of Constantinople - IF) exclusively as primacy of honour, while the See of Constantinople itself tends occasionally to give a broad interpretation to this primacy. These are the questions I believe around which principal problems will emerge’, Bishop Hilarion said.
He says the Moscow Patriarchate is drafting a special document to reflect the official point of view of the Russian Orthodox Church on primacy in the Universal Church in general and the primacies of the Bishops of Rome and Constantinople in particular.
See the full text of interview under the Exclusive heading.