Re: THE POPE IS THE FIRST AMONG THE PATRIACHS - BYZANTINE ORTHODOX -
- Rev. Dn. Aniss Sowmy,
Your narration about the history of early Christianity is noteworthy. I just add some more points onto it. In fact, in the early century Christianity was spread out largely in the Asiaminor(From Turkey to India) area. Although Christianity was expanded to Europe during that period it was largely focused in city base and remember that at that time Europeans believed in mystic God. Christianity was spread in Europe under the rule of Emperor Constantine(272-337 AD) who ruled from Spain to current Syria headquartered at Rome known as Western Roman Empire . His predecessor Diocletian persecuted Christians vigorously and demolished many churches and killed bishops and priests throughout the Roman empire including Jerusalem. When Constantine took over he allowed religious freedom and helped building churches in various part of the empire and he himself converted into Christianity in his 40s. Since then only Rome emerged as the major Christian centre and lately the Bishop of Rome became influential in the state matters. The Western Roman Empire collapsed in 476 AD. During fifth to eight centuries kings of Rome were merely weak in administration that helped Bishop of Rome to extend his influence through out the Roman Empire. That is why Pope now uses Bishop of Rome with his title of Pope while writing Apostolic Bull. While Eastern Orthodox church was establised in 1050 AD at Constantinople, the city built by Emperor Constantine, and it became the capital of Eastern Roman Empire. Under this empire Christians won the Crusade during the 11th century that propped the Patriarch of Constantinople importance in the rellegious as well as administrative matters of the empire. The Eastern Roman Empire collapsed in 1453 AD so much so that the importance of Constantinople lost in the Entire Roman Empire. Lately, when the head of the church of Western Roman Empire(Pope) and the head of the Eastern Roman Empire (Patriarch ) reconciled that gave primacy to Pope over the Patriarch of Eastern Roman Orthodox Church.( And when the Westphalian State system emerged in Europe in 1648 many of the countries became under the control of Pope while others declared independence from the Papacy). That is why Pope is above Patriarch over Eastern Orthodox Church Patriarchs, but not over the Oriental Orthodox Churches, like SOC, Armenian and Coptic.
J M Paul