By Protopresbyter Fr. John S. Romanides
First we must have in mind that historically there was never a distinction between the so-called Byzantine Empire and the Roman Empire. Our ancestors only knew that they were citizens of the state known as Romania and that this state in the years of the greatest leader of Romiosini, Constantine the Great, spread throughout the entire Mediterranean area, which today covers England, Portugal, Spain, France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, the Balkans, all of North Africa, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, and the Russian coast of the Black Sea.
The Patriarch of Alexandria, Athanasius the Great, the foremost Father of the First Ecumenical Synod (325) convened by Constantine the Great, writes that Rome was a Metropolis of Romania, in one onslaught of his against the Arian heretics, who tried to banish Pope Liberius of Rome (352-366): "They spared not even Liberius, Bishop of Rome, but extended their fury even to those parts; they respected not his bishopric, because it was an Apostolical throne; they felt no reverence for Rome, because she is the Metropolis of Romania" (History of the Arians, 5.35). The scientific division of the united historic Romania between a Roman and Byzantine Empire is a construct of Frankish conquerors of the West in the Romiosini of France, Italy, Switzerland and Austria. The Franks were the first to call the Romans of the East only Greek, following the previous example of the Goths. To the Emperor of the Romans in Constantinople the Franks yielded the title "Emperor of the Greeks", and simultaneously called the Teutonic Frank leader of Germany "Emperor of the Romans", that they may cut off the allegiance of those who inhabited the West and the enslaved Romans from Constantinople New Rome and turn the national feelings of these enslaved Romans of the West towards the false German "Emperor of the Romans". At the same time they condemned as heretics those whom they exclusively called "Greeks", the Eastern Romans, and so laid the foundations of the medieval hatred of the Roman Franks that assimilated in the West against Eastern Romiosini, which peaked with the fall of Constantinople to the Franks and the establishment of the Frankish occupation in the East. The Frankish occupation of Romiosini did not begin with the appearance of the Franks in the East. The Frankish occupation begins with the Frankish conquest of the said western provinces of Romania.
Thus Western Romiosini was urged to become like them, who over time came to learn that in the East, in Constantinople New Rome, there are not Romans but "heretical Greeks" with a "Greek kingdom". From the middle of the ninth century the tradition became established among Frankish theologians to write works that bore the title, Against the Errors of the Greeks.
Contrary to the Frankish conquerors of Western Romiosini, the Arab and Turkish conquerors of Eastern Romiosini always with respect call the citizens of Romania "Rum", which means Roman or Romios. For this reason the patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem are to this day called in Turkish and Arabic "Rum Patrik", namely Patriarch of the Romans. The Orthodox expatriots in Constantinople are called in Greek "Romaioi" or "Romeoi" and in Turkish "Rum". In the other ancient patriarchates they are called in Arabic "Rum". In the Koran of Muhammad there is an entire chapter (30), where the founder of Islam writes about the temporary fall of the Romans to the Persians in the Middle East and prophesies of their final triumph, which indeed happened under Heraclius after a few years. It is clear from this chapter that Muhammad at this time had the impression that he preached the same faith of the Romans of Constantinople New Rome.
It should also be noted that in Syrian and Ethiopian sources of the Middle Ages, those who are today wrongly called Byzantine were always called Roman. Indeed, the modern Greeks who after 1821 called the Fathers "Greeks" were in fact always known as Roman Fathers, just as it occurred with us before 1821.
In the Middle East the so-called Roman Catholics today in Greece were called Latins and Franks, exactly as it was in Greece and Asia Minor under the Turkish occupation, as well as in the years when Romania was free. Historically in the Middle Ages a Roman and a Catholic was one who was subject to the Orthodox Roman patriarchates which were centered in Constantinople. The European conquerors of Western Romiosini were not Romans. They were Franks, Lombards, Burgundians, Saxons, Normans and Goths, who over time made the conquered Romans like them, automatically changing them into the serfs of European Feudalism. The Europeans of the Middle Ages are called Latins because they adopted Latin as their official language. Only Orthodox Christians united with Constantinople New Rome were Romans, whose official language was Greek. During the Turkish occupation the Franks called their own not Catholics but Catolics.
This distinction between Latin and Roman is clearly seen from the following question, which was posed to Bishop John of Kitros in Macedonia at the end of the twelfth century. "Orthodox Romans are buried in Latin churches and are chanted according to the Roman and Latin, and those who died that were Latin are likewise chanted according to the Roman and Latin without distinction. Should this be penanced or not?"
In the same century, the twelfth, Patriarch Theodore Balsamon of Antioch wrote the following concerning mixed marriages between Romans and Latins: "It should be noted, that according to the present canon, fittingly, it urges to deny Latins a place in the church, if they take a Roman woman."
It should be noted that historically it appears clear from Roman legislation, that Romans were never identified with the ancient Latins or Italians, even when Old Rome was the capital of the empire.
The Turkish assignment of the name of the medieval state of Romania, the actual name which is detrimental to national interests today, of the so-called Byzantine state, is the name Roumeli. The historical rights of Romiosini are clearly seen by the use of this name by the Turks. Before the fall the Turks called Roumeli all the free areas of Asia Minor and Europe, and whatever was administrated under the Emperor of the Romans in Constantinople New Rome. But even until the beginnings of this century (20th), the Turks called Roumeli all of Thrace, all of Macedonia, all of Epirus, and generally all the areas from Belgrade to the Peloponnese. Thus, Roumeli was the European part of the Ottoman Empire. During this entire time the Turks even retained the name of Constantinople. Paradoxically, while the Turks retained the geographic name of our empire, namely Roumeli, modern Greeks abolished it and replaced it with the name Hellas, which was the name of a small province of greater Roumeli or Romania.
Source: From the book Romiosini, Thessaloniki, 1975, pp. 18-23. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
Romiosini and Hesychasm
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou
Romiosini is closely connected with hesychasm. The Roman Fathers were hesychasts and not thinkers. This is how Fr. John Romanides interpreted Romiosini.
In one of his oral speeches on this Orthodox subject he referred to Martin Jugie, whom he said announced the death of Romiosini and hesychasm in Greece. And Fr. John said: "I don't think these issues go together randomly, hesychasm and Romiosini. The plan was to extinguish one with the other. This is the plan."
This means that Romiosini, according to Fr. John Romanides, does not move along an ethnophyletistic frame, since a Roman hesychast has been liberated from selfishness and is distinguished by love for God and love for people, a selfless love that is not ethnophyletistic.
The Christian who lives within the Church with the Mysteries and the hesychastic way of life, acquires the grace of adoption and exceeds all discrimination which was the result of the first-formed Adam and Eve. The Apostle Paul writes: "So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Gla. 3:26-29). He then goes on to speak of the prayer of the heart, which is done by the Holy Spirit and is the evidence of adoption by grace.
This means that those who live the hesychastic tradition, combined with Baptism and the Mysteries of the Church, exceed the distinction between Jews and Greeks, slave or free, male and female.
Within this perspective, so-called therapy, which Fr. John listed as the spirit of Romiosini, is something which cannot become or be perceived as nationalism. Anyone who acts or works ethnophyletistically, is outside the sacramental and hesychastic tradition of the Orthodox Church.
Source: From "Fr. John Romanides, a Leading Dogmatic Theologian". Translated by John Sanidopoulos.