April 6, 2013

The Ontology of the Papacy

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The decision of the Holy Synod is known regarding the visit of the Pope to Greece. It will receive the Pope as a secular leader, as head of the Vatican State, who had accepted an invitation from the leader of the Greek State and is visiting Greece. Within this framework the Church of Greece will define its position.

I would like to proceed to express some thoughts on the very existence of the Papacy.

1. Church and Papacy

Some mistakenly speak of a Catholic Church, but because the term Catholic coincides with Orthodox, it belongs to the Orthodox Church, as well as the word Church which is not appropriate for the Vatican.

The Papacy is outside the Church, and this is shown by two Synods, which for Orthodox are considered Ecumenical, that took place because of the Filioque and the uncreated energies of God.

In the Eighth Ecumenical Synod with Photios the Great, among whom were present representatives of the then Orthodox Pope of Rome, the Frankish bishops were condemned, who added to the Creed the Filioque, because such an addition "knowingly introduces something unknown and is an inexcusable assault on the Fathers" which is why they are "subjected to complete defrocking if he happens to be one of the clergymen, or be sent away with an anathema if he happens to be one of the lay people" (Horos of the 8th Ecumenical Synod). Of course this same condemnation applies to the Pope of Rome, ever since the first Frankish Pope (Sergius IV) occupied the throne of Rome and introduced the Filioque in his enthronement letter (in 1009), and Benedict VII introduced it officially into the Creed which was read during the Divine Liturgy (in 1014). It is characteristic that the Synodikon of Orthodoxy says that those who alienate "God the Word and the consubstantial and co-glorified Paraclete Spirit, of God-like equal honor and worth, are anathema".

The Synod of 1341 with Gregory Palamas says in its Synodal Tomos that those who accept the energies of God as created, and especially those who accept that the Light of Divinity is created, as was taught by the scholastic uniate Barlaam the Calabrian, and, of course, is a key tenet of the Papacy as it appears in the works of Thomas Aquinas, are to be found outside the Church. It is written that those who claim such opinions and do not repent "are to be removed and renounced from Christ's holy catholic and apostolic Church and the Orthodox Christian establishment".

The Synodikon of Orthodoxy anathematizes whoever accepts the ideas of Plato, that is, the metaphysical and ontological views of Analogia Entis, that there is an analogy between God and the world, and Analogia Fidei, that there is a similarity between God and Holy Scripture. It also anathematizes those who do not accept the dogmas with pure and simple faith and their entire heart, "but await proofs and logical sophistries", that is, those who introduce the scholastic method of the knowledge of God.

In analyzing more about this we can mention the great fathers and theologians of the Papacy, Anselm of Canterbury and Thomas Aquinas, whose teachings are accepted in Papal theology.

Anselm of Canterbury drafted and introduced the doctrine of the satisfaction of divine justice, that the sin of Adam changed the justice of God and the sacrifice of Christ on the cross atoned divine justice and restored order in creation. This distortion of the truth about God, which shows God to have qualities of a passionate man, who is offended and affected, is also a deterioration of the mystery of the divine incarnation and sacrifice on the cross by Christ. Of course, the theology of divine justice and the atonement adopted the feudal system with all of its theological and social consequences.

Thomas Aquinas is the most characteristic representative of scholasticism who attempted to combine the theories of Aristotle and Augustine. Among other things, he identified the uncreated energies of God with the uncreated essence, after speaking about the so-called actus purus, and introduced the mistaken view that God's energies are created, thus presenting a eudaministic God who is in fact unreachable, unknowable, impersonal, and of course, teaches that man is in communion with the created energies of God. That is, love, divine grace, and the peace of God are created energies of God. From this perspective comes the teaching that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (Filioque), the purgatorial fire, infallibility, etc. These theories were condemned by the Seventh Ecumenical Synod, and by the Synod of Gregory Palamas which is considered the Ninth Ecumenical Synod, as presented in the Synodikon of Orthodoxy. It anathematizes all those who don't confess that there is "both essence and essential, natural energy."

For all these reason St. Gregory Palamas says: "Those who are of the Church of Christ, the same are of the truth; and those who are not of the truth, the same are also not of the Church of Christ." St. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, also says the same: those "outside the Church" are automatically "outside the Church", because they do not accept the traditions of the Apostles and the Faith of the Church. We consider them, according to St. Irenaeus, "as heretics and cacodox, who have torn themselves (from the Church) out of pride and insolence."

2. Apostolic Succession and the Papacy

Because they are outside the Church, they do not have the Mysteries (Sacraments), which is why the clergy of the Papacy and the Pope himself, for us Orthodox, do not have the priesthood, and have been cut off from Apostolic Succession.

Of course, this may sound a little strange, but this is the reality on the basis of Orthodox theology.

Apostolic Succession is not simply a series of ordinations, but at the same time it is the sharing of revealed truth. When a church cuts itself off from the trunk of the Orthodox Church because of doctrinal differences, this means it no longer has the mystery of the priesthood. That is, when revelatory truth is lost and heretical opinions are adopted, this has implications in the Apostolic Succession. The Apostles transmitted the gift of the priesthood, but at the same time they gave, through regeneration, the entire revelatory tradition.

At this point it is good to be reminded of the teaching of St. Irenaeus the Bishop of Lyons, where he shows clearly that the Church is linked very closely with Orthodoxy and Eucharist, which means that when the Orthodox Faith is lost, there is neither a Church nor a Divine Eucharist. So the Cleric who loses his Orthodox Faith is cut off from the Church, and of course, for him apostolic tradition and apostolic succession is lost. That St. Irenaeus links Apostolic Succession not only with the priesthood, but with the keeping of the true Faith, is shown from this passage: "Obedience is due to those presbyters who, as we have shown, are in succession after the Apostles, and who with their episcopal succession have received according to the will of the Father the gift of truth."

Since, therefore, there is no priesthood for those under the Papacy, for this reason there are no mysteries, and those that are performed are not sanctifying mysteries. But if, as some claim, the Pope does have priesthood, then their Eucharist is valid and the bread present on their altar is Christ. But these fall into two errors: they violate many sacred Canons and they turn away from Christ Himself.

Generally we must say that the Vatican is not a Church, but a politico-economic system, located outside the Church, and the Pope together with all the "Clergy" of the Vatican are not successors of the Apostles, and do not have apostolic tradition or succession.

Therefore, it should be emphasized that we Orthodox Christians are Romaioi-Romans, that is, descendants of the Roman Empire, and Catholic, that is, Orthodox, since the term Catholic refers to all Orthodox. The Papists are Franco-Latins, after the seizure of the throne of Rome by the Franks, as well as heretics.

In times of confusion, such as our time, we must be confessors of the Faith, martyrs for the truth, and pastors who shepherd God's people with criteria and conditions that are ecclesiological, that lead to salvation.

Source: Paremvasis, March 2001. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.