Canon 34. Papal Primacy of "HONOR"?

What of the Canon 34 of The Apostolic Canon, which state The Pope has a “Primacy of Honor”? So how is this to be taken? A friend is badgering me about this and saying I need to convert to Orthodoxy because f it yet I quote fathers like St. Theodore The Studite when he said, “Save us oh most divine Head of Heads, Chief Shepherd of The Church of Heaven” (Theodore, Bk. I. Ep. 23) I told her that doesn’t sound like an Easterner calling for help to someone who has no teeth to give it nor arms to enforce it… She just kept ranting with the canons… Is there a counter canon out there? HELP??? :confused::shrug:

have her provide a copy of the Canon as she is reading it. or post it here. because what i have read about Apostolic Canon 34 NEVER said that so i don’t know

I don’t see how she sees this as a problem. The Pope does have primacy of honor (at least as I understand it). However, this does not at all mean that he is not anything more, if you get what I mean (frankly, I’m not sure I understand myself)…

Have you read the Canon?

There are several translations in English, I am sure, but I think they all say something similar. Here is an example…
34. Do not ye receive any stranger, whether bishop, or presbyter, or deacon, without commendatory letters; and when such are offered, let them be examined. And if they be preachers of piety, let them be received; but if not, supply their wants, but do not receive them to communion: for many things are done by surprise.
35. **The bishops of every country ought to know who is the chief among them, and to esteem him as their head, and not to do any great thing without his consent; but every one to manage only the affairs that belong to his own parish, and the places subject to it. But let him not do anything without the consent of all; for it is by this means there will be unanimity, and God will be glorified by Christ, in the Holy Spirit. **
36. A bishop must not venture to ordain out of his own bounds for cities or countries that are not subject to him. But if he be convicted of having done so without the consent of such as governed those cities or countries, let him be deprived, both the bishop himself and those whom he has ordained.

In this rendition, the relevant canon would be numbered as 35. Sometimes it is counted as 34.

I believe that you are condensing a much larger discussion into one point, the bishop of Rome is not specifically mentioned here at all.

These “canons” are very old, but probably no older than the 3rd century.

If you want a counter to this, you would refer to the modern Code of Canon law.

But what you quote is not referring directly to a “specific” leader …namely The Pope by whose Council it is started to begin with so I still don’t see those words there… but phraseology… if at best… do you?:shrug:

No, no one in particular is mentioned by name or title. This text refers to a Metropolitan bishop as the one who is chief among the bishops of a region.

“…namely The Pope by whose Council it is started to begin with …” I am not sure I follow you here. Could you elaborate on this point?

And you are right…I cannot see that here…Reverend…

Ok… when she is able to produce it as i have asjed her to on numerous occasions… The good reverend dressed in black has been able to showcase it…she an ORTHODOX couln’t…lol…i fond that strange…to argue something you can’t have a quote for…She just said it as if she got it from someone else…I will quote here what she wrote me…

The papacy was “defined”, “primacy of honor”, first amongst equals", the head of the college of bishops, not a universal infallibility, not God’s vicar on earth. Canon 34 of the Apostolic Canons.

That’s all she wrote to me. everend in black…Hygosyphus…something…can you comment…your an Orthodox…

I am not a reverend, just a tired old guy. :stuck_out_tongue:

I am not a reverand, just a tired old guy! :stuck_out_tongue:

But you have a reverends cloak on. Hmmm…i dont get it

That is just a picture. Some people have pictures of the Blessed Mother, Michael just went with a picture of a Cleric. He is a great resource though for an Orthodox perspective.

ohhhhhh…you mean like an avatar?? ohhhhhhhhh…i got it… iam blonde too…dunt laf…:o

so can somebody tell me if the primacy of the pope was taught or not in the early church, please??? :confused:

i just wanna know the role of the pope, OK?

What should happen if one of these bishops falls into error or heresy. how are they deposed?:shrug:

The Bishop of Rome, by virtue of the fact that Sts Peter and Paul were there, established the Church there and consecrated their Successors there, always had an authority above that of other bishops/patriarchs. When the Bishop of Rome spoke, the Christian Church listened and obeyed.

The bishop of Rome did NOT get involved in the jurisdictional issues of other Churches, unless he was asked to get involved. At Ecumenical Councils, the Roman Pontiff/Patriarch had the first seat. And over time, the Byzantine East itself gave Rome a pre-eminence and authority that Rome itself did not seek out i.e. the Sixth Ecumenical Council. Both the Byzantine Emperor and the Ecumenical Patriarch needed a referree in the person of the Pope to settle their ongoing conflicts. And even though Pope Honorius’s behaviour was condemned at the sixth ec. Council, this did not prevent the East from practically glorifying the papacy.

It is interesting that the Orthodox Church numbers more saintly popes of Rome from the first millennium in its calendar than even the Roman Catholic Church e.g. Pope St Liberius who is not in the Roman Canon of Saints. And the Orthodox Church of Kievan Rus’ always glorified Pope St Clement as one of her Apostolic Founders (along with St Andrew).


I once read a supposedly unbiased history of the Church which said that the early Pope held Universal Dogmatic, but not “canonical authority”. I thought about it for a while and it makes no sense for the Pope to have had teaching authority without the authority to enforce it. The Pope’s temporal power certainly grew over time, but I don’t think his inter-Church authority did.

Eusebius makes a mention in his history (not the one referenced above) of the actions of Pope Victor around 195 AD, when he announced the excommunication of all Eastern Christians due to an Easter dispute. Eusebius mentions that he was strongly rebuked for doing this, but not that anyone protested Victor’s authority to do so. The problems between the East and West grew over time, and the Great Schism was actually like the FIFTH break between the two. It was temporarily healed and then two more schisms happened, bringing the number to seven. It’s really a topic worthy of study. THere’s enough evidence of the Pope for me.

Actually, it was only the churches of Asia he was going to break communion with (this was not what we call modern Asia, the continent, it was modern western Turkey including the 7 churches mentioned in St John’s Revelation).

This would have been a problem because the other churches in the east were pretty clearly not willing to break communion with the Asian churches, and pretty clearly didn’t wish to break communion with the city of Rome either. It would have been messy and complicated and divisive … unnecessarily so.

Eventually the issue of a common date for Pascha was agreed, without schism, but not by the bishop of Rome. It was settled at the Council of Nicea about 130 years later by the assembled bishops from all over the church in which the churches of Asia participated.

All churches had the authority to break communion with other churches, so of course they wouldn’t question that he could do it. They questioned his reasoning.

You probably think that if he had done so, the Asian churches would have been “thrown out of the church” by him. But that is not the case, unless all the other churches were also willing to excommunicate the Asian churches, and they evidently were not.

FWIW, I was reading some of the letters of Saint Ambrose, Metropolitan of Milan, and I was surprised to find that he excommunicated some bishops in Spain or Gaul (I forget, I am at work and don’t have the book handy). From his perspective this was necessary, a matter of principle, but it was a messy business and nobody likes it. The odd thing is, both Saint Ambrose and the other bishops involved seem to have continued to be in communion with everyone else. This was many years after the Asian churches/Roma Pascha controversy.

My guess is this kind of thing probably happened more often than most people realize.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit