Oriental Orthodox and the Pope

What has been the historical response on the part of the Oriential Orthodox to the Catholics’ claims concerning Rome? The Eastern Orthodox, as we know, explicitly rejected claims made by the Pope when they schismed. But what of the OOs? If the Church at that time of the Council of Chalcedon believed in the papacy, would the OOs not have felt the need to give reason to their separation from papal authority (as has been the case with other splits? England, Protestants, the EOs)? Is there evidence of such explicit rejection or, if not, a reason for a lack of such explicit rejection?

I’m not OO, but the impression I’ve gotten is that they think even less of the Pope than Orthodox.

The Schism which occurred over Chalcedon had nothing to do with the Bishop of Rome, and everything to do with the Christological formula as it was decided at said council.

Hmmm, interesting. I am more interested, though, in the attitude of the OO’s closer to the time of their schism.

The Schism which occurred over Chalcedon had nothing to do with the Bishop of Rome, and everything to do with the Christological formula as it was decided at said council.

Of course. None the less, one could argue that, if there was a belief in the supremacy of Rome, that the non-Chalcedonian’s would have felt a need to “justify” their separation from Rome (and, if there is no such record, one might argue that that is evidence against a universal belief in the papacy at the time - hence my concern in the topic).

In many respects, dialogue between the Oriental Orthodox and the Catholic Church has been much more fruitful than dialogue with the Eastern Orthodox.

I would suspect that the Coptic/Oriental would have a more positive approach.

I do not believe the 5 Oriental Orthodox Churches ever had much to do with the Pope-and likely good reasons-excellent book “The Jesus Wars” by Philip Jenkins outlines all the infighting and murders that revolved around the time of the Council of Chalcedon-most of their concern was with the Patriarch of Constantinople

to this day-I am unclear as to why they thought the below squabble was worth death , deception and exile

“when the Council of Chalcedon (451) proclaimed Christ to have two distinct natures–human and divine–united in one person. they objected & believe that which closely follows the teaching of St. Cyril of Alexandria, holding that Christ has only one nature, at once human and divine.”

in the USA they are intensely ethnic Churches with little appeal to the average American

Why would one not lay down his life for Christ? Even though I believe those who opposed Chalcedon were in error, I can still admit that their willingness to die showed that they had great faith in Christ.

My impression has ALWAYS been (even when I was still a formal member of the COC) that the supremacy of the Pope of Rome has never been denied (notwithstanding that to Orientals, the term “supremacy” does not have the absolutist connotations it may have with Easterns and Latins). AFAIK, the issue has only been one of doctrine. High Petrine ecclesiology for the Oriental Orthodox Churches is foundational. Generally, for example, Orientals do not, like many in the EOC, believe that head bishops have no true jurisdiction outside their own diocese. That’s a big roadblock that does not exist among the Orientals.

If the doctrinal issues are completely settled, there is no problem (imo) for the OO to recognize the supremacy of the bishop of Rome (again - it must be stressed - the term “supremacy” does not have the absolutist connotations it may have with Easterns and Latins). The OO cannot recognize the supremacy of someone until his orthodoxy is considered definite.

Of course, the spectre of Absolutist Petrine NEO-ultramontanism also exists among the OO’s perception of the Roman papacy. I suppose that as long as the SSPX persist, that spectre will likewise also exist, since SSPX will present themselves as Catholics. So Catholics faithful to the Catholic Magisterium need to work hard to overcome this misconception about the Roman papacy.


I can’t exactly say you’re wrong there; but as I see, differences between Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox vis-a-vis the papacy are extremely nuanced and subtle.

That is a bit of a weird question. Why would the Oriental Orthodox Church function at all like the Byzantine Chalcedonians or even later rejectors of Rome’s claims? The relation of the OO communion to Rome and the West in general is not at all the same as those other groups (which has both good and bad implications, depending on who you ask), as they are essentially Western themselves and did continue to be in communion with Rome for many centuries after it began making some interesting claims about itself. Lacking as we do any motivation to write tons of screeds against Rome in particular (as, remember, at the time of Chalcedon Rome and its Byzantine compatriots were as one Church), it seems to me that more can be found in the historical OO development which is rooted in strong local traditions that predate both Chalcedon and Roman claims made around that time (read: nothing revolves around Rome in the first place). Did HH Pope Dioscoros provide any sort of statement of rejection of Rome upon receiving from Leo I of Rome a letter that recommended that Alexandria adopt Roman practices, some six years before Chalcedon? Not that anyone living is aware of, but history shows us that the letter must’ve been ignored, as the practices suggested there were not adopted, and Alexandria remained its own distinct church (just as Rome was its own church, or Antioch its own church, or whatever).

You need to adjust your view of history if you ever want to find a satisfactory answer to this question.

The OO are closer to reuniting with the EO than with the RC.

They seem to me to be in roughly the same place in their dialogue as we are. Perhaps it seems like they are closer because they had further to go - with the Christological controversies to sort out - but if they aren’t going to accept councils 4-7 for the sake of union with us, why would they accept 4-22 (or whatever number the West is on now)?

The OO are permitted to partake of communion with us out of economia in some cases; the RC are not.

How exactly did we schism? I know that an Eastern council of bishops excommunicates three papal legates, but there was no official break from communion with the bishop of Rome. I often wonder how this claim that the East schismed from Rome can be justified, when it seems more like Rome cut themselves off from the East.

How would their leaving the Church over a Christological formula (they though we were HERETICS and we thought the same of them too) have anything to do with the primacy of Rome?? When the Novatians left the Church were they concerned with papal primacy or doctrine, when the Eutychians, the Quatrodecimans, Donatists, Montanists, Arians, Paulinists left . . . . were they likewise concerned??? Maybe we can forego any and all our beliefs if we were to base ourselves on the actions/teachings of those who left (universal belief in the primacy is no more contradicted by the actions of those who leave/left mother Church than the universal belief in the Trinity within the Church was undermined by the existence of Arians).

P.S. If you need to find evidence for papal primacy then look to those in the Church not outside of it!

God bless!

The Council of Florence.

The Russian Orthodox Church does allow in cases of emergency for Catholics to partake in their communion:

“To all intent and purposes, mutual recognition of each others Mysteries already exists between us. We do not have communion in the Mysteries, but we do recognize each others Mysteries”, declared Archbishop Hilarion (Alfeev) on the air during a broadcast of the program “The Church and the World” on the television channel “Russia”, on October 17th (video and text, vera.vesti.ru/doc.html?id=237432).

“If a Roman Catholic priest converts to Orthodoxy, we receive him as a priest, and we do not re-ordain him. And that means that, de facto, we recognize the Mysteries of the Roman Catholic Church”, explained Archbishop Hilarion.

Responding to the question of whether Roman Catholics can receive Communion from the Orthodox, or Orthodox Christians from the Roman Catholics, Archbishop Hilarion said that such giving of Communion should not take place, inasmuch as “eucharistic communion has been broken” between the Orthodox and Roman Catholics. But, at the same time, he made clear that in some cases such Communion is possible: “Exceptional cases occur, when, for example, a Roman Catholic is dying in some town where there is no Roman Catholic priest at all in the vicinity. So he asks an Orthodox priest to come. Then in such a case, I think, the Orthodox priest should go and give Communion to that person.”


Not meaning to be a back-seat poster, but I’m wondering if you misread her post as “The OO are closer to reuniting with the RC…”

Nooo, we were already separate before and remained so after (the Council was not ratified by the rest of the Church, and most of the bishops who had agreed at the council (under great duress) repented of their decision afterward.

Claims with no facts. Rome states pretty much the same in fact I was reading the article yesterday about Florence. Futile argument which produces no resolve.


The polemical google sights exist on both sides, more important is the summary.

After the Byzantine Empire fell in 1453, the Eastern church lived on under Turkish rule and then in various nations. Millions of Orthodox Christians in those lands are still separated from the millions of Christians adhering to Rome. Today greater efforts are made to address the issues, but neither side seems willing to make the necessary concessions. As a result, Christians who share a common belief and accept Jesus as head of the church, feel that they cannot share his Eucharist.

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