Have there been any eastern patriarchs with the same kind of political clout as the mideavel popes had? I’m thinking of Leo IX, Gregory VIII, and Nicholas III.

I’m not talking about doctrinal authority, but political authority.

God bless,

The Patriarchs of Moscow and Constantinople have certainly had political influence.

I don’t know any particulars about other Patriarchs, even Orthodox ones, though I wouldn’t be surprised.

But so have many prominent bishops in the West.

But nothing like a papal monarchy?

God bless,

How could it be? It was only because of the “gift of Pepin” (aka the Papal States) that the Pope was a temporal ruler. And the “clout” and “authority” you speak of was in the role of temporal ruler. That “clout” (or perhaps “interference” is a better word) is similar to what has gone on in the political arena since time immemorial. One state involving itself in the affairs of another.


But during the worst years of the papacy between 800 to 1000 Popes were basically pawns to whatever ruler was dominating the region at the time. I guess I’m curious to see how the Orthodox (and Oriental) churches faired when it came to dealing with meddling political powers…

Also, if the Pope never had papal states, what kind of history would the papacy have had… just speculating. :slight_smile:

God bless,

Whether those years were the “worst” is debatable.

We survived. In the basically the same way as did the Roman Church before and after the existence of the Papal States. The Papal States simply allowed the Pope, as temporal ruler, to play politics outside his own temporal realm.

Patriarch Nikon comes to mind, though I can’t hardly blame him for his praiseworthy reforms as far as education of the clergy were concerned.

Many of the Eastern Patriarchs played similar roles under the Ottoman rulers. The various Patriarchs of Antioch, Catholicoi of the East, Catholicoi of Armenia were not above attempts to dominate and subvert each other and manipulate their laity - both on the Catholic and Orthodox side - including many assassinations and depositions.

There is nothing new under the sun it seems. :slight_smile:

I’m currently learning quite a bit about my own western Catholic history. I was just curious about how the eastern side faired.

Can anyone suggest some good historical resources for the history of the eastern churches and patriarchates? I’m not looking for something polemic, just an accurate historical account of the development of orthodox churches. It is, after all, one of the two lungs of the Christian church. :slight_smile:

God bless,

Just to give you a little bit of my impressions on church history, it seems to me that the bishop of Rome has always held to a Catholic view of papal authority. The evidence for this is apparant in the actions and writings of the pope and opponents of the papal pronouncements or opinions.

That said, it also seems to me that in the ancient world, we did not have a papacy like we have today for several reasons: communication was very slow, even at the best of times. So the papacy rarely took an active role in issues beyond its own patriarchy, unless appealed to by a disputing faction from another region (for example, from Constantinople, or Antioch, or North Africa, or Alexandria).

But again, the concept of canon law only arose in the middle ages, so a specific legal definition of the jurisdiction and authority of the pope visavi other patriarchs and bishops was not a clearly defined matter, except in very general terms. Certainly by the first ecumenical council, we have a clear representation of the church of Rome as having a kind of priority as an apostolic see, along with Antioch and Alexandria. This would be latter coupled with Constantinople and Jerusalem. The popes and many others certainly saw the bishop of Rome as a kind of final court of appeals in the ancient world, although certainly not beyond dispute. Especially when an Emperor weighed in on the matter, which happened fairly often back then.

Then as the barbarian invisions began to happen more and more, the popes became preocuppied with keeping the political demands of maitaining its own existance among them. For example, the constant pressure of the Lombards, the political manuvering with the Franks, dealing with Huns, etc… The Byzantine world was just become more and more remote from the concerns of the Papacy, and vice versa. Not much, from a heresy standpoint, was going on in Rome in those days. Most of the heresies were poping up in the Eastern world, from the Monophysites to Monotheletism and Iconoclasm. The popes would be involved in these issues as a representative of orthodoxy, often clashing with emperors, and sometimes even getting into a lot of trouble. These issues would often center around the patriarch of Constantinople, and the legitimacy of the appointment of certain of these bishops. Emperors would alternatly praise or denounce papal decisions in these matters. All of this put strains on the relationships between the two capitals of Christianity.

Then came the plung into the dark ages where the papacy came to an all time low with the advance of the Magiare invasions from the north east, the Islamic raiders from North Africa, and the Viking raiders from Northern Europe. Not to mention the loss of a huge portion of the Eastern Roman Empire to Islamic invaders. These pressures on the Christian world caused a huge decline in communication between the East and the West. The popes in Rome became puppets to whatever Roman aristocrate or German holy Roman emperor came into power. Although there was some communication with the east, these relations became more and more strainned, given their cultural isolation from one another. Roman popes were now exclusively Latin. There were no more Greek popes. And the Church in Rome was developing along very different lines than the Greeks. Political deals with German Emperors were making the position of Papacy very relevant from a power point of view.

Anyway, more thoughts later one.

Does anyone take exception to what I’ve said so far?

God bless,

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