Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Our Eastern Brethren

From Charles A. Coulombe:
Married to this poor theological background is even poorer historical knowledge. Every Orthodox priest I have ever contended with has brought up the sack of Constantinople by Western Crusaders in 1203; almost to a man, however, they have been ignorant of the subsequent excommunication of the leaders of that expedition by Innocent III. No Catholic will deny the grievances suffered by Easterners at the hands of Latins; but amnesia engulfs the Orthodox mind with regard to the reverse. None, for example, seems to remember the kidnapping and abuse of two popes by Emperor Justinian I (a saint in their calendar); by the same token, they do not remember that monarch's seeking forgiveness and subscribing to papal primacy. Equally glossed over is the bloody, forced incorporation of Byzantine Catholics into the Orthodox Church by Tsar Nicholas I and Stalin (the Orthodox, despite their professed hatred of the latter, have been extremely reluctant to return the churches Stalin stole). Nor (although they have canonized him) do they recall the acceptance of that primacy by Constantine XII, last Emperor of the East, or the part papal opponents played in weakening Constantine's position, in the face of the Turkish menace. One recalls the Grand Admiral of the Empire, Lukas Notaras, who declared that he "preferred the turban of the Sultan to the tiara of the Pope." He must have recalled his words bitterly when the conquering Sultan Mohammed ordered him to present his sons as concubines; refusing, Notaras was forced to watch their execution before being put to death himself. One cannot resist contrasting this with the action of Paul VI, who, in hopes of safeguarding Greek lives and property in Turkey during the 1965 Cyprus crisis, returned the banners captured from the Sultan's fleet at Lepanto. For that matter, the same Pontiff gave the head of St. Andrew back to the Orthodox Diocese of Patras.

That same Turkish Sultan, anxious to break the union with Rome, appointed Gennadios II as Patriarch. From that time until 1922, the patriarchs were appointed by the sultans. Our current schism dates not from 1054, but from 1456; it owes its origin not to Pope St. Leo IX and Michael Caerularius, but to the Turks. (Read entire post.)

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