Who Speaks for the Eastern Orthodox Church – Fr. John Penteleimon Manoussakis

Fr. John Penteleimon Manoussakis, an Eastern Orthodox professor of Philosophy and Priest (see Dr. Adam DeVille’s interview), speaks to a growing problem within the Eastern Orthodox Church. Now, I don’t intend to point fingers here (readers known I’m capable of speaking to weaknesses in Catholicism), but it is interesting to see how the below statement really does identify why the current crisis with Ukraine will persist until the question “Who speaks for Orthodoxy” is answered definitively.

“The phenomenon of anti-papism, understood as a denial of a primus for the universal church and the elevation of such denial to a trait that allegedly identifies the whole Orthodox Church, is, properly speaking, heretical….Nevertheless, the phenomenon of anti-papism has become increasingly more observable within the Orthodox Church. Those who want to elevate their dislike for the pope into a definition for the Orthodox Church as a whole do not realize that, if they were right, their version of the Church would be reduced to little more than a religious club that can trace its origins to no earlier than the schism of 1054…. At the very least, this discussion requires that we reconsider the question of whether or not we need a primus in the Orthodox Church. And, if so, who or what might play such a role?…..Who can speak on behalf of the Orthodox Church? Who is entitled to do so? Orthodox faithful today become familiar with a phenomenon that takes alarming dimensions, namely, the rise of a movement within the Orthodox Church consisting of zealots who see themselves as the rightful ‘guardians of orthodoxy’, over and against the Church’s institutionalized authority. In their ferocity against the Western other, these ‘guardians of Orthodoxy’ reject any notion of primacy, espousing and promoting an ecclesiology that they misunderstand to be democratic in its structure of equality. Among their mistakes is the conflation of the ideas of conciliarity, sobornost, and episcopal equality.”  (Pg. 25-27)

3 thoughts on “Who Speaks for the Eastern Orthodox Church – Fr. John Penteleimon Manoussakis

  1. This article brings to mind those hyperdox who argue that the Pope (anyone who occupies the office) is an antichrist and the source of many heresies. Serbian theologian Justin Popovich emobided this sentiment when stating that there are three great falls in history: the Fall of the Angels, of Adam & Eve, and of the Pope.

    One of the people responsible for this bonfire would be Mark of Ephesus, who called out the Latins as heretics, and after the Council was no longer accepted such sentiment grew amongst the Greeks. Then later writers used early patristic writings that forbade Christians from communicating with heretics and schismatics as a justification for the anti-Ecumenical attitude that doesn’t recognise the Christian status of the non-Orthodox. But there was certainly anti-Catholic animus even prior to the councils of Lyons or Florence as well. Some also point to the Turks who intentionally encouraged anti-unionist clerics after conquering Cple in 1453 in order to divide Christendom.

    It’s interesting Manoussakis also mentions how hyperdox reject any notion of primacy – even if it wasn’t explicitly as a defense of Bartholomew’s recent comments about there being some sort of primate in orthodoxy. Because Bart recently started justifying the continued primacy of the See of Cple in Orthodoxy on the basis of there being some primate in Orthodoxy, just like there’s a primate in nations. Many of the hyperdox attacked him on this point, claiming that any talk of a primate in Orthodoxy was implicit papism, that the Father isn’t a primate in the Trinity because that’s supposed to be heretical somehow and somehow was condemned at the earliest Councils, and that the office of Pope which is antichrist in spirit has created 22 heresies etc.

    • The Hyperdox are simply reactionaries who take a wrong view of the fathers- as something that needs to be newly discovered instead of received.

      Thankfully not all Orthodox have thought this way historically.

      St. Symeon of Thessaloniki for example-

      “ When the Latins say that the bishop of Rome is first, there is no need to contradict them, since this can do no harm to the Church. They must only show that he has the same faith as Peter and his successors … and that he possesses all that came from Peter, then he will be the first, the chief and head of all, the supreme high priest… All these qualities have been attributed to the patriarchs of Rome in the past. We will say that his See is apostolic, and he who occupies it is said to be the successor of Peter, as long as he professes the true faith. No one who thinks and speaks truth would dare deny this. That the Bishop of Rome profess only the faith of Silvester, Agatho, Leo, Liberius, Martin, and Gregory, we would proclaim him first among all other high priests, and we will submit to him not simply as to Peter but as to the Savior Himself. But if he is not successor in the faith of these saints, nor is he successor of the throne. Not only is he not apostolic, neither is he first, nor Father, but he is an adversary and devastator and enemy of the Apostles.”

      • I would guess the last sentence by Symeon is rhetorical, because the language of considering the Pope an enemy of Christianity itself, an antichrist, or inventor of heresies, is typical of hyerdox and anti-Catholic rhetoric.

        I would presume that not every Orthodox considers the Pope as an evil arch-enemy either, as mistaken as they consider Catholic doctrines to be.

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