Greek Church This subject will be treated under the following heads: I. Explanation of Terms; II. The Greek Orthodox Church and Its Divisions; III. Greek Uniat Churches; IV. Greek-Church History, subdivided into: (I) The First Five Centuries; (2) Decay of the Greek Churches of the East and Rise of the Byzantine Hegemony (451-847); (3) The Greek Schism; Conversion of the Slays (ninth to eleventh century); (4) Efforts towards Reunion; the Crusades (eleventh to fifteenth century); (5) From 1453 to the Present Time Relations with the Catholic Church, the Protestants, etc. Under (2) will be found: (a) Internal Organization of the Byzantine Churches; (b) The Emperor; Relations between East and West; Liturgy. Under (4): (a) Internal Organization; (b) Hesychasm.
I. EXPLANATION OF TERMS
In the East, when a Church is spoken of, four things must be kept distinct: the race to which the adherents of the Church belong; the speech used in their everyday life, and in their public devotions; the ecclesiastical rite used in their liturgy, and their actual belief, Catholic or non-Catholic. It is because these distinctions have not been, and are not, even now, always observed that a great confusion has arisen in the terminology of those who write or speak of the Eastern (Oriental) Churches and of the Greek Church. As a matter of fact, the usual signification attached to the words Eastern Churches extends to all those Churches with a liturgical rite differing from the Latin Rite. Let them reject the authority of the pope or accept it, they are none the less Eastern Churches. Thus the Russian Church, separated from Rome, is an Eastern Church; in the same way the Greek Catholics who live in Italy, and are known as Italo-Greeks, make up an Eastern Church also. The expression Eastern Churches is therefore the most comprehensive in use; it includes all believers who follow any of the six Eastern rites now in use: the Byzantine, Armenian, Syrian, Chaldean, Maronite, and Coptic.
What, then, do we mean when we speak of the Greek Church ? Ordinarily we take it to mean all those Churches that use the Byzantine Rite, whether they are separated from Rome or in communion with the pope, whether they are by race and speech Greek or Slays, Rumanians, Georgians, etc. The term Greek Church is, therefore, peculiarly inappropriate, though most commonly employed. For instance, if we mean to designate the rite, the term Greek Church is inaccurate, since there is really no Greek Rite properly so called, but only the Byzantine Rite. If, on the other hand, we wish to designate the nationality of the believers in the Churches following the Byzantine Rite, we find that out of fifteen or twenty Churches which use that rite, only three have any claim to be known as The Greek Church, viz., the Church of the Hellenic Kingdom, the Church of Constantinople, the Church of Cyprus. Again, it must be borne in mind that in the Church of Constantinople there are included a number of Slays, Rumanians, and Albanians who rightly refuse to be known as Greeks.
The term Orthodox Greek Church, or even simply the Orthodox Church, designates, without distinction of speech, or race, or nationality, all the existing Churches of the Byzantine Rite, separated from Rome. They claim to be a unit and to have the same body of doctrine, which they say was that of the primitive Church. As a matter of fact, the orthodoxy of these Churches is what we call heterodoxy, since it rejects the Papal Infallibility, and the Papal Supremacy, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, that of Purgatory, etc. However, by a polite fiction, educated Catholics give them the name of Orthodox which they have usurped. The term Schismatic Greek Church is synonymous with the above; nearly everybody uses it, but it is at times inexpedient to do 60, if one would avoid wounding the feelings of those whose conversion is aimed at.
The term United Greek Church is generally used to designate all the Churches of the Byzantine Rite in communion with the See of Rome. Thus the Ruthenian Church of Galicia, the Rumanian Church of Austria-Hungary, the Bulgarian Church of Turkish Bulgaria, the Melchite Church of Syria, the Georgian Church, the Italo-Greek Church, and the Church of the Greeks in Turkey or in the Hellenic Kingdom all of them Catholic are often called the United Greek Churches. Again, the term is inappropriate, and belongs of right only to the last two Churches. As a matter of fact the Ruthenians and Bulgarians are Slays who follow the Byzantine Rite, but use a Slavonic translation; whereas the Rumanians are Latins who follow the Byzantine Rite, but in a Rumanian translation, etc.
Instead of United Greek Church, the term Uniat (or Uniate) Church is often used; and in like manner the word Uniats is used instead of United Greeks. These words are by no means synonymous. Uniat Church, or Uniats, has a much wider signification than United Greek Church or United Greeks, and embraces all the Eastern Churches in communion with Rome, but following another than the Latin rite, whether it be Byzantine, Armenian, Syrian, Chaldean, Maronite, or Coptic. The Uniat Church is therefore really synonymous with Eastern Churches united to Rome, and Uniats is synonymous with Eastern Christians united with Rome.
II. THE GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH AND ITS DIVISIONS
The Greek Orthodox Churches are Churches separated from Rome and following the Byzantine Rite, i.e. the rite developed at Constantinople between the fourth and tenth centuries. In the beginning, the only language of this rite was Greek. Later, however (the exact date is uncertain), it was introduced among the Georgians, or Iberians, of the Caucasus and was translated into the Georgian vernacular of the country. In the ninth century, through the efforts of Sts. Cyril and Methodius and their disciples, the Moravians and the Bulgarians were converted to Christianity, and as the missionaries were Byzantines they introduced their own rite, but translated the Liturgy into Slav, the mother tongue of those nations. From Bulgaria this Byzantine-Slav Rite spread among the Servians and the Russians. In recent times the Byzantine Rite has been translated into Rumanian for use by the faithful of that nationality. Lastly, the Orthodox Syrians of Syria, Palestine, and Egypt have adopted a hybrid Byzantine Rite in which, according to the whim of the celebrant, either Greek or Arabic is used. Hence we have five divisions of the Byzantine Rite, and consequently five divisions of Orthodox Greek Churches:
(3) The Georgian-Byzantine Rite, which, up to the beginning of the nineteenth century, included the Churches of the Caucasus Range now absorbed by the Russian Church and obliged to use the Slavonic Liturgy instead of their own native Georgian.
(4) The Slavonic Byzantine Rite, comprising (a) the Russian, (b) the Servian, and (c) the Bulgarian Churches.
(5) The Rumanian-Byzantine Rite used by the Rumanian Churches.
(1) Pure Greeks
(a) Patriarchate of Constantinople. This Church is governed by a patriarch, a Holy Synod consisting of twelve metropolitans, and a mixed council of four metropolitans and eight laymen. It numbers in all 101 dioceses of which 86 have metropolitan rank, and 15 are suffragan sees. Such were the official figures and were accurate until the month of October, 1908. As we write, however, this is no longer so. Since the proclamation of Bulgarian independence the five Greek metropolitans in their country have been suppressed by the Bulgarians. Bosnia-Herzegovina had four metropolitans depending more or less on Constantinople, but since Austria-Hungary has annexed that country they will no longer be dependent. Lastly, the Island of Crete is now almost independent of Turkey, and in consequence its metropolitan and his seven suffragan bishops have gone over to the Holy Synod of Athens. From the 101 dioceses, therefore, we may deduct 17, viz., 10 metropolitan sees and 7 suffragan sees, which leaves a total of 84 dioceses, 76 being metropolitan and 8 suffragan. Of these 84 dioceses, not including Constantinople, 22 are in Asia Minor, 12 in the Archipelago, and 50 on European soil. For want of reliable statistics, it is difficult to form an estimate of their population. The Greeks in the Ottoman Empire claim to number 6,000,000, but this figure is exaggerated. We shall be nearer the truth in computing 1,000,000 Greeks in Asia Minor, 400,000 in the Archipelago, 1,500,000 in Turkey in Europe, including the Albanians and Bulgarians. There are, moreover, 600,000 Slays, either Bulgarians or Servians, who belong to the ecumenical patriarchate. All this gives a grand total of 3,500,000 souls. In consequence of the independence of Bulgaria, of the annexation of Bosnia by Austria-Hungary, and the secession of Crete to Greece, the ecumenical patriarchate has recently lost nearly a million subjects—namely, 700,000 in Bosnia, 200,000 in Crete, and from 70,000 to 80,000 in Bulgaria.
The Church of Greece. This Church dates back to 1833, when 36 bishops proclaimed their independence of Constantinople and established a Holy Synod; its authority was not recognized until July 11, 1850, by the ecumenical patriarch. At the present time this Church is controlled by a Holy Synod of five members: the Metropolitan of Athens as president and four bishops chosen in regular succession. The Hellenic Kingdom contains 32 dioceses, of which one—that of Athens—is a metropolitan see; it is not, however, rare to find one-third of the sees vacant for economic reasons. The Church of Greece numbers 2,500,000 members in Greece and many thousands of believers in other countries, especially in the United States. By an arrangement arrived at between Athens and Constantinople in 1908, all the Greek Churches of the dispersion, save that of Venice, must look to Athens as their head.
The Church of Cyprus. Ever since the Council of Ephesus, in 431, recognized its autonomy, which was confirmed in 488 by the Emperor Zeno, the Church of Cyprus has remained independent. The hierarchy consists of the Archbishop of Constantia and his three suffragans, the Bishops of Paphos, Cytion, and Cyrenia. Nearly ten years ago the archbishop died, and so far his successor has not been agreed on. The Church has about 200,000 adherents.
(2) Arabic Byzantines
(a) Patriarchate of Antioch. The Orthodox population of this patriarchate is hardly Greek any longer. They are a Syrian race whose speech is Arabic, and as a rule the liturgical offices are celebrated in Arabic. Since 1899 the
Greek element, which had up to then monopolized the superior clerical positions, has been definively driven out of Syria. The patriarch lives at Damascus and governs with the aid of a Holy Synod and a mixed council. At the present time this Church has 13 dioceses, all of metropolitan rank, and numbers 250,000 souls.
(b) Patriarchate of Jerusalem. This patriarchate was cut off from that of Antioch in 451. If it were not for the sanctuaries of the Holy Places, which draw so many pilgrims and such considerable alms, its importance would be nil. All the superior clergy are Greek, and, in accordance with a rule made in early part of the eighteenth century, the clergy of Syrian birth and Arabic speech are eligible for the suppressed by the lower clerical positions only, although the whole membership of this Church is Syrian. There has been a revolt recently against this slavery, and it is not unlikely that before long the Greeks will be expelled from Jerusalem as they have been already driven from Antioch. The only extant dioceses are Jerusalem, Nazareth, and St. Jean d’Acre, but a number of titular metropolitans and archbishops aid the patriarch in the administration of his Church. The liturgical languages in use are Greek and Arabic; the number of subjects of this patriarchate cannot exceed 50,000 souls.
Patriarchate of Alexandria. This patriarchate is made up of only one diocese under the personal care of the patriarch. According to decisions arrived at in 1867 he ought to be assisted by a Holy Synod composed of four members who were to be honorary Metropolitans of Pelusium, the The baid, Pentapolis, and Lybia. This synod is being formed. Church-membership numbers about 80,000 persons, made up mostly of strangers from Syria and Greece, among whom far from harmonious relations prevail. The liturgy is celebrated in either Greek or Arabic, but for the most part in Greek.
Archbishopric of Sinai. The titular of this see has jurisdiction over the convent of St. Catherine and about fifty Bedouins. Its autonomy was proclaimed in 1575 and confirmed in 1782. At the present time the tendency is to consider it rather as a diocese in the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
(3) Orthodox Georgians
The various national Churches of Iberia, Mingrelia, and Imerethia no longer exist since Russia has extended her dominion over the Caucasus provinces. In the Liturgy the Georgian tongue has been replaced by the Slavonic. The number of dioceses was formerly twenty, but is now only four, all in the hands of the Russians. It has a metropolitan, with the title of Exarch of Georgia and three suffragan bishops. The number of the Orthodox in Georgia, including the Russian colonists, is reckoned at about 1,600,000.
(4) Orthodox Slavs
(a) The Synodal Church of St. Petersburg. This is but a continuation since 1721 of the Patriarchate of Moscow, which had been established in 1589 by the Greek Patriarch of Constantinople, Jeremias II, who up to that time had ruled the Russian Orthodox Church. The Holy Synod instituted by Peter the Great and composed of seven members, is the head of this Church. The Russian Church counts 63 dioceses, ruled by 3 metropolitans, 13 archbishops, and 47 bishops. In many of the dioceses, where the distances are enormous, it is customary for the bishop to take one or more auxiliary bishops, known as episcopal vicars, for the governing of parts of the diocese. At the present time there are 44 of these episcopal vicars. The number of members of this Church must be about 70,000,000, or half the population of the Empire. There are at least 25,000,-000 more believers who separated from the official church in the seventeenth century and make up the great Raskol sect (see Russia). The remainder of the population of Russia is made up of about 12,000,000 Catholics, together with Protestants, Arenians, jews, Mussulmans, Buddhists, and even pagans.
(b) The Servian Church of Servia. It was not till November, 1879, that this Church secured its independence of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Since then it has been governed by a Holy Synod comprising the Metropolitan of Belgrade and the four suffragan Bishops of Nich, Uchitze, Timok and Chabatz. Its members number about 2,500,000 souls, and its liturgical language is the Slavonic. The Servian Church of Montenegro. It is ruled by the Metropolitan of Cettinje, who goes to the Russia for consecration. Until 1852 the bishop, or Vladika, was temporal as well as spiritual head of the principality. Since then the authority has been country have been divided. The membership is about 250,000. The Servian Patriarchate of Carlovitz in Hungary. This Church was founded in 1691 by Servian emigrants from Turkey. It became a patriarchate in 1848. Besides the patriarchal diocese, there are six others: Braes, Buda, Carlstadt, Pakray, Temescaz, and Versecz. Its membership numbers about 1,080,000 souls. It is governed by a Holy Synod and a national Parliament, or Assembly, of which one-third of the members are clerics and the remainder laymen. It meets every three years. The Servian Church of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Theoretically this Church still belongs to the Greek Patriarchate of Constantinople, but since the annexation of these provinces by Austria-Hungary (October 6, 1908) it may be looked on as autonomous. It has four metropolitan sees, Seraiero, Mostar, Dolnj a-Touzla, and Banialouka, and numbers 700,000 souls.—Two other Servian groups have not yet acquired autonomy. That in Dalmatia belongs to the Rumanian Metropolitan of Tchernovitz; it has two dioceses, Zara and Cattaro, and numbers 110,000 souls. The other group, in Turkey, in the vilayet of Uskub, acknowledges the Greek Patriarch of Constantinople. It has two dioceses, Prizrend and Uskub, and numbers 250,000 souls.
(c) The Bulgarian Exarchate. After having concurrently two patriarchates, one at Tirnovo, suppressed in 1393, and another at Ochrida, suppressed in 1767, the Bulgarians have organized an independent Church, recognized by the Sublime Porte, March 11, 1870. The exarch, head of all Bulgarians in Turkey and Bulgaria who may be disposed to admit his authority, resides in Constantinople. He has subject to him in Turkey 21 dioceses, of which about two-thirds are still waiting for the nomination of their bishops, and in Bulgaria 11 metropolitan dioceses. The faithful of the exarchate number about 4,000,000, of whom 2,900,000 are in the Kingdom of Bulgaria, and 1,000,000 in Turkey in Europe. The proclamation of Bulgaria as an independent kingdom will bring about modifications in the ecclesiastical domain, for it is hardly likely that Turkey will accept an outsider as spiritual head of its Ottoman subjects.
(5) Orthodox Rumanians
(a) The Church of Rumania. This church has existed since 1864, though it was not recognized by the Phanar as independent until May 13, 1885. It obeys a Holy Synod composed of two metropolitans and six bishops its whole episcopate. Its membership numbers 4,800,000 souls. (b) The Rumanian Church of Sibiu. This Church, formerly under the Servian Patriarchate of Carlovitz, secured its independence in 1864. It is governed by a national Assembly composed of 90 members (30 ecclesiastics and 60 laymen) who meet every three years. The Metropolitan of Sibiu has two suffragans, the Bishops of Arad and of Karambes. Its computed membership is 1,750,000. (c) Servo-Rumanian Church of Tchernovitz. This Church secured independence in 1873. It comprises three dioceses; Tchernovitz, the metropolitan see, situated in Bukovina is mainly Servo Rumanian and in Dalmatia Servian, is about 520,000 souls.
To sum up, there are seventeen Orthodox Churches of various tongues and nationalities, knit together more or less by a common Byzantine Rite and a vague basis of doctrine that becomes more and more imbued with Protestant ideas. Their total membership does not exceed 100,000,000 souls; the exact figure is 94,050,000, of whom about three quarters (70,000,00) are in the Russian dominions.
III. GREEK UNIAT CHURCHES
Nearly every one of the Orthodox Churches of the Byzantine Rite has a corresponding Greek Catholic Church in communion with Rome. As we saw in the majority of the Orthodox Churches, so in the case of the Uniat Churches, they are Greek only in name. Altogether eight divisions are recognized: (I) Pure Greeks, (2) Italo-Greeks, (3) Georgians, (4) Graeco-Arabs (or Melchites), (5) Ruthenians, (6) Servians, (7) Bulgarians, and (8) Rumanians. The total membership of these various Churches does not exceed 6,000,000 souls; the exact figure is computed at 5,564,809, of whom 4,097,073 belong to the Ruthenians and Servians, 8488 to the Bulgarians, 1,271,333 to the Rumanians, 138,735 to the Melchites, and 49,180 to the Italo-Greeks and Pure Greeks. The number of Catholic Georgians is unknown, but it is small. These are the figures furnished by the 1907 edition of “Missiones Catholicw”, published at Rome (p. 743).
Pure Greeks. Their Church has not yet been organized, it is under the Apostolic Delegate at Constantinople. Parishes and missions exist at Constantinople, Cadi-Keui, Peramos, Gallipoli, Malgara and Caesarea in Cappadocia. The faithful number about 1000, under the care of a dozen priests, of whom seven are Assumptionists. There are also Catholics of this rite in Greece. They are subject to the Delegation at Athens.
The Italo-Greek Church. These Catholics are of Greek or Albanian origin, and use the Byzantine Rite. They live mainly in Sicily and Calabria, and have some fixed colonies in Malta, at Algiers, Marseilles, and Carghese in Corsica. Their number is not more than 50,000. Ecclesiastics in Calabria and Sicily are ordained by two Italo-Greek bishops. Their liturgical language is Greek, but for the most part the vernacular of the faithful is Italian.
Georgian Churches. Russia, unwilling to tolerate within her dominions an Orthodox Georgian Church distinct from the Russian, is all the more opposed to the creation of a Catholic Georgian Church. Out of from 30,000 to 35,000 Georgian Catholics, about 8000 follow the Armenian Rite, the remainder having adopted the Latin Rite. The only Catholic Georgian organization in existence is at Constantinople.
Greco-Arabs (or Melchites). All these are under a patriarch who bears the titles of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem, and who, moreover, has jurisdiction over all the faithful of his rite in the Ottoman Empire. Their number amounts to about 140,000 and they are subject to twelve bishops or metropolitans. The liturgical language is either Arabic or Greek.
Ruthenians. The Uniat Church of Russia has disappeared. Its last two bishoprics, those of Minsk and Chelm, were suppressed in 1869 and in 1875 respectively. Since the disorders of 1905 many have availed themselves of the liberty of returning to the Catholic Church, but as a precautionary measure they have adopted the Latin Rite.
Servians. In Austria-Hungary the ancient Ruthenian Church has survived with a little more than 4,000,000 members. It has six dioceses, of which three are in Galicia (the Archbishopric of Lemberg, and the Bishoprics of Przemysl and of Stanislawow) and three in Hungary (the Bishoprics of Munkacs and of Eperies under the Latin Archbishop of Grau, and the Bishopric of Crisium, or Kreutz, in the archiepiscopal province of Agram and of which the Catholic population is mainly Servian).
Bulgarians. The movement for union with Rome, very strong in 1860, was, owing to political reasons, not a success. Today there are hardly 10,000 Catholics between the two Apostolic vicariates of Thrace and Macedonia. The seminary of Thrace is under the care of the Assumptionists, that of Macedonia under the Lazarists.
Rumanians. The Rumanian Catholic Church uses the Byzantine Rite, but the liturgical language is Rumanian. It is established only in Hungary and counts four dioceses, viz., the Archdiocese of Fogaras with the suffragan Dioceses of Armenopolis, Grosswardein, and Lugos, having in all 1,300,000 members.
The Uniat-Rumanians of the Kingdom of Rumania have no ecclesiastical organization. In this summary I have omitted the other Oriental Churches in communion with Rome, e.g. the Armenian, the Coptic, the Abyssinian, the Syriac, the Maronite, the Chaldean and Malabrian Churches, because they do not use the Byzantine rite, and have no claim to be considered as Greek Churches, even in the wider meaning of the word.
IV. GREEK CHURCH HISTORY
(1) The First Five Centuries
The Gospel, preached by the Apostles and by their disciples, who were converts from Judaism, spread first of all among the Jewish communities of the Roman Empire. These Jewish settlements were mainly in the towns, and as a rule spoke the Greek tongue; and thus it came to pass that the earliest Christian communities were in the towns and used the Greek tongue in their liturgical services. Gradually, however, Christian converts from among the Gentiles began to increase and, as the author of the so-called Second Epistle of Clement says, “The children of the barren woman outnumbered those of the fruitful one”. The original differences between the Judo-Christian and Helleno-Christian communities quickly disappeared, and soon there existed only Christians, with a certain number of heretical sects which either held aloof of their own accord or were constrained to do so. At the end of the fourth century, at least in the East, nearly all the cities were Christian, but the villages and country places, as in the West, offered a more stubborn resistance to the new religion. The government of the Church was monarchical; as a rule every city had its bishop, and the priests were his assistants; the deacons and lower ministers attended to the ceremonial and to charitable works. Even before the Council of Nicaea (325) ecclesiastical provinces had begun to appear, each having a metropolitan and several suffragan bishops. The size of these provinces generally corresponded to the extent of the civil provinces.
The fourth canon of Nicaea expressly refers to such provinces. But were there also Churches whose high jurisdiction was recognized by a number of ecclesiastical provinces, and did they correspond with the future patriarchates and exarchates? We must reach the third century before we find conclusive proof of this. At that time the Bishop of Alexandria was looked up to as the Primate or Patriarch of all Egypt. In a somewhat similar way, though in a lesser degree, the Bishop of Antioch had authority in the provinces of Syria and Asia Minor. For instance, at the end of the second century Serapion of Antioch exercised his authority oat Rhossos, a town of Cilicia, and this same Bishop of Edessa. During the latter half of the third century we see assembled at Antioch the bishops of all Syria and eastern Asia Minor, soon to become the civil diocese of Pontus. As early as 251. we know of a synod that was to be held at Antioch because Fabius, the bishop of that town, seemed to be leaning towards Novatianism. The promoters of this meeting were the Bishops of Tarsus, Casarea in Palestine, and Caesarea in Cappadocia. A few years later, in 256, Dionysius of Alexandria, treating of the Eastern Churches that had been disturbed by this quarrel, mentions Antioch, Caesarea in Palestine, AE16, (Jerusalem), Tyre, Laodicea in Syria, Tarsus and Caesarea in Cappadocia. Somewhat later, again, from 264 to 268, the affair of Paul of Samosata was the occasion of many meetings of bishops at Antioch, and in the interests of that Church. They always came from the same provinces, viz., those extending from Polemoniac Pontus (Neociesarea) and Lycaonia (Iconium) to Arabia (Bostra) and Palestine (Caesarea and Aelia). “Immediately after the persecution of Galerius and Maximianus a celebrated council was held at Ancyra, presided over by the Bishop of Antioch, at which some fifteen bishops from the same countries, were again present.; this time, however, the Provinces of Galatia, Bithynia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia are represented, but Asia, properly so called, still remained outside the group” (Duchesne, “Christian Worship“, London, 1904, p. 20). On the other hand, in Proconsular Asia no Church had yet succeeded in asserting authority over the others; Ephesus, the most famous of them, had merely a primacy of honor over its rivals in influence and wealth, Smyrna, Pergamus, Sardis, and others.
To sum up, then, during the opening years of the fourth century we find three principal ecclesiastical groups in the Eastern Empire: (I) that of Alexandria, with authority over the whole of Egypt; (2) that of Antioch, with a more or less recognized jurisdiction over the whole Greek world, with the exception of Asia proper, and even over lands beyond the frontiers of the Roman Empire, e.g., Armenia and Persia; (3) Proconsular Asia, forming a group apart. The Councils of Nicaea (325), Constantinople (381), Ephesus (431), and Chalcedon (451) legalized the existing state of things, created new Churches and established the ecclesiastical hierarchy as it has remained ever since. But in order to understand the situation properly, we must first briefly review the civil organization of the Roman Empire, which had such an influence over early Church organization.
From Diocletian to the accession of Theodosius the Great (379) the Empire of the East included the civil dioceses of Egypt (after its separation from Antioch), Asia, Pontus, and the two Mysias, or Thrace. The remaining dioceses formed part of the Empire of the West. On January 19, 379, Gratian, Emperor of the West, ceded to his colleague, Theodosius I, the Prefecture of Eastern Illyricum, which included the dioceses of Dacia and Macedonia. Soon afterwards, between 424 and 437, Western Illyricum, or the diocese of Pannonia, became part of the Empire of the East.
Among the canons of Nicaea (325) that do not specifically deal with the ordinary ecclesiastical provinces, canons 6 and 7 confirm the rights accorded by immemorial custom to certain great Churches, such as Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and the other eparchies. It is not easy at first sight to determine what rights the council referred to. Nevertheless it is a general opinion that the sixth canon aimed at securing to the Bishop of Alexandria an exceptional rank, and at endowing him with powers over the metropolitans and bishops of the four civil provinces of Egypt, Thebaid, Libya, and Pentapolis, as ample as those exercised by the Bishop of Rome over the various provinces of the Patriarchate of the West. Thus the Bishop of Alexandria had the ritght to consecrate all the metropolitans and bishops of Egypt, and from this some historians and canonists would have us conclude that he was, as a matter of fact, the only metropolitan in Egypt, and that his entire patriarchate was a single diocese. This is an evident exaggeration. At the Council of Nicaea there were four Egyptian metropolitans, one for each of the civil and ecclesiastical provinces; later their number rose to nine, or even ten, according as the emperors increased the number of civil provinces. The number of suffragan bishops rose at one time to a hundred. The organization of the Egyptian Church really followed the same lines as the others. But the Patriarch, or Bishop, of Alexandria had the right of consecrating all his bishops, once their election had been confirmed by the metropolitan, whereas in the other greater Churches the metropolitan himself discharged this function.
Although the sixth canon, in as far as it refers to Antioch, is far from clear, it would seem that the Nicene Council recognized and granted to the Bishop of Antioch the same jurisdiction over the provinces of the civil diocese of the East (Diazcesis Orientis) that it had recognized and granted to the Bishops of Rome and of Alexandria over the Provinces of the West and of Egypt respectively. Therefore it attributes to Antioch a supremacy over many provinces, each having its own metropolitan, in such a way as to constitute them into a patriarchate. It is thought that the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Antioch was co-extensive with the aforesaid civil diocese of the East, but it may very likely have extended also over certain provinces in Pontus and Asia Minor.
The same canon requires that the rights of the other eparchies be maintained. The meaning of the word eparchies is not clear and has been variously interpreted. According to some, it refers to ordinary ecclesiastical provinces, but this is hardly probable, seeing that the council had already dealt with them in its fourth canon. Others are of opinion that the council intended to grant the Bishops of Heraclea, Ephesus, and Caesarea the same privileges and rights over the provinces of the civil dioceses of Thrace, Asia, and Pontus that the Bishops of Alexandria and Antioch enjoyed over the provinces of the civil dioceses of Egypt and the East. The second canon of the Council of Constantinople (381) seems to support this interpretation, where it says: “The Bishops of the Diocese of Asia must watch over the concerns of Asia only; those of Pontus, over what concerns Pontus, and those of Thrace over what concerns Thrace.” Perhaps the council simply meant to enfranchise the provinces of these three civil dioceses from the jurisdiction of Antioch, Alexandria, or any other Church, without, however, raising any particular see Ephesus for instance, or Caesarea to a particular rank like that of Antioch or Alexandria.
As for Jerusalem, or Aelia, according to the seventh canon, it remained a simple bishopric under the jurisdiction of Caesarea Maritima, its metropolitan see, but enjoyed the right to certain honors on the occasion of ecumenical councils, when its bishops sat next to those of the greater Churches of the empire.
The Council of Constantinople (381) confirmed and defined, in its second canon, what the Council of Nicaea had attempted to outline. It was understood that the Bishop of Alexandria should be the head of the Church of Egypt, and the Bishop of Antioch head of the Church of the East. As for the remaining two Asiatic dioceses, those of Pontus and of Asia, the ambiguous phrases of the second canon, and the interpretation thereof given by the historian Socrates (Hist. Eccl., V, c. viii, in P.G., LXVII, 580), do not permit us to infer the supremacy of any of Church over all the other Curches of a civil diocese. That Ephesus in Asia and Caesarea in Pontus held privileged positions is certain but that either Ephesus or Pontus was at the head of the episcopate of Asia or of Pontus, as Antioch was at the head of the Eastern episcopate, is a position which we have no documentary evidence to support. The third canon of this council of Constantinople brings another Church on the scene, that of the imperial capital itself, to which Nicaea had made no reference. The silence of the First Ecumenical Council is easily understood when we remember that in 325 Byzantium, or Constantinople, was still an undistinguished bishopric, with Heraclea, in Thrace, as its metropolitan, and that its first bishop, St. Metrophanes, had died as recently as 314. In consequence of the transfer of the seat of imperial government to Byzantium, the city increased in importance, even from an ecclesiastical point of view; in 339 and 360 we find two Arian bishops, Eusebius and Eudoxius, leaving their metropolitan Sees of Nicomedia and Antioch to occupy this bishopric, which they had already begun to consider the first episcopal see of the Empire. The Council of 381 encouraged this attitude, and its third canon asserts that “the Bishop of Constantinople ought to have a preeminence of honor next to the Bishop of Rome, for that city is the new Rome“.
It would be hard to protest too strongly against the spirit of this canon, which attempts to measure the ecclesiastical dignity of a see by the civil importance of the city. But although the popes refused to recognize it, all the bishops of the East accepted it, and Constantinople considered itself henceforward as the premier see of the Empire of the East.
Novella cxxxi of Justinian approved this decision of the council: “Ita sancimus.. veteris Romae papam primum esse omnium sacerdotum…. archiepiscopum Constantinopolis, novae Rom, post sanctissimam apostolicam sedem veteris Romae secundum locum habere.” Did this honorary preeminence carry with it a wider jurisdiction? and can the Bishop of Constantinople be henceforward looked on as a patriarch? We have no juridical text in support of such a thing, but Socrates (Hist. Eccl., V, viii) assures us that Constantinople did exercise authority over Thrace, while Theodoret of Cyrrhus (Hist. Eccl., V, xxviii) attributes to St. John Chrysostom (398-404) a superior’s authority over twenty-eight provinces. Now the “Notitia dignitatum”, a document dating from about 410, reckons six provinces in Thrace, eleven in the diocese of Asia, and eleven in that of Pontus. Constantinople was actually at the head of these three dioceses, whose twenty-eight provinces officially made up its patriarchate in 451. In any case, if a superior jurisdiction over these twenty-eight provinces did not belong de jure to the Bishops of Constantinople from 381 to 457, it is quite certain that de facto they exercised such jurisdiction. (For a number of instances in proof of this see the article “Constantinople” in Vacant and Mangenot, “Dictionnaire de theologie catholique”, II, 1323-25.) Furthermore, their aim at this time was to have only one Eastern Church, only one patriarchate, of which they should be the chiefs, and this was to be brought about by the annexation of the provinces of Illyricum, subject to the pope, and the suppression of the rights enjoyed by the patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria. Thus, on July 14, 421, the Emperor Theodosius II issued a law whereby Illyricum was brought under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Byzantium (Cod. Just., I, ii, vi; Cod. Theod., XVI, ii, xlvi), but in consequence of the protests of Pope Boniface I and of Honorius, Emperor of the West, this law never was enforced.
Again, according to Socrates (Hist. Eccl., VII, xxvui), Bishop Atticus of Constantinople obtained from Theodosius II a decree forbidding the consecration of a single bishop in the East without the consent of the Bishop of Constantinople, but, owing to the opposition it encountered, this decree was hardly ever observed, except in the civil dioceses of Thrace, Asia, and Pontus. The struggle undertaken against the See of Alexandria brought nothing but disaster for Constantinople. In less than fifty years three of its bishops, St. John Chrysostom in 403, Nestorius in 431, St. Flavian in 449, were deposed by the primates of Egypt, Theophilus, St. Cyril, and Dioscurus. On the other hand, in the Patriarchate of Antioch the Byzantine interference became more and more successful, as was proved in the case of Ibas, in the partition of Phoenicia, and at the time of the consecration of the Patriarch Maximus. In 431, at the Council of Ephesus, a fourth Greek Church, that of Cyprus, took its place side by side with Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch. Its subjection to Antioch never having been clearly defined, it had profited by the Arian disputes and the famous schism of Antioch (330-415) to proclaim its own autonomy. Once the schism ended, the Patriarchs of Antioch tried to reassert their authority; Cyprus resisted and even took advantage of the absence of the Syrian patriarch to have its independence recognized by the cecumenical council. Later, this independence was reaffirmed by the Emperor Zeno and by a council held at Constantinople in 488. The head of the Cypriot Church has never had the title patriarch, but only that of Archbishop. The acknowledgment of an independent Cypriot Church was a serious loss for the Patriarchate of Antioch; following on this blow came two others in quick succession, the one beyond the frontiers of the Roman Empire, the other within those boundaries, which greatly diminished the influence of Antioch and the extent of its jurisdiction. Beyond the frontier, in the Persian kingdom of the Sassanides, were many Christians of Syrian speech, governed by a number of bishops. The Gospel had come to them from many points, principally from Edessa and other Churches subject to Antioch. There was, therefore, a certain bond of affection and gratitude between these Syrian Churches of the Persian Empire and those of the Roman Empire. In order to impose his authority on all the bishops of Persia, Papa bar Aggai, Bishop of Seleucia Ctesiphon, the capital of the kingdom, had recourse to the Syrian bishops of the Roman Empire during the early years of the fourth century. They hastened to aid him, and by methods whose nature is unknown to us succeeded in placing the Bishop of Seleucia Ctesiphon at the head of the Persian Church, and in bringing that Church under the jurisdiction of Antioch. The bishops of the other important sees in Persia accepted very unwillingly the primacy of the Bishop of Seleucia, and there were continuous revolts against it. The Bishop of Seleucia always fell back on the support of the western Syrian bishops subject to Antioch, especially in 410, when Marutas of Maiphergat in this way overcame all opposition. The Bishops of Seleucia had had recourse to Antioch only as an expedient for imposing their supremacy upon their Persian brethren; that end once attained, they, in their turn, shook off the tutelage of Antioch. The Council of Seleucia, held in 424 laid down that the bishops of Persia “could bring no complaint against their patriarch before the patriarch of the Westerns (Antioch), and that every cause which could not be settled by their own patriarch was to be reserved for the tribunal of Christ”. That ended the matter. By this council the Church of Persia cut itself off definitively from the Greek Churches. The pity is that a few years later, by adopting Nestorianism as its national doctrine, it also cut itself off from the Catholic world.
In 451, at the Council of Chalcedon, another Church was set up to the detriment of Antiochene prestige, viz., that of Jerusalem. The bishop of the Holy City had obtained from the Council of Nicaea (325) the purely honorary rights which his successors had endeavored to turn into tangible realities. St. Cyril of Jerusalem, and especially Juvenal, tried to shake off the yoke of Caesarea Marithima, the religious capital of Palestine, and after Caesarea, the yoke of Antioch, the patriarchal see of the East. Juvenal, elected in 424, acted, indeed, as if he were already independent. Afterwards he sought official approbation for the usurpations he had been guilty of. He applied first to the Council of Ephesus (431) and put forward forged documents, which St. Cyril of Alexandria re fused to admit. Next he turned to the “Robber Council” of Ephesus (449), and his demands were conceded. At the same time he extorted a decree from Theodosius II granting his Church jurisdiction over the three provinces of Palestine, also over Arabia, and a part of Phoenicia. Two years later, at Chalcedon, through fear of losing more, Maximus, Patriarch of Antioch, came to an understanding with Juvenal whereby the Church of Jerusalem was to remain i possession of the three provinces of Palestine. I consequence of this agreement, which was ratified b the council, Juvenal became patriarch of Jerusalem.
The same Council of Chalcedon, by its twenty eighth canon, drawn up in the absence of the papa legates, regularized the situation at Constantinople it promulgated anew the third canon of the Second Ecumenical Council, which had made Byzantium the first see of the East and the second of the Christian world, giving it effective jurisdiction over the twenty eight provinces of the three dioceses of Thrace, Asia and Pontus, whose metropolitans it was to have the right of consecrating, and further authorizing it t ordain bishops for barbarian lands, which was the germ of its subsequent policy towards the Slav nations. Moreover, the council reserved to the bishop of the capital the right to decide on all appeal brought to his tribunal by the clergy of the three Eastern patriarchates and of the Archdiocese o Cyprus.
Beginning from the year 451, then, we find four Greek patriarchates (Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem) and one autocephalous Church (Cyprus) under the rule of an archbishop. Beyond and within the limits of the Roman Empire two other Churches had secured autonomy and broken with the Greek Churches; these were the Persian and the Armenian Churches, offshoots from the Church of Antioch. Lastly, in Europe the majority of the Greek-speaking Churches looked to the pope as their patriarch.
(2) Decay of the Greek Churches of the East and Rise of the Byzantine Hegemony (451-847)
The definition of faith of the Council of Chalcedon (451) had curiously agitated the Byzantine Empire. The condemnation of Eutyches, Dioscurus, and their adherents amounted in the eyes of many to a condemnation of St. Cyril of Alexandria and of the Council of Ephesus, if not to a victory for Nestorius. It happened that these religious disturbances reached their climax in the remotest provinces of the empire, in those which, while willingly or unwillingly subject to the Byzantines, had still retained a lively memory of their former national independence and glory, together with their own language, liturgy, art and literature. Egypt, Sysia; Armenia became for the most part Monophysite; Palestine also. Even the episcopate of Asia Minor, with the Metropolitan of Ephesus, sho resumed, about 474, the title of Patriarch, was bitterly opposed to the new definition; in the end, however, order and orthodoxy prevailed in Asia Minor. Until the reign of Justinian (527-65) the doctrine for or against the two natures in Christ was officially triumphant according as the emperor happened to be Monophysite or Dyophysite, and lent to the accepted doctrine the support of his sword. Justinian, the Byzantine Louis XIV, finally caused Dyophysitism to triumph, but the violence he had to use lost him the support of all the Eastern and African portions of the empire. The Church of Alexandria and that of Antioch nominated Monophysite patriarchs, and thus began the Coptic and Jacobite Churches which exist even yet. In Egypt nine out of every ten of the faithful declared against the faith of the imperial Court; in Syria the proportion was not so great. It may be said that about one-half of the subjects of Justinian accepted the faith of Chalcedon. Efforts to impose a heterodox patriarch on Palestine were in vain; except in the region of Garza, the monks were powerful enough to successfully resist the Monophysites. To sum up, then, we find that, as early as the sixth century, of the Greek patriarchates in the East, one (Alexandria) had lost nearly all its subjects, another (Antioch) retained but one-half, while the third (Jerusalem) was too inconsiderable ever to dispute the primacy with Constantinople. The latter thus became the only real Greek patriarchate, to which the other three, surnamed Melchites (Imperialists), looked for favors and protection against Monophysite competition and later against the threatening domination of the Arabs.
This leads us to a consideration of the second cause that completely ruined the hopes of the three Greek Churches of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, namely, Islam. It came from Arabia and spread like an oil-stain over Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, Persia, and finally Egypt. It even made great efforts to cross the Taurus range and enter the Greek world, but in this was everywhere defeated. For the moment its conquests were limited to provinces where the country folk had remained for the most part aloof from Hellenic speech and civilization. Thus the Syrian Jacobites gladly welcomed the Arab conquerors as their brethren in race and in speech, and, it would seem, often aided them in their conquests. Their complaisance towards the new regime brought them many favors not shown to the Melchites, who, because of their origin, or at least because of their relations with foreign Byzantium, were everywhere watched, hunted down, and proscribed. Without the help of Constantinople and Rome, from whom they begged help and assistance, it is very probable that these Melchite Churches would have disappeared. At the very time when the great Arab invasion and the spread of Islam was taking place, Byzantium was emerging from a disastrous war with Persia which had almost brought about the ruin of the Christian power, and its emperor was occupied in rallying the various Monophysite Churches to the official Church by means of the ad captandum formula of one will and one energy in Christ. The attempt failed owing to the splendid resistance set afoot by St. Sophronius of Jerusalem and St. Maximus of Constantinople; its net result was a fresh loss for the Melchite Patriarchate of Antioch, from which the monks of the convent of St. Maro on the Orontes seceded, to found, with the aid of the villagers of Syria and the Lebanon, the Maronite Church, Monothelite in doctrine, but which at a later date accepted Catholicism.
The growing weakness of the three eastern patriarchates and of the Archbishopric of Cyprus, whose titular had for a while to take refuge in Cyzicus, soon forced them to seek the moral and material support of Constantinople. It was eagerly granted, and Constantinople thus freed from a rival in the East, turned its attention towards Rome in the West. As we have seen, the civil diocese of Thrace was the only one in Europe subject to the Patriarch of Constantinople; the provinces of Achaia, Macedonia, Thessalia, Epirus (old and new), which formed the civil dioceses of Macedonia, Dacia, and Pannonia, were included in the Patriarchate of Rome. Over these remote provinces the pope exercised his spiritual supremacy through the Bishop of Thessalonica, appointed vicar Apostolic about 380, and the Bishop of Justiniana Prima (Uskub), appointed in 535. Until the eighth century this arrangement worked without much opposition on the part of Constantinople, and the ecclesiastical provinces of Illyricum were considered as forming part of the Roman Patriarchate. The Emperor Leo III, the Isaurian, seems to have been the first to interfere with the custom, when, in 733, after his excommunication by the pope, he increased the tribute from Calabria and Sicily, confiscated the patrimony of the Roman Church in those regions, and aimed a blow at the authority of the pope by depriving him of the obedience of Illyricum and Southern Italy, which were thenceforth attached to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Such, at least, is the usual interpretation of an obscure text in the Chronicle of Theophanes (Hubert in “Revue Historique” (1899), I, 21-22); it is confirmed by an observation of the Armenian ecclesiastic Basil, who, in the ninth century, speaking of the metropolitan cities of Illyricum and Italy, asserts that they had been made subject to the authority of Constantinople “because the pope of ancient Rome had fallen into the hands of the Barbarians” (Georgii Cyprii Descriptio Orbis Romani, ed. Gelzer, p. 27). The popes protested against this high-handed robbery, but no attention was paid to their protests, and since about 733 Illyricum has been attached to the Byzantine Patriarchate. In this way it gained about one hundred bishoprics, nor was this all: starting with the principle that no bishopric in the Byzantine Empire could be in any way dependent on an outside patriarch, the Iconoclast emperors took away from the Patriarch of Antioch, on the plea that he was a subject of the Arab caliphs, the twenty-four episcopal sees of Byzantine Isauria, and from the pope of Rome the fifteen Greek bishoprics in Southern Italy. Consequently, the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople became coextensive with the limits of the Byzantine Empire.
Besides this increase of jurisdiction, the establishment of a permanent synod (sunodos endemousa) and the addition to his title of the adjective Ecumenical rapidly placed the Patriarch of Byzantium in the front rank. The permanent synod dates most probably from the patriarchate of Nestorius (381-97). It was a sort of ecclesiastical tribunal permanently in session at Constantinople, made up, as a rule, of many bishops whom business or ambition had called to the capital; the patriarch himself presided over the tribunal. It attended to the solution of all ecclesiastical affairs submitted to the judgment of the emperor, so that the Patriarch of Constantinople, as its president, became ex officio arbiter between the Court and the bishops of the empire; it was a privileged position due to the very force of circumstances, and in the last resort it subjected all the great metropolitans, and even the patriarchs, of the East, to the judicial authority of the Byzantine Bishop. The ninth and seventeenth canons of Chalcedon confirmed and consolidated this state of things, and the insertion of those canons in the Civil Code gave them thenceforward equal authority with any other imperial decrees. The title Ecumenical was granted for the first time at the Robber Council of Ephesus (449) to the Patriarch Dioscurus of Alexandria, and at the time it looked like a dangerous innovation, and was repudiated at the Council of Chalcedon. Soon afterwards we find it applied to Popes St. Leo I, Hormisdas, and Agapitus, and the Patriarchs of Constantinople, John II (518-520), Epiphanius (520-535), Anthimus (536), Menas (536-552). It was in 588, on the occasion of a council, that the Patriarch John VI, surnamed the Faster, seems to have restricted the use of the honorary title to his own see. This gave rise to a fresh quarrel with Rome, which saw therein a new evidence of ambition. Pope Pelagius II annulled the acts of this council and his successor, St. Gregory the Great (590-604), began a lengthy correspondence on the matter with the Byzantine Patriarchs John IV and Cyriacus, but nothing ever came of it. The popes went on protesting, but the Byzantine patriarchs, supported by the Court, the bishops, and the clergy, also by the other Greek patriarchs, refused to forego the title, which they have borne ever since, and which has given them a color of honorary supremacy over all the Churches of the East.
(a) Internal Organization of the Byzantine Churches. The superior hierarchy of a Greek Church at the period we are treating of, viz., from the fourth to the tenth century, was composed of a patriarch, a catholicos, the greater metropolitans, the autocephalous metropolitans, the archbishops and the bishops. The patriarch is at this period the highest prelate, at the head of a whole Church, and, as we have seen, there were only four such: Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. The catholicos exercised jurisdiction over a portion of the Church on an equality with the patriarch, save for the fact that he must originally have been consecrated by the patriarch. Such, we are told, was the position of the Catholicos of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, and of the Catholicos of Armenia, with reference to the See of Antioch, and towards the same see, but at a later period, of the Catholicoi of Romagyris, of Irenoupolis, and of Georgia. The other patriarchates, except perhaps Alexandria, never had such an ecclesiastical dignitary.
The greater metropolitans ruled each an ecclesiastical province and had under their authority a certain number of suffragan bishops. Their position was similar to that of the Latin archbishops. The number of these metropolitans varied in the various patriarchates according to the actual number of ecclesiastical provinces. For a long period Jerusalem had three, in the sixth century Antioch had twelve, in the fifth century Alexandria had ten, in that same century Constantinople had twenty-eight, which rose to thirty-two about 650, and to forty-nine about the beginning of the tenth century. The “autocephalous” metropolitans had no suffragan bishops, and depended directly on the patriarch. Latin canon law knows no such dignitary. These prelates had each his own diocese; they were not metropolitans in partibus infidelium. The number of these prelates, small at first, increased in the East to such a degree that at the present time one rarely meets with any of another rank. In the sixth century there was only one, that of Chalcedon, in the Patriarchate of Constantinople; in the tenth century only two, those of Chalcedon and Catania. We have no documentary evidence as to how things stood in this respect in the Patriarchates of Alexandria and of Jerusalem. The archbishops do not differ from autocephalous metropolitans, except as being inferior to them in the hierarchy. They depend directly on the patriarch, and have the real government of a diocese. This title, which corresponds to the exempt archbishoprics, was formerly very common in the Eastern Church. About 650 the Church of Constantinople reckoned thirty-four archdioceses of this sort; in the tenth century, we know, on the evidence of three documents, it had fifty-one; at the end of the eleventh century the number stood at thirty-nine, and since then it has gone on decreasing in the East, so that at present the Greek Patriarchate of Jerusalem alone possesses this institution.
The position of suffragan bishops is too well known to require any explanation. In the sixth century there were fifty-six of them in the three provinces of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, one hundred and twenty-five in the twelve provinces of Antioch. About 650 there were three hundred and fifty-two in the thirty-two provinces of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and in the early part of the tenth century, when the number of its provinces rose to forty-nine, Constantinople had five hundred and twenty-two suffragan sees. As in the West, the number of suffragan sees in a province was not always the same in the same patriarch-ate. Thus, in 650 the provinces of Asia and of Lycia had each thirty-six such sees, but the province of Europe, or Rhodope, had only two. In the sixth century, again, in the Patriarchate of Antioch, the Metropolitan of Dara had three suffragans, while the Metropolitan of Seleucia in Isauria had twenty-four. To gain a collective idea of this hierarchy it should be remembered that in 650 the Patriarchate of Constantinople counted thirty-two metropoles, or capitals of ecclesiastical provinces, one autocephalous metropolis, thirty-four autocephalous archbishoprics, and three hundred and fifty-two bishoprics a grand total of four hundred and nineteen dioceses. A century earlier the Patriarchate of Antioch could boast of twelve metropolitans, five autocephalous metropolitans, two exempt bishoprics (a peculiar institution of this Church), and one hundred and twenty-five bishoprics—a grand total of one hundred and forty-four dioceses. For want of accurate information it is impossible to give similar details for the Patriarchates of Jerusalem and Alexandria.
Below the bishops came the other ecclesiastical dignitaries priests, deacons, deaconesses, subdeacons, lectors, cantors, and others. Ecclesiastical functionaries were very numerous. After the patriarch in the capital, and in their dioceses after the metropolitans and bishops, the chief dignitary was the archdeacon, a sort of vicar-general having direct control over the clergy, if not over the faithful of the diocese. The title soon disappeared and was replaced by that of protosyncellus, which has remained to our own times. There were, moreover, referendaries who carried important messages and looked after the business of the diocese in the bishop’s name; apocrisiarii (in the Latin Church responsales, i.e. nuncios), or representatives of the patriarchs at, the emperor’s Court, of the metropolitans to their patriarch, and of the bishops to their metropolitans; oeconomoi, or bursars, who looked after church property and who entrusted the administration of such property in outlying districts to delegates of various names and titles: a kimeliarchos, in charge of the church treasury and also known as the skeuophylax; a chartophylax or archivist; a chancellor, or master of ceremonies, etc.
During this period the Greek episcopate was, as a general rule, recruited by election. The notables united with the clergy drew up a list of three candidates which they submitted to the choice of the patriarch, the metropolitan, or the bishops, according as the see to be filled was a metropolitan see or a simple bishopric. In practice, the patriarch and, most of all, the emperor interfered in these elections. The nomination of a patriarch belonged in the first instance to the clergy of Constantinople, then to a committee of metropolitans and bishops; in reality the choice was always settled by the emperor. From the list of three candidates presented by the bishops he selected one as patriarch, and if none of the names presented was agreeable to him he put a new name before the electoral college, which the bishops could only confirm.
The status of the lower clergy was much the same as now. In the cities and populous centers there were many learned and often exemplary priests, who, for the most part, had been through the monastic schools; but in the rural districts they were generally ignorant and of evil repute. Because of their exemptions and their civil privileges, the clergy were numerous. Churches and chapels abounded everywhere, especially in the cities; every Basileus (emperor), even the least religious-minded, was lavish with money for their construction. An idea of the personnel employed at this time in serving a church may be gathered from two churches in Constantinople. A law of Justinian (535) fixed the number of clerics at St. Sophia and its three adjacent churches at 425—viz., 60 priests, 100 deacons, 40 deaconesses, 90 subdeacons, 110 lectors, 25 cantors, to which we must add 100 doorkeepers. From Justinian’s reign to that of Heraclius this number increased, and in 627 the latter emperor was obliged to put a limit to the number of clerics serving this church. Unless subsequent endowments authorized otherwise, the regular number was to be 525, viz., 80 priests, 150 deacons, 40 deaconesses, 70 subdeacons, 160 lectors, 25 cantors, besides75 doorkeepers, 2 syncelli, 12 chancellors, and 40 notaries. The little church of Blachernae had a personnel at this period of 75 members, viz., 12 priests, 18 deacons, 6 deaconesses, 8 subdeacons, 20 lectors, 4 cantors, and 7 doorkeepers. From these two examples we may infer what the other smaller or larger churches must have required. Benevolent institutions claimed a proportionate Benevolent institutions claimed a proportionate number of functionaries and titles; in Christian antiquity few social bodies were as much concerned with the diminution of social ills as was that of Constantinople. There were special charitable institutions to succour every form of physical and moral suffering; from the emperor to the humblest citizen all were interested in their maintenance. Hospices and shelters were found everywhere; there were also xenodochia, or hostelries for strangers; gerontocomia, or homes for the aged; ptochotrophia, or asylums for the poor; nosocomia or hospitals for the sick; orphanotrophia, or foundling hospitals; brephotrophia, or creches; and even lobotrophia, or homes for lepers. These institutions were tine customs, were mostly conducted by monks, which fact brings us to a consideration of the monastic system.
If we consider their rules, the monks may be divided into two classes: solitaries and cenobites. The soliaries had various names, according to their habitat or the exercises which they practiced. They were known as hermits or recluses if they provided their own necessities of life or accepted them from strangers; stylites or dendrites, if they chose a pillar or a tree as the scene of their mortifications; lauriotes or kelliotes, if they lived together in a laura. These last belong rather to the Eastern world properly so called (Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia) than to the Greek, or Byzantine, world. On the other hand, the Greek Christian world was famous for its cenobites, who always and everywhere followed a community life. Solitary and cenobite had each a special dress, the names and uses of which are well known. The laurce, and convents, had each its own superior, some times called archimandrite, and sometimes hegumenos, terms synonymous in the beginning, but soon differentiated. Gradually archimandrite came to mean the head of all the monasteries of a city or of a diocese. Below him came the deutereuon or prior, at least until the sixth century; after that the place was taken by the oeconomos, or bursar. In the ninth century every diocese (presumably the cenobites of every diocese) or district formed a sort of federation under the presidency of a hegumenos known as the exarch or archimandrite. In the Archdiocese of Jerusalem thispresidency over the laurites and hermits devolved on the Hegumenos of St. Sabas, and that of the cenobites on the Hegumenos of St. Theodosius. In the archdiocese of Constantinople the superior of the convent, or monastery, of Dalmatia exercised this function. As soon as peace was definitively granted to the Church, and especially after the reign of Theodosius I (378-95), the religious life had its period of greatest splendor, Emperors, empresses, consuls, patricians, senators, patriarchs, bishops, private individuals vied in building conventual homes for “those who had put on the robe of the angels” and who had become “citizens of heaven “As early as 518, we find a petition to Pope Hormisdas signed by fifty-four superiors of monastic houses for men in Constantinople; in 536 no fewer than sixty-eight superiors of monasteries from the same city assisted at the council which deposed the patriarch Anthimos, while the neighboring Diocese of Chalcedon alone sent forty more. In Palestine the Archdiocese of Jerusalem had at least 100 monasteries. And it must not be imagined that the number of their inmates was small. The Laura of St. Sabas had 150 inmates; the convent of St. Theodosius, 400; the New Laura more than 600. It is true that all of the monasteries were not so populous, but if we place the average number of monks for each monastery at 50 we shall not be far from the truth. Let it not be forgotten that 10,000 monks of Palestine assembled at Jerusalem in 516 to demand that the Council of Chalcedon be observed. It is worth noting that there never existed a religious congregation, properly speak pies we may infer what the other smaller or larger, in the Greek world; this Western form of mochurches must have required. nasticism was unknown to the East. There every convent was independent of its neighbor, and where many convents had the same founder their union rarely lasted beyond his lifetime. Again, in spite of a still prevalent Western belief, the Greek monks never had a religious rule, in the canonical sense of the word. Even the Rules of St. Basil, St. Anthony, and St. Pachomius were not canonical rules. The monks obeyed a whole series of precepts, or monastictions, either written or, more often, preserved by oral tradition, which were the same everywhere. But if, they had no rule properly so called, they had an infinity of typica or regulations. In the liturgical offices the customs of St. Sabas at Jerusalem, i.e. the Pales combined with those of the Studium at Constantinople or some other monastery, and thus all desired variations were obtained. For the monastic life itself the “Typica”, i.e. original charters or constitutions of the monastery, were the guide. The most ancient of these “Typica” known to us is that tions of St. Athanasius the Athonite (or of Mount Athos), which dates from 969. In matters of jurisdiction all Greek monasteries were subject to the bishop or to the patriarch; the latter known as stauropegiac, because the patriarch asserted his rights over the monastery by placing a wooden cross (vraupbs) behind the altar. It was in the cloister almost exclusively that more the eminent ecclesiastics of all ranks were trained, and to it dethroned emperors and disgraced courtiers fled for refuge. The monks were the historians, the theologians, the poets of that time; the leaders of all heresies and their opponents were monks; councils were convened or prevented as the monks thought good. They assisted the bishops by their learning and disturbed the empire by their quarrels. In short, they held the whole foreground of the ecclesiastical stage, and absorbed all the intellectual and religious life of the Greek Church. And while their extensive possessions, exempt from taxes, drained the finances of the empire, the thousands upon thousands of young men who flocked to their monasteries robbed the land of its agricultural class and the army of its recruits. As it existed in the Greek world, the monastic life caused perhaps more evil than good, and it is undoubtedly to it we owe that narrow pietism, that formalism and ritualism in devotion, consisting altogether in the externals of religion, which is even now so characteristic of the East.
(b) The Emperor; Relations between East and West; Liturgy. In the foregoing sketch of the ecclesiastical body the Byzantine emperor has not appeared. Yet no one has a greater right to a place in that body. Heir of the Roman emperors, the Basileus had inherited also the office of pontifex maximus, and, though after the fifth century that title no longer appears on public documents, yet every Greek looked up to the Basileus as the head of the national religion. Moreover, the emperor was the chosen of God, Who had raised him above humanity in order to draw him nearer to Himself. As Eusebius of Caesarea tells us, “His intelligence is a reflexion of the Divine intelligence, he is a partaker of the power of the Almighty. “In his “Instruction” to the “most divine” Justinian, the deacon Agapetus reproduces under another form these ideas so prevalent at Byzantium: “It was a sign from God that pointed out the Basileus for the empire; he was predestined in the designs of God to rule the world, even as the eye is set within the head to control the body. God has need of no one; the emperor needs only God. Between the Deity and the emperor there is no intermediary” (P.G., LXXXVI, 1177). The Divine call to the empire gave the emperor a sacred character, and the anointing, the sign of priesthood, became his by Divine right. To take the life of the Basileus or attack his authority was to resist the will of heaven and to commit a sacrilege, unless the one who did so happened to be, like David of old, also the chosen one and the anointed of the Lord. This anointing and the priesthood which it conferred gave the emperor a high place among the ministers of the altar. He became the Isapostolos, the equal of the Apostles, or even the thirteenth Apostle. Hence he held a special position between lay society and the ecclesiastical body. He dominated, and belonged to both, uniting in himself both elements of the social order, the civil and the ecclesiastical. Moreover, this special sacerdotium reserved for the emperor secured him special rights and powers. “I also am a bishop”, said Constantine to the prelates of his day. “You are the bishops assigned to look after the domestic affairs of the Church; I am appointed by God to oversee all that lies outside.” And Leo III, the Isaurian, wrote to Gregory II: “Do you not know that I am both priest and king?” Priest, bishop, Isapostolos, Apostle himself, the Basileus was placed there to guard the purity of dogma; he gave legal sanction to the decisions of councils and inserted their canons in the public code. He convened general councils, was present at their sessions, or sent his representative to them; he controlled their discussions, and only permitted the bishops to leave when they had defined and legislated according to the Faith and the canons, or even according to his own wishes. If he frequently chose patriarchs and bishops, he was not remiss in deposing them as soon as they stood in his way. Orthodox and virtuous patriarchs were the victims of wicked emperors, while immoral or heretical ones were cast out by orthodox emperors. But it was always a matter of politics, and the Church was merely a pawn in the despotic hands of the State. This condition has been happily described by an expressive barbarism as the rule of Caesaropapism.
The relations that grew up between Rome and the Greek Churches during the long period from the death of Constantine the Great to the end of the Iconoclast persecutions (337-843) were far from cordial. In principle East and West were united; in fact they were separated during most of that time. During those 506 years the Greek Church was in open schism with Rome during seven periods aggregating at least 248 years. The sum total is reckoned thus: (I) The schism in connection with St. Athanasius and Arianism, from the Council of Sardica (343) to the accession O of St. John Chrysostom to the See of Constantinople (398)—55 years; (2) in connection with the condemnation of St. John Chrysostom by the episcopate of the East (404-15) 11 years; (3) in regard to the Byzantine patriarch Acacius and the Emperor Zeno’s “Henoticon” edict (484-519) 35 years; (4) arising out of the Monothelite movement of Sergius and Heraclius (640-81)—41 years; (5) arising out of the first Iconoclastic conflict, begun by Leo III, the Isaurian (726-87) 61 years; (6) arising out of the adulterous marriage contracted by the Emperor Constantine VI (795-811) 16 years; (7) in connection with the second Iconoclastic persecution (814-43) 29 years. This gives a total of 248 years of schism and heresy out of a period of 506 years, i.e. nearly one-half the time. Again, it must not be forgotten that divisions vexed certain individual Churches—e.g., the Schism of Antioch (330-415), which had its effect not only on the Churches of the East but also on those of the West. It must also be confessed that when circumstances demanded strength of will and determination the Greek bishops were very often culpable. Of all these heresies and schisms they might at least have lessened the duration and importance, if not altogether avoided them, had they better understood and realized their duty. In the patriarchal See of Constantinople, the premier see of the Greek Empire, we find nineteen heretical patriarchs, whom the first seven Ecumenical Councils, all held in the East, condemned by name, or who vehemently opposed the decisions of such councils. These nineteen were: Eusebius of Nicomedia, Macedonius, Eudoxius, Demophilos, all four Arians; Nestorius, Acacius, Timotheus, Anthimus, of whom the last three were Monophysites; Sergius, Pyrrhus, Paul, Peter, John VI, all Monothelites; Anastasius, Constantine II, Nicetas, Theodotus Cassiteras, Anthony, John VII Lecanomantos, all Iconoclasts. And this list might be increased, if we were to include the patriarchs who, though not formally heretics, would not condemn their heretical predecessors, and because of this weakness were unable to obtain communion with the Holy See. If in the two patriarchates of Alexandria and Antioch the number of excommunicated patriarchs is less, it is because there an almost immediate rupture took place between the Catholics and the Monophysites or Monothelites. Hence we meet fewer heretics in these patriarchal sees for the very good reason that in these places the heretics quickly set up their own separate churches, whereas in Byzantium, the seat of the central power, both Catholics and heretics either could not or did not dare set up ecclesiastical bodies distinct from the State Church, but were constrained to accept orthodox or heterodox teaching according to the bias of the emperors. Often were the Greek bishops constrained to stifle the voice of conscience. Probably no Church can furnish so many examples of the kind. In 449 more than two hundred bishops at the Robber Synod of Ephesus defined Monophysitism as a dogma, while two years later, at the Council of Chalcedon, six hundred and thirty bishops approved the dogma of the two natures. In 476 the Basileus made five hundred bishops sign a retraction of the teaching of the Council of Chalcedon, while in 458 Emperor Leo I obtained an equal number of signatures in favor of that same council. The same bishops said Yea and Nay within a few years of each other with a facility that, to say the least, is disconcerting. In 681 at the Sixth Ecumenical Council the whole Greek episcopate pronounced itself in favor of the two wills in Jesus Christ, yet, in 712, the same episcopate, with the exception of a few bishops, solemnly approved the condemnation of the former council pronounced by the Emperor Philippicus, and retracted its disapproval one year afterwards. In 753, at the conciliabulum of Hieria, near Chalcedon, 388 Greek bishops applauded the Iconoclast edicts of Constantine Copronymus, and in 787, at the Seventh General Council, they condemned his memory and restored the cultus of images.
Degradation of will, and slavery of the whole episcopate to the whims of the emperors such are the main causes of these wretched tergiversations. No doubt there were some noble, though rare, exceptions among the bishops and among the monks. Be it understood, their knowledge is not in question. On this score bishops and monks, as a rule, were ahead of their brethren in the West. This is one of the things that startle the student of the ecclesiastical literature of the two Churches during this same period. In the East there is no such suspension of literary activity as we know to have lasted in the West from the period of the Germanic invasions to the magnificent efflorescence of the Middle Ages. But the Latin Church had one incontestable superiority over its rival: it had one center of gravity, Rome, and always recognized the papacy as the visible head of the Church. The ecclesiological doctrine of the Eastern Church, on the contrary, is very rudimentary; they do not appeal to Rome, and recognize its imprescriptible rights only very rarely and in extreme cases. With the exception of St. Gregory of Nazianzus, St. Theodore the Studite, and a few other rare examples, the bishops and theologians of the Greek Church never touch on the primacy of Rome, except when they are imploring the pope’s help to bring a dangerous adversary to reason. The danger past the shock avoided they have forgotten everything.
The primitive Church, Grwco-Syriac in speech, as we have said, adopted the liturgy of the synagogue, which consisted of readings from the Bible, hymns, homilies on some subject furnished by the reading, and prayers. To this was added the sacred banquet of the Supper instituted by Christ, with prayers and ritual forms borrowed for the most part from the synoptic Gospels and from St. Paul. We first find somewhat precise indications of this liturgy in the “Teaching of the Apostles“, the Epistle of Pope St. Clement, and the First Apology of St. Justin. “From these”, says Duchesne (Origines du culte chretien, p. 53), “we must descend at once to the fourth ‘century. It is about this period that we come upon documents, of a kind that may be made use of, bearing upon the liturgical usages which were afterwards completed and diversified until they became what we see them.” This same author adds that from that period it is possible to classify all known liturgies under “four principal types: the Syriac, the Alexandrian, the Roman, and the Gallican…. The Syriac had already given way to many subtypes, each having its distinct characteristics.” We shall here deal only with the Syriac and Alexandrian types, the only ones used in the East.
The Syriac type, properly so-called, followed in the Patriarchates of Antioch and Jerusalem, as well as in the Church of Cyprus, is mainly represented by the Greek or Syriac Liturgy of St. James and other analogous liturgies. Up to the Arabic invasion Mass was said in Greek, exept in the country churches, were Syriac was used. This latter speech was adopted by the Jacobites as their liturgical language when they separated from the official Church. In our day these heretics and the Uniat Syrians are the only ones who retain the Syriac rite, with soma modifications especially noteworthy in the Maronite Church.
A subtype of the Syriac rite is represented by the liturgies used in the Syriac Churches of Mesopotamia and Persia; the liturgy of Sts. Addeus and Marls, still in use among the Nestorians and the Uniat Chaldeans, is another example. Another sub-type is represented by the Armenian Liturgy, also derived from that of Antioch, but modified since 491, when the Armenians separated from the Greek Churches and marked the separation by adding to the divergencies of their rites. Lastly, a third sub-type is represented by the Cappa-doco-Byzantine liturgy which is in the main a copy of the Syriac. It was by bishops who were natives of Syria or Cappadocia Eusebius, Eudoxius, Gregory Nazianzen, Nectarius, John Chrysostom, and Nestorius that the Church of Constantinople was governed at the time of its foundation and definite organization, and it is this Byzantine liturgy that has survived in all Greek Churches, whether Orthodox or Uniat, in the Patriarchates of Alexandria and Jerusalem, in the Churches of Cyprus, Servia, Greece, Bulgaria, Russia, Rumania, and others, just as the Roman Liturgy has predominated in all the Latin Churches. It should be noted, however, that in the majority of these Churches Greek is not the liturgical language, but Arabic, or Slavonic, or Rumanian, into which the text of the Greek Liturgy has been literally translated. For the Byzantine liturgy there exist, besides the Mass of the Presanctified, known to have existed since the year 615, two complete liturgies: that of St. Basil, in almost universal use in the East about the year 520 (P.L., LXV, 449), and that of St. John Chrysostom, which is the one mainly followed at present.
Of the Alexandrian Liturgy, omitting certain later or doubtful copies, we have three complete texts: the Greek Liturgy of St. Mark, which seems to have been drawn up by St. Cyril; the Coptic Liturgy, said to be by St. Cyril of Alexandria, and the Abyssinian Liturgy of the Twelve Apostles. Each of these represents a different group of the same rite, and all are fundamentally alike.
(3) The Greek Schism; Conversion of the Slavs (Ninth to Eleventh Century)
The Greek Schism, about which space permits us to say very little (see Photius of Constantinople; Michael Caerularius), was caused by something that must have seemed trivial at Constantinople. On November 23, 858, the Patriarch Ignatius was deposed, and on December 25 in the same year Photius succeeded him. Ignatius was deposed because he had refused Communion to the Emperor Bardas, who was living openly in sin with his daughter-in-law. It was not the first time at Byzantium that for more or less lawful actions an orthodox patriarch had been deposed and another appointed in his place. Thus, among other examples, Macedonius II had succeeded Euphemius in 496; John III had succeeded Eutychius in 565; Cyrus had succeeded Callinicus in 706, and John VI had replaced Cyrus in 712, without causing any great commotion. Ignatius might then have let things take their course and waited in his retreat till fortune turned his way once more. This he did not do, and, if he was somewhat lacking in suppleness, his right was incontestable. Once he had refused to consent to his deposition, Pope Nicholas I was bound to uphold him and to condemn Photius, who was an outright usurper. Photius was clever enough to see that a rupture with Rome on this point would not satisfy even the Greeks, so he cast about for another issue. He took, one by one, the many causes for separation that had been in the air for centuries and united them into a body of doctrine; then, confident in his learning and prestige, he decided to give battle. The insertion of the “Filioque” clause in the Creed, the procession of the Holy Ghost a utroque, etc., were so many reasons which were bound to have their effect upon the leading minds when the question of the separation came up Then again the popes’ acknowledgment of the Frankish kings as Emperors of the West was bound to carry weight in Byzantine political circles. Moreover, it was evident by this time that between the Latin and Greek worlds there existed a chasm which must grow broader with the years. However, the Photius affair was arranged. Ignatius forgave his rival and, it appears, on his deathbed designated him as his successor. Pope John VIII sanctioned this choice, and if subsequent popes excommunicated Photius it was for special reasons not yet sufficiently known.
In 886, Photius was deposed by the Emperor Leo VI, who disliked him, and, between 893 and 901, a reconciliation of the two Churches was effected by Pope John IX and the Patriarch Antonius Cauleas. During the entire tenth century, and the first part of the eleventh, relations between the Roman and the Greek Churches were excellent. There were, no doubt, occasional difficulties, always unavoidable in societies different in customs, speech, and civilization, but we may almost go so far as to say that the union between the Churches was as deep and sincere as it was during the first three centuries of Christianity. Michael Caerularius, however, desired a schism for no other reason, apparently, than to satisfy his pride, and in 1054 he succeeded in making one at the very time when everything seemed to promise a lasting peace. For this purpose he brought forward, besides the theological reasons stated by Photius, many others that Photius had neglected or merely hinted at, and which were judged particularly fitted to catch the popular fancy. The use of azymes, or unleavened bread, in the liturgy, the celibacy imposed on all priests in the West, the warlike manners of Western bishops and priests, the shaven face and the tonsure, the Saturday fast, and other such divergencies of practice were used to discredit the Latin Church. Thoughtful men may not have been misled by these specious arguments, but the mass of the people and the monks were certainly influenced, and at Constantinople it was they who made up public opinion. For this very reason the policy of Michael Caerularius, petty and superficial as it was, was better fitted than that of Photius to bring about permanent results. Indeed, so thoroughly did it cut off the Greek peoples from Rome that since then she has never won them back.
Unfortunately, this movement of separation under Photius and Michael Caerularius was on foot at the very time when the Slays were being converted to Christianity, a fact in the history of the evangelization of the nations second only in importance to the conversion of the Germanic races. The Servians and Croatiarrs, settled by the Emperor Heraclius (610-41) on the lands the still inhabit, had adopted the Christian teaching of Roman priests and bishops. But the progress of the new religion was so slow that a second conversion was deemed necessary. It took place under the Emperor Basil the Macedonian (867-86); as it was entrusted to Byzantine missionaries the Greek Rite of Constantinople was adopted. This had no small weight in detaching from Rome whole provinces that were formerly subject to it, and when these numerous Servian Churches broke away from Byzantium, it was to organize autonomous ecclesiastical bodies independent of both Rome and Constantinople. In this way a whole region was lost to Catholicism. The Bulgarians, who had crossed the Danube about the same time as the Servians, formed a more or less homogeneous nation with the Slays and became a warrior people that more than once struck terror into the heart of the Byzantine Basileus. Towards the end of 864, or in the opening months of 865, their king, Boris, was baptized by a Greek bishop and took the name of Michael after his godfather, the Emperor of Byzantium. Photius, who was patriarch at the time, did not see his way to granting all the demands of King Boris, so, like a cunning politician, the latter turned to Rome and succeeded in obtaining successively several missionaries to organize the newborn Church within his territory. His next step was to send away all the German and Byzantine missionaries whom he found there. His real ambition was to have a patriarch of his own who would anoint him emperor just as the Greek patriarch anointed the Basileus at Constantinople, and as the pope anointed the Germanic emperor of the West. Whether he got his patriarch from Rome or from Constantinople mattered little; the main thing was to have one at any cost. Rome did not fall in with his plan, and Boris turned again to Constantinople, thereby initiating a serious misunderstanding between Rome and Constantinople which considerably added to the strain occasioned by the affairs of Ignatius and Photius. Rome claimed the Bulgarians as inhabitants of ancient Illyricum (her former ecclesiastical territory) and as having been baptized by her missionaries; Constantinople claimed that its priests had converted the Bulgarians, that the land was once imperial territory, and that the Council of Chalcedon had given Constantinople the right to consecrate bishops for all barbarian countries. Between the two Churches the Bulgarians did not know which way to turn. They retained the Byzantine Rite, which, with its elaborate ceremonial, made a deep impression upon their child-like imaginations, and, formally, they submitted to Greek bishops, until they should have bishops and a patriarch of their own. When, in 886, the disciples of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, expelled from Moravia by King Swiatopluk, took refuge in Bulgaria, they were received with open arms. The newcomers introduced into Bulgaria the Byzantine Liturgy, but in the Slavonic tongue, whereas hitherto the Bulgarian priests had used the Greek language. From Bulgaria this Byzantino-Slavonic Liturgy spread among the Servians, the Russians, and all the Slav peoples.
The first Bulgarian patriarchate was originally established at Pereiaslaf, then was transferred to various centers in Western Bulgaria, finally to Ochrida (see Acxxnda). In 1019 it was suppressed, when the town of Ochrida fell into the hands of the Byzantines, or rather it was converted into an independent archbishopric. As such it lasted until 1767, when it was definitively suppressed. However, independent patriarchate or autonomous archdiocese, the Bulgarian Church was from its foundation powerfully influenced by Constantinople; the long series of its Greek or Hellenistic archbishops shared at all times the anti-Roman feelings of that city. The Russian Church is also a spiritual daughter of Constantinople (see Russia). We need not relate here the conversion of that nation; it probably took place about 853, perhaps a little earlier, and both Latins and Greeks probably participated in it. Progress was very slow, however, and when the Czarina Olga wished to become a Christian she had to go to Constantinople for instruction and baptism, on which occasion she took the name of Helena (c. 956 or 957). Olga’s conversion had no great influence; the czar, Sviatoslav (964-972), refused to yield to her wishes that he should also be a Christian. It was not till 989 that Prince Vladimir allowed himself to be baptized, and ordered that his subjects should ever afterwards receive baptism.
The Russian Church was probably organized at this time, and a Greek metropolitan sent by the Byzantine patriarch was installed at Kiev, the Russian capital.
Unfortunately, we have no “Notitia Episcopatuum” of the Byzantine Church contemporary with this event. The “Notitia” of 980 naturally makes no reference to Kiev, and the next “Notitia” extant goes from 1081 to 1118 only; in that year the metropolitan See of Kiev appears as number 60; similarly, in the “Notitia” of Manuel Comnenus which appeared about 1170. In this document Kiev appears as presiding over eleven suffragan sees, and this is the earliest information we have concerning the hierarchy of the Russian Church. The head of this Church had a rather inferior place in the Byzantine hierarchy, but exercised the prerogatives of an Exarch (q.v.) and, once installed, administered freely his ecclesiastical province. He consecrated its bishops, crowned its czars, and he usually resided at Kiev. Generally, a Greek was chosen for the office, so that the medieval Russian Church was but an extension of the Byzantine Church, sharing the liturgy, the dogmatic teaching, and the ecclesiastical antipathies of the latter.
(4) Efforts towards Reunion; The Crusades (Eleventh to Fifteenth Century)
In spite of the emperor and the Court, who favored an understanding with Rome and the West, Michael Crularius proclaimed his schism in 1054. He was followed by most of the clergy, also by the monks and the Greek people. Peter, the Patriarch of Antioch, held aloof from this violent measure, but died soon afterwards, and his successor went over to Caerularius. The Patriarch of Alexandria, usually resident at Constantinople, sided with the bishop of the capital; the Greek Archbishop of Ochrida was devoted to Caerularius and was one of the first to stir up the question of the azymes as a grievance against Rome. Lastly, the head of the Russian Church was only a metropolitan dependent on the Byzantine Church. Therefore, with the exception of the insignificant Patriarch of Jerusalem, who at first tried to agree with both parties, all the Greek Churches had taken sides against Catholicism about the end of the eleventh century. In the years that elapsed from the death of Photius (891) to the fall of Constantiople (1453) the anti-Roman doctrine of the Greek Church took definite shape. Photius was the first who attempted to coordinate all possible reasons of complaint against the Latins. He enumerated seven chief grievances: the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son, the insertion of the “Filioque” clause in the Creed, the primacy of the pope, the reconfirmation of those confirmed by Greek priests, the Saturday fast, the use of milk foods during the first week of Lent, the obligation of celibacy on the priests. The last three do not in any way affect dogma, and as much might be said of the second. The reconfirmation of those already confirmed seems to have been a false accusation, unless some Latin missionaries sinned through excess of zeal. The primacy of the pope had always been recognized by the patriarchs of the East, and by Photius himself, as long as the pope was willing to condescend to their wishes. The first letter of Photius to Pope Nicholas I does not differ from those of his predecessors, save for its more submissive tone and more humble diction. Appeals to the pope from the East between the second and ninth centuries are very numerous. And as for the Greek theory of the procession of the Holy Ghost, it was no new thing in the ninth century; St. John Damascene and St. Maximus of Chrysopolis had favored this doctrine long before Photius and were never accused of heresy. It would, therefore, have been easy to find a common ground or compromise that would have harmonized the teaching of both schools. Passing from Photius to Michael Caerularius, we find only one new complaint directed against the Latins, and that liturgical: the use of unleavened bread (see Azymes). On this point the dispute was impossible of settlement, since each Church had been using its own particular kind of bread from time immemorial. Fresh differences in the meantime arose: the placing (about the thirteenth century) of the Epiclesis before the Consecration; Purgatory, which the Greeks would not admit, although they prayed for the dead and mortified themselves in their behalf; the full glorification of the just prior to the general judgment; the general judgment itself, which they rejected, as did also some Latin medieval theologians; the giving of communion to the laity under one species; baptism by infusion. To all these differences were to be added in the nineteenth century the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and that of Papal Infallibility. Merely for the sake of recording them, we may mention liturgical differences, as the manner of fasting in Lent, the adoption of a new calendar, the manner of making the sign of the cross—causes of offense which the Greek clergy took pleasure in keeping alive, and which made a deep impression on a people devoted to trifles and, generally, very ignorant.
Papal Efforts at Reunion. The breach declared in 1054 has never been repaired. Yet this has not been the fault of the popes. As early as 1072 we find Alexander II eager for reunion. This attempt failed because of the unflinching opposition of the philosopher Michael Psellos, the Patriarch Xiphilinos, and their fanatical friends. Thenceforth until the fall of Constantinople (1453) the popes multiplied letters, embassies, and paternal advice to win back the erring Greeks to the fold of orthodoxy, and to keep them there on their return. All in vain. The two reconciliations effected by the Councils of Lyons (1274) and of Florence (1439) were solely due to the efforts of the popes and the Byzantine emperors. At Lyons Michael VIII, Pala ologus, a clever politician, proclaimed himself and his people Catholics in order to save his crown and to stay the formidable armament of Charles of Anjou. At Florence John VII, Palaeologus, came to beg men and arms from Europe to save his capital from the threatening Turks. It would be difficult for an impartial historian to affirm the sincerity of their desire for religious union. One thing is c n, their clergy followed them with the greatest reluctance, and at Lyons the Greek clergy kept aloof from any union with Rome, and would not listen to it at any price. Michael Palwologus was hardly dead (1282) when his son Andronicus undid all that he had accomplished, and even denied religious burial to his father; moreover, the Catholic patriarch, John Veccos, was deposed together with all his friends.
John VII, Palaeologus, who had agreed to the union at Florence, either could not, or did not dare, proclaim it in his capital. He feared either the anathemas or the intrigues of men like Mark of Ephesus, or George Scholarios. His brother, Constantine Dragases, the last of the Byzantine emperors, died heroically for his country. He, also, feared at the beginning of his reign to impose the union on his clergy and people. He had to wait until December 12, 1452, hardly six months before the entry of the Turks into the capital, when Cardinal Isidore solemnly proclaimed the union of Florence in the church of Saint Sophia. Admiral Notaras cynically observed that the Greeks preferred the turban of the prophet to the tiara of the pope. It must, however, be acknowledged that the seeds of union sown by the missionaries and by the envoys of Rome have never been completely stifled. There have always been Greeks who were sincerely Catholics, even in the darkest days of their country’s history. Among them some have always defended with their pens, and often at the risk of their lives, the unity of the Church and the primacy of Rome. Demetracopoulos, it is true, has published a lengthy list of the principal anti-Roman writers among the Greeks, but it would be easy to prepare another very large work of the same kind exhibiting the pro-Catholic activity of many Greeks. John Veccos (Beccos), George Acropolites, Isidore of Kiev, Bessarion, Arcudius, Allatius, are names that carry weight with any unbiassed historian, and they had many disciples and imitators.
With few exceptions the popes have always leaned to the religious policy of recovering the East by every means of pacification and, when necessary, by theological controversy. This last means, however, was as a rule foredoomed to failure. Polemics have rarely converted anyone, and when carried on, as in the Middle Ages, with syllogisms and, above all, with insults and outrages, then, instead of conciliating and calming angry souls, they leave behind them only bitterness, asperity, and sometimes hate. If the popes, however, were misled in their choice of weapons, or rather, if their religious representatives in the East abused controversy and polemic, it must be conceded that the popes stopped there. The violent solution of the Eastern question by the sword—the crusade which was to profit only the Westerns was no doing of the popes. In his stirring appeal at Clermont-Ferrand that set afoot the first armed enterprise, Urban II exhorted the Christians of the West to save their brethren in the East, even bef ore undertaking to free Jerusalem and the Holy Sepulchre. Moreover, it is almost too well known to need repeating here—Innocent III denounced vigorously the diversion of the Fourth Crusade to an attack on Zara and Constantinople for the almost exclusive profit of Venice. From 1261 to 1282 (the Sicilian Vespers) Charles of Anjou was hindered from making war on Michael Palasologus and recapturing Constantinople solely by the influence of the Roman Curia. It would therefore be an injustice to blame the popes for the abortive issue of the Crusades. Had they been supported earnestly by East and West alike, Christendom would have fared immeasurably better. Unfortunately, the Catholic States, especially the Italian Republics, were too selfish to grasp the high moral and religious significance of the conduct and aims of the popes. As a rule, the only success of contemporary politicians was in embarrassing the popes. The East, moreover, it must be admitted, did its share in frustrating the work of the Crusades. Far from assisting the generous West in its sublime effort to save Christendom, the Greeks saw in the Crusades only sources of profit for themselves or attempted to hinder their success. While their theologians and polemical writers showed more rudeness and spleen in controversy than did the Latins, their princes and emperors were likewise less disinterested than the leaders of the Crusades. It is to be carefully noted that the crusading movement was by no means a complete failure. At the time of the First Crusade, in the eleventh century, the Turks were in possession of Nica, within a stone’s throw of Constantinople. Before the Frankish knights Islam retreated, or at least ceased its conquests, in Asia Minor, in Syria, and even in Egypt. And if in the fourteenth century it was enabled to resume its conquering march and cross into Europe, a menace to Christian civilization, it was in consequence of the cessation of the Crusades. Nor must the foundation of the many Catholic institutions in the East, which long outlasted the Crusades, be reckoned as useless. It was their slow but continuous efforts that paved the way for the emancipation of many Christian peoples from the Turkish yoke, and brought about in those countries that increasing influence of the Catholic religion which we now behold. “More important perhaps”, says M. Brehier in “L’Eglise et l’Orient au moyen age: les Croisades” (Paris, 1907), p. 354, “are the results which the Crusades never dreamed of and which sprang from the contact of Christendom and the Orient. The very complex question as to what European civilization owes to the East cannot be discussed here; yet every day we find traces of the charm which the culture of the East exercised on Europe before and during the Crusades. What we are most concerned with is the advance thus made in geographical knowledge and, in consequence, in the spread of European civilization by expeditions and travels in the East. Asia was really discovered in the thirteenth century by those Italian missionaries and merchants who were the guests of the Mongolian Khans. For the first time since the expedition of Alexander, countries which until then had remained in the penumbra of legend appeared as a reality.” Literature, finally, owes much to the Crusades, which, by the literary relations they established between the Latin and Greek worlds, called forth the magnificent movement of the Renaissance.
(a) Internal Organization of Byzantine Churches. We have already spoken of the Bulgarian Patriarchate of Ochrida, which about 1020 was changed into an autonomous Grieco-Bulgarian archbishopric more or less Hellenized, and which, until its suppression in 1767, remained under the influence of Constatinople. Another Bulgarian patriarchate, that of Tirnov, was established in 1204 by legates from Innocent III and remained Catholic for a long time. Gradually, however, it began to lean towards the Greeks, till it finally disappeared in 1393, and its bishops all passed under the authority of the cecumenical patriarch. Something similar happened to the Servians. Up to about 1204 they were on the most cordial relations with Rome, although it is probable that they recognized the jurisdiction of Constantinople. In 1217 Sabas the Younger crowned his brother king in the pope’s name, and established a Servian Church which was at first composed of six dioceses. It was recognized by the Byzantines in 1219. In 1346 King Stephen Douchan threw off all ecclesiastical dependence on Constantinople and set up the Servian Patriarchate of Ipek, which, after many changes of fortune, was suppressed in 1766 and incorporated in the Byzantine Church. The Russian Church continued to depend on Constantinople through its metropolitans at Kiev and at Moscow until January 23, 1589, when the Byzantine patriarch, Jeremias II, publicly recognized its autonomy, and consecrated Job the first patriarch of Moscow. From that date the Russian Church passes out of the purview of this article. It was not till the fourteenth century that the Church of Constantinople succeeded in imposing upon the Rumanian people, who occupied the north bank of the Danube, a Greek ecclesiastical hierarchy subject to itself. This was done through the metropolitan sees of Alania and Bitzinia, or Soteropolis, with the later sees of Hungaro-Wallachia, Mauro-Wallachia (Moldavia), and Wallachia.
During that troubled period which saw the establishment of the Franks in the East, the Greek patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem suffered especially. As long as the Latins remained undisputed masters of these regions, their Latin patriarchs stubbornly opposed the coexistence of Greek patriarchs, so that the latter had no choice left but to take refuge in Constantinople at the Byzantine Court and to govern their Churches from there as best they could. This method soon became customary, and even after 1453 the patriarchs continued to reside at the Phanar. The Patriarch of Antioch alone returned soon afterwards to his own territory. In the seventeenth century the Patriarch of Jerusalem ventured into Palestine, but it was not till the nineteenth century that the Patriarch of Alexandria left the shores of the Bosphorus. It must also be remembered that Cyprus and Crete (the latter being directly under Constantinople) were unable to have Greek bishops during the long centuries that those islands remained in the hands of the Latins. It would be impossible within the limits at our disposal to give an exact description of the hierarchy of the patriarchate of Constantinople from the tenth to the fifteenth century. A “Notitia Episcopatuum” drawn up soon after 1453 reckons 72 metropolitan sees, 8 autocephalous archbishoprics, and 78 suffragan sees divided among 21 ecclesiastical provinces or a grand total of 158 dioceses. This relatively small number of dioceses is explained by the fact that Asia Minor was then but an immense ruin, and that in Europe, in the majority of the Venetian or Frankish possessions, the presence of Greek bishops was not tolerated.
Space forbids us saying more than a few words on the domestic history of the Greek Church. The election of the patriarch belonged by right to the Holy Synod; de facto, as we have seen, it was the Basileus or emperor, who elected him. Limited as was the authority of the Holy Synod, it could not always exercise what authority it had, and, on the death of a patriarch, the Basileus often appointed his successor without any previous consultation with the Synod. Nicephorus Phocas attempted to nullify any ecclesiastical nomination not approved by him, an abuse of power which lasted during his lifetime only. The metropolitans were elected by the Holy Synod, the bishops by the metropolitan and his suffragans, if they were sufficiently numerous, or, if not, with the assistance of bishops from another province. The clergy had undergone no change since the earlier period, except that after the twelfth century we hear of no more deaconesses, though some religious women bear that title without any right to it. Moreover, with the exception of Thebes and Bceotia, religious women no longer wore a lay habit or dress. “Commendation” and “charisticariats” were as common as in the West, with their train of simony and vices still more hideous. The mensa episcopalis often found its way to the officials of the treasury or some other court functionary, and servility towards the State was the order of the day in all the ranks of the clergy. The patriarchs were obedient tools of the emperors. Yet there were not wanting patriarchs formed in the monastic schools who had the courage to defend their rights and the rights of the Church against the encroachment of the civil power.
Monasticism was more and more popular throughout the Greek world. In Constantinople there were hundreds of monasteries, and every provincial town tried to rival the capital, so that the Byzantine empire became one vast Thebaid. Outside of Byzantium the monasteries formed into groups which surpassed the fame of the ancient solitudes of Egypt and of Palestine. Without speaking of Southern Italy, rich in Greek convents, we must not omit to mention the famous monasteries of Mount Ossa, of the Meteora, of Phocis, and of the Peloponnesus. On Mount Olympus in Bithynia (the neighborhood of Broussa, Nicaea, and Ghemlek) many religious centers sprang up. On a little corner of land, with a maximum length of 63 miles and a width of from 12 to 20 miles, a veritable oasis of monasticism came into existence, comprising at that time more than a hundred convents. These convents, usually very well filled, sheltered a number of saints and ecclesiastical celebrities. Beginning from the tenth century, the peninsula of Athos saw the rise of monasteries properly so called, and saw the cenobitic usage (community life) supplant the haphazard methods of earlier days. Then it was that vocations abounded, and the holy mountain was transformed into an earthly paradise of monks. The convents known to have existed at Mount Athos between the tenth century and the thirteenth numbered more than a hundred. It was at this period, too, that the holy mountain played a preponderating part in the religious history of Constantinople, and in the fourteenth century the Hesychastic controversy, stirred up by its religious, became the dominating preoccupation of the time. There were many other active, though not so well-known, monastic centers e.g. Mount Latrus near Miletus, Mount Ganus, and Mount Galesius, Mount St. Auxentius near Chalcedon, the islands of the Archipelago and of the Gulf of Nicomedia, the region of Trebizond, and especially the vicinity of Caesarea in Cappadocia, with its picturesque laurce clinging to the slopes of the hills.
The constant controversies with the Latins did not prevent the rise of other controversies that sometimes divided the Byzantine Empire into opposing camps just as in the heart of the Arian and Monophysite conflicts. We shall mention but a few. In 1082 a council condemned the philosopher Italos, a subtile logician whose errors had been refuted by the Emperor Alexius I, Comnenus. Four years later, Leo, metropolitan of Chalcedon, was accused of giving to images the cultus of latria, due only to the Deity. In reality he had merely defended the property of his Church and prevented the emperor from carrying off the ornaments of beaten gold and silver from the statues and images. After Leo came Nilos, a monk who had expressed some heterodox views concerning the mystery of the Trinity heterodox views concerning the mystery of the Trinity and the Divinity of Christ. In a council of August 20, 1143, the Bogomiles were condemned, together with many bishops who favored them. In 1156 and 1157 two councils anathematized Sotericus Pantengenius, Patriarch-elect of Antioch, who maintained that the Sacrifice of the Mass was not offered up to the Word, but only to the Father and to the Holy Spirit. Two other councils, held in 1166 and in 1170, explained the text, “The Father is greater than I”, apropos of which many bishops were again falling into the errors of Arius. The monk Irenicus, suspected of various dogmatic errors. was condemned in 1170. The thirteenth century is filled with the quarrel of the Arsenites or partisans of the Patriarch Arsenius, who had been deposed for condemning the assassination of young Lascaris by Michael VIII, Palaeologus. Originally a personal affair, it grew eventually into a theological and canonical controversy.
(b) Hesychasm.—With the fourteenth century we come upon Hesychasm (esuchia, “quiet”), the greatest theological conflict of the Greek Church since the old times of Iconoclasm. Gregory Sinaita first spread this doctrine, which he had learned from Arsenius of Crete. Intrinsically, it offers nothing very remarkable. It is based upon the well-known distinction between the practical religious life, which purifies the soul by cleansing it from its passions, and the contemplative life, which unites the soul to God by contemplation, and is thus the ideal and end of religious perfection. Four or five successive stages lead the disciple from the practical to the contemplative mode of life. But while there was nothing startling in the theological principles of the new teaching, the method pointed out for arriving at perfect contemplation recalled the practices of Hindu fakirs, and was no more than a crude form of auto suggestion. The alleged Divine splendor which appeared to the hypnotized subject, and was identified with that which surrounded the Apostles on Thabor, was really nothing but a common place illusion. Yet this Thaboric brightness, and the omphalopsychic method of inducing it, gave a widespread reputation to the Hesychasts. No doubt the leaders of the party held aloof from these vulgar prattices of the more ignorant monks, but, on the other hand they scattered broadcast perilous theological theories. Palamas taught that by asceticism one could attain a corporal, i.e. a sense view, or perception, of the Divinity. He also held that in God there was a real distinction between the Divine Essence and Its attributes, and he identified grace as one of the Divine propria making it something untreated and infinite. These monstrous errors were denounced by the Calabrian Barlaam, by Nicephorus Gregoras, and by Acthyndinus. The conflict began in 1338 and ended only in 1368, with the solemn canonization of Palamas and the official recognition of his heresies. He was declared the “holy doctor” and “one of the greatest among the Fathers of the Church“, and his writings were proclaimed “the infallible guide of the Christian Faith“. Thirty years of incessant controversy and discordant councils ended with a resurrection of polytheism.
Among the medieval Greek theologians the most famous are the ninth-century Photius, well-known for his anti-Latinism; Michael Psellos, in the eleventh century, an all-round capable writer, theologian, exegete, philologist, historian, scientist, poet, and, above all, philosopher; Euthymius Zigabenos, who composed, at the request of Alexius Comnenus, his “Dogmatic Panoply, or Armoury, Against all Errors”; Nicholas of Methona, Andronicus Cameterus, anti Latin polemical writers, particularly Nicetas Acominatus (Akominatos), noted for his “Treasure of Orthodoxy“. John Veccos (Beccos) and George Acropolites tried to reconcile the teachings of both Latins and Greeks while other Greeks opposed the Latins with all their might. Among the opponents of Palamas were Barlaam, Gregoras, Ak ndinos, John the Cypriot, and Manuel Calecas. The theological conflict went on both before and after the Council of Florence (1439); Mark of Ephesus and George Scholarios repudiated the Roman theology, which on the other hand, was adopted and upheld by Bessarion, Isidore of Kiev, Joseph of Methone, and Gregory Mammas.
(5) From 1453 to the Present Time
Relations with the Catholic Church, the Protestants, etc. The capture of Constantinople by the Turks marks the apogee of the cecumenical patriarchate and the Greek Churches subject to it. By establishing Gennadius Scholarius as the only patriarch of the Orthodox Churches within the Ottoman Empire, Mohammed II placed all the other peoples Servians, Bulgarians, Rumanians, Albanians, and Anatolians—under the exclusive domination of Greek bishops. No doubt the Servian and Bulgarian Churches of Ipek and Ochrida still existed, but, pending their final suppression in 1766 and 1767 respectively, they were hellenized and under Greek control, so that they were in reality but an extension of the Greek Patriarchate of Constantinople. Moreover, the conquest of Egypt and Syria by Sultan Selim in the sixteenth century enabled the Greeks to control the honors and emoluments of the Patriarchates of Jerusalem and Antioch. In the seventeenth century the Patriarchate of Jerusalem was hellenized, and that of Antioch in the opening years of the eighteenth century. As for Alexandria, where the faithful were very few, its Greek titular always resided at Constantinople. In this way the Greek Church gained gradual possession of the immense Ottoman Empire; as the Turks extended their conquests the jurisdiction of the Greek patriarchs extended with them. This situation lasted until the first half of the nineteenth century. The whole Orthodox world was at that time Greek, save in Russia, whose religious autonomy had been recognized in 1589, and in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, where Servians and Rumanians constituted, from the end of the seventeenth century, autonomous Churches, either Catholic or Orthodox. During the greater part of the nineteenth century the principle of nationality long cherished at Constantinople, which had employed it against the popes when robbing them of jurisdiction over Illyricum and at one time over Southern Italy was turned against the Greeks themselves, especially against the Church of Constantinople. Every province or kingdom that shook off the Turkish suzerainty freed itself at the same time from the ecclesiastical yoke of the Phanar. Curiously enough, it was the Greeks of the Hellenic Kingdom who first set up, in the nineteenth century, an autonomous Church. The Servians and Rumanians were not slow to imitate them. The Bulgarians went farther and, while remaining Ottoman subjects de jure until October, 1908, they established about forty years ago an exarchate of their own, independent of the Phanar, with jurisdiction not only over all Bulgarians in Bulgaria, but also over Bulgarians in Turkey. It is to be expected that the recent proclamation of a Bulgarian kingdom will modify this state of things. A Bulgarian Church may be established within the limits of that kingdom, and a second Bulgarian Church within the limits of Turkey in Europe. The creation of a Servian Church for the Servians in Turkey is also projected, so that the cecumenical patriarchate seems on the eve of dismemberment. In recent times, also, the rivalry of nationalities has passed over from Europe into Asia. In 1899 the Greeks were ejected by the Syrians from the Patriarchate of Antioch; in the same way they may soon lose Jerusalem. In Egypt similar divisions exist between the Greek and Arabic-speaking elements; the latter, aided by their Mussulman fellow-countrymen, may eventually cast off the ecclesiastical control of the Greeks. In short, at no very distant date the Greeks, who have so long ruled the Orthodox world. will have to he content with the Church of Athens, that of Cyprus, and the sadly weakened Church of Constantinople.
If we look at the domestic situation of the Greek Church during the period from 1453 to 1901, the year of the present titular’s accession, we find that, of a total of one hundred and two patriarchs, only twenty-nine have died in possession of their see, and that the seventy-three others either resigned or were deposed. It is a strange phenomenon, seldom met except among the Greeks, that, whereas a patriarch was nominated for life, as a rule he was deposed or forced to resign. It sometimes happened that the same man became patriarch more than once. In this way, while between 1453 and 1901 there were only one hundred and two patriarchs, there were some one hundred and sixty patriarchal elections; thirty-five patriarchs having been elected several times (twenty-one twice, nine three times, two four times, two five times, and one seven times). The last of these records is that of Cyril Lucaris, the famous seventeenth-century Calvinistic patriarch. These continual changes gave rise to some amusing incidents. Thus on October 19, 1848, Anthimus IV succeeded Anthimus VI, who was deprived of office the day before; at present Joachim III is ecumenical patriarch for the second time, twenty-three years after the death of Joachim IV, who had succeeded him. This confusion is by no means peculiar to the Church of Constantinople. In the hellenized Church of Ochrida, we find between the years 1650 and 1700 no fewer than nineteen forced resignations or depositions of archbishops. The two main causes of these sudden changes are the cupidity of the Turks and the ambition of the Greek clergy covetous of the patriarchal throne. The cupidity of the Turks might never have been a factor, had it not been for the intrigues and cabals of the Greek clergy themselves, who put up their patriarchate at auction. On November 20, 1726, Paisios paid out 145,000 francs for the office of patriarch, and in 1759 the Sultan Mustapha III fixed the tax on the office at 120,000 francs. And yet in many instances the patriarchs did not remain even a year in office. Later, when the Turks had taken off the tax, depositions and resignations went on, and go on to this day as in the past, so much so that the laity now come forward and ask that the duration of a patriarch’s term in office be limited, e.g. to three or four years. However, in the Kingdom of Greece, where the Church depends mainly on the State, these scandals do not occur. What has been said of the patriarchs might be even more truly said of the metropolitans and bishops. Though, according to Greek canon law, transfers from one diocese to another are forbidden or ought to be very rare, as a matter of fact every bishop has administered before his death four or five different dioceses. Either the bishops did not find their dioceses suited to their dignity or the people did not find the bishop suited to their taste. Of late the custom of lay interference in the nomination of bishops is growing, and hardly a year goes by in which seven or eight bishops are not removed at the request of their flocks. Nor must it be forgotten that the bishops busy themselves mainly with anti-Bulgarian or anti-Servian politics and other secular affairs. The Turkish government often has to request the withdrawal of some over-compromised prelate.
It may be noted that the Greek bishops those of today at least—have received a fairly good education in the secondary schools, followed by a very ordinary course of theology in the seminary of Halki or that of Santa Croce, near Jerusalem. Some of them have spent a few years in the Protestant universities of Germany, or in the ecclesiastical academies of Russia. Their theology is usually limited to a knowledge of the points of controversy between Latins and Greeks from the beginning of their Church until recent times; they use it to bias the minds of their people against the missionary efforts of Catholics. They are more tolerant of Protestants. With the exception of the clergy in the towns, who aim at the higher offices, the Greek priesthood is very ignorant; the priests can hardly get through the Mass and the other services in a fitting manner. Although married, they retain great influence over the illiterate but pious members of their flocks, who are attached to Christianity by tradition or patriotism, and whose ill-instructed religious sense shows itself mainly in ritual observances and superstitious practices. With the exception of two or three seminaries, having about fifty pupils in all, there is no training school for the lower clergy.
The dioceses are divided, as with us, into parishes of various classes. Preaching is neglected and in many places is omitted altogether. For this reason, in 1893 some laymen at Smyrna founded the Eusebia Society for the diffusion and explanation of the Word of God. This example has been followed in other places, especially at Serrae, Magnesia, and Constantinople, where laymen preach in the churches as is the custom in some Protestant sects. The higher clergy, far from favoring this movement, which is a reproach for them, do all they can to hinder it. Feast days are the same as in the Latin Church; so are the sacraments. The latter are rarely received, and rather as a matter of custom than of genuine conviction. Communion is received four times a year after the four great fasts: at Easter, on St. Peter’s day, on the Assumption, and at Christmas. Confession ought to precede this solemn act, but as a rule it is omitted or treated so slightingly by priests and people that it is better not to speak of it. The priests and bishops do not go to confession. Mass is heard on Sundays and Feastdays, or, rather, on those days the people go and say some prayers before the icons, or holy images, the services being generally so long that very few remain to the end. In any case there is no definite teaching on this point any more than on others, everything remaining vague and uncertain in the minds of the people.
The music of the Greek Church began with the ecphonetic chant, a sort of recitative based on the laws of accent in prosody. Through the early melodists, or Syriac liturgical poets, this musical notation may reach back to the ancient liturgical chant of the Jews. The musical characters or signs are Greek. The notation, known as that of St. John Damascene, is merely a development of eephonetic notation. It increased the number of signs from nineteen to twenty-four. In medieval times a monk of Athos, John Koukouzeles, raised it to sixty or more; but in the early part of the nineteenth century Chrysanthos modified or simplified this excessively complicated notation; his “Theoretikon”, a very instructive work, has become the basis or guide for all liturgical chants and scientific works thereon. Gregory Lampadarios and Chourmouzios aided Chrysanthos in his reform, which can hardly be called successful. It seems that all three misinterpreted certain old musical signs; morever, they are responsible for the horrible nasal intonation so abhorrent to Europeans. However, musical reform is in the air; during the past thirty years it has been talked of, and plans have often been submitted, but so far without results. The religious music of the Russians is the only one that expresses any true piety. Its gravity, unction, and sweetness are beyond question. If a religious music truly Christian ever existed, the Russians have inherited it. Between Russian and Byzantine music there is no connection whatever. (See also under The Rite of Constantinople.)
Even after the taking of Constantinople by the Turks and the apostasy of the Greeks, the one aim of the popes was to drive back the Turks into Asia and to save the Byzantines in spite of themselves. Nicholas V, Callistus III, Pius II, Paul II, Sixtus IV, Innocent VIII, and Alexander VI all followed this policy. Julius II sought to convert the Shah of Persia, and to draw him into an alliance against the Sultan; the struggle against the Turks was the great concern of the whole pontifical life of Leo X. If the plan to drive back the Turks into Asia finally failed, the fault lay not with the popes, but with the nations of Christendom, jealous of each other and attentive to their own private gain rather than the interests of Christianity. It must not be forgotten that the victory of Lepanto (1571) was the work of a pope; that a pope worked for the preservation of Candia (1669), and that, had it not been for another pope, John Sobieski would never have relieved Vienna (1683).
From 1453 until the French Revolution the relations between the popes and the Greek patriarchs were very different from what we find today. Cordial letters passed frequently between them; priests of either rite were recommended to one another’s care, and the popes often intervened in the internal affairs of the Greek Church. Many Greek Patriarchs of Constantinople—among others, Cyril II—and the Greek Archbishops of Ochrida, Porphyrius about 1600, Athanasius in 1606, Abraham in 1629, Melecius in 1640, Athanasius about 1660, professed the Catholic Faith; at different times many Greek bishops did in like manner. It would be impossible to say how far their conversion was sincere. Possibly the need of monetary help or the wish to make a stand against Protestantism was the motive power. It must at least be acknowledged that their conduct and attitude towards Catholics gave evidence of genuine good will. Thus, to take some well known examples, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the Jesuits and Capuchins were allowed to preach and hear confessions in the Greek Churches, b the express permission of the patriarch and the bishops. That they made use of this privilege we learn from their correspondence. It is hard to explain the exact reason for the changed attitude of Catholic missionaries since the end of the eighteenth century. Perhaps the change came with the suppression of the Jesuits and the outburst of the French Revolution, which led to the substitution of a new body of missionaries in the East. Today, as a matter of fact, missionaries of all religious orders and every nationality observe rigidly the rules of Propaganda concerning communicatio in sacris. They practically ignore the higher Greek clergy not the best way, perhaps, to break down prejudice and win esteem. It is no doubt true that as a rule the higher Greek clergy are noted for their anti-Catholic fanaticism and are never weary of railing against Roman missionaries and of insulting Catholics. Then, too, the Greek people do not distinguish between religion and nationality, a confusion mainly due to the teaching of their clergy; consequently, a Greek will refuse to become a Catholic lest he should cease to be a Greek. Yet great progress has been made during the past twenty or thirty years, thanks to the schools of the French congregations which have been opened in nearly every town in Turkey. In spite of the anathemas of the Greek clergy, boys and girls flock to these Catholic schools, and the consequence is a growing spirit of toleration and sympathy towards Catholics everywhere.
Pius IX and Leo XIII tried to reopen official relations with the Greeks, but unsuccessfully. The reply of the Patriarch Anthimus VI to the Encyclical of Pius IX (1848) was far from friendly; the invitation to assist at the Vatican Council the Patriarch Gregory VI refused even to accept. During his long pontificate Leo XIII was unceasing in his efforts to bring back the Greeks to unity, but they remained unmoved, and when, on June 20, 1894, in the Encyclical “Praeciara”, he invited the Greek Church in all charity to recognize the successor of Peter, the answering encyclical from the Patriarch Anthimus VII was remarkable for its rudeness. The present patriarch, Joachim III, opened a purely theoretical consultation with his subjects on the matter a few years ago, but his attempt was not well received.
The first Protestants with whom the Greek Church sought to unite were the Lutherans. About 1560 the Greek deacon Demetrius Mysos visited Wittenberg to learn at first hand the doctrines of Luther, but his visit had no result. In 1573 two professors of Tubingen, Andreae and Crusius, assisted by the chaplain, Gerlach, opened a correspondence with the Greek patriarch Jeremias II, which lasted until December, 1581. The patriarch and his theologians set forth over and over again very courteously and very fully the many dogmatic differences between their Church and that of the Reformers. At last Jeremias II refused to answer further letters, and wrote to Pope Gregory XIII in June, 1582, that he “detested those men and their like as enemies of Christ and of the Catholic and Apostolic Church.” Later on Calvinist doctrines found favor with the patriarch himself, Cyril Lucaris, who occupied the cecumenical throne seven times between 1612 and 1638. The French and Austrian Embassies sided with the Orthodox Greeks; Geneva and Holland favored the Calvinisers. The conflict lasted through the greater part of the seventeenth century. The main quarrel was over Lucaris’s confession of faith, drawn up in Latin, which appeared at Geneva in March, 1629, and in the West stirred up both Catholics and Protestants. Many councils of the Greek Church, especially those of Constantinople in 1638 and 1642, of Jassy in 1642, and of Jerusalem in 1672, extirpated the Calvinist heresy from the Orthodox Churches. Through Peter Mohila, Metropolitan of Kiev, the Russian Church took an active part in the controversy. The personalities that disfigured these disputes embittered the whole of the seventeenth century, and made it the most repulsive in the existence of the Church of Constantinople. Four patriarchs at least were strangled, while in the space of one hundred years there were twenty-nine patriarchs and fifty-four patriarchal elections, i.e. an average of one election every twenty-two months.
After the Lutherans and Calvinists came the Anglicans, or that section of them known as the Non jurors. Negotiations set on foot with the Greek and Russian Churches lasted from 1716 to 1725, but nothing ever came of them. Then came Zinzendorf, founder of the Moravian Brethren (1740). Finally, in the nineteenth century we find the Protestant Episcopalian Church of England and of the United States coquetting with the Greeks. In several Anglican synods—e.g., 1866, 1867, 1868 a desire for union with the Greeks was expressed, and the Patriarch Gregory VI showed sympathy, but did not hide the difficulties in the way of its immediate realization. At the Synod of Bonn (1874) the Anglicans resolved to remove the “Filioque” from the Creed, to insert the formula “the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son”, to recognize tradition as a source of revelation, to maintain that the Eucharist was a sacrifice, to admit prayers for the dead, and other points. But the Greeks would not make any concessions. In 1897 the 36th decision of the synod assembled at Lambeth Palace (London) charged the chief representatives of Anglicanism to seek an understanding with Constantinople. The Bishop of Salisbury, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Bishop of Gibraltar (who pays an annual visit to the cecumenical patriarch) were to be the principal negotiators. But the much-desired union is not yet a fact, the great drawback being the difficulty which both Churches find in defining exactly what they hold to be of faith, and what is only theological truth. In 1902 the Patriarch Joachim III consulted the Orthodox Churches as to the usefulness of an understanding with the Protestant Churches; nearly all those who thought it worth while to reply were opposed to the suggestion. Nevertheless there are several union societies in existence—e.g., the Anglo-Continental Society, founded in 1862, the Eastern Church Association, and others similar—but so far they have effected nothing. On the other hand, Evangelical societies of various countries have been very active in the East, and have often called forth protests from the higher Greek clergy. While their success among the Greeks has not yet equalled their success among the Armenians, their unceasing propaganda in Asia Minor has ended by creating Greek centers of Protestantism, something hitherto unheard of.
The Old-Catholics from the beginning aimed at union with the Orthodox Church. Theological conferences were held at Bonn in 1874 and 1875 with that object in view, and both parties made concessions, but nothing came of these efforts. Although frequent conferences have since been held, an Old-Catholic Committee instituted at Rotterdam, and the “Revue Internationale de Theologie,” established at Berne (1893), the negotiations for union have not made the slightest advance.
With all the Orthodox churches, except the Bulgarian exarchate and the Syrian Patriarchate of Antioch both of them considered schismatic for substituting a native episcopate to a Greek one the Greek Churches are on terms of union arising from a common faith and a common orthodoxy. By the canons of the cecumenical councils of 381 and 451 the Church of Constantinople enjoys a sort of preeminence over the other Churches. But this must not be understood to mean a pontifical primacy so that the head of the Orthodox Church may command with authority the faithful of all other Churches. The Byzantine patriarch has a primacy of honor but not of jurisdiction; he is foremost among his equals primus inter pares and no more. This oft-repeated declaration was renewed at the Council of Jerusalem in 1867, which proclaimed that the Orthodox Churches recognized only an cecumenical council as their supreme master and sovereign judge. When Joachim III, in 1902, wished to consult the other Churches on matters concerning the whole Orthodox party e.g., union with the Catholics or Protestants or Old-Catholics, the re form of the calendar, and other matters out of thirteen Churches five were not consulted, being in schism or manifestly unfavorable; two did not reply; six replied in the negative. Again in Cyprus, since 1900, the attempts of the cecumenical patriarch to put an end to the schism of that Church are resented; at the present time (1909) his authority is being overthrown at Jerusalem, just as at Alexandria. There is therefore no unity of authority among the Orthodox Churches. Nor is there any unity of faith or discipline. The Bulgarians and the Syrians of Antioch, who are looked on as schismatics by the various Greek Churches, are not such in the eyes of the other Orthodox Churches. The Russians uphold the validity of baptism administered by Catholics or Protestants; the Greeks say such baptism is invalid. The Russians do not admit the deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament, but the Greeks, until quite recently, accepted them. It would be easy to multiply examples. Formerly the Church of Constantinople claimed the right to send the chrism to all Orthodox Churches as a sign of Orthodox unity and of their dependence on Constantinople. But since the seventeenth century, at least, the Russian Church blesses its own chrism, and sends it in our day to the Churches of Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Antioch. The three Orthodox Churches within the Austro-Hungarian Empire bless their own chrism, as does also the Rumanian Church since 1882. So that the only Churches now receiving the chrism from Constantinople are those of Alexandria, Jerusalem, Cyprus, Greece, and Servia. The moral authority of the cecumenical patriarch over the other Churches is null; consequently it stands to reason he has no dogmatic privileges. The decrees of the first seven cecumenical councils alone have force of law. As a rule, a number of creeds are also considered as instructive concerning faith, e.g., the confession of the Patriarch Gennadius, that of Peter Mohila, the decrees of the Council of Jerusalem in 1672, the confession of Metrophanes Critopoulos. At present these confessions are not held to be infallible, but merely guides in matters of faith.
Greek religious literature since 1453 is mainly polemical, against Catholics and Protestants. Literary interests, once so popular at Byzantium, have long been quite secondary. Greek theologians reedit continually the most fiery controversial treatises, accentuate the causes of separation between the two Churches, and on occasion invent others. Such, in the fifteenth century, are the writings of Maximus of Peloponnesus and George Scholarius; in the sixteenth century, of Maximus Margunius, Bishop of Cythera, and of Gabriel Severus, Archbishop of Philadelphia; in the seventeenth century of the Calvinist; Cyril Lucaris, of George Coresios, Theophilos Corydaleos, half pagan and half Protestant, Meletius Syrigos, Doritheus of Jerusalem, Nicholas Kerameus of Janina, and Paisios Ligarides; in the eighteenth century the writings of the brothers Joannikios and Sophronius Lichoudes, who labored especially in Russia, Chrysanthus of Jerusalem, Elias Miniates, Eustratios Argentis, etc. Apart from this truculent school, always fairly numerous among the Greeks, there are but few historians and chroniclers, e.g., Manuel Malaxos, who wrote a history of the Patriarchate of Constantionple form 1458 to 1578; Dorotheus of Monembasia who drew up a chronological table from the creation to 1629, and Meletiisof Janina or of Athens (d. 1714), their only historian of note. The monks were the most conscientious workers and tireless editors: Nicodemos the Hagiographer, of amazing productivity; Agapios Landos, his rival; Eugenios Bulgaris, the most learned Greek of the eighteenth century; Economos, Meletius Typaldos, Gregory of Chios, and many others.
There are few living theological writers of note in the Greek church. Philotheos Bryennios, Metropolitan of Nicomedia, who rediscovered and edited the “Teaching of the Twelve Apostles“, is the only one deserving of mention. It is no less strange than true, that within nearly a century only one manual of dogmatic theology has appeared in Greek, a volume of about 450 pages published at Athens in 1907 by a layman, M. Androutsos an index of the esteem that theology enjoys in the Greek Churches. They have, however, translations of Russian, German, or English works, and in this way Protestant ideas are creeping in. The same might be said of other branches of ecclesiastical knowledge. The only good manual of canon law is by a Servian bishop, Msgr. Milasch; the manuals of church history by an Athenian layman, Diomedes Kyriakos, and by Msgr. Philaretes, Metropolitan of Dimotika, are merely translations or adaptations of Protestant works. Among the laity there are some learned men, e.g., Spiridion Lambros, C. Sathas, A. Papadopoulos-Kerameus, and M. Gedeon. The clergy take no interest in theology, nor, as a rule, in anything intellectual. Politics and dull personal intrigues are their only concern. In this respect the coming generation will perhaps differ from their predecessors. Two reviews have been started: the “Nea Sion” (New Sion) at Jerusalem, and the “Church Beacon” at Alexandria, but both are carried on in a spirit of controversy, and the impartiality and scientific honesty of many of the editors are not above question. The Phanar review, “Ecclesiastical Truth“, is only a church weekly.
I have not touched on the religious spirit of the Greek clergy, for as a rule it is sadly deficient; nor on its missions, for there are none; nor its present monastic life, confined to Athos and no more than a recitation of endless prayers interspersed with local intrigues. Other religious houses exist only in name; they are now, for the most part, farms managed by a so-called monk and supplying funds to Athos or elsewhere. Owing to the energy of the lay element, who take an active interest in education, there are many well-conducted primary schools. We have only praise for the efforts of both sexes to create and support works of charity and of benevolence. On this score the
Greeks are inferior to no people.