Source: Orthodox History
October 26, 2021
Thirty years ago, October 22, 1991, the 51-year-old Metropolitan Bartholomew of Chalcedon was elected Ecumenical Patriarch, inaugurating a new era in not only the Patriarchate of Constantinople but the Orthodox Church globally. One of the first major acts of the new Patriarch was to convene a Synaxis of the primates of the world’s autocephalous churches, creating a vibrant new venue for inter-Orthodox cooperation and communication. Four years into his Patriarchate, on December 14, 1995, Patriarch Bartholomew delivered a remarkable address in Zurich, Switzerland, before a largely Roman Catholic audience. In this speech, he set forth his vision of Orthodox ecclesiology — a vision founded upon two millennia of Orthodox tradition. Patriarch Bartholomew presented this vision with boldness, unafraid to speak the truth to a Roman Catholic audience. The full text of this important address is below, both in English translation and, at the end, in the original French. I’ve decided to publish it today in honor of Patriarch Bartholomew’s unprecedented thirty years as Ecumenical Patriarch, and in commemoration of his current visit to the United States.—Orthodox History
... The idea that the Lord, when He chose the twelve apostles, entrusted one of them with the task of governing the rest of them has no basis in holy Scripture. The Lord’s command to Peter to be the shepherd of His sheep meant a repetition to him of that command that He had given all the apostles and that the latter had transgressed by having renounced Him three times, thus having cut off his contact with the Lord.
Thus this did not mean entrusting him with a pastoral task superior to that of the other disciples. The Lord “gave the name of apostles” (Luke 3:13) to all His disciples equally and without any discrimination; He gave them authority over unclean spirits (Matthew 10:1); and it was to all that He said, “go make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15). It follows that each of us bishops is personally held responsible for facilitating or hindering the path of the barque of the Church, for keeping to that path well or poorly.
In our Eastern Orthodox tradition — which unalterably keeps the conciliar system — this is our common conviction and everyday practice, because ecclesiastical decisions of major significance are taken synodally. That is, several bishops take part and none has a right of veto or a preponderant vote. It nevertheless occurs that one of them, by his personality, inspires the confidence of the others. It is only then that his opinion prevails, not because he has a preponderant voice.
This system of administration of the Church’s affairs, based on the joint responsibility and decentralization that our Orthodox Church applies, fundamentally explains the fact that, as much as is humanly possible, she preserves the ancient tradition intact.
... Read the rest at Orthodox History.