Monday, December 29, 2008

What's wrong with this picture?

Another story in Mark Hare's ongoing series about faith in the Rochester area is on the front page of today's D&C.  This one focuses on the various Orthodox churches in Monroe County.

Accompanying his story is a second article by Hare attempting to show the relationship between Catholicism and the various Orthodox churches:

Orthodoxy's roots trace to early Christianity

As Christianity spread across the Roman Empire in the first three centuries after the death of Christ, leadership was invested in the bishops of five major cities: Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Rome and finally, Constantinople (today Istanbul).

Known as patriarchs (or in Rome, the pope), these bishops worked together to govern the church. The teaching, doctrines and traditions of the church were developed and defended with no single patriarch exercising primal authority.

Following the legal recognition of Christianity by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine in 312, the church began to clarify and express its beliefs at Ecumenical Councils. In the fifth century, disagreement over these issues led the Assyrian Church of the East and the Oriental Orthodox Churches to leave the original union of the church. They are still separated from the Orthodox Church.

In the aftermath of the fall of the Roman Empire in the West in 476, the patriarch (pope) of Rome began, of necessity, to exercise more civil authority. But in doing so, he also began to assert his position as the primal leader of the Christian Church. Such a claim was unacceptable to the other patriarchs.

The final break, known as the Great Schism, came in 1054, when each side excommunicated the other ...

As sources for the above Hare cites, "Joseph Kelly, professor emeritus of religious studies at Nazareth College and liaison from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester to the Orthodox community; and Rev. Ken James Stavrevsky, rector of St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church in Rochester."

This is a somewhat interesting retelling of Church history which, I believe, would come as something of a surprise to such folks as Irenaeus, Ignatius of Antioch and Augustine of Hippo, to name but a few of the early Church leaders - both from the  East and the West - who looked to the Bishop of Rome for leadership in faith and morals.

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