My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True Lord, God, and Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
History of the Orthodox Church (Part II)
By Dr. Aristeidis Papasakis
Papacy and Orthodoxy
Along with these conditions, mention should finally be made of Rome’s PROSELYTIZING PRESSURE. Evidence for the phenomenon is appallingly plentiful. Missionaries were prepared iIN SPECIAL SCHOOLS such as the College of Saint Athanasius in Rome (opened in 1577) and then sent to the East in order IN ORDER TO ENGAGE IN DIRECT PROSELYTIZING OF THE ORTHODOX. This network of open Roman propaganda also embraced the Orthodox Slavic world. The pressure of the Catholic Polish Monarchy and JESUITS IN POLAND AND LITHUANIA ON ORTHODOX DIOCESES CANONICALLY DEPENDENT ON CONSTANTINOPLE IS WELL ENOUGH KNOWN. For example, the UNIAT Ukrainian church was, in part, ther result of such pressure through the Union of Brest-Litovsk in 1596. There was, of course, little that the Orthodox Church could do to counter this aggressive ROMANIZATION, given the historical situation.
Such, then, were the severe and humiliating restrictions under which the Church was forced to live until the early 19th century. The part played by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as spiritual head and “Mother Church,” in this and the preceding chapter of its history was decisive. This was due, as we have seen, to the preeminent position of the city of Constantinople in the Byzantine period, when its bishop acquired a rank second only to Rome in the pentarchy. But it was also a result of the schism with Rome. The schism left Constantinople with undisputed primacy over the other Eastern Patriarchates. This is how Constantinople became the primary see of Orthodoxy. Finally, under the Ottoman ethnarchic system its geographic frontiers were enlarged, with the result that most of the Orthodox community came under its jurisdiction. How the patriarch of Constantinople became the senior bishop in Orthodoxy is understandably one of the great themes of Orthodox Church history. Nineteenth century militant nationalism, however, was to introduce vast changes. Although the patriarchate’s primatial status has neve been in question – it is, and remains, the first see of Orthodoxy – its geographical frontiers were considerably reduced as a result of the struggle for freedom undertaken by the various Orthodox nationalities under Ottoman rule. The new independent nation states could not remain ecclesiastically under the jurisdiction of a patriarch who was still within the orbit of foreign and hostile government of Turkey.
The result of this militant atheism has been to transform the Church into A PERSECUTED AND MARTYRED CHURCH. Thousands of bishops, monks, clergy, and faithful have died martyrs’ death for Christ over the last fifty years, both in Russia and in the other communist nations. Their numbers may well exceed the Christians who perished under the Roman Empire. Equally frightening for the Church has been COMMUNISM’S INDIRECT, BUT SYSTEMATIC, STRANGULATION POLICY. In the Soviet Union, for example, in addition to the methodical closing, desecration, and destruction of churches, ecclesiastical authorities are not allowed to carry on any charitable or social work. Nor, for that matter, may the Church own property. The few places of worship left to the Church are legally viewed as state property which the government permits the Church to use. More devastating still for the Church, and indeed for its future, is that it is not permitted to carry on educational or instructional activity of any kind. Outside of sermons and the celebration of the liturgy it cannot instruct the faithful or its youth. Catechism classes, religious schools, study groups, Sunday Schools, religious publications are all illegal.
“Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Divine and Glorious Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God