On If the Pope Became Orthodox

Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky 1863-1936

The Church is one and has never been divided, but  heretics and schismatics fell away from her in the first age, have fallen away since, and will fall away until the Lord’s Second Coming.  Therefore, there can be no question of union with heretics and schismatics, but only of their restoration to union with the Church from which they fell away.

If the Roman Catholics should renounce their imaginings, then their restoration to union with the Church would be a matter for the greatest joy to the faithful and to the Holy Angels, not only for the sake of their souls’ salvation but for the realization of the restored fullness of the Church’s life to which our brethren of the West would bring that corporate ecclesiastical activity which is characteristic to them.    In the circumstance of the renunciation by the Roman Catholics of their pseudo-dogmas, and in particular of that absurd one of them which ascribes Infallibility to the Pope in matters, of Faith, the Holy Church, in restoring them to union with herself, would not only certainly restore to the Roman Primate that primacy which was assigned to him before his falling away into schism, but would probably invest him with such an authority in the Ecumenical Church as had never hitherto been assigned to him — inasmuch as that which he formerly possessed was confined to Western Europe and North-West Africa.

But such authority, assumed as being given to the Pope after his return to Orthodoxy, would be based, not on Roman fables about the Apostle Peter as chief over all the Apostles, about the succession of the Popes to the fullness of his imaginary authority, about in­dulgences, purgatory, etc., but in the practical need of ecclesiastical life by the force of which that life was gradually centralized: first, in the metropolitanates (from the third century) and then in the patriarchates (from the fourth and fifth centuries) with the result that the authority of the metropolitans and patriarchs in their areas was continually and gradually strengthened in proportion to the assimilation of the people to Christian culture. We admit for the future the conception of a single personal supremacy of the Church in consonance with the broadest preservation of the conciliar principle and on the condition that that supremacy does not pretend to be based on such invented traditions as the above, but only on the practical need of ecclesiastical life. (The Christian East, Feb. 1924, no. 1, 24-25)



  1. On this Sunday, this is the height of arrogance. Nothing anyone says will move your heart if you right such things. I also think you would crucify Christ if he came said something against the super-correct Orthodox. You can be so super-correct that you lose the love of Christ. Unsubscribe me.

  2. Robert,

    I’m sorry you feel that way. The post was not meant to bash the Pope and Roman Catholics or be “super-correct”. It was actually posted on Sat. morning and delayed being sent out via email. To accuse someone of being capable of murdering our Lord seems very extreme and unloving. You can unsubscribe via a link on the email. May your Lent be a blessed and fruitful one.


  3. Robert, you are accusing the entire Orthodox Church of being arrogant! This is the position of the Church. The dogma of the papacy is a modern innovation and was not a part of the the first millennium Church.


  4. I found great wisdom and hope in Met. Anthony’s reflections. I thought it defined a way forward, that may actually be possible. However, I must admit that I do not think that it is probable. But we must always remain hopeful.

  5. This was right on time, i was thinking very hard on this issue. But this clears up much. It almost seems impossibethat they would give up those things which their popes have sworn by for years. I think newer catholics who arent as traditional would accept a change if presented in the right manner. Also and more importantly, orthodox cannot waiver in truth in anyway just to allow a reunion of the west.

  6. Marc & Athanasy,

    Thanks for your comments. Orthodox Catholics see papal primacy as a functional office that can be very expedient in the Church. As each local church has its primate, the Pope can function as the primate of the entire union of catholic churches. However, the Roman Catholics see the Papacy as a divinely revealed dogma which constitutes the very essence of the Church itself. Can we ever bridge the gap between our differences?

    The Orthodox have been offering solutions similar to Met. Anthony’s for a long time:

    St. Symeon of the Thessaloniki ca. 1381-1429

    We should not contradict the Latins when they say that the Bishop of Rome is the first. This primacy is not harmful to the Church. But only let them show that he is true to the faith of Peter and his successors; then let him have all the privileges of Peter, let him be first, the head of all and the supreme hierarch. Only let him be faithful to the Orthodoxy of Sylvester and Agathon, Leo, Liberius, Martin and Gregory, then we too shall call him apostolic father and the first among hierarchs; then we will be under his authority not only as under Peter, but the very Saviour Himself. (PG 145,120 AC)

    Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs 1848

    Therefore let his Holiness be assured, that if, even now, he will write us such things as two hundred fathers on investigation and inquiry shall find consonant and agreeing with the said former Councils, then, we say, he shall hear from us sinners today, not only, “Peter has so spoken,” or anything of like honor, but this also, “Let the holy hand be kissed which has wiped away the tears of the Catholic Church.” (Paragraph 15)

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