Thursday, March 20, 2008

Easter Geography 2008: Apostolic Sees

Apostolic Sees are the bishop/patriarchal seats who trace their lineage to one of the Apostles. The sees are highly respected positions because of the leadership role they give. The holder of the office is viewed as the successor to the Apostle who in turn received authority from Jesus Christ.

Below is a description of some of the major sees.

Apostle: Saint Peter
Current Successor: Pope Benedict XVI

The See of Peter gives the holder the title of Pope and leadership over all Catholic Churches in communion with it (Latin Rite and all the Eastern Rites). Probably the most famous of sees and the one most contested over time. For a while the See of Peter had ultimate political sway over all of Western Europe.

Constantinople (Istanbul)
Apostle: Saint Andrew
Current successors: The Eastern Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I or the Armenian Orthodox Patriarch Mesrob II Mutafyan.

This one claims to be New Rome and for a while claimed to be above the See of Peter because it became the See of Caesar (capital of the Roman Empire). The Eastern Orthodox patriarch is the "first of equals" of all Eastern Orthodox leaders while the Armenian patriarch is not the leader of the Armenian Church.

This see has suffered under 500 plus years of Turkish rule. The Eastern Orthodox patriarch took orders from the Sultan to break communion with Rome in the late 1400s and by law even today must be a citizen of Turkey. The Armenian Church was not even in Constantinople until the Sultan invited it in during an effort to play Christians against each other.

Apostle: Saint Mark the Evangelist
Current Successors: Coptic Catholic Patriarch Antonios Naguib, Coptic (Oriential) Orthodox Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria, Greek Orthodox Patriarch and Pope of Alexandria and all Africa Theodore II.

A see right now contested with nationalistic overtones. The Coptic Catholic and Coptic Orthodox heads are leaders of their respective church and Coptic Egyptians (not ethnically Arab but native Egyptian) while the Greek Orthodox is Greek.

Apostle: Saint Peter
Current Successors: Maronite Catholic Patriarch Nasrallah Pierre Cardinal Sfeir, Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham, Syrian Catholi Patriarch Ignace Pierre VIII Abdel-Ahad, Eastern Orthodox Ignatius IV, and Syriac (Oriential) Orthodox Ignatius Zakka I Iwas

The first major see made by Peter is also the most fought over. The first three are all in communion with Rome while the Roman Catholic Church even had their own patriarch until the 1950s. Both Orthodox and the Melkite Greek Catholic patriarchs are based in Damascus while the other two Catholics are in Lebanon.

Apostle: Saint James
Current Successors: Latin (Roman Catholic) Patriarch Fouad Twal, Eastern Orthodox Patriarch Theofilos, Armenian Patriarch Torkom Manoogian

The Eastern Orthodox and Latin churches members are mostly Arabs but only the Latin Patriarch has the tradition of having Arab patriarchs while the Eastern Orthodox church is led by Greeks. The Armenian Church is headed and caters to the Armenian expat community. The Armenians has had a presence since the 600s because the Eastern Roman Empire was unable to extinguish the Armenian Church in its hinterlands.

Apostle: Saint Thomas
Current Successors: Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly or Assyrian Church of the East Catholicos Dinkha IV

Both these churches are native to Iraq. The Assyrian Church of the East was once in the majority but a series of great geopolitical "wrong choices" has caused mass migration, conversion, and death. The Chaldean Catholic is headquartered in Baghdad but the Assyrian Church of the East has been forced to relocate to Chicago ever since Iraqi independence.


Anonymous said...

What a bunch of crap.

Don't you know that the split between the 4 Orthodox Patriarch and the single schismatic bishop of Rome (aka "the pope") occurred in 1054?!

NOTHING to do with the sultans who first came to Constantinople 400 years LATER.

Catholicgauze said...

There is debate whether or not 1054 was a schism or just rival excommunions. Less than 50 years later Eastern Rome called on the Pope for military help starting the Crusades. There was nothing in Urban II's call but praise for the fellow Christians of the East.

Plus, union between the two churches was (re)achived with the Council of Florence. The Sultan's puppet, Patriarch Gennadios II, took power the union was squashed.

Anonymous said...

ESP says. The Ccouncil of Florence took place BEFORE the fall of Constantinople. The reason it took place was so help could be gotten for the coming battle. The Emperor knew that he could'nt defeat the Turks without help from the West. However, he gave up Ortodox practices for Catholic ones and when he returned to Constantinople, his agreement with Florence was universally rejected by the people at large

Ali said...

For someone who so freely throws around references to Middle and Near Eastern History you really ought to read about it.
The hatred that the Orthodox Church felt for Rome is I think best summed up by the phrase "better the turban of the Sultan then the Pope's diadem".
Today we have seen Orthodox and Catholic Christians cutting each other's throats in the former Yugoslavia.
In Russia and Greece Islam protected as a native religion while the very idea of the Pope stepping on Orhtodox ground by visiting sets Orthodox Priests' teeth gnashing.
I do not need to remind you that Hagia Sophia was looted by the Catholics long before the Turks had a chance, and while the Latins banned the Orthodox Church and converted all of Constantinople's Church to Cahtolicism the Turks let the Orthodox Church keep most of their Churchs in what became Istanbul. Any Greek historian will tell you that the Ottoman conquest of many Greek territories was hailed as a liberation whereby the local poplulation was free of Venetian or Genoan policy of forcing the Catholic Church. The Turks saved the Eastern Church from Rome and created the Serbian Church which the Serb's love so much today (while loathing the Turks).
Lets not take part in revisionist history, the Greeks despised the Latins, Turks had nothing to do with it.

Ali said...

The idea that Copts are somehow more purely Egyptian, that Maronites are more purely "Phoenician" or that Chaldeans and Assyrians are more purely Babylonia/Mesopotamians is a fantasy that ignores the history of migrations, intermarriages, conversions and reconversions that makes any such claims to be pure fantasy.
This blog which is otherwise quite insightful repeatedly falls for this type of Romantic History that more properly should be left in the 19th Century.