Northern Illinois University Press

Primacy in the Church From Vatican I to Vatican II

An Orthodox Perspective

Maximos Vgenopoulos

“Vgenopoulos gives an informative and fair analysis of the Orthodox understanding of primacy emerging from Vaticans I and II. One of the strengths of the book is that he accesses Greek-language sources that are not available to an English-speaking audience, and which are necessary for a fuller account of Orthodox reactions to Catholic notions of primacy. This book is an important contribution to a timely issue.” –Aristotle Papanikolaou, Fordham University

The primacy of the bishop of Rome, the pope, as it was finally shaped in the Middle Ages and later defined by Vatican I and II has been one of the thorniest issues in the history of the Western and Eastern Churches. This issue was a primary cause of the division between the two Churches and the events that followed the schism of 1054: the sack of Constantinople by the crusaders in 1204, the appointment by Pope Innocent III of a Latin patriarch of Constantinople, and the establishment of Uniatism as a method and model of union. Always a topic in ecumenical dialogue, the issue of primacy has appeared to be an insurmountable obstacle to the realization of full unity between Roman Catholicism and the Orthodox Christianity.

In this timely and comprehensive work, Maximos Vgenopoulos analyzes the response of major Orthodox thinkers to the Catholic understanding of the primacy of the pope over the last two centuries, showing the strengths and weaknesses of these positions. Covering a broad range of primary and secondary sources and thinkers, Vgenopoulos approaches the issue of primacy with an open and ecumenical manner that looks forward to a way of resolving this most divisive issue between the two Churches.

Here, for the first time, the thought of Greek and Russian Orthodox theologians regarding primacy is brought together systematically and compared to demonstrate the emergence of a coherent view in accordance with the canonical principles of the Orthodox Church. In looking at crucial Greek-language sources Vgenopoulos makes a unique contribution by providing the first in-depth account in English of the debate on primacy within the Greek Orthodox world.

Primacy in the Church from Vatican I to Vatican II is an invaluable resource on the official dialogue taking place between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church today. This important book will be of broad interest to historians, theologians, seminarians, and all those interested in Orthodox-Catholic relations.

The Very Reverend Maximos Vgenopoulos is currently the Grand Archdeacon of the Ecumenical Patriarch. He completed his doctoral studies in systematic theology at theUniversity of London (Heythrop College) in 2008, and has served the Ecumenical Patriarchate as a participant in the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church (2007 - present), and as the Codicographer of the Holy and Sacred Synod (1995-2005).

Oct. (2013) 220pp.
cloth $35.00x

His All-Holiness Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, is the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians throughout the world and 270th successor to St. Andrew the Apostle, founder of the Church of Constantinople.

Table of Contents

Foreword by The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
1—Vatican I
2—The Aftermath of Vatican I
3—Papal Primacy and Episcopal Collegiality
4—Orthodox Reactions to Vatican II
5—General Conclusions

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ISBN: 9780875804736
cloth $35.00