The Role of the Bishop of Rome in the Communion of the Churches in the First Millennium
Protopresbyter Anastasios Gotsopoulos
The 14th Meeting of the Joint International Committee for the Orthodox-Roman Catholic Theological Dialogue in Chieti, Italy (15-22.9.2016). Were the Western Orthodox Fathers ignored in the committee's search for a common understanding of the role of the Pope in the First Millennium?
FROM THE CAREFUL STUDY OF THE ACTS AND DECISIONS OF THE ECUMENICAL COUNCILS we can define with certainty the place of the Church of Rome and her bishop within the communion of all the local Churches during the era of the Ecumenical Synods:
A. The Church and Bishop of Rome
1. The increased prestige and exceptional honor which was conferred upon the Church of Rome is clear. Consequently the Church also recognized a primacy of honor and as the first see in the order of that which was associated with the exceptional dignity of the Patriarchal Thrones. The reasons are clear: a) It was the Church of “glorious Rome”, the capital of the empire, b) it was active in spiritual life and carried out a pastoral care for the local Churches which surrounded it and c) it was the only city in the Latin west which had received the presence and preaching of the First Leaders of the Choir of the Apostles who had been martyred there and whose tombs were located in Rome.
2. In particular, the Church of Rome could boast of its apostolic lineage from the “leaders of the Apostolic choir” [Sts. Peter and Paul] which came to later be limited to [a lineage from St. Peter alone] and expressed with the term “petrine”. It is necessary to note however that in none of the canons of the Ecumenical Councils is attribution of any dignity or rank of honor to the Church of Rome connec