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* Assistant Professor of Theology, University of Saint Francis, Ft. Wayne, Indiana. 1 This is a revised version of a paper presented at a meeting of the Peter and Paul Seminar in Ottawa in March 2007 The author wishes to register his gratitude to Professor Catherine Clifford of the Faculty of Theology at Saint Paul University, Ottawa, for the invitation to deliver the paper to the Seminar and for her feedback on it. 2 See, e.g., Michael Whelton, Popes and Patriarchs: An Orthodox Perspective on Roman Catholic Claims (Ben Lomond, CA: Conciliar Press, 2006). See the author’s review of this deplorable book in The Canadian Journal of Orthodox Christianity 2 (2007): 460 The Jurist 68 (2008) 460–496 A DIVERSITY OF POLITIES PATRIARCHAL LEADERSHIP IN THE ORTHODOX CHURCHES1 Adam A.J. DeVille* Introduction Stereotypes abound about the churches of the Christian East. It is, e.g., a commonplace among lazy journalists or tendentious polemicists2 that the Orthodox churches are local churches synodically governed with very little centralized authority, and generally headed by a patriarch with limited powers, whereas the Catholic Church is an international papal monarchy bereft of synodical government and possessed of an extremely centralized and powerful Roman curial bureaucracy inserting itself into all aspects of the Church’s life. This commonplace belies, inter alia, the fact of a great deal of diversity among the Orthodox churches. Demonstrating the details of that diversity is the burden of this paper, which examines Orthodox structures and polity as part of the ongoing ecumenical project of searching for new and acceptable models of primacy in the Church. As ecumenists are well aware, the last stumbling block to OrthodoxCatholic unity is of course papal primacy. In seeking a way around that stumbling block, and in response to the famous question posed in 1995 by Pope John Paul II in Ut unum sint, where he asked (§95–96) “pastors and theologians” of non-Catholic traditions to assist him in coming up with new models for the exercise of the papal ministry so that it could again be an instrument of Christian unity, it seems that the models of ecclesiastical governance in the Christian East may be helpful in illumi- 3 “Le principe patriarcal, modèle équilibré d’unité et de synodalité, d’autonomie locale et de système de communion intégré, reste un idéal qui doit toujours nous inspirer et nous aider à trouver des solutions ecclésiologiques pour les nouvelles situations que doit affronter l’Église au XXIe siècle.” Patriarch Gregorios III, “Patriarches d’Orient et d’Occident: similarités et differences,” Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies 46 (2005) 16–17. 4 George Nedungatt, “Patriarchal Ministry in the Church of the Third Millennium,” The Jurist 61 (2001) 19. 5 Michael Magee, The Patriarchal Institution in the Church: Ecclesiological Perspectives in the Light of the Second Vatican Council (Rome: Herder and Herder, 2006) 150. 6 John Erickson, “Common Comprehension of Christians ConcerningAutonomy and Central Power in the Church in View of Orthodox Theology,” Kanon 4 (1979) 101. Erickson quotes a letter of Patriarch Philotheos Kokkinos in 1370 to certain Russian princes in which the patriarch opens by claiming that “Since God has appointed Our Humility as leader of all Christians found anywhere,” the patriarch therefore enjoys the right to appoint bishops over “all other areas of the earth . . . so that each, in the country and place appointed him, enjoys territorial rights, and episcopal see, and all the rights of Our Humility ” (111). patriarchal leadership in the orthodox churches 461 nating alternate paths around or through the papal stumbling block. In the words of one current Eastern patriarch, the Melkite Gregory III of Antioch: The patriarchal principle, a balanced model of unity and synodality , of local autonomy and a system of integral communion, remains an ideal which must always inspire us and assist us in finding ecclesiological solutions for the new situations which the Church must confront in the twenty first century.3 Diversity among the polity and structure of the Orthodox patriarchates is a commonplace in the literature on them. The canonist George Nedungatt , after reviewing the office of...


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