Imágenes de páginas

warmly his quarrel against Rome. His figure is the foremost one in the dispute, and there is every disposition to take advantage as far as possible of the rank which the See of Constantinople has held since the fifth century, first by usurpation and afterward by the concession of Rome, as second to the Apostolic See of St. Peter. We do not accuse all those who are concerned in the union movement of being animated by a spirit of enmity against Rome. Some of them, we believe, are seeking for the healing of the schisms of Christendom in a truly Catholic spirit, although not fully enlightened concerning the necessary means for doing so. We may cher ish the same hope concerning some of the Oriental prelates and clergy also, especially those who have manifested a determination not to compromise a single point of Catholic dogma for the sake of union with Protestants. We are quite sure, however, that the loudest advocates of union in the Protestant ranks, and their most earnest and hearty sympathizers in the East, are thoroughly heretical and schismatical in their spirit and intentions, and are aiming at the overthrow of the Roman Church, and a revolution in the orthodox Eastern communion, as their dearest object. While, therefore, we disclaim any hostile attitude toward men like Dr. Pusey and other unionists of his spirit, and would never use any language toward them which is not kind and respectful, we are compelled to brand the use which other ecclesiastics in high position have sought to make of this Greek question as entirely unprincipled. Their cringing and bowing before the miserable, effète form of Christianity at Constantinople, dictated as it is chiefly by hatred against Rome, is something unworthy of honest Christians and intelligent Englishmen and Americans. Many very sincere and well-disposed persons are no doubt misled by their artful misrepresentations. On that account it is very necessary to bring out as clearly as possible the true

state of the case, as regards Oriental Christendom, that it may be seen how little support Anglicanism or any kind of Protestantism can draw from that quarter; and how strongly the entire system of Catholic dogma is sustained by the history and traditions of the Eastern Church.

We may possibly hereafter discuss more at large some of these important subjects relating to the Eastern Church and the schism which has desolated its fairest portions for so many centuries. On this occasion we intend merely to throw a little light on the present actual condition of the patriarchate of Constantinople, in order to dissipate any illusion that may have been created by high-sounding words, and to show how little reason there is to "turn with hope to the spiritual head of the Oriental Church" for any enlightening or sanctifying influences upon the souls which astray from the fold of St. Peter. We waive, for the time, all consideration of past events, anterior to the period of Turkish domination, and all discussion of the remote circumstances which have brought the See of Constantinople into its present state of degradation, and of obstinate secession from the unity of the Church.


We take it as we find it, under the Mohammedan dominion, and will endeavor to show how it stands in relation to other churches of the East, and what are its claims on the respect and honor of Western Christians.

The Patriarch of Constantinople is not the Patriarch of the "Greek Church." There is no designation of this kind known in the East. The style there used is, the "Holy Eastern Church." The Greek rite, or form of celebrating mass and administering the sacraments in the Greek language, is only one of the rites sanctioned by the Catholic Church which are in use among those Christians who are not under the Latin rite. What is usually called in the West the Greek Church has several independent organizations. The Patriarch of Con

stantinople, who very early subjugated the patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem to his dominion, now rules over the same patriarchates, which have dwindled to very insignificant dimensions, and over all the separated orthodox Christians of the Turkish empire. The Russian Church, which was erected into a distinct patriarchate by Ivan III., is under the supreme jurisdiction of the imperial governing synol. The Patriarch of Constantinople is treated with respect and honor, and referred to for advice and counsel, by the Russian authorities; but he has no more jurisdiction in Russia than the Archbishop of Baltimore has in the province of New York. The Church of Greece not only threw off all dependeace on the See of Constantinople after the revolution, but renounced all communication with it, for reasons to be mentioned hereafter. The separated Greek Christians of the Austrian empire are governed by the Patriarch of Carlovitz, and there is at least one other separate jurisdiction in the Montenegrine provinces. The Patriarch of Constantinople possesses, therefore, an actual jurisdiction over a fraction only of the Eastern Church. Within the proper limits of his own patriarchate this jurisdiction is absolute, both in ecclesiastical and civil matters, subject only to the supreme authority of the sultan. Immediately after the capture of Constantinople by the Turks, the Sultan Mahomet II. conferred upon the Patriarch Gennadius the character of Milet-bachi, or chief of a nationality, giving him investiture by the pastoral staff and mantle with his own hands. The reason of his doing so was, that the Mohammedan law recognizes only Mohammedans as members of a Mohammedan nationality. In more recent times, the sultans, disgusted by the venal and tyrannical conduct of the patriarchs, have refused to confer this investiture in person, and it is now done by the grand vizier. Eight metropolitans, namely, those of Chalcedon, Ephesus,

Derendah, Heraclèa, Cyzicus, Nicomedia, Cæsarea, and Adrianople, form the supreme council of the patriarchate, and, with the patriarch, administer the ecclesiastical and civil government of the Christians of their communion throughout the Ottoman empire. They have the control of the common chest or treasury of the Oriental rite in Turkey, and of that of the provinces; two great funds established originally for helping poor Christians to pay the exactions levied on them by the Mussulmans, but at present diverted to quite other uses by their faithless and rapacious guardians. They are also exclusively privileged to act as ephori or financial agents and bankers for the other one hundred and thirty-four bishops of the Turkish provinces, each one of them having as many of these episcopal clients as he can get.

Possessed of such an amount of ecclesiastical and civil power as the patriarchate of Constantinople has been within the Ottoman empire for several centuries, it is plain that it might have become the centre of an incalculable influence for the spiritual, moral, and social good of its subjects. Everything would seem to have combined to throw into the hands of the patriarch and his subordinate bishops the power of being truly the protectors and fathers of their people, and to furnish them with the most powerful motives for being faithful to their trust. The oppressed, despised, and impoverished condition of their poor, miserable people, slaves of a fanatical, barbarous, anti-Christian despotism, was enough to have awakened every noble and disinterested emotion in their bosoms, had they been men; and to have aroused the most devoted, self-sacrificing charity and zeal in their hearts, had they been Christians worthy of the name or true Christian pastors. Moreover, if they had been true patriots, and really devoted to the interests of Christianity and the church, there was every inducement to avail themselves of their position

and to watch the opportunity of cultivating unity and harmony with the Catholic Church and the powerful Christian nations of the West, in order to secure their eventual deliverance from the detestable Moslem usurpation, and the restoration of religion among them to its ancient glory. All causes of misunderstanding and dissension had been done away at the Council of Florence. The perfect dogmatic agreement between the East and the West had been fully established. The Greek and other Oriental rites, and the local laws and customs, had been sanctioned. The patriarchs and hierarchy had been confirmed in their privileges. The Patriarch of Constantinople was even tacitly permitted to retain his highsounding but unmeaning title of ecumenical patriarch without rebuke, and allowed to exercise all the jurisdiction which other patriarchs or metropolitans were willing to concede to him, subject to the universal supremacy of Rome. The remembrance of the gallant warfare of the Latin Christians against their common Moslem enemy, and especially of the heroic devotion of the cardinal legate and his three hundred followers, who had buried themselves under the walls of Constantinople at its capture, ought to have effaced the memory of former wrongs* and subdued the stupid, fanatical, unchristian sentiment of national antipathy against Christians of another race. Everything concurred to invite them to play a noble and glorious part toward their own Christian countrymen and toward Christendom in general. We are compelled, however, to say, with shame and pain, that they have proved so recreant to every one of these trusts and opportunities, their career has been one of such unparalleled infamy and perfidy, as to cover the Christian name with ignomi

* The Crusaders undoubtedly committed some great outrages, in revenge for the treachery of the Byzantines, and some Latin missionaries imprudently attacked the Oriental rites and castoms, but these acts were always disapproved and condemned by the Popes.

ny, and to merit for themselves the character of apostates from Christianity-seducers, corruptors, oppressors, and robbers of their own people.

We will first give a sketch of the line of conduct they have pursued in relation to ecclesiastical matters, and afterward of their administration of their civil authority.

It is notorious that the schismatical bishops and clergy of Turkey neglect almost entirely the duty of preaching the word of God and giving good Christian instruction to their people. The sacraments are administered in the most careless and perfunctory manner, and real practical Christian piety and morality are in a very low state both among clergy and laity. The clergy themselves are grossly ignorant and unfit for the exercise of their office, taken from the lowest class of the people, without instruction or preparation for orders, and treated by their superiors as menial servants. The bishops and higher clergy do not trouble themselves to remedy this gross incapacity of their inferiors, or to supply it by their own efforts. Consequently, the common Christian people of their charge have fallen into a state of moral degradation below that of the Turks themselves, by whom they are despised as the outcasts of society. The striking contrast between the schismatical clergy, monasteries, and people, and the Catholic, is proverbial among the Turks, and an object of remark even by Protestant travellers. It is probable that there have been many exceptions to the general rule of incompetence and supine neglect; but, viewing the case as a whole, it must be said that the patriarchs of Constantinople and their subordinate prelates have completely failed to do their duty as pastors of their people and their instructors and guides in religion and virtue. Their unfortunate position furnishes no adequate excuse, as will be seen when we examine a little further into the enterprises they have actually been engaged in, and see how well

they have succeeded in accomplishing
what they have really desired and un-
dertakea, which is nothing else than
their own selfish aggrandizement.
Look at the contrast between their
conduct and that of the Catholic hier-
archies of Russia, Poland, and Ire-
land under similar circumstances of
oppression, and every shadow of ex-
cuse will vanish. No doubt there
were many causes making it difficult
to elevate the character of the ordina-
ry clergy and the people, and tending
to keep them down to a low level of
intelligence and knowledge. This
would furnish an excuse for a great
deal, if there had been an evident
struggle of the hierarchy to do their
best in remedying the evil. Instead
of doing this, they are the principal
causes of the perpetuation and aggra-
vation of this degraded state. Since
the decay of the Ottoman power com-
menced, the clergy have had it in
their power to bid defiance in great
measure to the Turkish government.
They have been able to control im-
mense sums of money and to wield a
great commercial and financial influ-
ence. They might have employed
the intervention of Christian powers,
and especially of Russia, if they had
been governed by enlightened and
Christian motives, in order to gain
just rights and the means of improve-
ment for their people. The Ottoman
government, itself, has come to a
more just and liberal policy, in which
it would have welcomed the aid of the
Christian hierarchy, had there been
worthy of the name. Their com-
p te apathy at all times to every-
thing which concerns the spiritual and
moral welfare of their subjects will
warrant no other conclusion than
that they have practically apostatized
from the faith and church of Christ,
and are mere intruders into the
which they lay waste and ravage.
In their attitude toward the Catho-
Le Church and the Holy See, the
hierarchy of the patriarchate are ig-
norantly, violently, and obstinately
schismatical, and even heretical. The

public and official teaching of the Eastern Church is orthodox, and therefore no one is adjudged to be a heretie simply because he adheres to that communion. One who intelligently and obstinately adheres to a schism as a state of permanent separation from the See of St. Peter, is, however, at least a constructive heretic, and is very likely to be a formal heretic, on several doctrines which have been defined by the Catholic Church. The nature of the opposition of the clergy of Constantinople to the Roman Church, the grounds on which they defend their contumacious rebellion, and the dogmatic arguments which they employ in the controversy, are such as to place them in the position of the most unreasonable and contumacious schismatics, and as it appears to our judgment, in submission to that of more learned theologians, of heretics also. So far as their influence extends, and it is very great, they are chiefly accountable for the isolated condition of the entire non-united Eastern Church. As the ambition of the Patriarch of Constantinople was the original cause of the schism, so now the ignorant and violent obstinacy of the clergy of the patriarchate, and their supreme devotion to their own selfish and narrow personal and party interests, is, in connection with a similar though less odious spirit in the chief Muscovite clergy, and the worldly policy of the Russian czar, the chief cause of its perpetuation.

The clergy of Constantinople have not hesitated to resort to forgery in order to do away with the legal and binding force of the act of their own predecessors in subscribing and promulgating throughout their entire jurisdiction the act of union establishfolded at the Council of Florence. Gennadius, the first patriarch elected after the Turkish conquest, was one of the prelates who signed the decree of the Council of Florence, a learned and virtuous man, and is believed to have lived and died in the commun

ion of the Holy See. Actual communication between Constantinople and Rome was, however, rendered absolutely impossible by the deadly hostility of the conquerors to their principal and most dangerous for. The slightest attempt at any intercourse with the Latin Christians would have caused the extermination of all the Christian subjects of the Ottoman empire.

It is difficult to discover, therefore, when and how it was that the supremacy of the Roman Church, whose actual exercise was thus at first impeded by the necessity of the case, was again formally repudiated by the patriarchs. There is a letter extant, written in the year 1584 by the Patriarch Jeremiah to Pope Gregory XIII., in which he says that "it belonged to him, as the head of the Catholic Church, to indicate the measures to be employed against the Protestants," and requests him in virtue of this office to point out what measures can be taken to arrest the advance of Protestantism. This is the last official act of the kind of which there is any record. The patriarchs and their associates have relapsed into an attitude toward the Holy See which is equally schismatical and arrogant, though through their degraded condition far more ridiculous than that which was assumed by their predecessors before the Council of Florence. In order to nullify, as far as possible, the legal force of the act of union promulgated by that council, they have resorted to a forgery, and have published the acts of a pretended council under a patriarch who never existed and whom they call Athanasius. There is no precise date attached to these forged acts, but they are so arranged as to appear to have been promulgated soon after the return of the emperor and prelates from Italy, and before the Turkish conquest; and in them, some of the principal prelates who signed the decrees of the Council of Florence are represented as abjuring and begging pardon for what they had done.

[ocr errors]

They are said to have been moved to this by the indignation of their people and a sedition in Constantinople in which the rejection of the act of union was demanded. The forgery is too transparent to be worthy of refutation, and could never have been executed and palmed off as genuine in any other place than in Constantinople. They have also put out a book called the Pedalium,” in which they revive all the frivolous pretexts on account of which the infamous Michael Cerularius and his ignorant ecclesiastical clique of the Bus Empire pretended to prove the apostacy of the Bishop of Rome and all Western Christendom from the faith and communion of the Catholic Church, and the consequent succession of the Bishop of Constantinople to the universal primacy. The clergy of the patriarchate have taken the position that the Catholic Church at present is confined to the limits of what we call the Greek Church. They claim for themselves, therefore, that place which they acknowledge formerly belonged to the See of Rome, and thus seek to justify and carry out the usurpation of supreme and universal authority indicated by the title of ecumenical patriarch. The absurdity of this is evident, from the very grounds on which the title was originally assumed, and the traditional maxims which directed the policy of the ambitious Byzantine prelates throughout the entire period of the Greek empire. The original and only claim of the bishops of Constantinople, who were merely suffragans of the Metropolitan of Heraclea before their city was made the capital of the empire, to the patriarchal dignity, was the political importance of the city. Because Constantinople was new Rome, therefore the Bishop of Constantinople ought to be second to the Bishop of ancient Rome; and not only this, but he ought to rule over the whole East with a supremacy like that which the Bishop of Rome had always exercised over the whole


« AnteriorContinuar »