Primacy in the Church from Vatican I to Vatican II: An Orthodox Perspective (Orthodox Christian Studies)

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9780875804736: Primacy in the Church from Vatican I to Vatican II: An Orthodox Perspective (Orthodox Christian Studies)
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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 primary 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. For the first time here the thought of Greek and Russian Orthodox theologians regarding primacy is brought together systematically and compared to demonstrate the emergence of a coherent view of primacy in accordance with the canonical principles of the Orthodox Church. In looking at crucial Greek-language sources Vgenopoulos makes a unique contribution by providing an account of the debate on primacy within the Greek Orthodox Church.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.

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About the Author:

THE VERY REVERAND MAXIMOS VGENOPOULOS is currently the Grand Archdeacon of the Ecumenical Patriarch. He completed his doctoral studies in systematic theology at the University 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 2007-present), and as the Codicographer of the Holy and Sacred Synod (1995-2005).

HIS ALL-HOLINESS ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH 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.

Review:

This is a very valuable book with particular relevance for the current discussions on the subject of primacy in the Church. It contains careful and original research in historical sources not studied before, which are placed in the theological perspective of eucharistic ecclesiology. This book constitutes a significant contribution to the ongoing official theological dialogue between the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches. We warmly recommend it for reading by all those interested in ecclesiology.” Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon

Archdeacon Maximos Vgenopoulos is from his daily ministry familiar with the intense ecumenical relations between Rome and Constantinople. This book takes up the central point of the controversy and outlines fundamental principles of ecclesiology, many of which are unknown to theologians on both sides. This book opens up new horizons for the dialogue and is a precious contribution for a better and deeper mutual understanding in order to move step by step from controversy to communion. I congratulate him on this excellent and valuable scholarship.”
Walter Cardinal Kasper, Formerly President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, Vatican City


Vgenopoulos gives us an informative and fair analysis of the Orthodox understanding of primacy emerging from Vatican 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


A fine theological study of the concept and practice of primacy of the bishop of Rome one of the thorniest issues in the history of relations between the Western and Eastern Churches. Fr. Maximos has clearly mastered the subject and produced a significant contribution to the field of ecclesiology, providing a fresh approach from an Orthodox Christian perspective, particularly as this has been shaped over the last century by prominent Orthodox (both Greek and Russian) theologians.”
Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis, Archdeacon of the Ecumenical Throne, and author of Light through Darkness: The Orthodox Tradition

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