Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

July AD 2007
Our Lady of the Rosary
Parish Bulletin

Peter and Andrew - Are Rome and Constantinople Co-equals?

Supplying Ceremonies, Conditional Confirmation?


Peter and Andrew - Are Rome and Constantinople Co-equals?

    Question:  My Russian friend says that Saint Andrew and Saint Peter were brothers, that they founded the sees of Constantinople and Rome, making the later bishops of those two sees equals—but both Rome and Constantinople fell to the barbarians, making Moscow the primatial see of Christianity.  Is there any truth in this.

    Answer:  We will come back to the history in a moment, but the fact that Saints Peter and Andrew were brothers did not make them ecclesiastical equals.  While the Scriptures give Andrew as the first Apostle to be called by our Lord, they clearly portray Peter as the leader of the Apostles.  In Matthew 16, our Lord said: “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church,” not “You are Andrew and Peter, and upon these rocks....”  In John 21, it was Peter alone whom He directed to “Feed My lambs ... Feed my sheep.”  Church history bears out the universal understanding that Rome was the first see of Christendom, with appeals of all sorts being directed from other sees to the Pope in Rome.[1]

    From the historical perspective, we are not really sure where Saint Andrew exercised his apostolate, except to say that he very likely died in Patræ, a city in the southwest of modern day Greece, on the other side of the Aegean from Constantinople.  Eusebius says he worked in Sythia, the region on the northeast side of the Black sea (modern day Moldavia or Ukraine).  Saint Gregory Nazianzen puts him in Epirus, still on the wrong side of Aegean.  Saint Jerome placed him in Achaia, where he died.  Theodoret says Hellas, or modern Greece.

    The fourteenth century historian Nicephoras (who wrote in Constantinople) make the claim that Saint Andrew had been in a multitude of places, including Byzantium, where he appointed Saint Stachys as its first bishop before moving on.  (A Stachys is mentioned by Saint Paul in Romans 16:9, but that would put him in Rome).  A fifth century forgery attributed to “Dorotheus, Bishop of Tyre” seems to be the source of the name Stachys, and suggests that Byzantium-Constantinople is superior to Rome, as Andrew was called to the Apostolate before Peter.

    During Saint Andrew’s lifetime the Greek colony of Byzantium occupied the place where the Bosporus meets the Sea of Marmora, later known as Constantinople or modern day Istanbul.  The colony had been decimated a few times, but was rebuilt between 324 and 330 by the Emperor Constantine who named it for himself.  Byzantium was a suffragan see of  Heraclea in Thrace.  In 381 the Emperor Theodosius called an Ecumenical Council (Constantinople I), which, among other things, raised the bishop of Constantinople (new Rome) to a dignity just below that of the bishop of old Rome, the Pope.

    Rome, and indeed, all of Western Europe suffered greatly during the Barbarian invasions.  In the fifth century, uncivilized peoples from the north pushed into the Empire, conquering and sometimes destroying.  The Huns also came from far away Mongolia in about the same period.  Vikings came in the ninth century, plundering coastal cities and towns.  Moslems conquered all of North Africa (640-698), pushed into Spain (711), and had to be expelled from France (721-737), and later Vienna (1683)—Moslem pirates controlled the Mediterranean until the late sixteenth century (1571) and were not completely eliminated until the nineteenth century (1827).  Magyars invaded Germany and Italy in the tenth century.

    While the Barbarian invasions overthrew the Empire, the Church remained more or less intact over these centuries.  Indeed, in many cases it was the leadership of abbots, bishops, and Popes that held western Europe together.  Many of the Barbarians adopted the Catholic Faith in the long run.

    Constantinople had a similar history of  invasions.  A request by the Eastern Emperor brought Western troops—the Crusades—to protect his territory and into the Holy Land to attempt the expulsion of the Moslems.  The Crusaders were only temporarily successful in Palestine, and actually sacked Constantinople and occupied it from 1204 until 1261.  Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453, but continues to be the First See of the Eastern Orthodox.  As with Rome, the decline in political influence was not matched by a decline in religious prestige.  Yet it can be said that the Church at Constantinople operated under far greater duress than the Church of Rome.

    With the fall of Constantinople, first Serbia, and then Bulgaria made claims to being the successors to the Roman Empire.  Ottoman invasion cut their claims short, and Russia asserted her own.  In 1510, the Russian monk Philoteus wrote to the Grand Duke Vasili III, proclaiming, “Two Romes have fallen. The third stands.  And there will not be a fourth.  No one will replace your Christian Tsardom!”[2]  The Empire of the Czar played an important role in European and Asiatic affairs, but came to an abrupt end with the Russian Revolution.  As with Rome and Constantinople, the influence of the Moscow Patriarchate ought to be viewed from its religious perspective, rather than any accidental political importance.

    Hopefully, there will be no suggestion of a fourth Rome at Salt Lake City id Mr. Romney is elected President in 2008—nor a fifth Rome in New York City if the United Nations get any more powerful.

    If has long been the contention of this writer that the underlying causes of the Eastern-Western Schism were political rather than religions.  People in Rome and Constantinople, anxious for political prestige managed to find differences in the religious practice of the two patriarchates, and to elevate those differences to the level of heresies through sheer posturing.  Whether the Communion Hosts should be leavened or not; whether priests should wear beards or not; and the exact manner of the Procession of the Holy Ghost would not have led to such a disastrous rupture of the Church had Christian charity outweighed political pretense.

A few references for further reading:

Supplying Ceremonies, Conditional Confirmation?

Question:  The Angelus for  June 2007 [page 39] mentions a traditional priest in Malaysia “supplying ceremonies” missing from the Novus Ordo rite of Baptism, and arranging for conditional Confirmation.  Were they saying that Novus Ordo Baptisms and Confirmations are invalid or at least doubtful?

    Answer:  That was a bit of a surprise.  For a year or so, the publishers of The Angelus seemed to be trying to curry favor with Rome in hopes of arranging some sort of compromise.  They printed a few articles trying to assure the faithful that the Novus Ordo rite of Ordination of Bishops is valid in spite of some very serious defects.  Perhaps the priests who actually have to work in the real world of the missions are now trumping the theoreticians.  But let us look more closely at the question.

    To begin with, the Novus Ordo rite of Baptism contains the appropriate matter and form for valid Baptism—assuming, of course that the minister actually follows the prescribed rite.  In practice we have seen a number of abuses—e.g. the minister pronouncing the form while someone else pours the water;  the minister immersing the child’s buttocks in water rather than pouring it on his head;  changing the names of the Persons of the Trinity; changing the form altogether.[3]  Parents and God-parents beware!

The issue of “supplying ceremonies” deals not with the essential validity of the Sacrament, but with peripheral ceremonies which place the Sacrament in proper context.  In some cases these are preserved in the Novus Ordo rite (e.g. anointing with Holy Chrism);  in some cases they are optional (e.g. anointing with Oil of Catechumens and the “ephphetha” opening of the ears and mouth);  in some cases the options are ambiguous (e.g. some of the optional forms of exorcism);  in some cases they are missing altogether (e.g. the tasting of blessed salt).  The baptismal promises and Profession of Faith, formerly made by the God-parents in the name of the child, have been replaced with a “renewal” of the parents’ and God-parents’ own promises and Profession—an interesting notion if they were themselves baptized in the new rite and have nothing to “renew.”

There is also some concern with the anointings. Instead of olive oil, the Novus Ordo allows “any plant oil” to be blessed and used as Chrism, and as the Oils of Catechumens and of the Sick.  Going back as far as the Exodus, olive oil has been required for the lamps which burned before God and the anointing of priests and kings and the bodies of the dead.[4]  For all the centuries Catholic theology has required it for the validity of the three Holy Oils, and for the validity of the Sacraments dependent on them.  Anticipating the modern argument of necessity in mission lands (long before modern transportation) Saint Thomas says:

Oil is appointed (James 5:14) as the matter of this sacrament [Extreme Unction]. Now, properly speaking, oil is none but olive oil. Therefore this is the matter of this sacrament....  Though olive oil is not produced everywhere, yet it can easily be transported from one place to another. Moreover this sacrament is not so necessary that the dying cannot obtain salvation without it. [5]

Chrism is the fitting matter of this sacrament [Confirmation]. For, as stated above (1), in this sacrament the fullness of the Holy Ghost is given for the spiritual strength which belongs to the perfect age ... Now the grace of the Holy Ghost is signified by oil; hence Christ is said to be "anointed with the oil of gladness" (Psalm 44:8), by reason of His being gifted with the fullness of the Holy Ghost. Consequently oil is a suitable matter of this sacrament. And balm is mixed with the oil, by reason of its fragrant odor, which spreads about: hence the Apostle says (2 Corinthians 2:15): "We are the good odor of Christ," etc.

These properties of oil, by reason of which it symbolizes the Holy Ghost, are to be found in olive oil rather than in any other oil. In fact, the olive-tree itself, through being an evergreen, signifies the refreshing and merciful operation of the Holy Ghost.

Moreover, this oil is called oil properly, and is very much in use, wherever it is to be had. And whatever other liquid is so called, derives its name from its likeness to this oil: nor are the latter commonly used, unless it be to supply the want of olive oil. Therefore it is that this oil alone is used for this and certain other sacraments[6]

    Obviously, if there is a problem in using invalid oils for the peripheral ceremonies of Baptism, the problem is far worse when considering the Sacrament of Confirmation where Chrism is the essential matter of the Sacrament (together with the imposition of the bishop’s hand).

    There is also a concern with the new rite of Confirmation—changed like just about everything else in the New Order, for the sake of change.  The claim is made that the new form of the Sacrament is taken from the Eastern Church, and therefore equally as valid as the form traditionally used by Rome.  This may be true, but the Eastern rites are generally not structured with the Roman passion for a clearly defined essential form.  They tend to think of the whole rite as conferring the Sacrament.  It gets a bit chancy, then, when one extracts a sentence from an Eastern rite and uses it to serve as the essential form of a Western rite.

    This same issue arises concerning the Novus Ordo rite for ordaining the bishops necessary to Confirm (and Ordain).  Pope Paul VI more or less copied an Eastern ceremony for the consecration of bishops, but then took the additional step of “highlighting” a single sentence within it, claiming that it was the essential form of the Sacrament.  Unfortunately, the sentence says nothing about the fullness of the priesthood, or anything else to specify the Sacrament it is supposed to confer:

So now pour out upon this chosen one the power that is from you, the governing Spirit whom you gave to your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, the Spirit given by him to his holy apostles, who founded the Church in every place to be your temple for the unceasing glory and praise of your name.[7]

    Pope Leo XIII pointed to precisely this defect of form in ruling that Anglican Orders are invalid in Apostolicæ Curæ:

24.  ... Although the signification ought to be found in the whole essential rite, that is to say, in the "matter and form", it still pertains chiefly to the "form"; since the "matter" is the part which is not determined by itself, but which is determined by the "form". And this appears still more clearly in the Sacrament of Order, the "matter" of which, in so far as we have to consider it in this case, is the imposition of hands, which, indeed, by itself signifies nothing definite, and is equally used for several Orders and for Confirmation.

25. But the words which until recently were commonly held by Anglicans to constitute the proper form of priestly ordination namely, "Receive the Holy Ghost," certainly do not in the least definitely express the sacred Order of Priesthood (sacerdotium) or its grace and power, which is chiefly the power "of consecrating and of offering the true Body and Blood of the Lord"....

28. The same holds good of [Anglican] episcopal consecration ... in like manner, has been stripped of the words which denote the summum sacerdotium [the fullness of the priesthood].

    We have assembled the various pronouncements and the opinions on new rite—pro and con—on the Parish Website.  The publishers of the Angelus have been very liberal about this last matter, but perhaps the faithful who are on the receiving end of the new rites are more cautious and demanding of their priests.  The new rites may be valid—but “may be” or even “probably” are not good enough.[8]



[1]   See the Parish Bulletin for examples

[3]   “”Buttism” 

         “Creator, Liberator, and Sustainer”

        “May the strength of Jesus Christ the Savior be yours.”

[4]   Exodus xxvii: 20;  xxx: 22-26.;  Leviticus xxiv: 2.  See also

[5]   Summa Theologica.  III (supp) Q.29 a.4

[6]   III Q.72 a.2

[7]   Pope Paul VI, Pontificcalis Romani, 1968.

[8] Consecration of Bishops


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