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First since 1054? More likely: first ever.

Everyone has been reporting the great news that His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew attended today's installation Mass. What has not been correct is the part when we say it's the first time since 1054, the Great Schism. It's more likely, according to Byzantinist historian George Demacopoulos, that this is the first time ever.Over to my Fordham colleague:

Amid the crush of news reports in the past month that followed Pope Benedict's unprecedented resignation from the papacy, one of the most intriguing was the decision by His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, to attend Pope Francis' installation as Bishop of Rome. The occasion is being presented in the media as something that has not happened since the ecclesiastical schism that separated Christian East and Christian West in the eleventh century. But that characterization is almost certainly wrong -- this is quite likely the first time in history that a Bishop of Constantinople will attend the installation of a Bishop of Rome. And this is a profoundly bold step in ecumenical relations between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholics, one that could have lasting significance.

Demacopoulos goes on to narrate a succinct history of why it's so unlikely that a Bishop of Constantinople has ever attended the installation of a Bishop of Rome. Read the rest of the history and its significance HERE. 

About the Author

Michael Peppard is associate professor of theology at Fordham University, author of The World's Oldest Church and The Son of God in the Roman World, and on Twitter @MichaelPeppard.



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Jim - what if he stressed that he is the bishop of Rome and servant of charity of all churches and another took the title of Patriarch of the West? This would pick up on the use and understanding of patriarch in the East rather than the Western Petrine approach based upon Jerusalem, Alexandria, Rome.Your link suggest retiring the title of the west might help in ecumenism - wonder if that has been true?

Every day a new and welcome initiative is annouced.. what will next month look like?

Thank you, Michael. I was thinking the same thing but wasn't sure of the history.

I'm with Ed in wonderment, but my immediate focus is on what surprises Holy Week may bring. :)

Let's hope that the opposite will happen with Francis being invited to the installation of new Patriarchs of the various Orthodox churches. And that he won't send a delegate but will go himself. He seems to be the type that will do that if and when invited.

I hit send too soon. It would work wonders if Francis went in the role of Patriarch of the West, and reverses this:

From Professor Demacopoulos' very interesting post:"With all of this in mind, His All-Holiness decision to travel to Rome for Pope Francis installation as Roman bishop is an extraordinary event in the history of Christianity. And it is significant for reasons far beyond its novelty. First and foremost it is a powerful symbolic gesture for the cause of Christian unity. It demonstrates in unprecedented fashion the extent to which the Ecumenical Patriarch considers the relationship with the Roman Catholic Church to be a priority. For their part, members of the Vatican staff have responded to this grand gesture and have arranged for the reading of the Gospel at the installation to be sung in Greek (rather than Latin) in recognition of the fact that the Ecumenical Patriarch has taken this unprecedented step."I may be the only one on the planet who wonders about this: regarding the Gospel at the mass: I assume that one of the two appointed Gospel readings for the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary would have been chanted in Greek (either Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24a or Luke 2:41-51a). Would it have been the Koine Greek "original" text that was chanted?

I'm told the gospel is always in Greek. Grant said earlier it is usually in Greek and Latin. Does anyone have a source that can clear this up?Jim, you can look at the text and compare it to your New Testament, it's on line.

I just compared the Greek of the online program for the Mass with the standard Greek NT and it is the text of Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24a as printed in in that text. So it is koine Greek.

"The occasion is being presented in the media as something that has not happened since the ecclesiastical schism that separated Christian East and Christian West in the eleventh century. But that characterization is almost certainly wrongthis is quite likely the first time in history that a Bishop of Constantinople will attend the installation of a Bishop of Rome." (my italics)Strictly speaking, that would not be wrong. It would merely be a peculiar sort of understatement, like saying that the Chicago Cubs have not won a World Series since 1958. If an unsuspecting reader takes that to mean that the Cubs actually won in 1958, that still does not make the statement wrong, even if it is also what the stater believes.I suppose Christian unity would be a good thing, although (or because) it is likely to make the world a less interesting place. But let there be no undue haste. Maybe it's time for some serious discussion with the Eastern Orthodox Church after a thousand years. And perhaps an Anglican here and there. But when it comes to, say, Pat Robertson or Fred Phelps, another thousand may not seem so long.Just love "His All-Holiness." Those Greeks and their pan-! That's some high-level oneupmanship.

Alan - thank you for doing my homework for me. :-)

Both the Vatican and an even more authoritative source, John Page, confirmed that usually the Gospel is chanted in both Greek and Latin.I seriously doubt it was "Vatican staff" who made this call. It was the pope. And the chanting yesterday was haunting. He managed some significant edits under the cover of "shortening the Mass."

Very cool. I've made the correction on my blog. Thanks for bringing this to our attention!

The installation mass yesterday was so beautiful that I cried all day for happiness. I was particularly touched by the precedence given to Patriarch Bartholomew at the kiss of peace. I did wonder who was the second cleric to give the kiss, the one in the cone shaped black head covering. Also were the other Orthodox Patriarch there....Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch?

What's the difference between Orthodox Catholics and Byzantine Catholics? There were Byzantine Catholic schools and churches in the neighborhood where I grew up; one was Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic. I know the Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic School was Roman Catholic not Orthodox. Are there big ticket religious differences that distinguish Byzantine Catholics from Orthodox Catholics?

Irene: being simplistic, I think it comes down to being in communion with Rome. I suppose the Filioque clause has something to do with it as well.

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