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68 Jurist 460 (2008)
A Diversity of Polities Patriarchal Leadership in the Orthodox Churches

handle is hein.journals/juristcu68 and id is 468 raw text is: THE JURIST 68 (2008) 460-496

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. Demon-
strating the details of that diversity is the burden of this paper, which ex-
amines Orthodox structures and polity as part of the ongoing ecumenical
project of searching for new and acceptable models of primacy in the
As ecumenists are well aware, the last stumbling block to Orthodox-
Catholic 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-
* Assistant Professor of Theology, University of Saint Francis, Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
This is a revised version of a paper presented at a meeting of the Peter and Paul Sem-
inar 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 in-
vitation 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 re-
view of this deplorable book in The Canadian Journal of Orthodox Christianity 2 (2007):

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