The final day begins with a Bishop of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, formerly of the Moscow Patriarchate, speaking about the (in)famous 28th canon of the Council of Chalcedon. For those unfamiliar with the canon, there have been multiple reflections posted over the past three months on OCANews.org. As Fr. John Erickson, former Dean of SVS, said of the Bishop in his introduction, Bishop Basil in his ministry reflects many of the administrative, pastoral and episcopal tensions that dominate contemporary Orthodoxy. Bishop Basil is English, an historian, long time parish priest, long time vicar Bishop for Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom), and more recently in charge of the parishes of the Russian Tradition in the EP for England and Ireland.
Part of the fun of hearing these talks over the past two days has been how the speakers ground their topics: in Russian history, in American history, in 19th century Russian attempts at reforms, etc., but Bishop Basil does none of this. He begins with a survey of Scripture, Patristics and Liturgics about “gathering the faithful in from the ends of the world”.
He then showed maps, showing how the world was viewed in the 5th century at the time of the Council, in which the world was divided between Africa, Europe and Asia, with the “Middle Sea” in between. All the visions saw the world as a T in a O; by viewing the world from above, looking down, in which Jerusalem is always in the middle. America does not appear. The world is surrounded by water, and no one had been outside “the inhabited world”. We tend to think of the world in terms of land masses nowadays; but the world is 70% water, and we live on islands in the water. This map reflects that fact very accurately.
Bishop Basil’s fundamental point is striking: That given the early church’s view of the world ( analagous to sherman william’s paint logo – “Christ covers the world”) the islands in the Atlantic sea, of which America is a large one, belong canonically to the Patriarchate of Rome. Constantinople is now the “locum tenens” of Rome’s patrimony given their schism from the Church – and so it is to Constantinople to whom ordering these rivalries belongs. In short, it is an interesting thought, that grounds the EP authority not on the Canon, but on the Dyptchs.
(To which, I can only add: but if you look east, rather than west, given the world is a globe, could not the Americas be seen as islands in the pacific – and so adhere to Antioch, rather than Constantinople? On the other hand, in America, possession is 9/10ths of the law, so shouldn’t we be deciding our own fate?)