Monday, February 28, 2022

Anglican Patriarchate, Successor to Rome, also Apostolic Descendant of Russian Orthodox

His Holiness Patriarch
Nikon of Moscow
By Jean DuBois

FIRENZE-NUOVA ROMA 28 February 2022 (NRom)

The Anglican Patriarchate of Rome unites the West and East through its heritage. As a major part of that, the patriarchate is actually an Apostolic descendant of the Russian Orthodox Church. This important element of the Apostolic Succession of the Anglican Patriarchate of Rome not only provides a concrete ecclesiastical link between Western Rome and that great successor to the Eastern Roman Empire, the Russian Empire, but also demonstrates the universality of the Apostolic, Catholic, and Orthodox Christian Faith.

The Anglican Patriarchate of Rome, as the Apostolic See and temporal successor to the Pontifical States (State Pontificio), is the modern ecclesiastical successor to the Roman Empire. Yet its Apostolic Succession (direct lineage from the Apostles) is not only Roman, but from the Eastern church, including Greek/Byzantine, Syrian/Chealdean (in modern day Syria and Iraq), and Antioch. One of the most important lines of Eastern Apostolic succession is from Nikon, Patriarchate of Moscow and All Rus, head of the Russian Orthodox Church who served from 1652 to 1666. This has particular importance since the Russian Empire was considered a “New Rome” and successor to the Eastern Roman Empire. In fact, the church came to Kievan Rus (the precursor to the Russian Empire, centred in modern-day Ukraine) via the Greek territories in the mission work of Saint Andrew the Apostle. Later, as the Russian Empire developed from a collection of principalities and states, the centre of the church transferred from Kiev to Moscow.

Metropolitan Makariy
of Moscow, in the
Apostolic Succession of
the Patriarchate. Last
Metropolitan of 
Moscow in the Russian
Empire before the
Bolshevik Revolution. 
Patriarch Nikon was of particular importance in the history of the Eastern Church and the Russian Empire. He was very close to the Tsar, Aleksey Mikhaylovich. With the support of the Tsar and in consultation with the Greek Orthodox leadership and scholars, he undertook reforms of the Russian liturgy, leaving his mark on the faith through the present day. Despite the conflict with the Western Church, he took a much more canonical and conciliatory stance. In opposition to some in church leadership, this included making it clear that Latin Rite Christians who converted to Russian orthodoxy did not need to be baptized again. Also, while the Tsar was away from Moscow military campaign, Patriarch Nikon was left in charge of the state at home.

Indeed, this important and concrete ecclesiastical link between Western Rome and the Russian Empire as a successor to the Eastern Roman Empire, the Russian Empire, should serve as a reminder that Christ unites us all. Ut unum sint - may we all be one.