Do Forced Replacements of Their Orthodox Predecessors Have Apostolic Succession?
By Protopresbyter John S. Romanides
The question before us is quite simple. We [some] are engaged in types of Ecumenist Movements whose end purpose is to reunite Christian Churches. However, certain historical facts have been swept under the carpet and out of sight which cause complications in this effort. Such invisible facts do not allow full treatment of the question of apostolic succession. Perhaps one of these facts swept under the carpet is that there are synods of bishops who derive their episcopal succession from bishops who caused the removal of synods of Orthodox bishops of the vanquished. We will deal briefly with specific instances whereby the Roman Orthodox bishops of the Papacy were forcefully replaced, first by turncoat Roman lackeys of the Franks and then by the Franks themselves.. Then we will turn our attention to the orthodox bishops of the British Isles who were removed from their Churches at the instigation of the Frankish Papacy which had instigated the Norman invasion of England. These Norman conquerors and their allies condemned the Orthodox leadership of the British Isles as schismatics and heretics and imprisoned them for life and replacing them with themselves.
But this type of research may be applied also in such cases wherein the Orthodox themselves may have forcefully replaced non Orthodox leaders with themselves. This had happened during the times of the Nine Roman Ecumenical Councils, whereby condemned heretics were replaced by the Orthodox according to Roman law. The theory behind this was strangely medical. In other words Orthodoxy is a cure of the sicknesses which stem from fantasies which are cured by the purification and illumination of the heart and glorification. The fantasies in question originate from an electrical short circuit between the spinal fluid and the blood fluid. These fantasies are the main tools by which humanity is ruled by either the devil or by mental sicknesses. This short circuit is repaired by the unceasing prayer in the heart called illumination which leads to illumination of the heart and perhaps to glorification which is ordination to prophethood in the Old and New Testament and within the Body of Christ since Pentecost. The lack of this tradition is the main cause of today’s disunion among Christians because each group is ruled by their peculiar fantasies.
Roman Popes and Franco-Latin Popes
The key to the transition of the Orthodox Catholic Tradition from an illegal to a legal religion and then to an established Church lies in the fact that the Roman Empire realized that it was not confronted simply by another form of religion or philosophy, but by a well organized society of psychiatric clinics which cured the happiness-seeking sickness of humanity and produced normal citizens with selfless love dedicated to the radical cure of personal and social ills. The relation between State and Church which developed was exactly parallel to that between the State and modern medicine.
The incorporation of the episcopate of Carolingian Francia into the Frankish army and its occupation by military officers whose duty was to pacify the revolutionary Gallo-Roman population is the key to understanding the so-called Great Schism between Roman and Latin Christendoms. These Frankish bishops and their successors never understood the meaning of Apostolic Tradition and succession which they reduced to episcopal power over a system of sacramental magic which sends people either to heaven or hell. This they transferred to the Papacy when they forcefully took it over during a struggle which reached its final stages between 983 and 1046.
This break in Apostolic Tradition and succession was provoked and sustained for centuries by military and political power as a normal function within Latin Christendom. Considered just as normal was the distortion of both the reality of the East Roman Empire and its Church and civilization which continues today under modified guise. This guise caked in “Byzantine” honey does not change distortion into truth.
Canon Law makes specific provisions for the regular convocation of the Synods of bishops presided over by a Metropolitan, Archbishop, or Patriarch at regular intervals for dealing with the proper execution of the Church’s mission of cure within society. There are no such provisions for Ecumenical Councils.
The reason for this is that the local synods were part of the original structure of the Church, whereas the Ecumenical Synod was of an extra-ordinary and imperial nature. One may draw a parallel between Ecumenical Councils and the Apostolic Council convoked in Jerusalem (Acts 15, 6:6-29). Ecumenical Councils, however, were convoked by the Roman Emperor for the purpose of signing into Roman Law what the synods of Autocephalous and Autonomous Churches believed and practiced in common.
Arius, Nestorius and Eutyches were condemned by local Councils first and then by Ecumenical Councils. Paul of Samosata was condemned by a local council whose decision was accepted by all other synods. The same was the case with Sabellius. Even at Ecumenical Councils bishops participated as members of their own synods whose spokesmen were their Metropolitans, Archbishops, and Patriarchs, or their legates. It should be clear that neither can an Ecumenical Council become a substitute for local synods, nor can local synods take precedence over an Ecumenical Council, unless the one or the other strays from the faith. The reason for this is that authority resides neither in the Ecumenical nor Local Council, but in the glorified Prophets, Apostles and Fathers who participate in Councils or whose teachings the Councils follow.
The method underlying this presentation is rather simple. The New Testament writers and the Fathers read back into history their own experience of purification and illumination of the heart and glorification which they identify with that of the Prophets of all ages beginning at least with Abraham. This is parallel to repetition of cure in medical science passed on from doctors to doctors, except that in this case Christ is the doctor Who personally cures and perfects His doctors in both the Old and New Testaments. This historical succession of cure and perfection in the Lord of Glory, both before and after His incarnation, is the heart and core of the Biblical and Patristic Tradition and the Synodical System.
Biblical Faith is one’s co-operation with the Holy Spirit Who initiates the cure of the sickness of possessive love in the heart and transforms it into love which does not seek its own. This cure is consummated in glorification (theosis) and constitutes the heart of the Orthodox Catholic Church, which replaced paganism as the core of the Hellenic Civilization of the Roman Empire.
Political architects whose historians report ‘ history within the context of their plans for the future claim that the world is being Westernized by means of technology and economics. Orthodox Civilization is listed among those which are arrested.
Their claim that the Hellenic Civilization of the Roman Empire disappeared in the 8th century and was replaced in the East by a “Byzantine” Civilization and Empire and in the West by a European Civilization is a modern modification of Charlemagne’s theology of history.
Charlemagne (768-814) fabricated this disappearance of the Roman Empire and its Civilization in order to solve a family problem. His grandfather, Charles Martel (715-741), had finally suppressed Gallo-Roman revolutions in the battles of Poitiers and Provence in 732 and 739, which were supported by Arabs and Numidian Romans who, together with the Spanish Romans, had recently overthrown the Goths in Spain (711-719). The Numidian Romans were under the command of Constantinople’s governor of Mauritania in Ceuta. Another Gallo-Roman revolution was suppressed by Charlemagne’s father and uncle in 742, the year he was born.
Charlemagne had to find a way to break the religious and cultural unity between his own enslaved Romans and the Roman Empire which now extended from parts of Italy to the frontiers of Persia. He devised a plan to convince his subjugated Romans that the Papal States, called Romania and Res Publica Romana, under his family’s control since 756, was all that was left of the Roman Empire. The rest of the Empire would become “heretical” and therefore a hateful “Greece”, inhabited not by Romans, but by “Greeks”, and headed not by an Emperor of the Romans, but by an Emperor of “Greeks”. The Franks called the Empire Roman for the last time in their Libri Carolini which attack the Empire as pagan and heretical. The Franks then decided by their Council of Frankfurt in 794 to give the names Graeci to the free Romans and Graecia to free Romania. This became Franco-Latin customary law.
Since the time of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great we have the beginning of a development which led to the Pentarchy of Roman Popes and Patriarchates: 1. Old Rome, 2. Constantinople New Rome, 3. Alexandria, 4. Antioch and 5. Jerusalem. The two Romes became equals as Capitals with Old Rome having precedence over New Rome. This arrangement remained intact until the Franks liberated the Roman Papacy from the Lombard threat. Then Charlemange decided to call the East Romans Greeks and heretics. The last time that Charlemange called the Eastern part of the Empire Roman and heretic was in his Libri Carolini. Thenceforth the Roman Empire in the East became for the Franks heretical and Greek and the Emperor a Greek heretic.
The modern guardians of this Carolingian law 1) replaced “Greek” with “Byzantine”, and “heresy” with “change of Civilization”. 2) Following Napoleon’s plans for the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and of the ecclesiastical remains of the Roman Empire within it, these same guardians destroyed the legal identity of the citizens of Greece with the Romans of Constantinople, by presenting them as having been under the yoke of this so-called “Byzantine Empire”. 3) They have used this fabrication to Balkanize the “Roman Milet” and dissolve its Ecumenical Patriarchate of New Rome Constantinople in the process.
Turning back to 8th century Western Europe we are indeed confronted by real and radical changes. Europe is dominated in its center by the Empire of Charlemagne. Gothic Spain is overrun by Arabs and Numidian Romans, who together had fought as liberators of the Spanish Romans but ended up as their masters. These Numidians were converted to Islam several times according to Ibn Khaldoun.
The birth of Frankish Civilization is described in a letter of St. Boniface to Pope Zacharias (natione Graecus in 741. The Franks had rid the Church in Francia of all Roman bishops by 661 and had made themselves its bishops and clerical administrators. They had divided up the Church’s property into fiefs which had been doled out as benefices according to rank within the pyramid of military vassalage. These Frankish bishops had no Archbishop and had not met in Synod for eighty years. They had been meeting as army officers with their fellow war-lords. They are, in the words of St. Boniface, “voracious laymen, adulterous clergy and drunkards, who fight in the army fully armed and who with their own hands kill both Christians and pagans.”
Fifty three years later the successors to these illiterate barbarians condemned the East Roman Empire as “heretical” and “Greek” on Icons at their Council of Frankfurt in 794 and then on the Filioque at their Council of Aachen in 809. For 215 years the Roman Popes refused to conform to their Frankish masters on Icons and the Filioque.
These Frankish bishops were neither familiar with the Fathers of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, nor were they aware of, nor interested in learning anything about, illumination and glorification which were the presuppositions of these Councils. Between the end of the 8th and the l2th centuries the Franks were familiar only with St. Augustine, who was neither a Father of an Ecumenical Council, nor did he understand Biblical illumination and glorification, which he confounded with Neo-Platonic mysticism. He therefore did not understand the Apostolic Tradition and succession and deviated sharply from St. Ambrose who had baptized him. What the Franks finally accepted from the Eastern and Western Fathers they forced into Augustinian categories and so created the myth of Platonising Eastern Fathers, which is still dominant.
The Frankish bishops encountered by St. Boniface understood Apostolic succession as a magical power which allowed them to make it the property of their race and use it as the prime means of keeping their subjugated populations pacified by fear of their religious and military powers. Augustine’s theories about original sin and predestination helped them in this direction.
This schism between Franks and Romans expanded into a schism between Franco-Latin and Roman Christendom with their diametrically opposed understandings of the mission of bishops and their synods within the Church and in society. The Franks literally captured a medical association and transformed it into a quack medical association. The East Franks completed the job when they took over the Papacy definitively between 1012-1046.
While the Norman Franks were in process of expelling the Roman army from Southern Italy and of helping the Italo-Franks wrest the Papacy from the Franconian emperors, their Duke William of Normandy invaded England with Pope Alexander’s blessing in 1066. He had his Lombard friend, the “Blessed Saint” Lanfranc, the pope’s teacher, installed as the first non-Roman/Saxon Archbishop of Canterbury in 1070, and together they replaced all native bishops with Franco-Latins. All Celtic and Saxon bishops and abbots were dismissed en masse and sentenced to prison to die premature deaths by torture and starvation.. The new noblemen bishops from the Frankish Empire were in turn killed by the people whenever opportunity presented itself. Indeed the Saxons and Celts celebrated the death of Lanfranc in 1089 by launching their third and most severe revolt against the foreign intruders. Such reforms by military might became crusades in both East and West. They ultimately provoked the Protestant Reformation and met with little success among the East Romans and some among the Slavs.
This tradition of killer bishops, clergy and monks was given its near final theological foundation by “Saint” Bernard of Clairvaux in his sermons “De Laude novae militiae ad milites Templi” in which he argues that the religious Knight Templer “who kills for religion commits no evil but rather does good, for his people and himself. If he dies in battle, he gains heaven; if he kills his opponents, he avenges Christ. Either way, God is pleased.” Its final form was given by the Inquisition which condemned to death but usually turned executions over to laymen:
Orthodox Civilization may indeed become arrested, not, however, because of Westernisation; but because of strong doses of Franco-Latinisation introduced by Peter the Great (1682-1725), whose religious policies became the law of the Neo-Hellenic Nation in 1827.
Western Europe had been in a long process of De-Franco-Latinisation by means of powerful elements of Re-Greco-Romanisation, but not in its Apostolic form. Its embryo appeared in the l2th century with the rise of the middle class and went into labor during the Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation. It was born in the Enlightenment and matured during the American and French Revolutions. American and French Democracies, based on human rights and the equality of all citizens, began the progressive destruction of the class distinctions which had been imposed by the Franks and their allies, who had brought Latin Christendom into existence on the ruins of those parts of Roman Christendom they conquered, including the Papacy. Franco-Latin metaphysics, cosmology and psychology were made past history by parallel developments in modern science.
But this has neither all happened everywhere, nor at the same time. Royalties, nobilities, the Papacy, and those Reformation Churches which still serve as props for the remnants of Teutonic royalty and nobility, badly need the identification of Franco-Latin Civilization and Western Civilizations for their own survival.
It is exactly this identity which parts of the Reformation and the American and French Revolutions had rejected. However, over a period of time seem to be now accepting.
Having the above background in mind the reader himself can study the question of such examples as the APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION OF THE NORMAN AND FRANCO-LATIN SUCCESSORS OF THEIR ORTHODOX PREDECESSORS or else leave it to God Himself to decide, which He may have already done. This may be so especially since the bishops and clergy in question probably do not know that apostolic succession depends on the cure of the purification and illumination of the heart which leads to glorification, i.e. to ordination to prophethood. These criteria probably are applicable for most churches and religions, including many individual Orthodox and their leaders today.
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1. Part of a presentation at the VIth Meeting of the Lutheran – Orthodox Joint Commission 31/5 – 8/6/1991 Moscow, USSR. Revised for Sub-commission Meeting, June 17-21,1992, Geneva and printed in “THEOLOGIA” Vol. 63 * Issue 3 * July -September 1992.
2. See John S. Romanides, “Franks, Romans, Feudalism and Doctrine, an interplay between theology and society”, © Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1981, Brookline, Mass.
3. The exact date has been shifting from time to time.
4. Islamic Law provided for the self rule of each of the Jewish and Christian societies called a Milet.
5. i.e. a native of the Roman province, Magna Graecia, in Southern Italy.
6. Migne P. L. 89, 744; Mansi 12, 313-314.
7. For documented sources of the details of the murder of the Celtic and Saxon Bishops and abbots and their replacement by nobles from the Frankish realms of Francia, i.e. Gallia, Germania and Italia see Auguste Thierry, Histoire de la Conquête de l’Angleterre par les Normands, Paris 1843, vol. 2, pp. 147 (1071-1072), 215-219 (1075-1076), 284, 313-314, 318 (1087-1094); vol. 3, pp. 35 (1110-1138), 214-215 (1203).
8. Ibid. vol. 2, pp. 55;’ 66 (1068 ) 111,145,184 (1070-1072 ), 215 (1075-1076), 240-242 (1082), 313-316 (1088-1089); vol. 3, pp. 35, 44, 47 (1110-1140).
9. Ibid.; vol. 2, pp. 232, 236 (1080); vol. 3; pp. 27, 36-37; 39 (1110-1138), 55 (1141-1142); vol. 4, p. 349 (1387).
10. Ibid., vol, 2, p. 315.
11. Migne, P. L.182, .921-940.
12. As summarized in The History of Feudalism, edited by David Herlihy, 1970, p. 282-283.