What “Consensus” Is Pope Francis Talking About?

Well, they’re at it again.

Ordinarily, Yours’ Truly likes to take a two to three day breather after publishing an essay or posting a news-story on Monomakhos. It gives everybody a chance to catch up on things, think about them and engage in a conversation if they feel so inclined.

I especially like doing so after posting a piece that is educational, especially if it has something to do with history, Patristics or Scripture.

Unfortunately, something broke which I believe to be controversial and/or may intend something for the future that is troubling. Many thanks to Gail Sheppard for sending me this news-story from RadioVaticana. It provides for some interesting reading.

The money quote is here: “The consensus reached by Catholics and Orthodox on certain fundamental theological principles regulating the relationship between primacy and synodality in the life of the Church in the first millennium can serve to evaluate, even critically, some theological categories and practices which evolved during the second millennium in conformity with those principles. Such consensus may enable us a common way of understanding the exercise of the ministry of the Bishop or Rome, in the context of synodality and at the service of the communion of the Church in the present context.”

Personally, I have no problem with the ecclesiology of the Church as it was found in the first millennium. The idea of an (Orthodox) Bishop of Rome as primus inter pares is unobjectionable. (This of course is in stark contrast to Metropolitan Elpidophorous Lambrianides’ claims that the EP is primus sine pares* but that’s a story for another day.)

What’s really interesting to me however is the salutation: Bartholomew is called “His Holiness” not “His All-Holiness”.

To a protocol-obsessed Church like the See of Constantinople, such a slight would not go unnoticed. Indeed, the Phanar (to my knowledge) has not released this letter, at least to the so-called Diaspora, where it has tried mightily to promulgate its supremacists claims via the Canon 28 mythology, lo these many years. To my mind, the excision of the qualifier “All” from the EP’s title is not helpful in this regard.

To Gail and to my other correspondents: keep up the good work. As long as Monomakhos is around, I’ll keep on shining the spotlight where it needs to be shined. After all, as Thomas Jefferson said, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant”.

As for the letter itself, you can read the letter for yourself below:


*”First without equals” as opposed to “first among equals”.


  1. Russians habitually refer to Patriarch Bartholomew as “His Holiness” rather that “His All Holiness” as well. I’m not sure it is a slight:


    Святейший Патриарх Константинопольский Варфоломей = His Holiness Bartholomew, Patriarch of Constantinople

    That being said, the devil is in the details. Rome considers many facets of Papal Supremacy implicit in first millenium Christianity which Orthodoxy has always rejected. Moreover, they would have to basically redact large swathes of their stated faith regarding such things as indulgences, purgatory, created grace, the Double Procession, etc and, as a practical matter at least, admit they were wrong about all of this stuff.

    In doing that, which is the minimum required to extricate them from heresy, they would be admitting to the world that they are not indeed the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. There is not way out of the box they have created for themselves other than a) seducing the Orthodox into heresy or b) admitting their own heresy.

    So don’t hold your breath.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Misha, re how the Russians salute the EP, you’re absolutely right. However, this particular salutation comes from the Pope and in the past, the Pope has acceded to the EP’s request that the latter be addressed as “Your All-Holiness”.

      Mark my words: it’s not in the Roman DNA to accept the concept of “Eastern Pope”. And any Canon 28 mythologist who believes so is setting himself up for a very big fall.

      • Oh, I agree with you, George. That is the most fascinating thing about the whole Phanar ego trip. They are courting the most powerful egotists in the world, Papists. Best case scenario, Patriarch Bartholemew is setting himself up to lose much of his jurisdiction and be reduced to one among many of the “Eastern Catholic” leadership.


        It may have some perks, but that is the bottom line. As if the Turks would be impressed that he were Catholic rather than Orthodox.


      • fr Chris Moody says

        The literal translation of ΠΑΝΑΓΙΟΤΑΤΟΣ is pan- all holy-agiotatos. Like the panagia is all holy. The title derives from the old testament arch priest who wore the mitre holiness to the Lord. Not advocating more than tradition, but it is technically correct.

        • Father I can assure you the Ecumenical Patriarch is not holy like the Panagia is holy. No living man or woman is. It is an aggrandizement not befitting any Orthodox Christian much less our spiritual leader. You wonder why our Churches are emptying and closing at record pace? Look at our bishops. They are largely venal self-centered men who do not reflect the uncreated light of God. The exceptions are few and far between. We Orthodox in America are not that light on a hill. If you are telling yourself something different, with all respect to your priesthood, you are deluded.

  2. Tim R. Mortiss says

    Heck, even I only require my kids and grandkids to call me “Your Holiness, Patriarch [Tim]”. I only aspire to Holiness, not “All Holiness”!

    Isn’t there something perhaps…presumptuous….about “All Holiness”? If one of the said kids or grandkids called me All, I’d figure a request for money would follow…..

    • I’m envious, Tim. All I get is, “Hey…ahhh…can…I…maybe have…? I asked mom (or grandma), and she said to ask you.” Oh well. At least I can glory in the latter part.

  3. Gail Sheppard says

    Does anybody here know what “consensus” they reached? This is why the EP is so dangerous. These conversations should not be occurring in this fashion. The EP is not free to come to a “consensus” with anyone on our theology, let alone a heretic.

    Even if the Pope agreed to be a bishop it would not make it so because he is not Orthodox. He would have to come into the Church like everybody else, and be put in the position of Metropolitan over one of several ecclesiastical jurisdictions that already exist in Italy. I doubt he’d find them palatable. Nor they, him. His followers would have to go into the Church under one of the Holy Synods in their own territories. None of the cardinals would be able to become bishops as they, too, are not Orthodox and their respective territories already have bishops.

    Unless of course, the “consensus” is that there is primacy and everything falls under the Pope, including the EP. The EP would then announce to the world that he speaks for all Orthodox and he is now our new cardinal.

    What am I missing?

    No matter how you slice it, any consensus they could have reached would have huge implications.

  4. Correct title: His Most Divine All-Holiness the Archbishop of Constantinople–wow!! Even Jesus would be impressed and maybe jealous.

  5. Well ROme doesn’t need Orthodox money, not that it would reject it. It may be an attempt to convince the pagan world religions that we will agree to any ecumenical system that ,at least on paper puts all Christianity under the Pope’s mantel. Or at least appears that way. The Co-Redeem tress elevation of the Mother of God appears to pagans as the Horus/Isis temp-let with different names, which makes her of Divinity equal to the Trinity. She is fully human and is now as She has always been the Handmaid of the Lord. The pagans won’t notice.

  6. Tim R. Mortiss says

    “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
    And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone”.

    “Sorry. All Holiness, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

  7. What a ridiculous title for the EP. In Greek All Holiness is pan agios. We call the Theotokos the Panagia. How presumptuous to claim the title used for God’s Holy Mother. The whole thing is ridiculous. The floor length gold and purple silk robes. The two pound gold crosses. The mitres and scepters that look like accouterments from the Byzantine Inperial Court. I think the simple shepherd who knelt to humbly wash his friends feet to show an example of humility and love cannot be happy with what we do in his name.

    • George Michalopulos says


    • Constaninos says

      Dear Michael,
      You are a man of keen observation and eminent good sense. The Orthodox prelates love their fancy titles and pompous attire. They set a terrible example. To George: it is totally inappropriate for the Patriarch of Moscow to wear a watch that costs thousands of dollars. If a lay man gave it to him, he should sell it and distribute the proceeds to the poor. I have no problem with a Christian businessman wearing a Rolex President watch, driving a luxury car, and living in a mansion, but not the clergy. Also, what a person has been given by God is between the Lord and that person. I neither need nor want any lectures by clergymen on how much I should give to the church. Tithing is not taught in the New Testament. God wants a cheerful giver. If a man has a ten million dollar annual income, obviously a million dollars in giving to the church is way too much. It deprives the other parishioners from giving. Nowhere in all the New Testament does it suggest a Christian must give ten percent of his gross income to a house of worship. Besides, there are a plethora of worthy charities that probably make better use of their donations than does the church. If any priest tells me I must tithe, it’s basa la adios- kiss it goodbye. Remember: Jesus never said, ” Give to the church and you will have treasure in heaven.” He said, ” Sell all you have, give it to the poor,come follow me,and you will have treasure in heaven.” Our first priority is to the poor. Always has been, always will be.

      • Constaninos

        Okay, but you are only joking about the Greeks rising again and being Greek is to be a real man – you are kidding, right?

        • Constaninos says

          Billy Jack Sunday,
          Kidding Merry Christmas!

        • Constaninos says

          Billy Jack Sunday,
          As we all know, President Trump has had an extremely successful first year in office. The thing I am most grateful to President Trump for is his restoration of Merry Christmas to the public sphere. It thrills me to hear everyone saying Merry Christmas again. Thank goodness, the patronizing, offensive “happy holidays” has been dumped. Now if the advertisers would cease saying “the holidays” and “the holiday season” my cup will have runneth over. Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!

          • George Michalopulos says

            Constantinos, if I may: I work in retail as y’all may or may not know and yes, I’ve noticed people saying to me “Merry Christmas!” It’s caught on I’d say within the last 48 hours. I don’t know how the Trump presidency will end when all is said and done (and I do hope and pray that it will be spectacularly successful) but if nothing else, it seems that a pall has been lifted from the ordinary people of our nation.

            I also saw on Tucker Carlson the other night a Moslem gentleman who used those words and was very respectful of Christianity. In answer to Carlson’s question as to how Moslems would feel if Christians started immigrating to their lands and building churches and demanding BLTs in restaurants, the fellow gave a very pointed and respectful response that his group and others are helping Moslem nations like the Gulf states, Malaysia, Indonesia, Jordan, etc integrate Christian immigrants and guest workers, helping them build churches, and overall advising these Islamic nations how to peacefully deal with Christian immigration.

            Now mind you, I haven’t verified what he said but the point of my response is that the anti-Christian/pro-Islamist tide in the West has turned with Trump’s presidency. I also see it in Mesoamerican migrants here in Oklahoma, all of a sudden they’ve become more respectful of America and are making honest efforts to speak English.

          • Someone will doubtless take offense at the restoration of “Merry Christmas” somehow being the work of Trump. They will argue that nothing his predecessor did ever prevented us from doing so, and they would be correct – in a sense.

            I suspect what actually happens is that a president’s election sets the tone in that it makes people feel either more wary or more free about expressing their Christian traditions to their neighbors because an election typically represents the mood of the majority in the country. A candidate who has expressed indifference or distaste, if not outright hostility, toward Christianity will tend to cause a suppression of cheerful expressions of faith, even though, admittedly, he himself may have done nothing to prevent them. A candidate who has appeared in a rally before a Christmas tree with the words “Merry Christmas” prominently and unashamedly displayed encourages these expressions because people feel that he represents the mood of their neighbors and have less fear of them taking offense.

            Even better is one who, both as candidate and as president, sets a liberating tone by freely wishing a hearty Merry Christmas to all, using his bully pulpit to encourage expressions of the traditions of Christian faith in the public sphere. And in this sense, whether they like him or not, it can be truly said that this restoration is, in fact, the work of Trump.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Brian, it’s definitely a matter of tone. And you’re right, the President sets it.

    • Greatly Saddened says

      Are these hierarchs supposed to be representatives of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ or of Byzantine Emperors?

      If of Byzantine Emperors, then that would explain all the pomp and circumstance, extravagant wardrobes and ornate accessories. Oh yes, and let us not forget … thrones too!

      • Fancy robes and watches and hats

        Overly groomed beards, manicures and pedicures

        It’s called metropolitan sexual

        Don’t judge

        Not everyone needs to stink like garlic and look like a Wookie

        Dolce and Gabbana has a new fragrance called “Hierarch” and are starting a new line of vestment accessories

        You should see the new handbags Versace has for the primate on the go

        • Billy Jack you owe me a new key board! I was drinking my coffee while reading your post and spit up a mouthful all over my computer!

          In truth you have given me a laugh better than I have had in at least a year.

          May God bless you and give you and yours a blessed Nativity of our Lord.

          I would also like to express my thanks to George for giving us this forum. Many times I agree with him, sometimes I do not. But without fail he treats us all with kindness and stimulates our intellect. Thank you George for challenging us and giving us this chance to engage with one another!

        • Correction

          My lady says the mentioned handbags are actually Louis Vuittan

          Minimal familiarity with and confusion of high-end merchandise . . . add that to my long list of reasons why I am unworthly and disqualified for holy orders

          • Greatly Saddened says

            BJS … thank you so much for your earlier post above. I haven’t laughed like this in a while. God Bless you and your great sense of humor. We all can use some levity in today’s complex world which we live in. Once again, thank you so much and as always, God bless you and your family as well.

            • Thanks and thanks for your consistent comtributing links and reflective commentary

              It is very important when these type of things happen that people can find information/resources (as it can be difficult to find for various reasons). Therefore, your contributions are are greatly helpful

              • Greatly Saddened says

                BJS … thank you so much for your very kind words. Thank God also to GM and his Monomakhos blog, which affords us the opportunity to express our thoughts with others on so many different topics. Once again, thank you and God Bless!

      • Some of the most humble and men in the world wore vestments like the Patriarch. Patriarch Bartholomew wears vestments and looks pretentious to some. The real problem is that he’s lost the trust and honor worthy of someone of his stature; that’s the issue.


        • Greatly Saddened says

          Unfortunately the same can be said of the GOA. The people we should be looking up to as role models seem to have let us down. Time and time again. We seem to no longer have role models which we or more importantly, our children can look up to. May it be in politics, sports and so sadly, even religious institutions. They decided to become clerics and most of all hierarchs. With that comes responsibility, trust, and accountability to themselves and to their faithful. Yes, we are humans and have failings, but isn’t there anything that is sacred any longer? I guess not!

  8. Menas Moralotos says

    Remember when Lulurgas wanted to scam us with his stolen icon and the mafia went out looking for it? So, it should not surprise you that Latos and Fillas are in bed with Italians, because the Italians tell Greek kids “You are all grown up now, you should come to a REGULAR Catholic church”. That is why they encourage extremists in our churches, to discredit us and take our children. They treat us like aberrant children who need to come to our senses and rejoin Rome.

  9. And then there’s this:


  10. Veras Coltroupis says
  11. Matthew Panchisin says

    Dear Father Chris Moody,

    The Orthodox Church doesn’t translate words outside of it’s authentic humble ethos. Raw scholastic minded articulations have always proven to be problematic to say the least. We have seen in the past that one can’t weaponize the good embedded intentions of Liddell-Scott without ones self.

    Dear Michael,

    Traditionally, we don’t have some sort of a supreme spiritual leader, that’s a rather obvious implicit contradiction.

    Ecclesiastical iskusheniye is the fruit of such a disposition.

    In Christ,

    Matthew Panchisin

    • fr Chris Moody says

      As a translator, I am intimately aware of that. The fact still stands. I am no grandiose advocate of an ep position by any stretch. But being a translator , and not merely parroting an lsj,as you seem to imply, I disagree. As a priest I am well aware of needing to have an ecclesiastical phronema and not mechanically translating You seem to be assuming that by the title it implies some sort of superiority, or that I somehow advocate such. I do not. Nor am I going to ascribe motives to another hierarch. I leave judgment to God, even when I disagree with a practice.

    • fr Chris Moody says

      With all due respect, brother Matthew, my ordained name is Chris(topher), not michael. You can call me any thing you want, just not late for dinner. Please do not assume others do not have an ecclesiastical phronema or be so judgmental. God bless you and yours this nativity season. In Christ, Fr Christopher Moody

  12. The title of this article by implication as well as the assigned photo with it –

    Those things combined makes for a complete misrepresentation of what is actually going on

    Licking the top of the pope’s head totally gets you high

  13. “The Orthodox Church doesn’t translate words outside of it’s authentic humble ethos. Raw scholastic minded articulations have always proven to be problematic to say the least.”

    How I rejoice to hear this articulated so succinctly and so well! If only the academic ‘theologians’ (so-called) had the humility to submit their minds to the Mind of Christ in His Church. How beautiful and profitable, full of truth and love, is scholarship disciplined by submission! And how ugly, divisive and thoroughly un-theological is the scholarship of the proud.

  14. fr Chris Moody says

    Yes the only place for interpretation is the mind of Christ, for the Spirit gives the gift of interpretation according to St. Paul. But I will refuse to go against Christ and the example of Paul, and ascribe motives to a hierarch on account of using a title, which has precedence for usage in scripture. The invectives I see throughout this site here are NOT the phronema of the church but more protestant minded zeal. The Holy Spirit does not abide among that rancor. Merry Christmas.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Fr, you are of course right re phronema and all tha but do you not see that the title itself is scandalous? I stand by what I said: having been in the GOA for the first 45 years of my life and experiencing both the archpastorates of both Athenagoras and Demetrius, I never remember that honorific being used. Ever.

      In defense of those who are scandalized (such as myself) by such a questionable title, I’ve come to a place in my life where I observe a simple rule regarding the phronema of the Church: if you have to scratch out an arguable doctrine from more than two layers of Scripture and/or Tradition, then you probably shouldn’t elevate it to the level of dogma and should just let it lie.

      That’s just my opinion, Fr. I mean no offense.

    • Fr, Christopher,

      My intention was to praise the statement I quoted form his post. I have no trouble with titles as such. I don’t think they are intended as modern minds tend hear them.

  15. Matthew Panchisin says

    Dear Fr Christopher Moody,

    When obvious issues are presented, there is nothing wrong with Orthodox Christians who keep the tradition of requesting that the bishops, priests, and deacons stand aright.

    In Christ,

    Matthew Panchisin