Monday, September 18, 2006

Pope Embraces Orthodox Church

In his quoting of14th-century Byzantine emperor, Manuel II Palaeologus the Pope is not quoting a Latin/Catholic Church father but rather a member of the old church, the Byzantine Orthodox Church. The Church of Russia rather than the Catholic Church of Rome or the church of Paris or the Holy Roman Empire. Who was the Emperor the Pope quoted. An Emperor and consequently the Head of the Orthodox Church, which the Pope convinently did not mention the latter role.

An Emperor and Church Father who ruled at the time of the begining of the Ottoman Empire and Turkish expansion. At the time of the historic Dracula and the Balkan wars against the Turks.

At a time when Europe once again would leave Byzantium to its fate under the Muslims because of Catholic sectarianism. Just as Catholic Europe had deserted it before during the Crusades, when it wasn't raping it on the way to Jerusalem.

Of course this is also a clever backhanded compliment a slap at the Omnipotence of the Orthodox Church as much as it's a slap at Islam.

This is very important the Pope was thus killing two birds with one stone in quoting Palaeologos. He condemns as outmoded the idea of the Orthodox Church being the New Rome. And he attacks Religion, read Islam, as political state military power, since the Vatican asa Spirtual City State perse has none. The Popes reading is that Islam remains too closely tied to State Power. Of course the role of the State in Catholic countries in the world can also be looked at, so people who live in glass houses....

Telling is the comment by Baum aboutManuels letters and writings....
Just as in the sixty-eight preserved letters between 1383 and 1417 few specific, day-to-day news items are to be found, so also in his theoretical writings the emperor distances himself from every-day reality.

Just as this current Pope has.Vatican experts say Pope 'unrepentant'

Orthodoxy and Islam

The Balkan Orthodox view on Islam in the context of the Ottoman conquest and rule during the 14th-15th century

Dialog with one "Persian"/ of the emperor Manuel II Palaeologos /1391-1423/. The writing is valuable because of its original character. It should be considered as one of the few polemic writings in the Byzantine tradition based on private observation and direct contact with Muslims. The author also shows deep knowledge of the Byzantine tradition and the previous polemic writings against Islam. The book of M. Palaeologos is written in the end of the 14th century and is a kind of record of his conversation with a Muslim scholar /muderis = professor/ in Ankara, in whose house the emperor spent the winter of 1391. There are many reasons to include this source in our survey. First, as we already mentioned the story is based on a real dialogue between the author and a learned Muslim . Second, the writing is providing us with Islamic teachings, unknown till then in the Byzantine tradition. For example, the teaching about the mortality of the angels; the existence of logic among the animals; That Mohammed has a higher place in the Heaven hierarchy than the angels, etc. Third, the thoughts of Manuel II Palaeologos about the Byzantine political doctrine. He dropped behind the traditional Byzantine view that the only true religion - Christianity is spread through the world by the only legitimate empire - Byzantine and by the only legitimate emperor, the emperor of Constantinople - the New Rome. For him the state and military success are not a part and do not come to confirm the truth of particular religious system. In his writing we see a refusal of the doctrine about the messianic role of Byzantine in the world's history as a unifier of the Oicumene.

Manuel II Palaeologus (1350 - July 21, 1425) was intellectual, soldier, statesman, and Byzantine emperor (1391-1425). He was son of John V Palaeologus, and when his father died, in February 1391, he escaped fron the turkish camp where he was kept as prisoner, and came to Constantinople to regain his throne (he had been crowned co-emperor in September 1373). The situation of the Greek Empire was desperate. Turks had conquered most of the byzantine provinces, had devastated and pillaged the big cities and had enslaved thousands women, young boys and girls. Manuel was forced to pay tribute to the Sultan Bayezid and was forced to follow him to his raids against the Greek cities. His chagrin was strong when he observed the Ottomans destroy and plunder the cities of Euxenus Pontus (Black Sea) and other cities of Minor Asia. When he asked Turks the names of christian cities that were pillaged and devastated, he received the answer: "the way we destroy them their name is also disappearing from earth...".

In 1396, Manuel made a journey to western Europe to appeal for help. He was graciously received in Rome, Milan, London, and Paris; he stayed in the french capital for two years. His visit did much to promote cultural ties between Byzantium and the West, but military aid was not forthcoming. As the historian Runciman describes "the french and english aristocracy received the king of Greeks with honor and respect and the intellectuals were happy to exchange views with such a sophisticated and educated person. They had already come in acquaintance with the classical greek studies thanks to Chrysoloras Manuel who was a pioneer in spreading Greek literature in the West."

Despite the agreement no military help came from the west. Europeans in reality prefered to support Muslims and not the Orthodox Christians. The same time, people and clergy back in Constantinople opposed to the union while emperor and army were in favor of it.

Manuel II PALAIOLOGOS (1391-1425 A.D.)

Wilhelm Baum
Univeristät Graz, Austria

After his father's death, Manuel fled from the sultan's camp and hastened to Constantinople, in order to forestall his nephew's plans. After his return, he married (on the tenth of February, 1392) Helena Dragash, the daughter of the Serbian prince Constantine of Serres. In the national museum in Sofia is preserved an icon which empress Helena had brought along for her father who fell in battle against the Turks in 1395. Both Manuel and Helena were crowned by the patriarch Antony IV. The archimandrite Ignatius of Smolensk has left us a description of the coronation. The pompous ceremony was supposed to strengthen the people's morale and demonstrate self-confidence.

Byzantium, however, held to the bitter end onto the dogma that its ruler was the only legitimate emperor and hence was the head of the civilized world. Nonetheless Antony stressed in 1393 in his missive to the Grand Prince that precisely because of the Turks' stranglehold the exceptional position of the emperor in the Christian world had to be emphasized. "The emperor occupies in the church that place which no other secular ruler can occupy. Many other emperors in the course of history have advanced religion, summoned ecumenical councils, confirmed the canons, fought against heresies, set up primacies (i.e., rankings of patriarchal seats) as well as provinces and dioceses. All this justifies their value and their place in the church.... patriarchs, metropolitans, and bishops therefore everywhere respect the name of the emperor... For Christians there is no church without emperor.

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