Interference is not entirely unprecedented, Dr. Ines Murzaku, professor of Ecclesiastical History and Founding Chair of the Department of Catholic Studies at Seton Hall University, told Crisis Magazine in an email interview.
However, severing communion with churches not under the patriarch’s jurisdiction as a final measure, she explained, is unprecedented. Bartholomew has excommunicated individuals before, but the individuals have been under his jurisdiction.
“Interference and pressure to excommunicate might sound more as rules/jurisdiction that apply in the West,” Murzaku elaborated. “The patriarch might be viewed by many as ‘the Pope of the East’ or ‘Orthodox Pope’” with this level of interference.
Generally, an autocephalous church will resolve internal problems independently, she said. But she also said Bartholomew does have a “primacy of honor” over all of the other bishops.
“He has no real jurisdiction,” Murzaku pointed out, “but on issues that he considers important, he can provide advice which benefits the unity of the Church.”
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