Pope Gregory the Great VS The Patriarch of Constantinople
Saint Gregory was consecrated Pope and Bishop of Rome, in Saint Peter’s Basilica. He was almost fifty years old. He was wan and tired and ill, but for fourteen years, in sheer love of God and conformity to His Holy Will where he served with extreme humility Our Lord’s One True Church in Rome The Catholic Church saying, he founded Western Christendom.” He called himself not ecumenical bishop, as did the proud Patriarch of Constantinople, John “the Faster,” but “servant of the servants of God.” Saint Gregory had years before, in the East, seen through John’s affectation of shabby clothes and advertised charities and fasts, and he had said of him, “Would it not be better for him to eat meat than to soil his lips with falsehood? Of what use is it to fast, if one is puffed up with pride; or to dress shabbily, if one is clothed in vanity; or to appear like a lamb, if one really has the teeth of a wolf?” Gregory called himself the “servant of the servants of God,” in rebuke to the grasping Patriarch’s appropriation of the title of ecumenical, for he knew that John was using ecumenical in the sense of universal, in another attempt to take for the Bishop of Constantinople the prerogatives of the Bishop of Rome, the universal Father of Christendom. And when John’s friends tried to justify him and accused Pope Gregory of making too much of a “mere question of words,” the Pope answered them: “A mere affair of a title, a simple question of words! That is easily said! When Antichrist calls himself God, then dare to say: A mere affair of a title, a simple question of words!” “For all who know the Gospel,” he wrote the Emperor Maurice, “it is common knowledge that the charge of the whole Church was entrusted by the voice of the Lord to the holy Apostle Peter, chief of all the Apostles. . . . Peter received the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, the power of binding and loosing, the charge of the whole Church, the Principate over it; yet he is not called the universal Apostle; and John as bishop endeavors to be called universal bishop!