Oecumenical (or Universal) Bishop

Oecumenical (Or Universal) Bishop is the title now assumed by the popes of Rome. It was stubbornly claimed by John the Faster, patriarch of Constantinople, in the end of the 6th century. The assumption of so lofty a title by Constantinopolitan patriarchs was strongly remonstrated against by the rival bishops of Rome, particularly by Gregory the Great, who maintained the title to be profane, antichristian, and infernal; and, in order to make sure of a clear claim of Rome's superiority over Constantinople, he assumed the appellation "Servus servorum Dei," in reference to Mt 23:10. (See Alzog; Kirchengesch. 1:341 [R. C.]; Soames, The Latin Ch. in Anglo-Saxon Times, p. 19; Neale, Hist. East. Ch. [Introd.], 1:29.) In A.D. 606, however, the Roman pontiff Boniface III obtained this very title from Phocas, the Greek emperor; and from that period down to the present day the pope of Rome claims to be the Oecumenical or Universal Bishop, having authority over the whole Church of Christ upon earth. All other churches except the Roman Catholic Church repudiate such a claim as alike unfunded, antichristian, and blasphemous.

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