Saturday, April 16, 2016


Meet Father Leonidas Contos.

A rather dapper, sophisticated and distinguished man, wouldn't you think? And he was.

It was 1988 and I needed to take a class from outside the Dominican school of theology where I was matriculating.

The Dominican school was one of nine different theology schools that made up a consortium. To ensure that students took classes in more than one school, it was required that students take no less than one third of their classes from schools other than the one they were registered at.

I was loathe to take any classes from the Protestant schools (all far left liberal). I couldn't find an enticing class at that time with the Jesuits and the Franciscans, so I decided to take a class with the Greek Orthodox! At least they believed in the divinity of Jesus, had valid orders and greatly esteemed the Virgin Mary!

On the first day of class, I sat down with two other students. Yes, there were only three of us taking some class with Father (and Doctor) Leonidas Contos, a Greek Orthodox priest who sounded and acted more like an English parson. Cool, suave, debonair. Always in clerical collar and tweed jacket. A native of Connecticut, he earned his doctorate from Oxford.

He spoke in soft tones and leisurely, as if he were speaking to a handful of intimates, and he was!

We were graded on only one thing - a final paper at the end of the semester.

I decided to write a paper showing how even the Greek Church in the early centuries believed in papal supremacy as evidenced by their actions. I read the early Greek church histories : Eusebius, Socrates and Sozomen. Greek historians for a Greek professor!

I tried to show from the Greek historians themselves that, in practice, if not by explicit statements, the Greeks looked to the Bishop of Rome as having the final say in church controversies. I showed how Athanasius and many other orthodox bishops fled to Rome when the Arians took control of diocese after diocese. How the Bishop of Rome believed he had the right to scold erring bishops in the East and order them to set things right. And how eastern bishops bristled at papal reprimands. Obviously, eastern bishops felt the weight of Roman pronouncements. So forth and so on.

When I got my paper back, I saw that Father Contos gave me a B+.

A small sacrifice to make in defense of papal supremacy!

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