Part V from the book I’m reading, The Keys of This Blood by Malachi Martin (New York, Simon & Schuster, 1990, p 288).
This is remarkable, although, I've been finding out, typical. We are viewed in such thoroughly secular terms that Catholics think if we don't have their idea of enough political clout, then our "ancient tradition ... today avails them not."
For John Paul, the pathos of their [Orthodox] position is accentuated by the fact that these groups are heirs to an ancient tradition that today avails them not. Within that tradition, they have an instinct for the georeligious and, therefore, for the geopolitical. But the passage of time and the development of circumstances exclude them from that georeligious and geopolitical stance they feel in their bones as part of their heritage, part of their mandate and part of their reason for existence as religious groups.
Because they climbed into their positions by breaking with the Roman papacy and so abandoned their only realistic hope of georeligious status, John Paul looks upon them with a special solicitude. But he knows that as they now stand, their future lies down one of two pathways. Either they will remain lodged in relative isolation in their historical crevasses, holding on to their traditions. Or, as some of them have already shown an inclination to do, they will decide to accept some forms of merger with the various tides advancing on their positions. Beyond that, any final and satisfactory relief of their pathos must await near-future historical events of a worldwide magnitude.
In the meantime, because of their past they exercise a certain political influence of a localized nature, with which John Paul must reckon. The Russian Orthodox Church centered in the Patriarchate of Moscow not only wields considerable influence over some 100 million members, it also becomes the consenting, if unwilling, handmaiden of the Soviet Party-State. Its major officials accepted positions in the KGB. Its authorities acquiesced in the massacre of thousands of Roman Catholic clergy and accepted —as spoils of war — many Roman Catholic churches and institutions. Indeed, today, at least one solid faction in the Patriarchal Church is virulently antipapal. Throughout the remaining branches of Eastern Orthodoxy there persists a deeply buried antipapal and anti-Roman prejudice; it is felt that any aggrandizement of the papacy can only come at the cost of Orthodox dignity and privilege.
We do not see any pathos at all in our situation. In fact, we rejoice to be in much better circumstances, currently, than we usually have been throughout our history. (This was less so when the book was published, 1990.)
Granted, there are few Greeks who wouldn't like to see a new Byzantium of some sort. But this is definitely not any part of the Orthodox Faith, much less any part of our reason for existing. There is no such thing as any "mandate" in our religion either, to acquire political power. In fact, quite the opposite; our mandate is to divest ourselves of eveything worldly. We pray for any bishop who develops a lust for political power or any other fleshly ambition; and we seek to correct him, whether by admonition or (in extreme cases) by demonstration. He ceases to carry much weight with us. He may even find himself the object of ridicule.
No, really, for the Orthodox, it is not about "dignity and privilege" and never has been. Please, God, let it never be.
No, it is not prejudice that causes us to reject papal supremacy. (Why would you promote such a slur?) The issue is primarily theological.
But yes, there are also some bad feelings, reinforced by very sad experience. Forget dignity and privilege; historically, it's our homes and/or our lives have been at stake. (Pun intended.) And we're not speaking only of ancient experience, either, so please skip the uncharitable part about us nursing ancient grudges. No, we're talking also about what is happening up to and including the present day. For only one example, didn't I just post a description of how Pope John Paul II planned to subvert the Orthodox Church and culture and use her people as political pawns? All in the name of fostering closer ties with us. If that's what "closer ties" means, how can you expect us not to shy away?
Finally, here's a puzzle for you: we find our ancient tradition avails us everything; yes, everything. If this surprises you, please go and try to find out what it means.