Skip to comments.What would the Orthodox have to do to have unity? (Catholic/Orthodox unity)
Posted on 09/09/2006 3:04:19 PM PDT by Calvin Coollidge
Question: What would the Orthodox have to do to have unity
Father Thomas Hopko, a prominent Orthodox theologian, addresses a controversial topic in a visit here
EDITORS NOTE: Father Thomas Hopko is an Orthodox theologian and the dean emeritus of St. Vladimirs Orthodox Seminary in Crestwood, N.Y. He is a retired professor of dogmatic theology who lives in Ellwood City, Pa. Recently, he spoke to the St. John Chrysostom Society at a meeting held at St. John Orthodox Church in Campbell on the topic of what the Orthodox would have to do, despite our shared common heritage, before there could be unity with Catholicism. The topic seems of such importance to ecumenism that we include here, edited for length, his remarks that evening. The St. John Chrysostom Society works to foster unity and understanding between Roman Catholics and members of eastern-rite churches.
My topic is not what I as Orthodox believe would be required of Rome and the Roman Catholic Church for us to have unity, but rather what do I believe, being an Orthodox, that the Orthodox have to do? What is required of the Orthodox Church, particularly the bishops? What would they have to do in order to have the Eastern Orthodox churches and the Roman Catholic Church (Latin rite and Eastern churches) be in sacramental communion? Which would simply mean, be one church.
Because, if you re in Eucharistic communion, you are one church. Thats what makes the Church one. Its the unity in the body broken, the blood shed of Jesus before the face of God. Thats where the Church is actualized on earth in the celebration of the mysteries: baptism, chrism, Eucharist. Thats what makes us one. That is where the unity of our doctrine is shown, our unity of worship, our unity of morals, our ethics, the unity of spiritual life.
Now if a Roman Catholic were giving this talk and said, What do we require of the Orthodox? it would be a very different talk. Certainly one thing that is constantly required is that the Orthodox would recognize the bishop of Rome as the first bishop of Rome which, as I said last time [I spoke here], according to us, Peter was not. The first bishop of Rome, according to us, was Linus.
But in any case, the Roman Catholics would make different requirements; they would require certain other things from the Orthodox for there to be unity. The main thing that would be required these days, virtually the only thing would be the acceptance of what is now known as the Vatican Dogma: namely that Peter was the first bishop of Rome; the present bishop of Rome is his successor; he has special rights and privileges juridically over the Church; these include, according even to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, that in certain conditions the bishop of Rome speaks from himself and not from the consensus of the Church, on matters of morals and doctrine, in certain cases infallibly. Everybody would have to agree to it. Also, every bishop on earth gets the legitimacy of his episcopacy in communion with the See of Rome and that the bishops of Rome appoint all the bishops on earth. Well, this would all have to be recognized by the Orthodox for there to be sacramental communion. I believe that would be the Roman Catholic position.
But our topic tonight is What would the Orthodox have to do in order to have communion [unity] with the Roman Catholic Church? What follows is my opinion:
Unity in essentials
The first theological thing, the essential thing that we would have to do, would be to insist that in essence, in what is really substantially belonging to Christianity . that we essentially held the same faith.
So the first thing theologically that the Orthodox would have to do would be to be very clear very clear about what belongs essentially in Christianity and what does not What is secondary? What could be different? What can be local or provincial or something that people like, but doesnt really affect the substantial unity of the faith and the confession of the Orthodox faith in the Catholic Church? Because in early Christian writings, the faith was always called Orthodox and the church was always called Catholic.
In the early Church, they spoke about the Catholic Church which holds the Orthodox faith, according to the Scriptures. So thats the main thing. Thats no easy thing.
But having said that, a million things come up about making that happen. I think very strongly that the first thing the Orthodox have to do especially the clergy, especially the bishops before they even get to that issue of what is essential and what is not essential the only thing that could be allowed to divide Christians is disagreement on essentials. Thats what we are all working on. What is essential? What is not essential?
The desire to be one
However, before we get to that, my opinion is that what is really required of the Orthodox most of all above everything, is a real desire for unity to want to be one, to suffer over the division, to weep over it, to carry it around like a sword in your soul that we who claim Christ and praise God in Christ (especially in this world which is getting less and less Christian as the clock ticks), that Christians would be divided A lot of Christians these days dont even claim that and are not interested in that. But the members of the St. John Chrysostom Society exist because of that. We claim to belong to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church of Christ, the church that teaches the gospel truly, fully, that prays properly, that acts and teaches the right way to behave according to Christ, according to God Almighty, according to the Holy Scriptures, the canons, the saints, the fathers, etc.
So the most important thing of all is the desire to be one, and to prove that desire, not only by praying because we pray for unity at every single liturgy but prayer without activity, without work, is just blasphemous. To be praying all these things and not to be working, not be ready to make any possible sacrifice you could make that doesnt violate the essence of the faith. In other words, the Orthodox have to desire unity and be ready to sacrifice everything that they can without violating their convictions about the gospel in order to be one, particularly with Roman Catholics.
We have to be ready to do that. Now I have to say that in my opinion, the Orthodox are not ready to do that at all. They dont even want unity. So I am extremely pessimistic about that point. Why? Because the Orthodox leaders dont even want unity among the Orthodox, let alone with Roman Catholics or Protestants. Its obvious. The record is clear. Im not making this up. This is not my opinion. The Orthodox leadership, and most of the Orthodox people, dont want unity with others, and they are not ready to give up anything even the smallest little thing that is clearly not essential to the faith. I feel very strongly that this is true.
When people ask me, for example, why the Orthodox jurisdictions in America are not united, the answer is very clear: because our leaders dont want it. If they wanted it, we would have had it yesterday. There is nothing stopping them you may have to suffer a lot. You may have to give up some things: power, pre-eminence, prominence, property, possessions, prestige, positions, privilege and pleasure. Were not ready to give up those things because of pride, passion and prejudice. Forget it. Theres not going to be any unity. Thats what divides people generally, and it is certainly what divides churches.
Now here I would allow myself one little not my business remark: I have a hunch those same things are operating in the Eastern Catholic Churches, too
We will never be one unless we desire it with all our hearts, and are ready to put away everything that we can to have it . Everything that doesnt belong to the essence of the faith. Language doesnt belong to the essence of the faith. Calendars dont belong to the essence of the faith. Certain liturgical customs dont belong to the essence of the faith. Even the Byzantine Rite Liturgy for us does not belong to the essence of the faith.
Not motivated for unity
There was a whole thousand years when the Church had multiple rites of praise to God. In fact, the irony is, the time when there were the most multiple rituals for the sacraments and the services was the time there was the greatest unity in doctrine and spiritual life, evangelism, etc. In any case, the ritual is not of the essence of the faith. Language isnt, calendars are not all those things are not part of the essence of the faith. But unless we have the desire for unity, which then would lead us to feel that we have an absolute obligation from God to distinguish between what is really essential and what is not, we are never going to be united.
And here, I would say, on the planet Earth right now, I think in fact, I am sure the Orthodox churches around the world are not motivated for unity. In some of the churches, they even think that ecumenism is a heresy. In some churches, there is a feeling that what we just did upstairs pray together is not Orthodox. These Orthodox feel we should not pray together with Catholics because they are heretics. Some Orthodox believe that
So if there is a desire for unity, that will be proved not only by difficult, painful efforts to distinguish between what is essentially of the faith and what is not, but it will also require believers to do absolutely everything they can with others if only who by themselves are convinced would be contrary to the gospel if they did not in other words and this became a popular teaching of Pope John XXIII who said let us pledge to do together everything that we can, and do separately only the things that are still for us a matter of content and faith. Thats exactly what John Paul II said in [his 1995 apostolic letter] Orientale Lumen He called on Roman Catholics to affirm whatever is good, true, beautiful, holy, of God, wherever it is Its absolute obligation for an Orthodox and more than an obligation, a joy to affirm any agreement anywhere among human beings that we can claim as really true, right and of God. Now, how much more would that be the case if we were talking about the Christian Faith? The gospel? Christ? His divinity? His humanity? If we share all those things in common, then we should affirm them, and stand before the world affirming them in common.
I honestly do not believe most Orthodox leaders are even conscious of that. There is another agenda going on, an agenda that belongs to this world . That is why we Orthodox ourselves are so weak, miserable and divided, even though we claim a unity of faith (which we have) and a unity of worship (which we have), a unity in saints and tradition (which we have). But to actually do activities that would show this, witness to it, bring it to the world I dont think that is there.
There are several other things that the Orthodox would have to do. Besides desiring unity, and working really hard to say where the real disagreements are and why, and not to make issues of what are not essential that would be a huge step forward if we were mobilized and motivated to do that but there are several other things.
Be ready to forgive
Another thing that the Orthodox definitely have to do (the Catholics have to do it, too, but tonight we are talking about the Orthodox) is be totally ready to forgive everything in the past. Not to look back! Not to figure out who was wrong and who was right and who did what but to be ready to admit our own sins. We shouldnt lie. We should be ready to admit when our churches and our church leaders were wrong. I would say, if we were really Christians, that we should be ready to do that, not even saying if they do it, too!
We should say: Whatever they do is their business; were going to look at ourselves. Were going to admit our wrongs, our errors, our weaknesses, our sins. Were going to forgive the sins of the others, whether or not they even admit them. We think they did wrong; were not going to make them admit it. But were going to forgive. I believe that unless we are ready to do that, forget it. Lets have coffee right now.
We cannot be looking back. We cannot be trying to figure things out. We cannot be saying who did what to whom when. Its important to do that but we Orthodox have to admit our own sins and forgive others even when we believe they have done horrible things. Among the Orthodox, probably the most violent against union with Rome would be the Serbs, because they cannot forget the past. You say Roman Catholic among them, you might as well say devil. Unless they can get over that, and admit that they produced a few corpses too it was not just a one-way street. But even if it were, the Orthodox have to forgive. They need to ask, What can we do now? Thats just an essential Christian principle in general, not only about Church unity you know there are some people in their 80s who cant die because they havent forgiven their own parents yet for what they did to them? If Christianity is about anything, its about forgiveness. Forgiveness means acknowledging that someone did wrong to you, but deciding that you are not going to break communion over that. My own feeling it that the best way to heal memories is just not to have them. But the problem is, you cant help having them, especially if they have been pumped into you since you were born. So what do you do?
Well, the Holy Father would say, I believe, that you remember evil sins that you have committed and that others have committed against you. You remember them. But only for three reasons. One is to know how merciful God is, and that He forgives both of you. Secondly is to be motivated never to do it again. Third, because we are not to judge anybody or anything. As St. Paul says, God came to save the sinners, of whom I am the first. So we have to have that consciousness, or otherwise we are not going to get anywhere. So forgiveness is absolutely essential on the part of the Orthodox. And that even means forgiveness of Ukrainians or Russians and Carpathians or whatever. Without it, there is no unity. Forgiveness, by definition, is unity.
Another point for the Orthodox is that we not only have to desire unity, be ready to sacrifice everything essential to have it, to be able to distinguish what is essential from what is not, be able to forgive the past and admit our own sins and concentrate on ourselves, to do practical acts of charity and mercy but also never, ever to say or do anything that would offend another person unnecessarily There are so many ways we can charitably go out of our way to not hurt others our churches speak about unity, and then every day attack each other in missionary work and so on. Even among the Orthodox, one of our jurisdictions starts a mission and three days later, another jurisdiction starts another mission on the same street. Thats just offensive.
You all know the story of the Orthodox man who was shipwrecked on an island. When they came to rescue him, they found two churches there. The rescuer said, Why are there two churches here? Youre all alone. The Orthodox man said, Yeah thats the one I go to and thats the one I dont. Thats a deeply ingrained mentality among eastern Christians because of their history, their culture, their politics. But if that is not purged out somehow by the grace of God, forget about talking unity with Catholics. Orthodox need to first have unity among themselves, even culturally and nationally in regions where they live.
So Orthodox need to be ready to go the extra mile. Jesus said, If they ask for your coat, give them your shirt. If they ask you to go one mile, go two. So our attitude has to be always toward bending over backwards, so to speak, to do the thing that will build up unity rather than give offense or cause hard feelings.
People always point out that they fear greater unity because it will cause greater schisms some of our people wont go along. But we have schisms anyway. Lets have them for the right reason. Suppose we had unity and half the [Orthodox] people didnt come along. I think we should be ready to say goodbye to them if the unity is in God. We have to be people of unity, not because we will have more power in society, or be more popular, or George Bush will invite us to the White House. We have to have unity because God wants it, but it has to be unity in God, not unity in Ukrainianism or whatever If the unity is not in God, in Christ, in the Spirit, who wants it anyway?
But history shows that the people who worked for unity in the Faith were usually persecuted, while the masses just went about their business.
One last thing: I believe also that the Orthodox, if we were serious about unity, would need not only to desire it, sacrifice for it, forgive everything, admit our own sins, distinguish between what is essential and what is not, but also would have to be ready to practice economium on certain issues. This would mean, in my opinion, that we would have to be ready not just to admit that there can be different ways of singing, and different styles of liturgy, and different uses of psalms there are some issues, especially between Orthodox and Catholics, that Orthodox would have to be ready to tolerate for a while (even though they think the issues are bad) for the sake of unity.
What do I have in mind? Things like the filioque clause in the Creed [the clause in the Nicene Creed that says that the Holy Spirit proceeds, not only from the Father, but also, filioque from the Son]... If Rome would say it was not there originally, that the way it was explained was not right, we now can agree on certain aspects I think the Orthodox would have to say, OK, let them keep it rather than insist that every last church in Portugal drop the filioque before we can have unity.
In other words, the Orthodox may have to go along with something for a while, as long as its clear how we understand it.
Other things we disagree on? Unleavened bread Communion in one kind. Communion from reserved Sacrament. Celibacy of the clergy. We dont think thats a good rule I dont. I have 15 grandchildren. Baptism by pouring water we believe baptism involves immersion. Multiple Masses by the same priest. Confirmation as a separate ritual. Holy Communion for children. Issues about divorce and remarriage. There are plenty of issues that dont fall into the category of absolutely essential or absolutely non-essential.
Nyer, I think you've entirely missed my point. As for your cracks in this post and your subsequent one about the Orthodox, well, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. I can guarantee the Maronites you attend the Liturgy with as a Roman Catholic would be.
My point is that if you think the Maronites are a moderate people, ask the Lebanese about the Maronites. Ask the Maronites themselves They are tough, tough people who don't take any grief from anyone. And they aren't moderate sissies. Christian moderates don't last 1500 years in a place like the Middle East. The history of Lebanon is filled with examples of this, even into and through the Lebanese civil war. And they are in Lebanon and at least around here VERY close to the Orthodox, far closer than a Roman Catholic attending the Liturgy in the Maronite Church would recognize much less admit.
I respect and admire the Maronites for what they really are, NYer.
"The Eastern Orthodox churches broke away from unity with the pope in 1054."
That's certainly the old company line. Four ancient Patriarchates and the one new one refuse to submit to Rome, they maintain the Faith as it was established by the One Church in fidelity to the councils, Rome goes on to institute innovation upon innovation without even a by your leave from the other Patriarchates and its them who left, not Rome!
It saddens me that such a simplistic view of Church history still prevails among so many of you Latins.
I was raised in the Roman Church. I first came into contact with Orthodoxy when I was about 15. I have known most of my adult life that I was Orthodox but it took me about a quarter century to take the plunge.
? Can you be more specific?
Again, I am limited in my response to only the Maronite Church and then, with limited experience.
Since the rejection of the Florentine Union, the Holy See has re-established communion with members of every Eastern Church. In so doing, the Holy See solemnly committed itself to respect the ancient Catholic heritage of those Churches, and it was hoped that these groups would be the seed and first fruits of a future general reunion of the East. This hope, unfortunately, has never been fulfilled, because the way in which these groups have developed since returning to the Catholic Church has provided the non-Catholic East with a pattern of reunion little to its liking. For it must be frankly stated that the Orientals did not always find a congenial home within the Catholic Church. They were often viewed with reservation and suspicion by ill-informed Catholics in spite of the strenuous efforts of more magnanimous men to aid and protect them.
Finding themselves clearly subordinate to the Latin majority, the Orientals were defenseless against the invasion of Latin ways and customs, and gradually many of them lost touch with the spirit of their own heritage. Often this was their own doing. They wished above all to be Catholic, and in a world in which this was often taken to mean "Latin," they eagerly imitated Latin practices, many of which were not attuned to their own, religious culture, to prove that they too were real Catholics. Often it resulted from the misguided actions of Latins. Lastly, we must not underestimate the enormous influence of simply belonging to a Church, which had become so totally Western. Had there never been a schism, Rites would have continued to influence one another. Schism made the process a one-way street.
-Robert F. Taft Eastern-Rite Catholicism Its Heritage and Vocation
This may be true for the Anglican Use Rite (I wouldn't know), but not for the Eastern Catholic Churches which all have seminaries for the formation of their priests.
I was addressing your comments on the Anglican Use specifically.
A Church is not the same as a rite. Within the Catholic Church there are 22 autonomous churches, each of which follows one of the 6 major rites. In these Churches, we recite a universal Creed and include the pope in our prayers. That is one area where a change would need to be made.
The primates of all Orthodox Churches that are in communion with each other are commemorated in the Diptychs and at certain times of the year in special liturgies.
"Where Peter is, there is the Church".
I am not going to go there or we will be writing tomes to each other and getting nowhere quickly. Both Orthodox and Roman's can quote the fathers ad infinitum at each other (and have on FR and elsewhere). So I will just say that I am familiar with the patristic arguments on both sides and I am Orthodox.
We must unite because that is the will of God!
It's really just that simple.
I admire your enthusiasm. And I share your desire. Just not at the expense of the essentials of the faith. The false Union of Florence needs to be a warning to all against attempting to force reunification where the urgent issues which divide us have not been resolved. For years Catholics have been saying to the Orthodox "All you need to do is say YES." The problem remains that Orthodox are heretics under the canons of your ecumenical councils. You have pronounced anathema against us. And in fairness the reverse is true. When I was received into Orthodoxy I was required to specifically abjure all heresies to which I had previously been attached.
It should come as no surprise you, K, that in the Latin Church, many bishops not only share this belief but would welcome this power. As a member of a diocese run by an ultra leftist bishop, such power would translate into rewriting the liturgical texts to render them gender neutral. And that is just for starters. Imagine according such power to this "bishop"!
That is a source of grave concern to many Orthodox. We see the Latin Church in its current crisis and are alarmed. On the one hand we want Rome to embrace a more Orthodox ecclesiology but we also are not unaware that the western church has become used to the papal monarchy. The problem now is that Rome is somewhat in the position of having mounted the tiger they may not be able to get off without being eaten. The sensus fidei of the west has been badly eroded as a result of this form of government. We all know that absent the strong arm of the Vatican chaos might well ensue in the Roman Church. If the Pope embraced an Orthodox ecclesiology tomorrow by the end of the week I can name several RC bishops and at least one cardinal who would be ordaining women and marrying homosexuals. We have nothing comparable to the papacy. But for all of our administrative disunity, bishops like you have are inconceivable in Orthodoxy.
That's because we have a sensus fidei which maintains the faith and church discipline without an absolute monarchy for a church structure. It has done so with remarkable success for 2000 years. Also though we do have our problems (trust me we do), we are not anarchists as some seem to think. Bishops are answerable to their respective synods. And corrupt or theologically suspect bishops don't usually last long. In the Orthodox tradition it is not at all unusual for bishops to attack one another, sometimes quite publicly. I was and remain astonished at some of the heated rhetoric our bishops direct at one another. We have (as you may be aware) some serious problems in the OCA right now. The word scandal is appropriate (although it's about money thank God, and not something really important). My point though is that even without a supreme pontiff the mess is getting cleaned up. One mitered head has already rolled and more are almost certain to follow. The Greeks just went through a similar situation with some problems in Greece proper and also with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Heads have rolled and the problems are being fixed. When was the last time you heard a Roman Catholic Bishop call a fellow bishop a heretic? Could you imagine it? I never heard it and if I went to my grave without ever hearing it I would not be surprised.
True. There have even been some popes whose personal lifestyles were more than questionable; yet, never once did anyone of them err when it came to doctrine.
That is a matter of opinion. It is not one that is shared on our side of the fence. I don't want a charitable discussion to turn into a battle of polemics so I will leave it at that.
Among the Christian churches, only the Catholic Church has existed since the time of Jesus. Every other Christian church is an offshoot of the Catholic Church. The Eastern Orthodox churches broke away from unity with the pope in 1054. The Protestant churches were established during the Reformation, which began in 1517. (Most of todays Protestant churches are actually offshoots of the original Protestant offshoots.)
Only the Catholic Church existed in the tenth century, in the fifth century, and in the first century, faithfully teaching the doctrines given by Christ to the apostles, omitting nothing. The line of popes can be traced back, in unbroken succession, to Peter himself. This is unequaled by any institution in history.
Even the oldest government is new compared to the papacy, and the churches that send out door-to-door missionaries are young compared to the Catholic Church. Many of these churches began as recently as the nineteenth or twentieth centuries. Some even began during your own lifetime. None of them can claim to be the Church Jesus established. The Catholic Church has existed for nearly 2,000 years, despite constant opposition from the world. This is testimony to the Churchs divine origin. It must be more than a merely human organization, especially considering that its human members even some of its leadershave been unwise, corrupt, or prone to heresy.
Any merely human organization with such members would have collapsed early on. The Catholic Church is today the most vigorous church in the world (and the largest, with a billion members: one sixth of the human race), and that is testimony not to the cleverness of the Churchs leaders, but to the protection of the Holy Spirit.
This sounds like something out of a religious tract. The Roman Church from our point of view broke from the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church in the first part of the last millennium As I noted previously the Catholic Faith founded by Jesus Christ subsists in the Orthodox Church which retains the faith of the first millennium unaltered. Protestants and Catholics from our perspective are theologically just two sides of the same coin. All Protestants are crypto-papists. You both believe that one person can interpret the faith. All the Protestants did was to replace the Pope with millions of little popes. The results are there for everyone to see. Only the Church as a whole can interpret scripture or pronounce dogma on matters of faith. That's why despite our millions of petty arguments and fights over everything from calendars to fasting rules, we adhere to the same faith. It all comes back to sensus fidei.
Apologies for typos. Its late.
There are two parts to my comment: one is a historical perspective and the other concerns matters of faith.
One has to know the background of this abomination, for the lack of a better word. It's called: communism. It was a policy of communist authorities in the former Yugoslavia for approximately half a century to relativize and even ridicule anything that had to do with ethnic identity. The regime was not openly hostile towards religion, but religion was looked upon with scorn and even disdain as something reactionary (read: anticommunist), backward, superstitious, and so on.
Generations raised under such a regime have maintained but a skeleton of their religious identity, often retaining it on paper more than in praxis. Traditionally, religious observances were morphed into state-observed secular holidays (thus a New Year was a Christmas-like holiday without Chirst in it, while Christmas was a "private" observance).
Needless to say, liturgical life was not highly favored and was generally subdued. People who were very religious were usually considered as "zealots" or even "extremists." The Serbian Orthodox Church was in particular identified as the source of animosity towards the regime, a sanctuary for the "nationalists," and was, like the Church in Russia, heavily infiltrated by communist agents, so much so that even the Patriarch was at one time suspected of being one.
The Serbian community in Diaspora for that reason formed the so-called Free Serbian Eparchy in America, Australia and Canada, in full schism with the Patriarchy in Belgrade, the way the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) was created for the same reason several decades earlier, following the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917.
Much more importantly, was the communist official policy known as the "Brotherhood and Unity." Intermarriages across ethnic lines and religious backgrounds were encouraged and lauded. Everyone was supposed to be a nondescript "Yugoslav" (even those who did not fit the bill because they were not ethnic Slavs [the name Yugoslav means Southern Slav]).
Unfortunately, the disease introduced by the communists still persists. This is why such abominations that you describe being practiced in Voyvodina are not surprising to me but they ought to be to the world.
For one, marriage is a sacrament a holy mystery, of union of a man and a woman by God. You can't be married in one church and then say God didn't do it "equitably" until He marries the couple in the other church!
Your lack of faith or upbringing in faith is perfectly clear which is why you probably do much better on political forums.
Secondly, being "double-baptized" is a heresy, always has been, for the last 2,000 years. I honestly do not believe that the priests know that the couple has already been married in one church or that the baby has already been baptized in the other.
If they do know, and still perform the sacraments, I would like you to tell us which churches in your sunny Voyvodina are doing that so that I can write to their bishops and ask them how is that possible. Much obliged.
Discuss the issues, do NOT make it personal.
But here is the rub. Before the split there was a difference of opinion within the undivided Church about the role of the pope. We are all familiar with the statements from the early popes and and western bishops in this regard. When the Orthodox call for a return to the status of the pope to that as it was in the undivided Church are they not really saying that they want the Latins to agree with what the Greeks held at that time? Could the Orthodox agree to communion with a pope that spoke thus:
Although bishops have a common dignity, they are not all of the same rank. Even among the most blessed Apostles, though they were alike in honor, there was a certain distinction of power. All were equal in being chosen, but it was given to one to be preeminent over the others. From this formality there arose also a distinction among bishops, and by a great arrangement it was provided that no one should arrogate everything to himself, but in individual provinces there should be individual bishops whose opinion among their brothers should be first; and again, certain others, established in larger cities, were to accept a greater responsibility. Through them the care of the universal Church would converge in the one See of Peter, and nothing should ever be at odds with this head.These words come from Pope Leo I around 446, well within the time of the undivided Church. I am not arguing that this was accepted by the Greeks (although I do think that the opinion in the East was a bit more complicated and fluid than is usually portrayed by the Orthodox), only that it was a strongly held opinion held by the early popes and the Western church. If the beliefs and practices of the undivided Church are to be the rule for unity, how can Rome's claims of universal jurisdiction be a justification for division?
Somehow I think professional historians (Sir Martin Gilbert; Rabbi Dalin) and persons who actually lived through that era (Ambassador Lapide and Prime Minister Meir -- note that every person I have mentioned is a Jew!) are better qualified than a variety of Jewish religious leaders, none of whom have any particular competence to comment on Pope Pius' leadership during WW2, and all of whom are spouting the recycled garbage hatched by dissident Catholics like Cornwell, which had its genesis in a play written by a German (Rolf Hochhuth) whose father was a member of the SS.
But I guess you'd rather trust leftist, pro-homosexual apostate Catholics and the son of an SS officer. Whatever.
"That sort of ethnic mix, by the way, is replicated across the country as most any Orthodox Freeper can tell you."
It certainly has been my experience. I have been a member of 7 parishes, in 7 different parts of North America, in 4 jurisdictions. In addition, I've visited at least a score of other parishes.
I can only think of a couple of parishes where I was not warmly welcomed, and both of them were parishes where I don't think very many people were able to speak English well. I suspect that even those parishes would have warmed up had I attended regularly.
Maybe I've just been lucky (or blessed), but I don't think that your parish and mine are anomalies in the least.
And as you know, I share your reservations about Hopko. The history of the OCA is one that cripples it, because they (or I should say "we" -- since I have spent longer in my current OCA parish than I have in any other single parish over the past couple of decades in the Orthodox Church), like the Roman church, have painted themselves into a bit of a corner.
There are lots of healthy and growing OCA parishes, but the OCA as a jurisdiction through its claim to "autocephaly" has only hurt the cause of Orthodox unity in the U.S.
But while it isn't as hard as figuring out how to have the Pope make himself un-infallible, it is still pretty hard to say, "whoops, maybe we really aren't the autocephalous Church in North America!"
That is a fair assessment, and fully supported by documents and the Council of Chalcedon.
Could the Orthodox agree to communion with a pope that spoke thus:...
First of all, No. The reason is that it's not the extent of papal jurisdiction that is prejducitional to communion, but the lack of theological unity. Communion is, as we know, not a means towards a union, but an expression of such a union in faith. When one bishop recognizes the same faith in another bishop, they are then in communion.
As regards papal jurisdictional authority outined in he quote of +Leo the Great, please note that the quote says there arose also a distinction among bishops. Clearly +Leo Great here concedes that the greater authority arose among bishops, leading to different levels of authority, which clearly shows that it was not something given, but evaluational in nature.
Thus, the idea that the papacy is something that was rooted in scripture was not the opinion of the early Church. The Council of Chalcedon testifies to the effect, and reveals instead that the bishops, in the General Council, gave primacy of honor and privileges to those bishops who were in cities of imperial dignity, first the Old Rome and then the New Rome (Constantinople).
Thus the records of the Fourth Ecumenical Council (451 A.D.) leave no doubt or any ambiguity as to whence the honors and privileges were received by some bishops and why.
But notice that the bishops also state the throne of the new Rome should "in ecclesiastical matters also be magnified as she is, and rank next after [the throne of Old Rome], which would give the impression that the +Peter's throne is "above" the one in Constantinople.
But that is immediately dispelled by a clear and unambiguous statement of juridical authority of the Bishops of Constantinople as being separate from Rome, and absolute to his area of jurisdiction:
As is well known, +Leo the Great refused to sign and approve this (in)famous (28th) canon, but the canon was put into effect even over his veto, his lamenting to the Emperor and the Empress separately, and ignored by his own Latin bishops in Illyria.
This was such an insult to the West that the Council of Trullo(692 A.D.) renewed canon 28, but found it necessary to make the following statement as well:
That being said, it remains unaltered that a bishop is the highest ecclesial authority in the church. The primacy of some bishops are of honor and privileges, and therefore dignity, not authority over other bishops.
For practical reasons, religious communities require larger bodies to be represented by one of their own (an archbishop) by the will and the decision of the Synod of bishops. This, these responsibilities are given by the bishops to the bishops for practical reasons, as one professional organization elects its officers who represent the whole professional community, but do not lord over them.
One must remember that although +Peter is distinctly selected in the NT (either for his weakness or his strength of faith), and given the keys, there is no evidence that the primitive Church considered him to be the "prince" of the Apostles, nor did the Apostles "report" to him or depend on his approval.
Likewise, the evolution of papacy can also be seen in the fact that the first Pope to use the title Papa was Siricisuc at the very end of the 4th century (384-399 A.D.). Until that time, +Peter's succsors in Rome were only referred to individually as Episcopus Romanus (i.e. Bishop of Rome).
Apologies for typos; it's late.
PS I hate this spellchecker.
I'm going to bed!
Kosta, just as a matter of clarification, I wasn't double baptized. But I was brought up, as I have said many times, with a foot firmly planted in both churches and cultures.
As to a practical application of this on normal Church governance, most Catholics you will correspond with here on FreeRepublic would wish that Rome were as active in the everyday governance of their particular Church as non-Catholics fear. The left-wing nun who is running my kid's religious education program in my parish this year takes many heretical stands. When I confronted her about her positions she responded that there was nothing wrong with a loyal opposition. I can only wish that Pope Benedict would personally come to my parish and chastise this nun, but know not to hold my breath waiting for this to happen.
While the primacy of Rome is presented as a big sticking point, I do believe that there is already substantial unity on the big issues of faith. The rest, to me at least, seems to be a matter of politics and procedures. As the author points out, willingness to unite and forgiveness for the past can go along way towards resolving those issues.
Unfortunately, what you see in the former Yugoslavia is akin to what +Paul was seeing in various Greek communities to which he sent his Epistles an imitation of Christianity.
The damage communism has done is immense, and the worst thing is the generations raised in it see nothing wrong with the way they tailor their faiths to fit their secular creations. They hold human values above God's commandments and subject God to their sense of "equity."
But this is not just reflected in the religion in former Yugoslavia. The younger generations in Serbia believe that the Eastern Orthodox Church is the major obstacle to Serbia being accepted into the EU!
Serbs have been taught to hate themselves so much by Tito's regime and now by the west that the only good Serb is the one who totally defaces himself and his culture and who accommodates every other culture before his own.
They have rejected and continue to reject their own at an alarming rate, even in reproduction. By approximately 2050 the Serbs will probably be a minority in their own country! That's what multiculturalism does. Serbian natality rates are so low and intermarriages are so high that in less than half a century Serbia will for all practical purposes cease to exist. It will be the only nation on earth that committed mass suicide!
The God I worship (yes, I'm one of those dreaded Roman Catholic "heretics" ;'}) is well known for miracles both minor and major. Just yesterday, my Pastor preached on prayers of petition: he reminded us to pray unceasingly and unsparingly. If you think that healing the "Great Schism" would require a miracle from God (and I'm inclined to agree), than a miracle from God is precisely what we should be praying for.
He's saying that "Rome" would have to concede that the manner in which the Filioque was first explained to the East was not right. That is, that when we introduced it, we failed to accurately communicate to the East what we meant by it. That may even be true.
Here's the keys to the Chevy ... the levee is right over there ->
Thank you! Not sure how the Orthodox handle it, but we Catholics are (supposed to be) so adamant that a "double Baptism" is a blasphemy, that we "conditionally" Baptise any convert whom we even suspect might possibly have been Baptised in the past.
It goes something like:
If you have not already been Baptised, then I Baptise you ...
I allmost completly support what you said about religious life under communism. Iguess it was much easier for me cause im Serbia-hungarian origin. I van remember that my "fullblooded" Serb friends hade noclue about religion whatsoever. I remeber one time I simpley asked a kid, "What present you got for Eastern?" and he asked back "What is Eastern?"
As for double-baptisment, I have no clue that is herecy. i know that my father and aunt are baptised in Catholic and Ortodox churches, also som eof my friends are married in both churches, and that is custom, in some casess here. i will ask where exactly were those performed.
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