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
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It may not be such a showstopper if we go on to define that those powers are only to be used in the most extraordinary and unusual circumstances. Obviously, the Pope doesn't at every moment exercise an immediate and absolute jurisdiction over every diocese. (There are days when it's not clear that he exercises any jurisdiction at all, even over some dioceses in his own Latin church. >:-0)
The pendulum, even in the Latin church, has swung since Vatican II toward the diocesan ordinary exercising a substantial degree of independence and authority in his own diocese. (That's still an experiment in progress.) Whatever Vatican I claimed for the Pope, it's clear that it's not being used on a daily basis, or anything like it.
If we can come to an consensus about when those powers might be exercised (other than "never, under any circumstances"), Vatican I might not be such a showstopper.
Your experience may be different from mine, but I think that what the Orthodox Church desperately needs is unity. It doesn't have to be under one jurisdiction, and I don't think that's what Hopko is saying.
I spent many years in San Francisco, where there is at least one representative of just about every Orthodox church in the world. We had three different "Russian" churches (one of which later became part of the OCA) and the people in them wouldn't even speak to each other. And converts were even worse: they did not become Orthodox, they became Greek, or Syrian, or ultra-Russian. I knew a convert who was a member of the so-called "Exile Church" who wouldn't have anything to do with the members of the Russian Orthodox church that eventually founded the OCA because they were all "Little Russians" and his church was all "Great Russians." He didn't even have one drop of Russian blood, but this is how he perceived Orthodoxy.
And I had another friend who was Serbian and, when one Serbian church collapsed because of internal infighting, she wouldn't go to the other because it had too many people from (I don't even remember the region), whom she did not consider truly Orthodox.
And then I lived in a place where the local Greek Orthodox church kicked out a pastor (American born of 100% Greek descent) because he wasn't Greek enough and was - gasp! - encouraging non-Greeks to come to the church.
So I think the Orthodox Church does have a serious problem here, and it's not at the formal administrative level alone. And I think that's what Fr. Hopko was trying to say.
Where did your journey begin?
... efforts by Vatican bureaucrats to extend the blessings of the Vatican II liturgical reform to the Eastern Rite churches have not gone unnoticed though so far they have not enjoyed much success.
? Can you be more specific?
Again, I am limited in my response to only the Maronite Church and then, with limited experience.
In the beginning of their stay in Lebanon, isolated by the mountains and worried about the political unrest in the Near East, the Maronites faithfully adhered to the creed of the Catholic Church. But here is a paradox. Because the tradition of Antioch always preferred biblical expressions over dogmatic formulations the creed they professed did not contain the "new" formulations of the councils regarding the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Hesitations to accept these formulations, belonged to the sphere of theological terminology; they did not lessen the unshakable attachment of the Maronites to the Catholic faith. They did, however, become harmful to the reputation of the Maronites. No council condemned them, but in many publications, for example the article "Maronites" in the first edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia (vol. 9, 683-688), the Maronites are accused of the heresy of monothelitism which taught that there is only one will in Christ. In our day, as we experience once again the difficulty of translating into human language the mystery of the Ineffable, we can better understand the complexity of the theological situation in which the Maronites had to find their way.
In the Lebanon of the 11th and 12th centuries, the Maronites found themselves once more between two worlds; the Latin Church of the West and the churches of the East. The Latin missionaries found warm welcome in the Maronite community. They did not, however, understand or appreciate the profound value and the riches of the oriental traditions, and tried to impose, often with success, the juridical and liturgical structures of the Latin Church as the "only true Catholic"' structures. The Maronites, in turn, with their traditional spirit of moderation and openness, enjoyed enriching their oriental patrimony with the richness of Christian dogmas as it had developed in the West. They also introduced into the Oriental churches such expressions of Western devotional life as the rosary and the stations of the cross.
It would be easy to assume the Maronites of being responsible for the "Latinization" of the Eastern churches. but such would be an unfair accusation. The Maronites always kept and jealously guarded their Oriental traditions. They were convinced, however, and still are, that their own traditions can grow only in the always challenging contact with the universal church.
This contact with the Latin Church enriched the intellectual world of Europe in the Middle Ages. Maronites taught Oriental languages and literature at the universities of Italy and France. Thanks to their position between East and West, and to their knowledge of the occidental theological tradition, they successfully started the dialogue with the Orthodox churches of the Near East. The history of the Melkites and Chaldeans, of Catholic Armenians and Syrians, shows the important role of the Maronites in the foundation of these communities.
Insofar as restoration of liturgy, the ongoing wars in Lebanon have severely impacted the Church. In 2003, Patriarch Sfeir convened a 2 year Synod to decide on what changes should be made and how these would be implemented. In a recent interview (July 2006) with Fr. Mitch Pacwa (telecast on EWTN), the Patriarch spoke of these changes. As Maronites have fled Lebaonon, they have brought their liturgy to all parts of the world. This has resulted in an explosive growth of the Maronite Church, especially in North America, Australia, South America, Mexico, Europe and Africa. As a result of this expansion, the liturgy has attracted peoples residing in those parts of the world, who are not Lebanese. The liturgy, once limited to Arabic, now required translation into other languages. Some of those translations were hastily written. The Synod members have now formed committees to study those translations to improve upon and establish standardized texts to be used throughout the world. Initially, liturgical texts will be limited to Arabic, English, Spanish and French. In ALL Maronite churches, certain aspects of the liturgy will retain the authentic Aramaic/Syriac texts.
There are no Anglo-Catholic seminaries or bishops and there is no one training priests in the Anglican liturgical rites.
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.
What parts of our liturgy do you anticipate will need to be updated? It has worked quite well for us I think.
All Catholics share three important things:
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.
I think that the word "former" in front of the word "Orthodox" is quite telling about where we are both coming from.
The words "Orthodox Church" and "Catholic Church" are generally understood to represent our separate churches. When we eventually join together, some agreement will be made as to a proper terminology but until then, I could not come up with a better expression.
But we believe that we are the Church. We don't see ourselves as a part of two halves. Orthodox Christianity is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ whole and complete. And you believe the same thing to be true of your church. That creates a problem.
"Where Peter is, there is the Church".
There are for the first time in a thousand years honest people in both churches who are looking at each other and saying "How did this happen? This is not what God wanted." But the reality I think is that it has gone beyond the point of no return.
We are all entitled to our own opinions but here is where Fr. Hopko gets it right when he says:
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.
We must unite because that is the will of God!
It's really just that simple.
I think you picked out the right quote from Hopko! The "essence of the faith" says it all.
I can't address the problems which arose in the Russian Church because of the Revolution and Moscow's creation of the OCA in the 70s (I think). I will say I get a kick out of the American converts to Russian type Orthodox Churches who promptly beginning looking like Russian peasants and speaking English with Slavic accents. But its a free country.
I can address your comments about parish splits or collapses because of internal feuding. I have observed this, from the outside, in Protestant churches around here and remember stories of such a split in the 20s in my own Greek Orthodox parish. That one was as a result of politics back in Greece. The break away parish folded back into the original one after the politician those people supported was voted out of office. As a general proposition, these internal feuds arise because in Orthodoxy here in the States and to an extent even back in the old countries, the running of the local parishes is the responsibility of the laity not the priest or the bishop. Inevitably this leads to disagreements but people get over them. Your Roman system is very different. The priest runs the show as the rep of the bishop who generally in this country owns all the assets of the parish. In the Roman system, people just leave. Around here most of the Roman parishes are closing or being grouped together because so many Catholics simply won't support the Church or attend Mass.
In the GOA, we do have the sort of Greek chauvinists you mention in your post. Just yesterday as a member of the parish council I threw a Greek American who never comes to Liturgy and has never been to Greece off the church grounds because he was going around to people offering to give the parish $100,000.00 if we would fire the priest. His bich? The priest is bringing "garbage" people into the parish...read anyone, anyone who isn't Greek. Being Orthodox and for example Lebanese or Ukrainian or heaven forbid, Ethiopian, qualifies one for the "garbage people" moniker. And converts are simply beyond the pale! Now our parish, once 100% Greek (except for a few convert spouses) is a veritable Orthodox melting pot with 12 different ethnicities represented. Greeks, of any degree, only make up about 40% of our parish. What was the reaction of the Greeks in the parish to this clown's actions? White heat rage! But his attitude and the attitude of the parish which ran its priest out of town on a Greek rail is no more a basis for forming opinions about Greek Orthodoxy in America than the fact that a few "pink" Roman Catholic bishops covering up sex scandals should for the basis of a RICO action against the USCCB
L, my parish, as our Metropolitan is fond of saying, is the face of Orthodoxy in America today. That sort of ethnic mix, by the way, is replicated across the country as most any Orthodox Freeper can tell you. And we got that way by God's will, not some phoney and completely unnecessary jurisdictional unity.
"So I think the Orthodox Church does have a serious problem here, and it's not at the formal administrative level alone. And I think that's what Fr. Hopko was trying to say."
Like I said, Fr. Hopko, while a fine man from all reports, is the captive of his own unrealized plans. Moscow in the 70s wanted to create a counter balance to ROCOR and cut off Orthodoxy here in the States from the dominance of the Greek and Antiochian Patriarchates; it set up the OCA. It didn;t work.
C, I am unaware of any Orthodox position, absolutist or otherwise, which holds that nobody has any authority over a local bishop. It has always been the belief of The Church, at least since +Ignatius of Antioch, that the fullness of The Church is found in a local diocese, the bishop surrounded by his clergy, monastics and laity.
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's enough to send shivers down my spine and I don't reside in his diocese.
ALL corporations, institutions and private industries are run by one person who serves as CEO. All countries function under the leadership of one President. These individuals are elected and/or chosen to be the final decision makers. Even our Lord, Jesus Christ, recognized the need to place one person in charge and He did so when He named Peter as His successor.
One compelling biblical fact that points clearly to Simon Peters primacy among the 12 Apostles and his importance and centrality to the drama of Christs earthly ministry, is that he is mentioned by name (e.g. Simon, Peter, Cephas, Kephas, etc.) 195 times in the course of the New Testament. The next most often-mentioned Apostle is St. John, who is mentioned a mere 29 times. After John, in descending order, the frequency of the other Apostles being mentioned by name trails off rapidly.
When the names of all the Apostles are listed, Peter is always first. Judas Iscariot, the Lords traitor, is always listed last (cf. Matt. 10:2-5; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-17; and Acts 1:13). Sometimes Scripture speaks simply of Simon Peter and the rest of the Apostles or Peter and his companions (cf. Luke 9:32; Mark 16:7; Acts 2:37), showing that he had a special role that represented the entire apostolic college. Often, Scripture shows Simon Peter as spokesman for the entire apostolic college, as if he were the voice of the Church (cf. Mat. 18:21; Mark 8:29; Luke 8:45; Luke 12:41; John 6:68-69).
No matter how much consensus one might find amongst bishops, there still needs to be one voice that corrects the misunderstandings of those who have erred and speaks on behalf of our Lord, Jesus Christ. And that person is the Pope, the Successor of St. Peter.
"The Maronites, in turn, with their traditional spirit of moderation and openness...."
Oh, that's rich! The Maronites are just about the toughest bunch of cookies ever. Centuries of suspicious isolation in their mountains surrounded by Mohammadens and earlier Orthodox Christians who thought them heretics, made them the antithesis of of an open and moderate people. But that has served them well for rather more than 1000 years. Its only in our lifetimes that the Mohammaden wave has pretty much overwhelmed them and they have left Lebanon in droves. Just this weekend a Maronite buddy of mine came to our festival. He commented as he stood by the grills I was supervising that the Maronites, like the Orthodox and the Melkites in Lebanon are finished. They are quite simply being and have been outbred. As he put it, when Mustapha can have 4 wives and 20 kids, its not much of a contest. In the meantime when the Mohammadens get mad at the Israelis, the Christians get whacked, and when the Israelis get mad at the Mohammadens, the Christians get whacked. Not much of a future for people in that sort of situation.
"ALL corporations, institutions and private industries are run by one person who serves as CEO."
Not the best of illustrations when it comes to The Church, I trust you would agree. But if that's the example you like, remember that CEOs are regularly fired by stockholders and/or boards of directors, who are the ones who really run the company.
Now The Church is no democracy, representative or otherwise, but then again, its not a theocratic dictatorship either, at least in the East.
I don't think he'd go around slandering everyone in a group with the sins (and alleged sins, and imagined sins, and reputed sins) of a few, like you're doing.
To whom? The Orthodox Church? I must have hit a nerve.
And what do you mean by "suspicious"? There is nothing mysterious, much less suspicious, in the fact that the followers of St. Maron followed him into the mountainous regions of Lebanon where they practiced their faith.
Very little is known, though, about the Maronites in Lebanon between the time of their being established there in the seventh and eighth centuries and the coming of the Crusades in the eleventh century. During this period the Maronites and the region were dominated by the Abbasids, whose rule was often severe and who persecuted and decimated the Maronites. When the first Crusaders arrived in Lebanon in 1098, they were surprised and pleased to find fellow Christians who welcomed them with hospitality. We are told that the Maronites were of great assistance to the Crusaders both as guides and as a fighting force of 40,000 men known for their prowess in battle. The Franciscan F. Suriano, writing some time later, described them as "astute and prone to fighting and battling. They are good archers using the Italian style of cross-bowing". The Crusaders not only passed through Lebanon on the way to the Holy Places, but established themselves in the country and built fortresses in a number of areas, the ruins of which remain to this day. Close relations were also established between the Latin Hierarchy that accompanied the Crusaders and the Maronite Church. With the coming of the Crusaders, it would seem that the Maronites made a conscious decision to seek the support of the West. Prior to this time, the Maronites lived and thought on a provincial level. Their major concerns were to defend themselves against local heretics (a struggle based not only on a religious plane, but also on ethnic and cultural levels) and to attempt to establish a Modus Vivendi with Arab rulers. With the coming of the Crusaders they began to look to the West for assistance. Ties with the Holy See became closer, Western practices were adopted, and Latin influence and changes in the Maronite Liturgy took place. source
He commented as he stood by the grills I was supervising that the Maronites, like the Orthodox and the Melkites in Lebanon are finished. They are quite simply being and have been outbred. As he put it, when Mustapha can have 4 wives and 20 kids, its not much of a contest.
Your friend attends a Greek Orthodox festival - what do you expect he is going to say? And you believe him. K, that's truly surprising, coming from you.
I don't know where you are coming from but the Catholic Church views Jews as our 'older brothers' in the faith.
As for your statement on 'altar boy boogering', I would refer you to this web site. It seems the Protestant Church ministers far outnumber the Catholic priests in this regard.
It's where he "gets it right". Check out the Orthodox response to my post. It simply justifies Fr. Hopko's assertion that the Orthodox can never overcome the past. Where there's a will, there's a way, especially if that will is from God. Too bad the Orthodox still don't get it.
No, I don't agree. Name one successful organization that is run without some final authority.
remember that CEOs are regularly fired by stockholders and/or boards of directors, who are the ones who really run the company.
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.
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.
Why should we apologize for saving between 700,000 and 860,000 Jewish lives? (See the books by Pinchas Lapide, former Israeli ambassador to Italy, and Rabbi David Dalin for details. Note also that Pope Pius XII was eulogized for his actions during the war by none other than Golda Meir, at that time Israeli ambassador to the UN; later Prime Minister.)
You really shouldn't believe every lie you hear from the left about the Catholic Church. That really makes you no better than those who believe every lie they hear about the Jews. We call those people "anti-Semites". Do you think the same kind of bigotry against Catholics is cleaner or more wholesome?
Given the Catholic Church's present obvious preference regarding Israels existence, which it flatly denies has anything to do with God's will or fulfillment of prophecy
We aren't dispensationalists, which is to say that we take the same view of Scripture on the subject of the relationship of the Church with Israel that all of the reformers took, and all of Christendom took until the 1820's.
they do not make it a common practice to hire priests with a certain sexual bent.
It seems to me that the Vatican said flatly that homosexuals were not to be admitted to the seminary back in the early 1960's. That edict was not obeyed by the American bishops. Perhaps if they had been a little more Roman Catholic, and a little less American ... ???
I got news for ya sister: the Orthodox Church does not view Israel's existence as a "fulfillment of prophecy" either. That is a uniquely Protestant misconception, the byproduct of a recycled heresy.
Since you are neither Catholic nor Orthodox, this thread is of no concern to you. Do us a courtesy: butt out.
Interesting read, might throw a little light on the subject for you.