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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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.