This was not what I had planned on posting today but when I stumbled on it I thought it was worth putting up. I have also CCd this to the Catholic forum since they are part of the topic of this essay. Fr. Hopko is a well known and respected theologian. He is also somewhat controversial at times. I do not agree with some of the things in this essay. But I do think he makes a powerful point (if perhaps he belabors it a bit much), when he points out that we can hardly be expected to work towards unity with Rome when we can't get our own house in order. I also think he tends to ignore the serious ecclesiological and theological issues that divide East from West. He mentions a few in passing, but moves on rather quickly. In fairness Fr. Hopko did publish in another essay his take on what an Orthodox Papacy might look like in the modern world. It's worth admitting that while I often see essays that tell Rome what it must do for communion I think this is the first one (from our side) that has addressed what we might have to do. In closing I will say that his points about forgiving past grievances are totally true IMO.
Probably not, actually. The Eastern rite synods appoint their bishops, currently, and the Holy See just recognizes their election.
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This is a wonderful article; thank you for posting it!
As a Roman Catholic parishioner in an Eastern Catholic Church, there are some 'corrections' , or perhaps these are simply misunderstandings, in the above text.
First of all, the Holy Father is pope of the Catholic Church - west and east, which includes the Roman Catholic Church. There are 22 different Catholic Traditions, including Byzantine, Armenian, Coptic, Chaldean, Melkite, Maronite, Ukrainian, and Ruthenian.
Fr. Hopko gets bonus points for acknowledging 'attachment to liturgy' as a stumbling block. Correct me if I am wrong, but I get the impression from some of my Orthodox friends here at FR that their respective churches fear Vatican imposition. This has been a problem in the past, where well intentioned representatives from the Vatican burned the liturgical books of certain Eastern Churches (I speak here of my Maronite Catholic family which went along in order to remain faithful to the Magisterium). Much has changed since then. We now have the example of the Anglicans who re-united with the Vatican, on the stipulation they could retain their liturgy, derived from the Book of Common Prayer. The agreement was concluded with the understanding that certain aspects of their liturgy needed to be updated to bring it into conformity with the teachings of the Magisterium. This is also true of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church which reunited with Rome during the past century. Some of us were truly blessed to witness their liturgy, live on EWTN.
As for 'unleavened bread' and 'confirmation as a separate ritual', the majority (if not all) of the Eastern Catholic Churches have restored 'chrismation' along with the Sacrament of Baptism. There are also certain Eastern Catholic Churches that use unleavened bread - no problem whatsoever. Married clergy? All of the Eastern Catholic Churches allow for married priests, while some strongly encourage celibacy, for practical reasons.
My impression is that Father Hopko has not yet fully explored the Eastern Churches in full communion with Rome. Should he do so, he would gain great insight into how eastern theology blends perfectly into the Catholic Church. The Eastern Churches, like their Orthodox neighbors, fall under the leadership of a Patriarch.
I treasure this photograph of Mar Nasrallah Cardinal Peter Sfeir, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, meeting with Pope John Paul II. He serves not only as Patriarch of the Maronite Church but also as Cardinal. Following the death of JPII, (then) Cardinal Ratzinger called upon Cardinal Sfeir to organize and lead the 'Novendiale Mass' for all the Eastern Catholic Churches. Naturally, the reunification of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches would open the door for a future pontiff, from the (former) Orthodox Churches. What a glorious celebration that would be!!
Orthodox ping. Might be worth a look, gang.
This is an excellent article, and he is right on target about trying to seek out the essentials (on which no compromise is possible) and put the other things to the side.
He also makes a good point about the fact that internal unity is something that the Orthodox Church has to achieve first. Much of Orthodox disunity is the result of historical political situations, since the Orthodox churches were often much more subject to local governments than was the Catholic Church, whose leader and "main office," so to speak, was not in the same country as its "branch offices" and hence were a little freer. This freedom had to be fought for constantly and there was often great friction between temporal rulers and Catholic authorities; Henry VIII was essentially the first Western European monarch who permanently drove out Rome and made the State the head of the Church for his own purposes. But for historical reasons, one being the fact that many Orthodox churches found themselves fighting for their existence in suddenly Muslim countries, the Orthodox Church was never really able to assert its independence from the State, with the result that a lot of simply national rivalries carried over into religious life and are particularly reflected in the US, where all these national groups have to coexist and have contact with each other.
Hence the Orthodox Church in the US has a golden opportunity to unite and become the model for Orthodox unity - for doing what Fr. Hopko said, that is, sorting out what is essential from the massive accumulation of historical (but destructive) inessentials.
To finish reading later.
God bless you for posting this. God bless Father Hopko. He is a good man working for Mercy between all Christians, but NOT Mercy at the price of compromising on the Truth that Christ came to reveal. I am a Catholic. It would be indescribably magnificent for the reunification of our churches to occur: a sign of the power of God’s Love and Mercy working through our people for all the world to see. I believe that Mercy is the only power that heal the divisions in the body of Christ, yet not a false Mercy that tolerates error with regard to the Truths that Christ came to bring. I believe that both Catholic and Orthodox churches will ultimately, with humility and a SINCERE commitment to unity, do whatever it takes to reunite once they awake to realise that they MUST unite against Satan or risk the virtual destruction of our civilisation. Satan’s plan, from the beginning, has been the oldest one in the book: divide and conquer. He has successfully played that game for 2 millenia and is now trying to break apart the very basic building block of society: the family. The weapon against Satan: I believe it is the Divine Mercy Message and Devotion revealed to Saint Faustina Kowalska as documented in her diary “Divine Mercy in My Soul”. Jesus says: “My Mercy will triumph in the end”. I believe this.
A unity based on Christian love and humility is so important to acheive. If we could only start by unifying the dates of Easter!
Please visit www.onedate.org and sign the petition to celebrate the Feast of Easter on one date.
Peace, Love and Unity