Skip to comments.3,000 Assyrians Received into the Catholic Church
Posted on 05/12/2008 5:25:02 AM PDT by Petrosius
Five days later, Mar Bawai was suspended by the Holy Synod of the Assyrian Church. The story behind this, as well as the full text of the paper on papal primacy that Mar Bawai had presented to the Synod, can be found here.
The Church of the East attributes a prominent role to Saint Peter and a
significant place for the Church of Rome in her liturgical, canonical and
Patristic thoughts. There are more than 50 liturgical, canonical and Patristic
citations that explicitly express such a conviction. The question before us
therefore is, why there must be a primacy attributed to Saint Peter in the
Church? If there is no primacy in the universal church, we shall not be able to
legitimize a primacy of all the Catholicos-Patriarchs in the other apostolic
churches. If the patriarchs of the apostolic churches have legitimate authority
over their own respective bishops it is so because there is a principle of
primacy in the universal Church. If the principle of primacy is valid for a
local Church (for example, the Assyrian Church of the East), it is so because it
is already valid for the universal church. If there is no Peter for the
universal church there could not be Peter for the local Church. If all the
apostles are equal in authority by virtue of the gift of the Spirit, and if the
bishops are the successors of the Apostles, based on what then one of these
bishops (i.e., the Catholicos-Patriarchs) has authority over the other
The Church of the East possesses a theological, liturgical and
canonical tradition in which she clearly values the primacy of Peter among the
rest of the Apostles and their churches and the relationship Peter has with his
successors in the Church of Rome. The official organ of our Church of the East,
Mar Abdisho of Soba, the last theologian in our Church before its fall, based
himself on such an understanding when he collected his famous Nomocanon in which
he clearly states the following: To the Great Rome [authority] was given
because the two pillars are laid [in the grave] there, Peter, I say, the head of
the Apostles, and Paul, the teacher of the nations. [Rome] is the first see and
the head of the patriarchs. (Memra 9; Risha 1) Furthermore, Abdisho asserts .
. . . And as the patriarch has authority to do all he wishes in a fitting manner
in such things as are beneath his authority, so the patriarch of Rome has
authority over all patriarchs, like the blessed Peter over all the community,
for he who is in Rome also keeps the office of Peter in all the church. He who
transgresses against these things the ecumenical synod places under anathema.
(Memra 9; Risha 8). I would like to ask here the following: who among us would
dare to think that he or she is more learned than Abdisho of Soba, or that they
are more sincere to the church of our forefather than Mar Abdisho himself? This
is true especially since we the members of the Holy Synod have in 2004 affirmed
Mar Abdishos List of Seven Sacraments as the official list of the Assyrian
Church of the East. How much more then we ought to consider examining and
receiving Abdishos Synodical legislation in his Nomocanon?
Plus with the threat of Islamofacism in the Middle East, to have an ancient church return home to Rome such as this Assyrian community, this will preserve an ancient Christian rite.
“What really is seen here is that it is the power of the Holy Spirit that is calling an ancient branch of the Christian faith ( the 3,000 Assyrians ) are simply obeying the call by this same Holy Spirit to come home to Rome in unity.”
Well, BG, we don’t see it that way. We see it as a magnificent, contemporary example of Roman intrusion into the affairs of a particular church. It was just such a sort of intrusion which lead to the Great Schism. Some Orthodox hierarchs, in their understandable zeal for unity, seemed to want to forget that behavior. They wonlt be able to now as the matter is being presented to at least three patriarchial synods as part of the ongoing oversight of the dialog process. My prediction is that there will be a pause at least in the dialogs.
“This is the unity that Jesus prayed for in John 17.”
Now you see, BG, we believe that that unity will be found in Rome shedding its pretensions to rule the Church with an iron fist and humbly returning to the Orthodoxy it spurned in 1063.
“Now you see, BG, we believe that that unity will be found in Rome shedding its pretensions to rule the Church with an iron fist and humbly returning to the Orthodoxy it spurned in 1063.”
It was really the other way around, the Orthodox broke away from Rome in 1063. As it was said in the Gospel of Mathew, Jesus said to Peter that “he is the rock Jesus will build His Church on”. The Pope is the sucessor of St.Peter who did go to Rome to preach the Gospel and to give his life up there. These are the historic facts.
Count me among those who don’t really understand, Kolokotronis. If the bishop was Eastern Orthodox, that would be one thing, but given that he was in a church you ALREADY presumably believe to be disobedient, why would you care whether or not he hops from one disobedient church to the other? Why would you care if he’s disobeying a disobedient superior? It all sounds rather petty to me.
In any case, if you all believe that Rome would ever refuse communion to any individual or group of individuals who are willing to accept her teachings and enter into her, we might as well give up right now. She would not and could not any more than Noah would have refused a person who wanted to go onto the Ark and save himself from the flood. It has nothing to do with an intrusion in anyone’s affairs; it has to do with a group of people wanting to enter into the Church and the Church not refusing. If this bishop had wanted to enter into communion with the Orthodox Church would her bishops have said, “Ah, well, no. That’s bad politics. Just keep being in schism, thank you.” This makes not a bit of sense to me. Maybe the theologies of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches are more different than I thought.
This is most unfortunate. It was my understanding that we were finally coming together, and to have this setback is a disappointment.
Hey, I understand your point to a degree. If this were in fact say a Romanian Orthodox Bishop who did the same thing, I think Rome would not have handled it in the same way. But in cases where Rome is dealing with Eastern Churches that split either before the Council of Ephesus in 431 (e.g. Assyrians) or Chalcedon 451 (Armenians), Rome sees the matter differently. The Katholicos/Patriarch of the Armenians going back to the joint declaration that was signed back in 1997 or 1998 with Rome and Pope John Paul II has clearly stated that there dialogue with Rome is to bring about Full Communion between Rome and the Armenians. Now, granted, I think Rome would like it to be “corporate Re-union” with the entire Armenian Church in tact, but I think Rome is pursuing Full Communion with the Armenian Church independent of its dialogue with the Orthodox Church. On this point, do at least agree.
However, with respect to the Orthodox, I think you are correct and I would never want to see a Bishop of an Orthodox Church do something on his own apart from the rest of his particular Church. For example, there was an internet rumor going around in the late 1990s that the Romanian Orthodox Patriarch wanted to enter into Full Communion with Rome, but Pope John Paul II said that Full Communion with the Orthodox can only happen when the Patriarch of Constantinopile is ready to agree. Now, I don’t know if this is factually true in every detail, but I do remember it going around the internet during the time Pope John Paul II met with the Romanian Patriarch.
Are you familiar with this story on the Orthodox end? Anyway, your point with respect to the Eastern Orthodox CHurch, I agree with you, but for the Eastern Apostolic Churches not in communion with the Eastern Orthodox Churches, I see it somewhat differently.
Anyway, I hope this does not turn into a Catholic/Orthodox polemic. On my part, I am not interested in that and have always defended the Orthodox Church when it, along with the Catholic Church is attacked by some of the more Fundamentalist Protestants here.
“It was really the other way around, the Orthodox broke away from Rome in 1063.”
Indeed, all, that’s ALL the other patriarchates were sinful and wrong and Rome was right. OK. That’s why there won’t be a reunion in our lifetimes, BG nor in that of our grandchildren.
Dear Kolokotronis, I beseech you to let some time go by and think about this issue again. There must be a way for us to end our differences and come together.
Really, does it matter who broke from whom. For the record, it wasn’t the Pope who did anything, it was the upstart Cardinal who issued an excommunication to the Patriarch of COnstantinopile. Regardless, there were enough sins on both sides.
“If the bishop was Eastern Orthodox, that would be one thing, but given that he was in a church you ALREADY presumably believe to be disobedient, why would you care whether or not he hops from one disobedient church to the other? Why would you care if hes disobeying a disobedient superior? It all sounds rather petty to me.”
But we don’t believe that the Oriental Orthodox are disobedient, CH. By economia, we can receive the sacraments in their churches and they in ours. This is not at all true with Romans as they are not allowed to receive the sacraments in either the orthodox or the Oriental Orthodox Churches. The Oriental Orthodox are members of The Church, The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. They are not “ecclesial groups”. Rome grabbing for a disobedient hierarch and thereby frustrating canonical discipline is just too typical of Rome as we see things. This was a very stupid thing to do if Rome honestly means to pursue reunion on any basis other than total submission and subjugation to Rome.
“In any case, if you all believe that Rome would ever refuse communion to any individual or group of individuals who are willing to accept her teachings and enter into her, we might as well give up right now.”
I think that’s an excellent idea. These reunion talks are getting out of hand anyway. Heaven knows there is little enough enthusiasm for submission among the Orthodox. I wonder how long Roman churches will be allowed to function in, say, Russia, after Rome announces a willingness to accept any apostate Orthodox hierarch. :)
“Maybe the theologies of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches are more different than I thought.”
“If this bishop had wanted to enter into communion with the Orthodox Church would her bishops have said, Ah, well, no. Thats bad politics. Just keep being in schism, thank you.”
Now? Yes, I suspect that’s exactly what they would have said. 25 years ago it might have been different.
No, the theologies are very close. Its the medieval Frankish ecclesiology of the Roman Church which is at odds with the rest of The Church and therein lies, as it has for 1000 years, the rub.
“There must be a way for us to end our differences and come together.”
I don't believe that there will be reunion short of the Second Coming.
Praise God! This is wonderful news!
Why do you believe this to be so?
I hope you are wrong.
“As for ecumenism being a one way street when it comes to orthodoxy, well, I think thats a bit of a stretch but it isnt completely unfair. The truth of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of Orthodox laity, monastics and lower clergy are opposed to any reunion with the Latin Church... Its not that Orthodox people and monastics and lower clergy, as a general proposition, bear any intense animosity to Rome, not anymore anyway. Its just that most Orthodox folk really see no need for, nor do they have any desire for, reunion with Rome even on Orthodoxys terms,...”
What do you say to this, Kolokotronis?
Please note. I'm quoting Kolokotronis.
Yes, I understand.
Oh well, too bad. Unity would be nice, but when not refusing a convert equals “grabbing” for apostates and “frustrating canonical discipline,” it’s clear that petty partisanship and provincialism still hold too much sway. It looks like the ball’s in the Orthodox court, and they aren’t even particularly interested in swinging. Let’s do this again in another 1000 years.
“...this apparent expansion of Romes Uniate solution can be examined.”
Whoa! Expansion of Rome’s Uniate solution? Oh, please, come on! This man and his priests and faithful wanted in. Was he supposed to be received by the Roman Church rather than the Chaldean Church?
And what about Orthodoxy’s own “uniate” solution? Didn’t know you had one? Sure, they’re called “Western Orthodox” parishes.
“This isnt a priest or two or a few parishioners leaving one particular church for another. This is a hierarch under discipline. Thats the difference and thats what makes this a matter of concern.”
Except that he seems to be doing this out of principle - he seems to really believe in unity with the pope. How can he be turned away?
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