Skip to comments.3000+ come into union with Rome at one time
Posted on 05/13/2008 7:30:17 AM PDT by Balt
[The following joyful announcement is lifted from the Rorate Ceali blog. --PP]
The Chaldean Catholic Diocese of St. Peter and Paul has formally received into its fold, those members of the Assyrian Catholic Apostolic Diocese who, under the leadership of Mar Bawai Soro (pictured above), had asked to be reconciled with the Catholic Church last January 17, 2008.
One bishop (Mar Bawai himself), six priests, 30+ deacons and subdeacons and an estimated 3,000 faithful were received into full communion during liturgical celebrations for the Feast of Pentecost.
Mar Bawai Soro has long advocated the Primacy of the See of Rome. On November 2, 2005, he presented to the Synod of Bishops of the Assyrian Church of the East (of which he was a bishop at that time) a paper entitled "The Position of the Church of the East Theological Tradition on the Questions of Church Unity and Full Communion" in which, among other things, he stated that...
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 bishops?
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?
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. Following upon his suspension, Mar Bawai and the clergy and faithful who had remained loyal to him formed the Assyrian Catholic Apostolic Diocese, then proceeded to draw ever closer to the Catholic Church through the Chaldean Catholic Patriarchate. How fitting that they finally came home on Pentecost Sunday.
by Carlos Antonio Palad
[Mar Bawai's diocese is headquartered in California. The Chaldean Catholic Patriarcate governs all Chaldean Catholics from the Patriarchal See in Iraq.
After rejoicing in the good news, your PP paused to wonder how the various members of the Eastern Catholic press will treat this news. In recent years, some political correctness has crept into some publications, most notably, One magazine, with which Father Venditti exchanged some correspondence which you can read back in the posts for 5/16/2007 and 5/24/2007. According to Executive Editor Michael J. L. La Civita, there are only two forms of Christianity, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox. When questioned on this by Fr. V, Mr. La Civita said he had a mandate from the Holy See to "act if is the Church is [already] one," though he failed to provide any documentation to support this odd claim.
So, the betting pool is now officially open. I'm betting that One magazine doesn't report this story. But on a happier note, let's all join together in a prayer of thanksgiving and support for Bishop Bawai and the 3000+ priests, deacons and faithful he has brought into union with the See of Peter. --PP]
Michael J. L. La Civita, Executive Editor
1011 First Avenue, New York, NY 10022
Dear Mr. La Civita,
First, I wish to acknowledge that I am not a subscriber to One magazine; though occasionally issues are sent to my rectory. The particular issue, the content of which concerns this letter, was not one of these. A copy of it was given to me by one of my parishioners. It is the July, 2006, issue bearing the title The Legacy of the Rusyns. The article in question is your own: The American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church.
While it is certainly proper for a Catholic magazine often concerned with Eastern Christian affairs to feature an occasional article on Orthodox Christians, I hope it will not require much explanation for you to realize why I, a priest of an Eastern Catholic Church which is the spiritual patrimony of the Rusyn people, am offended by the characterization of a small schismatic Church, a tenth the size of our metropolia, as such.
When the Rusyn people came to this country, they came as Catholics. After decades of persecution at the hands of the Latin hierarchy in this country - and after two schisms - they succeeded in building an ecclesiastical community rich in tradition and spirituality. When the schismatic Church featured in your article broke away from us, the treatment they received from the Latin hierarchy was much to blame, as your article correctly points out; but by taking up the story from there with the history of the schismatics, and styling it as the continued, unbroken history of Rusyn Christians in the United States, your article hurls a colossal insult to the vast majority of Ruthenian Catholics who remained faithful to the unity of the Catholic Churches.
Sadly, this is not the only time your magazine has engaged in the politically correct acquiescence to the oft expressed Orthodox position that the only true Eastern Christians worthy of the title must not be in union with Rome. Four months later, in the November issue of that same year, your magazine featured a cover story by Yereth Rosen entitled Orthodox Alaska. Unfortunately, the article, rather than focusing on Orthodoxy in Alaska among other Eastern Churches there, clearly sought to give the impression that Eastern Christianity in that state was and had to be Orthodox, completely ignoring our parishes there.
The history of the Ruthenian (Rusyn) Catholic Church is ripe with the blood of martyrs who gave their lives in defense of their unity with the Vicar of Christ. In spite of the fact that our Church has never been exclusively Rusyn (as my own name suggests), it is a fact that the majority of Eastern Christians of Rusyn descent are members of the Ruthenian Catholic Church; and, all of the members of the small Orthodox communion in question were at one time (or are descendent from) members of our Church.
It seems to me that a Catholic magazine, if it wishes to alert members of the Latin Church to the richness, beauty and spirituality of the Christian East, would do well to make sure they understand that this richness, beauty and spiritual heritage need not be observed outside of unity with Rome, but can be experienced by them in thousands of churches across the country, in which they can not only observe but also participate in full communion. The lack of sensitivity occasioned in your article by the presupposition that the spiritual legacy of the Rusyn people resides in a small, insignificant schismatic Church, coupled with the complete eschewing of the fact that the vast majority of Eastern Christians of Rusyn descent are members of their own self-governing Catholic Church in union with Rome, required from me a response.
Sincerely in Christ,
(Rev.) J. Michael Venditti
Michael La Civita
1011 First Avenue
New York, NY 10022-4195
Dear Mr. La Civita,
I am very grateful that you took the time to answer my letter to you of 16 May regarding your article on the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church. There is much in your letter with which I agree; nevertheless, since your organization represents the Holy See, I thought I would impose on you one more time to express why I reacted to your article the way I did. In sharing these personal thoughts with you, I am not presuming to draw you into a debate about the issues raised; I wish only to capitalize on the opportunity to express my concerns to someone who represents the interests of the Holy See regarding such matters. I hope you will not view them as contentious or combative, as they are not intended as such; and, if inconvenient, there is no need to respond.
Without wishing to scandalize you - and speaking only for myself - you must understand that your citation of Pope John Pauls encyclical, Salvorum Apostoli, occasions mixed feelings, as our late Holy Father was not considered by many of us to be a particular friend of the Eastern Catholic Churches. Ever since Patriarch Bartholomew made clear his position that the primary obstacle to Orthodox/Catholic union was the existence of the "Uniate" Churches, it has been clear that the Holy See has increasingly viewed such Churches as an embarrassment. Pope John Pauls rejection of the invitation to participate in the celebration of the 350th anniversary of the Union of Uzhhorod - after having first accepted it - because of Orthodox criticism of the event, and his refusal to admit our late Metropolitan, +Judson, to the liturgical celebration on the feast of Ss. Peter & Paul in Rome after the Patriarch of Constantinople indicated that he would not attend if any "Uniate" bishops were present, are two of the most significant examples of this. Such incidents cause one to wonder if the Holy See regrets accepting any Orthodox Christians into union with Rome, and now views the union movement of the seventeenth century as some kind of mistake it wishes it could take back.
You correctly mention in your letter the need to embrace an ecclesiology which recognizes what Catholics and Orthodox share without failing to recognize what sadly keeps us apart; but doesnt this beg the question: Where is the recognition of what keeps us apart if these things are never spoken of? What is the point of focusing on our shared polity on Scripture and Tradition if there is never any mention of more acute pragmatic problems, such as the indissolubility of marriage and the juridical authority of the Bishop of Rome to govern the Church of Jesus Christ? It has seemed to me that the presumption that all ecumenical dialog must begin with what we share is often motivated by a subconscious desire - perhaps even conscious, on the part of some - to minimize the importance of what we dont share, even if this means abandoning portions of the deposit of faith.
To put the question bluntly: Is there still a mission to evangelize the Orthodox, both collectively and individually, to accept the Petrine Primacy and the popes personal infallibility as defined dogmas of faith; or has the Holy See made a deliberate decision to abandon this mission, to serve what it considers the greater good of ecumenical dialog?
If the answer is the latter, than how are Eastern Catholics to view themselves in this new dispensation? Since the erection of the Ruthenian Catholic community in the USA to the status of a sui iuris Metropolitan Church, severed from its historical ties to Eastern Europe, this Church has shed its past status as an immigrant community. Our churches are increasingly populated with more and more people - including myself - who have no ethnic link to the European roots of Pod-Carpathian Ruthenia, but who have embraced the spiritual richness and beauty of Eastern Christianity in the only fully American self-governing Eastern Church in union with Rome. If the implicit policy of the Holy See now is that our Church is still to be viewed as an ethnic oddity which the Holy See hopes will one day die of attrition so as to no longer be an obstacle to Orthodox/Catholic dialog, does this mean I should cease to forward to the Apostolic Nuncio petitions from Roman Catholics who wish to become a part of our community of faith, and turn away Orthodox Christians (and Protestants) who seek from me union with Rome in an Eastern Church?
For me, these are easy questions to answer; but for you, who is charged by the Holy See to "Act as if the church is one," I wonder if such questions might be viewed as inconvenient.
In conclusion, I offer one final thought: you mention in your letter that your magazine has featured individual Byzantine Catholic communities in this country and abroad. For this I am grateful, and look forward to reading them on the web site. But I am wondering if it would be possible to feature the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church sui iuris as a whole, not as the immigrant community it once was, but for what it currently is: Catholicisms only fully American Eastern Church - a vibrant community of Catholics of diverse backgrounds and from every stratum of society (including many former Orthodox, Protestants and Roman Catholics), bound together by their love for the Catholic Faith and their appreciation for the spiritual and liturgical richness of the early Church as it developed in the Christian East.
Again, thank you for patiently responding to my previous letter, and for giving me the opportunity to express my thoughts to you on these matters. With every prayer and good wish, and asking for the same, I remain,
Sincerely in our Risen Lord,
(Rev.) J. Michael Venditti
I don’t understand all this Church politics, but I do think that Pope Benedict XVI is being led of the Spirit to reunite the “other lung” to the Body of Christ. It is my ‘best guess’ that his meeting in Turkey with Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople will result in that portion of the “other lung” ultimately reuniting with the Chair of Peter and the Holy See.
God Bless us all.
We welcome the return of Rome to the collegial structure of the ancient Patriarchates.