Skip to comments.Fr. Al Kimel on the 12 Differences between the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches
Posted on 08/12/2009 4:41:31 AM PDT by Teˇfilo
Folks, you all probably remember Fr. Al Kimel, legendary author of the blog Pontifications, an Anglican convert to the Catholic Church and currently a Catholic priest in New Jersey. Well, the good father wanted to comment on my post on the Twelve Differences Between the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches, but his comments were too long for the comment field. He then sent his input to me which I am now reproducing for your reading pleasure. Folks, it is my distinct honor and pleasure to present to you Fr. Al Kimel:
Your list raises many questions for me. My suspicion is that both the Latin and Eastern traditions are more diverse than is sometimes entertained. Here are some brief thoughts and questions about each of the Twelve Differences:
1) This seems accurate. The Catholic Church, of course, makes a similar claim about herself.
2) Is it true that the Orthodox Church rejects totally any understanding of ecclesial headship? What about the bishop of a diocese? Does he not wield and embody a divine authority given to him by Christ Jesus? Is he not the head of his community, which precisely is the Church? And when Catholics speak of the Pope as the earthly head of the Church, are they in any way denying that Christ alone is properly head of the Church? When Catholics speak of the primacy of the Pope, are they exalting the Pope above the Episcopate, as if their power and authority derived from him? And are Orthodox theologians incapable of entertaining an authentic primacy within the episcopal college for the bishop of Rome? I refer folks to the collection of essays *The Petrine Ministry*, ed. Walter Cardinal Kasper, and Paul McPartlan, *The Eucharist Makes the Church*. It is important to observe that the sobornost theory of Khomiakov, which has become so influential in some parts of diaspora Orthodoxy, is itself a matter of some controversy within Orthodoxy: see, e.g., Stylianos Harkianakis, *The Infallibility of the Church in Orthodox Theology*.
I am not denying that important ecclesiological differences may and perhaps do exist between the two communions, but it is not at all clear to me that they are accurately specified by a difference in "headship." Both communions struggle to assert the hierarchical authority of bishops, while at the same time grounding this authority not in power but in eucharistic love and qualifying this authority by the coming Kingdom.
3) This may be an accurate statement of a real difference, yet sometimes things are not as always as clear as they sometimes appear. See, e.g., the Ravenna document: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/ch_orthodox_docs/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_20071013_documento-ravenna_en.html.
4) This statement does not accurately represent the Catholic understanding of the Church. The Catholic Church understands the Church precisely as a communion of particular Churches and local dioceses; moreover, the Church as the universal Church is not to be understood as simply the sum or collection of all particular Churches: each diocese is itself a truly catholic body. See *Lumen gentium* and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, *Called to Communion*. Catholic ecclesiology is so much more complex and diverse than is sometimes appreciated.
5) I think that most Orthodox theologians would agree with this.
6) Does this statement accurately represent consensual Orthodox opinion? I know that some Orthodox theologians speak this way, but I am dubious that this view represents *the* Orthodox understanding of authority, particularly when Orthodox are talking, not to Catholics, but to each other, and especially when Orthodox bishops and priests are speaking to the Orthodox faithful. On the Catholic side, on the other hand, all contemporary Catholic theologians seek to interpret authority and authority through Christ Jesus and the mutual love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Even the Pope, it is now commonly asserted, presides in charity and is the servant of the servants of God.
7) I'm sure there are differences between Catholic construals of anthropology and Orthodox construals of anthropology (please note the plural); but I do not believe that this is because the Catholic Church authoritatively teaches a forensic imputation of original sin and the Orthodox Church does not. Why do I say this? Because it is not at all clear to me that the Catholic Church authoritatively teaches the *forensic* imputation of Adam's guilt to humanity. I know that some (many?) Catholic theologians have sometimes taught something like this over the centuries, but the Catholic Church has strained over recent decades to clarify the meaning of Original Sin not as the forensic transfer of Adam's guilt but as the inheritance of the Adamic condition of real alienation from God--i.e., the absence of sanctifying grace. Consider the catechetical teaching of John Paul II:
"In this context it is evident that original sin in Adamâs descendants does not have the character of personal guilt. It is the privation of sanctifying grace in a nature which has been diverted from its supernatural end through the fault of the first parents. It is a 'sin of nature,' only analogically comparable to 'personal sin.' In the state of original justice, before sin, sanctifying grace was like a supernatural 'endowment' of human nature. The loss of grace is contained in the inner 'logic' of sin, which is a rejection of the will of God, who bestows this gift. Sanctifying grace has ceased to constitute the supernatural enrichment of that nature which the first parents passed on to all their descendants in the state in which it existed when human generation began. Therefore man is conceived and born without sanctifying grace. It is precisely this 'initial state' of man, linked to his origin, that constitutes the essence of original sin as a legacy (peccatum originale originatum, as it is usually called)."
Important differences on the nature of original exist between St Augustine and magisterial Catholic teaching. As influential as the bishop of Hippo has been, his positions have not been received uncritically or without correction. For my own very fallible reflections on this question, see: http://pontifications.wordpress.com/original-sin/. I would suggest that hyper-Augustinianism is not only impossible in Orthodoxy, but it is also impossible in contemporary Catholicism.
8) Once the Catholic understanding of Original Sin is properly clarified, then the differences between Catholics and Orthodox on the topic of the Blessed Virgin's Immaculate Conception narrows considerably. What, after all, does the dogma positively assert? Nothing more nor less than the full and perfect indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the soul of the Theotokos from the moment of her conception. At no point in her existence was she ever separated from God. Do Orthodox theologians really want to assert otherwise?
9) It is certainly true that the Divine Liturgy is decisive for Orthodox faith and life and "is the true locus of Orthodox unity"; but does this represent a critical difference between Orthodoxy and Catholicism? The last time I checked going to Mass was still pretty important for Catholics, which is why the liturgy is such a battleground in the contemporary Catholic Church. Certainly the fathers of Vatican II believed that the Eucharist is the true locus of Catholic unity (see Sacrosanctum Concilium).
10) I agree here that there are important differences between Catholic and Orthodox liturgical praxis at the present time. Sadly, many sectors of the Catholic Church appear to have uncritically embraced the thesis that the Church must adapt her liturgy to the spirit of the modern age. This has been disastrous for Catholic life and spirituality. One does see signs, however, that the insanity is passing.
11) I guess there is a difference here, but is it really worth mentioning.
12) The Catholic understanding of grace, sanctification, and glorification is inadequately presented in this statement. While perhaps it might have been true at some point in the past that Catholic theologians tended to reduce grace to a created power, this cannot be asserted today. Catholic theologians are quite clear that everything begins with and centers around Uncreated Grace. Catholic theologians do have a problem with some of the Palamite construals of grace and the popular Orthodox rejection of any notion of created grace--they do not see how the Palamite position does not lead to the annihilation of human nature--but this does not mean that Catholic theologians and poets cannot envision an eschatological life as full and vivid as the Orthodox. Surely Dante's Paradiso may be invoked at this point. But I do acknowledge a difference of homiletical and ascetical emphasis between Catholics and Orthodox on theosis, sanctifying suffering, and the life of the resurrection.
I’ll pray for you.
I don’t think you understand that only the Body dies when a person dies. The soul still lives.
So whether that soul spends and eternity in heaven or hell — it is still alive.
Likewise for the souls in Purgatory that are being purged of the little incidents of damage they did to others while they were alive and for which they did not seek forgiveness.
I know we disagree on this, but wouldn’t you be surprised if you died tomorrow and found out that your soul was still alive?
Unless you are Mary, and have been bodily assumed into Heaven. According to something..I'm not sure which what made that doctrine, all I know is it isn't the Bible..
There is only one Redeemer, Jesus Christ, Our Lord.
Where do you get these crazy ideas?
No, that’s purely left to you!
Crazy Idea? Is that another one of those - worship isn’t worship?
If Jesus is the ONLY Redeemer for catholics why did their pope - say ‘Mary I’m all yours’ as he knelt before the icon statue in his embroidered worship gown? Where did he get this crazy idea that he’s passed on to his subjects. Mary can’t do a flip for him or anyone. Only disobedience to God’s Word would someone come up with that deception and commit idolatry on a level of the highest order.
The Vatican/RCC have counterfeit titles for man to mock who JESUS IS!
Jesus is The mediator - catholics say Mary is our mediator.
Jesus is The King of Kings - catholics say Mary is Queen of Heaven, etc
Jesus was the ONLY sinless one - catholics say Mary is sinless.
Jesus taught us to pray to The Father - catholics say we pray to Mary and any other saint that’s the flavor of the day.
Catholicism is over the top in deception, blasphemy, paganism, idolatry, disobedience.
Yeah, yeah, it's all about you, isn't it? If you'd become Christian, we could discuss Christianity on an even par.
The counterfeit church's interpretation of it - YES.
Then stop attending a counterfeit church.
I think that I'll stick with the Word, Is God's Word THE FINAL AUTHORITY to you?
Jesus is God's Word. That's good enough for me.
This is really a beautiful post. I feel so lucky to have been raised cradle Orthodox. Everything in this post resonates so true to me.
This was a pretty interesting thread, and then suddenly it’s like someone left a window open and Satan’s flying monkeys came in and have infiltrated the place and started throwing their feces everywhere. It’s to the point I can’t even read the FR Prots’ poste anymore without feeling like I need a shower afterward. It’s very sad :(
Either or, I'll still do the happy dance, assuming I'm still above ground.
Here’s a cure for flying monkeys, my brother! :)
Here’s another cure for the howling; she always is:
goml is correct --> Dr. BK, even highlighting this gets out the usual suspects. I know you meant well, but we can argue or even fight behind closed doors. Doing it in public is like taking a family discussion or family argument in public.
Very well put. As Cronos stated, the only way to have a discussion now on FR is in a caucus thread or via PM. Its a shame, but that's just the way it is.
However, I do believe that we are on the cusp of the end of this anti-Catholicism, and we will see a new evangelization with East and West reunited, true ecumenism replacing false ecumenism, and the heresies silenced and anti-Catholics vanquished in the near future.
I think if we let the guys with the neat hats hammer stuff out at their end, and we refer to each other as "our Brothers and Sisters from the Western or Eastern branches of the Church" to ourselves and our children, everything will work out.
In the meantime we gotta keep them windows shuttered and the Divna crankin'!
Beautiful! I have no idea what she is saying but her voice gives peace and joy.
It is called Agni Parthene and was written by +Nektarios of Aegine in the late 19th century; Here is a translation from the Theotokion:
Refrain: Rejoice, O Bride Unwedded!
O Virgin pure, immaculate/ O Lady Theotokos
O Virgin Mother, Queen of all/ and fleece which is all dewy
More radiant than the rays of sun/ and higher than the heavens
Delight of virgin choruses/ superior to Angels.
Much brighter than the firmament/ and purer than the sun’s light
More holy than the multitude/ of all the heav’nly armies.
Rejoice, O Bride Unwedded!
O Ever Virgin Mary/ of all the world, the Lady
O bride all pure, immaculate/ O Lady Panagia
O Mary bride and Queen of all/ our cause of jubilation
Majestic maiden, Queen of all/ O our most holy Mother
More hon’rable than Cherubim/ beyond compare more glorious
than immaterial Seraphim/ and greater than angelic thrones.
Rejoice, O Bride Unwedded!
Rejoice, O song of Cherubim/ Rejoice, O hymn of angels
Rejoice, O ode of Seraphim/ the joy of the archangels
Rejoice, O peace and happiness/ the harbor of salvation
O sacred chamber of the Word/ flow’r of incorruption
Rejoice, delightful paradise/ of blessed life eternal
Rejoice, O wood and tree of life/ the fount of immortality.
Rejoice, O Bride Unwedded!
I supplicate you, Lady/ now do I call upon you
And I beseech you, Queen of all/ I beg of you your favor
Majestic maiden, spotless one/ O Lady Panagia
I call upon you fervently/ O sacred, hallowed temple
Assist me and deliver me/ protect me from the enemy
And make me an inheritor/ of blessed life eternal.
Rejoice, O Bride Unwedded!
Who said that people burn in purgatory? Are you running off the rails again?
Jesus the SAVIOR is not enough for catholics - they need to clean up their sins themselves. Jesus the SAVIOR is not enough for catholics - they assign a co-redeemer for Him.
And ranting from the windshield tracts continues.
Blasphemy, Idolatry, Disobedience - won't catholics be surprised when they find out God will not be mocked.
Actually, Catholics know that heretics don't get to pass Judgement. I wonder if the popcorn will be good ballpark popcorn as we watch the proceedings.
Actually, we just watch as the churches of men practice it, and rise and fall because of it. We'll be here until the end because He promised it. As for churches of men, well, read the NT...
Teo, are you still in the sandbox? We continue to pray for you and your family.
Very good post. Too bad the actual topic got completely derailed by threadnapping.
Still in the sandbox, yes. For a few more months. :-)