...They often descended to blatant bashing of the Catholic faith and did so without consequence.
There is a difference between answering an honest question honestly and bashing. I myself answered without hesitation many times about things I thought were heretical in RC teaching, but that was the only way to answer those questions, frankly and honestly. Some people were offended, but it was not bashing. Besides, there we were in an Eastern Christian section being asked what we thought of western Christian theology.
I believe that you may be now witnessing the same problem with some of your Eastern Catholic faithful as you had with Orthodox. They did not have to answer these direct questions before, because the Orthodox would be there to take them.
The theology is a bit different, and for most of the east the liturgy is reflective of that theology. Any eastern Catholic who follows a liturgy faithful to the tradition could have cognitive dissonance if they pay any attention at all. The liturgy does not support Latin theology.
Most (idealistic, I should add) Roman Catholics want to believe that there are two (or more, I suppose) valid expressions of just one Truth: the Latin expression and whatever else is in communion with Rome. Eastern Catholics are more or less expected to believe it (and Orthodox don’t believe it). But that concept reduces the expression (basically liturgical/devotional) to a superficiality, just a veneer of one thing over something else.
In other words, RC often make a point of emphasizing Rome’s concessions to the easterners, ALLOWING them their liturgy, and PERMITTING them to omit the Filioque. But what is implied is that they must be interiorly Latin, because all
of the de Fide
definitions are composed with a Latin understanding. It’s something difficult for RC to grasp, I think. Like a fish in water doesn’t realize it is in water, or we forget about gravity and the air we breathe…it is so ubiquitous we don’t really see it.
Eastern Christian MUST accept Latin theology as true, even if they themselves do not understand it, they must make a mental assent to it! The same is not expected of Latin Christians, they are not expected to make a mental assent to eastern theology even though Roma allows eastern churches to teach it as valid theology. Frequently, one will find Latin polemicists blowing in, attacking eastern theology. Theoretically they really cannot do that without attacking the official theology of the Papacy over all, but they feel very comfortable doing it.
All you need to do to verify this theology is accepted by Rome is to obtain a copy of eastern Catholic catechisms. There are several out there.
So this is the dilemma. For easterners the theology is treated like a superficiality. But when Eastern Catholics look at Latin theology as ALSO a superficiality, Latins get very upset, and the de Fide’s
start rolling off the keyboards.
Catholics, on the other hand, who defended the Catholic faith well were often disciplined by the moderator.
I don’t doubt the vigorous defense of Catholics with a Latin understanding, I witnessed it, but from what I saw it was very often demeaning polemics rather than clever or accurate argumentation. Should I say ‘usually’ calculated to pick a fight? That seemed the usual to me.
But these same RC (mostly RC) were swamping the Eastern Catholics in their contention with the Orthodox. Eastern Catholics for the most part believe what Orthodox believe, except that they have this desire to be in communion with Rome. Essentially they have bought into the argument that it is preferable to be in communion with Rome, and are struggling to stay there, but the Latins (and like-minded) are making acceptance of Latin theological constructs a litmus test for their catholicity. They are not being respected for who they are and where they come from. By referencing Ott and setting that as the standard you are pushing them out. A lot of the moderation had to have this in mind.
I think the moderator by and large wanted to create a space for EC and Orthodox to come together, in the interests of the stated ecumenical aims of the late Pope JP II. I was present on the CAF forums when the concept was first floated and that was a strong argument at the time. On the other hand some (many) Latin’s were looking for a place to debate Orthodox (or discredit them, as rivals), and did not give a *hoot
about bridge building between EC and OC. By concentrating all eastern topics in that one place it was like fish in a barrel: the EC were ghettoized to some extent, and the Orthodox were like the targets at a carnival shooting gallery. The attacks against the Orthodox and the Orthodox responses left the EC as an almost overlooked bunch. The moderator kept trying (as best as I can tell) to keep the dialogue with Orthodox open and protect the eastern theology (which, as I say, is valid per the RC church).
Ideally (from the RC point of view) the Catholic apologists should have been able to kick but in there. The fact that they did not cannot be blamed on the moderation, the moderator doesn’t compose posts.
To make matters worse, it had gotten to the point where Catholics were not allowed to articulate the CATHOLIC position that the EO Church is not Catholic in the full sense of the word.
I don’t doubt that this is the longstanding Roman Catholic position. It is not the position of most Eastern Catholic churches, who see their own origins and legitimacy in these same Orthodox churches. The (still living at the time) Pope John Paul II was reaching out to the east, and calling eastern Christians non-Catholic is a deep insult to their Faith. Let there be no mistake about it, Eastern Orthodox-Catholics do not want to be mistaken for Roman Catholics by any stretch of the imagination, but the Roman Catholic Church simply does not have the ability to close the canon on who the Orthodox are, it is not an exclusive club for Papists regardless of what anyone thinks. The moderator tried very hard to respect all points of view in the interest of open dialogue, I am sure that in high level dialogues with the Papacy the Orthodox can call themselves Catholic without a objection.
Theoretically you must admit (I hope) that if the Orthodox church was Catholic before the schism, and it has not changed, it is still Catholic by those same first millennium standards.
It was just strange that the Catholic position was censored and the EO position allowed to be freely expressed on a Catholic website.
I disagree, I don’t believe that to be the case at all, and I was a member there for years. You should provide examples of moderation that illustrates that. Perhaps you are identifying the Latin Catholic position with the ‘Catholic’ position.
Furthermore, there were threads that celebrated people's conversion away from the Catholic Church and to the EO churches.
That is unfortunate. I always tried to discourage that, to the point of sending PM’s. I even encouraged one person to pull down her post, if there was still time, but to no avail. Simple announcements are OK I think, but not long celebratory threads.
I felt it was inappropriate insofar as we were guests. The longtime posters would keep their responses muted but many of the newer (and I suppose, younger) posters went a little extreme in their happiness for the person. I sometimes wish the moderator had removed such threads or closed them quickly, but that might have simply brought more attention to the phenomena.
But the reality is that this openness generated a lot of goodwill for CAF and the Roman Catholic church as well. Perhaps that is hard to see from where you stand. I know a great many Protestants chose to become RC as well, even after lurking around the EC area, but the normal place to announce a conversion to Latin Christianity was elsewhere. It’s anyone’s guess as to whether this was ultimately a plus or a minus for CAF, but the financial contributors clearly were irked by it.
The fact that we were dialoging at the level we were for as long a time as we did was a great achievement I don’t think will be repeated any time soon.
From a Catholic perspective, these people were committing mortal sin and it was being celebrated.
That is only one of several possible conclusions one could arrive at from a ‘Catholic’ perspective.Michael*Minor word edit
We understand your hurt feelings over this apparent rough treatment but please temper your words as if you were in church.