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Author Topic: western vs eastern theology  (Read 13098 times) Average Rating: 0
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Peter J
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« Reply #90 on: December 20, 2007, 11:21:24 PM »

Peter,

Would it be possible if you could provide me a source for this assertion? I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you!

Peace and God Bless.

Hi yeshua. No, I don't think the Catholic Church has ever come out with an official statement "Catholics aren't required to believe that there have been 21 ecumenical councils." It's rather that they haven't said "You are required to believe that there have been 21 ecumenical councils."

The Catholic Church isn't shy about saying explicitly what Catholics are required to believe. For example, Catholics are required to believe that Anglican orders are "null and void" and that the priesthood is restricted to men only, although neither of those have been dogmatically defined. (You might look at Ad Tuendam Fidem or the CDF's commentary on it.) 

And ... from the website of Melkite Catholic Church in the USA:

Quote
8 How many Ecumenical Councils were held?
          a. Seven Ecumenical Councils

9 Was the Vatican council an ecumenical council? Why?, why not?
          a. The Vatican council was not an ecumenical council – no participation from the Orthodox

I realize that's not definitive proof, but I think it strong evidence that someone can believe that there were only 7 ecumenical councils and still be a Catholic. (And, in much the same way, there's no requirement to believe that there have been such-and-such number of ex cathedra statements.)

God bless,
Peter.
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« Reply #91 on: December 20, 2007, 11:31:21 PM »

And ... from the website of Melkite Catholic Church in the USA:

I realize that's not definitive proof, but I think it strong evidence that someone can believe that there were only 7 ecumenical councils and still be a Catholic. (And, in much the same way, there's no requirement to believe that there have been such-and-such number of ex cathedra statements.)

God bless,
Peter.

I used to hear that since synods/councils tend to fall under one of seven classifications, due to schisms and lack of reception by foreign bishops, one can argue which councils are truly ecumenical, which are "General synods/councils of the East/West", and which are Patriarchal synods/councils.  So one could say all councils/synods from Lateran I to Vatican II are general synods of the west or patriarchal synods under Rome and not ecumenical.
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« Reply #92 on: December 20, 2007, 11:40:11 PM »


It seems confusing, but there are different levels of teaching or different hierarchy of truths in Catholicism. Basically, as I know it to be, there are three or four levels of teaching in the RCC:
1. Level 1: Solemn definition.
2. Level 2: Day to day teaching of the Church around the world, which has the concurrence of the world's bishops.
3. Level 3: Teaching in the official papal encyclicals.
Now I am confused.

I understand the concept of a hierarchy of Truths. But I don't see the difference on a practical level. Can a level #3 Truth be more easily refuted or denied  than a level #2? If they all "must be held" or are undeniable in some way, does that not make them all in reality #1's?

Michael
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« Reply #93 on: December 20, 2007, 11:52:14 PM »

Hello,

I looked at that quote be Pope Alexander. It appears that it was written to combat some lax ideas of morality by certain clerics and confessors (especially those of the European Monarchs and Aristocrats) who were trying to make Catholicism as "easy" as possible. The particular one quoted appears to be in reply to an effort to eliminate fasting altogether from the spiritual life of those who didn't want to. The confessor could then say - as long as there is no malice or disobedience then go ahead and not fast. This of course is a poor attitude and one rightly condemned. But this is not the attitude I have been describing in earlier posts.


Even if we were to say that to miss a fast is a mortal sin, not every act is mortally sinful. Let me explain. Let us go through the three conditions of a mortal sin:

The act in itself is sinful. For this exercise, I'll agree that the act of missing a fast for whatever reason is grave matter.

The person knows it is sinful. Well, let's assume that they do know it is gravely sinful (though this may not be the case in real life - especially in today's world Cry).

The person gives full consent of the will in light of that knowledge. If I haphazardly grab a ham sandwich and start eating and midway through realize it is a day of abstinence and stop eating - I haven't given full consent of my will. Indeed, I didn't even have the requisite knowledge of sin (condition #2 - didn't realize it was a fast day). If I am ill and eat on a fast day - it is not full consent of the will. The illness creates what could be termed a state of duress.


Did I miss anything?
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« Reply #94 on: December 21, 2007, 12:08:13 AM »

Now I am confused.

I understand the concept of a hierarchy of Truths. But I don't see the difference on a practical level. Can a level #3 Truth be more easily refuted or denied  than a level #2? If they all "must be held" or are undeniable in some way, does that not make them all in reality #1's?

Michael


I don't blame you, it can get mighty confusing.

The first level are the formal definition.  They are usually very formal and specifically outlines a certain aspect of the faith in its most basic and forward of terms.  Councils address these or the Pope himself.

The second level is the day to day teachings.  This is how the faith is taught around the world.  Since all the bishops are unitied with each other through their office and in communion with the Pope, they are seen as teaching the faith of Christ.  Where the Church is united, there is Truth.

The third level is the Pope's encyclicals.  Usually these are used to clarify a position, expand upon it, or comment on it based on society's current ways.  For example, Benedict XVI just came out with 'Spe Salvi' which discussed the relationship between hope and redemption, using many examples and references.

The forth level is submitting to the Magisterium of the Roman Church.  You view the clergy as speaking the Truth, so in turn, you submit to them.  If you ask a question about a problem, and you are told the best way to solve it, you should follow it.

Sorry if that just confused you more.  No one level is "better" than the other or anything.  They all teach what Roman Catholics view as the Faith and the Truth.  Usually as you descend a level (bad wording, but I couldn't think of a better example), it becomes more intimate.  It is all the Truth, yet it is more relatible, understandable, and "closer" to you.  If you ever read Church Canon, you know how confusing it can be, and how easily people can get the wrong idea from it.  But you learn from it by how it is taught by the Bishops, how it is more thoroughly explained and written with examples, and finally how it is perscribed in your daily lives by the clergy.

Hope that helped somewhat.  As always, I will be corrected if I am off.  I'm hardly infallible (har har har)  laugh Tongue.
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« Reply #95 on: December 21, 2007, 12:19:19 AM »

Hello,

And I don't mean to confuse you more - but in the third level (I agree that is a bad term, but I too can't think of a better one at the moment) of the encyclicals - it not just one. There are numerous levels of authority in the Pope's official writings (i.e., those not as a private theologian, like the Pope's book Jesus of Nazareth).

From this website:


Vatican documents include, in descending order of formal authority: apostolic constitutions, encyclical letters, encyclical epistles, apostolic exhortations, apostolic letters, letters and messages.

Apostolic Constitutions: Document of the highest authority, issued by the Pope, or by a Church Council with the Pope’s approval. Apostolic constitutions today have the authority of the ancient apostolic constitutions, a collection of laws from the late fourth century, which included 85 canons attributed to the Apostles dealing with ordinations, official responsibilities, and the moral behavior of bishops and priests. They eventually became the basis for canon law in the West.

When used to proclaim a Church dogma, called a Dogmatic Constitution. When used for pastoral teaching, called a Pastoral Constitution.

Encyclical Letters: A pastoral letter written by the Pope to the entire Church, generally concerning matters of doctrine, morals or discipline, or significant commemorations. Its formal title is the first few words of its official text, usually in Latin.

From the Latin encyclicus and the Greek enkyklios, circular.

Encyclicals are not divinely inspired and do not contain new revelation, but they are authoritative teaching instruments from the Vicar of Christ. In descending order of formal authority, the papal documents are: apostolic constitutions, encyclical letters, encyclical epistles, apostolic exhortations, apostolic letters, letters, and messages. An encyclical letter is written for the whole Church, while an encyclical epistle is directed toward part of the Church, e.g., bishops or laity in a particular country, leaders of religious orders, priests, etc.

The original Apostles, particularly St. Paul, used letters to keep in touch with far distant church communities. Twenty-one of these letters were included as part of the New Testament. After the Apostles passed into eternity, bishops often sent letters to one another, and sometimes to the faithful, to promote consistency in faith and discipline, especially about doctrines, feast-day celebrations, and liturgical calendars. The Bishop of Rome wrote epistles to bishops all over the world. He also received a great many letters from bishops all over the world and circulated them to other bishops.

The practice of circular letters fell into disuse during the Middle Ages, when the collegial bonds among bishops began to fray. The Holy See began to write letters to one bishop at a time concerning the affairs of his local diocese, and each diocesan bishop would in turn write only to the Holy See.

Pope Benedict XIV (1740-1758), helped by widespread use of the printing press, revived the ancient tradition of the Pope writing a common letter to all the bishops of the world; modern collections of papal letters usually begin with his papacy. Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846) called these letters encyclicals, from the Latin encyclicus, circular, because they were intended for wide circulation. However, for papal letters published between 1740 and 1870, there was no agreement among scholars as to which were encyclicals. After Vatican I (1870) encyclical letters were clearly marked as such.

Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) restored an important characteristic of the early Christian circular letters. Encyclicals since 1740 had been primarily admonitions and exhortations regarding traditional issues; Pope Leo XIII addressed new substantive issues, such as Catholic social teaching. He wrote some seventy-five encyclicals, including such classics as Humanum Genus (1884) on Freemasonry, Rerum Novarum (1891) on Catholic social teaching, and Providentissimus Deus (1893) on Holy Scripture, and Annum Sacrum (1899) on consecration to the Sacred Heart.

During the twentieth century, Pope Pius X (1903-1914) wrote sixteen encyclicals, Pope Benedict XV (1914-1922) wrote twelve, Pope Pius XI (1922-1939) wrote thirty, Pope Pius XII (1939-1958) wrote forty-one, Pope John XXIII (1958-1963) wrote eight, Pope Paul VI (1963-1978) wrote seven, and Pope John Paul II has so far written thirteen.

Since 1740 the Popes have produced nearly three hundred encyclicals, most of no continuing pastoral or theological interest. Pope Benedict XIV’s Quod Provinciale (1754) to the Bishops of Albania on the use of Islamic names by Christians, and Pope Leo XIII’s In Amplissimo (1902) thanking the American bishops for their good wishes on his anniversary, address no pressing needs for the Church Militant of our day. Indeed, among the encyclicals written before Pope John Paul II, perhaps ten percent are currently studied by faithful theologians.

Pope John Paul II’s encyclical letters have had a powerful impact on Church and also on non-Catholics via the public media, such as Laborem Exercens (1981) and Centesimus Annus (1991) on Catholic social teaching, Veritatis Splendor (1993) on the splendor of the truth, Evangelium Vitae (1995) on the value of human life, Ut Unum Sint (1995) on ecumenism, and Fides et Ratio (1998) on the unity of faith and reason.

Encyclical Epistles: A letter written by the Pope to part of the Church, e.g., bishops or laity in a particular country, leaders of religious orders, priests, etc.. From the Latin encyclicus and the Greek enkyklios, circular.

Because encyclical epistles are directed to a particular audience within the Church, they receive a great deal of attention from those who whom they are directed. Naturally, however, they receive little attention from those outside the audience to which they are directed.

A recent example would be Pope John Paul II’s encyclical epistle, Slavorum Apostoli on evangelization of the Slavic peoples by Saints Cyril and Methodius. It is addressed “to the bishops, priests, and religious families and to all the Christian faithful,” but certainly of more interest to the Slavic peoples than to the generality of Catholics.

Apostolic Exhortations: A letter written by the Pope to the Church encouraging its people to take some particular action.

Because apostolic exhortations do not define the development of doctrine, they are lower in formal authority than encyclical letters, which are directed to the whole Church and which may define development of doctrine.

A recent example would be Pope John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation, Ecclesia in America, January 22, 1999, encouraging the faithful to seek the living Christ and find conversion, communion and solidarity within the context of the Great Jubilee and the new evangelization.

Apostolic Letters: Document issued by the Pope or by a Vatican dicastery, usually for lesser appointments, erecting or dividing mission territory, designating basilicas, approving religious congregations, and other uses at a comparable level of importance.

Letters: A letter written by the Pope, the head of a dicastery, or other Vatican office to a Vatican official, the head of a religious order or other dignitary. The contents are of interest primarily to those to whom they are addressed. Pope John Paul’s letters of the year 2001 or even St. Paul’s letter to Philemon are examples.

Vatican offices also use letters to address points of doctrine or discipline that are not significant enough to require the Holy Father’s personal attention, or points that have already been addressed by the Holy Father but require clarification. These letters are often useful to active Catholics. A letter from the Pontifical Biblical Commission to Cardinal Suhard of January 16, 1948, Time of Pentateuch and Literary Form of First Eleven Chapters of Genesis, would be an example.

Messages: A letter written by the Pope or the head of a dicastery.

The contents are generally of transitory rather than permanent interest. Pope John Paul II’s messages are an example.

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« Reply #96 on: December 21, 2007, 12:23:53 AM »

Hello,

I looked at that quote be Pope Alexander. It appears that it was written to combat some lax ideas of morality by certain clerics and confessors (especially those of the European Monarchs and Aristocrats) who were trying to make Catholicism as "easy" as possible. The particular one quoted appears to be in reply to an effort to eliminate fasting altogether from the spiritual life of those who didn't want to. The confessor could then say - as long as there is no malice or disobedience then go ahead and not fast. This of course is a poor attitude and one rightly condemned. But this is not the attitude I have been describing in earlier posts.


Even if we were to say that to miss a fast is a mortal sin, not every act is mortally sinful. Let me explain. Let us go through the three conditions of a mortal sin:

The act in itself is sinful. For this exercise, I'll agree that the act of missing a fast for whatever reason is grave matter.

The person knows it is sinful. Well, let's assume that they do know it is gravely sinful (though this may not be the case in real life - especially in today's world Cry).

The person gives full consent of the will in light of that knowledge. If I haphazardly grab a ham sandwich and start eating and midway through realize it is a day of abstinence and stop eating - I haven't given full consent of my will. Indeed, I didn't even have the requisite knowledge of sin (condition #2 - didn't realize it was a fast day). If I am ill and eat on a fast day - it is not full consent of the will. The illness creates what could be termed a state of duress.


Did I miss anything?

I believe the quote is to do with Pascal's Lettres provinciales and comments that outlined the extremely lax fasting and abstinence practices the Jesuits were performing pased on their own reasonings and not Church teaching (amongst other things that the time).  Alexander VII condemned the letters and also "cracked down".

Athanasios, I think you pretty much got it all.  Obviously, after the fact, it is good to discuss it with your Priest, something I would have done as a RC and I will do as Orthodox, but to believe you are damned over a lapse in temporary thinking, or to accept charity and avoid unnecissary pride, is ludicrous.
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« Reply #97 on: December 21, 2007, 12:26:57 AM »

Hello,

I believe the quote is to do with Pascal's Lettres provinciales and comments that outlined the extremely lax fasting and abstinence practices the Jesuits were performing pased on their own reasonings and not Church teaching (amongst other things that the time).  Alexander VII condemned the letters and also "cracked down".
Well, I didn't really want to name names.  Grin


Athanasios, I think you pretty much got it all.  Obviously, after the fact, it is good to discuss it with your Priest, something I would have done as a RC and I will do as Orthodox, but to believe you are damned over a lapse in temporary thinking, or to accept charity and avoid unnecissary pride, is ludicrous.

Yup, scrupulosity is a sin, too. Wink
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« Reply #98 on: December 21, 2007, 02:26:01 PM »

Hello,

It should also be noted (I think I did already, but just to be sure) - that the current discipline in the Catholic Church in the United States (USCCB) is that abstaining from meat is still the de facto penance for Fridays outside of Lent, but it can be substituted for another penance of the person's choosing. For example, today is Friday - I'll be eating minestrone (I'm starting to get a cold and I want to ward it off) which has little meatballs in it. So, instead of abstaining from meat I'll be saying some extra prayers - I'll either do a Rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet. And this will still fulfill the penitential requirements as currently laid out in Canon Law and by my Bishop and Bishop's Conference.
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« Reply #99 on: December 21, 2007, 02:50:02 PM »

Hello,

It should also be noted (I think I did already, but just to be sure) - that the current discipline in the Catholic Church in the United States (USCCB) is that abstaining from meat is still the de facto penance for Fridays outside of Lent, but it can be substituted for another penance of the person's choosing. For example, today is Friday - I'll be eating minestrone (I'm starting to get a cold and I want to ward it off) which has little meatballs in it. So, instead of abstaining from meat I'll be saying some extra prayers - I'll either do a Rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet. And this will still fulfill the penitential requirements as currently laid out in Canon Law and by my Bishop and Bishop's Conference.
Would it be a sin if a Catholic did not say the penitential prayers as a substitute for the Friday penance? Mortal or venial?
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« Reply #100 on: December 21, 2007, 03:05:22 PM »

Hello,

Would it be a sin if a Catholic did not say the penitential prayers as a substitute for the Friday penance? Mortal or venial?

If a Catholic did nothing penitential on Friday (which is still a day of penitence), then it would be sinful. Would it be mortal or venial - I don't know, it depends on the conditions (did they know, give full consent?). When you would confess this to your confessor, he would be able to make that judgment.
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« Reply #101 on: December 21, 2007, 03:10:39 PM »

It really depends on your Bishop and your own personal standards to the fast.  Some Bishops do not bind their members to even abstain, some allow substitutions (personally, I don't agree with this, but many Bishops allow[ed] this), others require abstaining.  When I was a practicing RC, I followed a much stricter fast than what was required post-1983 Code and by my Bishop, but it was approved by my Priest.  Sure, I wouldn't be breaking the general fast of the Church sometimes, but I would be sinning by breaking my own fast if I did so intentionally.  The fast was spiritually good for me, so even if breaking it might not have been a mortal sin, it was still damaging.

If you are actively disobeying the fast/abstinence or its perscribed substitute, yes, it would be a sin.  Would it be mortal or venial?  Really depends on your frame of mind when you are committing it.  You see if enough times on this site about Orthodox questions, but it is the same with RCs, ask your Priest.  No harm in being educated in it.
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« Reply #102 on: December 21, 2007, 03:17:03 PM »

Hello,

Some Bishops do not bind their members to even abstain, some allow substitutions (personally, I don't agree with this, but many Bishops allow[ed] this), others require abstaining.

I don't know how it is in the Italian Church, but in the United States, the USCCB has said that a substitution of penance is allowed - though the default is abstaining from meat. Current Canon Law does allow the Bishop's Conference to decide this.

The question of whether this is prudent on the part of the Bishops is a whole different ball of wax. Wink

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« Reply #103 on: December 21, 2007, 03:24:14 PM »

Hello,

I don't know how it is in the Italian Church, but in the United States, the USCCB has said that a substitution of penance is allowed - though the default is abstaining from meat. Current Canon Law does allow the Bishop's Conference to decide this.

The question of whether this is prudent on the part of the Bishops is a whole different ball of wax. Wink



It is a fairly common practice from what I have heard all over the Western Europe and North America.  I am not quite sure where/when it started though.
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« Reply #104 on: December 21, 2007, 03:26:33 PM »

Hello,

It is a fairly common practice from what I have heard all over the Western Europe and North America.  I am not quite sure where/when it started though.


I don't know, but I would venture a guess that it has something to do with the fact that meat is no longer the expensive and rare commodity in the Western culture that it once was.
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« Reply #105 on: December 21, 2007, 03:49:39 PM »

Hello,
 

I don't know, but I would venture a guess that it has something to do with the fact that meat is no longer the expensive and rare commodity in the Western culture that it once was.

That is true, and I think it is all the more reason to give it up on Fridays.

Sigh...I slipped today. I had a bagel this morning. One half has onion and chive cream cheese, and I put bacon and scallion cream cheese on the other half. I forgot there was bacon in it. What do I do? Another penance.

Probably better anyway. I feel quite weak and ill today. I'm going to leave work early.
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« Reply #106 on: December 21, 2007, 06:31:42 PM »

I understand the concept of a hierarchy of Truths. But I don't see the difference on a practical level.

I tend to agree. If the Catholic Church says that Catholics must believe X, then practically speaking it makes little difference whether X is a dogma or not.
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« Reply #107 on: December 21, 2007, 06:34:07 PM »

I was thinking a little more about Melkite Catholics saying 7 ecumenical councils vs. Latin Catholics saying 21 ecumenical councils, and I think it will make a lot more sense if you compare to the situation in Orthodoxy.

That is to say, some Orthodox (the "Oriental" Orthodox) say 3 ecumenical councils whereas others (the "Eastern" Orthodox) say 7. But if there are only 3, does that mean that those who say 7 are not "real" Orthodox? Or if there are 7, does that mean that those who say 3 are not "real" Orthodox?

The answer to both questions is no. In the same way, we can't say that the Melkites are not "real" Catholics for saying "7 ecumenical councils" just like we can't that the Latins are not "real" Catholics for saying "21 ecumenical councils".

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