I talked to Melodist about this post and decided that it might be worthy of its own topic, as it addresses a very basic ecclesiological question.
Did Rome break communion with every other patriarch during these times? my point is that while Orthodoxy can be used to refer to beliefs, the Church is not a set of beliefs, but the Body of Christ, and while there was struggle and conflict within the Body, it all happened within the context of inside the Body.
I think the real question is: can schism really happen within the Body of Christ at all, or is it logically necessary that it happens from the Body, separating one party of the schism from the Church?
Well are we doing armchair theology, or are we talking about praxis? Now and then I am loath to cleave what is mystical into neat little scholastic divisions... We have traditions, and we recognise the real activity of the Holy Spirit Himself in history. We don't go back and second guess any of that.
But at the practical level--and this is from someone who was ROCOR when ROCOR wasn't cool--schism means the irresistible and incontravertable fact that concelebration has become impossible, and that as a consequence, intercommunion has become impossible. I think the reason that we don't really have a neat little Aristotelian calculus to exhaustively define and describe schism is precisely because we don't really understand it in the first place. In a schism, you don't really know what's
going on. It's like the whole world's gone crazy. We trust now, however, that Moscow has cleaned house and will continue to do so....
While on the other side, we have parishes in good standing with the EC, SCOBA and what-have-you here and there where one who is Orthodox may in fact suddenly find it impossible to commune under any circumstances. A good priest (from another jurisdiction) will discipline one for this: "You must be obedient," etc. "The sacraments there are valid; you must not turn away and refuse" etc., and he's right; but then again
there is something really fishy going on at parish X... The air is just heavy with heresy, the reality that the assembly is in fact a schismatic cult is so thick it could peel the paint off the walls. And yet, somehow, everything administrative is in order, antimins, everything. Pray for the priest, attend inquirers classes and Bible study as much as possible to promote real Orthodoxy as much as you can, and love the people
. If the Holy Spirit moves your conscience after that, well then, I figure you gotta do what you gotta do. Hopefully it won't mean a 300 mile drive every sunday or something like that.
Schism is, I believe, an optimistic word after all. It shows hope for the potential that is still there in a misguided assembly. In the case of the MP, there was pretty much no Church to be schismatic from
. It was a propaganda and information collection service for the KGB, and a diplomatic tool used to influence Catholic policies. The good clergy who were bound to the MP were so out of obedience, but they really were on their own until the reunion, which healed both the ROCOR and MP simultaneously.
Now there are some who did not take the reunion well and departed to other Old Calender jurisdictions. Do I regard them as schismatic? I certainly do not! That's a lot of bishops' business!