I won't speak for Fr. Ambrose, but the problem I see with it is that it is a very stark contrast to Boniface VIII's Unam Sanctam. The problem that I and some other Orthodox have with this is the about face in doctrine that the Church of Rome has made. In the mid 1500's Luther and his doctrines were anathematized. Is that still the case? Would the modern RCC go back and "de-anathematize" certain heretics and heresiarchs such as Arius and Pope Honorius saying that they really are a part of the church but are 'separated brethren?'
It makes me very uncomfortable to see Rome's problem with being able to stick to its guns. Its sort of like a girl that won't date a guy who is indecisive and can't commit to anything. When will this flip-flopping of doctrine cease in modern Roman Catholicism? Please understand that I don't say this with any malice or derision intended at all.
Andrew, what modern doctrinal flip-floppings do you have in mind? Are you objecting to all restatements of doctrine? Are you objecting to all clarifications, refinements, and corrections of theological teaching? Are there specific doctrines that you have in mind?
You cite Pope Boniface's bull Unam Sanctam, but this is not a helpful example, since the teaching of this papal bull was never fully received into the teaching of the Catholic Church. As you know, the Catholic Church does not teach that the Bishop of Rome is infallible in all of his utterances. Not only is Unam Sanctam not recognized by most Catholic theologians as containing a binding dogmatic definition, but it is studied precisely as an example of a papal encyclical that does not fulfill the conditions of infallibility.
You also cite the 16th century condemnation of Luther. I presume that you believe that you object to the doctrinal convergences between Lutheranism and Catholicism, as represented by the Joint Declaration on Justification. Is your concern that the Joint Declaration represents an embrace of heresy? Or is it that you object to the present ecumenical stance of the Catholic Church and would prefer the Catholic Church to have maintained a more hostile attitude to non-Catholic Churches?
The main thing I am concerned with is the past doctrine of extra ecclesiam nulla salus
. I understand the modern revision of it, but I cannot wrap my head around why it was changed for any other reasons besides ecumenical: reaching out to Protestant sectarians, if you will, and of course courting the Orthodox. First all the "Greeks" are damned for not being in union with Rome. Now we are "separated brethren" with "valid sacraments." I know that you and other Catholics will say that Unam Sanctam
was not an infallible teaching, yet it appears that it was not contested until this past century, "reevaluated", "clarified" or what have you. The current Catechism is vague in its descriptions of Jews and Muslims to the point that many Roman Catholics see their church as approving of the idea that Jews and Muslims have no need for baptism. This is spiritual schizophrenia on the part of Rome, IMHO, and it does the church of Rome no good.
Why have Bernard of Clairvaux, Thomas Aquinas, Catherine of Siena, et alia not been removed as being Doctors of your church for their fierce fight against the belief in the Immaculate Conception? I'm rather surprised that they haven't, although I do realize that many Roman Catholics (at least in my online encounters, although in real life, too) like to censor, ignore and/or skim over their Doctors' opposition to it. What started out as a somewhat isolated theologoumenon in the late Middle Ages has become a dogma that apparently carries the weight of anathema over those who disbelieve in it. The same with Papal Infallibility. Where does it end, Father, where does it end?!
What I would prefer from Rome, as someone from the outside, would be to see her have some sort of stability and make up her mind on who she is and where she stands on things. I applaud the current
view on artificial contraception, but how much longer will it be the current view and later become antiquated and outdated? Today the RCC says women cannot be priestesses, what is to stop them from doing an about face tomorrow after some "enlightening" or "revision" or "clarification." After all, people could cite Pope John Paul II's encyclical about women in the priesthood and say that it does not matter because it was not an infallible statement.
The church of Rome's indecisiveness is rather telling.
The reason I mentioned Luther, was because I am waiting for the day when it is decided by Rome that he was really not a heretic after all, and meant well, and well you know the rest. Surely you understand how troubling this is for an outsider looking at Rome, much less someone who abandoned Rome for Holy Orthodoxy such as myself.
I suppose one could view these changes of opinion, revisions in view, enlightenment or whatever other label people want to stick on it, as Rome seriously evaluating her past and making amends. If this is the case, I still find it rather dangerous, given all the upheaval that came with Vatican II in the 60s, but somewhat hopeful that maybe she will abandon Papal Infallibility and Supremacy, nix the filioque and among other things. One can dream!
I believe that Rome should tread carefully, lest she end up like her Anglican brethren, and should make up her mind about what she believes once and for all. Returning to Orthodoxy would be a good start. Please know that in no way do I bear any grudges, hatred or any such things against the church of Rome, but I am very concerned at her direction and could no longer support it. I sympathize with those SSPX and other groups within and without your church struggling to hold onto the traditions that had been given to them. I pray that they will come to Orthodoxy as I pray that you and others in your situation will as well.
Please pray for me, a sinner.