I disagree with you here. I depends what you mean by "closer to Orthodoxy". I am pretty sure the Greek Catholics of Eastern Europe were and still are, in fewer places nowadays, much closer to real life, lived Orthodoxy (well, sometimes to the point of being quite identical, apart some paper stuff) than any Westerner at the time could have been, even if they became sacramentally Orthodox.
I accept responsibility for the direction of this thread, as my inquiry is apparently in some minds worthy of discussion, while in others' incomprehensible...I get it.
My intention of posting my inquiry on Orthodox forum under the topic of Convert Issues was simply that: Does my situation boil down to a convert issue? Is being a Russian Byzantine Catholic without a parish a reasonable/viable compromise for a reared Roman Catholic to participate as fully as possible in the faith/spiritual life and practice of a Russian Orthodox spouse without converting to Orthodoxy? Or must I simply remain separated from my wife in spiritual life and practice by sticking with a Roman Catholic faith/spiritual life and practice?
On a certain level, I think you will understand your wife better if you use the same prayers and practice similar devotions. You will probably feel more commonality with each other in that sense- if that's all you're looking for, then that's a good option. On the other hand, from an Orthodox perspective, "Byzantine Catholic" is not a halfway point or a happy medium- it is, in our view, counterfeit. Going "Byzantine Catholic" doesn't bring you any closer to Orthodoxy than visiting Epcot Center in Disney World brings you to France or China.
But then again I look at Orthodoxy as more of a living reality, a way of life, a concrete thing than a set of dogmas to which intellectual assent is required.
We had a minor writer (Ion Agarbiceanu was his pen name) who was also a greek-Catholic priest in a village in Transylvania from well before the the WWI to 1948 when the GCC was abolished. His short stories and memoirs are very beautiful, painting a world that, imo, is orthodox in all its basic co-ordinates, even though I know he was a Greek-catholic priest, and the characters of his stories are, most likely, Greek-Catholic. He never says what Church they belonged too.
I have to agree with Augustin regarding Greek Catholics. Living among them and/or coming from them,(as both he and I can attest) it is really not possible to define them as 'counterfeit'. Living in a sort of 'limbo' maybe, but 'counterfeit' - not really.
Certainly, until the modern era of mass communications, those faithful Greek Catholics in Europe lived their lives as did their ancestors in an 'Orthodox' manner. The 'old-timers' who were betrayed in America and Canada by the Latin hierarchy would simply refer to their church as 'nas Cerkov', or 'our Church.' For the most part they did not view themselves or the practice of their faith in terms of Vatican politics or an Orthodox episcopacy. To many of them Orthodoxy was unfortunately, and erroneously, equated with Russian imperialism.
It was only when they came face to face with the reality of being a sliver of a minority within American Catholicism, a minority group itself, that they began to realize the tenuous nature of their existence. I think that it is fair to say that in the 'diaspora' (to use a term we use frequently to describe Orthodox in non-Orthodox worlds) Greek Catholics have had a much harder path to follow as they attempt to carve out a place for themselves in a Protestant society with a large Latin Catholic minority. It was a 'Sophie's Choice' to many of them as they felt squeezed between two competing monoliths - the religious imperialism of Rome and the cultural imperialism of Moscow.
Hence to some, preserving 'nas Cerkov' meant having to make a difficult, and heart wrenching choice. It has to be noted that when faced with the liquidation of the Greek Catholic Church by Soviet 'diktat' following the Revolution in Ukraine and the Second World War across the rest of East Europe, most chose to go underground until the lessening of the grip of the Soviet bear. The damage caused by the Soviets to the faith of both the Orthodox and Greek Catholics in those regions is impossible to calculate. Any real hope of a return to Orthodoxy in those regions akin to what happened through the choice and actions of the people in America was likely lost for generations and the ill will that remains there is difficult for us Americans to fathom.
I 'defend' the Greek Catholics not in the sense of defending their existing schism or error, but in the reality of trying to explain to Orthodox who have never had to deal with these complex issues to try to understand them in a kinder, more compassionate manner. Please keep them in your prayers. Thank you.