P.S. It also amazes me that you have not objected to Byron's statement:
I'm trying to better understand why Eastern Catholics are reluctant to re-join the Orthodox church.
I think that you understand what I am saying and you simply can not let it pass. In my posts here over the years I have been extremely sympathetic to and understanding of Eastern Catholics to the point where many of the hard-core Orthodox here, and elsewhere, will accuse me and my late Bishop, Metropolitan Nicholas, of being "pro-'Uniate' ". (not my word, I am using it for effect, not offense.) You just can't please all of the people all of the time.
My real problem is with the Church of Rome's position regarding the Eastern Catholic churches; with the failure of the Eastern Catholic Ruthenian Bishops in this country to assert their historical rights and act like the 'sui juris' Church that the Church of Rome claims them to be and a number of other issues. However, since I am not an Eastern Catholic I really can't answer why more Eastern Catholics do not feel a desire to 'return' to Orthodoxy.
Frankly, I am neither concerned with those decisions of others nor do I lose any sleep over them nor do I harbor any ill will towards my friends for the decisions that they make regarding faith. However, if one sincerely believe that you (and your ancestors) didn't leave in the first place I think that answers your question. My grandparents 'left' the Greek Catholic Church because the Greek Catholic Church that they cherished was in the process of leaving them in the 1930's. They first formed the Committee for the Preservation of the Eastern Rite and made their case to Rome, who ignored their heartfelt petitions and responded by actually excommunicating people like my mother's father and my father. Only then did they turn to Constantinople. Others honestly reached a different conclusion. In any event, I truly think that Rome would have been far happier if the Greek Catholics in the US had simply disappeared.
Thanks for your reply. I think i understand what you are saying. EC's historically perceived themeselves as "Orthodox" until a few decades ago (circa 1940's and the liquidation) but not so much nowadays. Is this correct?
You grandparents were excommunicated by Rome? That's harsh, very harsh. They must have been devastated.
Btw when i say re-join i meant rejoin the original faith of their ancestors. Although as you say the centuries pass and new cultural traditions are formed, isn't the knowledge that the Unia was formed by political intrigue, ulterior motives and possibly violence, in the background of people's minds? Don't EC's find this shameful or wrong? Or is just too far in the past for people to care?
I would agree but not as specifically as you might think. It is hard to express what I am trying to say in English. For example, people of my grandparent's time would not have called themselves 'Pravoslavnjy' as that was for the 'real' Russians or for the 'katzaps' (a derogatory term used to describe those who left the Greek Catholic Church for RUSSIAN oriented Orthodoxy. Nor would they have described themselves as 'Catholic' as that would have referred to the Roman Catholics. Many of the larger villages, towns and cities in the eastern Europe of the Hapsburghs would have multiple churches, a Greek Catholic one, a Roman Catholic one and sometimes a Lutheran or other Protestant sect so they knew the differences existed. They would not have communed in the the Roman Catholic Church in the old days. They 'knew' what their faith was and they self-described it as I alluded to earlier. Their experiences with Roman Catholic clergy over the centuries made them realize that they had a different status within the Church even though both commemorated the Popes by the mid-18th century. That reality was brought home to the Greek Catholic pioneer priests in America as witnessed by St. Alexis and his interaction with Archbishop Ireland and some forty years later to Fathers Chornock, Molchany, Mihaly and others who left for Orthodoxy.
Again, as I said above, the schisms within the Greek Catholic world in America, coupled with the forced liquidation of the Greek Catholic Church in Slovakia and Ukraine following the war forever altered the status quo. Today most of my non-clergy Eastern Catholic friends do perceive themselves first as Catholic and most will commune in a Roman Catholic Church or attend Mass there if, as one told me recently, they 'are in a hurry.' The clergy are the ones most likely to self-describe themselves as 'Orthodox in union with Rome.'
However, an odd thing seems to be happening from my perspective. As many of the Latinizations within the Eastern Rites have been removed since Vatican II many do have an increased consciousness of their affinity with the Orthodox. There has been a campaign to restore the external 'eastern-ness' of the Greek Catholic churches over the past two decades. Some Eastern Catholics who grew up during the period of Latin influence actually oppose these restorations of older traditions.Yet, at the same time the numbers within the Eastern Catholic churches in the USA have been dropping even more precipitously than those of their Orthodox counterparts according to the recent data from various sources.
As to Peter's question, I think that my use of 'wrong' to describe his statements was probably inaccurate. From what I can see, my perspective on these issues is formed from 'within' and his is based upon 'external' observation and acquired knowledge. Hence, the proper perspective is, as is usually the case, probably somewhere in the middle. I am just trying to express what I have have learned over my life from my parents and grandparents' beliefs and life-experiences and from growing up in a neighborhood with two large parishes staring at each other, one founded in 1904 and Orthodox since 1939 - the other equally large Greek Catholic parish founded in 1942 as a result of the schism and built by the same peoples from the same villages, whose community was sundered by forces beyond the control and understanding of the pious people who came to America, worked hard, sacrificed much and tried to keep the faith as it had been given to them as a precious gift from their fathers and mothers. (Actually there is a third parish in the same neighborhood, one which split off from mine in 1915 and became part of the earlier wave of return to Orthodoxy and now OCA - again, built by the same peoples, from the same villages etc...)
In my city, there was an epic, expensive and bitter split in the 1930's which resulted in litigation that went on for years and years until 1942 when the 'independent' faction, now the Orthodox, finally won control of the Church properties. The people were so mean-spirited that they would not allow the losing side to remove their loved ones from the parish cemetery without further litigation and court orders. When my father became the pastor of the Orthodox parish in 1961 and as I was growing up in the 1960's people would cross the street rather than pass in front of one church or the other. The great 'borba' (literally the Church war) was fresh in the hearts and minds of those impacted by it.
However, today we realize that in many ways the two parishes are like a family that had a bitter argument and didn't speak for decades. Little steps towards better understanding have occurred while still respecting the different paths each took. When we celebrated our centennial some years back, the Byzantine Catholic parish had a large contingent who participated in the events and they presented our parish with an Icon of our patron saint. That was an incredible moment of healing for those still living from the days of hatred and division.
The straw that broke the parish's back in the mid 1930's was the celibacy decree and the attempt by Bishop Takach to remove a beloved pastor and his family and send a celibate priest to 'tame' the parish.
God must enjoy irony. During Holy Week we learned that the long time pastor of the Byzantine Catholic parish was being transferred and a new priest was being sent. Normally, this would not be big news. But, the irony is that almost eighty years after the unrest began, the Byzantine Catholic parish is being sent a married priest, with a Pani and a child. He was educated and ordained in Slovakia and his wife is from the states. I guess all that goes around comes around in life. The first married priests came from Europe a century or more ago and met resistance from the Roman Catholics. Today our Byzantine Catholic friends and neighbors don't know quite what to expect or how to deal with a married priest. I am sure they will figure it out.
Frankly it is difficult for scholars, clergy and lay people whose life experiences were not formed in this potent cauldron to fully understand and comprehend the nature of our mutual understandings. Hence, when I read harsh comments from the Orthodox about the Eastern Catholics like those expressed by Metropolitan Hilarion, a man whom I generally respect a great deal, I tend to take them with a large grain of salt. Likewise, when I see similar thoughts expressed from the Roman Catholic side, my instinctive reaction is to overreact, but I realize that is probably not the proper way to respond.
Christ is Risen!