Given my own background, I find articles like this very interesting, particularly when written by those who do not themselves have an RC background (or at least a well informed one - having been Roman Catholic obviously doesn't make one an expert on Catholicism!).
Here are some thoughts...
The bishops of Old Rome, beside small and non-essential differences, always held communion with the bishops of New Rome and the bishops of the East until the years 1009-1014, when, for the first time, the Frankish bishops seized the throne of Old Rome. Until the year 1009 the Popes of Rome and the Patriarchs of Constantinople were unified in a common struggle against the Frankish princes and bishops, already even at that time heretics.
While the "Franks" angle is correct (in fact this political dimension explains the why
behind the separation of Rome from the rest of the Patriarchates imho), I think the author underplays the previous problems between Rome and Constantinople, in particular the fact that there were many many situations where it was Constantinople which was the grievous offender (in particular when it was under the control of heretics.)
Also even in the best of times, the relationship between New and Old Romes was strained - the growth of Constantinople's temporal importance, and this causing it's obvious increase in ecclessiastical importance, caused problems almost right from the beginning. To imply that the seeds of the territorial/juristictional disputes between Old and New Rome were not centuries old by the time it contributed to an open schism is naive, imho.
The Franks at the Synod of Frankfurt in 794 condemned the decrees of the Seventh Ecumenical Synod and the honorable veneration of the holy icons.
True, however I have heard the argument that the Franks behind this had received corrupted translations of the acts of the Seventh Council.
Likewise in 809 the Franks introduced into the Symbol of the Faith the “Filioque” (Latin: “and the Son”); namely, the doctrine concerning the procession of the Holy Spirit both from the Father and from the Son. Now at that time the Orthodox Pope of Rome condemned this imposition. At the Synod of Constantinople presided over by Photios the Great, at which also representatives of the Orthodox Pope of Rome participated, they condemned as many as had condemned the decrees of the Seventh Ecumenical Synod and as many as had added the Filioque to the Symbol of Faith. However, the Frankish Pope Sergius IV, in the year 1009, in his enthronement encyclical for the first time added the Filioque to the Symbol of Faith. Then Pope Benedict VIII introduced the Creed with the Filioque into the worship service of the Church, at which time the Pope was stricken out from the diptychs of the Orthodox Church.
The above is true, however it leaves out that the Spanish were using the modified, filioque Creed
long before this.
The basic distinction between the Orthodox Church and Papism is found in the doctrine concerning the uncreated nature and uncreated energy of God. Whereas we Orthodox believe that God possesses an uncreated nature and uncreated energy and that God comes into communion with the creation and with man by means of His uncreated energy, the Papists believe that in God the uncreated nature is identified with His uncreated energy (acrus purus) and that God holds communion with the creation and with man through His created energies, even asserting that in God there exist also created energies. So then the grace of God through which man is sanctified is seen as created energy. But given this, one cannot be sanctified.
To be fair, though from fairly early on there were Eastern Fathers who very
clearly made this distinction between energies and essence, it would seem that the Latins were never as keen to do such. This is not to say that they did not often implicitly express this view (you can see this when Western Fathers discuss God as "Light", etc.), but the clear distinction was not present. This also explains, in my opinion, why the Western Fathers in general were not as
clear in making distinctions between what one might describe as the "Eternal Trinity" and the "Economic Trinity". Thus you have the western Father St.Hilary of Potiers, using the word "procession" (in regard to the Holy Spirit) in a way that was (at least without careful reading) not unambiguous. While this is not in my view what created
the divisive, and clearly erroneous version of filioquism
come about, it certainly is what made the spread of the errant version of the filioque
in the west possible, where it simply would not have been possible in the East.
I think what is perhaps more accurate to say (in a historical context) is that the west (via the Franks) would come to over-estimate the value of theology "by analogy" (that is to say, that we can know things about God as He is
, according to His essence, by looking at man and the rest of the creation.) While the undivided Church (this includes the consensus of the Western Fathers as well) admits a "relative" knowledge of God can be arrived at by examining His creatures (including man), She also stressed (and the East persisted in this emphasis) that actual
knowledge of God's essence is impossible. The distinctly defined teaching of energies/essence, best reflects and protects this ancient and truly Catholic affirmation about what our knowledge of God really consists of.
the Papists believe that in God the uncreated nature is identified with His uncreated energy (acrus purus) and that God holds communion with the creation and with man through His created energies, even asserting that in God there exist also created energies.
The strict identification of God's essence with His energies (God is "pure act", with no potency) is definatly what the Latins came to believe, particularly after they gave pride of place to scholasticism, where this identification is insisted upon. However, it's worth pointing out that "scholasticism" was initially not well received in the West - there were many Latins who regarded Thomas Aquinas and the movement inspired by his works as the "modernism" of it's time. With this said, the thoroughly "Augustinian" (however often this may actually go well beyond what St.Augustine himself actually taught and believed) climate that existed in western Christendom by the time scholasticism appeared, did facilitate it's spread.
So then the grace of God through which man is sanctified is seen as created energy. But given this, one cannot be sanctified.
While this may sound harsh, it's a legitimate critique of the Latin teaching. While it's hard to say just what exactly constitues Roman Catholic teaching in our times (it seems that it can be whatever one wants it to be - whether it be Protestantized Charismaticism, "Orthodox in Communion with Rome" Uniatism, Tridentine "Traditionalism", etc.), up until relatively recently it was certainly the consensus of the "theologians" in the RCC that grace is a created relationship, a created thing. It existed (in this teaching) in two forms - habitually, and actually. The "habit" of grace (sanctifying grace) being a stable condition of the soul, which could increase with the practice of virtue (though lost by "mortal sin"), and "actual graces" being the helps God is said to give souls to "do the right thing."
It's interesting to note that this teaching on grace, besides making it hard to see just how it results in a real contact with the Divinity (it would seem to teach that this only occurs "virtually"), also reduces grace to a relationship solely between God and human beings. The Orthodox teaching, otoh clearly shows that God's benevolence extends to all things - not simply men and angels, but even the animals and the world of inanimate creatures.
From this basic doctrine proceeds the teaching concerning the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and from the Son, the cleansing fire, the primacy of the Pope, etc.
I don't think the author spends enough time demonstrating why
this is. I happen to agree with him - there is definately a relationship between this, errant filioquism, and later RC errors/aggrandizements/exagerations.
--the utilization of unleavened bread in the Divine Eucharist which transgresses the manner with which Christ accomplished the Mystical Supper,
And most importantly (at least it whould be for Roman Catholics themselves) was a relatively late innovation which contradicted the Latin's own ancient custom (which was similar to that of the rest of the Catholic Church, in using leavened bread in the Eucharist.)
--the consecration of the “precious Gifts” which takes place not with the epiclesis, but rather with the proclamation of Christ’s words of institution, “Take, eat . . . drink of it, all of you . . .,”
While it is true that at one time there was an explicit epiclesis in the Roman liturgy, this fell into disuse centuries before the final schism between the Latins and the Eastern Churches. That is not necessarily a defence of this; I do agree it is an abbheration since there are many Fathers who clearly attribute the transmutation of the Holy Gifts to the invocation of the Holy Spirit. However it is one which either the Easterners were largely unaware of for quite some time, or one which did not bother them THAT much early on.
Perhaps what might soften this lack of an explicit epiclesis, is that even in the Tridentine ritual of the 20th century, there was an implicit "epiclesis" type prayer before the "words of institution" (protoclesis?) were read, in the Offertory
before the Canon. However, even acknowledging this it is clearly the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church that not only does the actual transformation of the gifts take place during the "words of institution", but that it is the words themselves that constitute the essential "form" of the Eucharist (that which makes transubstantiation occur.)
--the view that the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross satisfied the Divine justice, which presents God the Father as a feudal lord and which overlooks the resurrection,
While there are definatly troubling exagerations in popular RC piety regarding the "wrath of God" and it's satisfaction, I suppose I am one of those troubled by what Fr.Seraphim Rose (of blessed memory) and those like minded with him called "stavroclasm" - the de-emphasizing, or even negation of the place of the Holy Sacrifice of Christ Crucified, in the economy of salvation. While I do not accuse His Eminence of this, in my experience
over the top critiques of the RCC's actual dogmatic teaching on the Cross and it's value seem to go hand in hand with shades of this real (though often very subtle/academic) error.
Christ took upon Himself the sins of the entire world - He received in Himself the guilt of all men. The books of the New Testament (including the Holy Gospels themselves) are so replete with this teaching, that it really should not be THAT controversial.
Unfortunately, this stavroclasm (or shades of it) has become quite popular amongst two otherwise completely opposed camps - hard core "traditionalist" Orthodox, and theological liberals!
Connected to this, is great discomfort with the idea that God can be "wrathful", and even punish mankind. While obviously His wrath is just, and always informed with the desire to make men turn to Him with repentence (thus it is filled simultaneously with great mercy, and not a passionate/vindictive desire to torment His enemies as sinners are prone to do), it is very real, and we should tremble at the thought of it. As odd as it may sound, I actually had (to illustrate the point I made about this "stavroclasm" uniting both "traditionalists" and "modernists") one heiromonk, who was part of a church which was practically in communion with no one else in the world, tell me that God does not punish people! Of course, I knew something was amiss (having read enough of the Bible myself, and reflecting on my own personal experience, which is replete with undeniable cases of being spanked, and some hard, by the hand of my Maker.)
--the view about the “merits” of Christ which the Pope dispenses, along with the “superabundant” grace of the saints,
Yup, an indefensible innovation.
--the alienation and segmentation placed between the mysteries of Baptism, Chrismation, and the Divine Eucharist,
While this began under easily understood circumstances, it's growth into a "norm", in which you have un-Chrismated persons receiving the Holy Gifts, is inexcusable.
--the doctrine concerning the inheritance of guilt from the ancestral sin,
While St.Augustine taught something like
this in His speculative teachings, the above is hardly the teaching of the RCC.
In the catechisms (both old and new) of the RCC that I've read, "original sin" is described as being only a sin, in so far as there is a privation of grace. In RC teaching, children are not born in the state of grace. This must be acquired by supernatural charity, which in extraordinary cases can be received in various ways, but ordinarily is only received in Baptism (as an infused virtue/potential). If one is not in the "state of grace", then they are in the state of sin, they remain unjustified. Given that this is how men are born, and this is a result of Adam's sin, it is called "original sin", and this is why (and the only way) it's a "sin". In fact the RC catechetical works I've read are very clear in saying that this sin (and only this sin) does not involve any personal guilt on the part of the one who bears it.
--the liturgical innovations in all of the mysteries of the Church (Baptism, Chrismation, Ordination, Confession, Marriage, Anointing),
of the modern changes in these rites (in theory) are a move in the right direction (not limiting the anointing of the sick to only the dying, which used to be RC practice, hence "extreme unction"...confirming adult converts at least at the same time they're baptized, allowing for concelebrations of the clergy at Mass, etc.), the reality is that for the most part they've become even less "Orthodox" in spirit and rite than they ever were. Frankly, most RC Masses are hard to discern from Lutheran services.
--the practice of not communing the laity in the “Blood” of Christ,
This has officially
changed, and it's common to see communion under "both kinds" in RC parishes - however, it is also very common to see communion under "one kind" still.
--the non-existence of concelebration in the praxis of worship services,
This used to be true. In the Tridentine ritual, the only concelebrations which occured (as far as I know) were at the consecrations of bishops, and even these were from what I remember quite awkward.
However, now concelebration of the eucharist is very
common. In many places it's become the "easy" way for RC priests to satisfy their obligation to say their daily Mass.
--the dogma of the immaculate conception of the Theotokos and the development of the worship of Mary (mariolatria), according to which the All-Holy Virgin is elevated to Triune Deity and even becomes a concept leading to a Holy Quaternity (!),
An exageration on a dogmatic level, though seeing some RC popular piety I'm not sure if it's THAT far off on a popular level. Certainly the teaching of our Lady as "co-Redemptrix" and "Mediatrix of All
Graces", and the hard push in many RC conservative circles for these to be proclaimed official dogmas of the RCC, are exagerations in that direction.
--the doctrine about absolute predestination,
Well, we are all predestined, according
to God's foreknowledge (Romans chapter 8.) This means that God has known from eternity where we will end up at the end of the day, what our spiritual condition will be when we die. If it is hell, it will be because our ingratitude and malice - if Heaven, it will be because we responded favourably to God, Who loved us first (in other words, a salvation based upon a synergy, in which God is the dominant/primary partner.)
I think the author meant double predestination
which is what the Calvinists teach (that God does not simply foreknow our choices and our fate, but makes it so that our end is irresistably imposed upon us, whether good or bad). However as far as I know, the RCC does not teach this. Strictly speaking, they regard John Calvin as a heretic.
Pope Innocent IV (1198-1216) maintained the characteristic nature of these things in his enthronement speech, “He who has the bride has the bridegroom. However the bride herself (the church) has not been coupled with empty hands, but brings therein an incomparably rich dowry, the fullness of spiritual goods and the expanses of the world’s things, the largesse and abundance of both. . . . Your contributions of the worldly things has given me the diadem, the mitre over the priesthood, the diadem for kingdom and it has established me as His representative (antiprosopo), in the garment and on the knee of which it is written: the King of kings and Lord of lords.”
Fr.Justin Popavitch (of blessed memory - many regard him as a Saint-Confessor of our age) rightly observed that within Papism is a latent humanism, even an implied atheism (not in theory, but in practice). In a futile attempt to find rationalistic, human certainties, the Reign of God (perhaps a slightly more telling translation of the Biblical Greek that is commonly rendered "Kingdom of God") has been transformed into the Kingdom of Man. The Reformation, "Enlightenment", Modernism, Post-Modernism, Nihilism, etc of the west were all natural progressions of the ruinous path taken by the Popes and their followers.