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Author Topic: Is this the biggest obstacle to unity?  (Read 13621 times) Average Rating: 0
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SL4God
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« on: June 23, 2004, 08:33:49 PM »

Are the Catholic and Orthodox disagreements in soteriology the biggest impediment to unity?  It seems like the Augustinianism/Thomism of the West is vastly different than the grace/free will paradigm established in the East.  Anyone's thoughts on this...?
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« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2004, 12:01:54 PM »

Are the Catholic and Orthodox disagreements in soteriology the biggest impediment to unity?  It seems like the Augustinianism/Thomism of the West is vastly different than the grace/free will paradigm established in the East.  Anyone's thoughts on this...?

In my opinion the greatest obstacle to unity is sin.  The apostles are still arguing about who is the greatest.  The philosophical disputes are more often misunderstandings than not, and are, frankly, a cover for the pride and arrogance of men which keeps us separated.
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« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2004, 08:25:25 PM »

Sure, I agree that pride is an obstacle because when it comes to doctrinal issues one side will ultimately have to admit that it was incorrect, and that will require a great degree of humility and spiritual maturity.
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« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2004, 08:30:47 PM »

Sure, I agree that pride is an obstacle because when it comes to doctrinal issues one side will ultimately have to admit that it was incorrect, and that will require a great degree of humility and spiritual maturity.  

Actually, to the extent that the Spirit is speaking to the Church, the disagreements are not real, in my opinion.  The actual disagreements don't require separation.  Imagine how Jesus would respond if his disciples tried to split into three camps over the proper way to describe metaphysical realities.
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« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2004, 02:06:35 PM »

Hmmm...that's interesting.  So do you think that both sides are saying basically the same thing but with different terminology, or that these ideas fall under the rubric of thelogoumena and should not be something dogmatic that causes a rift in the faith?
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« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2004, 02:20:27 PM »

Hmmm...that's interesting.  So do you think that both sides are saying basically the same thing but with different terminology, or that these ideas fall under the rubric of thelogoumena and should not be something dogmatic that causes a rift in the faith?

I'm saying that everybody's wrong.  The first side to admit it wins.
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« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2004, 01:25:22 PM »

Then who should the seeker turn to for correctness and orthodoxy?
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« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2004, 01:46:15 PM »

I'm saying that everybody's wrong.  The first side to admit it wins.

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SL4GOD: Then who should the seeker turn to for correctness and orthodoxy?

Indeed: if no one is right out there in religionland, God's left us to be orphans.  We never will be able to know all truth confidently, as there's always a chance it could be wrong, or left to another "sister communion" to fill in our blank.

Doesn't sound like Christ's promise to us.
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« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2004, 10:26:17 PM »

Indeed: if no one is right out there in religionland, God's left us to be orphans.  We never will be able to know all truth confidently, as there's always a chance it could be wrong, or left to another "sister communion" to fill in our blank.

Doesn't sound like Christ's promise to us.

I should have known I would be taken literally.

Let me try to express myself in prose so as not to create greater confusion.  My point is that we are judged on the revelation that we have.  To he who is given much, more will be expected.  In this particular forum we see ongoing debates between Catholics and Orthodox as to who's right.  Very few participants, if any, are convinced.  Both would maintain that they are the ones who are given much.

Very well, then; let us all take on the role of those of whom much is expected.  Since the other guys are the ones of whom less is expected, we are the ones that are required to reach out to them.  Now since our continued separation is against the expressed will of God, it is for us, the ones of whom more is expected, to do everything we possibly can to bring about unity.

It is important to point out that being right isn't good enough.  In St. John's vision he saw the dead small and great stand before God, and the books were opened, and the dead were judged according to their works.  Do you believe in one God?  Even the demons believe and tremble.
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« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2004, 05:23:40 AM »

The short answer to the continued separation (and I say it in all charity) is this:  REAL DOGMATIC DIFFERENCES still separate us.  While some amount of pride, arrogance and hubris on both sides is certainly to blame, a frustrating thing for the Orthodox is to be told continually by Roman Catholics that "there are no dogmatic differences" and that "we all believe the same thing."  The honest answer is: we don't.  We have REAL DIFFERENCES.  We need to be honest, charitable, forthright, and clear about this.  For union to come between us, either Rome or Orthodoxy would have to change some of its dogmas.  And since neither side in all honesty can do that with a good conscience (because each side in all sincerity believes it is truly right) we are stuck where we are at present.

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« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2004, 05:26:52 PM »

The short answer to the continued separation (and I say it in all charity) is this:  REAL DOGMATIC DIFFERENCES still separate us.  While some amount of pride, arrogance and hubris on both sides is certainly to blame, a frustrating thing for the Orthodox is to be told continually by Roman Catholics that "there are no dogmatic differences" and that "we all believe the same thing."  The honest answer is: we don't.  We have REAL DIFFERENCES.  We need to be honest, charitable, forthright, and clear about this.  For union to come between us, either Rome or Orthodoxy would have to change some of its dogmas.  And since neither side in all honesty can do that with a good conscience (because each side in all sincerity believes it is truly right) we are stuck where we are at present.



Nobody's saying that there aren't differences.  The question is whether the differences are such to justify separation.  If we want to remain separated there are no end to the excuses.  But at the end of the day, we're not going to be making these excuses to each other.

The young woman who won't marry until she finds someone who looks like Richard Gere, is as intelligent as Einstein, strong as Vitaly Klitchko, rich as Bill Gates, and as good with children as Mr. Rogers is likely to remain unmarried.
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« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2004, 08:03:34 PM »

Quote
Are the Catholic and Orthodox disagreements in soteriology the biggest impediment to unity?  It seems like the Augustinianism/Thomism of the West is vastly different than the grace/free will paradigm established in the East.  Anyone's thoughts on this...?

I think there are important differences, but some have been overblown by a very well hidden modernism in some Orthodox circles, which often hides behind the veil of being a "return to the fathers".  Interestingly enough, this modernism (stavroclasm) is subscribed to by those who would be described as being both the "extreme right" and "extreme left" of the Orthodox milieu (since I've seen both extreme Old Calendarists and those coming from very ecumenical/modernized Orthodox backgrounds articulating positions like this.)

What is legitimatly different in the RC and Orthodox understandings, is that the Roman Catholics have historically reduced penances to a purely legalistic phenomenon; the purifying, ascetical element of them (which is actually their primary end) has been all but forgotten.  This idea of penance, combined with the pretensions of the Popes, is what resulted in the heretical teaching of "indulgences."

Another difference is the incompleteness of the RC teaching on the redemption, more so than it's abject wrongheadedness.  It is true that Christ, as Priest and Victim, offered Himself for the sins of the world - that He took our guilt upon Himself, in the supreme expression of both the perfect justice and mercy of God.  The Roman Catholics have historically been keenly aware of this truth.

What is lacking however, is much of a consciousness of the sanctifying work of the rest of Christ's life.  According to the Holy Fathers, the entire life of Christ was a sanctification of human nature, the healing of it's afflictions.  Orthodoxy believes, for example, that water has the ability to confer the grace of regeneration, precisely because Christ was baptized in them - His Baptism in water gave them the ability to save our souls (thus while we receive from Baptism, He gave in His consenting to be Baptized.)

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« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2004, 12:56:54 AM »

Nobody's saying that there aren't differences.  The question is whether the differences are such to justify separation.

A question then, if you don't mind: What would you suggest we do in regards to unity?  Some sort of "middle ground" compromise?  Or would one side have to "cave in" to the other?

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The young woman who won't marry until she finds someone who looks like Richard Gere, is as intelligent as Einstein, strong as Vitaly Klitchko, rich as Bill Gates, and as good with children as Mr. Rogers is likely to remain unmarried.

So she is to settle for someone who is totally wrong for her?  You say that "our continued separation is against the expressed will of God, [so] it is for us, the ones of whom more is expected, to do everything we possibly can to bring about unity."  Would this then include unity at the expense of sound doctrine if the "weaker" side, i.e., "they," were in need of such a concession due to their "weakness"?
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« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2004, 09:45:50 AM »

Pedro,

It depends what the concession is.  For hundreds of years Augustinian theology and the filioque were used in the West and the East did not see a need for breaking communion with them.  Why should it be continually held up as a barrier to union now?

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« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2004, 12:18:57 PM »

Fr. Deacon Lance,
I would agree that East and West were able to exist with their differences in a kind of tension for a long time-However, the Schism broke that Theological tension. and the differences have become much more profound over the past 1000 years. (I heard a writer outside the church once causitically remark that the East lost its brain and the West lost its heart).

In my personal opinion, modernism and theological liberalism in the Western Church is the most profound obstacle to unity.  Without this issue east/west relation might be closer to what The EO/OO consultations have achieved. (In spite of what some posters on this site think about THAT issue)
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« Reply #15 on: June 28, 2004, 11:36:24 PM »

A question then, if you don't mind: What would you suggest we do in regards to unity?  Some sort of "middle ground" compromise?  Or would one side have to "cave in" to the other?So she is to settle for someone who is totally wrong for her?  You say that "our continued separation is against the expressed will of God, [so] it is for us, the ones of whom more is expected, to do everything we possibly can to bring about unity."  Would this then include unity at the expense of sound doctrine if the "weaker" side, i.e., "they," were in need of such a concession due to their "weakness"?


I don't mind at all.  I use the language of more being expected from those who have more because both sides will see themselves in that position.  The truth is, Pedro, I'm trying eveything I can to convey the point that our differences are not an excuse for our refusing communion with one another.  Yes, there are differences.  In some area concessions can be made; for example, I'm all for dropping the filioque (I'm Catholic, by the way).  In other areas concessions will be more difficult.

But it's not a question of making concessions.  I make two points.  The first is that our differences do not provide sufficient grounds for refusing to have communion with one another.  The second is that discussions regarding the reunion of the Catholics and the Orthodox usually put the cart before the horse.  Everyone is saying agreement first, then reunion.  That is a method that is doomed to failure.  The reason is that we deprive ourselves of each others' spiritual treasures while we remain separated.  I say reunion first, then agreement will come on its own.  I say that because I believe in the Holy Spirit.

Meanwhile the elephant in the room is that our separation itself is wrong, is a sin.  Indeed it is the greatest sin, because it is a violation of Jesus' new commandment that we love one another.  That's how the world is supposed to know that we are his disciples; that we love one another.  The Master did not make his new commandment conditional on whether we agree with each other.
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« Reply #16 on: June 29, 2004, 12:01:12 AM »

The truth is, Pedro, I'm trying eveything I can to convey the point that our differences are not an excuse for our refusing communion with one another.

All right.  Thanks for commenting.  Would there ever be, in your opinion, "irreconcileable differences" in regards to different communions?

Quote
Yes, there are differences.  In some area concessions can be made; for example, I'm all for dropping the filioque (I'm Catholic, by the way).  In other areas concessions will be more difficult.

Why would concessions be difficult, do you think?

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...discussions regarding the reunion of the Catholics and the Orthodox usually put the cart before the horse.... I say reunion first, then agreement will come on its own.  I say that because I believe in the Holy Spirit.

This is a wonderful sentiment, and I agree that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is the ekklesia and liberty.  However, the God of that Spirit and that ekklesia is not a God of chaos, but of order; if there were things that people though were significant contradictions which were trying to coexist within the Church, this peace would not be realized.

Quote
That's how the world is supposed to know that we are his disciples; that we love one another.

I agree with our Lord, yet no less than the Apostle John himself -- called "the apostle of Love" by some -- made very strong statments about separation from those who did not hold to apostolic doctrine.  Love does not necessitate sacramental communion, though the latter is meant to be the highest manifestation of the former, the fruit of being united in Spirit and in Truth.  If we don't all "say the same thing," as St. Paul said, this highest unity is not among us...but I guess that's a matter for the few questions at the top of this post, huh?

Quote
The Master did not make his new commandment conditional on whether we agree with each other.

I'm with you there; the genuineness of love, I do not think, is contingent on whether or not we agree.  On the contrary: I believe the greatest test of love is being so obedient to the Holy Spirit that one can be charitable and a servant to those with whom you strongly disagree...even to those who hate you.  While we are commanded to be thus to all men (and not only Christians), it does not therefore imply that we are to commune with them in the Lord's holy Supper.
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« Reply #17 on: June 29, 2004, 08:26:36 AM »

Jack,

Quote
I don't mind at all.  I use the language of more being expected from those who have more because both sides will see themselves in that position.  The truth is, Pedro, I'm trying eveything I can to convey the point that our differences are not an excuse for our refusing communion with one another.  Yes, there are differences.  In some area concessions can be made; for example, I'm all for dropping the filioque (I'm Catholic, by the way).  In other areas concessions will be more difficult.

It seems in our days doctrinal issues are not understood to be as serious as they were in the past.  Strictly speaking, that which divides the Orthodox from the non-Chalcedonians is much less than what separates the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.  Yet, even with the Non-Chalcedonians re-union is not yet a given; there are still things which need to happen for such a re-union to be God pleasing, and not result in further schisms.  Yet for many people these days, the difference between monphysitism/miaphysitism and the confession of the Orthodox Church is treated as if it were nothing - though it was obviously "something" as far as our Holy Fathers were concerned.

So many of the Christological controversies of the first millenium would now be looked at with perplexity by "Joe Modern."  Yet it was obviously the mind of the Church, and Christ, that these things do matter.

With that said, the downplaying of the differences between the Orthodox Church and Catholicism is a symptom of modern indifference to truth - "ideas" as such, don't seem to matter much, everything being reduced to the lowest common denominator.  This simply is not the mind of the Church of Christ; it's the mind of modernism, but not the Orthodox Church.

You say that you're all for dropping the filioque - yet doesn't your own church, in councils it numbers as "ecumenical", teach that the filioque is a matter of divine faith?  In other words, it cannot be "both ways"; either you're embracing Orthodoxy, or you're simply contemptuous of any sort of dogmatic authority existing within Christ's Church which conflicts with what you perceive to be most expedient.

Quote
But it's not a question of making concessions.  I make two points.  The first is that our differences do not provide sufficient grounds for refusing to have communion with one another.

According to the second Ecumenical Council (which completed the Symbol began at Nicea), any addition or subtraction from the Creed is forbidden.  Is this prohibition without any consequence?

Quote
Everyone is saying agreement first, then reunion.  That is a method that is doomed to failure.

Not necessarily - the major part of the Iconoclasts, Arians, etc. were reconciled to the Church, by way of repenting of their errors and confessing the catholic faith.  I do agree though, that it is highly doubtful that the RCC as a whole is ever going to neatly, and tidily repent and seek re-integration into the Orthodox Church...but given how things are becoming in the RCC, I would not be surprised if the stream of individual conversions from Catholicism eventually starts taking the form of mini corporate re-unions.

Quote
The reason is that we deprive ourselves of each others' spiritual treasures while we remain separated.

There are obviously things that are done right in the RCC - but the Orthodox Church already has these things.  Though poor, the truth is that the Orthodox Church has the most needful thing - the true confession.  Anything that was good about a Roman Catholic's life, will survive his Baptism into the Church.

Quote
Indeed it is the greatest sin, because it is a violation of Jesus' new commandment that we love one another.

Heresies are works of the devil.  How is it loving for me to want to see anyone labour under such a burden?

Quote
The Master did not make his new commandment conditional on whether we agree with each other.

Doctrine matters.  Truth matters - otherwise, there would be no martyrs, for martyrdom is anything but pragmatic.

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« Reply #18 on: June 29, 2004, 10:12:52 AM »

"Strictly speaking, that which divides the Orthodox from the non-Chalcedonians is much less than what separates the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches."

Really? A major Christological definition separates the Oriental Orthodox from the Eastern Orthodox.  On the other hand Eastern Orthodox and Catholics share the same Christology.  The differences between them, (Augustinian theology, Filioque, Purgatory) considering most were lived with for hundreds of years without breaking communion seem less to me.  Post-schism we have Papal Infallibility & Universal Jurisdiction and the Immaculate Conception but even these seem less serious then a difference over Christ.

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« Reply #19 on: June 29, 2004, 12:55:47 PM »

I pray that all I say here is taken with charity and mutual respect. OO/EO consultations have achieved a lot, but as previously mentioned are not there yet. I think this is only possible because the Copts and other OO's  retained  traditional piety that western modernism has undermined and made east west dialogue so fruitless. Pope Shenouda does not have  thousands of nuns in pantsuits who want to be priests or bishops.
In thinking about this, perhaps the whole Western idea of "Development of Doctrine" was the birthgiver of all modernism. Maybe filoque led  directly to all those angry nuns in pantsuits out to get Pope John Paul II??

As far as "depriving each other of Spiritual Treasures" I think this is a very insufficient reason for intercommunion. Western Chritians are free to partake of the Fathers, Icons, etc.  I like a lot of Catholic writers (Chesterton, Belloc Walker Percy)We are free to share these things now....If you carry this logic too far, The Catholic Church should offer communion (as its spiritual treasure) to Lutherans, Anglicans, etc, because there is "so little separating us" I would  note those protestant denominations that have "open commmunion" are also the ones who have sadly watered down  the basics of the faith to the greatest degree.
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« Reply #20 on: June 30, 2004, 12:01:25 AM »

All right.  Thanks for commenting.  Would there ever be, in your opinion, "irreconcileable differences" in regards to different communions?
Amongst apostolic communions, no, not legitimately.  The Spirit guides the Church into all truth.  A bishop here and there may become a heretic, but there is no legitimate basis for there being different "communions" among the apostolic churches at all.

Why would concessions be difficult, do you think?
I mean that in a completely human sense.  If the Holy Spirit was allowed to work this out, then the concessions wouldn't be concessions at all.  But men have pride, and often lack a sense of proportion.

This is a wonderful sentiment, and I agree that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is the ekklesia and liberty.  However, the God of that Spirit and that ekklesia is not a God of chaos, but of order; if there were things that people though were significant contradictions which were trying to coexist within the Church, this peace would not be realized.I agree with our Lord, yet no less than the Apostle John himself -- called "the apostle of Love" by some -- made very strong statments about separation from those who did not hold to apostolic doctrine.  Love does not necessitate sacramental communion, though the latter is meant to be the highest manifestation of the former, the fruit of being united in Spirit and in Truth.  If we don't all "say the same thing," as St. Paul said, this highest unity is not among us...but I guess that's a matter for the few questions at the top of this post, huh?I'm with you there; the genuineness of love, I do not think, is contingent on whether or not we agree.  On the contrary: I believe the greatest test of love is being so obedient to the Holy Spirit that one can be charitable and a servant to those with whom you strongly disagree...even to those who hate you.  While we are commanded to be thus to all men (and not only Christians), it does not therefore imply that we are to commune with them in the Lord's holy Supper.
Well, yes there should be order, but at some point common sense has to prevail.  If I insist that everyone agree with me on everything, I'm going to wind up a church of one.  Now I'm not talking about communion with adherents of Wicca, I'm talking about communion among all the apostolic churches.  And when Jesus said "Love one another," he was talking about love between the apostles; he wasn't talking about enemies at that point.
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« Reply #21 on: June 30, 2004, 12:15:11 AM »

Jack,It seems in our days doctrinal issues are not understood to be as serious as they were in the past.  Strictly speaking, that which divides the Orthodox from the non-Chalcedonians is much less than what separates the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.  Yet, even with the Non-Chalcedonians re-union is not yet a given; there are still things which need to happen for such a re-union to be God pleasing, and not result in further schisms.  Yet for many people these days, the difference between monphysitism/miaphysitism and the confession of the Orthodox Church is treated as if it were nothing - though it was obviously "something" as far as our Holy Fathers were concerned.

So many of the Christological controversies of the first millenium would now be looked at with perplexity by "Joe Modern."  Yet it was obviously the mind of the Church, and Christ, that these things do matter.

With that said, the downplaying of the differences between the Orthodox Church and Catholicism is a symptom of modern indifference to truth - "ideas" as such, don't seem to matter much, everything being reduced to the lowest common denominator.  This simply is not the mind of the Church of Christ; it's the mind of modernism, but not the Orthodox Church.

You say that you're all for dropping the filioque - yet doesn't your own church, in councils it numbers as "ecumenical", teach that the filioque is a matter of divine faith?  In other words, it cannot be "both ways"; either you're embracing Orthodoxy, or you're simply contemptuous of any sort of dogmatic authority existing within Christ's Church which conflicts with what you perceive to be most expedient.According to the second Ecumenical Council (which completed the Symbol began at Nicea), any addition or subtraction from the Creed is forbidden.  Is this prohibition without any consequence?Not necessarily - the major part of the Iconoclasts, Arians, etc. were reconciled to the Church, by way of repenting of their errors and confessing the catholic faith.  I do agree though, that it is highly doubtful that the RCC as a whole is ever going to neatly, and tidily repent and seek re-integration into the Orthodox Church...but given how things are becoming in the RCC, I would not be surprised if the stream of individual conversions from Catholicism eventually starts taking the form of mini corporate re-unions.There are obviously things that are done right in the RCC - but the Orthodox Church already has these things.  Though poor, the truth is that the Orthodox Church has the most needful thing - the true confession.  Anything that was good about a Roman Catholic's life, will survive his Baptism into the Church.Heresies are works of the devil.  How is it loving for me to want to see anyone labour under such a burden?Doctrine matters.  Truth matters - otherwise, there would be no martyrs, for martyrdom is anything but pragmatic.



It is not Catholic teaching that the Spirit proceeds from the Son in the same ultimate sense that he proceeds from the Father.  The filioque was added without a council to something that was decided on by a council.  A committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has suggested that the filioque be dropped.  So, I'm willing to drop it because it bothers the Orthodox, and it was a later addition, not because I'm willing to compromise truth.  And I'm certainly not contemptuous of dogmatic authority.  Indeed, I'm not contemptuous of Orthodox dogmatic authority.

You refer to the first millenium, and I say "amen" to that.  In the first millenium we were not divided.  It's true that some moderns treat truth as a relative thing.  That's not me.  Indeed, I maintain that communion between our churches is something that God commands.  That is the truth.
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« Reply #22 on: June 30, 2004, 12:17:57 AM »

I pray that all I say here is taken with charity and mutual respect. OO/EO consultations have achieved a lot, but as previously mentioned are not there yet. I think this is only possible because the Copts and other OO's  retained  traditional piety that western modernism has undermined and made east west dialogue so fruitless. Pope Shenouda does not have  thousands of nuns in pantsuits who want to be priests or bishops.
In thinking about this, perhaps the whole Western idea of "Development of Doctrine" was the birthgiver of all modernism. Maybe filoque led  directly to all those angry nuns in pantsuits out to get Pope John Paul II??

As far as "depriving each other of Spiritual Treasures" I think this is a very insufficient reason for intercommunion. Western Chritians are free to partake of the Fathers, Icons, etc.  I like a lot of Catholic writers (Chesterton, Belloc Walker Percy)We are free to share these things now....If you carry this logic too far, The Catholic Church should offer communion (as its spiritual treasure) to Lutherans, Anglicans, etc, because there is "so little separating us" I would  note those protestant denominations that have "open commmunion" are also the ones who have sadly watered down  the basics of the faith to the greatest degree.  

I'm only talking about communion amongst the apostolic churches.

There is no causal connection between the filioque and nuns in pantsuits.
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« Reply #23 on: June 30, 2004, 07:40:48 AM »

"I'm only talking about communion amongst the apostolic churches."

But the Anglicans and some Lutherans claim to be apostolic churches. from a pure historical vantage, there is some validity to these claims
 
"There is no causal connection between the filioque and nuns in pantsuits".

In your opinion, what was the causal factor in modernistic Catholicism and Western Christianity in general?
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« Reply #24 on: June 30, 2004, 08:17:04 AM »

Dcn. Lance,

Quote
Really? A major Christological definition separates the Oriental Orthodox from the Eastern Orthodox.

This is true, but it is becoming clear that many modern non-Chalcedonians (and at least most of the ones I have spoken to on this matter) materially hold to the faith of Chalcedon - though (unfortunately) because they tenaciously continue in the veneration of heretics anathematized by Ecumenical Councils, and refuse to formally subscribe to all of the Ecumenical Councils (Chalcedon in particular), even if mostly (materially) Orthodox in their beliefs, they at the very least remain in schism from the Orthodox Church.

On the other hand, the Roman Catholic Church has not maintained Orthopraxis as the non-Chalcedonians have (if anything, they've been running from this at an even faster pace in recent decades, not moving closer - though this movement away began centuries ago.)  And while Roman Catholics officially/formally hold to many of the same dogmas as the Orthodox Church, they often do not understand them in the same sense as the Orthodox Church does - a sense which in most respects seems to be observed by the non-Chalcedonians.

Of course, there are also the important dogmatic differences which separate Roman Catholicism from Orthodoxy - these touch upon the realms of Triadology, soteriology, and ecclessiology.  Typically these differences are an issue of addition (by the RCC), not subtraction.  Filioquism, Indulgences, Papal Infallibility, etc. - these are heresies, as far as the Orthodox Church is concerned.  None of these are subscribed to by the non-Chalcedonians.

Quote
On the other hand Eastern Orthodox and Catholics share the same Christology.

As I said in the above, in theory yes - though due to corruptions in other areas (particularly soteriology and in the realm of praxis), even this has been adversly affected.

Quote
The differences between them, (Augustinian theology, Filioque, Purgatory) considering most were lived with for hundreds of years without breaking communion seem less to me.

If only it were so simple!  I'd like to think you're well aware that what we now consider the distinctively "western" approach to theological understanding ("Augustinianism", "Thomism", etc...though oddly enough, both of those are actually more "Augustinian" and "Thomistic" than their namesakes!), in the period prior to the schism (at least "Augustinian" theology, Thomism/Scholasticism being it's post-schism child) was something "on the grow" and did not characterize all of western Christendom before 1054.  It is precisely because it was a growing development, that it was not something that immediately stuck out to the rest of the Christian world until the last centuries of the first millenia.

However when these changes in western Christian thought did catch the notice of the East, they certainly did become big issues, to the point of the Orthodox East breaking communion with Rome and those who followed these new teachings.

Quote
Post-schism we have Papal Infallibility & Universal Jurisdiction and the Immaculate Conception but even these seem less serious then a difference over Christ.

It might seem that way on paper/theoretically, but in reality these have proven to be far more alienating in their fall out than errors of the originators of the Monophysite heresy-schism; and this is even more so today, when materially so many non-Chalcedonians actually espouse a "Chalcedonian" understanding of Christ (however stubbornly they still try to except themselves from formally accepting the Council of Chalcedon.)

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« Reply #25 on: June 30, 2004, 08:55:07 AM »

Spiros

Quote
But the Anglicans and some Lutherans claim to be apostolic churches. from a pure historical vantage, there is some validity to these claims

Lord have mercy on me, what I am about to write is probably going to offend at least a few people, though this is not my intention.

Strictly speaking, "apostolic succession" is something that can only exist within the Church. for the perpetuation of the Priesthood and the Apostolic faith go hand in hand, and in turn diffuse the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church through sequential time, down through the ages to the present day.

It is true, that much of the form of this perpetuation of the Priesthood does exist outside of the Orthodox Church - the "laying on of hands".  It also needs to be said that the maintanance of this form is more scupulously observed by some churches than it is others (for example, it is strictly adhered to by the non-Chalcedonians and Roman Catholics; not so well by the Anglicans, and even less so by the Lutherans.)

According to the strict interpretation (or put more precisely, application, since the teaching itself is quite unambiguous) of the Canons and the dogma of "no salvation outside of the Church" (which is certainly an Orthodox doctrine), the interior reality of Apostolic Succession does not exist in schisms or heresies.

However, to be fair, I will qualify the above by saying that as a matter of fact the Church has recognized (in hindsight) situations which do not always fit neatly into the categories of the Holy Canons; for example there have definately been situations where two (later recognized by the universal conciousness of the Church) local Orthodox Churches have not been in communion with one another - no one would argue either was deprived of the grace of the holy mysteries.   This, combined with the possibilities of what the secret ministrations of our merciful God might do for those innocently labouring under the yoke of heretical/schismatical leaders (or otherwise alienated from the Church of Christ), give some grounds for a little agnosticism toward the invisible condition/destiny of those professed Christians who are not joined to the Orthodox Church.

Yet, even with those "irenic" qualifications/speculations in mind, we should take instruction from the fact that the Orthodox Church never receives converts from schisms/heresies in an unqualified manner.  Thus, when the Church has received certain classes of converts from heterodoxy in various ways (up to and including, in certain cases, receiving heterodox/schismatic clergy in their orders), it's always been understood that She is supplying/correcting by Her grace and authority whatever is deficient or lacking in the rites they received in their previous confession.

With this in mind, even the most lenient outreach to the heterodox is forced to recognize that save in the most formal/exterior way, no "Apostolic Succession" can be said to exist outside of the Church (since even the most optimistic hopes on our part, cannot claim to know as a matter of fact that the charisms/mysteries of the Church, exist amongst those who are ostensibly separated from the Church of Christ - particularly when this separation is not simply a matter of ecclessiastical politics, but extends to the realm of doctrine, the very way in which we love God with our mind.)

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« Reply #26 on: June 30, 2004, 10:37:09 AM »

Augustine,
No Offense.....So there is no mis-understanding, I agree 100% with your post. My comment about the Anglicans and Lutherans was soley in resposne a previous comment about "apostolic" churches. I feel that many RC's want to rush to intercommunion with Orthodoxy. My point is that If "historic apolisticity" is the criteria, it exists in other  western  churches.

Without offense to our faithful western friends, I believe that Filoque led to Papal infallibility which has led to Homosexual Marriage in Western Christianity. The central issue is the concept of "development of doctrine" which led to any and all modernism, which is not the "faith once delivered" Let the West first  put its house in order as the East is attempting with the OO/EO consultations.
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« Reply #27 on: July 01, 2004, 01:17:50 AM »

"I'm only talking about communion amongst the apostolic churches."

But the Anglicans and some Lutherans claim to be apostolic churches. from a pure historical vantage, there is some validity to these claims
 
"There is no causal connection between the filioque and nuns in pantsuits".

In your opinion, what was the causal factor in modernistic Catholicism and Western Christianity in general?


Orders is a sacrament.  In order for a sacrament to be validly conferred the one conferring same has to intend to do what the Church does.  In the case of the Anglicans that has not been the case.  I don't know enough about the Lutherans.

As to your second question my answer is: luxury.  Wealth and a persecution free environment has allowed the marginally committed to be members of the Church.
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« Reply #28 on: July 01, 2004, 01:37:31 AM »

SpirosLord have mercy on me, what I am about to write is probably going to offend at least a few people, though this is not my intention.

Strictly speaking, "apostolic succession" is something that can only exist within the Church. for the perpetuation of the Priesthood and the Apostolic faith go hand in hand, and in turn diffuse the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church through sequential time, down through the ages to the present day.

It is true, that much of the form of this perpetuation of the Priesthood does exist outside of the Orthodox Church - the "laying on of hands".  It also needs to be said that the maintanance of this form is more scupulously observed by some churches than it is others (for example, it is strictly adhered to by the non-Chalcedonians and Roman Catholics; not so well by the Anglicans, and even less so by the Lutherans.)

According to the strict interpretation (or put more precisely, application, since the teaching itself is quite unambiguous) of the Canons and the dogma of "no salvation outside of the Church" (which is certainly an Orthodox doctrine), the interior reality of Apostolic Succession does not exist in schisms or heresies.

However, to be fair, I will qualify the above by saying that as a matter of fact the Church has recognized (in hindsight) situations which do not always fit neatly into the categories of the Holy Canons; for example there have definately been situations where two (later recognized by the universal conciousness of the Church) local Orthodox Churches have not been in communion with one another - no one would argue either was deprived of the grace of the holy mysteries.   This, combined with the possibilities of what the secret ministrations of our merciful God might do for those innocently labouring under the yoke of heretical/schismatical leaders (or otherwise alienated from the Church of Christ), give some grounds for a little agnosticism toward the invisible condition/destiny of those professed Christians who are not joined to the Orthodox Church.

Yet, even with those "irenic" qualifications/speculations in mind, we should take instruction from the fact that the Orthodox Church never receives converts from schisms/heresies in an unqualified manner.  Thus, when the Church has received certain classes of converts from heterodoxy in various ways (up to and including, in certain cases, receiving heterodox/schismatic clergy in their orders), it's always been understood that She is supplying/correcting by Her grace and authority whatever is deficient or lacking in the rites they received in their previous confession.

With this in mind, even the most lenient outreach to the heterodox is forced to recognize that save in the most formal/exterior way, no "Apostolic Succession" can be said to exist outside of the Church (since even the most optimistic hopes on our part, cannot claim to know as a matter of fact that the charisms/mysteries of the Church, exist amongst those who are ostensibly separated from the Church of Christ - particularly when this separation is not simply a matter of ecclessiastical politics, but extends to the realm of doctrine, the very way in which we love God with our mind.)



Count me among the unoffended, Augustine.  And actually you've hit upon a real difference in understanding between the Orthodox and the Catholics.  We Catholics do not believe that the validity of a sacrament depends upon the sanctity of the minister.  This is because God, being reasonable and merciful, allows us to approach him through visible realities.  The Incarnation was the ultimate sacrament, though, of course, in that case the sanctity of the minister is beyond question.  But it's not so easy to discern in other cases.  So if the sanctity of the minister were pertinent to the sacrament, one would always have to wonder if he was receiving a valid sacrament.  Indeed, in the case of orders, one would have to wonder if his priest, although righteous himself, was validly ordained, since an unrighteous heretic of a bishop might have broken the succession five generations ago.
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« Reply #29 on: July 01, 2004, 01:47:14 AM »

Augustine,
No Offense.....So there is no mis-understanding, I agree 100% with your post. My comment about the Anglicans and Lutherans was soley in resposne a previous comment about "apostolic" churches. I feel that many RC's want to rush to intercommunion with Orthodoxy. My point is that If "historic apolisticity" is the criteria, it exists in other  western  churches.

Without offense to our faithful western friends, I believe that Filoque led to Papal infallibility which has led to Homosexual Marriage in Western Christianity. The central issue is the concept of "development of doctrine" which led to any and all modernism, which is not the "faith once delivered" Let the West first  put its house in order as the East is attempting with the OO/EO consultations.

In the Catholic Church the idea of the development of doctrine does not entail changing it.  The Church is not authorized to tamper with the deposit of faith.  That's why the Catholic Church does not allow homosexual marriage, and never will.

We do need to put our house in order, and probably always will until the second coming.  But I'm sure you wouldn't assert that the Eastern Churches always do everything perfectly.  We're all sinners who need Christ, and, I hasten to add, we need each other.
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« Reply #30 on: July 01, 2004, 12:26:47 PM »

  Hi,
       i think your on to something with augustinian vs uncreated grace - the uncreated grace notion is very obscure in the west.....but even these philosophical perceptions (thomism and logical categories vs eastern mysteries) would present as issues to be dialogued were not the papacy the primary obstacle.......the papacy represents man's inordinate dependence on human systems.....the idea that things would magically be resolved once under papal control is faulted, even 'magical' thinking in my opinion.......................joe
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« Reply #31 on: July 01, 2004, 12:28:46 PM »

"In the Catholic Church the idea of the development of doctrine does not entail changing it.  The Church is not authorized to tamper with the deposit of faith.  That's why the Catholic Church does not allow homosexual marriage, and never will".

problem is, we Orthodox believe that Filoque, papal infailbility, certain Thomistic excesses and other things are changes to the 'deposit of faith'  

"We're all sinners who need Christ, and, I hasten to add, we need each other".

People are important, and as you said, we are certainly not perfect. Helping one another and acting in a decent manner towards  one another does not require intercommmunion. From my vantage, the jurisdctional and calendar issues in my church are higher on the triage than talks with Rome. Why do you need us more than your legitimate children (ie. protestants)? Wouldn't it be easier to talk to them?


"As to your second question my answer is: luxury.  Wealth and a persecution free environment has allowed the marginally committed to be members of the Church."

There are plenty of marginal Orthodox. Some are rich. Orthodoxy has not been persecuted in Greece since 1821.
The problem in the West is really theological leadership committed to some sort of ongoing revelation/development of doctrine. Rome just has not proceeded as far down that path as some protestant groups.  

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« Reply #32 on: July 01, 2004, 12:31:03 PM »

Jdudan54,
I like your post. Good points,
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« Reply #33 on: July 01, 2004, 08:37:25 PM »

Count me among the unoffended, Augustine.  And actually you've hit upon a real difference in understanding between the Orthodox and the Catholics.  We Catholics do not believe that the validity of a sacrament depends upon the sanctity of the minister.  This is because God, being reasonable and merciful, allows us to approach him through visible realities.  The Incarnation was the ultimate sacrament, though, of course, in that case the sanctity of the minister is beyond question.  But it's not so easy to discern in other cases.  So if the sanctity of the minister were pertinent to the sacrament, one would always have to wonder if he was receiving a valid sacrament.  Indeed, in the case of orders, one would have to wonder if his priest, although righteous himself, was validly ordained, since an unrighteous heretic of a bishop might have broken the succession five generations ago.

Dear Jack,

I think Augustine's point was not about the sanctity of the minister, but of his status with regard to Christ's Church.  Orthodox don't think the sanctity of the minister has anything to do with the validity of a particular sacrament; however, his status (in the Church v. outside the Church) has a lot to do with it.
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« Reply #34 on: July 01, 2004, 09:32:15 PM »

Dear Jack,

I think Augustine's point was not about the sanctity of the minister, but of his status with regard to Christ's Church.  Orthodox don't think the sanctity of the minister has anything to do with the validity of a particular sacrament; however, his status (in the Church v. outside the Church) has a lot to do with it.  

Okay, then, help me to understand.  How does one tell if one is in the Church or outside of it, according to Orthodox understanding?
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« Reply #35 on: July 01, 2004, 09:42:02 PM »

"In the Catholic Church the idea of the development of doctrine does not entail changing it.  The Church is not authorized to tamper with the deposit of faith.  That's why the Catholic Church does not allow homosexual marriage, and never will".

problem is, we Orthodox believe that Filoque, papal infailbility, certain Thomistic excesses and other things are changes to the 'deposit of faith'  

"We're all sinners who need Christ, and, I hasten to add, we need each other".

People are important, and as you said, we are certainly not perfect. Helping one another and acting in a decent manner towards  one another does not require intercommmunion. From my vantage, the jurisdctional and calendar issues in my church are higher on the triage than talks with Rome. Why do you need us more than your legitimate children (ie. protestants)? Wouldn't it be easier to talk to them?
I don't know who would be easier to talk to.  It seems as though all non-Catholic Christian denominations define themselves, in part, in contradistinction to us.  But we do talk to the Protestants and seek common ground.  My question to you is this: why do you see talks with Rome as being unimportant?

"As to your second question my answer is: luxury.  Wealth and a persecution free environment has allowed the marginally committed to be members of the Church."

There are plenty of marginal Orthodox. Some are rich. Orthodoxy has not been persecuted in Greece since 1821.
The problem in the West is really theological leadership committed to some sort of ongoing revelation/development of doctrine. Rome just has not proceeded as far down that path as some protestant groups.  



Well, if there are marginal Orthodox, then you have some of the same issues that we do.  And don't say there aren't "liberals" amongst the Orthodox clergy, because I know that's not true.  So how is your situation better than ours in this regard?
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« Reply #36 on: July 01, 2004, 09:46:33 PM »

 Hi,
       i think your on to something with augustinian vs uncreated grace - the uncreated grace notion is very obscure in the west.....but even these philosophical perceptions (thomism and logical categories vs eastern mysteries) would present as issues to be dialogued were not the papacy the primary obstacle.......the papacy represents man's inordinate dependence on human systems.....the idea that things would magically be resolved once under papal control is faulted, even 'magical' thinking in my opinion.......................joe

But we Catholics maintain that the papacy is of divine institution.  I don't know what you mean by "under papal control," or what you say we think would "magically be resolved."
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« Reply #37 on: July 01, 2004, 11:37:00 PM »

I don't know who would be easier to talk to.  It seems as though all non-Catholic Christian denominations define themselves, in part, in contradistinction to us.  But we do talk to the Protestants and seek common ground.  My question to you is this: why do you see talks with Rome as being unimportant? Well, if there are marginal Orthodox, then you have some of the same issues that we do.  And don't say there aren't "liberals" amongst the Orthodox clergy, because I know that's not true.  So how is your situation better than ours in this regard?

Not unimportant, but not as important as Roman Catholics think.  From our POV, it is the RCC that has fallen away.  They should be trying to repent and come back to us.

As to if you are outside the Church or in?  Well, if you're in the Orthodox (right-believing) Church.  If you're not Orthodox, you don't believe (or practice) the right way.
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« Reply #38 on: July 02, 2004, 01:06:08 AM »


    Hi Jack,
        I know that Roman Catholics consider the papacy as divine as the incarnation. Having been R.Catholic for my first 37 years on earth, i suppose i'm schizmatic now, though my faith has increased.....But by papal control, i mean more than administrative efficiency. I mean the pretense to use that office of primacy as 'supremacy'.....hence all 'obstacles' to reunion are seen thru the lens of submission to the vatican. In other words, if you acknowledge the pope as vicar, then unity will mysteriously evolve, transforming such catastrophic differences as created (augustine) grace vs uncreated energy ( palamas, romanides). this is magical thinking..............................................peace, joe
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« Reply #39 on: July 02, 2004, 06:46:13 AM »

I also think the West's promoting the Synod of Orange to ecumenical council will have to be revoked.  When the West anathematized Cassian and Lerins as Semi-pelagians they also anathematized the entire East with them because the Eastern Churches rejected Augustine's teaching and followed Cassian's teaching.
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« Reply #40 on: July 02, 2004, 12:06:08 PM »

"Why do you see talks with Rome as being unimportant?"

Not unimportant, just less important to the life of the Orthodox church than many other issues. Orthodoxy is not incomplete without Rome, though Rome apprantly feels incomplete without Orthodoxy.

I also see the impossiblity of reunion without a widespread and miracalous changes in piety and approach within world Catholicism. If the Pope deleted the Filoque tomorrow it would not create Orthodox hearts among Catholic Clergy and people. Also, there is the issue of human sin and frailty. Most Old World Orthodox have immense fear of Catholicism, and not without reason.

As to our theological liberals, they are remarkably quiet, and are certainly not running the church. In Orthodoxy, a liberal priest is one without a beard and who may shorten the liturgy-big difference from a liberal Roman Catholic priest.
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« Reply #41 on: July 02, 2004, 12:37:04 PM »

 
     Spiros,
        Good points. It appears that the r. catholic view ( at least contemporary) fails to percieve Orthodoxy as a way of life. Hence, manuevering around issues i.e. the filioque, does not correspond to an internal change or disposition
         As for liberalism, the vatican 2 church is floating in it....and perhaps that is why there is a need to 'anchor' onto the ancient traditions that Orthodoxy affords....Rome certainly 'appears' to want or need that re-union in a hungry way.
                                                                                                          joe
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« Reply #42 on: July 02, 2004, 12:40:55 PM »

   
    SL4God,  
             Excellent historical point, which needs more recognition....joe
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« Reply #43 on: July 02, 2004, 01:01:38 PM »

Vatican II's decree on ecumenism, "Unitatis Redintegratio," better explains the Catholic Church's "irrevocable" commitment to Christian "unity."

Our perception of what constitutes the "Church" established by Christ is further explained in "Dominus Iesus" and in "Ut Unum Sint."

We believe we are the "Mother Church" and all other Christian Churches and ecclesial communities should be gathered together aorund the Catholic Church.

Comprising more than half of all Christendom, our own perception is grounded on reality.

On a related subject, what is your reaction to the common declaration of Pope John Paul II and EP Bartholomew made at the end of the latter's visit to Rome?

http://www.zenit.org/english/visualizza.phtml?sid=56197

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« Reply #44 on: July 02, 2004, 03:03:48 PM »

“We believe we are the "Mother Church" and all other Christian Churches and ecclesial communities should be gathered together aorund the Catholic Church”

This makes reunion from an Orthodox vantage look like Florence II or a continuation of the Unia approach that created the various eastern Catholics.

”Comprising more than half of all Christendom, our own perception is grounded on reality”.

 This is a poor argument for the rightness of anything

"On a related subject, what is your reaction to the common declaration of Pope John Paul II and EP Bartholomew made at the end of the latter's visit to Rome?"

My Reactions:

 Gut level reaction-“is outrage”-then I thought about itGǪGǪGǪGǪGǪGǪGǪ.

The survival of the EP in the Phanar is precarious. HH BARTHOLOMEOS may need the power of the west, particularly since relations with the Moscow Patriarchate are so poor. I feel sorrow for him in his current situation, much like Moscow under the communists.

Roman Catholics do not understand that the EP is only a spiritual leader, not an administrative one. Orthodoxy precedes the EP. If the EP united with Catholicism tomorrow, maybe a third of his actual flock (diaspora Greeks, etc. might follow-likely less) None of the other churches would necessarily follow. All Bishops are equal. Orthodoxy lived among the monks and people when the Patriarchate was occupied by all kinds of heretics.  
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« Reply #45 on: July 02, 2004, 03:05:23 PM »

PS there are too Many LLAMA Avatars on this post!! I feel like a peruvian herdsman!
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« Reply #46 on: July 02, 2004, 03:10:44 PM »

PS there are too Many LLAMA Avatars on this post!! I feel like a peruvian herdsman!

It's the default if you don't have one selected.  I still don't see why no avatar can be the default.
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« Reply #47 on: July 02, 2004, 10:10:09 PM »

Not unimportant, but not as important as Roman Catholics think.  From our POV, it is the RCC that has fallen away.  They should be trying to repent and come back to us.
Well, from that point of view, reunion as such is impossible.  There is only Catholics becoming Orthodox.  Then is the Ecumenical Patriarch wrong when he speaks of unity between us?  (I know you don't believe he makes infallible statements.)

As to if you are outside the Church or in?  Well, if you're in the Orthodox (right-believing) Church.  If you're not Orthodox, you don't believe (or practice) the right way.  

How do you know, from the Orthodox perspective, if you're in the right believing Church?
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« Reply #48 on: July 02, 2004, 10:16:33 PM »


    Hi Jack,
        I know that Roman Catholics consider the papacy as divine as the incarnation. Having been R.Catholic for my first 37 years on earth, i suppose i'm schizmatic now, though my faith has increased.....But by papal control, i mean more than administrative efficiency. I mean the pretense to use that office of primacy as 'supremacy'.....hence all 'obstacles' to reunion are seen thru the lens of submission to the vatican. In other words, if you acknowledge the pope as vicar, then unity will mysteriously evolve, transforming such catastrophic differences as created (augustine) grace vs uncreated energy ( palamas, romanides). this is magical thinking..............................................peace, joe

We don't think that the papacy is divine at all.

The Pope has already said that he doesn't want to govern the Eastern Churches like he does his own patriarchate.

I don't even understand the issue between created versus uncreated grace.  Do you think most Orthodox do?
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« Reply #49 on: July 02, 2004, 10:40:14 PM »

Jack,

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Count me among the unoffended, Augustine.  And actually you've hit upon a real difference in understanding between the Orthodox and the Catholics.  We Catholics do not believe that the validity of a sacrament depends upon the sanctity of the minister.

I have to stop here and offer a correction; Orthodox teaching is not that sacramental "validity" depends on the "sanctity of the minister".  That is Donatism, and is considered heretical by both Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics.  Strictly speaking, an Orthodox Bishop (or one of his Presbyters) can personally be a scoundrel, but if he is still in the communion of the Church, there wouldn't be any doubts about the mysteries he celebrates.

However, from an Orthodox p.o.v., unqualified recognition of sacramental validity does depend upon ecclessiastical allegiance - in short, whether or not one is a member of the Church of Christ, which we believe to be synonymous with the Orthodox Church.  In other words, those who exist outside of those canonical boundaries, particularly when there is a question of heresy on their part, are regarded as being dubious at best.

I would liken the Orthodox view of the sacramental validity, to the RC view on the validity of certain of it's sacraments which they believe require juristiction not only to be "licit", but also in order to be valid.  For example, in the RCC if a priest is not in good standing with a bishop who is in turn in good standing with the RCC as a whole, then he cannot witness to marriages or hear confessions.  If he were to do such, the marriages would be invalid, and the absolutions offered invalid.

Though the analogy is not perfect, I guess you could say Orthodoxy views all of the mysteries as having their validity affected by "juristiction".  For example, if a Priest were defrocked for some disciplinary reason, as far as Orthodoxy is concerned, he could not celebrate any of the mysteries, licitly or illicitly.

The exact metaphysics involved in this however, unlike in Catholicism, are not entirely ironed out and distinctly defined - largely because the revelation and bestowing of the Holy Mysteries to the Church was just that; they were given to the Church, not to sects, schisms, or other such defections.  Thus, what the Church is to make of those who depart from Her who do such things, has been a matter of some debate, though in principle (and authentic canonical sources like the Apostolic Canons) the mysteries do not exist outside of the Church of Christ.

Quote
So if the sanctity of the minister were pertinent to the sacrament, one would always have to wonder if he was receiving a valid sacrament.

I agree with this 100% - hence why I had to offer the correction that I did.

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« Reply #50 on: July 02, 2004, 10:55:25 PM »

Jack,

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In the Catholic Church the idea of the development of doctrine does not entail changing it.  The Church is not authorized to tamper with the deposit of faith.  That's why the Catholic Church does not allow homosexual marriage, and never will.

I actually had a very enlightening conversation recently (into the wee hours of the morning) with someone very close to me who is an RC seminarian under a very, very traditional/conservative priestly fraternity...and the conversation touched upon this issue, in particular in the matter of the filioque clause that was eventually added to the Nicence Creed by the Popes.

I pointed out (and he agreed) that our knowledge of God as "Holy Trinity" is founded upon Divine revelation - it is not some knowledge we've arrived at naturally, via scientific/philosophical means (that is to say, through reason.)  God has chosen to reveal this truth to mankind in the last days in a clear manner.

I also pointed out, that in the original Nicean-Constantinoplean Creed, the filioque clause was not present - the procession of the Holy Spirit is attributed only to God the Father, not "the Father and the Son".  Now, I thought about this, and it raises the question "why - why was the procession of the Holy Spirit attributed only to the Father?"  Well, the reason was, is that this is all the Divine Revelation showed us - this is what the Holy Scriptures teach, and quite clearly.  Thus, naturally, it is what would find itself into the Symbol completed at Constantinople, and which said council forbade to be altered from there on in.

This raises a further question though - what then is the source of the teaching that the Holy Spirit also proceeds "from the Son?"  If I understood correctly, what this seminarian said was basically what I had already thought - it was the result of philosophical reasoning, a rational attempt to discuss just what "procession" is, and what "begotteness" is.  He also made it clear (implicitly) that he understood Trinitarianism differently than I did, in the sense that he was starting from the unity of the Divine Essence first, the differentiation between the "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" being solely in terms of "relations" in the single divine essence.  Obviously if understood this way, combined with a "need" to define how the Persons of the Trinity differ, it's not hard to see how one could come up with the filioque clause.

Basically, I perceived a contradiction - while our knowledge of God as "Three" in hypostases is received as a revelation from God, filioquism is the child not of revelation, but human reasoning.

This, for Orthodox Christians, is unacceptable - this is not simply the development of clear terminology to discuss the Divine revelation (which I do not dispute has taken place, particularly when the objective, revealed truth was challenged by the "modernisms" of previous ages...which is really what most heresies are), but conceptual development - the appearance of whole areas of knowledge about God and the Divine Economy which never would have occured to the Apostles or been a part of the experience of the catholic consciousness.

In short, the troubling part (for Orthodoxy) of the RC notion of "doctrinal development" is precisely where the revelation of God is left behind, and the genius of man (whatever claims may be made that it is a "guided" genius) begins.

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« Reply #51 on: July 02, 2004, 11:24:29 PM »

Jdudan54,

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i think your on to something with augustinian vs uncreated grace - the uncreated grace notion is very obscure in the west.....but even these philosophical perceptions (thomism and logical categories vs eastern mysteries) would present as issues to be dialogued were not the papacy the primary obstacle.......the papacy represents man's inordinate dependence on human systems.....the idea that things would magically be resolved once under papal control is faulted, even 'magical' thinking in my opinion.......................joe

While I agree that St.Gregory Palamas' refined teachings on this subject are ultimatly the Orthodox "say-so" on the topic, I feel the need to emphasize that sometimes too much is made of how it practically differs from general western attitudes, even after the schism.  This situation is aggrivated by the fact that I'm convinced most people who speak of it, generally do not understand it (anthropomorphizing "energies" to the point they imagine them as being autonomous, physical phenomenon), and more conspicuously, do not understand sufficiently the western ideas they are criticizing.

I offer my unqualified agreement though, that "Papism" in it's grander claims is a dead end, and a futile attempt at securing air-tight, rationalistic certitude.  It's such an approach in general, which I think round aboutly contributed (at least in part) to the growth of radical skepticism and agnosticism in the west (where as such things, rather conspicuously, did not develop in a native fashion in the Christian East.)

Proclaiming the senior heirarch an infallible, unjudgable, universal juristiction bearing "vicar of Christ" does not, when push comes to shove, offer the superior level of certainty or authenticity which Roman Catholics (imho) mistakenly attribute to it.

What good was such a style of papal teaching, say, during the great western schism - a situation where you had people who would eventually be canonized by the RCC as saints, supporting different claimants to the Papal Throne?  What about the possibility brought up by the RC doctor and saint Robert Bellarmine, of a Pope apostacizing or siimlarly defecting from the Catholic Church?

While Roman Catholics teach that strictly speaking the Pope is only "infallible" when excercising the fullness of his teaching authority (hence so called "ex cathedra" decrees/definitions), I've noticed there is no universal consensus on how many times that has actually occured.   Also, what about the possibility of a Pope not acting in his supreme capacity (but still being Pope and directing ecclessiastical affairs) but still ordering something which was objectively immoral, or contrary to the "Divine Law"?  While Roman Catholics are not supposed to be able to judge the Pope (to the point of apparently putting him on trial and possibly having him deposed), would not their own moral teaching render them incapable of following such abuses of authority?

In other words, even taken on it's own terms, the RC system in many cases still implicitly recognizes (though seemingly in a contradictory/confused manner) that the Popes are not in fact autonomous, that they do function under rules - but those rules require the interpretation of someone other than the currently reigning Pope, if he were to be resisted in any fashion.

While there have been varying polemics (some well argued, some less so) against the aggrandizment of the Papacy by Orthodox writers, the ultimate argument (imho) is not one over the practical organization of Church affairs and the relations beween Bishops.  While Orthodoxy on the whole has in practical terms opted for an extremely concilliar approach to such pan-Orthodox government, such emphasis on episcopal equality has not always been the norm.  For example, in pre-revolutionary Russia, individual diocese were very much envisioned as being parcels of a larger, Russian Orthodox Church, overseen at first by the Patriarchate in Moscow, then latter by the Holy Synod (and now in the 20th century, starting with St.Tikhon, back to the Patriarchate of Moscow.)  For centuries, the Coptic Orthodox Church (while still a part of the canonical, undivided Church - that is to say, prior to the fall out of the Council of Chalcedon...though the situation I'm about to lay out is still fairly true to the present day amongst the non-Chalcedonian Copts) was very centrally organized as well, around the Pope of Alexandria.  Obviously, the same situation developed early on in much (though not all; that took time) of the west as well - a heavily centralized government of Bishops, under the Pope of Rome.

So, while Orthodoxy has always struggled to underline the sacerdotal equality of all Bishops, and the full realization of the Church of Christ in their midst (as per St.Ignatius of Antioch), Her practical problem with "Papism" is not the practical administration of the Church being heavily organized around a central figure.

Her real beef (and rightly so) has to do with the accountability of such persons - underlining the fact that they exist within the Church and not above Her, and that no one is above such judgements.  Above all, that such figures are not subject to their own private confession, but the ultimate criteria for respecting their traditional/canonical priveleges, hinges upon the purity of their confession.  In other words, it's not that Orthodoxy doubts that St.Peter was called "the first" (and that such firstness can exist in the Church of Christ within the college of Bishops) - but that this "firstness" rested upon, his confession of the faith.

Catholicism - Simon bar Jonah is the "rock" and "foundation"; ultimatly man centered.

Orthodoxy - Simon bar Jonah aka "St.Kepha/Petros"'s faith is the foundation of the Church.

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« Reply #52 on: July 03, 2004, 02:13:34 AM »

Catholicism - Simon bar Jonah is the "rock" and "foundation"; ultimatly man centered.

Orthodoxy - Simon bar Jonah aka "St.Kepha/Petros"'s faith is the foundation of the Church.

I especially like this part.  Very well said.

Even though your posts can be somewhat lengthy, they are very coherent and easy to follow.  Keep up the good work (and subsequently go deflate your head  Wink)!
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« Reply #53 on: July 03, 2004, 02:02:26 PM »

I've decided that between work and kids my attempts to respond to all of the posts individually have resulted in rushed and, hence, inadequate responses.  I would love the challenge of responding to a tag team if I had more time on my hands, but I'm going to have to be more realistic about the constraints of my non-internet life.  What I'll do instead is respond to the general tenor of some of the posts, and apologize to those who feel they are left out of my responses.

First of all, I'm really glad this forum exists.  The Orthodox and Catholics should be engaged in civilized discourse like this everywhere.  Now to the substance:

Yes it is true that we Catholics are more eager for reunification than are the Orthodox.  That is because it is, according to Vatican II, an instrinsic part of our faith.  We seek reunification with all Christians, not just the Orthodox, though we see the Orthodox as closer to us on a number of issues.  Timothy Ware recognizes that in his book.  But I would hesitate to see that as weakness or self-doubt.  I and other Catholics believe that the fulness of the Church subsists in the Catholic Church, but we believe also in the existence of separated brethren.  Our ecumenical efforts are a labor of love, not desperation.  Moreover, we see ourselves as largely responsible for the divisions that exist among Christians.  Thus it is incumbent upon us to do everything we can to heal those divisions.

Now a word about the filioque.  I wouldn't say that it's based entirely on reason.  In my opinion the best way to understand it is in the words of Jesus: "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, that the Son does likewise." (John 5:19)  So the Spirit proceeds from the Son, not of himself, but because the Spirit proceeds from the Father.  So the Spirit proceeds from the Father in an ultimate sense, and from the Son in, for lack of a better term, a derivative sense.  Having said that, I have to acknowledge that the filioque could be clearer on that point, and here is where mutual dialogue could bear fruit.  My hope is that one day there will be another ecumenical council, with the bishops of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Catholic Churches all present, to resolve this and other issues.  It would make no sense to say we should all agree before such a council takes place, since reaching agreement would be the very purpose of the council.
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« Reply #54 on: July 03, 2004, 06:28:36 PM »

Jack wrote-"I've decided that between work and kids my attempts to respond to all of the posts individually have resulted in rushed and, hence, inadequate responses.  I would love the challenge of responding to a tag team if I had more time on my hands, but I'm going to have to be more realistic about the constraints of my non-internet life.  What I'll do instead is respond to the general tenor of some of the posts, and apologize to those who feel they are left out of my responses."

Jack, I do not blame you a bit, one thing we can definately agree on is that Family comes before posting. Sorry you are somewhat outnumbered in these discussions. I hope our discussions did remain within the limits of charity. In closing, I admire much about your faith and God may certainly find a way for unity where we puny mortals don't.

Respectfully,
Spiros
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« Reply #55 on: July 04, 2004, 03:00:47 AM »

 Cheesy      

       Hi Jack,
          First of all, i want to say that your a good man, a brother in the lord. Your honest , disarming style leaves a footprint of the holy spirit.... ( now here comes the 'however')....however, the notion that catholics don't consider the papacy as something of 'divine' in origin would seem to betray their insistence on scripture defining Peter as pope....do you believe the office (pope) originated in the new testament??..........As far as the 'uncreated energy', theosis, and other eastern perspectives go, i'm concerned that most orthodox don't know enough to articulate these...leaving many with the impression that eastern orthodox are merely bearded catholics. It is an issue theologically and reminds me of evangelicals challenging catholics on scripture, embarrassing them. Because r.catholics, generally, aren't 'bible thumpers' doesn't mean they don't believe in the bible as divinely inspired. Memorizing scripture and living it are two distinct things. Whats exciting for me in Orthodoxy is the whole deification process....that the uncreated light can be known in this life as contrasted with the 'beatific vision' in r. catholicism, considered a post mortem experience..........................joe
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« Reply #56 on: July 05, 2004, 02:35:07 PM »

Thanks for the compliments, and I'm glad you all don't hear me in confession.

Mystical experiences are, in the last analysis, personal experiences.  Now the Eastern Church does a better job of incorporating such experiences into doctrinal expression.  We in the west just sort of stand back and admire them.  Yes we in the west are awkward with our mysticism, and I am about as awkward as they come.  You would expect such things from Romans who had to borrow much of their culture from the Greeks.  But the Romans sure came up with a legal system (albeit a bit inquisitorial for my tastes), and a military that was without equal for centuries.  And it survived the likes of Caligula and Nero!

Now isn't it interesting how the same cultural divide has been taken up by the Church?  After Constantine, when Christianity became a means of social promotion, many people converted nominally, bringing with them the worldly perceptions they had no intention of giving up.

Now the world has Babel, and the Church has Pentecost.  Babel is a place where people speak different languages, don't understand one another, and separate.  But in Pentecost, the Holy Spirit overcomes the barriers, and unites humanity.  Pentecost is the undoing of Babel.  That is why I feel strongly that our separation is a serious wrong.  To the extent that we continue with it, we are letting Babel win the war.  

And how do we reverse it?  By returning to Pentecost.  Now Pentecost was not something that was negotiated.  It was not achieved through making concessions or formal agreements.  It was not something that was achieved at all.  It was an act of the Holy Spirit.  It was unplanned and unrehearsed, and made communication and unity possible where it was impossible before.  The pilgrims to Jerusalem heard the disciples speaking in their own language.  In a word, it was a miraculous event.

That is why I say unity first, then agreement.  Trying to do it the other way will never work, because we are trying to overcome the effects of Babel throgh our own efforts.  What do we plan to do, create unity through winning arguments?  Or do we just let things stay the way they are until the next schism?  Instead, let's follow the example of the first disciples:

"When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.  And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." (Acts 2:1-4)

The Holy Spirit will take care of our divisions and disagreements if we let him.  But first we must be like the first disciples and come "together in one place."

By the way, let me clear up a misunderstanding.  I meant to say that Catholics don't think that the papacy is divine.  We do believe it is divine in origin.  And, yes, I do believe that the office of pope began in the New Testament.  More on this later, if you would like.
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« Reply #57 on: July 08, 2004, 12:10:35 PM »

 Wink  

            Hi Jack,
               I like the Pentecost reference toward unity. The Lord commanded the disciples not to do anything or 'leave', until power from most high came down. Thus, as you say, they were together, in one place.... Today, it seems for churches to gather in one place is a forboding event ,where spiritual compromising begins, always done in the name of 'unity'.........This unity thing scares me a bit as a trojan horse......much like Vatican 2 was for the Roman church.............Then as now, unity of the disciples in the upper room was not contingent on submission, recognition, or allegiance to a papacy.....or to the person of Peter............................................................................joe
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« Reply #58 on: July 08, 2004, 03:45:54 PM »

Wink  

            Hi Jack,
               I like the Pentecost reference toward unity. The Lord commanded the disciples not to do anything or 'leave', until power from most high came down. Thus, as you say, they were together, in one place.... Today, it seems for churches to gather in one place is a forboding event ,where spiritual compromising begins, always done in the name of 'unity'.........This unity thing scares me a bit as a trojan horse......much like Vatican 2 was for the Roman church.............Then as now, unity of the disciples in the upper room was not contingent on submission, recognition, or allegiance to a papacy.....or to the person of Peter............................................................................joe

That's fine, I say.  No preconditions on either side.  Unity first, then the Holy Spirit will see to our agreement.
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« Reply #59 on: July 08, 2004, 07:09:56 PM »

Quote
That's fine, I say.  No preconditions on either side.  Unity first, then the Holy Spirit will see to our agreement

Keep up the good work jack. We would be much better off with more reasonable people like you. I doubt unity would come for a long time barring a miracle by the holy spirit. The RC's need to clean their house first & the Orthodox need some more order & less squabling. We can't even get along amongst ourselves, did you notice the amount of antiochian bashing that goes on???

Anyways, I am concerned though about the overall condition of the RC. I think it's somwhat premature to talk about unity because the RC church is bleeding all over the place due to unity at all cost. It's great to claim to be "univerasal", but not at the expense of scandals and billion dollar lawsuits. I think the RC really needs to get aggresive in fixing these problems right now. I'm interested in what you have to say about this problem facing the RC. I do hope only the best for the RC. I have so much respect for the Holy Father and many Catholics I know.
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« Reply #60 on: July 08, 2004, 10:05:38 PM »

Jack,

I share your desire to see an "undivided Christendom."  The division of those who profess faith in Jesus Christ is a scandal to the world, and a lot of time is wasted in fighting between people who ought to be on the "same side."

However, this raises the question of why "truth" matters.  I believe it matters, not because the the Kingdom of Heaven is opened only to those who a quasi-gnostic appreciation of the particulars of God's revelation (as if we will be greeted at the pearly gates with a bar exam), but because in it we find the "words of life" themselves.  Every deviancy from the Holy Tradition which protects (like a suit of armour) and embodies (like the paper and binding of a book) the Orthodox Faith, or worse yet explicit deviation from the content of the Orthodox faith, not only points men away from God, but towards perdition.

Is this to say that some amount of ignorance or even misunderstanding will send a soul away from God and into the embrace of the enemy of mankind?  I would not be so over the top - but it has to be kept in mind that heresy is bad for the same reason (though to a much lesser degree) that the infidelity of paganism is bad; it points away from God.  Were you to find the truth in such a situation, it would then be quite in spite of the teaching and customs of your mentors.

Thus, the Fathers recognized that amongst the pagans in the time before the advent of the Lord Jesus Christ, there were men who out of a thirst for truth and wisdom, received light from the Lord (for they were, in an unseen way, lovers of the Logos.)  However, such would be very much in spite of much of their surroundings and the "conventional wisdom" of their religions.  Idolatry leads away from the true God (by ascribing to divinity that which is entirely unworthy), and was an occasion even for the manifestation of demons.  Sadly, this can be true of heresies as well (indeed, heresies themselves have their root in sin, which always has it's root in the flesh and the tempation of demons.)

By keeping Her distance from condemned heresy and those who formally hold to it, the Church is admonishing those outside of Her, and protecting Her own.  The need for such protection always abides; if anything, it is more necessary now than ever.

Hence, while the perennial wisdom of the Church in this matter is more timely than ever.  While we can talk, and hopefully make the heterodox understand why they must return to the genuine "simple Christianity" of the Orthodox Church, until such an acceptance of the faith comes from heterodox, it would be to their detriment (and ours!) to engage in a practice of "open communion".

I know the medicine tastes bad, but it really is the right medicine.

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« Reply #61 on: July 08, 2004, 11:27:27 PM »

Dear Jack,

The Holy Spirit, is Spirit of Truth. As such it is important matter for unity that all Christians recognize the Spirit of Truth which is evidenced in the writings of the Orthodox Church fathers. Bearing in mind that if a falsehood is presented then that is of a different spirit.  

 John 4
1   Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

Saint Paul has written much on discernment. I would further add that the fathers of the Orthodox Church and the same Orthodox Church rejected and continues to reject that which was and is false (Heresy) and recognized and continues to recognize or discern that which was or is of the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit.

Here is an excellent short reference from a book written by Demetrios Constantelos.

The opening prayer in the Orthodox prayer book is directed to the Holy Spirit, who is described as the "Paraclete" and the "Spirit of Truth," while the creed speaks of "the Giver of Life." What is the Holy Spirit? He is the third person of the Holy Trinity, one person of the same essence with the other two persons of the one Christian God. The Orthodox Church has been characterized as a pneumatological church, because she lays such great emphasis upon the work of the Holy Spirit. She describes the whole purpose of the Christian life on earth as the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. A saint has put it in the following terms: "Prayer, fasting, vigils, and all other Christian practices, however good they may be in themselves, certainly do not constitute the aim of our Christian life: they are but the indispensable means of attaining that aim. For the true aim of the Christian life is acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God." Fasts, vigils, charities, and other good works done in the name of Christ are the means of acquiring the Holy Spirit of God. The prayer life of the faithful starts with the invocation of the Holy Spirit. Every morning the Orthodox place themselves under the protection of the Holy Spirit when they recite the beautiful prayer: "O Heavenly King, comforter, the Spirit of truth, who art everywhere and fillest all things, the treasury of blessings and giver of life, come and abide in us. Cleanse us from all impurity, and of your goodness save our souls."

But why so much emphasis on the Holy Spirit? Because the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the life-giving power of God, the promulgator of Christ's work in the salvation and eternal destiny of man. Jesus Christ promised His apostles that "the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (Jn. 14:2G).

The Holy Spirit continues the work of Jesus through inspired human beings. He carries on the redemption and sanctification of man. He reveals and preaches the good tidings through people, through prophets, the Fathers, and the saints of the Church. The Holy Spirit speaks to man's heart and transforms him into a new creation, through repentance and Christ's teachings.

The Holy Spirit's power leads the human person to achieve the final aim of the Christian life, the theosis, or deification, of human nature, a notion very dear to the Orthodox. Theosis means life in God, the transformation of a human being into a little god within God. This notion is in perfect agreement with the Scriptures. Once people picked up stones to cast at Christ. When Jesus asked why they were doing this, the people answered that it was because He was insulting God by calling himself God. And Jesus answered: "It is not written in your law, 'I said, you are gods?" (Jn. 10.34; Ps. 82.6). Thus Jesus himself calls man a little god. This teaching has been taken over by the Fathers and the tradition of the Church. It constitutes an important element of the eschatological teachings of the Greek Orthodox Church.

Saint Basil the Great describes man as a creature who has received the order to become a god; and Saint Athanasios, as is well known, has expressed it in the classic words "God became man that man might become god." And the Church in the hymn for Holy Thursday Matins sings as follows: "In my kingdom, said Christ, I shall be God with you as gods" (cf. Ps. 82.6: Jn. 10.34).

The great theological quests of the fourth and fifth centuries ultimately resulted in the affirmation that salvation is the divinisation of humanity and its eternal presence in God, the source of its life. Damnation is exactly the opposite, the deprivation of God's presence in the life of humanity. The deification of the human has its beginnings here on earth, but it will reach its fulfilment in the life to come. It is the result of man's response to the Holy Spirit in man's life.

The Holy Spirit works in human beings in various ways, especially through the sacraments of the Church and through reading and listening to the Holy Scriptures. Christ promised that the Holy Spirit would teach the Church all things necessary for man's salvation. To the end of time the Holy Spirit will be leading the faithful and the Church into deeper and deeper understanding of the truth of God.

The Holy Spirit guides the Church, or the community, in understanding the meaning of Jesus' teachings, which would not otherwise be possible. Upon the departure of Christ from the earth, the Holy Spirit came to inspire, guide, and establish the Ekklesia and to remain with it forever. "I will not leave you desolate," Jesus promised His disciples (Jn. 14:18). In this respect Jesus proved different from other great teachers. Plato writes that, when Sokrates died, his disciples "thought that [they] would have to spend the rest of their lives orphans, as children bereft of a father, and [they) did not know what to do about it." The Paraclete took Jesus' place and remains forever with the disciples. It is the Spirit, then, who gives purpose in life and who remains with the Church forever as "the Lord, the Giver of Life."  

In Christ,

Matthew Panchisin
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« Reply #62 on: July 09, 2004, 03:46:47 AM »

First let me respond to the query regarding the priest scandal in the Catholic Church.  The thing that needs to be said right off is that there is no excuse whatsoever for what happened.  Why did it happen?  Well, I'm sure I don't have all the answers, but it's obvious that we need to take a look at how our priests are chosen.  My personal belief is that sanctity of life is more important than formal education.  I think we emphasize the latter at the expense of the former.  I also think we've been invaded by a pervert club.  But the Lord will cleanse his temple.

Here is also the place to concede a point regarding centralization.  We needed it back in the days when monarchs thought they should have a say in the appointment of bishops, but now it just results in too many company men being appointed.  Men like that are more likely to try and cover things up in the interest of public relations.

A remark about the modern day liturgy in the Latin rite: I think the pedestrian feel it often has is due to the delivery.  I attended the chrism mass during Holy Week, and the mass was sung with a full choir.  It was outstanding.  Also, though I am not qualified to speak on this, I understand that the English translation of the liturgy is somewhat lacking.

Now I must speak bluntly.  The idea that the Orthodox Church has everything right and the Catholic Church is an assembly of heretics is one that I categorically reject.  I won't bore you with the details of why I am Catholic and not anything else, though I will take specific questions.  I'm not here to convince any Orthodox to become Catholic.  Suffice it to say that I think that there are very good reasons for being Catholic.  But don't think I have no appreciation for the Orthodox viewpoint, and even considered becoming Orthodox once I realized that the Christian religion began a long time before the Reformation (I have Irish Catholic roots, but...well, it's a long story).

But I will own up to the fact that I am here to try and convince people that unity among the Apostolic Churches is critical and essential.  Now many posters have said that the differences between us are too many for any meaningful reconciliation to take place.  In a human sense, I think that's true.  Reunion will clearly not be achieved if we wait until one side caves in.  And it's not going to happen through compromise either.  The way it's going to happen is if we just do it.  The Holy Spirit will take care of the differences.  (I'm going to turn it into a slogan: "Unity first!")

Don't I have any concern for truth?  Of course I do; I have a concern for the truth that our separation is outright sinful, and we should repent immediately.  That's the truth.  And here's another truth.  God is stronger than our fears of being tainted.  Jesus touched the lepers, we should surely be willing to share the cup with our brothers and sisters.

I'm constantly amazed at how easily Christians forget that Satan is defeated.  Too often we cower in our rooms, afraid of making a mistake, thinking that if we're not careful God is going to let us drop into hell.  That may be consistent with the preaching of Jonathan Edwards, but has nothing to do with the Gospel.  Satan has no power that we don't give him.  True, we have to be vigilant.  But that is a vigilance that requires us to make sure we don't start following the flesh instead of the Spirit.  But if you want to know the truth you will; if you want to follow the path of righteousness you will; if you want to be deified in the way MatthewPanchisin spoke of you will.  Satan would probably love to send a Trojan horse through your gate.  But he is an enemy that Christ has already conquered.  
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« Reply #63 on: July 09, 2004, 10:35:05 AM »

As Orthodox we dont believe in unity first and iron out the differences later.  This is just wishful thinking.  Yes, the Holy Spirit will be our guide to unity if unity is to be.  This unity for unity's sake is a touchy-feely type of union without substance.  I think by now most of us know all the differences that divide us.  How can the both of us claim union with different belief systems?  Where is the ONENESS?  I cant bring myself to go along with this "Unity First".  

JoeS   :-  

Reunion will clearly not be achieved if we wait until one side caves in.  And it's not going to happen through compromise either.  The way it's going to happen is if we just do it.  The Holy Spirit will take care of the differences.  (I'm going to turn it into a slogan: "Unity first!")

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« Reply #64 on: July 09, 2004, 12:31:54 PM »

Yes it is true that we Catholics are more eager for reunification than are the Orthodox.

Whatever.  Totally false.  The kicker is that Catholics want Christian unity under their own terms, i.e., with all Christians under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome and in unity with the Roman Catholic Church's doctrines.  This wasn't how things were during the first millennium of Christianity, and we Orthodox see no reason to succumb to this innovation now.  It makes no sense why this unilateral push should be the model of Christian unity.  

By definition, ALL Orthodox Christians are in favor of Christian unity (we pray for it at every liturgy).  Our 15 autocephalous Orthodox Churches each have a distinct church leadership and bishops, but we are all unified with the same faith.

This statement you make is your opinion.......  please clarify it as such.
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« Reply #65 on: July 09, 2004, 01:23:36 PM »

Okay, but I think it is fair for Jack to say that the Catholics value *visible* unity more highly than we do ... it's pretty important to Catholics.  We Orthodox place supreme value on spiritual unity but have fairly high tolerance for a lack of visible unity, whether it comes in the form of our jurisdictional chaos in North America, the periodic spats between the EP and the MP or countless other smaller squabblings amongst ourselves .... we tolerate them because we know we are one in faith, but as troubling as they are to us, they are much more deeply disturbing to Catholics, I think.
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« Reply #66 on: July 09, 2004, 01:38:04 PM »

These discussions are becoming sewing/knitting circle talks, each picks a negative to talk it to death, who is this & who is'nt, where are the positive points to build on ? Or will discussions be built on sand instead of rock?

Guess someone keeps score eh .

james
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« Reply #67 on: July 09, 2004, 04:33:20 PM »

Dear Jacub,

The positive points to build on what the Orthodox Church teaches entirely and what the Roman Catholic Church used to teach as well. As you know, the Roman Catholic Church has changed as it does not teach all of the same things the Orthodox Church teaches. In short Rome should return to the Orthodox Faith and then there would be unity. Having said that we do to this day still have much in common, but it is not a question of just having much in common it is a question of resolving the matters that we do not have in common. Those would be the negatives and would appropriately require attention or there could never be any resolution. The positive points are that the negatives are being brought to the appropriate attention of others so that they may be addressed and corrected. It is not the responsibility of the Orthodox to correct something that we can not correct. That is the responsibility of those you have the ability to redefine and accept the correct understanding., namely Rome. Surely, Rome would change if it agreed with the Orthodox Church. The Orthodox can not correct that which is correct because something that is correct does not require correction. Those stubborn Greeks etc...Rome tell us that all the Orthodox need is to be under the Roman Pontiff and we can maintain our Traditions and theology. However, our theology precludes us from being under Rome as it is today or changing our theology. Roman Catholic theology can be redefined or develop with time. In it's heart Orthodox theology transcends space and time. An example would be mercy, surely we are both capable of that.

In Christ,

Matthew Panchisin
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« Reply #68 on: July 09, 2004, 05:46:27 PM »

Are the Catholic and Orthodox disagreements in soteriology the biggest impediment to unity?  It seems like the Augustinianism/Thomism of the West is vastly different than the grace/free will paradigm established in the East.  Anyone's thoughts on this...?

As a former RC I think the biggest obstacle is all the changes the RCC has undergone in the last 1,100+ years.

The two Chruches did not grow apart -- Rome separated itself from the other Churches. Not satisfied with being just the official state religion. Rome felt compelled to have a "Holy Roman Emperor" and its teachings, doctrine and dogma changed in large part to better keep people in line....even after Charlemagne was out of the picture.
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« Reply #69 on: July 09, 2004, 06:08:47 PM »

Matthew,

I have magically changed Papal primacy to honor only, Papal infalliabilty gone, filioque gone, beside the theological battle of Greek & Roman thought what else remains ?

I know stubborness, being half Polish & Italian, I rather build on common positives, but in the end power & politics will ruin all, there will be immense jurisdictional battles.

james

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« Reply #70 on: July 09, 2004, 09:21:46 PM »

Dear Jakub,

Well, stubbornness when applied to the Orthodox Church and her theology is good for it is a mind and heartset that has not compromised the Orthodox faith. To present stubbornness relative to Holy Orthodoxy as a disservice and negative or not so admirable of a quality regarding theology is reducing it to the realm of human passions irrepective of the circumstances of its application. It is a common positive to build on for even the Bishop of Rome has spoken of his admiration of the Orthodox faith when speaking of the treasures of the east and looking to the east. I blatantly disagree with your quote because that is not what Christ tells us and is in opposition to what Christ has said. Since you are communicating your thoughts about the Church I ask where in Holy writ do we hear the notion or general thoughts along the line of that "but in the end power & politics will ruin all, there will be immense jurisdictional battles" relative to the Church of Christ? It sounds rather cynical, I recall hearing the gates of hell will not prevail against her. Nay?

"but in the end power & politics will ruin all, there will be immense jurisdictional battles."

Forgive me if I misunderstood your conclusion as negative, perhaps you would like to reconsider what you have just said or explain it better if I'm misunderstanding what you really mean? It seems to me that you just twisted something. Why did you do that or why I'm I misunderstanding you?

In Christ,

Matthew Panchisin
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« Reply #71 on: July 09, 2004, 09:38:53 PM »

Whatever.  Totally false.  The kicker is that Catholics want Christian unity under their own terms, i.e., with all Christians under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome and in unity with the Roman Catholic Church's doctrines.  This wasn't how things were during the first millennium of Christianity, and we Orthodox see no reason to succumb to this innovation now.  It makes no sense why this unilateral push should be the model of Christian unity.  

By definition, ALL Orthodox Christians are in favor of Christian unity (we pray for it at every liturgy).  Our 15 autocephalous Orthodox Churches each have a distinct church leadership and bishops, but we are all unified with the same faith.

This statement you make is your opinion.......  please clarify it as such.

Actually, if you had bothered to read my statement in the context of the thread you would have seen I was making a concession.
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« Reply #72 on: July 09, 2004, 09:54:53 PM »

Well, there are some of you who think agreement is necessary first.  I obviously don't, but I would only repeat myself if I was to make further arguments along this line.  So, I will ask a question.  For those of you who reject the unity first idea, could you state specifically those things that the Catholic Church would need to agree on before unity could be achieved?
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« Reply #73 on: July 09, 2004, 10:10:23 PM »

Dear Jack,

This is a good read even though it is over 100 years old you will see most of the same issues being reponded to. More dividing issues have been added since this reply but I don't have access to them right now.


Part of The Patriarchal Encyclical of 1895
A Reply to the Papal Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII (1895) on Reunion


http://www.geocities.com/trvalentine/orthodox/ency1895.html
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« Reply #74 on: July 09, 2004, 10:29:57 PM »

Matthew,

The stubborness is getting to the discussion table, not a naming particular group.

Indeed there will be power plays and challenges, just like in the days of the Apostles, we are human and prone to prideful things at times.

I am trying to remove the major points which have been talked about here a zillion times by the Orthodox and to see what else can be on the table.

I am a cradle Latin but do see the Eastern side a little clearer then others, it took a little while though  Tongue.

james
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« Reply #75 on: July 10, 2004, 10:28:59 AM »

I would like to comment on this as I am former RC( born and baptized into it by an Irish-catholic family).  Keep in mind, I am not a theologian, but a simple believer.  For many years, I was very hostile to the RC church.  I had been taken in by the doctrine of Sola Scriptura since I had joined the Lutheran Church.  However I came to realize that this doctrine led to many more contradictions and questins.  Fortunately, to make a long story short God gave me the Grace to find the Holy Orthodox Church.  For the first time in my life, I can say with confidence"I Believe" and mean it. May God be praised.


One of the first things I was tought by my spiritual Father was to stop judging! That is the perogative of God alone. I was very hateful twoard the RC church. The recent problem with homosexuals in the seminaries and pedophile priests fueled my hate. ( I used to commment" by their fruits you will know them")

I now pray for unity of all true believers on a daily basis. Since I believe the truth has been kept by the Orthodox Church, naturally I feel that they would return to the church that Christ founded in 33 ad.

I watch the Catholic channel many times a week(EWTN). I see so many godly men such as Father Corapi preaching the way from a true beliving heart, that I find myself thanking God that He has not deserted the RC church.  I also pray that he will place more good men in the leadership roles in both our churces so that unity can be achieved.

It does trouble me though that it seems that unity cannot even be achieved within the RC church by the bishops on such vital questions as can a politician that promtes the death of the innocent partake in the eucharist ( abortion) and the problem of homosexual priests.
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« Reply #76 on: July 10, 2004, 11:50:31 AM »

Dear Shanmo9,

It is quite common that when discussing the beliefs of others it can appear to be hostile or judgmental when points of disagreement are being discussed. Having said that, I think that most Orthodox Christians and particularly people that share similar background as yours, and the more traditional or conservative Roman Catholics rejoice with us when desirable progress is being made. I can tell you that when I read the below article I was quite pleased, as I hope many others are as well. I have listened to Father Corapi a few times and was once very disturbed by his commentary on a very serious subject matter. However I must say he is sincere and has a disposition that is receptive to discussion. I think that God has placed many good men in leadership roles within the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox Church. However you are absolutely correct perhaps God willing a strong personality will emerge and forge the way back towards the Orthodox Church. There is no doubt in my mind that Father Corapi would agree with Cardinal Ratzinger words below. Would you agree that a tremendous amount of progress would be made if Father Corapi was the Roman Catholic point man for discussions with the Orthodox Church. How could we get that to happen, is there anyone we could write? I'm quite sincere I think we would see more progress made in a few years than in centuries because it seems he is not afraid to look at a situation and say what's going on here and now what do we do?

Thanks for your good post, it might be he most practical unity post I've ever read, because you pointed towards the heart and I think Father Corapi would be the first to say, ok gather around troops and lets take a look at the ticker and do the right thing for the sake of truth and the Church and Christ.

Cardinal Ratzinger lays out principles on denying Communion, voting

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In a recent memorandum, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger laid out the principles under which bishops or other ministers may deny Communion to Catholic politicians who consistently promote legal abortion.

At the same time, he said it is not necessarily sinful for Catholics to vote for politicians who support abortion, as long as they are voting for that candidate for other reasons.

Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, sent the six-point memorandum to Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington, who heads an episcopal task force on Catholic politicians. It was designed to offer guidance to the U.S. bishops when they discussed the Communion/abortion issue at their mid-June meeting near Denver.

The text of Cardinal Ratzinger's memorandum was published online July 3 by the Italian magazine L'Espresso, and a Vatican official said it was authentic. But it apparently was accompanied by a cover letter that has not been published.

Cardinal McCarrick said in a statement July 6 that L'Espresso's story was the result of an "incomplete and partial leak" that did not reflect Cardinal Ratzinger's full advice to the U.S. bishops.

The cardinal said he would not release Cardinal Ratzinger's "written materials" because the cardinal asked him not to.

"Through this continuing process, the Holy See has constantly emphasized it is up to our bishops' conference to discuss and determine how best to apply the relevant principles and for individual bishops to make prudent pastoral judgments in our own circumstance," Cardinal McCarrick said.

Cardinal Ratzinger's comments on Catholic voters -- in private communication briefly outlining principles for consideration rather than exploring them in depth -- came at the end of the memorandum. It touched on an evolving issue that is important to many Catholics during the 2004 presidential election campaign: The presumptive Democratic candidate, John Kerry, is a Catholic who supports legal abortion.

Two U.S. bishops -- Archbishop Raymond L. Burke of St. Louis and Bishop Michael J. Sheridan of Colorado Springs -- recently said that Catholics who knowingly vote for pro-abortion politicians would be committing a grave sin.

Cardinal Ratzinger's note underlined the principles involved for the Catholic voter.

"A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate's permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia," Cardinal Ratzinger wrote.

"When a Catholic does not share a candidate's stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons," he said.

In other words, if a Catholic thinks a candidate's positions on other issues outweigh the difference on abortion, a vote for that candidate would not be considered sinful.

On the question of Communion for Catholic politicians, Cardinal Ratzinger outlined a process of pastoral guidance and correction for politicians who consistently promote legal abortion and euthanasia. That process could extend to a warning against taking Communion, and in the case of "obstinate persistence" by the politician, the minister "must refuse to distribute" Communion, he said.

After discussing the issue in Colorado, U.S. bishops overwhelmingly passed a statement that sharply criticized Catholic politicians who support legal abortion. The bishops also said denying Communion to those politicians is a complex question involving "prudential judgment" in each case.

The report in L'Espresso and some other media have characterized that as a rejection of Cardinal Ratzinger's advice. But Vatican sources said the Vatican was generally pleased with the U.S. bishops' statement, and that Cardinal Ratzinger was not trying to dictate a policy to the bishops.

"It is right to leave a margin for prudential judgment in these cases," said one Vatican source.

"Cardinal Ratzinger's point was not that bishops have to use (denial of Communion) in every circumstance, but that there are principles that would allow for this to happen," the source said.

In his memorandum, Cardinal Ratzinger began by noting that, for any Catholic, the practice of going to Communion simply because one attends Mass is "an abuse that must be corrected."

He said that in judging their own worthiness to receive Communion Catholics should recognize that abortion and euthanasia are grave sins, and that it is never permitted to cooperate in them in a formal way.

Whatever the individual decides about his or her worthiness to receive Communion, sometimes the minister of Communion "may find himself in the situation where he must refuse to distribute holy Communion to someone," Cardinal Ratzinger said.

Citing church law, he said those cases include people whom the church has declared excommunicated, as well as those who show "obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin."

In the case of abortion or euthanasia, Cardinal Ratzinger said a Catholic politician manifests "formal cooperation" in those grave sins by "consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws."

In that case, the cardinal said, the politician's pastor should "meet with him, instructing him about the church's teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist."

Cardinal Ratzinger then cited a principle of church law that is used to justify the denial of Communion to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.

"When 'these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible,' and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the holy Eucharist, 'the minister of holy Communion must refuse to distribute it,'" he said, quoting from a 2002 ruling on divorced-and-remarried Catholics issued by the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

His apparent implication was that the same principle applies to Catholic politicians who consistently campaign for and vote for legal abortion or euthanasia: that, like Catholics who have divorced and remarried, the public nature of their situation makes possible an objective judgment on their unworthiness to receive Communion.


Cardinal Ratzinger said that denial of Communion in these circumstances is not, properly speaking, a sanction or penalty.

"Nor is the minister of holy Communion passing judgment on the person's subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person's public unworthiness to receive holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin," he said.

The 2002 Vatican ruling on divorced Catholics has been a topic of discussion in Rome, in view of the Communion issue in the United States. Some canon law experts think it is more difficult to apply it in a categorical way to Catholic politicians on the abortion issue. They note that the politician's situation may be much more complex than that of divorced Catholics who because of remarriage are considered to be living in a state of sin.

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« Reply #77 on: July 10, 2004, 11:59:04 AM »

Dear Jack,

This is a good read even though it is over 100 years old you will see most of the same issues being reponded to. More dividing issues have been added since this reply but I don't have access to them right now.


Part of The Patriarchal Encyclical of 1895
A Reply to the Papal Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII (1895) on Reunion


http://www.geocities.com/trvalentine/orthodox/ency1895.html

Thanks Matthew.  I printed the document and will read it.  Since this encyclical was written after Vatican I, I wonder what could have arisen in the meantime to create further points of division.
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« Reply #78 on: July 10, 2004, 01:28:39 PM »

I made a mistake in my posting. The one below is what I had in mind, but they are both relevant and applicable.


Cardinal Ratzinger Orders Kerry Communion Ban

In a private memorandum, top Vatican prelate Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger told American bishops that Communion must be denied to Catholic politicians who support legal abortion.

While never mentioning Sen. John Kerry by name, the memo implicitly aims at the pro-choice Catholic Massachusetts senator and presidential candidate.

Ratzinger's ban is broad and includes all other pro-abortion Catholic politicians who are defying the church's ban on abortion.

According the Culture of Life Foundation, which obtained a copy of the confidential document, the Cardinal began by stressing the serious nature of receiving Communion and the need for each person to make “a conscious decision” regarding their worthiness based on “the Church’s objective criteria.”

But the Cardinal adds that it is not only the responsibility of the pro-abortion politicians such as Kerry to make a judgment about their worthiness to receive Communion.

It is also up to those distributing Communion to deny the sacrament to those in conflict with the Church's prohibition of abortion and the duty of office holders to oppose the procedure.

“Apart from an individual’s judgment about his worthiness to present himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion may find himself in the situation where he must refuse to distribute Holy Communion to someone, such as in cases of a declared excommunication, a declared interdict, or an obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin.”

If a politician such as Kerry “still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it, ” Cardinal Ratzinger wrote.

He added that such as denial does not mean that the minister of Communion is judging the politician’s soul but is a reflection that he is in a state of obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin.

“Nor is the minister of Holy Communion passing judgment on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin.”

The document also address the issues of the death penalty and war, contrasting these issues and with abortion.

“Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia ... There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia,” Ratzinger wrote.

The memo was one of the subjects of an interim report by a task force of seven bishops established to address the Communion question.


The topic was also addressed by the American Bishops during their mid-June meeting in Dallas.

At that meeting the Bishops approved a document titled “Catholics in Political Life” which while it had harsh words for pro-abortion leaders, did not make specific recommendations on whether or not they should be denied Communion instead leaving the decision to individual Bishops.


Implicit in what the the Cardinal was saying, however, is that the bishops are required to state unambiguously that pro-abortion politicians must be denied Holy Communion, thus removing the decision from the bishops' discretion.
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« Reply #79 on: July 10, 2004, 02:30:41 PM »

"At the same time, he said it is not necessarily sinful for Catholics to vote for politicians who support abortion, as long as they are voting for that candidate for other reasons."

Unforanately, our local bishop here in Albany NY has publicly stated that he would not enforce it.  That's just the excuse many liberal cafeteria Catholics are looking for.  That is what I meant when I said that there isn't any unity among the bishops.

I find this humorus. If I were a pro-abortion  politician say in St. Louis I would be denied Communion because I was in a state of unrepented sin, but in Albany, NY I would be welcomed to the Lord's table!
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« Reply #80 on: July 10, 2004, 02:53:22 PM »

As far as I know, Cardinal Ratzinger has no authority to order the American bishops to do anything.  As in sympathy with his position as I am, this is exactly the sort of curial interference that I thought the Orthodox found so objectionable.

Matthew, I read the Patriarchal Encyclical, and found it very interesting.  Perhaps I'll start another thread on it, since this one is getting pretty long.
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« Reply #81 on: July 10, 2004, 03:35:17 PM »

Dear Jack,

Since Cardinal Ratzinger memorandum is pertaining to the Roman Catholic Church and various opinion among exist among the Bishops of the Roman Church relative to what is obviously a very significant issue that effects the faithful and effectuating a consistent practice what is wrong with a senior bishops involvement? I can tell you very plainly that all of the Orthodox Clergy that I know would take the correct action relative to a sin that is not repoented of for the sake of the faithful and particularly the individual's who don't think abortion is a sin. The latest information I heard and I don't listen much relative to John Kerry's position is that "I support the law" ( I took it as meaning the law of America is pro-abortion) and in next breath at the same place "I believe life begins at conception" This is a form of political and spiritual prestidigitation combined.

I must ask you to clarify something. What did you mean by your quote "this is exactly the sort of curial interference that I thought the Orthodox found so objectionable."

If there is interference to correct something that is wrong how could the Orthodox find that objectionable?

In the Orthodox Church if a Bishop is not rightly dividing the word of God's Truth there would not be any objection if a bishop of higher rank stepped in to correct the situation particularly relative to theology and issues concerning the faithful. In my life time I'm not aware of it ever happening because liturgical and theological consistency is maintained. There are administrative disagreements but that is of another realm.

In Christ,

Matthew Panchisin
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« Reply #82 on: July 11, 2004, 10:20:02 PM »

Dear Jack,

Since Cardinal Ratzinger memorandum is pertaining to the Roman Catholic Church and various opinion among exist among the Bishops of the Roman Church relative to what is obviously a very significant issue that effects the faithful and effectuating a consistent practice what is wrong with a senior bishops involvement? I can tell you very plainly that all of the Orthodox Clergy that I know would take the correct action relative to a sin that is not repoented of for the sake of the faithful and particularly the individual's who don't think abortion is a sin. The latest information I heard and I don't listen much relative to John Kerry's position is that "I support the law" ( I took it as meaning the law of America is pro-abortion) and in next breath at the same place "I believe life begins at conception" This is a form of political and spiritual prestidigitation combined.

I must ask you to clarify something. What did you mean by your quote "this is exactly the sort of curial interference that I thought the Orthodox found so objectionable."

If there is interference to correct something that is wrong how could the Orthodox find that objectionable?

In the Orthodox Church if a Bishop is not rightly dividing the word of God's Truth there would not be any objection if a bishop of higher rank stepped in to correct the situation particularly relative to theology and issues concerning the faithful. In my life time I'm not aware of it ever happening because liturgical and theological consistency is maintained. There are administrative disagreements but that is of another realm.

In Christ,

Matthew Panchisin

Well, then...what objection would the Orthodox have to the Pope exercising his primacy in the manner described?  During the first thousand years wasn't he the bishop of the highest rank?
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« Reply #83 on: July 11, 2004, 11:40:45 PM »

If the Bishop of Rome returned to the Orthodox faith I'm not sure how primacy would work because it would be a matter of rendering primacy to a see that has not been Orthodox for centuries. It might take many centuries for Rome to understand what Primacy of Honor means.  A simply example would be returning something that doesn't belong to you.  Bear in mind that other Bishops in communion with him or the faithful do not heed his words, where is the primacy your referencing?  As far as I know his some of his words are easily dismissed by some in communion with him and not in communion with him. Why is that?

And yes you are correct during the first 1000 years the Bishop of Rome received a position of primacy, however since no Othodox Patriarch makes any claims of infallibility among the body of Hierarchs save Rome, she has isolated herself from Orthodoxy for over 1000 years and we are familiar with the results which are perceived as significant.

How the Bishop of Rome functions with the Bishops in communion with him is a Roman matter.

In Christ,

Matthew Panchisin
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« Reply #84 on: July 11, 2004, 11:48:48 PM »

As a footnote comment to the two posts above, I really think the use of the term "higher ranking bishop" is misleading. The Orthodox concept of administrative rank among our equal bishops differs from the Latin papal concept, if I am not mistaken.

Demetri
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« Reply #85 on: July 12, 2004, 12:33:25 AM »

Dear Demitri,

I understand what you are saying and you are correct that it differs from the Latin papal concept.  But the fact of the matter is that in Orthodoxy if a Patriarch, older Metropolitan or Archbishop speaks to a new ordained Bishop of a small diocese the older knowledge is usually heeded. This is called obedience and common sense. Having said that when Orthodox Hierarchs meet and greet each other they often join hands and the younger Hierarch kisses the hand of the older and then the older kisses the hand of the younger. Sometimes the timing is perfect and there is a simultaneous exchange of kisses. In a similar reflection when multiple Orthodox hierarchs serve together, the Deacon will incense the Bishops in accordance to rank if you will. This is a indication of the order of ordination to the Episcopacy or rank if you will.  Of course if a very young Patriarch was serving or in a meeting he would appropriately be among the older Hierarchs or the younger Patriarchs. I think if my memory serves me correctly, during the council of Nicea the Hierarchs sat and had been assembled in a circular sort of way. The preference being for a significant assembly is a circular table, as such there is no apparent head of the table which has its obvious significance. I really don't know if that always happened or if it depended on what sort of table might have been available.

In Christ,

Matthew Panchisin
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« Reply #86 on: July 12, 2004, 01:52:20 PM »

Well, then...what objection would the Orthodox have to the Pope exercising his primacy in the manner described?  During the first thousand years wasn't he the bishop of the highest rank?

In the manner described, the higher ranking bishop was interfering with other bishops in his own Church.
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« Reply #87 on: July 12, 2004, 02:37:01 PM »

In the manner described, the higher ranking bishop was interfering with other bishops in his own Church.

What do you mean by "in his own Church"?  East and west were not divided during the first thousand years.  Or, since each bishop is the head of his own church, are you referring to some hierarchical arrangement I am unfamiliar with?
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« Reply #88 on: July 12, 2004, 06:46:04 PM »

Dear Jack,

If we pretend that the whole Ratzinger memo thing happened a thousand years ago, what we have is a senior ranking bishop, assistant to the Patriarch of the West, instructing diocesan ordinaries within that Patriarchate on the "official position" on a certain matter (not sure if the Ratzinger memo actually is the official position of the RCC).  Am I wrong?  If not, then all of this is happening within one "jurisdiction", if you will.  That's not "interference", that's normal.  What I think Orthodox would have a problem with is if Ratzinger, on behalf of the Pope and with his authority, tried to do the same with any of the Eastern Churches.  That is not the jurisdiction of the Western Patriarchate, and so such would not be "normal", but interference.
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« Reply #89 on: July 13, 2004, 01:40:48 PM »

Dear Jack,

If we pretend that the whole Ratzinger memo thing happened a thousand years ago, what we have is a senior ranking bishop, assistant to the Patriarch of the West, instructing diocesan ordinaries within that Patriarchate on the "official position" on a certain matter (not sure if the Ratzinger memo actually is the official position of the RCC).  Am I wrong?  If not, then all of this is happening within one "jurisdiction", if you will.  That's not "interference", that's normal.  What I think Orthodox would have a problem with is if Ratzinger, on behalf of the Pope and with his authority, tried to do the same with any of the Eastern Churches.  That is not the jurisdiction of the Western Patriarchate, and so such would not be "normal", but interference.  
So this sort of thing is permissible within a patriarchal jurisdiction, but not across patriarchal lines?
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« Reply #90 on: July 13, 2004, 02:36:41 PM »

I could be wrong, but that is my understanding, yes.
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« Reply #91 on: July 13, 2004, 04:27:11 PM »

Dear Mor Ephrem,

You are not wrong and your understanding is correct.

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« Reply #92 on: July 14, 2004, 01:21:00 PM »

"Keep in mind, I am not a theologian, but a simple believer."

Orthodox like to say that anyone who truly prays to God is a theologian...... from farmer to postal worker to attorney to bishop. You don't have to have a position at a seminary to be a theologian.
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« Reply #93 on: July 14, 2004, 01:52:45 PM »

"Keep in mind, I am not a theologian, but a simple believer."

Orthodox like to say that anyone who truly prays to God is a theologian...... from farmer to postal worker to attorney to bishop. You don't have to have a position at a seminary to be a theologian.

I'd like to qualify that by saying, not necessarily, but that CAN be correct.  An example of 'Yes' would be the Troparion of Pentecost referring to how the 'fisherman' were revealed as theologians (or maybe it was in some of the stichera, Dogmatikon, or Doxasticon of the the night before vespers).  They were revealed as theologians by their correct understanding of the teachings of Christ.  On the otherhand, a very pious yaya who has gone to church all her life and persevered to the end, but doesn't really understand the 'whys' of the faith, I don't think would qualify as a theologian.
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« Reply #94 on: July 14, 2004, 01:53:47 PM »

Of course, this is all academic anyways so who cares.

(But then, isn't much of our quibbling on this forum?  Grin)
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« Reply #95 on: August 20, 2004, 07:38:25 AM »

This is an interesting discussion!I'm new and attend and Eastern rite church. Byzcath.org discusses this issue often. Some feel that Christianity is under attack and that (growing Muslim population in much of Europe)eventually Christian churchs will be forced to unite for survival.

Others opine that, though theological discussions have their place, that when enough lay members show an interest in unity it will happen.

My thought is that once Christians start living,breathing and thinking like Christian saints, that will open the door for the Holy Spirit to make a way for unity and the resolution of doctrinal differences in ways that our carnal minds can't even conceive of.

Peace
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« Reply #96 on: August 23, 2004, 05:19:00 PM »

From whence comes understanding, from the intellect or the heart or both? The yaya whose tears, prayers, bows, almsgiving and humility may understand in her 'heart' much more than a university inhabitant who is a indifferent to Christ's commandments surely? There are many clever heretics and pagans but in what sense would a believer call them a theologian?

I would follow the yaya who truly believed, rather than the 1st class priest with his degrees and was indifferent; being careful to respect his presbytership.
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« Reply #97 on: August 29, 2004, 04:01:13 PM »

I also think the West's promoting the Synod of Orange to ecumenical council will have to be revoked.  When the West anathematized Cassian and Lerins as Semi-pelagians they also anathematized the entire East with them because the Eastern Churches rejected Augustine's teaching and followed Cassian's teaching.  

The Synod of Orange is an ecumenical council? WHen was it? I as a Roman Catholic have never heard of it. Was it before Trent or after?
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« Reply #98 on: September 03, 2004, 07:03:53 PM »

The biggest obstacle to to unity is TRUTH.  

JoeS   Smiley
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« Reply #99 on: May 24, 2005, 09:45:08 AM »





Indeed: if no one is right out there in religionland, God's left us to be orphans. We never will be able to know all truth confidently, as there's always a chance it could be wrong, or left to another "sister communion" to fill in our blank.

Doesn't sound like Christ's promise to us.

Intresting...
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« Reply #100 on: May 24, 2005, 11:12:10 PM »


Now isn't it interesting how the same cultural divide has been taken up by the Church? After Constantine, when Christianity became a means of social promotion, many people converted nominally, bringing with them the worldly perceptions they had no intention of giving up.

Now the world has Babel, and the Church has Pentecost. Babel is a place where people speak different languages, don't understand one another, and separate. But in Pentecost, the Holy Spirit overcomes the barriers, and unites humanity. Pentecost is the undoing of Babel. That is why I feel strongly that our separation is a serious wrong. To the extent that we continue with it, we are letting Babel win the war.

And how do we reverse it? By returning to Pentecost. Now Pentecost was not something that was negotiated. It was not achieved through making concessions or formal agreements. It was not something that was achieved at all. It was an act of the Holy Spirit. It was unplanned and unrehearsed, and made communication and unity possible where it was impossible before. The pilgrims to Jerusalem heard the disciples speaking in their own language. In a word, it was a miraculous event.

That is why I say unity first, then agreement. Trying to do it the other way will never work, because we are trying to overcome the effects of Babel throgh our own efforts. What do we plan to do, create unity through winning arguments? Or do we just let things stay the way they are until the next schism? Instead, let's follow the example of the first disciples:



Jack, I have been reading through your posts on this thread and am responding here, though I still haven't gotten to the end of this thread!.  In any case I find your points incredibily insightful.  I was thinking about what the EO  priest who married my husband and I said during our pre-marital meetings with him:  He said "when you have a disagreement and can't find your way through it  drop the issue first, hold hands, and work your way through the issue little by little."   In other words he said unity was the prerequisite to resolution. A married couple is united by the God through the Holy Spirit.  One cannot resolve an issue from the position of adversary.. at that point you are at war and this leads to a battle of 'might'.  I am Orthodox and know many EO and RC- some intermarried, some not.  Most all have said and believe that the division is despicable and fed by human ego. In many cases intermarried couples go to both churches and have 'united' them within the home. 

As you have written coming to the table together to discuss the issues at hand is the way.   I am of the opinion that both the EO church and the RC church must work together to find unity as Christ's last will on the cross requested otherwise the Church is incomplete... regardless of it's doctrine... it must live the totality of Christ's will...  Both groups are responsible for allowing the schism to remain.  Christ gave us a 'big picture' request... for all to be united.  Many people have trouble with the 'big picture' in anything however... people love to micromanage looking at how we are different... not how all who believe in Christ as our Savior and the Holy Trinity  can be united...

Unity must transcend cultural differences which account for different interpretations of the same thing.  Greek culture, Latin culture, American, Russian... all these are very different and the differences do lead to different understandings of the same text..and consequently different text to explain the understanding. After having lived my life as an Orthodox, read and read, participated in the church from council to choir to SS, I have come to a conclusion that while we go around in circles trying to understand and discuss doctrine, God is up there looking at all His children doing their best as imperfect humans and He loves us all despite the mess we've made of things ...


in XC, Kizzy

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« Reply #101 on: May 24, 2005, 11:19:27 PM »

The teaching of the Church is that the Orthodox church is solely the "one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church" that Christ established.  The reasons for the latins still being outside the church are not mutual schism but dogmatic disagreements over such issues as the filioque, the papacy and created grace.  Christ called us to worship Him in spirit and turth, and the saints clearly understood that seperation from Truth seperates us also from grace. 
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« Reply #102 on: May 24, 2005, 11:27:59 PM »


 
Here is an excellent short reference from a book written by Demetrios Constantelos.





Matthew, I have heard  Prof. Father Constantelos speak at our church.  He is  a very wise man, very knowledgeable.  It is interesting that he fundamentally believes that the church must work on unity and intercommunion with the RC church. 
In XC, Kizzy
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« Reply #103 on: May 26, 2005, 01:57:06 PM »

RC's, when they recite the Creed in Greek say it the way Orthodox do - to insert a filoque clause in Greek would make the Holy Spirit deriviative of the Son and that's not what it means to them in Latin (they use "proceed" more in terms of the "economy" or as an apologetic for Christ's divinity) - so I don't think the filioque is the big issue.

Collegiality of bishops vs. universal jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome (pope) is still a major difference well, THE difference really.

the Anselm/Augustinian view of salvation vs. Ancestral sin/theosis view is pretty big, but like the filioque, the Latins were always pragmatic and more attuned to process (how salvation takes place) and the Eastern Church more concerned with ontology (what is the nature of man first created and as saved through the Incarnation of Christ) - so perhaps these views could be reconciled over time.

Legalistic vs ascetic understandings of various Christian disciplines also could be reconciled, especially when the favorite RC spiritual writers have borrowed so much from the Eastern Church (Nouwen, Merton come immdiately to mind)

These issues seem to require the most movement from Rome toward the Eastern Church positon...

However...

Remember the Alamo! (oops- that was something else) Remember the sacking of Constantinople! Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Time on the Eastern side to forgive and forget.

Married clergy, leavened or unleavened bread in the Eucharist - alot of this leaves much more room for diversity

These are just some immediate thoughts
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« Reply #104 on: May 26, 2005, 02:05:11 PM »

"My thought is that once Christians start living,breathing and thinking like Christian saints, that will open the door for the Holy Spirit to make a way for unity and the resolution of doctrinal differences in ways that our carnal minds can't even conceive of."

Sorry I can't get the quote in the little blue box!

Anyway - this may be the best insight thus far. thank you for it. let us all pray toward that end.
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« Reply #105 on: May 26, 2005, 02:14:29 PM »

Someone mentioned Cassian and Lerins being condemned as semi-pelagians and that condemnation needing to be lifted. As someone with an affinity to Celtic saints, may they (RCC) go all the way and reform the distorted image of Pelagius. I have read that new information on P has come to light and he was essentially putting forth an Orthodox view of soteriology. But due to language difficulties (and the Celtic view of the inherent goodness of the Creation) he got misinterpreted in Rome and he was labled a heretic, when all he really was guilty of was a garbled explanation of Ancestral Sin.

That and they didn't like his hair and he was loud! There was some cultural prejudice there in Rome also working against the lad!
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« Reply #106 on: May 26, 2005, 02:19:35 PM »

The problem we have is that we have ecumenically minded Popes like Benedict XVI, who sincerely want to re-unite with their Orthodox Brethren, but they are caught behind dogmas which prevent this. I'm sure if Pope Benedict XVI over a hundred years ago, he would never have let Vatican I (1870) slide through. But now that such dogmas as Papal Infallibility and the Papal ratification of the Synod of Orange (which wasn't Ecumenical, but WAS ratified by the Pope {was it Pope Vigilius?....can't remember}) are "set in stone", so to speak, all future Popes must work their way around such dogmas in order to achieve a rapprochement with the East.

There are some tricks of ecclesiastical sleight-of-hand that they can use to achieve this, however. Pope Benedict XVI can put out an ex cathedra Bull saying that the decisions of Vatican I were temporarily dispensational, i.e. it was necessary given the Church's then-present condition, but no longer needed in this age.

.....that would be weird: an ex cathedra statement to end all ex cathedra statements.  Reminds of that old Greek riddle: Everything I say is a lie...."I am lying"....'cepting that it would be the opposite in this case: Everything I say is the truth....."From now on, everything I say is not necessarily the truth."
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« Reply #107 on: May 26, 2005, 02:40:51 PM »

Quote
the Papal ratification of the Synod of Orange
What is wrong with the Synod of Orange? http://www.creeds.net/ancient/orange.htm
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« Reply #108 on: May 26, 2005, 02:44:52 PM »

What is wrong with the Synod of Orange?

Canons 3 through 7 pose immense problems to the Faith as understood in the East.
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« Reply #109 on: May 29, 2005, 02:14:19 PM »

What is wrong with these canons?
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« Reply #110 on: May 29, 2005, 04:43:53 PM »

Sabbas,

I'm wondering the same thing.

Canons 3-7 seem to simply be insisting on the recognition of "God's half" of the synergy equation.

I may be totally misunderstanding this, but it would seem to me that if anything, these canons sit quite well with the Orthodox Church's emphasis upon "apophatic theology", and that God is uncreated and being so, completely unlike the created order, and that in essence He is unknowable but known through His purposeful self revelation (via His energies.)  That would mean then, quite clearly I'd think, that no amount of cleverness will lead one to anything save an idol - his fantasies about a "god" or something "bigger than himself".  OTOH, the Scriptures teach that God gives light to sinners, that He knocks on the door of all men's hearts, etc. and that the real issue is how we respond to that quiet "rapping".  St.John's Gospel says that we are given "grace for grace" or "grace on top of grace" depending on what translation you read, meaning that we're ascending a ladder - with each ascending rung being the result of our cooperation with the grace/light we've been given.

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