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Author Topic: Is this the biggest obstacle to unity?  (Read 13268 times) Average Rating: 0
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spiros
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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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Jack
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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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Elisha
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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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Jack
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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 »

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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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