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Author Topic: What is the OO View on RC Sacraments?  (Read 1541 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: August 17, 2011, 10:54:53 PM »

I know this isn't a case in point where the entire OO communion has reached a concensus. But how do the six OO holy sees individually view RC sacraments? Do we recognize their eucharist, priesthood, etc. or not?
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« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2011, 11:47:06 PM »

I know this isn't a case in point where the entire OO communion has reached a concensus. But how do the six OO holy sees individually view RC sacraments? Do we recognize their eucharist, priesthood, etc. or not?
In the Syriac Orthodox Church, we have permission to receive sacraments from the RC or Byzantine Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, where ever a Syriac Church does not exists.
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« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2011, 11:53:16 PM »

I know this isn't a case in point where the entire OO communion has reached a concensus. But how do the six OO holy sees individually view RC sacraments? Do we recognize their eucharist, priesthood, etc. or not?
In the Syriac Orthodox Church, we have permission to receive sacraments from the RC or Byzantine Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, where ever a Syriac Church does not exists.
I see... But if there were an OO parish around and you communed in an RC Church, would you be reprimanded?

Thanks for your input. Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2011, 06:06:35 PM »

I know this isn't a case in point where the entire OO communion has reached a concensus. But how do the six OO holy sees individually view RC sacraments? Do we recognize their eucharist, priesthood, etc. or not?
In the Syriac Orthodox Church, we have permission to receive sacraments from the RC or Byzantine Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, where ever a Syriac Church does not exists.
I see... But if there were an OO parish around and you communed in an RC Church, would you be reprimanded?

Thanks for your input. Smiley
Honestly I don't know the answer to that.
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« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2011, 06:09:39 PM »

if there were an OO parish around and you communed in an RC Church, would you be reprimanded?
Thanks for your input. Smiley
Honestly I don't know the answer to that.
I can try it out and let you know. I am in the US on an assignment and where I am, there is a coptic liturgy one week a month a syriac (malankara)) liturgy one week a month. There are RC and EO churches with liturgy every week and every feast day. May be next month when there is a coptic liturgy, I can skip that go to RC and then tell my priest and see how he responds Smiley I am just kidding, I am not going to try that.
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« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2011, 06:57:42 AM »

I would not receive the sacraments in a Roman Catholic church, even though, in an isolated situation, if the Catholic Church in question was traditional, I would attend for prayer and fellowship.

I would not consider it appropriate for an Orthodox to commune in a Catholic Church, even though attendance in an isolated situation for prayer and fellowship in a traditional congregation might well be acceptable.

I think that in many of these cases the relatively modern history of relations between Catholics and Orthodox need to be explored to come to an understanding of how inter-communion is viewed.

I have been trying to find information about the early Franciscan visitors to Egypt and whether they were communed, and also the Cotpic visitors to Rome and whether they were communed. There was certainly an openness towards Rome in the Middle Ages. Nevertheless, since then, there have been greater departures from Orthodox practice among the Catholics and these need to be resolved, it seems to me, before anything other than an exceptional inter-communion of laity is appropriate.

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« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2011, 07:04:14 AM »

^I agree. I really enjoy the more traditional Catholic Tridentine Mass and I would attend one if there were no Orthodox parish in my area. But I would not commune in a Catholic parish under any circumstance. The only time I might commune with them is if I were on my death bed and my Orthodox Spiritual Father insisted that I commune with them, in which case I would only be obeying my Priest, though I pray I am never in such a position.
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« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2011, 06:27:45 PM »

I know this isn't a case in point where the entire OO communion has reached a concensus. But how do the six OO holy sees individually view RC sacraments? Do we recognize their eucharist, priesthood, etc. or not?
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« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2011, 04:04:22 PM »

The various agreements between the Catholic and Coptic (and other Orthodox) show to me that there is certainly some sense in which there is a recognition of a mutual sacramental life, even if this might be considered partial and subject to some form of incoherence due to various theological and practical deficiencies which are considered to have developed in the Catholic communion.

Here are various statements signed by Popes of Rome and Alexandria and other primates which seem to me to describe a mutual recognition to some extent - such a mutual recognition is not the same as saying that there are no problems.

i. Pope Shenouda and Pope Paul VI. The divine life is given to us and is nourished in us through the seven sacraments of Christ in His Church: Baptism, Chrism (Confirmation), Holy Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Matrimony and Holy Orders.

This could only be said by Pope Shenouda if he agreed that there was some life-giving quality to the Catholic experience of the sacraments.

ii. Patriarch Mar Ignatius Jacob III and Pope Paul VI. The Pope and the Patriarch have recognized the deep spiritual communion, which already exists between their Churches. The celebration of the sacraments of the Lord, the common profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God made man for man's salvation, the apostolic traditions which form part of the common heritage of both Churches, the great Fathers and Doctors, including Saint Cyril of Alexandria, who are their common masters in the faith all these testify to the action of the Holy Spirit who has continued to work in their Churches even when there have been human weakness and failings.

This describes an understanding of a common celebration of the sacraments as an expression of communion even while the separate celebration of the sacraments is a sign of disunity.

iii. Patriarch Mar Ignatius Zakka I Iwas and Pope John Paul II. The other Sacraments, which the Catholic Church and the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch hold together in one and the same succession of Apostolic ministry, i.e. Holy Orders, Matrimony, Reconciliation of penitents and Anointing of the Sick, are ordered to that celebration of the holy Eucharist which is the centre of sacramental life and the chief visible expression of ecclesial communion. .... Since it is the chief expression of Christian unity between the faithful and between Bishops and priests, the Holy Eucharist cannot yet be concelebrated by us. Such celebration supposes a complete identity of faith such as does not yet exist between us.

This seems to me to indicate a sense in which it is possible to have a shared experience of sacramental life, while also understanding that the fulfillment of that sacramental life is found in a wider unity between the local Churches. As an expression of this understanding of sacramental sharing even in separation, the Syrian Church has a positive attitude to some limited pastoral mutual access to the sacraments.

It is not rare, in fact, for our faithful to find access to a priest of their own Church materially or morally impossible. Anxious to meet their needs and with their spiritual benefit in mind, we authorize them in such cases to ask for the sacraments of Penance, Eucharist and Anointing of the Sick from lawful priests of either of our two sister Churches, when they need them.

iv. The International Join Commission issues a document in 2009 (This includes members of the Orthodox Churches including Metropolitan Bishoy). The Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Catholic Church share the following constitutive elements of communion: they confess the Apostolic faith as lived in the Tradition and as expressed in the Holy Scriptures, the first three Ecumenical Councils (Nicaea 325 – Constantinople 381 – Ephesus 431) and the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed; they believe in Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word of God, the same being true God and true man at the same time; they venerate the Holy Virgin Mary as Mother of God (Theotokos); they celebrate the seven sacraments (baptism, confirmation/chrismation, Eucharist, penance/reconciliation, ordination, matrimony, and anointing of the sick); they consider baptism as essential for salvation; with regard to the Eucharist, they believe that bread and wine become the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ; they believe that the ordained ministry is transmitted through the bishops in apostolic succession; regarding the true nature of the Church, they confess together their belief in the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church”, according to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. 

The constant use of the word 'they' seems to me to indicate that the members of the commission were describing what is to be understood as a shared experience.

Therefore, as long as fundamental disagreements in matters of faith persist and the bonds of communion are not fully restored, celebrating together the one Eucharist of the Lord is not possible.

This seems to me to be suggesting that the Catholic Church does celebrate the Eucharist of the Lord, in some real sense, but that what is lacking is a 'celebrating together' because of the disagreement in matters of faith.

I think that these documents allow us to see that our fathers do accept a genuine sacramental nature to the Catholic Church, but that the experience of that sacramental nature is mediated through a condition of separation from the integrity of Orthodox Catholic Church and Faith (this is my own evaluation). Indeed we know that many of the early heterodoxies were received into Orthodoxy without baptism because their own baptisms were considered to be a real baptism even if in a condition or situation of defective unity with the communion of the Church and with the totality of the Faith.

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« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2011, 04:12:16 PM »

^Thank you for that very comprehensive answer, Father. So I suppose we can say that the RCC does have, to a degree, a grace-filled Eucharist, but that Rome's Eucharist ultimately lacks the fulness of grace found within Orthodoxy. So I suppose it would be appropriate to cross myself when passing an RC parish out of veneration for their Eucharist? This is what I do when I pass an Orthodox parish (whether EO or OO).
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« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2011, 04:32:38 PM »

Well my own opinion is that I have a respectful and positive relationship with many Catholics. I consider them Christian. I consider that their sacraments are gracious - even if not necessarily in the same degree as the Orthodox experience - but this is to do with the context in which they are experienced not because I think Orthodox Christians are better than Catholic Christians. But I have to believe that there are aspects of Catholicism which are in error, and that many important spiritual practices have been forgotten or even rejected over the centuries. This has a serious effect on the context in which the sacraments operate - I believe. But this is, to some extent, the same as in Orthodoxy, where a corruption of the Church, through various effects, leads to some effect on the sacramental nature of the Church.

This is not relativism, because I am committed entirely to the Orthodox Faith and Tradition, but I am aware of the reality in which that Faith and Tradition is lived out in our own times. So I wish to be generous rather than liberal.

When I read of, for instance, the English martyrs who were tortured to death rather than abandon their Catholic Faith, I cannot help but be moved and find many connections between their faithfulness to death, and that of the early Christian martyrs. When I read about some of the great Catholic saints, I cannot but have some sense that in a situation where they could not easily, if at all, become Orthodox, they sought to live an heroic Christian life in the context in which God placed them.

This is not relativism, but it is in some sense a recognition that we are people who must respond to the Gospel in the situation in which we find ourselves. And it may be that in some sense (in general rather than in particular) there is a more coherent experience of the Grace of God in the sacramental life of Orthodox than in the sacramental life of Catholics, separated as they are from the integrity of the Faith and Tradition of the Church.

It would be my own practice to show respect in a Catholic place of worship. We are not honouring Catholics, but honouring God and respecting the intent of Catholic Christians to worship God. And although there are serious issues which remain to be resolved between Orthodox and Catholics, they are not so many and of such magnitude that we cannot say that we still share much of the same substance of Faith and spirituality, especially in regard to traditional Catholicism.

When the Pope of Rome came to England it was a national Christian event, and the Orthodox bishops were present at all the events, including the papal mass, in which they were given a place of honour beside the altar. Orthodox were glad, with their Catholic brethren, not least because a renewal and revitalisation of Catholicism in the UK helps Orthodoxy since it promotes what is still a traditional Catholic faith with much in common with Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2011, 06:40:54 AM »

Well my own opinion is that I have a respectful and positive relationship with many Catholics. I consider them Christian. I consider that their sacraments are gracious - even if not necessarily in the same degree as the Orthodox experience - but this is to do with the context in which they are experienced not because I think Orthodox Christians are better than Catholic Christians. But I have to believe that there are aspects of Catholicism which are in error, and that many important spiritual practices have been forgotten or even rejected over the centuries. This has a serious effect on the context in which the sacraments operate - I believe. But this is, to some extent, the same as in Orthodoxy, where a corruption of the Church, through various effects, leads to some effect on the sacramental nature of the Church.

This is not relativism, because I am committed entirely to the Orthodox Faith and Tradition, but I am aware of the reality in which that Faith and Tradition is lived out in our own times. So I wish to be generous rather than liberal.

When I read of, for instance, the English martyrs who were tortured to death rather than abandon their Catholic Faith, I cannot help but be moved and find many connections between their faithfulness to death, and that of the early Christian martyrs. When I read about some of the great Catholic saints, I cannot but have some sense that in a situation where they could not easily, if at all, become Orthodox, they sought to live an heroic Christian life in the context in which God placed them.

This is not relativism, but it is in some sense a recognition that we are people who must respond to the Gospel in the situation in which we find ourselves. And it may be that in some sense (in general rather than in particular) there is a more coherent experience of the Grace of God in the sacramental life of Orthodox than in the sacramental life of Catholics, separated as they are from the integrity of the Faith and Tradition of the Church.

It would be my own practice to show respect in a Catholic place of worship. We are not honouring Catholics, but honouring God and respecting the intent of Catholic Christians to worship God. And although there are serious issues which remain to be resolved between Orthodox and Catholics, they are not so many and of such magnitude that we cannot say that we still share much of the same substance of Faith and spirituality, especially in regard to traditional Catholicism.

When the Pope of Rome came to England it was a national Christian event, and the Orthodox bishops were present at all the events, including the papal mass, in which they were given a place of honour beside the altar. Orthodox were glad, with their Catholic brethren, not least because a renewal and revitalisation of Catholicism in the UK helps Orthodoxy since it promotes what is still a traditional Catholic faith with much in common with Orthodoxy.

Hello Fr Peter

Could you go in to a bit more detail on this point please? I am not sure what is meant by it.

I consider that their sacraments are gracious - even if not necessarily in the same degree as the Orthodox experience - but this is to do with the context in which they are experienced not because I think Orthodox Christians are better than Catholic Christians
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« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2011, 12:43:59 PM »

I suppose I mean that God gives Himself to us graciously and freely but our reception of grace is mediated through circumstances, the state of our life, and the measure of our faith.

In the Catholic context I would have to say that the profession of what we consider to be error must have an effect on the reception of grace, and the adoption of what we would consider to be heterodox spiritualities and the rejection of aspects of Orthodox spirituality must also have an effect.

I am not making any sort of definitive or dogmatic statement, just suggesting that the heterodox nature of Catholicism from the Orthodox point of view must have an effect on the experience of grace. This is not to absolutely deny that God gives Himself, or that He can be experienced as life and life-giving in the Catholic communion, but that the fulness of that life is compromised and has been compromised.

Are there heroic souls who have overcome that compromise by holding on to an essentially Orthodox Tradition within Catholicism - perhaps. But in a general, and to take an example, the almost complete abandonment of fasting must have an effect on the reception of grace.
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« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2013, 05:43:08 AM »

^Thank you for that very comprehensive answer, Father. So I suppose we can say that the RCC does have, to a degree, a grace-filled Eucharist, but that Rome's Eucharist ultimately lacks the fulness of grace found within Orthodoxy. So I suppose it would be appropriate to cross myself when passing an RC parish out of veneration for their Eucharist? This is what I do when I pass an Orthodox parish (whether EO or OO).


That makes no sense. The R.C Eucharist is grace filled but lacks fullness of grace? Can you receive half of Christ? You either receive Christ or you don't in the sacrament. There is no partial mysteries. 
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« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2013, 06:17:42 AM »

Lol. This is a pretty old thread to resurrect.

I think I generally stand by what I said. In regards to grace, God may well give himself to us, but our own condition certainly has an effect on our reception of that grace, and the extent to which we are enlivened by it. This is so on the personal level for Orthodox Christians, for each of us.

But I think it has meaning on a corporate level as well. In my Plymouth Brethren background we absolutely insisted that the bread and wine we set on the table in our midst remained only bread and wine, and was a remembrance of the death of Christ and nothing more. In such circumstances it is impossible (as well as for other reasons) to consider that this shadow of the eucharist could be grace-filled. Yet even so, perhaps to the heart which was seeking after nourishment it could even be a means of receiving some grace. But as a practice it was deeply harmed and undermined by the doctrinal views which surrounded it.

To some extent I think this applies to some aspects of Catholic practice. There is not really any practice of fasting such as Orthodoxy has preserved, but this is being addressed very seriously and the situation may well improve. I believed in 2011 that a Church which had essentially abandoned even the eucharistic fast must find an effect made on the eucharist. The means of grace must be undermined to some extent. I still believe that. The use of modern, essentially evangelical worship in some places. The priest facing the people and not the altar. Baptism not generally being by immersion. And other things. I did and do feel that to some extent these operate against the sacrament of the eucharist.

Our Coptic position is rather incoherent at the moment and I know it is being considered at the moment. This will be good. But it seems reasonable to consider that the Catholic eucharist is a sacrament but is not entirely and always what it could be. This is not a criticism I make only against the Catholic community. In all those places where the liturgy has become a performance among us, or where service at the altar is considered either a chore, or a right, and where non-Orthodox views are held, in all those places the sacrament is also subverted.

"He came unto His own, and His own did not receive Him"

This is always the danger. He comes, but do we receive Him for various reasons.
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« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2013, 02:00:38 AM »

Father Peter,

Your blessing.

Were it not for the resurrection of this topic, I might not have read your posts regarding the subject.  Thank you for explaining your view, based on the various common statements made between our Churches and the RCC.  Based on those same statements as a starting point, I've believed what you've expressed, but without knowing quite how to explain it: it seemed to me that you either had to say the RCC was an Orthodox Church with which we weren't in communion or that they were cut off from the Church completely, without sacraments, etc. 

But describing it as a matter of the differences in faith and practice negatively affecting the context in which they experience grace makes sense, and helps me account for my own "gut feeling" that, when Catholics are actually doing the right things, they're probably experiencing the right things, and when they are not doing it right, it's just not right.  There's a real difference, for example, in how Eastern Catholics and traditional Roman Catholics live out their faith versus their more typical or even liberal expressions...at least I believe it.  And even before the common statements of the 1970's and beyond, ISTM that the Syriac Churches treated RC's the same as EO's, lumping them both under the Chalcedonian rubric.   

The differences in faith need to be addressed and ultimately corrected in order for our fellowship to be full and our joy complete, but that need not prevent the recognition of the good and true elements that are already there and have been maintained through the centuries of our separation. 

Thanks for your contribution, and it's good to see you back. 
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« Reply #16 on: July 26, 2013, 04:06:28 AM »

Lol. This is a pretty old thread to resurrect. 

Forgive me,



"He came unto His own, and His own did not receive Him"

This is always the danger. He comes, but do we receive Him for various reasons.

I totally understand what you are trying to say Fr. Peter. Preparation is key, but that does not diminish from the grace of the Mystery. For example, Judith partook of Christ's body for his condemnation.  Even though he was not prepared for it because of his evil deeds, the Mystery was still grace filled but acted to his condemnation.
The good Apostle St. Paul said "Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord."(1 Corinthians 11:27).


Would it be fair to say that the R.C mysteries are full of Grace but the way the Catholics approach the mystery is not edifying?

Forgive me for my ignorance.


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« Reply #17 on: July 26, 2013, 08:56:07 AM »

Does the OO believe that the body and blood of Jesus Christ is present in the RC Holy Communion?

And not trying to sound argumentative, I really wish to k ow the answer to this question.

Thank you in advance.
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« Reply #18 on: July 26, 2013, 11:35:43 AM »

Does the OO believe that the body and blood of Jesus Christ is present in the RC Holy Communion?


Given the types of "common statements" made between the heads of the various OO Churches and the Vatican, it would seem that we do believe this.  For instance, the agreement between the Syrians and the Vatican allows for intercommunion in certain "emergency" situations other than "hour of one's death", and I don't think the Syrians would do that if they thought the RC sacraments were not somehow "of the Church" and therefore the body and blood of Christ.  And it's not totally unheard of, even before Vatican II and the modern ecumenical movement.  I wish I could find the citation, but during World War II, I read that Pope Pius XII asked the Orthodox Church in India to sacramentally and pastorally assist Catholic soldiers who had no access to Catholic chaplains, but only to Orthodox or Anglican chaplains, and that was allowed.   

But all that brings me to a question I forgot to ask in my last post to Fr Peter.  All of the OO-RC agreements have been between the individual Churches and Rome, not as a communion of Churches.  And beyond the common Christological agreements, some go farther than others in what is allowed.  I understand that our Churches, though in communion, have largely been independent, but would it not have been better if we all committed ourselves to agree with Rome only on what we all agree on about Rome, and debate among ourselves whether our common faith recognises the sacraments of the Roman Catholics before individually affirming such (and the same would go for other issues)?  In one sense, they are simply the Western Roman Patriarchate that parted ways with us along with the Eastern Roman Patriarchate, and so we might be able to treat them as we do the EO.  But on the other hand, there is clearly a difference between those two bodies.  And we don't lump Anglicans, Lutherans, and others that parted from RCism as "Chalcedonians" in this same sense due to the divergences in faith and practice, so why does the Church of Rome get a pass?  I don't necessarily disagree, but I think we need to spell this out and make sure that we are consistent with our faith and not simply jumping the gun here and there.  Common statements like that between Rome and Antioch are abused, wrongly interpreted, and sometimes even become a weapon used against fellow Orthodox.  It would be much better to "get our story straight", so to speak, rather than get caught up in inconsistencies.     

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Intercede for us, that our forum may be saved.


Mor Ephrem > Justin Kissel
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