I have a few questions for the Byzantine Catholics on this forum. This is not a loyalty test. I am not interested in that stuff right now. I'm just trying to understand Byzantine Catholicism better. Probably because, while I am very Thomistic Latin, I absolutely love attending Byzantine Liturgy, and during Lent I ususally attend verspers and the Liturgy of the Presanctified on Friday evenings. Something about that Byzantine parish has always had quite a draw for me. Thus, I want to know more about how Byzantine Catholics understand the faith, and because this is an Orthodox forum, I would like to know more about how the Byzantine Catholics on this forum relate to Eastern Orthodox Christians.
First, how you understand your ecclesial position withe regard to both Eastern Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics?
Second, how is your experience of the Catholic faith different than that of Roman Catholics?
Third, as a Byzantine Catholic, do you believe in Original Sin, the Immaculate Conception, Purgatory, Transubstantiation, the Universal Jurisdiction of the Pope, and the Infallibility of the Pope?
If you don't believe in these things, do you think that Roman Catholics are in heresy or error?
Fourth, do you see yourself as closer in faith and religious praxis to the Orthodox, than you do the Roman Catholics?
Fifth, if you are a Byzantine Catholic who was once a Roman Catholic, what has changed about the experience of your faith since you have switched to an Eastern Church?
Let me start by saying that my experience may be somewhat different from the usual ByzCath in that I came to Christianity from a secular Jewish background relatively late in life (about age 49) and hence whatever baggage I brought with me will be of an entirely different order than that of someone raised in a Christian church, more specifically either the Byzantine or Roman Catholic Church.
My experience may also be somewhat different in that while I was baptized, etc. into the ByzCath Church and remain canonically Byzantine, I've spent more years worshiping in and being a member of a Roman Catholic parish than a Byzantine one. I also spent several years in the Orthodox Church and then returned to Catholicism.
Now to your questions....
1. I'm not entirely sure what you mean by ecclesial position, but I'll take a stab at it anyway. I am a member of the Body of Christ. I am a member of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. My *opinion*
, for which I've taken some heat on this board, is that the Orthodox Church is also a part of that same One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church and I feel that our separation, the schism, is sinful and the perpetuation of it equally so. Sometimes I feel more strongly about this, sometimes less so. And sometimes I think I may be gradually coming to think of us as "irreconcilable" and that saddens me enormously. But then I remember that with God, all things are possible! As for Roman Catholics, that's easy! They are my brothers and sisters in Christ and we are part and parcel of the same Church. I feel equally at home in a Roman Catholic church as I do in a Byzantine--sometimes even more so. Unlike some ByzCaths, because of my background and lack of attachments and prejudices about a particular "version" of Catholicism, I don't particularly lament the so-called "Latinizations" that have occurred. Sorry to be so verbose! And vague.
2. I don't know if a life-long ByzCath would be able to answer that. In fact, I would venture to guess that *any* Catholic you would ask might have a slightly different answer than any other Catholic, of whatever persuasion. Maybe I'm just not certain either what you mean by "your experience of the Catholic faith", or how I would express an answer that would make sense. Sorry...
3. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes--though I won't pretend that I understand all of those as deeply or thoroughly as others, or as deeply as I would wish to. I am aware, however, that there may be some Byzantine Catholics who might hedge their bets about some of those, or would, perhaps use slightly different language to express the same things.
4. My *faith* is Catholic
--in almost all ways very close to Orthodoxy (I know some of my Orthodox brothers and sisters will take issue with that, but that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it
!) My public praxis, given that my wife and I worship in a Roman Catholic parish, is Roman Catholic. My private praxis is a mixture of East and West, and I have no problem with that at all. (And no, I'm *not* schizophrenic
Hope that helps some.
I'm very interested to read replies from other Byzantine Catholics here!