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Author Topic: Orthodox-Catholic Reunification - a few proposals  (Read 5453 times) Average Rating: 0
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Surnaturel
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« on: May 21, 2013, 12:38:51 AM »

I would like to examine the role of the papacy in an Orthodox-Catholic Church. First, as a professor, Ratzinger (now pope emeritus Benedict XVI) suggested that the centralization of power in the Latin Church could be broken up into patriarchates for large countries or continents. These patriarchs would be subject to conciliar and dogmatic decree but would have a far greater degree of autonomy. It seems to me that this project would be incredibly useful in a potential reunification. This aligns with his decision to strike 'Patriarch of the West' from the papal yearbook of the Orthodox since he envisioned multiple patriarchs in the West.

The pope would head a Latin synod on jurisdictional issues that pertain to these Latin patriarchs in which collegiality is practiced by vote with the pope's vote being the 'tie breaker' in the event of a dead lock. The pope would continue to have full autonomy and jurisdictional primacy without resort to a synod in his own designated areas (prob all of Western Europe, for one).

A specific Patriarch Synod, then, could be called exclusively for East/West patriarchs to discuss matters of jurisdiction and morality and just as the pope, historically, was sought at times to settle such disputes under the united first millennium Church, he would now exercise this historic role as the deciding vote in a dead lock among the patriarchs.

In the tentative East/West Ecumenical Council, presided over by the pope as a specific exercise of his primas inter pares, will concede not to issue infallible dogmas ex Cathedra without the consent of his peers. This would not be construed as an intrinsic inability to do so, for Catholics anyways, but a concession in the service of love and unity. Ths display of humility and service of God to the Church would affirm the proper charism and duty of the pope as primus inter pares and head of the college.

There's a lot more that I could add but I will refrain and just leave this comment:

Whether we, Catholics and Orthodox, like it or not it is essential for the sake of the Church that the East and West reunite. The message and mission of all Christians is called into question straightaway since our witness is to be united in Christ by love and we cannot even accomplish that as the Apostolic Church(es). The dictstorship of secularism in the West and the proliferation of atheism and Islam in the East can only be effectively combated if we stand as one visible body of Christ.
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« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2013, 12:47:38 AM »

All the apostles were given equal authority by Christ, not just one. The collegiality you are proposing is a false and incomplete collegiality, and no Orthodox, layman or cleric, worth his salt would accept your model.
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Surnaturel
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« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2013, 01:03:18 AM »

All the apostles were given equal authority by Christ, not just one. The collegiality you are proposing is a false and incomplete collegiality, and no Orthodox, layman or cleric, worth his salt would accept your model.
Interesting. In this proposal, the pope is equal to his brother bishops. He would have no jurisdiction over an autocephalous church which should allieve the Orthodox concern of papal overreach. The only special duty as primus inter pares, which has historical footing, would be these two things: a) in the unlikely event of a straight tie in a patriarch vote on jurisdictional issues (supposing that a patriarch council to settle jurisdictional issues would be established) the patriarch of Rome would be a deciding vote and b) he would preside over the council but of course be subject to the conciliar rulings regardless of his opinion on them.

Can you elaborate some more? I am sincerely interested in the particular details you disagree with.
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« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2013, 01:12:50 AM »

All the apostles were given equal authority by Christ, not just one. The collegiality you are proposing is a false and incomplete collegiality, and no Orthodox, layman or cleric, worth his salt would accept your model.
Interesting. In this proposal, the pope is equal to his brother bishops. He would have no jurisdiction over an autocephalous church which should allieve the Orthodox concern of papal overreach. The only special duty as primus inter pares, which has historical footing, would be these two things: a) in the unlikely event of a straight tie in a patriarch vote on jurisdictional issues (supposing that a patriarch council to settle jurisdictional issues would be established) the patriarch of Rome would be a deciding vote and b) he would preside over the council but of course be subject to the conciliar rulings regardless of his opinion on them.

Can you elaborate some more? I am sincerely interested in the particular details you disagree with.

This is perhaps the most egregious element of your proposal so far:

In the tentative East/West Ecumenical Council, presided over by the pope as a specific exercise of his primas inter pares, will concede not to issue infallible dogmas ex Cathedra without the consent of his peers.

It is presumptuous to assume that a Roman patriarch will automatically be appointed primus inter pares. The doctrinal and dogmatic divergences which have separated the church of Rome from the Orthodox over the past millennium should disqualify him from this honor. This honor is not beholden to simple geographic location.
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« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2013, 01:15:07 AM »

1) These Patriarch Councils you speak of, I assume only constituted by the various Primates, don't seem consistent with the traditional Councils/Synods constituted by bishops (not just primates).

2) I don't think any Orthodox could accept papal infallibility, even if he chose to forego it without consent of his peers.

3) The Bishop of Rome would have to relinquish claims of universal jurisdiction, which I don't believe would be agreeable to many Catholics.
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Surnaturel
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« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2013, 01:22:28 AM »

All the apostles were given equal authority by Christ, not just one. The collegiality you are proposing is a false and incomplete collegiality, and no Orthodox, layman or cleric, worth his salt would accept your model.
Interesting. In this proposal, the pope is equal to his brother bishops. He would have no jurisdiction over an autocephalous church which should allieve the Orthodox concern of papal overreach. The only special duty as primus inter pares, which has historical footing, would be these two things: a) in the unlikely event of a straight tie in a patriarch vote on jurisdictional issues (supposing that a patriarch council to settle jurisdictional issues would be established) the patriarch of Rome would be a deciding vote and b) he would preside over the council but of course be subject to the conciliar rulings regardless of his opinion on them.

Can you elaborate some more? I am sincerely interested in the particular details you disagree with.

This is perhaps the most egregious element of your proposal so far:

In the tentative East/West Ecumenical Council, presided over by the pope as a specific exercise of his primas inter pares, will concede not to issue infallible dogmas ex Cathedra without the consent of his peers.

It is presumptuous to assume that a Roman patriarch will automatically be appointed primus inter pares. The doctrinal and dogmatic divergences which have separated the church of Rome from the Orthodox over the past millennium should disqualify him from this honor. This honor is not beholden to simple geographic location.
The honor is due to the bishop of Rome in a united Church. It is historically and traditionally his honor as Joint Theological Commissions between Orthodox and Catholic have affirmed. This is the least controversial point for every Orthodox theologian I have read, who comes to mind is Olivier Clement. I can find other EO theologians though who have said as much. Reunion with Rome supposes a restoration of Rome as exercising a primacy of honor (not jurisdiction) in the Church. And I think the humility demonstrated by dividing the Catholic Church into patriarchs and exercising infallibility only as the mouthpiece of the council, not to mention the charitable services which Rome still today performs globally.
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« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2013, 01:34:32 AM »

All the apostles were given equal authority by Christ, not just one. The collegiality you are proposing is a false and incomplete collegiality, and no Orthodox, layman or cleric, worth his salt would accept your model.
Interesting. In this proposal, the pope is equal to his brother bishops. He would have no jurisdiction over an autocephalous church which should allieve the Orthodox concern of papal overreach. The only special duty as primus inter pares, which has historical footing, would be these two things: a) in the unlikely event of a straight tie in a patriarch vote on jurisdictional issues (supposing that a patriarch council to settle jurisdictional issues would be established) the patriarch of Rome would be a deciding vote and b) he would preside over the council but of course be subject to the conciliar rulings regardless of his opinion on them.

Can you elaborate some more? I am sincerely interested in the particular details you disagree with.

This is perhaps the most egregious element of your proposal so far:

In the tentative East/West Ecumenical Council, presided over by the pope as a specific exercise of his primas inter pares, will concede not to issue infallible dogmas ex Cathedra without the consent of his peers.

It is presumptuous to assume that a Roman patriarch will automatically be appointed primus inter pares. The doctrinal and dogmatic divergences which have separated the church of Rome from the Orthodox over the past millennium should disqualify him from this honor. This honor is not beholden to simple geographic location.
The honor is due to the bishop of Rome in a united Church. It is historically and traditionally his honor as Joint Theological Commissions between Orthodox and Catholic have affirmed. This is the least controversial point for every Orthodox theologian I have read, who comes to mind is Olivier Clement. I can find other EO theologians though who have said as much. Reunion with Rome supposes a restoration of Rome as exercising a primacy of honor (not jurisdiction) in the Church. And I think the humility demonstrated by dividing the Catholic Church into patriarchs and exercising infallibility only as the mouthpiece of the council, not to mention the charitable services which Rome still today performs globally.

You're ignoring (or not taking into account) the serious and widespread doctrinal and dogmatic differences between the churches. The opinions of a small handful of present-day "theologians" don't matter a hill of beans if Orthodox doctrine, dogma and theology is to be compromised in any reunion.
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Surnaturel
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« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2013, 01:38:38 AM »

1) These Patriarch Councils you speak of, I assume only constituted by the various Primates, don't seem consistent with the traditional Councils/Synods constituted by bishops (not just primates).

2) I don't think any Orthodox could accept papal infallibility, even if he chose to forego it without consent of his peers.

3) The Bishop of Rome would have to relinquish claims of universal jurisdiction, which I don't believe would be agreeable to many Catholics.
Thank you for your response. Yes, the 'patriarch' council was merely a proposal of mine; I wasn't sure who was included in jurisdictional disputes, and I know that some patriarchs exercise more jurisdictional authority (centralized) than others. Furthermore, I know that the pope was at times called upon to intervene in such manners but only upon the urgence of other churches.

As for the second point, the EO would not have to accept papal infallibility since it would never be exercised apart from the council. Conversely, though, the issue would have to be left at that as in EO and RC would agree to leave the issue at that: one doesn't accept it (EO) and the other doesn't renounce it (RC) but in the future church it will be agreed that the only infallible teachings will be that of ecumenical councils. This would by far be the most controversial for RCs.

3) Universal jurisdiction I don't believe would be that problematic. All the ecumenic conferences I have been to have pretty much settled that Rome has its own jurisdiction and will not impose itself on autocephalous churches and vice versa.
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Surnaturel
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« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2013, 01:41:20 AM »

All the apostles were given equal authority by Christ, not just one. The collegiality you are proposing is a false and incomplete collegiality, and no Orthodox, layman or cleric, worth his salt would accept your model.
Interesting. In this proposal, the pope is equal to his brother bishops. He would have no jurisdiction over an autocephalous church which should allieve the Orthodox concern of papal overreach. The only special duty as primus inter pares, which has historical footing, would be these two things: a) in the unlikely event of a straight tie in a patriarch vote on jurisdictional issues (supposing that a patriarch council to settle jurisdictional issues would be established) the patriarch of Rome would be a deciding vote and b) he would preside over the council but of course be subject to the conciliar rulings regardless of his opinion on them.

Can you elaborate some more? I am sincerely interested in the particular details you disagree with.

This is perhaps the most egregious element of your proposal so far:

In the tentative East/West Ecumenical Council, presided over by the pope as a specific exercise of his primas inter pares, will concede not to issue infallible dogmas ex Cathedra without the consent of his peers.

It is presumptuous to assume that a Roman patriarch will automatically be appointed primus inter pares. The doctrinal and dogmatic divergences which have separated the church of Rome from the Orthodox over the past millennium should disqualify him from this honor. This honor is not beholden to simple geographic location.
The honor is due to the bishop of Rome in a united Church. It is historically and traditionally his honor as Joint Theological Commissions between Orthodox and Catholic have affirmed. This is the least controversial point for every Orthodox theologian I have read, who comes to mind is Olivier Clement. I can find other EO theologians though who have said as much. Reunion with Rome supposes a restoration of Rome as exercising a primacy of honor (not jurisdiction) in the Church. And I think the humility demonstrated by dividing the Catholic Church into patriarchs and exercising infallibility only as the mouthpiece of the council, not to mention the charitable services which Rome still today performs globally.

You're ignoring (or not taking into account) the serious and widespread doctrinal and dogmatic differences between the churches. The opinions of a small handful of present-day "theologians" don't matter a hill of beans if Orthodox doctrine, dogma and theology is to be compromised in any reunion.
Since we are just talking about primus inter pares, it seems that dogmatically when Rome is in communion with EO then its role is primus inter pares and Constantinople is second honor per the Ecumenical Councils.
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« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2013, 01:44:30 AM »

In the tentative East/West Ecumenical Council, presided over by the pope as a specific exercise of his primas inter pares, will concede not to issue infallible dogmas ex Cathedra without the consent of his peers. This would not be construed as an intrinsic inability to do so, for Catholics anyways, but a concession in the service of love and unity. Ths display of humility and service of God to the Church would affirm the proper charism and duty of the pope as primus inter pares and head of the college.

This is, of course, most problematic, as we do not believe that the pope has such powers, even by virtue of his hypothetical place as primus inter pares (otherwise we would believe that the bishop of Constantinople holds this power). Furthermore, this proposal amounts to nothing more than pretending not to disagree, even though we do disagree. It's somewhat like the opposite of another proposal put forth by some (many of them Orthodox Christians!), who naively think that the issue of papal infallibility could be solved by making all ex cathedra statements and second millennium developments of the Latin Church binding only on Latins.

Whether we, Catholics and Orthodox, like it or not it is essential for the sake of the Church that the East and West reunite. The message and mission of all Christians is called into question straightaway since our witness is to be united in Christ by love and we cannot even accomplish that as the Apostolic Church(es). The dictstorship of secularism in the West and the proliferation of atheism and Islam in the East can only be effectively combated if we stand as one visible body of Christ.

But union cannot come at the cost of the orthodoxy of our faith, no matter how pressing the circumstances.
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Surnaturel
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« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2013, 01:55:57 AM »

In the tentative East/West Ecumenical Council, presided over by the pope as a specific exercise of his primas inter pares, will concede not to issue infallible dogmas ex Cathedra without the consent of his peers. This would not be construed as an intrinsic inability to do so, for Catholics anyways, but a concession in the service of love and unity. Ths display of humility and service of God to the Church would affirm the proper charism and duty of the pope as primus inter pares and head of the college.

This is, of course, most problematic, as we do not believe that the pope has such powers, even by virtue of his hypothetical place as primus inter pares (otherwise we would believe that the bishop of Constantinople holds this power). Furthermore, this proposal amounts to nothing more than pretending not to disagree, even though we do disagree. It's somewhat like the opposite of another proposal put forth by some (many of them Orthodox Christians!), who naively think that the issue of papal infallibility could be solved by making all ex cathedra statements and second millennium developments of the Latin Church binding only on Latins.
I understand your concerns. It's not pretending to disagree, IMO, its acknoedging a disagreement and resolving it for the sake of unity. I do, however, think that a reconciliation where the pope abdicates his use of ex Cathedra in a united Church is sufficient since the issue would for the most part be resolved. Infallibility would no longer be an issue since it would never be exercised, regardless if one thinks such an action is even possible. This would rub many RCs quite violently, but I believe that if both sides cannot agree to this then reunification may have to wait until heaven, sadly.

Whether we, Catholics and Orthodox, like it or not it is essential for the sake of the Church that the East and West reunite. The message and mission of all Christians is called into question straightaway since our witness is to be united in Christ by love and we cannot even accomplish that as the Apostolic Church(es). The dictstorship of secularism in the West and the proliferation of atheism and Islam in the East can only be effectively combated if we stand as one visible body of Christ.

But union cannot come at the cost of the orthodoxy of our faith, no matter how pressing the circumstances.
[/quote]I understand and I agree. Defining what constitutes orthodoxy for both of our Churches is another matter though.

Are the letters that have been approved by synods considered dogmatic? Like Palamos' theology? Would you expect a Catholic to follow the non-ecumenical but seemingly authoritative doctrines?
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« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2013, 02:03:57 AM »

Quote
I understand and I agree. Defining what constitutes orthodoxy for both of our Churches is another matter though.

Are the letters that have been approved by synods considered dogmatic? Like Palamos' theology? Would you expect a Catholic to follow the non-ecumenical but seemingly authoritative doctrines?

The surest, clearest, and most accessible sources of Orthodox teachings is found in the liturgical hymns and prayers, and in proper, canonical iconography. These two are the distillation, core and essence of scriptural, conciliar, and patristic traditions.

It bears repeating that if one were to spend a year attending every Orthodox service possible (particularly Vespers, Matins and the Divine Liturgy), and keeping one's eyes and ears open, one would learn practically all one needs to know about the faith.
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Surnaturel
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« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2013, 02:14:32 AM »

Quote
I understand and I agree. Defining what constitutes orthodoxy for both of our Churches is another matter though.

Are the letters that have been approved by synods considered dogmatic? Like Palamos' theology? Would you expect a Catholic to follow the non-ecumenical but seemingly authoritative doctrines?

The surest, clearest, and most accessible sources of Orthodox teachings is found in the liturgical hymns and prayers, and in proper, canonical iconography. These two are the distillation, core and essence of scriptural, conciliar, and patristic traditions.

It bears repeating that if one were to spend a year attending every Orthodox service possible (particularly Vespers, Matins and the Divine Liturgy), and keeping one's eyes and ears open, one would learn practically all one needs to know about the faith.
That may be true but I was curious from a dogmatic standpoint how say Palamos theology functions. Is it binding for the EO churches to teach say divine energies? Do Western Rite Orthodox teach different forms of spirituality than EO?
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« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2013, 02:14:50 AM »

I understand and I agree. Defining what constitutes orthodoxy for both of our Churches is another matter though.

Is it just me or does the first sentence contradict the second one? You understand, but you also think that defining what constitutes Orthodoxy is somehow up for discussion/debate, and that there might be differences in what constitutes Orthodoxy for the Latin Church compared to the Eastern? I do not think you're likely to get far in discussion with the Orthodox if you actually think these things, so I hope I'm misreading you here.
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« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2013, 02:19:34 AM »

I understand and I agree. Defining what constitutes orthodoxy for both of our Churches is another matter though.

Is it just me or does the first sentence contradict the second one? You understand, but you also think that defining what constitutes Orthodoxy is somehow up for discussion/debate, and that there might be differences in what constitutes Orthodoxy for the Latin Church compared to the Eastern? I do not think you're likely to get far in discussion with the Orthodox if you actually think these things, so I hope I'm misreading you here.
It seems that it may be more nuanced than that. For example, is it against Orthodoxy to be in communion with Rome if she said that infallibility is only exercised by the college of bishops in an ecumenical council in the future united Church while not renouncing exercises of infallibility during schism? This is why I said that really intricate matters like this do not appear to be clearly defined nor even discussed yet. I hope that clarifies.
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« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2013, 02:22:21 AM »

That may be true but I was curious from a dogmatic standpoint how say Palamos theology functions. Is it binding for the EO churches to teach say divine energies?
Transcendant realities were expressed in various legitimate ways before (and after?) St. Gregory Palamas without using the essence-energies concept. I suppose one could still affirm the underlying beliefs without explaining them with the essence-energies distinction, like the OO seem to do AFAIK, and I don't think it would be problematic.

Although others may have qualifications to add, or disagree.
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« Reply #16 on: May 21, 2013, 02:29:23 AM »

That may be true but I was curious from a dogmatic standpoint how say Palamos theology functions. Is it binding for the EO churches to teach say divine energies?
Transcendant realities were expressed in various legitimate ways before (and after?) St. Gregory Palamas without using the essence-energies concept. I suppose one could still affirm the underlying beliefs without explaining them with the essence-energies distinction, like the OO seem to do AFAIK, and I don't think it would be problematic.

Although others may have qualifications to add, or disagree.
Thank you, brother. There is a difference between RC and EO on a related theologic belief which is why I ask. I am thinking of the beatific vision. In the West we believe that we will see God in his essence but since his essence is infinite and inexhaustible then an epekstasis is possible. In the East, as I understand it, the participation is said to be in the divine energy since it would be impossible to comprehend the Divine essence. Just to note, the West, like St. Thomas, says that the essence of God can never be fully comprehended but infinitely explored without being exhausted. So the two positions are not world apart but they are different.
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« Reply #17 on: May 21, 2013, 03:27:05 AM »

To the original poster -- welcome to our forums!

I appreciate your sincere yearning for Christian unity in an increasingly anti-Christian world. I think you have brought about a lively, productive conversation, even if it will most likely produce only a better understanding of the other side.

It's not pretending to disagree, IMO, its acknoedging a disagreement and resolving it for the sake of unity. I do, however, think that a reconciliation where the pope abdicates his use of ex Cathedra in a united Church is sufficient since the issue would for the most part be resolved. Infallibility would no longer be an issue since it would never be exercised, regardless if one thinks such an action is even possible. This would rub many RCs quite violently, but I believe that if both sides cannot agree to this then reunification may have to wait until heaven, sadly.

I think it's a lot more complicated than the pope just agreeing to never use his infallibility ever again. As other posters have stated, we Orthodox do not believe that the pope had such powers to begin with. Forgive me if I misunderstand, but in your model, the pope would essentially agree to a "demotion" for the sake of union. But the Orthodox would not want a mere relinquishing of powers; we would want a real consensus as to what power the Bishop of Rome has (i.e. nothing beyond the power of any other bishop); we would not accept his willful surrender of powers we do not think he had in the first place.

It would be very convenient if we could just restore everything to the collegial system we had pre-Schism, but our Churches have grown far apart, and only one can be in the right. For the sake of argument, let's say that the Orthodox Church has always been correct in all matters of faith and ecclesiology; the bishop of Rome was the "first among peers" only in the sense that he held the position of honor that H.H. Patriarch Bartholemew holds today. We would not simply demand that the pope voluntarily refuse to use the powers that his office enjoyed post-Schism; we would demand that the pope admit to the error of his predecessors. Do you see the difference? Your model is the pope "being nice" for the sake of enticing the Orthodox Church back into communion. What I'm suggesting is that the pope needs to renounce all additions to the Orthodox Faith that his predecessors introduced (or "elucidated on," as a Roman Catholic would argue).

No one short of God Himself could mend such a wound to the pride of Roman Catholics (and I don't mean pride in a pejorative sense). They would basically have to agree that their church had been out of communion with Christ's True Church for a millenium or more. Doctrines that were formed post-Schism would, in the best case, be relegated to private beliefs no longer binding on any Christian in the Church (like the Immaculate Conception, and that would be with modifications, of course). And of course, doctrines like papal infallibility would be flat-out rejected, to have never held any real orthodoxy in the first place.

But the problem is that the Roman Catholic Church of today is only what it is today because of all that has transpired post-Schism. So it's not simply a matter of stepping down honorably for the sake of union. It's completely effacing a large part of the church's history and doctrine for the sake of a true and genuine return to Orthodoxy.

And this doesn't even touch on issues with St. Aquinas's theology or post-Schism saints.
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« Reply #18 on: May 21, 2013, 03:49:26 AM »

It seems that it may be more nuanced than that.

I don't know what this means. There's not a lot of room for nuance in "we do not agree with you".

Quote
For example, is it against Orthodoxy to be in communion with Rome if she said that infallibility is only exercised by the college of bishops in an ecumenical council in the future united Church while not renouncing exercises of infallibility during schism?


What? You don't have infallible bishops, and neither do the Orthodox. No bishop or other person is infallible in Orthodoxy. And "not renouncing exercises of infallibility during schism"...why would when they are argued to have happened even matter? If one side says "this thing has never existed", then there's no point in saying "okay, fine...but we will still say it did in the past, now let's move on and not focus on it, for the sake of unity" or whatever. That's ridiculous. Your bishop was never infallible. Not in the first century, not in the fourth, not in the eleventh, not ever.

Quote
This is why I said that really intricate matters like this do not appear to be clearly defined nor even discussed yet. I hope that clarifies.

We don't need to spend any time discussing something that does not exist. This is not a controversial or intricate matter.
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« Reply #19 on: May 21, 2013, 09:22:28 AM »

It seems that it may be more nuanced than that.

I don't know what this means. There's not a lot of room for nuance in "we do not agree with you".

Quote
For example, is it against Orthodoxy to be in communion with Rome if she said that infallibility is only exercised by the college of bishops in an ecumenical council in the future united Church while not renouncing exercises of infallibility during schism?


What? You don't have infallible bishops, and neither do the Orthodox. No bishop or other person is infallible in Orthodoxy. And "not renouncing exercises of infallibility during schism"...why would when they are argued to have happened even matter? If one side says "this thing has never existed", then there's no point in saying "okay, fine...but we will still say it did in the past, now let's move on and not focus on it, for the sake of unity" or whatever. That's ridiculous. Your bishop was never infallible. Not in the first century, not in the fourth, not in the eleventh, not ever.

Quote
This is why I said that really intricate matters like this do not appear to be clearly defined nor even discussed yet. I hope that clarifies.

We don't need to spend any time discussing something that does not exist. This is not a controversial or intricate matter.
Yeah, well that's where we disagree. I do believe that the bishop of Rome and His Church have been entrusted by Christ through Peter to never err theologically when speaking ex Cathedra on matters of faith. It appears, then, that the hold up on both sides has more to do with this issue than others. It seems that the problem very well may be insoluble since I, for one, as an RC would be unwilling to deny that the fullness of truth resides in the Catholic Church and that, moreover, infallibility has been exercised properly.
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« Reply #20 on: May 21, 2013, 09:27:54 AM »

To the original poster -- welcome to our forums!

I appreciate your sincere yearning for Christian unity in an increasingly anti-Christian world. I think you have brought about a lively, productive conversation, even if it will most likely produce only a better understanding of the other side.

It's not pretending to disagree, IMO, its acknoedging a disagreement and resolving it for the sake of unity. I do, however, think that a reconciliation where the pope abdicates his use of ex Cathedra in a united Church is sufficient since the issue would for the most part be resolved. Infallibility would no longer be an issue since it would never be exercised, regardless if one thinks such an action is even possible. This would rub many RCs quite violently, but I believe that if both sides cannot agree to this then reunification may have to wait until heaven, sadly.

I think it's a lot more complicated than the pope just agreeing to never use his infallibility ever again. As other posters have stated, we Orthodox do not believe that the pope had such powers to begin with. Forgive me if I misunderstand, but in your model, the pope would essentially agree to a "demotion" for the sake of union. But the Orthodox would not want a mere relinquishing of powers; we would want a real consensus as to what power the Bishop of Rome has (i.e. nothing beyond the power of any other bishop); we would not accept his willful surrender of powers we do not think he had in the first place.

It would be very convenient if we could just restore everything to the collegial system we had pre-Schism, but our Churches have grown far apart, and only one can be in the right. For the sake of argument, let's say that the Orthodox Church has always been correct in all matters of faith and ecclesiology; the bishop of Rome was the "first among peers" only in the sense that he held the position of honor that H.H. Patriarch Bartholemew holds today. We would not simply demand that the pope voluntarily refuse to use the powers that his office enjoyed post-Schism; we would demand that the pope admit to the error of his predecessors. Do you see the difference? Your model is the pope "being nice" for the sake of enticing the Orthodox Church back into communion. What I'm suggesting is that the pope needs to renounce all additions to the Orthodox Faith that his predecessors introduced (or "elucidated on," as a Roman Catholic would argue).

No one short of God Himself could mend such a wound to the pride of Roman Catholics (and I don't mean pride in a pejorative sense). They would basically have to agree that their church had been out of communion with Christ's True Church for a millenium or more. Doctrines that were formed post-Schism would, in the best case, be relegated to private beliefs no longer binding on any Christian in the Church (like the Immaculate Conception, and that would be with modifications, of course). And of course, doctrines like papal infallibility would be flat-out rejected, to have never held any real orthodoxy in the first place.

But the problem is that the Roman Catholic Church of today is only what it is today because of all that has transpired post-Schism. So it's not simply a matter of stepping down honorably for the sake of union. It's completely effacing a large part of the church's history and doctrine for the sake of a true and genuine return to Orthodoxy.

And this doesn't even touch on issues with St. Aquinas's theology or post-Schism saints.
I suppose that is another large issue, not Thomistic theology, but how to appropriate post-schism theology on both sides. It would be a deal breaker for EO to tell the West to abandon Western theology or vice versa so I am not sure if there would be much dialogue about reunification if that is the criteria, apart from displays of cordiality by both of our church leadership.
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« Reply #21 on: May 21, 2013, 10:26:00 AM »

That may be true but I was curious from a dogmatic standpoint how say Palamos theology functions. Is it binding for the EO churches to teach say divine energies? Do Western Rite Orthodox teach different forms of spirituality than EO?

Why does 'the West' have so much trouble with Palamism? When I first heard of Palamism I was impressed with it and it immediately made sense.
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« Reply #22 on: May 21, 2013, 10:35:27 AM »

That may be true but I was curious from a dogmatic standpoint how say Palamos theology functions. Is it binding for the EO churches to teach say divine energies? Do Western Rite Orthodox teach different forms of spirituality than EO?

Why does 'the West' have so much trouble with Palamism.

Maybe because the theology of the West is too much influenced by st. Augustine.
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« Reply #23 on: May 21, 2013, 01:30:38 PM »

It seems that it may be more nuanced than that.

I don't know what this means. There's not a lot of room for nuance in "we do not agree with you".

Quote
For example, is it against Orthodoxy to be in communion with Rome if she said that infallibility is only exercised by the college of bishops in an ecumenical council in the future united Church while not renouncing exercises of infallibility during schism?


What? You don't have infallible bishops, and neither do the Orthodox. No bishop or other person is infallible in Orthodoxy. And "not renouncing exercises of infallibility during schism"...why would when they are argued to have happened even matter? If one side says "this thing has never existed", then there's no point in saying "okay, fine...but we will still say it did in the past, now let's move on and not focus on it, for the sake of unity" or whatever. That's ridiculous. Your bishop was never infallible. Not in the first century, not in the fourth, not in the eleventh, not ever.

Quote
This is why I said that really intricate matters like this do not appear to be clearly defined nor even discussed yet. I hope that clarifies.

We don't need to spend any time discussing something that does not exist. This is not a controversial or intricate matter.
Yeah, well that's where we disagree. I do believe that the bishop of Rome and His Church have been entrusted by Christ through Peter to never err theologically when speaking ex Cathedra on matters of faith. It appears, then, that the hold up on both sides has more to do with this issue than others. It seems that the problem very well may be insoluble since I, for one, as an RC would be unwilling to deny that the fullness of truth resides in the Catholic Church and that, moreover, infallibility has been exercised properly.

Alright. Then it doesn't matter how you frame it or propose it, there is nothing to talk about. The Orthodox Church is not going to grant any bishop infallibility just because you believe it to be true.
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« Reply #24 on: May 21, 2013, 02:08:54 PM »

1) These Patriarch Councils you speak of, I assume only constituted by the various Primates, don't seem consistent with the traditional Councils/Synods constituted by bishops (not just primates).

2) I don't think any Orthodox could accept papal infallibility, even if he chose to forego it without consent of his peers.

3) The Bishop of Rome would have to relinquish claims of universal jurisdiction, which I don't believe would be agreeable to many Catholics.
As for the second point, the EO would not have to accept papal infallibility since it would never be exercised apart from the council. Conversely, though, the issue would have to be left at that as in EO and RC would agree to leave the issue at that: one doesn't accept it (EO) and the other doesn't renounce it (RC) but in the future church it will be agreed that the only infallible teachings will be that of ecumenical councils. This would by far be the most controversial for RCs.

Apart from a few isolated instances (eg the Synod of Jerusalem), I have not seen the English word "infallible" used in any Orthodox council proceedings, certainly not in the Ecumenical Councils.

If the Ecumenical Councils are ecumenical and Orthodox, and they are, it is because the Church "everywhere, always, by everyone", believed them to be. The Roman Catholic vision of infallibility that resides it the Pope or even a majority of Bishops is thus antithetical to Orthodoxy. The Church decides orthodoxy, not a cabal of bishops.

For example, if your Orthodox/RC council decided something that was rejected by monks at Mt. Athos, that decided would simply fall into desuatude.

Your proposal is thus unworkable because it rests on unorthodox ecclesiology.
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« Reply #25 on: May 21, 2013, 02:11:21 PM »

For example, if your Orthodox/RC council decided something that was rejected by monks at Mt. Athos, that decided would simply fall into desuatude.

The monks of Athos are above the hierarchy? I agree with the rest of your post, though.
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« Reply #26 on: May 21, 2013, 02:11:29 PM »

It's no secret to anyone here who knows me that I like Catholics.  I think there are definitely matters of faith about which they are simply wrong and need to "get right", and there are historical issues (some are still very much alive) which make things difficult, but I like them.  Though I adhere officially to the position of the Orthodox Church regarding Catholics, personally I'm agnostic regarding things like the validity of their orders, "grace", etc.  But I'm fallible, so I stick with the Church.  

That said, I think this quote summarizes a lot of my problem with the way Catholics "do ecumenism":

We would not simply demand that the pope voluntarily refuse to use the powers that his office enjoyed post-Schism; we would demand that the pope admit to the error of his predecessors. Do you see the difference? Your model is the pope "being nice" for the sake of enticing the Orthodox Church back into communion.

It's not just the model of the OP, it's the model of the Roman Catholic Church.  The one thing that seems important, above all else, is visible communion with the Bishop of Rome.  Everything else is secondary.  How else do you explain how SSPX gets such grief in that Church, whereas labyrinth-walking, Gaia-worshiping "nuns" get to flaunt their idea of "social justice" with abandon for decades with hardly a slap on the wrist?  For all the schism that has been fomented by the former, and all the heresy promoted by the latter, what matters at the end of the day is real, tangible communion with the Bishop of Rome (which the latter do have).  Everything else can be addressed through "charitable dialogue" that may go on until the Parousia, but first you need to be "in communion" with the Bishop of Rome.  When doctrine, discipline, and other important matters can all be subjugated to this one factor, it's basically about retaining and building power.  I have no doubt that, were the Orthodox synods to pledge their fidelity to Rome and come "into communion", the Pope would be generous in letting them "do their own thing", because the only thing that matters is their fealty to his office.  And that sort of idea about the necessity of union with the Bishop of Rome is part and parcel of the whole package of teachings on the papacy to which the Orthodox object as a matter of faith.  

That's why I, for one, was not impressed with Pope Benedict's dropping of the title "Patriarch of the West".  What was the point of dropping the title of Patriarch of the West?  I don't think anyone denied his prerogatives as Patriarch of the West.  Within Patriarchal jurisdictions, you can see all sorts of leadership styles, from closely centralized (e.g., Coptic Alexandria) to "first among equals".  Let the West manage itself as it sees fit.  The real problem is the claim to universal, immediate, ordinary jurisdiction over the entire Church throughout the world, which makes the Pope a "super-bishop" and actual bishops something less than bishops.  Pope Benedict (whom I greatly admire for his person and writings) didn't drop titles like "Vicar of Christ"; he dropped a title that was relatively harmless, a title which highlighted the boundaries of his office's historic jurisdiction.  In omitting that, it only serves to highlight the other titles IMO.  

If the Pope wants regional Patriarchs and patriarchal synods for the Roman Church, with him holding some sort of chairmanship and tie-breaking power, go for it.  If he wants more centralization for the Roman Church, go for it (although I'm not sure if de-centralizing the RCC right now is really in their best interests practically, even if it is a move toward a more Orthodox ecclesiological model...you might just end up with something like the Anglican Communion).  But as long as whatever "change" is basically a matter of the Popes retaining all the same powers claimed, but agreeing not to use them or defining their use in such a way that, practically, it's non-existent...that's just window-dressing, it's not a return to the faith of the Church.  But in the Roman Catholic Church, it seems like you can define the faith rather liberally, as long as you're strictly committed to "communion" with the Bishopric of Rome under its current form.  And that's a huge problem.  Beliefs are not just rallying cries to unite people into solid groups (though they can function like that).  Without faith, you can still create organizations and consolidate power, but it is impossible to please God.  
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« Reply #27 on: May 21, 2013, 02:11:47 PM »

That may be true but I was curious from a dogmatic standpoint how say Palamos theology functions. Is it binding for the EO churches to teach say divine energies? Do Western Rite Orthodox teach different forms of spirituality than EO?

Why does 'the West' have so much trouble with Palamism.

Maybe because the theology of the West is too much influenced by st. Augustine.

He rejected Palamism? Care to offer a quote?
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« Reply #28 on: May 21, 2013, 03:27:39 PM »

For example, if your Orthodox/RC council decided something that was rejected by monks at Mt. Athos, that decided would simply fall into desuatude.

The monks of Athos are above the hierarchy? I agree with the rest of your post, though.
No, but the Church subsists in more than just the hierarchy.

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« Reply #29 on: May 21, 2013, 04:10:14 PM »

That may be true but I was curious from a dogmatic standpoint how say Palamos theology functions. Is it binding for the EO churches to teach say divine energies? Do Western Rite Orthodox teach different forms of spirituality than EO?

Why does 'the West' have so much trouble with Palamism.

Maybe because the theology of the West is too much influenced by st. Augustine.

He rejected Palamism? Care to offer a quote?

St. Augustine never rejected anything, but unlike the Eastern Fathers, he applies philosophical principles when explaining theological questions. His works are very influented by the ancient philosophy. So, the West based theology mostly on st. Augustine, so for the West it was little difficult to understand the theology of st. Gregory of Palamas.

Recently, i finished a book called "Patristic Theology", by Protopresbyter John Romanidis. He explains this question very good.
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« Reply #30 on: May 21, 2013, 04:15:12 PM »

St. Augustine never rejected anything, but unlike the Eastern Fathers, he applies philosophical principles when explaining theological questions.

LOL
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« Reply #31 on: May 21, 2013, 04:20:00 PM »

...the whole package of teachings on the papacy to which the Orthodox object as a matter of faith.  

Excellent post. Just thought this needed repeating with emphasis. The Orthodox are not merely being stubborn (though we can be) or mean to the Pope (though we can be) or even holding an ancient grudge (though we can do that too) we object to the papacy as a matter of faith. It's not about organizational structure and details, though those are important. This is not the faith of the Church.
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« Reply #32 on: May 21, 2013, 04:28:56 PM »

St. Augustine never rejected anything, but unlike the Eastern Fathers, he applies philosophical principles when explaining theological questions.

LOL

That is not my opinion, that is what i read. I never read much from the Early Church Fathers to judge.
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« Reply #33 on: May 21, 2013, 04:34:52 PM »

Recently, i finished a book called "Patristic Theology", by Protopresbyter John Romanidis. He explains this question very good.

I never read much from the Early Church Fathers to judge.

You could start by reading St. Augustine and other Fathers instead of Fr. John Romanides.
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« Reply #34 on: May 21, 2013, 04:38:02 PM »

St. Augustine never rejected anything, but unlike the Eastern Fathers, he applies philosophical principles when explaining theological questions. His works are very influented by the ancient philosophy. So, the West based theology mostly on st. Augustine, so for the West it was little difficult to understand the theology of st. Gregory of Palamas.

Recently, i finished a book called "Patristic Theology", by Protopresbyter John Romanidis. He explains this question very good.
The Eastern Fathers use just as much philosophy as any in the West. The depiction of "West = philosophy / East = theology" is just dishonest, polemical, and pejorative.

It's not uncommon to hear Fr. John Romanides criticized for misrepresenting Western theologies.
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« Reply #35 on: May 21, 2013, 04:56:20 PM »

Whether we, Catholics and Orthodox, like it or not it is essential for the sake of the Church that the East and West reunite.

Essential that we jettison the teachings of the one true faith just so that we can say we're one when in actuality we are nothing but?  Yeah, right.
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« Reply #36 on: May 21, 2013, 05:14:16 PM »


You could start by reading St. Augustine and other Fathers instead of Fr. John Romanides.

I read st. Augustine's Confessions and some parts of the city of God (not all parts are translated in Macedonian) and st. Basil's Hexameron ( one of my favourite books). Unfortunately, even st. Basil's writings are not translated in Macedonian...
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« Reply #37 on: May 21, 2013, 05:41:40 PM »



It's not uncommon to hear Fr. John Romanides criticized for misrepresenting Western theologies.

Maybe you are right, but, many consider Fr. John Romanides as very good theologian.
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« Reply #38 on: May 21, 2013, 05:42:09 PM »

That may be true but I was curious from a dogmatic standpoint how say Palamos theology functions. Is it binding for the EO churches to teach say divine energies? Do Western Rite Orthodox teach different forms of spirituality than EO?

Why does 'the West' have so much trouble with Palamism? When I first heard of Palamism I was impressed with it and it immediately made sense.
Some think that the distinction is incompatible with God's transcendence becuase they believe that it composition (parts) into the divine.
That's why I used to object to it.
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« Reply #39 on: May 21, 2013, 07:47:56 PM »

It's no secret to anyone here who knows me that I like Catholics.  I think there are definitely matters of faith about which they are simply wrong and need to "get right", and there are historical issues (some are still very much alive) which make things difficult, but I like them.  Though I adhere officially to the position of the Orthodox Church regarding Catholics, personally I'm agnostic regarding things like the validity of their orders, "grace", etc.  But I'm fallible, so I stick with the Church.  

That said, I think this quote summarizes a lot of my problem with the way Catholics "do ecumenism":

We would not simply demand that the pope voluntarily refuse to use the powers that his office enjoyed post-Schism; we would demand that the pope admit to the error of his predecessors. Do you see the difference? Your model is the pope "being nice" for the sake of enticing the Orthodox Church back into communion.

It's not just the model of the OP, it's the model of the Roman Catholic Church.  The one thing that seems important, above all else, is visible communion with the Bishop of Rome.  Everything else is secondary.  How else do you explain how SSPX gets such grief in that Church, whereas labyrinth-walking, Gaia-worshiping "nuns" get to flaunt their idea of "social justice" with abandon for decades with hardly a slap on the wrist?  For all the schism that has been fomented by the former, and all the heresy promoted by the latter, what matters at the end of the day is real, tangible communion with the Bishop of Rome (which the latter do have).  Everything else can be addressed through "charitable dialogue" that may go on until the Parousia, but first you need to be "in communion" with the Bishop of Rome.  When doctrine, discipline, and other important matters can all be subjugated to this one factor, it's basically about retaining and building power.  I have no doubt that, were the Orthodox synods to pledge their fidelity to Rome and come "into communion", the Pope would be generous in letting them "do their own thing", because the only thing that matters is their fealty to his office.  And that sort of idea about the necessity of union with the Bishop of Rome is part and parcel of the whole package of teachings on the papacy to which the Orthodox object as a matter of faith.  

That's why I, for one, was not impressed with Pope Benedict's dropping of the title "Patriarch of the West".  What was the point of dropping the title of Patriarch of the West?  I don't think anyone denied his prerogatives as Patriarch of the West.  Within Patriarchal jurisdictions, you can see all sorts of leadership styles, from closely centralized (e.g., Coptic Alexandria) to "first among equals".  Let the West manage itself as it sees fit.  The real problem is the claim to universal, immediate, ordinary jurisdiction over the entire Church throughout the world, which makes the Pope a "super-bishop" and actual bishops something less than bishops.  Pope Benedict (whom I greatly admire for his person and writings) didn't drop titles like "Vicar of Christ"; he dropped a title that was relatively harmless, a title which highlighted the boundaries of his office's historic jurisdiction.  In omitting that, it only serves to highlight the other titles IMO.  

If the Pope wants regional Patriarchs and patriarchal synods for the Roman Church, with him holding some sort of chairmanship and tie-breaking power, go for it.  If he wants more centralization for the Roman Church, go for it (although I'm not sure if de-centralizing the RCC right now is really in their best interests practically, even if it is a move toward a more Orthodox ecclesiological model...you might just end up with something like the Anglican Communion).  But as long as whatever "change" is basically a matter of the Popes retaining all the same powers claimed, but agreeing not to use them or defining their use in such a way that, practically, it's non-existent...that's just window-dressing, it's not a return to the faith of the Church.  But in the Roman Catholic Church, it seems like you can define the faith rather liberally, as long as you're strictly committed to "communion" with the Bishopric of Rome under its current form.  And that's a huge problem.  Beliefs are not just rallying cries to unite people into solid groups (though they can function like that).  Without faith, you can still create organizations and consolidate power, but it is impossible to please God.  

Well said, sir! Bravo!! POM nominee!
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« Reply #40 on: May 21, 2013, 07:58:36 PM »

Yeah, that sums up my feelings about ecumenism with Rome perfectly. Great post, Mor Ephrem.
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« Reply #41 on: May 21, 2013, 08:45:50 PM »

That may be true but I was curious from a dogmatic standpoint how say Palamos theology functions. Is it binding for the EO churches to teach say divine energies? Do Western Rite Orthodox teach different forms of spirituality than EO?

Why does 'the West' have so much trouble with Palamism.

Maybe because the theology of the West is too much influenced by st. Augustine.

He rejected Palamism? Care to offer a quote?

St. Augustine never rejected anything, but unlike the Eastern Fathers, he applies philosophical principles when explaining theological questions. His works are very influented by the ancient philosophy. So, the West based theology mostly on st. Augustine, so for the West it was little difficult to understand the theology of st. Gregory of Palamas.

Recently, i finished a book called "Patristic Theology", by Protopresbyter John Romanidis. He explains this question very good.
I think that's a false dichotomy, though prevalent. Eastern theology employs philosophical principles; it's not a matter of fideism vs. rationalism.
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« Reply #42 on: May 21, 2013, 08:50:10 PM »

That may be true but I was curious from a dogmatic standpoint how say Palamos theology functions. Is it binding for the EO churches to teach say divine energies? Do Western Rite Orthodox teach different forms of spirituality than EO?

Why does 'the West' have so much trouble with Palamism? When I first heard of Palamism I was impressed with it and it immediately made sense.
I realize that my repeated question about the dogmatic nature (or lack thereof) of Palamism may seem as though I have something against it, but I actually do not. I was just leery of the idea that Catholics in a reunified church would be expected by EO to adopt a particular theology and I was basing this concern on the letters like Photius' which seem to have quasi-dogmatic status (is this right?) while not being affirmed in an ecumenical council.
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« Reply #43 on: May 21, 2013, 08:53:48 PM »

Whether we, Catholics and Orthodox, like it or not it is essential for the sake of the Church that the East and West reunite.

Essential that we jettison the teachings of the one true faith just so that we can say we're one when in actuality we are nothing but?  Yeah, right.
I am not saying it is essential today in 2013, but the force of secularity, it seems to me, will be pretty radical for all of us or our kids by the end of this century. If full communion is impossible without either of our churches feeling like we have to make unorthodox compromises then I suppose we will just have to try to strengthen friendship without communion, which may be the best course to take.
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« Reply #44 on: May 21, 2013, 09:22:37 PM »

It's no secret to anyone here who knows me that I like Catholics.  I think there are definitely matters of faith about which they are simply wrong and need to "get right", and there are historical issues (some are still very much alive) which make things difficult, but I like them.  Though I adhere officially to the position of the Orthodox Church regarding Catholics, personally I'm agnostic regarding things like the validity of their orders, "grace", etc.  But I'm fallible, so I stick with the Church.  

That said, I think this quote summarizes a lot of my problem with the way Catholics "do ecumenism":

We would not simply demand that the pope voluntarily refuse to use the powers that his office enjoyed post-Schism; we would demand that the pope admit to the error of his predecessors. Do you see the difference? Your model is the pope "being nice" for the sake of enticing the Orthodox Church back into communion.

It's not just the model of the OP, it's the model of the Roman Catholic Church.  The one thing that seems important, above all else, is visible communion with the Bishop of Rome.  Everything else is secondary.  How else do you explain how SSPX gets such grief in that Church, whereas labyrinth-walking, Gaia-worshiping "nuns" get to flaunt their idea of "social justice" with abandon for decades with hardly a slap on the wrist?  For all the schism that has been fomented by the former, and all the heresy promoted by the latter, what matters at the end of the day is real, tangible communion with the Bishop of Rome (which the latter do have).  Everything else can be addressed through "charitable dialogue" that may go on until the Parousia, but first you need to be "in communion" with the Bishop of Rome.  When doctrine, discipline, and other important matters can all be subjugated to this one factor, it's basically about retaining and building power.  I have no doubt that, were the Orthodox synods to pledge their fidelity to Rome and come "into communion", the Pope would be generous in letting them "do their own thing", because the only thing that matters is their fealty to his office.  And that sort of idea about the necessity of union with the Bishop of Rome is part and parcel of the whole package of teachings on the papacy to which the Orthodox object as a matter of faith.  

That's why I, for one, was not impressed with Pope Benedict's dropping of the title "Patriarch of the West".  What was the point of dropping the title of Patriarch of the West?  I don't think anyone denied his prerogatives as Patriarch of the West.  Within Patriarchal jurisdictions, you can see all sorts of leadership styles, from closely centralized (e.g., Coptic Alexandria) to "first among equals".  Let the West manage itself as it sees fit.  The real problem is the claim to universal, immediate, ordinary jurisdiction over the entire Church throughout the world, which makes the Pope a "super-bishop" and actual bishops something less than bishops.  Pope Benedict (whom I greatly admire for his person and writings) didn't drop titles like "Vicar of Christ"; he dropped a title that was relatively harmless, a title which highlighted the boundaries of his office's historic jurisdiction.  In omitting that, it only serves to highlight the other titles IMO.  

If the Pope wants regional Patriarchs and patriarchal synods for the Roman Church, with him holding some sort of chairmanship and tie-breaking power, go for it.  If he wants more centralization for the Roman Church, go for it (although I'm not sure if de-centralizing the RCC right now is really in their best interests practically, even if it is a move toward a more Orthodox ecclesiological model...you might just end up with something like the Anglican Communion).  But as long as whatever "change" is basically a matter of the Popes retaining all the same powers claimed, but agreeing not to use them or defining their use in such a way that, practically, it's non-existent...that's just window-dressing, it's not a return to the faith of the Church.  But in the Roman Catholic Church, it seems like you can define the faith rather liberally, as long as you're strictly committed to "communion" with the Bishopric of Rome under its current form.  And that's a huge problem.  Beliefs are not just rallying cries to unite people into solid groups (though they can function like that).  Without faith, you can still create organizations and consolidate power, but it is impossible to please God.  
Even though I disagree with a lot of your points, I appreciate very much your well-thought out and post. It was refreshing to read an honest yet respectful disagreement. It's become more clear to me that the differences between our two churches are seemingly insoluble at this point in time, and, consequently, we should perhaps try to increase fraternal relations and continue discussing our faith.

I want to respond about your understandable complaint about Benedict XVI dropping the title 'Patriarch of the West.' From my research of the person and theology of Benedict, I believe this much to be true: he is kind, he is very cerebral, and be is not politically correct. The last two 'Ratzingerian' characteristics factor into this. As a professor Benedict, then Ratzinger, proposed breaking the 'West' up into a few different patriarchs who have far more autonomy over their own continents and he said that the pope would be bishop (patriarch) of Rome and perhaps Western Europe but not of the entire Western Rite (Asia, Africa, etc.). So, I think that he saw the title as disposable because 1) the West doesn't use the term 'patriarch' or run itself according to that model 2) his vision of the future Catholic Church is more decentralized than now and he saw the pope as not the patriarch of the entire West.

Was this the best decision? No, I don't think so, but, knowing his ecclesiology (which sees Rome as a partiuclar church), I also don't think he meant to give the impression that he wanted more centralization of powers in the papacy (although, admittedly, it did have that effect).
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