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Author Topic: What are the OO stipulations for Communio with EO and RC?  (Read 1234 times) Average Rating: 0
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Surnaturel
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« on: May 29, 2013, 11:13:40 PM »

Just curious about what OOs on this forum believe to be necessary for a unified Church. Would RCs and EOs be expected to 'repent?' What issues would you seek clarification or change on from both churches? Also, please state your particular church, ie Syrian, Coptic, Ethiopian etc
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« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2013, 12:03:29 AM »

I'm Coptic. I'm also a convert, so take whatever stupid thing I think with a grain of salt.

From where I'm sitting, I am fine with most of what I've heard the EO say re: the RC and what they need to do to become Orthodox, so I don't think our conditions would differ all that much. I will openly admit that I don't understand some of what they talk about (e.g., Palamism/stuff about the "uncreated light"; I'm not against it, I just don't really get it because I don't think I've ever read or heard anything about it from an OO perspective, or at least not using such terms), but I don't really understand RCs, either, so I guess that's neither here nor there. They can argue about post-Chalcedonian theological developments among themselves, I guess.

As far as OO being in union with EO and vice-versa, that's an entirely different set of issues, and it's highly likely that delving into them to any degree beyond the superficial will land this thread in the private forum before you can say a "hiteni" for St. Dioscoros. So, superficially, I would not ask either the RC or the EO to "repent"...they were, after all, doing what you would expect people to do when they're convinced that they hold the truth and you do not. We've done nothing else, either, and I don't know that it would be right to make OO "repentance" a necessary condition for union. But this leaves open the question of what to do with the various anathemas historically leveled against individual saints of the communion, or sometimes whole churches (e.g., the hilarious anathema against the Armenians for the crime of not having cheesefare week as the EO do; oh, those rogues). I would personally be fine with leaving some of the more controversial saints (e.g., St. Dioscoros, St. Severus, etc.) up to local veneration of a particular communion. As far as I know this is already the norm in the OO communion, in that we don't always recognize each other's saints to begin with. That would have to come with a clarification regarding the true historical circumstances of the deposition of St. Dioscoros by the Council of Chalcedon, though -- i.e., stop anathematizing him for imagined heresies that the fathers of Chalcedon themselves did not even accuse him of.

As individual EO have told me in private that the Tome of Leo can only be properly understood in light of Constantinople II, I would have no problem with that as the professed understanding among EO of what the Tome meant (in that most OO I've talked to seem to greatly prefer Constantinople II to Chalcedon proper, and the substance of the disagreement with Chalcedon, at least among the Copts I've talked to, is very much tied to the Tome itself, as well as the anathema against and deposition of HH St. Dioscoros), but would then of course have more of a problem with those who make acceptance of Chalcedon as-is some sort of crucible of Orthodoxy (as though the Chalcedonians themselves did not hold a subsequent council to sort it out). I would not affirm it myself, nor am I particularly thrilled with those who assume that we (OO) must simply accept all subsequent councils, as far as I can tell with little more justification than the fact that these are the councils that EO themselves recognize. Some of them address issues that were not even problems among the OO churches in the first place (e.g., 7th council/iconoclasm).
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« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2013, 12:53:30 AM »

Just curious about what OOs on this forum believe to be necessary for a unified Church. Would RCs and EOs be expected to 'repent?' What issues would you seek clarification or change on from both churches? Also, please state your particular church, ie Syrian, Coptic, Ethiopian etc

All of us need to repent of what is wrong and cling to what is true.  But if "repentance" means the RC's and EO's have to sit in sackcloth and ashes while we rub their noses in their own waste and remind them of how naughty they were for the last sixteen centuries, well, we're not asking for that, I don't think it even occurred to anyone to ask for that.  Some people give the impression that "repentance" involves "revenge", and they are mistaken.   

Unless the Synods of all the individual OO Churches get together to discuss this, I don't think there's necessarily going to be a single answer to what we'd collectively require for a "unified Church".  Though we are in communion, we are more independent in our "life" and administration in some ways even than the various autocephalous EO Churches.  So much of RCism and EOxy wound up, for one or the other reason, being tied not only to a particular confession of faith, but the associated "culture" to which it was married.  We were never the "monolith" that Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy became; in this way, I believe we've preserved something of the spirit of the undivided Church, where local differences and diversity can be accepted as long as it doesn't compromise the Orthodox confession of faith.  We have two thousand years of experience living out the solutions to problems affecting the other Churches (e.g., calendars, "Western Rite", inculturation) in love, peace, faith, and communion; this is a precious witness and a gift I believe we "bring to the table" in our dialogue with the Chalcedonians.  But it can also be rather "inefficient" at times.           

Certainly, a major hurdle remains the Christological disputes of the fifth century.  We're actually better with the RC's on that score than we are with the EO, because most if not all the individual OO Churches have issued joint statements with the RCC accepting that the Churches teach in substance the same faith, albeit with different terminology; these statements go on to have varying implications, depending on which two Churches ratified which sets of terms (e.g., the agreement between the RCC and the Syrian Orthodox Church goes further than any of the other agreements).  We haven't reached that level of acceptance with the EO for a few well-known reasons.  As far as I know, all those RC-OO agreements are still in effect, although I heard on this forum that the Coptic adherence to their agreement with the RC's was affected by the latter's "joint statement" with the Assyrian Church of the East (you'll have to ask Copts about that, I may be mistaken or ill-informed). 

I suppose that, once the Christological hurdle is cleared, any of our disagreements would be with Rome and would be the same disagreements the EO have with Rome, as dzheremi wrote.  But while that's true in theory, I'm not sure to what extent the various Churches have given serious thought to the matter. 

Elsewhere, I wrote that Roman Catholics converting to Orthodoxy are typically received merely by confession of faith (along with sacramental confession and communion), and not through baptism/chrismation, in the Churches of Syriac tradition.  This is in part (I believe) due to the canonical letters of St Severus which entered the body of "canon law" in our Church (West Syriac Churches include those of Antioch and India).  St Severus prescribes this method of reuniting Chalcedonians to Orthodoxy because of how close the faiths are in terms of doctrine, and how they're basically identical in terms of orthopraxis (sometimes, you get the impression he felt it was more of a schism than a heresy).  Even though RC's and EO's have differences in faith (on which we side with the EO), and even though we make a distinction in how we receive Protestants, we receive RC's the same way as we receive EO's, so it seems like the Syrian Churches either haven't officially thought it out thoroughly enough yet, or they have, and they don't consider the differences between RC's and EO's to be on the same level as those between RC/EO and Protestants.  I think it's the former, but that's just me.  It is an unsettled matter: the Church in Syria is too busy being persecuted to worry about such things at the moment, and the Church in India has a unique history with Catholics that makes things rather "interesting".     
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« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2013, 01:41:45 AM »

Thanks for the informative posts, dz and Mor. There's a lot to think about there. I am encouraged by the recent meeting of Popes Tawadros II and Francis. I am reading Aidan Nichols' book East-West dialogue and he has a few detailed chapters on RC-OO history and recent relations. From that reading, it seems that the Chalcedonian concerns of both sides are largely being settled but papal primacy is still unresolved.

I hope that the Creed's teaching of 'one baptism for the forgiveness of sin' (provided a Trinitarian formula with water) is adhered to in all of the ancient churches. I'll leave this point at that since I don't want to entice a more heated discussion than is allowed for here.
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« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2013, 02:02:34 AM »

I hope that the Creed's teaching of 'one baptism for the forgiveness of sin' (provided a Trinitarian formula with water) is adhered to in all of the ancient churches. I'll leave this point at that since I don't want to entice a more heated discussion than is allowed for here.

Everyone admits only one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.  The main difference between RC and OO (and EO) on this point is on the operation of the sacraments.  We believe that the sacraments only exist within the Church, the Body of Christ.  If/when those who are separated from the Church attempt to celebrate the sacraments, even if they use the same words and rites, they are invalid because they are not connected to the source of grace.  RC's believe that, as long as proper matter, form, and intent are maintained by a priest who was, at the time of his ordination, "validly ordained" (they have their own definition for this and related concepts, like apostolic succession), the sacraments are "valid".  Moreover, with regard to baptism, they admit that any one, and not just any Christian, can validly baptize with the proper matter, form, and intent.  A connection to the Church, or in the case of baptism, even faith in Christ, on the part of the one administering the sacraments is not strictly necessary. 

That's a big issue.  The second issue, the fact that Catholics don't typically baptize with three full immersions, is actually less of a problem for us because the different traditions have different interpretations of "immersion", some of which could theoretically cover the RC practice, even if "infusion" is regarded as acceptable as a concession in emergencies. 

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« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2013, 02:31:41 AM »

I hope that the Creed's teaching of 'one baptism for the forgiveness of sin' (provided a Trinitarian formula with water) is adhered to in all of the ancient churches. I'll leave this point at that since I don't want to entice a more heated discussion than is allowed for here.

Everyone admits only one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.  The main difference between RC and OO (and EO) on this point is on the operation of the sacraments.  We believe that the sacraments only exist within the Church, the Body of Christ.  If/when those who are separated from the Church attempt to celebrate the sacraments, even if they use the same words and rites, they are invalid because they are not connected to the source of grace.  RC's believe that, as long as proper matter, form, and intent are maintained by a priest who was, at the time of his ordination, "validly ordained" (they have their own definition for this and related concepts, like apostolic succession), the sacraments are "valid".  Moreover, with regard to baptism, they admit that any one, and not just any Christian, can validly baptize with the proper matter, form, and intent.  A connection to the Church, or in the case of baptism, even faith in Christ, on the part of the one administering the sacraments is not strictly necessary. 

That's a big issue.  The second issue, the fact that Catholics don't typically baptize with three full immersions, is actually less of a problem for us because the different traditions have different interpretations of "immersion", some of which could theoretically cover the RC practice, even if "infusion" is regarded as acceptable as a concession in emergencies. 


I suppose the issue then becomes this: from an OO point of view, the sacraments of EO and RC, including baptism, are not considered valid since they are not in communion with OO. Accordingly, the universal church is the OO alone. Is that a correct understanding? Not being polemical, just trying to understand.

The RC position is that the fullness of the universal church subsists in the Catholic communion (with Rome as its head), but that the ancient particular churches are still part of the universal church, albeit wounded. Trinitarian baptisms outside of these apostolic churches are seen as valid but the communities themselves are gravely deprived along with their sacramental system.
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« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2013, 02:42:05 AM »

I suppose the issue then becomes this: from an OO point of view, the sacraments of EO and RC, including baptism, are not considered valid since they are not in communion with OO. Accordingly, the universal church is the OO alone. Is that a correct understanding? Not being polemical, just trying to understand.

I'm not sure that this is entirely correct, at least not as far as the Copts are concerned. As elucidated by HG Bishop Youssef (and confirmed to me personally by my priest, prior to my baptism), Roman Catholics and Protestants are treated differently than Eastern Orthodox in this regard, thanks to a recent agreement signed with the EO.
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« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2013, 10:26:03 AM »

I suppose the issue then becomes this: from an OO point of view, the sacraments of EO and RC, including baptism, are not considered valid since they are not in communion with OO. Accordingly, the universal church is the OO alone. Is that a correct understanding? Not being polemical, just trying to understand.

I'm not sure that this is entirely correct, at least not as far as the Copts are concerned. As elucidated by HG Bishop Youssef (and confirmed to me personally by my priest, prior to my baptism), Roman Catholics and Protestants are treated differently than Eastern Orthodox in this regard, thanks to a recent agreement signed with the EO.
Interesting. Last night I read an interview by the Coptic bishop Williams who remarked that, in his judgment, Catholic converts to OO (Coptic) should not be baptized again. Furthermore, he expressed optimism that Pope Tawadros II would make this change, but he said that there are still a lot of bishops loyal to Pope Shenouda who may resist it (Williams says out of loyalty not conviction). http://youdiv.com/egypt-bishop-hopes-coptic-orthodox-church-may-recognise-catholic-baptism/


From what I have read about Pope Tawadros thus far, particularly his desire to speak as a united Christian voice against the persecution of his people, he seems to be a truly pastoral and spiritual man. The resilience of Coptic Christians in the face of Islamic persecution has made a significant impact on myself and other Catholics I have spoken too. I hope and pray for unity in the future.
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« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2013, 10:30:49 AM »

Honestly, I'm not sure that we've ever expressed a definitive view on whether Chalcedonian sacraments are valid, even if we ascribe to the belief that sacraments cannot exist outside the communion of the Church.  Generally, we find it easier to affirm where the sacraments are rather than define where they are not, where the boundaries of the Church definitely extend rather than where they may not.  Each Church has received converts in varying ways, based on their own local but Orthodox practice: I don't think you could build a solid case either way based on this.  The RC-Syrian joint statements signed by JPII and Patriarch Zakka I allow, in certain defined pastoral circumstances, some form of intercommunion, which you could take as a de facto recognition of RC sacraments and therefore "Churchness", but it could also be the broader, less nuanced application of St Severus' view on Chalcedonians.  But even that is not "binding" on the other Churches.  Copts, for instance, baptize RC's but not EO's (was there ever a time when they received RC's otherwise, or baptized EO's?).  So it's not clear cut, except to say that we identify the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church with our communion: where that leaves EO's and RC's hasn't really been resolved for us the way RC's and EO's resolve those questions for themselves.        
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« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2013, 10:32:36 AM »

I chuckled when I read "Coptic bishop Williams", wondering if you'd come across a vagante running operations out of his garage.  Then I realized he's a Coptic Catholic bishop.  Smiley

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« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2013, 10:56:01 AM »

Interesting. Last night I read an interview by the Coptic bishop Williams who remarked that, in his judgment, Catholic converts to OO (Coptic) should not be baptized again. Furthermore, he expressed optimism that Pope Tawadros II would make this change, but he said that there are still a lot of bishops loyal to Pope Shenouda who may resist it (Williams says out of loyalty not conviction). http://youdiv.com/egypt-bishop-hopes-coptic-orthodox-church-may-recognise-catholic-baptism/

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From what I have read about Pope Tawadros thus far, particularly his desire to speak as a united Christian voice against the persecution of his people, he seems to be a truly pastoral and spiritual man. The resilience of Coptic Christians in the face of Islamic persecution has made a significant impact on myself and other Catholics I have spoken too. I hope and pray for unity in the future.

Yeah, I dunno. I don't like HH Pope Tawadros II's overtures to the current Roman Pope. I will not celebrate the potential holiday I've read that he proposed to be celebrated between Coptic Orthodox Christians and Latins. But there's nothing wrong with praying for better relations, I guess.
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« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2013, 12:36:26 PM »

Honestly, I'm not sure that we've ever expressed a definitive view on whether Chalcedonian sacraments are valid, even if we ascribe to the belief that sacraments cannot exist outside the communion of the Church.  Generally, we find it easier to affirm where the sacraments are rather than define where they are not, where the boundaries of the Church definitely extend rather than where they may not.  Each Church has received converts in varying ways, based on their own local but Orthodox practice: I don't think you could build a solid case either way based on this.  The RC-Syrian joint statements signed by JPII and Patriarch Zakka I allow, in certain defined pastoral circumstances, some form of intercommunion, which you could take as a de facto recognition of RC sacraments and therefore "Churchness", but it could also be the broader, less nuanced application of St Severus' view on Chalcedonians.  But even that is not "binding" on the other Churches.  Copts, for instance, baptize RC's but not EO's (was there ever a time when they received RC's otherwise, or baptized EO's?).  So it's not clear cut, except to say that we identify the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church with our communion: where that leaves EO's and RC's hasn't really been resolved for us the way RC's and EO's resolve those questions for themselves.       

It seems the idea to rebaptize Catholics (and Chalcedonians) was sometime in the 18th century, when sacramental and ecclesiological theology was more or less changed and due to Western missionaries (along with soteriology), and when Coptic Catholicism grew. So, it could be safe to deduce before that, we also lived by the Severian canon. Fr. Peter Farrington has been making the case that it is unnecessary to even chrismate let alone baptize Catholics.

But at the same time, I think we should understand that doesn't necessarily mean they are a "wounded" part of the Church. Sacraments are not magical institutions that only qualified wizards with the right incantations can do. You see this type of thinking sometimes among Copts, especially in the recent debate concerning Papal elections and "past uncanonical Popes".  We definitely need to engage in a deeper study and understanding of sacramental and ecclesiological theology, and perhaps this could also help in our dialogues with the EO and the RC.  I'm of the opinion a lot of the issues we disagree on even with RC's might not be such a big deal to divide over, if they were simply theologomenoun and not dogma.

Shenoudian bishops will make the case that sacraments should only be accepted by those of the same faith.  But history doesn't support this, as in the Severian case.  I think HH Pope Tawadros is realizing this and is slowly encouraging the Synod to discover this themselves as well without trying to tarnish the memory of his predecessor.
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« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2013, 12:47:27 PM »

Doesn't the fact that the RCC hasn't/doesn't/won't leave them as theologomenon make them into big, dividing issues? I mean, I was Catholic for years, but never really got into criticizing Easterners of any kind (in fact, for my baptism I chose Ss. Cyril and Methodius), so maybe there's something I never really understood about RC ecclesiology, but it seems to me that many things that are irreconcilable are not going to be given up or changed by the RCC...and, frankly, why should they be? I'd much rather deal with serious RCs who are willing to say "X (Papal infallibility, universal jurisdiction, etc.) or anathema" than those who want to make everything a matter of opinion. Am I wrong here? I don't think our ecclesiology or Christology is just a matter of choosing equally valid options, and maybe this one is good for the Latins, while this other one is good for the Copts, and another is good for the Byzantines, etc.

I know you didn't say anything like that, Mina, but I'm just wondering 'aloud' what it means to say that some things should be kept at the level of theologomenon when (a) Rome won't do that with anything that matters (~anything that actually divides us that we won't compromise on), and (b) plenty of things shouldn't be treated like that precisely because they are not a matter of theologomenon in the first place. They have to be assented to by partners in any dialogue, not maneuvered around.
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« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2013, 01:06:57 PM »

Well, the major divide between us and RCs is ecclesiological in nature (I.e. Papism). It's the glue that keeps Eastern Catholics together and the standard by which Apostolic churches of non-Latin origins are brought into communion, and it is the most rejected teaching we stand against.

Other issues of we take one by one seem to not become necessarily a divisive issue. Purgatory and indulgences have become more or less "some will be saved before the second coming" and "our prayers for the departed are efficacious" respectively, which is apart from what contemporary bishops teach are Coptic traditional practices.

Filioque seems to be chalked up to semantics.

Clerical celibacy is a mere practice.

Immaculate Conception contradicts the Copto-Syriac tradition of "Immaculate Annunciation", but the Ethiopian Church did have a tradition of belief in the immaculate conception, and this ever-growing belief of "Co-Redemptrx", while it needs clarification seems to affirm nothing more than we already believe in the role of the Theotokos in salvation.

Question is, are these issues necessarily divisive? Can't we just disagree with them without rejecting the totality of the faith?  That might be a problem with RCs. Nevertheless, they are very accepting of Eastern Catholic theological traditions, like St. Severus in the OO side, Theodore of Mopsuestia in the Chaldean side, and Gregory Palamas on the Byzantine side, all of which shows a sense of growing acceptance of theological diversity in the RC church "so long as the Pope" gets his primacy place among them.
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« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2013, 01:33:12 PM »

It seems the idea to rebaptize Catholics (and Chalcedonians) was sometime in the 18th century, when sacramental and ecclesiological theology was more or less changed and due to Western missionaries (along with soteriology), and when Coptic Catholicism grew. So, it could be safe to deduce before that, we also lived by the Severian canon. Fr. Peter Farrington has been making the case that it is unnecessary to even chrismate let alone baptize Catholics.

Interesting.  So it is possibly bound up with "making a point" in the face of "Western aggression".  It wouldn't be the first time "strictness" and "economy" were used as part of a larger ideological battle. 

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Shenoudian bishops will make the case that sacraments should only be accepted by those of the same faith.  But history doesn't support this, as in the Severian case.  I think HH Pope Tawadros is realizing this and is slowly encouraging the Synod to discover this themselves as well without trying to tarnish the memory of his predecessor.

I know nothing of internal Coptic Church politics, but it will always be tough for the successor of anyone who was in office for as long as Pope Shenouda, let alone loved as much as he was.  Sadly, the "quirks" in theological understanding that seem to have taken root during his papacy need to be dealt with sensitively because they seem to be so bound up with the person.  I don't envy Pope Tawadros one bit. 
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« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2013, 01:39:21 PM »

Doesn't the fact that the RCC hasn't/doesn't/won't leave them as theologomenon make them into big, dividing issues?

I think we need to be careful how we proceed.  It's all well and good to point out Roman divergences from the Orthodox faith.  But when they explain it in such a way that demonstrates a) they always believed it in this way or b) whatever they believed before, this is what they're willing to believe and say about it going forward, we need to be mature enough to accept that as a positive thing and keep moving forward.  Often enough, we use these things as a cover for our own "anti-Catholic" biases, due to understandable historical circumstances.  But if we can keep a cool head, we can accomplish much. 

Of course, there are things, like the Roman understanding of papal authority, that they may only nuance so much before it becomes "take it or leave it".  If it's not Orthodox, let's leave it and try to be friends anyway.  But if there's progress to be made on other fronts, why not make that progress?  It may not fix everything, but it does put us in a better place overall. 
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« Reply #16 on: May 30, 2013, 01:48:39 PM »

Whenever an issue comes up concerning HH Pope Shenouda vs what was the tradition, patristics seem to help, some of which were never translated into Arabic, but also some of which seem to threaten a reevaluation of our seminaries in Cairo which are based on Shenoudian theology.

One thing I tried to do is harmonize HH into those past beliefs while also slowly showing that we can venerate someone, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're dogmatically infallible (case in point: St. Augustine).
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« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2013, 04:32:05 PM »

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I know nothing of internal Coptic Church politics, but it will always be tough for the successor of anyone who was in office for as long as Pope Shenouda, let alone loved as much as he was.  Sadly, the "quirks" in theological understanding that seem to have taken root during his papacy need to be dealt with sensitively because they seem to be so bound up with the person.  I don't envy Pope Tawadros one bit. 

Why is everyone assuming that Pope Taw is trying to fix the problems of the previous era? Is there any indication that this is the case? Did he say anything contrary to Anba Shenouda's teachings?

In fact, and instead of speaking in general terms, what exactly are the teachings that need to be revised from the previous era?

He is a product of the previous era. He is the spiritual son of one of the most loyal generals of Anba Shenouda. Not only that, he has signed and participated in the anathema against a book, titled "Luminous Sayings", that contained Patristic quotes about deification, the most challenged concept during the past 40 years.
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« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2013, 04:39:47 PM »

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I know nothing of internal Coptic Church politics, but it will always be tough for the successor of anyone who was in office for as long as Pope Shenouda, let alone loved as much as he was.  Sadly, the "quirks" in theological understanding that seem to have taken root during his papacy need to be dealt with sensitively because they seem to be so bound up with the person.  I don't envy Pope Tawadros one bit. 

Why is everyone assuming that Pope Taw is trying to fix the problems of the previous era? Is there any indication that this is the case? Did he say anything contrary to Anba Shenouda's teachings?

In fact, and instead of speaking in general terms, what exactly are the teachings that need to be revised from the previous era?

He is a product of the previous era. He is the spiritual son of one of the most loyal generals of Anba Shenouda. Not only that, he has signed and participated in the anathema against a book, titled "Luminous Sayings", that contained Patristic quotes about deification, the most challenged concept during the past 40 years.

It's because they didn't have the availability of such writings in Arabic.  Surely Stavro, you should be very sympathetic with their confusions.  With enough translations of Patristics, I have hope for the this generation of bishops.

HH Pope Tawadros for instance have reiterated over and over again "we are a conciliar Church, not a Papal Church".  This seems to me to be an indication that "I'm going to do things differently, not like my predecessor".  Likewise, he also mentioned in another interview "every Papal era has its own rules and workings and ways of administrations, and thus every era should be judged on its own and not to be compared to each other."  Pretty much, he is saying, "I'm going to do things differently and I want to do this without criticizing my predecessor."  He ordained a pro-Matta monk to be the bishop of Abu Maqar.  I think that speaks volumes of reconciliation and a more nuanced movement to understanding patristic theology, especially deification.
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« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2013, 05:57:55 PM »

Why is everyone assuming that Pope Taw is trying to fix the problems of the previous era? Is there any indication that this is the case? Did he say anything contrary to Anba Shenouda's teachings?

In fact, and instead of speaking in general terms, what exactly are the teachings that need to be revised from the previous era?

He is a product of the previous era. He is the spiritual son of one of the most loyal generals of Anba Shenouda. Not only that, he has signed and participated in the anathema against a book, titled "Luminous Sayings", that contained Patristic quotes about deification, the most challenged concept during the past 40 years.


Forgive me.  I felt that I left enough leeway in my comment above to indicate that I'm going by what I hear from others, although I myself don't really know what's going on first hand. 

The information passed on to me regarding "teachings" from the previous era that may need to be reconsidered have mostly to do with "deification": what it is, what it's not, the role of the holy mysteries in this process, etc.  At the time (I was in seminary), the "Shenoudan" teachings, as they were described to me, didn't seem consonant with any Orthodoxy taught by my Church, nor by other OO who heard about it.  Fr Matta was proposed as the principle "opponent", and his arguments agreed with our understanding of the faith.  So it was billed, to me anyway, as a confusion in a matter of faith based in large part on "lack of Arabic translations of patristic texts", wariness of Chalcedonian teachings, a distrust of "formal" education in "certain" seminaries, personality clashes, etc., etc. 

I have no idea what, of all that, is actually the case, I haven't studied the matter.  But the fact that the Copts I know seem to have varying opinions of all this makes me think that at least some of what I heard is based in fact.  Perhaps that's properly dealt with in another thread.       
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« Reply #20 on: May 30, 2013, 07:26:32 PM »

Why is everyone assuming that Pope Taw is trying to fix the problems of the previous era? Is there any indication that this is the case? Did he say anything contrary to Anba Shenouda's teachings?

In fact, and instead of speaking in general terms, what exactly are the teachings that need to be revised from the previous era?

He is a product of the previous era. He is the spiritual son of one of the most loyal generals of Anba Shenouda. Not only that, he has signed and participated in the anathema against a book, titled "Luminous Sayings", that contained Patristic quotes about deification, the most challenged concept during the past 40 years.


Forgive me.  I felt that I left enough leeway in my comment above to indicate that I'm going by what I hear from others, although I myself don't really know what's going on first hand.  

The information passed on to me regarding "teachings" from the previous era that may need to be reconsidered have mostly to do with "deification": what it is, what it's not, the role of the holy mysteries in this process, etc.  At the time (I was in seminary), the "Shenoudan" teachings, as they were described to me, didn't seem consonant with any Orthodoxy taught by my Church, nor by other OO who heard about it.  Fr Matta was proposed as the principle "opponent", and his arguments agreed with our understanding of the faith.  So it was billed, to me anyway, as a confusion in a matter of faith based in large part on "lack of Arabic translations of patristic texts", wariness of Chalcedonian teachings, a distrust of "formal" education in "certain" seminaries, personality clashes, etc., etc.  

I have no idea what, of all that, is actually the case, I haven't studied the matter.  But the fact that the Copts I know seem to have varying opinions of all this makes me think that at least some of what I heard is based in fact.  Perhaps that's properly dealt with in another thread.      

There was another thread where, admittedly, I was very defensive of HH Pope Shenouda, particularly when the issue was represented in the way you mention it, with HH being unOrthodox and Abouna Matta being the champion defender of Orthodoxy.  However, I think it's a lot more complicated than that.  There seems to be a lot of "philological" issues around these debates.  HH Pope Shenouda would be accused of denying deification among other problems in his theology.  Abouna Matta would be accused of "materializing" the divine nature (consuming the divinity in the Eucharist), advocating a "hypostatic union" with the Holy Spirit, and equating man with the Godhead.

I've met "neo-Shenoudians" who would defend HH and say that he was just fighting against contemplations of theology more than is necessary, but that HH did not deny deification, and neither would he have advocated excommunicated Abouna Matta, who regardless of disagreements, seem to still harbor some deep-seated love for him.  It seems in the famous visit of HH to Abu Maqar, HH seems to have worked towards reconciliation with Abouna Matta.

Whatever the case may be, I still have hope we're moving in the right direction.  I think there might have been a certain level of misunderstanding in this as well.

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« Reply #21 on: June 05, 2013, 10:22:57 PM »

While I am enthusiastic for a union between our two Churches (although I do not know if a union will ever happen in my lifetime), one thing that worries me is what we're going to do with all the now united bishops and patriarchs in the same jurisdiction. One wise friend of mine suggested that we'd simply be united, not integrated. There'd still be a Coptic Pope in Alexandria, as well as a Greek one and in Constantinople there'd be a Greek Patriarch with an Armenian counterpart. Personally, and I stress personally, I think that's a bit of a cop out. One bishop per diocese is the rule, but whose bishops are done away with? A volunteer system might work, but what if neither volunteers? This is a scary question, in my opinion. Has this hypothetical question ever been addressed?
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« Reply #22 on: June 05, 2013, 11:41:05 PM »

While I am enthusiastic for a union between our two Churches (although I do not know if a union will ever happen in my lifetime), one thing that worries me is what we're going to do with all the now united bishops and patriarchs in the same jurisdiction. One wise friend of mine suggested that we'd simply be united, not integrated. There'd still be a Coptic Pope in Alexandria, as well as a Greek one and in Constantinople there'd be a Greek Patriarch with an Armenian counterpart. Personally, and I stress personally, I think that's a bit of a cop out. One bishop per diocese is the rule, but whose bishops are done away with? A volunteer system might work, but what if neither volunteers? This is a scary question, in my opinion. Has this hypothetical question ever been addressed?

I don't have a source for this, but I could've sworn reading more than once that, when this question was asked regarding the Alexandrian Patriarchate, the Greek patriarch (or someone from that side) said that the Greek patriarch would step down and the Coptic patriarch would be "the Patriarch".  True?  I don't know.  Feasible everywhere?  I don't know. 

Personally, while I agree that "one bishop per city" is the canonical principle to follow, I wonder if our collective development has been such that we'd really have to opt, at least at the beginning, for "unity" rather than "integration".  Coptic and Greek traditions, though sharing much, are quite different, and I don't know how you'd have one bishop effectively minister to two very different congregations, with two different rites, music, customs, etc.  It's easier to talk about "one bishop per city" when the rite and the community is basically the same.  That's the benefit EOxy has had for a long time now: the rite is basically the same, the "main" language groups have always been Greek or Slavonic, "music" is usually covered by choirs/chanters, clergy themselves don't really have all that much to sing in the ritual, etc.  This benefit, however, is also a handicap because it prevents EO from being open to accepting anything non-Byzantine.  Among the OO, we generally have one bishop per city except in the diaspora, where each Church has its own bishop(s) because of how different the communities/traditions are.  In our case, it doesn't really cause any problems.  There are Indians all over Africa, and the Indian Metropolitan of London overseas their parishes: there are no problems with either the Coptic or Ethiopian/Eritrean patriarchs, the local churches have good relations and bishops from the other African churches will visit the Indians and vice versa.  There are Armenians in India, and there are no problems there either.  In the long term, maybe solutions would be figured out for how to maintain the spirit of the canon in the face of diversity, but I don't see why this would have to be hammered out in advance of a union.  Of all the things we have to resolve in a sixteen century division, episcopal job descriptions aren't very high on the list to me.  Tongue     
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« Reply #23 on: June 06, 2013, 12:42:14 AM »

I don't have a source for this, but I could've sworn reading more than once that, when this question was asked regarding the Alexandrian Patriarchate, the Greek patriarch (or someone from that side) said that the Greek patriarch would step down and the Coptic patriarch would be "the Patriarch".  True?  I don't know.  Feasible everywhere?  I don't know.

I'm pretty sure someone on here has provided a credible source for this before, and IIRC there was also something similar stated for the Antiochian Patriarchiate.
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« Reply #24 on: June 06, 2013, 08:20:34 AM »

From what I understand, I thought it would be who would outlive the other would become patriarch.  I don't know either.  But to follow along with what Mor Ephrem was saying, just by understanding "American Orthodox" history, we see issues in the department of episcopal jurisdiction of churches with practically the same rite and calendar, and yet even a united Synod is difficult to maintain.  So if the same rite churches can't do it easily, you can imagine this isn't high on the list of priorities among churches with different rites, let alone different conciliar traditions to settle.
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« Reply #25 on: August 16, 2013, 08:57:32 AM »

While I am enthusiastic for a union between our two Churches (although I do not know if a union will ever happen in my lifetime), one thing that worries me is what we're going to do with all the now united bishops and patriarchs in the same jurisdiction. One wise friend of mine suggested that we'd simply be united, not integrated. There'd still be a Coptic Pope in Alexandria, as well as a Greek one and in Constantinople there'd be a Greek Patriarch with an Armenian counterpart. Personally, and I stress personally, I think that's a bit of a cop out. One bishop per diocese is the rule, but whose bishops are done away with? A volunteer system might work, but what if neither volunteers? This is a scary question, in my opinion. Has this hypothetical question ever been addressed?

Forgive this late reply, but I've recently been thinking about this exact question. (Well, almost this exact question. I approach it from a different perspective.)

I have heard countless times that, in the event of reunion between Catholics and Orthodox, we will merge into our respective mother churches -- i.e. the Romanian Catholic Church will merge into the Romanian Orthodox Church, the Melkite Catholic Church will merge into the Antiochian Orthodox Church, etc.

Now, I'm not going to say that this makes no sense. In fact, I think it makes quite a lot of sense. Nevertheless, something bothers me about the absolute confidence with which people assert this claim. (Possibly I would be bothered by just about any claim that began with "In the event of reunion between Catholics and EOs ..." .)

Bottom line, I don't have an answer to your question, but I'm very interested in it since it is essentially the same question we (ECs) have.
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« Reply #26 on: August 16, 2013, 09:55:19 AM »

While I am enthusiastic for a union between our two Churches (although I do not know if a union will ever happen in my lifetime), one thing that worries me is what we're going to do with all the now united bishops and patriarchs in the same jurisdiction. One wise friend of mine suggested that we'd simply be united, not integrated. There'd still be a Coptic Pope in Alexandria, as well as a Greek one and in Constantinople there'd be a Greek Patriarch with an Armenian counterpart. Personally, and I stress personally, I think that's a bit of a cop out. One bishop per diocese is the rule, but whose bishops are done away with? A volunteer system might work, but what if neither volunteers? This is a scary question, in my opinion. Has this hypothetical question ever been addressed?
Keep in mind the Armenian title of "Patriarch" in both Istanbul and Jerusalem are administrative titles held by an archbishop. They have more to do with Ottoman political bureaucracies for sorting out Christian populations than they do actual ecclesiastical rank. The Patriarch of Istanbul has jurisdiction over the Armenian churches and properties in Turkey. The Patriarch of Jerusalem has jurisdiction over the Armenian churches and properties in Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan. Both hold allegiance to the Catholicosate of Etchmiadzin.

Long story short, they're essentially diocesan bishops, but with a different title and a higher profile. I don't really know how that fits in with the one bishop-one city thing, but it's helpful to keep straight the fact that they're not really "patriarchates" in the EO understanding of the term. It's a bit of a peculiarity.
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