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Author Topic: What Oecumenism is (and is not)  (Read 1943 times) Average Rating: 0
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GiC
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« on: March 04, 2005, 01:51:44 AM »

The Purpose of this thread is not to start yet another debate on Oecumenism (though I recognize that there is a good chance that it will degenerate into that), for there are already two or three current ones on this site; however, I seek to make clear what Orthodox Oecumenism is, and what it is not, for there are far too many people arguing against their inaccurate concept of oecumenism, or the protestant approach to oecumenism, and ignoring the way oecumenism is practiced in the Orthodox Church. The debates are far to reminiscent of typical Protestant vs. Catholic or Protestant vs. Orthodox debates online, where the protestants incorrectly define the posistion of their opponent, then attack the straw man.

To this extent, I am posting a link to a set of SCOBA oecumenical guidelines, by Rev. Dr. Robert G. Stephanopoulos, that Dr. Patsavos (Professor of Canon Law, Holy Cross) has students read in his introductory Canon Law class:

http://www.scoba.us/resources/documents/guide_for_orthodox.pdf

I realize that it is long, and would not expect anyone to read it in full (though it's not a bad read); thus, specifically relevant to this issue are the following sections:

'General Ecumenical Principles' (pgs. 7-10)
'Orthodoxy and Other Churches' (pg. 13)
'Worship with Non-Orthodox' (pgs. 16-17)
'Special Common Prayer Practices' (pgs. 17-19)
'Preaching on Ecumenical Occasions' (pg. 20)

It's still a bit of reading, but will tell you exactly what the Orthodox Posistion regarding Oecumenism is. We do not except Branch Theory, or entertain the concept that those out of our Communion are part of the Church; we do, however, recognize a division amongst people who share many common beliefs. We dont advocate concelebration or liturigical prayer with those outside the Church; however, we are willing to pray for a dying person in a hospital even if they are not Orthodox. And while it is never acceptable to compromise the Faith, if we are invited to proclaim it in an Oecumenical fourm, we have a Christian Duty to accept so that the Gospel may be made known to the heterodox. Ultimatley, oecumenism is about discussion and drawing others towards the faith, it is not about compromising the faith; so if we're going to continue debating this issue, let's at least have a basic understanding of what Orthodox Oecumenism actually is (and what it is not).
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« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2005, 03:13:19 AM »

You may say that the ecumenists reject the branch theory... but then the balamand statement calls the Vatican a sister church, and SCOBA has made statements about Papal baptisms being "valid." 

Also I think another misnomer is that it is fanatical Old Calendarists that have been deposed by thier respective mother churches that bring up these objections.  Many Athonite fathers that are under the Patriachate have these objections as do many New Calendarist State Church clerics.  It is a perfectly legitimate position to reject the ecumenical movement, and be in the State Church or the Patriachate - unless of course you think the Athonites should be excomunicated or Metr. Hierotheos Vlachos deposed. 

One last point - what is wrong with the English spelling "ecumenical" or is this part of the inherent fear of English some in GOA seem to exhibit?

Nektarios - who will be under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the next two months (or more) 
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« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2005, 11:15:36 AM »

In every document the oecumenists put out that deals directly with the issue, 'branch theory' is rejected, the myth that they accept it is propagated by people with a clear agenda against the oecumenical movement. In the aritcle on oecumenical guidelines I posted Fr. Stephanopoulos said, 'The Church is one and remains one and visible in the historic Orthodox communion. However, it is painfully obvious that there is a difference between the faith-affirmation of the unity of the Church and the empirical fractured appearance of Christendom.' The Eastern Rite Papal Churches are called 'Sister Churches' not because we believe them to be part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, but rather because we acknowledge that the faith they profess, or at least the vast majority of it, is consonant with Orthodox Christian Dogma: the Statement is Brotherly and Emperical in nature, not Dogmatic or Ecclesiological. Concerning the recognition of Baptisms, Canon VII of the Second Oecumenical Synod accepts Arian Baptisms as Valid; are we to conclude with this that the 150 Most God-Beloved Fathers who Assembled in Constantinople in A.D. 381 regarded the Arians as part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church? Just as the use of the term 'Sister Churches' does not compromise our Ecclesiology, neither does the acceptance of the baptism of certain Heretical (or Schismatic) sects; of course, if we were to strictly follow the Council of Carthage under Cyprian, we in the GOA would also be required to reject the baptisms preformed by ROCOR and even the OCA, rebaptizing those who wished to come to the GOA from either church, as neither is technically in communion with the Oecumenical Throne.

I'm aware that there are anti-oecumenical spokesmen in Canonical Churches, as well as amongst the old-calendarists (their posistion is actually a bit more reasonable than the old-calendarists, for if we were to give into the old-calendarist demands, we would be required to, as mentioned above, reject their Baptisms as invalid, as we already generally reject their priesthood). Concerning these people, they are free to hold this opinion, so long as it does not conflict with the official posistion of their Synod, to whose aruthority the entire local Church, including Bishops, must submit. Concerning Mt. Athos, the Patriarchate grants them a disproportionate level of indulgance because they are a Self-Governed Monastic and Theocratic State, though it should always be remembered by those on Mt. Athos and those around the world, that the Patriarchal Synod, not the Monks of Mt. Athos, have the authority to make decisions in regard to relations with other churches (be they Non-Chalcedonian, Old-Calendarist, Latin, Protestant, et cetera), and the rest of the Church is expected to accept and uphold these decisions.

Concerning 'oecumenical' vs. 'ecumenical' it's not so much of a differentiation between Greek and English as between the Greek '+++¦+¦++-à +++¦+++¦+¦-î-é' and the french 'ecumenic' with the adjectival suffix '-al' added to the end of both. I actually love the English language, and am convinced that it is one of the wonderfully capable language and one of the most Linguistically Inetersting languages ever, with such diverse etymologies and the rapid and profound evolutions of grammar over the last thousand years: I have nothing against English, so long as it is not used in our Divine Services.
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« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2005, 12:40:59 PM »


 
: I have nothing against English, so long as it is not used in our Divine Services.

No English in our Divine Services?
So much for evangelism!

Michael
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« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2005, 01:26:01 PM »

"No English in our Divine Services?"

+Ü+¦++-Ä-é -ë-ü+»-â+¦-ä+¦ -â-ä++ <<GOA>>!
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« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2005, 02:16:44 PM »

" I have nothing against English, so long as it is not used in our Divine Services."

That's funny man! Good joke Smiley  Sts Cyril and Methodius, St Innocent of Alaska, Archbishop Anastasios of Albania, etc., are probably all laughing too at the idea that only Greek should be used in liturgical services  Tongue
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« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2005, 02:49:47 PM »

I have nothing against English, so long as it is not used in our Divine Services.

Hey,
My ex girlfriend of many years goes to Holy Cross. She never told me you guys had such a sense of humor! Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2005, 03:02:01 PM »

I think I found a topic even more controversial than oecumenism or the oecumenical patriarch, namely the language his All-Holiness speaks (or at least an older form of it).  Wink

While I'm sure that there are some parishes around where it may be pastorally beneficial to use English in the Liturgy, if that is the case, fine. I'm not one of those people who would equate the use of English with heresy. However, my personal preference is that the Liturgy be celebrated using the language in which it was written, and in the language in which it was intended to be celebrated. Moreover, the facts that we are under the Omophorion of the Oecumenical Throne and that His All-Holiness both celebrates in, and wishes for all under his Omophorion to celebrate in, Greek are another good reason for us to continue using Greek, which has been used for nearly two thousand years in the Celebration of the Divine Services.
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« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2005, 03:10:10 PM »

I think I found a topic even more controversial than oecumenism or the oecumenical patriarch, namely the language his All-Holiness speaks (or at least an older form of it). Wink

While I'm sure that there are some parishes around where it may be pastorally beneficial to use English in the Liturgy, if that is the case, fine. I'm not one of those people who would equate the use of English with heresy. However, my personal preference is that the Liturgy be celebrated using the language in which it was written, and in the language in which it was intended to be celebrated. Moreover, the facts that we are under the Omophorion of the Oecumenical Throne and that His All-Holiness both celebrates in, and wishes for all under his Omophorion to celebrate in, Greek are another good reason for us to continue using Greek, which has been used for nearly two thousand years in the Celebration of the Divine Services.

Is this true?  Does the EP really want all of the Greek Orthodox parishes in the US to celebrate the liturgy in Greek?  If so, (forgive me for ranting here) that's absolutely ridiculous.  I guess that's a good explanation for why converts generally avoid GOA parishes. 

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« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2005, 03:37:45 PM »

So let me get this straight... it is Ok to sell out Orthodoxy with inter communion with non Chals... and such thins as the balamand statement... but by golly we'll keep Greek in the liturgy. 

I am all for Greek to be used in worship (I actually do most of my daily prayers in Greek).  I have read the Apostolos in Greek, chanted in Greek numerous times .... but that is when many many Greek speakers are present otherwise it is English.  I mean Sts. Kyril and Methodios translated into the language of the people...
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« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2005, 04:28:46 PM »



Is this true? Does the EP really want all of the Greek Orthodox parishes in the US to celebrate the liturgy in Greek? If so, (forgive me for ranting here) that's absolutely ridiculous. I guess that's a good explanation for why converts generally avoid GOA parishes.


It would seem so, Jennifer.
greekischristian, I too thought you were joking. Please consider that less than 10% of Orthodoxy worldwide uses Greek today. And even in Greece they are considering using Modern Grrek so the faithful can understand. Not everyone is like you, +¥+¦+¦-ä+¦-ü+¦++-é, and me and will go to the effort to learn +¦+++¦+++¦.
My own GOA parish is 95+% Hellenes, we use ENGLISH and do not want to go back to Greek solely. I pity our next priest.
You need to rethink this. ALL priests should know Greek, but I can not fathom why my childhhood "Greek School" taught only modern Greek with NO offerings for advanced liturgical Greek.
We Greeks leave ourselves open to the charge of cultural parochialism and ARE guilty.
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« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2005, 05:27:52 PM »

I have thought this through +æ-ü+¦-â-ä+++¦+++«-é, and my concern is not so much the use of English (though Greek is my personal preference), and if I some day have a parish that needs English in the Liturgy I'll use it; however, I do view the increased use of English (and espeically the radical Solus Vulgatus (common language alone) advocates) as symptomatic of a greater problem, namely the decline of Greek (or insert other Orthodox Ethnicity) Culture in America. Which might or might not be a good thing, except for what it is being replaced by: the Individualistic, Capitalistic, Materialistic, Radical, Protestant, American pseudo-culture, which is contrary to and inconsonant with every value Orthodoxy holds dear.

+¥+¦+¦-ä+¼-ü+¦++-é,
The entire point of this thread was to demonstrate that such agreements neither amounted to inter-communion nor watering down the faith. It seems as though I failed in that regard, but succeeded in becomming involved in yet another debate about culture and language. Wink

Jennifer,
Just look through the National Herald, about 90% of all articles dealing with His All-Holiness refer to his disappointment with our Archbishop's ability to maintain Greek culture; but he has good reason to be concerned, for the reasons I mentioned above; and, by the way, I happen to be a convert who is quite happy with the GOA.
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« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2005, 11:16:06 PM »

Greekischristian,

Why should the preservation of Greek [or insert other ethnic identity] culture be a job of the Church? The purpose of the Church is to further the Gospel, and that is not ethnocentric; it is pan-ethnic.

To further pan-ethnic Christian culture, I think it's the Church's job to preserve Christian Hellenism as the vessel by which the Gospel was communicated, and Christian Hellenism is the culture of Romanity that is shared by all Orthodox cultures, but the type of ethnic chauvenism found in some Greek [or insert other ethnic] Orthodox parishes in America is a far cry from the universalist ideology of Christian Roman Hellenism.

You're not a long-time poster on the forum so you might not be aware of the context in which I am writing this; I usually attend liturgies that are all Greek and I personally am in the process of learning both Koine and modern Demotic Greek. I listen to Greek music and generally think things Greek are pretty neat. But other people--most notably my wife--are so turned off by Churches that are all Greek that it has been a real stumbling block to her in her conversion to Orthodoxy. My wife is an immigrant so I can only imagine what a whitebread American must think if s/he sets foot into a Church that is promoting Greek/Serbian/ethnic culture instead of the generic Orthodox culture which we know as Christian Hellenism. And that culture, being universalist, will blend with the aspects of American culture that can be redeemed in the Church.

We had a missions class today and it's quite clear that unless the missions of the Church are mostly in English, they don't succeed statistically, and the ethnic culture is dying off and parishes that are mostly ethnic close much more rapidly than pan-ethnic congregations. His Holiness needs to realize there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING that Archbishop Demetrios can do AT ALL to preserve Greek culture; immigrants lose their culture after 2-3 generations in America. That is just the way it is. I don't lke it, I wish it weren't so, but that's the way it is.

Anastasios
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« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2005, 12:19:32 PM »

However, my personal preference is that the Liturgy be celebrated using the language in which it was written, and in the language in which it was intended to be celebrated.

Greekischristian,

I am quite saddened by what you write here. I have very much enjoyed reading your stimulating posts up until now. I know that your attitude is representative of the attitude of many, so you are by no means alone. It just shows how much Orthodoxy has lost a truly universal view of the Church. There's a lot of hope of regaining this universal attitude, precisely through those who are Orthodox, live in the West, and find in the West what is both good and bad, and affirm the good and reject the bad over time.

Your statement, and I cannot find a more charitible way to say this, is teetering on the edge of heresy. Sad I am not accusing you of anything, it speaks for itself. Why exactly did you want to come here and speak to us barbarians anyway? You must know that you would not have succeeded in making Hellenists out of us. But sadly, your attitude is present in all the "national" Churches. IE If Christ wasn't Russian/Serbain/Ukrainian/Bulgarian/(your nationality of choice here) then certainly all of the apostles were, right? What a sad state of affairs.

Bob
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« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2005, 01:32:57 PM »

Jennifer,
Just look through the National Herald, about 90% of all articles dealing with His All-Holiness refer to his disappointment with our Archbishop's ability to maintain Greek culture; but he has good reason to be concerned, for the reasons I mentioned above; and, by the way, I happen to be a convert who is quite happy with the GOA.

I've never been in the GOA so I don't have many thoughts about it.  Frankly, I never seriously considered it because I'm not Greek.  But if the Ecumenical Patriarch is really more concerned about maintaining Greek culture in the US among the "diaspora" than anything else, then some of the complaints people make about him must have merit. 

Maintaining Greek culture?  Who is he kidding?  What does he think, that Greeks in the US will return to the 'holy land' of Greece one of these days?  Obviously he totally misunderstands the history of this country.  They're not Greeks. They're Americans.  Regardless of whether that's good or bad, it's a fact.  Greek Americans don't live in an ethnic ghetto.  They intermarry with us dreaded barbarians.  Of course like all ethnic groups in this country, they try to hang on to some traditions which is a good thing.  But at the end of the day, they're not Greeks, they're Americans. 

You can try to turn all of the GOA parishes into bulwarks against the americanization of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Greek immigrants but you'll only succeed in alienating them because you see, they've already been americanized. 

I'm sorry for getting on my soapbox here, but the idea of ethnic groups being 'whatever' first and American second is IMHO patently absurd.  That's not to suggest that there aren't negatives about American culture.  Being American doesn't mean being protestant or whatever.  But regardless of the negatives, they're Americans. 

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« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2005, 01:38:15 PM »

However, my personal preference is that the Liturgy be celebrated using the language in which it was written, and in the language in which it was intended to be celebrated.

Someone please correct me if I am mistaken, but I think the Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts was originally written in Latin by Saint Gregory the Dialogist and Pope of Rome.
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« Reply #16 on: March 05, 2005, 01:57:05 PM »

Since this thread is now Completely off topic, I will respond in the new thread 'Christian Culture' +¥+¦+¦-ä+¼-ü+¦++-é started to deal with this this issue.
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