First of all, I would like to say that I highly doubt indulgences are Apostolic. Yes, random Catholic apologist, its very, very logical, but I don't see any evidence for it in Apostolic tradition.
The part about being non-apostolic, is a good point and one which Roman Catholics really have a hard time getting their heads around, thanks in large part to the self-justifications of Cardinal Newman and his theory of "development of doctrine."
You see, right up into the 19th century the Latins really believed their fantasies were "apostolic." If you read the definition of Vatican I on the powers and infalliblity of the Pope, it's very clear
that what is being claimed is that this was a belief of apostolic origin, that had always been believed, but never sufficiently defined.That is absolute nonsense
. There is no nicer way of putting it, because it's such a shockingly dense, or at least incredibly ignorant, thing to claim. And the reality is, most modern Roman Catholics fully understand this. It's even implied to much of what the Vatican now proposes as it's new relationship with the Orthodox Church (and talk of excercising the Papacy in "new ways", etc.)
Thus, a little bit of historical revisionism has come, under the guise of the new (and perhaps even more important) unofficial of Catholicism, "development of doctrine." Such an idea is a wet dream for the medieval scholastics (who were originally, like Thomas Aquinas, actually viewed as being less than "orthodox" by their fellow Latins - Thomas Aquinas was believe it or not, a modernist in his age), as it treats the Apostolic revelation as nothing more than a "seed", a series of foundational assertions, which can be syllogistically built upon, resulting in newer, "logically arrived at" conclusions. Of course this has nothing to do with Christianity - but Latin Christendom has more or less become convinced of it.
So when you deal with Roman Catholics, you'll notice it's very difficult for them to grasp that the non-apostolicity of something argues against it in some wise. That's irrelevent to them - what they're concerned with is if it logically follows, and also if it ultimatly received a papal endorsment. This is why I insist that Roman Catholicism is Christianity co-opted by pagan philosophy and legal positivism.However
, there is another big problem with indulgences, purgatory, etc. as "logical" as it may seem - that being that it is only
logical when one is dealing in faulty, far more basic assumptions and understandings of the economy of salvation. In other words, if you understand the feat of salvation to be the propitiation of God the Father's wrath, with the understanding that sin is essentially an offence of His "honour", then all of the purgatory and indulgences business can
On the other hand, if you reject these too (as Orthodox Christianity does) then you have a big problem - not only are those teachings non-apostolic, but they do not even have a logical basis. This is precisely why St.Mark of Ephesos (who debated the Latin scholars at the false council of Florence-Ferrara) seems at first kind of "weirded out" by the Latin teaching - because it is so fundamentally alien to what he and his brothers (who unfortunately, it turned out were in large part, cowards) understood about the economy of salvation.
Basically, in Orthodoxy, the devil and sin (and mortality) are our problems - not God. He is our Saviour, and loves each and every one of us more than you can possibly imagine.
Since I hold indulgences to be probably unapostolic, I have to deny the probability of the infallibilty of the Pontifex Maximus (not coincidentally, the title of the pagan religious leader of ancient Rome) and the ekklesia in communion with the See of Rome.
I'd be interested to see who bestowed this title upon the Popes. It would explain a few things for me.
I must also highly doubt (I know most Orthodox will take me to task for this) the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin for these reasons: 1) The Assumption had only started to be written about in the 5-6th centuries and 2) these writings of the Fathers were based on/influenced by the Transitus Sanctae Mariae, an apocryphal work condemned by Orthodox bishop of Rome, St. Gelasius in his Decretum Gelasianum, and it was put on the same level as the works of Pelagius and other heretics. In my mind, it cannot be known with a certainty of faith as the Supreme Pontiff demands.
Well, you'll have a hard time as an Orthodox Christian if you reject this teaching, which in Orthodoxy is called the "Dormition of the Mother of God". It's part of the festal calendar, and Church Iconography. However, I would like to say that it is understood in a different sense and with a different emphasis than the Latin teaching on the "assumption."
In Orthodox Christianity, the blessed falling asleep (yes, we insist that the Theotokos did die - though it was the most blessed of reposes precisely because of Her sanctity) of our Lady is understood as a hagiographical detail; in other words, it has significance as an account of how the Mother of God ended Her days on this earth, and was translated into Paradise.
Because for us the Mother of God is the "Saint amongst the Saints" so to speak, obviously we're all
going to have an interest in the life and death of this great Saint - just as individuals may have a special concern about the life of their patron, or nations have a special interest in their "national Saints" (like Ireland and St.Patrick, Serbia and St.Savva, etc.)
From what I understand, the traditions surrounding the Mother of God were fairly well known in Jerusalem, which is where She reposed. After the legalization of Christianity, what had up to then been local traditions about the events of the life of the Mother of God, spread outward - in part because there came requests for relics of the Mother of God (and the Jerusalem Church had to explain why there weren't any for them to have - indeed this is a peculiar absence in the entirity of Christendom, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Nestorian, Anti-Chalcedonian, etc.)
Thus, while this is a supremely important hagiographical detail (which btw. has been confirmed innumerable times in the lives of Saints and through miracles), it does not hold the same place that Christological doctrines or soteriological teachings would. Why? Precisely because, while we love the Mother of God, She is not our Saviour - Christ is. She is not central to the Gospel, but rather it's supreme beneficiary. This is why the Orthodox Church fundamentally had a problem with what the Vatican started doing in the 19th and 20th century with "dogmas" about the Mother of God - regardless of whether or not what was being said was true (basically, "immaculate conception" is not true, where as "the assumption" is basically true, but doesn't reflect the sense and fullness of the ecclessiastical traditions surrounding this event).
IOW, making a dogma about the Mother of God's life, for us, is as unnecessary as making "dogmas" about the life, exploits, martyrdom, etc. of any Saint.
You'll find other ecclessiastical traditions like this universally through the Church as well, though undoubtedly knowledge of them started locally in the place where they took place and took time to spread - for example, the martyrdom of Sts.Peter and Paul. You will not find an Orthodox hagiography that says this did not occur in Rome, or that St.Peter was not crucified (upside down) or that St.Paul was not beheaded. Indeed, there are even famous details of this that are generally accepted, like St.Peter's encounter (as he was fleeing Rome from those who sought his life) with our Lord on the way out of Rome - he asked Christ, "Lord, where are you going?" to which the Saviour replies "I am going to Rome, to be crucified"...and at this, St.Peter followed Him and met his glorious martyrdom.
Because the Church resides in the fullness of grace (being the Body of Christ), Orthodox tend not to be overly cynical about things which providence has allowed to become generally accepted among genuine believers and Saints.
Catholicism feels so right to me, but, in all conscience, I don't know if I can accept it.
I understand the feeling, to the extent I used to attend the traditional ("Tridentine") Latin Mass, and was not going to some crazy hoot or "folk Mass" or what have you. I was pretty much in as good a place as you could be, while being a Roman Catholic.
And still, my conscience never really left me alone.
I think if you find an Orthodox Church where you feel comfortable (or at least sense you will
come to feel comfortable once you get to know the Priest and become familiar with the people, the Liturgy, etc.), you'll be fine. This was my own experience.