Author Topic: Working with Roman Catholic organizations: Why not?  (Read 916 times)

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Offline NicholasMyra

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Working with Roman Catholic organizations: Why not?
« on: November 07, 2017, 02:27:20 AM »
The question arises: How do we get Orthodox ministries off the ground in Europe and the Americas?

We can pool our money in an Orthodox charity that does work mostly far away from the average hometown (FOCUS), or be part of a women’s or men’s club organization of the old sort (Philoptochos) or start a ministry or chapter of our own.
A ministry or chapter startup is extremely difficult to sustain with our low population of active members in your average city. And it is a large and demanding effort to do from scratch... and is prone to failure without a large, flexible (read: with some downtime), dedicated base of people.

For those ministries that concern charity and acts of mercy, the Roman Catholics have the infrastructure and presence to do it. Nobody else in the western world does to the same degree. I think it makes sense to start working with these organizations, and then expand into our own organizations only when we have sufficient number of dedicated members and a real need.

The main opposition I see is the fear of proselytizing from the Roman Catholics, the appearance of endorsing branch theory, and the consequences of our doctrinal and practical differences with the Roman Catholics. Suffice it to say, upon examination, none of these is a necessary or even likely problem, certainly not one that should keep us from starting humble with the Roman Catholics. I think in our guts the fear is really that we (as individuals) will lose a little bit of our personal brand recognition/obscurity cred, apart from anything really Christian or Orthodox, but I think we can stomach that in humility.

Thoughts? In my city, each large Orthodox church works one week a month with one St. Martin de Porres men’s shelter.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2017, 02:38:20 AM by NicholasMyra »
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Offline Volnutt

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Re: Working with Roman Catholic organizations: Why not?
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2017, 02:35:51 AM »
Makes perfect sense to me, at any rate. Fwiw.
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Offline William T

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Re: Working with Roman Catholic organizations: Why not?
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2017, 02:39:09 AM »
 I've been wondering this for some time now.  Were I an Orthodox big wig, that would probably be my pet project.  I have always thought we should consider more joint ventures with Catholics especially in more secular things like Hospitals, Hospices, Nursing homes,  recovery programs, shelters, schools and stuff like that.  To me it seems obvious, and makes good practical sense.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2017, 02:39:36 AM by William T »

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Re: Working with Roman Catholic organizations: Why not?
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2017, 05:29:11 PM »
For those ministries that concern charity and acts of mercy, the Roman Catholics have the infrastructure and presence to do it. Nobody else in the western world does to the same degree. I think it makes sense to start working with these organizations, and then expand into our own organizations only when we have sufficient number of dedicated members and a real need.

For those of us in smaller cities/towns that don't have an Orthodox presence outside our home address, the RCC seems to offer the best infrastructure on the ground for working with others to perform the works of mercy without the ideological hiccups  that you might find in some sectarian bodies (e.g. handing out questionable tracts along with food, requiring membership in a congregation to get services, etc.).
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Offline William T

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Re: Working with Roman Catholic organizations: Why not?
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2017, 11:30:03 AM »
For those ministries that concern charity and acts of mercy, the Roman Catholics have the infrastructure and presence to do it. Nobody else in the western world does to the same degree. I think it makes sense to start working with these organizations, and then expand into our own organizations only when we have sufficient number of dedicated members and a real need.

For those of us in smaller cities/towns that don't have an Orthodox presence outside our home address, the RCC seems to offer the best infrastructure on the ground for working with others to perform the works of mercy without the ideological hiccups  that you might find in some sectarian bodies (e.g. handing out questionable tracts along with food, requiring membership in a congregation to get services, etc.).

That's probably the same with bigger cities as well.  I just don't see all the Chicago or Detroit area parishes getting together for something like that unless there was some ambitious wealthy patronage with a vision.  I don't think they're structured or set up to think in those terms.   I think what you need ultimately is a national pan orthodox organization that knows how to work with parishes in the city and connect itself to the RCC in joint ventures.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2017, 11:30:58 AM by William T »

Offline Cognomen

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Re: Working with Roman Catholic organizations: Why not?
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2017, 12:30:12 PM »
I think what you need ultimately is a national pan orthodox organization that knows how to work with parishes in the city and connect itself to the RCC in joint ventures.

If possible, I do think it's important to retain some sort of Orthodox identity during these endeavors, even if we're working with the RCC or other Xtian entities. While helping folk is obviously a critical goal of charitable ministries, I have also seen Orthodox contributions get swallowed up in broader branch theory/many churches/everyone's-the-same efforts.

I'm not overly familiar with FOCUS, but IOCC seems to be well run. Understanding that they have an international focus, hence the IOCC, could they be a platform to expand and interact with other groups, as they do in disaster relief?

But like you identified, Nick, it's likely unrealistic to think that many areas can support a viable Orthodox charity of meaningful size or effectiveness. Perhaps some sort of distinct auxiliary capacity, which would have some level of affiliation with an Orthodox parent-group, could assist. Again, I refer to IOCC, as they seem to have some pedigree.

And ultimately, as William T mentioned, a national pan-Orthodox group would be ideal, even if it is primarily used to supplement other efforts.
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Re: Working with Roman Catholic organizations: Why not?
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2017, 12:36:09 PM »
For those ministries that concern charity and acts of mercy, the Roman Catholics have the infrastructure and presence to do it. Nobody else in the western world does to the same degree. I think it makes sense to start working with these organizations, and then expand into our own organizations only when we have sufficient number of dedicated members and a real need.

For those of us in smaller cities/towns that don't have an Orthodox presence outside our home address, the RCC seems to offer the best infrastructure on the ground for working with others to perform the works of mercy without the ideological hiccups  that you might find in some sectarian bodies (e.g. handing out questionable tracts along with food, requiring membership in a congregation to get services, etc.).

That's probably the same with bigger cities as well.  I just don't see all the Chicago or Detroit area parishes getting together for something like that unless there was some ambitious wealthy patronage with a vision.  I don't think they're structured or set up to think in those terms.   I think what you need ultimately is a national pan orthodox organization that knows how to work with parishes in the city and connect itself to the RCC in joint ventures.

Isn't that kind of what Philoptochos is, or are they too confined to just working with Greek parishes?
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Offline William T

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Re: Working with Roman Catholic organizations: Why not?
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2017, 06:43:39 PM »
For those ministries that concern charity and acts of mercy, the Roman Catholics have the infrastructure and presence to do it. Nobody else in the western world does to the same degree. I think it makes sense to start working with these organizations, and then expand into our own organizations only when we have sufficient number of dedicated members and a real need.

For those of us in smaller cities/towns that don't have an Orthodox presence outside our home address, the RCC seems to offer the best infrastructure on the ground for working with others to perform the works of mercy without the ideological hiccups  that you might find in some sectarian bodies (e.g. handing out questionable tracts along with food, requiring membership in a congregation to get services, etc.).

That's probably the same with bigger cities as well.  I just don't see all the Chicago or Detroit area parishes getting together for something like that unless there was some ambitious wealthy patronage with a vision.  I don't think they're structured or set up to think in those terms.   I think what you need ultimately is a national pan orthodox organization that knows how to work with parishes in the city and connect itself to the RCC in joint ventures.

Isn't that kind of what Philoptochos is, or are they too confined to just working with Greek parishes?

no clue, I'm just thinking out loud.  I don't know much about those kind of groups. I wouldn't be surprised if something like that existed.  But based off my anecdotal experience I haven't noticed much.  I'm just thinking if something were going to be effective it would have to probably follow that model so an Orthodox charity could punch above its weight level, and be more effective in works of mercy.


If possible, I do think it's important to retain some sort of Orthodox identity during these endeavors, even if we're working with the RCC or other Xtian entities. While helping folk is obviously a critical goal of charitable ministries, I have also seen Orthodox contributions get swallowed up in broader branch theory/many churches/everyone's-the-same efforts.


I would imagine so.  If you  were part of a hospital group, it would show up on the sign.  You may also be able to nudge your way in using various Saint Names that we share with Catholics that aren't used much in the West for naming things; St. Basil's Hospitall for example may end up signaling it would be a Catholic - Orthodox joint venture.  Things like crosses and other sacred  art may end up reflecting an Orthodox twist on things when the design is given, and so forth, if I were to guess.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2017, 06:45:13 PM by William T »

Offline Alpha60

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Re: Working with Roman Catholic organizations: Why not?
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2018, 08:49:04 AM »
The question arises: How do we get Orthodox ministries off the ground in Europe and the Americas?

We can pool our money in an Orthodox charity that does work mostly far away from the average hometown (FOCUS), or be part of a women’s or men’s club organization of the old sort (Philoptochos) or start a ministry or chapter of our own.
A ministry or chapter startup is extremely difficult to sustain with our low population of active members in your average city. And it is a large and demanding effort to do from scratch... and is prone to failure without a large, flexible (read: with some downtime), dedicated base of people.

For those ministries that concern charity and acts of mercy, the Roman Catholics have the infrastructure and presence to do it. Nobody else in the western world does to the same degree. I think it makes sense to start working with these organizations, and then expand into our own organizations only when we have sufficient number of dedicated members and a real need.

The main opposition I see is the fear of proselytizing from the Roman Catholics, the appearance of endorsing branch theory, and the consequences of our doctrinal and practical differences with the Roman Catholics. Suffice it to say, upon examination, none of these is a necessary or even likely problem, certainly not one that should keep us from starting humble with the Roman Catholics. I think in our guts the fear is really that we (as individuals) will lose a little bit of our personal brand recognition/obscurity cred, apart from anything really Christian or Orthodox, but I think we can stomach that in humility.

Thoughts? In my city, each large Orthodox church works one week a month with one St. Martin de Porres men’s shelter.

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