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Author Topic: Traditional Roman Catholicism versus Orthodox Christianity  (Read 311 times) Average Rating: 0
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charitydawn725
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« on: Yesterday at 02:31:24 AM »

Hi everyone!

My name is Charity, and I'm fairly new to this forum. I just wanted to ask for some advice and prayers on the journey I'm on right now. I grew up as a protestant in a southern Baptist church. My parents were fairly religious, took us to church every week, read us the Bible, prayed with us 2-3 times a day, etc. I had a very good childhood and my parents were very good at encouraging faith in God and interest in the church. Something always felt like it was missing in the bareness of the church, the way the Lord's Supper was done, and in the meanings of various doctrines, but I couldn't figure out quite what it was. I entered college, and met my current boyfriend, Chris. He mentioned he was catholic early on, but it wasn't until we had gone on several dates and "officially" started dating that religion was brought up in any depth. We discovered the similarities in our beliefs and the differences. He explained to me that he was a traditionalist catholic and that he had grown up being taught that Vatican II was an invalid council, every pope since the 1960s is invalid, and that the Roman Catholic church has been invaded by modernism and false decrees. I attended mass with him several times and loved the tridentine mass, the choir, the respect, and the "fullness of the faith," so to speak. The sacraments suddenly made baptism, communion, and other concepts make more sense than they did in the protestant church where they weren't treated as special. I struggled with various doctrines and issues (mostly Marian doctrines, original sin, and smaller issues, such as baptism by sprinkling), but I figured I could get through these issues and find a way to join what I had come to believe was the true faith. I absolutely believe in scripture, tradition, and the Christian faith, so I thought I had four options. Protestantism seemed lacking in spirituality and in many other areas. Modern Catholicism was almost no different than Protestantism. All I knew about Orthodoxy was that I'd heard that they "stood the whole service" and "didn't believe you could truly know God." Traditional Catholicism seemed to be the way to go. I got to the point about 8 months ago where I was talking to priests and thinking about converting. Then, I discovered the Orthodox faith in it's fullness. I was reading online, and this line caught my eye. "Catholics believe the pope is the head of the church; Orthodox Christians believe Christ is the ultimate head of the church." I don't know why that interested me so much, but it did. I was sent on a crazy spiritual journey of reading, conversing, and finally attending my first Divine Liturgy. It was beautiful. I felt my five senses become engaged as well as my heart and mind, I felt the presence of Christ. Right there, I decided that this was worth my time looking into. Everyone after the service was very friendly and invited me to various events, introduced themselves, and answered all the questions I had. Through more research, I realized Orthodoxy had everything that Protestantism didn't, but I didn't have to accept the doctrines of purgatory, original sin, the immaculate conception, and other Catholic doctrines that appeared to go against tradition and scripture. I have many Orthodox Christian friends, both in person and in Facebook groups who are helping me in my journey. However, this is where the part that needs prayers comes in. My boyfriend is very strong in his faith and consistently brings up points that seem to contradict Orthodox teaching. They can usually be disproved, but some of them make me question Orthodoxy. I see a lot of comparison of modern Catholicism and Orthodoxy on these boards, but I suppose this situation is a little different. I haven't been able to find much about traditional Catholicism as their masses are still very much intact from hundreds of years ago, the idea of remaining true to the faith, and apostolic succession are still very much there. However, they are there in Orthodoxy, too. I suppose I'm struggling with trying to determine whose claims of apostolic succession are correct? Did the pope really have the authority to define certain dogmas all along? Peter was the first among equals, absolutely, but was he the true head of the church? Or were all the bishops equal? I know the Catholic and Orthodox answers to each one of these questions, but I don't know what to think. If any of you have advice, proof of what the early church thought on these matters, or even prayers for me, Chris, and my situation, I would appreciate more than you know. I apologize this was so long! I'll be looking forward to your responses.  Smiley
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xOrthodox4Christx
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« Reply #1 on: Yesterday at 03:00:10 AM »

I've never found a reason to take "Roman Catholics" who don't even have a Pope seriously. That is, except when they make arguments against Protestantism or the Pope that I can relate to.

Quote
I suppose I'm struggling with trying to determine whose claims of apostolic succession are correct? Did the pope really have the authority to define certain dogmas all along? Peter was the first among equals, absolutely, but was he the true head of the church? Or were all the bishops equal?

Well, according to matters of history, all ancient Churches have Apostolic Succession although Constantinople's is arguably contrived a bit.

Did the Pope have authority to define dogmas? Well, he didn't in any of the original seven councils. They all happened in the East without Papal supervision.

As for the last two, you'll need to clarify a bit. I don't understand why Peter being head of the Church is relevant to the difference between traditional Catholicism and Orthodoxy, since anti-Vatican trad Caths are not even in communion with the Bishop of Rome in the first place.

Anyway, there's a lot written there so if I missed any of your questions I apologize since it's a lot to read over.

My advice, don't rush it. Take your time to feel comfortable about each side, and learning about the issues and deciding when you are ready to. That's what I'm doing, and I haven't felt the urgent need to become Orthodox because I'm taking my time to evaluate what I believe and make a judgment when I think the time is right.

Welcome to the forum Charity.
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 03:07:51 AM by xOrthodox4Christx » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: Yesterday at 03:08:26 AM »

Well, according to matters of history, all ancient Churches have Apostolic Succession although Constantinople's is arguably contrived a bit.

I know what you're trying to say, but you're saying it wrong.  Constantinople's apostolic succession has never been called into question.  Tracing the lineage of the See back specifically to St Andrew, on the other hand, has.
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charitydawn725
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« Reply #3 on: Yesterday at 03:34:52 AM »

I've never found a reason to take "Roman Catholics" who don't even have a Pope seriously. That is, except when they make arguments against Protestantism or the Pope that I can relate to.

Quote
I suppose I'm struggling with trying to determine whose claims of apostolic succession are correct? Did the pope really have the authority to define certain dogmas all along? Peter was the first among equals, absolutely, but was he the true head of the church? Or were all the bishops equal?

Well, according to matters of history, all ancient Churches have Apostolic Succession although Constantinople's is arguably contrived a bit.

Did the Pope have authority to define dogmas? Well, he didn't in any of the original seven councils. They all happened in the East without Papal supervision.

As for the last two, you'll need to clarify a bit. I don't understand why Peter being head of the Church is relevant to the difference between traditional Catholicism and Orthodoxy, since anti-Vatican trad Caths are not even in communion with the Bishop of Rome in the first place.

Anyway, there's a lot written there so if I missed any of your questions I apologize since it's a lot to read over.

My advice, don't rush it. Take your time to feel comfortable about each side, and learning about the issues and deciding when you are ready to. That's what I'm doing, and I haven't felt the urgent need to become Orthodox because I'm taking my time to evaluate what I believe and make a judgment when I think the time is right.

Welcome to the forum Charity.

Thank you for the welcome! Let me try to clarify a bit more on my other two questions.
1-I believe the Orthodox church considers Peter the first among equals as far as the bishops go. Catholics consider him the first pope (or the first head of the church, whether they are traditional or not. Although the traditionalists do not currently believe there is a valid pope, they do believe in the first 1930 years or so of popes. So, it is true that the question holds no water today as to whether the pope's decrees are valid. However, there have been dogmas defined by the pope since the Great Schism, so it's important to me to know if that pope had the authority as the head of the church to define those dogmas or if he was simply the first among equals and was wrong in his decisions to make decrees without his equal bishops surrounding him.
2-This question played off the former, but I was asking if the bishops were all equal, and if so, what would be the best places to read evidence of this?
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« Reply #4 on: Yesterday at 04:03:58 AM »

1. Peter is the head of the Apostles in Orthodoxy, he has no relation to the Pope except that Peter ordained Linus to be his successor. As far as I am aware, that's all the Orthodox view is on it, but I'll let others respond since I don't have all of the answers as to what Orthodox think about this.

2. Dunno, I would ask the opposite question actually. Where could I find every Bishop submitting to the Pope in the way that say, Pope Gregory VII defined in Dictatus Papae? But yeah, I don't have an answer for you there, I'm curious what others answers would be though, since it's a good question.
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« Reply #5 on: Yesterday at 09:37:57 AM »

Charity-

Welcome. I am, myself, a convert to Orthodoxy from a traditionalist Catholic background. My conversion was entirely intellectual in that I emotionally felt, and perhaps always will, attached to the ancient Roman Rite and Roman Mass. However I came up against what I believe to be solid arguments favoring the Orthodox claims.

Here are some resources that helped me regarding the history of the Papacy. Some of these are little dry and heady but they sufficiently explain the issues:

http://www.americancatholictruthsociety.com/articles/deb_papacy/   I'm actually surprised that this is on a Catholic site since the Orthodox debater does an excellent job dismantling the Roman arguments.

http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/Guettee_ThePapacy.pdf  This author was a Roman Catholic priest in 19th century France who converted to Orthodoxy.

Check The Vatican Dogma which can be found on this website.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Primacy-Peter-Essays-Ecclesiology/dp/0881411256  Very fair and honest assessment of the role of St Peter in the early Church as well as the development of the Papacy.

That should keep you busy for a while  Wink
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« Reply #6 on: Yesterday at 11:47:34 AM »


Thank you for the welcome! Let me try to clarify a bit more on my other two questions.
1-I believe the Orthodox church considers Peter the first among equals as far as the bishops go. Catholics consider him the first pope (or the first head of the church, whether they are traditional or not. Although the traditionalists do not currently believe there is a valid pope, they do believe in the first 1930 years or so of popes. So, it is true that the question holds no water today as to whether the pope's decrees are valid. However, there have been dogmas defined by the pope since the Great Schism, so it's important to me to know if that pope had the authority as the head of the church to define those dogmas or if he was simply the first among equals and was wrong in his decisions to make decrees without his equal bishops surrounding him.
2-This question played off the former, but I was asking if the bishops were all equal, and if so, what would be the best places to read evidence of this?

The first Bishop of Rome was Linus. Even the Catholics say this. Peter was the first Bishop of Antioch, so why isn't the Vatican in Antioch?
The method of church governance was conciliar - the Bishop of Rome did not preside or decide.
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« Reply #7 on: Yesterday at 07:19:10 PM »

Hi, Charity.

I will concede that your boyfriend's perspective is a bit different than the usual Catholic v. Orthodox squabbles. However, I have never understood how the sedevacantist thesis is the answer to the problems afflicting the Catholic Church. I believe that he correctly identifies a discontinuity between the pre-Vatican II and post-Vatican II Church, but the sedevacantist solution seems like a strange solution. This theory has to posit that an antipope can exist without a corresponding pope - a situation unprecedented in history. Furthermore, it requires us to believe that the very institution Christ established to infallibly safeguard the Catholic Faith only exists as an idea, purportedly exercised for half a century by false claimants - false claimants, mind you, regarded as true popes by virtually the entire Catholic and non-Catholic world. Why does Christ require us to adopt conspiracy theories and perform mental gymnastics to remain in the apostolic Faith?

I agree with your boyfriend's view that something is very wrong in the modern Catholic Church. However, I think the much simpler explanation, painful though it may be to express for those who love the traditional Roman liturgy, is that the Roman Catholic understanding of papacy is fundamentally erroneous. You simply cannot reconcile Unam Sanctam, the Syllabus of Errors or Mortalium Animos with Vatican II - certainly the popular understanding of Vatican II. Reconciling the plain sense of those older documents with the the plain sense of the documents of Vatican II requires a tremendous amount of mental gymnastics and sophistry - things I cannot believe Christ requires of us. Besides that, how is that the very institution that claims to be the guardian of Tradition is the one that destroyed the Roman liturgy? That has continued to appoint bishops that have overseen the dismantling of Catholic culture throughout the world?

To me a much neater solution is that the Popes of Rome has been puffing a lot of hot air for centuries. No mental gymnastics are required to reconcile Pope Boniface VIII with Pope Paul VI if neither one is infallible and papal teaching is not the sine qua non of Christian dogma. Papal teaching would then be weighed like the teaching of any bishop - if it is consonant with the received Faith defined chiefly by the Ecumenical Councils and handed on in the Church's liturgy and the writings of her saints, it is to be received obediently. If it doesn't, then we reject it outright. The sedevacantist is actually halfway there - he already weighs the post-Vatican II magisterium, finds it wanting, and rejects it. He just needs to see that the problem is the conception of the papacy that has obtained in the Roman Church for over a millennium.
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« Reply #8 on: Yesterday at 07:47:35 PM »

I believe that he correctly identifies a discontinuity between the pre-Vatican II and post-Vatican II Church, but the sedevacantist solution seems like a strange solution. This theory has to posit that an antipope can exist without a corresponding pope - a situation unprecedented in history.

The conclavist solution is arguably more consistent, since at least then there is a "true pope", albeit one accepted by only his friends and neighbors. However, it still doesn't seem very Vincentian, does it? Why would the false church be hundreds of thousands of times larger than the true one?
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