Thursday, May 02, 2013

Catholicism and Orthodoxy again, continued

A long reply to Ordo Antiquus under one of yesterday's posts.
Anti-Orthodoxy is alive and well in Catholic circles: one only has to count how many times the Orthodox are dismissed as mere puppets of their governments (as if Catholicism, especially colonial-era Catholicism, had no failings in this regard) or how many Catholics routinely reason that Orthodox are Orthodox only because they don't want to be Catholic, it's all about "being ethnic" and "being ignorant".

As for "Catholicism and Orthodoxy are the same", I don't think even the Holy See buys that: one only has to remember how the CDF shot down the Zoghby initiative in 1997, or how the CDF has not given official approval to the Ravenna Document to this very day (it is "not an official declaration of Church teaching", as the Vatican webpage on it clearly states), or how the brand-new official Ukrainian Catholic catechism "Christ our Pascha" accepts the Western Councils (Florence, Vatican I) as Ecumenical Councils.
Heh. Touché. Anyway, again, Catholics hardly ever criticize or even talk about Orthodoxy; very different from Orthodox apologists ranting to deny the obvious, that at heart Orthodoxy's Catholic.

My guess is we'll never reunite despite being estranged parts of sacramentally the same church. One side would have to give in; I don't see the Russians, the world's most important Orthodox, doing that. (I like Putin and his country.) It won't happen because we're so alike! Thing is, we both claim we're the true church. So even though we're essentially the same, we're also mutually exclusive. Being Catholic means being un-Orthodox and vice versa because we believe differently about the scope of the Pope. Not the same as HATING the Orthodox (we don't!); Orthodox apologists hate us. (Rank-and-file Orthodox usually don't.)

Every positive doctrinal statement in Orthodoxy is true. We say Orthodoxy IS Catholicism but in first-millennium form on paper. Not Protestantism for example. So what's the problem with the Zoghby Initiative? My guess is it's because of post-schism Orthodox opinion about the scope of the Pope. Because the Orthodox have never defined that as doctrine, we give them the benefit of the doubt. But the trouble with the Zoghby Initiative is it's a full-fledged branch theory, denying Catholicism's true-church claim.

That's the problem with Greek Catholicism's tiny minority of non-ethnic/convert 'Orthodox in communion with Rome' (OicwR), which here means they're under Rome but agree with the Orthodox about the papacy. Huh? The Zoghby Initiative's fans. Neither good Catholics nor good Orthodox; in terms of accepting church authority, more like Protestants who happen to agree with the Orthodox. Like our liberal high-church cousins among the Episcopalians, largely orthodox but on their own terms, not our holy mother, the church's. Most OicwRs seem to eventually get fed up and convert to Orthodoxy; logical. (You also get a few moderate versions of that who get fed up with Greek Catholics' self-latinizations, which aren't Rome's fault, and convert.)

As my good friend Bill Tighe likes to point out about high-church Anglicans and conservative Old Catholics such as the Union of Scranton, while the consensus of pre-'Reformation' belief gives you Catholicism more or less (so the Union of Scranton's not Protestant), no pre-'Reformation' church, even the ancient heretics, believed the true church was divided; they each thought/think they were/are the true one. A true branch theory is as contradictory and relativistic as those 'Coexist' bumper stickers displayed by well-meaning people who don't understand Christianity. (Politically I'm secular. Based on the golden rule, our mutually exclusive faiths CAN coexist. But anyway.)

Sure, Byzantine and tsarist symphonia of church and state's a lot like the historic relation of the Catholic Church and various states. That said, a reason tyrants such as the Communists HATE Catholicism, outlawing the Ukrainian Catholic Church for example, is they can't control it. Like the 16th-century English government's turning against the church, and Red China forcing Catholics into schism. (Like the Protestants in 1840s America and the 1920s Ku-Klux Klan complaining about immigrants owing allegiance to 'a Roman dictator'; SWPLs hate us for the same reason but are cleverer expressing it.) The Communists literally beat the official Russian Orthodox Church into submission (Metropolitan/Patriarch Sergius was a tragic figure) but ultimately Greek Catholics wouldn't give in (NO Greek Catholic bishops signed onto the Communist-backed councils declaring reunion with Orthodoxy).

Requiring Eastern Catholics to accept Western definitions of doctrine (Ferrara-Florence and Vatican I, for example) is not in itself anti-Eastern. It's logical from the true-church claim. Actually, Rome has long told Eastern Catholics NOT to latinize (I agree yet don't mind latinizations if they're old); they've largely disobeyed. (Rather, Rome says: liturgically copy the Orthodox et al.; accept the Western teachings but express them in an Eastern way, which I know good Orthodox believe impossible. Eastern Catholics aren't even supposed to have the filioque in the creed!) Again, we don't hate the Christian East; quite the opposite.

1 comment:

  1. "That said, a reason tyrants such as the Communists HATE Catholicism, outlawing the Ukrainian Catholic Church for example, is they can't control it."

    Murray Rothbard, who was an agnostic Jew married to a lukewarm Presbyterian, ascribed the development of a relatively decentralized, liberal society in Western Europe largely to the existence of a transnational Papacy, which was much harder for rulers to control (though goodness knows they tried often enough) than the state religions found in nearly every other human civilization in history. Plenty of Orthodox bishops have resisted the state, and plenty of Popes have rubber-stamped whatever secular rulers wanted, but it was always easier for the Tsar to ensure a compliant replacement in Moscow than it was for the Holy Roman Emperor or the Kings of England and France to ensure a compliant replacement in Rome. Decentralized Northern Italy, for example, could not ruled by any one state for any great length of time, largely because of the perpetually stalemated conflict between Ghibelline and Guelph. Protestant liberals and Catholic anti-liberals are fond of the old Whig History narrative which presents the decentralized, liberal order as a creation of Anglo-Saxon Protestantism, but most serious historical scholarship since the 1950s doesn't take this at all seriously.

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