Monday, July 15, 2013

Catholic (universal) vs. Orthodox (authentic)

Of course it’s a false opposition.
I am still somewhat on the border between Catholicism and Orthodoxy, and I think the dilemma for me lies in the meaning of the two names. I like the Catholic Church because of its influence of European history, cohesiveness, organization, size, and lack of ethnic divisions. I think this all can relate back to the universality of the Catholic Church in history as well as modern society. However, I disagree with them on several points of theology, i.e. Immaculate Conception, purgatory, papal infallibility. The Orthodox Church does not have these theological problems, and they have stayed more authentic by said pure theology (hence Orthodox). However, they have been more obscure since the Schism, they are divided on ethnic boundaries, and especially the non-ethnic Orthodox denominations (i.e. OCA) are not at all well organized episcopally. My main dilemma comes down to whether I want a church that is more influential, universal, and organized or more pure, true, and limited. Any thoughts?
I enter the discussion here.

24 comments:

  1. You were outnumbered and yet held your ground! Excellent work, John.

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  2. John, I am surprised you are still participating in OC.net after all these years. Venite left long ago. Me too. I tired of all the polemics.

    BTW, it all comes down to which one is THE ONE TRUE CHURCH (to Hell with the subsist of the CCC). It really isn't about the particular version of the Roman Rite's Divine Liturgy, or improperly behaving "show off" priests at the altar, or communion in the hand, which Church has the better Church polity, . . . . It's not even about Latin, although I think Latin is the only way to go! LOL Other religions have their sacred languages, e.g., Hebrew, Classical Arabic . . . .

    Not saying the other Church is false and I am not resorting to that defective Vatican 2 decree "Dignitatis Humanae" to justify this. As far as I can tell, DH is not de fide because it is a decree and not a dogmatic constitution.

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    1. I wasn’t for a long time; a couple of years? Just honing my debating skills now. The convert hyperdox hermans don’t listen to you and the few liberalized ethnics there are just like our version.

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    2. You are a braver soul than I am, John. I would rather have a root canal than hang out at such a place. In a real sense, it's "enemy territory." Not that it should be, of course, given how close we are to the Orthodox...but many Internet Orthodox do tend to be the polemical type, and one does get sooooo weary of dealing with the same tired old canards, over and over and over again.

      I commend you for your intestinal fortitude, but I don't have much myself. Plus, I get my Irish up and lose my Italian temper far too easily. (I have a t-shirt that says: "WARNING: Irish temper, Italian attitude." A volatile combination, LOL.)

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    3. No truer words spoken. I have hardly posted there over the last two or three years.

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    4. As a fairly newly minted Orthodox I lasted about maybe a month there, maybe less. I recall having my head chopped off about the Rosary. I went to seminary with the owner of the forum, a very good man who I count as a friend. He is, of course, an Old Calendar Greek, and he's far more moderate and charitable than many a poster there.

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    5. He and I were friends a little over 10 years ago, including when he was in your Orthodox seminary. The irony of our friendship from the beginning was why we lost contact; we were moving in opposite directions. I approached him as part of my long, drawn-out return to the Catholic Church, because he was Catholic, but he was moving away from the church, taking a familiar path from liturgically Orthodox Greek Catholic convert (he was born Lutheran), then, fed up with the latinizations, to dissenter 'Orthodox in communion with Rome' (him in seminary), to hardline Orthodox priest.

      (For most OicwRs, as with him, OicwR's a phase as they leave the church; they're honest and become Orthodox when they realize they're no longer Catholic. Better than remaining OciwR, thinking you're better than both churches.)

      I had the honor of being at his wedding, serving in the altar of his then-church, Ruthenian Greek Catholic; afterwards I called it, saying he'd end up a Greek Orthodox priest. I never said which kind of Greek Orthodox! Glad you're still in touch. Send him and Michaela my best, and I'm sure he wouldn't be surprised I'm Catholic.

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  3. Good work flying the banner of the True Religion over there. One point I would quibble a bit with. Vatican II very clearly taught that abortion is, to use the words of the Council documents, "an abominable crime." Not a sin only, but a crime as well -- in other words, something to be prevented and punished by the secular authorities. While there is no question that the Latin Rite went nutty in the late 1960's and the 1970's, I don't think that the problem of Pelosi Catholics can be set at the feet of the Council. Of course, I don't have a problem with what the Council SAID -- with what the liberals did with the "Spirit of Vatican 2" is atrocious and that's where the problems started. A clear application of the actual texts of Vatican II would leave us with all the good parts (hello religious liberty, goodbye anti-Semitism) along with lots of great stuff that got jettisoned along the way (let's pay more attention to the Bible, keep the Mass in Latin with a little vernacularization to help people understand the liturgy better, etc.).

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  4. "to Hell with the subsist of the CCC"

    "Not saying the other Church is false"

    How do these two sentiments not contradict each other?

    The whole point of the "subsist" language is to articulate how the unique claim of the Catholic Church does not exclude the recognition of valid orders and sacraments in the Eastern Orthodox Churches. What is it about Vatican II that makes people who apparently believe exactly what it says continually damn it?

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    1. What is it about Vatican II that makes people who apparently believe exactly what it says continually damn it?

      A bunch of closed churches and schools here, in what was part of America's Catholic stronghold 50 years ago, and most of the remaining ones worship like modern Methodists with only a few quirks to mark them as still Catholic (anti-abortion, ethnic peculiarities such as Marian devotions, and celibate priests). In seven months at my job, three people have been fired for incompetence. That's what the private sector, the free market, would do to anybody who came up with the equivalent of the council, and rightly so. The council is the Edsel, New Coke, Jar-Jar Binks, and Microsoft Bob. Not evil, but a mistake.

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    2. Good points, YF, but OTOH...haven't many ecumenical councils been followed by periods of turbulence? The post-VCII turbulence has lasted 40 years or so -- a blip in terms of Church history -- and it is now dying down. So, now we can winnow the wheat from the chaff -- i.e., incorporate the Good Stuff from VCII and its aftermath while jettisoning the, um, unhelpful stuff. Like the Good Steward mentioned by Jesus, the Church now can draw from her storehouse both old and new.

      Those of us old enough to actually remember the '50s Church would not want to return to a completely pre-conciliar world. Yes, the churches and seminaries were full, but manualist legalism and Irish Jansenism was pervasive in some quarters. (Note I said "some." I have horror stories re the Mean Nuns of my Boston Irish childhood, but my husband, who's from Louisville, remembers jolly German nuns without a mean bone in their bodies.) And personally, I would not want to go back to the days when we were discouraged from praying with non-Catholics for fear of picking up Protestant cooties. Yes, we have taken ecumenism too far, but anti-ecumenism has its pitfalls, too.

      Anyway...as I said, the turbulence is dying down, and the Boomer radicals are retiring / dying off. This too shall pass.

      Plus, the American Church is not moribund; it is simply moving South. Y'a'll come down here, y'hear?

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    3. "manualist legalism and Irish Jansenism WERE pervasive in some quarters..."

      Ack, subject-verb non-agreement. I hate when that happens!

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    4. 'Absolutely not!' I screamed, after going to the Saturday-night meticulously celebrated Tridentine Mass at Mater Ecclesiæ as I was staying in South Jersey some weekend for car shows and flea markets.

      I hear you, but. As a longtime reader of mine, you know my line. All the good that the council tried to do would have been done better, with less or no damage to the church, with a few papal pronouncements: God bless American religious freedom (it made '50s America a great home for Catholics), and let's do (part of) the Mass in the vernacular. Done.

      The problems you name called for such fine-tuning, not a revision. Again, the council, a revision, was a mistake.

      Someone else has pointed out to me that our Mass is celebrated more carefully now, thanks to appreciating it more, having had it taken away, and thanks, I'd say, to the old liturgical movement trying to stop '50s abuses like 20-minute Low Masses with stuff cut out (popular because, hey, not everybody's pious; just get it over with). The movement wanted congregationally sung High Masses; the council was supposed to fulfill it but betrayed and destroyed it. Thomas Day describes this perfectly: American Catholics kept their Low Mass junked up with sappy hymns, only now the service was simpler, easier, and the sappy hymns had guitars.

      Trashing the old America, including the old church, is like a reflex for the elite. As Rod Dreher (I know you're mad at him; I understand) has written, a lot of rank-and-file Catholics from then (the Wrong Kind of White People, Archie Bunkers, Reagan Democrats, flyover country) would love to have it back. A longtime friend was one; he was in seminary during and after the council, and having 'his church' taken away from him put him in a mental hospital getting electroshocked for depression.

      I hope to visit the South again to see more, and Roman Rite versions, of these equivalents to SS. Cyril and Methodius, Cary, NC (local dynamo conservative Catholic magnet church, under the Ruthenians, run by a Rome-trained thus liturgically Orthodox priest), that you refer to. And maybe have some more iced tea on a mobile home's screened porch with real Southerners again. (Raleigh's yankeefied.)

      Yeah, the church back home for you, here in the Northeast, is becoming a ghost town. My guess is the Catholics who still go to Mass here are us trads and, based on the raised arms at the Our Father at the Novus Ordo, charismatics from the '70s and '80s.

      Being charismatic was hip for religious Catholics then: it wasn't trad and it was ecumenical (it came from low-church Protestantism) so churchmen loved it, thus for the laity it was often the only semi-orthodox thing their parishes offered. They used to hate us but in the '90s they became more Catholic, higher church (they love Benediction and Marian devotions; too bad they fell for the Medjugorje hoax), so we seem to get along fine now. (Want to do orans at my Mass? That's fine. Please keep the glossolalia at your prayer meetings; let all things be done decently and in order.) It seems to be waning now.

      Right, the liberals are retiring/dying off, so I like to say that in 50 years American Catholicism will be at least semi-trad as well as much smaller. The Anti-Gnostic has raised another possibility, though, that white American and European Catholics may end up a minority among semi-socialist, low-church liberation-theology types from the Third World. (Much how I think Anglicanism will end up: white liberal high church will die, and American and British Evangelical Anglicans will be a minority in a conservative African Protestant denomination, no longer a British or American one.) Of course the church in itself is indefectible but if things get that bad again, like under Paul VI, if Francis or somebody else undoes Benedict XVI's reforms, I've thought out my options. Greek Catholic for example.

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  5. Who said I believe "exactly" what Vatican II says? Continually damn Vatican II?

    Subsistit does not say exactly what it is supposed to say in the light of what the CC has said of itself historically and dogmatically. And it has nothing directly to say about Orthodox Orders & Sacraments. It is about the Catholic Church.

    As too often befalls the prolix nature of many of the Vatican II documents, the Subsistit section of Lumen Gentium is vague, even if that vagueness may have been put in for pastoral purposes (Lumen Gentium, however, is a dogmatic constitution after all!). The Subsistit section of LG seemingly waters down the teaching of Mystici Corporis Christi which itself is not the first CC document that dogmatically teaches what and who the Church is. I am not the first or only person to say this.

    Additionally, Pope Paul VI published his encyclical, Ecclesiam Suam, a year before LG was published. ES cited extensively Mystici Corporis and even quoted it. It's a shame that the Council Fathers could not have written similarly on perhaps so singularly an important statement on the Catholic Church in LG. At least Mystici Corporis has been cited elsewhere in LG. And I seem to recall that a lot had to be written by various theologians and bishops in succeeding years on this very phrase so that others would know what the CC says about itself, a problem that should have been avoided in the first place by more exact language in this section of LG (Chap 1 Section 8).

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    1. I left this out of my post:

      "How do these two sentiments not contradict each other?"

      How did you arrive at this statement? The CC has never said that Orthodoxy was a false religion pre Vatican II or post Vatican II (obviously). Complaining about the subsistit in no way contradicts this.

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  6. Well, read this:

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070629_responsa-quaestiones_en.html

    "Nuff said.

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    1. Notice that it took "another" document outside the Council to claify this. This is exactly my point. Documents of previous dogmatic councils had no problem saying exactly what they mean. Oh to be sure, they had the advantage of anathemas to ensure folks would know what they meant that V-II did not use (not saying anathemas are necessary). This should not have prevented the Fathers from being crystal clear in Chapter I, Section 8 of Lumen Gentium.

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    2. Well...this certainly isn't the first time the Church has had to keep clarifying and clarifying. Didn't it take her more than one ecumenical council to settle the Christological controversies? ;)

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  7. One thing that always struck me as odd was the online bromance between Eastern and Oriental Orthodox. You see it at OC.net all the time. They act like they are united as one church already, which in reality I don't see happening anytime soon. They also like to claim how they are much closer to each other than either is to the Catholic Church.

    The onlines might like to believe that, but in reality the Catholics and OOs generally have very good relationships in the real world. I know at least the Armenian Apostolic and Syriac Orthodox Churches in practice pretty much allow any Catholic to receive Holy Communion at their Liturgies, without converting. When that was brought up on OC.net, some of the online OOs vehemently denied it. However, I have spoken to many OO bishops and priests and they say it is permitted. Of course the Coptic Church generally wouldn't allow a Catholic to receive, but they seem to be an exception.

    As to any impending union between EOs and OOs, it isn't going to happen. The Athonite monks are completely opposed to it and The Eastern Church has always seemed to have a problem accepting other Rites.

    Anthony

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    1. "The Athonite monks are completely opposed to it ..."

      As are, from the OO side, and just as fiercely, the Ethiopian monks.

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  8. Interesting how that thread ended for me. Somebody posted some Orthodox theology, I agreed with it, saying it's also Catholic theology, and a moderator, whose handle is the name of a probably fictitious anti-Catholic Orthodox saint, shut me down for 'preaching' Catholicism. Nasty, defensive little church.

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    1. Well, there allegedly is a Peter the Aleut who was supposedly murdered in the San Francisco area by Spanish soldiers at the instigation of Spanish priests. Perhaps this is why the moderator of that section of OC.net is so pro-Catholic. LOL

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_the_Aleut

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