Thursday, July 18, 2013

ROCOR Western Rite update, and competing sacramentologies

From Ad Orientem. Apparently the story now is they’re not shutting it down but doing some needed discipline after a lapse (again, Nathan Monk being the best-known example/last straw).

What strikes me and Modestinus is the possibly sloppy sacramentology from these Orthodox. What do they mean by not recognizing some ordinations? According to our teachings, unless Bishop Jerome was mentally ill, and there’s no sign he is, the priests he ordained in a group, the Western Catholic way, are real priests. Suspending them in order to examine and really train them before service, which apparently the bishop didn’t do, is good. Denying their priesthood wouldn’t make sense. But they have a history of not making sense.

There is a logic to what Modestinus describes as their hardliners’ thoroughly modern theology and practice of not recognizing any Catholic sacraments; arguably it goes back to St Cyprian’s opinions (church fathers’ opinions aren’t necessarily doctrine) vs. St Augustine’s, our standard, which enables us, ironically, to include the Orthodox. (We have vagantes, wacko ‘independent Catholics’, thanks to our Augustinian view of valid apostolic succession; they have non-canonical Orthodox like the Kiev Patriarchate. Call it even.)

As I’ve said, ROCOR wasn’t fanatical to begin with; it was naturally traditionalist 19th-century Russian. (I’ve met a 100+ year-old real tsarist Russian.) The Russian Orthodox Church for several centuries has mirrored our recognition of all their sacraments. (Why they didn’t allow ex-Catholic priests who married and converted to serve as priests.)

What changed much of ROCOR were the fanatical Greeks they took in during the ’60s. Just like the start of Catholic traditionalism, a modern reaction to modern phenomena, which R. Scott Appleby says all fundamentalisms are. These Greeks rejected adopting the Gregorian calendar and dialogue with Catholics; they’ve since left ROCOR. Under their influence, some of these Russians broke with the old Russian Orthodox Church and started rebaptizing and reordaining their few ex-Catholics.

(Like when Bishop Williamson recently broke with the ’50s church by recommending Maria Valtorta’s The Poem of the Man-God, which the Holy Office condemned in the ’50s; now he only speaks for himself, not the pre-conciliar church. I won’t condemn him for his view on the Holocaust; I’m not signed on but it makes me think. Questioning the magic number six million doesn’t make you a Nazi.)

So while there’s an underlying consistency (Orthodoxy has sacraments; non-Orthodox ones are an unknown, with a range of opinion), still, their sometimes recognizing us, sometimes not makes me agree with Modestinus; they’re making it up as they go along; their ordinary magisterium is the whim of the bishop.

ROCOR’s Fr John Whiteford:
The argument in favor of doing a mass ordination in the Western Rite is that this was the practice in the pre-schism West. The problem with this argument is the assumption that anything that was done in the pre-schism West is therefore acceptable.
Knee-jerk anti-Westernism as John at Ad Orientem says. Catholicism and I, on the other hand, appreciate and love the Byzantine Rite’s symbolism (one Lord, one church, so only one Liturgy on one altar per day, and only one ordination at a time) but of course we don’t think these differences in rite are de fide. (Diane Kamer says a shrinking, defensive church majors in the minors. Thus anti-Westernism.)

More important, like Bishop Williamson breaking with Pius XII’s Vatican, Fr John is condemning the pre-schism church he claims Orthodoxy is the true continuation of. If he’s right... Orthodoxy is not the pre-schism church but a sect in schism that judges the church. I’d be kinder as is the church and maintain they are an estranged part of us, the pre-schism church, as (we and they agree) there is only one church.

18 comments:

  1. a modern reaction to modern phenomena, which R. Scott Appleby says all fundamentalisms are.

    Oh my gosh. That is so true. Case in point: the Independent Fundamental Baptists (fairly common here in the South). They're all about "walking in the Old Paths," but, for them, the Old Paths means Gospel music from the late 19th and early 20th centuries and standards of dress from the 1950s. I mean, it's fine that they're thoroughly American (which in itself limits how Old Paths-y they truly are). But they don't even appropriate their full American religious heritage: With just a few exceptions, they don't go back farther than the late 19th century. No William Billings, no Sacred Harp, nothing of the rich tradition of American hymnody predating the Civil War. They're really very modern in their anti-modernism, LOL. It's very strange, IMHO.

    Sorry for getting off-topic. I keep seeing parallels.

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    1. standards of dress from the 1950s

      For the same reason as me. It's not kitsch but a cultural statement. I don't lecture in person. I wear my conservatism.

      They're really very modern in their anti-modernism, LOL.

      Which is what hardcore paleos such as the SSPX's French monarchists and fascists (not a dirty word, just a description of a valid if possibly mistaken option in politics) think of me and my belief in the old America's religious freedom, and of the American patriots from the '50s who were the first American Catholic traditionalists. Understandable of them. They think we're part of the problem.

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    2. Well, I like Mid-Century Style myself, although I could live without Dior's New Look: You have to have a wasp-like waist to carry it off. (My mom did, and she looked fantastic in those pinch-waist dresses.)

      I guess what I'm saying is that the IFBs' Old Paths are not necessarily old enough. I don't simply mean that they eschew chant and polyphony: One would expect them to repudiate all that Catholicky stuff. But I find it difficult to see how someone could prefer sappy post-Civil-War drivel like "In the Garden" to a hauntingly beautiful shape-note song like "Wondrous Love" or "Idumea."

      But I don't want to derail this thread with my little pet enthusiasms...sorry! Great post. Great points. Thanks!

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    3. To give the paleos credit, I see the irony of '50s (mid-century) nostalgia since many/most then believed in progress. Which is why the council was called and sounds as it does. But I don't think they, in the church and in larger society, were expecting the Sixties, which hit late in the '60s and among a minority at first. Best to be modern but not Modernist, just like most '50s American Catholics.

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  2. Re: Bp. Williamson

    The number six million is not magic or doctrinal. It is simply convenient. Reputable historians have never settled on a firm number. Conservative estimates have gone as low as five million and some have been as high as seven million. And of course that's just the Jewish victims. So no, it's not out of bounds to suggest the number could be a little lower or higher.

    Questioning the event itself however is out of bounds. When you question the existence of the gas chambers, the existence of an orchestrated campaign of mass extermination then you are moving into the domain of evil fantasy. The Holocaust is the most thoroughly documented crime in the history of the world. The Nazis were marvelous records keepers and were quite proud of their accomplishments. Many of them bragged at their own trials. To say it didn't happen is to announce that you are both a nut and a bigot. You are calling all the Jews of Europe not to mention the allied troops who liberated the Nazi hell holes, liars. You are saying the whole thing is a vast Jewish conspiracy that the rest of the world just fell in line with along with the men we hanged for crimes they didn't commit but bragged about anyway. All of the vast paper records are just forgeries. When you endorse those kinds of views and recommend to young seminarians that they read "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" for insights into Judaism then you are not simply questioning parts of the historic record, you have moved into the realm of paranoid delusion fueled by religious and racial bigotry.

    Williamson is a vile and despicable man who should be a profound embarrassment to Trad Catholics.

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    1. Well, I don't know how vile and despicable Williamson is, but I agree with everything else you say 100%.

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    2. Williamson is a serious Holocaust denier and a fan of the referenced book.

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    3. I had forgotten about the Protocols bit . . . and he may be mentally ill because this one is way over the top! Then again, in past centuries the blood libels held traction for too many naively evil people, so maybe the
      Richardson case is not much of a surprise.

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    4. Ad Orientem, I agree with you 100%. I'm just squeamish about calling people despicable. That's strong language. (BTW I am no fan of Richardson by any means. Just as I am no fan of the virulently anti-Semitic Elder Ephraim, who has also been known to recommend the Protocols.)

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    5. I had not heard that about Ephraim, but I am not surprised. A lot of people warned me years ago to be wary of him. More than a few Greeks consider him to be a fraud with way too many shady connections. There have been more than a few unpleasant whispers about his monastery down in the AZ desert too.

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    6. Wanna know something strange, coincidence-wise? One of his monasteries is right here in NC, not far from where we live. Whenever we're in that area, I wish I could find it (it's off the beaten track) and drop in. But women probably aren't welcome, maybe?

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  3. As I said in response to Ad Orientem, a knee-jerk reaction to things western is to dismiss them simply because they are western. To point out what the Orthodox have been saying about certain aberrant western practices since at least the days of the Quinisext Council is hardly a knee-jerk reaction. And I have not condemned the entire Church of the west, but simply noted that the schism and heresy of the Roman Church did not come out of thin air in 1054.

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    1. Jack Chick with a chotki. Have heard it all before. And man, it sure gets old. Sigh.

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    2. That's a ridiculous assertion, which does not address my point. The Quinisext Council, which Roman Catholics cite with some authority, when it suits them, makes most of the same criticism that my post did. Where the fathers of that council proto-jack chicks?

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    3. "with some authority"

      What does this mean? Rome rejected the canons of that council at the time it wa sheld, and all that Justinian II was able to get Pope Constantine to agree to whan the latter visited C'ple in 711 was that if the Eastern churches wanted to be bound by its canons Rome would not argue against them -- but Rome still refused to accept them as binding upon it, and upon the West. See the article in the 1994 volume of the Greek Orthodox Theological Review on the Qunisext Council.

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    4. Here's the article I mentioned in my previous comment:

      "The Causes of the Conflict about the Quinisext Council: New Perspectives on a Dispute Council," by Heinze Ohme. *The Greek Orthodox Theological Review,* Vol. 40, Nos. 1-2, 1995, pp. 17-43. Ohme also contends that Rome's resistance to that council's canons was based not only on their to Rome unacceptable content, but to the manner in which, contrary to all previous ecumenical councils (save for the Council of Constantinople of 381, which was merely a local council which "ascended" to "ecumenical status" considerably after the fact) the Emperor Justinian II tried to secure its "ecumenicity" by securing the endorsement of it by bishops/churches which were unrepresented at it -- which, in turn, served as a precedent for the Emperor Constantine V in attempting to secure "ecumenical status" for his iconoclastic Council of Hereia (or Hiereia) in 754, a council at which no patriarch was present (Constantinople was vacant) nor any representatives of Rome, Alexandria, Antioch or Jerusalem.

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    5. I agree with you about the Chick bit. However, the Catholic Church has never accepted Quinisext as an ecumenical council or authoritative. I don't think it helped much that the hierarchs attending Quinisext were almost entirely Eastern bishops given the Council's purpose, among other things, was to settle differences in praxis in Eastern & Western Churches.

      I also am aware of the position of Orthodoxy vis-a-vis the Catholic Church, but you should expect some push-back when you make papal-like pronouncements re: the Catholic Church being heretical and schismatic or aberrant Western practices without an IMO, IHMO, or "in the teaching or POV or perspective, ore . . . of the Orthodox Church," or similar language.


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    6. William, I have seen Roman Catholic Apologist cite canons of the Quinisext Council as Canons of the 6th Ecumenical Council when they wanted to make a point that those canons supported. For example, I have seen Canon 2 of that Council, which lists the canons of local councils and fathers which it declared to be Ecumenical authority, as proof of the authority of the Second Council of Carthage. That's what I mean by it being cited with some authority, when it suits them.

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