Saturday, July 02, 2016

What Catholicism wants for the Orthodox

What we Catholics want to happen: recently the Orthodox unsuccessfully tried to hold a world council of their bishops (right reverend monsignori*); most countries' bishops didn't show up, or at least the ones from a very important country, Russia, as well as the Antiochians based in Syria. It ended up just being the Greeks and their friends. (Their power struggle: these bishops actually have little to do with each other. Rich Greek-Americans vs. the old Soviet empire?) What if they'd pulled it off? We want "corporate reunion" (anti-Catholic Orthodox from ex-Catholic family: "sounds like a retirees' picnic"; well, it does): their bishops all meet and decide to come into the church. They accept the Pope and our teaching on divorce and remarriage and, again, on contraception while retaining most of their autonomy as patriarchates. (Do we really need a Congregation for the Eastern Churches with a cardinal telling Eastern patriarchs what to do? No. Curial reform: get rid of some of that.) We leave their rite alone. (You don't have to latinize like the Ukrainian Catholics to be Catholic.) Orthodox families, parishes, dioceses, and countries would be intact. Despite our historical mistakes, we are not trying to destroy their culture; we have to walk that talk.

Opus Publicum reminds its readers that the Ukrainian Catholics' great dream is to be the Patriarchate of Kiev, the country's national church, with the Orthodox back with them under the Pope (truth: there is only one church, the Catholic Church) and real autonomy (see above). That's great; we certainly can do that but let's get ecumenical. Using the Ukraine against the Russians politically (as the U.S. government is doing) and ecclesiastically is wrong and shortsighted, even though the Russians are in schism and don't like us. (As anti-Communist and pro-Ukrainian Catholic as I am, Cold War nostalgia [!] doesn't apply; it doesn't cut it.) See above. These are real bishops who have the Mass (and, great for us traditionalists, a traditional rite at that, better than the Novus Ordo), an ecumenical opportunity we don't have with Protestants (non-churches; only individual conversions are possible). We should look at the big picture: bringing the Russians and the others back in, together, not pushing the Ukraine at their expense, which only confirms their distrust of us. (My analogy: how would Americans feel if China got California to secede from the Union?) No longer Communist, the Russians aren't America's problem anymore; heck, they should be our Christian allies. They're Germany's problem as the rival for leading Europe. (Russia controls the natural-gas supply.) Anyway, except for that, I have no problem calling Metropolitan Sviatoslav (Shevchuk) a patriarch as he might like.

Pictured: the late Metropolitan Josyf (Slipyj), a giant among Catholic churchmen, going through hell on earth (the gulag) to remain Catholic, a cardinal who wanted to be patriarch of Kiev with the Orthodox justly reconciled, in truth. I've read Jaroslav Pelikan's biography of him (too bad Pelikan ended up in schism; what a waste); he proved that a grand thing about being Catholic is you don't have to hate the West in order to be truly Eastern. His training was largely Western, in Innsbruck; we're not talking about two faiths but schools of thought and spirituality, Roman and Byzantine. Catholic is Catholic but respect the integrity of the rites. In his absence the Ukrainian Catholic Church continued in Galicia, underground, unknown until Communism fell/the USSR collapsed.

I would love to see Ukrainian Catholics I've known, people who chose exile or worse to remain Catholic, tell the anti-Western converts to Byzantium (not all converts to Byzantium, which can be a calling from God; the anti-Western ones who litter the Web) where to shove their precious phronema.

*Sacramentally they're bishops, but only Catholic bishops can have authority of jurisdiction as diocesans, lawful heads of local churches. That comes from the Pope. Some perspective: they're "Monsignor" to me while they're not sure if I'm really a Christian, really because my people weren't in their empire.

40 comments:

  1. You say that only the pope can grant Eastern bishops authority of jurisdiction. Can you show that this was the practice of the pre-schism church? At the Council of Nicaea, it was decreed that the right of confirmation should belong to the metropolitan bishop of each province, a rule confirmed by the 12th Canon of the Council of Laodicaea.
    I also see many examples in the early church of Eastern bishops ignoring attempts made by Rome to invervene with affairs in the Eastern churches.
    When you say things like the Orthodox don't recognize you as a part of the Church because your people weren't in their Empire, that is just tauntology. It's because Rome is in heresy. Even the Society of St. Pius X just recently rejected the pope's offer to come back to them because they say he has abandoned the sacred tradition of the church and teaches errors. We agree with them, but believe that happend a long time ago.
    Even in recent times, the popes since Vatican II have openly taught a Dual-Covenant theology, which is heresy. What do you say about that?

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    1. It's obvious what I meant: there is only one church so only it has lawful bishops, but we recognize unlawful bishops as bishops, because we err on the side of mercy and are not bigots, unlike the bishops in schism. The SSPX never claims to be a separate church, and anyway I'm in the official church, not associated with the order. Doctrine and a Pope's opinions aren't the same. Rome's in heresy? Why not put your money where your mouth is and move to Belgrade to be done with us?

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  2. As you have pointed out, there's really no such thing as "The Orthodox Church"; instead, there are a number of ancient churches that are in communion with one another but in a state of impaired communion with us. As Soloviev points out, all their official doctrine is Catholic, contained in the decisions of ecumenical councils that are recognized by us also. I'm glad their "great and holy council" didn't come off. If it had, they might have called it an ecumenical council and defined doctrines that contradict the Catholic faith, turning themselves into a sect. I don't agree that their bishops are without jurisdiction. We have long regarded them as "true particular churches" whose bishops have jurisdiction over their own faithful. As Donald Attwater pointed out in the 1950s, we do not require a general confession when an Orthodox Christian, or an Orthodox diocese, comes into communion with Rome, because they are churches, their pastors have jurisdiction, and their previous confessions were valid. The same was true at the reunion council of Florence. Otherwise, you would have to hold that they ceased to be churches every time the Patriarch of Constantinople removed the Pope from the diptychs, and were somehow reconstituted as churches every time communion was restored.

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  3. I don't need to move to an Orthodox country. The Roman Catholic Church is not the official religion of the USA, so your point is moot.
    Pope Francis is a heretic, at least materially, from a Catholic point of view. Not exactly someone whose authority I want to be under.

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  4. Eric,

    The Pope may have made many imprudent remarks in plane interviews and sermons, but none of those remarks are binding and he has never tried once to bind the Church to anything heretical.

    Anthony

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  5. Anthony,
    That is true, and that's why I said in the material sense. However, the last three popes have openly taught Dual-Covanent theology, which is heresy. The fact that three successive popes have taught something heretical and contradictory to sacred tradition is disconcerning.

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    1. But divorce & remarriage and contraception are OK. At least the Orthodox get the benefit of the doubt because they don't teach that as de fide, because they can't teach anything de fide. They've got Catholicism's first few councils; the rest is opinion.

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  6. The Orthodox practice of divorce and remarriage is through ekonomia and is an ancient practice, going back long before the schism. Contraception is also by ekonomia. We believe the same things regarding those topics, but the Orthodox approach it in a pastoral way rather than legalistic. Back to marriage, when the Orthodox allow second and third marriages out of ekonomia, they declare that the previous marriage has died, whereas the Catholics say that a marriage was never born. I think the Catholic practice of annulments is not a pre-schism practice, but just an invention by scholastics. It's a way to get around the divorce/ remarriage issue. Probably disingenuous. To be completely honest, I don't like contraception, and as an Orthodox, I'm allowed to be against it. I also understand that there may be legitimate pastoral reasons to allow married couples to contracept, as long as it's not abortifacient. As for annulments, as you know, when I was Roman Catholic, I got one, so I'm not really against them, I just think the Orthodox have an older practice than do the Catholics. I'm not really against the Catholic practices on these matters, I just think the Orthodox practices are legitimate and shouldn't be used against them.

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    1. Economy rightly understood, that is, as the church (you know what I mean) does, means a dispensation from a rule. Dispensations from doctrine are impossible. Rightly understood, economy is what I think makes Orthodox spirituality bearable in the parishes. The church has several rites and many schools of spirituality and of thought, all fine, but they don't always get along; the following is just my opinion, as has been articulated by others. Orthodox spirituality doesn't work well outside a monastery; maybe a reason why Orthodox parishes tank in the U.S. after three generations. It really doesn't have much use for laity "in the world"; in theory, the pious are expected to be in church half the time basically playing at being monks and nuns. For the laity in the world, economy takes care of the unworkable fasting rules. So most of the time, Orthodox parishes are winging it: lots of economy. Same thing Byzantine Catholics do when they self-latinize, maybe trying to impose some order on the process of making an unworkable praxis workable. And I don’t hate the Byzantine Rite; quite the opposite. I’ve just reconnected with it through the Ukrainian Catholics, who were my first experience of it.

      Counter-argument: Orthodox spirituality in the parishes, such as in "the old country," is a form of medieval Catholicism, and that's fine. People don't stay for the whole service, which goes on for literally hours. The service takes place regardless, and the people come and go as they please, maybe not following the service and just lighting candles at favorite icons. (There's a lot of freedom being a layman.) As in Roman Rite Catholicism, Mass is every week but the laity infrequently receive Communion (yearly? quarterly? why there's a rule for once a year, at Eastertide, I think on both sides). Many/most people aren't smart or pious, and the church is here for them too. Maybe trying to go to all the services and keep all the disciplinary rules, which some Orthodox say are not binding under pain of sin, when they call us legalistic, is legalistic, a Western (Anglo-Saxon Protestant) cultural thing, part of what afflicts some converts, making them pharisaical and/or eventually burning them out. Maybe the ethnics know better. But then again a lot of Christians, Western and Eastern, just plain lapse.

      The church can no more say "sometimes adultery is OK," for "pastoral reasons," than it can say Jesus isn't God after all, ordain women or marry two men.

      (This continues below.)

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    2. Underneath the shared defined doctrine (our early councils, so arguably, on paper, Orthodoxy is Catholicism; all true, as far as it goes), the traditional liturgy, and much else still shared as custom, the other side doesn't have a theology to take seriously. "Sometimes adultery is OK" is something I'd expect from mainline Protestants (including the liturgical ones, the Anglicans: "we believe the creeds and love the traditional liturgy, but we pretty much do what we want, as the world leads"), not an ancient, apostolic, putative one true church. I've read Msgr. Kallistos (Ware) and found him wanting. (He keeps changing his mind, getting more liberal with each new edition.) I asked the late Fr. Peter Gillquist to his face about contraception and he changed the subject to abortion. This thing, this putative church, isn't the answer.

      To be completely honest, I don't like contraception, and as an Orthodox, I'm allowed to be against it.

      As a Unitarian Universalist you would be allowed to privately believe in Christianity but that doesn't make the Unitarians a Christian church (in the beginning, coming from American Protestantism, they did claim to be Christian but now they don't) and it would be doubtful if you would really be a Christian, since a Christian can't belong to a non-Christian religion. You know my line: this schism we're talking about is not the church. Allowing you to agree with the church doesn't make it the church.

      I also understand that there may be legitimate pastoral reasons to allow married couples to contracept, as long as it's not abortifacient.

      No Christians taught that before 1930. So much for "we have never changed essentials."

      Not everything Eastern is old, either. The Roman Canon is the second oldest anaphora still in use, beaten only by the Nestorian one. The two Byzantine ones are newer; not bad, just not as old as some think.

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  7. Suppose Constantinople and Moscow break communion. According to the many Byzantines who are in schism, which side would have lawful bishops?

    And according to the strict school of their theological opinion, the unlawful bishops, being outside the church, wouldn't be bishops anymore; what they think of us. I know: they think we're in heresy (because we weren't in their empire and defined doctrine apart from that empire) and the unlawful fellows theoretically aren't, and are "still in the family." Still, the Old Calendarist sects are either the true church or not the church depending on who you talk to, and what about the Old Believers? In practice, if it's organically, generationally Byzantine, it's "still in the family." Then there's the recent Orthodox rapprochement with fellow non-Catholic Easterners the Monophysites and the Nestorians, definitely the Monophysites. Groups they used to hate as much as us (each ancient Christian communion claims it's the true church), and arguably these were Christological heretics. (The Tractarian Anglicans thought so.) I don't really have a problem with the idea that it may have been a misunderstanding; basically we think they're estranged Catholics like the Orthodox. (Who is an estranged Catholic vs. who's a Protestant is based on our criteria for valid orders: Trinitarian orthodoxy so basic the Nestorians pass, unbroken apostolic succession, and unbroken truth about the Eucharist so the Anglicans flunk.)

    There was the Great Schism in the church, in the late Middle Ages. Two, then three claimants to the papacy. The church rules that only one was Pope but the others get the benefit of the doubt; they thought they were Pope and their followers didn't intend to leave the church. I think St. Joan of Arc followed an antipope! Not as big a deal in the church (vs. among the Orthodox), as according to our doctrine even the formally estranged aren't completely out in the cold (why we err on mercy's side by recognizing their orders).

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  8. The Orthodox Church isn't saying that adultery is sometimes ok. They are saying that the previous marriage has died and there is no longer a marriage. The Catholics say a marriage was never born. That's their way of getting around the issue and letting people marry again. I noticed that you didn't defend Catholic annulments. Would you care to explain why you're ok with annulments, even through the Orthodox practice is, to my knowledge, much older?
    As for the fasting rules, Orthodox lay people aren't obligated to follow all the fasting rules. We are expected to grow into them over time. Whereas in the West, they give you the minimum and don't really expect you to do any more. In the East, they give you the maximum and ask you to grow into it. So it should work just fine outside the monastery and shouldn't be pharisaical, nor should it burn anyone out.
    As for your problem with Orthodox economia with birth control, isn't the Catholic Church's allowing couples to use NFP, ekonomia? The Orthodox just go a little further, and allow certain forms of contraceprion. And I'm not sure it is a doctrinal issue, per se. It's not the same as same sex marriage or women ordination.
    Forgive me, but it seems as if the Catholic church is being pharisaical here by straining at a gnat, while swallowing a Camel.

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    1. There is no such thing as the Orthodox Church. There is an Orthodox small-t tradition, the Byzantine Rite ("Byzantium"). There are Orthodox churches in the sense of dioceses (bishops) estranged from us, sisters to Catholic dioceses, but collectively not a church; the Catholic Church by nature has no sisters.

      I don't need to defend annulments. Their theology is sound.

      The Orthodox just go a little further, and allow certain forms of contraception.

      Just like the Christian non-churches, commonly called Protestants; like them, not the church. What a disappointment. I expected better from estranged Catholic brothers who still have a traditional liturgy.

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  9. "They are saying that the previous marriage has died and there is no longer a marriage."

    If that is what they are saying, then they are saying something that no Church Father, no, not so much as one, Eastern or Western, ever said or implied for at least the whole of the first millennium. I believe that the first Patriarch of C'ple, for example, who so much as implied that the Church might "perform" a marriage for a person, and that only for an "innocent" one in cases of adultery, in the lifetime of his or her (previous) spouse, was Alexius I (patriarch from 1025 to 1043). The only other analogous case which I can think of offhand was that of the Emperor Constantine VI, who in 796 or 97 divorced his wife Maria (because of their lack of sons) and attempted to marry one Theodote. The Patriarch, St. Tarasios, refused to perform the marriage, bu eventually the Emperor prevailed upon the Oikonomos of Haghia Sophia, the Priest Joseph, to do so (and to crown Theodote empress). In the event, the emperor's deposition (by his mother Irene) followed swiftly, and in large part in result, and Priest Joseph was excommunicated (although he was later restored after all the parties to the affair had died).

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  10. Once again, thank you, Professor Tighe, for setting the historical record straight.

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  11. I think that much of this conversation has gotten severely off track, and Eric your modernist contention that "marriages die" is truly bizarre.

    What Eric, nor John, seem to understand, and this may be difficult for most Roman Catholics to get, is that the Byzantine Orthodox do NOT have the same theology of Sacraments as does the Roman Church. In Orthodoxy Sacraments are in some manner controlled by the Church and it is felt, outside of the primary Sacrament of baptism, that Sacraments can be removed (what the Church has given, the Church may take away); hence, in Orthodoxy, although rare, a priest may be returned to the lay state, the priesthood is not considered as an indelible change. The Sacrament of Marriage is no exception to this understanding of Sacrament. The Church has the power, for want of a better word, to strip away the grace of the Sacrament.

    Also, part of this is the same issue is the fact that Orthodox and Catholics do NOT have the same theology of marriage either; it is actually very, very different, which is why annulments in Orthodoxy are almost impossible to come by. In the Roman Church, marriage is an oath enacted between two parties and the priest, or deacon (which for Orthodox is also strange, since no deacon can be the officiant of the Sacrament of Marriage) is simply a witness; hence, marriage, for Roman Catholics is possible outside of the Church. Which is why married converts are not remarried in the Church, but the Orthodox, especially those who demand rebaptism of even converting Christians, follow the baptism with a marriage ceremony if the converts were previously "married."

    In Orthodoxy the priest, and not the couple is conduit of the Sacrament, and the priest, representing the Church actualizes the Sacrament and as all Sacraments come from the Church, the Church can also remove the grace of the Sacrament.

    Another example to show differences of Sacramental permanency, Orthodox who convert to another Christian Church or non-Christian faith are received back into Orthodoxy via chrismation (also considered as a Sacrament, which can be repeated as well) in many cases and not simply by confession.

    Of course, I also think that when the present Pope has declared most Catholic marriages to be non-existent, this whole conversation really becomes bizarre to the extreme. He has even gone so far as to say there seems to be nothing wrong with a series of adulterous relations which may eventually, in old age, result in a true marriage. Since, according to him most Roman marriage are invalid, one can now imagine that annulments will become even more and more commonplace as well as easy to get. And contrary to what many Roman Catholics believe, the dissolution of an Orthodox marriage (please let us stop using the secular term divorce where it does not apply), at least in the Russian tradition, is now considerably more difficult to get than a Roman Catholic annulment.

    Not too long ago, before the recent change in Canon Law, which forbade the ordination of bastards, in many parts of the world where a church marriage was a rarity and most children were born illegitimate, vocations to the religious life and priesthood were rare, not because of a lack of vocations, but because almost no one could pass muster because of Canon Law.

    In the end, to attack Orthodoxy because of a different understanding of marriage, after the Pope has declared that most Roman Catholic marriages are invalid is simply more than a bit strange and not an honest tactic of debate.

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    1. Byzantine Orthodox do NOT have the same theology of Sacraments as does the Roman Church... it is felt, outside of the primary Sacrament of baptism, that Sacraments can be removed.

      I know what their opinion is and reject it.

      In the Roman Church, marriage is an oath enacted between two parties and the priest, or deacon (which for Orthodox is also strange, since no deacon can be the officiant of the Sacrament of Marriage) is simply a witness... In Orthodoxy the priest, and not the couple is conduit of the Sacrament, and the priest, representing the Church, actualizes the Sacrament.

      As you guessed, I know. Different opinions. Like whether transubstantiation happens at the Verba or the epiclesis.

      Not too long ago, before the recent change in Canon Law, which forbade the ordination of bastards...

      Discipline, not doctrine. You can get a dispensation.

      Of course, I also think that when the present Pope has declared most Catholic marriages to be non-existent, this whole conversation really becomes bizarre to the extreme.

      He has presented a teaching opportunity for us Catholics: to explain that his opinion doesn't change the church's teaching.

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    2. But John, since you know the position of Orthodoxy in regards to these issues, you cannot then judge Orthodoxy from the position that since it does not correspond to the Rome it must be wrong.

      The Orthodox do this all the time in regards to Rome as well, and it is also irritating.

      In the end, the "ecumenical conversations" between Rome and Orthodoxy will lead no place. For Moscow they honestly hope that the result of any ecumenical movement will mean that Rome will force the Ukrainian Greek Catholics to submit to Moscow's control (Similar to how Moscow forced their rather large western rite communities in the 1970's to leave Orthodoxy with the intent that they would return to Rome and in response Rome would reply with the same demand placed on the Ukrainians).

      Rome, on the other hand, makes less sense. Since the 1850's Rome has been moving more and more into a Protestant orbit; they have destroyed their own Apostolic Roman Tradition for a Protestant communion service, and bad, banal liturgical taste. They have completely destroyed all fast laws and tradition. Their monastic, especially women ones, have become not too much more than social justice warriors. What Rome and Orthodoxy had in common has been purposely destroyed by Rome. Why pretend otherwise? The natural ecumenical partners of modernist Rome are liberal Protestants, not the Orthodox.

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    3. But John, since you know the position of Orthodoxy in regards to these issues, you cannot then judge Orthodoxy from the position that since it does not correspond to the Rome it must be wrong.

      Sure I can.

      In the end, the "ecumenical conversations" between Rome and Orthodoxy will lead no place.

      Came to that conclusion some time ago. Their loss.

      Rome, on the other hand, makes less sense....

      Heh. Talked myself into the Orthodox position with stuff like that 21 years ago. Nope.

      Our teachings can't change. Mistakes our churchmen make in praxis don't change that.

      As a baseline I have no problem with the Novus Ordo as reformed in English by Benedict XVI. I've been to liberal parishes since I've been back in the church; his text keeps them in line.

      The natural ecumenical partners of modernist Rome are liberal Protestants, not the Orthodox.

      The way the media and protesters still rail at the church proves that wrong. Even the bad coverage of Pope Francis is a backhanded testimony to the truth; they're trying to use the Pope himself to attack it. Machts nichts to me; he can't change anything essential.

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    4. But then John, you cannot complain when the Orthodox use the same methods of attack against the Catholic Church.

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    5. " In Orthodoxy Sacraments are in some manner controlled by the Church and it is felt, outside of the primary Sacrament of baptism, that Sacraments can be removed (what the Church has given, the Church may take away); hence, in Orthodoxy, although rare, a priest may be returned to the lay state, the priesthood is not considered as an indelible change. "

      Here in the Southern USA ROCOR occasionally re-baptizes other Orthodox (Greeks mostly) after they burn out at OCA.

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    6. Rad Trad,

      Are the Orthodox ROCOR re-baptizes ones who were baptized in another Orthodox jurisdiction or converts who were chrismated and ROCOR didn't accept the baptism from their former denomination? Either way when it comes to ROCOR I wouldn't be surprised by the a answer.

      Anthony

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    7. Rad Trad, not too long ago, in London, the ROCOR was even rebaptising converts from the Moscow Patriarchate. I had thought, at least hoped, that this level of silliness had ended when they reunited with the Russian Patriarchal Church; perhaps not.

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  12. "... and Eric your modernist contention that "marriages die" is truly bizarre."

    I heard the late Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh say precisely the same thing in a talk in Oxford (UK) in, I think, 1981."

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    1. Yes, I can well imagine Metropolitan Anthony saying such a thing. I met him several times whilst a seminarian in Paris and also attended several talks given by him to mostly an Anglican audience, who loved him. But even very moderate Orthodox would agree that he was very much a modernist when it came both to canon law as well as theology. The fact that he would state something like this, would perhaps prove that it is indeed modernism.

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    2. A Catholic priest told me in 1984 that the alleged Orthodox view is "marriages can die." Dale's alternative take is interesting. Well, we have a range of theological opinion below the level of doctrine so why can't they?

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    3. John, I would be as careful as accepting a Catholic priest's supposed, or alleged, view on what the Orthodox teach, as I would be on an Orthodox priest's alleged view on what the Catholic Church teachers.

      Personally, and I went to a fairly respected Orthodox seminary, with the degree to prove it, I have NEVER heard this very bizarre concept before. As I replied to Dr Tighe, this would completely contradict Orthodox sacramental teachings, since it would make the validity or invalidity of sacrament based upon personal "feelings." My marriage has died, sounds very secular, hence, the sacrament has died as well.

      One could just as easily state, "I no longer feel that I am a Christian, hence, by baptism is now invalid." Does not work that way, either in Rome or Byzantium.

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  13. My favorite is eternal marriage popularized by Meyendorff. It goes directly against the Jesus' words in the Gospel of Matthew "no marriage in heaven" and frankly is asinine when up to three marriages are allowed in Orthodoxy. Would that mean the first, second or third wife is the heavenly spouse?

    Anthony

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    1. Agreed; and as I recall Meyendorff taught both that marriage (? some marriages) are eternal and marriages can die. Sounds a bit Mormonical to me, although I believe that the Mormons offer two types of marriage, merely "temporal" marriage and "eternal" ("heavenly") marriage.

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    2. Dale wrote:

      "In Orthodoxy Sacraments are in some manner controlled by the Church and it is felt, outside of the primary Sacrament of baptism, that Sacraments can be removed (what the Church has given, the Church may take away); hence, in Orthodoxy, although rare, a priest may be returned to the lay state, the priesthood is not considered as an indelible change. The Sacrament of Marriage is no exception to this understanding of Sacrament. The Church has the power, for want of a better word, to strip away the grace of the Sacrament."

      I wonder, and I am asking this not disingenuously, how far back in Byzantine Orthodoxy the view can be traced "that Sacraments can be removed (what the Church has given, the Church may take away)." I have not come across any statement to this effect from Eastern (or Western) Church Fathers or Councils down to the time of Patriarch Photios, although I have not made any systematic or focused investigation of the issue.

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    3. Hello William,

      I think, I have not the time to do more research, but trying to remember from classes taken many years ago in seminary, that the re-chrismation of apostates returning from Islam is actually, at least amongst the Greeks, quite ancient; one must also admit that the granting, and I readily admit that it is quite bizarre, of three dispensations (why only three?) from the Sacrament of marriage is also quite ancient.

      The fact that a Sacramental marriage can be dissolved accepts that a real marriage took place, and unlike a Roman annulment, the children are all legitimate, would support the contention that Sacraments can, by the Church, be made null and void. One must also add, that because of the Orthodox understanding of the Sacrament of marriage being confected by the priest, and not the marriage partners attesting to an oath, annulment to a marriage is almost impossible, if form, intention on the part of the priest is correct, within Orthodoxy (I personally know of no cases of an annulment in Orthodoxy...that of course, does not mean that it has not happened. This then would imply that the Sacrament was accomplished, since the marriage is sacramental in character and it is not simply an oath. Hence, for the Orthodox the granting of annulments, and the Pope's recent proclamation that the majority of Catholic marriages are invalid, is more than a bit strange.

      The idea that since a marriage died, and hence its sacramental character has magically disappeared, is simply contrary to Orthodox theology of the Sacraments. This would mean that the couple and not the Church is empowered to annual Sacraments, and the Church, neither Roman or Byzantine, has ever taught such a strange concept.

      As to von Meyendorff's contention that marriage exist even in death, well it is indeed more than a bit odd. The few conversations I had with Fr Meyendorff did not revolve around this issue, but the one of the fixation of the Byzantine Orthodox that the fullness of catholicity can be limited to a single culture. His response to the one directly from von Schmemann, that there is no tradition that expresses the catholicity of the Church better than the Byzantine than anyone who is catholic would have not problem in adopting it, and those who demand more than one tradition in Orthodoxy are not really catholic (I am not kidding). Which, again, is more than a bit bizarre. I responded that one could say the same for all Apostolic traditions, even the Roman.

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    4. I really need to stop writing my responses so quickly. As I re-read my posting, I am really appalled at some of my sentence structure and misuse of words. Annual for annulled, really?

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  14. A Byzantine Catholic priest friend of mine told me that the Orthodox say that a failed marriage has died. That's where I got it from. I didn't make it up.
    I guess the real question should be, can the sacrament of marriage be removed?

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  15. Here are the exact words, and reasoning why the Byzantine tradition is superior to all others and should be universally adopted according to von Schmemann:

    "The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom or the Easter Canon of St. John of Damascus, are, I believe, much closer to that common and Catholic language of the Church than anything else in any Christian tradition."

    Sorta leaves everyone else out in the cold.

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  16. When Jesus told the Sadducees that in heaven people do not marry, nor are given to marriage, does that really mean that in heaven, the marriage bond that was formed between two people here on earth does not in some way, carry over to heaven? I see that it is clear, by Jesus' words, that in heaven there are no weddings. But for those who were sacramentally married on earth, why is it so obsurd that some form of bond between those two is transformed and continues in heaven? I read a Catholic source which says it does continue in heaven. Of course, the Orthodox don't believe that couples have sexual relations in heaven. And also, the Byzantine Catholics believe the same thing as the Orthodox regarding eternal marriages, so why don't you mock them too, if you're going to make fun of the Orthodox?

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    1. Erick, no one was mocking the Orthodox, we were calling into question the position taken, according to some (I have never actually seen his writings on this issue) of Fr von Meyendorff. The issue was this does not seem to be within the received tradition of the Church.

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  17. Byzantine Catholics do not believe in eternal marriage, which comes across as Mormon as Dr. Tithe mentioned. It does go directly against Scripture. Read Matthew 22:23-30. Jesus isn't referring to people marrying in heaven who were single on earth. He clearly stating that marriage ends at death.

    Also, as I always point out when this subject comes up, it is contradictory for the Orthodox Church to say a man can end his marriage on earth, marry another woman and then state there is such a thing as eternal marriage in Heaven. Again it is asinine. If you take that as mockery so be it. I call it using logic.

    Anthony

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  18. Dale,
    Would the idea that the church can "take away" the sacrament of holy matrimony go against Christ's words when he said, "what God has joined together, let no man put asunder"... ??
    I doubt the idea of eternal marriage is a doctrine of Orthodoxy. Probably just a pious opinion, no?

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    1. Of course, but the Church, as a divine institution, is "no man."

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  19. John sated:

    "The way the media and protesters still rail at the church proves that wrong. Even the bad coverage of Pope Francis is a backhanded testimony to the truth; they're trying to use the Pope himself to attack it. Machts nichts to me; he {The pope] can't change anything essential."

    I do not know if this is true post-Vatican I, the Pope's infallibility is a personal charisma and the Council declared the following:

    "[I]n defining doctrine concerning faith or morals---should be equipped: And therefore, that such definitions of the Roman Pontiff of themselves---and not by virtue of the consent of the Church ---are irreformable."

    This, one would presume, gives the Pontiff the power to change doctrine or to develop doctrine (he certainly had taken this power to the degree of destroying and changing the liturgy of the Church against the tradition), even against the consensus, or Tradition, of the Church. The modernist theory of Newman, that doctrine evolves would seem to support such a concept as well.

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