Sunday, March 12, 2017

Byzantine Rite and wrong


  • Today's kontakion: Today the time of earthly deeds is revealed for judgement is at hand. Let us be found fasting, and let us bring cries of supplication, begging mercy and crying out: “I have sinned more times than there are sands of the sea; but forgive me, O Creator of All, that I may receive the crown that does not perish.” A troparion, and a kontakion is a kind of second troparion, is like a collect except it doesn't follow the Western formula (it isn't to the Father through the Son, etc., or it talks directly to saints) and it's not one of the priest's prayers; in theory the congregation but often in practice the choir sings it. (Real Byzantine Rite piety is wonderfully medieval folk Catholicism; the people can tune in and out.)
  • What a letdown. The church that Stalin couldn’t kill: Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church thrives seventy years after forced reunification. What an opportunity to tell the wonderful, moving story of a traditional Catholic church surviving real persecution in modern times, the church where I first saw traditional Catholic worship "live" three decades ago (when the Eastern rites were the only Catholics still allowed to be traditional), where I first experienced Byzantine Christianity (there is an Orthodox tradition, not an Orthodox Church), and where I am honored to worship one Sunday a month, and what a way to blow it. The story: during World War II the Soviets invaded and annexed Galicia, by then all that remained of the Ukrainian Catholic Church except immigrants abroad, because of past Russian westward expansion. Of course, besides their being atheists the Soviets hated the Catholic Church for many of the same reasons the Orthodox tsarist Russians did; they couldn't own it and they were doubly outraged that western Ukrainians, close cousins they thought should belong to their empire (the empire being a substitute for the universal church), chose not to — why Russian churchmen hate Uniates. A traitorous priest presided over a synod "returning" the Ukrainian Catholic Church to Russian Orthodoxy, which by then had been beaten, literally, into being a Soviet puppet. None of our bishops would leave the church; they were murdered, imprisoned, and sent into internal exile, never to return home. So the head metropolitan (his official title is major archbishop, essentially a patriarch), Josyf (Slipyj; Byzantine Rite bishops are normally, nominally, monks so they don't use their last names), was imprisoned until some kind of deal between the Holy See and the USSR got him released in 1963; meanwhile our top churchmen weren't sure the Ukrainian Catholics still existed in their homeland. Then as Communism began to fall at the end of the 1980s, this church resurfaced. Parishes supposedly Orthodox declared themselves Catholic again (same thing happened in Slovakia during the 1968 Czechoslovak revolt) and an acting metropolitan, Volodymyr (Sterniuk, pictured), appeared. He had run the Ukrainian Catholic Church from his apartment. You had crypto-Catholic parishes and underground ones. So what's wrong with this article?
    The next three-and-a-half centuries established the church as a thriving spiritual center that was closely connected to rising social and intellectual movements as they struggled to define an identity for nascent Ukrainian populations that found themselves under the serial domination of empires and states in the region... The church’s influence on Ukraine’s social and political life has been evident since independence. Students from the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv were some of the first to come to Kyiv in 2004, to support the ideas and aspirations of the Orange Revolution against an authoritarian regime. And in 2013-14, Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity was suffused with the moral values and tolerant attitudes propounded by the church. Its clergy were a daily presence on the Maidan throughout the three months of struggle. Together with the other churches and religious denominations of Ukraine, the UGCC has helped to create an ecumenical and diverse environment for social movements in Ukraine. As a bulwark against authoritarianism, this spirit of ecumenism continues to be Ukraine’s best instrument as it struggles toward becoming a democratic and prosperous state.
    The current metropolitan sounds like this. This isn't the exile Ukrainian Catholic Church I met in the 1980s, blessedly still pre-Vatican II. An empire, a neutral thing, isn't a substitute for the universal church but neither should churchmen tie themselves to the liberal idea of the nation-state, let alone the rest of liberalism. (The Orange Revolution and Maidan, in which the Ukrainians overthrew their lawfully elected president: American, that is, liberal, puppetry?) Why, seemingly ironic but because I'm Catholic, I'm moderately pro-Russian against this. Putin could be a new Constantine; Russia a sword of Christendom. But "diversity" and "tolerance," politically correct platitudes, in Byzantine drag? (I knew things were bad when 25 years ago I heard a Ukrainian-American priest apologize for "sexist language.") Not what Metropolitan Josyf suffered for; no, thank you. Why men such as Roissy think Christianity is for cucks. Liberalism is a Christian heresy; I understand its appeal, but it's still wrong.
  • Nice to hear about St. Patrick, as we are this time of year (thanks to so much 1800s immigration, March in America is Irish Month; by the way, he wasn't Irish, only evangelizing in Ireland), but... Russian Orthodox Church adds St. Patrick to its calendar. Aw, they're pretending to be a universal church. It makes sense because he's pre-schism so of course in theory they have always claimed him but still. Of a piece with the Western Rite Orthodox experiment (rootless, unlike Ukrainian Catholics). Reminds me of the Mormons proxy-baptizing the dead.

10 comments:

  1. I have seen you condemn the Eastern Orthodox Church for not focusing on Western saints. You often see this as a sign of the ethnocentricity of the Christian East. However, when the Russian Orthodox Church recognizes Western saints, you consider it a false ploy to not be perceived as ethnocentric. Maybe you should tell your readers that you believe that Eastern Orthodoxy can never escape its ethnocentrism instead of faulting it for failures (e.g. no liturgical recognition of the West), that you will never admit it can authentically solve.

    Also, I have never agreed with your claim of the rootlessness of the Western Orthodox. If your claim is that Western Orthodox have not always been Western Orthodox (but rather Catholics of the Latin Rite), how do you explain the presence of the new Anglican Ordinariates? Should they not be Latin Rite Catholics (instead of part of a constructed semi-Anglican Rite)?

    It also surprises me to see you refer to the Ukrainian Rite as rooted, when you mentioned their reduced fasting disciplines in an earlier post. I believe that part of being rooted is preserving your traditions (even more so when the community has a common history of traditional fasting disciplines, as do Ukrainian Catholics).

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    1. The Aussie troll again?

      I have seen you condemn the Eastern Orthodox Church for not focusing on Western saints.

      How can I condemn something that doesn't exist? I would no more expect an Eastern-rite church to focus on Western saints than I would expect the English or Germans to focus on Greek and Russian ones. No, I fault the schismatics for claiming that the post-schism Latin saints are beyond the pale, outside the church and thus likely graceless, for not being in the schismatics' empire and/or cultures.

      The ordinariates are in the Latin Rite.

      Ukrainian Catholics aren't a rite but use the Byzantine Rite. Fasting rules are just that, rules, not de fide. I'd rather keep a minimal fast within the universal church than the strictest one outside it.

      Maybe you should tell your readers that you believe that Eastern Orthodoxy can never escape its ethnocentrism instead of faulting it for failures (e.g. no liturgical recognition of the West), that you will never admit it can authentically solve.

      It can never escape its ethnocentrism unless it comes back to the Catholic Church.

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    2. "No, I fault the schismatics for claiming that the post-schism Latin saints are beyond the pale, outside the church and thus likely graceless, for not being in the schismatics' empire and/or cultures."

      I am not sure how this is different than Catholics believing that King Charles I and Lancelot Andrewes were outside the Church and devoid of sacramental absolution and the Blessed Sacrament throughout their lives. It is more likely that such claims are the (unfortunate) result of a believed deviation from each Church's doctrinal beliefs, rather than ethnic prejudice by either Catholics or Orthodox. However, you may believe what you like. I just don't find it convincing since it can be used effectively against the Catholic Church (e.g. the Anglican cases mentioned above).

      "The ordinariates are in the Latin Rite."

      I know, but they have a developed patrimony that reflects that of the Western Orthodox in the Orthodox Church. Why approve the constructed identity of the ordinariates (the members of the ordinariates have not always been Catholic and would have been mainstream Latin Rite Catholics before Vatican II), but reject the equally constructed identity (attempted re-construction, actually) of Western Orthodox?

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    3. Charles I and Lancelot Andrewes were Protestants holding a different doctrine from us; they didn't believe what we do about the Eucharist, which was their choice. No injustice in saying they were outside the church.

      The schismatics' only defined doctrine is the first seven councils of our doctrine: Catholicism but they won't admit it. Because they're bigots.

      They still don't get to claim St. Patrick.

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  2. I thought one of the reasons you Americans keep all those guns handy was so you could launch a revolution if an elected representative decided to become a tyrant. The Ukrainians overthrew their own tyrant at Maidan.

    You would have done the same if Obama had violated the constitution and awarded himself dictatorial powers.

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    1. More like the USA used Ukrainian puppets to overthrow a duly elected president too pro-Russian for them.

      I have no use for Ukrainian or Irish nationalism. Catholics can support them but don't have to.

      The Ukrainian Catholics as kin of the Occupy (remember them?) and anti-Trump brats? No, thanks.

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    2. Given Obama's weak response to Russian aggression in Ukraine, it seems a bit unlikely that the USA had any doing in Maidan.

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    3. What "Russian aggression"? Khrushchev handed the Crimea to the Ukraine in 1954, never imagining the empire would break up. I used to know people from the Crimea, in Simferopol, and from around Kharkov for that matter, to name another Russian area in the eastern Ukraine; they didn't want to be separated from Russia. The Crimea has returned home and I'm happy for them.

      To quote a friend, most of the Ukraine isn't just historically part of Russia; it's Ur-Russia, the cradle of their culture. But if Kiev wants to be independent, like Vienna is from Berlin in the German-speaking world, fine with me; as long as Catholics are okay.

      The American left now hates Russia, angry because it's not Communist anymore and even conservative Christian.

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  3. To clarify, Metropolitan Sviatoslav's (the current major archbishop) liberalism doesn't make him a heretic. Maybe foolish.

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  4. "Charles I and Lancelot Andrewes were Protestants holding a different doctrine from us; they didn't believe what we do about the Eucharist, which was their choice. No injustice in saying they were outside the church."

    I am not sure how this is substantially different from what an Orthodox Christian could say about Western Christians because "they didn't believe what we do about (fill in the blank).". Orthodox believe a lot of things that are not covered in the first seven ecumenical councils and are in contradiction to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

    "The schismatics' only defined doctrine is the first seven councils of our doctrine: Catholicism but they won't admit it. Because they're bigots."

    But Catholicism (nor Orthodoxy) is limited to de fide teachings. Catholics are bound to the teachings of the ordinary universal magisterium, which includes but is broader than those teachings of the extraordinary magisterium. It is not permissible for Catholics to adhere only to the teachings of the ecumenical councils, just as it is not allowed for Orthodox to believe only the teachings of the ecumenical councils of the first millennium (which did not dogmatize the Church's Eucharistic doctrine). For this reason, I don't think we can argue that Eastern Orthodoxy is the same as Catholicism.

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