Friday, June 11, 2004

Golgotha Monastery, Papa Stronsay, Orkney, Scotland
Fascinating - this is part of the Transalpine Redemptorists, not the official Redemptorist Order. It is affiliated with the Society of St Pius X. Like the official Redemptorists it has an attempt at Byzantine Catholicism. Well-meaning but conflicted. Basically a reflexive resistance to any change, even if the change restores mediæval traditions!

The page on SS. Peter & Paul Church, Riasne, Lvov, in the Ukraine, shows this contradiction pictorially. It's a beautiful church and one is glad to see it has onion domes, including a central dome, and an iconostasis. But it's chock full of the self-latinizations the Vatican itself banned long before Vatican II! Rome issued Slavonic liturgical books for Byzantine Catholics in 1944 that got rid of these changes and are basically just like Orthodox books. They still haven't been implemented in the official Ukrainian Catholic churches and I suspect not here either. These people in old Polish Galicia define themselves with the changes - adopting Polishisms to show they're not Russian but retaining Russianisms like this onion-domed, icon-screened church and the Cyrillic alphabet to show they're not Polish! (Interestingly this order and its friends retain Slavonic because the official Ukrainian Catholics' adoption of Ukrainian for services is fairly recent - ironically the former share their liturgical language with the Orthodox.)

The page on the Bulgarian Catholics shows something else - a beatus (Kamen Vitchev, whose face is in the small box) and a bishop (Rafael) who did the right thing and looked 100% Byzantine Rite, just like the native, Orthodox, Church of Bulgaria. This order claims to honour these men while at the same time pushing the latinizations they opposed! I've seen recent pictures of the Bulgarian Catholic Church there; today's it's hybridized pretty badly. (Bishops without beards, let alone klobuks!)

Its story, not really told here given this order's bias, is that in the 1800s many Bulgarians broke away from their native church and started this as part of the fight for independence from the Ottoman Empire (Turks). The patriarchate of Constantinople was and is a functionary of the Turkish government so of course it couldn't grant the Bulgarians church independence like they wanted. Later the patriarch changed his mind, the Bulgarians got their patriarchate and so the Bulgarian Catholic Church shrank to the vestigial size it is today. (Of course the Communists hated it - it answered to foreigners, which meant the government couldn't control it.) And of course today the Vatican doesn't solicit born Orthodox to change their affiliation, thinking instead about corporate reunion of churches. (Interestingly, nationalism was what made Bulgaria choose Byzantine Christianity to begin with, getting a better deal from the emperor than the Pope.)

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