Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Eastern Orthodoxy and eternal Rome
‘Eternal Rome’ as explained by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre of blessed memory. Let’s have a look:

Both the Orthodox and Old Catholics claim union with eternal Rome.
First let’s get the Old Catholics out of the way: that probably was true of at least some of them when they got started in the 1870s but today they are nothing but a rump sect of Dutch, Germans and Czechs who don’t appeal to antiquity at all - they now ‘ordain’ women. (The Middle European version of Broad Church Anglicans.) Next...

The Orthodox: I think the near-consensus in that communion is yes, they do claim that union, but with Rome as described before the estrangement between East and West was final. It was a gradual estrangement from around the crowning of Charlemagne (an insult, thought the still-reigning Roman emperor in Constantinople) to the Polish annexation of Galicia in the early 1300s (cheesing off the Russkies). (Galicia later became the home of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, which puts the complaints of the Church of Russia about it into context.) Many among them would say no, not with Rome since then as understood by the archbishop. But despite that, in Rome’s view they may well be! (Explanation.) Put another way, it is Catholicism as written in 11th-century Greek theological language. The number of Orthodox who’d say they agree with Soloviev is probably microscopic, and again, you’ve got the irony that the most fervent, observant and Catholic-minded among the Orthodox usually are exactly the ones who don’t want dialogue and would object to Soloviev’s opinion. (To be fair, while he had a lot of good things to say, Russia and the Universal Church is 19th-century hackwork that’s unfair to the Russian Orthodox Church, as the contemporary stuff from the abbé Guettée probably was to the Church of Rome.)

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