Wednesday, June 27, 2007

More from Meyendorff
Very few Roman Catholic theologians and historians are presently defending the simplistic idea that Roman primacy and papal infallibility were actually established and defined by Christ himself, and that it is found on the pages of New Testament and in the practice of the early Church.
As I understand it this is required Roman Catholic belief, defined doctrine: if one denies it, it would be honest, if conservative, to become Orthodox or, if liberal, to become Protestant. My guess is Fr John, writing in 1981, is referring to liberal dissenters:
Without the authoritarian guidance to which they were accustomed in the past, many Roman Catholics tended to abandon the truths and values which had kept them so close to us... in adopting a ‘nice guy’ attitude to everybody and everything (including, peripherally, the Orthodox), they think to reach a univeral consensus which, if it ever occurs, will have little in common with the Christian faith.
The Romans caught a cold so the Anglicans came down with pneumonia. (Like the old joke about the altar boy fainting at Westminster Cathedral and spikes swooning all over the sanctuary at Bourne Street the next Sunday.)

Anyway, back to RC theologians and historians:
They recognise that the papacy grew in history, that its growth and development were conditioned by politics, by local doctrinal issues [that is, how to express the one body of Catholic dogma], and that it occurred in times when the Latin Christianity of Western Europe had very little contact with and understanding of the Christian East.
True and fair: they fall back on development of doctrine to explain it.

Fr John’s and other good Orthodox’ point:

There may be a hair’s breadth of difference between a top patriarch, whose position in the divinely instituted episcopate is man-made like any other rank of bishop for the good order of the church (which they accept; Kallistos (Ware): ‘Orthodox believe that among the... Patriarchs a special place belongs to the Pope’), and the doctrine Fr John describes above. But, they say, the latter skews the church the wrong way; even if done in the name of defending tradition* you end up with something un-, even anti-traditional, hence Protestantism, the ‘Enlightenment’ and the big liberal RC revolt after Vatican II.

Just something to think about.

On politics:
Christians have advantages over their non-religious co-citizens. They know through faith of the true meaning of such words as ‘justice’, ‘peace’, ‘security’. They know that none of these realities can be provided by political or military or economic means only. Politicians are lying when they promise those things to the people in their programmes or their slogans...

There is actually no clear and simple formula which would give us infallible directions as to how this divine love revealed to Christians is to be realised in their attitude towards society at large.
Liberating, isn’t it?

Remember what Archduke Otto von Habsburg said about being neither a monarchist nor a republican but a legitimist? (He can no more imagine America as a monarchy than Spain as a republic.) That’s the Catholic view: some forms may be better but we’re free to form any kind of government that works depending on where we live... a small real monarchy in Liechtenstein, a constitutional one in Britain and the dominions, a republic (or at least it should be) in America...

Unlike faith’n’morals, this is relative.
Psalm 145/146:2:
O put not your trust in princes, nor in any child of man : for there is no help in them.
Neither the sickle nor the swastika as this blogger’s husband said to me over 15 years ago. Don’t get played by the Christian right or the secular left.

*Pius IX did not see himself as above tradition, as above rule of law. On adding St Joseph to the Roman Canon: ‘I can’t! I’m only the Pope!’)

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