Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What divides Orthodox and [Roman] Catholics?
Lee Penn, a convert Anglican for about 20 years now a Russian Catholic (Russian Orthodox liturgy but under Rome), passed this on to me earlier today but I wanted to dedicate enough time and space to a proper fisking. Fr Maximos has his own blog on which he’s been busy answering Owen White’s thorough going-over of the Ravenna statement. (America says you have to register so bugmenot, do your thing.)

Long story short: the scope of the Pope.

(Not his office’s existence. This past Sunday the Orthodox on the Gregorian calendar commemorated St Clement of a-Clementing fame as Pope of Rome as the Julian-date ones such as the Russians do 13 days afterwards.)

Which RCs insist isn’t a big issue and the Orthodox just as strongly insist is.

What divides all Catholics from all Protestants is church infallibility.

But as Fr Christopher further explained at Preludium belief in that is split into two irreconcilable views of it, the modern Roman view of the papacy and conciliar. (Note to some visitors: the Orthodox are not Protestants because they believe in church infallibility.)

Owen and many reasonable Orthodox agree — not just the anti-Western ‘Graceless heretics! It’s a completely different faith!’ Ortho-sites I don’t go to, the barking ex?-Protestant converts mining the most obnoxious xenophobia from Eastern Europe (foaming at the mouth about ‘the ecumenist heresy’ because some, like 19th-century Russians, acknowledge other Christians have a lot in common with them and are willing to talk to them).
For reunion to take place one of the two communions will have to cease to be who she is now.
And as Fr Christopher suggests it’s a fight among three not between two views: either Rome as she says she is, the conciliarists (counting not only Easterners but non-Protestants like Deacon Jim in the Polish National Catholic Church: he believes seven councils are infallible... and of course most Anglo-Catholics outside of England; many English ones are devout papalists) or the Protestants’ ‘there is no infallible church’.

Only one will be left.

In a way it’s another Type I versus Type II issue.

At the other extreme from the hateful fanati-dox there’s ‘mainstream modern(ist) RC with Byzantine trappings’ as much of Byzantine Catholicism is.

A big issue really is would reunion turn the Orthodox into that? Or if it’s so close, and it is, why isn’t it really then?

Owen like old friend Brendan Ross thinks Orthodoxy with the Vatican glued on top, even with Rome’s no-latinisation policy, wouldn’t be Orthodoxy.

He writes:
Why not then be really tired of our division with Lutherans, or with Mormons? The reason, I suspect, that a few Orthodox so tire with the "division" with Rome is that Rome is so big, so strong, and so mighty (to quote an old Sunday School song). They have a box church on every other corner, they can access huge amounts of money (especially conservative [Roman] Catholics), they have cool things like EWTN, they are present in movies and popular culture (as of yet, no one has made a Russian mob version of The Godfather), conservative [Roman] Catholics have a huge and influential intellectual apparatus (there is no Orthodox First Things, no Orthodox sitting on an endowed chair of jurisprudence at Princeton, no Orthodox Ave Maria pizza-financed university, no Orthodox press which yet has the size and influence of Ignatius Press, and so on...), one can count on one's fingers the number of Orthodox institutions of higher learning in North America, you get the picture. All of us, I imagine, know [Roman] Catholics who are great neighbors and great friends. But there is more...

It’s foolish to try and ignore or rail against (Protestant fashion) the biggest member of the Catholic family, the one that in common knowledge has exclusive rights to the name!

And like Soloviev’s point (when he wasn’t dabbling in Jacob Boehme’s thought or writing hack ultramontane books like Russia and the Universal Church — thought I’d like it but didn’t; it was unfair to the Orthodox); the two sides at heart really are close:

This and this are glimpses of the true face of Western Catholicism.

Like Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre’s ‘eternal Rome’?

Her venerable liturgy is far older than any of her heresies’ as Orthodox St John of Shanghai and San Francisco put it, representing the view of his church.

The Serbian Orthodox in Fr Maximos’ first paragraph don’t know or remember that — I’m reminded of Fulton Sheen’s ‘people don’t hate Rome; they hate what they think it is and often rightly so’ — but in many ways they ‘get it’; they don’t want to be ethnic Novus Ordo but will fight for a natural traditionalism, entirely Type II not liturgy by fiat.

Economy about divorce and remarriage... interesting that. In theory it doesn’t make sense — unlike ‘until death us do part’ (there’s no exchanging vows in the Byzantine Rite) in Orthodoxy the first marriage is sacramental and eternal but the wronged party in a church divorce (for adultery, abuse or abandonment) may remarry for charity’s sake (the idea was to save the wronged party and the children from starving to death) in a kind of blessed adultery or concubinage — but it historically is not a reason for the split. (The Melkites kept this for a century and a half after union with Rome.)

The Orthodox ‘get’ liturgy and the exercise of authority — as an old friend once put it they’re an embarrassment to the Western liberals who hate the Pope because he’s Catholic; they don’t look like AmChurch or AffCath.

(As Anglican Affirming Catholics claim the C word along with us it’s only fair to ask them: do you believe in an infallible church?)

Did the theoretical differences between Rome and the East, most of which go over my head, cause the Western phenomena of AmChurch or the ‘Reformation’ for that matter?

Economy for contraception is new. The Orthodox who do it are where the Anglicans were in the 1950s, cautious and conservative. People don’t ’dox to be swingers like some ex-Romans go mainline Protestant (no stinking infallible church will tell me it’s not a sin; ‘The Episcopal Church: We’re More Lenient Than the Church You’re Mad At’ as Treat says). But this is a problem you can’t really overlook like the divorce issue. All Christians were on board with the traditional ban until 1930; the Pope has held the fort but it’s not peculiarly Roman like the papal claims.

Finally, please, no more conservative rhetoric about bl**dy ‘clown Masses’. Even the naffest liberal RC stopped doing them 35 years ago when he saw that clowns scare the cr*p out of most kids.

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