Thursday, April 26, 2012

Western Rite Orthodoxy and Uniatism, or can a church really have more than one rite?
One has its own bishops.

Interesting. Regular readers know my line. There is only one real difference between the two churches, an inch wide and infinitely deep. Probably impossible to reconcile. (So much for the idea of uniates as bridge churches? Lowercase; Uniate = Greek Catholic.) But whether it is, by someone smarter than me, or, as I think, one side gives in and joins the other, then what?

Anonymous’s description of Greek Catholicism is like my idea of ‘Cathodoxy’, Orthodoxy brought on board with Rome, what Greek Catholicism should have been but isn’t; Greek Catholics are very Novus Ordo-fied though better than standard Novus. That and the varyingly byzantinized WROs make me wonder: on paper of course the church can have many rites but it’s awfully hard to pull off. The majority rite ends up squashing the others, intentionally or not.

Chris Jones is right that the uniates on either side make sense given each one-true-church claim but I think of Catholic priest Ernest Skublics writing that they’re the ultimate nasty statement about the other side. (Russian propaganda about the Ukrainian Catholics, complaining because they resurfaced and took back the parishes the Russians under the Communists stole from them, makes that clear.)

The two one-true-church claims are a little different. Rome’s is more nailed down so it gives the Orthodox a lot of leeway. Namely, it doctrinally acknowledges their orders* and thus their churchness (Protestants aren’t churches) while falling short of being the church. Born Orthodox get the benefit of the doubt so venerating Orthodox saints is not a problem. (The tiny Western-convert-driven Russian Catholic Church, which liturgically commemorates Orthodox saints, has a line: ‘We have bishops – the Russian Orthodox and OCA – but right now they’re not Catholic.’) Although it’s benevolent to the other side, of course it doesn’t teach that the church is divided. It can’t. The Orthodox dogmatize that they are the church and have sacraments, full stop. Everything else, from mirroring Rome’s recognition (eternal memory, Archbishop Vsevolod of Chicago; met him; fine person) to ‘Graceless hereticsssss!’, is in their range of allowable opinion.

Sure, looking a little like the ‘wrong’ side makes the rank and file uncomfortable. Lots of cradle Catholics have never heard of the Greek Catholics are are freaked out when they learn of them.

Both uniatisms come generally in two versions, one closely following the ‘real’ thing on the other side, what Rome tells the Greek Catholics to do and what Antiochian WRO’s like, and the other changed or unique to its side, what most Greek Catholics do and what ROCOR WRO is like. I get it; understandable because of the one-true-church claim, but if you’re going to byzantinize it so much, why bother?

Besides having the full Greek, Russian etc. liturgy, ‘Cathodoxy’ should have what I think are the best and almost unique things in Orthodoxy: grassroots traditionalism (populism, church from the ground up) and Leonid Ouspensky’s view of icons, halfway between a picture and a sacramental presence, which may not be ancient but I like it. Possible under Rome? I’ll leave that to the experts. Like the reigning Pope.

The Catholic legitimate liturgical movement, the one before Vatican II (yuck), not ‘aggiornamento’ or ‘liturgical renewal’, was really interested in the Eastern rites. Probably found something in their grassroots traditionalism too.

Greek Catholicism had a couple of big chances. The Ukrainian Catholic Church in the beginning, at the end of the 1500s, was much bigger than now: the metropolitan of Kiev and much of the Ukraine and Byelorussia; it had a chance of bringing Russia (which didn’t break with Rome until years after 1054) back in. The Ukraine declined and Russia absorbed it so that was that. Ukrainian Catholic = ex-Polish Galicia. The Melkites started when a patriarch of Antioch converted in the early 1700s; that just caused a schism and the Orthodox faction got another patriarch from the Greeks, the Antiochians now.

Notes from the underground: 20th-century Ukrainian Catholic history is heroic, how a traditional Catholic church survived 40 years of modern persecution. Take notes, whether the next one comes from the SWPLs grown up or the Mohammedans (both Christian heresies?).

Христосъ воскресе!

From Ad Orientem.

*Criteria for validity are easy: credal orthodoxy so basic the Nestorians pass, unbroken claim of succession of bishops and historically consistent orthodox doctrine about the Eucharist. (Why the Anglicans don’t have it: Cranmer and the Articles on the Eucharist.) The closest to a branch theory the faith comes but not an actual branch theory.

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