Thursday, June 26, 2014

Most of the Lesser Eastern Churches, and more

  • From Ad Orientem: Finnish Orthodox archbishop: Oriental Orthodox are Orthodox. That's essentially what the Catholic Church teaches - with very basic credal orthodoxy, an unbroken claim to apostolic succession, and uninterrupted true teaching about the Eucharist (our quasi-branch theory: our criteria for valid orders), they are an estranged part of the church, just like the Orthodox, but the Finnish Orthodox apparently are the most liberal, mainlinish Orthodox church, affected by their host Scandinavian culture. They're actually a legacy of about 100 years of Russian rule in Finland and reflect crossover with Russia earlier than that, and are something like 1% of the population, the rest being non-practicing liberal high Lutheran. (The Russians didn't try to russify the Finns; I think rather they promoted Finnish vs. Swedish culture, Sweden being the former longtime ruler. Finns aren't Germanic or Slavic.) The Oriental Orthodox are the Copts, Ethiopians, Armenians, some Syrians, and some Indians. (Not the Nestorian Church in Iraq.) The Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox are still out of communion; hardline Orthodox still think the Oriental Orthodox are Monophysite heretics. The opinion among many Orthodox now is like the Catholic view: it was all a big misunderstanding. The Oriental Orthodox have different rites from the Byzantine and didn't want to be in the Byzantine Empire so they were declared outside the church, a very Orthodox thing to do. With those different rites as well as different languages and cultures, they're even less of a communion than the Orthodox one. (I think there's less of an "Oriental Orthodox" identity, like a Catholic identity, than there are Coptic, Armenian, etc. ones.) Cardinal Kasper: there is no Orthodox Church, only Orthodox churches. But we're not trying to break them up. The Copts are the ancient Egyptians. I think they let the Muslim Arabs in rather than be under the Greeks, and they've been suffering for it ever since. Anyway, the popular perception among outsiders that the Eastern churches are the same may become even truer; since they're the same Eastern family of cultures, with the same locally based ecclesiology, I think they're more likely to reunite (come back into communion) than either is with Catholicism. By the way, the Coptic patriarch uses, and was the first to use, the title of Pope, which is not actually one of THE Pope's formal titles; Pope Theodore is the head of the small Greek community in Egypt that Vassula Ryden was born into.
  • Speaking of dhimmitude in Egypt, did you know that Omar Sharif was born Melkite? He apostatized to Islam when he married.
  • From MCJ: Chesterton said that Protestantism was the church of fossils, a fossil being something that retains the form but is utterly replaced in substance over time. The outward forms, the liturgies, the songs, vestments, etc., may all still be there. But the substance has been replaced with something else. The Protestant movements appear to be reaching the tipping point in substance-replacement in about the order that they were created.
  • The Mariavites. The Medjugorje of their day. They joined the Old Catholics, then were kicked out when they ordained women a long time ago, back when the Old Catholics were still relatively conservative. As you can see and hear, their Mass is very moving and numinous, like ours, and a lot like their Slavic cousins among the Orthodox (the singing sounds very similar). Chalk it up to Polish cultural conservatism, where even the liberals are Catholic. If the church could ordain women, this is what it might have looked like.
  • The church: same religion as Orthodoxy but the Pope is top cop and the iconostasis is optional.


  1. All Eastern churches' culture is basically the same: ethnically based, monk bishops, married parish priests, babies chrismated and communed, long elaborate sung liturgies with incense, etc. The rites and languages differ. The Orthodox, Copts, and Ethiopians have icons; I know the Armenians and Nestorians allow images but don't have the custom of icons. (Because the Nestorian tradition is older than icons.) I know little about the Syrian Church except that the Malankara Church of India's a branch of it; the Maronite Church of Lebanon, which is all Catholic, is an offshoot. The Mar Thoma Church is Indian Episcopalians descended from ex-Malankarese: Eastern-rite Anglicans.

  2. the mariavites, according to wikipedia, actually split into two during the 1930s, one for female clergy and the other faction remaining (to this day) "old catholic". the emergence of the mariavites during the first decade of the 20th century was an interesting time and they were a product of their environment - russian poland was well on it's way to russification (and probably would of ended up like belarus, almost completely russified) - all sermons and education was done in the russian language and during 1914 the czar's army was viewed as "our boys" until after the battle of tannenburg when the retreating russian army, attempting to emulate the napoleonic wars, went with a scorched earth policy and burned all the crop fields, that convinced the peasants maybe nationalism and independence isnt such a bad idea. actually you can still see the russian/german divide in todays poland

    While sympathetic I personally have a difficult time view the Copts as "Orthodox" with a capital "O", it was just a pope or two ago the were going on and on about Jesus having one nature. Those Eastern Orthodox who say theyre one and the same I view in the same light as those "Orthodox in communion with Rome" types. Armenians I am much more open to, in an ecumenical context they just seem like much nicer people. They have actually gone back and forth through the centuries being Calcedonian - I think one faction was until the Byzantine Empire retreated from Cilicia (modern southeastern Turkey). I think the original reason they rejected Chalcedon was politics, the Armenian king thinking the council would make him subject of the Byzantine emperor


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