Thursday, August 21, 2014

Still more about Greek Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and byzcath

R.A. writes:
It's interesting to see the various ways that Eastern Catholicism attempts to define itself - byzcath being a sort of crazy lay face. My advice would be: read Adam DeVille and turn off your computers. Still, I do understand their confusion. Eastern Catholicism seems torn between its Orthodox heritage and its Latin heritage. I think the future lies in the 'Orthodox in communion with Rome' (OICWR)-lite direction, as strange as that sounds (provided they iron out the silly elements of their theology). Trying to be too cuddly with the Latin Church is just a dead end for them. They can't have their churches fiddled with by Italians. Just doesn't work. Let them vote for popes and turn up for councils. No need for anything else other than a native legate who keeps a desk in Rome.

It's good to see the Ukrainians, for example, self-designate their leader as a Patriarch. No need for Roman approval of that - it's not historical or necessary. As Robert Taft said, any mail from Rome with 'Major Archbishop' should be returned with 'insufficient address'.
Not bad. As I like to say, everything in church polity except the papacy and the episcopate is negotiable. Not doctrine; polity. That's the basis of our dialogue with the Orthodox: all that's on the table.

You're right: "not historical nor necessary." Making the Ukrainian supremo a patriarch is of course no problem; I have none calling him that. I think Josyf (Slipyj) started that.

So by "OicwR lite" you mean liturgically Orthodox (the unlatinized form) AND faithful to Catholic doctrine/the magisterium. The trouble with byzcath, in my experience, is you go there expecting that and instead get the "crazy lay face," the branch theory in Byzantine drag, which is the bad kind of OicwR.

The unlatinized form is both good in itself and a witness to the Orthodox.

Robert Taft is one of those weird voices in Greek Catholicism who hates Catholic traditionalists: both an Eastern snob and liberal. A mentality that's infected byzcath. So they think the conservative Catholics who take refuge at their churches for the liturgy are an embarrassment. They'd rather hang out in academe blowing hot air about women deacons and sounding mystalicious.

I knew things were getting bad when at a talk over 20 years ago I heard a Ukrainian Catholic priest apologize for "sexist language" when quoting something. Being dhimmi under secular humanism.

C.N. writes:
You know, ironically, we are just meant to accept Catholic doctrine. How we end up at it is doesn't quite matter. Just as long as we get the dogma straight. So yes, liturgically Orthodox, or Orthodox Liturgy with a little bit of approved add-ons (I loath it but I see the value), is all good. Just stick to the barebones, or the "framework".
Nobody's telling you or the Orthodox to latinize.

I'm "both/and" as I believe the mind and heart of the church are. The beauty of Catholicism vs. Orthodoxy is it doesn't force you to hate one to love the other. So like the Roman Rite has both the Extraordinary and Ordinary Forms, the Greek Rite has both unlatinized (Orthodox-style) and latinized forms (adopted by choice centuries ago). That said, I hear you about defending Byzantine Rite patrimony. The church agrees!

byzcath at its worst is a kind of intellectual porn for geeks looking for an excuse to leave the church, like a gateway drug (mixed metaphor) to online Orthodoxy.

The relativism there is simpatico with the spirit of the times ("COEXIST"). It resembles the new high-church Episcopalians - credally and liturgically almost conservative enough to please real conservatives, ecclesiologically liberal enough to please liberals. Plus it's small enough for the mainstream not to take seriously; it's cute. And political correctness works for it: unlike Latin Catholicism old and new, it's exotic. But my guess is such a version of "Byzantine church" is not going far and probably will fade away, a niche/hobby religion for some intellectuals, just like the new high-church Episcopalianism.

Regular readers know my pessimistic prognosis for all Greek Catholicism in North America.
It's just that I'm getting quite tired of this issue and it could be settled once and for all if we just stuck to the original principle. All of us. Unfortunately, as you are already aware, some people think they know more than everyone else.
Right, the dissenters who thumb their noses at Rome but don't become Orthodox either are the dangerous know-it-alls, literally giving "Orthodoxy in communion with Rome" a bad name. I still say both/and. Unlatinized and latinized. Catholicism. Not liturgical and/or cultural fetishism.

Šizko jedno (not sure of the spelling) Wszystko jedno as the Poles and Rusyns say: it's all one.
For the peace of the world, for the well-being of the holy churches of God, and for the union of all, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.
The priest or deacon leads this litany at Liturgy and some of the offices; great for lay private prayer too.

Pictured: St. Michael's Ukrainian Catholic Church in Baltimore, which I visited 19 years ago. Then, the priest was from Slovakia and married; nice man. His son was active in some Roman Riters' activities in the area; I forget which.


  1. Re: Taft. Yes a snob in a way, but he's encountered too many ignorant Ultramontanes and Orthodox and he wastes no words in destroying them. There is no better person around to destroy in a single sentence the crap that one hears from both those sides. He's a polemicist (albeit an excellent scholar) with all the baggage that goes along with that.

    1. At byzcath, "ultramontane" has become synonymous with "Catholic," which it's not. The same way the National Catholic Reporter, the American Modernist Catholic rag, puts down Catholics who love and promote our doctrine.

      Stuart Koehl is good at that too; he's intelligent. The troubles are (or were?) intellectually he's not Catholic and he preaches online or at least he used to. If he's stopped, good.

    2. Well I'm not using it that way. I mean the Latins who will tell the East that they can't have married priests or something. Rorate Caeli types.

    3. Right, the myth of Stupid Romans. A big part of byzcath's mythology. Sure, there are lots of ignorant Catholics (always have been), and most Catholics are Roman Riters. That said, I've never met a conservative or traditionalist Catholic in person who ignorantly badmouths the East. If anything, the beatdown we got after Vatican II inadvertently brought us closer as many conservative Catholics take refuge at Eastern Catholic parishes.

    4. I have. There's a lot of them here. I've got a friend who was deep in Traditionalist circles, returned to his Eastern Catholic roots and is now a married deacon. He's copped a lot of nonsense for it.

    5. Very sorry to hear about the nonsense. The ignorant are out there.

  2. I know that Poles say "wszystko jedno" vshyst'ko yedno Ukrainians say "vse yedno". I don't know how Rusins say it but I would assume it would be closer to the Ukrainian than Polish.
    In the wake of the current events in the Ukraine, Carpathians Rusins want to be part of Hungary now!!

    1. That's it! Dziękuję bardzo.

      I thought Rusyns wanted to be part of Czechoslovakia again.


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