Monday, December 01, 2014

Francis and Bartholomew: much ado about nothing

St. Peter founded the see of Rome; St. Andrew, on whose feast this meeting took place, did not found the see of Byzantium/Constantinople. Bartholomew is not "the Orthodox Pope."

Gabriel Sanchez notes:
Everyone realizes that if the Ecumenical Patriarch claimed he was reforging communion with Rome, every other Orthodox Patriarchate would excommunicate him, right?

P.S. The Great Schism is not about to end.

P.P.S. Francis is not the first Pope to meet with the Ecumenical Patriarch.

P.P.P.S. In fact, he's not even the first pope to meet with Bartholomew.

P.P.P.P.S. The Union of Brest was better than nothing at all.
(End of his quote.)
He was ONLY acknowledging Bartholomew as a brother bishop. No problem.
Trouble with Orthodoxy is that it is very ethnic and each patriarch speaks for his flock. Pan-Orthodoxy is basically an American thing. It will never be united enough to join with Rome. The different Eastern Catholic Churches are not accepted by the Orthodox and are referred to as Uniates. Still many theological hurdles to overcome.
It's a loose communion of ethnic churches actually little to do with each other. "Ethnic" is not bad; it's natural. Christianity is both propositional (you choose Jesus) and tribal (the church, the mystical body of Christ, which we believe is visible: those under the Pope and his bishops). Catholicism is ethnic much of the time (the church is best as the Church Local) but the universality supersedes it. Orthodoxy's problem is it flip-flops that. Also, all of their defined doctrine (vs. their opinions) is true (the first seven councils) so unlike Protestants, corporate union (meaning they become Catholic) is possible and desirable. It probably won't happen (that kind of ecumenism is dead) but it's still our goal.
I actually preferred ethnic Orthodox. They were less pissed when I went back to Rome than the converts. Actually, none of them were pissed.
They often are much nicer; they know who they are so they don't feel like they have to prove anything to you.
The Greeks and Arabs were very kind to me in my six years. The Russians? Mixed bag but I only knew one ethnic Russian and he was always kind. After I left? All the converts save a handful turned their backs on me and spread all sorts of vicious lies. After a few years, I despised converts.

And the biggest obstacles to unity lie in the Slavic Churches and on Mt. Athos in my honest opinion.
I'm not in face-to-face contact with any of them. One convert I knew for 15 years did what you said (ex-Catholic; he's not happy; he parish-hops in Orthodoxy). Mt. Athos is nuts. The Russians are a world power so they pretend they're the universal church too. So there you go. I did meet nasty anti-Catholic ethnic Russians (after all, it was ROCOR) but they were the exception.
I found ROCOR and OCA converts to be the worst of the bunch. Just thinking about it makes me glad to be Catholic.
ROCOR converts can be nasty; self-hating Westerners. The few OCA ones I met were weird liberals being "spiritual" (plus two nice conservative priests, typical converts); very different from the nice, Catholic-like (descended from ex-Catholics 100 years ago) ethnic rank and file.
I missed Western Christianity (Anglican heritage). So I came back after 20 years.
Right; there's a huge difference between loving Byzantium (which we as Catholics do) and worshipping Byzantium (turning your back on the rest of the church).
After getting my transfer of ritual church I would call myself a member of the Russian Orthodox Church in Union with Rome (ROCUR); under Benedict and now Francis I have not evaded the label Catholic. For one thing, I don't have to shun the traditions of the Oriental Orthodox and the Church of the East as un-Orthodox. (Or my American Protestant roots.) I feel spiritually closer to some of my (canonical) Orthodox friends than to most Catholics.
Oh, right; ROCUR. Love it. Been to St. Michael's, Manhattan (Mulberry Street in Little Italy, north of Old St. Patrick's) and love that.
Catherine Doherty thought of herself as one of us, but I think there was a canonical problem with that, her (Polish) mother having been baptized Roman.
The version I've heard (from the late Fr. Serge, for example) is she was a born Orthodox whose mother was a pious ethnic-German convert from Lutheranism (much like the empress of Russia that way). She thought that would hinder her work in the Catholic Church so she lied about it, claiming somehow she'd been Roman Rite all her life. She stayed away from things Eastern until her friend Archbishop Joseph (Raya) influenced her to include some of it at Madonna House in Canada. She should have been Russian Catholic; canonically she was but in practice she wasn't.
I take it that when she opened Friendship House in Harlem in 1938 it was Fr. Rogosh of St. Michael's who blessed it. The future Abp. Joseph didn't come to the US until ten years later.
I knew that they knew each other; still, she never identified as an Eastern Catholic.

Traditionally the church determined a family's rite by the father (hooray for headship).
Normally a child belongs to the ritual church of the father, but if the father was not baptized Catholic and the mother was, that of the mother.
But the baron was baptized, chrismated, and communed, just out of communion with us. So would the mother's rite prevail simply if she were Catholic?
I think so.
Dom Benedict Andersen:
When I was Orthodox I was always annoyed with my co-religionists raining on the ecumenical parade (see my "Eirenikon" days). Now that I am a Catholic "revert" I often find myself having to put a damper on Catholic enthusiasm about reunion every time the Pope meets with an Orthodox hierarch. I pray for unity every day, but let us be sober and honest and take the vast majority of Orthodoxy at their word, that they don't want reunion as things stand — and things aren't so rosy in Rome now, especially considering the sorry state of Catholic liturgical life (see the Pope's desperately sad Mass at the RC cathedral in Istanbul, and compare with the Divine Liturgy of his brother Patriarch). (End of his quote.)
"When I was Orthodox I was always annoyed with my co-religionists raining on the ecumenical parade (see my 'Eirenikon' days)."

Maybe I'm only speaking for myself but "because we wanted to come back."

"Now that I am a Catholic 'revert' I often find myself having to put a damper on Catholic enthusiasm about reunion every time the Pope meets with an Orthodox hierarch."

Yes, for most other Catholics, when it comes to this stuff, every day is Groundhog Day (Bill Murray time-loop movie). "It's 1964 (in other ways would that it were) and this is oh-so-important; it means the schism is just about to end!" No. Ignorance about the Orthodox is a perennial problem, but generally I've found other conservative Catholics, compared to other Catholics, pretty well informed. There's been a sort of "ecumenism of the trenches" as many of us took refuge in Greek Catholic parishes after Vatican II, some being called to become Eastern. Educational. My first traditional Catholic liturgy (not counting Anglo-Catholic Masses) nearly 30 years ago was Ukrainian.
The new Slavophilia has made hope of reunion with them virtually impossible for the foreseeable future.
Yes. Russia is "the Third Rome," still a world power, with an empire spanning 11 time zones, nukes, and a natural-gas monopoly in Europe. They're the only Orthodox country that matters geopolitically. So they don't think they need to be in the universal church; in fact they pretend they ARE the universal church. But interestingly Westernized in subtle, appealing ways, from baroque art and "operatic" music to scholasticism pressed into service of the schism and the Russian state. They want to be us and sort of think they ARE us. (Our Lady of Kazan in St. Petersburg is a copy of St. Peter's.)

As Dr. Olsen wrote:
I’m all for cooperation between various Christian bodies, but I do think ecumenism in the sense of corporate reunion is over.


  1. Well, just in case your readers don't know that there may be opinions different from yours which may have as much or even a tad more validity, allow me to relay that in fact Orthodox do believe they have quite a lot in common with each other across our various jurisdictions. As it happens, we actually believe that we all indeed believe the very same - not similar, not close - but the identical to what the Lord revealed, the Apostles proclaimed, and the Church has guarded. And further, that anybody can walk off the street and understand what those beliefs are by what we pray.

    And yes, our jurisdictional administrative apparatus is less than ideal and so forth, and yes, in the face of onslaughts of the modern age, we raise an ethnic shield to protect that integrity of belief. But this stands as a mirror image to the Roman Catholic Church, which in spite of its clarity of jurisdictional/administrative operations is rife with internal dissent about core beliefs. You are free of course to opt for the external clarity of the Roman communion, but we Orthodox believe that comes at the price of internal cohesion and real communion, thereby rendering, sadly, Roman Catholics much closer to their Protestant offspring than us, and to say otherwise is to obfuscate and confuse.

    1. Allow me to relay that in fact Orthodox do believe they have quite a lot in common with each other across our various jurisdictions.

      They don't really give other Orthodox countries/ethnicities much thought. Not as disconnected as the Monophysites but still. Yes, in theory your view of the church's internal unity mirrors ours, since we have the same core doctrine, including the visible, infallible church, and the same sacraments. Which is why saying we're closer to Protestants is garbage. Protestants don't have real bishops or the Mass. The common man gets it: you're a more ethnic Catholicism minus the Pope.

      And further, that anybody can walk off the street and understand what those beliefs are by what we pray.

      As is true in the Catholic Church with the Novus Ordo in English as reformed by Pope Benedict XVI, the Tridentine "Latin" Mass I go to, and the various Eastern rites including yours. Sure, translated from Latin, medieval Greek, Slavonic, etc.

      In the face of onslaughts of the modern age, we raise an ethnic shield to protect that integrity of belief.

      Well put. There's something to be said for that but not at the expense of the church's universality.

      External and internal clarity: our defined doctrine including the catechism is online for all to read. We're not the Anglican Communion, externally united but rotten with heresy. The Popes have consistently defended the true apostolic faith.

      Internal dissent about core beliefs.

      On your side, core and not so core beliefs: the calendar war, Moscow vs. Constantinople, the great sellout on contraception (just like Protestants), homosexualism, feminism... all you've got going for you vs. us is you had the good sense not to modernize your worship services. You have many of the same problems we do, including attrition as the third generation in America becomes less ethnic (the Greek Catholic churches here are endangered) and clergy sex scandals.

  2. Thank you for the thoughtful rejoinder. What exactly do you mean by the reforms of Pope Benedict? Making sure the Latin was accurately translated, as in "I believe" replacing "We believe" for the Credo?

  3. I thought this was a pretty good Orthodox comment, quoting Roman pope Francis.

    My own comment on that: Since the recent metting between the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Roman Pope ecumaniacs and those who believe that "ecumenism" is a heresy have been doing their respective nuts.

    It suggests a rather nice mixed metaphor.: both those who dig in their heels and those who are too quick off the mark are barking up the wrong tree, and need to take note of this.

    Oh, and of course Bartholomew isn't the Orthodox Pope, Theodoros is.


Leave comment