Moscow Patriarch in favor of Motu Proprio and older Mass

At various times in my articles in The Wanderer, during talks and on this blog I have opined that if we are serious about an authentic ecumenical dialogue, we have to get our liturgical act together: "What must the Orthodox think when they see how we Latins conduct ourselves liturgically?"   At the same time, the solemn Mass in the older use of the Roman Rite is as grand as anything the Easterners do.

I see now that the estimable Andrea Tornielli of Il Giornale has posted that the Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias, Alexis II, looks with favor on Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum and the derestriction of the older form of Mass.

He also speaks clearly about his view of relations with the Holy See.

The patriarch had finished celebrating the Divine Liturgy for the Dormition of Mass (15 August, The Assumption), in the similarly named Cathedral at the Kremlin.  He was briefly interviewed. 

Here are some of the significant points from Mr. Tornielli’s article (my translation):

n. 203 del 2007-08-29 pagina 25

"The recovery and valuing of the ancient liturgical tradition is a fact that we greet positively.  We hold very strongly to tradition.  Without faithfully guarding the liturgical tradition, the Russian Orthodox Church would not have been in a position to resist during the period of persecution, in the 20′s and 30′s in the 1900′s.  In that time we had many new martyrs, whose number can be compared to the epoch of the first Christian martyrs."

Holiness, how do you see the relationship between Rome and Moscow right now?

"It seems that Pope Benedict XVI has repeated may times that he desires to work in favor of dialogue and collaboration with the Orthodox Churches.  This is positive."

For years already there has been talk of the possibility of a meeting between you and the Pope.  Do you think this is possible?  When?

"A meeting between the Pope and Patriarch of Moscow must be well prepared and absolutely ought not risk a reduction to a photo opportunity or to walk around together in front of television cameras.  It must be a meeting which truly helps firm up the relations between the two Churches…".

You speak of it as if it were rather remote hypothesis.  Why?

"Unfortunately today there are still some Catholic missionary bishops who consider Russia as missionary territory.  But Russia, Holy Russia has already been enlightened with a centuries old faith which, thanks be to God, was preserved and passed on in the Orthodox Church, and is not missionary territory for the Catholic Church.  This is the first point about which it is necessary that problems be clarified and smoothed in view of a meeting with the Pope.  The other problem concerns ‘uniatism’."

Why do the uniate communities, those which maintaining the Eastern Rite and Eastern tradition reentered in full communion with Rome, are regarded as a problem?

"The phenomenon of uniatism is troublesome because we see this tendency also in regions where it never was before, for example in the Eastern Ukraine, Belorussia, Kazakhstan and in Russia herself.  When these problems are dealt with and resolved then a meeting between the Pope and Patriarch of Moscow can be considered.  Then it will truly have its proper meaning."

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72 Responses to Moscow Patriarch in favor of Motu Proprio and older Mass

  1. John H says:

    Of course his ‘holiness’ this ex-KGB murderer of Catholics hates Uniates, they are Catholic. They subject themselves to the Prince of the Apostles, and he spits on that same Prince. Russia is a mission territory, and it will continue to be such as long as this schismatic ‘Patriarch’ prevents his people from uniting themselves with the One True Catholic Church established by Christ.

  2. cor ad cor loquitur says:

    Fr Z, you wrote

    The patriarch had finished celebrating the Divine Liturgy for the Dormition of Mass

    I think you meant to write: the Dormition of Mary. Or perhaps you were sending a subtle message that the older form of Mass had been “asleep” for several decades and was about to be “resurrected” when the MP comes into effect in September…

  3. P. Jeremy says:

    A recently-deceased Ukrainian Catholic physician, long a friend of our family, used to tell – in the kind of chilling detail possible only from the memory of a little child – what it was like watching the Soviet soldiers/police take his father, a seventh-generation Ukrainian Catholic priest, in full-vestments from the Easter morning service “into custody.” According to Doctor K, the soldiers lifted his father up and threw him – vestments and all – into the back of the army truck, which his mother ran after down the road leading from their village until she could run no longer. They did not see him again for 10 years, and count it a miracle that he was released at all! A Russian Orthodox priest was thenceforth driven by a government representative every Saturday night and Sunday to conduct Vigil and Divine Liturgy – though few people submitted to attending such services. Yes, I’m sure Uniatism is a problem for this dour Patriarch, and a constant reminder of Orthodoxy’s shameful role in the “liquidation” (read: martyrdom) of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. We have far higher priorities than kissing his hand – or anything else – in order to have him “deign” to meet with our Holy Father. And I’m sure no one knows that better than Pope Benedict XVI!

  4. Brian Day says:

    In regards to ‘uniatism’, is Patriarch Alexis II saying that the Church must acknowledge the Orthodox Church’s independence from the Papacy before any meeting? Or is there something that I am missing?

  5. danphunter1 says:

    Father,
    All lands and all men who are not Catholic and not in union with the Supreme Pontiff, are a mission territory since the missionaries prime mission is to convert souls to the One True Church for the salvation of same souls.
    God bless you

  6. I remember a discussion with a Greek priest, talking of re-union, he said, “How can we be united with a Church, whose Patriarch with a stroke of a pen dismisses 2,000 years of Holy Tradition. This is not the action of someone who understands the role of the of a Bishop, or the Church, or of the Holy Spirit. This is the act of a vandal and an iconoclast”..
    I didn’t quite know how to answer him.

  7. RBrown says:

    Of course his ‘holiness’ this ex-KGB murderer of Catholics hates Uniates, they are Catholic. They subject themselves to the Prince of the Apostles, and he spits on that same Prince. Russia is a mission territory, and it will continue to be such as long as this schismatic ‘Patriarch’ prevents his people from uniting themselves with the One True Catholic Church established by Christ.
    Comment by John H

    So I take it you wouldn’t want to be a member of the negotiation team.

  8. Matt says:

    It seems to me that the issues that divide Catholic from Orthodox are small and minor. The Schism developed out of pride and a thirst for power that latched onto a few small theological issues.

    Well, today neither the Catholic nor Orthodox churches enjoy any of the power or prestige they did in the Middle Ages and the theological differences, seen in a humbler light, seem laughable.

    Reunion is perhaps vital in this century. It is time to recognize that the (forgive the pun) crux of our Faith is contained in the New Testament, particularly the Gospels. Everything else is theology–suppositions built on that crux, but not revealed Truth.

    In the grand scheme of things, does the Progressions of Persons in the Holy Trinity or angelology really matter? Certainly some theology is important (responding to Arianism and Gnosticism come to mind), but the Primacy of Peter has more to do with politics than salvation.

  9. Matt Robinson says:

    Issues with the Orthodox are incredibly complex. I
    don’t see how they can be resolved, but Rome has
    to make up its mind on how it wants to view the East.

    The East has a legitimate Tradition,
    and many Orthodox fear Roman interference, as Rome
    tried to “latinize” its own Eastern allies, and RC’s often
    still treat Easterners like “second-class” catholics.
    (See Abbott Boniface Lukx’s account of how the Byzantines
    Catholics were disparaged by Cardinals at Vat.II as a case
    in point). The Patriarchates are a thorny issue, as
    the Orthodox truly viewed the creation of Roman
    counterparts as a real offense against Tradition.
    I don’t see what this action really accomplished.

    There really shouldn’t be latin Catholic missions in
    Russia, if we hope for unity, but at the same time what
    does “union” really mean?

    Rome is also having problems with its Eastern counterparts.
    It is a bit of a double standard….for instance Ukraine, which has the
    largest Roman-allied Eastern Church, has no
    patriach due to political reasons involving
    the orthodox, while other tiny churches do get their own
    patriarchs.

    How much Easternization is valid? Ukrainian Catholic
    churches have removed the filioque clause from their
    Nicene Creeds (usually blacked out with a sharpie in
    the missal) in an effort to get back to their roots.

    Yet, how to reconcile the divergent courses of history
    between West and East? What of all the Western councils
    and their western-idiosynchratic theology plus the few Eastern
    councils, that the other does not recognize?

    The Novus Ordo was yet another stumbling block….as
    we removed a lot of Eastern-comparable traditions
    in the effort to shmooze with “loser” denominations
    like the decaying, liberal mainline European branches.

    The Novus Ordo was not part of any effort to
    dialouge with Evangelicals, who are the “real” force of modern
    protestantism anyhow.

    I hope that the Extraordinary Rite will accomplish a major step
    towards a measure of liturgical reconcilation.

  10. Matt Robinson says:

    Sorry for the double post, but I don’t see how Orthodox
    complicity with Stalin has any bearing on future union.
    It wouldn’t have had any bearing on apostolic
    succession.

    There have been many wicked RC Bishops, and even some
    Popes, but this does not invalidate our succession.

    (Is not the complicity of our own Bishops in an utterly
    disorderd “renewal” and their allowing our holy institutions to “go to the
    dogs” just as spiritually devastating from a historical
    perspective as Orthodox complicity with communism??).

    Look at the recent scandal in Poland, involving double-agent
    RC priests, working for the Soviets….exactly the same
    problem there. Pot calling the kettle black.

    Many Orthodox clergy died to protect their faith,
    so it is not fair so smear tens of millions of Russian
    Christians who died under Communist persecution, by
    pointing to the actions corrupt hierarchy.

    If we can’t forgive that (my own Mother is Ukrainian
    by the way) then how should we expect them to let go of
    1204AD and their list of grievances?

  11. The primary difficulty between the Western Church and the Eastern Church (according to an Eastern Rite Catholic Bishop I was once talking to ) is that they have spent the past thousand years hating each other. I regret to see that bitterness and triumphalism towards the Orthodox are still to be found in some of the contributions to this blog. Get over it! Folks! You’re part of the problem rather part of the solution.

    Of course what was done to that “Uniat” priest being dragged from the Altar on Easter sounds horrifying but that was the Soviets, not the Orthodox who had their own martyrs during those days. Those were terrible times.

    What about the crusaders sacking Constantinople, the Polish armies surrounding Moscow and the dubious situation surrounding the birth of the “Uniats” themselves? A lot has happened over the past millenium and it has left a legacy of gudges and mistrust. As for the compromises with the Communists, it is too easy to make rash judgements. Back in the 1930′s the Russian Church was reduced to about two bishops. The compromises meant that people could receive the sacraments. Let God be the judge.

    It is time to put the past behind us and for those who think that Russia is mission territory I can only say that Pope Benedict STRONGLY disagrees with you as did his predecessor.

  12. David Kubiak says:

    One of the most telling points in the ‘Ottaviani intervention’ is the sarcasm directed towards the idea that the NO would improve our relations with the Orthodox. The text rightly points out that Bugnini and Co. were gunning for precisely those Gallican elements in the liturgy that historically connect the Roman rite to the East.

    Which reminds me that I haven’t seen anybody mention the great Cardinal Ottaviani since the MP. If there is such a thing in Heaven as having the last laugh, it certainly belongs to him.

  13. Jeff says:

    Matt,
    “In the grand scheme of things, does the Progressions of Persons in the Holy Trinity or angelology really matter?”

    Everything Dude! What would differentiate the 3rd person from the 2nd person in the Holy Trinity? Nothing! That means there would be no thing to differentiate the HS from the Son, which in turn would mean that they were one and the same, which would be heresy because that would essentially deny the Trinity… and this is one of the reasons for the schism.

    Then the Holy Spirit would be mediated by the 2nd person which would mean that the Holy Spirit and God the Father are not immediate. That is a mind-blowing idea. Hey Jesus, tell God the Father that…
    Sincerely, Jeff

  14. dcs says:

    Matt writes:
    The Schism developed out of pride and a thirst for power that latched onto a few small theological issues.

    I agree that the pride and ambition of Photius, Caerularius, etc. are primarily responsible for the schism. Politics also played a role, as the Ottoman Turks surely did not want any sympathizer of union with the Roman Church to be the Oecumenical Patriarch.

    The Primacy and Infallibility of the Pope and the Procession of the Holy Ghost are all truths that God has revealed through His Church.

    Matt Robinson asks:
    If we can’t forgive that (my own Mother is Ukrainian by the way) then how should we expect them to let go of 1204AD and their list of grievances?

    The Sack of Constantinople took place over 800 years ago and is well outside of living memory. All condemn it. Do the Orthodox condemn the robbery of Catholic property under Stalin? Have they moved to restore it?

  15. Jenny says:

    Usually I don’t post responses to posts or comments, but after reading some of the comments on this post I feel obliged to say something.

    I was going to forward a link to this article to a dear Eastern Orthodox friend who shares the same concerns about liturgy that I do, but after reading a thoughtless and unnecessarily inflammatory remark (John H) and one by someone who is probably very well-intentioned, maybe a bit uninformed, and maybe not fully explaining his position regarding this complex subject (danphunter1), I am unable to forward this on (except the text of Father’s post) because I am deeply saddened by what some of my fellow Catholic brethren have said.

    Regarding this issue, charity and well-informed thoughts are always the vehicle for growth in grace on both sides of the fence. I am fully aware that this is an “informal” blog setting, but because of the nature of the setting, like it or not your comments are available for the whole world to see. I am ashamed that my Orthodox friends could potentially read these comments which neither reflect the mind of Pope Benedict nor of the Church.

  16. Dale Price says:

    While I can understand why the Orthodox are upset about the formation of the Eastern Catholic Churches, they do have their own sins against Eastern Catholics to repent of, as the invaluable Fr. Taft points out in this essential essay (the first one on the url below):

    http://jbburnett.com/theology/theol-ch-ecumenism.html

  17. danphunter1 says:

    Jenny,
    Do you believe that the Catholic Church headed by the successor of Peter, the Supreme Pontiff is the one true Church founded by Christ for the salvation of souls?
    And if you believe this, do you believe that Christ mandated that His priests go forth into the world and baptise and convert all men to His Church?
    If you believe this then what I said was not uninformed, but rather, scripturally based.
    The work of the missionary is to primarily convert all men to the on true Church, the Catholic Church as founded by Christ our Head and watched over by the Supreme Pontiff, who at the present time is His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.
    God bless the Russian Orthodox Church, may she come into full union with Christ in the True Church.
    Deo Gratias.

  18. CDB says:

    If the world continues to become more anti-Christian, events on the ground may eventually do more to bring about practical union among Orthodox and Catholics than any high-level meetings. For an interesting take on this read Vladimir Soloviev’s “A Short Story of Antichrist.” Soloviev was a 19th century Russian Orthodox philosopher (and btw the Dostoevsky’s model for Alyosha in The Brothers Karamozov) who projected a future in which a vehement worldwide persecution drives loyal Christians together.

  19. RBrown says:

    Of course what was done to that “Uniat” priest being dragged from the Altar on Easter sounds horrifying but that was the Soviets, not the Orthodox who had their own martyrs during those days. Those were terrible times.
    Comment by David M.O’Rourke

    Of course, there are those who think the Orthodox Church was controlled by the Soviets.

    The problem between the Uniates and Orthodox is not merely an abstraction–there were Uniate churches confiscated by Stalin and turned over to the Orthodox.

  20. John H and Dan, think. Shall we Orthodox now treat Rome itself as mission territory? Shall we elect and install a Patriarch of Roma and All the West? You’ll perhaps notice that we have not done so for the past nearly thousand years. Feh.

    As an Orthodox Christian, I can definitely say that the aftermath of Vatican II made any work toward a reunion a whole lot more difficult, if not impossible. It may have been the case that differences were once based on the dogmatizing of theological opinion, juridical issues, and especially cultural issues. Now has been added to the pot not even the potential, but the fact, of the Roman Catholic Church to “with the stroke of a pen” have completely altered the liturgy so as to be nearly unrecognizable, a thing utterly unthinkable in the East, and the results of which are horrific. Of course a return to the older mass is appreciated! It should never have changed in the first place!

    Despite slurs on His Holiness Alexi, I will not reciprocate. The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI is a great man, a fine Pope, a man of prayer and holiness and wisdom. Such partners not just at his level but all levels in all Christian charity are what the Orthodox want, and the only such partners who can be trusted.

    The twentieth century is full of many sins of many people, including most of my own so far. Every person needs to repent instead of to point fingers. Any reunion between the Eastern Orthdox and the Roman Catholics is now, I cannot stress enough, only going to be accomplished through a miracle of God (especially in seeing the horrible attitudes in the comments above, which are well enough reciprocated in Orthodox circles, I am certain), not insults, human finger-pointing, he-said-he-said arguments, pseudo-ecumenicism, press releases, sound clips, and the like. His Holiness Alexi is willing to wait for that miracle, and so, it appears is His Holiness Benedict. So should we all be.

  21. Garrett says:

    Regardless of what any Pope, brilliant theologian or not, says (as a private theologian) concerning the Eastern Orthodox and their need of conversion, we can rely authoritatively on Church teaching and tradition to show us that, truly, God desires all to be united with the See of Peter. Russia is and should be viewed as mission territory. You know, not evertything that comes out of a Pope’s mouth is true or doctrinally sound, clearly. The immemorial teachings of the Church regarding those not united to Her trump what any Pope says that contradicts it.

    And just so everyone is clear, I’m not anti-Byzantine whatsoever. I’m a loooong-time member of the Byzantine Forum and have the utmost respect for Eastern theology and liturgy. That doesn’t stop me, however, from recognizing the need for these wonderful Eastern Orthodox believers to, in short, become Catholic.

  22. Kevin,

    Catholics educated on the issue, know what is involved.
    Russia is a practical mission territory, with so much
    spiritual devastation. But I know that the Russian
    Orthodox Faith is the only thing which will save it.
    Having “westerners” go in there only creates more havoc.
    Russia’s soul is Orthodox. I pray for union, but I know
    that a revived Orthodox culture is Russia’s only hope.

    “As an Orthodox Christian, I can definitely say that the aftermath of Vatican II made any work toward a reunion a whole lot more difficult, if not impossible”-Kevin.

    I agree 100%. It’s pretty hard for you to trust the Pope respecting your Tradition, when recent Popes did not respect ours. Internal forces for horizontal, man-centred humanism
    have been the bane of the Western Church since the Renaissance.

    “Despite slurs on His Holiness Alexi, I will not reciprocate. The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI is a great man, a fine Pope, a man of prayer and holiness and wisdom”-Kevin.

    I commend you, and I have learned much from the Orthodox. I respect the ancient apostolic offices of the East, and their occupants.

    “Any reunion between the Eastern Orthdox and the Roman Catholics is now, I cannot stress enough, only going to be accomplished through a miracle of God”-Kevin

    Again, I agree 100% and pray for that day to come.

  23. Jordan Potter says:

    Kevin said: Shall we Orthodox now treat Rome itself as mission territory?

    The Orthodox treat all Catholic territory as mission territory, so why should they exempt the city of Rome?

    Patriarch Alexei needs to stop fuming about the Catholic Church treating atheist Russians as the objects of evangelisation, and should start evangelising — before the Russian people abort and contracept and emigrate themselves into extinction.

    As for “Matt” above (not Matt Robinson), his words sound more Protestant than Catholic.

  24. Jordan Potter says:

    Jeff said: What would differentiate the 3rd person from the 2nd person in the Holy Trinity? Nothing! That means there would be no thing to differentiate the HS from the Son, which in turn would mean that they were one and the same, which would be heresy because that would essentially deny the Trinity…

    What distinguishes the three Persons are their relations. The Son is generated, not spirated, the Spirit is spirated, not generated. The Hypostatic Union involves the Son, not the Spirit. Sounds like there’s a little something to differentiate the Spirit from the Son. How does the infallible dogma of the double procession of the Holy Spirit mitigate the distinction of Persons?

    Then the Holy Spirit would be mediated by the 2nd person which would mean that the Holy Spirit and God the Father are not immediate.

    Does the eternal generation of the Son of God mean the Son is not immediate? Why then would the eternal double procession of the Holy Spirit mean that the Holy Spirit and God the Father are not immediate?

  25. For Garret and danphunter 1 and perhaps a few others above let me clarify my earlier comments. It is not merely Benedict’s personal view but rather it is the official position held by Rome that Russia is NOT a mission territory. This is not to say that Rome doesn’t want reunion with the East under the primacy of the Pope. The Orthodox want this too. The question is just what form Papal primacy would take in the East. Keep in mind that even in the days of the undivided Church the Pope didn’t exercise jurisdiction in the Eastern Church. Authority and jurisdiction are not to be confused.

  26. Christian says:

    Hooray! David M.O’Rourke has it! It is totally contrary to the most ancient traditions of the church that the Pope exercises jurisdiction in the east. This does not mean he does not have the authority. The Queen has the authority to sack the democratically elected British government but never does unless the situation demands no other course of action. If the Orthodox are assured that this is all that accepting papal primacy would mean then I believe that a great leap forward in ecumenical relations would have been achieved.

  27. David is, of course, right. Papal primacy is not rejected by the East, but the primacy that is currently part of Roman dogma is not that which originally existed or was originally exercised by Rome, nor is it one that would have been or could now be accepted by the East. The role of Rome as presiding over the college of bishops (but without juridical authority) as a whole is what the East remembers and preserves. I’ll recommend The Petrine Ministry, by Walter Cardinal Kasper, et alia, including Metropolitan John Zizioulas. The volume is a presentation of numerous papers presented at a symposium of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, which carries a bit more clout than the blog comment of a lay Catholic. Suffice it to say, the issue is complex. Tolle, lege, as they say.

    Before anyone sends missionaries out to the local Orthodox congregations, I suggest you read up a little on what that Church, one communion of one faith (if of unfortunately a bewildering mess of jurisdictions in the US, a problem we’re working on slowly but surely) has endured for that millennium since your patriarch took his leave. The same Church has existed in the same lands, the same cities, and the same buildings, with the same faith and the same liturgies, languages, vestments, iconography, and local cultural expression, surviving quite well with the same Seven Ecumenical Councils, with a few local ones, all the while suffering daily, literal persecution. How has Catholicism fared over the past 40 years in the US alone, without Muslims and Communists oppressing them? Oh, yes, you’ve developed the Clown Mass….

    And, if Orthodox lands are valid targets of missionary activity, why would Roman Catholic Canon Law not bar Orthodox from communion? We are barred by our own canons, certainly, but could theoretically walk into a Roman Catholic Church (at least an orthodox one!), confess, and commune, apparently. And that’s your law, not ours. People considered in communion are not subject for mission as are cannibals and atheists or priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Linz.

  28. ALL: This is not really going in the direction I would prefer.

    The LITURGICAL issue is the far more promising point of discussion.

  29. Jordan Potter says:

    David said: It is not merely Benedict’s personal view but rather it is the official position held by Rome that Russia is NOT a mission territory.

    True, the Church does not regard Russia as mission territory . . . which doesn’t mean Russia isn’t in fact mission territory, even if we don’t call it that. For the good of souls, both Orthodox and Catholic Churches need to re-convert the Russian people to Christianity. Waiting until we work out jurisdictional disputes before we evangelise the un-evangelised is nothing more than rearranging chairs on a sinking ship.

    This is not to say that Rome doesn’t want reunion with the East under the primacy of the Pope. The Orthodox want this too.

    Some do. It’s a hard sell convincing people that Patriarch Alexei wants that. But then many Orthodox want reunion on their terms, which would require the Church to jettison several apostolic doctrines, something that just is never going to happen.

    The question is just what form Papal primacy would take in the East.

    Yes. It will probably take on the form it has with respect to those Eastern Churches whose communion with the Body of Christ is not impaired.

    Keep in mind that even in the days of the undivided Church the Pope didn’t exercise jurisdiction in the Eastern Church.

    Except, that is, for all the times when the Pope exercised jurisdiction in the Eastern Church . . . .

    Authority and jurisdiction are not to be confused.

    Neither are they to be separated. In any case, it is the infallible and irreformable dogma of the Church that:

    The Roman Church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other Church, and that this jurisdictional power of the Roman Pontiff is both episcopal and immediate. Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world. In this way, by unity with the Roman Pontiff in communion and in profession of the same faith, the Church of Christ becomes one flock under one Supreme Shepherd. This is the teaching of the Catholic truth, and no one can depart from it without endangering his faith and salvation. (Pastor Aeternus 2-4)

  30. John R. says:

    I think a strong ecumenical gesture could be made to the Orthodox by granting the Eastern Catholic Churches administrative self government. This means ending the requirement that all Eastern Catholic bishops receive papal appointments, and returning that power of electing and installing bishops to the Holy Synods of the Eastern Churches. Recognizing the Eastern Catholic Churches right to canonize our own saints autonomously from Rome. (After all, this was the practice prior to the schism.)

    Transforming the Oriental Congregation into a more diplomatic arm of the Vatican bureaucracy would be another positive step. No patriarch or Eastern metropolitan ever was appointed by the pope prior to the schism, and they shouldn’t be today.

  31. Jordan Potter says:

    Christian said: It is totally contrary to the most ancient traditions of the church that the Pope exercises jurisdiction in the east.

    One might have difficulty explaining the resolution of the Acacian Schism (to cite just one example) according to that hermeneutic.

    Kevin said: And, if Orthodox lands are valid targets of missionary activity . . .

    Technically “lands” are never targets (objects) of mission, only people are, and only the unbaptised and/or un-evangelised who live there.

    People considered in communion are not subject for mission

    And Catholics and Orthodox are not yet in communion . . . but anyway the Church isn’t interested in “sheep stealing,” but in saving souls. The problem is that the Russian Orthodox Church is not in communion with Peter, and thanks to 70 years of Communism there aren’t very many practicing Christians any more. Many have been baptised, but few know or live the faith. Many more have never been baptised at all. Like it or not, Russia has reverted to de facto mission territory (and don’t be surprised if other parts of Europe or America also revert). Now, if Patriarch ALexei is troubled by encroachments on his jurisdiction, that’s a problem that would be a long way towards a solution were he and his church to reunite with the Catholic Church and his putative title of “Patriarch” were recognised by the Successor of St. Peter . . .

    Fr. Z. said: The LITURGICAL issue is the far more promising point of discussion.

    Well, I agree with what has been said above, that an end of liturgical silliness will have to happen if we expect reunion with the Eastern Orthodox. It’s a shame, a true shame, that the Churches with whom we have always had the greatest likelihood of reuniting were the ones we most offended with the botched liturgical reform after Vatican II. In many ways our liturgy is closer to Protestant liturgy, even though there has never been and probably never will be any realistic hope of corporate reunion with any Protestant denomination (due to the fundamental Protestant doctrines of sola scriptura and private judgment, which breeds schism like rabbits). We should have concentrated on Eastern ecumenism, and let ecumenism with Protestants have a much lower priority — perhaps then we might not have reinvented the liturgy as we did.

    John R. said: This means ending the requirement that all Eastern Catholic bishops receive papal appointments, and returning that power of electing and installing bishops to the Holy Synods of the Eastern Churches.

    The Eastern Churches already have the right to elect and install their bishops. The Pope still has to approve them, however, which is an ancient law of the Church.

  32. As Father Z says, the liturgical issue is the more important. And in that respect, I’ll say that this Orthodox person, the only one for whom I can really speak, is very happy for the Motu Proprio. The relationship of the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom (and that of St Basil, which is very nearly identical to it) to the Tridentine order of Mass is much clearer than that of the post-Vatican II Pauline Mass. Although many “Eastern” elements were supposedly incorporated into the new Mass, they are apparently not elements which are commonly in use in our Liturgy (to put the most charitable spin on it).

    It is not just a case of lex orandi lex credendi, but also lex vivendi. I would also like to see a return of the vibrancy of orthodox Catholic life in the USA that I recall from childhood, instead of the current sort with de-habited Birkenstock-clad nuns in gay abortionist peace and justice marches or whatever. Such a revival would be a good thing. It may take a new edition of the Missale Romanum, one which is more similar to the 1962 than the 1970 edition, to the dismay of many, no doubt. I would think that’s coming in the not too distant future. Such an edition is, I think, absolutely necessary. Permission is one thing, in the case of Summorum Pontificum, but obligation is a better motivator toward good behavior, is it not? Get your liturgical New Coke out of the way, and though the soon-to-appear Classic Coke may not be exactly the same as the old Coke, it’ll still be a good deal more like it, and maybe even a little better.

    But, above all this, I would be even happier at the moment with Father Z’s long-awaited WordPress upgrade, so the stupid comment box doesn’t zoom off the edge of the page anymore when typing.

  33. M Kr says:

    The attitude of the Orthodox (and also Eastern Catholics) should be an encouragement to us Latins in rediscovering our tradition! So many practices that many Latins have become ashamed of over the last half-century are practiced by all the Old Churches such as:
    -using archaic language in services
    -priest facing east during Mass
    -using chant
    -using incense, many images in Churches, etc.

    The Latin church must not be embarrased about these things and try to sweep them under the rug. These are simply the practices of historic Christianity.
    As Fr. Z pointed out, a High Roman Mass is just as splendid as any Eastern Divine Liturgy. There are things we can learn from the East as well, such as the importance they place on public celebration of the principal hours of Divine Office. Almost all Orthodox parish churches have Vespers on Saturday evening and Matins on Sunday morning (sometimes anticipated on Sat.) before Divine Liturgy (all sung), but too often we Latins complain when Mass lasts too long. Thus, we in the West can learn again how to appreciate dedicating the Lord’s Day more completely to prayer. But again, such attitudes are not foreign to Latin tradition – they just need to be rediscovered – and looking to the East is a great way to begin.

  34. Henry Edwards says:

    “How can we be united with a Church, whose Patriarch with a stroke of a pen dismisses 2,000 years of Holy Tradition. This is not the action of someone who understands the role of the of a Bishop, or the Church, or of the Holy Spirit.

    As a serious-minded young Protestant and student of science and mathematics, I discovered the Catholic Church about a decade before Pope Paul VI’s decision. My interest was first attracted — as by a bolt of lightning in a single exposure at my first Mass on All Saints Day in 1956 — by the compelling beauty and sanctity of the traditional Roman rite. This led to some personal investigation of Church history up to that date, which convinced me of the centrality and stability of the Petrine ministry and of the indefectability of the Church.

    I often think how fortunate it is that my first exposure came when it did, because I fear that same young Christian student would not be so much impressed with the Protestantized Mass he’d most likely see in the same church today if he ventured through its doors in the same untutored way I did back then. Certainly, a study of the history of recent decades would hardly provide the same compelling evidence of the stability of the Petrine ministry. And, in view of the masses of Catholics led terribly astray in this period by the Church as it appeared to them in their own parishes and dioceses, it surely requires a much more careful choice of words to explain sensibly just what the indefectability of the Church really means, as opposed to those days a half century ago when it all seemed so plain and simple to young folks like me. How much more difficult to understand this must be for an Orthodox Christian accustomed to stability of doctrine and liturgy.

  35. Florida John says:

    Kevin said: “with the stroke of a pen” have completely altered the liturgy so as to be nearly unrecognizable, a thing utterly unthinkable in the East, and the results of which are horrific. Of course a return to the older mass is appreciated! It should never have changed in the first place!”
    I attended a Western Othodox Liturgy that was completely different from the Byzantine Liturgy I was used to. They celebrated the Mass of St. Gregory the Great with Orthodox modifications and in English. Believe me I thought I was at a Tridentine Mass, it was so much the same. So changes happen even in the Eastern Church!
    One final note: Our Lady appeared in Egypt a few years ago (approved by the local Orthodox Bishop) and said: “I have said: The Church is the kingdom of Heaven on earth. He who divides it has done wrong, and he who rejoices in its division has also done wrong. My children, be united. My feast is when I see all of you gather together. Your prayer is My feast. Your faith is My feast. The unity of your hearts is My feast.”

  36. Joe Washinski says:

    There is a long, long way to go before the Eastern Orthodox will ever consider any reunification with the Holy See. Rather than point a finger at Patriarch Alexey, we in the Latin Church (I will not use the term Roman Catholic, since it is originially a slur from Anglicans and a term used only in the English speaking world) have a lot of cleaning up (or, as my Western Pennsylvania-born mother says, a lot to “redd up”.

    Most in the Latin Church know little or nothing about the Eastern Catholic Churches. No surprise there. Pope John Paul II wrote Orientale Lumen, which urges the Eastern Churches to return to their true liturgical practices and traditions and cast off latinizations, as well as for Latin Catholics to grow in understanding and appreciation of the Christian East. Like so many of John Paul II’s writings, it has been ignored.

    Russia itself is not mission territory. The Catholic church does have the right to minister to the descendants of those Catholics of all Particular Churches deported by Stalin all over the former Soviet Union, including Russia proper. There is a significant ethnic Polish community in Kazakhstan, and they have the right to be Latin Catholic if they so choose.

    Problematic for Patriarch Alexey is Ukraine. Here, the Russian chauvinism shows. The Patriarchate of Moscow originally belonged to Kyiv. The Moscow Patriarchate considers all of Ukraine to belong to her. For that matter, many in the Kremlin.think Ukraine should be theirs. Well, it isn’t. Regardless of the circumstances of the Union of Brest-Litovsk and the Union of Uzhorod, they have taken place. If unchurched Ukranians are reached by missionary work of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, this isn´t the concern to Patriarch Alexey – whom incidentally, was upset when Major Archbishop Husar relocated the see of the UGCC from Lviv to Kyiv.. Ukraine doesn’t belong to the Russian Orthodox church or Moscow or Poland or anyone else.

    The Latin Church is going to have to clean itself up from the terrible messes that have occurred after Vatican II and that’s just a start. Both Orthodox and Catholics face graver threats that deserve attention far more than the nastiness that occurred in the second millenium. Secularism and radical Islam are on the rise.

  37. Brian Mershon says:

    http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/mershon/060629

    Will the Freeing of the Traditional Mass aid Reunion with the Orthodox?

    Archbishop Burke and Bishop Rifan Comment

  38. Dan the Man says:

    Father Z.,

    This is my first post on your wonderful site. If we’re looking for points of unity with the Patriarch, I’m sure most of your readers could only concur with his welcoming of the return to normality of the traditional form of the Roman Rite.

    One feature of the ER when celebrated as a Low Mass, was (is) concluding prayers—three Aves, a Salve Regina, and a prayer to St Michael—the so-called ‘Leonine prayers’. These have their origin in Pius IX’s struggle for the freedom of the Church, but in 1930 Pius XI desired that these prayers be offered with the intention of bringing about the freedom of the Church in Russia. This was transformed in popular perception to praying for the conversion of Russia, something to do with the need to consecrate Russia to the Our Lady expressed at Fatima.

    What does the ‘Church in Russia’ refer to? In 1930, it obviously includes a reference to the persecuted Uniate Church. But I find no history of an adjective qualifying ‘Church’, and at this time no Latin or Uniate hierarchy had been established in the territories of Russia, as opposed to those of the Soviet Union.

    Understanding what the Pope meant by ‘freedom’ must also be seen against the background of the historical moment. In 1929 the Vatican had secured its freedom in the Concordat with the Italian government, so it is likely that what Pius XI desired was the freedom of the Church not only from government persecution, but also government interference. This intention, while it would also concern the severe problems faced by the Ukrainian Uniates at the time, must also have referred to the Orthodox Church. With the collapse of the Tsarist system in 1917 the Russian Church was at last free to restore its long-suppressed patriarchate. This didn’t last long, of course, and the new Soviet regime wasted no time in causing trouble for the Russian and Uniate Churches. Within the Orthodox Church they fostered the Renovationist schism. A power-to-the-people movement which promoted Socialist ideals. Antonin Granovsky, a leader of the movement, also experimented with the liturgy, by moving the altar to the middle of the church, translating the liturgy into modern Russian, etc. (Sound familiar?) But in any case, the major problem facing the Russian Church in 1930 was government interference. The severe phase of persecution followed, and by 1941, when Stalin decided he wanted the Russian Church back, it had almost been exterminated. I don’t want to seem blasphemous, but the Patriarch may be understating the case when he says the numbers may be compared to the epoch of the first Christian martyrs—-in the space of a decade nearly 100,000 priests (let alone laity and religious) were murdered.

    But the enduring problem, even when this age of martyrdom passed, was government interference and control. The collapse of the Soviet regime means that now, for the first time since the sixteenth century, the Russian Church enjoys a high degree of freedom—-and with some recent laws a high degree of privilege. Is this the result of prayers answered? I think so, but this would mean that among other things we have been praying, and now at Mass again can pray, for the freedom of the Russian Orthodox Church. This freedom allows the Russian Church to evangelize (I was amazed to see an earlier posting claim that the Russian Church is not trying to re-evangelize Russia!), and allows the Patriarch of Moscow to entertain the possibility that he might meet with the Successor of St Peter.

    So, bring on the ER, and pray for the freedom of the Church in Russia (Orthodox and Catholic), so that the Holy Spirit is free to do His work.

  39. Christopher says:

    Fr. Raymond Blake,

    To response to your writing about the Greek-priest.

    A very mature understanding is needed of the Papacy.

    1. The Pope may commit an immoral act and may also sign an immoral law. he is not impeccable.

    2. We are obliged not to obey immoral law, but actually to disobey. This is true Obedience, i.e. due to God. A monarch is monarch, but the law has not applicability from a monarch when it is not issued by the monarch acting as monarch (reference to a semblance in Plato’s Republic on the “when is a cobbler a cobbler?- when making shoes.” Here, the bishop is bishop, but not outside the Church and therefor is bond by its constitutive elements, including the Pope. For the pope to attempt a universal legislation outside the constitution of the Church is for him to no longer be pope, as he would place himself beyond the Church.)

    3. Lex Rationis. Where the law lacks reason, it lacks force. This is not always a principle in civil law, as it is in Canon Law.

    To eliminate 2000 years of Tradition with a pen stroke does not fit this truly Catholic understanding of the Pope. Even if such an act were somehow 1. not immoral, or 2. attempting to tamper with a constitutive element, it would seem almost entirely unreasonable. More specifically, the Pope is granted power as Shepard and Custodian. To attempt to apply law outside of those bounds is to make the law- strictly- without reasoning behind it, thus, it would have not the force of law.

    I think that this is something of which the Orthodox need to be aware, and Catholics need to present.

    The Pope has universal (i.e. anywhere in the Church) and immediate (not needing an instrument through which to work) legislative power, but this does not mean that he has limitless or absolute constitutive power. Even the Petrine Ministry has a Constitution which cannot be exceeded and still be valid in its application.

    May God bless you.
    Holy Mary protect you.
    -Christopher

  40. Michael says:

    Shall we Orthodox now treat Rome itself as mission territory?

    The Orthodox seem to treat the world as mission territory. I have a friend who told me he belongs to something called the American Orthodox Church despite such a thing being an impossibility.

    My question relates to authority among the Orthodox. Non-uniate churches seem to recognize the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople as a sort of first among equals of the Orthodox Patriarchs, defering to him as a visilble leader in at least some respects. The Turks are presently making noises against any claim to a greater status for the Patriarch than as a leader for the remaining Turkish Christian population which is almost gone. My question is could the forces of history do away with the position of Ecumenical Patriarch just as those forces elevated the position centeries earlier and if they do how would the remaining Patriarchs in the Orthodox churches react? Will they in their own minds make themselves equal of the Pope, despite the lack of historical precedent or will they look to the sole remaining historical Patriach, the Pope for leadership?

  41. Florida John, that “Western Rite” you attended is a liturgy only created in the twentieth century in America particularly for those from an Anglican background who desired to have a kind of continuity with their liturgical traditions. I’ve heard it’s very similar to the Tridentine Mass but haven’t investigated it, yet. I don’t see what connection you’re drawing between the Byzantine Liturgy and this one, though. There really isn’t one. It’s a pastorally-sensitive creation, and there are plenty of Orthodox who don’t think it’s Orthodox at all (but that’s not a thing to debate here), or at the very least unnecessary. That liturgy, essentially a Tridentine Mass that was Protestantized and then subsequently Orthodoxized, is an anomaly, and not part of the development of the Divine Liturgy.

    Michael, the role of the Ecumenical Patriarch is, in fact, as primus inter pares, first among equals among the Patriarchs. Yet what this entails is that outside of his own canonical territories, he has no juridical power at all. He rather simply presides as the head of the patriarchal collegium, a role with a bunch of honor, but not much else (including respect, in some cases!). Yet, there can no more be a case where there would not be a Patriarch of Constantinople any more than there would never be a Pope in Rome. The “forces” that elevated the Patriarch to first among equals in the Christian world were the schism. Constantinople was the ranking city, the city of the Emperor, and with Rome split from the communion, the other bishops simply adjusted, removing the Bishop of Rome from their diptychs for commemoration during the Liturgy, and so the “primus inter pares” changed. Constantinople remained at the top of the list, as the order was established through Chalcedon, long before. It was a de facto change, and involved nothing de jure, for Rome had no control or even recognized claim over the rest of the Oikumene outside its own territory, as was equally the case with the other Patriarchates. If a holder of the office were to apostasize, he would be replaced by the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate (equivalent to the College of Cardinals) with an orthodox Orthodox candidate. The issue of Rome leaving is different, however, as it was a personal set of anathemas, but numerous persons followed the examples of the two individuals involved. This is not likely to happen again.

    Even so, there is discussion among the Orthodox over the canonical status of Rome. Some say he is still the legitimate Patriarch of Rome while others say not — that’s why you don’t see an Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Rome these days. If it helps to add to the confusion, the Ecumenical Patriarch, when Pope Benedict visited the Phanar, was greeted, vested, and liturgically treated by the Ecumenical Patriarch during the Divine Liturgy as a canonical bishop (which is the rank every Patriarch is), something that various Orthodox were quite upset with. Yet, I think the point is that one may still recognize a fully canonical bishop, yet not be in full communion. This, I think, was the point of His Holiness Bartholomew in treating Pope Benedict thus. Obviously, Patriarch Alexi is not comfortable with that, for which he cannot be blamed, as the situation is not just confusing, but messy.

  42. Ad Orientem says:

    I have blogged on a number of occasions blogged about the concern many Orthodox have felt at the reckless abandonment by the Latin Church of its liturgical heritage. This Pope and his predecessor of blessed memory more than any Popes in centuries (or maybe ever) understand Orthodoxy. +Benedict speaks our language. And to be honest I think many of the theological differences are overrated. That said they should not be trivialized either. While some are more the result of poor communication and as others have noted “pride” and church politics, some are very serious. The filioque still gets way too much attention for my money. The real deal breaker is Vatican I. The dogmatic definitions of the absolute universal jurisdiction of the Pope and papal infallibility are nonstarters on this side of the fence. They will never be accepted as written. And while Rome has shown a remarkable capacity for “doctrinal development” when there was a need, I don’t see any way around the crystal clear language of those decrees from the First Vatican Council. I pray for restoration of communion. But it must be an authentic healing and not a contrived one foisted on the faithful or it will be doomed to the same fate as the false union of Florence. A good start is to back away from the ultramontism which can still be seen in various quarters (and even in some of the posts in this thread).

    ICXC NIKA
    John

  43. David says:

    I find it interesting the the Patriarch would state that they do not treat the west or Rome as a mission territory since they just finished building a big new Orthodox Cathedral in Rome down the street from the Vatican and are trying to prostelatize the Romans in the area. I seems to me that the Orthodox want a double standard. They can say that they are the real Catholic Church in Rome and promote themselves as a different church from us Catholics but when the people of Russia want to be in union with the Successor of Peter then the Othodox say that they really are the same church and demand that the Latins stay out. Come on, how about some intellectual honesty. If they claim to really be the same church as us in Russia and use that to say that they have authority over Russia and that we disrespect them by seeking missions there then the same aruement can be used to say that the Pope should have authority over the brand new Orthodox Cathedral in downtown Rome. You can’t be honest and have it both ways.

    I pray for reunion with the Orthodox every day but this is not something that will come about simply by Latins giving in. There are also things that the Orthodox have to do to come to us. This isn’t and can’t be a one sided issue. The very first step is not for the Vatican to disallow missions in Russia but for the Russian Church to admit that the Latins have legitimate sacraments. As long as they refuse to acknowlde marriages and baptizms performed by Catholic, then they show that they do not have a proper understanding of the sacraments themselves and put their own legitimacy in question.

  44. David says:

    I think, and this is just me, but the big issue in all of this revolves around the rank of the Pope. The Eastern Churches may have a point in thinking that they shouldn’t feel that their rite is inferior to the Latin Rite because they are not. Perhaps, and again this is jut me, that the Pope should elevate himself to above the Latin Rite and let the Latin Rite have a seperate person for Patriarch. This would allow the Pope to be for all the Rites and not seem to be just for the Latin Rite.

  45. Daniel Canaris says:

    The Catholic Church believes that she is in fact the Church of the Apostles and therefore the surest path to salvation. Even the Orthodox have weakened in key doctrines, namely contraception. While corporate reunion with the Catholic Church should be considered the ideal, so long as the Orthodox Church presents a moral vision which may potentially jeopardise the salvation of souls (I’m using strong language, I know) the Catholic Church has the moral responsibility to preach the true faith so as to ensure the salvation of the Russian people.

    Being a member of the Orthodox Church, from a Catholic perspective, is not ‘as good’ as being as a member of the Catholic church. We must never make that mistake.

  46. Ken says:

    Florida John quotes Our Lady in an apparition in Egypt; it does not seem to be that at Zeitun, Cairo, where Our Lady did not speak, but evoked a huge unitative response as Coptics, Catholics and Moslems all gathered to venerate her. The messages known as True Life in God, given to the Greek Orthodox Vassula Ryden also have a strong thrust to unity, a Petrine unity, the only unity possible.Here again it is unity of the heart that is important. Our Lord also pleads for the unification of the date for the celebration of the Paschal Mystery. This surely is possible and desirable and achievable with give and take in all sides. Our Lord makes it plain that if man takes this first step, He Himself will perform the necessary miracle of full unity.Ut unam sint!

  47. P. Jeremy says:

    RE: Catholic proselytizing and the Orthodox reaction, Father Taft made an interesting point in 2004:

    There are over 300,000 Catholics in European Russia, 65,000 of them in Moscow alone. To say that the (Roman) church doesn’t have a right to erect a diocese there is absurd, especially when the Orthodox plant metropolitans wherever they want. Let’s take the example of Austria. Vienna has been a Catholic see since the first millennium, yet the Russian Orthodox have a metropolitan, not just “in” Vienna but “of” Vienna. Yet there probably aren’t 5,000 Russian Orthodox in the whole of Austria. Fair is fair. … The problem is, nobody talks to them like that because nobody knows what I know. Catholics hear their complaints and say, “Oh, gee, aren’t we awful.” Give me a break. … There are Orthodox clergy who proselytize among Catholics, we know that for a fact. The Russian Orthodox opened up a parish in Palermo. Who’s the priest? He’s a converted Catholic. When it was opened up, in the journal of the Moscow patriarchate, it stated quite clearly that this is a step toward recovering the Byzantine heritage of Sicily. Furthermore, there’s a Greek monastery in Calabria that’s also proselytizing among Catholics. There are loose cannons all over the place.

  48. Benard of Arezzo says:

    I am going to say some mean sounding things: In Catholic-Orthodox dialouge, the Catholic are alway s going to be the ‘cool’ ones and Orthodoxy with a chip on their shoulder. Why? Because unlike the Catholic church, Orthodoxy’s self understanding involves being not-Catholic. Catholocism, on the other hand, doesn’t define itself in opposition to Orthodoxy. Moreover, in the Case of Russia, it is the self-proclaimed ‘Third Rome’ — the idea being (more or less) that Rome is the first ROme, it fell to unbelievers (i.e. Catholics in the schism), Constantinople the second Rome, which fell to the Turks and now Moscow is (or should be) the primus inter pares. In other words, Moscow sees itself as the last bastion of Apostolic Christianity.

    I try, as a Catholic, to imagine the mental lieap from that to acknowliging that the ‘First Rome’ never fell: I think it would be something like an American historian discovering that King George wasn’t that bad and in any case we get along much better now, so therefore the USA should join the commonwealth and put the Queen on the dollar bill.

  49. Benard of Arezzo says:

    I am going to say some mean sounding things: In Catholic-Orthodox dialouge, the Catholic are alway s going to be the ‘cool’ ones and Orthodoxy with a chip on their shoulder. Why? Because unlike the Catholic church, Orthodoxy’s self understanding involves being not-Catholic. Catholocism, on the other hand, doesn’t define itself in opposition to Orthodoxy. Moreover, in the Case of Russia, it is the self-proclaimed ‘Third Rome’ — the idea being (more or less) that Rome is the first ROme, it fell to unbelievers (i.e. Catholics in the schism), Constantinople the second Rome, which fell to the Turks and now Moscow is (or should be) the primus inter pares. In other words, Moscow sees itself as the last bastion of Apostolic Christianity.

    I try, as a Catholic, to imagine the mental lieap from that to acknowliging that the ‘First Rome’ never fell: I think it would be something like an American historian discovering that King George wasn’t that bad and in any case we get along much better now, so therefore the USA should join the commonwealth and put the Queen on the dollar bill.

  50. Benard of Arezzo says:

    I am going to say some mean sounding things: In Catholic-Orthodox dialouge, the Catholic are alway s going to be the ‘cool’ ones and Orthodoxy with a chip on their shoulder. Why? Because unlike the Catholic church, Orthodoxy’s self understanding involves being not-Catholic. Catholocism, on the other hand, doesn’t define itself in opposition to Orthodoxy. Moreover, in the Case of Russia, it is the self-proclaimed ‘Third Rome’ — the idea being (more or less) that Rome is the first ROme, it fell to unbelievers (i.e. Catholics in the schism), Constantinople the second Rome, which fell to the Turks and now Moscow is (or should be) the primus inter pares. In other words, Moscow sees itself as the last bastion of Apostolic Christianity.

    I try, as a Catholic, to imagine the mental lieap from that to acknowliging that the ‘First Rome’ never fell: I think it would be something like an American historian discovering that King George wasn’t that bad and in any case we get along much better now, so therefore the USA should join the commonwealth and put the Queen on the dollar bill.

  51. Henry raises a good point.

    It was easy to evangelize in the Traditional Rite….all you had to do
    was invite someone to Mass. (This is how my own Dad converted from
    an Anglican background in 1952). Simple and effective.

    However, if you want to evangelize today, you have to give them about
    500 books to read, spend endless hours talking and debating….and then
    if you are silly…you will destroy any progress the person’s made
    by actually taking them to your typical parish Mass. I’ve seen this first
    hand with two of my friends.

    It pretty much sums the utter bankruptcy of the “renewal”,
    when the LAST place a sane person would take a non-Catholic
    to is Mass!

    As for the Orthodox, there have been lots of Orthodox kids in Catholic schools
    in our local school system here…I remember the comment of one of them to my nephew who was
    in Grade 9 at the time. This happned after the first school liturgy with
    a visiting priest from the diocese. He said, “sorry, but your liturgy
    IS A JOKE”. Perhaps the most succinct summation of the Eastern Orthodox
    view of the New Mass.

  52. John H says:

    There is a book called “Dancing Alone,” that while not well written, it illustrates Alexi’s point. The book is about an evangelical Christian who converts to Orthodoxy, bedcause he sees the clear presence of Tradition in the particular Churches. Amazingly enough, this former Protestant claims he did not become Catholic specifically and primarily because he saw that the Catholic Church has been PROTESTANTIZED. Clearly the new-Mass has had a very negative affect upon Christians of good will seeking the True Church established by Christ. Tradition is not something to be fooled with so hapharzardly as the post-conciliar revolutionaries did. Not only did it weaken the faith of Catholics that so many priests, religious, and lay-persons left the Church in droves. It also prevented, through a facade of Protestantization, men of good will from uniting themselves with the One True Faith.

  53. danphunter1 says:

    Matt: You have stated exactly the difficulty my wife and I find ourselves in.
    We live in a very protestant southern state in the U.S.,and are, with the grace of the Holy Ghost attempting to convert a number of lukewarm protestants to the Church.
    Here we are giving them books about St. Pio and the Roman Catechism, watching hours of Father Corapi tapes with them and doing our best to teach them the faith, all the while we cannot take them to the nearest Catholic church, which is 20 miles from us, because the abuses that go on would confuse these poor people.
    They have already expressed no desire to take part in a protestant looking service, since this lack of sacred form is one of the reasons they have left their Methodist meeting halls.
    My wife and I travel over 90 miles, one way, to the only indult mass in the state and have taken our friends there on one occasion, they immediately fell in love with the Classical Rite and would love to continue assisting but they have many children and it is difficult for them.
    The Classical Rite is the perfect tool of ecumenism. Many converted whilst it was in full use.
    Hardly any do now.
    The Classical rite must return to every Catholic church.
    God bless you.

  54. There are too many misunderstandings of Orthodoxy on display here, which is not too surprising, I suppose. The First/Second/Third Rome nomenclature was developed not with an emphasis on religious, but on Christian secular power having been overthrown in each place. The Tsars were a financial and diplomatic support of Orthodox Christians throughout the world, particularly in the Muslim world when things were very difficult in the nineteenth century.

    Secondly, Orthodoxy certainly does not define itself through relationship to Cahtolicism! That’s patently absurd. Much more common is sneering reference to “the West” in general, not any particularized subset of it. There is no “chip on the shoulder.” You might have noticed after the CDF’s recent “Answers to some Questions…” that the Orthodox basically shrugged off the document’s description of the Orthodox Church as a defective Church. We share the same opinion of the Roman Catholic Church, so it was a non-issue. Did you see Orthodox doing the kind of nervous nelly hand-wringing displayed by various Roman Catholics and Protestants? No. We honestly don’t really care what anyone else thinks of us, but are of course still saddened for the continued separation of any people from The Church, and particularly various steps taken to maintain that distance. We are the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church (πιστευω…εις μιαν αγιαν καθολικην και αποστολικην εκκλησιαν in the original unadulterated Creed), and you (Roman Catholics and Protestants) are not, from our side.

    Suffice it to say, there will be no unity if Orthodox are required to become Roman Catholics, nor if Roman Catholics are required to become Orthodox, with the same liturgies, etc. That isn’t even considered among those who think of the future. Frankly, I don’t see any unity as even possible. The Magisterium has painted itself into a corner of indefectibility, which makes the necessary recognition of past mistakes impossible. Until that changes, there is absolutely NO possibility of unity. Patriarch Alexi recognizes this, as do other informed Orthodox observers. Some shrug and turn away, others pray and hope that this will change.

    And that is precisely why I say it will take the Hand of God, through a great miracle, to bring about any unity. Taking the example of St Peter’s repentance after the chastisement of St Paul, as related in the latter’s letter to the Galatians, that is a possible direction. As St Peter erred, so have his successors. And as he repented, so can they. And it seems entirely, blatantly obvious these last decades that there has been quite a bit of erring, whether it is recognized or admitted or not.

    That’s enough for me on this subject.

  55. P. Jeremy says:

    Often those Orthodox least inclined to ecumenical dialogue with Rome and most inclined to take offense at perceived slights – reaching back to the Crusades! – are not those born into Orthodox families but those who, until a few years ago, were using the Book of Common Prayer and/or the King James Bible.

  56. Garrett says:

    Mr. O’Rourke,

    Last time I checked, papal universal jurisdiction was a dogma of the Church, to be believed and held by all.

    Not that I don’t think universal jurisdiction was practiced in the first millenium, but since it’s a dogma anyway, debating about it is a moot point.

  57. Benard of Arezzo says:

    I’ll admit that I don’t know as much about Orthodoxy as Mr. Edgecome. And I basically agree with him regarding the possibility of full communion in recent times, i.e. not likely. But for different reasons, I think.
    I want to make a couple comments on his remarks regarding my remarks
    (a) I’m not sure that the 1/2/3 Rome thing is ‘just’ a political thing and not religious? That distinction never quite emereged in the East in quite the same way it did in the West (for various reasons).
    (b) I grant that my choice of the word ‘define’ was a poor one: certainly Orthodoxy doesn’t define itself in opposition to Catholocism. I should have said that, ecclesiological definitions aside, Orthodoxy’s public face is in is largely in-terms of ‘We are not like them” {However, I may be wrong, but I believe the nomenclature “Orthodox” was chosen to distinguish themselves from the ‘Heterodox’west} Perhaps you have had different experiences, but the the last time I visited an Orthodox church, the pamphelts looked liked they were written by Jack Chick’s long lost Greek cousin! ;) On the other hand, I’ve never seen anti-Orthodoxy pamphelts in any Catholic church I’ve been in.

    Of course, one can quickly say that that isn’t representative of Orthodoxy. {But what is anyway? Who speaks for Orthodoxy, Constantinople or Moscow? Is there an Orthodox Church of Monte Negro — depends on who you ask? What about Macedonia? Bellarus? Are they under their own Chruch, or the Russian Church? Which Ukranian Orthodox Church is actually the Ukranian Orthodox Church? Why are the monks on Mt. Athos duking it out with each other? What about Old Calendars and Old Believers? I’m sure there are answer to all thisbut if there is misunderstanding of Orthodoxy, it isn’t hard to see why….

    But, so it goes.

  58. John H says:

    Mr. Edgecomb,

    Your position is notable, insofar as you recognize that “there will be no unity if Orthodox are required to become Roman Catholics, nor if Roman Catholics are required to become Orthodox”. Let us do as you say, and pray and hope this situation will change. There are indeed some hardened hearts we must overcome. Let us pray that God’s miraculous grace will change hearts, and open the eyes of those who have been deceived by the Prince of Darkness.

  59. Michael says:

    Yet, there can no more be a case where there would not be a Patriarch of Constantinople any more than there would never be a Pope in Rome.

    There is no longer a Patriach in Antioch. There is no longer a Patriarch in Alexandria. There is no longer a Patriarch in Jerusalem. The day may come when there is no longer a Patriarch in Constantinople…and the day may also come when the Pope flees Rome.

  60. Publius says:

    I have often thought that the Supreme Pontiff should from time to time celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s in Greek according to the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (and perhaps other Easter rites) to show both the universality of his jurisdiction over the sacramental rites and the love and respect of the Holy See and the West for the venerable ancient liturgies of the East. It would also be very edifying for Latin Rite Catholics. We have much to learn.

  61. John says:

    Father Z, a Correction, The Dormition (Assumption) of Our Lady, is celebrated August 28th, not August 15th, by the Orthodox Church. However, some Eastern Catholic Churches do observe this Solemnity on August 15th.

  62. Responses to a couple of different things:

    The Patriarch writes:

    “The phenomenon of uniatism is troublesome because we see this tendency also in regions where it never was before, for example in the Eastern Ukraine, Belorussia, Kazakhstan and in Russia herself.”

    Which of course is nonsense… There were Russian Orthodox in union with Rome (Russian Greek Catholics) in Russia before the Revolution — since 1908 in fact.

    http://www.russianlife.net/article.cfm?Number=841

    Someone else writes.

    “There is no longer a Patriarch in Jerusalem.”

    Sure there are, both Latin and Orthodox… perhaps I’m not getting your meaning.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patriarch_Theophilos_III_of_Jerusalem
    http://www.lpj.org/newsite2006/index.html

    And finally:

    “Although many “Eastern” elements were supposedly incorporated into the new Mass, they are apparently not elements which are commonly in use in our Liturgy (to put the most charitable spin on it).”

    The “Prayers of the faithful” of the Novus Ordo are the part that most reminds me of the byzantine liturgy (this is probably more obvious at a parish like mine where these are sung, both invocations and responses, than at your average parish.)

  63. Greg Smisek says:

    Father Z, a Correction, The Dormition (Assumption) of Our Lady, is celebrated August 28th, not August 15th, by the Orthodox Church.

    Nyet! My Russian Orthodox calendar clearly confirms that three days ago was August 15 (O.S.).

  64. Alex says:

    1. The Czarist rule under the Russian Orthodox Church also starved “Uniate” Byzantine Catholic regions. They had – way before 1917-18 – their own concentration camps for Byzantine clergy in full communion with Rome, equally for Armenian Rite Catholic priests etc. etc. It is not like the later Soviet persecution of Eastern Catholics was preceded by eras of peace and Orthodox-Catholic harmony.

    2. The Catholic side, especially the Polish Latins, made huge mistakes too however. Equally so in the Middle East, with all the false Latinizations. But that has been solved. But now at once Eastern Catholics start imitating the regular “practice” of the Novus Ordo. That is more worrying to me even than previous false Latinizations.

    3. Patriarch Alexy II did not acknowledge the role his Moscow Patriarchate played in the persecution and GULAGization of Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic clergy as reported above. He must apologize, like we should apologize for Polish Latin mistreatment of Orthodox and even Uniate Catholic clergy of the Byzantine Rite. It should be mutual. The Apostolic See of Rome cannot crouch upon the floor before Alexy II who sadly indeed was a KGB informer before 1991. Reconciliation must be preceded by acts of forgiveness and penance by both sides. And the orthodoxy of the holy Catholic Faith cannot be compromised. Denial of the Roman Primacy, the doctrine on the Filióque and epiclesis and other Eastern dissident errors and heresies cannot be tolerated if a Union is to be established. The Catholic Faith cannot be betrayed. Doctrine is nót about “power” as Mr Matt alleged above. It is about doctrinal orthodoxy, the Roman Primacy is part of that. The Papal States and Polish claims on Biellorussia are not, but the theological position of the Holy Father ís.

    4. I do know that a Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) priest from the USA who visited the “SSPX-allied” Transalpine Redemptorists and talked to their Russian Rite Priest-Monk who lived in the Scottish Isle of Papa Stronsay as a hermit, he said afterwards to his Latin friend who had brought him there: “If the Roman Catholic Church and those Easterners in communion with it, were still everywhere like over here, I would consider entering their Catholic communion as a Russian too.” The witness of real (doctrinal & liturgical) Roman Catholic Tradition, combined with a spirit of love (without the old political and nationalist conflicts), and clarity about the de fide divina doctrinal points of difference with the Eastern dissidents, would solve the rift formalized only in 1459 in Constantinople (and never fully in dissident Orthodox Russia, where no Pope was ever excommunicated). However, the Catholic Church is not “divided” by the schism of that time. It is the schismatic Easterners who are out. The true Church of Christ, which is the Catholic Church under the Pope, cannot be divided in doctrine, government. (Cfr. Orientalium ecclesiarum, 1964, Vatican II, par. 2-3) She is One. But we are still close to the dissident Easterners. What a tremendous grace would the conversion of Christian Russia to Catholic unity be!

  65. Alex says:

    Publius,

    Benedict XVI would be very good if he were to celebrate a Full Divine Liturgy at Saint Peter’s himself. But I do not know whether he is acquainted with the ceremonies as well as he should be. And first I would like to see him celebrate the ancient Roman Rite full Papal Mass. After all, Saint Peter’s is in Rome, not in Byzantium-Istanbul.

    Pope St. Pius X in 1909 celebrated a full Pontifical Divine Liturgy according to the Rite of the Church of Constantinople (in Koinè Greek and with all splendour) at the Papal Altar under the canope, at St. Peter’s. Numerous Melkite, Romanian Catholic, Ukrainian Catholic and Albanian Greek Catholic prelates, priests, exarchs and patriarchs concelebrated or were present. It was a real witness of this holy Roman Pontiff to the desire of the West to achieve full communion with the entire Christian dissident East, especially with the schismatic Greeks and Slavs. As Patriarch of Venice, His Holiness had come to know the Byzantine Rite among some Croat-Serbian Dalmatians living in Venice and asking him for Catholic Byzantine liturgies there. He gladly agreed. St. Pius X also knew much about the Roman Rite Glagolithic Slavonic missal and indult.

    In 1959, fifty years later, Pope John XXIII consecrated a Melkite Byzantine Catholic bishop from Syria to the episcopacy in a solemn Pontifical Divine Liturgy according to the Arabic-spoken Byzantine Rite of Antioch-Jerusalem. However he did not, as his eloquent and eminent predecessor St. Pius X hád done, celebrate the rest of the solemn Divine Liturgy in Greek or Arab. But he did consecrate. And he allowed the celebrant to use the Papal Altar. An iconostasis was erected for the occasion at Saint Peter’s.

    At all Papal Solemn Masses in the ancient Roman Rite, the Epistle and Gospel would be proclaimed not only in Latin, but also in Greek, to stress the universal unity of the Eastern and Western Church. Greek Rite subdeacons, deacons and presbyters assisted at the full Papal Mass in Saint Peter’s. It was all lost in the Novus Ordo reforms of papal liturgies.

    Of all, in the age of so-called “renewed ecumenism in the spirit of Vatican II”, the signs of true Christian desire for real, Catholic unity, were lost thus. Sad but true.

    Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est!

  66. Alex says:

    It is time to put the past behind us and for those who think that Russia is mission territory I can only say that Pope Benedict STRONGLY disagrees with you as did his predecessor. According to Mr O’Rourke….

    I however state that I do not care about current political ecclesiastical correctness, but about the calls of the Russian martyrs for Holy Catholic unity. Exarch Leonid Feodorov and many others. The Basilian Martyr Sisters of Minsk.

    Are you suggesting we betray them by saying they did not have to convert and enter full communion with Rome? That their blood was shed in vain? Or merely for a liberalistic notion of “religious liberty”?

    Do you dare to state that?

    Of course I agree that we should rather work towards the bringing the dissident Russian and Constantinple Patriarchates and others back into the bossom of the Catholic Church, and that we should not agitate against them. But that does not mean that individual-based missionary activities are bad. Not at all. This mission of the schismatics is necessary for the salvation of souls. Salus animarum suprema lex. Not the wishes of Alexej II.

    Again, the individual Russian converts to Catholic unity endured martyrdom rather than compromise with those outside the Catholic communion. They were not polemic or violent, but they did witness and tried to convert other schismatics into communion.

    Or are those holy martyrs sacrificed on the “altar of ecumenism” by you?

  67. “Are you suggesting we betray them by saying they did not have to convert and enter full communion with Rome? That their blood was shed in vain? Or merely for a liberalistic notion of “religious liberty”?”

    Well…. Yes… I’m a supporter of the Russian Orthodox in communion with Rome, but my understanding is that the movement originated in part in exactly that premise… that the Russian Orthodox Church had not formally acknowledged the Great Schism and excommunicated the Pope of Rome.

    As the I understand the story, Vladimir Soloviev recieved communion from Fr. Tolstoy — a priest who was acknowledged as being in communion with Rome, first as a Melkite and thaen according to the Greek-Slavonic rite.

    Perhaps a canonist can clarify, but this seems to be somewhat similar to the position reflected in the current code of canon law as well — that the Orthodox can recieve communion in our Churches as long as they meet the other conditions.

  68. Ooops… the last (bold) part of that got left out…

    As the I understand the story, Vladimir Soloviev recieved communion from Fr. Tolstoy—a priest who was acknowledged as being in communion with Rome, first as a Melkite and thaen according to the Greek-Slavonic rite–while at the same time denying that he had broken with the Russian Orthodox Church.

  69. My apologies to Father and his readers…

    Just to be clear it’s Soloviev and not Tolstoy I’m saying didn’t think he’d broken communion with the Russian Orthodox Church.

    Now I’m going to go bang my head against the wall.

  70. Matthew W. I. Dunn says:

    Sorry, I have to demur on Fr. Z’s comment that a Solemn High Mass in the traditional Latin rite is as “grand” as anything the Easterners do. Not a chance, Fr. Z. I grew up with the Mass of Paul VI (good and bad), experienced the glories of the Tridentine, and wound up in the East. I canonically transferred to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church with the permission of Cardinal Ambrozic of Toronto and Bishop Stephen of the Eparchy of Toronto and Eastern Canada.

    I love the Old Latin Mass. But, I could only take so many interminable Alleluia chants and periods of hushed silence before it started becoming uncomfortable. The “New Mass” I’d grown up with — and, returned to — was a breath of fresh air in many ways to my experience of the Old. But, neither the New nor the Old can hold a candle to the East: The worship almost erupts into your soul and forces you into heaven. (As Jesus said in Luke’s Gospel, the kingdom of heaven is taken with violence!) I have found nothing like this in the structured sobriety of the Tridentine . . . certainly not in the pastoral reform of the New.

    Yes, the Byzantines have their craziness and laziness, like anything touched by human hands. And, some services (e.g., Vespers) seem to be completely disorganized and longish. I think the fact that one has to say the Tridentine Mass is as grand as the Eastern liturgies belies the criticism: The traditional Mass is *not* as liturgically beautiful as the liturgies of the Eastern churches.

  71. Matthew: have to demur on Fr. Z’s comment that a Solemn High Mass in the traditional Latin rite is as “grand” as anything the Easterners do.

    You are wrong.

     

  72. After conversation with a friend tonight, I am rethinking this thread. More tomorrow. Fr. Z