Bartholomew I to Eastern Catholics: return to Orthodoxy without breaking with Rome

This is in from the RISU

Patriarch of Constantinople Proposes Eastern Catholicism’s Return to Orthodoxy

19.06.2008, [12:10] // Inter-Christian relations //

Patriarch of Constantinople Proposes Eastern Catholicism’s Return to OrthodoxyMunich—In a recent interview with the German ecumenical journal Cyril and Methodius, the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church in Constantinople Bartholomew I invited Eastern Catholic Churches to return to Orthodoxy without breaking unity with Rome. He noted that “the Constantinople Mother-Church keeps the door open for all its sons and daughters.” According to the Orthodox hierarch, the form of coexistence of the Byzantine Church and the Roman Church in the 1st century of Christianity should be used as a model of unity. This story was posted by KATH.net on 16 June 2008.

At the same time, the patriarch made positive remarks about the idea of “dual unity” proposed by the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Archbishop Lubomyr (Husar). Patriarch Bartholomew I noted in particular that this model would help to overcome the schism between the Churches.

Brick by brick, folks.

As I said at the very beginning, when the Orthdox see that the Latin Church is starting to take their own liturgy seriously, they will begin to rethink their positions and how they relate to Rome.

Benedict XVI understands that identity and liturgy go hand in glove.  This is what Summorum Pontificum addresses.

Also, it is evident now that the Orthodox, for whom identity and liturgy are so very closely aligned, are fully aware that they will be soon pressed hard indeed by Islam.  Therefore, a stronger friendship with Rome, in the culture/identity/survival struggle to come will be of great benefit.

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47 Responses to Bartholomew I to Eastern Catholics: return to Orthodoxy without breaking with Rome

  1. Miseno says:

    This is great news but does Patriarch Bartholomew really matter? How much do other Orthodox Churches such as Greece, Serbia, Ukraine and Russia listen to him? If Eastern Churches and the Church of Constantinople reconciled, would the other national Orthodox Churches follow suit? Maybe someone here understands this.

  2. Miseno: I think he matters very much. Benedict XVI thinks so too.

  3. WDPRSer says:

    Sorry. I was trying to put the link in differently but that didn’t work. A seminarian gives an interesting commentary about this story at this site. http://veritasvosliberat.com/2008/06/20/dual-unity-for-eastern-catholics/

  4. Folks, I hate to be less than sanguine, but some of this rhetoric has to do with posturing with the Ukrainians vs. the Russians. The reality is that inter-communion can only happen when there is unanimity of Faith. But then let us pray that the Holy Spirit is now opening a new epoch for both churches. Frankly I would trust Pope Benedict with the dialogue than I would the Patriarch. Unfortunately some of our church politics is at play in this scenario.

  5. vox borealis says:

    I read through the comments on Rorate concerning this story, and they seem to take a much more negative view (big surprise!). But they did raise some valid points, I think: this rhetoric may be as much about wooing the eastern catholic churches back into the orthodox fold than about any type of unity or communion. I mean, for such dual communion to work, the eastern churches would have to agree (as I read it) that liturgy and to a lesser extent ecclesial issues (organization, married priest, etc.) are more important than doctrine. I’m just not sure how this would work or if it’s a good thing.

  6. John R. says:

    The Melkite Catholic Holy Synod proposed a similar suggestion in the mid-1990s whereby they would reunite with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch while remaining in union with Rome. It was rejected by Rome and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate because of a lack of unity of faith.

    I should point out there have been times since 1054 when various Orthodox sees have recognized the Roman papacy without formally breaking ties with those who were in schism with Rome. Patriarch Peter III of Antioch remained in union with Rome for about 15 years after 1054 and tried to mediate between Rome and Constantinople. Following Florence, the Church of Kyiv likewise retained a dual communion even after Constantinople rejected it.

    Dual communion isn’t anything new, but it is complicated by the definitions of the First Vatican Council, which pretty much have closed that door.

    Patriarch Bartholomew speaks for himself, not for Orthodoxy. Such a dual communion would have to be approved by all of the churches of the Orthodox communion, and that isn’t very likely. If the Russian Orthodox Church were to agree to such a proposal then it could be closer to reality because Russia is the most powerful and influential local Orthodox church.

  7. I cannot imagine the Russian Orthodox will like this at all.

    But how can you be Orthodox (with a big “O”) and remain in union with Rome? Isn’t there the whole “pope thing” and other Catholic dogmas at stake (the Immaculate Conception to name one)?

  8. Perhaps the idea of “reuniting with the Orthodox” requires us to keep in mind that in Orthodox ecclesiology, it is the local church that has a primary role. Most Eastern Catholic Churches, such as the Ukranians, Melkites and Greeks have an Orthodox “twin”. The idea would be for there to be only one Melkite Church, which would maintain communion with both Rome and Constantinople.

    The difficulties with this have been noted above, but the ecumenical Patriarch’s concern seems to be with the division between Christians in the local eastern churches.

  9. Phil says:

    I’m sorry to sound sceptical, but like vox borealis pointed out, this sounds more like an attempt to wiggle these churches out of Rome’s and into Constantinopel’s sphere of influence. While greater unity would be a very positive thing, shoring up Orthodoxy by ‘leasing’ them (as it were) some Catholic Churches is not the way forward.

    If they move closer to us, great. If we can move closer to them, great. But the more fundamental issues and a lot of historical grief needs to be adressed if we are to get anywhere – even if ‘adressing them’ means agreeing to let these issues rest for now. And on that note I’m rather sceptical – even more so just because Batholomew is very hard pressed. Patriarchs have reconciled with Rome before in the hope to obtain an advantage versus the Turks, and the rank and file became irate at that every time – no reason to assume it’s different this time, not to mention the fact that within Orthodoxy, there are probably more than a few people who don’t overly mind Constantinopel being in dire straits. The organisation of orthodoxy in national churches is far from helpful.

    If anything could help, it would be putting enough pressure on the Turks to reopen the seminaries, but I doubt anyone outside Turkey has enough clout to make that happen.

  10. Posted previously on “Rorate”:

    “The [Ratzinger] Formula itself was originally articulated in a lecture given by the then Fr. Joseph Ratzinger at an ecumenical gathering in Graz, Austria, in 1976. In sum, he proposed that the Catholic Church must not require any more from the Orthodox Churches concerning the Roman primacy than what had existed in the first millennium. On the other hand, the Orthodox must not condemn as heretical the developments that took place within the Catholic Church during the second millennium.”
    Joseph Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987), 199 found in “Eastern Churches Journal” Vol. 12 No. 2 The Ratzinger Formula and the Great “Perhaps” Richard A. Mattiussi, 65

    Further on page 69: “[Cardinal] Kasper made a brief comment on the Ratzinger Formula when he stated: ‘It has become clear that the issue regarding the Oriental Churches in union with Rome cannot be discussed without taking up the main cause of separation and of union, namely the question of communion with Rome. That question cannot be considered in isolation; it concerns the relationship between primacy and synodical structure (we would say collegiality). Joseph Ratzinger – at the time in his academic rôle – laid the basis for that discussion in his well-know address in 1976 in Graz by stating … “On the doctrine of the primacy, Rome must not require more from the East than what was formulated and lived out during the first millennium.” Known as the “Ratzinger Formula,” this idea has become fundamental for the discussion; it has also been touched upon in the Encyclical Ut Unum Sint.”

  11. Ben says:

    My first comment on your blog, which I think is excellent; second only to Fr Finigan’s! (I attend mass at St Bede’s London so have met Fr on a number of occasions, most recently at Westminster!)

    Re the return to Orthodoxy: surely the ‘Uniate Churches’ is the Eastern Church? The Orthodox are independent, Moscow does not really regard Constantinople as supreme and rightly so. Would Russia and others accept this? I agree that the Orthodox and the Roman Church are close in many ways, not least on any issue involving Islam. However, the Orthodox are heretics, granted not of the Reformation Communities kind. Which conflicting dogma would be followed? The best hope for unity, culture and most importantly for souls is for the Orthodox to submit to Peter.

  12. johnny says:

    I am sure this is not a dodge or a clever manipulation, but a sincere commentary on a possible solution. Probably the Patriarch was only making positive comments on the notion without ignoring the difficulties. That there even is such an idea floating around should be seen as a good thing. That long suffering nation has had enough of political posturing and turf battles it seems to me.

  13. Ben,

    I doubt very much that Pope Benedict considers the Orthodox as heretics, since we have not changed the doctrine of the Church since the Schism of 1054. Or are you more Catholic than the Pope? Such talk on either side does more harm than it does good. I have heard Orthodox proclaim Rome as heretical; however no Council has done so. Again let us not overstate ourselves.

  14. Nick says:

    Spoke with my local Byzantine Catholic parish they already (and have for a number of years) define themselves as “Orthodox in communion with Rome”.

  15. Ottaviani says:

    How on earth can one have “dual” unity in relations and not unity in doctrine?

  16. Dear Fr Hieromonk Gregory,

    I am most sorry that some Roman Catholics are of the mistaken position that the Orthodox Churches are considered by the Roman Catholic Church to be heretical. There is an obvious need for basic catechesis among some commentators in regards to the teachings of the Church of Rome. What is needed is clearly knowing what one’s own Church teaches[i.e. the official teachings], knowing what other Churches teach, listening to one another with great care, being able to understand what the other is saying and getting what the other is saying correct. And all of this is to be done with charity and prayer, free of polemics and ad persona remarks.

    There does not appear to be any evidence that Pope Benedict XVI holds to the position that the Orthodox Churches are heretical. One only needs to read my comment posted above to see the position of Pope Benedict in 1976, and how Cardinal Kasper is furthering it among the Orthodox Churches at present.
    In Christ,
    David, Protodeacon

  17. Jason says:

    The Holy Father recently addressed the Melkite Catholic Patriarch, and had this to say:

    I know of the ecumenical activity of the Melkite Catholic Church and of the brotherly relations you have established with your Orthodox Brethren and I am delighted. Indeed, the commitment to the search for the unity of all Christ’s disciples is an urgent obligation which stems from the ardent desire of the Lord himself. We must therefore do our utmost to break down the walls of division and distrust that prevent us from achieving it. Nevertheless, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the quest for unity is a task that concerns not only a particular Church, but the entire Church, with respect for her nature. Moreover, as the Encyclical Ut Unum Sint stresses, unity is not the fruit of human activity, it is first and foremost a gift of the Holy Spirit. Let us therefore pray the Spirit, whose descent upon the Apostles we shall be celebrating in a few days, to help us all to work together in the quest for unity.

  18. Ben says:

    Hieromonk Gregory,

    No, I do not think I’m more Catholic than the Pope, and even he will acknowledge that while the Pope is at the top of the hierarchy the teaching of the Church is supreme.

    My point is that as a corporate body the Orthodox repudiate some dogmas: this is objective and I think the Orthodox would not disagree. The Orthodox are thus objectively heretics. Of course, there may be many who believe all that we do; in parts of Russia for exmaple the Old Belivers have rightly been sceptical about Moscow. Indeed, I am not competent to judge the Orthodox subjectively.

    The Church, not Benedict XVI Gloriously Reigning, requires the Faithful to accept the whole teaching of the Church: on that basis the Orthodox are objectively heretical. This is not a terminal problem as unlike the Anglicans or Lutherans the Orthodox believe in the truth of much of our dogma and have retained true sacramental worship. However, I, you nor the Pope can pretend that the corollary to non-acceptance of a teaching of the Church is heresy. Look to the recent excommunications of Archbishop Burke in St Louis and the approval of Rome that followed.

  19. RJackson says:

    I’m generally excited by the tone. My question is this: how can the Orthodox only be required to maintain what they maintained about the See of Rome in the first century after Vatican I? How can they come to full communion and not recognize defined dogma of the Church?

  20. Ad Orientem says:

    First I am waiting for some form of clarification from a reliable source connected with the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s office. There is much here that is confusing and many questions have been raised. That said I tend to agree with the many posters who have expressed skepticism over this idea as it is presently being understood.

    The term “unity” is one that we Orthodox are not interested in. What we are discussing is communion, which is among other things, an expression of a shared faith. That shared faith does not presently exist between Rome and Orthodoxy. This raises the question of where do the uniate churches stand on a number of issues. If they are adopting the position proposed by the recently reposed Melkite Archbishop Elias Zoghby of blessed memory, who said…

    # I believe everything which Eastern Orthodoxy teaches.
    # I am in communion with the Bishop of Rome as the first among the bishops, according to the limits recognized by the Holy Fathers of the East during the first millennium, before the separation.

    And further expressed the position which most Melkite Catholics (including bishops) hold, that the councils of the western church post 1054 were local councils not ecumenical, with the “dogmas” emanating there from being at most theologumena or the pious opinions of the Latin Church and not binding on the Church Universal, then we might be at a point where we could discuss restoration of communion, although I would still have some reservations.

    It is also worth noting that for historical and cultural reasons intercommunion between the Orthodox and the Melkite Catholics has been informally tolerated as a matter of economia for a long time. The ties of the Melkites to Rome although historic are not very strong theologically and as noted most of them do not accept the councils of the post schism Latin Church as anything more than local councils (see questions 8 &9 from the Melkite web site here …
    http://tinyurl.com/6xehqd )

    However, this does not at present appear to be the case outside of the Melkite’s. The other uniate churches as far as I am able to discern are Catholics (big ‘C’) who choose to celebrate Mass using a somewhat modified form of the Divine Liturgy and while wearing Byzantine vestments. In all other respects they are Roman Catholics. As such, I personally am very uncomfortable with the proposal as it is presently being interpreted by the press.

    To those who are concerned about the autocephalous nature of the various Orthodox Churches, I would make a couple of quick points. This has served us well in preserving Orthodoxy from the unfortunate problems which have plagued Western Christianity since the schism (though I concede it makes things move very slowly and often by fits and starts). And also it is likely the key to restoring communion between East & West if and when the time is right. There will probably never be a point where all of the churches will agree on such a radical move. And it will take one or two of the patriarchates (probably the EP and the Antiochians) to step forward and act on their own. This will precipitate a minor (or maybe major) crisis in Orthodoxy and will force some sort of council to address the issue which Moscow currently is resisting.

    There has been also some discussion of the term “heresy” in reference to the Orthodox. The fact is that we do not believe the same things and it is not lacking in charity to note this. An honest statement of where things are is the best starting point for a serious and mutually beneficial dialogue. Thus I personally am not bothered by Catholics who think we are heretics. We certainly think you are.

    ICXC NIKA
    John

  21. Ad Orientem says:

    RJackson,
    You asked… “How can they come to full communion and not recognize defined dogma of the Church?”

    I would think the answer from a Roman POV would be that we can’t. And since for we Orthodox Vatican I is a nonstarter; I think the bubbling optimism I have seen in certain quarters is a bit premature.

    ICXC NIKA
    John

  22. FloridaJohn says:

    Full communion will come only as a gift of the Spirit of the
    Lord, not as a fruit of the work of man. And it is necessary to ask for this gift through a continual, incessant, and trusting prayer! Our Lady said in an approved apparition in Syria, to the seer Mirna: “I have said: The Church is the kingdom 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.
    http://www.soufanieh.com/menuenglish.htm

  23. Carson Lauffer says:

    I’m most encouraged by this news but as one might expect there are those both in the RC and in the EO who think this is a bad idea. Eastern Catholics generally welcome this new initiative, or at least the ones I know, and pray for it to succeed or for it to at least be a catalyst for future communion.

    Carson Lauffer

  24. peregrinus says:

    According to John: “most Melkite Catholics (including bishops) hold, that the councils of the western church post 1054 were local councils not ecumenical, with the “dogmas” emanating there from being at most theologumena or the pious opinions of the Latin Church and not binding on the Church Universal”

    But I found this reply from Bishop John Elya ,Emeritus Eparch of Newton (Melkite Catholic) on the Melkite Church website:

    Recent theological speculation has developed the concept of “communion of churches” with promising results for ecumenism and rapprochement with the Orthodox. It would be a simple rekindling of the old controversy of conciliarism to suggest that some councils are less ecumenical than others. With the promulgation of the Holy Father, the doctrinal content of the various councils is a part of the sacred magisterial teaching of the Church to which Melkites in full communion with the See of Rome give wholehearted assent.

    Whatever some of the faithful might think, it doesn’t seem that the official teachings of teh Melkite Church would support your opinion.

  25. Ad Orientem says:

    Peregrinus,
    To the extent that the Mekites adhere to the theology of the West you are reinforcing the reservations I expressed in my post about restoration of communion. Clearly the hierarchy of the Melkites is not of one mind on many issues. But the point is moot since pretty much all of the other uniate churches are. Herein lies the main problem. Is the Ecumenical Patriarch looking to restore communion with some Orthodox who wandered off the reservation? Or is he looking to establish communion with people who are in almost all important respects Roman Catholics with a taste for byzantine vestments and liturgical rites? That is the question which needs to be answered.

    ICXC NIKA
    John

  26. Since this didn’t quite work a month ago, I’ll repeat it (slightly edited) in hopes of good results.

    So, could someone tell us the PRECISE legal ramifications for those who were excommunicated in 1054 by Papal legates, but only invalidly, since, by the time the Papal legates arrived to do their thing, the Pope had already died?

    And didn’t the excommunication coming from the Orthodox direction affect only the legates themselves?

    And then, those excommunications being invalid and not general, did they and Rome exchange further excommunications? And, if so, were these not annulled again and again in following centuries?

    And if further rupture continued here or there, did the final nullifcation of “excommunications” in 1965 have no juridical effect? Should that be repeated? Why? It’s done, isn’t it?

    Of course, I would hope that no one would read into what I said above as saying that heresy promoted by whatever INDIVIDUAL is unimportant. Again, who speaks for whom? If a bishop denies the Trinity, for example, does that mean that all those holding him to be their bihsop also deny the Trinity? No, it doesn’t. There is hope, is there not?

    Moreover, even if that bishop actively denies the Latin version of the Creed (Filioque), that doesn’t mean he knows what he is doing. He is rejecting what he may not understand.

    If I remember correctly, Saint Thomas Aquinas did a study on how the Orthodox believe the same thing about the Trinity, different language, yes, but the same substance.

    This is interesting. No one claims that the Angelic Doctor was a heretic, even though he did not fully assent to the Immaculate Conception. “He just didn’t understand!” they scream. I rest my case.

    Of course, as regards “dual unity”… Well, I’d like to hear more of what he has to say in further interviews. Constantinople is, shall we say, rather important!

    Cheers!

  27. Warren Anderson says:

    This is THE Eastern Hierarch, educated at the Pontifical Oriental Institute (Gregorian University), promoting unity. Indeed, the suggestion is not without its problems, but the Patriarch is thinking outside the box. We need to think outside the box if the breach is ever going to be healed. It would seem that the Patriarch has taken seriously Archbishop Lubomyr’s thinking on the matter.

    We’ve all said we’re sorry for past mistakes. The theologians have been doing a fine job. Let’s hope Moscow calms down long enough to listen and get with the program. Trusting in God’s mercy, God will restore our separated brethren to unity with Rome.

    As a believer in the promise Christ made to Saint Peter to protect His Church, I am confident that Catholicism will avoid the syncretism fashioned by other communities trying to weld themselves together because, as our Holy Father has reminded us, the Catholic Church cannot surrender the Truth. The fact that Rome has preserved the truth (thanks be to God!) will draw others home. Once people take Church history seriously, and let go of obstacles, they’ll come home. Remember the Assyrians who, the last couple of months, have returned to unity with their Chaldean brothers in California!. And, we have a whole slough of traditional Anglicans beating down the door to get in. Exciting times!

    On that glorious day known to God alone when the Church is restored to unity, all believers will have been drawn together by the Holy Spirit Himself into the one household of God, and led by the Universal Shepherd (the Bishop of Rome), will render praise and thanksgiving to God for such a great gift. In the meantime, let’s dispose ourselves to the influence of the Holy Spirit, that we may be conformed to Christ and thus be the best models of truth and charity that will attract others to Christ and His Church.

  28. Michael says:

    RE: Ben 21st June to Hieromonk Gregory. Ben, you take upon yourself the role of the Magisterium. There is no document of the latter telling us that the “Orthodox are …objectively heretics”; it is your own inference, mistaken I think.

    The Rev. Hieromonk rightly tells you that they “have not changed the doctrine of the Church since the Schism of 1054”, and you must admit at least that, by 1054, they had not been heretics. If you believe, as you should, that all that has been subsequently defined by the Catholic Church, was implicitly contained in the faith up to 1054, then surely what the Orthodox believe now contains implicitly all the dogmas defined by the Church since 1054. The fact that some of them do not see it that way but explicitly deny the post 1054 definitions, doesn’t make all of them objectively heretics, and even for those who explicitly deny one should prove that the denial is “obstinate” (Can. 751); which is interpreted by canonists as referring to a persistence after warning have been given, and it must be conscious and wilful.

    The Orthodox Church has not held an ecumenical council – the sole body authorized to teach in the name of Orthodoxy; i.e. they have never explicitly denied any of the post 1054 definitions.

    Your phrase “objectively heretics” doesn’t appear in the Canon Law. If you think that all those Orthodox who have never had a chance to hear about the Church’s definitions since 1054, are objectively heretics, you should equally apply the term to the majority of those who are on baptismal records in Catholic parishes; and if going pedantically through a manual of dogmatic theology, you might well end up finding yourself among them.

  29. Should we not all ask – “What am I doing to fulfil the command of Christ that all be one?” Not what someone else is doing or not doing, but asking truthfully what am I doing or not doing? What efforts am I making to understand either the Catholic Church or the Orthodox Churches? Do I really know what the dogmas are that are essential to the faith and how they are expressed? [Catholics who seek unity, and I speak as a Catholic, must make a thorough study of the liturgical texts of the Orthodox Churches, and also make a sincere attempt to fully understand what the Orthodox Churches believe and teach. This is no easy task, yet it is necessary. If I am not willing to do this, civility demands silence, less I speak in such a way to create a situation that is odious.] Unity of faith is not to be equated with a uniformity of theological opinions. Unity is not a matter of submission. Unity is a gift of the Holy Spirit [Am I open to accepting this precious gift - a gift that demands that "it is not I who lives, but Christ who lives in me"?]. Can we not already see that there is already in baptism and chrismation [confirmation] a communion between Orthodox and Catholic Christians? Or are we so arrogant that we desire to exclude those whom Christ already embraces? This would truly be a sign that I am not one with Christ. The Catholic Church recognizes that the Orthodox Churches have the fullness of the sacraments. Catholics need to ask what this recognition demands of Catholics in relationship to the Orthodox. What must I as a Catholic do and change in my life if I really take Christ seriously “that all be one”? If I am not serious about what Christ demands, I should have the integrity to admit such and examine my own life, rather than accusing others.

  30. athanasius says:

    Michael,

    Your phrase “objectively heretics” doesn’t appear in the Canon Law. If you think that all those Orthodox who have never had a chance to hear about the Church’s definitions since 1054, are objectively heretics, you should equally apply the term to the majority of those who are on baptismal records in Catholic parishes; and if going pedantically through a manual of dogmatic theology, you might well end up finding yourself among them.

    “Objective heretics” is another way of saying “material heretics” which means someone whose position is objectively a denial of faith and morals, but the person is unaware that this is the case. A formal heretic is one who obstinately denies an article of faith after his baptism knowing the magisterium has said otherwise.

    In the 1983 Code of Canon Law, the Church declares:

    Dicitur haeresis, pertinax post receptum baptismum, alicuius veritatis fide divina et catholica credendae denegatio, aut de eadem pertinax dubitatio;… schisma subiectionis Summo Pontifici aut communionis cum Ecclesiae membris eidem subditis detrectatio.

    Heresy is said to be the obstinate denial (denigration), after the reception of baptism, of any truth whatsoever which must be believed with divine and Catholic belief, or likewise an obstinate doubt; … Schism is the removal from subjection to the Supreme Pontiff or communion with the members of the Church subjected to the same. (Canon 751)

    Hence, the Orthodox are materially schismatic (I say materially, because they have a sincere belief that they don’t have the obligation to be under the Supreme Pontiff).

    Second, they do not ascribe to all the definitions of the Latin Church since 1054, so therefore they are materially heretics. Doubt this? Ask any orthodox priest or bishop if he accepts the definition of the filioque from Lateran II? The declaration of necessity of union with the Roman Pontiff of the Council of Florence? The declaration of Papal infallibiltiy of Vatican I? Or the delcaration of the same in Vatican II? They do not and would not. Therefore they are heretics. Now they do not believe these things are true, or that the authority constituted is one to which they owe obedience, yet they have been baptized, hence materially the Orthodox are heretics.

    Now any Orthodox priest would say the same about a Roman Catholic. They even go so far as to “re-baptize” Catholics who come to the Orthodox, which is what ancient heretics did.

    Thus, any inter-communion is a joke, because there cannot be communion without unity in Doctrine, because there is only “One Lord, One Faith, and One Baptism.” (Eph. IV:5)

  31. Nick says:

    The Patriarch’s suggestion is actually rather humorous excluding the general perception that he is already a Uniate/Byzantine Catholic of sorts. Until Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy share the same faith, councils, etc. etc. etc., it is bizarre to suggest that groups of either church incrementally initiate intercommunion. As in the case of the Melkites, any Orthodox has the option of becoming Roman Catholic and vice versa. Orthodoxy does not have a pope (in the Roman understanding, indeed rejects papal pretensions as heretical) and no Orthodox patriarch claims such unique jurisdiction even if Patriarch Bartholomeos poses at times as if he did. Regardless, I tend to doubt there will be any serious Papal approval forthcoming especially when the Patriarch seems to be addressing the Byzantine Catholics over Rome’s head.

  32. Alex says:

    It will be spiritual and a miracle if the reunion happens in time and space. We must all commend oursleves to the Blessed Theotokos as she is the Mother of us all. Prayer is the only way and not formulas or even well intented “dialogue”.

    In the Middle East and in some areas of the Ukraine there is de facto unity with some aspects. Many Unias call themselves Orthodox in union with Rome. There is intercommunion. Catholicism (as in Peter) is actually closer concerning inter-communion and actual agreements with the Assyrians, Oriental Orthodoxy and descendants of Monophysites and Nestorians (Jacobites) who have the original Antiochene Liturgy of St. James with the Epiclesis in Aramaic (or Syriac) although as far as India the Holy Qurbana is in the indigenous dialect (I tink of Kerala).

    I know many Melkite families who are dual parishoners of the Orthodox Church, commune at both and have much intermarriage.
    The same is true for the Orthodox. Ukrainian Orthodox are never rejected for communion by Ukrainian Catholics.

    Even the Romanian (was it a Bishop or Patriarch) received Catholic communion I think in a Divine Liturgy but from the Papal Legate.

    The people will unite before the leaders, practicality and not just theology (not diminishing the importance of theology) will probably play a bigger role.

    Sins of history (on both sides but more on the Latin West as it was dominant but on both sides) as well as politics and human nature are bigger than theological reaosons not diminishing those.

  33. I rather fear that most of the damage Islam could do
    to the eastern church already occurred a long time ago.
    One can only imagine what the religious map of eastern Europe,
    Asia minor and the middle east would look like today if the
    Great Schism had never occurred.

  34. Michael says:

    Ad Athanasius, 22 June. Your comment encouraged me to read mine again; yes, I shouldn’t have used the word “objectively” in the second paragraph. The sentence in question is now amended:

    The fact that some of them do not see it that way but explicitly deny the post 1054 definitions, doesn’t make all of them formally heretics, and even for those who explicitly deny, one should prove that the denial is “obstinate” (Can. 751); which is interpreted by canonists as referring to a persistence after warning has been given, and it must be conscious and wilful.

    But in the last paragraph, reproduced by you in italics, I quoted the Ben’s phrase “objectively heretics”, and understood it to mean “materially heretics”, i.e. exactly as you mean it.

    A distinction between material (“objective”) and formal heresy is theological, not canonical. Can. 751 (and Can. 1325 of the 1917 Code) refers to the formal heresy only, while you have applied it to the material heresy.

    The specialists in dogmatic theology apart, most of us are material heretics, because we do not know and therefore cannot believe all dogmas. So, we have enough to be bothered about, and better leave the Orthodox in peace. Of the three examples of their rejection of Catholic definitions the first two were not definitions, and Vatican I defined not only on Infallibility, but also three on Primacy (and some others)…

    The Orthodox are definitely not formal heretics, for the reasons I gave on 22 June. To this, one should add that the doubtful law doesn’t bind, and the Can. 751 doesn’t seem to apply to non-Catholics, because the phrase “who calls himself a Christian” in the Can. 1325 of the 1917 Code, to specify that the Canon is applicable to all baptised persons, doesn’t appear in Can. 751. Furthermore, a heretic is subject to latae sententiae excommunication, but I understand that the earlier practice of absolving from it prior to a reception into the Church has been abandoned. Vatican II doesn’t use the word heretic/heresy at all, and refers to other Christians as the “separated brethren”, who are in communion with us but the communion is “incomplete” (UR 3). So, we are not to speak of conversion but of coming to “full” communion from what was an incomplete one.

    This is the basis for a limited intercommunion. That there cannot be communion without unity in Doctrine, because there is only “One Lord, One Faith, and One Baptism.” (Eph. IV:5), is the principle that guides both the Catholic and the Orthodox Churches. But it is for the Magisterium to interpret it, both as a principle and as to its NT foundation, and must not be understood to mean that “any inter-communion is a joke”. It has always been practised in baptism of necessity, and in mixed marriages. Canon Law and the new Ecumenical Directory regulate it with regard to the Penance, Eucharist, and the Sacrament of the Sick

    Regarding the definitions the Orthodox do not ascribe, one should not apply to all the Orthodox what some of them reject. Presumably, an ordinary faithful has no clue what he is rejecting even if he does it verbally. Even the sophisticated, theologically trained intellectual might be rejecting not the Catholic doctrine but his own misunderstanding of it. But the majority, as in the Catholic Church, do not bother about doctrine, and are happy to live their faith in their beautiful, and doctrinally rich and sound liturgy.

  35. Ben says:

    Re Michael, June 22: Athanasius responded to your comment re my post and I don’t think there is much more I can add. Save that I must make it clear, although I thought I was, that I was not judging any individuals. As you rightly suggest an examination of Catholics could result in some disappointing results: not least an examination of myself.

    This ‘dual communion’ proposal requires an examination of the parties involved, i.e. the Catholics (western and eastern) and the Orthodox. The Orthodox do not believe in all that the Catholic Church believes and they assert that we are heretical for our beliefes. And all this “they’re the same as in 1054″ what does that mean? Does it mean that Rome then and since has erred? Does that mean that the position of the Orthodox in 1054 is correct? The Orthodox are also errant in morals: look at their teaching on ‘re-marriage.’

    Too many people it would appear do not grasp (or want to) that the reality is that the two groups genuinely differ and have done for a thousand years. I repeat, the ‘Uniate Churches’ are the Eastern Church, not the Orthodox. The dual-communion proposal is nothing more than a request for the Christians faithful to Rome to move back into line and towards Constantinople. Living in England I have witnessed first hand the uselessness of the obsession of many in the Church here with ‘unity’ with the Anglicans(I converted form that chuch 9 years ago in high school). While not as obviously crazy the obsession with unity with the Orthodox is also a waste of time. Prayer and missions is the answer: our interaction with the individuals in the East should be the priority: not selling the true Eastern Church, the Uniates, down the river. It may not be very ‘nice’ to say such things but the Orthodox are big enough to take it on the chin. While niceness is practically a sacrament for Anglicans, Rome does not confuse Charity with niceness.

    We all need Christ, his Mother and his Vicar.

  36. johnny says:

    Ben

    This might make interesting reading for you, if you care to pursue this issue. You make some valid points, but perhaps you take it to far. From the late Vicar of the Roman Church:
    ON THE RECENT CHANGES
    IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_let_19910531_relationships-catholics-orthodox_en.html

  37. Michael says:

    Ad Ben 24th June.

    “And all this ‘they are the same as in 1054’ what does that mean? Does that mean that the position of the Orthodox in 1054 is correct?” – It doesn’t if one takes strictly 1054; it does if one takes the whole first millennium. It means that what is now the Orthodox Church was, during the first millennium, the Eastern part of the Catholic Church; it means that what the Orthodox Church now explicitly believes is what the whole Catholic Church explicitly believed until 1054, because the Orthodox haven’t changed that faith; even more: all that the Orthodox Church now explicitly and positively believes is a part of the Catholic faith too.

    “Does it mean that Rome then and since has erred?” – No, Rome has not changed that same faith, but continued, flourished in fact, with unfolding it, articulating explicitely what had been implicit both in the West and in the East by 1054. The Rome was faced with a challenge of Reformation and, later, secularism, and had to articulate the common Deposit more explicitly. The separated East, however, was cut off from all this by the Ottoman empire, a terror in fact during which their very survival was at stake; then there was a Greek v. Latin language barrier, lack of communication; and the unfortunate incidents 1054 and 1204 (the latter was actually the final blow to unity, not the former) had their consequences which made the exchange more difficult. The problem of the East was not the Reformation but survival.

    So, under the circumstances, they had no choice but to put a lid on the common doctrine as it was at that time, and preserve it as it was at that time, but this common doctrine is still there with an inherent potency to unfold. The fact, that in the course of polemics, they tended to see all the Western unfoldings as novelties, unfaithful to the common tradition, “heresies”, doesn’t mean that they are in a positive sense doctrinally bound to believe that that is so. It is not an article of their faith that the Western developments are heresies. In fact, they have never had an ecumenical council to decide about it. The faith is about what one believes not what one rejects. So, to refrain from referring to the Western definitions after 1054 as heresies would not compromise their faith, which, in so far as it goes, is the Catholic faith.

    “The Orthodox do not believe in all that the Catholic Church believes”. – Not explicitly – to put it better, but it is there, implicit in the preserved Deposit, and let us hope it would “show up” in due course. A verbal external rejection of what is actually, materially, present in the Deposit they adhere to, but at this stage do not see that it is there, doesn’t mean they would reject it if they realized that it is there. Why not help them instead of patronizing them and accusing them for “errors”.

    So, what “they assert that we are heretical for our beliefs” must be read in the context of past polemics; in fact they are asserting it less and less, because they, too, realize that this division between us is a scandal.

    “The Orthodox are also errant in morals: look at their teaching on ‘re-marriage”. As far as I know, they believe in indissolubility of marriage; the difference is in pastoral practice when the marriage is de facto dead. They say that divorce is a sin, but it doesn’t follow that, once the sin is committed and repented but a reunion impossible, a new marriage cannot be contracted. They appeal to the exception in St. Matthew, and claim that it was so from the beginning. Probably it was, but I cannot insist. The fact is that Trent refrained from an unambiguous condemnation of their practice (D 974 and 977). The Catholic Church permits a divorce with remarriage, but it is more restricted (unconsummated marriage, St. Paul’s privilege); and, materially, the sophisticated canonical devices for declaration on nullity are in many cases divorces. They do not have these devices, but call the things by their name. I do not say that there is no problem for theologians to resolve, but let’s not blow it out of proportion.

  38. athanasius says:

    it means that what the Orthodox Church now explicitly believes is what the whole Catholic Church explicitly believed until 1054, because the Orthodox haven’t changed that faith; even more: all that the Orthodox Church now explicitly and positively believes is a part of the Catholic faith too.

    So their teaching on divorce in remarriage, entirely opposed to the fathers and what the Catholic faith has always held, is somehow apart of the Catholic faith? Their refusal to accept the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome, clear to all the Fathers (Irraneus, Tertullian, Cyprian, Augustine, Chrysostom who was restored to the list of Bishops by a Pope) in the first millenium is part of the Catholic faith? Their tolerance for contraception, condemned from St. Paul onward is part of the Catholic faith? Your position doesn’t work because separated from the barque of Peter, the Orthodox have developed an aberrant theology, which is materially heretical.

    So, to refrain from referring to the Western definitions after 1054 as heresies would not compromise their faith, which, in so far as it goes, is the Catholic faith.

    It doesn’t go very far because to omit one doctrine is to omit the Catholic faith. One can kid themselves all they want but if you don’t hold the Catholic faith whole and entire you are not a Catholic whether this is by ignorance or by obstinate fact.

    As far as I know, they believe in indissolubility of marriage; the difference is in pastoral practice when the marriage is de facto dead.

    There is no such thing as a marriage that is “de facto dead” unless it is the result of the death of one spouse. As you mean it however it is when a marriage is not working. That is not indissolubility, that is convenience. Your appealing to the abuse of annulments only makes me question if you understand canon law. That local Churches abuse a genuine canonical inquiry, such as a case of nullity of the sacrament, is no cornerstone for an argument for divorce and remarriage (which is what the Orthodox practice, so we can drop the nefarious cloaking of “pastoral practice”), especially given that the Vatican overturns many annulments each year.

    but it is more restricted (unconsummated marriage, St. Paul’s privilege)

    Uncsoummated marriages are not valid sacramentally, and are not “remarriage”. St. Paul however provides no privilege, and explicitly condemns remarriage (see below)

    Second your whole argument is fallacious. The reason that a new marriage is impossible has nothing to do with the sin of divorce, because divorce (understood as separation) is not intrinsically evil, but evil under certain circumstances. Remarriage is intrinsically evil because it is the command of the Son of God who interprets all scripture and handed down tradition and teaching to the Apostles, which the Orthodox have rejected. If you knew Greek, you would see that the so-called exception of Matthew V only pertains to divorce, not to remarriage, because there are certain cases in which a separation may be the only way to amicably resolve a problem. But in no wise does the exception clause speak of remarriage as a possibility, or else Jesus’ words would make no sense. If we look at the context, the Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus into saying something compromising, and ask him to choose between two views, one that says you can have no fault divorce (kata pasan aitian) or according to the Mosaic formula. If Jesus was permitting divorce and remarriage in limited circumstances (porneia) he would be giving them exactly Moses’ law, which He condemned as a concession for sinful men. St. Paul also teaches:

    But to them that are married, not I but the Lord commandeth, that the wife depart not from her husband. And if she depart, that she remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband. And let not the husband put away his wife.” I Cor. VII:10,11

    St. Basil the Great teaches:

    If a husband, separated from his wife, approaches another woman, he is an adulterer because he makes that woman commit adultery; and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has drawn another’s husband to herself” -Moralia, 73, 1)

    Pope Innocent I taught:

    “Your diligence has asked concerning those, also, who, by means of a deed of separation, have contracted another marriage. It is manifest that they are adulterers on both sides.” -Ad Probum

    St. Ambrose teaches:

    You dismiss your wife, therefore as if by right and without being charged with wrongdoing; and you suppose it is proper for you to do so because no human law forbids it; but divine law forbids it… What God has joined let no man put asunder.”

    (Commentary on Luke VIII:5)

    St. Jerome teaches:

    “Wherever there is fornication and a suspicion of fornication a wife is freely dismissed. Because it is always possible that someone may clumniate the innocent and, for the sake of a second joining in marriage, act in criminal fashion against the first, ti is commanded that when the first wife is dismissed a second may not be taken while the first lives.” -Commentary on St. Mathew, 3, 19.9, Migne)

    St. Augustine teaches:

    Neither can it be rightly held that a husband who dismisses his wife because of fornication and marries another does not commit adultery. For there is also adulter on the part of those who, after the repudiation of their former wives because of fornication, marry others.” -Adulterous Marriages, 1, 9, 9, Migne)

    The sacramental bond, which they lose neither through separation nor through auldtery, this the spouses should guard chastely and harmoniously.” (ibid)

    Pope Zachary taught the Carolingians:

    “If any layman shall put away his own wife and marry another, or if he shall marry a woman who has been put away by another man, let him be deprived of communion” -Monum. Germ. Hist.: Epist., III:Epist. Merovingici et Karolini ævi

    The Council of Trent did in fact condemn the Greek position, and I’m not sure what you are getting at by referencing those articles in Denzinger. 974 bears no weight on this discussion, 977 reads:

    Can. 7. If anyone says that the Church errs, inasmuch as she has taught and still teaches that in accordance with evangelical and apostolic doctrine [ Matt. 10: 1 1Cor. 7] the bond of matrimony cannot be dissolved because of adultery of one of the married persons, and that both, or even the innocent one, who has given no occasion for adultery, cannot during the lifetime of the other contract another marriage, and that he, who after the dismissal of the adulteress shall marry another, is guilty of adultery, and that she also, who after the dismissal of the adulterer shall marry another: let him be anathema.

    (emphasis mine)

    The canon is condemning anyone who says that the Church is wrong when she teaches that you can not remarry after a divorce. Furthermore Trent teaches:

    If anyone says that the bond of matrimony can be dissolved because of heresy, or grievous cohabitation, or voluntary absence from the spouse: let him be anathema.

    -Canon 5 (975)

    Besides that, the note in Denzinger makes it clear that Pope Pius XI rejected the Orthodox position absolutely in Casti Conubii, so the point is useless either way.

    The Orthodox have rejected clear Apostolic and scriptural teaching from the 1st millenium because a law in the Eastern Roman Empire got mixed in with their canons. Sacramental theology is clear that when a true valid sacramental marriage is contracted, it cannot be dissolved not even by the Pope.

    The specialists in dogmatic theology apart, most of us are material heretics, because we do not know and therefore cannot believe all dogmas.

    This is false, although most Roman Catholics are highly ignorant of their Church’s teaching, because ignorance of a doctrine is not tantamount to its rejection. One must hold the false proposition in ignorance in order to be a material heretic.

    A distinction between material (“objective”) and formal heresy is theological, not canonical.

    Even so, the orthodox are still materially heretics, just as every Orthodox priest I have ever met holds that Roman Catholics are materially heretics.

    Vatican II doesn’t use the word heretic/heresy at all, and refers to other Christians as the “separated brethren”, who are in communion with us but the communion is “incomplete” (UR 3). So, we are not to speak of conversion but of coming to “full” communion from what was an incomplete one.

    Separated brethren can mean many things, but Vatican II must be read in light of Tradition, which does teach that the Orthodox are schismatic by nature and materially heretics. What else is a return to full communion but a renunciation of false teachings concerning the Papacy, the Holy Ghost, divorce and remarriage, contraception, etc. and acceptance of Catholic doctrine whole and entire? Full communion is another word for conversion. The Uniates have done that, they are the Eastern Church, the Orthodox are not.

    But it is for the Magisterium to interpret it, both as a principle and as to its NT foundation, and must not be understood to mean that “any inter-communion is a joke”.

    The problem is the magisterium of the Church has already interpreted this. The Church did not begin in 1965. Pope Pius XI, infallibly declared that

    And here it seems opportune to expound and to refute a certain false opinion, on which this whole question, as well as that complex movement by which non-Catholics seek to bring about the union of the Christian churches depends. ..For they are of the opinion that the unity of faith and government, which is a note of the one true Church of Christ, has hardly up to the present time existed, and does not to-day exist. They consider that this unity may indeed be desired and that it may even be one day attained through the instrumentality of wills directed to a common end, but that meanwhile it can only be regarded as mere ideal. They add that the Church in itself, or of its nature, is divided into sections; that is to say, that it is made up of several churches or distinct communities, which still remain separate, [i.e. intercommunion] and although having certain articles of doctrine in common, nevertheless disagree concerning the remainder; that these all enjoy the same rights; and that the Church was one and unique from, at the most, the apostolic age until the first Ecumenical Councils. Controversies therefore, they say, and longstanding differences of opinion which keep asunder till the present day the members of the Christian family, must be entirely put aside, and from the remaining doctrines a common form of faith drawn up and proposed for belief, and in the profession of which all may not only know but feel that they are brothers.

    These pan-Christians who turn their minds to uniting the churches seem, indeed, to pursue the noblest of ideas in promoting charity among all Christians: nevertheless how does it happen that this charity tends to injure faith? Everyone knows that John himself, the Apostle of love, who seems to reveal in his Gospel the secrets of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and who never ceased to impress on the memories of his followers the new commandment “Love one another,” altogether forbade any intercourse with those who professed a mutilated and corrupt version of Christ’s teaching: “If any man come to you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house nor say to him: God speed you.”(II John I:6) For which reason, since charity is based on a complete and sincere faith, the disciples of Christ must be united principally by the bond of one faith. [i.e. no intercommunion]

    Furthermore, in this one Church of Christ no man can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors. Did not the ancestors of those who are now entangled in the errors of Photius [i.e. the Orthodox, remember there is no intercommunion between truth and error] and the reformers, obey the Bishop of Rome, the chief shepherd of souls? Alas their children left the home of their fathers, but it did not fall to the ground and perish for ever, for it was supported by God. Let them therefore return to their common Father, who, forgetting the insults previously heaped on the Apostolic See, will receive them in the most loving fashion. For if, as they continually state, they long to be united with Us and ours, why do they not hasten to enter the Church, “the Mother and mistress of all Christ’s faithful”? Let them hear Lactantius crying out: “The Catholic Church is alone in keeping the true worship. This is the fount of truth, this the house of Faith, this the temple of God: if any man enter not here, or if any man go forth from it, he is a stranger to the hope of life and salvation. Let none delude himself with obstinate wrangling. For life and salvation are here concerned, which will be lost and entirely destroyed, unless their interests are carefully and assiduously kept in mind.” -Moralium Animos, no. 7, 9, and 11

    I rest my case. Unless you want to argue that Vatican II contradicts and overrides Pius XI, the very thing Martin Luther claimed about Popes and Councils. The Orthodox can not be in communion with teaching of the Church from the first millennium but not from the second and third. Jesus Chris is the same, yesterday, today and forever (Heb. IV:13). If their doctrine had no time to develop let them accept the developed doctrine approved by the successor of St. Peter. The language of accepting Catholicism until 1054 is theologically bankrupt, and can not be excused by a lack of unified response to 2nd millenium councils. There is not one cleric or laymen in any Orthodox Church, Chalcedonian or otherwise, who accepts Catholic teaching on the filioque, from the catechized to the uncatechized, they can not claim ignorance on that. If they want inter-communion, let them abjure their errors and cease harassing those faithful sons who sacrificed all to be Catholic yet retain their Eastern heritage.

  39. athanasius says:

    I misspoke, the exception clause is not Matthew V but Matthew XIX. Apologies.

  40. Michael says:

    Ad Athanasius 25 June.
    (1) Your Orthodox teaching “on divorce in remarriage”. It would be best if an Orthodox reader, familiar with the subject, would comment. I fear that your and Ben’s sources are second hand leftovers of the time when mutual accusations were a standard, when “winning” an argument was more important than finding truth. The teaching of Vatican II, particularly of the Decree on Ecumenism, is indispensable in this debate, and for us who are trying to be Catholics, morally binding. The main Orthodox source I am using is T. Ware (now Bishop Kallistos): The Orthodox Church, 1972, pp 301-302.

    One can neither agree nor disagree before he has learned what the Orthodox actually believe, and learned it from them.

    Another source, which is indispensable, but for the Orthodox faith in general, is their magnificent Liturgy, which is in fact the Catholic Liturgy which goes back to the time when what is now the Orthodox Church was the Eastern half of the Catholic world, and is also used by the Byzantine Rite Catholics (Ukrainians, Melkites etc). In my view, it is superior to anything the Western Church has produced. Another source, and easily accessible, is Father Gregory Jansen’s blog Koinoia, from which one can see that the leftovers to past quarrels are very much present among them too, but also intellectually powerful attempts to change this sad state of affairs. (I, of course, accept the Catholic doctrine, and I am a Latin Rite Catholic, born and bred in that rite, and love it for doctrinal reasons.) The relevant extracts from Bishop Kallistos, pp 301-302 follow:

    “The Orthodox Church permit divorce and re-marriage, quoting as its authority the text of Matthew XIX, 9………Certainly Orthodox regards the marriage as in principle lifelong and indissoluble, and it condemns the breakdown of marriage as a sin and an evil. But while condemning the sin, the Church still desires to help the sinners and to allow them the second chance. When, therefore, a marriage has entirely ceased to be a reality, the Orthodox Church does not insist on the preservation of the legal fiction. Divorce is seen as an exceptional and necessary concession to human sin; it is an act of oiconomia (‘economy’ or dispensation) ……In the service for the second marriage several of the joyful ceremonies are omitted, and replaced by penitential prayers. …. In theory the Canons only permit divorces in cases of adultery, but in practice it is sometimes granted for other reasons as well.”

    For practical reasons, I will deal with the marriage first – Nos. (2) to (11); then I will follow your other comments in sequence, and post it later; otherwise the whole would be too long.

    (2) One cannot claim that their teaching is “entirely opposed to the fathers”, unless he has read all the Fathers about the subject. Of the only four quoted, only St. Augustine approaches the present Catholic doctrine, but even he does not address the question in dispute: whether the Church may divorce in exceptional circumstances – the point where we seem to differ from the Orthodox. St. Augustine only proposes a general principle, i.e. that the marriage is indissoluble, but this is the position of the Orthodox Church too (see above). St. Ambrose says that the divine law forbids dismissal of a wife “as if by right and without being charged with wrongdoing”; the implication seems to be that it is permitted to dismiss if a wrongdoing is involved. The passages from St. Basil and St. Jerome are even less convincing. But supposing that St. Augustine was identical to that of Pius XI, see (4), his isolated example would not, as such, have much value. Thus far about the Orthodox Church being “entirely opposed to the fathers”.

    (3) The two popes quoted (Innocent I, Zachary) teach like St. Augustine, and, again, leave the disputed question aside. Likewise, Trent Can. 5, which rules out heresy, domestic incompatibility and wilful desertion as reasons for dissolution; other reasons, adultery for example, are not ruled out. This reference answers your point: “I am not surewhat you are getting at by referencing those articles in Denzinger . 974 bears no weight in this discussion”, in principle. I must apologize, however, for having referred to 974 instead to 975, i.e. Can 5.

    (2/3) I think one better be cautious in applying to the early texts – see (2), and the popes in (3), to the present concepts. A clear distinction between moral norms (i.e. whether a sin is involved or not), sacramental bond (whether it is dissoluble or not), and canon law (whether the Church allows it or not) might not have been clear in those days. When St. Ambrose, for instance, says what “divine law forbids”, he might mean: if you violate it, it is a sin and nothing more, which would be in line with the Orthodox position; or it is both a sin and an obstacle to a re-marriage.

    (4) “The Council of Trent did in fact condemn the Greek position.”
    It did not. I understand that the Canon 7 (“Denzinger 976”) was carefully formulated to avoid condemnation of the“Greeks”: it anathemathazes anyone who “says” that the Catholic Church “errs” in what she says about indissolubility, but the Orthodox Church does not say that. So, we better approach ecclesiastical documents with an open mind, without preconceived ideas.

    (5) “Pope Pius XI rejected the Orthodox position absolutely in Casti Conubii, so the point is useless either way.”
    It isn’t useless, among other things also because he doesn’t mention the Orthodox Church, although he might have had it in mind. He clarifies the Canons of Trent. But only Trent is infallible, the Casti Connubii isn’t.

    (By the way – but I will come to this in the next post, in view of your notion of “tradition” – here is an example of interpretation in the light of Tradition: Trent infallible, CC can’t overrule it; only explain. But the same doesn’t apply if a pope doesn’t speak ex cathedra: another pope or an ecumenical council can set it aside, add something to it, modify it, give more clear explanation of it, put emphasis on some aspects, play down others, and can even overrule it although I do not know of a case.)

    To conclude this point: even if one could say that the Orthodox Church is in error, it would not be a heresy, because it would not be a denial of what is defined as de fide. One could argue the latter, I mean: that it is de fide, on the grounds of a non-defined common teaching, but you offer none; and I think it would be difficult to prove conclusively.

    (6) To repeat, the Catholic doctrine is not in question. I am trying to explain the Orthodox position, because an objective knowledge of the Orthodox doctrine and pastoral practice, not the misconceptions of it in polemic sources which claim to be Catholic, is relevant in this context. And from this viewpoint, the Encyclical and all the other quotations given by you are of no help.

    (7) “There is no such thing as a marriage that is ‘de facto dead, unless it is the result of the death of one spouse. As you mean it however it is when a marriage is not working.”
    I do mean the latter, but the comment is, again, unhelpful. I am not disputing the Catholic doctrine, but trying to explain the Orthodox position. The quoted phrase is not meant to deny our position, but to paraphrase what Bishop Kallistos calls “a marriage … which has entirely ceased to be a reality”), and he obviously doesn’t think in terms of Catholic doctrine on the indissoluble “res et sacramentum”, which was developed after 1054. The issue they raise for us is: whether the Church, with the power to bind and loose, is authorized to disolve “dead” (in Bishop Kallistos’ sense) marriages. Pius XI says: “no” (“never, or for any cause”), but doesn’t propose it infallibly. The issue is not whether he may say: “no” – the Orthodox, I think, do not deny that he may – but whether the Orthodox can say “no” in principle, but “yes” if the marriage is “dead”. It is up to the Magisterium to give a definite Catholic answer.

    (8) “your appealing to the abuse of annulments only makes me question if you understand canon law. That local Churches abuse a genuine canonical inquiry, such as a case of nullity of the sacrament, is no cornerstone for an argument for divorce and remarriage…. especially given that the Vatican overturns many annulments each year.”
    All that I say is that, materially, the cases, which they call divorces are approximately the same as the cases which go in our practice as annulments, but materially there is no difference: in both can one can contract a new bond. I do not think that they use the concept of annulment, but an Orthodox reader might help in this. If I am right, it can simply be said that they have divorces but not annulments, and we have annulments but not divorces, a difference being that we use different terms for the same thing. It may be – I am not Magisterium – that by a refinement of concepts and language used to express them, a solution can be found. See the whole paragraph of my earlier comment (24 June, last paragraph). The basic principle in UR 17 might be applicable here, although it is not meant specifically for this particular matter.

    Regarding the “abuse of annulments”. I cannot buy this excuse. A relatively few occasions when “Vatican overturns many annulments each year” do not cancel the fact that the Pope is doing nothing, effectively, to stop the widespread practice; and it follows that this is the pastoral position taken by the Church; alternatively, the Pope is a paper head, unable to change it. The Canon Law and related documents are not the marriage, and it is the marriage itself, which shows what the Church actually is in that respect, i.e. she is not different from the Orthodox Church. The Canon Law is not the Church, but a peace of paper.

    (9) “Unconsummated marriages are not valid sacramentally.”
    I thought they were, but now I am not sure: what about impotent people or old partners? Perhaps, somebody who knows for sure would clarify.

    (10) “St. Paul however provides no privilege, and explicitly condemns remarriage.”
    Your reference to I Cor. VII:10,11 is about marriage of Christians, and is irrelevant. St. Paul’s privilege refers to the marriage with a non-Christian. See Can.1143 and I Cor.7:12-15, in which case a divorce is given “in favour of the faith.”

    (8-10). The point of (9) and (10) is that there are exceptions however marginal, which show that the principle of indissolubility is not adhered to, absolutely. All the more in view of the situation with the “abuses” – the point (8). The Orthodox Church is more lenient, but I do not think that the two positions are absolutely irreconcilable.

    (11) “If you knew Greek you would see that the so-called exception of Matthew V only pertains to divorce, not to remarriage, because there are certain cases in which a separation may be the only way to amicably resolve a problem. But in no wise does the exception clause speak of remarriage as a possibility, or else Jesus’ words would make no sense. If we look at the context, the Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus into saying something compromising, and ask him to choose between two views, one that says you can have no fault divorce (kata pasan aitian) or according to the Mosaic formula. If Jesus was permitting divorce and remarriage in limited circumstances (porneia) he would be giving them exactly Moses’ law, which He condemned as a concession for sinful men.”
    But Bishop Kallistos knows Greek, and your complicated, strained interpretation is not the only one that makes sense; otherwise there would be no problem. But there is a problem, because other sensible interpretations are possible. The Orthodox Church was originally Greek. We can’t teach them Greek language and mentality. The same position is held by the Coptic Church, which took off after Calcedon. I am fairly sure that the same is held by other “Monophysite” Churches (Armenian, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Syrian and its South Indian off shoot) and by the “Nestorian” Church which took off after Ephesus.

  41. athanasius says:

    Casti Connubii isn’t.

    I’m not going to continue this debate because you have clearly shown an incompetence (not as in you are stupid, but as in lack or learning) as to the nature of dogmatic theology and authority and assent, and about the overall Catholic position on divorce and remarriage.

    Casti Conubii is an encyclical, whose teaching requires the assent of Catholics, and is just as authoritative as the Council of Trent when teaching on Faith and Morals. Neither you nor I are allowed to set aside the teaching of Casti Conubii because the schismatic east wants to allow exceptions to it.

    Secondly, you seem to argue that I think divorce is always wrong. Divorce in and of itself merely means separation, it doesn’t affect the sacramental bonds of marriage. The teachings of the fathers I sited on divorce outline when it might be lawful, essentially on the basis of adultery, which is what our Savior taught.

    Remarriage after divorce is clearly condemned by St. Augustine.

    But Bishop Kallistos knows Greek, and your complicated, strained interpretation is not the only one that makes sense There is nothing strained about my interpretation if you know Greek Grammar. If you don’t you have no right to comment. The Orthodox reading is strained to support their position, like all heretics in history.

  42. Michael says:

    Ad Athanasius 25 June
    This comment is about Papacy, a follow-up to the comments on marriage on 25 June. To quote him:
    “Their (the Orthodox, my note) refusal to accept the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome….”, “…separated from the barque of Peter…” – My assertion was about what the Orthodox now explicitly and positively believe; for that I say: it is Catholic. The “refusal to accept” or “separated from…Peter” does not come under the “positively believe”; it is not an act of faith.

    “….jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome, clear to all the Fathers.” – Only five are listed and none quoted. If quoted, we might well find the same kind of “evidence” as in the doctrine on indissolubility.

    “What else is a return to full communion but renunciation of false teachings concerning Papacy….” – The full communion can be restored without return or renunciation. They say that their position on Papacy now is the same as it was during the first millennium. If that is true – I am not a historian – and if they were, it is certain that they were, a part of the Church during the first millemiun, there is nothing false, nothing to renounce. To expect of them to “return” implies a false accusation that they are guilty for what their ancestors have done – the view that was authoritatively dismissed by the UR 3.

    I do not think that the Orthodox so much reject the Primacy, as the way how it had been exercised between the two Vatican councils, when it was not so much the pope, but the Roman offices – the Church’s institutions, that were in charge of the bishops – of divine institution: it was a bit of anomaly. I this sense, Vatican definitions require further explanations because, as formulated, they are open to various interpretations. And the explanations should be defined; otherwise, they would be less authoritative than are the definitions, and thus less useful. However, for the time being we have an authoritative doctrine of Vatican II to which at least a religious assent is due (LG 25 and subsequent documents).

    I also think that we, as individuals, should refrain from accusing the Orthodox of “false teaching” about Papacy, and from expecting of them to “return” etc. How the Orthodox should respond is not our business: we should leave it to them and hope. Ultimately, there can be no full communion unless they accept Vatican I definitions if precisely clarified, but likewise, unless we accept the definitions thus clarified which I do not think would be an easy job for the Holy Ghost.

    To start with, the SSPX would insist that it all must be “in the light of Tradition.”, i.e. of the “infallible” Mortalium Animos: they would “accept the jurisdiction”, but refuse to obey until the Orthodox have disowned the “errors of Photius”, their “aberrant theology” etc. And there can be no dispute that the moderninsts too would resist reconciliation because they oppose everything that is Catholic, and to face Catholics of Eastern tradition in their full strength would be a nightmare for them. So, we better put our house in order first.

    Bishop Kallistos (pp.322 – 323, note that the text was first published 1964 ):

    “At first sight one is tempted to despair, particularly when one considers …the definitions of the Vatican Council” while “the Roman Church…is bound to regard its definitions as irrevocable. Yet matters are not completely at an impasse. How far, we may ask, orthodox controversialists understood the Vatican decrees aright? Perhaps the meaning attached to definitions by most Western theologians in the past ninety years is not in fact the only possible interpretation. Furthermore it is now widely admitted by Roman Catholics that the Vatican decrees are incomplete and one-sided; they speak only of the Pope and his prerogatives, but say nothing about the bishops [not quite true, to put it subtly, but he is right in principle – Vatican I was interrupted]. Now that a new Roman Council has prepared a further dogmatic statement on the powers of the episcopate, the doctrine…has begun to appear to the Orthodox world in a somewhat different light.

    [Vatican II came up in the meantime with the doctrine on bishops along these lines - which, of course, binds a Catholic conscience - thus completing what Vatican I had on its agenda but it was stopped.]

    “…Orthodox in their turn need to take the idea of Primacy more seriously. Orthodox agree that the Pope is first among the bishops: have they asked themselves carefully and seriously what this really means…Orthodox are not willing to ascribe to the Pope a univesal supremcy of ‘ordinary’ jurisdiction; but may it not be possible for them to ascribe to him, as President and Primate in the college of bishops, a universal responnsibility, an all embracing pastoral care extennding over the whole Church?”

    “ …Hitherto Orthodox theologians, in the heat of controversy, have too often been content simply to attack the Roman doctrine of the Papacy (as they understood it), without attempting to go deeper and to state in positive language what the true nature of Papal primacy is from the Orthodox viewpoint. If Orthodox were to think and more in constructive and less in negative and polemical terms, then the divergence between the two sides might no longer appear so absolute.”

    Ratzinger (1982, in Principles of Catholic Theology, pp.198-9):

    “Cardinal Humbert…designated the Emperor and people of Constantinople as ‘very Christian and orthodox’ although their concept of the Roman primacy was certainly far less different from that of Cerularius than from that, let us say, of the First Vatican Council. In other words, Rome must not require more from the East with respect to the doctrine of primacy than had been formulated and was lived in the first millennium. When Patriarch Athenagoras…on the occasion of the pope’s visit, designated him as the successor of St. Peter, as the most esteemed among us, as one who presides in charity”, he “was expressing the essential content of the doctrine of primacy as it was known in the first millennium. Rome need not ask more. Reunion could take place in this context if, on the one hand, the East would cease to oppose as heretical the developments that took place in the West in the second millennium and would accept the Catholic Church as legitimate and orthodox in the form she had acquired in the course of that development, while, on the other hand, the West would recognize the Church of the East as orthodox and legitimate in the form she has always had.”

  43. Michael says:

    ….just noted Athanasius’ comment of 1st July.
    I accept, of course, the whole Catholic doctrine, including that of the Casti Connubii. All I say is that the particular facet of the doctrine on indissolubility, which Pius IX refers to when he teaches that the marriage can “never, or for any cause” (by the way, not in St.Augustine) be dissolved, is not defined by the Encyclical nor is it in the definitions of Trent; and unless one can demonstrate that it derives its authority from the constant and universal teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium, it is not to be accepted as “of faith” (de fide) – as the doctrinal canons of Trent are – but by the “religious assent” (LG. 25, obsequium), as all the other Magisterial documents, notably: Vatican II, and two recent encyclicals on ecumenism.

    Divorce is always wrong, whatever term is used to denote that the two who are supposed to be in a full sense one, are de facto not one; wrong, because the symbolic reality, res et sacramentum of marriage is in an image of the bond between Christ and his Church, and it is this image that is destroyed by any kind of divorce. We are in agreement with the Orthodox in this; the issue is in the re-marriage.

    Re: Greek text of St. Mathew. We are Catholics, not sola scriptura Protestants. The authentic meaning of a particular text is that meaning which is attached to it by its author, which in the case of Scripture is, ultimately, the Church, not an individual Catholic expert in Greek language. Taken out of the Church the Scripture is open to various interpretations, and thus can’t be used to prove much.

  44. Misha says:

    those who imagine a false union with rome will face soon their delusions.
    we,the orthodox faithful will never accept such a union because this will mean a betrayal of the Orthodox faith.
    may God have mercy ypon all us.

  45. Michael says:

    Misha, I agree. The point is that the Church is such a Mystery, whether the true one is conceived as Orthodox or Catholic, that no individual can claim that his own appropriation, grasp of that Mystery reflects infallibly the faith of the Church he belongs to.

    We would make exception with the Pope ex cathedra, but that refers to clearly defined detail; and as soon as he is doesn’t speak ex cathedra the exception doesn’t apply.

  46. Michael says:

    Misha, I apologize: the end of my last sentence, from the semi-colon should have read: “and as soon as he (is) doesn’t speak ex cathedra the exception doesn’t apply.” The “is” should be deleted.