QUAERITUR: Greek island without a Catholic church on Sunday

From a reader:

we will be on a Greek island without a Catholic church on a Sunday:

can we attend the Greek mass and/or receive the Sacrament?

You can, and I think should, attend the Greek Divine Liturgy if attending a Catholic Mass is not possible. The impossibility of attending a Catholic Mass in a Catholic church or chapel that day absolves you of your obligation (no one is bound by law to do what is impossible).

Even though you can’t fulfill your canonical Sunday obligation, and therefore you are absolved of that obligation, you still have an obligation in natural law to worship God.

Since the Liturgy of the Greek Church is valid and reverent, you can surely fulfill your natural law obligation than to worship with the Greek Orthodox Church.

As to the reception of Holy Communion, can. 844 §2 states,

“whenever necessity requires or a genuine spiritual advantage commends it, and provided the danger of error indifferentism is avoided, Christ’s faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister, may lawfully receive the sacraments of penance, the Eucharist, and anointing of the sick from non-Catholic ministers in whose Churches these sacraments are valid.”

Therefore, it is possible, from the Catholic perspective, to receive. However, the Greek Orthodox Church may differ!

As I understand it, the Orthodox do not entirely agree with us on this principle. They will not, as I understand it, administer the Eucharist to non-Orthodox congregants. In other words, we say we may receive from them, but they say they will not give to us.

Out of respect for their law and practices, it would probably be best not to approach to receive Communion.

You have, instead, the opportunity to make a Spiritual Communion.

Use Communion time to pray, not only for the unity of our Church, as Christ Himself willed, but also for all those who should not receive the Eucharist, perhaps because of irregular marriage situations or even the lack of a priest for their parish.

And I’ll just say it again:

Benedict XVI was the Pope of Christian Unity.


Some people are shocked that I suggested attending liturgical worship of God in an Orthodox Church.  Some even suggest that I am advocating mortal sin.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, Pope of Christian Unity and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. PatriciusOenus says:

    What about the prohibition on praying with heretics?

  2. AJS says:


    As an Eastern Catholic I find that incredibly offensive. You are not allowed to refer to the Orthodox, Eastern or Oriental, as heretics. It is not only unhelpful but inaccurate.

  3. onosurf says:

    Communion from Greek Orthodox schismatics, ok.

    Communion from Roman Catholic SSPX, not ok.

  4. Choirmaster says:

    Wow! I was mistaken. I thought that the Greek Catholic Divine Liturgy counts as a “catholic rite”, since it is valid, and that it would, indeed, fulfill a Latin’s obligation to assist at a catholic rite on Sunday.

    Is this specifically because it’s the Greek Church, or because they are not in union with Rome, or something technical about their liturgy or theology?

    [We are talking about the Orthodox, not Catholics.]

  5. Cantor says:

    Given that it is permitted by Rome for you to receive, why not ask the Priest at the church you visit if it is permitted in his church? At the very least it might open an interesting dialog and bring you a new friend on your journey!

  6. akp1 says:

    I have read that you must ask permission to receive communion at an Orthodox Church, if permission is given then you may do so.

  7. Fr AJ says:

    Patricius, you may be surprised to learn that the Orthodox are not heretics!

  8. Jeannie_C says:

    Perhaps Patricius was not referring to the Orthodox as heretics but rather to other Christian groups. There are some areas of North America where only Protestant churches exist. Therefore, how would the requirement of worshipping God in natural law be fulfilled and in the context of our Sunday obligation? Are we as Catholics to join in on a Protestant worship service but not receive if they are having their monthly/bi-annual “communion”?

  9. Suburbanbanshee says:

    1. It’s not about Greek Catholics, aka Byzantine Rite.

    2. It’s about Greek Orthodox.

    3. I wasn’t aware that the SSPX broke off several hundred years ago, and therefore mostly is invincibly ignorant of their obligations toward the Pope. Time flies in Econe, I guess.

  10. smad0142 says:

    As a Ukrainian Catholic I have always struggled with the statement that the Orthodox faith is not heretical. I am not talking about the culpability of the average laymen, but rather the actual content of the faith. How can it deny the universal jurisdiction of the Papacy, papal infallibility, and the Filioque, and not be an objectively heretical faith?

  11. Supertradmum says:

    The 1969 North American Greek Orthodox Theological Document stated no
    to intercommunion, also true in Europe

  12. anilwang says:

    onosurf says: “Communion from Greek Orthodox schismatics, ok. Communion from Roman Catholic SSPX, not ok.”

    Correction, communion from Greek Orthodox *when there is no other alternative*, ok.
    Communion from Roman Catholic SSPX, when there is an accessible NO mass in your area, not ok.

    From the CDF’s clarifications on the SSPX it’s my understanding, the SSPX is has the same status as laicized priests. These priest *are* in communion with Rome (by Pope Benedict XVI’s indulgence) and their priesthood is recognized, but Rome has *not* given them the faculties to administer the sacraments since they are not in communion with the local bishop or directly from Rome. So unless there are clarifications I don’t know about, you can treat the SSPX’s sacraments the way you treat the sacraments of laicized priests.

  13. Ignatius says:

    What smad0142 said.

    Though we cannot pass judgment on the individuals, the Eastern Orthodox faith is objectively heretical IF (and only if) it definitively denies, as a matter of dogma, “the universal jurisdiction of the Papacy, papal infallibility, and the Filioque” (and I would add, if it teaches as a dogma “trinitarian energeticism”, but this is a much finer point). However, if they actually teach dogmatically these things is a hotly disputed issue even between the Eastern Orthodox.

    Best regards,

  14. PatriciusOenus says:

    @ AJS
    @Fr. AJ

    I wasn’t talking about Eastern Catholics, but “Orthodox” Christians. I really cannot see why you found my comment “incredibly offensive”. The Orthodox are at best schismatic and at worst heretics (e.g., a bishop in the Orthodox church who teaches faith and morals contrary to those held and taught by the true Church, could be categorized as a heretic; while a simple member of the faithful is recognized as schismatic, since they are not in communion with the universal Catholic Church.)

    @ AJS
    How, exactly, am I not allowed to point out that which has been taught by popes? How, exactly, is it inaccurate? I am sure I do not know everything about this topic, but I believe what I have said above is accurate. If you can demonstrate to the contrary, I will certainly retract my statement.

    I would prefer to know the truth than persist in error, if that is the case.

  15. trad catholic mom says:

    You can receive the antidoron ( leavened blessed bread), which is distributed after divine liturgy is over. It’s blessed but not consecrated. Anyone may partake. I would not present myself for the eucharist though, out of respect for the general rules of the Orthodox Church.

  16. Patricius:

    You may deem the Orthodox to be heretics, but I don’t believe Holy Mother Church does. The provisions in canon 844 would not make much sense if she did.

  17. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    “What about the prohibition on praying with heretics?”

    What prohibition would that be, please?

  18. anilwang says:

    Ignatius says: “the Eastern Orthodox faith is objectively heretical IF (and only if) it definitively denies, as a matter of dogma”

    The Orthodox believe there have been no Ecumenical Councils since the Great Schism and the Orthodox currently don’t know how to have another Ecumenical Councils without the Protos (Bishop of Rome) or how to select one. So officially, they are only in schism not heresy since there is no way for them to make such a definitive dogmatic declaration on these topics. That being said, the sensus fidei of the Orthodox tends to deny those dogmas and “the Spirit of Vatican II” has only hardened their position (and apologetics for new converts) that they are right and “Rome’s apostasy has finally caught up with them” and “eventually Rome will repent and become Orthodox again out of desperation”. This sensus fidei can and has changed over time (e.g. the Filioque is no longer a deal breaker), so there is hope that in time the schism will heal, especially after “the Spirit of Vatican II” has been thoroughly exorcised.

  19. John Scott says:

    Fr. Z, THANK YOU for pointing out with tact and respect that, although licit in certain situations according to Catholic canon law, it may not be licit from the E. Orthodox viewpoint for non-E. Orthodox to partake of Holy Communion. In fact, it most definitely is NOT licit, though there may be individual priests who, perhaps for reasons of economia or some special insight – or more likely, lack of attentiveness, fatigue, and a crush of communicants – may serve to non-Orthodox. Our priests tend to sense who is not Orthodox, however, and usually try to respond with kindness or with a blessing. But not always, sadly, especially if they feel there was an attempt at subterfuge.

    I don’t know how many times I have heard or read Catholic apologists blithely rule on this – that it is perfectly acceptable – with no reference whatsoever to the fact that is by no means acceptable to the Eastern Orthodox. Indeed the Orthodox believe that this can cause real spiritual damage to both those who receive knowing this and, especially therefore, to the Priest who knowingly communes them.

    These apologists are learned people – I can’t imagine they have no idea how the Orthodox view this – which leaves one with the impression that they simply don’t give a rip. You obviously do. Respect, when given in beauty, is an expression of love. And love – Love Himself – is all that can bring us back together someday – an outcome for which I pray fervently. Thank you again – God bless you, Father.

  20. PatriciusOenus says:

    @ Dr. Edward Peters

    Pius XI (1928) in the encyclical Mortalium Animos, “Itaque, Venerabiles Fratres, planum est cur haec Apostolica Sedes numquam siverit suos acatholicorum interesse conventibus: christianorum enim coniunctionem haud aliter foveri licet, quam fovendo dissidentium ad unam veram Christi Ecelesiam reditu, quandoquidem olim ab ea infeliciter descivere.” (‘[the] Apostolic See has never allowed its subjects to take part in the assemblies of non-Catholics. etc.’)

    ‘Infidelium et haereticorum sacris non licet ita interesse, ut eis communicare censearis’, S. Alphonsus Liguori; Theologia Moralis, Lib.5, Tract. 1, Cap. 3.

    Also: Apostolic Canon #54; Council of Carthage; Council of Laodicea; and perhaps most notably here, Session 8 of the 5th Lateran Council

    @ Fr. Martin Fox

    “would not make much sense”


  21. Giuseppe says:

    I agree with Father Z. Out of respect for the Orthodox teaching on communion, I think it would be inappropriate for a Roman Catholic to present himself for communion. One need not communicate every Sunday. If there is a serious need for communion, the Catholic should take it upon himself to meet with the Orthodox priest or deacon before the liturgy so that the priest can make an informed decision about the appropriateness. One would expect the same courtesy if someone from another denomination came to a Roman Catholic service. I have heard stories of several protestant coworkers who presented themselves for communion at a Roman Catholic church, and I wish they had sought out the priest’s counsel prior to this action.*

    *I used Protestants as an example instead of Orthodox, as Orthodox can (from the Catholic Church’s perspective) receive communion at a Catholic mass.

  22. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Still waiting for (a) a prohibition that is currently applicable and which (b) does not confuse “sacris” with “orationibus”, since we, after all, talking about a prohibition against prayers, no?

  23. PatriciusOenus says:

    @ Dr. Edward Peters

    No disrespect, doc. I think the world of you, but you did read the post, right? Divine Liturgy?

  24. chonak says:

    If I understand it right, communicatio in sacris is about receiving sacraments, not just praying or attending a service.

    Eric Sammons has posted on his blog a document which appears to show that Pope St. Pius X permitted some lay faithful to receive holy Communion in Orthodox services:
    http://ericsammons.com/blog/2010/09/27/st-pius-x-tolerated-communicatio-in-sacris-with-the-orthodox/ Very interesting!

  25. johnmann says:

    Would you fulfill your natural law obligation by attending a Protestant service? An inter-faith service?

  26. I have limited time to watch this thread at the moment. I’m turning on the moderation queue.

  27. anilwang says:

    PatriciusOenus and Dr. Edward Peters,

    For the record this article seems to lay out all the documents PatriciusOenus mentioned, some he hasn’t, along with the pastoral indulgences of the Vatican II council:

    I’m not sure it will settle the issue, but it should help bring clarity.

  28. John Woolley says:

    “Out of respect for their law and practices, it would probably be best not to approach to receive Communion.” God reward you for this, Father Zuhlsdorf! Treat others as you would be treated yourself. Don’t tempt our Orthodox priests to do what they’re forbidden to do (by requesting Communion from them), and don’t tempt our laity to do what they’re forbidden to do (by offering them Communion). Let us pray for one another, and love one another, and repent, and trust God to heal our sinful hearts.

    — Deacon John Saturus

  29. OrthodoxLinguist says:

    A few points:

    Fr. Z is correct. We would not allow you, as a Catholic, to receive communion at liturgy, so out of respect, please don’t try to approach. That having been said, you’d be more than welcome to attend, so please do! Greeks are very, very friendly and hospitable and so if you get the chance, also introduce yourself to the priest or some of the parishioners.

    Also, the idea that the filioque is no longer an obstacle to reunion is inaccurate. Since this is a Catholic blog, it is not my intention to enter into a debate over the rights and wrongs of our respective theology, but only to state the Orthodox position.

    We do definitively deny “the universal jurisdiction of the Papacy, papal infallibility, and the Filioque.” The first two points can be seen clearly by our not being in union with the pope. I’m not sure how much more definitive of a denial of universal jurisdiction there could be :-) That, and the excommunication of Pope Vigilius at the 5th Council would also seem to be a clear statement of our position.

    The denial of the filioque can be seen at the Fourth Council of Constantinople, which some Orthodox consider an ecumenical council, but all Orthodox see as being authoritative and binding in its teaching.

    The essence-energies distinction is likewise dogmatic and binding for all Orthodox. I know that the Roman Catholic Church has tended to look askance at this, and tends to reject it, but I’m unaware that that has happened definitively and dogmatically (unless Aquinas’s “Summa” is dogmatic?).

    Please understand… I’m really not saying any of this to debate theology, only to state what we believe.

    Christ is risen!
    Fr. John

  30. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    @PatriciusOenus. Thx, but I repeat, you are not offering citations to laws/regs currently in force. Indeed, some of them you cite, I see, clearly never meant what you seem to think they currently mean. Anyway, check out cc. 908 and 1365 and see whether any canonist reads those norms as prohibiting Catholics from praying with non-Catholics. I know of none who claim that.

  31. chonak says:

    Thanks for turning on the moderation, Father.
    I wish I could go back and edit a comment, because I think I write something mistaken at 2:43 pm — the whole first sentence is probably erroneous.

  32. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Not much other than a life-threatening emergency or the prospect of facing unlivable living conditions, would get me to commit to spending a Saturday evening / Sunday where no Catholic Mass was available.

    So. Evacuation to parts unknown just ahead of a tornado / floor / wildfire? Check. Climbing into a helicopter to assist victims of an accident or disaster, where no Mass will be available? Check. Vacationing? Or attending a destination wedding? Or going on safari, or to soccer camp in remote area over a Sunday? Or any other non-life-or.death reason to be out of range of a Catholic church over a Sunday? I’ve got my GPS, and I will catch up with you bright and early Monday a.m.

  33. teevor says:

    johnmann, I think the answer to your questionis no, or at least the obligation is met as equally well praying in private.

    The obligation in natural law must, I think, be understood in light of the tradition of the Church, where worship is understood to mean attending mass.

    The critical difference between any protestant service and the Orthodox divine liturgy, is that in the latter, as in the mass, the sacrament of the altar is confected and thus God is made truly and substantially present before the congregation. The form and content of worship offered is therefore vastly different than in a protestant service.

    By contrast, the Catholic mass and the Orthodox divine liturgy are substantially the same.

  34. Reginald Pole says:

    In 2001 the Vatican and the Assyrian Church of the East agreed to inter-communion between the Assyrian and the Chaldean Catholic Churches. The fear, on both sides, was due to lack of churches and clergy the faith was suffering, especially in Iran and Iraq.

  35. mamajen says:

    Missing mass is something I tend to be very scrupulous about. To what extent are we responsible for planning trips in such a way that we can fulfill our obligation to attend mass?

  36. Giuseppe says:

    I pray that the Orthodox churches and the Roman Catholic Church may eventually get to the point when they might agree to the following:

    1) There is One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
    2) The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church subsists in the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and the Catholic autonomous particular churches.
    3) The Bishop of Rome (the Pope of Rome), as the historic first among equal patriarchs, is the successor of St. Peter and the de facto head of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
    4) The Bishop of Rome defers jurisdiction over the Orthodox churches to the Orthodox patriarchs.

    Step 3 is hard for Orthodox; Step 4 is hard for Catholics. I see this as the only way to unity. I do think that the differences between Catholicism and Orthodoxy on the nature of the Trinity are much less drastic and much more nuanced than a pure ‘filioque’ debate. And the Orthodox view the Theotokos is actually quite nuanced and very much in line with Roman Catholicism, even if they do not use the words Immaculate Conception and Assumption and insist on them as preconditions for belief. We are 95% together on particulars and 100% on the big picture. We stand to learn from their reverence and traditions. And if we get the Orthodox to agree that the Pope is successor to Peter and the de facto head of the church, I think we could willingly defer the jurisdiction and management of the Orthodox churches to their patriarchs.

    Not quite sure where we stand on the Oriental Orthodox churches.

  37. Agapified says:

    A well-thought and all-around great answer to this question, Father.

  38. Saint1106 says:

    I too have been at weddings of former students, to say a blessing as a Catholic priest, over the years, at Greek orthodox Masses or Divine Liturgies. As a priest at the Mass or Divine Liturgy, clearly not con-celebrating, but wearing a stole and alb, I was told in no uncertain terms that I was not welcome to receive the Eucharist. So be it. It is unfortunate that this is taking place, let us pray for a union of the Western and Eastern churches. This would be a great gift of this pontificate.

  39. Maltese says:

    You might see if there is a Catholic-Orthodox service. I have been to one and received communion on the tongue by a spoon–its chants were beautiful–very Aramaic. But Fr. Z is correct; you only have to receive the Eucharist once a year. Just go and enjoy the ‘second lung’ of the Church as John Paul II eloquently put it!

  40. Fr Jackson says:

    I am watching with great interest, hoping Dr Peters can explain to us the distinctions he is making and why he feels they are applicable.

    I would be interested in having explained to me why the three sources given by PatriciusOenus would not be currently applicable, given, for example, the spirit of canon 21 of CIC83.

  41. Maltese says:

    One last thing, I have a VERY old Icon, covered in Jewels and what not (and cost me a fortune–you can’t get them any more, because I believe the Ukraine has export-restricted them). It is the only religious I pray in front of daily. Beneath the copper and jewels are a very darkly complected, expertly painted, Mother and Child. That is how I see Jesus. Not as a blond-haired, blue-eyed Christ of the protestants!

  42. Maltese says:

    And of course, you pray through an Icon, not TO it, that is why it is covered; it reminds you of the things BEYOND it; that is all.

  43. Cheesesteak Expert says:

    Of course, the issue includes the Popes changing things. For the first 800 years after Christ, the filioque was nowhere to be found in Rome. In fact, one Pope even went so far, when pressured by the Franks, as to have the Creed sans filioque carved in precious metal plates. You may recall that the first liturgies in Rome were in said in Greek, and that the Creed was first promulgated in Greek sans filioque, which is why to this day when the Pope says the Creed in Greek, in Rome, there is no filioque. So, if the hallmark of dogma is by all people, at all times, everywhere, it’s tough to see the filioque as anything but an innovation. Eventually, however and sadly, the Frankish pressure was too great, and a subsequent Pope innovated the Creed and added the Filioque. Mutatis mutandi, not many generations later, a cardinal of Rome was claiming that the Greeks had taken it out. How funny must that have been? Sad, really. So you can see how Orthodox might take a patient posture and let the Latins work out the whole Papal thing, especially as the liturgical reforms of Vatican II were yet another innovation promulgated by the Papacy.

    Or didn’t anyone mention this history to you before? If not, I wonder why.

  44. Subdeacon Ambrose says:

    As an EO I would like to raise a few points, these may help you to understand why we (generally) do not commune those we consider to be heterodox:

    *The major theological differences have been mentioned, so I will not repeat them.
    ** I do not speak for all Orthodox as we are not so well organized that you won’t get something different elsewhere.

    1. Ecclesiology – We view each local Church and parish as the entire Church; this is most visible when gathered around It’s Bishop.

    2. Communion Practices – Receiving the Eucharist is not to be taken lightly and there is no definite expectation that you will receive at your own parish. Just because an Orthodox goes to Church early, makes confession and gets in line does not mean that the Gifts will be given to him. Communion is, more or less, at the discretion of the priest.
    Just visiting another parish is odd, and receiving the Eucharist outside of your parish is a big deal. Normally one calls ahead before visiting and often times you are required to make a confession before the priest will allow you to commune in his parish.

    3. Respect for your beliefs – We do not desire that you perjure yourself. By receiving Sacraments from the Orthodox Church you are accepting the beliefs of the Orthodox Church against the beliefs of your own. If this is done it should be done with great discernment.

    On the other side of this:

    Y’all Latin’s are the only people we seem to have the ability to play nice with.
    It is not unheard of that an Orthodox bishop, as master of his house, would allow a Latin to receive the Eucharist when no Latin Church is available.

    Call ahead of time.

  45. Kate says:

    My question has to do with visiting the Greek island in the first place.

    I would never travel to a place like this because it would put me in a position where I wouldn’t be able to attend Mass at a Catholic church.
    Does a Catholic have an obligation to be in the vicinity of a Catholic church on a Sunday or not?

    I have always thought the “if possible” clause had to do with extreme weather, sickness, or mission work, not a vacation. Am I being too strict? Should I start booking that exotic vacation now?

  46. CharlesG says:

    @AJS: “You are not allowed to refer to the Orthodox, Eastern or Oriental, as heretics.”

    Perhaps true for Eastern Orthodox, who although schismatics who do not recognize the jurisdiction of the Pope (although they recognize in some sense a primacy of honor of the Bishop of Rome as first among equals among the Patriarchs), are nevertheless essentially orthodox in doctrine, although the dogmatic interpretative details are not quite as developed as in the Roman magisterium. However, aren’t the “Oriental Orthodox Churches”, like the Coptic or Armenian churches, Monophysites, which would be against the dogma of the Council of Chalcedon and hence heretical?

  47. Jon says:

    How about “Long Island without a Catholic church on Sunday?”

    Fortunately for me, I live in Pennsylvania and am able to attend an FSSP parish. Unfortunately for me, I sometimes have to visit the mother-in-law who lives on Long Island.

    Any of you familiar with the Diocese of Rockville Centre are aware its a liturgical post-nuclear wasteland. So, while visiting Mom I can go to a “valid” Novus Ordo with little altar girls arrayed side by side with the priest, elevating their own Host at the Agnus Dei like minature bath-robed Katherine Jefferts Schori’s, or I can go 8 minutes up the road to the SSPX and attend Holy Mass in the identical manner to which I’m accustomed, with people who believe no more or no less than Catholics have believed for 1,962 years.

    As I am in debatable communion with the former, I feel no qualms whatsoever in receiving Communion from the latter.

    As for the Orthodox, they’re even closer. Should the Society pull up stakes, while I wouldn’t take the Eastern prosphoron, I’d have absolutely zero problem fulfilling my Sunday obligation there as opposed to the sacrilegious alternative.

  48. dawnmaria says:

    I love the Orthodox so much! I’ve read Fr Alexander Schmemann and Fr Thomas Hopko. Their writings are so apt and speak to my heart. Particularly, their writings on the Eucharist and on heaven and hell. They are not afraid to state the orthodox truth even though it is far from PC! God bless them and may God grant unity amongst the right and left lungs of the Church.

  49. Woody says:

    I was on a cruise, at my wife’s request, a couple of years ago, with no priest on board, and we were at sea all day Sunday, also without opportunity to find a vigil Mass on Saturday, so I just prayed a dry TLM myself; some other Catholics even more Trad than I prayed Prime, Sext and Compline (from the SSPX Divinum Officium book) or meditated on the readings in Gueranger. Upon my return I went to confession to a conservative Novus Ordo priest, as is my custom, and he advised that I should avoid getting myself into these situations. Since I had confessed it as a sin, and he did not tell me otherwise, I presume that he considered it sinful that I had consented to this trip, knowing, as I think I did, that this would happen. I now wonder, however, if the principle of double effect would work to render me inculpable, on the ground that my intention was to please my wife, who is not Catholic and has a hard time understanding this kind of thing.

  50. Pingback: Debating Desire - Big Pulpit

  51. Nan says:

    Do you know the difference between Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Rite Catholics? One has a picture of the pope next to that of their bishop, the other doesn’t. I can go to my Church and go to the Orthodox Cathedral a mile away and will find the same liturgy and people who are related to one another. Both buildings have engraved on the cornerstone ‘Greek-Catholic Church’ as the Cathedral was intended to be Catholic.

    I’m told that the Orthodox require confession before receiving communion; if the priest doesn’t know you and that you have made confession, you’re not going to receive. Because confession is face to face, the priest knows whether you’ve confessed. Orthodox tradition requires some sort of ecclesiastic permission slip to receive in another jurisdiction, to show that they’re in good standing with their local Church, so the Orthodox may attend Divine Liturgy but not present themselves to receive as it’s complicated. Because the Orthodox have different traditions and don’t have the widespread number of parishes that Catholics have, they pray certain prayers when unable to attend Divine Liturgy. Individuals may receive Communion in the Catholic Church without letting their bishop know they do so; I’ve seen Orthodox receive and have also been told by others that they do so.

    RE: person asking question, I hope you do attend the Divine Liturgy. It’s beautiful.

  52. cwillia1 says:

    Interestingly, the canon law of the eastern churches does not specify that the sunday obligation must be fulfilled in a “catholic rite” (canon 881). The text could be interpreted as requiring attendance at Greek Orthodox services in the situation described in the inquiry. For some of us, the obligation can be met by attendance at vespers on saturday evening.

    An Orthodox priest might refuse to commune anyone he does not know personally and believe to be adequately prepared. So an Orthodox might not present himself for communion in this situation. I, as a Catholic, would not take the antidoron unless it was offered to me because attitudes about this among the Orthodox vary.

  53. AV8R61 says:

    Being married to an Orthodox woman, here are two cents:
    If you are going to ask the priest beforehand, make sure you have your thick skin on. Some priests will be very gracious, but (especially in Greece, I conjecture) you might receive a tirade about the many heresies and failings of the Roman Church. Alas, the Roman Church has given them plenty to talk about. The possibility of such a response might sour the experience of the Divine Liturgy, which is beautiful. Personally, I would not ask, and most likely not present myself for Holy Communion. Another consideration is that their fasting and confession requirements are totally different. If you were to receive and respect all their rules, you would need to learn a lot prior to that day.

    I don’t believe the Orthodox “universally” reject all Papal authority. They do recognize him as the Patriarch of the Western Church. Also, I believe “schism” has been lifted both by the Popes and the Patriarch of Constaninople.

  54. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Hi folks. As everyone knows, it takes far more time to correct errors than to make them. A post above asserts that the Church forbids Catholics from praying with non-Catholics. Thus, e.g., when my Lutheran cousins come from afar for a visit, we supposedly cannot pray together to ask God’s protection on them during their drive home. That is rank nonsense, but it is exactly what is demanded by the assertion above. Now, I have pointed to the only two (that I know of) relevant canons on the topic today, and strongly suggested that not one canonist of name reads than as forbidding Catholics from praying with non-Catholics. Everything else so far is either plainly misunderstood (I gave one example of confusion above already) or has been eclipsed by codification. Sorry if I don’t have time to walk thru every historical example of this matter. I responded accurately to what was stated, and what was stated, as opposed to what some apparently thought was stated, was simply wrong.

    I need hardly add, Fr.Z’s post reads right to me.

  55. Ignatius says:

    @OrthodoxLinguist says:

    “The essence-energies distinction is likewise dogmatic and binding for all Orthodox. I know that the Roman Catholic Church has tended to look askance at this, and tends to reject it, but I’m unaware that that has happened definitively and dogmatically (unless Aquinas’s “Summa” is dogmatic?)”

    I do not know how is it that you can say that this is a dogmatic definition by the Orthodox, since no valid council (from your perspective) states that this is to be believed and definitively held.

    The Latin Church has never said anything about the “energeticism” as it is taught today by the Orthodox. But in itself, it is logically self defeating.

    Best regards,

  56. Suburbanbanshee says:

    If you’re traveling somewhere there’s no Mass on Sat/Sun, you’re usually dispensed from the obligation. You can even ask formally from your pastor before your trip, but generally it’s not a big deal. Travel happens.

    Catholics are not obliged to not travel to places where there’s no Mass, whether it be for business or pleasure. Marco Polo had a hard time finding Mass along the Silk Road; that didn’t mean it was a sin to go. Likewise, it would not be a sin for a Catholic astronaut to be on the Moon or Mars or the ISS on Sunday, instead of being at home in the pew.

    You’re allowed to plan trips to places that don’t have Masses, or on modes of transportation that make it iffy that you’ll get back on time, or in parts of the country where you’re not absolutely sure that the webpage for the parish isn’t lying. Now, you are obliged to make a good try, as far as is humanly possible and safe. It’s laudable if you can always figure out a way to go to Mass. I sure as heck do my possible, as my family always did, and I think I’ve only missed Mass once or twice in all my vacations.

    Being unable to go to Mass because of travel is a hardship. It’s not a sin. The only way it could be a sin is if you said to yourself, “Yep, I want to skip Mass for the next month, so I’m heading out to the Gobi Desert in order to be able to avoid my Mass obligation.” And if that’s the case, you’re probably already skipping Mass at home.

  57. priests wife says:

    Thank you Fr Z for your balanced approach. As a Byzantine Catholic, I pray for miracles- forgiveness and unity. While I can be angry with Orthodoxy, being a state religion sometimes complicit with communist governments, refusing to give back Catholic churches, etc- I know that my call is to pray for healing and unity.

  58. Father G says:

    You did not mention specifically the name of the Greek island.
    Which island is it?

  59. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: not praying with heretics, I think people are thinking about situations like that of the Recusant Catholics in England. It was their discipline not to pray with Anglicans, because they were fighting the idea that there wasn’t any difference between going to an Anglican service versus going to a Catholic Mass. There was a lot going on, so it was simpler to draw a line and refuse to pray even the Our Father with Anglicans. However, Catholics on the scaffold were voluble in inviting ex-Catholics to pray with and for them.

    We aren’t living in a time with the same disciplines. We don’t do Lent the same way the Recusants did, and (thank God) we don’t have to go to hidden churches the way they did. But we should be obedient to our Church’s disciplines and liberties just as they were, even though what the Church permits one isn’t what she permitted the other.

  60. RobertK says:

    Thanks Father.

    This was one of the most memorable events I will always remember from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s pontificate. The meeting of the the two halves of the Christian Roman Empire. Some Catholics as well as Orthodox Christians seem to forget that fact!. The “Pentarchy” (Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Constantinople). If you really want to get technical, the last Roman Emperor was from Constantinople, the last capital of the Rome Empire. So Eastern Orthodox/Greek Catholics are technically “Roman” Christians as well. The Age of the Early Church Fathers.

  61. rtjl says:

    A very worthwhile read on the subject of the division and hope for reconciliation between the Catholic and Orthodox churches is THIS.

    It examines the issue from an Orthodox perspective. Any Catholic who wishes to give the Orthodox viewpoint a sympathetic hearing would do well to read this volume.

    I long for the day when the breach between our churches is healed and we Catholics can benefit fully from all of the spiritual riches of our Eastern brothers and sisters – or better yet – as put by a recent Pope – the day when the Church can once again breath with both lungs.

  62. RobertK says:

    I also enjoyed the meeting between the Sees of Rome and Alexandria that just recently took place between Pope Francis and Pope Tawadros II (Coptic). The meetings between the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox/Oriental Orthodox churches far out way in historical importance any meetings that ever took place between Catholic and Protestant Churches. Three Popes in Rome, if you include Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Historical!!


  63. modestinus says:

    I was hoping to get into this thread sooner, particularly given all of the confused thinking and incomplete ideas that have been promoted in it, but alas time has not afforded me that luxury. Because this isn’t my own blog and I don’t want to take up too much space, I will force myself to be brief while noting that the only “authority” by which I speak is that I was raised an Eastern Catholic in a Melkite, then Ukrainian, parish and spent seven years in the Orthodox Church. I am now, however, back in the fold of Rome.

    The history of Orthodox/Catholic relations, both in the traditional lands of the Orthodox and, since the 19th C. at least, in the West, is fraught with so many twists, turns, forks, setbacks, progress, etc. that it is almost impossible to summarize what, in fact, is the Catholic attitude toward the Orthodox and vice versa. Some traditionalist Catholics take a surprisingly narrow view of Rome’s attitude of the Orthodox by treating the ecumenical developments after the Second Vatican Council as some sort of wild novelty. They would have others believe that prior to the 1960s, Rome’s attitude toward the East was not terribly different than its longstanding attitude toward the various Protestant confessions. Such assertions are false and lack a clear understanding of post-Schism East/West relations. The Catholic Church, even prior to Vatican II, has never used the “h-word” with respect to the Orthodox despite a fairly consistent charge coming from the East that Catholicism has fallen into all sorts of heresies. But the myopia and wrongheadedness of certain Orthodox prelates and theologians should not serve as an invitation for Catholics to descend into the fever swamp of childish polemics. Without ignoring the fact that there are some undeniably sticky theological and ecclesial issues to be worked out on both sides, “heresy” among the Orthodox is not one of them. (I will note, however, that there are some segments of the Orthodox Church which hold to views that could be interpreted as heretical, though in all fairness there are even larger segments of Orthodoxy who would agree in an instant with Catholics about the problematic status of such positions.)

    As for Catholics communing with the Orthodox, it’s essentially an impossibility as far as a vast majority of the Orthodox Church is concerned. Because of historical ties and social realities, there are pockets of the world where Catholics and Orthodox do intercommune (e.g., Melkites and Antiochians in Syria) and others where both sides will, from time to time, turn a blind eye toward the practice (e.g., Romania), but I can assure you that there are many Orthodox who find such acts a cause for scandal and thus invest a great deal of energy denouncing them. This matter is complicated further by the fact that there are segments of the Orthodox Church which, sadly, will not intercommune with others because of disputes over governance and, occasionally, doctrine. There are notable segments of the Orthodox Church which do not even believe that Catholics have received valid Baptisms. For instance, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), which only reestablished full communion with the Moscow Patriarchate in 2007 after nearly a century of rupture, still rebaptizes Catholic converts. ROCOR even recently re-ordained a former Catholic priest, Al Kimmel, despite the fact the Moscow Patriarch — ROCOR’s mother church — has long maintained the practice of not rebaptizing Catholics and receiving Catholic clergy not by re-ordination (which Moscow rightly views as a sacramental impossibility) but instead through vesting (i.e., the ceremony which takes place for newly ordained clergy during the Divine Liturgy). So if you think you’re going to find a consistent attitude among the Orthodox toward Catholics, think again.

    With all of that said, it’s important to keep in mind that a great deal of Orthodox antipathy toward Catholicism is cultural. The recent upheavals in Greece has reignited a great deal of nationalist fervor and, with it, a new round of open hostility toward all things Western. From what I understand, Russia has, in recent years, relaxed its attitude toward Russian Catholics and most Russian Orthodox I know couldn’t care less about Catholic/Orthodox polemics. Ironically, however, Orthodox living in the West, including the United States, tend to display an almost pathological disdain for Catholicism. Orthodox converts, many of whom come from Protestant backgrounds, have no qualms about redeploying shopworn Protestant objections to the Papacy and Catholic spirituality in the service of Orthodoxy. What they often fail to appreciate, however, is how quickly those charges can be turned back against most of the Orthodox living in the world. But you also have to keep in mind the cultural inferiority complex that exists among (Western/American) Orthodox. There are less Orthodox in the U.S. today than there was 30 years ago. A recent academic study estimated that there are only about a million Orthodox Christians in the U.S. — that’s roughly the size of the Catholic Diocese of Chicago.

  64. RobertK says:

    Being able to attend a Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Form, Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, and a Coptic Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, all in the same month would be one of the best historical “Liturgical” Retreats anyone could ever ask for. We can only dream of such beauty!.

  65. RobertK says:

    A long video, but definately worth sharing. Coptic Divine Liturgy of the Nativity
    Egypt 2012 with Pope Tawadros II


  66. RoyceReed says:


    If I had to choose between the two, I know which one I’d take.

  67. smad0142 says:

    @Cheesesteak Expert

    Sure the Filioque (properly understood as taught by the Church and not as construed by polemicists) may not have been a part of the universally used Creed from its inception but to claim that thereby it is an impermissible development is fallacious (such an assertion also ignores the many instances of the Filioque derived from Scripture, other localized uses of the Creed, and writings from the Fathers). By that standard of antiquarianism I could argue that the Patriarchates are an impermissible innovation because they do not belong to the Apostolic Age and therefore are an egregious addition to the hierarchy of the Church as Christ gave it to us. Your comment appears to conflate the development of doctrine, which refers to our deeper understanding of doctrine over time, with the notion of doctrinal innovation, which would be the invention of altogether new doctrine; such a conflation is fallacious.

    But while I am on the topic of doctrinal innovation I would like to hear your thoughts on two quotes from St. John Chrysostom:

    “When the word says, ‘This is My Body,’ be convinced of it and believe it…” –“Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew” [82,4] 370 A.D.

    “The priest standing there in the place of Christ says these words but their power and grace are from God. ‘This is My Body,’ he says, and these words transform what lies before him.”
    -“Homilies on the Treachery of Judas” 1,6; d. 407 A.D

    Now from these quotes does it appear to you that the Father of the Divine Liturgy believes in the necessity of the Epiklesis for Consecration as most Orthodox theologians have claimed for the last several centuries?

    And if he does not believe such a thing then I ask you: “Or didn’t anyone mention this history to you before? If not, I wonder why.”

  68. johnmann says:

    teevor, the natural law obligation cannot be to attend Mass. It would stand to reason that one could fulfill his natural law obligation by attending a Protestant or inter-faith service. Given the choice, maybe one should prefer an Orthodox Liturgy over a Protestant or inter-faith service because of the Real Presence but it may be nothing more than a preference since in a situation with no licit Mass, there is no obligation to worship in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.

  69. Andrew says:

    Perhaps a solution to the question of non-participation by Catholics at non-Catholic publicly held religious ceremonies might be provided by saying that this is a disciplinary issue and the former prohibition has been somewhat relaxed since there are now official ecclesiastical documents that permit, under certain circumstances, a Catholic to participate at non Catholic liturgies.

    For my part, I still don’t know if I, a Roman rite Catholic, can fulfill my Sunday obligation by participation at a non Roman rite Catholic liturgy, when there is no hardship on my part to attend a Roman rite liturgy. Some people seem to feel that this is entirely up to each individuals’ whim. Is it?

  70. OrthodoxChick says:

    Is there any chance that Pope Francis could call a Council to reconcile the Eastern and Western churches in a way that we end up with the present O.F. becoming a new, reconciled Eastern Rite and the E.F. remaining our traditional Latin Rite? That would really be something to behold.

  71. Cheesesteak Expert says:

    smad0142 , what dogma does not come to us from the Apostolic Age which is also not a part of the eternal deposit of faith? A Patriarch is first a bishop, and a bishop who holds the identical faith which the Apostles proclaimed is an heir to the Apostles. Notice that it is not location which is a determinant, but fidelity to that which was received from the Apostles, no more and no less. You’re trying to defend the Papal ukase of the filioque as a worthy innovation because it can be lumped, like all Papal claims, under the notion of the development of doctrine. Why Westerners insist on swallowing whole this pernicious concept of the development of doctrine is perplexing. It is so susceptible to hubris (we know, or “understand deeper” that which eluded our dim-witted ancestors), and error. “We the reigning authority say it so, simply because we have the authority to say it is so. Oh, and if a subsequent reigning authority changes what we have said, you have take their word for it, and forget what we said.” Or do you think Pope Pius V really didn’t mean what he said about the Roman Rite of his day. Give me instead St. Vincent of Lerins and his formula of, “what was believed by everyone, at all times, everywhere.” That would have saved you from Bugnini, at a minimum.

  72. smad0142 says:

    @Cheesesteak Expert

    1. Where did I deny that all dogmas come from the Apostolic Age?

    2. Your attempt to conflate the Patriarchates with the Episcopacy is absurd. The Patriarchates are ecclesiastical honorifics invented in the 4th century; that is an indisputable fact. So why then did we let this human invention become a part of the hierarchy of Christ’s Church?

    2a. But perhaps my objections to your reasoning are not clear enough so here is another example. You deplore the fact that anything was added to the Niceno–Constantinopolitan Creed. The only logical assumption for such a position would be that the Niceo-Constantinoplitan Creed was already the complete and full exposition of the Faith and therefore lacked nothing. But for some reason those, to quote you, “dim-witted ancestors” of ours had at least 5 Ecumencial Councils after that Creed was written to address issues such as Iconoclasm at the Second Council of Nicea; this council may sound familiar to you since it is the basis for the very feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy on the first Sunday of Great Lent. Either the Creed is the perfect and complete expression of the Faith and therefore nothing can be added to it OR the Creed is a completely orthodox statement of Faith that does not necessarily exhaust or explain the full treasury of the Faith which the whole Church is called to be meditate upon under the infallible guidance of the Living Authority Christ gave us in the Hierarchy of His Church.

    3. You’re charge that the Filioque is an invention due to Frankish pressure 8 centuries after Christ completely denies a great variety of Scriptural, creedal, and Patristic sources that support the Catholic understanding of the Filioque well before the 8th century.

    4. The development of doctrine never occurs: we did not come to a better understanding as a Church regarding the Divinity of Christ after Nicea, the Motherhood of the Theotokos after Ephesus, or the Nature of Christ after Chalcedon.

    5. You did not at all address the 18th century invention of the necessity of the Epiklesis for the Consecration, which is a doctrine at direct odds with the teaching of St. John Chrysostom, the author of the Divine Liturgy.

    The only attempt you made to address my points was the specious conflation of the Patriarchate with the Episcopate; the rest of your comment was a string of assertions made without providing any evidence for such assertions. Fr. Z’s comment thread is not the place for such a debate, especially when no attempt is made to have a serious dialogue based on the exchange of points and counterpoints built on evidence. There are forums where such debate is encouraged though. One which I can personally recommend with a robust Eastern Catholicism section is Catholic Answers Forum where much Orthodox/Catholic debate takes place.

  73. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    I understand and agree that the Church has never prohibited from travel to places in which no Catholic Mass is available come next Sunday. Exploratory expeditions from those of Marco Polo and to NASA’s are good examples.

    I would think, however, that most Catholics would sorely miss attending Sunday Mass and receiving the Lord in the Eucharist, that the prospect of doing so would represent a profound hardship and a sacrifice for us, and one not willingly undertaken except for some extraordinarily important reason, and not without diligent efforts to make use of modern-day transportation and information technologies that would enable a Catholic to make a detour to a region where Sunday Mass is available.

    I could put up with hardships like living on nothing but reconstituted, freeze-dried food, and drinking my own recycled, purified bathwater, or sleeping on coconut matting for several weeks, if I had a dashed good reason. But to forego my Sunday Eucharist, I’d need an even better one.

  74. Jeanette says:

    Cheesesteak Expert – the Filioque is hardly an innovation. It was reasonably and licitly added to the Nicene Creed “for the sake of declaring the truth and imminent need” according to the Holy Father Eugenius IV in his Definition of the Holy Oecumenical Synod of Florence. However, it was always a part of the fourth century Athanasian Creed (“The Holy Ghost is of the Father, and of the Son neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.”).

    Two Oecumenical Councils established Greek and Latin agreement upon the orthodoxy of the Filioque: Basel-Ferrara-Florence and II Lyon.

    II Lyon: “We profess faithfully and devotedly that the holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son, not as from two principles, but as from one principle; not by two spirations, but by one single spiration. This the Holy Roman church, mother and mistress of all the faithful, has till now professed, preached and taught; this she firmly holds, preaches, professes and teaches; this is the unchangeable and true belief of the orthodox fathers and doctors, Latin and Greek alike. But because some, on account of ignorance of the said indisputable truth, have fallen into various errors, we, wishing to close the way to such errors, with the approval of the sacred council, condemn and reprove all who presume to deny that the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son, or rashly to assert that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son as from two principles and not as from one.”

    Basel-Ferrara-Florence: “Texts were produced from Divine Scriptures and many authorities of eastern and western Holy Doctors, some saying the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, others saying the procession is from the Father through the Son. All were aiming at the same meaning in different words. The Greeks asserted that when they claim that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, they do not intend to exclude the Son; but because it seemed to them that the Latins assert that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son as from two principles and two spirations, they refrained from saying that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. The Latins asserted that they say the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son not with the intention of excluding the Father from being the source and principle of all deity, that is of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, nor to imply that the Son does not receive from the Father, because the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son, nor that they posit two principles or two spirations; but they assert that there is only one principle and a single spiration of the Holy Spirit, as they have asserted hitherto. Since, then, one and the same meaning resulted from all this, they unanimously agreed and consented to the following holy and God-pleasing union, in the same sense and with one mind.”

    The Filioque is part of the divine deposit; it is information on the invisible life of the Holy Trinity. It is part of what was originally received and taught by the Apostles, otherwise there is no possible way we could know it.

    Pope St. Leo’s caution against singing the Filioque in the Credo at Holy Mass to the Carolingians and his personal prohibition of it in Rome were matters of prudential judgment, not teaching.

  75. Giuseppe says:

    @OrthodoxChick – I agree that Pope Francis (who is one of our most fluent popes in the language of Orthodox Christianity) can lead us to a full reconciliation with our Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox brothers and sisters. He builds upon the legacy left by his brother popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. I posted my thoughts above re. how such a unification might occur, and it would require humility on the Roman, Eastern, and Oriental flanks.

    Re. the various forms of liturgy, I would eschew creation of a new liturgical rite and instead emphaize the historical nature of some the most beautiful rites of the respective churches. I’d accept a larger number of rites, with the proviso that they will not be changed (or minimally changed at best) over the creation of a new liturgical form.

  76. PatriciusOenus says:

    @ Nan
    Of course I know the difference. What did I say that gave you the impression that I didn’t know the difference between Eastern/Byzantine Catholics and Orthodox? I’m sorry if my language suggested otherwise.

    @ Cheesecake Expert


    @ Fr. Jackson (FSSP?)
    Thank you… I would like that explanation also.

    @ AJS
    Did I miss your reply?

  77. Fr Jackson says:

    Dear Dr Peters,
    Instead of refuting a straw man argument and telling us how little we poor chaps comprehend, let’s talk turkey. A poster above mis-worded something and you found the wording objectionable, fine. But instead of focusing on that, let’s get down to the real issues. You gave us no arguments, see? I suppose that many others, as I, are sincerely interested. But you are just asking us to take your word for it.
    I come away from this discussion with the same impression as a previous one: that somehow your expertise in canon law eclipses the balance that ought to exist between theology and the law. we must never forget that the latter is at the service of the former.

  78. OrthodoxLinguist says:

    “I do not know how is it that you can say that this is a dogmatic definition by the Orthodox, since no valid council (from your perspective) states that this is to be believed and definitively held.”

    Where did you hear that? Yes, there has been a valid council, recognized by all Orthodox, that definitively upholds the teachings of St. Gregory Palamas. The Fifth Council of Constantinople.

    “But in itself, it is logically self defeating.”

    I’m not going to debate doctrine here, as this isn’t the forum for that. I would recommend, however, giving the Triads a good read.

    Christ is risen!
    Fr. John

  79. Cheesesteak Expert says:

    @smado142: First, thank you for your courteous responses and tone. Further, I can’t thank Fr. Z enough for giving us this space to exchange. This is stuff worth discussing, and I appreciate the opportunity.

    1. You introduced the Apostolic Age earlier to say that (and pls correct me if I misinterpret) there are, from the RC point of view, dogmatic beliefs which are not entirely traceable to the Apostles. At least, by claiming that I insisted on a hyper-antiquarian approach to dogma, you thought to reveal a flaw in my reasoning because clearly the concept of a Patriarchate is not part of the Apostolic age. In response, let me re-affirm that Orthodox are bound first and foremost to the bishop as the center of the eucharistic community; and that the degree to which Patriarchates and other such structures are derivative of and re-enforce that principal, we are bound to them. The Church has divine order, it is hierarchical as per our Lord’s directive, and so has the power and mandate to establish good order. That is why they came into being, taking the current culture and sanctifying it. You may recall that the term diocese was a pagan Roman administrative district. Further, if a Patriarchate should wither away and die, that is no big deal; but to deny the essential role of the bishop is.
    The understanding of the episcopacy is a big differentiator between OCs and RCs; you know that a critique of modern RC ecclesiology, by even many RCs, is that the legacy of ultramontanism, which still dominates, reduces the role of the ordinary to merely an agent or extension of the Bishop of Rome by virtue of Vatican I and II and their papal claims of universal jurisdiction. And this is proven by the case of Arch. Lefebvre, who was told directly by a Pope that he Lefebvre had no authority to interpret the council apart from what he the Pope said. Ergo, the loss – or at best dilution – of the western liturgical patrimony can be laid fully at the feet of ultramontanism.

    2. This hyper-centralization of power in the Papacy, which trajectory dominated the second millenium for the West as the Papacy no longer had its natural checks and balances in the other old Churches of the East, began when the Popes changed the practice of their forefathers by introducing the filioque. Yes, it was all well and good for a local council in Spain to use it to fight Arianism, but the issue became disruptive to the good order of the Catholic Church when the Church of Rome declared via ukase that it must be used by the entire Catholic Church – in direct defiance of the expressed wishes of both earlier Popes and numerous Oecumencial Councils of the first millenium. To this day, a reigning Pope can pretty much run roughshod over anything a previous Pope or council may have declared otherwise, and it is for this reason that such liturgical chaos exists in the West today.
    3. The doctrine of development is the Great Enabler of this hyper-papalism; it only came to the fore in the modern era, and is still used as a pretty flimsy excuse to justify the hyper-centralization of the Papacy. It’s great advocate, Newman, admitted as much to Gladstone when he Newman was reduced to some weird notion that logically, God “had” to have left on earth an ultimate authority, so it might was well be the Papacy.
    4. Further, just because a Council formally declares a doctrine does not mean the Church didn’t know about or profess that doctrine before the Council. (the notion means the Church makes it up as it goes along, which of course nobody would ever accept). The Sunday of Orthodoxy marks the final victory over the generations-long fight with the iconoclasts, not the discovery of icons. First Nicea proclaimed what the Church had always believed about the divinity of Christ by rejecting the heresy of Arianism. Notice that the councils are called to defend the faith from innovation, much like a body will fight and expunge a virus. In contrast, like the progressive movement, a sister movement of the modern Papacy, the Papacy is a much more pro-active force for change, indeed making things up as it goes along. And this modus operandus of the Papacy reached its apogee with Vatican I and II, and is manifested by the liturgical chaos promulgated by the Papacy.
    4. I don’t see a contrast the way you do. Orthodox have long considered the ancient rite of the Church of Rome, now called by Latins as the Extraordinary Rite, to be among the most venerable, most ancient, and most beautiful, including – if not most especially – the Canon with the angelic participation in its rising Epiklesis. As distasteful as Papal ukases have been viewed by Orthodox, the Protestant movements, spawn of the Papal claims, are downright poison, and so the modern Orthodox theologians you reference were not undermining the Golden Mouth, but were rising up with the Epiklesis to defend the integrity of the Real Presence (what we call the Holy Mysteries), as they saw Protestant thought so widely embraced. Perhaps if the West had been take a similar approach (instead of the one taken with Vatican II), there would be now as great an appreciation for the Real Presence in the West as in the East.

    @Jeanette, mute points. Those councils are simply not accepted in the East. Local councils at best, robber councils more probably.

  80. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Marion Ancilla Mariae,

    I agree that most Catholics would sorely miss attending the Sunday Mass and receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist (though, but this is a parenthesis, as to the latter, I can imagine a Catholic, though not myself, to prefer a “most of time merely spiritual reception, sometimes sacramental reception with specially good preparation” approach).

    Yet I somewhat fail to see how this feeling, pious as it is, is important here… except if you are attempting to set up as additional moral precept what, as you say yourself, is no moral precept (“the Church has never prohibited”). This impression of mine is somewhat underlined by the fact that you claim you would need a reason for doing this as good as for enduring such and such hardships, etc.

    All this were quite right if it was about not committing a sin. Yet it certainly seems that we are talking about recognized exceptions to the Sunday precept, and hence, not about sins. If in doubt, there’s manuals of moral theology, and above all the power of the parish priest to grant dispensations (nor is it sinful to apply for one).

    We are, consequently, talking about something that really does belong to the Christian freedom, and in this area we had better not set up any emotional moralizing.

  81. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    This has been very interesting!

    How could one best learn more about the background to, and interpretation of, can. 844 §2 (online, if possible)?

    Does it, for example, presuppose – and endorse – an unaparalleled (in ‘Latin’ and ‘Eastern Catholic’, etc., terms) discretionary freedom on the part of an Orthodox Celebrant (Bishop or Priest)?

    Does it indeed leave the matter moot as to whether the communicant can simply attempt to avail himself of its provisions without prior consultation with the Orthodox Celebrant (or anyone formally responsible locally)?

    Among the comments on Fr. Z’s 11 May post about “People who walk away with Hosts” ,
    pelerine wrote of “One of the great European Cathedrals in which many tourists mingle with the faithful” having “written in their weekly bulletin in several languages” what seemed insufficiently clear notices about who may receive, and added, “Someone once told me she always receives Communion when in France although she is a nominal Church of England.”

    How is the thinking of this canonical provision with respect to the Orthodox different from that of such an Anglican to the Catholic?

  82. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Cheesesteak Expert, responding to Jeanette with repect to “Basel-Ferrara-Florence and II Lyon”, notes, “Those councils are simply not accepted in the East.” I would welcome any recommendations of good accounts (if possible, available online) of the details of why that is so.

    Looking at Jeanette’s citations, Basel-Ferrara-Florence is quoted as including, “The Latins asserted that they say the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son not with the intention of excluding the Father from being the source and principle of all deity, that is of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, nor to imply that the Son does not receive from the Father, […] nor that they posit two principles or two spirations; but they assert that there is only one principle and a single spiration of the Holy Spirit, as they have asserted hitherto.”

    Are the doctrinal details of this (as I quote it) not something with which all Orthodox would agree? What I have omitted in quoting, is the phrase “because the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son”.

    Jeanette’s quotation from II Lyon begins, ” “We profess faithfully and devotedly that the holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son, not as from two principles, but as from one principle”. This presumably informs the later Council’s “because the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son”. But what does it mean? Upon what basis, by what reasoning, is it asserted that One Divine Person can proceed or spirate from the distinct Divine Persons of Father and Son “as from one principle”? The Son filiates from the One Person of the Father “as from one principle”, but the Holy Spirit spirates from Two Persons “not as from two principles, but as from one principle”? Why? How? There must be an apologetic connected with this promulgation, but what is it?

    With respect to Jeanette’s reference to the “Athanasian Creed”, I note that in the first edition of The Orthodox Church (1963), Timothy Ware (now, Metropolitan Kallistos) writes that it “is not used in Orthodox worship, but it is sometimes printed (without the filioque) in the Greek Horologion (Book of Hours).”

    In contrast to anilwang (23 May 2013 at 1:31 pm ), Dr. Ware also wrote, “Claiming as it does to be the one true Church, the Orthodox Church also believes that, if it so desired, it could by itself convene and hold another Ecumenical Council, equal in authority to the first seven. Since the separation of east and west the Orthodox (unlike the west) have never in fact chosen to summon such a Council; but this does not mean that they believe themselves to lack the power to do so.” (I do not know if this passage was ever revised in later editions.)

  83. Fr Jackson says:

    For the record, canon 844 of CIC83 is clearly one of the canons the SSPX has trouble with – so, there is at least one point of relevance of the earlier post about Mortalium Animos and the continuity (or not) of the theological and legal provisions of it.

  84. Imrahil says:

    Dear @johnmann and @teevor,

    I sincerely doubt that the natural law, in itself, obliges to Holy Mass, and that for two reasons. First, whether natural law (i.e., the thing properly to be called such), though it obliges to gratitude to God, obliges to any given specific amount of worship, is rather doubtable, certainly it does not oblige to singling out a certain day of the week, or having holy times. Not denying what seems to be a general human tendency to do so, there is no proof on natural grounds of it I am aware of, so in law this seems to be Divine strictly-positive law.

    (There seems to be a tendency to call anything which is not human law “natural law”. Mostly this is justified in practical effect even if not in theoretical concept, but it is, here, also a practical distinction.)

    Second, if I’m correctly informed the Eastern rite faithful can fulfil their obligation by hearing the Lauds; and it is unthinkable that the positive Church law allows to do less than the Divine obligation.

    Nevertheless – I say it in all my Western rite patriotism – I cannot of course think anything but that the final Christian sense of the holiday precept is, of course, Mass participation, even though the Easterners, for reason of valuing the Divine Liturgy by having a very elaborate rite of it which they think would be, as a sundaily obligation, overburdensome, do not have this obligation. [A Westerner, while he can fulfil his obligation in the Catholic Eastern rite Divine Liturgy of course, is, in my reading, not able to substitute the Lauds.]

    Now for the answer of the question… and always assuming that there is sufficient excuse from fulfilling the actually existing obligation of Church law…

    an inter-faith service in the strict sense, even if defensible would not suffice. (That’s an instinct.) An inter-denomination Christian service would suffice, if it is an expression of ecumenism as approved by the Church; if it is an expression of bashing-the-Church-for-being-so-incomprehensibly-sectarian (something often running under “ecumenism”), I have my doubts. I grant that the slope is slippery, because false-ecumenism is one thing, and ecumenism done by people personally convinced of false-ecumenism quite another.

    Personally, I’d by instinct prefer an Orthodox Mass over an inter-faith service. If I shrinked back because of its length and justified myself that it is, after all, not obligatory and my Catholic obligation were dispensed with by circumstances (and hypothesis) after all… well I might do so, but I’d still regret not only not having the Catholic Mass, but also choosing something else over the Orthodox Mass.

  85. Cheesesteak Expert says:

    Venerator Sti Lot: Big picture, it’s much more than the finer points of theological detail, as I alluded to when nobody got to upset if the local Church in Spain took some liberties to deal with Arianism there. But to have the Big Kahuna in Rome go against the expressed wishes of his forefathers and the explicit prohibition of earlier councils who said only subsequent councils could add to the Creed? That was something else entirely. That’s the big picture.

    Can’t ignore the cultural-socio-economic-political context. The East was on its knees politically, and those Eastern bishops who attested to those councils were accused of selling out to the temporal, worldly demands of the Eastern Roman Empire (giving lie to the notion, so often quoted among RCs, that the Orthodox are by nature subservient to the state), in exchange for the prospect of material support from Venice and other western powers of the day. If you have any familiarity with America, a good approximation would be how Bill Bruckner of the Boston Red Sox was villified after his error caused Boston to lose to the NY Mets in the 1986 world series, and then the fans would think that he did it for money (which of course he DID NOT do; I use it just to convey the depth of emotion associated. Remember, one thousand years before Ferrara-Florence, was it not St. Nicholas who reputedly punched Arius in the nose of the latter’s insistence on the iota?)

    You can find a large quantity of material on the web, from multiple POV, here as good a place as any http://orthodoxwiki.org/Filioque . If you enjoy Bishop Ware, you may find some of his erudition here http://www.stpaulsirvine.org/html/TheGreatSchism.htm. Less breezy but more academic is for example here http://www.oodegr.com/english/biblia/episkopos1/perieh.htm, and the hard core here http://www.oodegr.com/english/papismos/significance_filioque_question.htm

  86. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Cheesesteak Expert,

    I won’t let anymore time pass by following up all the links before saying thank you for them!

    I agree one can’t ignore “the big picture” as you sketch it, or the “the cultural-socio-economic-political context” (including, I would think, all the complicated ‘back-history’ from the First Crusade onwards).

    Which is not to say “the finer points of theological detail” are not weighty. If Lyons (1274) and “Basel-Ferrara-Florence” (1431-43) had simply said ‘of course, by “Filioque” is simply meant “per Filium” ‘, presumably things would have gone differently (but they did not, and the details as to what, exactly, they said, and why, are important, so I am looking forward to the “multiple POV” material linked!).

  87. Cheesesteak Expert says:

    Ah, one of the bigger might have been’s, eh?

Comments are closed.