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#302811 10/28/08 01:14 PM
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A recurring question which arises here and elsewhere is "What or who are we?" The "we" in this case is the Byzantine Catholic Church and I would suppose to one degree or another, all Eastern Catholic Churches.

A poll on the subject might be helpful but we don't do polls.

It does seem that we have a choice which our heirarchy for the time being has made for us. Yet, it seems worthwhile to address the subject because it has so many ramifications for so many areas of our life. How does one evangelize if there is no clear understanding of who we are? How do we attract vocations? How do we insure that we have a proper liturgy or even a proper theology?

It does seem that we have one choice but there may be others.

Either, we are a Roman Catholic Church with a funny liturgy but somehow sui iuris (A favorite phrase whose definition seems strangely illusive) with the ability to alter liturgy at will and without reference to meaning. This seems to be the default position of our present heirarchy and much of the Church both within and outside the membership.

Or, we are "Orthodox in Communion with Rome" sui iuris to be sure, if we can be clear on that meaning with a calling to try to unite the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. Our liturgy and praxis would be purely Orthodox and we would be constrained to keep it that way. Moreover, we would be fully in love with and fully in communion with the Patriarchate of Rome as well as seek communion with an Orthodox Patriarchy.

Or there may be a third alternative which I have not considered. If so, please describe it.

Carson Daniel Lauffer

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We are Orthodox Christians in Communion with Rome.

Our Divine Liturgy affirms this. As far as I'm concerned, that is a magisterial definition.

Being Orthodox in Communion with Rome does NOT mean, however, that we unquestionably accept all of the opinions (polemical or otherwise) of various Orthodox bishops and theologians since the separation, particularly in matters pertaining to disputed questions that have been dogmatically defined by the Catholic magisterium. This is where the discernment of some who claim to be Eastern Catholic have faltered. Nor does it mean that we adopt Latin approaches to theology, spirituality, law and worship or that we cannot be critical of the Latin Church and many of its practices and excesses. That which has been defined dogmatically exists in a manner that, while rooted in an historical context, transcends temporal boundaries because it pertains to matters of divine truth. So the essence of whatever may have been defined authoritatively (and the manner and matter of this definition is key in discerning its true weight) and universally is part of our common patrimony, but we must understand its auxiliary language according to our own categories and modalities of speaking, praying and thinking, so long as these serve the communication of its essence in deference to the apostolic and Petrine authority exercised. This to my mind is the process of reception by the Churches, a process in which we are obligated as Catholics in full communion and by virtue of the authority of the Apostolic See of Rome to engage.

Such an approach can be attributed to St. Maximos the Confessor when he wrote pertaining to the Monothelite controversies: "I have the faith of the Latins, but the language of the Greeks." To be sure, such a statement could be easily reversed by any orthodox Latin: "I have the faith of the Greeks, but the language of the Latins." so long as one does not unquestioningly ascribe all points polemical to this general deposit of Greek faith.

As Eastern Catholics (aka "Orthodox Christians in Communion with Rome"), we have the magisterial sources of our liturgical texts and praxis as well as the rich heritage of the fathers of the Church and the first seven ecumenical councils, none of which are in disagreement with the truths affirmed by the whole of Catholicism.

In ICXC,

Fr. Deacon Daniel

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Well written, Fr. Deacon. cool

Dr. Eric #302826 10/28/08 02:49 PM
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So, is our purpose to bring these warring tribes together or not?

CDL

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It really should be one of our purposes.

The first purpose of course, being the glorification and worship of our Lord.

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Originally Posted by stormshadow
It really should be one of our purposes.

The first purpose of course, being the glorification and worship of our Lord.


That is true enough. But I can do that in an Orthodox or a Roman Catholic Church as well as in the BC Church. There is no need for our struggling little Church to exist if we have no purpose other than as an Orthodox Church in communion with Rome to aid or inspire the two tribes to reunite.

Let me take it one step further. If we are Orthodox in Communion with Rome which I suggest is not the vision of our heirarchs or perhaps even of a majority of our faithful, should we not be as Orthodox is praxis as possible?

CDL

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Originally Posted by carson daniel lauffer
Either, we are a Roman Catholic Church with a funny liturgy but somehow sui iuris ... Or, we are "Orthodox in Communion with Rome"
Carson,

It is certainly my impression that the authors of the Union of Brest intended for us to be "Orthodox in Communion with Rome." This does not in any way mean we are that by default--only that this is our ideal and our true identity.

As far as I can see, you are quite correct in saying we are either this or else "a Roman Catholic Church with a funny liturgy but somehow sui iuris." In other words, we can either be our true selves, or a silly caricature of what we're supposed to be. Unfortunately, the reality usually lies somewhere in between, and all too often near the wrong end.

On the positive side, this is the challenge that lies before us--not to get frustrated and angry with our priests and bishops, but to do our own part with God's help to promote that ideal.


Peace,
Deacon Richard

Epiphanius #302838 10/28/08 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Epiphanius
On the positive side, this is the challenge that lies before us--not to get frustrated and angry with our priests and bishops, but to do our own part with God's help to promote that ideal.


Peace,
Deacon Richard


Deacon Richard,

Amen. The change must begin within our selves first. If we have no peace, we cannot be instruments of Christ's peace.

And we must, to quote Thomas Merton, seek to "reconcile all worlds within ourselves." Top my mind, this helps to define the universal nature of the priestly vocation of all the faithful.

God bless,

Deacon Daniel

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I think Pope John Paul II of blessed memory said it well in Orientale Lumen:
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In the study of revealed truth East and West have used different methods and approaches in understanding and confessing divine things... these various theological formulations are often to be considered complementary rather than conflicting.


I also think the Synod Fathers of the UGCC did a fine job in describing this identity in the UGCC's Catechetical Directory . They described it by two aspects, particularity and communion. Particularity is of course the rite, liturgical traditions, spirituality and worship, theology and structure of the Church (in our case in the UGCC arising from the Kyivan Church). All Eastern Catholic Churches needs to research, deepen and develop these aspects of a particular Church.

Communion is of course the idea of full Eucharistic communion with Rome while not abandoning the aspect of particularity.

Soloviev likened the relationship of Eastern and Western Christianity to the two natures of Christ, human and divine, and insisted both were necessary to be in harmony.

From my particular perspective as a deacon in the UGCC I would also say that from the time of the baptism of Kyivan Rus' in 988, the Kyivan Church accepted her Church tradition from the Church of Constantinople, and carefully nurtures it to the present time. We can always move deeper in to the mystery of our faith, into the reality of living out that our particularity and our identity as truly Eastern Christians of a Catholic communion in fidelity to that received tradition. We cannot forget that our theological tradition developed in the light of the decisions of the Seven Ecumenical Councils. It is rooted in Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and in the teachings of the Church Fathers, particularly Eastern and is expressed especially in our Church's liturgical life.

In full agreement with Deacon Richard I also agree that the Union of Brest intended no corruption of the Eastern Christian identity of our Church. The Union itself states such things like "...that the divine worship and all prayers and services...shall remain intact (without any change at all) for us according to the ancient custom of the Eastern Church" and "but that we should remain with that which was handed down to us in the Holy Scriptures, in the Gospel, and in the writings of the holy Greek Doctors".

Diak #302852 10/28/08 05:23 PM
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Deacon Randy,

Excellent points all. I especially like the quotation from Pope John Paul II. Polemics rarely if ever make for good theology. A key dimension to the practice of "reception" is to seek out that inner complimentarity between the two streams, respecting the integrity of each as well as the essence of the teaching.

My issue is with those Eastern Catholics who embrace Orthodox polemics against the Latin West as if such posturing against Rome defined the meaning of the term "Orthodox". (One could say the same about Latin polemics against the East. Such posturing never should define what it means to be "Catholic".) Soloviev also makes mention of this in his "Russia and the Universal Church", and is captured in the small sections republished under the title "The Russian Church and the Papacy".

Russian Church and the Papacy

God bless,

Deacon Daniel

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Dear Friends, a friend of mine sent this letter to the New Oxford Review.

I am especially curious to know what you folks think about the filioque question he raises. I do not accept the filioque as dogma. But my friend here and others have suggested we must, even if we do not use it liturgically. I have also had people tell me that we should recite the filioque "in order to differentiate ourselves from the Russians." I don't buy that either, but that is a different thread.


As for myself I am a Zoghby guy. I self identify as an "Orthodox Catholic."

http://www.newoxfordreview.org/letters.jsp?did=0908-letters

The Difficulties of Reunion

I write in regard to your New Oxford Note "On Reunion Between East & West" (June). There should be no illusions as to the difficulties and dangers attendant in such efforts. I write as one who has spent three years as an Eastern Orthodox Christian, and six years as a Byzantine RutheĀ­nian Catholic, before becoming a very happy Roman Catholic.

The situation should be illuminated with an examination of Byzantine Catholicism, consisting of those Christians oriented toward the Byzantine tradition who are already in the Catholic Church. True, they have a solemn liturgical and sacramental tradition that can only be the envy of any faithful Roman Catholic. And, true, there are no dissenters to speak of railing for priestesses or homosexual unions.

But there is dissent of a different kind. In light of Orientalium Ecclesiarum, the Second Vatican Council's "Decree on the Eastern Catholic Churches," many Byzantine Catholics now appear to believe that they have a mandate to purify their churches to such an extent that they have a right to reject any infallible Church teachings that are considered Roman in their theological genesis, for this would contaminate the Byzantine purity they are allegedly entitled to.

So, one will find no shortage of Byzantine Catholics who say that dogmas such as the filioque, indulgences, universal papal supremacy, and papal infallibility must be abolished or, at best, relegated to a theological opinion that Roman Catholics may hold as long as it has no binding authority on Byzantine Catholics. There are important distinctions to be observed here. In Etsi Pastoralis (1742), Pope Benedict XIV said that while Byzantine Catholics may omit the filioque in worship, they still have a dogmatic obligation to affirm it as part of their Catholic faith.

One of my Byzantine Catholic priests said in a homily that Nicaea II was the last ecumenical council, and that any Roman Catholics who dare claim that councils such as Florence, Trent, and Vatican I were ecumenical councils are wrong. When I later pointed out that his understanding of an ecumenical council was at odds with Eastern Catholic canon law, he said he did not care what canon law said, as it was to be dismissed as a tainted, Romanized code that did not sufficiently respect Byzantine tradition. He is far from alone in such views. During one coffee-hour discussion, this same priest also explained that when Byzantine Catholics come to truly understand their faith, they will realize just how little they have in common with Roman Catholics.

This is the situation among Byzantines who are already Catholic. When they dissent from Church teaching, their Catholicism seems to consist of a willingness to be in communion with Roman Catholics who are viewed as being mired in questionable or outright false doctrinal ideas.

As for the Eastern Orthodox, they are Byzantine-oriented believers who consider the errors of Roman Catholicism to be such grave heresies that there can be no communion until Rome renounces her errors and returns to true Orthodoxy.

All Roman Catholics interested in Orthodox reunion need to start paying attention to the deplorable situation in our Byzantine Catholic churches. As a faithful Catholic, I was, in effect, forced to leave and transfer rites to become Roman Catholic in order to have an environment where I could affirm and uphold the immutable fullness of the Catholic faith.

The NOR has commendably championed a traditionalist understanding of ecumenism with regard to Protestants -- namely, that any true unity must consist of non-Catholics returning to the fullness of the Catholic faith. While Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches are qualitatively superior to Protestant communities, I beseech you to not be beguiled by their apostolicity, to hold them to the same demands as Protestants for unity, and to eschew all temptation toward irenicism. Otherwise, you may gain Catholics who are allies against some heresies but promoters of others.

(I witheld the name here)
--
Blessings,

Lance


"The world will be saved by beauty..." - Dostoevsky


Lance's Blog: A Byzantine Christian in a Postmodern World
http://byzantinechristian.blogspot.com/

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Hmm....I thought I had asked a simple question.

I'll continue my discernment.

CDL

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A recurring question which arises here and elsewhere is "What or who are we?" The "we" in this case is the Byzantine Catholic Church and I would suppose to one degree or another, all Eastern Catholic Churches.

I say that I am Eastern Catholic. It works so far.

aikiMac #302867 10/28/08 06:47 PM
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I say that I am an evil Jesuit plot.


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Who are we? Why do we exist? When will we return to union with our Mother Churches?

I think the UGCC has clearly figured it out. The BCC is still working on it. The Unias, history and demographics have all conspired here. I still believe that these two Constantinopolitan-Kievan Churches (UGCC and BCC) should be one and that is something else to be figured out, but I am meandering from the question at hand.

We are Orthodox Christians in communion with Rome. We are awaiting reunion with our mother churches. We didn't enter communion with Rome for the merits or truth of papal primacy and universal jurisdiction, or theology, but that is now what keeps us apart with our Orthodox mother churches. We came to Rome for fatherhood. Cut off from our patriarchs we were in a sense spiritual orphans. The genius of Rome is law, order and structure. That is what we needed at that point in our history.

The Byzantine Greek Catholic Churches have sure taken the hits!

We need to better understand the challenges and opportunities of being Byzantine Greek Catholic Churches in the west. This should be done in concert with our Orthodox Mother Churches. I pray that our bishops clearly articulate who we are and why we exist. A clear vision and mission will go a long way in helping to grow our Church in America--the Body of Christ.

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