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Re: A (Orthodox) Confession of Faith Against Ecumenism [Re: StuartK] #328203
07/23/09 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by StuartK

When looking at the Fathers, it is clear that first of all, Christ is the Rock upon which the Church is founded, with a secondary view that the rock is Peter's confession of faith


The Gospel of St. Matthew would appear to be quite clear: "Thou art Peter (Kephas-Rock), and upon this rock (Kephas) I will build my Church...." Our Lord was not calling Himself the rock upon which the Church would be built, but Peter. I don't think that the Fathers were attempting to contradict what is obvious in this Gospel. The "confession of faith" business does not hold water, and was borrowed by anti-Catholic Eastern Orthodox polemicists from anti-Catholic Protestant polemicists.

Re: A (Orthodox) Confession of Faith Against Ecumenism [Re: Deacon Robert Behrens] #328204
07/23/09 10:57 AM
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If the Matthew 16:18 was all so clear, why did the Church of Rome wait close to 600 years before making it the centerpiece of its claim to primacy? Why did it first claim primacy based on the principle of accommodation (Rome holds the primacy because Rome is the capital and richest city of the Empire), and then upon the double apostolic foundation of the Church of Rome (i.e., Rome holds the primacy because of its foundation by Peter and Paul)?

I might also ask why, if the passage is so clear, so many of the Fathers disagree with Deacon Robert? Is it affrontary or simple ignorance?

I recommend to you Fr. Francis Dvornik's Byzantium and the Roman Primacy, and from the Orthodox side, The Christian East and the Rise of the Papacy, by Aristeides Papadakis and John Meyendorff, Scholarship, not polemics or apologetics, is the path to the truth.

Last edited by StuartK; 07/23/09 11:00 AM.
Re: A (Orthodox) Confession of Faith Against Ecumenism [Re: StuartK] #328214
07/23/09 01:48 PM
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[quote=StuartK]If the Matthew 16:18 was all so clear, why did the Church of Rome wait close to 600 years before making it the centerpiece of its claim to primacy?

As you are do doubt aware, Ecumenical Councils generally deal with "dogmatizing" long-held teachings in a definitive way only when somebody is denying them. The Church does not "dogmatize" a teaching which is not proven to be held from the beginning.

I might also ask why, if the passage is so clear, so many of the Fathers disagree with Deacon Robert? Is it affrontary or simple ignorance?

I don't make that concession. Everything I've read from St. John Chrysostom in this area at least does not refute Petrine primacy. Neither St. Gregory of Nyssa, or St. Theodore the Studite, in the above quotes, can hardly be used to support the denial that Peter is the Rock (Kephas) to whom the Lord refers, not to mention St. Cyril of Jerusalem. With all of that being said, theologians (including the Fathers) labor, in good will, on behalf of the Church. They submit their work, which the official teachers of the Church (the Hierarchy) either accept or reject. Many of the Fathers held views on things which were not ultimately accepted by the Hierarchy (i.e. St. Augustine's views on a variety of things). The theologian/Saint, if he/she is still alive, and is aware that the Church doesn't accept his/her views as definitive, in all humility, backs off and runs with the Church. The heretic, in pride, "sticks to his/her guns", extolling "my theology" (I think of Martin Luther).[quote]

With you, I agree that honest scholarship, rather than polemics, is the way to go. If I had more time to do so, I would tackle reading both of your suggested authors. I would really enjoy doing that. My yielding to the temptation to "go polemic" was provoked by the posting of the subject document which is, in its essence, polemical.

In Christ,

Dn. Robert

Last edited by Deacon Robert Behrens; 07/23/09 01:55 PM.
Re: A (Orthodox) Confession of Faith Against Ecumenism [Re: Deacon Robert Behrens] #328225
07/23/09 02:34 PM
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There are seven Ecumenical Councils. How many are celebrated in your Menaion?

Re: A (Orthodox) Confession of Faith Against Ecumenism [Re: StuartK] #328229
07/23/09 02:40 PM
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Try asking the Council of Hierarchs of the Metropolitan Byzantine Catholic Church of Pittsburgh, Sui Juris, or the Patriarch & Synod of Bishops of the UGCC, how many Ecumenical Councils they recognize. I think I know what their answer would be.

Re: A (Orthodox) Confession of Faith Against Ecumenism [Re: Deacon Robert Behrens] #328233
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I could say something about the theological acumen of the Council of Hierarchs, but I refrain. But thanks for reminding me why I go to a Melkite parish, now.

Regarding the UGCC, the Patriarch Lyubomir is on record as saying there are no theological differences between the Greek Catholics and the Orthodox, and in an intervention at the recent episcopal conference in Rome, raised that point again and demanded to know why communion between the Orthodox and the Greek Catholics is not possible. Regarding the Melkites, they, too are on record regarding the validity of the first seven councils and lack of ecumenicity of the second millennium councils.

So, go ahead and call me a Zoghbyite. I like the sound of it.

So, Deacon Robert, what is your interpretation of Paras. 35-39 of the recent Ravenna Statement of the Joint International Theological Commission?

Re: A (Orthodox) Confession of Faith Against Ecumenism [Re: StuartK] #328242
07/23/09 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by StuartK
Regarding the UGCC, the Patriarch Lyubomir is on record as saying there are no theological differences between the Greek Catholics and the Orthodox, and in an intervention at the recent episcopal conference in Rome, raised that point again and demanded to know why communion between the Orthodox and the Greek Catholics is not possible.



It seems that Patriarch Lubomyr has recently changed his tune:

http://ruskij-sion.blogspot.com/2008/12/development-in-dogma-from-ideology.html

Quote:


Quote
Cardinal Husar added to his comments an interesting elaboration: “At the same time, it is a pity that we share the rite and structure with our Orthodox brothers, but cannot celebrate the Divine Liturgy together. This indicates that the unity of the Church is not based on the community of traditions, but on the community of faith and ecclesiastical communion. This actually shows what Catholicism is. It is not a confessional but ecclesiological, theological notion regarding the faith…” This declaration is indeed a “development of doctrine” for Cardinal Husar, who in the past disseminated the ideological claim that “between the Orthodox and ourselves there are no differences in faith.”



Re: A (Orthodox) Confession of Faith Against Ecumenism [Re: StuartK] #328245
07/23/09 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by StuartK

Regarding the UGCC, the Patriarch Lyubomir is on record as saying there are no theological differences between the Greek Catholics and the Orthodox, and in an intervention at the recent episcopal conference in Rome, raised that point again and demanded to know why communion between the Orthodox and the Greek Catholics is not possible.


First of all, I doubt that a majority of the Synod of UGCC bishops would agree with Lubomyr on the point regarding theological differences (although I wish it reflected reality). Most, if not all, Orthodox hierarchs would disagree with him. As to inter-communion with Eastern Orthodoxy, I don't think his problem is with the Catholic side. Catholic hierarchs allow for distribution of the Holy Eucharist to Orthodox who request it. However, try selling inter-communion to any Orthodox jurisdiction. The standard Orthodox position on this matter is that one does not communicate those who are not in full communion with Canonical Orthodoxy. The reasoning provided, and, in my opinion, it is sound (I think Catholic discipline has become too loose in this area), is that there is not full agreement on the content of the Faith.

Dn. Robert

Re: A (Orthodox) Confession of Faith Against Ecumenism [Re: Deacon Robert Behrens] #328251
07/23/09 04:30 PM
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I think it also depends upon how one defines "Orthodoxy." Some seem determined to define "Orthodoxy" or the beliefs of Orthodox Christians polemically and in direct opposition to the Latin West.

Greek-Catholics, IMHO, are Orthodox Christians in communion with Rome without the polemical spirit or content.

Re: A (Orthodox) Confession of Faith Against Ecumenism [Re: StuartK] #328252
07/23/09 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by StuartK
So, Deacon Robert, what is your interpretation of Paras. 35-39 of the recent Ravenna Statement of the Joint International Theological Commission?


First of all, here is a "copy and paste" rendition of those paragraphs:

35. In the course of history, when serious problems arose affecting the universal communion and concord between Churches - in regard either to the authentic interpretation of the faith, or to ministries and their relationship to the whole Church, or to the common discipline which fidelity to the Gospel requires - recourse was made to Ecumenical Councils. These Councils were ecumenical not just because they assembled together bishops from all regions and particularly those of the five major sees, Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem, according to the ancient order (taxis). It was also because their solemn doctrinal decisions and their common faith formulations, especially on crucial points, are binding for all the Churches and all the faithful, for all times and all places. This is why the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils remain normative.

36. The history of the Ecumenical Councils shows what are to be considered their special characteristics. This matter needs to be studied further in our future dialogue, taking account of the evolution of ecclesial structures during recent centuries in the East and the West.

37. The ecumenicity of the decisions of a Council is recognized through a process of reception of either long or short duration, according to which the people of God as a whole - by means of reflection, discernment, discussion and prayer - acknowledge in these decisions the one apostolic faith of the local Churches, which has always been the same and of which the bishops are the teachers (didaskaloi) and the guardians. This process of reception is differently interpreted in East and West according to their respective canonical traditions.

38. Conciliarity or synodality involves, therefore, much more than the assembled bishops. It involves also their Churches. The former are bearers of and give voice to the faith of the latter. The bishops' decisions have to be received in the life of the Churches, especially in their liturgical life. Each Ecumenical Council received as such, in the full and proper sense, is, accordingly, a manifestation of and service to the communion of the whole Church.

39. Unlike diocesan and regional synods, an ecumenical council is not an "institution" whose frequency can be regulated by canons; it is rather an "event", a kairos inspired by the Holy Spirit who guides the Church so as to engender within it the institutions which it needs and which respond to its nature. This harmony between the Church and the councils is so profound that, even after the break between East and West which rendered impossible the holding of ecumenical councils in the strict sense of the term, both Churches continued to hold councils whenever serious crises arose. These councils gathered together the bishops of local Churches in communion with the See of Rome or, although understood in a different way, with the See of Constantinople, respectively. In the Roman Catholic Church, some of these councils held in the West were regarded as ecumenical. This situation, which obliged both sides of Christendom to convoke councils proper to each of them, favoured dissentions which contributed to mutual estrangement. The means which will allow the re-establishment of ecumenical consensus must be sought out.


I don't have any particular "take" or interpretaion of these paragraphs. But, I do note that these are the findings of a joint commission. They don't constitute official teaching on the part of any of the participating Churches. I have my doubts that the Church of Rome would officially accept that only the first seven councils were Ecumenical, because that would be tantamount to saying Eastern Orthodoxy is right and Catholicism is wrong (I am also aware that Paul VI had made some comments which downgraded the last 14 councils as to their ecumenicity-but, to the best of my knowledge, these comments reflected nothing of an official, teaching nature). Were Rome to ever officially make such a concessionary statement, in a definitive way, I would probably make a "bee-line" to one of the two Russian Orthodox churches in my neighborhood-at lightning, break-neck speed! I like their parishioners, their clergy, and the way they celebrate the services.

Dn. Robert

Re: A (Orthodox) Confession of Faith Against Ecumenism [Re: StuartK] #328253
07/23/09 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by StuartK
So, go ahead and call me a Zoghbyite. I like the sound of it.


Okay. Here goes: ZOGHBYITE!!!!

In all seriousness, I think Bishop Elias (Zoghby) was doing everything possible to try and heal the wounds of the Great Schism. He is to be commended for trying. Unfortunately, his formulation was rejected by those in authority in both Eastern Orthodoxy, and in Catholicism.

Dn. Robert

Re: A (Orthodox) Confession of Faith Against Ecumenism [Re: Deacon Robert Behrens] #328257
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Quote
I don't have any particular "take" or interpretaion of these paragraphs.


Well, I mean, like Matthew 16:18, they kind of speak for themselves, don't they? In essence, they say the key to determining the ecumenicity of a council is its reception by the entire Church; that the key indicator of that reception is the interiorization of the teachings of a council in the liturgy of a particular Church; and that, though the Latin Church continued to hold councils that it called "ecumenical", in the absence of the other apostolic Churches and their reception of them, these councils remain dubious and have been causes of dissension between the Churches. Very straightforward, indeed: it is a concession that, whatever else those second millennium councils might be, they can hardly be called "ecumenical" in the manner of the first seven councils (the only ones which we, as Greek Catholics, commemorate in our liturgy). Thus, Pope Paul VI was correct in referring to Lyons II (1274) not as ecumenical, but as "a general council of the Church in the West".

Quote
But, I do note that these are the findings of a joint commission. They don't constitute official teaching on the part of any of the participating Churches.


At the end of the day, fall back on legalisms. I suppose you would say, then, that the Balamand Decision doesn't represent the "official" teaching of the Catholic Church? But the Catholic Church has interiorized the decisions of Balamand and integrated them into its ecumenical policy towards the Orthodox Church, so how much more official would you like it to be? It will be--in fact, is--the same with the Ravenna Statement: it will become an integral part of the Church's ecumenical policy, with emanations into other areas of doctrine that impinge upon it.

Remember, this wasn't just some bunch of guys sitting around a table. The Catholic side was represented by the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the head of a dicasterie of the Curia Romana, the official representative of the Pope. Do you honestly believe that he would "stray off the reservation", or that a document of such ecclesiological importance would not first have been vetted by the Pope himself? What comes out of these meetings of the Commissions may not represent the views of all the Orthodox Churches, but they do represent the official views of the Catholic Church.

Quote
Were Rome to ever officially make such a concessionary statement, in a definitive way, I would probably make a "bee-line" to one of the two Russian Orthodox churches in my neighborhood-at lightning, break-neck speed! I like their parishioners, their clergy, and the way they celebrate the services.


Nothing is stopping you from celebrating your services the way they do--oh, wait. Never mind! That aside, try to remember that the 'list" of ecumenical councils is not, and never was "official", but was compiled in the 17th century by Robert Bellarmine for polemical purposes (I grow tired of repeating this). The Latin Church itself seldom referred to these councils as ecumenical unless the Orthodox Churches were somehow represented, which happened only at Lyons II and Florence-Ferrara (both rejected by the Christian East, and rightfully so). Most of the time, they were called, just as Paul VI said, "general councils".

A council cannot be considered ecumenical because it meets certain a priori conditions. Historical analysis of the Great Councils shows that few of them met all the criteria commonly asserted by Latin apologists. Conversely, several that did were later rejected by the Latin Church, for whom consistency does not seem that great a virtue.

There is only one way to establish the ecumenicity of a council, and that is reception. Even the Latin Church has acted in accordance with that principle, otherwise why is the 869-870 Synod of Constantinople the "Eighth Ecuemenical Council" and the 879-880 Synod of Constantinople, which overturned the findings of the earlier Synod, and which was ratified by Pope John VIII, and commemorated by the Latin Church for three centuries, not the Eighth Ecumenical Council? The answer is simple: the Synod of 869-870 was, in the long run, "received" by the Latin Church, while the Synod of 879-880 was not. In fact, it's even more complex than that, since it is clear that the Synod of 879-880 was in fact "received" (it was recognized by Rome until at least the 11th century), but then its reception was reversed as a result of the very different ecclesiology espoused by the Germanic popes in the 11th-12th centuries.

Bottom line: We cannot be certain of the status of any councils after the first seven, because they have not been integrated into our Tradition.


Re: A (Orthodox) Confession of Faith Against Ecumenism [Re: StuartK] #328258
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In all seriousness, I think Bishop Elias (Zoghby) was doing everything possible to try and heal the wounds of the Great Schism. He is to be commended for trying. Unfortunately, his formulation was rejected by those in authority in both Eastern Orthodoxy, and in Catholicism.


Nous sommes tous Zoghbyistes. The Melkite Church, which is now my home, has never abandoned the Zoghby Declaration, and Rome has not demanded they renounce it. It remains the operative policy of the Melkite Church, and I can stand with them in professing that I believe everything that the Orthodox Church believes and am in communion with the Church of Rome in the manner such communion was understood in the first millennium. Patriarch Gregorios professes that, he's in communion with Benedict XVI, and it is quite good enough for me.

Re: A (Orthodox) Confession of Faith Against Ecumenism [Re: StuartK] #328262
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Stuart,

Interesting...

But it brings me back to my earlier point on another thread: if reception by the whole Church is the primary criterion for ecumenicity, then how does one assert that every Council since and including Chalcedon (even if the limit is 7) is ecumenical since Alexandria - one of the Pentarchy and an Apostolic Church - has not received these Councils as authoritative or ecumenical?

It would seem that you risk truncating the conciliar tradition by taking this position.

Re: A (Orthodox) Confession of Faith Against Ecumenism [Re: Deacon Robert Behrens] #328270
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Were Rome to ever officially make such a concessionary statement, in a definitive way, I would probably make a "bee-line" to one of the two Russian Orthodox churches in my neighborhood-at lightning, break-neck speed! I like their parishioners, their clergy, and the way they celebrate the services.


Me too, make a bee-line for the Russians!


Last edited by asianpilgrim; 07/23/09 05:44 PM.
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