For those interested, the mp3 of the reply to the Likoudis review can be downloaded here
The Eastern Catholic bishops in the USA issued a document some years ago in response to the Latin Church's new catechism that also emphasized (like Fr. Laurent Cleenewerck in his book) the truth that the local Church is the whole Catholic Church. Here is what they said:Toward a Response to the Universal Catechism
It is laudable that, in the face of many difficulties and challenges in the modern world, our sister Churches of the West have seen it appropriate to write a summary of Christian faith and life. However the draft text, Catechism for the Universal Church, to which we are asked to respond, presents for us, sister Churches of the East, certain difficulties. We will address two major questions - What is a universal Church? and How universal is the catechism itself? - then look at some specific problems in the text itself.A - What is a Universal Church?
In His high priestly prayer, the Lord Jesus prayed for a specific type of oneness for His followers, all the dimensions of which we can never fully comprehend or express. "That they may be one, even as we are one," He prayed (Jn 17:11, cf21), finding the deep cause of this unity -- not in human structures, programs or experiences but in the relationship which we have with God in Christ. This unity which He sought for us, then, is basically a mystical and unseen one, transcending our natural capabilities, attempts or preferences and profoundly rooted in the common identity we have been given in Christ as offspring of the Father by adoption.
This prayer has obtained for us a unity on a real, ontological level: one which does not come into being by our designs and which even is not severed when we attempt to withdraw from it (cf 1 Cor 12:15-16, 21). It remains, however shattered or unnoticed, because the source of our unity, God, remains.
This unity we have with God will come to perfection only in the future, in what the ecumenical Creed calls, "the life of the age to come." Nevertheless, this unity truly exists even now, if in an unseen way, a way grasped only by faith.The Local Church as Universal
Towards the end of the apostolic age, the term Catholic Church was being used to describe the fellowship of believers. A Catholic Church was seen as one which lived in unity with God and the other Churches through sacramental communion, preserving and proclaiming the totality of the Christian life as handed down from the apostles. Catholicity or universality was thus the mark of authenticity: a community which experienced the fulness of what the Church was meant to be.
The heart of an authentic -- and, therefore, universal -- Church was seen to be realized through the Eucharist. It is here, in answer to Christ's prayer, that "the Father in Christ and Christ in us cause us to be one in them" (St Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity 8:14). The Divine Liturgy was seen as "the celebrated marriage by which the most holy Bridegroom espouses the Church as His Bride. ... [for] by this Mystery alone we become 'flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone'" (Nicholas Cabasilas, The Life in Christ, 7,1).
Since this deep union in Christ, the goal of Christian life, comes about through the Eucharist, it is the Eucharist which makes present the Church, causing it to be as Christ had willed it: a Body united to and in Him. "If we could see the Church of Christ, we would see nothing other than the body of the Lord, insofar as it is united to Him and shares in His sacred body" (Cabasilas, Commentary on the Divine Liturgy, 36).
Because they saw the Eucharist as that which constitutes the Church, the early Fathers, especially in the East, considered Christ's presence within the local community as complete. They saw the Church as primarily sacramental and therefore as locally integral, rather than as a geographically universal entity of which local communities are only parts. "Wherever Jesus Christ is," writes Ignatius of Antioch, speaking of the Eucharistic Liturgy in the local community, "there is the Catholic (i.e. integral, or universal) Church" (Epistle to the Smymeans).
In the same way, depicting the Church by the figure of a ship, the Clementine Homilies represent Christ as the Pilot of the ship, the bishop as the look-out, the presbyters as the crew, the deacons as the leading oarsmen, the catechists as the stewards. The local Church had Christ for its Head, the local Church was the Body of Christ, who was no less present to it as to any other Church. The local bishop was His vicar, "For Jesus Christ -- the Life which cannot be taken from us -- is the image of the Father, and the bishops appointed over the whole world are in the image of Jesus Christ" (Ignatius, Epistle to the Ephesians, 3). The Holy Churches of God
While they saw Christ and the Church as fully present in the local Eucharistic community, the early Christians knew that this one reality did not exhaust all the dimensions of Christ's Body. Beyond the local Church was the fellowship of Churches; beyond that the communion of saints, beyond that the Future Age when all would be one in the Lord Come Again. As the mystical Body of Christ was seen to inhere totally and completely in each individual Eucharistic particle, so too each local Church was the complete Catholic Church. Nevertheless, as the ultimate sign of Eucharistic unity in a local Church was the single Loaf and Cup, so too the communion of local Churches realized the fulness of Christ's design for His followers. And so the realities of local Catholic/Universal Churches and the communion of Catholic/Universal Churches were complementary, not conflicting, as both are images and foretastes of the kingdom to come.
The unity between the Churches was envisioned on the level of their common faith, rather than centrality of administration. "The Churches which have been planted in Germany do not believe or hand down anything different, nor do those in Spain or in Gaul, or in the East or in Egypt or Libya" (Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, 10,2). Unlike the Jews, whose principle of unity was exterior (racial and national), the unity of the new people of God was of the Spirit.
As Christians sought to express their faith in the various aspects of life in Christ, certain definite trends began to emerge. Local Churches strong in cultural and historical significance began to crystallize their particular ways of expressing the Gospel. Less prestigious communities looked for inspiration to these Churches -- especially to the Apostolic Sees -- and imitated their practices. Thus distinct families of Churches began to form around these principal Churches, a pattern which would be recognized at the first ecumenical council.
Despite the establishment of these families, each local Church continued to direct its own life. This was not simply due to limited communications or restricted travel. Throughout this period the Greeks, the Romans, the Persians had established and maintained powerful and highly centralized networks of authority under the same handicaps of time and space. Rather, the early Christians, especially in the East, saw the Church as fully present in each given community of bishop, presbyters, deacons and people. They found the Church's true nature as body of Christ made present in the Eucharist by which they came together as a local Church.
Even as the local Churches in the East underwent a measure of standardization under the patriarchal system, they retained a strong feel for the integrity of the local Church. Patriarchal government was chiefly synodal, conciliar, relating the Churches to one another fraternally, preserving the completeness of each one. Those further structures (Eg metropolias, patriarchates, ecumenical councils) came into being in the course of history - not to suppress or control the local Church, but to bolster it in the knowledge that it was living in the "sure charism of truth". The inner unity of the new people of God did not lessen the uniqueness of each community. Thus to this day the Byzantine fellowship of Churches continually prays "for the well-being of the holy Churches of God" (Great Ektene, third petition).
At the same time, all the Churches consistently acknowledged the primacy of the Church and Pope of Rome. The same Eastern Churches which upheld the completeness of the local Church often appealed to the chief hierarch of the First Church when the need arose. But as they recognized his position, he too recognized their integrity and completeness.Imaging the Trinity
This way of relating came to be seen as not only rooted in God, but as taking for its model the relationships within the Holy Trinity after the prayer of Christ: "That they may be one, as You are in me and I in You".
Even more do we find ourselves at a loss to explain all that this might entail. Some qualities do suggest themselves. This relationship would be vital, flowing with life from one to another as divine life pulses between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Here is to be, then, a giving and receiving of life and energy, ultimately from God, through believers one to another. Like the divine unity, the oneness of the faithful would be organic -- a true union in the one Lord -- as the persons of the Trinity are ontological one in the Godhead.
But furthermore, a unity modeled on the image of the Trinity was seen to necessarily respect the distinctness of persons. The Divine Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- are one: yet their union does not sacrifice their singularity. "The persons are not confused, nor is the Essence fragmented" (Athanasian Creed, v 7). So, too, the unity of Christians, modelled upon the Trinity according to Christ's prayer, binds together without homogenizing. "Though many, all of us are one body" (1 Cor 10:17), but we are still many as well.
The early Christians knew that the unity which they experienced in Christ was truly in the image of the Trinity. Life flowed back and forth from one Church to another (cf Col 4:16, Rom 15:26) as they looked to build one another up in the Lord. Yet, each community retained its own individuality and distinctness which did not detract from the deep unity they had in God.Later Developments
Events in the West were different. While there were four patriarchs in the East, the West knew only one who was at the same time the first among them. In addition, as the Roman imperial presence in the West continued to disintegrate -- a process begun with the transfer of the capital to New Rome by Constantine the Great -- the pope and his clergy increasingly began to fill the vacuum left by the absence of an effective political system. By the time of Gregory the Great, the Pope of Rome -- besides being the chief bishop of the West -- was the sole unifying figure in Western Europe. Even after the establishment of the Holy Roman Empire, it was the papacy which would be the consistently recognized heart of European civilization.
When the Church expanded into central and northern Europe, it went forth from a community which was increasingly identifying universality with Roman centrality. An increasing number of Christian communities were the daughter Churches of a Rome which had developed a more centralized existence than was known in the East. Thus the stage was set for the kind of conflict typified in the clash of Saints Cyril and Methodius with their German counterparts in Moravia, who saw identity with Roman praxis as the essential mark of Catholicity.
Due to historic developments, the general tendency of the Roman Church has been to promote uniformity as the prime witness to unity. Thus it has taken the course of absorbing and curtailing any legitimate autonomous activity in such areas as liturgy or discipline in the local Churches. This process become even more marked in the nineteenth century and has continued with few exceptions to this day so that the concept of Universal Church has come more to mean a uniform, world-wide community than an internally integral local Church.
As noted above, authentic local traditions and practices complement each other. As in the Trinity we see the Father in the Son and through the Holy Spirit, so too the various local Church traditions should be able to recognize authentic dimensions of themselves in one another. Thus the concept of universal Church as meaning the world-wide community is an authentic expression, for what may be said of the local Church can be said of all the Churches together. However associating uniformity with universality has never seemed authentic inasmuch as it is contrary to St. Paul's imagery of the body in 1 Corinthians.
Besides the push toward uniformity, other similar tendencies have appeared from time to time. The first was to identify the various local Churches as "rites," which in fact reduced the universality of their witness to the status of ceremonial variations. Thus the Eastern Catholic communities were seen to be part of the Roman Church, their various traditions identical with the Roman, except for a few procedural points, such as liturgy. Vatican II formally reversed this trend, recognizing that the variety of traditions in the Catholic community includes: a diversity in liturgy, ecclesiastical discipline, and spiritual heritage, as well as in theological expressions of doctrine (OE 3, 4,6; UR 17). Likewise the draft for the code of Eastern Church canon law speaks of these communities as autonomous Churches rather than rites.
Similar has been the approach of many who, while admitting the liceity of other traditions, perhaps unconsciously have identified the Roman tradition or experience as normative and seen other Catholic traditions as exceptions to the rule. Describing the Roman rite as the Universal Church, as in the Western liturgical calendar, is a noteworthy sign of this approach. Thus, before Vatican II, many equated the "Eastern Rites" with those religious orders which had their own liturgical variations. Today, when such distinctions have largely disappeared, the tendency is often to consider the autonomous ritual Churches in the Catholic family as "multi-cultural groupings" by which is often meant transitional cultural ghettos awaiting absorption into the mainstream.
And so we see that the very concept of Universal Church has differed in East and West. The East has stressed the local Church as Catholic and Universal in itself, within the communion of other local Churches. The West has understood the Universal Church to refer to the world-wide Church, often identifying it with the Roman Church as the preferable, or at least normative expression of Christ's Body.B - How Universal Is the Catechism Itself!
If there are two differing concepts of Universal Church, this must certainly impact the text in hand. In fact, we submit that the Catechism works from the perspective of the Roman view throughout. Despite the fact that it incorporates an Eastern - -almost exclusively Byzantine -- witness to many points in the text, the CUC puts them in the context of current Roman practice rather than the living context of the Eastern Churches themselves. It is, therefore, still operating from one particular tradition. In doing so, it is in fact reverting to the above-mentioned stance of seeing the Roman tradition as the principle of universality, normative for all the Churches.
This approach is most obvious in the basic premises of the work itself:
a) The Format employed is that of the medieval catechism, popularized by Luther, which employed familiarity with the Lord's Prayer, the Creed and the Ten Commandments as the basis for rational Christianity. The format was subsequently used by many reformers and counter-reformers with variations in both outline and doctrine as an appropriate catechesis in a highly confrontational time in the Western Church. While not polemical in itself, the Roman Catechism of St. Charles Borromeo, whose format is used in the CUC, was certainly written in response to the challenges of the reformation (preface, Roman Catechism).
There were patristic roots in the catechetical synopsis used in these texts, but already a singnificant change had been made. The Fathers had used much more of the Scriptures than the Commandments to teach godly behavior (didache) and the experience of the liturgy rather than an analysis of it to convey the source of Christian life.
The catechism format was introduced into the Byzantine world in the seventeenth century when it encountered the effects of the reformation in both Protestant and Roman Catholic neighbors and missionaries. The format was employed in the famous Orthodox catechism of Peter Moghila, Metropolitan of Kiev which in turn became the model for other texts. These catechisms followed, not the Luther-Borromeo formats, but that of. St. Robert Bellarmine organized around the virtues of faith, hope and charity and including a much more holistic concept of Christian life than the others. Yet, despite this, the judgment of history in the Eastern Churches has been that the format and approach of this method has been counterproductive as a vehicle for catechesis in communities which seek to live from an Eastern Christian perspective.
b) While the format might not at first seem of particularly Western origin, no one can doubt that the Apostles' Creed is and has always been an exclusively Western text. Even St. Ambrose of Milan knew it as "the symbol that is kept by the Roman Church." The CUC itself describes it as "the most ancient Roman catechism" (1014). While every historic Church can find its own tradition reflected in it, the Apostles' Creed has never been employed in any Eastern Church. The Nicene Creed, on the other hand, is universally used, in one form or another in the historic Churches. In fact the CUC cites the Nicene Creed more consistently than it does the Apostles' Creed. It seems, then, that the Apostles' Creed is used only to provide continuity with the Reformation texts in which no Eastern Church had a part.
c) Those who were Council Fathers at Vatican II will remember the witness of Patriarch Maximos IV who refused to speak in Latin, the supposed language of the Universal Church. While much has changed in the years since then, the CUC in many cases employs Latin in citations. This is at best indicative of the above mentioned stance (that the Roman tradition is normative). When it is the Scriptures, Eastern liturgies and the Greek Fathers which are quoted in Latin, it is simply ludicrous. There are also occasional quotations or citations in French.
d) As mentioned above, there are a number of references to Byzantine liturgical practices in the text. They are always identified as such. By and large, Roman liturgical references are not cited as Roman, but as the liturgy, again suggesting that this is the normative tradition for Catholics. In addition, when Byzantine texts appear, they are presented in translations which are not recognizable as the prayer expressions of any actual Byzantine Church.C - Specific Objections
If this Western "bias" is evident in the basic premises of such a work, it is clearly also discernible in the treatment of specific themes. In some of these themes there are complementary notions which could be considered. In others, it might be difficult to do so as we cannot recognize ourselves in them. These include:
a) The consideration of Scripture and Tradition (0236-0248) - This generally repeats the teaching of Vatican II, which underscored their unity as coming from "the same divine wellspring" (DV 9), transmitted by Christ and the Holy Spirit. This is similar to the Eastern view of Scripture as within Tradition which is the voice of the Holy Spirit. It also speaks of "the deposit of faith" (0249), which comes closer to the Eastern understanding of Holy Tradition. Yet a different impression is given in the text when it states that Church administrators are superior to tradition (0248) which is, after all, merely something of antiquity (1517). We have yet to see a Western treatment of this subject which is as coherent as the Eastern perspective.
b) The consideration of the "Magisterium" (0250-0260) - Here again Vatican II is cited, but selectively. CUC 0251 implies that the episcopate exists more on the level of Scripture and Tradition than does DV 10, which describes the maintenance of Tradition as "a remarkable common effort on the part of the bishops and faithful." It is this latter factor, ignored by many administrators, which is the heart of the Eastern approach to "magisterium."
Related to this is the tendency to see Canon Law and Church authority as absolute. Our experience as Eastern Catholics, however, has been that the situations described in 3498-3500 can apply equally to Church authorities as to civil ones. Patriarch Maximos IV took this same approach when the Melkite Church was "forbidden" by the Oriental Congregation to receive converts in Israel, quoting the words of Peter and the apostles to the high priest ("We must obey God rather than men", Acts 5:29). The Eastern approach would not so isolate Church authorities from either the people or the possibility of error.
As an aside: another misleading use of ellipsis occurs in 2468, where what is not quoted negates the sense in which OE is cited!
c) The consideration of particular and universal Church without any reference to the autonomous ritual Church (1709-10) - The description of a particular Church (diocese) here is close to what we describe at the beginning of this response. It is the omission which betrays a closed ecclesiology: there exists only the "universal Church" (i.e. Rome) and the diocese. A recent issue of Le Lien carried a letter of a curial administrator to Patriarch Maximos V and his "archdiocese". The editor noted, "He meant patriarchate" but the letter writer's intent is surely subject to other interpretations.
We, however, would see the Roman Church as a patriarchate (or "autonomous ritual Church", to use the terminology of the Eastern Code draft) among others. It would seem to be the only position consistent with actual Church discipline and the only one open to any ecumenical encounter with other authentic Churches.
Unfortunately, due to our numbers or a misplaced sense of loyalty to Rome, many Eastern Catholics consider themselves more a part of the local Roman diocese than of their own, not to speak of being an autonomous Church.
d) Related to this is the tendency to equate the Eastern witness with that of the Byzantine tradition. One cannot speak of a universal Eastern Church when in fact there are many autonomous Churches of varying traditions (eg Coptic or Syriac) which often consider the Byzantine tradition as a Western expression of Christianity!
e) The consideration of the makeup of the human person (1188-1193);
f) Equating morality and the Ten Commandments as the basis of Christian living (Part Three) - Any Eastern Church would have great difficulty basing the Christian life on law. The life of faith is based more on the experience of God in the Community through the expressions of its Holy Tradition and on the direction of the Holy Spirit in the individual's life than on legal precepts. Furthermore, even equating the Ten Commandments with the Two Ways of the apostolic age (3241) is misleading. Intended to give the fundamentals of right living for new converts, even the Two Ways involve more than keeping the Decalogue while including these basics.
g) The medieval approach to presenting the Sacraments (Part Two, Section Two) - Some attempt has been made to add more patristic references, but this limiting perspective remains. Seemingly the intention is to return to the scholastic ordering for understanding the sacraments. One example is the treatment of the institution of the sacraments by Christ (2084-88). In 2087 it is stated that the Church does not invent or institute the sacraments; rather they have been instituted by Christ (see also 2095), implying a distinction proper to the earthly life of Jesus. This approach has necessitated locating moments in the Gospel when Christ instituted each sacrament, a major issue at the time of the Reformation.
In 2088 a more patristic approach is enunciated: that the Church is not exterior to Christ. It is His Body, the "whole Christ." It is rather in this sense that the origin of the sacraments should be envisioned, avoiding the fundamentalist snare of the medieval stance.
h) The discussion of the "hell of purgation" (1474, 1848 ff);
i) Use of scholastic concepts and terminology when referring to creation and the divine life in us and stating explicitly that such terminology is universal (1204, 3076, 3089).
j) Equating the Eucharist and sacrifice of Christ with the crucifixion alone (2445) - The Eucharistic oblation certainly corresponds the sacrifice of Christ, but limiting that to the cross ignores the witness of Scripture (cf Heb 8-9) on which Eastern Liturgies are based.
k) The discussion of indulgences (2552ff).
1) Repeating the Florentine insistence on justIfying the filioque in the Nicene Creed (1060a) vitiates the positive treatment of the theology expressed in the text. This stands in sharp contrast to the current Roman practice of actually omitting the filioque in ecumenical contexts.
m) The varying computations of the date of Pascha in the Catholic Church demand a further treatment than the mention in 2071.
Many of these difficulties are evident in those sections of the text which seem to have been written by persons intent on defending actions or statements deriving from the Latin theology of the Middle Ages which are in marked contrast to the sections drawn from biblical and liturgical perspectives in style and content. The latter sections are alive with the spirit of the Gospel and the Fathers. The former passages seem derived from a different spirit completely.
None of what is said above is meant to indicate that we do not recognize ourselves and authentic aspects of Holy Tradition in elements of the work, or acknowledge the care with which the authors of sections of this work have sought to draw from Eastern witnesses, in response to the call of OE
6. However there is a significant difference between learning from other traditions and working together for common action. Thus we would "see" the Byzantine or Syriac liturgies in the Roman Mass, drawn as they are from similar sources, but we would never consider the Western Liturgy as universal. Likewise, as the Roman Lectionary is clearly not the Liturgy of Addai and Mari, for example, and the Father is clearly not the Son, so too the CUC is not an Eastern resource.Conclusion
The overall message then, is that, while incorporating in a significant way the witness of the Byzantine liturgy and the Greek Fathers, the CUC is still a Western document, written from Western perspectives. If it is envisioned as universal, that by definition indicates that the Western tradition is the standard for all Catholics. It is a long established principle that no Eastern Catholic Church has been required to use even the Western form of the Nicene Creed. How, then, can any Eastern Church be expected to recognize this, or any, text to be a CUC?
There does not seem to be any way in which such a work can be universal in the commonly understood meaning of the term, ie applicable universally to all local Catholic Churches. One perhaps could have made a case at the time of Trent that the Roman tradition was universal in that the Catholic communion was limited to Western Churches. This style of thinking and speaking was retained in the West even when it had ceased to be true, as most Western Christians in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries never saw an Eastern Christian of any kind. This cannot be said today when there are local Catholic Churches of various Eastern traditions on every continent, not to mention the more numerous Orthodox.
The only course of action which would not offend Eastern Catholics and not a few Orthodox would be to identify the text as a catechism) not of the Universal Church) but of the Roman Church.
This is, in fact, the only possible way to proceed as the tradition of each autonomous ritual Church includes the above mentioned diversity in liturgy, ecclesiastical discipline, and spiritual heritage, as well as in theological expressions of doctrine. It is from this holistic view of tradition that any catechesis must proceed and no one can legitimately expect that any local Church should worship in one tradition and catechize in another.
The Fathers of Vatican II have said that, "the Churches of the East, as much as those of the West, fully enjoy the right and are in duty bound to rule themselves. Each should do so according to its proper and individual procedures..." (OE5). We would submit that this principle indicates that each autonomous ritual Church has the right and duty to formulate a catechism for its own Universal Church, were such a vehicle deemed appropriate to any Eastern tradition. Were such a project to be initiated, there is no doubt that sections of the present text would be called upon to provide a valuable Western witness, but would not be considered normative for any Eastern Catholic Church.
This is not meant to be prejudicial to the pope's universal teaching ministry. However it would seem that the pope himself would wish to exercise this ministry within the above parameters as indicated by his predecessor and the Fathers at Vatican II.