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jjp #374274 01/14/12 08:37 PM
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Thank you jjp.

The first post was useful, and I'll address a portion of it.

The second link made my head hurt. http://www.byzcath.org/forums/images/icons/default/cry.gif I hope this thread doesn't deteriorate to that level.

I have difficulty accepting that mortality is the only consequence of the Original sin. I feel that the wantoness to sin that the Apostle Paul speaks of is a carryover from this sin, as every sin has a consequence. To say otherwise is to state that sin is only personal and doesn't harm anyone except the sinner; I believe this is a serious error and is a harmful rationalization.

Forgive my transgression, back to the point. I'm not sure where to go with this without getting into some potential controversy. I think I just have to ponder all this to see how I can reconcile it.

I thank you all for your courteous and helpful posts.

Praying to the Spirit of Truth,
Fr Deacon Paul

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Dear Fr Paul

I think my post talks something of how this could be addressed with an eastern mind, which is to test whether the idea is traditional. I think it is pretty clear that different understandings of the consequences of original sin have a patristic basis, and do not present a particular problem. I think we all agree on that.

Regarding infallibility, tradition and dogma: to the eastern mind, accepting the idea of the Immaculate Conception as traditional as opposed to merely acceptable would require accepting that the Catholic Church identified that it is the ONLY legitimate patristic understanding of the issue. We're clearly not at that point.

I think that this places Eastern Catholics precisely where they are on this board at this point; having a to and fro over the issue. Looking honestly at similarly controversial issues in Church history, we can see that dogmatic pronouncements (again, homoousia is a good example) were followed by instability and debate for a (sometimes) long period of time before final resolutuion. The only two final options for resolution are however acceptance or schism. There is no model in Church history, as far as I can see and particularly in the east, of remaining neutral and in communion. Traditionally, dogmatic pronouncements (which is what this was, for those in the Catholic communion of Churches) have only been accepted or resulted in a rupture in communion.

As a final point about the ex cathedra nature of the proclamation, it should be noted that letters, constitutions, and a range of literary forms appear in collections of Orthodox Canon Law, so the form the document took in this case is not in itself a sign that it should be disregarded.

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jjp #374296 01/15/12 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by jjp

Orthodox View of Immaculate Conception

Quote

The Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God was first promulgated as a dogma of the Roman Catholic Church in the year 1854, by Pope Pius IX. The official statement of it, is as follow:

"The doctrine which declares that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, from the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, was the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore must be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful of the Roman Catholic Church."



The Antiochian Orthodox Church should know better than to misquote Catholic dogma. It really says:

Quote
"We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."

"Declaramus, pronuntiamus et definimus doctrinam quae tenet beatissimam Virginem Mariam in primo instanti suae conceptionis fuisse singulari Omnipotentis Dei gratia et privilegio, intuitu meritorum Christi Jesu Salvatoris humani generis, ab omni originalis culpae labe praeservatam immunem, esse a Deo revelatam, atque idcirco ab omnibus fidelibus firmiter constanterque credendam."

Source: Ineffabilis Deus



Notice in particular that it states that the dogma is to be "believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful." This is intentional. This dogma is not just for the "Roman Catholic faithful." When the Holy Father speaks on faith and morals he does so for all Christians, not just those who accept his authority.

That may not sit well with Orthodox and Protestants, but this is the authority that Christ gave to Peter and his successors.

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There's still some argument over whether Pius IX had the authority to make such a declaration, the doctrine of papal infallibility not having been "defined" yet.

As to whether this authority was given by Christ to the Bishop of Rome, that's an interesting tautology, since the authority to assume the authority is itself assumed. But, in the second millennium at least, Rome has liked to make up the rules as it goes along and impose them on other people. Now, I believe, Pope John Paul II understood what an impediment to unity this presumption created, which is why he wanted others to help derive a better, more effective way of defining and exercising the Petrine Primacy. And, understand this--one cannot call for open discussion on a topic by first placing the topic beyond discussion.

At the end of the day, papal infallibility may or may not survive, but if it does, its form and understanding will be very different from what it is today. Both Leo the Great and Gregory the Great may have, for all I know (or care) considered themselves to be infallible. But they most certainly did not place their own dignity and perquisites above the unity of the Church, which is why unity survived as long as it did. The question is whether the current and future Popes value Christian unity more than they do a largely theoretical power that they themselves are afraid to use.

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Quote
Notice in particular that it states that the dogma is to be "believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful." This is intentional. This dogma is not just for the "Roman Catholic faithful." When the Holy Father speaks on faith and morals he does so for all Christians, not just those who accept his authority.

That may not sit well with Orthodox and Protestants, but this is the authority that Christ gave to Peter and his successors.


As I was saying, it is not the interpretation of original sin and its implications in the conception of the Theotokos that non-Roman Catholics have an issue with, but the above presumption that this interpretation, alien to the early Church fathers, is normative across Christendom.

If the Pope truly desires the position that is being ascribed to him here, one might think he would not declare infallible theological concepts unique to one area of the Universal Church. The evidence is pretty clear that doing so hinders, rather than nourishes, mutual love and unity.

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Quote
I think that this places Eastern Catholics precisely where they are on this board at this point; having a to and fro over the issue. Looking honestly at similarly controversial issues in Church history, we can see that dogmatic pronouncements (again, homoousia is a good example) were followed by instability and debate for a (sometimes) long period of time before final resolutuion. The only two final options for resolution are however acceptance or schism. There is no model in Church history, as far as I can see and particularly in the east, of remaining neutral and in communion. Traditionally, dogmatic pronouncements (which is what this was, for those in the Catholic communion of Churches) have only been accepted or resulted in a rupture in communion.


Glory to Jesus Christ!

"Acceptance or schism?" No, not really. I think God had a reason to allow Eastern Churches to be in communion with Rome. God's measure of time is not like ours...total communion may appear to be slow, but it is better than trying to rush it like the Council of Florence. Vatican II made a major change in Western thinking by declaring our Churches to be equal to Rome. That's rather earthshaking, don't you think? Yes, we are still treated as subordinate to the Papacy, but who can imagine what things may have been like otherwise.

Let's take for example a pronouncement of the Theotokos as Co-Redemptrix. In a different age and situation it may have happened, driving another wedge between West and East. Rome is now cognizant and respectful of our Tradition. Speculate in your own mind how the controversy between the MP and Rome with regard to the rightful restoration of our millenium-old Churches in Europe could have exploded into unending arguing and vindictiveness.

I will remain Eastern Christian and accept the Pope as my Patriarch (no lectures, please, over my terminology.)

Your brother in Christ,
Fr Deacon Paul

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Originally Posted by Paul B
I have difficulty accepting that mortality is the only consequence of the Original sin. I feel that the wantoness to sin that the Apostle Paul speaks of is a carryover from this sin, as every sin has a consequence. To say otherwise is to state that sin is only personal and doesn't harm anyone except the sinner; I believe this is a serious error and is a harmful rationalization.

It is mortality, which all men receive from Adam, that inspires men to sin as they try to prolong their lives.

Now as far as your problems with the Eastern viewpoint are concerned, I suppose they are similar to the problems that I have with the Western tendency to say that all men are conceived and born guilty and sinful, which as I see it mirrors the Manichaean view of evil as somehow essential to humanity.

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Is it a good and pious belief to say that Mary was sinless throughout her life? Yes.

Is that proposition a dogma? No.

The Immaculate Conception theory leads to problems that have no solution within Patristic Tradition, especially the notion that Mary was impeccable (i.e., unable to sin). I know of no Church Father who ever asserted such a thing about the Theotokos. In fact, quite the opposite is true, since some Church Fathers (e.g., St. John Chrysostom) taught that Mary committed sins on occasion.

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Please take cognizance of the cynical self-interest in defining the dogma in order to foreclose any real discussion of infallibility. The exchange between the Jesuits at Civilta`Cattolica and Pio Nono is part of the historical record. Another reason why his recent beatification was nothing short of scandalous!

jjp #374311 01/16/12 12:30 AM
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Originally Posted by jjp
As I was saying, it is not the interpretation of original sin and its implications in the conception of the Theotokos that non-Roman Catholics have an issue with, but the above presumption that this interpretation, alien to the early Church fathers, is normative across Christendom.

I agree. Although it is important that Western Christians avoid the tendency to speak about the original sin as a thing that is somehow inherent to all men, because that has Manichaean connotations.

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Originally Posted by danman916
I would be a little careful with Anthony Dragani. He had a novel idea about "final theosis" being purgatory as a way to reconcile East and West. He was vastly criticized by the Orthodox since there is no such thing as "final" theosis. On this error, I would be cautious in what I read from him.


Hi danman. In that regard, you'll be glad to know that http://www.east2west.org/doctrine.htm#Purgatory now has this note at the bottom:

Quote
Please note: Eastern theology teaches that theosis is an infinite process, and does not cease when a person enters into heaven. The term "final theosis" is not intended to imply otherwise.


See also http://www.byzcath.org/forums/ubbthreads.php/topics/333029/Dragani#Post333029

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Originally Posted by desertman
I must say I'm a bit shocked by these statements shocked Forgive me for being blunt, but does the Holy Spirit act through the Church when solemn doctrinal definitions are made - or not? I understand the term "Immaculate Conception" doesn't necessarily fit the East, but nevertheless it seems like the truth of the sinlessness of the Theotokos is no longer up for discussion among Catholics. Am I missing something?


Yes, the Holy Spirit does act through the Church when declaring solemn definitions of the Catholic faith; therefore, when one opposes accepting revealed truth by God, then they are opposing the Holy Spirit. That's what it boils down to.

Some would rather be their own "magisteriums" than follow the teaching magisterium which Christ Himself established. Very sad. frown

Some do not accept the dogma of Immaculate Conception because it "doesn't go with patristic teaching". Excuse me, but is it the Fathers of the Church whom we follow or is it Christ? If Christ teaches us through the teaching authority of His Church that his holy and Immaculate Mother was conceived without sin, then are we not to accept it in humility and obedience?

How can we say we are in union/communion with the Pope of Rome and deny what the Pope of Rome teaches us? Reality check, people!

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I own several Orthodox prayer books, published by several different jurisdictions. These prayer books refer to the Theotokos, repeatedly, as "stainless", "without stain", "spotless", "without corruption", "sinless", "blameless", "all-blameless one" , "all holy (panagia)", and so on. The Jordanville prayer book (ROCOR) repeatedly reads "O only immaculate one" as due some others.

For another "reality check" I think that some Catholics who stir up trouble with regards to the I.C. dogmatic pronunciation (vis-a-vis East and West), simply don't get it.

Let us not, in the spirit of Christian charity, stir up trouble where trouble does not really exist.

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Originally Posted by Apotheoun
Originally Posted by Paul B
I have difficulty accepting that mortality is the only consequence of the Original sin. I feel that the wantoness to sin that the Apostle Paul speaks of is a carryover from this sin, as every sin has a consequence. To say otherwise is to state that sin is only personal and doesn't harm anyone except the sinner; I believe this is a serious error and is a harmful rationalization.

It is mortality, which all men receive from Adam, that inspires men to sin as they try to prolong their lives.

Now as far as your problems with the Eastern viewpoint are concerned, I suppose they are similar to the problems that I have with the Western tendency to say that all men are conceived and born guilty and sinful, which as I see it mirrors the Manichaean view of evil as somehow essential to humanity.


We would be remiss to remember that the Evil One, the Deceiver, deceives us when we are weak. As I said in my introduction, the body is good because God said it is. When we are weak, the Liar doesn't have to tempt us very much; when we are strong through God's graces he works with diligence to get us to sin...but who is there without sin?

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Originally Posted by Paul B
Vatican II made a major change in Western thinking by declaring our Churches to be equal to Rome. That's rather earthshaking, don't you think? Yes, we are still treated as subordinate to the Papacy, but who can imagine what things may have been like otherwise.


I've said before that I'm not convinced that the Churches were not treated ecclesiologically any differently prior to VII than after, and I reaffirm this. I don't believe that the Eastern Churches were not regarded as Churches prior to VII, and suggest any cursory reading of Fortescue's or Attwater's books, the Catholic Encyclopedia prior to Vatican II or the documents of Vatican II (particularly OE, which mis-uses the term rite interchangeably with Church to mean exactly the same thing, which is how I believe the term was always mis-used) will show. I have written on this exhaustively previously, and nobody has yet demonstrated precisely which section of any Vatican II document supports the fact that a "change" took place. The offer is still open if you'd like to do this. I maintain that the documents on the eastern churches do not contain any statement of change because they do not need to; the eastern Churches were always regarded as Churches and still are. I believe that Orientalium Ecclesiarum deals with external practices and customs only, and I have yet to be shown that it doesn't, or that it needed to.

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