Re: Fr. Alexis Toth
Publicly venerating someone who, though under duress (in a big way he was a victim), left the church, knowingly and defending it in principle, or promoting private veneration of him, crosses the line.
Between sympathy for his victimhood and promoting schism.
It's not precisely a clearcut case. Since we can, I think, all agree that he was badly treated by Archbishop Ireland, even if we agree that he committed the material sin of schism, whether he was guilty of the formal sin of schism is a harder question, given that the duress he was under would militate against his consent.
I thought of that but this wasn't a parishioner who didn't understand the niceties of theology, a good-hearted immigrant just trying to protect his neighborhood's place to pray. Fr. Alexis was a seminary professor. He knew what he was doing and spent the rest of his life promoting schism consciously.
Then the question is, what is a saint... a saint doesn't have to be free from all sins during their lifetime! A saint can make bad decisions and mistakes.
Understood. I'm not saying it's impossible for Fr. Alexis to be in heaven. An excommunication is not "a ticket to hell, no exceptions," contrary to popular belief. It's meant to persuade the person to come back. Canonization is another matter. The church canonizes people who are good examples. So going into schism disqualifies you.
But if we are to follow the "nec plus" rule of St. Pius X, Russian Catholics at least certainly get a whole host of Saints who certainly knew of Catholicism and didn't join it. It's not clear that Fr. Toth is in a worse position than many of those. St. Mark of Ephesus?
As I like to say, born Orthodox get the benefit of the doubt, and a selling point of being Catholic for me is we include them; they don't include us
. So I'm all for St. Pius X's nec plus, nec minus, nec aliter
(as I am of the old latinized form of the rite our people adopted on their own: Catholicism means you don't have to hate one or the other) as understood at the time
, according to Fr. Cyril Korolevsky (né Jean François Charon) translated by our own late Fr. Serge (Keleher): "saints" who actively worked against the church forfeit that benefit
. So Mark of Ephesus is right out in my estimation.
I see respect for those who grew up on either side of the fence, and that same respect for those (like yourself) who have lived on both sides of the fence.
And of course that's great. Like I said, never-Catholic Orthodox get the benefit of the doubt: estranged Catholics.
But, for the most part, I see people echoing Saint John Paul II when he indicated that the only thing that was needed for communion is communion (together with a "tear down that fence" cry to the bishops).
There's an authentic Catholic version of that - the Orthodox give up schism and we bend over backwards to respect their traditions, making sure that what happened to Fr. Alexis and Fr. Orestes Chornock (and DMD's grandpas and dad) never happens again. You bet this reconciliation is a two-way street!
The trouble is too often here the prevailing view seems to be "Vatican II says Catholicism doesn't claim we're the true church anymore so Fr. Alexis et al.
were fine leaving." Tous schismatiques
= NO church! Balamand is referred to as though it were doctrine. "Mad at the Catholics? 'Dox! Both are the true church." The new Greek Catholic who loves the unlatinized form of the rite and is frustrated by Ruthenian or Ukrainian Catholic parish life (not where you want to be if you want unlatinized?) is given an "out" that 1) goes against our teachings and 2) is not fair to the Orthodox, trivializing their true-church claim. But very often the person in this mindset is anti-Western anyway so he buys the Orthodox line. Still, I'm convinced forums like this are partly responsible for nudging such people out of the church.
Greek Catholic laity who preach dissent from the magisterium
online - siding with Orthodox opinion yet not officially leaving the church - are arrogating to themselves the responsibility of priests. The church is not a micromanaging cult - we don't harass laity with wrong opinions. But when you take on the responsibility of a priest, with the Web as your podium or pulpit, before a worldwide audience, if you dissent, then you deserve the consequences, like a priest or theologian. Such laity deserve to have their bishop or maybe just their parish priest say, "Until you stop, I can't give you Communion."
While I would not advocate public veneration of Father Alexis, I will note that the Lord certainly is considerate of those who are hurt by sinful events in the church and trust in His mercy.
That's all I'm trying to say, brother.