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Hello everyone,

I am new to the forum.

I was just curious to know if anyone here has ever been in the middle of all the debate between the Eastern Orthodoxy and the Roman Catholics on who is correct in their beliefs. I am currently crossing that line, and I have to admit that the Eastern Orthodox have much more intellectual reasoning backing their arguments, from both Scripture, Tradition, and the early Church Fathers.

I am still western, latin rite, Roman Catholic, born/baptized and raised.

Could anyone share their strong reasons for not being Eastern Orthodox, and rather being Roman Catholic?

This also gets into the question of the theory of the development of doctrine. I find it very difficult to believe that doctrine can change, and I feel as though the "doctrinal development" in Roman Catholicism is just another way of covering over the vast differences of belief from the first centuries to the present.

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CommunioCatholic:

Christ is in our midst!!

Welcome to the forum.

Quote
I was just curious to know if anyone here has ever been in the middle of all the debate between the Eastern Orthodoxy and the Roman Catholics on who is correct in their beliefs. I am currently crossing that line, and I have to admit that the Eastern Orthodox have much more intellectual reasoning backing their arguments, from both Scripture, Tradition, and the early Church Fathers.


We have had many people come here to wrestle with the spiritual situation you seem to be in. I think you will find that you will have to find the path that the Lord wills for you on your own. We have members here from all of the Eastern Churches, both in the Roman Communion, the Orthdoox Communion, and the Oriental Orthodox Communion--not mention Latin Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and various Protestant members.

We are here to grow together and to grow in our understanding of each other. As such, you will find that arguments over who is right and who is wrong have no place here. You might profit from your membership if you go to the "sticky" thread entitled "Who We Are," authored by one of our moderators. We are all here trying to find our way to to help each other as best we can. We can disagree, but we insist that charity, above all, be maintained in our exchanges.

Bob
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Originally Posted by CommunioCatholic

Could anyone share their strong reasons for not being Eastern Orthodox,

Hi. I think it's hard to entirely say why; but I like to stress that, while I haven't left Caholicism for Orthodoxy, neither did I leave Orthodoxy for C-ism. (I'm a cradle C.)

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Well, I remain Eastern Catholic or an Orthodox Catholic Christian in union with Rome because this has always been my Church, the Church of my family and cultural community, a Church for which a number of my relatives suffered and also died for.

That is on an emotional/social level, however.

From my own personal point of view, I don't see any real difference between Orthodoxy and Catholicism, save for the Petrine Ministry issue.

The "vast differences" between Rome and Orthodoxy - could you explain exactly what they are and how they invalidate union between the Churches?

St Mark of Ephesus, when he went to Florence, believed reunion could be effected if Rome simply dropped the Filioque from the Creed. Fr. John Meyendorff (+memory eternal!) wrote that union could have been re-established if the Filioque was dropped by Rome and then the two sides could have agreed that the Holy Spirit proceeds "from the Father through the Son." Period.

The Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God is simply the later Western way of getting around the Augustinian view on Original Sin. As the East didn't like Augustine's view, it had no inclination to make such a definition. Both sides agree she was Most Holy and Ever-Holy. Nothing more need be said about that.

The West and East developed differently theologically, canonically etc.

To say that "development of doctrine" somehow "adds" to what was revealed in the Apostolic age is - nonsense.

Most Protestants today will say that Orthodoxy is just as "guilty" of adding on more than "the Gospel will allow" to Christian faith.

Development of doctrine simply means the articulation of the faith once delivered to the Church by Christ through the Holy Spirit etc.

That was a slow development - usually precipitated by heretics who denied what was always lived and practiced by the Church.

The Seventh Ecumneical Council defined the veneration of icons in a way that was not articulated theologically earlier in the Church. That does not mean the Church didn't always venerate images/icons. Or that icons were not present already in the Jewish Temple at Jerusalem - e.g. the figures of the angels on the Ark of the Covenant, the veneration of the staff of Aaron that budded, even the veneration paid to the bronze snake that Moses suspended on a pole in the desert that miraculously cured Israelites of the poisonous bites of the vipers they encountered as they ran to it etc.

Doctrinal development and theological precision occurs in every age of the Church. The West and East say much the same thing using different terminology.

The problem was that the West tended to impose its own Particular ecclesial theology on the East - which the East, rightfully, rejected.

Politics also had and has a lot to do with the enduring separation of the Churches, not only West from East, but also between Eastern and Oriental Orthodox.

There is NO theological difference between those two families of Orthodox churches as their ecumenical commission affirmed. Yet, the Church authorities haven't acted on any of their recommendations - and why?

Is it also because of certain critical issues of theology and praxis that are destined to keep those two families of Churches separated from one another for another 1800 years?

The problem with taking a strictly theological view of such matters is that too much is read into theology and too little into historical/social/cultural/political issues.

We like to talk alot about ideas and we become, as the Jews say, "luftmensches" with our heads in the air.

As Fr. Meyendorff demonstrated, unity between East and West when the opportunity was had at Florence didn't come to fruition.

Religious doctrine was only one of the reasons why.

Alex

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Originally Posted by Orthodox Catholic




Religious doctrine was only one of the reasons why.

Alex


Said remains true today, sadly....

Centuries of vitriolic polemics and amplification.east and west - which today we call "spin" - have further complicated matters as well.

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Originally Posted by CommunioCatholic
I am currently crossing that line, and I have to admit that the Eastern Orthodox have much more intellectual reasoning backing their arguments, from both Scripture, Tradition, and the early Church Fathers.


I do not desire to convince anyone to make faith-based decisions. It is the Holy Spirit who will bring you to where you need to be. My journey was rather typical. I was born and raised Latin Catholic. At one time I had a great love for the Traditional Latin Mass. I became disillusioned by the Second Vatican Council (for many reasons). I fell away from the faith completely. I was reborn when introduced to the Eastern Catholic Church and fell in love with her Liturgy and mystical phronema. I began to devour everything I could get my hands on regarding Church history, Great Councils, and the holy fathers. I came to a point where I was no longer accepting some of the doctrines of the Latin/Eastern Catholic Church: Papal infallibility/supremacy, purgatory, and Immaculate Conception. And the filioque was a problem for me (I attended an Eastern Catholic Church for a while which continued to add the filioque in the creed).

I am familiar with the endless debates involving all these subjects and I no longer care to participate in those debates because it usually results in mutual insults. If you are truly drawn to the Holy Orthodox Church.....I recommend you speak with an Orthodox priest or bishop.

However, I mostly disagree that the Eastern Churches have "much more intellectual reasoning" than the West. The East can certainly hold her own in the apologetics arena.......but much of the time our answer is simply: "It's a mystery!" grin

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Originally Posted by Recluse
Originally Posted by CommunioCatholic
I am currently crossing that line, and I have to admit that the Eastern Orthodox have much more intellectual reasoning backing their arguments, from both Scripture, Tradition, and the early Church Fathers.


I do not desire to convince anyone to make faith-based decisions. It is the Holy Spirit who will bring you to where you need to be. My journey was rather typical. I was born and raised Latin Catholic. At one time I had a great love for the Traditional Latin Mass. I became disillusioned by the Second Vatican Council (for many reasons). I fell away from the faith completely. I was reborn when introduced to the Eastern Catholic Church and fell in love with her Liturgy and mystical phronema. I began to devour everything I could get my hands on regarding Church history, Great Councils, and the holy fathers. I came to a point where I was no longer accepting some of the doctrines of the Latin/Eastern Catholic Church: Papal infallibility/supremacy, purgatory, and Immaculate Conception. And the filioque was a problem for me (I attended an Eastern Catholic Church for a while which continued to add the filioque in the creed).

I am familiar with the endless debates involving all these subjects and I no longer care to participate in those debates because it usually results in mutual insults. If you are truly drawn to the Holy Orthodox Church.....I recommend you speak with an Orthodox priest or bishop.

However, I mostly disagree that the Eastern Churches have "much more intellectual reasoning" than the West. The East can certainly hold her own in the apologetics arena.......but much of the time our answer is simply: "It's a mystery!" grin


I am on the same path as the OP and I couldn't have put the arguments as well as you did Recluse!

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But what are the arguments exactly?

I've tried to consider Orthodoxy (i.e. not in communion with Rome) by looking at the same articles of faith etc. I didn't see any differences that could justify the separation of Churches.

Since Christ and the Apostles, there was one, undivided Church for a thousand years. In that undivided Church, there was a primacy of the Bishop of Rome.

Also, the argument that "I couldn't accept" this or that doctrine is based on . . . what? How can what we feel be a standard for whether we accept this or that aspect of faith?

What if I couldn't accept the doctrine of the Trinity? Or felt inclined to accept Calvinism?

I'm not disputing the fact that there are Catholics who become Orthodox and vice-versa.

But from the perspective of faith, if we can no longer accept this or that aspect of it - isn't it not because the faith or Church itself is somehow defective, but that there is something lacking in us?

And I've come across this argument from many converts throughout my life.

My point is that what WE feel or what WE think we can no longer accept can NEVER be a standard of guidance in this matter.

So how do we go about understanding these matters? What is the standard of faith? What do we accept one and not another? What about prelest?

If an Eastern Catholic comes to doubt certain dogmas of Catholicism - what is the standard which guides him or her in this? How can we protect ourselves against making changes in our lives of faith that are genuine and not simply because we "just don't feel" like believing them etc.?

I'm not telling, I'm asking. These questions have kept me in the Orthodox Catholic faith in union with Rome.

Alex

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Originally Posted by Orthodox Catholic
I didn't see any differences that could justify the separation of Churches.


I respect that. I saw many differences.

Originally Posted by Orthodox Catholic
Since Christ and the Apostles, there was one, undivided Church for a thousand years. In that undivided Church, there was a primacy of the Bishop of Rome.


In my studies, I did not see infallibility /supremacy.

Originally Posted by Orthodox Catholic
Also, the argument that "I couldn't accept" this or that doctrine is based on . . . what?


Again, I can only speak for my own journey. My conversion was based on extensive study of Sacred Scripture, the writings of the holy fathers, the Great Councils, Canons, and Church history. It really wasn't an argument for me (although I did my share of arguing). It was more like a process.

Originally Posted by Orthodox Catholic
What if I couldn't accept the doctrine of the Trinity?


I suppose you would be considered a heretic?

Originally Posted by Orthodox Catholic
Or felt inclined to accept Calvinism?


Ditto.

Originally Posted by Orthodox Catholic
But from the perspective of faith, if we can no longer accept this or that aspect of it - isn't it not because the faith or Church itself is somehow defective, but that there is something lacking in us?


The Church is without blemish....and of course, we are all wretched sinners.

Originally Posted by Orthodox Catholic
My point is that what WE feel or what WE think we can no longer accept can NEVER be a standard of guidance in this matter.


For most converts that I know,(myself included), it was not about an intuitive feeling....or a random thought process. It was through serious prayer, discernment, study, and counsel with an experienced spiritual father.

Originally Posted by Orthodox Catholic
So how do we go about understanding these matters?


Dialogue with a priest or bishop is extremely helpful.

Originally Posted by Orthodox Catholic
What about prelest?


Prelest is a dangerous condition. That is why it is important to reveal everything to one's spiritual father.


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Originally Posted by Orthodox Catholic

Since Christ and the Apostles, there was one, undivided Church for a thousand years. In that undivided Church, there was a primacy of the Bishop of Rome.


Alex:

Christ is in our midst!!

I think the isuse of primacy is something that will continue to be a stumbling block. No one disputes that there was a primacy in the first millenium. No one seems to be able to explain what form it took or how it was exercised. There seem to be many texts and historical actions that can, and are, argued for one or the other position regarding its form and exercise.

Everyone can agree that the present form of the Roman primacy has been developed into something that does not fit the form and exercise that it had in the first millenium. And therein lies the perpetual problem.

If one considers that there are extant documents of bishops telling the Bishop of Rome to mind his own business when he attempted to intervene in the affairs of other sees--St. Augustine included--then one is at pains to equate that with the claims of Vatican I.

In my own opinion, a far-removed issue such as the primacy issue isn't what moves one to move from one to another of the Churches. It seems to me, from reading many stories here and having discussed this with many others, that there are other issues that impact the decision that are of greater import in the pilgrimage of the one moving.

Here's a link posted some time ago on this forum about the issue from the Orthodox side.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/95109386/Roman-Primacy-Vsevolod

Bob

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Dear Recluse,

Thank you for your thoughtful and painstaking response!

You clear up a number of issues for me.

But still, with respect to an Eastern Catholic rejecting this or that aspect of his or her faith - it must be, and you have shown that it is, based on more than one's inclnination.

While I too see differences between Catholicism and Orthodoxy - I don't believe they are such that could justify the separation of Churches with good will and a keen desire for unity at a union Council which could be called for that purpose.

I'm very happy where I am in terms of the UGCC and the communion of EC Churches. It pains me that we are separated.

And the difficulties of achieving reunion are not, I believe insurmountable.

We all need to imitate Christ in our respective Churches - and we will eventually become one in Him.

Alex

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Dear Bob,

Absolutely there are other and varied issues. But not all of them are such that they would justify the separation of Churches or truly justify moving over from one to another.

The reason I dislike the paradigm of the "convert" in the Othodox-Catholic world is that it harms, in my view, the process of reunion.

It emphasizes what, in my own view, should not be emphasized, namely, the differences between the Churches.

Recluse above said that it is important to speak to a priest. I agree. But priests on both sides might have their own view and would want to "pull" the person approaching him away from his Church over to his own. I don't think that is helpful at all, whether one is Orthodox or Catholic.

It means that regardless of how "close" the two sides are to each other, they still treat one another as being less than fully the Church of the Apostles - which both most certainly are.

There are differences between the two - and one could venture to say that the differences will largely remain as theologoumena after reunion. They are not now nor ever were sufficient reasons justifying the separation of Churches.

As for the papacy - it will always remain in need of change and it will change, for better or worse (depending on one's perspective) over time.

Development of doctrine has been ongoing even throughout the first millennium in terms of the articulation of doctrine, Christology, Triadology, Theotokology, iconography etc.

The same would be true for the papacy and I think the current papacy has come a long way. It has further to go.

The point is that no one seriously believes a united future Church can be without the papacy/petrine ministry.

And just because we are in communion with Rome doesn't mean we are destined to accept an unchanging status quo forever because "Roma Locuta."

One might also make the argument that a primacy continued to exist in the Orthodox Catholic Eastern Church in the form of strong political, rather than ecclesial, leadership (as it indeed did prior to 1054 re: Byzantine emperors).

There always is some sort of primate.

It is just that there are those who would prefer that it be the Bishop of Rome.

Just my thoughts sir!

Alex

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Originally Posted by Orthodox Catholic
While I too see differences between Catholicism and Orthodoxy - I don't believe they are such that could justify the separation of Churches with good will and a keen desire for unity at a union Council which could be called for that purpose.


I respectfully disagree, Alex. Some of the issues are less divisive than others, but the role of the papacy is the most pressing issue. I do not see it as being resolved in the near future. But that is only my opinion.

Originally Posted by Orthodox Catholic
I'm very happy where I am in terms of the UGCC and the communion of EC Churches.


I am also happy that you are being spiritually nourished there. But I beg you...please do not marginalize those who have found a home in the Holy Orthodox Church by implying that their conversion process may be based on “prelest.”

Although perhaps I have misunderstood your words.

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Dear Recluse,

It was not my intention to accuse anyone of prelest! God forbid!

I'm only trying to understand why conversion might seem necessary when it comes to Catholics and Orthodox (and such conversions can be perfectly legitimate and authentic things, to be sure).

One could also convert for the wrong reason (again, no reference to anyone personally).

In North America, where we have a consumer culture which influences people greatly, choosing a religion or a Church could in some cases be a lot like that.

Picking and choosing this Church or that can become very much like shopping for the best brand of a product, the perfect brand.

We could be on the lookout for a brand of Church that satisfies one personally because it answers needs that may or may not have anything to do with religion in the first place.

"Prelest" in such hypothetical cases could be a kind of labouring under the misapprehension that we need to get that perfect brand of religion to make us happy and "fulfilled."

Perhaps North American prelest is the most insidious of all. We don't like to find fault with ourselves, our sinfulness etc. because the process of repentance and self-renewal is too daunting as it places "blame" for our unhappy state on . . . ourselves alone.

If only we can find that true Church, that true theology - all else will be well.

No one is saying that there isn't a true Church. It is only that the Church isn't perfect, whether Catholic or Orthodox. No parish is perfect and no bishop is either.

If we want to settle for nothing less than such perfection - we will be playing musical churches/parishes for somem time to come.

And that is what I mean by the North American "convert mentality." It doesn't mean there are no true converts or conversions.

But it MIGHT mean that conversion is less about our search for the true Church - meaning the Church/parish where we will find perfect contentment and there is no such place - but something that is all about our own taking up of our cross and carrying it with Christ.

Whether we are Catholic or Orthodox, we cannot shrink from the Cross. Conversion then is about enduring the pain and suffering that comes our way. It is about rejecting "conversion" as prelest when what "conversion" means is to find an external eclesial "perfection" that somehow will ease the personal burden of the cross which we are to carry or else will give us the security that suffering invariably destroys.

Conversion is a life-long process and it brings with it insecurity, pain, suffering, disappointment and struggle. There is nothing "happy" about that.

But that is what true conversion of heart and of life is really all about.

I daresay it is because Churches have refused to focus on this ultimate and only authentic form of "conversion" that led to the divisions among them.

Without the conversion of the carring of the cross in our lives, no Church to which we belong will be of much help to us.

If anything, the search for a church/parish that will be our perfect brand will obfuscate what the life in Christ is really all about.

Saint John Paul II of Rome was a pope. His life of dedication to Christ in the midst of great suffering witnessed to Christ in a very powerful way.

Many Christians who were not Catholics were united in their experience of his commitment to the Cross of Christ in his life.

And that was more significant than whether or not we felt we were successful in having "found" the true this or that.

Truth and love is in Christ and Him crucified. Whether I'm Catholic or Orthodox, I wouldn't focus on which was "true" in the end.

Our Lord would have me focus on following Him in the Church in which I already was. All else could be a serious distraction from that.

I now need to pray and reflect on these thoughts and the night is, I find, the best time in which to encounter the living God.

May God bless you, my holy brother, Recluse, and your family!

I write this not to be offensive, but as part of my own inner struggle of faith in our Lord, God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Alex

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Originally Posted by Orthodox Catholic
Since Christ and the Apostles, there was one, undivided Church for a thousand years. In that undivided Church, there was a primacy of the Bishop of Rome.

Hmmm ... I think I would be wary of taking the standard arguments against protestants (in this case, the ol' "Protestants didn't exist in the first 1500 years of the church, and Christians were all united on Blank." argument) and adapting them for use on the Orthodox. blush wink

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