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Posted By: MengTzu Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/11/12 11:09 PM
Dear all,

I'm sure this has been asked many times, and I'm sorry if this is a sensitive topic, but I'm struggling to find a precise answer. What is the obligation of an Eastern Catholic in accepting Post-Schism Dogmas (e.g., Immaculate Conception)?
Posted By: theophan Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/11/12 11:13 PM
MengTzu:

Christ is Born!! Glorify Him!!

Welcome to the forum. You'll find various answers to that question here. My brothers and sisters will be posting shortly. You might also consult a Catholic priest of one of the sui juris Churches in the Catholic Communion for that answer, too.

Bob
Moderator
Posted By: griego catolico Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/12/12 12:15 AM
MengTzu,

Welcome!

As theophan mentioned, you will most likely get various answers to your question, but I am sure you would want what the magisterium officially teaches.

So, please read the motu proio by Blessed John Paul II, Ad Tuendam Fidem.
Posted By: The young fogey Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/12/12 01:22 AM
Short answer: a Catholic is a Catholic. Greek Catholics officially accept all the post-schism defined doctrines.

Rank-and-file ethnic Greek Catholics: 'We're the same.'

Nuance of that: the high-church Greek Catholics who are as Orthodox as can be, like Rome wants, but are loyal Catholics explain those doctrines in as Byzantine a way as possible. Good ecumenical work? (Small minority of Greek Catholics; usually not ethnic; Roman Riters who've come over.)

The 'Orthodox in communion with Rome' look like the high-church Greek Catholics but say they don't really follow Rome where it differs from the Orthodox. (Even smaller minority than the high-church Greek Catholics.)
Posted By: StuartK Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/12/12 01:24 AM
The Young Fogey continually makes the mistake of thinking that all Greek Catholics are Ruthenians or Ruthenian-like. I suggest he come visit some of my Melkite brethren to get a somewhat different perspective.
Posted By: The young fogey Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/12/12 01:32 AM
Every Ukrainian Catholic I've known in 30 years is like that. You have a point that the Melkites, from the ecclesiastically fluid Syria, might be more easygoing about those doctrines. (Then again so are ethnic Bad Catholics everywhere: they don't know or don't care but don't intend to defy the church.) I've been to Transfiguration, McLean, and liked it.
Posted By: likethethief Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/12/12 02:41 AM
Originally Posted by MengTzu
Dear all,

I'm sure this has been asked many times, and I'm sorry if this is a sensitive topic, but I'm struggling to find a precise answer. What is the obligation of an Eastern Catholic in accepting Post-Schism Dogmas (e.g., Immaculate Conception)?


Welcome to Bycath Forum!

I'm a fan of the interviews Catherine Alexander did several years ago with the monks of Holy Resurrection Monastery on various topics available on Your Word from the Wise. Abbot Nicholas speaks in a basic way on this topic in the interview "Eastern Catholic Theology" PART 1 and PART 2. I recommend also the "Who are Eastern Catholics?" with Fr. Maximos PART 1 and PART 2.

In each segment if you click on the "Show More" link below the video you can see a list of all the questions Catherine asks and the monks respond to in that particular video.
Posted By: desertman Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/12/12 06:04 PM
Originally Posted by griego catolico

So, please read the motu proio by Blessed John Paul II, Ad Tuendam Fidem.


I've never read this before - thanks for posting. An interesting excerpt:

Quote
B) Canon 598 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches will now have two paragraphs: the first will present the text of the existing canon and the second will contain a new text. Thus canon 598, in its complete form, will read as follows:

Canon 598 – § 1. Those things are to be believed by divine and catholic faith which are contained in the word of God as it has been written or handed down by tradition, that is, in the single deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and which are at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn Magisterium of the Church, or by its ordinary and universal Magisterium, which in fact is manifested by the common adherence of Christ’s faithful under the guidance of the sacred Magisterium. All Christian faithful are therefore bound to avoid any contrary doctrines.

§ 2. Furthermore, each and everything set forth definitively by the Magisterium of the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals must be firmly accepted and held; namely, those things required for the holy keeping and faithful exposition of the deposit of faith; therefore, anyone who rejects propositions which are to be held definitively sets himself against the teaching of the Catholic Church.


Posted By: MengTzu Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/12/12 07:15 PM
Thank you for all the answers. Let me know if the following statement accurately describes the Church's position: Eastern Catholics must accept the substance of these doctrines, although their understanding of them can based on their own theological traditions, which may differ conceptually and linguistically from the Latin theological traditions, in the context of which these doctrines had been defined.
Posted By: Michael_Thoma Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/12/12 08:11 PM
It seems like both these Canons have to do with issues in the west - protestantism and to the other extreme, schisms with SSPX,etc.

It changes nothing in regard to the East, as her bishops are in union with the Holy Father and have not condemned the statements (such as above) as erroneous - to the contrary, some have stated these as revealed Truth and legitimate Traditions of a particular Church.
Posted By: Paul B Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/12/12 11:39 PM
Please have patience with my ignorance, but....

Is the Immaculate Conception (that Mary, daughter of Joachim and Anna was conceived without sin) considered heresy by any canonical Orthodox Church?

Please answer based strictly upon the above, without any consideration of the "original sin" argument.

I'm looking forward to your answers.

Christ is amongst us!
Fr Deacon Paul
Posted By: desertman Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/13/12 12:37 AM
Here is something from a Melkite Bishop that may shed some light on your question:

http://www.melkite.org/Questions/R-9.htm





Posted By: griego catolico Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/13/12 01:14 AM
Originally Posted by desertman
Here is something from a Melkite Bishop that may shed some light on your question:

http://www.melkite.org/Questions/R-9.htm


My favorite part of his answer:
Quote
There is no 'Eastern truth' vs 'Western truth'. Truth is one. It may be articulated according to various cultural expressions, but truth is super-cultural. Truth should not be restricted by "party line" positions. We should accept or reject ideas for their worth and not for an artificial attachment to a given "identity." The Church teaches truth. If something is true, it would be absurd to say "Oh, we don't believe that in the East." This seems to be where we get short-circuited in ecumenical "dialogue." All too frequently, such "dialogue" seems to presuppose a relativism where you speak "your truth" and I'll speak "my truth" and we'll just leave it at that. A sort of ecumenical schizophrenia.
Posted By: Job Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/13/12 01:14 AM
Quote
Is the Immaculate Conception (that Mary, daughter of Joachim and Anna was conceived without sin) considered heresy by any canonical Orthodox Church?


I can't speak for any canonical Orthodox Church...however, I can't even consider an answer to this unless you define what is meant by "conceived without sin". Based on the countless discussions that have gone on about this I think the definition of what you are asking is important so all are on the same page...
Posted By: Rybak Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/13/12 03:32 AM
Doesn't this discussion, ultimately, lead us to one of the fundamental differences in perspective/theology between East and West - Western Christianity's propensity to categorize and define everything and Eastern Christianity's desire to "let the Mystery be" - esp. if it is an issue undefined by early councils?
Posted By: Paul B Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/13/12 05:10 AM
Originally Posted by Job
Quote
Is the Immaculate Conception (that Mary, daughter of Joachim and Anna was conceived without sin) considered heresy by any canonical Orthodox Church?


I can't speak for any canonical Orthodox Church...however, I can't even consider an answer to this unless you define what is meant by "conceived without sin". Based on the countless discussions that have gone on about this I think the definition of what you are asking is important so all are on the same page...


Please take the phrase literally. Is it heretical to consider the Mother of God to be conceived without sin?

Without exception, no one claims that the Virgin is not Divine, she is human. The Catholic Church believes without doubt that she is sinless, that the Tabernacle of God could not have been stained, but is all pure.

The conviction of many Orthodox (my impression) is that she, as human, was saved by the sacrifice of Christ, as was the entire human race; but, other than the stain of Adam and Eve, she is sinless.

If I have erred in the opposing Orthodox belief, please correct me. This is the way that I recall it proposed by one of our Orthodox professors at the Seminary.

The importance of the question (to me, personally) is that I can't understand why there is so much resistance to the dogma. I'm speaking of the belief itself, excluding the "infallibility" issue. Personally I profess to the Immaculate Conception belief, and would not have any problem with it even if I were not clergy.

Your brother in Christ,
Fr Deacon Paul
Posted By: jjp Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/13/12 06:25 AM
I don't think there is resistence to the dogma per se. I think there is resistence to the "infallible" label attached to it. Don't confuse the two.

St. John Chrysostom, no less, wondered whether the Theotokos sinned. Would you consider it heresy to entertain this theologumenon?
Posted By: Craig Dunford Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/13/12 07:41 AM
Dear Paul B,

You might be interested in this answer, which was offered by Anthony Dragani on the Catholic Answers forum (EWTN) a number of years ago:

"Concerning the Eastern Catholic understanding of the Immaculate Conception, I will offer a very brief summary of the issue. First, the theological seeds of the Immaculate Conception originated in the East, and were later spread to the West. Since the earliest centuries the Eastern Churches have celebrated "St. Anne's Conception of the Theotokos," on December 9. Only later was this feast transplanted to the West, where it is celebrated on December 8.

In the Eastern Catholic Churches we have maintained much of the theological heritage of the Eastern Church Fathers. We try to be very Patristic in our theology, and generally model our theological approach after the great Eastern Fathers. In the West theology has developed somewhat differently. Beginning in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries a whole new style of theology developed, known as Scholasticism. Scholasticism utilized a great deal of philosophical terminology from the writings of Aristotle. It essentially created a whole new way to approach theological questions, and answered them with very specific philosophical terminology. Scholasticism was the dominant theological system in the Western Church until the beginning of the 20th century.

In 1854 Pope Pius IX solemnly proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Being a good Western theologian, he used a great deal of scholastic terminology in the definition. Here it is, with the specifically scholastic terms emphasized by me:

"We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which asserts that the Blessed Virgin Mary, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God, and in view of the MERITS of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from every STAIN of original sin is a doctrine revealed by God and, for this reason, must be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful."

There are two terms used in the definition that are completely foreign to Eastern Christian theology: "merits" and "stain." Both of these terms are of very late origin, and came to mean very specific things in the scholastic system. But to us Eastern Christians, who still use only the theological expressions of the Church Fathers, these terms are completely alien. So is this a problem, or isn't it?

I don't believe that this a problem at all. If something is written in a language that you can't understand, you simply TRANSLATE it! With some very basic knowledge of scholastic theological terminology, what Pope Pius IX is saying becomes very obvious: From the very first momemnt of her existence, Mary was miraculously preserved from all sin. We Easterns would go even a step further: she wasn't just preserved from sin, but was graced with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Also, the definition speaks of Mary being "free from every stain of original sin." In the East we have always spoken of Mary's perfect holiness. The language "free from every stain of original sin" is really a somewhat negative formulation in comparison. In fact, this definition speaks of Mary as being "absent of something (the stain of sin)," while we would prefer to speak of her as being "full of something (the Holy Spirit)." In this regard I think that the Eastern approach makes a marvelous contribution to the understanding of this dogma. So does Pope John Paul II:

"In fact, the negative formulation of the Marian privilege, which resulted from the earlier controversies about original sin that arose in the West, must always be complemented by the positive expression of Mary's holiness more explicitly stressed in the Eastern tradition." (Pope John Paul II, General Audience June 12, 1996)

So, the Holy Father agrees that the Eastern understanding of the Immaculate Conception actually helps to elucidate the meaning behind the definition."

Best regards (and a very happy new year!)

Craig
Posted By: The young fogey Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/13/12 02:23 PM
Eastern Orthodoxy has very few defined doctrines, which come from the first seven ecumenical councils: Trinity, Jesus is true God and true man so Mary is the Mother of God, and because God became man, pictures of him and the saints are OK.

Because that and the rest of Orthodox belief and practice not defined doctrinally (the sacraments, prayer for the dead etc.) are not heretical, and the Orthodox have never defined doctrine against the post-schism Roman defined doctrines, Rome gives Orthodox the benefit of the doubt. Not heretics but estranged Catholics.

Re: Anthony Dragani. Right. As I was saying, the high-church Greek Catholics, usually born Roman Riters, explain Roman Catholic doctrine in as Byzantine a way as possible.

Which in my opinion works with everything except the scope of the Pope; the two churches are sacramentally the same but with that difference, an inch wide but infinitely deep. (Union: one side gives in to the other on it.)
Posted By: Paul B Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/13/12 02:36 PM

Thanks for the responses. Thus far, nothing has been proposed against the Immaculate Conception. To be clear, let me repeat that "infallibility" is not the issue to be addressed.

Rebuttal, anyone????? Is there any reason an Eastern Catholic should not believe that the Most Pure One was NOT immaculately conceived? Let me take it a step further....is there any theological or Patristic argument the Orthodox Church should not accept Mary as immaculately conceived (small letters, not caps)?

I'm not trying to put anyone down...but maybe this is an issue that has been blown out of proportion and has inappropriately degraded the love and devotion that we should freely give to our Heavenly Mother and Mother of our Lord and God.
Is the issue about infallibility, and NOT about the Immaculate Conception?

Christ is born!
Fr Deacon Paul
Posted By: danman916 Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/13/12 04:24 PM
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.
Posted By: danman916 Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/13/12 04:26 PM
Deacon Paul, I don't know if the issue is about the infallibility or not.
In regards to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, it is my understanding from reading other Orthodox posters and Orthodox clergy, that the problem with that IS the infallibility issue, not the belief itself, so maybe it's the same.
Posted By: Dr. Henry P. Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/13/12 04:57 PM
Here we go again! This is a matter of language and philosophies. Why do we continue arguing these things? Isn't it true that when the angel visited Mary, she was declared "full of grace" (Latin) or "highly favored" (Greek).
She lived in the temple in her early years and had no chance to sin; after her "fiat" she carried the son of God and sin could not exist in her.
Posted By: jjp Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/13/12 05:30 PM
Originally Posted by Paul B

Thanks for the responses. Thus far, nothing has been proposed against the Immaculate Conception. To be clear, let me repeat that "infallibility" is not the issue to be addressed.


Except when it is. As a theologoumena it is reasonable and perfectly acceptable, although it does not mesh very well with the Eastern understanding of sin (which she is presumed to be without). In fact, it could very easily be considered redundant in Eastern theology (as none of us are born with this "stain", including the Theotokos). The details of this discussion are better articulated elsewhere, and have been many times on this forum, so I'll spare us a less-worthy attempt here.

If a pious Orthodox layperson were to say in church one morning "I believe that the Theotokos was born without sin and remained so her whole life" there would likely, I imagine, be no arguing.

Quote

Rebuttal, anyone????? Is there any reason an Eastern Catholic should not believe that the Most Pure One was NOT immaculately conceived? Let me take it a step further....is there any theological or Patristic argument the Orthodox Church should not accept Mary as immaculately conceived (small letters, not caps)?


Again, this hypothetical Eastern Catholic (assuming this person understands sin from a traditionally Eastern point of view - not a foregone conclusion by any means) would not reject your conclusion necessarily, but would rather see the premise differently ("sin is an inherited stain which she must be preserved from"). That is not how the East tends to understand sin, so one doesn't lead to the other in the same way.

Quote

I'm not trying to put anyone down...but maybe this is an issue that has been blown out of proportion and has inappropriately degraded the love and devotion that we should freely give to our Heavenly Mother and Mother of our Lord and God.


There is no lack of love for the Theotokos in the East.

Quote

Is the issue about infallibility, and NOT about the Immaculate Conception?


Yes. The theologoumenon of the nature of sin is not an issue that impairs relations between the churches. The idea that one definition is infallible and that other definitions are heretical very much is.
Posted By: Paul B Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/13/12 07:16 PM

If this is the general understanding then I and my classmates were misled, or, in the least, confused by two Orthodox priests who taught at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary.

No wonder people are confused.
Posted By: DMD Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/13/12 07:31 PM
Originally Posted by The young fogey
Eastern Orthodoxy has very few defined doctrines, which come from the first seven ecumenical councils: Trinity, Jesus is true God and true man so Mary is the Mother of God, and because God became man, pictures of him and the saints are OK.

Because that and the rest of Orthodox belief and practice not defined doctrinally (the sacraments, prayer for the dead etc.) are not heretical, and the Orthodox have never defined doctrine against the post-schism Roman defined doctrines, Rome gives Orthodox the benefit of the doubt. Not heretics but estranged Catholics.

Re: Anthony Dragani. Right. As I was saying, the high-church Greek Catholics, usually born Roman Riters, explain Roman Catholic doctrine in as Byzantine a way as possible.

Which in my opinion works with everything except the scope of the Pope; the two churches are sacramentally the same but with that difference, an inch wide but infinitely deep. (Union: one side gives in to the other on it.)


And I would add that the members of the North American Orthodox Catholic Theological consultation pretty much concur with your analysis of the 'gap' between us and the difficulty in reconciling the Papacy in terms that both East and West could accept.

Quibbles about western scholasticism, Eastern 'consensus' (much discussed, little attained), 'development' of doctrine and so on can be talked around in as 'Byzantine' or 'Imperial Court like (take your pick - Rome or Constantinople's Court)' wording, but it all comes back to the Papacy and the 'universal pastor' issues.

Of course, to steal your phrase, most of us Orthodox regard our brothers and sisters in the church of Rome not as heretics, but as estranged Catholics! wink

Although the discussion is serious, I always am reminded when I consider this topic that the Lord indeed must a profound sense of humor, or at least a love of irony.
Posted By: jjp Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/13/12 07:47 PM
Originally Posted by Paul B

If this is the general understanding then I and my classmates were misled, or, in the least, confused by two Orthodox priests who taught at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary.

No wonder people are confused.


What's the confusion?
Posted By: Paul B Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/13/12 07:57 PM
Originally Posted by jjp
Originally Posted by Paul B

If this is the general understanding then I and my classmates were misled, or, in the least, confused by two Orthodox priests who taught at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary.

No wonder people are confused.


What's the confusion?


They cast doubt on the immaculate conception, raising doubt that the Theotokos was without sin from conception.

As was mentioned, this subject came up on previous threads and (perhaps I misconstrued) some Eastern Catholics seemed to question the Immaculate Conception because it would not be compatible with Orthodox thought. They felt it weakened the "Orthodox in communion with Rome" concept.
Posted By: DMD Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/13/12 09:54 PM
I'll give it a try as an Orthodox observer.

For example, for nearly 800 years the Church was united in spite of the differences between the Western Fathers, primarily Augustine and the Eastern Fathers on the consequences of the fall upon mankind and man's 'sinful' nature. While there was no consensus, neither was there schism.

The problem with the IC, from the Orthodox point of view, is that is clearly requires the Augustinian 'answer' to this question and having declared it to be doctrine following Vatican 1, it became a source of division that did not have to exist for the east and west to argue about.

Now, I suspect from reading this board over the past three years that there are many of you Eastern Catholics who regard your union with Rome as being not dissimilar to the status of East and West in the pre-schism,first millennium of the Church. In other words, just as the ancient Patriarchs of Constantinople would live with Augustine's teaching but not adopt it, so would you have it on that issue and many other points of diversion from the 'Magesterium'.

There are others who take a more scholastic based, Roman interpretation of dogma and doctrine tying you all into the entirely of the Church of Rome's POV.

Frankly, you get mixed signals from the Popes and 'Rome' (whatever the heck 'Rome' is)as to which is the proper position to take, so it is no wonder we Orthodox are confused by discussions such as this among you.

If I misunderstood the argument, I apologize, I am just relating it through my understanding.



Posted By: jjp Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/13/12 10:15 PM
Quote

They cast doubt on the immaculate conception, raising doubt that the Theotokos was without sin from conception.


You are assuming that the only way to be without sin at conception is to be "immaculately" conceived. This assumption is unique to the West, and is a symptom of the unique view that the West has in regards to the relationship that humanity has with sin.

You are betraying your lack of understanding in how the East views these things, which is different. I am hesitant to delve very far into this distinction because I think others here can do so more effectively than I can. Suffice it to say, your premise that one can only be conceived without sin via an "immaculate conception" is a notion that is unique to the Western Church, and is derived from the implications of its understanding of original sin, which differs from that of the East.

The resistance you find is not with the conclusion you have arrived at (the Theotokos was free from sin) which is an acceptable belief in Orthodoxy, but rather with the presuppositions that take you to this conclusion (sin is a stain that is inherited at conception which the Theotokos must be miraculously spared from). That understanding of sin and the *manner in which she was sinless* is alien to the East. That she was blameless, while not an unquestionable dogma, is an accepted and mainstream belief.

Quote

As was mentioned, this subject came up on previous threads and (perhaps I misconstrued) some Eastern Catholics seemed to question the Immaculate Conception because it would not be compatible with Orthodox thought. They felt it weakened the "Orthodox in communion with Rome" concept.


The problem I think you are running into is the idea that Immaculate Conception = Sinless Mary. One can believe the latter without ascribing to the former.

That this formula has been deemed infallible is a stumbling block - not because anybody disputes the idea that Mary was blameless (they don't, or if they question it like St. John Chrysostom it is merely speculation) - but because the Roman interpretation has been decreed the *only* interpretation.

This dredges up the question of why such a thing is labeled "infallible" and we come to what, as others have pointed out, is the substance of the true single divide between the Churches: the role of the Pope. Not the role of sin or Mary or Christ or anything of real import.

Posted By: Apotheoun Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/14/12 03:12 AM
Originally Posted by Paul B

Thanks for the responses. Thus far, nothing has been proposed against the Immaculate Conception. To be clear, let me repeat that "infallibility" is not the issue to be addressed.

Rebuttal, anyone????? Is there any reason an Eastern Catholic should not believe that the Most Pure One was NOT immaculately conceived? Let me take it a step further....is there any theological or Patristic argument the Orthodox Church should not accept Mary as immaculately conceived (small letters, not caps)?

I'm not trying to put anyone down...but maybe this is an issue that has been blown out of proportion and has inappropriately degraded the love and devotion that we should freely give to our Heavenly Mother and Mother of our Lord and God.
Is the issue about infallibility, and NOT about the Immaculate Conception?

Christ is born!
Fr Deacon Paul

A lot of people do not post in threads like this anymore because of what I would call "apologetic fatigue."

Be that as it may, as an Eastern Catholic I hold that Mary was conceived and born into the same mortal condition that is common to every other human being since the time of Adam.

Nevertheless, is it possible for a person to believe - as a pious opinion - that Mary lived a life free of sin? Sure they could.

But is that pious belief the same thing as the theory of the Immaculate Conception? No, it is not.

Here is another question to ponder: was Mary able to sin, or was she unable to sin? My answer to that question would be to confirm that Mary was able to sin, but that by grace and her own free will she choose not to sin; while many Roman Catholic theologians say the opposite, i.e., they assert that she could not sin. Why do they say that? They say that because they believe that her Immaculate Conception involves positing the idea that she was impeccable (i.e., incapable of sinning), since as a coordinate principle of the theory it is held that she was confirmed in grace from the first instant of her existence, which makes it impossible for her to sin.

Now could a Byzantine Christian hold that Mary was immaculately conceived and impeccable in the sense intended by the Roman Catholic Immaculate Conception theory? I do not believe so, at least not without abandoning the Byzantine understanding of the original sin and its impact upon the descendants of Adam.

In the final analysis this is one of those never-ending disputes on internet fora that goes around and around, but which is really not that important in the eternal scheme of things, because whether the Theotokos committed sins (minor or major) during her earthly life, or was sinless, really does not impact the salvation of anyone other than Mary herself.
Posted By: Paul B Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/14/12 03:27 AM
These responses are helpful; thank you for your patience.

Allow me the liberty to delve further. Correct me if I misunderstand as I ask about the consequences of Adam and Eve's disobedience and banishment. I understand the punishment as literally described in Genesis. Where I am unclear is the Orthodox (Eastern, if you will) understanding of the unstated consequences. They were cast out of Paradise which means that Eternal Salvation was denied them, and we know that Christ "purchased" the human race's inheritance to the Heavenly Kingdom.

Through Christ's birth, Life, Death and Resurrection we have received the Grace of the Mysteries (Sacraments) through which God's mercy and love strengthen us so that we can overcome sin. However sin is still with us which is confirmed by our daily temptations and by St Paul's epistle to the Romans 7:21-25

For the sake of simplicity, I will use the term "ancestral" sin instead of "original sin." And let us take the Eastern position of corruption and imperfection, as opposed to the human creature's "guilt" consequence. Again, please let me know if up to this point there is any disagreement.

Is it the Orthodox contention that this tendency to sin comes AFTER BIRTH? I don't think that is an accepted teaching, is it? What are the post-Resurrection effects of the "ancestral sin"? How does it differ from the West's concept of "original sin" other than assumption of guilt?

Your explanations and clarifications, please, without delving into the well-known aversion to infallibility.

Posted By: Apotheoun Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/14/12 03:41 AM
Originally Posted by Paul B
Is it the Orthodox contention that this tendency to sin comes AFTER BIRTH?

I will leave it to Eastern Orthodox Christians to state their views on this matter, but for me as an Eastern Catholic the original sin involves the corruption of death, but without imputing any guilt or sin to Adam's descendants. The corruption (i.e., the mortal condition), which is not a moral fault, is attached to human existence per se, and so it impacts all human beings from the first moment of their existence (Mary included).

Originally Posted by Paul B
I don't think that is an accepted teaching, is it?

No, I do not believe the corruption of mortality is connected simply to birth, or that it comes "after birth"; instead, it is connected to personal human existence. In other words, all human persons are conceived and born mortal. The tendency to sin is connected to the mortal nature of human beings as a potency, but no one is held to be guilty or culpable for what they could potentially do in the future. Guilt attaches only to personal actions that are contrary to the good.

Originally Posted by Paul B
What are the post-Resurrection effects of the "ancestral sin"?

I would hold that they (i.e., the effects) are the same as prior to the Resurrection. The difference is not in the effects themselves, but in the possibility of overcoming them by grace that acts internally and not merely externally.

Originally Posted by Paul B
How does it differ from the West's concept of "original sin" other than assumption of guilt?

It simply excludes from Adam's descendants moral culpability for his specific sin, which is his alone to bear.
Posted By: Paul B Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/14/12 04:08 AM
[quote=Apotheoun] but for me as an Eastern Catholic the original sin involves the corruption of death, but without imputing any guilt or sin to Adam's descendants. The corruption (i.e., the mortal condition), which is not a moral fault, is attached to human existence per se, and so it impacts all human beings from the first moment of their existence (Mary included).

Am I understanding you correctly that you are stating that the only consequence is death of the physical body? Then what is this that St Paul speaks of -- this tendency to sin when I don't want to? The "spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak? This wasn't the original state of Adam and Eve. There must be some other consequences.

In the Orthodox Church the term ancestral sin (Gr. προπατορικό αμάρτημα) is preferred and is used to define the doctrine of man's "inclination towards sin, a heritage from the sin of our progenitors" and that this is removed through baptism. St. Gregory Palamas taught that man's image was tarnished, disfigured, as a consequence of Adam's disobedience. OrthodoxWiki.org article on "Original Sin"

Confusion still reigns...I'm having trouble distinguishing the difference between "ancestral sin" and "original sin."
Posted By: Apotheoun Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/14/12 04:12 AM
Originally Posted by Paul B
Am I understanding you correctly that you are stating that the only consequence is death of the physical body? Then what is this that St Paul speaks of -- this tendency to sin when I don't want to? The "spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak? This wasn't the original state of Adam and Eve. There must be some other consequences.

No, I mean death in the sense used by St. Athanasios in his treatise on the incarnation, that is, I mean death in the sense of the end of personal existence itself. Or to put it another way, by death I mean the return to non-being of man, and by extension of creation as a whole.
Posted By: Apotheoun Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/14/12 04:19 AM
Originally Posted by Paul B
In the Orthodox Church the term ancestral sin (Gr. προπατορικό αμάρτημα) is preferred and is used to define the doctrine of man's "inclination towards sin, a heritage from the sin of our progenitors" and that this is removed through baptism. St. Gregory Palamas taught that man's image was tarnished, disfigured, as a consequence of Adam's disobedience. OrthodoxWiki.org article on "Original Sin".

I do not really worry about whether a person uses the term ancestral sin or original sin. What is important is what is meant by the terms used, and not the specific name.

Moreover, I do not believe that the tendency to sin, which man's mortality inspires, disappears magically through baptism. I agree that baptism, like all the other holy mysteries, is vitally important to the spiritual life (so please do not take what I am saying here as a form of denigration of the mysteries), but in addition to the holy mysteries theosis requires ascesis (i.e., the practice of ascetic discipline). After all, salvation is a synergistic activity of God and man together.
Posted By: The young fogey Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/14/12 04:30 AM
Thanks, DMD.

Quote
us Orthodox


Because some jerks in the Catholic Church ran you off around 75 years ago for no good reason. The stuff against the Pope was adopted after the fact, a rationalization.
Posted By: desertman Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/14/12 05:37 AM
Originally Posted by Apotheoun
Be that as it may, as an Eastern Catholic I hold that Mary was conceived and born into the same mortal condition that is common to every other human being since the time of Adam.

Nevertheless, is it possible for a person to believe - as a pious opinion - that Mary lived a life free of sin? Sure they could.

But is that pious belief the same thing as the theory of the Immaculate Conception? No, it is not.

...In the final analysis this is one of those never-ending disputes on internet fora that goes around and around, but which is really not that important in the eternal scheme of things, because whether the Theotokos committed sins (minor or major) during her earthly life, or was sinless, really does not impact the salvation of anyone other than Mary herself.


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?
Posted By: jjp Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/14/12 06:04 AM
Ask St. John Chrysostom. Or St. Basil.
Posted By: Otsheylnik Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/14/12 09:46 AM
I think it's worth making the point that it is not an accurate description of the issue to call these issues "post-schism dogmas", because the Catholic Church believes that they reflect not only pre-schism tradition, but Apostolic tradition as well; if it didn't it wouldn't be able to hold them. They are only post-schism in the same way that for instance the definitions of Chalcedon are post-Nestorian schism (or Meletian schism, or some other randomly chosen ecclesiastical rupture in history).

The Catholic Church believes that the dogmatic statement of the Immaculate Conception is not some post-schism idea but in fact is a re-statement of Apostolic tradition. Whether the idea of the Immaculate Conception is found in Apostolic tradition is the real issue that needs to be discussed here, not whether Eastern Catholics are under some sort of reduced obligation to accept things that they misunderstand to have only become teaching after some arbitrary cutoff date. To do so misunderstands the Catholic and Orthodox understanding of tradition, which only affirms as dogma, and tradition, what can be shown (in Vincent of Lerin's definition) to have been held, everywhere, always and by all. The Church has discovered on many occasions that things such as homoousia and two natures of Christ fit this criterion some centuries after the Apostolic era, so there is no reason that the Immaculate Conception could not also be shown to meet such a criterion centuries later also. Whether it does or not is the point that matters.

Posted By: desertman Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/14/12 03:04 PM
Originally Posted by Otsheylnik
I think it's worth making the point that it is not an accurate description of the issue to call these issues "post-schism dogmas", because the Catholic Church believes that they reflect not only pre-schism tradition, but Apostolic tradition as well; if it didn't it wouldn't be able to hold them. They are only post-schism in the same way that for instance the definitions of Chalcedon are post-Nestorian schism (or Meletian schism, or some other randomly chosen ecclesiastical rupture in history).

The Catholic Church believes that the dogmatic statement of the Immaculate Conception is not some post-schism idea but in fact is a re-statement of Apostolic tradition. Whether the idea of the Immaculate Conception is found in Apostolic tradition is the real issue that needs to be discussed here, not whether Eastern Catholics are under some sort of reduced obligation to accept things that they misunderstand to have only become teaching after some arbitrary cutoff date. To do so misunderstands the Catholic and Orthodox understanding of tradition, which only affirms as dogma, and tradition, what can be shown (in Vincent of Lerin's definition) to have been held, everywhere, always and by all. The Church has discovered on many occasions that things such as homoousia and two natures of Christ fit this criterion some centuries after the Apostolic era, so there is no reason that the Immaculate Conception could not also be shown to meet such a criterion centuries later also. Whether it does or not is the point that matters.



Thanks, this is what I was getting at. For Catholics, the Church felt the need to solemnly declare that the Mother of God was always sinless and that the Church has always held that to be true. Some Orthodox may disagree, but I don't believe a Catholic has that option.
Posted By: Economos Romanos V. Russo Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/14/12 04:38 PM
At the time (1850's) the Jesuits at Civilta` Cattolica told Pope Pius IX, "Define a dogma, any dogma but do it on your own. We need this for infallibility." So much for Orthodox 'misunderstanding' and St. Vincent of Lerins definition(?) The issue, of course, is not the all-sinlessness of the Mother of God but the profoundly pessimistic Augustinian anthropology that underpins the dogma, let alone the cynical pragmatism indicated by the exchange between Pio Nono and his Jesuit enablers!
Posted By: Paul B Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/14/12 05:15 PM
Thanks for your comments. As an Eastern Catholic I must profess to the dogma of Rome, but understand it with an Eastern mind. That is what I'm trying to do with regard to original sin, or ancestral sin, whichever you prefer. I think I understand the western concept, but the Eastern concept is still so vague in my mind that there is no way I can teach it because I don't know how to express it. So, though this subject may not qualify as a "post-schism dogma" I would be indebted to you if we can continue. If the moderator changes the thread that is fine with me.



As quoted by jjp:
Quote
The resistance you find is not with the conclusion you have arrived at (the Theotokos was free from sin) which is an acceptable belief in Orthodoxy, but rather with the presuppositions that take you to this conclusion (sin is a stain that is inherited at conception which the Theotokos must be miraculously spared from). That understanding of sin and the *manner in which she was sinless* is alien to the East. That she was blameless, while not an unquestionable dogma, is an accepted and mainstream belief.
The resistance you find is not with the conclusion you have arrived at (the Theotokos was free from sin) which is an acceptable belief in Orthodoxy, but rather with the presuppositions that take you to this conclusion (sin is a stain that is inherited at conception which the Theotokos must be miraculously spared from). That understanding of sin and the *manner in which she was sinless* is alien to the East. That she was blameless, while not an unquestionable dogma, is an accepted and mainstream belief.


The statement above is helpful, but I still must test it. In Genesis, God created Man, and said it was good. (Gen 1:31) So the human body is good. But, after the Fall we have this tendency to fall into sin, as described by the Apostle Paul, as I referenced earlier. As in the Profession of Faith, we believe in "one Baptism for the REMISSION of sins" (emphasis mine--Baptism gives us God's grace to overcome sin and make us heirs of heaven.)

Adam and Eve sinned a personal sin. There is a consequence for every sin. "The Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation." Ex 34:6-7 Though this is pre-Resurrection, I don't think there is any doubt that every sin has negative consequences to God's Creation in some way.

So, it makes sense to me that every human except Christ and the Theotokos have to bear this burden (guilt?) because we have never had a sinless generation.

Do you see where I'm coming from? Is there any clash between Eastern and Western thinking on this?

Has this "original sin" conflict been used as an evil deception to split the Churches?

With confused sadness,
Fr Deacon Paul
Posted By: jjp Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/14/12 06:32 PM
Again, the "conflict" is not the different understandings of sin, you must accept that. The churches approach many other such subjects from different historical and theological perspectives, yet remain bound together in Truth. The problem is one church declaring its interpretation infallibly normative across Christendom.

To the point of your questions re: sin and the East, I will refer you to a source from the Antiochian Orthodox Church as a take (not THE take) on the topic, as well as a previous lengthy thread from this forum:

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 declaration of this doctrine to be a dogma of the Western Catholic Church marked the end of a period of often bitter controversy between its adherents and those who denied it, a controversy that involved some of the most well known Western Catholic theologians.

Throughout the Eastern part of the Roman empire, from as far back as the fifth century, a feast day was observed on 9th December entitled The Conception of Saint Anna. This feast day celebrated the events surrounding the conception of the Mother of God by Saint Anna in her and her husband Joachim's old age, as set forth in the apocryphal Protoevangelion of James.

There was no attempt on the part of the hymn writers of the early church to suggest that there was any other miracle than the conception in the face of prolonged sterility.

This feast day soon became popular with Western Christians, and by the 8th century was celebrated on 8th December. Soon after, some western churchmen began teaching that Mary, from the moment of her conception, was "miraculously innocent" of the guilt of original sin.

This teaching was bitterly opposed by such churchmen as the great Cistercian abbot Bernard of Clairvaux, and the great Dominican Doctor of the Western Church Thomas Aquinas. Eventually however, in 1854, those who accepted the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception gained the attention of the Pope, who effectively ended all the controversy about it by officially promulgating it as an official teaching of the Western Catholic Church.


In order to understand the position of the Orthodox Church on this teaching we must begin with understanding the Orthodox concept of original sin, as opposed to that which prevails in the Western Catholic Church.

The Western Catholic Church's teaching of original sin, is based in part on the writings of Saint Augustine, which states that each human being at the moment of conception shares in the guilt of Adam's sin of disobedience.

This was based on Saint Augustine's slightly flawed Latin translation of Romans 5:12. Augustine did not read Greek with any great proficiency. Augustine read it as saying "so death spread to all men in whom (Adam) all men sinned", rather than "so death spread to all men because all men sinned", which is how the original Greek reads.

It is this teaching that led Western Catholic thinkers to create a place called "Limbo" (from the Latin word limbus, "border" or "hem"), meaning on the border of heaven. They said this is where the souls of unbaptised infants could find refuge, since though not guilty of any personal sin, they still had the guilt of original sin on their souls, and so could not enter heaven proper.

In the medieval Western Catholic Church, original sin was believed to be transmitted in a physical sense through conception. It thus became important to many that Mary be preserved from this taint. Hence the creation in the ninth century of the doctrine of the immaculate conception.

The Orthodox Church has kept alive the original understanding of the early Church as regards "original sin." The early Church did not understand "original sin" as having anything to do with transmitted guilt but with transmitted mortality. Because Adam sinned, all humanity shares not in his guilt but in the same punishment.

We are tempted by sin and we become guilty of it through committing our own personal sins. We therefore suffer and we die. This is the orthodox understanding of original sin. It is not something that we are guilty of personally, but an action whose consequences have affected our lives as humans. As humans we sin, and our own guilt is because of our own personal sin.

In the light of this, the Western Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is redundant.

In Orthodox eyes, there is simply no original guilt for Mary to be made innocent of. Which is also why we have no Limbo for infants who die unbaptised, which was also at one time the usual teaching of the Western Catholic Church.

Often those advocating the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, have sought to discover it in Orthodox writers of the Middle Ages or in Orthodox hymns.

Orthodox writers who often refer to Mary as having been "prepared," and "sanctified," and who hail her as the "immaculate one," are thinking in the context of the Orthodox view of original sin, not the Western. None of these writers put forth a claim that Mary was immortal – which necessarily follows for those who accept the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. It does not fit in the context of the Orthodox view of original sin.

Many of these theologians held to a view that by special grace the Mother of God did not commit any personal sins. Others asserted that Mary was sanctified through her response to Archangel Gabriel at the annunciation, "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38).

Taken at face value, the Western doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is seen by the Orthodox as separating the Mother of God from the rest of the human race. If true, this would have made it impossible for Christ to become truly man, because Mary would therefore not be subject to the same conditions of humanity as those for whom Christ had become incarnate in order to save. Mary is human, and through her, God became fully human as well.

During this Advent season, the Orthodox Church frequently remembers the Virgin Mary as a gift of humanity to God, through whom God gave Himself back to humanity. One of our Christmas hymns asks "What shall we offer You, Christ, You Who for our sakes appeared on earth as a man? Every creature which You have made offers You thanks.....… We offer You a Virgin Mother. Pre-eternal God, have mercy on us."

Edited from an article in "The Word" Magazine. The Word is the official print publication of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.


ByzCath Discussion Thread
Posted By: Apotheoun Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/14/12 07:13 PM
The theory of the Immaculate Conception, and all the things that are connected with it, is simply not a part of the Byzantine tradition, which is why I cannot answer the two questions below with a positive response:

Do I believe that Mary, at the moment of her conception, needed to be protected from some kind of stain of sin? No.

Do I believe that Mary was incapable of ever committing a sin (i.e., that she was impeccable) because she was confirmed in grace from her conception? No.

Now as I see it, the best solution to the present problem is to simply allow Latins and Byzantines to maintain their distinct pious traditions about Mary, and to assiduously avoid the temptation to turn theological theories that really are only of secondary importance into dogmas.
Posted By: Paul B Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/14/12 08:37 PM
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
Posted By: Otsheylnik Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/15/12 05:54 AM
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.
Posted By: griego catolico Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/15/12 09:09 PM
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.
Posted By: StuartK Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/15/12 09:33 PM
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.
Posted By: jjp Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/15/12 09:42 PM
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.
Posted By: Paul B Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/16/12 12:09 AM
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
Posted By: Apotheoun Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/16/12 12:12 AM
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.
Posted By: Apotheoun Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/16/12 12:22 AM
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.
Posted By: Economos Romanos V. Russo Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/16/12 12:30 AM
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!
Posted By: Apotheoun Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/16/12 12:30 AM
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.
Posted By: Peter J Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/16/12 01:11 AM
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
Posted By: griego catolico Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/16/12 02:26 AM
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!
Posted By: Rybak Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/16/12 03:43 AM
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.
Posted By: Paul B Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/16/12 04:02 AM
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?
Posted By: Otsheylnik Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/16/12 04:55 AM
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.
Posted By: Nelson Chase Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/16/12 05:14 AM
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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.


To go along with your train of thought here I am reminded of the words of Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch (Melkite)

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treat us like an Orthodox Church


Evidence seems to point to the fact that we (Eastern Catholics) are not.
Posted By: jjp Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/16/12 06:46 AM
Originally Posted by griego catolico

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?


You are missing the point. The Immaculate Conception is redundant, as Eastern teaching has held that all are born absent of the guilt of Adam. The East would say that the Holy Spirit need not have gone to all the trouble of reiterating this.

The fact is that this teaching was necessary in the West for Christological reasons due to its unique Augustinian understanding of humanity's relationship with sin, an understanding that did not develop in other parts of Christendom.

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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!


Roman Catholics do it often enough, no need to be more Catholic than the rest.
Posted By: StuartK Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/16/12 04:31 PM
The Holy See seems quite content with the Orthodox expression of Mary's sinlessness. Indeed, it never seems to have arisen in any of the meetings of the Joint International Theological Commission.

As Pope John Paul II said, it is necessary to look past the historically and culturally conditioned expressions of doctrine to examine the unchanging truth that lies behind it. The unchanging truth--the "catholic" faith of the Church--is Mary was preserved from all sin throughout her life. Everything else is needless speculation.
Posted By: griego catolico Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/16/12 05:27 PM
Originally Posted by jjp
You are missing the point.

Not at all. The topic of this thread is whether or not Eastern Catholics are to accept "post-schism" dogmas", isn't it?

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The Immaculate Conception is redundant, as Eastern teaching has held that all are born absent of the guilt of Adam.

Last time I checked the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the West also teaches that all are born absent of the guilt of Adam.

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The East would say that the Holy Spirit need not have gone to all the trouble of reiterating this. The fact is that this teaching was necessary in the West for Christological reasons due to its unique Augustinian understanding of humanity's relationship with sin, an understanding that did not develop in other parts of Christendom.


So, is the East to tell the Holy Spirit what He can or cannot do? Obviously, the Holy Spirit felt it necessary for the truth of the Immaculate Conception to be declared as revealed truth. Truth is truth.
As Bishop Elya states so well:

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There is no 'Eastern truth' vs 'Western truth'. Truth is one. It may be articulated according to various cultural expressions, but truth is super-cultural. Truth should not be restricted by "party line" positions. We should accept or reject ideas for their worth and not for an artificial attachment to a given "identity." The Church teaches truth. If something is true, it would be absurd to say "Oh, we don't believe that in the East." This seems to be where we get short-circuited in ecumenical "dialogue." All too frequently, such "dialogue" seems to presuppose a relativism where you speak "your truth" and I'll speak "my truth" and we'll just leave it at that. A sort of ecumenical schizophrenia.


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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!


Roman Catholics do it often enough, no need to be more Catholic than the rest.


So, you are saying it's OK to dissent from what Our Lord teaches us through His Church?
Posted By: jjp Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/16/12 09:04 PM
Originally Posted by griego catolico
Originally Posted by jjp
You are missing the point.

Not at all. The topic of this thread is whether or not Eastern Catholics are to accept "post-schism" dogmas", isn't it?


You missed my point re: the IC, not of the thread. My point, again, was not that the teaching is "wrong" but that it doesn't make sense from an Eastern context, and is at best redundant. But that's not a big deal. As Stuart sagely points out, this isn't even a topic of conversation between the two churches in ecumenical settings. It's pretty well understood why there is a difference, and Rome certainly isn't making acceptance of this *teaching* dependent on anything. As I have pointed out already and as you note others quoting, the two churches see the same Truth differently, it is really not a big deal.

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The Immaculate Conception is redundant, as Eastern teaching has held that all are born absent of the guilt of Adam.


Last time I checked the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the West also teaches that all are born absent of the guilt of Adam.


I am not going to get into the minutia of RC dogma, it doesn't interest me and isn't the point. *Whatever you want to say Mary was immaculately conceived from* is also absent in us all, according to the common Eastern teaching of sin. Good?

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The East would say that the Holy Spirit need not have gone to all the trouble of reiterating this. The fact is that this teaching was necessary in the West for Christological reasons due to its unique Augustinian understanding of humanity's relationship with sin, an understanding that did not develop in other parts of Christendom.


So, is the East to tell the Holy Spirit what He can or cannot do? Obviously, the Holy Spirit felt it necessary for the truth of the Immaculate Conception to be declared as revealed truth. Truth is truth.


I can't tell if you genuinely missed the rhetorical nature of my phrase or if you are disingenuously treating it as literal. Either way, you have not addressed what I said, which is that there was no need for Christ to make this point clear to His Eastern churches, as they look at sin differently and the teaching makes no sense in this regard. There was, however, a more pressing need for this in the West for reasons already articulated.

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As Bishop Elya states so well:


Indeed he does, which is why I paraphrased the point earlier. This is a strawman argument anyways, nobody is saying that these truths are relative, so you have no need to demonstrate otherwise.

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So, you are saying it's OK to dissent from what Our Lord teaches us through His Church?


No. I hesitate to say that you are missing the point, but...

This is not a question of "dissent." The Western teaching of the IC is extraneous to Eastern theology. It does no harm, but it doesn't mean very much, because while this teaching makes Mary unique in the Western understanding of sin, it changes nothing in the Eastern view, in which all are born similarly "immaculate". This, as has been said over and over and over, is due to the different ways that the two churches view original sin and it's involvement with humanity.

None of which, we will reiterate again, is a significant point of contention between the churches. To-May-to, to-mah-to.

I hope it is clear now what the true sticking point in all of this is. Hint: it *is* a major topic of the Joint Commissions, and is the theme of griego catolico's post.
Posted By: desertman Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/16/12 11:38 PM
Originally Posted by Apotheoun
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.


Once again I mean no disrespect, I'm just trying to understand. How would the above not be considered dissent? It seems to me that you are relying on your own interpretation of Patristic Tradition rather than the Church's interpretation.
Posted By: desertman Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/17/12 12:06 AM
Originally Posted by Rybak
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.


I may be one of those who "simply don't get it", and I'm trying to understand. Apparently those terms you quoted above describing the Theotokos do not have an obvious interpretation for some fellow Catholics and I'm just trying to understand why/how they've come to believe the way they do. I don't believe this is a non-issue and I don't think it's uncharitable to question these ideas. If I would ever be blessed to become an Eastern Catholic, I would want to know how fellow Eastern Catholics see things and how I would explain myself if these sort of issues were to come up. God bless. smile
Posted By: jjp Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/17/12 01:09 AM
Originally Posted by desertman
It seems to me that you are relying on your own interpretation of Patristic Tradition rather than the Church's interpretation.


Which church?

The interpretation Apotheoun laid out is not something he dreamt up on his own.
Posted By: Rybak Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/17/12 04:15 AM
Somewhat complicating matters for many Eastern Catholics, at least for the Ruthenians, Melkites, Ukrainians and Romanians, is that they all have parishes named Immaculate Conception. I suppose this is related to the desire to "fit in" in the West and to distinguish themselves as Catholics in the East. Parishes named Immaculate Conception exist in both the New World and the Old Countries.
Posted By: Rybak Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/17/12 04:22 AM
"Apparently those terms you quoted above describing the Theotokos do not have an obvious interpretation for some fellow Catholics and I'm just trying to understand why/how they've come to believe the way they do." - desertman

They believe the way that they do because, I think, they are speaking out of ignorance or solely from personal opinion. Too many people come up with their own ideas and opinions when they should seek and hold to what the Church, in fact, teaches.
Posted By: Nelson Chase Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/17/12 05:22 AM
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Somewhat complicating matters for many Eastern Catholics, at least for the Ruthenians, Melkites, Ukrainians and Romanians, is that they all have parishes named Immaculate Conception.


Just as there are countless Greek Orthodox parishes named "Assumption". I do see this as trying to fit in.

Metropolitan Kallistos (War) in his book the Orthodox Church says that individual Orthodox who believe in the Immaculate Conception of the Theotokos are not heretical. So, what then is the problem?

It is simple, can one particular Church (that being the Roman Church) dictate to all the other particular Churches its own particular expressions of the Apostolic Faith?

I in no way deny the Immaculate Conception but being a Byzantine I see no need for it in my own particular theological outlook of the Apostolic faith. My Church has its own way of speaking about the purity of the Theotokos that is equally Apostolic and orthodox.

How Rome wants to describe it within the context of Latin theology is great but I will stick to my own particular Churches theology, which expresses the same Truth but in a different light.

Like all things in the East/West divide it comes back to the Role of the Papacy in the communion of Churches.
Posted By: Irish Melkite Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/17/12 07:39 AM
Originally Posted by Rybak
Somewhat complicating matters for many Eastern Catholics, at least for the Ruthenians, Melkites, Ukrainians and Romanians, is that they all have parishes named Immaculate Conception. I suppose this is related to the desire to "fit in" in the West and to distinguish themselves as Catholics in the East. Parishes named Immaculate Conception exist in both the New World and the Old Countries.


I've no intention of engaging in this debate (but, have at it, folks); however, I'm unaware of any parishes under the patronage of the Immaculate Conception in the Melkite, Romanian, or Ruthenian eparchies in the diaspora. The UGCC does have several.

Many years,

Neil
Posted By: Otsheylnik Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/17/12 08:58 AM
Originally Posted by Nelson Chase

It is simple, can one particular Church (that being the Roman Church) dictate to all the other particular Churches its own particular expressions of the Apostolic Faith?


Thing is that under at least some readings of history one can read the dogmas of the Council of Chalcedon as the Antiochian patriarchate asserting its particular expression of the Apostolic faith over Alexandria, and the Council of Constantinople as Alexandria asserting its own dogmatic tradition over others (does anybody these days seriously believe that Nestorius was a Nestorian?).

My point is that one Church can indeed dictate the truth to others, wrongly or not, because there are many examples in Church history where precisely this has happened in formulating the dogmas that we perceive as Orthodox today.
Posted By: StuartK Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/17/12 02:31 PM
Decrees of the Great Councils were not "dictating" because the whole Church was either represented or assented to them--that's how they became "ecumenical". In the Second Millennium, the Latin Church got into the nasty habit of unilaterally declaring its own doctrines to be dogmatic and binding on all, based on an authority it unilaterally decided that it had.

In the case of the doctrine of the immaculate conception of Mary (my omission of capitals is decidedly intentional), we have the Bishop of Rome unilaterally declaring that a very late theological speculation of some medieval Latin theologians, one that did not even garner a consensus among Latin theologians until centuries after its proposition, based on Latin theological presuppositions, expressed in purely Latin terms, to resolve a problem present only in Latin theology, is somehow binding upon all Christians because of an authority the Pope claimed he had because he had claimed it.

You may call it "the development of doctrine", but it would be more honest to claim it is arrogance, parochialism, innovation and hubris. It would do well for the Latin Church to remember that when you dogmatize something, you also end up dogmatizing all the assumptions and suppositions that support the new dogma. That might be why the Christian East has been much more modest about declaring anything secondary to the faith to be "dogmatic".
Posted By: DMD Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/17/12 03:33 PM
Originally Posted by StuartK
Decrees of the Great Councils were not "dictating" because the whole Church was either represented or assented to them--that's how they became "ecumenical". In the Second Millennium, the Latin Church got into the nasty habit of unilaterally declaring its own doctrines to be dogmatic and binding on all, based on an authority it unilaterally decided that it had.

In the case of the doctrine of the immaculate conception of Mary (my omission of capitals is decidedly intentional), we have the Bishop of Rome unilaterally declaring that a very late theological speculation of some medieval Latin theologians, one that did not even garner a consensus among Latin theologians until centuries after its proposition, based on Latin theological presuppositions, expressed in purely Latin terms, to resolve a problem present only in Latin theology, is somehow binding upon all Christians because of an authority the Pope claimed he had because he had claimed it.

You may call it "the development of doctrine", but it would be more honest to claim it is arrogance, parochialism, innovation and hubris. It would do well for the Latin Church to remember that when you dogmatize something, you also end up dogmatizing all the assumptions and suppositions that support the new dogma. That might be why the Christian East has been much more modest about declaring anything secondary to the faith to be "dogmatic".


I was going to weigh in with the Orthodox position, but I don't have to do so now.

However, I have to ask how then do you reconcile your Orthodox POV with the question posed by brother 'desertman.' That's the flip side of the same question most Orthodox have in relation to similar discussions with sincere Eastern Catholics.
Posted By: StuartK Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/17/12 04:23 PM
I would tell Desertman and others that the question of primacy and conciliarity is not settled. If it were, there would be no point in Pope John Paul II asking the entire Body of Christ for assistance in discovering new ways of defining and exercising the Petrine primacy (Ut Unum Sint), nor would we still be holding meetings of the Joint International Theological Commission to address the issue.

I would tell them that the Catholic Church itself began this process, first by recognizing the Orthodox Churches as being truly and fully Churches, with all that implies; and second, by establishing the ecclesial status of the Eastern Churches already in communion with the Church of Rome. Now the Catholic Church has to deal with the logical implications of its words and deeds.

Nowhere, in any of the Eucmenical dialogues, has the issue of the immaculate conception been raised--by either side--as something to be affirmed or repudiated as a precondition of unity. There are disagreements about the authority by which it was promulgated, but it is safe to say that most Orthodox theologians don't believe doctrine to be heretical; nor do most Catholic theologians believe the Orthodox are heretical for not affirming it as dogma.

There was an entire Orientale Lumen Conference devoted to the subject of "Mary: Mother of God and of the Church", at which I believe Edward Idris Cardinal Cassidy was present. At no time did he ever express the view that belief in the immaculate conception was necessary for unity; nor did he ever question the sufficiency of the Orthodox doctrine that Mary was preserved from all sin throughout her life. In short, there was agreement on the underlying truth of doctrine, which obviated any differences regarding its expression.

Indeed, this creates something of a conundrum: dogmas are essential elements of faith that are "given", the denial of which puts one outside the Church. The Orthodox Church rejects a slew of doctrines the Latin Church declared to be dogmatic or "de fide" in the second millennium--not the least being the doctrine of the infallibility of the Pope. And yet the Catholic Church recognizes the Orthodox Churches as true Churches, in a way that the various Protestant "ecclesial communities" are not. Now, as I like to say, Church is a bi-polar condition, like pregnancy--you either are or you aren't. Rome says the Orthodox are Church. Very well. You can be Church and not accept the "dogmas" promulgated by the Latin Church in the second millennium, including the "dogma" of Papal infallibility.

One can draw only two conclusions from this observation: either these dogmas really aren't; or Rome is playing a cynical and disingenuous game with the Orthodox, and indeed, its own faithful. I know which option I prefer to believe.

And the wind seems to be blowing in my favor. One need only read the Ravenna Statement to see the manner in which primacy is being placed in the context of conciliarity, and of how the second millennium general councils of the Latin Church are being relativized, in comparison with the Great Councils of the first millennium (Pope Paul VI actually got this ball rolling back in 1974). Where the process will end is anybody's guess, but I would say the historical trend has been for the Latin Church to step back from its Tridentine exclusivity towards the more balanced and patristic approach taken in the first millennium. The Orthodox are definitely coming around to the idea of a real and universal primacy; the Catholic Church is admitting the validity of the older Tradition maintained in the Orthodox Church.

Given the current state of flux, Eastern Catholics are being given mixed messages by the Holy See, and each one of us has to decide in accordance with the dictates of conscience how one must interpret these. The decrees, encyclicals, instructions and exhortations of the Holy See have consistently told us to reclaim the fullness of our patrimony--without exceptions. At the same time, the Holy See proclaims certain doctrines that are either inconsistent with our Tradition or even antithetical to it, to be "dogmas" of the universal Church. At times like this, as Father Taft likes to say, "history liberates us" from the stale polemics of the past and allows us to recapture the Tradition of the undivided Church. The truth does set you free, and in the process, it makes you a lot of enemies on both sides of the conflict. But that is the vocation of the Eastern Catholic.
Posted By: Otsheylnik Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/17/12 11:31 PM
Originally Posted by StuartK
Decrees of the Great Councils were not "dictating" because the whole Church was either represented or assented to them--that's how they became "ecumenical".


Not true if you consider the Copts or the Nestorians to be Churches.
Posted By: JDC Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/17/12 11:51 PM
Originally Posted by Otsheylnik
Originally Posted by StuartK
Decrees of the Great Councils were not "dictating" because the whole Church was either represented or assented to them--that's how they became "ecumenical".


Not true if you consider the Copts or the Nestorians to be Churches.


Which the Catholic Church certainly does.
Posted By: StuartK Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/18/12 12:34 AM
In both cases, the problems were more political and cultural than substantive, which is what has enabled both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches to enter into Agreed Christological Statements with the non-Chalcedonian Churches. As Kyr Elias Zoghby said, "We all believe that Jesus Christ is fully God. We all believe that Jesus Christ is fully man. And we all believe that Jesus Christ is one. Everything else is philosophy".
Posted By: Otsheylnik Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/18/12 01:17 AM
Originally Posted by StuartK
In both cases, the problems were more political and cultural than substantive, which is what has enabled both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches to enter into Agreed Christological Statements with the non-Chalcedonian Churches. As Kyr Elias Zoghby said, "We all believe that Jesus Christ is fully God. We all believe that Jesus Christ is fully man. And we all believe that Jesus Christ is one. Everything else is philosophy".


hence the relevance of the example, I think the Immaculate Conception is more a cultural and political block to eastern Catholics and Orthodox than a substantive one.
Posted By: JDC Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/18/12 01:20 AM
That won't do Stuart. It's beside the point. The point was, these groups never agreed to Chalcedon, yet it's still ecumenical and dogmatic, and the Coptic and Assyrian are still true Churches. Chalcedon was no more received by the entire Church than the Immaculate Conception was. The difference is one of numbers, not of type. And you go on to say well, that's different since we pretty much agree anyway and that example was political and cultural when we have already heard that the Immaculate Conception isn't (from the Orthodox position) heretical and when obviously everything in Eastern Christianity is political and cultural.

If you're disputing the point, you should show how the examples are dissimilar, not how they're the same.
Posted By: Nelson Chase Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/18/12 01:59 AM
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when obviously everything in Eastern Christianity is political and cultural.


I don't think this is a fair or accurate statement. Eastern Christianity is just as universal as Western Christianity.
Posted By: Otsheylnik Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/18/12 02:01 AM
Originally Posted by Nelson Chase
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when obviously everything in Eastern Christianity is political and cultural.


I don't think this is a fair or accurate statement. Eastern Christianity is just as universal as Western Christianity.


I don't think JDC was implying that the statement doesn't apply equally to the west.
Posted By: desertman Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/18/12 03:07 AM
Thank you, StuartK for taking the time for that post, and I do agree that there seem to be many mixed signals. Maybe the best any Eastern Catholic can do in the current confusion is to follow the direction and example of the Eastern Catholic bishops, priests, and monks and how they live their faith in relation to Rome.
Posted By: StuartK Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/18/12 04:14 AM
Actually, Nelson, everything in Western Christianity is also political and cultural. How could it not be? Man is a political being whose relationship to other human beings is shaped by a set of behaviors and practices we call culture. The only way for Christianity, of whatever type, to cease being both political and cultural, is for man to cease being man--or to become the New Man who will only come into being with the Parousia.

It's a very 20th century American mindset to believe that politics, culture and religion can all be kept separate from each other, in nice, neat boxes.
Posted By: Nelson Chase Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/18/12 04:22 AM
I don't disagree Stuart.
Posted By: JDC Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/18/12 04:57 AM
Geez. I'd thought the matter to be self evident, but I'd hate to see this conversation get side-tracked by an idle statement. Let me retract my remark and say that no offence was intended and that I regret and apologize for any I have given.

At any rate, the discussion will stay far more interesting if we can return to the issue of the example given by Otsheylnik which Stuart dismisses on startlingly flimsy grounds (for Stuart). If the example is not applicable, I would very much like to know how not. Again I say, If Stuart disputes the point, he should show how the examples are dissimilar, not how they're the same.
Posted By: Otsheylnik Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/18/12 05:50 AM
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Originally Posted by JDC
That won't do Stuart. It's beside the point. The point was, these groups never agreed to Chalcedon, yet it's still ecumenical and dogmatic, and the Coptic and Assyrian are still true Churches. Chalcedon was no more received by the entire Church than the Immaculate Conception was. The difference is one of numbers, not of type. And you go on to say well, that's different since we pretty much agree anyway and that example was political and cultural when we have already heard that the Immaculate Conception isn't (from the Orthodox position) heretical and when obviously everything in Eastern Christianity is political and cultural.

If you're disputing the point, you should show how the examples are dissimilar, not how they're the same.


If it needs to be more blindingly obvious what I am arguing, it's that an origin within one sui juris church is in itself not a reason that the Eastern Catholics couldn't accept the Immaculate Conception as traditional, ecumenical and dogmatic.

Likewise, if (as you claim) the idea of the Immaculate Conception can only first be found in the writings of medieval Latin theologians, this is also not a reason why it couldn't be later accepted as ecumenical, traditional and dogmatic. Chalcedonian Orthodoxy can't be found exactly in first, second or third century writings.

In view of examples such as this, I would also suggest that were reunion to take place, the objections raised in this thread do not in my view provide sufficient reasons why the Orthodox Churches could not also recognise the Dogma as traditional and ecumenical.
Posted By: danman916 Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/18/12 02:44 PM
Originally Posted by JDC
That won't do Stuart. It's beside the point. The point was, these groups never agreed to Chalcedon, yet it's still ecumenical and dogmatic, and the Coptic and Assyrian are still true Churches. Chalcedon was no more received by the entire Church than the Immaculate Conception was. The difference is one of numbers, not of type. And you go on to say well, that's different since we pretty much agree anyway and that example was political and cultural when we have already heard that the Immaculate Conception isn't (from the Orthodox position) heretical and when obviously everything in Eastern Christianity is political and cultural.

If you're disputing the point, you should show how the examples are dissimilar, not how they're the same.


I wholly agree and brought this point up about a month or so ago on another thread. It is a logical contradiction which one simply can't reconcile.
Posted By: DMD Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/18/12 04:01 PM
Thank you Nelson, I was actually put off by the prior statement of JDC as it reflects the type of Latin-Rite cultural imperialism and superiority that so offended my grandparents and which is supposed to be out of fashion following Vatican 2.
Posted By: JDC Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/18/12 04:30 PM
Originally Posted by DMD
Thank you Nelson, I was actually put off by the prior statement of JDC as it reflects the type of Latin-Rite cultural imperialism and superiority that so offended my grandparents and which is supposed to be out of fashion following Vatican 2.


In fact in my case it reflects nothing at all of Latin-rite anything. What I got from reading and discussions with Latin riters, even the kooky trad ones, were romantic ideas about Eastern purity and devotion to ritual, devoid of the politics or animosity that exists regarding culture, language, imperialism, Russification, etc. Certainly it was on this forum that I first (and second and third) read the joke about the Ukrainian lost at sea who built on his deserted island several Churches in order not to attend some of them. This is not a Latin rite joke. It is also not a Latin rite discussion going on now in another thread about how it was possible for a beloved priest with an Irish name and a Russian accent to minister to second-generation Canadian Ukrainians. This stuff is boggling, and most certainly not anything I even glimpsed through my upbringing in the Latin rite.
Posted By: jjp Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/18/12 08:32 PM
Originally Posted by Otsheylnik
Originally Posted by StuartK
In both cases, the problems were more political and cultural than substantive, which is what has enabled both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches to enter into Agreed Christological Statements with the non-Chalcedonian Churches. As Kyr Elias Zoghby said, "We all believe that Jesus Christ is fully God. We all believe that Jesus Christ is fully man. And we all believe that Jesus Christ is one. Everything else is philosophy".


hence the relevance of the example, I think the Immaculate Conception is more a cultural and political block to eastern Catholics and Orthodox than a substantive one.


You and I and Eastern Christians may think that, but some Roman Catholics certainly do not. Infallibility is a tough corner to paint oneself out of.
Posted By: jjp Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/18/12 08:41 PM
Originally Posted by JDC
That won't do Stuart. It's beside the point. The point was, these groups never agreed to Chalcedon, yet it's still ecumenical and dogmatic, and the Coptic and Assyrian are still true Churches. Chalcedon was no more received by the entire Church than the Immaculate Conception was. The difference is one of numbers, not of type. And you go on to say well, that's different since we pretty much agree anyway and that example was political and cultural when we have already heard that the Immaculate Conception isn't (from the Orthodox position) heretical and when obviously everything in Eastern Christianity is political and cultural.

If you're disputing the point, you should show how the examples are dissimilar, not how they're the same.


Were the Oriental churches always considered true Churches? Or, when Chalcedon was established as "ecumenical" were these churches seen as being outside the "true Church" and only later recognized as fully "Church"?
Posted By: JDC Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/18/12 09:30 PM
Originally Posted by jjp
Were the Oriental churches always considered true Churches? Or, when Chalcedon was established as "ecumenical" were these churches seen as being outside the "true Church" and only later recognized as fully "Church"?


I don't know. I suppose I don't know what they'd be other than Church, inasmuch as they represent the entirety of the Christian community, clergy, and hierarchy in a given place. If you know something else on the topic that does, in fact, render the example dissimilar, I'd like to know.
Posted By: StuartK Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/18/12 11:33 PM
Remember that the rejection of Chalcedon did not result in an immediate breaking of communion between Alexandria and Constantinople, and that attempts at reconciliation continued for another two centuries. Moreover, during that period, relations had their ups and downs, but at all times the Church of Alexandria was considered to be very much a part of the Catholic Church. Not even the establishment of a parallel hierarchy under Mar Jakub (hence the term "Jacobite Church"--nothing at all to do with Bonnie Prince Charlie) could change that.

Positions only became rigidly defined after the Muslim Conquest, when the Muslims extended political favor to the Jacobites and oppressed the Melkites as a way of driving a wedge between their Christian subjects and the Byzantine Empire.

As for the Church of the East, after the condemnation of Nestorius, the bulk of the Church of Antioch came back into the Catholic fold, but those elements of it (sometimes called the Church of Edessa) that were outside the boundaries of the Empire (hence under Parthian, and later Persian rule) adopted a more militant form of Antiochene theology, a move encouraged by the Parthians and Persians as a way of driving a wedge between their Christian subjects and the Roman Empire.

In short, politics and culture, in both instances. No substantive differences existed, and though it took about 1500 years, without any political or cultural barriers to get in the way, both sides understood and accepted this reality. A sign of just how peripheral the Christological differences were in reality--and where they stood in the great scheme of things--after the Synod of Diamper about half of the Syro-Malabarese Church (nominally "Nestorian") decided to switch its communion from the Church of the East to the Syrian Orthodox Church (nominally "Monophysite") without missing a beat, becoming the Syro-Malankarese Orthodox Church.
Posted By: jjp Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/18/12 11:48 PM
Edit: Stuart said it better than I did, which in these matters is typically the case.
Posted By: Michael_Thoma Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/19/12 01:47 AM
Re: the St. Thomas Christians of India

The switch made under an oppressive Portuguese dominated Jesuit regime, but the two separated bodies never questioned the Apostolic Succession of the other (once the incomplete blessing was formally made complete), the Scripture (all 72 books of the Pesetto and New Testament), or the origin of the Community.

The group which left Communion with Rome even used the same Liturgy for decades, in the 'wrong' dialect with no interruption or 'correction'.
Posted By: Otsheylnik Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/19/12 02:26 AM
Originally Posted by StuartK
Remember that the rejection of Chalcedon did not result in an immediate breaking of communion between Alexandria and Constantinople, and that attempts at reconciliation continued for another two centuries. Moreover, during that period, relations had their ups and downs, but at all times the Church of Alexandria was considered to be very much a part of the Catholic Church. Not even the establishment of a parallel hierarchy under Mar Jakub (hence the term "Jacobite Church"--nothing at all to do with Bonnie Prince Charlie) could change that.

Positions only became rigidly defined after the Muslim Conquest, when the Muslims extended political favor to the Jacobites and oppressed the Melkites as a way of driving a wedge between their Christian subjects and the Byzantine Empire.

As for the Church of the East, after the condemnation of Nestorius, the bulk of the Church of Antioch came back into the Catholic fold, but those elements of it (sometimes called the Church of Edessa) that were outside the boundaries of the Empire (hence under Parthian, and later Persian rule) adopted a more militant form of Antiochene theology, a move encouraged by the Parthians and Persians as a way of driving a wedge between their Christian subjects and the Roman Empire.

In short, politics and culture, in both instances. No substantive differences existed, and though it took about 1500 years, without any political or cultural barriers to get in the way, both sides understood and accepted this reality. A sign of just how peripheral the Christological differences were in reality--and where they stood in the great scheme of things--after the Synod of Diamper about half of the Syro-Malabarese Church (nominally "Nestorian") decided to switch its communion from the Church of the East to the Syrian Orthodox Church (nominally "Monophysite") without missing a beat, becoming the Syro-Malankarese Orthodox Church.


I don't really know what any of this does to contradict my point that there is nothing particularly wrong with one Church having a different definition of tradition than another.
Posted By: StuartK Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/19/12 03:00 AM
It depends on what you mean by "Tradition". All the Churches share the same Christology, regardless of how they express it. So they all have the same Tradition. But no one Church has the right to impose its mode of expression on any other Church against its will. So, Rome will just have to get over itself regarding things it declared "dogmatic" without asking anybody else.
Posted By: DMD Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/20/12 08:03 PM
Originally Posted by StuartK
It depends on what you mean by "Tradition". All the Churches share the same Christology, regardless of how they express it. So they all have the same Tradition. But no one Church has the right to impose its mode of expression on any other Church against its will. So, Rome will just have to get over itself regarding things it declared "dogmatic" without asking anybody else.


Don't be too hard on them, the Orthodox who incorporated elements of this thought and practice have found it hard to shed the 'trappings' of that thinking - hence 'First confession' classes etc....Even some parents still resist infant communion, although that is waning.
Posted By: dochawk Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/22/12 11:40 PM
My mind keeps coming to an example of a dogmatic claim that "2+2=4."

Others would react that, "sure, thats true, but why is it a dogma?"

hawk
Posted By: StuartK Re: Post-Schism Dogmas - 01/23/12 02:02 AM
The problem comes when someone points out that 1 + 3 also equals four, but the first person insists that 2 + 2 is the only right and proper, divinely ordained way of getting to four, and anathematizes all those who believe in 1 + 3, or 3 + 1, or 4 + 0, for that matter.
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