[I think what you've said is exactly what "communion with Rome" should mean and does mean if we, as "Orthodox in communion with Rome" be who we really are.]
Gee Alex, you seem to be living a double life where this 'Orthodox In Communion With Rome' claim comes up. You say one thing here and the complete opposite in your answers regarding the same title in the Ukrainian Orthodox website you co author with a Ukrainian Orthodox priest.
Where do you really stand? Or does it depend upon where you are posting?
Answer: It is true that there are a number of Ukrainian Greek Catholic priests who insist on calling themselves "Orthodox Christians in union with Rome." This is however a term which is based on a fallacy and which therefore makes no sense, apart from the fact that it is also offensive to Orthodox Christians. To be an "Orthodox Christian" in the truest sense of the word is to be a member of the One, Holy, Orthodox-Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ. The Roman Catholic Church is not a part of this Church, due to a number of (new) doctrines it espouses, including those affecting the position of the Pope of Rome. Even if a Greek Catholic calls himself or herself an "Orthodox Christian," as is done in the Liturgy anyway, and even if he or she accepts the majority of Eastern positions on the issue of the Procession of the Holy Spirit etc., that does not mean that he or she really is an "Orthodox Christian" in the true sense of the word.
“Orthodox in communion with Rome:”
Trials and Tribulations of Eastern Catholics
Dr. Alexander Roman
Eastern by ritual, Western by ecclesial jurisdiction, Eastern Catholics have historically been pulled in two directions by competing loyalties that continue to cause tension in their church identities and lives. With politics and cultural issues thrown into the mix, it is no wonder that they appear to be forever pondering what the future holds for what is a true complex of various, distinct perspectives on everything from liturgical issues to what really constitutes a “Particular Church” in union with Rome . . .
Even the issue of “union with Rome” can provoke numerous arguments that never do seem to get resolved. (If you doubt me, then join an internet Eastern Christian chat forum and see for yourself!)
One may go happily on one’s way talking about the ups and downs of Eastern Catholic “union with Rome” when someone breaks into the debate to say that “union” implies “subservience” and so “in communion with” should be used to avoid that implication.
Eastern Catholic discussion circles are also prone to develop their own sense of “political correctness” and Roman Catholic and Orthodox “intruders” can be rudely corrected in the way they innocently express themselves about the realities of Eastern Catholic life.
Thus, under the terms of such correctness, “Church” replaces “Rite.” In every which way, Eastern Catholics involved in such discussions wish to carefully distinguish themselves from the Roman Catholic West, while insisting they are “Orthodox” in all but the papacy.
And even with respect to the papacy, they have their own (Eastern) theological viewpoint that qualifies their relationship with the Pope in Rome. Some maintain they recognize him only as a “first among equals.” Others say he is only the court of last resort and when the primates of the Eastern Catholic churches ask him to step in. As in other respects, what Rome expects of Eastern Catholics is at variance with what some of their bishops and laity feel is actually the case.
Of course, one would find that the majority of Eastern Catholics, the people in the pews (oh my, now let’s not get started on the issue of PEWS!) are oblivious to any of this. They truly do see themselves as “Catholics” rather than as “Orthodox in communion with Rome” – in fact, the very idea of calling themselves “Orthodox” would suggest, to them, that they aren’t fully under Rome or fully “Catholic.”
Within the Eastern Catholics Churches, especially the Ukrainian and Ruthenian Churches, there are parishes which are truly very Eastern. In some cases, they are “more Orthodox than the Orthodox” in terms of their liturgical practices. Apart from the commemoration of the Pope of Rome, there is no other apparent distinguishing feature about them that would make a visitor to them suggest they are anything other than “Orthodox.”
And yet, this particular Eastern Catholic movement is not without its own pitfalls.
One of these is that the more “Eastern” they seem to become, the more likely that members of such parishes will eventually become formal members of Orthodox Churches (“definitely NOT in communion with Rome”).
It is, in a sense, inevitable that this would occur. Such Eastern Catholics would tend to have close relations with Orthodox priests and parishes (and monasteries, such as that of Jordanville, New York).
Soon, most of their spiritual “significant others” are, in fact, traditional Orthodox Christians. The beauty and detail of the Orthodox liturgical services draws them toward the Orthodox Church in a way that Eastern Catholic services, for all their efforts, simply do not. In fact, most Eastern Catholic parishes do not invest nearly as much time and effort in their liturgical lives while tolerating varying degrees of Westernization and Latinization.
The only thing that keeps them “Eastern Catholic” is a murky idea about a relationship with the Pope of Rome. And, in time, it becomes increasingly more difficult to “tune out” of the Orthodox charges of heresy against the Roman Catholic Church with the prime issue of the “Filioque” addition to the Creed taking front and centre stage.
And the efforts of some “Orthodox in communion with Rome” to effectively water down the jurisdictional and infallible universal claims of the papacy can also lead
Eastern Catholics to fully embrace Orthodoxy. In response to one Eastern Catholic’s contention that his Church recognizes the Pope only as “first among equals,” an Orthodox monastic of the Greek Church replied, “So do we!”
One can often come across Eastern Catholics who are therefore always teetering and tottering between their own church and where they really do wish to belong – to Orthodoxy proper.
Some of these would prefer to attend an Orthodox Church for liturgical services rather than suffer kneeling, pews and shortened services in Eastern Catholic parishes. Others have had bad experiences with other Eastern Catholics, being called “Russifiers” and other quaint locutions for their love of all things Orthodox.
The rebirth of the Eastern Catholic Churches in Eastern Europe has tended to make age-old Latinizations a matter of priority rather than something to be eventually gotten rid of. Latinizations there are today symbolic means of differentiating the Greek-Catholic Church from their old religious/national oppressor, the Russian Orthodox church.
It is true, of course, that historically the Russian Orthodox Church has used force in Eastern Europe in bringing “uniates” back into the (Russian) Orthodox fold. Part of this was an initial attitude of “respect” for the Ruthenian Greek-Catholics while “assisting” them in the process of ridding their spiritual lives of Latin practices (rosaries, stations of the Cross etc.) that were imposed by Latin national oppressors in a political attempt to Latinize and Polonize the people. And afterwards, the Russian Church simply moved in, often with force of arms (and not only in 1946) to impose on the Greek-Catholics another form of religious/cultural domination.
And so this could explain the actions of nationalistic Ukrainian Greek-Catholics as they nervously examine and critique the “Vostochnyk” (Easternizing) party of their Church. And woe to the long-bearded, three-bar Cross wearing Eastern Catholic priests that resemble the hated Russian “Batiushkas . . .”
From here, Eastern Catholics in North America have tended to move into a debate over how they can divest themselves from their ties to the Churches in the cultural homelands.
There are those who energetically propose a single, merged “Byzantine Catholic Jurisdiction” for North America – even with its own Patriarch. This jurisdiction would include all Ukrainians, Melkites and others – while “respecting” their cultural identities (that, unfortunately, tends to be viewed by these solely in terms of different ethnic foods and the like).
And the fact is that there are converts to Eastern Catholicism from Roman Catholicism and Protestantism in North America who do want English liturgies and a more culturally neutral church life.
Traditional Roman Catholics, long the enemy of the very idea of “Eastern Catholic Churches” and married priests, now, more often than not, prefer to become Eastern Catholics where their need for high ritual (gone from the post-Vatican II RC Church) is, at least, satisfied. In the Eastern Catholic parishes, they have the best of “both” of their worlds – the beauty of ritual, even if non-Latin, AND the security in knowing they still are members of the “true Church.”
The tensions involved in Eastern Catholic church life was brought home to me during the consecration of the new Ukrainian Catholic bishop for Eastern Canada in July of last year.
The whole event seemed to have turned into an eccesial “tug of war” between His Beatitude Patriarch Lubomyr Husar and the papal nuncio.
The Ukrainian Catholic primate insisted that the consecration was his affair and that of the synod of the Ukrainian Catholic Church (in fact, two years before, the synod did choose the new bishop to replace the retired (and on that very day, reposed) Bishop Kyr Isidore Borecky - + memory eternal!).
But the papal nuncio kept reiterating the scenario where it was HE and he alone who contacted the new bishop and “convinced” him to lead the troublesome eparchy. The Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Eastern Canada is probably the most “Ukrainian” and most “Eastern” at the same time, accepting the married priesthood and other traditions that have always been the mainstay of the Ukrainian Church.
But the Episcopal Candidate did choose to read quite Latin-sounding documents and oaths to the Pope and the like.
As to who won the tug of war, the jury is still out . . .
Vladyka Yurij of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Canada was present as a guest and he was enthusiastically greeted by His Beatitude Lubomyr Husar (and by everyone at the banquet later).
A bit of a tug of war developed between these two, as it turned out . . .
His Beatitude cordially greeted the Orthodox Hierarch and then talked about how we all needed to return to the unity of the Church in the time of St Volodymyr the Great.
Somehow I knew Vladyka Yurij wasn’t going to let that one by . . .
At the banquest, at his closing remarks, Vladyka Yurij revisited that comment by His Beatitude.
And, said Vladyka, “If we wish to return to the unity of the Church in the time of St Volodymyr the Great, I would suggest that we return to the unity of the Faith in his time . . .”
Sitting where I was, among several Ukrainian Catholic priests, including two friends, I immediately blurted out in the midst of the silence that enveloped the room just then, “Now that is my wonderful bishop! My wonderful bishop!”
One of the older priests turned to me with slightly bared teeth. “You are kidding, right?” he asked me in Ukrainian.
“Most certainly not!” I replied.
Another troublesome aspect of certain Eastern Catholics is that they sometimes tend not to take you at your word