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Marie Offline OP
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I don't mean to cause anyone offense, but the below has happened often enough to me, that I have to ask out of curiousity...

What might be the reason that Byzantine Catholics would identify themselves as Orthodox?

The first time this happened I was at an event hosted by an Catholic organization, so there were lots of Latin Rite Catholics around. I'm Orthodox and wear a cross identifiable as Orthodox by those who know such things. I had several people come up to chat - a group of friends together (first time I'd met them) - and they all said they were Orthodox. I was out of my area and invited to their parish for Vespers, but they wouldn't tell me which parish it was, only gave directions. That made me suspicious - every Orthodox I've ever met has absolutely no problem saying which parish they belong to - they admitted, with evident embarrassment, that they were Byzantine Catholic, after much additional conversation.

This has happened, with slight variations, to me multiple times. I now wonder why they're embarrassed of being Byzantine Catholic. It's nothing to be ashamed of. My area has at least 3-4 Byzantine Catholic parishes of various rites that I know of, and I'm sure there are more I'm not aware of.

My English-language parish has various Byzantine Catholics who visit from time for Vespers. They all say they come because their parish doesn't have any services in English (I've never been able to find out where they belong). They've mentioned coming to Liturgy and taking Communion, but our deacon and/or priest has had to remind them that receiving Communion is not possible.

Is it a common thing for Byzantine Catholics to believe they can commune at Orthodox parishes with the Orthodox priest's permission?

Again, please forgive me for any offense I might cause. The whole thing was just strange.

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I think most people know that if you haven't received the sacraments of initiation in the Orthodox Church, you don't receive communion. The church certainly makes no secret of this.

Why somebody would want to receive communion in an Orthodox Church but not become Orthodox is beyond me, but that's a different question.

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Welcome aboard Marie.

You'll find that Eastern Catholics range the full spectrum, from heavily Latinized to Orthodox in all but name. Many are fully Orthodox in praxis, and often identify themselves as Orthodox in communion with Rome. I realize that as Orthodox, we have difficulty in following that, but hang around and hear their stories. They often walk a tightrope that we in the East do not have to.

Alexandr

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If you attended the Byzantine church in my area as well as the Russian Orthodox, you would find they're not too different; same neighborhood, both originally populated by same ethnic group, split within families, same liturgy.

The major differences are that I may take communion in the Byzantine church as I'm Roman Catholic and that one of the priests is a local boy, the other is imported.

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I and my parish do not normally call ourselves "Byzantine Catholic", both because this is something of a neologism and because it has become identified largely with one particular jurisdiction in the USA. We are officially known as "Greek-Catholic", which is a much older term and quite familiar to our people, many of whom have come to Ireland recently from Eastern Europe, know what a Greek-Catholic is, but have either never heard of "Byzantine Catholics" or would react negatively if someone tried to apply that term to them.

"Orthodox", however, if applied to my faithful does not disturb them either. The only reason for leaving it off our letterhead and parish seal is that I do not care to be accused of operating under a false flag, or of trying to hoodwink people into joining our parish - we do indeed have some Eastern Orhtodox parishioners, who are quite welcome, but whom no one is seeking to deceive.

Fr. Serge

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If you look at the Congregation of Eastern Churches letter to the Melkite Patriarch (posted in the most recent thread on the Melkites), it is clear that the Vatican has some reservations about eastern rite Catholics calling themselves Orthodox. If they mean to identify entirely with the Orthodox Church and claim that their faith is the same faith as the Eastern Orthodox, then this seems problematic according to Vatican officials, which includes Pope Bendedict XVI. From the letter:

It is clear that this Patriarchate is an integral part of the Christian East whose patrimony it shares. As to the Greek-Melkite Catholics declaring their complete adhesion to the teaching of Eastern Orthodoxy, it is necessary to take into account the fact that the Orthodox Churches today are not in full communion with the Church of Rome, and that this adhesion is therefore not possible as long as there is not a full correspondence in the profession and exercise of the faith by the two parties. Besides, a correct formulation of the faith necessitates a reference not only to a particular Church, but to the whole Church of Christ, which knows no frontiers, neither in space nor in time.

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Originally Posted by Marie
What might be the reason that Byzantine Catholics would identify themselves as Orthodox?

Marie,

Simple put, our Divine Liturgy proclaims us to be Orthodox Christians.

Lex orandi, lex credendi.

The distinction to be made regarding what Joe has quoted from then Cardinal Ratzinger is that to say that we hold to all that Eastern Orthodoxy believes and teaches is true insofar as what is affirmed, but not true in what is commonly denied of Catholic teaching. As no ecumenical council has authoritatively defined what is affirmed by Catholicism as outside of the boundaries of Orthodoxy, it is perfectly legitimate for Eastern Catholics to refer to themselves as Orthodox Christians.

As to approaching the chalice in an Orthodox Church, I believe that Eastern Catholics should respect the wishes of the Orthodox hierarch.

God bless,

Gordo

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Jim Offline
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Words like "catholic" and "orthodox" are often used to follow one agenda or another. Similarly, here in the southwest, Mormons use the word "christian" to describe themselves, but are not believers in the trinity, which is necessary in the eyes of most traditional believers in order to be regarded as really christian.

Everybody has to read between the lines to come to know all the subtle differences at work nowadays.

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I agree that the words themselves really don't have meaning. One can alternately say catholic or orthodox and be referring to the same church, mine actually says "XYZ Orthodox Catholic Church" on the cornerstone. One point

Quote
As no ecumenical council has authoritatively defined what is affirmed by Catholicism as outside of the boundaries of Orthodoxy, it is perfectly legitimate for Eastern Catholics to refer to themselves as Orthodox Christians.

Leaving aside the name issue, this is not the case. IV Constantinople which is considered a piece of the dogmatic teaching of the Orthodox Church condemned any alterations of the creed. This was affirmed and held up in the Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs in the 19th century which repeated the condemnation (referring to IV Constantinople as the 8th Ecumenical Council) as well as condemning Papal Supremacy. One cannot be an Orthodox Christian, as the Orthodox Church uses the term, and be in communion with a church that uses or repeats an altered form of the creed. That is just one example.

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Jim,

But in reference to the historic Sister Churches that constitute Western and Eastern Christendom, the nomenclature of "Orthodox" and "Catholic" can be applied equally across all jurisdictions. I certainly would not begrudge an Eastern Orthodox Christian in communion with Constantinople the right to refer to himself or herself as "Catholic".

Point of fact, the Latins in the Tridentine liturgical tradition also refer to themselves as "Orthodox Christians". The meaning of the term is much broader than it has come to be treated in recent centuries, where "Orthodox" means those Churches outside of the communion with Rome and "Catholic" means those Churches in communion with Rome.

God bless,

Gordo

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Originally Posted by ebed melech
Originally Posted by Marie
What might be the reason that Byzantine Catholics would identify themselves as Orthodox?

Marie,

Simple put, our Divine Liturgy proclaims us to be Orthodox Christians.

Lex orandi, lex credendi.

The distinction to be made regarding what Joe has quoted from then Cardinal Ratzinger is that to say that we hold to all that Eastern Orthodoxy believes and teaches is true insofar as what is affirmed, but not true in what is commonly denied of Catholic teaching. As no ecumenical council has authoritatively defined what is affirmed by Catholicism as outside of the boundaries of Orthodoxy, it is perfectly legitimate for Eastern Catholics to refer to themselves as Orthodox Christians.

As to approaching the chalice in an Orthodox Church, I believe that Eastern Catholics should respect the wishes of the Orthodox hierarch.
God bless,

Gordo

That pretty much sums it up. Only Orthodox christians can receive Orthodox communion. Period. The church is very clear about this. Similarily, an Orthodox is forbidden to take communion outside of the Orthodox church. If they do they pretty much have excommunicated themselves.

If a stranger tries to approach the chalice they are asked if they are Orthodox. If they are not they are not given communion. Also, no Orthodox should approach the chalice in a Catholic church, although the priest there will commune them.

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Well said, Etnick.

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In the Catholic Latin Rite, in the Canon Missae (the anaphora used in Rome from the 4th or 5th century), the celebrant prays as follows:

Quote
We offer them [the sacred offerings] to You in the first place for Your holy Catholic Church: that you deign to give her peace, to watch over her, to keep her united, and to rule over her, throughout the whole world: one with your servant, N., our Pope, and our Bishop, N., and in union with all orthodox cultivators of the Catholic and Apostolic faith.

I have always understood the term "orthodox" in my tradition as denoting a quality of our Faith and Praxis, such that it does not primarily designate this or that "Church", but what "the Church" is.

I have come to understand the sense in which the Orthodox Churches seem to understand it. However, in my own tradition, "orthodox" represents adherence to everything the Faith teaches, even if there are other doctrines or practices which, though not opposed to "what is orthodox", may reflect a more specific spirituality or set of practices.

In this understanding, "orthodox" Catholicism cannot be deemed conservative or progressive -- it is the essence sine qua non of the Faith, failing which a Catholic becomes an apostate.

Best regards,
Michael

Last edited by Michael McD; 11/12/07 03:39 PM. Reason: added "in my tradition" for clarity and to avoid any note of disparagement of other understandings
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Originally Posted by AMM
One cannot be an Orthodox Christian, as the Orthodox Church uses the term, and be in communion with a church that uses or repeats an altered form of the creed. That is just one example.

St. Photius was at the end of his life, as was my personal favorite and perhaps the last of the great fathers, St. Symeon the New Theologian.

In ICXC,

Gordo

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Originally Posted by Etnick
That pretty much sums it up. Only Orthodox christians can receive Orthodox communion. Period. The church is very clear about this. Similarily, an Orthodox is forbidden to take communion outside of the Orthodox church. If they do they pretty much have excommunicated themselves.

If a stranger tries to approach the chalice they are asked if they are Orthodox. If they are not they are not given communion. Also, no Orthodox should approach the chalice in a Catholic church, although the priest there will commune them.

Intercommunion has been practiced in various places over different periods of time. I do not think it is as clearly and universally defined in every jurisdiction as you assert it to be.

God bless,

Gordo

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