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Originally Posted by StuartK
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In all seriousness, I think Bishop Elias (Zoghby) was doing everything possible to try and heal the wounds of the Great Schism. He is to be commended for trying. Unfortunately, his formulation was rejected by those in authority in both Eastern Orthodoxy, and in Catholicism.

Nous sommes tous Zoghbyistes. The Melkite Church, which is now my home, has never abandoned the Zoghby Declaration, and Rome has not demanded they renounce it. It remains the operative policy of the Melkite Church, and I can stand with them in professing that I believe everything that the Orthodox Church believes and am in communion with the Church of Rome in the manner such communion was understood in the first millennium. Patriarch Gregorios professes that, he's in communion with Benedict XVI, and it is quite good enough for me.

It's important to remember that the Melkite Synod did not take a blunt, unnuanced acceptance of Sayedna Zoghby's statement. Specifically the Synod said that there is still discussion to be had between the Melkite Church and the Antiochian Orthodox Church over the role and powers of the Papacy, but that this difference was not one of Faith.

So the Melkite Church does not accept "everything the Orthodox believe" about the Papacy, but on matters of fundamental Faith. The Papacy remains a dividing issue, perhaps THE dividing issue, between the Orthodox and the Melkites. This isn't to say that the Melkite Church accepts the "ultra-montanist" position, but it does mean that there is a clear difference that still needs to be reconciled. The big thing is that the Melkite Church doesn't view this difference as warranting a split at this time, hence the ongoing policy of open Communion and engagement with the Eastern Orthodox.

Peace and God bless!

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But it brings me back to my earlier point on another thread: if reception by the whole Church is the primary criterion for ecumenicity, then how does one assert that every Council since and including Chalcedon (even if the limit is 7) is ecumenical since Alexandria - one of the Pentarchy and an Apostolic Church - has not received these Councils as authoritative or ecumenical?

We may have to rethink the entire issue, or create a taxis of councils. For the Romans (that is to say, the Church within the boundaries of the Roman Empire), the oikumene was the boundaries of the Empire itself. The Church of the East was, for the most part, outside of the oikumene from the beginning, and did not participate in any councils after Ephesus. Representatives of the Oriental Churches did participate in many of the later councils, but in the end, efforts to reconcile failed.

It has to be recognized that there were in fact no substantive differences between the Chalcedonians and the Non-Chalcedonians (Meyendorff demonstrates that pretty effectively in Christ in Orthodox Theology); the real differences were terminological and cultural: for the Syrians, the Copts and the Armenians, it was reverence for the Cyrillian formula and resistance to Byzantine cultural imperialism that deepened the separation. And this separation was not drastic or immediate. Like the estrangement of East and West, it took place over centuries, punctuated by periods of rapprochement and communion alternating with periods of persecution. Only with the establishment of a distinct Jacobite hierarchy parallel to the standing "catholic" hierarchy can a definitive break be discerned. Even then, there were prospects for reconciliation up to the Muslim Conquest.

Every single council after Chalcedon was intended to rectify shortcomings in the Christological formulation--specifically, to answer the objections of the Cyrillians. Each stage in the synthesis (Meyendorff's term) brought further refinement and clarification. The process only ended with the Muslim conquest. The Muslims, wishing to separate the indigenous Christian population of the Near East from the Byzantines, recognized the Jacobite hierarchy and persecuted the "Melkites" (as the Byzantine Church was called). For its part, Byzantium, focused entirely on survival in the face of the Muslim onslaught, turned inward and no longer concerned itself with the affairs of the Coptic and Syrian Churches (though it continued to intervene in Armenian affairs for many centuries to come).

In short, the schism of the Chalcedonian and Non-Chalcedonian Churches has no concrete theological foundation, but was primarily a social and political conflict exacerbated by the Muslim conquest and Muslim efforts to keep the two sides separated. How well they succeeded can be seen by the fourteen hundred year interval before, both sides sitting down in charity, they were able to recognize that they had been in "fierce agreement" on the subject all that time. It is, in short, a tragedy, nothing less.

As I said, the separation continues not because there is disagreement but because the weight of one and a half millennia of history cannot be shrugged off so easily. The obvious solution is for the Chalcedonians to recognize the orthodoxy of the Non-Chalcedonians without having them accept the acts or the formulations of Chalcedon and subsequent councils. In effect, they have done this; that is the effect of the Joint Christological Statements. On the other side, the Non-Chalcedonians need to acknowledge the legitimacy of Chalcedon and subsequent councils, without actually signing on to them. And this has essentially been done through the same Joint Christological Statements.

The integrity of the Seven Councils has been maintained. The integrity of the Cyrillian Tradition has been maintained. The integrity of the faith has been maintained. That the separation continues is due entirely to those cultural and political factors that caused it in the first place--the kind of picking at scabs which plagues the Catholic-Orthodox relationship as well.

What Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox need to ask themselves is why both of them can come to agreement with the Non-Chalcedonians on such a fundamental issue as the nature of Christ, yet they cannot come to agreement with each other over issues that are, in comparison, utterly trivial.

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The Melkite Church, which is now my home, has never abandoned the Zoghby Declaration, and Rome has not demanded they renounce it.


Stuart:

Rome did reject the Zoghby Declaration, you know that.




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Yeah, but the Melkites don't care. Neither do I.

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As to which Councils are recognized as Ecumenical by the Catholic Church, all which one must do is to pick up a copy of the Catechism (a document commissioned by a Synod of Bishops held in Rome,and "blessed" by Pope John Paul II-a Magisterial document). They are enumerated there, and they amount to twenty one in number. Bellarmine may have drawn up the list, but, somewhere along the line, the list became the official one recognized by the Magisterium. If the Catholic side of the discussions backs off and says, "oops, there were only seven Ecumenical Councils in the first place", that would be a radical about-face (and I, for one, would be re-assessing where I belong). Similarly, if Eastern Orthodox hierarchs were, all of a sudden, recognizing 21 councils as Ecumenical, that would be a similar about-face. Call it legalism, but both Churches recognize the necessity of Law and official acts in order for the Church to function on a day-by-day basis. Official declarations, in the final analysis, are necessary for clarity so that the Faithful are spared confusion. It still remains to be seen what, if anything, comes out of Balamand and Ravenna in terms of their full acceptance (or rejection) by Rome and the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchates, especially on an official level.

Dn. Robert

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Originally Posted by Deacon Robert Behrens
As to which Councils are recognized as Ecumenical by the Catholic Church, all which one must do is to pick up a copy of the Catechism (a document commissioned by a Synod of Bishops held in Rome,and "blessed" by Pope John Paul II-a Magisterial document). They are enumerated there, and they amount to twenty one in number.
So you are not in a agreement with Pope Paul VI who noted that there is a difference in ecumenicity between the Seven Ecumenical Councils and what he called the "General Councils in the West"?

Why is it that some Byzantines must be more Latin than the Latins?

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Originally Posted by Administrator
So you are not in a agreement with Pope Paul VI who noted that there is a difference in ecumenicity between the Seven Ecumenical Council and what he called the "General Councils in the West"?
Why is it that some Byzantines must be more Latin than the Latins?

Paul VI's comments were contained in a letter to Cardinal Willebrands commemorating the anniversary of the Council of Lyons. This does not carry any magisterial weight. If you consult pre-Vatican II writings, such as Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Ludwig Ott, and even more recent post-Vatican II writings on the topic of Ecumenical Councils, you'll note that the terms "General Council" and "Ecumenical Council" are applied almost interchangably. The Catechism of the Catholic Church was approved and published long after Paul VI's letter, and, if memory serves me well, there is an index in the back which lists all of what Catholicism considers to be Ecumenical Councils, and there are 21 of them. This is not a question of being Eastern or Latin. The issue transcends all of that. It would be illogical for two Churches to be "in communion" with each other, and yet to be at odds over such a major issue. In fact, this would constitute a "false union". The term "in communion with" carries an implication of full agreement on defined matters of Faith & Morals. If the Pope tells RC's that they must believe in the infallible truth of the Dogma of the existence of Purgatory, as defined at Trent, but then tells Greek Catholics that they don't have to believe this because they don't have to accept Trent, then what kind of a Church are we talking about? I am not interested in a Church which talks out of both sides of its mouth. The question of how many Councils are "Ecumenical" is a serious one, and is one of the dividing points which keeps Eastern Orthodoxy in a posture of not being in communion with us.

Dn. Robert

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This does not carry any magisterial weight.

What the Pope says goes--except when it doesn't.

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Originally Posted by StuartK
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This does not carry any magisterial weight.

What the Pope says goes--except when it doesn't.

The Church has always made distinctions as to the level of weight carried by its teachings. A Papal letter to a Cardinal, by itself, is not quite "De Fide".

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Amazing that one would consider a list of councils in an index infallible teaching and the words of a pope one does not like dismissible. I'm sorry, but you are coming across utterly Latin in your mentality regarding what constitutes Catholic theology. You might consider that you can't be more Catholic then the pope!

What to know what we believe? Study the Liturgy!

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I admit that leaning on an index, in this case, is not the best idea. But, it is an indication, in a Magisterial document, as to what the Magisterium (the Roman Pontiff and the Bishops in Communion with Him) of the Universal Church (not just the Latins) holds, namely, that there were 21 Ecumenical Councils. I am sure that, leisure time allowing, I can produce an even more authoritative source. It needs to be noted that this is not a question of theology. Theology serves the Church in clarifying dogmatic issues. Dogma is the end product of the theological process, and is ultimately taught by the official teachers, the hierarchs. The question at hand is a dogmatic one. As I said above, if I believed that there were only Seven Councils of the Church which were the sources of Dogmatic teaching, with all that followed as being in the category of "theologumena", I would feel compelled to join Eastern Orthodoxy, and would renounce the Unia as "false union", because I would see Rome, and those in union with her, to be making false claims. At the present time, being Greek Catholic is one thing, while being Eastern Orthodox is another. Eastern Orthodox faithful seem to grasp that much more easily than many "vostochnik" Greek Catholics (and I am favorable toward the "vostochnik" parties in Eastern Catholicism, only with the understanding that "dogma is dogma"; and "de Fide is de Fide", whether the originating source is Eastern or Western. Eastern and Western theological approaches may have different angles, but, in the final analysis, there is to be no contradiction on decided, received, dogmatic teachings). On the issue of the "words of a Pope", a letter to a Cardinal does not have the same weight as a Papal Encyclical, which, in turn does not carry the same weight as an ex Cathedra Papal teaching, or the dogmatic teaching of an Ecumenical Council (which must be ratified by a Pope). The Church has always made such distinctions.

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De fide today, discarded tomorrow. One really doesn't want to look to closely at all the things the Latin Church has taught "de fide" over the last 1000 years.

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Originally Posted by Deacon Robert
I admit that leaning on an index, in this case, is not the best idea. But, it is an indication, in a Magisterial document, as to what the Magisterium (the Roman Pontiff and the Bishops in Communion with Him) of the Universal Church (not just the Latins) holds, namely, that there were 21 Ecumenical Councils.
Pope Paul VI did not deny that what the later 14 “General Councils in the West” spoke valid theology (even though we have examples of one council overturning teachings from earlier councils). He merely acknowledged that these later councils were called by the West and mainly affect the West. As Greek Catholics we can look at these councils as legitimate (although some of the teachings were overturned by later councils) but there is no need for us to change our theological ‘recipes’ to incorporate their teaching. Indeed, we have not, for our Liturgy is unchanged (forgetting for the moment the Ruthenian RDL). The problem here (and Serge / Young Fogey gets this part right), is that many (maybe most) Greek Catholics are conditioned to use a Latin measuring stick to determine whether our theology is correct (his point in my words).

Originally Posted by Deacon Robert
The question at hand is a dogmatic one. As I said above, if I believed that there were only Seven Councils of the Church which were the sources of Dogmatic teaching, with all that followed as being in the category of "theologumena", I would feel compelled to join Eastern Orthodoxy, and would renounce the Unia as "false union", because I would see Rome, and those in union with her, to be making false claims.
Be careful. There are plenty of references in the Church’s theology (i.e., Roman Catholic, since that is your measuring stick) that treat the Seven Councils as the pillar upon which all other Catholic theology is built. Placing the definitions taught by the later Councils into a category of Latin theology (i.e., Latin ‘recipies’) does not automatically reduce them to tehologumena. It merely means that we in the East don’t adopt them and keep our liturgy and theological ‘recipes’ unchanged.

Originally Posted by Deacon Robert
At the present time, being Greek Catholic is one thing, while being Eastern Orthodox is another. Eastern Orthodox faithful seem to grasp that much more easily than many "vostochnik" Greek Catholics (and I am favorable toward the "vostochnik" parties in Eastern Catholicism, only with the understanding that "dogma is dogma"; and "de Fide is de Fide", whether the originating source is Eastern or Western. Eastern and Western theological approaches may have different angles, but, in the final analysis, there is to be no contradiction on decided, received, dogmatic teachings).
And this is where I disagree with you the most. It is easy to be Roman Catholic or Orthodox and point to one’s own theology as perfect and the other’s as flawed (most on either side don't do this but many do). But we Greek Catholics live with the tension of being Orthodox who are trying to respect Latin theology. Or, more plainly, while claiming that the Eastern or Western sources have “different angles” you are insisting on using the Latin measuring stick to measure the Catholicity of our Orthodox theology. That just does not work and never will work. And that is what will destroy the Greek Catholic Church.

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John,

You wrote:

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...even though we have examples of one council overturning teachings from earlier councils...

Can you provide examples (or references) of this? I believe Stuart also referenced something similar, but I have never personally run across this assertion before. (Beyond those who assert that Vatican II was a radical breach...)

Thanks...

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Originally Posted by StuartK
Yeah, but the Melkites don't care. Neither do I.

You may not care, but that does not give you the right to say that Rome hasn't said anything on this matter.

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