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This begs the questions, because we do not know and have no way of knowing. It is not part of the divine revelation.


As a Byzantine Catholic I am bound by Pope Pius IX. We simply have to get over this idea that there is a Western theology and a separate and distinct Eastern theology which allows us to reject what we might not feel comfortable with. If the Church is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, then so is the faith. What's the point of being in union with Rome if we're not going to be in union with Rome?

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Wherefore, in humility and fasting, we unceasingly offered our private prayers as well as the public prayers of the Church to God the Father through his Son, that he would deign to direct and strengthen our mind by the power of the Holy Spirit. In like manner did we implore the help of the entire heavenly host as we ardently invoked the Paraclete. Accordingly, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for the honor of the Holy and undivided Trinity, for the glory and adornment of the Virgin Mother of God, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith, and for the furtherance of the Catholic religion, by the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own: "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."

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[quote=Ghosty When we honor Mary in the Liturgy, we honor her as utterly pure and sinless, and that carries more weight than the opinion of a handful of theologians, Saints and Fathers though they be. [/quote]

Except of course that the Church Father who taught that she sinned by presumption and vainglory, Saint John Chrysostom, was precisely the man who wrote the Liturgy!!

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I prefer to believe that we are in communion with Rome, a relationship of mutual love, sharing and respect that does not require either submission, subordination or assimilation. And the Church of Rome seems to agree with me on this, if you take its ecumenical statements at face value.

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Such statements of course must be read in conjunction with other statements like Dominus Jesus . In any event, the Pope can only really be a witness to the truth. So I simply maintain what I said before--theology of East and West cannot really contradict each other if Christ founded but one Church.

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I think the institution of immaculate conception of the Virgin was brought about by the fact that the West does not differentiate between personal, ancestral and original sin. Of the three, only personal sin defiles.


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[quote=lm] As a Byzantine Catholic I am bound by Pope Pius IX. We simply have to get over this idea that there is a Western theology and a separate and distinct Eastern theology which allows us to reject what we might not feel comfortable with.[/quote]

Quite apart from the need to accept the infallibly proclaimed statements of the Pope there is also a requirement to give assent to the teachings of the Pope, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra. I find that quite interesting but is it only required of Roman Catholics or of Byzantine Catholics also?

As "Lumen Gentium" says:

"This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will." ~Dogmatic Constitution on the church #25

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I don't believe anyone said that they did. However, no "dogma" can be imposed upon another Church if it employs either the assumptions or the theological modes of expression particular to another Church.

The doctrine of the immaculate conception really isn't about Mary--like all Marian doctrines, it is about Christ. The West found such a doctrine necessary to explain the sinlessness of Christ's human nature given its understanding that man inherits a "stain" of original sin from Adam, something that has irreparably broken the image and likeness of God in man, which can only be restored through baptism. In the West, all human beings are born into a "state of sin". If Jesus was truly man, born of a woman, then he would inherit the stain of original sin from her, unless, of course, she was somehow exempt from that stain of sin.

The East does not believe that, understanding the impact of Adam's fall on mankind to be mortality and corruption, which in turn leads to sin. In the East, all sin is personal. Therefore, there is no need for Mary to be protected from sin from the moment of her conception, since she, like the rest of us, are not born into a "state of sin". Her Son, therefore, does not need to be "protected" from the stain of sin inherited from his mother, since there is no stain to inherit.

The West and the East were both aware of their difference of opinion on this point well back into the patristic era, and long ago agreed to disagree (though, in recent times, zealots on both sides have tried to elevate this difference to an importance it did not have for the Fathers). I believe the West is entitled to its interpretation, and the East is entitled to its interpretation, so long as neither attempts to impose upon the other. Both agree on the fundamental theologia of the issue, that in Adam's Fall, man suffered a moral catastrophe that alienated man from God. The hows and whys and wherefores are mere theoria.

This explains why the doctrine of the immaculate conception must remain a theologumenon of the Western Church: To accept it as dogma requires acceptance of all the underlying premises of the doctrine as dogma, which would mean dogmatization of Latin anthropology, which would undermine the entire foundation of Eastern soteriology and sacramentology.

There is nothing in the doctrine of the immaculate conception on a superficial level that contradicts the Orthodox Tradition, and therefore, if individual Orthodox, whether Fathers of the Church or modern-day laymen choose to believe it as a personal opinion, that is within their purview. After all, as I have said, the phenomenology of Mary's conception is not part of the undivided patrimony, nor is it included in the divine revelation, therefore it is both impossible to dogmatize and an improper subject for dogmatization in the first place.

There is no reason for Latins to want to impose this doctrine upon the Christian East, save to demonstrate the supremacy of the Latin Church and the priority of its theology over others. There is no reason for the Orthodox to deny this doctrine to the West, since it is consistent with the Western Tradition on original sin, and the Fathers found no reason to contest the matter in their time. The fact is both East and West agree on the essential issue, which is Mary, in her lifetime, was preserved from all sin. We should be content to leave it at that.

Father Lawrence Cross likes to tell a story about his mother, a very devout Roman Catholic woman, who had serious concerns when Father Lawrence became a Greek Catholic and began ecumenical discussions with the Orthodox. Father Lawrence had a difficult time explaining the difference between Greek Catholics and the Orthodox to her. Exasperated, she finally asked him, "These Orthodox, do they love Our Lady?"

"Yes, Mum, probably more than we do".

"Well, it's all right, then".

Would that we all possessed similar wisdom and forebearance.


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Except of course that the Church Father who taught that she sinned by presumption and vainglory, Saint John Chrysostom, was precisely the man who wrote the Liturgy!!

And nobody has yet gotten to explaining the dichotomy between our Marian hymns, which extol the Virgin as "all-pure" with our Paschal hymn, "Having Beheld the Resurrection of Christ", which extols Christ as "the only sinless one".

Helps to remember that theology is not science, that ambiguity is essential when dealing with divine mysteries, and that holding opposites in dynamic tension has always been a part of our faith.

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I just see it as the security of Truth. The Western Church in the face of modernity and marrying of Western Society to Science decided it prudent to hold fast to an inherent belief. Mary was spotless, Immaculate, free of sin through the Grace of our Lord. She is referred to as such during the Hymns of the Divine Liturgy. The Latins have their way of defining it, but I think Eastern Christians should find a way within their own tradition to explain. Perhaps best for me (as a Byzantine), it's just another one of the Mysteries of God. By bearing Christ into the world in her humility and obedience to Christ, Mary remained the humble disciple. And through the Grace of God, she lived a humble life, an immaculate life as an example for us Christians. By this very virtue, she was allowed to have her body received into Heaven.

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Such statements of course must be read in conjunction with other statements like Dominus Jesus.

Dominus Iesus is a difficult document originally aimed at the Latin Church in India because of its syncretistic tendencies. It was never actually intended to reflect upon the Orthodox or any of the other Apostolic Churches, including the Eastern Catholic Churches. A classic example of crossed wires between to Vatican Dicasteries.

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Originally Posted by StuartK
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Except of course that the Church Father who taught that she sinned by presumption and vainglory, Saint John Chrysostom, was precisely the man who wrote the Liturgy!!

And nobody has yet gotten to explaining the dichotomy between our Marian hymns, which extol the Virgin as "all-pure" with our Paschal hymn, "Having Beheld the Resurrection of Christ", which extols Christ as "the only sinless one".

If we can exalt our Global Protos, the Patriarch of Constantinople, as His Most Divine All-Holiness (his correct title) then there's no problem with exalting the Mother of God with the same.

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Originally Posted by StuartK
And nobody has yet gotten to explaining the dichotomy between our Marian hymns, which extol the Virgin as "all-pure" with our Paschal hymn, "Having Beheld the Resurrection of Christ", which extols Christ as "the only sinless one".


Dear Stuart,

This contribution from the Melkites may help with understanding the dichotomy.

Much of this is metaphor and hyperbole. Both Orthodox and Eastern Catholics delight in it and never expect Roman Catholics to impose dogma on it or to extract dogma from it.


The response of the Catholic Melkites at Vatican II to the new title for the Mother of God "Mother of the Church" is very similar to the Orthodox response and highlights what I am trying to say.

We have no problem with heaping an infinite number of praises upon the Mother of God.

The Melkite response is well worth the read. Here is the crux of it.


"It will have been noticed that during the passionate debates that characterized the Council’s discussion of this schema “On the Virgin Mary,” Patriarch Maximos and the Melkite Greek Fathers refused to intervene. They were astonished to their very depths at the importance that was attached to recognizing or refusing this new title “Mother of the Church” to the Theotokos.

"Accustomed to the poetic language of their liturgy, in which the Virgin is saluted with a thousand titles, they had no trouble in accepting this new title, if it is interpreted in a large, liturgical, and poetic sense, or in refusing it, if it is interpreted in a sense that is too realistic and too literal."

-oOo-



Mary and the Church

The preparatory doctrinal commission had begun by preparing an independent schema entitled: “On the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mother of Men.” On June 5, 1962, the patriarch wrote to praise two intentions expressed in the text, namely: no new title for the Virgin, no new Marian dogma. But already he had been struck by the absence in the text of patristic citations, above all Eastern ones, in a domain which the Eastern Fathers have explored superabundantly. Only popes are cited.


1) We agree entirely with the care demonstrated by the theological commission in not granting to the holy Mother of God any new titles that have not been accepted by the Tradition of the Church.


2) We equally agree with the care to avoid defining new Marian dogmas, in spite of the pressure, as blind as it is well intentioned, of certain groups of devotees of the Virgin. In this matter, as in so many others, we must never lose sight of our separated brethren, above all those of the East, and avoid that which, in our efforts to honor the Virgin, deepens the chasm that separates us from them. The Virgin surely is not pleased by a homage that unnecessarily contributes to the widening of the divisions among her children.


3) We would point out, with respect to the drafting of the notes, that one should not be content with citing popes, especially in a matter on which the Fathers of the Church have spoken so much and so well. We must avoid giving the impression that in the eyes of the theologians of the council only popes form the magisterium of the Church. With a unionist goal, it would even be good to cite in particular the Fathers of the Eastern Church.



It will have been noticed that during the passionate debates that characterized the Council’s discussion of this schema “On the Virgin Mary,” Patriarch Maximos and the Melkite Greek Fathers refused to intervene. They were astonished to their very depths at the importance that was attached to recognizing or refusing this new title “Mother of the Church” to the Theotokos. Accustomed to the poetic language of their liturgy, in which the Virgin is saluted with a thousand titles, they had no trouble in accepting this new title, if it is interpreted in a large, liturgical, and poetic sense, or in refusing it, if it is interpreted in a sense that is too realistic and too literal.

Nevertheless, Patriarch Maximos, urged to speak, began to prepare the intervention that we publish below. Finally, he decided not to deliver it. This was in the 1963 session.


Before entering into a study of this schema “Concerning the Blessed Virgin Mary,” it is proper to ask ourselves this question: Is it necessary that this Second Vatican Council, already swamped with questions, devote a special dogmatic constitution to the most holy Mother of God?


For my part [the Melkite Patriarch], I do not think so. ...


Please go to (.pfd)
http://melkite.org/xCouncil/Council%20Chapter%204.doc

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Originally Posted by Subdeacon Borislav
I think the institution of immaculate conception of the Virgin was brought about by the fact that the West does not differentiate between personal, ancestral and original sin. Of the three, only personal sin defiles.

Actually, the West very much differentiates between these things, as any reading of Latin theological works will attest.

Peace and God bless!

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Much of this is metaphor and hyperbole.

So I have said myself. One cannot properly interpret the texts without placing them in the context of the Byzantine rhetorical tradition.

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Both Orthodox and Eastern Catholics delight in it and never expect Roman Catholics to impose dogma on it or to extract dogma from it.

Alas! There is a bad tendency in the Latin Church to "proof text" patristic, conciliar and liturgical texts (perhaps due to their apologetic experience with Protestant biblical proof texting?); thus we see the rather mundane acclamation of the Council of Chalcedon ("Peter has spoken with the mouth of Leo") employed as a proof of papal infallibility in the early Church. That dozens of such acclamations can be found applied to other bishops, and even to the Emperor, seems not to make much impact: in this one instance, it was applied to Pope Leo, and must be taken literally.

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"Accustomed to the poetic language of their liturgy, in which the Virgin is saluted with a thousand titles, they had no trouble in accepting this new title, if it is interpreted in a large, liturgical, and poetic sense, or in refusing it, if it is interpreted in a sense that is too realistic and too literal."

This is the key point. Anyone familiar with the Akathistos understands that, rather than either leaving the mystery in silence, or (per the Latins) attempting a precise definition of the mystery, we envelop the mystery in a radiant garment of metaphors.

With regard to the intervention prepared by His Beatitude, it is indeed a shame that it was not completed and delivered to the Council. As with many other issues, the influence of the Melkite contingent at Vatican II was out of all proportion to its numbers. My respect and appreciation for Patriarch Maximos IV, his succesor, Maximos V, and the present Patriarch Gregorios III, has continued to grow since I first became familiar with them. Indeed, I believe of all the Greek Catholic Churches, the Melkite Church is the only one which understands and is determined to preserve at all costs, the fullness of its ecclesial Tradition against all encroachments, explicit and implicit, of the Latin Church, understanding that this is the only way in which the unity of the Church of Antioch will be restored,

It probably explains why I feel much more affinity for the Melkites than I do for the Ruthenian Church into which I was baptized, and why some of my more zealous Latin acquaintances have accused me of the heresy of "Zoghbyism"--though I admit I did not hear that one mentioned in the Anathemas on the Sunday of Orthodoxy.

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As a Byzantine Catholic I am bound by Pope Pius IX. We simply have to get over this idea that there is a Western theology and a separate and distinct Eastern theology which allows us to reject what we might not feel comfortable with. If the Church is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, then so is the faith. What's the point of being in union with Rome if we're not going to be in union with Rome?

As a Byzantine Catholic I am in Communion with the Holy See. I am in communion with Rome because I feel that it is needed to be fully Orthodox ( I know some will disagree with me and that’s fine) So with that being said, I don't think we need to get over the idea of a Western and an Eastern Theology. They are two different theological approaches. The Church is one, holy, catholic and apostolic and the faith is also but there are different ways in which we express the one Apostolic Faith. Union with Rome doesn't mean we have to be submissive to Roman theology- the Holy See doesn't want that.

The Apostolic faith is expressed differently in different areas. The Immaculate conception of the Theotokos (or lack there of, according to some) in Western and Eastern theology is a great example. We can live out the one faith in a unity of diversity.

I guess I am also a followr of Zoghbyism

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