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I'm almost embarrassed to ask this, thinking I should probably know the answer by now, but.....can someone explain to me whether Eastern Catholic ecclesiology is identical to Orthodox ecclesiology, and if not, where and how do they differ? If it's too difficult to explain perhaps there's a book or article that discusses it?

Many thanks!

In Christ,
JM

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It should be close to the Orthodox. Here's a plug for Fr. Bryan Eyman's talk


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JM,

Hmmm ... interesting question. I suppose the simple answer would be that theoretically, we accept the Pope of Rome as the "First Among Equals," but in practice we accept his authority more-or-less the same as other Catholics.

(Now, if that sounds a little crazy, remember that many Orthodox accept us as brothers in Christ, while more than a few regard us as apostates and worse--and yet they're all in communion.)


Peace,
Deacon Richard

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Thanks for that, Fr. Deacon!

LOL! I've always had an issue with the whole "first among equals" thing, never having fully understood it. But that's meat for another meal, probably.

I love how you put it: "...we accept his authority more-or-less the same as other Catholics." I'm thinking that it's the "more-or-less" part that needs some elaboration or clarification. Is it more? How so? Is it less? How so?

And...is the issue of Papal authority the ONLY thing that differentiates Eastern Catholic ecclesiology from Orthodox ecclesiology?

I remember during my catechesis prior to my baptism/chrismation/Communion into the ByzCath Church I asked my priest about the whole issue of the Pope, his "infallibility", his authority, etc. He changed the subject VERY quickly. smile

In Christ,
JM

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I think fr. Bryan's primer is very helpful

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Okie dokie. I'll have a looksee soon as I get a chance.

Or...maybe you could summarize it in relation to my questions?

Thanks!

JM

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Sure: he touches on the bottom up mentality of Eastern Christians; the emphasis on the local bishop/diocese(eparchy) forming the one holy catholic apostolic church. How all the bishops of the respective eparchies are in communion with each other; and, in turn, they're in communion and under the pastoral care of the metropolitan.

If applicable, various metropolitans (if not primates) are in communion with each other; and under the pastoral care of their primate (patriarch) and all the patriarchs are in communion with each other. And, there will be a first among equals amid the various patriarchs.

I know it's rather rough, and basic, but I think the Latin church should hold the same view, it's just their attitude is quite top heavy, at times.

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Thanks for that!

But, my concern is not so much about Eastern *Christian* ecclesiology so much as the difference(s) if any between Eastern Catholic and Orthodox ecclesiology.

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Nothing really different, to be honest. I suppose, from my very limited reach, Eastern Catholic jurisdictions (only some) could take on a more synodal character, on the local dioecesan level.

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Dear brother Epiphanius,

In the OO world, Patriarchs are also regarded as being "first among equals" with a "primacy of honor." But no way no how will you ever hear an OO claim that his Patriarch does not have jurisdiction in his entire Church or that his Patriarch does not have a real authority over his suffragan brother bishops. I think the terms "primacy of honor" and "first among equals" have a different meaning among many EO than it does among the OO.

Blessings

Originally Posted by Epiphanius
JM,

Hmmm ... interesting question. I suppose the simple answer would be that theoretically, we accept the Pope of Rome as the "First Among Equals," but in practice we accept his authority more-or-less the same as other Catholics.

(Now, if that sounds a little crazy, remember that many Orthodox accept us as brothers in Christ, while more than a few regard us as apostates and worse--and yet they're all in communion.)


Peace,
Deacon Richard

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The ecclesiologies are practically identical, except with respect to the position of the universal primate.

There is not a singular point of view in EO'xy on that matter. The one that comes closest to Catholic ecclesiology (practically identical, imo) is the ecclesiological position of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The EP position is summarized as follows:
(1) There is a primate on the universal level;
(2) Head bishops on every level of the hierarchy have actual jurisdiction, and is not a primacy of mere honor, according to Canon 3 (Constantinople) and Canon 28 (Chalcedon).
(3) Though the primus is required to always work with his brother bishops, the authority of the primate is inherent in the office of primacy, not delegated by the Synod.
(4) The justification for this primacy is primarily theological (not canonical) modeled after the Primacy of the Father in the Trinity.

NOTE: The only difference from the Catholic pov is that the theological justificiation is Christ's divine establishment, instead of the theological analogy with the Primacy of the Father in the Trinity.

Another ecclesiological perspective on the primacy comes from the ROC. It can be summarized as follows (note the differences from the EP position):
(1) There is a primate on the universal level;
(2) The primacy of a head bishop on the metropolitan and patriarchal levels have jurisdiction, but it is not identical to the jurisdiction that a local bishop has in his local diocese. The primacy of a head bishop on the universal level has no jurisdiction, but is a primacy of mere honor;
(3) Though authority of the primate is delegated by the Synod.
(4) The justification for this primacy is purely canonical borne of historical circumstances.

Then, there is what I call a "Low Petrine view," wildly popular among lay EO apologists. It's positions are:
(1) There is no such thing as a head bishop on the universal level;
(2) Head bishops have no jurisdiction whatsoever except in their own diocese since the primacy of every head bishop is only one of mere honor.
(3) Head bishops are canonical entities borne of historical circumstances.

I hope that helps.

BLessings

Originally Posted by J Michael
I'm almost embarrassed to ask this, thinking I should probably know the answer by now, but.....can someone explain to me whether Eastern Catholic ecclesiology is identical to Orthodox ecclesiology, and if not, where and how do they differ? If it's too difficult to explain perhaps there's a book or article that discusses it?

Many thanks!

In Christ,
JM

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Originally Posted by mardukm
The ecclesiologies are practically identical, except with respect to the position of the universal primate.

There is not a singular point of view in EO'xy on that matter. The one that comes closest to Catholic ecclesiology (practically identical, imo) is the ecclesiological position of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The EP position is summarized as follows:
(1) There is a primate on the universal level;
(2) Head bishops on every level of the hierarchy have actual jurisdiction, and is not a primacy of mere honor, according to Canon 3 (Constantinople) and Canon 28 (Chalcedon).
(3) Though the primus is required to always work with his brother bishops, the authority of the primate is inherent in the office of primacy, not delegated by the Synod.
(4) The justification for this primacy is primarily theological (not canonical) modeled after the Primacy of the Father in the Trinity.

NOTE: The only difference from the Catholic pov is that the theological justificiation is Christ's divine establishment, instead of the theological analogy with the Primacy of the Father in the Trinity.

Another ecclesiological perspective on the primacy comes from the ROC. It can be summarized as follows (note the differences from the EP position):
(1) There is a primate on the universal level;
(2) The primacy of a head bishop on the metropolitan and patriarchal levels have jurisdiction, but it is not identical to the jurisdiction that a local bishop has in his local diocese. The primacy of a head bishop on the universal level has no jurisdiction, but is a primacy of mere honor;
(3) Though authority of the primate is delegated by the Synod.
(4) The justification for this primacy is purely canonical borne of historical circumstances.

Then, there is what I call a "Low Petrine view," wildly popular among lay EO apologists. It's positions are:
(1) There is no such thing as a head bishop on the universal level;
(2) Head bishops have no jurisdiction whatsoever except in their own diocese since the primacy of every head bishop is only one of mere honor.
(3) Head bishops are canonical entities borne of historical circumstances.

I hope that helps.

BLessings

Originally Posted by J Michael
I'm almost embarrassed to ask this, thinking I should probably know the answer by now, but.....can someone explain to me whether Eastern Catholic ecclesiology is identical to Orthodox ecclesiology, and if not, where and how do they differ? If it's too difficult to explain perhaps there's a book or article that discusses it?

Many thanks!

In Christ,
JM

Yes, thank you for that. Something for me to chew on a bit. smile

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Originally Posted by J Michael
Yes, thank you for that. Something for me to chew on a bit. smile
Yes, brother. Though the EP position is very close to the CC position (and can serve as a very plausible basis for reunion), there is a lot to chew on.

Permit me to explain what I perceive to be the distinction between the two theological approaches of the EP, on the one hand, and the CC, on the other.

The CC's theological basis for the primacy (divine establishment by Christ) has a more temporal aspect (i.e., apostolic succession) than the EP's position. Conversely, the EP's position has a more mystical aspect than the CC's position. The practical result is that while the CC position would attach the Primacy to a specific temporal succession, the EP's position is not so constrained. The EP's position allows doctrinal orthodoxy to be the overarching condition for Primacy.

Now, it cannot be denied that the Catholic Church does teach that doctrinal orthodoxy is also a condition for Primacy (as an aside, I seriously doubt any Eastern or Oriental Orthodox Christians reunited/reunites with Rome unless they had a sincere belief that the Pope was/is o/Orthodox). Nor can it be denied that the Orthodox Churches in general teach that valid apostolic succession is also a condition for Primacy (as an aside, this is different from the Protestant perspective that makes doctrinal orthodoxy the sole reason for leadership - which allows thousands of different Protestant denominations to exist since every single one of those thousands of leaders believe they are each doctrinally orthodox). I guess, like a lot of other things in the doctrinal divide between Orthodox and Catholics, it is a matter of emphasis.

As I've always maintained (from a High Petrine perspective anyway), the real divide is in the doctrinal differences, not ecclesiology. To clarify, I am distinguishing between doctrine (teaching) and dogma (belief). I do believe (naively, some would say) that the Catholic and Orthodox Churches share the same dogmas. The divide lies in the doctrines - that is, the ecclesiastical, yet all too human, expressions of those dogmas. Our differing doctrines are, imo, simply different "languages" trying to express the same core beliefs. Theological dialogue is really a process of translation.

Blessings

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Thanks, Mardukm! Always interesting to read your posts.

So, all the above gives rise to another question, and probably quite a loaded one at that, but I gotta ask---if Eastern *Catholic* and Orthodox ecclesiologies are virtually identical, would it be fair to say that Eastern Catholics are really just paying lip-service to the (Roman) Catholic dogmas of papal supremacy and infallibility in order to remain in communion with Rome? (Remember my anecdote above about my priest changing the subject when I asked him about it?) Do many/most/all Eastern Catholics really hold a much more Orthodox view of the Pope than a Roman one and just tend to ignore what comes from Rome? (Btw, I'm not trolling here; these are sincere questions arising from some conflicted thoughts and feelings I've been experiencing lately.)

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Dear brother J Michael,

I will formulate a more detailed response later in the week. For now, here's a quickie.

I do not believe that Eastern and Oriental Catholics who are in the Catholic Church pay lip-service to the dogmas of supremacy and infallibility. There are so many nuances to that statement that I don't have time to get into right now (but I will later in the week). Every Catholic believes in the necessity of a primus on the universal level of the Church. Most EO believe the same, despite differences in understanding/belief about the role of that primus (except the EO Low Petrine advocates who don't believe there is even such a thing as a head bishop on the universal level). These differences in understanding within EO'xy are most likely also present within Eastern and Oriental Catholicism. Nevertheless, there is the common belief among Catholics of the necessity of the primus on the universal level.

Further, what distinguishes us from the Orthodox at present is that we DO believe the papacy of Rome does represent the o/Orthodox Faith. The theological dialogue will iron this out eventually. When it has been determined by the Orthodox through the theological dialogues that the Roman papacy does indeed represent the o/Orthodox Faith, then the bishop of Rome will naturally reacquire his primacy among them (something Eastern and Oriental Catholics already affirm) - caveat, such a hope is more likely to bear fruit with the EO Churches within the EP's sphere of influence rather than the MP's.

Just a preview of my future post on the details of the nuances to which I earlier referred:
I'm not sure if you have ever read my presentations on what I have termed the Absolutist Petrine and High Petrine views on the papacy within the Catholic Church. It is the High Petrine view that is practically identical to the EP's position which I noted earlier. The High Petrine view was the official position of the Commission De Fide that was responsible for formulating the Decrees on the papacy at Vatican 1. This official position was expressed in the Relatio of Bishop Gasser of Brixen regarding the infallibility, and another Relatio by a bishop whose-name-I currently-forget regarding the primacy. These were the official spokesmen for the Commission De Fide at Vatican 1. The Relatio of Bishop Gasser first came to light only in the 1930's, and it has not, until very recently, gotten much public attention among Catholics (through a recent publication by Ignatius Press - I forget the name at the moment). The other Relatio is even more obscure, I'm afraid.

The Relatios offered a very different understanding of the papal prerogatives than what you hear from both Absolutist Petrine advocates and detractors of the papacy. Bishop Gasser's Relatio was in fact used as a reference for the V2 Divine Constitution on the Church, which affirmed the Church's official teaching on collegiality. The difference was stark enough to cause the SSPX to split from the Catholic Church over the matter (well, at least that was one of the reasons for their rebellion against V2).

Granted, there are Eastern Catholics who believe the dogmas of V1 should be put in the dustbin for reunion to occur. I suspect that such Catholics think that the papacy is something akin to what the SSPX wish it to be. And I can't really blame such Eastern Catholics, for there are a LOT of Catholics, especially Latin Catholics, who have the same misunderstanding of the papacy as the SSPX, and advertise their misunderstanding as the actual teaching of the Catholic Church on the matter. I, for one, do not believe it is necessary, nor appropriate, to get rid of the V1 dogmas for reunion to occur. The V1 dogmas are true. What is necessary is not a repudiation of the V1 dogmas, but a proper understanding of them, according to the original intentions of the Fathers who formulated the Decrees in the Commission De Fide of V1, NOT according to the Absolutist Petrine exaggerators and distorters, both within the Catholic Church and in the SSPX.

Well, that's it, for now. I'll post more on this some time this weekend.

Blessings,
Marduk

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